30 Days of Prayer.
 
Introduction
There has never been a spiritual awakening in any country or locality that did not begin with united prayer.” –Dr. A. T. Peterson
 

Murders are on the rise, racial division has grown deeper, the moral fiber of the population is unraveling, and church attendance threatens the survival of the church itself. This is the not the description of the social and spiritual concerns of the 21st century. This was the condition of the newly-formed United States in the 1800’s.

In response, clergy began gathering across denominational lines, for a revival that would change hearts and lives. They were praying for this young nation, that had just won a miracle war against Britain, to return to God. They were praying for God’s divine intervention.

They gathered together, because they knew the power of agreement or united prayer. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (II Chronicles 7:14) In answer to their prayers was the Second Great Awakening.

Their concerns are our concerns. Their frustrations are our frustrations. Their answers must be our answers, tapping into personal and corporate prayer; uniting with others, believing together, and expecting together.

That’s what this 30-day devotional is about. It is about practicing the discipline of daily prayer, but more. It is about uniting in prayer. Even when we might not be in the same proximity, when we pray, agreeing about the same thing, we can release God’s power in that arena.

Jesus said, “I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 18:19).
 
may 2nd•Persistence

Jesus said, “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

Today starts a 30-day focus on prayer. The challenge is to set aside time every day to read the devotion and then pray for the topic of the devotion. Of course, you can, and I hope you will, pray beyond the daily prayer focus.

The temptation might be to delay praying or to skip a day, and even to stop all together. This 30-day challenge requires persistence and discipline. I suggest picking a time of day when you will pray and set a goal of how much time you will spend in prayer.

If you miss your goal or forget to pray all together, don’t give up and don’t try to catch up. Just read the devotion for the day and pray accordingly. This is something that God wants us all to do. So, ask for the endurance you need. Today, ask God to empower you to be dedicated to praying every day for the next 30 days.
 
may 3rd•community

In the shortest parable in the Bible, Jesus talks about a woman who adds flour to yeast to make bread.  And we want to say, “Yeah, once mixed in, you can’t separate it back out.” But the meaning was much deeper to the disciples who knew about yeast and baking bread.

We get yeast in powdered form at the grocery, store it in the fridge and reconstitute it with warm water and a sweetener. At the time of Christ, a woman would receive a pot of yeast as a “house-warming” or wedding gift. It needed as much care as a baby. She had to find the perfect spot in the house to store it because it is heat, moisture and light sensitive. She had to tend to it daily to make sure it was still alive, but not growing (or it might take over the kitchen) and not fermenting (it has a unique smell when it is good and when it is bad).
Yeast required a connection to community. If a woman had company coming, she’d need more yeast to make extra bread and she’d have to borrow from a neighbor. If she neglected her yeast and it died, same thing. And you can bet that didn’t happen too often.
Once a year, all Jews had to remove all yeast and yeast breads from the household for thirty days. God protected them from a bad batch of yeast that could spread through an entire community. But the women must have groaned at the end of the thirty days because they had to start all over growing a new starter batch.
Yeast requires warm, moisture and a sweetener to mix with the flour in bread. This tells us that our faith, when we are new to it, needs a little tempering when we share it. Because yeast is a living creature, it digests the sweetener and produce carbon dioxide gas which bubbles in the dough and raises it, creating air pockets that make bread fluffy and light. Unleavened bread lacks the air bubbles, and creates a flat or pita bread, the first “fast food.” You could survive on it, but you wouldn’t want to make it a steady diet. Bread had to be made daily or every other day because it didn’t store well in their climate. It molded quickly and attracted vermin.
Pray for your community and those who lead in government.
 
may 4th•obedience

“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” (James 1:22)

What are you doing that you know you is a poor choice?

What aren’t you doing that you know you should be doing?

Over the course of the next few weeks, take some steps to change. That begins by inviting God to be part of your change. Ask God to give you the desire, willingness, and strength to “stop doing” and “start doing.” They say the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Today, make that first step.
 
may 5th•growth

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.  There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.  So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”

 When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

And Moses said, “Here I am.”

(Exodus 3: 1-4)        

Is there anyone whom God cannot or will not use for His purposes?  Moses apparently thought he was one man God couldn’t possibly use.  God said to him, “So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites out of Egypt.”

