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Matt Gavenda

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MAKING A COMEBACK

“But I [Jesus] have prayed for you [Peter], that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to me, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:32 NKJV)


I am looking forward to meeting Peter when I get to heaven. I can relate to him in many ways. Peter lacked faith (Matthew 14:31); spoke out of turn (Matthew 16:22–23); acted impulsively (John 18:10); and denied Christ (Matthew 26:75). Yet Peter added 3,000 members to the kingdom of God following his sermon (Acts 2:14–41).

David was an adulterer and murderer and was the apple of God’s eye. Moses stuttered and led God’s people out of slavery. Paul persecuted Christians and evangelized his world. Jonah ran and led Nineveh to repentance. Rahab lied and was in the lineage of Christ. Martha worried. Thomas doubted. Zacchaeus was short. Abraham was old. Lazarus was dead. God can use anyone in sharing the gospel and advancing His kingdom. 

The word most missed in this passage is “when.” Jesus did not say if Peter returned to Him. He said when he returned. Jesus knew Peter would return to Him. God uses our faults and shortcomings as often as He uses our gifts and talents. We do not have to be great, rich, popular, or perfect. We just need a heart that is willing to serve. God can use us to do amazing things through our weaknesses if we let Him! 


Father, help me to always be willing to be used by You. Remind me that You have already given me the ability to do all that You ask.

Angela (OH)

LISTENING: BETTER THAN ANSWERING

“But He answered him not one word so that the governor marveled greatly.” (Matthew 27:14 NKJV) 

 


Over the years, I’ve learned to lean on our Creator more and depend on myself a lot less. I’ve also been blessed with wisdom in prayer and recognize the value of learning to be still before our Lord during my quiet time in the early morning hours. 

While reading the Gospels, I’ve realized our Lord would spend a whole night by himself, seeking purpose and revelations from God. 

In the opening verse, Jesus was before Pilate who was questioning Jesus about his identity. This verse reveals the importance of learning not to tell God how we would like Him to fix our needs. 

Peter instructs us to "cast all our anxieties on Him for He cares about you" [1 Peter 5:7]. Instead of daily dumping all my burdens upon Him, I find greater grace and calm in learning to be still in the presence of Royalty. 

“And Jesus answered and said to her, 'Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.' ” (Luke 10:41-42NKJV) 

Like Mary, I want to be in the presence of His intimacy, to listen and worship more than to dialog in prayer. Truly this brings rest to my soul. He knows my heart before I speak; so learning to listen, in prayer, is much greater than answering our Lord with instructions. It’s not for me to instruct Him. 

 

Father, thank you for teaching me that listening is far greater than crying out for help

Robert (CA) 

ROOTED IN LOVE

I pray that you have your roots and foundation in love. Eph. 3:17b

 

When we bought our house it came wth a brick planter that divided the living room from the dining area. I felt pretty confident that I could grow a philodendron, so I bought a very small plant and placed it in the center of the large planter. Over the years, long vines filled the planter. One day, on impulse, I began attacking a particularly long vine along the ceiling of my dining room. Very soon now, it will have encircled the room and arrive back at the planter. 


No matter how far from the planter the vine extends its reach, however, it is vital that it still be connected by its roots to the soil in the planter. Should those roots be ripped from the soil, the entire vine would wither and die.

Paul's interest is in spiritual roots. He wants to be sure the Ephesian's roots are planted in love. Why love? That they may begin to understand Christ's love for them. Why? That they might then come filled with the very nature of God. Why? Because God IS love.

Periodically I shine my philodendron leaves and envision each leaf representing love as it reaches, not around my dining room, but around the world, firmly rooted in the pure and holy love of Christ. What a recipe for peace.

 

Lord of love, help us to stay rooted in You, the source of all that is good. Amen.

Madeline NE

PRAYER FOR THE RELUCTANT

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16)

 

My father may have been gone for several years now, but he was the sort of man who cast a long shadow.  Prior to his death in 2010, some sort of minor crisis in my life sparked the conversation, the sort I would have readily shared with my father in our weekly calls before he suffered a stroke and was confined to a nursing home.  The topic probably came up because I had run out of polite conversation sitting there beside him in that depressing setting, making me resort to relaying my problems that seemed so insignificant in comparison to his.

