A STORY ABOUT FORGIVENESS
“At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?”
Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.
“The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was bought before him who ran up a debt of hundred thousand dollars. He couldn’t pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market.
“The poor wrench threw himself at the king’s feet and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.
“The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded. ‘Pay up. Now!’
“The poor wretch threw himself down and begged. ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ But he wouldn’t do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king.
“The king summoned the man and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy? The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt. And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.” Matthew 18:21-35 (Message)
Prayer: O Lord God, you are the foundation of forgiveness that never runs dry. Take our hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of love. Give us joy in doing your will. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen
MORE PRECIOUS THAN GOLD
“Thus says the Lord God: This also I will let the house of Israel ask me to do for them: to increase their men like a flock.”Ezekiel 36: 37 (RSV)
This was a blessing from God to Israel during a time of great trial. Charles Sturgeon writes that, as we turn to scared history, we often find that “scarcely ever did a great mercy come to this world unheralded by supplication.”
Haven’t we found this to be true in our lives? God has shown us great favor, sometimes unsolicited, but prayer has always been the prelude to great mercy. Prayer is the forerunner of mercy.
Whenever we have great joys, we see them as answers to prayer. When we are delivered out of trouble, danger and fear, we are able to say that I have looked to God. He heard me, and delivered me. Prayer is always the preface to blessing. It’s like prayer goes before the blessing like a shadow. God loves us so much that he piles up a mountain of mercies before us. Then He Himself shines behind them and casts a shadow of prayer on our spirits. It is our prayer that makes God’s mercies more precious that gold.
Our Lord is so extravagantly merciful, shouldn’t we be the same? John Crysastom wrote “mercy imitates God and disappoints Satan.” Dear Friends, may you know the possibilities within you that are more precious than gold. Praise be to God.
Prayer: Precious Lord, may we always know that you and you alone make all possibilities within us more precious than gold. We thank you for being there whenever we ask, in Jesus’ name. Amen
SHARE YOUR LIGHT
“From one man he created all races of mankind and made them live throughout the whole earth. He himself fixed beforehand the exact times and the limits of the places where they would live.” Acts 17:26 (TEV)
There is a lighthouse that stands forever lit in the back of our sanctuary. Each time I gaze upon it I am reminded that our “Lord is a lamp unto our feet and that we are to share that light with others.
In the book of Acts 17:26, we are told that we are placed in particular locations for God’s purpose. We (you and me) the people of God, “the church” not the building, can carry His presence and power into the places we live and work. How awesome it is to think that by God’s design we each have been given a sphere of influence or spiritual authority where we live, work, worship, and minister to others, be it neighbors, peers, colleagues, friends or family.
May we be very prayerful as we go our daily walk on earth, always asking that the Holy one rest upon our hearts, that the kingdom of Christ may come, and that His will “be done on earth, even as it is in heaven.” May we seek the help of God that we may be more earnest in duty when made stronger in faith; that we may be more constant in prayer when we have the freedom to bow before the throne; that we may be more holy in our conversation as we live more closely with Christ.
May our light remain lit, shining brightly, showing His presence before all whom we encounter and transforming wherever we are. What a blessing to have that vision of transformation as we look outside of ourselves into our communities and our world.
Prayer: Lord, guide us to prayerfully share your light with others daily wherever we are, in Jesus’ name. Amen
“Behold, God is exalted in his power….” Job 36:22 (RSV)
Driving by a church bulletin board, I read the saying,
“ The lake would lose its song,
If God didn’t make the waves.”
Just picturing God’s power in the waves, in the sounds and in the music of the waves I heard in my mind, it had me think of all that I take for granted in our world. Not man-made but God made.
I see a spider web spun from across the old oak tree’s branches 15’’ high reaching over to the deck in one straight smooth line. God’s power, I shout wow! How can that happen?
I listen to cardinals calling to each other in evening song. God’s power calms me.
I feel the wind whip around my legs while I try to open the screen door carrying a bag full of groceries. God’s power controls me.
I watch a father pick up and comfort a hurting child. God’s power reassures me.
I taste the nectar of a fresh picked peach. God’s power marvels me.
God’s power and love for each of us resounds. Do you hear it? Every time we envision the wonders of God’s creation we should thank God and appreciate all that He has provided for us.
