By Joseph Prince Ministries New Creation Church
2“Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; do not spare; lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes.
At the end of 2004, during one of our services, the Lord told our church this: “I your God have gone ahead of you and I have already been to your future. I have seen it. And I declare that it is good.”
Although this word was given through me to our church, I believe that it is not only for our church, but also for every member of the body of Christ.
I tell you, when God declares your future good, it will be good! It will be filled with many wonderfully good days!
So what do you do when the Lord tells you that you are going to have a good future loaded with His blessings? You prepare for it! In other words, before the blessings come, before the increase comes, He wants you to enlarge the place of your tent and stretch forth the curtains of your dwellings.
For example, if you are believing God for a child, start reading books on babies and preparing the baby’s room. In fact, prepare to have more than one child. Start looking for a bigger place for your family for God says, “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; do not spare; lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes.” Get ready for expansion!
My friend, God wants you to get ready, and expect such favor and increase in the days ahead that “you shall expand to the right and to the left, and your descendants will inherit the nations, and make the desolate cities inhabited”. (Isaiah 54:3)
Because God has declared your future good, know that you stand on favor ground today. Expect good things to happen to you. Expect to see the favor of God on you and your family. Expect the blessings and increase of the Lord. Expect many good days to show up in your life!
Saturday, October 31, 2009
By Joseph Prince Ministries New Creation Church
Set your mind and heart to seek (inquire of and require as your vital necessity) the Lord your God." (I Chronicles 22:19 AMP)
TODAY'S WORD from Joel and Victoria
What things do you consider a vital necessity in your life? In other words, what can't you live without? Most people would immediately think of food, water, and shelter; but in reality, we can't really live unless our minds and hearts are set on seeking the Lord. Sure, you can exist without seeking Him, but you are called to more than just existence. You are called to live…to thrive…to enjoy your life abundantly!
The good news is that you have complete control over what you set your mind and heart on. You decide what to think about. Today, I encourage you to set your mind and heart on seeking the Lord! Write down your favorite scriptures and commit them to memory. Whenever you can, think about those verses. Think about God and His infinite love. Make a habit of seeking Him and ask Him to reveal Himself to you. When you require the Lord as a vital necessity, you will enjoy living the abundant life He has in store for you!
A PRAYER FOR TODAY
"Heavenly Father, today I choose to set my mind on You. I seek You with my whole heart. Show me Your love and character today. Show me Your ways that I may walk and live closely with You. I love You. In Jesus' Name. Amen."
Friday, October 30, 2009
But the person who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with Him.
– 1 Corinthians 6:17
I once heard about a great man of God who looked in the mirror every day when he put on his suit and said, "Suit, everywhere you go today, God goes in you." And you know, he's right. If you have united yourself to God by receiving Jesus as Lord, everywhere you go today...God goes too!
As believers, we need to start becoming more conscious of that. We need to train ourselves to be constantly aware of God inside of us, talking to us, teaching us, counseling us, empowering us, and enduing us with Himself.
We need to continually remind ourselves that we are one spirit with Him. That means that every time we face a problem, every time we face an evil spirit that tries to influence and hinder our lives, God is facing it too. When we meet those things, God meets them. And He's already overcome them!
Let me encourage you when you get dressed today to look in the mirror and say, "I am united to the Lord and I have become one spirit with Him. Body, everywhere you go today...God goes. God is in you. The power of God is in you. The wisdom of God is in you. The victory of God is in you."
Say that to yourself every day-- many times a day. Keep doing it until you begin to develop the habit of thinking that way. Cultivate a constant awareness of the reality of God living in you!
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
People like to say, “I can forgive, but I cannot forget.” Have you heard that before? Now, in the first place, nowhere in the Bible does God tell you to forgive and then to forget. It is not in the Bible! The devil is adding something here to make the whole thing burdensome.
God only tells us to forgive because God in Christ has forgiven us a debt we cannot pay. When we do this, we do ourselves a favor because harboring bitterness and unforgiveness can sometimes destroy our health!
So just forgive and let God take care of the rest. When you really forgive, sometimes, He makes you forget. But sometimes, you still remember the incident because it was a major thing in your life. Yet, when you look back at it, the pain is no more there. The sting is gone and you are not bitter.
Joseph had forgiven his brothers before they came and bowed before him. He remembered what they did to him, but he did not remember it with bitterness. (Genesis 50:15–21) So you may remember the incident, but the bitterness is gone because you have put the cross in the picture — “God in Christ forgave me. Daddy, I forgive you. Mama, I forgive you. My cousin, I forgive you.”
When you forgive, forgive by faith, not by your feelings. We walk by faith, not feelings. (2 Corinthians 5:7) Some people are waiting for feelings — “I am waiting, Father, for the right emotion to come on me to forgive that person.” That “right emotion” may never come!
No, forgive by faith, and do it once and for all. Spend time in prayer. Take out your diary and write it down: “Father, I bring this person before you. You know what he did to me. Father, as You forgave me through Jesus’ cross, even though I did not deserve it, by faith, I now forgive this person and I let my anger against him go in Jesus’ name. Amen!”
Once you forgive by faith, you will see the sting of bitterness removed from your heart. You will experience the peace and joy of God filling your mind, and see a greater measure of wholeness in your body!
Thursday, October 29, 2009
"Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart…"
(Psalm 24:3-4, NKJV)
TODAY'S WORD from Joel and Victoria
Do you want to see more of God in your life? As believers in Jesus, the Bible says that He makes His home in us, but we have to do our part to develop our relationship with Him. We have to choose to submit our hearts to Him and allow Him to purify us on the inside. We have to constantly guard ourselves and not allow things to come in and contaminate us.
How do you guard your heart? By being selective about what you see and watch on TV. If you don't want to become like the people you see on TV, don't watch them! If you don’t want to end up like the people singing those songs on the radio, you shouldn't listen to them. If you don't want to end up like the people in the magazines, you shouldn't read them. What you give your attention to will shape your heart and character. Give your attention to the Word of God. Give your attention to worship. Open your heart to the Father and ask Him to purify you by His Holy Spirit. As you do, you will rise higher and higher into the abundant life He has for you!
A PRAYER FOR TODAY
"Heavenly Father, I want to see You. Open the eyes of my heart. Purify me and cleanse my heart. Help me make the right choices so that I can honor You today and always. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to You. In Jesus' Name. Amen."