Moses answered, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

Moses continued to argue, complain and whine in spite of several miracles that would have convinced anyone it was truly God asking him to confront Pharaoh. 

Jonah didn’t even ask questions.  When God told him to do something, he caught the nearest boat out of town. The Bible is full of whiners, losers, cowards, failures, but God turned them into heroes of the faith. His method for working in the world is through people like Moses, Jonah and you. 

But only if you make yourself available. Growing in your relationship with God happens when you make yourself available to him. Transformation comes when you yield to his agenda, when you listen to him, not to your own inner voice, when you leave your comfort zone to share his love with the least of his people.  He will teach you to rely on his strength rather than your own.  As you witness God at work in your life and others’ lives, pray that he will show you how to reach out with love to a needy world.
 
may 6th•prayer

What happens when God doesn’t answer your prayers the way you want?  Do you try to rationalize God’s response with:

  • God’s answer isn’t always my answer.
  • God wasn’t listening.
  • He has his reasons for saying “no;”
  • God’s timing isn’t my timing; God knows best.

Or perhaps you blame your prayers:

  • My faith isn’t strong enough.
  • I didn’t pray AND fast.
  • I didn’t pray enough.
  • I’m not supposed to understand God’s reasoning.

Then you are reminded to wait. To pray more. You give up on prayer and God and faith. You move on. Tackle the problem, the need, the uncertainty on your own. But nothing addresses your hurt, confusion, fear, distrust, and grief when prayer fails you.

Prayer cannot be a list of “give-me’s.” “God, this is what I want, how I want it and, don’t forget when I want it, now is good.”

Drop the laundry or Christmas list of requests.  Prayer should be a two-way dialogue with God. A way to share what’s on your mind, what’s happening in your life, what hurts, what concerns, what gives joy. Prayer is a dialogue that shows God how much you care about Him and His creation, how much you want to share with Him, how much you trust Him to provide for you. Prayer gives God the opportunity to share Himself with you.  Prayer is the language of the soul and the heart, uniquely linking you to God.

When His answers don’t go your way, prayer is the opportunity for you to grow, to learn, to mature in grace. Prayer is never wasted. Prayer never fails. 

Pray today for those who do not know how to pray and the persons who will teach them.

Romans 11:29 “God doesn’t take back the gifts he has given or forget about the people he has chosen.” (CEV)
 
may 7th•courage

What challenge are you facing?

What open door do you need to go through?

What fear are you wrestling with?

The Jordan River was ahead of them. If they could somehow get over it, there were walled cities and well-equipped armies. Israel was the long-shot the odds makers bet against. What they didn’t know was that God was their ace- in-the-hole, if only they could be courageous enough to trust him.

“Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”  (Deuteronomy 31:6)

The courage they found, you and I can also ask God for. However, it will only be yours when you act on faith. Whether it was crossing the Jordan or facing a giant, the victory only came when they acted on their faith. For you, that may mean making the application, having the conversation, or taking the next step toward your dream. It all begins in prayer and acting on faith.
 
may 8th•faithfulness

One definition of faithfulness is being true to your word and keeping your commitments.

As a dad, I did my best not to make promises I couldn’t keep. The problem was, sometimes I made promises that could have kept, but weren’t. It wasn’t deliberate; the demands of the urgent robbed the plans for the important.

As a Christian, the same thing happens. You have intentions of volunteering to serve but then other things get in the way. You were planning on waking up for the men’s group, but the guests left so late the night before. You intended to read the devotion every day but some days you just didn’t.

Today, rather that excuse unfaithfulness, take steps to be person of your word. That starts by asking God to forgive you. Ask him to give you the wisdom to commit wisely and then the integrity to keep your word. Ask for the strength to step up and show up.

If you do, your kids will thank you, your friends will respect you, and most importantly God will bless you.

You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Begin the joyous tasks I have assigned to you. Matthew 5:21  
 
may 9th•Engage

Work. Sports. Day off. Bored. Home demand. Out-of-touch

Those are just some of the reasons people disengage from the church. Sometimes it’s as simple as moving to a city and not connecting to a new church. Other times the church is competing with kids activities and our social calendar. Most recently it’s a pandemic that makes church more of an afterthought.

The writer of Hebrews makes a short but powerful statement.

Hebrews 10:25 Let us not neglect our church meetings, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.

