God Does Not Disappoint

I had waited for a decision that would directly affect my life in major ways. I began to look forward to the changes that would occur when the months of waiting were over. More than that, though, I looked to the Lord. His will would be perfect no matter what the outcome would be.

One Monday morning, I received the anticipated phone call. The answer was "No." The opportunity I had dreamed about would not be offered.

I hung up the phone wondering if my spirit would fall after learning that these months of anticipation were answered with God's "No." Suddenly, I was amazed to be filled with overwhelming joy. My daughter came into the room and, while telling her about the phone call, I was so overcome by joy that tears began to flow. 

When an apology was offered a few days later, I could honestly say, "I'm not disappointed. I was hoping in God, not in you."

"Those who hope in me will not be disappointed" (Isaiah 49:23). We can think we're hoping in God, but when the outcome is not what we anticipated, our faith is tested. We can check to see if our faith is in God alone by considering how we would feel if our answer is not what we envision.

Sometimes God may delay His answer to allow our faith to grow. We may think that quick answers to prayer deepens our faith, but faith grows more during times of trusting His promises while refusing to doubt. 

The more we cling to our faith, the stronger our confidence in His faithfulness will become. 

Jesus, please give me discernment to know when my hope is in something or someone other than You.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13).

"But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love" (Psalm 33:18).

 

Let God Give You His Best

While serving in the Philippines as missionaries, on May 27, 2001, Martin and Gracia Burnham were abducted by a militant Islamic group and held captive for 376 days. On the afternoon of June 7, 2002, a rescue attempt managed to free Gracia although her leg was wounded. Martin, though, was killed.

I heard Gracia Burnham tell of those days they were in captivity. They endured incredible hardship as they trekked through the jungle with limited food and supplies.

At one point, they were forced to go without water. Gracia said she was begging, "God, I need water. I can't make it without water."

Then her prayer changed. "Lord, You know what I need. You have something to teach me. Help me to be content."

God blessed her with a spirit of contentment. Contentment--the result of trusting God to supply all our needs in all circumstances--is more satisfying than always having what we would choose for ourselves.

No doubt their submissive spirit was a part of what sustained them during the 376 days. Today Gracia and Martin's hardships so patiently endured are bearing fruit. Some of the militant Islamist group that held them captive are inside prison and three have become Christians. 

During one of their last conversations before Martin was killed, Martin and Gracia discussed the phrase "Serve the Lord with gladness" in Psalm 100. Even though they had been walking through the jungle for a year, Martin believed they were still serving the Lord, and they should do it with gladness.

God gives His best to those who leave the choice to Him. And His best is better than we would think to ask.

Jesus, You know what I need. Thank You for the grace to let You choose.

"Godliness with contentment is great gain" (1 Tim. 6:6).

"Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God" (Ps. 100:2, 3).

 

Our Iron Dome

My husband and I like to take early morning prayer walks. One morning  as we were walking and praying, Daniel asked God to put an "iron dome" over those we were bringing to Him. We have used that phrase many times since. Just as the iron dome in the news is designed to intercept and destroy rockets fired toward Jerusalem, God has told us to take up our "iron dome." "Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one" (Eph. 6:16).

Israel's iron dome reportedly destroys 90 percent of the missiles launched against them. But the word "all" Paul used in this verse means "every kind of variety." With our shield of faith, we can protect from every kind of attack the enemy sends. Our faith-filled prayers can defend from "all the fiery darts of the wicked one" (KJV).

When "bad" things do happen, we put up our shield of faith, and say, "Father, You promised that You would make "all things work together for good to them that love God" (Rom. 8:28). Satan may have intended his flaming arrow to cause harm, but God intends it for good for those who trust Him. (Gen. 50:20) We confidently pray, "I trust You to bring good in this situation because 'You are the ruler of all things' and 'all things serve you.'" (1 Chron. 29:12; Ps. 119:91).

The fiery darts Satan hurls at us can often be labeled "fear" or "worry." Nothing creates that the "iron dome" of faith more effectively than praising Him in the midst of trouble. We praise because we wholeheartedly trust that in His unfailing love God will cause "even this" to serve His good purposes.

Dear Lord, thank You for protecting those for whom we pray when we trust You. And thank You that our fears disappear when we express our confidence in Your promises with praise. 

"Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." (Heb. 11:1 NLT)

God's Word for Our Dark Moments

There is a fascinating story behind the last song William Cowper wrote. Cowper, who died in 1800, often struggled with depression and doubt. One night he decided to go to the Thames River and end his life. He called a cab and asked him to drive him to the river. 

However, according to the story, the fog was so thick that the driver could not find the river. After driving around for some time, the cab driver finally stopped and let Cowper out. To Cowper's surprise, he was at his own front door. God had sent the fog to keep him from killing himself. 

He later wrote this song. I especially like the third and fourth verses:

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

Thank You, Father, that in our most difficult moments, You are watching over us.

"You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand" (John 13:7).

The Awesome Reward

Ellen is a single woman who sensed God calling her to leave her job and enter full-time ministry that paid only a fraction of the salary she was receiving. She sent me this email:

"I began to understand that it wasn't whether or not I was working, but who I was depending on for my sustenance. I would find myself trying to calculate how to do it, forgetting that God told His priests that He was their inheritance and their portion! 

"Today I was supposed to get a check from an elder in our church, but I didn't get it. God has told me very clearly to never ask for money. I obeyed today and went home from church, trusting God for His provision. 

"I had been home a few hours when the elder called. He apologized for not giving me my check and delivered it to my house. I realized though that my fear was broken! I don't need to worry about the provision." Ellen knew that God Himself was with her; He was all she needed.

After Abram had refused riches from the king of Sodom, God told Abram, "Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward" (Genesis 15:1). God was saying much more than that He would give Abram a gift although that would have been a marvelous promise. Now God Himself would become his treasure. The God who owns the universe was now his reward.

When we simply desire more of Him and the fulfillment of His perfect will, we can rest with perfect confidence that He will say to us, "I am your protection and your very great reward."

God it is You we seek. We want each of our prayers to be our expression of longing for You and Your will. We can forego many things, but we cannot forego Your presence and Your pleasure.

"One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple" (Psalm 27:4).

Prayer Assignments

Vonette Bright, co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, spoke frequently encouraging intercessory prayer. I heard her tell of going to one place to speak and meeting a woman who had been praying for Vonette and that particular meeting. At the close of the meeting the woman said to her, "God is not going to let me let you go. He wants me to intercede for you."

After that service, Vonette began getting phone calls from that woman asking about specific needs--often needs that the woman praying had no way of knowing except as God revealed them to her in prayer.

As God's presence accompanied Vonette in her ministry of encouraging others to pray, God was crediting this unknown woman with much of the reward. 

One summer a thought came to me to pray daily a specific amount of time for a certain individual. For a day or two I dismissed the idea. Then an incident occurred that showed me that she desperately needed prayer. I accepted the assignment. At some point during my prayer time, I would set the timer for my assigned minutes and intercede for her.  Some days I was amazed at the specific ways the Spirit led me to pray. Then one week, I received a remarkable confirmation that my exact prayers were being answered. 

A prayer assignment may be for only a brief period. Wesley Duewel wrote in Let God Guide You Daily, "One of my prayer lists names fifty-four persons who are imprisoned for Christ. I try to name each one briefly before the Lord daily. At times as I awakened in the morning, one of those names was instantly on my heart; it was God's special assignment for that day. Sometimes God may bring to your mind someone you have not thought of for months; accept that one as your prayer assignment that day."

When we earnestly bring names to God, it gives Him access to their hearts. Faithfully responding to prayer concerns He gives us will yield eternal rewards. 

Thank You, Lord, for the assurance that You do not assign us to pray prayers You will leave unanswered.

"Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you" (Matt. 7:7 Amp.).

Expect the Impossible

There was a great famine in Samaria and people were starving. The king tore his clothes in despair and vowed to kill the prophet Elisha. Surely he had power to deliver them from the nation that held them captive and he was doing nothing. 

The king and his assistant went to Elisha's door and announced, "All this misery is from the Lord! Why should I wait for the Lord any longer?" (2 Kings 6:33 NLT).

Elisha replied, "This is what the Lord says: By this time tomorrow in the markets of Samaria, six quarts of choice flour will cost only one piece of silver, and twelve quarts of barley grain will cost only one piece of silver" (2 Kings 7:1).

 This appeared impossible. At that moment a donkey's head was sold for two pounds of silver and a cup of dove's dung cost about two ounces of silver. 

