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Apr 14 19

When We Miss God

by J. M. Farro

   “I do nothing without consulting the Father.”  John 5:30 NLT

   I recently heard a godly man say, “The problems you are facing today are a direct result of your failure to seek God’s wisdom in the past.”  As I gave some thought to his bold statement, I realized that there was a lot of truth in it.  And I immediately began thinking of how it applied to my current car situation.

   A few years ago, my husband, Joe, decided to buy an extended warranty for our oldest car.  He had figured everything out on paper, reasoning that this plan was going to save us a lot of money in the long run.  The only problem was that he didn’t pray about it before he handed more than $2,000 over to this insurance company.  And when our car broke down and needed almost $3,000 worth of repairs, this company refused to honor our warranty.  After several weeks of pleading and demanding, we faced the painful reality that we had been swindled.

   As I sought God about the matter, I asked Him to forgive Joe and me for failing to seek His wisdom and guidance before we shelled out so much money for that auto warranty.  And I asked Him to come to our rescue, even though we didn’t deserve it.  Soon afterwards, we got a call from the manufacturer of our vehicle, saying that they would pay for more than 90% of our repair bill.  And we thanked God for His mercy and grace.

   In John 5:30 (NLT), Jesus says, “I do nothing without consulting the Father.”  If we would follow the Savior’s example, we could save ourselves a world of unnecessary loss, disappointment, and regret.  We could even save a lot of time and money.  While God can, and often does, redeem the mistakes we make, He would much rather keep us out of trouble in the first place – IF we would just seek His wisdom and guidance when we have a decision to make.

   What is it that the Lord desires you to consult Him about today?

   Lord, when I have decisions or plans to make, help me to turn to You for Your perfect wisdom and direction.  Guard me from depending upon my own reasoning and rationale, which could lead to making costly mistakes.  Thank You that as I learn to consult You and seek Your perspective for all of my purchases, plans, and projects, I will save time, money, and energy in the long run!

   *Join the J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with all-new mini devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals. You can access this group by clicking here!

   *For autographed books, check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro page by clicking here!

   *Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

Apr 7 19

Don’t Dwell on the Past

by J. M. Farro

   “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.”  Isaiah 43:18 NIV

   The house that I grew up in is up for sale right now.  My dad has been dead for almost 22 years, and my mom passed away five months ago.  Our old house has been cleaned out so thoroughly that it looks very much like it did when it was new and we moved into it over 50 years ago.

   As I studied the realtor’s photos of each room of our old home, I tried to visualize my family and me in each one.  I pictured my father, my mother, and my three sisters – even my paternal grandmother – laughing, sharing, and even crying within the walls of that house.  And waves of sorrow swept over me.  As I began to feel physical symptoms in the pit of my stomach, I sensed the Holy Spirit telling me to stop.  But I kept dwelling on the past, even though it was causing me pain, not caring about the consequences.

   The next day, I woke up feeling sick all over.  I sought the Lord for His wisdom, already knowing in my heart what the cause of my illness was.  Just as I suspected, those moments I spent dwelling on my family history the night before – soaking in the grief and the feelings of loss – had impacted my physical body and my health.  God gave me clear confirmation in the matter, allowing me to suffer the natural consequences of my actions, so that I would be much more careful in the future about dwelling on the past in ways that could do me harm.

   God commands His people in the Scriptures, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” (Isaiah 43:18 NIV)  Why is the Lord against us dwelling on the past?  Because doing so can cause us to get stuck where we are.  When our focus is on the past, it’s too easy for us to feel sorry for ourselves.  Or to focus on our regrets.  Or to think that our best days are behind us.  Worst of all, dwelling on our past can make us feel unthankful for all of the blessings in our lives, especially the blessings we have in the present.

