Most Glorious Heavenly Father,

There are already many preparations going on for Easter. I see colored eggs, candy, bunnies and pretty dresses in every store I walk in. I often wonder how many people honestly think that’s all Easter is about. I am around a lot of children and some adults who have no idea this is the time Jesus came to give His life on the cross for our sins so we can have eternal life with You. That’s why I want to prepare for this special time. Since I have eternal life and realize (with my limited human understanding) what You gave when You gave Your Son, I want to set aside this time to thank You—to honor what You did for us through Jesus. I want to prepare myself to praise You with all my heart, mind and soul for Jesus’ death and resurrection.

This time of the year should not just go by without a deepening appreciation for the greatest gift You have ever lavished upon us. Lord, as I refocus on Jesus’ sacrifice for us, will You show me a little bit more of what You gave when You gave Your Son. I realize I will probably never comprehend the depth or the full measure of Your gift of Jesus…yet I am always finding more to this eternal life You gave us through Jesus. Lord, in preparation for this season, I may give something up that distracts me because I want more of You. As I purposely set out to honor what Jesus has done for us, let me sing more songs of Your mercies, read more of Your word, watch a movie about Jesus, spend more quiet time with You. I want to set aside this time and the gift You’ve given. I want to honor You by making it a holy season—because it is!

As You fill me up with Your presence, prepare me so I can be ready to share Jesus with others during this holy time. I know not everyone is ready to accept and believe what You gave us in Jesus Christ, but how will they know unless someone tells them? Father, use me somehow to tell others that You sent Jesus to die for our sins so we can have eternal life. That’s what makes Easter holy—because you sent Jesus to die on the cross and rise again so we could be holy!

 

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“Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy because I am holy.’” 1 Peter 1:13-15

“We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”  Hebrews 10:10

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”  John 3:16-17

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Prayer Prompt-

Lord, the first preparation is to believe You sent Jesus to die for my sins. Am I prepared to receive what only Jesus can give?

Heavenly Father,

Like millions of people today, I am both happy and sad that Billy Graham left this world to go home with You. Our world will miss Him.  It is incredible how You used one willing humble man to lead so many to an eternal relationship with Jesus Christ. I’ve been thinking how grateful I am for my own connections with him and his wife. Not only did several family members walk down a Billy Graham crusade aisle to begin their life with You through Jesus, but his wife Ruth was personally responsible for telling the editor of Decision magazine to publish my first series on marriage. I never met or spoke to her, but her encouragement kept me writing for You.

My husband and I volunteered like so many others at the last Mission OKC revival for three nights. (Again, one of my stories was published in the special OKC issue of Decision magazine handed out at Mission OKC.) It took two men to hold Billy up as they walked him to the podium. It was disheartening to see him so weak—until he sat down to speak. Then the power of the Holy Spirit took over! He seemed like the most powerful man alive as he once more led thousands to a new life through Jesus. But one instance surrounding that same revival spoke to me of the man Dr. Graham really is.

The day Mission OKC was to begin, a young man who was a good friend of my son had taken off work to go fishing at a city lake. He had been severely stressed by finances and his wife’s health and desperately needed a break. As he was fishing by himself when he noticed an old man slumped over on some rocks. He went to see if he could help. The old man lifted his head and smiled that Billy Graham smile and told him he was just fine but thanks for checking. He explained he always finds a solitary place to pray over a city before he preaches. Then he began to ask my son’s friend about his life. He ended up ministering to this burdened young man for almost two hours. Lord, I thank You for Billy Graham who was always ready and willing to lead people to Jesus whether it was one at a time or thousands at a time. I look forward to meeting him and his wife—after I fall into Your arms!

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Quote from Billy Graham: “One day you will hear that Billy Graham has died. Don’t believe it. On that day I will be more alive than I ever will be.”

