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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Listening To God

Mark 4:24 (NIV)
 “Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more.

A Spirit filled pastor called Pastor Herman Trenholm from Charlottetown, P.E.I. had an unusual experience. He was at the radio station on a Wednesday, prerecording his Bible message for the week. But, for some reason, the words could not come out of his mouth. He had never experienced anything like it. He tried, but he could only stammer out his message.

At the same time, in the same town, a pastor from a large denomination was fighting his doubts about God's existence. Finally, in despair, he opened his phonebook under the heading of churches and drew his finger hazardly down the list, stopping on a particular church. It so happened that this was Pastor Trenholm's church. The other pastor cried out loud: "God, if you do exist, send this pastor to my door within 30 minutes!" (I do not recommend this method, by the way!)

Meanwhile, Pastor Trenholm felt an urgent need to leave the radio station and drive the streets of Charlottetown. Guess where he ended up? You got it. Right at the church of the doubting pastor. Exactly 29 minutes after the pastor had uttered his prayer, Pastor Trenholm knocked on his door. When he opened the door, Pastor Trenholm said, "I have no idea why I'm here, but God told me to come here. Is there anything I can do for you?"

The doubting pastor started to cry, and Pastor Trenholm was able to witness to him. He became born again was baptized by God's Spirit that same day!

Dear Lord, we pray that our ears would be open to You. Help us hear You when You tell us to do something. IN Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

God Will Provide

Psalm 29:11 (NIV)
The Lord gives strength to his people;
    the Lord blesses his people with peace.

American President John Quincy Adams once said, "Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish." It's true!

Look what happened recently to a North Carolina church that wanted to purchase some property. The church regularly suffered from high tide flooding. But when the church was built over a hundred years ago, they couldn't afford better property.

They finally decided to relocate to higher ground. An ideal piece of property was empty - actually the highest ground in town. It belonged to a man named Sam. Officials from the church went to see Sam about selling the property. He politely told them it wasn't for sale; that he had other plans for the land.

The church looked elsewhere, but nothing satisfactory could be found. So they went back to Sam and made another offer. Again they were refused.

Then an unusual thing happened. One of the worst coastal floods in memory struck the town. As water rose, the church began to float. It left its coastal lot and started inward. It floated down the main street, turned a corner and eventually landed right on Sam's empty property.

Sam gave in. He allowed the building to stay and, if you ask the members of North Carolina's Swan quarter United Methodist Church how they came to acquire their land, they may relate what Sam said about the transaction: "I guess if the good Lord couldn't move me to give the land to the church, he would move the church to the land."

The member's persistence, combined with a little outside help, paid off. Persevere - you may by surprised at how your obstacles vanish!

God can make all the obstacles of live disappear. Turn them all over to Him.

Dear Lord, we thank You that there isn’t an obstacle to big that You can’t handle. Help us turn them all over to You today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Birthdays, Ready or Not Here They Come

James 4:14 (NIV)
Why, you do not even know what will happ.en tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

Today is the anniversary of the day I made my arrival on this earth, my birthday. It got me thinking about birthdays and how we look at them.

“Ready or not, here they come.” But that is not how everyone looks at a birthday. For some a birthday is a joyous event, especially for the young. Birthdays mean presents and being the center of attention. Birthdays mean surprises and all the cake and ice cream we can eat.

Then the double digit years come. “I’ll be ten.” Then the seeming long wait to become a … TEENAGER. Then the miserable long wait until we can drive a car. (We already know how to drive our brothers and sisters and parents and teachers crazy.)

From 16 to 21 everything seems a daze. Then one day, either after high school or after college we have that final “fun” birthday and have to act our age. We have to work like an adult. We have responsibilities.

Then comes those plateau years; 30, 40, 50, 60. They come too fast. Some welcome them with tears. Others by having a second childhood. Others by having a mid-life crises.

And throughout it all, “Ready or not, here they come.” Birthdays don’t slow down, they speed up. Then one day we wake up and say, “Where has my life gone?”

As I celebrate today I want to make sure that my life is one that brings honor to God in everything I say and do. I don’t want to ever ask “Where has my life gone?” I want to have no regrets because of the things I have done or haven’t done. Make it your goal today to make the most of the time God gives you.

Dear Lord, we thank You for the life You give us.  We thank for each opportunity we have before us. We pray that we will make the most of each one. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Lord Can Use What we Think are Our Failures.

Habakkuk 3:19 (NIV)

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.

Concerned about the disintegration of the home and the increased divorce rate, James Dobson, at the time a little-known psychologist of a southern California university hospital, wrote a book in the early '70s in support of corporal punishment entitle "Dare to Discipline."

