… For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.

Daniel 9:18b-19

Lord God, our King and our Redeemer, today I come before Your throne in humility and in repentance. Once again, I have allowed fear to eclipse my faith in You. Once again, I’ve given way to anxiety instead of clinging to Your promises. Again, my mind has strayed from contemplation of Your faithfulness to mull over my own failures.

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…

2 Corinthians 10:5

Forgive me, Lord, and help me to truly take every thought captive to obey Christ! Let me not fall prey to despair when my family seems to be far from You, but help me instead to rejoice in You no matter what.

Forgive me for being silent in the face of those who resist discussing Your goodness. Instead, Lord, let my mouth be full of praise to You and my heart filled to the overflow of my love for You. Remind me that even when it seems I walk alone, I am never alone. You are with me.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4

Despite my frailty, despite my weakness and my ineptitude, Lord, You are still King. You are still on Your throne. Help me to be mindful of this fact, trusting that You can reach the hearts of my family and awaken in them a knowledge of the true depths of Your grace – even if I have failed in every way to present You to them.

For though You are gracious to use me, You do not need me to do Your work, Lord. Like a loving Father, You allow me to participate in Your work. But You are the Craftsman. You are the Master – the One who reshapes my blunders and does the work I cannot do.

But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.

Isaiah 64:*

I look to You to bring all of my family into right relationship with my Lord Yeshua Messiah. I look to Your Spirit to move in their hearts, shattering idols, quickening true passion for the things of God, slaying pride, and stirring up a keen desire for righteousness and holiness.

I cannot do this work, Lord, nor can my worry over it accomplish anything more than exposing the weakness of my faith. Return my mind once more to a contemplation of the glory of my King, and keep my eyes fixed forever on the light of Your goodness and grace.

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Colossians 3:2-3

May my heart be so filled with Your Spirit that the natural overflow of my lips is praise to You. Let my vocal and constant worship of You point others ceaselessly to Your glory.

And Lord, do a mighty work within my family, please. For Your Name’s sake, do not delay but act. Change our hearts so that we seek first Your Kingdom and Your righteousness in unity, together walking in Your light through this dark world. May our family truly be one who can say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord;” Amen!

Wisdom Seeker: Day 30

Proverbs 30

Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.

Proverbs 30:8-9

Have you ever thanked God for affliction and trouble?

It’s a sincere question. Think about verses 8-9 of today’s reading. The author asks God to keep him in a state of in-between. He asks for neither enough wealth that he has no worries nor poverty where he has nothing but worries.

Not many of us in America fall into the second category. Oh, we may have our share of bills and not quite enough to pay them, true. But few of us have ever been tempted to steal just to fill our empty bellies.

To get to that point of need you’ll have no electric bill nor water bill to trouble your mind. No cell phone or internet service to speak of, so if you’re reading this, you’re not that poor. To face starvation, it’s doubtful you’ll have rent or a mortgage. If you have any of those things, you have something you can trade in or sell that would purchase a few decent meals at least.

It may seem counter-intuitive to actually thank God for hardship, though. After all, would you rather thank Him from a position of unshakable financial security?

I’m sure. Yet for one thing, there is no such thing as unshakable financial security. Not to mention I know of no soul so pious that it isn’t prone to relying more on it’s bank account than on God.

But that, my friends, is a dangerous place.

It’s best if we have enough difficulty in life to remind us of our need for God. The problem with wealth is that, too often, it begins to own us. Like the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16-22, we feel so secure in our stuff that we hesitate to leave it behind for the lasting riches found in Christ.

When I think of this thing in terms of eternity – of the fleeting nature of health and wealth in my present state, of the rapidity with which all my earthly security can come crashing down due to an accident, diagnosis, or natural disaster – then yes, I can thank God for adversity.

For me, chronic pain has taught me more about His goodness and mercy than life as a healthy billionaire ever could. And I am thankful.

Lord, thank You for loving us enough to keep us dependent on You. No matter what life may bring, keep our eyes turned to You and our hearts inclined to loving obedience to You, amen.

Wisdom Seeker: Day 29

Proverbs 29

The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.

Proverbs 29:25

Today, I’m in a bit of awe over the mercy of my God. It’s difficult to explain, but suffice to say that the last 2 days saw me in the middle of a migraine. And joy. Crazy, inexplicable joy.

I could only feel thankful that my Lord suffered pain on purpose to pay the penalty for my sin. I, however, deserve worse than pain yet I have the end of pain to look forward to for all eternity. I think I could write a book about the joy and still not fully explain it.

To bring it to today: Verse 25 of this proverb is true – fear of man certainly lays a snare. I spent much of my adult life captive to it. Fear of man – fear of displeasing others which led me into either codependency or a weird sort of rebellion against that tendency that only led me to reject possibly decent people in favor of people I had no genuine concern for.

Even as a new believer, I felt more concerned with pleasing other Christians than I did pleasing God.

In truth, it took pain before I could listen. God provided me with a gift – pain that shackled me, limited what I could do. Then, finally, I learned to look to Him alone. I learned to ask, “No matter what anyone else thinks, Lord, what is it You want me to do?”