God calls us to live in fellowship with people of like-minded faith. Most of the week, Christians work with, play with, and live beside people who at best are indifferent to Christ and at worst are hostile to the Christian faith. That’s why Hebrews tells us to stay engaged with the local church.

To be engaged means more that tuning in online or showing up for a Sunday worship service. It means, worshipping together, whether that means in-person or online. It means agreeing in prayer and taking some mental or actual notes as God’s Word is taught.

Being engaged means serving alongside your brothers and sister in Christ. It means, being connected to a small group, a prayer group or a bible study. It means watching out for one another; sending texts or emails of encouragement. It means caring about someone who is sick or you have not seen for a while

No one grows in isolation. We all need one another’s word of encouragement and even the hard words of correction. Whether you’re worshipping at home or in-person, be engaged. You voice and your gifts are needed. (I Corinthians 14:26)
 
may 10th•gratitude

The following story was posted on Social Media by John Everett.

A female humpback whale had become entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines. She was weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat. She also had hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped around her body, her tail, her torso, a line tugging in her mouth. A fisherman spotted her just east of the Faralon Islands and radioed for help. Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined that she was in such jeopardy, the only way to save her was to dive in and untangle her…. a very dangerous proposition.

They worked for hours with curved knives and eventually freed her. When she was free, the divers say she swam in what seemed like joyous circles. She then came back to each and every diver, one at a time, nudged them, and pushed gently, thanking them. Some said it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives.

Who do you need to thank for surrounding you and helping you get untangled from the things that are binding you. In prayer today, let it begin with God, who is our great liberator, and then extend to those God has used to free you.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6-7)
 
may 11th•missions

Mission work does not begin with a passport, a plane ticket, construction tools, or vacation Bible school curriculum.  God uses missions to help Christians learn to trust him in deeper and profound ways.

Before Jesus told his disciples, Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matt. 2: 19-20), God displayed his missionary heart. Missions is a part of God’s character and his plan, because of his heart for all people.

When we begin to understand that God works through us, as inefficient as we are, we begin to realize that missions is not something we do one week of the year in a foreign country. Missions is a lifestyle choice stemming from the transformation God has brought about in our lives. God uses people to change the world. Missions is all about ordinary people doing extraordinary things to make a difference in the world because they have faith, the size of a mustard see that God is growing.

Missions is not a task or project to accomplish, but the love of Jesus that we must share. Missions can require leaving your own comfort zone, utilizing your own resources of time and money to go, sometimes, into harm’s way for people you don’t know. Missions puts us in places where people need God. Those places can be on another continent or just down the road. Missions gives us an opportunity to form a deeper relationship with God and to share our experiences with and knowledge of God with others. Missions is not an activity to be added to life, but a lifestyle of serving God by serving his people.

Pray today for the missions and missionaries of this church.
 
may 12th•gifts

 “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the gift of wisdom…to another knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another…and to someone else the gift of healing. He gives one person the gift of miracles…to another the gift of prophesy…while to someone else the gift of discernment. Finally, to some he gives the gift of tongues and…another the gift of interpretation.”

 (I Corinthians 12:7-11)

There are nine gifts of the Holy Spirit, also called the miraculous gifts, due to their nature. These gifts are given to serve the Body of Christ, the Church. A person who has one of more of these gifts should not take them for granted, but instead use them with humility. These gifts are given by God and at his discretion. It has nothing to do with being somehow “worthy.”

If we desire one or more of these gifts, we are told to ask for them. “Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—especially the ability to prophesy.” (I Corinthians 14:1) Just because you ask does not mean God will grant your request. So today, in prayer, ask and keep asking until God gives according to his grace and purpose.
 
may 13th•Worship

Eritrea is a little country on the Horn of Africa, bordering Ethiopia and Sudan. It’s only been around for about 60 years and the total population is just 5 million people. For perspective, Florida has a population of over 20 million. Eritrea claims to protect religious freedom but it’s a sham. Helen Berhane is just one example. She was a singer and worship leader in an

outlawed church in Eritrea. That is until she was arrested for being one of the leaders.

Government officials thought that would be it, but Helen kept singing in prison. To punish her for continuing to worship, they locked Helen in a shipping container for 10 months. To make it harder for Helen, they put a mentally ill person in with her.

