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Wednesday, February 28 2024

Good Morning Mustard-Seed-Sized-Faith Prayers! "Oh you of little faith! How long must I put up with you?" Do you feel like you've heard that from Jesus? Sometimes we wonder, don't we? How often have we prayed for God to help our unbelief. Yesterday during Zoom Huddle we discussed healing prayer and unbelief as we encountered the Scriptural promise from Mark 16:17-18. "In my name they will...lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." On the surface that's a promise that doesn't always seem to be true. Yet God keeps His promises. ALWAYS! Sometimes His promised healing comes in heaven. Our days are all numbered and God's will is always accomplished. Sometimes our faith and prayers alter times or events as well. Do you have faith that can move a mountain? Today's devotionals seem to tie to praying, praying in faith and faith. Check them out below and talk to God and process them with some others like we do at huddle on Tues, huddle tonight and even my pastors huddle this morning. This morning we processed and prayed about our personal wildernesses. Are you in a wilderness right now? Maybe un answered prayers and lack of faith has led you there. Stop! Take every thought captive before the Lord. Listen. Receive. Process. God is hearing and answering all the time. It just may not be according to your will.

Below are the Bible study page from our Zoom Huddle yesterday, Harvest prayer blog and our devos. What's God saying to you right now? What is the Holy Spirit praying on your behalf? What is God waiting for you to release in power through prayer? Father, grow our faith to even the size of a mustard seed. Forgive and heal our unbelief. Holy Spirit, thank you for interceding for me when I don't know what to pray or am unable to pray. Help us to stay focused on You and what You are doing Lord. Help us to pray informed and step into our parts well. Thank You for loving us, hearing and answering our prayers according to Your will and timing, and bringing Your will alive Your way. Father, hear these prayers as we ask in the mighty name of Jesus. May we minister and pray in Your power for Your glory alone. Amen

See you at Bread Ministry or Family Ministry/Adult dinner huddle tonight. Shalom. Pray for wisdom for the cardiologist I meet today. They are still pretty clueless about what's going on with me. Thanks! I feel great and numbers are great too. PTL!

He Loves Me Most (Huddle devo)

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ODB:

“Help My Unbelief!”

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24

READ Mark 9:14–24

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

“Where is my Faith?—even deep down right in there is nothing but emptiness & darkness. . . . If there be God—please forgive me.”

The author of those words might surprise you: Mother Teresa. Beloved and renowned as a tireless servant of the poor in Calcutta, India, Mother Teresa quietly waged a desperate war for her faith over five decades. After her death in 1997, that struggle came to light when portions of her journal were published in the book Come Be My Light.

What do we do with our doubts or feelings of God’s absence? Those moments may plague some believers more than others. But many faithful believers in Jesus may, at some point in their lives, experience moments or seasons of such doubts.

I’m thankful that Scripture has given us a beautiful, paradoxical prayer that expresses both faith and the lack thereof. In Mark 9, Jesus encounters a father whose son had been demonically tormented since childhood (v. 21). When Jesus said that the man must have faith—“Everything is possible for one who believes”—the man responded, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (vv. 23-24).

This honest, heartfelt plea invites those of us who struggle with doubt to give it to God, trusting that He can fortify our faith and hold on to us firmly amid the deepest, darkest valleys we’ll ever traverse.  

By Adam Holz

REFLECT & PRAY

When have you wrestled with doubt in your spiritual journey? What spiritual resources helped you hold on to your faith?

Dear Father, sometimes I doubt. Please help me when I struggle to feel Your presence.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

In sending out His disciples to preach about His kingdom, Jesus gave them His authority over impure spirits (Mark 6:7). After three of His disciples saw Jesus transfigured on the mountain (9:2), a distraught father brought a demon-possessed boy to the remaining disciples, but they couldn’t heal him. This lack of miraculous healing was attributed to unbelief (vv. 17-19). The father eventually confessed his lack of faith, “Help me overcome my unbelief!” (v. 24). Jesus told His disciples that “this kind can come out only by prayer” (v. 29) and confronted their failure to pray. In not praying, they had depended on their own authority and not on Jesus’ authority to heal.

K. T. Sim

UR: God Hears Our Cries

The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. - Romans 8:26 (NIV)

My heart hammered in my chest and turmoil swirled inside me because my father was in the hospital. However, attending a prayer gathering at my church with Christians from a variety of denominations and being surrounded by believers and God’s loving presence was comforting. All of us were at different stages in our personal journeys with Jesus, but we all had hope and faith. I found the readings, thoughts, and messages inspiring, even though there was a knot of worry inside me. When it was time to offer prayer requests, I desperately wanted to ask for a blessing for my dad; but if I were to speak, I knew my sadness would overcome me. I felt powerless and voiceless.

One of the parishioners who knew of my situation smiled at me, then stood up and prayed, “We ask God to protect the sick and hospitalized who are suffering and need healing — and we ask God to help those who are caring for them.” Tears filled my eyes. Overcome with gratitude, I felt peace filling my soul. My loving heavenly Father had heard my cry and allowed someone else to give voice to my need.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Loving Father, thank you for listening to us and surrounding us with your love. Amen.

Harvest Prayer Blog:

February 28 - You Are Part of God’s Prayer Plan

While reading Jeremiah’s prophecies, Daniel discovered that Israel’s captivity was to last seventy years and that the time was almost up. Shouldn’t he have praised God and started anticipating this event? That’s what I would have done. But Daniel “turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes” (Daniel 9:3). That’s quite a reaction to something God said in Scripture was going to happen. Why would Daniel pray so? Maybe he just lacked faith to believe God’s Word. I doubt that. I firmly believe that because of God’s plan to include humans in the releasing of His will on earth, He drove Daniel to prayer.

Author Dutch Sheets, commenting on this experience, said, “No verse in Daniel specifically reports that Israel was restored because of Daniel’s prayers, but the insinuation is there. We do know that an angel was dispatched immediately after Daniel started praying, for he tells Daniel, ‘Your words were heard, and I have come in response to them’ (Dan. 10:12).”

We also have the chilling reverse proof—something doesn’t happen because no one prays. According to Ezekiel 22, God was set to punish Israel for its sins, but would have shown mercy had someone righteous only prayed. Unfortunately, He found no such person:

“I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done.” (verses 30-31)

Clearly, Sheets comments, God was saying, “While My justice demanded judgment, My love wanted forgiveness. Had I been able to find a human to ask Me to spare this people, I could have done it. It would have allowed Me to show mercy. Because I found no one, however, I had to destroy them.”

Christian leaders of the past certainly taught this truth. John Wesley once said, “God does nothing on the earth save in answer to believing prayer.”

Forgiving, Merciful Father, may I always be willing to step up and say, “Here I am! Send me!” I want to stand in the gap for my marriage, my family, my church, my community, my nation and for the nations of the earth however You direct. Strengthen my unbelief and help me to lean into prayer believing always that You will hear and answer. Fill me with faith to be a Daniel in my generation!

--Adapted from The Power of Personal Prayer (Learning to Pray with Faith and Purpose) by Jonathan Graf. 

TWFYT:

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Posted by: AT 09:33 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, February 28 2024

God really loves you and is singing over you right now! He has great plans lovingly created just for you and His Spirit is in you to guide and help you! Rejoice! Be still and know! Turn off the noise. Open your Bibles and refresh in His presence this morning!

Good Morning Redeemed of the Lord! Rejoice and be glad in this day the Lord has made! Again I say rejoice. Praise, worship, meditating on His Word and trusting more are good places to begin each new day. God is speaking to you all the time. What's He saying? Who are you processing with? Check out our devotionals below. Can you see the thread through them as God releases His powerful Word to, over, and through you today? He's wanting to lead you and us, His Church, to His best and His greater purposes. That all begins with one informed step of faith after another. That grows as we process and go together and all along the way. As we go, we grow. God doesn't waste anything and redeems and even gives back what the enemy has stolen! He uses us right where we are, just as we are, for His plans and purposes and grows us to the greater things and our fuller potential in Christ. What a great life in Christ this is! What joy and shalom we can choose, know, and praise God for! Don't listen to the crowd or all the noise around you! Focus on Jesus and what He's doing and cry out to Him for help and deliverance. He will come to you and lead you through the valley. Allow Him to conform you to His image, grow you and your faith and stir your imagination as He uses you to grow His church and connect to others and fulfill your part in making disciples that our fellowship of believers is called to do.

Dig into the Living Word today as you ask God to grow you more into the image of Christ and using you to do more of your created purposes well as you follow Jesus. No matter where you are or what you are going through, God is at work and has a plan just for you. What is it? Use your imagination. God gave it to you to use to come up with ideas of how to reach and disciple others. How might He use you today, this summer, this year to connect to some neighbors He is leading to you? How might we find new places to serve and connect? What are God's ideas for fun things outside the building for the spring and summer for us to do as His Body that He will use to lead people to our fellowship? We all have a part. What's yours? What will you do about it today? Who will you partner with? We are the Church and sent to be His Church (gathering of believers) that connect others to Him and His love and help them to become disciples of Jesus. We need some new connection points. Pray into that. What are you doing where God might want to use us to connect to others? Let's make some plans. Since the fellowship hall is too hot for us to gather in the summer, where is God leading us to feed, serve, and connect and minister to neighbors? What is your part in that? Ask Him and make some plans. He has something just for you! Use your imagination and share your thoughts with us. Let us reason and plan together. And let us be determined to go and love more like Jesus together as well! I know some of you are experiencing some Holy Spirit pinching with ideas. Nothing is too small or silly to try of God is leading us to it. And where He guides, He provides and that includes servants (you) that implement His plans. Come let us reason, process and plan together for the summer and beyond (I'm already working on fall and Christmas ideas but focusing more intently on summer plans.) What's God saying to you? Who are you sharing and processing that with? Love God. Love people. Make disciples. That is our mission. How does God want to use you?

Charles Stanley:

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UR: Why Me?

We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. - Romans 5:3-4 (NIV)

Prison is a breeding ground for human suffering. Having spent the better part of my adult life behind bars, I have witnessed much pain. Countless times I have cried out to God, “Why me?” Today’s scripture readings remind us that God can use our suffering to change lives. Central to that plan is the transformation of our spirits.

For many of us behind bars, we come to the point where the only place left to go is to our knees and cry out to God to forgive our transgressions and welcome us home like the prodigal son. I spend my days in here trying to be the man that God created me to be, trying to use my experience and years of suffering to help others. Today I take comfort in knowing that the Lord is using me as a vessel of compassion and love. Today I allow God to use my life as an example of true spiritual transformation. If we allow it, God will change us.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Merciful God, use us to demonstrate your ability to mend broken hearts and transform lives. Amen.ODB:

When Jesus Stops

Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. Luke 18:40

READ Luke 18:35–43

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

For days, the sickly cat cried, huddled in a box near my workplace. Abandoned on the street, the feline went unnoticed by many who passed it by—until Jun came along. The street sweeper carried the animal home, where he lived with two dogs, which were former strays.

“I care for them because they’re the creatures no one notices,” Jun said. “I see myself in them. No one notices a street sweeper, after all.”

As Jesus walked toward Jericho on His way to Jerusalem, a blind man sat begging by the roadside. He felt unnoticed too. And on this day especially—when a crowd was passing through and all eyes were focused on Christ—no one stopped to help the beggar.

No one except Jesus. In the midst of the clamoring crowd, He heard the forgotten man’s cry. “What do you want me to do for you?” Christ asked, and He received the heartfelt reply, “Lord, I want to see.” Then Jesus said, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you” (Luke 18:41–42).

Do we feel unnoticed at times? Are our cries drowned out by people who seem to matter more than us? Our Savior notices those the world doesn’t care to notice. Call to Him for help! While others may pass us by, He’ll stop for us.

By Karen Huang

REFLECT & PRAY

How would knowing that Jesus sees you change how you view yourself and your life? Who are those around you who might need to be noticed, and how can you “stop” to encourage them with the Savior’s love?

Dear Jesus, thank You for hearing me when I call to You. Like the blind man who received his sight, help me to follow and praise You all my life.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

The healing of the blind beggar in Luke 18:35-43 is also told in Matthew 20:29-34 and Mark 10:46-52, but with differences in the details. Matthew says there are two blind men, whereas Mark and Luke choose to tell the story of only one, whom Mark calls “Bartimaeus” or “son of Timaeus” (10:46). The Gospels tell of several other instances where Jesus healed the blind: Matthew 9:27-31 (two blind men); 12:22 (blind and mute demon-possessed man); Mark 8:22-26 (blind man at Bethsaida); and John 9 (man born blind). In addition, Matthew records a general healing of the blind (15:30; 21:14). At the start of His public ministry, Christ read from Isaiah 61:1-2 about the ministry of the Messiah. Healing of the blind is one of the signs of the Messiah (Luke 4:18-19, see also Matthew 11:2-6). After the Scriptures from Isaiah were read, Jesus declared that He’s indeed the Messiah: “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21).

K. T. Sim

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Posted by: AT 09:32 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, February 28 2024

Yesterday Sarah brought a great word and reminder about temptation and standing, firm on God's Word, like Jesus to overcome and live the victorious life in Christ. (Check out the Harvest Prayer blog below that ties to this)

We voted and approved the budget as presented. Thank you! (Note there was a question about the proposal I brought to the Vision Team to add air conditioning to the Fellowship Hall. The Vision team, which includes your Support Team, voted no to the proposal. In the future we may do a fund raiser for this. (Note: there is already enough in the building fund to cover this needed project.) In the mean time ministry will cease, as usual, for the summer in the building downstairs. April 26th will be our last brunch until the Fall. Family Ministries and Adult dinner huddle will cease for the summer in May. Bread distribution will continue as usual.)

The new members class met briefly. We will install new members next Sunday. Thank God for them and their serving already! Pray for God to give us more connections points to those He is drawing. Pray for His favor and direction for outside the building ministry this summer.

Thank you to Lori and the team for a great brunch! Thank you to the clean-up crew that cleaned up all the dishes and messes! (Karen and I were unable to attend as we had the opportunity to visit our granddaughter until 1:30. I am doing fine and my numbers are perfect. PTL!)

Tues Huddle resumes on Zoom tomorrow at 10. All welcome. Wed at 6 we resume Family Ministry/Adult dinner huddle. All welcome!

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Good Morning Church! What is Church? What is your part in it? Those are things we will discuss next Sunday as we install new members. Anyone interested in joining our fellowship of believers or adding a rock to our covenant altar, please contact Pastor Don. Right now, 8 or 9 plan to join our church and add their rocks to our covenant family altar. If you haven't painted a rock with your family name and covenanted with us and would like to, please find a small rock, paint your family name and maybe a favorite Bible verse and bring it along on Sunday. Four years ago Memorial Day weekend, we add our family rocks to our Memorial Altar and covenanted together to be God's family on mission and to stay connected to God and each other as we go and love like Jesus. We will review that covenant on Sunday as well. We are His family and as we build our altar, our family grows and we remember those who have gone before on mission together growing God's Kingdom. Check out the memorial altar in Joshua as they crossed the flooded Jordan River. Rocks were placed as a memorial to that day and reminder to future generations of the Cornerstone on which we build. (Jesus and His ways)

There is much I could talk about from our devotionals today. I will only share the Upper Room as we wrap up the month of love. You can engage with God through the others at your pace today. The UR reminds me of raising our hands in praise to God for His love, opening our hands to receive His love and then reaching out to love like Jesus. Do you see how that is coming alive through our gatherings? It really is as God loves on us and through us and we worship Him! He is with us always and lovingly created us for such a time as this. As we gather as His Church, He sends us to love like Jesus and grow His Kingdom. That is our mission and God's plans will not be thwarted. We all have a vital part to play in His Church and our fellowship on mission. Our mission is to follow Jesus out of the building, connect to neighbors and connect them to God. (Make disciples as we love like Jesus as we go daily) Since there will be no summer ministry in the building besides bread distribution and clothing closet, pray for how God wants to use us (use you!) to connect to neighbors this summer and to lead us to people to lead to Him. Pray for fair weather on our outside gathering days this year. (Over the past three years we were only able to meet a total of 5-7 times over three years due to severe weather or heat) Pray for harvest workers and for God to use you and thank Him for the harvest. Pray that we would be the Church well and live and love more like Jesus as we each follow Him to His plans for us. Draw close to Him and receive your marching orders for today. Be the Church! Be Love in the flesh! God made you for such a time as this and wants to grow His Kingdom through you. You matter! Amen!

UR: Receiving Love

Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” - John 13:34 (NIV)

I remember the first time anyone told me they loved me. When I was a child, my parents showed me love — they provided me with a home, fed and clothed me, bought me presents, looked after me when I was sick, and took me on trips when they could afford it. But they never actually said the words I love you. They were probably never told that they were loved as children either. As wonderful as my parents were, I doubted their love when I was younger, wondering if their kind actions toward me were motivated by a sense of duty.

The first person who told me they loved me was Ruthie, a three-year-old child from the church I was attending. I did not know how to respond. How could a three-year-old whom I barely knew tell me she loved me when my parents couldn’t? Ruthie could tell me that she loved me because her parents had demonstrated and spoken of their love for her.

It is vitally important to know that we are loved — especially to know we are loved by God. Sometimes I sit quietly before the Lord, open my hands, and say, “Jesus, I receive your love. Father, I receive your love.” And as I receive love from God, I can pass that love to others both through actions and words.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Thank you, Father, for sending your son to die for us, not out of duty but out of love. We open our hearts to receive your love today. Amen.

“The first purpose of prayer is to know God.” —Charles L. Allen

Harvest Prayer Blog:

February 26 - Our God Is Able

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10).

One of my heroes of the faith is Martin Luther King, Jr. He often faced chaos created by the Devil to rob him of his purpose and his peace. In a sermon entitled “Our God Is Able,” Dr. King shared in a very deep way how God stepped in to bring His peace in the midst of extreme persecution and difficulty:

“Almost immediately after the Montgomery bus protest had been undertaken, we began to receive threatening phone calls and letters in our home. Sporadic in the beginning, they increased day after day. At first I took them in my stride, feeling they were the work of a few hotheads who would become discouraged after they discovered that we would not fight back. But as the weeks passed, I realized that many of the threats were in earnest. I felt myself faltering and growing in fear.

After a particularly strenuous day, I settled in bed at a late hour . . . and was about to doze off when the telephone rang. An angry voice said, “Listen, (expletive), we’ve taken all we want from you. Before next week, you’ll be sorry you ever came to Montgomery.” I hung up, but I could not go to sleep.

It seemed all my fears had come down on me at once. I had reached the saturation point. I got out of bed and began to walk the floor. Finally, I went to the kitchen and heated a pot of coffee. I was ready to give up. I tried to think of a way to move out of the picture without appearing to be a coward. In this state of exhaustion, when my courage had almost gone, I took my problem to God.

My head in my hands, I bowed over the kitchen table and prayed aloud. The words I spoke to God that midnight are still vivid in my memory:

‘I am here taking a stand for what I believe is right. But now I am afraid. The people are looking to me for leadership, and if I stand before them without strength, they too will falter. I am at the end of my powers. I have nothing left. I have come to the point where I can’t face it alone.’

At that moment I experienced the presence of the Divine as I had never experienced him. It seemed as though I could hear the quiet assurance of an inner voice, saying, ‘Stand up for righteousness, stand up for truth. God will be at your side forever.’

Almost at once my fears passed from me. My uncertainty disappeared. I was ready to face anything. The outer situation remained the same, but God had given me inner calm.

Three nights later, our home was bombed. Strangely enough, I accepted the word of the bombing calmly. My experience with God had given me a new strength and trust. I knew now that God is able to give us the interior resources to face the storms and problems of life. Let this be our ringing cry. . . that there is a great Power in the universe whose name is God, and he is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. This is our hope for becoming better [people]. This is our mandate for seeking to make a better world.”

God who rules the storms in our lives, hear my prayer! Whatever I may face or walk through, You are always there! Help me to continually remember that undeniable truth! You have a plan and a purpose for me in this short life on earth, and I ask You to help me to overcome the enemy’s attempts to steal, kill and destroy! Show me how to live victoriously in the midst of whatever I face, for the sake of Your glory alone!

--Adapted from Prayer, Peace and the Presence of God (A 30-Day Journey to Experience the Shalom of Jesus) by David Butts. 

