An Ash Wednesday Prayer


Ash Wednesday

Dear Heavenly Father,

Today we begin a season of self-examination and inner reflection. Open our hearts to see the truth of our words and our actions so that we see our lives through your eyes. We open our souls to your presence and ask you to change what needs to be changed. Lord, grant us the grace to emerge from the season of Lent with a more profound understanding of Your mercy and grace. Let your love wash over us, and seep deep into the broken places, healing and restoring our souls. Prepare our hearts for the joyous celebration of Easter.

Amen

Developing Patience


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 Psalm 37:7-9

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.

“Patience may be the trait we are most lacking.” Pastor David Alexander, First United Methodist Church, Mansfield, Texas

The other day I was listening to a previously recorded sermon as part of my quiet time. The above quote convicted me to the point I knew it was time to do something about my lack of patience because I don’t always display this beautiful trait. In fact, I think I usually fail in the patience category. Frequently, I’ve been short with my husband and kids. I’ve been impatient in traffic and people standing before me in line. I’ve been impatient waiting at the doctor’s office. The list goes on, and on…

Although we live in an instant gratification culture it doesn’t mean we have to live like everyone else. I decided it was time to develop this very necessary skill. What is patience and how can I develop it? Dictionary.com tells us patience is “an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay and the ability to bear provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain without complaint, loss of temper, irritation or the like.” The word willingness is key. It means I have control. I also noticed where the word patience is in the Love Chapter. Notice 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Patience is an act of love.

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Now the question becomes, “How can I develop patience?” There are probably dozens of suggestions, but these are the ones I came up with:

  • Recognize that there are some things you simply cannot control.
  • Recognize the things that make you act on impulse, and either avoid them or think about the reasons for your reactions
  • Look at the other person’s point of view
  • Slow down and practice delaying gratification.
  • Think before you speak. It may be as simple as counting to 10 before your respond.
  • Ask yourself, why are you in such a hurry? Will hurrying change anything?
  • Identify triggers that make you feel impatient and plan to avoid them.
  • Remind yourself that things do take time.
  • Remember that for every minute you are angry, you lose a minute of joy and peace.
  • Create space or margin in your life knowing that you will need the extra time to deal with the inevitable.

How about you?  Do you have any suggestions for developing patience? I would love to hear from you.

 Blessings on your day.

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Scripture: www.openbible.info

Image: Google Images

Shalom


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John 14:27

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

The Hebrew word shalom is often used as a greeting, and the word means peace. That’s a nice sentiment. But, there is always something that causes us to fret, to lose our peace. This week it’s been the stock market, but it can be weather, illness, broken relationships, and job loss – to name just a few. How can we embrace the peace Jesus gave us in John 14:27? Perhaps one reason is that we don’t fully understand the peace of God.

For my quiet time this year I’m using the One Year Devotions for Women, by Ann Spangler. The theme of the devotional is God’s Peace. Below is a quote from the January 7th entry:

“But what exactly is peace? When most of us think of peace, we think of an absence of conflict or the sense of tranquility we sometimes feel after a walk in the park or a day the beach. But the Hebrew word shalom is far brawnier than the English word for peace, encompassing these ideas and more.  Shalom contains the idea of completeness. It is the sum of all the blessings God can bestow – healing, prosperity, soundness, well-being, good relationships, perfection. It is what happens when God shines his face on you, when he turns toward you in all his greatness and brings you good.”[i] (Emphasis mine).

To be sure of the accuracy of the author’s claim I verified her definition with the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. The word shalom is so much more than a greeting. The word shalom is a powerful blessing!

We all struggle to remember to embrace the peace Jesus gave us. Try to remember the full meaning of the gift of shalom, so you truly feel the peace of Christ.

Numbers 6:23-26

“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,

‘The Lord bless you and keep you;the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.'”

  Shalom.

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Scripture: http://www.biblegateway.com

Image: google images

[i] Devotions for Women, Ann Spangler, Tyndale, 2012, Day 7.

Thankfulness – Day 23


 

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Almighty God,

You created all things. In your wisdom you created the animals. Many animals have become our pets. Thank you for the gift of these faithful companions. You gave us these animals to bring joy to our lives. We praise you for your wisdom and generousity.

Genesis 1:28

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

 Luke 12:6

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.

Psalm 36:6

Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lord.

