Prayer For My Day

Heavenly Father,

I recognize that you are the King of Kings and The Lord of Lords. You are the creator of a universe so vast that we can barely comprehend it. You speak and galaxies come into existence. Your word is powerful and true. It always accomplishes what you want it to. You can see beyond the farthest star and choose to look into our hearts and lives. Jesus said that not even a sparrow falls without you knowing about it. You are deeply concerned with us and our world.

I know you see the turmoil that this world is engulfed in. There’s fighting between countries, terrorist who are killing innocents, Christians who are being persecuted and so many other evil things going on. It’s easy to look at all of that and be fearful. I pray that you would give me peace. Send your Holy Spirit to comfort me and to remind me of what you have said. You will not leave me or forsake me. You will not leave me abandoned even though the world appears to be falling apart.

I pray that you would help me to see others who are concerned about everything so I can remind them that you are in control. Help me to be an encourager to them. Give me words to speak so that they will have your peace as well. Use me today in someone’s life. Let me speak life into them. Give me words of hope. I don’t want to say anything that isn’t from you, so guide and direct my speech. I yield myself to you and your plan. I know that it is far better than the plan I have.

Thank you for all you’ve done for me. Thank you that you have always provided in my moment of need. I can’t think of a time when you didn’t come through just in time. You have been faithful to me even when I’ve been unfaithful to you. You’ve loved me when I haven’t shown you love. What you give me isn’t conditional on what I do. You freely give all you have because I’m your child. You are an amazing father who cares for me. I don’t say thank you enough for the consistency of your blessings. With all I have in me, I say, “Thank you!”

Watch over me today and protect me. Put people in my path that you want me to be a blessing to. Open my ears to hear your voice and give me the courage to do all that you ask of me. I want to walk by faith and not sight and that takes courage. I’ll step out in faith today if you ask me to. I’ll speak your words to someone in need if you prompt me to. I’ll be your hands and feet to whoever you ask me to because of all you’ve done for me. I love you and praise you.

In Jesus name,

Amen.

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Beautifully Broken

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Have you ever been in a church with stained glass windows on a sunny day? They are so beautiful. I love seeing them in churches especially when the glass tells a story. They will often have pictures of the disciples or the heroes of the faith in their time of need. When the light shines through, the room lights up with all the beautiful colors and you see the detail in the art. It’s amazing. I’ve had the privilege of seeing some of the most beautiful stained glass windows in Europe including Notre Dame and Westminster Abbey.

I’ve never made a stained glass window, but I’ve looked up the process. It takes a lot of time and preparation. Once you have the design of whys you want your art to look like, you then have to determine what colors and shapes it will take to make it the most beautiful. That’s when the process really begins. You then take glass, score it and break each piece. Until it is broken, it cannot become as beautiful as it can be. It’s in the brokenness that it can be put together with the other pieces to create the masterpiece that is planned.

Once the broken pieces broken, it’s then arranged on a marble slab. The pieces are then soldered together with foil. The soldering process is time consuming. It requires that the pieces of glass undergo intense heat and pressure. It may also require more breaking so that the pieces fit together better. It can be a while before you really start to see the progress of what’s happening and it’s not until it is held up and the light shines through it that it’s beauty is revealed.

Our lives are a lot like stained glass windows. God has a beautiful design and plan for each one of us. He sees all the individual pieces that make up our lives, and He knows that it’s not until we are broken in the right places that He can make something beautiful of our lives. We look at the broken pieces and see a mess. We feel the pains of being broken. He looks at them and sees His art. He sees how each broken piece of our life will fit together to create the story of our life.

It takes time, pressure and intense heat to put all of our broken pieces together. We try to crawl off the slab because the process is more than we can bear at times, but if we trust Him, He will be faithful to complete the good work He began in us. Once the process is complete, it’s not until we let His light shine through us that our true beauty is shown. It’s when we let others see the story of how God took a broken life and made something beautiful of it that other begin to appreciate what He’s doing in their life. God takes our brokenness and creates masterpieces. What story does your life tell?

