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Posts: 480,021 10/15/09 7:00 A
DEVOTION FOR DIETERS By: Dan Dick
1 Corinthians 10:12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
Peter dressed for the dinner. His friends tried to tell him he shouldn't go, but he ignored them. He'd been doing great on his diet. He was in total control. He knew there would be wonderful and exotic food where he was going, but he could handle it. Too bad he forgot that when he got there. The temptation was too great for him. Before he realized what was happening, he was stuffed. In one day, he blew a couple of weeks of hard work. We can't afford to get cocky when we diet. Each day is a new struggle all its own. Ask God for daily help. Avoid situations where temptation prevails. The Lord will be sure to help you, whenever you let Him.
Today's thought: I will steer clear of calorie traps!
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12: 9a
There are times when a person just doesn't want help.
That's the way it was for Signor Dorando, the champion Italian long distance runner who participated in the 1908 Olympics.
With 30 yards to go, Dorando was two laps ahead of everyone else.
That's when Dorando collapsed.
If he had crawled, Dorando might have won the race; but Dorando didn't crawl.
The friendly crowd urged him on after the champion had staggered back to his feet.
A well-wishing supporter put his hand on Dorando's back to steady him. The fan didn't shove or push, he just steadied. The action was enough.
The judges disqualified Dorando because he had been helped.
Dorando can tell you: there are times when we don't want help. But there are more times when we need the help of an expert.
When a student is stumped on a problem; he needs help. When we have a flat tire in a rainstorm, we welcome assistance. At such times it's good to have someone stop and say, "Can I be of service?"
That is exactly what God has done for us. Seeing our helpless condition, the Lord sent His Son to "be of service'. It was a gracious, Godly act which cost the Savior His life. Still, because of what Jesus has done, all who believe on Him are forgiven and blessed with the gift of eternal life.
Which makes this devotion a reminder: there are times when we don't want to be helped, but sometimes, like when it comes to being saved, we need all the help we can get.
THE PRAYER: Dear Savior, when it came to saving myself, I was weak and helpless. That I have been rescued from sin, death, and devil is due to Your great sacrifice. Now, may I, with a thankful spirit, give You honor and glory. In Your Name. Amen.
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9 NIV)
Devotion: As I tried to catch a few more minutes of sleep, my husband leaned over and whispered that he was going to the pool. We were on a Florida vacation so going to the pool would be a normal activity for many people, just not my husband. He is not someone who "goes to the pool." Ever. The beach, maybe, but usually only when I go with him for a walk.
So, when he kissed me and headed out the hotel door alone I was curious, although not curious enough to miss a little more shut eye! As I rolled over thirty minutes later, I realized he hadn't come back yet, so I did a little snooping.
I went onto our balcony to see if I could get a glimpse of him, wondering what he might be doing. As I scanned the pool area, I caught sight of a homeless man sitting on the side of the road leading to the public beach entrance. I remembered passing him the day before as he was sleeping in the grass. Today, however, he was sitting with his legs crossed, coffee in hand, talking to someone. I leaned a little further over the edge of the balcony and my heart skipped as I realized it was my husband. The two of them were sitting on rocks, drinking cups of coffee, engaged in conversation.
I watched them from a distance for about twenty minutes until they parted ways. My husband looked so comfortable talking to this man. They were laughing, smiling and having a nice time. I learned he offered to do the guy's laundry, and then sent him on his way with a little cash.
I had to pause a moment and ask myself if I would have been gutsy enough to do the same. Would I approach a complete stranger just to sit and talk? Would I offer someone hungry a coffee and a breakfast bar as my husband did?
As I pondered their encounter I thought about the kind of man my husband is. You see, he's not the type to get up early and read his Bible every single day, and he's not on any committees at church. What you will see him do though, is talk to homeless men, give money to needy strangers, and be kind to people. You know, "be Jesus" to others.
I believe God asks each one of us to step out and "be Jesus." Sometimes, though, we get so consumed with everyday life we just don't do it, or we say we'll do it later because we don't have time now.
I also believe that God doesn't ask us to do anything that He hasn't already prepared us for. You see, my husband was homeless as a teenager. He was forced to live on his own from the time he was 15 years old. He learned to find shelter in snowdrifts, basements, and abandoned cars. He has a heart for the unlovely, the runaways, and those whose clothes aren't so clean.
We each have gifts, talents and past experiences that allow us to reach out and touch others in ways that will be meaningful to them. It often doesn't cost us more than a cup of coffee to do so. What experiences or passions do you have that would make you a perfect candidate to reach out to someone today?
Dear God, open my eyes to the people around me so I can make a difference to someone else. I know the circumstances of my life are not left in vain when I offer myself to You and Your service. Provide a way for me to "be Jesus" to someone today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Psalm 121:1-2 I will life up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.
Sonya was just about to dip into the ice cream when her doorbell rang. Guiltily, she threw the container into the freezer and slammed the door. Rushing to the hallway, she opened the door and found her sister standing there. Time after time, her sister showed up when she was most needed. Sonya couldn't believe the number of times her sister had been there to help her resist temptation. Sonya felt God was really watching out for her. Whenever her own strength gave out, God sent someone along who could strengthen her. Relieved, she let her sister in and told her the service she had just performed.
Today's thought: Strength comes from unexpected places when our own gives out!
Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
Sam remembered the POW camp he had spent six years in. Whenever he began to feel sorry for himself as he dieted, he remembered the time in his life when he really had something to be upset about. Dieting was nothing compared to what he had suffered. It humbled him a little. He gained great strength from the memory. God had gotten him through the war, so he knew God could get him through the diet. As long as he had the memory of all he had come through before, he knew he could make it through anything else that came his way.
Today's thought: God brings me through every situation, whether large or small.
OUR DAILY DEVOTION By: Pastor Ken R. Klaus October 3, 2009
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial. . . . James 1:12a
It doesn't make much difference how old you are, temptation can always be a problem.
Temptation was the problem for the ten-year-old boy whose parents told him not to go to a movie. You need not be a rocket scientist to guess that movie was the place where mom and dad found their son the following Saturday.
As they drove home, the mother took the role of parental spokesperson. With her voice showing an appropriate mixture of sadness and icy coldness, she said, "Young man, I want, I mean we want an answer. We told you not to go to that movie. Whatever possessed you to disobey us and do that?"
She didn't wait for his reply. She was on a roll and continued, "You knew we wouldn't be happy. You knew we would have to punish you. Why? Why would you break your mother's heart?"
Eventually, mom ran out of steam and that pause gave the boy an opportunity to share his well-rehearsed explanation.
He said, "Mom, it's not my fault. I just couldn't help myself. I was out on the street when I first smelled that popcorn. I wanted to smell it better. That's why I walked up to the ticket booth. I wasn't going to go in. I wouldn't disobey you. But the outside entrance of the theater was so slick from all the buttered popcorn spilt over the years, I just slid inside.
Then, trying to change the subject, the boy asked, "I think that's dangerous for older people, don't you? We ought to put up a sign or go and tell somebody. Who should we tell?"
Like the boy, people from mankind's first days have been sliding inside to temptation and doing all manner of things they shouldn't. Understand, your temptation may not be mine, and ours may not do anything for the person next door. Even so, we all have sins into which we slide.
This really takes us to the point of this devotion. If you have a personal temptation that has been hard to shake -- a propensity to sin you've not been able to conquer on your own -- help is available.
The Lord Jesus wishes, through His sinless sacrifice and His ongoing presence, to change you.
Those who are turned to Him in faith find He has the ability not only to forgive sins of the past, but the desire to fix your future as well.
For such a transformation, for victory over temptation we pray the words below:
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, the devil has had a lot of practice at tempting souls. Sadly, he has a lot of success in getting us to sin. This is why I need Your help, Your forgiveness, and the presence of the Holy Spirit. Strengthen me so I may resist sin and Satan and bear witness to the transforming power of Your love. In Your Name. Amen.
OUR ENCOURAGEMENT FOR THE DAY! By: Lysa TerKeurst October 2, 2009
Thorns and Petals
"The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature." Luke 8:14 (NIV)
Devotion: My life has not been a bed of roses.
What an odd statement. It is supposed to mean that I haven't lived a life without snags and hurt. However, think of an actual bed of roses. Doesn't it have both thorns and flowers?
Let me say, if I was reading this devotion and I saw it was going to be about roses, I might be tempted to click "delete" while rolling my eyes and thinking the last thing the world needs is another cutesy Christian analogy. But stick with me here. There is something significant to be discovered about roses and thorns.
My aunt has grown roses for years. When I was in middle school and my family was falling apart, I went to live with my aunt for almost a year. I remember her telling me not to run through her rose garden. After all, she had what seemed like hundreds of other acres that unfolded in wide open fields. I could run there.
But I didn't want to.
I only wanted to run through the rose garden. I wanted to spread my arms wide open and run between the rows brushing my fingertips across all the velvety blooms. I wanted some of the blooms to burst and shower petals all around. Then I could gather the petals and spread them along my path.
As if I could carve a new place in this world lined with beauty and void of adult words like divorce, rejection, and hate ... I wanted my world to be soft, pink, and lovely. So, I took a running start with my arms outstretched only to be shocked with searing pain within the first few steps.
Thorns. Big, mean, vicious thorns. Thorns that ripped my flesh and opened up the flood of tears I'd been so determined to hold back. Suddenly, I hated that bush. I wanted to chop it down and beat it into the ground. But I couldn't do it. I couldn't bring myself to destroy something that produced such beauty.
I stood back from the source of my pain and wondered should I call it a bush of thorns or a bush of flowers. Really, it could go either way.
Suddenly I wasn't just staring at a bush. I was staring at my life. My life. Such a bed of roses. Would I see the hurt or would I see the beauty?
Luke 8:14 says, "The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature." The seed being referred to here is the Word of God. Isn't it interesting that people who are choked by life's circumstances and never mature are referred to as having thorns in the soil of their soul? Yes, life sometimes hands us thorns but we have the choice to park our mind on the thorn or on the beauty it can eventually produce in us if only we'll cling tightly to God's Word. For however a person thinks is how they will eventually become.
If we dwell on and think about the negative in life, we will become negative and God's Word will have a hard time taking root in our souls. If, however, we acknowledge the negative but choose instead to look for the good that can come from it, God's Word will take root in our souls and produce a lush crop of beauty.
It all comes down to choice. That day in my aunt's garden, I chose to be aware of the thorns but park my mind on the petals.
And I guess you could say, I've been making that choice every day since.
Dear Lord, it can be really hard to focus on the petals rather than the thorns of life. Really hard. Will you help me? I want the soil of my soul to be healthy and ready to receive Your Word. I want to produce beauty in my life despite the thorns by which I've been so hurt. Will You show me how? In Jesus' Name, Amen.
OUR DAILY DEVOTION By: Pastor Ken R. Klaus October 2, 2009
"Care For Your Body"
Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ: The salvation story of Jesus Christ reaches around the world. So that the readers of our Daily Devotion may see the power of the Savior on a global scale, we have asked the volunteers of our International Ministry Centers to write our Friday devotions. We pray that the Spirit may touch your day through their words. In Christ, I remain, His servant and yours,Kenneth R. Klaus. **** According to a popular story, a pilgrim decided to find the "Country of Truth." When the day of departure arrived, he slung his backpack over his shoulder and started out. How long some of the days felt! However, what great expectations filled his heart! Some of the days were wonderful: the landscape, the road and, above all, his travelling companions made for a great trip. Whenever he needed to renew his strength, he would stop by the roadside with his companions.
These breaks were absolutely essential in order to rest and eat, but he knew he could not take too many or he would never reach his goal. And so, day after day, month after month, rest after rest, the pilgrim continued until he reached his destination.
He was happy in the Country of Truth and every year he would undertake a fresh journey towards new destinations. In preparation, he had to train his body in order to reach his goal.
To be physically fit is certainly an emphasis in the world we live. Participating in sports, going to the gym, walking, being mindful of diet -- all these things help establish a fit body. Our body, however, is not our exclusive property, but belongs to God, who gave it to us. Above all, it is His body because He has bought it at a very high price: the blood of His Son, Jesus. This body we have is no longer ours, but God's, who inhabits it, as Paul writes in Corinthians: "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?"
To destroy our body is to destroy something sacred God gives us. Therefore, let us not just care for its physical appearance, but let us also take every precaution to prevent harming it. Let us protect it from accidents and fights, excess drinking, cigarettes and drugs, excess food or exaggerated diets.
Let the fact of being a child of God, purchased by Christ, and being the temple of the living God in this world, be a challenge and lead you to care for your body and your health every day.
THE PRAYER: Beloved Father, keep us in Your care that we may always be able to serve You and love You with our body, soul, mind, and spirit, living and giving with joy. Amen.
OUR ENCOURAGEMENT FOR THE DAY! By: Amy Carroll October 1, 2009
"Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life." Proverbs 16:31 (NIV)
"There comes a moment when you know that your face has changed; when that effortless glow you always had going for you suddenly requires serious effort. For me, that moment came on the first of August at 4:13 pm, Eastern Daylight Time, while buying a pound and a half of chicken breasts at Simchyk and Sons." - Lisa Kogan
At first I laughed hysterically when I read those lines from an article. Pretty soon, though, I realized that the laugh was just hysteria and that it had a real note of panic in it. It hit a little too close to home, because I had my own well-defined realization of my aging recently. I caught a glimpse of myself in the reflection of my car window, and I almost turned to see who was standing behind me.
Unfortunately, the neck that was reflected was my own. I just couldn't understand where all those little crepe-y lines had come from. I had never seen them before. Upon reflection, I think I must even do the turtle neck in the mirror. You know the move. It's the stretch I do with my neck during pictures to try to eliminate any extra chins. Evidently, I've been doing it in the mirror, too, and that's why I hadn't seen any of those wrinkles on my neck!
I had a significant birthday this year, and there were almost instant changes in my face. I've enlisted my good friend Holly to be my dealer -I mean supplier - of skin care products. Even though Proverbs assures me that my gray hairs are a crown, I still want my crown hidden for a while under color from a bottle. I want to age gracefully but not suddenly!
With all the angst over a few wrinkles, I have to admit that I'm also embracing all the good stuff that comes with age. There's actually a lot to celebrate. I have gradually felt myself feeling more comfortable in my own skin. Although I strive to make my words godly, I also feel bolder and more empowered to stand up and speak up. I've increasingly realized that although I have nothing to offer, Jesus in me has everything to offer. I'm relishing becoming the older woman who knows a little bit about the world, mothering, pursuing a passion and cultivating a walk with God.
