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Trusting Our Father for Straight Paths and Ordered Steps

We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. Prov. 16:9 (NLT)

To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can openRev. 3:7 (NIV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Prov. 3:5-6 (ESV)

Heavenly Father, some decisions are “no brainers,” some require nothing more than sanctified common sense, and some choices are nothing more than a matter of personal preference. But other decisions tie us in knots, rob us of sleep, and keep us second-guessing. Today I’m praying for friends in this third category.

As these Scriptures remind us, you determine our steps and the outcome of our plans. This doesn’t mean we’re to be passive in our decision-making, but to trust that you are very engaged. You open doors we can’t shut, and you shut doors we couldn’t open with an army. Though sometimes we don’t like this in the moment, it’s is a huge blessing and comfort. We count on your constant care, rock-steady reliability, and sovereign might.

We have every reason to trust you with all of our hearts, because you loved us with all of your heart, by sending Jesus to be our Savior. Because of your matchless gift of Jesus, we can trust you to give us everything else we really need (Rom. 8:32).

Make our ways straight as we seek to honor you with …

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We Can Totally Trust Abba

Psalm 33:1 – Let the godly sing for joy to the Lord; it is fitting for the pure to praise him.

Heavenly Father, I have to qualify my obedience to this Psalm a little bit. I don’t have a great singing voice, but my heart is singing today with volume and robust joy. The only rightful claim to being “godly and pure” is based on you hiding our lives in Jesus and robing us in his righteousness. My hope is built on nothing less, other, or more.

Praise the Lord with melodies on the lyre; make music for him on the ten-stringed harp. Sing a new song of praise to him; play skillfully on the harp, and sing with joy.

Father, you are the quintessential artist, and you’ve given us the gift of music and musicians to express our love to you. Though I’d love to play a stringed instrument to your glory like Phil Keaggy, none the less, I join others in praising you or the arts and the artists in our communities.

For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does.

What really fuels my worship this today, is this reminder of the truth of your Word and the trustworthiness of your heart. Thank you for the Bible, Father; and thank you for remaining absolutely trustworthy… all the time, in every way. Though we don’t understand everything you do, we can trust you with everything–past regrets, present challenges, and yet-to-be revealed future.

Though we wish you’d adjust your timeline to fit our calendar, we can trust you are doing all things well. Though we’ll only …

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Anxious Over Stuff You Can’t Control?

     “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?’” Matt. 6:25-27 (NIV)

Lord Jesus, the birds of the air have nothing on us. By your life, death, and resurrection, we’re clothed with your perfect righteousness, feast on bread from heaven, and drink living water. Thank you.

Nevertheless, our fears flare up and our worries weigh us down, so, we run to you today, confident of your welcome and needful of your grace. Please help us with situations we’d love to control, but can’t. We’re not anxious to add an hour to our lives, but we’d love guarantees of healing and salvation, more beauty in our world and freedom in our hearts.

Compassionate Jesus, watching our children suffer is so hard. We’d gladly make their pain and difficult stories ours if you’d let us trade places with them. We adore you for already taking their place on the cross, and for securing complete salvation and healing. We’d just love to dictate WHEN you manifest your eternal generosity. Help us trust you, Lord.

King Jesus, we so weary of the new norm of mean-spirited, …

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Calmed by the Spirit – Resting in Jesus – Trusting Our Father

     Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Ps. 62:5-8 (NIV)

Heavenly Father, nothing compares with the peace we have, born from the certainty that you love us, as much as you love Jesus. No more wrestling with “he loves me, he loves me not.” For we now live in your permanent favor, unwavering delight, and constant care. You’ve set your affection on us, for you’ve made Jesus’ righteousness ours. Jesus is our Sabbath Rest and Year of Jubilee; he’s our mighty rock and loving refuge.

Therefore, our honor and hope depend on you, Father. Not on what people think or say about us; not based on our productivity or usefulness; and not based on the degree we are like Christ, but to the degree we are in Christ–which is 100%. What joy and freedom this gives us.

SO, Father, here is our prayer and cry. Hear it, as we pour out our hearts to you today. We want our correct theology to be our transforming doxology. We want to be freer, much freer, Father. We want to live out of the riches of our rest, and less from the restlessness of our stress.

We want to …

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Longings for Healing

     Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. Rev. 22:1-2

Lord Jesus, we begin today with one compelling image and many intense longings. The image is the Tree of Life, standing tall, verdant and fruit-full in the New Jerusalem–our future home of perfect health, perfect relationships, and perfect everything.

Because of your finished work, the Tree of Life will be accessible to the whole family of God “24/7″–bearing the fruit of your great sacrifice and transforming love. Its leaves will be perpetually green–a celebration of our complete healing and eternal wholeness. Jesus, we long to live and work, play and praise in the shade of that tree–where every disease and disintegration, distress and depression will be gone forever. Soon, Lord, soon… please.

People we love in great need of all kinds of healing. We pray for broken marriages and toxic relationships; for those suffering with mental diseases and emotional traumas; for peace in racially torn communities and redemption in evil-divided churches.

