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Friday, June 28 2024

Oh Lord, Thank You for forgiving and cleansing me! Thank You that I am forgiven! Thank You for your perfect plan to make a way for us. Thank You Jesus! Thank You Holy Spirit for leading me to salvation and helping me to repent. Today--everyday--I praise Your holy name and thank You for saving a wretch like me and making a way to become new in Christ and leading me to Kingdom living. May I honor You and Your holy name. Your Kingdom come and will be done in, through and around me. Thank You! Amen!

REMINDER: Communion will be this Sunday at 10 and on Zoom too. Prepare your hearts!

Good Morning Worshipers! Do you know that worship is more than something we do on a Sunday? Worship is a lifestyle and action daily. As we obey and follow God we worship. As we still ourselves and sit at His feet we worship. As we trust and go make disciples we worship. As we work on growing into the people God created us to be and do the things we are created to do, we worship. May we worship 24-7! Amen! May we worship in Spirit and Truth. How does that look for you? What might you need to purge or put on hold to worship more fully or what might you need to get doing? He is worthy! Amen.

On this TGIF Friday I have spent two hours already in worship and praise as I've been sitting at Jesus' feet listening, processing, praying and even encouraging a few people I am praying for. I've been recalling all God has, is, and plans to do in and through me and our Body and just praising. I've been releasing His power and will in prayer. And I've been informed and refreshed as I have invited the Spirit to have control and lead me and for Jesus to be my Lord and Shepherd today. What an awesome start to my day off from church stuff! Yet I am never off from representing God nor worshiping! Yes I am worshiping today! Thanks God! Lead us to worship and follow well!

I'm going to ask you to spend some time with God and in our devotionals for today (below). What are you thankful for? How is your life an act of worship? What might need correction? What is praiseworthy and needing focus? What might you build upon as you work at becoming more like Jesus? What's God saying to you? Who are you processing with? Worship! Praise! Follow well! I have already prayed for you and I know God has great plans for you today and this weekend! Amen!

ODB:

Seeing a Future of Hope

I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs. Isaiah 41:18

READ Isaiah 41:17-20

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, New Orleans worked to slowly rebuild. One of the most hard-hit areas was the Lower Ninth Ward, where for years after Katrina, residents lacked access to basic resources. Burnell Cotlon worked to change that. In November 2014, he opened the first grocery store in the Lower Ninth Ward after Katrina. “When I bought the building, everybody thought that I was crazy,” Cotlon recalled. But “the very first customer cried cuz she . . . never thought the [neighborhood] was coming back.” His mother said her son “saw something I didn’t see. I’m glad [he] . . . took that chance.”

God enabled the prophet Isaiah to see an unexpected future of hope in the face of devastation. Seeing “the poor and needy search for water, but there is none” (Isaiah 41:17), God promised to “turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs” (v. 18). When instead of hunger and thirst, His people experienced flourishing once more, they would know “the hand of the Lord has done this” (v. 20).

He’s still the author of restoration, at work bringing about a future when “creation itself will be liberated from its bondage” (Romans 8:21). As we trust in His goodness, He helps us see a future where hope is possible.

By Monica La Rose

REFLECT & PRAY

When have you witnessed renewal after devastation? How can you be a part of God’s restoring work?

Restoring God, please help my life be a witness to the hope I’ve found in You and the future You’re bringing.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

After prophesying that God would use the Assyrians and Babylonians to judge an unrepentant Judah (Isaiah 1-39), the prophet comforts God’s people with the hope of future deliverance and restoration (chs. 40-66). Isaiah begins with affirming God’s sovereignty and majesty—He has the power and will certainly save and restore them (ch. 40). The prophet also assures the Israelites of His loving, providential care for them (ch. 41). They have a very special relationship with Him—they were sovereignly chosen to be His servant. His covenant with them is still in force (vv. 8-10). God assures them that He’ll bountifully provide for them, turning the desert into a land of flowing water, abundant and productive, so that the world would “see this miracle [and] understand . . . that it is the Lord who has done this, the Holy One of Israel who created it” (v. 20 nlt).

K. T. Sim

UR: Care and Comfort

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. - 2 Corinthians 1:3 (NIV)

Last night my family learned that the mother of one of our 13-year-old son’s classmates passed away. We were shocked, and we wanted to be there for her daughter and her family. But it can be hard to know how to respond to the grief of others, especially as a young teenager. Before bed, my son and I prayed for the woman’s loved ones, and we discussed many ways we could support them.

When our family woke up this morning and began our daily devotional time, we read a meditation in The Upper Room about someone who might be waiting for others to reach out. I truly feel this was God’s nudge for me to remind our son that even if a gesture may seem awkward, we need to be a light of kindness. As Proverbs 12:25 says, “Anxiety weighs down the human heart, but a good word cheers it up.”

God desires for us to take care of our neighbors, whether we ask someone how we can help, cook a meal for someone going through a hard time, or offer a hug. May we all ask ourselves, “How can I be a blessing and a comfort to someone today?”

TODAY'S PRAYER

Dear heavenly Father, help us to comfort those in pain. May we be a light to encourage others in your name. Amen.TWFYT:

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CS:

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Harvest:

June 28 - Carrying a Burden in Prayer

As you grow in your prayer life, it is very likely that you will find one or two prayer concerns that excite you when you intercede for them. For example, you may get excited when you pray for revival in the church, or maybe it's when you pray for missionaries, or abused women, or your pastor, or pastors in general. This represents another prayer burden. For many, God will place a calling on their lives to focus a great deal of time lifting up a specific issue. 

When this kind of burden begins to come on you, I have two words of challenge. First, never demand that your burden become other people’s burden too. If God leads you to set up a prayer meeting to pray for your burden or to find some prayer partners to pray with you, wonderful. But don’t get discouraged if others do not join you. And don’t force them or try to make them feel guilty. God gives each of us different burdens. Your burden is no more or less important than anyone else’s. Second, do everything you can to fuel your burden with truth. By that I mean, get information about your burden. Do research, read. Find out some facts. If it is a specific person, try to find out things that you can pray about, without being nosey in the process. Our church has a program in which intercessors pray for a specific child in the congregation. Often these intercessors will ask parents (or the child herself), “What’s happening in her life? What are some specific things I can pray for her?” [What prayer burdens do you carry? Ask God to show you if you are uncertain.]

Lord, You search me and You know me! Pour out a burden in my heart for people, situations, a nation, or whatever You know is within me waiting to be felt and acted upon! Help me to be a good listener, so that I am able to press obediently and enthusiastically into Your heart for this issue or responsibility in order to carry it in a godly way. Thank You for entrusting me to intercede for whatever burdens You bring me!

--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 for being the great healer who gives real peace and security for you to enjoy (Jer. 33:6).
  • Give thanks for the many miraculous healings that show God’s power at work.
  • Confess your failure to appreciate the health God gives you and your complaining when things aren’t going well (Ps. 139:23).
  • Commit yourself to praising God each day for a healthy body, for legs and arms, fingers and toes, eyes and ears—a body that functions so beautifully.
  • Ask him for guidance in blessing him at all times even if these body parts aren’t always working right (Ps. 34:1).
  • Pray for your church to be very compassionate and able to minister to those who do not experience good health, have disabilities, or have met with serious accident.
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.
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Friday, June 28 2024

Joe Toy Newsletter and Harvest Prayer blog for praying for our leaders below

Good Morning Humble, Compassionate, Surrendered, Christlike Co-Laborers! Please Lord! May that be me and us! Help us to humble and die to self, take up our cross today and crucify the things that hinder You, Your plans and Your miracles and follow Jesus well. Give me/us Your heart and mind and move us to go live and love more and more like Jesus. Bring Your joy and the joy of our salvation alive as we trust and follow Jesus today. Fill us with Your Spirit of love and wisdom. Come! Fill us! Prepare us to go as we are. Yes, send me/us! Use us for Your glory and grow us into our fuller potential and Your perfect plans for us. Come! Use me/us for Your glory! Thank You! Your will be done in heaven, one earth, and through me/us. And please Lord, bring dreams and vision for how you want to use us and our building more fully this summer and beyond. Come! Lead us! Be our Lord and Savior of many and make disciples through us--multiply disciples. Bring revival. Thanks! Amen. Pray this earnestly. Talk to God about you and His plans and process this all with some close friends. Then make some plans and go!

Today's devotionals are sort of two or three tracks but yet thread together. What is God saying to you as you engage with Him through them? We are God's masterpieces, custom made for such a time as this, sent as we are to bring Him and His love alive, and empowered and gifted by the Holy Spirit to do so. PTL! God has great plans for you and us! Amen! Let us seek, process, plan and plan to follow well to His best together. Share what you are hearing with Sarah or me too. We will be having a vision team meeting soon to bring to life some of the ideas God has given us for this summer. PTL! The AC is fully funded and we should be able to start up back in the building by August but until then and even after, God is sending us out to connect with others. Seek Him and let us commit to follow well. Amen! We all have a part to play in His Good News Delivery Co. What's yours? What are you doing about it? Who are you processing with? I'm praying for you and us! Go! Live and love more in '24.

UR: God's Concern

Honest balances and scales are the Lord’s; all the weights in the bag are his work. - Proverbs 16:11 (NRSVUE)

Going into the clinic for a routine blood test was a biannual activity for me. This particular morning, I was sitting with a prayer list, silently lifting up people’s requests as I waited to be called. Then God interrupted me.

No, interrupted is the wrong word. My mind and heart were flooded with light and the riches of God’s love. While I had been praying, I had been watching various patients come in and had unconsciously been making assumptions — judgments — about their personal habits. In fact, I’m pretty sure some part of me was thinking, They wouldn’t be in such bad shape if they . . .

God’s perspective shattered all my silent judgments as I became aware of the tremendous affection and concern God felt for each person. The concerns each person carried were also God’s concerns.

This experience gave new meaning to Proverbs 16:11. I have prayed ever since to see and to love others through God’s loving concern and wisdom, rather than according to my own skewed scales of judgment.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Gracious God, thank you for knowing all our burdens and for caring deeply for each of us. Teach us to show compassion to everyone we meet. Amen.

ODB:

Humble Jørn

I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. Ephesians 1:16

READ Ephesians 1:15-23

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

They didn’t think Jørn, a tenant farming the land, would amount to much. Yet despite his weak vision and other physical limitations, he poured himself out for those in his village in Norway, praying the many nights when his pain kept him awake. In prayer he’d move from house to house, naming each person individually, even the children he hadn’t yet met. People loved his gentle spirit and would seek his wisdom and advice. If he couldn’t help them practically, they’d still feel blessed when they left, having received his love. And when Jørn died, his funeral was the biggest ever in that community, even though he had no family there. His prayers blossomed and brought forth fruit beyond what he could have imagined.

This humble man followed in the example of the apostle Paul, who loved those he served and prayed for them while confined. He wrote to those in Ephesus while he was likely imprisoned in Rome, praying that God would give them “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation” and that the eyes of their hearts would be “enlightened” (Ephesians 1:17–18). He yearned that they would know Jesus and live with love and unity through the power of the Spirit.

Jørn and the apostle Paul poured themselves out to God, committing those they loved and served to Him in prayer. May we consider their examples in how we love and serve others today.

By Amy Boucher Pye

REFLECT & PRAY

Who do you know who’s a gentle prayer warrior? How does that person reflect Christ’s heart?

Jesus, You served others and put their needs first. Please help me to love and serve You joyfully each day.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Today’s reading begins with the phrase “for this reason” (Ephesians 1:15). What reason? In verses 3-14, Paul wrote one continuous sentence (in the original Greek) praising “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 3) for a variety of things. God blessed us “with every spiritual blessing” (v. 3); “chose us” (v. 4); “predestined us for adoption” (v. 5); redeemed and forgave us (v. 7); and “made known to us the mystery of his will” (v. 9). Paul also notes that we’re “marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance” (vv. 13-14). Taken together, this passage provides us with one of the clearest presentations of the doctrine of the Trinity. The apostle prays, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ [the Son], the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better” (v. 17).

Tim Gustafson

TWFYT:

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CS:

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Harvest Prayer Blog for Leaders

June 25 - Interceding for those who Govern 

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. (1 Timothy 2:1–2) 

The highest place and the most influential vocation is that of intercessor. From our humble homes and lowly hearts, we are able to influence kings and nations, to change history. Why would God give such power to our prayers? The answer is vast, but one reason is he gives us a small part in joining him in ruling the universe through prayer. As we cry out today, we will be seeking God on behalf of our President, Congress, Senate, governors, mayors, and all those who rule on a local level. Through prayer, we have been invited to shape history and influence world events. Let us enter this high calling of prayer with a humble and contrite heart, never praying from a place of pride or selfish anger, but seeking the highest good for those who govern our nation and community, as well as for those who are being governed. Let’s pray. 

Father, we follow your Word, which commands us to pray for kings and for those in high positions. As you said, we start with supplications— seeking that every need of those who govern would be met by Christ and that he would become their Lord and Savior. Our prayers for them are that every leader would know the love of Jesus today—that their decisions would be rooted in this heavenly love, and that wisdom from heaven would pervade their thoughts, meetings, and each decision. Our intercessions are for your kingdom to come and your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven through these leaders’ governing. Establish your government through their leadership. I join with other intercessors today offering thanksgivings for the leaders you have put in office. Bless them beyond what they deserve. May your grace and justice be the clear guide as they govern nationally and locally. Glorify your name through each and every leader from the President of the United States to the president of the local parent-teacher organization. Enable me to be a faithful and fruitful watchman on the wall for our governing leaders. Shine brightly as they lead. May righteousness exalt our nation today.

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

Prayer Points

  • Praise God for his quietness, restoration, and strength (Ps. 23:2-3).
  • Give thanks that God will give you that quiet time to reflect on his restoring power and quietness (Ps. 46:10).
  • Confess your failure to be still before the Lord so he can speak to you.
  • Commit yourself to a daily time of worship and adoration of God.
  • Ask God for assurance that in quietness and trust is your strength (Isa. 30:15).
  • Pray that your quietness before God will result in winning the “respect of outsiders” (1 Thess. 4:11-12) so that they will see Jesus in you.
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.

Connection (Devotions for Everyday Life) © 2024 is a free devotional published daily by Harvest Prayer Ministries. Subscribe here.

Joe Toy:

“For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Dear Friends,
As our team was busy sharing the gospel on the Ocean City, MD boardwalk, a young man approached one of us and asked, “Why do you do this? Do you get paid to do this? He replied, “We spend our own money to come here and drive a long way taking time away from our families.” The young man replied, “Well this must be important. What do you have to say?” And so begins a gospel conversation with a recent high school graduate. The Lord blessed us with five great days
on the boardwalk, as we passed out four thousand gospel tracts and talked to hundreds of people.The weather was ideal as it was not too hot or cold and no need to deal with rain. It was awesome to work with a team of eight like-minded men focused on sharing the gospel with the lost.
 


Men from such states as MD, PA, NJ, VA and NC spent about seven to eight hours a day sharing Christ.

Imagine turning to a young woman who has been listening to the preaching of the gospel for thirty minutes. As you hand out a tract to her, it is promptly received. She asks, “What would you say to someone who thinks about suicide a lot. Internally, you say to yourself in prayer, “Wow! Lord you better help me with this.” And at this point begins a conversation/counseling session which lasts about thirty minutes in the midst of the noise and interruptions of the boardwalk crowd. The Lord in his providence had given us a team member who is a certified biblical counselor, who was able to speak with her.

A few nights later as I was holding my “Are You Going To Heaven?” sign, a teenage girl approached me and asked, “Can I tell you a secret?” In response I said, “If you want to.” She stated, “I had an abortion recently, what do you think about that?” I replied, “I feel very sad for you.” And so begins a long conversation whereby she continually justifies killing her baby, because she believes she will have a better life without a baby. I sought a bridge to share the gospel, but she kept talking about her past abortion and how it was no big deal. Obviously, it was a big deal or she would have never approached me. Like most of this generation, she wanted me to affirm her in her sin when she really needs God’s forgiveness in Christ Jesus. I saw her later with tears coming down her cheeks; maybe the Lord was beginning his inner work in her heart.
 


On our last night on the boardwalk, a young man was tuned into the preaching of the gospel. As one of our team interacted with him and clearly shared the gospel, the team member stated, “You can take care of this tonight when you get home.” The young man replied, “Why can’t I do it now?” So right there on the busy boardwalk this man surrendered to Christ. There are lots of hurting folks in our culture who need the salvation only Jesus brings. One such person is Adam who at twenty-five years old is still suffering from being passed on from one family to another family. It was a joy to talk to him two days in a row and encourage him to get back with the Lord, which is something that he has drifted away from. Jesus still heals people’s broken hearts.

On Memorial Day weekend, a team of us headed to the Raleigh Convention Center to bring the gospel to the Animazement crowds. Lots of people are into identifying with their Anime characters or are just fans of this art and entertainment culture. Ever since Adam and Eve lost their true identity with God people are seeking a substitute identify with something else, which just leaves them empty. Thousands of fans received tracts and heard about Jesus. In mid May, we headed to Myrtle Beach to assist some friends at a large crab fest. We had a  

great location as buses dropped people off right by us, so they passed us on their way in and out. It was a great opportunity to saturate the event with the gospel. We met a lot of kind people who thanked us for being there and one man even helped us pass out tracts for a while.

We are still active here in the Raleigh with our outreach ministry at the courthouse, bus station, downtown and the abortion mills.

Keep us in your prayers.
God Bless
Our mailing address is:
57 N Chaucer Way
Kittrell, NC  27544
 
Contact: 

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Facebook:  OAMPhilly
                    JoeToy
Website:    OAMPhilly

Open Air Ministries, Inc.

What happens weekly with OAM, Inc.? ​ ​You can follow the outreaches here: OAM Facebook page

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Friday, June 28 2024

Good Morning Loving, Obedient, Connected, World Changing Co-Laborers! Pronounce this in faith over you and our Body. If they all don't seem to be quite true for you, they can be. Remember we are a work in process and progress as we work on Become More in '24 and more like Jesus. This salutation comes directly from the titles of our devotionals for today (below). They can be truths to put on and released in prayer over yourself, our body, others and even our leaders. Be confident in this, living these out are part of God's plan for you and us and are attainable as we lay aside our own agendas and desires and even old nature and step into God's better, greater things. Still yourself at His feet today and ask Him to show you what needs purging, refining, correcting and what is good in you already to be thankful for and working on. He does really have some great plans for you and us to discover and bring to life. That starts with prayer and carries through in actions. And remember the importance of being a co-laborer! Who are your teammates? Pray for some and to be one that is loving, obedient, connected to God and others, changing the world through prayer and actions, and partnering with some close teammates to spur on to the good works God has planned for you for such a time as this. Amen! Encourage and be encouraged as God sees and molds you in love. Chose to sit at His feet, receive His direction, put on His armor and custom-fit-for-you easy yoke in prayer, and follow Jesus to His best for you and others today as you do your part to change the world. Amen!

I've almost completed my homebound communion visits. My heart breaks for these our friends. They are lonely, going through many trials and hardships and in need of connection to others, prayers and encouragement. pray for them. Ask God how to bless them. reach out and love someone today that is not able to join us in worship but co-laboring prayers of ours. Maybe there ate some needs God has for you to meet? maybe some love to share. Seek Him and go bless! Amen! I'm off to the cardiologist followed by a busy 12 hour day at church and in ministry. Pray for me as God awoke me at 3 am today. he spoke to my heart and I hope yours. I'm trusting Him to carry and use me well. Amen!

Here are our devotionals for today. What's God saying to you? What will you do about it? many blessings await as we bring His will alive in prayer and action! Rejoice!

UR: Love Is Everything

If I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries and all knowledge and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. - 1 Corinthians 13:2 (NRSVUE)

My brothers and I thanked God when our mother could safely return home following an illness during her vacation abroad. However, we then quarreled about who would accompany her to her follow-up medical treatments since we were all busy. Finally, I agreed to take her because I realized my mother needed me. I tried not to complain; I wanted to show God’s love through my actions. And God blessed me with joy and peace.

We may say that we love the Lord, but many times our words and deeds do not reflect our faith. It is easy to say that we don’t have time, then go about our busy routines without caring for those in need. When we close our eyes to the people around us, we distance ourselves from God. God is love, and as followers of God, love should be at the forefront of everything we do. In this way, our lives will shine in the world.

As children of God, let’s always clothe ourselves with God’s love. In doing so, we will become less self-centered, and the One who lives within us can use us to reach people who are suffering or have lost hope. This is how we can glorify the Lord.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Dear God, thank you for your love that we experience every day. Help us to spread your love to others so they will see your light in the darkness. Amen.CS:

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TWFYT:

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ODB:

Learning from Each Other

I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. Ruth 2:11

READ Ruth 2:11-12; 3:1-6

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

Years before Zoom was an accessible communication tool, a friend asked me to join her on a video call to discuss a project. Through the tone of my emails, she could tell I was baffled, so she suggested I find a teenager to help me figure out how to set up a video call.

Her suggestion points to the value of intergenerational relationships. It’s something observed in Ruth and Naomi’s story. Ruth is often celebrated for being a loyal daughter-in-law, deciding to leave her land to accompany Naomi back to Bethlehem (Ruth 1:16-17). When they arrived in the town, the younger woman said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain [for us]” (2:2). She helped the older woman, who then helped the younger woman marry Boaz. Naomi’s advice for Ruth prompted Boaz to take action in purchasing her deceased in-laws’ property and to take her “as [his] wife” (4:9-10).

We certainly respect the advice of those who share their seasoned wisdom with younger generations. But Ruth and Naomi remind us that the exchange can go both ways. There’s something to be learned from those younger than us as well as those who are older. Let’s seek to develop loving and loyal intergenerational relationships. It will bless us and others and help us learn something we don’t know.

By Katara Patton

REFLECT & PRAY

What have you learned from someone younger? How might you reach out to someone of another generation today?

Dear God, thank You for the wisdom found in the young and in the old. Teach me to value intergenerational exchanges.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Boaz, Naomi’s relative (Ruth 2:1), noticed Ruth’s presence in his fields, inquired about her, and offered her protection (vv. 5-9). He praised her for her devotion to Naomi (2:11) and noted how she’d taken refuge under God’s wings (v. 12). In Psalm 91, using a similar metaphor of a chick under the wings of its mother, the psalmist celebrates the security and safety found in God: “The Lord . . . alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. . . . He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings” (vv. 2, 4 nlt). This endearing picture of God protecting those who take refuge in Him is also found in Psalms 17:8; 36:7; 57:1; 61:4; 63:7.

K. T. Sim

Harvest

June 26 - Are You a World Changer?

We need to understand the truth of God’s Word that is clearly apparent from the Old Testament through the New Testament, where Jesus is spending His time as an intercessor: there is nothing more powerful in the kingdom of God than intercessory prayer. God is calling His people to pray. All Christians are exhorted to pray for others and to watch God work in astonishing, astounding ways. Some people are better at it than others. There are some people whose main spiritual gift is intercession. But we are all called to be intercessors and to make a difference in the world through intercessory prayer.
 
Most of us do not look at ourselves as “world-changers.” We do not see ourselves as having the power or influence to change the direction of nations. As Christians, however, we affirm the power of God to impact the nations. That power is released through the prayers of people just like you and me. Would you make a commitment today to change your world? Take a step in prayer. Begin to pray more for the people around you, as well as for world leaders and the flow of world events. Bring the amazing power of God to bear upon this world and see what our awesome God will do!
 
Father, today I affirm Your power to impact the nations through my prayers! Help me to listen carefully to the people and nations You place as a burden upon my heart, and help me to be faithful to respond quickly to intercede! Lord, it amazes me that my prayers, and the prayers of my family and church, can bring change to people I have never met and places I have never been! Yet Your word declares that this is true! So, believing in Your word, I will stand on this truth and open myself to all of the world-changing possibilities You bring my way!
 
---Adapted from the article  Unleashing God’s Power on Earth by David Butts.

Prayer Points

  • Praise God for his leadership over the redeemed because of his unfailing love and strength (Ex. 15:11, 13).
  • Give thanks for leaders who speak the Word of God to you (Heb. 13:7).
  • Confess your lack of recognizing God’s leadership through others that he brings into your life and your failure to support them with your prayers (1 Tim. 2:1-2).
  • Commit yourself to following God’s leadership as he brings you into a land “flowing with milk and honey” (Num. 14:8).
  • Ask God to help you be a good leader in bringing others to him.
  • Ask that all Christians will “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk” that will lead others to salvation in Jesus.
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.