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. O Lord, truly I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant; You have freed me from my chains.”  Psalm 116:15-16

“Then I heard a voice from heaven say, ‘Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.’”   Revelation 14:13

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Prayer Prompt:

Lord God, help me answer Your call to come to You just as I am…

Heavenly Father,

I love it when a certain sis-in-Christ calls me up and asks me, “Are you sitting down?” I am continually amazed at how different she has become since I first met her. We don’t get to see each other as often because You have us in new places, but she always calls to share some new major thing You are doing in her life. I was blessed by her call again today. Some of her phone calls in the past have been heartbreaking, but she is a new creation in You, Lord. She always makes a big deal of thanking my husband and me for sticking with her (which is totally embarrassing because we know we really had nothing to do with who she is today.)

I first met her about 17 years ago. I prayed in front of the church I was at, asking you to let at least one woman see the banner I was hanging publicizing a “Ladies Night of Encouragement.” She showed up that night and said she was walking by. When she saw the banner, she said, “I really need some encouragement.” We sure have been through a lot together since then. I have seen her lose her husband, her children, her home, jobs, every single possession…even her grandkids. I have seen her make poor choices and amazing faith choices. Not only has she been an encouragement to me since then, but I started praying for many more than one when I hang a banner since then!   I have watched her walk more closely with You during all those seasons.  I have watched You reunite her with her birth family she was ripped apart from at a young age. There are so many stories to tell about how You have worked in her life. You have healed her from the inside out! She has become an amazing woman who reflects Your glory.

Today’s phone call was to tell me that the church she has been quietly serving in surprised her with “the woman of the year” award because of her great faithfulness. Even through the phone, I could see her shocked face! We both shared delicious laughter because we both know who that award really goes to! Lord, only You can take two such different wimpy women and make new creations out of each of them for Your beautiful kingdom. Thank You, Lord! We are still being made new creations in You!

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“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  Galatians 2:20

 

“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’”  Revelation 21:5

 

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come!”  2 Corinthians 5:17

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Prayer Prompt-

Lord, I want to give up this old life and become a new creation…

Heavenly Father,

I am proud to say that I am needy! That is usually not looked upon as a good trait in today’s world. People are honored for being self-sufficient and self-confident. People are applauded for being a self-made millionaire or one who gets things done by themselves. We are told to rely on our own strength and to be our own person. I have tried all that and discovered that I let myself down. My own thoughts and ideas may seem grand at the time but fizzle out when I try to make a go of it by myself. I am so happy to be needy…I need You, Lord!

Admitting I need You for all things has not made me less of a person. Instead, it is making me more fully who I am created to be. I can be content in trusting You in every situation, knowing You have a divine plan that is far higher than the best plan I could ever come up with. I can be at peace resting in my relationship with You. I can be sure of who I am- one who is valued and cherished enough that You sent Jesus to die for me to give me new life. I can soar above all the drama and conflict that comes against me, knowing that my present and my future are completely secure in You. Fear has no hold on me because I know You are with me! I belong to You and You belong to me.

Lord God, I need You today and always. I don’t ever want to go anywhere without You. I don’t have to. You complete me. You live in me and I live in You. Every day is fresh and new in You. I not only need You- I want You! I love my life hidden with You. You bring joy, peace, love and contentment into my life. I don’t need a big house, an overflowing bank account, people’s respect, or anything else this world has to offer. I need You! I need Your breath to sustain me physically and spiritually. I need Your presence to make life beautiful and purposeful. I need Your guidance to fulfill Your perfect plans instead of my defective ideas. I need Your strength, Your patience, Your wisdom, Your everything…because my own falls far short. Yes, Lord! I fully admit I NEED You! Thank You for Jesus Christ who fulfills that need. I need You. I trust You. I love You.

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“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  Hebrew 4:16

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”   Romans 5:6-8

Jesus prayer in John 17:26: “I have made You known to them, and will continue to make You known in order that the love You have for ME may be in them and that I Myself may be in them.” 