   In the next verse of this passage of Scripture, God goes on to say, “See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19 NIV)  If we put these two verses together, we see that the Lord wants us to resist dwelling on the past so that we can “perceive” the “new thing” He wants to do in our lives.  He knows that if we are unreceptive to the brand-new things He’s about to do, then we might delay or prevent them from coming to pass.  Don’t miss the excitement that is in the Lord’s voice within these verses.  He knows that what He has in store for us is far better than anything we could imagine.  The Living Bible translation bears this out when it says, “But forget all that – it is nothing compared to what I’m going to do!” (v. 18)

  What is it in your past that you have been dwelling on?  On behalf of the Lord, I urge you today – “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history.  Be alert, be present.  I’m about to do something brand-new.  It’s bursting out!  Don’t you see it?  There it is!” (Isaiah 43:18-19 MSG)

    Lord, I don’t want to miss out on any of the wonderful plans You have for my life.  Teach me how to resist dwelling on the past in ways that will cause me to get stuck.  Show me how to constantly move forward into the better things You have for me up ahead.  Guard me from self-pity, feelings of regret, and unthankfulness, and help me to maintain an attitude of gratitude at all times.  Thank You that as I keep my eyes of faith open, I will be able to perceive the new things You have in store for me!

   *Join the J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with all-new mini devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals. You can access this group by clicking here!

   *For autographed books, check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro page by clicking here!

   *Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

Apr 1 19

Honesty is the Best Policy

by J. M. Farro

   “Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies.”  Psalm 34:12-13 NIV

   I didn’t dye my hair until I was in my mid-fifties.  I didn’t have a lot of gray to cover, but just enough that it was getting annoying.  To save money, I thought I would color my hair at home with my husband, Joe’s, help.  Unfortunately, our first attempt resulted in orange hair for me.  At that point, I decided that a trip to a hair salon was a good idea.  The only problem was that my regular hair stylist was on vacation.  I prayed for God’s wisdom and chose a new salon that was only a mile away from my home.  It was the perfect choice.  The ladies there knew just how to cover my orange hair by matching my natural dark brown hair color.

   The next time I saw my regular hair stylist to get my usual haircut, I felt funny about telling her that I had found another salon to color my hair.  This lady had become a dear friend of ours because she had been cutting hair for our entire family for many years.  I prayed and asked the Lord to give me the right words to speak to her about my new colorist, because I knew that I wanted to continue to get color at the other salon on a regular basis.  I thought about lying and telling her that I was coloring my hair at home, in order to spare her feelings, but then decided that it wasn’t an option for me, especially since this woman knew that I was a believer.

   Several years later, I was relieved and thankful that I had made the choice to be honest with my friend.  She lost her own salon when her landlady forced her to leave, and she went to work for the salon where I had been getting my hair colored the past few years.  What’s really uncanny is that my area has an abundance of hair salons, and the chances of my friend losing her 30-year business and choosing to work at my colorist’s salon were very slim.  And yet, that’s exactly what happened.

   The Bible says, “Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies.” (Psalm 34:12-13 NIV)  I am more convinced than ever that the old saying is true – “honesty is the best policy.”  “Telling lies” can come back to haunt us, and can even destroy cherished relationships.

   Scripture says, “Don’t tell lies to each other; it was your old life with all its wickedness that did that sort of thing; now it is dead and gone.” (Colossians 3:9 TLB)  Once we are saved, deception no longer fits who we are, especially since the Spirit of Truth dwells in us. (John 14:17)

   It’s my heartfelt prayer that you and I will stand out for Christ in a dark and deceptive world by being people of honesty and truth!

   Lord, I earnestly desire to “see many good days,” so please help me to resist lies and deception all the rest of my life.  Work in my mind and heart so that I may always value truth the way that You do.  Remind me often that the Spirit of Truth abides in me, and that lying no longer fits who I am as a follower of Christ.  Thank you that as I sow seeds of truth wherever I go, I will reap a harvest of life, wholeness, and peace!

   *Join the J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with all-new mini devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals. You can access this group by clicking here!

   *For autographed books, check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro page by clicking here!

