How Precious?

 

Bible Verse:
Psalm 139:17-18a - How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand. (KJV)

Text:
Earlier in life, my thoughts were taken up with others, especially in caring for my husband and children, as well as the many other family, household, and church needs and duties I wanted to fulfill. For the most part, I felt I did a reasonable job of caring for and thinking about the people in my life. Now, however, I've become increasingly grateful for the knowledge of how much more God's thoughts are taken up with caring for us.

King David, through the Psalms, gives us great insight into God's heart and His thoughts toward us.

Psalm 139:17-18a - How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand. (KJV)

How precious indeed! How consoling to us as children of God is it that His thoughts are always turned towards us? From time to time, as human beings, we may become distracted from thinking of those we love, but our God does not become distracted from thinking about us -- no, not ever. Is this revelation as precious to us as David found it to be?

Despite any of our human, distracted wanderings, we can never wander beyond our beautiful, diligent, caring Shepherd's eye. Through our sorrows, He observes us incessantly, and not one tear escapes Him. Through our toils, He marks our struggles. Not one vessel or valve, nerve or tissue of our beings is uncared for.

If this is precious to us, let us hold on to it through all we speak and through all we do. Let us be determined not to be robbed of the truth and knowledge that we are always in the thoughts, sight, and care of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.




















Ending Prayer:
Prayer: Wonderful, ever-thoughtful, all-seeing Lord, again we come with our grateful thanksgiving for Who You are and all You do, and for Your boundless, eternal, and loving grace in every detail of our lives. Thank You, in the sweetest name we know -- the name of Jesus! Amen and Amen!

Rosemary , Westbury Victoria , Australia

THE AWFUL INGRATITUDE OF THE SINNER

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

"And they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love."--Psalm cix. 5.

 

David was the type of Christ, and it was common for him to write Psalms in which there was manifestly much reference to the Messiah. The spirit of prophecy within him speaks many things, in these Psalms, particularly applicable to himself as the type of Christ, but applicable also to Christ himself; and in this case he speaks both of himself and of Christ. Some portions of the Psalms are quoted by the New Testament writers as having been spoken of Christ; and this passage is evidently of the same character. In proceeding to discuss this subject I shall,

 

Read More

Read the Directions

Psalm 119: 105 Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. (KJV)

A few nights ago, it happened again. I've had this problem for years, but it always frustrates me, costing me time, effort, wear and tear on my car,and what little self esteem I have left after an episode. I call it "total directional impairment"- I can get lost just about anywhere!

The most frustrating part of this problem is the fact that, most of the time, it's largely my own fault. I'm lost because I didn't take time to look at a map, read directions, or ask for help. A recent blunder landed me in Hartville(at night,of course) and added about an hour of travel to what should have been a 15 minute trip. All of this could have been avoided if I'd looked at the neat, detailed map I was given, but, no, not me; I "knew" where I was going. Maybe someday, I'll learn!

How many times do we, as God's children, ignore the directions and wisdom He wants to give us? Because of sinful, foolish pride, we think that we don't need His help. Time after time, we los e our way, but He's always there, ready and willing to restore and forgive us as He gently says, "Here, my child. Read the directions".

Father,
Thank You for always being there, ready and willing to forgive, help, heal, and restore us when we lose our way. Help us to be willing to trust, follow, and obey Your directions.


By Dorsee; Canton, OH

He is Always Faithful

Restore to me the joy of your salvation… Psalm 51:12 (NIV)

I was deathly ill as a result of surgery for an abscess after my sigmoid colon was removed. Shortly after the surgery I experienced a two-week state of delirium. Just the devastating nightmares were extremely frightening. Returning home from a month in the hospital, I couldn’t feel the presence of God like I was used to. I felt so desolate and lonely without Him, while at the same time blaming him for this time of darkness. Anger over what I considered God’s betrayal plagued my thoughts. Expressing my concerns to a wise friend, he advised me not to force a quiet time or prayer. He said that God was showing me Himself in the avalanche of cards, phone calls, meals and sustaining visits from my many friends. Soon, with this new insight, I began to feel comforted that God had not abandoned me. Out of that peace, I decided to just wait for Him to restore me to the “joy of my salvation.” Gradually, He melted my heart with the graciousness of His presence. There are times we can’t reach Him for some reason or the other. However, we can trust Him through His incomprehensible love to seek us out. As we abandon ourselves to Him just as we are, He will be faithful to restore the relationship.

When I feel cut off from you, let me wait on your faithfulness to reveal yourself to me.

