Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Matthew 26:38, 40-41, 43-45

Matthew 26:38, 40-41, 43-45
Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me."

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. 
"Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked Peter. "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."

When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them. Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, 
"Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near."

Precious Jesus,
I BELIEVE You've invited me to join You in agonizing prayer, and I have failed you miserably. Surrounded by the sorrow of sin, overwhelmed by the misery of suffering, and swallowed up in the sheer terror of impending death, You've asked me to keep vigil, but like Peter, I'm drowsy and prone to dozing off. Forgive me, O Lord!

You know the brutal battle that lies ahead for all Christians. Clearly, You warn me to pay attention and pray. Deep agonizing grief from the consequences of poor choices will besiege me. The intense suffering from sickness will be unbearable. The cruel killing of souls and maiming of minds will torment me to the point of overwhelming despair. With all my heart, I want to obey, but the nighttime of the soul seems eternally long and I'm worn out and restless.

I beg You to teach me to pray powerful prayers that will crush the adversary. The hour is near when You'll come back, and I don't want You to find me sleeping again. I want You to be pleasantly surprised when You find me in the garden wrestling over the burdens of Your heart for the glory of Your name. Amen.

O. Chambers writes in My Utmost for His Highest, October 16: "The key to the missionary's difficult task is in the hand of God, and that key is prayer, not work ... the key is in following the Master's orders - the key is prayer.

Jesus has invited us to watch and pray with Him. His intense agonizing prayer in the garden gave Him the strength to face the journey to the cross. If you don't pay attention and wrestle with Him in prayer, you'll snap when the stress and strain do come - and it will come. Ask Jesus to teach you to pray powerful prayers that will crush the enemy.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Matthew 21: 12-14

Matthew 21: 12-14
Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. "It is written," he said to them, "'My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it 'a den of robbers.'"

The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them.  

Jesus, You are my Refiner, Reformer, and Redeemer.
 I BELIEVE You turned my whole world upside down for my good and Your glory, the day I swung open the door of my heart, allowed You in, and crowned You King of my life.

Stomping into enemy territory, You killed my bad temper, conquered my mean mouth, and cast out my pride. You drove out the buyers and sellers that corrupt my soul: covetousness, criticism, and complacency. You emptied out many nasty and naughty things: nagging and narcissism, negativism and niggardliness, haughtiness and hypocrisy. You toppled the tables of temptation and brought down the benches of bitterness. You cleared away the idols, impurities and irreverence I had carried into Your holy house for my personal pleasure.

Lovingly, You opened my blind eyes to see the corruption and deception caused by my religiosity and pomposity. With eyes wide open, I saw how much You loved me when I realized how You died for me. Humbly, I exchanged the limping of my unbelief for firm faith. Now I am drawn to love You, trust You, and serve You. Refined, reformed, and redeemed, turn my heart into a holy house of prayer fit for the Most High King. Amen.

Prepare your heart for Easter by allowing Jesus to topple the tables of temptation and benches of bitterness in the temple of your heart. Ask Him to reveal the buyers and sellers that are corrupting your soul. Allow Him to remove the idols, impurities and irreverence that rob Him of His rightful place of highest honor in your life. Ask Him to purify your heart and make it a holy house of prayer.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Mark 11:9-11

Mark 11:9-11
Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,
 "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
 "Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!"
 "Hosanna in the highest heaven!"
 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. 

You, O Lord, are my Savior, my Conqueror, and my glorious King.
I BELIEVE You rode triumphantly into the temple of my heart and captured me with affection. You didn't come galloping in on a high-powered war horse, but trotting on a poor little pony. You didn't come wielding a sword to subdue me, or with an army of men to coerce me. You came with gentleness, and seized me peacefully. Because of Your tender love and mercies I will not die a pitiful prisoner of war, but will live eternally in Your everlasting kingdom.

Recognizing You as the Prince of Peace on a pony, I exultingly salute You, and cheerfully welcome You into my heart and home. My heart throbs with holy joy because One so great as You has come to dwell in one so weak as me. Because You are my strength, my song, and my salvation, today and every day, I jubilantly join the celebratory parade of past prophets and present saints proclaiming, "Hosanna! You are the God who saved me! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven! Glory to Your name!" Amen.

