in peace I will both lie down and sleep

Father, as the light fades on another day, we thank You. We thank You for family and friends, for provision, for food and water, for shelter, for the ability to move and create, for work for our hands and our mind, for gifts to bless others.

Lord, we are mindful that there are others out there who are lacking tonight. Lacking loved ones, lacking food and shelter, lacking work and others who are sick. We lift them all up to You and pray that You would provide. You are Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides. Send someone to offer kindness. Provide food for the hungry. A job for those unemployed. And strength and healing for all those who are sick. Wrap them all in Your loving arms and hold them close. Draw near to all those in need tonight. Need wears many faces. It all looks different, but the truth is, we all need You, Lord.

Father, we open our hands and our hearts, as we ask You to show us how we may best serve You tomorrow. Open our eyes to the opportunities You have placed in our path. Quicken us to know when there is a need that You have chosen us to meet. And thank You that You will give us the wisdom and resources necessary to fulfill that which You call us to do. Lord, fill us with Your love and grace that it might spill over on to others. Let us be characterized by Your love.

As we lay down tonight, grant us sweet sleep, O God. Give us adequate rest so that we wake up refreshed and ready for a new day. Father, we thank You and praise You for loving us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

behold the former things

 

Is there someone you love that doesn’t know the Lord? Perhaps a family member? A spouse? A son or daughter?

Have you tried to talk to them and feel like you fail every time?

I take great comfort in the testimony of the Apostle Paul. Paul was a Pharisee and a murderer of Christians in the first century. He was even proud of the work he was doing. But one day, on his way to Damascus, he met up with none other than Jesus Himself. The Risen Savior. And Paul’s life would never be the same.

Paul recounts his experience to King Agrippa in Acts 26:

 

So then, all Jews know my manner of life from my youth up, which from the beginning was spent among my own nation and at Jerusalem; since they have known about me for a long time previously, if they are willing to testify, that I lived as a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of our religion… So then, I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, but also when they were being put to death I cast my vote against them… While thus engaged as I was journeying to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests, at midday, O King, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining all around me and those who were journeying with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” And I said, “Who art Thou, Lord?” And the Lord said, ” I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”

Acts 26:4-5,9-10,12-15

Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus and Jesus transformed him into a great evangelist who led many to faith in Christ.

This is so encouraging to me. It reminds me that nothing {and no one} is too hard for the Lord.


 

Father, I come to You today with a heavy heart for those that don’t know You. I lift up these dear loved ones, {insert names}, to You. I pray that You would open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light, from Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in You. (Acts 26:18)

Father, I earnestly ask that You deliver {insert names} from the domain of darkness and transfer them to the kingdom of Your beloved Son, in whom they may have redemption and the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13)

O God, let {insert names} hear Your message of truth, the gospel of their salvation and believe in You. (Ephesians 1:13) I pray that You would bring these dearly love near to You by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13) O Merciful Father, have mercy on {insert names}, pour out Your great love on them and show them Your tremendous kindness, for Your kindness leads to repentance. (Romans 2:4) Melt their hearts as only You can.

Open the eyes that are blind, bring out the prisoners from the dungeon and those who dwell in darkness from the prison. (Isaiah 42:7) Let them sing a new song, a song of praise to You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

lead me to the rock

There’s hardly a day that goes by that I don’t ask the Lord for guidance. In every area of my life, something always seems to pop up that stumps me. Whether it’s issues involving my young adult daughters or working at our family business or just life, in general. I have a constant need for God’s counsel and His guiding hand.

In His word, He promises to lead us if we will ask Him. That’s what we will do today. I don’t know what your particular situation is, but God does. Let’s bring it to Him.


 

Father, I bow in reverence to You this day. How I thank You and praise You that You have not left us as orphans (John 14:18) but You are Immanuel, God with us.(Matthew 1:23) You are near. O God, in the midst of all the decisions that we have to make, lean in close. Let us know Your nearness. Shine on us the light of Your Presence.

