One Who Calms

Yesterday I was discouraged. I won't go into detail, but I cried (literally) to the Lord about some things with my writing; bottom line, technology has never been my friend. And then today... I received two random but timely texts about the same prayer found in my devotional book,The Heartbeat of God. (By the way, it's on Amazon, if you're looking for a devotional prayer book). Since this scripture-based prayer spoke to these two people, in two different states, decades apart in ages, I thought it might also encourage you:

O God, You are the One who Calms. I confess to You right now that my thoughts and emotions are in a whirlwind. I cannot rest. I want to manage and control each and every situation and make it "right." I know this is impossible in and of my own strength, but it doesn't keep me from worrying and trying! So I come to You, and I pour out my complaint before You and tell You all my trouble; for You are my safe place. Thank You for Your patience as You listen; thank You for Your lovingkindness as You work. As I pour out my issues, O God, I pray that I will be attentive enough to the peace-filled words that You long to pour in. Allow me to learn from the disciples of long ago: Jesus came and stood in their midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you." And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples therefore rejoiced when they saw the Lord, Jesus therefore said to them again, "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you." And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them "Receive the Holy Spirit." Dear Jesus, sweet Savior of mine, hallelujah! You are in my midst! Please breathe Your peace into me once again so that my troubled heart will be quieted. And then Lord, help me to focus on You, the One who Calms, instead of my present circumstances that only stir up unproductive strife within my soul. For You promise in Your word: You keep in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts You. Therefore, I will trust You with all my heart and not lean on my own understanding, and I will also choose to meditate on who You are: You are all-knowing, You are able, You are strong, You are good, You are sovereign, You are at work. Ah, in remembering who You are, I can rest. Yes, I can now hear You gently whisper these words of promise into my quieted soul, Cease striving, and know that I am God. Indeed, You are the One who Calms.

Psalm 142:2; John 20:19-22; Isaiah 26:3; Proverbs 3:5; Psalm 46:10

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Wednesday, August 5, 2020
By Chris Baxter

The Habit of Casting

Are you carrying an unwanted burden at the moment? Maybe you have an armful, or I should say, a heart full of worries that are weighing you down.

Because I tend to hold onto anxious thoughts, a bible verse that I revisit over and over again is this one:

...casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.   (I Peter 5:7)

And this one:

Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you... (Psalm 55:22)

The word "cast" means to throw forcefully in a specified direction. In these two verses, we are given the simple instruction to throw all of our anxieties and burdens off of ourselves, into the direction of the Lord, who will then take them upon Himself for our benefit. I wish this straightforward instruction was as simple to obey. Why do I hold onto things I cannot control? Why do I think I am stronger or wiser or more able than the God who made me, knows me, and loves me?

Casting is a choice, and it takes practice. And just like everything else in life, the more you do something the better you get at it.

Let's you and I choose to develop and strengthen the healthy habit of casting. Let's name each worry that we naturally accumulate, and then hurl it in the direction of the One who can not only catch it (He never misses), but also can do something about it (He's always productive). Decide today to hurl with hope. Throw your worries faithfully and fervently into the direction of your Savior. In His hands, each troublesome pebble has the opportunity to become a precious stone.

Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation. (Psalm 68:19)

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Monday, July 20, 2020
By Chris Baxter

Dialoguing with God

I came across a great passage on prayer through my current devotional book called Forty Days of Prayer by Kit Cummings. Here are the verses and some of my thoughts:

The word of the Lord came to me, saying,

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."

"Alas, Sovereign Lord," I said, "I do not know how to speak; I am too young."

But the Lord said to me, "Do not say, 'I am too young,' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you.," declares the Lord.

