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Power Of Prayer

Posted in Daily Devotions

Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. (James 5.16)

Sometime back a cardiologist at a California hospital conducted an experiment in healing. The study included 393 seriously ill cardiac patients. From this group 192 were selected randomly for special treatment. The special treatment was prayer. Selected people around the country were asked to pray for each of these 192 patients. Their conditions were described in detail. The people praying were to focus their prayers toward “beneficial healing and quick recovery.” The remaining patients were given the usual medical care without prayer.

Ten months later, the results revealed a startling conclusion. The patients who were prayed for experienced markedly fewer incidences of cardiac related infections, pulmonary edema and mortality than did the 201 patients not prayed for. It’s important to note that the patients selected for prayer did not even know they were being prayed for. And the people praying had never met the patients for whom they were asking Divine help. To them they were just names. And yet, their prayers worked!

If prayer can accomplish so much at a distance, what might happen in our lives and our church if we were to pray for those close at hand?

Dear God, may I take the time to pray for those in need. In Jesus name, Amen.

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God’s Action

Posted in Daily Devotions

We also constantly give thanks to God for this, that when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God’s word, which is also at work in you believers. (1 Thessalonians 2.13)

A man named Allen Danforth had a dramatic conversion experience. Shortly afterward he was invited by a missionary evangelist to go to Ghana, West Africa. While there, he saw starvation and deprivation beyond comprehension. He was bombarded by one horror story after another. After a month in Africa, Allen boarded a plane for the United States. On the long flight home he asked, “Lord, why did you ever send me here? What can anybody do? It’s absolutely hopeless.”

Then Allen heard the voice of God. God told him that he would be held “accountable” for what he had seen. “I got a knot in my stomach,” Allen recalls. “I didn’t have a vision, but in my mind’s eye I could see myself standing all alone before Christ, accounting for my life…” That experience became a priority in his life. “When I got off the plane,” Allen says, “I didn’t know anything about being a missionary, but I knew that I could share a vision. I could tell people what I’d seen.”

Allen was alert to God’s action in his life. Are you?

Father, help me to be alert to your action in my life. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Posted in Daily Devotions

Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2.38)

Calvin Miller tells about a Pentecost Sunday he spent in Brussels, Belgium worshipping in the Cathedral of St. Michael. The worship service was in two languages both of which were foreign to him. Part of the service was spoken in Latin, of which he understood a few words. The rest of the service was spoken in Flemish which he did not understand at all. Since it was Pentecost Sunday he thought the unintelligible service might be about the Holy Spirit. He thumbed his English Bible to Acts 2 and tried to follow the cardinal who was leading the service. The cardinal was totally unaware that a Christian from America was there, spying on his litany but very much in need of the Lord.

Calvin Miller testifies that he was able to worship there far away from home in two unknown languages because, as he puts it, a fire was loose in the world that makes Jerusalem, Oklahoma, and Belgium all one.

There was a fire loose on that first Pentecost. That fire was fanned by the very wind of God.

Are you allowing the wind of God to blow on you?

Dear God, may your spirit blow on me. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Lost & Found

Posted in Daily Devotions

And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.” (Luke 15.6)

James Moore remembers the time when he was seven years old and got lost at the Ringling Brothers Circus. It was a frightening experience for a seven-year-old boy in a crowd of over twenty thousand. Jim and his older brother, Bob, went to the concession stand to buy some cotton candy. People were pushing and pressing toward the counter. Since Bob was taller he was waited on first. After Bob got his cotton candy he stepped aside for his brother. Just then loud laughter came from the arena. Bob wanted to see what was going on. Certainly he didn’t mean to leave his small brother alone. He simply got caught up in the excitement listening to the crowd laugh at the clowns.

Little Jim also got his cotton candy and then he looked around for his big brother. His brother was gone. In that moment of panic nothing looked familiar to this little fellow. He was lost. At that point he wondered if he would ever see his family again. “I started to run,” he recalls, “trying to fight back the tears. Everyone was laughing loudly at the antics of the clowns, but they weren’t funny to me at that moment.” In this young boy’s moment of panic and confusion he thought, “How can they laugh at a time like this? How can they laugh when I feel so lost?”

Just then Jim felt a touch on his shoulder. He turned around and saw his father. “My father had come after me and had found me. He held me down, reassured me, then bought me a Coke, a hot dog, a Yo-Yo, a lizard, a little stuffed bear, and a candy apple. I learned a valuable lesson that day: Being lost is terrible…being found is wonderful!”

Have you allowed our Father in Heaven to find you?

Heavenly Father, come close to me. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Storms Of Life

Posted in Daily Devotions

The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. (Matthew 7.25)

The Leaning Tower of Pisa has not always been called the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Built from 1173 to 1372, the 12‑story, solid marble structure stands 17 feet out of line. After the first three stories were completed, the ground underneath began to sink. And thus it continues to lean until someday it may topple. A life that is built on shaky soil will be an unstable life. The foundations of life consist of the ground upon which you build. Whether you’re a teenager, an adolescent, a young adult, or a senior citizen, you are always building a foundation.