The popularity of the controversial volume caught the eye of TV talk show guru Phil Donahue. He invited Dobson to appear on his Chicago-based show in 1978. Donahue made the Ph.D. in child development look like a child. Dobson readily admits his performance on Donahue's show was his worst ever. He left the set feeling like a failure. But Dobson's despair was short-lived.

The next day he sought out a 65-year-old advertising agent in a Chicago suburb to discuss the possibility of a national radio program. Doug Mains invited Dobson to his one-man studio in Wheaton, where Dr. James Dobson proceeded to record the pilot broadcast of "Focus on the Family."

What has developed from a disastrous television appearance is nothing short of mind-boggling. "Focus on the Family" is heard on more than 6,000 stations around the world. The 10 magazines Focus publishes reach 2.3 million families each month.

Give your plans to the Lord and let Him direct them. Today in prayer, allow Christ to be your strength and follow Him no matter where He leads.

"I have learned that we can control where we allow things that we can't understand to fall. They either fall between us and God, and we become angry. Or we allow these things to fall outside of us and press us in closer to God." - Steven Curtis Chapman

Dear Lord, we pray that even when things don’t go as we think they should or it looks like we failed that we would still trust You. Knowing that You can work everything out. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

God Will Be With You.

Joshua 1:9 (NIV)
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Al Braca worked as a corporate bond trader. He was also a deacon at his church in New Jersey. Though the 54-year old was a vice president of his company, he didn't like the work environment because it was completely out of sync with his Christian values. His wife Jean remembers:

"Through the last 16 years, Al was on a mission and that was to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the workers there and all of the partners and customers that he had working on Wall Street. Over the years, even closer to his death, they started to call him the 'Rev', not because they loved him for what he was doing, but because of fact that he was faithful and was on a mission to give the Gospel out to people who would hear him. Whether they received it was really up to the Holy Spirit.

On the morning of 9/11, he went to work as he usually did after spending the morning in prayer with the Lord. Because of his devotion to God and because of His faithfulness, he was there when these people needed him the most. Because of other men leaving messages to their wives and also e-mails, I found out that my husband had the opportunity of praying with about 50 men and women and I believe that many of them gave their hearts over to Jesus. Al really did what he felt God called him to do and that was to continuously die to self and give others the message of Jesus Christ."

Al perished in Tower One of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. But not without being faithful to what the Lord had called him to do.

"No matter what happens in your life; no matter what trials and tribulations enters your life, you must keep your eyes on Jesus Christ, because he is the author and finisher of your faith. He is there to strengthen you and to equip you for any situation that comes your way" - Jean Braca

Dear Lord we  give thanks to the You  no matter what comes our way.  Help us be faithful today in all things. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Are You Listening to God's Vocie?

1 Samuel 3:9 (NIV)
So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

Antha Dishman, better known as Sister Sally, pastors a small church named House of Prayer in Hustonville, Kentucky. She has seen a lot of miracles take place in her ministry, she says, but the following one really sticks with her. I too admit that this is not the “usual” kind of miracle---if, in fact, there is one---but many miracles require a step taken in faith BEFORE anything happens. And at the House of Prayer, that’s routine.

So this is why, on Saturday, August 11, 2001, Sister Sally heard the Lord asking her to take a red Delicious apple to church the following day. That Sunday morning, Sally asked her husband to stop at the store. Her reason did not sit too well with him. “He’s the type who worries about what people will think,” Sally says. Sally is the type of person who wonders what GOD will think, she admits. But her husband, grumbling, pulled over, and Sally went in and bought an entire bag of Delicious apples. Choosing the very best one, she entered the little building they used for the House of Prayer.

“What’s the apple for?” asked the first person she met, who happened to be the owner of the building. “I’m not really sure,” Sally hesitated. This man had recently lost his wife, and had been extremely difficult to talk to, and she dreaded upsetting him. “But we Christians are considered as the apples of God’s eyes.” The man nodded and went on. Sally decided to preach a sermon on being the apple of God’s eye. She would use the apple in the pulpit as a visual aid.

“It went very well,” Sally says. Church over, she collected her things. “I went to pick up the apple, and I distinctly heard God say to leave it on the pulpit.” Sally did not want to do this. She hadn’t been pastor very long, she didn’t want to make waves…and the church owner always turned off the air conditioning after meetings. That apple would rot in the 90 degree weather during the following week. But how could she say “no” to God? Reluctantly, Sally went to the owner and explained the Lord’s command. “What?” he asked, astonished. “I’m not about to disobey God,” Sally retorted. “If you want to take the apple out, do it. But I’m going to leave it there.” Sighing, the man told Sally to leave the apple.

