Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know, says the Lord.
Busy... Busy-ness... Busy-est! Does this sound familiar? Does this describe your daily life? A few years ago, our two oldest boys came home from college for Easter weekend. After the church service and lunch, our family gathered on the back porch. Stories of the past flooded our conversations. Looking at my eldest son, these words popped out of my mouth, "It seems like yesterday. I can still see your excitement for hunting Easter eggs. Do you remember…?" All of a sudden, this phrase brought back memories of my mom saying the same thing to me.
Why does time seem to move so fast? Do we allow ourselves to get so busy that we lose track of life itself? Does busyness become our enemy? When this happens, many times our prayer life suffers. We hit the ground running in the morning and crawl into bed at night. We become so wrapped up in our own issues and circumstances that each day fades into the next.
As a result, we live to exist. This is not God's plan for us! He desires for us to live every day sold out to Jesus. From the moment we wake up, He is waiting for us to connect with Him. God desires quality time with His children, but He will never push Himself on us. He sets a daily agenda for His children, but it is up to us to pray for the day’s assignment!
Take a break from life in the fast lane, and pray! Right now, take time to ask Him to reveal His agenda for your day. Read Jeremiah 32:16-44 and 33:1-3. Notice how Jeremiah prays for understanding, and God answers. Trust Him in the midst of your prayers. Listen to His tender voice throughout your day.
... But my heart stands in awe of Your Word. I rejoice at Your Word as one who finds great treasure.
—Psalm 119:161-162 (NKJV)
The more I read His Word, the more I know Him...
The more I know Him, the more I love Him...
The more I love Him, the more I understand...
Life is not about me, but all about Him!
Do you hear His voice? Can you describe the sound? Is it quiet, gentle, and soft? Or sharp, clear, and decisive?
I must admit my prayers often consist of talking rather than listening. It's almost like a one-sided conversation. You know, the kind that reflects an all about me attitude.
Together let's practice discerning the voice of God. Re-read Psalm 119:161-162. Now let's break it apart...
But my heart stands in awe of Your Word...
When was the last time you stood in awe or amazement at God’s word? I don't want to miss one awesome moment of what He is telling me. Asking the Holy Spirit to make each word come alive in our hearts is vital to discerning God's voice. He brings freshness to spiritual truths in God's Word.
I rejoice at Your Word as one who finds great treasure...
As the ultimate teacher and counselor, the Holy Spirit constantly points us to Jesus. Convicting. Revealing truths. Communicating wisdom. Ask for a heart of understanding and look for spiritual treasures. God lavishes His love on us through His Word. Praise God for intimate moments with the Savior!
Have you experienced God’s majesty? A few years ago, I asked the Lord to reveal His majesty to me. I basically hid this prayer in the crevices of my heart. Later in the week, I went shopping with a friend who recently accepted Jesus into her life. In the midst of a great time, I happened to look upward into the sky. My mouth dropped open as I viewed the most magnificent sight, one I’d never seen before. A vivid rainbow encircled the sun! Each color glistened with radiance, intensity, and brilliance as if to sing, “Majesty, Stand Amazed at His Glory!” I almost fell to my knees, praising God in the parking lot. Amazement adorned my face as I shared with my friend the request I prayed earlier that week.
God, in all His glory, chose to answer my request in a unique and personal way. As a result, not only did I have a tender moment with God’s majesty, but my new sister-in-Christ experienced God’s splendor as well. I learned a vital lesson that day. Almost as if God audibly spoke to me saying, “Carla, when you ask Me to reveal Myself to you, keep your eyes open for the ways in which I choose to make Myself known. I just might use your prayer to reveal My majesty and glory to others around you.” What a sweet and tender moment, one I will never forget.
The more I read His Word, the more I know Him...
The more I know Him, the more I love Him...
The more I love Him, the more I understand...
Life is not about me, but all about Him!
Read Psalm 119:161-176. If possible, read this passage in the New King James Version. Notice how many times the psalmist uses Your Word, Your law, Your testimony, Your salvation, Your commands, Your statutes, Your judgments, and Your precepts. The psalmist doesn’t rebel against God’s ways, but instead affirms his love, dedication, and trust in the Lord. How powerful! Ask the Lord to open your eyes to His Word so that you completely understand His grace and
mercy of salvation through His son, Jesus. Commit to reading God’s Word every day. Then watch for His teaching moments throughout the day. Stand amazed with your walking, talking, breathing relationship with Jesus.
