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Archive for June, 2016

 

Over-the-Rhine-12th-and-Vine

(Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati, Ohio)

 

One benefit of living in an older city is the interesting architecture to enjoy. Our hometown for two years now, Cincinnati, includes an impressive collection of historic buildings, in a large variety of styles. Below are six examples.

  • Federal:

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(Taft Museum of Art, built 1820)

  • Greek Revival: 

 

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(Cincinnati Observatory Center, built 1873)

  • Venetian Gothic: 

 

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(Cincinnati Music Hall, built 1878)

 

  • Romanesque: 

 

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(City Hall, built 1893)

 

  • Beaux Arts Classical: 

 

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(Lincoln National Bank Building, built 1903)

  • Art Deco: 

 

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(Union Terminal, now Cincinnati Museum Center, built 1933)

I, for one, am grateful to enjoy such artistic workmanship and beauty, created by architects and craftsmen long ago.

That’s one of the tenets author and artist, John Ruskin (1819-1900), promoted in his work The Seven Lamps of Architecture (1):

 

Buildings should be beautiful.

 

Ruskin’s seven “lamps,” intended as guidelines for architects, included:

  •  Sacrifice.  Buildings should reflect careful thought and strong effort.  No doubt he would agree:  “Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well” (2).
  • Truth.  Ruskin disapproved of faux finishes and trompe l’oiel. Worse yet was shoddy workmanship hidden behind fancy facades. “A building should be honest,” he said.

 

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(Ruskin probably wouldn’t approve of this trompe l’oeil

on a flat building in Cincinnati, at Central Parkway and Vine.)

 

  • Power.  Public buildings should exude strength and permanence. One surprising element to manifest strength: shadow— achieved with towering walls and deep recesses.  Smooth surfaces bathed in light do not achieve the same effect.
  • Beauty.  Ornamentation was important to Ruskin, distinguishing architecture from a simple building. No “voiceless buildings” devoid of expressiveness, he wrote.
  • Life.  Ruskin also said, “The life of the builder must be in the building.” He was “against mass production and any innovation that decreased the skill content” (3).
  • Memory.  Buildings ought to reflect the culture, its history and heritage. They should be built to last. As an architect sets about his work, he must take into consideration not only its current use but its use by future descendants.
  • Obedience.  Ruskin believed each nation should have a distinct style. And in much of the historical architecture of Europe, that’s exactly what we see. English Gothic, French Provincial, and Italianate are examples.

 

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(Italianate, above, as well as other European styles also seen in Cincinnati.

This is the John Hauck House built 1870).

Perhaps you’re noticing that the categories of Ruskin’s lamps illumine more than architecture. They enlighten our Christian experience as well. I wonder if you made similar connections to mine as you read about these seven components:

  • Sacrifice.  “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23). Such sacrifice is a joy, though, as we “serve the Lord with gladness” out of gratitude for all he has done for us.
  • Truth.  Just as Ruskin believed in honest buildings, so we desire to be people of integrity that reflect Jesus.
  • Power.  We also have available to us God’s strength, especially important in the valley of the shadow of death.

 

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  • Beauty.  Ruskin thought buildings should reflect creation, because the most beautiful shapes came from nature.  For example, columns resemble plant stems; pointed arches resemble leaves. Our inner “beauty” of spirit should reflect our Creator.
  • Life. “The life of the builder must be in the building,” Ruskin asserted. Doesn’t that perfectly mirror Paul’s words, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20)? 
  • Memory.  Buildings should be constructed to last, useful now and for future generations. Likewise, we should strive to leave a worthy legacy to our descendants.
  • Obedience.  Just as Ruskin wanted each nationality to have its own set of architectural guidelines, we Christians have a set of guidelines from our Heavenly Father—to avail ourselves of a strong foundation (his powerful, attentive presence), and strong walls of scriptural truth for keeping out the elements–like fear, depression, and stress.

Praise the Architect of Heaven!

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Thank you, Architect of Heaven, for exercising your creative and miraculous genius in my life. Sometimes, though, I resemble a big box store or factory—not reflecting your beauty at all. I do not rely fully on you–my Builder, nor follow your guidelines. But, oh how I praise you for never giving up on me! Day by day you are building me into a better version of myself, and you will bring your artistry to a flourishing finish when Jesus returns (Philippians 1:6, MSG). Glory!