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ...And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. – Ephesians 2:4-6
God has raised us up to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus! That's what the Word of God says. Very few of us have actually dared to believe this. We've uplifted Jesus. We've exalted Him--and rightly so! But at the same time, we've unwittingly belittled what He did by not allowing Him to bring us alongside Him.
That was God's purpose at Calvary: to bring us alongside Jesus. To make us what He already was.
You see, Jesus didn't need exalting. He was exalted before He ever came to this earth. He was already one with the Father. He didn't need to get authority over the devil--He'd never lost it!
He put on a physical body so that He could come to earth as a man and gain authority over sin and sickness, demons, fear, poverty and all the other curses that came when the law of death moved into the earth--and He did it. He succeeded. He mastered everything in the world of the intellect, everything in the physical world.
Before He ascended, He said, "All authority is given unto Me both in heaven and in the earth." Then He turned around and gave that authority to us by giving us His Name.
You and I are the reason Jesus came to earth and died and lived again. He didn't do it for Himself. He did it so He could bring us alongside. So we could wear His Name and wield His authority on the earth. He did it so that we could stand before God and be everything to Him that Jesus is.
When you were born again, you were made the righteousness of God in Christ! So as a born-again believer, dare to receive this message, to meditate on it and to act on it. Go ahead--dare to take your place!
“But if we live in the light, as God is in the light, we can share fellowship with each other. Then the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from every sin. If we say we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:7-8 NCV).
In Biblical fellowship, we should experience authenticity.
Authentic friendships are more than superficial, surface-level chit-chat. They involve genuine, heart-to-heart, sometimes gut-level, sharing.
These friendships develop when we get honest about who we are and what is happening in our lives. They develop when we share our hurts, reveal our feelings, confess our failures, disclose our doubts, admit our fears, acknowledge our weaknesses, and ask for help and prayer.
Unfortunately, this level of authenticity and intimacy is the exact opposite of what we find in many churches. Instead of an atmosphere of honesty and humility, we often become involved in pretending, role-playing, politicking, superficial politeness, and shallow conversation. We begin to wear masks, keep our guard up, and act as if everything is rosy in our lives. These attitudes are the death of real friendship.
It’s only as we become open about our lives that we experience authentic fellowship. The Bible says, “If we live in the light, as God is in the light, we can share fellowship with each other . . . If we say we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves” (1 John 1:7–8 NCV).
The world thinks intimacy occurs in the dark, but God says it happens in the light. We tend to use darkness to hide our hurts, faults, fears, failures, and flaws. But in God’s light, we can bring them all out into the open and admit who we really are.
Of course, being authentic requires both courage and humility. It means facing our fear of exposure, rejection, and being hurt again.
Why would anyone take such a risk?
Because it’s the only way to grow spiritually and be emotionally healthy. The Bible says, “Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed” (James 5:16 MSG).
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
10… I [Jesus] have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
Though Jesus is completely God, He was born completely human. He went through temptation after temptation and conquered every one of them. (Hebrews 4:15) And all that overcoming power is found in His life. And He put that life in you — the life of Christ is in you!
During Jesus’ ministry on earth, He conquered sickness, the winds and waves, the powers of darkness and death. It is His life that brings victory over the devil and all his works. And He put that life in you — the life of Christ is in you!
Finally, Jesus went to the cross. And that life in Him put an end to everything that was natural of the Adamic race — sickness, poverty, failures, pains, curses and death. All that was natural ceased to be in that life of His. But all that was supernatural remained in Him. And He put that life in you — the life of Christ is in you!
Then, Jesus rose from the dead. And in that life of His was added the power of resurrection. And He put that life in you — the life of Christ is in you!
After His resurrection, Jesus went back to heaven to His Father. Today, He is seated at the right hand of God, resting in His finished work, occupying a place of the highest authority. And He put that life in you — the life of Christ is in you!
And because Jesus went back to the Father, the Holy Spirit came to indwell you (John 16:7), so that you will live life with His anointing in you and walk in His overcoming power.
All that Jesus is, God meant for you to be. All that He has, God meant for you to have. All the exciting things that you read in the Bible about Jesus, all the treasures of Him hidden in the Old Testament and the unsearchable riches in Him that you find in the New Testament, all of that life of His, is not out there somewhere. God has deposited all of it in you, so that you can live the abundant life that Jesus came to give you!
"Ask the LORD for rain in the time of the latter rain" (Zechariah 10:1, NKJ).
In the Scripture, rain represents God's favor. This verse is telling us to "ask for rain even though it's raining." What does that mean? You might think, "If it's raining, it doesn't seem like you'd need to ask for it." But God is saying, "My favor is available to you, but you're not going to receive it unless you ask." Right now, God is showering down blessings, healing, promotion, and good ideas. It's raining favor. But we have to do our part to get our words in line with what God wants to do. We have to ask for that favor. We have to call it in if we are going to experience it. We have to release our faith with our words.
This is a great day to be alive! God is pouring out his favor like no other time in history. Right now, it is raining increase. It's raining new ideas. It’s raining promotion. Don't let it pass you by. Start declaring it for yourself, "I am blessed. I am prosperous. I am favored. I am healthy. I am free." Ask for rain in this time of rain, and you’ll see His blessing and provision in every area of your life!
A Prayer for Today
Father in heaven, thank You for Your grace, mercy, and favor. I ask for rain in the time of rain, I ask for increase in Your favor and blessing so I can be a blessing to those around me today and always. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Monday, October 26, 2009
The Sleeping Beauty Waltz, the 1812 Overture, and The Nutcracker Suite were all part of the music of my childhood.
Sometimes a narrator told stories or—as in the case of Tubby the Tuba and Peter and the Wolf—introduced my sisters and me to the sounds of different instruments. In their desire to pass on their love for music, my parents used this method as a teaching tool. It worked! Weaving the classic tales with classical tunes made a powerful impact on us.
When an adult wants to impart important information to a child, it’s often best related in a story because it is more easily understood and enjoyed. Telling children the stories in God’s Word is especially crucial because the Bible’s enduring truth can shape character and show consequences of actions (1 Cor. 10:11). Tiny seeds of faith can be cultivated in fertile soil and help children to see how God has worked in the lives of His followers throughout history. Bible stories also show how God is intimately involved in our lives.
What we have seen God do for us and what He has done for His people throughout history must be passed on to the next generation (Deut. 11:1-21). Their future depends on it. Teach your children well. — Cindy Hess Kasper
Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard! —Crosby
The character of your children tomorrow depends on what you put into their hearts today.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
When he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him. —John 10:4
Last fall my wife, Carolyn, and I were driving up a winding mountain road near our home in Idaho when we came across a large flock of sheep moving down the road toward us. A lone shepherd with his dogs was in the vanguard, leading his flock out of summer pasture into the lowlands and winter quarters.
