THIS WEEK -DEVOTION

Devotion – the fact or quality of being devoted to a divine being : worship service; reverence, devoutness. Religious observance, divine worship; A form or prayer or worship directed to a special object or for private use.

(Oxford Dictionary)



Devotion is a powerful concept which can change everything. Our foremost objective as Christ followers is to be devoted to him and his ways. As we become devoted to him, we find the strength to live in ways previously out of our reach and serve in ways beyond our strength. I would ask, what does it mean to be a fully devoted follower of Christ and how does it change us?

We must begin with the first Christ followers – the first century disciples.  In the preface to Thomas Merton’s Course in Desert Spirituality he asks this question, “If for some reason it were necessary for you to drink a pint of water taken out of the Mississippi River and you could choose where it was to be drawn out of the river—would you take a pint from the source of the river in Minnesota or from the estuary at New Orleans?” The answer is obvious, we would want to go to the source before it was polluted and changed by the great journey. I would propose we start at the beginning of the church to see what devotion meant to them.

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42)  Luke, author of Acts, gives us four foundations to living the devoted life: teachings of the Apostles, fellowship(community), breaking of the bread, and prayer.

Teachings of the Apostles

This was vitally important in the time of the writing of the Book of Acts, because the disciples were eyewitnesses to the work of Jesus. They knew him. The apostles could give personal recollections of the work and teachings of Jesus. This was before the body of material was written into our New Testament. Out of these early teachings would come the teachings of the church. Today we have those teachings in our written word. We are to devote ourselves to the study of the word and all the traditions which have sprung forth from it. By study of the word, we are receiving the teachings of the apostles. It is no accident that study of the word is many times called devotions.

Fellowship (Community)

Perhaps this was first about the apostles but very quickly spread to mean the whole community of Christ followers. These people were and are a group of companions who share a common life. We know that the early church lived a communal life sharing all things in common. That is no longer true, but we still share the unique belief in a resurrected Lord, and that is certainly something to bring us together. I believe that fellowship around the table with meals together is an important part of the Christian life. All churches should take some time to fellowship together.

Breaking of the Bread

This is likely more that simply eating meals together. It is the communion of the body of Christ which I;s ultimately manifested in the Eucharistic celebration where we share in the sacrifice of Christ by sharing in the taking of the bread and the wine. By taking this bread and wine we become present with him in a mystical and real way. He plainly instructs us to partake of his body and blood and become one with him. The frequent observance of the Sacrament of Holy Communion is a vital part of the life of a fully devoted follower of Christ.

Prayer

The Apostles devoted themselves to prayer. They still attended the Temple and participated in the regular meetings of the synagogue. Today we are not to forsake the assembly of ourselves for prayer and sacrament. Prayer goes further than the corporate prayer of the church. Each devoted follower of Christ must have times of individual prayer. Prayer is observed by words and silence. Words that come from our heart and lead us to God silence; that allows God to speak to us by his spirit. The prayer life of the Christ followers is vital.

As Christians we can live a fully devoted spiritual life by exercising these four foundational principles.



Quotes BannerThe credit belongs to those who are actually in the arena, who strive valiantly; who know the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spend themselves in a worthy cause; who at best know the triumph of high achievement; and who, at worst, if they fail, fail while daring greatly, so that their place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

~~~Theodore Roosevelt

Every hand and every hour should be devoted to rescue the world from its insanity of guilt, and to assuage the pangs of human hearts with balm and anodyne. To pity distress is but human; to relieve it is Godlike.

~~~Horace Mann

It is rather for us here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.

~~~Abraham Lincoln

Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule – and both commonly succeed, and are right.

~~~H. L. Mencken

Discipline says, ‘I need to.’ Duty says, ‘I ought to.’ Devotion says, ‘I want to.’

~~~Adrian Rogers

The heart can think of no devotion greater than being shore to the ocean-holding the curve of one position, counting an endless repetition.

~~~Robert Frost

Hide yourself in God, so when a man wants to find you he will have to go there first.

~~~Shannon L. Alder

We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.”

~~~Brother Lawrence

To devote a portion of one’s leisure to doing something for someone else is one of the highest forms of recreation.

~~~Gerald B. Fitzgerald

I know the price of success: dedication, hard work and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen.

~~~Frank Lloyd Wright

Scripture BannerAnd whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

~~~Colossians 3:17

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

~~~Philippians 4:13

I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.

~~~John 17:4

For if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.

