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Friday, March 29 2024

Thank God I'm Forgiven! That takes on an extra special significance on this Good Friday. Meditate on that today as you begin your quiet time and worship in Spirit and Truth. Come back to this often today as you remember and worship.

Good Morning Saved-By-Faith, Loved, Forgiven, Redeemed of the Lord! Thank You Jesus! Amen!

Good Friday is always a day where I seem to be extra still, extra thankful, more contemplative as I remember the love of God and the beating and sacrifice of Jesus that my sin caused. Forgive me! Cleanse me! Restore me! Thank You Lord! 

The crushing heaviness is almost overwhelming as I remember and meditate. Then my thoughts go to what the disciples and followers must have been experiencing right now as they have betrayed, denied, run away, hid, were confused and as some stood by and watched Jesus die on that cruel cross. Father, forgive me! Thank You for Your love! Jesus, words cannot covey the heaviness and gratitude of You standing in and dying in my place! I love You! Help me to die to self, take up cross daily and lay down my sin and my life as I follow You. Thank You! Amen! "It is finished"!

I've been sitting here in worship, prayer, meditation and stillness for almost three hours. What blessings we know as we dwell in Christ's loving presence and what blessings we know lie ahead for us who are saved by grace! Amazing love has been poured out in red just for you! Jesus is looking into your heart right now saying, "Come! I did this for you!"

 I am just going to attach our devos for today and give you space to remember and worship today. Thank God I'm Forgiven! What extravagant, lavish, expensive love God has shown you! Meditate on that today and just worship...

Charles Stanley:

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Our Daily Bread:

Jesus, Our Substitute

Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 1 Peter 3:18

READ 1 Peter 3:13–18

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

A wealthy twenty-year-old was drag-racing with his friends when he struck and killed a pedestrian. Although the young man received a three-year prison sentence, some believe that the man who appeared in court (and who subsequently served a prison sentence) was a hired surrogate for the driver who committed the crime. This type of thing has been known to occur in some countries where people hire body doubles to avoid paying for their crimes.

This may sound scandalous and outrageous, but more than two thousand years ago, Jesus became our substitute and “suffered once for [our] sins, the righteous for the unrighteous” (1 Peter 3:18). As God’s sinless sacrifice, Christ suffered and died once and for all (Hebrews 10:10), for all who believe in Him. He took the penalty for all our sins in His own body on the cross. Unlike a person today who chooses to be a substitute for a criminal to get some cash, Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross provided “hope” for us as He freely, willingly gave His life for us (1 Peter 3:15, 18; John 10:15). He did so to bridge the chasm between us and God.

May we rejoice and find comfort and confidence in this profound truth: Only by the substitutionary death of Jesus can we—sinners in need—have a relationship with and complete spiritual access to our loving God.

By Marvin Williams

REFLECT & PRAY

How has Christ’s substitutionary death changed your life? What does it mean for you to have access to God and eternal life because of Jesus' death on the cross?

Dear Jesus, thank You for dying in my place so that I might have access to God.

Learn more about having a personal relationship with God.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

In 1 Peter 3:13-14, the apostle encourages believers in Jesus to “do good,” even if they suffer for it. Believers in Christ aren’t to fear but are to trust in God and be prepared to witness for Him. Peter reminds us that Jesus suffered unjustly and died for our sins, “the righteous for the unrighteous” (v. 18). His was a once-for-all sacrifice. Whoever believes in Him as their Savior and repents of their sins receives His forgiveness. Our salvation doesn’t guarantee we won’t suffer; today’s passage and other Scripture passages tell us something quite different. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (John 15:18); also, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (v. 20). And Paul tells us, “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).

Alyson Kieda

Upper Room: Good Friday

The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” - 1 Corinthians 11:23-24 (NIV)

I awoke on Good Friday thinking of the introduction to our church’s Communion services: “On the night he was betrayed . . .” During Communion and Good Friday services, Christians tend to focus on the physical pain Jesus experienced during his trial and crucifixion, sometimes forgetting the excruciating emotional pain he endured.

For three years, Jesus had loved and taught his disciples. Yet they turned away after his arrest, as did many others who had once applauded him. (See Mk. 14:43–15:15.) Those following Jesus betrayed him for different reasons — Judas disclosed Jesus’ location for 30 pieces of silver; Peter denied him out of fear; the crowd chose instead to release a rebel insurrectionist named Barabbas. Betrayal can come in many forms and for various reasons, but it is always emotionally painful. Those who have experienced betrayal know the deep emotional wounds it causes.

During Communion services, we are reminded of the betrayal Jesus experienced. These services offer us time to think about those who betrayed Jesus and the significance of Jesus’ body and blood being sacrificed for those very people. Jesus’ death reminds us that we are all called to love our betrayers as Jesus loved his.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Lord Jesus, help us to follow your example and extend forgiveness and love toward those who have wounded us emotionally. Amen.The Word for You Today:

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Harvest Prayer Prayer starters:

Prayer Points

  • Praise God as the Creator who makes all things new (Rev. 21:5).
  • Give thanks for his power to bring even the most deadened souls to life in Jesus— including your own (Eph. 2:1-5).
  • Confess those times when you have lost faith in God’s power to renew and restore.
  • Commit yourself to renewing your mind every day in prayer and in reading God’s Word.
  • Ask God to teach you what it means that you are now God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works (2:10).
  • Pray that those who are outside of God’s family may be made new creations in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.
Posted by: AT 12:48 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, March 29 2024
Good Morning Faithful Servants of the Lord! What an awesome, serving, loving, praying, providing congregation and gathering of believers God has blessed us to co-labor with in Emmaus! PTL! and continue to pray for that to grow, flourish and explode around the Lehigh Valley. Yesterday began with another great day of serving and ministering through our bread ministry. So many are feeling God's love as we meet physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. One man who is being drawn by God said, "I have never felt so close to God as I do when I am here." Yes God is living and loving and drawing through us! PTL! God carried me through an amazing day of being used, being loved and of loving through me. The building's spring cleaning should be finished this morning just in time for my vacation next week and will be ready for our festive family worship and celebration of the Resurrection Sun. at 10 with communion. Invite some family, friends and even enemies to come and see and experience the love of God with you.
What a blessing for me and us last evening as we gathered to feast, fellowship, study, pray and enjoy an evening together. God was very present and bringing His Word alive as we looked at the events of this week before the resurrection. Gina and Marie (a new servant that is joining us) offered to and prepared dinner and cleaned up. They relieved me of my duties for the evening and blessed me and us as they took to heart Jesus' command to His disciple after washing their feet to serve as He served and new command to us all to love as He loved us. Thanks ladies! What a blessing! Check out ODB below as it speaks into Jesus' example. Jesus came to seek and save the lost and showed God's kind of love by being a servant leader. I am so thankful for all the servant leaders God has placed in our fellowship for such a time as this! His love is real, growing and being felt by many as it comes alive through us and our servant leaders! Praise God for them and continue to pray for us all to live and love more like Jesus this year. Become more in '24! Amen!
The Upper Room uses one of my life verses, Rom. 12:12, "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer." Here is a whole years worth of stuff to work on to become more like Jesus! Think about how He chose to live this out these last few hours before the crucifixion. "I have given you an example to follow." And the Good News is that He has forgiven, cleansed, equipped, empowered and gifted us to love and follow well. PTL! Live to honor and glorify Him.
TWFYT reminds us of something we've been working on for years now--healthy balance--choosing God-honoring healthy rhythms for our lives. We always work on that healthy balance Jesus exhibited and left as an example for us between UP-IN-OUT relationships. Our congregation and ministries over these years has moved to being pretty balanced at this, even through COVID. Thank you for striving towards this and keeping this in mind as we go and love more like Jesus. We are becoming a dynamic movement of God that is very balanced in our up relationship with the Father, in relationships with each other, and out relationships with those God is sending. We are a pretty healthy church! PTL! But there is always an intentionality needed to keep balanced well. TWFYT reminds us of the balance needed between grace and truth. A balance that Jesus lived well and left as an example. Really love people and help them to become all that they were created to be by showing much love, grace and the patience God shows us while speaking the truth in love. This is again a reminder of the importance of small groups of friends that are working on life in Christ together with permission to speak truth in love to each other, hold feet in the fire with love, and help each other to move towards our fullest potential in Christ well. Who is (are) the partner(s) for you? Jesus' command to love as He loved us is following His examples as He made disciples--loving patiently and helping His friends.
Life lived well in Christ is really all about love. Loving God, self and others well and offering ourselves as a living sacrifice (agape love) that is a pleasing aroma to God to be used for His glory. How can we help each other with that? Jesus commands us and left an example for how to love as He has loved us. How does that look for you and what is your custom part in doing that balanced and well in Christ and as part of His Body? Who is helping you or are you helping? What are you putting into practice? It does take practice to become all you are created to be and to reach your fullest potential. God REALLY loves you! He has great custom plans for you! Rejoice! Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer with some loving friends as a start towards His best for you. Amen! Now where's that towel?
ODB:

A New Command to Love

A new command I give you: Love one another. John 13:34

READ John 13:3–5, 12–15, 31–35

In a tradition starting as early as the thirteenth century, members of the royal family in the United Kingdom give gifts to people in need on Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday. The practice is rooted in the meaning of the word maundy, which comes from the Latin mandatum, “command.” The command being commemorated is the new one that Jesus gave to His friends on the night before He died: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34).

Jesus was a leader who took on the role of a servant as He washed His friends’ feet (v. 5). He then called them to do the same: “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (v. 15). And in an even greater act of sacrifice, He lay down His life, dying on the cross (19:30). Out of mercy and love, He gave Himself that we might enjoy the fullness of life.

The tradition of the British royal family serving people in need continues as a symbol of following Jesus’ great example. We may not have been born into a place of privilege, but when we place our faith in Jesus, we become members of His family. And we too can show our love by living out His new command. As we depend on God’s Spirit to change us from within, we can reach out to others with care, affirmation, and grace.

By Amy Boucher Pye

REFLECT & PRAY

How have you observed or embodied servant leadership? In what ways could you “love one another” today?

My great Savior, what a gift of love You give! Thank You for being the ultimate Servant, laying down Your life for me.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

What does it mean that Jesus gave a “new” command to love (John 13:34)? A command to love was already central in Jewish faith (Leviticus 19:18). But what seems “new” is to love “as I have loved you” (John 13:34). Through Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, the disciples would be given a new example of self-giving love that should shape their lives. But far more than just an example, Jesus would also give them the ability to love this way. Through the gift of Christ’s Spirit, they could experience and share the love Jesus shared with the Father (17:22-24).

Monica La Rose
UR: Our Greatest Hope

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. - Romans 12:12 (NIV)

Learning about all the injustices around us and throughout the world can lead us to question our own humanity. Today specifically I prayed about two serious global situations: the suffering caused by the war in Ukraine and the repressive, brutal treatment women endure in some societies. We live in a time of uncertainty and anguish. Is it possible that we are ignoring completely that each of us was created by the mighty hand of God and for God’s glory?

Stubbornness, lies, and arrogance distract us from God’s divine plan and cause us to overlook the suffering of others. But the Lord is our one true Source, on whom we can rely. And so our greatest hope is to persevere in word and deed — prayer and action — asking God to forgive and renew us by the Holy Spirit so that we may be in harmony with God and in harmony with all God’s people.

TODAY'S PRAYER
Dear God, cause the Holy Spirit to move in us and through us to confront injustices and work to honor you, our rock and our strength. Amen.
TWFYT:
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Here are the devos we use that are available at church and can be oredered on line:
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Don  
Posted by: AT 12:48 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, March 29 2024

Good Morning Reconciled, United, Gifted, Loving Servants of God! Oh yes we are! PTL! And we are growing more fruitful in our pursuit of this salutation. Pray it. Pronounce it in faith over you, our Body and those we partner with in ministry. God hears and answers those prayers and we are seeing the fruit of that bud and grow, even as we serve bread today and gather tonight as His extended Body of believers to eat, fellowship, study and pray. Join us at 6 and bring a friend. We will celebrate communion tonight as well as Sunday.

God awoke me very, very early this morning (1:30) and after laying in bed praising and praying for an hour, I decided to come join Him for some quiet time in my prayer closet. What a beautiful time we have had together! Thanks Lord! A lot is heavy on my heart, as is typical this week before the crucifixion. There is so much to prepare and do as well. I feel like Martin Luther who wrote, "I have so much to do today that I needed to get up three hours early to pray and prepare with the Lord." (My paraphrase) I laid in bed wondering how God will sustain me for what will be about 20 hours? But I know He can and does sometimes. He may allow a nap after my 6 am huddle and before I need to head to church at 9. No matter! He is my Lord and I asked Him to be my Lord and Shepherd today and I know He will work all things together according to His plans and sustain and take care of and use me as well. Thanks Lord Come! Write the rest of this blog too. What do you want to share today with our friends? Come! Amen

The salutation above came from our devos. We are, "Reconciled, United, Gifted, Loving Servants of God!" Amen! I always invite God to write these blogs. I try to order our devos how I think He is threading them together and share some of my journal notes. Today's salutation is not in the order that I had them, but seems to be God's order as He speaks to us. Let's see what He is saying to you.

Let's start with "reconciled" through Charles Stanley's "God's Purpose for Your Life" daily devo for today. (below) This whole week is about God fixing the sin issue Adam and Eve ushered in. We are all born sinners, yet God, who is pure and holy and can have no sin or unrighteousness around Him, created us to be in fellowship with Him forever. So, because He loves us so much (John 3:16-17), He sent His Son, Jesus, to die in our place and atone for our sin and now offers us the opportunity to choose to be washed white as snow in the blood of Jesus and be with Him forever. PTL! Just meditate on that a bit today. What love! No matter how much we fail, mess up or sin, we can receive forgiveness and help to repent and get back on track with God. What Good News!

Really spend some time with the Harvest Prayer Connection blog for today. meditate and pray through it for us as Christ's unified Body. God has called us together and placed us in Emmaus for such a time as this. We all have a part to play in His Good News Delivery Co. All parts matter and are of equal importance even if it doesn't seem it or in spite of if you feel useful or not. You matter. Your were created, gifted and placed here to do your part. Let us pray for, encourage and help each other to God's best for each other and as His Body! Amen!

Our Daily Bread speaks into being a fruitful believer. Check out the Mark Passage we will be discussing tonight. Mark 11:12-20 is about Jesus heading into town during this week and cursing the fruitless fig tree. The fig tree often represented Israel and God's people. Think about the heavy burden Jesus was carrying as He neared the day of the cross. Think about how He wept over Jerusalem because the people had gone astray and wandered from God and His ways. Jesus almost seems angry as He curses the tree. It cuts me to the heart to think that He could look at me or the Body I help lead and see fruitlessness. Pray it is never so. PLEASE! And pray to always produce the fruit you are created to produce--good, abundant, lasting fruit. ODB questions, "What fruit do others see in you?" and "How might you be more fruitful?" We always need to be examining ourselves and our ministries and sowing into and pouring ourselves into what God is doing, as we are created and gifted. You are custom made and gifted and gathered here for such a time as this. May we always keep working at being fruitful and multiplying disciples of Jesus!

Being fruitful and multiplying disciples begins with and is built on love as The Word for You Today reminds us. We are friends and family in Christ commanded to and living out the Greatest Commandments--love God, each other, self and others like Jesus. Amen! Thanks Lord! May we always be known for our love and for sharing your love well. Amen! TWFYT sorta speaks into the importance of small group accountability and deep, knowing-each-other-intimately, love. What kind of friend are you? Jesus is a friend of sinners. PTL! He loves us so much that He can't leave us as we are. He sent His Spirit to us to help us be transformed into His image which includes living and loving more and more like Him. Who knows you deeply and loves you well like Jesus? Who do you know and love like that? Talk to God about becoming more intentional, more earnest at loving like Jesus always as you follow Him with some close friends.

And that leads us to he Upper Room's reminder that we are servants of God. How are you/we doing at that? They use our Eph. 2:10 passage we are using as a cornerstone for our fellowship and growth: "You are God's masterpiece, made new in Christ to do all God has planned for you." (My paraphrase). Embrace and meditate on the UR today. Our Bread and clothing servants come to mind. Thank YOU! You represent God and us well and are a model for how several churches can come together to serve! Jesus is our leader and our goal is to live, love, and serve more like Him. But here's the best part, you all have a part custom made for you, just as you are according to your life circumstances. PTL! Right? The pressure is off. Just be you doing what you are made to do with Jesus help, Holy Spirit gifts and power, according to where you are in life. It's such a sweet spot to be in as you embrace who you are in Christ and don His easy yoke. He has great plans for you today and in the years ahead. He has the same for our Body! PTL! Pray for Him to continue to draw new servants, equip and use us well to build each other up and serve those He is sending. Amen!

We are: Reconciled, United, Gifted, Loving Servants of God! PTL! What's God saying to you today and who are you processing with? He loves you beyond measure and has some amazing things to discover and do today. Rejoice! Worship! Pray! Process well! And don that easy yoke as you follow Jesus! Amen! and shalom!

CS:

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Harvest Prayer's Daily Connection Devotional:

March 27 - Intercede for the Body of Christ

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (Romans 12:4–5) 

How beautiful are the gifts of the Spirit as displayed through the Father’s children! What a treasure we experience every time one of our clay vessels pours forth God’s love in the distinct and personal offering we are privileged to give. The family of God is beautiful! She is black, white, brown, yellow, red—all shades of flesh imaginable. She votes Republican, Democrat, independent—and sometimes refrains from voting at all. She is active and peaceful, boisterous and calm. The body of Christ is alive, diverse and gifted. The unified church is beautifully diverse and eternally powerful. We are, together, his Body, completely different and miraculously united in him. We are one in Jesus. 

Instead of quibbling over our differences, judging our uniqueness and debating our distinctions, let’s join together in gratitude and humility for all Jesus has done and what he will do as we unite together in him and for him. He wants to use us all for his glory. He wants to change the world through the power of our unity and our selfless faith. Join me as we celebrate the diversity of our oneness and pray for more of his power in our unified lives. 

Dear Father, we are grateful that, in your wisdom, you made us in your image with many gifts, abilities and callings. We are forever united in you and purpose to move and breathe as one for the glory of your name. Please help us to see and appreciate the varieties of gifts you have given us. Show us how to honor one another as more important than ourselves, to make room for one another’s gifts and to encourage one another daily. We ask you to help us lay down our preferences and destroy our prejudices so that the world may see you in us. We want to represent you and welcome many into your family. We want to strengthen the weak and celebrate those who are moving in the strength you provide. 

Forgive us for comparison and every type of judgmental measuring. Cleanse us of our need to be right and our desire to win. Help us to lay down our lives for your loved ones and to bear their burdens. We want to see one another through your eyes and hear the longings of our brothers and sisters with your ears. We want to enjoy the diversity you have created and make room for the various expressions of your beauty. Make us one as you and the Father are one, Lord Jesus. Fill us with your Holy Spirit and overwhelm us with love for our God-family as we pursue you together. 

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

ODB:

Fruitful Believers in Christ

Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. Mark 11:13

READ Mark 11:12–20

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

Cindy was excited for her new job in a nonprofit company. What an opportunity to make a difference! She soon discovered her coworkers didn’t share her enthusiasm. They mocked the company’s mission and made excuses for their poor performance as they looked elsewhere for more lucrative positions. Cindy wished she’d never applied for this job. What looked great from afar was disappointing up close.

This was Jesus’ problem with the fig tree mentioned in today’s story (Mark 11:13). It was early in the season, yet the tree’s leaves signaled it might have early figs. Nope. The tree had sprouted leaves, but it hadn’t yet produced fruit. Disappointed, Jesus cursed the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again” (v. 14). By the next morning the tree had entirely withered (v. 20).

Christ once fasted forty days, so He knew how to go without food. Cursing the fig tree was not about His appetite. It was an object lesson. The tree represented Israel, which had the trappings of true religion but had lost the point. They were about to kill their Messiah, the Son of God. How more barren could they be?

We may look good from afar, but Jesus comes near, looking for fruit that only His Spirit can produce. Our fruit need not be spectacular. But it must be supernatural, such as love, joy, and peace in hard times (Galatians 5:22). Relying on the Spirit, we can bear fruit even then for Jesus.

By Mike Wittmer

REFLECT & PRAY

What fruit do others see in you? How might you be more fruitful?

Holy Spirit, prune me so I might bear more fruit.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

The barren and withered fig tree, representing an unfaithful nation soon to be overrun by its enemies, is a common Old Testament image (Isaiah 28:4; 34:4; Jeremiah 8:13; Hosea 2:12; Joel 1:7, 12; Amos 4:9; Nahum 3:12; Habakkuk 3:17). Quite often, the center of Israel’s faithlessness was its abuse of the temple services, and the prophets used a withered fig tree as a warning of the temple’s destruction. In fact, the passage quoted in Mark 11:17 is just such a text. Jesus quotes the prophet Jeremiah who condemns Judah for hypocritically thinking that temple attendance would expunge the guilt of her idolatry (see Jeremiah 7:2–4, 8, 11).

Adapted from Moving Mountains: The Practice of Persistent Prayer.

Moving Mountains

The Bible says a lot about the need for persistence and faith in prayer, and that God hears and answers prayers ...

TWFYT:

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UR: A Servant of God

We are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we may walk in them. - Ephesians 2:10 (NRSVUE)

I spent many years as a volunteer for a local food program. Each day, we delivered hot meals to folks who were unable to leave home to get their own food. We got to know the people we delivered to quite well, and we always arranged our schedule so that we could spend a few minutes visiting with each person.

One day, a woman to whom I was delivering food told me, “You are truly a servant of God.” I was stunned. I had considered myself a volunteer and nothing more. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was doing what the Lord asked his followers to do — spending time serving others.

There are many ways to serve God. We help make our world a better place when we live God’s words and do God’s work. Not only do we transform the lives of others but we transform our own lives as well. People often strive to serve and imitate good leaders, and in the Lord we have the best leader of all. We should always try to serve the Lord well.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Dear God, thank you for equipping us and using us to build up others. Guide us to imitate you in all that we do. Amen.

Posted by: AT 12:47 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, March 26 2024

Happenings:

Zoom Blog at 10 today. All welcome

Family Ministry/Adult Huddle with dinner 6pm tomorrow. All welcome as we discuss the events of this week and receive the Lord's Supper together.

Sun 10 am Festive Resurrection Sunday Family Worship with Communion. Live and on Zoom. Bring some friends! Come as you are!

Good Morning Fiends of Jesus! How's that relationship going? Are you working on really connecting to Him and enjoying hanging out? It is the most blessed place to sit at His feet. Make some time for that as a daily priority. He wants to be your friend and to hang out with you all the time!

Our devos today are kinda all over the place. I'll allow you to use whatever you use for your own personal time with Jesus today. Maybe you even finished already and are about your daily routine. Don't forget to include your Friend in all you do today and watch for where he wants you to join Him. ODB reminds us of the basics of knowing Scripture and spending time with Jesus as we work on growing in faith and like Him. The UR reminds us that He is with us all the time. He promises to never leave nor forsake you! Amen! Contemplate the Harvest Prayer blog as you finish your quiet time in prayer. Shalom!

ODB:

Missing the Basics

You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. Matthew 22:29

READ Matthew 22:23–33

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

For decades, McDonald’s ruled fast food with their Quarter Pounder burger. In the 1980s, a rival chain cooked up an idea to dethrone the company with the golden arches. A&W offered the Third Pound Burger—larger than McDonald’s—and sold it for the same price. Even more, A&W’s burger won numerous blind taste tests. But the burger bombed. Nobody bought it. Eventually, they dropped it from the menu. Research revealed that consumers misunderstood the math and thought the Third Pound Burger was smaller than the Quarter Pounder. A grand idea failed because people missed the basics.

Jesus warned of how easy it is to miss the basics. Religious leaders, scheming to trap and discredit Him during the week He was crucified, posed a strange, hypothetical scenario about a woman who was widowed seven times (Matthew 22:23–28). Jesus responded, insisting that this knotty dilemma wasn’t a problem at all. Rather, their problem was how they didn’t “know the Scriptures or the power of God” (v. 29). The Scriptures, Jesus insisted, aren’t first intended to answer logical or philosophical puzzles. Rather, their primary aim is to lead us to know and love Jesus and to “have eternal life” in Him (John 5:39). These are the basics the leaders missed.

We often miss the basics too. The Bible’s main aim is an encounter with the living Jesus. It would be heartbreaking to miss it.

By Winn Collier

REFLECT & PRAY

How do you miss Scripture’s basics? How can you return to the basics . . . to Jesus?

Dear God, sometimes I get lost even amid good things. Please help me.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Matthew 22 contains one of the many examples in the Gospels of a “shame/honor contest.” Much of the Eastern world today is still rooted in the concept of shame and honor because those cultures are more defined by community expectations than by individual rights. In Western culture, however, the individual is more prominent. In a shame/honor contest, the goal is to take honor from someone and bring shame on them. This requires an audience—the community.

In Matthew 22, the religious leaders attack Jesus in front of the crowds with a series of questions intended to dishonor Him in the eyes of the people (v. 15). Christ answers with irrefutable wisdom, and the religious leaders fail in their attempts to shame Him.

Bill Crowder

UR: God Goes with You

Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. - Deuteronomy 31:6 (NRSVUE)

“Where did all the days go?” I wondered aloud as I stared at my planner. As a soon-to-be mom with only a month left before my expected due date, I was growing more anxious each day. I had so many things I had not yet prepared. Our finances were tight, which made me all the more intimidated about our new responsibilities and our future hospital bill. On top of that, I had never taken care of a baby before. An incredible sense of insecurity and helplessness crept into my heart. I felt overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy.

My husband heard my question and came to me. He embraced me and patted my back to comfort me. He read something from my planner that I had written a few weeks back: “Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.”

I have known this verse for so long that at times I have felt extremely casual toward it. However, in that moment of great fear, it consoled me. It was as if my heavenly Father had come to hold me and remind me in that exact moment: “I go with you.” I no longer needed to live in dread of my insecurities.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Loving Father, thank you that you will never leave us or forsake us. Help us to live in this truth daily. Amen.Harvest Prayer Blog:

March 26 - Give God Your Undivided Attention

For those who have come by faith, Christ—through His death and resurrection—has taken us by the hand and walked us into the Throne Room. God is on one side, we are on the other, and Jesus has introduced us to the Father. We once were at war with the One on the throne, but now we have “peace facing God!” What a glorious privilege! What an unspeakable honor!

Pause as you enter and look around. As you gaze throughout the Throne Room you will see Christ seated at the right hand of the Father and you will notice that He “always lives to make intercession” for His children. Angels hover around the throne. Praise is unending. Let the wonder of this environment overwhelm you. Your heart will begin to be filled with worship.

As you have entered, begin to pray. Filled with this vision, you will probably not rattle off meaningless rituals. You are going to “close the door and pray TO YOUR FATHER.” There is a singular direction. You are not praying to others. Your whole vision is filled with the Almighty. You are directing your prayers to the One who is seated upon the Throne!

Rosalind Rinker said, “I have discovered that prayer’s real purpose is to put God at the center of our attention and forget ourselves and the impression we are making.” This posture changes everything for us in prayer. We are looking at Him, and Him alone. Everything else pales in comparison to this vision.

If we will enter in like this, giving God our undivided attention, the greatest reward will be God Himself.
 
Father, my heart is filled with worship as I consider what Your throne room must be like in reality. I don’t have to wait until the end of my life to experience some of what Your word says is truly taking place right now in heaven. Help me to focus on the lovely description of the place where I will spend all of eternity! I can’t even comprehend the beauty of it! For the rest of my life, my deepest desire is to be in Your presence!

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

Prayer Points

  • Praise God, who is perfect in beauty and holiness (Ps. 50:2).
  • Thank him for making everything beautiful in its time (Eccl. 3:11), including your own life.
  • Confess those times during this past week when your words or actions did not reflect to others the beauty of Christ.
  • Commit yourself to being transformed into his likeness (2 Cor. 3:18).
  • Ask God daily to change the ugliness of sin in your life to his loveliness.
  • Pray that the spirit of worship may fall upon all who enter your church’s sanctuary on Sunday, that they may desire “to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple” (Ps. 27:4).
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.

Kim's Blog:

8 Scriptural Prayer Practices to Engage God

By Kim Butts

Over the past several years, God has been stretching my creativity and my imagination in prayer. It has been such a refreshing season of growth for me, as I am one who, in the past, tended to get stuck in comfortable ruts.Like many of us, I grew up praying with my head bowed, eyes closed and hands folded in my lap. I was often told that this posture came about as an effective way to keep children from doing what they shouldn’t  do during prayer time. The practice continued into my adulthood, as I was never taught another way. Even in worship services, it is common to hear the admonition to “close your eyes and bow your heads” as we are led in prayer.

As I studied the Bible, I discovered multiple examples for utilizing our bodies and our voices in prayer. This started a rich practice of utilizing the numerous ways God’s people in Scripture and throughout the ages sought and responded to Him in prayer and intercession.

I highly recommend letting the Holy Spirit speak to your heart and guide you (and/or your family, small group, etc.) into what may seem unusual or strange to you at first, but which may give your prayer lives fresh life! Following each, I will give you one or two suggestions for utilizing the practice.

1. Bowing Your Head or Body

Bowing heads or bodies shows reverence and submission to God as an act of worship– Genesis 24:26-27 (Abraham’s servant bowed low in worship to God when his very specific prayer had been answered); Exodus 34:8-9 (Moses bowed his body toward the earth and made his request before God).

