Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanks-Living

Thanks-Living is a lifestyle easily read,
Saying "thank you" is too little heard
And too little said.
For what we have and what will be ours,
We humbly give thanks,
At these most gracious hours.

Thanks-Living is a lifestyle all should embrace,
Giving thanks daily,
For God's gift of amazing grace.
To God goes all the honor, glory and praise,
In word and deed,
His banner we joyfully raise.

On this Thanksgiving, may Thanks-Living become
Your lifestyle of blessing
For those you live among.
Saying to those you know and love so well,
Thanks-Living is a way of life,
In which I will choose to daily excel.

-- George David Denson


#3557

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A GENEROUS LOAN

With what presumption have we dared to voice
"Thank You for home (although we hold the deed),
Our acre, trees, and flowers (ours by choice),
Our faithful dog and cat (though it's agree
No one can own the latter), each good book
(A gift, or purchased), all else we foresaw
That we should cherish, and have made to look
Ours by possession (nine points of the law)."

With what presumption have we called them ours,
And even felt unselfish when we shared them--
When, if the truth be known, they have been Yours
From the beginning, Lord! You have prepared them
For us to borrow, using as our own:
So thank You, Father, for this generous loan. 

-- Elaine V. Emans


#3556

Monday, November 24, 2014

THANKSGIVING IN OUR LIVES

One of the most positive ways to end the day -- even the worst of days -- is to pause and consider where thanksgiving is appropriate in our lives.  We may begin by being grateful for such basic things as breath, adequate food, shelter, the capacity for thought, and gradually become aware of little, unnoticed events that were causes of joy during a day that may have seemed very routine.  The smile by the woman at the checkout counter; the first crocus in bud, evidence of approaching spring; the Scripture verse that came to mind; the memory of some act of kindness on the part of a neighbor; all these, as they are recalled, begin to change our perspective of life and of God.

Remembering makes the waiting time more bearable, for it fills the present emptiness with hope and allows God to be bigger than the present moment might suggest.

-- Elizabeth J. Canham in  "How Long, O Lord?" from The Weavings Reader, John S. Mogabgab, editor, published by The Upper Room, Nashville, TN.   Used with permission.


#3555

Friday, November 21, 2014

LOVE LIFTED ME

Some years ago, Bishop Willis J. King, the first African American bishop in America to receive a Ph.D. in Old Testament, told a true story that touched me deeply. Upon his graduation from Wiley College, he went back home to spend a few days with his parents. He showed them his degree. He was so proud of it. Then he announced, "Tomorrow I'm going to go to the downtown bank, and I'm going to borrow $500 to buy my first automobile."

The next morning, as he was about to leave, his father said to him, "Son, don't you want me to go with you and cosign your note?" He answered, "No, Dad, I can take care of this by myself. After all, I've got my degree now." And so he went on downtown to the bank.

The bank manager said to the young man, "So you want to borrow $500. Tell me, what do you have for collateral? If you're going to get $500 from this bank, you've got to have something of equal value." "Oh yes, sir," young King said, "I've got my degree." The bank officer relied, "Son, I'm sorry, but we can't use the degree as collateral for $500. I'm afraid you'll just have to go elsewhere."

King was in a state of embarrassment and failure when he heard a familiar voice. His dad said, "Son, I've come to cosign your note." "But, Dad," King said, "you can't even write. All you can do is make an "X'." And the banker said, "It may be true that your dad can't write and all he can do is make an 'X'. But I want to tell you something. It's that 'X' that got the loan to get you into school. It's that 'X' that got the loan to keep you in school, and it's that 'X' that got the loan that got you out of school. And if you are going to get a loan from this bank to buy a car, it's that same 'X' that's going to get the loan for you!"

King said that as he watched his dad make an "X" on the bank document, he realized that if you turn the "X" just a bit, it made the sign of the cross.

Bishop King summed up that story like this: "In that moment, I realized something more powerfully than ever before -- namely, how inadequate I am, how needy I am, how insufficient I am alone, and how on Calvary's cross, Jesus cosigned my note! I wouldn't be here tonight if he hadn't. Love lifted me, when nothing else could help. Love lifted me." 

-- "Unlearned Lessons: Excerpts from Zan Holmes," New World Outlook, July/August 1993, as quoted by James W. Moore in When You're a Christian, the Whole World Is from Missouri


#3554

Thursday, November 20, 2014

NOURISHMENT FOR STRENGTH

A church goer wrote a letter to the editor of the newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday. "I've gone for 30 years now," he wrote, "and in that time I have heard something like 3,000 sermons. But for the life of me I can't remember a single one of them. So I think I'm wasting my time and the pastors are wasting theirs by giving sermons at all."