Connection (Devotions for Everyday Life) © 2024 is a free devotional published daily by Harvest Prayer Ministries. Subscribe here.
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Friday, June 28 2024

Good Morning Connected, Longing, Directed, Protected Pilgrims! For God's glory! PTL! We still ourselves at His feet and dwell in His loving, informing presence. We long in prayer for many things that He desires too like revival, new life, salvation, His Kingdom to come and will be done, to use us, heal us, lead us, and have His way with us and so many more things. He directs our steps, prayers, choices and responses. He covers and protects us and those we are covering a we don His armor and walk in His way. And we are pilgrims--journeyers. We are aliens on earth and here to complete our individual and corporate missions before making that last journey to our promised future and hope. I was really touched as God threaded all this through our devotionals for today (below) and His reminder that we are His disciples gathered by Him, placed where we are for His custom purposes. I keep thinking and praising about how He is using and growing us. I keep praying for the "how to" and what to do for me and us as we journey towards our fuller potential and becoming His dynamic movement. 

Two things are clear, we have much to celebrate and more to work on yet. We are on our way! Rejoice! And keep at it! Praying, seeking, gathering, processing, planning, going and working on living and loving more like Jesus. Keep your eyes open for where God is working and who He is drawing for us to invite into our journey. I'm praising God for the ten new disciples that have joined our Body and are serving. I praise God for the several others that are being drawn and participating. I'm praising God for all of you and all you are doing! I'm praising God for our potential and the good fruit to come. I'm praising God for Jesus' easy yoke! I'm just praising and praying for His Kingdom coming and growing and His will being done in heaven and on earth! I'm praising God for saving, growing and using a wretch like me! We have so much to be thankful about and so much to expect to come as we trust, die to self and follow Jesus together! AMEN!

Still yourself at His feet and engage with these devos. What's He saying to you? Revealing for us? What will you do about it? Who are you processing with? What are you thankful about? Rejoice! He is the Lord of you, us and this day! Amen!

UR: Power Source

Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions. - Ephesians 2:4-5 (NIV)

I took on the challenge of remodeling my basement to provide additional space for an office and recreation room. The project included running wire to connect lights, receptacles, and switches. Have I done everything right? I pondered. One last step remained. I had to tap in to the power source by connecting the wire to the main service panel. I switched on the circuit breaker, and the lights came on. I was elated.

No matter how meticulous I was in connecting all the wires, it was for naught until I tapped in to the power source. The same is true with us as people of faith. We may think we have made all the right connections. We attend church services, participate in the sacraments, and follow biblical teaching as best we can. But until we connect to the power of God, we are as dead as a disconnected appliance.

Paul writes in Ephesians 2 that we are spiritually dead until we are made alive through faith in the redemptive work of Christ. Through faith in Christ we are empowered to “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). We are “created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (Eph. 2:10). God, our source of life, blesses us with this gift not just to benefit us but others as well.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Source of life, help us to embrace the newness of life you offer, serving others and glorifying you. Amen.ODB:

Life’s Pilgrimage

Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Hebrews 11:16

READ Hebrews 11:13-16

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SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

The story of the Bible chronicles the stories of waiting—of individuals, of a nation, and of the early church. Noah waited for the rain to begin and the floods to subside; Abraham and Sarah waited for a son; Joseph waited to be reunited with family; the Israelites waited to be freed from slavery, to enter the promised land, to be freed from exile, and for the Messiah to save them. Hebrews 11, the faith chapter, lists many individuals throughout biblical history who by faith waited but “did not receive the things promised,” only seeing “them from a distance” (v. 13). Today we wait for Christ’s return and an end to sorrow, pain, and death. We’re longing for “a better country”—heaven (v. 16). The author of Hebrews tells us to “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (10:23).

Alyson Kieda

CS:

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June 27 - Be Clothed in His Armor

Put on the full armor of God so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. (Ephesians 6:11)
 
This image was clear to the hearers in Paul’s day as they observed the Roman soldiers that filled every town. Using that warfare picture, Paul reminds us of the necessary armor for the believer in his battles; armor which is available to every Christian. It is wise at the beginning of each day to “put on” your armor in prayer.                                                                                                                    

  • Gird your loins with truth. This means truthfulness, honesty, integrity which will protect us from the tempation to the opposite which would make us vulnerable. It also implies knowing and believing truth that will guard us from the lies of the Father of all lies.                                                              
  • Put on the breastplate of righteousness. We must realize and claim the righteousness we have in Christ and cover our vital organs with a commitment to personal holiness.                                                                        
  • Shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. We must get ready to move by realizing our mission. We lace up our witnessing shoes. We prepare to share the gospel of peace gladly and quickly with everyone we meet, which is Satan’s greatest fear.                                           
  • Take up the shield of faith which is able to quench all the flaming arrows of the wicked one. One of the most powerful weapons in battle was a flaming arrow. The Romans had developed a defensive weapon in a body-sized, leather shield. It had a front and a back with a vacuum between which would quench a flaming arrow. Satan is continually flinging darts at us designed to destroy us. We often think these are just our thoughts. But I am convinced otherwise. Our powerful defense is faith and “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ.” We must combat his flaming arrows with the faith that comes from God’s Word.                
  • Take up the helmet of salvation. That which protects us most in our battle is our absolute security in Christ if we have come to know Him. Our salvation saves us in our minds. We must remember this as we face the day.
     
  • Take up … the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. There is nothing more powerful than Scripture. It is literally God’s Word and our greatest weapon against Satan’s lies. Jesus Himself rebuked every temptation of the enemy in the wilderness with God’s Word, and so must we. This is why Scripture memory is so vital.                                                                         

It is a critical exercise each day, and multiple times throughout the day, to check our strength (making sure we’re relying on the Lord) and check our armor (using the right protective weapons against the Enemy.)
 
Father, today I faithfully put on Your armor as both a physical act and a spiritual reminder of Your divine protection and power! I will place the helmet of Your salvation upon my head as a reminder that You are my salvation. I put on the breastplate of righteousness because You are the righteous King, and the belt of truth, for You alone are the Truth! I will prepare my feet to travel anywhere You direct me to share the gospel of peace! I raise Your shield of faith to protect myself from the flaming arrows that will come against me today! And, I prepare myself to do battle using the sword of Your word! Lord, continue to give me strength through Jesus to serve You with everything in me every moment of this day!

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

Prayer Points

  • Praise God for his strength and confidence, enduring from everlasting to everlasting (1 Chron. 29:10-11).
  • Give thanks that God is your strength and confidence and that he will never fail you or forsake you (1 Chron. 28:20).
  • Confess to the Lord your failure to rely completely upon him and his Word (Isa. 41:10).
  • Commit yourself to being strong and doing the work God has for you without complaining (Phil. 2:14).
  • Ask God to forgive you for not depending on him and that you may wait on the Lord and be confident of his love (Jeremiah 31:3).
  • Pray that your church will be strong in preparing its membership to grow in their daily walk and work for him as parents, teachers, workers, etc.
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.

Connection (Devotions for Everyday Life) © 2024 is a free devotional published daily by Harvest Prayer Ministries. Subscribe here.
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Friday, June 28 2024

UPDATES:

PTL! Thank you givers! Our AC installation is going to be fully funded with a few more donations that are on the way this week! You guys ROCK! Keep seeking God for His plans for us for the rest of the summer and to use our building to lead many to Him and become a House of Prayer for the Nations and a disciple making hub.

Those of you that have been asking about Gunther (Bobby Gunther Walsh) I prayed with him this morning around 4:30 before he began his first day back on air. He's working from home but getting back at it will help emotionally and physically. Keep praying for his healing and patience in the process. he has a long way to go with rehabbing his injuries. he thanks everyone for their prayers and encouragements.

I hope to finish up homebound communion visits this week. Pray for our homebound. Send a card or call. They all miss you and are lonely.

Wed is Bread Ministry from 10-12 followed by volunteer brunch. Family Ministries opted to gather inside Wed due to heat and weather threat. We will mini golf another time.

Sunday's worship at 10 will be led by Sarah. pray for her. We will celebrate communion. Prepare your hearts and if you are joining on Zoom, don't forget your crackers, bread and juice. We have a few people looking for rides to be able to join us for worship, even if only able to do so once a month, it would be appreciated. Talk to Sarah or me about that if able to help

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Good Morning Journeying Friends of God! Step by step we journey through time until we step into eternity. We know we have a blessed future and hope in God's presence. Being in His presence began at the second we were saved. PTL! We grow in relationship with Him and grow into our fuller potential, even storing up treasures in heaven, during our journey here on earth. We work on becoming more like Jesus and at growing into our fuller potential. We move from being one way to another improved way to another because of Jesus and His work in and through us. But for that all to happen and happen well, we need to die to self, take up cross daily and follow Jesus. And that always works best when done with others. God has some great custom made plans for you to discover and grow into and those plans will always involve custom made and gathered others to journey with. Every time I think of all of you, I thank God for allowing us to be gathered and sent together. I thank God for prayer warriors that cover me, those that encourage and those who help and even hold my feet in the fire. Thank you! I thank God for the fresh breath of the Spirit and the new things He is revealing and doing! I thank God for those He is sending and for using us in many different custom made ways in His Good News Delivery Co. I thank God for partnering us in worship, praise, laboring, and usefulness. We are well on our way to becoming a dynamic movement! But there is still work to discover and do and people to bring into the sheepfold. Keep digging! Keep plowing in prayer. Keep seeking, dying to self and following. Keep working together. Daylight is burning! God is moving! He does have great plans for you and us! PTL and Amen! (Hammer Down!) What's God saying to you right now and what will you do about it? Who will you process with? Deny yourself, take up your cross today (what needs to be crucified right now), seek, process, plan and follow Jesus. He is humble and gentle at heart and made you for such a time as this. Put on His easy yoke by being who He created you to be and focusing on and working at the things you are custom made to do just as you are and right where he placed you. And then do that with those He is gathering you with. Love God, people, yourself and go love like Him today! Amen! He is journeying with you and singing over you. He's calling you by name and inviting you into His awesome plans for today. WOW! Enjoy! Begin with some quiet time with Him through our devos for today (below). Prepare your hearts and go! Love in action is God's way! I'm praying for you and us! 

OK time to get out and get some yard work done on this beautiful morning! This is the day the Lord has made! Rejoice and be glad! reload and go live and love like Jesus! Shalom!

Charles Stanley

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Upper Room: Improving with Time

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

Recently I considered replacing my 40-year-old acoustic guitar with a newer model. However, after trying out many guitars, I found that my old guitar produced warm and pleasing tones that sounded much better than the new guitars. I chose to have my old guitar worked on by a guitar technician instead. The technician said that old wood makes a richer and more pleasant sound because as an instrument ages, the wood dries out and the sap loosens from its grain, allowing vibrations to move more freely through the instrument. My guitar’s wood has gradually become less and less like it was when the guitar was new. Over time it has become a new creation — a new form of what it was.

As growing Christians, I think we change in a similar way. Over time as we absorb God’s word and follow God’s guidance, we become less like our former selves and transform into new creations. As our faith matures and changes, God’s influence is able to move more freely within us. And in time, we can produce more beautiful “music” because we are living more harmoniously with God.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Loving God, help us accept the ways you have made each of us wonderful and unique. Give us wisdom as we grow in faith and become new creations in you. Amen.The Word for You Today

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Our Daily Bread:

In Awe of God

Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you. Exodus 20:20

READ Exodus 20:18-21

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A phobia is defined as the “irrational fear” of certain things or situations. Arachnophobia is a fear of spiders (though some might argue that’s a perfectly rational thing to be afraid of!). Then there’s globophobia and xocolatophobia. These and some four hundred other phobias are real and documented. It seems we can become afraid of most anything.

The Bible tells of the Israelites’ fear after receiving the Ten Commandments: “When the people saw the thunder and lightning . . . they trembled with fear” (Exodus 20:18). Moses comforted them, offering this most interesting statement: “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you” (v. 20). Moses seems to contradict himself: “Don’t be afraid but be afraid.” In fact, the Hebrew word for “fear” contains at least two meanings—a trembling terror of something or a reverent awe of God.

We may laugh to learn that globophobia is the fear of balloons and xocolatophobia is a fear of chocolate. The more serious bottom line about phobias is that we can be afraid of all kinds of things. Fears creep into our lives like spiders, and the world can be a scary place. As we struggle with phobias and fears, we do well to be reminded that our God is an awesome God, offering us His present comfort in the midst of darkness.

By Kenneth Petersen

REFLECT & PRAY

What in your life are you afraid of? How does God’s love help you overcome those fears?

Dear God, I find myself afraid of so many things. Please comfort my heart, and help me to rest in Your love.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Two months after the Israelites left Egypt, they came to the wilderness of Sinai (Exodus 19:1-2). Mount Sinai, also called Mount Horeb (3:1; 33:6), was the place where Moses first got to know who God was at the burning bush (3:1-12). Now the whole nation would get to know the “I am” (vv. 14-15). Their arrival is a fulfillment of verse 12: “When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” It marked the beginning of their privileged status as God’s covenant people—“a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (19:6). It’s here that God gave them His laws—instructions for how to relate to God and worship Him (20:1-11) and how to live as His holy people (vv. 12-17). They camped at the foot of Mount Sinai for about a year (Numbers 10:11). Their stay in the Sinai wilderness is told in Exodus 19 through Numbers 10.

K. T. Sim

Harvest Prayer

June 24 - Bending to the Will of God

Most of us think prayer is a matter of getting God to do what we want so He will give us what we need. But the greatest purpose of prayer is to come into the presence of the Father and align our will with His. To let Heaven re-adjust our plan to God's perfect, sovereign plan.

Such praying is our best antidote to temptation. We may ask that God alleviate some of the temptation and He can. But we will, like Jesus, face extraordinary temptations in our daily lives. Our greatest prayer should be that we would not "enter into" temptation—to indulge, latch on. This should be our constant, daily prayer.

Can you imagine what this week would be like if we never entered into the temptations before us? The temptations were there, but we consistently bent the knee in prayer and bent our will to His will? How effective we would become! How clearly we would hear God! What leadership and witness we could give to others! What a testimony we would have of the power of answered prayer!

Where do you need to bend your will to the will of God? Wrestle with God in prayer about this today until you have submitted to His will … and then, go meet the day!

Holy God, how I long to live in Your glorious presence each moment of my life! Show me how to turn my attention back to You when I am distracted or tempted towards worldly things. Surround me with Your Spirit to protect and inform my heart, thoughts and actions. I want to align myself with Your perfect will in order to hear Your voice more clearly and to become a living testimony of Your greatness!

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

Prayer Points

  • Glorify God as the all-sufficient one, who through his limitless power fills everything in every way (Eph. 1:23).
  • Thank God for giving you his Spirit to meet all your needs as you do his will.
  • Confess those times you have sought fulfillment in ways which did not honor God.
  • Commit your needs to him (Phil. 4:19).
  • Ask God for a greater awareness of his power to help you grow spiritually (2 Pet. 1:3-8).
  • Pray for friends who struggle with material or spiritual poverty. Ask God to help them understand that he can meet both areas of need with his riches in Christ.
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.

Connection (Devotions for Everyday Life) © 2024 is a free devotional published daily by Harvest Prayer Ministries. Subscribe here.
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Friday, June 28 2024
Good Morning Worshipers! Prepare your hearts o worship and enter His gates with thanksgiving! Pray that we would worship in Spirit and Truth today--always! Amen!
I'm still working on today's message. See what God is saying when we gather at 10. In the meantime...prepare your hearts with some quiet time with God and our devos for today. The Upper Room reminds us to guard our hearts. Are you guarding your heart and surrendering it to God? Our Daily Bread reminds us to be rich in good deeds and store up treasure in heaven. This life is preparation for the next. Are you ready for heaven? Are you storing treasure? Are you the best steward you can be with all God has blessed you with? Are you content? And The Word for You Today has me asking myself, "is there something God would ask of me and I'd say no?" Do you ever say no to God? I have but try not to. I am a work in process and progress and that's how God made us. We are to keep working on growing more like Him and towards our fullest potential until we are called to heaven. How can we help each other with that? What might we need to let go of or hold looser? God has great plans for you. Rejoice! Deny self, take up cross daily and follow Jesus! Amen! See you soon! (Maybe He just wrote our message for today?)
UR: Blocked

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. - Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

The surgeon delivered bad news about my husband’s health: “Two coronary arteries are 80 percent blocked and lined with large deposits of plaque. Triple bypass surgery and a valve replacement are necessary.” I felt my heart sink. Narrowed heart vessels are often called “the silent killer” because many people have no symptoms until a heart attack takes their lives.

We can experience blockages in our spiritual lives too. Scripture says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Our physical heart is the source of our life. And scripture tells us that Jesus lives within our hearts (see Eph. 3:17). We are to guard this part of ourselves carefully, paying close attention to our conscience, attitude, choices, and thoughts because we can also experience obstructions in our spiritual life. When we cooperate with God’s guidance in removing those blockages, we find healing.

TODAY'S PRAYER
Lord Jesus, shine your light into our hearts. Guide us to obey you so that your healing love may flow in us. Amen.
ODB:

Rich in Good Deeds

Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 1 Timothy 6:18

READ 1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19

After seven decades of hard work as a washerwoman—scrubbing, drying, and pressing clothes by hand—Oseola McCarty was finally ready to retire at the age of eighty-six. She had scrupulously saved her meager earnings all those years, and to the amazement of her community, Oseola donated $150,000 to the nearby university to create a scholarship fund for needy students. Inspired by her selfless gift, hundreds of people donated enough to triple her endowment.

Oseola understood the true value of her wealth was not in using it for her own gain, but to bless others. The apostle Paul exhorted Timothy to command those who are rich in this present world “to be rich in good deeds” (1 Timothy 6:18). Each of us has been given wealth to steward, whether it’s in the form of financial means or other resources. Instead of trusting in our resources, Paul cautions us to put our hope only in God (v. 17) and to lay up treasure in heaven by being “generous and willing to share” (v. 18).

In God’s economy, withholding and not being generous only leads to emptiness. Giving to others out of love is the way to fulfillment. To have both godliness and contentment with what we have, instead of striving for more, is great gain (v. 6). What would it look like for us to be generous with our resources, as Oseola was? Let us strive to be rich in good deeds today as God leads us.

By Karen Pimpo

REFLECT & PRAY

What opportunity do you have to be generous today? How can sharing what you have lead to greater contentment?

Thank You for the resources I have, God. I surrender them to You today.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Paul’s teaching in 1 Timothy 6:6-19 calls to mind the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:19-21: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven . . . . For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” The concept of “laying up treasures” is common to both passages. Treasures on earth speak of investments of things that only have earthly value and usefulness, such as gifts or money. Treasures in heaven refer to earthly investments that have eternal value. Generous giving on earth stores up treasure in heaven. Thus, the need for cultivating contentment. Doing so makes us less susceptible to greed and better positioned for doing good deeds and thereby truly enriching ourselves in the process.

Arthur Jackson
TWFYT
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Don  

Rev. Don Kerns
72 Sunset Hill Rd
Boyertown, PA 19512
Posted by: AT 12:00 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, June 22 2024

Good Morning Friends--Co-Laborers! May God bless and refresh you today! He is upholding you in His strong right hand! He goes before, is behind you and all around you. He is singing over you. Be still and know that He is God and you are His very loved child! Amen! Worship!

I had a call from Dean last night asking for prayer as they battled another big house fire. Pray for all our first responders and those out serving and working in this heat. Pray for holy hydration and refreshing for us too! And even for tonight at the track. Pray for God to refresh and fill us during worship tomorrow as well. Start with the UR's reminder that God rejoices over you. It's true! Receive Him and His many blessings and rejoice as you dwell in His refreshing presence this morning.

In the UR passage God calls you a mighty warrior. Often we can't see what He sees in us. Maybe because He's still developing it but giving you a new name or pronouncing something over you that is promised to come. Receive and believe. Read about Gideon. He was lowly and weak and nothing in His own eyes. But God! He called him mighty warrior too and he was used by God as one and with just a small whittled down band of warriors. God is able! Beware though! Often Satan will attack especially when God has some big things planned for you. And don't allow self doubt to rob you of God's best either. Check out TWFYT about attacks. And then remember God uses all kinds of things to mold and shape us. He redeems and restores and prepares us to be His vessels. He often uses hard times to train and prepare us to lean on Him and follow always. Check out CS devo below and ask God to help you see your potential and to move towards it even if you are in a deep pit right now. He sees you and is at work for good. He's even singing over you. Refocus. Trust. Receive. Prepare. And follow well. You are His! He has great plans for you--even today! Rejoice and be glad in this day and go live and love more like Jesus. Keep your focus right! Amen!

UR: God Rejoices

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. - Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)

One day when I was feeling disappointed and alone, I heard a song on my car radio that mentioned Jesus rejoicing over us. I wondered, How can Jesus rejoice over us? Don’t we mess up a lot? Isn’t God always disappointed in us? I wanted the lyrics to be true, but I was doubtful.

When I got home, I looked in my Bible concordance for the word rejoice and found Zephaniah 3:17. When I read this verse, I imagined God quieting my fear with love, delighting in me, and singing a song directly to me. With that picture in mind, my fears faded into the background, and I felt less alone. This verse gave me hope, peace, and comfort.

Zephaniah 3:17 encouraged me and reminded me that God delights and rejoices over me even when I feel small, alone, and disappointed. Now when I sing along to songs on the radio, I am reminded that God rejoices over me with singing. When we experience difficult times and God feels far away, we can sing a favorite song and remember that God rejoices over us with singing!

TODAY'S PRAYER

Thank you, Lord, for reminders in scripture that you delight in us and rejoice over us. Help us to trust in this promise even when our feelings tell us otherwise. Amen.TWFYT:

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Posted by: AT 11:52 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, June 22 2024

Gina's Sister and family are safe but lost everything in a devastaing fire last evening. Gina is assiting them. Pray for provision and peace. Here is a link to a go fund me if you want to donate. Gina will keep us updated for any other needs. Doneer aan Support Christine's Family Rebuild After Fire, georganiseerd door Eric Waksmunski

Doneer aan Support Christine's Family Rebuild After Fire, georganiseerd ...

On June 20, 2024, in Lehighton, PA, a devastating fire destroyed the h… Eric Waksmunski heeft je hulp nodig voor...

Bobby Gunter Walsh is at home and hoping to be able to up and down some stairs safely today to make it to the celebration of his 40 years on the radio today at Hotel Bethlehem

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Thank God I'm Forgiven Friday! Celebrate! Rejoice and be glad in this day the Lord has made and choose to find the joy of your salvation!

Good Morning Outcasts, Lowlifes, Weaklings, Downtrodden, Marginalized, Mighty and Wise Servants of the most High God! Say what? Is that a truth of your life? Can you say, "I was one way and now another and the difference in my life is Him!"? We live in the paradoxical, upside down, beyond imagination Kingdom of God! PTL! When we are weak, He is strong! He uses the lowly, weak, and humble to overpower the strong. He uses the seemingly nothings and unwise in the ways of the world to overcome the wise in their own eyes worldly scholars. PTL! for how He has saved you, changed you, used you and for the plans He has for you for such a time as this! We are reminded, or sometimes need to be, that we are nothing without Christ and we can do not much of value without Him and for Him. His ways are not ours and we are called to not lean on our own understanding and acknowledge Him in all our ways to receive His direction, wisdom and might. Amen! Come Lord! Fill and use us today! Thank You for saving, preparing and using us as we are for such a time as this! Be glorified! Amen

WOW! Crazy time with God this morning! Our devotionals could be a sermon as they thread together and speak truth into our lives, inform our steps and lead to a day of prayer and following in His presence. Yesterday at our district meeting we discussed the demographics of our individual church's neighborhoods and the people within a 15 minute drive of our buildings. So many around us are still struggling with the after affects of COVID and the isolation and loneliness. So many of us have experienced deep grief and many are still traveling through their grief journeys. Grief and the journey is as individualistic as we are. Who do you know that needs a listening ear, loving encouragement and to be introduced to our Prince of Peace, our Healer and Deliverer. our Comforter? Check out the Upper Room's reminder that God will comfort those who mourn. That's a promise. Many of us need to be reminded of that or help others to open up and receive that shalom beyond understanding. Charles Stanley continues the teaching of how God is with us, redeems circumstances and uses us to be His vessels of comfort and peace. The Word for You Today reminds us of the importance of being and having helpers and mentors. Sometimes we need to humble ourselves and ask for help or offer it. Sometimes people can be time wasters and energy zappers as they don't want to change and find their identity in anger, grief, self pity instead of Christ and new life. Pray for wisdom to stop it when you get like that and discernment for how God wants you to distance yourself from those who will never change. Ask Him about who He has to mentor you and for you to mentor and do something about it! (Watch for info on upcoming small group opportunities and pray into those) Choose to be an encourager and receive encouragement, help, and wisdom. Finally Our Daily Bread speaks about crying out to God to use you (and us). He redeems and promises to use all we have gone through to bless others. We are molded, shaped, prepared and informed through our trials. Ask God to use you and help you to move from self pity to being His instrument of healing. Often the healing comes as we choose to bless others. Where's your focus?