Prepare for Palm Sunday by reflecting on the day Jesus rode into your heart. How did His arrival impact you? Celebrate the day He captivated You by proclaiming loud hosannas, "My God saves!" 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Psalm 61:1-4

Psalm 61:1-4
Hear my cry, O God;
       listen to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth I call to you,
       I call as my heart grows faint;
       lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
       a strong tower against the foe.
I long to dwell in your tent forever
       and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.

Mighty God,
You are My Rock
My Strong Tower
My Most High Dwelling Place
My Refuge
My Shelter

I praise You for majestic mountains. In the breathtaking beauty of nature, I see pillars of glory and feel the extraordinary glow of Your existence. You are a perfect, powerful, and prominent pinnacle of unimpeded protection. I want to climb the spectacular summit and hide in Your sanctuary forever where:
                Calamities cannot crush me
                        Death cannot devour me
                                    Sadness cannot smother me
                                                Pain cannot press me
                                                            Anxiety cannot attack me

Thank You for making the holy, high, unmovable, unshakable Rock accessible to me through Jesus Christ. My heart is weak. I am depending on You to be my strength and my shield. With Your help, Almighty God, I will climb Your pristine peak and find powerful protection. Peacefully, I'll rest in the safety of Your presence because You alone are my Rock and my Salvation. Amen.

A mighty fortress is our God! If your heart is faint call out to Him. Follow His Voice to the high and holy Rock of Jesus Christ. Rest in the safety of His presence where He promises to hide and protect you. This is the only safe place to be during the storms of life.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

2 Chronicles 20: 15, 17, 21-22

Recently, my heart has been troubled and my spirit disturbed by all the bad things happening in the world: multitudes being sucked in and deceived by the feel-good teaching in the seeker-sensitive, culturally-relevant Church; wars and rumors of wars, nations pitted against nation as proud leaders jockey for more power; horrifying famines and deadly diseases afflicting millions of innocent people; shocking earthquakes and devastating storms; unemployment and financial disaster wrecking lives and livelihoods; increased immorality, violence, and hatred. You don't have to look far to be appalled by the headline news.

In my despair, I poured out my soul like the Psalmist. "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?" (Psalm 42:5) I then opened my Bible to 2 Chronicles 20 and God gave me these words: 

2 Chronicles 20: 15, 17, 21-22
This is what the LORD says to you:

"Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's."

"You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you."

Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:
       "Give thanks to the LORD,
       for his love endures forever."

As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the enemy.

This prompted me to take up my position, stand firm and wait for the deliverance of the Lord. Immediately, I began to sing and praise the Lord like the Israelites. As I did the Lord, indeed, set the ambush against the enemy. The power of praise set my heart, mind and soul free, and armed me with strength.  

I will praise You, Lord, with all my heart;
      I will tell of all the marvelous things You have done.
I will be filled with joy because of You.
      I will sing praises to Your name, O Most High.

You are a shelter for the oppressed,
      a refuge in times of trouble.
Those who know Your name trust in You,
      for You, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for You.

Lord, have mercy on me.
      See how my enemies torment me.
      Snatch me back from the jaws of death.
 Save me so I can praise You publicly,
      so I can rejoice that You have rescued me.
(Psalm 9)

 I love You, Lord;
      You are my strength.
You are my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
      In You I find protection.
   You are my shield, the power that saves me,
      and my place of safety.
 I called on You, Lord, who is worthy of praise,
      and You saved me from my enemies.

 You reached down from heaven and rescued me,
      from those who hated me and were too strong for me.
 They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress,
      but You supported me.

 You led me to a place of safety;
      You rescued me because You delight in me.
 You, Lord, rewarded me for doing right;
      and restored me because of my innocence.

 You light a lamp for me.
      You, my God, light up my darkness.
In Your strength I can crush an army;
      with my God I can scale any wall.
 Your ways are perfect.
      Everything You promise proves true.
      You are a shield for all who look to You for protection.

You arm me with strength,
      and make my way perfect.
 You make me as surefooted as a deer,
      enabling me to stand on mountain heights.
 You train my hands for battle;
      and strengthen my arm to draw a bronze bow.
 You have given me Your shield of victory.
      Your right hand supports me;
      Your help has made me great.