This started a real controversy in the "Letters to the Editor" column, much to the delight of the editor. It went on for weeks until someone wrote this clincher: "I've been married for 30 years now. In that time my wife has cooked some 22,000 meals. But for the life of me, I cannot recall what the menu was for a single one of those meals. But I do know this: they all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me those meals, I would be dead today."

No comments were made on the sermon contents anymore.

-- Unknown


#3553

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

GOD'S SPIRIT WITH US

You are, I'm sure, familiar with the myth of the "self-made man." But, the truth is that there is no such thing. If you really break apart any life, and examine it closely, you will discover the kernel of truth that everyone stands on the shoulders of someone else. In every life, there are teachers, parents, friends, co-workers, mentors, who have helped a so-called "self-made" person get to where they are today. No one really does it alone. But as Christians, we not only believe this, we believe in the one step more. We believe that not only do others help us along the way, but also that we truly do nothing without the aid and presence of God's Spirit with us.

-- Copyright Eric Folkerth 2000. All Rights Reserved. (Used with Permission)


#3552

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

THE ONLY ADEQUATE RESPONSE

"A bright cloud came over them, and a voice from the cloud said, 'This is My beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with Him. Listen to Him.' " (Matthew 17:5 NLT)

Jesus is more than just a great leader, a good example, a good influence, or a great prophet. He is the Son of God. When you understand this profound truth, the only adequate response is worship. When you have a correct understanding of Christ, you will obey Him.

-- from the Life Application Study Bible


#3551

Monday, November 17, 2014

JOHN WESLEY'S IMPACT

I invested much of my youthful energies in seeking to be an effective preacher, so I was tempted to compute my success in terms of how many people might be attracted to my preaching. But in the reading of [church] history, for example, I learned that something more than preaching would validate the effectiveness of my ministry.

[In the 1700's] George Whitefield could easily have claimed a much larger number of responses to his preaching than could John Wesley. But soon after both men were dead, it was clear that Wesley's work would impact future generations far more than Whitefield's. The reason? Wesley organized his followers into classes (a form of small groups); Whitefield never did. I came to understand that preaching without the reinforcement of deep community isn't really worth all that much.

-- Gordon MacDonald


#3550

Friday, November 14, 2014

GROWING IN CHRIST

"So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!"  (2 Corinthians 5:17 NRSV)

Salvation is the process that's done, that's secure, that no one can take away from you. Sanctification is the lifelong process of being changed from one degree of glory to the next, growing in Christ, putting away the old, taking on the new.

-- Max Lucado


#3549

Thursday, November 13, 2014

YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED

"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God -- not because of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9 (RSV)

Into the depth of our predicament the word is spoken from on high: "By grace you have been saved through faith!" To be saved does not just mean to be a little encouraged, a little comforted, a little relieved. It means to be pulled out like a log from a burning fire. You have been saved! We are not told: you may be saved sometimes, or a little bit. No, you have been saved, totally and for all times. You? Yes, we! Not just any other people, more pious and better than we are, no, we, each one of us.

-- Karl Barth


#3548

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

THE WORD OF LIFE

The Bible is the Word of life.  I beg that you will read it and find this out for yourself.  When you have read the Bible you will know it is the Word of God, because you will have found in it the key to your own heart, your own happiness, and your own duty.

-- Woodrow Wilson, 28th U.S. President


#3547

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

FOR ALL THOSE VETERANS

Loving God, we remember all those who have served in our country’s armed forces to preserve the freedoms You have granted us. We ask Your blessing for the men and women who currently serve in the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and National Guard. Bless also the family members who have made great sacrifices in order to make it possible for their loved ones to be on watch at home, or around the world, or to go into harm’s way.

For all those veterans who have been willing to lay down their lives for us, for the veterans of past wars who bear scars in their bodies and spirits, and for veterans who came home but couldn’t “fit in” with their families or communities anymore, we ask Your healing grace, gentle comfort, and abiding strength.

Keep all our veterans in Your care today. Grant them the peace they sought to preserve for others. Teach all Your people the ways of peace, so that those who have sacrificed so much will not have done so in vain. We pray all these things in the name of Your son, our savior, Jesus Christ.

-- Adapted from “Litany for Veterans Day” by Eileen Norrington


#3546

Monday, November 10, 2014

LET THE WALLS FALL DOWN

"For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility." (Ephesians 2:14 ESV)

The politics of division separated Germany on August 13, 1961, when the residents of Berlin woke to a barbed-wire barrier between the communist East and the noncommunist West.  The Cod War had begun.  Soldiers quickly fortified the barrier, creating a concrete wall twelve feet high and over a hundred miles long.  Loved ones were torn apart, and more than two million people attempted to escape East Germany by climbing, vaulting, tunneling, or crashing through checkpoints.  Unsuccessful attempts resulted in more than four hundred deaths.  In 1989, restrictions between the two Berlins were lifted.  The Berlin Wall came down, announcing the end of the Cold War.  Celebrations around the world culminated with Germany's reunification as one country on October 3, 1990.  Though now free, a city and a nation had been divided by disagreement, laws, and treaties, culminating in a literal wall of separation.  Laws lead to walls.

