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Wednesday, April 24 2024
Good Morning Pursued, Celebrated, Unique, Very Loved, Attached to the Vine, Part of God's Body! If you are in Christ--born again--that is you! Jesus created you for unique purposes and made you just as you are. He pursued you and led you to receive His love and be born again. As a new creation, He gifted and empowered you with the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts to do the very purposes He created you to do. As we stay connected to the Vine and sink our roots deep into God and His Word, we may be, well most likely will be, pruned. Why? So we can produce good and lasting fruit as we learn to stay connected to Jesus, our Vine, and do our part as one of His branches to produce the fruit we are created to produce. Amen! May it be so Lord! 
When you think about all this and meditate on who God is and all He has done for you, you can't help but feel loved, want to worship and become motivated to do your part. He sings over you and encourages and helps you to be all you are created to be and do all you are created to do. Now that will take some pruning and testing. Receive it with thanksgiving and abide in the Vine and allow Him to grow you into your fullest potential. There is so much joy and satisfaction when that becomes the norm. We all have a part to play as part of His Body or vineyard. 
Here's another really cool thing: new branches are being grafted into our Vine and we are growing stronger and being prepared to produce new, good and lasting fruit. Amen! Check out our devos below and how God threaded this message together. He's speaking to your heart, singing over you and molding and shaping you to be His best steward and producer. Amen! And He's brought us together and is adding new branches so that we will produce more fruit and connect to new branches that are awaiting being grafted into our Vine. It's really cool to see and watch as God leads us to His new things for you and St. Matts. I'm stoked and can't wait to see what the next few years hold for us as we connect to more and more and make more and more disciples of Jesus! I praise you all too for letting go of expectations and releasing what lies behind and focusing ahead on the new things God has for us that will allow us to be relevant to new generations, join God in the new things He has for us, continue our legacy of being His people on mission with Him and changing the world around us one soul at a time. Keep surrendering, inviting Jesus to be your Lord, attaching to His yoke and following to your purposes as you continue to run your race well and do your part in His Good News Deliver Co. He has great plans for you and us! Keep living and loving like Jesus daily and partnering with friends to go and grow together! Amen! You are God's masterpiece, made new in Christ to do the things He planned for you from long ago. (Eph. 2:10). PTL! What's He have for you today to grow you into your fuller potential and/or go connect to some new branches? He's wanting to seek and save the lost and use you! PTL!
Charles Stanley:
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ODB:

United Diversity in Christ

God has placed the parts in the body . . . just as he wanted them to be. 1 Corinthians 12:18

READ 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 21-27

In his essay “Service and the Spectrum,” Professor Daniel Bowman Jr. writes of the difficulty of navigating decisions about how to serve his church as an autistic person. He explains, “Autistic people have to forge a new path forward every single time, a unique path that takes into account . . . mental, emotional, and physical energy . . . alone/recharging time; sensory inputs and comfort level . . . time of day; whether or not we’re being valued for our strengths and accommodated for our needs rather than excluded for perceived deficits; and much more.” For many people, Bowman writes, such decisions, “while reorienting people’s time and energy, likely will not undo them. Those same decisions might well undo me.”

Bowman believes that the vision of mutuality Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 12 could be a healing solution. There, in verses 4-6, Paul describes God uniquely gifting each of His people for “the common good” (v. 7). Each is an “indispensable” member of Christ’s body (v. 22). When churches come to understand each person’s unique, God-given wiring and gifting, instead of pressuring everyone to help in the same way, they can support their members to serve in ways that fit their giftings.

In this way, each person can find flourishing and wholeness and be secure in their valued place in Christ’s body (v. 26).

By Monica La Rose

REFLECT & PRAY

How have you been blessed by others’ unique gifts? How can churches encourage diverse ways to serve?

Dear God, thank You for creating us all uniquely. Please help me to value every member of Christ’s body.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Paul couldn’t have chosen a better metaphor for the harmonious working together of the church than the human body. Instinctively, the members of our bodies work together for useful, purposeful living. Before commenting about body parts functioning differently according to design (1 Corinthians 12:14-26), the apostle elaborated on what believers in Jesus have in common (vv. 4-13). The same trinitarian God (“Spirit,” v. 4; “Lord,” v. 5; “God,” v. 6) is at work in and through the dynamic but different kinds of gifts, services, and workings in the church. The same Spirit at work in those with speaking gifts (v. 8) sovereignly manifests Himself through other gifts (vv. 9-10). “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit” (v. 11). Understanding our “spiritual sameness” liberates us to love, accept, and serve others who are different.

Arthur Jackson
UR: God Provides Strength

Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. - Hebrews 12:3 (NIV)

I loved coaching the eight-year-old Rangers Little League team. They learned an important life lesson during the season-ending tournament. The Rangers had yet to win a game, and the team and their parents couldn’t wait for the season to be over.

Fully expecting to lose, we played our first game of the tournament and won. The next day, we won again. The third game was against the best team in the league. They had dominated the league all season. Our team said, “We don’t stand a chance.” But I told them anything is possible, and that is why we play the game. We won the final game by a landslide.

As I contemplate the lesson the Rangers learned that day, I am reminded of our passage in Hebrews where we are instructed to run the race that has been marked for us. Although we face opposition, we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses and should not grow weary in our efforts. We must never give up or lose heart. When we face challenges that seem insurmountable, we need only to place our focus on God and God’s promises. Our God will provide the strength we need for what lies ahead.

TODAY'S PRAYER
Dear God, as we run our race, help us to fix our eyes on you and not grow weary. Amen.
TWFYT
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Don  
Posted by: AT 06:30 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, April 24 2024

gOOD mORNING Abiding Peacemakers and Prayer Warriors! Today's blogs are all about that. Check them out! I'm off for follow doc visit before our Zoom huddle at 10 when we discuss our source of peace and power--abiding in the Vine. I'll let you space to still yourself, attach tothe Vine and receive His wisdom, love and peace. What's God saying to you today and what will you do about it? Know peace because you abide in the Prince of peace! Go bring His love and peace alive today! Shalom!

ODB:

Jesus—The True Peacemaker

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. John 16:33

READ John 16:25-33

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

On December 30, 1862, the US Civil War raged. Union and Confederate troops camped seven hundred yards apart on opposing sides of Tennessee’s Stones River. As they warmed themselves around campfires, Union soldiers picked up their fiddles and harmonicas and began playing “Yankee Doodle.” In reply, the Confederate soldiers offered “Dixie.” Remarkably, both sides joined for a finale, playing “Home, Sweet Home” in unison. Sworn enemies shared music in the dark night, glimmers of an unimagined peace. The melodic truce was short-lived, however. The next morning, they put down their fiddles and picked up their rifles, and 24,645 soldiers died.

Our human efforts to create peace inevitably wear thin. Hostilities cease in one place, only to ignite somewhere else. One relational dispute finds harmony, only to be embroiled in distress again months later. The Scriptures tell us that God is our only trustworthy peacemaker. Jesus said it plainly, “In me you . . . have peace” (John 16:33). We have peace in Jesus. While we participate in His peacemaking mission, it’s God’s reconciliation and renewal that make real peace possible.

Christ tells us we can’t escape conflict. “In this world [we] will have trouble,” Jesus says. Strife abounds. “But take heart!” He adds, “I have overcome the world” (v. 33). While our efforts often prove futile, our loving God (v. 27) makes peace in this fractious world.

By Winn Collier

REFLECT & PRAY

Where do you see humans working for peace? How is God’s peacemaking different?

Dear God, please show me the way of peace.

For further study, read Finding Peace in a Troubled World.

Finding Peace in a Troubled World

Just knowing that Jesus would soon be gone was an overwhelming thought for the disciples. But in the midst of th...

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Preparing His disciples for His arrest and death, Jesus warned that they too would face difficult times and persecution (John 15:20; 16:2, 32). Christ comforted His distraught disciples with the provision of heaven, the promise of the Holy Spirit, and His abiding presence and peace (chs. 14-16). Jesus offered them and us the much-needed gift of peace: “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27 nlt). Living in a world broken by sin and devastated by pain and suffering, we have God’s promised peace: “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal” (Isaiah 26:3-4).

UR:Despite not Because

Give thanks in all circumstances. - 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)

I have often heard it said that “God will never give us more than we can handle.” Yet, there are times in our lives when this is simply not true, and such statements ring hollow.

Perhaps the biblical passages that are used to promote this idea have been misinterpreted. For example, 1 Corinthians 10:13 is a verse commonly cited, but it is about temptation rather than suffering.

Passages like 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 and James 1:2 tell us to rejoice always. But being told to rejoice when we have lost a loved one or are facing a life-altering health diagnosis can seem cruel.

The command to rejoice in our suffering, however, is about rejoicing in Jesus despite our circumstances, not because of our circumstances. What a difference that understanding can make when trials come! It is much easier to rejoice in Jesus and what he has done for us than to rejoice in the difficulties we face.

Understanding these passages better has helped me lift my gaze from very difficult circumstances to God, who is with us every step of the way, offering hope, joy, and encouragement in the midst of life’s most troublesome times.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Heavenly Father, thank you for being with us in our suffering. Help us to rejoice in you despite our circumstances, not because of them. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.TWFYT:

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CS:

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Dave's Blog:

DO YOU NEED A BREAKTHROUGH MOMENT?

by Dave Butts

“But You are our Father, though Abraham does not know us or Israel acknowledge us; You, O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is Your name” (Isaiah 63:16).

This scripture passage has a powerful and much-needed statement of faith. In spite of the poor spiritual condition of the nation and their estrangement from God, His people still spoke out by faith the truth that God was their Father. It was an essential step for them. There was every indication that the presence of God had been removed. God, earlier in this passage, declared that He was fighting against them. But in their repentance and sorrow, they held on to the truth of their covenant relationship with God as their Father. It was a breakthrough moment.

How often we need those breakthrough moments. Christians everywhere are living below their spiritual potential. Prayers go unanswered. God seems far away.  We wonder about our relationship with Him. It is time to speak by faith who He is and who we are in Christ. When we wonder and doubt whether revival can ever come again, it is time to hold on to the truth of God’s Word–that Jesus is coming for a Bride who is pure and holy, adorned in white . . . a church that has been revived!

Father, how we love to call You by this name! You are indeed our Eternal Father. We have been brought into Your family through Jesus Christ, adopted as sons and daughters, and sealed with Your precious Spirit. Give us boldness to speak Your Word by faith, even when the circumstances around us seem to go against it. We believe You, Lord, more than our circumstances. Thank You for the unchanging nature of Your Word.

Harvest Prayer:

April 23 - The Reward of Prevailing Prayer

Prayer is not directionless. God has agendas for us in prayer, both immediate and eternal. He is always taking us somewhere when we are intentionally pursuing Him in prayer.

Anna had been praying, and the Lord had been preparing her and the world around her for the greatest manifestation of God’s presence in human history. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we saw His glory” (John 1:14).

His coming involved preparation. It called for believing people to cooperate with God to prepare a highway for the Messiah. Only heaven will unveil to us what was being accomplished through Anna’s decades of believing prayer. Perhaps it was to make her so familiar with God that she would recognize Him when He came. It gave her eyes to see. Perhaps it was to prepare a whole generation to see. Perhaps it was for us to see.

Anna persevered in prayer and was one of the fortunate ones who saw Christ in human flesh. Her prayers paved the way for His coming.

People who pray have a heightened sense of God. Because they are constantly with God in prayer, when He manifests Himself they are instantly aware that it is Him. Conversely, they know when Christ is not present—even when others claim that He is.

Anna was privileged to live for years in the place closest to the Throne, and then to see and instantly recognize and rejoice in the physical answer to her prayers.

She prayed night and day. And so must we.

Lord Jesus, what a joy it must have been for Anna to see You face to face after so many years of faithful prayer. Would You teach me to pray as she prayed? Please give me Anna’s deep desire to pray without ceasing. I want to live in Your presence, to pray with expectation towards all that You are getting ready to do in the midst of Your people!

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

Prayer Points

  • Praise God for his jealousy toward you (Zech. 8:1-3; Ex. 20:5-6) that roots out rivals for your love or unfaithfulness on your part.
  • Thank God for such love that will not let you go.
  • Confess times at which you have not given God your undivided love and allegiance.
  • Commit yourself to being exclusively devoted to him.
  • Ask God to give you an undivided heart and life for him.
  • Pray that God’s Spirit will convince your neighbors or coworkers that his love is for them. Ask him to use you in the process, showing you specific ways to put love into action.
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
Posted by: AT 06:29 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, April 24 2024

This week: All are welcome to be a part of any of these

Tue 10 am Zoom Huddle

wed 10-12 Bread Min.

Wed 6-7:30 Dinner Huddle

Sun Worship at 10 Live and on Zoom

Sun 5-8pm Revival Church

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Good Morning Joy, Love, Light, Peace, Good News, New Life, Hope, and Help Bringers! We are God's salt and light sent to transform this world and make disciple making disciples of Jesus. That begins at Jesus' feet and grows through community with an outward focus. (Oikos Communitas) That is our purpose and mission as we grow at living and loving more like Jesus; as we seek to become more in '24. It's more of Him and less of me. It's dying to self and taking up cross daily as we follow Jesus. It's working on becoming the people we are created to be and doing the things we are created to do more and more and in community. God has great plans for you and us! Turn off the noise and focus on Him. Cast all anxiety upon Him and know His promised peace, grow in it and share it with the world around you that so desperately needs it. Amen!

 Check out Harvest Prayers blog below that sums this up and continues the message from yesterday. Turn off the noise of what ifs and what will be's and focus on today. Today has enough to worry about. Don't lean on your own understanding. trust and acknowledge God in all your ways and He will direct your steps and bring His shalom--His perfect peace. Amen! If we trust God more fully, keep our focus steadfastly upon Him and keep following Him to His best, we will know and dwell in His shalom--His perfect peace. Circumstances, hardships, trials will not be our focus. God will be our dwelling place and His best will envelope us more and more as He leads us to His greater things. Check out what Charles Stanley teaches about that below. And check out Our Daily Bread with the reminder of the importance of community and helping and encouraging each other and doing things together. How does God want to use you to bless each other and how might you be blessed as we gather in community and go out and love like Jesus this summer? He has great plans awaiting our discovery as we take steps of faith and He wants to grow our territory. What's your part?

Last night I had the privilege of worshiping with Revival Church as they held their first service in our sanctuary. (see pics below) There were at least six pastors that were invited to be part of their ministry including Pastor Gus and myself. Many were prophesied over and the Holy Spirit filled the sanctuary and will flow out the doors. It was a time for me to reload for ministry as well. Several of our prayers are being answered with this partnership and I see it as one where many good things will happen as we partner together to change the world and spread the Good News! Amen! The word last night most prophesied was "Expectation leads to miracles." When we pray expectantly and expect God to move, we will see miracles. They are coming! Revival, healing, deliverance, restoration, new life are coming! Expect it! Our answered prayers: 1. For our church to become a house of prayer for the nations. Most of Revival Church are people from India. Much of the service is done with translation, even the worship songs. 2. We are praying for revival and God has sent Revival Church to worship in our building and to partner with. It is a sign of revival to come! 3. We have prayed for the Holy Spirit to flow from our building through our gatherings and to go spread the Good News around our communities and change the environment around us. This is increasing and will as we go forth this summer and connect to neighbors and neighborhoods and through Revival Church outreach as well and our partnership. 4. For us and many to sense and see God's love and be drawn to Him. Love is overflowing from our building and many are being drawn to it. 5. For God to multiply disciples. We are in the business of making disciples. We have added a few but God wants to multiply. Last night was the first fruits of multiplication and expansion of His Kingdom. 6. We are praying for our building to become a hub and training center for disciples that change the Lehigh Valley and beyond. That has begun to grow and will continue. 7. For God to use who we are and what we've been given to expand His Kingdom and be an act of worship that glorifies Him. AMEN!!! God is on the move! Hallelujah!

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Last night it was prophesied that a tsunami of blessings would flow through me and our church. It was prophesied that revival fires would be growing and flowing through us. For some reason, people are drawn to my belly when they prophesied over me. (maybe because it's so big) Years ago it was prophesied over my belly that Living Waters would flow through me and that has been happening. One of our members had a dream where someone asked why Pastor Don's belly was so big and Jesus answered because he would birth new works. Last night it was prophesied over my belly that revival fire would be flowing through me. I am receiving all of these as a word from God that He has some great plans for me and us to expand His Kingdom, bring revival and His Living Water to a dry and thirsty land and to keep praying into and moving towards starting some new works around the area. Amen! Come Lord Jesus! Your will be done! I believe God wants to start that as we step out of the building this summer, fellowship and connect to new neighbors that God is drawing. And He has plans for you and us together to grow His Kingdom and change the world! Amen! Let us turn off the noise and seek Him more earnestly together to follow Him each day to the plans He has for us. Soon He will fan those sparks of revival into a wild fire of the Holy Spirit throughout our area. And the cool thing is, we all have a part custom made for such a time as this! Pray into that earnestly, expectantly with thanksgiving and let us commit to follow Jesus well! Amen! Then we will know His perfect peace. Shalom! Shalom!

Harvest Prayer Blog:

April 22 - Stay in Perfect Peace

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. (Isaiah 26:3)

I don’t know about you, but perfect peace seems like an impossibility. With everything going on in the world around us, not to mention the confusion of thoughts within us, we wonder how such a promise could be made. It helps, of course, when it’s God himself who made the statement. That puts this promise in a whole new light. It also helps for us to understand what is meant by perfect. Biblically speaking, perfection refers more to maturity or a level of completion. Here’s the truth of the matter . . .God wants you to live in mature peace in your life and he is willing to commit to keep you in that place of peace.