Yes many of us are in grief and circumstances that are very hard. Try to let yourself be open to God's healing love and help and then to use you to bring it. Ask for a right focus and heart. Try your best to get to the place where you can say like Paul, "Forgetting what lies behind...I press on" (even though sometimes we never can forget, That's ok! Just try to redirect yourself sooner and ask the Holy Spirit to help with that too) It's refocusing to the future and what God has for you and us as we grow in trust, release our grip on our circumstances, and find that we are able to choose joy because we know He is working ALL things together for good. Who needs to hear this and embrace it today? I know a few of you may. I'm here and so are your friends and Jesus is always with you. Amen! Praying for you all to know His peace, comfort, love and presence and to allow Him to heal, deliver, strengthen and direct. He really does love you and is always with you and we are here for each other too. Amen! Live and love like Jesus today! he has great plans for you even if it doesn't feel like it right now. Amen!

UR: From Grief to Comfort

[God] will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. - Revelation 21:4 (NIV)

At the height of the pandemic, the whole world was in great turmoil as COVID-19 ravaged the globe, claiming millions of lives in the process. International travel was nearly impossible. During that same period I was studying in the United States, and sadly, my dad passed away back in Africa. The pain of losing my father was almost unbearable. Then, seven months later, my birth mother also died. The tragedy of losing both parents in the same year will live with our family for many years to come.

After a while, I realized that my grief had taken a tremendous toll on me. I turned to the word of God and to prayer for comfort and strength. When I focused on God’s love, I found comfort and assurance to help me through my grief. Now, whenever I am missing my parents, I think of the many good things they achieved, how they sacrificed for us, and how they loved us with the unconditional love of God. Scripture assures us that those who die in the Lord Jesus Christ will rise again, free from death and mourning, and that is worth celebrating.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Dear God, thank you for the peace you give to those in grief. We pray for all those who are grieving the loss of loved ones. Amen.

CS:

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TWFYT:

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ODB:

Use Me

Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:31

READ 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

James Morris was once described as “an illiterate but warmhearted layman,” but God used him to draw Augustus Toplady to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Toplady, the eighteenth-century author of the timeless hymn “Rock of Ages,” described hearing Morris preach: “Strange that I . . . should be brought nigh unto God . . . amidst a handful of God’s people met together in a barn, and under the ministry of one who could hardly spell his name. Surely this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous.”

Indeed, God does marvelous things in unlikely places and through those we may rank as “unqualified” or ordinary. In 1 Corinthians 1, Paul reminded believers in Jesus that they were an unimpressive lot. “Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth” (v. 26). Though the Corinthian believers were quite ordinary, by God’s grace they weren’t lacking in giftedness and usefulness (see v. 7). And God—who knows how to put boasters in their place (vv. 27-29)—was at work among them and through them.

Do you see yourself as “plain,” “ordinary,” or even “less than”? Don’t fret. If you have Jesus and are willing to be used by Him, you have enough. May your heart’s prayer be, “God, use me!”

By Arthur Jackson

REFLECT & PRAY

Who comes to mind when you think of one who’s been quietly but effectively used by God? What can you do to help shift your focus from what you have or don’t have to what God can do through you?

Heavenly Father, please forgive me for focusing on myself and not enough on You. Use me where I am in Your holy service.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

The church in Corinth was established by Paul on his second missionary journey (around ad 50). Some four years later, at the end of his third missionary journey, he wrote to a troubled church characterized by congregational conflicts, abuse of liberty, lack of humility, immorality, and disunity. Paul deals with the source of their problems—their arrogant pride (1 Corinthians 1:26-31). He reminded them they weren’t the influential, powerful elites they assumed they were—wise philosophers, politically powerful, or materially wealthy. They were the opposite—foolish, weak, lowly, despised nobodies (vv. 27-28). Yet, God chose them to be His children based solely on His grace, not on their merits. Therefore, “no one may boast before him” (v. 29; see vv. 4-5). Elsewhere, Paul reminds us, “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Unpack Paul’s letters to the church of Corinth.

K. T. Sim
Posted by: AT 11:51 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, June 22 2024

Sarah update below. Add to that the Bobby Gunther Walsh was released from Lehigh. Not sure but believe he was sent to a rehab. He's asking for prayers to be able to attend the celebration Friday of his40 years on the radio at Hotel Bethlehem

Good Morning New Creations, Very Loved Children of God! AMEN! And we are being made new to go love others and grow His church as we serve together and are used to make disciples of those He is sending. Come Lord! Have Your way with us and make clear our steps. be our Lord and bring Your dreams and visons for us to reality. Thanks! Amen! 

We had a fun night of fellowship and planning last evening with our adult huddle at the Superior. We are an Acts 2:42 church! Table fellowship and worship is part of that. Who does God want you to invite to join us? As we await the AC installation, we anticipate gathering in the building in Aug. Until then we decided to meet at Ritas in Emmaus Wed the 17th of July for ice and fellowship at 6:30. Plan to join us and be the light! We are going to be offering t-shirts for sale shortly with St Matts on them to wear at events like this. Watch for details. They're cool and affordable! Let us keep seeking God for how He wants to send us out to connect to new neighbors and share ideas and plan some fun activities out of the building.

I have another very busy day. yesterday I got to visit some homebound members and will continue today after our district meeting. I'll allow you to process the devos for today on your own. Do you see a thread? Is God highlighting something for you? Who does He want you to disciple or disciple with? Be still, know, receive, process, plan and go live and love like Jesus today! Amen!

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ODB:

New and Certain

His compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Lamentations 3:22-23

READ Lamentations 3:19-26

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For three years, apart from household necessities, Susan didn’t buy anything for herself. The Covid-19 pandemic affected my friend’s income, and she embraced a simple lifestyle. “One day, while cleaning my apartment, I noticed how shabby and faded my things looked,” she shared. “That’s when I started to miss having new things—the sense of freshness and excitement. My surroundings seemed tired and stale. I felt as if there was nothing to look forward to.”

Susan found encouragement in an unlikely book in the Bible. Written by Jeremiah after Jerusalem fell to Babylon, Lamentations describes the open wound of grief suffered by the prophet and the people. In the midst of grief’s despair, however, lies sure ground for hope─God’s love. "His compassions never fail,” Jeremiah wrote. “They are new every morning” (3:22-23).

Susan was reminded that God’s deep love relentlessly breaks through anew each day. When circumstances make us feel there’s no longer anything to look forward to, we can call to mind His faithfulness and look forward to how He’ll provide for us. We can confidently hope in God, knowing our hoping is never in vain (vv. 24-25) because it’s secured in His steadfast love and compassion.

“God’s love is my ‘something new’ each day,” Susan says. “I can look ahead with hope.”

By Karen Huang

REFLECT & PRAY

When have you felt unable to see any hope in your situation? How does the promise of God’s love as “new every morning” give you hope?

Thank You, dear God, because each day brings with it Your certain, steadfast love.

Deal head-on with pain and pressure in this study.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Lamentations is one of the darkest books in the Bible; it’s Jeremiah’s heart cry for his violated nation. But here, at the center point of his poem, we find real hope. “The Lord’s . . . compassions never fail” (3:22). The book also concludes in hope, yet we still sense Jeremiah’s doubt. He proclaims, “You, Lord, reign forever; your throne endures from generation to generation” (5:19). That’s how we might expect the book to end—in ultimate triumph. The prophet, however, asks God a pair of haunting questions: “Why do you always forget us? Why do you forsake us so long?” (v. 20). Although he asks God to “restore us to yourself” (v. 21), he doesn’t do so with unwavering confidence. Rather, he adds this caveat: “unless you have utterly rejected us and are angry with us beyond measure” (v. 22). Jeremiah is a prophet who struggled mightily with the tragedy he saw.

Tim Gustafson

UR: Wait for the Lord

Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. - Isaiah 40:31 (NRSVUE)

Sitting in the urgent care facility with my knee wrapped in ice was not how I had planned to spend my day. Nevertheless, I was hopeful for a quick solution. Instead, I was told I needed major surgery followed by months of recuperation and healing. After four years of recovery, I am still learning my limitations.

Healing from illnesses and injuries takes time, and some have a lifelong impact. God, the great healer, has given me strength, patience, and wisdom throughout my recovery period. But it has required me to alter my routine and responsibilities to allow my body to rest and recover. Many days it requires me to wait.

What does it mean to wait for the Lord, to seek God during my time of need? Instead of allowing my ailment to distract me from God, it can point me to God. As I focus on God in my waiting, I receive God’s promise of strength and hope.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Dear God, when we feel discouraged by the limitations of our physical bodies, help us to wait on you. Through you, we have the hope of renewal and restoration. We pray as Jesus taught us, “Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation” (Luke 11:2-4, NIV). Amen.TWFYT:

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Sarah Update:

Good afternoon everyone.....

Praying that you are all staying cool.  

Here are some folks that could use our prayers.....

Barb Schware will be having some dental surgery done tomorrow. Pray that all goes well and the medical team that will be caring for her gets a good night's sleep. Pray that God's peace overwhelms Barb, and for a quick healing.

Jason Fuhrman broke two bones in his arm. Pray for his healing and for him to be patient in the process.

Gerry Siegfried has asked for prayer for Pam Lambert - she was in a very serious accident. Please pray for healing and restoration.

Kathy Canfield - has some bumps and bruises from a fall she took. Praying for healing and strengthen as mends.

Our Bread Ministry has an urgent need: With Jason unable to pick up the bread for our bread ministry, we are in need of someone/some people to assist with picking up the bread on a Monday afternoon, from the Bimbo driver in Macungie.  We will need someone/some people to also help unload the bread at the church.

IF you are available to assist with this, please reach out to Gail Lichtenwalner, Pastor Don or Sarah. 

This is a vital ministry that we have, and each week we give HOPE to over 60 people.  Please pray about it and 

see if the Lord is nudging you.......

Pray for one another. There are a few of our church family members that are

not feeling well, and/or are going to doctor appointments and anticipating test results. Praying for each, for healing and for God's peace to envelope them.

Stay cool, everyone. Check on loved ones. Drink lots of water, and pace yourself.

  Blessings,

   Sarah

Posted by: AT 11:51 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, June 22 2024

Urgent need: Keep Jason Fuhrman in your prayers. He broke two bones in His arm. Pray for healing and patience in the process.

He picks up our bread from the Bimbo Driver in Macungie every Monday afternoon. We need someone with a pick up truck to do that for the next 6 weeks while he heals. And then to bring it to the church. Someone from the Bread Ministry can meet you to help unload and set up. If you can help, even only a week or two, please let Gail Lichtenwalner know. Thanks!

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Good Morning Braided Cords of Christ! Yes we are a cord of three (or many more) as we are braided together in Christ and strengthened for the stresses of life and made useful for His purposes. Maybe to be thrown out with a life preserver to someone lost in the sea of life? Maybe to help a brother or sister endure some stretching hardship? Maybe attached to a Light to be lowered into the pit of darkness to a friend. Maybe it's a tow rope? Maybe a lasso? Maybe a rope attached to the prayer plow for fallow fields? The braided cord is a reminder that we are called to partner together with others and Jesus. Who are you being braided together with? How is God wanting to use your cord to rescue someone and bring them to the freedom in Christ? I think all our devos for today are being braided into this word from God to us this morning. What's God saying to you and what will you do about it? Life in Christ is all about relationships. Growing relationships with Him, each other and those He is drawing. How are your relationships growing? That will be reflected in your fruit and joy. May we all choose to allow God to braid us together and use us for His glory as we rescue those who are lost together. Amen!

ODB:

God of Freedom

I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt. Exodus 3:10

READ Exodus 3:1-10

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President Abraham Lincoln had emancipated people held in slavery two-and-a half-years earlier and the Confederacy had surrendered, yet the state of Texas still hadn’t acknowledged the freedom of enslaved persons. However, on June 19, 1865, Union army general Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, and demanded that all enslaved persons be released. Imagine the shock and joy as shackles fell off and those in bondage heard the pronouncement of freedom.

God sees the oppressed, and He’ll ultimately announce freedom for those under the weight of injustice. This is true now just as it was true in Moses’ day. God appeared to him from a burning bush with an urgent message: “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt” (Exodus 3:7). He not only saw Egypt’s brutality against Israel—but He also planned to do something about it. “I have come down to rescue them,” God declared, “and to bring them . . . into a good and spacious land” (v. 8). He intended to declare freedom to Israel, and Moses would be the mouthpiece. “I am sending you to Pharaoh,” God told His servant, “to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt” (v. 10).

Though God’s timing may not happen as quickly as we hope, one day He’ll free us from all bondage and injustice. He gives hope and liberation to all who are oppressed.

By Winn Collier

REFLECT & PRAY

How have you seen God work to help the oppressed? How does He invite you to participate in His work?

Dear God, there’s so much oppression in the story of our world. It’s easy to despair. Please help me stay attuned to Your intention to announce freedom.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Moses was one of the most significant leaders in the Bible. We can sometimes overlook, however, how God prepared him to lead. For four decades as a shepherd (Acts 7:30), he tended the flock of his father-in-law Jethro (Exodus 3:1; see 2:16-22). Like David (Psalm 78:70-71), God took Moses from caring for animals to caring for people. While it was the Great Shepherd who saw the misery, heard the cries, and was concerned about the suffering of His people (Exodus 3:7), His rescue plan called for a liberator in the flesh to function on His behalf: “You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron” (Psalm 77:20).

Arthur Jackson

UR: The Third Cord

Jesus said, “Where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” - Matthew 18:20 (NIV)

While I was in the US Navy our ship’s engine urgently needed a replacement part. Another ship was sent with the needed part, but the seas were too rough to launch a boat to bring us the part or for the other ship to come close alongside us. So a pulley was rigged between the two ships, and we were able to retrieve the part and get underway.

As I watched this event unfold, I was amazed at how the large rope being used was pulled tight from time to time as the waves forced the ships farther apart. The rope seemed to transition from hefty to thin and back again. I was concerned that it might snap, and the needed part would be lost. Later I saw that it was a triple-braided rope. Those three intertwined strands gave the rope its strength and prevented it from breaking.

I have learned that having Jesus as the third cord in my relationships can strengthen them and keep them from breaking. As I reflect on my life, I see that the broken relationships I experienced were largely due to my not fully including Jesus in my choices and decisions. When we welcome Christ into our relationships, he will strengthen those relationships with love and grace.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Triune God, help us to include you in all our relationships so that they may be strengthened. Amen.

TWFYT:

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Posted by: AT 11:51 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, June 22 2024

AC Update: You guys! WOW! We are closing in on fully funding the AC installation. PTL and thank you! There are a few checks in the mail and a few pledges to be fulfilled yet, but we are closing in on the $16,500 needed and if we go over a little we can use that to buy new remote access thermostats for the sanctuary and FH. Remember to mark your gift for AC. And thank you for honoring and sowing into God's plans! Now keep seeking Him for how He wants to use our building and His provision year round and your part in that.

We are God's Good News Delivery Co--His Lighthouses! And we are all stepping into our role in that company--givers, prayers, workers, encouragers, etc. What's your part? Who is helping you move towards it? Who are you helping? Keep seeking, following and shining bright!

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Good Morning Generous, Faithful, Loving Friends--Lighthouses! That really does describe our fellowship! We walk in the Light and shine bright as we give generously, follow Jesus faithfully and love like Him. We are friends with God, each other and seeking Godly relationships with those that don't yet know Jesus or those who may have strayed. Seeking, listening, following, loving and helping faithfully is our goal and we are moving closer and closer to becoming a dynamic movement of God! PTL! Yes rejoice! God is on the move and using us faithful friends. We also mentor and model Jesus' examples of how to live and love like Him and choose His best and healthy choices for how to live well and enjoy this life. That's part of the disciple making we are working on.

Yesterday pastor Mike reminded us about choosing to honor the Sabbath rest command. Doing so honors God and is a godly, healthy choice. First of all, it's putting God first, trusting His ways and an act of worship as you still yourself and spend time focused on Him. But sabbath rest also is a healthy choice for us physically, mentally, and emotionally. It's getting our minds off self and refocusing on God. Working from rest and resting at God's feet is how Jesus lived and modeled for us. It requires letting go of our agendas and drives and trusting God to guide and provide. It's being still and knowing and trusting God. It's letting go of your own understanding and acknowledging God in your choices. Mike reminded us that God's best Sabbath for you is designed and flows from who He created you to be. (Some people need to lock away and sleep and others need to get out, connect and do) God has custom plans just for you and you will find rest and recharge and reload in the perfect way He made you. But you have to choose to trust and honor Him with your Sabbaths. And it can be really helpful to have some friends to process, help redirect when needed and serve with. Who are you doing life with? Keep asking God to group together some friends to live well in Christ together. Who are your peeps? and PoP-People of Peace?

So honoring God and processing Mike's message, I took a nap yesterday and slept like ten hours last night. I sat and sabbathed with God this morning and am now easing into this blog and my day (well it's almost lunch time! The challenge is seeing this as not a wasted day!). I am refreshed and recharged and ready to roll into a day of peace, joy and productivity. PTL! I have been sharing with some of my close teammates one of my struggles right now. They have been praying, checking in and encouraging. Thanks! Something is amiss, I think mentally, focus wise, maybe physically. I think it's being over-medicated related? I just am lethargic, unable to have the mojo to do what I need to and just really don't seem to mind. It's like I'm doped up and know what needs to happen (or what I think needs to happen) and just never get to it nor don't seem too concerned about it either.  I am hoping next week's doc and cariology visits straighten this out. I appreciate prayers for God to deliver me from this fog and to help me refocus and keep moving. Thanks. But I also know that sometimes God has to hit me over the head with a 2x4 to remind me to choose, rest, trust, and healthy rhythms. Sometimes I have to just slow down and allow Him to raise up His plans and co-laborers. I think He is doing some of that through this too. So I am praying, processing with some friends, growing in choosing trust and holding loosely as I allow God to work this all together for good. Amen! So be it Lord! Help me! May I choose and follow Your best ways and custom plans. Thanks! My whole life has been lived as a driven person. Maybe God is helping me to understand those who want to but can't be so driven? Maybe He's saying whoa! Slow down and wait for me? All I know is I am sabbathing more and better lately and allowing Him to lead and provide and that is always a good choice! He has great plans! My prayer is to trust, hold loosely and honor Him in my choices. (Note: as I am proof reading this the cardiologist called and is assessing adjusting meds! Your prayers are already working! Pray for her wisdom too!)

So since this is babbling on, I'm just attaching our devos below for you to sabbath and process with. Maybe call a friend and process together too! What's God saying to you today and what will you do about it? Do you have generous faith that lavishes God's love and provision over those in need? Are you living and walking in the Light. Remember to turn off the noise, give God your anxiety and trust Him. He is in control and has a custom plan just for you! And sometimes that plan requires you to be still and wait on God or get up and get moving with Him. To do either well, you need to be familiar with His voice and ways. That comes with practice as we learn to live and love more like Jesus and become more of who He created us to be as we follow His custom plans. And it starts with honoring His Sabbath command and sitting at His feet daily, dying to self, taking up cross and choosing to follow. Amen!

Have a blessed day! God has great plans for you! Rejoice and be glad in this day!

ODB:

Generous Faith

When you are harvesting in your field . . . leave [some] for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow. Deuteronomy 24:19

READ Deuteronomy 24:17-22

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

A few years ago, our church was invited to host refugees fleeing their country after a tumultuous change in political leadership. Entire families came with only what they could fit in a small bag. Several of our church families opened their homes, including some who had little room to spare. 

Their gracious hospitality reflects God’s triple command to the Israelites when they entered the promised land (Deuteronomy 24:19-21). As an agricultural society, they understood the importance of the harvest. The crops were essential to get them through until next year. This makes God’s command to “leave [some] for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow” (v. 19) also a request to trust Him. The Israelites were to practice generosity not by giving only when they knew they had enough but giving out of a heart that trusts God’s provision. 

Such hospitality was also a reminder “that [they] were slaves in Egypt” (vv. 18, 22). They were once oppressed and destitute. Their generosity was a reminder of God’s graciousness to them in freeing them from bondage.

Believers in Jesus are similarly urged to be generous. Paul reminds us, “Though [Christ] was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). We give because He gave to us. 

By Matt Lucas

REFLECT & PRAY

When has someone helped you when you were in need? How will you give to others while trusting God’s provision for you?

Dear Father, please open my eyes to the needs of the marginalized in my community. 

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

The laws for Israel in Deuteronomy 24:17-22 occur in a series of laws on how to live in the promised land. The point of the section is clear: provide for the poor, the needy, and the foreigner. An interesting corollary occurs, however, at the end of the previous chapter. Deuteronomy 23:24-25 permitted anyone—not merely the needy—to eat whatever they wished from a neighbor’s field. One day, Jesus’ disciples availed themselves of this provision (Matthew 12:1). Immediately, the Pharisees accused them of “doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath” (v. 2)—that is, “working.” Christ defended His disciples, saying, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath” (v. 8). They ate the grain merely because they “were hungry” (v. 1). Jesus noted that His Father desires “mercy” (feeding the hungry) over “sacrifice.” The Pharisees adhered to a legalistic interpretation of the law, in the process missing the generous Spirit who gave it.

Tim Gustafson

TWFYT:

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UR: In God's Hands

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. - Proverbs 3:5 (NRSVUE)

Eight years ago, when I learned that my younger brother had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, many questions flooded my mind. What is diabetes? Is my little brother going to be able to live a normal life? How could this happen? I didn’t know what to think. I was filled with anxiety and fear. Experiencing a family member’s suffering was new for me, and I was afraid. Thankfully, after three full days in the hospital, my brother was released to return home. But this disease would stay with him for the rest of his life.

Looking back now on that event, I can’t help but wonder why God allows the ones we love to suffer. Solomon’s words from Proverbs 3:5 come to mind. It is a call to realize that even in the hard times, painful memories, and terrible experiences, we can trust in the Lord who can use those hard times to shape us. Even in the toughest moments, nothing can take us out of God’s hands. In the hard times of our lives we are called to “trust in the Lord” (Prov. 3:5).

TODAY'S PRAYER

O God, give us strength to fight the fears and worries which often overwhelm us. Give us hope, and reassure us that we are in your hands. Amen.

CS:

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Saturday, June 22 2024

Sarah Prayer update and Harvest Prayer Blogs below

Good Morning Friend of God Who Is A Friend through You! Who's your buddy? Remember swimming or hiking with a buddy to help in time of need? That's how we are to swim through this life: buddied up and being a buddy. Who's your buddy? And we need to remember that Jesus is always our Buddy too. Thank God He's a friend of sinners like you and me and walks through our journey with us, ready to help in times of trouble and to keep us company along the way! We have a mission to co-labor with Him and each other and that is to go befriend some lost and lonely people and introduce them to our Buddy and help them to learn to walk with Him. Check out Our Daily Bread Below that speaks into this. Sometimes we choose to walk on our own or get all busy--too busy--doing our own thing. The Upper Room reminds us to unclutter and slow down on the busyness and choose what matters most, sitting at Jesus' feet and moving at His pace, yoked to Him. Have you ever heard Jesus say, "Martha, Martha" Well, your name. I have heard Donald, Donald. When we hear that, it's time to stop and still ourselves and choose the best by sitting at His feet a spell, and yoking to Him. Amen!

Too often we overcomplicate this life in Christ. He said He is gentle and His yoke is easy. We too often think He is a harsh taskmaster and get busy about all kinds of things that are not His best for us nor His easy yoke. Be still, know and go with Him at His pace. Yesterday I had plans to slow down and just sit at His feet all day and listen, receive and write His message for Sunday. BUT GOD! Yes, sometimes when we focus on Him, He will start walking when we think He is wanting us to be still. I found out Bobby Gunther Walsh was injured Sat. at the races. No one really knew. It seemed like just an minor thing. Anyway, God said, go see Him. So I switched my plans and walked with Jesus to comfort and pray with my friend who just got out of surgery a half hour before I arrived. Today may be a day of sitting and writing, but that is in God's hands. Seek first the Kingdom of God! Be still and know. Listen and follow. Move with Him and choose His best. His yoke is easy and custom made for you and flows from Who you are created to be and God's plans for you. And usually His plans for you include others.

