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Jeremiah 37, 21, 34; Psalms 79; James 5

“Zedekiah son of Josiah succeeded Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim as the king of Judah.  He was appointed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.  But neither King Zedekiah nor his attendants nor the people who were left in the land listened to what the Lord said through Jeremiah.  Nevertheless, King Zedekiah sent Jehucal son of Shelemiah, and Zephaniah the priest, son of Maaseiah, to ask Jeremiah, “Please pray to the Lord our God for us.”  Jeremiah 37:1-3 NLT

King Zedekiah’s heart wasn’t right before the Lord.  He didn’t want to listen to what Jeremiah said.  But, he wanted his prayers answered.  How many times have I come before the Lord with the wrong heart? Feeling far from him.  Knowing that I needed to ask for forgiveness.  What a contrast to David’s humble plea…

“Help us, O God of our salvation! Help us for the glory of your name.  Save us and forgive our sins for the honor of your name.” Psalms 79:9 NLT

Sometimes “Help” is the only word I can utter.

“Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray.  Are any of you happy? You should sing praises.  Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord.  Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well.  And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.” James 5:13-15 NLT 

I am amazed at all the prayers God has answered in my life.  I look through old photos and pause to reflect on his goodness.  A verse comes to mind, “Who am I Lord, that you have brought me and my family this far?” (2 Sam 7:18).  But, still at times I forget all he has done. I get tired in the waiting.

“Elijah was human as we are, and yet he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years!  Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.” James 5:17&18

If it would have been three and a half days, I’m sure Elijah would have been grateful .  But, I can imagine how elated he was after three and a half years.  Did he ever want to give up hope? Maybe. But, he didn’t give up praying. What an example his faith is to me.

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” James 5:16 NLT

Dear Father, I praise you for who you are.  Thank you for your faithfulness.  How you care about my every need.  Thank you for your promises and for the hope I have in you. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Zephaniah, Psalms 74; 2 Corinthians 8

“Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia.  They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor.  But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.  For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more.  And they did it of their own free will.  They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift of the believers in Jerusalem.  They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do.” 2 Corinthians 8:1-3 NLT

I can learn a lot from the churches in Macedonia…

They had abundant joy.

They gave themselves to the Lord first.

They had a strong faith.

They were not focused on what they were lacking, but what they could give.

“I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving.  Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving.  Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly.  And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have. ” 2 Corinthians 8: 7-13 NLT

How many times have I felt lead to give and than I talk myself out of it? I make a mental list of all the reasons why I shouldn’t.  I give in to my fears and my eagerness fades. But, when I have followed through, my heart is fuller.  I am more grateful for all he has given me. He doesn’t hold back, so why should I?  I am reminded that my treasure truly is in Heaven.  I am reminded that it is all his.

“You, O God, are my king from ages past, bringing salvation to the earth.  You split the sea by your strength and smashed the heads of the sea monsters. You caused the springs and streams to gush forth, and you dried up rivers that never run dry.  Both day and night belong to you; you made the starlight and the sun.  You set the boundaries of the earth, and you made both summer and winter.” Psalms 74:12-17 NLT

Thank you Father for how you pour out your love on me.  Thank you for your faithfulness and provision.  Help me to live with open hands to others.  Give me wisdom and discernment where needed.  I pray that my eyes would be open to those around me who are in need of a touch from you.  That I would be willing to be inconvenienced when it would be easier to turn the other way. Amen.

“For the Lord your God is living among you.  He is a mighty savior.  He will take delight in you with gladness.  With his love, he will calm all your fears.  He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

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Isaiah 49-52; Psalms 69; 1 Corinthians 14

“Save me, O God, for the floodwaters are up to my neck. Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire; I can’t find a foothold. I am in deep water, and the floods overwhelm me.” Psalms 69:1&2 NLT

“But I keep praying to you, Lord, hoping this time you will show me favor. In your unfailing love, O God, answer my prayer with your sure salvation.” Psalms 69:13&14 NLT

“Answer my prayers, O Lord, for your unfailing love is wonderful. Take care of me, for your mercy is so plentiful. Don’t hide from your servant; answer me quickly, for I am in deep trouble!” Psalms 69:16&17 NLT

Sometimes when I can’t see progress, I get stuck.  I get tired of waiting through the messy.  I can get so hung up on the moment, that I forget that my life is most lived in the process.  I look to earthly reassurance, instead of crying out to him, like David. “What if God wants to do it in a different way? In a process not in a moment.” Steven Furtick.  He will answer my prayers in his timing.  He loves me through the waiting.  That’s when he does the most work in my heart.

