The Heart of a Child: A Gift From God

Praying for children has been heavy on my heart during this current season of schools and churches closed with the need for social distancing, self isolation, and stay at home orders.  I pray often that families will be able to shield children to some extent from the negative emotions that cling to this COVID-19 pandemic.  This is day two of the devotions from my “The Heart of a Child” book to help each of us pray for a child of any age, including our age.

How can my prayers for my children be more effective?  What does God want for my child?  What does God want for me as His child?  What qualities should I grow in to become more like the child God created me to be?  How would my prayer life change if I consistently approached God with the confidence of being His child?  Through time in prayer, this devotional journal was written to help you understand, and live, some important traits of living and praying with the heart of a child.

Here is day two with an important reminder to see yourself and the children around you as being a gift from God.

A Gift From God

Then Esau looked up and saw the women and children. “Who are these with you?” he asked.  Jacob answered, “They are the children God has graciously given your servant.”
Genesis 33:5 (NIV)

What makes a gift most valuable to you; the item itself or the one who gave it?  Why?  Have you ever received something that you didn’t want or didn’t know what to do with, but later came to realize its value as you began to understand the purpose of the giver?  Explain.  Do you know a child of any age that feels less valuable than the people around them?  Is that child sometimes you?  Why?  How does what others believe about you change what you believe about yourself?  How would having people recognize that every child is a gift from God change the way children of any age see themselves?

I have a very valuable collection of items on my shelves and window sill at work.  Yet, when my office was broken into several years ago, not one of those items were taken.  It is not until I tell the stories behind each gift that others begin to understand the value of both the item and the giver.  In a similar way, I believe it is not only important that every child recognizes that they are a gift from God, but that we are more deliberate in seeing the life of everyone, including our self, as a gift from God.

As you pray for a child of any age, ask God to help you see them as His gift.  Pray that each person would see their life as a gift from God.  Pray for the wisdom needed to help others see children as God’s gift.  Ask God to help the children you are praying for know that they are valuable to Him and that He has created them to be valuable to others.  Pray that we would value one another based on the One who has given them rather than on what they can or cannot do.

In prayer,

Tom  

The Heart of a Child: Directed Toward God

Praying for children has been heavy on my heart during this current season of schools and churches closed with the need for social distancing, self isolation, and stay at home orders.  I pray often that families will be able to shield children to some extent from the negative emotions that cling to this COVID-19 pandemic.  After spending the past nineteen days sharing the devotions from my “Holding On and Letting Go” book, I’ve decided to move on to sharing the devotions from my “The Heart of a Child” book to help each of us pray for a child of any age, including our age.

How can my prayers for my children be more effective?  What does God want for my child?  What does God want for me as His child?  What qualities should I grow in to become more like the child God created me to be?  How would my prayer life change if I consistently approached God with the confidence of being His child?  Through time in prayer, this devotional journal was written to help you understand, and live, some important traits of living and praying with the heart of a child.

Here is day one with an important reminder to pray about being directed toward God.

Directed Toward God

“Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.   For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”
Genesis 18:18-19 (NIV)

When do you find yourself most in need of direction?  Who do you go to when you need direction?  Why?  Who are some of the people that have helped you along in your journey toward God?  How have they helped?  What direction have they given?  What made their input credible?  When you pray that someone would be directed toward God, are there ways that God might use you to be at least part of the answer to that prayer?  How?  Who are you praying for today that needs to be directed toward God?

As parents, it doesn’t usually take long for us to start to realize just how much direction our children will need.  And it isn’t just the amount of direction needed that gets our attention, but the continuing nature of that direction often makes it appear that the need will never end.  As we provide direction that promotes safety, education, manners, kindness, and so many other things, nothing is more important than our children being directed toward God.  I ought to warn you though, when we pray for a child of any age to be directed toward God, He is most likely going to turn a mirror toward us and ask how our life directs people to Him.

As you pray for a child of any age, pray that they would be directed toward God.  Pray for the courage and wisdom to be part of the directing process as God grants the opportunities.  Pray to have a life that constantly seeks to be directed toward God so that you would be more aware of the direction others need.  Pray that you would follow accurate direction, according to God’s Word, and that others would find their direction based in it as well.

In prayer,

Tom  

Holding On and Letting Go:  Hold On To God!

Holding On and Letting Go: Hold On To God!

In light of the current “chaos” being caused by both the known and unknown facets of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), here is the nineteenth, and final, day of the daily devotions from the prayer-based devotional I wrote to be used within disaster relief situations.  I believe many of the same lessons we need to learn when dealing with recovery from a tornado, hurricane, or earthquake can be helpful as we get through, and recover from, the current levels of chaos we are experiencing.

Here is day nineteen with an important reminder to hold on to God above all else even as He holds on to you.

Hold On To God!

“For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” 
Isaiah 41:13 (NIV)

Hold On To God

Have you ever felt abandoned by people?  Are there people who likely feel that you have abandoned them?  Have you ever felt abandoned by God?  Why?  What do you do when you feel alone?  How difficult is it to hold on to God when you find yourself in the midst of chaos?  Why?  What comfort does God give you when you do hold on to Him in the midst of disaster?

