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SITTING UP OR LYING DOWN?
A Red Cross representative was contacting local churches for planning purposes in the event of a disaster. Answering the phone, the pastor said, “Please, Ma’am, How may I help you?”
“I’m calling on behalf of the Red Cross,” she said, “and I would like to know how many people might be able to lie down and sleep in your facilities in the event of a disaster.”
Thinking for a moment about what might be possible, he responded with a smile, “I don’t know how many might be able to lie down and sleep comfortably, but I know that about nine hundred sleep sitting upright every Sunday morning.”
Sleeping in church is a byproduct for many tired Sunday morning worshipers. Whether it is a sermon that is not mentally challenging or spiritually stimulating or the result of insufficient sleep or rest is not the point. We go to church to worship God and recognize our need to gather together in His name. We set aside time and things when we attend church that normally concerns us and focus minds and hearts on the greatness of our Creator – His holiness, power and grace, and our unworthiness, our need for His grace, and our dependence upon Him to meet our every need.
Gathering together for worship is our duty and responsibility and must be done with a sense of expectation, eagerness, and excitement.
Prayer:Lord, may we enter into Your presence with praise and thanksgiving, coming together to honor Your goodness, grace, and glory. May we do so with expectations. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 66:4 Everything on earth will worship you; they will sing your praises, shouting your name in glorious songs.
THE GREATEST OFFERING
It was the final night of the annual missionary conference. There were missionaries from many nations gathered to tell of the work of God all around the world. Hearts were deeply touched, and many lives were changed.
The pastor concluded the final service with an offering that was to be shared among the speakers. The plates were filled with money and checks. But on one plate was a note that simply read, “Myself.” Underneath the word “Myself” was the name and phone number of the person who signed it.
The next day the pastor called the young man who signed it and asked, “What do you mean, James?”
“I’m giving myself to become a missionary,” he said. And then he added, “I’m willing to go anywhere and do anything at any cost to serve the Lord.”
James made an important gift to God: his body. Unfortunately, many Christians believe that God is only concerned about our souls. Not so! We need to realize that our bodies belong to God just as much as our souls. When we give Him our souls, He expects our bodies as well.
The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and is the only instrument through which the Holy Spirit works. So, Paul says, “Take your body and think of all that it does each day – the skills and the abilities it performs, and with training, can perform – and offer your body and its potential – to God. And when you do, follow Him where He leads You.”
Prayer:May we realize, Father, that You expect us to give our bodies to You just as Your only Son did. May we not limit what You can do because we fail to give our bodies. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Romans 12:1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.
GIVING IN OR GROWING IN HIM?
We all have had days filled with discouragement and disappointments. Perhaps more than we care to recall. Often they are used by the devil to defeat and destroy us.
Think of discouragement. It comes from being dissatisfied with things in the past, a distaste of our present situation or quite possibly a distrust of the future. When we allow ourselves to become discouraged, we are surrendering our courage to what we have allowed to overcome us. Discouragement is a signal from God that the devil is trying to take away the hope He has given us in Christ. When we feel discouraged we need to take away the “d” and replace it with an “H” and call for “His-courage” to enable us to be victorious.
We also need to realize that our disappointments are, in fact, His-appointments! Nothing enters our life by chance – only by and through Christ. Often when things do not go as we intended them to go, we consider them to be one of life’s disappointments. However, what we need to realize is that God Himself is intervening in our life. He is attempting to get our attention. He wants us to make an adjustment to what we are doing with our lives or our thoughts or our intentions that are not in line with the plans He has for us.
Not everything that happens to us can be considered “good” at the time it happens or is happening – but, one day, everything will eventually be “good” for us.
Prayer:Help us, Father, to believe that You love us too much to abandon us, care for us too much to harm us, and too gracious to keep what we need from us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes everything to work togetherfor the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
MAKE YOUR PLANS LARGE!
One of my most prized possessions is my mother’s Bible. Its cover is well worn – the brown leather comes through the black dye. The pages are turned up at the corners and show wrinkles from tear stains. Verses are underlined and endless notes in the margins show her thoughts and insights about her insights. There are dates next to many promises of God where she claimed them on behalf of her husband and children, missionaries and friends.
But there is one verse that sums up her undying faith in God: Ephesians 3:20. In the column next to that verse, she wrote: “If God’s your partner, make your plans large!”