This is what the Lord says: “At just the right time, I will respond to you.  On the day of salvation I will help you.  I will protect you and give you to the people as my covenant with them.  Through you I will reestablish the land of Israel and assign it to its own people again.” Isaiah 49:8 NLT

He has given me hope.

He has given me favor.

He has restored my life.

His love is unfailing.

“Pay attention, you who are far away! The Lord called me before my birth; from within the womb he called me by name.  He made my words of judgement as sharp as a sword.  He has hidden me in the shadow of his hand.  I am like a sharp arrow in his quiver.  He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, and you will bring me glory.”  I replied, “But my work seems useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose.  Yet I leave it all in the Lord’s hand; I will trust God for my reward.”  Isaiah 49:1-4 NLT

I am reminded that God has given me a greater purpose than I can think or dream up.  I spend too much time asking him what I should do, instead of just doing it and leaving the results to him.  When confusion bombards my mind, I know its not from him.  He is the giver of a peace that surpasses my understanding.

“For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.” 1 Corinthians 14:33 NLT

Thank you Father for always meeting me where I am at.  For using your words and the words of others to draw me closer to you.  Help me to live with an eternal perspective.   Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Isaiah 26-29; Psalms 65; 1 Corinthians 4

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all those whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is an eternal Rock.” Isaiah 26:3&4 NLT

I am praying this verse for my 10 year old son who is having dental surgery this morning.  He has been learning to conquer his fears and do things afraid.  What an example it has been for me. When anxiety comes, God wants to show me that he is bigger.  He tells me to take the focus off of me and put it on him.  To remember all that he has done.  To quiet my heart before him.

“God has told his people, “Here is a place of rest; let the weary rest here.  This is a place of quiet rest.”  But they would not listen.  Isaiah 28:12a NLT

It can be hard to be quiet.  I wrestle with unexpected thoughts bombarding my mind.  I don’t always want to face what I am feeling.  It is easier to pretend it’s not there.  But, I am learning to cry out to him in the midst of my struggles… knowing that he will meet me.

“Lord, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws; our heart’s desire is to glorify your name.  In the night I search for you; in the morning I earnestly seek you.”  Isaiah 26:8&9 NLT

It takes obedience to turn my thoughts towards him.  The truth is that my human nature wants to do things on my own.  To act like I am in control.  When I finally relinquish and give that up to God, he fills me with an unexplainable peace.   I recall his past faithfulness.  I am filled with a joy that only he can provide.  I wonder why I wait so long.  And instead endure days of worrying or trouble getting to sleep.  I am so much better rested when I read his word at night.  And wake up to hear his voice in the morning.

“You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior. You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail on distant seas. You formed the mountains by your power and armed yourself with mighty strength. You quieted the raging oceans with their pounding waves and silenced the shouting of the nations. Those who love at the ends of the earth stand in awe of your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, you inspire shouts of joy.” Psalms 65:1-8 NLT

Dear Father, thank you for your patience with me.  That you care about the smallest details of my life.  I lift my eyes to you.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  I want to live by your power.  Thank you for your Holy Spirit who guides me. Amen.

“For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.” 1 Corinthians 4:20 NLT

amy(amyctanner)

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Isaiah 1-3; Psalms 9; Matthew 22

I“Don’t put your trust in mere humans. They are as frail as breath. What good are they?” Isaiah 2:22 NLT

Who am I trusting?

“The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.” Psalms 9:9&10 NLT

Am I only loving when it is convenient and easy? Because sometimes it’s hard.  If I am trusting in God’s perfect love for me, than I am free to reach out to others without expecting anything in return.  The simple tune of “Jesus Loves Me” fills my mind.  “For the Bible tells me so…” I am convicted to fill my mind with Scripture. Because I know there is an enemy working against me. But, Jesus shows me how to love. And he already has the victory.

