Each week a member of LLC offers a short devotional to support you in your walk with Christ. We hope each week is an encouragement to you and leads you deeper in your relationship with our marvelous, ever loving God.
I found the words from Sarah Young in Jesus Calling this week to be fitting on these busy summer days filled with a plethora of fun activities with friends and family with no defined schedule. While all of these are tremendously enjoyed, especially after a school year of routine schedules, I found our days were becoming "busy". I appreciated the reminder of the importance to "get away" with God. I pray that each of you can also find some time to "get away" this summer, relax, grow in your faith, and still enjoy the sunshine with your family!
Come away with Me for awhile. The world with its nonstop demands, can be put on hold. Most people put Me on hold, rationalizing that someday they will find time to focus on Me. But the longer people push Me into the background of their lives, the harder it is for them to find Me.
You like among people who glorify busyness' they have made time a tyrant that controls their lives. Even those who know Me as Savior tend to march to the tempo of the world. They have bought into the illusion that more is always better: more meetings, more programs, more activity.
I have called you to follow Me on a solitary Path, making time alone with Me your highest Priority and deepest Joy. It is a pathway largely unappreciated and often despised. However, you have chosen the better thing, which will never be taken away from you. Moreover, as you walk close to Me, I can bless others through you.
Right Where You Are
By Jon Weigel
"...who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?"
After a three hour car ride, we arrived at our hotel near Times Square. As we exited the car and stepped onto the street, the girls emotions went from excitement, to nervousness with a hint of repulsion. The crowds overwhelmed them. The smells reviled their noses. And the intense noises crowded their eardrums. At that moment, in the midst of their confusion and disappointment, they weren’t sure they were going to like New York as much as they had planned!
Then something special happened. A few hours into our trip I said to the girls, “Look up.” And on the top of the building ahead of us they saw trees and shrubs from a rooftop garden. Suddenly, in the midst of the concrete landscape there was natural beauty. At that moment the city strangely began to make sense and our girls began to enjoy themselves.
Esther has a similar experience in her journey. Feeling lost, hopeless, and helpless, as her people are about to suffer genocide, her uncle challenges her to realize that she has a God given role in the situation. He named her calling and gave her a vision for hope in the seemingly hopeless situation, when he challenged her with these words, “who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). Instantly purpose, direction, and meaning broke into her desperate landscape and her perspective changed.
Maybe today you need the same change to take place in your life. Perhaps you are disappointed by your current life situation. Maybe you feel that things haven’t gone the way you had planned. As a result, you are disappointed and discouraged. If that’s you today, remember that maybe, you were called to this place, at this moment, by God himself, “for such a time as this.” Maybe it’s not a mistake that you are where you find yourself, no matter how challenging it appears. And while things are tough, maybe they aren’t wrong. Perhaps you are just where God wants you to be.
Has God ever placed a bug in your ear to remind you of something you should be doing? I mean literally. A little over a week ago, on a Sunday night, I went out to the barn to turn off an overhead light when I felt a moth flutter past my face and fly into my ear. It didn't hurt, but was rather annoying when it would flit its wings. Being alone at the time, I did try holding a flashlight to my ear to entice the little bugger out. Then I tried flushing it out with water. And finally (kids don't try this at home) I tried grabbing it with a tweezers, at which time I did get a piece of wing. Well, it was now about 11 pm and I realized I wouldn't get much sleep if I tried going to bed and waiting till morning, so I made my way to the Hershey Emergency Room. The ER waiting area was completely empty, so I thought this could be a quick trip. I got checked in and within minutes was in an examining room. So far, so good. Yep, the physician on call confirmed there indeed was a live bug in my ear and moved me to a treatment room, at which time the wait began. As my mind was wandering, a "still small voice" reminded me of Pastor Jon saying we should be praying at times with our minds totally focused on God. Well, other than a flickering in my ear every 5 minutes, I could be praying with a focus on God and what He was laying on my heart. So for the next 20 minutes, I brought the youth missions team before the Lord, and my son and his team, who also were on a missions trip. Then the Physician's Assistant said he needed to fill my ear with lidocaine to numb my ear and kill the bug, which would take 15 minutes more. So now lying on my side, I prayed for my grandson, my granddaughters, and my wife in Chicago with her sister. Then with a high-powered vacuum pump, the PA sucked the bug out of my ear! At 12:50 a.m. I finally left the ER with my trophy in hand, and headed home to finally get some sleep. God doesn't force us to do things, but he sure can be persuasive with his nudging!
