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Heavenly Father,

Two of my grandkids were pretty impressed by the number of people “following me” on a social media. On a whim, I made an account on Instagram, but have never used it. My granddaughter checked my account and said, “How did you do that?! You only have one post. It was up for 2 weeks and you are way ahead of me!” (She hacked my phone and posted the one picture on my account!) What she doesn’t realize is the older I get, the more people I have made contact with in my life. Her social circle at this point is primarily family, school and church friends. Lord, You have put me in contact with an ever- broadening amount of people in my ever-growing longer lifetime. It’s not that I’m famous; it’s simply a reminder of how many people have crossed my path in my lifetime. It is amazing how many chances we get to touch someone else’s life… and they ours- some just for a moment, others for a lifetime.

“Following” someone in todays’ world is as easy as clicking on an icon. Yet we need to be extremely cautious who we follow in real life. Someone may sound good, have great photos and ideas but who are they really? Who are they following? Who am I following? Will my main life purpose be to gather followers, share recipes, crafts and photos? Will my focus in life be to sway others to my way of thinking? If so, what difference will that make in my life or in others’ lives? Who I follow is critical in my life.

Father, I chose a while back to follow Jesus. I continue to choose to follow Him every day. I don’t want anyone to follow me just for the sake of following my thoughts and ideas (or even my life) if it is not going somewhere good. If anyone is following me, I pray it is because they know I am following Jesus…and He leads us to eternal life with You. Let me be purposeful in living my life, for I never know who might be watching and following me even if just for a moment. I pray they only follow me long enough to follow Jesus for themselves!

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“’Come, follow Me,’ Jesus said. ‘And I will make you fishers of men.’” Matthew 4:19

“Then He said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?’” Luke 9:23-25

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, who am I following? Who is following me?

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Heavenly Father,

Walking into my son’s home that is filled with their multitude of “Fur Babies,” I expected a strong smell of animals after being overwhelmed by the pack that met me at the door. Instead, I was greeted by a pleasing aroma of a cranberry spice candle burning. There was something very soothing about that fragrance that made me feel so loved and welcomed. I’ve been in shopping malls where expensive perfumes and fragrances are so strong, it nearly knocks you over. This fragrance was different. Perhaps it was the love in their home- the deep bond between my son and his wife, the love they have for me and my husband, the love we have for them…even the love they have for those cute hairy canines of different shapes and sizes and that wild cat. What a lovely smell love has!

My husband recently read me the account in the Bible where Noah sacrificed animals to You after the great flood. It was a pleasing aroma to You, Lord. How crazy is it that we can soothe You? That we can smell pleasing to You? I’m certain there are times we downright stink! But when we truly love You and others, it is a pleasing aroma to You. Father God, I want to please You and not be offensive to You. My sinful nature reeks! It can be my attitude, my mouth, my thoughts or my actions. Any one of those can cause You to hold Your breath and gag.

Yet when I let Jesus be Lord in me, then I am a fragrant aroma to You. You can smell the love! So can others. I can be a simple little candle that burns with the love and passion of Jesus Christ. No matter how bad the world stinks, I have the ability to add to its stench or fill my little circle of the world with the sweet aroma of Christ.  To those who desire to find You, the beautiful fragrance will draw them to You. To those who are in rebellion against You, the sweet aroma of Jesus Christ smells like death. Father, may the aroma of Jesus in me rise up to please You and spread out to draw others to You.

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“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.”     2 Corinthians 2:14-17

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, let me get rid of my stinky selfish nature and make Jesus Lord of my life so I can be a pleasing aroma by…

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Heavenly Father,

We have a wipe-off board posted on the back of the door at work in the ladies’ restroom that is used for fun communication. Someone starts a sentence. Throughout the day, everyone who visits the bathroom who wants to can add their thought to the ongoing list. Yesterday, on the last day of the year, someone wrote “What is your New Year’s resolution?” One of my co-workers started off the list with “Eat more junk food!” I have a pretty good idea who wrote that! Being a bit more on the serious side most of the time, I wrote “Love more deeply.” Over 35 years ago, I asked You to help me learn to love…and You have taught me more each year. I know it will happen in this new year as well. I want to love You more deeply… and love everyone else more deeply, too.

A Christian radio station has been inviting listeners to go to their website to list their resolutions. The DJ reported that the overwhelming theme is people want to spend more time with You, Lord. Obviously, the best way to share love is to share time and life together. In the last couple of weeks surrounding Christmas, I asked quite a few people, “If you could give anything to Jesus for His birthday, what would you give Him?” The main gifts mentioned were time and attention. Isn’t that what we all want from those we love?

Father, I can resolve to love You more deeply but as hard as I could possibly try, I can’t love without Your help. All love flows from You. You love each of us so much more deeply than we could ever comprehend. We will be discovering the depth of Your love for all eternity. I can spend more time with You and give You more attention: listen to You, follow You, enjoy You, obey You, worship You and willingly submit to You. As I spend more time with You, I will naturally fall more in love with You and will have an ever-growing love for others! So I joyfully resolve to surrender more of my life to You this year and watch expectantly as You help me love more deeply!