The Lord will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the sky will tremble. But the Lord will be a refuge for His people, a stronghold for the people of Israel.
What comes to mind when you hear the term “dog days of summer”? Many times this phrase is used to describe the hot,
dry summer months. Maybe your thoughts drift to your childhood when the sounds of locusts lulled you to sleep. Possibly you recall a scorching wind blowing in your face or walking barefoot in the heat of the day. The minute your feet touched the blistering pavement you started the sidewalk dance. This unique jig continued until your feet landed in the shade or in the grass.
God uses real life situations to teach us spiritual life lessons. For example, the weather affects not only our physical bodies, but also our emotions and spiritual conditions. Re-read Joel 3:16 above. Now read Isaiah 25:1,4… O Lord, You are my God. I will exalt You, I will praise Your name, For You have done wonderful things... For You have been a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat. (NKJV)
The Sun is vital to our human existence. As the Sun emits visible light, heat, and ultraviolet rays, the human body experiences the Sun’s impact. It is easy to see how visible light affects us. Ultraviolet light is unseen by the human eye and not felt by the human body, but its effects on a body’s health are far reaching. In fact, some of its
most essential health benefits go unnoticed. For example, one of the greatest advantages of ultraviolet light is the production of Vitamin D. This vitamin is essential to calcium metabolism, the formation of bone growth, and fighting skin diseases. In the northern regions of the world, the Sun only shines a few hours a day throughout the winter. During this time of darkness, people are prone to depression. One reason for this disorder is a deficiency of Vitamin D.
Isn’t this like the Christian life? There are times when God allows us to view glimpses of His mighty hand of healing, peace, judgment, protection, etc. At other times, we experience the heat of situations and circumstances in life that need purification. Yet behind the scenes, the Lord is continuously accomplishing His purposes. God is daily injecting doses of spiritual vitamins, which our souls need to overcome sinful diseases that work to invade our thoughts, hearts, and lives. Many times we are unaware of these expressions of God’s love that are so vital to sustaining our spiritual health.
Are you experiencing some dog days in your personal life... marriage, children, illness, work, finances, commitments, relationships, responsibilities, or decisions? Is the heat of a situation zapping your spiritual energy? God calls us to do the sidewalk dance and run to Him, so we can abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Prayer keeps us under the shelter of His wings.
Read Psalm 63 and Psalm 91. Write a personal prayer about your own “dog days of summer” and ask God to be your continual shade from the heat! Praise Him for the unseen things He is doing in and through your life. Ask Him to open your eyes to recognize His hand of protection, love, purpose, grace, and mercy. At the same time, pray for others experiencing their own heated circumstances. Just a thought—you might be the only one praying over their situations. Lifting others up is a privilege given to believers by God Himself. What an honor!
Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy and with my song I praise Him.
Scattered? Pulled in every direction? Agenda set days in advance? Craving to just breathe? Today's society lives in the fast lane. At the touch of a button, things shift into motion... the snooze alarms, preset coffee makers, instant microwave breakfasts, automatic door openers, MP3 players loaded with thousands of songs (Remember the eight-track tape players? You waited at least four songs to hear your favorite!), DVRs for the televisions, and the
list goes on and on. This technology age opened the doors to a whole new world of conveniences, but also a whole new set of expectations.
In many ways, we've lost the ability to practice patience. Spending time with God has become more like the drive through lane at a fast-food restaurant. We quickly place our order, drive up to the window, pay the cashier, receive the food, and drive off. We even get frustrated if the line is too long! By the time we arrive at the window, our attitudes sometimes don't display appreciation, but annoyance.
Recently a friend joined me on a trip to Michigan where I was the speaker for a large retreat. She and I live in different towns in Texas, so we decided to meet at the airport in Grand Rapids. After renting a car and securing the destination on our GPS, we were on our way. Our excitement filled the car with laughter, conversation, and joy! My friend needed a little nourishment, so we pulled into a fast-food line to get her a hamburger and soft drink.