My outward body may be deteriorating, but I know that running hard on the heels of Jesus will keep me spiritually fit and beautiful. I can revel in each year as long as my image is more closely matching His image.
I see the stretch of the years in front of me as the stretch to truly begin looking more like Jesus. It's the stretch where, if I do it right, the outside matters less and less. The world is less and less attractive. Heaven becomes more and more my home. My character is more and more submitted to Jesus, and my final destination is in sight. I may decide to apply specialized creams to my neck and dye to my hair, but the increase in years is worth it to gain from God the things I need to be a woman of substance!
Dear Lord, help me to keep laughing about all the changes in my body as I age, but help me to take inner change seriously. I truly want to grow older and godlier instead of older and grouchier. In Jesus' precious Name, Amen.
OUR ENCOURAGEMENT FOR THE DAY! By: Marybeth Whalen September 29, 2009
A Mere Piece of Bronze
"He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan)." II Kings 18:4 (NIV)
I used to have a quote, cut from a magazine article, taped above my desk. I can't recall the exact quote, but the gist of it was that while our children are gifts from God, it's easy to let them become little idols. I remember the shock value of reading those words printed on the page. My children? Idols? It sounded like heresy! But as I allowed the words to sink in, I realized that the person who penned those words was right. Most anything can become an idol in our hearts -becoming more important th an our relationship with God, taking priority over His place in our life.
In Numbers 21:8-9, God told the Israelites to raise a bronze snake on a pole and look to it in order to be healed. Seven hundred years later, the Israelites had gotten off track. They had turned that snake - something that was God's idea -into an idol they worshiped. In our verse for today, we see Hezekiah destroying the snake in an effort to turn the people's hearts back to God. The word Nehushtan in the verse means "a mere piece of bronze." The bronze snake was not the answer to the people's problems. They had attached too much significance to it. Hezekiah had no choice but to refocus their attention where it needed to be by physically removing the idol.
Idols can take many forms in our lives. Family members and friends can become idols. Doctors and medicine can become idols. Work and hobbies can become idols. Entertainment - movies, TV, music, games - can become idols. Food can become an idol. An idol by definition is anything that we place our trust in, anything that takes precedence over God. While we may not pray to it and burn incense to it, it becomes more important than anything, including God. Just like God designed the snake to be a good thing in the lives of His people, so He allows us to have good things in our lives. He just doesn't want us to get things out of whack, as we are prone to do. It's not that the thing itself is the problem; it's our attitude about that thing.
God showed me that I needed to destroy any idols in my life. For me, I had to spend a lot of time refocusing my priorities. I started with how important I had made my husband and children. Yes, my family needed me. Yes, I needed to spend time with them. Yes, I loved them dearly. But they couldn't take the place of my relationship with the Lord. I had to put them in their proper place and renew my perspective. This can only be done with intentionality and continual heart work. God gives u s good things to enjoy - family and friends and work and food and hobbies and entertainment. But He has also given us Himself, opening the door wide for us to come before His throne. May we keep good things in their place and keep God on the throne of our lives.
Dear Lord, please get my attention when I get distracted. Help me to keep the good things in my life where they belong and to keep You first. Help me destroy any idols I have placed ahead of You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
DEVOTION FOR DIETERS By: Dan Dick September 29, 2009
John 16:33 'These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.'
Leo wanted to remember how tough it was. He'd lost the weight, but he never wanted to get back into the poor shape he'd recently been in. It would be way too easy to fall back into bad habits, thinking that the battle was won once for all time. It was nice to have succeeded. But Leo planned to make sure his success lasted a good, long time. It is nice to overcome obesity, but it is an ongoing battle. We should ally ourselves with the one true conqueror: Jesus Christ. With Christ's help, we can continue to triumph over our weight problems. He grants not only peace, but power to overcome any obstacle.
Today's thought: If we empty our plate, we won't lose our weight!
DEVOTION FOR DIETERS By: Dan Dick September 28, 2009
Isaiah 41:13 For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.
When Jenny was young, her mother used to hold her hand whenever Jenny was afraid or worried. Just the feel of her mother's hand in hers gave her strength and courage. There were days when Jenny wished her mom was close enough to hold her hands again, but she lived hundreds of miles away. She especially wanted her mother's support now that she was dieting. Whenever things got particularly tough, she would close her eyes to say a short prayer. As she prayed, she imagined her hand in Jesus' hand, and she felt a wonderful peace and comfort. That image gave Jenny all the strength she needed.
Today's thought: I'm never too heavy for God to pick up!
OUR ENCOURAGEMENT FOR THE DAY! By: Susanne Scheppmann September 27, 2009
A Reflection of God’s Glory
“How many are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures . . . May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works.” Psalm 104:24, 31 (NIV)
Devotion: Modern technology is amazing. I remember as a child watching high-speed photography of a flower budding and blooming. The photography captured days of nature’s movement and beauty, so that in a few minutes I could see and understand what took place in my garden.
Even though we can see pictures, movies, and read books on the wonder of nature, there is nothing like experiencing it for ourselves.
So often, we miss the glory of God in nature. Stress and busyness hinder our senses from recognizing the beauty of God’s creation. We allow life’s mundane tasks to strip us of opportunities to increase our faith. Yet the earth’s Creator gifted us with the five senses—sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. He did this so we can experience His character and personality.
Our God rules nature—nature does not control God. The Creator spread out the stars in the heavens and set the foundations of the earth. He covered it with water and then set the boundaries of the seas. He assigned the rivers to their places in the mountains. He provides water to all living things. God causes grass and plants to grow. He provides nutrition and lodging for His creatures. He enables us to cultivate and work the earth so we, in return, will glorify Him.
The Lord has given us proof through nature that He exists and that He provides for His creation. My faith increases when I stop to think about the miraculous beauty of nature. If God can take care of the mighty heavens and the spinning earth, then I know He is able to take care of me.
Dear Lord, open my eyes to Your wonders. Forgive me for taking for granted so many things that are amazing creations formed by Your hands. As I watch for nature to display Your wonder, increase my faith in You, my Creator. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
OUR DAILY DEVOTION By: Pastor Ken R. Klaus September 26, 2009
... He has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." So we can confidently say, "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?" Hebrews 13:5b-6
Most of us have heard the expression: "Into each life some rain must fall." From what people tell me, that expression, "Into each life some rain must fall," is a great understatement.
In truth, sometimes it seems like the rain falling in our lives is a never-ending monsoon. All too often it seems as if our resources to cope and survive are being pushed to their limits.
If you've ever felt that way, you might want to remember the true story of a besieged Scottish castle. For months the enemy had camped outside the castle's walls. For months the inhabitants inside had been virtual prisoners.
The invaders concluded the castle's inhabitants must be nearing the point of starvation. Confidently, they sent in some messengers to demand the immediate and total surrender of the fortress. In reply, the people of the castle threw a great string of fresh fish over their wall.
A subterranean passage to the sea had been enabling them to obtain an endless supply of food.
And how does that apply to you and me?
It applies this way: if you feel surrounded by problems and hassles, it is my prayer you also realize Jesus is your source of support. Yes, it's a good thing to rely on friends and family. They can be excellent in providing support. Sadly, they have a tendency to move away or pass away.
The same kind of weakness applies to any one or any thing in which you may look for help. The only real, ongoing, support this life can offer is the Savior. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us. He has offered to hear our prayers, to walk by our side, and to help carry our burdens.
Now, I don't know who is going to besiege me today. You don't know either. But I do know there is no force this world can marshal which can starve me out. I have a source of support who will be there to help me through -- guaranteed.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, there is no question the world is dedicated to wearing me down. I am thankful that You will give me the courage to get past my enemies, and by Jesus' grace, bring me to the final victory. Now, while my race is being run, give me that which I need to be faithful to You. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
OUR ENCOURAGEMENT FOR THE DAY! By: Lysa TerKeurst September 25, 2009
A Morning Prayer
Teach each me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name." Psalm 86:11 (NIV)
Devotion: It is very early in the morning. Not many people are stirring yet.
Though my body begs me just to roll over and go back to sleep, my soul is stirring to get up and go sit with Jesus.
Though I can't physically see Him, I know He is present.
I decide to open my Bible to the Psalms and use the verses I read as prayers to start my day. And the more I pray those verses out loud the less I hear all the nagging things of the world. A beautiful melody of truth starts to rise up and suddenly my worries fade in the light of God's truth.
His perspective on things that are troubling me starts to overshadow my anxiety. Like shade on a hot summer's day, I feel relief in His presence.
I know that He is preparing me for what I will need throughout this day. He is already standing in every minute of my day and He sees what I will face. So, He's equipping me to be able to handle what is ahead of me with His gentle boldness, quiet strength, and loving grace.
In Psalm 81:10b, God instructs me, "Open wide your mouth and I will fill it." He will give me what to say today. What to say in happy moments. What to say in aggravating moments. What to say in moments where I feel insecure and what to say when I feel completely confident. What to say in disappointing moments. What to say in response to questions.
He also reminds me that sometimes it is good to keep my mouth closed and say nothing at all.
All the words that rumble about in my brain and those that will proceed out of my mouth, Lord, You be the author of those.
Psalm 84:1 reminds me that God's dwelling place is lovely. So, I ask God to dwell in me richly. I want Him to be what radiates about me. I want Him to be my pretty today.
Not my hair. Not my outfit. Not my efforts. But simply Him and His spirit dancing invisibly about me... shifting a wrong attitude, guarding my words, and whispering constant truths into my heart.
Psalm 86:11 is what I ask the Lord to give me. "Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart..."
Lord, may nothing separate me from You today. Teach me how to choose only Your way today so each step will lead me closer to You. Help me walk by the truth and not my feelings.
Help me to keep my heart pure and undivided. Protect me from my own careless thoughts, words and actions. And keep me from being distracted by MY wants, MY desires, MY thoughts on how things should be.
Help me to embrace what comes my way as an opportunity...rather than a personal inconvenience.
And finally, help me to rest in the truth of Psalm 86:13a, "Great is your love toward me."
You already see all the many ways I will surely fall short and mess up. But right now, I consciously tuck Your whisper of absolute love for me into the deepest part of my heart. I recognize Your love for me is not based on my performance. You love me warts and all.
Have mercy, that's amazing.
But what's most amazing is that the God of the Universe, the Savior of the world, would desire a few minutes with me this morning. Lord, help me to forever remember what a gift it is to sit with You like this.
Dear Lord, I love You. All that I have read here is the desire of my heart. I know and confess that sometimes my actions and reactions betray my love for You. Please forgive me. Thank You for Your grace that is able to recognize this new day as a new chance to walk closer with You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
OUR ENCOURAGEMENT FOR THE DAY! By: Wendy Blight September 24, 2009
A DIVINE APPOINTMENT
He answered, '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, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" Luke 10:27 (NIV)
Every Memorial Day weekend my friend Karen and I travel with our families to Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, for five days of rest and relaxation. We just cannot wait to dig our toes in the sand, take long walks on the beach, and enjoy the island's incredible sunsets. Every trip is special, but this most recent trip stood above all others.
Karen and I ran to the local grocery. Feeding nine people for five days resulted in two carts overflowing with food and supplies. We approached the checkout lines looking for the shortest line. We chose a line with an older wo man without a cart. Apparently waiting on someone else, she motioned for us to go ahead of her. Moments later, a young woman scurried up pushing a crying child in a half-full cart. It was clear the older woman was frustrated that they now had to wait behind us, so we offered to give her back her place in line.
As the young woman and her child passed by me, my heart began to pound. I physically began to tremble. I felt God impressing upon my heart that Karen and I were to buy her groceries. I hesitated, but past experience caused me to obey. I tapped the young woman on the shoulder and spoke these exact words, "I know it sounds strange, but God told me that we are to buy your groceries."
She graciously accepted with tears in her eyes, and then she and the older woman left. A few minutes later, the older woman returned to share an incredible story. The young woman was her daughter. Her name was Micah.
Micah's husband had walked out on her and her young son a fe w months before. He had abused her for years before leaving. She could barely make ends meet and felt completely abandoned by everyone, especially God.
Days before this God-ordained meeting in the grocery story, Micah and her mother had prayed. Her mother prayed that God would draw Micah back into relationship with Him. Micah prayed, "God, if you are real, if you love me, show Yourself to me!" As her mother shared these words, it was a powerful moment. Micah, in the midst of her deepest sorrow and pain cried out to God for His Presence. Karen and I simply walked in the store that day to complete an ordinary task. And God crossed our paths at one point in time to show each of us He is active, involved, and OH SO REAL!
Yes, it was a great day for Micah. But what a day it was for Karen and me as well! Our obedience to the Lord's prompting touched this woman's life in such a powerful way that she KNEW He was real and had not abandoned her, and that He answers prayer. A divine appointment ... a day I will treasure forever.
Heavenly Father, Sovereign Lord, the Great I Am. Thank You that You have planned every day of our lives before we have lived a single day. Thank You that You speak into our lives today. Thank You that You invite us to join You in Your work. Father, give us opportunities to be Your hands and feet. Give us ears to hear and eyes to see the broken and hurting people all around us. Give us a heart of obedience. Give us boldness to speak. May all glory and honor and praise go to You. In Jesus' Name Amen.
OUR DAILY DEVOTION By: Pastor Ken R. Klaus September 23, 2009
"Speak No More To Anyone In This Name"
But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name. So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. Acts 4:17-18
Henry M. Jackson High School in Everett, Washington, believes in separation of church and state.
And the superintendent of that school really believes in the separation of church and state.
That's why, when some seniors asked to play "Ave Maria" at their 2006 graduation, the superintendent said, "No. Graduation should be a strictly secular service."
Separation of church and state, you know.
When the seniors said, "But this is not the Ave Maria everybody knows," they were still told, "No!"
When the seniors protested: "But there are no words being sung to this tune!" the answer remained a definite, "No!"
The case was taken to court, and the court also said "No."
One of the judges said the title of the song alone was enough to make him say, "No."
Other judges, more or less, agreed.
When I heard that verdict, three things occurred to me:
1. How far will the state go in its burning desire to erase religion from the lives of the young? 2. The seniors should have asked to play "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." That way, when they went to court, they could have made a case they were only playing a beer-hall tune. (The story goes that Luther based the hymn on a familiar drinking tune.) 3. I'm going to have to pray a lot more for the younger generation. I'm going to have to pray they be given the courage to be faithful when the world says to them, as it did to the first disciples, do not "speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus," so they may they do the right thing.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, today I pray for a nation that feels it can, without repercussion or consequence, erase You from the lives of its citizenry. May these leaders see how much they really need Your grace. I also pray for the young of our country who will be paying the price for this anti-God attitude. Lord, grant courage, commitment, and faith to these our children and grandchildren. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
OUR ENCOURAGEMENT FOR THE DAY! By: Mary DeMuth September 22, 2009
"And I say, 'Oh that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest; yes, I would wander far away; I would lodge in the wilderness; I would hurry to find a shelter from the raging wind and tempest." Psalm 55:6-8 (ESV)
I'm not normally one to sense family secrets about people's lives, but this time I did. The moment "Sarah" walked through my front door for a Bible study, God whispered to me, "She needs help."
