Tag Archives: Christian Devotional

THIS WEEK – Service

Service – To be advantageous to a prescribed organization or person by contributing to the functions of that person or organization .

(Oxford Dictionary)

Service

Service means to take care of the needs of others. An imperative of the teachings of Jesus is to serve the world and to bring his message of salvation to all. A person who is a member of the military is said to be in the service. Every store offers customer service. Those are some of the many ways what we can use the word service, but what does it mean to be in service to the Lord?

Servants of the Lord put Jesus first. The writer of Romans says, “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” Serving the Lord means that we learn his ways and his will. Our lives are focused on pleasing the one who gave us life. God/Jesus, after all, is not only our creator but our redeemer. Jesus came to earth to set things right for us. He came to show the way to abundant life, and we must put our service to him first that we might share in his abundance.

All who serve Jesus as Lord understand that they are to put others first. Jesus said, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” What does it mean to be a servant of all? It means that we are continually looking out for the welfare of our fellow beings. We do not see ourselves as an independent entity but part of great community of creation. That vision of ourselves will drive us to look out for the wellbeing of all.

Service to the Lord means that we want to share His message to the world. It is our greatest desire that others may know his message of blessing and freedom. As servants we are commissioned to be the “tellers” of the story. We are to share that good news with all those that we meet. I am not talking about door knocking evangelism but living in a way that others will be drawn to him. It is not what we say, but what we do that brings people to Jesus. That is an aspect of our service.

The greatest service we render to the world is the desire to make the world a better place. We live in a confused and dark world. The message of Christ is a message of abundance. The more people get to know about the salvation of Jesus, the more ready they are to improve their lot in life. Such an improvement becomes contagious to all those around them. It is our job, our calling, our mission to make the world a better place. Because we are the people of the Trinity, we can make the world a better place.

I want you to take the time this week, and ask yourself – what am I doing in service to the Lord? 



Quotes BannerEverybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.

~~~Martin Luther King Jr.

A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large.

~~~Henry Ford

At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done.

We will be judged by “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.

~~~Mother Teresa

“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.

~~~Carl Gustav Jung

The best antidote I know for worry is work. The best cure for weariness is the challenge of helping someone who is even more tired. One of the great ironies of life is this: He or she who serves almost always benefits more than he or she who is served.

~~~Gordon B. Hinckley

So long as we love we serve; so long as we are loved by others, I would almost say that we are Your own Self-Realization is the greatest service you can render the world.

~~~Ramana Maharshi

Perhaps the greatest social service that can be rendered by anybody to the country and to mankind is to bring up a family.

~~~George Bernard Shaw

Life is for service.

~~~Fred Rogers

I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.

~~~Albert Schweitzer



Scripture BannerAs each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:

~~~1 Peter 4:10

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

~~~1 Peter 4:9-11

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

~~~Galatians 5:13

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

~~~Mark 10:45

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

~~~Colossians 3:23-24

If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.

~~~Isaiah 58:10

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ …

~~~Matthew 25:35-40

And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

~~~Mark 9:35

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.

~~~Romans 12:11

If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

~~~John 12:26

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

~~~Matthew 6:24Prayer Banner

Lord, I want to be of service to you. Open for me opportunities to learn more of you. Open for me opportunities to serve the unlovely. Open for me opportunities to make the world a better place. I pray that you will guide me through direction of your Holy Spirit to find a way to serve the world and make it a better place. Let all my thoughts be directed toward serving and not being served. Amen

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THIS WEEK – Wisdom

Definition

Wisdom – The combination of experience and knowledge with the ability to apply them judiciously ; sound judgment, prudence, practical sense.

(Oxford Dictionary)



Wisdom

Everyone in the world wants to be wise, because the one who possesses wisdom rules the world. Is that true? The answer would have to be yes and no. As we gain wisdom our ability to lead others is strengthened. The way to gain wisdom is to realize what you do not know. When that attitude descends upon us, we begin to desire and seek the opinions and knowledge of others and, more importantly, we realize what we do not know. This leads us to the path of wisdom in this life. Let us look at some ways we can begin the wisdom journey.

“Avoid company where it is not profitable or necessary, and in those occasions, speak little, and last. Silence is wisdom where speaking is folly, and always safe.” Those are the words of William Penn, the namesake and founder of the state of Pennsylvania. Let us focus on the concept of speaking little and last. The world is full of people who want to be heard but lacks in those who want to listen. If you find yourself frustrated that you do not get to speak first and loudest, then you may need this wisdom lesson. Pause, listen with openness and respect to those around you, and then speak after you have digested what has been said.