Why would she write those words?
Ephesians 3:20 says, “God is able to do.” Certainly, people can “do” too. But the verse continues…
“God is able to do abundantly.” People are limited and often unable to do what needs to be done without including God in the equation.
“God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask.” Is that it, or what more, if anything, is there for us to ask, Paul? Is there anything beyond exceedingly and abundantly?
Yes! “God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think!”
We often limit our asking and thinking because we limit the power and might and Sovereignty of God. No wonder she wrote, “If God’s your partner, make your plans large.”
Prayer:How unfortunate, Father, that we limit You when we limit what we believe You can do for us and through us. Increase our faith to match Your power. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Ephesians 3:20Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
ASK AND ASK AND ASK AGAIN!
As she tucked little Lynn into bed, her Mom asked, “Have you said your prayers yet?”
“Well, not really,” she answered. “I started to say them. I got down on my knees and when I started saying them I remembered that they were the same ones that I said last night. Since I didn’t want to bore God, I told Him the story of the Three Bears. I hope He liked it.”
Our prayers never bore God. Jesus said just the opposite. On one occasion when He was teaching people to pray, He advised them to “Continue to ask until you get what you want; continue to search until you find what you are looking for, and continue to knock on the door that is closed until it is opened.” There is a most important lesson for us to accept and believe.
God will always answer our prayers, but He will answer them in His time and in the way that reveals His perfect wisdom and unconditional love for us. If He were to answer our requests without applying His wisdom and love, it might be the worst possible thing for us. Often we ask for things that, if our prayers were granted without His insight and love, it could be our ruin and bring about our destruction!
Jesus assures us that God will answer our prayers if we insist and persist. Not only will He answer them at the right time but that we will eventually and ultimately understand His wisdom, love and plan He has for us. It’s often hard to believe that He knows what is best for us.
Prayer:Lord, we ask for determination to keep on asking, seeking and knocking. Give us patience to wait, believing that Your answer will be what we need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Matthew 7:7-11 Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.
HOW STRONG IS YOUR BELIEF?
Watching a person walking across a deep crevice on a wire is nerve-racking for most of us. As they carefully make their way from one side to the other with their long pole, it becomes frightening, even breath-taking at times.
There was a “walker” who decided that he was going to walk from one side of Niagara Falls to the other pushing a wheelbarrow that contained 200 pounds of rocks. When he accomplished his goal flawlessly, the reporters in the crowd thronged him with several questions. After answering a few of their questions he looked one of them in the eye and asked, “Do you think I can take my wheelbarrow back to the other side?”
Quickly the reporter responded, “Yes, I certainly do!”
“Good,” he said. “Then you believe that I can do it.”
“Of course I believe you can,” said the reporter.
Dumping the bricks on the ground in front of him he said, “If you believe it – get in the wheelbarrow and let me push you to the other side.”
Accepting Christ as our Savior is the first step in our walk of faith. It begins with “believe and be saved!” However, when we recognize Jesus as Lord, it means that we will trust Him completely to get us safely from where we are at that moment until we will be with Him in glory.
Our journey will have times of doubt, fear, and uncertainty but we must always trust Him.
Prayer:Give us courage, Father, to trust You for safe passage through those times in our lives when we fear “letting go and letting God” carry us through scary times. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Acts 16:31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.”
ANGER AND FORGIVENESS
One of the most esteemed and honored paintings in the world is The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. It is a marvel of grace and beauty, peace and calmness.
While da Vinci was in the process of painting it, one of his friends came to visit him. As they were talking, da Vinci became angry with him. As they continued arguing, he completely lost his temper and lashed out at his guest with bitter words.
After the man left his studio, he returned to his canvas to paint the face of Christ. Try as he would, he could not bring himself to continue his work on this part of the painting. His madness made him so miserable that he had to stop what he was doing.
Finally, after putting down his brushes, he searched out the man he had quarreled with to ask for his forgiveness. The man accepted his apology and da Vinci returned to his easel and completed painting the face of our Lord.
Anger is one of our most destructive emotions. It not only reveals a weakness in us but a true lack of our faith in God to solve our problems. When we act in anger, it is because we want to control others, usually to the point of harming them in one way or another. God made all of us different, and when we disagree with another person, it’s not who is right or wrong, but God wanting us to look at what is going on and see if there is something we can learn from one another.