After placing the order, I drove up to the first window, paid for the food, and then proceeded to the next window to pick it up. Now, you must know this before I continue. She and I hadn’t stopped talking or laughing since we got in the car. So, without thinking, I just drove right past the second window. I was in the parking lot when my friend screamed, “Carla, you forgot my food!” Putting on the brakes, I looked in the rearview mirror and could see the fastfood worker frantically waving her arms and holding the bag out the window. I put the car in reverse, backed up, and accepted the bag from the woman who just rolled her eyes at me. Needless to say, my friend and I still laugh about the incident today!
Unfortunately, we are often careless with the way we treat God, although we want Him to answer our requests immediately, in our time, and on our schedule. If He makes us wait, we get frustrated, discontented, and displeased. We plead with Him on behalf of our immediate needs and then fail to grasp His response. At times when we pray, we are so busy with our own agendas we drive right past God as He is trying to hand us the answer.
Oh, how many times do we miss Jesus in the midst of our days? If only we would take the time to just breathe and refocus on Him. Developing moment-by-moment communication with our Savior inspires a living, walking, breathing relationship with Jesus.
We must ask ourselves these questions. What are we teaching our children and our grandchildren? Are we missing God's miracles for our families and ourselves? Is this fast-paced life developing self-centered individuals rather than God-centered people?
Please re-read today’s verse—Psalm 28:6-7. Before reading, just breathe. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart to a fresh truth. Just breathe once again. Notice how many times God says, "I will..." What is He saying to you? Close your eyes and just breathe. God loves you. God calls you into righteousness. God is holding your hand. God is keeping you! Open your arms to the heavens and just breathe a sigh of humbleness to the Father who created and stretched out the heavens. Recognize Jesus in your everyday life. Relax for a moment and just breathe Him in. As oxygen is to the blood, so is the Holy Spirit to your spiritual walk.
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, and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
Have you taken time to pray today? Did you wake up with thoughts of Jesus on your heart, mind, and soul? He is waiting every morning for our first thoughts to be on Him, praising Him for who He is, what He has done, for how He works all things to His glory.
So often when the alarm goes off, we hit the snooze button a few times. Frequently this leads to the “Late Again Syndrome.” We fly out of bed and rush to accomplish the morning’s activities. All the while, Jesus is on the back burner of our minds. He never pushes Himself on us, although He desires for His children to seek Him, search the Word, sing praises to His name, and call upon the name of the Lord in all things.
How does regular exercise benefit our ability to breathe? When we exercise on a regular basis, our lung capacity increases, allowing a larger volume of air to enter our lungs. High intensity workouts require deep breathing, which in turn causes the lungs to increase air intake. This is beneficial for everyone because an increased lung capacity not only enhances our stamina, but it is good for our overall health. A larger lung capacity and increased oxygen level help circulate blood in the body. A better blood flow aids in cleansing the veins and arteries. So, increased lung capacity = increased oxygen intake = increased blood flow = blood and vein cleansing!
How does spiritual exercise benefit our spiritual breathing? By now you know I love to use real-life lessons as a way to teach spiritual truths. So here goes. As long as we are alive, we breathe air, and we know there are ways to improve our breathing capacity. We can do the same with our spiritual breathing. The more time we spend with Jesus, the more we enhance our intake of the Holy Spirit. The minute we become alive in Christ, the Holy Spirit resides inside us forever. And when we desire to live a life sold out to Jesus— walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh—we increase our spiritual lung capacity. The deeper we breathe in the Holy Spirit, the more we allow Him to flow through us. He cleanses our lives of impurities. As we breathe Him in, we experience fulfillment of His presence. He gives us the yearning to exercise a prayer life with Him, stay fit through Bible study, and work out our daily problems through Him.
Wow, increased time with Jesus =
Increased spiritual understanding =
Increased Holy Spirit flow =
Seek Jesus first in the morning before your head ever leaves the pillow. Commune with Him at the dawning of your day. Need a reminder? Ask the Holy Spirit for an inward nudge to seek the Lord first thing every morning. Then watch to see how your day unfolds. It is so much fun to have a personal relationship with Jesus—King of kings, Lord of lords, Savior of the World.