 

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  1. Written in 1849. Another author, Ralph W. Sockman, mentioned this work in his book, The Higher Happiness (Abingdon Press, 1950), which I read recently. My curiosity sent me to the internet to learn about these seven lamps!
  2. Philip Stanhope, British statesman, b. 1694, d. 1773.
  3. Joffre Essley @ house-design-coffee.com
  4. However, here in America, with so many nationalities and climate zones , such strict adherence doesn’t seem as important. The wonderful variety in Cincinnati is a case in point.

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.wikipedia.org; http://www.taftmuseum.org; http://www.observatoriesofohio.org; http://www.wikipedia.org (2); http://www.wikimapia.org; http://www.cincymuseum.org; http://www.pinterest.com (3); http://www.youtube.com.)

 

 

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We’ve all heard the story of Joseph (or seen the musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat). You’ll remember he’s the one who endured years of slavery and prison before his dreams (of bowing wheat sheaves and stars paying homage) came true.

We also know about Moses, an adopted prince in Pharaoh’s household who ended up in the wilderness herding sheep.  Forty years later God called him to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt.

And we’re familiar with Paul who spent years traveling from place to place and, yes, suffering all kinds of trials—beatings, imprisonment, dangers, shipwrecks—all for the privilege of serving God, introducing people to Jesus and establishing churches.

These Biblical stories and others teach us to never give up, because we never know when God will show up to turn a prisoner into a prime minister, a shepherd into a great leader, or a Pharisee tentmaker into a world evangelist.

Then there’s Jeremiah. His is a different kind of story altogether. He was called by God to warn the inhabitants of Judah that destruction would come if they did not return to God and follow his ways. It was not a one-time message. Over a period of forty years Jeremiah spoke many times of coming doom.

 

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Almost no one listened. (A brief revival took place under King Josiah, but when he died, the people returned to their complacency and evil ways.)

We love the stories of Joseph, Moses, Paul, and others, whose perseverance was rewarded with success. But what about Jeremiah?

He, too, persevered through trials–poverty and deprivation, imprisonment and ill-treatment, rejection and ridicule. For what? According to the evidence (minimal results for his efforts), Jeremiah was a wretched failure. Yet he had obeyed God faithfully, endured patiently, and preached courageously.

Perhaps visible evidence is not the best way to quantify success.

Instead, the true measure of success involves our characters, not our acquisitions (Joshua 1:8).

 

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The true measure of success may include the tenacity to get up every day and face the same tasks as yesterday, to persistently make choices that further God’s objectives for each of us, and to remain steadfast even when discouraged (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Last, a true measure of success is how our choices honor God (1 Kings 2:3). Jeremiah may not have turned thousands back to Yahweh, but that was not due to his lack of effort or disobedience to God. Jeremiah doggedly preached to the people of Judah—month after month, year after year.

So the true measure of success includes: 1) pursuing godly character, 2) persevering toward God-given purpose, and 3) making choices that honor him.

 

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Today, such successful people might look like:

  • The parent who has put his career on hold to invest time in his young children.
  • the business owner who drives a twelve-year old car so he can give generously to ministries.
  • The college student slowly working her way through school, anxious to return to her inner city neighborhood and teach school

For those of us looking for that kind of success, Jeremiah is our hero.

He lived out these precepts :

  • Do our prayerful best and leave the results with God.
  • Press on–day by day, month by month, year by year if necessary. Allow such perseverance to build our trust in God and strengthen our character.
  • Persist until God tells us to stop. (How do we know we’ve reached that moment? Peace, not uncertainty, will fill our spirits.)

We may not understand what God is doing, but we know him. And he is holy love and perfect wisdom.*

 

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*Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, p. 129.

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.commons.wikimedia.org; http://www.pinterest.com (2); http://www.christianquotes.info; http://www.pilgrimsrock.com.)

 

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Nine times in Psalm 145, David used the word, “all” to describe the totality of God’s attributes and their far-reaching impact. These attributes fall into two sets, as follows.

The Lord is:

  1. Good to all (v. 9a),
  2. Compassionate on all he has made (v. 9b),
  3. Faithful to all his promises (v. 13c), and
  4. Loving toward all he has made (v. 13d).

In addition he:

  1. Upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down (v. 14),
  2. Is righteous in all his ways (v. 17a),
  3. Is near to all who call upon him in truth (v. 18a), and
  4. Watches over all who love him (v. 20a).