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, I need You…I need Jesus…

Heavenly Father,
I recall waiting anxiously for my firstborn son to be born. I had never really been around babies and had many people try to tell me what it would be like. No one can tell you just how completely having a baby will change your entire life. No words can express the overpowering love that consumes you as you hold that baby who somehow came to life inside you. No one can prepare you for the life of sacrifice, tears, smiles, hugs and ever-growing love that is birthed as you embrace that tiny helpless infant. I’ve had the honor of giving birth to more than my fair share of new-born loves- some through natural birth; others through marriage; many through grandchildren; some through adoption—and many, many more through teaching and caring-giving.
There’s nothing like holding a little baby—and wondering what gift will be unwrapped to the world through this one little person as they grow. There’s nothing like watching those who I have held at a young age (in my arms and in my heart) develop into amazing people. Each and every single baby changes the world just by being who they are.
Yet, there is one baby who was set apart from all the rest, who was born in Your perfect timing, who changes everything forever. Father, You sent Jesus Christ to be born as one of us- fully human (ready and willing to endure everything as one of us in this harsh world.) Yet Jesus is You in the flesh! He was sent to bring us back to You—to be the way to eternal life with You. You sent Him as a frail human baby to overcome the world, separation from You caused by sin, and death itself. You sent Jesus to die for our sake so we might live forever with You. Jesus Christ, this little tiny infant, was born unto a virgin, to deliver us from evil, to live forever in our hearts, to overcome the world, to empower us from on high, to give us new life, to cleanse us, to save us, to change our lives forever! My life has been completely consumed by the birth of Jesus in me! I can never be the same again. He lives in me… and I in Him! How I adore this baby who grew to be my Savior and King! Father, I pray for more to accept and cherish the gift of Jesus Christ as they ask Him to be born anew in their hearts. He changes everything!
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“I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God…And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1,2,14
“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel—which means ‘God with us.’” Matthew 1:23
Jesus said in John 14:6: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Me.”
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Prayer Prompt-
Father, I accept and believe in Your greatest gift of Jesus Christ. Let Him be born in me…

Heavenly Father,

I was sent the cutest video of my little granddaughter taking some of her first steps! Since she lives out of state, it was a thrill to get to share in this special moment. And it came at just the right moment! Being a grandmother, I kept watching it over and over. Then You laid on my heart that’s how we look when we are born again in Jesus. We have to learn how to walk with You. When we turn to You for salvation through Jesus, we are humbly crawling to You to accept what brings You great joy to give to us. It is a whole new life in Jesus! Even if we are adults, we have to learn how to walk in You.

First, we simply crawl to You realizing we need You. As we learn to trust You more, we pull ourselves up and stand on Your Son, our solid foundation. What a joy to stand in You! It is good for us to stay put for a while and learn to simply stand still and hold Your hand. As we are fed on Your word, You eventually hold out Your hands and say, “Follow Me!” You expect us to step out in faith when we are unsure if our new legs will hold. When we keep our eyes on You, we gather enough courage to take a step; then two. We might fall down. But You are right there to pick us up and remind us that we can do it.  You wipe us off and urge us to try again. So we do.

What an absolute joy to truly start walking with You, Lord. That’s probably why my granddaughter’s face touched me so much. We know we cannot do it by ourselves, but You are with us. We don’t have to ever take a step without You again! We can walk! We can do things that we know are impossible on our own. We can walk on water! The thing is to keep watching You. When we look off to the side or realize we are doing what’s impossible, we fall down. But if we do, You are still there to help us back up…no matter how long we’ve been walking with You! Lord, I had a hard day yesterday. Something hit me hard and knocked me to my feet, but as I turned and cried to You and started praising Your sweet name, You picked me right up. I am walking with You again!!! And I love it! I love You! (I love my granddaughter, too!)

