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Work of God

couple reading book on couch
 
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (ESV)

We hear the preacher remind us to share the Good News.  We are called to support Gideons International as they take the world of God into our community and throughout the world.  We are called to support missions on faraway continents.  This is the work of God.

The work of God also happens closer to home.  As a matter of fact, the work of God should be accomplished in our homes!

Our greatest mission work is accomplished within the realm of family.  As parents and grandparents we are given the responsibility and the privilege of sharing the Good News of Jesus with our children and our grandchildren.

The Lord has established the family and the home as the primary place that faith building occurs.  The Church assists the parent in training up a child in the nurture of the Lord.  The Sunday School, the Christian day school and the Youth Group serve to assist parents in faith development of children.

It is the duty of the home to provide growth of the body through proper nourishment; growth of the mind through solid education and growth of faith by fostering an environment where the Word is shared, prayers are spoken and the faith openly lived.
 
Loving Lord, You created us and placed us into families that we would be nurtured in faith, hope and love.  Grant to us Your Holy Spirit that parents would see and embrace their privilege of raising their children in the faith.  We pray this to your glory.  Amen.  

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Wait, Wait, There’s More! (Part 2)

Faith Wallpaper, Wallpaper Of Faith

And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Mark 5:25-18

Those TV commercials that sell the magic chopper, tube of caulk or set of knives always promise something more. But besides telling you that you are getting two magic choppers for $19.95, they also tell you to hurry. If you call within the next 30 minutes, then you get the second set of knives free, plus a separate charge for shipping and handling of course. There’s a deal here but don’t wait. Hurry!

Jairus would have understood that urgency. In Monday’s devotion we left Jairus as he hurried Jesus along to his house to heal his desperately ill daughter. But wait, Jairus, there’s more here!  This woman has come through the crowd to be healed. She is the complete opposite of Jairus as she comes without notice and hopes to touch Jesus for an instant only. But wait, there’s also more for her.

The healing comes instantly just as she hoped, but then Jesus stops walking. To everyone’s’ surprise, and likely to Jairus’ annoyance, Jesus wouldn’t go forward until the woman came forward and he could assure her that her faith had made her well and she could go in peace. What a wonderful blessing beyond merely the hidden touch. She could go home in peace and wake up the next morning confident that her healing was complete.

Meanwhile Jairus has had to wait. But don’t despair, Jairus. Jesus knows exactly what he is doing and what is happening. Even when it seems that Jesus has taken time and energy to solve a problem that is not life-threatening, while Jairus’ daughter is actually dying, it will all work out.

Perhaps as you begin this new year, you feel like Jairus. Your needs are crushing and urgent. And yet, you see God healing others and solving problems that don’t seem nearly as important as yours. Wait, wait, there’s more to come. Have the faith of the woman who hoped for only a brief touch and got so much more. Stay near Jesus to hear him say to you also, “Your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

Our heavenly Father, thank you that you see all our needs, large and small. While our own needs seem so big, remind us that you have all of us in your hands and in your time, you bring us your answer, more than we had expected. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen


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Your Faith Journey

white ceramic teacup with coffee
 

I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.  II Timothy 1:3-7 (ESV)

I woke up each morning as a child and made my way to the kitchen where my mother sat reading her Bible with a cup of tea.  I remember as a child, visiting my grandparents, where grandpa offered the most amazing prayers at the dinner table.  I recall a conversation about heaven that our family had at the dinner table when I was young.  My father simply and clearly said he was going to heaven because he had a faith in Jesus.  Mrs. Fleugel, my 4th grade Sunday School teacher impressed upon me the joy of reading the Bible.  My wife loves to study her Bible and live out its truths in her daily life.  These and many other people, were a definite influence on my faith journey.

The Lord established our relationships in such a way that we have such ample opportunity to share our faith in both words and actions.

Who are the people who influenced you in the Christian walk?

Let me keep today’s devotion short and to the point.

  • Take a moment to offer the Lord a prayer of thanks for those He placed in Your life to provide encouragement and direction in Your faith walk.
  • Make contact with these people and thank them for the influence they had on you.
  • Pray that the Lord would use you to make a positive difference in the lives of those within your circle of influence.

Heavenly Father, You are so good to me in so many ways.  I thank You for the gift of faith You have given to me through the power of Your Word by the working of Your Holy Spirit.  Allow me the privilege to be an influencer through my relationships.  I ask this to Your glory and the benefit of others.  Amen.  