Consider putting on some worship music and bowing before the Lord as an act of reverence before Him. Consider a prayer request that is close to your heart and offer it to God in this posture. See if this position brings your prayer to a different level as you consider the God on the other end of your prayer.

2. Kneel

Kneeling has always been a universal sign of submission and obedience – Daniel 6:10 (Daniel knelt three times a day, praying and giving thanks); Luke 22:39-44; Matthew 15:25; 2 Chronicles 6:12-14.

Pray for your unsaved family and friends as you kneel before the Lord. If you feel led to, spread your hands toward heaven, as King Solomon did.

3. Raise Hands

Raising or spreading out our hands as a sign of both praise and petition – (The Hebrews used their hands to show their dependence upon God and their respect for Him. Lifting up holy hands was the common prayer posture among the Jews and the early Christians. Lifting their hands symbolized an expectant attitude and trust in God–that He would fill their empty hands with His blessings) Exodus 9:29; Exodus 17:10-13; 1 Kings 8:54-55; Psalm 63:4; Psalm 141:2; 1 Timothy 2:8.

Pray for the leaders of your nation, your state, and your community. Lift up holy hands as you do. Pray that God will give them wisdom and discernment. Pray for their health and protection. Pray for their families.

4. Stand

Standing is a sign of reverence and respect – 1 Chronicles 23:28-31 (The Levites were instructed to stand every morning and evening to praise the Lord); 2 Chronicles 20:2-9; Luke 18:9-14.

Stand alone or with others and give praise to God. Take turns thanking Him for all of the blessings He has brought into your lives. If you want, say short sentence prayers like this: “Lord, I praise You for_____.”

5. Lie Prostrate

Lying prostrate before the Lord – This is a position taken in times of deep, intense, emotional prayer. There is no more humble position than this one. Deuteronomy 9:18-20, 25-27 (Moses lay prostrate before God for 40 days and nights); 1 Chronicles 21:16-17; Matthew 26:39.

Think of some deeply important needs–your own or someone else’s. Perhaps someone is struggling with a life-threatening disease or some kind of life crisis. Perhaps sin has been weighing you down–this would be an appropriate position in which to confess and ask the Lord for forgiveness. Or maybe you need to ask God something very important. Come before the Lord on behalf of these requests, and lie face down before the Lord. You can pray quietly by yourself or pray out loud with others.

6. Look Up

Looking up – (Jesus looked up when He gave thanks for the loaves and fish) Mark 6:39-44.

As you give thanks for a meal, look up to heaven as you do. Spend time thanking the Lord for the way He has provided everything you need–your food, your clothing, your housing. Look toward heaven when you pray.

7. Pray Quietly

Spend some time praying quietly. – 1 Samuel 1:9-18 (Hannah prayed quietly before the Lord).

God is perfectly capable of hearing our thoughts when we pray silently. There are times when praying in this way is very appropriate. We need to learn as an individual or a family to be comfortable with silence, because out of silence the Lord often speaks very clearly.

Spend some time in silent prayer. Ask the Father to speak to your heart. If you have trouble concentrating, picture Jesus in your mind and concentrate on Him.

8. Shout

Shout your praise to the Lord – Psalm 66:1-4 (The director of music was directed to shout for joy before the Lord in this psalm.) Psalms 71:23; 95:1; 98:4-6. It is certainly appropriate to cry out to the Lord in times of desperate prayer. It is also appropriate to raise our voices in praise!

Try praising God in a loud voice, saying Acts 4:24: “Sovereign Lord . . . You made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.”

Conclusion

It is important to learn that if we seek the Lord, He will be found by us (1 Chronicles 28:9). It is also important to know that our Heavenly Father rewards those who seek Him in faith: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). Model this passage: “Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. Look to the LORD and His strength; seek His face always” (1 Chronicles 16:10-11).

–Kim Butts is the co-founder of Harvest Prayer Ministries.

Posted by: AT 10:52 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, March 26 2024
Good Morning Friends in Christ--Brothers and Sisters in the Lord! I am so thankful for you and our relationships and even our co-laboring! God has sure blessed us and our Body! Yesterday, we received 6 new members who are already serving with us. PTL! There are some others already waiting to join when we do it again at the end of April. We fellowshipped and connected to 70 during brunch after worship too! What a great day of food, fun, fellowship and worship! Thanks to all who cooked, served, worshiped, and joined us! Invite some friends to Resurrection Sunday worship and communion this Sunday! We are gathered by God together and sent to love like Jesus together for such a time as this! PTL! He has great plans for us and will continue to guide and provide as we continue to walk and grow in faith into our fuller potential in Christ! PTL and keep praying into that! God is on the move! Hallelujah! Jesus has invited and commanded us to "Follow Me". Continue to do so, by His grace, always! Amen!
This morning, God took me on two tracks that sort of thread together from our devotionals and my quiet time. God has a Word for some of you today, maybe all of us! Yesterday we discussed continuing to accept Jesus' invite and follow His command to "Follow Me" even through the most confusing and hardest of times. Can we even imagine what it was like for the thick headed, slow learning disciples (as Jesus described them) during this week before the resurrection? Many of us have been through or are traveling through some very hard and confusing times as well. What's it like to trust God one step, one baby step, maybe one crawl, at a time in faith as we choose to continue to follow Jesus always? Maybe you can't even move right now as all the wind in your sails is gone and all the breath sucked out of you in despair and grief? Be still and know is all I have to offer you right now. I am here if you need someone to sit with you awhile and I am praying. Who might God be sending you to strengthen and walk with--maybe carry a few steps in prayer and help? Jesus prayed for Peter because Satan wanted to sift him and the others and did so. Jesus told Peter that He prayed for him and for when he came back to faith to strengthen his brothers. Peter ran away after denying Jesus, but came back, gathered his brothers and was restored by Jesus and then helped his brothers to walk by faith again. We can do that too, even after the most horrible failures. BUT, we need to get out of our heads, out of what the world is telling us, tell Satan to get lost, still ourselves, return to God and fill our minds with His Word and wisdom. Then you need to be open to receive His restoration. And we will probably need to accept some strengthen help of some of our brothers and sisters. Jesus is standing on the shore with open arms calling to you to come.
I began my quiet time with a new study I am doing from season one of the Chosen. WOW! Get used to different for sure! Check out this song from yesterday. The Jesus Way:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wfm5_CVOKLs
Will you trust and follow always and choose to walk in the Jesus way always? Talk to God about that! Worship in the storms. Get out those gratitude lists, refocus and choose well. I'm praying for you, my friends. I'm here if you need to talk.
The Chosen season one begins with Mary Magdalene being delivered from demons processing her. Jesus calls her, as He does with you, by name. He knows you and everything about you. He formed you in the womb. He is ready to deliver you. Come! They use Isaiah 43 in a flashback to Mary's childhood as her dad teaches and loves on her before he suddenly dies while she's a little girl. She clung to that verse, even through all the wondering and wandering from God. Jesus spoke it over her. Is He speaking this to your heart today? From Isiah 43: "Thus says the Lord your God. 
He who created you...
He who formed you...
'Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name,
you are mine...
I will be with you...
For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, Your Savior." I say, AMEN!
Meditate on this. Memorize it! This is your true identity in Christ! Redeemed, restored, cared for, loved created child of God! You belong to God! He knows you and calls you by name. He is making a way to your deliverance. You are precious to Him and you matter. Be still and know! Fear not! Come to Him right now! He's there! Can you sense His loving presence? Can you feel His loving, healing, delivering embrace?
Turn off the noise around you and in your head. Tell Satan to beat it. Listen for that whisper..."Come all you who are weary and I will give rest to your souls. Follow Me." Amen! 
Who is this man, Jesus to you? Your answer changes everything! Check out Charles Stanly's and The Word for You Today devos speaking into this. God forgives and restores. Walk by faith always! And then contemplate Our Daily Bread and Upper Room devos showing a way to help get out of the pit...serving, loving like God, using your gifts, just as you are, where you are. God loves you so much you cannot measure how much. He is with you always, loving on you and wanting to take your hand in restoration and wants to help you. Will you trust and follow always?
"Thus says the Lord your God. 
He who created you...
He who formed you...
'Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name,
you are mine...
I will be with you...
For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, Your Savior." I say,
CS:
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TWFYT:
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ODB:

Love God by Loving Others

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. Matthew 25:40

READ Matthew 25:31–40

The Alba family experienced the rare occurrence of birthing two sets of identical twins just thirteen months apart. How did they juggle their parental responsibilities as well as their jobs? Their community of friends and family stepped in. Grandparents on both sides took a set of twins during the day so the parents could work and pay for health insurance. One company gave a year’s supply of diapers. The couple’s coworkers donated their personal sick days. “We couldn’t have done it without our community,” they agreed. In fact, during a live interview, the cohost removed her mic and ran after one renegade toddler, continuing the communal investment!

In Matthew 25:31–46, Jesus tells a parable to make the point that when we serve others, we serve God. After listing acts of service, including providing food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, lodging for the homeless, clothes for the naked, and healing for the sick (vv. 35–36), Jesus concludes, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (v. 40).

Imagining Jesus as the ultimate recipient of our kindness is true motivation to serve in our neighborhoods, families, churches, and world. When He prompts us to sacrificially invest in the needs of others, we serve Him. When we love others, we love God.

By Elisa Morgan

REFLECT & PRAY

How might you serve Jesus in your community today? How can you love God by loving others in your path?

Loving God, please open my eyes to the needs of others around me so I can help meet them and love You better.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

In the parable typically referred to as “the sheep and the goats,” Jesus describes separating people when He returns as one would separate “the sheep from the goats” (Matthew 25:32). The two groups are separated based on their care of others. The group identified as “righteous” (v. 37) and the other group both address Jesus as “Lord” (vv. 37, 44). This would have reminded hearers of Christ’s words in Matthew 7:21—that “not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

Monica La Rose
UR: Using Your Gifts

In Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas. She was devoted to good works and acts of charity. - Acts 9:36 (NRSVUE)

When my mother passed away, I inherited her sewing basket, filled to the brim with thread, needles, and every conceivable sewing accessory. I was pleased to have this keepsake, but I cannot sew a stitch! I have always admired individuals who possess sewing skills, those like Dorcas, whose story of generosity is recorded in Acts.

Dorcas was not only talented at sewing, but she unselfishly shared the garments she made with friends. In fact, Dorcas was so admired for her generosity that the apostle Peter immediately left the nearby city where he was ministering to come to Dorcas’s house when he heard that she had died. There several widows proudly showed Peter the clothing Dorcas had sewn for them. When Peter brought Dorcas back to life, Acts records that many people came to believe in the Lord.

I cannot help but believe that many came to know Jesus as Savior through the gift of Dorcas’s sewing. While I am not a seamstress, I have other gifts I can use to share the love of Christ. We all have gifts that we can use to help others to know Jesus.

TODAY'S PRAYER
Dear Lord, help us to use our gifts to do good and to help those in need. Amen.
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Tuesday, March 26 2024

Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna!

Worship at 10 with Children's Church followed by brunch. All welcome!!!

(Wagner's update below)

Good Morning Worshiping, Trusting, Followers of Jesus! Who is this man to you? How has following Him changed your life? Will you follow Him always, even through the promised hard times? We will discuss today the examples and lessons of the disciples of Jesus this crazy, up-and-down week and beyond of trusting and following Jesus always. Come and see! Shout hosanna with welcoming, trusting always hearts! Hosanna! Get those palm branches ready!

Check out our devos below describing following our King always. He came lowly on the colt of a donkey but will come back on a mighty war horse. He's always doing the unexpected and the followers are about to experience the craziness and confusion of their King, the Messiah, doing very unexpected things--things beyond the imagination or wheel house of all who were gathered in Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. Our Passover Lamb has come. Hosanna! The time is right. the History of the universe was about to be changed forever. Come and see! Will you trust and follow Him always?

UR: Palm Sunday

They took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord — the King of Israel!” - John 12:13 (NRSVUE)

Soon after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, a crowd of excited people followed him to Jerusalem. As Jesus rode in on a donkey, I wonder if Lazarus walked along with the crowd, waving palm branches to signify that Jesus was a great deliverer. I imagine that first Palm Sunday would have been personal for Lazarus as he walked with and worshiped his friend and hero who had just given him new life.

Easter is my favorite holiday because it reminds me of how I once moved from death to life. When I first prayed asking Jesus to forgive my sins and come into my life, I had a momentary sensation of warm oil pouring over my head. I felt inner peace, as if I had just walked out of a tomb, and I began to hunger for more, reading scripture as if it were God’s personal letter to me.

We all can welcome Jesus’ entry into our lives every day. He is our Lord and Savior, our personal deliverer, who conquered death and called each of us out of a tomb. We can trust in him each day to deliver us, bring peace to our minds, and lead us to an abundant life.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Dear Jesus, we welcome you into our lives today. Thank you for giving us victory over sin and death. Amen.

ODB:

Renaissance in Jesus

Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. John 12:24

READ John 12:23–26

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

We know Leonardo da Vinci as the renaissance man. His intellectual prowess led to advances across multiple fields of study and the arts. Yet Leonardo journaled of “these miserable days of ours” and lamented that we die “without leaving behind any memory of ourselves in the mind of men.”

“While I thought I was learning how to live,” said Leonardo, “I was learning how to die.” He was closer to the truth than he may have realized. Learning how to die is the way to life. After Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (what we now celebrate as Palm Sunday; see John 12:12–19), He said, “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (v. 24). He spoke this about His own death but expanded it to include us all: “Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (v. 25).

The apostle Paul wrote of being “buried” with Christ “through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Romans 6:4–5).

Through His death, Jesus offers us rebirth—the very meaning of renaissance. He has forged the way to eternal life with His Father.

By Tim Gustafson

REFLECT & PRAY

How do you measure the value of your life? How might you need to change those values?

Dear Father, I can find meaning and purpose nowhere else but in You.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

In the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), Jesus predicted His death at least three times. The first prediction followed Peter’s declaration of Jesus as the Messiah (reported in Matthew 16:21-23; Mark 8:31-32; Luke 9:21-22). The second and third instances are found in Matthew 17:22-23; 20:17-19; Mark 9:30-32; 10:32-34; and Luke 9:43-45; 18:31-34. These gospels all record Christ explicitly saying that He would die at the hand of the teachers of the law and would rise three days later.

The predictions in John’s gospel, however, are more subtle (12:7-8; 13:33; 14:25-29). In John 12:23-36, Christ’s death is predicted in somewhat poetic language. Jesus said that “the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (v. 23) and that seeds need to die to produce more grain (v. 24). Each of the gospel writers recorded their stories for a deliberate purpose and to serve an intentional end.

JR Hudberg

Chas. Stanley:

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Harvest Prayer Blog and prayer starters:

March 24 - God Waits for Those Who Will Listen

God is talking all the time. He is not silent, but there are few who get quiet enough to hear Him. There are few who listen.

All around you right now are radio waves filled with music and talk. They are loud and incessant, but you walk through your day, blissfully ignorant of their presence. If, though, you turn on a radio receiver and dial into the right channel, you will immediately realize that this communication has been going on all along. It was there, waiting for you.

God is here. You can leave the receiver dialed to Him constantly and hear the dialogue of His love, encouragement, and direction. To go there means you must lay down other voices and distractions and give Him your attention. You must tune away from every idol and loud, competing voice. He is here, but He will not be heard if you do not refuse the noise around you. (This is one of the great values of fasting from the incessant voices of the world. Your soul is humbled and quieted by a refusal of the world’s noise. In the quietness, God can be heard in exquisite ways.)

You must do whatever is necessary to listen for His voice. And, it must be highly intentional, fueled by a deep understanding of your spiritual poverty and need. You must pray, not just with a bowed head or bended knee, but with a heart that is gladly tuned to Him throughout every moment of the common day. You must realize that prayer is not a part of the Christ-life, it is the Christ-life, and you must sacrifice everything to still each competing voice.

If you do, you will find the sweetest, most intimate words that a human can experience. You will be surprised at its refreshment and joy. Amazed at its consistency. Stunned that it is so personal. Awed by how perfectly God knows exactly what you need to hear, every second of the day.  And, you will wonder why you have waited so long to pray without ceasing.

Loving Father, how I long to hear Your voice! Teach me to listen with attentiveness and a deep desire! May I bow my heart before You and seek You consistently and continually! Help me to persevere in prayer…to expectantly wait for You! Show me how to quiet my soul and spend time in stillness. Teach me to long for all that You are and to joyously wake in the morning with eager expectation. May the last voice I hear as I close my eyes at night be Yours!

---Adapted from Prayer with No Intermission by Bill Elliff. This book is available at prayershop.org.

Prayer Points

  • Praise God because he is the encourager and comforter of his people.
  • Give thanks that God loved you and by his grace gave you eternal encouragement and good hope (2 Thess. 2:16).
  • Ask forgiveness for all those times when fear and anxiety replace the courage that God gives.
  • Commit yourself to seeking God’s encouragement to face every obstacle in your life.
  • Ask God to encourage your heart and strengthen you in every good deed and word (2:17).
  • Pray for special encouragement for teachers as they educate. Pray that parents will be supportive of teachers who seek what is best for students.
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.

Wagner's update:

Greetings Friends, 

We’re thankful for your prayers which filled our hearts with peace and encouragement going into Brian’s heart repair on Thursday. The procedure went smoothly without complications even though the hole was larger than anticipated. Give thanks to God with us for His protection over Brian’s health over so many years as we were completely unaware of this defect. Brian is feeling great with little to no discomfort from the procedure. His resting heart rate is no longer registering low when sitting and is remaining steady. This is what originally prompted questions at his routine physical back in November. Brian will have several follow-up appointments over the next months. We’d be grateful for your continued prayers.

“O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name!” I Chronicles 29:13

RVA Staffing Update:
The choice to serve at RVA, is the choice to serve strategically as a teacher, dorm parent, nurse, maintenance supervisor, administrator, office staff, and more(!), enabling missionaries to make Christ known among Africa’s remaining unreached peoples, knowing their children are being taught and discipled well.

There are still a few critical needs for the 2024-2025 school year.

DormsHigh School girls (G9/10), High School boys (G9/10), Elementary girls (G5/6)

Teachers:Elementary teachers (G4 and G5), Academic Support Coordinator, Spanish teacher, PE teacher
 
Other: HS Principal, Elementary Principal, College & Career Coordinator, Student Travel, Child Safety team member

Learn more here:
https://us.aimint.org/serve/rva
Check out our website for previous updates and more resources, including our upcoming travel schedule. We would love to connect. 

Thanks for your prayers!
We appreciate YOU!

Brian & Missy
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Tuesday, March 26 2024

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday worship at 10 am live in person and on Zoom. We will receive new members during this service (Don't for get your rocks!). After worship, join us for brunch in the Fellowship Hall! All welcome! Invite a friend!

Good Morning Peace-Bringing, Extravagant-Loving, Powerful Disciples and Apostles of Jesus! That is our Church and that flows from prayer, relationship, time in God's, and processing with teammates. Pronounce this salutation over you and us in prayer and out loud. We are students and sent ones of Jesus. We are sent to incarnate, bring alive, and distribute His peace, love, Good News, hope and help and we are doing so already! PTL! And He has so much more for us as we learn, discern and follow Him! Pray into that! What's your part, distributor? Where does He want to use you as you go about your daily routine? Where has He sent you to be more intentional in your distributing? How does He want to bring to you and then incarnate through you His peace, love, and Good News? He is our power source and He has some great things ahead for you and us today and this year as we earnestly seek to become more in '24 and be used more powerfully. Amen!

Check out our devos below and process them with God and some friends and then go and live and love more like Jesus today! He is with you! Amen! Invite Him to be your Lord today.

Harvest Prayer Blog:

March 23 - Let Your Peace Come

If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. (Matthew 10:13)

Jesus had peace within him. He could not only speak of peace, but could offer it to others. And in a wonderful transference, he gave that ability to his followers. When the peace of Christ becomes a living reality within us, we not only speak of it, but we offer it to others. In practical ways that means we pray God’s peace for others, we model living in peace in front of others, and we offer the good news of the Prince of Peace to those who do not know him. When we do this, we become distributors of the peace of God!

One very practical and historical way of doing this, and of regularly reminding ourselves that we can indeed give peace, is the “passing of peace” during a worship service. I did not grow up in a church tradition where this was practiced, but I find it to be a helpful way of speaking peace into others’ lives and receiving peace from others.

The following excerpt gives some insight into this ancient and modern practice:

“Christian worship is filled with profound actions: heads bowed in prayer, arms raised in praise, standing in reverence during a Scripture reading, coming forward to give an offering. One ancient and significant gesture in worship is the passing of the peace. Passing the peace is a tradition rooted in Scripture that embodies our identity as peacemakers (Matt. 5:9; 2 Cor. 5:20) and trains ours hearts, hands, and tongues in the ways of peace.

From the beginning Christians have exercised this practice. Peace be with you’ is a greeting Jesus himself used with his disciples (Luke 24:36; John 20:19, 26). The apostle Paul opened each of his letters with the words “Grace and peace be with you” (Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:3; 2 Cor. 1:2).

Today in many congregations, we may pass the peace during a mutual greeting, after words of assurance, prior to celebrating the Lord’s Supper, or at the conclusion of a worship service. At these times we leave the comfort of our seat, turn to our neighbors, grasp their hands, and speak the words, ‘The peace of the Lord be with you’ and receive the words in turn, ‘And also with you.’
The gesture is simple, but the meaning is profound. When we extend our hand to another, we identify with Jesus, who extended his life to the point of death to make peace with humanity (Col. 1:20-21).

What’s more, in the midst of divisions, we symbolize our unity through handshakes and hugs (Eph. 2:14-21). Likewise, when we regularly pass the peace, we practice God’s call to make every effort to maintain the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3).”

—from ReformedWorship.org, Issue 99, March 2011

Whether you choose to “pass the peace” in worship gatherings or not, we all need to accept our role as those who are emissaries of the Prince of Peace. We live out his peace in our lives. We look for ways to give his peace to others. We learn to shout with the angels outside of Bethlehem long ago, “on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14).

Choose today to whom you will give the peace of Christ. Ask the Lord to open the door for you to do so.

Lord, thank you for giving me your peace. You literally spoke it into being in my life and I am so grateful. Help me to carry your peace with me wherever I go. Forgive me when I have failed and instead brought division and dissension. Show me how I can give your peace to those around me today.

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

ODB:

Extravagant Love

Live such good lives . . . [that] they may see your good deeds and glorify God. 1 Peter 2:12

READ 1 Peter 2:11–12

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My seatmate on the flight told me she was nonreligious and had immigrated to a town that was home to numerous Christians. When she mentioned that most of her neighbors went to church, I asked about her experience. She said she could never repay their generosity. When she brought her disabled father to her new country, her neighbors built a ramp to her house and donated a hospital bed and medical supplies. She said, “If being a Christian makes one so kind, everyone should be a Christian.”

Exactly what Jesus hoped she’d say! He told His disciples, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Peter heard Christ’s command and passed it on: “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God” (1 Peter 2:12).

Our neighbors who don’t have faith in Jesus may not understand what we believe and why we believe it. Don’t sweat it, as long as there’s one more thing they can’t understand: the extravagance of our love. My seatmate marveled that her Christian neighbors continue to care for her even though she isn’t, in her words, “one of them.” She knows she’s loved, for Jesus’ sake, and she gives thanks to God. She may not yet believe in Him, but she’s grateful that others do.

By Mike Wittmer

REFLECT & PRAY

Who do you know who needs Jesus? How can you love them for His sake?

Heavenly Father, let Your light shine through me.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

In the books of 1 and 2 Peter, the apostle Peter writes to comfort and encourage Jewish believers in Jesus “who are living as foreigners” (1 Peter 1:1 nlt)—known as the Jewish diaspora—throughout Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) and are now facing persecution because of their faith in Christ (vv. 1, 6). As a disciple of Jesus, Peter understood, for he too was persecuted and even jailed three times for sharing the gospel. The apostle most likely wrote his letters around ad 62-65 from Rome, where it’s believed he was martyred during Emperor Nero’s rule. At this time in the Roman Empire, Nero initiated a great persecution of believers in Jesus who were tortured and killed for their faith. Peter wrote to encourage believers in Jesus to live in such a way that nonbelievers would be drawn to Him—with lives characterized by good deeds, even though they were far from home and in difficult circumstances (2:12).

Alyson Kieda

UR: Our Source of Power

The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. - Matthew 4:16 (NIV)

It is six o’clock on a cold winter morning, and I am in darkness. The power will be off for more than two hours, as our national power grid is no longer sufficient to supply the needs of our population. To eke out and share the available power, we have rotational power outages known as “rolling blackouts” or “load-shedding.”

But the world outside is not completely dark. In the street, the bright lights of cars move boldly through the darkness. These vehicles carry within themselves a power source that constantly regenerates.

I liken these vehicles to faithful Christians, who relentlessly move forward in an often dark world. When the power of the world is no longer sufficient to sustain us, we have a continuous and never-failing power source available to us — the light of Christ. We carry Christ’s love within ourselves and regenerate it through studying scripture, worshiping, and loving others even as we move forward in the darkness.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Source of Light, we praise you and thank you for all the beacons that you place along our path to direct us and lead us to your never-failing light and love. Amen.TWFYT:

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Tuesday, March 26 2024
It's Thank God I'm Forgiven Friday! What are you tankful for today? As we approach Holy Week and as I completed homebound communion visits, Jesus' sacrifice for me, for you, for all who will come to Him in faith is very much on the forefront of my thinking, praising and quiet time. Spend some time contemplating the cross, your forgiveness, God's sacrifice, and your hope as you lift some praise today. Lifting praise and thanksgiving helps to redirect our thinking and renew our minds as well. PTL for that and keep building those gratitude lists and keep them handy.
Good Morning Very Loved, Forgiven, Adopted, Made New in Christ, Gifted, Empowered, Sent, Heirs of the Throne of the Most High God! The King of the Universe created you in love to go love like Him and He is with you always and wants to be with you for eternity. Rejoice and may your life be offered back as a sacrifice of praise for His lavish love! Amen! He brought us together and placed us where we are to be His hands and feet together for such a time as this! How cool! We are one in the Spirit. We are one in the Lord...and they'll know we are Christ's ones by our love! Amen.
Our Abba Daddy continues to speak to our hearts and thread us together through our devotionals today. Really spend some time meditating on them. Talking to God about them. Then processing them with some others. What is God whispering in your ear today? How is He exciting you? What dreams and visions is He bringing alive to you? What will you do about that? He has custom made great plans for you today and for us as His Body for the rest of the year and beyond as we seek to Become More in '24. More Jesus. More power. More fruit. More lavish love. I'm praying for you and us. Prepare your hearts and begin processing and planning with some others today! Go! Live and love more like Jesus and watch for the fruit that is budding in you to blossom! Rejoice!
Charles Stanley is our starting point today. You need to know, understand, embrace and operate out of your true identity before good and lasting fruit can grow, bud and blossom. Yesterday's is here too and worthy of thinking about again as well. God is our provider and enough! Amen! "God's goal for you is to love you, lead you to a life that is fulfilling and fruitful, influence others around you, and prepare you for eternity." Amen! That comes alive and is lived out through you as you embrace and step more fully into your new, true identity in Christ. Shed the old! Put on the new and go live and love more like Jesus. It is the best and abundant life God promises us!
Our Daily Bread reminds us of the next step--LOVE! As we began today contemplating the lavish love of Jesus and His example of agape (dying to self) love, we are reminded that love is an action that we need to take. Who around you or which family members will you encounter the next few weeks needs to know God's lavish love? We know love and He lives in us and has commanded us to love like Him. What's His plan for you to put love into action, just as you are, where you are, according to your circumstances? Who is He wanting you to partner with? Pray hard into that and keep talking to God about that and looking for some others to process, pray, plan and go love lavishly with! We know John 3:16-17, but do you know and put into action First John 3:16-18? Meditate on that some today.
The Upper Room speaks into our opportunities to serve. I love Col. 1:10! I'm praying that over me, you and our Body. May we live lives worthy of the Lord. May we produce good and lasting fruit as we grow to know Him, understand how we are made and His custom plans for us and put them into action! Amen! Pray to make space in your schedule for God to work and to use you and for a willing and available hearts to respond well. Pray to work from rest, not have to rest from work, to become a normal healthy rhythm for you. Pray you don't become a couch potato or miss God's appointments for you. Pray for some good accountability and prayer co-laborers. Ask God to open your mind and to bring dreams and vision for ideas for you to be used right where you are and for where your daily routine takes you.
Harvest Prayer's blog speaks into unity of believers and living on purpose together with even other churches and believers. We see some of that happening at bread and clothing ministries as half the servants are from other churches. Same with our Wed. night dinner huddle. PTL! Seek Him for more opportunities to combine forces with others and to go love lavishly well together in unity of the Spirit! Pray for Revival Church and for wisdom for us and them to know if we should open our sanctuary for them on Sun. evenings. Pray that if we do, that we would partner well together to grow in serving the least of these and reaching the marginalized and lost and making disciples together. God brought to mind to me the other day how we have been praying for revival. It's just like Him to send Revival Church knocking on our door! Thanks God! Unify and use us well!
We end with The Word for You Today's reminder and teaching  about standing on God's Word. Meditate and pray through the Scriptures included in their devo. We are called to move from isolation to distribution of God, His love, His blessings and His help. We are called to abound in good works and to step into our custom purposes. That goes best when done with others, begins with prayer and is built on our solid Rock, Jesus. We are commanded to steward well all of God's blessings while sowing lavishly and trusting Him to provide where He guides. Pray into that. Stand firm and on His Word and pray to become better doers of it! 
He does have great plans made just for you! What love! Rejoice and prepare! I'm praying for you and for all of the above to become part of our DNA because it is part of Jesus' DNA and He lives in you! May you all know the joy and satisfaction of your salvation and of living out of your true identity and in your created purposes well! May you know the peace that comes from walking in God's best for you! And may you go live and love more like Jesus! May good and lasting fruit become what we are known for! Amen!
Charles Stanley:
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ODB:

Next Step of Love

Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

READ 1 John 3:16–18

What would cause someone to help a competitor? For a restaurant owner named Adolfo in Wisconsin, it was the opportunity to encourage other struggling local restaurant owners adapting to Covid regulations. Adolfo knew firsthand the challenges of operating a business during a pandemic. Encouraged by another local business’ generosity, Adolfo spent his own money to purchase more than two thousand dollars in gift cards to give away to his customers to use at other restaurants in his community. That’s an expression of love that’s not just words but action.  