Posted by: AT 09:32 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, February 25 2024
Good Morning Listening, Hearing, Receiving Followers of the Living Word! Is that you? Are we as a Church doing these? This salutation is sort of a synopsis of our devotionals for today. What's God saying to you right now as you sit, open His Word, meditate, receive and follow Jesus, the Living Word?
God loves you and created you to learn and grow. He wants to help you with that and to go love like Jesus. That all begins as we spend time in our Instruction Manuel for Life--the Bible and with our Living Word--Jesus. His thoughts and ways are not like ours. He is always there with us even redeeming and using the hard times to teach and grow us. PTL! God doesn't waste anything we experience. He is the Creator and Sustainer of all, including you and He knows what is needed for you to experience His best and live out the life you are created for. Seek Him. Open His Living Word. Apply it to your life. And continue to work on growing into your fullest potential in Christ. He does have great plans for you and us together. Rejoice! We are more than hearers. We are doers of His Word! And overcomers in Christ! Amen!
Here's some prayer starters as we prepare to gather to worship, learn and fellowship together: Praise God for caring intimately about you. Thank God for choosing you to help fulfill His plans. Confess any self-centeredness or preoccupation with your desires and needs rather than those of God and others. Commit yourself to walking under the Spirit's control, trusting Him with the circumstances of life (Ps. 31:15). Ask for more sensitivity to the needs of others. Ask God to meet the needs of family and friends who are experiencing financial, physical, or emotional crisis. Pray for the prosperity of your congregation. Pray especially for those on fixed incomes that they will have sufficient means to live. Ask God's blessings on the leaders of your church as they manage the resources God provides. Ask God to open the hearts of those you encounter this week who are far from Him. Pray for them to be drawn to God's love through you. Ask that His Truth would set them free. Ask for wisdom, courage, and His Words to share with others. Amen  Pray for Sarah as she brings God's Word today.
See you soon! Shalom shalom!
Charles Stanley:
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UR: It's the Beginning

“My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” - Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)

“Why do you think the path ends here?” the tour guide asked while we wandered the carefully curated grounds surrounding the castle. My nine-year-old son volunteered, “Maybe it isn’t the end; maybe it’s the beginning.” We all smiled at this insightful perspective.

Several years earlier this same son had struggled to keep up with handwriting in kindergarten, and that seemed like an ominous start to his education. After much prayer we took him out of public school and began teaching him at home. The end of my son’s public education was the beginning of many great years of our learning together, including that castle tour with our homeschool friends.

Life is full of roadblocks, and we can become discouraged thinking we have reached the end. Isaiah reminds us that God’s ways are different than ours. God’s perspective on our situation is much different than our limited view.

My son’s observation on the path that day reminds me to trust God’s perspective no matter the circumstances and have hope that what seems like an ending might also be a beginning.

TODAY'S PRAYER
Dear God, help us trust that you know our needs. Turn us from despair, and help us to walk in faith. Amen.
ODB:

Not Luck, but Christ

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:17

READ Colossians 1:15–20

Discover magazine suggests that there are around 700 quintillion (7 followed by 20 zeros) planets in the universe, but only one like Earth. Astrophysicist Erik Zackrisson said that one of the requirements for a planet to sustain life is to orbit in the “Goldilocks” zone, where the temperature is just right, and water can exist. Out of 700 quintillion planets, Earth seems to be one planet where conditions are just right. Zackrisson concluded that Earth somehow had been dealt a “fairly lucky hand.”

Paul assured the Colossian believers that the universe existed, not because of Lady Luck, but because of the work of Jesus. The apostle presents Christ as the creator of the world: “For in him all things were created” (Colossians 1:16). Not only was Jesus the powerful creator of the world, but Paul says that “in him all things hold together” (v. 17)—a world that’s not too hot and not too cold, but one that’s just right for human existence. What Jesus created, He’s sustaining with His perfect wisdom and unceasing power.

As we participate in and enjoy the beauty of creation, let’s choose not to point to the random activity of Lady Luck, but to the purposeful, sovereign, powerful and loving One who possesses “all [God’s] fullness” (v. 19).

By Marvin Williams

REFLECT & PRAY

What does it mean for you to know that Jesus is in control of the natural world and your personal world? How will you show your dependence on Him today?

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

In Colossians 1:15-20 (perhaps an ancient Christian hymn), the supremacy of Jesus, the beloved Son of God (v. 13), comes into focus. Included in the credits that speak of Christ’s incomparable excellence is the term “firstborn” (vv. 15, 18). This word isn’t a reference to birth order—as if Christ was the first in a line of created beings. Rather, it speaks of Him—“the image of the invisible God” (v. 15)—as the head (source) of and ruler over all things (vv. 16-19). Paul isn’t the only witness to this amazing truth. John notes, “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3). And the writer of Hebrews also corroborates this: “In these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe” (1:2).

Arthur Jackson
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Joe Toy News:
February 2024
“Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.”
 

Dear Friends,

        On Mardi Gras Sunday, a few of us skipped worship to hold street church at Bourbon and Canal Streets in New Orleans.  As Richard McDermott led in singing it was a surprise to see a few people mouth the words as they walked up the streets. One young woman came up to Richard and sang 10,000 Reasons with him and a few minutes later a man asked if he could sing Amazing Grace with him.  The Lord was at work speaking to people’s hearts.  

 

One man stop by the store window and listened intently as Ken Hisle began to converse with him.  Ken approached me and said, “Brother, this man wants to get saved.” I walked over with Ken to hear this young man call out to Christ for salvation.  Unbeknownst to us, a  woman was watching this encounter and after prayer came up to the young man and said, “Can I hug you? Welcome to the family.”  It was an amazing thing to be a part of and watch the Lord at work building his family. A lot of people ask us, “Why do you go to Mardi Gras?” Well, I guess we go to see the power of God on display in the midst of much worldly filth, as He saves another soul. Yes, Jesus still saves! 

     The intensity of the spiritual battle in the French Quarter is evident on the first day you hit the streets. Our usual ministry location is at Bourbon and Canal St as this is one of the main entrance points into the abyss of Bourbon Street. At this spot is a collection of homeless people looking for help and some young men peddling their illegal substances.  As we begin to preach, pass out gospel tracts and engage people in conversations there is some intense blow back of profanity and threats, but we stand our ground and in due time things subside for a time. 

One afternoon a homeless man in anger stole one of the men’s hats, which is one of the hazards of the work. I saw him that night walk by our evening outreach location and said, “Hey, that’s my friend's hat. I saw you steal it today. You are a thief!”  Like a little child, he took it off his head and handed it to me. As he pondered the encounter, he took his almost empty beer can and tossed it at me giving me a slight beer baptism.         

 

At the Jones Franklin abortion mill, a misguided woman drove her friend to the facility to murder her child.  There are many people who do this, thinking that they are helping their friend. This young lady listened to the gospel and then approached me for conversation.  It was a joy to explain the gospel to her and place literature in her hand.  

She also allowed me to pray for her and then thanked me.  She was not ready to be saved yet, but we will trust the Lord to do his work.  At this same clinic two weeks earlier, we were able to persuade a young couple to save their baby and get them to the pregnancy center right next door. Some people would say that you are just at the right place at the right time, but we know God is doing this.

  A few nights later, a drunk young man grabbed our gospel sign and took off down a side street.  I slowly tracked him from a distance to see him hand our sign to his girl friend.  She proudly held her new treasure up high for all to see it.  I walked past them and then came up from behind and took hold of our sign and said, “I will take our property back.”  They were quietly surprised that I found them even though I had only walked one block. It really was no big deal, just some young drunk people having a little stupid fun, but it was nice to have the sign back for the rest of the outreach. Is it worth all the harassment each day and night?  I believe so.

Late one night, I was approached by a man in his mid-twenties. As usually happens, he wanted to debate me on the unreasonableness of my faith, because there is no God.  As our conversation proceeded he revealed that he had been a youth leader in his past and left the church.  He boasted that he did not need God to be moral and sought to impress me by all his charitable works.  At this point, I asked him, “What sin did you choose and then throw Jesus away?”  He looked me in the eye and then turned around and walked away.  It might not be the case with this young man, but I have learned through the years that a number of young people walk away from the things of God when they engage with others sexually before marriage. 

      Through our six days on the streets, our team of twenty-five men passed out 42,000 gospel tracts, saw eight people profess faith in Christ and had countless gospel conversations. We trust the Lord that our labors are not in vain. His gospel is indeed the power of God unto salvation.

        If the Lord allows, I will be headed to Miami for our Spring Break outreach with OAC evangelists and Liberty University students from March 7 to16.  Keep this outreach in your prayers.  God Bless and thanks for all your support and prayers.

Our mailing address is:
57 N Chaucer Way
Kittrell, NC  27544
 
Contact: 
Facebook:  OAMPhilly
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Website:    OAMPhilly

Posted by: AT 12:26 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, February 24 2024

Tomorrow: Worship with Children's Church at 10 and on Zoom, followed by vote on budget, followed by brief New Members gathering at front of Sanctuary, followed by Brunch! Bring a friend! (or three!)

Tues: Zoom Huddle 10AM

Wed: Bread distribution 10-12; Family Ministries/Adult dinner huddle 6PM

Sat March 1st: Clothing Closet 10-1

Good Morning Teammates--Co-Laborers in Christ! We all know that song: We are one in the Spirit. We are one in the Lord! And what? They'll know we are Christians by our love! Amen! We are all part of Christ's Body world-wide, all of history Body--His Church! And He has created us for His purposes and placed us in His Body that gathers in a building called St. Matts for His purposes for such a time as this. We are loved, gathered, sent, guided and we matter! All of us matter! We are one in the Spirit, Lord and part of His Good News Delivery Co. Amen! We are family and we are better together. In fact we need each other! Please pray into our unity of vision, mission and as His family. Pray that many more would be drawn to His love and family through us. Pray for more connection points to others to be seen by us and stepped into as we seek to grow in Christ and grow His Body. Pray for (this is something God is pounding me about) us to start some small groups where we process, discern, pray, encourage, correct and hold accountable each other. That is a key part of becoming more in '24 that God is leading us through this year. What word is He leading you to work on? Sarah and I have only heard from one of you? God is always tweaking us and wanting to grow us. What is He wanting you to focus on this year? Working on these words in small groups would be perfect as well. We love God, each other and others. Amen! An we are doing pretty well with that but this life is a journey to become more like Jesus and we always have some things to work on. That works best in small groups. Who are you partnering with?

Check out the devos below as you still yourself at Jesus' feet, receive and share with someone what you are hearing. God really does have great plans for you and sometimes that means traveling through some storms along the way. Stormy times are times we really need others. But so can those opposite times of floating on some high time of life. Who is helping you to stay true to God's plans for you? Who is helping in those anxious times. We are family and better together. We are loved, loving and gathered and sent to love together. May we continue to work out our faith with fear and trembling as we show our love and worship as we grow and go together. Yes we are one in the Spirit and the Lord and we are love! Amen!

Harvest Prayer Blog:

February 24 - Your Life Won’t Work Without Him.

God has designed your body with incredible precision. Every part—down to the smallest cell—is interconnected and dependent upon the other parts. You cannot survive without your heart, or your lungs, or your kidneys. And each of these organs communicate with the others. This interconnectedness is essential. 
 
God made us physically, and designed us spiritually, but He never intended for us to live without Him. 

God invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol, and it will not run properly on anything else. God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, and the food our spirits were designed to feed on. 

Like the relationship of branches to a life-giving vine, we must remain in continual union with Him, just as Christ said. Prayer is the means of this abiding connection. 

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you (John 15). 

Almighty Vine, may my mission in life be to stay attached to You in every way, for You designed me perfectly for Your purposes. I am “fearfully and wonderfully” made to do Your will, and to obey Your commands. Help me to remember daily that my life is not my own…it belongs completely to You. May I give myself to You day after day after day with a willing spirit. 
 
---Adapted from Simply Prayer by Bill Elliff. This book is available at prayershop.org.

Charles Stanley:

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UR: Light in the Darkness

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. - Philippians 4:6 (NIV)

When I was young, I slept with the light on in the bathroom down the hall because I was afraid of the dark. The light would shine into my bedroom, and I would hear the calming sound of the fan in the bathroom as I drifted off to sleep, feeling safe. Whenever the bathroom light wasn’t on, I felt anxious, and it was much harder for me to fall asleep.

When Paul gave the command not to be anxious, he had greater reason to worry than does a kid who is afraid of the dark. He was in prison for proclaiming the gospel to the nations, and he was unsure of what his future held. In Paul’s moment of uncertainty, he chose to focus his attention on the One who calls himself the light of the world.

When we aren’t sure of where we are headed or how God will lead us, we can choose to trust in Christ and focus on the illuminating grace of his presence. Christ’s light can guide us through the often tumultuous waves of life.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Dear God, help us to worry less and trust you to guide our steps. Amen.ODB:

Better Together

Two are better than one . . . . If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. Ecclesiastes 4:9–10

READ Ecclesiastes 4:9–12

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

Søren Solkær spent years photographing starlings and their breathtaking spectacle: murmurations, where hundreds of thousands of starlings move in fluid motion across the sky. Watching this marvel is like sitting underneath an orchestrated, swirling wave or a massive, dark brushstroke flowing into a kaleidoscope of patterns. In Denmark, they call this starling experience Black Sun (also the title of Solkær’s stunning book of photographs). Most remarkable is how starlings instinctively follow their nearest companion, flying so close that if one were to miss a beat, they’d suffer mass calamity. However, starlings use murmurations to protect one another. When a hawk descends, these tiny creatures enter tight formation and move collectively, beating back a predator who’d easily pick them off if they were alone.

We’re better together than we are alone. “Two are better than one,” Ecclesiastes says. “If either . . . falls down, one can help the other up. [And] if two lie down together, they will keep warm” (4:9–11). Alone, we’re isolated and easy prey. We’re exposed without the comfort or protection of others.

But with companions, we give and receive help. “Though one may be overpowered,” Ecclesiastes says, “two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (v. 12). We’re better together as God leads us.

By Winn Collier

REFLECT & PRAY

How are you more vulnerable when you’re isolated from others? How can you draw closer to them?

Dear God, please help me commit to being in community and extending Your love.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Although the author of Ecclesiastes isn’t named, he refers to himself as “the Teacher,” or qoheleth in Hebrew (1:1-2, 12; 12:8-10). Based on internal evidence, scholars believe that “the Teacher” is Solomon, “son of David” (1:1) and “king over Israel in Jerusalem” (v. 12). In the first six chapters, Solomon examines life as he’d lived it and discusses what makes it purposeful and meaningful. He talks about human achievements, pleasures, and wisdom (chs. 1-2) and how mortal men live out their time on earth in the light of eternity (ch. 3). In chapter 4, Solomon discusses social relationships. The solitary person lives a miserable, lonely existence without social interactions with other humans. In verses 9-12, the author extols the value, advantages, and mutual benefits of friendship, partnership, and companionship, making this passage a popular text for weddings. Solomon argues that friendships and community are needed for a meaningful life.

K. T. Sim

Posted by: AT 10:26 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, February 23 2024

Good morning friends. I'm home! PTL! I'm also having computer issues now. So I'll let you spend your own time with God today. Check out the devos and sit at His feet a bit. He's speaking love over you a d has some cool things for you to discover today. 

I'll share more tomorrow but so much to organize and get together as I transition home after a week of refining and refreshing. God is so good and He's doing some heart surgery on each of us. Allow God heart and mind to come alive in you and through you today! Shalom!

Posted by: AT 09:43 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, February 23 2024
TGIF updates: 
Thank you all for your prayers, encouragement, and for filling gaps during my hospital stay. I am so blessed by God and all of you! THANK YOU! I'm taking one day at a time towards healthier choices and God is helping as He responds to our prayers and His perfect will and timing! PTL! I'm feeling pretty good and working on becoming heathier. Please Lord!
Sunday there is a lot going on! Pray for Sarah as she leads worship and Mike with the kids. Pray for wisdom as we vote on the '24 budget at the conclusion of worship and pray for our new members class before brunch. And then pray for, plan to attend, and bring someone along for brunch. It will be a great day of worship, study and fellowship! (Karen and I plan to attend worship but will not be able to stay for brunch. Can't wait to see you all!)
Good Morning Focused, Wise, Trusting Disciples of Jesus! Please may that be us Lord! How often we fail at theses yet God loves, forgives and knows how to lead us back to Him and His ways. How often are we double-minded doubters crying out for God to help our unbelief? Too often, I'm afraid. BUT GOD! He knows you and your leanings and ways, loves you, forgives you and wants to steer you onto the smooth and narrow way, His best way and ways. Check out TWFYT below about being a disciple of Jesus as we seek to become more in '24--more like Him doing more of what we are created to do. Amen! Check out Charles Stanley's devo about receiving God's wisdom. And check out and pray through the Harvest Prayer blog on releasing God's will in prayer. We are more in Christ and we have more to release in prayer and accomplish as disciples of Christ! Amen! So be it Lord! Let us earnestly pursue Christ and God's best for us!
What an awesome God we love, follow and serve! He loves you and has some great things for you to follow Him to and release in prayer! Trust Him and seek His wisdom to pray and go love well! And then take one step at a time, in faith, to becoming all you are created to be and do! And worship! Remember Jesus on the cross that Friday. All hope seemed lost, BUT GOD! Sunday was coming! Persevere in faith and groeth in Christ and as His prayer warrior! He really does have great things in store that we cannot even think of or imagine! Rejoice!
TWFYT:
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Charles Stanley:
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Harvest Prayer Blog:

February 23 - Releasing God's Will

One major purpose of prayer is to release God’s will on earth. While I cannot explain how it works, somehow, in God’s sovereign plan, He has chosen to accomplish certain aspects of His will only if people pray. Some believers cringe at this teaching. “What do you mean it releases God’s will?” they say. “God’s will is God’s will. He’s going to do it whether we pray or not.” But Scripture, Christians of the past centuries, and experience all tell us otherwise.

Let’s start with Elijah. James tells us, “Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops” (James 5:17-18). First Kings 17 and 18 gives us the story of these two verses. God apparently put in Elijah’s heart to pray that it wouldn’t rain. The prophet went to King Ahab and declared it wouldn’t rain for three years—and it didn’t.

“After a long time, in the third year, the word of the Lord came to Elijah: ‘Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land’” (1 Kings 18:1). What follows is the incredible showdown between Elijah and the true God and the false prophets of Baal. Following a decisive victory, Elijah said to the king, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain” (18:41). Then Scripture tells us, Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees [signifying intense prayer].

“Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked. “There is nothing there,” he said. Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.”
 
The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’” Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose,[and] a heavy rain came on. (1 Kings 18:42-45)

Did you notice the sequence? God planted a thought in Elijah—pray for no rain—then His will was released. He sent word again—I’m going to send rain. Yet somehow Elijah knew to pray fervently for it to happen. Again, God’s will was released.

Creator God, sometimes I assume You are just going to do whatever You want without involving me. Yet, You have created me to be a part of Your plan on this earth. Because Your Spirit knows what Your will is, He is able to show me how to intercede in ways I cannot always understand. Help me to be sensitive to the prompting of Your Spirit even when I am uncertain about the outcomes. Give me the boldness of Elijah, who simply listened and trusted!

--Adapted from The Power of Personal Prayer (Learning to Pray with Faith and Purpose) by Jonathan Graf. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.

Prayer Points

  • Praise the saving God whose paths are beyond tracing out! (Rom. 11:33).
  • Give thanks for his continual, personal care for you.
  • Confess any failure to maintain a healthy relationship with the Lord.
  • Commit yourself to disciplined, joyful Christian living, recognizing the tremendous blessing of belonging to Jesus Christ.
  • Ask that you will be “joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Rom. 12:12).
  • Pray that any personal difficulties experienced by unsaved persons around you may be opportunities for them to come to know the grace that is found in Jesus Christ.
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend. 
Don  
Posted by: AT 09:43 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, February 23 2024

Good Morning Recharged, Following God and Shalom, Co-Laborers! That's me right now and can be you, should be you, as well. Check out our devos for today. I am using the forwarded harvest prayer blog about peace...God's shalom...beyond understanding. The UR discusses being fully charged and ODB speaks of open doors as we follow God. May these speak to your heart like they have to me. We are learning to stay yoked to Jesus easy yoke, walking more fully in His ways as we follow better His peace. That is true worship as we learn to live and love more like Jesus in '24! And as we learn to follow Him better to His plans for us 

I'm still sitting here looking out my hospital room window and watching traffic building on 78. Life in this earth I the country is sure a hustle bustle. We need to learn to be still, choose rest and trust God more. Amen!