I happen to love summer, from the hot humid mid-afternoons to the midnight thunderstorms. The best thing about summer is fireflies - I just can't fathom the little miracle that occurs each time one lights up. Summer is a time that we can't help seeing God's handiwork all around us. So, instead of writing about it, my family took a walk around the farm and captured it in pictures. God is good!
"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork." - Psalm 19:1
"In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land." - Psalm 95:4-5
"All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made." - John 1:3
"Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, you I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." - Matthew 6:28-29
"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork." - Psalm 19:1-2
Disciplines of the growing Christian are many. One that many believers would say is difficult to maintain at a level that is their desire is the discipline of prayer. I know for certain I am in that group. Over the years I have heard many well know teachers of the word confess difficulty maintaining what they consider a level of consistency that they desire in their prayer life.
Perhaps part of our difficulty is knowing specific things to pray for spiritual growth to happen on each of our hearts and lives. In taking notes during the six months of Pastor Jon teaching on the Sermon on the Mount I began to notice a consistent emphasis. The consistency of his giving us prayer requests that when prayed will result in God answering those requests and with His answers we will see growth and transformation in our hearts and lives. What follows are some of the ways he has encouraged us to pray...
- Ask God to awaken us to daily living in the reality of our own sin...prayerfully confess sin and ask to be made right ... 'Lord, do some work inside of me. Break and soften me today to deal with my sin that You have revealed'.
- As we realize we cannot live our the Sermon on the Mount by ourselves ask God for the right inclination and the power we need.
- Gifts from the Father to seek through prayer; righteousness, humility, sincerity, purity, and the love that is expected of followers of Jesus and be assured such gifts are ours if sought through prayer wanting Him more than 'things' He can provide. Pray to desire Him more than things and to be filled with the healthy and holy...ask for these in prayer.
- Ask God to open our hearts to Him...to see Him through His Word.
- Seek God in prayer to learn the lesson that God's discipline brings.
- Ask God to help us know Him...to know how real He is. Pray that we will allow Him into our lives and He will change us...transform us to do the right thing with the right motivation. 'Give us the heart that we need.'
I close with a prayer of thanksgiving for our pastor who encourages us to pray by giving us prayer requests that will lead to individual spiritual transformation and bring glory to our great Triune God. And who knows, perhaps in the process we will also find that the discipline of prayer a greater priority in our lives.
This last week, I was on vacation with my family and my wife's family at the beach in N.C. During the vacation, I found myself just thinking about where I am in my life and what is next. I found myself feeling at a crossroads in my life. I would guess many of you can relate. That just brings up a question that is hard to answer. Do I make a decision that might be my will about something or do I wait for God to lead me? So I started to think I should wait on God, but that just brings up another question. What do I do while waiting? I started to look for answers. I am going to give a few things that I have found that helped me. I hope this will help you.
- Believe that the God who saved you hears your cries (Micah 7:7). Have you ever felt like your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling? Perhaps, like me, you have prayed for years about a concern, but God has seemed silent. That's where God demonstrated his love and mercy towards us when we were still his enemies.
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how
will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32)
In other words, the cross is our guarantee that God is for us and is committed to give us everything we would ask for if we knew everything he knew. We can be content with that and wait patiently for his answers.
- Watch with expectancy, but be prepared for unexpected answers (Psalm 5:3).
While God has been faithful to answer many of my prayers, it's often been in far different ways than I would have anticipated! God knows that the only way to do what he and I both desire will, at times, involve varying degrees of discomfort in my life.
Growing in humility means pride has to be done away with. Learning to love like Jesus requires us to say no to self's constant demand for selfish ambition, wanting our own way, and putting ourselves first. Growing in patience inevitably involves some form of waiting, whether in a long line at the grocery story or a lifetime for a loved one to come to Christ. When we lay our requests before him, it is by faith that we wait and watch in anticipation of God's good work in us and others.