Building on the ultimate expression of love demonstrated by Jesus’ willingness to lay down His life for humanity (1 John 3:16), John encouraged his readers to also take the next step and put love into action. For John, to “lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters” (v. 16) meant demonstrating the same type of love exemplified by Jesus—and that would most often take the form of everyday, practical actions, such as sharing material possessions. It wasn’t enough to love with words; love required sincere, meaningful actions (v. 18).

Putting love into action can be hard because it often requires personal sacrifice or disadvantaging ourselves for another person. Enabled by God’s Spirit and remembering His lavish love for us, we can take the next step of love.

By Lisa M. Samra

REFLECT & PRAY

How have you experienced love in action? How can you take the next step to love someone in a practical way?

Dear Jesus, please help me to follow Your example and take the next step to demonstrate genuine love in my actions today.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

In 1 John 3, the author focuses on the concept of love lived out in practicality. Like Cain, a lack of love-in-action is comparable to hatred and murder (v. 15). Instead, the author appeals to the example of Jesus, whose act of laying down His own life demonstrates the kind of love we should live out as His children. But what does that love look like practically? The letter makes it very simple: care for the physical needs of fellow believers (vv. 17-18).

And lest we think that the words of 1 John 3 are only a recommendation, it’s important to remember that God took Israel to task—destroying their wealth and sending them into exile—in part because the wealthy failed to care for the needy among them (see Amos 5:11–12). God deeply cares for the poor and marginalized, and we demonstrate Christlike love when we show them that same care.

Jed Ostoich
UR: Opportunities to Serve

We’re praying this so that you can live lives that are worthy of the Lord and pleasing to him in every way: by producing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God. - Colossians 1:10 (CEB)

After enjoying the first few months of retirement, I found that days of fun and relaxation do not always bring the peace and contentment I thought they would. Some days I have too much free time on my hands. It’s frustrating for me not having a schedule.

As I have taken this to the Lord in prayer, asking for guidance about how to spend my time, I have received a surprising answer. I have learned that even those unscheduled hours have God’s purpose stamped on them. Sometimes the purpose may be to teach me patience or to have a positive attitude no matter what is happening — or not happening — that day. The Bible says we are to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:18, NIV).

As I have accepted unplanned times of rest and relaxation, God has given me peace. I’m not rushing through my day, and I have the glorious privilege of spending more time studying scripture and in prayer. Having a more leisurely pace to my days has opened up new opportunities to serve: taking ice cream to a friend recovering from surgery, helping friends clean and pack for a move, or sitting with a cancer patient during chemo treatments. I have found God’s peace in the unplanned moments.

TODAY'S PRAYER
Almighty Father, our time is in your hands. Help us to serve you each and every day. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Harvest Prayer Blog:

March 22 - Seek God for Unity of Spirit

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:1–6) 

To walk in a manner worthy of the Lord is to walk unlike the world, and even unlike much of the church world. The high calling upon us is to walk in humility, gentleness, patience, and love. These are the building blocks of true, Jesus-glorifying unity. Many of us have been raised in a culture of independence, in families with deep brokenness, and live where division is commonplace. Now we are born into a kingdom, a family, where unity is the atmosphere and grace and love are the fuel for this blood-bought oneness in Jesus Christ. Let’s contend for this unity. Seek God for our lives, families, churches, and communities to display the unity he calls for and empowers us to enjoy. 

Father God, I seek you today with my whole heart for your people in my community to walk in a manner worthy of our calling. Cause us to overflow with love, patience, gentleness, and humility. I ask that our Jesus communities and families would shine forth in contrast to this world, a symmetrical and consistent love expressed in deep and lasting unity. Today, enable me and your people to bear with one another. Open our eyes to see that, together, we are one body, and that each one of your people is joined together in this one body that we might live and work in complete agreement. Praise you that your one Spirit has filled all your people. Your Spirit makes us one. We all carry and are filled with the same unifying Holy Spirit. Today, may your Spirit overflow in your people, shining forth the one hope that belongs to us all. May your hope in us be shared clearly and purely with the watching world. Our unity rests in our one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. There is so much more that unifies us than divides us. Manifest your Spirit of unity in your church in our community this day.

--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 that he graciously chooses people to belong to him!
  • Give thanks “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
  • Confess to the Father any doubts or objections you may have about how he works things out.
  • Commit yourself to the one who chose you in Christ before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight (Eph. 1:4).
  • Ask that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).
  • Pray that governmental officials may not be tempted by power or money. Ask God that those who have fallen to these temptations may be changed or removed from their positions.
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend. This book is available at prayershop.org.
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Tuesday, March 26 2024

Good Morning Seeking, Praying, Listening, Receiving, Processing, Repenting, Forgiven, Trusting, Joyful, Lighthouses! Start there talking to God about this truthful about you salutation. If it's not you yet, it can be if you pursue these healthy things from God. We all need someone to process with as well. So seek God for who and courage to do so. If you struggle with how to pray or with how poor of a pray-er you think you are, check at the Harvest Prayer blog below. Check out our other devos as you spend time with God and reach out to a trusted friend to process. God really loves you and wants to hang with you, share His heart with you and is preparing you for some great things today. Rejoice as you dwell in His presence. Watch for Him working around you all day and plan to join Him. Shalom!

Bread Distribution today from 10-12 and Dinner Huddle 6-7:30 for all ages! Come and see and experience love and fellowship! Bring a friend too!

UR: Guiding Light

You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. - Matthew 5:14 (NRSVUE)

Traveling on a ship at night gave me a new appreciation for the power of light. The lights on the ship shone brightly, but the open sea was dark and scary. I could not see anything, but I imagined the vast body of water. It made me feel helpless.

But then in the early morning, as we neared the port, we could see the light from a lighthouse on a hill. Through the darkness, the light in the distance guided our ship toward the port. That beacon made my heart leap with joy and gave me a sense of comfort.

Like a lighthouse in the dark, Christians can show God’s light to weary souls through our actions. Kindness allows people to experience the goodness of the love and life of our Savior Jesus Christ. When people are lost in the open sea of life’s struggles, the light of Christ shines bright. Many are weary, longing for rest and comfort. We can be a beacon for them, guiding them to find comfort in God.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Dear Jesus, help us to keep our lights shining amid the challenges we face so that we may help others find their way. Amen.ODB:

Happy Trust

Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord. Psalm 40:4

READ Psalm 40:1–5

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A woman rescued Rudy from the animal shelter days before he was to be euthanized, and the dog became her companion. For ten years, Rudy slept calmly beside Linda’s bed, but then he abruptly began to jump next to her and lick her face. Linda scolded him, but every night, Rudy repeated the behavior. “Soon he was jumping on my lap to lick my face every time I sat down,” Linda said.

As she was planning to take Rudy to obedience school, she began to consider how insistent Rudy was and how he always licked her in the same spot on her jaw. Sheepishly, Linda went to a doctor who found a microscopic tumor (bone cancer). The doctor told Linda that if she’d waited longer, it probably would’ve killed her. Linda had trusted Rudy’s instincts, and she was happy she did.

The Scriptures tell us repeatedly that trusting God leads to life and joy. “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,” the psalmist says (40:4). Some translations make the point even starker: “Happy are those who make the Lord their trust” (v. 4 nrsv). Happy in the psalms communicates abundance—an erupting, effervescent joy.

When we trust God, the ultimate result is deep, genuine happiness. This trust may not come easily, and the results may not be everything we envision. But if we trust God, we’ll be so happy we did.

By Winn Collier

REFLECT & PRAY

What makes it difficult for you to trust God? How does it alter things if you begin to really believe that trusting Him leads you to happiness?

Dear God, I want the kind of happiness that only You can bring. But it’s hard for me to trust. Will You help me?

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

We’re given no background on Psalm 40 aside from the notation in the superscription. Within the psalm itself, however, we see two dominant themes—suffering and rescue. The psalm opens with praise for God’s rescue in the past (vv. 1-3). That praise then sets the stage for David’s expectation of further rescue in the future from his present troubles (vv. 11-16). In between, the singer invites his audience to likewise root their trust in God and His mercy (vv. 4-10). The conclusion (v. 17) gives us a picture of David’s desperation and his confidence in God’s care as he affirms, “But as for me, I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; you are my God, do not delay.” These themes, particularly the theme of God’s expected rescue, are common in David’s psalms and offer us great encouragement in our own dark seasons.

Bill Crowder

C.S.

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TWFYT:

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Harvest Prayer:

March 20 - Just You and God

While I am a proponent of a morning “quiet time” (a set time each day to read Scripture and pray), I encourage struggling and beginning pray-ers to find what works for them. Don’t force yourself into a pattern that might not fit who you are. Do you walk each day? Pray while you walk. Do you have a commute each day? Pray while you drive. You do not have to sit in the same chair in your living room for prayer to be effective.

But my mind will wander if I pray when I walk or drive, you might be thinking. So what?! When you walk with a friend and are deep in conversation, plenty of things might interrupt your conversation—another person coming toward you, a squirrel darting across your path, a siren in the distance. You pick your conversation up again. The same can happen if you’re praying. In a real sense, Jesus is walking with you. If something interrupts your conversation, simply start talking again.

Prayer is not as difficult as we often make it out to be. Just talk about what’s on your mind—and listen. No special words, no props needed. Just you and God.

Lord, keep me from the need to be “perfect” when I pray or from feeling inadequate if something interrupts my time with You. Help me to persevere in Your presence, and to not make prayer harder than it is! Show me how to find spare moments in my day to reach out to You – moments that might otherwise be wasted time. Whisper into my ear whenever there is an opportunity for us to talk with one another and let me be willing and able to walk with You whenever and wherever I find myself.

--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 Lord, who is your strength, your rock, your fortress and your deliverer (Ps. 18:1-2).
  • Give thanks that “the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength” (1 Cor. 1:25).
  • Confess your desire to rely upon your own strength.
  • Commit yourself to doing everything through him who gives you strength (Phil. 4:13).
  • Ask God to cause you to serve him with the strength that he provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 4:11).
  • The gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16). Ask the Lord to apply this power to individuals whom you know are without it.
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.
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Tuesday, March 26 2024

Good Morning Powerfully Praying, Standing or the Word, Springs of Living Water of Yahweh Jireh! This salutation comes right from our threaded together devotionals from this morning (below). These thread through things we have been studying for awhile as well as our discussions at huddle last evening as God quilts us and our ministries into His masterpiece and we work on becoming, living and loving more like Jesus. Do you see it? What's God saying to you? Who are you processing with? What plans of God will you release in prayer as you stand on God's Word, refresh others and bring new life, hope, help and love that come from an overflowing relationship with our God who is enough--our Provider? Be still a bit and know. Listen, receive, process, release and enact His plans!

What's the threads? May be different for you. Process that with some others. This is what God revealed to me this morning:

The prayers of a righteous person are powerful and effective. Because of our faith in Christ we are considered righteous in God's eyes. PTL! So, our prayers are powerful and effective. They release God's power and will on heaven and earth. And they change us too. Nothing like time sitting at God's feet listening and praying to transform us and for releasing His will and power. Even when it feels like He is not answering, we need to remember He always does. Sometimes He says "yes", 'no', or "not yet". We are commanded to pray continually. Why? because God is always at work, wants to use us and the situations around us, and even change us or redirect us through our prayers and what He is doing. Prayer and time in God's Word, even praying Scripture, helps us to stand firm, defeat the enemy, be filled with wisdom and to direct our steps. Check out TWFYT and all the promises from Scripture to pray through and meditate upon. We are (or can be) powerfully praying, standing on God's Words servants of Yahweh. PTL!

As we are transformed and build on prayer and Bible study, the thoughts of Our Daily Bread and Charles Stanley devos and even our huddles the past few days thread from that to our hearts. Do you see it? What's God saying to you? I would suggest that you open your Bibles and meditate on the Isaiah 58:6-12 passage of ODB. Sounds like it's describing the things we are already doing and speaks into what lies ahead for us this summer. How cool is our God! As we pray, stand on His Word and sit at His feet, He leads us to our mission and His provision for us! PTL! We are sinking our roots deep into God and His Word, receiving nourishing provision and sent to bless others with what we've been given and blessed with. (read that again and pronounce it out loud) We are sent to rebuild society that has no idea who God is and what His love is like. They see it come alive through us as we serve, just as we are, where we are placed, with what we've been blessed with. We are doing some of this and there is more to come as we continue to work at becoming more like Jesus and doing more of what He created us to do and what He has for us. AMEN! God is calling us out of the building this summer to go to the places where He has placed us or is leading us to do what we can with what He's given to connect to others, bless them and show them and lead them to God's love. Pray hard into this and for wisdom for our Vision Team and Wed night Huddle and Family Ministries to multiply God's Kingdom right where we do life daily this summer. Do you live in or have a connection to Sr. Housing? Maybe He wants to start a Bible study or some way to serve your neighbors? Maybe it's some men's or woman's ministries? Do you go out to eat with some friends? Maybe He wants to connect you to the staff or customers? Maybe you play a sport and God has a way for you to serve and connect to your team? Maybe He wants you to host a picnic in your yard to connect to neighbors? The possibilities are limitless and will be connected to things you already do with some of the people you already do life with or who God is leading you to serve and serve with. It will be several small groups connecting to each other, others and God as we step out of the building and be Christ where God has placed you. It will be multiplying disciples. Beginning around Memorial Day, we will be stepping out of the building. Where is God leading you and with who? Pray into this and listen and process with others. We are God's well-watered gardens sent to refresh others--to seek and save the lost. Amen!

Now before you get all panicky, remember God is our strength and peace and is with us helping us to obey His command to be bold and courageous. Pray into that too! Charles Stanley reminds us that God is enough! Do you believe that? We all know it's true, but have we internalized it and are we standing on that Rock? He reminds us of how God helps us and what part of our mission is: "His goals [for you] are to love, lead you to a life that is fruitful and fulfilling, influence others around you, and to prepare you for eternity [where you will continue with what you are doing now]." There are four points to pray into as we prepare for our summer out being Christ's Body, as we move from isolation to distribution and from adding to multiplying disciples. Think about divide and conquer and the theorem of multiplication. God is enough and so are we with Him in us. When we are weak, we are strong because He is in us and with us. Amen! 

He has great plans custom made for you to discover and do this summer! PTL! What might they be and where is He sending you? What does He want to do right where He has placed you? Pray into this and process with some friends and begin making His plans with joy and much thanksgiving! This is the next step in becoming a dynamic movement of God and will be part of God's provision to fund His plans through our Body for years to come! PTL! What's He saying to you right now? What are you going to do about it? With who? How has God threaded all of this through you today? Share that with us. Follow Jesus and know Him and His peace and make Him known! Amen! What joy and great stories of God's faithfulness await us this summer! I can't wait!!!

Upper Room: The Power of Prayer

Pray continually. - 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NIV)

There was a period of three years in my life when I faced the loss of my mother-in-law to cancer, the death of a dear aunt, and the reality that I would never give birth to a child. One Sunday morning while listening to prayer requests in church, I heard someone say, “Our prayers are working.” It angered me to hear those words. My prayers had not been answered. Were my prayers even heard? Why would the prayers of other believers be answered but not mine?

It took some time, but I came to realize that though my prayers did not reverse the outcomes of those situations in my life, my prayers did change me.

Prayer helped me deal with the passing of loved ones and encouraged me to love those who are here with me better. Prayer gave me the ability to open my heart and mind to the possibility of adoption; my husband and I now share our life and home with a beautiful son. God did hear my prayers.

The answers to our prayers may not be what we have hoped, but there will be answers. Do not give up on prayer; it is working.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Dear God, help us to believe that you hear us when we pray and to trust that you will answer. Amen.

The Word for You Today:

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Our Daily Bread:

Helping as God Helps Us

Help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness. Isaiah 58:10 nlt

READ Isaiah 58:6–12

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

Ole Kassow of Copenhagen loved bicycling. One morning, when he saw an elderly man sitting alone with his walker in a park, Ole felt inspired by a simple idea: why not offer elderly people the joy and freedom of a bike ride. So, one sunny day he stopped at a nursing home with a rented trishaw (a three-wheeled bike) and offered a ride to anyone there. He was delighted when a staff member and an elderly resident became the first riders of Cycling Without Age.

Now, more than twenty years later, Ole’s dream to help those who miss cycling has blessed some 575,000 elderly people with 2.5 million rides. Where? To see a friend, enjoy an ice cream cone, and “feel the wind in their hair.” Participants say they sleep better, eat better, and feel less lonely.

Such a gift brings to life God’s beautiful words to His people in Isaiah 58:10–11. “Help those in trouble,” He told them. “Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.” God promised, “The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring” (nlt).

God told His people, “Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities” (v. 12 nlt). What might He do through us? As He helps us, may we always be ready to help others.

By Patricia Raybon

REFLECT & PRAY

In your town or city, who needs help? What simple assistance can you offer them today?

Dear God, please show me a simple way to help others so they can find life in You.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

One of the more common accusations from the prophets to the people of Israel and Judah was that their religion was merely about performance. They were going through the motions of devotion to God without demonstrating it by their actions. Isaiah confronts the people for their display of piety without showing concern for their fellow Israelites. They were fasting, covering themselves in sackcloth and ashes, and bowing their heads in a show of humility (Isaiah 58:1-5). Yet God calls for a fast that frees the oppressed and cares for the needy, not a false show of piety. Jesus also warns about a false show of piety when He speaks of fasting (Matthew 6:16-18).

J.R. Hudberg

Charles Stanley:

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Posted by: AT 10:48 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, March 20 2024

Wagner's news below. Zoom Huddle at 10 all welcome

Good Morning Pray-ers!

Pastor Don slept in and is behind again today. Today God is speaking to us about praying and giving some great examples below. Check out the Upper Room about getting alone, stilling self and connecting to God. What's God saying to you? What blessed opportunities is He allowing you to be still, sit at His feet a bit, receive, discern and know that He is God? Then check out today's Harvest Prayer Blog and then click the links to Dave's and Pam's Prayer blogs. God's speaking to us today about prayer and life in Christ and becoming more like Jesus is flowing right from my blog yesterday and Sun message...follow Jesus, know peace, pray without ceasing, Check them out and sit a spell like Mary in this Martha world and in God's shalom! Joy to you all! Shalom! Be you and allow God to love through you as you travel through this day! Amen!

UR: Precious Opportunities:

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. - Mark 1:35 (NIV)

Recently my husband and I took a trip by train through Montana and Idaho, then rented a car and drove down to northern California to visit my sister at her new home. I had never seen any of these places before, and the journey was a thrill to me. However, the change of routine completely disrupted my habit of starting each day with prayer and quiet meditation.

Back home in my comfy chair with the cat curled up by my side, I took up my daily practice again. I reflected that I had seen so many amazing sights yet had not taken time to marvel at the Creator. I had enjoyed the hospitality of my sister and brother-in-law but had not expressed gratitude to God for the good health and the means that allowed me to travel.

The Bible records that Jesus often went off to a solitary place to pray. Our Lord and Savior took time alone to speak with God. That loving relationship is open to me as well. I realized that my devotional time is not a routine that I must leave behind when I go on vacation. It’s a precious opportunity to thank God for all my blessings, speak whatever burden is on my heart, and ask for guidance every day.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Ever-present God, thank you for the opportunity to be in your presence day by day. May we never forget to thank you. Amen.

Harvest Prayer Blog:

March 19 - God Is Working

There are things that God plans to do through no other means but prayer. He reminds us of this continually in order to bring us back into constant communion with Him. He not only invites us, He makes outlandish promises:

  • "Everything you pray for, believing you will receive!" (Matthew 21:22)
  • “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man will accomplish much!” (James 5:16)
  • “Whatever you ask in My name I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask for anything in My name, I will do it.” (John 14:13)
  • “Until now you asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive so that your joy may be full.” (John 16:24)

 
It sounds too amazing to be true. It is the invitation of a Father intent upon bringing us to Himself. But prayer without ceasing? This is the fantastical part. We can imagine ourselves praying occasionally. Praying when there is an urgent crisis. Praying when we need heavenly fire trucks to rush to our aid. But, without ceasing? With no intermission?

Amazing Lord, You invite me to come to You continually – day and night! As King David has taught in the Psalms, there is nowhere I can go that is apart from You! Because You are omnipresent, I can step into Your presence anytime and anywhere! Help me to believe what You have promised and teach me to ask according to Your will and in the Name above all names! The more I seek You, the greater my joy will be! What a wonderful promise! Help me to see You working all around me, and show me how to come alongside of Your kingdom purposes.

---Adapted from Prayer with No Intermission by Bill Elliff. This book is available at prayershop.org.

Prayer Points

  • Praise the wonderful God who causes mountains and hills to burst into song and all the trees of the fields to clap their hands (Isa. 55:12).
  • Give thanks that the Lord “comforts his people and [has] compassion on his afflicted ones” (Isa. 49:13).
  • Confess any lack of joy which you may have and admit to God your failures to receive his joy.
  • Commit yourself to considering all of life as pure joy, whatever the circumstance, since Jesus Christ is alive and victorious over all.
  • Ask the Lord to restore to you the joy of his salvation (Ps. 51:12), so that you may be a prime exhibit of Christ’s life-changing power.
  • Pray that your family and friends may have Christian joy. Ask God to help them to discipline themselves in the Christian faith and grow together in genuine love.
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.

Dave and Pam Butts' Blogs: Being Still in a Busy House and A Prayer Concerning God's House

https://mail.yahoo.com/d/folders/1/messages/209857

Wagner's News:

Greetings Friends, 

We want to begin this update by expressing our deep appreciation for the kind words of sympathy expressed by so many of you as we remembered and celebrated Missy’s mom. It was a blessing to be loved and cared for by family and friends as we walked through these unexpected weeks of grief and loss. God has been so good and faithful in gently carrying us through this time.

ENGAGE!
We spent the first full week of March in Peachtree City, Georgia, at the US home office of Africa Inland Mission. We were serving as the missionaries-in-residence for ENGAGE AIM, a week of orientation for missionary candidates to learn more about AIM and explore various ministry opportunities in Africa. We enjoyed meeting new friends and reconnecting with old ones who we served alongside of in Kenya. As part of the worship and prayer time each morning, we were asked to share a devotion with the group. We chose to focus on different names of God (Yahweh/Jehovah – I AM Who I AM, Adonai – The LORD and Master, El Roi – The God Who Sees, Jehovah Shalom – The LORD Our Peace, Jehovah Jireh – The LORD Will Provide) and were mutually encouraged as we shared examples from the Word and then from our own lives of God’s grace, peace, goodness, faithfulness, and provision during our twenty-seven years of ministry in Kenya. He IS who He says He IS!
MK SYNERGY
From Georgia, we headed to Waxahachie, Texas, to attend the MK Synergy Conference. Every three years, this conference brings together caregivers and educators of missionary kids with goals to foster networking, encourage each other, share resources, process the latest research, and brainstorm strategies together. In our group devotions each day, we explored Scriptures that show us the heart of our Good Shepherd, Jesus, and how we can follow His example in shepherding our MKs well. Engaging in many conversations with others throughout the week, our hearts and minds were recharged as we shared the many reasons why we love doing what we do with MKs!
GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER
We have answers! Through the medical testing in January, doctors have been able to clearly identify the source of the concerns related to Brian’s heart. It is a congenital heart defect that can be repaired with a procedure the surgeon keeps referring to as “common”. We are grateful that the repair of this heart defect has become simple enough to be an outpatient procedure and would appreciate your prayers on March 21st when the repair is scheduled.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Following Easter, our speaking schedule and travels will increase. Here are some specifics of where and when we will be speaking along with some broad brushstrokes of trips when we might be able to connect. Get in touch with us for more detailed information OR if you’d like to schedule a time to get-together!

April 6-9 Northwest PA and eastern OH

April 7 – Delightful EC Church, Southington, OH

April 6-9 – Grace EC Church, Knox, PA
 

April 13-14 – Grace Community Church, Willow Street, PA


April 15-26 – Travel to Blue Springs, MO with possible stops along the way in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, and/or West Virginia


April 28 – Bethany EC Church, Lehighton, PA

May 5 – Emmanuel EC Church, Bethlehem, PA

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us – so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. ~Psalm 67:1-2

Thanks for partnering with us as we seek to make His Name known among all nations!

Brian & Missy

Posted by: AT 06:34 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, March 20 2024

Good Morning Loving with the Heart of God Worshippers! As you prepare your heart for worship this morning lift some praises to our loving Father for giving us His heart and mind to go love like Him. Thank Him for overflowing love! Thank Him for using us well and for preparing us to go love more in '24. Thank Him for placing us here for such a time as this to be His hands, feet, help, and Good News Delivery people. Come! Now is the time to worship!

I've been beating myself up a bit, maybe prodded some by Satan, because I feel like I just keep sharing the same things--Go! Live and love more like Jesus! Build small group ministries that reach neighbors. Become a dynamic movement of God. But God just keeps revealing these messages to me for us. And will until we trust and obey. I thought I'd share something different this morning...BUT GOD! 

TWFYT reminded me to stop worrying and trust God. They reminded me to not worry about what others think or have or are doing. Focus on God and what He is doing and desires to do in and through me. PTL! He provides where He guides. Amen. You are part of His provision. Where's He guiding you? I ended my quiet time with the Harvest Prayer's Prayer starters and then blog. I'll add a couple from mine to theirs today as they really had me praying into our fellowship of believers. We are one! Well, supposed to be. Are we with fellow believers? The Church needs to reunite in Christ and for multiplying disciples together. Charles Stanley shows us where to start and what to build upon...intimacy with Jesus. Abiding in the Vine and choosing to live this life as if Christ is all that matters. Living life intentionally, earnestly through our custom-made created purposes for God's glory begins with deep intimacy. Our EC mission statement is to know Christ and make Him known. The make Him known part flows from really knowing Him and following closely as His plans come to and alive through you. ODB continues to speak to what God keeps revealing to me and I keep sharing. He's just not letting this go. He has plans for us and He is raising up Kingdom-minded leaders and small groups that will impact the places where they meet. God really wants us to get some small groups started and reaching and impacting our communities and contexts. They ask, "How have you teamed up with others to serve God? and Who can you support as they serve Him with their unique gifts?" Those are questions we need to answer, process and then enact this summer as we step out of the building and into our neighborhoods in small groups. Keep praying into that and start talking to your teammates about what, where and how. I'm really excited for this to begin and can already taste the fruit to come! The UR just reminded me of my attitude adjustment since the last election and how turning off the noise and constant hate-spewing has changed me and brought me great shalom. Who or what are you hating right now? Jesus commands to not sin in our anger and to love our enemies. Seriously, turn off the noise, hate-mongering and anxiousness-stirring and open your Bibles more and spend your time better at growing in intimacy with Christ and some Christ loving and honoring friends who will pray for and help you to go love--all people--like Christ. We are all made in His image and some are being drawn from their Christ-less ways through our love. Hating people and shunning them was a practice of the Pharisees and we see how Jesus felt about that as we open the Gospels. He said, come to me all you weary--weary of the finger-pointing, hate, shunning and unmeetable requirements to be found in God's favor. We are all sinners. Some have been saved by the grace of God. Who is He sending you to love to Him? Who needs to know His rest for their souls?

So where do we start? The Great Commandments: love God and love like Him and the Great Commission: go lovingly make disciples of Jesus. I don't think we can ever stop being reminded of these or ever stop working on them. We are all a work in process and progress and we need each other to live and love well and more like Jesus. God really loves us and is preparing us to reap His end times harvest. He is with us and has great plans that bring satisfaction, peace and joy. Where's your focus today? begin with worship and then be available and willing to go live and love more like Jesus with some friends. God will handle the rest! PTL and Amen! Shalom!

TWFYT:

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Harvest prayer:

March 17 - One Before the Throne

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands. (Revelation 7:9) 

The beauty and majesty as described in heaven will be astounding. Every color and each texture will emanate the glory of God. Every sound and rhythm will carry the message of his wonder, but none will show forth his glory more brilliantly than the faces of those he has redeemed.

The sad reality is that today we are separated not merely by distance and language, but by a large chasm of misunderstanding, suspicion, and apathy. The enemy of our souls has worked a deception on our hearts and minds to keep us from experiencing the glory of God together. He has whispered lies and we have believed that we are more different than we are the same. We have allowed hurt and ignorance to lead us into grave sin and have marred the image of Christ by our hatred and our indifference. 