I'm doing great and actually may get to go home later today. I'm trusting God for that open door and I have such peace. Spending days resting and staying connected to God has brought such recharging and shalom. I had no idea how much I needed this reloading a d correcting. The Lord IS my Shepherd! And God keeps using me and sending me to patients open doors, staffs open hearts, and family members open to prayer and a word from God. And that recharges me too. Interesting that right now God used me to pray for abd be a blessing to a phlebotomist that is like I was the first days here. Running at full speed on own agenda. Sometimes we need to be still, breathe out the junk and breathe in shalom and the Holy Spirit.  But you know she's in that "the hurrieder I go the behinder I get" mode that I've lived through most of my life. Breathe out that junk. Invite Jesus to be the Lord of your day and week and life. When He is, whatever comes your way is His problem and allowed for His purposes. When you get to that place like I did eventually while here, peace comes, God uses you and joy and trust grow. It's a great place to be! It starts with dying to self and allowing God's plans to come to life in and through you. Amen. Now if I can just learn to get to that place quicker...maybe one of my new lifestyle choices. Chilling in the Lord. Amen. Please Lord!

As I sit here chatting with the Lord and you, I can't help but contemplate how many times I've gotten to the place where God is saying, time for a hospital stay, you aren't listening or recharging well. Lord, will I ever learn? Will you guys? We beat our bodies, thrash about trying to bless God, others, family, bosses, doing our own things for what? What really matters in this life? What allows us the most peace, joy and health? Walking with Jesus at His pace, into His purposes, His way.  (Read that again) What's God saying to you right now? What will you do about it? Maybe you have ve learned that lesson? Who needs your mentoring and praying?

God opens doors all the time! Are you prepared and ready to step through them? Are you moving at a pace to even notice and available to pause and step through? God's opened so many doors while He sat me down for a week. I am recharged and prepared, purified, and ready. And I am willing to honor and follow Him. What a blessing this week has been for me and some others. Now who is willing to keep me accountable to keep choosing and following well? We all need helpers in this journey to become more like Jesus and in seeing and stepping through those open doors . Who are you helping? Who is helping you?

The harvest is great! You are part of the harvesting company called st. Matt's. No matter who you are, your current circumstances or abilities, Jesus says, "Come as you are. I have some cool things for you today. Come and see!" Stepping through that open door brings peace beyond understanding and recharging that allows you to move towards God's best for you! Choose well, grasshopper! Shalom!

Thank you to all who are covering and working the funeral today for Harriet. God is using you! Lord willing I have a wedding to help set up Friday and wedding Sat. And we have brief new members class before brunch Sunday. I can't wait to hear how God is using you and the joys you have to discover and share as you step into your anointing. Smile! God loves you and is with you. I love you too and am praying for you. Shalom Shalom.


 

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Sent: Wed, Feb 21, 2024 at 3:59 AM

Subject: Peace Be with You

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February 21 - Peace Be with You

“Do not be afraid, you who are highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong.” When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength.” (Daniel 10:19)

The Prophet Daniel had a spectacular encounter with God when he was given a vision of an angelic being, who in all probability was the Lord Jesus in his pre-incarnate state. Daniel’s response was to lose all strength and fall down before the Lord.

God dealt with Daniel’s fear in ways that are encouraging to us all. He spoke his peace to Daniel and everything changed. The Lord assured Daniel of his love for him and then spoke peace over him. With the peace of God coming into Daniel’s life, the Lord could speak of strength and courage, and it had real meaning to Daniel.

It was in this place of peace where Daniel was strengthened that he could finally summon the courage to ask the Lord to speak to him. Do you suppose that it is often fear and lack of peace that prevents us from hearing what the Lord might be saying to us? We so often play the “what if?” game, which breeds fear and uncertainty to the point that we really don’t want to hear from God for fear of what He might say. His peace though, clears out those fears, brings strength, and puts us in a good place for the Lord to speak into our lives.

God’s supernatural way for us to deal with fear is accepting his peace into who we are. Receiving his assurances of love as Daniel did, we hear his words of peace and our fears begin to melt away.

Lord, I am so thankful that you understand the fears that I face. You don’t ever simply tell me to get over it. Instead, you assure me of your love and give me your peace. I confess my great need for this in our day of confusion and turmoil. I desperately need the peace that only comes from you.

--Adapted from Prayer, Peace and the Presence of God (A 30-Day Journey to Experience the Shalom of Jesus) by David Butts. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.

Prayer Points

  • Praise God as the giver of every good and perfect gift (Jas. 1:5, 17).
  • Give thanks for the indescribable gift of his only Son.
  • Confess any times when you have taken God’s gifts to you for granted.
  • Commit yourself to searching Scripture for more knowledge of the “riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us” (Eph. 1:7-8).
  • Ask that your heart’s thirst be quenched and your soul’s hunger be satisfied in God as with the richest of foods (Psalm 63).
  • Pray that your congregation may have faith that “you will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion” (2 Cor. 9:11).
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
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Posted by: AT 09:42 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, February 23 2024

Good morning friends! It's been a long week already and only five days have passed. As I sit here awaiting routine heart catherization to explore my heart issues, I have peace, yet there are always those thoughts in the back of your head. Could this be the day that I step into Jesus arms? Have I completed my custom made mission well? Will I hear well done? Have I done all I can to bring some lost sheep into the fold? What should I have done differently? You know the types of questioning.

Haha so as I was writing that here comes my nurse trying to put a new IV in. I know it didn't hurt as much as Jesus or shed as much blood but she is now changing the sheets. She missed my veins twice. Praying it's not like that in surgery! Right before she came in my glasses broke. Sometimes all we can do is laugh!

So here's what I've been thinking. They are trying to figure out why my heart is only squeezing at 35%. I can't tell anything is wrong or that I have a fib as well. Our bodies are amazing at adopting. How's that relate to our Body of Christ, our church. Can we tell when people aren't operating at 100%? Do we know ourselves well enough to know we are not running at full song.? There's a reason God had me choose "earnest" as my word. Am I living earnestly for Christ and at my created purposes? There for sure some health things I will have to be more earnest at now.

Pause as I minister to the new phlebotomist sent to get IV in. Turns out she's the cousin of the you g race driver that died in Lehighton in a truck crash a few weeks ago. Please keep looking to God to be at work and join Him! Yesterday our dist EC rep came to visit and God used us to pray for a young cardiologist is getting married in a couple of weeks. God is always at work. Listen and be available.

Wow this blog is all over the place. Hope there is some value in my babbling. Know this...you are a special creation of God, very loved, always forgiven, and He has plans for you...some great, some small, some in between. Earnestly pursue Christ and His plans for you. Allow Him to live and live through you. 

Even at 35% it is still a heart 100% filled with Christ. Until He calls you home, live and live more like Jesus each day and allow Him to use you just as you are a d grow you to His greater things. That is a life well lived in Christ. Amen. And I vite someone, as many as you can, along on your journey. I'm praying for you and us!

I'm still not scheduled and it 6. Maybe I'll be here another day. Well it's a good day for a fast and prayer day anyway. Thank you all for stepping in and covering and helping while I'm out of service. God is using you. Thanks for allowing Him to! Hope to see you all Sunday and feasting together. If God has other plans, see you at the marriage feast of the Lamb! Shalom 

Posted by: AT 09:42 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, February 23 2024

Good morning very loved praying friends. Here am I, live from my hospital room still yet filled with peace beyond understanding and joy overflowing. God is good. He is with me. And He is the Lord of my circumstances. I'm still here for His purposes. Amen

I don't know how to attached our devos from my phone so I forwarded today's harvest prayer one because you need to read, know and pray this today. Check out the prayer starters at the end as well. Good stuff. Then open your Our Daily bread devo on prayer as well. What's God saying to you? What will you do about it? 

God has great plans and purposes for you to discover today. Sometimes in spite of what you think, He is always at work, stirring things together for good of those who believe. That has never been more evident than to me during this extended stay. I was angry at first when I wasn't discharged Friday as promised but after inviting Jesus to be the Lord of my stay and me, He has used me several times to pray, encourage and bless from the prison. And I really do have peace and joy. Side benefit is im loosing weight and getting healthy. Although I still could go for a good cheese steak, that is not dominating my thinking anymore as I seek to make good and healthy choices 

And that's all God asks of all of us. Choose well in Christ. Choose healthy choices. Present your temple as a holy and pure offering for God to live and live through, as you are, where you are. He loves to do that and will encourage you as you do. Try it! God has lovingly prepared you and placed you right where He wants you for such a time as this. Rejoice. Surrender. Live and live well. Amen

Couple of notes: if I am still in the hospital tomorrow, there will be no zoom huddle because I can't do that from my phone. (Apparently urgent test need means within three days)

We are canceling Wednesday evening gathering due to facility being used for a funeral wed afternoon.

New member group will gather for ten min at front of sanctuary after worship Sunday. We will install new members during worship first sun in March, Lord willing!

Sarah will give an update prayer email soon. Thanks Sarah and Mike for covering for me. God had plans for you both as well!

Alright time to go do laps while I wait for my test and breakfast at 930...that's lunch time, but God has a plan in the waiting! Shalom shalom


 

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Sent: Mon, Feb 19, 2024 at 4:00 AM

Subject: God Wants to Talk with You!

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February 19 - God Wants to Talk with You!

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us,” said Tozer.  Nowhere is this more true than in prayer. Our view of prayer is dramatically affected by our view of God’s character—particularly of His love. If we have a low view of God’s love for us, we will see our prayers as unimportant to Him. But if we understand the magnitude of His affection for His children, we will realize how much God longs for us to come to Him.
       
I have eight married children who have produced twenty grandchildren (and counting)! I’m sure I’m a very poor grandad, but my heart leaps every time the door opens and one of my kids or grandkids comes charging into the room. I love them! I want to know about their lives and be involved in their decisions. I want them to call me when they are in need. I’m concerned when I haven’t heard from them. I’m honored as they ask for my advice. I’m thrilled when I hear of their successes and saddened by their difficulties. 
       
What touches them, touches me. If this is true of me in my imperfection, it is perfectly true of our Father in the perfection of His compassion. Psalm 138:8 says, “The Lord will accomplish that which concerns me. Your lovingkindness is everlasting…” What touches us, touches the Father as He longs to be involved in every detail of our lives.
 
Loving Father, because You are perfect in Your love and compassion, You can love me and those I love more deeply and far more completely than I could ever think or imagine. Your love surpasses any feelings I could ever have for my children, grandchildren, or other family members. Help me to love as You love, to care as You care, to be involved in the lives of those who are close to me in ways that are informed and fueled by Your mercy, compassion, and kindness. Continue to show me how much You long for me to come to You – sometimes not to ask anything at all…but just to be in Your presence.

---Adapted from Simply Prayer by Bill Elliff. This book is available at prayershop.org.

Prayer Points

  • Worship God with reverence and awe as a consuming fire blazing with holiness (Heb. 12:28-29).
  • Give thanks for his plan to refine your faith through trials and tests (Jas. 1:2-4).
  • Confess any times this week when you have not seen God’s purpose for you in these trials (Mal. 3:2-4).
  • Commit yourself to submitting to God’s testing in your life.
  • Ask God to strengthen you with his power (Eph. 6:10-11).
  • Pray for those who are undergoing severe testing, that God may show them his purpose and strengthen them in their weakness (Heb. 12:7-13).
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
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Posted by: AT 09:42 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, February 23 2024

Notice: Zoom only church today at 10. With a foot of snow on top of piles of ice and snow, parking is a premium around the church. Join us with the choice to remain safe and warm at home (or wherever you may be). Thank you for understanding. Pray for pastor Mike as he brings the Word today 

Good Morning Giant-Slayers, Overcomes in Christ! Is that you? Maybe sometimes? Checkout our devos today. We all face giants. How we face them can fluctuate. Sometimes we can be like David with sling and stone. Sometimes we can be like ten of the spies that feared the giants in the promised land. Sometimes we forget that when we are weak is when we are strongest because God is strong for us. I've seen the fluctuation in approaching the giant in myself this week  I moved back and forth from standing firm with a few small stones to cowering in fear, to giving up and back again. Here's the thing though, God never changed and He was here with me through it all! PTL! And PTL for some friends and staff that were able to redirect me when my faith waivered or I got bound up in a pity party .

God is the Lord of my life! He has great plans for me, even sometimes taking me through a dark valley or three, He IS with me always! This giant is no match for my God! Amen! The having to change some diet things and lifestyle choices could be a giant that leads me way out of my preferences and comfort zone, but a really good thing to live a long and healthy life. Donald, stop fighting God and choose well, health, and life! Amen. Too bad it's not as easy as just saying it. Doing, requires, well, doing and choices--action. 

I'm starting to understand why God had me choose "earnest" and "agape" as my words for this year. And He's giving me great opportunities to choose to walk them out. PTL! And I'm praising for someone reminding me that I was slipping into running from this giant and a pity party. Shew...breathe out that junk Donald and breathe in a fresh breath of the Spirit and set your jaw earnestly, die to self, take up that cross and follow Jesus. Amen

You know God loves you and is with and for you --always! And no matter the giant or how weak you feel or how far out of your comfort zone, God is walking with you, before you, and upholding you in His strong right hand. Be strong and courageous. Let go of self, fear and doubt and step into that new bold and courageous giant slayer nature! God's plans will not be thwarted. And He has great ones for you and us! He has some others to walk with you and help you too! Really, the only giants God can't beat are the ones we won't let go of. What's holding you back? Let's be more like Caleb and Joshua who knew those giants were no match for almighty God. Let's leave Egypt behind and seek boldly after God's best this year! We are unstoppable in Christ as we link arms and stand firm with those few smooth little stones. Amen!

Thank you all for praying for and encouraging me and for respecting my request for privacy. I needed this time for introspection, correction and soul searching. God said rest and I was saying no again...think I'd learn! Hopefully, this time! And ahead lies, Lord willing, some healthy lifestyle choices. They have already begun ..well maybe after that one last cheese steak! 😄 

FYI, I was admitted Thurs with a fib and congestive heart failure. Thank God I came early, but should have come before shoveling Mon and Wed. (Note shoveling did not cause it, just heightened breathing issues) But I did choose to come... PTL! It has been determined that I have a hyper thyroid condition that caused the a fib that caused the fluid retention. Meds have already gotten rid of the water and are settling things down. PTL! I have the most mild and benign a fib. And now that they know why it started, we can address that. So several doc visits and medication adjustments await my discharge, hopefully this morning. I've calmed down, dyed to self, am choosing joy, and have asked God back to be the Lord of my stay. He used me yesterday to pray for and encourage my one doc and one nurse. Wonder what He has for me before I leave? Hope it's a legacy of faith well lived in Christ, no matter the giant!

One final thought.. please prayerfully ask God for your word(s) for the year and share those with Sarah, me, and your teammates. We want to pray, encourage, and remind when needed, like I was this week. Maybe like me, God hadn't released you fully from last year's word and will give you another that is the next step. Let us know. We are in this giant slaying journey together and it is an awesome adventure for sure! Come and see! And feel free to remind me when you see me slipping from dying to self, earnestly and living, loving and leading like Jesus more earnestly. Thanks! I can't wait to see what land flowing with milk and honey lies ahead for you and us! Come Lord! Be our Lord! Transform us more fully into Your best! Amen 

Posted by: AT 09:41 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, February 17 2024

Good morning unique creations of God. I'm sitting here watching the beautiful snow fall from my hospital bed, wishing I could be out of this prison and playing in the snow. I'm watching the plow trucks clearing the lots, the slow traffic on 78 carefully persevering through the storm and I'm thinking if Sarah's snowflake making challenge. I'm also praying for Karen who may need to come pick me up later and the team clearing snow for clothing closet and church.

Then I read our devotionals (which I can't forward from my phone). How does Paul's thorn in the flesh and building each other up tie to this what do you think? What are you hearing?

We are all unique creations of God with uniquely created purposes. Some of us our out plowing, some shoveling and some staying out with a warm cup of cocoa. Some are out there fulfilling their purposes while persevering through some storm. Some are plowing away even though it seems futile as the snow piles up right behind the plow. Some are watching and praying. And some are out of control and forging ahead while others are making wise choices. 

Seems like we are all facing some sort of storm or trial today. Life and our efforts often feel useless, yet we carry on in Christ. Many have come to experience that God is sufficient and enough. Some have come to rely on His strength when weakest and He IS enough and knows best. And all of us need the eph. 4:29 building up and encouragement. Who are you cheering on? Who are you helping shovel out of some snowbank? Who are you plowing the path for in prayer and love and help?

Yes we all are facing something. Yes God is sufficient and enough. And we are family that need each other's uniqueness and unique love and help. As you rise and shine later this morning, the storm may be waning, but there is unique opportunities for us all to go live and live like Jesus today. Keep at it friends! God's not finished with you or is. He has great plans, even for today. He is with you always. And He has united us with co-laborers. And like fresh falling snow, we are beautiful together and unique individuals. Let us always consider that uniqueness and the unknown storms and love and encourage well. Amen keep plowing together too. We are making progress. PTL 

Posted by: AT 08:11 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, February 16 2024

Please note that Pastor Don is having some phone issues. I don't always get your messages right away. I am not ignoring you. Today, I got a phone message from yesterday and several texts from yesterday morning as well. I try to respond ASAP. If you are not hearing from me and need me ASAP please reach oout through someone else or try another way like email. Thanks

Good Morning Humble Servants! You know, that is a pretty apt description of our gathering of believers. We serve, love, spread joy and bring hope and help to many. God is using you and it shows. But humility can be a struggle for many of us. Pride is at the root of all sin as well. We are commanded to humble ourselves. As we seek to become more like Jesus. He is the prime example of humbling self. I mean, He is God and humbled Himself, laid aside His power and came as a servant. And as such, He knows all our struggles. He called the bold and brash and timid and meek to be part of the twelve and worked with them to teach them all to die to self, take up cross daily, and follow Him. For some that meant letting go of operating in their own strength and doing what they thought best, often without seeking direction. For others that meant getting out of comfort zones and going boldly to share the Good News and represent God on earth. But they learned to work together and accomplished much for God's glory and Kingdom expansion. I keep thinking of 1 Cor, 13's reminder that love is not proud or boastful. That's something I always need to work on!

What's your struggle today? For a few of us bold and brash ones, it could be slowing down and waiting on God and for many of us, it's dying to self and stepping out boldly when the Holy Spirit pinches you. The Good News is that God brought us together to be His Body that goes and loves well together. And we are doing pretty good at finding our balance with that. Check out our devos below speaking into the strongholds that bind us, our questioning God and learning to humble ourselves and follow Jesus well. What's keeping you from God's best for you (or others)?Humble yourself and work on becoming more like Jesus. It would be a great idea to work on this with some trusted friends too. God created you for some great things and He is with you always and brought you to this Body to fulfill your part. We are family and we are better together! PTL! Remember, Jesus' yoke is easy, but a yoke is still an instrument of labor to be used to plow. Keep plowing in prayer and service and allowing God to grow and use you! I'm praying for you and us to continue to become more like Jesus! Amen

God awoke me early to speak to my heart and to share with you. It's obvious that He is speaking and calling us to humble ourselves and follow well. As I was proof reading (yeah I do that some days!) the Harvest Prayer Blog popped up in my email. Yes God is speaking to me and us today. I preached recently on our need to humble and purify ourselves to be ready to move with God. It was a message about earnestly pursuing Christlikeness and readiness for when God says go. Begin today's time with God by humbling yourself and asking Him to speak to and direct your heart. Start with Harvest prayer's blog and see where God leads you today. He does have great plans awaiting! Are you ready? Let's roll! Daylight's burning!

Harvest Prayer:

February 15 - Consecrate and Humble Yourselves

The Bible teaches that when God wants to reveal Himself to His people on a corporate level, He first asks them to examine and humble themselves on an individual level. ‘Consecrate yourselves,” Joshua told the Israelites, “for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you” (Joshua 3:5). Consecrate means “to purify” – to make a person free from guilt or moral blemish. We purify ourselves through humility, confession of sin, and repentance.

God wants to do something wonderful in every community as a whole. But first, He is asking us to purify ourselves individually. This means careful self-examination, humility, honest confession, and earnest repentance of any revealed sin. Then, as a body of Christ, we will be ready to come together corporately to experience God’s presence.

It is as we humble ourselves before the Lord and repent individually that we have the platform to come together to repent and pray corporately. When we do, we cultivate a spiritual appetite and atmosphere in which the Lord can do amazing things among us!

Merciful Father, hear my desire to open my heart before You so that You can reveal my pride and my sinfulness. Purify me, guide me and set me apart from the world! Help my community of believers to repent before You and fully experience Your presence together in life-giving ways. Give us that spiritual hunger to come together to pray for Your kingdom to come in our midst. Help us to yield to Your plans together as we humble ourselves before Your holiness!

--Adapted from Why Don’t We See More Community Transformations in America? by Arlyn Lawrence, an article in the Premiere Issue of Prayer Connect Magazine.