You gave me victory over my accusers.
The Lord lives! Praise to my Rock!
      May the God of my salvation be exalted!
(Psalm 18)

Scour the Psalms and write down all the ways God is strong, mighty, and powerful. If you dwell in the shelter of the Most High, then His strength, might and power are in you. Rest on His promises. This battle is His, not yours.

Whatever is troubling your spirit today, remember what the Lord says to you in His Word. Take up your position, stand firm, do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out and face tomorrow, the Lord will be with you. His Word says so. Do you believe Him?

Open your mouth and begin to loudly sing and praise Him. The enemy that's attacking your heart, mind, soul, and strength will be destroyed by the dynamite of praise! 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Psalm 91:9-16

Psalm 91:9-16
  If you make the Most High your dwelling-
       even the LORD, who is my refuge-
  then no harm will befall you,
       no disaster will come near your tent.
 For he will command his angels concerning you
       to guard you in all your ways;
 they will lift you up in their hands.

 "Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him;
       I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
 He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
       I will be with him in trouble,
       I will deliver him and honor him.
 With long life will I satisfy him
       and show him my salvation."

Lord, Most High,
Thank You for making my heart Your home. You are my safe haven. I come in, shut the door, and rest in the shadow of Your almighty presence. From the heights of heaven, You order a battalion of angels to watch over me wherever I go. If I climb the highest, most majestic mountain, You are there. If I sink deep within the sea of sadness, You are there. In the darkness of distress and discouragement, You are there. In the light of love and laughter, even then, You are there. Thank You for the angels that surround the shelter of my heart, Your home. 
Because I love You, I trust You to: 
Rescue me from sin and suffering 
Make me strong and mighty 
Answer me when I call You 
Be with me in times of trouble 
Deliver me from evil and temptation 
Honor me with the prosperity of Your presence 
Satisfy me with a full life 
Give me everlasting life and happiness

I know that problems will pursue me and danger will distract me, but with You living in my heart, I'll not just survive, I'll thrive. With the angels watching over me, I'll bravely trample trouble beneath my feet and loudly proclaim "You, O God, are my fortress, my loving God. You are my strength and my refuge."

Please dear Lord, make my heart Your home today and send those beautiful, powerful angels to protect me as I come and go in the name of Jesus. Amen. 

Imagine! If you are a child of God and have invited Him to live in your heart, He has sent His beautiful, powerful angels to protect you! Claim and believe His precious promises. Live in the fullness of His blessing. No matter your circumstances, He's there, watching over You, protecting you within the walls of His Mighty Fortress. Praise Him!

I'm reminded of the childhood lullaby, Angels Watching Over Me:
All night, all day, angels watching over me, my Lord.
All night, all day, angels watching over me.
Sun is a-setting in the West; angels watching over me, my Lord.
Sleep my child, take your rest; angels watching over me.
All night, all day, angels watching over me, my Lord.
All night, all day, angels watching over me. 
 Copyright and Author unknown

Monday, March 23, 2015

Psalm 62:5-6

Psalm 62:5-6
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
       my hope comes from him.

 He alone is my rock and my salvation;
       he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

O my Strength! You, my God, are my Fortress, my Mighty Rock, My Refuge. Peacefully resting in the presence of Your upright, unmovable shelter, I will not be afraid or discouraged.  Your divine providence will save me and Your powerful grace will support me.  You'll readily supply all my needs, and strengthen me for the impending battle. Surrounded by the thick walls of Your mighty bulwark, people can't harm me and problems can't destroy me. 

You alone are my Rock and my Refuge. People are as unpredictable as the wind. When I put my hope in their power and promises, I'm bound to be disappointed, discouraged and discontent. People, no matter how influential, don't have an ounce of strength to shield me from deadly peril.

You, on the other hand, are steady, solid, and secure. You never change Your mind or change the rules. With my heart cheerfully set on Your promises, I can expect to receive unlimited power, unparalleled peace, and unrivaled protection. Daily pondering Your Word and communicating with You through prayer, my faith will increase to an unwavering steadfastness. My sheer joy in Your strength will swell into a holy triumph and I will sing of Your love for You alone are my hope, my Fortress, my loving God. Amen.

If you are pressed beneath problems, crushed under crisis, or pursued by people, run into the safety of Almighty God's unfailing bulwark. A bulwark is a wall-like structure built to keep out attackers.