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Wait, Wait, There’s More! (Part 1)

Don'T Give Up, Motivation

Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her so that she may be made well and live. And he went with him. Mark 5: 22-23

I love those TV commercials that sell the miracle chopper, the amazing tube of caulk, or the fantastic set of knives. They’re usually priced at $19.95, plus shipping. But wait, wait, there’s more!

There’s always something more. That’s the fun of watching. I don’t want the chopper, the caulk or the knives, but I like betting on what the “something more” is going to be. A second chopper, another tube of caulk, or maybe the extra paring knife. No matter if I guess right or not, there’s always something more.

The Gospel of Mark could be called the Gospel of Something More. Mark often begins a story, such as the healing of the daughter of Jairus. But before we get to the climax of the story, another story comes and Mark tells us that account. Then, he returns to the first account and tells us the ending that we were expecting all along. Instead of rushing forward, Mark trains us to be patient and to trust that the conflict will be resolved and the healing done.

As we start the new year, maybe we’re at the beginning of a story told slowly and in parts. We might want to rush forward and find out exactly what’s going to happen to us. After all, we might, like Jairus, have serious needs. Couldn’t God just get to the ending now and tell us how this year will turn out?

But God isn’t only about the ending but the journey he takes with us. Jairus would have loved if Jesus had said, “No worries, I’ve just healed your daughter.” But that didn’t happen and Jairus had to take the long journey home, wondering what he would find. But don’t despair, Jairus. Wait, walk, there’s something more coming. And the same advice might come to us. Don’t despair. Don’t give up if you can’t read the end of the story from here. Wait and keep walking and remember that there is more. The greatest “More” is Jesus himself who walks with us and will tell Jairus and us, “Do not fear, only believe.”

Our heavenly Father, thank you for giving us the promise that life has more than what meets the eye. Give us patience and trust in you and continue to walk with us, hearing our prayers, we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen


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God Loves You

heart shape book page close-up photography

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Ephesians 3:17-19

There are things I know that I can’t explain, like why my wife loves me or what makes chocolate so addictive.  St. Paul prayed that you would “know this love that surpasses knowledge.”  See, I can’t explain it adequately.  Even the Holy Spirit ran out of words for your head; he worked in your heart a faith that is more than confessing a creed.  The Holy Spirit gave you a deep down conviction that God loves you even when it doesn’t feel like it and maybe doesn’t look like it.  That love of God got you through some pretty bleak days this past year, times when your heart was breaking and you wanted to be angry at God, times when you head was bursting because you couldn’t figure out what God was doing.  Somewhere way down inside of you, where your spirit and God’s Spirit are united, you just knew that God loved you.  That God’s love is more than a fact, more than a feeling, invites you to have a relationship with him that is more than a sermon.  Your devotional life is where you experience especially the love that surpasses knowledge: reflecting on an especially comforting passage from Scripture, agonizing over an issue in prayer, praising God from somewhere down in your soul, trusting God in a peace that is incomprehensible.

The apostle prayed that “you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”  So, what little corner of your life does God still want to fill with that love?  Maybe it’s that corner where anger has mutated into bitterness and become a defense against ever being hurt like that again.  Maybe it’s that corner where you don’t really believe that anyone could love you, where you’ve hidden behind self-deprecating humor, that corner where you sometimes cry when no one else can hear.  Maybe God wants to fill with his love that corner of your life where pride has locked out other people, where indifference keeps you from hearing them and stubbornness keeps you from needing them.  With what fruits of the Spirit does God want to fill you?  Is it joy to replace your cynicism?  Is it peace to overcome your anxiety?  Is it kindness to soften your gruff edges or patience so that others don’t have such a hard time seeing Jesus in you?  God wants to fill you with his love.  See, when you’re filled up, you’ll overflow.  Then your love will be like God’s love – just because.  Not because people deserve it or situations require it, not because it makes sense or feels right. Just because.

The apostle Paul taught God’s love and lived that love among the Ephesians for longer than in any other church.  But he couldn’t stay with them; so he went one step further.  He prayed for them, that they would know God’s love.  Pastors and teachers come and go.  Family and friends are distanced by jobs and circumstances.  So let us go that one step further and pray for each other that we will all know, really KNOW God’s love.

PRAYER: Father, help me to know your love when I’m not sure of anything else. Fill my heart with your love, so that I have love to share.  I don’t want to be satisfied with just religion.  I want to know you and your love through your Son Jesus.  Amen.


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