~~~Romans 14:8

According to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.

~~~Philippians 1:20

Whether then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

~~~1 Corinthians 10:31

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

~~~Deuteronomy 6:5

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

~~~Hebrews 13:5

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

~~~2 Timothy 2:15

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

~~~John 13:34-35

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

~~~Luke 10:25-28

Prayer BannerLord, It is my greatest desire that I can become fully devoted to you and your will and way. Help me this day to learn of you so that I may know how serve you and those that you send my way. May my devotion to you light the way for others to find and follow you. Let your spirit dwell within me this day and every day.

Amen

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THIS WEEK – CONTENTMENT

Contentment– The action of satisfying; pleasure, delight, gratification. A source of pleasure ,delight or a condition or quality of being tranquil and happy. 

(Oxford Dictionary)



Contentment is an elusive goal in the United States today. More than 16% of Americans have experienced a bout of significant depression in 2019. I am sure even more have suffered a bout of depression during this pandemic. We all strive to have a life of contentment. Many seek peace and harmony by buying lots of stuff or working extremely hard and others by being daring or adventurous. Unfortunately, these endeavors fall short. Perhaps we should consider ways that is counterintuitive to our culture.

Greek philosopher Plato said,” The greatest wealth is to live content with little.” That would be a very novel idea for most of our world. To be content in the 21st century is to have many things. Contentment is found in the next promotion, winning an athletic competition, or reaching a savings goal. These things drive us, and the more of them we grasp, the more we want. There seems to be no end to our discontentment with what we have and our drive to have more. Those of us who proclaim to be followers of Christ know that he, like Plato, taught that wealth was in having less. Wealth is found in scarcity of the world ‘s goods. How do we achieve Christian contentment?

Christian contentment puts others first. We are willing to give up our seat at the table for another. Christians ask themselves if they really need that new car or another set of clothes. We learn to live with less so that we might have more. Our wealth and thus our contentment comes from learning to live with what we already possess. That opens the way for generosity and joy.

We also gain contentment by living a life of consistency and stability. Our lives are disciplined and ordered. A contented person knows what they will do each day. They do not demand to have a new novelty in their lives daily. Contented people enjoy the small things of life. They notice the blessings that God gives them every day. They are content to eat the food that is being provided and the work that lies ahead of them. Contented people stay put and make things work.

Contented people understand they are loved by God and the love of God is greater and deeper than any misfortune we may face. No matter what, God is there, and he will carry us through. Contentment is the acceptance of God’s love and care.

May we achieve Christian contentment today.



Quotes Banner

I have learned that to be with those I like is enough

― Walt Whitman

For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain.

― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I am content; that is a blessing greater than riches; and he to whom that is given need ask no more.

― Henry Fielding

Be content with what you have;

rejoice in the way things are.

When you realize there is nothing lacking,

the whole world belongs to you.

― Lao Tzu

He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.

― Socrates

Happiness is not a goal…it’s a by-product of a life well lived.

― Eleanor Roosevelt

Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.

― Epictetus

We are not rich by what we possess but by what we can do without.

― Immanuel Kant

At some point, you gotta let go, and sit still, and allow contentment to come to you.

― Elizabeth Gilbert

Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty.

― Socrates

The greatest wealth is to live content with little.

― Plato

Scripture BannerLet mutual love continue.

~~~Hebrews 13:1

For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

~~~Matthew 6:32-33

Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it;

~~~1 Timothy 6:6-7

And he said to them, ‘Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.’

Wait for the Lord, and keep to his way,

  and he will exalt you to inherit the land;

  you will look on the destruction of the wicked.

~~~ Luke 12:15

‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

~~~Matthew 6:25-25

Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have.

~~~Philippians 4:11

Wait for the Lord, and keep to his way,

  and he will exalt you to inherit the land;

  you will look on the destruction of the wicked.