Now lets look at the storms of life and note that THE STORMS OF LIFE CONFRONT EVERY HUMAN BEING. Jesus said both men, the wise man and the foolish man were surprised by the suddenness of the storm. It matters not your educational background, your place of position or prestige, we are all confronted with life’s storms. You may be upper class, middle class, low class or no class; storms are no respecters of persons.

Look at the intensity of the storm. The storms Jesus spoke of are described with deliberate accuracy and similarity. From what we can tell it may have been one and the same storm. He described them with identical words. Jesus used five conjunctions to show the intensity of the storm. In our English translations we lose this intensity. It reads like this: “And the rain came down and the streams rose and the winds blew and beat against that house and yet it did not fall.” We need not go far to see the intensity of life’s storms. Look at the Kennedy family. In the early 60’s President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated on a street in downtown Dallas, Texas. Robert Kennedy, while campaigning for president, was assassinated. One of the Kennedy’s was born mentally retarded. Another lost a leg to cancer. It was a few years ago that David Kennedy, the son of the late Robert Kennedy, was found dead in his hotel room as a result of alcohol abuse. And we are aware of the Mary Jo Kopechne tragedy that has overshadowed Edward Kennedy. John Kennedy, the son of former President Kennedy died in a plane crash. Our lives are obliterated at times by the intensity of the storms that confront each and every one of us. We are not exempt from storms of life. They are as much a part of life as breathing. That’s the intensity of the storm.

There is also the diversity of the storm. Jesus, in relating the storm that hit both houses, used very descriptive language in explaining the storm. There are three dimensions of the storm. He said the rain came down so as to test the roof. He said the streams rose so as to test the foundation. And He said the wind blew and beat against the house so as to test the walls. That is the diversity and the intensity of life’s storms that you and I are confronted with every day.

No matter the storm, Jesus is with us. Sometimes he is even carrying us.

Dear God, thank you for walking with me through the storms of life.In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Cold Grits

Posted in Daily Devotions

Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. (3 John 1.2)

Willis Moore recalls that his grandmother always ate cold grits. She preferred them hot. It was her priorities that caused them to be cold. Willis fondly remembers how his “Grandmother would cook a hot breakfast–fresh farm eggs, crisp bacon, homemade blackberry jelly and biscuits, and bowls of hot grits.” The family would gather around the table. His grandfather would ask the blessing.

While the family was eating breakfast the grandmother would read devotions to the family. When she prayed everyone stopped eating and bowed their heads. Afterward everyone cheerfully joined in table conversation while finishing breakfast. “Only then,” Willis remembers, “did Grandmother start to eat her breakfast and that is why she always ate cold grits.”

Willis remembers those special mornings and the example of his Grandmother. At that time it didn’t seem all that important, but as the years rolled on he came to recognize the significance of those cold grits. “Spiritual formation,” he writes, “is the memory of Grandmother putting God first at breakfast. Of course she did so in the other areas of her life, too, but the memory of her putting aside a hot breakfast to share God’s word with her family feeds me yet.”

Are you eating cold grits so you can feed your soul?

Lord, may I take the time I need to feed my soul. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Posted in Daily Devotions

The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost. (1 Timothy 1.15)

Tony Pena is a former catcher for the Boston Red Sox. Tony grew up in the Dominican Republic. Life was not easy. Tony Pena says that the person who had the greatest influence on his life was his mother.

It is the dream of almost every Dominican boy to play ball in the United States. Throughout the Dominican Republic young boys swing old rake handles or “anything else they can get for a bat, trying to hit a ball a little quicker, a little farther than anyone else” — hoping to one day to play in our major leagues.

Tony credits his mother not only for teaching him and his brothers how to play baseball but also for giving him a love for the game. His mother had been a pretty good softball player herself when she was young. When school was out and their chores were done, she’d walk her boys to a nearby pasture. She would stand on a rough dirt patch that served as the pitcher’s mound and pitch to her sons. “All right, little Luis,” she’d call in, “this pitch will be right down the middle.” When it was Tony’s turn she would say, “Okay, Tony look for this one in on the fists. You must learn to hit the inside pitch.”

Tony Pena is thankful for the influence of his mother. Before he left for the United States, he prayed, “God, all I want from life is to be able to help my family. Please help me do that.” Tony has helped his family. “Not long after I made the majors,” he recalls. “I drove with Mama through the streets of Santiago.” As they were driving Tony asked his mother, “what do you think of that house over there? Take a good look, Mama.” They stopped in front of the house. “It’s a wonderful house,” his mother replied, “why do you ask? Are you thinking of buying it?” He paused–hardly able to contain himself. He handed her a set of keys, “I already have, Mama. For you.” “Oh Tony,” she said as tears began to stream down her face. At that special moment, Tony writes, “I thanked God for giving me such a mother.”

