Beliefnet
Prayer, Plain and Simple

Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. (Mark 3:13)

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…Jesus…led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. (Mark 9:2)

Following Jesus can be an uphill struggle as He calls us to higher ground, but it’s worth the effort. The view from the mountain top is panoramic. From there, one can see the bigger picture – His point of view.

Mountain climbing is a good practice. It requires strength, endurance, patience, grit, and all the things that make for good character. We spent last week in the mountains, and every day we placed a hiking challenge before us. Day by day, throughout the week we increased the challenge, and by the end of the week we had acclimated to the higher elevation; we felt stronger as the hikes progressed. Our joy increased as the elevation increased.

Jesus calls us higher. There are no escalators that will take us there. No elevators to the mountain peaks. We, each of us, have to pick up our backpacks and follow Him higher. Sweat, we must, and pant. But the effort is worth it!

Do we earn our place with Jesus through our effort? Certainly not! Still, to go higher requires exercise on our part. God is not opposed to effort. Jesus didn’t carry His disciples on His back up the mountaintop one by one. They each had to follow Him there, wiping the sweat from their brows and stopping at streams to refresh themselves.

Getting to that pinnacle, seeing that panoramic view makes the exercise worth it. Let’s follow Jesus to higher places; let’s see the world from His point of view. Pray this plain and simple prayer with us today.

Jesus,

I want to expand my horizons. Take me higher! I hear You calling me to climb the heights with You. I get up off my seat of comfort and complacency. I take hold of Your hand and together we climb higher. The journey to the mountaintop with You is sweet, though challenging. You speak Your love and Your wisdom, encouragement and insight to me, and our friendship grows in intimacy. As we journey, my faith grows. I see Your strength. I see the wonder of Your creation through Your own eyes as You stop and marvel at the beauty along the way.

You, Jesus, are my all in all. I love this hike with You. Take me higher and higher!

Amen!

“It was a harder day’s journey than yesterday’s, for there were long and weary hills to climb; and in journeys, as in life, it is a great deal easier to go down hill than up. However, they kept on, with unabated perseverance, and the hill has not yet lifted its face to heaven that perseverance will not gain the summit of at last.” ~ Charles Dickens

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The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.      (Psalm 19:1)

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Witnessing a total eclipse of the sun is a once in a lifetime experience, but once you’ve observed it, you’ll hope to make it happen again, so well worth the effort it is. We traveled to Rexburg, Idaho where we enjoyed 2 minutes and 16 seconds of pure day-dark wonder!

Not being terribly intentional people when it comes to vacations, it just so happened that we had inadvertently blocked off the week of the eclipse for our vacation, and it further just so happened that we had planned to go to a friend’s lodge in Big Sky, Montana, and it still further just so happened to be situated a mere two-hour drive from where the total eclipse could be viewed.

Our only regret was that we hadn’t studied up on the eclipse, other than to listen to a podcast about it on our drive, during which I fell soundly asleep. As I listened to a small portion, Hugh Ross discussed the phenomenon, and I was struck with how much I wished we could view the eclipse with an astrophysicist like himself.

God gives us the desires of our hearts.

As we wandered into the town of Rexburg, we looked for a spot to view the eclipse that wasn’t too congested. We parked the car and wandered into a drive-in movie theater where we were immediately greeted by another visitor, an astrophysicist, nonetheless, with three telescopes and two binoculars ready to go; he was more than willing to share them with us, and he walked and talked us through the whole amazing experience from beginning to end. We had our wish – an astrophysicist, Professor Woolley by name, and his lovely wife Linda.

He pointed out many things we otherwise would have missed. For example, as the sun became more and more eclipsed, our shadows sharpened, like they were perfectly cut out of big pieces of black paper.

He showed us the prominences of the sun dance around the periphery, each of which is larger than the planet we are standing on.

What a glorious moment when we could take off our protective glasses and feast our eyes on the full phenomenon. It was as dark as night for over two minutes. We saw Venus and stars shining down on us.

One of the most amazing observations was that even when much or almost all of the sun was eclipsed by our moon – before and after the total eclipse – the light was still so bright around us. I find that encouraging: No matter how much darkness threatens to snuff out the light in our lives, the light still shines brighter, refusing to be extinguished!

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth. (Psalm 57:5)

Father, 
We give You thanks and praise for the wonder of Your creation and that You have given it to us to enjoy and tend. May we hold it dear and love it well.
Amen

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“O, storm-battered city, troubled and desolate, I will build you with precious jewels.” Isaiah 54:11

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If you’ve been hit with a storm in your finances, relationships, marriage, or health God has some encouraging words for you. His words are not empty. His promises are firmly established. They don’t yield empty results, like a Ponzi scheme. His promises are a solid rock that you can build your life upon. Perhaps you’ve found yourself in financial rubble. You’ve been ripped off; you’ve made foolish decisions, and now you’re in a hole. God has Good News for you…

Maybe a significant relationship has imploded, and you can’t seem to find your way out of the pit of despair. Or maybe you’re in a crisis in your life of some kind – perhaps trying to discover who you are and why you’re here after having tried and failed at various opportunities.

