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Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

-Hebrews 12:14

Five-Fingered Prayer -   

This devotional was written by Kelly McFadden

 

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. —Ephesians 6:18

 

I received an email some time ago that demonstrated how to use your fingers to pray. It’s a simple reminder of how we can easily be reminded of different ways to pray for those around you. If you’re looking for ideas to improve your prayer life, give it a try.

 

Thumb:  The strongest digit on your hand. Give thanks for all the strong things in your life, like home and family, or relationships that support and sustain you.

 

Index finger:  This is the pointing finger. Pray for those people and things that guide and help you in your life. Friends, teachers, doctors, nurses, emergency services and so on.

 

Middle finger:  The tallest finger. Pray for all the important people who have power in the world, like world leaders and governments, members of parliament and local councilors, city mayors and aldermen, our president.

 

Ring finger:  The weakest finger on your hand. It cannot do much by itself (ask anyone who plays piano). Remember the poor, the weak, the helpless, the hungry, the sick, the ill, and the bereaved.

 

Little finger:  The smallest and the last finger on your hand. Pray for yourself.

 

One of the things I like most about this guide to prayer is that it reminds me to keep others before myself. Too often when I pray, I immediately present God with my needs, wants and desires, and then lose my train of thought before I even think to pray for anyone else. Try using this tool as you drive home from work or go out for a walk. Prayer is something we can do at all times, and this may be just the tool to make it a part of your life, not just something you do before you go to bed or face a difficult situation. Prayer is an activity we can’t engage in enough.  God hears our prayers, and your hand is a good way to remind yourself to pray for someone else.

 

GOING DEEPER:

1. Think through the five-fingered prayer.  Can you place someone you know in each category?

 

2. Today, when you are in your car, turn off the radio and put your cell phone aside.  Take some time to pray through your fingers for those in your life who fit each category.

 

FURTHER READING:

Psalm 34:4-10; Romans 8:26-27; 1 Thessalonians 1:3-3

This devotional originally appeared in “HomeWord with Jim Burns” on Crosswalk’s Family Devotional section. For more information about HomeWord with Jim Burns devotionals, please visit us online.

More of HomeWord with Jim Burns: http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/homeword/

Forgiveness -      

This devotional was written by Dan Johnson     

 

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. —Matthew 6:14-15

 

Elizabeth Barrett Browning was one of the most widely read and respected poets of the Victorian period. In 1846, a romance between her and fellow poet Robert Browning led to their marriage and a move from England to the Italian Peninsula. Elizabeth’s father was not in favor of the marriage of his eldest child or any of the siblings. He never spoke to her again.

 

Although a recluse who had spent five years writing in the bedroom of her father’s house, Browning was a prolific letter writer. She and Robert exchanged 574 letters during their courtship and she continued to write her father regularly throughout her married life. Upon his death a box arrived at her home. When she opened it, she found all the letters she had written him – unopened.

 

The story that weaves through Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s relationship with her father is a story to which so many can relate. It’s a human story of disappointment, control, and lack of forgiveness. When Jesus taught about forgiveness, he did so with utter clarity. He taught that if we don’t forgive someone from our heart – releasing him or her from the resentment and judgment of our minds – we can’t be forgiven ourselves. Perhaps a better way to look at it would be that if we don’t let go of the grudge we hold so tightly in our closed hands, our hands aren’t open to receive anything from God.

 

Forgiveness has a theological component: God’s forgiveness saves us from sin. Forgiveness also has an immediate practical component: When we give it, we release others from our wrath, but we really release ourselves. And letting go of anger makes way for the joy of God, which is our daily strength.

 

The real tragedy of this story is not only that Mr. Barrett missed out on having a relationship with his daughter. He also missed out on the poetry of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Don’t miss out on the great relationships that grow in the lives of those who forgive much. And don’t miss out on God who has forgiven us for things far greater than what we have forgiven others.

 

GOING DEEPER:

1. Is there anyone in your life who you have not completely forgiven?

 

2. How does your life demonstrate thankfulness for being forgiven by God and others?

 

FURTHER READING:

Matthew 18; Mark 11:25

This devotional originally appeared in “HomeWord with Jim Burns” on Crosswalk’s Family Devotional section. For more information about HomeWord with Jim Burns devotionals, please visit us online.

More of HomeWord with Jim Burns: http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/homeword/

Finding Room for Jesus -   


And Mary gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the Inn. —Luke 2:7

 

I love this story about a second grade boy named Wally. I can’t remember where I got it from but I remember it being told to me that this actually happened in a small town in the Midwest.

 

Wally was 9 and in second grade. He should have been in 4th grade. Wally wanted to be a shepherd or an angel in the Christmas play, but Miss Lumbard assigned him the “important role” of the innkeeper. I think it was because of his size and it had very few lines.