We have a lot to be thankful for, especially the gift of Jesus Christ.

Dear God, thank you for sending me a Savior. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Posted in Daily Devotions

If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1.9)

The most difficult truism if the human nature is to admit we are wrong, or have failed. It just seems it is not in us to admit we are wrong without blaming someone else for our failure. The truth is we do fail, we do wrong, and we need someone to cover for us, and his name is Jesus.

A sunny day in September, 1972, a stern-face, plainly dressed man could be seen standing still on a street corner in the busy Chicago Loop. As pedestrians hurried by on their way to lunch or business, he would solemnly lift his right arm, and pointing to the person nearest him, intone loudly the single word “GUILTY!”

Then, without any change of expression, he would resume his stiff stance for a few moments before repeating the gesture. Then, again, the inexorable raising of the arm, the pointing, and the solemn pronouncing of the one word “GUILTY!”

Members of the lunch hour crowd would stare as they passed by at the strange performance. They would stop for a moment, look away, glance at each other, look back at the man, and then hurry on their way. One man, turning to another, exclaimed: “But how did he know?”

Are we all guilty? And, if so, of what? And before whom? And can we ever straighten it out?

There was a joke going around a few years back when the transgressions of certain prominent televangelists were being very painfully exposed, “Did you hear that Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker have decided to give up their television ministries. They are going to start a magazine. It will be called ‘Repenthouse.’” John the Baptist preached, “Repent for the kingdom of God is near.” Jesus did likewise. The Apostle Paul declared, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” and “the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 3:23 and 6:23). The author of 1 John asserts: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, (God) is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1:8-9).

Dear God, please forgive me. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.

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We Are Not Alone

Posted in Daily Devotions

Take counsel together, but it shall be brought to naught; speak a word, but it will not stand, for God is with us. (Isaiah 8.10)

They were shooting the movie “Yankee Doodle Dandy” on the day after Pearl Harbor. The cast listened as President Roosevelt announced on the radio that the United States was at war with Japan. At that point director Michael Curtiz came on the sound stage with Jimmy Cagney. They all listened in silence for the national anthem to finish. As the women dabbed tears from their eyes, and the men were deeply moved, Curtiz said in his best Hungarian accent:

“Now, boys and girls, we have work to do. We have bad news, but we have a wonderful story to tell the world. So let’s put away sad things and begin.”

That’s our challenge, too. We remember with sadness and gratitude the sacrifices others have made in our behalf. Now we go out to tell the story that in tragedy God is with us. We are not alone.

Loving God, thank you for being with me through every moment of life’s journey. Amen

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Citizens Of Heaven

Posted in Daily Devotions

But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3.20)

Writer and speaker Carol Kent tells about a couple she met in Indianapolis, Indiana, named Pam and Bill Mutz. She was immediately impressed with the quality parenting these two were giving their three children. Carol asked her hostess what made their home so uniquely special. She began her story.

A few years earlier, when their older daughter, Cari, was just two-and-a-half years old and their son, Jonathan, was seven months old, the children were in the bathtub together. That week Pam and Bill had out-of-town company, and the guest had brought two dogs with him that were left outside in the yard. While Pam was bathing her children, she became concerned that the dogs might get too far from the house. Jonathan had been sitting up well on his own, and Pam turned to Cari and said, “Honey, please watch your brother for just a minute while Mama checks on those dogs.”

Pam was gone a short time, but when she returned, Jonathan was under water. Cari didn’t realize the danger. Pam grabbed her son and screamed for the guest, who came down and did mouth-to-mouth resuscitation while Pam called for an ambulance.

“They laid my Jonathan on a stretcher and worked feverishly over him, but even before we reached the hospital, I knew that he was gone,” Pam said. In the days that followed, friends and family gathered, feeling Pam and Bill’s grief as their very own.

Carol asked Pam about the long-term effect of this crisis point in their home. She said, “Carol, God has done an emotional and spiritual healing here that even psychologists do not understand. We know it’s the Lord.”

She continued, “Cari speaks often of her brother and looks forward to seeing him in heaven someday. Every time she gets a helium balloon, she rushes outside. Then she lets it go as she shouts into the heavens, `Jesus, this is for Jonathan, and tell him it’s from Cari!’ I just know those balloons will make it–all the way! One day, perhaps, Jonathan will greet us with an armful of balloons when we have the privilege of joining him in heaven!”

Jesus’ prayer is that each of us would have that same confidence. He wants us to have unity with one another. He wants us also to have unity with God. God is our refuge and strength. He also wants us to know that the bonds that join us to one another and to God are eternal. Nothing will ever break them. Not even death will snatch us from Him or from those we love.

Dear God, thank you for your heavenly kingdom that surrounds me. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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