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Stand for Something
Put on every piece of God's armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. + EPHESIANS 6:13
How will you face this new year? Ephesians 6:13 encourages us to face each day standing firm. What does that mean, and how does it happen? We're to stand firm in the power of the Holy Spirit by putting on the whole armor of God. "Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Ephesians 6:14-17).
In other words, God is saying, "Okay, I have given you everything you need to stand against the enemy you will face in this world-now stand." The stand we must take is one without fear, without hesitation, and with confidence as we encounter any crisis that may come our way. It is a stand in spiritual armor that is complete for battle, both defensive and offensive.
Because we live in a fallen world, we will encounter Satan's attacks on our mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. We must remember that he is a defeated foe and that through Christ we have all we need to stand against him. We are to stand and refuse to move from the ground that has been taken through our acceptance of Christ as our Savior.
Scripture tells us the Word of God is our offensive weapon and that we are to pray at all times in the power of the Holy Spirit. Make a commitment this year to study the Bible and learn its directives and promises. Then stand on those promises-in prayer!
Throughout this year keep in mind the stand that military men and women are taking around the world. They are standing for our nation and the principles on which our country was founded. They are standing for a better world for our children and hope for the future. Commit to keep them and their families in your prayers throughout this new year.
Take inspiration from this prayer of Peter Marshall, chaplain of the U.S. Senate in 1947: "Give us clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand for, because unless we stand for something, we shall fall for anything." * Carol
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Father, I commit to stand on your promises in the new year. I pray for the brave men and women who have made a commitment to stand firm for freedom and liberty through their service in the military. In Jesus' name I pray. + Amen.
Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly. + PSALM 5:3
I admit I'm not always the most congenial person in the morning. The older I get, the more time I need to ease into the day. My grandson, on the other hand, is the epitome of a morning person. He awakens with bright eyes wide open and a smile on his face. He greets the day with a cheerful and emphatic "Good morning!" Whatever misery he may have felt the night before has been crucified as he slept, and each new day is a happy resurrection.
Even with my morning challenges, I have found that the best way to begin a day is with Scripture reading and prayer. The great preacher Charles Spurgeon said about prayer, "Let us take care, while we are fresh, to give the cream of the morning to God." Giving God my first thoughts of the day helps me grasp my priorities and focus on what is truly important. Often my prayers are a natural flow from what I read in the Bible. Writing them in a journal has been a helpful tool; the physical act of writing keeps me focused and protects my thoughts from drifting. Having these written prayers also provides a tangible record of God's faithfulness as I record answers or return later to trace the work of his hand in a particular situation.
Developing the spiritual discipline of prayer is a necessity for a Christ follower. The psalmist who penned the words of today's passage obviously had a regular habit of beginning his day with prayer to the Lord. In the original language he paints a word picture of an archer shooting a bow and arrow. It can be assumed that the prayers the psalmist prayed were like arrows that he watched expectantly as they sped to the center of the target.
As a young Christian I struggled to have a disciplined prayer life. Today, I cannot boast by saying I never miss beginning a day with prayer, but the Lord has helped me develop consistency. While discipline plays a role in my prayer life, the goal is not about completing a task. The goal of prayer at any time of the day is to nurture a personal relationship with my heavenly Father. "It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening" (Psalm 92:2). * Brenda
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Father, I thank you for a new day to worship you. I ask for consistency in my prayer life, not as duty, but to be in an ever-closer relationship with you. I give you this day. I pray for military personnel who are on patrol during the night. Surround them with your protection as they stand watch on behalf of others. In Jesus' name I pray. + Amen.
The word of God is alive and powerful. + HEBREWS 4:12
Do you believe the Word of God? Do you believe his Word is our offensive weapon against the enemy of our souls? Do you believe it is alive and just as applicable today as it was when it was written? I do! I have never in my life been so in love with God's Word. I have never in my life experienced such sensitivity to the relevance of God's Word for every situation today. I have never in my life experienced so many teachers and mentors who are so excited about sharing the Word with others.
In January of 2005, my mother, then eighty-three, was encouraged by her church to read through the Bible in a year. She has known the Lord since she was a teenager but had never actually read through, day by day, the entire Bible. She began that first day of January 2005. From the beginning of this experience she had a new excitement and joy that was undeniable. She would call us at night and say, "You will not believe what I just read!" Or she would tell me to go and get my husband, a loving student of the Scriptures, so she could ask a question about something she had read. It was amazing how each word, each book, and each day brought new insight as she fell in love with God's Word.
In September of 2005 my dad passed away. He was the love of my mother's life for sixty-two years. God had prepared her for what was to come as she faithfully hid his Word in her heart that year. She had such peace and such understanding of a better eternal home for my dad. She continued, letting God comfort her as she finished the last word of Revelation on December 31, 2005.
In 2006 my husband and I were challenged by my mother's renewed love of the Bible to also read it through in a year.
What a blessing to fall in love with the living Word all over again! It is his gift to us. * Carol
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Lord, you speak to me through your Word, and I know that you are the Creator of the universe. All things are under your command. Help me to go to your Word each day for peace, understanding, and wisdom. Lead those in harm's way throughout the world to your living Word, providing for them in every conflict and every trial they face. + Amen.
Forgetting the Past
No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. + PHILIPPIANS 3:13
The results of the commitment my husband and I made to reading the Bible in a year were amazing! We fell more and more in love with the Bible as we read it each day. We would sit across the table from each other and say, "Wow" many times over. We had read pieces of Scripture all our Christian lives, but to read it book by book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse was truly a spiritual experience.
