Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt, Psalm

6.28.19 Praise & Prayer Prompt: Always Praise

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• When this blog turned a year old, I changed the platform a little bit.
Instead of being a daily “prayer prompt,” it switched to a “praise & prayer prompt.”
Then, at the end of each devotion, there’s always some kind of prayer of thanksgiving.
I believe in the power of praise.
But just because I believe it doesn’t mean I’m always great at applying it.
It’s an ongoing effort.
And some days, it’s easier to praise than others.
But we aren’t told to offer praise just when things are good.
We’re told to praise in all circumstances.
The Stormie Omartian book I read from every morning (“The Power of Praying Through the Bible”) had a passage on praise and she wrote, ”God wants you to exalt Him and not your problems.”
There’s a mic-drop for ya!
She went on to write that it’s not about ignoring our problems and pretending they don’t exist, but it’s about praising God as being bigger and stronger.
When we acknowledge that Truth and trust God to use whatever challenges we face to strengthen our faith and make us more like Christ, that’s a praise-worthy moment!
David was brilliant at praising God through every circumstance.
So when you don’t know where to start or you’re too overwhelmed to praise, turn to Psalms.
We have two signature verses today.
The first is Psalms 100:2, “Serve the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.”
And the second is Psalm 34:1, “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.”
When we begin our time with God with praise in our hearts, we are empowered.
We know Him better and when we praise Him first, we invite His presence into the situation.
We’ve all heard the truth, “There’s power in prayer.”
Well, Friends—there’s also power in praise.
Today, as you pray, thank God for being worthy of all praise.
Thank Him for the future promise that one day, every tongue will confess and every knee will bow before Him and that you will be a part of that praise and worship experience.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you praise in all circumstances.
Ask Him to direct you when you don’t know where/how to begin.

Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt, Psalm

6.24.19 Praise & Prayer Prompt: No Need to Fear

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• We adopted our dog, Beth, when she was three and she’s 11 now.
She’s always had some weird quirks but recently, they have grown to epic proportions.
And let me tell you, Friends…
You can’t reason with a paranoid dog.
They just refuse to listen to common sense or believe that their delusions have no merit.
It’s not helping that we’ve had a lot of thunderstorms lately and heaven help us when Fourth of July rolls around in a couple of weeks.
But I think we can relate to Beth more than we care to admit…
How often have we found ourselves in a situation that seems hopeless…
Or been overwhelmed by fear…
Or we’ve rushed to panic before we’ve rushed to prayer…
I’d raise both hands here, but I’m typing…
The Lord repeatedly tells us not to worry, not to be afraid, and to trust Him.
He fights for us.
We ended Sunday School on that note yesterday, and specifically by playing a round of Sword Drills with verses that referenced that truth (which was hilarious since most of us haven’t played since our Youth Group days and way back then, we didn’t need readers to play the game!)
This morning’s signature verse is from Psalm 56:3, and it says, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”
I wonder what this week would like if we lived by that commitment.
Let’s try it…
Today, as you pray, thank God for being bigger, stronger, and more powerful than any fear or problem we face.
Thank Him for fighting for you.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you trust in Him and His protection.
Ask Him to help you stand confident, with the peace of knowing that you face the unknown future beside the all-knowing and all-powerful God who already knows what happens next.

Genesis, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Matthew, Philippians, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt, Psalm, Romans

6.23.19 Praise & Prayer Prompt: God Knows Our Thoughts

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• I saw this meme on Facebook: “I’m grateful that thoughts don’t appear in bubbles over our heads.”
Isn’t that the truth?
Depending on the circumstances and time of day, my thought bubbles might range between, “A cup of coffee sounds good,” to “I need coffee,” all the way to, “If I don’t get coffee, I am going to hurt someone.”
As much as we want to believe (and hope) that the thoughts in our heads are private to us, that’s not the case.
And I’m not talking about the facial expressions that give us away, though my lack of a poker face has gotten me in trouble more than a few times.
Psalm 139:1-2, 4 says, “O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.”
On one hand, that is comforting.
It affirms that God our Father and Creator is all-knowing and personally invested in our lives.
On the other hand, that is terrifying.
Because it affirms that God our Father and Creator is all-knowing and personally invested in our lives.
And I think we can all agree that we have some thoughts, words, and actions that we wish we could hide or erase altogether, especially from God.
The idea of God being exposed to our darkest thoughts leaves us raw and vulnerable.
And though He has known us since before we were conceived (Jeremiah 1:5), we don’t like being reminded of our sin and shame.
His holy presence forces us to acknowledge our own depravity.
It’s the very reason that Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves to cover themselves in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:7).
But God…
Isn’t that such a great phrase??
I love it.
But God loves us anyway and in Isaiah 26:3, we have to remedy for how to clean up our thoughts.
It says, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you.”
When we keep our minds on God, there isn’t room for the stuff we would want to hide.
Then, Romans 12:2 gives us additional insight, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
When we have our minds focused on God, and we’re willing to let Him transform our thoughts, then we naturally segue into Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
And with that, we come full circle back to Psalms, to the truth about God as described in 31:19, “Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!”
When we remember how good God is and how He’s given us a whole book to use and write on our hearts (Psalm 119:11), the fact that He can read our thoughts doesn’t have to be scary.
Because we have everything we need to overcome our thoughts when we simply focus our attention on Jesus.
Today, as you pray, thank God for knowing you better than anyone else does, even better than you know yourself.
And thank Him for loving you anyway.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you stay focused on God, God’s will, and ask Him to transform your thoughts accordingly.