We pulled to the side of the road and waited while the flock swirled around us. We watched them until they were out of sight, then I wondered: Do sheep fear change, movement, new places?
Like most older folks, I like the “fold”—the old, familiar places. But all is shifting and changing these days; I’m being led out, away from familiar surroundings and into a vast unknown. What new limits will overtake me in the coming days? What nameless fears will awaken? Jesus’ words from John 10 come to mind: “When he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them” (v.4).
We may well be dismayed at what life has for us this year and next, but our Shepherd knows the way we’re taking. And He goes before. He will not lead us down paths too dangerous or too arduous where He cannot help us. He knows our limits. He knows the way to green pasture and good water; all we have to do is follow. — David H. Roper
Child of My love, fear not the unknown morrow,
Dread not the new demand life makes of thee;
Thy ignorance doth hold no cause for sorrow
Since what thou knowest not is known to Me. —Exley
Our unknown future is secure in the hands of our all-knowing God.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
“I will not believe it until I see the nail marks in his hands and…put my hand into his side.” John 20:25
In our world of budgets, long-range planning and computers, don’t we find it hard to trust in the unbelievable? Don’t most of us tend to scrutinize life behind furrowed brows and walk with cautious steps? It’s hard for us to imagine that God can surprise us. To make a little room for miracles today, well, it’s not sound thinking.
We make the same mistake that Thomas made: we forget that “impossible” is one of God’s favorite words.
How about you? How is your imagination these days? When was the last time you let some of your dreams elbow out your logic? When was the last time you imagined the unimaginable?… Has it been awhile since you claimed God’s promise to do “more than we can ask or imagine?” (Eph. 3:20)
Friday, October 23, 2009
All that Jesus made possible becomes mine through the free and loving gift of God on the basis of what Christ accomplished on the cross. And my attitude as a saved and sanctified soul is that of profound, humble holiness (there is no such thing as proud holiness). It is a holiness based on agonizing repentance, a sense of inexpressible shame and degradation, and also on the amazing realization that the love of God demonstrated itself to me while I cared nothing about Him (see Romans 5:8). He completed everything for my salvation and sanctification. No wonder Paul said that nothing "shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:39).
Sanctification makes me one with Jesus Christ, and in Him one with God, and it is accomplished only through the magnificent atonement of Christ. Never confuse the effect with the cause. The effect in me is obedience, service, and prayer, and is the outcome of inexpressible thanks and adoration for the miraculous sanctification that has been brought about in me because of the atonement through the Cross of Christ.
Have you ever been to the beach and seen a small child that is scared of the waves? They desperately try to hold onto their daddy, subconsciously aware that the waves are much more powerful than they are. You can see the fear in their eyes and at times even hear their cries.
I’ve been to the beach countless times. But I’ve never seen a child that was taken out into the waves by their parent, and simply left there to drown. Why? Is it because of the child’s ability to swim like Michael Phelps? Is it because the child has the strength to hold on through the crashing waves? No. It is because their loving parent is holding on to them.
Like that small child at the beach, my Christian walk is a lot like life in the waves. Often, when in the middle of a trial, I am tempted to think that if I can conquer the “waves” and ride them like a professional surfer, I’ll be okay. But the point isn’t riding the waves – its trusting IN them. My hope is that I’m held fast in my Father’s unfailing arms, not in my ability to save myself. I’m safe not because my circumstances tell me so, I’m safe because my Father’s character doesn’t lie. Hope is found, not in conquering my fears, it’s found in trusting my Father.
Trials in my life cause me to look to my Savior for strength. And as He once again proves Himself faithful to me, the result is a deeper trust in God and a joy that goes beyond my circumstances.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:6-9)
Father, help me to trust in you. No trial in my life surprises you. And no trial is outside of your control. Thank you that you are sovereign and good and that I can trust in you, no matter what waves come.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
A while back, I was planting some seeds. As I was putting them in the soil, I began thinking about my life. God has ordained each step and He knows the plans He has for me. But often I feel like I’m just stumbling along blindly, not sure where He is leading. I’m like the seeds. And sadly, there are times instead of trusting the Gardener’s plans for me, I think that I know better. I think I know the type of soil I need to be planted in, the amount of sun and shade I need to properly grow, the amount of rain that would be best for optimal growth, and the type of plant that I’ll grow to be.
But Jesus as my Master Gardener; however, lovingly shows me that I don’t know these things. I don’t know if I will grow to become a flower or a stalk of corn. I don’t know what I need to thrive because I can’t see the end result. But God knows the plans He has for my life. He provides that the care I need based on what type of plant I am. He planted me where I needed to be. He waters me with the exact amount of rain that I need. He places me in the sun because I need that heat to grow. He does all this because He loves me. He cares for me and weeds the garden of my life and at times prunes my little plant because He wants me to grow and bear Him fruit.
When the harvest time comes, because of His work, I pray that He will be glorified through the growth in me. He is the one who ordained my steps. I can trust in Him.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you that you know the plans for my life. Thank you that I can trust you when I can’t see where you are leading. Thank you for the promise that You are leading. Give me grace to trust in You, whether you plant me, uproot me, bring the sun, rain or shade. Your ways are good and I look to You, the God who called me and planted me, to be the God who will continue to guide me every step of the way.
“To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy.” Jude 24
Jude’s epistle calls his readers to persevere in belief. His great effort is contending against false teachers who had crept in and were defiling “the faith that was once and for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). As Jude tells us, God’s judgment is sure against false teachers and those who lead others astray (see verses 4-16). Yet, what is astonishing is that Jude’s call for Christian faithfulness is so straightforward.
Basically, Jude’s word to Christians is to keep in the love of God by (1) building yourself up in faith, (2) praying in the Spirit, and (3) waiting for Christ’s return (see verses 20-21). Building yourself up in faith is not necessarily believing in God more, but rather, in every aspect of life we are to act in light of God’s saving promises. The Gospel should affect the choices we make and how we respond to others. Jude’s phrase praying in the Spirit instructs us that Christian prayer is Spirit-led and not led by our own agenda. If left to ourselves, we would pray in line with our sinful desires and passions – as James 4:3 says, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” Waiting for Christ’s return sums up Jude’s picture of the Christian life. We are not to be anxious, but rather wait on the Lord who has set upon us a sure and unfailing hope of life eternal through his cross.