 

Father, as You led Your people in the wilderness by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night to give light (Exodus 13:21), lead us. Lead us to the Rock that is higher than we are. For You are our refuge, a tower of strength from the enemy. Let us dwell in Your tent forever. Let us take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. (Psalm 61:2-4)

 

You are good and upright, therefore You instruct sinners in their way. You lead the humble in justice and teach the humble Your way. All of Your paths are lovingkindness and truth to those who keep Your covenant and Your testimonies.(Psalm 25:8-10) If we’ve made bad choices, show us where we’ve gone astray and lead us in Your way which is everlasting.

I pray that You would prevent us from walking in the counsel of the wicked or standing in the path of sinners or sitting in the seat of scoffers but, I pray, that our delight would be in Your law and on it, we would meditate day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2)

 

You promise that by Your Spirit, You will guide us into all truth (John 16:13) and teach us, bringing into remembrance all that You have said in Your word. (John 14:26) Guide us and teach us, we pray. We live in an age of information overload. Messages are being thrown at us constantly. The world we live in can subtly influence our decision making. Speak to us, Lord. Let Your people hear Your voice. Let us trust in You with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding, but in all our ways acknowledge You and You will make our paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6) In the name of the Mighty Counselor and Prince of Peace, Jesus, Amen.

let the peoples praise Thee

A prayer to begin our work week. Blessings to all of you as you go.

 

Father, I come to You bowing in my heart with arms open, hands lifted in praise and thanksgiving for who You are and for loving us. Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty. Righteous and true are Your ways, O King of the nations. Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all the nations will come and worship before You, for Your righteous acts have been revealed. (Revelation 15:3-4)

 

Father, be gracious to us and bless us, and cause Your face to shine upon us, that Your way may be known on the earth, Your salvation among the nations. Let the peoples praise You, O God. Let all the peoples praise You. Let the nations be glad and sing for joy. For You will judge the peoples with uprightness and guide the nations on the earth. Let the peoples praise You, let all the peoples praise You.( Psalm 67: 1-5)

 

Lord, as we go out into the world this week, anoint us to be a blessing. Crown us with Your lovingkindness, Your graciousness, Your compassion, that we might lift another’s burden or brighten someone’s day. Let us not be solely concerned with our own affairs, but open our eyes to the needs of those around us. Above all, we ask that You manifest through us the sweet aroma of knowledge of You in every place. (2 Corinthians 2:14)

 

Make us brave, Lord. Show us, O God, how to give out the Word, the message of truth, the gospel of our salvation, that others may come to saving faith in You. (Ephesians 1:13)

 

Direct our steps as we go. Let the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, My Rock and My Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14) In the name of the One who has redeemed us by His blood and set us in this grace in which we now stand, Jesus, Amen.

a new song in my mouth

“You have left your first love.” The words jumped off the page at me and I melted into a puddle of tears.

I had come back to Bible study after taking a couple of years off. Prior to that, I had spent years studying, leading, teaching and writing Bible studies. Then my life seemed to fall apart. A few dear friendships disintegrated. My marriage was in jeopardy. And we left our church of 14 years. I felt like I had been hit by a speeding train. I was grief-stricken, scared and very confused. The following two years were incredibly painful.

My faith was shaken. Spiritually, I went on autopilot. I loved God, but for a while I held Him at arm’s length, because He scared me. I went through the motions with Him. I prayed and still read my Bible, but I stayed in the shallow end.

After a couple of years, a friend invited me to Bible study. I protested. She insisted. So I went. It was a study on Revelation. I thought that would be safe. End times, lots of symbolism, facts and timelines. No heart stuff. Perfect.

Little did I know that the first week of homework would leave me weeping on the floor. In Chapter 2 of Revelation, Jesus speaks to the Church at Ephesus and on that particular day He spoke to me. “I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance…, but I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore, remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first.” (Revelation 2:2-4)

You see, when my life started to fall apart, I went into overdrive to put all the pieces back together again. I stopped Bible study and all ministry and focused on my marriage and relationships. But down deep, in the place no body knows, I was brokenhearted. I thought the One I loved most had let me down. I was wrong about that.

God was so faithful to restore my marriage, my friendships and most importantly, my relationship with Him.

Do you need restoration? Are you like me and think that God has let you down? I can promise you that no matter what you are going through, He is for you and not against you. And He wants you to return to Him.