~~~Psalm 37:34

I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live;

~~~Ecclesiastes 3:12

‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

~~~Matthew 5:6

And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

~~~Philippians 4:19

Prayer BannerLord, I ask that you allow me to find the path of contentment found in Jesus Christ. May I follow his way and be led by his light. Help me to discern that in Jesus all things are found. Wipe away the doubt and hesitation that robs me of the joy I receive through you. In the absence of hesitation and doubt there is true contentment. Hear us Lord.

Amen

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THIS WEEK – ILLUMINATION

Illumination- an instance of spiritual enlightenment; And inspiration, a revelation.

(Oxford Dictionary)

Illumination simply means to bring light. We turn on a light as we enter a dark room so we may see. The lighted room makes it possible for us to avoid stumbling over an obstacle that may be in front of us. As Christians we are taught that Jesus is the light of the world. The prologue of the Gospel of John says, “What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” That is spiritual illumination, and it brings the presence of God into our lives and guides us so as not to stumble over the hindrances of worldly life. Jesus is the Word and the Word lives with us and his illuminating spirit changes everything .

Spiritual illumination is at the center of our spiritual journey. It begs the questions:

  •  What is spiritual illumination and how do we get it?
  • What do we do with it and how does it change our lives?

    Spiritual illumination is the real presence of God in our lives as is manifested by the Holy Spirit that dwells in us. At our Baptism we are baptized into the Holy Spirit. The sacrament of baptism bestows upon us the presence of God. The community that witnesses the baptism pledges itself to be the supporters of the life of the one who is baptized. At baptism we are given the light of God and the uplifting of the faith community. In the Wesleyan tradition, we experience “means of grace.” The sacrament of baptism and the participation in conferencing (community) are two of them.

    Once we recognize the illumination of God in our lives, we are compelled to live a life that is worthy of such grace and love. That means that we begin to practice some of the other means of grace such as, Bible Study, doing good works, seeking justice and so many more. Divine illumination may change the things we do, the places we go, the people we associate with and the way we conduct our daily lives.

    The Christian life demands that we go the second mile by always doing more than is expected of us. Christians are to be the first to help, the first to forgive, the first to pray and more than anything are to be the salt of the earth. The life of divine illumination is a heavy calling and a serious responsibility, but it is a life of great reward.

    “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”

    ~~~Jesus 



    Quotes BannerThe window of the soul cleansed perfectly and made completely transparent by the divine light.

    ~~~John of the Cross

    Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.

    ~~~Anne Frank

    It has shown me that everything is illuminated in the light of the past. It is always along the side of us…on the inside, looking out.

    ~~~Jonathan Safran Foer

    Most people use statistics like a drunk man uses a lamppost, more for support than illumination.

    ~~~Andrew Lang

    When we shine our light,

    We help others through the darkness.

    When we show them their own light,

    We begin to illuminate the world.

    Speak kindly, love deeply, have faith.”

    ~~~Wendy Rae

    It is in moments of shadow that illumination happens.

    ~~~Cheyanne Ratnam

    Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating.

    ~~~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

    While some men see ordinary happenings, others see divine light and guidance.

    ~~~Thomas Merton 

    We are kept from the experience of Spirit because our inner world is cluttered with past traumas. As we begin to clear away this clutter, the energy of divine light and love begins to flow through our being.”

    ~~~ Thomas Keating



    Scripture BannerNow I have heard about you that a spirit of the gods is in you, and that illumination, insight and extraordinary wisdom have been found in you.

    ~~~Daniel 5:14

    But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.

    ~~~John 14:26

    There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.

    ~~~John 1:9

    For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit,

    ~~~Hebrews 6:4

    I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

    ~~~Ephesians 1:18

    But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.

    ~~~John 16:13-16

    Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.

    ~~~1 Corinthians 4:5

    Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law

    ~~~Psalm 119.18

    Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

    ~~~Psalm 119:105

    When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

    ~~~ John 8:12

    Prayer Banner

    LORD, Guide us by your Word and Spirit,

    that in your light we may see light,

    in your truth find wisdom,

    and in your will discover your peace,

    through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

    Amen

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    Worship April 11, 2021

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    April 3, 2021 · 5:15 am

    Tuesday with John Wesley

    Holy-Week.jpgDividerTuesday from John Wesley.jpg