My father was the Mr. Fixit in our family, so, after I explained my situation I added, “I didn’t tell you because I knew there was nothing you could do.”  Ever the life coach he both schooled and humbled me by saying, “I could have prayed.”

My father may have been complex but he was also a plainspoken man and his words that day rang true.  How often do we search for the right thing to do for someone we know who is in need when the one best choice requires no money, no manpower, and very little time?  Simply to bow our heads in prayer is usually all God asks of us.  Even in our most tongue-tied way we can pray effectively.   Remember the passage in Romans 8:26 where Paul reassures us:

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Where our limited abilities leave off, the Holy Spirit is all too ready and willing to pick up our heavy load and make intercession for us.  All we have to do is swallow our pride and ask.

 

Dear Lord, 

Please grant us the wisdom to come to You first instead of using prayer as the avenue of last resort.

Amen

Carol (NC)

WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR

But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, "who is my neighbor?" Luke 10:29


"But she's not one of us. I mean, she's so different!" "I don't now I just can't relate to him. After all, he comes from another country and he has this annoying accent!" "We don't have anything in common. After all, we're of different nationalities."

Who is my neighbor? The lawyer who approached Jesus was hoping Jesus would let him off the hook. He wanted to inherit eternal life, but he wanted it on his terms; those terms being that he be allowed to love and accept those whom he chose to love and accept. Suppose we transport this scenario forward some 2000 years and one of us approaches Jesus with this question How would he reply?

We are not too likely to come across someone lying in a ditch robbed and beaten. Who,then, is Jesus asking us in our present day setting, to rescue? Who would that neighbor be?

Each new day that God graciously gives us is a new opportunity to ask him to direct us to "a neighbor in need." It will take courage to pray it, because that prayer may not be answered the way we would choose, but we can count on it being answered. A neighbor in need awaits each of us.


Lord of the universe, teach us to serve You through serving our neighbors. Amen.

Madeline (NE)

WHAT TO WEAR

Then put on the garments that suit God's chosen people, his beloved; compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience. Cl. 3:12 NEB


Our grandson who is in the army national guard often drops in to have dinner with us. It is not unusual for him to come directly from weekend drill which means he arrives in camouflage.

In the military, wearing camouflage is important. You need to blend in with your surroundings to avoid being a target of the enemy. God even dresses much of wildlife in camouflage to protect them from predators.

Paul's instructions to the Colossians church would in no way result in the wearing camouflage. Quite the opposite. They were asked to boldly wear the uniform of Christ.

In reading this scripture, I was forced to put myself in that congregation. This was not an easy time for the Christian Church. Boldly declaring their allegiance to Christ could result in persecution -- even death. Would I have had the courage?

We pray in the Lord's Prayer, "Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven." For that to happen, we must all boldly wear His uniform.


Lord, give us the courage to boldly wear the uniform of Your Kingdom. Amen.

Madeline (NE)

COUNTING STARS

Genesis 15:5-6 5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.


Many of you may be familiar with a popular song by the group OneRepublic called Counting Stars! The song is certainly a great hit for this group. I really enjoy listening to the song and singing along when I am driving in my car.

One of the lines in the song is "Said no more counting dollars we'll be counting stars".

Counting dollars is something I am very familiar with. For years I was in banking and some of that time I was a teller and spent many hours counting dollars! I became very efficient and fast doing this task! I noticed recently that the tellers now have machines that count the money for them.

I have spent only a small amount of my life counting stars, however! Yes there have been nights that I took the time to look upward and ponder the vastness of the heavenly lights but not as often as I should have probably.

It seems that life could be summed up on most days as counting dollars not counting stars. That may be a mistake on our part that causes us to miss out on God's best for us.

I believe Abraham was more focused on counting dollars than counting stars, too. His greatest concern was having a son of his own to leave his "dollars" to. Okay, so he called it his inheritance not his dollars but it is basically the same thing! A materialistic possession! Right? Right! I am glad we agree on that!!

Genesis 13:2 says: for Abram was very rich in livestock, silver, and gold. Also in Genesis 13:14-17 the LORD said to Abram, "Look as far as you can see in every direction. I am going to give all this land to you and your offspring as a permanent possession. And I am going to give you so many descendants that, like dust, they cannot be counted! Take a walk in every direction and explore the new possessions I am giving you."

Wow! A very rich man was told by God that he was going to be receiving even more! I just believe that Abraham starting "counting dollars" don't you?