The Prophet Isaiah gives us insight into how this works in a very practical way. The first and most important part is God’s part. God commits to keep us in perfect peace. Without this commitment, it will not work. Peace is a gift of God, not simply something we work on. Jesus offered peace as something that came from him.

God’s commitment to keep us in perfect peace is not without our part. We are to have our minds stayed on God. Perhaps an easier way of saying this is the New Testament command to fix our thoughts on Christ. What are you thinking about? What is your mind stayed on? It is impossible to have a mind filled with peace if our thoughts stray from the Lord. He keeps us in perfect peace when we fix our thoughts on him who is the source of peace. Over and over again, we are commanded to guard our hearts, to be careful what we are thinking about. Peace comes from a mind that is focused on God.

According to Isaiah, the third part of walking in perfect peace comes from trust. This is the combination of the nature of God and the work of man. We keep our minds fixed on God because we trust him. But we trust him because he has shown that he is worthy of all our trust. He is the Eternal One, always faithful, always worthy of our trust. Because of who he is, we trust him. This brings peace.

Today, choose to fix your mind and thoughts on Jesus, the Shalom Giver. Remind yourself of how he has been trustworthy in the past by thinking of those times he worked in amazing ways in your life.

Lord Jesus, I am so grateful that You are not only a God of peace, but that You want to pass that peace to me. You literally commit Yourself to keep me in peace. Help me to do my part. Help me through Your Spirit to keep my mind fixed upon You and to trust You in every way.

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

Charles Stanley:

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ODB:

Community in Christ

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12

READ Ecclesiastes 4:7-12

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

“I knew that the only way to succeed was to forget about home and my wife, son, and daughter,” said Jordon. “I’ve found I can’t do that. They’re woven into the fabric of my heart and soul.” Alone in a remote area, Jordon was participating in a reality show where contestants are asked to survive outdoors with minimal supplies for as long as possible. What forced him to forfeit was not the grizzly bears, freezing temperatures, injury, or hunger, but an overwhelming loneliness and desire to be with his family.

We might have all the survival skills necessary for the wilderness, but separating ourselves from community is a sure way to fail. The wise author of Ecclesiastes said, “Two are better than one, because . . . one can help the other up” (4:9-10). Christ-honoring community, even with all its messiness, is essential to our thriving. We don’t stand a chance against the trials of this world if we try to tackle them on our own. Someone who toils alone, toils in vain (v. 8). Without community, we’re more susceptible to danger (vv. 11-12). Unlike a single thread, “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (v. 12). The gift of a loving, Christ-focused community is one that not only provides encouragement, but also gives us strength to thrive despite challenging situations. We need each other.

By Karen Pimpo

REFLECT & PRAY

How can you commit to spending time with the family of believers? Who around you is isolated and in need?

Father, thank You for the gift of community! Open my heart to love and spend time with others today.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Along with Job, Psalms, Proverbs, and Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes is classified as one of the Wisdom books of Scripture. Wisdom books, which emphasize the supreme value of fearing God (Ecclesiastes 8:13; 12:13), help the reader navigate the good and not-so-good—the bitter and sweet of this life—from God’s perspective and to trust Him. Given Wisdom Literature’s goal—to help its readers to “live skillfully”—it shouldn’t surprise us to find numerous occurrences in the book of Ecclesiastes of the word better or the phrase better than. The comparative value of wisdom is stressed in passages such as “Wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness” (2:13); “Wisdom is better than strength” (9:16); “Wisdom is better than weapons of war” (9:18). We also see this emphasis in Proverbs: “For she [wisdom] is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold” (3:14).

Discover the life-changing wisdom of Ecclesiastes.

Lecture - Our Daily Bread University

Arthur Jackson
Posted by: AT 06:29 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, April 24 2024

Clothing Closet today 10-1

Worship tomorrow 10 am with Children's Church and on Zoom

Revival Church worship in our sanctuary 5-8pm Sun.

Good Morning Praising, Praying, Preparing Friends! Prepare your hearts to worship. Enter His courts with praise. Keep using and building those gratitude lists. Invite our Abba, Father, Daddy, to come inhabit your praise, inform your prayers, be the Lord of your hearts and Shepherd of your day. Check out the Harvest prayer blog and prayer starters below. Start there and dwell in His presence for a spell and prepare to go forth in praise as you allow Him to lead you through this day.

Please pray for me. I had my ideas of God's Word for us this week continuing with His pursuing love. And He is pursuing us, standing at the door knocking, wanting to come in and hang with us. What love pursuing, everlasting love that we know! PTL! And we may pick up that theme in May, BUT GOD! He kept pecking at me and I stopped, stilled myself and listened (after I kept forging ahead and finished what I thought was to be tomorrow's message). He has another message for us tomorrow. Many of you have been asking questions and it seems all of our gatherings over the past few weeks have turned to the end of time. So I invited Abba to rewrite our message for tomorrow and to answer some nagging questions and to inform our choices in these last days. 

God loves you, is pursuing you, transforming you, preparing you for whatever is to come and is with you always! Be still and know He is God and He cares and has a plan for you and us. The end will come someday. Are you ready? Are you living each day as if He is coming back today and serving and praying as if it will be another thousand years? He is in control. We are His family and He has plans to use us together and individually to go be the salt and light as we put into action His love. Check out our devos below about this. What's He saying to you and what will you do about it? Who is He partnering you with to go love like Jesus? Jesus is coming back! That is a fact and a promise. What will He find when He does? Be still and know that He is God. Stand firm in faith always. And go live and love like Jesus with great zeal for the lost. That's why we are still here and He is with us always. Amen! PTL! He does have some awesome custom made plans for you! Rejoice and go in the strength he has given you. May our lives be poured out as a sacrifice of praise! Amen!

Harvest Prayer Blogs:

April 20 - Hallow Him

“Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name.”
 
Christ could have instructed us to use any of the multiple names of God as we approach God’s Throne. But, He instructs us to use the words “our Father.” We are approaching the One who has adopted us by His grace into His family. Who sent His Son to rescue us. The One who loves us perfectly. The One who cares for us more than the greatest father on earth. It is an endearing, non-threatening term as we come before God. It is intended to help us realize that we are standing before Him as His beloved son or daughter.
 
Pause right now, and look up to God and speak these words slowly before the Throne: “My Father!” and simply rest in all that means.
 
If you want to make contact with God, and if you want to feel His everlasting arms about you, put your hand upon your mouth for a moment as you enter in … Stop for a moment and remind yourself of what you are about to do. Do you know that the essence of true prayer is found in the two words “Our Father.” I suggest that if you can say from your heart whatever your condition, “My Father” in a sense your prayer is already answered.
 
But Christ did not stop there. We are to pray “Our Father, who is in heaven.” This is not just any Father. Your Father is the One who is above all. He is perfect in all His ways. He is all-powerful and all-knowing. He knows every star by name. He created every cell in your body. He owns everything. There is nothing that is not at His disposal. He is the source of every provision and the giver and guarantor of every promise. He is your heavenly Father with all the resources of heaven and earth at His disposal.
 
As we meditate on the privilege of calling God our Father, a gratitude should rise in our hearts. We should begin to realize who He is, what He has done, and that He now invites us in to talk with Him. I cannot imagine instantly praying a list of requests at such a moment. If we have genuinely entered in, our first response will be worship. “Hallowed be Your name.”
 
God’s names are inexhaustible. That’s why the Bible (and our heart when we meditate on Him) is filled with a multitude of names. These are given to help us understand His nature, but also to verbalize our praise in prayer. As you enter in before the Throne, pause and spend time adoring Him. Thank Him for His great names and rehearse what you are seeing in His presence. Thank Him for who He is, but also for what He has done. If you have approached the Throne rightly, you will be overwhelmed with gratitude. Don’t rush this moment in prayer. It will set the tone for the rest of your praying. Let a vision of God fill your soul and direct your praise. Don’t move forward in petitions until you have hallowed Him in praise!
 
Holy Father, I praise You because Your name is above all others! You created me and have loved me fully and completely as Your beloved child. Help me to come before Your throne with humility and gratefulness. Slow me down so that I can focus on Your promises, Your peace, Your provision and Your presence.

---Adapted from Simply Prayer by Bill Elliff. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.

Prayer Points

  • Pray that you will be diligent in teaching Christ through the way you live your life and the way you speak to others.
  • Ask God to help you be an excellent model for the generations coming up behind you.
  • Pray that God removes any distractions to wholesome love among your family and friends. Ask that all ungodly priorities and self-interests will be wiped away so that love can abound.
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.

Charles Stanley:

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ODB:

Family Matters

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone. Hebrews 12:14

READ Hebrews 12:14-17

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My sister, brother, and I flew from our separate states to our uncle’s funeral and stopped to see our ninety-year-old grandmother. She’d been paralyzed by a stroke, had lost the ability to speak, and had only the use of her right hand. As we stood around her bed, she reached out that hand and took each of our hands, placing one atop another over her heart and patted them in place. With this wordless gesture, my grandmother spoke into what had been our somewhat broken and distant sibling relationship. “Family matters.”

In God’s family, the church, we can grow apart as well. We might allow bitterness to separate us from each other. The writer of Hebrews references the bitterness that separated Esau from his brother (Hebrews 12:16) and challenges us as brothers and sisters to hold on to each other in God’s family. “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone” (v. 14). Here the words every effort convey a deliberate and decisive investment in peacemaking with our brothers and sisters in God’s family. Every such effort is then applied to everyone. Every. One.

Family matters. Both our earthly families and God’s family of believers. Might we all invest the efforts needed to hold on to each other?

By Elisa Morgan

REFLECT & PRAY

What would it mean for you to “make every effort to live in peace with everyone” in God’s family? Is there a particular person you might need to approach for reconciliation?

Dear God, thank You for drawing me to Yourself. Help me to make every effort to live at peace with everyone in Your family.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

In Hebrews 12:14, the phrase “make every effort” translates one Greek word: diōkō. The range of meaning includes ideas such as “to pursue” good or not-so-good things (see 2 Timothy 2:22); “to press on”; “to persecute” so as to harass or mistreat (see 3:12 [persecuted]). Three times in Philippians 3 diōkō is used when Paul shares his personal testimony: “as for zeal, persecuting the church” (v. 6); “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (v. 12); “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (v. 14). The English Standard Version’s rendering of Hebrews 12:14 highlights a twofold pursuit: “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” As it concerns our relationships with others, harmony and holiness are worthy of our pursuit and prayers—even when such efforts aren’t reciprocated.

Arthur Jackson

UR: The Power of Salt

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. - Colossians 4:6 (NIV)

Families from our church who live in the neighborhood are part of the neighborhood fellowship group. We meet every month for Bible study, prayer, and to catch up on our families’ welfare. It is a time of fellowship and community building. We always bring food to share. On one occasion I made some chicken curry for the dinner. I expected to receive some compliments for it, but no one said anything. Finally, I asked if they liked the dish. They looked at each other without responding to me. Wondering what the matter was, I took a spoonful of it to taste. To my horror I found it to be tasteless. I had forgotten to add salt!

I was reminded of Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:13, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” As the salt of the earth, we work to preserve all that is good and just in the world by being peacemakers and peacekeepers. Just as salt adds flavor to food, as Christians we can bring love, kindness, and grace to those around us in partnership with God, reflecting God’s love and light in the world.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Loving God, we long to serve you. Help us to build a just and peaceful society where we reflect your love and compassion to those around us. Amen.

TWFYT:

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Wednesday, April 24 2024

Good Morning Chosen Children of the Lord--Worshipers! Let us prepare our hearts for worship! Enter His courts with thanksgiving!

Today Revival Church begins using our sanctuary. Their service run from 5-8. I have been invited to be a part of this kick off. All are welcome. They will be joined by a contingent from their planting church from Phila. this evening. Pray for them and for us to unite on mission well around the neighborhood. I'm in the midst of finishing up the message God has for us today. Pray for the Holy Spirit to bring His Word in power today to both churches. Check out Harvest Prayer blogs below and a few of our devotionals and prepare your hearts to worship! Shalom, shalom! Maybe God's perfect peace be with you and us today! Amen!

Harvest Prayer:

April 21 - Seek God for Families to Serve the Lord

And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15) 

Beautifully illustrated pictures with the verse Joshua 24:15 have hung in the entryways and living rooms of many homes throughout the years. As a child, I remember reading it daily as I entered and exited our family’s home. I wonder how many of us have read it but never considered the rewards that would come to a family who truly lived it. What would be the result of not seeing it as an invitation to go to Sunday School but as a call to give our very lives, as a family, to the love and work of Jesus? Would we bear up under the persecution it would cause, and could we imagine the generational blessing that this type of dedicated life would provide? 

Samuel Wesley knew and lived this verse to the fullest as he and Susanna raised their nineteen children in the midst of persecution, illness, and trials of every kind. The unkind treatment this family endured was unthinkable and should have been enough to bring about great doubt and resentment in his children. Instead, John Wesley, the leader of the revival movement that later become the Methodist Church, and Charles Wesley, the writer of over 6,500 hymns, gave their lives to the same gospel their parents had relentlessly proclaimed. 

The day in which we live is becoming increasingly evil and the need for our children to be strong in the Lord and the power of his might is becoming more obvious. Let’s pray that we, as families, will find the strength that Joshua of the Old Testament and Samuel Wesley of the eighteenth century had. Let’s ask Jesus to unite and empower our families to serve him with our whole hearts for our entire lives. One family serving God together could be the tiny spark to light a revival flame. One family praying and believing will bring the change that our lost and dying world needs. Let’s pray for the strength and the resolve to serve Jesus as a family. 

Our Father and the Father of generations of believers, thank you for placing us in families. Thank you for making us a powerful unit of love and faith that can change the world. We ask you to light a fire in the hearts of parents and children to know and love you. We ask you to cause us to see serving you as the mission and joy of our lives. More than comfort, entertainment, education or even protection of our lives, cause us to want to know you and make you known. 

Give us wisdom as we teach our children to love and serve. Help us to make the most of every opportunity to show your truth and your love to this world. Unite us as servants to bring the salvation and healing of the gospel to our neighborhood and our community. Please protect us from the discouragement and temptation that would weaken the bond we share. We ask you to unite us as one for the glory of your name. 

--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 sovereign Lord who cares for his sheep (Ezek. 34:11).
  • Thank the Lord for shepherding you, caring for you in his rich pasture (34:14).
  • Confess times of wandering away from the side of the Good Shepherd.
  • Commit yourself to rejoicing in the bounty he provides for you.
  • Ask God to help you be a blessing with the blessings you’ve been given.
  • Pray that your church’s caregiving and fellowship efforts will be led by faithful shepherds who care for the flock (34:1-10). Ask God to give them compassionate diligence to strengthen the weak, heal the sick, and bind up the injured (34:4).
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.

TWFYT:

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CS:

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UR: Praying Boldly

Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” - Matthew 18:3 (NIV)

Our young daughter was tucked into bed, covers up to her chin. After a song, I asked her the same question we pose every evening: “What do you want to pray about?”

She paused, lips pursed together, forehead furrowed in thought. Her sweet toddler voice responded, “I want to ask God to make unicorns real.”

In the hardships of daily life, it’s not difficult to lose our joyful, trusting, wide-eyed faith. But as for children, why wouldn’t they ask God for anything? If God can heal the sick, raise the dead, and create the planets in outer space, surely God can make unicorns real! And if my daughter has faith enough to pray for that, I want a childlike faith to ask God for big, bold things too.

We all experience times when our faith feels small, when we haven’t dared to hope that God can bring healing or reconciliation or fulfillment. Even then, God is still the God of the impossible. So let’s take a page from the children among us and start asking God for the big, seemingly impossible things.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Dear God, inspire our doubting hearts to believe and trust you with childlike faith. Give us audacity to pray boldly. In the name of Jesus. Amen!ODB:

Bitterness of Stolen Sweets

Food gained by fraud tastes sweet, but one ends up with a mouth full of gravel. Proverbs 20:17

READ Proverbs 20:11-17

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Thieves in Germany stole a truck’s refrigerated trailer filled with more than twenty tons of chocolate. The estimated worth of the stolen sweetness was $80,000. Local police asked anyone who was offered large quantities of chocolate via unconventional channels to report it immediately. Surely those who stole the massive amount of sweets will be facing bitter and unsatisfying consequences if they’re caught and prosecuted!

Proverbs confirms this principle: “Food gained by fraud tastes sweet, but one ends up with a mouth full of gravel” (20:17). Things we acquire deceptively or wrongfully may seem to be sweet at first—seasoned with excitement and temporary enjoyment. But the flavor will eventually wear off and our deception will lead to our being left wanting and in trouble. The bitter consequences of guilt, fear, and sin can end up ruining our lives and reputations. “Even small children are known by their actions, [if] their conduct [is] really pure and upright” (v. 11). May our words and actions reveal a pure heart for God—not the bitterness of selfish desires.

When we’re tempted, let’s ask God to strengthen us and help us remain faithful to Him. He can help us look behind the short-term “sweetness” of giving in to temptation and guide us to carefully consider the long-term consequences of our choices.

By Marvin Williams

REFLECT & PRAY

When has temptation led to bitter consequences for you? How can you remain faithful to God?

