Prayer update from Sarah:
Prayers are requested for Jim Handfest. This morning he fell and they were unable to pick him up. He is in LV Hospital,
being checked by the medical team. He has a couple other health issues also. Let's keep Jim and Kay in our prayers.
Continue to pray for one another, as some are still dealing with respiratory issues and colds that make daily activities a bit exhausting
Please continue to lift Glad Ketner for healing from her stroke and COVID.
Good Morning Praying Co-Laborers! Lots to pray about and consider this morning as we get back to our normal weekday routines. It's so awesome to begin each day, each week, each month and each year with prayer and time with the Lord! It's the very thing that enables, empowers, refreshes and informs your steps each step of the way through the day, week, month and year. Jesus got up early and got away to a quiet place to pray and reload and He is our example. Sometimes I wonder how early He got up and how long He prayed, especially when I keep waking up at 2 am. I have to testify that the wee hours of the morning spent with the Lord are so sweet, powerful, informative and good for the soul. I truly value this time and can understand why Jesus got up early and got away to be with the Father. Time spent with the Lord is always time well spent! And however long you spend at His feet, He somehow redeems and allows you to accomplish His plans for you for the day--not always your plans but for sure His! Be still and know that He is God. He is speaking to you. He wants to hear you, encourage you and empower you for the day. More of You Lord and less of me! Empty yourself and let go of your agendas and sit at His feet a spell. He knows the plans He has for your day and they are plans to prosper and not harm. Invite Him to be the Lord of you, your time, day, week, month and year!
I talked about fasting and prayer as something some of us do at the beginning of each year. It gives back to God the first fruits of the year and prepares us as we offer a sacrifice of praise. Yesterday I received a reminder from EC Center and our Bishop about His call to fasting and prayer for revival of our nation, denomination, churches and individuals. He's called us to fast and pray the first Wednesday of every month. (Thank God it's not donut day!) Karen and I plan to start with the first one tomorrow and see where God leads us. We do something similar with fasting as the bishop and Carla with skipping two meals. You may choose something different. that's ok. Talk to God about what would be a sacrifice to allow you more time at His feet (maybe turn off the TV? Get up early? Skip one meal or fast a week?) Here's a link to his invite and challenge to us: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKvWSqMJUAk
Okay, still with me? Check out the thread through our devotionals for today. In Ecclesiastes (from ODB passage) we hear the Eeyore like whining of woe is me. Life stinks and there is no meaning to anything I do. We are born and die and that's it. Unfortunately, many don't know our Hope and it's showing up in the darkness prevailing all around us. No wonder people are so selfish, evil, lazy, and depressed. BUT GOD! Our mission is to bring light and life and love and hope alive! Yes without Christ there is no hope. Solomon encourages us and teaches from his experiences of pursuing all kinds of meaningless things that "In this life meaning can only be found in God, so love God and enjoy life." Paul puts it another way in Col. 3, "In this life Christ is all that matters and He lives in me." He goes on to remind us of our mission of love, hope and help as we are sent to light up the world. Revival begins with prayer! Revival comes alive as we die to self, take up cross and follow Christ. And revival comes alive through us as we live and love like Christ! Are you seeking Him more and following Him more intentionally as a world changer, joy bringer, and our Hope introducer? That is our mission and focus this year as we earnestly pursue more of Christ and more of our created purposes. (Oh, this is beginning to sound like Sunday's sermon! Can I get a "preach it brother!" and a chorus of "Amens"?)
You'll find our devotionals for today below. Ponder and pray through them. What's God saying to you today? What will you do about! May I suggest to follow Jesus and go love well! Stand tall (UR) and chose joy no matter the trial, trouble, hardship and even in the good times. Keep first things first (TWFYT). We are working on becoming who we were created to be. Be before doing is a teaching we've embraced. However, part of growing into who you were created to be is doing God's will for you and that includes loving and serving others, just as you are. God will use you just as you are and grow you into His greater things as you humble yourself and allow Him control. And Charles Stanley reminds us that God does have plans for each of us, as unlikely as that seems. What's His plan for you? You can discern that as you spend time with Him and allow Him to invite you in to what He is doing today around you. And yes come just as you are. He knows you, is calling your name and reminding you how much He loves you and how good His plans are. Reach out and take His hand today. Put on His easy yoke weary and heavy burdened child of God. Keep following Jesus to God's best for you and allow Him to use you to change your little corner of the world He placed you in for such a time as this! Revival is coming! May it begin in each of us! Amen!
Ernest Hemingway’s first full-length novel features hard-drinking friends who’ve recently endured World War I. They bear the literal and figurative scars of the war’s devastation and try to cope with it via parties, grand adventures, and sleeping around. Always, there is alcohol to numb the pain. No one is happy.