It’s been the most liberating change of my entire life except for the moment when I was liberated from my sin by putting my trust in the sacrifice of Yeshua Messiah – Jesus Christ.

Sometimes my obedience to God displeases other people. But as long as He is pleased, I no longer mind. I feel compassion for the others and I pray for them, knowing that God desires them, too, to feel the same freedom.

And even better, I find it’s harder for others to displease me. When they do, I remind myself that I’m not the one they need to fear, anyway. That, too, is freeing.

There’s a bit of it, but there’s such a gratitude in me that I really can’t express it all. I need to give a bit of time to my current writing project, then prepare to celebrate the youngest’s 15th birthday tomorrow.

Wishing you joy and peace in Christ today!

Wisdom Seeker: Day 24 – An Open Letter to S.S.

Proverbs 24

My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.

Proverbs 24:13-14

OK, I’ll confess that a part of this exercise of writing a bit about a proverb each day is to get me back in the habit. After taking July off and since I’m now getting paid to write (not here – an entirely different project), I need the accountability to write some words each day, even if they aren’t perfect.

So here I am. But today I have something else on my mind. Really, I have a person on my mind.

Mr. Sparkman, I doubt you’ll ever read this, but know that I’m praying for you. Seriously. I pray that you will know the goodness and peace of the Lord. I’m praying for you to find this wisdom that is sweet for your soul so you may find a future and your hope will not be cut off.

The thing is, none of this hope and future apply to your life here on earth. Horrible things have happened to you. There’s no denying it. And I know you believe God turned His back on you and you’re angry.

Well, today I invite you to let Him have it. You’re in yet another horrible place, so lay into Him. Yell to the heavens, fling all your anger and accusations into His face. Scream, rant, rave.

Because the thing is – He already knows it. Getting it out can be cathartic, like lancing an infection. And God – He is big. Huge. More than you can imagine. He can handle it.

Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.

Psalms 139:4)

And what’s more, He knows what you are made of. He knows your weaknesses, your insecurities, your strengths, the good, the bad, the ugly. He knows you better than you know yourself. All of it.

And I know you don’t believe this, but He loves you anyway. He really, truly does. He’s given me a glimpse of that love which is why I continue to call you when I can, why I continue to pray for you when I can’t.

I want you to be free from the prison of deceit the enemy of our souls has locked you into. I want you to be able to experience the joy of repenting of sin and knowing that it is forgiven because God Himself came as a man to suffer pain – on purpose – so that He could pay the actual cost of that sin.

You can continue to pay it. Or you can surrender to Him and accept His forgiveness instead.

Yes, I know you’ve been sinned against. Atrociously. Horrifically. But the thing is, those people are accountable for their actions. If they didn’t face the consequences here on earth, they will face them in eternity. Some of them are already paying that price. I shudder to think about it.

It would have been better for them to pay it in this life and repent. Believe it or not, I’m sad for them. Eternal suffering is no joke, and once you get your mind around it, it’s hard to wish it on even the most evil person you know.

Forever, S. Forever suffering. The hell of this life multiplied by a million and extending for time out of mind.

You don’t want that. So please, please, please – let me talk to you more about my Lord Yeshua the Messiah. Let me tell you how good He is – even though bad things happen. Let me tell you of the freedom of forgiveness and the joy of knowing your eternal future is secure – free from pain and sorrow forever and ever and ever.

Because although I know you have been sinned against, you also know you’re no saint. None of us are outside of Yeshua. You know I wasn’t. Those who embrace Him are given His righteousness to put on as a cloak. It isn’t our goodness we wear – it’s His. Can you see that? I am not saved from my junk because of anything I did. It’s what He did for me that saved me. I simply surrendered to it.

And nothing can take that away for those of us who are in Christ. Nothing. No matter how bad life on earth gets – and it can get worse, believe me – nothing will change the future of the believer. Our hope is not in this world – it’s in eternity. Forever free from pain and sorrow and despair.

That is why I can have joy in the middle of severe physical pain. That is why I can smile even when I am rejected by other people. That is why I can love people who don’t love me back.

You see, Yeshua – Jesus – did that for me. He loved me when I ridiculed Him, when I hated Him, when I rebelled against Him. He loved me until I wrestled with Him and shrieked at Him until I finally lay spent at His feet, weeping.

And I surrendered.

He loves you, too. He really does. Please consider him.

Your old friend,

Heather

Wisdom Seeker: Day 14

Proverbs 14

In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.

Proverbs 14:23

As usual, plenty of good stuff in the proverbs reading today, but of course time constraints mean I have to be prayerfully selective. Today, as I prayed through the reading, this is the one which grabbed me.

It may be a bit of a no-brainer when it comes to working for a living. After all, it takes work to make a profit. No one gets paid to watch Netflix all day.

But… until God brought my eyes again and again to this verse, even as I tried to skip over it, I’d never considered it in a spiritual sense.

Today it occurred to me that we have a bad habit in the church in America of doing lots and lots and lots of talking. We talk about the Word, we talk about the teachers we love, we talk about being a light and all of that.

