Waiting for Our Son's Thank You

We told our usually grateful son that we had a gift for him on the desk in his room. I knew he would love the gift card from his favorite store. He went upstairs to his room, and I waited on the steps eager to hear his excited thanks. I wanted to share in his joy.

I waited, but there was no response. He had gone on to do other things. He thanked us later, but as I waited, I gained a new understanding of why God asks us to thank Him.

God "richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment" (1 Timothy 6:7). It must give Him great pleasure to provide what will give us joy. Could it be that He then anticipates the joy of sharing our enthusiasm and our happiness when we offer our thanks?

Jesus healed ten lepers but only one came back to say "Thank you!" When He asked, "Where are the nine lepers?" I don't think He was checking on their thanksgiving quotient. He was disappointed He didn't get to enjoy seeing their thrill of being healed.

Since waiting on the stairs for my son's thank you, I like to think that when I thank Jesus for what He has done, in those moments, He is enjoying the pleasure of seeing my happiness.

Thank You, Jesus, not just for graciously providing all things for me to enjoy but also for caring enough to watch for my grateful and happy response.

"Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" (Luke 17:18).

Christians Making Points for Themselves

Carol prayed for her daughter and husband to have Christian friends who would invite them to church. She was thrilled when her daughter and her husband became friends with a Christian couple and even had dinner in their home. When their new friends invited them to church, they declined. That was the end of the friendship.

"That is the third time that has happened to them," Carol said. "It would have been better if they had never met these Christian friends. They think Christians are just trying to make points for themselves."

Artificial love is not new. Paul chose Timothy to go to the Philippians because of his sincere love. "I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare. All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ" (Philippians 2:20, 21 NLT).

If we're appearing to be full of love, we may only be doing it because we want others to think we're loving. There may be a hidden agenda-a reason behind that generosity or gracious smile.

Our primary emphasis should be on actually allowing Christ's love to live in us. Then as we are sensitive to ways to express His love living in us, all we do will be used of Him.

Jesus, fill me with Your love and compassion for all those I am with today.

"Don't just pretend that you love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of the good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other" (Romans 12:9, 10 NLT).

Should I Pray or Cook?

"Would you pray for me, Aletha?" pleaded a friend on the phone. "I have been sick for several days, and my pain is unbearable." Remembering her previous disinterest in God, I readily consented to pray for her. It seemed to be providential to receive such a phone call on the day I had set aside for fasting and prayer.

After some time in prayer, the thought came, "Why not fix a meal for her family?" I thought of a casserole to prepare and realized I had all the ingredients in the kitchen. But I ignored the suggestion and continued to pray. What could be better than praying? Yet, despite my persistence, I somehow did not feel that my day of fasting and prayer had been profitable.

The next day my sick friend said, "My husband wasn't very happy about having to fix supper last night."

When I later read Isaiah 58, I understood more clearly why my day of fasting and prayer had brought no victory. "Is not this the kind of fast I have chosen?...Is it not to share your food with the hungry?"

If they obeyed, God promised, "Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: 'Here am I'" (vs. 9).

If I had been attentive to the Holy Spirit or if I had been more familiar with Isaiah 58, my fasting would have been coupled with His message of love. I hindered God by praying my way.

This occurred many years ago but continues to be a lesson to me of the importance of listening to the Spirit. Nothing is a substitute for obedience--not even prayer combined with fasting.

Thank You for using my mistakes to teach me, and thank You that Your mercies are new every morning.

"To obey is better than sacrifice" (1 Samuel 15:22).

They Found the Life of Joy

Tina quit her job as a CPA believing God wanted her to devote herself to His service. Temporarily, she was doing volunteer bookkeeping for her church. One day she walked into her church office and was asked to go to the court house to register the van. Unaccustomed to being handed such a menial job, she was tempted to feel resentment, but she said, "As soon as I yielded that immediate human response, I was filled with joy. My heart was as light as a feather as I drove away."

I met Linda at a board meeting, and we stayed afterwards to talk. She said, "God asked me two years ago to quit teaching and to spend my time working with the unlovely. I miss the money, but the joy I've discovered is a more pure joy and more fulfilling than all the respect I enjoyed as a teacher.

"At first, I did the ministry unwillingly, complaining to the Lord that I was not appreciated and that nobody was noticing. He let me know that He would not accept such offerings.

"I discovered that God would give me grace to give my time and efforts willingly and to find joy in that giving. He also gave me grace to be contented with less. A small burger from Wendy's thrills me now when before I hardly appreciated a more expensive meal at a nice restaurant."

