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That the Fully Committed Will Stay Strong

Parachute Prayer Post“And may your hearts be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time.” -1 Kings 8:61

After Solomon built and dedicated God’s Temple, he spoke to the people. 1 Kings 8:61 records some of his words. When I read the first phrase of this verse, I started to pray for people I know who aren’t fully committed to the Lord. But then I read the last phrase. Solomon wasn’t urging the people to become committed to the Lord; he wanted them to stay that way. That little phrase, as at this time, reminded me, once again, that while it’s important to pray for the one lost sheep to be found (Luke 15:1-7), it’s also important to pray for the 99 who are safely in the fold.

And Solomon’s own life proves this. Just three chapters later, we read of Solomon’s downfall and death. This king who urged God’s people to remain faithful did not. Tragically, his choices set a series of events in motion that led the whole nation to fall. Likewise, when strong Christians falter, they tend to take others down with them. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” When our enemy gets hold of someone influential, he’s especially thrilled. It’s his opportunity to take a whole herd. For everyone’s sake, we must pray that those who are committed to God will find the strength in Him to stay that way.

Because Solomon was a king and because Christians are God’s “chosen people, a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9), let’s let symbols of royalty be our prompt to pray. When we see crowns, thrones, scepters, news of one royal family or another, let’s ask God to strengthen those who are fully committed to Him. May their hearts remain that way for their good, for the good of God’s Kingdom, and for God’s glory. Amen.


For more prayer prompts, read Parachute Prayer: The Practice of Praying Continually. Available in paperback or for Kindle.

 

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A New Understanding for Any Age

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”1 Timothy 4:12

DSC00248eI came across this verse during my devotional time one recent morning and couldn’t help but feel a little sad. You see, it used to be one of my favorite Bible verses. It’s a call to be bold and take on the world in spite of youth with the energy, idealism, and strength of youth. Who doesn’t love that?!

Someone who’s reluctantly beginning to realize that there are fewer and fewer people out there looking down on her for being young. Let’s face it, when you’re praying this verse for your adult children . . .

Heavy sigh.

God didn’t let me mourn for long. He drew my attention right back to that verse and helped me understand it in a currently applicable way.

Timothy was a young minister working with the church Paul had established in Ephesus. Because he was young and, perhaps, a lot of members of that church were a little older, Paul knew Timothy’s age could become something that would hold him back. Timothy might have been tempted to let himself be intimidated by others because of his age. So Paul told him not to let anyone look down on him because he was young. So . . .

  • If Paul were writing to you, what potentially intimidating factor might he see?

Don’t let anyone look down on you because . . . you’re quiet? You have a disability or chronic illness? You’re, um, not as young as you’d like to believe people think you are? You don’t have as many credentials as someone else? You’ve been abandoned by someone you counted on?

  • How would you fill in the blank? Don’t let anyone look down on you because . . .

This is what Paul might have written to you.

But that’s only half the point of this verse. The truth is that none of us, not even Timothy, has the power to control what others think of us. If someone in the Ephesian church wanted to look down on Timothy, he wouldn’t have been able to stop them. Timothy’s only power was to keep their opinions from keeping him from doing what God called him to do. In other words, Timothy was to “keep people from looking down on him” by proving their opinions wrong, by capably doing what God called him to do—in spite of his age.

New UnderstandingWhat a relief! This favorite verse of mine can still be a favorite because, in truth, it applies to people of any age. It remains a bold call to take on the world in spite of whatever we think people may look down on us for. We do so with the energy, optimism, and strength God provides. We do so for the glory of His name.

Father, please help us to identify anything in our lives that we fear others look down on us for. Then help us to entrust that thing to You. You created us at the perfect time with all we need to fulfill Your purpose for our lives. Therefore, we shouldn’t let anyone intimidate us, even if we think they’re looking down on us. Please fill us with your energy, optimism, and strength regardless of our age or any other thing. We thank You, Lord. Amen.

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Hear Me: There Is Only One God!

DSC01601e“In that day the people who live on this coast will say, ‘See what has happened to those we relied on, those we fled to for help and deliverance from the king of Assyria! How then can we escape?’”Isaiah 20:6, NIV

Isaiah 20, a mere six verses, carries a strong warning for God’s people and for those they might be tempted to depend on. In this chapter, God leads Isaiah to demonstrate the suffering and humiliation that Egypt and Cush are going to experience. (You can read the gory details at BibleGateway.com by clicking here.) The reason for this humiliation: God’s people turned to those nations for help instead of relying on God.

The message for us is two-fold. First, if ever we, as God’s children, choose to place someone or something in God’s place (especially if that someone encourages or allows this like Egypt and Cush did), God will bring that idol down. There is only one God. If His people forget this, He will reveal the truth. He will demonstrate His power and show the idol’s lack thereof. Need I say that we’re not doing any person we care about any favors if we attempt to put them in the place of God. No one wants to end up like Egypt and Cush.

Does this mean that God is self-centered and power hungry? Absolutely not! God loves His people. He also knows that He is the only One with the power to care for them, protect them, guide them, and, ultimately, lead them into His glory. All others will only lead them astray.

God puts idols in their place for our good, though we may suffer with them for a time when He does. Verse 5 of Isaiah 20 says, “Those who trusted in Cush and boasted in Egypt will be put to shame.” God’s people turned to these nations for help instead of trusting in God. When God put these nations to shame, His people were humiliated, too. Everyone involved learned a painful lesson about their place before the only Almighty God of the Universe.