By Jackie (Tennessee, USA)

“The Mending Fence"

"How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity!" Psalm 133:1 (NIV)


Fences connect people or shut them out. My neighbor, Mary, was a
connector. She was thirty years older than me, yet her energy
exceeded mine. Sometimes I sat on my patio, vegetating after an
exhausting day with my three young children. "Come on over, dear! We've got fresh corn on the cob!"

Mary was always inviting me over for some special treat or dessert.
I enjoyed visiting with her but I also craved solitude. One day
frustration reigned. I sent her a letter requesting that she leave
me alone at certain hours. I began to grow a lilac bush to block her
view of me on my patio so that she might miss my seclusion.
Then on May 17, 1980, a titanic calamity struck the US's Pacific
Northwest. Mount St. Helens erupted in southwest Washington
State. Tons of ash plumed up into the atmosphere. Winds drove its
bulk towards us in the Inland Northwest. Car engines burned up from
the suffocating volcanic cinders as the drivers attempted to reach
safety. The ash piled twelve inches high in places.

I woke the next morning to an eerie moonscape of gray. My eyes moved
across our backyard to one lovely object that cheerfully contrasted
with its dismal background. One pink Poppy had bloomed overnight
after the ash settled. Its pretty petals draped gracefully near the
white picket fence in the exact place where Mary and I would often
visit. God speaks through His creation. On that morning He spoke to
me. "Where you and Mary visit is precious to me. Banish your love of
privacy. Someday Mary will be gone and you will miss her."
Mary is gone now. This dear saint who led me to Christ is now with
Him in heaven, but the lesson of the pink poppy stays with me.


Prayer: Lord, strengthen us to be generous in spending our free time with
others. Help us not cave in to self-absorption because we build your
church by using available moments to encourage one another.


By Merilee, USA

THE REWARD OF FERVENT PRAYER

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

"Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it."--PSALM. lxxxi. 10.

These words were addressed by God to the Church. There is nothing in the connexion in which they are found that particularly demands explanation. I would, therefore, proceed at once to say, that this promise and injunction being addressed to the Church, was also, of course, addressed to individual Christians. Whenever a promise or an injunction is applicable to the Church, it is also applicable to each individual composing that Church. This reveals to us the principle on which God deals with his people; the spirit, then, of what is here written is ever more true. In briefly considering this subject, I propose to inquire,

I. WHAT THIS LANGUAGE MEANS?

II. WHAT IT IMPLIES?

III. WHAT IS ITS RELATION TO OUR RESPONSIBILITIES?

Read More

The Last Breath

"You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and
clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever."
Psalm 30:11-12 (NIV)


Sally's mother had cancer, enough to shrivel her petite frame down to
sixty-five pounds. Sally went to visit her mother in their native
Kansas. By now the cancer had made her mother deaf. "Mother,
read these cards out loud to me," Sally mouthed as she held up a
series of index cards with the gospel message of salvation printed on
them. Her mother dutifully read the cards, one by one, until Sally
held up the one that read, "...for I am a sinner." Sally's mother
stopped reading and insisted, "Sally, I am not a sinner!" Sally left, greatly discouraged. Her mother's end appeared soon, yet she still had not accepted Christ. Her misunderstanding of sin and her need to repent were formidable roadblocks to her conversion.

Several months later Sally's relatives called and said, "if you want
to see your mother alive, you'd better come now." Sally flew out
from her home in California to the little farmhouse that her
immigrant French mother had lived in for most of her adult life.
When Sally arrived her mother was comatose. Sally pulled her
child-sized mother upright on her bed, "Mother!" she said through
gritted teeth. "You are not going to die without knowing Jesus!"
She laid her tiny frame back down and began to pray loudly as she
held on to the rim of heaven.

Sally prayed all night. The next morning she was singing the simple refrain called, "Alleluia." That is when her mother woke up. She sat up, looked at Sally and exclaimed in her broken English, "Sally, sing alleluia! Sing! Jesus
in room with me!" Tears of joy trailed down her mother's shrunken
cheeks. Then she smiled wondrously, laid back down on her pillow and
died. "Don't stop praying for your loved ones," Sally exhorted
us at a women's retreat I attended. "Don't stop praying until they
take their last breath!"


Prayer: Lord, please give us perseverance in prayer as we look longingly to see Your hand at work in those we treasure. Amen.