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“He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”    Micah 6:8

“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim You, who walk in the light of Your presence, O Lord.”   Psalm 89:15

“He (Jesus) said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”   John 8:12

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Prayer Prompt-

Heavenly Father, show me how to walk…

Heavenly Father,
A couple of people in totally unrelated situations have come to me lately to talk because they are at the end of their rope. They have exhausted everything they can think of to do. They see no possible way out of their situation. They have tried and tried to no avail. Nothing has worked and there is nothing else they can do. After they poured out their broken, weary hearts, I wanted to say with excitement, “That’s such a good place to be!” Yet I have to do it kindly—because I’ve been where they are. I know how painfully hopeless it can seem. I know how it feels to give it everything you can possibly give—and for it not to be enough. But, it is actually one of the best places to be.
Father, it is when we have come to the end of ourselves and our own ideas—that we realize we can do nothing. That is a ripe time for people to simply surrender their will to You. What they see as a hopeless situation, You see as the possibility for a new beginning with You. When there is nowhere else to turn, it is an opportunity for them to turn to You. It has to be our choice to turn to You—not to tell You how we want You to work things out, but to admit that we can do nothing through our own strength, wisdom, plans, and will. It is obvious that our own plans have failed. Now, we can ask You to accomplish Your will in our lives with no thoughts or ideas of our own. We can truly ask You to take over. We can finally surrender our own ways and be open to Yours.
Lord, I know You see deep into our hearts. You know what a painful place it can be to surrender our own will. Your Son Jesus had to struggle through that same place in the Garden of Gethsemane just before He willingly headed to the cross. It is when we give up and let You know there is nothing we can do…when You say, be still and watch what I can do through a surrendered will. Lord, help me become better at surrendering before I’ve tried absolutely everything else. Help me learn that I can do something—I can surrender my will daily and pray for Your will to be done. Then let me watch what You do in and through me. I pray the same for these two people I love who are at this place right now.
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Jesus prayed…”My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:39
“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.” Luke 9:23-24
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from ME you can do nothing.” John 15:5
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Prayer Prompt-
Father, I admit I can do nothing apart from You. I surrender…

Heavenly Father,

As we get reports on different stories coming out of the devastation from Hurricane Harvey dumping torrential rains and causing widespread flooding, I am once again reminded of Your eternal presence no matter what we have to go through. So far, I have heard of 15 deaths and over 500 deep water rescues. Countless homes, schools, churches and communities are under water right now. Businesses, earthly investments, and worldly dreams may have been blown apart or drowned in the powerful winds and deep waters…but even more valuable eternal riches are being discovered in a new way.

When our earthly security is shaken, we often turn more fully to You, Lord, for our eternal security. We may lose everything including our home, only to find that You are our everlasting shelter. We could lose a loved one, and find that You never ever leave us. Our dream of a business might be washed away, but hopefully we find Your kingdom which stands forever. We, or someone we know, may have come eerily close to death, only to find eternal life through Jesus Christ.

We will continue to see and hear more reports of devastation and rescues from this tropical storm. As we watch and pray, may we be reminded that what looks like the end is often the beginning. As we pray for those in the midst of pain and suffering, may we pray with confidence that You are right there with them- each in a very personal way, coaching them on, opening their eyes to the eternal new life before them found in Jesus Christ. Some hurricanes come in the form of water, others come in the form of cancer, chronic or terminal illness, death of a loved one, financial ruin, divorce, a lost job, a legal mess, a broken relationship…It may truly appear as the end for those going through it; but I pray it is just the beginning of an ever deepening relationship with You. That’s what true life is. I love You, Lord.

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“You will hear of wars and rumors of war, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pangs.”  Matthew 24:6-8

“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are Mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.”   Isaiah 43:1-2

“A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke Him, saying ‘Master, Master, we’re going to drown!’ He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. ‘Where is your faith? He asked the disciples.”  Luke 8:23-25

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, I pray for those going through the flooding from the hurricane…and for me to see You in my own hurricane…

Heavenly Father,

It’s unimaginable that You made us and gave us free choice. That has been boggling my mind lately. Part of me wants to say, ‘What were You thinking?’ Everything would be so much more orderly if You had created us to automatically obey You. Yet the parent, grandparent, teacher in me kind of gets it. What joy there is when my children, grandchildren or students freely choose the right thing of their own free will. This world is full of people making many choices…but there is truly one ultimate choice that affects everything- for all eternity. That is the choice to accept that Jesus is Your one true Son who You freely chose to send to save us from our sin so we can live with You in peace both now and for all eternity. All the millions of choices in the world do not mean a thing unless we choose Jesus as our Savior.