Learn the value of doubt. We can safely say that the one who never doubts himself is lacking in wisdom. No one is always right or knows all. Doubt can be a great blessing, because it leads to greater learning and opens new vistas of life. It can be very isolating and miserable to always think that you have arrived at the right conclusions and taken the right action. Doubt causes us to examine our motives and actions. This process builds wisdom.

The next building block is the virtue of silence. Our wisdom is evaluated by our ability to listen at peace. True silence is a strength. We are not truly silent when we do not speak but are boiling with frustration and anger. Wise people learn the discipline of silence by knowing the art of listening. Silence is an important part of wisdom.

Wisdom is a combination of knowledge and experience. That leads me to believe that the wise person seeks all the knowledge and experience that they can possibly absorb. Let us take advantage of any opportunity to learn a new fact or understand a new concept. If we are vivacious readers and learn of things that are not of immediate use, then we are equipped for whatever life throws at us. Experience is an important part of wisdom. The more we try to use our knowledge, the more it is tested. This testing teaches us that we all know far less that we think. Those tests bring wisdom.

The writer of Proverbs says that wisdom will guard us. Wisdom is the virtue that guards us from foolish and quick action. Wisdom allows us to know when to be silent and when to speak. This same wisdom allows us to carry on in time of distress and failure. Wisdom imparts to us the value of ourselves in a realistic way. We are never as great or as bad as our minds tell us. Every one of God’s creatures needs a gatekeeper, and wisdom is the one that guides, builds and protects us.                                                                                                    

Quotes Banner

Doubt is the origin of wisdom.

~~~Augustine of Hippo

The truest wisdom is a resolute determination.

~~~Napoleon Bonaparte

Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.

~~~Immanuel Kant

Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.

~~~Albert Einstein

Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom.

~~~Francis Bacon

A fool is known by his speech; and a wise man by silence.

~~~ Pythagoras

The fool wonders, the wise man asks.

~~~Benjamin Disraeli

Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change.

~~~Confucius

Where there is shouting, there is no true knowledge.

~~~Leonardo da Vinci

Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.

~~~Benjamin Franklin

There is only a finger’s difference between a wise man and a fool.

~~~ Diogenes

Wisdom ceases to be wisdom when it becomes too proud to weep, too grave to laugh, and too selfish to seek other than itself.

~~~ Kahlil Gibran



Scripture BannerIs wisdom with the aged,

   and understanding in length of days?

~~~Job 12:12

For the Lord gives wisdom;

   from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;

~~~Proverbs 2:6

Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;

   love her, and she will guard you.

The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,

   and whatever else you get, get insight.

~~~Proverbs 4:6-7

When pride comes, then comes disgrace;

   but wisdom is with the humble.

The integrity of the upright guides them,

   but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.

~~~Proverbs 11:2-3

By loyalty and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for,

   and by the fear of the Lord one avoids evil.

~~~Proverbs 16:6

To get wisdom is to love oneself;

   to keep understanding is to prosper.

~~~Proverbs 19:8

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;

   fools despise wisdom and instruction.

~~~Proverbs 1:7

For to the one who pleases him God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy; but to the sinner he gives the work of gathering and heaping, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a chasing after wind.

~~~Ecclesiastes 2:26

For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

~~~1 Corinthians 1:25

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.

~~~James 3:17

A fool gives full vent to anger,

   but the wise quietly holds it back.

~~~Proverbs 29:11

Happy are those who find wisdom,

   and those who get understanding,

for her income is better than silver,

   and her revenue better than gold.

~~~Proverbs 3:13-14

Prayer Banner

Lord, This day I seek lady wisdom. She can lead me to the path that will bring joy and blessing in my life. I confess that I have often forsaken wisdom for the foolishness that plagues me. With your help I can focus on what is necessary to lead a life that develops wisdom each day. Give me enough doubt and enough hunger for knowledge to become wiser this very day.

