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Thanksgiving and Prayer

Thanksgiving and Prayer“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people.”Colossians 1:3-4

Paul starts his letter to the Colossian church with thanksgiving and prayer. He tells them that he is thankful for them and why. He is thankful for them because he’s heard of their faith in Christ and their love for His people.

  • Who are you thankful for today and why?

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you.”Colossians 1:9

Because Paul is thankful for the Colossians, he and his ministry team pray for them.* They pray that:

  • God will fill them with the knowledge of His Will (v. 9).
  • They will live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way (v. 10).
  • They will bear fruit in every good work (v. 10).
  • They will grow in the knowledge of God (v. 10).
  • They will be strengthened with all power according to God’s glorious might (v. 11).
  • They will have great endurance and patience (v. 11).
  • They will be joyfully thankful for the inheritance they share with all of God’s people (v. 12).

What a beautiful way to honor someone you are thankful for!

  • What blessings are you asking God to bestow on the people you are thanking Him for today?

*Click here to read the full passage at BibleGateway.com.

I’m sharing this post with the following sites today: Word of God Speak and Spiritual Sundays. Click on the links to see what others are sharing there too.

 

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Finding the Meaning in Meaningless

I woke up early this morning. Following my usual routine, only earlier, I got my first cup of coffee, sat down with my Bible, devotional books, and journal, and started my day. I asked God to show me His message for me today. Then I opened my Bible to find this:

Ecclesiastes

Our God has a sense of humor. I laughed right out loud. Thankfully, I know that life isn’t meaningless and that the author of Ecclesiastes knew it, too. At least he’d learned it by the time he finished writing his book. From some of what I read today, though, I think he knew it sooner, too.

In chapter 2, verses 24 and 25, he wrote, “A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?” Then in chapter 3, verse 14, he wrote, “I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.”

Before these verses, he had written about all of his failed experiments in finding meaning in life. He concluded that wisdom, pleasure, folly, and toil are all meaningless, meaningless, without any meaning at all. Between these two verses, he wrote about there being a time for everything, about God making everything beautiful in its time, about God putting eternity in the human heart. In 3:13, he came to the conclusion that finding satisfaction in life is a gift from God.

And so, if “everything that God does will endure forever” and “nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it” and if satisfaction “is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?” then our lives and activities only have meaning and purpose if we are participating in God’s work at His leading. He doesn’t need our help, but He invites us to join in because He loves us. He created us with a desire for Him. He created us with a need for meaningful work, for relevance. We find the second when we seek Him first.

Wait! Haven’t I read that somewhere else? “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”Matthew 6:33. Those are Jesus’ words from His Sermon on the Mount. To find meaning and purpose, we need to seek God and do whatever work He has for us to do. With Him, daily drudgery becomes a relevant contribution to His kingdom. Challenging opportunities become joyful privileges because we know they show our Father’s recognition of our growing maturity. We find our life’s significance in living every day for Him.

Father, thank You for inviting us to participate. Open our eyes to whatever activities You have for us to do. All of life is meaningful when we’re serving next to You. Please find us faithful. Amen.

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Gracefully Removing the Labels That Hurt

Ugly LabelIn my current Bible study class, we’re studying the topic of grace. In this past week’s lesson, we looked at the story of The Woman Caught in Adultery. You can read the story here if you are not familiar with it.

To summarize, this woman was dragged before Jesus by a group of legalistic religious leaders who were using her to trap Jesus. They wanted to know if He would enforce the letter of the law and have her stoned or deny the law and condemn Himself. They thought they’d wrangled Jesus into a no-win situation. But Jesus simply told them to let whoever among them who was without sin throw the first stone. The crowd slowly dispersed. When the woman realized that no one had condemned her, Jesus told her that He wouldn’t condemn her either. He told her to go and sin no more.

At this point in the lesson, our group leader asked us what we thought became of the woman. My imagination grabbed hold of that question, and I found myself thinking about it long after I’d gone home.

The Bible doesn’t answer this question for us. We like to hope that after an encounter like that . . . with Jesus . . . in person, the woman went away changed, happily following Jesus and living according to His Word.