If all this true, then Jude’s doxology is appropriate. All the glory, forever and forever, is to the Lord who keeps us from stumbling through his power and presents us blameless through the finished work of the Gospel and gives us great joy because in his presence there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11).
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
When I have asked suffering people, “Who helped you?” not one person has mentioned a PhD from a prestigious seminary or a famous philosopher. All of us have the same capacity to help those who hurt.
No one can package or bottle the “appropriate” response to suffering. If you go to the sufferers themselves, some will recall a friend who cheerily helped distract them from their illness. Others think such an approach insulting. Some want honest, straightforward talk; others find such discussion unbearably depressing.
There is no magic cure for a person in pain. Mainly, such a person needs love, for love instinctively detects what is needed. Jean Vanier, who founded the L’Arche movement for the developmentally disabled, says: “Wounded people who have been broken by suffering and sickness ask for only one thing: a heart that loves and commits itself to them, a heart full of hope for them.”
Such a love may be painful for us. But real love, the apostle Paul reminds us, “Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:7).
As is so often His pattern, God uses very ordinary people to bring about His healing. Those who suffer don’t need our knowledge and wisdom, they need our love. — Philip Yancey
O brother man, fold to thy heart thy brother!
Where pity dwells, the peace of God is there;
To worship rightly is to love each other,
Each smile a hymn, each kindly deed a prayer. —Whittier
They do not truly love who do not show their love. —Shakespeare
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
what he or she needs me to be.
I hope that each person's death will diminish me,
but that fear of my own will never diminish my joy of life.
I hope that my love for those whom I like will never lessen
my love for those whom I do not.
I hope that another person's love for me will never
be a measure of my love for him or her.
I hope that everybody will accept me as I am,
but that I never will.
I hope that I will always ask for forgiveness from others,
but will never need to be asked for my own . . .
I hope that I will always recognize my limitations,
but that I will construct none.
I hope that loving will always be my goal,
but that love will never be my idol.
I hope that everyone will always have hope.
Monday, October 19, 2009
One Sunday, the Minister was giving a sermon on baptism and in the coarse of his sermon he was illustrating the fact that baptism should take place by sprinkling and not by immersion.
He pointed out some instances in the Bible.
He said that when John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the River Jordan, it didn't mean in - it meant close to, round about, or nearby.
And again when it says in the Bible that Phillip baptized the eunuch in the river, it didn't mean in - it meant close to, round about, or nearby. After the service, a man came up to the minister and told him it was a great sermon, one of the best he had ever heard, and that it had cleared up a great many mysteries he had encountered in the Bible.
"For instance," he said, "the story about Jonah getting swallowed by the whale has always bothered me.
Now I know that Jonah wasn't really in the whale, but close to, round about, or nearby, swimming in the water.
Then there is the story about the three young Hebrew boys who were thrown into the furious furnace, but were not burned.
Now I see that they were not really in the fire, just close to, round about, or nearby, just keeping warm.
But the hardest of all the stories for me to believe has always been the story of Daniel getting thrown into the lions’ den.
But now I see that he wasn't really in the lions' den, but close to, round about, or nearby, like at the zoo.
The revealing of these mysteries have been a real comfort to me because I am a wicked man.
Now I am gratified to know that I won't be in Hell, but close to, round about, or nearby.
And next Sunday, I won't have to be in church, just close to, round about, or nearby. thanks.
You have really put my mind at ease.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Never discuss your problems with someone incapable of contributing to the solution, because those who never succeed themselves are always first to tell you how. Not everyone has a right to speak into your life. You are certain to get the worst of the bargain when you exchange ideas with the wrong person. Don't follow anyone who's not going anywhere. With some people you spend an evening, with others you invest it. Be careful where you stop to inquire for directions along the road of life. Wise is the person who fortifies his life with the right friendships. If you run with wolves, you will learn how to howl. But, if you associate with eagles, you will learn how to soar to great heights. "A mirror reflects a man's face, but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses". The simple but true fact of life is that you become like those with whom you closely associate - for the good and the bad.
Note: Be not mistaken. This is applicable to family as well as friends. Yes... do love, appreciate and be thankful for your family, for they will always be your family no matter what. Just know that they are human first and though they are family to you, they may be a friend to someone else and will fit somewhere in the criteria above. "In Prosperity Our Friends Know Us. In Adversity We Know Our Friends." "Never make someone a priority, when you are ONLY an option for them." "If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude."
By : Colin Powell
Saturday, October 17, 2009
1. The Bible will still have all the answers.
2. Prayer will still work.
3. The Holy Spirit will still move.
4. God will still inhabit the praises of His people.
5. There will still be God-anointed preaching.
6. There will still be singing of praise to God.
7. God will still pour out blessings upon His people.
8. There will still be room at the Cross.
9. Jesus will still love you.
10. Jesus will still save the lost.
ISN’T IT GREAT TO KNOW WHO IS STILL IN CONTROL?
(Genesis 12:1-2, NLT)
Have you ever worked toward a dream, but felt worn out by the uphill climb? At times like this, you need encouragement–someone to remind you about what it will be like when you get to the finish line. God created us to need each other. You may be facing challenges that you can't overcome on your own; having a friend to walk with you in love can get you through those times. In the same way, you have something to share with others to help them along their journey. God has blessed your life in times of need, and He loves it when you turn that around and start to bless others. You can encourage others in their dreams and cheer them on as they go. When you believe in people, it gives their faith a boost. Your love and acts of kindness may be just what they needed to push on to victory.
Encourage someone today. Share in the dreams God has given them. As you seek to love and bless others, you will start to notice others encouraging you. Be grateful for the people God has put in your life. Praise Him for the help He supplies when you need it most and for opportunities He gives you to share in the successes of people around you.
A PRAYER FOR TODAY
"Heavenly Father, thank You for the people who are there to love and support me. Make me aware of opportunities to bless and encourage others. Help me to reflect Your love in everything I say and do. In Jesus' Name. Amen"
By Joel & Victoria Osteen
Friday, October 16, 2009
A wise Bible teacher once said, “Sooner or later God will bring self-sufficient people to the place where they have no resource but Him—no strength, no answers, nothing but Him. Without God’s help, they’re sunk.” He then told of a despairing man who confessed to his pastor, “My life is really in bad shape.” “How bad?” the pastor inquired. Burying his head in his hands, he moaned, “I’ll tell you how bad—all I’ve got left is God.” The pastor’s face lit up. “I’m happy to assure you that a person with nothing left but God has more than enough for great victory!” In today’s Bible reading, the people of Judah were also in trouble. They admitted their lack of power and wisdom to conquer their foes. All they had left was God! But King Jehoshaphat and the people saw this as reason for hope, not despair. “Our eyes are upon You,” they declared to God (2 Chron. 20:12). And their hope was not disappointed as He fulfilled His promise: “The battle is not yours, but God’s” (v.15).