Amen

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Complete Joy

Joy is essential to spiritual life. Whatever we may think or say about God, when we are not joyful, our thought and words cannot bear fruit. Jesus reveals to us God’s love so that his joy may become ours and then our joy may become complete. Joy is the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved and that nothing – sickness, failure, emotional distress, oppression, war, or even death – can take away that love

~~~Henri Nouwen

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

~~~Romans 8:38-39



Can you remember a time in your life that you were just exploding with joy? It would be hard for me to narrow down a joyous occasion that was greater than any other or the greatest. I will tell you about one of my big ones Six years ago, we purchased what is our “forever” home. I can remember very vividly walking into it for the first time with the realtor. It was so clear to us that this was the right place for us, we told him to put the paperwork together on the spot. Our offer was accepted, and I remember the joy we felt as we got the keys and entered our home. There were many repairs to be done, but the joy made the work seem miniscule. Every nail that was nailed and wall that was redone was pure joy. It is uncanny what joy can do for you.

When we experience joy, we can take on the world. We become confident and strong. Tasks that would have seemed insurmountable become achievable. Joy makes us feel invincible in a positive way. We know who we are and why we are here. This confidence allows us to learn new skills and tackle tough tasks. When joy enters our lives, it casts out low self-esteem and self-depreciating behavior.

An experience of joy heals hurt. It is estimated that 16.2 million adults in the United States, or 6.7 percent of American adults, have had at least one major depressive episode each year. Often the source of this depression is hurt. We all have hurts that we carry around with us. Disappointment and hurt are normal occurrences in life. These hurts will rule us if we do not allow the joys to lay their claim on our lives. The joy of what God has given you can heal your greatest hurt.

Joy opens the portals of love and the ultimate portal of love is found in discovering the length breadth and depth of God’s love for us. He created us for his joy and wants us to experience that joy. He also created us in his image so that we might have the ability to share his love and joy to all who cross our paths. Jesus said,”. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” He created us so that we may share joy with one another.

Let us wake up each morning and discover the joy of being loved by God and spread it to the world.



Prayer

Lord, Fashion me into one of those people that complete your joy. Give me that confidence to trust you fully and use that trust to lead others to see your joy. Lead me to places that will allow me to share my joy with others. At times when I am down, I ask that you allow me to feel and experience your joy. For in it, I find healing and peace. May that joy fall upon me this moment.

Amen

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The Branch of the Lord

Tuesday Week 2       December 8

On that day the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and Week 2 Logoglorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and glory of the survivors of Israel. Whoever is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, everyone who has been recorded ventfor life in Jerusalem. Then the Lord will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over its places of assembly a cloud by day and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night. Indeed, over all the glory there will be a canopy. It will serve as a pavilion, a shade by day from the heat, and a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain

~~~Isaiah 4:2-3,5-6





Question- Do you acknowledge the branch of the Lord(Jesus the Christ) in your life?



Prayer Thought

Lord, I ask this day that I find the wisdom to accept the branch of the Lord in my life. Allow me to learn of Him and from Him all the days of my life. Let me take the time to learn as well from the branches of my family as I venture forward in this journey of life.

Amen

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THIS WEEK – Sacrifice

Sacrifice – The surrender of something valued or desired, especially ones life, for the sake of something regarded as more important or worthy , or in order to avoid a greater loss.

(Oxford Dictionary)



Sacrifice is an unpopular concept in modern American thought. We have been conditioned to think that we must sacrifice nothing, and that sacrifice is a sign of weakness. To the contrary, people who know how to sacrifice are some of the strongest people in the world.

Let me tell you the story of an obscure Japanese Ambassador.

Chiune Sugihara was born on a day of new beginnings January 1, 1900. As a boy, he cherished the dream of becoming the Japanese ambassador to Russia. By the 1930s, he was the ambassador to Lithuania, just a step away from Russia.

One morning, a huge throng of people gathered outside his home. They were Jews who had made their way across treacherous terrain from Poland desperately seeking his help. They wanted Japanese visas which would enable them to flee Eastern Europe and the Gestapo.

Three times Sugihara wired Tokyo for permission to provide the visas; three times he was rejected. He had to choose between the fulfillment of his dream as an ambassador and people’s lives. He chose the latter. He dared to disobey orders. For twenty-eight days he wrote visas by hand, barely sleeping or eating. Recalled to Tokyo, he was still writing visas and shoving them through the train windows into the hands of the refugees who ran alongside. Ultimately, he saved six thousand lives.

Sugihara was not only a courageous Japanese, he was also a committed Christian. He spent his remaining days in Japan, humbly selling light bulbs. When his story was finally told, his son was asked, “How did your father feel about his choice?” The young man replied, “My father’s life was fulfilled. When God needed him to do the right thing, he was available to do it.”

Most of us will not be faced with the level of sacrifice that was thrust upon Ambassador Sugihara, but if we were, I hope that we would all be able to show his level of courage and commitment. The true meaning of sacrifice is to be able to give up something precious for the sake of someone else. We should not spend our lives looking for that great sacrifice but preparing for when it comes.

We may never be called upon to make an ultimate sacrifice, but we need learn to make those small sacrifices that define out lives. A life that is defined by selfishness and greed has no joy. God created us for joy and abundance and the realization that we are all our brothers’ keepers. In order to live life to the fullest, we must be willing to make sacrifices. There are sacrifices to God and to our neighbors.

Sacrifice does not bring scarcity but abundance. The fruits of sacrifice are blessing, joy and fulfillment. As we condition ourselves to be willing and able to sacrifice with this knowledge, we begin to see a new and greater world.



Quotes BannerLove proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers, and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love.