Dear God, I need Your strength to fight temptation and remain faithful to You.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

It might seem difficult to detect a theme to the proverbs in chapter 20, but theologian John E. Goldingay identifies one. Noting the difficulty of finding good examples of individual integrity, he points out that “openness is not common (v. 5), . . . and human evasiveness is difficult to penetrate (v. 15).” We must keep in mind that the Proverbs don’t always tell us how to live; sometimes they’re observations about life—for instance, “the buyer” who considers a product yet disparages its value in order to bargain for a lower price (v. 14). Solomon, who wrote many of the Proverbs, isn’t advising us to imitate this dishonest bartering tactic; rather, this is his observation of human nature. Goldingay suggests that verse 5 is key to understanding the chapter: “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.”

Tim Gustafson
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Wednesday, April 24 2024

Thank God I'm Forgiven! Amen and Hallelujah!

Good Morning Forgiven Much, Very Loved, Children of God! What's on your gratitude list? What are you thankful about today? Lift those praises high! God inhabits our praises! Amen! Start everyday with praise and allow God to inhabit your praise and redirect and renew your thinking. Dwell in His presence and go forth today refreshed, renewed and prayed up. He has great plans for your day, custom made for you according to His purposes for you and your circumstances. Rejoice! God is growing your faith and usefulness. Christ has already won the battle! PTL! Spend some time in the valley of praise today. Humble yourself, die to self even and take up your cross as you refocus on God and follow Jesus. Turn off the noise and surround yourself with like minded children of God who you can encourage and pray for and who will do the same for you. Call on the name of Jesus together! Step into your new in Christ nature more fully and go live and love more like Jesus today. Check out our devos below that thread all these together! God REALLY loves you and has great plans for your day! Rejoice and be glad in this day and your identity in Christ. He is our Redeemer, the Victor and our strength and shield! Amen! Shalom! Shalom! Perfect peace to you today as you worship, praise, trust and obey! Amen!

Charles Stanley:

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ODB:

The Valley of Praise

On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berakah. 2 Chronicles 20:26

READ 2 Chronicles 20:21-26

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Poet William Cowper struggled with depression much of his life. After a suicide attempt, he was committed to an asylum. But it was there through the care of a Christian physician that Cowper came to a warm, vital faith in Jesus. Soon afterwards, Cowper became acquainted with pastor and hymnwriter John Newton, who encouraged him to collaborate on a hymnal for their church. Among the hymns Cowper wrote was “God Moves in a Mysterious Way,” which contains these words pressed from the crucible of experience: “You fearful saints, fresh courage take; the clouds you so much dread, are big with mercy and shall break in blessings on your head.”

Like Cowper, the people of Judah also met God’s kindness unexpectedly. As an alliance of armies invaded their nation, King Jehoshaphat gathered the people for prayer. As Judah’s army marched out, men in the front ranks praised God (2 Chronicles 20:21). The invading armies turned on themselves, and “no one . . . escaped. . . . There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it” (vv. 24-25).

On the fourth day, the very place where a hostile invading force gathered against God’s people was dubbed the Valley of Berakah (v. 26)—literally, “the valley of praise” or “blessing.” What a change! God’s mercy can turn even our most difficult valleys into places of praise as we give them to Him.

By James Banks

REFLECT & PRAY

How have you seen God bring good out of difficulty in your life? What can you thank Him for today?

I praise You, loving God, that no valley is deeper than Your love.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Militarily threatened by a large enemy coalition (2 Chronicles 20:1-2), Jehoshaphat turned to God for help (vv. 3-13). God assured His people, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s” (v. 15). Soon after God had delivered the Israelites from Egypt—with the Egyptian army in pursuit—Moses encouraged a terrified people, “Do not be afraid. . . . The Lord will fight for you” (Exodus 14:13-14). This promise, however, was contingent on their obedience and faithfulness. They were “to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all [their] heart and . . . soul” (Joshua 22:5; see 23:6-13). Jehoshaphat exhorted the people: “have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld” (2 Chronicles 20:20).

K. T. Sim

UR: Listening to God

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. - 1 Peter 5:6-7 (NIV)

I had a good job, a family, and a house in the suburbs. Then I got divorced and everything changed. Living in my car on a noisy city street, sleeping with a blanket over my head to keep out the cold and the city lights, and eating alone on a bench in the park forced me to reflect and listen to God.

I was welcomed by others in the homeless community, and their acceptance helped me see that God is in every person, maybe especially in the homeless one.

Homelessness was humbling, but Jesus humbled himself for us. We are called to walk humbly with God, just as Jesus did on his way to the Cross. God eventually lifted me up, teaching me to cast away my worries, to see God in nature, to value every person, and to leave my life in God’s hands.

God directed me to a church community that has helped me grow in faith, where I work on outreach missions, including with those who are homeless. The support of the people in this community has made it easier to follow God’s way. God calls us to feed the hungry, visit the sick, welcome the stranger, and care for the homeless . . . listen.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Open our eyes and hearts, O God, to the needs of those around us. Open our ears to listen to your promptings. Amen.

TWFYT:
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Harvest Prayer Blogs:

April 19 - Calling Out to Jesus

In the Gospels we see that a number of people call out to Jesus. Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, cried out to Jesus, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me” (Mark 10:47), and he was healed. The thief on the cross asked Jesus to remember him in His kingdom, and Jesus responded, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

In Acts, we see indications that the disciples had started praying in Jesus’ name. When Peter and John healed the crippled man at the temple, they explained it by saying, “By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see” (Acts 3:16).
If we go back to the actual healing, Peter declared, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6).

When he was being martyred, Stephen prayed, “‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:59-60).

In Saul’s Damascus Road experience, it was Jesus who talked to him.

[Saul] fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him,

“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

 “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” (Acts 9:4-6)

Hours later, when Jesus spoke to Ananias, telling him to go to Saul, he replied: “Lord, . . . I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name” (Acts 9:13-14, emphasis added). Jewish leaders were not arresting those who called on God’s name, only those who called on Jesus’ name. Ananias clearly was speaking to Jesus here (but of course, he was speaking to God).

Lord Jesus, thank You for these powerful examples in Your word showing over and over again that those who believed and had faith in You were continually calling upon Your Name – the one that is above every other name. Sometimes those who called upon You were persecuted and even killed! Father, that is still happening today across the earth! I pray that everyone who calls upon Jesus will be saved, and that the evil one will be silenced by Your power wherever he attempts to discourage Your people in the world. May we be bold and proclaim Your Name across every nation of the earth!

--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 God as the all-knowing one.
  • Thank God for caring enough for you to teach you his ways and warn you when you stray.
  • Confess times of willful ignorance of his ways.
  • Commit to listening and following God’s directions.
  • Ask him to provide faithful teachers and examples for you.
  • Pray that you will be diligent in teaching those under your care.
  • Ask God to help you be an excellent model for your children (or for the children of your friends).
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.
Posted by: AT 06:27 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, April 24 2024

Updates: (I overslept again--actually rested in the Lord and again invited Him to be the Lord of my day, so all is in His hands and according to His plans and timing and I have great peace. Even though I am 2 hours behind my schedule again, I am on His time and plan and know His peace. Amen!)

Please keep Barb Schware and her family in your prayers as her father stepped into the arms of Jesus last evening. He is now fully healed and restored. Pray for peace, comfort and strength for the journey.

Continue to pray for healing and provision for Darlene Skinner as she is awaiting word that she can go home. Pray for provision for her to be able to be at home. She is in good spirits and appreciates our prayers.

Continue to pray for Christ and Yvonne Muik. Chris is recovering from foot surgery and Yvonne is at home recovering from being sideswiped by a tractor trailer. pray for healing and provision for a car. I hope to visit them today.

Pray for all of our homebound members. Many are lonely. Reach out and love on some today!

PTL! We had a powerful time of ministry to a single mom during Bread Ministry yesterday. Gina and I spent much time hearing her heart and praying. Pray for God's favor and peace over Kim and her family. Pray He would draw the children.

We also had a great time of fellowship and discussion at our dinner huddle last night. We only have about three more weeks before we end our indoor gatherings. Pray for God to lead us out the door to some fun connection points to our neighbors. Ask God to lead you to something some of us can partner with you to connect to others and connect them to God.

Sat. from 10-1 is Clothing Closet. Pray for them to bless and connect to those God is sending.

Pray for me as I didn't even have time to begin Sun. Message yet. Pray for God's Word to come to me and alive to us. He is pursuing us with an everlasting, refining, maturing. patient love. PTL! Check out Our Daily Bread and Upper Room devotionals below as they may be part of Sunday's message as I believe God wants us to dig a little deeper and sink our roots deep into His love hat pursues us, refines us, prepares us and goes out from us.

Sunday evening from 5-8 is the first weekly worship service of Revival Church. They are renting our sanctuary. All are invited to join them on this special evening for their church. Karen and I hope to attend. Pray for this to be the beginning of a great ministry relationship with brothers and sisters in Christ that will multiply our impact on our neighborhoods!

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Good Morning Persevering, Persistent, Preparing Harvesters! Last night, yesterday, Tuesday during huddle, and actually, quite often lately we find our conversations moving to the end of time, That Great Day of the Lord, when Jesus returns. We find ourselves looking at the environment, society and happenings around us questioning if we are entering the tribulation. We certainly live in dark and evil times and earth quakes, famines, storms. pandemics, wars and rumors of wars are on the rise as should be expected because God revealed these would be signs that would increase in intensity as we approach the end. There are all kinds of speculations and interpretations of the happenings around us and the end times prophecies in the Bible. If history were recorded on a clock, we are probably in the last five minutes before the end. HOWEVER, we do not know and are not to put dates on things. We are to expect Jesus to return at anytime and not be surprised when He does and we are to keep on living, praying and serving as if it will be a few more thousands of years. Are you ready? Are you prepared to stand firm through some very very hard times? Do you have a network of friends that will walk with you through these hard times as you encourage, and help each other to stand firm? Is God's Word buried in your heart and your roots sunk deep into Him. Are you living and loving more and more like Jesus and serving others and making disciples of Jesus? That's how we are to live and we are to find and choose joy because, no matter what we face, He is with us and His love pursues us. Amen!

I don't want to be Donald Downer. But that is reality and it feels like this darkness is enveloping our world. BUT GOD! Remember, He warned us about this and Jesus reminds us, "I have overcome the world!" We know the end story and the Victor! PTL! Let us commit to encourage and spur each other on in our faith and service. Let us plan together how to impact our neighborhoods and change the world one person at a time. Let us continue to pray for revival and do our part. We will not change the world in the polling places, by arguing and attacking, but with love, service and care as we bring the love, hope and help of Jesus alive to those God is drawing out of the grasp of Satan. Pray for us to see, hear, follow, and be agents of revival. God has custom made, great plans for you and us for such a time as this. Let us be about our Father's business more earnestly as we see the end drawing near. Amen!

Two of my devos for today as well as Harvest prayer's blogs tie to this. Check them out. And then check out ODB and UR at the end as they may be part of Sunday's message. Don't forget, one of the most critical roles in God's Good News Delivery Co. is prayer warrior. We all can do and some of you are called to it and to pray like Anna! God has placed us together to build His Church and encourage and spur each other on. Sometimes we have blind spots that others can help us to see and correct. Find some trusted co-laborers and be intentional at meeting together. And never give up. Work on persevering faith and joy in the Lord to always be alive in and through you and us. Jesus is coming back some day and all the promises we have been given will come alive. Our faith will become sight! And then, in the twinkling of an eye, we will be with Jesus. Choose joy always and persevere in faith. Jesus is with you always and until He takes you home, there's work to do! Daylight's burning!

Charles Stanley: Blind Spots

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TWFYT:

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Harvest Prayer blogs:

April 18 - She Never Left

And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fasting and prayers. At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. (Luke 2:36-39)

Some must have thought her strange. The aged widow, Anna, had virtually lived in the temple for decades. She served there, and her serving was amplified by continual fasting and unceasing prayer.

On a normal day—one of thousands for her—she was going about her routine in prayer and sensed an unusual presence. No doubt the atmosphere seemed strangely electrified.

Simeon, another temple regular, had the eyes to see because he had also sought the Messiah for years. Gazing upon this young boy, his heart was moved by the Spirit to announce that this was the Messiah for whom they had been waiting. Only God could have made him aware of this phenomenon.

Anna instantly knew. The Messiah, of whom the temple was merely a picture, had come.

“…she never left the temple” is an amazing phrase. Something in Anna’s heart caused her to continue in prayer. It was not merely her daytime routine. She prayed “night and day.” There could be no question that there were many other things she could have done. But something—or rather, Someone—kept drawing her back to the place of prayer.

Anna could have refused those promptings, but thankfully for us, she did not.

Precious Jesus, what an amazing event in biblical history – that two passionate intercessors were given the gift of seeing You, the long-awaited Messiah, with their own eyes after waiting so long and so expectantly! To think that I can know You just as personally is amazing. Keep me in the place of prayer, waiting expectantly for You to pour out revival on Your people, and looking to see You come again! May I place myself continually in Your presence, knowing that I will spend eternity being face to face with the One my heart adores!

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

Prayer Points

  • Praise God for his world-sized love (Jn. 3:16)!
  • Thank God for loving you before you ever began to love him (Rom. 5:8).
  • Confess times of turning away from the Lord, acknowledging that such betrayal of his love is spiritual prostitution (Ezekiel 16).
  • Commit yourself again to faithfulness in loving God.
  • Ask him to help you live with purity of love toward him.
  • Pray for the Bible studies and other small groups of your church. Ask God to work his kind of intimacy into the lives of each person involved with these groups.
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend. This book is available at prayershop.org.

ODB:

God’s Tender Love

To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek. Hosea 11:4

READ Hosea 11:1-4

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A 2017 video of a dad comforting his two-month-old son while the baby received his routine vaccinations garnered international attention for the way it captured a dad’s love for his child. After the nurse finished administering the vaccinations, the dad tenderly held his son close to his cheek, and the boy stopped sobbing within seconds. There’s almost nothing more reassuring than the tender care of a loving parent.

In Scripture, there are many beautiful descriptions of God as a loving parent, images that invoke God’s deep love for His children. Old Testament prophet Hosea was given a message to deliver to the Israelites living in the Northern Kingdom during the time of the divided kingdom. He called them to return to a relationship with God. Hosea reminded the Israelites of God’s love for them as he pictured God as a gentle Father: “when Israel was a child, I loved him” (Hosea 11:1) and “to them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek” (v. 4).

This same reassuring promise of God’s loving care is true for us. Whether we seek His tender care after a season where we’ve rejected His love or because of pain and suffering in our lives, He calls us His children (1 John 3:1) and His comforting arms are open to receive us (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

By Lisa M. Samra

REFLECT & PRAY

How have you experienced the love of God as a caring Father? What concerns might you bring to Him today?

Heavenly Father, thank You that You call me Your child and provide tender care when I run to You.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Given Hosea’s assignment to demonstrate love, it should be no surprise that he’s been called “John (the apostle of love) of the Old Testament.” God told Hosea to “go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods” (Hosea 3:1). Descriptors for this kind of love include words like relentless, ceaseless, loyal, unconditional. It’s a pursuing love; one that releases one from slavery and bondage (11:1), pursues those who stray (v. 2), and accompanies its objects in various stages of development because they’re loved (vv. 3-4). Believers in Jesus are no strangers to God’s tender love. The one who “demonstrate[ed] his own love for us . . . while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8) is the one who loves us enough to pursue us when we stray (see Hebrews 12:5-6).

Arthur Jackson

UR: Waving at the Window

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. - Revelation 3:20 (NIV)

I always had the duty of dropping our kids off at daycare, which is more emotionally difficult than my husband’s duty of picking them up. My children didn’t like being left, and many mornings were filled with tears. It also didn’t help that our daycare was across town from where I worked, so I was inevitably always in a rush.

One morning, I was hurrying out of the daycare to my car, when something caught my eye. In a window facing the parking lot stood my two-year-old son waving excitedly at me. It was a sweet gesture and just what I needed. I told everyone at work how sweet my son was.

The next morning, when dropping my son off, I mentioned to the teacher how my son had made me smile the day before. She kindly told me that he does that every morning and had been doing so for months. My heart sank.

I never missed his wave after that.

This experience made me wonder how many times I have missed signs of God’s love because I was too rushed to notice. Praise the Lord, we are loved by a God who is patient and whose love never ends.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Dear God, forgive us when we don’t notice all the ways you love us. Thank you for patiently waiting on us and for loving us unconditionally. Amen.

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Wednesday, April 24 2024

Shalom Shalom! Complete peace to you my friends! I overslept today after a NyQuil induced sleep coma overnight. I didn't awake until 6:30 which was a half hour after I was scheduled to host our weekly pastors huddle. BUT GOD! God brought shalom to me and to the huddle participants as all chose to rest in the Lord a bit longer this morning. Honoring God's healthy rhythm of working from rest is at play here too. Too often we get all tangled up in busyness and our agendas and can even run way ahead of God and His best for us. resting in the Lord. Casting (and letting there) all our anxiety to the Lord is critical as well in the quest for perfect peace in the Lord. All our devos (below) tie to this today. Consider where you are with God bringing His best and shalom to you. Come to Jesus all you who are weary and find His promised  rest for your souls!