During the week, the heat wave began. By Tuesday, one of the apples in the bag Sally purchased was already rotten. Sally was worried. The apple in church would smell terrible for Wednesday night prayer meeting, and people would be unhappy. Furthur, what was the point of it all? But shortly before the prayer service Sally came into church, prepared for the worst.

The air conditioning hadn’t yet been turned on, but there was no rotting smell. Sally went up to the pulpit and looked. The apple was still there, looking just as fresh and pretty as it had on Sunday.

Sally gave a different sermon, not mentioning the apple, and felt so relieved. She had obeyed the Lord, no one had asked about or noticed the apple, and now she could surely throw it away. But when she gathered her things and picked up the apple, God spoke. “Leave it there.”

Not again. “Lord,” Sally prayed silently, “you know how the owner feels about this building and us church people.” “Who are you serving?” the Lord asked. “Him or me?”

It was no contest. Sally put the apple back on the pulpit, and went to inform the owner. “I hope you know what you’re doing,” he told her gruffly.

Sally had no idea what she was doing. But when she returned to the hot interior of the church building for the following Sunday services, the apple was still there, still fresh. Sally thanked God again and this time, she barely glanced as the owner approached her. “Where is it?” he demanded.

“On the pulpit,” Sally told him. “This is ridiculous,” the owner said. “I’m going to throw it away.” “Go ahead,” Sally told him. By now she knew that something important was happening. And when she returned to church the following Wednesday, the apple---still perfect---was still there.

“This went on for twenty-one days,” Sally says. “The apple became a part of our church. Before sitting in a pew or shaking hands with anyone, people would go up to the pulpit and inspect it.” But God had told Sally something else as well. “When the twenty-one days were up, He would show me what to do with the apple.”

On Day Twenty-one, there was a new visitor to the little congregation, an eighteen-year-old girl with lupus. The doctors had given up hope for her, and this was the first time she had ever been in a church. Sally didn’t know her, but as people came up for a prayer blessing, the girl got in line, and Sally heard God’s command: she was to give the girl the apple to eat.

Sally will never forget the looks on the people’s faces as she reached across the pulpit to get the apple. “No, not the apple!” more than one called out. They had grown used to the phenomenon and didn’t want to lose it.

But how much happier they all felt when the visitor did eat the apple, and began immediately to look healthier. Several days later, the doctors who had been treating her were able to see the results—she was definitely healing. Today there is no sign of Lupus in her body.

The doctors still don’t know what happened. But those in that little country church know about the miracle God performed with the apple, and through Sally’s obedience. That’s the important thing, she says. “If God asked you to take an apple to church, do it. Amazing things can happen when we say “Yes.”

Dear Lord, help us to listen to Your voice today. We pray that we would completely trust You in all things. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Shine Your Light

Matthew 5:16 (NIV)
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

"Why go out tonight? There won't be a soul there."

As the minister watched the rain lash against the window, the voice that spoke inside him sounded reasonable enough. It was one of the stormiest nights of the winter. But somehow he felt he must conduct that evening service.

So he put on his raincoat, took his lantern, and stepped out into the blackness. The water almost blinded him as he plunged into the teeth of the gale. On and up he plodded until he came to his church, which stood on a high hill along the Scottish coast. When he had opened the door, he set the lantern on a window sill, and then sat down to wait for his congregation--a congregation that never came.

At last, seeing he would be quite alone, he sang a hymn and knelt and prayed. Then, his duty performed, he locked the church and went down the hill. Had it all been a waste of time? The parson wondered.

But the next morning he heard a different story. The night before, when the storm was at its worst, a fishing vessel had been trying to make the harbor. The skipper was floundering around in the blackness until he saw the small light in the old church. Without that lantern the ship would have surely been carried onto the rocks. But thanks to those steady beams, the pilot had brought his boat safely to port. It was a lesson to the minister. After that, he knew that any light he might throw into this world's darkness would never be entirely lost.

Dear Lord, we pray that today we would let Your light shine through us so the World we are in will see You thought us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Enjoy the Journey.

1 Corinthians 2:9 (NIV)
However, as it is written: 
“What no eye has seen,
    what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
    the things God has prepared for those who love him—

Today’s verse reminds me of a story I read the other day by Rick Potter from Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. Enjoy the Journey.

I love living in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, but I think that my heart will always be in Muskoka, Ontario, where my grandfather's cottage, nicknamed "Birch Haven" has stood since 1933. For as long as I can remember, as soon as school ended, my family would begin that five-hour journey to Birch Haven, a trip punctuated by numerous bathroom breaks, radiator cool-downs, and of course, ice cream stops.