~~~Thérèse of Lisieux

Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.

~~~Pele

Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice and is never the result of selfishness.

~~~ Napoleon Hill

When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.

~~~Edmund Burke

Sometimes when you sacrifice something precious, you’re not really losing it. You’re just passing it on to someone else.

~~~Mitch Albom

As my sufferings mounted, I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation — either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.

~~~Martin Luther King Jr.

The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.

~~~Gaylord Nelson

Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice. It demands greater heroism than war. It demands greater fidelity to the truth and a much more perfect purity of conscience.

~~~Thomas Merton

The happiness of love is in action; its test is what one is willing to do for others.

~~~Lew Wallace 

Truth often sacrificed for the sake of stability and peace.

~~~Toba Beta



Scripture BannerSo Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

~~~Hebrews 9:28

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.

~~~Luke 9:24

To do what is right and just

is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

~~~Proverbs 21:3

Honor the Lord with your wealth,

with the first fruits of all your crops.

~~~Proverbs 3:9

Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.

~~~Romans 6:13

Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

~~~Matthew 20:28

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

~~~John 15:13

And walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

~~~Ephesians 5:2

To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving,

And call upon the name of the Lord.

~~~Psalm 116:17

When you sacrifice a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Lord, you shall sacrifice it so that you may be accepted.

~~~Leviticus 22:29Prayer BannerLord, Sacrifice is a hard thing. I was born with a nature to keep and accumulate, but you taught me by your own sacrifice the value of giving for others. Let your example be the blueprint and guide for my life. I ask you this day to give me the courage and strength to sacrifice for others as the need arises. May I learn the blessings of living a life of selflessness.

Amen

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This Week-Gift



Gift – The voluntary transference of property without anything in return. A faculty, power, or quality bestowed; a virtue or endowment looked on as an emanation from heaven.

(Oxford Dictionary)



A gift is the voluntary transference of property without anything in return. Each year at Christmas time we begin to search for the right gifts for those who are close to us, but with that definition are we really giving gifts? Christmas is a traditional time of giving, but we must remember that a true gift expects nothing in return. We must understand that the gifts of the Christmas and birthday sort are the acknowledgement of the worth and value of our relationship to the receiver only if we do not expect quid pro quo.

To better understand the concept of gift, we must look to God’s gift to us. He created us and gifted us with this world, and when we rejected it he still loved us and gifted us further. From the time we rejected his gift, he began to try to win us back. He was determined to recreate his creation. When all else had failed he came himself and offered us a path of grace. God is the ultimate example of a gift giver. The quotes and scriptures I have published in this piece examine the many facets of the word.

We are gifted with the ability to do certain things in life. There are those who can make beautiful music or paint beautiful pictures, and others who can write prose and poetry. All these and more are natural gifts which were bestowed upon us by God when he created us. We would do well to be grateful to him for what he has given us and use our talents and gifts for the betterment of his creation.

There are other gifts that are not as easily visible or understood. Paul said to the Corinthian church,”And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.” Simply put, God has equipped each one of us with the gift we need to be his partners in the salvation of his creation. This is most “other worldly” to think that God has given you something of himself that resides in you in a special way, and giving it with the free will to exercise it or to neglect it. He did give us a gift without expecting anything in return.

That is our challenge when we give to others. We are to learn to give without expectation of return. Just as we are overwhelmed by the grace of God, it is our hope that as we show our love to others it will be returned. That is the greatest gift of all.





Quotes Banner

Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.

― Mary Oliver

May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.

― J.R.R. Tolkien

What you are is God’s gift to you, what you become is your gift to God.

― Hans Urs von Balthasar

Everyone has a gift for something, even if it is the gift of being a good friend.

― Marian Anderson

A friend is a gift you give yourself.

― Robert Louis Stevenson

My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.

― Jim Valvano

Every problem is a gift – without problems we would not grow.

― Anthony Robbins

You can do something extraordinary, and something that a lot of people can’t do. And if you have the opportunity to work on your gifts, it seems like a crime not to. I mean, it’s just weakness to quit because something becomes too hard.

― Morgan Matson

Buy a gift for a dog, and you’ll be amazed at the way it will dance and swerve its tail, but if don’t have anything to offer to it, it won’t even recognize your arrival; such are the attributes of fake friends.

― Michael Bassey Johnson

A wonderful gift may not be wrapped as you expect.”

― Jonathan Lockwood Huie

The great art of giving consists in this the gift should cost very little and yet be greatly coveted, so that it may be the more highly appreciated.

― Baltasar Gracian

The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof, lie detector. This is the writer’s radar and all great writers have had it.

― Ernest Hemingway

Being present to yourself in love and with kindness is the ultimate gift.

― Amy Leigh Mercree





Scripture BannerAs each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

