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Heavenly Father,

I have to walk around my yard at least once a day this time of year…and keep my eyes open as I walk in the neighborhood or drive to work. You’ve planted surprises for me at every turn. A month ago everything looked drab and lifeless. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought everything was dead. But I’ve lived enough years to know that Spring comes every year! With it the beauty and joy of new life pops out of the most unexpected places. Who would have thought such bright and cheerful flowers would faithfully come out of the ugly Daffodil bulbs planted so many years ago…and that they would multiply so! The trees which lost almost half of their branches in the last ice storm are bursting out with fresh new green buds…and in some cases, vivid purples and pinks and even snowy white flowers.

The brown soil which lacked water most of the winter is now rich with moisture and little tiny shoots are pushing out with hints of lush green and white hosta leaves. There are even a few dark pink Azaleas starting to peek out of their dead-looking stems. It’s so exciting to watch new life unfold before my eyes each day. Even the squirrels and birds are jubilant, scurrying about getting ready for their own new life.

Father, thank You for the surprises You surround us with all the time! Give us eyes to not only see, but hearts ready to savor and thank You for those delightful blessings. There is no way we can produce any of this joyous life on our own. It is bestowed by You alone. It is ours to soak up Your Spirit like sap that rises inside us and brings new life and hope after the winter trials of our lives. It is no accident that we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection this time of the year. What looked like death on the cross was actually new life being born and rising up in all who will accept and believe in You and Your Son- from whom all life flows. May Your Spirit burst out from me in joy unspeakable!

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“For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seed to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all the nations.” Isaiah 61:11

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”   Ezekiel 36:26

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me see Your life all around…and to receive the overflowing eternal life You have given me through Jesus Christ.

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Heavenly Father,

A young woman I’ve been working with for quite a while, who is recovering from substance abuse, recently confided in me. It’s been an incredible journey to watch her come from out of the deep dark grip of hell into the light. The changes in her life have gone far past what I imagined possible. When I first met her, I remember telling You that I thought she was too far gone. In fact, I must confess I held her at a distance for a while…that is until over time You showed me glimmers of hope in her! You have shown me no one is too far gone for You!! It has been incredible watching her slowly transform and timidly grow towards You. It’s been a beautiful reminder that it is You who does the work… I just show up willing to do Your bidding.

That’s why it broke my heart me when she confided she had given into temptation. She tried to justify that it wasn’t bad; that she needed it to soothe her nerves…and many other justifications until we really began to dig into the slippery slope she was already sliding down… back into the dark pit she had come from.  At least she knew to reach out immediately! I was so devastated that I wasn’t sure how to handle it. It’s a good thing I had prayed and asked You to lead because You surely did! Being under the influence of anything other than You leads to destruction. There is no way she or I or anyone else can overcome temptations without being under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Jesus overcame and HE gives us what we need to overcome.

We need to always be on guard against the sneaky slithery attacks that try to lure us away from You. Those temptations can appear pretty good at times, but they are full of lies and deceit. They can even come from people we love. Whatever the temptation is, it will not fulfill us, soothe us, or help us. Those temptations will pull us away from You- the very One who made us, designed us, longs to complete us, and has good plans for us. You sent Jesus to give us abundant everlasting eternal life. When we stay submitted to You through Him, we are under the most powerful and life-giving influence there is! Father, thank You for what You did for both of us as we trusted You and watched the dark deadly influence of a favorite tool of our enemy (drugs and alcohol) fall in defeat under the influence of the Holy Spirit! I am forever dependent upon Your holy influence!

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“Don’t drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of Him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs! Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:18 (MSG)

“And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”   Acts 13:52

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”   1Corinthians 6:19-20

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, let me be under You influence alone. Help me be alert against the influence of….

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Heavenly Father,

What was supposed to be my indoor work day was kicked off by an unexpected trip outside early this morning just in time to be blown away by a glorious sunrise across the entire eastern sky. What a beautiful way to start a day! As I watched the sun rise and transform everything its light touched, I thought of the way Your Son transforms us.

Just moments before I stepped outside my front door this morning, darkness prevailed. Vision was limited due to the lack of light. In fact, there was no color because everywhere I tried to look; there were only shades of darkness. The lack of light makes us feel far less safe because all kinds of things can happen in the dark. I learned at a young age, even before school, from my horticulturist dad that light is needed to make things live, grow, flourish and produce fruit. I suppose I also learned at an early age to be aware that evil lurks in the darkness where things can be hidden and dangerous. That’s what our lives are like without You.