Perhaps people have done you wrong and your life is in ruins as a result. Whatever the cause, whatever the dilemma, God’s Good News is true for you today.

He promises to take whatever we give Him, whatever that it happens to be. Even if it’s a mess, He will work with it and recreate it and recycle it into something stronger, more efficient, more beautiful, and even more useful than ever before.

Jesus was a carpenter. He learned how to repair things that were broken, and He has carried that skill into eternity for you! He wants to remodel your life into something new, something that brings you great joy, and something that is truly valuable in the world.

“What’s my part?” you might ask. “How do I access these promises?” The answer is quite simple and quite impossible without His Spirit’s help: follow His example, listen to His words, and obey them.

A word of warning for those of us who have been familiar with the Scriptures since our childhood: beware! It’s terribly easy to think we know things when we really don’t. Just because we are familiar with it, doesn’t mean we follow through with our words and actions!

So, what exactly did Jesus teach us? That’s your job to discover! Wrap yourself up in a comfy place and start researching Jesus’ teaching. Be ready to be amazed by the Greatest Leader the world has ever enjoyed. Then, don’t make the mistake of keeping the information in your head. Act on it.

Pray this plain and simple prayer over the rubble of your life, and watch a work of art emerge. It might take time, and you won’t get anywhere without faith, but you will advance His purposes in your life if you don’t give up.

Father,
You see the mess my life has become. You know exactly the missteps I took that led me here.

Lord, I forgive everyone who has contributed to this disaster, including myself. You have forgiven me of much; I freely forgive each enemy that has plagued me.

With that bit of business behind me, I ask through the power of the great Carpenter, Jesus Himself, that You begin building my life anew. Instead of using run-of-the-mill materials, I am asking for precious jewels and valuable stones. Make my life something beautiful that will bring You glory and draw people to You through me.

I receive this promise in Jesus’ Name,
Amen!

 

 

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You hold me safe beyond the reach of my enemies. (Psalm 18:48)

Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. (Isaiah 59:11)

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How long is God’s reach? It is further than your enemy’s. The battles we engage in, the Bible tells us, are not related to flesh and blood, that is, human beings; we are rather engaged in combat with fallen angels and Satan, the hobgoblin himself, the enemy of our souls.

If you are under attack today (and we hardly know anyone who isn’t), you can rest assured that God can lift you above the battle, above the fray, set you on a rock where your enemy cannot torment you.

Sometimes we minimize God’s strength in our imaginations and maximize the enemy’s abilities.

The enemy isn’t omnipotent. God is.

The devil isn’t omnipresent. God is.

Satan isn’t omniscient. God is.

Let’s remember this:  our enemy is a defeated foe. Jesus dealt with him once and for all in his death on the cross. He went to hell so that no one has to go there but the devil himself and those who wish to follow him. He will ultimately be thoroughly crushed and defeated, but while we’re waiting for Jesus to make all things right, we must engage in battle on a daily basis. 

On earth we are guaranteed troubles and trials; however, in the midst of them, God makes a way for us to always walk in victory. He sets us up out of the enemy’s reach, where he cannot poke, prod, hurt, bruise, abase or abuse us relentlessly.

It’s God who has the long arm, not the enemy. Satan cannot reach us when we run to Jesus for cover. Are you being harassed and beaten down? Sometimes our enemy uses people to do his harassing, sometimes circumstances, but either way, we can walk in peace and victory even in the midst of suffering.

Pray this plain and simple prayer, and take cover under the shadow of God’s wings today… 

Father,

I run to You today for help and for cover. I have been beaten and whipped by the sharp tail of the enemy long enough.

First, I give my whole self to You. Take this life of mine; You may have it all. Take my mind, my heart, my desires, my ambitions, and my talents and make something with them that will benefit Your kingdom on earth.

Thank You for Your promise to hide me in the secret place. Thank You that the enemy’s reach is limited. Help me to give him absolutely zero access to any part of me! I give You 100% access to every part of me, and therein is my safe place.

I repent of my sin… I thank You that when I confess my sin to You I am both forgiven as well as cleansed from all iniquity. Thank You, Lord!

Lord, I use my words to counter every lie the enemy presents to me today. I refute his accusations and his condemnation. I use Your own Word, speaking, “It is written!” 

You are my Safe Place, dear Heavenly Papa. Now keep me there, teach me to live there, only and always.

In Jesus’ Name

Amen.

Photo credit: Foter.com