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Prayer is the practice of the presence of God. It is the place where pride is abandoned, hope is lifted, and supplication is made. Prayer is the place of admitting our need, of adopting humility, and claiming dependence upon God. Prayer is the needful practice of the Christian. Prayer is the exercise of faith and hope. Prayer is the privilege of touching the heart of the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. James 4:8

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:6-7

Father, in Your mercy, hear our prayers.

Devotionals
   Our Daily Bread   - Daily Devotionals

Our Guiding Light

At a museum, I lingered near a display of ancient lamps. A glance at some printed information revealed they were from Israel. Decorated with carved designs, these oval-shaped clay vessels had two openings—one for fuel, and one for a wick. Although the Israelites commonly used them in wall alcoves, each was small enough to fit in the palm of a person’s hand.

Perhaps a little light like this inspired King David to write a praise song in which he said, “You Lord are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light” (2 Samuel 22:29). David sang these words after God gave him victory in battle. Rivals from both inside and outside his own nation had been stalking him, intending to kill him. Because of his relationship with God, David didn’t cower in the shadows. He moved forward into enemy confrontations with the confidence that comes from God’s presence. With God helping him, he could see things clearly so he could make good decisions for himself, his troops, and his nation.

The darkness David mentioned in his song likely involved fear of weakness, defeat, and death. Many of us live with similar worries, which produce anxiety and stress. When the darkness presses in on us, we can find peace because we know God is with us too. The divine flame of the Holy Spirit lives in us to light our path until we meet Jesus face to face.


Attitude of Gratitude

Here in Michigan, the winters can be brutal, with sub-zero temperatures and never-ending snow. One bitterly cold day, as I shoveled snow for what seemed like the thousandth time, our postman paused in his rounds to ask how I was doing. I told him that I disliked winter and was weary of all the heavy snow. I then commented that his job must be pretty rough during these extreme weather conditions. He responded, “Yeah, but at least I have a job,” he said. “A lot of people don’t. I’m thankful to be working.”

I have to admit that I felt quite convicted by his attitude of gratitude. How easily we can lose sight of everything we have to be thankful for when the circumstances of life become unpleasant.

Paul told the followers of Christ at Colossae, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful” (Col. 3:15). He wrote to the Thessalonians, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18).

Even in our times of genuine struggle and pain, we can know God’s peace and permit it to rule our hearts. And in that peace, we will find reminders of all that we have been given in Christ. In that, we can truly be thankful.


Don’t Forget the Giver

It was just before Christmas, and her kids were having a difficult time with gratitude. In other words, they were pretty much “give me” instead of “thank you.” She knew how easy it was to slip into that kind of thinking—what with all the commercialism of the season. But she also knew she wanted something better for the hearts of her children. So she went through the house and placed a bright red bow on light switches, the pantry and refrigerator doors, the washing machine and dryer, and the water faucets. With each bow there was a handwritten note: “Some of the gifts God gives us are easy to overlook, so I’ve put a bow on them. He is so good to our family. Let’s not forget where the gifts come from.”

As we turn to Scripture and read Deuteronomy 6, we see that the future of the nation of Israel involved the conquest of existing places. So they would move into large flourishing cities they did not build (Deuteronomy 6:10), occupy houses filled with good things they didn’t provide, and benefit from wells and vineyards and olive groves they didn’t dig or plant (v. 11). All these blessings could be easily traced back to a single source—“the Lord your God” (v. 10). And while God lovingly provided these things and more, Moses wanted to make sure the people were careful not to forget (v. 12).

In certain seasons of life it is easy to forget. But let’s not lose sight of God’s goodness, the source of all our blessings.


Gifts from Above

According to an old story, a man born in 270 AD named Nicholas heard about a father who was so poor that he couldn’t feed his three daughters, much less provide for their future marriages. Wanting to assist the father, but hoping to keep his help a secret, Nicholas threw a bag of gold through an open window, which landed in a sock or shoe drying on the hearth. That man was known as St. Nicholas, who later became the inspiration for Santa Claus.

