Thank God I'm Forgiven! And Thank God It's Friday! What are you thanking God about? (I'm thanking Him for all of you, your prayers, and our fellowship and friendship!)
Don't forget those gifts for The Kindness Project and non-perishables for our pantry.
We are collecting for Ever Lasting Life Ministries Sunday
Please sign up for our Christmas Eve Brunch and invite someone to join you (bulletin board in rear of sanctuary)
Pray for our Support Team meeting Thurs. as we review and hopefully approve the budget for next year. Pray for wisdom to follow God's vision for us while being the best stewards. Thank God for all his servants at St Matts!
Good Morning Empowered Disciple Makers--Servants of the Lord! Pronounce that out loud over you and our church. (The words we say and the things we think do matter!) Say this, "I am/ we are empowered disciple maker(s) serving the Lord and others with love and wisdom! God has created us, gifted us, empowered us and sent us to make disciples. Send me! Thank You!" That comes alive as we serve others through our God-given gifts and abilities empowered by the Holy Spirit and led by Jesus. He is bringing alive His great and greater plans as we respond to His invite to join Him on mission with very thankful and surrendered hearts. PTL for all our empowered, willing and responding servants of the Lord! Check out Our Daily Bread and Upper Room devos below as they tie to this and your part.
You need to know and celebrate that God is responding to our prayers and using us to grow His Kingdom and bless many. Keep praying and serving expectantly with thanksgiving! God is on the move!
Let's end with some prayer starters for today: "Praise God who is a refuge for the poor and needy (is. 25:4). Thank Him for caring about those in desperate circumstances. [Lift those you know who are desperate to Him by name]. Confess times when you have not shown compassion to the needy. Commit yourself to serving others in new and stretching ways. Ask God to provide those opportunities for you and for willing hands and feet. Thank God for being a shelter from the storm for your family (25:4). Pray that teens and young adults will seek that shelter rather than taking refuge in the world. Ask God to anoint the fellowship in your congregation with the Holy Spirit. Pray that any friction between members will be addressed and healed. Pray that new comers will find love and refuge in your congregation. Intercede for ministries which bring Christ's compassion to the poor and needy. Pray that their needs will be met as they bring hope to thousands. [Lift our bread and clothing ministries and the Kindness Project before God for provision, great stewardship, wisdom and vision from God]. Pray that one unsaved person you know will see and desire shelter which Jesus offers. Ask that God will use you to guide that person into eternal safety." Amen
Nine-year-old Dan Gill arrived with his best friend Archie at their classmate’s birthday party. When the mother of the birthday boy saw Archie, however, she refused him entry. “There aren’t enough chairs,” she insisted. Dan offered to sit on the floor to make room for his friend, who was Black, but the mother said no. Dejected, Dan left their presents with her and returned home with Archie, the sting of his friend’s rejection searing his heart.
Now, decades later, Dan is a schoolteacher who keeps one empty chair in his classroom. When students ask why, he explains it’s his reminder to “always have room in the classroom for anyone.”
A heart for all people can be seen in Jesus’ welcoming life: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). This invitation may seem to contradict the “first to the Jew” scope of Jesus’ ministry (Romans 1:16). But the gift of salvation is for all people who place their faith in Jesus. “This is true for everyone who believes,” Paul wrote, “no matter who we are” (3:22 nlt).
We rejoice then at Christ’s invitation to all: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29). For all seeking His rest, His open heart awaits.
By Patricia Raybon
REFLECT & PRAY
What was your situation when you accepted God’s gift of salvation? Who do you know whose heart Jesus is calling?
Dear Jesus, You called me when others didn’t. Thank You for offering me salvation and love.
For further study, read Keeping the Faith: The Cost of Following Christ.
Yokes were wooden frames “placed upon a person’s shoulders in order to make a load or burden easier to carry, by distributing its weight in equal proportions to opposite sides of the body” (William Hendriksen, Matthew). When Jesus speaks of His yoke in Matthew 11:29-30, it’s in contrast to the teaching of the religious leaders whose interpretations and applications were extraneous to the law and burdensome. Christ exposed such leaders saying, “They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them” (23:4; see also Acts 15:10). Being a believer in Jesus is about being in relationship with the One who gives true rest. He says, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30).
UR: Courage to Act
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. - 1 Peter 5:8 (NIV)
My mother adjusted to her blindness so well that her sight-loss support group asked her to visit new members who needed help. Eventually, we wrote a pamphlet with information for those with low vision. The trouble was that no one wanted to publish it. An editor suggested that I write a blog instead because the information changes so fast.
No. I can’t do that, I thought. Forget it. How could those with low vision even find a blog? I repeated those negative words and believed them for two years. I did not have the courage to step out of my comfort zone.
When I read the words in 1 Peter, I wondered, Is this the way the devil works? Is the devil blocking me from serving God and helping those with vision problems?
Negative thoughts can determine our actions or, in my case, inaction. Instead of dwelling on negative thoughts, we can repeat God’s words of affirmation and love: “Peace be still.” “I am with you.” “I will help you.” “Come unto me.”
Six years and 64 blogs later, I’m glad I listened to these positive words. God’s promises can strengthen our faith and give us courage to act.
Guiding Father, help us to be attentive to your voice. Give us courage to act when we hear your call. Amen.