We pray for friends with stories of abuse and abandonment, heart disease and home stress; for those crushed by the consequences of wrong choices, and for those running from grace as fast as they can; for …

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Trusting God with Hard Stuff and Difficult Stretches

     “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. Luke 1:34-38 (NIV)

Heavenly Father, we understand Mary’s shock and unbelief, in response to the news she would be Jesus’ mother. The great promises you have made often collide with the impossibilities in our hearts, stories, and world. But the consistent refrain of your Word is, “Nothing is impossible with God.”

Everything you’ve promised will come to pass–no exceptions. All of your promises find their Yes in Jesus (2 Cor. 1:20), and your promises include your work in our lives–us, your beloved daughters and sons.

As surely as you placed the life of Jesus in Mary, you have done the same for us. Though in an entirely different way than Mary, we too are “pregnant with glory” (Rom. 8:18-27). You definitely will complete your “good work” in our lives, and in the lives of our children and friends (Phil. 1:6). Christ is being formed in us this very moment (Gal. 4:19). One Day we will be as lovely and as …

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Worshiping and Trusting the God of Hope

     May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Rom. 15:13 (ESV)

     Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isa. 41:10 (ESV)

     Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Pet. 1:13 (ESV)

Heavenly Father, we begin this day so very thankful for your Word. As we meditate and pray our way through these Scriptures, we’re deeply grateful you chose to reveal yourself to us with words we can understand and get a hold of. Though we don’t worship the Bible, we worship you because of the Bible.

Today, in particular, we’re thankful to be reminded that you are the God of hope–not hype, not spiritual spin, not pie-in-the-sky sentimentality, but trustworthy hope. In a world of unsettling circumstances and things we cannot control; broken people, places, and things, it is a source of immeasurable joy and peace to know that you love us and are in control of all things. It’s also wonderful to know that you intend for us to abound in hope–not merely hold on for a better day.

We don’t have to be afraid or be dismayed by anything or …

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Trusting God: When It’s Easy to Do So, and When It’s Not

     Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.  Dan. 3:16-18

Heavenly Father, the faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is encouraging, convicting, and liberating. These three friends didn’t worship you because of the gifts you gave them, but because of the God you were to them.

They were convinced that you could rescue them from the fiery furnace; but even if you didn’t, it wouldn’t impact their love for you one bit. They’d rather be delivered into your presence through the fire, than worship some other false god just to escape the fire.

Father, forgive me when my worship of you vacillates, based on my circumstances. As cynical as I am about the “name it and claim it” and prosperity theologies, I’m quite capable of doubting your love when life gets complicated and painful. I want to worship you before there’s a fire or when I’m in the fire, if I’m delivered from the fire or if you choose to take me home through the fire.

Because of Jesus, such a longing isn’t wishful thinking, but a promised reality. Jesus wasn’t just the fourth man King Nebuchadnezzar saw walking around in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:25); he …

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Getting Still and Trusting Our Father

     Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Ex. 14:12-14 (NIV)

Heavenly Father, this story underscores how fear and worry are two of the most cunning and successful thieves. I understand why your children preferred returning to a predictable life of slavery in Egypt, over trusting you in the wilderness of the unknown. I’ve often felt a similar temptation to choose a known brokenness over the promise of unseen beauty. Help me be still and trust that you’ll fight for me, whatever the battle.

Thankfully, I’m not facing the threat of Egyptian soldiers. Often my biggest battles are within my heart. You tell me of your great love for me in Jesus–which I believe is true, yet often I look to people’s approval, control over my circumstances, and creature comforts to fill me up. Free me, Lord, free me.

At times I battle with trusting you with the hearts of those I love. I resort to ineffective ways of manipulating, spiritualizing, or trying to “fix” people. It never works, never. Help me to extend your welcoming heart, your merciful acceptance, and your counterintuitive grace. Yet again, I throw down my toolkit of trying to be the …

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President Trump, Me, Nebuchadnezzar and Our Sovereign God

     “After this time had passed, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven. My sanity returned, and I praised and worshiped the Most High and honored the one who lives forever. His rule is everlasting, and his kingdom is eternal. All the people of the earth are nothing compared to him. He does as he pleases among the angels of heaven and among the people of the earth. No one can stop him or say to him, ‘What do you mean by doing these things?‘ Daniel 4:34-35 (NLT)

Heavenly Father, I love this passage, and the truth it affirms. It gives me peace and hope, as I pray for (and vex about) our new President. But I too have much in common with Nebuchadnezzar. I’m in constant need of bowing my knees and acknowledging your sovereign rule over all things. I’m very thankful you are God, and I am not. Forgive me when I think less of you, and otherwise of me, or of anybody else.

Father, I’m glad you do as you please, and not as we beg you to do. I’ve lived long enough to praise you for some of the “No’s” I’ve received to prayers for which I desperately wanted a “Yes“. You do all things well, not easy; but in time, you will make all things beautiful. Give me grace in this day to wait for that Day.

Help me to trust your heart when I cannot see your hand at work. Forgive me for thinking I need to inform you about certain international crises and personal …

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