   *Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

Mar 24 19

Open and Closed Doors

by J. M. Farro

   “These are the words of Him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David.  What He opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open.”  Revelation 3:7 NIV

   When my 12-year-old car broke down and needed thousands of dollars of repairs, I prayed for God’s wisdom, and asked Him what His will was for my situation.  When I was certain that I had gotten permission from the Lord to lease a new car, I discussed the matter with my husband, Joe, who gave me his hearty approval.

   We went to the car dealership where we had bought cars before, and we test drove two vehicles.  I picked one out, and that’s when we waited for the salesman to give us a price on that particular model.  I had in my mind a specific amount to pay monthly that I did not want to exceed.  And while I waited for the salesman to consult his manager, I prayed, “Lord, if this car is not Your best for me, then shut every door against us purchasing it.”  God knew that I was sincere, and when the salesman and his manager quoted me a price that was over $100 more than I was willing to pay each month, I refused it, thanked the men kindly, and walked out the door with my husband.  Part of me was screaming inside, “You fool!  What are you going to do about your car situation now?”  And I heard my spirit answer, “I’m going to trust God to provide me with the perfect vehicle at the perfect price!”

   There is a powerful principle in Revelation 3:7 for believers who want to make decisions based on God’s will and purposes for them.  This verse reads, “These are the words of Him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David.  What He opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open.” (Revelation 3:7 NIV)  The text here refers to Christ, and I have discovered over the years that when I need to make a decision of some kind, I can ask Him to shut against me all the wrong doors, and to open wide before me all the right ones.  And I have found that He is faithful to do that when I pray this principle with sincerity.

   I will be honest and tell you that the next five days were very difficult for me.  I wondered just how long I could go without having transportation of my own.  And I kept reminding the Lord that I was counting on Him to provide me with an affordable vehicle – and soon!  My husband and I had decided that he should take a day off from work to go car shopping.  Before we left the house that day, Joe got a call from the sales manager at our dealership.  He came down more than $100 in price, and he offered us a more expensive model of the car we liked best, with more options.  Joe told him that we would think about it, and he hung up the phone.  A few minutes later, the sales manager called back again and offered us an even lower price on the more expensive model.  After we prayed about it, Joe and I took the man up on his offer, and I drove my new car home that very day.

   As I was thinking about this experience, I felt a surge of gratitude that I had the courage to ask God to shut the door on anything less than His best in my situation.  If I hadn’t, I might have settled for a mediocre outcome.  How might this spiritual principle apply to your situation today?

   Lord, teach me how to receive Your very best outcome in every situation I face.  Don’t ever let me settle for less than Your perfect will for me.  Shut against me every wrong door, and open wide before me every right door – making me sensitive and obedient to Your Spirit’s leading all the way.  Thank You that as I make following Your lead my highest priority every day of my life, I will experience Your abundant provision and supply!

   *Join the J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with all-new mini devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals. You can access this group by clicking here!

   *For autographed books, check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro page by clicking here!

   *Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

Mar 18 19

God’s Will is Not Automatic

by J. M. Farro

   “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of Him.”  1 John 5:14-15 NIV

   These verses of Scripture prove a principle that many Christians never get a hold of, and I believe it grieves the heart of God.  I have heard some of the Lord’s followers say things like, “I don’t have to pray for God’s will, because if something is His will, it will just happen.”  If that were true, the Holy Spirit would never have inspired the apostle John to say that “if we ASK anything according to [God’s] will, He hears us . . .” and “we know that we have what we ASKED of Him.”

   The fact is that much of God’s will for us is not automatic.  Much of the time, He expects His followers to partner with Him for His will to come to pass on this earth.  One reason this is true is that the Lord has given us a free will, and He is not in the habit of imposing His will on us.  Instead, He constantly attempts to lead us along His pathway of righteousness and abundance.  He says to us, “Follow Me,” rather than dragging us by the heels to go His way.

   Also, let us not forget that we have a formidable spiritual enemy, Satan, who has multitudes of demons at his service.  And he is constantly working overtime to lead us away from God and His perfect plans for us.  He will tempt us, accuse us, and deceive us as much as he can in order to get us to buy into his dark and destructive ways.  The last thing he wants to do is to see us walking in the perfect will of God, where we can do some serious harm to his kingdom.