But Elisha had heard from the Lord. He was not afraid to believe that God could and would do the impossible.

"That couldn't happen even if the Lord opened the windows of heaven!" the king's messenger retorted.

Elisha prophesied, "You will see it happen, but you won't be able to eat any of it!"

And Elisha was right. Two lepers decided to go to the enemy camp and beg for food. God had caused the whole enemy army to hear the sound of galloping horses and clattering chariots, and they fled for their lives.

The two lepers went into the tents and began eating and drinking and carrying out silver and gold. Finally, they said, "This is not right. We'd better tell the others."

The next day there was such a mad rush that the messenger who was stationed at the door was trampled to death. It happened just as Elisha had said. "You will see it happen, but you won't be able to eat any of it!"

Samaria's severe famine ended with an abundance. I've been encouraged to believe that in our day God will pour out His Spirit in such abundance that we would think "Impossible!" if we were told now. Prayers we are praying for situations that look hopeless will be answered. It may happen quickly just as it did for Samaria. 

God, I join others in believing that You will do a supernatural work in our day beyond our ability to anticipate.

"Shout and be glad, Daughter Zion. For I am coming...Be still before the Lord, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling." (Zech. 2:10, 13).

Julie's Struggle to Love Her Granddaughter

Not only was Donna* handicapped but also she was a biracial child, and her unwed mother was living with Julie and her husband in the parsonage. Julie was torn between her heart-rending need to love Donna and the barrier of pride that stood in the way. She wanted to love her fully, but fear of what people would think haunted her constantly. 

While agonizing over this, she clung to the verse of scripture that had sustained her during the months before Donna's birth: "...but he said to me, my grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9). Was God's grace sufficient to replace the shame, pride, fear and guilt in her heart with love? She felt so weak--could His power be made perfect in her for the days that lay ahead? 

Julie bowed her head and asked God to forgive her and give her strength to overcome her lack of love. While she was praying, the Holy Spirit brought to her mind a prayer she'd read that Ann Kiemel Anderson prayed. Ann had wanted to witness to Mario, the janitor who vacuumed the halls of their apartment building, so she prayed: "Lord, help me to be to Mario what You would be to Mario if You were living here in this apartment building with Mario."

Using Ann's prayer as a guide, Julie prayed sincerely from her heart: "Lord, help me to love Donna the way You would love Donna if You were here caring for Donna."

Julie said, "I cannot explain the miracle that took place. After praying that unpretentious prayer, love so pure and strong, so full and complete, flooded my being. It was simply God's amazing grace." She thanked and praised Him for the marvelous way He had answered her prayer.

Thank You, Jesus, that You simply ask us to be a channel of Your love to others.

"God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work" (2 Cor. 9:8 NIV84).

*Names have been changed.

Enjoying Intimacy With God

Why do some enjoy a more intimate relationship with God than others? "We are at this moment as close to God as we really choose to be," states Oswald Sanders. In his book Enjoying Intimacy With God, he wrote of a study he did of Moses and the Israelites that revealed four circles of intimacy available to God's people.

In the "outer circle" was the vast majority of Israelites Moses prepared for God's visible presence on Mount Sinai. "...the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, 'Be careful that you do not approach the mountain'" (Exodus 19:11-12).

Why were barriers erected to keep them at a distance from God? The people later showed that they did not qualify for a fresh revelation of God. They simply did not desire to come too close to God. To them "the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain" (24:17).

A smaller number was in the "second circle." "Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up...they saw God, and they ate and drank" (24:9-11).

This group had a much more intimate vision of God than those in the outer circle. Although they must have felt a very real sense of His presence, it effected no permanent transformation. Only a short time later, they were worshipping the golden calf.

Only two were in the "third circle." "Then Moses set out with Joshua his aide, and Moses went up on the mountain of God. He said to the elders, "Wait here for us" (24:13-14). Of all Israel, only two qualified to come nearer God. What was Joshua's qualification? A clue is given in Exodus 33:11. Moses had erected a tent where he and the others could meet God. "When Moses returned to the camp, his servant Joshua...would not depart from the tent."

Only Moses was in the "inner circle." "When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai" (24:15-16). The outer circle feared the consuming fire on the mountain top, but Moses saw in it the glory of God and worshipped. 