But what do we do about it?

Are we good about confessing our sin and exhibiting genuine repentance? Do we really “put our money where our mouth is” and demonstrate our love of Christ by our lifestyles and choices? Is our entertainment glorifying to Him?

Do we behave with Christlike love and patience when someone wrongs us? Are we open and honest when we wrong someone else?

I know we say we truly love the Lord, but do we live as though we truly love Him? Do we live as though eternity is real and that our time with God in listening, serving, and obeying Him is the most important thing we do each day?

Some food for thought. Let’s live in such a way as to profit the Kingdom by our work. Our labor of love for Christ. Even our sacrificial toil in humility and in doing justice and loving kindness as we walk before Him each day.

Father, show us where we need to make our walk line up with our talk, then don’t let us feel comfortable until we are doing it. Teach us to be consistent in word and in deed, and incline our hearts to loving obedience of Your commands in all things, amen.

Wisdom Seeker: Day 13

Proverbs 13

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

Proverbs 13:20

A couple of these stood out to me today. I’ll keep it pretty brief.

First, this reminder that it truly does matter who we choose to surround ourselves with. Yes, yes, I know – Jesus was a friend of sinners. I’ve heard it, too – loads of times. More on that in a second.

For now, I want to state for the record that I am in no way suggesting you completely ditch your atheistic friends or refuse to ever go visit your former college roommate who has embraced New Age and is always going on about the energy of a place while waving around crystals and oils and stuff.

After all, if you truly love them, don’t you want to see them come to know and love our Lord? Doesn’t love want the best for the beloved, and can you think of anything better than eternal life in the presence of the Almighty?

Bringing the Gospel of salvation through Christ to those who do not know Him is our primary function here on earth, so share freely and liberally with them! Which reminds me – I have a phone call to make.

BUT… remember that to say, “Jesus was a friend of sinners” is the same thing as saying, “Jesus befriended human beings.” He is literally the only person whose feet ever struck the soil of planet earth that never sinned. So yes, He associated with sinners.

And all the while He talked, dined, and taught them about the Kingdom of God. He called some of them a “brood of vipers.” He taught that if we have two sets of garments, we should give one to someone in need.

He told us that to follow Him, we would have to take up our crosses, and He never flinched at saying, “Go and sin no more,” or reminding His followers that persecution would come. In fact, He said and did many shocking and uncomfortable things to those sinners He “hung out” with.

He also lived a sinless life, then willingly took on Himself the inconceivable heaviness and darkness of all our sin, then suffered the wrath of God on our behalf. He gave up His life in one of the most brutal methods of execution humanity has yet conceived to pay the price of our sin. My sin. Yours.

So if we are going to pattern ourselves after Him – and we should! – let’s just go all the way and not stop at “hanging out” with “sinners” (as if we are excluded from that group -haha!). Let’s love them enough to lay down our lives for them…

But I digress. The proverb is more a warning not to habitually surround ourselves with the foolish – those who choose the world over Christ. We may need to bear witness to them, but we need solid, Godly companionship to hold us accountable, to confront us when we stray from the Truth, and to pray for us and with us all the while.

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

2 Corinthians 6:14

So much for brevity. Let me just say that verse 24 hits me every time, too. I’m so thankful my Father has never spared the rod from me. This is one way I know He loves me.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12:11

Oh my King, how thankful I am that You came to save me, a sinner! Never let me lose sight of the wonder of that. I welcome Your discipline, for though it may sting for a bit, in the end it is what keeps me from evil and corrects me when I stray from the path to eternal life!

Tuesday Prayer: Burden Bearer

…casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 

1 Peter 5:7

Oh Father, today we are so thankful that You do care! You are good, and Your ways are trustworthy. This world continually stirs up anxiety and grief in our hearts. Some days, it seems that evil has the upper hand, and other days, it seems that the whole world works against us and nothing goes our way. 

Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

Psalm 55:22

Yet even in the midst of all of it, You remain perfect and pure; our Rock and our Shield. Thank You that Your word is truth and that You really do work all things for the good of those who love You. Thank You for caring for us as a Father who tenderly looks after His children. 

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

Today we confess every anxiety and all the burdens and fears we carry. Lord, they are too much for us to bear! We lay them at the foot of the Throne of Grace, casting them on You because You are strong enough to shoulder the burdens we cannot manage; casting them on You because Your grace is sufficient for us and Your power is perfected in our weaknesses and because we trust You. 

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me

2 Corinthians 12:9

Thank You for allowing us access through Christ to Your throne where You provide the mercy we need and grace to help us. We confess a never ending need of You!

We need You for every waking moment, for each triumph, and to sustain us through every single tragedy. We need Your strength because ours is too small. We need Your wisdom because we have none in ourselves. And Lord, we need Your mercy for we have fallen short of Your glory. 

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

Romans 3:23-24

Thank You today and every day that in Christ, we can find every single need met in perfection and completeness. To You be the glory, God, for the great things You have done! It’s in the name of Jesus we confess our need and offer our praises, amen.