Saturday, March 31 2012
I would like to focus on the second part of this scripture, verses 15-19.
Several years ago my sister and I took a trip to Germany. When we were in Heidelberg, there was a large courtyard around the cathedral. Along the outside walls of the cathedral, in between the buttresses, there were very tall cupboards. When the cupboards were open, there were all kinds of statues, religious symbols and articles to buy.
I immediately thought of this scripture and think I understood it a little better. It was like a marketplace and not worshipful at all.
When you see a diagram of the temple, there is a large outer courtyard around the temple. The New English Bible uses the wording of “the temple court.” Maybe this is where Jesus overthrew the tables and chased out the moneychangers.
Is the business we do in the Narthex the same thing?
Dear Lord, Please help us to keep your house a place of prayer and worship for all people.
Friday, March 30 2012
"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."
This passage from Proverbs has long been my favorite Bible verse, and I believe it even more to this day. If you put your faith in the Lord He will get you where you are going. The path you take may not be exactly the one you had planned, or even a path that you like, but you will get where you are going if you put faith in the Lord.
If you had told me when I was a senior in high school, or even on the day I got on the plane to Israel, that I would one day walk the path of Jesus, touch the rock where he was crucified, and be baptized in the same river as He was, I would never have believed it. The whole trip felt like a dream. I couldn’t believe that I could touch the ground and know that Jesus had once walked there.
I’ve known since I was in high school that I want to be a minister. I feel that God is calling to me to lead, so I listened, and the path that I have taken has been an incredible one: Learning Hebrew, being able to read the Bible in the language in which it was written and walking the path that Jesus walked.
I put my faith in the Lord and told Him where I wanted to go, and He has most certainly guided my steps and taken me to places, that I never thought I would ever see in person. So put your faith in the Lord, and trust that He is going to guide you to where you want to be.
Thursday, March 29 2012
SECOND CHANCES THROUGH PRAYER
As a member of the Wednesday night prayer group, I have witnessed the power of prayer many, many times. I have also been a recipient of these prayer requests on several occasions and on two in particular.
In 2009 I was diagnosed with liver cancer and, after successful surgery and a multitude of prayers, I was cured. I am forever grateful to the wonderful doctors and nurses who cared for me during those dark days and also to the people who prayed for my miraculous recovery. In early 2011 I began to experience extreme pain in my upper arm and at first we thought it was arthritis. To our dismay I was diagnosed with bone cancer in April and had to have shoulder replacement surgery to remove the lesion. This was a tough test of my faith. I broke the arm before surgery could be done to remove the lesion and I spent a week in a hospital bed with my left arm strapped to my side, unable to move much and experiencing excruciating pain. My wife, Patricia, and I prayed as never before and asked for everyone’s prayers as well. Our friends and family responded once again with powerful prayers for my recovery and I am now cured of bone cancer. I truly believe that God healed me through the prayers of my family, friends and Church family. The Wednesday night prayer group is very special to me. Wanda, Bev, Lee, Dianne, Carol, Pat, and Sue are the greatest and if any of you are in need of prayer, they are the best and most faithful people that I have ever known. Our Church family helped me so much through that second hospital stay with their visits, prayers, cards and calls. I am especially grateful to Reverend Adams for his compassionate care and to our Associate Minister Wanda along with her family and friend Lee for bringing communion to me when I was unable to leave the hospital. My wife and I will always be grateful for all the prayers and we give thanks to God every day for this second chance at life. We feel that God has a strong need for us to continue serving him here in this life. He isn’t finished with us just yet.
The Jabez Prayer: And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, "Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!" So God granted him what he requested. 1 Chronicles 4:10 (NKJV)
Wednesday, March 28 2012
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Let There Be Peace
I recently read a lengthy article in USA Today about stress in America. It seems that because we cannot manage stress, we have instead chosen to accept it and then we say our stress level has gone down. The article also included a sidebar on stress management techniques. Five strategies were listed. The last on the list was meditation and it included a one sentence mention of prayer.
I could not help but feel that the people writing the article, and those that were interviewed, had missed the bus. The Bible tells us that God will be with us in all things and at all times. It also promises us peace if we just take our needs to God. My prayer is that the people who wrote the article, and those featured in it, find the gift that has been given to all Christians and that they realize they don’t have to accept a high stress level as a given part of their lives; they can pray to God and find relief and peace that will transform their lives.
Prayer: Lord, help us to remember that true peace can only come from You. In this Lenten season, let us seek You out so that we can be become closer to You and find Your grace and peace.
Tuesday, March 27 2012
"Whatever happens, dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord give you joy. I never get tired of telling you this. I am doing this for your own good."