Peter wrote about being "redeemed from the empty way of life" (1 Peter 1:18). Tina and Linda have found the better way.

Thank You, Jesus, that the rewards for following You are always more than we anticipate.

"Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 2:11).

Prove You Trust Him

Not only did God tell the Israelites to follow the ark into the uncrossable Jordan, the priests were to take the first step into the river. "And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord--the Lord of all the earth--set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap" (Joshua 3:13).

When they approached the edge of the waters with the ark, they were to stand still as though their bodies were forming a dam against the force of the water. They would step into the river and stop the flow of the raging flood! They surely recognized that it was impossible!

Their obedience would demonstrate their faith. God required the priests to step into the water before He parted it. They were to follow as though their efforts would accomplish the miraculous.

This is where it is easy to fail. We pray, but then we don't step into the water. We listen to the voice that says, "You can't teach that Sunday School class," "You cannot write that article," "You don't know what to say to help her, so don't try."

What step might God be asking you to take that would indicate you are trusting Him rather than yourself?

Jesus, please give me grace to not proceed until I see the ark and then grace to step into the Jordan.

"Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go" (Joshua 1:7).

You Can Overcome Distractions

Adrian Rogers, on his national radio program, told that Yonggi Cho, the pastor of the largest church in the world, said he has to have his prayer time. One day Dr. Cho told his secretary, "I am going to prayer, and I don't want anyone to interrupt me--no one, unless it is the Lord Jesus."

That day the president of Korea came to see him. The secretary apologized that she could not disturb the minister.

Later, the president's wife told Rev. Cho, "You should fire that secretary. My husband is the president of Korea, and your secretary wouldn't let him speak to you."

"I was speaking with the president of the universe," replied Yonggi Cho.

Most of our hindrances to prayer are much less significant. One morning recently when I was ready to pray, I saw a candle that needed to be lit, a window blind that needed to be adjusted, some books that needed to be rearranged. The distractions were so trifling that I finally caught on. If I was going to pray, I had to concentrate only on praying!
Sometimes it may be pleasing to God for us to respond to God-sent interruptions, but we can trust Him to give us the discernment needed when our desire is to be faithful in prayer.

God forbid, to borrow David's words, that I give him prayers that cost me nothing.

Jesus, help me remember that I am in a battle that has eternal consequences.

"Prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled" (1 Peter 1:13).

Why Should I Forgive?

One of my favorite pictures of forgiveness is of Jesus and His disciples eating the last supper. When Jesus announced, "One of you will betray Me," no one could guess who was guilty. Nothing in His demeanor, not even a look of reproach, said to the disciples, "Judas is the man." Jesus forgave and had mercy on all who had part in His murder. "He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities" (Psalm 103:10).

By receiving God's forgiveness through Christ, I am forfeiting my right to be offended when others hurt me. "Forgive us our debts as we forgive us our debtors," is a prayer asking God to forgive us to the same degree we forgive others. Jesus adds a postscript to this prayer: "But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins" (Matthew 6:15). If any bitterness or unkindness remains, if we do not fully and from the heart, forgive all men their trespasses, God cannot fully forgive us.

During my devotions I like to sing softly or read a hymn. This morning I read through "Come Thou Fount." I love the line that says: "Streams of mercy never ceasing." When someone has wronged us, it is good to praise for the "streams of mercy never ceasing" God is showering on them.

Even if someone does not come seeking my forgiveness, I have an obligation to grant forgiveness and extend mercy-even if the person has sinned against me repeatedly and regardless of how severe the sin may have been. My forgiveness of others allows me to receive the "streams of mercy never ceasing."

Dear God, thank You for giving me Your sweet peace and joy as I extend mercy to others.

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Ephesians 4:32).

Mother Stopped Praying

"I've always realized the real power in my mother's life was her prayers," a young pastor said. "When I was in my upper teens, my mother became concerned about where I would go to college. She talked with me about it, and I knew she was praying. I could sense that she was under a burden, even though she didn't go around long-faced. I was praying, too, but we were not in agreement. I wanted to go to the university and she favored a Bible college.

"One day her countenance was completely different. She seemed to be released from the burden. After the situation had run its course, I asked, 'Mother, why did you stop your praying about the matter before the issue was solved?'

"She said she had totally committed her burden to God, and He had given her a promise that things were going to work out right. God assured her He was working and had solved the situation already, although the answer was not visibly apparent. She rested on God's promise, and God answered her.