Are you in a position where all self-sufficiency is gone? As you turn your eyes on the Lord and put your hope in Him, you have God’s reassuring promise that you need nothing more. — Joanie Yoder
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace. —Lemmel
When all you have is God, you have all you need.
We delay or conveniently forget our obligations and promises until it is too late to fulfil or to make amends. Such incidents happen too many times and to many people. Have you ever heard people commenting that they had been too busy to visit their loved ones on their deathbed until it's too late? Or you hear people saying that they had been wanting to meet so and so, but kept postponing until one fine day, the so and so is gone forever and they regret it. These are all the late words.
I was pondering over the weekend how can we determine the value of people around us? One way, I thought, is to check how you would feel when the person in question is dead. This may not be easy for people who had not encountered loss of a loved one as you need to understand the agony and anguish.
So, after you have done the check and it tells you that you will feel absolutely miserable if this person is gone, then pal, it's time to do something NOW before it is too late.
Don't live to regret.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Scottish author Sir Walter Scott faced financial disaster when his publisher went bankrupt in 1826. He was heavily invested in the firm, and it appeared that he would lose everything, including Abbotsford, his castle-like home. A Christian of unwavering faith, he wrote in his journal, “Things are so much worse than I apprehended that I shall neither save Abbotsford nor anything else. Naked we entered the world and naked we leave it. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
A life that doesn’t undergo heartbreaking adversity is rare. Job was not overstating our common experience when he lamented, “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1). Many of us talk about loss and suffering and argue about why evil things happen to good people. But it’s quite different to deal victoriously with the painful experiences that happen to us personally. What we really need in the teeth of affliction is not a plausible explanation but the ability to endure without emotional collapse or spiritual bitterness. We need the sustaining confidence that enables us to believe in God’s love and wisdom (1:21; 2:10).
Pray for an unfaltering faith that stands strong under life’s greatest pressures. — Vernon C. Grounds
O for a faith that will not shrink, Though pressed by every foe, That will not tremble on the brink, Of any earthly woe. —Bathurst
Great faith is often built during great trials.
FOLLOWING a weeklong trip, my wife and I were at our breakfast table gazing out at our porch and lawn. We noticed that our plants were withered and some even seemed to be dead from lack of water. I immediately watered all the plants and started to water the lawn. I thought, Maybe I can still salvage some of the plants.
A short time later, I noticed some of the plants had perked up. They looked as if they were full of life and had been watered all along. What a change!
This experience reminded me of how we humans can feel downtrodden, alone, and hopeless, sometimes relying solely on our own resources to solve our problems. Much like those withered plants, we cannot thrive without spiritual nourishment. We need the living water that only Christ can provide.
Just as the Samaritan woman was given the opportunity to receive the living water of eternal life, we too can receive this living water through faith in Jesus Christ.
Ruben G. Garza (Texas, U.S.A.)
O God, you are the life that sustains us all. Give us faith to drink deeply of the living water you offer. Amen.
The living water that Christ offers will keep our spirit alive and thriving.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Why is being on time so challenging for some of us? Even when we start early, something inevitably gets in our way to make us late. But here’s the good news: God is always on time! Speaking of the arrival of Jesus, Paul said, “When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son” (Gal. 4:4). The long-awaited, promised Savior came at just the right time. Jesus’ arrival during the Roman Empire’s Pax Romana (the peace of Rome) was perfect timing. The known world was united by one language of commerce. A network of global trade routes provided open access to the whole world. All of this guaranteed that the gospel could move rapidly in one tongue. No visas. No impenetrable borders. Only unhindered access to help spread the news of the Savior whose crucifixion fulfilled the prophecy of the Lamb who would be slain for our sins (Isa. 53). All in God’s perfect timing!
All of this should remind us that the Lord knows what time is best for us as well. If you’re waiting for answered prayer or the fulfillment of one of His promises, don’t give up. If you think He has forgotten you, think again. When the fullness of time is right for you, He’ll show up—and you’ll be amazed by His brilliant timing! — Joe Stowell Not ours to know the reason why, Unanswered is our prayer, But ours to wait for God’s own time To lift the cross we bear. —Anon. God’s timing is always perfect.
SEVERAL times I have been invited to share in an unusual form of group prayer. Group members commit to pray daily at particular times for one specific thing. Those who pray can be in one town or spread across the country. What binds us together is the commitment to pray as one voice, at that time. I have prayed with others about a serious career dilemma, cancer, and various national crises. Every time, I was amazed by the sense of community I felt in prayer and the power for change and healing that came to whatever situation we were praying about.
Knowing someone is praying with me, even when that person is far away, means I am not alone. Jesus knew this well. He asked the disciples to “watch” with him and to pray that they might have strength to move through the events to come. (See Mark 14:38.) I believe that he could sense their prayers and could also sense when they stopped praying.
When we commit to pray for someone or about something, we make an important promise. Following through on our commitment gives others gentle, flowing support that is “powerful and effective.”
Barbara Chalfant (Pennsylvania, USA)
Prayer: Loving and responsive God, help us to tell others when we are praying for them, and then remind us of our commitments. Amen.
Thought for the day: Praying with others is a reminder that none of us is ever alone.
Prayer Focus: Those who pray with me
Monday, October 12, 2009
Father’s Day is celebrated in many countries worldwide. Although the origins, activities, and actual day of observance differ widely, they all share the common thread of honoring fathers for their role as parents.
This year for Father’s Day, I’ve decided to do something different. Instead of waiting to receive a card or phone call from my children, I’m sending words of appreciation to them and to my wife. After all, without them, I wouldn’t be a dad. Paul instructed fathers to be a positive part of their children’s development rather than a source of anger and discouragement. He wrote, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (Col. 3:21). Both of these verses are embedded in passages about loving and honoring each other in family relationships.