He's expecting You. Open Your Bible and read His Word. Begin with this Psalm. Pray with expectancy. Resting on God's holy, unchanging words, you'll find unlimited power, unparalleled peace, and unrivaled protection.

A Mighty Fortress is Our God! A Bulwark never failing!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Blessings Along the Beltway

Last week, I had three days full of blessings along the Baltimore Washington Beltway. The diverse people God puts in my path always amazes me. As a memorial of what God has done for me here are a few of my divine encounters.

On Monday I spent significant time discussing the Bible with someone who's view of Jesus differs from mine. We discussed works, religion vs. relationship, and the meaning of LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, MIND SOUL, AND STRENGTH … and love your neighbor as yourself. My focus is on loving God, then others. His focus is on love your neighbor, ignoring love the Lord. Interestingly, one of the principles we teach in Crucial Accountability is Closing the Performance Gap. I was able to tie that into God’s plan for salvation. This is Crucial Accountability: One day we will stand before God and give an account for what we've done. There is a large chasm separating man and God. Jesus Christ's death on the cross made a way for man to cross the chasm into God's presence. Jesus closed the performance gap for those who accept Him as Lord. 

Tuesday in DC, I met two young ladies who are interpreters at the Smithsonian Institute Museum of Native American History. I was able to invite them to have lunch with one of the NYT Bestselling authors of Crucial Conversations. What are the chances they'd attend an event in DC and sit with a friend of the author who would spontaneously invite them to lunch? Just like coming to the Lord’s Lunch, it’s all in WHO you know! Didn't he also find people in the streets and invite them to lunch? Those who accept Him as Lord will be invited to Wedding Feast of the Lamb. 

A nurse and Commander with the US Public Health Service, a little known branch of the US Military, also joined us for lunch. She had just returned from a 60-day stint in Liberia where she served Ebola patients.  Hearing her heart of compassion for the sick, dying and desperate was like listening in on a conversation with Jesus.

Tuesday had great highs, and deep lows. While I was with the gals from the Native American Museum, my dear Native American friend, Tom, lost his battle with cancer.  I was one of the last people to speak with him, and am left scratching my head, wondering where he will spend eternity. 

On Wednesday, at a conference in Baltimore City I was introduced to a 3 Star General. He was not only poised, polished and powerful, but also polite and personable. His prominence commanded respect, giving me a glimpse of Jesus who is astonishingly more poised, polished, and powerful, yet ever so personable, and worthy of my highest respect.

I also met a dear brother in Christ from a church 60 miles from my home who knew my former Pastor. And, I sat at a table full of strangers for lunch and discovered that the young lady sitting next to me lives just five miles from my house. What are the chances of those two encounters along the busy Baltimore Washington Beltway?

Later at an event in Bethesda I met lots of new friends. People want to know how I landed this gig as a Senior Consultant representing bestselling training. This gives me the opportunity to inspire them with my courageous story about leaving a prosperous career to pursue a job I'd love. Two women reached out to me afterwards, asking to stay in touch because my story really encouraged them to follow their dreams.

God blessed me with a chauffeur who happens to be a like-minded co-worker to take me in and out of DC and Bethesda, beautiful four and five star hotels to lay down my head, delicious food at fine restaurants, and an abundance of wonderful new friends. I'm grateful for His provision and protection, and all the interesting people He put in my path. All glory, honor and praise to Him.

Is it any wonder that I love what I do? I obeyed God, walked away from an unfulfilling job, sought Him and He provided this incredible opportunity that fits my personality and lifestyle like a hand in a glove.

But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not grow weary; they shall walk and not faint. - Isaiah 40"31

Friday, March 20, 2015

Luke 18:9-14

Luke 18:9-14
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men - robbers, evildoers, adulterers - or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'

"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'

"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

My Father in Heaven,
Holy is Your name. There is no God like You in heaven or earth. I am unworthy to come into Your awesome presence. I come humbly, to the Most Holy Place as a despised and despicable person in need of divine mercy. Unable to face You, I bow down, crying out, "Have mercy on me, a sinner!" I lift my hands to You, Lord, to show my desperate need for grace!

Lord, forgive me for all the times I am full of myself like the Pharisee. I trust in my own abilities. I look down on others with contempt and disrespect. It makes me sick to think of how haughty and proud I can be of my accomplishments and myself. My heart is deceitful above all things. It is beyond cure!