Even thinking about this summer and God's challenge for us to get out of the building can cause all kinds of stress and self-imposed thinking of all the extra work involved. STOP! Drop the anxiety in God's lap and receive His shalom. He is our Lord and Shepherd and He has great plans that will not be a heavy burden. There may be a bit of healthy stress as some of us step out of comfort zones but God is with you and in this and He is bringing redeeming love and His shalom to the chaos. He specializes in that! And He will use us, just as we are, where He placed us to bring some peace and joy, love, hope and help to others. There may be some healthy stretching of faith for you too. be aware of that and receive it with joy and thanksgiving! Breathe out the junk. Breathe in a fresh breathe of shalom and trust God to work through you wherever He leads. This is going to be a great summer with lots of fun as we just go about normal routines with some others loving like Jesus as we go! Rejoice! Begin making some plans with some friends for fun things to go, hang out and bless others! Jesus is the Prince of Peace and He lives in you! Know Him and His shalom more in '24! I'm praying for you!

Now I am about two hours behind in my planned day, BUT GOD! He has better plans that are allowing me to move from rest, healing and joy to follow Him to His plans for today! Shopping for supplies, Bread Ministry at 10, visitations, janitorial, cooking, and dinner Huddle at 6 are all in His hands and will come into place as He leads me and I follow His shalom! Come King of the Universe and lead me to your best as I choose to follow Your shalom today! Be the Lord of me and this day. Thanks! Amen! God has great peace-filled plans for you today as well! repent, believe the Good News and follow Him well! Amen!

Shalom Shalom!

Harvest Prayer Blog:

April 17 - You May Have Peace

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, ESV)

Jesus makes two very serious promises that believers of all generations must comprehend if they are to live in accordance with the words of Jesus. First of all, Jesus promises that in him we may have peace.

Secondly, he promises us that in the world you will have tribulation. Talk about contrasting promises!

Peace and tribulation don’t go together at all in our ordinary way of looking at situations. But Jesus knows how things fit together far better than any of us and we must heed his words.

Looking at the first promise causes us to see that Jesus lived what he promised. In his short 33 years in the flesh on earth, he was surrounded by turmoil and controversy that typically take away peace. Yet, he lived his years here modeling peace. He often was the only one who seemed to be under self-control in any situation. Especially during his arrest and trial, the Prince of Peace demonstrated what it meant to live out peace in the midst of chaos.

The promise of Jesus is that this kind of peace is what we can have. It is because that peace is in him and when believers choose to live in him, his peace becomes possible for us. If you are a Christian and not experiencing his peace, then I want to point out to you the exactness with which Jesus gives this promise. Jesus said, “in me you may have peace.” You have to desire this peace, ask for it in prayer, and commit to live it out.

The second, contrasting promise is what we are much more aware of in our lives. In this world, you will have tribulation. This is not an end-time remark about the Great Tribulation. It is a clear declaration of how we can all expect to face difficulties and tough times as we go through life. These tribulations so often steal peace from us and leave us upset and worried. Those who believe that the Christian life somehow makes everything nice and easy are just not listening carefully to the words of Jesus. The tribulation Jesus speaks of is for all of us.

Fortunately, Jesus gives us a third promise that brings great hope to all of us: “But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Yes, we live in a world that is filled with tribulation. But Jesus firmly declared and then modeled on the cross and in the resurrection that he has indeed overcome the world. Peace is possible in the midst of tribulation because of the presence of the overcoming Christ in our lives. That gives us hope and even great joy, no matter what is happening in our lives.

Regardless of the tribulations we face, the King of Kings is the overcomer. We can walk in peace in a life of stress and difficulty because that peace is in the heart of our Overcoming God. Yes, tribulation is in this world. Yes, we can have peace. And yes, Jesus has overcome the world, which opens the door for his peace to mark our lives.

Today, commit to asking Jesus for his shalom (peace). Depend on his overcoming the world to provide the peace you need to also overcome whatever tribulation comes your way.

Thank you, Lord, for being our overcoming God! You knew better than any of us how difficult this world would be and how desperately we would need your peace. So you promised that we can have that peace if we would desire it and ask you for it. You overcame the dark powers of this world and provided your peace for us. Thank you, Lord! Pour your peace into me now that I might demonstrate your overcoming power to those around me.

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

ODB:

Choices Matter

There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. Proverbs 14:12

READ Proverbs 14:8-12

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

Pastor Damian’s schedule included hospital visits to two people nearing death who’d chosen two different life paths. In one hospital was a woman beloved by her family. Her selfless public service had endeared her to many. Other believers in Jesus had gathered around her, and worship, prayer, and hope filled the room. In another hospital, the relative of a member of Pastor Damian’s church was also dying. His hardened heart had led to a hard life, and his disheveled family lived in the wake of his poor decisions and misdeeds. The differences in the two atmospheres reflected the contrasts in how each had lived.

Those who fail to consider where they’re headed in life often find themselves stuck in uncomfortable, undesirable, and lonely places. Proverbs 14:12 notes that “there is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” Young or old, sick or well, wealthy or impoverished—it’s not too late to reexamine our path. Where will it lead? Does it honor God? Does it help or disrupt others? Is it the best path for a believer in Jesus?

Choices do matter. And the God of heaven will help us make the best choices as we turn to Him through His Son, Jesus, who said, “Come to me, . . . and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

By Arthur Jackson

REFLECT & PRAY

What about your path of life needs reexamination or correction? What’s keeping you from asking for God’s help and courage to make corrections?

Dear Jesus, You’re the source of life. Please give me the courage and strength to surrender my life to You and do what honors You.

For further study, read Taking Sin Seriously.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

The book of Proverbs often concerns itself with three primary categories of people: fools, the wicked, and the wise. In today’s reading, we find all three. Fools become easy prey for the wicked. The wise, however, can see through deception and make prudent choices in difficult situations. The reason? It starts with fearing God and heeding His instructions: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7) and “the beginning of wisdom” (9:10). Here in Proverbs 14, a series of contrasts occurs between the wise (the prudent) and the foolish (the simple): “Whoever fears the Lord walks uprightly, but those who despise him are devious in their ways” (v. 2). In verse 8, “the prudent . . . give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.” Verse 11 contrasts the wicked with the wise: “The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but . . . the upright will flourish.”

Tim Gustafson

TWFYT:

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UR: Anchored

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. - Hebrews 6:19 (NIV)

My husband, Mike, and I were visiting a nearby town for our routine eye examinations. As we looked at the array of new frames, Mike suddenly fainted, hitting his head on the floor. Although he came around fairly quickly, he was clearly shaken and had a huge bump on his head. We called an ambulance and made our way to the hospital.

As we waited in a crowded corridor, I found myself wondering where God was. Why had this happened? What damage had been done? If only I could feel God’s peace instead of feeling stressed.

Then something came to mind from the devotional I had read that morning. To be honest, I couldn’t remember many details; but I knew it was something about anchors: how St. Paul was tossed around in a ship at sea and how God holds us secure in the storms of life. How appropriate!

I felt that God was saying to me, “I am holding you. You are anchored.” I kept repeating this to myself through the time of anxious waiting at the hospital. I didn’t feel a warm glow of peace, but I knew that we were in God’s hands. We were anchored.

Mike was and is okay. I give thanks for God’s faithfulness and for God’s word that still speaks to us today.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Thank you, faithful God, that when the storms of life shake our security, you hold us and never let us go. Amen.

Charles Stanley:

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Harvest Prayer prayer starters: (I covet your prayers and so does your leadership team! Thanks for praying for us!)

Prayer Points

  • Pray that your pastor will present God’s message courageously, whether it is accepted or not (Ezek. 2:3-7).
  • Ask God to help all your church’s leaders to consistently follow God’s Word themselves (2:8).
  • Pray that the children have hearts open to God’s Word from their earliest years.
  • Ask God to help them the children to keep their ways pure by living according to his Word (Ps. 119:9).
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend. 
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Wednesday, April 24 2024

Zoom Huddle today at 10. All welcome!

Family Ministries/Adult dinner Huddle Wed 6-7:30. All welcome!

(We only have about a month of these before summer break. Join us and plan to do some fun things as we reach out together this summer!)

Good Morning Accepted, Readying, Listening, Representatives of Almighty God! Oh yes you are! Pronounce it out loud and in prayer over yourself and our Body! We are loved and accepted, as we areWe are repenting and readying for all God has for usWe are listening, discerning and wanting to process with like-minded brothers and sisters. We are preparing and prepared today to go love and bring alive all the wonders of our Almighty God, maker of heaven and earth and us! He has custom made great plans for you to discover and do today! Rejoice! Be who you are created to be and about our Father's business! There is no greater joy and satisfaction in life than enjoying who you are in Christ and doing what you are created to do! Now find some friends to work on that with and go live and love more like Jesus today! I'm praying for you and our Body to be all we are created to be and to be growing into our fuller potential in Christ! We are on our way to becoming a dynamic movement of God! PTL! And we all have a part to play! What's yours? Talk to God about that and process, plan and put into action with some close trusted friends and co-laborers! Amen!

Check out how God used our devos and threaded them together to take me to the above salutation and paragraph. What's He saying and threading together for you? (I have some notes today before each devo and blog) He awoke me very early this morning (1:30) with the praise song from Cain repeating in my head, "I'm So Blessed!" Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rm28hKyd5-A I often sing this throughout many days and often add "I'm so blessed even though I'm a mess!" How true! No matter what we are facing our thinking, we are so very blessed, "on our best day or our worst day", because of God in us! Amen! We are a very blessed people. We are blessed to go bless and blessed back for being a blessing. And our joy just grows as we learn to walk out our blessings and live and love like Jesus! Yes, very blessed indeed! Shalom!

Charles Stanley: You are accepted completely! And you are being molding into your new nature and God's image more fully! PTL!

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TWFYT: We are learning to not only listen to God and process but to listen to and esteem others so they feel valued and heard. We are being sent to new connection points and need to focus on connecting to others and then connecting them to God as we leran to listen to their hearts and learn how to respond well!

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ODB: God is readying you and us. He has created, gifted, and called us for such a time as this to step into our custom purposes. Pray that prayer at the end earnestly! Amen! Are you ready? ( I think of hide and seek..."Ready or not, here I come!" and I think of our response to the Holy Spirit! I am ready and readying! Are you?

Ready to Go for God

I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Ephesians 4:1

READ Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-16

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

The book Hidden Figures recounts preparations for John Glenn’s flight into space. Computers were newfangled inventions in 1962, subject to glitches. Glenn didn’t trust them and worried about calculations for the launch. He knew one brainy woman in the back room could run the numbers. He trusted her. “If she says the numbers are good,” Glenn said, “I’m ready to go.”

Katherine Johnson was a teacher and mother of three. She loved Jesus and served in her church. God had blessed Katherine with a remarkable mind. NASA tapped her in the late 1950s to help with the space program. She was Glenn’s “brainy woman,” one of the “human computers” they hired at the time.

We may not be called to be brilliant mathematicians, but God calls us to other things: “To each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it” (Ephesians 4:7).  We’re to “live a life worthy of the calling” we’ve received (v. 1). We’re part of one body, in which “each part does its work” (v. 16).

Katherine Johnson’s calculations confirmed the course trajectory. Glenn’s launch into orbit was like “hitting a bull’s-eye.” But this was just one of Katherine’s callings. Remember, she was called also to be a mother, teacher, and church worker. We might ask ourselves what God has called us to, whether big or small. Are we “ready to go,” exercising the grace-gifts He’s bestowed, living “a life worthy of [our] calling” (v. 1)?

By Kenneth Petersen

REFLECT & PRAY

What has God called you to do? How has He gifted you?

Dear God, please help me embrace what You’ve given me and live a life worthy of Your calling.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

There are five different listings of spiritual gifts in the New Testament: Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:8-10; 12:28-30; Ephesians 4:11; and 1 Peter 4:11. That no two lists are identical suggests that each one isn’t exhaustive. More important, the emphasis is on how the diversity of gifts are to be used “for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7) and to “equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12 NLT) in a loving way that unites the church (vv. 13-16). Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers (v. 11) are people gifted in proclaiming and teaching the Scriptures.

K. T. Sim

UR "A Granddaughters Gift" God is always with us and he does have great plans for you and us! PTL! Ask for eyes to see and Jesus' heart and mind to respond well to all the opportunities today and always. I think about what a difference it will make when we step out in groups with out t-shirts on. Will we act differently, be more bold and intentional, and are we people of integrity always. Help me Lord to always be who I am in Christ and be about His business always with passion and a right heart. I know you are with me always. Thank You! May I choose to live as if that's so always! Amen! Thanks! Amen!

Jesus said, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” - Matthew 28:20 (NIV)

My granddaughter surprised me with a special Christmas present, an embroidered picture titled, “‘I Am with You Always,’ Matthew 28:20.” She didn’t realize the significance

that Bible verse had held for me many years before.

When I came to the United States 66 years ago, I spoke limited English. I joined a youth group at my church, led by a young student minister. He soon noticed that I was quite withdrawn. But after a few kind words from him I opened up and told him I was worried about my grades and that I had difficulty keeping up with my classes. He then quoted Matthew 28:20. He told me that Jesus was talking to me personally and that he was always with me in every situation. I suddenly felt uplifted and my faith soared. From that day on I smiled more and opened up to friends at school. When I prepared for a test or a project, I knew I did not have to do it alone — Jesus would be with me.

After reflecting on these memories, I called my granddaughter and told her about the impact her embroidered verse had on my life many years ago. More importantly, I was able to share with her the difference Jesus’ promise makes in my life to this day.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Dear Father, thank you for your gift of Jesus. Show us opportunities to minister to our friends and family and to tell them of your special gift of love and grace. Amen.Harvest Prayer Blogs: Maybe end with these as we battle and intercede for our families and the generations in our neighborhoods. God is sending us to kids and young families. keep your eyes open and heart ready to respond. But he is also sending us to damaged and hurting older ones as well, even grand parents. Keep praying and watching for how God wants to use you and join Him! Remember: Prayer warrior is one of our most critical parts of our Good News Delivery Co. Keep praying! And praying may lead you to someone God is pursuing to love on and heal. be ready!

April 16 - Pray for Healthy Families

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:1–4) 

A dear friend of mine at church said, “We all have to overcome our parents’ parenting.” This was said in humor, but oh, how true it is! All of us have been hurt by our parents. Parenting is the most difficult job in the world. A detailed manual would be nice to have. God has given us clear instructions for children and parents. Today, more than ever, we have moved away from the biblical admonition for parenting. As we intercede today, let’s cry out for Jesus to work a new principle or paradigm for parenting into Christian families in your community—a new philosophy of parenting, rooted in God’s Word and empowered by the Spirit of God. He is able! 

Father God, a healthy family is a Christ-filled family. Heal our broken families and lead us back to you. Empower dads, moms, and children to take our leads and our guidelines from you and your Word. Today, I ask boldly that you would enable children to obey their parents in the Lord. Cause children in our community to fall so in love with Jesus that they end up leading their parents and siblings to a greater love for Jesus as well. Where families are broken, bring healing to children and teens longing for security in a frightening world. Be their security. Be their home. Be their joy. Send spiritual moms and dads to come alongside parents to love and mentor kids of all ages. Convict parents today of their calling to parent with the love, power, and authority of Jesus Christ. I pray for dads to be stable and involved in the lives of their children. I pray moms will be filled with the Spirit to love their kids practically, with words and deeds. May fathers bring their children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Protect parents from harsh, wounding, or ungodly anger. I plead with you today to give each member of the family a persevering heart, that none would lose their way today. I pray parents would follow the ancient model of talking about Christ all the day, at home or as they travel through the community. May Jesus be a true and relied upon source for families in this community. Protect children from abuse. Protect parents from lives with little to no margins. I am asking today for a powerful move of God in families that are on the brink of divorce, bankruptcy, anger, or depression. Be their solution in real time today. Manifest your glory to families across this region. May we all know that you are God and that your love is better than life itself. Thank you for families. Thank you for my family. Thank you for the families in our great community. We ask for a new and unprecedented work in each one, for Jesus’ sake.

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

Prayer Points

  • Praise the God of Israel, who comes in glory to meet with his people.
  • Thank God for coming to consume the darkness and to make what is purified radiate with his glory (Ezek. 43:1-5).
  • Confess any wickedness that hinders the brightness of his presence.
  • Commit to letting God’s glory shine upon you in worship.
  • Ask God to shine through you to others.
  • Pray that the Holy Spirit will cause the glory of God to blaze in you, setting your heart on fire for the lost.
  • Ask that God will send forth his Word, bringing his light to lives swamped in darkness.
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend. 
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Wednesday, April 24 2024

Good Morning Loved, Pursued, Forgiven Transformed Friends of God who Is the Friend of Sinners! PTL! He is a way maker! Even when we think there is no way or we think we are too far gone. He pursues us, forgives, cleanses and redeems! PTL! Then He prepares and sends us to allow Him to love and forgive others. Jesus said to a questioning Phillip, I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me. We will encounter many lost, confused and questioning people in our journey that God is pursuing and wants to love through us. Keep your eyes open and heart ready and committed to allowing God to use you! Remember, you are custom made--God's masterpiece! (EPH. 2:10), made new in Christ for His planned purposes for you for such a time as this. Our mission is simple and easy if we stay yoked to Christ. It's to learn to live and love like Jesus and allow Him to connect to those He is pursuing and then make disciples of Jesus. Easy peazy! We know Love. We know peace. We know joy. Because we know Jesus! PTL! We are sent to bring love, peace, joy and Jesus alive and allow Him to use us to transform the world while He transforms us. Who is He pursuing through you? Who is helping you with figuring out and doing what He is sending you to do?