Philippians 3: 1- 11
When I was just ten years old, at a service in the Church of the Nazarene, all were invited to accept Jesus Christ as one's savior. I already knew in my heart that I belonged to Him, and the He, as my savior, had died for my sins. From an earlier age on, I had been one with Christ. But now, prompted by my Aunt, I stood, and accepted Christ as my savior. Thinking back on that, I realize that I was probably not alone in thinking that all it took to be connected with Christ was just to have gone to church my whole life and had a family who worshipped at home.
Now I was a moral individual. I treated others as I wanted to be treated. I was civic-minded and volunteered in the local school as a tutor. I was a youth group leader in my church. Yet all this could not ensure a true relationship with Christ.
I have faith that Christ has wiped my sins away so that God sees me as the perfect being He created. I love God's word and Jesus helps me become more like Him as I grow in his word. Through Jesus, I am right with God.
Please help us all (all your children) accept your gift, the Son you sacrificed, so that we may be free of our sins, and be right with You. Let us not get caught up in our positions, social standing, or accomplishments and "boast about what Christ has done for us" , lest we forget to rely on Christ, the only way to you Father.
Will you be willing to live for Christ - grow in His word and seek God's will? Let us live for Christ as He died for us!
Monday, March 26 2012
“Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.”
My strength comes from the Lord. I’m nothing without Him. I trust Him completely, and I count on Him for everything. When I spend time in his presence, listening to his voice, God quietly leads me along the path of his choosing, a path that is right for me. Maybe I have to go it alone-or take a stand, or speak up for what God has placed in my heart.
Sometimes my actions don’t blend in with what others are doing, but I know God is leading me. When Jesus died, He left us the gift of the Holy Spirit. When I pay close attention, and listen, I am led by Him. Sometimes I hear gentle whispers, or feel a gentle nudge. Other times I can feel God’s leaning so hard to move me in a direction.
As I read this scripture I know that He’ll see me through the tasks He has placed before me. So during this season of Lent, open your heart and mind to Him, and really trust Him. He will hear your cry and be your strength and your shield for your path of His choosing.
Heavenly Father, I praise you and give thanks for being my strength and my shield. I know I can trust You and come to You with anything. You’ll lead me where You want me to go. Continue to show me the way. Open the hearts and minds of those reading this so they can become closer to You. In Jesus’ name I pray.
Sunday, March 25 2012
" For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son. That whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."
There was much ado about something in the pink bathroom . . . shower streaming, hair-dryer blowing, discarded outfits piling. The big day had finally arrived; a day that had been anxiously awaited by my daughter for a couple weeks. At last, a shout of readiness.
A slam of the car door, a cursory wave, a “Bye, daddy!”, . . . and the sinking feelings of a father whose daughter is venturing forth into a world of other men. My daughter is dashing off, down the steps of the middle school entrance to her first dance. My world will never be the same.
Is there such a thing as a rite of passage for fathers ruing the departure of a daughter whose heart
and excitement has never had to be shared with another male?
There was a day upon which God, our Father, sent His Son to this earth to live with us. Most people realize that December 25th is a day of convenience rather than a definite day of actuality. Some maintain the actual day of Christ's birth was in the spring three years earlier. It doesn’t matter when it happened. The fact is it happened. Jesus came to experience what we experience, to be exposed to the same worldly temptations that we are.
Can you imagine the feelings of an all-knowing Father? A God who knows what lies ahead for His Son. A God who knows the sacrifice that will be made. A God who’s given His people the free-will to determine whether the sacrifice means as much to them as it did for Him.
Lord, thank you for the gift of your Son, and forgive us when we don’t always feel Your sacrifice as we ought. Once aware of Your Gift and sacrifice, our world should never be the same. Help us keep our minds and prayers where they should be this Lenten season.
Saturday, March 24 2012
What Helps You Get Out of Bed?
Passion can be shown in many ways, such as an obsession, an affection, or even rage. Sometimes, when people have a passion they love, they get aggravated if someone ruins it. This can lead to a passion of anger, fury, and irritation.
For example, in the Book of Genesis, God shows a passion towards the earth and people He created by sending a great flood. As the story goes, God becomes angry at his creation and all man’s wickedness; He then wants to send a flood to cleanse the earth. God sees Noah as a man made of good and He instructs Noah on how to make an ark and to save two of every animal.
After forty days and nights, God makes Noah’s ark a refuge on a mountain and sends a rainbow to symbolize his promise to never again flood the earth and His creations. God’s passion for His world to live righteously caused Him to have an outburst of fury at the cruel nature of the world and people He created. His passion for us is not only in anger, but love as well.