Here we are beginning a new year. The Word is hidden in my heart. Just as my mother had no idea that God was comforting her through his Word in order to get through the loss of the love of her life-her husband, friend, and father of her girls-so my own year-long Bible-reading experience is enabling me to live with renewed passion for God's Word in my heart.
While reading that year, I found myself crying through the side notes I had written with names of my sons or of places we had traveled. I had recorded those notes beside specific verses in God's Word to remember how he had brought us through so many challenging times in our lives.
But I can't dwell in the past. Forgetting the past is a directive from God to let go and let him take over. He doesn't want us to dwell on our past sins or mistakes. Remembering how God led us through those times, however, gives us great comfort. He loves us unconditionally, and his presence is a reality.
I pray that you will fall in love with him every day as you are encouraged in these messages of hope and prayers of faith. I can only encourage you to go to God's Word. Let him speak to you. It is his mode of communication with us, and as we practice it we get to learn how to live in victory along the way.
Bless you today! + Carol
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Father God, let this be the year for me to fall in love with you and your Word. Help those who are separated from their loved ones during the conflict in the world. May they pick up your Word daily to receive the message of hope it contains. + Amen.
During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. I guarded them so that not one was lost. + JOHN 17:12
My friend just said good-bye to her husband for a year as he began a deployment to Iraq. I sent her a note to ask how her first week was going. She responded that she was getting some things checked off a list of tasks that she had been compiling for the last year. She knows she has at least twelve months that her husband will be absent, and she is setting a goal to use her time wisely by accomplishing things she wants to get done while he is away.
Today we have people who are time-management experts. There are countless books, seminars, and tools to aid us in managing our time, but the reality is time can't really be saved or managed. John Maxwell suggests, "Since you can't change time, you must instead change your approach to it. Time cannot be managed ... time just is." I understand this to mean we cannot manage time, but we can manage what we do with the time we've been given.
Jesus knew his time on earth was set by the Father. His primary mission was to go to the cross, but before that happened, he wanted to use his time for positive impact on people's lives as is evident in today's passage. None of us knows the exact number of days we have here on earth. Our focus is not to be on how many days we have because that is something we can't manage or control. We can manage and control what we choose to do during the time we are given.
Perhaps it would be helpful to make a list now of those things you would like to do this year. Choose actions that are helpful to others. Spend your time wisely, and begin doing those things you plan.
My friend is turning a challenging crisis in her life into a productive time. She could have chosen to be miserable for the next year. She could easily have given in to constant worry about her husband's well-being and wasted valuable time God has given her. Instead she is choosing to turn it around and be productive even as she misses her husband. In the midst of crisis we still have a choice: to be stuck in self pity or to move forward with the task at hand. * Brenda
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Father, thank you for sending your Son to fulfill his purpose here on earth. Help me to use my time wisely, making the most of each opportunity you give me today. I pray for spouses of deployed military personnel. Help them to trust you during this time of separation. In Jesus' name. + Amen.
Look here, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit." How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog-it's here a little while, then it's gone. + JAMES 4:13-14
I believe in making a plan and being prepared. I am a list maker, and I enjoy seeing checks beside tasks I have accomplished. Yet as a Christian, I sometimes have mixed feelings when it comes to making a detailed plan for the future. How much do I plan for the future, and how much do I leave the future to God's divine providence? If I do not make some plan for my day, I seem to fritter it away. If I am controlled by my to-do list, however, I may miss spontaneous opportunities that would have eternal significance. My daily challenge is to not be ruled by my own plans.
In today's passage, James is addressing the mistake of those who do not even consider the will of God in their daily plans. Their mistake is twofold: first, in thinking they know what is best and can determine their own future; second, in failing to acknowledge that God is sovereign and the One who knows what is best for them.
I have found that my solution to the planning quandary is to daily commit my to-do list to the Lord. I ask him to help me discern his will for each day and make me available to accomplish his plan.
What's on your list today? Whatever it is, commit it to the Lord-and see what happens! * Brenda
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Father, thank you for the plan you have made for my salvation. Forgive me for any plans I have made without considering you. I acknowledge your sovereignty, and I trust you to direct me as I commit myself to your will. I present to you my plans for this day and invite you to rearrange them if you see the need. May I glorify you in all I do. I pray for those who are directing military plans and operations. May they, too, look to you for help and guidance. In Jesus' name. + Amen.
National Take Time off Day
Then Jesus said, "Let's go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile." He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn't even have time to eat. + MARK 6:31
One day during a particularly physically draining season, I wrote in my journal, "After bemoaning my laziness yesterday, I decided to give myself permission to have a day of rest. It was impossible! I must not think it is okay to rest, because when I do, I feel guilty. As a result, I feel tired." The night I wrote that I got a chuckle when I read the online news banner announcing it was National Take Time off Day! On an officially sanctioned day, I still couldn't take the time to relax.
Even Jesus in his short time of ministry intentionally pulled away to quiet places for rest in order to recharge himself physically and spiritually. In today's Scripture, he directs his disciples following an intense time of ministry: "Let's go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile." The original word for rest in Mark 6:31 implies refreshment. If Jesus needed rest to be refreshed in body and spirit after his labors, wouldn't you think we do as well? And if it was okay for him to do, wouldn't you think it would be okay for us, too?
Excerpted from The One Year YELLOW RIBBON Devotional by BRENDA PACE CAROL McGLOTHLIN
Copyright © 2008 by Brenda Pace and Carol McGlothlin. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted June 24, 2011
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