When asked how she survived those months, she recounted:
First, when she tortured me, pulled my hair, many things, I say, “God, what can I learn from this?” Because you can’t ask God, “Why you did this for me?” He is such a loving God, that is why He died on the cross, so it is very silly to ask that kind of question. I am saying, “What can I learn from this?” So, through those 10 months, she kept singing. She worshipped her way through it. She was eventually released and given asylum in England. In England where worship was expressed through serving God by serving people. She has become an advocate for the persecuted church in Eritrea and throughout the world.

Whatever you’re going through, sing. Whatever difficulties you’re facing, praise. Wherever you find yourself today, look for ways to worship God by serving others. Make today a day of worship.
 
may 14th•Serve

“Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives.” (Titus 3:14)

Notice, living a productive life is linked to serving others. Serving elevates someone above myself. Serving forces me to see pain and work to relieve it. Serving is inconvenient, costly and Christlike.

It’s easier to see physical needs. Emotional and relational needs can be hidden, all the while destroying the person, inch by inch. The only way to see those needs is to get close to people and let people get close to you. That means letting down your guard, being real with people. When you do, people are more prone to be real with you. That’s when healing can begin to happen. Only then can you be part of it.

Who has God has put in your life that needs His healing. Who do you know that needs God’s touch and His provision. Today, ask God to show you who you can serve, physically, emotionally, or relationally. Then look for opportunities to meet that need. 
 
may 15th•purpose

There is a story about three trees planted side by side in a forest.  They started as small saplings and grew up proud and tall, stretching their limbs to the sky.  They tried to outdo each other, each one wanting to be the tallest and best, in order to glorify their Creator, God.  Each would say, “See, I am the tallest and best.  My branches reach high into the sky.  I hold them up to praise God.  Surely, He will bless me greatly.”

One afternoon, a man came into the forest and cut down the tallest of the trees.  The tree that had once been so proud was cut up in many small pieces fitted together for a feed trough for animals. The man was very pleased with his feed trough and put it in his stable. 

But the trough complained, “How can I praise and glorify God now?  I am a lowly feed trough in a small barn. I hold hay for animals now.”  How could the trough know that a few months later, a baby would be born and wrapped in rags and laid in the feeding trough, because there was no other bed for him?

The two remaining trees continued to try to be the tallest and best in their praise of God.  Years later, men came into the forest again and cut down the second tree.  They fashioned its sturdy trunk into long planks and formed them into a boat. 

The tree complained, “I was once tall and straight and lifted my branches to praise God.  Now I float on the water and smell like fish.”  Little did the tree know about the man, who was a friend of the fishermen. He came to the boat one day and stood on the wide, flat planks to speak about God to a crowd of people sitting on the shore. 

The last tree begged God, “Please forgive my fellow trees. They wanted to praise and glorify you and they did so while they lived here in the forest. But now they are gone and only I am left here to praise you” Shortly after that, it too was cut down and fashioned into a cross.

The cross sobbed in sorrow, “I was once the tallest tree in the forest and lifted my branches higher than any other to praise God. Now, I am a cross on which a man will hang and die.” 

Above the man’s head, there hung a sign which said, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”

All three trees wanted to praise and glorify God, but they didn’t understand that in allowing Him to use them for his purpose, they brought the greatest and best honor to God.  God’s ways don’t always match our plans and goals but allowing Him to use us for his purpose is always the best way to praise and glorify Him. 

Pray for your family and children that God will reveal his purpose in their lives.

“Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruit you will know them.”

Matthew 7: 17‑20
 
may 16th•generosity

Earlier this month, we prayed for the faith to give our tithe (10% of our income). Tithing is the beginning of giving, not the end.

Generosity is different than tithing. Generosity involves seeing a need and then giving to meet the need. Jesus illustrated this in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10). Samaritans hated the Jews and the Jews despised Samaritans. Yet, when a Samaritan came across a Jew who had been beaten up and robbed, the Samaritan generously gave funds to help the man.

Later, Paul bragged about the Philippians who gave beyond what many would call reasonable. They had heard of Paul’s financial plight and rather than look at what they didn’t have, they considered all that God had provided and then gave generously. That is the kind of giving that God rewards.