 Tomorrow evening some of us from the Wed. Adult Huddle will be meeting and processing God's plans and Jesus' easy yoke for us for the rest of the summer to connect to neighbors and connect them to Him. Please pray for us to see and hear His plans and to plan well. We recently received a demographic analysis of our area from the denomination. One of the biggest needs flows from the effects of the pandemic--lack of relationships and connections. Some of the biggest hindrances to religion is the lack of an invite, not knowing church people and believing that the church is irrelevant to their lives. Think about the ideas God is giving you right now to connect to a neighbor and connect them to us and God. We are a very loving, accepting, joyful people that love God and others well. What might God be leading us and you to try? Who is He bringing to mind. Let us process this together! His easy yoke is just being you, connected to people and allowing Him to love through you. Who can't do that? Well, those too busy doing their own thing, Martha. Choose well, my friends and go live and love more like Jesus today--everyday! He does have great plans for you that will satisfy and at the same time glorify Him. That's His easy yoke custom fitted to you for such a time as this. Amen

ODB:

Friend to the Lonely

God sets the lonely in families. Psalm 68:6

READ Psalm 68:3-6, 19

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

Holly Cooke didn’t have one single friend when she moved to London for a job. Her weekends felt miserable. The city itself tops the list for feeling blue—with 55 percent of Londoners saying they’re lonely, according to a global survey, compared to just 10 percent of residents in neighborly Lisbon, Portugal.

For connection, Holly defied her fears and formed a social media group called The London Lonely Girls Club—and some thirty-five thousand have joined. Small-group meetups every few weeks offer park picnics, art lessons, jewelry workshops, dinners, and even outdoor exercise sessions with puppies.

The challenge of loneliness isn’t new, nor is the Healer of our feelings of isolation. Our eternal God, wrote David, “sets the lonely in families; he leads out the prisoners with singing” (Psalm 68:6). Asking God to point our way to Christlike friends is a holy privilege and, thus, a request we can freely take to Him. “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling” (v. 5), added David. “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens” (v. 19).

What a friend we have in Jesus! He grants us forever friends, starting with the glorious presence of Himself every moment. As Holly says, “Friend time is good for the soul.”

By Patricia Raybon

REFLECT & PRAY

What do you enjoy about friendship with Jesus? What does He teach you about being a forever friend to others?

When my heart feels lonely, dear Jesus, please point me to a good friend—starting with You.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Psalm 68 begins with words similar to Numbers 10:35: “Rise up, Lord ! May your enemies be scattered; may your foes flee before you.” Moses prayed this “whenever the ark set out” as the Israelites journeyed through the wilderness toward the promised land. Because of this, scholars say David wrote this psalm as he moved the ark from Kiriath Jearim to Jerusalem (1 Samuel 7:2; 2 Samuel 6). The Israelites probably sang it as a victory song in their subsequent battles against their enemies. The psalmist affirms that God fights on behalf of His people (Psalm 68:1-3; see Exodus 14:14; Deuteronomy 1:30). He celebrates God’s presence, power, protection, provision, and providential care for Israel, recalling how He led them safely through the wilderness into their inheritance. To show how much He cares for them, David highlights His compassion and care for the helpless—orphans, widows, the oppressed—people whom society ignores (Psalm 68:5-6).

K. T. Sim

UR: Decluttering Our Lives

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed — or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” - Luke 10:41-42 (NIV)

I enjoy watching TV programs where the hosts are invited into people’s homes to help them clean. The houses are overflowing with items, causing stress to the families living there. If the family commits to getting rid of half their belongings, the show’s team will clean their house, provide new storage solutions, and reorganize each room. It is satisfying to see the joy on the family members’ faces when they return to see their “new” home. And when the team visits again a few weeks later, the families are still reaping the benefits of the experience.

I wonder if we are like this spiritually. Are our lives cluttered by many things that hinder our time spent with God? Perhaps we need to cut down on the time we spend on work, leisure activities, social media, and socializing and dedicate more time prioritizing our relationship with God through prayer, Bible reading, and meditation. Let’s commit to spending more time with God and see what a difference it makes. I think the benefits will be out of this world.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Loving Father, help us to take every opportunity to be near to you so that we may grow closer to you and your peace that passes all understanding. Amen.

Harvest Blogs

June 18 - Only You

In a very real way, we need to look at intercession with passion, with a sense that our prayers could make the difference between “winning and losing.” Too often, when we are asked to pray for something, we come at it with a lackluster, ho-hum attitude: My prayers won’t matter in this situation; surely others are praying too. Or we believe that God is going to do His will in this situation regardless of whether or not we pray, so we are not burdened to pray. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Prayer leader, Steve Hawthorne, states, “What does it really matter if I say words into the air?” Or “If God knows what He’s going to do, why doesn’t He just do it?” But if God truly presides as Judge, with His court ever in session (Genesis 18:20-23; Psalm 65:1-4; Hebrews 4:14-16, 7:25-8:2), our words of intercession are not just sound waves hitting the ceiling. Our expressions of prayer reverberate throughout God’s court, not just for Him to hear, but for all the angelic hosts before whom this awesome drama is being played out.

Scripture also clearly indicates that intercession is important to God. How do we know this? Because both the Holy Spirit and Jesus are involved. Romans 8 tells us that “the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. . . . The Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” (verses 26-27); and “Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (verse 34). Hebrews reminds us that “[Jesus] is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” (Hebrews 7:25).

We need to attack every situation we feel a tug to pray about as if we were the only one praying! You might be the only person who ever prays for your unbelieving neighbor’s salvation. No praying grandmother. No Christian wife praying for her husband. No believer at work. Only you.

Holy Lord, help me to obey quickly when You put someone or some situation on my heart! When Your Spirit urges me to pray, I ask for the awareness and passion to intercede! Help me to grow in this practice so that You can use me for Your purposes in the lives of others.

--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 one to whom you have given your entire life.
  • Thank him for desiring to be Lord of everything that you have and are, and for asking nothing less.
  • Confess those parts of your life that you still hold back from God’s complete authority.
  • Commit yourself to laying these areas before God throughout the day, looking for his help in surrendering them completely.
  • Ask God to help you be completely devoted to him and his will (Col. 3:17).
  • Ask that your church’s worship be made uplifting not only by music and preaching but also by the sacrificial lives of members who have served Christ during the week (Rom. 12:1).
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.

Sarah update:

Good evening Church family,

Hope you have been staying cool throughout today and coming days will be another test of trying to stay cool. Remember to paste yourself and not to overheat, keep yourself hydrated.

I wanted to share a few of our prayer needs from Sunday, with you:

We went to pray for Barb Schware, she will be having some dental procedures done on Thursday

Bill Miller, who is a friend of Darlene Geiger’s husband, has been diagnosed with cancer

We want to remember Chris and Yvonne Muik’s three daughters as they are all dealing with health issues

We also want to pray for Parker, who is Tabby Lichtenwalner‘s nephew, and he will be having hip replacement. Eventually down the road he will have to have his other hip replaced, but keep this young little boy in your thoughts and prayers, and for his parents as they Are there to support and bring him through this.

Justine, who is a coworker of Lisa Wenner, they will be doing a procedure sometime this week to try to turn the baby so he is no longer breached. So please pray that the procedure is a success and she will be able to have the baby naturally.

Also want to pray for JOSIE‘s two daughters who are beginning new ventures. They are starting new businesses, one daughter is in Allentown and the other daughter is in Florida so please keep them both in your prayers asking for wisdom and guidance for both.

Pastor Don has asked for prayer for Bobby Gunther Walsh, he is currently in the hospital with a broken leg. And he has a long road of recovery and rehab ahead of him so may we pray for patience for him and for healing and strengthening.

I believe that is all the request at the moment. If there is a request that you have that you would like to share with our warriors, please send me an email or text me and I will definitely make sure that it gets out to our warriors.

Stay cool, and refreshed throughout the remainder of this week. God bless you.


Blessings and peace,

Sarah

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Saturday, June 22 2024

Happy Father's Day! And to those who are mourning and struggling today may God bring shalom, strength and comfort. Amen!

 Good Morning Peace and Joy Bringers! Pursuing peace and joy are great choices as we learn to walk more like Jesus. And we are called to bring peace and joy alive wherever we step. How hard is that? Some of us are natured to not stir the pot or cause conflict and others of us, well, pray to know and bring joy and peace! We serve the Prince of Peace and when He was born the angels pronounced "Joy to the world!" We are blessed to be able to choose and follow peace that brings great joy. It was even prophesied over our fellowship that we are Joy Church as much love, peace and joy are being experienced through us as we encounter others. We are in a battle, yet called to choose and bring peace. May it be so Lord! Guide our choices. Help us to turn off the noise, hate and anger and choose peace and joy. May we continue to grow as the place where peace and joy are found and others be drawn to You through our loving ways. Thank You! Happy Father's Day Abba! May we continue to fight the good fight of faith, pass on Your and our love to the generations and always pursue Your peace and Joy as we pray in the name of our Prince of Peace, Jesus. Amen and Amen!

What example are you setting? How is God blessing you with peace and joy? Share those stories as you continue to choose well and love more like Jesus! Amen

Shalom! See you soon!

TWFYT:

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June 16 - Choosing Peace

The book of Genesis tells us a story of persistent pursuit of peace in the face of opposition. Isaac, the son of Abraham, moved near the Philistines during a time of famine in the land. God blessed Isaac’s clan greatly and the Philistines became jealous and made Isaac and his people move further away. Moving to the Valley of Gerar, Isaac’s servants dug a well to provide needed water. The Philistine herdsmen argued with Isaac’s herdsmen and they moved farther away and dug another well. Again, the Philistines insisted that the water belonged to them. So, once again Isaac’s clan moved again and dug a third well. This time, they were able to establish a dwelling place for their people.

This story in Genesis 26 ends with the King of the Philistines, Abimelek coming to Isaac and asking for a covenant of peace:

Meanwhile, Abimelek had come to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his personal adviser and Phicol the commander of his forces. Isaac asked them, “Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?”

They answered, “We saw clearly that the Lord was with you; so we said, ‘There ought to be a sworn agreement between us’—between us and you. Let us make a treaty with you that you will do us no harm, just as we did not harm you but always treated you well and sent you away peacefully. And now you are blessed by the Lord.”

Isaac then made a feast for them, and they ate and drank. Early the next morning the men swore an oath to each other. Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they went away peacefully.

That day Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well they had dug. They said, “We’ve found water!” He called it Shibah, and to this day the name of the town has been Beersheba. (Genesis 26:26-33)

We can learn much from Isaac about pursuing peace. Even though he had a position of wealth and power, he did not use that to try to dominate his neighbors. As opposition arose, he took every opportunity to choose the path of peace. At great inconvenience, he moved his flocks and family several times to avoid provoking the Philistines. When the Philistine leader who had created such tension came to him, instead of rejecting him, Isaac accepted the overtures of peace and created a covenant of peace with his neighbors. Persistent pursuit of peace often pays big dividends in the end.

Most of us have those who, for one reason or another, have chosen not to walk in peace with us. It might be a co-worker, a fellow student, a neighbor, or even a relative who just decides they don’t like you and wants to make your life miserable. Like Isaac, we can choose to be a peacemaker, in so far as it depends upon us. That’s what followers of Jesus do.

Ask the Lord to show you one person in your life with whom you need to work on developing a more peaceful relationship. Begin to pray for that person and situation, that Jesus would use you to be an agent of his peace.

Lord, I hate conflict. I really do want to live in peace with everyone. Help me to pursue peace and not just be apathetic about uncomfortable situations. Show me how to do all that I can to live in peace with others. I want to reflect your peace to everyone I know.

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

Prayer Points

  • Praise God that he wants you to have the full measure of his joy in you as he prayed to his Father in Jn. 17:13.
  • Thank God for filling your heart with joy (Ps. 4:7).
  • Confess any inability to feel “the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Neh. 8:10) due to some situation that may trouble you right now.
  • Commit yourself to reading Paul’s letter to the Philippians to inspire you toward greater joy.
  • Ask God to help you be joyful in every situation and to do everything without complaining or arguing (Phil. 2:14).
  • Pray that your family and friends may see your joy in the Lord in all situations and likewise be joyful.
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.

Connection (Devotions for Everyday Life) © 2024 is a free devotional published daily by Harvest Prayer Ministries. Subscribe here.

UR: Pass the Baton

[The Lord] set up Instruction for Israel, ordering our ancestors to teach them to their children. This is so that the next generation and children not yet born will know these things, and so they can rise up and tell their children. - Psalm 78:5-6 (CEB)

I find relay races inspiring. Every person on the team shares equal responsibility, and they all run eagerly to do their part well. If one team member is slow, another may be fast and make up time. Though the foundation is laid by one team member, the whole team contributes to the outcome. Every team member strives toward the same goal as they pass on the baton and run the race well.

The same thing is true in our spiritual life. The foundation of faith is often laid by one generation and passed on to future generations. When the baton of faith gets passed on, the race continues and victories are realized. Since faith is realized only when it is practiced, it’s important for older generations to share their faith stories with younger generations. Continuing the race does not depend on the odds we face but rather on our determination to persevere in faith. As believers we are on God’s team, with feet eager to run for God’s purpose.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Give us wisdom, O Lord, to pass on the faith within us to future generations. Allow our faith to grow and to bless many. Amen.

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Saturday, June 22 2024

Worship Tomorrow at 10 in person in the building and on Zoom. Bring a friend! (Reminder, if you are donating for the AC (we need about $1000. yet) Mark your extra giving on your envelope for AC or place donation in a separate envelope marked for AC. Note: if needed Debbie will provide a receipt for tax purposes. Thank you to all who have given and promised to give! The equipment is ordered.

Good Morning Faithful Followers of Jesus, Walking in Freedom Friends! I love Our Daily Bread's reminder from Gal. 5:13-18 about the heart of service--be like Jesus! Humble yourself, worship, seek and follow Jesus and His way. "Serve one another humbly in love...love your neighbor as yourself, walk by the Spirit." Start with these as you seek to become more like Jesus and do more of what you are created to do. What are your motives and motivation? Thank God for speaking and directing and for some friends to process and serve with. What's He saying to you and what will you do about it? We are free indeed! Amen! Walk in that freedom well as you follow Jesus more in '24!

Gal. 5:13-18, 

13 For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. 14 For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
 15 But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.

Living by the Spirit’s Power

16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. 18 But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.

ODB:

Heart of Service

Do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. Galatians 5:13

READ Galatians 5:13-18

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

When my “uncle” Emory passed away, the tributes were many and varied. Yet all those honors carried a consistent theme—Emory showed his love for God by serving others. Nowhere was this more exemplified than during his World War II military service, where he served as a corpsman—a medic who went into battle without a weapon. He received high military honors for his bravery, but Emory was most remembered for his compassionate service, both during and after the war.  

Emory’s selflessness lived out Paul’s challenge to the Galatians. He wrote, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13). But how? In our brokenness, we’re hardwired to put self first, rather than others, so where does this unnatural selflessness come from?

In Philippians 2:5, Paul offers this encouragement: “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” Paul describes Christ’s willingness to even experience death on a cross out of His great love for us. Only as His Spirit produces the mind of Christ in us are we set apart and enabled to sacrifice for others—reflecting the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made when He gave Himself for us. May we yield to the Spirit’s work in us.

By Bill Crowder

REFLECT & PRAY

When has someone sacrificially served you? How can you serve others, perhaps beginning with your own family?

Loving Father, thank You for the perfect example of Jesus and His sacrifice for me. Please help me to have the mindset of Jesus.

For further study listen to The Compassion of Jesus.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Being led by the Spirit is about freedom with responsibility. Galatians 5:13 states, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” We have freedom in Christ, but it’s not freedom to gratify self at the expense of others. Rather, it’s the freedom of not being enslaved to our own desires and being liberated to genuinely care for others. The contrast is found in verse 16: “walk by the Spirit” or “gratify the desires of the flesh.” In verse 17, we see the actual conflict: “The Spirit [desires] what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” The Spirit enables us to rise above the flesh and do what pleases God and not ourselves.

Bill Crowder
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Friday, June 14 2024

Good Morning House of Prayer for the Nations, God's Custom Gathered Body! TGIF!

Thank God I'm Forgiven! PTL and amen! What are you thankful for today? How is our great gratitude flowing  through us into loving service and disciple making as our worshipful response. God is so good, kind and loving and He has custom made plans for you and for us that are motivated by our love, thanksgiving and worship. Just meditate on that a bit today and then check out the Harvest Prayer blogs speaking into the fact that God designed us to be a House of Prayer for the Nations as we respond with childlike faith to those responding with childlike faith to His love and call. We always need to be assessing if there is some house cleaning to be done in us and our Body and to be faithful to do so. One of my constant prayers is for St. Matts to become a House of Payer and God is beginning to send in the nations to pray and for childlike faith. PTL!

Our bird feeder attracts all kinds of different birds as God takes care of them through our provision. But our feeders have become a House of Feeding for the Species, just like we are becoming a HOP for the Nations. We have many squirrels and chipmunks, racoons. opossum, deer and now ducks! (yes Mr. and Mrs. Mallard have been ground feeding some grain and God provides through us). We, as God's Body, are connecting to all kinds of new people as God uses us to feed, serve, help, pray and encourage. PTL and keep praying into our growth as His vessels and for connections to new people He is sending and even some new connection points. And pray to be His vessel, encourager, for childlike faith and to teach and use you to pray. He is on the move!

Our devotionals (below) really spoke to my heart this morning. prayerfully meditate on them, journal what God is saying and process with some friends. A friend from races (non-believer drug addict) is going through all kind of health issues and reaching out for advice. Is God using this hard thing to open his heart? I have asked God to use me and guide me. Maybe God is using something from your past, or wanting to, to encourage another, pray with them and help them find our Peace, Joy and Hope? Our Daily Bread and Upper Room speak into this and God's sufficiency to help us and carry us through when we are in those very hard dark valleys. Charles Stanley speaks into this and our obedience and surrender no matter what we are facing. And The Word for You Today is teaching some more on prayer as we continue to work on becoming the people we are created to be, doing what we are created to do and becoming a House of Prayer. How can I pray for or help you? How might God want to use you? Keep praying, processing, dying to self and following Jesus and His examples. He is worthy of all praise, glory, honor and our faithful obedience. Amen!

Have a great weekend and live and love more like Jesus!

   Harvest Blogs:

June 14 - Heavenly Inspection

Jesus did such an inspection as He came into the holy city, Jerusalem.

Jesus entered Jerusalem and came into the temple; and after looking around He left for Bethany with the twelve, since it was already late. (Mark 11:11)

Don’t miss the seemingly random bit of travelogue: "after looking around." The Wuest Expanded translation says it like this: "After giving everything a comprehensive inspection.”

Jesus never did anything randomly. What was He inspecting? The answer becomes clear the next day:

Then they came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves; and He would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple. And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations?’ But you have made it a robber’s den." (Mark 11:15-18) 

It was His house! Jesus was making an inspection to see what was happening in the very home He had designed. When He reported to His Father what was happening, and received instructions from the Architect and Builder of the temple, He came back the next day and cleaned house.

He still inspects His house. Look at Revelation, Chapters 3-4, and you will see Jesus, after his ascension, returning to the seven churches and telling them what to do to clean up the church. He has the authority to do so and we should be grateful for His intense interest.

We should be aware that He is looking at our churches all the time. It is His body. Just as we examine our body if there is a problem, so does He.

What does He find as He "looks around at everything" in our churches? Vain worship? Holy, sacred things being used for selfish, secular purposes? His mission being ignored? His presence not sought?

And, most importantly, is our church missing its essential task—to be a house of prayer for all nations? Is prayer foundational to all we do, or relegated to a small closet for the few who are interested? Does He find us doing, with what is His, what He desires?

It’s time to ruthlessly and relentlessly clean house. It is past time to make His house a house of prayer.

Creator God, You made Your church to be a house of prayer for all nations, but we have largely made it a den of thieves. We have been robbing You of Your glory and making church about us instead of about You. Make us more aware of Your heart for our purpose – to be the Bride of Jesus Christ, Your Only Son! Help us to clean up our act and make ourselves ready so that when You return for us, we are clean and pure and spotless!

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

Prayer Points

  • Praise God for his love for children who often are full of insight (Mk.10:14-16).
  • Thank God that he teaches you to have a childlike faith (Mt.11:25).
  • Confess how often you make things so complicated and act so independently of him.
  • Commit yourself to giving out the simple gospel message, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).
  • Ask God to help you recognize every opportunity to have a childlike faith, and not to be childish (Mt. 18:4).
  • Pray that Christians all over the world may “tell the good news” in a childlike way and be ready to welcome all who respond as little children, eager to know more.
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.

Connection (Devotions for Everyday Life) © 2024 is a free devotional published daily by Harvest Prayer Ministries. Subscribe here.

ODB:

Dilemmas and Deeper Faith

Daughter, your faith has healed you. Mark 5:34

READ Mark 5:21-34

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

During a Saturday morning Bible study, a father was perplexed because his beloved, wayward daughter had returned to the city, but he was uncomfortable with her in his home because of her behavior. Another attendee was not well in her body because the physical effects of long-term disease and aging had taken their toll. Numerous visits to numerous doctors had yielded minimal progress. She was discouraged. By divine design, Mark chapter 5 was the Bible passage they studied that day. And when the study was over, hope and joy were palpable.

In Mark 5:23, Jairus, a father with a sick child, exclaimed, “My little daughter is dying.” On His way to visit the girl, Jesus healed an unnamed woman of her long-term health issue, saying, “Daughter, your faith has healed you” (v. 34). Jairus and the woman, compelled by faith in Jesus, sought Him out and they weren’t disappointed. But in both cases, prior to meeting Jesus, things had progressed from “bad to worse” before getting better.

Life’s dilemmas don’t discriminate. Regardless of gender or age, race or class, we all face situations that perplex us and send us searching for answers. Rather than allowing challenges to keep us from Jesus, let’s strive to have them stir us to deeper faith in the One who feels it when we touch Him (v. 30) and who can make us well.

By Arthur Jackson

REFLECT & PRAY

What current situation compels you to seek Jesus? What’s your heartfelt prayer today?

Dear Jesus, You know each painful situation in my life. Please make me strong in faith even when things go from bad to worse.

Uncover how we can work through life’s pain.

Lecture - Our Daily Bread University

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

The four gospels include multiple miracles Jesus performed during His earthly ministry. Mark is often called the “action gospel” because of its focus on Christ’s deeds. Mark contains more miracles proportionately than the other gospel accounts. Mark 5 shows Jesus’ authority over demons (vv. 1-20), death (vv. 21-24, 35-43), and disease (vv. 25-34). His miracles also revealed His authority over nature and disabilities. John wrote, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” (John 21:25).

Alyson Kieda

UR: Sufficient

[The Lord] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. - 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

After my sister’s surgery for a brain tumor, I stayed with her in the intensive care unit (ICU). She was suffering greatly, and I prayed for God to grant her relief and to provide me with strength to console and support her. I began to read from a copy of The Upper Room. The selected scripture for one meditation was 2 Corinthians 12:9. From then on, that verse became my refrain, my strength.

I looked up when I heard my sister speak, though incoherently; it seemed obvious she was not improving. When the ICU visiting hours were over, my husband picked me up so we could take care of an errand while my other sister and my mother remained in the waiting area. Before long, I received a call from my sister, who told me to return to the hospital because our mother had become distraught; my sister and I then took over the vigil. A bit later, the doctors operated again, but this time my sister did not survive.

Throughout this ordeal God remained steadfast. God’s strength became mine. It allowed me, in turn, to console, support, and encourage my family in this ultimate moment of grief. Thanks be to God!

TODAY'S PRAYER

Your power is made perfect in our weakness, O God. In our weakness we are made strong by your grace. To you, eternal God, be all glory. Amen.CS:

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TWFYT

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Posted by: AT 02:25 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, June 14 2024

Good Morning Expectant, Earnest, Enterprising, Excited, Espousers of Everything Emanuel Is and Is Doing! What's that all about? Love the E's! God is leading and molding us to be all about these and answering our many prayers and we have some great stories to share and plans to make. Amen! Rejoice and PTL!

WOW! God is on the move! What a mighty God we serve! He is our Savior, Healer, Deliverer, Helper, Provider, Protector and Friend among many more characteristics of Who He is and what He does. PTL! Do you realize what God is doing among us and how He is answering our prayers, providing and guiding and encouraging us? So what started as what I thought was a leading of God to air condition the Fellowship Hall to feeling deflated to being overjoyed as He is providing in big ways and through some faithful outsiders too! AMAZING! Yesterday we received another $100 from an outsider that wants to sow into what God is doing. So far four outsiders have been faithful to trust God and follow His nudge with gifts of $10,000, $3000, $300 and $100. God stirred some of us to give this past week almost another $1000 and yesterday I received a pledge of another $1000. So if I am figuring correctly that leaves just $1000. to fund. I'm floored as God reveals and affirms His plans through His provision! Just stop and worship right now! Then ask Him to reveal to you and us some of His plans for the rest of the summer in the building and out. The equipment is ordered and will be available in a few weeks and then we will schedule installation. Thank you to all who have given (or will give) and trusted and followed God! You are  true followers, servants and a blessing!