Genesis chapter 14 tells us about a war that broke out in the region soon after God told Abraham about the new possessions he would be receiving. Abraham and his allies fought this war and were victorious because God helped them! They recovered all the wealth and food that had been taken by the invaders.

The next thing we see happen after the new possessions were won with God's help, is an opportunity for Abraham to tithe! He gave a tenth of all the goods he had recovered to Melchizedek and on top of that he gave the possessions he recovered back to the original owner (the king of Sodom).

In Genesis chapter 15:1-6 the LORD speaks to Abram again in a vision and said to him, "Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great." But Abram replied, O Sovereign LORD, what good are all these blessings when I don't have a son, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. You have given me no children, so one of my servants will have to be my heir."

Then the LORD said to him, "No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own to inherit everything I am giving you." Then the LORD brought Abram outside beneath the night sky and told him, "Look up into the heavens and count the stars if you can. Your descendants will be like that-too many to count!" And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD declared him righteous because of his faith.

One of the most important lessons we can learn from this story is that no matter what we have or don't have, we can still believe God. What can we believe God for? Whatever we need! Abram had money but needed a son! He believed God and kept believing and eventually he got Isaac the son of the promise that God made. (Read Genesis 21:1-7)

You may have a son or daughter already and need money to take care of them and leave an inheritance to. Okay! No problem!

Do what Abraham did! Count the stars and believe God! The stars represent the promises of God! In Philippians 4:19 God promises to meet ALL our needs. What do you need? Ask God to provide that need! Believe that he will!

A couple more things, God did not give Isaac to Abraham in an instant, so if God does not provide your need as quickly as you would like, do not stop asking or believing! Also, remember that what was given to Abraham, he gave back a tenth of it to the LORD.

Are you asking, believing, and giving a tenth of your blessings back to the LORD?

Let me leave you with the chorus of the song by OneRepublic:

Lately I been, I been losing sleep (hey!)
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I been, I been prayin' hard (hey!)
Said no more counting dollars
We'll be counting stars

Stop losing sleep!

Stop dreaming!

Start prayin' hard!

Stop counting dollars!

Count the stars! (God's promises)

Believe God!

You will receive from God what you need!

Ending Prayer:
Father in heaven,
I pray for those in need today! I pray that they will start praying and believe that you are able and willing to provide all their needs just as you did for Abraham! Whatever their need might be I pray that they would ask you for it and that you would provide it at just the right time!

Help them not to falter in their faith if the need is delayed in their eyes but believe that they will receive it right on time! Help us all to stop counting dollars and start counting stars (your promises). Help us to believe as Abraham did and give as he did also!

Thank you that your Word says that we are Abraham's descendants so we can be blessed as he was blessed. In Jesus name, Amen

Debbie (FL)

LIVING UNDER GOD'S ROOF

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! (Romans 11:33 KJV)



Why? We often ask when our circumstances become difficult, yet surely God doesn’t owe us an explanation. How many times have our earthly fathers thrown up their hands in frustration and said “Because I said so,” in response to us pestering them. The answers they could give us would be beyond the realm of our understanding, as I feel is true of the answers we seek from God.
We may not feel so as children but ultimately many of us feel our fathers are acting in our best interests. Why then is it such a stretch for us to feel the God of the Universe is too? How many times have we heard our parents say, “You’ll understand when you grow up, but for now you are under my roof and you will do as I say.” It could easily be argued that we are “under God’s roof” and as so we are obliged to obey him and show him the same deference we show our fathers. God’s discipline is fair because it is tempered with love and understanding---it is never in short supply.
While like our earthly sojourn with our families, our spiritual lives are pock marked with difficult patches, there is one major difference. At the end of our lives our issues with our parents often remain unresolved, yet God promises us a final resolution when we come into his Kingdom. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Rev. 21:4) . We cannot always depend on having our parents or other loved ones around to soothe us, but we can depend on our eternal God.