We've been seeking, discerning and have begun planning our outreach for the summer with small gatherings wearing St. Matts T-shirts hanging out, having fun and blessing others. We are in the process of designing T-shirts, but we don't have to wait for that to get out, have fun and bless others. Where is God sending you? Rita's, the park, a game, the dinner...? Who is joining you as you fellowship and enjoy life in Christ and make yourself available for Him to pursue through you? Maybe our shirts could say learning to live and love like Jesus (our vision statement) with our web address or just the symbols:

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Know love, peace and joy? We do because of Jesus! We are learning to live and love like Jesus. Join us! and website...Anyway, something like that. Maybe a bumper sticker with the saying: Do you follow Jesus this closely? We do! And our website. Whatever God leads us to, hanging out with some friends living and loving like Jesus and blessing others with contagious love, peace and joy is God's mission for us this summer as we get out and live and love more like Jesus! Pray into all of that! God has great plans for you and us as He pursues those He is drawing through us. Amen! Maybe we should change our name even? Any church with a saint name has a stigma because of the sins and abuses of the catholic church. What if we were Joy Church, Community, Care Givers? JC3! Pray about that too. In the meantime, prepare you hearts, hands and feet to go live and love like Jesus as you steward all God's blessings well and work at becoming more like Jesus and doing more of what you are created to do! He does have great plans for you, His very loved, forgiven pursued, transformed, sent child! PTL!

Check out our devos for today and the Harvest Prayer blogs as you dwell in God's presence, seek His best, listen, learn, confess, repent and prepare to follow Jesus more in '24. I'm praying for you and God is wanting to pursue someone through you! Amen! Jesus is the Way and He is the way maker who has plans for you perfectly aligned with who He created you to be. Come as you are and learn to live and love more like Jesus for such a time as this! Amen!

ODB:

At Home in Jesus

If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me. John 14:3

READ John 14:1-7

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

“There’s no place like home,” says Dorothy, clicking the heels of her ruby slippers. In The Wizard of Oz, that was all it took to magically transport Dorothy and Toto from Oz back to their home in Kansas.

Unfortunately, there aren’t enough ruby slippers for everyone. Although many share Dorothy’s longing for home, finding that home—a place to belong—is sometimes easier said than done.

One of the consequences of living in a highly mobile, transient world is a sense of detachment—wondering if we’ll ever find a place where we truly belong. This feeling may also reflect a deeper reality, expressed by C. S. Lewis: “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

The night before the cross, Jesus assured His friends of that home, saying, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2). A home where we are welcomed and loved.

Yet we can be at home now too. We’re part of a family—God’s church, and we live in community with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Until the day Jesus takes us to the home our hearts long for, we can live in His peace and joy. We’re always home with Him.  

By Bill Crowder

REFLECT & PRAY

What makes you feel at home and why? How does knowing Jesus will take you to be with Him forever help you live here on earth?

God of love and grace, help me look forward to being at home with You, in Your presence, forever.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

John 14 is part of the Upper Room Discourse (chs. 13-17). It’s been referred to as the “Farewell Discourse” because Jesus attempts to prepare the disciples not simply for His impending trial and execution, but for His ultimate ascension back to the Father. In the opening verses of chapter 14, Christ seeks to calm the anxious hearts of the disciples by assuring them that not only is there a place for them where He’s going, but that He’ll come back so that they can be with Him (vv. 1-4). It’s easy to forget that very little of this would’ve aligned with what the disciples thought about the role of the Messiah (see Matthew 16:21-23). So great was their confusion that immediately after Jesus told them that they had known and seen the Father (John 14:6-7), Philip asked to be shown the Father (v. 8).

J.R. Hudberg

UR: A Safe Place

When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble; I will rescue them and honor them. - Psalm 91:15 (NRSVUE)

In the 1950s I attended a boarding school for boys. It was run in a military style with strict discipline and punishments that were often issued in an abusive manner. Bullying at the school was rampant and persistent. Needless to say, I suffered at the school and learned how to avoid any confrontation, disappearing into anonymity when required.

One place in my school that nobody went during the day was the chapel. There I found my retreat where solace and support awaited me. I found that I was not alone. I felt God’s reassuring presence, and I enjoyed that calming influence and support. This was the beginning of my lifelong journey with God.

I still give thanks to God for coming into my life. I cannot give thanks for the experience of being bullied, but I am grateful that during that time I found God. What might my life have become without that sacred introduction?

TODAY'S PRAYER

Loving God, cleanse the hearts and minds of those who abuse others. Be with those facing persecution, and grant us lives of harmony and peace. Amen.

Charles Stanley:

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TWFYT:

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Harvest Prayer Blogs:

April 15 - A Tender Conversation

Our prayers are not a meaningless ritual before a harsh God. It is a tender conversation between two who love each other. And, there’s nothing more powerful than God’s presence. It should humble us to know that Christ gave His life so that we might have entrance into His Throne Room. What a tragedy it would be if we never enter it!
       
I would challenge you, right now, to take a few moments to enter into the Throne Room and shut the door. It should be a familiar place, an hourly place for you if you are to pray without ceasing. Enter in with sincerity, seclusion, simplicity, and simple faith as a son or daughter.
 
Don’t rush in His presence. It might be good to bring no requests to Him at first. Simply get acclimated to His presence. Sense the reality of the moment. Enjoy the privilege of being with Him. Worship Him and then ask Him if there is anything He wants to say to you. 
 
There is simply no better place to be in heaven or earth. And, it’s available to His children all the time!
 
Holy One, so often I rush into Your presence without a thought! Please help me to be aware that I am walking up to the Throne of Grace when I pray! Slow me down to sit and listen rather than uttering a few short phrases before going about my hurried day! Help me to know You as Father, King, Friend, Counselor…and so much more! Pour out Your peace on me so that nothing else matters when I come before You…except You.
 
---Adapted from Simply Prayer by Bill Elliff. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.

Prayer Points

  • Praise God that you know who he is because you have Jesus Christ, “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15).
  • Give thanks that “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in [Christ], and through him to reconcile to himself all things . . . by making peace through his blood” (1:19-20).
  • Confess the instances when you spurn the reconciliation that God has accomplished.
  • Commit yourself to continuing in your faith, “established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel” (1:23).
  • Ask that Christ will have first place in every part of your life, and that nothing else will rival him.
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend. This book is available at prayershop.org
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Wednesday, April 24 2024

Good Morning Worshipers! Prepare your hearts to worship at 10 live and on Zoom with Children's Church. Who ya bringing along? May we worship in spirit and truth today and spur each other on to the good works God has for us! Amen! Enter His courts with thanksgiving!

Do you ever feel like your just going through the motions? How about disconnected from God? That's been me since vacation. It feels like I'm in this fog that never returned fully and in some ways like I'm living on borrowed time. Yet aren't we all? Our days our numbered. Are we making the most of them? I had to cry out to God to draw me back. Forgive me. Help me to get back in the game and have some mojo. I asked for me to shed the old and put on the new nature fully and to stay connected and reactive to what God is doing in each moment. I prayed for wisdom to lead like Jesus and make disciples. I asked for help to die to self and be all in doing all that He created me to do. I expect those prayers to transform me this week from being one way to another because of Him! Thanks Lord! How about you? What's God wanting to do in and through you? Talk to Him about that and process with others! (Maybe God is rewriting today's message?) I know He is speaking to me and maybe some of you as well right now! COME! Speak Lord! Have Your way with me and us and bring revival and lead us to your best! Amen! Prepare our hearts to worship in Spirit and Truth as we enter your courts with praise!

God used me and spoke to my heart Friday evening aS WE FELLOWSHIPED WITH SOME FRIENDS. God spoke to my heart this morning as someone reached out in possible despair to encourage and share through our devotionals. I hope we can process some this week and seek clarity and direction for both of us. God is at work and wanting to speak to your heart and use you to bless others. Sometimes He allows testing of our faith to grow us and prepare us. he knows our needs and provides as we seek Him and put Him and His ways first. Don't lean on your own understanding. Acknowledge Him and process with others and allow Him to direct your steps. Plus He has some helpers for you and is preparing and sending you to help others. Rejoice! Start with counting your blessings, dying to self, taking up cross, acknowledging Him in all your ways. Then yoke to Jesus and allow Him to lead you to His best and use you, as you are created, to bring Him glory. Amen! Know His shalom! Follow Him! Amen! See you soon! Day Lights burning! It's time to get back in the game! Help Lord! Amen! 

You matter! He has great plans for you! He's speaking to your heart right now and calling you by name. He's wanting to lead you from being one way to another. Will you seek Him and allow Him to lead you to His best and your custom made purposes? It will be great and the best life you could ever know this side of heaven! Come and see as we follow together! Nothing is impossible nor too small for God! Amen! We all matter and we all have a part in His Good News Deliver Co. As we fulfill our created and gathered purposes and follow Him out to others, we and the world around us will be changed! We will move from what was to His new best and things will be different! PTL! get used to different and allow Him to move you and us from being one way to His best way! Amen

Charles Stanley: 

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ODB:

God Knows Our Needs

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else. Matthew 6:33 nlt

READ Matthew 6:25-34

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

Lando, a jeepney (a form of public transport in the Philippines) driver in Manila, gulped down coffee at a roadside stall. Daily commuters were back again after the Covid-19 lockdowns. And the sports event today means more passengers, he thought. I’ll get back lost income. Finally, I can stop worrying.

He was about to start driving when he spotted Ronnie on a bench nearby. The street sweeper looked troubled, like he needed to talk. But every minute counts, Lando thought. The more passengers, the more income. I can’t linger. But he sensed that God wanted him to approach Ronnie, so he did.

Jesus understood how difficult it is not to worry (Matthew 6:25-27), so He assures us that our heavenly Father knows exactly what we need (v. 32). We’re reminded not to be anxious, but to trust Him and devote ourselves to doing what He wants us to do (vv. 31-33). As we embrace and obey His purposes, we can have confidence that our Father who “clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire” will provide for us according to His will—just as He provides for all creation (v. 30).

Because of Lando’s conversation with Ronnie, the street sweeper eventually prayed to become a believer in Christ. “And God still provided enough passengers that day,” Lando shared. “He reminded me my needs were His concern, mine was simply to follow Him.”

By Karen Huang

REFLECT & PRAY

What anxieties weigh on your heart? What steps can you take to surrender your cares to God?

Dear God, I don’t need to worry because You’ve promised to care and provide for me.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

The observance of the Sabbath was a contentious issue for the religious leaders of Jesus’ day (Matthew 12:1-12; Mark 3:2-5; Luke 13:10-16). But here in Matthew 6, Christ outlines the heart behind the Sabbath as God instituted it long ago.

The Sabbath was intended to remind the Israelites that God would care for them. They could put aside gathering food and supplies one day a week and one year in seven. It was a rhythm of putting into practice exactly what Jesus said: “Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” (v. 25). Sabbath has always been seeking first the kingdom of heaven.

Jed Ostoich

UR: An Army of Helpers

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. - Galatians 6:2 (NIV)

Several years ago, a close family friend and brother in Christ was diagnosed with stage-four colon cancer. Along with the diagnosis came a multitude of concerns. Our friend was the principal breadwinner, so how long could he work to support his family? It was a frightening time.

The apostle Paul admonished the church in Galatia to bear one another’s burdens. Through our friend’s long struggle with cancer, God taught me and others the true meaning of Paul’s words. To carry another’s burden, we must sacrifice something, whether time, energy, or money. Some families combined resources to pay our friend’s rent and bills. Some gave gift cards for groceries. Some volunteered to drive him back and forth to chemotherapy appointments. A veritable army of helpers stepped up to bear this family’s burdens. Above all, we were in constant prayer for our friend’s healing.

We also learned that when God calls us to bear one another’s burdens, it doesn’t mean that we must carry all of it alone; we only need to carry the piece we are given. My piece might not look like your piece. But if we each carry our part, then it lessens the overall load. In carrying others’ burdens, we fulfill the law of Christ — to love one another as God has loved us.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Dear Jesus, teach us how to love others as you love us. Help us to bear the burdens of others with compassion. Amen.TWFYT:

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Saturday, April 13 2024

Good Morning very loved, much forgiven, joy choosing, shalom revivers and bringers!

I could have been very stressed today as I slept almost 10 hours and am way behind my scheduled plans for today. BUT GOD! He is Lord of me and my day. Plus Fridays are my day off. I am choosing joy and to dwell in His shalom and just praising Him for so many things that I can't help but to have a right attitude, renewed thinking, shalom and can even joyfully dance through the rest of the day. PTL!

It's Thank God I'm Forgiven Friday! What are you thankful about today? Keep building and using those gratitude lists. God is the God who brings His shalom to the chaos. PTL! We have and dwell in His shalom because of the work of Jesus on the cross. PTL! Shalom is more than peace. It's completeness, wholeness resting in God. We can know this shalom, even in all the chaos around us, the chaos of our sins and all that leads to guilt and estrangement from God. We can even know His shalom in the darkest valleys of grief. But like joy we have to choose it. Being able to begins with renewing our thinking, mindsets, and minds by praising, even in the storms. If you can't think about praising God right now, how about listing some things you enjoy doing and start there with thanking God for allowing you to do those things. There's a song link below for a song that sometimes doesn't make sense to us, "There's Always A Reason to Always Choose Joy". It may not always feel like that, but healing, restoration and shalom begin with choosing to praise in the storms and choosing joy always and to even smile some when we don't feel like it or aren't able to. And maybe God is sending you to help someone redirect and renew their minds by choosing joy despite the circumstances. Practicing that yourself is key to being ready to be used by God. He redeems and doesn't waste anything that He has allowed us to endure and grow through. Thank God for that!

Smile: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15V2sXSJ8Co

Sometimes darkness endures for the night, but joy comes in the morning is the only promise we can cling to as we endure the darkness. The song above has a line that says to choose to dance...here's another song to help us redirect and even choose to dance in the storms and the deep waters. Joy Comes in the Morning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sGtUWzaJ3E

So pause today. Exhale all the junk, hurt, darkness. Breathe in a fresh breath of the Spirit and ask God to help you to praise Him in the storms and to choose joy. Maybe you will find yourself smiling a little, tapping a toe or maybe even dancing some as you renew your thinking and praise God. Thank God I'm Forgiven! Start there. Thank God He is with me always! Thank God for His help to choose joy and praise in the storms. Thank God for His promised shalom for the weary and downtrodden. Smile! Dance! Joy does come in the morning and even eventually through the mourning. Amen!

Below are our devos about this. If you are struggling right now, please reach out to one of us or a close friend to walk with you and God through the valley to His promised joy and shalom. And try to begin with some praise that renews the heart and mind. Shalom! We are praying for you and we are here. So is God! PTL!

Harvest Prayer Blog:

April 12 - Come in Peace

“So that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God.” (Genesis 28:21, ESV)

The sons of Isaac, Jacob and Esau often created situations that led to turmoil, both in their family and in their own lives. Deception, selfishness, lack of spiritual growth, and spiritual laziness often set brother against brother and drew their parents into places of conflict and confusion. Peace was not a big part of this family!

After Jacob’s amazing encounter with God at Bethel, his heart began to change. He sought peace with his family and his God. Even though it was going to be a long-term process, peace in Jacob’s life was now a priority for him.

That’s one of the key results of coming face-to-face with God. Walking in God’s presence daily is the essence of what we call revival. Revival that revolves around the presence of God produces peace!

Has peace been elusive for you? Whether in your family, your workplace, or in your own emotional life, is peace a missing element? So many struggle to find peace and yet find that it escapes them. Look at what happened with Jacob. He was far from a man of peace until he encountered God. The God of peace brings peace with him. When you seek him and encounter him, his peace begins to flood into your life. A life of continual seeking after the Lord brings a life of peace.

Peace is found in the Father’s lap. A funny story from my childhood illustrates that. I was just a little boy at a family reunion. I was walking along the edge of the house of the family we were visiting. At the corner, I walked right into the big, old family dog. He was bigger than I was and startled me. I began to run. Now I’m sure the dog was thinking that this boy was ready to play, so it came running after me.

This terrified me all the more. The only safe place I could think of was where my father was sitting in the front yard, full of relatives sitting in the shade. I hit the front yard running as fast as I could run with the dog at my heels. I saw my dad in his chair and launched myself in the air, landing right on his lap. The length of the leap might have grown with the telling through the years, but all I knew was that the only place of safety and peace was my father’s lap.

That’s true for our heavenly Father’s lap as well. We draw near to him and he draws near to us (see James 4:8). In his presence is peace. It is a peace that not only transforms our own lives, but also impacts those around us. We say with Jacob, “I come again to my father’s house in peace.”

Since peace is found in the Father’s house, it is essential for you to draw near daily and confess your need to dwell in God’s house.

Father, I come to you, the source of all peace. Your house is a place of peace and I come at your invitation to dwell in your house all the days of my life. Teach me to draw near each day, that your peace would pervade every aspect of my life.

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

ODB:

God’s Agents of Peace

The Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” Acts 23:11

READ Acts 21:27--22:2

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Nora went to the peaceful protest because she felt strongly about the issue of justice. As planned, the demonstration was silent. The protestors walked in powerful quietness through the downtown area.

Then two buses pulled up. Agitators had arrived from out of town. A riot soon broke out. Heartbroken, Nora left. It seemed their good intentions were fruitless.

When the apostle Paul visited the temple at Jerusalem, people who opposed Paul saw him there. They were “from the province of Asia” (Acts 21:27) and viewed Jesus as a threat to their way of life. Shouting lies and rumors about Paul, they quickly stirred up trouble (vv. 28-29). A mob dragged Paul from the temple and beat him. Soldiers came running.