Please give me a gentle and quiet spirit. Make my heart humble and teachable. With an attitude of gratitude, I will :  
  • Ensure that my actions bring glory to You and not me
  • Honor others above myself
  • Refuse to be judgmental
  • Forgive as You have forgiven me
  • Risk failure to conquer unfamiliar territory for You
  • Take You more seriously, and myself less seriously
  • Confess my weaknesses to a friend, and seek help, advice and prayer
Please dear Lord, teach me wisdom so that I can humbly honor You. Then, I will experience Your glory and say along with the psalmist, "Not to me, O Lord, not to me, but to Your name be the glory because of Your love and faithfulness." Justify me through Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Pride gets the best of everyone from time to time. Take off pride today and put on humility before you fall. Proverbs 16:18

In what ways are you like the Pharisees? Some times I think I am absolutely right about what the Bible says, and others are off track. Unopen to dialogue, I come across as arrogant like the religious leaders. However, God is teaching me to talk tentatively. No one is absolutely right about their theology. I am learning to say things like, "This is what I believe, and I reserve the right to be wrong ... how do you see it?" Asking for others' perspective doesn't mean that I agree with them. Instead it builds trust and opens the door for further discussion. It demonstrates humility. 

I haven't mastered the skill, but am moving in the right direction. Thanks be to God who is ever at work conforming my heart and mind to be more like Jesus'. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Matthew 15: 21-28

Matthew 15: 21-28
Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession."

Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us."

He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel."

The woman came and knelt before him. "Lord, help me!" she said.

He replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs."

"Yes, Lord," she said, "but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table."

Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

In Your presence You never fail to teach me! Today You taught me how to keep my family from destruction. It's not enough for me to be there for my children. They need more than my friendship. My listening ear and open line of communication will not save them. These things are important, but unless my family members are on-fire for You, and totally in love with You, they are drifting spiritually and in danger of suffering terrible demon possession. A lukewarm spirit can lure them into evil and temptation. You have shown me that Satan wants to rob my family of their genuine, fervent faith.

Like this woman, I must persistently seek You for my family. You may test the tenacity of my faith by not responding to me or rebuffing me with harsh words. Like the woman, I will not go away until You hear the cry of my heart and give me what I need for those I love! Please empower me to remain steadfast and determined in my pursuit the fullness of mercy and grace for them. I will not settle for crumbs! 

I am boldly approaching the throne of grace with confidence to present their desperate needs to You. I may not see them get right with You, but with Your almighty power I will erect roadblocks and obstacles to stop their race to hell. On my knees, I will pray down conviction on them and pray up protective hedges around them. Please send godly role models into their lives.

If not me, then who will pray for my precious family? I will not resign them to fate. Help me to sweat and labor in intercession for their souls. Whatever it takes Lord, I am going to do battle for them with the swift sword of Your Word and the power of prayer until one of us goes home to be with You. God, please save my sweet family by the power of Jesus' name! Amen.

Do you diligently seek Jesus for Your family - children, grandchildren, saved and unsaved relatives? If not you, then who will seek Jesus to heal and save them from destruction?

For years the simple prayer of my heart for my family has been that they would love the Lord their God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength, and love others as themselves. I thank God for hearing the cry of my heart, and not only saving my children, but also for filling their heart with mercy and grace, and the power to follow Him no matter the cost. 

Now that my two boys are young adults, walking with Jesus day by day, I continue to pray that they will love the Lord, and that the women they chose to marry will be so hidden in Christ, that they must seek Him first, in order to find her. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Luke 18: 1-8

Luke 18: 1-8
And the Lord said,"Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.

However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said:"In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.'

"For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!' " 

Honorable Judge~
Your great compassion and mercy are unending. I am dreadfully needy like the widow, but have not been as persistent with my prayer life. Rather than constantly complaining to You about my on-going problems and pressures, I easily give up and think that You don't care. Forgive me for my lack of faith! Thank You for reminding me that I should always pray and not quit! If an unjust person buckles under my continuous badgering how much more will an honorable and patient Judge like You pity me when I keep pestering?
Please dear Lord, increase my faith so that I'll persistently plead with You like the widow. I'm worn down by my physical and spiritual battles. I've been enduring a barrage of troubles and heartache. Tired of the stress and weary from the fight, I'm ready to give up! I long for an easier way! I'm tempted to slip away to a place far from people, away from my problems and struggles; to a place where things are quiet and peaceful. But, Lord, I don't want to miss the blessings You have for those who stick with You through the hard times. 