 

And so it happened that the usual large audience gathered for the town’s yearly extravaganza of beards, crowns, halos, and a whole stage full of squeaky voices. No one on stage or off was more caught up in the magic of the night than Wally. They said later that he stood in the wings and watched the performance with such fascination that from time to time Miss Lumbard had to make sure he didn’t wonder onstage before his cue.

 

Then the time came when Joseph appeared, slowly, tenderly guiding Mary to the door of the Inn. Joseph knocked on the door. Wally the innkeeper was there waiting.

 

“What do you want?” demanded Wally, swinging the door open with a brusque gesture.

 

“We seek lodging.”  “Seek it elsewhere.” Wally looked straight ahead. “The inn is filled.”

 

“Sir, we have asked everywhere in vain. We have traveled far and are very weary.”

 

“There is no room in this inn for you.” Wally looked properly stern.

 

“Please, good innkeeper, this is my wife, Mary. She is heavy with child and needs a place to rest. Surely you must have some small corner for her. She is so tired.” 

 

Now for the first time the Innkeeper relaxed his stiff stance and looked down at Mary. With that, there was a long pause, long enough to make the audience a bit tense with embarrassment.

 

“No! Be gone!” the prompter whispered from the wings.

 

“No!” Wally repeated automatically. “Be gone!”

 

Joseph placed his arm around Mary and Mary laid her head upon her husband’s shoulder and the two of them started to move away. The Innkeeper did not return inside his inn, however. Wally stood in the doorway, watching the forlorn couple. His mouth was open, his brow creased with concern, his eyes filling unmistakably with tears. And suddenly this Christmas pageant became different from all others.

 

“Don’t go Joseph,” Wally called out. “Bring Mary back.” And Wally’s face grew into a bright smile. “You can have my room.”

 

Let's all make room for Jesus. 

 

GOING DEEPER:

1. What can you do this Christmastime to make room for Jesus in your life?

 

FURTHER READING:

Luke 2

Jim Burns is President of HomeWord and Executive Director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family @ Azusa Pacific University. Jim speaks to thousands of people around the world each year. He has over 1.5 million resources in print in over 25 languages. Jim’s radio broadcast is heard on over 800 stations a day and heard around the world via podcast at HomeWord.com. 

Some of his recent books include: Faith Conversations for Families; Teenology: The Art of Raising Great Teenagers, Closer: 52 Devotions to Draw Couples Together, Confident Parenting, The Purity Code and Creating an Intimate Marriage. Jim and his wife, Cathy and their three daughters Christy, Rebecca, and Heidi live in Southern California. 

More of Jim Burns: www.homeword.com

by Mrs. Charles Cowman   

"Shut up to faith" -Gal. 3:23 

God, in olden time suffered man to be kept in ward by the law that he might learn the more excellent way of faith. For by the law he would see God's holy standard and by the law he would see his own utter helplessness; then he would be glad to learn God's way of faith. 

God still shuts us up to faith. Our natures, our circumstances, trials, disappointments, all serve to shut us up and keep us in ward till we see that the only way out is God's way of faith. Moses tried by self-effort, by personal influence, even by violence, to bring about the deliverance of his people. God had to shut him up forty years in the wilderness before he was prepared for God's work. 

Paul and Silas were bidden of God to preach the Gospel in Europe. They landed and proceeded to Philippi. They were flogged, they were shut up in prison, their feet were put fast in the stocks. They were shut up to faith. They trusted God. They sang praises to Him in the darkest hour, and God wrought deliverance and salvation. 

John was banished to the Isle of Patmos. He was shut up to faith. Had he not been so shut up, he would never have seen such glorious visions of God. 

Dear reader, are you in some great trouble? Have you had some great disappointment, have you met some sorrow, some unspeakable loss? Are you in a hard place? Cheer up! You are shut up to faith. Take your trouble the right way. Commit it to God. Praise Him that He maketh "all things work together for good," and that "God worketh for him that waiteth for him." There will be blessings, help and revelations of God that will come to you that never could otherwise have come; and many besides yourself will receive great light and blessing because you were shut up to faith.--C. H. P 

"Great things are done when men and mountains meet, These are not done by jostling in the street."


The public domain version of this classic devotional is the unabridged edition of Streams in the Desert.

- See more at: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions/shut-up-to-faith#sthash.mHDYKIXk.dpuf

Devotions.org, a division of Back to Bible has a daily source of devotions to keep you in touch with God and His word, written by some of today's top authors and Bible teachers. Browse the variety of resources completely on their website. 

More of Devotions.Org: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions

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