"I hate to admit it, but Mother was right," he grinned.

Because faith is the evidence of the unseen, it is possible to pray until God says, "You don't need to pray any more because I've heard!" By faith we can rest from our own efforts and "stand still and see the salvation of the Lord."

Dear Father, I know that when I rest on Your promises, even when there are no outward signs of victory, You will do what You say.

"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of him" (1 John 5:14, 15).

I Found My Focus

Years ago I sat at the kitchen table and read Hannah's words to God: "There is no one besides you" (1 Samuel 2:2).

I said aloud, "Hannah, you know something I don't." I wondered what it would mean for me to be able to say, "There is no one but You, God."

Challenged by Hannah, I titled a page in my notebook "One Goal" and began collecting names of those who appeared to have one focus for all of their lives.

David said, "One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life."

Paul said, "This one thing I do."

Jesus told Martha, "Only one thing is needed."

Then I found Paul's words to the Corinthians, "Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." I realized that to do all for the glory of God meant that at any moment I could lift whatever I was doing and say, "I am doing this for You, Jesus."

It also meant that all my attitudes must be determined by what would please Him. Paul's words, "I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:2), became very practical. My focus was to be on Jesus. What was He thinking about my actions and attitudes? I resolved to care only that He was pleased.

Dear God, thank You that you help us learn to say with Hannah, "There is no one but You, God." If we have Your approval, we have all that matters.
"I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven" (Philippians 2:13, 14 NLT).

Making Prayer a Priority

Dr. Wesley Duewel, former missionary to India and past president of OMS, said he could not remember a family prayer time in the last thirty years of his mother's life but that she would pray for China and for India. He said, "And I cannot remember one time when she prayed for China without weeping."

"During the past twelve or thirteen years, the world's greatest harvest in missions has occurred inside mainland China. There were approximately 900,000 Protestants in China before Mao, but since Mao's death, Christianity has flourished. The most conservative estimates today say that there are between 50 million and 60 million believers in China. As I've heard about this, I've often thought of mother's tears for China. She who wept with tears, day after day, now has the joy of seeing the harvest."

Sometimes women say they live to shop or someone says, "He lives to eat." But if we're like Jesus, we live for a different purpose. Jesus "always lives to intercede" (Hebrews 7:25). Intercession is His reason for being. It is not that He did nothing else, but it was His main purpose.
Some day we will realize that each moment we've invested in prayer is paying eternal dividends.

Jesus, please help me to remember that prayer is my main work today.

 "Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them" (Hebrews 7:25).

Short Honeymoons with Devotions

"I can read my Bible regularly for a couple weeks and then lose interest," a friend admitted. We can be all be enthused about being disciplined Bible readers, but there can be a short honeymoon with devotions. As Susan Muto observed, "The excitement of newness lasts for only a short while. It is then that we must apply the principle of 'stick-to-it-iveness.'"

God told the Israelites to make their sacrifices regularly before the Lord and then He promised, "I will meet you and speak to you" (Ex. 29:42). If their sacrifices had been hit or miss, they would have missed out on the part that made it all worthwhile. God would reward their consistency by speaking to them. It is in meeting Him regularly that we learn to hear His voice.

Once we begin to allow our daily time with God to slip away, we begin to miss it less and less. In an old journal I found this entry: "I awoke and realized that because I had not been reading [the Bible] consistently my delight and excitement with God's Word wasn't as intense. This worried me." Our desire for the Word diminishes with neglect.

The result is that when a crisis comes we discover we have little strength. We lack a vision of a God who is in control and "sits enthroned over the flood" (Ps. 29:10). Rather than seeing the Lord ruling the uncontrollable flood of problems in our lives, we simply see the flood and are overwhelmed. It is those who hold tightly to their time with God who can confidently and calmly say "all things serve you" (Ps. 119:91).

Thank you, Jesus, for every desire to come to You, the Living Word.

"Happy are those who listen to me, watching for me daily at my gates" (Proverbs 8:34 NLT).

The "Yes" That Brings Joy

I received an email from someone who said God keeps asking her: "'Are you willing to be small, to be hidden, the one nobody sees, or notices, or recognizes, or acknowledges?'

"This was a question He asked me regarding how often I get to see my baby grandson, because his other grandparents see him daily, but I usually see him only a few times a month. God asked me the above question with this question included:

'"Are you willing to be the grandma that prays them into heaven?'