By faith, I'll hang around and incessantly cry out to You day and night. As I persevere, please develop my character, faith, and hope. In time, when You are sick and tired of hearing me You'll respond with the right answer to my situation. Please have mercy on me, Your chosen child. Hear my prayers and answer quickly! Give me faith to endure and believe that You won't put me off permanently. I know that You love me deeply because of Jesus. Amen.

Is there something you have given up praying for because you feel like God is not listening?  Do not give up! Be persistent like the widow. God may delay answering, but His delays always have good reason. As you persist, He will develop your character, faith and hope.

If a corrupt judge caves in to constant pressure, how much more will a great and loving God answer to us? If you know He loves you, you must believe He will hear your cry for help.

I think of how my son pleaded for a puppy for ten years. Night after night he prayed for a dog. Day after day he pestered his dad and me. Finally, after we said, "Never, ever will we have pets," we caved in and got him a dog. Our prayers should be like my son's pleading for a dog. After ten years of asking, we finally relented and got him not only one dog, but two! 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Romans 8:26-27

Romans 8:26-27
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.

Most High Priest,
Thank You for making my heart Your home. You know every nook and cranny of it. You understand the challenging circumstances, agonizing problems and incredible pressure I face. When I can't find the words to say, You translate my inarticulate sighs. Thank You for constantly interceding on my behalf from the temple of my heart.

I've made prayer more difficult and cumbersome than it needs to be. All I have to do is keep the temple clean and pay attention to You. With a pure heart, when I open my Bible, You'll tell me what's on Your mind, prompting me to pray for specific people and situations. As I spend time in Your presence, pondering Your thoughts, I'll gain divine wisdom and knowledge far above my feeble, finite thinking. Tuned in to You, I'll notice the vast needs around me and joyfully bring them to Your throne, trusting You to take care of them.

Thank You for revealing Your thoughts to me, O Lord. Please search my heart and turn it into a beautiful house of prayer for the glory of Your name. Amen.

Is prayer difficult and cumbersome for you? That's not the way God intended it to be. He's taken up residence in your heart and made it a house of prayer. Ask Him to show you how to pray His way. It will radically change your heart for prayer.

Monday, March 16, 2015

1 Corinthians 15:57

1 Corinthians 15:57
Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Triumphant Lord,
You're the Commander-in-Chief of the Army of Blessed Angels. I celebrate the sweet victory You've given me through Jesus Christ. As a result of His glorious conquest, I can stand firm on Your powerful promises expecting You to defeat the enemy again and again.

My mind is the battlefield where speculation, knowledge, and thoughts take place. It's constantly clashing with the opposition of a corrupt culture. A ferocious, frightening, and confusing hailstorm of doubt, disgrace and distress bombard me. Condemnation ruthlessly assaults me. Guilt viciously attacks me. Dying to my past is agonizing. The enemy is rapidly advancing and I need to take hold of the indispensable weapons You've given me to wage war with this world. Igniting the dynamite of Your Word with the matchsticks of prayer and praise, I'll successfully demolish the adversary.

You're my Commanding Officer. Respecting to Your authority is a matter of life and death. It's imperative that I obey Your orders, submitting my thoughts completely to Your control. With You in charge, I don't have be fainthearted or afraid. Terror and panic won't besiege me. I just need to comply with Your commands and rely on Your almighty armament.

Thank You for Your faithful promise to go with me, fight for me and give me the exultant victory through Jesus, Your Son. Hallelujah! The battle's won! Amen. 

Thank God for the spiritual victory! It's a command. You no longer have to live in fear of condemnation, guilt or death. Ignite His Word with prayer and praise, and the battle's already won.

 Deuteronomy 20:4
For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.

I John 5:3-5
This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Get the Wax Out of Your Ear and LISTEN!