As he was being arrested, Paul asked the Roman commander if he could address the crowd (vv. 37-38). When permission was granted, he spoke to the crowd in their own language, surprising them and seizing their attention (v. 40). And just like that, Paul had turned a riot into an opportunity to share his story of rescue from dead religion (22:2-21).

Some people love violence and division. Don’t lose heart. They will not win. God is looking for courageous believers to share His light and peace with our desperate world. What seems like a crisis might be your opportunity to show someone God’s love.

By Tim Gustafson

REFLECT & PRAY

When have you been in a crisis that you couldn’t make sense of? How do you think the Holy Spirit might help you find the wisdom for what to do in that moment?

Father, my heart aches for our broken world. Help me realize Your Spirit’s presence is far more powerful than any attack the world can throw at me.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

When he had the opportunity, the apostle Paul told how he’d met Christ on the Damascus Road (see Acts 9). In today’s passage, he’d been wrongfully arrested and charged with crimes he didn’t commit. As a result, he tells his story yet again (22:3-21)—this time to a hostile crowd (v. 22). He’d repeat his story again in chapter 26 when standing before King Agrippa.

Bill Crowder

UR: Hands and Feet

Jesus said, “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 (NIV)

Today’s scripture reading means the world to me. This passage helped me to realize that Jesus wants us to be his hands and feet.

I have found different ways to honor Christ through acts of service. Some years back, I began visiting a 94-year-old woman in a local nursing home every Wednesday. I found joy in hearing her talk about cooking on a wood-burning stove and other memories from her younger days. She went to be with Jesus at age 96. Now I help with our church’s food ministry. We give food to those in need and also make coffee at the church on Sunday mornings. I enjoy smiling, hugging people, and simply saying, “Good morning!”

There is always a need that can be met. You might volunteer at the hospital, drive someone to a doctor’s appointment, or send a birthday card to a church member. Even holding a door open for someone can be a way to serve Christ. We bless others with each act of service, and we are blessed as well when we honor Jesus with our hands and feet.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Dear God, thank you for allowing us to be your hands and feet. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

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Saturday, April 13 2024

Good Morning Loved, Accepted Children of the God Who Brings Order to Chaos and Trains us in Righteousness!

Well something like that is from our devotionals today. Check them out yourself below. What's God saying to you this morning. he is always seeking to bring His shalom to the chaos and help our unbelief. he forgives and cleanses and continues to love us despite our flaws and even unbelief sometimes. He created us, knows us, calls us by name, forgives, cleanses and helps us to renew our minds and thinking and to walk in His best ways. be still and know. Confess and repent. trust and obey. Think rightly and receive His shalom!

I gotta run as we have a very busy day today. Pray for us to prepare our hearts to worship tomorrow at 10am live and on Zoom with Children's Church. Invite and bring someone along as we worship in Spirit and Truth. Pray for God to go before me with favor at the track today (if they don't cancel) and to use me well to connect more people to Him. Thanks!

You know we can soar like on wings of eagles as we let go and let God. try that today as you check out one of my favorite oldies from FFH. I'm Ready to Fly! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6V7wjqF3Xs

It's time to fly and soar! The sun is breaking through and today is the day to step into God's shalom, dance, sing and soar! FLY! Choose joy! help our unbelief Lord and allow us to dwell in You shalom today and soar! Thanks! Help us to train our brains to be fix upon You, Your Truth and to trust and follow You well. Come! Fill us with Your healing love and joy for this day. May we soar and draw others to you with our joy and perseverance! Thank You! Come! Carry us on Your wings! FLY! Amen!

ODB:

The God of Order

The earth was complete chaos, and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Genesis 1:2 nrsv

READ Genesis 1:1-10

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

Seth took all the medications he could find in the medicine cabinet. Raised in a family filled with brokenness and disorder, his life was a mess. His mom was regularly abused by his father until his dad took his own life. Now Seth wanted to “just end” his own. But then a thought came to mind, Where do I go when I die? By God’s grace, Seth didn’t die that day. And in time, after studying the Bible with a friend, he received Jesus as his Savior. Part of what drew Seth to God was seeing the beauty and order in creation. He said, “I . . . see things that are just beautiful. Someone made all this.”

In Genesis 1, we read of the God who indeed created all things. And although “the earth was complete chaos” (v. 2 nrsv), He brought order out of disorder. He “separated the light from the darkness” (v. 4), placed land amid the seas (v. 10), and made plants and creatures according to their “kinds” (vv. 11-12, 21, 24-25). The One who “created the heavens and earth and put everything in place” (Isaiah 45:18 nlt) continues to, as Seth discovered, bring peace and order to lives surrendered to Christ.

Life can be chaotic and challenging. Praise God that He’s not “a God of disorder but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33). Let’s call out to Him today and ask Him to help us find the beauty and order He alone provides.

By Tom Felten

REFLECT & PRAY

What chaos are you experiencing in your life? How can God help you bring order and peace to it?  

Creator God, thank You for the peace and order You alone provide. In You, broken things become beautiful.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

The book of Genesis (meaning “beginning” or “origin”) is attributed to Moses, along with the four Old Testament books that follow (known collectively as the Torah or Pentateuch). This Genesis narrative outlines the origin of the world, the human race, sin, and the Jewish people. Moses was well educated “in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:22) and may have had access to Jacob’s records or other sources, along with the stories passed down through the generations. In the Pentateuch, we read that God instructed Moses to write down His words (Exodus 17:14; 34:27), and that he obeyed (24:4; Numbers 33:2; Deuteronomy 31:9). Throughout the Old Testament, others point to his authorship (1 Kings 2:3; 2 Chronicles 34:14). Jesus Himself refers to “the Book of Moses” (Mark 12:26). But Moses didn’t write on his own. He wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21).

Alyson Kieda

Charles Stanley

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UR: Acceptance

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TWFYT:

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Saturday, April 13 2024

Good Morning Patient, Forgiving, Loving, Co-Laborers! Maybe I should have listened better to the still small voice that said to skip writing a blog yesterday. I was tired, not feeling well, running late, frustrated, fixated on things that can't change and angry. Some felt yesterday's blog was a "spanking" or used as a bully pulpit. Please forgive me! I was stating facts but also some things that most of you have no knowledge of yet. I may have been running ahead of God as well and pushing my agendas instead of allowing Him to lead us--lead me. There may also be some Holy Spirit pinching for some of us too. Anyway, please forgive me and let us continue to work together and spur each other on to the good works God created us to do. Let us seek Him and listen, plan and plan to follow Him well together. He does have great plans for you and us together. That's where some of my frustration comes as I can see and taste some of what lies ahead and want it NOW! Some of the pushing is my old nature rearing its ugly head as I used to be running ahead of God all the time. Immature apostles tend to do that. Lord help me die to self, stay yoked to and moving with You! Help us all to stay connected to you and each other and following well. Forgive me for forcing things or trying to get my way. Help us all to die to self, take up cross daily and follow Jesus to our custom made purposes each day and all for your glory alone. Thank You! Amen!

Since I have been at the church, geez--is it around 10 years already?, during the summer Family Ministries went to a park for the summer beginning after Memorial Day until after the kids returned to school. There were no other indoor activities except Sunday worship until recently when we added the Clothing Closet and Bread Ministries. It has become increasingly hard to reach and connect to families and over the past few years have had lots of severe weather and vacations and sports to work around making it hard to have a consistent schedule with so few families. We will try some things again this summer but need to meet and plan and assess schedules. Think about this fact: trying to reach kids, we are trying to reach 3-6 generations of families that have been away and disconnected from church. Church and even Christians are irrelevant to them. The people God is connecting us to recently are those in the 40-60 age bracket that still have a remembrance of when everyone went to church and/or went to church regularly themselves in the past. ("Train a child in the way they should go"...they have a foundation to come back to). We have to be creative in reaching the next generations. But PTL! He is sending some of those we have been praying for from the 30-60 age bracket! How can we continue to connect to them and them to God? Two Peas in a Pod meals have been different days/evenings and usually shut down for the summer. That will be the case again this year. The past several years we have added a Wed. evening dinner huddle that has attracted 20+ typically to eat, fellowship, watch the Chosen or a video series and have discussions. (Half of these are not from our church yet) That group has always taken off for the summer. Last year we tried to meet once a month at a different community park to picnic and fellowship but ran into those severe weather conditions too often having to postpone or cancel. We may try that again this year? We have to pray, plan and asses yet over the next few weeks. We no longer do things like VBS because we don't have the people to run one well nor the kids to make it worthwhile. (When I led VBS at Trinity Boyertown we had 100 workers to reach 120 kids who were mostly from the church or grandkids of members) VBS ends up becoming like a Sunday school for our kids and maybe a few other church kids from the area but not an outreach. If someone would be interested in leading some kind of Bible study or ministry in the building during the summer, talk to us and gather a team to plan something. (Note: Mon evenings the building is rented to a Narcotics Anonymous group and the fellowship hall will not be available. However Room 102 and Al's old office are available and air conditioned).

We have seen God's hand of blessing upon us as we minister to neighbors with bread and clothing and have been connecting to some new members that are connecting to God and serving already. PTL! How can we find some new connection points this summer? Talk to us about some ideas we have or come up with your own. What do you normally do or where do you often go that you connect to others and how can we come alongside and encourage and spur on? OR it could be that God is saying take a healthy break for the summer like you have in the past. Sometimes it's good to take a healthy break. My concern and frustration arises about loosing momentum of what is working right now. But our servants are busy and tired and rest is a healthy rhythm from God. God does have really good plans for us that we need to pray into, discern, process and plan, even if that includes some rest for a season. So let us keep doing that and seek and follow well to God's best for us. 

Here's the thing that we have to remember, we can have all kinds of good and better ideas, but we need to just focus on God's best. And He provides where He guides and that includes workers and funds. One of the things that gets me all bound up and frustrated is seeing all these cool ideas and feeling the pressure that I have to plan, lead and do them. BUT GOD! He said, I will provide where I am guiding and that includes workers, funds, and fair weather. Donald, I don't expect you to do it all. (Now I have to convince myself to let go of my expectations for His) Do what you can with what I've given, Donald. Do only what I have created, gifted and am sending you to do. We need to seek, discern and plan together to follow God to His best for you and us. That's the plan. What's God saying to you? Talk to us! Let us pray and plan together what God has prepared for us! Amen!

Yesterday, we had two opportunities for some awesome ministry and serving! :) Bread and donut day was amazing with over 60 being served and many hanging out discussing and praying. We even gave the leftover little Jesus' from Easter to those coming and reminded them that Jesus loves you. The people received them with joy and thanksgiving. As about a dozen or so of us were sitting around near the end, Chuck "miraculously" found the current Our Daily Bread sitting near by. He started reading that because Harry, who was praying for boldness as his word to work on last year to share boldly, encouraged him to start reading it and listening to God. Near the end of March, Chuck picked up the new April copy and said to me, "I peaked at April 1st. Wait until you read that! It's talking about St Matts". Yesterday, he read that to the group. WOW!!!! It touched so many of us, including Patrick that God is working on and we are praying for. Then we discussed it again last evening at huddle and assessed how God is speaking to us and the plans He has for us for small groups and to continue our Acts 2:42 type of ministries. Your call to ministry does not and probably will not be some big thing--just little steps of faith and obedience along the way to becoming more like Jesus. God uses that to bring His love, Word, and plans alive! Amen! The Bible verse used was Hebrews 10:19-25. I think it's appropriate to end with that today as we meditate and pray into God's summer plans for us. I will have our other devos including that one below. Let us continue to pray into meeting together, encouraging and spurring each other on and following God well to His plans for us to go and make disciples of Jesus together! Shalom!

Acts 2:42 (the foundation of our ministries that are flourishing right now as God sends and uses us) 42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

and Hebrews 10:19-25: A call to persevere! 

19 And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. 20 By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. 21 And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, 22 let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. [This part is speaking into the new way where we are all priests unto the Lord and Jesus is our intercessor taking our prayers to God. It's a call to bold praying and to persevere in earnest praying, seeking, processing and following!]

23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. [This is the part that touched Chuck and us. God is at work in and through this new follower! PTL! Let us reason and process together for ways to motivate and spur on and encourage one another. Day light is burning! God has great plans for you and us! Amen! ]

The April 1st ODB speaks into the encouragement and growth that comes by worshiping and fellowshipping together. They ask, "Who needs your support and God's reassurance?" Pray into that and invite someone to join us whenever we gather and bring them along or meet them at one of our activities. Every recent new member was invited by one of us to come and see and check out what God is doing through us and experience His love. They have! PTL! Yes, God is at work! Let us continue to spur each other on! The closing prayer that day was: "Loving God, please help me not to give up meeting together with other believers, but to experience together Your peace and love." And I say Amen to that! May we all know God shalom and love and continue to encourage and work out our faith together earnestly. May we become more in '24! More like Jesus (less of me) and doing more of the things we are created to do--living and loving more like Jesus! Amen!

Upper Room: Small Gifts (we are all gifted according to how we are created to do good works and we find many small gifts from God along the way that lead to His using us. Amen!

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. - James 1:17 (NIV)

When I retired four years ago, I was given a small, round, handsewn cushion. I kept it on a chair, mainly for ornamental reasons. However, recently the cushion has become useful for me every day.

For the past two months I’ve been recovering from spinal decompression surgery. Sleep has been difficult due to the uncomfortable surgical wound in my lower back. When I was urged by my physiotherapist to place a pillow or cushion between my knees while sleeping, I suddenly remembered the gift of the small cushion and began using it as prescribed. Imagine my delight to find that the cushion helped me sleep virtually pain-free!

Our loving God gives us gifts each day — gifts we often don’t even recognize, let alone use. But the Bible is filled with accounts of our caring God providing gifts to so many people — the best example being the gift of God’s Son, Jesus Christ! The gift of a small cushion has reawakened my discovery of the big and small gifts God gives us each and every day.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Loving God, thank you for the gift of Jesus Christ and the many gifts you provide each day. Amen.TWFYT: May we choose to be doers of His Word! May we be like Chuck yesterday and incarnate (bring to life) God's Living Word to others! Amen!

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Charles Stanley: We can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens us! Amen! What's your "All things" today? Let us choose to earnestly bring His Word and love alive!

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Prayer Starters from Alvin VanDergrind: We talked about John 3:16 and First John 3:16 last evening...how cool for God to include that in our prayer time today! May we choose to die to self, take up cross daily and follow Jesus, at His pace, to His best, as we yoke to Him and learn to live and love more like Him! Amen!

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Posted by: AT 03:02 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, April 10 2024

Today:

10-12 Donuts and conversations at the Bread Ministry 10-12 all welcome

6-7:30 Dinner Huddle All welcome

Yesterday we signed a contract with Revival Church to rent our sanctuary Sunday evenings from 5-8. Their first service is next Sunday April 21st. All are invited to come and worship with them. I hope to attend and welcome them to our building and to build some relationships to do some ministry together in the future.

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Good Morning Harvest Workers! The harvest is ripe and ripening! Pray for workers for the harvest! We need you, harvest worker, joy and Good News Bringer! What is your custom made part in God's Good News Delivery Co. St. Matts Branch? What are you, will you, do about it? Who is God wanting to partner you with to carry out His plans. Really pray into that and ask for a willing heart to step up and serve and co-labor with some friends.

Last evening our Vision Team had a great time sharing ideas for possibilities to get out of the building this summer and to connect to neighbors. Remember, in effect, our indoor ministry will be shut down for the summer. After seeking God, you voted to not air condition the Fellowship Hall. That decision changed our plans for the summer to what His plans are for us for the summer. He is leading us out of the building and wanting to answer our prayers for new connection points in our neighborhoods. Last evening was an attempt to discern where, what and with who God is wanting to send us. It was supposed to be an evening to begin planning some outreach activities. However, we ran into a snag--a big one. No one is willing to lead or plan any of the things we thought of. So, who may God want YOU to partner with to host and plan some out activity this summer? What will you do about it? I can't do it all and am honoring God's healthy rhythms by choosing not to try like I usually do. I will be focusing on Family Ministries for the summer. That leaves all kinds of adult ministry opportunities to seize to connect to neighbors. What ideas is God giving you? Who does He want you to partner with?

I can't believe God wants us to basically shut down for the summer when we have been making great inroads in connecting to neighbors and connecting them to God. We have pretty much done what we can with the Bread and Clothing Ministry and will continue to connect with the people God is sending to those ministries. However, there are more connection points awaiting our discovery. What do you normally do and enjoy that God may want to use to connect some of us with outsiders needing to know the love of Jesus? Invite a friend or two to join you and try something new intentionally. Maybe a neighborhood cookout. Maybe a night at Rita's and sitting around connecting to others. The ideas are endless! I'm praying for you! God and some He is drawing are waiting for you as well. Where's He leading YOU! Who does He want you to partner with and host and plan something?

April 28th will be our last Brunch for the summer. The Vision Team determined we could try a church picnic again with a tentative date of June 9th. However, we need someone to lead, plan and host. Is that you?

May 15th will be our last indoor gathering of Family Ministries and Adults for dinner and discussions. In the Fall, Family Ministry and Adult Huddle will be separate evenings. I cannot minister to both groups when we are combined. I will be gathering and planning some summer stuff for Family Ministries before May 15. Who wants to do something with the adults for the summer? There were all kinds of ideas shared last evening and God may be leading you to one to try with this group that already gathers weekly. Pray about it and plan some things with some friends. (Half the people that are part of the adult group do not attend our church yet.) How can we continue to reach and partner with them this summer?