Realistically, though, this woman would have had some issues to work through. The religious leaders exposed her sin to the whole community. The people hadn’t stoned her, but she bore a label anyway. Adulteress. Dead woman walking by Jesus’ mysterious grace. How did her husband and family feel about her sin? Her lover’s wife and friends? Was she welcome at the Temple? In the market? Or was she branded an outcast? Shunned?

When people receive grace from Jesus and try to change their lives as a result, people who liked the way they were often try to pull them back into sin while people who were hurt by their actions are afraid to trust them. Jesus lifts people like this woman up out of the dirt, telling them to go and sin no more, but other people continue to throw dirt at them behind His back. If they throw enough dirt, people who are trying to change are tempted to give up in despair.

Label of GraceI don’t know if this is what happened to the woman or not. I’d like to hope everyone there was changed by that encounter with Jesus that day. I’d also like to hope that, even if the crowd wasn’t changed, the woman knew Jesus forgave her and found His grace to be enough. (It is, you know. This is true.) I hope that, if this woman did find herself a Scarlet Letter outcast, she chose to leave what she no longer had anyway in order to stay close to Christ. If you are in this situation yourself, clinging to Christ is the key. Let Him strengthen, teach, and encourage you as you pray He’ll also work in the lives of those who are causing you pain. “Come near to God, and He will come near to you.”James 4:8

When I consider this Bible story from the what-happened-next point of view, I realize how important it is to follow Jesus’ example of grace. As His impromptu object lesson revealed, we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We find those words in Romans 3:23 followed by these, “and have been justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Justified: Just as if I’d never sinned. I learned that definition so long ago, I don’t even remember where. But it’s a perfect reminder here. When someone receives Jesus’ grace, that grace removes the sin labels. Therefore, our grace has to stop seeing those labels, labels that are no longer there. The shamed and humiliated adulteress has become the beloved daughter of our King. We need to learn to welcome her as our new sister and friend.

Since the afternoon of that Bible study, God has been working hard on me. He’s been bringing names to mind—people from the past, sometimes very long ago, whom I’ve labelled with concrete signs. The labels stick to people who’ve hurt me—or mine. I forgave but left the labels on . . . to protect myself . . . just in case. These labels don’t say things like adulteress. Instead, they say, “Dangerous! Beware.” These labels must come down. I must ask God for the grace to pray them down. I must entrust my heart to His care, and trust His work in their hearts as well.

At the same time, I’m realizing that there may be people out there I’ve hurt. Not intentionally, but maybe through a careless action, a misspoken or misinterpreted word. I’m asking God to give them grace for me—maybe even, if needed, give me the opportunity to make things right. I’m asking God to heal wounds given and received by filling all our hearts with His grace. May all the ugly labels go away.

Will you pray with me?

Father, thank You for the grace You offer. Help us to receive it. Help us to pass it on. We’ve all sinned and fall short of Your glory, but You sent Your Son to make it right. Help us to remember the gift we’ve been given at such great cost. Help us follow Christ’s example toward us. Please make all the ugly labels go away. Help us to see each other as You do, so we can encourage each other along. Thank You, Lord. Amen.

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Jeremiah 29:11 in Context

Jeremiah 29-13“This is what the Lord says: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’” –Jeremiah 29:10-13

Jeremiah 29:11 is a favorite verse for many. I love claiming the promise that the Lord has good plans for me, plans to prosper and not harm, plans to give hope and a future. These words are comforting in times of trouble; they inspire confidence!

But we often take them out of context which means we miss part of their meaning. When we look at the surrounding verses, we discover this verse is more than a promise about what God is going to do. God reveals our part—something He was waiting for from the Israelites and, therefore, may be waiting for from us, too.

These verses are part of a letter from Jeremiah, in Jerusalem, to God’s people living in exile in Babylon. The Israelites had not been faithful to God, and so He allowed other nations to conquer and rule over them. But He set a time limit on this. He told the people their exile would end after seventy years. He told them of His good plans for them then. Finally, He told them that they would pray to Him, and He would listen to them. They would seek Him and find Him when they chose to seek Him with all their heart.

It seems to me that God may have been saying, “I know it’s going to take you seventy years to get to that point—the point where you finally put me first and seek me with all your heart. So I am now making good plans for you for then.” He doesn’t invite them to pray to Him now. He simply says the day will come when they will pray to Him. He doesn’t invite them to seek Him wholeheartedly now. He only says they’ll find Him when they do. God knew it was going to take His people some time, but He was prepared to bless them abundantly when they got around to getting their hearts right. And He knew when that would happen.