I have wonderful memories of growing up in those summers in Muskoka, with family, cousins, and friends -- swimming, boating, sailing, water-skiing, or just lying in the sun on the dock.

Today, for my own family, the journey is even longer: a five-hour plane ride to Ottawa now precedes the long drive to Birch Haven. Sometimes, the air travel is rough, and the drive late at night is exhausting. But the anticipation, as I get closer to the cottage, is still the same.

When my mother realizes it's me, she'll typically come running from the cottage, with arms open. As we hug together, I quickly forget how long the journey has been, the welcome and the promise of cottage life making it worthwhile.

Sometimes, our journey here on earth seems long. There are delays, times when the way is rough, times when we wonder whether it's all worthwhile. These are the times when we need to depend on God, our pilot, assured that He knows the way and will lead us to a safe haven -- our eternal home. Jesus will be waiting for us there, running to meet us, arms outstretched, for He has gone ahead to prepare the mansion, a room that has been waiting for us since the beginning of time. When we are welcomed into our Saviour's loving arms, we will forget the journey -- for finally, we are home.

Dear Lord, thank You for taking care of us each day as we journey through life. We pray that You will continue to guide us through the good times and the bad. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

God Can Use Everything.

Romans 8:28 (NIV)
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Regina (Regi) Langworthy was a teen-age bride, and a mother by her eighteenth birthday. At 19, she had already divorced, and by age 21, she had been diagnosed with cervical cancer. "What a start on life!" she says. Regi loved children and had wanted more. But it was not to be. The next several years were difficult as she worked at low-paying jobs and endured several surgeries. But her love for her little boy kept her going.

Then, things began to look more hopeful. Regi celebrated her 30th birthday cancer-free. And soon after, "I met the most wonderful man, and we married two years later," she says. "John Copenhaver had never been married, and had no children, and he knew that we would be unable to have any." It was a sorrow for both of them, but they accepted the situation.

Shortly after the wedding, Regi's brother became terminally ill, so Regi, John and her son moved to Florida to help support the family. By the time Regi's brother died, they had put down roots in the area, and decided to stay. Because Regi loved children so much, she opened a home-based day care for kids from newborn age to five years old, who were already in temporary protective custody. "Their parents were usually in drug and alcohol rehab," says Regi. "A lot of the time, abuse was also involved. It was both wonderful and heartbreaking to work with these children. The hardest part was releasing them to go back to abusive families. Many would return to protective services again and again."

Regi's day care business grew quickly. Along with her talent and love for these children, she was also open around the clock! ("From being a single mom, I realized that there were times when you have to work nights, and I usually had four steady "over-nighters.") A woman came in to assist in the early afternoons, and John helped in the evenings. "Our weekend outings always included one or more children too," Regi says. "But we didn't mind. We were very attached to all of them."

One morning Regi was asked to go to a shelter and observe a ten-month-old, born addicted to crack and thus developmentally handicapped. "Ivan cried all the time," Regi says. "But there was something in his eyes when he looked at me." Yes, she told the social workers. Although she had never taken a foster child, she would take Ivan. And over the next several months, Ivan learned that there was no need to cry. In his new home, there was love in abundance.

After several months, Ivan was allowed regular visits with his biological mother. But he always returned dirty-and again, crying. How could Regi stand by and watch Ivan's hard-won gains evaporate? God had always been with her as she cared for these special children, but now she prayed even harder that, in some way, this little boy would be saved. And soon her prayers were heard. Ivan's mother returned to drugs, and decided that since the courts would no doubt take him away from her eventually, she would rather give custody to Regi and John instead. "After much paperwork, he became our son!"

During this time, a female family member had left her eleven-month-old girl with Regi, "just temporarily." "Brandi was a chubby little girl who sat and looked through sad eyes, not talking or making any sounds," Regi recalls. Unbelievably, Brandi was eventually freed for adoption too, and she became their daughter!

Today Ivan is almost seventeen, a very normal young man, active in sports and on the honor roll. Brandi is almost sixteen, gets good grades, enjoys sports and is beautiful, says her proud mom. Both have known from the beginning about their backgrounds. All they really needed, says Regi, was security and love.

Regi still battles health problems, but as she looks back, she wouldn't change anything, not even her cancer. "I honestly believe that God knew there would be two babies who would need us as their parents, and He led us to them," she says. "Had I not been sick, I probably would have had a much different life. In its own way, the cancer was actually a blessing."

And in her own way, Regi lived by faith--and has made the world a better place.