 Father, I come to You, in reverence and humility. You are good, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness. (Numbers 14:18) This life can leave us broken and bruised. We can so easily become cynical and hard-hearted. From hurt. The enemy would have us believe that You have disappointed us or held out on us. O God, quicken us to know that You are always for us and never against us. (Romans 8:31) And that nothing can separate us from Your love. (Romans 8:35)

 

Lord, I know firsthand that we can close the door to our hearts because we’re afraid of You. O God, knock the door down and draw us to Yourself. You are the answer to all our questions and the solution to all our problems. Come after those of us who have been knocked down by life. Those who are hurting so bad they can’t pray, perhaps they can barely function. Father, you are close to the brokenhearted and save all those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18) Come nearer, Lord.

 

Show Yourself to those who are running away from you that You are the good Shepherd. And that You have laid down Your life them. (John 10:11) To give us all life. To the full. (John 10:10) O Lord, my heart is so tender to those who feel their life is falling apart. Wrap them in Your loving arms and speak to them. Your word that brings life and healing and hope.

 

Restore them, O God, put a new song in their mouths, a song of praise to You, then many will see and fear and will trust in You. (Psalm 40:3) In the name of the Healer and Restorer, Jesus, Amen.

Linking up over at Barbie’s place for The Weekend Brew! Join us!

wake up!

 

A couple of months ago I received an email from a friend. Attached was an article about movements going on within the church. When I say church, I mean, the church at large. Particularly, in this country. The article did some name calling and addressed issues that left my head spinning.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and another friend forwarded a few more articles about the same concerns for the church. This time it was obvious the Lord was trying to get my attention. And He did.

I’ve been increasingly concerned about trends which have infiltrated our churches and are leading people away from the truth. Things like pragmatism, which is basically man’s philosophy of doing and creating that which brings about desired results. Working the church like a business. Bringing in volumes of people. Adjusting the message so that it’s attractive to the skeptics.  Sound familiar?

How about relativism? This is the belief that various things are true for different people. No absolutes. Meaning, what’s true for me may not be true for you, etc… And it’s trickling in to the pulpits. Churches are changing their views on sin. Doctrine they have held for centuries that is based on God’s word. Why are they changing their minds? Because of the pressure of a relativistic society which doesn’t support absolutes.

We are in real trouble here. We need to wake up from our spiritual slumber and be alert to what’s going on in the body of Christ and stand for Truth.


Father, I come before You today asking that You wake us up. I ask that You open our eyes and quicken our minds to the knowledge of what’s going on around us and in our churches. You are clear in Your word that we are to extract the precious from the worthless in our worship of You. (Jeremiah 15:19) You are a holy God. Lord, wake us up from our spiritual sleep and strengthen the things in us that remain. Complete those things in us that are pleasing in Your sight. (Revelation 3:2) Make us remember what we have received and heard and move in our hearts to repent if we have strayed from Your truth. Lord, You have called us to be separate, holy to You. (2 Corinthians 6:17) Help us to love others and yet never compromise the truth of Your word and Your ways.

 

Father, Your eyes move to and fro throughout the earth that You may strongly support those whose heart is completely Yours. (2 Chronicles 16:9) Lord, give us singleness of heart. Put a new spirit within us. Take the heart of stone out and give us a heart of flesh that we may walk in Your statutes and keep Your ordinances and do them. Then we will be Your people and You will be our God. (Ezekiel 11:19-20)

 

Father, we will fall for the tricks of the enemy every time if we don’t know You and know Your word. O God, I earnestly ask that You write Your law on our hearts, put Your law within us. (Jeremiah 31:33) Make us ever watchful, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for us to awaken from sleep, for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. (Romans 13:11) Lord, help us to be careful how we walk, not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of our time, because the days are evil. Let us not be foolish, but understand what Your will is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

if anyone hears my voice

 

We live in a world of noise. Television, radio, machinery, cars, airplanes, sirens, everything is either talking at us or whirring around us.

Experts say that excessive noise can actually cause health problems, lowering our immune system and causing stress and anxiety.