Therefore, be alert and of sober mind so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.
–1 Peter 4:7-8
In the quiet of your heart, can you hear the orchestra? The richness of sounds blended into one? A symphony has the ability to lull a crying baby or bring calm in the midst of a storm. Many times when played alone, instruments sound out of tune or off key. But when played together, they create beautiful harmony, each musical instrument complimenting the other. The music inspires, soothes, and even mesmerizes the soul.
1 Peter 3:8 says, All of you live in harmony with one another. This word harmony in the Greek means of “one mind, one passion.” This is actually a combination of two words, which gives the idea of rushing along, together in unison. Like with music, a number of notes played at the same time are different, but harmonize in pitch and tone. They captivate the audience from the first note.
This is a picture of the body of Christ when we are of one mind. As a famous concertmaster directs the symphony, so the Holy Spirit blends together the prayers of the saints. God desires for His children to pray together and make beautiful music through their prayers.
I love that 1 Peter 3:12 says, For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer. As the leader of the first church in Acts, Peter grasped the importance of coming together to lift praises and requests to the Lord. We should live out this example in our own lives.
Why do we make corporate prayer a last resort? Over and over, God's Word gives us examples of believers coming together to pray, and God answering those prayers. God calls us to pray! This is exciting. God gives us an opportunity to participate in eternity with Him, through prayer.
At the end of one of my speaking engagements, a woman waited until most of the ladies left the venue. With slumped shoulders and a whisper to her voice, she asked if she could visit with me for a few minutes. I said, “Of course!” In our conversation she opened a dark closet of her soul—a place she’d hidden for years. Grabbing her hands, I asked if I could pray with her, and she agreed. A sweet union immediately formed. The harmony of that prayer still plays in my heart.
A few weeks later I received an email from her. She explained how sharing her dark secret opened the door to freedom. The chains that once held her captive were broken. She went on to say when I was praying with her, she literally experienced that dark area being filled with the Light—Jesus. Prayer opened the door for freedom from the dungeon of despair.
Praise God for the blessings of corporate prayer. Let’s pray together! Don't miss the blessings of drawing nearer to God and other believers as you create beautiful prayer melodies together.
Please read 1 Peter 3:8-12 and 1 Peter 4:1-12. Ask the Lord to lead you to a group of believers you can pray with on a regular basis. If you are afraid to step out in this way, ask God for courage. When you need prayer for a situation, ask Him to direct you to one or more prayer warriors. Oh, the harmony of the saints coming together blesses the soul!
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
It’s the middle of the night. The phone isn't ringing. Darkness fills the room. Children are nestled in their beds. All is quiet. So, why am I still awake?
Frustrated. Exhausted. I must turn off my thoughts. But my mind continues replaying the conversations and events of the day as well as the things I need to do tomorrow.
Why am I still awake? “Come on, fall asleep,” I tell myself. My busy days require so much energy. Anger kindles. I can't go through the day with only a few hours of sleep.
Why am I still awake? All of a sudden, a thought flashes through my mind, “Is the Holy Spirit giving me a wake-up call to pray?” In no time flat, a friend’s circumstances flash through my mind. At the same time, I recall Ephesians 6:18, And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Prayers ignite. This tender moment with the Holy Spirit changed my life forever. Why? Because this experience taught me to be alert and prepared to stand in the gap for others at any moment. Oh, the intimacy of a personal relationship with Jesus continues to bring me to my knees!
The Old Testament is filled with spiritual wake‐up calls. For example, God warned the Israelites of the destruction ahead of them if they didn’t change their hearts and repent. Many times God used prophets to proclaim His message. For example, Jeremiah 1:5 where God comes to Jeremiah and says, Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before your were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.
God called Jeremiah to be His voice as a warning to the Israelites about God’s judgment upon His people and the coming destruction of the land. Over and over Jeremiah warned the Israelites to turn from their wicked ways.
We see God’s warnings all around us. They are directed not only to us personally, but to our nation. The moral decay in America continues to spread. God is sending His wake‐up calls all around us. We must pray for our nation to turn back to Jesus.
The next time you wake up in the middle of the night, ask the Holy Spirit to place a person or a situation on your heart. Pray right then. You might be the only one God calls to stand in the gap.