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”

(II Corinthians 9:6)

it’s so easy to look at our financial obligations and give reasons why we can’t give. Instead, when we hear of a need, we should ask God how to respond. We should always pray, but sometimes, maybe most of the time, our response should be prayer plus something, giving.

Today, pray that God opens your eyes to the needs around you and then gives you a heart of generosity.
 
may 17th•reconciliation 
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Cor. 5: 17-19)

Everyone has held another’s hand (pre-COVID). You’ve held a child’s hand as you crossed the street or shopped in a crowded store to protect them and keep them by your side. You may have held a loved one’s hand during an illness to offer the comfort of your closeness. You probably held the hand of a person you dated or of your spouse as you walked to express your love and joy in your togetherness.

Reconciliation is a formal, churchy word for which the verse from Paul offers a confusing and complicated explanation. More simply expressed, reconciliation puts the hand of another into the hand of God. Putting another person’s hand into God’s hand brings them into a relationship with the God who wants to protect them from harm and wants to remain by their side. He offers comfort in times of stress and wants them to know love and joy in his presence. The message of reconciliation says that God wants to walk hand-in-hand with his people.

How can you reconcile a person to God? You begin with prayer for the person. Pray that their eyes and heart will be opened to hearing about what God has done and is doing in your life. Your shared story of faith can introduce someone to an understanding of trust in God. The step of placing their hand into God’s hand is a step of faith they must take. But you can do the inviting and encouraging. Then stand with them as they accept God’s hand around theirs.

Pray today that God will show you who needs reconciliation with him, and if it’s you, imagine the hand of God reaching out to take your hand in his, and the peace, comfort, joy, love and protection that brings into your life.
 
may 18th•risk

It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 msg)

The faith that Hebrews is talking about is saving faith. Saving faith believes in the existence of God. Then, if I believe God exists, I need to decide how I will respond to that reality. Saving faith believes in the love and supremacy of God, displayed on a cross and evidenced by an empty tomb.

There is another aspect of saving faith that demands living a life of action based on obedience. And that requires risk. The fact is, any Christian who effectively serves God has to be a Risk-Taker
 

Hebrews, chapter 11 documents the Risk-Takers of the OT:

Abraham walked into the unknown…God told him

Isaac broke with social norms…God led him

Jacob worshipped the unseen God…God showed him

Joseph trusted in distant promise…God said so

Moses’ Parents risked their lives…God empowered them

Moses risked his security…God spoke to him

Rahab risked her life…God revealed himself to her

 

Risk is part of life because we don’t know what is around the corner, which is why the biblical word for risk is “faith.” Faith follows Christ boldly into the unknown because there is nothing God does not know. So, what is the unknown to which God is calling you? God will do for you what he did for the saints of old who were willing to take the risk; He met them there.

Pray for faith to meet the risks in your life.
 
may 19th•Global Prayer needs

Around the world, more than 340 million Christians live in places where they experience high levels of persecution, just for following Jesus. 

That’s 1 in 8 believers worldwide.

Not talked about often enough is the need for prayer for Christians in places where they live with the constant threat of death because of their belief in Christ. They share their love for God, and their faith in Him, even when it involves being imprisoned or killed. (North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan) Their lives are at risk simply because they are Christians. (India, Syria, Yemen, Iran, Nigeria)

Frontline workers carry the message of salvation in hostile areas and closed nations, and their request from us is, “Pray for us and the people we reach.” (Sudan, China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Maldives)

They share a message that God gave them uniquely. The same message he gives us, but in different languages for different cultures.  They feel an urgency, intensity, necessity, which we may lack, to go into a world of danger and darkness to reach those who need to know God. (Algeria, Turkey, Mali, Columbia, Mexico, Cuba)

Pray for the mission efforts of our brothers and sisters around the world. Pick one of these countries and concentrate your prayers for Christians in that nation. (Myanmar, Viet Nam, Laos, Mauritania, Uzbekistan)

When we cannot go to help them, when we cannot send money to support them, we can pray for them. So, as you pray today, would you please include Christians in hostile and closed places?  God knows their specific needs and situations.
You may never know whose lives you have touched, or how you have influenced them.  Ask God to show you how to be a ripple for his kingdom, the best ripple you can be. Pray for CenterPointe’s full-time missionaries and mission partners with Jesus Film Project and Beautiful Feet International.
 
may 20th•Listen
Do you ever think that God is silent? You ask for direction and you get none. Friends say things like, “God told me,” or “God led me,” while you feel as if God is light years away from you.