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“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed His love among us; He sent His One and Only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us…We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” 1 John 4:7-12, 19-21

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me with my new year’s resolution to…

ice storm

 

Heavenly Father,

I’ve survived two major Oklahoma ice storms which sound like war zones when there are trees hanging over your house. As the trees freeze from heavy ice, the cracking of the wood begins. There is nothing you can do but wait for the branches to fall and pray they don’t come through the roof. With the extra weight, they shake the entire house like an earthquake. We thought for sure they were at least 3 foot diameter limbs only to find out later they were closer to 3 inches in diameter. There are very few sunny spots in our front or back yard. Someone let an elm tree grow up right next to our den where we spend the most time. Its trunk takes two grown adults to hug it all the way around. Some of its limbs are as large as most trees. It dropped bombs of limbs and ice on us for almost three days. There were many close calls but no major damage.

City-wide, falling tree limbs hit electrical, cable and phone lines and took out power with huge greenish blue flashes as transformers blew. In an instant, all power is gone. That’s when you begin to realize how much we all take power for granted. There’s no light, no heat, no news or weather, no computer, and no hot water. Food becomes an issue with limited ways to cook. Some stores are without power. Electric lines are on the ground. Traffic lights are out. Tree limbs block the roads. Ice is falling from overhead lines so you take a risk driving or walking around. Whole neighborhoods looked completely black at night. The most common question asked is “Do you have power?” Without thinking, we all still flip the switch every time we walk into a room even though we are fully aware there is no power. We begin to realize how much we take for granted… until it’s not available.

Father, forgive me when I take You and Your power for granted. It is You who makes the sun shine, the air we breathe, the water we need, the shelter we have. We take it all for granted that it will always be there for us. We don’t give it a thought. We don’t stop to praise You for Your unlimited, non-stoppable life-giving power. No storm, no trial, no challenge, no battle can take away Your power. You are faithful and dependable to give us life and all we need. We depend upon You for everything! Lord God, Your power never goes out!

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“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” 2 Peter 1:3-4

“Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” John 1:3-5

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being.” Revelation 4:11

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me trust Your power and not take these things for granted….

sunset

 

Heavenly Father,

There are millions of reasons to be thankful…but there is a sly, slithering scheme to steal the joy that is meant to be shared between me and You, Lord. I could be basking in the blessings You continually bathe me in, but the enemy tries to block my awareness of those bountiful blessings by inserting little doubts, fears, and anxieties meant to take my focus off You and all You give me by distracting me with lies and deceptions. He tries to stir up trouble- especially when I am doing something for You. It will not happen without a fight! I will battle against this attack with extra thanksgiving and praise.

Lord God, I am eternally grateful that: You are always with me and will never ever leave me…You are closer to me than anyone else…You live in me through the Holy Spirit… I never have to fight alone…You have complete authority and power over all things…You have great plans for me, those I love and for all those who submit to You…You love me enough to send Jesus to give me eternal life…nothing can ever separate me from You or Your love…the enemy has to cower away at the name of Jesus Christ which I can proclaim loudly and confidently knowing He is mine and I am His!

Thank You for: the breath of life You gave me when You created me and each person I love…the newness of life breathed into me through the Holy Spirit…a husband who loves You and me…children who have grown to be brothers and sisters-in-Christ…grandchildren to love, play and pray with…precious friends and family who share my earthly and eternal life…amazing ways I see You at work every single day…this breathtaking world which is dull in comparison to the home You have waiting for me. Father, I will spend all eternity trying to thank You for everything and there will be no end to the list. The more I thank You, the more we can feast together on the love and joy in the midst of thanksgiving.

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“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7

“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song.” Psalm 95:1-2

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100:4-5

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, let my gratefulness bless You and me both as I list things I am thankful for:

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Heavenly Father,

My sweet 5th grade granddaughter and I have developed a competition. When I drop her off at her house, we both try to be the last one to say “I love you more!” She tries to yell it quickly as she closes the door before I can get another word out. I’m sure we’re not the only ones who try to prove our love this way. I think I came up with a line she can never top… “I loved you first!” I pulled the grandma card. I settled the issue with the fact that I loved her before she was born …while she was still in her momma’s womb…before she knew who I was. BAM! There is no way she can top that! She still tries! And I love that she does.

Lord, I struggle often with how to express my love for You. I want so much to voice the ever-growing love and awe I have for You. No matter what words or actions I can ever come up with, Your love is always more. It always has been, is now, and forever will be. You loved me first. You created me. You breathed life and love into me. You sustain me. You are my life. You loved me way back when You sent Jesus to be born, live, die and be resurrected- so I could live with You forever. Your love is eternal with no beginning or end. There is no way to measure it and certainly no way to out-give it. Yet I never want to quit trying.

My love for You grows every day… because I can experience more of Your love as it expands my heart to make room for more…And the more I share it, my soul holds even more. Someday, my body won’t be able to contain it and I will burst out of this earthly shell to make room for an even greater measure! You loved me first. Yet through all eternity, I will be growing to love You more!