    On this Tuesday of Holy Week, I call your attention John Wesley. He was a great preacher and founder of the Methodist movement. John Wesley had but one goal, and it was to bring the message of the grace of God to all people. He was an Oxford Don and an Anglican priest who gave his long and productive life to that cause. I will share some quotes from Mr. Wesley that communicate his calling.



    Do all the good you can,

    By all the means you can,Wesley Preaching.jpg

    In all the ways you can,

    In all the places you can,

    At all the times you can,

    To all the people you can,

    As long as ever you can.

     

    Light yourself on fire with passion and people will come from miles to watch you burn.

    Give me one hundred preachers (Christians)who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on Earth.

    Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences.

    I continue to dream and pray about a revival of holiness in our day that moves forth in mission and creates authentic community in which each person can be unleashed through the empowerment of the Spirit to fulfill God’s creational intentions.

    When I was young I was sure of everything; in a few years, having been mistaken a thousand times, I was not half so sure of most things as I was before; at present, I am hardly sure of anything but what God has revealed to me.

    Our main doctrines, which include all the rest, are three: That of repentance, of faith, and of holiness. The first of these we account, as it were, the porch of religion; the next, the door; the third, religion itself.

    Appletons__Wesley_John_signature.jpg



    A PRAYER FROM JOHN WESLEY

    O merciful Father, do not consider what we have done against you;

    but what our blessed Savior has done for us.

    Don’t consider what we have made of ourselves,

    but what He is making of us for you our God.

    O that Christ may be “wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption”

    to every one of our souls.

    May His precious blood cleanse us from all our sins,

    and your Holy Spirit renew and sanctify our souls.

    May He crucify our flesh with its passion and lusts,

    and cleanse all our brothers and sisters in Christ across the earth.

    Amen.

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    Monday from the Desert

    Holy-Week.jpgDividerMonday from the Desert.jpg

    On this Monday of Holy Week, I call your attention to those Monks who chose to escape the temptation and hardships that beset them when they lived in the cities. Their escape to the desert was the way that they chose to pursue the calling as Christians. I have chosen a few quotes that will set the stage for their way of life. Read and pray on these and God will lead you in the right direction.


    Anthony of Egypt.jpg

    Someone asked Abba Anthony, “What must one do in order to please God?” The old man replied, “Pay attention to what I tell you: whoever you may be, always have God before your eyes, whatever you do, do it according to the testimony of the holy Scriptures; in whatever place you live, do not easily leave it. Keep these three precepts and you will be saved.”

    ~~~Anthony of Egypt



    Poeman.jpeg

    A brother questioned Abba Poemen saying, ‘I have committed a great sin and I want to do penance for three years.’ The old man said to him, ‘That is a lot.’ The brother said, ‘For one year?’ The old man said again, ‘That is a lot.’ Those who were present said, ‘For forty days?’ He said again, ‘That is a lot.’ He added, ‘I myself say that if a man repents with his whole heart and does not intend to commit the sin any more, God will accept him after only three days.’

    ~~~Abba Poemen



    For quite some time I have been learning great lessons from the men and women of the desert monastic movement. Their commitment to living a Christ honoring life was given number one priority in their lives. Many of them abandoned influence, wealth, and families to live for Christ. They were the mentors of numerous leaders of early Christianity. Their attitudes and actions drew people to them for inspiration. I have shared some quotes from their teaching today. I will expand on those in the words that follow.

    In our first saying we see the age-old question, “What must I do to please God?” That is the most important request that anyone can make. Anthony’s reply is simple. He is saying that it all has to do with focus. He says to begin with your personal life. The Christian must always have God before him. Too many believers make it habit to compartmentalize their lives. When we have a box for God, a box for work and separate boxes for each part of life, we lose sight of what should be our primary focus.  Christians should always have God in front of their eyes and all else will come into focus. Anthony then turns his attention to the scripture and tells us that we should look for its testimony. The Holy Scriptures are given to us by God as a guide for life and work. We should consult with them and live in them for everything we do. Anthony’s next stop is where we live. If we establish stability of place, we will not spend our lives searching for the next adventure or excitement of life. Focus on God, Holy Scriptures and stability of place, and God will bring you great peace and salvation.

    Article quote.jpg

    Abba Poeman warns us against excessive guilt and self-loathing. Many people suffer through much in life because they never forgive themselves for some grievance that they have committed. Somehow, they always feel a sense of guilt and never really accept the grace of God. Such an attitude leads to self-loathing and ultimately to destructive behavior. The monk communicates to the brother that God will accept the repentant heart without excessive penance. The message is that we do not earn God’s forgiveness, it is given to the penitent heart. When Christians accept and live out that truth, they are free.