- Put your hope in his Word (Psalm 130:5-6)
We can be tempted to put our hope in things that may disappoint us in the end. We can hope a doctor will heal us, a teacher will pass us, a spouse will love us, our employer will reward us, or a friend will help us. But it is only when we put our hope in Christ that we can wait with confidence and know we will not be put to shame.
[Tweet "There is only one place to go to for reassurance during hard times, and that is to the cross."]
It seems that God allows us to experience disappointments in life to teach us that nothing else will truly satisfy or provide us with a firm foundation to stand upon. God's Word alone is unshakeable. We can wait for the Lord knowing that, no matter how dark the night is, his light will break through in our lives, bringing abundant joy through a more intimate relationship with Christ.
So many things become "common place" once we're use to them. In Christian circles, the beauty of salvation quickly wears off and, while we may remain thankful for being saved, we seldom give this miracle of God the attention (and subsequent worship) it deserves.
One of my favorite Worship songs out right now is "So Will I (100 Billion X)" by Hillsong United. One of the lines says, "With no point of reference, you spoke to the dark, and fleshed out the wonder of light." That part "with no point of reference"...I mean, think about that for a second.
God could have made light any way he wanted. He could have made everything any way he wanted. He cold have made the planets shaped like hotdogs with tortilla shaped hats that rain diamonds, and then made the physics behind that work (since he created all physics too)... and we wouldn't know any different!
Now, think about this... God made everything "ex nihilo"... "out of nothing". And when you pause to take in the beauty of galaxies, feathers, quasars, and taste buds... and just the complexity of everything, it's beyond astonishing.
I contend that your salvation is more glorious. See, you were already created and existing. You existed in a corrupted state... dirty, ugly, broken, and fallen. But then God... he took that corrupt, diseased, blackened entity... and turned it into one of the most beautiful creations he's ever made. He created Creation from nothing, but he took you from the darkest end of the spectrum and brought you up and through to his side... with his righteousness, his perfect life, exchanged for yours.
Praise God today for taking you further than he took the cosmos! Praise him that you are of more value than the entire Universe! Praise him that he values you more than everything he created!
"If the stars were made to worship, so will I..."
Link to "So will I (100 Billion X) : www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLURTvUQoTM
Just after Jesus' teaching of what we call "The Good Samaritan", we come directly to a very interesting account in Scripture. "The Good Samaritan" is of course, in some manner, about serving. It's about acting-out our Christianity, it's about our being like Christ. When we are called to love our neighbor that is not an instruction to hold warm feeling for him, rather it's a call to sacrificially give of our time and talents, and funds, to benefit others. Jesus is teaching us to serve, to contribute to the good welfare of our neighbor (which is in fact revealed to be, everyone).
But then we come to one of those portions of the Biblical text that I don't think would be as it is if it were written by men. As Jesus visits the home of Mary and Martha, Martha begins to complain "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving along?". As Mary "sat at the Lord's feet and listened to His teaching" apparently Martha didn't think her sister was being a good Samaritan, she wasn't doing. Mary wasn't looking like what Martha counted a disciple to be. But when the text tells us that "Martha was distracted with much serving", and we have to ask distracted from what? The term "disciple" means student, and Jesus' reply to Martha's concern that Mary serve rather than study was "one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her". Other translations read "Mary has made the right choice" and even "Mary has chosen what is better".
If our Christianity remains only in our head and not our actions, if our faith is only an understanding of ideas and not an interest to serve others, than we ought to examine if our Christianity, our faith, is real and living or if it is merely a comfortable religious shelter. But if we're not compelled to understand God's Word, if we don't seek opportunities to sit under sound teaching, if we don't delight to join with other believers to consider, reconsider, and meditate on the eternal truth God has revealed to us in His Word, then again, we ought to examine if our Christianity, our faith, is real and living or if it is merely a comfortable religious shelter.
Reading two chapters a day is not studying God's Word, it's crucial and good, but it's not studying to know and understand The Bible. You have to study to understand the difference between the OT and the NT, or what the "The Letter To The Philippians" is about, or what Paul meant when he declared that we, Christians today, are the true children of Abraham, etc. If you're not joining together with fellow believers to seriously study the Bible, I would encourage you to think well on Jesus' clear and direct assertion; Martha was busy serving, but - "Mary has chosen what is better".