Prayer Points

  • Praise God for his abundant mercy.
  • Thank him for not punishing you as your sins have deserved (Ezra 9:13).
  • Confess any secret sins which hold you back from full fellowship with God.
  • Commit yourself to turning away from sin by the power of the Holy Spirit and living completely for God’s glory.
  • Ask God to restore the joy of his salvation and to grant you a willing spirit (Ps. 51:12).
  • Ask the Lord to create a hunger and thirst for him and his Word in the lives of unsaved persons you know. Pray that you will be sensitive to their struggles and questions.
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.

Upper Room: WHY?

Job said to God, “Why then did you bring me out of the womb?” - Job 10:18 (NIV)

As I was recovering from shoulder replacement surgery, all was going well — that is, until I broke out in shingles. Anyone who has ever experienced shingles knows that the pain and general misery are a nightmare. I confess I was angry at God.

I could relate in a very small way to what Job experienced. And, like Job, my prayers began with “Why?” I was already extremely uncomfortable after surgery, and now this festering annoyance was getting worse each day! “Why, God? What am I supposed to learn from this?”

I’m happy to say that the shingles wounds have healed, and my shoulder works better than ever. But I still don’t understand what all that pain was supposed to teach me. Surely there is much in my life and in the world that just doesn’t make sense. Sometimes we are not given the answers to our “why” questions, but we can trust that God is with us. We can cry out to God with what we don’t understand and know that God loves us still.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Loving God, help us to keep trusting you when our lives seem to be overly burdened. Strengthen our spirits, and walk with us through our struggles. Amen.ODB:

Humility’s Perk

Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life. Proverbs 22:4

READ Proverbs 22:1–5

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

Like many teachers, Carrie devotes countless hours to her career, often grading papers and communicating with students and parents late into the evening. To sustain the effort, she relies on her community of colleagues for camaraderie and practical help; her challenging job is made easier through collaboration. A recent study of educators found that the benefit of collaboration is magnified when those we work with demonstrate humility. When colleagues are willing to admit their weaknesses, others feel safe to share their knowledge with one another, effectively helping everyone in the group.

The Bible teaches the importance of humility—for much more than enhanced collaboration. “Fear[ing] the Lord”—having a right understanding of who we are in comparison with the beauty, power, and majesty of God—results in “riches and honor and life” (Proverbs 22:4). Humility leads us to living in community in a way that’s fruitful in God’s economy, not just the world’s, because we seek to benefit our fellow image bearers.

We don’t fear God as a way to gain “riches and honor and life” for ourselves—that wouldn’t be true humility at all. Instead, we imitate Jesus, who “made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant” (Philippians 2:7) so we can become part of a body that humbly cooperates together to do His work, give Him honor, and take a message of life to the world around us.

By 洪可婷

REFLECT & PRAY

What does humility mean to you? How have you seen someone’s humility benefit others?

Dear Jesus, I surrender my pride to You.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

The book of Proverbs is both helpful and challenging. It’s helpful because it offers us wisdom for living. What’s wisdom? It can be defined as the appropriate application of knowledge and understanding to life situations. Which of us doesn’t need that? Clearly, we all do—and it’s readily available. James wrote, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5). Our wise God is the true and ultimate source of wisdom. What makes the Proverbs challenging, however, is that they offer general insight on how life works best—not ironclad promises. When we attempt to make them into guarantees, we try to prove too much. It’s better to let them guide us in wise, humble living without placing on them the expectation of specific outcomes.

Bill Crowder

TWFYT:

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Posted by: AT 10:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, February 16 2024

Good morning faithful prayer warriors. This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it! It is TGIF praise day. Count your many blessings! I am! And you guys are on that list!. Thanks for all the prayers and encouragement!.

They are narrowing in on the cause of the a fib and fluid. It may be thyroid related. Today is a day of many tests and docs. Outside change I will be discharged today, probably tomorrow, depending how tests are able to be scheduled. Just another doc visit and very pleased with progress. The Lord is my shepherd. He is with me. (Now if only he would bring me a cheese steak and pizza).

So what's God saying to you today? What are you thankful for? Who are you processing with? God's got great plans for this day. I'm allowing Him to use me here while He heals me! PTL! May God be with you all today. Hope to see you Sunday, Lord willing. May God shalom be with you today. He's definitely a good good Father! Amen

Posted by: AT 10:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, February 14 2024

Happenings: Donuts and conversation at the Bread Ministry today 10-12. (lunch too for workers)

Tonight 6-7:30 dinner and video huddle for all who will come.

Saturday 10-1: Clothing Closet

Sunday after worship is our new members class. All who wish to know more about our church or to join are welcome.

Good Morning very Loved, very Loving, Servants of our God Who Is Love! This life really is all about LOVE! We don't need a man-made holiday--well maybe some do--to remind us to love. Loving God and others and even ourselves is a command that wraps up all the ten commandments are about and what God requires of us. LOVE! Today, another man-made season begins in some churches with Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. Lent is celebrated in some churches as a season of pertinence and self-examination and fasting from some sinful choices. Do we really need a holiday or season to remind us that we are all sinners that fall short of God's standard and to confess and repent of sins. That, like loving, should be a daily thing. 

Start with focusing on Love. (maybe "loving" might be a word to work on this year) God is Love. Love lives in us and wants to love through us. Jesus modeled "agape" love. That's sacrificial, dying to self love as He laid His life down for us and our sins. He commands us to go agape like Him. Maybe focus on that the next forty days that lead to Palm Sunday. Yes, examine yourself and ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind some things you need to repent of or work on and do it. That is part of becoming more like Jesus and allow God to shape you more fully into the person He created you to be. Become More in '24! Work on that and maybe focus on a word for the season.

Today, we will celebrate Fat Wednesday with donuts and love as we share and hang out with our neighbors in need. That's love in action that we are commanded to live. Come join us! Come share love and allow God to mold and use you as His vessel. That's what these days and seasons should be all about--love and loving like Jesus. Amen! Thank God for His love for you and for loving through you and ask for His help to do that better. He loves you and loves to answer prayers form the heart like that! Go! Love! Amen

Harvest Prayer Blog:

February 14 - God Wants Your Prayers

Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
 
You may be thinking “Without ceasing? I hardly pray at all. How could I possibly pray continually throughout each day?”
 
It’s not only possible, it’s exactly what God desires. He has great plans for us and for His kingdom that can only be accomplished if we will continually communicate with Him. 
 
So, why should we value prayer? Why should we seek to become men or women of unceasing prayer?
 
“Pray without ceasing” is not a nice thought from God, it’s a command. God is telling us to pray and to pray with no intermission. It is hard to believe, but God wants to communicate with you more than you want to communicate with Him. How could this possibly be true?
 
Grace-filled Father, You have given me a powerful command to obey – communicating with You continually. Guide my heart and lay it alongside of Yours every moment so that I might lean into a lifestyle of prayerfulness! Show me how to press into Your purposes for me, for others, for my church, community and nation! I long to hear from Your Spirit who will share with me Your thoughts, for Your thoughts are much higher than mine! Draw me more deeply into the mystery of unceasing prayer and teach me to unleash Your power on earth as it is in heaven.
 
---Adapted from Simply Prayer by Bill Elliff. This book is available at prayershop.org.

Prayer Points

  • Praise God for his holiness and righteousness.
  • Thank him for promising to work all things together for good.
  • Confess any coldness of heart.
  • Commit yourself to becoming more and more conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29).
  • Ask God to renew your love for him as it was when you first believed.
  • Ask God to lay on your heart those for whom he desires you to pray. Request the Holy Spirit to show you how to pray for each person. 
     
    Prayer Pointer
    “Productive prayer requires earnestness, not eloquence.” —Anonymous
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.

ODB:

Motivated by Love

If I . . . do not have love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:3

READ 1 Corinthians 13

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

Jim and Laneeda were college sweethearts. They got married and life was happy for many years. Then Laneeda began to act strangely, getting lost and forgetting appointments. She was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s at forty-seven. After a decade of serving as her primary caregiver, Jim was able to say, “Alzheimer’s has given me the opportunity to love and serve my wife in ways that were unimaginable when I said, ‘I do.’ ”

While explaining the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the apostle Paul wrote extensively on the virtue of love (1 Corinthians 13). He contrasted rote acts of service with those overflowing from a loving heart. Powerful speaking is good, Paul wrote, but without love it’s like meaningless noise (v. 1). “If I . . . give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing” (v. 3). Paul ultimately said, “the greatest [gift] is love” (v. 13).

Jim’s understanding of love and service deepened as he cared for his wife. Only a deep and abiding love could give him the strength to support her every day. Ultimately, the only place we see this sacrificial love modeled perfectly is in God’s love for us, which caused Him to send Jesus to die for our sins (John 3:16). That act of sacrifice, motivated by love, has changed our world forever.

By Karen Pimpo

REFLECT & PRAY

How have you tried to serve others without love? How can a love for God and others inspire your actions today?

Loving God, thank You for loving me. May my actions flow out of a loving heart today.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

First Corinthians 13 is considered to be the love chapter of the New Testament. The love Paul describes is contrary to what our culture values and portrays. It has nothing to do with lust or satisfying one’s own needs. Instead, it’s directed outward toward others and is totally unselfish. Such love isn’t primarily an emotion but an active decision to stay engaged and remain connected. Yet this type of love is impossible apart from God’s work in us through the Holy Spirit. It’s the greatest of human qualities (v. 13) and an attribute of God Himself (1 John 4:8).

Alyson Kieda

UR:Ash Wed.

If you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. - Matthew 6:14 (NIV)

I had never given up anything for Lent because the practice did not seem meaningful to me.

Then one year on Ash Wednesday, my pastor challenged us to think differently about giving up something for Lent. He asked us to think of a person we were holding a grudge or anger or resentment against and invited us to forgive them.

Years earlier I had gone through a divorce. My spouse had cheated on me again and again. I had been deeply hurt. How could I ever forgive him?

I struggled with my feelings. Was I ready to release all the pain he had caused me? Finally I decided that, yes, I was going to forgive.

The pastor asked us to write on a piece of paper what we were giving up. I wrote it down, then folded the piece of paper. The congregation was then invited to burn our slips of paper in a bowl. It was one of the most meaningful Ash Wednesday services I had ever attended.

It wasn’t easy to forgive. And by forgiving him, I’m not saying that what he did was okay because it wasn’t. But deciding to give up my feelings of hatred and resentment was a freeing experience, and it still is. I could move on with my life without the weight of anger and resentment that I had been carrying around for years. So I would like to challenge you to give up something meaningful for Lent and surrender it to God. You won’t believe how liberating it is!

TODAY'S PRAYER

Thank you, God, for forgiving us. Help us to be as forgiving of others. Amen.

Posted by: AT 02:02 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, February 14 2024

This is coming to you later because God blessed me with ten hours sleep until after 6 this morning. PTL! (Made up for super bowl lack of sleep!) and then we lost electric for a bit and I had to dig a trail for Maggie in the yard. OK so now we will try to get this out before next power failure.

Bread Min and Donuts tomorrow 10-12 and Huddle tomorrow night with dinner at 6. Both are still on!

Good Morning Washed White as Snow, Resting on the Promises, Zealots and Friends of God! Say what? How appropriate that today's Our Daily Bread uses the passage speaking about our forgiveness and being washed white as snow. (See below) I've been thinking about the words we are choosing for the Become More in '24 Challenge. Sarah and I have only heard from one or two of you about your word(s). The word God led me to for this year besides my two from last year which I will keep working on as well (agape and Disciple-maker) is "earnest". What is God leading you to work on? Today would be a great day to pause, seek Him, reflect and receive His word for you! Share those words with Sarah and me so we can pray and encourage you. Seek some friends to process, pray with, encourage and be accountable to as well. Learning and growing with others is part of God's best for us! Thank God for those He has gathered around us to worship, grow and serve with!

My word "earnest" ties to zealous. Check out Dave Butts Blog below speaking into being a zealot. When I first came to rebirth and being-made-new-faith in 2001, my sisters kept pleading with me to not become one of those Jesus freaks. They are coming to accept me as I am now and my zealous pursuit of Jesus and wanting to earnestly become more like Him. They haven't changed and need our prayers for salvation and new life. because of my zeal and pursuit of Christlikeness I am always changing as I grow into that. You guys have witnessed some of that growth and change. We are all on a journey. Please consider making it an earnest journey, standing on the promises, resting in your new nature in Christ and working on growing to your fuller created potential with me. It's been awesome so far as I shed the old and put on the new more fully. Come and see!

I guess part of this journey is learning to not really care what others think about me and finding my worth in Christ. Do you struggle with that? Do you feel like you don't measure up to other's standards? Don't fit in? Do you struggle with trying to please God? Trying to work your way and earn His favor? Are you loosing hope that you will never measure up or are worthless? Check out Charles Stanley's devo below. LISTEN...We will never measure up to God's standard. Never can! We all fall short. That's why God sent His Son for us. PTL! Right? Stop trying to meet some standard or become someone you are not created to be. Just be you in Christ and allow God to use you as you are and grow you into your fuller potential. He loves you. Forgives you. Sent His Spirit to help you and He knows your potential and His plans for you and is working all things together to get you there. Know this too...you will never reach that potential until yoi get to heaven. All he expects is that we keep pursuing Christ, keep growing into who we were created to be and keep working on doing more of what He created us to do. Now that can be a very hard thing for most of us! You know what I mean. What's this "let go and let God" thing? Our lives require much work at balance. We do have things we need to do on this earth that require earnest effort and work to survive and thrive. Yet God asks that we keep our focus on Him, be available and ready when He needs us to be His vessels of Good News, love, healing, hope, and help. Being citizens of two worlds is hard! That is exactly why we need God and to keep focused on Him and His ways, which are not like our ways. Be you and do what is required of you here as you work as if unto the Lord. But keep your eyes on Jesus and allow Him to live, love, use, and grow you as you are into your fuller potential. He has great plans for you and knows what you are facing. He loves you just as you are. He has and will forgive you! And He calls you from all the striving to His rest and healthy choices. This is a conversation that will require much more reasoning together with God and each other. Begin today with seeking Him and talk about it with some friends. Maybe even tomorrow night at dinner and huddle or tomorrow during donut day at Bread Ministry. Seek first the Kingdom of God and all things will be added to you. That's a promise. keep your focus right and be refreshed and ready. Stop striving in your own strength. Yoke yourself to Jesus' easy yoke. he came to set the captives free. That's us! PTL!

We are forgiven and washed white as snow! We have the Holy Spirit in us to help us and guide us to God's best. We are a friend if God--no longer slaves. Abide in Him and His love today. He's singing over you and speaking to your heart right now! Worship! Adore! And open your hearts and minds to what is His best for you and then earnestly seek that, zealots! Amen!

Are you a Jesus Freak? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQBIS2zWEz8 This oldy came to mind today as I seek to become more like jesus, leaving this world's ways behind as I long to become more like Jesus and doing all he created me to do. That is life and life abundant. What would Jesus do if He were me? That's what He wants. Allow Him to have all of you and live and love through you. He'll take care of the rest. Amen!

Dave's Blog:

Are You Zealous for God?

by Dave Butts

Dave Butts

When you hear the word “zealot” what do you think of? Fanatic? Weird? Overly religious? Maybe an extremely emotional person? I think that most people would say of zeal that it’s just not who they are. Many people have a tendency to identify being zealous as an overly emotional or extreme personality type and would distance themselves from being labeled a “zealot.”

The Bible, however, looks at zeal not so much as an emotion, but as an expression of faith. You become zealous because you have come to know God. It is the awesome character and nature of God that creates zeal within those who worship Him. The more you know the Lord, the more you become zealous for him.

From this perspective, zealousness is more about earnestness toward God, consecration, and undivided service. To be zealous is to focus all our attention on one thing…or rather, one person…the person of Jesus Christ. Perhaps most important for followers of Jesus, to be zealous is not an option but a command. Consider these scriptures which speak of a zealous life:

  • “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:5).
  • “Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart” (Ps.119:2).
  • “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Prov.3:5).
  • “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jer.29:13).
  • “Even now, declares the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning” (Joel 2:12).

The greatest example of zeal is the One who knows the Father the best, our Lord Jesus. The prophet Isaiah spoke of the zeal of Jesus in Is.59:17: “He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.”   In the gospels, John wrote: “His disciples remembered that it is written: ‘Zeal for your house will consume me”’ (Jn.2:17). Following in the steps of Jesus means becoming as zealous as He is.

Living the Christian life is not a casual attachment to religious activities. It is an all-out, loving desire to walk with Jesus day by day. With single-minded passion we draw near to Him and serve him with everything that is in us. Our prayer life moves from mundane requests to zealously seeing the purposes of God brought to earth by our cries of intercession. May it be said of us, as was said of our Lord, “Zeal for your house will consume us!”

Harvest Prayer Blog: (I love this prayer! Pray it earnestly)

February 13 - The Mystery of Prayer

A mystery! There’s no other way to describe prayer. Think of it! If you have come into a relationship with Jesus Christ, you have the privilege of communicating with the Divine. You can talk to God. And, if you listen, you can hear Him speak too.

Simply put, prayer is communication with God. Some have defined it as “being with God.” I can talk to God any time of the day or night. Anywhere—whether in my favorite chair, walking the dog, driving the car, taking a shower, mowing the lawn, or sitting by a quiet stream in the mountains. Al VanderGriend calls prayer the “talking part of the most important love relationship in my life.”

Somehow, for some reason, almighty God has not only decided that He wants to be in relationship with us and to communicate with us, but He also has provided the method to do it. Prayer. A. B. Simpson, founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, said it well a century ago: “The mystery of prayer! There is nothing like it in the natural universe . . . marvelous bond of prayer that can span the gulf between the Creator and the creature, the infinite God and the humblest and most illiterate child.”

 While we cannot fully explain it, the fact remains: Prayer is an awesome privilege! If you are starting out on your faith journey, do everything you can to grow in prayer. It will bring adventure, mystery, and a sense of the presence of God into your life. Prayer will prove to be the key to a vibrant relationship with God.

Father, how I long to grow in my understanding and practice of this mystery called prayer. Forgive me for continually forgetting that You are actively engaged in hearing and answering because You uniquely designed me to connect with You. May I be continually aware of Your presence moment by moment so that as You prompt my heart to seek You for what is on Your heart, I will be obedient to respond. May Your life be alive in me!

Charles Stanley:

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ODB:

Jesus’ Blood

Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Isaiah 1:18

READ Isaiah 1:15–20

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The color red doesn’t always naturally occur in the things we make. How do you put the vibrant color of an apple into a T-shirt or lipstick? In early times, the red pigment was made from clay or red rocks. In the 1400s, the Aztecs invented a way of using cochineal insects to make red dye. Today, those same tiny insects supply the world with red.

In the Bible, red denotes royalty, and it also signifies sin and shame. Further, it’s the color of blood. When soldiers “stripped [Jesus] and put a scarlet robe on him” (Matthew 27:28), these three symbolisms merged into one heartbreaking image of red: Jesus was ridiculed as would-be royalty, He was cloaked in shame, and He was robed in the color of the blood He would soon shed. But Isaiah’s words foretell the promise of this crimsoned Jesus to deliver us from the red that stains us: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (1:18).

One other thing about those cochineal insects used for red dye—they are actually milky white on the outside. Only when they are crushed do they release their red blood. That little fact echoes for us other words from Isaiah: “[Jesus] was crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5).

Jesus, who knew no sin, is here to save us who are red with sin. You see, in His crushing death, Jesus endured a whole lot of red so you could be white as snow.

By Kenneth Petersen

REFLECT & PRAY

How do “sins . . . like scarlet” stain your life? How might Jesus restore you and make you clean again?

Dear God, thank You for Your Son, Jesus, and the saving grace of His shed blood.

Learn more about having a personal relationship with God.

Personal Relationship with God

WHAT DO WE NEED TO KNOW ABOUT GOD? GOD LOVES US AND WANTS US TO HAVE A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM God loves ...

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

In Isaiah 1:18, we read, “ ‘Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the Lord.” Other translations render it, “Come now, and let us reason together” (esv, kjv, rsv). This is amazing! The Creator of the universe, rather than shutting down the conversation, encourages it with the phrase “reason together.” Some translations render it “to discuss” or even “to argue it out.” My preference is “reason” because God is utterly reasonable in His expectations of us. We see His reasonableness affirmed in Paul’s letter to the Romans when he challenged them, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1 kjv). Because of all that God has done for us, it’s only reasonable that we would respond to Him with love and devotion.

Bill Crowder
Posted by: AT 01:00 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, February 12 2024

Good Morning Chosen, Loved and Sent Children of the Most High God! We are so loved. PTL. Chosen! Prepared and sent to fulfill our created purposes. That begins, grows and goes with LOVE! Yesterday we looked at the spiritual gifts in 1 Cor 12 and Eph. 4 that were shared to remind us to seek after the gifts that are to be used in love to bless others and grow God's Church. We then encountered Paul's admonition to seek the more excellent way found in 1 Cor 13--LOVE! 