 

Scripture: www.biblegateway.com

Image: Google Images

Thankfulness – Day 15


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Holy Lord God,

Today we thank You for a time to gather together to worship. You alone are worthy of our devotion. We give You praise, honor, and glory because we love You and acknowledge You and Your wonderful works and blessings. Fill us with Your presence as we lift our voices in praise to You today.

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Psalm 29:2

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.

Psalm 132:7

“Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool!”

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Scripture: www.openbible.info

Images: Google Images

Oblivious to the Blessings


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I was living an almost charmed life.

My adopted home town was a very safe and livable community where everything I wanted or needed was nearby. The schools my children attended were great. I had wonderful, close friends, and a good job. I was a member of a significant church that reached out to everyone and had programs for all types of people. I lived in that community for 20 years. I expected life to always be that way. I thought I had a grateful heart, but looking back, I was oblivious to how fortunate my circumstances were.

This past summer we moved to another state. My expectations were that we would live in a similar community and attend a church similar to the one we just left. I thought I would find a job quickly and make new friends easily. I expected life to be the same, I would just have a different address. The truth is, it’s been an adjustment.

Thinks are different here, not wrong, just different. It is more than the names of streets and where to shop, the local culture is different too. It’s a way of life that in some ways doesn’t value what I took for granted. This difference has made me appreciate all I had even more. I was truly blessed living in in that small community in Texas. At the time, I didn’t see, and certainly didn’t appreciate, how God was showering me with His Love all the time I lived in that other city. He was feeding me, nourishing my soul. He blessed me in so many ways, but most of all, He blessed me with Himself.

Now that I am not experiencing the same circumstances I feel like my spiritual life is parched. I’ve been thanking God for what I had, and have asked Him to relieve the drought I am experiencing now. But that request is wrong. There’s a passage in the Old Testament explaining that when there is drought do not lose confidence because God has blessed you with deep roots.

Jeremiah 17:7-8

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”

This passage reminds us that God will keep us filled, despite difficult situations. But the passage goes on to instruct us to bear fruit in every season, even during a dry spell. I can’t (and shouldn’t try to) recreate the same situation I was in. Instead, I should use my experiences to be a blessing to others. I didn’t realize it at the time but our great God was preparing me to go out into the world to do just that. Luke 6:45 tells us, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”  God filled my heart. Now it’s time to share what I was given.

Someday I will experience abundance again, but this time, I pray to not be oblivious to the blessings God sends my way. James 1:17 reminds us, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” It doesn’t matter what the situation is, God is all I need.

May the Lord richly bless your day as you share your blessings.

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Scripture: www.biblegateway.com

Images: google images.

A Life Verse


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 Deuteronomy 11:18 (CEV)

Memorize these laws and think about them. Write down copies and tie them to your wrists and your foreheads to help you obey them.

I have heard Pastors and other Christian leaders talk about finding a “life verse.” A life verse is more than a favorite verse; it is the verse that speaks directly to you in a remarkably personal way. With more than 31,000 verses in the Bible the task seemed overwhelming to me, so I put it off. I wondered how one verse could speak to my life now, and ten years from now.

Still, it’s a concept I wanted to explore further. Over time, I read articles and blog posts from various Christian authors. There was no shortage of advice, but still, I couldn’t pick one verse. As I reflected on what verse to select I thought I should pick a verse that I could quote while sharing the gospel, and to give myself encouragement. I googled “Top Memory Verses” and read over 100 suggested verses. Several would have worked as a life verse, but I was not drawn to any one particular verse. There were also personal struggles going on in my life, which made the decision more difficult.

It wasn’t until I set out to read the entire Bible that I found my life verse, tucked away in the book of a minor prophet – Zephaniah. Part of Zephaniah, chapter 3, discusses the blessing of restoration for God’s people. It also points to Christ’s millennial kingdom. As a young adult I ignored the Lord. Although I regret my foolishness, this verse reminds me of God’s great love and forgiveness, and His ability to make great change in anyone’s life, even after disobedience. It also points to a future of hope.

Zephaniah 3:17 (GNT)

The Lord your God is with you; his power gives you victory. The Lord will take delight in you, and in his love he will give you new life. He will sing and be joyful over you.”

What’s your life verse? If you don’t have one I encourage you to find a verse that speaks to you so personally, you find it a special treasure.

Blessings on your day.

 

Image: Google Images