"My answer, with tears streaming down my face was, 'Yes, Lord, yes!'

"There's so much more...I saw several pictures of the women I was with [at a retreat], but as I scanned through the 198 pictures, I noticed there were none of me--except ones that were very small, ones that nobody would notice. Fresh wounds from when I was a small child opened up. Being the second child I was always asking when looking at baby pictures, is that me? Only to be told, no, that's not you. (There were way more pictures of my older sister, the one my mother called the pretty one. I was told that I was supposed to be a boy.) As all of these feelings washed over me, I sensed the Lord asking me again:

"Did I not ask you if you were willing to be small, hidden, the one nobody sees or recognizes...and didn't you tell Me yes? And once again my response to Him was Yes! So as I stood there crying, and saying yes over and over, I asked Him to be enough for me and to affirm His love for me. And He has been so faithful to do that! I am coming into who He created me to be all along...His beloved.

 Thank You, Jesus, for the deep joy given to those who are content to be hidden.

"For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory" (Colossians 3:3,4 NASB).

Diapers From Heaven

Genovieva and Stephen Beattie were soon to load a container and send it on a ship to go to an orphanage they were starting in Romania. God had provided blankets, food, milk, bottles, cribs, musical toys, shampoo and powder for babies-but no diapers.

"Lord," they prayed, "You said, 'Ask and you will receive.'  You are the Father of orphans. Please provide diapers."
Early the next morning the phone rang. "I am calling from a mission in Virginia," a man's voice said.  "We received some boxes of clothes and we don't know what to do with them.  Could you take them for Romania?"

"Yes," Genovieva answered trying to sound appreciative, but in her heart she was sad. They asked for diapers not clothes.

Twenty-five boxes arrived on their porch. Stephen got a knife and opened one of them. "Diapers!" Genovieva shouted.  "Praise the Lord!"

Stephen opened the second box.  "More diapers!" he exclaimed. Immediately they counted the diapers in the first three boxes.  There were eighty in each box.
"That means we have a total of two thousand diapers!" Genovieva calculated.

They went into the house and knelt down and shouted praises and thanks to the Lord. They then called their friends.  "The Lord sent us two thousand diapers in answer to prayer."

But it did not end there...

The customs in Romania required a detailed description of the boxes they sent in the container.  The next day, when Stephen counted the diapers in each box, he found that some of the boxes contained less than eighty diapers.
"I'm sorry to disappoint you, Genovieva," he said, "but we only received one thousand, five hundred."

"Oh," Genovieva said and her face dropped. She felt bad because her praise report was exaggerated by five hundred diapers.  Lord, what shall we do?  I can't call everyone again...

Suddenly Genovieva knew.  She knelt down, looked up to heaven and said, "Lord, You owe us five hundred diapers!  Everyone is praising You for two thousand."

They laughed and then went on with their work.

The next morning another call came from the same mission.  "We have some boxes of shoes and we are short of space," she said. "Could you take them for Romania?"
The next day a couple dropped the boxes on their porch and left. There were two open boxes of shoes; the other boxes looked familiar... Could it be possible?

Quickly Stephen came and opened one.

"More diapers!" Thirty-five boxes! They laughed with joy as they counted them.  This time they counted very carefully.  There were two thousand, five hundred diapers. They now had a total of four thousand diapers from heaven.  They celebrated with a cup of English tea and a piece of apple pie.  Their joy was complete.

And they prayed that the Lord would enable them to help as many children in Romania as the number of diapers He had sent.

Jesus said, "Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete" (John 16:24).

Psalm 35 and America

I was surprised to learn that the first official act of the first American Congress in 1774 was to read Psalm 35 and pray. That prayer was not a superficial one, as we would expect to hear in a public gathering today.

Congress had just received the news of the attack upon Boston by British troops. John Adams described the profound time of prayer led by the local minister:

"[Rev.] Duche unexpectedly to everybody, struck out into an extemporary prayer which filled the bosom of every man present. I must confess I never heard a better prayer....with such fervor, such ardor, such earnestness and pathos, and in language so elegant and sublime for American [and] for the Congress....It has had an excellent effect upon everybody here."

Another member of that Congress declared that it was "a prayer...worth riding one hundred miles to hear" (i.e., that it was worth spending three days on horseback to arrive in time for that prayer), and that as a result of that prayer, "even Quakers shed tears."