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The Marathon Message

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There’s a story about a man named Pheidippides who lived in Greece in the fifth century. After fighting in a battle against the Persians, he ran from the town of Marathon to Athens to announce the outcome of the battle and that the Persians were headed there to attack. He burst into the assembly and shouted, “Victory!” Shortly thereafter, he collapsed and died. To honor what this man did, people now run about the same distance he did in Marathons. They push their bodies to run over 26 miles as fast as they can.

I’m reminded of the race that you and I are in. Paul told us in I Corinthians 9:24-26 that we need to run our race in order to win. He said that it’s for a temporary crown, but for an eternal one. He then finishes off by saying, “I run with purpose in every step.” Pheidippides ran with purpose as well. He knew that he had to get the message to Athens. He knew there would be trouble if he didn’t. I’m sure he was tired and sore from fighting all day in heavy armor, but he still ran. With every step, he thought about the message he had been given.

What about us? Are we running every step of our race thinking about the message we carry? There is no life too ordinary or too complicated that it is not our responsibility to carry and deliver His message. II Corinthians 4:7 says, “We carry this precious message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives.” Paul recognized that each one of us who have received Christ have this message in us. There’s no life to ordinary that you can’t share “Victory” with someone else. There are too many people who need to hear the Good News we carry for us to remain still and silent.

Eventually we will all get to the finish line. We will all have to stand before God and give an account of how we ran our race. Will the story your life tells be one where you kept the message bottled up and hidden or will it be one where you gave your all in this race so that others may know? If it’s the first of the two, the good news is that your race is not over. There is still time to run your race with purpose. There is still time for you to pick up the pace and to finish strong. When you get to the finish line, you want to be able to shout, “Victory!” And then be able to say like Paul did, “I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. All that’s left now is the shouting – God’s applause.”

Don’t get caught up in running for the applause of man. That’s the temporary crown that fades. The applause of God is what matters. The way to get the applause of God is to run this race for His glory, not our own. It’s to make His name known and not our own. This treasure that we have inside of us was meant to be shared. The message of Christ’s victory at the cross must be shouted in the assembly until all have heard. Until then, how can we rest? How can we live our lives without purpose? It’s why we were created. It is our purpose.

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Do You Hear Your Soul?

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It’s Free Friday! Today is the day you let go of the things in your life that keep you down or hold you back from all God has for you. To celebrate, I’m giving away a copy of “The Priest’s Graveyard” by Ted Dekker. Keep reading to find out how to enter.

I got to meet Ted Dekker and hear him speak at the Re:Write Conference. He shared his thoughts on writing, but more importantly, he shared about his faith. He played one of those videos where it starts on earth looking at a microorganism and pans out all the way out to space and somehow ends up back on earth again. While it was playing, you could hear the faint sound of “Yahweh” being called out. I started paying more attention to that than the video itself. Ted then talked about how our souls cry out to God.

In Psalm 84:2, the psalmist wrote about his soul crying out. In Psalm 42, he wrote that his inner self thirsts for God. I believe our souls want badly to connect with God. They want to hear from Him. I think that’s why there’s such a feeling of contentment when you are in a prayer meeting or a worship service when you can feel God’s presence. Your soul is being satisfied and recharged while you’re in His presence. It’s thirst for being with God is quenched.

We tend to be pretty good at satisfying our physical thirst, but not always our spiritual thirst. We care for our physical bodies more because we are more in tune with it. Our spirit has needs as well, but often we just disregard it or tune a deaf ear to hearing it cry out for Yahweh. David was in tough with his soul. He could sense that it was calling out, that it was thirsty. He decided to be led by His spirit rather than His flesh. I believe that’s one of the main reasons that he was known as a man after God’s own heart.