Jesus has a better plan. Jesus has made a better way for us to live and love as one. What miracle of grace would the world behold if we were united as one people under Jesus? Let’s ask him to free us of our sin and unite us so we may worship together and display his glory to a world who desperately needs to know him. 

Powerful and wise Father, we thank you that in your wisdom you created us with a variety of beautiful distinctions and lovingly placed us all over the world. Show us how to come together for the glory of your name and the salvation of many. Please forgive us for our selfishness and the many ways we have exalted our own preferences and backgrounds above your plan to unite us in you. Give us humble and forgiving hearts so we may offer the grace we’ve been given to all who would hurt and offend us. 

We know that it is through our unity that many will see and be drawn into your loving arms. Show us how to creatively and faithfully find ways to unite as one body with one purpose and vision to make you known all over the world. We exalt you as Creator, Lord and Savior and commit to making your name famous and followed. We pray that your name will be known and received among unreached people and that you will send us boldly and compassionately to everyone’s world with your gospel. Equip us with all that we need to bring to you the reward of your sacrifice. 

--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 Lord, who made and cares for heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them (Ps. 146:1-6).
  • Give thanks for his personal care for you.
  • Confess instances of putting ultimate trust “in mortal men, who cannot save” (146:3).
  • Commit yourself to putting your hope in the Lord your God.
  • Ask God to help you hand your cares to him through daily prayer.
  • Pray your church grows as loving people who genuinely administer God's care to all people. Ask for wisdom for your leaders and small groups.
  • Pray that God will continually prompt his people to join him in caring for those oppressed or otherwise in need (146:7-10). Ask God to grant corporate and individual wisdom, persistence, and love in seeking to extend his kingdom.
  • Pray that the witness of God's people will be consistent in word and deed. Ask God to guide you in helping specific people in your neighborhood to put their trust in the caring God you know intimately.
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend. 

Charles Stanley:

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ODB:

Kingdom-Minded Leadership

I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them! Numbers 11:29

READ Numbers 11:16–17, 27–29

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

When I joined a group of Christian children’s book authors who prayed for one another and helped spread the word about each other’s books, some people said we were “foolish for working with competitors.” But our group was committed to kingdom-minded leadership and promoting community, not competition. We shared the same goal—spreading the gospel. We served the same King—Jesus. Together, we’re reaching more people with our witness for Christ.

When God asked Moses to choose seventy elders with leadership experience, He said, “I will take some of the power of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them. They will share the burden of the people with you so that you will not have to carry it alone” (Numbers 11:16–17). Later, Joshua saw two of the elders prophesying and told Moses to stop them. Moses said, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” (v. 29).

Any time we focus on competition or comparisons that hinder us from working with others, the Holy Spirit can empower us to shrug off that temptation. When we ask God to nurture kingdom-minded leadership in us, He spreads the gospel around the world and can even lighten our loads as we serve Him together.

By Xochitl Dixon

REFLECT & PRAY

How have you teamed up with others to serve God? Who can you support as they serve Him with their unique gifts?

Holy Spirit, please make me a kingdom-minded leader committed to working together to reach more people with the life-saving message of the gospel.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

As Numbers 11 begins, it had been more than a year since the Israelites escaped out of Egypt (10:11-12). They’d spent almost a year at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:1; Numbers 10:11), where Moses received the Law, the people rebelled by crafting a golden calf, the tabernacle was built, and the priesthood was established. The Israelites were the beneficiaries of God’s daily care through manna and a cloud that guided them during the day and a pillar of fire at night. But soon after leaving Mount Sinai, the people “complained about their hardships” (11:1), and God judged them with fire. After His judgment subsided, some began to “crave other food” (v. 4). Moses grew tired of their complaints and cried out to God, “I cannot carry all these people by myself” (v. 14). As a result, He instructed Moses to choose seventy leaders to help share the burden (vv. 16-17).

Alyson Kieda

UR: The Power of Words

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. - Proverbs 10:12 (NRSVUE)

I only had one brother. He was six years older than I and joined the US Navy when I was 13. As we got older, we bonded over our common interest in ham radio.

On one of our family’s visits to his house, he and I retreated to his radio room and started talking. After a while he said, “You sure hate a lot of things.” His words stopped me cold; he was right. I hated how that politician acted. I hated that product. I hated my income taxes. I realized that even though I claimed to be a Christian, I was living a life full of small hatreds. I would like to say I have completely overcome that mindset; but while I never say I “hate” things anymore, I can still be critical of those who disagree with me.

Words of hatred and superiority can slip into our conversation, demeaning not only the subject of our talk but God’s word as well. “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (Prov. 25:11). All people were made in God’s image and deserve to be treated fairly and honorably. I have found if we look deep inside others, we may find people very much like ourselves.

TODAY'S PRAYER

O Lord, help us to avoid the trap of careless and negative words. Even when our words are critical, may we speak always with compassion. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Posted by: AT 06:33 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, March 20 2024

Good Morning Pursuers and Bringers of God's Shalom! Peace. Peace. God's Peace. We seek it. Long for it. Pray for it over others. We know it is God's promise--His peace beyond understanding--but too often don't receive it or we allow the chaos and tyranny of the moments to rob us of His shalom. God specializes in bringing peace to the chaos. Jesus is our Prince of Peace who invites the weary to come to Him and find rest. That is a promise and a command. "Come to Me and I will give you...!" We have talked about and know that when we are pursuing and following God well we will have peace. If we don't have peace, we need to pause, reset as we sit at Jesus feet, count some blessings and allow Him to redirect us. What is robbing your peace today? Is it something beyond your control and not of your making? Or is it caused by the noise and chaos you are allowing in and pursuing? God is calling both types by name to come to His shalom! In either case, we know the Prince of Peace who promises us His peace beyond understanding and rest for our weary souls. It is even possible to choose joy in the midst of all our angst as we redirect and renew our thinking and choose to trust God as our Lord and hand over all our anxious thoughts and meaningless worry and striving. 

Yesterday we talked about Jesus' invite and command to "Follow Me..." Are we doing that yoked to Him, receiving His help and peace or are we choosing to find our identity in worry, stress and anxiousness about things out of our control and things we cannot change. The image comes to mind of Jesus, being under so much pressure and anxiousness, in the Garden that His sweat was filled with blood from His brow. He asked His closest disciples to come comfort and pray with Him, but they fell asleep. (Who is crying out for you to come along side and strengthen? What are you doing about it?) God strengthened Him as He surrendered all His fear and anxiousness and brought His shalom beyond understanding that allowed Jesus to go boldly to the cross for us. God promises to do that for us as well. Will you pursue and allow Him to bring His peace and strength to you and your journey? He's right beside you waiting! 

Check out the Harvest Prayer blog. It's Dave's account of His journey through cancer. Eventually, He lost that battle but traveled through it already resting in Jesus and dwelling in His shalom. We can learn to do so too. Amen! Jesus is bidding us to come to Him, follow Him and know His peace and rest. So, it is available. Pursue it! Know it! Amen. (Maybe this will be all God has for you today. That's OK. Below the Harvest Blog are more of my journal notes with our devos for today. I'm praying for you and God's peace beyond understanding for you and for you to be His vessel of shalom)

Harvest Prayer Blog:

March 18 - Seek Peace

Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. (Psalm 34:14)

Today I am in the midst of an intensive chemotherapy treatment to deal with my aggressive cancer. I can’t imagine anything more designed to steal peace than chemo. It doesn’t just affect the body with harmful side-effects, it also creates a whole new way of life for the patient.

In a situation like this, I’ve learned how practical Scripture is regarding peace. It doesn’t just happen.

Though it is a gift of God, it is to be asked for, received, cultivated, and pursued. All too often in the Christian life, we can fall into an unhealthy passivity. It sounds spiritual to say something like, “let go and let God,” but that’s rarely how we grow spiritually. The Apostle Paul presents an active spirituality that is “pressing forward,” not kicking back and relaxing.

I know that for me personally, pursuing peace during chemotherapy has meant looking for Scripture passages that teach me more of what the peace of God is. It has meant actively praying those scriptures regarding peace into my life on a daily basis, asking Jesus Christ to bring those things to pass within me.

It has also meant listening to the testimony of other believers who have sought and found the peace of God.

Without a doubt, the most powerful thing I have learned regarding pursuing peace is that it means pursuing the presence of Christ. Again and again, I have found myself waking through the night with a passion to get up and worship the Lord. Seeking his face has meant walking in his peace. As I have delighted myself in his presence, fear always leaves and is replaced by the peace that is beyond understanding. And it is not just through the night hours. Worship throughout the day has become a way of life as I pursue peace.

Determine today how you will pursue peace. Bring that to Jesus in prayer and ask him to bless your pursuit.

Lord, I delight in the fact that you both give us peace and at the same time ask us to pursue it. We all run after those things that are important to us. Your peace is so vital to our lives and well-being. I draw near to you today, enjoying your presence and accepting the peace you so freely offer.

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

In our journey to become more like Jesus and the people He created us to be and doing our custom made tasks, we often share two quotes and Eph. 2:10 to remind us who we are in Christ. 1. "I am who I am because I am allowing I AM to be who He is in and through me." We always have a choice to allow God to live in and through us as He shapes us. 2. "Discipleship is the process of becoming who Jesus would be if He were me." Two ways for saying the same thing really. Life in Christ is full of choices. We talked yesterday about our choices to accept Jesus' invite to follow Him and to allow, even ask Him daily, to be our Lord and Rabi. Peace comes as we follow Him and allow Him to be our Lord, Teacher and Leader. Check out ODB below. Ask God to come be your I AM today. Eph. 2:10 reminds us that we are God's masterpiece, made new in Christ, to do what He created us to do. Allowing Him to be our Lord of all things leads to great peace and satisfaction in a life well lived in Christ as you are created for. Amen! Charles Stanley continues teaching with reminders that we are special, unique, designed perfectly creations of the God who has great plans for us! PTL! The UR reminds us that God Almighty is or Rock, our Fortress, our Hiding Place. He is our place of rest and peace in troubled times! Amen. And TWFYT is on day two of teaching how to rise above worry. God is really speaking to some of us today! Thanks Lord! He did thread all this together for us knowing some of us need to choose His peace and to dwell in it today and some of us are prepared and sent to bring His shalom and help others to head towards it. What an awesome God who knows you intimately, is calling you by name, even singing over you and wanting to fill you with His peace! Thanks Lord! We still ourselves and receive it and open our hearts and arms to share it. Come fill us to overflowing with your love, joy and peace today. Thanks! Amen!

ODB:

“I AM”

God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” Exodus 3:14

READ Exodus 3:11–15

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Jack, a professor of philosophy and literature, had a brilliant mind. He’d declared himself an atheist at the age of fifteen and in adulthood adamantly defended his “atheistic faith.” Christian friends tried to persuade him. As Jack put it, “Everyone and everything had joined the other side.” But the Bible, he had to admit, was different from other literature and myths. About the Gospels he wrote: “If ever a myth had become fact, had been incarnated, it would be just like this.”

One Bible passage became most influential to Jack—Exodus 3. God was calling Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses asked God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?” (v. 11). God responded, “I am who I am” (v. 14). This passage is a complex play on words and names but reflects God’s eternal presence from the beginning. Interestingly, later Jesus echoed the same when he said, “before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:58).

Jack, better known as C. S. Lewis, was deeply persuaded by this passage. This was all that the one true God should need to say—simply that He is the “I am.” In a life-changing moment, Lewis “gave in, and admitted God was God.” This was the beginning of a journey for Lewis toward accepting Jesus.

Perhaps we struggle with belief, as Lewis did, or maybe with a lukewarm faith. We might ask ourselves if God is truly the “I am” in our lives.

By Kenneth Petersen

REFLECT & PRAY

What does it mean to you to hear God say, “I am ”? How might it influence your days ahead?

Dear God, I come to You in awe of who You are. You are the “I am” in my life, and there is no other.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

God’s name is more than just a way to identify Him. It’s also a revelation of His person and character. When Moses encountered Him in the burning bush, God identified Himself as “I am who I am” or the “I am” (Exodus 3:14). Scholars say the Hebrew can also be rendered as “I will be what I will be.” One of the amazing realities contained in this title is that God is beyond time. Even more, He’s completely unaffected by it—though in His mercy He chooses to work within time. This reality is reaffirmed in the New Testament, where we read, “I am the Alpha and the Omega . . . who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8). In the person of Jesus, our timeless God stepped into time to give us an eternity unbounded by time.

Bill Crowder

CS:

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UR: Our Rock

Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me. - Psalm 31:3 (NIV)

I live on an island with many beautiful beaches. When I feel the gentle rush of the waves, I reflect on the grandeur of God’s divine creation. Starfish and snails of all shapes and colors reveal God’s greatness and how detail-oriented the Creator is.

One day, filled with admiration as I walked on the edge of the beach, I found a unique rock. Many types of algae floated about, entangled with each other; but one type of small, living algae was attached to the rock. This find allowed me to reflect on how God also gives us abundant life in troubled times.

Just as the algae found the rock, its source of life, in spite of the turbulent waters, so we can find Christ. He is our rock, our strength and protection, who gives us abundant life amidst the challenges our lives can bring.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Creator God, help us always to remember that you are our rock and fortress. We pray as Jesus taught us, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” (Matt. 6:9-13, KJV).TWFYT:

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Saturday, March 16 2024

Good Morning Fellow Servants of God's Good News Delivery Co.! Are you hearing God speaking to your heart? Are you processing with others, praying, planning, and following God into the places around you that He is at work? What's your part in His Good News Delivery Co? We all have a custom made part prepared specifically for us. And we begin with prayer, offering ourselves just as we are and then joining God as we travel through each day. He provides, protects, guides, stretches, grows, equips, empowers, prepares others and uses what we have been given to complete His perfect plans. Amen! I am so blessed to see how God is using many of us to share His blessings and spread His love and Good News. He has just begun to lead us to the next and new things He has prepared for each of us, small groups of us, and all of us together! PTL!

Talking to some of you, I am hearing that you don't know what your part may be. The parts are as varied and many as you and unique to you. Has God molded you, shaped you, equipped you, allowed you experiences, do what do you enjoy? Those are just some of the filters to use in discerning your part which will include how He made you and gifted you. Probably two of the most important tools in discerning your part is talking to God about it and processing with others. Others often see things we miss, hear God speaking encouragement or correction over you, pray for you, and hold you accountable to carrying through. We are family that God has gathered to prepare and use to expand His Kingdom, even today! PTL! God is calling us to earnestly pursue Him more in '24. Discern more. Plan more. Do more. Become more like Jesus and doing more of what He created us to do. 

It's obvious that this world is going to Hell in a handbasket. That is not what God desires for His creations. He is preparing you and us to be part of His rescue mission. He has a custom part in that just for you. So, pray into that and start looking for the others He is wanting you to partner with and reach out to them. They may be getting some of the pieces of the puzzle that you seem to be missing. Who are your peeps? What is your part? What are you doing about it?

God has really been doing a work in me and speaking to me as I surrender more of me to Him. I am convinced that He put me in the hospital to do some of His spiritual heart surgery. I am a different man since then. PTL! And I am learning my part and letting go of things that, though good and better things of God, are not His best for me or are other people's parts. He is preparing me for such a time as this to lead us to what's next. He's closed some doors and windows and opened some others. He's given me a change of perspective as I release some of my preconceived notions of what He wants me and us to do and let go of some of my plans to make room for His. And man does He have some great plans for us this summer and beyond awaiting you to step into your part! Check out the prayer in the Upper Room (below) today and pray into releasing your preferences, plans and busyness and be open to allowing God to adjust your thinking and plans to His. They are really good! So much peace comes as we let go and let God! Then process ODB (the one God had me study yesterday) about sharing your faith. WOW! God is speaking to each of your hearts and inviting you to come follow Him and He will teach you to fish for people. What is your response to that invite? Pray through these two questions...Where is God calling you to share your faith? How might He empower you to do this today?

We will be processing this over the next month or so and also with our Vision Team in April. In the meantime, pray hard into this and look around at what God is doing around you. Talk to Him about hosting or leading a small group that reaches the people around you or into the things you are already doing. God's got a custom plan just for you and for a group of friends. Talk to Him about that. I'd encourage you to reread and pray through the last two days blogs as well. God is revealing His plan for our summer out of the building and for our future as we change the world for Christ. It is time to move from isolation to distribution. And it's time to start really living out the purpose of where God has placed you and to do so with some friends. We all have a part! PTL! Ask Him to reveal yours and begin processing and planning! Amen! We are His Good News Delivery Co. sent out to rescue some souls right around us and change the world outside our doors. Amen!

UR: God's Shadow

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. - Psalm 91:1 (NIV)

In Scotland, UK, where I was brought up, we don’t have a lot of warm sunshine. I remember as a teenager sitting outdoors sunbathing, trying to get a tan. I’d sigh with disappointment when a cloud obscured the sun temporarily, covering me in a cool shadow.

My feelings toward shadows changed dramatically when I landed in Madras, India, in May 1975 to serve on the staff of a teacher-training college. I stepped off the plane into what felt like a hot oven — 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Overhead was a cloudless blue sky. In what can be an oppressively hot and humid climate, people long for shadows which can offer shelter. The students used to sit in groups under the spreading foliage of trees to study together.

Likewise, in the warm, sunny land of Israel, where David composed his psalms, a shadow would be thought of as a gift, a comfort, a protection — something to be valued. How much more valuable, then, is “the shadow of the Almighty!” In God’s shadow, we find shelter and safety.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Dear God, thank you for the change in perspective new experiences can bring. Inspire us today to rest in your sheltering shadow. Amen.ODB:

Share Your Faith

Come over to Macedonia and help us. Acts 16:9

READ Acts 16:1–10

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

In 1701, the Church of England founded the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in order to send missionaries around the globe. The motto they chose was transiens adiuva nos—Latin for “Come over and help us!” This has been the call on gospel ambassadors since the first century, as followers of Jesus take the message of His love and forgiveness to a world in desperate need of it.  

The phrase “come over and help us” comes from the “Macedonian call” described in Acts 16. Paul and his team had arrived at Troas on the west coast of Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey, v. 8). There, “Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us’ ” (v. 9). Having received the vision, Paul and his companions “got ready at once to leave for Macedonia” (v. 10). They understood the vital importance of the call.

Not everyone is called to cross the seas, but we can support those who do with our prayers and finances. And all of us can tell someone, whether across the room, the street, or the community, about the good news of Jesus. Let’s pray that our good God will enable us to cross over and give people the greatest help of all—the opportunity for forgiveness in Jesus’ name.

By Bill Crowder

REFLECT & PRAY

Where is God calling you to share your faith? How might He empower you to do this today?

Loving Father, You sent Your Son for our rescue and forgiveness. Equip me to be an agent of Your great good news that forgiveness and freedom are available to whoever will receive Jesus by faith.

For further study, read Gospel Conversations: Sharing the Story of Jesus.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

There’s a fascinating note in Luke’s description of Paul’s journey to Philippi (Acts 16:1-12). In verse 6, he says: “Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.” The apostle had been prevented from preaching by the Spirit! Somehow, in God’s good plan, they were to bypass Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) in order to cross over to Greece and begin the movement of the gospel in Europe. The text doesn’t tell us why this was done, but we can be sure that—knowing God’s heart for the lost everywhere—it wasn’t a reflection of any lack of love for those in Asia Minor.

Bill Crowder
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Saturday, March 16 2024
Thank GOD I'm Forgiven Friday! Just start with some praise today. Dig out those gratitude lists and sit at Jesus' feet worshiping! Nothing could be finer than to lift some praises in the morning! I'm praising God for the time change which brought me back into normal schedule. I slept 9 hours again and am praying to adjust to His schedule as I feel like I lost half a day getting up so late at 6:30.
Good Morning Children--Children of God---Children of His promise--Gathered and Sent Children of God! Praise and pray into that salutation today that ties to some of our devos for today. God is in the process of raising us as great kids. Are you cooperating? He is sending us to some who will become spiritual children of ours to raise in the faith. Who might your spiritual children be? Ask God how to teach, lead, model, disciple and your part in His Good News and Disciple Making Co. Check out Harvest Prayer's blog below about praying and their prayer starters as you move from worship to hearing, responding and interceding this morning. And check out The Word for You Today about raising great kids. (day 5 of that) Talk to God about how to do your part in being a good child of His and for raising some good spiritual children. This is great advice for those feeling called to lead a small group and applies to leading a church as well. Pray to be a great child of God and an encourager, great mentor and fine example of walking with Jesus and in the joy of your salvation. Ask God to give you His eyes, heart, mind and direction to be His hands and feet and for boldness to go love well in the name of Christ in this Christ-less world.
Our Daily Bread Speaks into sharing our faith and really ties to yesterday's blog and things God is bringing to the forefront for us with living out the purpose of our place. Using what we've been given as we are created and empowered to use to go make disciples is our summer purpose from God. It will require all of us being all in and praying, providing, encouraging and reaching into the places God us sending us to live out our purposes this summer to connect to others and connect them to Him. It is God's will for us for the summer and beyond to move from isolation to distribution. He has made it clear that, like during the Diaspora (when believers in Christ were driven out of Jerusalem after the martyrdom of Stephen and they took the Gospel to the world). And it will involve all of us to go and make disciples as we are commissioned and now sent to do as we move from the isolation of our building to going and distributing as God's sent Good News Delivery Co. and Disciple Making Machine. What's your part? What will you do about it? Start by praying for dreams, visions, and wisdom for where God is sending you/us and for the new people to connect to? And for boldness to share your thoughts and to do your part. Pray for small groups of sent ones to be raised up and ready to mobilize as the Holy Spirit leads.
Haha! I'm a day ahead on ODB. If you have it read tomorrow's God led me there when I asked Him to lead me and write this blog. God doesn't make mistakes. I included today's below as it speaks into the legacy we are building and building on as we build on our strengths, work on our weaknesses, and follow God just as we are to His future for us. Tomorrow's talks about being attuned to and following the Holy Spirit and asks, "Where is God sending you to share your faith? How might He be empowering you to do that today?" Well, how? Because our vision team sought God and His direction and wisdom and maybe unbeknownst at the time when they voted to not AC the Fellowship Hall, opened a door for us to step from isolation to distribution as God is sending us out with His love and Good News for the summer and beyond. PTL! His plans are great, perfect and enacted as we pray, seek, and make ourselves available. He is sending us and you all have a part. It's time to move from adding members to multiplying disciples! Thanks God! (Add that to your gratitude list) 
Realizing what was happening has given me peace about no AC. (Thanks God!) It happened as I humbled myself and prayed, not my will Lord, but Yours. Thanks Lord! Send us and raise up harvest workers as you send us to the harvest. Amen! (I really think all of this may be part of a sermon series to come so all of our members can hear and begin processing this and preparing)
Here's where your part in this kicks in. I got nothing. God has only made clear to me His call to leave the building. Not where, how, who, what. He's whispering to me that you all have that part being revealed to you. God probably has already given you some ideas when He stirred in you to vote no to AC. We need you to share your thoughts and ideas and keep praying for God to bring dreams and visions and to bring them alive through a group (groups) of us to enact. He seems to be revealing that this going and distributing is to be by small groups sent to different areas. PLEASE seek God earnestly for this and for your part, your small group, and His plans for you to go love, serve, and make disciples this summer. What's He saying to you? What will you do about it? I am praying for you and all of us. I know God will have me encourage and help you to get your part rolling, but He has made it clear to me that my part is to train and release, not to be part of each sent group. With all the momentum we have going, I can't imagine God shutting us down for the summer! Can you? My summer call is to keep ministering to those coming for bread and preparing you to go. God has whispered the reminder that I can't do it all so stop trying. (That was part of my hospitalization and I will not kill myself anymore to do what others are called to do, by the grace of God). So, what's God's plan for you and your small group? How can I pray, train and help you to get started? He really does have great plans for you and us! PTL! Go love well! Shalom!
Harvest Prayer Blog:

March 15 - Simple, Consistent Prayer

If you are just starting out on the journey into prayer, don’t be bothered by the length of your prayers. Remember what Jesus said about “babbling” (Matthew 6:7). A sincere, simple prayer, can have as much or even more impact than twenty minutes of rambling.

So What? To begin to grow in prayer, start by picking two or three areas of your life in which you want to see God’s hand at work. Maybe it’s your kids, your relationship with your spouse, a work situation, a character flaw. As you seek to develop your prayer life, simply focus on these things. Don’t worry about how long you pray—just talk to God about what’s on your heart.

Read some Scripture, looking for God to speak to you out of His Word. As you pray, pause to listen from time to time. If a thought on the issue enters your mind, pray about that thought. Ask God to give you a promise from His Word regarding your situation. Then pray over that verse.

You will be surprised how your prayer time grows. Eventually, you will feel confident to add other prayer items to your list, including ones beyond family or personal issues. Perhaps you will begin praying significantly for your pastor or your church, or maybe a neighbor who needs to meet Jesus.

The point is, don’t chide yourself on how little you pray. Just try to develop some consistency with the fact that you do pray. God will do the rest.

Lord God, as You grow my praying life, I ask that You continue to teach and train me from Your powerful word! Help me to connect my heart with Yours as You speak! Draw me closer to Your will for Your kingdom as I listen and then pray obediently. Stretch me so that I will grow deeper and stronger in intercession. Grow my desire for more of Your presence!

--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

  • Read Psalm 139 and praise the all-knowing one who perfectly knows you in every action, thought, and word (139:1, 4).
  • Thank God for the comforting knowledge that he is with you wherever you go (139:5-6).
  • Confess any attempt to flee his all-knowing presence (139:7-12).
  • Commit yourself to learning more about these wonderful human bodies he has made (139:13-16).
  • Ask him to give you a love for knowing his thoughts (139:17-18), an informed hatred for those he hates (139:19-22), and an “open-book” relationship with him (139:23-24).
  • Pray that your nation will repent of willful ignorance of God’s thoughts and ways. Ask that the beauty and purpose of human life be accepted and promoted (Psalm 139:12-16).
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend. 
TWFYT:
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ODB:

Eternal Legacy

I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners. Ecclesiastes 5:13

READ Ecclesiastes 5:8–15

As Dust Bowl sandstorms ravaged the United States during the Great Depression, John Millburn Davis, a resident of Hiawatha, Kansas, decided to make a name for himself. A self-made millionaire with no children, Davis might have invested in charity or economic development. Instead, at great expense, he commissioned eleven life-size statues of himself and his deceased wife to stand in the local cemetery.

“They hate me in Kansas,” Davis told journalist Ernie Pyle. Local residents wanted him to fund the construction of public facilities like a hospital, swimming pool, or park. Yet all he said was, “It’s my money and I spend it the way I please.”

King Solomon, the wealthiest man of his day, wrote, “Whoever loves money never has enough,” and “as goods increase, so do those who consume them” (Ecclesiastes 5:10–11). Solomon had grown keenly aware of the corrupting tendencies of wealth.

The apostle Paul also understood the temptation of wealth and chose to invest his life in obedience to Jesus. Awaiting execution in a Roman prison, he wrote triumphantly, “I am already being poured out like a drink offering . . . . I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:6–7).

What lasts isn’t what we chisel in stone or hoard for ourselves. It’s what we give out of love for each other and for Him—the One who shows us how to love.

By Tim Gustafson

REFLECT & PRAY

What will others remember about you? What changes might you need to make as you ponder your eternal legacy?

Heavenly Father, please help me pour out my life for others in some small way today.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon has a lot to say about material wealth. He also devotes a hundred or so sayings in the book of Proverbs to the subject of riches and money. Material wealth can either be a blessing (Proverbs 10:22) or a curse (30:7-9), depending on how one relates to it (see Deuteronomy 8:7-19). God warns us not to get rich by wrongdoing or unjust means (Proverbs 15:27; 22:16; 22:22-23). We’re to seek wisdom rather than wealth (3:13-15; 8:10-11; 16:16), for the godly life is better than the good life. Right living is better than rich living (15:16; 16:8; 28:6). Money is a fleeting commodity that gives us false security (23:4-5; 27:24; Ecclesiastes 5:10-11). Rather, we need to invest for eternity. Jesus says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where . . . thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-20).

K. T. Sim
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Saturday, March 16 2024

Good Morning Teammates--Co-Laborers in Christ! I can't get last night's video and huddle discussion out of my mind. God woke me very early to contemplate this further with Him. (BTW for those wondering, at 3 am my blood sugar was 113 and my BP 118/70! God is my healer! and three donuts are OK!)

We had an awesome day of ministry and fellowship around the table in our Fellowship Hall yesterday! Around 65 people came for bread and donuts and about 70 some gathered around the tables for ministry and fellowship. Prayers were lifted and encouragements shared. Then last night around 25 gathered around the tables to eat, fellowship, watch a video and discuss, reason together and pray. Our fellowship hall is becoming a house of prayer for the nations. In between those two activities I had the honor of visiting some of our homebound as I did on Tues. as well. God is on the move and using us to share His love and help! PTL! We are reminded in the Bible to care for widows and orphans, feed the hungry, cloth those in need, visit the prisoners', shelter the homeless. We, by the grace and provision of God, are doing these things. Keep it up and keep stepping into your part--including praying, giving, and serving.