1 Peter, Deuteronomy, Jeremiah, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt, Proverbs, Psalm

6.20.19 Praise & Prayer Prompt: Taste (A Sensory Series)

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• This is Day 4 of our week-long focus on the five senses: sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch.
Day 4–Taste.
This is my favorite sense, as evidenced by the size of my thighs.
Our verse is Psalm 34:8 which says, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”
How on earth do you taste the Lord?
The verse is actually an invitation for unbelievers to experience God’s goodness for themselves.
Think about it…
You go to a restaurant and you’re not certain about a certain dressing, soup, or flavor.
Your server may offer to bring you a sample to taste so you can try it and discover first hand how great the flavor is.
In this Psalm, David was expressing how satisfying and wonderful the Lord is and how great his experiences with God have been…
But he didn’t want people to take his word for it.
He wanted them to see for themselves!
He wanted others to experience how satisfying, wonderful, and great God is.
Because that’s the great thing about God…
Sharing Him with others doesn’t diminish our own experience with Him or limit His accessibility to us.
Sharing Him with others actually increases all of that because we can join others in their joys, pray for each other, and ponder His greatness together!
The poetic word choice of David’s paints a picture that makes sense…
Later, Peter used the same phraseology in 1 Peter 2:3.
When we are living for Jesus, choosing to let the Holy Spirit lead us, and trusting in God’s plan—that’s when we understand how great He is.
So the question today is this—have you experienced God’s greatness?
If you have, are you inviting others to “taste and see” the Lord for themselves?
And if you have not believed, but you’re curious, the Bible says that any who seek Him, will find Him (Deuteronomy 4:29, Proverbs 8:17, Jeremiah 29:13).
Today, as you pray, thank God for the gift of taste.
But most of all, thank Him that He is great and good.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you be a generous sharer of how good God has been to you.

1 John, 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Hebrews, John, Matthew, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt, Psalm

6.17.19 PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT: Sight (A Sensory Series)

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Last week, I accidentally wrote a three-part series.
This time, it’s on purpose.
This one has been on my mind for several weeks.
We’re going to spend five days on the senses: sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch.
But of course, we’ll talk about them from a faith-based perspective.
Day 1–Sight.
We have two different types of vision.
The physical vision which is often subjective based on the person, angle, and perspective of the viewer.
Then, spiritual vision which is rooted in faith.
You likely know the best example from Scripture…
After Jesus’ resurrection, doubting Thomas declared he would not believe unless he placed his hands in Jesus’ wounds himself.
Jesus appeared to Thomas and let him satisfy his doubts, then said, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).
Our sight is a gift from God, without question, but more important is our faith.
It always amazes me the way God works—often against the expectation we might have.
For example, Jesus said the last will be first (Matthew 20:16), which isn’t the earthly way of thinking.
And when it comes to spiritual vision, those who rely on what they can see and touch are spiritually blind, while those who have placed their faith in Jesus can see His truth.
And to be clear… faith in Jesus isn’t blind faith.
We have historically documented testimonies.
We can experience His presence.
And in Psalm 19:1, it says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”
Our faith in Jesus is an act of coming before the Throne of Grace with our eyes wide open, well-aware that it’s by His grace—not our good works—that permit us to bow down to worship Him (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Our faith in Jesus is believing in His power to clean us, free us from sin, and redeem us (1 John 1:7).
Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” and in 2 Corinthians 5:7, Paul wrote, “for we walk by faith, not by sight.”
So the question is—are you trusting in what Jesus says more than your circumstances?
Do you trust that faith in Jesus offers far more clarity than anything our human eyes can see?
Today, as you pray, thank God for the gift of sight, but more importantly, the gift of faith.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see through faith, and to trust in Jesus, even when you can’t see what He is doing.