Passion expresses itself in many ways. Passion can be expressed in someone’s enthusiasm for what they do every day. Passion can also be expressed in someone’s lust and desire for something or someone. Passion can be expressed in someone’s frenzy and irritation for that one thing they love.
As passion shows its many faces we all must appreciate what passion does in our everyday lives. Our passion is the one thing that should make us want to get out of bed in the morning and the one thing we dream about most at night. Passion is the driving force to a world full of people with devotions, irritations, and love.
Friday, March 23 2012
"When the Lord brought back the captives out of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, 'The Lord has done great things for them' The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes Lord like streams in the Negev. Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them."
- PSALM 126
This is a story about the celebration of the release of the people of Zion from captivity. I guess I wasn’t exactly sure of the meaning of this Psalm at first. But when I studied it a while, I realized that this was a song of Thanksgiving. The people of Zion had been taken away from their homes and their loved ones and were finally able to go home.
Just how many times have we all rejoiced to just “come home”? We all love to go somewhere on vacation, but at the end of the time, we look forward to going home. Even if it is at the end of a very frustrating, busy day at work, the most comforting thought is coming home.
Last fall, we got together to celebrate Mom’s 90th birthday. My niece, who lives in Portland, Oregon, had not seen my nephew, who lives in Chesapeake, Virginia, in over 20 years. Both my niece and my nephew’s families had never met. They both said that coming here to see the whole family together was like “coming home” after a long time away. Our “mouths were filled with laughter” that day.
It is like that when we stray from the Lord and the church. Then, when something happens, we turn back to the church and to the teachings with which we are familiar. It is like being returned after a long absence.
We are so grateful, Lord, of the many blessings that You give us. In coming to You Lord, it is indeed like coming home to be in your loving and protecting arms.
Thursday, March 22 2012
The Serenity Prayer is a familiar prayer to most of us. I have seen plaques, pictures, cards, etc. that display the first part of the prayer. It is also well known because it is prayed everyday by thousands of people across the country at AA meetings for recovering alcoholics. I believe that we all can benefit from praying this powerful prayer that asks God for acceptance. Acceptance is a difficult thing. Many times it is hard to accept things that happen in our lives, when people won’t accept us and also we sometimes have difficulty accepting others or ourselves. On my Journey to the Cross during this season of Lent, instead of Giving Up something like chocolate (which we all know I could never do!) I am asking that God to help me Give the same acceptance to myself and others that He gives me.
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Wednesday, March 21 2012
"Now all the tax gathers and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. And both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble saying, 'This man receives sinners and eats with them.' And He told them this parable, saying, 'What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!' I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance." (NAS)
Luke 15: 1-8
And so it is that many of us may think, “Wow, I must have caused great joy in heaven in my time”.
But it is clear than Jesus is not only asking for us to repent of our sins, but is further telling us that we cannot stop with just ourselves. We definitely have a responsibility to help others also to believe in Jesus, our Savior. For this task we need additional strength.
Let us pray:
Heavenly Father, we hear your commandment to help our brothers know the truth, that You have made evident to us. But, as with all things, we cannot do it ourselves. We pray for the strength, the courage and the knowledge so that we may do your work, within ourselves and within our brothers and sisters hearts. We pray for these things in Jesus name.
Tuesday, March 20 2012
“Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my inequity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord” and you forgave the guilt of my sins.”
Like King David, isn’t it wonderful to know that the Lord’s capacity to forgive is greater than our capacity to sin?
A close friend of mine died several years ago. Tom (not his real name) and I were softball teammates for over twenty years. An extraordinary athlete, Tom was also a heavy gambler, drinker, and notorious womanizer. A great teammate and great co-worker, but a bad family man. Whenever anyone needed some self-justification, Tom was the guy everyone measured their shortcomings against.
No one was surprised when Tom retired a broken man, having lost his wife, his home, and the love of his family. He and I remained friends, though, and I listened as he lamented his losses. With nothing left but a suitcase and a truck, he moved to Florida.
Tom returned years later, remarried to a church pastor and with claims of being “reborn”. Most thought it a joke, or worse yet, a scam. But I saw a real transformation. His whole demeanor had changed. He was gentle. He spoke kindly and showed a genuine concern for others. He was humble, yet contentment and confidence radiated from him. He seemed reconciled. The drinking and swearing was gone. Tom remained that way for the rest of his life, and he also repaired his family relationships.
The last time I saw Tom alive was at my home. He called from Florida, asking if it was alright to come visit and pray with us, knowing that my wife Kathy was terminally ill. Of course it was.
That is how I will remember my friend.
Lord, I am now willing that You should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that You now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to You and my fellows. Amen.