Recovery is rarely as fast as we would like and often never as complete as we would hope.  It is in the process of overcoming that we must hold on to God every step of the way.  God has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us, but I know a lot of people who live life distant from God — many as a reaction to some disaster in their life.  The problem isn’t that God left, but rather that the enemy convinces us that God doesn’t care so we might as well let go.  Holding on to God is a matter of faith and sometimes we just need to join the person in scripture in saying, “Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!”  Even when it is unclear if and when life will ever be “normal” again, holding on to God will give us a sure foundation for whatever the days ahead will bring.  Yes, there will likely be people that abandon us and even people that we abandon, but we must be careful to not let our failures define God.  As we hold on to God we find that He also has a firm hold on us with a desire to see us through the troubles of life.  When we hold on to God in the midst of our chaos, we find that we not only have a point of stability in our life but that He will use us to help others see Him as the reason for our hope.

As you pray, thank God for always being there for you to hold on to.  Pray that you would not allow the actions or inaction of people to entice you into letting go of God.  Pray that you would hold on to God in such a way that He provides hope to you and to those around you.

In prayer,

Tom  

Holding On and Letting Go:  Let Go Of Pride

Holding On and Letting Go: Let Go Of Pride

In light of the current “chaos” being caused by both the known and unknown facets of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), here is day eighteen of the daily devotions from the prayer-based devotional I wrote to be used within disaster relief situations.  I believe many of the same lessons we need to learn when dealing with recovery from a tornado, hurricane, or earthquake can be helpful as we get through, and recover from, the current levels of chaos we are experiencing.

Here is day eighteen with an important reminder to let go of the pride which keeps you from seeking, and seeing, the help God wants to provide.

Let Go Of Pride

“Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.”
Proverbs 13:10 (NIV)

Let Go Of Pride

Are you a prideful person?  Is pride always bad?  Explain.  Do you like asking for help?  Why?  Do you ever give up on something when you know it could be done if you had a little help?  Why?  Are there things you expect others to do that you won’t?  Why?  How will letting go of pride help both you and others as you live in the midst of chaos?

For many, one of the hardest things to do is to ask for help because it requires us to admit we can’t do something on our own.  Pride wants to isolate us from those that God may well have surrounded us with for the very purpose of providing the help we desperately need.  Letting go of pride will help us not only admit our need, but it open us up to allowing others to help us in ways that perhaps only they can.  In the fog of disaster, pride can also creep in and say, “I didn’t deserve this.”  While true or not, the problem with such a statement is that it focuses on self rather than on the shared loss by all that experience the same, or similar, disaster.  When our focus is on what we did or didn’t deserve, we will rarely lift our eyes far enough to see the shared suffering that is experienced by many around us.  Pride is a tool of isolation as it attempts to lift us up above everyone else.  When we let go of pride, we can not only see those around us who are also struggling, we can often see ways that we can help them even as we ourselves are being helped.  It is when we replace pride with humility that we find ourselves lifted up by God in order to be His shining light in the midst of chaos.  Letting go of pride brings hope as it helps us love people as Jesus does.

As you pray, ask God to help you examine yourself for any traces of pride that lifts yourself above someone else.  Pray that God would help you remove all elements of pride that keep you from asking for and receiving the help you need.  Pray that you would let go of pride as you learn and practice humility while seeking to live like Jesus.

In prayer,

Tom  

Holding On and Letting Go:  Hold On To Memories

Holding On and Letting Go: Hold On To Memories

In light of the current “chaos” being caused by both the known and unknown facets of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), here is day seventeen of the daily devotions from the prayer-based devotional I wrote to be used within disaster relief situations.  I believe many of the same lessons we need to learn when dealing with recovery from a tornado, hurricane, or earthquake can be helpful as we get through, and recover from, the current levels of chaos we are experiencing.

Here is day seventeen with an important reminder to hold on to the memories of what God has done in the past even as you make new memories of what He is doing now.

Hold On To Memories

“And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.”
2 Peter 1:15 (NIV)

Hold On To Memories

What is the earliest memory that you have?  Is it a good memory?  How important are memories to you?  Why?  Are there things people tell you about that you wish you could remember?  Why?  What are some things that help you hold on to the important things you ought to remember?  How will holding on to memories help you have hope in the midst of your current chaos?

There are some losses that simply can’t be fixed or restored to the way things were before.  Whether we sit in the rubble of a destroyed home or at the graveside of a child, the realization often hits that nothing will ever be the same.  Holding on to memories in the midst of chaos can be a good thing — if you have good memories to hold on to.  If not, perhaps it is time to make some good memories that will help carry you through the chaos you are experiencing.  Throughout scripture, it is apparent that God is very aware of the forgetfulness of mankind.  He is also aware of how important it is to remember the things He has done, so He often gave instructions to His people to set up feasts, monuments, meals, and other means to serve as reminders not just of what He has done, but also reminders to share with others what He has done.  Our memories are what carries us through the hours of darkness as we await restoration — whether the temporary restoration from our current disaster or the permanent restoration in eternity.  As we hold on to the memories of God’s work not only throughout history, but His work specifically in our life, we are reminded of His faithfulness that can carry us through our chaos.