From our point of view, the lesson seems so simple. We seek God wholeheartedly; He puts His good plans for us into motion. Voila! But the Israelites didn’t learn how to seek Him wholeheartedly for seventy years. And I can’t say I’ve mastered it yet. In fact, wholehearted devotion probably takes a lifetime to develop.

A lifetime.

Seventy (or eighty or a hundred or more) years!

So what are we to do?

We can start practicing now. We can start by identifying distractions to better make seeking God the primary aim of every day. What are some things you are tempted to seek with your whole heart in place of God? My list includes books, family, control, health, perfection. Am I wrong to enjoy these and want them in my life? No. Reading, enjoying time with loved ones, keeping order (to an extent), staying as healthy as I can, and doing my best are all good things–gifts from God’s hand to appreciate. I just have to be sure that they aren’t keeping me from seeking God, from discovering what He wants me to do each day, from worshiping, praying, serving, or loving Him over all else. He’s given us a lifetime of learning to put Him first, letting everything else fall into its proper place under Him.

Am I saying we have to earn the right to enjoy God’s good plans? Not really. It’s more of a parent/child thing. Imagine that you have a toddler who wants to drive the car. You look forward to the day when he will be ready and able to drive the car. You want him to enjoy that privilege. But you know your toddler isn’t ready for that good thing just yet. In fact, as a sixteen-year-old, he may not be ready for that good thing just yet—if he hasn’t shown responsibility for his own actions, concern for others, or respect for authority. You have good plans for your child’s future, but you must wait for him to mature or disaster will be the result.

God knows when the time will be right for all of His plans for us to go into effect. He’s watching for the moment—wanting it for us as much as we want it ourselves. He has good plans for us—plans that will glorify His name. Let’s practice seeking Him wholeheartedly while we wait.

Father, thank You for the assurance of Your good plans for us. The best of these is that we will grow in our knowledge of You! Help us to seek You more each day, trusting You to let everything else fall into its proper place. We love You, Lord, and long to please You. Please teach us how. Amen.

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God Reveals His Truth and Love

God Reveals His Truth and Love“Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth.” -1 Kings 17:24

First, Elijah showed up on her doorstep as she was preparing to make a final meal for herself and her son. She had thought her little family would eat a final meal then starve, but Elijah asked her to include him in that final meal. The last of the widow’s flour and oil lasted until the drought came to an end!

Then her son became ill and died. The woman went to Elijah to complain, asking if her son’s death was punishment for sin. Elijah didn’t answer. He just asked for the boy—and asked God to bring him back to life. (You can read the whole story here. It’s found in 1 Kings 17.)

I found it strange that this was the point where the woman came to believe that Elijah was a man of God and that God’s Word from his mouth was the truth. Why wasn’t the miracle of the flour and oil enough to convince her?

As I thought about it, I wondered if maybe she thought the only reason the flour and oil lasted was for Elijah’s sake. Maybe she saw herself and her son as coincidental, maybe just useful, beneficiaries of Elijah’s blessings.

But the resurrection of her son was personal—a gift just for her. God knew what she needed. He showed her He cared—not only for His prophets but also for lonely widows and their sons.

Father, we know You care. You see our pain and suffering. You listen to our prayers. You answer according to Your mysterious but perfect Will. You are preparing us for something better someday: eternity with You—and with no pain or suffering.

But there are many out there who don’t yet know this truth. Please reach out to them as you did to the Widow at Zarephath. Get their attention. Reveal Your love. Use us as You used Elijah. In anticipation of such, help us live and speak Your truth always. We thank You, Lord. Amen.

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Making the Most of God-Given Opportunities

Thanking God for Opportunities“I tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you, but you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commands and followed me with all his heart, doing only what was right in my eyes. You have done more evil than all who lived before you. You have made for yourself other gods, idols made of metal; you have aroused my anger and turned your back on me.”1 Kings 14:8-9

I found a gentle reminder in this verse. God gives us opportunities. We choose to make the most of them for His glory and our good—or not. David chose to follow God with all his heart. Jeroboam, the king being spoken to in the above verses, did not. As a result, God did not allow Jeroboam’s family to continue to rule. In fact, a challenger rose up to wipe the family out. (See 1 Kings 15:27-30.)