Monday, March 19 2012
What makes a good friend? Typically, a friend is someone you like being with and you can talk with. A friend is someone you can count on when you’re feeling down, need help, or just want to have fun.
For the most part, people see God as the ultimate creator, our Heavenly Father, and of course, our God. But sometimes, we seem to forget that God is also our friend, and that our journey to the cross -- our journey of faith through the body of Christ -- is much like the journey to a great friendship.
In the Book of Ruth, the Moabite Ruth was a true friend to her Israelite mother-in-law, Naomi. That friendship led Ruth to accept Naomi’s God, and to go to live with Naomi in Israel after the deaths of Naomi‘s husband and two sons -- one of which, of course, was Ruth‘s husband.
Naomi had urged Ruth to return to her former family, but Ruth was determined to stay by her mother-in-law’s side, saying, “Don’t urge me to leave you or turn back from you. Where you will go, I will go. Where you will stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God my God.”
Times of loss or pain can trigger chances to deepen friendships. The deaths of Naomi’s husband and her two sons -- one of them being Ruth’s husband -- allowed Ruth the opportunity to deepen her friendship with Naomi. By staying obedient to Naomi’s words of advice, Ruth was able to gain favor in the eyes of a successful man who well-provided for her, who later became her husband, and together they had a son.
We should approach our journey of faith as Ruth approached her journey with Naomi and embrace our challenges as chances to deepen our friendship with God. By being obedient, loyal and trusting, and following Naomi and her words, Ruth was able to become blessed and prosperous. If we trust in God and listen to his instruction, we too can live blessed and prosperous lives.
Lord, help us to gain the qualities of friendship Ruth had toward her mother in law and incorporate those qualities into a strengthening of our friendship with you. Lord, help us to remember to keep you in our hearts and minds in our times of change and struggle and help us to be trusting and obedient to your words. Help us in our journey of faith by improving our friendship with You. In God’s name we pray. Amen
Sunday, March 18 2012
"Be silent, and know I am God"
Silence! How sweet the sound! Too often we allow busyness to fill our lives and we fail to take time to listen to God. He is omnipresent. You need only to be still and listen for Him in the silence. It is the loveliest sound you will ever hear and surely you'll feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. As we commune with God, He listens and replies in His own time and at His own will. We must learn to listen for Him. God has a vision and purpose for your life. Allow Him to guide you as He will. Be still and honor the Lord's reverence.
God wants a personal relationship with you. That relationship can be obtained with personal prayer, Bible study, worship, Christian fellowship and service to Him. Those personal times of prayer and silence will not only surprise you but will revive you and you'll experience the presence of God. Be silent! Listen! God is waiting to chat with you. He's but a heartbeat away!
Blessed Father God, I praise you for the blessings you bestow on me every day of my life. Teach me to listen for you in the silence. I ask you to let my ears hear your words and lead me to heed them. In the name of your precious son Jesus, who sacrificed His life for redemption of my sins so that I may reside eternally with You. Amen.
Saturday, March 17 2012
“All the special gifts and powers from God will someday come to an end, but love goes on forever.”
1 Corinthians 13: 8
It has been 71 years since Reverend EJ Penhorwood baptized me, and I cannot believe how the time has flown by. Through the years, I have tried to do my best at a job, raising a family, and developing a god-given talent. All these things are important in this world, but this world is not the end. We as Christians have a much better life to look forward to- the life that Jesus has promised us. The worldly accomplishments are important if done with love. This to me is the only thing that really lasts or is remembered. It is not easy to do this with all the worldly distractions and temptations. Some days I fail and ask for forgiveness. Jesus is always there to pick me up and set me straight again.. I ask him, “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you, Lord.” Being a long time member of the Christian Action Committee has helped me to be part of a mission to help people and I love the work we do. Hopefully you can find a mission that you enjoy that spreads faith, hope, and love, with love being the greatest.
Friday, March 16 2012
"Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity."
1 Timothy 4:12
Being a teenager is one of the most stressful, yet enjoyable, times of your life. With school, work, and all the other activities you are involved in, it gets so over whelming.
Being a young Christian is even more difficult. Have you ever had someone look at you as a role model of the Christian faith? Being a young Christian means you have to prove to God, your peers, your elders and yourself that you are a strong individual in your faith, and that’s harder than it sounds. Being a young Christian, I know how it feels to be an example for all youth in faith.
This year at camp I was elected to be Girl-Co of Lakeside Conference - which is a huge privilege. I was chosen to represent my church and my conference. I have to lead my peers in faith, and to me that’s a difficult thing to do. All eyes are on me and my other two officers to make the week of camp go smooth and peaceful.
With God's help, anything is possible. Everyone is a role model. Everywhere we go, we take our faith to the world in life, in love, in faith and in purity.