Have you ever been denied something you really wanted? Many moons ago, I remember being denied admittance into a college I hoped to attend. It was disappointing, disheartening, and I felt aimless. When something like this happens, I am quick to question God and selfishly focus on how the disappointment negatively affects me.
In our text, God reminds Moses that he will not be permitted to enter the promised land. Talk about the disappointment of disappointments! However, his response is very different than mine. When Moses is refused entrance into the promised land (as a result of his sin), he doesn't negotiate with or complain to God. Rather, he accepts his sin and the results of it. Instead of being concerned for himself he is concerned for God and the wellbeing of the people he shepherds—he even asks God to appoint someone to lead the people so they will be cared for in his absence.
What a beautiful example of sacrificial, selfless, servant leadership! My prayer is that I can grow into this type of leadership. I pray that as a church, we—much like Moses—will grow to be more selfless, loving God with everything we are and have (Matthew 22:37) and valuing him above ourselves so as not to be disappointed in his discipline, but accept it and grow from it. I also pray that we love one another above ourselves (Matthew 22:39), so that even when we are dealt disappointment and trial, we consider the needs of one another (Numbers 27:12-17).
* a group of people who come from the same ancestor * a group of people living together * a group of things sharing certain characteristics *
By the young age of 25 I could count my close family members on one hand. All of my grandparents had passed away, my mother's fight with cancer ended and with it we lost touch with several "family" members. My story is not unique or unlike many of yours, as many have unfortunately experienced a similar loss. However, at this same time I redefined family. I gained many new family members, many brothers and sisters through deep, honest, and supportive friendships.
At the recent mother/daughter banquet I had the privilege to spend time in conversation with another woman who very adamantly described Living Legacy as a family, a family I myself felt I found a few years ago. I couldn't help but think, YES; how true this was of our church! It is evident when you walk in the doors of Living Legacy how much each of you truly care, love and support one another. Pastor Jon reminds us weekly that not only does this make us feel good, but it is what God calls us to do. "So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another." - Romans 12:5. Through being a family we can hold each other accountable, we can grow, and then we can effectively do what God has called each one of us to do. "How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity!" - Psalm 133:1
I feel blessed to have found, with my loving husband's help, more sisters and brothers to call my family. So I'll leave you with a few lyrics to a new family favorite song that is played many days in our house. I can't help but think of all of you when I hear it. As Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors say, "You don't choose 'em, you can't lose 'em, We all have a song to sing, Some are crazy, some are amazing, All got a little bit of everything...Family, all in this together. Family, taking a chance. Family, like birds of feather. Family, kick off your shoes and dance."
I may suggest we dance, but in matching family pajamas next Christmas; who's with me?
Shortly after Easter, my 5-year-old granddaughter and I were having a casual conversation, the way granddaughters and grandfathers do, when suddenly she very abruptly told me that the "bad guys made a hat out of twigs and thread and needles and put it on Jesus' head." I asked if it was like a crown with thorns that hurt Jesus when it was put on his head and she told me that indeed it did. I proceeded to ask if the bad guys nailed Jesus to a cross, but her mind was going elsewhere, then she asked, "so if Jesus is God and we can't see them, how can that be?" Sensing a teachable moment, I asked her if she had ever heard of the Holy Spirit, at which she acknowledged that she had. I dug deep into my Christian beliefs and told her that Jesus and God and the Holy Spirit are really 3 different invisible people, with different purposes, but still they are one person. Having said that, I stated that this is a very hard thing to understand, even for me. At which point my granddaughter bluntly stated, "oh PaPaw, God can do anything."
Matthew 18:2-4 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
Reading books has been a favorite past time of mine since I was young. If you think about it, books are just a bunch of marks on paper that come together to form shapes that we call "words." But what exactly is a word. The dictionary defines a word as a sound or a combination of sounds, or its representation in writing or printing, that symbolizes and communicates a meaning and may consist of a single morpheme or of a combination of morphemes. There are other definitions - a discussion, an expression, news, a command, a promise, an order, a slogan. I'm typing this article on a computer program called - Word! Words themselves have not emotion. But when we carefully connect those marks that form words, we can tell a story. We can read words callously and find no significance in them. Or we can read with intention, looking for value in those words and how those words are put together. The idea of "words" is pretty important. Think of how much different our lives would be without them. How would we communicate?
