(Paul defends himself before Agrippa), "So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds. This is why the Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. But I have had God's help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to the small and great alike." Acts 26:19-22
When we hear from you, whether it's directly from your word or through someone's biblical teaching or by the prompting of your Spirit, give us the desire to obey your commands. Make us willing to speak about who you are so others can come to know you as Savior. Prevail in, through, and around us. Amen.
Not too long ago in my morning quiet time, I came across a prayer written by Richard Foster, entitled "A Prayer of Relinquishment".
I wrote it down in my journal because, for me, it's a "keeper." The content of the prayer is simple yet profound, and can be prayed daily with new meaning behind each phrase.
Here is the prayer:
Today, O Lord, I yield myself to you.
May your will be my delight today.
May your way have perfect sway in me.
May your love be the pattern of my living.
I surrender to you my hopes, my dreams, my ambitions. Do with them what you will, when you will, as you will.
I place into your loving care my family, my friends, my future. Care for them with a care that I can never give.
I release into your hands
my need to control,
my craving for status,
my fear of obscurity.
Eradicate the evil, pacify the good, and establish your kingdom on earth.
For Jesus' sake. Amen.
Which line grabbed your attention?
When I first read it, I identified with these words, "I release into your hands...my fear of obscurity." Today, as I am typing, this particular line strikes a chord in my heart, "I place into your loving care my family, my friends, my future." Next time I pray this prayer, God will most likely highlight something else that needs tending to in my life. He's always working in me, pulling things to the surface so that I can bring my "stuff" (my worries, fears, doubts, wayward thoughts and actions, etc) to him. And how gracious and patient God is to help me open my hands back up, releasing it all, in full trust once again.
I encourage you to spend some time with the Lord today. Make a date and choose a quiet place to have a Heart-to-heart with him. Personalize this prayer. He will be delighted to listen to you, and as equally delighted to respond.
Unclinch your fists and relinquish whatever you're holding into the hands of your all knowing, all loving, almighty God.
This past Sunday was no ordinary Sunday.
Our 29 year old son Bink joined us in Panama City Beach for the weekend.
I will allow his words to tell his story:
“I was sitting beachside and then got up to go into the ocean.
I heard some yelling going on and looked down the beach and thought maybe they were just playing. A guy near me was on a boogie board and called out to me, 'Sir I think they need some help.'
So I made my way over to the commotion alongside of the boogie board guy and that’s when I realized the current was much stronger. I have never felt anything like it. Crazy how powerful it was. I made my way over to two of the guys (a dad and his teenage son) and grabbed hold of them with my arms over their chest and tried to fight my way into shore with them.
I made a game time decision to take one at a time because of the rip current. I pushed forward with the son, found my footing and got him to the shore. I then turned and went and grabbed hold of the dad and got him safely to shore. He fell to the sand, laid out in exhaustion. The boogie board guy got the other teenage son safely to shore.
Someone called 911 and they came. All of us were safe.”
The back story is this:
Bink has been training for months and months in the swimming pool so he can compete later in the summer and fall as a Masters swimmer. He's as strong as he's ever been. Little did he know he was training for something more than fast times at a swim meet. He certainly didn't know where he was going to be on the afternoon of June 12th.
But God did. He knew Bink was the man for this rescue job because, first of all, he made Bink rather passionate and fearless. And he also knew that Bink was now physically ready "for such a time as this."
It amazes me what God knows and what we do not! At times like this I marvel as the unfolding takes place.
And here's another "God-touch" to add to the story:
Months before this rescue day, I had taken the above picture on a morning beach walk. There were imprints of what looked like "Bink" all along the sand. Of course seeing his name made me pray for him, for his present and for his future. Little did I know that I was praying for his future works on the very beach I was walking.
This picture, along with the events of the day, reminded me of this verse:
We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:20
I'm thankful for the outcome of this day.
I'm thankful for what God knows about our future.
Believe he has prepared good works for each one of us.
Let's be sure to walk in them.
We may not save a life today, but we certainly can encourage someone.
Live out what has already been imprinted by your Maker.
If someone were to describe you, what words would they use?
And, if you were to describe someone, what words would you assign to him or her?
These questions have come to mind because over the last month, I have been in the book of Acts and a couple of repetitious words have crossed my path. Catch the words "full of" in these short phrases:
--the apostles were full of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4)
--the religious leaders were full of jealousy (Acts 5:17)
--the seven chosen men were full of the Spirit and of wisdom (Acts 6:3)
--Stephen was full of grace and power (Acts 6:8)
--Dorcas was full of good works and charity (Acts 9:36)
Take a moment and ask yourself, what am I "full of"?
Be honest with yourself and with the Lord. It's okay to admit that you might be full of:
fear and doubt,
pride and anger, or
stress and anxiety.
When we admit the condition of our hearts to the Lord, and want to change our ways, God can do amazing things in us! I have seen this clearly in the book of Acts. The same disciples that fled on the night of Jesus' arrest and crucifixion (full of fear and confusion) are now, full of the Spirit, and are courageously turning the world upside down with their faith. It's like these men are an entirely different group of Jesus' followers.
The same can be true for us. Ask the Lord to help you right where you are. What do you want to be full of? God, through the Holy Spirit will help you.
A second question is this:
If you were to describe someone in an honoring way, what would he or she be "full of"? Is there someone that comes to mind? Maybe reach out to this person and thank them for just being who they are in Christ. It's never a bad idea to encourage or thank someone. So do it today; be "full of" gratitude and kind words towards them. it might just change both of your days entirely.
We're all full of something. We get to chose what that something is. The truth is, there is no better privilege on earth than to be full of the Lord.
Thank you that the characteristics of your Holy Spirit can be beautifully displayed through each one of us. May we be full of YOU, not only for our own benefit, but also so that we can be a blessing to all those we encounter. Amen.
Forty Day Journey of Prayer is a devotional that helps guide the reader into a daily conversation with God. Each day begins with a focused-Bible verse or passage and then is followed by insights pertaining to it. Journal lines are provided to write out prayer requests and personal thoughts. As one commits to reading God's word and praying in this way for forty days, his/her relationship with the Lord will then be marked with both sweetness and strength.
Forty Day Journey of Peace is a devotional that takes the reader on a quest to find out what brings God's peace. It is divided into three sections: peace with God, peace within, and peace with others. Each day focuses on a selected Bible passage so the reader can discover and apply new insights. Further Scripture references and journal lines are provided to enhance and deepen the participant's journey of peace.
What if a secret to having a life-long marriage was to simply start out with healthy habits between husband and wife from the the very beginning? Or, what wisdom can a wife in her tenth or twentieth year of marriage gain as a refresher in her relationship with her husband? Chris Baxter's Twenty-five Years, Twenty-five Lessons: Letters to a Bride from a Seasoned Wife is a beautiful gift book written for wives of all ages. Within the106 pages of this decorative coffee table book are twenty-five valuable lessons that Chris learned throughout her marriage. Some of the subjects discussed are: putting on love, resolving conflict, laughing often, having a healthy hobby, and prayer. These Scripture-based lessons are written in letter-form to a specific young bride which easily engages the reader on a personal level. The twenty-five lessons are accompanied with lovely watercolor wreaths, luring the reader's eyes from one page to the next. This book is both beautiful in form, and magnificent in Words.