The role of a father changes as children grow, but it doesn’t end. Praise and encouragement are welcomed whether a child is 4 or 40. Prayer is always powerful. And it’s never too soon to mend a broken relationship with a son or daughter. Fathers, now is a good time to tell your children how much you love and appreciate them. — David C. McCasland Our children need encouragement, Expressions of our love and care; Appreciation, when expressed, Accentuates the bond we share. —Sper The greatest gift a father can give to his children is himself.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
I’ve known my wife for almost seven years and it would seem that I know her pretty well. But every once in a while, she says or does something that surprises me — and I think to myself “Wow, I guess I didn’t know her as well as I thought!” The more time I spend with her, the more I get to know her — her heart, her character — the more we become intimate.
The same is true with any relationship but especially our most important relationship, that is, our relationship with the Lord.
There’s really no going around it. True intimacy doesn’t come in an instant. It takes time. If we want to be close to the Lord, we must spend time with Him — getting to know Him — His heart — His character.
Do you feel distant from the Lord? Let’s commit to spending some special time with Him — not only making requests and telling Him about our problems, but maybe listening a little. Perhaps there are some things He’d like to tell us!
There is much work to do for the Kingdom! Let’s make intimacy with our Father a top priority so that we are able to get that work accomplished!
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Many of the waiters at his restaurant quit their jobs when he changed jobs so they could follow him around from restaurant to restaurant. The reason the waiters followed Jerry was because of his attitude. He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was always there, telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.
Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Jerry and asked him, “I don’t get it! No one can be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?”
Jerry replied, “Each morning I wake up and say to myself, I have two choices today. I can choose to be in a good mood or I can choose to be in a bad mood I always choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I always choose to learn from it. Everytime someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I always choose the positive side of life.”
“But it’s not always that easy,” I protested.
“Yes, it is,” Jerry said “Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice.You choose how you react to situations You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. It’s your choice how you live your life.”
Several years later, I heard that Jerry accidentally did something you are never supposed to do in the restaurant business: left the back door of his restaurant open one morning and was robbed by three armed men. While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him.
Luckily, Jerry was found quickly and rushed to the hospital.
After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released fromthe hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body. I saw Jerry aboutsix months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied, “If I were any better, I’d be twins. Want to see my scars?” I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place.
“The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door,” Jerry replied. “Then, after they shot me, as I lay on the floor, Iremembered that I had twochoices: I could choose to live or choose to die. I chose to live.”
“Weren’t you scared?” I asked.
Jerry continued, “The paramedics were great. They kept telling me. I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the Emergency Room and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read ‘He’s a dead man.’ I knew I need to take action.”
“What did you do?” I asked.
“Well, there was a big nurse shouting questions at me,” said Jerry. “She asked if I was allergic to anything.”
‘Yes,’ I replied.
The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, ‘Bullets!’ Over their laughter, I told them, ‘I am choosing to live. Please operate on me as if I am alive, not dead’.”
Jerry lived thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day you have the choice to either enjoy your life or to hate it. The only thing that is truly yours that no one can control or take from you is your attitude, so if you can take care of that, everything else in life becomes much easier.
But she was not afraid, she knew just what to say. What to tell her classmates of why he wasn’t there today. But still her mother worried, for her to face this day alone. And that was why once again, she tried to keep her daughter home. But the little girl went to school, eager to tell them all. About a dad she never sees, a dad who never calls.
There were daddies along the wall in back, for everyone to meet. Children squirming impatiently, anxious in their seats. One by one the teacher called, a student from the class. To introduce their daddy, as seconds slowly passed. At last the teacher called h er name, every child turned to stare. Each of them was searching, for a man who wasn’t there.
“Where’s her daddy at?”, she heard a boy call out.
“She probably doesn’t have one,” another student dared to shout. And from somewhere near the back, she heard a daddy say, “Looks like another deadbeat dad, too busy to waste his day.”
The words did not offend her,as she smiled up at her Mom. And looked back at her teacher, who told her to go on. And with hands behind her back, slowly she began to speak. And out from the mouth of a child, came words incredibly unique.
“My Daddy couldn’t be here, because he lives so far away. But I know he wishes he could be, since this is such a special day. And though you cannot meet him, I wanted you to know. All about my daddy, and how much he loves me so. He loved to tell me stories, he taught me to ride my bike. He surprised me w ith pink roses, and taught me to fly a kite. We used to share fudge sundaes, and ice cream in a cone. And though you cannot see him, I’m not standing here alone. ‘Cause my daddy’s always with me, even though we are apart. I know because he told me, he’ll forever be in my heart”
With that, her little hand reached up, and lay across her chest. Feeling her own heartbeat, beneath her favorite dress. And from somewhere in the crowd of dads, her mother stood in tears. Proudly watching her daughter, who was wise beyond her years. For she stood up for the love of a man not in her life. Doing what was best for her, doing what was right.
And when she dropped her hand back down, staring straight into the crowd. She finished with a voice so soft, but its message clear and loud.
“I love my daddy very much, he’s my shining star. And if he could, he’d be here, but heaven’s just too far. You see he was a fireman and died just this past year. When airplanes hit the towers and taught Americans to fear. But sometimes when I close my eyes, it’s like he never went away.”
And then she closed her eyes, and saw him there that day. And to her mother’s amazement, she witnessed with surprise. A room full of daddies and children, all starting to close their eyes. Who knows what they saw before them, who knows what they felt inside. Perhaps for merely a second, they saw him at her side.
“I know you’re with me Daddy,” to the silence she called out. And what happened next made believers, of those once filled with doubt. Not one in that room could explain it, for each of their eyes had been closed. But there on the desk beside her, was a fragrant long-stemmed pink rose. And a child was blessed, if only for a moment, by the love of her shining bright star. And given the gift of believing, that heaven is never too far.
Friday, October 9, 2009
One day, a man was walking across a bridge and saw another man standing on the edge, about to jump off. He immediately ran to him and said, “Stop! Don’t do it!” “Well, why shouldn’t I?” he replied. The other said, “Well, there’s so much to live for!” “Like what”? “Well … are you religious or atheist?” “Religious.” “Me too! And are you Christian or Jewish?” “Christian.” “Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?” “Protestant.” “Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?” “Baptist.” “Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?” “Baptist Church of God.” “Me too! Are you Original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?” “Reformed Baptist Church of God.” “Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?” “Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915!” To which he said, “Die, you heretic!” and pushed him off the bridge.
When we get together with our family here in Israel on Shabbat, we often find ourselves discussing and even arguing our views on various topics, political, spiritual, etc. You’ve heard the phrase two Jews, five opinions? That’s our family. At the end, we all laugh about who argued best and try to learn from one another.