What's our lesson in all of this? Trust and follow God when He gives dreams and vision or speaks to your heart. Keep praying and trusting and then follow His provision and/or be His provision. Don't get like me and all bound up when the answers to prayers or God's provision doesn't come right away. Just trust and place matters in his hands and do what He says to do. God is able and will lead to His best to earnest, faithful servants and through them too.

Family Ministries has begun some out of the building celebrations and gatherings as we separate from the adult huddle for at least the summer. Next Wed. the 19th at 6 the adult huddle will gather at the Superior for dinner and discussions for God's plans for us this summer. Pray into that for some great ideas and then things we will be able to do back in the building by Aug. God has some great plans for us to reach out and gather in, connect to Him and make disciples. Ask God to raise up His provision for this meal and our summer activities. Pray we continue to follow His provision and plans. Family Ministries will gather for mini golf the following Wed the 26th. Pray for God to lead us to connections to families and new people that He is drawing and sending our way and that we connect them to Him and make disciples of Jesus as we trust and follow Him together. Amen!

PTL! Yesterday's donut day was amazing and packed with people. God was present and moving. We could use more of you to connect to some of these new people at the next one on July 10th. Pray for us to be a blessing to many more needy neighbors and to shine bright. These donut days are becoming an event as we sow and bless and love on people that God is sending through our doors. PTL! Plan to join us next time or as able and keep praying for connecting these people to the saving love of God through the blood of Jesus. Thank God for all our volunteers! We have a crew that serve faithfully! Pray for our Support and Vision teams to keep seeking, listening, discerning well and making God's plans. The Support team meets Tonight.

Okay, so I'm gushing and so excited! I've been in a bit of a funk lately, probably heart and med related or maybe it's just old age? Anyway some have been praying for God to deliver me and He is! PTL! News like this fires me up and we see God at work and moving in big and little ways all around our Body as we work on living sacrificially and loving extravagantly more and more like Jesus. God is helping us as we work on Become More in '24 and leading the way. Keep praising, seeking and following. He has really good plans to discover as we continue to move towards becoming a dynamic movement of God. AMEN! Talk to Him about your part and ask for some friends to co-labor with too. Rejoice!

So this went longer than I thought. I'll just attach our devotionals below for you to engage with and pray through. God is speaking to us through these today as we keep living expectantly, enthusiastically, earnestly and empowered by God and His Spirit as we follow Jesus! He's coming back soon. Until then we have work to do. Yes day light is burning but He is at work and preparing us for our part in eternity and wanting to use us for such a time as this too. He's a miracle working God and  we can expect many more miracles as we die to self and follow Him. He has plans for us as part of His Good News Delivery Co. We are a team on the move! And remember that we all are a work in process and progress as we allow God to have His way with us and serve as we are. We are His masterpieces with custom made purposes to move towards and God's greater things will come as we do!

Love you all and love serving with you! God is truly blessing us! May we continue to bless Him and others as we allow Him to lead us to his best. Yes, rejoice! I say again, rejoice! Amen and hallelujah! he's calling you by name to come and experience His loving best for you and us! Amen!

ODB:

Expecting Jesus

You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. Matthew 24:44

READ Matthew 24:36-44

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My friend Paul was awaiting the arrival of a technician to repair his refrigerator when he saw a text on his phone from the appliance company. It read: “Jesus is on his way and is expected to arrive at approximately 11:35 a.m.” Paul soon discovered the technician’s name was indeed Jesús (hay-SOOS).

But when can we expect Jesus the Son of God to arrive? When He came as a man two thousand years ago and suffered the penalty of our sin, He said that He’d be back—but only the Father knew the precise “day or hour” of His return (Matthew 24:36). What difference might it make in our day-to-day priorities if we did know the moment our Savior is coming back to earth? (John 14:1-3).

Jesus cautioned us to be ready for His return: “the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matthew 24:44). He reminded us to “keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (v. 42).

On the day of Christ’s return, we won’t get an alert on our phone to give us a heads-up. So, through the power of the Spirit working through us, let’s live each day with a perspective of eternity, serving God and taking advantage of every opportunity to share His message of love and hope with others.

By Cindy Hess Kasper

REFLECT & PRAY

How are you motivated by Jesus’ imminent return? What can you expect when He comes again?

Father, as I patiently wait, please help me to obey You, pursue holiness, and to live in expectation of Christ’s return.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Jesus addressed the topic of His return in Matthew 24, where He makes two points. First, it will be unexpected. It will be “as it was in the days of Noah. . . . They knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (vv. 37, 39). People will be “eating and drinking [and] marrying” (v. 38) and engaged in the mundane activities of life—working in a field or grinding at a mill (vv. 40-41). Second, because Jesus’ return will be unexpected, we’re to “keep watch” (v. 42). This isn’t a watchfulness that expects something to happen in the immediate future; rather, it’s being prepared for whatever may come. It’s the same watchfulness—being awake and alert—that Jesus asked of His disciples in the garden of Gethsemane: “Keep watch with me” (26:38, 40; see 43-46).

J.R. Hudberg

TWFYT:

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UR: Spiritual Awakening

Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? - Luke 15:4 (NRSVUE)

I’ve always felt closest to God when I’m enjoying nature. I often hike along the Appalachian Trail, a 2,180-mile trail that runs through the Appalachian Mountains in the eastern United States. Markings along the trail, known as “white blazes,” are white rectangles painted on the trees to let you know you’re going in the right direction.

I have often wished for such clear markers in other parts of my life. I had many missteps as a young man that led me away from Jesus. I struggled with substance abuse and ended up lost, without any recollection of how I got there. For a time, I was stuck in a repetitive cycle of misery and addiction. Filled with guilt and shame, I carried this burden alone.

But at the age of 33, I had a powerful spiritual awakening and rededicated my life to Jesus Christ. At a time when I desperately needed to hear God’s voice, God called to me, and by God’s grace I was able to get my life back on track.

I know what it is to be lost and without hope. I understand feeling unworthy of God’s love because of past mistakes. Now I want to reach out to others like me with that same forgiving grace.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Dear heavenly Father, guide our way, and may all we do be to your glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.CS:

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Posted by: AT 02:23 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, June 14 2024

Update: We received another $950. Towards the AC. That leaves a balance of $2150. WOW! God is providing where He is guiding! Thank you for sowing into His plans!  If you would like to donate for this either mark a note on your offering envelope with your gift amount besides your normal tithe or place in a separate envelope.

Now keep praying for discernment of the plans God has for us as we restart ministry after the AC is installed. Lead us Lord with dreams and visions of Your plans! Thank You for Your guidance and provision! Raise up some small group gatherings too. Amen

Note: probably no blog tomorrow as I have a huddle at 6, doc appt at 8, and pick up donuts for donut day at 9 and then get everything ready for 10 bread Min.

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Good Morning Praying, Encouraging, Sowing, Co-Laboring Teammates!

I am just really excited about how God is moving, guiding, providing and using us! GO TEAM!  Yay God! We know that anything of value in the Kingdom is birthed through prayer and comes to life as we step out in faith and follow Jesus. We are seeing the fruit of that today. PTL! I firmly believe that we are on our way to become a dynamic movement of God! Check out the Upper Room teaching about praying in faith. We often can become discouraged and Satan loves to get us grumbling and off track. Pray to catch yourself quickly when that happens, get out those gratitude lists and redirect yourself with praise. Pray for productive mustard seed sized and growing faith. We all also need to keep sharing the stories and praises of what God is doing! Often we need to hear these to be reminded that God is actively working among us, answering prayers and bringing His will to life through us! God is on the move and using us! PTL! And we are better together! We have so much to be thankful for and many praises to lift and stories to share! Charles Stanley reminds us to keep voicing our gratitude. Check His teaching below and lift some praise with all your heart. God is good, all we need, enough, our provider, shepherd, helper and friend! PTL!

Our devotionals shift gears yet ties to this as our lives reflect what we believe. Check out Our Daily Bread. They remind us that it does matter who we serve--self or God. They ask "What does your life say about who you're serving?" If we really evaluate ourselves as we should, we will often find ourselves living for self. The world is always cramming that down our throat too. Be true to yourself and all that matters is your happiness. They are very good at twisting God's ways. Last year we spent our time working on becoming who God created us to be and dying to self and following Jesus as we serve and live for Him. What will be your legacy? Many of those who ignore God and live for self have great regret on their death bed as they realize the folly of their choices and wasted lives. Who is the master of your life? Jesus or you or some worldly leader? Paul said for me to live is Christ! In this life, Christ is all that matters (Col. 3:11) Keep praying and choosing to deny self, take up cross daily and follow Jesus. That is where true joy and satisfaction is found! And you will be building treasure in heaven for when your life continues on glorifying God.

Then The Word for You Today reminds us to say no sometimes. Yes we are to live for Christ and work on growing into His image and doing more of what He created us to do. However, we are not to be burned out doing that. His yoke is easy and He models working from rest. I love how they share what I have been teaching for a few years now. (maybe they are reading my blog! haha) God has an assignment custom made for you and it will never exceed His grace and provision for you at this stage in life. He knows you, loves you and calls you by name. He has great plans for you that should not burn you out if you keep following Him. Sometimes we may need the help of others to point out our over-striving and to shed some of the good and better things we are doing but are not God's best for us. Love God and others and enjoy life in Christ is the easy yoke. Be who God created you to be and do what you are created to do for such a time as this.

Father, thank You for Your amazing love, grace, provision and protection. Thank You for being with us and leading us to Your best and growing us into the servants You created us to be for such a time as this! Your Kingdom come and will be done in, through, around me and in heaven and on earth. Help me to deny self, take up my cross and follow Jesus today and always. May my life be lived earnestly for You and Your glory. Continue Your good work and through us! You are able! You are enough. You are my God! Come! Amen!

UR: Praying in Faith

Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” - Matthew 17:20 (NIV)

Our church holds evening services twice a week on an open field. One Sunday as we were setting up for a service, thick, dark clouds began to gather. My pastor husband said, “Let’s pray for fair weather,” and we began to pray fervently. Soon we heard heavy rain hitting roofs in the distance as the powerful storm approached. Everyone ran for shelter. Miraculously, no rain fell on our meeting grounds despite the heavy downpour around us.

Sometimes we pray but inwardly doubt that God will answer us. We may not always feel like we have the “mountain-moving faith” Jesus talked about, and we’re not alone. When Peter was in prison, “constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.” But when Peter was miraculously released and went to Mary’s house, the people praying there didn’t believe it was Peter knocking on the door.

God understands how quickly we get discouraged when things don’t go as we expect. But that’s one reason God gave us the Holy Spirit — to remind us that even when we are discouraged, God still works for our good.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Heavenly Father, encourage us when we doubt, and give us grace to trust in your promises. Amen.CS:

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ODB:

Shebna’s Grave

Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. Revelation 14:13

READ Isaiah 22:15–24

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Irish poet W. B. Yeats wanted to be buried “Under Ben Bulben,” a stately flat-topped mountain after which he titled one of his last poems. The poem’s final line is etched onto his gravestone: “Cast a cold eye / On life, on death. / Horseman, pass by!”

Much speculation has taken place over what this means. Perhaps it’s the poet’s acknowledgment of the reality of both life and death. Regardless, Yeats got his wish about where he was buried and what his gravestone would say. But the cold truth is that life goes on without us, indifferent to our departure.

During a dire time in Judah’s history, Shebna, a “palace administrator,” made a tomb for himself to ensure his legacy after death. But God, through His prophet Isaiah, told him, “Who gave you permission to cut out a grave for yourself here, hewing your grave on the height and chiseling your resting place in the rock?” (Isaiah 22:16). The prophet told him, “[God] will roll you up tightly like a ball and throw you into a large country. There you will die” (v. 18).

Shebna had missed the point. What matters isn’t where we’re buried; what matters is who we serve. Those who serve Jesus have this immeasurable comfort: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord” (Revelation 14:13). We serve a God who’s never indifferent to our “departure.” He anticipates our arrival and welcomes us home!

By Tim Gustafson

REFLECT & PRAY

What does your life say about who you're serving? How do you want to be remembered?

Father in heaven, please help me live my life anticipating the time I’ll be with You in eternity.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Isaiah 22 contains a warning against Shebna, the palace administrator, because he believed he was self-sufficient (vv. 17-19). God said He’d replace him with someone who would rely on Him instead: “I will depose you from your office, and you will be ousted from your position. . . . I will summon my servant, Eliakim . . . . I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him” (vv. 19-21). When we meet these two individuals again, Eliakim is identified as the palace administrator and Shebna is called the secretary (36:3, 22; 37:2).

J.R. Hudberg

TWFYT:

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Posted by: AT 02:23 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, June 14 2024
***Reminder!!! Worship and Picnic 10:30 at Emmaus Community Park and on Zoom (Lord willing)*** Bring your favorite table cloth
Good Morning Fruitful Cheerful Givers, Faithful Followers of Jesus! AMEN! May that be so for me and us Lord! I usually find it interesting how God works and have to smile. We've been discussing giving and funding in our past few blogs. (Remember if you'd like to help fund our AC installation, please make your separate gift above and beyond your tithe and normal giving). So we open Our Daily Bread to find God leading us to Paul's teaching on giving from 2 Corinthians 9:6-11. God is always speaking and responding to our prayers! Thanks Lord! So what's He saying to you? ODB is below but I feel like God wants us to meditate on this passage today and hear His still small voice on giving. So here it is...2 Corinthians 9:6-11 Father, open our ears, minds and hearts to hear You and apply what You are teaching us well. Thanks! Come Holy Spirit! Speak! Your servant is listening.

Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”[a] And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say,

“They share freely and give generously to the poor.
    Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”

10 For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.

11 Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.
We are a fellowship of givers and we seek to bless those in need well. God is responding with many blessings and not only financial ones. The truths found in this passage are coming to life through you and us! Thank you for being such a blessing to God, each other and those in need! Keep up the good work and keep seeking God for how He desires you to give of your time, talent and treasure and keep doing so with a cheerful heart! God's custom plans for us include giving and honestly out of deep gratitude we want to give back from His many blessings and continue to join Him as part of His provision. Jesus gave His all as an example for us.
God continues to bless us and lead us to the new things He has and will prepare for us. PTL! As we follow His provision and peace and sow lavishly into what He is doing, He continues to move us forward to His greater things and our created potentials. PTL! What new thing is He leading you to? Where are you sensing He wants you to use your many blessings to sow into His plans, provision and new things. He has great plans for you and us that are coming alive as we seek, process, plan, sow and follow well. Much good and lasting fruit is budding! Rejoice! Check out the Upper Room and their reminder that it's time to bloom. Whatever season we are in or stage of life, God has a perfect plan, is with you and is wanting you to join Him. Let us continue to trust, follow and seek to produce good fruit for His glory. He is worthy! Amen! Let us continue to sow lavishly and sacrificially like Jesus and find ways to spur each other onto the good works God has planned for us! We are gifted and empowered and very blessed to do so! PTL!
See you soon worshippers, picnickers, fruitful followers, good fruit producers!
ODB:

Big-Hearted Giving

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give. 2 Corinthians 9:7

READ 2 Corinthians 9:6-11

At the after-school Bible club where my wife Sue serves once a week, the kids were asked to donate money to help children in the war-torn country of Ukraine. About a week after Sue told our eleven-year-old granddaughter Maggie about the project, we got an envelope in the mail from her. It contained $3.45, along with a note: “This is all I have for the kids in Ukraine. I’ll send more later.”

Sue hadn’t suggested to Maggie that she should help, but perhaps the Spirit prompted her. And Maggie, who loves Jesus and seeks to live for Him, responded.

We can learn a lot as we think of this small gift from a big heart. It mirrors some instructions about giving provided by Paul in 2 Corinthians 9. First, the apostle suggested that we should sow “generously” (v. 6). A gift of “all I have” is certainly a generous one. Paul also wrote that our gifts should be given cheerfully as God leads and as we’re able, not because we’re “under compulsion” (v. 7). And he mentioned the value of “gifts to the poor” (v. 9) by quoting Psalm 112:9.

When an opportunity to give presents itself, let’s ask how God wants us to respond. When we’re generous and cheerful in directing our gifts to those in need as He leads us, we give in a way that “will result in thanksgiving to God” (2 Corinthians 9:11). That’s big-hearted giving.

By Dave Branon

REFLECT & PRAY

What motivates you to generously give to others? How do you strive to meet their true needs?

Dear God, please guide me to be the kind of generous giver that You want me to be—reflecting Your generous heart.  

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

The context for Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 9 is fascinating. More than a year earlier, the apostle had begun the process of taking up a collection to support the struggling church in Jerusalem. The Corinthians at the time had been exceptionally eager (8:10), and Paul had leveraged that enthusiasm to encourage the Macedonian churches to also give eagerly and generously (9:1-2).

But despite their enthusiasm, the people had lagged in their preparation for the gift, and the apostle was increasingly concerned that they wouldn’t follow through on their commitment. As a result, he encouraged them with the promise of Psalm 112:9 that God is more than capable of increasing their resources and enabling generous giving (2 Corinthians 9:8-11). For Paul, it was important that believers in Jesus carry out their promises with the same enthusiasm they started with. And they could trust that God would equip them to do so.

Jed Ostoich
UR: Time to Bloom

Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. - Isaiah 43:19 (KJV)

The Christmas cactus that sits in my kitchen window hasn’t bloomed well for the last several years. Whenever I looked at it I would think that I needed to transplant it into a larger pot so it might bloom. One day I noticed the ends of the long, green leaves had turned brown, and I was afraid it was starting to die. But my heart leaped a few days later when I saw that the ends of stems had split open, allowing buds to form and burst forth in glorious blossoms.

In the season of my life when I was busy raising my daughter and volunteering at a nonprofit, I felt fulfilled. As I’ve aged, I sometimes become discouraged when I think about the activities I’m no longer involved with. For a season, I felt discontented and as cramped as my poor little plant. But as I’ve let go of the way life used to be, it’s easier to embrace new opportunities that come my way.

My little plant is a symbol of life to me. If we feel hemmed in, it can be discouraging. Yet when we wait, we can often see how God encourages us by leading us into our next season.

TODAY'S PRAYER
Dear Father, thank you for being with us and giving us purpose in every season of life. Amen.
Posted by: AT 02:22 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, June 14 2024

This Week:

Wed. 10-12, Donut and conversation day at the Bread Ministry. All welcome!

Thurs. 6:30 PM Support Team Zoom 

Sun. Worship 10 AM (Happy Father's Day!)

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Good Morning Followers of the Way! Jesus is not only THE Way, He is the only way. He is the Truth and the Life as well and reminds us that no one can come to the Father except through Him. He is our Savior, Intercessor, Mediator, Lord, Shepherd, Helper and Friend! PTL! And He is so much more too! Is He your Lord and Shepherd? Are His ways, your ways? The early church were called the Followers of the Way before they were called Christ's Ones/Christians. Following Jesus and His ways are still our mission today. He created us for such a time as this. He has custom made plans for each of us and us as His Body to discover and accomplish. One of my prayers is that many people would see us as Followers of the Way and we would be excited to follow His ways. Amen! Ask God what He has for you today. Ask Jesus to intercede for you and relay God's direction through His Spirit. Pray for willing hearts and moving hands and feet that follow His way with joy and thanksgiving. PTL for what He is doing in and through you and us and ask Him to continue to be your and our Lord and Shepherd as he continues His good works through you and us. Thanks Lord! Amen!

One of God's plans for us is to continue to work at becoming like the Acts 2:42 church. Studying His Word together, praying together, fellowshipping together, eating and communing together. And as we do He will continue to add to our numbers as we reach out in love, bless outsiders and invite them in. Yesterday we had a great day of worship, fellowship and food around the picnic tables in Community Park. (Thanks to our picnic team for a great day!) As I recalled who gathered with us yesterday, God brought to mind how He has been adding to our numbers those who are being saved and drawn to His ways through us. Maybe half or more of the adults and children that were there are new comers to our fellowship and some are still dipping their toes in the water to see if God is leading them to Him through us. Pray for God to continue connecting us to outsiders He is drawing--His harvest. Thank Him for our harvest workers, even the new ones He has grafted into our vine. Thank Him for leading us to His new things and for providing for us. Ask Him to continue His good work in and through you and that many would see you as a Follower of the Way and be drawn to Him. And just thank God for the new life He is breathing into our fellowship! He does have great plans that are coming to life as we learn to deny self, take up cross daily and follow Him! I am so blessed to be serving with you and following God together! Thanks for being part of His Body and Good News Delivery Co. and allowing Him to use you as He created you to be used. What a joy to be part of this group of Followers of the Way! I can't wait to see where He leads us and meet those He is sending!

Man! God sure has been speaking to me the past 2 and a half hours through time in our devotionals and prayer. I think He gave me a couple of sermons today and what could be a very long blog. But God! He said let them spend time with me and hear my voice and prepare to follow my Way today. So, I will just attach our devotionals below in the order He ordered them and allow you to spend time with Him in prayer, listening, pondering, journaling, discussing with some friends and preparing to follow the Way today. He has great plans for you and is informing your prayers and speaking to your heart. Be still and know and then get up and follow. Amen! Yesterday we discussed the feeding of the 5000 and Jesus telling the disciples to feed the people. He is not only inviting you to join Him, He has commanded you to go and make disciples as you feed His sheep. You have two choices: saying yes or no. Ask for willing hearts that honor Him and His way, courage and wisdom to follow well and good fruit to come. Ask for some teammates too. And then deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus and His ways. Amen!

TWFYT: Do you believe in the vision God has given you and are you working on doing it? Who is helping you? Are you able to articulate the vision God has goiven you? Try writting it down!

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ODB: Read and meditate on 2 Tim.4:1-8 What's God saying to you? He really spoke to my heart as I meditated on this passage, "But you..." What of these might you need to work on?

Every Moment Counts

Keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist. 2 Timothy 4:5

READ 2 Timothy 4:1-8

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When the Titanic hit an iceberg in April 1912, Pastor John Harper secured a spot for his six-year-old daughter in one of the limited number of lifeboats. He gave his life-vest to a fellow passenger and shared the gospel with anyone who would listen. As the vessel sank and hundreds of people awaited an unlikely rescue, Harper swam from one person to another and said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31 kjv).

During a meeting for survivors of the Titanic in Ontario, Canada, one man referred to himself as “the last convert of John Harper.” Having rejected Harper’s first invitation, the man received Christ when the preacher asked him again. He watched as Harper devoted the last moments of his life to sharing Jesus before succumbing to hypothermia and sinking below the surface of the icy water.

In his charge to Timothy, the apostle Paul encourages a similar urgency and dedication to selfless evangelism. Affirming God’s constant presence and the inevitable return of Jesus, Paul charges Timothy to preach with patience and precision (2 Timothy 4:1-2). The apostle reminds the young preacher to remain focused, though some people will reject Jesus (vv. 3-5).

Our days are limited, so every moment counts. We can be confident that our Father secured our spot in heaven as we proclaim, “Jesus saves!”

By Xochitl Dixon

REFLECT & PRAY

How does knowing your days are limited increase your urgency to share the good news of Jesus’ love? How will you reach out to others today?

Jesus, please give me opportunities to share Your love with others.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Paul’s counsel to Timothy in the final chapter of his second letter is a remarkable essay on finishing strong. It begins with a weighty charge for Timothy to fulfill the ministry that had been entrusted to him (2 Timothy 4:1-2). He continues by warning him of the dangerous—even antibiblical—perspectives of the culture around him, calling him to stand firm in the midst of that culture (vv. 3-5). The aged and no doubt weary apostle then expresses the drive and commitment that pushed him to faithful service since he came to faith in Christ (vv. 6-7). The church planter, missionary, and Scripture writer then closes this section by stating the hope he has of what would happen when his inevitable execution took place and he entered the presence of his Savior (v. 8). What an inspirational essay! May God likewise enable us to be faithful to the end in service for Him.

Bill Crowder

CS: What's hindering you from hearing and following Jesus? Pray the prayer at the end of this earnestly!

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UR: A Grace-Filled Question. God will restore you and send you on a mission that helps you refocus and get back at it. How is He inviting you to step out in faith, change your thinking and follow Him to feed His sheep?

Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” - John 21:17 (NRSVUE)

In the early days of dating my wife, I messed up — badly. I owned up to my mistake, but she was hurt and rightfully so. I remember wanting to skip over the next part, the awkwardness that comes when a relationship is in healing mode. But I pushed through, and our relationship grew as a result.