    During Holy Week we journey towards the cross. It is a cross of suffering and salvation. Abba Anthony gives us some ways that we can focus our lives. Abba Poeman offers us a way that we can accept forgiveness and move on with life. These two concepts will perhaps give you a vision of how to apply Christ’s suffering and salvation to your life. 

    Poeman and tired brother.jpg

    PRAYER

    Lord, As I experience Holy Week lead me to prepare my heart to receive the sacrifice of Jesus with a penitent heart. Let me keep my focus toward Him and His grace.

    Amen

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    THIS WEEK – HARVEST

    Harvest- to reap or gather in the results a previous work or action or to remove for use.

    (Oxford Dictionary)



    The word harvest readily suggests the fall season and the time of gathering the produce of the land and celebrating the blessings of the season. I think of pumpkins, corn and other vegetables that are symbolic of the harvest season. Harvest surely means those things but so much more. Harvest is used to refer to the spiritual gathering of people in the name of Jesus. He said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” That plentiful harvest he was referring to was all the people who are waiting to hear a word from God. We are the workers of that harvest. How do we harvest? Let us look at a few possibilities.

    It is possible that the best way to prepare to harvest others is to sow proper seeds in our own lives. In the Lenten season we are called to take a careful look at who we are and where we are going. Are we ready to face God the way we are right now? If not, what needs to be changed? What less than savory elements do we have to remove from our lives? These sorts of question are the ones that lead to a profoundly good harvest. I hope you will take them to heart.

    To be a worker in the harvest we must offer ourselves freely to the work. Each day we look for opportunities to tell the story of Jesus. His story changes lives. We spread the joy and peace that comes with being a follower of Jesus the Messiah. People are looking for peace and tranquility in all sorts of directions today. They seek it in leaders that they follow and in fanciful religious theories. The story of Jesus is true and simple. It needs to be told, and we are the ones to tell it. You can be the voice of Jesus.

    We must remember that the harvest is plentiful because all people seek a pathway to God. The world hungers to find the path. The Jesus path is simple because it is paved by love. Love presents enormous possibilities. The message of Jesus is above all else is a message of love and grace- love enough to die on the cross and grace enough to offer the love to all. The possibilities are infinite, because the love is infinite The harvest is endless when the love is endless.

    Harvest is a powerful word because it is the act that brings both physical and spiritual life to the world. We must continue to observe the harvest, and God will continue to send the opportunities necessary.

    His love, his grace will always be available to everyone.





    Quotes Banner

    Before the fruits of prosperity can come, the storms of life need to first bring the required rains of testing, which mixes with the seeds of wisdom to produce a mature harvest.

    ~~~Lincoln Patz

    What are you planting today to harvest tomorrow?

    ~~~Lailah Gifty Akita

    Raindrops and teardrops have two things in common. Both fall freely, and yield abundance. The former leads to abundant harvest and the latter, abundant mercy.

    ~~~Martin Uzochukwu Ugwu

    We reap the fruit of the seeds we sow. Every good deed, every bad deed—they are the means of planting seeds that will reward us one day with a merited harvest from life’s garden.

    ~~~Richelle E. Goodrich

    AS I watch’d the ploughman ploughing,

    Or the sower sowing in the fields, or the harvester harvesting,

    I saw there too, O life and death, your analogies;

    Life, life is the tillage, and Death is the harvest according

    ~~~Walt Whitman

    Sowing seeds in all areas of your life is an ongoing never-ending process sow seeds every day and sow twice as much seeds during your seasons of harvest

    ~~~James D Wilson

    Harvest is real, but be wise to sow what you will love to reap in the new year, because your day of harvest is fast approaching.

    ~~~Bamigboye Olurotimi

    Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.

    ~~~Robert Louis Stevenson

    What we plant in the soil of contemplation, we shall reap in the harvest of action.

    ~~~Meister Eckhart

    In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.

    ~~~William Blake

    Many are needed to plant and water what has been planted now that the faith has spread so far and there are so many people… No matter who plants or waters, God gives no harvest unless what is planted is the faith of Peter and unless he agrees to his teachings.

    ~~~Thomas Becket

    Racism and injustice and violence sweep our world, bringing a tragic harvest of heartache and death.

    ~~~Billy Graham



    Scripture BannerWhile the earth remains,

    Seedtime and harvest,

    And cold and heat,

    And summer and winter,

    And day and night

    Shall not cease.

    ~~~Genesis 8:22

    Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.

    ~~~Matthew 9:37

    Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

    ~~~2 Corinthians 9:10

    Indeed, your threshing will last for you until grape gathering, and grape gathering will last until sowing time. You will thus eat your food to the full and live securely in your land.

    ~~~Leviticus 26:5

    Indeed, the Lord will give what is good,

    And our land will yield its produce.

    ~~~Psalm 85:12

    And sow fields and plant vineyards,

    And gather a fruitful harvest.

    ~~~Psalm 107:37

    ‘Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest.