At some point in time, every Christian asks, “How can I hear the voice of God?” Jesus answers, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (Luke 10:27-28)

If you’re a Christ-follower and believe that Jesus made this promise, then why is it so hard to hear his voice?

There is no easy answer. God doesn’t text or use email. Instead, he expects us to position ourselves to hear. We position ourselves to hear when we read our Bible regularly, then contemplate what it says. We begin to hear him when we set aside time for personal devotions and prayer. We learn to hear him and that still, small voice through conversations with him.

Today, in prayer, just listen. Read a few verses from the Bible and then tell God that you’re there to hear his voice and follow his instruction. Meditate on what you read and be aware of God speaking through his Word. As you practice this, day after day, you will learn to hear God’s voice.
 
may 21st•Reach

Have you ever thrown a rock into a pond and watched the ripples you’ve created? The ripples spread out in a circle from the point where the rock splashed into the water.  When there is nothing in the way to stop them, they will go all the way across the pond.  You might not be able to see them as they roll onto a far shore or slap against a boat or rock.  Likewise, you can stand on the shore of a lake with small waves lapping against you and you might not know what caused them. Did someone on the other side of the pond throw a rock into it to send ripples to your side of the lake?

Think about all the people who have touched your life.  You know some of them, like your children, family, and friends.  Others might never know they have had an impact on your life.  Perhaps you had a favorite teacher or Scout leader, or pastor, or friend who was there for you in time of crisis, or mentored you in life skills.  

You, too, have the opportunity to influence the lives of others.  First, by being yourself.  God has given you special gifts and talents for the purpose of loving and serving others.  We all have a place in God’s world, and God will help you to use the gifts and develop the talents he has given you. 

Second, you have to jump into the water.  You can’t create waves and ripples unless you get yourself all wet.  That means you have to get involved in other people’s lives.  You have to commit yourself to work for God’s kingdom. That isn’t always easy or fun and there may not be many rewards. But to make an impact in lives, in the world, you must act.
 
may 22nd•restoration

No one can go through life without some damaged relationships along the way. It’s clear that damaged relationships can hinder our relationship with Christ. That’s why Jesus told us that if we bring a gift to the altar, and then realize we are at odds with someone, we should leave the gift and go make it right.

“First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” (Luke 5:24)

We might not bring gifts to the altar like they did in the first century, but the principle remains the same. In I Peter 3:7, husbands are told to treat their wives with respect, otherwise their prayers might be hindered. Respect for others: that principle runs across all of our relationships.

We are also instructed, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18)

The author of Romans makes it clear that when we take steps toward restoration or reconciliation of relationships, we are not responsible for how other people respond. We are only responsible to do all that we can, with sincere hearts, to ask for and extend forgiveness.

Today, in prayer, whose name is God bringing up to you? Who do you need to call or text? Before tomorrow’s prayer time, reach out and take steps toward restoration.
 
may 23rd•giving

“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!” (Malachi 3:10)

The people in Malachi’s day were in trouble with God. It seems they were robbing God by not bringing their tithe to the temple. A tithe is 10% of the monies we earn through work, investments, or gifts. While their disobedience brought God’s anger, their obedience would bring his blessing.

Sometimes we think we can’t afford to give 10% because we’re just making ends meet now. Yet the same message given in Malachi’s day still to rings true today. It’s the promise of God’s blessing of provision. He gave that same promise to the church in Philippi. “God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) The promise of providence is conditional on our obedience. Today, ask God for the faith to trust him for blessing, as you follow this command
 
may 24th•faith

”As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever,’ says the Lord.”

(Isaiah 59:21)

Well before her husband’s untimely death, Dorothy’s dementia began. When her husband could no longer care for her, she had to move into an assisted living facility and as the Alzheimer’s progressed, into complete care with 24-hr caregivers. Then her husband died. A nearby church added her to a list of shut-ins, and the pastor and visitation team saw her frequently even though she no longer knew who they were. When she died, she left a bequest to the church.

The church’s board set aside 10% of that money for missions, and the Mission Committee dedicated part of the funds for a team to go to a village in a South American country. A team of fifteen worked on a construction project at a church there and provided a Bible School program at a small church in the community.