Dear Heavenly Father, Please guide us to fully embrace your role as Father and our roles as sons and daughters in order to deepen our earthly relationship with you. Amen

Carol (NC)

BROKEN PIECES

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18 (NIV)


My pastor, a former missionary, shared with me an incident that happened when she and her husband served in Nicaragua. One morning as she was in the kitchen washing dishes while the children played in the living room, a loud crash resounded, followed by a whimper. With trepidation my pastor rushed into the living room to find her beautiful teapot, a special wedding gift, shattered on the floor. Sinking to her knees, she covered her face with her hands and wept. She realized it had been an accident, but no amount of glue could mend her precious teapot.
Fourteen years ago my life was shattered when my husband passed away suddenly. We had been married twenty-seven years, and my future seemed bleak without him. I struggled through each meaningless day, then a friend told me about a bereavement group for those who have lost a spouse. I attended all eight sessions, and gradually healing began. Also, I began a ministry of writing poetry to comfort hurting people. Unlike my pastor's teapot that could not be mended, God took the broken pieces of my heart and restored my life into something beautiful.


Thank you, Lord, for healing my broken heart. Amen.

Bonnie (Me)

INTEGRATED IN JESUS

"That They May Be One, Even As We Are One" John 17:11 NASB


Hopefully, after reading this prayer of Jesus, we gain the wisdom that He desires oneness for His disciples. Bonded relationships are at the heart of the life Almighty God desires for His children. Relationships are central to finding abundant life.

A major example of this truth is that warm relationships with our family members are more important than any amount of success or prosperity. What do we have without family and, what is more important than being friends with our individual family members?

These relationships grow from the seeds of experience, both good and bad. Neglect, trauma etc. can cause a relationship to lose the ability to grow unless the frozen ground of a winter of neglect is allowed to soften by the warmth of spring's warm rays and then new life can begin.

As we grow, we share more and become vulnerable with each other. Good loving family relationships are a process, not a static thing just because we are related. In a family, we should not only love each other, we should be friends. "A man who has friends should show himself friendly." (Prov. 18:24)

When we find Spirit directed loving relationships, we find a preview of Heaven where facts, figures and details will be swallowed by the presence of God, who is love. (I John 4:8)


Dear Father, please help us to live a life that is homogenized, not pasteurized. Bless us with the power that comes from being integrated into your Son's sufficiency. Give us oneness even as you are One. Thank You, In Jesus' name, Amen."

DR. Bob (AZ)

SHINING LIGHT

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16 (NIV)


I first knew Letha as the sweet older lady who taught our small daughters’ Sunday School class. They loved her, and my husband and I appreciated her excellent teaching.

I, also, learned from her. Whenever I felt disturbed, she always had the right words to comfort me. She spoke the truth. When I needed a stern word, she challenged me.

When our teen-age son’s problems put him in jail, I decided I should not teach classes at the church anymore. After all, how can anyone who can’t handle her own child teach other children or parents how to live?

Then I learned that Letha had a son in prison—a total contrast to her godly life. I realized then that her son being in prison had not deterred her from being such an excellent teacher and counselor. What an example.

That lesson, requiring no words at all, was probably the most valuable one I ever learned from that remarkable lady.


Thank you, Lord, that we don’t have to be perfect to be shining lights in this dark world. Use us in your service. Amen.

Thought for the Day:
God can use our failures to bring about good.

Catherine (OR)

FROM WE TO ME

God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)


I’d done it again! In my hand I held a birthday card that read, "We wish you the best birthday ever."

The problem? There was no more we, only me.

After all the years of togetherness I was now alone, and the transition had been too abrupt for me to adjust. What happened to the "two become one" at our wedding? Someone to share my dreams and problems with, someone who cared what happened to me--that was a welcome adjustment.

Now there was no more waking up to a cup of coffee brought to my bedside, no plans to be discussed for the day or day’s events to be shared in the evening. The solitary meals were barely choked down, and the privacy I’d often longed for through the years of child rearing now screamed in my ears.

Yes, I still trusted God. How anyone can go through severance from a loved one not believing that God is sovereign is more than I can imagine. Though now I couldn’t share thoughts and questions about the Bible with my life-companion, I was spending more time in prayer and reading scripture than before. Comfort, purpose for tomorrow, any strength I had came from God’s Word.

I looked again at the card in my hand. We? Then I realized I was not alone. When I accepted Christ into my life He and I became one in spirit, and His living within me will never cease. He promised me he’d never leave me or forsake me. I won’t ever have to face the devastation of losing my spiritual husband from desertion or death.

I’m still part of "we."


Lord, help us to remember You are always with us. In busy days or quiet, crowded rooms or solitary, may we really know Your presence and never-ending love.