As parents, we give our children opportunities. We want them to succeed in life. We want what’s best for them. Our children, however, get to choose how to use those opportunities. When they’re young, we offer them healthy meals. They choose to eat them and grow strong (and maybe get dessert when they’re through) or to skip the broccoli, miss out on its benefits, and deal with our frustration. When they’re older, we may offer to help finance their college education. But they’ll choose whether to work hard and make the most of the opportunity or to squander it and fail.

When our children reject or waste an opportunity, we may feel responsible. As we watch our children suffer the consequences of poor decisions, we may wonder if maybe we shouldn’t have offered the opportunity to begin with. But the truth is our children are responsible for their own choices. If they do well, the credit belongs to them—though some of it usually rubs off on us. If they do poorly, that’s on them, too—though, again, fair or not, this often falls on us as well. Thankfully, God knows the truth one way or another—and He understands better than any other.

God gave David an opportunity. David chose to honor God—except in the case of Uriah the Hittite (1 Kings 15:5). God honored David in return, establishing a Kingdom that would stand in spite of the failings of David’s descendants.

Likewise, God gave Jeroboam an opportunity. Jeroboam chose to squander it. As a result, people who read the story sometimes question why God gave Jeroboam the opportunity in the first place. We don’t know the answer to that question. We only know that God gave Jeroboam an opportunity, and Jeroboam messed up. The failure is Jeroboam’s. God’s Kingdom stands without this man.

Let’s go back to that gentle reminder. God gives us opportunities just like He gave David and Jeroboam opportunities. He also gives us the freedom to choose how we will use them. Today let’s spend some time thinking about the opportunities God has given to us. Let’s consider how we’re using them, whether or not we’re doing the best we can with what we have to follow and honor God. Are we people after God’s own heart or are we going our own way? The choice comes with the gift.


Father, thank You for all the opportunities You give to us. Help us to show our gratitude by using them in ways that honor You. Please search our hearts and reveal to us any selfish or wicked ways. We want to follow You like David did. Help us live lives that glorify Your name. Amen.

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Asking the Source Who Can and Cares

Purple and Blue“. . . and God said, ‘Ask for whatever you want me to give you.’” -1 Kings 3:5

The story of King Solomon asking God for wisdom has always intrigued me. What an offer! God actually appeared to the new king in a dream and said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” Solomon, in turn, asked for the one thing he needed most to be a successful king: wisdom.

A new thought jumped out at me as I read the story through this most recent time. God wants us all to ask Him for what we want. Our desires matter to Him. This matters to me.

Like many women, I’m a born people pleaser. My family has started calling me on this. When they ask me what I want to do, I’ll usually say, “You choose.” They’ll get frustrated and insist I choose. They want to know what I want. But what I want is for them to be happy. It’s nice to know they want the same for me.

God wants us to tell Him what we want, too. He loves us and wants to give us good things. If we ask for something unwise, He’ll say, “No,” unless saying, “Yes,” will teach us something. Life is a training ground for eternity, after all. God utilizes opportunities to train and discipline. Asking for something unwise may give Him such an opportunity.

Which leads me to a follow-up thought that came from reflecting on this passage. While verse 5 is the most intriguing, verse 4 sets the stage:

“The king went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices, for that was the most important high place, and Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar.”

Solomon was at Gibeon when God appeared to him in a dream—after Solomon had offered a thousand burnt offerings. Solomon the brand new king was desperately seeking God’s favor. He wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. He wanted to lead God’s people well. He wanted God’s blessing on his work.

This progression of events says to me that if we want God’s blessing, assistance, and favor in our lives, if we want Him to ask us what we want, we need to spend time in His Presence seeking such.

Don’t get me wrong. We can’t earn anything from God. Everything He gives comes by grace. But He created us to enjoy a loving relationship with Him. When we seek Him, He responds. He listens to our hearts. He gives us what we need.

Solomon was wise before God gave him great wisdom. To find what he needed, He went straight to the Source and stayed to receive the answer he wanted more than anything. His example here is one we’re wise to follow each day.