When Jesus was on the garden before the crucifixion, His soul was crying out to God. He asked the disciples to pray with Him. He invited them to let their souls cry out as well. Instead, they fell asleep. They tended to their body’s needs instead of their spiritual needs. In the Message, Jesus told them, “There’s a part of you (soul) that’s eager, ready for anything in God. But there’s another part of you (flesh) that’s as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire.” We fault the disciples for sleeping all the time, but don’t we do the same thing? Don’t we listen to the weaker part a lot?

David spoke to his soul to wake it up, to challenge it or to cheer if up. If you find yourself listening to the part that doesn’t want to do anything for God, speak to your soul. Find the place where you can quench its thirst for God. Fasting is a great way to do that. It denies the weaker part of your body and feeds your soul. Do a one day, two day or three day fast. It doesn’t have to be 40 days. If you find you’re lacking the ability to do what God asked you to do, quit feeding your flesh and start feeding your soul. It’s ready to do all that God wants you to do. You just have to start listening to it.

If you would like to win “The Priest’s Graveyard” by Ted Dekker, go to the Devotions By Chris Facebook page here and “like” it. I will randomly pick one person tomorrow (July 19, 2014) who has liked my page. If you have already “liked” my page, you are already entered for this drawing. I would appreciate it if you would invite your friends to like my page so they can receive encouragement from God’s Word too.

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Living A Significant Life

I’ve never met anyone who said, “I don’t care if my life doesn’t matter.” Each of us in some way want our lives to matter. We want to live significant lives. We want to make a difference. When we die, we want the world to be different because we were here. I believe that’s how most of us, if not all of us think about our lives. When we feel like we are making a difference, we are riding high. We feel most insignificant when we don’t think anyone notices us or that we aren’t making a difference. We feel worthless when we aren’t appreciated. Our feelings are tied to how significant we think our lives are.

If we want to live significant lives, we should see what God says about it. James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves (feeling very insignificant) in the sight of The Lord, and He will exalt you (He will lift you up and make your lives significant) (AMP).” So the way to really live a significant life is to feel insignificant in the sight of The Lord. It’s when we humble ourselves before God that He can begin to do something significant with us. Until then, we are out seeking to live a significant live to get the glory ourselves.

When we humble ourselves, we let God know that we understand we are nothing without Him. We show Him that we recognize that all we have is given to us by Him. Being humble in His sight is understanding that our talents, our jobs, our income, our skills are all a gift from Him. It’s not because of anything we’ve done. It’s not because we are self made people. Our lives can only become eternally significant when we stop and recognize that He is the source of everything we have. When we recognize that, we won’t be out seeking glory for ourselves. We’ll be doing things for His glory.

It’s hard for us to think that way because it’s the opposite of what we know in this world. Our culture says that we should promote ourselves, get all the praise we can, get recognized at every opportunity in order to feel significant. But God says it’s not until we feel insignificant that we can be significant. He says if we seek out praise for ourselves, we have our reward. We then have to choose, are we after a temporary praise from people or are we after the eternal praise from God? The significance of your life rests in how you answer that question. Charles Studd wrote, “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”

If you’re living your life to be significant so people will know your name, your memory will be gone not long after you die. If you’re living your life so people will know His name, what you do will be remembered for eternity. Our search for living significant lives begins and ends with being humble in the sight of The Lord. He can’t lift us up until we’ve recognized our lowly estate. If you truly want to leave the world different than when you came, do everything for God’s glory, not your own. Seek to make Him known instead of yourself. That’s how you live a significant life.

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Mercy And Restoration

Every time I read about King David in the Bible, I come away with a deeper respect for him. In II Samuel, life was going good for David. He was king and had just brought his son, Absalom, home to set aside their differences. Instead of being grateful, Absalom stole the hearts of Israel, betrayed his father and took the kingdom away from him. David had to flee his beloved Jerusalem to keep from being killed. As he was taking one last look from the summit of the Mount of Olives, he was met by the servant of Mephibosheth.