The body of the Lord is one big family. Yes, we differ in opinion on some issues. But we are going to be together for eternity and we must learn to live in peace with one another! In order for us to make a real difference in the world, the world needs to see us loving each other.
Let’s not be like the man who pushed the other off the bridge. Let’s laugh about it and try to learn from one another.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
May I meddle for a moment? What is the one thing separating you from joy? How do you fill in this blank: “I will be happy when_________________”? When I am healed. When I am promoted. When I am married. When I am single. When I am rich. How would you finish that statement?
Now, with your answer firmly in mind, answer this. If your ship never comes in, if your dream never comes true, if the situation never changes, could you be happy? If not, then you…need to know what you have in your Shepherd.
You have a God who hears you, the power of love behind you, the Holy Spirit within you, and all of heaven ahead of you. If you have the Shepherd, you have grace for every sin, direction for every turn, a candle for every corner, and an anchor for every storm. You have everything you need.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
An ancient legend tells of a king who walked into his garden one day to find almost everything withered and dying. After speaking to an oak near the gate, the king learned that he was troubled because he was not tall and beautiful like the pine. The pine overheard their conversation and added that she, too, was upset, for she could not bear delicious fruit like the pear tree. The pear tree heard his name and began to complain that he did not have the lovely odor of the spruce. And so it went throughout the entire garden.
Near the very edge of the garden grew a little daisy. As the king approached, he noticed her bright little face, full of life. “Well, little flower,” said the monarch, “I’m glad to find that there is at least one happy face in my garden.”
“Oh king,” she said, “I know I’m little, and not many people notice me, but one day I realized that you if planted me here, you must have had a good reason. So, your majesty, I’ve determined to be the best little flower I can be!”
Our King has planted a beautiful garden. Not one of us is greater than the next. It is his His perfection.
We must come to a place where we trust that God has a reason for creating us the way He has and has planted us in just the place he desired. Comparing ourselves with one another will only make us wither. When we become satisfied in His creation (that is us), that’s when we’ll find true happiness”.. and we will shine.
Let’s give God our all our disappointments and be determined to be the best that we can be for Him!
In 490 B.C., the Athenians won a crucial and decisive battle over the forces of King Darius I of Persia, on a plain near the Greek coastal town of Marathon. Upon delivering the important message of their victory, the Greek soldier who came to tell the good news died — he had completed the 26 mile course running and bearing good news, and did it totally unreserved until the moment he died. Today marathons are run all over the world, commemorating that event 2500 years ago.
Anyone who has run a marathon can tell you how difficult the race is. No matter how good you are, how well trained, how prepared, there are times in the race you just want to quit. But those who persevere till the end receive a prize. Back in King Darius’ day, one would win only a crown made of laurel leaves. Today, athletes compete for trophies and medals. But in God’s race, we win something far more precious — a crown that is incorruptible.
I bet you’re tired today. You are done… overworked, overstressed, overwhelmed. But be encouraged! Just when you think you can’t run any further, you can! C’mon! Press through and press on for the great prize! God is with us, strengthening our feeble knees and moving us in the right direction!! There’s so much work to be done!
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
A giant ship engine failed. The ship’s owners tried one expert after another, but none of them could figure but how to fix the engine. Then they brought in an old man who had been fixing ships since he was a young. He carried a large bag of tools with him, and when he arrived, he immediately went to work. He inspected the engine very carefully, top to bottom.
Two of the ship’s owners were there, watching this man, hoping he would know what to do. After looking things over, the old man reached into his bag and pulled out a small hammer. He gently tapped something. Instantly, the engine lurched into life. He carefully put his hammer away.
The engine was fixed! A week later, the owners received a bill from the old man for ten thousand dollars.
‘What?!’ the owners exclaimed. ‘He hardly did anything!’ So they wrote the old man a note saying, ‘Please send us an itemized bill.’
The man sent a bill that read:
1. Tapping with a hammer. ………..$ 2.00
2. Knowing where to tap……… ….. $ 9,998..00
Moral of the story: Effort is important, but knowing where to make an effort in your life makes all the difference.
We understand that family also matters.
But sometimes, we confused in certain phase in our life, what matters most?
Because we think that something is important,
sometimes we put it on top of the others.
Sometimes it is because of a work urgent.
Or whenever there is a rush request in the work,
it makes us “forget” that we still have family.
At the end, we realized that we sort of “abandoned”
our family due to work urgency.
In fact, what affecting us most is first God, second Family,
over the job/work. So we should firstly take care our relationship
with God at the first place.
Once we can take it in a good care of it, then
we can move to our family. Then, later we come to work.
Monday, October 5, 2009
When we get into really depressed periods of our lives, we are often advised to count our blessings. There’s a great old hymn with that theme, and certainly it is good advice. The happy people are the ones who focus on what they DO have, not what they don’t.
There is always something for which we can be thankful, and gratitude is what heals the heart. But as helpful as it is to count our blessings, that advice is only the beginning. The larger, more important question is, “WHY have I been given these things?”
We almost never go there. The reigning assumption about God in America seems to be that God exists in order to improve my life. It’s all about me. If I live right, God will give me good things. If something goes wrong in my life, I’m being punished. If I get something wonderful, it is a well-earned reward or a sign of God’s love for me. Well, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that God does love each one of us as individuals. God hears our prayers, has the hairs on our heads numbered, and cares about both the large and small things in our lives. The bad news is that God does not separate us out as individuals from the larger group of the human family. This is really hard for Americans to understand, but it is critical in understanding what the Bible has to say.
The Bible details salvation history…not the salvation of individuals, but the salvation of God’s people. It is always about the group first, and the individual second. The Israelites clung to the promise of a savior, generation after generation for thousands of years. They didn’t stop believing that God answered prayer just because they didn’t see it in their own lifetime, because they knew it wasn’t just about them. It was about God’s promise to a people, and ultimately to the world.
Let’s go back and look at the passage from Genesis. It’s a famous passage… God’s call to Abraham. All three monotheistic religions--Judaism, Islam, and Christianity--trace their roots back here, to this one man, and his faithful response to God’s call.
God’s call to Abraham is asking him to take a great leap of faith, to leave the only home he has ever known and to venture to someplace he has never heard of. In return, God offers him a blessing, a blessing for Abram and his descendants. Now that much we would expect. Okay, God, if you’re going to ask me to do something scary and wild like that, there had better be something in it for me. You had better make the path easy and bless me for doing it. We want reward, so that after we have done the hard work, we can sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labors.