We will continue with the Bread Ministry connections for the summer and beyond, but it's time to find some new connection points if we wish to continue to grow, makes disciples and become a dynamic movement of God! Where's God leading you and who with? Keep praying into that! And ask for courage and wisdom to lead or co-lead and plan some things! Ask for eyes t see the new things God is planning for you and us and courage to do something about it. I'm praying for you! You are custom made for custom purposes of God for such a time as this! It's time to grow into living sacrificially and loving lavishly like Jesus! Day light's burning!

ODB:

Eyes to See

I . . . will make you to be a covenant for the people and . . . to open eyes that are blind. Isaiah 42:6-7

READ Isaiah 42:5-9

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

Genevieve had to be the “eyes” for her three children, each born with congenital cataracts. Whenever she took them into their village in the Republic of Benin of western Africa, she strapped the baby onto her back and held on to the arm and hand of her older two, always looking for danger. In a culture where blindness was thought to be caused by witchcraft, Genevieve despaired and cried out to God for help.

Then a man from her village told her about Mercy Ships, a ministry that provides vital surgeries to honor Jesus’ model of bringing hope and healing to the poor. Uncertain if they could help, she approached them. When the children woke up after their surgeries, they could see!

God’s story has always been about coming alongside those shrouded in darkness and bringing His light. The prophet Isaiah declared that God would be “a light for the Gentiles” (Isaiah 42:6). He would “open eyes that are blind” (v. 7), restoring not only physical sight but spiritual vision as well. And He promised to “take hold” of His people’s hand (v. 6). He restored sight to the blind and brought light to those living in the darkness.

If you feel overcome by darkness, cling to hope as you embrace the promises of our loving Father while asking for His light to bring illumination.

By Amy Boucher Pye

REFLECT & PRAY

How has God opened your eyes, physically or spiritually? How can He remove the blinders you may have?

Heavenly Father, You desire that no one would live in darkness. Release Your love on those who are blinded in any way, that they might see.

Learn more about having a personal relationship with God.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Isaiah 42:1-4 is the first of four “Servant Songs” in Isaiah (see also 49:1-6; 50:4-9; 52:13–53:12). Various passages in Isaiah point to Israel, God’s chosen people, as the servant (41:8; 44:21; 45:4; 48:20). While many of those prophetic songs do deal with Israel in the nation’s circumstances at that time, New Testament scholars believe other passages find their ultimate fulfillment in Jesus the Messiah (42:1; see 11:2; 49:3, 5-7; 50:10; 52:13; 53:11), the one who came in the very form and essence of a servant (Philippians 2:5-8)—obeying to the point of death on the cross. This servant’s heart was also displayed in Christ the night before the cross when He took the place of the lowest slave and washed His disciples’ feet in the upper room (John 13:1-17). This striking example of the heart of the divine Servant was an example to teach us how to serve both God and one another.

Bill Crowder
Posted by: AT 06:13 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, April 10 2024

Good Morning Devoted, Persistent, Clothed in Christ, Co-Laborers! Amen! God is a God that specializes in bringing His shalom--His peace--to the chaos around us. I am in the midst of a chaotic morning that could lead to all kinds of stress. In the past I would have been very stressed by now--BUT GOD! He hears my prayers and invites to be the Lord of me and my day and to bring His shalom. When we ask and make Him Lord, we have confidence that everything is filtered through His hands. He knows what's going on in our lives, what's needed or not, and where He's leading us. Knowing that helps to exhale the junk and receive His peace. Breathe out the junk and take a deep breath of the Spirit right now. Do it again and again until you have cast all your anxiety on God and invited Him to take control. He is the GOOD Shepherd! He has plans for you--plans for good and not harm. Receive His shalom and step into this day refreshed and with the Good Shepherd as the Lord of your day. Amen!     

TWFYT is in day 2 of helping with stress relief. Check it out and our other devos below. The Upper Room is a reminder of our call to team up and be better in Christ and ODB reminds us that we are clothed in Christ. How do these tie together? Talk to God about that and schedule a time to discuss what you are hearing with some friends. I'm praying for us all to know and follow God's peace and to do so more earnestly together. I'm praying that we discover His plans for us this summer at our Vision team meeting tonight and begin working on His plans to get out and make Christ known. I'm praying for the chaos to disappear as we trust God and allow His shalom to overflow from us. Thanks Lord! Hear our prayers and be the Lord and Shepherd of this day and Your people. Thanks! Amen! Shalom!

UR: Ten People Prayed

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. - Acts 2:42 (NIV)

A few years ago, I felt like something was missing from my life. My days lacked meaning and purpose. However, instead of bringing my concern to God, I looked for fulfillment in lots of wrong places — which only left me feeling emptier. I struggled to change my ways and turn to God.

My church group was focusing on spiritual health and encouraged members to share their struggles. At first I was hesitant to discuss my emptiness. Most people value strength, independence, and success, not fragility or need. But I finally opened up to the group and asked for help.

After that meeting, ten people started praying for me. Soon after, I sensed God’s presence and power in the circumstances around me, steering me away from distractions. Sermons, devotionals, and Bible verses reminded me of God’s provision. Together, these factors helped me find new life in God.

Being vulnerable wasn’t easy. But when I asked, I found that others were glad to help. Group members checked in on me regularly and offered encouragement. Their prayers and God’s responses gave me hope that God would give me new purpose and supply what was missing from my life.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Thank you, God, for responding to the prayers of our church family. Help us to ask for support when we need it. Amen.ODB:

Clothed in Christ

Let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Romans 13:12

READ Romans 13:11-14

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I was so excited to put on my new glasses for the first time, but after just a few hours I wanted to throw them away. My eyes ached and head throbbed from adjusting to the new prescription. My ears were sore from the unfamiliar frames. The next day I groaned when I remembered I had to wear them. I had to repeatedly choose to use my glasses each day in order for my body to adjust. It took several weeks, but after that, I hardly noticed I was wearing them.

Putting on something new requires an adjustment, but over time we grow into it, and it suits us better. We may even see things we didn’t see before. In Romans 13, the apostle Paul instructed Christ followers to “put on the armor of light” (v. 12) and practice right living. They had already believed in Jesus, but it seems they had fallen into “slumber” and become more complacent; they needed to “wake up” and take action, behave decently and let go of all sin (vv. 11-13). Paul encouraged them to be clothed with Jesus and become more like Him in their thoughts and deeds (v. 14).

We don’t begin to reflect the loving, gentle, kind, grace-filled, and faithful ways of Jesus overnight. It’s a long process of choosing to “put on the armor of light” every day, even when we don’t want to because it’s uncomfortable. Over time, He changes us for the better.

By Karen Pimpo

REFLECT & PRAY

What does it look like to “put on” Jesus today? How does practicing Christlikeness become more comfortable over time?

Dear Jesus, thank You that You’re transforming me day by day.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

At the end of Romans 13, Paul contrasts darkness and light. The interplay between the two is symbolic for the life that people lived before believing in Christ and the life they now live in Him. This contrast is seen in several of the apostle’s letters. Before coming to Jesus, we “were once darkness” (Ephesians 5:8), performed “deeds of darkness” (v. 11), and belonged to “the dominion of darkness” (Colossians 1:13) and “to the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:5).

After coming to Christ, however, we’re not to have fellowship with darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14), should “live as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8), and have nothing to do with the “fruitless deeds of darkness” (v. 11). We’ve been rescued “from the dominion of darkness” (Colossians 1:13) and are “children of the light and children of the day” (1 Thessalonians 5:5).

J.R. Hudberg

TWFYT:

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Posted by: AT 06:13 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, April 10 2024

Good Morning Brothers and Sisters in Christ! I'm baaack! Karen and I thank you for your prayers! We had a great week of getting some things done at home and then away for a nice retreat in the mountains west of Gettysburg. Now for the transition back--help us Lord! We could both enjoy the retired life! BUT GOD! In His timing! So back at it! There is so much I want to share, yet so much that I think God wants you to process on your own. These blogs are typically my journal notes based off our devotionals for the day. That may be changing? I am still seeking God on that. Today, I am just sharing Our Daily Bread's reminder that we are to be joy bringers as we choose joy and celebrate all God is doing--even the little things along the way. What's God saying to you? I threw in Charles Stanley's reminder to always celebrate and praise. Keep building those gratitude lists!

It sure was nice to get away. We will be doing that for Karen's birthday next month as well. Can't wait! However, there is so much joy and satisfaction in serving God and allowing Him to mold me into my fuller potential and doing what He created me to do that I can't ever imagine retiring. Even if I retire, there is no retiring from Christian service. God loves you and has plans for you until He calls you home as well. Rejoice and choose to follow well and bring His love and joy wherever He leads you today! Amen!

 Schedule for the week:

Tue: Zoom Huddle 10-11, 11 AM meet with Revival Church elders to sign contract for Sun evening worship and to tour building, 6:30 PM Vision Team Zoom (Please pray for our leaders to hear God and make His plans for the summer)

Wed: 10-12 Donut Day at the Bread Ministry. (pray for God to connect us to some neighbors and to connect them to Him) 6-7:30 Dinner Huddle with Family Ministry and Adults. All welcome! (Possible meeting with new NA group that wants to use our building)

All week: Pray for me to transition back to sermon prep, huddles prep, and janitorial duties and some visitations well. Thanks

ODB:

Joy in the City

When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices. Proverbs 11:10

READ Proverbs 11:1-11

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

When France and Argentina met in the 2022 World Cup final, it was an incredible contest that many dubbed the “greatest World Cup match in history.” As the final seconds ticked off in extra time, the score was tied 3-3, sending the soccer teams to penalty kicks. After Argentina made the winning goal, the nation erupted in celebration. More than a million Argentineans overwhelmed downtown Buenos Aires. Drone footage spread across social media showing this raucous, happy scene. One BBC report described how the city quaked with “an explosion of joy.”

Joy is always a wonderful gift. Proverbs, though, describes how a city, a people, can experience joy that goes even deeper and lasts far longer. “When the righteous prosper,” Proverbs says, “the city rejoices” (11:10). When those who truly live by God’s designs for humanity begin to influence a community, then this signals good news because it means God’s justice is taking hold. Greed diminishes. The poor find support. The oppressed are protected. Whenever God’s right way of living flourishes, then there’s joy and “blessing” in the city (v. 11).

If we’re genuinely living out God’s ways, then the result will be good news for everyone. The way we live will make the community around us better and more whole. God invites us to be part of His work to heal the world. He invites us to bring joy to the city.

By Winn Collier

REFLECT & PRAY

Where do you see the need for joy in your city? How can you bring God’s joy there?

Dear God, please help me to join You in bringing joy to others.  

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

The book of Proverbs belongs to the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament. It can be divided into two sections. In chapters 1-9, Solomon offers wisdom to his son on a variety of topics, ranging from money to choosing good companions to sexual purity. Chapters 10-31, however, are a seemingly random collection of wise sayings. A number are presented in statements of contrast called antithetical parallelism, where the righteous are contrasted with the wicked. Many are written by Solomon (10:1–22:16). Chapters 25-27 are Solomon’s proverbs collected by the men of King Hezekiah. Others come from a group of anonymous wise men (22:17–24:34), Agur (ch. 30), and King Lemuel (ch. 31).

The proverbs contain a treasure chest of wisdom on perennial subjects such as managing relationships, work, integrity, and parenting. Some are also quoted in the New Testament; for example, Romans 12:20, James 4:6, and 1 Peter 5:5.

Open the treasure chest of wisdom in Proverbs here.

Lecture - Our Daily Bread University

Bill Crowder

Charles Stanley:

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Posted by: AT 06:12 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, April 10 2024

Good Morning Standing-On-The-Promises, Children of God's Shalom! Peace! Jesus said "Peace I give to you." Have you received it? God got me up early today to share His love and peace with you. I had no intention of doing a blog today. BUT GOD! He made it evident that at least one of you, maybe several, maybe all of us need to be reminded of our true identity in Christ, His love and His promised peace. We also need to be reminded to choose it sometimes.

Some of us put on all kinds of facades in fear of how we will be judged by others. We find it hard to be who we are created to be, maybe too often. Me? Well, I yams what I yams, as Popeye says. But I too sometimes find it hard to let go of my expectations and worry about perceptions and forget to let God be God in and through me just as I am. You know pastors have this persona to keep up. But you all know that I don't fake who I am in Christ. I'm Donald, beloved child of God, created in His image, custom made for custom purposes. And I have peace being me and doing what I am made to do. You can know that too! I know I am a forgiven sinner, saved by grace and God wants to use me as I am created. That is Jesus' easy yoke. Put it on today. Choose joy. Choose peace. Choose to be you--a creation of God, called by name, forgiven and sent to allow Him to live and love through you just as you are. As you do and get more practice and comfortable in your flesh, God will lead you to His greater things and your fuller potential as you put on Christ and bring Him alive.

Who cares what others think! God knows you and still loves you! Live for Him and allow Him to work out all the details. Choose peace, joy, love and some good Christian friends to do life with. Be encouraged! Be of good cheer! God is near! God loves you--ALWAYS and Forever! I love you too and am signing off until Monday, unless God has other plans. Shalom! Listen for God's loving whisper today--always! Amen

Harvest Prayer blog:

April 2 - Let Peace Rule

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:15)

When speaking of peace in Colossians, Paul pulls out all the stops and hits us with the word “rule.” Peace is to rule in our hearts. This is a far cry from an emotion of peacefulness or an attitude we have somehow developed. Ruling is a powerful word that indicates the ability to transform and direct the activities of your life. The peace of Christ has that innate ability to rule.

It is interesting that Paul’s command is that we let peace do its ruling work in our hearts. The peace of Christ, let loose in your life, will rule and direct you in ways that line up with the purposes of Christ. Our job is to let that happen. In a sense, that means that we give permission to the peace of Christ to rule.

You get to choose who or what will rule in your heart. God’s Word tells us that the very best thing we can do is let peace take over.

Sometimes it seems that life throws everything at you, all at once. In the fall of 1998 that happened to Kim (my wife) and me. My father was in the last stages of his five-year battle with lymphoma. My mother, who was his primary caregiver, suffered a massive stroke that paralyzed her right side for the rest of her life. Dad was on one floor of the hospital and Mom on another. My mom’s brother was on yet another floor of the hospital, dying from cancer. In the midst of that, we got a call that Kim’s mom had a TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack—a precursor to a stroke) giving us the fear of another stroke coming in the family.
We ran into the arms of Jesus. There was nowhere else to go. His peace enveloped us and though circumstances did not change, I can say with confidence that his peace began to rule in our hearts. The peace of Christ was in charge, not the circumstances of failing health and fear.

The key is our choice. Regardless of what is happening in or around us that is stealing our peace or creating anxiety, we can still choose to let peace rule in our hearts. This is where faith steps in and takes over. We go to God’s Word which tells us to simply let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, and though that seems woefully inadequate in the face of our fears, we, by faith, say yes to the Word of God. We pray that truth into our lives and watch and see what God does with an obedient, faithful heart.

Memorize Colossians 3:15: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Begin each day by affirming that the peace of Christ is ruling in your heart.

Lord, today I choose to let Your peace rule in my heart. Regardless of what happens around me, it is Your peace that will rule within. Thank You that we have literally been called to this peace by You. I am 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.

Charles Stanley:

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Upper Room:

The younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. - Luke 15:13 (NIV)

Just like the younger son in Jesus’ parable, I squandered my life in wild living. Drugs and alcohol consumed me, and I became a shell of a man. Deep down I knew there had to be a better way.

One cloudy Saturday in early June 2013, I found myself sitting in front of a church in southern Delaware. I was waiting for the Narcotics Anonymous meeting to start, but I had arrived early and was the only one there. Not long after I arrived, a man pulled into the church parking lot and parked in a space reserved for the pastor. I told him my story. He listened attentively and invited me to the next day’s service when he would be preaching about the Prodigal Son. In my heart, I knew I was supposed to attend that service.

As I sat in the front row of the church the next morning, I felt the pastor was talking directly to me. Within an hour, I knew that I would never squander another day. That church welcomed me. Today I am blessed beyond compare. I am the Prodigal Son, and God has received me with love.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Dear God, forgive us for squandering our days. Help us to realize how precious life is. Amen.

 

Prayer Points

  • Praise God for being a great and awesome God (Deut. 7:21).
  • Thank him for bending down low in order to bring salvation and faith to you.
  • Confess times when you’ve thought God was small and powerless.
  • Commit yourself to worshiping God with “reverence and awe” (Heb. 12:28).
  • Ask for a true sense of awe as you meet God in the sanctuary (Ps. 68:35).
  • The psalmist says to God: “How awesome are your deeds! . . . All the earth bows down to you” (Ps. 66:3-4). Pray that God’s awesome power might be clearly evident throughout his kingdom worldwide.
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.
Posted by: AT 06:12 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, April 10 2024
He is risen--indeed! Festive Family Worship with communion at 10 and on Zoom. Prepare your hearts and communion elements
Good Morning Children of the Resurrection! Today we celebrate the greatest event in the history of the universe! He is risen and victorious! PTL! We are forgiven and His Spirit lives in us and He is interceding before the Father for us. We have exchanged our filthy rags and put on His righteousness! WOW! How good is our God and how blessed are we! What love! Hallelujah! Rejoice for Christ our Lord has risen today! What can be added to that? 
Check out a couple of devos below and Joe Toy newsletter. Reminder: Pastor Don begins vacation after worship today. Sarah is available for any emergencies this week. There probably will not be any blogs this week. Tue Huddle and Wed night dinner huddle have off this week. Enjoy a week of worship, rest and renewal! God loves you and is speaking to your hearts! What's He saying to you? Be still and know! Karen and I covet your prayers for a fun week of rest and renewal, great weather and health too. Thanks! Jesus loves you and so do we! Shalom!
Charles Stanley:
Inline image
 
Our Daily Bread:

Jesus Christ Is Risen Today!