Let us pray:
I am so happy to be one of your children, learning to grow in faith and in love. Let us all represent you, young or old, to show our faith to the world. We thank you for all that you have given us, and we thank you for our youth. Let them shine. Let the world see that they are strong in faith, in love and in life. In your name we pray.
Thursday, March 15 2012
"Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain."
This very simple prayer speaks volumes. It reminds us that God provides us with exactly what we need. If we have too much, we may decide we don’t need God in our lives, and we can handle things by ourselves. That usually gets us into trouble as we think we’re smarter than God. If we don’t have enough we may try and decide to get what we think we need in some not so good ways.
During your journey through this season of Lent, allow God to provide you what you need. Concentrate on what God is trying to tell you and let Him lead you. You may be surprised at how much more than daily bread you receive.
We thank you for all that you’ve given us and continue to provide us in spite of our shortcomings. Help us to take the time to stop and really listen to what you’re telling us. Be with us during this journey. Help us to follow you and be grateful for our daily bread.
Wednesday, March 14 2012
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.”
This past summer, I was in a rut. I graduated in June with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and just didn’t see any jobs out there that were calling my name. I was praying for a “do over.” What I had in mind was a new job making lots of money, my bills all paid off, and that my body looked like a 30 year old’s- firm and shapely. Of course I wanted all of this without lifting a finger. What God had in mind for this “do over” was different than what I had in mind, that’s for sure. Or was it?
This fall, when my world was turned upside down, I was telling a friend that I had been asking for a “do over” from God, and she said that she thought that maybe I wasn’t being specific enough with my prayers. Yes, we do need to be specific with our prayers, but I think that God already had this plan in motion. He was letting me know that He doesn’t want me to pray for things that are worldly. I am sure that He does have a plan for me; I do not know what it is, but I just need to keep praying and have faith.
I attended a Dave Ramsey seminar on budgeting, and I am a part of The Big Give program at Total Fitness Solutions to tone my body. The job is still up in the air, but I have clarified some things, so I have a start in the right direction. Somewhere in all of this is a blessing. Is it a blessing that I am trying to live a healthier lifestyle or that I am managing my money better, or is the blessing that I show everyone a little love because I want the footprints that I leave to be those of love and kindness? Is His plan for me to be a blessing to others and continue grow in my faith? I honestly don’t know, but I do know that my faith has become stronger.
Oh God, I do not know the plans you have for me, but I do know that I believe. I believe in you and me, and I know that together we can do all things because You are my strength and my rock. Amen.
Tuesday, March 13 2012
“So, as those who have been chosen by God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.”
The Greek word used most often in the New Testament for forgive is aphiemi. It means “to let go from one’s power, possession, to let go free, let escape.” In essence, the intent of biblical forgiveness is to cut someone loose. The word picture drawn by the Greek term for unforgiveness is one in which the “unforgiven” is roped to the back of the unforgiving. See the irony? Basically…by not being willing to forgive we are securely binding ourselves to that which we hate the most.
I think our biggest struggle with forgiveness is that we believe by granting that forgiveness we are letting that person “off the hook” or saying that it is all right. But that isn’t it at all. The truth is that the one who will not forgive always suffers more than the one not forgiven. We need to seriously take a look at why we need to forgive. He commands it for our own salvation: “if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”
Take the time to listen for His gentle whisper to your heart…He will let you know that by choosing to forgive it doesn’t make the offense all right, it will make YOU all right! He requires us to forgive for our own sake, so that we will not be tortured, or essentially carry it roped to our backs, for the rest of our lives.
A final thought, we must forgive because we are not the only one’s bound by the rope of unforgiveness. When we refuse to forgive, we tie God’s mighty hands from “working all things together for our good.” He cannot bring blessings to you from your pain if you do not release Him through your forgiveness. I won’t take the time now, but read Romans 8:28. He has a purpose in the pain you’ve suffered or He never would have allowed it. Meaning, if we cannot forgive and His hands remain bound, then it all happened in vain—for absolutely nothing.
I pray that you take these simple thoughts and think about what types of unforgiveness you may be harboring in your heart. Give it away! Let Him bless you! The biggest gift, besides my salvation of course, is the ability He gave me to forgive. You can be free!
Monday, March 12 2012
Matthew makes our transition from Old Testament to New Testament easier. Matthew tells of the birth of Jesus, His baptism by John the Baptist, calling of the twelve disciples, and the beginning of His ministry.
Jesus then begins teaching the disciples how they are to live and to spread His Father’s word. Many important lessons were taught, but none more important than prayer.