 

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How glorious to consider that all these general statements apply individually also—to you and me.

With a bit of effort, these truths can be turned into personal praise:

 

My heart sings for joy, Father.

You are so good to me (v. 9a)—blessings abound.

Even at this moment I revel in your gently falling rain,

The sound of Steve puttering in the kitchen

(Thank you for a husband who likes to cook!),

And three year-old Elena* on the floor,

Writing a story about making pancakes with Mommy.

Your goodness is on display, even in small moments.

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I praise you for your compassion (v. 9b),

Expressed through a doctor who, just last Saturday,

Offered consult on a weekend,

And even checked in on Monday morning.

Your compassion is evident in the kindness of strangers as well.

Just today a driver graciously gave me

the right-of-way on a narrow street,

Bestowing respect, favor, and a smile.

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How thankful I am for your many promises in scripture (v. 13c)–

Over 2,300 statements of hope and encouragement–

Promises sometimes fulfilled in amazing and creative ways–

Classic promises like Romans 8:28 and 1 Peter 5:7,

Realized as Steve and I moved to different communities

And embarked upon new chapters of our lives.

Personal promises, like Ruth 2:11-12 and John 13:7—

Surprisingly well-suited to the moment.

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I praise you for your loving nature (v. 13d),

Your attentiveness and favor expressed through

The cheer of bird song in the morning,

The grace and friendliness of people at church,

The inspiration of your Word,

The redemption from hurtful experiences of the past,

The peace of mind and joy of the Spirit

You infuse into each day.

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And thank you for the sweet comfort of your presence (v. 18a)

That fills me with delight.

How precious are those times when

I sense your nearness,

When praise songs and scripture

Bring tears that clear my eyes

For the sight of you in your grace

And make the vision of your favor more precious (1).

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Every day I want to praise you (v. 2).

You are pure goodness,

Manifested in infinite power,

Giving the light of truth, wisdom, and discernment.

Your glorious majesty reigns supreme over all creation.

And most amazing of all:

Everything you are, you offer to your children.

You are always seeking to manifest yourself to us.

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Words fail to praise you adequately.

But, oh, how I yearn to do so!

 

*Our granddaughter

(1) based on a Charles Spurgeon quote

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.dailyverses.net; http://www.pinterest.com; Nancy Ruegg; http://www.strongtowns.org; http://www.pinterest.com (4).

 

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Cy lined up his machine at one edge of the wheat field. He gave Henry, their most reliable workhorse, a few reassuring pats on the shoulder, and a rub to his nose.

“This is it, old boy,” he whispered. “I think we’ve got a winner this time. Are you ready?”

Henry nodded his head as if he understood. But Cy knew the horse was just anxious to head down the rows, hopeful there’d be a carrot or two at the end.

With a doff of his hat to his watching father, Cy got behind the machine, and called, “Walk!”

Henry pulled forward and the machine followed alongside, exactly as Cy had designed it, so Henry’s hooves would not be trample the wheat–just one of the problems Cy had solved as he worked on his invention.

Actually, it wasn’t solely his. Cy’s father, Robert, had worked for sixteen years developing a machine to ease the slow, back-breaking work of cutting wheat with a scythe or sickle.  Also important to a wheat farmer: a quick harvest.  Too often they suffered the debilitating disappointment of a crop ruined by rain because harvest couldn’t always be achieved fast enough.

 

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Solutions to several problems had evaded Robert. Twenty-one year old Cy asked if he could give the reaper a try.

Cy worked out several improvements: 1) a paddle wheel to press the wheat against the cutting blade, 2) a toothed blade that moved back and forth. 2) a comb-like affair that held the stalks in place for cutting, and 3) a divider situated ahead of the reaper, to separate the grain to be cut from the grain left standing.

Now, just six weeks after receiving permission to take over the project, Cy was ready to test his newest version.

As reliable old Henry plodded down the first row, the machine whirred among the grain, neatly slicing the stalks near the ground. In no time Cy and his reaper had reached the end of the field. The wheat was neatly cut, none had been trampled or left behind, and the blades had not jammed.

 

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Cyrus McCormick had just changed the way the world farmed. For centuries, no more than an acre or two of wheat could be harvested in a day. Cy’s invention reaped a dozen or more.

On June 21, 1834 (one hundred eight-two years ago tomorrow), Cyrus McCormick took out a patent for the horse-drawn reaper.