We were created in love as God's masterpieces to go love as we allow Him to use us just as we are and grow us into His greater things! He has some awesome custom made plans for you to discover as you abide in His love and share His love and that leads to the abundant life we are promised in Christ. Check out our devotionals below as you still yourself, abide in love and ready to go love well today.

God is Love! Love lives in you! And you were created and are being prepared for Love to go forth from you and change the world around you for such a time as this. God placed you here for His purposes. We all matter and we all have an important part to carry out that we are custom made and gifted to accomplish. Plus we have the help of the Holy Spirit to direct and correct us. PTL! Choose the most excellent way. Choose Love and share Love well today as you allow Love to transform your thinking and guide you, even today! Love God! Love people! Love yourself! Share Love well! Amen. You are made for such a time as this to go live and love more like Jesus everyday! Choose well friends of God! Amen

Maybe We Were Made for these Days! (Not maybe! we are!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qXn2I449qs

Love God and Love People: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-29WLQ3trA

End today with the Harvest Prayer blog--awesome stuff to engage God through and pray!

Charles Stanley:

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ODB:

Loving Our Enemies

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:44

READ Matthew 5:43–48

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With the American Civil War spawning many bitter feelings, Abraham Lincoln saw fit to speak a kind word about the South. A shocked bystander asked how he could do so. He replied, “Madam, do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” Reflecting on those words a century later, Martin Luther King Jr. commented, “This is the power of redemptive love.”

In calling disciples of Christ to love their enemies, King looked to the teachings of Jesus. He noted that although believers might struggle to love those who persecute them, this love grows out of “a consistent and total surrender to God.” “When we love in this way,” King continued, “we’ll know God and experience the beauty of His holiness.” 

King referenced Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in which He said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:44–45). Jesus counseled against the conventional wisdom of the day of loving only one’s neighbors and hating one’s enemies. Instead, God the Father gives His children the strength to love those who oppose them.

It may feel impossible to love our enemies, but as we look to God for help, He’ll answer our prayers. He gives the courage to embrace this radical practice, for as Jesus said, “with God all things are possible” (19:26).

By Amy Boucher Pye

REFLECT & PRAY

Who is your enemy? If you feel conflicted about loving those who oppose you, how could you submit those feelings to God?

Loving God, You’ve made me—as well as those who hurt me—in Your image. Help me to see them as You do.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus radically redefined what the people understood as their responsibility to the law of Moses. Christ said He didn’t come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. Then He introduces six topics—murder, adultery, divorce, oaths, retribution, and love for enemies—with a version of the phrase “you have heard that it was said” followed by “but I tell you.” What’s interesting about Jesus’ explanation of what “you have heard” is that only a portion of it is recorded in the Old Testament. The other elements are likely part of the Mishnah, the traditions and interpretations of the Pharisees that placed further restrictions on people and had been elevated to be equal with the law of Moses. At least part of what Christ was doing was dismantling the power of the Pharisees’ interpretations and returning to the core of the law as God intended.

Dive deeper into the Sermon on the Mount.

Lecture - Our Daily Bread University

JR Hudberg

UR Out of My Comfort Zone:

Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” - John 10:10 (NRSVUE)

Many years ago, I was asked to go on a mission trip abroad. I declined because of numerous conflicts — family activities, work demands, and other commitments. I thought the next trip would fit my schedule better. But after a few more years and opportunities, I still had not participated.

Then in 2005, I was invited to go on a mission trip to Guatemala. Even though many of the same conflicts existed, I felt God nudging me to go. As I prayed about the opportunity, I realized that my conflicts were really excuses to avoid stepping out of my comfort zone.

I did go on that trip, followed by seven more trips over the next eight years. As we offered our help to those we encountered, I also gained a better perspective on the meaning of “abundant life.” The people we met possessed joy, peace, and love for God — the abundant life — that made a lasting impression on me.

That first trip was a small investment of time, but a big step in my walk of faith because I was willing to leave the familiar and move forward in faith trusting God.

TODAY'S PRAYER

God of second chances, open our hearts so that we will be ready to respond to your call. Help us to be obedient to you, to discern your will for our lives, and to go forward in faith. Amen.

TWFYT

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Harvest Prayer:

February 12 - Cry Out for a Heart to See the Lost Saved

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. (Romans 10:1)
 

The prayer of World Vision’s founder, Bob Pierce, has been rightfully and often repeated: “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.” 

Injustice, illness, poverty, and devastation are in the news and on our minds every day. There are many reasons to grieve for ourselves and others. We know that Jesus’ heart is tender to all the burdens we bear, but nothing moves his heart like the lostness that is found in a soul that is separated from him. Our eyes quickly move to the physical depravity of the world and somehow skip naively over the only permanent loss in all of eternity. 

Every problem that steals our sleep and wrestles peace from our minds is temporary. Someday, there will be no more sickness, violence, hatred or lack. Everything will be made right in the eternal kingdom of God. All will be well for those who are forever in the heart and arms of Jesus, but for those who have not given their lives to Jesus, all will be lost. To live and die without Christ is to face the only permanent loss known to man. 

God’s greatest desire is that all the world would know his Son and be found safe for eternity in him. Let’s ask Jesus to put his heart of compassion within us and to move our hearts to pray and work for the salvation of many. 

Gracious heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to die on the cross for my sins and the sins of the world. I repent for my lack of compassion and urgency to see the lost saved. Forgive me for apathy and shortsightedness. Cleanse me of all selfishness and arrogance. I ask you, Father, to change my heart and make it break for what breaks your heart. I ask you to give me a heart of compassion and a will to witness in every way possible. Holy Spirit, fill me with your presence and anoint me with your words so that I may witness passionately and continually for you. Give me a heart to pray and not give up until your will is done in bringing many to righteousness. 

--Adapted from Praying God’s Word Over Your City: 40 Days of Prayer for A Transformed Community by Trey and Mary Anne Kent. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.

Prayer Points

  • Praise God, the one who rescues and saves (Dan. 4:27).
  • Give thanks for specific ways he is caring for you right now.
  • Confess any areas in which you are worrying instead of praying and accepting his loving care (Phil. 4:6-7).
  • Commit a concern to God, thanking him for his care for you.
  • Ask him to help you believe in his willingness to handle it.
  • Pray that your family and friends may be rooted and established in love and may have “power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that [they] may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:18-19).
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
Posted by: AT 06:31 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, February 12 2024

Good Morning Worshipers of Almighty God, Our Abba Father, Lord, Savior and Friend! Woo who! Shout to the Lord all the earth! What a mighty God we serve! PTL! Let us prepare to enter His courts with much praise and thanksgiving! This is the day He made! Let us rejoice, worship and be glad in it! Prepare your hearts to worship in Spirit and in Truth. Come! Let us gather and praise our Lord together today! What's on your gratitude list this morning? What great story do you have to share of how God used you this week or was at work around you? Come, now is the time to worship. Let's celebrate as we gather like it's a super bowl victory party. We know our Victor and King let us bow down and worship and rise up in praise today!

Check out the devotionals below reminding us that God wants to lead and take care of us, He is faithful, He wants us to and helps us to choose His best and He directs our steps. So many reasons to praise and worship. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. Thank God that You have entered new life through Jesus, that the Holy Spirit drew you and is helping you to know and follow the Truth and that you are learning to trust the Holy Spirit as you walk in the way of Jesus. Yes, rejoice!

See you soon! 10am in person with Children's Church and on Zoom. What's on your gratitude list this morning?

Charles Stanley:

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ODB:

I’ve Seen God’s Faithfulness

I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name. 2 Samuel 22:50

READ 2 Samuel 22:1–4, 48–51

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Throughout her historic seventy years as Britain’s ruler, Queen Elizabeth II only endorsed one biography about her life with a personal foreword, The Servant Queen and the King She Serves. Released in celebration of her ninetieth birthday, the book recounts how her faith guided her as she served her country. In the foreword, Queen Elizabeth expressed gratitude for everyone who’d prayed for her, and she thanked God for His steadfast love. She concluded, “I have indeed seen His faithfulness.”

Queen Elizabeth’s simple statement echoes the testimonies of men and women throughout history who’ve experienced the personal, faithful care of God in their lives. It’s this theme underlying a beautiful song King David wrote as he reflected on his life. Recorded in 2 Samuel 22, the song speaks of God’s faithfulness in protecting David, providing for him, and even rescuing him when his very life was in danger (vv. 3–4, 44). In response to his experience of God’s faithfulness, David wrote, “I will sing the praises of your name” (v. 50).

While there’s added beauty when God’s faithfulness is seen over a long lifetime, we don’t have to wait to recount His care in our lives. When we recognize that it’s not our own abilities that carry us through life but the faithful care of a loving Father, we’re moved to gratitude and praise.

By Lisa M. Samra

REFLECT & PRAY

How have you seen God’s faithfulness? How might you express your gratitude to Him?

Heavenly Father, I’m so grateful that in every season of life—sorrow or joy—I’ve seen Your faithfulness.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

It’s helpful to read 2 Samuel 22 along with Psalm 18. This long psalm (only three psalms are longer: 78, 89, 119) parallels David’s song in 2 Samuel when David praised God for His protection and deliverance from Saul so many years before, although with some slight modifications. Scholars speculate that those changes were made to adapt the song from personal to corporate use. Nevertheless, as he now moved toward the end of his life, David reflected on God’s rescue with clearer eyes than ever before, and he gave praise to God for that specific time when he experienced divine rescue. As such, David referred to Him as his rock, his fortress, and his deliverer. He also referred to Him as his horn (symbolic of power and authority) and shield (Psalm 18:2). Taken together, it’s little wonder that David reflected on the mighty God as his stronghold.

Bill Crowder

UR: The Better Part

Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things, but few things are needed — indeed only one. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” - Luke 10:41-42 (NRSVUE)

After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in December 2016, I was unable to carry out my usual physical activities on many days. I have neuropathy from the ribs down, debilitating fatigue, muscle spasms, and pain.

For a while I felt useless and lonely. I wondered if my best days were behind me.

Then I read the story of Mary and Martha. Martha was frustrated that Mary wasn’t helping her with the preparations for hosting Jesus and his disciples in their home. Jesus calmed Martha, saying that Mary was exactly where she needed to be — with him. That scripture helped me to see that even in times of incapacity, I could still be useful — even productive. I began to relinquish control and began sitting at the feet of Jesus, loving him and feeling loved by him. While I was incapacitated, God helped me to grow in my faith by leading me to read my Bible and to engage in other devotional activities.

In the years since my diagnosis, I have found a way to continue working full-time at the local community college. I’m also able to foster dogs and volunteer with several local fundraising events.

I am comforted to know that Jesus is always with me and can use me at all times to serve him, no matter my physical capabilities.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Lord Jesus, comfort us with your love when we feel useless or alone. Thank you for walking beside us. Amen.TWFYT:

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Posted by: AT 06:29 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, February 10 2024

Good Morning Very Loved, Redeemed of the Lord! What great love we know that God sent His Son to die for our sins and to make a way to spend eternity with Him! WOW! Ponder that today as you praise and pray. What do we do with that kind of love? First, receive it! Then share it! Jesus said, "Go love as I have loved you." That is a command that is empowered by the Holy Spirit in us and our choice to obey. Check out ODB today. Then be strong and courageous as you go love like Jesus (UR).

That's it today as I am waaaay behind schedule! This sleeping in until 4 is not conducive to a productive day! God really loves us and made a way. He created us for such a time as this and has empowered us to go love just like He loves us. We know where we will be spending eternity. (With Him) and this life is lived for His glory. What joy we know for His great love and what love we get to share! Go! Live and love like Jesus today! Don't worry! Be happy and rejoice! Amen!

ODB:

God’s Great Love Cycle

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another. Romans 13:8

READ Romans 13:8–10

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As a new believer in Jesus at the age of thirty, I had lots of questions after committing my life to Him. When I started reading the Scriptures, I had even more questions. I reached out to a friend. “How can I possibly obey all God’s commands? I just snapped at my husband this morning!”

“Just keep reading your Bible,” she said, “and ask the Holy Spirit to help you love like Jesus loves you.”

After more than twenty years of living as a child of God, that simple but profound truth still helps me embrace the three steps in His great love cycle: First, the apostle Paul affirmed that love is central in the life of a believer in Jesus. Second, by continuing to pay the “debt to love one another,” followers of Christ will walk in obedience, “for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8). Finally, we fulfill the law because “love does no harm to a neighbor” (v. 10).

When we experience the depth of God’s love for us, demonstrated best through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, we can respond with gratitude. Our grateful devotion to Jesus leads to loving others with our words, actions, and attitudes. Genuine love flows from the one true God who is love (1 John 4:16, 19).

Loving God, help us get caught up in Your great love cycle!

By Xochitl Dixon

REFLECT & PRAY

When have you struggled to feel loved by Jesus or to love like He loves? How does knowing Christ loves you completely and unconditionally change the way you love others?

Dear Jesus, please help me believe You love me so I can love others through the overflow of Your love for me.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

The Bible has much to say about loving others. Jesus says that “to love your neighbor as yourself” is the second greatest commandment (Matthew 22:39) and that the greatest love a person can show is to “lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).

Paul’s description of love in 1 Corinthians 13 refers to the love the body of Christ should have for one another. But in his letter to the Roman believers in Jesus, Paul puts his admonition to love (13:8-10) in a peculiar place. It’s sandwiched between an exhortation to be submissive to governing authorities by fulfilling civic responsibilities (vv. 1-7)—authorities that weren’t friendly to early believers in Christ—and a reminder that the day of Lord is “nearer now than when we first believed” (v. 11). Perhaps the apostle is suggesting that love is a responsibility (akin to civic responsibility) that’s motivated by anticipating our future with Jesus.

JR Hudberg

UR: Bird in the Storm

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid . . . for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. - Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)

My wife and I sat in our sunroom and watched a storm rage outside. As we watched the rain pour down and heard the thunder rumble, we noticed a purple martin flying through the wind and rain. She flew up to her nest under the eaves at the corner of our house. We could hear the chirping of her babies as she brought them a tiny insect, and then with a chirp of her own, she took off to find more for them to eat. Time after time she returned and then took off again. The heavy rain and strong wind occasionally blew her off course, but she never stopped. Our admiration for her grew with each trip she made, and we both remarked that there was something inspirational about her behavior.

Long after the storm ended, I kept thinking about what we had witnessed. The mother bird’s behavior made me think of the sacrifice that Jesus made for all of us. Like the purple martin, his sacrifice was an act of intense love! The little bird’s determined care for her young reminded us that God really does care about and provide for all of creation. God’s love will endure and will not be turned aside by the storms of adversity. I pray that the devotion of the little bird will stay alive in my memory and inspire me to show love to others and to trust God to provide for God’s children.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Dear Jesus, thank you for the sacrifice you made for us so that we may live abundantly. Inspire us to show your love to the world. Amen.

Posted by: AT 11:13 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, February 10 2024

Wagner's update below. Pray shalom and comfort over this family at their loss of Harriet Adams, Missy's mom.

Good Morning Transformed, Trusting Sheep--Followers of Our Good Shepherd! Baaa...Are you hearing His voice and following today? Are you allowing His Word to transform you and your thinking and ways? Are you choosing trust and following His voice through the deepest, darkest valleys? Are you finding that He is faithful and growing in trust of our very good Shepherd that loves you and has your best in His heart and actions towards you? Pray for personal and corporate revival. Come Jesus come!

Jesus knows us and still loves us and has good plans for us is something everyone needs to understand and embrace. Many have shunned Him and His ways. Some of His sheep have lost the ability to hear and follow His voice because all the noise and chaotic stimuli has led them off His path, crowded out His voice, and redirected focus. YET...He loves us and is waiting for us to reawaken to His love, voice and good ways. He is faithfully interceding for us, His followers too and has great plans for us to discover as He leads our willing feet--baaa--to overflowing cups. Check out the harvest prayer blog and Charles Stanley below. ODB reminds us of the way to hear well and learn how to travel through this life listening to our Shepherd--open your Bibles! And then be more than just hearers and knowers but doers of it! Follow His Spirit as He teaches, leads and brings His Word to life and to mind throughout the day as the Shepherd calls to you and says, "Follow Me!" TWFYT expounds on following our Shepherd. Maybe mediate on Psalm 23 today too? And then the UR reminds us that no matter what we face, remember that we know the Good Shepherd and that He is always with us, interceding for us, has very good plans for us, even if it doesn't seem it at the moment. Trust Him with all your heart! Love Him with all your heart! Receive His loving care and follow Him well through this day, to His best for you and for personal and corporate revival! Come Good Shepherd! Open our ears to Your voice and loving guidance. Lead us to Your best and revival, Bring Your Word alive in and trough us. Refresh and restore our souls and lead us in Your righteous paths for Your name's sake. Father, Your will be done in, through and around us today and every day and keep our ears, eyes, and hearts open and willing to trust and follow You always. Thanks! Blessings to You today, Lord. We love and trust you. Help our unbelief! Baaa. Amen!

Ask God to prepare you and us for worship tomorrow. We will be studying 1 Corinthians 12 and some of 13 and Ephesians 4:11-16 as we wind down our teaching on spiritual gifts. Maybe you want to spend some time today with your Bibles open there, asking for understanding some of this confusing gifts stuff. I just prayed for God to speak to our hearts, direct our steps and use us well today. Pray along with me for some of our sick and struggling members for health, healing, deliverance and God's shalom over them. God has great plans for us and each day can be a step further into the journey towards that. Rejoice and follow well, sheep of Jesus.

Harvest Prayer Blog:

February 10 - America's Pentecost

After years of seeking God as group of pastors and praying people, in 1801 a spiritual explosion took place that swept our nation like a wildfire. Vanderbilt University historian Paul Conkin calls it “America’s Pentecost.” Mark Noll, a historian specializing in the history of Christianity in the U.S., insists it was our nation’s most important religious moment that changed the course of history.

Hundreds of denominations were born and thousands of churches were founded. Modern missions exploded on the scene, as well as tract and Bible societies. Abolition was launched. Hospitals, schools, and colleges were founded. The awakening infiltrated every area of life and it spun out for nearly 50 years. The impact on our nation and around the world was astounding.
In the midst of the stressful national issues of our day, we pray we hope and confidence. We have seen the glory of Christ before!

Today, pray for the Church in America: Pray for revival, holiness, love for truth, passion for Jesus, evangelistic fervor and compassionate ministry. “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19). See also: Joel 2:12-14; Psalm 85:4-7).

Savior and Lord, we bow before You, knowing that we, the Church, have fallen short of Your desires for Your people. We humbly repent for our sinfulness, and for our apathy towards making a significant spiritual impact upon our culture. Give us a fresh love for Your truth, a deep desire for holy living, and passion for sharing Christ to impact the lives of the least and the lost. We desperately need revival Lord! Please send us “times of refreshing” so that we may bring honor and glory to the Name of Jesus!

--Adapted from America’s Pentecost by Robert Bakke, an article in the Premiere Issue of Prayer Connect Magazine.

 

Prayer Points

  • Praise God, the changer of times and seasons (Dan. 2:21), who is in control of all of history.
  • Give thanks for this new day.
  • Confess any misuse or waste of time.
  • Commit yourself to taking hold of today’s opportunities and to enjoying the special pleasures God provides during this season.
  • Ask him to guide you to make wise and efficient use of your time.
  • Pray that your church leaders will be protected from overloaded schedules. Ask God to give them wisdom as they lead the church and care for their other concerns. 
     
    Prayer Pointer
    “When we say to people, ‘I will pray for you,’ we make a very important commitment. The sad thing is that this remark often remains nothing but a well-meant expression of concern.” —Henri Nouwen
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend. 

Charles Stanley:

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ODB:

God’s Transforming Word

You have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:15

READ 2 Timothy 3:10–17

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

When Kristin wanted to buy a special book for Xio-Hu, her Chinese husband, the only one she could find in Chinese was a Bible. Although neither of them was a believer in Christ, she hoped he would appreciate the gift anyway. At first sight of the Bible, he was angry, but eventually he picked it up. As he read, he became persuaded by the truth in its pages. Upset at this unforeseen development, Kristin started to read the Scriptures in order to refute Xio-Hu. To her surprise, she also came to faith in Jesus through being convinced by what she read.

The apostle Paul knew the transforming nature of Scripture. Writing from prison in Rome, he urged Timothy, whom he mentored, to “continue in what you have learned” because “from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures” (2 Timothy 3:14–15). In the original language, the Greek for “continue” has the sense of “abide” in what the Bible reveals. Knowing that Timothy would face opposition and persecution, Paul wanted him to be equipped for the challenges; he believed his protégé would find strength and wisdom in the Bible as he spent time pondering its truth.