A few weeks later she asked if I could come over and talk.
She welcomed me to an immaculate house and peppered me with questions about how I managed our home. At first I answered her questions directly, but as she kept asking, I realized she was really asking something else: Why can't I be enough for my husband's expectations? She seemed frightened, jumpy.
That day my new friend Sarah confessed that her husband abused her. Emotionally. Physically. Psychologically. I prayed for her, gave her my phone number, and felt her burden in my gut. She called after a violent episode, her two children crying in the back of her car. "I'm afraid," she told me.
I encouraged her to come over. Nearly at that moment, a friend of mine arrived and, through a series of God-moments, we worked together to get Sarah and her two children to a safe place.
In doing so, we feared for our safety. Her husband stalked us, called us in the middle of the night screaming. During one conversation, my husband asked him, "Why are you in seminary?"
"Because I want to pastor people." He said it as if the answer were obvious.
My husband cleared his throat in the quiet of our room. "If you can't shepherd your own family, you can't expect to shepherd others."
The man erupted, spewing obscenities. "She just needs to learn to submit!" With that, he hung up.
Since this time, we've encountered several hurting women married to men who pursued, or were active in, ministry. These women felt trapped, worried, and afraid. And because their husbands held the position they did, these wives didn't know how to find a safe place.
As a fiction author, I have written a series of novels with the purpose of exposing this kind of pain in Christian families. I didn't write to impugn or to harass, but to shed light on a sad reality. So that silent sufferers wouldn't feel alone. So that redemption could shine on such a dark family canvas.
Do you know a "Sarah"? Whether she is a friend, acquaintance, or the woman you look at each day in the mirror, there is something you can do. Pray fervently that God will give you the wisdom to find shelter. Pray for the courage to tell the truth, or to be a safe place for her to tell the truth. And believe that no one "deserves" punishment, violence, or verbal thrashings by a spouse. Remember that God's heart for marriage is unity, mutual understanding, longsuffering, love that overlooks shortfalls, and camaraderie.
May we all seek God's design for marriage and may those who need to find shelter hurry towards it.
Dear Lord, whether I am a Sarah, or a friend of a Sarah, give me wisdom. Make me aware if You desire for me to take a role in helping someone. I give You everything, including my fears, worries, and stress. Shine Your light on my family, I pray. And lead me to Your safe place. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
OUR DAILY DEVOTION By: Pastor Ken R. Klaus September 21, 2009
For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen. Matthew 6:13b (KJV)
This devotion is about power.
And it's not just about any kind of power, mind you. This devotion is about mini-power -- Volkswagen-generated mini-power.
In an effort to decentralize the nation's electrical dependency from its major power plants, Germany has come up with an idea. That country has decided it wants to put up to 100,000 natural-gas-powered Volkswagen Rabbit engines into people's basements.
Why would the German government want to do such a thing?
That's simple: these engines, with minor modifications, would become generators. These basement generators would have the ability to offset the need for two nuclear power plants.
Along with that, the decentralization would make it more difficult for terrorists to disrupt the grid. At the same time, it would allow for quicker recovery if a portion of the system ever went down.
On paper the arrangement seems to be quite attractive.
If it works, it won't be too long before others will copy Germany's success. I can see it now: Hyundai-powered homes and Corvette condominiums.
Of course, when it comes to our salvation, there is no alternative plan that can save us. Jesus remains the only Redeemer, the only rescuer, the only restorer of this sad, sinful world.
It is the Savior's sacrifice -- His life, His suffering, death, and resurrection that forgives sins and moves believers from hell to heaven.
Jesus is a unique plan; He is a gracious plan; He is God's all-powerful plan.
And because He is so very special, the saints of Revelation say, "Now the salvation and the power and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come" (Revelation 12:10b).
And I join with those saints in giving thanks.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, only in Your innocent suffering and death, only through Your glorious and gracious resurrection do I see the power that can forgive sins and adopt transgressors into the family of faith. May my heart be filled with thanks for what You have done for the world in general and me in particular. In Your Name. Amen.
OUR DAILY DEVOTION By: Pastor Ken R. Klaus September 20, 2009
(Jesus said) "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20
It's true: many of us want more than we need.
That kind of longing for excess is part of our human condition. Because we want enough and more than enough, we don't desire daily bread as much as we want a bakery running 24/7.
And this kind of attitude doesn't begin and end with a desire for a lot to eat; such a desire can touch any aspect of our lives.
You know people who are not content to get a good night's sleep, or have a sound roof over their heads. What they're looking for is an ironclad guarantee the hurts and pains of this life will be kept at bay and the good and pleasant joys will always remain in their possession.
This may be why we would do well to learn a lesson from the glowworm.
Yes, a glowworm. In case you've forgotten your high school science class, the glowworm is a small insect, an insect that generates light to illuminate its path.
Understand, the glowworm doesn't light up the entire pathway or brighten the total road. What the glowworm does is this: as it takes its very small steps, as it moves across the fields, it produces enough light to illuminate the next step.
In short, the glowworm doesn't generate a lot of light -- just the light necessary to move forward.
As I said, some people can learn a valuable lesson from the glowworm. Rather than worrying about things situated far beyond their visible horizon, they should trust the Lord.
Why? Jesus' perfect life, His terrible death, and His glorious resurrection from the dead say He is a Man of His Word. If He says, as our text records, that He is with us always, then we ought to believe Him.
His presence is enough to take us safely through the unknown future to our blessed eternity.
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, You are the light in my darkness. Help me to remember that when You direct my paths, I have all I need. In Your Name, I pray it. Amen.
OUR DAILY DEVOTION By: Pastor Ken R. Klaus September 19, 2009
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7
Life can get complex.
Years ago a new soap was being marketed and the product needed an advertising program. A PR think tank came together and explored the possibilities. Nothing -- not the weirdest or wildest of suggestions -- was considered off limits.
To show you how far they wandered, one of the slogan suggestions was this:
"The alkaline elements and vegetable fats in this product are blended in such a way as to secure the highest quality of saponification alone, with a specific gravity that keeps it on the surface of the water, relieving the bather of the trouble and annoyance of fishing around for it in the bottom during his ablutions."
The advertising manager struck it all out and substituted two words: "It floats."
That manager understood there are two ways of looking at life.
There is the complex way and there is the simple way.
The complex way is to see things on our own, deal with things on our own, and to struggle against things on our own.
The simple way is to take all these things -- the things that are bothersome and complex -- and share them with someone else. Some people believe it is best to share those things with a counselor, a friend, or a family member.
St. Peter, in today's text says it is better to go the Lord's way. How did Peter say it? It is better to cast "all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you."
The Heavenly Father has shown the depth and scope of His caring when He sent His Son into this sinful world to save us. Here, Jesus endured the contempt and disrespect of humankind so we might be accepted. He died, so we might live.
Knowing the Lord cares for us changes everything. It can give us an almost euphoric feeling. You might almost say, "we float."
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord of Life, I rejoice that no matter how complicated our lives may appear to be, You have the answer, the direction, and can give the guidance. May this day be lived with a heart that gives thanks that You care for me. In Jesus' Name, I give thanks. Amen.
OUR DAILY DEVOTION By: Pastor Ken R. Klaus September 17, 2009
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:17-19
Just a few days ago, True Compass, a book written by the late Senator Ted Kennedy, was published.
No matter how you may feel about the track record or politics of the senator, you may be interested to know what he said about his actions concerning the drowning death of Mary Jo Kopechne.
Describing his conduct in the 1969 accident as being "inexcusable," the senator confessed to being afraid, overwhelmed, and having made some "terrible decisions."
The part of the book that captured my attention was this poignant line: "Atonement is a process that never ends."
It is my prayer that you may know that line is wrong.
As Christians, we have the joy of knowing -- beyond any doubt -- that in Jesus there is absolute, complete, and total forgiveness of sin.
When the Savior knelt in the Garden of Gethsemane the weight of the world's transgressions were placed upon Him. When He breathed His last upon Calvary's cross, the penalty price for every one of those sins was paid.
By God's grace, believers are given repentant hearts and a powerful faith in the power of Jesus' holy, precious blood, His innocent suffering and death. Because of Jesus' sacrifice, believers are reconciled with their Lord. They know Jesus has done what they could not do: He has reunited them with the Father.
That was what St. Paul was saying when he, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote, "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation."
St. Paul had been involved with the murder -- the martyrdom of Stephen -- a pillar of the Jerusalem church. He knew if Jesus could reconcile a murderer and give him peace, He could and would do the same thing for others.
It's a sad thing Senator Kennedy didn't know that; it is a happy thing you do.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, for the sins You have forgiven, for the peace You bestow, for the atonement You have begun, completed, and given to me -- I am most grateful. May I, Your new creation, share that joy with others. In Your Name. Amen.
OUR ENCOURAGEMENT FOR THE DAY! By: Lara Krupicka September 16, 2009
Finding God in the Laundry Room
“The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." 1 Samuel 17:37a (NIV)
Devotion: As I carry a load of clothes into my laundry room, I glance at the breakfast dishes in the sink and the piles of toys in the family room. Here we go again, I think. Another day of cooking and cleaning that will only be repeated again tomorrow. What is the point of it all? Why am I stuck with such a meaningless existence? When will I ever get to spend my days doing things that have a lasting impact?
Everyday life can be so uninspiring at times. I want action and excitement. I want something to happen. But then when it does (like the day the washing machine overflowed into my basement), I get all out of sorts. I have a hard time handling the disruption to my simple routine. This is not the kind of excitement I'm wanting, I think to myself. I grumble and complain my way through the problems that come my way.
When I consider this verse from 1 Samuel, I realize that, unlike me, David had learned the benefit of being faithful in seemingly insignificant work. He did not despise the lonely job of shepherd. Instead day in and day out he patiently watched in the fields, making sure the sheep didn't wander or get eaten. He took his work seriously, and in doing so he trusted God to be with him in the simple task of herding sheep. He didn't say that once he was a mighty warrior like his older brothers were, then he would trust God. He did it right where he was. Then when trouble came to his quiet field, in the form of a lion or a bear, it was God he relied on to come to his aid.
This dependence of David's is what prepared him for one of the turning point moments in his life. He was able to face the giant Goliath with confidence, not because he'd fought in many battles. He could do this because he'd seen God work in the everyday and knew God would show up on the battlefield too.
I still have a lot to learn about dependence on God. Yet I know that as I depend on Him in the routine tasks of my life, He is preparing me for circumstances yet to come. When I turn to Him in the midst of my laundry room troubles, I experience His care for me and I grow in my ability to know that He will "deliver me" from things both great and small. And in my dependence on God, the chores of cooking, cleaning and laundry begin to take on meaning. My life isn't as pointless as it once seemed.
Dear Lord, thank you for being with me today. Help me to see You in the mundane things of my life and show me how You can bring significance to those things. Teach me dependence on You as You taught the young shepherd, David. In Jesus' name, Amen.
OUR ENCOURAGEMENT FOR THE DAY! By: Shari Braendel September 15, 2009
The Empty Chair
"For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you." Colossians 1:9a (NIV)
Devotion: What is one thing I would not live without?
The answer is a team of prayer warriors.
I surround myself with specific groups of women who pray for me and me for them. I have a Moms in Touch group at my son's school, an "around the world team" made up of friends in different states, local girlfriends, and P31 sisters.
For years these women have been praying for me. I have shared my dreams with them, and we have prayed together over God's calling and plans for me. The power of prayer is amazing, and we've seen God work in unbelievable ways. Let me share one instance that was undeniably prayer in action.
About two weeks ago, I was running out the door to my weekly prayer group at school. Just before I left, my husband reminded me to send an overdue e-mail. Telling him I'd do it later, he chimed, "There's no time like the present." So I quickly turned on my laptop and as I did, a new email came in.
Have you ever waited on an answer to come through email? It could be about a job, a test result, or maybe a response from a friend or family member. Regardless, you know when the answer comes it will impact your life. I was waiting on news about a ministry endeavor.
What I found in that hurried moment was an email telling me there would be a meeting at 10:00 that morning to determine the outcome of the matter. I was asked to pray that they would seek the Holy Spirit together as decisions affecting the ministry I serve in were made.
Quickly I forwarded the e-mail to my "around the world team" and headed out the door, with emotions running high. I cried all the way to the school prayer group, where I told them about the 10 o'clock meeting as well. The girls gathered around me and prayed.
When I got home, I read the prayers that had come in from my "around the world team." Bev had prayed there would be an empty chair in the room in which Jesus would be sitting, leading the conversation at the meeting.
Later that afternoon I received a call. The ministry opportunity was going forward! I had prayed about this for two years and approached it many different times. Praise God, things had moved forward in ways I never could have dreamed or imagined!
Recently, I met with one of the women who sat in the 10:00 meeting. She told me the meeting had gone so well it was as if Jesus Himself was right there in the room! I asked her what I'd wondered: "By any chance, was there an empty chair at the table?"
"Yes, as a matter of fact there was. We sat around the table with four chairs and there were only three of us." I imagined Jesus in that fourth spot.
Oh girls, the power of prayer! Believe that God will perform a miracle for you! Never, ever underestimate the power of friends praying. Find some girlfriends today and commit to praying for each other. Dear Lord, thank You for hearing our prayers. Thank You for bringing into our lives other women who lift us up in prayer. You know the plans You have for us, dear Father, and we lift our prayers to You, waiting for Your direction and timing. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
OUR DAILY DEVOTION By: Pastor Ken R. Klaus September 15, 2009
"He Took Our Illnesses"
That evening they brought to Him many who were oppressed by demons, and He cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: "He took our illnesses and bore our diseases." Matthew 8:16-17
What were they thinking?
That was my reaction when I read a Reuters report that recently came out of Tampa, Florida.
Please let me explain: Steve Valdez went to that city's Bank of America branch for the purpose of cashing a check on his wife's account.
Knowing he would have to prove his identity, Steve came equipped with two photo IDs. Having looked at the identification provided, the cashier said Steve would also have to place his thumb on an electronic scanner to prove himself.
It was a request that caused Steve a problem. You see, Steve doesn't have hands and the prosthetic hands he does own don't come equipped with fingerprints.