Another dictionary definition of "word" is the Scriptures, Logos, as in the Word of God. The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 includes the following statement on the Scriptures:
"The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God's revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation."
There are 35 entries in my NASB Study Bible concordance for "word" and an additional 20 for "Word of God" and "Word of Truth." One of those is John 1:1-2. - "In the beginning was the Word, and the Words was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God." Then in John 1:14, "And the Word become flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." Jesus is THE WORD! Think of how much different our lives would be without THE WORD!
Although we know it is so much more, the Bible is a book. We can read the words callously and find no significance in them. Or we can read with intention, looking for value in those words and learn how to grow closer to THE WORD, our Jesus!
"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated on the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things."
Clearly, the scripture is a command.
The question then becomes,
'How do I obey the command?'
One answer is PRAISE!
PRAISE God for who He is and PRAISE God for what He had done. PRAISE sets my heart and mind on things above. Dwelling on cares, schedules, routines of daily living...all these can turn my heart and my mind from things above; however when I think of them in the context of PRAISE my heart and mind are turned to God. When consumed with cares, PRAISE will turn 'care thinking' into thinking of God's unfailing love and care. When consumed with schedules, PRAISE will turn the 'schedule god' into the worship of God who gives every moment of every day as a gift to be used to His glory. When consumed with the routines of daily living, PRAISE can turn each activity into the opportunity to practice the presence of God even in the routine.
The discipline of praise can be learned. And yes, praise is a Christian discipline. The little book, PRAYING THROUGH THE NAMES OF GOD* is a helpful resource for getting to know God better and thereby knowing better how to praise Him for who He is. The book is a collection of prayers using various names of God arranged in the ACTS format. Adoration. Confession. Thanksgiving. Supplication.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above you heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.
*Praying Through the Names of God, Tony Evans, Harvest House Publications, Eugene, Oregon.
Below is an article that reminded me of the true meaning behind what we celebrate this weekend. While I enjoy candy, gifts, and time with family, none of them are the foundation for our Christian Easter celebration. Yet, if I'm attentive to God's leading, an Easter egg hunt or family meal can present an opportunity to establish or strengthen relationships with neighbors, friends, and family and offer me the chance to share my hope in the risen Savior. I hope you are challenged by the article below and encouraged to use the Easter Bunny as an opportunity to share about Savior.
So, look, I get it. Life is crazy. Sometimes it feels like you're just trying to just survive the day. And when you look at a long week ahead of you, you wonder if you can even make it. Dealing with sin, death, friends getting divorced, negative co-workers, unfair bosses, stressful work, running the kids to whatever umpteenth thing they have to do tonight, bills piling up...all this is to say nothing of your needs, your hobbies, and all you need to get done. Then you realize you haven't prayed in 3 days, it's been over a week since you read your Bible, and you can't even remember the last time you shared your faith with someone... and so on top of everything else, you have a helping of guild on the side.
There's a song out right now I want to encourage you to listen to: " Breathe" by Jonny Diaz. It's a really good song that slowly swells and speeds up through the verse and then breaks down to nothing but a heartbeat at the chorus where Jonny reminds us to "Breathe, just breathe. Come and rest...at my feet. And be...just be. Chaos calls, but all you really need, is to just breathe."
Every time it plays, it serves as a great reminder to refocus and...just ...rest. Even if only for a moment while driving down the highway. All we "need to be" is to "just be". I actually have that written in the first page of my Bible: "It's about being. Just be." Everything else, for all their importance, can and should fall away when we go to God, collapse into him...and just breathe and just be.
God can handle everything else.
If you would like, click here for a list of Bible verses to read or study about Stress and Anxiety: www.openbible.info/topics/stress.
In the last 100 years or so, and then very much more in the last 50 years, American Christendom has very largely traded the gospel of salvation for a path to happiness...the message from too many 'evangelical' ministries today is that Jesus can help you feel better about life, that you can have victory over loneliness, defeat depression, enjoy victory from hurt feelings, etc, if you just let Jesus help you. This is kind of a stunning message for the church to come-up with since the Bible repeatedly cautions us that in life we will have tribulation, that we should expect persecution, that if this world hated Jesus it will certainly hate His followers as well.