God through His Spirit brings Scripture alive to us. As we dwell in it, He changes us to be more like Him. Even as He did with Xio-Hu and Kristin.

By Amy Boucher Pye

REFLECT & PRAY

How have you been changed through spending time reading and pondering the Bible? When have the Scriptures come alive to you?

Author of all that lives, thank You for inspiring the Bible to be such a life-giving book. May I submit to You as I read the Scriptures.

Learn how to effectively study the Bible.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

When Paul says that “all Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16), he’s picking up on the connection to the first two chapters of Genesis. In the first verses of the Bible, God’s Spirit moves over the formless face of the waters (Genesis 1:2) just prior to God speaking the world into existence. The Hebrew word for “spirit” and “breath” are the same (ruakh) and here emphasize that God created the world by His spoken word and through the Spirit.

It’s that life-giving breath that shows up again in God’s creation of humanity (2:7) and that Paul connects to all of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16). Scripture gives life and is useful for all things because it’s the very words of God. Paul’s words to Timothy should encourage us to trust both that Scripture is God’s word to us and that it’s just as life-giving now as it was when He spun the earth into existence.

Jed Ostoich

TWFYT:

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UR: Trust in God:

In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. - Psalm 18:6 (NIV)

My life has been a wreck for the past three years. In 2018, my contract came to an end at the power station where I worked, and I was unemployed. In 2019 I started to put my life together by doing ad-hoc training in schools. Soon after, the country was placed under lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and everything came to a standstill. My wife continued with her sewing business making face masks, and she was able to keep the family going. But on December 25, 2020, my wife and friend of 38 years, the breadwinner for our family, passed away. I felt my life was over. The future looked bleak. However, during all this adversity, not a single day went by without food or other daily necessities being provided for me, my two children, and my granddaughter. God carried us through those tough times.

No matter what we are going through, God hears our prayers. When we find ourselves wrecked by life’s troubles, when we feel hopeless and overwhelmed, we may not be able to hear God — but God can hear us. God hears our cries of pain and desperation and offers comfort and encouragement to help us endure.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Heavenly Father, give us strength to endure our pain and sorrow. Give us courage, and reassure us of your constant love and care. Amen.

Wagner's update:

Greetings Friends, 

Sunday, February 4th. What a glorious morning for my (Missy’s) mom to meet Jesus face to face! Remembering each day of the last week, I continue to marvel at all the ways I’ve seen God’s goodness and felt His presence and calming assurance of His deep and unending love.

Let all that I am praise the LORD; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me. ~Psalm 103:1-2
We are grateful that our kids were prompted to quickly make travel arrangements and were blessed to spend a few precious hours together with their grandma on Saturday afternoon. Though she remained quiet, we trust that mom heard every sweet memory shared, every word of thanks, every hymn sung, every prayer prayed; and are confident that she felt the tender touch of her three grandchildren and great-grandson.
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
~Lamentations 3:22-23
As mom’s memory faded significantly over the last year, she never forgot her God and Father. Each time I called or visited in person, mom reminded me of God’s goodness and faithfulness. Hard as it was to sit by her bedside and listen to mom share about her daughter who lives in Africa, one of my dear Kenyan friends continued to gently remind me that at the end the day, all that really matters is that mom continued to know and love Jesus. HE alone is our Living HOPE.
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.”
~John 11:25-26
A celebration of mom’s life will be held at St. Matthew’s E.C. Church, Emmaus, on Wednesday, February 21st at 3:00 PM. All are welcome. Additional information can be found here.
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!
 
Mom’s favorite hymn written by Bill & Gloria Gaither
Thanks for your prayers!

Brian & Missy
Posted by: AT 11:13 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, February 10 2024

Good Morning Students of the Bible, Learning Pray-ers, Harvest Workers! Is that you? These are definitely some of our purposes here on earth as Kingdom ambassadors. Pronounce that and ask God to bring His Word alive to you, teach you to pray powerful and effective prayers and to use all of that and you, just as you are, to be His ambassador and harvest worker. That is what you are created, gifted, being trained, and empowered to do. Talk to God about that today as you turn off the noise and sit at His feet in preparation for the day. To know Christ and make Him known is the EC mission statement. As we grow in that we become a dynamic movement of God, a people with a burning passion for Him and missionary zeal to reach the lost (EC Vision statement). God custom made and gifted you for such a time as this to go, love and make disciples of Jesus. That starts as we study His Word, pray earnestly, and allow Him to use us. Nothing else really matters in this world except knowing Christ and living like and for Him! “The first purpose of prayer is to know God.” —Charles L. Allen and our purpose is to make Him known! (Pastor Don)

There is much that God is stirring in my head this morning. Let's see what He wants us to hear as I asked Him to type this...The past few days have been times of great fellowship, study of His Word, praying, and serving. Seriously consider joining our Tues Zoom Huddle and/or Wed night gathering. Maybe even join us next Wed for donuts and conversations at the Bread Ministry. God is speaking, teaching, directing and using us and has a space for you to join in, just as you are! Come and see!

Last night Karen's mom, Kay, shared how God spoke to her yesterday morning through Ps. 90:17, "May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; [God has been leading me since the beginning of the year to pray and proclaim that this is the year of the Lord's favor. May it be so Lord and may Your favor rest upon us! Amen] establish the works of our hands--yes, establish the works of our hands." Amen, right! She shared how God answered that prayer and used her to minister to another yesterday. And that sharing ministered to and taught us last night as she shared with tears of joy for how much that meant to her. PTL! This morning as I prayed that verse, God put on my heart to pray for Him to establish the work of His hands through my hands. That I would be ready and willing for Him to do His will through me. That His favor would rest upon and go before me today. Now that was the beginning of my quiet time and led me all kinds of places with the Holy Spirit's help. Be still and know that He is God and He is speaking to you right now. Listen and receive and allow Him to inform your prayers and to direct your steps. Come be our Lord today, Jesus. May we walk in Your favor and be available and ready to allow you to love through us. Yes, establish the work of your hands through our hands today. Teach us to pray and bring Your Word alive in, through and around us today. Amen!

Our Daily Bread, below, reminds of the importance of humbling ourselves and turning off the noise and chaos around us as we seek God. We discussed last night the importance of humbling ourselves, dying to self. God despises pride. God is love. Satan is prideful and he stirs us to pride and away from God. Repent, die to self, take up your cross daily and be like and follow Jesus today. Prov. 3:5-6 keeps coming to mind, "Don't lean on your own understanding..." Open your Bible and fill your minds with Truth. Turn off the noise and chaos. Repent of pride and your own thinking and humble yourself before God. That is what matters and He has custom made great plans for you to pray in to, discover, and step into, even today.

We had a great teaching on the 23rd Psalm last night. We don't usually think of it as a wilderness Psalm since it begins with "I shall not want", or "I have all I need" depending on the translation you use. But it is a wilderness psalm. Many of us might be in our own wilderness right now--sickness, uncertainty, lack, confusion, fear. BUT GOD! Jesus is our Shepherd and we have all we need. Keep your focus on the Shepherd and praise God for what you do have. He's got you covered and does have great plans to establish you and the works of your hands, provide where He guides and bring His favor upon you today. So, choose joy and faith and rejoice! I heard someone say on the radio yesterday that joy seeps in through the cracks of our brokenness. How true. Joy and trust are good choices we can make regardless of our circumstances. BUT GOD! Pronounce that and choose joy as your Shepherd leads you to His best plans for you. Who do you know that may need to hear this today? What's God saying to you and what will you do about that? I'm praying for you, child of the Lord's love and favor!

Below are two Harvest Prayer blogs. Start with those as tools to learn how to pray in power and for the Lord's will to be done as He uses you. Sit as His feet and allow Him to direct your steps and empower the work of your hands today. And celebrate all He is doing and share that joy with others. He is a good, good Father and always with you! Amen! PTL!

Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

1 The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.
2 He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams.
3     He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
    bringing honor to his name.
4 Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
    for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
    protect and comfort me.
5 You prepare a feast for me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
    My cup overflows with blessings.
6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
    forever.

Amen and amen!

Harvest Prayer blogs:

February 8 - Satan Rejoices when Our Prayer Lives Suffer

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil (Ephesians 6:10-11).

Most of us can pray when we are in crisis or when we are desperate. But unfortunately, we often find it hard, awkward, or even impossible to pray when times are good. As a result, many believers do not have regular, effective prayer lives.

Some would say this is because more than anything else Satan hates to see people pray. He hates to see churches pray. Why? Because prayer, along with Bible reading, is the most crucial element of our walk with Jesus Christ. We learn about God by reading the Bible—His Word; we experience God through prayer. It is our lifeline, our method of communicating with Him. And prayer moves the hand of God—it releases His will in our lives, and on earth.

But we can’t give Satan all the credit for our anemic prayer lives. Much of our ineffectiveness, our inconsistency, is our own fault. We struggle in prayer for a variety of reasons. We were never really taught how to pray. Perhaps we prayed early in our relationship with God, but it seemed we hit a wall and saw fewer and fewer answers. Rather than figuring out what was wrong, we simply prayed less and less. Some of us had bad experiences. Well meaning, yet totally in error, friends told us we were doing something wrong. We weren’t “claiming” our answer. Or we were too bold—after all, God is sovereign; you can’t tell Him what to do. Perhaps the thing we desired and prayed fervently for never came to pass. So we quit praying, angry with God and disillusioned with prayer. [If you recognize yourself in any of these scenarios, ask God, as the early disciples did, to teach you how to pray from His perspective, and find fresh freedom in your prayer life].

Father, I pray for myself and for others who struggle with their prayer lives. Teach Your people to trust You even when Satan tries to discourage us and/or sidetrack our prayers! Give us strength to stand up to his attacks. Help me, Lord, to take a good look at the weaknesses in my prayer life! Help me to develop a deep, personal, and intimate relationship with You so that my prayer life will be strong, bold and focused on Your agenda!

--Adapted from The Power of Personal Prayer (Learning to Pray with Faith and Purpose) by Jonathan Graf. T

February 6 - Pray for Laborers for the Harvest

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:37–38) 

The greatest need in our community is not only for the lost to be saved, but for the saved to become harvesters. How does this happen? It all begins with prayer. Jesus taught his disciples, and therefore he is teaching us, to cry out to the Lord of the Harvest asking him to ignite in us the passion and give us the power we desperately need to reach and disciple the lost. 

Lord of the harvest, I cry out to you today in joyful obedience to your Word. You are full of love for the lost. Give me your passionate desire and love to see the lost come to know Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord. It gives me great faith to know that you want me to begin with you, as the source and power to bring people to salvation. I begin in prayer now, asking for a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit to empower me to be an effective and loving evangelist in my family, workplace, neighborhood, and community. Make me a passionate harvester like the disciples were in the book of Acts. Do miracles, convict hearts, and empower believers to make much of Jesus today in my city. Make the name of Jesus first on every believer’s heart, and prepare the unbelievers to meet us today as we interact in life. Make reaching out to those without Christ my joy. Remove fear, frustration, and insecurity from my heart and mind. Overwhelm me with your love as I long to be a reconciler of the lost with you. Use me in a way that causes those in need of Christ to look to him as Savior and Lord. Jesus, convince me and fellow believers that this is the greatest work of the church—to seek and save the lost as you did when you walked the earth. Thank you for affirming that you are both for me and with me as I step out in faith today to be a harvester. I thank you in advance that you are making me a fruitful and faithful witness for Christ today. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

--Adapted from Praying God’s Word Over Your City: 40 Days of Prayer for A Transformed Community by Trey and Mary Anne Kent. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.

Prayer Points

  • Praise the God who cares even for the birds (Mt. 6:25-34).
  • Give thanks that you can depend upon him completely to meet every need.
  • Confess anything in your life which is rooted in pride and self-reliance.
  • Commit yourself to not worrying about your life or about tomorrow.
  • Ask the Father to help you to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness . . .” (6:33).
  • Ask that unsaved persons around you will realize the folly of building their lives on foundations of sand. Pray that they will build on the rock, Jesus Christ.
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.

ODB:

Brought Low

Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor. Proverbs 29:23

READ Proverbs 29:18–27

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

Pride precedes and often leads to humiliation—something a man in Norway found out. Not even dressed in running clothes, the individual arrogantly challenged Karsten Warholm—the world record holder in the 400-meter hurdles—to a race. Warholm, training in an indoor public facility, obliged the challenger and left him in his dust. At the finish line, the two-time world champion smiled when the man insisted that he’d had a bad start and wanted to race again!

In Proverbs 29:23 we read, “Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.” God’s dealings with the proud is one of Solomon’s favorite themes in the book (11:2; 16:18; 18:12). The word pride or haughty in these verses means “swelling” or “puffed up”—taking credit for what rightfully belongs to God. When we’re filled with pride, we think more highly of ourselves than we should. Jesus once said, “Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12). Both He and Solomon direct us to pursue humility and lowliness. This isn’t false modesty, but rightsizing oneself and acknowledging that all that we have comes from God. It’s being wise and not saying things arrogantly “in haste” (Proverbs 29:20).   

Let’s ask God to give us the heart and wisdom to humble ourselves to honor Him and avoid humiliation.

By Marvin Williams

REFLECT & PRAY

When have you experienced humility that brought honor? How can you humble yourself before God?

Dear God, remind me that humility is the pathway to honor in Your sight.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Proverbs 29:18-27 comes from a five-chapter section that begins with 25:1. That introductory verse says, “These are more proverbs of Solomon, compiled by the men of Hezekiah king of Judah.” Who were “the men of Hezekiah”? They were likely his scribes, and these proverbs were collected by them more than two hundred years after the death of King Solomon. Hezekiah had a reputation as a good and God-fearing king, and he was keenly interested in seeing the wisdom of his ancestor preserved and promulgated.

Proverbs 29:18 may be the most well-known proverb from today’s reading. The word revelation is rendered as “vision,” “prophecy,” or “prophetic vision” in other translations. The Hebrew word is khazon, which means “a revelation, a message from God.”

Tim Gustafson
Posted by: AT 11:12 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, February 07 2024

Good Morning Praying Friends of God! I love this thought from Colleen Townsend Evans, "The right way to pray then, is any way that allows us to communicate with God. For prayer in not a ritual; it's the soul's inherent response to a relationship with a loving Father." We don't practice rituals to get close to God or earn His favor, we grow in relationship. Christianity differs from all other religions because they all seek to placate a deity or do things to earn His favor. Christianity is all about a relationship with our loving Father. He created us in love. He wants us to draw near in relationship. He sacrificed His Son so we can draw close and be with Him forever. He sent His Spirit to dwell in us so we can hear Him, understand His Word and learn to follow Him better. "Draw near to God" is a command. Be still and know (another command and promise). Sit at His feet a bit today. Listen. Share your heart. Respond as He leads and grow in that relationship. And then live each day in a constant state of prayer. Pray continually is another command. (Just don't close your eyes while driving!) How's your relationship with your loving Father in heaven--King of the universe? He is right with you with open arms, His heart to share, and He's singing over you, His masterpiece. He wants to talk to you, grow in relationship and lead you to His will, plans and best each step of each day! What love and joy we know and can share! Abide in Him today!

The Become More in '24 Challenge is all about growing your relationship with our loving Father. Seeking Him more. Becoming more like Him--more of You and less of me, Lord! It's all about learning to hear Him and follow better each day and each step of faith we take. It's about doing more of what you are created, gifted, empowered and led to do throughout each day. God has great plans that He created you and gifted you to do well that spring forth as you grow in relationship, grow in staying connected, and grow in obedience. That is the abundant life of joy we can know in Christ and God's best for us. We will continue to focus on that growth, that "more" in '24 and beyond. Maybe a word you might consider working on is "relationship", or "focus", "stillness", or maybe "trust". God has great plans for you awaiting your discovery and growing into. Seek first the Kingdom of God and a growing relationship and all these things will be added to you and you will know shalom and joy beyond measure.

Check out the devotionals below as they will stir some conversation and reasoning with our Abba. Are you listening, believing, and doing more of what He's revealing? Are you growing in relationship? I urge you to pray into and focus on becoming more in '24! That is God best for you and our fellowship! Come taste and see that the Lord is good! The Upper Room especially speaks into our spiritual and relationship growth. What's God saying to you? It only takes a spark to get a fire going. Keep fanning into flame that relationship and may you burn bright and be on fire for the Lord, igniting a wildfire of faith all around you! And may your prayer life be filled with prayers from the heart and in faith as we ignite revival! Amen

Charles Stanley

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UR: Spiritual Growth

The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out. - Leviticus 6:13 (NIV)

In my sister’s garden, spinach blossomed with irresistible green leaves and lush shoots. I wanted to replicate this sight at my house, so I picked some seedlings for my small garden. Weeks passed, but my spinach did not produce the same beauty. I studied my sister’s method, and I realized I had missed an important step. Every morning before going to work, she waters the garden with water from her small fishpond, providing the plants with daily nutrients, and making her garden green and lush.

The Holy Spirit taught me a great lesson from this observation. At that time, I had not applied the principle of daily nurture to my Christianity. I woke early to beat the traffic on my way to work. If I was running late, I would skip my morning devotion or say my prayers in a hurry. Some days got so busy that I had no time to return to my devotions. This inconsistent care for my faith was precarious.

Just like the daily addition of wood kept the fire on the altar burning in Leviticus 6:12-13, the daily care my sister gives her plants keeps her garden green. To get the same result in my spiritual life, I must pray and meditate on God’s word every day. Those who blossom spiritually do not get there by chance; they consistently work at it. This is the recipe for spiritual growth.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Dear Lord, forgive us when we are too busy to give attention to you. Help us to prioritize our spiritual growth by spending time with you each day. Amen.

ODB:

Angels on the Walls

We prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat. Nehemiah 4:9

READ Nehemiah 4:6–9

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When Wallace and Mary Brown moved to an impoverished part of Birmingham, England, to pastor a dying church, they didn’t know that a gang had made the grounds of their church and home its headquarters. The Browns had bricks thrown through their windows, their fences set on fire, and their children threatened. The abuse continued for months; the police were unable to stop it.

The book of Nehemiah recounts how the Israelites rebuilt Jerusalem’s broken walls. When locals set out to “stir up trouble,” threatening them with violence (Nehemiah 4:8), the Israelites “prayed to . . . God and posted a guard” (v. 9). Feeling God used this passage to direct them, the Browns, their children, and a few others walked around their church’s walls, praying that He would install angels as guards to protect them. The gang jeered, but the next day, only half of them showed up. The day after that, only five were there, and the day after, no one came. The Browns later heard the gang had given up terrorizing people.

This miraculous answer to prayer isn’t a formula for our own protection, but it’s a reminder that opposition to God’s work will come and must be fought with the weapon of prayer. “Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome,” Nehemiah told the Israelites (v. 14). He can even set violent hearts free.

By Sheridan Voysey

REFLECT & PRAY

What would you have done in the Browns’ situation? Who needs your prayers for deliverance today?

Awesome God, protect Your people by Your powerful angels, and set the hearts of Your enemies free.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Nehemiah, the son of Hakaliah, served the important post of cupbearer for King Artaxerxes. When Nehemiah heard the discouraging news from his brother Hanani that the wall of Jerusalem was broken down, he wept. Moreover, his people, the Jewish exiles who’d returned to Judah from Babylon, were in trouble (Nehemiah 1). The king noticed Nehemiah’s sadness, inquired about it (2:1-2), and granted his servant Nehemiah leave of absence to help rebuild Jerusalem. Nehemiah united the returning exiles to rebuild the walls despite heavy opposition from opponents in nearby Samaria, Amnon, and Arabia. While some of the men worked to rebuild the walls, others stood guard (4:1-9, 15). The wall was completed in fifty-two days (6:15). Later, Nehemiah helped Ezra the priest and teacher to restore the morals of the people by obeying the law of the Lord (8:9-10). Nehemiah served as governor of Judah for twelve years.