Steve's case was taken to a higher court when the bank manager was called in. The manager said Steve either had to provide a thumbprint, open his own account, or bring in his wife.
Steve told them he didn't have thumbprints, he didn't want a separate account, and his wife wasn't anywhere near. And what was the end of the story? Well, Steve didn't get the check cashed.
To its credit, Bank of America has publicly said that while the thumbprint is a requirement for those who don't have accounts, the bank should have made accommodations.
You know, when our Savior walked this earth, He did more than make accommodations for those who were brought to Him with physical and spiritual problems. As the text indicates, Jesus "cast out the (evil) spirits with a word and healed all who were sick."
Those healings were a visible manifestation of the changes Jesus was bringing to a lost and sinful world. The healing of a body, the forgiving of a soul, the calming of a conscience, the defeat of death and devil were God's proof that He was -- by His Son's life, death, and resurrection -- reclaiming that which had been stolen from Him in the fall.
Even today, Jesus doesn't make accommodations for our infirmities, our faults, flaws, and transgressions. He conquers them. He eliminates them, and in so doing He forgives, redeems, and restores all who believe.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, it is impossible for us to understand why You would love Your disobedient children. Still, we give thanks for Your grace that comes to us by the Savior's victory over sin, death, and devil. May our lives reflect to others the hope we have been given. In Your Name. Amen.
OUR DAILY DEVOTION By: Pastor Ken R. Klaus September 14, 2009
"Throwing Down, Lifting Up"
Then the devil set Him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to Him, "If you are the Son of God, throw Yourself down, for it is written, 'He will command His angels concerning You,' and 'On their hands they will bear You up, lest You strike Your foot against a stone.'" Matthew 4:5-6
Do you remember Jesus' reply to that sinful suggestion of the devil? The Savior said, "Do not put the Lord your God to the test" (Matthew 4:7b).
It's good advice -- advice most applicable to a story that recently appeared in the Chicago Tribune. Let me begin that tale by asking this question: Have you ever, at the end of a vacation, said to yourself, "I wish this trip would never end"?
If so, I hope you never take that wish as far as did the man who was returning from a four-day cruise to the Bahamas. On the last night of the voyage, as his ship -- the Carnival Sensation -- was returning to port, the man jumped from his stateroom balcony into the sea.
He didn't fall; he wasn't pushed. He jumped. The ship turned around and searched for the man. The Coast Guard was called and sent out a helicopter, a cutter, and another boat to look for him. They all came up dry.
This might have been the end of the man's story, if it had not been for a Disney cruise ship passing by. Against all odds, the exhausted man was spotted, fished out of the water, and was taken to the port at Cape Canaveral. Talk about testing the Lord! You don't jump from a ship and expect to be picked up.
And if you're wondering about the man -- well, he asked to be returned to the ship from which he had jumped. Apparently, he wanted to take the same cruise again.
Testing the Lord. It's something we don't often talk about, but it's something most of us do. When God tells us to avoid something -- something that we want -- you know what's usually going to happen. Most of the time we will follow our will, not His.
And then? Then we expect the loving Lord to bail us out of our dilemma, our disaster, our calamity, our catastrophe. That kind of attitude also puts God to the test.
Testing God in this way is a terribly unfair thing for us to do. The Father doesn't have to prove His love, His care, or His compassion for sinful humanity. In His Son's life, suffering, death, and resurrection He has shown just how much He cares.
Far better, I think, for us is to trust the Lord, not test Him, to rely upon His Word, not rebel against it. Far better for the redeemed to remember Jesus words: "Not My will, but Yours be done" (Luke 22:42b).
THE PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for inventing hoops for You to jump through and prove Your love. Grant me the grace to see the wisdom of Your Word and the wonderful depth of Jesus' sacrifice. This I pray in His Name. Amen.
OUR DAILY DEVOTION By: Pastor Ken R. Klaus September 13, 2009
"Life Is A Gift"
This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24
Recently, a pastor wrote me about a man in his congregation who was celebrating his one-hundredth birthday.
During the party, a friend came up to the centenarian and said, "Fred, I congratulate you on this wonderful milestone. The only thing I regret is that you won't be around to celebrate your second hundredth."
The birthday boy looked shocked. If he was, his surprise lasted for only a second.
The pastor shared the old man's reply. With a chuckle, he said, "I wouldn't be so sure I won't be around for that two-hundredth birthday party. The truth is, I'm feeling much stronger beginning my second century than I did when I began the first."
The truth is, nobody knows what his or her future will hold. Most certainly there will be joys and sorrows, sad days and glad days. The only thing of which we can be absolutely certain is that the Lord is in control and the Savior, who has won the last and final victory for us, has promised to be by our side.
Those are truths each of us should believe in.
After all, we can't change the past; we don't know what tomorrow will bring, or even if tomorrow will come at all. All we can do is say, "The Lord has given me this day; He has given me the strength to enjoy it or to survive it -- or to come home to be with Him in paradise forever."
Whichever way things turn out, I will put this day into the hands of the Savior who gave His life so I might be blessed with an abundant life now and a perfect life in the everlasting hereafter.
It seems to me if more people adopted that viewpoint, most of our worries about the future could be put to rest, and the regrets of the past would be forgotten. We would be able to live our lives saying, "This is the day that the Lord has made."
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, each day that we wake up and live in Your love is a gift. Help me appreciate Your presence, Your grace, and Your Son. In Jesus' precious Name. Amen.
OUR DAILY DEVOTION By: Pastor Ken R. Klaus September 12, 2009
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:12-13
If the Lord has blessed you with good health, I hope you spend some time giving thanks today.
It would be the appropriate thing to do.
On the other hand if you, or someone you love, has been battling sickness, this story may be just the ticket. Most of us remember the writings of Robert Louis Stevenson. What most people may not know is that Stevenson was bedridden for much of his life with tuberculosis.
One day his wife heard him hacking and coughing away. Wishing to test the resilience of his spirit, she asked, "And my dear, do you still believe this is a wonderful day?"
Stevenson looked at the pile of medicine bottles sitting on the windowsill in front of his sun-filled bedroom window. After a moment he replied, "I do. I will never let a row of medicine bottles block my horizon!"
I like that answer.
Following the example of the apostle Paul, Stevenson had learned to be content in whatever situation he found himself.
That's not a bad idea for all of God's people. Think for a moment. Has a row of medicine bottles been blocking your view of God's blessings and bounty? Is it possible financial reverses have been blocking the joy which comes in Jesus?
Most certainly there are things in life that can do their best to throw a shadow between God and His people.
When that happens, we need to lift up our eyes and look past the medicine bottles, the boss, the whatever. God is still there. We need to see the face of the Savior, His nail-scarred hands, and His spear-pierced side.
We need to see the risen Redeemer reaching out to us and lifting us up so we may see past the medicine bottles and gaze upon the great grace and love of God.
THE PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, help me to see all of the ways You have blessed me. When I feel something is blocking my relationship with You, send Your Holy Spirit so my eyes may be refocused on Your presence. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
OUR DAILY DEVOTION By: Pastor Ken R. Klaus September 11, 2009
"Put Your Life In The Care Of The Lord"
Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him and He will do this. Psalm 37:5
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
The salvation story of Jesus Christ reaches around the world. So that the readers of our Daily Devotion may see the power of the Savior on a global scale, we have asked the volunteers of our International Ministry Centers to write our Friday devotions. We pray that the Spirit may touch your day through their words.
In Christ, I remain, His servant and yours, Kenneth R. Klaus **** While a lady was visiting her neighbor, she allowed her six-year-old son to go out and play in the yard. After a while, she went out to see what the child was doing. Nearby, was a painter on a high scaffold. To her dismay, the lady observed that her son had gone up to the last rung of the ladder.
"Arthur, get down!" the nervous woman yelled, alarming the child who began to look down full of fear. The painter immediately realized the danger the child was in and very calmly spoke to the mother saying, "Your boy is all right. I will take care of him." Then he told the child, "Look up and climb to where I am."
With a smile, and watching the man's eyes, the boy arrived safely to where the man was waiting. He took the boy in his arms and carefully started to climb down, finally handing him over to his mother.
How often do we look down when we face dangers and conflicts, rather than focusing on Jesus and trusting our lives to His care and guidance? When we are threatened by dangers and conflicts, we cling to our own strengths instead of looking to Him. We often forget to let Him guide us with His love through the difficulties of this life.
When it is your turn to face difficult tests, and you think you are sinking in misfortune, stop looking down and look up to Jesus with confidence. Remember the psalmist's words: "Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him and He will do this."
Always remember, dear friend, that in the midst of adversity, the promises of our beloved Father are greater than the conflicts we experience in life.
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your love to help us confront our tests with great peace and the assurance You have provided protection. Help us savor the great blessings and immense love You have for us. Amen.
Biography of Author: Alexander Jesus Perez Leon, (Venezuela)
OUR ENCOURAGEMENT FOR THE DAY! By: Lynn Cowell September 10, 2009
Mean Girls "The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him." Nahum 1:7 (NLT)
Devotion: The words on FaceBook glared back at her. "You are so ugly! You are fat, annoying and I hate you!"
Lindsay just sat there, staring at the screen, baffled. "What did I say? What did I do?"
Maybe this has happened to one of your children, or in some way they've faced this type of rejection. Maybe you have felt it yourself. I recently spotted a t-shirt at the mall that read "You're no one until someone talks about you." What a sad state of affairs.
Growing up in a world where "Mean Girls" and "Gossip Girl" are movie and TV titles, it comes as no surprise that "mean" defines many females today. How can we guard our hearts against this? As a mom, what can we do when our children's hearts are crushed by meanness?
Feeling unaccepted is definitely nothing new. In Song of Solomon 1:5a, we are introduced to a young girl who felt this way: "Don't look down on me because I am dark..." (MSG). She felt rejected. Those feelings are so opposite of what our children want to feel. They want to be accepted! Matthew Henry concludes about this passage in Song of Solomon that we, as represented by the young girl, are "often base and contemptible in the esteem of others, but excellent in the sight of God."
We counteract the poison of meanness by remembering who we are in God's eyes. I am in. I am excellent in the sight of God. So are you. Song of Solomon 1:5b reveals the tanned girl's acceptance of this truth; she knows full well that her Lord finds her lovely. When I know that I am accepted by the Lord, it puts me exactly where I need to be to slough off insults and to help my child do the same.
As a sixth grader my daughter was 5'10". One day as she got off the school bus, I noticed she was holding back a flood of tears. Once again she had been made fun of for her height.
On that day, her youth pastor wasn't there. Her teacher, counselor and small group leaders weren't there either. But her mom was. I began telling her how her Father saw her. Sharing truths like these:
• "My beloved is mine, and I am His..." (Song of Solomon 2:16a, NKJV). • You're beautiful from head to toe, my dear love, beautiful beyond compare, absolutely flawless" (Song of Solomon 4:7b, MSG).
• "The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord" (Psalm 45:11, (NIV).
These are the types of verses I poured back into my daughter that day and continue to remind her of still. I put them everywhere so that together we can read them over and over again. When we feel rejected, these words remind us that we are, in fact, accepted! Let them remind you today.
Dear Lord, help me to be purposeful in putting Your truth about who I am into my heart and mind so that am not swayed by the opinions of others. And when the time is right, I can pour Your truth into the hearts and minds of my children and friends. When my child feels rejected, help me remind them that in You they are accepted. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
OUR ENCOURAGEMENT FOR THE DAY! By: Priscilla Richardson September 9, 2009
"Forever, O Lord, Your Word is settled in heaven." Psalm 119:89 (NASB)
Devotion: We live in a society that prizes change. Whether it's the most recent dictum of haute couture from the world of fashion, or the latest in technical gadgets, we are enamored with the idea that newer and different is better.
Let the word "change" fall from a politician's lips, and his or her future is suddenly golden. Discontented with the ordinariness of our lives, we are often an easy sell. So much so, in fact, that one of the quickest ways to kill an idea or project is to describe it as "so yesterday."
Obviously, some changes are positive and some are negative. But too much change, or change for the wrong reasons, can leave us scrambling for the higher ground of stability. When we are forced by circumstances to ride those roiling seas of change, to what do we cling to maintain our emotional and spiritual equilibrium? In Psalm 61:2, David said, "When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I" (NKJV).
Isn't that what we all want - a sense of permanence in a world of change and restlessness? Solid ground when we can't touch bottom? Stillness in place of agitation?
God's Word tells us that all these are possible because of one man, and His name is Jesus. "For he himself is our peace," (Ephesians 2:14, NIV), the One who never changes. The "same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8, NIV). The unshakeable foundation beneath our feet when everything in our world totters (Psalm 40:2).
How comforting to know that our lives are encompassed by an eternally present Christ. He is our Alpha and Omega, our Beginning and our End. Who He is and what He says stands...
Long after you and I are considered history and "so yesterday," Jesus will still be. Describing the uniqueness of our God, Eugene Peterson in The Message asks, "Are we not at bedrock?" (Psalm 18:31).
Dear Lord, as everything around me changes, may I rest my heart on the firm foundation of Your Word, which never goes out of style or needs revision. May I rejoice in its timeless truth and rest in its awesome strength to transform my sometimes erratic life into a place of peace. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
OUR DAILY DEVOTION By: Pastor Ken R. Klaus September 8, 2009
They Got It Right"
(Jesus said, referring to an Old Testament passage) "'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh?' So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate." Matthew 19:5-6
Not so long ago Frank and Anita shared their recipe for a successful marriage.
They agreed that matrimony was always a matter of "give and take." It was also a matter of making up after an argument with a "kiss and a cuddle."
If that sounds a little hokey, please allow me to introduce this pretty average-looking couple to you. Frank and Anita first met at a YMCA dance in Plymouth, Devon, Great Britain. They liked each other. Eventually, they found they liked each other a lot.
Two years later they were married.
That marriage took place 81 years ago.
Frank and Anita spent their entire married life in the same town; they had children and they managed to survive the WWII bomb that fell on their home.
Recently, after more than eight decades Frank went home to the Lord. Anita was holding her husband's hand when he died.
Both had reached the age of 101. By God's grace they had managed to get it right.
Now I'm not exactly sure why I share the story of Frank and Anita.
Certainly, most of us aren't going to reach the age of 101; even fewer will manage to be married 81 years. Maybe I pass on their story because I believe that when God joins a couple together He can also make it so they stick together.
As I say, Frank and Anita were an average husband and wife. The day when they made their vows, they weren't wondering if they could set a record together. That record came about because -- every day -- this ordinary couple was blessed in some extraordinary ways by God.
The same Savior who gave His life upon the cross so the world might be forgiven and saved, the same Savior who rose from the grave and defeated death has the power to help us -- single or married -- with the living of each day.