We are to pray quietly and reverently, praising and petitioning God. The religious leaders of that day stood on the streets and prayed loudly to call attention to themselves. This does not please God. We are not to brag about what we do, but be humble and silent. We do not even need to say the words because God knows what is in our hearts.
To help us, God gave us a prayer to use: The Lord’s Prayer. Many times prayers recited from memory can console us in difficult times. God wants us to forgive those who sin against us. If we do, He promises He will forgive us. We have two ways to communicate with God- read His word and pray. We should pray to God just as if we were talking to our very best friend. Thank Him for what He does for us, tell Him our concerns and the concerns of others, and praise Him. Then comes another important part of prayer: listening. Sit back and wait for God to speak to you. But remember- God’s time is different than ours, so we sometimes have to wait awhile. God is always patient with us, so we should be patient with Him.
A dear friend, Milo, taught me to pray for God to open my heart and mind before I read the Bible. At first I didn’t understand this, but I found that it really works. His guidance is always what I need.
Pray daily and diligently.
Dear Heavenly Father: Open our hearts and minds to Your teachings. Help us to always follow your guidance. We praise you for all you do and give us each and every day. We ask this in Your holy name, Amen.
Sunday, March 11 2012
"And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil."
The Lord’s Prayer: a prayer of praise and thanksgiving, a prayer that should never be taken lightly. When we study the Lord’s Prayer we are being taught how wonderful our Father is (hallowed). We are acknowledging his kingdom to come. We humble ourselves when asking for our daily bread. We ask for forgiveness, while willingly forgiving others. We are also asking our Lord to guide us down the path to righteousness.
I have depended on prayer since my youth. Through prayer the Lord has wiped away my tears, comforted my fears, brought light into my darkness and came to my rescue when demons were whispering in my ear. Many trials have come my way; praying to God gets me through each day. I like to thank God for each day and talk about home, work and those I meet along the way. Jesus died on the cross to give us access to the Father and the Father wants to hear from us.
Thank you for the sacrifices You made for the unworthy me. Whether in sadness or in joy I appreciate the access to open communication with You. All praises be to You dear Lord. Amen.
Saturday, March 10 2012
"Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer Him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."
"Pass It On"
In the Spring of 1995, my grandmother died at 100 years of age. As I drove to Cleveland for the funeral, I grieved for her. But I also thought of the prior 10 years and how I had drifted away from my family. My job provided me income and prestige. This enabled me to enjoy life and escape reality by indulging in drink and games. I had become selfish, self-indulgent, and prideful. I was filled with a feeling of guilt as I thought that I was not honoring my grandmother, or my God.
At the funeral service, I listened to the words of Psalm 91 in the song "On Eagle's Wings". I felt my guilt lifted as the words of protection filled my ears. All I had to do was acknowledge God's name and seek shelter in His word. Jesus paid the price of my freedom from guilt. I thank God for my grandmother and the faith I learned from her.
We are called to pass on the good news of God's forgiveness. I pray that we may serve God out of gratitude for that freedom. God grant us strength and courage to live our lives in ways which honor you.
Friday, March 09 2012
“Until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”
This was Paul’s earnest prayer for all believers. He hoped that we would all attain to our measure of stature in the fullness of Christ. Paul prayed in Ephesians 3:18-19 as well that we may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge, that we may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Paul stresses to us the importance of spiritual growth in our lives as Christians. It is one thing to be saved by God, but it is quite another to be filled by God! And this I can attest to from the depths of my soul. If you stop at salvation, then you will indeed receive rewards, blessings, and peace in the afterlife. But if you continue on and invest time into growing closer to God spiritually, then you can receive so much more in this lifetime as well! Paul prayed that we would be able to comprehend this type of fullness along with him and the rest of the saints. He said that this fullness surpasses knowledge. I agree, because there aren’t enough words in the English language to describe what I personally feel as I continue to grow in God’s presence!
The Bible is one of God’s ways to talk directly to us and therefore build a relationship with us. I think we can all agree that it is difficult to have sincere feelings for a person that we haven’t spent much time getting to know. In the same way, it is only natural that we grow much closer to those whom we spend more time with. Why should it be any different with God? Hebrews 4:12 tells us that God’s word is not just ink on paper. It is living and active. Every time you open your Bible to read, God gets to have a conversation with you. He can’t wait to talk to you and tell you all about Himself! I picture Him right there with me each time, eager to reveal more and more about who He is! I like to think of reading the Bible as learning to speak God’s language.
Dear Lord, help us to understand that the amount of time and energy which we put forth into our side of the relationship will be directly proportional to the measure of Your fullness which we will receive.
Thursday, March 08 2012
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ..."