Alyson Kieda

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Wednesday, February 07 2024
Good Morning Seeking, Becoming, Doing, Loving more Earnestly, like Jesus, Followers of the Way! Contemplate that as we have been jumping into the becoming more like Jesus challenge for over a month. Are you part of this? Have you prayed about and shared the word(s) God has given you to work on? Are you committed to living more earnestly as if Christ is all that matters in this life? Try it! You'll like it! Come and see and experience that true life in Christ is all that really matters in this life. Turn off that noise in your head and all around you and start choosing the abundant life!
Since discipleship is defined as the process of becoming who Jesus would be if He were you and we are working on becoming more like Jesus, what are you experiencing? How is the Holy Spirit directing your steps? What is God saying to you? Who are you processing that with? He loves you, custom made you to become more like Jesus and love like Him and then gave you His Spirit to help you make all that happen. PTL, right? Can you honestly say, "I am who I am because I am allowing I AM to be who He is in and through me."? Seriously, that is what this life is all about. Who cares who is president, what some media personality is doing or wants you to do, or what is the latest must have thing or what chaos stirring news is being spewed about? In this life Christ IS all that matters along with our becoming more like Him. We are working on that. I'd really like to hear the word(s) God has you working on so I can pray and encourage and walk with you towards it. Please share your words with Sarah or me. How about right now!
God was speaking to my heart through our devotionals for today (below). I'll let you to sit at His feet, listen and process as you engage Him through your time with them. Rom 12:12, "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer." and the corresponding 1 Thes. 5 verses are threaded throughout today's readings. Think God is saying something to us? As I was ready to work on this, the Harvest Prayer blog popped up in my email. Below is Kim Butts Blog. She sums up much of what I've been hearing from God and trying to share with you so much better than me. Check this out and allow it to inform your prayers and choices today. We are created, gifted and led to be Jesus to others just as we are. And as we do, God will grow us into our fuller potential and His greater things. We are on an awesome journey that requires dying to self and earnestly seeking Him more. Come! Let us do this together for God's glory and truly enjoy the abundant life together. Amen! Living for Jesus, a life that is true! (maybe we should sing that hymn?) I know no other master than Jesus Christ my Lord...is that you prayerful song today? Sing it loud to our Father as your commitment to live for Jesus today and become more like Him in '24!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=De-9PgDs3vA
Becoming a Living Reminder

“To walk in the presence of the Lord means to move forward in life in such a way that all our desires, thoughts, and actions are constantly guided by him. When we walk in the Lord’s presence, everything we see, hear, touch, or taste reminds us of him. This is what is meant by a prayerful life. It is not a life in which we say many prayers, but a life in which nothing, absolutely nothing, is done, said or understood independently of him who is the origin and purpose of our existence… When we no longer walk in the presence of the Lord, we cannot be living reminders of his divine presence in our lives.” – Henri Nouwen, The Living Reminder

These powerful words describe what the journey of prayer as every day life should be like. Everything is created by, informed by and shaped by the presence of God as “in Him we live, move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). As we walk through each day, He is present in every activity, every thought, and every moment of rest. God’s heart beats within our own and His kingdom purposes are yearning for our attention during the moments when we are forgetful of His continual companionship.

My deepest desire is to integrate the presence of Christ in me throughout my day. I desire that my first and last thoughts each day as well as everything in between would turn to the very present God…our Jehovah Shammah (The Lord is There). I was grateful to my pastor this week for preaching on this amazing Name of God. He reminded us that God knows our actions: “you know when I sit and when I rise” (Psalm 139:2), He knows our thoughts: “…you perceive my thoughts from afar” (Psalm 139:2), and He knows our ways: “You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways” (Psalm 139:3). He knew all of these things before we were even born: “For you created my inmost being and you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13). How is it that this amazing God slips our minds – ever?

Yet, even though God’s word says that apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5), we spend much of our lives doing and thinking and making decisions and plans completely independently of our Father, the One who knows us perfectly – inside and out.

Perhaps all it will take is to develop some godly strategies for remembering and recognizing His presence in our world and in the continual going about our day living. Is it even possible to cultivate never ending prayerfulness? Yes! God created us for this possibility to become reality. His word declares that we are to “pray continually” no matter where we are or what we are experiencing. If we are to be “living reminders” to everyone we connect with day to day, Jesus must ooze from our pores simply because we live, move and have our being in His presence. Here are a few simple strategies to help us live prayerfully in God’s presence:

Cultivate thankfulness for all things created, and for your daily experiences simply by becoming more aware. Develop a heart of gratitude even for things you normally take for granted. If you see loveliness around you, express your thanks to the Father. If you think of a good idea, give God praise for shaping your mind. Perhaps you have an opportunity to speak life or peace or hope into another person. Give the Lord thanks for opening the way for the conversation to take place.

If you or someone you connect with has a need, or if you simply see a need around you, take time to pray in that moment for God to intervene in a life or situation. Remember to be willing for the Holy Spirit to prompt you to meet the very need you just prayed about.

Take time each day to sit in silence. If you could spend ten minutes a day in silence, simply telling God that you want to spend time with Him, enjoying Him, you will begin to experience the truth of Matthew 6:33: “Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

You will likely be able to think of many other ways to cultivate a prayerful “knowing” that God is continually present with you. As we foster our awareness of Jehovah Shammah through all of our senses and experiences, over time we will begin to encounter a deeper sense of joy and security no matter what comes our way. And, we will become living reminders of the presence of Jesus to all who come into contact with us. May living prayerfully in His presence become a continual reality for our every day lives!

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ODB:

Surrendering to God

So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. Genesis 22:14

READ Genesis 22:1–3, 6–12

Born on a farm, Judson Van DeVenter learned to paint, studied art, and became an art teacher. God, however, had a different plan for him. Friends valued his work in church and urged him to go into evangelism. Judson felt God calling him too, but it was hard for him to give up his love for teaching art. He wrestled with God, but “at last,” he wrote, “the pivotal hour of my life came, and I surrendered all.”

We can’t imagine Abraham’s heartbreak when God called him to surrender his son Isaac. In the wake of God’s command to “sacrifice him there as a burnt offering” (Genesis 22:2), we ask ourselves what precious thing God is calling us to sacrifice. We know that He ultimately spared Isaac (v. 12), and yet the point is made: Abraham was willing to surrender what was most precious to him. He trusted God to provide in the midst of a most difficult calling.

We say we love God, but are we willing to sacrifice what’s dearest to us? Judson Van DeVenter followed God’s call into evangelism and later penned the beloved hymn “I Surrender All.” In time, God called Judson back into teaching. One of his students was a young man named Billy Graham.

God’s plan for our lives has purposes we can’t imagine. He longs for us to be willing to surrender what is dearest. It seems that’s the least we can do. After all, He sacrificed for us His only begotten Son.

By Kenneth Petersen

REFLECT & PRAY

What’s God’s calling for you? What might you need to sacrifice for Him?

Dear God, I struggle to fully surrender parts of my life to You. Please help me to trust You.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

The “gospel echoes” in Genesis 22 are noteworthy. Abraham took his beloved and only son to sacrifice him on a mountain (v. 2). While Isaac was spared (vv. 8, 13-14), God’s own Son was the Lamb slain for the sins of the world (John 1:29; 3:16). Paul wrote in Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” God the Father gave; Jesus the Son gave; believers in Jesus follow their example of surrender.

Arthur Jackson
UR: Sticky Note Prayers

Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. - Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)

After my husband and I married, we had conflicting schedules. I was working on my bachelor’s degree, and he often worked evening shifts as a meteorologist. I came home one afternoon to find a note taped to the fireplace. We began communicating via these short notes when our schedules didn’t line up. We stuck them on the bathroom mirror, the door to the garage, in the kitchen, and in other places where they were sure to attract attention. My son didn’t understand our history with the notes and disliked them, but my husband and I knew they were love notes with the intent of maintaining communication.

Like those notes, our prayers don’t have to be long-winded. Short prayers throughout the day strengthen our relationship with God. The apostle Paul tells us to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, [and] give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:16-18, NRSVUE). This means not just praising God for the things we are happy about, but also for things that might not give us joy. Rejoicing, praising, praying, and thanking God are all ways we can include God in our day, and I believe it is a wonderful way to honor God.

TODAY'S PRAYER
Dear Lord, thank you for hearing even our shortest prayers. Help us remember that nothing is too trivial to pray about. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.

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Wednesday, February 07 2024

Thanks for praying and being part of God's work through our Good News Delivery Co. called St. Matthews! God is hearing and answering! PTL! Your pastor and his mom are ok. PTL. Others are being healed and blessed as well! And we had a great but semi delayed congregational meeting.

The column for the 2024 budget failed to print unnoticed until the meeting. New copies have been distributed and are available.  We will we convene before the brunch Feb. 25th as a congregation to vote on the budget. Yesterday all other business was approved, including retaining our same leadership teams. Thank you.

Don't forget Zoom Huddle at 10 tomorrow. All welcome as we continue to discuss healing.

Good Morning Hearers and Doers of God's Word! He is always speaking and near to you. He's even singing over you, believe it or not. He really loves you, wants to hang out, grow in relationship and even just chat. Sometimes we struggle to recognize that God is near or speaking, but that doesn't change the fact that He is. PTL! Sometimes our unbelief or sin hamper our hearing or His responding as well. Repent and hear and believe the Good News that you are very loved, forgiven and that God is answering your prayers and providing for your needs all the time. Be still and know! Turn off the noise. Listen to that still small voice and follow well today! Check out the Harvest prayer blog on how to prepare, pray and release God's will for this nation and revival below. That all begins with us--God's chosen people!

God had led me to pray today, as in many days, to "Speak, your servant is listening." Funny thing, well, God thing, I opened my Charles Stanley devo first with the title "God Speaks"! He sure does! All the time! You can hear Him too and know that He hears and is answering. We usually need to process what we are hearing with others to be sure exactly what we are hearing and what to do or even to be sure God is speaking. Pray for God to raise up some friends for you to process well with. This is a desire of God and my heart that this year we all find some small groups of friends to pray and process with and be accountable to. Let us know who you are partnering with so we can pray for you and so Sarah and I can help you get started.

As God speaks, we are able to discern His plans for us and even how to pray. God is at work all the time and with us even in the darkest valleys. Check out the Upper Room below. Who is someone He may want you to be His vessel to walk with as well? Who might know you well enough to know that you need someone to walk with? We need each other to do this life in Christ well. God just won't let me let go of that this year. For good spiritual, physical and mental health we need to be able to be open and honest with some close and trusted people. This also helps to lead to producing good fruit. Who are your partners in Christ? And that may be someone God hasn't sent yet, but needs you and you they. Check out Our Daily Bread below with how to love each other, receive new friends and walk in love together. We all need love and compassion, tough love sometimes too, and much grace like we've been given. Look at Jesus and the 12 for how to do this. He wants us to grow into His likeness and walking in His best ways. He's sending you to someone and someone to you to help. And don't forget the gift of the Holy Spirit, our Helper. He's there speaking and guiding as well. Listen! Follow well and with some others. That is God's best!

I'm praying for you all today and for God to be our Lord and Shepherd this week. He has great plans for you and us. Choose joy, hope, and His loving, best ways! And then celebrate and share all that God is doing as He continues to write your story and our story. Amen!

Harvest Prayer Blog:

February 5 - Only God Can Save a Nation

We all know the verse: “If my people who are called by my name…” from 2 Chronicles 7:14. The words are so common they have almost become a cliché. We have said the verse enough and heard it enough, yet we often look at our country and wonder if our prayers are having any visible effect.

Thankfully, history assures us that this verse is true, and that the powerful Word of God is never simply a cliché. When a nation comes together to pray, fast, and seek the will of God, things do happen.

Currently the stresses and woes of our nation today are comparable to critical times in our nation in the past. Yet at times it seems the Church is unaware of the urgency of the day. We can seem paralyzed in prayer, unsure that God’s Word still applies to our hopeless situations. Could we cry out to Almighty God that He would accomplish His divine purposes in and through our nation? If we are to be saved, only God can do it.

“…if my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Today, please pray for our government: For righteousness, laws based on God’s moral law, and for justice. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people (Proverbs 14:3-4). See also: Psalm 34:15; Psalm 89:14.

Father, You are Lord over our nation. We trust in You and You alone! We ask that all of our leaders will give their hearts to You fully and completely. May they govern with integrity that is based upon Your righteousness. May laws be based upon Your law and not upon popular opinion. May “liberty and justice for all” truly become the reality in our nation!

--Adapted from Show Me the Proof by David Kubal, an article in the Premiere Issue of Prayer Connect Magazine.

Prayer Points

  • Praise God as the giver of every good and perfect gift (Jas. 1:5, 17).
  • Give thanks for the indescribable gift of his only Son.
  • Confess any times when you have taken God’s gifts to you for granted.
  • Commit yourself to searching Scripture for more knowledge of the “riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us” (Eph. 1:7-8).
  • Ask that your heart’s thirst be quenched and your soul’s hunger be satisfied in God as with the richest of foods (Psalm 63).
  • Pray that your congregation may have faith that “you will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion” (2 Cor. 9:11).
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.

Charles Stanley:

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UR: New Life

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. - Psalm 23:4 (KJV)

At 11:30 a.m. on December 28, 2021, I suddenly started sweating, and I knew that I needed to go to the hospital. My family members called my eldest son who was on duty at the hospital to come pick me up. At that time, hospitals were crowded, and it was difficult to see doctors there; but I met with a very capable doctor who diagnosed me with two blockages in my heart. We made an immediate decision to perform an angioplasty and open the blockages with two stents.

The surgery was successful. I was kept in the ICU for one day and in a special observation room for another. On the evening of the third day, I returned home completely recovered. I am convinced that the living God gave me a new life.

The life I am leading today is a living witness to the words of the psalmist, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.” Through my experience that day, I have seen the full promise of the Lord who stayed with me all the time and walked with me through the valley. I thank the Lord for giving me new life.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Merciful God, increase our faith. Help us to believe that you are ready to take care of us and help us when we pray to you. In the name of the Lord Jesus. Amen.ODB:

Extending Dignity

Has no one condemned you? John 8:10

READ John 8:2–11

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Maggie’s young friend showed up in church shockingly dressed. No one should have been surprised though; she was a prostitute. Maggie’s visitor shifted uneasily in her seat, alternately tugging at her much-too-short skirt and folding her arms self-consciously around herself.

“Oh, are you cold?” Maggie asked, deftly diverting attention away from how she was dressed. “Here! Take my shawl.”

Maggie introduced dozens of people to Jesus simply by inviting them to come to church and helping them feel comfortable. The gospel had a way of shining through her winsome methods. She treated everyone with dignity.

When religious leaders dragged a woman before Jesus with the harsh (and accurate) charge of adultery, Christ kept the attention off her until He sent her accusers away. Once they were gone, He could have scolded her. Instead, He asked two simple questions: “Where are they?” and “Has no one condemned you?” (John 8:10). The answer to the latter question, of course, was no. So Jesus gave her the gospel in one brief statement: “Then neither do I condemn you.” And then the invitation: “Go now and leave your life of sin” (v. 11).

Never underestimate the power of genuine love for people—the kind of love that refuses to condemn, even as it extends dignity and forgiveness to everyone.  

By Tim Gustafson

REFLECT & PRAY

How will you react when you see someone who’s living a hard lifestyle? Who can you invite to church this week and how might you get them to come?

Gracious God, please forgive me for having a judgmental spirit, and help me to show others Your love and grace.

Learn more about the importance of extending forgiveness.

Unforgiveness Delivers You to the Torturers - Our Daily Bread University

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

In the passage about Jesus and the woman caught in adultery in John 8:2-11, the religious leaders were trying to entrap Him on the horns of a dilemma (a situation where you have two choices, but both are wrong). If He excuses the woman’s sin, He’d be seen as denying Moses’ law and would be exposed as a false teacher. But if He said to stone her to death, He’d be defying Roman law—for only Rome could enact capital punishment. Instead, He chooses a third option—making the religious leaders the subject of examination instead of the woman and offering her compassion.

Bill Crowder
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Wednesday, February 07 2024

Joy Toy News and Harvest Prayer blog below

Good Morning Praising and Praying Priests of the Lord! We are all priests unto the Lord. We don't need a mediator to carry our praises and prayers to God. We don't have to sacrifice animals to be heard although we are to offer a sacrifice of praise. God is always near and knows our hearts and our prayers before we ask. But He wants us to ask and wants us to spend time with Him. So much so that He made a way through His Son. PTL! And we are never too sinful to be forgiven and redeemed! (Think of the thief on the cross who joined Jesus in Paradise that evening). Check out our devos below and spend some time with our Loving Abba and Savior as you prepare for worship and our congregational meeting today. (pray for your pastor as he has been up since 1 with stomach issues. Thanks). Count your many blessings and go share the love of God with others. That's true worship!

Harvest Prayer blog:

February 4 - Your Values Determine Your Praying

Everything you do is based on value. If you think exercise or reading or entertainment will bring meaning to your life, you will spend huge amounts of time there. If you think those things are worthless, you’ll give your attention to something else.
 
The Bible speaks of prayer over 650 times with 450 recorded answers to prayer. It is one of the most repeated commands—by directive and example—in the Scripture. It is not peripheral, but foundational in our walk with Christ. And yet, most people would be honest to admit that their prayer life is weak at best. Most say they pray, but their prayers are often only in times of crisis or a fleeting prayer during the day. They nod with their heads at its value but are seldom on their knees.

Why do we have such a struggle with prayer? Sadly, many of God’s own people don’t really believe it’s valuable.

Worthy Father, You have created us for Yourself and You have created prayer as Your way of accomplishing Your will on this earth through Your people! Thank You for this amazing privilege to connect with Your heart. I am in awe that You desire to use me for Your purposes. Help me to seek after Your will as I pray by listening well and by searching Your word. Forgive me for my prayerlessness and strengthen my desire to grow into a deeper intimacy with You.

---Adapted from Simply Prayer by Bill Elliff. This book is available at prayershop.org.

Prayer Points

  • Give glory to God as the Lord of peace.
  • Thank Jesus that he himself is our peace, breaking down the barriers and the dividing walls of hostility (Eph. 2:14).
  • Confess any areas where you are not at peace with another believer or group of Christians.
  • Commit yourself to making every effort to live in peace with all people (Heb. 12:14).
  • Ask God to help you bear with others and forgive whatever grievance you have against them, forgiving them as the Lord forgave you (Col. 3:13).
  • Pray that the church may “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3), realizing that as members of one body we are called to peace.
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.

ODB:

Rewired by Gratitude

Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits. Psalm 103:2

READ Psalm 103:1–8, 17

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After being diagnosed with a brain tumor, Christina Costa noticed how much of the talk around facing cancer is dominated by the language of fighting. She found that this metaphor quickly started to feel exhausting. She “didn’t want to spend over a year at war with [her] own body.” Instead, what she found most helpful were daily practices of gratitude—for the team of professionals caring for her and for the ways her brain and body were showing healing. She experienced firsthand that no matter how difficult the struggle, practices of gratitude can help us resist depression and “wire our brains to help us build resilience.”

Costa’s powerful story reminded me that practicing gratitude isn’t just something believers do out of duty. Although it’s true that God deserves our gratitude, it’s also profoundly good for us. When we lift up our hearts to say, “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (Psalm 103:2), we’re reminded of the countless ways God’s at work—assuring us of forgiveness, working healing in our bodies and hearts, letting us experience “love and compassion” and countless “good things” in His creation (vv. 3–5).

While not all suffering will find complete healing in this lifetime, our hearts can always be renewed by gratitude, for God’s love is with us “from everlasting to everlasting” (v. 17). 

By Monica La Rose

REFLECT & PRAY

How have you experienced healing through gratitude? What are you grateful for today?

Dear God, thank You for always giving me reasons for gratitude and hope.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

The Psalms, perhaps more than any other book of the Bible, are filled with praise and gratitude to God. The psalmists David, Asaph, the sons of Korah, Solomon, and other unnamed writers all praise Him for His attributes and wondrous deeds. Psalm 103 is such a psalm. David had many reasons to praise God who’d “been good to [him]” (13:6): God chose David, a lowly shepherd, to be king. He forgave his grievous sins (see 2 Samuel 11-12; Psalms 32, 51) and gave him victory over his enemies (18:3). The psalmist sang God’s praises because of His righteousness and love (7:17; 31:21), counsel and instruction (16:7). God, his strength and fortress (59:17), lifted him “out of the slimy pit” and “put a new song in [his] mouth” (40:2-3). God, the “Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort” deserves our praise (2 Corinthians 1:3).

Alyson Kieda

UR: Pass It On

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.” - Mark 12:43 (NIV)

Several years ago, while we were acclimating to a new church, a kind member began the habit of passing a copy of The Upper Room to our family. At the time, our children were in elementary and junior high school, and our lives seemed very full. We wondered how we would find the time each day to gather the family together to accomplish yet one more task. We began to set aside a few minutes each morning after breakfast before our day got too busy and our children headed off to school. Before long, we had gotten into a wonderful routine! Occasionally, something would interfere with it, and the morning devotional would be overlooked. It didn’t take us long to make a connection that the days begun with devotionals went more smoothly than the ones without.

Decades later we are still beginning our days with The Upper Room at breakfast, and we have started the tradition of “passing on” the devotional to friends and family members, just as our friend had done for us. Over the years, our lives have been enriched by the messages of spirit-filled Christians from all over the globe. It all began with a humble act of sharing Christ’s love.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Help us, Lord, to pass on to others the generous gifts of love you have given to us. Amen.