As you pray, ask God to help you recall the memories of His working in your life.  Pray that you would not just hold on to the memories, but that you would share them with others.  Pray that you would find comfort in the memories you have — even memories of things that have been lost.  Pray that you would hold on to memories in a way that brings hope for the future.

In prayer,

Tom  

Holding On and Letting Go:  Let Go of Doubt

Holding On and Letting Go: Let Go of Doubt

In light of the current “chaos” being caused by both the known and unknown facets of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), here is day sixteen of the daily devotions from the prayer-based devotional I wrote to be used within disaster relief situations.  I believe many of the same lessons we need to learn when dealing with recovery from a tornado, hurricane, or earthquake can be helpful as we get through, and recover from, the current levels of chaos we are experiencing.

Here is day sixteen with an important reminder to look beyond the doubts that creep into your mind as you learn to trust God fully even in uncertain times.

Let Go of Doubt

“But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”
James 1:6 (NIV)

Let Go Of Doubt

How confident do you tend to be?  What is this confidence level based on?  What types of things are most likely to destroy your confidence?  Do you have doubt?  Has your current situation increased your doubts?  Why?  Do the doubts related to the uncertainty you face make you question if recovery is even possible?  What would it take for you to let go of doubt so that you can find hope?

For many, disaster can fill us with doubt so quickly that we lose hope that anything will ever be okay again.  While uncertainty in life is a given, serious doubt has a way of growing and infecting us way beyond that which is unknown.  When we allow our doubts to grow, we find that we begin to doubt if anyone even cares and those thoughts will eventually lead us to doubt God’s love.  When doubt fills our mind, it isn’t long before every thought we have is filtered through that doubt.  Letting go of doubt doesn’t remove all uncertainty, but it can open our minds to being able to trust both people and God more fully.  When doubt no longer has control of our thoughts, we are set free to walk by faith as we trust in God.  We may not know where the immediate help that we need will come from, but we trust that God will be with us both now and forevermore.  Letting go of doubt doesn’t mean that we all of a sudden get all of the answers we are looking for, but it means we no longer allow the lack of answers to have control over us.  Letting go of doubt allows us to be filled with a faith that trusts God to provide whatever we ask according to His will.

As you pray, ask God to help you evaluate how much the uncertainties of life have grown into doubt in your mind.  Pray that you would learn to face the unknown with faith rather than doubt.  Pray that God would help you seek His will as you walk, and ask, by faith each day.  Pray that you would have greater hope in the midst of chaos as you let go of doubt.

In prayer,

Tom  

Holding On and Letting Go:  Hold On To the Goal

Holding On and Letting Go: Hold On To the Goal

In light of the current “chaos” being caused by both the known and unknown facets of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), here is day fifteen of the daily devotions from the prayer-based devotional I wrote to be used within disaster relief situations.  I believe many of the same lessons we need to learn when dealing with recovery from a tornado, hurricane, or earthquake can be helpful as we get through, and recover from, the current levels of chaos we are experiencing.

Here is day fifteen with an important reminder to keep your eyes fixed beyond the temporary as you hold fast to the eternal goal.

Hold On To the Goal

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”
Philippians 3:12 (NIV)

Hold On To the Goal

What are your goals in life?  What is your primary goal?  What are you doing to reach your goals?  Have you ever had a goal that was important to you at one time but you have quit pursuing?  Why?  As you look at your current situation, what is your goal for today?  Why?  What goal do you need to hold on to in order for you to have hope in the midst of your current chaos?

Life is full of distractions for everyone, but for those in the midst of the chaos of disaster, the temptation to lose sight of life’s goals becomes even greater.  In fact, sometimes it is critical that we develop daily goals that are manageable, even while we keep an eye on the eternal goal that ought to guide our life.  If our ultimate goal is to take hold of the eternal life to which God has called us, then perhaps we ought to consider what the pursuit of that looks like each day in the midst of our disaster and recovery.  Cutting through the fog of chaos often requires a flexibility that makes it easy to lose sight of not only the eternal goal, but the short term goals that get us beyond the disaster and into recovery.  When our plans are changed by situations and circumstances beyond our control, it can be easy to question whether any of our goals are even attainable.  The answer to that question will have a lot to do with the source of those goals.  Disaster has a way of refining our goals like little else can.  When so much is lost, it can be difficult to have a goal beyond just getting through another day.  Yet when we hold on not only to the goal of getting through the day but also to the eternal goal we most long for, we find the hope needed to keep going.

As you pray, ask God to help you examine the goals you think most important.  Pray that you would evaluate all of your goals in light of the eternal goal that God has taken hold of you for.  Pray that you would hold on to the goals that God has for you even as you endure the chaos of life.

In prayer,

Tom