II Corinthians 5:17 - 18a
The Delight of Creating
The caterpillar doesn't argue that it would rather be a butterfly. It simply submits to the plan that God created for it and curls up inside the cocoon when the time comes for the miracle to take place. And what a miracle it is. When the transformation is complete, a different creature...different in form and different in ability...emerges from the cocoon and flies away with wings to begin its new life.
In his mercy, God transform you as well...if you let Him. He exchanges the old self for grace and compassion. After his work is complete in you, you emerge as someone better than you were before. With God's love and grace inside you, a heart soaked in knowledge of God changes you from the inside out. In His joy He has created new life and conditions for hope to mature and blossom.
Lord, I pray that You will have mercy upon me, according to Your loving kindness and tender mercies. Create in me a clean heart with a steadfast spirit, so that time of refreshing may come from Your presence. Amen.
Wednesday, March 07 2012
“Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord.”
I have been blessed with a long and very good life. I will be 103 this June 1. To say that my life has been a bed of roses would not be true, but the good times have been wonderful and with the help of the Lord I was able to get through the difficult times.
I was so fortunate to have a family that brought me up in the church. In 1940, a couple of years after Chet and I had our son Jim, a friend invited me to come to South Side. She told me about the wonderful program for children, so I brought Jim, and five years later, our daughter Janet. My husband and I both became active in our Sunday school classes. I have fond memories of the Sunday school teachers who helped lay my faith foundation and others like Harold and Ilo Ream who had such an influence on my life. I learned the importance of starting my day with prayer and devotions, which I continue to do today. All was well until at only 65 years of age, my husband died, and the following month I had a mastectomy. Two huge blows right on top of each other.
If not for my faith and support of our church, I don’t know how I would have made it through those tough times. I will always remember the kindness of Reverend Detrick, our Associate Minister at that time, who called me each evening after my surgery just to see how I was feeling. Those calls were invaluable to me. My faith has been my constant companion throughout my life. I’ve learned that trusting that God will take care of me is better for my health than worrying about things I cannot change. My only regret is that I can no longer attend worship on Sunday. However, each Saturday I get the weekly bulletin in the mail and follow it on Sunday mornings!
Looking forward to giving you an update next year.
Tuesday, March 06 2012
“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
How many times do we stop and recognize God in our midst? Be still and appreciate God in the morning sunrise or evening sunset, the stars and moon at night or even the majesty of our Lord in a fearsome storm.
Every nation shares in His glory with landscapes and waterways to awe you and skies of endless beauty. Every tree is a reminder of the loving sacrifice Christ gave for us.
God is exalted in this earth and in every breath we breathe. We should be still and appreciate our God.
Dearest Lord, Thank you for our daily reminders of You in the beauty of each day. From the giggles of an innocent child to the darkest scary night we know that You are there for us. You are exalted in this earth. Amen.
Monday, March 05 2012
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
When I first came across this verse it really hit home. There was a difficult situation going on with someone I considered to be a close friend. I kept asking "what did I do to deserve this" or "why would You want to let her hurt me?" Then this verse jumped out of a book at me.
I immediately got out of bed, wrote it down and hung it on my desk because it truly comforted me and made my heart feel safe. It's not that the end of the friendship didn't make me sad but I realized I needed to let the Lord have His way and trust that He would take me where I needed to be.
Since that night this very special verse has shown up in books I've read, television shows and movies. In fact, I was out shopping one day with my mom and there it was on a plaque - that plaque is now on a shelf in my family room for all to enjoy!
We can mistakenly think that the Lord's plan is always going to be one that makes us happy but that is not always true. I'm sure we have all realized that during the most difficult situations in our lives. When my son had to have a VP Shunt put into his brain at 18 months old I will admit I was angry with God. What right did he have to punish a child for whatever it was He thought I did wrong?
I guess what we have to realize is that in the long run the Lord's eternal plan will show us all that trusting Him is the best way to go. Today my son is a happy, healthy 12 year old young man who shows me every day that trusting the Lord's plan for me is the best way to live.
Dear Lord, In my most difficult moments please help me trust in your plan. Amen.
Sunday, March 04 2012
“After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision. “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless…”
Genesis 15: 1-2
On December 20, 1979, I received my blessing from God: a beautiful baby girl. When we went to see her for the very first time, the door opened and my heart sank as I heard my baby crying. My first thought was, “Oh my! What have I gotten myself into?” The social worker placed her in my arms and she continued to cry. I laid her down and dressed her in a white bunting with little pink roses and talked to her softly, trying to console her, but nothing helped. When I picked her up again and we walked out the door, the crying stopped, almost like someone turned off a switch. She knew she was going home.
We have a framed wall hanging in our home that says, “If you say one prayer in your lifetime, say ‘thank you’ and it will be enough.”