One of the reasons I love sunrises so much is it is a picture of how Jesus is the Light of the world and the light of my soul. Everything changes. What once was dark and scary is now filled with hope and glorious beauty. What once seemed doomed to despair is now radiating with eternal glorious hope. It’s Your glory, Father: the same glory You shared with Jesus Christ, Your son, is also shared with us when we look to You. Jesus, Your Son dawns in our hearts and fills us with His Light. The sun our earth orbits around may rise and bring glory and life to all it touches when it appears in the morning…but when we acknowledge Jesus to be the center  and Lord of our life, and receive Him as our Savior, Your Son rises in us- bringing new life and light. As we grow in Jesus Christ, Your glory grows in us bringing us new sight, new hope, new life with colors unimaginable on our own! Your full glory is too much for us to look at. We cannot fully fathom or contain who You are, but somehow Your Son comes to live in us and radiates stronger and stronger from inside us through Your Holy Spirit. Your glory radiates from inside us to throw light on everything we touch. We know it’s not us. It’s Your glory dawning in us and shining out as the light of the world.

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“When Jesus spoke again to the people, He 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

“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 1:4-5

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” Isaiah 9:2 and Matthew 4:16

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, deliver me from the darkness of….

Let the Light of Your Son Jesus Christ rise in greater glory in me…

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Heavenly Father,

My brother-in-law is in ICU and has received 18 units of blood over the last few days. That blood saved his life. It kept him alive until they could locate and remove the diseased part that was causing him to lose deadly amounts of “that life-saving sap.” We just happened to be having a blood drive at our church Sunday. I’m not certain how many gave at our church, but it took 18 people he has never met donating some of their life to keep life flowing through the body of my brother-in-heart. It was a stark reminder of how critical blood is! My nurse daughter said due to the quantity given, most of the blood in his body had most likely been replaced by other blood. When he realized how many had given to sustain him, he said, “It’s a gift!”

Father, he is so right! You give us life in the first place as we are formed in our mother’s womb. Our physical life is a gift from You. We truly are wonderfully made. That fluid pumps through our bodies bringing life to every single cell and organ. As wonderful as our physical life is, it is diseased by sin…by our self-willed human nature that separates us from You- the very One from whom all life flows. We are critically and terminally ill; slowly losing all life. We will die without a blood transfusion. That’s why You sent Your own Son!

Jesus didn’t come to lie on a table for 30 minutes to squeeze blood into a bag. He came to be born and live as one of us into this sinful world. He came to die on a criminal’s cross although there has never been One more innocent. He came to give His precious holy blood to be transfused into us through the Holy Spirit! One of the nurses explained the danger of getting so much blood from others. More foreign elements are being introduced into the body. That’s because as wonderful as their gift of hemoglobin was, it was not pure. Jesus was the only One whose blood was clean and holy enough to give us eternal life with You. Father, thank You for the holy and powerful blood of Jesus that has been transfused into my life. I can’t fully explain it, but His life flows through me and through all who accept His transfusion. It is too much to comprehend how and why…but Your eternal life flows in and through us by the blood of Jesus Christ!

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“But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.”   1John 1:7

“This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26:28

“And they sang a new song: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and open its seals, because You were slain, and with Your blood You purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.’” Revelation 5:9

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, what does this precious blood mean to me?

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Heavenly Father,

My nurse daughter’s favorite cure for anything is a bath! If one of her kids (or even one of her critical care patients) gets a sniffle or a full-blown fever, her prescription is always a bath. I’ve had two short “bugs” in a row, first the upper respiratory crud going around, then before being fully recovered- a bout with a stomach virus. I’m not complaining because I have been incredibly healthy all my life (which I am most grateful for, Lord!) Yet having just stepped out of a shower, I feel like a new person! It seems all the germs and sickness have been washed away.  I feel refreshed and renewed. Though I didn’t think I had enough energy to even get in the shower, I came out ready to do almost anything…because I’m clean!

That’s just physical cleanliness…it’s even more powerful to be cleansed with the power of Jesus Christ! I see it happen before my eyes all the time. I am honored to work with a group of beautiful young women who feel incredibly dirty from years of substance abuse. Not only do they feel filthy from the stench of drugs, but from all the experiences that go with it, and from the things which cause them to start using in the first place. One young woman had been using drugs since she was 8 years old when her mom started giving her heroin to calm her down. She hadn’t known any other life. She never believed there was ever any other way to live except dirty. After several months of sobriety, she kept saying she was really enjoying learning to be clean. Yet it wasn’t just from being free from drugs; it was from living a life with Jesus.

Nothing else cleanses us like Jesus’ holy blood shed for us. You love us so much; You knew we could never be clean without Him. That’s why You sent Him to be born, to live, to die and be resurrected so we could have eternal life and cleanliness. We can never wash away our own sickness of sin. That’s why You prescribed Jesus’ holy blood for us to wash away our filthiness in. We may not all be coming from a life of heroin abuse; but we all have sin. We all need a bath. Father, when my sins are washed away by Jesus, I can do anything! I am fresh and renewed! Jesus not only cleanses me but lives in me! Nothing can be cleaner than from the inside out!

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“Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin…wash me and I will be whiter than snow…Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me….Restore me to the joy of Your salvation, and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.”   Palm 51:2,7b,10,12 

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”   Jesus’ words in Matthew 23:25-26 

“And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on His name.”   Acts 22:16

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, I want to be really clean. Wash me in the blood of Jesus for forgiveness for…