There are no shortcuts to mending fractured relationships. Maybe that’s why Jesus handles his reunion with Peter by asking him, “Do you love me?” not once, not twice, but three times. Each repetition is a step toward healing, and an opportunity for Peter to be honest. Through that honesty, Peter can move past the pain of betraying his friend and accept the grace of forgiveness that Jesus offers.

No matter how stark our betrayal, no matter how strong our belief that we aren’t worthy of grace, Christ’s love for us is steady and eternal. Jesus is always waiting, ready to respond with grace, ready to empower us to follow wherever he leads.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Dear Jesus, give us the strength to work through the healing process in our relationships, even when we are the ones in need of grace. Amen.

Posted by: AT 02:22 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, June 14 2024
Remember Worship and picnic is at Emmaus Community Park at 10:30 tomorrow! See you there! All is being provided. Bring a friend or two. We hope to be on Zoom as well.
Wed. Donut day at the Bread Ministry. 10-12 All welcome!
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Good Morning Bold and Courageous Followers of Jesus! Is that you? We are commanded to be and promised to be helped to be bold, courageous and followers of Jesus. PTL! However...well, you know, sometimes we don't follow very well, do we? I'm prone to assume on God sometimes and forge ahead thinking I know what He wants or that He wants me to follow now only to run into road blocks as I realize I am on my own agenda or timing. Sometimes I think I am not hearing God clearly and I sit waiting for Him to move or answer prayers for provision and clarity. I even  sometimes get fearful to respond to what I know He is asking of me. And once in awhile I actually hear, process and move well with Him. Do you ever find yourself in any of these circumstances? We are all a work in process and, hopefully, progress. I think almost every time that I am right on track with Him it is because I am processing with Him and others and not leaning on my own understanding. This is why I feel like God is pushing us to start some small groups. Would you participate? Do you have a small group of co-laborers that have permission to speak truth into your life, hold your feet in the fire, wait with you in prayer and go with you? Who are you encouraging and helping? Let us commit to praying into this and starting soon, meeting in homes, dinners or ice cream shops over the next few weeks. I'm thinking of Tue or Wed June 18 or 19  to have an intro meeting. Watch for details. Pray into this.
Sometimes we are asked to step out in faith and put our faith into action. Faith like love is an action word. The what seems impossible to us is always possible for our God. To activate His miraculous, mystifying purposes requires our following with bold faith that says, "I don't see how but You have a plan, Lord. I trust You. I am stepping out in faith." It may take the forgive my unbelief prayer too. Our devotionals today thread through stepping out in bold faith as we cast our anxiety to God, who is able. It can be helpful to remember that perfect love (that's God's love) drives out all fear. Receive His perfect love and remember He dwells in you, goes before you, upholds you in His strong right hand, and has a great custom made plan just for you. Then invite some co-laborers to process, plan and go with you. Keep your eyes on Jesus and wait or move with Him. Process with some friends and make His plans. Then go live, love and change the world like Jesus and with His help! He hears, knows, cares, is our Almighty God and King of the Universe with a perfect plan that involves you. What's He saying to you today? What idols and things of self do you need to toss away. What boldness do you need to put on? What anxiety needs to be given to God? Whose helping you and whom are you helping? Talk to God about these and share what you are hearing/sensing and do something about it.
Jesus has a custom made plan just for you. He's interceding for you. He is with you. And He is able to do way more than we could ever imagine! Invite Him to come cleanse you, prepare you and use you for His glory today! Then go/follow! Amen!
CS:
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UR: Fear Not!

Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught [Peter], saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” - Matthew 14:31 (NRSVUE)

On the Goa beach on the western coast of India we sat in a boat preparing to set off for a dolphin observation tour. The sea was a little bit stormy, and our fellow passengers were anxious and frightened. At that moment, my daughter Sheril told me that she was thinking of Peter, who walked across the water toward Jesus but, becoming frightened, began to sink. When Jesus is with us, we need not be afraid of anything else.

In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve hid from God out of fear. Fear is the first negative emotion mentioned in the Bible. Sin and fear take us far away from God.

No matter how much we may try to eliminate fear, it confronts us again and again. First Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on [God], because he cares for you.” Our Lord never leaves us alone. He remains with us through the whole of our journey. Let us release our fears and worries and trust in God’s presence.

TODAY'S PRAYER
Dear Jesus, thank you for your perfect love that casts out fear. Grant us strength that we may live fearlessly because we are with you. We pray the prayer you taught us, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil” (Luke 11:2-4, KJV). Amen.
TWFYT:
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ODB:

House Gods

Throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord. Joshua 24:23

READ Genesis 35:1-5

The men in the Bible study group were nearly eighty years old, so I was surprised to learn they struggled with lust. A battle that had begun in their youth lingered still. Each day they pledged to follow Jesus in this area and asked forgiveness for the moments they failed.

It may surprise us that godly men still fight against base temptations at a late stage in life, but maybe it shouldn’t. An idol is anything that threatens to take the place of God in our lives, and such things can show up long after we assume they’re gone.

In the Bible, Jacob had been rescued from his uncle Laban and his brother Esau. He was returning to Bethel to worship God and celebrate His many blessings, yet his family still kept foreign gods that Jacob had to bury (Genesis 35:2-4). At the end of the book of Joshua, after Israel had defeated their enemies and settled in Canaan, Joshua still had to urge them to “throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord” (Joshua 24:23). And King David’s wife Michal apparently kept idols, for she put one in his bed to deceive the soldiers who came to kill him (1 Samuel 19:11-16).

Idols are more common than we think, and God is more patient than we deserve. Temptations to turn to them will come, but God’s forgiveness is greater. May we be set apart for Jesus—turning from our sins and finding forgiveness in Him.

By Mike Wittmer

REFLECT & PRAY

What sin are you most tempted by? What steps might you take to destroy this idol?

Father, I confess my sin, and I gratefully receive Your forgiveness through Jesus.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

In the Old Testament, idolatry was rampant in Israel. This was one of the primary things God warned the Israelites about before they were brought to their new homeland, for the surrounding nations were deep into idol worship: “Do not worship any other god, for the Lord , whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. . . . Do not make any idols” (Exodus 34:14, 17; see Leviticus 19:4). Included among those idols were Asherim (also known as Astarte), Baal (a weather god), Dagon (half-fish, half-man), and many more. Years after Israel entered the land of promise, Isaiah offered great insight about idols: “[The carpenter] makes a god, his idol; he bows down to it and worships. He prays to it and says, ‘Save me! You are my god!’ They know nothing, they understand nothing; their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand” (Isaiah 44:17-18). Such strong words show the folly of idol worship.

Bill Crowder
Harvest Blogs:

June 8 - The Heavenly Court

Simon, Simon,” Jesus said to Peter, “Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32).

The stage was set. Jesus was nearing the cross. Lost in the story leading to Calvary lies this valuable prayer lesson. Hidden away in one verse in Luke, Jesus gives us a powerful picture of intercession. Peter, still brave and boasting, was taught a simple truth about the in-workings of the spirit realm.
The picture here is almost of a heavenly court. Satan asked God’s permission to attack Peter; Jesus pleaded Peter’s case before the Father. That’s a portrait of intercession.

Prayer leader Steve Hawthorne tells of a time when he had the opportunity to help a friend in a court case. His friend was a Chinese student studying in America. Though this student could read and write English fairly well, speaking spontaneously was tough for him.

Once, after being taken advantage of by an auto mechanic, the student decided to take the man to small claims court. Because he had trouble speaking, he asked Steve if he would speak for him before the judge. Steve agreed.

The day in court came. Steve got up to speak, but the judge cut him off. “Are you an attorney?” he asked Steve. When Steve revealed that he wasn’t, but was merely speaking on behalf of his Chinese friend, the judge informed him that the man would have to speak for himself. He did—in fluent Mandarin. The judge threw out the case.

Steve related that some time afterward, as he was praying for China, his friend and the court case came to mind. The next thing Steve knew, he envisioned himself and his friend standing in a heavenly court, before God. Steve began passionately pleading his friend’s case—for salvation—before God.
That’s a very real picture of intercession.

Lord Jesus, my Intercessor, thank You for standing before God each and every day on my behalf! When I was lost, because of the prayers of others, You came and found me and saved me. Whenever I fail, Your sacrifice has covered me. Help me to daily follow Your example and stand in the gap for those who have yet to know You.

--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 for the joy and peace he brought to the world through Jesus!
  • Thank him for bringing joy and peace to your own life.
  • Ask God to show you any ways you inhibit the joy or peace of others.
  • Confess those ways, as well as any anxiety.
  • Commit yourself to rejoicing continually, handing anxieties to God, and living in the peace which he then gives (Phil. 4:9).
  • Pray that your local church will be authentically known as a joyful and peaceful people. Ask God to work through world mission efforts to spread true joy and peace to the farthest parts of the earth.
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.

Connection (Devotions for Everyday Life) © 2024 is a free devotional published daily by Harvest Prayer Ministries. Subscribe here.
Posted by: AT 02:20 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, June 14 2024

Brian and Missy Wagner update below

Today at 4:30 meet with HVAC tech to answer any technical questions. We did approve installing AC. Now just to get all the technical questions answered before moving forward.

Sunday Worship and Church picnic at Emmaus Community Park at 10:30 start time

Mom and Terry have been sick but made it back to FL. safely and are healing. Thanks for prayers.

Last evening Family Ministries had their annual end of year feast. We began making summer plans for at least once a month.

Adult Huddle will be brain storming shortly what we are to do for the summer until the Fellowship Hall is air conditioned. Ask God for the plans He has for us moving forward and let's plan some things!

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Good Morning Victorious Overcomers! Is that you? Does your life reflect the gratitude for deliverance from death, Hell, sickness, addiction, grief, or whatever else God has delivered you from? We were one way and now another and the reason is Jesus! PTL! Who needs to hear those stories? How does your delivered, victorious life glorify God? Have you ever prayed any of these? Forgive me! Change me! Deliver me! Mold me! Help me repent! Prepare me! Send me! Heal me! Then what happened? As you reflect back on your life and then your life in Christ what has changed? What are you thankful about? How is God being glorified? Sometimes we have to choose to live victoriously as an overcomer and take some steps of faith before we see deliverance, provision, and God at work. And then sometimes we don't even realize how far we've come until we look back. Fact is, God is always with us, always hears us, and is always working things together for the good of those who believe. AMEN! By God's love and grace we are victorious overcomers! PTL!

I felt like God just wanted to remind us of these truths today. we are and can be victorious overcomers and know God's peace. Amen! Today's devotionals are kinda all over the place, yet there is a thread. Check them out below. What's God saying to you and leading you to do about it today? Living in victory, being thankful, being anchored in God and filled with His Word and being a blessing to others is part of our life in Christ. May He continue to mold, shape, lead and use us for His glory! Amen! Let us always celebrate all God has, is and will do and keep sharing those stories with others! Allow Jesus to be the Lord of and speak calm to your storms. He is our deliverer! Amen!

CS:

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ODB:

Give Thanks to God

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Luke 24:30

READ Luke 24:28–35

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My friend hurried from her stressful job at the hospital, wondering what she would prepare for dinner before her husband returned from his equally demanding job. She had made chicken on Sunday and served leftovers on Monday. Then, they had yet another round of chicken—this time baked—on Tuesday. She found two pieces of fish in the freezer, but she knew the fillets weren’t her husband’s favorite. Not finding anything else she could prepare in just a few minutes, she decided the fish would have to do.

As she placed the dish on the table, she said somewhat apologetically to her husband who had just arrived home: “I know this isn’t your favorite.” Her husband looked up and said, “Honey, I’m just happy we have food on the table.”

His attitude reminds me of the importance of being grateful and thankful for our daily provisions from God—whatever they are. Giving thanks for our daily bread, or meals, models Jesus’ example. When He ate with two disciples after His resurrection, Christ “took bread, gave thanks, [and] broke it” (Luke 24:30). He thanked His Father as He had earlier when He’d fed the five thousand with five “loaves and two small fish” (John 6:9). When we give thanks for our daily meals and for other provisions, our gratitude reflects Jesus’ ways and honors our heavenly Father. Let’s give thanks to God today.

By Katara Patton

REFLECT & PRAY

How often do you show your thanks to Jesus? How does it honor Him to do so?

God of all, thank You for my daily bread and all the other needs You meet for me.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Luke 24:31 says, “Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him.” Why didn’t these believers in Jesus know who He was when He first joined them on their journey (vv. 15-16)? The situation calls to mind Mary Magdalene’s visit to the empty tomb earlier that same day (John 20:15). Similarly, when the disciples went fishing all night, they didn’t initially recognize Christ (21:1-4). In those two cases, we might readily explain their inability. Mary’s vision may have been clouded by tears, and the distance and early-morning light might have kept the disciples from recognizing Jesus at Galilee. But on the road to Emmaus, those explanations aren’t plausible. The key may be in Luke 24:16, which says, “They were kept from recognizing him.” Jesus may have purposely prevented them from recognizing Him so that the process of instructing them (vv. 17-27) would yield a more powerful effect.

Tim Gustafson

UR: My Anchor

Father of orphans and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. - Psalm 68:5 (NRSVUE)

After the death of my husband, I struggled to adjust to my new title of “widow.” Who am I? Where will I go from here? How long will my grief last? Though my grief still comes on unexpectedly sometimes, I’ve found that Jesus is helping me through these dark times as I cling to God’s word every day.

Daily scripture reading before and after my husband’s illness and passing has been my anchor; Jesus has not let me down. The morning after my husband died, I tried to keep a semblance of my old routine; so I sat down to read my Bible. I read Psalm 31:24: “Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord.” I knew that God would give me courage for the day. Then two days later, I read Isaiah 26:7: “The way of the righteous is level; you [Lord] clear a path for the righteous” (CEB). This promise was just what I needed.

I didn’t know the road ahead of me, but God did. I pray that others who are experiencing grief will turn toward Jesus, our Comforter and Shepherd in every season of life.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Dear God, thank you for comforting us when we grieve. Help us to seek you through scripture and prayer each day. Amen.TWFYT:

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Harvest Blogs:

June 6 - Let Jesus Speak to Your Storm

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:35-41)

I certainly understand the fear of the disciples. At the heart of it is the fear of dying. These were experienced fishermen who knew they were in danger of losing their lives in this storm. That caused them to wake Jesus and ask the man they knew cared more than anyone they’d ever met, if he cared whether they were perishing. Fear often pushes us into irrational words and actions.
What storm are you facing today? Is it a serious illness for you or someone you love? Are you facing serious debt or financial crisis? Maybe the storm has to do with your children or grandchildren and issues that seem to have no easy answers. The list could go on, couldn’t it? Unfortunately, like the disciples on the Sea of Galilee, these storms often cause us to react in ways that don’t solve the problem, but often make it even worse. What we really want is for Jesus to speak to the storm and calm it.

The trouble is, that doesn’t always remove the fear. At least it didn’t for the disciples. That’s why Jesus asked the second question: Have you still no faith? They had, with their own eyes, watched Jesus stop the wind and calm the waves. It was an astonishing miracle. But still they had fear. I think that we need to pay close attention to this incident, but often, we have so allowed fear to take root in our lives, that even a miracle from the Lord will not cause the fear to subside. It’s at times like this we must allow God to remind us that He is Lord over the wind and the waves.

God of the wind and the waves, You are able to calm any storm that might come into my life. You are able to keep me from falling, to bring peace to my heart, and to still my fear. And yet, still I doubt You. Forgive me for my unbelief. Stir up great faith in my heart to believe that You are all that You say You are! You are the Great I Am! You are the Almighty! You are the Creator of the Universe who is able to overcome all things that stir up anxiety, doubt, fear, uncertainty or anything else that might creep into my heart. Please Lord Jesus, help me to daily embrace Your shalom, Your peace.

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

Prayer Points

  • Praise your faithful God! Give thanks for God’s faithfulness to you even when you are unfaithful to him (2 Tim. 2:11-13).
  • Spend a few minutes asking God to help you think through your life and confessing any unfaithfulness he brings to your attention.
  • Commit yourself as God’s image-bearer to reflecting his faithfulness in your own.
  • Pray that Christians will be faithful to use individual and corporate outreach opportunities. Ask for the vision to see opportunities and the loving determination to follow through.
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.

Wagner's:

Greetings Friends,

As a follow-up to our last email…our ministry update, here is a quick personal update. Here’s what you will find in this message:

  • Home assignment – Rest, Reconnect and Recharge
  • One more R - Regroup
  • The heart of the matter – health update
Home Assignment
You may remember from our January update that we shared three key objectives during home assignment – Rest, Reconnect and Recharge. We have traveled a LOT! That has given us lots of opportunities to reconnect…with our big kids & grandson, supporters, friends, extended family and RVA alumni. We have also had several great chances to recharge, renewing our call for ministry at RVA and with AIM. As our date to return to Kenya is rapidly approaching, we are planning to take time to rest…to take a vacation in July so we can return to RVA with energy and excitement. PRAY that will be able to fully disconnect and rest.
One more “R” – Regroup
It seems that every home assignment we have a large task that really needs to be addressed and can only be done so while in the States...something that had to sit for several years and now we must plow through over the course of several months. This time that task has been cleaning through things stored here in the States…specifically, things that have come our way while we were overseas. This is mostly sorting through Missy’s parents’ belongings that we received when they downsized from their house to an apartment and then to a memory care room. While it has been a time-consuming process, it has led to many great conversations and opportunities to bless others. We just have a few more things to sort out…an old cedar chest from the early 1950s and quite a few homemade textiles (quilts, small blankets, embroidery and more). If you have any expertise or interest in these things, we would love to know. PRAY for the time needed to finish a few major projects.
The Heart of the Matter
Please continue to PRAY for full healing for Brian after his heart procedure. As we previously shared, the repair went well. We can also confirm that the primary concern was fully alleviated by the procedure. There is still a secondary concern (that started the whole search for the source of heart issues) that will hopefully be addressed as the heart resets and adjusts to its new structure. PRAY for one final follow-up appointment early July and a clear way forward for continued care and follow-up once we return to Kenya. 
What’s Next – Discipleship

In our next update, we will tell some of what we have been sharing with churches about the importance of discipleship along with some specific resources that may help you and your church grow vision for missions.
Thank you so much for your prayers! You are appreciated.
 
In His Service,
 
Brian & Missy
Posted by: AT 02:19 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, June 14 2024

Yes, Thank God I'm Forgiven! Isn't that really all that matters and the guarantee of eternal life with God that comes with that? Yes, PTL! What about your salvation story are you thankful about? Shout to the Lord! Glorify His amazing grace to others. He created you to be part of sharing His Good News. And gives you opportunities all the time to be part of His Good News Delivery Co. What's your part? We respond out of deep gratitude as an act of thanksgiving and worship and allow God to use us, mold us, prepare us and send us. Amen! There are all kinds of aspects of this to build your gratitude list with. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Hallelujah!

Good Morning Powerful, Disciplined Servants, and Joyful Givers! Pronounce, believe and live these. Maybe there is one here to work on in our Become More in '24 Challenge? We are weak, but God is strong. He is all-powerful and His power is accessible to us and mystifies the world as it comes alive through us weaklings by their standards. God is always wanting to use us unexpected, marginalized, non-conformists for His glory. Do you have any stories to share about how He's used you? Share it with us! We need to stop looking with physical eyes and use our spiritual eyes more often too. I pray for that all the time and to see with God's eyes and respond with His heart and mind. Practice and disciple are required to become accustomed to and good at bringing His power, His will, His plans to life. It helps to have some to help us with this as well. Who are your partners? I am committed to helping us form some small groups of 3-5 people and even maybe a few larger ones of 8-12. Pray about this and let us plan to gather in the next few weeks to talk about it, pray and plan. Watch for a meeting opportunity coming your way. Check out TWFYT and UR about these things below and walk in power as a disciplined disciple of Jesus.

I don't talk about giving much. You guys are givers. I think cheerful givers too just like we are called to be. But it is biblical to remind about giving, tithing and such from time to time. With the approval to install AC in the Fellowship Hall comes the call to give to cover the difference from donations. We need to raise around $3100 yet. That is to be giving above and beyond your normal tithe and offerings, just like when you give to Everlasting Life, a missionary, etc. But giving can also be time, talent, and of ourselves too. We are blessed to be a blessing. Then we get blessed back for being one. It's so cool how things work in God's economy! And the cool thing is that we can never out give God plus all we have is a gift from Him. PTL! Check out ODB below about the Joy in Giving. We show our gratitude and worship when we give. The standard is a tithe (1/10th) as the starting point and then even above and beyond as you are able. God tells us to test Him in this and watch the blessings (not necessarily money) come back overflowing. Determine to be a joyful giver and ask God how He wants you to give. He may stretch you but He promises to provide and He does--even overflowing! PTL! I also believe the church should tithe on its income. Our church has begun stepping into that the past few years and we are reaping abundant blessings for it. I would love to see us start tithing on our yearly income as an act of faith and worship. All we have is a gift from God. God does and will bless that trusting giving with overflowing blessings too. Pray for us as a people and church to be joyful givers as we seek God for what He wants us to sow into. He's affirmed through major donations to trust Him with installing air conditioning which will allow more ministry and opportunities in our building year round. He's stretching our finance and support team and you to see how we will respond in faith. Are we trusting God to provide and sustain and are we willing to be joyful givers and sowers?

Karen sent me a Joyce Meyers blog that I think will be a great wrap up and prayer for today. Check it out below and pronounce it over you and us and release it in powerful prayer today! God has custom made great plans for you and us! Let's roll! Day light's burning!

TWFYT:

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UR: Something for Everyone

While physical training has some value, training in holy living is useful for everything. It has promise for this life now and the life to come. - 1 Timothy 4:8 (CEB)

I enjoy watching the birds outside my home-office window. From this vantage point, I have learned about the feeding styles and food preferences of various birds. Slate-colored juncos hop backward on the garden floor to reveal food. Mourning doves poke around on the ground to find millet seeds that have fallen from the feeders. Downy woodpeckers take a seed from the feeder and hammer it against a tree branch to crack it open. Goldfinches can’t get enough thistle seeds. Nuthatches peck away at suet. Black-capped chickadees like everything!

Watching the birds reminds me of the many spiritual disciplines we use to stay close to God and grow in faith. Fasting, prayer, daily Bible reading, meditation, walking a labyrinth, worship, and Bible study are some ways we can feed our faith. Personally, I keep a prayer journal and use The Upper Room as part of my daily spiritual practice.

Anytime is a perfect time to try a new spiritual practice. Whether it’s walking a labyrinth for the first time or joining a Bible study, whatever we learn from these new practices will stay with us and serve us in the future.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Gracious God, thank you for the many ways we can learn about you and grow in our faith. Bless us and keep us close to you. Amen.

ODB:

Joy in Giving

It is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 20:35

READ Acts 20:17-24, 34-35

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

When Keri’s young son was going through yet another surgery related to muscular dystrophy, she wanted to take her mind off her family’s situation by doing something for someone else. So she rounded up her son’s outgrown but gently used shoes and donated them to a ministry. Her giving prompted friends and family members and even neighbors to join in, and soon more than two hundred pairs of shoes were donated!

Although the shoe drive was meant to bless others, Keri feels her family was blessed more. “The whole experience really lifted our spirits and helped us to focus outward.”

Paul understood how important it was for followers of Jesus to give generously. On his way to Jerusalem, the apostle Paul stopped in Ephesus. He knew it would likely be his last visit with the people of the church he’d founded there. In his farewell address to the church elders, he reminded them how he’d worked diligently in service to God (Acts 20:17-20) and encouraged them to do the same. Then he concluded with Jesus’ words: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (v. 35).

Jesus wants us to freely and humbly give of ourselves (Luke 6:38). When we trust Him to guide us, He’ll provide opportunities for us to do so. Like Keri’s family, we may be surprised by the joy we experience as a result.

By Alyson Kieda

REFLECT & PRAY

In what way might God be calling you to give of yourself to another? When have you been the beneficiary of someone’s generosity?

Dear Father, please help me to freely give of my time and resources to others.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Joyful giving for believers in Jesus should be wholehearted and wholistic. Paul’s ministry in Ephesus demonstrates this. His ministry included passionate, bold preaching and teaching that touched the souls of his hearers: “You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house” (Acts 20:20). Paul’s ministry didn’t stop with speaking, however. He also labored physically for himself and others (v. 34). Through such self-giving, Paul mimicked the model of Christ who taught that, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (v. 35).