When I heard that story of a gift coming down from above, I thought of God the Father, who out of love and compassion sent to Earth the greatest gift, His Son, not through a chimney but through a miraculous birth. According to Matthew’s gospel, Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy that a virgin would conceive and give birth to a son whom they would call Immanuel, meaning “God with us” (Matthew 1:23).

As lovely as Nicholas’s gifts were, how much more amazing is the gift of Jesus. He left heaven to become a man, died and rose again, and is God living with us. He brings us comfort when we’re hurting and sad; He encourages us when we feel downhearted; He reveals the truth to us when we might be deceived.

How can you give the gift of Jesus today?


Intentional Kindness

Boarding a plane alone with her children, a young mom tried desperately to calm her three-year-old daughter who began crying and kicking. Then her hungry four-month-old son also began to wail.

Observing the situation, the traveler seated next to her quickly offered to hold the baby while Jessica got her daughter buckled in. Then the traveler—recalling his own days as a young dad—began coloring with the toddler while Jessica fed her infant. And on the next connecting flight, the same man offered to assist again if needed.

Jessica recalled, “I [was] blown away by God’s hand in this. [We] could have been placed next to anyone, but we were seated next to one of the nicest men I have ever met.”

In 2 Samuel 9, we read of another example of what I call intentional kindness. After King Saul and his son Jonathan had been killed, some expected David to kill off any competition to his claim for the throne. Instead, he asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?” (v. 3). Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son, was then brought to David who restored his inheritance and warmly invited him to share his table from then on—just as if he were his own son (v. 11).

As beneficiaries of the immense kindness of God, may we look for opportunities to show intentional kindness toward others (Galatians 6:10).

 




   Our Daily Bread Ministries   - Your home for daily devotionals

Our Guiding Light

At a museum, I lingered near a display of ancient lamps. A glance at some printed information revealed they were from Israel. Decorated with carved designs, these oval-shaped clay vessels had two openings—one for fuel, and one for a wick. Although the Israelites commonly used them in wall alcoves, each was small enough to fit in the palm of a person’s hand.

Perhaps a little light like this inspired King David to write a praise song in which he said, “You Lord are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light” (2 Samuel 22:29). David sang these words after God…


Attitude of Gratitude

Here in Michigan, the winters can be brutal, with sub-zero temperatures and never-ending snow. One bitterly cold day, as I shoveled snow for what seemed like the thousandth time, our postman paused in his rounds to ask how I was doing. I told him that I disliked winter and was weary of all the heavy snow. I then commented that his job must be pretty rough during these extreme weather conditions. He responded, “Yeah, but at least I have a job,” he said. “A lot of people don’t. I’m thankful to be working.”

I have to admit that I felt quite…


Don’t Forget the Giver

It was just before Christmas, and her kids were having a difficult time with gratitude. In other words, they were pretty much “give me” instead of “thank you.” She knew how easy it was to slip into that kind of thinking—what with all the commercialism of the season. But she also knew she wanted something better for the hearts of her children. So she went through the house and placed a bright red bow on light switches, the pantry and refrigerator doors, the washing machine and dryer, and the water faucets. With each bow there was a handwritten note: “Some…


Gifts from Above

According to an old story, a man born in 270 AD named Nicholas heard about a father who was so poor that he couldn’t feed his three daughters, much less provide for their future marriages. Wanting to assist the father, but hoping to keep his help a secret, Nicholas threw a bag of gold through an open window, which landed in a sock or shoe drying on the hearth. That man was known as St. Nicholas, who later became the inspiration for Santa Claus.

When I heard that story of a gift coming down from above, I thought of God the…


Intentional Kindness

Boarding a plane alone with her children, a young mom tried desperately to calm her three-year-old daughter who began kicking and crying. Then her hungry four-month-old son also began to wail.
 

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