With all the voices clamoring to be heard, how can we hear from God? He is a gentleman and is waiting for us to tune our ears to hear what He is saying.

He is always speaking. But do we take the time to listen?

One of my favorite things to do when I was growing up, was to wake up before sunrise and sit on my grandparent’s back porch with my grandfather. He would light his pipe and we would stare out at a sea palmettos and tall pines and watch as night turned into day. The sun would creep ever so slowly up through the trees as we sat in the stillness and listened as the world came to life. Turtle doves, whippoorwills, the cattle in the distance. In the stillness you could discern each sound. But we had to come and sit for a moment or we would miss it.

What moments await us if we would but pause in stillness and listen to God.


Father, I come to pause in the quiet to ask You speak to us over the clamor. Lord, voices compete for our attention starting early in the morning. I pray that You would remind us each day to turn our ears to You. Teach us to begin every morning listening for Your voice, Your word. In the quiet. Expecting to hear.

 

Father, we once walked as the Gentiles walked, in the futility of our mind, darkened in our understanding and excluded from life with You, because of the ignorance that was in us and because of the hardness of our heart. (Ephesians 4:17-18) But, Lord we have laid that aside and ask that You renew us in the spirit of our minds. (Ephesians 4:23)

 

Tune our ears to You, Lord God. Let us be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger. (James 1:19) And I pray that we would put aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness and in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save our souls. And that we prove ourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude ourselves. (James 1:21-22)

 

Show us Your lovingkindness, O Lord, and grant us Your salvation. Let us hear what You are saying, for You will speak peace to Your people, to Your godly ones. (Psalm 85:7-8) Send out Your light and Your truth, and let them lead us. Let them bring us to Your holy hill, to Your dwelling place and we will go to Your altar, to You our exceeding joy. (Psalm 42:3-4)

Give us ears to hear, Lord, and speak. We are here and we are in need of You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

in your light

 

“I have 20/20 vision. I always have.”, I told my eye doctor, some 22 years ago shortly after I had my first child.

He chuckled to himself and said, “Well, Mrs. Cooke, it’s not 20/20 anymore. That happens many times after women have babies.”

Funny how you can roll along thinking that you can see perfectly, when in fact, you’re vision is slightly off.

It can happen to us spiritually as well. God has quite a bit to say about our spiritual eyes in His word. It is quite possible to be walking in darkness and not discern the darkness. If we reject God’s truth and insist on having our own way, He will give us over to our own rebellion. Our rebellion will usher in spiritual darkness. Spiritual blindness. I know this one firsthand.

The cure for spiritual blindness is choosing God’s ways over our own. Step by step. To walk in the truth of His word, not our feelings or popular opinion. To be prayed up. Coming before Him in humility and repentance daily. And finally, to feed on His word, meditating on it and letting it nourish us.


 

Lord, I come today asking You to shine the light of Your presence on us. You are the Light of the world. You promise that those who follow You shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12)

Father, many of us are walking in darkness and don’t even know it. We have given ourselves over to lies and they have blinded us to Your truth. Open our eyes that we may see and may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to You in order that we may receive forgiveness of our sin and an inheritance among those being sanctified by faith in You. (Acts 26:18) O God, the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they may not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4)

 

O Lord, pour out Your Spirit on us, give us a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of You. I pray that the eyes of our hearts be enlightened, so that we may know what is the hope of Your calling, what are the riches of the glory of Your inheritance in the saints and what is the surpassing greatness of Your power to us who believe. (Ephesians 1;17-19) I pray that our love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that we may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ, having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ.(Philippians 1:9-11)

 

Father, You have revealed Your wrath from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.. For even though they knew You, they did not honor You as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools. (Romans 1:18,21-22) Have mercy on us, O Lord, and lead us in Your truth. Open our eyes, that we may behold wonderful things from Your law.(Psalm 119:18) Turn away our eyes from looking at vanity, and revive me in Your ways. (Psalm 119:37) In Jesus’ holy and precious name, Amen.

we know that we are of God

 

You don’t have to spend much time reading the newspaper or watching the news to know that evil is on the rise.