It pains me to see people choosing to make other things their greatest priority: money, fame, drugs, alcohol, sex, entertainment, education…what emptiness is found when they choose to live their own way, to try to control their own lives. What foolish pride to think we can handle this life without You…the very One who made us! There is no way we can be strong enough, pure enough, good enough, or genius enough to make it to eternal life without Your help. Your choice to save us is Jesus. It is Your deepest desire that not even one should perish but have eternal life…yet You give us a choice of whether we want to be with You or not. One day every single person will have to bow before You to acknowledge what their choice was concerning Jesus. I have already made my choice to accept the loving gift You’ve given me in Jesus Christ.

I choose to love You with all my heart, mind and soul. I choose to worship You alone. I choose to honor You with my life. I choose to acknowledge that I am nothing without Jesus but I am complete and whole and filled with Your Holy Spirit when I continue choosing Him. I choose to follow where You lead, to obey what You say, to stay close to You each day. I choose to gratefully accept the sacrifice You gave to me through Jesus Christ. What an amazing God You are to love me so much to send Jesus to save me when I was a sinner…and to let it be my choice whether to accept the greatest gift ever given. I choose You because You first chose me. How I wish everyone would choose You!

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“But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.”  2 Thessalonians 2:13

“For many are invited, but few are chosen.”  Matthew 22:14

“This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life…” Deuteronomy 30:19-20a

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Prayer Prompt-

Heavenly Father, today I choose….

 

Heavenly Father,

I just spent last week at an awesome church camp (four nights and 5 days at a 4th-5th grade camp and then a day camp for K-1st grade). The most miraculous things happen at church camp which makes up for the hard waterproof mattresses on old squeaky bunk beds, the dirt that totally covers your body from the dust stirred up by so many feet, late nights with giggly girls, stinky boys who pride themselves on no showers, wet clothes thrown all over cabin floors, wet swimsuits which fall off the line and get dirt mixed together with snow cone and ice cream drippings, a few cases of homesickness or real sickness, several real or imagined boo-boos, and being asked a million times “What’s next?”

The eternal benefits far outweigh the downside. I want to thank You, Lord for a few of the miracles I had the privilege of witnessing this year: the boy whose family just moved to a small town in OK and attended church for the first time. His mom heard them talking about leaving for church camp and wished out loud her son could go to meet new friends. In less than an hour, he was packed and back at church to go to camp with people he didn’t know. He ended up getting baptized and camper of the week!…the very smart but extremely shy girl who fought through tears and fear to say memory verses in front of the whole crowd and discovered You are with her and will help her…4th and 5th grade kids who happily gave up their “canteen money” to donate to the mission of building chapels in OK prisons. They broke the record by giving $1000 towards helping inmates know about Jesus inside prison walls… the unbridled worship of children who sing to You with all their heart, minds and soul…

Lord, I was overcome by the history of this small church camp that gets city kids out in the country, that makes children forget all about TV, video games and cell phones. Many of the adult sponsors grew up going to camp there. That’s where they came to know You. I wonder how many of the 9 baptisms in the swimming pool last week will end up as pastors, teachers and living long lives for You. I have no way of knowing how many lives have been changed eternally through this one humble church camp serving a group of OK churches. Not only are the kids’ lives impacted for Your kingdom, adults are drawn closer to You as well. I know I found time to be still and quiet before You this week. I grew in Your word, Your presence and in sweet fellowship with big and little brothers and sisters-in-Christ. May we all take our renewed fire for You back to our daily lives and shine brilliantly with the Light of Jesus Christ! Thank You, Lord, for letting me be a part of church camp.

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“He (Jesus) took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in His arms, He said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes  one of these little children in My name welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me does not welcome Me but the one who sent Me.’”  Mark 9:36-37

“Let the little children come to ME, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Mark 10:14b-15

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, show me how I can worship, obey and live with You like a child…