Also that morning, the Congress read from four chapters in the Bible, and John Adams reported to his wife that one particular chapter especially impacted the group: "I never saw a greater effect upon an audience. It seemed as if Heaven had ordained that Psalm to be read on the morning....I must beg you to read...the 35th Psalm [to your friends]."

Providentially, that psalm was the assigned passage from the Book of Common Prayer for that day. After reading this account in American's Godly Heritage by David Barton, I opened to Psalm 35 and wept as I read it.

Psalm 35 opens with these words: "Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me."

It is time for us to again pray Spirit-inspired prayers for our country.
Father, we repent because we've turned away from You and do not look to You to guide our nation.

Megan's Heart Transplant Story

"Heart transplant survivor dies just a few hours after giving birth." This and similar headlines have been on CNN, Fox News, and have even reached international outlets. God gave Megan Moss Johnson seven joyful years after her transplant and brought a precious little girl into this world by preserving Megan's life the first time. In the book Megan's Heart, her aunt, Sharon Bushey, tells the story of the faith-filled prayers that surrounded those days of waiting for a new heart. The following is adapted from the book and tells of one of the many prayer events that preceded Megan's surgery.

Josh Dampf, cousin of Megan and MidAmerica Nazarene University Student Body President, had just learned Megan had pneumonia and was so weak, that even if a donor heart became available, she was too sick to receive it. Josh's stomach sank. God reminded him of the more than 1,000 high school students who had gathered for MAX (MidAmerica Xtreme). Josh gained permission to speak to the group.

"Just like you, I grew up coming to this competition each year," Josh began. "My 23-year-old cousin, Megan, also grew up participating in MAX, but today she is very sick and needs a donor heart."

Josh then felt impressed to tell the miracle story of his Aunt Shar, his mom's younger sister. "All my life, I've heard my mom tell the story of how my Aunt Shar was brought back to life by prayer when she was a toddler."

He described that his mom was almost five years old when her family attended a denominational assembly in Portland, Oregon. While running down a ramp, his Aunt Shar had fallen over the edge--30 feet to the concrete floor. Her body went limp and her eyes rolled back in her head; the convention nurse told the family, "I'm sorry, but she is dead."

Josh continued, "My grandma and grandpa didn't accept the bleak report. Instead, they sped to the nearest hospital. Someone who believed in miracles interrupted an important convention and asked ten thousand people to intercede for the toddler who had fallen to her death. While the people were praying, my grandparents heard noises coming from Shar's throat. She began to breathe!

"The little girl who left the convention center with no pulse walked out of that emergency room with no injuries--not even a broken bone!--because a group of people were willing to intercede and believe for a miracle for a little girl they didn't even know.

"Without a miracle, Megan will die today! I believe in a God who can do the impossible when His people intercede! What is intercession? It's when you have proactive faith and choose to stand in the gap; you take the burden of prayer for someone who cannot pray for herself."

In closing Josh explained, "I don't believe God simply gives us whatever we ask for. Yet I do believe God wants to reveal Himself to His people. If God does not heal Megan, I know my family will continue to proclaim His faithfulness.

"Right now we need to specifically pray about the pneumonia in Megan's body. The doctors say that if this pneumonia doesn't leave, she has no hope for a transplant. Let's pray."

Josh began pacing and praying. Teens, parents, and college students who didn't even know Megan began praying so fervently that some even wept.

As Josh ended his prayer it seemed that he heard God say, I've heard you, child. I will answer.

Back in the hospital, Megan stunned the nurse by asking for food. Her new strength was not medically possible. It had to be supernatural. Later that evening, they learned a heart was available and Megan had surgery the next day.

She Stuck It Out

Nancy was surprised to receive a rod and reel, hunting boots and fishing waders the first Christmas she and her husband were married. She had never expressed a desire for those things and wasn't sure she'd ever need them.

But Dave took her out to the lake, patiently baited her hook, untangled her line and taught her the art of fishing. Then when deer season arrives, he got her up in the wee hours of the morning, helped her find her way through the woods in the dark, and left her to freeze on a deer stand.

Instead of immediately deciding that was not "her thing," she chose to stick it out. To her amazement she found that hunting was one of the most rewarding experiences she'd ever had. Not only did she find a new dimension of life to enjoy, but she realized her husband was sharing part of himself with her.

Thank You, Lord, for providing grace to be willing to do what we would not choose if it will promote harmony.

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies" (Proverbs 31:10).

"A wife of noble character is her husband's crown" (Proverbs 12:4).
"Love is patient" (1 Corinthians 13:4).