   No, the will of God is not automatic.  If it were, Jesus would never have instructed us to pray to the Father, “May Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10 NLT)  You and I have a job to do while we are here.  And that job includes us getting to know God and His Word so well that praying His will for ourselves and others becomes second nature.  When we “approach God” with “confidence” and “ask anything according to His will,” He will move heaven and earth to bring His will to pass!

   Lord, fill me with a desire to study Your Word, and to get to know You better all the time.  Do a thorough work in me so that the desires of my heart will never be in conflict with the desires of Yours.  Remind me often of the heavy resistance in the spiritual realm to Your plans and purposes in this earthly realm, and teach me to be relentless in prayer.  Thank You that as I “ask anything according to [Your] will,” You will move mountains for my good and for Your glory!

   *For autographed books (with FREE domestic shipping for a limited time!), check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro page by clicking here!

   *Join the J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with all-new mini devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals.  You can access this group by clicking here!

    *Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

 

Mar 10 19

Praise Him as You Pray

by J. M. Farro

   “I cried out to Him for help, praising Him as I spoke.”  Psalms 66:17 NLT

   My husband, Joe, and I got hit with a barrage of problems recently.  First, my computer crashed.  Then my car broke down, and the company that held our extended warranty refused to pay for the necessary repairs to make it drivable again.  On top of that, the new exercise bike I purchased arrived damaged, so that I couldn’t use it.  As the weeks dragged on, it seemed as though the right solutions were constantly evading us.

   All during this time, I prayed and stood on God’s promises, expecting the Lord to act on our behalf.  But doors kept closing, and the problems kept coming.  I finally got on my knees and asked the Lord to show me what I had to do to receive the assistance and answers that I knew He had in store for us.  That’s when the Holy Spirit showed me the answer in Psalm 66:17 (NLT):  “I cried out to Him for help, praising Him as I spoke.”  I was already doing the “crying out to God” part, but I wasn’t “praising Him as I spoke.”

   Once I realized my mistake, I began praising God that, although my car was in disrepair, Joe and I still had his car to rely on.  Though I didn’t yet have a properly working computer, I expressed gratitude that the one I had as a backup was better than nothing.  And even though my new exercise bike was unusable at the time, I thanked God that I still had my broken down old one that I could squeeze a workout out of on occasion.

   As I mixed praise with my prayers, something wonderful happened.  Everything began falling into place, and doors began to open, so that all of our problems were resolved suddenly and beautifully.

   As I pondered this experience, the Lord brought to my remembrance Philippians 4:6 (NIV), which says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  The Lord invites us to come to Him with our prayers, petitions, and requests.  But if we don’t mix our prayers “with thanksgiving,” as this verse instructs, we can’t blame Him when our answers don’t come.

   God has custom-made solutions in store for us when we lift up our petitions to Him with heartfelt praise.  And He will accomplish for us what we could never accomplish on our own!

   Lord, when trouble strikes and I call on You for help, remind me to “praise You as I speak.”  Give me a grateful heart, and teach me how to count my blessings in the midst of my problems.  Guard me from grumbling and complaining, and help me to look for the good in every situation.  Thank You that as I mix praise with my prayers, You will move mountains and open doors on my behalf!

    *For autographed books (with FREE domestic shipping for a limited time!), check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro page by clicking here!

   *Join the J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with all-new mini devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals.  You can access this group by clicking here!

    *Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

 

Mar 3 19

Prayer that Gets Results

by J. M. Farro

   “And so I tell you, 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.  For everyone who asks, receives.   Everyone who seeks, finds.  And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”  Luke 11:9-10 NLT

   I used to wonder why Jesus used so many parables to get His point across.  I have a better understanding of that now, because of how many times God has used things in my own life to teach me.  He taught me a wonderful lesson about prayer, using my bath tub as an illustration.  At one point, I couldn’t get it clean, no matter how strong a cleaner I used on it.  Finally, I gave up and resorted to using a simple household cleaner, just to reassure myself that at least the tub was sanitary.