And yet, this notion that the Christian message is instruction on how to deal with hardship and illness and divorce and all the miseries this life heaps on us is very popular among those who identify themselves as 'Christian'. Here at LLC we very regularly hear the phrase 'it's not about us' - yet I think a reminder in that regard is always wise and hopefully profitable. Another way to phrase that idea is "It's not about what makes us happy - it's about what is true'. And very directly put you could say, 'we don't need good advice - we need saved'.
Now by "saved" I don't mean merely rescued from punishment, I mean fully redeemed, made new, or in other words, God hasn't saved us so we can be happy - God saved us to know and love and serve Him. However, to know, love, and serve God we have to know who He is and what His truth is, what exactly He expects from us. Our calling as Christians is not to escape the difficulties of life - our calling is to be His witnesses...I mean, that's what Jesus Himself called us to do as he ascended to be with His Father. In what we call 'the great commission' Jesus told us to "Go into all the world and preach the gospel''. But Jesus included in that commission that we are to "make disciples". That doesn't mean 'get men saved', as in 'make men disciples rather than rebels', it means 'teach those who are added to the church through your 'going into all the world and preaching the gospel'. That "make disciples" literally means 'to teach, to give instruction'.
The normal, expected, course of the Christian is that he be a disciples, a student, one who seeks after truth and learns - the follower of Jesus studies His word. The apostles rebuked those satisfied with milk and admonished us to give our attention to the meat of the word...you can't do that just hearing sermons or reading a few chapters here and there - you need to study; on your own, in groups, and with teachers. Being a Christian is not about feeling happy and enjoying relief from life's hardship - it's about knowing the truth and being His witness.
"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus"
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Last night I met with a group of leaders from our congregation. During our time together we discussed our prayer lives. One individual shared how his prayer life is strongest during times of great turmoil.
To be honest, the same is true for me. When I struggle, my prayer life tends to be robust. I'm not confident I know all the reasons for this malady, but I am sure of this --struggle has a way of clarifying my absolute need for God. It's easy to lose sight of prayer when life is lived in the security of the mountaintop. Trial and tragedy have the ability to reveal my frailty and insufficiency in a way that seasons of prosperity all too often mask.
Yet, how might things change if I maintained a posture of prayer during ALL seasons of life? In what way could my perspective change? Would I be a more powerful force for the Kingdom of God? Could my local church experience renewal? Would the lost see Christ more clearly through me?
Perhaps this week (an all that follow) we should commit ourselves to praying at all times and in all seasons of life (Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; Philippians 4:6). Praying when life is easy and when times are tumultuous. Praying when life is easy and when times are tumultuous. Praying on our knees in the privacy of our homes or even while driving our car. May we pray corporately and individually.
I long for the day when we become so acquainted with our state of desperation that we are seldom deceived by the trappings of life and are positioned to maintain a continual posture of prayer before God. When our needs intersects with God's provision, we are positioned to fulfill His call.
My prayer is that we become more keenly aware of need for God and as a result our permanent posture in one of prayer.
You heard the cry of our hearts
And you came down
Freely you gave us your love
Showing us how
Make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred let me show love
Where there is darkness let me shine light and
May your love cause us to open up
Cause us to open up our hearts
May your light cause us to shine so bright
That we bring hope into the dark
All that we do without love it means nothing
Grant us the courage to give as you're calling.
Open Up by Brilliance
A dear friend recently shared this song with me. After I listened to it several times on repeat, I got to thinking...what an incredibly awesome gift of love God gives each of us. He freely gave His love, not by force but by choice. Through His love that we each receive daily we can bring light, and hope into the world. We don't have to go far to shine brightly and share the love of Christ to a broken world. We can shine right here, in our work, our schools, our neighborhoods. My prayer for each one of us is that we truly seek God's courage to follow his calling, and shine brilliantly!