A little boy attended the program and learned a song about God. “Tu palabra esta dentro de mi, Que no pecaré contra tí.” (“Your word is inside me that I will not sin against you.”) He told his mother Rosa about the songs and crafts and insisted she must come the next day. She’d never been to church, but agreed to visit. The first person she met was an American missionary, who told her of the love of Jesus available to her and her son. Before the Bible school program ended, Rosa prayed with the church’s pastor, and gave her heart to the Lord.
 
may 25th•healing

Does God still heal people?

Why don’t we see healings as in the Bible?

Why doesn’t God answer my prayer for healing?

These and other questions are legitimate concerns when it comes to physical healing, the focus of this devotion. God doesn’t always provide physical healing this side of heaven. In fact, in the Bible, God never promises to heal all of our ailments.

At the same time, God still miraculously heals people. I have prayed for it, seen it and experienced it. So, in prayer, we go boldly to the throne of God (Hebrews 4:16), expecting his divine intervention in our situation (John 16:24). We know that is always for us and never against us. (Romans 8:31). And, we can lean on the grace of God (I Peter 5:10).

Sickness is often our battleground, and prayer is the weapon to win the conflict. James gives us battle strategy that involves others. “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well…” (James 5:14-15)

Where do you need God to touch you for physical healing? Bring it to him prayer and invite others to unite in prayer with you. (The presence of God is uniquely realized, and the power of God is dramatically released when God’s people unite in prayer.) Call the church office and ask a pastor to pray with you. God doesn’t make promises he doesn’t intend to keep. Then keep praying till the answer comes. (Luke 18:1-5)
 
may 26th•serve

The worldwide events of the past year have affected all of us and left us with questions: Why God? What am I supposed to do now? How will life be changed? Where can I serve you best?

And really, aren’t these questions we have always asked?

Esther was a young woman, probably a teen when a Persian king decided to replace his wife and sent emissaries throughout his kingdom to bring attractive young women to the capital so that he could choose one to be his Queen. Esther was an orphan being raised by her cousin Mordecai. When she was summoned, he went along since he was her guardian, but he couldn’t go into the city, so he stayed at the city gates. Mordecai heard about an assassination plot against the king and told Esther who told the king. Mordecai received the king’s favor and that angered Hamman, one of the king’s advisors. Hamman decided to kill all of the Jews in the kingdom and sent out orders to do this, not knowing that Esther and Mordecai were Jews. When Mordecai heard of this persecution of his people, he asked Esther to intercede with the king, telling her she had been placed in her position of royal favor for such a time as this.

We may not necessarily be good at something or an expert, but God has gifted each of us in unique ways so that we might use our passions and talents to serve his people.

Second, we are purposefully placed where God wants us to be. Esther was in a foreign place, without the familiar, without her own bedroom, her friends, her comfort zone, or knowing what her future would be. But her cousin, the man she recognized as a father reminded her that God had positioned her purposefully for such a time as this so that she might save her people.

God has placed you exactly where you are for his purposes. He wants to use you in the here and now, in the trenches with your kids, in your workplace, in your circle of friends, in your church and community. In this time and place.
Finally, Esther was never alone. Mordecai left his home and community to be there for her. You are never alone also. God does not leave you alone. He is constantly connected to you. Even in this time of social distancing. God wants you to be connected to a community of believers because we each have a responsibility to be God’s representative in each other’s lives, and in a world that does not know him. You are where you are, for such as time as this.
Pray for our government officials at the state and national levels.
 
may 27th•presence

Covid has taken its emotional toll. For you, it might be contracting the virus or infection in someone close to you. Many feel the stress of the isolation or the financial impact. Whatever it is, depression is a common denominator. Depression sucks the joy out of the room and the hope out of your life.

The remedy lies in the powerful, living presence of God. “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

As you pray, rest in his presence. At first, you might not feel, but the longer you wait, the more real his presence becomes.