By 1847, he and his brother, Leander, were moving from Virginia to Chicago to build a factory for reaper production. Waterways and railways made the small city of 40,000 a new hub for transportation. It was also on the edge of the Great American prairie, where pioneers were turning grasslands into farms.

 

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Four years later, Cyrus would be honored by the French Academy of Sciences for “having done more for agriculture than any other living man” (1).

He was also amassing a great fortune.

Perhaps you remember parts of Cy’s story from history class. But few history students (I would guess) know that Cyrus McCormick was a Christian—a man who didn’t just listen to God’s Word, but lived it (James 1:22).

 

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For example:

Cyrus’ business practices followed the Golden Rule, making it possible for struggling farmers to buy a reaper. He was the first American businessman to offer: 1) an installment plan for purchase, 2) a set price—no haggling necessary (a common practice at the time), 3) a trial period, and 4) a written warranty for his product.

 

McCormick portrait

 

Jesus said, “Freely have you received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8). For Cyrus that meant supporting ministries. McCormick’s legacy included:

  • Large contributions to the salaries of two missionaries, John R. Mott and Sherwood Eddy. (At the time American mission work abroad was growing rapidly.)
  • $10,000 to Dwight L. Moody to help start the Chicago YMCA.
  • Another $100,000 to Moody to start his Bible Institute.
  • Yet another $100,000 to Northwestern Theological Seminary, later renamed McCormick Theological Seminary.

All three of these institutions are still functioning, still impacting people all these years later.

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*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

Thank you, Father, for such heroes as Cyrus. H. McCormick, whose legacy continues in the lives of many, including the graduates of Moody Bible Institute and McCormick Theological Seminary. No doubt his influence is also at work around the globe, through the ripple effect of John R. Mott’s and Sherwood Eddy’s work. Only You know how many other ministries and individuals McCormick impacted.

 

Lord, keep me mindful that “the greatest use of my life is to spend it for something that will outlast it” (2). That something would be your kingdom, and Cyrus H. McCormick is a prime example.  

 

Notes:

  1. lemelson.mit.edu.
  2. William James

 

Sources:  www.cbn.org; http://www.intheworkplace.com; http://www.worldencyclopedia.org; http://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org.

 

 

Art & photo credits:  www.pinterest.com (2); http://www.american-historama.org; http://www.wisconsinhistory.org; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.chicagotribute.org; http://www.chicagopc.info.

 

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How would you finish the title-statement above?

The writer of Hebrews described faith like this:

 

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(“Faith is being sure of what we hope for

and certain of what we do not see.”

–Hebrews 11:1, NIV)

 

Other commentators and authors have added the following:

  • “Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.” – St. Augustine
  • “Faith is believing that Christ is what He is said to be, and that He will do what He has promised to do, and then to expect this of Him.” – Charles Spurgeon
  • “Faith is the belief that God is real and that God is good…Faith is the belief that God will do what is right.” – Max Lucado (1)

 

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  • “Faith is more than a feeling; it is acting on our belief that God is able to bring a redeeming value to any situation.” – Carole Ladd (2)

And my personal favorite:

  • “Faith is expectancy.” – Selwyn Hughes (3).

Now if true expectancy characterizes my faith, it’s going to be evident in the way I live.

That evidence will no doubt include:

 

  • Optimism and hope, not pessimism and despair.

 

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Scripture provides numerous statements that generate a positive outlook.   One of my favorites:

 

“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you,

who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord. They rejoice in your name all day long;

they exult in your righteousness.

For you are their glory and strength.”

–Psalm 89:15-17a)

 

Collecting faith-building quotes can also contribute to a positive outlook. For example:

 

“He is beneath me as my foundation, beside me as my friend,

within me as my life. There’s no need to worry about limited visibility.”

–Barbara Johnson

 

  • Gratitude, not grievances.

 

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“Our words are the evidence of the state of our hearts

as surely as the taste of the water

is an evidence of the state of the spring.”

– J. C. Ryle (3)

 

That includes the words I speak only in my mind. Silent prayers of gratitude to God will bolster my faith; rehashing the challenges I face will weaken it.

 

  • Affirmation of truth, not doubts.

 

Isaiah 41:10 might be a good place to begin.

 

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Am I feeling afraid and alone? God says, “Do not fear; I am with you.”

Am I plagued by worries and what-ifs? God says, “Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.”