Dear Lord, we thank You for the circumstances we go through in our life. We thank You that You can use them to make us into the person that You want us to be. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

He Gives the Strength.

Psalm 29:11 (NIV)
The Lord gives strength to his people;
    the Lord blesses his people with peace.

On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, began like any other day Stanley Praimnath was in his office at World Trade Center Tower Two. The deacon and Sunday School Superintendent for Bethel Assembly of God of South Ozone Park, New York, looked out his window and saw United Air Lines Flight 175 heading straight for him.

"All I can see is this big gray plane, with red letters on the wing and on the tail, bearing down on me," said Stanley. "

But this thing is happening in slow motion. The plane appeared to be 100 yards away. I said, 'Lord, you take control. I can't help myself here.'" Stanley then dove under his desk.

"My Testament [Bible] was on top of my desk," explained Stanley. "I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Lord was going to take care of me once I got there."

As he curled into a fetal position under his desk, the plane tore into the side of the building and exploded. Miraculously, Stanley was unhurt. However, he could see a flaming wing of the plane in the doorway of his department. He knew he needed to get out of his office and the building fast. But, he was trapped under debris up to his shoulders.

"Lord, you take control, this is your problem now," he recalled praying. "I don't know where I got this power from, but the good Lord gave me so much power and strength in my body that I was able to shake everything off. I felt like I was the strongest man alive."

Stanley was exuberant but also in great danger. Trapped inside the office, fire was starting to spread. While praying on his knees, he saw a flashlight being carried by a man behind the wall, "There's one thing I got to know-do you know Jesus?"

The man replied he went to church every Sunday. Then they prayed together, asking God to enable them to break through the wall. "I got up, and I felt as if a power came over me," said Stanley. "I felt goose bumps all over my body and I'm trembling, and I said to the wall, 'You're going to be no match for me and my Lord.'"

Moments later, he punched his way through the wall and, with the help of the man on the other side, was able to squirm his way through the hole in the wall. "The guy held me and embraced me and he gave me a kiss and he said, 'From today, you're my brother for life.'" Both men were able to miraculously escape the burning tower that day.

The Lord is the giver of all strength. Do you need a strengthening today?

Dear  Lord, Today we pray for the strength for today. Help us be able to handle the things that come our way knowing that You are there with us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Monday, January 21, 2013

It's His Battle!

2 Chronicles 20:9 (NIV)
‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’

The rain poured down in the days just prior to the battle of Waterloo. Napoleon had marched all the way from France to face his enemy, and we can image how tired his men must have been after trekking with heavy canons in the downpour. And since they didn't have paved roads, it wasn't exactly good for morale!

The good news for Napoleon was that he had more canons than his enemies, the British and the Prussians. He took this to his advantage, and he had his canons aimed low to hit as many of the enemy soldiers as possible. He made just one tiny oversight when it came to the simple laws of physics: Heavy rain causes mud, and that same mud would hamper the effectiveness of Napoleon's bowling-kind of tactics!

His enemies though took full advantage of the fact that they outnumbered the French two to one, and they placed themselves mostly on hills, where canons could not reach them!

Despite all of this, Napoleon still believed he would win the battle. Before lunch time, even! After all, he had won the battle against the Prussians two days before! Instead, Napoleon would meet his demise, or as the French would say, "Napoleon would meet his Waterloo"!

How differently King Jehosaphat faced the news that: "A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Sea." (2 Chron 20:2 NIV)

What would we do in Jehosaphat's place? Would we react like Napoleon and conclude it will be a piece of cake? Or would we be filled with fear? After all we hadn't expected such calamity!

"Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah." (2 Chron 20:3 NIV)

Jehoshaphat faced this catastrophe quite differently. There was no way he would face this on his own strength! He wanted to hear from God before undertaking anything. Wise decision! If canons can be hampered by mud, other human endeavors could face similar defeats!

Strangely enough, we, as human beings, are always inclined to react on impulse, facing our adversity with our own ingenuity (Look at Napoleon!), an inventiveness that isn't much better than a croaking toad amidst flying cannon balls on a mud field! The outcome would be so different if we immediately ran to God!

Jehoshaphat did not put his confidence in himself, however, but put his trust in God! "If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us." (2 Chron 20:9 NIV)

Do we display this kind of confidence when we face the loss of a job, the loss of finances, the loss of anything? Do we truly believe that God hears our prayers even a midst our most somber of circumstances?

Jehoshaphat saw clearly how desperate his situation was. He truly had no idea how to face this immense tragedy. But instead of wailing, complaining and preparing for war, he decided to focus on God. Isn't He the One who gives hope to the hopeless?

So if it is true that none of our battles are really ours. That they are truly God's to fight.  Why not give Him the reins?