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Matthew 28:6

READ Matthew 28:1–10

Before Charles Simeon attended university in Cambridge, England, he loved horses and clothes, spending a huge sum on his attire yearly. But because his college required him to attend regular Communion services, he started to explore what he believed. After reading books written by believers in Jesus, he experienced a dramatic conversion on Easter Sunday. Awaking early on April 4, 1779, he cried out, “Jesus Christ is risen today! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” As he grew in his faith in God, he devoted himself to Bible study, prayer, and attending chapel services.

On the first Easter, life changed for the two women who arrived at Jesus’ tomb. There they witnessed a violent earthquake as an angel rolled back the stone. He said to them, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said” (Matthew 28:5–6). Overjoyed, the women worshiped Jesus and ran back to tell their friends the good news.

Encountering the risen Christ isn’t something reserved for ancient times—He promises to meet us here and now. We might experience a dramatic encounter, such as the women at the tomb or as Charles Simeon did, but we might not. In whatever way Jesus reveals Himself to us, we can trust that He loves us.

By Amy Boucher Pye

REFLECT & PRAY

How has God shown Himself to you? How have you changed because of your encounter with Him?

Risen Jesus, thank You for coming and dying on the cross that I might have life eternal. I worship You.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Matthew’s resurrection account is stunning, particularly in its honesty. In addition to the joy of the women upon seeing the risen Jesus (28:8), we’re also told of the disciples’ unbelief (v. 17). When you weave together the resurrection accounts in the various gospels (and 1 Corinthians 15), it’s clear that Jesus had appeared to His disciples several times at this point, yet some still doubted. We might find a small measure of comfort in that. In spite of all Christ has done for us and the ways He’s proven Himself merciful and faithful, we still can struggle with doubts as they did. Like the father of the demonized boy, we find ourselves praying, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).

Bill Crowder
Joe Toy Newsletter:
“And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

Dear Friends,

One of our prayer items as we prepare for an outreach is to have team unity.  Each team is made up of diverse people from many differing backgrounds and various levels of spiritual maturity.  The Lord truly blessed us with a great team of students from Liberty University. Even though we had a few people with timid personalities, they jumped into the task each day and did their best to share the gospel and represent Christ to the lost.   One of our team shared this, “I was very uncertain when I first signed up for the trip and I didn’t even know if I wanted to go.  However, I realized that I would never put myself out there and evangelize if I did not force myself to. The trip was an eye-



opening experience and helped me to realize that to grow closer in my relationship with God and challenge my faith, I would need to do things like this.” 
      One of the blessings of being an evangelist is to take others with us and give them experiences to see the power of God at work in the ministry.  All of these young people learned to trust God and were challenged to do things whereby they had no choice, but to seek God’s help each day, whether it was teaching inner city children or sharing their faith in Christ with college students and international tourists who were visiting Miami Beach.

This was our third year of working in Buena Vista Apartments and the welcome mat was out.  Miss Bella called us to make sure that we were coming and as we arrived she was already gathering up the children.  She is the matriarch of this small community and is well respected by all her neighbors.   It was an awesome start to our five day club as we had over thirty kids in attendance.  Our team did a great job interacting with the kids as they learned Bible verses, sang gospel songs, enjoyed object lessons and observed an illustrated bible lesson each day and of course who does not love game time.  One student's reflection of her time is summed up this way, “The very last day of the kid’s ministry was the best in my opinion because I got to share the gospel with a group of kids that were very attentive and listening and seemed receptive to the message.”  These types of mission trips not only impact people with the gospel, but also transform the lives of the team as they see the need to reach the lost.

The city of Miami Beach made it very clear that they were divorcing themselves from Spring Break.  They no longer desired to deal with the toxic behavior of drunken students, who would fight, riot, and even shoot each other as has happened the last few years. There were no planned events, parking in city lots was $100 and they implemented a midnight curfew.  On Friday night, there was probably only ten percent of the crowd that was there last year and the police presence was unreal. In all my years of ministry with the countless events, I have never seen this many police at one place. We spent most of our night on Ocean Drive on South Beach. Although the crowds were not thick, we had plenty of people to talk to each night.  Our main tool was an illustrated puzzle which end with the question, “Is there life after death?”

The team did a great job interacting with whoever stopped.  One night Gretel, who is from Hong Kong, was able to use her language skills to share the gospel with a group of Chinese students.  How awesome is the Lord to set up that encounter! 
I can remember talking to groups of people from Africa, India and Brazil in my first hour on the street.  Some encounters are sad as one young man told me, “I am a little too drunk to talk about this right now and I am just not ready yet.”  I thank God that I was able to share some gospel truth with him.  One of our team had the blessing of leading a young lady to the Lord as she stated, “I think that I need to do this now”, so they prayed together as she called out to Christ. Needless to say, that was an exciting God moment that fired up the team. The seven days together went fast, but the memories remain.

A big thanks goes out to Calvary Chapel Miami Beach for housing us as we had our housing fall through and they made room for us.  They were a big help to us and a great reflection of Jesus' love as they offered us their hospitality.  May the Lord bless them richly. Keep us in your prayers, God bless you.

Our mailing address is:
57 N Chaucer Way
Kittrell, NC  27544
 
Contact: 
Facebook:  OAMPhilly
                    JoeToy
Website:    OAMPhilly
Posted by: AT 06:11 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, April 10 2024
He is risen--indeed! Festive Family Worship with communion at 10 and on Zoom. Prepare your hearts and communion elements
Good Morning Children of the Resurrection! Today we celebrate the greatest event in the history of the universe! He is risen and victorious! PTL! We are forgiven and His Spirit lives in us and He is interceding before the Father for us. We have exchanged our filthy rags and put on His righteousness! WOW! How good is our God and how blessed are we! What love! Hallelujah! Rejoice for Christ our Lord has risen today! What can be added to that? 
Check out a couple of devos below and Joe Toy newsletter. Reminder: Pastor Don begins vacation after worship today. Sarah is available for any emergencies this week. There probably will not be any blogs this week. Tue Huddle and Wed night dinner huddle have off this week. Enjoy a week of worship, rest and renewal! God loves you and is speaking to your hearts! What's He saying to you? Be still and know! Karen and I covet your prayers for a fun week of rest and renewal, great weather and health too. Thanks! Jesus loves you and so do we! Shalom!
Charles Stanley:
Inline image
 
Our Daily Bread:

Jesus Christ Is Risen Today!

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Matthew 28:6

READ Matthew 28:1–10

Before Charles Simeon attended university in Cambridge, England, he loved horses and clothes, spending a huge sum on his attire yearly. But because his college required him to attend regular Communion services, he started to explore what he believed. After reading books written by believers in Jesus, he experienced a dramatic conversion on Easter Sunday. Awaking early on April 4, 1779, he cried out, “Jesus Christ is risen today! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” As he grew in his faith in God, he devoted himself to Bible study, prayer, and attending chapel services.

On the first Easter, life changed for the two women who arrived at Jesus’ tomb. There they witnessed a violent earthquake as an angel rolled back the stone. He said to them, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said” (Matthew 28:5–6). Overjoyed, the women worshiped Jesus and ran back to tell their friends the good news.

Encountering the risen Christ isn’t something reserved for ancient times—He promises to meet us here and now. We might experience a dramatic encounter, such as the women at the tomb or as Charles Simeon did, but we might not. In whatever way Jesus reveals Himself to us, we can trust that He loves us.

By Amy Boucher Pye

REFLECT & PRAY

How has God shown Himself to you? How have you changed because of your encounter with Him?

Risen Jesus, thank You for coming and dying on the cross that I might have life eternal. I worship You.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Matthew’s resurrection account is stunning, particularly in its honesty. In addition to the joy of the women upon seeing the risen Jesus (28:8), we’re also told of the disciples’ unbelief (v. 17). When you weave together the resurrection accounts in the various gospels (and 1 Corinthians 15), it’s clear that Jesus had appeared to His disciples several times at this point, yet some still doubted. We might find a small measure of comfort in that. In spite of all Christ has done for us and the ways He’s proven Himself merciful and faithful, we still can struggle with doubts as they did. Like the father of the demonized boy, we find ourselves praying, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).

Bill Crowder
Joe Toy Newsletter:
“And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

Dear Friends,

One of our prayer items as we prepare for an outreach is to have team unity.  Each team is made up of diverse people from many differing backgrounds and various levels of spiritual maturity.  The Lord truly blessed us with a great team of students from Liberty University. Even though we had a few people with timid personalities, they jumped into the task each day and did their best to share the gospel and represent Christ to the lost.   One of our team shared this, “I was very uncertain when I first signed up for the trip and I didn’t even know if I wanted to go.  However, I realized that I would never put myself out there and evangelize if I did not force myself to. The trip was an eye-



opening experience and helped me to realize that to grow closer in my relationship with God and challenge my faith, I would need to do things like this.” 
      One of the blessings of being an evangelist is to take others with us and give them experiences to see the power of God at work in the ministry.  All of these young people learned to trust God and were challenged to do things whereby they had no choice, but to seek God’s help each day, whether it was teaching inner city children or sharing their faith in Christ with college students and international tourists who were visiting Miami Beach.

This was our third year of working in Buena Vista Apartments and the welcome mat was out.  Miss Bella called us to make sure that we were coming and as we arrived she was already gathering up the children.  She is the matriarch of this small community and is well respected by all her neighbors.   It was an awesome start to our five day club as we had over thirty kids in attendance.  Our team did a great job interacting with the kids as they learned Bible verses, sang gospel songs, enjoyed object lessons and observed an illustrated bible lesson each day and of course who does not love game time.  One student's reflection of her time is summed up this way, “The very last day of the kid’s ministry was the best in my opinion because I got to share the gospel with a group of kids that were very attentive and listening and seemed receptive to the message.”  These types of mission trips not only impact people with the gospel, but also transform the lives of the team as they see the need to reach the lost.

The city of Miami Beach made it very clear that they were divorcing themselves from Spring Break.  They no longer desired to deal with the toxic behavior of drunken students, who would fight, riot, and even shoot each other as has happened the last few years. There were no planned events, parking in city lots was $100 and they implemented a midnight curfew.  On Friday night, there was probably only ten percent of the crowd that was there last year and the police presence was unreal. In all my years of ministry with the countless events, I have never seen this many police at one place. We spent most of our night on Ocean Drive on South Beach. Although the crowds were not thick, we had plenty of people to talk to each night.  Our main tool was an illustrated puzzle which end with the question, “Is there life after death?”

The team did a great job interacting with whoever stopped.  One night Gretel, who is from Hong Kong, was able to use her language skills to share the gospel with a group of Chinese students.  How awesome is the Lord to set up that encounter! 
I can remember talking to groups of people from Africa, India and Brazil in my first hour on the street.  Some encounters are sad as one young man told me, “I am a little too drunk to talk about this right now and I am just not ready yet.”  I thank God that I was able to share some gospel truth with him.  One of our team had the blessing of leading a young lady to the Lord as she stated, “I think that I need to do this now”, so they prayed together as she called out to Christ. Needless to say, that was an exciting God moment that fired up the team. The seven days together went fast, but the memories remain.

A big thanks goes out to Calvary Chapel Miami Beach for housing us as we had our housing fall through and they made room for us.  They were a big help to us and a great reflection of Jesus' love as they offered us their hospitality.  May the Lord bless them richly. Keep us in your prayers, God bless you.

Our mailing address is:
57 N Chaucer Way
Kittrell, NC  27544
 
Contact: 
Facebook:  OAMPhilly
                    JoeToy
Website:    OAMPhilly
Posted by: AT 06:10 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, April 10 2024
Resurrection Sunday Family Worship Celebration with communion 10am Live and on Zoom. Bring some friends!
Good Morning Loved Ones of God--His Redeemed! On this Saturday, be still and know that He is God. He loves you! He has redeemed You! He is calling you by name! Listen...meditate...worship! Meditate on the passages and devos below as a start to your quiet and prayer time. Be bold and courageous today and look for opportunities to share your hope and God's love. Darkness and evil are closing in (our President has declared Easter Sunday to be a day to celebrate transgenders. The enemy is trying to anger us and steal our joy of the resurrection celebrations. Wonder how many "churches" will have drag queen readers tomorrow?) BUT GOD! But remember also, we have all gone astray too and are sinners worthy of eternal punishment in Hell! BUT GOD! And we are His children of Light! We have hope! We are forgiven and made new in Christ! Amen! 
Turn off the noise and open God's Word as you prepare your hearts to worship tomorrow! The resurrection is the greatest event in all of history! Death and the grave have been defeated. Our sins have been sacrificed on that cruel cross. We have been redeemed and we have been given the opportunity to choose new life in Christ. Yes we were one way, BUT God! By His love and grace we are now another! Rejoice! Jesus is our resurrection and life! he is the way, the truth and the life. The only way. he is calling you by name! he loves you beyond measure! 
Isaiah 43: (My highlights)
But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
    O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
    I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters,
    I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
    you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
    you will not be burned up;
    the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom;
    I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place.
Others were given in exchange for you.
    I traded their lives for yours
because you are precious to me.
    You are honored, and I love you.
Isaiah 53:
He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins!
ODB:

The Passion of Christ

The punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healedIsaiah 53:5

READ Isaiah 53:4–7, 10–12

Before Jim Caviezel played Jesus in the film The Passion of the Christ, director Mel Gibson warned that the role would be extremely difficult and could negatively impact his career in Hollywood. Caviezel took on the role anyway, saying, “I think we have to make it, even if it is difficult.”

During the filming, Caviezel was struck by lightning, lost forty-five pounds, and was accidentally whipped during the flogging scene. Afterwards, he stated, “I didn’t want people to see me. I just wanted them to see Jesus. Conversions will happen through that.” The film deeply affected Caviezel and others on the set, and only God knows how many of the millions who watched it experienced changed lives.

The passion of Christ refers to the time of Jesus’ greatest suffering, from His triumphal entry on Palm Sunday and including His betrayal, mocking, flogging, and crucifixion. Accounts are found in all four gospels.

In Isaiah 53, His suffering and its outcome are foretold: “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (v. 5). All of us, “like sheep, have gone astray” (v. 6). But because of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, we can have peace with God. His suffering opened the way for us to be with Him.

By Alyson Kieda

REFLECT & PRAY

What aspect of Christ’s life most impacts you? How does His suffering affect you?

Precious Savior, it’s hard to express how grateful I am that You suffered, died, and rose again for me. Thank You.

For further study, read I Am the Way: The Amazing Claims of Jesus.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

The Song of the Suffering Servant we most often associate with Isaiah 53 actually begins in the previous chapter at verse 13. There, the servant is introduced as one who is wise and who will be “raised and lifted up and highly exalted” (52:13). If that final phrase sounds familiar, that’s because it’s one of Isaiah’s favorite ways to describe his encounters with Yahweh (God) Himself.

In Isaiah 6:1, the prophet recounts seeing the God of Israel in His temple “high [rum] and exalted [nasa’]”; in 52:13, the niv translates the same two Hebrew words as “raised and lifted up.” Isaiah associates the exaltation of the Suffering Servant with the very person of Yahweh, looking ahead to the Son Himself, Jesus.

Jed Ostoich
UR: Holy Saturday

After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission, so he came and removed his body. - John 19:38 (NRSVUE)

Holy Saturday is a day of quiet, somber reflection. It’s an odd, in-between day after Jesus’ death but before his resurrection. I often think about what the day might have been like for the disciples and others who followed Jesus at the time — particularly

Joseph of Arimathea.

Joseph had a lot of influence and was an important Jewish leader. He would risk his reputation and standing in the community if his belief in Jesus became public. So he kept his belief quiet.

But on Good Friday, when Jesus died on the cross, Joseph of Arimathea proclaimed his faith publicly by going to Pilate and asking for Jesus’ body so he could bury it.

I imagine Joseph spending most of Saturday wondering if he had made the right choice. He took a great risk with this act. And on Saturday, Jesus was still dead in a tomb.

In a similar way, we take risks when we choose to follow Jesus publicly. Those risks can sometimes cause us to stay quiet or to keep our belief secret. However, while making our faith public may make for an uncomfortable Holy Saturday, it makes for a much more celebratory Easter Sunday.

TODAY'S PRAYER
Dear Jesus, help us not to hide our faith but to follow you boldly. Amen.
Harvest Prayer Starters:

Prayer Points

  • Give praise to Jesus, the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End (Rev. 22:13).
  • Thank him for his promise, “Yes, I am coming soon” (22:12).
  • Confess those periods of time when you have lost sight of the hope of his coming.
  • Commit yourself to waiting each day for “the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).
  • Ask God to renew in you the hope that “when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 Jn. 3:2).
  • Ask God to open the eyes of your unsaved friends so that they may see the spiritual kingdom that lies behind the physical realm.
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.
Posted by: AT 06:09 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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