Do I feel weak and helpless? God says, “I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

 

  • Pressing on, not giving up.

 

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Exercising my faith will move me forward; giving in to despair will bring me to a dead stop.

But just how do I move forward by faith? Philip Yancey says, simply respond to the next task that lies before me (4)—in a faith-directed manner. That might include making the bed while humming a praise song, sending the kids to school with hugs and a prayer, entering the office with cheerful greetings and a smile.

That monstrous problem may not be solved yet, but positive action while I wait will affirm my faith: God is at work; I can rest in his supreme competency. (That’s easier-said-than-done for me. I must continually reset my mind and spirit on him and the truth of his Word.)

 

  • Confidence, not discouragement.

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Yes, I may be stymied by the circumstances facing me now. And who knows what will happen tomorrow? But you and I do know the One in charge!

He is:

Almighty (Revelation 11:17)

All-wise (Romans 11:33)

An immovable pillar of strength (Psalm 46:1-2)

Rich in love (Psalm 103:6)

Sovereign (Psalm 22:28)

Gracious (Exodus 34:6)

Trustworthy (2 Samuel 7:28)

Our Provider (Philippians 4:19)

Our Protector (Psalm 32:7)*

Our Guide (Psalm 48:14)

Perhaps our exercise of faith should begin with attribute stretches—stretching the mind and spirit with a character-review of the One in whom we trust, to build our muscles of confidence and strength.

_________________________

*Protection sometimes comes through trouble rather than from trouble. If God chooses to bring us through, he provides the wisdom and fortitude necessary.   Either way, the outcome is always for his glory.

 

Notes:

  1. Grace for the Moment, p70.
  2. Thrive, Don’t Simply Survive, p93
  3. Same as above, p. 130
  4. Every Day Light , p. 253.
  5. Grace Notes, p233.

 

What evidence of faith have you witnessed in others or recognized in yourself? Please share in the Comments section below!

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.etsy.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.allpoetry.com; http://www.turnbacktogod.com; http://www.godinterest.com; http://www.pinterest.com (2).

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Some years ago I started keeping prayer cards instead of a prayer list. A 3x 5 gives plenty of room to record updates and answers. Another benefit: It’s easy to rotate through the stack, praying for six to ten people/organizations per day.

One card in the stack trips me up. At the top is written the name of “a difficult person.” He’s arrogant, dishonest, and unreliable.

I know I need to include him in my prayers, but I hardly know where to begin, except for “God, help this man!”

So I finally did some reading on the subject of difficult people, to find out how to pray for such individuals. Below are several suggestions I found helpful. If you have challenging folks in your life, perhaps you’ll find these thoughts useful also.

First, I need to begin with repentance. Before I pray about the faults and shortcomings of others, I need to address my own (Matthew 7:1-5). In addition, before I look at the person to be forgiven, I must look to God for the power to forgive (1).

 

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Second, I can ask God to:

  1. Open the heart of this person to the error(s) of his ways.
  1. Reveal the truth of the gospel to him—that Jesus is the only Way to salvation.
  1. Grant the person self-awareness so he’ll see how his choices and behavior negatively impact others.
  1. Curtail his influence so that innocent people might be protected.
  1. Bring godly people into his sphere, to exemplify the God-enhanced life.
  1. Cause circumstances that draw his attention to God.
  1. Reveal the difference to him between godly wisdom and human foolishness.

 

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Third, I can praise God that:

  • He is sovereign over all—even difficult people.
  • He can cause positive outcomes—in spite of erroneous judgments.
  • “Mistakes” on their part can actually produce God-ordained benefits.

 

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And just how might such a prayer unfold? Perhaps something like this:

 

Oh, God, as I pray for those who

cause great frustration and even suffering for others,

it’s easy to lose sight of my own sinfulness.

I have not lived free of pride, dishonesty or unreliability either.

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Forgive me, Father, for the many ways

I fall short of your desires for me.

Thank you for your grace and love that

prompt you to accept my confession and

prod me toward greater reliance upon you,

to become a better version of myself.

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Because I fall short

(even though I know you as my Savior and Master),

it is with deep humility I pray for Mr. X.

I am no better than he is.

 

First, may he recognize the truth of your Word

and the reality of salvation through your Son, Jesus.

I pray Mr. X will seek the Light of your wisdom to guide his way.