And He also has the power to comfort Anita with a reunion in heaven -- a reunion which death can never destroy.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, for the cloud of witnesses around us, we give thanks. For Your being with us and transforming ordinary people and making them into extraordinary examples, I praise You. Now may I listen to Your directions and follow where You lead. In Your Name. Amen.
ENCOURAGEMENT FOR TODAY! By: Sharon Glasgow September 7, 2009 (A past devotion-but another great read.)
IN HIS DREAMS!
“Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:10-12, (NKJ)
My mom and dad separated when I was a child, so I lacked the godly example of marriage. Being the oldest child I naturally took on an independent mindset. These two factors added together equaled a negative value in my natural tendencies toward marriage. My learning curve took years.
I loved my husband, but I didn’t respect all of his ideas, notions, and requests. I had my own ideas of how things should be and I thought I was right, naturally.
Overall we had a good marriage, but it wasn’t what it should be until, one day after reading the Bible God led me to make a decision that tamed my independent mindset. I knew I needed to submit to Dale’s role as the spiritual leader in our home, and to respect all of his thoughts all the time.
Our marriage started changing after that day. He would share what he thought the kids needed to do about school or church and my first impulse was to say, “Are you kidding, no way!” But I wouldn’t say a word, I would bite my tongue and receive his words and follow his leading. Amazing things started to happen, he would be right! Many times over the past years, I haven’t agreed with his decisions but I followed him anyway, and the outcome has always been the same, God is leading him and I am honored to follow such a man of God.
I am in awe of my husband, he is everything that a woman could ever dream of, and it is my desire to be everything that he dreams of and more! If he wants to wake up before my biological alarm goes off and needs a few kisses I just pray that God will give me the ability to rise up and be what he needs. I want to serve him in every possible way. I want to make his favorite meals and dress the way he wants me to and enjoy the same things he does.
Sometimes when Dale walks by me my heart will skip a beat, you know what I mean, like when you’re in passionate love. Every time I look at him I’m enthralled, doesn’t that sound like a magic love potion has been poured out on me? I think it has, when you honor your husband in every way at home, in public, in your conversations that he doesn’t know about, God will pour out this passionate love and you will be swept away by him.
Make a conscious decision to honor your husband’s decisions and his thoughts, love him passionately and you will not only become the woman of your husband’s dreams, but your legacy will be lived on through your children’s marriages and for generations to come.
Lord, help me to honor my husband in everything I do and say. Help me to bless him by lavishing him with passionate love. Thank you. In Jesus’ Name.
ENCOURAGEMENT FOR TODAY! By: Luann Prater September 6, 2009 (A past devotion-but another great reminder to us all.)
“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." Mark 6:31 (NIV)
I was on my way to work when an ambulance raced past me. The road was a two lane highway, so it startled me to see it blow by. Soon I heard several sirens and saw the brake lights tapping on the car in front of me. A sheriff was at the crossroads ahead detouring everyone into the country. He told us the road would be shut down for quite some time because of the terrible wreck ahead. My stomach knotted.
Later that morning, the phone rang; my colleague answered and said, “No! Don’t tell me that!” Norma was traveling with a group of teenagers from her church on their way to camp when a driver fell asleep, crossed the center line and hit them head on. Norma didn’t make it. Everyone said she was a fine Christian woman and only 60 years old. The papers said she had just returned from a mission trip with the teens three weeks earlier and was always ready to help those in need.
That night I couldn’t stop thinking about Norma. I didn’t know her, but her life made a final impact on mine. I wonder how she spent her last morning? People that barely knew her gave witness that she was a godly lady. So how did they know that? In Exodus 34:29 the Bible gives us a clue. It reads: “When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.”
Norma must have spent quiet time with the Lord because she was radiant with God’s love. It is not something you can fake. It is not something you can imitate. There is only one way to illuminate God to others, spend time with him. That doesn’t mean feverishly working on programs at church, or feeding the poor, or volunteering for one more project. All of those things are necessary and God uses them as tools to shape and mold us, but before we can give his love to others…we must get alone with God.
Sometimes it is hard to get away from the noise and the clutter of everyday life. We mean to make time, but it seems the clock won’t cooperate. Like the key verse says, often we don’t even take the time to eat. Can you find a quiet place: In the waiting room at a doctor’s office? Stopped in a traffic jam? In the morning before anyone else is up? On a plane? Taking a walk? Watching your children play? On a coffee break? Turning off the TV? James 4:8 tells us, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.”
Last year we started a new tradition. We gave everyone in our family the same devotional book. On any given day we know that our family may be reading the same passage from God. There is something unifying about that.
There is no doubt about it…Norma radiated God’s love to others because she spent time with Him. The Great Healer has written a prescription for your hurried life and weary soul: Quiet time with Him, everyday.
Dear Lord, you know the pace we keep. Teach us to utilize unsuspecting moments in quiet time with you. Give us the desire to come near to you. May our lives reflect your radiance. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
OUR DAILY DEVOTION By: Pastor Ken R. Klaus September 5, 2009
O Lord, You have searched me and know me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down. You search out my path and are acquainted with all my ways. Psalm 139:1-3
I have a friend whose work requires him to make frequent business trips to Japan.
Although he has always been impressed by the honesty of the people who are employed at the hotel where he stays, he doesn't believe in tempting people more than they can bear.
To that end, and so as not to place any enticement before the cleaning people, my friend has always hidden his expensive digital camera before he goes out.
He always hid that camera -- until the day came when he overslept and had to rush out for an appointment. His camera was left out in plain view.
Sure enough, when he returned to his room, the camera was gone. I don't need to tell you my friend was upset. He was upset with the cleaning lady; he was upset with life and, mostly, he was upset with himself.
He stayed upset until, quite by accident, he discovered the maid had put his camera back in his super-secret hiding place. His attempts to hide that camera had been foolish. All along the maid had known what he was hiding and where he was hiding it.
I think a lot of people try that same hiding stunt on the Lord. Because they have been able to keep many of their sins and shortcomings hidden from their families and business associates, they're sure they can do the same with God.
They may think they can fool God, but they can't. The Lord knows. Like that Japanese maid, He knows. He knows about all our sins and He knows where we try to keep them hidden. We try, but nobody can successfully hide anything from an all-knowing God.
Fortunately, we don't need to hide our sins. Those who call Jesus, "Lord," know He has taken away all their sins. When we believe in Jesus as our Savior, we can be at peace. Our sins are forgiven, and there's no longer a need to hide something that doesn't exist.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, I thank You all my sins are washed away. Your sacrifice, Your death, and Your resurrection let me know my soul has been made whiter than snow. Now may I live my life in the freedom You give, and offer up the thanks You deserve. In Your Name. Amen.
ENCOURAGEMENT FOR TODAY! By: T. Suzanna Eller September 4, 2009
The Bigger Picture
"Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains." James 5:7 (NIV)
Devotion: I overheard a conversation while in an airport. I wanted to jump into the dialogue, but I had a plane to catch and more importantly, I would have to admit that I was eavesdropping, so I moved on. "He's just in it for the money," the man said while we waited in line at security. He named the author of a best-selling Christian book. "It's simplistic. Over-hyped. I can't believe it's sold so many copies." This conversation made me think about my daughter's best friend, Emily.
When I first met Emily she was a new believer. Occasionally our pastor would ask families to pray together. On those Sundays we opened our arms and Emily joined us. But as much as she loved the Ellers, it wasn't her family.
Her parents didn't understand her faith. Her older brother mocked her faith.
Emily went on mission trips. She was involved in youth group. She left for college and organized campus ministries, and even traveled to Africa to minister to children with AIDS. The longing for her family to love Jesus intensified, but from the outside looking in it appeared that her prayers were hitting the ceiling.
What Emily didn't know is that her brother was watching closely. His little sister's faith had grown and now she was a woman of faith.
One day he bought a book and read it straight through the night. Somewhere between dark and dawn Emily's Savior became his. In the next few months he led his fiancé to Christ. He shared his faith with his parents, and now that both of their children's lives had been changed, they too became believers.
That was four years ago. Recently Emily came home to visit her family, and they all came to church. I couldn't help but look back with excitement when I heard these words, "Could families gather together and pray?" Emily walked down the aisle. Her family wrapped her in their arms. It was a beautiful sight.
And the book that the man in the airport said was simplistic and overhyped? That was the very book that Emily's brother read that changed his life. It was an answer to a faithful girl's prayers.
What does this have to do with you and me? As a writer, every day I'm in my home-office wearing jeans and a T-shirt writing on a laptop, hoping that someone might actually hear the message. But I can't see the bigger picture. I don't know if the words are making a difference or not. All I know is that God called me to communicate a message and to be faithful to that call.
Maybe there are days that you struggle, too. Maybe all you hear are the negative comments like those of the man in the airport. But does that mean that nothing good is happening? Absolutely not!
When I think of Emily, I am encouraged to place my ministry in God's hands and allow Him to do the miracles while I type one word at a time.
Will you trust Him to do miracles with your faith and your work as well?
Dear Father, I don't always see the bigger picture, but You do. Today I place my discouragement and comments of others in Your hands. Thank You for wisdom, encouragement, and renewed joy as I trust You with the bigger picture. Amen.
ENCOURAGEMENT FOR TODAY! By: Lisa TerKeurst September 3, 2009
Great Sermons are Not Preached, They're Lived
"When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus." Acts 4:13 (NIV)
Devotion: What if someone followed me around with a video camera all day documenting my every move? Catching on camera all of my words, facial expressions, actions, and reactions. And then what if someone packaged it all together and played it on some sort of reality TV show for all the world to see? What would be the glaring message of my life?
I am convicted thinking about this.
You see, if someone were to ask me, what are you all about? I would have some nice sounding answers. But what actually happens during the strains of everyday life can sometimes betray my best intentions.
I want to be a loving wife. Yet I can sometimes be found in a grumpy, selfish mood and view my husband as a business partner that better hold up his end of helping out.
I want to be a wise and patient mom. But my kids know the exact buttons to push that send me into a tailspin of emotion and exhaustion.
I want to be a strong witness for Christ. So why is it that I can read my Bible first thing in the morning and then find myself honking at the person that cuts me off in traffic just an hour later?
I realize there is a place for God's tender mercies for me in all this. But I also know that while no TV cameras are following me around, my life is speaking a message about what I really believe and I want that message to honor Jesus. I once heard, "Great sermons are not preached, they are lived." Oh how I long to live a message that speaks loud and clear, "Jesus is true and the principles found in His teachings work!"
Let's just be honest, it's tough being a sold out soul for Christ stuck in a body that is so tempted to sin. That's why it's essential I view my time with God each morning as a preparation and an invitation.
• Preparation: Every verse, devotion and prayer is all part of God's preparation for me that day. Instead of just rushing to check off my to do list that I spent a few minutes with God, I must allow His teachings to seep into my heart and mind. Then I must ask God to interrupt my natural flesh response and remind me throughout the day the truths He taught me that morning. That's the preparation part.
• Invitation: The next essential view of my quiet time each morning is recognizing I've just invited Jesus to do life with me today, so I need to look for His activity throughout my day. My minute by minute theme then becomes, "Not my will God, but Yours be done." So if my husband forgets to do something he promised, or my kids push my buttons, or a person cuts me off in traffic, or one of the other one million things happens that causes my flesh to want to rear up and act ugly... I can say, "Not my will God, but Yours be done." This slight pause and acknowledgement of God redirects my frustration and replaces it with grace. And most wonderful of all, it helps me connect my time with Jesus to everyday life choices. Making that connection is how we personally hear from and experience God!
I know, sometimes it's hard to spend time with Jesus first thing in the morning. And I'm certainly not trying to make this just another demand on our time. But, why not spend just a few minutes... even if it is just a few... letting Jesus prepare us for whatever we'll be facing that day and invite Him to intervene before our natural reactions to things betray our best intentions. Then and only then will my life speak to the fact that I have spent time with Jesus... and without saying a word, my imperfect life will be a God-honoring sermon.
Dear Lord, please teach me how to reveal more and more of You through the way I live my life. I want to tell the whole world about You using words only when necessary. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
DEVOTION FOR DIETERS By: Dan Dick September 2, 2009
Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea,I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
Ben was afraid to even try a diet. He never had much luck with things that required a lot of willpower on his part. He caved in much too easily. If only someone else would make his decisions for him. He had never been overweight when he lived at home and had his mother around to tell him what to eat and what not to eat. Ben would be the first one to admit that he had no self-control. Unfortunately, we all have to learn to discipline ourselves. God doesn't tell us what to do. He gives us complete freedom, but He will help us have the strength to make right decisions if we ask Him to. Include God, and He will make some wonderful things happen.
Today's thought: True power is the ability to say no!
OUR DAILY DEVOTION By: Pastor Ken R. Klaus September 1, 2009
All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the Word of the Lord remains forever. 1 Peter 1:24-25
”Stuff." Most of us have some amount of stuff.
For a great many people, their stuff helps define who they are, how they think of themselves, and how they hope others will regard them.
Sadly, the stuff of advertisements doesn't always deliver. They promise us much, but really give us little. They promise to raise our standard of living, but often they only raise our standard of longing.
In all probability, if you check your basement, garage, attic, or closet you will find a lot of stuff that once seemed to be incredibly important, but now has been totally forgotten.
In short, stuff can let us down. It almost always lets us down; it withers and the flower falls.
I imagine that's the way it was for the fellow in Colorado who brought his vehicle into the recent Cash-For-Clunkers program. That vehicle, with less than 19,000 miles on the odometer, was an almost mint-condition 1985 Maserati.
For those of you who aren't car fans, that is a very, very expensive car.
Maybe once that vehicle was the apple of his eye, but now, well, he got $3,500 for it so he could buy a Subaru.
And as for the very, very expensive car -- it will be crushed.
Having said all this about stuff, maybe it's time to talk of the Savior.
In contrast to the limited ability of stuff to answer our lasting needs, we have Jesus Christ. Every promise He has made to us He keeps. Every gift He gives to us is precious.
And now -- pay attention because this is important -- when you get to heaven, nobody is going to ask whether you got there in a Maserati, a Mercedes, or a muscle car. The only thing you will need that day is faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, my attic and garage say there are many things in my life that come and go. You are the only Person who has eternal permanence. Grant me the grace to appreciate You and let others know how valuable You are. This I ask in Your Name. Amen.
OUR DAILY DEVOTION By: Pastor Ken R. Klaus August 31, 2009
For jealousy makes a man furious, and he will not spare when he takes revenge. He will accept no compensation; he will refuse though you multiply gifts. Proverbs 6:34-35
Weddings are supposed to be happy times. "Happy" does not describe a recent Kuwaiti wedding.