Here's an update: Nancy Bahr is doing well but lonely and bored. She says hi to everyone. Doris Hausman is doing great and still ministering and lighting up lives with the joy of the Lord at 103. She said to remind everyone that Jesus loves you and to keep loving Him and there is no retirement from sharing God's love! Darlene Skinner is sitting in a wheelchair and doing better but still has a long road to go in rehab from her spine surgery. She thanks everyone for their prayers. Harold and Maryanne Zanders say Hi and they miss everyone. They are able to get out and take walks and have some day trips planned for the late spring with their daughter. LaRue and Randy Schmidt say hi and follow what is going on at St Matts and pray for us. They attend a church close to them now. They have a man servant, Hesmond, who joins us for communion and prayer. He asked for prayers for His family to be able to get a visa to join Him. Next week I will visit some others. I know some of you are visiting, calling and sending cards to our homebound. They very much need and appreciate the love we show! Thank you!

A few other prayer requests: Houstin Lichtenwalner has a torn Ham string but does not need surgery and has been given the go ahead to work the farm. He will be pain a lot of pain for a long time, especially when sitting. Pray for a full and complete healing, pain relief and for wisdom and patience and for Gail as she cares for him. Bob from bread ministry has constant pain in his back and is ready to give up. We prayed for healing and relief and he left in tears. God is at work with his friend Patrick. Pray for God to continue to draw Patrick to His love and forgiveness. Pray for healing for Isabelle as she has been suffering a long time awaiting doc visit. Pray for provision for all those we served and for them to be drawn to God through us. A family is interested in renting the fellowship hall for family gatherings. Pray for more opportunities for this kind of income. Pray for the NA group that gathers in our building for deliverance and to be drawn to God as they walk away from addictions. Pray for the Clothing Closet ministry this Sat. Thank God for the new members that will be joining our church Palm Sunday. Thank you! And pray for God to lead us to summer connection points and ministry. Ask what your part is and for dreams and vision for where He wants us to connect to others.

I'm only sharing the Harvest Prayer blog below today. You can use your Bibles and devotionals to connect to and talk to God. I spent most of my quiet time talking to God about last night and His plans for us this summer. The Video we watched from Israel last night was about how God is always teaching and preparing His people to follow Him and spread His Good News. He moves from isolation to distribution (preparing and protecting from the outside influences to sending His prepared ones into the world.) That is why we are still here. (we are gathered to prepare and now sent to take the Good News to our neighbors) We are God's Good News Delivery Co. and we all have a vital part in that. What's yours? What's ours a a gathering of believers?

The thing that really got me during the video and is still being chewed on is the thought the host shared, "Are we living out the purpose of our place?" It sounded like he got ahold of one of my sermons. I love the affirmation that comes when others are hearing and sharing the same things we are hearing from God! Thanks Lord! The host reminded us that we are unique individuals with unique purposes from God and placed by Him right where He wants to use us for such a time as this. Sound familiar? God is speaking and He has gathered and placed us here, placed you here, for such a time as this! PTL! So are you, are we "living out the purpose of our place"? Talk to God about that and process that with some others! Why are you/we placed here? What does God have planned for us? What's my part/ our part together? What's next? What is the purpose of your placement here and are you doing that purpose? What about our Body called St. Matts.? God has some great custom made plans for custom made you, just as you are, for such a time as this. He wants to grow you and our fellowship. He wants to grow His Kingdom through us and has placed us here and is preparing us to make disciples today. He's already using us. How does He want to expand that? He's always up to something new? What might that be? Let's pray into and figure that out and start putting God's plans into action in this place, even today! Amen!

I shared last night how God has been using our Fellowship Hall and table ministry to grow our fellowship and ministry opportunities. We know that at least 90% of our ministry happens there. But since you voted to not add air conditioning most of that ministry will stop for the summer after Memorial Day. I shared how I am a bit frustrated by that, especially after we spent over $100,000 to fix a window that isn't even seen. Are we living the purpose of our place well? Are we stewarding God's blessings well while sowing lavishly into what He is doing? We always need to be evaluating and adjusting as God leads us to His new things for us. That's part of the task of the Vision, Finance and Support Teams and you as part of the Body--seeking God and supporting what He's doing. That's part of our role in His Good News Delivery Co. So, since the vision, support and finance teams determined that we should not invest in air conditioning. That means God has something else for us this summer. What is it and what your part? Where is God leading us this summer to fulfill the purpose of where He has placed or is sending us for such a time as this? Where do you go in the summer and how can we connect to and minister to people there? We talked about how we are starting to see the fruit of ministry and inviting people from the race track. Where do you hang out that needs some Jesus and love? Who do you hang with that might respond to an invite. Where can we gather in extreme heat or severe weather on a Wed. night and keep our rhythm going? What does God have planned for us as He moves us from isolation to distribution. He has a plan and has placed you right where He wants to use you. How can we come alongside and minister with you? Are we living out the purpose of our place? Are we stewarding the best while sowing lavishly and investing in what God is doing? Pray into this and let us plan together the next things, summer things, where God is sending us to distribute His Good News as we live and love more like Jesus! I am really excited to here what God is saying to you and processing and planning together! We are commissioned to go and make disciples. We saw how God prepared, and when the time was right, sent His people to share the Good News with the world with great success as He led them. Where's He leading us? What doors are being opened? Pray and listen and process that with us. Let's prepare and get ready to take His Good News to the world together! Let's maximize the purpose of our place! Amen!

Harvest Prayer:

March 14 - God Is Calling You

All of life is a process by God to restore what was lost in Eden. God is bringing us back to Himself. The whole work of Christ is aimed at this blessed reality. When we realize this and are drawn to Him, we are saved from sin and death and hell. But salvation is so much more than merely legal pardon. It opens the way for an ongoing, intimate relationship with Jesus.

Prayer is to be the running dialogue we are now offered with the God of the universe and His Son who love us with perfect, unceasing passion. It is not merely one of the things we do as a follower of Christ. It is a description of the atmosphere in which we can now live. The life-giving air we can now breathe.
We often shy away from prayer or ignore it altogether, but we must realize that prayer is not just about us, it is about Him. The Father wants to be with His children, just as you long to be with your earthly family.

Life-giving Jesus, what a joy to know that prayer is life itself, postured before Your throne of grace! Prayer is breath, our being, our privilege, and our responsibility. You have a deep desire for Your children to come to You with child-like faith and trust. Thank You for calling me to step into this conversation of love with the purpose of joining You in Your plans for people, nations and situations. May Your will be done through me as I obey Your voice and step into the gap between heaven and earth.

---Adapted from Prayer with No Intermission by Bill Elliff. This book is available at prayershop.org.

Prayer Points

  • Read Psalm 24 and praise God as the King of glory, the Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle, the Lord almighty!
  • Give thanks for God’s power poured into your life and ministries.
  • Confess any attempts to live and minister by your power instead of the power of the Spirit.
  • Commit yourself to being a channel of his powerful love.
  • Ask God to give you clean hands, a pure heart, integrity of soul and honest speech (24:4), so his power can flow through you unhindered.
  • Pray that your family and friends will seek God’s face (24:3) and be allowed into his presence through Christ. Ask God to work with power on a particular need in your home.
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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Wednesday, March 13 2024

Donuts and conversations at the Bread Ministry today 10-12. 6-7:30 PM Dinner Huddle. All welcome to either or both! Come and see God at work in, through and around us!

Good Morning Patient, Peaceful, Plodding Along, Priests unto the Lord! AMEN! Which of these do you need to pray into, work on with some friends and garb a more firm hold of? All are a choice we are able and empowered to make in Christ. PTL! Are you anxious, frustrated, mired in the chaos all around you that you can do nothing about? Turn off the noise. Choose trust and joy. Refocus on what God has for you today. Patiently follow Him to His best. Are you dwelling in the past and what used to be's? Forget what lies behind. Build on the good things. Choose to press forward with Jesus to God's new things for you and us. God is on the move! Join Him! Are you running ahead or lagging behind God? Be still, know and yoke to Jesus as we plod along one step of time in faith to what's next while sowing as we go. We are all priests of God. We don't need a mediator because the High Priest, Jesus, lives in us and is interceding for us right now, even when we don't know what to pray. Call on His name and pronounce His name over you and your circumstances! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! There's just something about that name! We can be patient, peace-filled, plodding along with Jesus instruments of His! Choose peace and joy today! Start with meditating on and praying through our devos and blogs below! God really loves you and has great plans for you that come alive as you live and love more like Jesus! Amen! Start right now and partner with some friends!

Gotta fly! Back on normal time again and slept too late until 5:15 today. Need to be on the road already. Shalom! See you soon!

ODB:

Cries of Distress

When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place. Psalm 118:5

READ Psalm 118:1–9

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

Trapped under two floors of collapsed rubble caused by an earthquake, five-year-old Jinan, a Syrian girl, called out to rescuers as she shielded her little brother from the debris surrounding them. “Get me out of here; I’ll do anything for you,” she called heartbreakingly. “I’ll be your servant.”

Cries of distress are found throughout the Psalms: “When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord” (118:5). While we may never experience the crushing weight of earthquake-collapsed buildings, we all recognize the suffocating fears from a challenging medical diagnosis, economic hardship, uncertainty about the future, or relational loss.

In those moments we may offer bargains to God for deliverance. But God doesn’t need to be persuaded to help. He promises to answer, and while it may not be relief from our situation, He’ll be with us and on our side. Nor do we need to fear any other peril—including death. We can say with the psalmist, “The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies” (v. 7).

We’re not promised as dramatic a rescue as Jinan and her brother experienced, but we can trust our faithful God, who brought the psalmist “into a spacious place” (v. 5). He knows our situation and He’ll never abandon us, even in death.

By Matt Lucas

REFLECT & PRAY

How has God shown Himself faithful when you’re in distress? How have you recognized His presence during difficult times?

Heavenly Father, I call to You knowing that You hear me. Thank You for being faithful and loving.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Psalm 118 is one of six psalms (Psalms 113-118) called the “Egyptian Hallel.” These were used when observing Passover, the time when Jewish people remember God delivering them from slavery in Egypt. Psalm 118, the final psalm in this grouping, was used to conclude the Passover meal.

A thanksgiving psalm, it celebrates God’s hesed—a significant Hebrew word meaning “loyal, faithful, or steadfast love” (translated “love” in the niv). The psalm begins and ends with an invitation to praise God because “his love endures forever” (vv. 1, 29).

In the New Testament, nearing the hours before His suffering and death, Jesus would refer to Himself as the fulfillment of Psalm 118:22—“the stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (see Matthew 21:42). His sacrifice would be the greatest demonstration of God’s faithful love.

Monica La Rose

UR: In God's Time

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. - Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)

One spring during my morning walks, I noticed my neighbor building a brick walkway from his porch to the street. Gradually over several weeks, I watched as he prepared the ground, poured gravel, and laid bricks. Then for some reason I could not perceive, I saw that he had ripped up half the path and piled the bricks in his yard. Eventually, the path was completed, and the mess was cleaned up. If I had not been paying attention, the finished path might have seemed to appear overnight. But I had witnessed the process: the planning, measuring, waiting, ripping up, and restarting.

The construction of my neighbor’s walkway illustrates that sometimes things don’t happen overnight — even when God is doing something new in our lives and inviting us to grow from it.

Isaiah 43:18-19 reminds me to keep my eyes open for how God is at work in my life.

Growth is a process — one step at a time. We can trust that God is always doing something new. As we become more aware of God’s presence, we can watch for the new things God is doing, give thanks, and proclaim God’s great work.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Dear God, we praise your name and proclaim the new and wondrous works you do in our lives. Amen.

Harvest Prayer blog:

March 13 - Peace, a Fruit of the Spirit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. (Galatians 5:22)

The fact that peace is a fruit of the Spirit is simply biblical truth. It can become for us a matter-of-fact, intellectual truth that doesn’t impact us until we see it up close and personal.

The week I was working on this devotional, I received a blog from a former teacher and friend, Dr. Eleanor Daniel regarding the work of peace in her life. I share it here. Two days after she wrote this blog, she went home to Jesus.

“Today’s post has particularly personal meeting. It’s my 77th birthday, celebrated with great joy with my four siblings and other family and friends. But even more significantly, when we began drafting this post a couple of weeks ago, we could talk about PEACE as a fruit of the spirit in academic terms. I have found that peace is a very personal matter right now. Life is undergoing a big change. I have been on dialysis for over three years and had anticipated being on it for some time more. That is not to be. In the progression of things it is important to stop dialysis. My final dialysis treatment was this past Friday. And I have been told I can anticipate a couple of weeks to live. When I returned from the hospital three days ago, I shared the fact that I am no longer on dialysis with one of my close friends in the nursing home. She said to me, “You look different. You look well! You’re at peace, aren’t you.” I AM AT PEACE—the peace that passes understanding. And now, “The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord turn his face toward you and give you PEACE” (Numbers 6:24-26, emphasis added). —Dr. Eleanor Daniel

When peace as a fruit of the Spirit has been cultivated and is allowed to grow in our lives, it allows us to deal with absolutely anything that comes our way. Cultivating peace means standing against that which is not peace. When anxiety rears its head, we reject it rather than embrace it. The worries that often come our way are rejected. When we are plagued by “what if?” thoughts, we turn from that, recognizing it as unprofitable thinking. Most of all, we continually come before Jesus in prayer, asking him to grant us his peace.

The fruit of the Spirit that is peace is not about the absence of violence or merely a passive acceptance of things as they are. This peace is never about changing our outward circumstances to make life easy for us. It is always about walking close to the Prince of Peace and allowing him to deal with everything we are facing. In his presence, we dwell in peace. It becomes a permanent way of life…even at its end.

Like virtually everything in the Kingdom of God, peace must be sought and asked for. Would you make the pursuit of the peace of Christ a part of your everyday prayer time?

Thank you, Lord, for giving me your Spirit and allowing the fruit of your Spirit’s presence to be growing and active in my life. I know, Lord, that each of those qualities or characteristics must be cared for and desired. I especially today take the peace you have given me through your Spirit and ask you to cause that to grow to the point where your peace overcomes everything that might attempt to steal that peace.

--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 our God, who is unfailing in love and great in compassion (Psalm 51:1-2).
  • Give thanks for the forgiveness of all your past, present, and future sins through Jesus’ death 2,000 years ago!
  • Confess that your sin has been against God himself (51:3-5).
  • Commit to the full integrity of having God’s truth and wisdom in the inner recesses of your heart (51:6).
  • Ask God for full cleansing, purity, joy, and gladness (51:7-9).
  • Pray for the integrity and understanding of your church’s leaders. Ask God to give them effectiveness in equipping you to lead people to God’s forgiveness and righteousness (51:13-14).
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend. 
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Wednesday, March 13 2024

Don't forget...Zoom Huddle at 10! All welcome! And donut day tomorrow 10-12!

Good Morning Seen, Known, Loved, Forgiven, Humble, Followers of Jesus! You are known by God and you matter! He is with you always and leading you to His best! Humble yourself before our Lord and Savior. Confess, repent and receive His loving forgiveness. Check out all our devos and especially the Harvest Prayer blogs and prayers. We are one in Christ. We are His Body. Each of us matter and we are created, gifted and empowered to love each other, spur each other on, and grow God's Church for such a time as this. He has plans for you and us! PTL! Choose to worship, receive and follow well as you prepare yourself for the day ahead in Christ! I'm praying for you and our fellowship! Go and love well today! Amen! And cover each other in prayer as you don God's armor. Thanks!

Harvest Dave's Blog:

(Recognizing the Places of Spiritual Attack)

 By Dave Butts

Several years ago I had the opportunity to write a book entitled The Devil Goes To Church. It’s been interesting to watch the responses of people who see the title for the first time. Most of them say, “The devil sure does go to church… especially mine.” Why this overwhelming awareness that Satan is somehow interested in what happens in churches? Maybe it’s because we’re seeing his hand at work in the church. This excerpt helps us understand why Satan is interested in your church and four ways that he attacks local congregations.

There is a very real reason why the devil goes to church. The Biblical worldview is of a great cosmic battle between the forces of God and the forces of Satan. Christians are those who have changed sides in the battle. Paul writes about this changing of sides in the second chapter of Ephesians: “…in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved” (vv. 2-5).

The enemy of our God has become our enemy. We are not in a neutral position. When Christians gather as the church, we become a real threat to Satan. We are there to worship, to pray, to teach and to encourage one another to live and proclaim the Kingdom of God and as such, proclaim the enemy’s defeat. It is apparent that he will do all he can to prevent that from happening….

The real danger for us is being unaware of the enemy’s schemes. We approach every difficulty in church as though it is just a natural thing. When churches divide over whether or not to use hymns or contemporary choruses, it is not natural. When the flock turns on the shepherd, it is not natural. When the saints, called to live in love, spend their time criticizing and accusing one another, it is not natural. The devil has come to church!

…There is one obvious thing about Satan’s attacks – he is consistent. He does basically the same thing over and over again in church after church, down through the ages. We might categorize them in these memorable ways: Doubt, Deceit, Discouragement, Division.

Doubt

Sowing doubt has been one of the enemy’s weapons from the very beginning. In Eden, the serpent stirred up doubt in Eve, causing her to sin. He caused her (and Adam) to doubt God’s word, asking the insidious question, “Has God said…?” You can almost hear the oily voice continuing, “You don’t really believe that do you?” The same voice, the very same voice, is asking the same question today, causing Christians to begin to doubt God and His Word.

Doubt was the weapon Satan used against Jesus in the wilderness. Every temptation was preceded by the word, “if.” “IF You are the Son of God,” the enemy whispers, attempting to instill doubt into Jesus. He still uses the same attack.

Doubt can come in many forms. Sometimes it is the frontal attack on the veracity of the Bible. There are many in church who simply do not believe that all of the Bible is truly God’s inspired Word. But sometimes the most vicious attack comes on those who do believe in the Bible, but are then led into doubt as to the power of God’s Word. “Will that really work?” people ask. Whole segments of Scripture are robbed of their power as Christians relegate them to some other day or time, and fail to appropriate them for themselves. Be careful when trying to explain away a clear meaning of Scripture. It may be that the enemy is raising doubts.

Doubt is also raised as to the nature of God. When tragedies come in life (and they do), even Christians find themselves doubting the love or mercy of God. “How could a loving God cause (or allow) such a thing to happen?” The whispering enemy is again at work to cause God’s people to doubt the goodness or power of their God. We’re sometimes told that to doubt is natural. Not for those who have tasted of the goodness, mercy and power of God! Faith is the natural response to God. Look at Job and the almost inconceivable tragedy that changed his life. Though facing great loss and with tremendous grief, still he words one of the great faith responses in Scripture, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21).

Doubt also comes to the individual believer regarding his/her position in Christ. The enemy continually works at trying to separate us from Christ. He doesn’t have the power to actually do that, but he tries to instill doubt in us as to who we are in Christ. The best way to counter that is with the truth of God’s Word. Christian author, Neil Anderson has written much on this topic and has prepared a wonderful list of scriptures that affirm who we are in Christ:

  • John 1:12 – I am God’s child.
    • John 15:15 – I am Christ’s friend.
    • Rom. 5:1 – I have been justified.
    • 1 Cor. 6:17 – I am united with the Lord and one with Him in spirit.
    • 1 Cor. 6:20 – I have been bought with a price; I belong to God.
    • 1 Cor. 12:27 – I am a member of Christ’s Body.
    • Eph. 1:1 – I am a saint.
    • Eph. 1:5 – I have been adopted as God’s child.
    • Eph. 2:18 – I have direct access to God through the Holy Spirit.
    • Col. 1:14 – I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins.
    • Col. 2:10 – I am complete in Christ.

Deceit

A second weapon that Satan uses against the Church is deceit. This should not surprise us since Jesus Himself described Satan as a liar. Satan delights in twisting the truth, confusing people and leading them into error. That’s rather obvious when you look at the condition of Christian doctrine, both within and without the Church. It may be as subtle as the lack of understanding concerning Christian grace or as obvious as those who deny the inspiration of the Bible.

The Apostle Paul speaks of difficult times for the Church in the last days, especially in regard to truth. We are warned of those who are “always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth, men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected” (2 Timothy 3:7-8).

Like what you are reading? This article is a part of the text from the course “The Devil Goes to Church" at PrayerU.com, the digital learning site of Harvest Prayer Ministries. For more information on this course, click here.

This passage is so clearly being lived out in the Church today, that we can easily see the enemy’s handiwork. There is no shortage of Bible studies in our churches. But we debate the meaning rather than living out the intent of God’s Word. We have fallen into the trap that James warned us about: “Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22). Studying Scripture without doing it is one of Satan’s great deceits.

This deception concerning the Word of God leaves the Church powerless and unable to function as God has intended. George Otis, Jr. delivers a scathing indictment of this powerlessness as follows:

“If ever there was a moment for the Church to stand up and be counted, that moment is now. Unfortunately, American Christendom is in the midst of a low, debilitated spiritual state. At almost every turn, supernatural power and insight have given way to religious inertia. Fellowships are growing numerically, but members are not maturing in character. There are programs aplenty, but little fear of God. Most ominously, modern believers seem oblivious to their own unhealthy condition. Having succumbed to the Laodicean Syndrome (see Revelation 3:14-17), they view their compromised state as normal – even blessed.

“A troubling, if predictable, consequence of this spiritual self-deception is that the Church has found itself unable to speak into the current crisis with any clarity or consistency. Burdened political leaders seeking direction from Christian clergy and prayer networks report receiving advice that ‘wanders all over the map.’ Needing wise men with keen understanding, these national decision makers are finding instead blind guides and flesh-clouded counsel” (George Otis, Jr. “Fading Light,” January 2003).

Discouragement

One of the main passages of Scripture that we often use to hit people over the head with to get them to attend church is Hebrews 10:25: “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” The focus of the passage however is not merely attending a meeting, but in the process, encouraging one another.

One of the very practical reasons for this scriptural command is to counter the enemy’s strategy of discouraging the believers. Many faithful Christians who have withstood the more frontal attacks of Satan in the area of morality, truth and righteous living, have found themselves blind-sided by discouragement. A few words of criticism here and there, a “down” day, a little loss of fresh vision, a program that didn’t go according to plan, and suddenly we find ourselves discouraged and wondering if we can go on.

Many great women and men of God have had severe bouts with discouragement and depression. Perhaps the clearest example is that of Elijah following his great victory over the prophets of Baal. In the wake of that victory, Queen Jezebel ordered his execution. In fear, Elijah ran and ended up in this situation in 1 Kings 19:4: “He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, LORD,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’” Now that is serious discouragement from a great man of God. It took the intervention of the Lord Himself to bring Elijah out of that depressed mood.

You may not have sat under a tree with a desire to die, but discouragement can hit us all. The great word of God to the Church in this case is that we are called to be an encouragement to one another. We are to build one another up in our faith. Our gatherings need to be times of great encouragement. The church that is a place of support and edification is a place where the enemy’s plans have been thwarted.

There is an old story about discouragement called, “The Devil’s Tool Sale”:

“It was advertised that the devil was putting his tools up for sale. On that date the tools were laid out for public inspection. They had prices on them, and there were a lot of treacherous instruments: hatred, envy, jealousy, deceit, pride, lying, and so on. Laid apart from the rest of the devil’s tools was a harmless-looking tool, worn more than any of the others and priced very high.

“‘What’s the name of this tool?’ asked one of the customers.

“‘That,’ the devil replied, ‘is discouragement.’

“‘Why have you priced it so high?’

“‘Because discouragement is more useful to me than all the others. I can pry open and get inside a man’s heart with that when I cannot get near him with any other tools. It’s badly worn because I use it on almost everyone, since so few people know it belongs to me.’”

When we begin to understand that discouragement is of the enemy, we can begin to counter it using the weapons of our warfare. It is not natural for a Spirit-filled child of God to walk around discouraged. This is an attack of Satan to put us on the sidelines.

Division

Francis Frangipane writes, “If there ever was a false doctrine that was so widespread, so accepted in the Body of Christ, yet so contrary to the heart and teachings of Christ, it is the tradition of division within the Church” (Becoming the Answer to Christ’s Prayer, p. 2).

One of the most effective strategies of Satan has been to bring about division in the Body of Christ. It makes sense that the enemy would push for a splintered, divided Church, since Jesus desired exactly the opposite. The main focus of Jesus’ great high priestly prayer of John 17 was that His followers would be united. A strong, united Church is a testimony to the world of the love of God. Satan is doing all he can to destroy that testimony.

One of the main weapons we have against this attack is awareness of the enemy’s schemes. If we are unaware of the satanic nature of division, there is a greater tendency toward excusing it or just assuming that this is one of those things that happens occasionally in the church. When we see clearly though, that we as a church are under attack, then we will determine at all costs to guard against division. Members of a congregation are well-prepared to resist the enemy when, finding themselves in times of conflict, they begin to ask the question, “What is the enemy trying to do here?” Then, turning to the Lord, they ask the most important question, “Lord, how do we counter the attacks of the enemy against Your people?”

When a church finds itself facing issues that bring division, the prayer meeting is far more effective than the board meeting. Division always has a spiritual issue at its root and the enemy is always involved. It is heartfelt, heaven-sent prayer by the Body of Christ that will rout the devil and deal with the issues that are at hand.

I’ll never forget a church where I taught a prayer seminar in central Indiana. I’m so grateful I got there early that Sunday morning. As I walked into the church sanctuary, I was amazed to see about a dozen men walking around the room praying. They were laying hands on the pews and walking to the four corners of the room, praying for a new awareness of the Lord’s presence, a fresh moving of His Spirit, and for protection from the attacks of the enemy. What a powerful way for a group of Christian leaders to go on the offensive against Satan and to keep the devil from their local congregation.

How will you take your stand against the enemy?

Excerpted from The Devil Goes to Church: Combating the Everyday Attacks of Satan 

$9.99

The Devil Goes to Church: Combating the Everyday Attacks of Satan by Dav...

prepared for spiritual battle, equipped for spiritual warfare,

by David Butts, Harvest Prayer Ministries

Harvest Prayer Blog:

March 12 - Empower Us to Love One Another

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35) 

A quick scroll through social media will tell you that, of all the things we Christians portray, loving one another is not at the top of the list. It is often not on any list of our attributes at all! This is heartbreaking to Jesus and devastating to our lives. Jesus knew that only through our unity would his relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit be truly exhibited. He knew that without unity, we would be weak, fearful and overwhelmed by loneliness. The enemy of our souls also knows that if he can divide us, he can conquer our most powerful evangelistic plans and cause us to fail to live out our most sincere prayers. Loving one another as Christ loved the church, sacrificially, generously and humbly, can never be done on our own. Our fearful and self-centered natures must be overcome and empowered by the strength of the Holy Spirit living in us. When he moves through us, not only can mountains be moved, but stony hearts can be softened and molded to be full of his transforming love. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to make us living, breathing, and loving agents of change in our communities so many may know and live in his love. 

Jesus, Lover of our souls, we are eternally grateful for the way you have loved us! You have given, served and healed our souls. You have called us your very own and have loved us unconditionally in spite of our many failures. We repent of every way we have been ruled by our own selfishness. Forgive us for making our agenda, our opinions and our preferences more important than your call to love one another. Cleanse us of the apathy and self-protectiveness that hinder our love for one another. Give us your heart and allow us to see our brothers and sisters through your eyes of compassion and understanding. Make us one as you and the Father are one. We ask you to make the love we have for one another an irresistible invitation to the world to come into your loving and welcoming family. We cannot do this on our own. We humble ourselves in your presence and ask you to fill us with your Holy Spirit so we may love as you love. Overwhelm us with your compassion today and use our lives to share your heart with a hurting world who needs the acceptance and healing that only come through you. We love you, Jesus, and want to love your children. Thank you that you long to answer this prayer and that you are remaking us to be your agents of love. 

--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 for His matchless grace.
  • Give thanks that His grace is sufficient for you in every situation.
  • Confess any do-it-yourself efforts in which you have rejected God’s grace and tried to go it alone.
  • Commit yourself to being a channel of that grace to others.
  • Ask that God will meet your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19) and that His grace will be poured out abundantly.
  • Lift up the names of the leaders of your nation, state/province, and community, asking that the Lord’s strength and wisdom come to full maturity in each one as they learn to rely on Him.
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend. 

UR: God Sees Us

[Jesus] gave them strict orders that no one should know what had happened. Then he told them to give her something to eat. - Mark 5:43 (CEB)

In Mark 5, Jesus exorcised a demon, healed a woman of her hemorrhage, and raised a little girl from the dead. I would have guessed that after all that, Jesus would have rubbed his hands together and called it a day. Or maybe he would have sat back among a crowd to recount all that he had done. That is what I would have done. But that was not Jesus’ way.

Jesus was more concerned about the risen girl’s needs. She was not a project to him; she was not a means to make himself look better. Jesus saw the young girl as a person with needs and fears. While everyone else was ecstatic and shocked, Jesus saw that the girl was hungry and told her mother and father to give her some food.

In God’s eyes we are not means to an end. We are not just one of many pieces in the puzzle. To God, each one of us is a person with our own needs and fears. God is interested in even the tiniest details of our lives. In every moment, remember that there is nothing too trivial to bring to God.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Dear God, may we always remember that you are aware of our struggles every moment of our lives. As your people, we thank you for always caring about us. Amen.

C.S.