May your Holy Spirit shed Light on the choices he’s already made,

and reveal to him the full, true consequences of his behavior.

Guide him to change course to your ways.

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I thank you, Lord, that every day you are

sending Christians into Mr. X’s life as bearers of your Light,

to draw him to you.

You are engineering circumstances that highlight your power,

and using that sovereign power to curtail his influence.

I thank you for your ability

to produce positive outcomes even through difficult people.

The story of Joseph is one example.

In addition, even mistakes on the part of Mr. X

can actually produce just and righteous benefits.

 

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Oh, how I praise you, Almighty God,

that you have established your throne in heaven,

and your kingdom rules over all—

even over difficult people.

 

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(Psalm 51:1-5; Romans 3:23; Romans 7:18; Ecclesiastes 2:13; John 16:13; Psalm 119:130; Matthew 5:16; Romans 1:20; Psalm 37:17; Proverbs 19:21; Psalm 103:19)

  1. Ralph Sockman,The Higher Happiness, Pierce & Smith, 1950, p. 107.

 

How do you pray for difficult people?  Please share your insights in the Comments section below!

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.fotosearch.com; http://www.pinterest.com (5), http://www.ourdailyblossom.com; http://www.pinterest (2).

 

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Angie Perez sat on one side of her boss’s massive desk, he on the other. She began a lengthy list of reminders for the day…

“Now at ten o’clock this morning, George, you’re meeting with Sam about the Collins account. All the files you’ll need are in that portfolio. I put them in order from most important to least.” Angie pointed front-and-center with her pen.

“Great. ‘Appreciate you getting them organized.” George smiled. “I’ll need to review this paperwork beforehand—can you hold calls for me till I finish, probably around nine?”

Angie dashed herself a quick note. “Of course. And speaking of calls. Darcy Roberts already phoned, wanting to see you late this afternoon. I postponed her until tomorrow. I figured with your aunt’s seventy-fifth birthday dinner tonight, you’ll want to leave here on time today—maybe even early. You deserve to take a break after last week. Oh, and Aunt Lily’s gift is wrapped and ready to go in that black bag on the credenza.”

 

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“Oh, terrific. Thanks again for picking up the necklace.” George turned to glance behind him at the lovely gift bag Angie had prepared. “You’re probably right about taking off a little early today. I’m exhausted. And good thinking about postponing Darcy. That woman can stretch five minutes of business into a half hour of stories I don’t need to hear.”

…And so, one right-hand administrative assistant sets into motion the day’s activity for one corporate executive.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a right-hand assistant who took care of life’s unending details?

In reality, we have something far better: a right-hand God.

 

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“I have set the Lord always before me.

Because he is at my right hand,

I will not be shaken”

-Psalm 16:8 (italics added)

 

With God at my right hand, I have the strongest Protector—able to shield me from trouble much worse than George’s talkative clients:

 

“The Lord is my strength and my shield;

my heart trusts in him and I am helped.”

Psalm 28:7

 

God is the wisest Counselor—able to advise on matters much more important than business accounts:

 

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“The Lord gives wisdom,

And from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

–Proverbs 2:6

 

God is the sweetest Comforter, offering empathy and support:

 

“As a father has compassion on his children,

so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.”

–Psalm 103:13

 

And our God is the most loyal Advocate:

 

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“We have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—

Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”

–1 John 2:1

 

God breathes strength into me by the touch of his hand. Granted, I can’t sense physical contact. But when I hear a hymn or worship song and tears well up, when I read a scripture or passage from a book that speaks directly to a current situation, it’s every bit as expressive of support as a clasp on the shoulder.

Our God is always close at hand, as if standing by, ready to assist however needed. He is always present, holding me by my right hand (Psalm 73:23).

And like a shade tree offering respite from the sweltering summer sun, God offers restful moments from the cares of this world.

 

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“The Lord watches over you—

the Lord is your shade at your right hand.”

–Psalm 121:5

 

He renews our strength as we rely upon him (Isaiah 40:28-31), and offers the rejuvenation of constant hope because we know our heavenly home is waiting for us (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

I praise you, O God, for your presence. You are near as my Friend, ready as my Helper, dependable as my Guide. How breathtaking to consider I am never alone, left to struggle on my own. You are always at my right hand.

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.hercampus.com; http://www.pinterest.com (2); http://www.reviveourhearts.com; http://www.faithpictures.wordpress.com.)

 

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