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“This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:10-12

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1

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Prayer Prompt-

Lord, help me express my love for You by…

 

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Heavenly Father,

My granddaughter is learning to do tricks on a balance beam along with a whole menagerie of spectacular flips and bends. Hours are spent in practice to keep her focus intent so her balance and skill improve. She did not inherit even a tiny bit of her athletic balancing skill from me. I seem to have a knack for tripping very ungracefully. Yet as clumsy as I am, I can testify it also takes practice to train our spiritual eyes on You, Lord. When I fix my heart, mind and soul on You, I can do amazing things far beyond my own capabilities.

There are times I know I am “walking on water” so to so speak (like Peter did when he crawled over the side of the boat and walked out on the lake to Jesus). When I find myself truly focused on You, Lord, I can glide above the most turbulent waves unruffled and do what seems impossible. I know it’s  because I have my eyes glued to You. I’m walking (perhaps even soaring) towards You and nothing can stop me…until I take my eyes off You. It only takes a second to shift my gaze from You to what seems total chaos around me. I suddenly realize there is no possible way for me to be doing what I’m doing. There is danger all around. There are voices of fear and mockery telling me I can’t walk above crashing waves of finances, health, future plans, the world situation, looming disasters…When I look at the circumstances, my mind sees there is nothing to hold me up and I cry out “Help me, Jesus!”

You pick me back up, set me back on my feet, and remind me to keep looking at You. I watch my gymnast granddaughter fall and get back up and keep practicing until she perfects her focus. Father, I may not be able to do gymnastics, but I can tell my spiritual focus is improving. The fears and loud crashing waves of the world don’t disturb or distract me so easily—at least as long as I keep my focus on You. Father, keep training me to look at You all the time.

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During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them , walking on the lake. When the disciples saw Him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ ‘Lord, if it’s you’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to You on the water.’ ‘Come,’ He said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came towards Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ He said, ‘why did you doubt?’” Matthew 14:25-31

 

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart might be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you; the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparable great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”   Ephesians 1:18-21

tent

Heavenly Father,

The camping trip we recently took is still perking in my mind. Before we left, I was worried about leaving my comfy bed and home… but after we set up our tent that was barely big enough for the two of us and started a fire, I remembered why I love to be out in nature with You, Lord.  At most of the state parks we stayed at, we were the only tent among large RV homes complete with heat, satellite TV and microwaves. At the campgrounds, we felt like we were by ourselves because no one came outside. We sat around the fire and cooked over the open flames and savored the silence (except for that large creature making loud noises in the dry leaves that turned out to be a mouse!)

The contrast between our tiny dome tent and the massive RVs, made me thing about the different ways people live in our world. Though our little temporary home seemed pretty humble, I couldn’t help but think that we were still living better off than a majority of people now living in the world.  I may be willing to go camping but my husband is kind enough to set up at state parks which usually have nice bathrooms and even hot showers. Our van is stocked with bottled water and food. We had pretty much everything we needed and didn’t go into town so we had a week away from crowds, media, news, phone calls, and responsibilities.

Our week in nature was delightful (even in the rain). It was refreshing to focus on You, Your magnificent creation and simply enjoy one another. It was a reminder that sometimes the less we have, the less we have to keep up with and the fewer distractions from the real riches we’ve been given in Jesus Christ. This past week was a reminder that we are just traveling through this life to our true home. Whether we live on the streets, in a shack, a tent, a RV or a really nice house none of those will not be our final home. Father, help me travel light and keep following Jesus. In the meantime, Home is where You are.

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“Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”    

2 Corinthians5:1-5

 

“In Him(Jesus Christ)the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.”  

Ephesians 2:21-22

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Most Holy and Glorious Heavenly Father,

We just got back from a week of camping in several areas filled with breathtaking Fall foliage. Coming from a noisy large city, it is so refreshing to step into the quiet stillness of heavily wooded paths. I didn’t realize how much background noise I constantly live with. Apparently, I tend to block a lot of it out. Emergency sirens, big rig trucks, horns honking and music constantly blasting become a background to everything in my urban life. It takes silence to realize just how noisy my life is! It also takes silence to enjoy being still and listening for You, Lord.

I asked You to lead us on this trip…and once again, You did (In more ways than I probably even realize). On this vacation, more than any other, I realize that this life is not about me, my wants, my dreams, my comfort, my plans…it’s all about You. My husband and I hiked paths that many others have probably walked through the years– though we were the only ones on those paths during this particular time. It is one thing to view the beauty of the trees driving past hill after hill of magnificent color. It is a whole different perspective to venture out on a path less traveled, walk far into the woods and be immersed in Your beauty. You were in the path up ahead and the path behind us. We looked up and saw You in the trees overhead and the skies above. We even saw You down below in rocky streams and tiny bits of moss and the intricate design on rich colored leaves lying on the path.

There were no words to say because there were none to describe the beauty of Your presence. Then in the midst of the stillness came a sudden light breeze swishing the branches overhead. As we looked up, leaves floated down all around us, showering us with Your presence…and Your love…and Your Spirit. I raised my face to catch – not the leaves– but  You. You are all I need. Fall on me, Lord Jesus!

 

 

 

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“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”   Psalm 4610-11

 

“Be still before the Lord and patiently wait for Him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.”     Psalm 37:7