A Joyful but Surprising Thought

After this time of tremendous love and praise began to fade from her heart, she heard the Holy Spirit say something unexpected. "Margaret, you will actually bow before Him one great day, but for now I don't want all your thoughts of Jesus to be external, outside of yourself. He is transcendent, but I want you to come to a deepening reality of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit within you at this present time."

Then the Holy Spirit brought to her mind scriptures that speak of the indwelling of God's Spirit.

"He lives with you and will be in you" (John 14:17).

"He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him" (John 14:21).

"If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him" (John 14:23).

She wrote, "I realized I had been too focused on God as being outside of me and not enough on God within me." The thought that we are to become more aware of the Holy Spirit within us has been a joyful thought to me.

Dear Jesus, help me not to ignore Your Spirit within me.

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20).

Patty Needed Prayer

Patty had not been a Christian long when she was dealt a blow that would have discouraged even a more mature Christian. "I feel like giving up," she said.

That night my husband and I prayed for her, asking God to keep her from defeat. She later told me what happened to her that same evening.

She had felt like skipping devotions, but found herself unable to do so. To her surprise, it was easy for her to pray. She arose from her knees encouraged.

During the next few days we continued to pray for Patty. God used a sermon at church, a phone conversation, and an invitation to assist in a church program to help her regain her joy in the Lord.

One of the keys to Paul's prayers was that he could testify, "I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:8). This loving concern and yearning will motivate us to pray in sincerity and with faith.

In Israel's first battle, Moses sent Joshua to lead the army. Then he took Aaron and Hur and went up to the top of the hill to pray. Through the day, one fact became apparent. The winning side was not determined by the armed soldiers. It was determined by those who prayed.

Dear Jesus, help us to take seriously our responsibility to pray for each other.

"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to have all of you, to sift you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail" (Luke 22:31-32).

Livingstone and the Savage Chief*

When David Livingstone was exploring in Africa, he and his native companions camped at a riverside planning to cross the river in the morning. Before Livingstone retired for the night, he learned that a savage chieftain with his band was surrounding their camp.

Livingstone wrote in his diary: "My plans for exploring this region and opening it up to the gospel are in question. Savage natives are approaching our camp. I am leaning on the promise, 'Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world' (Matt. 28:20). That is the word of a Gentleman of the most strict and sacred honor. I know I can rely upon it." And he lay down and slept in peace, secure in that promise.

The next morning the savages came and surrounded the camp. Livingstone ordered the canoes to be loaded, reserving for himself the last place in the last canoe. After they loaded the supplies and were ready to cross the river, he walked up to the chief who had come to murder him. Livingstone took him by the hand and wished him God's blessing.

When Livingstone turned his back, his men cried out in fear thinking the savages would attack him. Livingstone, still trusting in the One of the most strict and sacred honor, got into the canoe and went safely to the other side under God's protection.

Thank You, Lord, that You keep Your Word. You never make a promise that Youfail to fulfill for those who trust You.

"God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?" (Num. 23:19).

*R. E. Carroll related this incident in High Conceptions of God, p. 72.

Unemployed but Not Disappointed

I received the following email from a friend whose husband has been out of work for months. "I have trusted God all my life, but God has been stretching and challenging me this past week to trust Him when it looks like He might not do anything to change our situation. He is challenging me to trust Him when I see nothing and have nothing except Him. 

"More and more things are being stripped from us. The job prospect that we had hoped for fell through this week because they decided not to hire anyone for that position.  [My husband] has sent out his letters, and done everything humanly possible.

"Now our main car won't start and has 2 flat tires. Our money is due to run out this coming month, so that means house, water, and electric are dependent upon Him. One by one God is stripping us of all but Him, and He is asking, 'Do you trust God?'"

"Now we are at the point where whatever happens will not be because of God and our human effort. It will be God alone. It's a bit like jumping off a cliff without a net, bungee cord or a parachute! But we are learning to trust Him, and I'm finding that when you have to trust God, you find you can trust God. Our future and everything about us is now totally in His control. We don't have any human thing left to offer. It's a bit scary, and at the same time, a comforting and safe place to be. I am leaning hard in His embrace."

She later emailed that God provided for their immediate needs in surprising ways. I saw this friend later, and she said they have another job prospect, but she was at peace.  "It's okay either way. God is in control, and He knows what is best."

Thank you, Jesus, that when we trust You to provide what You see we need, we are not disappointed.

"They put their trust in you and were never disappointed" (Psalm 22:5 NLT).