   I faithfully maintained that tub a little each day, and I was amazed when I realized some weeks later that the tub sparkled!  God showed me that it’s often the same way with prayer.  If I faithfully prayed each day for the things He put on my heart – for myself and others – He would work wonders as a result.  He assured me that I didn’t have to get ten people to agree in prayer with me, and I didn’t need to have a famous evangelist pray for me.  While those things can be good, I believe that most of the time, the only way we can receive the answers to our prayers is by praying and standing in faith day after day.  This is why, when Jesus was teaching on prayer in the above verses, He said we should keep on asking, seeking, and knocking.

   Right before Jesus speaks these verses, He tells the parable of the persistent man who knocks on his friend’s door at midnight to appeal to him for bread.  The Master concludes the story by saying, “But I’ll tell you this – though he won’t do it as a friend, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you everything you want – just because of your persistence.  And so it is with prayer…”  (Luke 11:8-9 TLB)  It’s then that the Savior instructs us to ask, seek, and knock.

   This kind of prayer speaks of urgency and desperation.  It’s not a faint-hearted, hit-or-miss kind of prayer.  It’s not for quitters or for half-hearted believers.  One reason we don’t see God’s people enjoying more answered prayer is that we have a tendency to give up before we receive the answer.  By the grace of God, our prayers can bring salvation to the lost, healing to the sick, and deliverance to the oppressed.  But only if we persist.

   What happens when we don’t keep asking, seeking, and knocking?  We don’t receive, we don’t find, and the door isn’t opened to us.  Just like my tub suffers when I neglect it, our prayer life will suffer from neglect, too.  Don’t be a quitter.  Persist in prayer and receive all the blessings God has in store for you and the ones you love!

   Lord, teach me how to ask, seek, and knock the way You want me to.  Increase my faith daily so that I will pray and stand in faith for the people and things You put on my heart.  Make me patient and persistent so that I won’t quit and give up before the answer comes.  Thank You for all of the answered prayer that I will reap as a result!

   *For autographed books (with FREE domestic shipping for a limited time!), check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro page by clicking here!

   *Join the J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with all-new mini devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals.  You can access this group by clicking here!

    *Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

 

Feb 24 19

Wait for the Harvest

by J. M. Farro

   “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming.  See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.  You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” James 5:7-8 NIV

   When I made a quality decision to devote myself to the Lord twenty-six years ago, people began noticing a difference in me almost immediately, and not everyone was happy about it.  My husband, Joe, for instance, felt confused, bewildered, and threatened by some of the changes he saw in me, and he constantly let me know that he wasn’t pleased with his “new” wife.  I spent time alone with God each day, praying, reading His Word, and seeking His comfort and His counsel.  Even though a part of me understood my husband’s hostile attitude toward my newfound faith, I felt deeply wounded and betrayed by it.  As I persevered and did my best to plant seeds of faith and love in the soil of Joe’s heart, the Lord honored my efforts and turned his heart toward Him.  Today, my husband is my biggest supporter where my love for the Lord and my ministry are concerned.

   This experience was a reminder to me that when we plant seeds of faith in the hearts of others, we usually have to endure a waiting period.  If you are like me, you not only want to impact others’ lives for God, but you want to see the fruit of your labor right away.  The Lord used the verses above to remind me that, like farmers planting their crops need to be patient and wait for their valuable harvest, we must patiently wait to see the results of our efforts for God’s kingdom.  While these verses actually relate to the Lord’s Second Coming, I also see a principle at work here that helps me to understand how we must often wait upon God to reveal His presence and power in people’s lives and circumstances.  Through our prayers, words, and actions, we can plant seeds in the lives of others that will produce a harvest for their good and God’s glory.  But if we become too frustrated or anxious, we could literally dig up the seeds we have planted before they have had a chance to take root and bear fruit.  There have been many times when I have become impatient with the spiritual progress of those around me – especially my closest loved ones – and out of anger and frustration, I have uprooted the seeds of faith I had tenderly planted in their hearts.  In many cases, it took months – or even years – to undo the damage I had done in just a short time.