It's His battle!

Dear Lord I pray that we would look to You knowing that the battle truly is Yours and that You will handle it. Help us give you the reins and not take them back. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Where Are You Going?

John 14:5-6 (NIV) 
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

There was a time when Albert Einstein was going on a train to an out-of-town engagement. The conductor stopped by to punch his ticket. The great scientist, preoccupied with his work, with great embarrassment rummaged through his coat pockets and briefcase to no avail. He could not find his ticket. The conductor said, "We all know who you are, Dr. Einstein. I'm sure you bought a ticket. Don't worry about it. Everything is okay."

The conductor walked on down the aisle punching other tickets. Before he moved to the next car, he looked back and saw Dr. Einstein down on his hands and knees looking under his seat trying to find his ticket. He came back and gently said, "Dr. Einstein, please don't worry about it. I know who you are."

Einstein looked up and said, "I too know who I am. What I don't know is where I'm going!"

Like Einstein, we often don't know where we are going. That's why we are often compared in the Scriptures to sheep -- animals which have a very poor sense of direction. They have no idea where they came from or where they're going. That's one of the reasons they are in such dire need of a shepherd.

Like sheep, we have all "gone astray." (Isa. 53:6). We need someone to show us the way. And Jesus not only shows us the way -- he IS the way!

Dear Lord, we thank You for the direction that You give to each of us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Is Your Walk With God Close?

Genesis 7:5 (NIV)
And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.

Anne Graham Lotz was born and reared in Montreat, North Carolina, the second daughter of evangelist Billy Graham and his wife Ruth. Anne is the wife of Dr. Dan Lotz and the mother of three children. A gifted speaker, Anne has taught Bible Study Fellowship, a weekly Bible study class in Raleigh, North Carolina of over 500 women. Her original class multiplied until today there are ten other classes of similar size in Raleigh. When Anne and Dan attend football games at his alma mater, the University of North Carolina, thousands of people cram in the parking lots, and she is unable to see where she's going. However, her husband, a head taller at 6'7", can look over the crowd, so he takes her hand and leads them to their seats. "The way I get from the car to my seat is just by holding his hand and following him closely through the crowd," Lotz says. She follows the same procedure with the Lord. "I just try to faithfully follow the Lord step by step and day by day," she says. "Ten years from now, I just want to look back and know that to the best of my ability I have been obedient to God's call on my life."

The secret to having a closer walk with God is following the Lord step by step.

Dear Lord, help us to walk with You throughout the day. In everything we do help us to let You lead. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Are You Listening?

Deuteronomy 15:5 (KJV)
Only if thou carefully hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all these commandments which I command thee this day.

Every doctor makes mistakes or misses conditions we should have found. Among the thousands of patient encounters we have every year, doctors are bound to make some errors in judgment, or flat-out mistakes. Even if a doctor is right 99.9% of the time, he or she would still make several significant mistakes every year.

Here is a story told by a doctor.

I made one such mistake one day when I lived and worked in New Orleans - the crescent city, the city that care forgot, the Big Easy. Usually these stories start out with the statement, "It was an incredibly busy day". Not so on this day. The morning was easy. I had patients to see but did not feel rushed. One of the nurses put the chart in front of me and said, "Here, dawlin'." (I miss the little terms of endearment that people use in New Orleans - darling, sweety, sugar.) "Kid got hit with a ball last night."

I found James, a trim and strong 15 year-old boy with a large bruise on the right side of the forehead. The plum colored bruise approximated the size of the baseball that had been tossed to him (and missed) the night before. He had vomited once after the hit but slept well that night and awakened with only a mild headache. He smiled at me and only winced a little when I pressed on his forehead. After finishing my exam, I reassured his parents that all seemed to be well and that x-rays were not needed. They went home happy, and I continued with my day. Things became more hectic as the hours passed. Normally a kid with a bump on the head would not enter my thoughts again. After a quick lunch, however, an unusual feeling came to me. I felt urged to call the boy's mother. In the midst of the typical E. R. chaos, I asked the unit clerk to call their house. I almost never do this. I could remember calling a guy the next day after I found no injuries in spite of an extensive evaluation. He had fallen from a car while mooning a carload of girls - going 55 MPH on I-10. That's a story on its own. That guy was fine. James was not. I learned that he had slept most of the morning and vomited after he awakened. I asked the parents to bring James back right away.