Ask God and keep asking God to make you more aware. May his presence bring you the joy, the encouragement, and the peace that only he can give
 
may 28th•joy

“The joy of the Lord is my Strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

Nehemiah was sent from the court of Babylon to rebuild the city wall in Jerusalem, when exiled residents had returned and rebuilt the temple. They were a people without a wall of protection from wild animals, weather and invaders. A wall would restore protection, dignity and the sense of God’s presence. A wall would allow the people to reorganize civic life, re-create their covenant with God, celebrate their rituals, gather to discuss politics, and connect with neighbors and friends. The wall represented the return to favor in God and normal daily life. The wall restored the commitment to the obligations and relationship of the Covenant.
In rebuilding the wall (in an astonishing 52 days), Nehemiah had to overcome ridicule, anger, discouragement, selfishness, greed and rebellion among the people. His willingness to leave the comforts and status of court, to lead the people, to obey God, to seek to walk in God’s law and to place his faith in God resulted in the completion of the wall. The wall could have been named: The Joy of the Lord.
As the visible sign of the strength of God’s presence in their lives, the restored wall allowed God’s Joy to pour out over the city, restoring dignity, giving protection, allowing the residents to organize life and to return to the covenant relationship with God.
The Joy of the Lord arises from obedience, willingness and dedication to walking in God’s grace and placing our faith in Him so that his joy once again becomes our strength.
Pray for our city, for peace in the streets and safety for those who protect us.
 
may 29th•ministry of presence

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
 and to walk humbly[a] with your God.

(Micah 6:8)

When you give of yourself, your time, and your talent, your presence expresses God’s love in a personal way.  Person-to-person.  You cared enough to give of yourself. When you serve others in a ministry of presence, the task is less important than you being there, offering yourself to the needs of others.

In a ministry of presence, God is asking, “Will you serve me?  No matter what the task, will you serve my people? Will you take on an attitude of servanthood?”

Serving others puts their needs ahead of your own, then goes a step further with an attitude of privilege and humility.  It says, “I am honored to serve you.”  Serving may not be glamorous, fun, easy or rewarding, but it is always a privilege.

Ask God to give you an attitude of servanthood, to teach you to see every opportunity to serve others as a privilege and to understand that your presence is often more important than the task. Pray today for those who serve in our church.
 
may 30th•wisdom

When we think of wisdom, we might remember Solomon who was reported to be the wisest man ever. He asked God for wisdom and then he presided, as a judge, over the case in which two women claimed the same baby. Without DNA testing. There seemed to be no correct answer and besides that, he had to deal with two crying women and one crying baby. That gift of wisdom he had asked and prayed for saved the day.

Wisdom, in the Bible, goes beyond being intelligent and making correct judgments. Proverbs tells us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 9:10) The story of Solomon suggests that wisdom is the foundation for freedom from fear and strength to face life’s struggles, the courage and faith to continue when we are attacked.

I once asked God for patience, and he gave me trials and difficulties to teach me patience. If God uses life’s challenges to impart wisdom, then I would ask for credit for 2020. Wisdom asks the question, “How do we face uncertainty and troubles?” and answers, “With God.”

Wisdom encourages us to go to God for the little and the big stuff, to ask for courage and faith, to pray for freedom from fear to make correct judgments. As God today for wisdom that begins with the fear of the Lord, and pray that the wisdom and understanding that he grants, you will continue to seek him in times of trouble.

Pray for our schools, teachers, administrators and students.
 
may 31st•now what

Usually when we think of a habit, we think of things that are bad for us. The nicotine that holds us, the alcohol that calls us or the drug that rules us. To break a habit takes determination, endurance, help from others and, I would add, the power of God.

If you have spent the last 30 days, or the bulk of the 30 days, working and praying through these devotionals, you have set a pattern that has become a habit. If you have applied what you have read and prayed, then you have set a pattern of incorporating what you have learned into your daily life. That is exactly what God intended. That is called personal and spiritual growth. It is being a devoted disciple of Jesus Christ.

Paul had endured hardships, started churches, and he had already written letters that would make up our New Testament. Now, an old man, he said he wasn’t done serving, growing, and changing.

One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)

Of all the New Testament writers, Paul was the most educated, the most accomplished, and the strongest theologian. If anyone had cause to rest on his laurels, it was Paul. But instead, with focus determination, he went further with God. With the encouragement of the Philippian church, he intended to reach new territories.  Through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, he would press on to the goal of being all that God had created him to be. You can be a Paul. By the grace of God, you too can grow in God. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, you will keep on growing and changing. As you do, the new habit you have begun will deal a death blow to the bad habits of the past. Like Paul, with Christ-given, renewed determination you will become the person God created you to be.