Joe Toy:

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Saturday, February 03 2024

Rise and shine and give God all the glory, honor and praise! What a beautiful day lies ahead and He has some great plans for you to discover and step into! PTL!

God Morning Restored, Refreshed, and Ready Servants of the Most Hight God! Winter is waning and Spring is coming. God has allowed us a season to refresh and He is restoring all the enemy has stolen from us. We are readying for what's next. The sap of new life is flowing through us. New buds are beginning to sprout. Oh what a glorious time to be part of God's family! Rejoice!

When I worked as a gardener, my one customer insisted that I had to prune his Crape Myrtle's right after the first frost. Every plant has their season when pruning is best done. I feel like we have been pruned at just the right time. We are abiding in the Vine and receiving His nourishing life giving sap as we are being readied and restored to burst forth and beautiful color and vibrancy. Spring is coming and the buds are readying for some great fruit ahead. Can you sense it? It's coming! As we abide and endure through this season of preparation, be assured that as we persevere and endure earnestly in Christ we have some greater things coming! PTL! Keep seeking, knocking, praying for restoration and new fruit and keep offering yourself for God to use as you fulfill your part in His Body well. 

Check out our devos below and spend some time with our Vine and THE Potter. Remember how we are gifted to go love like Jesus and how He loved sacrificially and lavishly and calls us to the same. Even in the book of Acts, we see how His disciples led the early church to sow lavishly in love of God and for others. Ask God to give you His giving, blessing heart and His mind to steward well all His blessings and to sow into His plans with your time, talent, treasure and gifts. And always remember that God knows what we need before we ask, BUT He wants us to ask. We can grow in Christ and service and produce very good fruit as we seek God and His Kingdom with all our heart, trust Him to provide where He guides and to allow us to grow in relationship with Him and each other and even those He is drawing as we labor together for His glory and worship with all our being! He is Jireh--enough! He is our provision and guide. He is our God Almighty who  created and gifted you to go and do His will for such a time as this! PTL! Allow Him to restore, refresh, ready and then use you as you step out boldly in faith to go love like Jesus and change the world! Amen!

I can't wait to hear the stories as we work on our words and seek to Become More in '24! More like Jesus and doing more of what we are created and gifted to do! This is the year of the Lord's favor and the year of restoration and new life! Proclaim it! Live it!

Upper Room: Restored

But now, Lord, you are our father. We are the clay, and you are our potter. All of us are the work of your hand. - Isaiah 64:8 (CEB)

Some time ago, I experienced several life changes. I resigned from my job to move several times because of my husband’s work. During one of those moves, I was led by God to be baptized. Six months after I was baptized, my husband and I went through a hard time; my marriage was in crisis. He talked about a separation and later asked that I leave the house. At the same time this was happening, my grandmother, who had been like a mother to me during my youth, died. Two months later, my father died.

Unable to understand what was happening, I was filled with incredible suffering and my heart was broken. I fell to my knees and asked God, “Why did you take everything?” I entered a prolonged season of prayer and fasting. With anguished

urgency I began to read the Bible, and the Holy Spirit led me to this passage: “Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll — are they not in your record? Then my enemies will turn back when I call for help. By this I will know that God is for me” (Ps. 56:8-9, NIV). An inexplicable peace washed over me. My life, the vessel that was broken into pieces, could be made new again. God was at work sustaining, molding, and refining the fragments of my heart. This process not only restored my life but my marriage as well and filled me with God’s peace.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Dear Lord, grant us the wisdom to trust you to mold and remake us according to your will. Amen.Our Daily Bread:

Gifted with Love

One person gives freely, yet gains even more. Proverbs 11:24

READ Proverbs 11:24–25

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

On her wedding day, Gwendolyn Stulgis wore the wedding dress of her dreams. Then she gave it away—to a stranger. Stulgis believed a dress deserved more than sitting in a closet collecting dust. Other brides agreed. Now scores of women have bonded on her social media site to donate and receive wedding dresses. As one giver said, “I hope this dress gets passed from bride to bride to bride, and it just gets worn out and is in tatters at the end of its life because of all the celebrating that’s done in it.”

The spirit of giving can feel like a celebration, indeed. As it is written, “One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:24–25).

The apostle Paul taught this principle in the New Testament. As he said his goodbyes to the believers in Ephesus, he gave them a blessing (Acts 20:32) and reminded them of the importance of generosity. Paul pointed to his own work ethic as an example for them to follow. “In everything I did,” he said, “I showed you that by . . . hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’ ” (v. 35).

Being generous reflects God. “For God so loved the world that He gave . . .” (John 3:16). Let’s follow His glorious example as He guides us.

By Patricia Raybon

REFLECT & PRAY

What good gift have you given recently? How did your gift help someone?

Dear Father, please open my hands to give to others with Your love in my heart.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Proverbs 11:24-25 provides winsome images that illustrate principles of generosity and stinginess. “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered” (esv). Contrary to human reasoning and self-preservation, giving can result in gain and emptying to fullness. Closed hands, clenched fists, and hoarding are inconsistent with the gospel and the teaching and example of Jesus (see Luke 6:38). In 2 Corinthians 8:9, Paul summed up the generosity of Christ: “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”

Arthur Jackson

TWFYT:

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C.S.

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Posted by: AT 09:51 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, February 03 2024


 

Reminders: Sunday is our Annual Congregational Meeting after worship and on Zoom. You must be present and a member in good standing to vote
Sunday we are also collecting for Everlasting Life Ministries
Tomorrow is Clothing Closet from 10-1. PTL for this growing ministry and for the volunteers! They are expanding to use the whole 2nd floor.
Prayer Request: Melissa is asking for prayers for mom, Darlene Skinner who has been under the weather and was taken to ER last evening for evaluation. We will update when we know more
Good Morning Gathered, Unified, Co-Laborers! We don't go to church. We are the Church, a community of believers, gathered by God to go love and make disciple makers as we step into our fullness in Christ and do what we were created to do for God's glory. We are family, His Body, co-laborers, friends of God and sinners and we are sinners that are forgiven much, cleansed and purified and readying to roll with God. PTL and count you your blessings! Check out the Harvest Prayer blog below about community. This is "Thank God I'm Forgiven" Friday! We are so thankful for that! Mine that to the depths and build those gratitude lists. Thank God for creating you for such a time as this, growing you and placing you in your community and our fellowship. He has great plans for you and for us to discover, grow into and to allow Him to use us to grow our community and His Kingdom. Rejoice!
We are a community of believers gathered in a building at 5th and Ridge. We chose to stay there after the building was almost leveled. Why? I don't know because I wasn't gathered here yet. My assumption is that you sought God and discerned that He wanted you to stay there for a purpose. I hope it wasn't because you followed you own instincts without seeking God. Assessing our connection to neighbors today, somewhere along the way we lost touch with them. Why? Well it doesn't really matter but we have no one within blocks of the church that attend our Sunday gatherings. Have we become irrelevant to the community we have been placed in? Or is it a society thing that has resulted from God's people failing to engage with and serve and love their neighbors? Maybe both. Our neighborhoods are filled with fourth, fifth and sixth generations that never went to church or only did so because a parent made them go get that "God thing" done. Yes the days of everyone going to church on a Sunday have come and gone and the lure of the world and the failure of God's people to be the church is what we are experiencing today. BUT GOD! He is not surprised nor caught off guard by this. It has been the way of His chosen ones since the beginning. Cold and hot and mostly somewhere in between that Jesus said He wants to spit those lukewarm ones out of His mouth.
BUT God! His plans never fail! He is always with us even when we are not close to Him. He promises that times will get increasingly dark as the lure of the world and ungodliness trap many and lore many away from Him. And He also consistently has had a faithful remnant that prayed, followed and reached others to come back to God and His ways that lit many revival fires. We are that remnant--faithful, earnest, followers of Jesus placed here by God for such a time as this. Strap on God's armor. Turn off the noise. Focus on Him and not our own understanding and allow Him to use us as catalysts for His promised end times revival! We are created, gifted and placed here for such a time as this!
Last evening our Vision Team (members from all our leadership teams) gathered to process and discuss an opportunity. As expected with gathered different members of the Body there was not consensus and we needed to process together to seek God, stay on the same page and make His plans. Most of our leadership team members have completed the spiritual gifts survey and as expected, we are all different and have different mixes of gifts. We approach ministry and following God, even discerning what He's revealing differently. We always--ALWAYS-- need to pause when there is not agreement and allow all to have a voice and process as they were created and gifted before we decide the next steps. That's how we stay healthy and how we are able to discern if God is saying, yes, no or wait. Some are inclined to see something as an opportunity and others as a threat and we always want to work towards following God together and He is the God of shalom and unity not chaos and disunity. We will always work to follow peace and help each other to move or wait as God is leading. We are family and God's Body and better together! Thank God for that and for the leaders He has raised up for our Body. We are much different than the ways of dissension, bickering and selfishness that we are witnessing daily in our government, media and communities, Thank God! Keep praying for us all to seek and follow Him well together and to keep growing into the greater things He has for us, sowing lavishly and following His provisions well. I think we are all maturing and growing as disciples and followers of Jesus. Let us seek to Become More in '24 together! We are not of this world! Let us show how true that is by our love, actions and obedience to follow God to His best earnestly. Amen! The old has gone and the new has come! Let us step into it together with wisdom, boldness and joy!
I am so blessed to be called to this Body and honored to serve beside you! You are a blessing and we are beginning to make a difference all around us. People are noticing and being drawn to our fellowship and God and His ways. PTL! Keep at it! Prepare yourselves for our Sunday meeting to seek and follow God as we discuss and vote. And here's your assignment: find a connection point to people that you are around a lot and ask God how we can serve and connect to them. Ask God to reveal new connection points to people He is drawing, for harvest workers and for the coming harvest. We have begun connecting to Bread Ministry people and race people. Some of them our joining our church and already serving. PTL! What are some other connection points we can pour into? God has plans and is drawing people and using us. PTL! Keep praying, seeking, knocking and willingly allowing God to send you. Amen! And don't forget to share what you are hearing, sensing, or any questions with your elected leadership. We need to process together and move together in love and unity always. That is the way of Jesus. And we are working on becoming more like Him together! Amen
Harvest Prayer:

February 2 - Be Thankful for Your Community

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. (Matthew 5:14) 

Why are you in your city, town, or neighborhood? Were you placed there from birth? Did you come for work? You may have ended up there out of desperation or felt drawn to the place. This may be a place of joy and anticipation, or you might struggle with boredom from the monotony of being in the same place every day, year after year. What do you love about your community? Take a moment now to thank Jesus for as many gifts as you can appreciate in your place of residence. 

Powerful and wonderful Creator, before the foundation of the earth, you knew and even planned my community. I thank you for the obvious beauty of this place. I even thank you for the obstacles that remind us of our need for you. Thank you for your character that is shown in this city. I’m grateful to be called to live in this community and I’m honored to be empowered by your Holy Spirit to pray as you lead. As I view this place, I see the glory you could reveal in this city and the revival you will bring forth. I ask you to open hearts to the possibility of the transformation you desire in us all and to empower us to believe, pray and work for the glory of your name. Let the gifts you have given our community grow and be used for the healing of our city and the salvation of many. 

Father, make (insert name of your town/city/community) the light of the world, a city set on a hill that cannot be hidden. Help us to let our light shine before others, so that they may see our good works and give glory to our Father in heaven. 

--Adapted from Praying God’s Word Over Your City: 40 Days of Prayer for A Transformed Community by Trey and Mary Anne Kent.

Posted by: AT 09:50 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, February 03 2024


 

Thank you for the prayers and understanding yesterday. I slept over 15 hours yesterday and another 8 last night. I am feeling rested and better and hope to get back at things today. Working from rest is God's best and I was weary and in need of rest and God blessed with that choice. I could have pushed through possibly yesterday and then been more exhausted and sick today. Ministry happened throughout the building without me yesterday. PTL! And thank you to all our servants! God is using you! And God has refreshed me and brought me out of spiritual attack, refining, a depressive funk and weariness to a place of being able and ready to follow Him. The 23rd Psalm comes to mind. Check out the Harvest Prayer blog for today about that and pray it and pronounce it over you and us! The Lord is MY Shepherd! The Lord is OUR Shepherd! Amen!
Good Morning Humble, Readying, Reflectors and Followers of Jesus! As you pronounce this over you and our fellowship, the thought may come to you as to me, "Is Jesus really my Lord and Shepherd? Am I becoming more like Him? Am I willing and ready to go incarnate Him and His love when called to?" And many other self-examination questions. Part of my time the past few days as been a deep soul searching and questioning of God about these things and more. Self-examination before God with an open heart to receive His correcting love and a willingness to repent is essential to a healthy, fruitful walk with Christ. Praying earnestly to be pruned and prepared, repentant and purified will lead to some hard places and dark spots to walk through. BUT GOD! He walks through these dark valleys with us, comforts us and restores our souls. He leads us through the paths of righteousness for His names sake, not our glory, but His. When we pray, "Have at it Lord. Have all of me. Purify me. Make me more like Jesus." we will come to know that God has great plans for us, is with us and wanting to prepare us for His best. God has sure been at work with answering my prayer to die to self and be more earnest. And PTL there is light and joy and shalom as we walk out of that valley with Him!
We have just completed our first month of the Become More in '24 Challenge. Less of me and more of Christ and working at becoming more like Jesus this year and doing more of what He's wanting to do in and through us. It's almost like starting a new year's resolution but more earnestly and keeping at it for more than a week or two. Check out the article from the Upper Room below about "Building the Kingdom". This might lead you to a word or two to work on or be a reminder that we are called to work out our faith with fear and trembling and allow God to mold and stretch and purify us so that we are ready to continue to follow Him well into the new things, the better things, He has planned for us. He really does have some great things planned for you and us, custom made things that we are gifted to do to build His Kingdom and Church. 
What's your part? What will you do about it? What may God need to purge from you? Who are you processing these things with? Who is covering you in prayer? Does God have to humble you or are you becoming more like Jesus and have His attitude of humble servant? Are you leaning on your own understanding or seeking God for more of His wisdom, direction, correction and help? OH so much soul searching I've been going through, but man has it been profitable and productive and will lead me to become more like Jesus. Join me! Process with me! Follow with me to God's greater and best things! We need each other! Amen. Check out our devos below speaking into these things today. Allow Jesus to be Your Lord and Shepherd with me!
The Christian life lived well is not for the weak and timid, just like getting old is not for sassy's! But remember, when we are weak, He is strong! Amen! God is in the business of transforming us into His image and into the people we are created to be. He has greater purposes for us that will be revealed as we allow Him full access with a humble willingness to allow Him to have His way with us. The Become More in '24 Challenge continues to take us deeper into Christ and His ways. We've worked through yearly challenges for the past few years that have led us here and have prepared us for what's next. We are becoming humble, readying, reflectors and followers of Jesus both individually and as His Body. And we are beginning to see the fruit of that labor. PTL! Let us continue to spur each other on as we earnestly pursue more of Christ and His ways! May we live more sacrificially and love more lavishly like Jesus the rest of the year and beyond--and together! Amen! I'm praying for you and God is cheering you on and His Spirit is in you and ready to help!
Harvest Prayer:

February 1 - The Lord Is My Shepherd

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4, ESV)

The 23rd Psalm doesn’t actually have the word “peace” in it. Yet the entire psalm is about peace. As I focused on the One who walked with me in or through dark places, I realized that I did not need to fear any evil. Peace replaced fear because of the awareness of the presence of Christ with me.

From green pastures and still waters to dwelling forever in His house, David gives us a picture of peace and the means of peace. The key to all of what the psalm promises is the presence of God.

“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear, because you are with me.”

For followers of Jesus, the indwelling Spirit is an absolute promise. He is with us! The trouble often is our lack of awareness of that fact in the moment of danger or fear. That’s why it is so important to bring the power of the Word of God into our lives continually. Whether it is singing a psalm or praying it without melody, the promises of His presence will bring peace.

Make it a point each day to affirm the Lord’s presence in your life. You can use the phrase from Psalm 23 and simply say “because you are with me.”

Lord, I am so grateful that you have provided for me green pastures to lay down in and still water to walk alongside. Thank you for preparing a table before me, even in the presence of my enemies. How grateful to know that your goodness and mercy will be with me always and that you have provided for me an eternal home. “Because you are with me,” I will not fear. Most of all Lord, I am grateful that your presence is continually within me. Keep me aware of that amazing fact. Thank you for the peace that comes from your presence.

--Adapted from Prayer, Peace and the Presence of God (A 30-Day Journey to Experience the Shalom of Jesus) by David Butts. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.

Prayer Points

  • Praise God that “from him and through him and to him are all things” (Rom. 11:36).
  • Thank God for being both your dwelling place and your destination.
  • Confess times that you have tried to live independently of his authority.
  • Commit yourself to offering your body “as [a] living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God” (Rom. 12:1).
  • Ask God to help you in “whatever you do, whether in word or deed, [to] do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col. 3:17).
  • Pray for all the unsaved persons in your city, that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow… and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil. 2:10-11). 
     
    Prayer Pointer
    “Prayer is hardest when it is hardest to pray.” —Anonymous
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.
UR Post:
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Charles Stanley from yesterday I was unable to share
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Charles Stanley: Today
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ODB:

All-Star Humility

[Jesus] made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant. Philippians 2:7

READ Philippians 2:1–8

After a game, a college basketball star stayed behind to help workers throw out empty cups and food wrappers. When a fan posted a video of him in action, more than eighty thousand people viewed it. One person commented, “[The young man] is one of the most humble guys you will ever meet in your life.” It would’ve been easier for the basketball player to leave with his teammates and celebrate his role in the team’s victory. Instead, he volunteered for a thankless job.

The ultimate spirit of humility is seen in Jesus, who left His high position in heaven to take the role of a servant on earth (Philippians 2:7). He didn’t have to do it, but He willingly humbled Himself. His ministry on earth included teaching, healing, and loving all people—and dying and rising to save them.

Although Christ’s example can inspire us to sweep a floor, pick up a hammer, or dish up food, it may be most powerful when it finds its way into our attitude toward others. True humility is an inner quality that not only changes our actions but also changes what’s important to us. It motivates us to “value others above [ourselves]” (v. 3).

Author and preacher Andrew Murray said, “Humility is the bloom and the beauty of holiness.” May our lives reflect this beauty as, through the power of His Spirit, we reflect the heart of Christ (vv. 2–5).

By Jennifer Benson Schuldt

REFLECT & PRAY

How has Jesus’ humility affected you? In what areas are you tempted to be prideful?

Dear Jesus, thank You for humbling Yourself for me. Help me to follow Your example of valuing others’ needs above my own.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Philippians 2:5-11 describes what Jesus gave up by coming to earth and becoming a man, and it’s spawned much debate over the centuries. Verse 6 affirms that prior to His incarnation, Christ was equal to the Father in every way. But in coming to earth, He “made himself nothing” (v. 7) or “emptied Himself” (nasb) of something. The key issue is found in the word emptied (Greek kenoō). Some have said that He emptied Himself of His deity, but, if so, how could His sacrifice fully atone for our sins? The most satisfying view is that He retained His deity and all His attributes but set aside the right to use those powers for His own benefit. Instead, He chose to submit to the Father’s will and purpose.

Examine the evidence that God became a man.

Bill Crowder
UR: Promptings from God

Who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. - 1 Corinthians 2:11 (NIV)

I had kept a Bible in the backseat of my car for several weeks with the belief that God would show me whom to give it to at the right moment. When I arrived at work one morning and got out of my car, I felt a conviction and a nudge from God that I should take the Bible inside with me.

That morning, one of my co-workers looked sad and subdued. She told me that her dad was being tested for a serious illness and explained her fears about his possible diagnosis. Feeling certain this was the reason God had prompted me to bring the Bible inside, I took it out of my bag and told her about my belief. She hugged me, thanking me with tears in her eyes. I told her it was not my merit; I was only an instrument in God’s hands.

I prayed for my co-worker’s dad. Ultimately, the test results showed that the doctor’s concerns about possible serious illness had been wrong. My co-worker now looks to the future with confidence, and she places her hope in God. Every day we try to find time at work for a little break with God.

TODAY'S PRAYER
Dear God, thank you for listening to our prayers, for opening our hearts, for helping us to give joyfully to others, and for giving us clear convictions and guidance. Amen.
TWFYT:
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Don  
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St. Matthew's EC Church

5th & Ridge Streets
P.O. Box 433
Emmaus, PA 18049
Telephone 610.965.5570
Email: stmattsecemmaus@gmail.com

ABOUT US

We are learning to live and love like Jesus. 

We are working on becoming who we were created to be and doing our custom made purposes well. 

We are part of the Evangelical Congregational Church http://www.eccenter.com/

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