~~~1 Peter 4:10

Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;

~~~Romans 12:6

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.

~~~1 Corinthians 12:4

For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.

~~~2 Timothy 1:6

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

~~~Ephesians 4:7

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

~~~Romans 6:23

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

~~~James 1:17

Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery.

~~~1 Timothy 4:14

Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

~~~John 4:10

And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.

~~~1 Corinthians 12:28

Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,

The fruit of the womb is a reward.

~~~Psalm 127:3

Prayer Banner

Lord, The greatest gift you have given me is yourself. Now I implore you to give me the gift of giving to others in the manner you have given to me. With that gift I can begin to set the world right. Allow me to be your servant of giving, so that I may help spread joy and happiness to the world. In some small measure, help it to become what you intended it to be.

Amen

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Full of Promise

A new beginning! We must learn to live each day, each hour, yes, each minute as a new beginning, as a unique opportunity to make everything new. Imagine that we could live each moment as a moment pregnant with new life. Imagine that we could live each day as a day full of promise. Imagine that we could walk through the new year always listening to a voice saying to us: “I have a gift for you and can’t wait for you to see it!” Imagine.

~~~Henri Nouwen

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope

~~~Jeremiah 29:11



I believe that we were all created in the image of God. That means we are full of promise. Henri Nouwen said of God’s intentions ,” I have a gift for you and can’t wait for you to see it!” These words resonate in my soul and create a new vision for life. The world would be so different if we viewed ourselves and all we encounter through such a perspective.

A life full of promise has self worth and strives to live life to the fullest. People who lack self worth are abused and many times become abusers. A healthy self worth brings us closer to God and each other. A person with a positive self image is more likely to help raise the status of others. Positive self worth makes the world a better place.

Being full of promise means that we believe that God is at work in the world. That makes all the difference! So many people live bleak and desperate lives because they believe that everything that happens is their doing. God wants to help us. He wants to make us more fully whole. We are the crown jewel of his creation, and we are special to him. God never stops creating and recreating, and we are the beneficiaries of his work.

Being full of promise just means that each day brings a new challenge and a new blessing, and both are part of God’s word within us. Face the day, and claim the promise everyday.

Prayer

Lord, It is good to know that you give us a promise of a future that is ripe with possibility. Strengthen us when we fall into negative thinking. Uplift us when we feel defeated. Give us the vision of a life of promise. We know that is the life you created for us.

Amen

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This Week-Sorrow



  Definition

Sorrow – The outward expression of grief; lamentation, morning, physical pain or suffering. 

(Oxford Dictionary)





The year 2020 has brought with it a lion size load of sorrows.The sorrow of the pandemic, the sorrow of the social division of our country, the sorrow of the many who have lost jobs or businesses, and of late, the sorrow of an unseasonable hurricane. This small list may be only the tip of the iceberg. We must be reminded that grief and sorrow are an integral part of life. We can never escape sorrow, but we can learn the role of sorrow in our lives.