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ODB:

Courage in Christ

I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish. Esther 4:16

READ Esther 4:10–17

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Near the dawn of the twentieth century, Mary McDowell lived worlds apart from the brutal stockyards of Chicago. Although her home was just twenty miles away, she knew little about the horrific labor conditions that prompted workers in the stockyards to strike. Once she learned of the difficulties faced by them and their families, McDowell moved in and lived among them—advocating for better conditions. She ministered to their needs, including teaching children at a school in the back of a small shop.

Standing up for better conditions for others—even when not directly impacted—is something Esther did as well. She was the queen of Persia (Esther 2:17) and had a different set of privileges than her Israelite people who’d been dispersed throughout Persia as exiles. Yet Esther took up the cause of the Israelites in Persia and risked her life for them, saying, “I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish” (4:16). She could have remained silent, for her husband, the king, didn’t know she was Jewish (2:10). But, choosing not to ignore her relatives’ pleas for help, she worked courageously to reveal an evil plot to destroy the Jews.

We may not be able to take on massive causes like Mary McDowell or Queen Esther, but may we choose to see the needs of others and use what God has provided to help them.

By Katara Patton

REFLECT & PRAY

How are you using what you possess to help others? What role can you play in providing for those who may not live near you?

Dear God, please give me the wisdom and courage to serve those in need.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Ezra and Nehemiah give the account of the small remnant of the Jews who returned to Judea after the Babylonian exile. Esther records the events of the Jews who chose to remain in Babylon. This story took place in Susa (modern Iran) during the reign of Persian King Xerxes (Esther 1:1-2, 486–465 bc). Interestingly, Esther is the only book in the Bible where God isn’t mentioned. Yet, it speaks volumes of God’s providential care and protection when He used a young Jewish woman to save her people from legally mandated genocide. This story explains the origin of the festival of Purim, where Jews commemorate being saved from extermination. Haman had cast a lot (pur) to determine on which day to destroy the Jews (9:24); the festival is a reminder that God is the one in control (vv. 20-32). 

Examine how God used women in the Bible.

Lecture - Our Daily Bread University

K. T. Sim

TWFYT:

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Wednesday, March 13 2024
Week ahead:
Tue 10 am: Zoom Huddle. All welcome
Wed 10-12 Donuts and conversation day at the Bread Ministry; 6PM Dinner Huddle. All welcome to either or both
Thurs 6:30 PM: Support Team Zoom
Sat. 10-1 Clothing Closet
Sun Worship 10 AM
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Good Morning Focused, Firm, Faithful, Followers of Jesus! He is the Way! We are followers of The Way! Even though His ways are not like ours, they are available and approachable as we still ourselves, knock, seek, listen receive, process and move towards following His ways better. Success in this Christian life comes as we focus on God and what He is doing, stand firm amidst the storms, remain faithful and persevere in faith as we follow Jesus to His custom made plans for us. He is faithful and true and His will will be done in, through and around us as we invite Him in, turn off the noise, listen and follow well. That comes one step of faith at a time. It's very helpful to have others to process with, pray with, plan with, and go with. It's actually God's plan for us. What's God saying to you today as you open your Bibles and process with others? What are you going to do about it? Stay focused--set your jaw like Jesus in determination to follow His way. he has some awesome plans for you today, this week, this year, and for the rest of your life! PTL! 
Start with the Harvest Prayer blog and then check out our devos below prayerfully as they teach us that storms will come and to stand firm and keep building on the solid Rock; Refocus on the Creator. Stop worrying! Turn off that noise and lift some praise. Enjoy life as you serve, love and go like Jesus! Yes, turn off the noise, cast anxiety, refocus, and ask God to bring you to and dreams and visions of His plans for you and us to enact. God commands us to fear not and stand firm and promises to be at work for you today. And the reminder comes through the Word for You Today about disciple making and teaching our kids, grandkids, spiritual children and flock in ways they can understand, learn, grow and go in confident faith. Teaching kids in this way is like pastoring and shepherding God's flock or your small group too. Teaching well isn't about force feeding, bully pulpits, and out-of-date methods. It's all about finding ways people can learn, embrace truth, internalize and grow according to their learning style. We are all unique creations of God with unique purposes, yet part of the same Body. Yesterday we discussed how to grow into the next things God has for you and our church: Become You (be who you are created to be in God's image and the new creation you are in Christ), Become more like Jesus (He lives in you and is leading you to become more like Him), Follow the Holy Spirit. (The Holy Spirit is our gift-giving, empowering gift to help us become who we are created to be, do what we are created to do, encourage others, learn, grow, and build God's Church), Do life with others (we are created, gathered and sent as co-laborers and we all have unique rolls), and all of that leads us to become a dynamic movement of God where He has placed us, as we are, for such a time as this! PTL! 
So what's God saying to you today? What will you do about it? Who will you process with? Pray into that and actively pursue God's next and best things for you and us! Pray for His dreams and visions to come and be processed well and for His will and ways to be done in, through and around you. Amen! I can't wait to celebrate al he will do in the year ahead as His ways and good and perfect will come alive in and through you and us! His best is yet to come and we are pursuing it earnestly! Come and see and rejoice with us! Enjoy this life in Christ we have been given! Amen! Be still and know that He is God!
Harvest Prayer:

March 11 - Entering Into the Presence

“My prayers seem like they hit the ceiling and bounce right back at me,” said one discouraged man. We all understand this. There’s nothing more disheartening than dis-connected prayer. It’s the reason many have given up on intercession. Full of fresh resolve, they jump into prayer but never find a real sense of God’s presence. It seems like they are talking into the air. A steady diet of such prayer will make them spiritually confused and before long, they’ll stop praying altogether. Such praying is explainable. We have not learned how to enter in.
 
Very much of so-called prayer, both public and private, is not unto God. In order that a prayer should be really unto God, there must be a definite and conscious approach to God when we pray. In very much of our prayer, there is really but little thought of God. Our mind is taken up with the thought of what we need and is not occupied with the thought of the mighty and loving Father of whom we are seeking these gifts.
 
If, then, we would pray aright, the first things that we should do is to see … that we really get into His very presence. Before a word of petition is offered, we should have the definite and vivid consciousness that we are talking to God and should believe that He is listening to our petition and is going to grant the thing that we ask of Him. This is only possible by the Holy Spirit’s power, so we should look to the Holy Spirit to really lead us into the presence of God and should not be hasty in words until he has actually brought us there.
 
When Jesus gave his most comprehensive training on prayer in Matthew 6:5-15, He spent more time instructing us about how to enter into prayer than He did giving us the model prayer. But we rarely focus on these essential, preparatory elements. We charge into prayer and quickly reel off a laundry list of things we want God to do. Failing to realize Who we’re approaching, we never really engage God’s presence consciously. Studying Matthew 6:5-10 gives us indispensable insight about how to enter. We must learn how to approach God rightly in prayer before we pray.
 
Lord Jesus, help me to pay attention to the instructions You gave to Your people through Your word! May I never pray to impress others, but instead, spend time with the Father in quiet, out of the way places as often as I can! Give me Your words, so that I don’t babble mindlessly. Help me to remember that my You know exactly what I need before I even ask You! May I keep Your name holy, may I continually ask for Your Kingdom to come soon, and may Your will alone be done 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, the giver of all good gifts (Mt. 7:11).
  • Thank him for the greatest gift of all: his Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior (Lk. 22:19).
  • Confess any lack of thankfulness for all of God’s gifts to you.
  • Commit yourself to giving your time, talents, and resources for the gospel.
  • Ask God to grant you a heart of generosity (Lk. 6:38).
  • Pray by name for one unsaved friend or loved one. Ask God to open this person’s heart to receive the indescribable gift of salvation through faith alone (2 Cor. 9:15; Eph. 2:8-9).
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend. 
UR: Strength in the Storm

Jesus said, “Everybody who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise builder who built a house on bedrock.” - Matthew 7:24 (CEB)

Where I live, we have had a very wet summer with some violent thunderstorms. The rain has been relentless, trees have been uprooted, and rivers are swollen and overflowing. During one storm water gushed under the back door of our home. This made me think of Jesus’ story about the two men who each built a house: one on the sand and one on the rock.

No doubt the sky was clear and bright when the first man built his house on the sand. He wasn’t contemplating any storms. The other man considered that storms must inevitably come to all of us, so he built his house on the rock. When the first storm came, the house on the sand collapsed, while the one on the rock withstood the weather.

If we keep spiritually strong by reading the Bible, praying, engaging in spiritual practices, and worshiping with fellow believers in Christ, we can recover from adverse circumstances more easily. When our lives are grounded and firmly set on the Rock and his teachings, we can weather the storms that come our way.

TODAY'S PRAYER
Dear Lord, help us faithfully to build our lives on you and what you are teaching us. Help us to be bold in our witness and to stand strong with you. Amen.
ODB:

Remember the Creator

Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. Ecclesiastes 9:7

READ Ecclesiastes 9:7–10

I recently read a novel about a woman who refuses to acknowledge she has terminal cancer. When Nicola’s exasperated friends force her to face the truth, the reason for her avoidance emerges. “I’ve wasted my life,” she tells them. Though born with talents and wealth, “I made nothing of my life. I was sloppy. I never stuck at anything.” The prospect of leaving the world now, feeling she’d achieved little, was too painful for Nicola to contemplate.

I was reading Ecclesiastes around the same time and found the contrast stark. Its Teacher won’t let us avoid the reality of the grave, “the realm of the dead, where you are going” (9:10). And while this is hard to face (v. 2), it can lead us to value every moment we have now (v. 4), intentionally enjoying our food and families (vv. 7–9), working purposefully (v. 10), taking adventures and risks (11:1, 6), and doing it all before the God we’ll one day answer to (v. 9; 12:13–14).

Nicola’s friends point out that her faithfulness and generosity to them proves her life hasn’t been a waste. But maybe the Teacher’s advice can save us all from such a crisis at the end of our lives: remember our Creator (12:1), follow His ways, and embrace every opportunity to live and love that today He provides.

By Sheridan Voysey

REFLECT & PRAY

How will you take delight in today’s simple, God-honoring joys? What one good thing have you yet to do or attempt?

Loving God, thank You for today and the gifts it holds. I’ll enjoy its simple joys and embrace its opportunities as an act of worship to You.

Learn more about the book of Ecclesiastes.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

The book of Ecclesiastes includes many sayings that compel readers to affirm that life “under the sun” is complex and “utterly meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3). The writer reminds us that life on earth includes times of head-scratching, groaning, and pain. His realism is quite sobering, even jarring. Yet, his observations and life assessments also include heartwarming truth like what’s expressed in Ecclesiastes 9:7-10. In his book Something New Under the Sun, Ray Pritchard uses the chapter title “Have a Blast While You Last” for these verses. Indeed, life is to be embraced, treasured, and celebrated as a precious gift from an awesome Creator. The apostle Paul reminds us that God “richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17). We must never forget that—along with our rich spiritual heritage in Jesus—our provisions from a good God include food and drink (Ecclesiastes 9:7), loving companionship (v. 9), and worthwhile labors (vv. 9-10).

Arthur Jackson
C.S.
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He Loves Me Most:
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TWFYT:
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Wednesday, March 13 2024

Did you turn your clocks ahead? See at 10 am DST! Come and worship! Pray for our worship time as we continue to discuss what Church is and our parts in God's Body. Note: new member installation will be in two weeks on Palm Sun. If you are interested in joining our church (all are welcome) talk to Sarah or me. That's the day of our brunch after worship too! Sign up today!

Good Morning Bright-Eyed and Bushy-Tailed Worshipers! Well, maybe some of us have to pronounce that, choose that, and pray into that on this spring-ahead Sun. But God knows, carries us and wants us to gather and worship! Rise and shine and give God the Glory! This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it! It is also the day of rest and I'm sure some of us will be napping after church today. I was up at 4 so maybe a nap before church for me? I'm praying for you and for the Holy Spirit to keep things lively during our worship time.

What an awesome morning with the Lord I had today! As always, He stirs me awake with thoughts and praises of Him and continues as I sit at His feet in my prayer closet and chew on His Word and listen to His still small voice. I'm always blessed by my time with the Lord! If you don't set aside some tome with the Lord, I urge you to do so. Start small, but start. Open His Word prayerfully. Sit with some devotionals and listen. There is no better way to start your day (or end it) then with time with God! The Pause that truly refreshes! Check out the Harvest prayer blog at the bottom speaking into this quality time with God--time well spent!

There are sorta two threads thru our devotionals today, yet, they sorta tie together too. Check them out below. Do you see the threads? How is the Holy Spirit threading them to you and your situation? What's God saying to you? Who might you process that with? And remember, we are all masterpieces of God and He is quilting us together for His purposes and glory. Amen! How might that be revealed in His teaching to you today? Spring is springing and new life is poking through the ground and budding. We can see it outside. Are you seeing it in our Body as well? Behold and worship! God is restoring the earth and us! PTL! We have stood firm through the winter. We are practicing for the hard times to come too. Keep refocusing with praise and gratitude. God is at work always and He is with us. Trust and follow well! Let the Holy Spirit fill your hearts and minds this morning and lead you into all truth and help you pray too. He is in you, ready and waiting--even in your weariness! Rejoice! Be still and know! God never sleeps! He is on the move! And He has some great custom plans for you and that can include some rest too! See you soon! Shalom!

Upper Room: Handmade Gift

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. - Psalm 118:24 (KJV)

Have you ever been given something made by hand? Perhaps someone gifted you a meal from their kitchen, a flower arrangement from their garden, or a one-of-a-kind craft. Similarly, each day

is a gift from our Creator that we can receive with gladness.

Sometimes the person receiving the gift may not always understand the time and effort required to make a handmade gift. And we may not feel like rejoicing each and every day when we are facing trials or feeling ill. But before my feet hit the floor in the morning, I practice reciting this verse: “This is the day the Lord has made, and I will rejoice and be glad in it!”

Each morning I choose to be thankful and pray that my presence will be a reflection of the light of our Creator, the maker of heaven and earth. Let us give thanks for God’s gift of today and enter each day with a spirit of rejoicing.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Creator of heaven and earth, help us to know you and to recognize the works of your hands. We will rejoice and be glad, giving thanks for the gift of each day. Amen. Our Daily Bread:

God Made Them All

How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all. Psalm 104:24

READ Psalm 104:24–35

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My three-year old son, Xavier, squeezed my hand as we entered the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. Pointing to a life-size sculpture of a humpback whale suspended from the ceiling, he said, “Enormous!” His wide-eyed joy continued as we explored each exhibit. We laughed as the otters splish-splashed during feeding time. We stood in silence in front of a large glass aquarium window, mesmerized by the golden-brown jellyfish dancing in the electric blue water. “God made every creature in the ocean,” I said, “just like He made you and me.” Xavier whispered, “Wow.”

In Psalm 104, the psalmist acknowledged God’s abounding creation and sang, “In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures” (v. 24). He declared, “There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number—living things both large and small” (v. 25). He proclaimed God’s generous and satisfying provision for all He created (vv. 27–28). He also affirmed that God has determined the days of each one’s existence (vv. 29–30).

We can join the psalmist in singing this declaration of devotion: “I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live” (v. 33). Every creature that exists, from the big to the small, can lead us to praise because God made them all.

By Xochitl Dixon

REFLECT & PRAY

When has exploring the wonderful world God made led you to praise Him? How has He used His creation to deepen your faith in His power and provision?

All-powerful Creator and Sustainer of all, You’re so worthy of all my praise!

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Psalm 104:3-30 parallels the creation account in Genesis; for instance, verses 25-26 mirror Genesis 1:20-28 and verses 27-30 pair with Genesis 1:29-31. Psalm 104:32, however, evokes the scene not at creation but when Israel gathered as “the Lord descended to the top of Mount Sinai” (Exodus 19:20). Having recounted God’s works of creation, the psalmist praises His awesome power: “He who looks at the earth, and it trembles, who touches the mountains, and they smoke” (Psalm 104:32). This matches Exodus 19:18: “The smoke billowed up from [Sinai] like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently.”

Tim Gustafson

The Word for You Today:

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Charles Stanley:

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Harvest Blog:

March 10 - Leave Space for God to Speak

Remember that a major part of prayer is listening for God to speak. We need not stress out about filling time with words when we pray (“I want to pray for thirty minutes so I’d better have enough things to talk about”). Reserve space for listening. Perhaps God will speak as you meditate on a verse of Scripture or as you wrestle over what to do in a particular situation. Maybe a thought will come to you while pausing in your prayers, and you will feel peace settling over you.

I pause often when I pray—to leave space for God to speak. Because my longest time of prayer is early in the morning, I have even started to drift off to sleep as I paused. At first, I stressed out about that and chided myself for being so weak. But then I realized I shouldn’t sweat it. Early Christian fathers described that as “spiritual drowsiness” and felt it was a good thing.

An important principle that keeps us from struggling in prayer is knowing that we can’t get it wrong, because the Holy Spirit prays what we should be praying for. “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” (Romans 8:26-27).

I don’t believe this verse teaches that we need never pray because the Holy Spirit is praying for us. Rather, I believe it means that the Holy Spirit takes our feeble attempts to pray, our bumbling words, our incoherent and wandering thoughts, and turns them into powerful prayer.

Holy Spirit, how grateful I am for Your participation in the process of prayer! When I don’t know what to say or how to say what my heart wants to express, You are there to interpret and to complete! If I am weary, or fall asleep in prayer, keep my heart in perfect peace, knowing that You are always awake! You know the mind of the Father when I can’t discern how to pray. Help me to trust that You will guide my thoughts into the path of God’s desires rather than my own. Help me to be a better listener in prayer so that I can clearly hear answers to questions I have asked or to discern the Father’s will. Strengthen my spiritual hearing so that I am able to distinguish the still, small voice that brings peace and reassurance of God’s great love.

--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 Jesus, who welcomes the weary.
  • Thank him for lifted burdens (Mt. 11:25-30).
  • Confess that the way you fill your days often ignores Jesus' offer of rest. 
  • Commit to enjoying this rest yourself and sharing it with others. 
  • Ask God for a specific way you can eliminate something from your schedule in order to create time for resting in the Lord. 
  • Pray that Christians will multiply God's infinite mercy by befriending people with disabilities, helping released prisoners find work, and sheltering refugees.

     Prayer Pointer
    “No time is so well spent in every day as that which we spend upon our knees.” J. C. Ryle

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.

My Prayer Starters:

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Wednesday, March 13 2024
Remember to spring ahead tonight! Turn clocks ahead and see you at church or on Zoom at 10 AM tomorrow!
Good Morning Zealous Servants and Followers of Jesus Christ, Our Lord AND Shepherd! Is He both Lord and Shepherd to you? Are you zealous for Him and His ways, even in reaching and discipling others? Is your excitement for your relationship with Jesus contagious? We can know and live out the joy of our salvation. That can be very contagious. Our bishop has challenged us to become a dynamic movement of God led by pastors and laity (that's you) who have a burning passion for God and a missionary zeal to reach the lost. Zealous servants. Missionary zeal. Fervent followers. Earnestness. Those are words and concepts rarely put into practice today. They seem so, well, old-fashioned. But that doesn't make them or the solid work ethic concepts out of date in God's Kingdom. In fact we are commanded to do these things. Here's the cool part, they're God's best for us and as we do them excitement, satisfaction in a life well lived in Christ and joy grow and become contagious. We are experiencing some of this at St. Matts. right now. PTL! And thank you all for doing your part in God's Good News Delivery Co. Keep it up! Check out our devos below tying to this as well. Are you excited? I am! God is really on the move. We have been faithful followers as He leads. There's much more to discover and do, but we are on our way. God is on the move! Hallelujah! 
Check out this song as you worship, pray, listen and receive today:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPB9ENSd1Xc Let's celebrate all God is doing and share that excitement! God is on the move! Jump into the ocean of blessings! Saturate in His Word and prayer. Celebrate and be glad in this day. And prepare your hearts to worship tomorrow! I'll do my best to keep it upbeat and alive since turning the clocks ahead my have some of us dragging a bit! (For me, I finally get back on schedule and may be able to sleep until 4 or 5! Hallelujah! However, I get depressed that summer heat is already here. Pray for me please!) Pray for us to rejoice and get excited to follow Jesus into His plans for us this summer. They will be great! So will your part as it's custom made for you! Rejoice and be glad in the part God made for you!
Our Daily Bread: (Check out Roams 12:9-16 and meditate on that today! Love, never be lacking in zeal, be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer (that ties to harvest prayer blog below), bless the needy and practice hospitality. Any of that sound familiar? Share the excitement!!!)

Sharing Excitement for Christ

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Romans 12:11

READ Romans 12:9–16

The first time we met our neighbor Henry, he pulled a well-worn Bible out of a bag he’d been carrying. Eyes sparkling, he asked if we’d like to discuss Scripture. We nodded, and he flipped to some highlighted passages. He showed us a notebook full of his observations and said he’d also created a computer presentation full of other related information.

Henry went on to tell us how he’d come from a difficult family situation and then, alone and at his worst, he accepted Jesus’ death and resurrection as the foundation of his faith (Acts 4:12). His life had changed as the Spirit helped him follow the Bible’s principles. Although Henry had committed his life to God years ago, his enthusiasm was fresh and powerful.

Henry’s zeal inspired me—someone who’d walked with Jesus many years—to consider my spiritual passion. The apostle Paul wrote: “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11). That seems like a tall order, unless I’m allowing Scripture to nurture the kind of attitudes that reflect an ongoing thankfulness for all that Jesus has done for me.

Unlike the emotional highs and lows we experience in life, zeal for Christ comes from an ever-expanding relationship with Him. The more we learn about Him, the more precious He becomes and the more His goodness floods our souls and spills out into the world.

By Jennifer Benson Schuldt

REFLECT & PRAY

How do you think Jesus feels when He sees that you’re excited about Him? What’s the relationship between thankfulness and zeal?

Dear Jesus, please revive my excitement over knowing You!

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Paul’s letter to the Roman churches can be divided into two parts—doctrine (chs. 1–11) and duty (chs. 12–16). The apostle instructs believers in Jesus not to conform to the pattern of this world but to live a transformed life that honors Christ (12:1-2). Romans 12:9-21 reads like the snippets of isolated sayings that we find in the book of Proverbs. But Paul is still talking about a renewed mind and a transformed life. The clearest demonstration of this is Christlike love (vv. 9-10), zealous service (vv. 11-12), and generous giving (v. 13). He tells us how we’re to relate to both believers and nonbelievers in a world of hate and revenge. Loving others—particularly enemies—is a key test of the reality of a renewed mind and a transformed life (v. 21).

K. T. Sim
The Upper Room: Something to Offer. (we are a new creation! PTL! Die to self, take up cross, shed the old, and follow Jesus to His new things His way in His timing! We all have something to offer and a part to play in His Body and Kingdom! What's yours?)jj)

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; look, new things have come into being! - 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NRSVUE)

I am a widower, and I have lived by myself for more than 10 years after 35 years of marriage to a wonderful woman. My wife had done all our cooking, so thankfully, I have discovered a salad which I really enjoy. Every day when I’m at home I make this same salad. Recently, while offering thanks to God for my salad, several insights came to mind.

My salad has the following ingredients: spinach from California, apple from Washington, tomato from Texas, avocado from Mexico, prunes from Chile, tuna from Thailand, olive oil from Greece, and lemon juice from Florida. My salad also has beautiful color, texture, taste, and nourishment. It brings together ingredients from at least four continents. Every ingredient is distinctive, and if any ingredient were absent, I would miss it immediately.

In a similar way, each person is distinctive. Each of us has something special to offer, and each of us is missed when our participation is absent. Our uniqueness means that we can offer something fresh to the world.

What freshness is God calling us to bring to the lives of those around us today?

TODAY'S PRAYER
Thank you, God, for the gift of life in all its variety and color. May we bring the freshness of your love in Jesus Christ to the world. Amen.
Charles Stanley reminds us that God is always speaking and at work. He has great plans for you that you can know and do. Seek first the Kingdom of God and listen, watch, receive, process (and with others), plan and act. What are some custom plans God has for you? Take the next step in faith and experience His faithfulness and grow in trust and joy. Don't forget to share those stories too!
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The Word for You Today. Choose the right attitude. We get to do these things that are God's best, lead to joy and soul satisfaction! How cool!
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Harvest Prayer Blog! Keep praying! That is one of the most critical parts of our Good News Delivery Co. It something we can all develop into--prayer warrior! I value the prayers that are lifted for me, Karen and our fellowship! I can feel them and we see God answering! PTL! Keep praying!
Posted by: AT 12:52 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, March 08 2024
Thank God I'm Forgiven Friday! PTL! and AMEN!
Good Morning Forgiven, Redeemed, Very Loved Always, Followers of Peace! That is and can be you/us. Who needs to know these things, reminded of their availability, or see us living these out? We are so loved! We have the assurance of our salvation, forgiveness, and eternal destination. PTL! We know the Prince of Peace. He even lives in us! PTL! We can know and follow His peace and, even in the storms, receive His peace beyond understanding. PTL! Oh what love! Yes we are very loved! PTL! And remember God is using and sending us to whoever will believe--for He so loved the world! All who will believe can know this love, assurance and peace! Amen! He's drawing some to His forgiving, redeeming, secure, shalom-filled, love and  relationship. We are commissioned to go bring this love alive to all who will believe and we all have a custom made part. PTL! Pray into and meditate on that as you spend some time with God in worship and stillness--in His shalom today. Our devos below speak into all of this. Be still, know, worship, seek and receive. Then process with some close friends. God really loves you! He has great plans for you to discover today as well! PTL! Shalom! Shalom
C.S.
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Harvest Prayer Blog and prayer starters:

March 8 - Be Found at Peace

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. (2 Peter 3:14)

I’m convinced that one of the distinguishing marks of the End-Times Church will be peace. In Peter’s second epistle he speaks of those who scoff at biblical prophecy regarding the Lord’s return. Then Peter moves into a harrowing description of what will happen: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare” (2 Peter 3:10).

These are all things that should bring great fear to those who read and believe. Yet followers of Jesus should be those who actually “look forward to the day of God” and live in peace even in the midst of chaos and confusion. It is a peace that Jesus provides for us that is not based on circumstances around us or even feelings within us. It is a peace that comes from his presence in our lives. It is a peace that allows us to walk through even extremely difficult circumstances because he is with us.

I remember my dad telling me how the troop ship he was in during World War 2, while on its way to England in a convoy, was attacked by German U-boats. Obviously there was not a thing that soldiers on a troop ship could do to defend against submarine attack. So Dad and some of his friends did the only thing they knew to do . . . they prayed. Down in the bunk rooms of the ship, they gathered on the bunks to pray and ask God’s protection. Dad said that was the only sense of peace they felt on the whole trip. Not a ship was lost and they made it safely to England.

Your fears may not be about the end-times, and likely do not deal with submarine attacks, but we all face fear and anxiety of some sort. It may be relationships in your family, it might be financial problems, or even generalized anxiety over life itself. I want you to know that Jesus is willing and ready to walk with you through your shadows and bring you to his light in peace. It doesn’t always mean that your circumstances change, but it does mean you face them from a whole different perspective. It’s the peaceful presence of Christ that makes all the difference.

Lord, I am so grateful for your presence that brings peace. It is so easy for me to fall back into my own fears, insecurities and anxieties, while all along you were there, waiting for me to turn to you. Forgive me for forgetting your readiness and love. I turn to you now for the peace that I desperately need in my walk through this world.

--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.

TWFYT:
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UR: God's Unfailing Love

In [Christ Jesus] and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. - Ephesians 3:12 (NIV)

I awoke with questions in my mind: What if my mom had not gotten sick? What is life like for her now — for my father and our whole family? What if we didn’t have to deal with this illness in the middle of a pandemic?

My mom’s first online consultation with the gastroenterologist was more than a year ago. What we thought to be a simple diagnosis of an upset stomach ended with a series of tests and medical procedures, including two biopsies. The initial biopsy suggested a benign condition. But my mom’s stomach pain persisted, and she needed another series of tests and hospitalizations. Finally, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

When my “what if” questions became long and tiring, I began to pray. I did not want to dwell on those questions which were not only unanswerable but unhealthy and unhelpful. As I began crying out to the Lord for help, suddenly I felt at peace. My heart felt the love of God and the love of my family. Daily video calls with my mom and other family members became an expression of love and devotion for one another, and I enjoyed seeing their happy faces.

God hears our cries for help and comforts us. When we pray, God will draw us closer, giving us an awareness of our Creator’s unfailing love and living hope.

ODB:

Using What God Provides

Then the Lord said to [Moses], “What is that in your hand?” Exodus 4:2

READ Exodus 4:1–5

The Brisbane City Hall in Australia was a dazzling 1920s project. White stairs boasted marble from the same quarry Michelangelo used for his David sculpture. The tower reflected Venice’s St. Mark’s Basilica, and the copper dome was the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. The builders intended for a massive Angel of Peace to adorn the pinnacle, but there was a problem: no money left. Plumber Fred Johnson came to the rescue. He used a toilet cistern, an old lamp post, and bits of scrap metal to craft the iconic orb that’s crowned the tower for nearly one hundred years.

Much like Fred Johnson and his use of what he had, we can join God’s work with whatever we have—large or small. When He asked Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt, Moses balked: “What if they do not . . . listen to me?” (Exodus 4:1) God answered with a simple question: “What is that in your hand?” (v. 2). Moses held a staff, a simple stick. God told him to throw the staff on the ground, “and it became a snake” (v. 3). Then He instructed Moses to pick up the snake, and it turned back into a staff. All Moses needed to do, God explained, was carry the staff and trust Him to do the rest. Remarkably, He would use that stick in Moses’ hand to rescue Israel from the Egyptians (7:10–12; 17:5–7).