Hemingway’s title for his book The Sun Also Rises comes straight from the pages of Ecclesiastes (1:5). In Ecclesiastes, King Solomon refers to himself as “the Teacher” (v. 1). He observes, “Everything is meaningless” (v. 2) and asks, “What do people gain from all their labors?” (v. 3). Solomon saw how the sun rises and sets, the wind blows to and fro, the rivers flow endlessly into a never satisfied sea (vv. 5–7). Ultimately, all is forgotten (v. 11).
Both Hemingway and Ecclesiastes confront us with the stark futility of living for this life only. Solomon, however, weaves bright hints of the divine into his book. There is permanence—and real hope. Ecclesiastes shows us as we truly are, but it also shows God as He is. “Everything God does will endure forever,” said Solomon (3:14), and therein lies our great hope. For God has given us the gift of us His Son, Jesus.
Apart from God, we’re adrift in an endless, never satisfied sea. Through His risen Son, Jesus, we’re reconciled to Him, and we discover our meaning, value, and purpose.
By Tim Gustafson
REFLECT & PRAY
What occupies your time and what meaning does it hold? How might you change your priorities to follow Jesus?
Loving Father, help me find my fulfillment in You.
The author of the book of Ecclesiastes is unknown, but many Bible scholars believe it’s Solomon. The writer refers to himself as Qoheleth, a Hebrew word commonly translated as “the Teacher,” or “the Preacher” (1:1). As a “son of David, king in Jerusalem” (v. 1), he certainly qualifies. And as a king with the reputation as the wisest and wealthiest, he would’ve lived the themes of the book; hence, he becomes the plausible choice. Regardless of authorship, along with Job, Proverbs, and the poetry books of Psalms and Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes makes an invaluable contribution to the Bible’s Wisdom Literature.
UR: Standing Tall
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. - James 1:2-3 (NIV)
When we moved to our current home, we learned that the redbud tree is very common here. They are often oddly shaped with gnarled trunks. Many have broken branches from storm damage. But in the spring, they are the first trees to bud; when their flowers open, they bring vibrant color to the dull, winter landscape.
One fall, my husband transplanted a redbud sapling into our yard. Within a few months, a storm had broken its tallest branch. However, the young tree made it through the winter, and its remaining branch bloomed in the spring. It continues to grow tall to this day. God made the redbud tree to withstand all sorts of adversity, and it continues to be resilient.
I want to be like those beautiful trees. When I am faced with hardship, I want to trust in God my Creator. God has much good planned for us and can turn our struggles into blessings if we persevere. When hard times attack me, I want to be strong enough to say to them, “You are helpless against me because God made me and I can overcome anything through God’s power.” With this faith I can stand tall like the steadfast redbud trees.
Father God, thank you for models of resilience and strength in nature. Empower us to persevere through our struggles. Amen.TWFYT and CS
Here's the Harvest Prayer blog for today for prayer for revival as well (seems to be a theme as we begin this year!)
January 2 - Praying for Revival (Day 2): Praying An Ancient Pattern for Revival
If you knew God only wanted you to do two things before blessing you with a revival of His presence—would you do them?
What if they required real sacrifice? A rearrangement of priorities? What if you’d have to give up things in your life, your household, your relationships, and even in your future?
The Bible is full of such calls to absolute commitment: “deny yourself and follow me,” “give up everything you have,” “sell your possessions and give to the poor,” or even “pray without ceasing.” So, what if the road to revival is paved with the same kind of surrender—radical, full-life obedience?
Let’s destroy our idols, worship God with all we have, and pray for revival!
I praise You, Lord God, that Your heart is to restore Your people and pour out a fresh blessing of Your presence. Reveal the idols in my life and in our nation that need to be destroyed and give me a renewed commitment to sacrifice that moves You and other believers to radical, full-life obedience! May spiritual awakening and a revival of pure, God-focused worship spread throughout the Church in our nation resulting in new life and the transformation of churches and communities across our land.
Pr a y e r Po i n t s:
• Praise God that it is His heart to restore His people and pour out a fresh blessing of His presence.
• Ask God to reveal the idols in your life and in our nation that need to be destroyed.
• Ask for a renewed commitment to sacrifice that moves you and other believers to radical, full-life obedience.
• Pray for a revival of pure, God-focused worship throughout the Church in this nation.
• Pray for an outpouring of revival and spiritual awakening that results in new life and transformation of churches and communities.
--Adapted from Day 2 by Dan and Melissa Jarvis: Do It Again, Lord (30 Days of Hope-Filled Prayer for Revival)