The day began with hundreds of family and friends gathering together. The level of anticipation was high as the bride was getting dressed and her last touches of make-up were being applied.
That's when a fire broke out in the tent of the women -- the tent where hundreds of women and children were waiting for the party to begin.
The fire spread quickly. In three minutes the tent, the upholstered seating, and all things flammable were gone.
So were 43 of the family and friends.
A terrible accident? No. The fire was started by the groom's ex-wife who felt she had been poorly treated. Later in the day she confessed to having poured gasoline around the tent.
Jealousy, over-active anger, and revenge are all emotions, which although sometimes understandable, are not beneficial.
They are unproductive and they are unchristian.
Think, how would the Gospels read if Jesus had repaid evil for evil? What kind of Savior would we have if Jesus had rained fire down upon His hometown of Nazareth because they tried to kill Him? What kind of salvation would we have if Jesus had melted the judges at His trial? Where would be our hope if Jesus had come down off His cross and put the guilty ones up there?
Thankfully, that was not Jesus' way. He set His righteous wrath aside so He might do the Father's work, carry our sins, and save our souls. Because He did, all who believe are saved.
Now, in appreciation for what He has done for us, we need to do the same for the others in our life who have committed smaller slights and lesser insults against us. We need to forgive as we have been forgiven.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, You sacrificed Yourself so I might be forgiven and saved. May I live my life as if that sacrifice were important to me. It is. This I ask in the Name of my Savior who has forgiven my sins and my slights. Amen.
OUR DAILY DEVOTION By: Pastor Ken R. Klaus August 30, 2009
Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16
When you look back on your life, is there anything you'd like to change?
That was a question asked a number of years ago. The only thing special about the survey was that the question was only given to people who were over the age of 95 years.
It was an open-ended question. Those who responded could reply with any answer they wanted.
There were no religious overtones, no anticipated or encouraged responses. All they had to do was give their reply to the question: "Is there anything you'd like to change about your life?"
There were many answers given, but most of them fell into three categories:
1. I would reflect more. (This was one of the most popular answers.) 2. I would risk more. 3. I would do more things that would live on after I'm dead.
Now, I'm not 95 years old -- not yet. Odds are you aren't either.
Even so, I've found myself trying to answer that question. What would I change in my life up until this point? What would I do differently if I could do things over?
After some mulling of the question, I've concluded those golden-agers have come up with a good idea.
I would indeed spend more time reflecting about the grace of God and how blessed I am to have a Savior. I would risk more things on those battles where the Savior is being maligned or put down.
Lastly, I would do more things that will have a positive impact for the Lord's Kingdom. I would try to leave a heritage for the generations who are coming after me -- for those who will be persecuted and put upon for holding fast to Jesus, the Savior.
Yup, those older folks have given me some good ideas. I don't think I'll wait until I'm 95 to try them out. Maybe you shouldn't wait, either.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, as I grow older, I pray my times of reflection may be focused on You and how I can give thanks for a Savior who has rescued me. Grant me the grace to live a life, which, long or short, may please You. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
OUR DAILY DEVOTION By: Pastor Ken R. Klaus August 29, 2009
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." Hebrews 13:5
My wife asked me to pick up some necessities at the grocery store yesterday.
As I waited in line, I observed the lady in front of me. She was doing her best to referee a battle royal between two children who appeared to be about three and four years old.
Seeing my amused smile -- amused because I was remembering those times when our children had such public disagreements -- she looked at me, rolled her eyes toward heaven, and gave out a most frustrated sigh.
Her opening made me bold enough to ask, "What seems to be the problem?"
She answered: "The same thing that's wrong with the rest of the world. I've got three pieces of candy in my purse, and each of my children wants two."
The truth of her words didn't give me a whole lot of comfort. She was right.
Nations, communities, individuals -- all want what's coming to them -- and they want a little bit extra, too.
How hard it is to learn to be content.
I confess that's a lesson I haven't quite mastered yet. How about you? You know, if we're ever going to get better as individuals, or as a race, we're going to have to get some outside assistance.
Obviously, we can't get it from another individual. Everybody else is in the same boat we are.
This is why we need to be turned to God. That's what the author of Hebrews did. Knowing he was living in the presence and care of a gracious God and victorious Savior, he was inspired to encourage God's people to "keep your life free from love of money and be content with what you have."
It's impossible without the Lord, but it's the right direction to go when you love and are loved by the Savior who endured so much that we might be forgiven and be at peace.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, sometimes it's tempting to find contentment through things or other people. Please help me remember the only way to be given true contentment comes from trusting Your love and guidance. This I ask in the Name of my Savior who died so I might live -- who rose that I might never die. Amen.
OUR DAILY DEVOTION By: Pastor Ken R. Klaus August 28, 2009
"Christ, My Companion"
(Jesus said) ". . . Yet I am not alone, for My Father is with Me." John 16:32
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
The salvation story of Jesus Christ reaches around the world. So that the readers of our Daily Devotion may see the power of the Savior on a global scale, we have asked the volunteers of our International Ministry Centers to write our Friday devotions. We pray that the Spirit may touch your day through their words. ****
Most people do not like being alone. Some people want to keep away from other people, groups, functions, or programs, but most people want to identify themselves with other people or groups.
The real situation that prevails among people is loneliness. Even though loneliness can become unbearable, it can also provide an experience of calmness and contentment for many.
Our Lord Jesus Christ often took time to be by Himself in silence and loneliness. According to John 7:53 and 8:1, everyone was leaving to go home, but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. He spent His alone times with God.
New ideas and useful thoughts about life and the future come when we spend time with God. For example, many of our great leaders were raised in God-fearing families. We can also stress the fact that, without the companionship of God, we can do nothing and we are nothing.
In the beginning, God created man and woman. God felt it was not good for Adam to be alone so He created Eve to be a companion, partner, and helper. How many of us feel this way? Many young people shout, "Leave me alone!" as they struggle with tension and confusion about finding a true companion.
Many of us fail to realize we are not alone. God, our heavenly Father, gave His son Jesus Christ as our companion. He is with us always. Jesus is also named "Immanuel, which means God with us" (Matthew 1:23b). God sent His Son in the flesh, however, not merely to be our companion but to be our Savior. Without Christ's sacrifice, without His all-atoning work on the cross on our behalf, we would be lost forever -- friendless and doomed by our sins.
But God through His Son has made a better way -- an eternal way that begins in faith in Jesus' work and trusts He will never fail or forsake us. Our Lord also says, "I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20b). Since Christ is with me, how can I say I am alone?
Dear friends, let us determine who should be our best companion today. The companion we decide upon must be sufficient for us in every aspect of life. Christ is the only one who can dispel our loneliness.
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank You for being our constant companion and for sending Your one and only Son to conquer our loneliness. Teach us to trust in You. Amen.
ENCOURAGEMENT FOR TODAY! By: Lysa TerKeurst August 27, 2009
The Perfect Fit
"I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws." Psalm 119:30 (NIV)
Devotion: As a little girl, I had longed for a daddy to pick me up, swing me around, and tell me I was lovely and loved. When this childhood longing went unmet, it became an adult emptiness and brokenness that drove me to seek out all kinds of misguided remedies.
My primary remedy was to look for someone or something that would make me feel loved and significant. It's as if I carried around a little heart-shaped cup and extended it to whatever or whomever I perceived might fill it.
I presented the cup to my education: "Will you fill me?"
I offered it to my husband: "Will you fill me?"
I held it out to my child: "Will you fill me?"
I extended it to my material possessions: "Will you fill me?"
I presented it to each of my jobs: "Will you fill me?"
Within these questions were many more entanglements: "Will you right all my wrongs?" "Will you fill up my insecurities?" "Will you make me feel significant?" The more I offered my emptiness hoping something could fill it, the more frustrated I felt.
And when I had grown in my faith, I was especially perplexed. Wasn't being a Christian supposed to fix these kinds of issues in my heart? What was I missing?
Have you ever been there?
Why is it so tempting to look to things of this world for fulfillment? This notion that worldly things can fulfill is all around us. It's on TV, the focus of countless secular songs, and it's what dominates American advertisements. I can't even stand in the grocery store checkout lane without being bombarded with suggestions for a more fulfilling life. A better husband. A better body. A better career. A more beautifully decorated house. The magazines seem so slick, their promises so enticing. They sneak into our thought processes and make us think, "If only I had _______________, I'd be so happy. I'd be so fulfilled."
So, we chase and chase until we bankrupt our relationships, our bank accounts, and our very souls. The reality is every single thing the world offers is temporary. No person, possession, profession, or position can ever fill the cup of a wounded, empty heart--not my heart, not your heart. It's an emptiness only God can fill.
Whatever "if only I had" statement we are struggling with, we can replace it with solid truths from Scripture that will never leave us empty. It's a bold statement to make and might even sound a bit trite, but it's true.
When God's Word gets inside of us, it becomes the new way we process life. It rearranges our thoughts, our motives, our needs, and our desires. Our soul was tailor made to be filled with God and His truth; therefore, it seeps into every part of us and fills us completely. It is the only perfect fit.
Dear Lord, we ask today that You set within us a passion for Your Word. A passion that will override the fleshly desire within us to chase after fulfillment from people, possessions, professions, or positions. Lord, help us place the highest importance on getting into Your Word every day. And may we always approach Your Word with a humility of need and a heart ready to receive all You want to teach us. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
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ENCOURAGEMENT FOR TODAY! By: Wendy Pope August 26, 2009
Repent, Rescue, Repeat
"Again the Israelites did evil in the LORD's sight." Judges 10:6a (NLT)
Devotion: When life gets hard, have you noticed how easy it is to sin? I have found during some of the toughest circumstances I face, I am easily lured into sin. The lure seldom comes from new temptations. It usually comes from areas of sin I "thought" I had left behind, repented of and turned away from. Our enemy is cleaver and cunning. He knows our areas of weakness and comes back to those places when we are at our lowest, in hopes to seduce us back into a pattern of sin. It is an age-old ploy. He doesn't stop using the tactic because he continues to have success.
The enemy's success can be proven by looking back at the repeated sin of idolatry and disobedience of God's chosen people, the Israelites. The ebb and flow of the Israelites' sin started soon after their exodus from Egypt. They had barely cleared the banks of the Red Sea when they began to worship a man-made golden calf. Even though the Lord showed grace and forgave their sin, they continued to be lured in this same sin until it became a pattern. When they faced their toughest times: hunger, thirst, and threat of death, they quickly turned against the Lord, looking for other places of safety and hope.
As we read through the Old Testament we find the Israelites became more and more blatant about their sin. They no longer tried to hide it. They worshipped the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but still held true to their devotion and worship of the pagan gods. Joshua called their sin evil. Evil is an ugly word, which means morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked. God's Word tells us that the Israelites' evil lead to their misery and their misery grieved the Lord (Judges 10:16). Our sin grieves the Lord and causes us misery as well.
Misery comes from the Hebrew word "`amal." It means to toil, trouble, labor, mischief. I found the meaning of toil to be very interesting: hard and continuous work, exhausting labor or effort. Habitual sin, like that of the Israelites' idol worshiping is exhausting to keep up with. It takes continuous effort to stay involved in sin because one sin leads to another that leads to another. It is toilsome and drains the life out of us. The Israelites sinned until they felt helpless and trapped, at the point of exhaustion. Then they would repent of their sin and beg the Lord to forgive them, promising their wholehearted devotion. In His continual grace God forgave them, but they would eventually fall back into their sin cycle.
As I read about the cycle of repent, rescue, repeat among the Israelites I have come to the conclusion that they never truly repented at all. True repentance of sin as repentance means in the Bible is to turn back. Basically, turn 180 degrees and don't look back. This is not what happened with the Israelites. They enjoyed their sin, but when the going got tough they cried out to the Lord. They simply offered the Lord "lip service" because they wanted to be rescued from their tough circumstances. They never depended on God long enough to allow Him to change their hearts.
Are you tired and miserable? God intended our life to be lived to the fullest, where He alone can make our joy complete. The only way to live this life is to put our safety and hope in the Lord by turning our hearts completely toward Him, leaving our sin behind and letting Him turn our hearts from the lure of sin. I want to be a 180 degree "repenter." I don't want to be a rescue-crying sinner who calls on God to bail me out when life is too exhausting and I am completely miserable. I want to escape the cycle of repent, rescue, and repeat. I am going to ask God to help me change my heart in the issues that I struggle with repeatedly. Will you join with me in this prayer?
Dear Lord, I ask You to forgive me when I fall into the cycle of rescue, repent, and repeat. Forgive me for treating Your forgiveness so causally. I give You permission to have Your way with my heart, changing it to be completely restored toward You and no longer falling prey to the lure of habitual sin. My desire is to live in complete obedience to You, the One and Only true God. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Luke 6:37 'Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.'
Kelly was unbearable. She had lost thirty pounds with relative ease, so she ridiculed anyone who couldn't do it as easily as she had. Kelly wasn't being fair. Every person is different. It didn't mean that others weren't as committed or as dedicated as Kelly had been. It was frustrating to try so hard and then have Kelly make fun of you for it. Why couldn't she have a little compassion? After all, she had been obese once! After losing weight, we should be more compassionate than anyone else. It is important to remember how hard losing weight really is. We have a wonderful opportunity to help others when we keep in mind what we've come through.
Today's thought: I hope I can lose my weight without losing my sensitivity toward others!
ENCOURAGEMENT FOR TODAY! By: Karen Ehman August 24, 2009
At a Distance
"But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome." Matthew 26:58 (NIV).
I sat in the sanctuary all alone, hot tears trickling down my young face. As a high school senior, I often attended our church's open door, self-serve communion time that was held a few days each year. The church was left unlocked providing a place to be alone with God: to pray or read your Bible. Then, at the altar were the elements. When ready, believers spent time meditating before partaking of the bread and the cup. Although I had done this many times, that night would forever be seared in my mind.
I'd been a follower of Christ for just over a year, having first dedicated my life to Him at a youth retreat. The next 12 months, though an exciting time of growth, were also one of sorrow. I lost friends. I no longer fit in with the "in" crowd. I had no desire to attend certain parties I knew God wouldn't approve of or engage in conversations I wouldn't want Him to hear.
So I clung to my crisp, new Bible and rushed home each afternoon, eager to read more while making notations in the margins. My youth group, as well as my mentor, a stay-at-home mom of two, became my lifelines. I desperately wanted to know how to live this new Christian life and live it in a way that made Jesus proud.