 SHIRLEY (CA)

THE LITMUS TEST

Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We shall know by this that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before Him, in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. 1 John 3:18-22 (The New American Standard Bible)


I was pawing through a drawer in the mineralogy lab recently while looking for something and discovered a bottle of small strips of purple paper. The label said they were pieces of litmus paper, an absorbent paper impregnated with a purple dye sensitive to the presence of acids. If a paper strip is dipped into a liquid and it turns pink, the solution has acidic properties. If it remains purple, the liquid does not contain acids.

It seems to me the heart of a Christian is like a piece of litmus paper. Once it has absorbed the litmus of the Holy Spirit of God, when dipped into the circumstances of life that surround us each day, it is capable of reacting by condemning or giving assurance to the character of those surroundings. Without the litmus, it merely absorbs all without regard to quality or character - a sure formula for adverse reactions and conflicts.

So for all who go about “dipping” into the circumstances of life, I pray that you will listen to the Spirit of God in your heart.


Father grant us the courage to acknowledge our litmus paper hearts, and to react to its assurance and/or condemnation in whatsoever circumstances we find ourselves. Amen.

 

DON (NY)

GODS PLANS FOR YOU

"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)


My mother-in-law's father died when he was quite young, leaving her mother with five children under the age of ten. Providing for five children during the Great Depression was more than she could manage. She placed the two oldest girls in an orphanage.

Now that Mrs. Martha is eighty-nine, she talks mostly about those years spent in the orphanage. The superintendent was a Godly man who took his responsibilities seriously. He soon realized that young Martha was gifted in music and arranged for her to take piano lessons. She mastered the piano and the coronet and was offered a music scholarship.

However, there was someone else in the picture by the time she graduated. The superintendent had a brother attending the university, who came to visit the orphanage frequently. He and Martha fell in love and were married soon after graduation.

While it makes her sad to remember how much she missed her family, she realizes that God had a plan for her life. At the orphanage, she learned all the skills needed to maintain a Christian home and to be a good wife and mother. The most remarkable thing is that she met the love of her life there, a man who loved and cherished her as long as he lived. She understands now that God was busy working out the plans He had for her life. What seemed like a bad situation turned out to be a wonderful thing.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the plans you have for us. Help us to trust you completely, knowing the plans you have for us are far better than anything we can imagine. Amen.

Ann (NC)

LIVING WITH EITHER RICHES OR POVERTY

"Woe to you who are rich for you are receiving your comfort in full" Luke 6:24 NASB


Recently, my wife and I were celebrating our anniversary at a luxurious resort. We had been surprised by receiving an upgrade to the over the top Grand Mayan section. 

As I was standing on our fourth floor balcony looking over the valley, that the Resort owns, and looking at the several mile private beach that we had to enjoy, I was troubled by today's verse.

I didn't want to be a comfort zone Christian. I wanted to live a spiritual life, not a materialistic one. I wondered whether we should get in our car and run from luxury. I had to find balance that would grow from the words of the Word. Calming down, I remembered that Paul had said that he had learned to be "content" whether he "abounded " or was in "need". (Phil. 4:11-12)

Perhaps the word "content" is the most important word in understanding prosperity or poverty

Being thankful for and content in our relationship with Jesus we can accept and be thankful for whatever our Father chooses to give us. Truly, our Father knows best. I realized that humble thankfulness cancels pride, jealousy, and being fooled by materialism. I thought of: "Thou does not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it . . . The sacrifices of God are a broken heart, O God, Thou will not despise." (Ps. 51:16-17)


Help us Father to not be either fooled by the schemes of the devil or by a spirit of ingratitude. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Dr Bob (AZ)

DON'T STUMBLE OVER JESUS

"Blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over Me" Luke 7:23 (NASB)


While practicing my new mission from God, I was stopped in my figurative tracts by todays verse.

Last month, The Lord laid on my tired heart that I needed to hear what Jesus says without feeling that I always had to study and understand the contextual items first. He wanted my heart and mind to open up in tender love to my dear Lord and hear what He had to say. This became my new mission from God-to listen to Jesus.

All that searching for the correct background and accurate details had been wearing me out as I tried to write yet another article. I needed Jesus. So, I yielded to the Holy Spirit to comfort me and teach me what Jesus meant. I needed wisdom, not more knowledge. I needed to understand what He was saying, not just hear the words He was saying. My red-letter edition Bible became my friend.