   I have had to learn the hard way that planting a harvest for God takes time, patience, and understanding.  Now, when I begin to get anxious and impatient with the spiritual growth of others around me, I often think of my experience with my husband.  It reminds me that even when it seems that my efforts are failing miserably, God could very well be working behind the scenes to make them fruitful somewhere down the line.  I believe that as long as I am praying in faith and planting seeds according to the Holy Spirit’s leading, the Lord will keep working in that person’s life somehow.  I have seen God go to great lengths to put pressure on people, and to surround them with believers, simply because I began praying for them and asking the Lord to change them.  Now I take great comfort in knowing that even if I cannot impact someone personally, God knows who can, and He will send the right person across their path as I pray for them in faith.

   I am sharing all this with you today to encourage you not to give up on your efforts to influence others for God.  Satan will try to convince you that all your prayers and seed planting are a waste of time and energy, but don’t you believe it.  Instead, put your hope in God, who is urging you today – “Be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near!”

    Lord, when I am tempted to become impatient with seeing the fruits of my labor for You, please remind me that my impatience can do more harm than good.  Show me how to plant seeds of faith in people’s hearts and lives, and to nurture them with prayer, godly behavior, and understanding.  Thank You for the abundant harvests that will bless many and glorify You!

   *For autographed books (with FREE domestic shipping for a limited time!), check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro page by clicking here!

   *Join the J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with all-new mini devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals.  You can access this group by clicking here!

    *Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

Feb 18 19

Boosting Our Prayer Power

by J. M. Farro

   “And [we] receive from Him anything we ask, because we obey His commands and do what pleases Him.”  1 John 3:22 NIV

   This Scripture reveals an important Biblical principle – the power of our prayers is directly related to our obedience to God’s Word, and to our desire to do what pleases Him.  As we progress in our level of obedience to the Lord, the effectiveness of our prayers will increase.  I have seen this principle at work in my own life, as well as in the lives of other believers who walk closely with the Lord.  Proverbs 28:9 (NIV) says, “If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable.”  This is another verse which shows a connection between our obedience and our prayers.  Even though we have made a decision to trust Christ as our Savior, we cannot expect ready answers to our prayers when we ignore God’s commands.  Psalm 66:18-19 (NIV) says, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.”  If we want God to honor our prayers, we cannot wink at sin, or have unconfessed sin in our lives.

   We also cannot afford to harbor unforgiveness toward anyone.  Jesus made that clear when He was teaching us how to have mountain-moving faith in Mark 11:  “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (v.25 NIV)  The Bible reveals that the quality of our relationships can determine the effectiveness of our prayers.  Peter says that husbands must “be considerate” of their wives and “treat them with respect” so that their “prayers may not be hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7 NIV)  This principle applies to our other relationships, as well.

   Jesus said, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.” (John 15:7 NASB)  The Lord is promising us here that if we will live for Him and obey His Word, He will hear and answer our prayers.  If you have unsaved or backslidden loved ones, your prayers can make all the difference in their lives.  Job 22:30 (NIV) says, “[The Lord] will deliver even one who is not innocent, who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.”  Our prayers of intercession can be especially powerful when we are fully committed to the Lord.  This is particularly important when we are unable to reach our loved ones with our conversation or example.  Our prayers can be our best “secret weapon” in winning them to Christ.

   Scripture admonishes us to, “Find out what pleases the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:10 NIV)  If we will do our part in committing ourselves to learning and doing God’s will, the Lord will do His part in blessing us and honoring our prayers.  God does not expect us to do it on our own.  Philippians 2:13 (NLT) promises:  “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.”  And we can pray like David did:  “Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; may Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” (Psalm 143:10 NIV)  I encourage you to start getting serious about obeying God, and start boosting your prayer power today!

   Lord, forgive me for the times that I have not taken my prayer responsibilities seriously.  Remind me that my prayers can bring salvation to the lost, healing to the sick, and deliverance to those in trouble.  Give me the grace and the desire to do Your will in all things.  Thank You that as I sow seeds of obedience, I will reap an abundant harvest of answered prayer!