Tragedies mark every headline. You can hardly get away from the barrage of bad news. I mean it really takes effort these days to find uplifting stories to garner some hope in humanity.

 

We need Jesus. And we need protection from the evil one.

When Jesus taught the disciples to pray, He included a prayer of protection from the evil one. (Matthew 6:13) Jesus knows that the enemy lies in wait. He schemes and connives his way into people’s lives everyday. He’s been doing it for thousands of years. We must have a heightened awareness of his tactics by devoting ourselves to prayer and the study of God’s word so that we will not be lured into his traps.


 

Father, I come to You today, bowing in my heart, asking for protection from the evil one. Lord, we are assailed moment by moment with images on television, the internet, books and newspapers that leave us vulnerable to sin of every kind. Surround us with Your divine hedge of protection. Encompass us round about with Your strength and Your might. Let all who take refuge in You be glad, let them ever sing for joy. And may You shelter us, that those who love Your name may exult in You. For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O LORD, You surround him favor as with a shield. (Psalm 5:11-12)

 

Lord, I ask that You protect our minds. Father, the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:6) O God, set our minds on You. Let us not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds that we may prove what Your will is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2) Help us by the power of Your Spirit to think on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything is worthy of praise, let our minds dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8)

 

Strengthen us in the power of Your might, O God. Dress us in Your armor so that we can stand firm against the schemes of the devil. We know that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.(Ephesians 6:10-12)

 

You are our keeper, O Lord, the shade on our right hand. Protect us from all evil and keep our soul. Guard our going out and our coming in. From this time and forever. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

so shall my word be

I’m afraid that a pall has fallen. A veil is covering the eyes, the ears and the hearts of many. It’s a false sense that they are okay in their walk with God.

They pray. They go to church. Perhaps they tithe. And serve in some capacity. They go about their routine and feel just fine about their faith.

And yet. They haven’t read the Bible in months. Maybe years. Bible study is something they don’t have time for. Perhaps they question its relevance for their daily lives.

In an article in Biola Magazine, Kenneth Berding, Professor of New Testament at Biola’s Talbot School of Theology, quotes New Testament scholar David Nienhuis who summarizes his understanding of the situation in an article titled “The Problem of Evangelical Biblical Illiteracy: A View from the Classroom”:

 

For well over twenty years now, Christian leaders have been lamenting the loss of general biblical literacy in America. … Some among us may be tempted to seek odd solace in the recognition that our culture is increasingly post-Christian. … Much to our embarrassment, however, it has become increasingly clear that the situation is really no better among confessing Christians, even those who claim to hold the Bible in high regard.

God made it very clear about how we are to engage scripture when He spoke to Joshua after Moses had died.

This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

Joshua 1:8

 

The time is short. We must get back to the Bible so that we can discern the truth from the lies.  The enemy is afoot and Jesus said in the last days, false prophets will “show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.”(Matthew 24:24)


 

 

Father, I come to You today thanking and praising You for giving us Your word. Thank You that You have not left us as orphans but have given us everything we need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3) Father, we know that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. (1 John 5:19) Protect us from his schemes. Let us not be lead astray and do not let us be taken captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of this world, rather than according to Christ.(Colossians 2:8)

 

Lord, You tell us in Your word that your people go into exile for lack of knowledge, and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude is parched with thirst. (Isaiah 5:13) Stir the hearts of Your people to turn back to You with a hunger for Your word. Do not let us reject Your law and despise Your word, O God. (Isaiah 5:24) Have mercy on us, O Lord.

Stir us, Lord. Quicken our hearts to run to the Fountain of Living Waters and drink. To seek You while You may be found. To call upon You while You are near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts and let him return to You and You will have compassion on him. For You will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:6-7)

 

O God, Your thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are our ways Your ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are Your ways higher than our ways, and Your thoughts than our thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth,and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall Your word be which goes forth from Your mouth. It shall not return to You empty, without accomplishing that which You desire and without succeeding in the matter for which You sent it. (Isaiah 55:9-11)

 

Plant it deep in us, O God. Move in the hearts of Your people to feed and live on Your Word. In the name of the Word made flesh, Jesus, Amen.