In the same way, laws and legalism kept the nation of Israel and other nations divided by a wall of prejudice.  But two thousand years ago, a babe in a manager heralded the end of the Cold War between the Jews and Gentiles.  Jesus tore down the spiritual wall of separation.  Let the walls fall down!

-- Lenya Heitzig and Penny Pierce Rose in Pathway to God's Treasure: Ephesians


#3545

Friday, November 7, 2014

SPRINGING FROM EXPERIENCE

A minister colleague of mine preached a sermon recently where he told of how a young man came up to him, after church, and asked my colleague to pray, "that I might be anointed to preach like you." Now, this colleague has had a rough several years. He has been involved in some pretty serious personal scandals that have rocked his church and his family. He has been near the bottom. But through forgiveness, prayer, and a lot of healing, he and his family and his church are all being restored.

The point being that this colleague now preaches the way he does because of the suffering he's had to do. And so, the colleague told this young man, "You don't know what you're really asking for."

But the young man was insistent that he wanted my colleague to pray for him, so that he might preach like my colleague. So, finally, they went back to the front of the church, and the minister began to pray for the young man, "Lord, take this young man down to the depths. Tear apart all of his comfort and his security. Take away all he trusts and believes in..."

At that point, the young man jumped up and said, "Hey, that's not what I wanted you to pray!!!" To which my colleague replied, "Well, if you want to preach like me, you're going to have to experience those things for yourself."

-- Copyright Eric Folkerth 2000. All Rights Reserved. (Used with Permission)


#3544

Thursday, November 6, 2014

SUMMONING GOD'S GRACE

The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed fervently for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect himself from the elements, and to store his few possessions.

One day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened; everything was lost. He was stunned with grief and anger. “God, how could you do this to me?” he cried.

Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. “How did you know I was here?” asked the weary man of his rescuers. “We saw your smoke signal,” they replied.
It is easy to get discouraged when things are going badly. But we shouldn't lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and suffering.

Remember, next time your little hut is burning to the ground; it just may be a smoke signal that summons the grace of God.

-- Source Unknown


#3543

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A BRILLIANCE OF LIGHT

If the mercy of God is so great that He can instruct us, to our salvation, even when He hides Himself, what a brilliance of light we must expect when He reveals Himself!

--  Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) in Pensees


#3542

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

EXCEEDINGLY ABUNDANTLY

"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…" (Ephesians 3:20 WEB)

Is there such a thing as an "impossible dream"?  One small-minded man living in the nineteenth century believed so.  When asked if he thought it would be possible for men to fly in the air like birds, he responded skeptically, "Flight is strictly reserved for the angels, and I beg you not to repeat your suggestion lest you be guilty of blasphemy!"  Ironically, the man was Milton Wright, father of Orville and Wilbur -- two men who dreamed big dreams.  Only thirty years later near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, they made their first flight in a heavier-than-air machine, the prototype for modern airplanes.  They proved that impossible dreams can come true.

The apostle Paul wanted Christians to believe that the impossible is possible with God.  He wanted them to understand that impossible prayers can come true through the ability of a God who can do exceedingly abundantly above all that you ask or think.  Go ahead, dream big dreams, then pray impossible prayers.  God can make them soar!

-- Lenya Heitzig and Penny Pierce Rose in Pathway to God's Treasure: Ephesians


#3541

Monday, November 3, 2014

A BETTER PLACE

One of the things Randy Alcorn accomplishes in his chapter on heaven in Game Plan for Life is to quiet our misconception that life after death for the Christian is going to be boring. A never-ending church service. All Christmas carols and choir books.

Actually, the Bible says heaven will be a total experience of newness that touches everything about us and everything we do. Not just better singing and sermons. Not just better food options at church potlucks. Better everything. The very best of everything. Renewed, remade, reborn.

God has promised, "I will create new heavens and a new earth" (Isaiah 65:17), meaning that while we're going to live in a place we've never been before, it will contain perfected elements of things we've always known. But instead of fatigue and physical limitations, we'll have total freedom of enjoyment. Instead of sin's empty promises, we'll know constant satisfaction. Instead of having to lock our doors and watch our backs, we'll learn what it really means to live without fear. Of anything.

Don't go worrying that God is baiting you with free gift offers that are going to end up being a time-share presentation. These new heavens and new earth are His gift of undying, undiluted life to you. It's definitely something you don't want to miss.

-- Joe Gibbs in his blog Game Plan for Life: Two-Minute Drills


#3540