What we have might not seem like much to us, but with God, whatever we have will be enough. He takes our ordinary resources and uses them for His work.

By Winn Collier

REFLECT & PRAY

What small thing can you use for God? Why is it vital that you trust Him with it?

Dear God, I surrender what I have to You.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

In Exodus 3–4, Moses’ humanity is on full display. This great prophet of God is also a human being we can relate to. In fear, he refuses to accept God’s commission to lead His people out of slavery. This occurs even as God performs miracles in Moses’ presence—the bush unconsumed by fire (3:1-3) and his staff turning into a snake (4:3). When Moses’ staff becomes a serpent, he reacts as most of us would: “he ran from it” (v. 3). He did, however, show courage and faith when he grabbed the snake by the tail (v. 4). The safest way to hold a venomous snake (don’t do it!) is behind the head, preventing it from striking. The power wasn’t in Moses’ staff, nor was it in himself. The power was in the God of Israel, who was infinitely greater than the gods of Egypt, including the snake.

Tim Gustafson

Posted by: AT 12:26 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, March 08 2024

Good Morning Guided, Secure, Child-Like, Followers of Jesus! Thank You Lord! May we grow in this as we humble ourselves and offer ourselves to You for Your will to be done in, through, and around us and for Your glory. May we yoke to Jesus well and be part of His team and plans today. Amen! 

God is speaking and wanting to direct your steps all the time. Are you attentive? Willing? Obedient? Yoked to Jesus? God has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us. PTL! Where's He steering you today? What is He revealing to do, correct, or wait for? God created you and placed you right where He wants you for such a time as this. Trust Him and ask for help to follow well. Check out Charles Stanley's devo below about obeying God's promptings. Be still, know, hear, receive, process and follow well today!

Maybe you are in troubling times, or find what God has for you today a bit troubling. Are you shrinking back? Caving in? Giving up? Stop it! Be still. Lift some redirecting praise. Run to your High Tower! Allow Him to shelter, protect and lead you today. Check out Our Daily Bread below. God is our refuge. Maybe the Holy Spirit is leading you to go as His agent of comfort, redirection, or help to someone mired deep in the muck of life--DO IT! He is you Helper, Refuge and Strength!

Many of us are very many season past our childhood. Remember what it was like? Remember the zeal and fresh faith life and action when you first came to saving faith? That is still available to us. PTL! In fact, Jesus reminds us through the Upper Room today that we can still choose childlike faith. It is available. And it is very beneficial and actually crucial to choose that always! It's just plain old simple faith--believing God for everything and that He is able and will respond well. Childlike faith overpowers any fears, doubts, concerns and hindrances we face each day. It's the faith of the Little Train that Could...I know I can. I know I can by the grace of God! God carries us through or over the deep waters ahead. Climb on His lap and receive His love today! Believe and receive His help today as you take each baby step in faith like a child. I envision skipping along God's path for me today singing with joy and thanksgiving knowing He is with me leading me, and that He's already overcoming what ever I will face and providing all I need. Come Lord! Your will be done! I believe! I trust You. Fa-a-la-la-la... Thanks! Amen!

Check out The Word for You Today as well below. We are promised the abundant life in Christ. There is nothing like living the dream for real, in Christ. What joy we can know and enjoy--contagious joy! What peace we can experience as we abide in Christ and His love, peace and the joy of our salvation. Satisfaction and joy grow as we abide, follow and allow God to use us each step of the way through life. Nothing else satisfies like the good fruit produced by childlike faith and action! And it feeds on itself and grows. Part of that is asking and allowing the Holy Spirit to fill, guide and use you each day. It comes alive as you ask Jesus to be the Lord of this day and of your choices and as you go. Faith keeps growing and so does good fruit as you do! Maybe praying the Serenity Prayer daily will help you start off with a right focus as you die to self, prepare your heart, ask Jesus to be Lord and then follow with childlike faith looking for where He is at work and joining Him. Great fruit is in reach as you do! Amen! That is the abundant life we are promised and it is not dependent upon our circumstances or seasons of life. Fa-a-la-la-la PTL!

At the bottom is the Harvest Prayer blog about unity and some prayer starters. We are in this together. God's best is for us to partner together as we travel through this life. He even desires for churches to work together too. Keep praying into that for you and us. How does God want to grow more small groups and house or neighborhood gatherings? How does He want us to partner with other churches and ministries? Who is He raising up and stirring to lead some of these? Which others is He leading us to partner with--even other churches and ministries? God is in the revival business and as we go and grow with others, we will see more of that developing and producing good fruit. It has that snowball rolling down a hill effect too! Share what you are hearing with Sarah, Mike and me too so we can pray and help. God is on the move! Revival is at hand! Let us be committed to our parts in that! Amen! Yesterday we gave bread to 53 people. Some of our bread ministry gals are from other churches. Half of the 18 that gathered last night for dinner and huddle are not members of our church. PTL! God has already begun! Seek Him for what's next. Thanks! 

He really does have some great plans for each of us and us together to discover, process, prepare for, and to do. We all have our custom parts in His Good News Delivery Co. and no part is any less important. Each of you are known, loved, matter and are created and placed here for such a time as this! PTL! Be still, know and follow well and dwell in His shalom and joy today with childlike faith as you skip merrily along His way! Fa-a-la-la-la! Amen!

C.S.

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ODB:

God Our Refuge

The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. Proverbs 18:10

READ Proverbs 18:10–12

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The remarkable 2019 movie Little Women sent me back to my worn copy of the novel, especially the comforting words of Marmee, the wise and gentle mother. I’m drawn to the novel’s depiction of her steadfast faith, which underlies many of her words of encouragement to her daughters. One that stood out to me was this: “Troubles and temptations . . . may be many, but you can overcome and outlive them all if you learn to feel the strength and tenderness of your heavenly Father.” 

Marmee’s words echo the truth found in Proverbs that “the name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (18:10). Towers were built in ancient cities to be places of safety during danger, perhaps because of an enemy attack. In the same way, it’s through running to God that believers in Jesus can experience peace in the care of the One who’s “our refuge and strength” (Psalm 46:1).

Proverbs 18:10 tells us protection comes from God’s “name”—which refers to all of who He is. Scripture describes God as “the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6). God’s protection comes from His mighty strength, as well as His tenderness and love, which causes Him to long to provide refuge to the hurting. For all who are struggling, our heavenly Father offers a place of refuge in His strength and tenderness.

By Lisa M. Samra

REFLECT & PRAY

How have you experienced God’s strength in times of trouble? Where have you seen His comforting care?

Heavenly Father, please help me to run to You in both good times and times of struggle.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

The Hebrew word saghav is used twenty times in the Old Testament, and except for one occurrence in Deuteronomy 2:36, it’s only found in poetry passages. It occurs three times in the book of Proverbs (18:10, 11; 29:25). The word is rendered “safe” in Proverbs 18:10 and “too high to scale” in verse 11. It means “high,” “lofty,” “inaccessibly high”; something or someone who is safe, secure, out of reach.

Furthermore, the word fortified is used in Proverbs 18:10 and 11. “Might” or “strength” is what’s in view—physical, material, social, political. The contrast in these verses is between those who find their refuge in God and those who find security in possessions. In Psalm 20:7, David declares where our allegiance should be: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”

Arthur Jackson

UR: Childlike Faith

Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” - Mark 10:15 (NIV)

Eli was four years old and learning to swim. He could cross the shallow end of the pool with ease, but he had been afraid of swimming across the deep end. Then in one swim lesson, Eli did it.

As we were walking up to the house, I encouraged him about his monumental accomplishment. I asked him, “How did you do it?” Without hesitation, Eli said, “God helped me.” I thought, If only my first thought would be, “God helped me,” when I face huge challenges in my life! Where would I be in my walk with God?

Jesus loved children for their simple faith. They were willing to climb up into his arms and rest, knowing that Jesus loved and protected them. God’s power is made perfect in childlike faith. David demonstrated childlike faith when he used a stone from the creek to slay Goliath. (See 1 Sam. 17.) The stones weren’t magical, but David’s faith in God overpowered the giant.

The next time we face overwhelming fear, I pray we have the childlike faith to cross the deep end and entrust ourselves to God. God will help us!

TODAY'S PRAYER

Dear God, whenever we are afraid, help us to trust you with childlike faith. Amen.TWFYT:

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Harvest Prayer Blog and Starters:

March 7 - A Canopy of God’s Blessing

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore. (Psalm 133) 

Can you imagine what it would be like for your entire community to be under a canopy of God’s blessing? It’s hard to imagine; isn’t it? I read the incredible firsthand account of the 1949 – 1952 Hebrides Revival. For three years, God’s tangible presence was known throughout the island of Lewis. Simply put, virtually all the people were either experiencing the conviction of the Lord or the joy of the Lord. What would happen if God commanded a blessing on our unity that resulted in the tangible presence of the Holy Spirit resting upon our communities? Let’s ask! 

Lord Jesus, today I come pleading with you for a work of grace upon our community. I see the devastating results of the curse of sin and death. My city needs to see the blessing of God’s Spirit resting over our area as a tent over a family. Your Word promises a commanded blessing on brothers and sisters as we walk in unity. We need a sovereign breakthrough. Break off our petty divisions. Unearth our fallow ground. Resurrect our broken unity. Send forth your power and might to heal our land. You are our living hope! Bring unprecedented unity in my life, family, neighborhood, church, city, state, nation, and world. Root this work in your transforming work on the cross. Let the oil of the Holy Spirit drip down over your Body in our area. Make us a beautiful reflection of a blessed land. Be exalted here. Humble us in the lifting up of your mighty name. Use me as an ambassador of unity. I ask for a work of peace and healing to be wrought today in our town. We need you. We are desperate for what only you can do! We trust you today for this work of love in our community.

--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

  • Pray for any persons you know who are dying spiritually.
  • Pray for opportunities to invite them to the sumptuous wedding banquet of the king (Mt. 22:2-10).
  • Praise God, who fills you with rich spiritual food (Isa. 55:2).
  • Thank God for not allowing you to go hungry for spiritual nourishment.
  • Confess any craving you may have for things which are not spiritually satisfying (55:2).
  • Commit yourself to daily feeding on Jesus, the living bread (Jn. 6:51).
  • Ask God to instill in you a hunger for the Word of Life.
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend. 

Posted by: AT 12:25 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, March 08 2024

Good Morning Becoming More Like Jesus Children and Servants of the Most High God! We are saved by fait and this is a gift and act of great grace and mercy of God! PTL! We are created in God's image for His purposes. We are made new in Christ when we receive the gift of salvation. We get the Holy Spirit in us and he brings gifts to help us to grow to our fullest potential and He empowers us to go share the Gospel and bring Good News as we go do the things we are created to do. How blessed are we? Tell God today all about your thankfulness, your dreams about His plans for you, your struggles, and your willingness to repent, correct, grow and follow Him. Then receive His shalom, wisdom, and directions with right and willing hearts, hands and feet. The next step is to allow the Holy Spirit to lead you to the next step. then take it in faith. What's God saying to you? What's His plan for you today? What will you do about it? He is at work all around you and has some very good plans awaiting your discovery and right heart. Come and see! The more you abandon your old nature and step into your new, the more peace you will know too. Know Christ and know peace. Know Christ and make Him known is the EC mission statement. It's both and. We are created for a purpose. We matter. God has custom plans for each of us and we grow in peace and receive many blessings as we go bless and fulfill our purposes.

Check out Our Daily Bread below about doing good. Are you a do gooder? That often has a bad rap in this world. But not in God's. That is part of our created purpose. Love God, others, serve in love, make disciples and enjoy this life. That is Jesus' easy yoke. And the more focused we are on that, the more joy and satisfaction we will find in this life. Are you good-works ready? Prepare your heart right now!

The Upper Room asks an important question: If you knew you had 40 days to live, what would you choose to do? For me, that would be to be more earnest about being about my Father's business and loving on others. Their premise is: why aren't we doing that all the time? They talk about Lent (one of those man-made holidays moving us to do something we should be doing already all the time) They ask what you are giving up. My thought is the better question: What are you giving? How about starting with yourself, your heart, your gratitude, your availability? Yes giving up sin is critical in being prepared to be used by God. But confession and repentance should be a daily thing as we die to self, take up cross daily (crucifying our sins) and following Jesus. As should being about our Father and His business. Put off that old nature more fully today and step into your new one more fully as you work on becoming more like Jesus. (I hesitate to share the UR because it feels legalistic to me. But it may be profitable to remind us of our daily call to crucify self.)

The Word for You Today a two day teaching on moving from failure to success. We are all failures. We all fall short of God's standards. Yet, we are forgiven, cleansed and purified as we confess and repent or begin the journey of repentance. PTL for His grace, mercy and forgiveness and for using us as we are and growing us to our fuller potential. He wants us to succeed and He helps if we seek him, humble ourselves and allow Him to. Keep persevering in faith. Keep striving towards Christlikeness and your fullest potential. Aim high! Aspire to the big things God has for you as you take each step of faith and do the little things along the way. No matter how dire things may appear, we know what lies ahead--victory in Jesus and eternal life with Him. This life is preparation for the next. It's promised that we will encounter very hard times before we get there. Those hard times produce character, grow faith and mold us into God's masterpieces and harvesting machines. He does really love you and have great custom made things for you! rejoice. Stand firm! Journey forward in Christ today! And find some allies to journey with! We are better together! And we are more than overcomers! Amen!

Come join us tonight as we feast, fellowship, study, pray and grow in our journey. And/or find some friends and do the same. We are an Acts 2:42 church growing in Christ and doing more of His plans His way. come and see! Come and experience how much fun it is to partner with others as we grow and go love! I'm praying for you and us! Ask God who He may want you to bring along! Pray for our Bread Ministry today and for us to connect to those God is sending and that they would feel and want to know more about His love. Thanks! Shalom!

ODB:

Doing Good for God

Remind the people . . . to be ready to do whatever is good. Titus 3:1

READ Titus 3:4–8

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Though he didn’t normally carry money with him, Patrick sensed God was leading him to tuck a five-dollar bill in his pocket before leaving home. During the lunch hour at the school where he worked, he understood how God had prepared him to meet an urgent need. In the midst of the lunchroom buzz, he heard these words: “Scotty [a child in need] needs $5 to put on his account so he can eat lunch for the rest of the week.” Imagine the emotions Patrick experienced as he gave his money to help Scotty!

In Titus, Paul reminded believers in Jesus that they weren’t saved “because of righteous things [they] had done” (3:5), but they should “be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good” (v. 8; see v. 14). Life can be full, extremely busy, and hectic. Attending to our own well-being can be overwhelming. Yet, as believers in Jesus, we’re to be “good-works ready.” Rather than being overwhelmed by what we don’t have and can’t do, let’s think about what we do have and can do as God helps us. In doing so, we get to help others at the point of their needs, and God is honored. “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

By Arthur Jackson

REFLECT & PRAY

What can hinder good-works readiness in your life? How can you reorder your life to be available for helping people who are in need?

Dear Father, please forgive me for the times I’ve ignored opportunities to do good. Help me to be more available to help others.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Titus, Paul’s gentile convert and protégé (Galatians 2:1), traveled with him on his missionary journeys (Titus 1:4). Paul had left him in Crete to strengthen the church (v. 5)—to teach believers how to live lives that honored Jesus, to set standards for leadership (ch. 1), and to encourage Christ-honoring and gracious behaviors within the church family and the unbelieving community (chs. 2–3). Paul reminds us that “[God] saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy” (3:5). We’re “justified by his grace” (v. 7). We’re not saved by our good works, but we’re saved so we can do good works. Believers in Jesus must “be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good” (v. 8). We’re reminded that as “a people that are [God’s] very own,” we must be “eager to do what is good” (2:14).

K. T. Sim

UR: Let God In

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. - Matthew 4:1 (NIV)

What are you giving up for Lent? I know I am supposed to give up something in order to reflect on Jesus’ 40 days in the desert and to prepare for the commemoration of Jesus’ death and resurrection. My immediate answer for way too many years has been “chocolate” and “playing pickleball.” But if I knew I was going to die in 40 days, giving up food and fun would not make the list at all! So, what would I give up?

I’d give up wasting time. I would focus on all the people I haven’t seen or talked to enough and tell them how much they mean to me.

I’d give up trying to tell my grandkids what to do! Instead, I would write down my life’s story — hopefully to leave answers to questions they will surely have after I am gone.

I’d give up harbored anger, resentment, and frustration over my failures, the relationships that turned out badly, and the opportunities I ignored.

I’d give it all up to let God in — not just for Lent or 40 days, but from this day forward. Let us renew our commitment to follow Jesus’ example of obedience as we seek fullness of life in God.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Dear God, help us to appreciate the sacrifice Jesus made for us. Give us the courage to follow his leading toward wholeness of life. Amen.TWFYT:

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Harvest Prayer Blog and Prayer Starters:

March 6 - Walk in the Peace of Christ

Whether you have been following Christ for years or are just coming to faith, listen to how the Apostle Paul sums up the gospel.

“Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-5)

This is the gospel of peace that Jesus preached to both Jews and Gentiles. It is still being preached to each of us today. Walking in the truth of the gospel means walking in the peace of Christ. It is a big part of what it means to live the Christian life. We should have a firm expectation of his peace guarding our hearts each day.

Spend time today praying over the gospel. Thank the Lord for what he has done for you and accept his peace fully into your life.

Lord Jesus Christ, thank You for preaching Your gospel over my life day by day. Make me more aware of Your life-giving salvation message than ever before as I keep it continually at the forefront of all that I do and say. May it be all that I am, inform everything I think and be passed on to each person I encounter in my life. Because of Your sacrifice on the cross, I can live in complete peace, and my heart is continually grateful!

--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, who is majestic in holiness (Ex. 15:11).
  • Give thanks for the privilege of sharing in his holiness (Heb. 12:10).
  • Confess any impure thoughts or actions that remain unconfessed. 
  • Commit yourself anew to living the holy life that God has called you to live (1 Thess. 4:7).
  • Ask God to impress upon you the vision of Isaiah: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory (Isa. 6:3).
  • Holiness in life is mocked by much of our modern culture. Pray that this attribute of God will become an abiding characteristic of his kingdom here on earth. 
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend. 
Posted by: AT 12:25 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, March 08 2024

Zoom Huddle today at 10. All welcome! And/ or join us for our dinner huddle with Family Ministries and Adults tomorrow evening at 6. (I was told E.C. stands for eating constantly! Come and join us for food, fellowship, study and prayer as found in Acts 2:42.) Pray for more "around the table" ministry opportunities for our Church and new ways to do that outside the church this summer.

Visited The Sosa's yesterday and Amber and Arianna are mending and in good spirits. Pray for continued healing and for provision and guidance for another car today. They appreciate our prayers!

Visited Glad Ketner yesterday. She continues to improve from her stroke and is happy and doing well. She still sometimes struggles with words but is filled with joy. Pray for continued healing and send a card or stop by and visit.

Stopped to pray with Houstin and Gail Lichtenwalner. Houstin injured his leg getting off some farm equipment and will be out of commission for awhile and may need surgery for a possible ham string tear. Pray for God's presence, provision, favor to see docs soon, and patience in the process. Pray for Gail as she has to cover the things Houstin did on the farm. Pray for health and strength and wisdom for the family.

Please continue to pray for the Henley family as they continue the fresh and challenging journey through grief at the lose before Christmas of their two year old son and grandson. Karen and I were able to spend some time with them the other day. This is a very difficult journey. May they know God's shalom, presence and strength and draw close to Him.

PTL my sister Connie is still at home and recovering from her breathing issues.

PTL Sarah should be getting her van back from the shop soon and be able to get out and about again.

PTL that I continue to heal and have good numbers. Pray for my A-Fib to correct on its' own and for docs to be amazed at what God is doing. Thanks.

PTL for all those He is sending to our fellowship and for all the caring ministries that are touching our neighbors and friends and drawing them to Jesus. Pray for His love to continue to come alive through us, His provision to bless and for some new connection points to those He is drawing. Pray for boldness to share some help and Good News and to invite others to join us. (Remember in Dec. when we prayed for us to see those to invite and the thought that if we added one person a month to our gatherings, in a year we would have 12 new members. PTL that we are already well on our way to doubling that! Keep at it! Each of those new faces have come from an invite through our ministry connections.)

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Good Morning Cradled in the Arms of Jesus, Comforted, Strengthened, Standing on the Rock, Faithful Followers of Jesus! Oh may that be us, be me, Lord! Come! Comfort! Strengthen! Redirect! Help! Be our Fortress! Hold us and shelter us under Your wings! Empower us to carry on through the storms, trials, testing, and attacks! Cover and protect us! Deliver us! Keep our minds fixed on You! Use us, even in our weakness, to be strong and for others and to bring Your comfort and joy--Your shalom! Come! Fill us! Use us! Give us Your heart and mind and help to go love like Jesus. Or to choose to dwell in Your love for a few minutes, as we are able, and grow that time with you. Come! We love You! We need You--every hour! Come! Amen!

Our experiences the past week have ranged from highs to lows, mountain tops, to deep canyons and every where in between. Sometimes up and down drastically within in minutes even. BUT GOD! He IS always there and available even when we don't sense it or push Him away or ignore Him. He is singing over you and whispering His love to you. Stop. Be still and know that He is Love and He is wanting to love on you right now. He inhabits our praise. That's a truth! Sometimes we have to choose to praise. Keep building those gratitude lists for the hard times to have as starting point to redirect us as we choose to praise in the storm. Sometimes we need the reminder and help of others to start looking for the silver linings and things to be thankful about even though we feel far from thankful or like praising. Start by asking God for help and direction for who He is bringing to mind today for you to reach out and love on. Or maybe you need to stop and cry out for help. Ask for boldness and courage and humility to seek some help. Where is God wanting and needing to show His love, comfort and peace today? Who is He sending to you or you to? Do you need help to receive it? Courage and wisdom to share it? Ask and receive. Keep knocking and keep redirecting from the highs and lows with praise. Sometimes we even need to force ourselves to half-heartedly start to praise. That's OK. Starting leads you further along in the journey out of the pit and helps your mind to become accustomed to choosing joy in the hardest places. Jesus is our Rock. We need to prepare for the promised harder and harder times to come. Start preparing and practicing today. God will always be with His faithful servants. Holding us tight. Keep your hands open and reaching for Him! Ask Him for help to take that next step of faith with Him. Consider joining our Zoom huddle today at 10 as we discuss this further.

Check out our devos for today below. They really led to this and thread through what God wants us to understand and put into practice today. We are more than hearers. Right? What might He be leading you to today? What will you do about it? Who will you come alongside to journey with? God's got some custom things for you to receive and build upon today! Thank Him and come to Him you weary ones and find rest and shalom as you go about this day. Pronounce that this is the day and year of the Lord's favor and pray for that in confidence. May His favor lead you as His love and shalom overpower you today! He's right beside you whispering His love over you. Be still and know! Then go and love more like Jesus today--one step of faith at a time. Amen! The world around you may be falling apart or in shambles and even this nation is sinking deeper in the pit...BUT GOD! He knows already and has prepared you for such a time as this! He's even preparing you for the greater things to come. PTL! Be bold and courageous and stand firm as we follow Him into the Promised Land. Amen!

ODB:

God’s Greater Power

The Lord said, . . . I have given you victory over them! Judges 7:9 nlt

READ Judges 7:7–8, 16–22

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

In March 1945, the “Ghost Army” helped US forces achieve the Rhine River crossing—giving the allies a vital base to operate from on World War II’s Western Front. The soldiers were most definitely human, not apparitions, all part of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops. On this occasion, the 1,100-man team imitated 30,000 men by using inflatable decoy tanks, blasting troop and vehicle sound effects over speakers, and more. The relatively small number of Ghost Army members led the enemy to fear what appeared to be a far greater force.

The Midianites and their allies also trembled before a tiny army that loomed large in the night (Judges 7:8–22). Gideon, a judge and military leader of Israel, was used by God to make his puny army a source of terror for the enemy. They also used sound effects (blown trumpets, smashed clay jars, human voices) and visible objects (blazing torches) to make the vast enemy—as “thick as locusts” (v. 12)—believe they were facing a colossal foe. Israel defeated their enemy that night with an army whittled down from 32,000 men to just 300 by God’s command (vv. 2–8). Why? Because that made it clear who truly won the battle. As God told Gideon, “I have given you victory over them!” (v. 9 nlt).

When we feel weak and inferior, let’s seek God and rest in His strength alone. For His “power is made perfect in [our] weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

By Tom Felten

REFLECT & PRAY

What big foes or challenges are you facing? How can you rest in God’s power as you confront them?

Dear Jesus, let me find Your strength in my weakness.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

The historical setting for the book of Judges lies in the period between the books of Joshua and Samuel. During the time of the judges, God’s great power was manifested through unlikely people who found themselves in difficult situations because of their covenant unfaithfulness. Several judges are listed among the faith exemplars in Hebrews 11: “What more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah . . . who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised” (vv. 32-33).

Arthur Jackson

UR:  My Rock and My Fortress

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer. - Psalm 18:2 (NIV)

After graduation, I was looking forward to my dream job of joining the Defense Force to serve my nation. Unfortunately, I did not get a good enough score to be eligible. So I pursued my master’s degree and became eligible to take the entrance exam — it felt like my last chance to make or break my dream career.

My family and I prayed for my interview and other tests, asking that I would be selected for a job. With God’s grace, I was selected.

During training, I started to lose hope that I would make it through. But God comforted me with confidence and strength to overcome my situation. Against the odds, I made it through, bringing joy to me, my family, and my community.

God never leaves us in our struggles. When we depend on God, our rock and strong fortress, we find the hope and perseverance to wait patiently on God’s deliverance.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Faithful God, thank you for the ways you comfort and guide us through our struggles. Give us hope and patience as we trust in your will for our lives. Amen.

Dave Butts Harvest Prayer Blog:

JUST LIKE US

by Dave Butts

James gives us some very important teaching on prayer in James 5:13-18: 

“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

Elijah was a human being, even as we are. 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.”

We are told that whatever we are facing…good or bad, we should pray. Good advice. The problem in the text is that the example given of a man of prayer is that of Elijah. However, Elijah, in our eyes, seems to be this amazing man of prayer.  How can we be like him?

 James, inspired by God, says Elijah was a human being, just like us. He was simply a normal person with no special dispensation from God.

So let’s look at a summary of the obedience of Elijah’s prayer life:

·         I Kings 17:1: Rain did not fall in Israel for several years – “Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, ‘As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.’”

·        I Kings 17:7-16: A widow and her son did not starve – “For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah” (v. 16).

·        I Kings 17:17-24: The widow’s son was raised from the dead – “The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived” (v. 22).

·        I Kings 18:16-40: Elijah called on the Lord and was victorious over the prophets of Baal on Mt Carmel – “Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire – he is God” (v. 24).

·        I Kings 18:41-46: Rain falls from heaven – “And Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain’” (v. 41).

Elijah, because of his obedience, had an amazing response to his prayers. And Scripture says that Elijah was a person just like us? How can this be?

We can see the answer to this question when suddenly everything changes for Elijah in I Kings 19:

·        He became fearful: “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life” (v. 3).

·        He was depressed and discouraged: “…he came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die” (v. 4)

·        Elijah, mistaken about what was going on, was filled with self-pity: “I am the only one left and now they are trying to kill me too” (v. 14).

We can all tend to be like this side of Elijah from time to time – fearful, wanting suffering to end, mistaken about what is happening, and filled with self-pity. We can do that!

Here’s my point. Elijah was a flawed man. He had great successes and some failures too. In spite of some amazing answers to prayer, his life was not easy. The purpose of prayer is not to make life easy.

 As Elijah learned, when we commit to obeying God and serving Him in prayer, we become an integral part of the purposes of God on planet earth.  Elijah got in on some really good stuff, because he prayed.  And we can too!  As a matter of fact, I will tell you bluntly that God has made us for this.

 To pray like Elijah means:

1.    Praying prayers that are focused on God’s purposes.

2.    Praying prayers that are filled with faith.

3.    Praying prayers that involve acts of obedience.

 Our job is to pray as Elijah did…with focus, faith, and obedience so that God will receive glory. The final result always rests in God’s capable hands.

Harvest Prayer starters:

Prayer Points

  • Praise God for his comfort.
  • Thank God that he holds you close and calls you his child.
  • Confess those times when you have rejected God’s love.
  • Commit yourself to seeking God’s comfort through the people in the church and his Word.
  • Ask him to deliver you from your desire to handle your pain alone.
  • Pray that the members of your congregation will reach out in ways which comfort those who are disheartened, discouraged, and depressed. 
     
    Prayer Pointer
    “Far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you.” —1 Samuel 12:23
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend. 
Posted by: AT 12:24 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, March 08 2024

Updates: Installation of new members has been postponed for a few weeks due to illnesses and injuries. 

The Muik's (Chris and Yvonne) have been battling COVID and sickness for over a week. Please continue to pray for them. 

The Sosa's will be home as Amber and Ariana begin healing from broken sternums from their head-on crash. Pray for healing and comfort and shalom for the whole family. Pray for God's provision as their only car is totaled. All five were to be part of today's new member's group.

Darlene Skinner continues to recover from spine surgery. Please pray for healing and patience in the process and for shalom for the family.