Father, thank You for caring about our desires. Above all, we want more of You! Call us into Your Presence often. Help us to ask for the things we need to serve You well wherever we are, whatever roles we fill. We love You, Lord. Amen.

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Devising Ways to Restore Relationship

“Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But that is not what God desires; rather, he devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from him.” -2 Samuel 14:14

2 Samuel 14-14This verse from 2 Samuel appears in the middle of the account of one of the greatest tragedies of King David’s life. His son Absalom had murdered David’s other son Amnon to avenge David’s daughter Tamar. Then Absalom had fled to Geshur where he stayed for three years. Second Samuel 13:39 tells us that David longed to go to Absalom but refused to do so. The verse above was spoken by a woman sent to David by Joab, David’s nephew and the commander of his army, who wanted to help David restore the relationship with his son. Unfortunately, though David chose to allow Absalom to return to Jerusalem, he still refused to meet with him face to face. Absalom became bitter, tried to steal the kingdom from David, and was murdered by Joab.

I wonder how things would have been different had David welcomed his son home with open arms . . . or at least with a little face time at the day’s equivalent of Starbuck’s.

We can’t be too hard on David, though. We don’t know what Absalom was like before Amnon assaulted Tamar. He may have been rebellious and threatening from the start. And murder is a serious offense. If David wasn’t comfortable allowing a murderer, even his own son, to live under his roof, near his wives and other children, I’m not sure we can fault him for that. Still the ultimate outcome was tragic. Absalom’s death broke David’s heart.

I love the insights of verse 14, however. This verse is all about God and His relationship with us—an example the woman encouraged David to follow regarding his son—one we can follow regarding close family members or friends who wound us. Let’s look at this verse more closely:

“Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die.” We have wronged God, and we can’t fix it any more than we can pick up water once it’s spilled on the ground. What’s done is done. The consequence of death is inevitable.

Or is it? Keep reading:

“But that is not what God desires; rather, he devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from him.”

God is God. What He wants will be. He wants relationship. He won’t force us into a relationship with Him because He wants us to come to Him because we want to. Yet He made a way to make relationship possible again.

I love that this verse was written long before Jesus came. He Is the way that God devised to save us from the consequences of our sin, to restore relationship. But the woman who spoke to David did not know about Him. She must have had great faith in God, in His mercy, and in His love and faithfulness. Maybe she was referring to the then-existing sacrificial system. Maybe she had noticed God’s work in the lives of people around her, His drawing them to Him. Whatever she was referring to, she knew our God wants relationship with His people and works to make it possible in spite of our sin.

This is why it’s so important for us to forgive those who have wronged us. Yes. We need to protect ourselves from further harm, and we have that right. Yet, as far as it is possible, we must strive to restore relationship. We must prayerfully devise appropriate ways to reach out with forgiveness and in hopes of fellowship even if all we can do is call or send a message once in a while to let the person know they’re still in our thoughts, we still care.

Granted, there are times when even that is not possible. The person, like Absalom, may be dangerous (physically, mentally, or emotionally) or may be uninterested in further contact. If that’s the case, our responsibility is to forgive, pray when God brings the person to mind, and move on. But when we can work toward mending a relationship, we offer the one who hurt us a great gift, and we receive an even greater gift from God in return as He uses our actions to make us more like Christ, His Son.

David refused to welcome Absalom home, but God has devised the perfect way to invite His banished children to enjoy a forever relationship with Him. Not all accept the invitation, but it’s there just the same. We thank Him when we follow His example and reach out with forgiveness.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” –Romans 12:18

Father, I’ll thank You forever for sending Jesus to make it possible for me and for all who want to to enjoy life with You! When others wrong me, help me to remember what You’ve done. Give me the desire to forgive and, if there is a way, reveal my part in restoring a healthy relationship. Amen.

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Giving Our Petitions to God

Then Hannah prayed and said: ‘My heart rejoices in the LORD; in the LORD my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance.’” –1 Samuel 2:1, emphasis mine

For This ChildHannah’s story is one of my all-time favorites. The Bible only gives her two chapters, but there is much we can learn from this devoted woman of God.