   *For autographed books (with FREE domestic shipping for a limited time!), check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro page by clicking here!

   *Join the J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with all-new mini devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals.  You can access this group by clicking here!

    *Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

Feb 10 19

Look UP to God

by J. M. Farro

   “When all these things begin to happen, stand and look UP, for your salvation is near!”  Luke 21:28 NLT 

   The Lord taught me some valuable lessons on pain and suffering recently which helped me to gain a more godly perspective on them.  He warned me not to turn inward to self-pity, or outward to anger – but to turn upward to God.

   A good definition of self-pity is:  “A self-indulgent dwelling on one’s own sorrows or misfortunes.”  Anything that causes us to focus too much on ourselves is a detriment to our health and well-being.  It’s also destructive to our relationships.  It doesn’t bring us closer to others; it actually drives them away.  It doesn’t help us to heal, but it keeps us bleeding.  Self-pity is actually a form of pride.  It causes us to get our eyes off of God and onto ourselves.  We may initially like the attention it gets us from others, but eventually, it will cause them to turn away from us.

   An effective antidote for self-pity is thankfulness.  Scripture says:  “Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 AMP)  No matter what is going on in our lives, we always have reason to give thanks to God and praise Him.  It’s an insult to the Lord when we dwell on our misfortunes and losses, and we neglect to recognize and dwell on all of the blessings He showers us with daily.  Turning inward to self-pity is definitely not God’s will for us when we experience times of difficulty and pain.

   Turning outward to anger or revenge isn’t God’s will for us, either.  It can be tempting to get mad at God or others when we’re faced with painful circumstances.  It’s so easy to play the “blame game” when we’re hurting.  But that’s not God’s way.  Jesus told His disciples:  “You’re looking for someone to blame… Look instead for what God can do.” (John 9:3 MSG)  When we’re in a painful place, we need God’s help more than ever.  But we’re not likely to get it if we’re not treating people right. 

   In every situation we face, God’s got a plan for our victory.  But we have to cooperate with His plan, and do things His way, if we want to receive His highest and best.  Scripture says:  “Don’t let your suffering embitter you at the only one who can deliver you.” (Job 36:18 TLB)  How foolish it is to get mad at God when things don’t go our way, since He is the only One who is able to offer us any real and lasting help.

   And that’s why the Lord tells us that instead of looking inward or outward in times of trouble, we should look UPward to Him.  The Bible says:  “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.  So we will not fear…” (Psalm 46:1 NLT)  Those of us who have made Christ our Savior and Lord have a God who is always approachable, available, and responsive to our needs.  He is “always ready” to provide us with His wisdom (James 1:5), His strength (2 Corinthians 12:9), and His comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-5 ).  All we have to do is ask. 

   I’ve discovered that one of the best things we can do in difficult times is to release our hurt and heartache to God, and to tell Him:  “Lord, I’m planting my trouble and pain as a seed, and I’m trusting You to grant me an abundant harvest of blessings and rewards in return.”  God loves to cause our problems to profit us somehow. (Romans 8:28)  Even when we are suffering the consequences of our own stubborn disobedience, He is there to help us all along the way, and to make sure we gain some benefit from our misery. 

   When Jesus spoke to His disciples about a time of great tribulation that would someday come upon the earth, He said:  “When all these things begin to happen, stand and look UP, for your salvation is near!” (Luke 21:28 NLT)  Are you looking UP today?

   Lord, when trouble comes my way, help me to resist feeling sorry for myself, or blaming others for my problems.  Remind me that if my focus is on myself or others – instead of You – I will only be intensifying and prolonging my misery.  Thank You that as I keep my eyes on You, and follow Your lead, I will experience the supernatural peace and power that can only come from Christ!  

   *For autographed books (with FREE domestic shipping for a limited time!), check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro page by clicking here!

   *Join the J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with all-new mini devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals.  You can access this group by clicking here!

    *Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com