Monday, January 20, 2020

A PERSONAL PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name! For the Lord is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations.”  (Psalm 100:4-5)

Dear God: Thank You for Your amazing power and work in my life; thank You for Your goodness and for Your blessings over me. Thank You that You are able to bring hope through even the toughest of times, strengthening me for Your purposes. Thank You for Your great love and care. Thank You for Your mercy and grace. Thank You that You are always with me and will never leave me. Thank You for Your incredible sacrifice on the cross that I might have freedom from sin and life beyond measure. Forgive me for when I don't thank You enough, for who You are -- Father, Son and Spirit; for all that You do; for all that You've given. Help me to set my eyes and my heart on You afresh. Renew my spirit, fill me with Your peace and joy. I love You and I need You, this day and every day. I give You praise and thanks, for You alone are worthy! Amen.

-- Adapted from "The Power of Gratitude: 21 Verses of Thanks to God" by Debbie McDaniel


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Friday, January 17, 2020

GOD’S HEALING COMMUNITY

“For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”  (Romans 12:4-5)

The church is God’s healing community. We are not created to be alone; we were made for community and family. The Bible speaks of the power and strength of community, especially holy community. We give and draw strength from one another.

One of the tragedies that I have noted over the years is that too often the wounded tend to draw away from the church rather than to it. But those who hang in with their church feel a strength, concern, and a loving, healing touch they can get nowhere else.

-- James W. Moore and Bob J. Moore in “Lord, Give Me Patience!... And Give It to Me Right Now!”


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Thursday, January 16, 2020

THE NATURAL OUTCOME OF PREACHING CHRIST

“[Paul and Barnabas] preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith.”  (Acts 14:21-22 NIV)

Paul, the sometime tent maker and sometime fully supported missionary, established local churches wherever he went. Yet it is perhaps misleading to think his church planting as a strategy. Paul didn’t establish these communities merely as a means to an end, as though evangelism was more important than community, or as though he measured the success of the kingdom in terms of numbers rather than the quality of life which people experienced in these churches. Instead, these communities were the natural outcome of preaching Christ. They are also God’s appointed way of experiencing and demonstrating the Gospel’s power to transform people’s lives.

-- Mark Strom in “The Symphony of Scripture: Making Sense of the Bible’s Many Themes”


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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

CALLED TOGETHER BY GOD

“God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our LORD.”  (1 Corinthians 1:9 NIV)

Central to the Bible’s description of the church is the idea of “call.” It is cradled in the word most often used to designate the church, the Greek term “ekklesia,” which is built upon the root of the verb meaning “to call.” The “ekklesia,” then, is the community called together by God and sent forth into the world to serve in His name.

The church, as the Bible describes it, is more than an aggregation -- people who have chosen to come together, as American culture preaches. It is a congregation, a people called together by the Word of God, the gospel of Christ’s love and forgiveness. God comes first, then the church. His call to salvation precedes the gathering of the people. As the apostle Paul puts it, we are called into “the fellowship of God’s Son.” That fellowship is the essence of the Christian community life and the Christian mission to the world.

-- Bruce Shelley & Marshall Shelley in “The Consumer Church”


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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

GOD’S SOVEREIGN POWER AND TENDER CARE

"See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and He rules with a mighty arm… He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.” (Isaiah 40:10-11 NIV)

The juxtaposition in this passage of God’s sovereign power and His gentle care of His sheep is striking. The arm of the Lord in Scripture is always a symbol of His mighty power and strength; and the title “shepherd,” when used of God, always indicates His tender care and constant watchfulness.

In this passage, God’s sovereign power and tender care are united for the benefits of His people. The same arm that is exercised in power over all the universe is used to gather His lambs and to carry them close to His heart. No more picturesque symbol of God’s love for us can be given than that of the faithful and tender Shepherd carrying His lambs close to His heart. And we are carried in the arms of sovereign power.

-- Jerry Bridges in “Trusting God”


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