The the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, "I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant." Jeremiah 1:4-10In the above passage, God and Jeremiah are dialoging with each other. Before I write about anything else in this post, let us remember that prayer is not merely a one way conversation in which we are the only ones talking; rather, He too has something to say to us. He speaks to us every day through His word and His spirit. So, let's use the words above as His dialogue not only to Jeremiah, but also to our very own hearts today. What is the Lord saying through His living and active words? Here are a few things I "hear" that are for you and for me. God says:

  1. I knew you before you were born.
  2. I have set you apart and appointed you for My purposes.
  3. Do not say, "I am too ______".
  4. Obey every word I give you, no matter the opposition.
  5. Do not be afraid. I am with you!
  6. I will touch you. I will put my words in your mouth to fulfill what I've asked you to do.

We are today's Jeremiah. (We are also today's David, today's Samuel, today's Moses, today's Ruth, today's Esther...for such a time as this!) Allow God's interaction with these people of old to be the inspiration for His appointed purposes in you TODAY. What He said to them in the past, is now for our hearts in the present. Let's continue to bring all our prayers to Him, big and small, but also, let's hang around long enough to hear His words back to us. What is He asking you to do today for His name sake? Write a note to a friend? Make a meal for a neighbor? Visit a widow?

Reread the list above and walk forward in obedience with great faith. And let me remind you, God is just as pleased with a note of encouragement to one person as He is with someone speaking to the masses. Both are important callings, but He never "keeps count" of what's "more worthy" the way we humans tend to do. He sees the heart and smiles at our devotion to Him. (Think of the widow's mite found in Luke 21:1-4).

Let's all be today's Jeremiah. Dialogue with God, receive His incredible promises, and then do something for Him...today.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2020
By Chris Baxter

How to be on the Same Page

I have a friend who expressed how she wished that her family could somehow all be "on the same page" with each other. Oh how I want that for my family as well! I'm sure you may feel this longing about your loved ones, or your co-workers, or even the people you serve with in ministry.

One way to bring about strong unity is through consistent prayer for one another. I have written short Scripture-based prayers for this very purpose. Here are 2 of 365 examples:

Counselor. I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you (Psalm 32:8). Dear Lord, You know the best path for each of us. Keep our eyes fixed on You. Give us willing hearts to trust and obey Your guidance as we step forward in faith each new day.

Peace. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give you; do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid (John 14:27). Dear Lord, Your peace is truly the only real rest for our souls. Everything else is a temporary anesthetic. By your Spirit, breathe into us a divine calmness, not to sedate us to inactivity, but to inspire us to share Your incomprehensible peace with the world.

If you would like to receive these prayers in your email, then please subscribe to "Daily Prayers" on my website: http://www.RespitefortheWeary.com. Ask your family members, co-workers, or ministry partners to subscribe as well so that you and "your people" can claim the same name of God and bible verse over each other on a daily basis.

God's name and Word are powerful. Claim it together and receive His blessing.

There's no better place to be than on His Same Page.

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Monday, January 27, 2020
By Chris Baxter

Ten Ways Prayer "Accomplishes Much"

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. James 5:16

The verse above is a familiar one to many of us when referring to prayer. It encourages us to pray often and effectively, and because we are declared righteous in Christ, we can lift up our requests with boldness. The passage that follows James 5:16 speaks of Elijah, who prayed for the rain to stop (and it did) and then three and a half years later, he prayed for the rain to start (and it did). Now that’s effective praying! Also, the above verse was penned through James, the half-brother of Jesus. It is said that one of his nicknames was “Camel knees” because he developed callouses on his knees from hours he devoted to daily prayer. These two men of God, Elijah and James, would want us to know the Lord the way they knew Him, both personally and powerfully through prayer.

After thinking about the above verse, I made a broad list of how prayer has accomplished much in my own life. These are things I have learned over the years in my growing walk with the Lord:

  1. Prayer replaces my worry with His peace.
  2. Prayer helps me focus positively on others rather than negatively on myself.
  3. Prayer keeps me from trying to manipulate or control situations.
  4. Prayer keeps me from overly talking to people, about people.
  5. Prayer provides me a free ongoing session with my Wise Counselor.
  6. Prayer opens my eyes to the movement of God.
  7. Prayer touches hearts in ways my words cannot.
  8. Prayer increases my faith and causes me to worship.
  9. Prayer makes me thankful rather than ungrateful.
  10. Prayer makes my relationship with God personal and intimate.