Sorrow is a time of discovery. During our time of sorrow we become aware of our essential needs of life. Before we experience sorrow , grief or loss we feel that we need every toy, trinket, person or status that we enjoy. The sorrow of loss then allows us to discover who we are without some of the trappings and people that we had so depended upon. This is a discovery that can make us stronger than we were before.

Sorrow is a time of cleansing. As we experience the sorrow of disappointment or loss, we can cleanse our lives of the unnecessary things or relationships that may be harmful to us. As we cleanse ourselves, we come to understand the necessary and cleanse the discretionary. Our lives become less weighty and much more uninhibited.

Sorrow is a time of healing. Undeniably, sorrow is a heavy burden. It comes with loss and disappointment. Our souls cry out in our times of sorrow for healing. This healing can only come through our faith. When we allow our faith to become the healing catalyst, we open the door to a complete healing of the soul. Through this process of healing, we find ourselves newer and better people.

Sorrow is a time of perspective. When sorrow enters our lives we take a fresh inventory and begin to sort out some things. This sorting brings some new perspectives that cry out for change. As we shift into the post-sorrow paradigm, we can become different people. Life takes on new meaning, new energy and new direction. Some things that seemed so important are now very much relegated to a different place in our lives.

Our time of sorrow is a time of learning and growth. No one ever invites sorrow into their lives, but it will come. During our time of sorrow we must look for the purpose of the sorrow. As the Sufi mystic, Rumi, tells us,”It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. “

Be aware that sorrow will be followed by joy.





Quotes BannerWe need never be ashamed of our tears.

― Charles Dickens

Do not apologize for crying. Without this emotion, we are only robots.

― Elizabeth Gilbert

Those who do not weep, do not see.

― Victor Hugo

Deep in earth my love is lying And I must weep alone.

― Edgar Allan Poe

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.

― C.S. Lewis

She was a genius of sadness, immersing herself in it, separating its numerous strands, appreciating its subtle nuances. She was a prism through which sadness could be divided into its infinite spectrum.

― Jonathan Safran Foer

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

― Kahlil Gibran

Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before–more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.

― Charles Dickens

Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.

― Rumi

Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.” But I say unto you, they are inseparable. Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

― Kahlil Gibran

Given the choice between the experience of pain and nothing, I would choose pain.

― William Faulkner

Well, here at last, dear friends, on the shores of the Sea comes the end of our fellowship in Middle-earth. Go in peace! I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.

― J.R.R. Tolkien





Scripture Banner

Why did I ever come forth from the womb

To look on trouble and sorrow,

So that my days have been spent in shame?

~~~Jeremiah 20:18

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials,

~~~1 Peter 1:6

For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow.

~~~Philippians 2:27

And they began to weep aloud and embraced Paul, and repeatedly kissed him,

~~~Acts 20:37

Then Joseph fell on his father’s face, and wept over him and kissed him.

~~~Genesis 50:1

Now they were all weeping and lamenting for her; but He said, “Stop weeping, for she has not died, but is asleep.”

~~~Luke 8:52

By the rivers of Babylon,

There we sat down and wept,

When we remembered Zion.

~~~Psalm 137:1

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted

And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

~~~Psalm 34:18

Prayer BannerLord, There are times when I despair in sorrow, but I know that you will allow me to emerge from that sorrow with new purpose and understanding. I ask you now to help me to navigate this time in such a way that I still have hope. I put myself into your arms of mercy and love, and ask for relief that only you can give.

Amen

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This Week-Promise

Promise – A declaration or assurance by which a person undertakes a commitment to do or refrain from doing a specific act. A divine assurance of future benefit or blessing. 

(Oxford Dictionary)



Jesus made a promise to you and me when he said, “I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.” A promise is comforting in times of need. A promise is something we can rely on when times are bad. A promise is an assurance that we are never totally alone. A promise is a diamond in a pile of coal. A promise is our last best hope.

We take promises so lightly that they begin to become meaningless. Jesus did not. He carried his promise through the humiliation and suffering of the cross. He continues that promise by the presence of the Holy Spirit in each of us. I know that my Savior is with me -no matter what.

Today, I want you to look at the promises that you have made to God, yourself and others. Do we live in the presence of our promises? Are they the guides of our lives? As people of the promise, we must know how to make a promise and how to keep it.