    ~~~Leviticus 19:9

    The sluggard does not plow after the autumn,

    So he begs during the harvest and has nothing.

    ~~~Proverbs 20:4

    Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”

    ~~~Matthew 9:37-38

    Like snow in summer and like rain in harvest,

    So honor is not fitting for a fool.

    ~~~Proverbs 26:1Prayer Banner

    LORD, Teach me to plant the good seeds in my life. These are the seeds that will produce a harvest that would be productive and godly. Strengthen and guide me to cultivate the spiritual seeds that you have gifted to me. Help me to remove the obstacles that interfere with my goal of living a godly life. Give me the gift of discernment so that I might have an abundant harvest.

    Amen

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    THIS WEEK – GRACE

    Grace – The free and unmerited favor of God as manifested in the Salvation of sinners and bestowing of blessing. The divine regenerating, inspiriting, and strengthening influence of God. 

    (Oxford Dictionary)



    Grace has many meanings and nuances, but the one that really counts is this one. Grace is the free and unmerited favor of God. We all need that ticket punched. The late Adrian Rogers, a Southern Baptist pastor of some stature, said, “Grace is God’s acceptance of us. Faith is our acceptance of God accepting us.” That is true, but I see grace as far more. The grace God gives us is in his control, not ours to claim under some preset rule.

    John Wesley speaks of the prevenient grace of God that is bestowed on all of us. Such grace is not a grace that has to be accepted but grace that is poured out by God on all his creation. Some people limit this grace to small children or people of limited understanding. I am convinced that it goes much further than that. God’s grace is upon us in our time of strife and rebellion. It is ridiculously hard to reject the loving grace of a loving God. How does that grace work?

    It protects us in our frailties and weaknesses. We all have areas of our lives that are targeted by the adversary or the evil presence in the world. God’s grace is with us when we need the strength to resist what are our less than pure natural tendencies. It is like God being our guide in a foreign land. He is with us to make sure we do not lose our way. We all need grace when our strength fails us. The gracious hand of God taps us on the shoulder and assures us we are not alone. What can seem hopeless is suddenly achievable because of his presence.

    Grace surrounds us when we feel abandoned. Into every life there are times of desperation and despair. These are times that we feel very much alone. We do not feel attacked but just abandoned. Our lives are not surrounded by temptations but just a void of emptiness. Into that void can walk the grace of God that lets us know we are never alone. God does not abandon his creation.

    His loving grace is patient when we rebel. Not even one of God’s creation can honestly say that we have not said no to God at least once. When we stray of our own free will, God’s grace is still with us. God does not sit waiting for us to say yes or no. He is always there. His grace is like a person yelling to the top of their lungs to get our attention in a noisy place. They will not give up until we see them.

    So it is with God when we stray. He keeps on calling and offering until we hear Him.



    Quotes BannerReligion in its humility restores man to his only dignity, the courage to live by grace.

    ~~~George Santayana

    It has been great journey from where I have started to where I am today. I am really blessed with God’s grace.

    ~~~Dhanush

    Grace is the beauty of form under the influence of freedom.

    ~~~Friedrich von Schiller

    God appoints our graces to be nurses to other men’s weaknesses.

    ~~~Henry Ward Beecher

    For his heart was in his work, and the heart giveth grace unto every art.

    ~~~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    An error gracefully acknowledged is a victory won.

    ~~~Caroline L. Gascoigne

    The only man who has the right to say that he is justified by grace alone is the man who has left all to follow Christ.

    ~~~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

    I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.

    ~~~Anne Lamott

    Grace is but glory begun, and glory is but grace perfected.

    ~~~Jonathan Edwards

    Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.

    ~~~Dietrich Bonhoeffer



    Scripture BannerBut to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.

    ~~~ Ephesians 4:7

    The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

    ~~~John 1:14

    But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

    ~~~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

    From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

    ~~~ John 1:16

    Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

    all the days of my life,

    and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

    my whole life long.

    ~~~ Psalm 23:6

    Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,

    whose trust is the Lord.

    ~~~Jeremiah 17:7

    However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

    ~~~Acts 20:24

    But He gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

    ~~~James 4:6

    But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it.

    ~~~James 1:14

    But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

    ~~~Ephesians 4:7

    Prayer BannerLORD, Without your grace we are hopelessly lost. Our lives are a shattered mess of missed intentions and goals. It is with your divine grace that we come together to be the creation that you intended. Today we ask you to bestow the grace necessary for the day.

    Amen

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