What about you? How has effectual prayer accomplished much in your life? Make a list and thank Him for the privilege of having access to Him at all times concerning all things. Lift your requests and receive all the benefits.

Pray much and accomplish much...every day.

Dear Lord,

Prayer is an unending gift! Thank You! May we talk to You morning, noon, and night. Accomplish much in us and through us as we humbly lift our praise and petitions to You. Amen.

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Friday, August 16, 2019
By Chris Baxter

Marathon Moments

My sister Peggy Lively and I just completed our 16th marathon in our 16th state. We have high hopes of completing one in all 50 states. We are often asked, "Why in the world are y'all doing this crazy thing?". Honestly, we just fell into it. Maybe I shouldn't use the word "fall" when talking about marathons. But truly, we've sorta gone into this adventure blindly (hmmm, another poor word for safely accomplishing 26.2 miles). Before my first marathon, I had never run in ANY race. Well, I do remember the three-legged race on field day in elementary school, and that wasn't very pretty, at all. Peggy and I can't explain it; something came over the both of us at the same time and within only minutes, we both decided to "just do it". And so, the 50 marathons in 50 states began.

With this being number "sweet sixteen", I took a moment to think about the marathons to date, and these are the things we have gained in this journey:

Togetherness. Our marathon weekends, believe it or not, are therapeutic for the both of us. We cover a lot of ground even sitting in our hotel room as we listen to each other's triumphs and trials of life. We laugh a lot, and we cry too. Also, throughout the weekend and the race, we pray for the particular state we are in. We pray for ministries, schools, communities, government, marriages, and families. The 26.2 miles cover not only the roads within the cities we walk, but our words reach heaven's throne with fervent faith. These extra long treks have helped me understand the meaning of "persevering in prayer" (from Eph. 6:18), and it helps me stay the course when I get back home.

Outreach. "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds" (Hebrews 10:24). Both Peggy and I have come to realize that the marathon weekends are about much more than the 5 1/2 hour-ish trek on marathon day. It's about the people we meet (airplane passengers, hotel managers, marathon participants) and the friends and family we visit (old neighbors, nieces and nephews, ministry partners). I will not be able to express in a small paragraph the giant things God has done in and through our travels. Our hopeful goal each time we go to these cities is to spread the love of Christ and encourage others in their own personal journey. Just like a marathon, life is not a feel-good-all-the-time-experience, and if Peggy and I can help encourage someone even a little bit, we call it a successful weekend. In our different travels, we've met complete strangers and they are now dear friends. We've reconnected with people from years past. As a result, the blessings of these relationships have been immense. I'm excited for what's in store.

Adventure. I must add here that our dear mother sends Peggy and me off with some spending money each and every trip. Bless her for making these trips doable. She supports "our mission", which is real simple: live full, love well, and pray much.  With that being said, who knew we would go to a World Series game in St.Louis, or see the Grand Canyon in AZ, or peer out into the Atlantic ocean in Maine, or go to the Dairy Queen in North Dakota? That's pretty awesome for this introvert who loves her comfy chair in the confines of her own four walls! I'm thankful for each of these trips and eager for more. God knew I needed to GET UP and GO FORWARD...to His people and to His world. I'm thankful for the privilege.

I finish these memorable moments with an encouraging word for your very own marathon of life. Hear the Forerunner say:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

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Wednesday, October 31, 2018
By Chris Baxter

Daily Prayer

Disarming powers and authorities

And having disarmed powers and authorities, he (Christ) made a public spectacle of them triumphing over them by the cross. Colossians 2:15

Dear Lord Jesus,

There is no greater power than your own. All other authority and every stronghold has been overcome by your personal sacrifice on the cross. You took these to the grave and came out victorious. In the messiness of this life, as we live between the "now and not yet", help us to hold fast to this truth. Amen.