Matthew, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt, Psalm

6.16.19 Praise & Prayer Prompt: Father’s Day

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Y’all have heard me say this before, but whenever a holiday comes around, my inner-rebel does not want to write about it.
It feels like I’m being a conformist.
But as we celebrate earthly fathers today, it’s also an opportunity to reflect on the ultimate father—our Heavenly Father.
Psalm 103:13 says, “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.”
I’m sure you know that the use of “fear” in scripture isn’t really about being afraid, but is about awesome respect for God’s power and glory.
I remember as a little girl that I had incredible respect for my grandfather’s authority.
As a child, or even as a teenager, I wouldn’t have described it that way…
But he was big and strong.
I thought he could do anything.
As I looked up to my Papo, with respect and admiration, so much more should we look that way at our Heavenly Father.
He is the biggest, the strongest, and the only one who can literally do anything.
His compassion for us is so great, that He allowed His own son to die for us so that we could be redeemed!
That is a level of compassion most of us would never have the strength to offer.
But in Matthew 7:9-11, Jesus said, “Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
When we ask our Heavenly Father to help us, He has promised to hear us and help us.
And He has given us the way to salvation and eternal life through Jesus.
What good gift could possibly be better?
Today, as you pray, thank God for being the greatest Father any of us could hope for.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you maintain overwhelming awe of His greatness and all He’s done for you.

Isaiah, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt, Psalm

6.14.19 Praise & Prayer Prompt: Forgetting

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Yesterday, we talked about “forgive” and the extraordinary way Jesus shows forgiveness through His love, grace, and mercy.
Today, we’re going to talk about forgetting.
As I’ve pondered forgiveness this year, I’ve thought about the concept of “forgive and forget,” which isn’t Biblical.
Forgetting isn’t part of Scripture and it’s not something we are capable of.
But there’s a difference between “forgetting” and what God does.
It’s not that God forgets our sins, but when we repent, God chooses not to remember them anymore.
Isn’t that amazing?!
It’s found in Isaiah 43:25, and the Lord said, “I—I sweep away your transgressions for my own sake and remember your sins no more.”
When we repent and turn from our sin, He forgives and chooses not to remember our sins anymore.
That’s when we can pull out the oft-quoted Psalms 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
And when you think about it, it makes sense.
God is all-knowing and all-powerful.
If He were to forget our sins, that would put us (and our tendency to rehash everything) in a position to know more than God.
Instead, He chooses not to dwell on our mistakes, and He does not allow them to consume His thoughts.
He chooses not to remember them.
The next time we mess up and spend hours mentally beating ourselves up, we have to keep this in mind.
We have to remember that our all-powerful, all-knowing God has decided not to remember our sins anymore.
So what gives us the right to keep punishing ourselves or someone who wronged us?
Who are we to tell God that His method of forgiveness and choosing not to remember isn’t good enough?
If we’ve sincerely repented, we can’t allow the past to paralyze us.
Today, as you pray, thank God for His willingness to not remember our sins once we have repented.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you follow God’s example.
Ask Him to give you the grace you need—both for others as well as yourself.
Ask Him to equip you with His strength so that you can put those negative thoughts out of mind.

Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt, Psalm

6.4.19 Praise & Prayer Prompt: A Reminder From a Cactus

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• There’s something kind of fascinating about a cactus.
I don’t think they are particularly pretty but if there’s one in my presence, I become a curious three-year-old and can’t help but touch it.
My mom had one when I was a little girl and I have had my hand slapped more than once as I played with the spines.
I think it’s a testament to God’s creativity that He would design a plant that actually grows in the desert and thrives under that kind of heat.
I won’t even pretend to understand or explain the particulars of growing cacti…
I have no discernible gardening skills and have managed to kill even the heartiest of plants.
Nonetheless, I think the cactus and its ability to grow despite its conditions is just an amazing example of how God can use us anywhere He plants us.
In Psalm 63:1-4. David wrote, “God, you are my God; I eagerly seek you. I thirst for you; my body faints for you in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water. So I gaze on you in the sanctuary to see your strength and your glory. My lips will glorify you because your faithful love is better than life. So I will bless you as long as I live; at your name, I will lift up my hands.”
The world we live in could be equated to a desert.
It’s a miserable, harsh world where suffering, hurt, and heartache flourish.
Yet, we can bloom and grow.
Not because of ideal conditions or anything we do, but the answer is in verse two…
“So I gaze on you in the sanctuary to see your strength and your glory.”
We survive the harsh realities of life by looking to the strength and glory of God…
We glorify Him because He is bigger and better than the world.
We praise Him because He alone is worthy of praise.
He is the source of our strength and ability to keep going, no matter what our circumstances.
And it’s not on our strength, but because He is the source of the Living Water that sustains us.
Today, as you pray, thank God for being able to grow us and use us in spite of our circumstances and conditions.
Ask the Holy Spirit to sustain you with the Living Water of Jesus and to help you to keep looking to Him for all you need.