“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “’You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demand of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40 NLT

I  let these sentences by Henri Noreen sink in…

“The question is not: How many people take you seriously? How much are you going to accomplish? Can you show the same results? But: Are you in love with Jesus? Perhaps another way of putting the question would be: Do you know the incarnate God? In our world of loneliness and despair, there is an enormous need for men and women who know the heart of God, a heart that forgives, cares, reaches out and wants to heal.  In that heart there is no suspicion, no vindictiveness, no resentment, and not a tinge of hatred.  It is a heart that wants only to give love and receive love in response.” ( In the Name of Jesus)

“I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done.  I will be filled with joy because of you.  I will sing praises to your name.” Psalms 9:1-2 NLT

Dear Father, help me to love others like you do.  And to remember how much I have been forgiven, so I can forgive.  Give me a heart like yours. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

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2 Kings 13-14; 2 Chronicles 25; Psalms 53; Matthew 12

“Amaziah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jehoaddan of Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, but not with a loyal heart.” 2 Chronicles 25:1&2 NKJV

Amaziah did what was right, but his heart wasn’t in it. It makes me stop and think about my motives. The times when my heart wasn’t all in.  It may be easy to fake on the outside, but I can’t fool God.  Eventually the ugliness will seep out when I am not surrendering to him every day.

A word that I didn’t mean to say and can’t take back.

Yelling at my kids.

Thinking angry thoughts.

Jeslousy, envy, bitterness…to name a few.

“Either make the tree good and its fruit, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:33-36 NKJV

I have prayed for changed hearts and have seen him answer. But, sometimes he is trying to change mine.

“The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity; There is none who does good. God looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.” Psalms 53:1&2 NKJV

Dear Father, I rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to change me from the inside out.  Give me eyes to see others with a heart like yours. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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1 Kings 22; 2 Chronicles 18; Matthew 2

“Jehoshaphat had riches and honor in abundance; and by marriage he allied himself with Ahab. After some years he went down to visit Ahab in Samaria; and Ahab killed sheep and oxen in abundance for him and the people who were with him, and persuaded him to go up with him to Ramoth Gilaed. So Ahab king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat king of Judah, “Will you go with me against Ramoth Gilead?” And he answered, “I am as you are, and my people as your people, we will be with you in the war.” Also Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “Please inquire for the word of the Lord today.” 2 Chronicles 18:1-4 NIV

Jehoshaphat listened to the wrong voices, even though he knew which one was right and true.  He let his popularity and power guide his decisions. He aligned himself with a wicked king. Who am I walking with?  Will it strengthen my faith or weaken it? Will I let friends influence me or will I influence them?  A coffee date with a friend today is foremost in my thoughts.  I am grateful for her strong faith.  She keeps me grounded when I am tempted to get off track.  She tells me not to hold back, but to speak the truth in love.

“But Jehoshaphat said , “Is there not still a prophet of the Lord here, that we may inquire of Him?” So the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is still one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord; but I hate him, because he never prophesies good concerning me, but always evil. He is Micaiah the son of Imla.” 2 Chronicles 18:6-7 NIV

Jehoshaphat still doesn’t listen to the Lord.  Until he is put in a situation where he needs him.  Oh, how this can be true for me as well.

“So it was, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, “It is the king of Israel!” Therefore they surrounded him to attack; but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the Lord helped him, and God diverted them from him. For so it was, when the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, that they turned back from pursuing him.” 2 Chronicles 18:31&32 NIV

God listened and answered his prayer.  He didn’t condemn him for making the wrong choice.  He showed him mercy when he needed him the most.  He wants me to come to him with a willing heart.  And to know that it’s never to late cry out to him.

“So they said to him, “In Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.” Matthew 2:5&6 NIV

Dear Jesus, thank you that when I pray,  you hear me.  Give me the courage to do your will, even when it’s not the popular thing to do.  Help me to be faithful to you when it’s hard.  Thank you for your promise to always be with me. Amen.

And Micaiah said, “As the Lord lives, whatever my God says, that I will speak.” 2 Chronicles 18:13 NIV

Amy(amyctanner)

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