"The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend" (Ex. 33:11). What could be more intimate than speaking face to face as friends? After this, Moses had a consuming desire to know God better and prayed, "Show me your glory." It is deep desire that admits us to the inner circle. 

Thank You, Father, that when we desire a communion with You that is close and real, it is gloriously possible to experience a growing intimacy.

"One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple" (Psalm 27:4).

Live in His Constant Presence

"As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people, both now and forever" (Psalm 125:2). On stormy days, how foolish it would have been for the Israelites to have exclaimed, "I can't see the mountains today; I guess they're no longer around us."

God wants us to live aware that He surrounds us at all times. "Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age," were Jesus' final words to His disciples in Matthew. 

As we train ourselves to lift our thoughts and our moments of perplexity to Him, we'll discover that He's willing to direct every detail of our lives. We learn we can depend on Him to bring to mind appropriate words because we're living in union with the Holy Spirit. Even small expressions of love to Him can often bring the joy of His presence. "In him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28). 

Hannah Whital Smith wrote that  to live in His presence "simply means that we acknowledge God in all our ways by saying over each moment of our life, 'The Lord is here,' and by doing whatever we do for his glory." 

Being in God's presence does not make us appear either preoccupied or unhappy. Phoebe Palmer said that during one Christmas season she didn't want to have company because of her strong desire to seek God. But she went ahead and entertained as she was expected to and said later that, despite her inner seeking, she had never been so cheerful and her company had left with thoughts of God.

God responds with love to every effort we make to recognize He is near. He longs for us to discover He is truly Immanuel (God with us).

Thank You, Jesus, that an abiding sense of Your presence means peace, strong confidence, and victorious living.

 

"'"Shout and be glad, Daughter Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,' declares the Lord" (Zech. 2:10). 

"My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest" (Ex. 33:14).

 

 

Encouraged in Nelson's Art Gallery

When my husband and I visited Kansas City's Nelson Art Gallery, he detected a detail I had missed while looking at a painting of Christ on the Sea of Galilee. The painting pictured the frightened disciples in the mist of a violent storm. While the panicked disciples tried to bail the water out of the boat, Jesus slept peacefully. 

The detail that I had missed was the demonic looking face peering through the stormy waves. This storm was unlike any other the disciples had encountered. Herbert Stevenson in Titles of the Triune God says that the Gospel narrative suggests that the storm was satanic in origin. Although the disciples were good sailors, this storm was too much for them. As the boat filled with water, in panic they cried, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?"

Jesus simply said, "Peace, be still," and the sea calmed immediately. It was as if the water said, "My Master just spoke; I'll have to be quiet now.

Then Jesus rebuked the disciples wondering why they had not believed. After all, Jesus had said, "Let's go to the other side" when they left. If Jesus said that, they could be certain nothing would prevent their arriving safely. A storm would not hinder God's plans.

His stilling of the waters symbolizes what He is able to do in the storms of our lives. Soon after that, a storm came into my life. I would think of that painting and picture myself asleep with Jesus. He was in charge and would accomplish His purposes. I could rest in that truth and be calm and unafraid.

Dear Jesus, help me to simply trust You knowing that with You within, I can be calm and unafraid.

"Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" (Mark 4:40).

"Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10).

One Man's Burden Impacts His Nation

Pastor Nakov in Macedonia attended a conference in 2013 in Turkey. His heart ached when he saw many mosques in contrast with early Christian ruins. He wondered "Why is Islam flourishing?" and "What happened to the gospel witness?"

He returned home and during the night he sensed the Holy Spirit's presence. The Spirit asked him piercing questions that showed him he was not praying much, nor was his church. He was ashamed and convicted. He saw that the Islams were rising to pray earlier that he was.

He wept as he saw just how much they were playing church, and he asked God to change him.

The next Sunday he issued a call to prayer. They started with just one or two, then six. Finally about half the church responded. They were praying corporately and God was responding. Then pastors began praying together.

Now they are seeing answers as they pray not only for their own church but also for their nation to be in unity with others in the Balkans. Last year the Serbian president publicly asked for forgiveness for Serbia's past violence and bloodshed. Bulgarian officials have asked for forgiveness from its citizens of Turkish nationality who were expelled from their homes decades earlier.

"All of Europe needs to come before God and repent for the preaching of a cheap gospel that does not change lives; it is no gospel," said Pastor Nakov. "We in the Church must repent, ask forgiveness, and experience reconciliation. We now want only God's presence and His power to flow in us and through us."*

One pastor who asked God to change his own prayer life and who called his church to corporate prayer is changing his nation! God works when one leader obeys. God is still looking for just one person who will take the lead.

Dear Jesus, please allow us to see our potential influence to change our nation through prayer.

"Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her squares. If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city" (Jeremiah 5:1).

* Adapted from the July-August 2014 First Friday Prayer Letter.

Be Thankful for Another's Difficulties

Sometimes it is easier to suffer ourselves than to watch someone we love suffer. And it may be easier to thank God for our own difficulties than to thank Him for the hardships of those we love. We naturally want to spare our loved ones any pain. 

God brought this to Betty's attention as she prayed for her sister to have the child she longed for. For ten years, her sister longed for a baby. As the months and years drug on, piling disappointment on disappointment, Betty's heart broke with her. Her prayers were constantly beseeching God to give her sister a baby.

One morning God brought it to Betty's attention that her prayers for her sister were very different from her prayers for her own difficulties. God had taught her to thank Him in every circumstance in her life, good or bad. He had shown her over and over how everything works together for good. She was so intent on sparing her sister pain that Betty was not thanking God for her circumstance, knowing that He already had the answer prepared, the timing planned, and that He was at work in her life redemptively. Betty was not willing to let her walk through trials to become all that God intended.

That morning Betty began to thank God for every day of her wait. She thanked God for the baby that would be born. She thanked Him for the spiritual strength He was building in her. She thanked God for His timing. 

It was still several years before the baby daughter came. Betty believes her thanksgiving allowed her to cooperate with God through intercession. It changed her outlook and released her to pray in the Spirit instead of in her own wisdom.

Thank You, Jesus, for teaching us how to pray the prayers that please You.

"I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers (Eph. 1:16).

What Makes Satan Tremble

Dian Ginter was once the coordinator for the on-site praying at Promise Keepers. She coordinated dozens of people to pray around the clock for every detail of the conferences. Those praying were given three- to four-hour shifts and told specifically the requests to take to the Lord.

During the meetings she had a runner who would bring prayer requests to them. If the electricity wasn't working or someone was sick, the runner let them know immediately. Each speaker told her what truth he wanted the men to take with him from the conference.

After their first on-site praying during the conference, the vice-president of Promise Keepers told her, "We have never had a conference that has worked so well."

Dian told me that at the Indianapolis conference everyone was worried that the men would not be able to arrive on time because of road construction and a large pep rally only blocks away. The on-site pray-ers took the matter to God. She peeked out when it was time to begin, and the place was packed. Later, someone told her that amazingly the traffic flowed beautifully despite the crowds and construction.

The men were to eat in a park two blocks away and the heat was so intense that the leaders requested prayer. She asked those praying to pray for a cloud to cover the men like the children of Israel experienced. She admitted it was an unrealistic request.

About an hour later, a girl came in and began chatting and casually said, "You know, I was upstairs watching and saw a funny silvery thing hovering over the area."

Dian asked, "Was it like a cloud?"

"Yeah, it was like a cloud!" she exclaimed.

Men who had attended Promise Keepers said they could sense the presence of the Lord when they walked on the grounds. Now we know why.

Satan fears prayer more than any other ministry. A hymn writer expressed it well when he said, 'Satan trembles when he sees one Christian on his knees."

He trembles even more when he sees two of us kneel together!

Thank You, Jesus, for giving us a powerful reason to pray with others.

If two of you on earth agree (harmonize together, together make a symphony) about--anything and everything--whatever they all ask, it will come to pass and be done for them by My Father in heaven" (Matt. 18:19 AMP.).

 

 

 

Jehovah Sabaoth

One time during the reformation while Melanchthon was preaching, people began throwing sticks and stones. Suddenly they were stopped by a voice coming down the road. Martin Luther came up that dusty road singing in German:

A mighty fortress is our God,

A bulwark never failing....

Dost ask who that may be? 

Christ Jesus it is He; 

Lord Sabaoth is His name;

From age to age the same;

And He must win the battle.

Why must Lord Sabaoth win the battle? The simplest translation of Lord Sabaoth is "The Lord of hosts." 

This Lord of hosts is the Commander in Chief of all the armies of men on earth and of all the armies of the angels, seraphim and cherubim in heaven. Jehovah Sabaoth is fighting for his people. This Name of God is related to His omnipotence and sovereignty. God is over all powers - in heaven and on earth.

God used this name in the book of Samuel when the Israelites were under the Philistine attack. In these circumstances, the men of God began to say, "Jehovah Sabaoth is on our side. He is the Lord of hosts."

This name is also found in the story of David and Goliath. When David picked up five stones and went out to fight the nine-foot giant, he said, "You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts [Jehovah Sabaoth], the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied" (1 Samuel 17:45 NKJV). David needed only a slingshot to win with the Lord of hosts fighting for him.

If we know Jehovah Sabaoth is on our side, no matter our battle, in the end we will be more than conquerors.

"Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them" (2 Kings 6:16 NKJV).

Thank You, Jesus, that we are on the winning side.

 

My daughter Arla Mitchell has been praying for a different need each day using scripture. You can see her videos of the "40 Day Prayer Challenge" on the Come to the Fire Facebook page.

God Keeps His Promises

One of the Hebrew words that describes God is Emeth and is often translated as Truth. Moses heard God use this word speaking of Himself: "The Lord, The Lord God...abundant in goodness and truth" (Exodus 34:6 KJV). 

Because God is truth, His words are reliable. Has God given you a promise that is yet unfulfilled? Repeatedly He assures us that He keeps His word: "God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?" (Num. 23:19).

We might make promises rashly or make promises we cannot fulfill. But such limitations never hamper our omnipotent God. He even fulfills His promise to give us the desires of our hearts as He promises in Psalm 37:4. He did that for Moses who asked to cross over into Canaan. Fifteen centuries later God said, "Moses, I am sending you to the Promised Land to visit. You will visit with the Son of God on the Mount of Transfiguration." (See Matthew 17:1-3.) 

Our Father declares, "I will not violate my covenant or alter what my lips have uttered" (Psalm 89:34). In God's words of promise there is no exaggeration. He may mean more, but He can not mean less; for He is "A faithful God who does no wrong,upright and just is he" (Deut. 32:4). "He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind" (1 Sam. 15:29).

All of His Word was written for you. Take His Word when you go to Him and ask Him to do exactly what He has said. Use the Word in your praying: lovingly, humbly, but boldly holding God to His Word. He will not violate His promise to you. He is Truth and He is bound to His promise.

Because David knew God to be Truth, he reverently, but with holy insistence, prayed for the fulfillment of God's promise. "Do as you promised...that your name will be great forever...O Lord, you are God! You have promised these good things to your servant" (1 Chronicles 17:23-24 KJV). 

Dear God, what a consolation it is to know that You always keep Your promises.

"You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed" (Josh. 23:14).

My daughter Arla Mitchell has been praying for a different need each day using scripture. You can see her videos of the "40 Day Prayer Challenge" on the Come to the Fire Facebook page.

 

How to Pray Appropriately

Effective prayers in the Old Testament frequently called upon God to protect the honor of His name. Then, as now, Satan is not after us. He is out to make our Lord appear weak, uncaring, and unfaithful. 

King Hezekiah must have understood that. When the king of Assyria sent a terrifying word to him, he prayed, "Now, O Lord our God, rescue us from his power; then all the kingdoms of the earth will know that you alone, O Lord, are God" (Isa. 37:18, 20).

More than his own survival, Hezekiah wanted God's name to be honored. As John Oswalt appropriately states, "What happened to Judah was not of ultimate importance; what happened to God's name mattered to all eternity."

We easily say we desire to glorify God, but then when we are in a crisis, our prayers focus on our own deliverance. Rather than being deeply concerned with how the outcome will cause others to perceive God, we simply want relief. Could it be that at times we might more honestly pray, "May our name be honored"?

When we seek to honor His name, when our lives and our prayers are all about guarding the honor of His holy name, we discover that our own needs are fully met. 

Dear God, enable us to care deeply for the honor of Your Name. May all temptations to desire personal gain more than Your glory be revealed, confessed, and cleansed.

"When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures" (James 4:3).

 

Love Must Be Felt

  After Nan had wandered from Christ's teaching, she frequently heard, "You should go to church," and "You should get saved...." The emphasis was always on her failures, and such talk irritated her. After she returned to God, I asked her what had brought her back. She replied, "I began to hear God say, 'I love you.'"

Nan's well-intentioned friends loved her, but their ministry to her was limited by her perception of their caring. An African told what nationals expect of their missionaries: "We expect you to fellowship with us, to sit where we sit. We want to look into your eyes to see if we see compassion. If you come with love, we'll detect it. We want to see if you win us to your heart before you try to win us to Jesus." 

When we were visiting missionaries in Papua New Guinea, I heard the story of a national who had previously worked for an American who professed to be a Christian. Never once was the national invited to eat with the Americans. She always took her portion of left-overs and ate out the back door. With great amazement she saw Joanna, their new missionary, hug her house girls and share food with them around the kitchen table. When Joanna invited her into their home for a meal, her reservations were completely dissolved. Joanna truly loved them.

Norma shared, "My neighbor said she doesn't want to be a Christian. She'd had too many bad experiences-as when her husband was dying of cancer and someone asked, 'Are you a Christian?' She sensed no love in the question. It was not what she needed to hear at the time." 

As John 15:6 says, when we're not abiding in Christ, our efforts are like sticks put into the fire and burned. They accomplish nothing. 

Dear Jesus, Your love meets people's deepest need. Make me a channel for Your love to flow through. 

"Don't just pretend to love others. Really love them" (Rom. 12:9 NLT). 

"God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 5:5) 

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North Korea and Elizabeth Prentiss

"I feel so empty," Elizabeth Prentiss wept. She had just lost three children in three months. She had already experienced much pain in her life from losing the use of her legs, but then her faith in Christ had always kept her smiling with a unique ability to encourage others.

This time the grief was too much to bear. "God, please minister to my broken spirit." God answered her prayer. One afternoon, moved by her love for Jesus, she penned the words to this familiar, inspiring hymn: 

More love to thee, O Christ, more love to thee! 

Hear thou the prayer I make on bended knee. 

This is my earnest plea: More love, O Christ, to thee . . . 

 

Once earthly joy I craved, sought peace and rest;

Now thee alone I seek, give what is best . . . 

 

Let sorrow do its work, send grief and pain; 

Sweet are thy messengers, sweet their refrain

When they can sing with me: 

More love, O Christ, to thee . . . 

Elizabeth never knew the comfort and impact her song would make on future Christians. In North Korea when the late Communist leader Kim II Sung discovered 30 Christians living underground, he had them brought out for public execution. The last words sung by the Christians as they faced death were the words of her song, "More Love to Thee."

Jesus loved Elizabeth too much to let her drown in her tears. He allowed her sorrow to last just long enough to cause her to turn to Him. Like the North Korean Christians awaiting persecution, she learned what it was like to rejoice even while she was suffering.

Dear Father, I pray that every sorrow You allow will turn into more love for You.

"Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: . . . sorrowful, yet always rejoicing" (2 Cor. 6:4, 10).

Jesus Sleeps in A Storm

The only occasion we see Jesus asleep was when He was on a tossing ship in the midst of a wild storm! The idea to cross the lake had not been the disciples' idea. Jesus had told them, "Let's go over to the other side of the lake."

So they got into a boat and started out.  Jesus lay down with His head on a cushion and while he was napping, "a fierce storm arose. High waves began to break into the boat until it was nearly full of water."

The account in Luke 8 declares, "They were in great danger." 

"Frantically they woke him up shouting, 'Teacher, don't you even care that we are going to drown?'" (Mk. 4:37, 38).

Jesus woke up and rebuked the wind and said to the water, "Quiet down!" Then He asked them two questions: "Why are you so afraid?" and "Do you still not have faith in me?"

Despite the fact that "they were in great danger," Jesus was asking, "Why are you afraid?" His message was "If You have faith, you will be unafraid even when it appears all is not well." After all, Jesus had said, "Let's go over to the other side of the lake" (Lk. 8:22). His Word would be accomplished. What Jesus asks us to do can be done.

Jesus is our pattern of how to respond to our storms. Jesus slept. He knew very well that the storm could not do anything against His will, and so He rested. 

So we, too, should refuse to recognize difficulties as something to be feared. And we must never let it destroy our faith that God cares and is in control. Even when we think He is asleep, He's working out His will and using the storm to advance His purposes and our good.

Dear Jesus, help me to rest in You and to wait patiently for You to rebuke the storm and bring peace.

"They asked one 'Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him'" (Luke 8:25).