Colossians, Ephesians, James, Matthew, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt, Proverbs, Psalm

6.1.19 Praise & Prayer Prompt: Speak Up (But Pray First)

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• We all know the saying, “Open mouth, insert foot.”
I’ve been there more times than I can count and often, it’s not so much “Open mouth, insert foot,” as it is, “Open mouth, insert a shoe store.”
We all know what it is to have our mouths work faster than our brains.
It’s completely understandable why James called the tongue “a restless evil, full of deadly poison” in James 3:2-10.
So many problems in the world are caused by restless chatter when the stillness of silence would have been far more beneficial.
The signature verse today comes from Psalm 141:3 and says, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!”
It’s a prayer I pray frequently, paraphrased of course because I’m not as articulate as David.
My version is more like, “Lord, please let me know when to shut up and please don’t let me say something stupid.”
I pray frequently for God to give me the right words…
Whether I’m speaking to someone who has a vastly different set of values than I do…
Or trying to explain something…
Or trying NOT to say what I really want to say…
The words we speak matter and we know that better than ever in our easily-offended society.
And it’s for that reason that so many Christians stay silent.
They don’t know what to say or they are afraid of offending or sounding stupid.
Y’all, God gave us the gift of speech and we need to use it.
But we have to regularly incorporate David’s prayer into our prayer lives.
Left to our own devices, our mouths can get us into trouble.
We need to ask the Holy Spirit to guide our words.
Proverbs 16:4 equates gentle words to a honeycomb while in Colossians 4:6, it says, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
Salt enhances flavors and Jesus told us we are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13).
We are meant to use our words to bring peace when there is strife…
To bring healing when there is sorrow…
To bring love when there is hated.
And in Ephesians 4:29, we are told, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Let’s not be afraid to speak up, but instead, ask our Heavenly Father to guide our words.
Today, as you pray, thank God for the gift of speech and the ability to communicate.
Thank Him that with your voice, you can pray, and lift up praises to Him.
Ask the Holy Spirit to guide every word that you speak that they will be God-honoring, kind, gentle, and a reflection of grace and goodness.

Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt, Proverbs, Psalm

5.26.19 Praise & Prayer Prompt: Bible Verse Mashup

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Have you ever heard of a song mashup?
It’s where they take two songs and blend them together to create something new.
Today, we’re going to mash up two Bible verses—Psalm 119:105 and Proverbs 22:6.
I’ll include the scripture in a moment, but I can tell you now that these aren’t verses that seem to be super-related in topic.
But they went hand-in-hand for me yesterday.
I was driving over to my mom’s house when Amy Grant’s 1984 song, “Thy Word” came on the radio.
Y’all, I haven’t heard this song or even thought about it in well over 20 years.
Yet, I knew all the words as I sang along (very badly…it’s called a “joyful noise” and my vocal cords take that literally).
The song is based on our first verse—Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
A beautiful and timeless truth of God’s Holy Bible.
As the song wrapped up, another Biblical truth occurred to me which we find in our second verse, Proverbs 22:6.
It says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Y’all probably get tired of me referring to my prodigal past, but it’s part of my story.
Despite being raised in church, going a minimum of three times a week and attending a private, Christian school, I did walk away for the better part of two decades.
But the promise of Proverbs 22:6 held true.
My return to my faith wasn’t some big, dramatic story.
It came simply because I finally recognized how spiritually malnourished I was and I needed Jesus in my life every day…
I needed (and always need) the Bread of Life and The Living Water that only He can provide.
Anyway, I love it when God does that—shows me the reality of truth found directly in His word.
It was a combination of that reminder of God’s word offering guidance and the promise that when children are taught what’s right, it will stay with them.
It spoke so loudly to me yesterday, I had to share it.
Today, as you pray, thank God for His timeless word that we can write on our hearts (Psalm 119:11) and have available to us for guidance throughout all the days of our life.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you keep your eyes on Jesus with every step you take.