When my wife and I led the pre-school group for our church's Awana program, we simply told the children that prayer was "talking to God." As an adult reading Hebrews 4:16, "Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need," we realize there is a lot involved when we talk to Him. With boldness, we can approach the very throne of God, the creator of the universe, and request, "please sir, can I have some more?" and by the promise found in John 16:24 "...ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full," God promises to give us a joy-filled life, if we ask. Awesome! And it's not a trick. God won't send us to Africa's mission field if we ask to serve those around us (then again, he might). He won't give us a snake if we ask for a fish. He loves us! So why are we hesitant to pray that we be used to further God's ministry here on earth? Where is the sense of adventure in your prayer life? I mean, we prayerfully thank God for our food before meals, and ask Jesus to give missionaries safe travels in a foreign land, and we request quick and complete healing for the health of our family, friends, and acquaintances, but what about the big exciting stuff? Let's pray, "Lord use me, a broken, sin-filled, saved-by-grace vessel that wholly belongs to You!"
On January 19th, we hosted the youth group at our home for a movie and make-your-own pizza night. Our youth are to be commended for their teamwork, respect for one another, and cleanliness! They worked together in the kitchen, cleaned up after themselves, demonstrated good manners, engaged in mature conversation, and agreed to deposit their cell phones in a basket by the door - it was a joy to have a house full of teenagers! But what I would most like to share with you about the night is what I see on my windows now every day. A few months ago, I decided to purchase some glass markers and write Bible verses on my window so that I see God's Word frequently throughout the day. I wasn't sure what the teenagers would say when I asked if they would write Bible verses on my kitchen windows, but the response was overwhelming! And I want to share with you those verses that I get to see on my windows everyday:
Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
"Let all that you do be done with love." 1 Cor 16:14
Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I'm doing but later you will understand." John 13:7
This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24
Be still and know that I am GOD. Psalm 46:10
The mind set on the SPIRIT is life and peace. Romans 8:6
1 Cor 13:8 - Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4
God is light. In Him there is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5
As I was preparing that morning, I asked God how to pray for our youth, what I should write on my window before they arrived. Here's what I wrote and continue to pray, not only for our youth but also for our church family:
And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Act 2:42
From time to time I write out my prayers centered on a name of God. I invite you to pray this prayer I wrote on January 6 just as Jon was coming as our pastor. I had just read another prayer written using God's name EL BETHEL and I was led to use that name for God as I wrote...
Oh, mighty and loving God, Triune in Nature and Essence. I come to you in prayer this day knowing that You are never busy, asleep, or unconcerned. Your name is El Bethel... the God of the House of God. Oh, El Bethel, You are the God of this House... this local congregation that we know as Living Legacy.
You are the Shepherd of this flock. I know that You can do all things and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. You have revealed Your purpose and Your strength in countless ways. El Bethel I give You praise for who You are.
We are a congregation that is saved by grace. You have reserved for Your own glory and our good those who love You and desire to see You continue Your work of transformation in us. I confess that we are saved by Grace and nothing can take that away but I also confess that as Your children we still have our unredeemed flesh. This can cause us to act in ways that can bring difficulty to those who serve among us. Jon has answered Your call to serve You here at Living Legacy. Help us as a congregation not to grieve the Holy Spirit as Jon challenges us by faithfully preaching the Word. We know that our ongoing transformation is Your work. And You choose to work through Your Word. May Jon, as Your Under-shepherd be diligent to study and pray. Give him...give us...a hunger for Your word - a hunger that only Your Word can satisfy. And give us the inner desire to obey Your Word.
El Bethel, the God of the House of God, thank You for making Yourself known to us. Thank You for taking up residence in the believers at Living Legacy through the death, burial, and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ. This miracle makes us a local congregation, a family. We come today in grateful thanks for Pastor Jon Weigel. I pray Your blessing on him, his wife, Dottie, and his daughters, Kate and Maggie. Jon has served as a pastor before. Dottie knows something of being a pastors's wife. Maggie and Kate know something of being 'Preacher's Kids'. These can sometimes be difficult roles. Help us as a congregation to be encouragers to this family. Help us to remember to prayer for them.
El Bethel, abide in us as individual believers and thus in Living Legacy. Set up Your home in the depths of our souls. Let your words dwell in us that we may know and live by them and for You. Reveal to us the sin we must confess and turn from so that we may be pure and blameless in Your sight. Show us how to best honor You through the temple that You have set up within us as believers.
How grateful we are to You in giving us a pastor. We love You and look forward to all You are doing and are going to do in this House of God.
In Jesus' matchless name, Amen.