Prayer:Lord, we need to be patient with others whom You love as much as You do each of us. When we disagree, give us the patience to be kind and think carefully. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 37:8 Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper – it only leads to harm.
DID GOD REALLY CAUSE THE FIRE?
Shortly after a new nightclub was opened near a church, the members decided to call an all-night prayer meeting. While they were praying, a powerful thunderstorm engulfed the city, and lightning struck the club and burned it to the ground.
The owner of the club became angry and decided to sue the church. At the hearing, however, the church denied any responsibility for the destruction of the club.
Confused, the judge exclaimed, “I’m not sure where the guilt may lie. On one hand, the nightclub owner believes in prayer, but – strangely – the members of the church don’t.”
On one occasion when Jesus was teaching His followers and disciples about eternal life, someone asked, “But who can be saved?” He replied, “Humanly speaking, it is something man cannot do. But with God, all things are possible.”
Prayer is asking and receiving. It is not hoping or wishing or wondering. It is receiving God’s blessings – whatever they may be. Yet, it is not unusual for Christians to pray, and then be amazed, even surprised, when God answers a prayer that exceeds their faith. How interesting.
Perhaps that’s why Jesus made that statement when talking about salvation. Consider this: if God can redeem us from our sinful nature, make us “new creations” and grant us eternal life, can He not do anything else we ask in His name and for His glory?
Prayer: Help us, Father, to have a faith that exceeds our doubts, is stronger than the attacks of Satan, and stronger than any temptation that could ever defeat us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Mark 10:27But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”
WHAT’S IN A NUMBER?
When Harlan Sanders turned forty, he realized that he could not point to anything in his life that could be considered a success. No matter what he attempted to accomplish, he never succeeded. One day someone said to him, “Harlan, life begins at forty!” It jolted him so strongly that it awakened his faltering faith, and he determined, with God’s help, to begin again.
After a time of prayer, he decided to open a service station. Shortly after its opening, he added a luncheonette. One meal his customers enjoyed the most was his fried chicken. To make it tastier and more appealing, he came up with a “special” batter and called it the Harlan Sanders’ Kentucky Fried Chicken. People enjoyed it so much that they soon recommended it to their friends. It brought him so much fame and fortune that the Governor of Kentucky made him a “Kentucky Colonel.” Soon people everywhere were buying the “Colonel’s” Kentucky Fried Chicken.
By God’s grace and the Colonel’s faith, what had been a life of failure and frustration became a life with a future and personal fulfillment. His new life, however, did not begin at forty. It began when God became the major ingredient in his life’s “recipe.”
When God becomes the main “ingredient” of our life, everything will change and become new. With God as the centerpiece and His Word as our guide, we can overcome any obstacle or difficulty that stands in the way of our success.
Prayer: Let us realize, Lord, that greater things are possible when we trust in You and use the gifts You have given us to honor You. Take us and bless us for Your sake. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
HE BOWLED THREE HUNDRED! WHAT A GAME!
Tombstones are lasting reminders of what people accomplished in life. One that is very interesting and impressive is in Wisconsin. It reads: “He bowled 300 in 1962.”
Do you wonder, as I do, if that was his greatest achievement in life? Or, how many games did he bowl before he had a perfect game? Or, was it the first game he ever bowled and it surprised him so very much that he never bowled again? We’ll never know.
But one thing we do know is that we will all be remembered by someone for something. Paul made a most interesting observation about life’s accomplishments. He was writing to the Philippians about his achievements. Reading them is like reading the resume of one of the world’s great leaders. They are very impressive. But, after mentioning them, he pulled the rug out from under his own feet. After what sounds like someone bragging about what they had accomplished, he concluded his resume by adding: “But because of Christ, I decided that all of my worldly accomplishments are worth nothing.”
Paul always had the proper perspective. Whatever he achieved in his life before his conversion did not matter to him. However, after he became a follower of Christ, he simply wanted to be remembered for one thing: his relationship with Christ and what he did for Him. Everything else, for him, was “worthless trash.” What will your tombstone read?
Prayer:Help us, Lord, to place serving You first and foremost in our lives. May we be remembered for what we did for You and through You, because of You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Philippians 3:4-11 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him.