Arthur Jackson

Joyce Meyers:

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Posted by: AT 02:19 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, June 14 2024

Reminder: Meeting with HVAC guy to discuss question on units and installation, tomorrow, Thurs at 430 in Fellowship hall. All with questions and concerns invited

Good Morning Set Apart, Stretched, Growing in Trust Sowers! I was going to greet you as Gumby's and Pokey's. Remember those childhood toys. Like us, created with purpose and to be stretched. Think about staying true to your true identity and purpose while being stretched and contorted and bouncing back. Do we continue to trust God as He has His way with us, His creation, His masterpiece being formed into His image and stretched to achieve our created purposes. We are God's and created for His purposes. God seems to be speaking to us through the same Scripture today from Jeremiah in ODB and Harvest blogs even though they have two takes on the Scripture passage. Why would that be? Because the Holy Spirit is highlighting different things as we spend time in His Word. What's He saying to you? God created us to do great things for His glory. We need to remember that happens when we have faith, even the size of a mustard seed, and keep trusting Him as we allow Him to lead and do things His way and in His tinning. That can feel like we are Gumby or Pokey--BUT GOD! TWFYT reminds us to pursue godliness as we receive forgiveness and forgive as we have been forgiven. Love God and others like Jesus and follow Him. He does have great, attainable, plans for you. Custom made for custom made you plans and purposes. PTL! Pursue Him, His righteousness and ways. Amen!

UR: The God Who Stretches

Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. - Isaiah 54:2 (NIV)

After an important event, people in the Bible often called the Lord or locations by a new name. That name usually reminded them of a time when they felt God’s presence, protection, or deliverance. Some examples are: The Lord will provide; The Lord who heals; The Lord is my banner.

When I moved to Japan, I came to know God as “the God who stretches.” When I first arrived in Japan, I didn’t speak Japanese, and the culture was decidedly different from my own. I was lonely. But God helped me to stretch beyond my comfort zone to learn and grow.

God wants us to stretch beyond what we know to open our hearts to others. When we think we can’t do anything else, God might say, “Stretch your heart a bit more and talk to that person who looks lonely.” If we are frustrated while working with someone whose personality irritates us, God might tell us, “Stretch yourself and be nice to them.” When we stretch ourselves and open our hearts to others, God can take away our fear and help us to grow. I pray that all believers will come to know the God who stretches.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Dear God, help us to grow, opening our hearts to you and others more each day. Amen.

ODB:

Liked and Loved by God

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart. Jeremiah 1:5

READ Jeremiah 1:1-10

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

It feels like “likes”—you know, that little thumbs-up on Facebook—have always been with us. But it turns out that this virtual symbol of affirmation has only been around since 2009.    

The “like” designer, Justin Rosenstein, said he wanted to help create “a world in which people uplift each other rather than tear each other down.” But Rosenstein came to lament how his invention might have enabled users’ unhealthy addiction to social media.  

I think Rosenstein’s creation speaks to our hardwired need for affirmation and connection. We want to know that others know us, notice us—and, yes, like us. The “like” is fairly new. But our hunger to know and be known is as old as God's creation of man.

Still, the like button doesn’t quite get the job done, does it? Thankfully, we serve a God whose love goes so much deeper than a digital nod. In Jeremiah 1:5, we witness His profoundly purposeful connection with a prophet whom He called to Himself. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.”

God knew the prophet even before conception and designed him for a life of meaning and mission (vv. 8-10). And He invites us too into a purposeful life as we come to know this Father who so intimately knows, loves, and likes us.

By Adam R. Holz

REFLECT & PRAY

How does knowing God intimately affect how you relate to others? How can living with purpose bring peace?

Father, help me to rest in Your love and calling on my life, to know that You care for me intimately as You shape me for each of the days You’ve planned for me.

Discover how to live out your purpose.

Lecture - Our Daily Bread University

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

In Jeremiah 1:4-5, we see God’s call on Jeremiah. His reply, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young” (v. 6) is reminiscent of Moses’ response to God’s call in Exodus 4:10: “I have never been eloquent . . . . I am slow of speech and tongue.” Gideon’s response to the angel is similar: “Pardon me, my lord, . . . but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family” (Judges 6:15). God’s answer to all is the loving reassurance that He’s with us and will give us the words to speak. We need not fear (Jeremiah 1:8-9).

Alyson Kieda

Harvest blogs:

June 5 - Set Apart Before Birth 

Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:4–5) 

God, our infinite Creator, does not react or get surprised. All that he does is done with absolute and perfect purpose. The knitting together of a baby in a mother’s womb follows this same purposeful and wise pattern. No child is a mistake, regardless of the time or circumstances surrounding his or her conception. Humans can have sexual relations, but only God makes babies. Our God is intimately involved in all he creates and sustains all things by his mighty power. Today we continue our prayers for the unborn. Nothing could be more vitally important in this season. Pray. Forgive. Be forgiven. Our God is the giver of life—life forevermore. 

Father, just as you knew Jeremiah before he was formed, you consecrated and appointed him as a prophet to the nations. Forgive me and forgive my nation for the lack of prophetic insight by which we characterize the unborn. Forgive us for the passive ways we defend the most defenseless in our society. Forgive me for not speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 31:8–9). Before I was born you knew me. Before I took a breath, you consecrated and appointed me for good works that you planned before the world was even created (Ephesians 2:10). I intercede today for unborn children whose lives are in the balance. I pray that moms would be dissuaded from abortion today across our community, state, and nation. Empower those who are even now fighting to save unborn children from the throes of death. Rescue, O Father, children yet to be born for which you have destined purposes unknown. We trust you. You do not create anything that is without purpose. Forgive us for our human wisdom that considers some lives, old or young, useless and expendable. Breathe life into our land. Convict humans that each and every life has infinite value and worth. Heal our land of the atrocity of abortion and the tragedy of euthanasia. Restore life as valuable in each and every phase of life. As we honor life, we honor you. We cry out for great mercy on our broken land today. Heal our land.

--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 one whose control covers even the details of your life (Mt. 6:25-34).
  • Thank God for knowing about your daily needs.
  • Confess any worry.
  • Commit to taking hold of areas where you are to be in charge in your life with the clear knowledge of being “second in command” under God.
  • Ask him for the Spirit’s fruit of self-control.
  • Pray that God will work self-control into your private life. Ask him to help you be self-controlled with family members and with private disciplines such as eating habits, TV watching, reading materials, time usage, and exercise patterns.
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.

Connection (Devotions for Everyday Life) © 2024 is a free devotional published daily by Harvest Prayer Ministries. Subscribe here.

TWFYT:

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Posted by: AT 02:17 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, June 14 2024

 Update: As expected the cost for the AC units has gone up about $900. since the bid last Sept. The Support Team will evaluate this and consider how to fund this minor increase. Our extra part after donations will now be $3150. Pray for donors and for great stewardship as we sow into God's provision.

    * anyone with questions or concerns about our plans and the units to be installed, we are meeting at 4:30 Thursday with our HVAC provider in the Fellowship Hall.

A few of our homebound members are longing for rides to and from worship. If that is something God is calling you to do, talk to Sarah or me. Most are within 20 minutes or so from church. They would be blessed even if that is something you can only do once or twice a month. Or maybe we can set up schedules where someone brings and someone takes home. Is God calling you to be a leader or part of a transportation ministry? Pray about it and follow God's lead.

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Good Morning Trusting God's Faithfulness, Servants of the Lord! God just loves to stretch us and grow our faith. He has so much more for us than we can imagine! To get there and grow into His greater things takes growing faith in Him and His faithfulness and goodness. What stories do you have of God stretching you and growing you that has led you to where you are in your faith journey today? What is your "I was one way, but now another because of God" story that someone needs to hear? Talk to God about that and ask Him to send you to that person with boldness, wisdom and His heart and mind.

God loves us beyond measure and continues to hear and answer our prayers to become more like Jesus and grow into the things we are created to do. Just meditate on that today. Then prayerfully encounter the Harvest Prayer blogs below. We were all one way and now another. Are we still allowing God to transform us into His image and to help us step more fully into our new nature? Oh that is my longing and constant prayer. And constant confession as I selfishly or pridefully choose my own way or timing too often. How about you? Father, help me/us to humble ourselves and bow at Your loving, patient, correcting and perfecting feet. Complete your transformation and plans for me and us. Here I am Lord. Here we are. Have at it! Be our Lord and Shepherd today--every day. Help us to continue to seek you more and work on becoming more and doing more for You and Your glory in '24 and beyond. Come! Thank You for leading us from being one way to another to another to another. Please continue Your good work in and through me/us. Thank You! Your Kingdom come and will be done in, through and around me, even today. Amen!

God has really been speaking to me this morning as I asked Him to write this blog and prepare our Sun message. He is always hearing, speaking, present and wanting to guide us to His best. Be still, know, receive with the intent to follow. He IS faithful and will! Amen! Did you notice how Our Daily Bread and Upper Room devotionals (below) are talking about longing, thirsting, hungering after God when we are in those deserts of life that God is allowing us to experience as part of His stretching and correcting? Check out the INSIGHT section of ODB about the sons of Korah who grew out of God's correcting of their families to allowing God to correct and lead them to lead God's people to trust and worship when in those hard places. Meditate on Psalm 42 as you thirst for God and remember the promise of His Living Water that eternally satisfies and is worth pursuing. Keep thirsting after Him in prayer and faith. Keep trusting and worshiping! he is faithful and trustworthy! PTL!

Psalm 42:1-5

Psalm 42

For the choir director: A psalm of the descendants of Korah.

1 As the deer longs for streams of water,
    so I long for you, O God.
2 I thirst for God, the living God.
    When can I go and stand before him?
3 Day and night I have only tears for food,
    while my enemies continually taunt me, saying,
    “Where is this God of yours?”

4 My heart is breaking
    as I remember how it used to be:
I walked among the crowds of worshipers,
    leading a great procession to the house of God,
singing for joy and giving thanks
    amid the sound of a great celebration!

5 Why am I discouraged?
    Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
    I will praise him again—
    my Savior and 6 my God!

Harvest Blogs:

June 4 - Trusting His Faithfulness

Jacob was fearful and had reason to be. He had deceived his brother and run away from his wrath. He now returns after many years and his scouts tell him that Esau is coming with a great army. "Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed” (Genesis 32:7). Jacob's response? He prayed!

Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord, who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your relatives, and I will prosper you,’ I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which You have shown to Your servant; for with my staff only I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two companies.

“Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, that he will come and attack me and the mothers with the children. For You said, ‘I will surely prosper you and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which is too great to be numbered.’” (Genesis 32:9-12)

Dissect the prayer and you will find it incredibly instructive. Jacob reminded God that He had led him to return to his own country. Jacob is on this particular path because of God’s initiation, and Jacob knew that where God initiates He protects and provides.

Jacob humbly admits his unworthiness and cries out for deliverance. He realizes that only God can protect him. He takes his fear right to the throne of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.

But the clincher is found in verse 12 as Jacob reminds God of His promises. “For you said …” Jacob prays. “You made a promise, Lord, and I am trusting in Your faithfulness.” Obviously, Jacob remembered God's Word. He overcomes his fear by rehearsing and resting on the promises of God through prayer.

Lion of Judah, sometimes, like Jacob, my fear overwhelms my faithfulness! I confess that I don’t always trust You as I should and ask that You will replace my uncertainty with certainty in Your promises. I ask that You will continue to protect me and move me forward even in my weakness and unworthiness, for I am made strong and worthy in You. Help me to remember that wherever You initiate something in or around me, You will always protect and provide!

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

Prayer Points

  • Praise God as the one who loves you like no one else can.
  • Thank him for loving you “with an everlasting love,” drawing you to himself “with loving kindness” (Jer. 31:3).
  • Confess times of presuming upon his love.
  • Commit yourself to reflecting God’s love as his image-bearer.
  • Ask him to love others through you, knowing that you can do all things through Christ (Phil. 4:13).
  • Pray that love for God’s ways will prompt you to love mercy (Mic. 6:8) in your societal involvements. Ask God to overcome hatred, violence, and prejudice in your area.
 
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.

Connection (Devotions for Everyday Life) © 2024 is a free devotional published daily by Harvest Prayer Ministries. Subscribe here.

ODB:

Thirsty and Thankful

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. Psalm 42:1

READ Psalm 42:1-5

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

Two friends and I were checking off a bucket list item—hiking the Grand Canyon. We wondered if we had enough water as we started out our hike, and it ran out fast. We were completely out of water with still a ways to go to reach the rim. Panting, mixed with praying, set in. Then we rounded a corner and what we maintain as a miracle happened. We spotted three water bottles tucked in a cleft in the rock with a note: “Knew you’d need this. Enjoy!” We looked at each other in disbelief, whispered a thank-you to God, took a couple of much-needed sips, and then set out on the last stretch. I’ve never been so thirsty—and thankful—in my life.

The psalmist didn’t have a Grand Canyon experience, but it’s clear he knew how a deer acts when thirsty and possibly scared. The deer “pants” (Psalm 42:1), a word that brings to mind thirst and hunger, to the point where if something doesn’t change, you’re afraid you might die. The psalmist equates the deer’s degree of thirst to his desire for God: “so my soul pants for you, my God” (v. 1).

Like much-needed water, God is our ever-present help. We pant for Him because He brings renewed strength and refreshment to our weary lives, equipping us for whatever the day’s journey holds.

By John Blase

REFLECT & PRAY

When have you been intensely thirsty or hungry, and scared? Why should you be longing for God’s presence?

Loving God, thank You for the renewed strength I experience as You fill my life. Forgive me for looking to any other source but You.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Psalm 42 is the first of eleven psalms attributed to the sons of Korah (also Psalms 44-49; 84-85; 87-88). But who were they? The word sons here means descendants—not direct sons—of a man named Korah, who was part of a conspiracy to overthrow Moses’ leadership in the wilderness wanderings of the Exodus. Korah (of the tribe of Levi), Dathan, Abiram, and On—along with 250 respected community leaders—joined together in this conspiracy (Numbers 16:1-3). How ironic that years later, Korah’s descendants would follow the intended path of the Levites (see ch. 18) to be among the worship leaders of the nation. For a voice of dissension to pave the way for voices of worship is a beautifully redemptive story.

Bill Crowder

UR: Provision in the Desert

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. - Psalm 23:4 (NRSVUE)

We were stranded in a small town in the middle of the desert. Our bus had broken down after our second day of travel to Mexico, and we had no idea what to do or where to spend the night. Everyone kept telling me that I shouldn’t worry and that God would provide, but I couldn’t help but feel scared and helpless. But then God did respond in amazing ways.

We befriended an employee at a fast-food restaurant who had recently turned to Christ. He connected us with his congregation, and they decided to allow us to sleep in their church and provided a free breakfast and lunch. One family even let us swim in their pool. We then went on our way, thankful and blessed.

God provided us with people who were willing to sacrifice their time, energy, and money to support us when we could not support ourselves. This story makes me thankful that God is near and hears our prayers. Now, whenever I begin to doubt God, I think about my adventure when God answered our prayers for help in miraculous ways.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Dear God, help us to have faith and confidence in you whenever we are scared and helpless. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Posted by: AT 02:17 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, June 14 2024
Reminder: Sunday is our church worship and picnic at Emmaus Community Park at 10:30. All is being provided. Just join us for worship, fellowship, food and fun! And bring a friend! Thank you to our picnic committee for planning a fun day for us!
Attached below is our simple financial statement for May. Please note that giving is increasing as we add members but we also know that everything costs more this year and there is still a deficit. Thank you for giving and supporting the work of God! May we always give back a tithe of what God has given us, and even sow more lavishly as a thank offering. He promises to bless our faithfulness and provide all we need as we trust and obey!
Four new members were installed yesterday! PTL! That has us at 10 new members so far this year! PTL! Remember when we prayed in early December for God to send at least one new member a month? (That would be 12 new members this year) He is answering and I am believing for at least a total of double that request! Keep praying and reaching out and inviting in! All new members were invited by someone to come and see and check out what God is doing and they have decided to join! PTL! for all He is doing and for the harvest! Continue to pray for harvest workers! (Is that you?)
Yesterday we discussed and voted to add air conditioning to the Fellowship Hall. The vote was 30-3 in favor. We will be addressing a few concerns raised before moving forward. We received another donation towards the AC of $300. yesterday. That means we have donations of $13,300. The estimate in Sept. was $15,500. God is providing! He is showing us His plan and provision and we have chosen to continue to trust Him. May we always seek, discern well, allow everyone a voice, and trust God as we sow into His plans and follow well. 
    Note: I was mistaken about the type of units to be installed. According to our HVAC tech, they will be two mini-split units that combined with our all-floor dehumidifier will provide adequate cooling and humidity removal. Marshall and our HVAC guy did find the proper source of power for these units. Our HVAC guy, Leo, is pricing out the costs of units today and will be getting back to me with current estimate in the next few days. He expects that units could be installed before the end of summer. 
    Our Support team meets next Thursday but could convene earlier, if necessary, to approve moving forward. There was a suggestion that we raise money to offset the difference. We will keep you posted about what the Support Team decides. We do have over $19,500. in the building fund and double what is needed in our Memorial Fund that could be used for this as well. God IS providing and testing our faithfulness and stewardship as we pray to sow lavishly into His plans. Thanks Lord! May we be faithful!! 
    The Support Team approved using the Spring Rally Day envelope offerings toward AC installation at our last meeting if we voted yes to move forward. Remember, this would be giving above your normal tithe and offering. You can also mark your extra giving towards this in your envelopes or just give an extra offering if God is stirring you. 
    Thank you all for seeking, listening, discerning and trusting God with this! I believe God has some great plans for our fellowship hall year round as we continue to connect to, minister to and invite outsiders to God and our fellowship! Keep praying into that! Have you heard God suggest some type of ministry to try this summer? Share that with us as we seek to connect to God's harvest and make His plans to reach out and love like Jesus.
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Good Morning Forgiven, Repentant, Cleansed, Very Loved Children of God! He knows your heart and your child-like faith. He redeems and restores what the enemy has stolen. This is the year of the Lord's favor! Rejoice! Confess, repent, trust and follow our Abba to His loving best. Allow His Spirit to have His way with you as He leads you to God's best. I am so overwhelmed and awed by God's amazing grace, loving and patient forgiveness and His wanting to always help us move towards His best. He knows us and still loves us and calls us by name to come to Him. He's preparing us for that promised day when we will all be in heaven. What a glorious day that will be! Check out the thread through our devotionals below. God really does love you! And He loves you too much to leave you as you are! He is working all things together for God and towards our eternity with Him. Worship! Trust! And choose joy as you follow Him to his best! Amen! May we be producers of good and lasting fruit as we glorify God in all we think, say and do. Or at least realize sooner when we don't, receive His forgiveness and help and repent as we turn around, renew our thinking and follow Jesus better! Amen! Become like children! They are sinners at heart, yet Jesus says let them come to me! He loves you and is calling you by name, little child-like!
Harvest prayer blogs:

June 3 - God has Good Things to Give

When asking for God’s blessing, perhaps start by asking for things that you know are God’s will for you to have. Things like the fruit of the Spirit, Christlikeness. “How much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11). Ask for those good gifts, says Al VanderGriend: “The ‘good things’ Jesus had in mind are the spiritual blessings of grace, wisdom, joy, peace, power, holiness, and so on. These are things in accord with God’s will. We can ask the Father for them with absolute assurance that he will give them to us. It’s what he has promised.”

Are there areas of your life that you know are sin or out of God’s will? Pray for God to move in those areas. Are there weaknesses in your character? Pray for God’s transformation. Do you want your life to amount to something for God? Then, if you are willing to take the exciting ride, ask for God’s blessing. Ask and ask and ask.

You, Lord, are a good Father! I worship You in Your holiness. Your word says I do not have because I do not ask, but I never want to ask You for anything that is not in alignment with what You want to give me. Help me to seek You for those things that You have promised to all of Your children. Lord Jesus, I ask You for the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I ask You to pour out wisdom and to transform me more and more each day into Your image! I want to be holy as You are holy. Keep me focused on what You want to pour into my life. Thank You, Father, for loving me this much and for training me up in holiness and righteousness so that I might bring honor and glory to Your name alone!

--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, who is your rock, your fortress, and your deliverer (2 Sam. 22:2).
  • Thank God for delivering you from your sins and for promising to keep you safe from harm even into old age (Isa. 46:4).
  • Confess times when you’ve played with temptation and not sought God’s way out.
  • Commit yourself to living a holy and godly life.
  • Ask God to deliver you from the evil one day by day (Mt. 6:13).
  • God is a God who rescues and saves (Dan. 6:27). Pray that God will rescue and save persons you know who do not yet believe. Ask that they will find God to be the rock, fortress, and deliverer they’ve been looking for all along.
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.

Connection (Devotions for Everyday Life) © 2024 is a free devotional published daily by Harvest Prayer Ministries. Subscribe here.
CS:
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ODB:

Cleansed by Christ

He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us. 1 John 1:9

READ 1 John 1:5-10

My first short-term missions trip was to the Amazon jungle in Brazil to help build a church by the river. One afternoon, we visited one of the few homes in the area that had a water filter. When our host poured murky well water into the top of the contraption, within minutes all the impurities were removed, and clean, clear drinking water appeared. Right there in the man’s living room, I saw a reflection of what it means to be cleansed by Christ.

When we first come to Jesus with our guilt and shame and ask Him to forgive us and we receive Him as our Savior, He cleanses us from our sins and makes us new. We’re purified just like the murky water was transformed into clean drinking water. What a joy it is to know we are in right standing with God because of Jesus’ sacrifice (2 Corinthians 5:21) and to know God removes our sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).

But the apostle John reminds us that this doesn’t mean we’ll never sin again. When we do sin, we can be assured by the image of a water filter and be comforted by knowing that as “we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Let’s live confidently knowing that we’re continually being cleansed by Christ.

By Nancy Gavilanes

REFLECT & PRAY

Why is it vital to ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins? How does it feel to know you don’t have to be a prisoner of sin?

Dear God, thank You that You’re faithful and just to forgive me if I confess my sins to You.

Learn more about having a personal relationship with God.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Verses 6-10 of 1 John 1 all begin with a conditional statement: “If we . . . .” In verse 6, John uses a phrase unique to him: “[we] do not live out the truth.” It could literally be translated as “we do not do the truth.” This phrase is also found in John 3:21: “Whoever lives by the truth [literally, does the truth] comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” In both instances, “doing the truth” is connected to one’s relationship with God. Since God can’t lie (see 1 Samuel 15:29; Titus 1:2), those who do not “do the truth,” are, by implication, liars and can have no “fellowship with Him” (1 John 1:6). In contrast, if we “do the truth”—“walk in the light”—Jesus’ blood “purifies us from all sin” and “we have fellowship with one another” (v. 7).

J.R. Hudberg
UR: Become Like Children

“Allow the children to come to me,” Jesus said. “Don’t forbid them, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people like these children.” - Matthew 19:14 (CEB)

My daughter works at a nursery school as the specialized nurse for a young boy whose brain has been impaired since birth. He is nourished via a tube in his nose and cannot walk or talk with the other school children. My daughter helps to maintain his medical equipment to ensure his health and comfort.

During afternoons when the weather is good, my daughter takes the boy out to the playground. One time she noticed what appeared to be two children struggling over a toy, but the boy who “won” gave it to the young boy my daughter helps care for. Another time a girl came over with a picture book she liked and appeared to be reading it to him, even though the boy was not able to understand the book. Many of the children came over, saying sweetly, “Let’s play.”

I always remember my daughter’s stories of these children when I think about today’s scripture verse, which tells us we must “become like little children.” They are the ones who set themselves aside, who aren’t concerned about how people see them, and who give to others and offer their assistance without seeking anything in return.

TODAY'S PRAYER
Our Father in heaven, as you have taught us to love one another, help us to be persons who, like humble children, put it into practice. Amen.
TWFYT:
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May Simple Financial Statement:

St Matthew’s Financial Update

 

May

2024

Monthly

Revenue

Monthly

Expenses

YTD

Revenue

YTD

Expenses

General Fund  

$10,595

$11,549

$58,664

$74,556

 

The figures for the “General Fund” include all revenue and all expenses for the month.  This includes all revenue from offerings, rent, and other income.  The expenses reported above are actual expenses for the month.  The totals reported for Missions and the Rebuilding Fund are also included in the “General Fund” figures.

 

Missions

$816

$1,030

$4,901

$5,150

Rebuilding Fund

$170

$0

$940

$0

Posted by: AT 02:16 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, June 02 2024

Good Morning Worshipers! Come! Now is the time to worship and adore! May we honor and hallow God's holy name. May His Kingdom come and will be done for His glory. Amen! Prepare your hearts to worship today!

Come! Now Is the Time to Worship: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0oKf84dtEGs

Check out the Harvest Connection blog below. What or who is on the throne of your heart? Are you acknowledging God in all your ways? Is He invited to be your Lord and Shepherd? All the days of eternity will be spent in fellowship and worship with our Creator. This life is preparation. How's your faith in practice going? How can we help each other? God loves you and is preparing you for eternity. Worship, trust and obey! Keep practicing and preparing your hearts to worship. Come!