Prayer: God, without your love for us and your creation, we would not be here. We thank you for providing all that we have and forgiving us when we fail to honor. You are most gracious and understanding even when we don’t deserve it. All praise and glory be to you through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen
“And the tongue is a fire!” James 3:6a (NET)
This summer my brother and sister-in-law visited with their daughter and son-in-law in the state of Washington. When we asked how their trip was going, they said they were house bound because of all the forest fires surrounding the town. The smoke was so heavy and dense they were advised not to go outside and to stay in. For 3 days the fire fighters battled the blaze and the town was on smoke alert. Finally, it was under control and the winds shifted cleaning the air of the town. What started as a lighting strike fed the forest and kept the people of the town in bay.
As I was keeping up with the family and hearing of their adventures, it reminded me of what James was mentioning in my reading of his letter. “So too the tongue is a small part of the body, yet it has great pretensions. Think how small a flame sets a huge forest ablaze. And the tongue is a fire! The tongue represents the world of wrongdoing among the parts of our bodies. It pollutes the entire body and sets fire to the course of human existence and is set on fire by hell.” James 3:6-7
Why do bad rumors spread as fast as a forest fire? Can we use our tongues in helping instead of hurting? Through prayer, the scriptures, study, fellowship and self control we can control the forest fires within us. Let us control our tongues daily and give thanks to God for everything he has provided.
Prayer: Lord, help us to control the fire in our tongues. Let not our words destroy anyone you have made, but let our words help, heal and make all people happy in your world and word. Amen
LET GOD DIRECT YOUR LIFE
“May our God and father himself and our Lord Jesus prepare the way for us to come to you! May the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow more and more and become as great as our love for you. In this way he will strengthened you, and you will be perfect and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all who belong to him.” 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 (TEV)
This prayer was written by Paul as he closed his letter to the Thessalonians. For Paul everything in his life needed God’s help. He prayed to God to open a way for him to come to Thessalonica. It was God that he turned to with the everyday problems in his life. Paul did not wait for emergencies to pray-he prayed over everything in his life.
Don’t we often find ourselves overlooking our Lord during the “mundane happenings” of our life, and only find ourselves clutching Him when we need to be rescued….when we’re in over our heads…when we are overwhelmed by life’s problems. If we followed Paul’s example and brought all the concerns and needs of our life to God, the difference could be a God-directed life not a God-rescued life. How exciting is that!
Paul also prays beautifully that God will enable the Thessalonians to fulfill the law of love in their daily lives. Paul is praying that “the Lord make your love grow.” How beautiful to remember that Christ’s love must motivate and compel you. (2Cor.5:14) this love will then strengthen your heart, keep you from sin, and make you holy so that you will remain guiltless when Christ returns.
Paul closes his prayer with a request of ultimate safety as he reflects upon the Second Coming and judgment. It was his prayer that God would preserve his people in righteousness so that on that day they would not be ashamed. The only way to prepare to meet God is to live daily with Him.
Prayer: Lord, help us to strengthen our hearts, keep us from sinful ways and through prayer we can talk you daily. Keep our conversations with you flowing 24/7. Thanks be to God our Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen
THE PLIGHT OF DANIEL
“God is wise and powerful! Praise him forever and ever, He controls the times and the seasons; he makes and unmakes kings; it is he who gives wisdom and understanding. He reveals things that are deep and secret; he knows what is hidden in darkness, and he himself is surrounded by light. I praise you and honor you, God of my ancestors. You have given me wisdom and strength; you have answered my prayer and shown us what to tell the kings.” Daniel 2:20-23 (TEV)
Just imagine being taken captive and threatened with death if you could not interpret the dream of a powerful person, who, by the way, refused to tell you the dream so that it could be interpreted. Such was the plight of Daniel as told in the Old Testament book of Daniel. Well, what did Daniel do? He turned to earnest prayer, asking God to open up the meaning of the dream to him. We learn in Chapter 2 that the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision.
So, what did Daniel do then? He blessed the God of Heaven. This is how great our God is.
As you face your trials, take them to God in prayer and ask to be filled with spiritual understanding of God’s will. Remember that prayer is our best defense, that, like Daniel, we too may be prepared to face our trail. Then, may we also, like Daniel, thank God, praise God, and give Him all the glory. Praise be to God.
Prayer: Lord, we lift up all who are struggling with trials and ask that they be renewed with spiritual understanding of your will. Help them to turn to you in prayer and to thank you for being there to listen to their trials. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen