July 2012


Prayer Focus: Kazakhstan

Bible Reading: 2 Kings 21; 2 Chronicles 33

Scripture

9 But Manasseh led the people of Judah and Jerusalem to do even more evil than the pagan nations that the LORD had destroyed when the people of Israel entered the land.
10 The LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they ignored all his warnings.11 So the LORD sent the commanders of the Assyrian armies, and they took Manasseh prisoner. They put a ring through his nose, bound him in bronze chains, and led him away to Babylon.12 But while in deep distress, Manasseh sought the LORD his God and sincerely humbled himself before the God of his ancestors. (2 Chronicles 33:9-12 ESV)

Observation

Manasseh was an evil king.  Not just bad, he was evil.  He was worse than the pagan nations that God destroyed.  He even sacrificed his own son in a fire to a pagan god.  God sent him warning after warning, but Manasseh refused to listen.  It wasn’t until Manasseh lost everything and found himself a prisoner and slave to a foreign King that he finally bowed his head and repented.  Unfortunately, Manasseh’s son Amon didn’t do the same.

Application

What does it take to get you to listen to the Lord?  It’s so easy to go on about our own way thinking that everything is fine because the Lord is patient.  He sends us warning after warning and we think we’re safe and we’ll deal with that later because God is patient and He’ll understand.  What happens when God’s patience runs out?  It does run out, you know.  Will you wait until you lose everything?  Will you repent because you realized you were wrong, or just because you got caught?

I can see Manasseh sitting in a dirty cell, stripped of all the royal trappings and his stomach growing, and that still small voice speaking out of the darkness to him, “Manasseh.  Can you hear me now?”

Prayer

Lord, I know there is sin in my life that I haven’t addressed.  I pray that my heart will be open to your call and I will be humble before you.  While I want to remove those things that keep me from wholly serving you I pray that it happens willingly and not because you need to discipline me.  I also pray for the Church.  Revive us and show us how to be a light to the world and share your good news.  Humble us gently, Lord.

Prayer Focus: Kazakhstan

Bible Reading: Isaiah 64-66

Scripture

I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;
I was found by those who did not seek me.
To a nation that did not call on my name,
I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’ (Isaiah 65:1)

Observation

I cannot imagine the broken heart of a rejected Father whose children have forgotten Him. He is not forceful, but pursues those He loves.

Application

It’s quite sad to read this verse and those that follow, especially as a dad myself. Although not written to us and our nation, it is certainly descriptive of our land. Oh that we would respond to His call, be obedient to His commands, and receive His invitation to experience abundant life, not in goods and services, but in Him.

Prayer

LORD, once again I ask for Your forgiveness for the countless times I have forgotten You. I take matters into my own hands. I worry. I fear. I want power and control. I want to do things my way. I ignore Your commands, Your wisdom, Your voice. Although my actions betray me, my heart never wants to reject or forget You. Instead I want to immediately respond in obedience to Your Word and will. I pray for our nation, too, that we would return to You, seeking holiness and godliness rather than politically correct so-called tolerance that tolerates everything but You and Your ways. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Prayer Focus: Japan

Bible Reading: Isaiah 54-58

Scripture

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Observation

God created us in His image. We often return the favor! Our God is higher, greater, stronger, and more powerful than we can ever hope to become.

Application

It is so natural to attempt to understand God, to judge His decisions, and to question His Word. There is no one like our God.

Prayer

LORD, I’m so grateful that You are sovereign and in control, powerful and unfamiliar with the impossible, all-knowing and beyond understanding. My pride tries to ascend to Your greatness, compete with Your wisdom, and arrogantly critique Your ways. Forgive me for not fully surrendering in all areas of my life. I know Daddy knows best in all things, yet I often demand explanations, short cuts, or change. I love You and Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Prayer Focus: Japan

Bible Reading: Isaiah 50-53

Scripture

Because the Sovereign LORD helps me,
I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint,
and I know I will not be put to shame. (Isaiah 50:7)

Observation

It is easy to follow the crowd, to do what is politically correct, and to blend in with the world. We are called to a higher standard, a different lifestyle, a radical way of living. We are peculiar people in the eyes of the masses, but keeping our face on God will result in the ultimate acceptance…from our Creator.

Application

I need to please God rather than my peers. This is often easier said than done.

Prayer

LORD, thank You for Your help. Thank You for Your direction. Thank You for vision, for wisdom, and for life. Forgive me for the countless times I set my face upon things other than You. Thank You for Your promises. I love You, LORD! In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Prayer Focus: Japan

Bible Reading: Isaiah 46-49; Psalm 135

Scripture

The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
made by human hands.
They have mouths, but cannot speak,
eyes, but cannot see.
They have ears, but cannot hear,
nor is there breath in their mouths.
Those who make them will be like them,
and so will all who trust in them. (Psalm 135:15-18)

Observation

It’s easy to dismiss the idols of days gone by as ridiculous relics of an ancient, uneducated people. Who in their right mind would worship something “made by human hands,” or would we? USAmericans devote countless time and energy in the pursuit of more pieces of paper that we call money. We construct grand structures and pay greatly to watch athletes play games or musicians perform music. One of our greatest pastimes now is shopping! Is it all that far-fetched to say that we have as many idols in our culture today as in biblical days?

Application

I write this on one of my most important tools, my MacBook Pro. Did you notice how I rationalized that, calling it a tool rather than a possession or—worse—an idol? Am I more devoted to technology, toys, television, time with friends, power, pleasure…or God? What or Who is the real object of my worship and allegiance?

Prayer

LORD, I am tempted daily to pursue anything and everyone but You. I don’t kneel before a statue, but my heart does not always beat the strongest for You, the One I claim as my King and LORD. I never want to serve other gods. I never want anything or anyone to place You in second place—or worse—in my life. Forgive me for my idolatry. I want to want You, my first Love. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Prayer Focus: Jamaica

Bible Reading: Isaiah 43-45; Psalm 80

Scripture

“What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator.
Does a clay pot argue with its maker?
Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’
Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be?’

How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father, ‘Why was I born?’
or if it said to its mother,  ‘Why did you make me this way?’”

This is what the LORD says—the Holy One of Israel and your Creator:
“Do you question what I do for my children? Do you give me orders about the work of my hands?

I am the one who made the earth and created people to live on it.
With my hands I stretched out the heavens.  All the stars are at my command. (Isaiah 45:9-12 NLT)

Observation

In these passages (Isaiah 43-45) God is speaking through Isaiah about the sin of Israel, the God of Israel, the idolatry of Israel, the redemption of Israel, and in Psalm 80 it’s the people crying out to the Lord for restoration.

If the Isaiah 45:9-12 passage is a good indicator than it sounds like the people of Israel, like children, spent more time arguing about what was wrong than doing what was right.

Application

God speaks to His people Israel in this passage like a parent to a child asking, “Who do you think you are?”

Are we really going to argue with someone who has the stars at their command?

Are we really going to try and tell God what to do, or how to do it?

We are finite creatures with little understanding.  Sure we have the World Wide Web and we think that means that we have access to so much knowledge, but in reality it’s just so much opinion through the eyes of other finite creatures.  Only God sees the total picture as it is now, as it was, and only He knows how it all turns out.

Do we wrestle with God for understanding?  Absolutely.  But does the finite counsel the infinite?  The question even sounds silly.

Prayer

Lord, I’ve questioned you more times than I can count.  Forgive me for not trusting You.  Teach me to depend on You for all things, to see the world through Your eyes, and to have confidence in the grace You offer through the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Amen.

Restore us, O Lord God of hosts!  Let your face shine, that we may be saved!  (Psalm 80:19 ESV)

Prayer Focus: Italy

Bible Reading: Isaiah 40-42; Psalm 46

Scripture

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)

Observation

Our God is awesome. He is omnipotent…all-powerful. He does not hoard His power, but provides it to those “who hope in the LORD.” He never grows weary. He is never sick. He never misses our prayers or fails us in any way. What a mighty God we serve!

Application

This week marks the beginning of the XXX Olympic Games in London. Some of the strongest men and women in the world will compete before the eyes of men, women and children around the globe.

The weak are rarely thrust into the spotlight. The tired are not admired. There is, however, help available to those who hope in the LORD. Whether we are physically, spiritually, emotionally, financially, or mentally weak, God is able to provide the strength we need to not only survive, but thrive. What a promise!

Prayer

LORD, I am so weak. My body is aging, my mind is slipping, my wisdom is limited, my emotions are weary, and my spirit longs for more of You. Although this passage was not written to me, I’m grateful for the encouragement and hope that they offer. Thank You for being truly awesome and desiring a relationship with me. I’m so unworthy but grateful. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Next Page »