I was promised to be blessed if I didn't stumble over Jesus. What did that mean? Romans 9:32-33 answered my question when it said: "See I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble, a rock that that makes them fall and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame." (NIV)

Finally, I understood that if I trust Him, He will not be an offending rock, rather the foundation of a life of blessing. 


Dear Lord we understand there will be no stubbing of our toes because, You are no disappointment. You are our shepherd. You are in charge. Thank You.

Dr Bob (AZ)

A RED - VERSE BIBLE

"If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love." John 15:10


Feeling barren inside while I was writing yet another article, I had to find relief. Leaving my office, I walked over to a sitting room which has big stuffed chairs. Needing any chair that wasn't my office chair, I sat and allowed the plump cushions to comfort me. I bowed my head and went to the Lord as I was weak and burdened. All I wanted was what He had to say.

After a period of resting in His arms, it came to me that a red-letter edition of the Bible was what I needed. I wanted my child-like trusting relationship with Jesus back. Remembering Jesus' opinion of children given in Matthew 18:3-4, I felt I was on the right track. I needed to relax in His arms.

I found what I had found as a frightened 18 year old boy. Going away to a Christian College far away from home, I held onto Matthew 6:33 that told me that if I would seek first His kingdom, all I needed and more would be given to me. This has been a life verse, and I testify now as an old man to its truth.

Red-letter editions of the Bible find the words of Jesus and bring the light of a new day. Read with me and hear what Jesus has to say.


Dear Lord. all we really need is You, for what do we have without You? Warm our hearts to seek Your words that we might find Your peace that passes understanding. Thank You. Amen and Amen.

Dr Bob (AZ)

DO WHATEVER HE TELLS YOU

His mother said to the servants, "do whatever He tells you." John 2:5 NIV


More times than I care to admit, I have plunged ahead in an extremely challenging situation without taking time to ask for God's help. Then, when my frustration reaches its limit, I will usually come whining to God for help. When I do, I won't get my guidance in so many words as the servants in our story did. Bit it is amazing how much smoother my day goes from that point forward.

Perhaps a number of people had crashed the wedding party Jesus and his mother were attending. Or perhaps the host had miscalculated in his preparations for the wedding meal. At any rate, there was a culinary crisis. They had run out of wine.

Jesus had not yet revealed his identity. No one knew Him as the Son of God. They had an excuse for not turning to him for help. But when Mary said, "do what He tells you," they did it. 

I cringe when I read this scripture. The servants in our story did not know who Jesus was. I do Each time I open the scriptures, each time I hear the scriptures read or listen to a sermon, I am reminded that our Lord desperately wants to be there for me. He longs to empower me in all that I do. All I need to do is ask. And then "do whatever He tells me."


Lord, forgive us for ever thinking we do not need you every moment of every day. And thank you for wanting to be there for us. Amen.

MADELINE (NE)

SELF-LOVE CONTRASTED WITH GOD'S LOVE

"Men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money . . . unloving . . . lovers of pleasure instead of God. Holding to a form of godliness . . . " (II Timothy 3: 1-5) NASB vs. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son." (John 3:16)


Several years ago, when I was still practicing, many books were written upon the subject of loving yourself. Interestingly, II Timothy 3 says that this self-love is one of the signs of the end times.

Today this self-love approach is accepted by most professional counselors as an axiom (a foundational truth).

During this period, I can't remember ever hearing that loving yourself can be related to becoming unloving. I found that if a person stresses loving themselves before others, they easily lose focus on the needs of others, and the vulnerable trust that has been freely given (a person's children fall into this category). And, the divorce rate soared. Often, people were sorry later that they had sought their own comfort and pleasure first.

This "me first" is a deception that is one of the devil's "schemes" (Eph.6:11) as a Christian, that strays from selfless love (which John 3:16 tells us is essential godly love), begins to slide on a slippery slope leading into a toxic sea..

Lovers of themselves are lovers who are "unloving" as the love they give is primarily sell-centered. This does not surprise experienced adults, and it certainly does not surprise Almighty God.


Dear Father, please help me to be a channel of Your love in 2016. Everyday, let me practice and tell about the Christmas love You demonstrated so long ago. Work in my heart that I may have a constant desire to tell everyone about the living words of John 3:16. Thank You, in Jesus' name amen.

Dr. Bob (AZ)