DSC01931eSecond, if ever someone else turns to us before calling on God, it’s our responsibility to point them to God. Otherwise, we’re guilty of the sin of Egypt and Cush. No nation can take the place of God in its people’s lives or any other people’s lives. No parent can take the place of God in his or her child’s life. No pastor can take the place of God in the lives of a congregation. Those who try or who accept such a position will be brought low by God.

Does this mean we shouldn’t help people when we can? That no one should be able to depend on us? Absolutely not! Children depend on parents. Congregations depend on their pastors. Citizens depend on their governments. The Bible even endorses this. God places people in leadership positions to serve and care for others. But those who accept this God-given responsibility must point those others to God, giving Him the glory, not taking credit for themselves.

Two Bible characters come to mind as perfect examples. In the Old Testament, both Joseph and Daniel served rulers in countries not their own. God placed them in positions of authority where they could honor His name. Both men were asked for assistance by the rulers they served. Both did what God enabled them to do, giving all the credit to God.

When Pharaoh asked Joseph to interpret his dream, Joseph said, “I cannot do it, but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires” (Genesis 41:16).

Likewise, when Nebuchadnezzar asked Daniel to interpret his dream, Daniel replied, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come” (Daniel 2:27-28).

When God blesses us with the opportunity to care for, protect, or lead someone else, it’s our privilege to be able to give the credit for our abilities to Him. Doing so blesses everyone, builds God’s kingdom, and honors His name.

Father, thank You for this graphic reminder, not only of Your power, but also of Your desire to be our God and to care for us. Remind us to turn to You first whenever we need help. And help us to see each opportunity for service that You provide as a beautiful chance to tell other people about You. We know that You love us and are so thankful You’ve drawn us into relationship with You. Help us to live to honor that in everything we do. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

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Called to Pray Fervently

Red Lantana“Then once again I fell prostrate before the LORD for forty days and forty nights; I ate no bread and drank no water, because of all the sin you had committed, doing what was evil in the LORD’s sight and so arousing his anger. I feared the anger and wrath of the LORD, for he was angry enough with you to destroy you. But again the LORD listened to me . . . I lay prostrate before the LORD those forty days and forty nights because the LORD had said he would destroy you.” –Deuteronomy 9:18-19, 25

God’s Word touched my heart this morning when I read these words written by Moses himself. In this passage, Moses is speaking to the people he’d been leading for more than forty years. These people, without Moses, are finally getting ready to enter the Promised Land. Though they are the same people, God’s chosen people—the Israelites, they are a different people, a new generation, most of whom have no memory of actually living in and being rescued from Egypt.

They also have no memory of the above event, yet Moses speaks to them as if they were the ones who committed this grave sin: worshiping a golden calf instead of their one, true God.

Why? I kind of think Moses wanted these people at this time to know just how much he cared about them and just how much he wanted them to succeed, even though he wouldn’t be going with them into the Promised Land.

Just think about it: Moses had just spent 40 days and 40 nights on a mountaintop with God, receiving the Ten Commandments and the rest of the Law. During this time, Moses didn’t eat or drink an-y-thing. He comes down from the mountain only to find that his people have already turned away from God to worship an idol they made from gold. God is ready to destroy the people once and for all, but Moses prays for them.

Does he say, “Lord, please don’t destroy these people. Thank You. Amen.”

No.

He throws himself face down on the ground, I mean nose-in-the-dirt, and begs for their lives for 40 days and 40 nights—again, or maybe still, without eating or drinking.

Now that’s commitment.

I don’t know that I could ever pray that intensely, and I believe Moses needed God’s help to do so. But I do know there are times when God calls us to pray for our people with all the fervency and determination that we can muster—and He will help us, too.

I have a few ideas to share about this, but this post is long enough. I’ll continue over the next few days with thoughts on when and how to pray for others with urgency. I invite you to stayed tuned!

Father, thank You for Moses’ example—and thank You for hearing him. We know You hear us, too. Please teach us how to pray. Amen.

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Praying for Decision-Makers Whose Choices Concern Us

“May all the kings of the earth praise you, Lord, when they hear what you have decreed. May they sing of the ways of the Lord, for the glory of the Lord is great.” –Psalm 138:4-5

It’s easy to become alarmed when we read or hear in the news that a national or world leader or group of leaders is making decisions contrary to God’s known will, in other words, in opposition to what’s clear in His Word.

We don’t have to be alarmed, though. Our sovereign God is in control. He knows what’s going on, who’s behind it, and how it will end. And nobody does anything without His consent. He may not approve, but He does allow, and when He does, He knows just what He’s going to do about it.

So. No worries. God’s got this.

In the meantime, though. There is something more positive that we can do whenever we hear alarming news such as this. Like the psalmist, we can pray. In fact, he even gave us the words. Psalm 138:4-5 is a prayer for the leaders of this earth. When God brings them to mind through any news source, let’s remember to pray that they will all learn to praise Him. Let’s pray they’ll learn what God has decreed. Let’s pray that they’ll come to sing of His glory as they realize His glory is great.

In Romans 13:1, Paul tells us that “there is no authority except that which God has established.” That being the case, those authorities need direction from God. I have no doubt that He can and will use them for His purposes right where they are right as they are, but just think how much more effective they’d be and how much more fulfilled personally if they were working in cooperation with God, living as His faithful servants, longing to touch His heart.

Father, thank You for the prayers of the Bible. Thank You for leading us to this one today. Help us to remember these words and pray them often, for the good of our world, our nation, and our community, for the good of those who serve in positions of authority. Amen.