The CAT scan of the head showed an epidural hematoma. This bleeding outside the covering of the brain is extremely dangerous and requires quick attention - usually an operation. I transferred him to Children's Hospital and he went to surgery that day. He did well. On my way home that night I wondered why, out of the blue, I decided to call the mother of a boy who did not appear to have a significant injury. I'm convinced that God's grace touched James that day. James and his family were saved from a terrible tragedy, and the emotional devastation that comes with the death or neurological injury of a child. My being saved the anguish of a terrible mistake and of the certain litigation that would have resulted was a nice byproduct of this. I doubt, however, that God was really thinking too much about me. I was a side player in His reordering of events. I'm not counting on him bailing me out again. I lost track of James and don't know what he is doing now. I have a feeling though, that eventually James will do something important and meaningful in his life - with God's grace.

How often do we fail to hear the still small voice of God speaking to us?  Are we to busy or preoccupied to hear when God is telling us to do. Take the time today to listen, really listen.

Dear Lord, We pray that we would slow down and listen to Your voice. Help us do what Your will for us today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Will You Ask For Direction?

Job 23:10 (NIV)
But he knows the way that I take;
    when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.

I read a story about a man who used to keep this verse taped to the steering wheel of his car. He tells his story like this.

I used to keep this verse taped to the driving wheel of my car,   especially on long trips out of state because, as you perfectly well know, guys like me don't often ask for directions. Whenever I got lost anywhere, I would just stubbornly keep on going until I would eventually have to stop and talk to a local. Usually, I did the stopping, and Evelyn would get out and do the asking.

I can remember our first year over here, when we were staying at Disney World, getting lost somewhere in Kissimmee, Florida. Instead of heading back to the resort, I was stubbornly taking us all out into the swamps. We'd probably still be there, if Evelyn hadn't insisted stopping at a gas station to get directions.

Just as guys like me are bad at asking for road directions, people are also bad at asking God for guidance. We sometimes get ourselves into bad situations and have chronic problems, but instead of seeking God's counsel, we stubbornly hold on to our own beliefs and stick to our own ways of handling our problems. You would think that we would all learn from experience, but we don't. I guess that's why God kept calling the Israelites stubborn and stiff-necked. If only they had taken His advice and followed His ways, perhaps they wouldn't have spent forty years wandering in the wilderness!

Anyway, whatever we're facing, whatever we fear, whatever problems or issues we have in our lives, let's ask God for help and take time to listen to Him. Otherwise, we're going to go around in spiritual circles and unresolved cycles.

What a great lesson we can all learn, Why not go to our Lord and ask for direction.  He is there to guide us and lead us if we are willing.

Dear Lord, help us to make the time to talk to You about what we're going through right now. Help us to be patient and quiet, ready to receive Your direction and to accept Your guidance. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Will You Follow?

Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Cecil F. Alexander tells a story how she used this verse for comfort:

I have been living in a retirement community for the past eighteen months. During this time, I have become acutely aware that there are people whose needs are not always met. I would rationalize and think, What is that to me? However, I began taking several individuals' needs to the Lord in prayer.

Over the past several months, I have often sat in the lobby after meals. One night, I looked to see if I could be of help to either a resident or staff member. During this time, there was a distraught younger woman at the desk, expressing a concern about a family member. I recognized the woman. However, being very tired, I decided to go to my room. But the Holy Spirit had other plans for me.

Before I could leave the lobby to go to my room, my feet took me to the resident's room. There was the distraught woman, the resident's daughter. She greeted me at the door and almost pushed me into the room, saying, "Why don't you come in and visit awhile?" So I did. The daughter left for the evening. The resident was in her bed. I sat down and talked with her. She was anxious because she was afraid she wouldn't be able to sleep. I recited this Scripture to her:

Philippians 4:6-7 - Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (NIV)

I explained that we are not to be anxious, but by prayer, we can experience a peace that we cannot understand. I told her how God's peace has come over me when I have been in the same situation. I reassured her that God has asked us to "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7 NIV) Then I began singing some of the old gospel hymns, to which she would join in, as she remembered them. She said she thought that God had sent me to her room. He sure did! Before I left, I asked her if I could pray for her, and she agreed.

I was glad that God gave me this opportunity and that I acted upon it. I praise Him for bringing to remembrance the Scriptures and words to the hymns that I sang. I am thankful that I could sing them. My voice was crackly and weak, but God used this encounter for His glory.

There are times when we sense the guidance of the Holy Spirit asking us to follow His leading. Are we willing to follow His lead?

Dear Lord, help us to recognize Your leading and to be willing to follow through and do Your will. Help us to overcome our timidity, and give us opportunities today to be Your helpers in assisting others in their time of need. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

God's App

Jeremiah 10:23 (NIV)
Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own;
    it is not for them to direct their steps.