The Lord's Prayer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4Kp6S5smnE

Harvest Prayer:

June 2 - Cooperating with God

“For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen” (Matthew 6:13).
 
We have a problem. We’ve had it since the beginning. Every man thinks the world should revolve around him. That our lives are about our kingdom, our power, and our glory. The great agenda of God is to bring us back to His original design. He wants us to genuinely believe and continually acknowledge that the kingdom and the power and the glory belong to Him. This is not selfish of God; it is simply true. And He knows that our lives will be out of sync without this acknowledgement. 
 
In heaven this misunderstanding is eternally corrected. Notice the song of the saints and angels before God who see things perfectly:

Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped. (Revelation 5:11-14)
 
The wise writer of Proverbs gives us instruction in this: “In all your ways acknowledge Him…” (Prov. 3:6). He is to be at the center of our minds and the forefront of our confession. We are to let the world know that life is not just about us. It is about Him. Our days are to be spent in cooperating aggressively with God so His kingdom can come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 
 
Heavenly King, all life is about You and Your amazing kingdom. Guard my heart from pride and my words from reflecting my own purposes and desires rather than Yours. Help me to pursue You with everything in me, confess my sinfulness quickly, and honor You in all things. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven!

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

Prayer Points

  • Praise God for the forgiveness of sins.
  • Give thanks for God’s marvelous promise that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9).
  • Confess your sins to God.
  • Commit yourself to living in the joyous assurance that your sins are, indeed, forgiven (Ps. 103:3).
  • Ask God to help you sincerely forgive others who have wronged you (Mt. 6:12).
  • Ask God to ease the tension of racial conflict in our cities and on some campuses. Pray for repentance and forgiveness to heal neighborhoods and communities. Ask God to protect and empower believers who are working for reconciliation.
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.

Connection (Devotions for Everyday Life) © 2024 is a free devotional published daily by Harvest Prayer Ministries. Subscribe here.
Posted by: AT 09:55 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, June 02 2024

Good Morning Fellow Servants of the Most High God!

It's been a very busy few weeks and I need some time to recover from my working vacation. God has been the Lord of my schedule and has allowed me to almost complete my todo list. Now I can relax and focus on pastoring.

Just wanted to remind you that tomorrow we have worship at 10. There is no children's church. Thanks (Mike, Barb and Karen for serving so well. Enjoy your summer!) There will be a children's sermon during worship and some activities in the upstairs nursery for the kids to do on their own.

Tomorrow we will be updated on the National Conference by our lay delegate, Kathy Canfield. We will install new members. And we will discuss and vote on adding AC to Fellowship Hall. (Remember we had a $10,000 and $3,000. donations toward the estimated $15,500. to install AC). Pray and prepare to discuss and vote. Will be a busy morning!

I love the Our Daily Bread for today! 2 Tim. 1:6-10 is used with the reminder to fan into flame the gifts God has given us. We are all custom made for God's custom purposes. he has given us gifts and His Spirit to complete them. We are called to earnestly following Jesus and fanning into flame these gifts. It only take a spark! God gives us His power to become inferno's for Christ. He gives us love and self-discipline to move from being holey to holy! Amen! And His grace is sufficient! PTL! Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty! And we are putting on Christ's holiness and righteousness for His name's sake. May we earnestly pursue all He has for us and spur each other on to the good works He has planned for us! Amen!

See you all tomorrow! May God guide us and prepare us to be all about Him and His business as we incarnate Jesus and His love and salvation to the world around us! Prepare your hearts to worship, listen and follow Him! Amen! Fan into flame the gifts God has given you!

ODB:

From Holey to Holy

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. 2 Timothy 1:9

READ 2 Timothy 1:6-10

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

As a child, my daughter loved playing with her Swiss cheese at lunch. She’d place the pastel yellow square on her face like a mask, saying, “Look, Mom,” her sparkly green eyes peeking out from two holes in the cheese. As a young mom, that Swiss-cheese mask summed up my feelings about my efforts—genuinely offered, full of love, but so very imperfect. Holey, not holy.

Oh, how we long to live a holy life—a life set apart for God and characterized by being like Jesus. But day after day, holiness seems out of reach. In its place, our “holeyness” remains.

In 2 Timothy 1:6-7, Paul writes to his protégé Timothy, urging him to live up to his holy calling. The apostle then clarified that “[God] has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace” (v. 9). This life is possible not because of our character, but because of God’s grace. Paul continues, “This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time” (v. 9). Can we accept God’s grace and live from the platform of power it provides?

Whether in parenting, marriage, work, or loving our neighbor, God calls us to a holy life—made possible not because of our efforts to be perfect but because of His grace.

By Elisa Morgan

REFLECT & PRAY

How do you view personal holiness? In what ways will you ask God to remind you of His all-surpassing grace that brings about His holiness in your life?

Dear God, please help me to lean into Your grace and not my efforts to live a holy life.

For further study, read Why Would Anyone Want to Be Holy?

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Paul and Timothy had a wonderful relationship as mentor and mentee—one that Paul felt had risen to the level of a father and son (see 2 Timothy 1:2; 2:1). Though there were a number of men and women that Paul discipled and trained for ministry (including Titus, Tychicus, Aristarchus, Aquila and Priscilla, and others), there seems to be a distinctly different relationship with Timothy. In 1 Corinthians 4:17, Paul introduces him to the believers at Corinth this way: “For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord.” This is unusually strong language for Paul and clearly speaks to a depth of relationship. No wonder in some of his final words he appeals to Timothy to join him: “Do your best to come to me quickly” (2 Timothy 4:9).

Bill Crowder
Posted by: AT 09:55 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, June 02 2024

Wed 10-12 Bread Ministry

Sun Worship 10 Am live in person and on Zoom. Children's Church summer break begins. There will be activities for kids in the upstairs nursery (unsupervised)

    * New member installation during service. (If interested talk to Pastor Don r Sarah)

    * Discussion and vote for Fellowship Hall A/C

Sarah update: 

Good evening Church family,

Here is some exciting news......

A Yay God moment - today following our worship service, I had the opportunity to speak with many of you that were in attendance. I was speaking with someone, who wishes to remain anonymous. They believe in what is happening within St Matthew's church families' lives and how God is moving and motivating us to reach out to Live and Love like Jesus to those around us, taking time to listen, and share the love of Jesus. As they shared this with me, they told me that they would like to make a $3000.00 donation towards the installation of the AC in Fellowship Hall.....so we, as a church family may continue to reach OUT and draw those in need IN.

So far to date, St Matthew's has been offered a $10,000 donation and now $3000 towards FH air conditioning installation. This means that the balance left for the installation is approximately $3000.

I would ask you to spend time this week, in conversation with our Lord, regarding this matter. Talk with our Lord, but may I also ask you to take time to Listen to His voice. Ask Him what He wants for St Matthew's.....ask Him to change your heart into seeing and understanding His will and Plan.

May you all enjoy the remainder of your Memorial weekend.

Enjoy.....

Blessings,

Sarah

Thank you God, for sending your Son, for giving of His life, for the greatest sacrifice, that we might be free.

((Pastor Don note) I think God is leading us and answering many prayers! What's He saying to you? Ask Him His plans for us and to raise up harvest workers and leaders as He brings in the harvest! Praise Him for the harvest and our servants! And His provision! Pray we follow His provision and His peace as we learn to go make disciples and live and love more like Jesus. God is on the move! )

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Good Morning Bringers of Peace! AMEN! Fill us with Your peace overflowing that we could bring Your peace, Your shalom, into all situations and to all those around us that need Your peace beyond understanding. Bring your promised comfort, peace and strength to those who are mourning. Bless all those fighting for our freedoms here and around the world with Your peace, wisdom and strength. Bless and provide for their families and may they know your peace. Be with our wounded warriors and vets and provide for their needs. May they know you and Your peace and our love and appreciation. May we never forget the sacrifice of Your Son and those like Him who laid down their lives for our freedoms. Thanks Lord! Amen!

I wasn't going to do a blog today as I enjoy the holiday off--BUT God! What great news we received yesterday as God continues to show us His provision and begins to reveal His plans for us and the use of the building! $13,000 in donations toward the $15,500. needed) PTL! for His provision! Ask Him to guide our voting Sun and to bring His plans alive for the summer and beyond. Check out this prayer and praise song, God is up to something! Pronounce it in prayer as you seek Him for guidance to your part in His Good News Delivery Co. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9VCyWKZLoA

TWFYT speak about the essence of leadership. Man I long to have God lead me as I lead us to His plans and will and to disciple making. I really appreciate their 2nd point about a leader takes others along. That is my passion. We are a team and need to move together to God's best plans and help each other through our struggles, discerning and serving. Who are you partnering with? Ask God who He has for you to lead into their promised land and make plans to do something about it.

Harvest prayer's blog is all about peace and following peace. The world needs to know the peace of Jesus! But so do many of us believers. Man Satan loves to twist us up in anxiety, unrest and weariness. And our own minds often keep us anxious and unpeaceful. breathe out that junk! Turn off the noise as you hand your anxious thoughts to God. Ask for His peace and help to dwell in it. Breathe in His promised peace and then ask how you can help others to know this gift of peace. Shalom=perfect peace. We can know that! Amen! If you are struggling what can you do? Who can you turn to? The Prince of Peace, Jesus! Do what 1Peter 5:6-11 reminds us, "humble yourself." Die to self, sacrifice anxiety and worry on the cross daily and follow the Prince of Peace to His promised rest. Reach out to someone for help too. Then stand firm in faith and help others too. Faith! Stand firm in faith! God is for us and with us! Know shalom!

TWFYT:

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Harvest Blogs:

May 27 - Peace at All Times 

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with all of you. (2 Thessalonians 3:16)

I love the various names given to Jesus in Scripture. The Lord of Peace is one of my favorite names. It speaks to his character as well as his mission. Jesus demonstrated peace consistently in his life. Then on the cross, he accomplished the greatest peace-giving mission on the planet by tearing down the dividing wall both between God and men and that which divides men from each other. His name, Lord of Peace, fits perfectly.

Paul takes this powerful name and makes it into a blessing for us to use, not only by accepting it into our own lives, but by sharing it with others. Before you begin to bless others, the first thing that must happen is accepting the Lord’s peace in a personal and practical way into your own life. What Jesus wants to give us is pervasive peace. Listen to how Paul says it: “give you peace at all times and in every way.” No exceptions to this gift. It’s not a matter of peace when we feel like it or when everything is going fine. It is peace at all times and in every way. That is what each of us may have if we accept the gift of peace from Christ.

Then we notice that the word “may” at the beginning makes this a blessing which we can then pray over others. Whom do you know who needs peace at all times in every way? Just about everyone you know?

We need to have the courage to speak this blessing over others. It is a gift of peace that should not be kept to ourselves. Giving this blessing doesn’t require you bow your head or close your eyes. Memorize it and speak it over those who need it. Perhaps you could simply write out a blessing of peace and send it to them by mail or email.

The key to this peace is found in the last sentence of this verse, “The Lord be with all of you.” It is the Lord’s presence that brings and assures peace. Perhaps one of the most powerful ways you can experience peace is simply to picture the Lord sitting with you. Allow the sense of his presence to change your emotions and feelings. This experience is not strange; you are simply acting on the truth of Scripture. Colossians 1:27 reminds us that Christ in us is the hope of glory. Spend time aware of his presence and watch his peace flow into you.

There are several biblical blessings of peace that my wife and I like to pray, but our favorite is what is often called the Aaronic blessing in Numbers 6:24-26, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

Each day, select someone who you might bless with peace. Whether you see him or her in person and can physically bless him/her, or you have to send the person a text or email, make sure you pass along the peace the Lord has given to you.

Lord Jesus, I thank you that your presence brings peace. You are my Lord of Peace and I gratefully receive your gift of peace at all times and in every way. Show me how to bless others with your peace.

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

Prayer Points

  • Glorify the Son of God as one who is worthy to receive all power, wealth, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and praise (Rev. 5:12).
  • Thank him for having given up all this to die on a cross in your place.
  • Confess any times when you have put your own interests above those of God and others.
  • Commit yourself to being a faithful disciple of Jesus, finding your life by losing it for him and the gospel (Mk. 8:35).
  • Ask Jesus to help you understand what it means to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow him.
  • Pray that family and friends will be kept from a materialistic lifestyle that serves money rather than God (Luke 16:13).
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.

Connection (Devotions for Everyday Life) © 2024 is a free devotional published daily by Harvest Prayer Ministries. Subscribe here.

ODB:

When It’s Time

Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

READ 1 Peter 5:6-11

audio playLISTEN ONLINE

When my friends Al and Kathy Schiffer flew their iconic, World War II–era airplane to airshows, it was the reactions of the elderly war veterans that meant the most to them. They would come by so they could talk about the wars they served in and the airplanes they flew. Most of their battle stories were told with tears in their eyes. Many have said that the best news they received while serving their country were the words, “The war is over, boys. It’s time to go home.”

These words from an earlier generation relate to the war believers in Jesus are engaged in—our good fight of faith against the devil, the enemy of our souls. The apostle Peter warned us: “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” He tempts us in various ways and uses discouragement in suffering and persecution to try to draw us away from our faith in Jesus. Peter challenged his first readers and us today to “be alert and of sober mind” (1 Peter 5:8). We depend on the Holy Spirit so we won’t let the enemy cause us to surrender the fight and bring us down.

We know that one day Jesus will return. When He comes, His words will have an effect similar to that felt by wartime soldiers, bringing tears to our eyes and joy to our hearts: “The war is over, children. It’s time to go Home.”

By Anne Cetas

REFLECT & PRAY

What help do you need from God to resist the devil’s schemes? How could your fellow believers help you?

Almighty God, You’re far greater than anyone or anything that stands against me. Please help me to rely on Your strength and power.

For further study, read Know the Enemy: Revealing Truths about Satan.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

What does the New Testament tell us about our “enemy the devil” (1 Peter 5:8)? First, it gives him a variety of names: “Satan,” which means “accuser” or “adversary” (Revelation 12:9-10); “Beelzebul, the prince of demons” (Matthew 12:24); “the god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4); “the ruler of the kingdom of the air” (Ephesians 2:2); “the evil one” (2 Thessalonians 3:3); “the great dragon” (Revelation 12:9); and the “ancient serpent” (Revelation 20:2; see 2 Corinthians 11:3).

Second, Satan’s mission is “to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). He’s opposed to God and seeks to drive a wedge between humans and God. Thus, he’s an especially dangerous foe to believers in Jesus. He hopes to tear down our confidence and trust in God and deter us from our mission of spreading the gospel. He also controls those opposed to God who resist the gospel.

Alyson Kieda

UR: Stand Firm

If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it will obey you. - Luke 17:6 (NIV)

One day our pastor visited our home to read the Bible, share encouraging words, and pray. When he was about to leave, Lakshmi, our domestic helper who is of a different faith background, ran up to him and asked him to pray for her son who was suffering from shoulder pain. Her love for her son and her desire for his healing prompted her to approach boldly this man whom she perceived as a man of God. Our pastor consoled Lakshmi and prayed in her native language, and she was comforted and encouraged.

This reminded me of the story of the Canaanite woman who approached Jesus, pleading for her daughter who was possessed by a demon. Even though she did not know Jesus personally, her love for her child overcame any hesitation. Jesus applauded the Canaanite woman’s faith and taught us an important lesson: God’s grace and love are immeasurable and unconditional for all.

We can learn much about faith from the resilience of these women. We need not give up in times of suffering and pain. We can trust that God’s salvation is available to us all. And we can put our hope in God, who cares and loves beyond our comprehension.

TODAY'S PRAYER

Merciful God, thank you for protecting and sustaining us. Strengthen our faith so that we may walk obediently with you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Posted by: AT 09:53 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, June 02 2024
Good Morning Gifted, Pruned, Cloaked in the Armor, Bold, Witnesses! AMEN! We all have the God given potential to be all of these and more as we earnestly pursue Christ and His best! Yes and Amen! Please Lord! Which of these may you need to work on? Could that be a word you choose as part of the Become More in '24 Challenge? Are you casting all your anxiety on the Lord, putting on His armor and working on reaching your created potential? Are you a fruit producer? What kind of fruit are you producing? Is there someone or a group of close friends that you have given permission to speak truth into your life and work with to move towards, not only your potential, but the greater things God has for your group? These and many more questions are things I discuss with God about me and our Body. Am I helping everyone to discover and fulfill their created purposes? Am I shedding the ugly, the good and better for God's best and following Him as I lead us to His plans for us? How can I help everyone see the need and want to do the same? This thinking is constantly with me and part of everyday. There is no vacation from it. God is always speaking to my heart and leading me to His plans, even in dreams. Am I doing all God created me to do and doing it earnestly? Am I really living, loving, teaching, leading and making disciples like Jesus? It's a fine line to balance rest and work, vacation, reloading and staying connected, listening and following each day. It's really hard when I can almost taste all the good things God has for us and see our future potential beginning to bud. Waiting on the Lord can be very hard for us pioneers and apostles! But I recharge by being about God's business, God's way and sharing what he is revealing. Even during vacation, he speaks and leads me to write these when I am at home. He's also refreshing me as I clear my Donald's do list and not have to do my church jobs. He wanted to talk to all of us today about His future plans for us and each of you. So, here we go! What's He saying to you?
Part of all of this is realizing how God has been leading us each step of the way and drawing you along to His best plans. Think about the past few years as we followed God into all becoming part of His Good News Delivery Co and stepping into our custom made parts. Then we worked on Become Me in '23 with words we focused on to work on our potential. And He has begun to add to our fellowship as we step into our potential and connect to neighbors. PTL! We are currently in the Become More in '24 Challenge that God has led us to work on being about the more of Him and less of me approach to earnestly growing into the greater things He has for us. He has called us to live and love like Jesus and connect to neighbors and make disciples. That is enacting the Great Commandments and Great Commission as we work at doing it His way and becoming more like Jesus.  How can we help each other with these? God has some amazing things for us to discover and work on as He answers our prayers to grow into a dynamic movement and disciple making hub. Are you getting any clues what He has planned or some things for you to work on and plan to help realize all of this? Please share them with us and let us commit to try some new things. If you haven't read the Bishop's address yet, please do (it was in yesterday's blog) and see how God is leading our denomination and how that is beginning to be contextualized through our Body. Maybe even hear from God some ideas He has for you and us to begin working on. More of Him and less of me! In this life, Christ is all that matters! Turn off the noise in and around you and recharge in Christ as you move towards your potential and help us to reach ours. God is always up to something new to connect to the current generations and He wants to use us as His vessels. Keep focused on Him and determined to follow well. I'm earnestly praying into that, for you and for His Kingdom to come, will be done and our fullest potential to be realized. Pray and plan and plan to go live and love like Jesus with me as we change the world with God's help.
Below are our devotionals for today. Can you see how they thread through all of this? I keep asking God to come speak, lead and write these blogs as He wants to prepare us to follow to His best. I often feel like I keep repeating the same things. BUT GOD! It's He that keeps revealing and leading us to work on these before He leads us to the next things. How are you doing with seeking and following? How can we help each other? Keep praying into that, donning His armor and surrendering to His will! He must have some great things for you and us to still work on with these things or He would have led us to something else. We are His masterpieces, gifted and empowered to go do the things He planned for us from long ago (Eph. 2:10). PTL! We are filled with His Light to go light up the darkness! Pursue Him, follow His peace and come change the world with me! Amen!
 Let us not forget those who gave their all for our freedoms! Let us honor their memories by using our freedoms, while we still have them, to lead the world to Christ starting with our neighbors. Everything changed when Jesus showed up. Is He changing things as He shows up in you, through you? It can! Let us choose to live for Christ today! Amen!
UR: Full Potential

The God of all grace, the one who called you into his eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will himself restore, empower, strengthen, and establish you. - 1 Peter 5:10 (CEB)

Five years ago, I started a business buying run-down houses, repairing them, and reselling or “flipping” them. Many of these homes are in terrible shape — deteriorating and falling apart. Most of them have severe water damage, resulting in harmful black mold growing inside them. The water damage is most often caused by holes in the roof or cracks in the foundation. When choosing a property to flip, however, my business partner and I look past the damage to see the home’s potential.

Similarly, God sees the potential in us. When we are broken down, God builds us back up so we can shine. Just as a strong roof protects a home, God guides and protects us in all the stormy times we may face. Reading and learning from the Bible helps to strengthen our foundation as Christians. As our faith and knowledge grow, we are transformed, allowing us to live up to the full potential God sees in us.

TODAY'S PRAYER
Loving Father, help us remember that no matter how damaged we are, you can restore us. Thank you for guiding and helping us to achieve the full potential you see in us. Amen.
CS:
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TWFYT:
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ODB:

Tell Them What God Did

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors . . . . We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20

READ 2 Corinthians 5:12-21

My college friend Bill Tobias has served as a missionary on a Pacific island for many years. He tells the story about a young man who left his hometown to seek his fortune. But a friend took him to church where he heard the good news Jesus offers, and he trusted Christ as his Savior.

The young man wanted to take the gospel to his people who were “steeped in sorcery,” so he looked for a missionary to reach them. But the missionary told him to simply “go tell them what God did for you” (see Mark 5:19). And that’s what he did. Several people in his hometown received Jesus, but the biggest breakthrough came when the town’s witch doctor realized that Christ was “the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). After he put his faith in Jesus, he told the whole town about Him. Within four years, the witness of one young man had led to the establishment of seven churches in the region.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul sets forth a clear plan for introducing the gospel to those who don’t yet know Christ—and it aligns with what that missionary told the young believer in Jesus. We are to be “Christ’s ambassadors”—His representatives “as though God were making his appeal through us” (5:20). Every believer has a unique story to tell of how Jesus made them “a new creation . . . who reconciled” them to God (vv. 17-18 nasb). Let’s tell others what He’s done for us.

By Dave Branon

REFLECT & PRAY

What does salvation in Jesus mean to you? How can you be better prepared to share your story with others?

Dear God, please help me share my faith story with others.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus is described in Acts 9. One of the ways the apostle talks about his conversion is that he once regarded Christ “from a worldly point of view” (2 Corinthians 5:16). This would include the Messiah offering salvation to the gentiles; coming as a servant, not a king; and dying a criminal’s death at the hand of religious leaders. Viewing Christ from a worldly perspective still happens today when He’s viewed as merely a good man or moral teacher but not as Savior and God Himself.

J.R. Hudberg
Harvest Blogs:

May 25 - The Flag of Christ

When we are confronted by temptations, we have the ability to pray directly against the Enemy’s onslaught. We often call these “Spiritual Warfare” prayers. 
 
Imagine a high cliff. On the top of the cliff is a plateau that represents the ground of our lives. It is subdivided into sections. One plot is our mental life, another our emotional life. One section of that land represents our financial life; another our relationships and on and on. Every area of our life is represented.
 
Before we came to faith in Christ, Satan’s flag was flying over that ground. We don’t like to think about it, but Paul describes our lives B.C. (before Christ) in stark terms.

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. (Ephesians 2:1-3)
 
When we came to Christ, we were transferred from “the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son.” We surrendered our life to Christ and gave Him the title deed. The flag of Christ now flies over the land of our lives and Satan’s ultimate rule is forever broken. We no longer belong to him.
 
But the Enemy does not give up easily. He comes crawling up the side of the cliff, peers over into our life and says, “I want to take back some of this land so this believer will not be a strong witness for Christ. I know I can’t own him anymore, but I’m going to tempt him to give up some ground to me so his life will not be a testimony to Christ.” He begins his subtle deceptions and temptations. He tempts us to look to our possessions to give us life, or to fall into moral sin, or to be proud, or angry, or prayerless. If we are not wise, we take his bait and relinquish areas to his control.
 
Heavenly Father, please help me to remember to put on Your spiritual armor and to clothe myself with Christ Jesus daily. I want to be continually aware of the battle raging around me so that I do not fall prey to Satan’s schemes against me. Help me to stay awake and alert and ready to do battle at a moment’s notice when temptation comes my way. I want the flag of Jesus to fly over every minute of my life!
 
---Adapted from Simply Prayer by Bill Elliff. This book is available at prayershop.org.

Prayer Points

  • Give praise to God as the Comforter, who feels deeply for those who have been mistreated and abandoned (Isa. 49:13).
  • Thank him for calling many believers into compassionate ministries for the sake of those who are suffering.
  • Confess those times when you may have withheld comfort from others who needed it.
  • Commit yourself to receiving God’s encouragement and grace each morning and allowing that to flow through you to others.
  • Ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his love, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:19).
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.

Connection (Devotions for Everyday Life) © 2024 is a free devotional published daily by Harvest Prayer Ministries. Subscribe here.

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St. Matthew's EC Church

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

ABOUT US

We are learning to live and love like Jesus. 

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

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

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