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Good Morning Light, Joy, and Peace Bringers! We are children of the Light and we get to know and share love, joy and peace. Amen! We live in very chaotic times and are living through tests and trials of faith and often very hard times. BUT GOD! He specializes in bringing shalom to the chaos and often uses us as we choose joy and peace and allow His love to come alive in and through us. Check out the Upper Room and Harvest Prayer Blogs below and sit at Jesus' feet, choosing and receiving His love, peace, joy and wisdom and courage to share them.

Begin this day with choosing joy and lifting praise. Maybe you need to dig out that gratitude list to help you start with refocusing praise. Jesus is the Light and the Joy of our salvation. Rejoice! He is always with us! He is our Shepherd and we can know and hear His voice and follow Him through every valley. He calms the storms and shelters us under His wings. He is our Rock and Strong Tower. He is the Prince of Peace! And He loves you! Yes rejoice! Know His peace beyond understanding. Abide in His Love!

See you all soon as we gather to worship in person and on Zoom at 10. Pray as I message the service for today. What's Church? You and we are the Church! See you in the building where we gather or on the airwaves as we gather to worship, pray, praise, study God's Word and encourage each other. Prepare your hearts to enter His courts with praise and thanksgiving! yes, REJOICE!

UR: God of Light

Let the righteous be joyful; let them exult before God; let them be jubilant with joy. - Psalm 68:3 (NRSVUE)

I stared at the calendar, and my heart sank. Years before, on the first day of spring, my son had died unexpectedly. This year the anniversary of his death fell on a Sunday, and although I wanted to stay home, God urged me to go to church. During the children’s time in the worship service, the leader used a flashlight to teach the children about sharing Jesus’ light with others. Memories of my son in Sunday school came flooding back.

As the children left the sanctuary, one little boy skipped toward the door shouting, “This will be amazing!” After a few giggles, the congregation turned their attention back to the pastor; but I kept thinking about the boy. Through the excitement in his voice and spring in his step, the light of Jesus spread into my heart.

It’ s sometimes easy for despair to douse the light of Jesus. I had arrived at church feeling low. However, God helped me realize that sharing the light of Christ with others is a way of honoring my son. On my walk that afternoon, birds sang and flowers bloomed. I collected empty cans in the road to recycle as my son would have done. Shining through dense, gray clouds were streams of sunlight. The little boy was right; this day was amazing!

TODAY'S PRAYER

God of light, we thank you. Continue to illuminate our hearts and brighten our spirits. Help us to serve you better. In your Son Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Harvest Prayer Blog and prayer starters:

March 3 - Peace and the Gospel

He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. (Ephesians 2:17)

“Jesus preached the gospel of peace and those who responded received His peace. That wasn’t just a first century phenomenon but has been the case through the centuries. The great English preacher and revivalist John Wesley experienced people responding to his preaching by receiving the peace of Christ.

To Wesley’s surprise, he began to experience the Holy Spirit powerfully convicting people of sins while he preached. Well-dressed, mature people suddenly cried out as if in the agonies of death. Both men and women, outside and inside the church buildings, would tremble and sink to the ground. When Wesley stopped and prayed for them, they soon found PEACE and rejoiced in Christ.”—Wesley Duewel, Revival Fire, p.77

Focus in prayer on these three areas in light of Wesley’s experience:

1. Hearing the truth of the gospel.
2. Conviction of sin through the work of the Holy Spirit.
3. Peace through the acceptance of and obedience to the gospel.

Spend some time praying over and affirming each of these points. Watch as the peace of Christ begins to change your emotions and thoughts.

Lord Jesus, thank you for preaching the gospel of peace. You knew how much we would need that in our lives. You have provided for us through your life, death, burial, and resurrection all that we need for peace in this world and forever in your eternal house. Forgive me when I forget what you have provided and wallow in anxiety and fear. Today, I choose the peace that comes from your presence in my life.

--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, whose kindness toward you will last forever and ever.
  • Thank God for loving you with an everlasting love and drawing you with lovingkindess (Jer. 31:3).
  • Confess any ways in which you have not reflected that kindness to others.
  • Commit yourself to considering God's kindness to you (Rom. 11:22).
  • Ask God to  clothe you with compassion, kindness, and humility (Col. 3:12).
  • Pray that your neighborhood may see the kindess, compassion, and forgiveness of God in the way the members of your congregation treat each other and outsiders.
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend. This book is available at prayershop.org
Posted by: AT 12:23 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, March 08 2024

See Sarah's prayer email from last evening below.

Don't forget all are welcome to Zoom Huddle tomorrow at 10

And to Family Ministry/Adult Dinner Huddle Wed. at 6.

Come and See!

Good Morning Custom Masterpieces of God! That is you! Say it! Pronounce Eph. 2:10 over yourself and our church this morning...I am God's Masterpiece. Made new, gifted, and empowered in Christ. To do the good works He made me to do. AMEN! Right there is our purpose and mission! We matter! We are secure in Christ as we come to Him in saving faith and He loves us so much that He fills us with His love, Holy Spirit, and the gifts, abilities and power to accomplish what He created us to do. PTL! Rejoice. Meditate on that this morning as you dwell in His loving presence and receive His love, joy, peace, and directions for today. This is the day He made and He made you for today. Rejoice and follow well.

So, some of you may be wondering why this is coming so late. You know 10:00am is my normal lunch time. I am healthy and fine. Remember, these may not be everyday blogs, although God seems to have them be so. So if you don't see one. Pray and place me in God's hands. I'll be fine. I'm allowing Jesus to be my Lord and Shepherd and following His lead. Today, as in most days, I awoke at 3 am. But felt tired yet as we had a late bed time last night. I sat on my chair and asked Jesus to be the Lord of this day like I usually do while my coffee brews. I felt the nudge to return to bed. So I did and my Lord allowed me some very healthy sleep until almost 7:30. It's really weird to awake when the sun is up. I really do like practicing Jesus' way of rising early and spending extra time with our Abba. So here I am three hours later starting this blog. What an awesome, loving, prayer-answering God we know and love. His plans and ways are not ours but always are worked together for good and according to His will. He's the Master--King of the Universe, Creator and Sustainer, Helper and Friend of Sinners like us! PTL! Ask Him to be the Lord of your day and to use you and then watch for what He wants you to join in with along the way. He has some great custom made plans for custom made you today. Rejoice. Be glad and follow well! Amen!

I do have much I believe God wants me to accomplish today. And now I am on His schedule. Can't wait to see what He does today! Check out our devos below for today. What's God saying to you? What might He have planned? Who might He have for you to come alongside or partner with? Who does He desire for you to call or visit and encourage, maybe even with a card? No matter what He has planned for you and our Church today, we know it is filtered through His hands and will lead to His good and perfect will being done in His timing. (Maybe even so very hard and stretching things) So keep seeking, sitting at His feet and moving your feet with Him to the next step of faith He has for you. And know His love and peace beyond understanding as you choose joy and grow in faith. Become More in '24! (With Him in the driver's seat). Live and love more like Jesus. Be more of the person He created you to be. Do more of what He has planned for you more in His way. Be still more and know Him more better! Receive more love, wisdom, hope, and help. He really does love you! And He is with you always. Rejoice! You are His Masterpiece, made new and being renewed in Christ for the purposes He made and has gifted and empowered you to accomplish--BIG and small things all along the way for His glory and your growth in Christ and for the good of others. Yes, rejoice and be glad in this day. 

God just brought to mind our summer teaching through Ecclesiastes and Solomon, the teacher's, charge to children of God: Love God and enjoy life. Meditate on that today! Turn off the noise and dwell in Chris's love today and have a very blessed day! Amen! God is lovingly preparing and leading us to our fuller potential and His greater things. Hang on and follow more better! :)

ODB:

Jesus Dwells Within

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts. Ephesians 3:17 nlt

READ Ephesians 3:14–20

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

As a blizzard bore down on my state in the western United States, my widowed mother agreed to stay with my family to “ride out” the storm. After the blizzard, however, she never returned to her house. She moved in, dwelling with us for the rest of her life. Her presence changed our household in many positive ways. She was available daily to provide wisdom, advice to family members, and share ancestral stories. She and my husband became the best of friends, sharing a similar sense of humor and love of sports. No longer a visitor, she was a permanent and vital resident—forever changing our hearts even after God called her home.

The experience recalls John’s description of Jesus—that He “dwelt among us” (John 1:14 kjv). It’s a compelling description because in the original Greek the word dwelt means “to pitch a tent.” Another translation says, He “made his home among us” (nlt).

By faith, we also receive Jesus as the One who dwells in our hearts. As Paul wrote, “I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong” (Ephesians 3:16–17 nlt).

Not a casual visitor, Jesus is an empowering permanent resident of all who follow Him. May we open wide the doors of our hearts and welcome Him.

By Patricia Raybon

REFLECT & PRAY

What does it mean for you to open your heart to Christ? How can you make Him more welcome?

As You live in my heart, loving Jesus, make me more like You.

Learn more about the life of Jesus.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

The word dwell in Ephesians 3:17 is a translation of the word katoikeō. Literally, the word means “to settle down in a dwelling, to dwell fixedly in a place.” Twice in Colossians Paul used this word to emphasize the deity and supremacy of Jesus: “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him” (1:19); “In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (2:9). Christ Himself, through His Spirit, makes His home in us (Romans 8:9, 11; Ephesians 3:17), and the implications of Him residing in each member of His body are significant. Believers in Jesus are to conduct their lives in a manner that acknowledges and respects the residency of a “houseguest” like no other. “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you . . . ?” Paul says. “Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Arthur Jackson

TWFYT:

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 UR: Family Feud

Jesus said, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. - Matthew 5:44 (KJV)

I inherited a family feud that had been going on for over 50 years. It was a battle over land, passed down from generation to generation. It’s called “heir property,” and it can be messy when everyone wants the same lot. During court preparations, I received a court document that upset me to the point of anger.

I wanted to retaliate with words of my own. My mind was racing with all I wanted to say. Anger is not a fruit of the Spirit, and I needed a listening ear. I called a friend and explained the situation. Honestly, I wanted to hear my friend say, “She did what?” thus adding fuel to my fire. But instead, my spiritual sister asked, “Have you prayed for her? What’s her name?” And so we prayed. What a revelation! Prayer changed my entire focus, and I began to call out my cousin’s name in my daily prayers.

As it turned out, court was avoided, and God brought a 50-year feud to an end with a compromise. I gained more than land that day; I gained a new perspective, which led me to apologize. Prayers for the people in our conflicts take our mind off the anger and hurt and put our focus on a new life in Christ for all involved.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Dear Lord, thank you for forgiving us. Help us to forgive others as you have forgiven us. Amen.Charles Stanley:

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Sarah email:

Good evening, church family,

 It was good to be in the house of the Lord this morning.....(Neen and I did miss worshipping in person with you all, but hopefully 

my van will be fixed in the early part of this week)

   We had some new faces that joined our Worship time.  Thank you to all that reached out during the Pass the Peace opportunity.

We want to say thank you to all that help make our time of worship come together, and volunteer their time and efforts every Sunday

morning and many times during the week in preparation for the next Sunday.    Each week we try our best to make things run smoothly, but 'things' happen.  You think you have everything ready to go and for some reason, come Sunday morning, things go 'kerplunk, kerblewy'    Thank you to everyone for being understanding and patient with us (whether you are on zoom or in house) as we try our best to help you all have a great worship experience.

Hugh THANK YOU 

I am sorry but I wasn't working on the update and accidentally hit the SEND key.....ugh.....

So here is the rest of the update that I wanted included.....

Those in need of our prayers:

Sosa's - Amber and Arianna were involved in a head on car accident. Their car was totaled and they both suffered fractured sternums.  Please pray for their healing, for the insurance process and for another vehicle.

Muik - Yvonne and Chris - they have been sick over the past several weeks. Continue to pray for healing and health restored so they are able to return to worship with us in person.

Darlene Skinner - had back surgery, please pray for patience during the healing and rehab process. Also pray for the rest of her family for wisdom and guidance

Mike Lacise's daugther's mom - she was knocked over by a dog and broke her leg below her knee - she has to stay off of it for 10 weeks. 

Joanne - Fell in rehab and now has a concussion.  Prayers for healing

Linda's brother-in-law was in hospital but was sent home due to insurance unwilling to pay for a longer stay - he still needs dialysis.  Prayers for God to provide.

Pastor Don's sister Connie is in the hospital with Chronic breathing issues. Pray for God's peace to surround her.

Mary and Marshall Rehem will be traveling in the next couple weeks. Pray for their safety as they enjoy their time away.

Praise God for new people in attendance today at our worship service.

Praise God for the beautiful day today.

Thank you all for your prayers....God is good!

   Blessings to you all for an awesome week!!

if you have a prayer need, please let me know and I will make sure that the warriors receive the information to pray.

If you are feeling the nudge to help out within St Matthew's ministry and just are not quite sure what or how to help, please reach out to Pastor Don or myself and we surely can find something for you to be part of.

God bless.....

   Sarah 

Hi,

   I must have had too much coffee today.....my fingers are moving faster than my brain.

Gladys Ketner - we heard from her daughter - she is doing good, but is missing her church family.

    She would love to see some of you. If you have time to visit with her that would be great and your visit

    would be appreciated.

 If you are unable to visit, please consider sending her a Thinking of You card.

     Parkland Manor

4636 Crackersport Road

  Room A13

Allentown PA 18104,

Thanks everyone!

Posted by: AT 12:23 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, March 02 2024

As I finish the below, I got a text, I assume from Ramone asking for prayer for Arianna and Amber. They were in a car accident and in the hospital. I don't know details but God does. Both have fractures and car is destroyed. Lift them right now please! We will update when more details are known

Darlene Skinner made it through surgery last evening and is in a long recovery time. Surgeon said he is hopeful and things went well as he repaired years of deterioration of the spine. Keep praying for her and the family and for patience in the process and full and complete healing

I spoke with Josie yesterday. Here's her response: One of the two cottages that were destroyed in the fire, belonged to my grandson Craig. I feel terrible for him because not only was it a total loss, but he also had lined up a buyer; Craig was planning to use the proceeds of the sale for a down payment on a house. And these cottages are not insured…! They’re so old, and the construction not up to building codes, they are uninsurable. I had some furniture stored there to take to my new place in Chestnut Ridge, but it’s really Craig I feel bad for. God will provide and does provide, no one was hurt and all is well, PTL. Continue to pray for provision for all!

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Good Morning Persevering Warriors of Christ! HELP! Have you ever cried that out to God or co-laborers? I am today! Help! Cover me in prayer. I am covering you. Man, we are in a battle and Satan just keeps pounding away at our armor. Some of us are in some deep dark pits of despair and hopelessness. Some of us are being drawn to apathy as media and others keep chipping away at God's ways and hammering believers in Jesus. The Bible warns us the end of times will be like this. And charges us to be bold, courageous and to stand firm in Christ. Sometimes, I feel like Moses who needed two others to hold His arms up while he prayed. Victory came as others supported Him in prayer. We are in the midst of the battle of the ages. And we need each other! We know the Victor and He lives in us! PTL! Don't for the lies and deception of the enemy. Strap that spiritual armor tight and wield the Sword of the Spirit (God's Word) mightily! Stand firm! Breathe out all the junk and take a deep fresh breath of the Spirit and Truth. Come along somebody today that you see struggling. And keep praying like crazy! Jesus is coming back and we will be with Him! Rejoice! He is with us now and when we are weakest, He is strongest! Rejoice!

I didn't intend to go here this morning, BUT GOD! Our devotionals, my circumstances and my time with God has led me here. I'm thinking many of you may need to be reminded of these things today as we battle through this life together. Old age and standing firm in Christ is not for sissies! Be bold and courageous and encourage each other. Karen and I are going through what seems to be a spiritual attack right now and are covering and encouraging each other. Satan be gone! Christ whooped you and He lives in me. Beat it! Pronounce that over you when needed. I think I am being needlessly overmedicated and it is affecting my attitude and health. Doctors found nothing wrong but are throwing all kinds of meds at me to see what sticks. I lost my mojo even and just want to sleep. Many of you can relate as most of us have experienced the overmedicated thing. It's hard to focus on God and to stay up and joyful when you are in this state. And then the world keeps beating us down and it all can lead to depression and giving up. DON'T!!!! Battle through. Trust God always. Counsel with good medical people not those beholden to big pharma. Choose well. Choose to life life to the fullest in Christ! God is using you and us and Satan does not like that! Be strong, courageous, stand firm and pray for wisdom, discernment, joy and shalom. God is for you and us! Amen! (And if you notice me checking out or not caring, you have my permission to smack me upside the head AND HELP ME REFOCUS!--SERIOUSLY! DO IT!) Too easily do I allow myself to enter the pity party--woe is me thinking. Stop it Donald! God's got great plans for all of us that are worth battling towards and being all in about! What's He have for you today? Now there is one other key here--rest! We need to rest and recharge while not becoming couch potatoes. Walking is healthy too. There is a healthy rhythm that is God's best--working from rest, fruit production after pruning and abiding in the Vine. Let us all commit right now to helping each other to God's best for us. We do need each other and some extra help sometimes. Be there! And choose joy!

Check out the devos below that have led to this today. God is speaking and He is with you to guide and strengthen and help you to choose joy always and know His shalom beyond understanding! rejoice!

Harvest Prayer starters:

Prayer Points

  • Glorify the Almighty God, who has the power to defeat your accuser and deceiver, Satan (Rev. 12:7-10).
  • Thank God that his immeasurable power is at work within you (Eph. 3:20).
  • Confess those times when you have tried to battle against Satan in your own strength.
  • Commit yourself to living in God’s all-surpassing power (2 Cor. 4:7).
  • Ask God to help you see how his power can be made perfect in your weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).
  • Pray for those countries that are clearly under Satan’s power, marked by cruelty, injustice, and horrible poverty. Ask God to bring his light into the darkness.
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.

Charles Stanley:

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UR Draw Near to God

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. - Hebrews 4:16 (NIV)

I normally wear cologne, but I have had to stop. My daughter suffers from asthma, and we work in the same office. Her doctor advised her to avoid all perfumes and fragrances to minimize her allergies. She and I share a close bond, and her natural tendency is to give hugs often. So I have stopped using cologne.

Ephesians 5:2 says, “Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” As I made a small sacrifice for my daughter, I began to reflect on Christ’s sacrifice for us. Christ offered himself up on the cross to restore the lost bond between us and God. He relinquished all his glory and majesty so that we all could draw close to God. In accepting and doing God’s will, Christ received God’s blessing and recognition. Now he sits at the right hand of God as the connection that allows humankind to draw near to God.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Jesus, our Lord and Redeemer, we give you thanks for your sacrifice that made it possible for us to draw near to God. Your presence is the balm that adds fragrance to our lives. Amen.odb:

Speaking as God Helps Us

Then there came a voice from above the vault over their heads as they stood with lowered wings. Ezekiel 1:25

READ Ezekiel 1:22–28

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

One wouldn’t normally think of butterflies as being loud creatures: after all, the flapping of a single Monarch butterfly’s wings is practically inaudible. But in the Mexican rainforest, where many of them begin their short lives, their collective flapping is surprisingly loud. When millions of Monarchs flap their wings at the same time, it sounds like a rushing waterfall.

The same description is made when four very different winged creatures appear in Ezekiel’s vision. Though fewer than the number of butterflies, he likens the sound of their flapping wings to “the roar of rushing waters” (Ezekiel 1:24). When the creatures stood still and lowered their wings, Ezekiel heard the voice of God calling him to “speak [God’s] words to [the Israelites]” (2:7).

Ezekiel, like the other Old Testament prophets, was charged with the task of speaking truth to God’s people. Today, God asks us all to share the truth of His good work in our lives with those He puts around us (1 Peter 3:15). Sometimes we’ll be asked a direct question—an invitation to share that’s as “loud” as a waterfall. Other times, the invitation might be more of a whisper, such as seeing an unspoken need. Whether the invitation to share God’s love is as loud as a million butterflies or as quiet as just one, we must listen, as Ezekiel did, with ears tuned to hear what God wants us to say.

By Kirsten Holmberg

REFLECT & PRAY

Who’s inviting you to speak into their lives—even if only faintly? How will you respond?

Thank You, Father, for inviting me to share about You.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

When Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon first attacked Jerusalem, he took most people from Jerusalem into exile (2 Kings 24:10-14). Ezekiel was one of those captives. The book of Ezekiel opens five years later (Ezekiel 1:2) when Ezekiel was thirty years old—the year he would’ve been installed as a priest in Jerusalem. Instead, he was with the other exiles in a camp by a river in Babylon (v. 1). Yet God appeared to the prophet, revealing to him that not just in Jerusalem but even in this land of exile, He’s present in glory—“like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day . . . . This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord” (v. 28).

Monica La Rose
Posted by: AT 04:15 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, March 02 2024

Thank God I'm Forgiven Friday! PTL! What are you thankful for today? Forgiveness and God's love is just the beginning of all we have to be thankful for!

Please pray for Darlene Skinner and family today. Darlene is having spinal surgery today. Pray for success and shalom.

Pray for our Clothing Closet tomorrow. Thank God for our servants and pray He uses them well to bless many.

Pray for our Sunday gathering to worship with Children's Church and on Zoom Sunday at 10. Sunday we will be discussing Church and receiving new members. New members have rocks they are painting with their family name and a verse to add to our Family Covenant Altar. 16 of our families added rocks in July 2021 and have covenanted together to love God, others, make disciples and serve together as we seek and follow God boldly. Maybe some of you would like to paint a rock and add it as we renew that covenant on Sunday and add our new members to our family altar and fellowship. Praise God for these new members and pray for new connection points to those He is drawing and for courage and wisdom to invite someone to come and see and experience His love through us. Pray for the kids and teachers of Children's Church as they begive a five week journey to the cross and empty tomb. Who is God stirring you to invite to our Palm Sunday worship and brunch and/or Resurrection Sunday festive worship and communion service.

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Good Morning Forgiven Much, Restored, Equipped, Empowered, Powerfully Praying, Stewards of All God's Blessings! Is that you? Is that our Church? It can be. Pronounce that in prayer over you and our fellowship. As we hurtle towards Holy Week and the celebration of the resurrection. May we always remember, thank, and offer ourselves back to God as an act of thanksgiving and worship. He doesn't want bulls and rams. He wants our redeemed hearts, hands and feet offered back for Him to use as we steward well all the blessings He has given us. Many of us struggled through the loss of electricity but we never lost connection to our Power Source! PTL! He has equipped, empowered, is using our prayers and stewardship of His blessings to grow His Kingdom and our fellowship and He is revealing His plans for what's next as we follow Him through the "what's now" in faith with thanksgiving. What lies ahead? Only God knows, but we can know that He is with us always and always at work working all things together for the good of those who believe. We believe! Amen. 

Talk to God today as you open your Bibles and our devotionals below. Listen, receive and follow well. His Word does not come back void and accomplishes His purposes including equipping and directing us. Ps. 119 used in the Upper Room reminds us that we are blessed as we walk according to God's revealed way (His Word--our Bibles). Open them and be blessed, directed and informed for powerful praying of God's will. You are God's provision for His Church and for those who need to know Him and grow in Him that He has prepared for you. Everything we have is a gift from God. ODB asks, Are you an owner or steward? Which are you? Are you giving all back to God for Him to use? Are you trusting Him to do some unexpected new things as you hold loosely or let go of some things and give them back to Him. Sunday we will discuss what Church is and our part. Are we stewarding well and sowing lavishly with what God has given? Well, yes and no. Our tight fisted PA Dutch heritage and growing out of the Depression hanging on to things may hinder some of that trusting God and sowing lavishly part--the holding loosely, letting go and allowing God type of stuff. Our rational minds often get in the way of seeing miracles or trusting God to provide where He guides. Talk to God about that. How do we steward and sow lavishly at the same time well? How do we develop deep trust? What is He doing that He wants us to sow into or serve with? What is He wanting to do with you and all the blessings He has given you? Pray for us to be good stewards as we sow lavishly in faith. Check out TWFYT as they speak into moving forward with God. He has great plans for us! Custom made plans for you and us to discover and step boldly into as we sow lavishly in love, service and help. How is God wanting to use you? Grow you and your faith? Expand your thinking? Suit up in His armor and prepare to follow Jesus to the new things ahead! We are on our way to becoming a dynamic movement of God. Let's celebrate and spur each other on as we learn to hold loosely and trust more! Amen!

Charles Stanley:

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UR: Patterns of Prayer

Blessed are those . . . who walk according to the law of the Lord. - Psalm 119:1 (NIV)

My husband, Gary, and I enjoy morning walks. We enjoy the fresh air, vent about problems, and make plans for the future. When I walk daily, I am eager to get out and move — and I have more energy. But on days when the weather is bad, I tend to hunker down inside, letting Gary walk alone. The longer I avoid walking, the less enthusiasm I have for it.

My prayer life follows a similar pattern. When I simply offer a few quick prayers during the day, my prayers tend to skitter along the surface like a flat pebble across a lake. However, when I spend the time in longer, deeper prayer, I become more eager to reach out to God again. Prayer then becomes a regular and meaningful part of my day.

We all have places in our lives where we could improve spiritually. I find it helpful to set a specific goal — for example, reading a chapter of the Bible each day or praying for a set amount of time every morning — then finding an accountability partner to hold me to it until the habit becomes a natural part of life. Morning walks can improve our health, but walking with God enriches the soul.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Faithful God, thank you for all the ways we can draw closer to you. Help us to walk daily in the presence of your Holy Spirit. Amen.ODB:

Owner or Steward?

Every animal of the forest is mine. Psalm 50:10

READ Psalm 50:7–15

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

“Am I an owner or a steward?” The CEO of a multibillion-dollar company asked himself that question as he weighed what was best for his family. Concerned about the temptations that can come with vast wealth, he didn’t want to burden his heirs with that challenge. So he gave up ownership of his company and placed 100 percent of the voting stock in a trust. Recognizing that everything he owns belongs to God helped him make the decision to allow his family to earn a living in exchange for work while also using future profits to fund Christian ministry.

In Psalm 50:10, God tells His people, “Every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.” As the Creator of all things, God owes us nothing and needs nothing from us. “I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens,” He says (v. 9). He generously provides everything that we have and use as well as the strength and the ability to earn a living. Because He does, as the psalm shows us, He’s worthy of our heartfelt worship.

God owns everything. But because of His goodness, He even chose to give Himself, entering into a relationship with any who turn to Him. Jesus “did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). When we value the Giver over the gifts and serve Him with them, we’re blessed to delight in Him forever.

By James Banks

REFLECT & PRAY

What has God given you that you’re grateful for? How can you serve Him with it?

You made everything, faithful Creator. Please help me to live my life as a gift from You today.

Gain a biblical perspective of money.

Introduction Video - Our Daily Bread University

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

The superscription attributes Psalm 50 to Asaph, a Levite and one of David’s three chief musicians (see 1 Chronicles 6:31, 39; 16:4-5; 2 Chronicles 5:12). Asaph also composed eleven other songs (Psalms 73-83). In Psalm 50, a didactic psalm (one that teaches us about God and how to live in a way that pleases Him), he describes a courtroom scene where God testifies against and judges His people for two grave sins—their formalism in worship (vv. 7-15) and their hypocrisy in living (vv. 16-23). We’re reminded that God has no need for our offerings, for He’s the Lord of all creation and owner of all we have (vv. 8-15). Instead, He desires us to “make thankfulness [our] sacrifice to” Him (v. 14 nlt).

K. T. Sim

TWFYT:

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Harvest Prayer Blog:

March 1 - Satan Fears Your Prayers

We have a powerful Enemy. Paul reminds us of the might of our adversary in his instructions to the church at Ephesus:
 
Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:11-12
 
Although our enemies are powerful, we are in a winnable battle. But we must prepare ourselves with the armor God provides. Once armed, there is also something proactive we must do:
 
With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18
 
Unceasing prayer is the offensive weapon that wins the day. Prayer makes us see the real battle, aligns us with God’s battle plan, and releases the resources of heaven. The Enemy is powerless against a man or woman of unceasing prayer.
 
“Satan dreads nothing but prayer. His one concern is to keep the saints from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, he mocks our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.” Samuel Chadwick

Prayer is our means of communication in this battle. If the communication lines are cut, we are powerless before the Enemy.
 
Father, the Enemy of my soul continually tries to assault me, as well as Your church! Thank You that You already have the victory over every attempt he makes to do damage! I am so grateful for the weapons You have provided to both protect me and to allow me to go on the offensive! Your word has power that the Devil can never overcome! Make me a person of unceasing prayer so that the Evil One can never get a foothold in my life. Keep me continually aware of the battle and prepared in prayer!
 
---Adapted from Simply Prayer by Bill Elliff. This book is available at prayershop.org.

Posted by: AT 04:15 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, March 02 2024

Good morning powerful pray-ers! Stay connected to the power source and release the power of our Almighty in prayer. He's waiting for you to call upon His mighty name. 

We lost electricity almost 4 hours ago. For.me that means no sleep since I cannot sleep without my CPAP. Been sitting still, meditating a.d releasing prayers for you and us and for God's will to be done. Today engage with the power source through His Living Word and your devotionals. What's God saying to you. How is He informing your prayers. Have at it powerful ones. I'll be trying to rest before the hectic day ahead .

Shalom my friends. Shalom shalom 

Posted by: AT 04:15 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
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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