When my kids were little and not listening to me I would shout, "Get the wax out of your ears and LISTEN!" Every year, about 12 million Americans head to their doctors with "impacted or excessive cerumen," a really gross-sounding way to say they've got serious earwax problems. But, did you know you can scrape that gross gunk out of your ear like the last of the peanut butter from the jar, and still not be able to hear effectively? Earwax, medically known as cerumen, is actually there for protection to keep the ear canal clean...so it's not earwax that keeps us from listening, it's "ear lacks"

Various studies show we spend 80% of our waking hours communicating. We spend 45 percent of that time listening. While listening is a large part of our daily routine, research also confirms that most individuals are inept listeners.

Why are we such poor listeners? It is not because we have wax as thick as peanut butter in our ears. It is because our ear lacks training. In school we are taught to read, write and speak, but not how to effectively listen. Yet, listening is the key to all effective communication. Without this crucial skill messages are often misunderstood, communication breaks down, and emotions heat up.

Good listening skills can lead to: better customer satisfaction, greater productivity, higher quality, improved safety, more respect, and increased creativity and innovation.

Many successful leaders and entrepreneurs credit their success to effective listening skills. Richard Branson frequently quotes listening as one of the main factors behind the success of Virgin. Effective listening is a skill that underpins all positive human relationships. And, yet, it is a skill that is virtually ignored.

Following are six easy to remember tips to increase listening abilities.  They form an acrostic for LISTEN.

LEARN. “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply,” says Steven Covey. By listening to understand we learn what motivates our employees to perform and our customers to buy. Listening is the catalyst that fosters mutual understanding, and provides us insight into people’s needs and wants so that we can connect with them in a meaningful way. Influential leaders listen and limit misunderstandings with both employees and customers.

INQUIRE. Good listeners ask clarifying questions like:
·         I heard you say _____. Is that correct?
·         If I understand correctly, your concern is _____?
·         What else can you tell me about _____?
·         Could you give me some insight on _____?
·         What do you think (or feel) about _____?
·         Correct me if I’m wrong. Did I hear you say _____?         

Influential leaders confirm what they heard and minimize mistakes. 

STOP TALKING. Mark Twain said, “If we were supposed to talk more than we listen, we would have two tongues and one ear.” It is impossible to hear others when our lips are moving. Did you notice the words “listen” and “silent” contain the same letters? To effectively listen, we must be courteous enough to let others complete their thoughts. Influential leaders are comfortable with silence and gain insight.

TIME. In today’s high-tech, high-speed, high-stress world, the deepest need of the human heart is to be understood, but few people slow down and take the time necessary to truly hear the heart. Genuine listening is a rare and special gift - the gift of time. A pause, even a long pause, does not necessarily mean the speaker has finished. Be patient and let the speaker continue in their own time. Sometimes it takes time to formulate what to say and how to say it. Never interrupt or finish a sentence. Time builds relationships, respect, and results. Influential leaders take time to truly listen and increase trust.

EMPATHIZE. In every organization, there will be individuals with differing perspectives and opinions. Opposing values, traditions, and expectations are as varied as the characters that carry them to the workplace. When we care enough to take off our shoes, and take a walk in their shoes we begin to see the world as they see it. Though we may not agree, empathetic listeners are open to others’ point of view. Empathy is the channel that creates safety and mutual respect. Influential leaders listen with not only their ears but also their heart and establish rapport.

NON-JUDGMENTAL. Competent and confident communicators are impartial. They don’t let habits or mannerisms distract from what the speaker is really saying. They are aware of their own biases, focus on what is being said, and try not to draw incorrect conclusions or inaccurate assumptions – warranted or not – about what the other person means. They are astute at separating fact from opinion. By sticking with the facts, they earn the right to present controversial information and are heard. Influential leaders listen without being judgmental and earn respect.  

Listening effectively sets apart the best communicators from the mediocre ones. It differentiates the most influential leaders from the least influential leaders.  It is a skill that can be learned like reading, writing and speaking.  It just takes a little training, awareness, and lots of practice.

Beth Rudy is a Senior Consultant with Insight Management Consulting, an organizational and leadership development firm located in Crofton, MD that focuses on communication training. She uses her passion, personality, and positive energy to influence individuals to become better communicators. 

She has found that being an excellent communicator has helped her gain confidence to express her thoughts more clearly, share information more effectively, and resolve conflict more respectfully. Throughout the learning process she has discovered a lot about herself and others, and built strong and lasting relationships with customers and colleagues, as well as friends and family.

To bring a communications class to your church or workplace please contact Beth.