But as I sat there that night, I felt as if I had failed God. There was a new group of kids at school who, when the more popular kids shut me out, had taken me in. But things were beginning to get sticky. I was challenged at many points in my faith; was asked questions by those who felt God didn't exist and were very eloquent in arguing their case. So normally chatty me, often became silent. There were times I knew I should say something, but I remained painfully wordless instead. My silence spoke volumes, and in a way, denied Christ.
It was then that, alone in my church, crying and searching my soul, I read today's key verse. The words stung. "But Peter followed him at a distance…" That was me! I followed my sweet Jesus, but often at a distance; not wanting to get too close; to be lumped in with the Bible-thumping fanatics; to be labeled a "Jesus Freak." That night was a wake-up call. I didn't want to lurk in the shadows any longer. I wanted to be so closely associated with Jesus that I cared not what any soul on earth thought. I left with a renewed commitment to this goal.
God, in His mercy, allowed me to come across many more verses about Peter in the next few weeks as I flung myself on my bed and flung open my Bible each afternoon after school. I witnessed his three-time denial. Then, I saw his sorrow; his repentance; his eventual boldness for Christ. I garnered encouragement from knowing that his once hesitant, in-the-shadows disciple became a bold, world-changing servant of God. And, just weeks later, our youth group took a personality test that matches you with a biblical character and my result came back as—you guessed it—Peter! I knew then that if he could learn to follow boldly, then I could too.
Oh may God help us all to turn our fear of association into boldness for His kingdom! The world is waiting and watching. Will we pursue Him closely or follow at a distance?
Dear Lord, may I not shirk from associating myself closely with You for all the world to see. I want to reflect You; not reject You. Please grant me the courage to do so. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
OUR DAILY DEVOTION By: Pastor Ken R. Klaus August 24, 2009
"The Lord Watches"
He will not let your foot be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. Psalm 121:3-8
The recent mid-air collision between a helicopter and an airplane over the Hudson River was recorded by an Italian tourist, who was learning how to operate his new camera.
That's how the news programs were able to repeatedly show us the tragic accident that took nine lives.
What they weren't able to show is the area's air-traffic controller talking on the phone about a dead cat. Nor could they show the supervisor who wasn't in the building as is required by law.
Now the Federal Aviation Administration has said they "have no reason to believe . . . that these actions contributed to the accident. . . ." But they also said, "this kind of conduct is unacceptable."
I'm sure that's true. Even so, we'd all very much like to believe that when we're in the air, or on the road, or on a train, or going anywhere, that the people responsible for getting us to our destination are continuously operating at 100 percent efficiency.
That's what we'd like to believe; but we can't.
We don't know anyone -- not even the most dedicated of individuals -- who can stay perfectly on task 24/7. We're all human. We get distracted; we get tired; we forget, and our minds wander.
Truly, our weaknesses bring into sharp definition the complete commitment of our Savior.
Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus gave His undivided attention to doing the Father's business. And what was the Father's business? It was nothing less than the saving of our souls.
24/7. That was the time schedule Jesus put in throughout His life. During that time He was misunderstood, rejected, hated, mocked, lied about, spit upon, whipped, and murdered. Satan threw temptations at Him that would make an ordinary man or woman buckle.
Still, Jesus continued on and because He did, because He was never distracted, all who believe on Him are saved and given the knowledge they shall live forever in heaven.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, for doing that which we would find impossible, we will always be in Your debt. May we -- faithfully and well -- show our gratitude as we live this day, and as we go through every day. In Your Name. Amen.
And, Candy, I hope you will be posting your devotions again soon too -- I always loved reading them! Hugs to you, Candy!!!
OUR DAILY DEVOTION By: Pastor Ken R. Klaus August 23, 2009
(Jesus said) "Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven." Luke 6:37
I have a lot of sins.
Listening to the groans of those around me, my joke telling is the worst of those sins.
Maybe so, but I'm going to sin boldly and tell a story recently given to me by a 90-year-old lady.
The story she shared begins in a time when it was customary for a husband and wife to visit with the pastor on Saturday if they wished to go to Communion on Sunday. It was during such a visit that the wife said, "Pastor, we are living in a wicked land where sin is on every hand. I have had a terrible fight with the old devil all week long."
Hearing what his wife had just said, her previously silent husband stirred himself and replied, "She can call me the 'old devil' if she wants, but not everything wrong is my fault. She can be tough to live with, too."
Get it? You see, the wife was talking about the devil and the husband thought . . . well, now you know why they call my stories "sinful."
All of this is my way of getting to this question: "Have you been having a tough time with the old devil in your life?"
No, I don't mean the devil, but other people in your life who give you a devilish time. Most of us know somebody who has habits that drive us crazy, who send us up a wall, who make us act . . . well, make us act less than Christian. Now, it's possible they really are as devilish as you think.
But it's also possible we might be hard to get along with, too. To the best of my knowledge, every one of the tens of thousands who are reading this devotion is a transgressor.
If our wrongs don't upset other people, they certainly are not pleasing to the Lord.
This is why all of us still need to come to the Lord and say, "Because of the forgiveness Jesus has won for me, Lord, be merciful to me a sinner" and, at the same time, it would be proper to ask for His help in forgiving others.
It's a help He will give. After all, because of His Son's sacrifice, the perfect God has forgiven us.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, forgive me and help me forgive others. Help me to reflect the love I have received from Jesus to those who may not seem to be especially lovable. In His Name. Amen.
OUR DAILY DEVOTION By: Pastor Ken R. Klaus August 22, 2009
For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. Romans 14:8
Recently, I went to the funeral of a dear old lady who was special to me.
She had been a Christian not just in name, but also in the way she lived her life. Apparently, she was special to many others. The funeral home was positively lined with potted plants and bouquets of fresh-cut flowers.
There was a steady procession of people lined up to say their earthly farewells and words of comfort to the family left behind.
None of what I've described so far makes the funeral memorable. Even so, there was one line that came from her service I shall recall. During the course of a fine funeral message, the pastor said, "This lady came into the world crying while those around her were smiling; she went out of the world smiling while those around her were crying."
I know it wasn't an original idea with that pastor, but in this case he used the expression in a most appropriate manner.
All of which set me to wondering, what will they say about me after I'm gone?
Will those who are left behind spend some time crying in sadness, or will they be pleased to see I've finally left?
I suppose the answer to those questions depends on the mourner we're talking about.
Still, when all is said and done, the only opinion that is going to count, the only important words that will be said will come from the mouth of the Lord.
• After all, He has loved me longer than anyone else. • Through His Son, the Savior, He has invested more in me than anyone else. • He certainly has shown He cares where I am going to spend eternity.
So, what will be said about each of us on the day we meet the Savior face to face? I pray all of us may hear Him say, "Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matthew 25:34b).
THE PRAYER: Dear heavenly Father, the day is coming when I will leave behind those who are close to me, those who are loved by me. For many people that is a frightening thought. For me -- because of Jesus -- my dying will be a cause for rejoicing. I will at that moment be standing before my Savior, my Redeemer, my Brother, my best Friend. In His Name. Amen.
OUR DAILY DEVOTION By: Pastor Ken R. Klaus August 21, 2009
"Power And Peace"
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
The salvation story of Jesus Christ reaches around the world. So that the readers of our Daily Devotion may see the power of the Savior on a global scale, we have asked the volunteers of our International Ministry Centers to write our Friday devotions. We pray that the Spirit may touch your day through their words.
In Christ, I remain, His servant and yours, Kenneth R. Klaus ****** During our recent trip to Thailand we would often find ourselves walking through the little souvenir shops that lined the streets or the open area around a popular Thai attraction. As we admired the workmanship of the beautiful Thai silks, carved wooden objects, colorful gem pendants, and polished stone figurines, we soon concluded many of the items in these shops were either in the shape of elephants or were decorated with pictures of elephants. Later, we learned from our tour guide that elephants were very important to Thai culture. Elephants in Thailand have long been a symbol of both power and peace. Several centuries ago, they were used by kings to lead armies to win wars and therefore restore peace among the people.
While looking through these same souvenir shops, we discovered most of these shops did not display anything with the shape of a cross. With only 1.6 percent of the population claiming to be Christian, this is not a surprising discovery. The cross, a symbol of power and peace for Christians around the world, reminds believers of God's sacrificial love. It was on a cross that God allowed His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for the sins of the world. The powerful death and resurrection of Jesus Christ gives victory, hope, and the promise of eternal peace to all believers.
A large cross is fastened to the front of the Lutheran Hour Ministries Thailand building in Bangkok. During our first few days in the city, that cross became the image we sought. As we made our way through the unfamiliar streets of Bangkok congested with people, scented with unfamiliar smells, and displayed with unfamiliar words, the cross on this building brought us a powerful sense of security and peace. The cross identifies this building as a place where Christ is present -- both in the work being done and within the people who daily carry out His tasks. As Lutheran Hour Ministries reaches out to others through their countless ministries, we pray that 1.6 percent of the population (Christians) will be blessed and strengthened and 98.4 percent of the population (non-Christians) will hear the message of Christ, and no longer consider it foolishness, but as a means of hope.
Though our trip to Thailand quickly came to an end, it will long impact our hearts and lives. Like most tourists, we brought home a collection of souvenirs to remember our visit. This collection includes some beautiful silk scarves, tasty cashews, and even a few items with elephants on them. One item, though, will always be treasured as a rare find in Thailand: it is a hand-painted ceramic cross -- given to us by Lutheran Hour Ministries Thailand.
THE PRAYER: O God, we thank You for sending Your Son Jesus Christ to suffer and die on the cross so that we might know the power of the forgiveness of sins and the peace of eternal life. Open the doors of faith to non-believers so they might also enjoy the power and peace that can only come from You. In Christ's Name we pray. Amen.
Biography of Authors: Pastor Doug Chinberg (Missouri – led and shared the Word in Thailand.)
OUR DAILY DEVOTION By: Pastor Ken R. Klaus August 20, 2009
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4
This devotion is being written while I am in Texas.
Recently, the words of Texas' Governor Rick Perry have made the news. There are a lot of people who do not understand where Governor Perry is coming from or why he has said some of the things he has.
What kind of things? Here are a few things, for example:
• There is a spiritual battle under way for the future of Texas and the U.S. • Freedom of religion is not the same as freedom from religion. • The question becomes, whose morality will inspire the laws that leave a lasting imprint on our society?
While I don't know what kind of Governor Rick Perry is, I did like most of what he is supposed to have said. I especially appreciated a Republican saying he daily prays for a Democratic president.
It is my hope each of our Daily Devotion readers keep in their prayers those who are in authority.
By that I mean all those who are in authority.
It occurs to me if someone disagrees with you, or is leading the land differently than you might hope, that person is really in need of your intercessions, supplications, and prayers.
And if you ask, "Why should I bother?" St. Paul supplies the answer: we pray for those in authority because God has asked it, so we can lead peaceful lives, and so we might share the Savior with those who are lost.
Why? God wants all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of Jesus, who is the truth.
THE PRAYER: Dear heavenly Father, the world seems to be caught in a downward spiral. I give thanks Jesus has, with His nail-pierced hands, reached down and saved me. Now I ask Your Holy Spirit be given to those who are in authority. I also ask You will bring to power those who will not write You out of life's equation. Grant that they and those under them may have room for the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
OUR DAILY DEVOTION By: Pastor Ken R. Klaus August 19, 2009
"A True Word"
Thy Word is truth. John 17:17b
Quite frankly, I don't always believe there are two viable sides to every story.
That is certainly not the case in regard to Louis Haros and the worn-out American flag he is flying.
In September of 2008, Haros, a Vietnam vet, told his son he would keep flying his flag until his son came back from Iraq. It's a promise Haros intends to keep. Most certainly, it is the honorable thing to do.
On the other hand, neighbors, drivers-by, even a national veterans' group say the torn and tattered flag is disgraceful and ought to be replaced by a new one as soon as possible. Most of the people I know would agree that having respect for the flag is a good thing.
Yes, two excellent and opposite points of view. Thankfully, the story will soon find its resolution. Haros' son, Paul, is already back in the United States, having completed his second tour of duty overseas. When he, by God's grace, walks through the door, the flag will come down, be respectfully disposed of, and replaced.
Although there are two viable sides to this story, I have to confess, when the story was first brought to my attention, I was impressed by the integrity of a father who believed in keeping his word. No matter what others might think, no matter the forces opposed to him, no matter the whispers of his neighbors, he remained dedicated to keeping his word.
Does that sound like anyone else you know?
Truly, we do have a God whose Word is truth. When He makes a promise, you can believe it is a promise that will be kept. When He gives His Word that something will be done, it is.
In spite of the world's apathy, loathing, disgust, and laughter, God keeps His Word.
• If He says, "the soul who sins will die" (Ezekiel 18:20a), you can be sure it will. • If He says, "whoever believes and is baptized will be saved" (Mark 16:16a), it will happen -- even if making it happen cost the life of His own Son.
In a changing world, with changing values, morals, and standards, it's good to know we have a Lord about whom we can honestly say, "His Word is truth."
THE PRAYER: Dear heavenly Father, people, commercials, everybody -- make promises that may or may not be kept. We give thanks Your Word can be counted on. We give thanks Your Word is truth. Please, make my word as honorable. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
OUR DAILY DEVOTION By: Pastor Ken R. Klaus August 18, 2009
God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God. Romans 5:8-9
The writer of Hebrews spoke about a "cloud of witnesses" (Hebrews 12:1a).
That usually is interpreted as the Lord having provided special people whose lives, by the power of the Holy Spirit, are spiritual examples on how we should live the Christian life.
Apparently, some men and women in Nicosia, Cyprus, have a different idea about sainthood -- at least with one saint: Agapitikos.
Now we all know Saint Agapitikos is not up there with Nick and Valentine. Even so, Agapitikos is pretty popular with the unhappy lovers of Cyprus. For centuries these disappointed people have believed that Saint Agapitikos can help them get a response from someone who hasn't been willing to give them the time of day.
The recipe for love is simple: take some dust, dirt, or stone from the saint's grave, mix it with wine and get the object of your affection to drink deeply. If you do that, according to the story, true love will be born.
Silly? Of course, it is, but not silly enough to kill the tale. This is why crowds of Agapitikos believers are hammering off chunks of the old saint's grave. So grave (sorry about the pun) is the damage to the tomb, the island's Department of Antiquities has been asked to provide assistance and advice.
Personally, I'm pretty sure Agapitikos' tomb can't help anybody with anything.
I'm even more sure we really don't need real or imaginary saints to get God to love us. We have a Savior. We have a Savior who has, in every way, shown how much the Lord loves us.
Unlike Saint Agapitikos who is supposed to help people with love, Jesus is love.