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you. In His holy name I pray, Amen.
Saturday, March 03 2012
In Youth We Learn: In Age We Understand -
Marie Von Ebner-Eschenbach quotes (Austrian novelist, 1830-1916)
My grandmother was raised in the Dunkard faith...a branch of the Amish who believed in baptismal immersion rather than the sprinkling of water. When she married an "outsider" they joined a dedicated group of people worshiping in a shelter on South Main Street in Lima, Ohio. Later these same people would build a church on the corner of Central and Kibby streets and call themselves South Side Church of Christ....Disciples of Christ. It was here as a young woman, I would hear John Rankin open his lesson each Sunday morning saying, "Remember, there is churchanity and Christianity." And a dear Mrs. Wallace who would begin her lesson with the words from the Apostle Paul to his adopted son Timothy. Words which were to become a favorite Bible verse of mine. "Study, to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2nd Timothy 2:15).
Today, as I write the weekly Sunday School lesson for the Wapakoneta Daily News, I remind myself always "to study to shew myself approved unto God..."
My growing-up years were spent with summers on my grandmother's farm where she taught me many beautiful songs such as "Love Lifted Me", "The Old Rugged Cross", "Rock of Ages", and many more. These sacred hymns have brought me through many rough times. When I view my life as a journey, I can look back with a new understanding that life's challenges were not to paralyze one, they were, and are, supposed to help us discover who we are.
In my 95th year, I fell and broke my hip. As my eldest grandson and his mother waited with me for the elevator to take me to surgery, the doctor said to me, "Mrs. Gordon, we can't promise anything at your age." Remembering a dear friend, who had broken her hip when she was 96 years old and died on the operating table, I said to him, "Doctor, I am not afraid to die." The elevator door opened and my God and I went up to surgery together. Recuperating at Vancrest Health Care Center in Delphos, Ohio, I had many days to meditate and I gave thanks for all those who have walked beside me. Life has been, and still is, a glorious journey as I walk in faith with my God.
"If I may choose, when I lie down to my last sleep, and purple morning breaketh, these things I ask of Thee dear Lord, when my soul awaketh: Tall trees, and flowers growing, a few dear friends and a river flowing" Still, Still With Thee by Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Friday, March 02 2012
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. 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 you.”
A very wise Sunday school teacher was speaking to our class on the subject of forgiveness. She shared with us that we must separate the person from the action. We can love someone, but dislike what they‘ve done. If we are unable to forgive, we place ourselves above Jesus, who ultimately forgave his crucifiers. No one is perfect. Great or small, mistakes are made and sins against others are committed. Alexander Pope wrote, “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” If we harbor unresolved bitterness and unforgiveness, our hearts harden, our souls become poisoned, and we become closed. Our God is a loving, merciful God who wants us to be kind and loving toward those around us. When we are unforgiving, we place a barrier between ourselves and our Father. But when we forgive, we are sharing Christian love. Sometimes it is difficult. But if we ask God to remove the bitterness, a weight is lifted. God knows our hearts. He does know what we need before we even ask. All we must do is ask.
Dear Father: Sometimes in our humanness, we fall short when we try to do what you call us to do. But you love us anyway. Help us to forgive in the way that you forgive us. Amen.
Thursday, March 01 2012
"I live in the high and holy places, but also with the low-spirited, the spirit-crushed...And what I do is put new spirit in them, get them up and on their feet again..."
Isaiah 57: 14-21
From the moment I read this scripture, I knew verse 15 was to be my focus. It’s been popular recently, certainly among TV personalities, to teach about the abundant life; that God provides wealth and prosperity to those He loves. I believe that God wants an abundant life for His children (John 10:10), but I’m not sure He would agree with the very material understanding many have of abundance. God certainly loves and dwells with those who have wealth and prosperity, but He is also with those who have nothing, not even the spirit to continue on.
I believe an abundant life in Christ means living in His abundant love, knowing He will provide all you need, which may be (and in my case, often is) different from what you want. It means loving your neighbors as yourself and showing that love in word and deed.
My favorite Bible verse has always been Job 13: 15, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” Through the many trials and tribulations of life, large and small, this verse has kept my hope and faith where it should be, in God.
As Job 13:15 (and the rest of the Book) teaches, living in Christ does not mean that life will always be easy, but even in the lowest times, Christ is there. If we only trust in Him, He will lift us up and put new spirit in us, allowing us to carry on, living in Him and for Him.
Dear Lord, thank You for loving us no matter what. Help us to trust You in our life, no matter the situation we find ourselves in. As we continue on this Journey to the Cross, let us focus on the sacrifices You have made for love of us.