But listen to what God actually says to Abraham. “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, SO THAT YOU WILL BE A BLESSING. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH SHALL BE BLESSED.” The reason God blesses Abraham is so that he can turn around and pass that blessing on to others. Not just members of his family or his tribe or his city or his nation, but all the families of the earth.
We are blessed by God in order that we might be a blessing to others. Counting our blessings without then asking how God would like us to use those blessings is simply greed and selfishness. It’s not that we cannot partake in the blessing as individuals.
They are given to us, but they are not given ONLY to us. In one sense they are a reward, they are a reward for faithfulness. But the REASON that God rewards faithfulness is because faithful people share their blessing with others. Once we start keeping all the blessings to ourselves, either as individuals or as a church, we are no longer faithful and the reward will stop.
We need to stop looking at everything as consumers. I want what you will give and I pay you for it. End of transaction. End of blessing. Two people are helped. Instead of paying someone back for a blessing and ending the cycle, a movie a few years back suggested that we should “pay it forward.” If I receive a blessing from Ginny, that I turn around and give a blessing to Mildred who can then give a blessing to Steve who can pass it along to Bill in a never-ending sequence of blessing. Soon all the families of the earth would be blessed.
We find that attitude in the stories of the early church and today in the church in Africa and Asia and Latin America, the places where the church is growing. You don’t find it often in America and Europe, where the church is declining. I think there’s a connection. When you do find it here, you find it in poor churches. It is rare in communities that are middle class and above.
I envy the opportunity you will have shortly to hear the Gospel through the lens of a Korean woman. If you’re like most New England churches, that’s a step out of your comfort zone. You can bet it’s out of her comfort zone as well. And yet God has called you both and you will have the opportunity to hear the good news from the perspective of a culture that natively understands the importance of the group instead of just individuals and a culture where the love of God runs deep and the willingness to sacrifice to spread the Gospel is a given.
When I served on the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry, I had the privilege of interviewing many new folks coming into ministry. One group I will never forget. All those I interviewed in that session had been born outside the US—in Korea, Africa, South America, and the Caribbean. Every one of them had endured things to enter ministry that would have sent me running to be a banker or something. Two had literally been beaten for their faith—one by her own mother. They were persecuted, impoverished, ostracized, imprisoned, and had every obstacle imaginable thrown in their way. But God called and they responded, leaving homeland and in some cases all of their family to follow that call.
I was moved to the core. I went back to the church I was serving at the time and said “Wimps! We’re all wimps! Who am I to sit in judgment over whether these people can enter ministry? They have followed where I doubt I ever would have gone. They have courage I can only dream about and a love of God unmatched either in myself or in my American-born colleagues. We have no idea what it means to sacrifice for our faith. Stop fussing about comfortable pews and organ music and get out there and make disciples!” They looked a bit shell-shocked. But there is a reason that churches in Africa and Asia are sending missionaries to us here in the US. Just as Melissa has given you gifts and opportunities to pass those blessings on to others, you are being given a new set of gifts opportunities in your new pastor. Be sure to thank God for them and to share them.
Zacchaeus understood the concept at a gut level. When Jesus blessed him by agreeing to go to his home—an act that in that culture of hospitality made all sorts of statements about acceptance, friendship, and honor—he didn’t even wait for the dinner to happen before announcing that he would change his corrupt ways and give back four-fold to all those he had defrauded. He didn’t take the blessing and pay Jesus, he used his blessing to bless others.
And what about the blessings we have in our local church? Does our fine music only bless our own members? I know it would never be true of this church, but there are some churches that keep the good news of the Gospel contained in the church walls and you can only get it if you go there for just a brief hour on a Sunday morning. Jesus called his disciples out of their homes and comfortable lives to take the good news out to those who had not heard. There would be no story of Zacchaeus if Jesus had stayed in the synagogue. There would be no nation of Israel if Abraham had not been willing to get up off his duff and leave the city.
We are blessed to be a blessing for all the nations of the earth. It’s true of our possessions, but it’s also true of our talents. God has blessed me with a talent for writing. God has blessed many with amazing musical gifts. Some share their teaching gifts or administrative gifts or the wonderful blessing of just showing up and helping wherever needed. It doesn’t matter what’s happening, those folks are always there to bless others with a helping hand.
God has blessed you. Count your blessings. But don’t stop there. You are blessed to be a blessing. God’s intention is that all the nations of the earth should be blessed by the actions of God’s people. Who have you blessed recently? What blessing does this church give to the Nashua community? If this church were suddenly destroyed and all its members scattered, would God see a need to rebuild it? Are there groups outside the church that would say, “Well, how are we possibly going to get along without Arlington St. there to help us?” Would Nashua mourn the loss? I hope they would. For some churches in some communities, no one outside the church would even notice their absence.
God is working the salvation of the world through us. It’s our job. The Jews were not chosen by God for special privilege, but for special service. It is the same for Christians and for anybody else who receives God’s blessing. Don’t hoard it, spread it. Don’t pay it back, pay it forward. For every material blessing you have received, for the gift of talent or health or land or a kind and loving spirit, for the good news of the love of God in Jesus Christ. whatever it is, you were given that blessing in order that you might use it to bless others.
But please don’t hear this as saying that we cannot enjoy any of the blessings we receive--that we only look at the gourmet meal from the outside and never taste any of it. Some Christians make that mistake, thinking their own lives are to be barren while they give everything to others. No, it is a much more gracious plan than that. It is like the miracle of the loaves and fishes. As we share the blessing we have, the blessing grows and multiplies until everyone present--including us--is satisfied and there are huge amounts of leftovers still.
It’s the basic lesson we learned in kindergarten. Share. One toy lovingly and willingly shared creates community. One toy hoarded creates tears and temper tantrums. Wealth and resources that are lovingly and willingly shared creates a grateful and peaceful world. Wealth and resources that are stockpiled and hoarded leads to poverty and war. For those who do not profess faith, there is no rule. But for those who look to Abraham or to the Bible for guidance, it couldn’t be more clear. Enjoy God’s blessings, count them one by one. Then pass them on wherever they are needed that through God’s people all the nations of the earth should be blessed. Amen.
By Anne Robertson
Daily bread Archive
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- God Has Seen Your Future And It Is Good!
- A Vital Necessity
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- I hope
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- Great Words From Colin Powell
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- Encourage Someone to Dream
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- Everything You Need
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- Our Crown Awaits!
- where to make an effort
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- You are Blessed to be a Blessing
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- Important Tips About Health & Life
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