Last winter, a powerful blizzard ripped through North Dakota causing white-out conditions which stranded hundreds of motorists across the state. “Snow whipped up by wind marred the lines between pavement and grassy drop-offs, leaving some scared motorists unsure what to do,” reports Dave Kolpack.

Two software developers have developed an application (an “app”) for iPhone and Android smartphone users that can help people in these dangerous situations. Bob Bertsch, an employee with the North Dakota State University Extension Service, and Jake Joraanstad, an NDSU computer engineering major, designed the free app called “Winter Survival Kit” to be both “a primer to help motorists prepare for winter driving and a beacon when things go badly,” according to Kolpack. The app can pinpoint a motorist's location, call 911, notify friends and family, and monitor how long the gasoline in the vehicle will hold out. Stranded motorists can also tap a big red button that reads “I’m Stranded!” on the app’s simple home screen to send out an emergency alert.

"It's our sincere hope that no one ever has to use it," said Bertsch. "But if one person does have to use it and it keeps them in their car or keeps them from succumbing to carbon monoxide poisoning, then it is definitely worth the time and effort that was spent on the app."

Consider another “APP”lication…

Life can be as confusing – and even dangerous – as white-out conditions in a blizzard. Jeremiah said, “O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23).

But God has provided an “APP” to give us help, guidance, and instructions for the abundant life now (John 10:10) and eternal life to come (Mark 10:29-30). The APP is the Bible, God’s Word. The Psalmist declared, “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).

This APP informs us of our lost condition in sin and how, in sin, we are doomed to destruction (Romans 3:23; 6:23; Matthew 7:13-14). However, this APP also proclaims the Good News (the Gospel) that God loves us so much that He gave His Son to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16). Through Jesus, we can have LIFE – abundant and eternal (John 10:10; 14:6)!

In order to enjoy these blessings and be saved, we must APPLY the “APP” to our lives. God has promised to save those who will place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). Those who continue to follow the APP’s instructions will continue to have their sins washed away by the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:7).

Won’t YOU APPLY God’s APP (His Word) to your life so that you may know the Way to life eternal?

Dear Lord we pray that today we would share this great APP that You have provided for us. Help us share it with those that need it today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Are You Ready to Serve?

Psalm 92:14-15 (NASB)
14 They will still yield fruit in old age;
They shall be full of sap and very green,
15 To declare that the Lord is upright;
He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.

As a weather buff the story of world's largest weather-vane intrigued me. Yukon is the home to the to it.
Much to my amazement the weather-vane was a DC3, a Douglas plane serial No. 4665!

With a length of 64 feet 5.5 inches and a wingspan of 95 feet, this plane swivels around at the top of a pedestal, always faithfully pointing into the wind. No wonder it is the largest weather-vane in the world!
This particular DC3 hasn't always been a weather-vane  however. It was built in August 1942, during World War II, and its first mission, under the disguise of camouflage, was to transport goods into India and China.

After the war it was acquired by the Canadian authorities and issued registration "CF-CPY". It flew many routes throughout Canada, especially in the Yukon. With a total flying time of 31,581 hours, it can certainly be said that it served its country well!

The CF-CPY's usefulness appeared to end however, one fateful day in November 1970, when it crashed. It wasn't until seven years later that the Yukon Flying Club undertook the task of restoring the plane, and after 4 years of work, it is now mounted on its pedestal to forever show the citizens of Whitehorse what direction the wind is blowing. It would seem that despite the crash, the usefulness of this particular DC3 carries on!

Reflecting on this, I realize that once someone retires from active duty, the "golden years" sometimes turn out to be stale and lifeless. But they don't have to be! One's usefulness is only over when we let it be over!

I read of a lady who had dreamed her entire life of becoming a missionary to China. She was never able to fulfill her dream until after she had retired! She then went through the training, applied to the mission’s board, and began serving in China. Just before this lady left the western world, she was diagnosed with cancer. This didn't stop her, however. To her it didn't matter where you died, as long as you were in the will of the Lord when you did!

I heard of another elderly gentleman who was dying in his hospital bed. Most would think that his usefulness was completely used up, but one night he took the time to talk about Jesus with a fellow patient. He was able to lead this roommate to the Lord, and his dying words were, "Another one out of the grasp of Satan!"

I know of young people who couldn't care less if they were useful in life or not. If they could have their own way, they would lie on the coach and watch T.V. 24/7! So as you can see, one's usefulness is not restricted by age. Rather it is lack of determination and willingness that restricts usefulness!

What are you plans with your life? How will You serve God?

Dear Lord, we pray that we would serve You no matter what stage of life we are in. Help us be willing to serve right where we are. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.