Mephibosheth was Jonathon’s son and King Saul’s grandson. David had taken him in and let him eat from his table. When David asked the servant where he was, the servant said, “He stayed behind to reclaim his grandfather’s kingdom.” I’m sure that hurt David after all he had done for him. David said, “In that case, you get everything he owns.” As David turned to continue on his exile, another man related to Saul started yelling curses at David and throwing rocks at him. He yelled out, “Get out of here you murderer, you scoundrel! The Lord is paying you back. You stole his (Saul’s) throne.”

One of David’s men grabbed his sword and asked permission to cut off his head. David screamed, “No! Who asked your opinion?” He then told them that his own son is trying to kill him. Why shouldn’t a member of Saul’s family have even more reason to? Instead of killing the man who was taunting him, throwing rocks at him and made him weary, he let him be. He showed mercy. He showed great restraint in dealing with everything that was going wrong.

We each have people in our life who have betrayed us. We have people who use words like daggers and stab us in the back. We have people who get under our skin and wear us out. It’s nothing new. It’s been happening for millennia. David showed us a different way to handle them. He showed us that there is another option. In II Samuel 16:12, David said, “Perhaps The Lord will see that I’m being wronged and will bless me.” He knew that if he lashed out in anger, he removed the chance of blessing. He wanted to leave the door open for God to help him.

How do you respond to the people who won’t leave you alone? Do you fight back? Do you get into endless arguments? Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger.” It could be that your response is keeping you in that perpetual cycle. If you want to change the circumstance, change your response to it. Show mercy instead of anger. Have patience instead of lashing out. Open the door for God to bless you instead of slamming it shut. Show love instead of hate. Give back blessings instead of curses and watch what God does. It may take a while, but God will restore you like he did David.

By the way, David did get his kingdom back. It turned out Mephibosheth’s servant was lying. David took half of the belongings back and gave them to Mephibosheth. He then let him continue to live in the palace. The man who cursed him, apologized and was forgiven. All of this was done because David did not sin when he was losing everything. Keep your head up. God sees what you’re going through. He sees the attacks and has not forgotten you. He will restore you.

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Restoring Your Connection

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A lot of the work I do for my employer is away from the office. In order to be able to connect to our intranet, I use a virtual private network (VPN). I have to plug in a special code along with my log in codes after I connect to the internet. Once that happens the VPN goes to work and I get a message that says, “Connection has been restored.” At that moment, my emails begin to download and I can access all the information on our severs that I need. I can start working again

Peter described us as aliens or sojourners here on this earth. Our real home is in Heaven. We are away from where we belong, yet we still have to connect with God. He tells us that we are to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against our souls. We must stay connected with God while we are here on earth so that we can receive His messages to us. We must stay in constant communication with Him so that we have everything we need in order to fulfill what He has called us to do.

So many Christians live their lives without being truly connected to God. They don’t read their Bible, they don’t pray or seek His face. It’s not that they don’t want to. It’s that everything else in their life seems to eat up all of their time. I know what that’s like because I’ve lived a lot of my Christian life like that. When times got tough, I wasn’t connected and I was overcome by my situation. It wasn’t until that point that I truly cried out to God for help. I had no way out. I was desperate. I asked for forgiveness and my connection with Him was restored.

From that time on, I have had to fight with my schedule to make sure I stay connected. I have to carve out time that won’t be interrupted. If we don’t make God a priority in our lives, we will lose that all important connection with Him. We will wander through this life without direction or purpose. We will be busy all the time yet have nothing to show for our busyness. It’s in stating connected to God that we find our purpose. It’s in that quality time that we spend in His Word that we receive His messages to us. It’s in prayer that we cast our cares on Him and take on His burden.

We are all sojourners. We are travelers through this world. It’s the responsibility of each one of us to find ways to connect with God while we are here. Don’t get so caught up in living on the road that you fail to pray and get into His Word. The things of this world are temporary. If we aren’t connecting with our Heavenly Father, we get deceived into thinking they are the things that matter for eternity. Ultimately, it’s our relationship with Him that decides our eternity. It should have the highest importance in our lives. If you’ve lost that connection with Him, there’s no time like the present to get on your knees and restore it. The power is in your hands.

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