That brings me to the uncomfortable part of my thoughts on the word promise. As sinners, saved by grace, we have and will break promises. God has told us he will be with us always, and that is good to know. He keeps his promises when we have broken our own, but we must not take his assurance lightly. When we break a promise to God or another person there must be a time of penance and reflection, because such a time allows us to own our sin. God forgives us only when we take responsibility.

This forgiveness is only the beginning of being a child of the promise. The promise is his presence and guidance in our lives. God’s guidance makes possible things that are impossible for us. When we have fallen, we need not feel alone but simply down for the moment. He is there and will reconcile us to him and to the world.

Try to take a promise inventory this week. Look at the promises of God and thank him for them. After you have done so, look at the promises you have made to him and what is required of you to be faithful and true. The next step is to look at the promises you have made to others and your consistency in keeping your promises.

A promise is a declaration of commitment to an action.

How are you doing with your promises today?



Quotes Banner

Don’t promise when you’re happy. Don’t reply when you’re angry and don’t decide when you’re sad.

~~~Anonymous

Wisdom is the abstract of the past, but beauty is the promise of the future.

~~~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

It is a promise which eminently deserves our observation that all who are united to Christ and acknowledge Him to be Christ and Mediator will remain to the end safe from all danger, for what is said of the body of the Church belongs to each of its members since they are one in Christ.

~~~John Calvin

Promise yourself, no matter how hard it gets, you’ll never give up on your dreams

~~~Anonymous

The future is as bright as the promises of God.

~~~William Carey

I weep for the liberty of my country when I see at this early day of its successful experiment that corruption has been imputed to many members of the House of Representatives, and the rights of the people have been bartered for promises of office.

~~~Andrew Jackson

Grow in the root of all grace, which is faith. Believe God’s promises more firmly than ever. Allow your faith to increase in its fullness, firmness, and simplicity.

~~~Charles Spurgeon

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.

~~~Robert Frost

Beauty is the promise of happiness.

~~~Edmund Burke

Success is full of promise till one gets it, and then it seems like a nest from which the bird has flown.

~~~Henry Ward Beecher

Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees, and looks to God alone; Laughs at impossibilities, and cries it shall be done.

~~~Charles Wesley

One of the greatest gifts we can give people is the hope that their death is nothing to fear – you know, not that it has no fear in it, but the promise of scripture is that God will lead us through the valley of the shadow of death.

~~~Max Lucado

Scripture Banner

See, the Lord God comes with might,

   and his arm rules for him;

his reward is with him,

   and his recompense before him.

~~~Isaiah 40:10

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.’

~~~Deuteronomy 31 :8

I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!’

~~~John 16 :33

I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;

   I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

~~~Psalm 32:8

Our steps are made firm by the Lord,

   when he delights in our way;

though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong,

   for the Lord holds us by the hand.

~~~Psalm 37:23-24

‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

~~~ Matthew 11 :28-29

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. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

~~~ 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.

 ~~~Jeremiah 29 :11

Prayer Banner

Lord, I know that you keep the promises that you have made to me. Give me the strength and insight to follow through on the promises I have made to you. Let me become a person of promise who keeps the promises I have made to others. I pray for the wisdom to be able to follow your example as I journey through life. I look forward to the day when I will receive the ultimate promise – when I dwell with you. Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

Amen

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An Elusive Lesson

Abba Marcarius the Great said to the brothers at Scetis, when he dismissed the assembly, ‘Flee my brothers.’ One of the old men asked him, ’Where could we flee beyond the desert?’ He put his finger on his lips and said, ‘Flee that,” and he went into his cell, shut the door and sat down.

— sayings of the desert

There is a quite popular saying in the advertising business – location, location, location. When the monk questioned Marcarius, he was saying we desert monks are in the perfect location. Surely in this desert we have retreated from everything, and are in danger from nothing. Not so, says the great master. The greatest temptation of all still plagued them, and they had overlooked it. Their greatest opponent was the corrupt communication that would come out of their mouths.

The sin of gossip, slander and others originate from the word@ijboudreaux s that come out of our mouths. Silence and introspection are our greatest friends. We must all think before we speak, and remain silent instead of having an opinion on everything. In the plethora of words that spew out of our mouths, much harm is done. The brother had just been dismissed from assembly (worship/prayer) , and Marcarius urged them to go back to their cells and reflect on the revelation that had received rather than to speak idle words to each other. This is a hard but worthy lesson for us.

Prayer Thought – Lord let us see the value of times of silence and reflection.
 

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