He is the love of God made flesh. Through the Savior's suffering, death, and resurrection, we know the grave will not have the final say in our lives.
Through Jesus we are convinced Satan has been defeated and our own tomb will never be our final resting place.
In short, through Jesus' resurrection we have salvation.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, for being the love of God we most desperately need, I give thanks. May I always praise You who turned us from being enemies of God into being Your redeemed children. In Your Name. Amen.
OUR DAILY DEVOTION By: Pastor Ken R. Klaus August 17, 2009
"It Is Well"
and say to her, "Is all well with you? Is all well with your husband? Is all well with the child?" And she answered, "All is well." "It Is Well" 2 Kings 4:26b
The death of a child is always a sad occasion.
That was certainly the feeling of some Paraguayan parents when their son was born 16 weeks prematurely.
Without response, hardly any respiratory reflexes, or a heartbeat, the doctors declared the infant "dead."
The parents received their son in a small box with his name scribbled on the outside. They took their child home in that box. It was the box that was to serve as his coffin.
Then, as one of the family members took the child out of his "casket" to prepare his body, the corpse did a most unusual thing: he cried.
Apparently, he cried very loudly and, along with crying, he began to move his arms and his legs.
And what was the reaction of the family? One said, "I got scared, we (all) got scared."
As I think about it, fear was probably the reaction of the religious leaders when they first heard the crucified Savior was alive.
Just as, probably, on Judgment Day, there will be a lot of unbelieving souls who will be surprised -- and scared -- to find out that Jesus, just as He promised, has raised them and would now judge them.
To minimize that fear and to make sure everyone's reaction to Judgment Day will be a happy one, Christians are committed to sharing the Savior's story of salvation. We want people to know Jesus' sacrifice and glorious resurrection over death changes everything.
It most certainly can take their cries of fear and transform them into shouts of everlasting gladness and joy for the Christ who has given His life so we might have life eternal.
And before we pray, you might want to know the baby is in a pre-natal unit and his condition was listed as "stable." As the woman with the dead child said to Elijah, "All is well." And, because of Jesus, it always will be.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, for Your victory that surprised the world and defeated humanity's archenemies, we give thanks. May we share Your story with a lost world so they may not be shocked or lost when You return again. In Your Name. Amen.
OUR DAILY DEVOTION By: Pastor Ken R. Klaus August 16, 2009
For God so loved the world. . . . John 3:16a
Most of the small post offices in our country have been automated or closed.
Still, I can remember decades ago when a lady expressed disappointment at the government deciding to put a vending machine for postage stamps in her post office.
Now, if you've never been to such a small town, I need to tell you the post office is one of the central places for visiting and socializing.
Only when the lady had finished sharing her displeasure, did she start asking questions. The workman doing the installation told her she was looking at the state of the art in postage vending machines.
After spending ten minutes praising the machine, the worker gave the lady his ultimate argument in favor of the machine. He said she would never again have to wait in line to buy postage. Anything a postal worker could do this machine could do, and it could do it faster and with greater accuracy.
The argument left the lady completely unimpressed. In a huff she pulled herself up to her full 4'10" and snorted, "This machine may be a wonder, but I won't use it. I won't ever use it -- not until you teach it to ask about my arthritis."
Machines have come a long way since that stamp story took place. Now we really do have machines that can ask, "How's your arthritis."
But nobody has ever yet invented a machine that will really care about you or your problems.
On the other hand, we never had to invent a God who really cares. He cares about arthritis, and He cares about how that arthritis is affecting us. Yes, God cares, but He does more than care.
He loves us enough to care about where we will spend eternity. He loves us enough to send His Son into this world to offer His life as our ransom. He loves us enough.
Now, by Jesus' suffering, death, and wonderful resurrection all who believe are forgiven; all who acknowledge their Savior know they will be spending forever in paradise with Him.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, You really do care about me. I thank You for the gift of Your Son. Because of Your love and compassion, I am saved. Amen.
OUR DAILY DEVOTION By: Pastor Ken R. Klaus (August 15, 2009)
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Yesterday, in the course of my readings, I came across some really good news.
The good news comes from a large university that discovered the smarter a person is, the worse is his handwriting.
When I shared that piece of information with some of my staff, -- somebody, whose name won't be mentioned here -- commented that I must be a genius. I believe the remark wasn't as much directed to my mental ability as it was a commentary on my handwriting.
Indeed, my penmanship is only readable by people who have made a lifelong study of it. And even the best of them sometimes have to make a guess at what I've scribbled.
The truth is, in spite of having had a teacher who tried to impress upon his students the idea of cultivating a beautiful -- and readable -- handwriting, I probably just don't care that much.
It's always sad when God's people don't make use of the gifts God has given them. It's sad because the Savior is often judged by the quality of our workmanship.
I wonder, what does it say about the Savior when His people do an inconsistent job on an assembly line? What does it tell the curious when they see Christian students doing their work in a slipshod manner? What does it say when we respond to God's love in a shoddy way?
Truly, I give thanks the Lord doesn't ever work that way. I rejoice we don't have a cut-rate, bargain-basement God who is always looking to get off as cheaply as possible. I am encouraged we don't have a God who gets economical when it comes to our salvation.
God always gives His best.
When He created the universe and all it contains, everything was "very good" (Genesis 1:31a). When He wished to redeem doomed and damned sinners, He sent us the best -- His very own Son. When He wishes to tell us the gracious story of salvation, He put it in a book, which clearly says we are saved by grace, through faith in Christ.
And God couldn't do any better than that.
THE PRAYER: Dear heavenly Father, thank You for being a God who always gives the best to His people. Now may I be saved by Jesus, directed by Your Word, and do my best as a witness to Your grace. I pray it in the Name of my crucified and risen Lord Jesus. Amen.
OUR DAILY DEVOTION: (Pastor Ken R. Klaus) August 14, 2009
"Forgiveness Beyond Measure"
". . . but this man has done nothing wrong." Luke 23:41b
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
The salvation story of Jesus Christ reaches around the world. So that the readers of our Daily Devotion may see the power of the Savior on a global scale, we have asked the volunteers of our International Ministry Centers to write our Friday devotions. We pray that the Spirit may touch your day through their words. In Christ, I remain, His servant and yours, Kenneth R. Klaus.
Have you ever been lumped together with an unsavory character or two you felt to be your unequal? There was a certain injustice in that, wasn't there? You were maligned by association. And though you knew you were bad, you knew you weren't that bad. Doesn't feel too good, does it?
Now how might Jesus have felt when -- led up to the place where He would be brutally crucified -- He was accompanied by two common thugs who were going -- and justly going -- to die? First, He didn't deserve death -- not in this way, not in any way. Second, as true God and true man, He was going to die alongside two sinners who did deserve to die. Can we even begin to sense the injustice of this spectacle for Jesus -- "the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation" (Colossians 1:15b)?
By God's grace, one criminal got it; he understood what was happening before his very eyes. The other, taunting Jesus to the bitter end, didn't. " . . . We are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong," said the one man to the other (Luke 23:41b). He has done nothing wrong, the Scripture says, but yet "upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5b).
We are healed!
We are the criminals hanging there. We are the ones deserving to die. But instead, through His shed blood, we are healed!
THE PRAYER: Dear Father, in Your Son's blood is life for those who believe. Your power alone can change people's lives through faith and grant them eternal life through the saving work of Jesus Christ. Our sins are great, but Your grace is greater still. Through Your Holy Spirit keep us close to You, believing, trusting, and relying on Your every healing Word. In Christ's Name, we pray. Amen.
DEVOTION FOR DIETERS: August 13, 2009 By: Dan Dick
Isaiah 40:1 'Comfort ye, comfort ye my people,' saith your God.
Josh was feeling down and depressed. Nothing seemed to be working out for him. His job was a nightmare, his social life was even worse, and he was lonely. He sat alone and ate. His weight had skyrocketed. He wouldn't eat so much if he had someone to talk to. His main problem was that he just didn't have anything else to do. Often, the most comforting thing we can hope for is someone to spend time with. Company gives us pleasure and takes our mind off eating. It is up to us to find people to spend time with when that is the only reason we sit and stuff ourselves. God sends us comfort in many ways. Seek the comfort of company.
Today's thought: I'm never so tempted to cheat as when I'm alone!
OUR DAILY DEVOTION: (Pastor Ken R. Klaus) August 12, 2009
"Don't Get Confused"
(Jesus said) "What woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.' Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents." Luke 15:8-10
The 82-year-old lady from Hildesheim, Germany, hadn't lost one of her coins.
Two years ago she lost her car, an Audi. Well, "lost" is really not the right word. Her Audi was stolen.
Two years ago she took her car in to be repaired. After doing the work, the mechanics took it back to her house and parked it in her garage.
The next day, after she had recovered her keys and papers from her mailbox, she went to the garage to collect her car and do some errands.
To her shock, the car was gone. She reported it stolen and that was that.
That was that until last week. That's when a neighbor went to clean up his garage -- the garage that he never uses. Sure enough, there, under about "a centimeter-deep coating of dust" was the lady's Audi.
According to the Associated Press story, "It didn't take police long to piece together that the mechanics had parked it in the wrong garage."
The lady was very happy.
It doesn't make any difference if the story is from 2,000 years ago or now; it doesn't make any difference if we're talking about a lost coin or a lost car; there is always rejoicing when something lost is found. Rejoicing -- that's what Jesus indicates happens in heaven when a sinner repents.
And so it should. Anytime the Savior's forgiveness becomes a reality to a sinful, human heart, is a time of gladness. Anytime a soul is moved from hell to heaven, from damnation to salvation, it is a blessed thing -- a blessed thing made possible by the blood of the Redeemer and by His glorious resurrection.
This is why I encourage you: "Today, make some angels happy; be a sinner who repents."
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, for the forgiveness You won for humanity through Your life, suffering, death, and resurrection, I give thanks. Now, I pray the Holy Spirit will let me reflect my gratitude by keeping me from sin, and granting me a repentant heart when I do sin. This I ask in Your Name. Amen.
ENCOURAGEMENT FOR TODAY! August 11, 2009 By: Tracie Miles
Choosing God's Plans
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
Devotion: Several years ago, I was sitting in a management meeting, when my manager suggested we kick off the meeting by allowing each person the opportunity to say what they felt was their most important contribution to the company.
One by one, each person spoke, stating things like, "to decrease overall expenses"; "to lower headcount"; etc. When my turn came, my heart fluttered, and I felt compelled to share that I felt my primary purpose was to counsel employees, encourage them, and help them work through personal or work related issues. You could have heard a pin drop in that room, as everyone stared at me with blank faces.
You see, the months leading up to this meeting, there had been a lot of issues going on in the company. There were office politics, power struggles, lofty egos, and people had been hurt.
As a result of my position, people would often come to me for guidance. God had been leading unexpected people into my office for weeks and opened the door for me to minister to believers and non-believers with the love of Christ. He'd also given me the desire and courage to be a light for Him, in an environment that didn't operate under Christian principles. He had ordained opportunities for me to share how Jesus gives true peace and acceptance, even when people and politics cause pain and disappointment.
My supervisor was not a believer, so he didn't appreciate my answer to his question. He wanted to hear how I was going to streamline procedures and improve his department, not what was on my heart, and as a result, our relationship went downhill from there.
A year or so later, I resigned from that position. The atmosphere had simply become too difficult, but more importantly, I knew God had been nudging me to make a change. I felt called to serve in ministry and to be a stay at home mom. All that time, I had been walking in disobedience.
When I resigned, it felt like a sacrifice. However, I quickly discovered that God's plan was so much better than mine. I realized that I had been unable to understand His plan, until I was willing to lay aside my own, and that I had to choose Him, before He could show me His will for my life. Had I simply said what I knew my boss wanted to hear in that meeting, I might still be working there, climbing the corporate ladder, and striving to reach my career goals.
But God had been working on my heart for years, preparing me for that moment. He had gradually shifted my desires to building His kingdom, more so than building my resume. He had inspired me to see the hearts of the people in my office, not just the problems in the people. And He had helped me to see that lasting success and happiness could be found in Him alone, not through my own accomplishments.
Was making that change easy? Or course not. Did I have to make difficult sacrifices? Most definitely. But was it worth it? ABSOLUTELY!
Regardless of where you work, you can make a spiritual difference in people's lives. Whether you work in corporate offices or a Christian ministry, when facing a difficult choice, you can trust that God has prepared and equipped you for such a time as this.
Pray for strength to stand up for God's truth, even against all odds, and ask Him to lead you in your decisions.
Choosing Christ's plans, over our own plans, will always result in more peace or blessing than we could never imagine.
Dear Lord, it is not always easy to stand up for you in the face of opposition, or to make choices that seem outside of our understanding. I seek your guidance, and your divine wisdom and discernment regarding the decisions in my life. I do desire to do your will. Thank you for never leaving me. Please help me to be strong in You, and for you. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
OUR DAILY DEVOTION: (Pastor Ken R. Klaus) August 11, 2009
"Into The Light Of The Lord"
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105
Anna Williams is carrying a burden.
Her son is in jail. More specifically, the man is in the Rappahannock County Regional Jail in Virginia.
Understandably, Anna, who loves her son, is doing all she can to encourage him to mend his ways, to ask for the forgiveness that comes through the Savior, and be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The best way Anna knows of doing this is to send her son pertinent passages taken from the Bible.
It's a practice the authorities have been discouraging. They have derailed Anna's attempts by opening the man's letters and cutting out all her written references to Scripture. Anna's attorney says, "Some of the letters are full of Bible passages, so what her son is getting is absolutely at the end of the letter where she says goodbye, I love you. . . ."
The attorney adds that this is not an isolated situation. Other organizations trying to distribute Bibles to prisoners have also been encountering resistance. Authorities say such materials can be "dangerous."
This got me to wondering: Dangerous? How so?
Maybe if you gave a prisoner one of those great, centuries-old Bibles, the kind with the wooden covers that weigh about 30 pounds, it might be dangerous. A criminal might drop that Bible and if it landed right, break his toe.
Beyond that, I'm at a loss as to how Scripture is dangerous.
The transformation which comes to sinful hearts when they encounter the Savior's sacrifice, when the Holy Spirit gives them faith and forgiveness, is nothing short of a minor miracle.
Indeed, history books are full of sinful souls who have, through God's Holy Word, been moved from darkness to light.
This is just another way of saying the thief on the cross was not the last person to be saved by an encounter with the Savior.
THE PRAYER: Dear heavenly Father, how sad it is when authorities try to keep those who have lived in the darkness -- in that darkness. May the power of Your transforming Word, the sacrifice of the Christ, touch hearts everywhere, and especially in those places where the world's darkness is the deepest. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
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