When I read of her misery at not having a desperately longed-for child, compounded by taunts from her husband’s other wife, my heart always breaks for her. When Eli confronts her during a time of intense prayer, accusing her of being drunk, I want to scold him for being so dense: “Hasn’t the poor woman suffered enough?” And then, when she finally bears this child and turns him over to the Lord, I admire her courage at following through on her promise. (If you are unfamiliar with this priceless story, you’ll find it in 1 Samuel 1.)

But today, I’m drawn to something about the story that I usually miss, and I think, perhaps, it may be the whole point. Remember, I just told you, Hannah’s story is found in 1 Samuel 1. The chapter ends with Hannah putting Samuel into Eli’s care for a lifetime of service in the house of the Lord. Chapter 2, however, begins with Hannah’s prayer of joy and praise. Hannah gave up her son, then Hannah praised the Lord.

You would think the prayer of joy and praise would have come when Hannah learned she was expecting Samuel, or maybe a little later, when he was born. Then, you would think putting Samuel into Eli’s care would result in a time of mourning, or maybe another time of petition, asking for more children to replace the one she’s given up. Wouldn’t you think this? I think I would.

But I’m thankful for Hannah’s example here. We often view her as a symbol of hope for childless women—and that she is! She’s also a mentor, though, for all women who’ve ever had the privilege of raising a child or two or more.

You see, we don’t bear children in order to have them—to possess them, to keep them forever in our care. We bear children in order to send them off in faithful service to God through whatever occupation He leads them into! This does not mean we drop them off at our local church for the pastor to raise from the day they’re weaned—like Hannah did. We are blessed to be able to keep our children a little bit longer than that. But, like Hannah, our goal from the day they are born is to raise them to know, love, and serve God as He directs throughout their lives. He gives them to us, so we can give them back to Him.

That’s why the day we successfully launch them is a day to sincerely rejoice! (even if it’s through a few tears.)

And, when this day comes, though we’ll miss our children, we can trust that, just as God blessed Hannah with more children, He will bless us with more children, too—people to love and nurture, projects to complete in His name.

As I ponder all this, I have one more thought to add to this thought. And, as I mentioned earlier, it may be the thought, so I hope you’ll bear with me for just a few paragraphs more.

Hannah’s petition for a child, the way she handled it, can apply to all petitions we may bring before God. When considering what we want or need, rather than considering what these will mean to us personally, like Hannah we can consider what they’ll mean to God’s Kingdom and to our work within it. We pray for things we can develop for the honor and glory of God. We pray for things that will build His Kingdom, drawing more people to Him. Then we care for these things as God provides, releasing them willingly and with praise when it comes time for that. Perhaps this is what it means to give our petitions to God. We ask for what we want or need, releasing the answer to Him even before we receive it, with faithful intentions to use all God provides for His Kingdom’s good.

That is what Hannah did. Let’s learn from her and do the same.

Father, thank You for Hannah’s example. Teach us to consider Your Kingdom and our role in it whenever we present our requests to You. Thank You for the gifts You bring into our lives for a time. Help us to nurture them as You intend, and then release them back to You with joy. Let all we do be for the honor of Your name. We love You, Lord! Amen.

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Yielding the Outcome to the Lord’s Authority

 “While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’
   Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ And immediately the leprosy left him.” –Luke 5:12-13

Jesus canThese two verses reveal so much about having the right attitude toward God when we pray for our own wants and needs. The leper wanted to be healed. He knew Jesus had to power to heal him. But he didn’t demand this healing. He left the outcome in Jesus’ hands: “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” In this case, Jesus was willing. He chose to heal the man.

But what if He hadn’t? The leper realized that this was Jesus’ right. He chose to trust Jesus with the outcome either way. The Bible doesn’t tell us how the man would have reacted if Jesus had said, “I’m not willing. No healing today.” But I’d like to believe the man had heard enough about Jesus to know that He Is God and He Is good and He always chooses what’s best for His children—even when they don’t understand why. And I’d really like to try to always pray with that same faith. Though it’s hard to understand when God says, “No,” it honors Him with the trust and respect He deserves.

When we present our requests to God, let’s remember the leper’s prayer:

“Lord, if You are willing, You can!” . . . and if You aren’t willing, we choose to trust You with that. You are God. You are able. You always choose what’s best for the glory of Your Kingdom, for the good of everyone. Help us to know this regardless of any prayer’s outcome. We love You, Lord. Amen.