By Merilee (Washington, USA)

My Heart Dances

Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp. Psalm 149:3 (NIV)

Text:
I can’t dance. I found that out for sure when at 42 I went back to college and took ballroom dancing for physical education. My husband had told me that I didn’t have any rhythm and I wanted to prove him wrong. This was a bad idea from the beginning. I was horribly humiliated! Most of my partners were eighteen-year-old boys who could dance effortlessly. I couldn’t even figure out where to put my feet. I think I got a “B” in the course because the instructor took pity on me. Oh well, I know I’m good at one kind of dancing though, and that’s dancing in my heart before the Lord. An example is last week while walking at my favorite park, The Cove. The park was resplendent with its surrounding crystal-clear lake, ducks, geese, blue herons, squirrels, a canopy of rustling trees overhead, and children delightfully laughing. My heart danced. I thought about my beloved husband, children and grandchildren who give me much joy and my heart danced. Then I thought about all my supportive, fun-loving friends and my heart continued to dance. But, best of all, I thought about my Lord. Just the thought of his name causes my heart to dance; after all, He is the Lord of the dance.

Ending Prayer:
Thank you for those delightful times when we dance in our hearts, lavished with your love. Amen

By Jackie  ( Tennessee,USA )

A God Encounter

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

There are no words to fully describe those moments when we truly connect with God. When something deep inside yearns so bad we desperately reach up through that open window to heaven and lock hands with our Creator. These are the delightful moments for which I live. One morning, as I sat writing my thanks to God in a journal, His Holy Spirit came upon me. His still small voice whispered, “Be still and know that I am God.” I laid my pen down and focused on Abba Father. Almighty God is so great, so powerful, so big, and yet so gentle and full of compassion. His Holy Spirit totally consumed me. The radiance of His glory warmed my face. A sweet smelling aroma filled the room. His Spirit lovingly held my inner being, imparting His love, power and life. He filled me with a profound sense of peace. I felt like a young child as I frolicked in the pure joy of His Presence. His tender touch healed my hurts and refreshed my weary soul. He silently filled my broken places with His s trength and made me whole. I fell to my knees and wept because of God’s amazing grace and His goodness. I will never be the same again.

I pray that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19, NKJ). May you be still and seek intimate encounters with our heavenly Father everyday. Amen.

By Jacqueline (California, USA)

He is Always Faithful

Bible Verse:
Restore to me the joy of your salvation… Psalm 51:12 (NIV)

Text:
I was deathly ill as a result of surgery for an abscess after my sigmoid colon was removed. Shortly after the surgery I experienced a two-week state of delirium. Just the devastating nightmares were extremely frightening. Returning home from a month in the hospital, I couldn’t feel the presence of God like I was used to. I felt so desolate and lonely without Him, while at the same time blaming him for this time of darkness. Anger over what I considered God’s betrayal plagued my thoughts. Expressing my concerns to a wise friend, he advised me not to force a quiet time or prayer. He said that God was showing me Himself in the avalanche of cards, phone calls, meals and sustaining visits from my many friends. Soon, with this new insight, I began to feel comforted that God had not abandoned me. Out of that peace, I decided to just wait for Him to restore me to the “joy of my salvation.” Gradually, He melted my heart with the graciousness of His presence. There are times we can’t reach Him for some reason or the other. However, we can trust Him through His incomprehensible love to seek us out. As we abandon ourselves to Him just as we are, He will be faithful to restore the relationship.

Ending Prayer:
When I feel cut off from you, let me wait on your faithfulness to reveal yourself to me.

By Carol  N. Carolina, USA

 

Caring Community

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. Psalm 133:1 (KJV)

I frequently take a holiday in our Victorian Salt Lakes area, and of course, thousands of our beautiful, gliding, diving, begging, flurrying, friendly white pelicans make their home there; I mean literally everywhere. When a school of fish appears, a group of white pelicans will form a semi-circle on the water. Then they begin to swim in unison to the shore flurrying their wings and driving the fish into the shallows. Using their pouches like a net; they scoop up the food, drain off the water, and swallow down the fish. A super efficient working principle we can all use, I’m sure you’ll agree. Though awkward on land, they are supremely graceful on the water, and in the air. Their skeletal frame is full of buoyant air. A network of air sacs under its skin, aids its graceful flight as well. In addition, they fly in united, efficient formation, sometimes in a v-shape, each bird slightly ahead, of the one alongside. Masters of the air, they use thermals to soar upward int o the wind, cruising at altitudes up to 980 feet, beating their wings in perfect time together, creating a wonderful sight. May we as Christians learn the invaluable lesson of the co-operation of these birds?

Loving Father, thank you for all of Your blessed and pleasurable creation from which, through Your Holy Spirit, we can learn the many principles recorded in Your Word. In much gratitude, I praise You in Jesus’ lovely Name. Amen and Amen.

By Rosemary (Westbury, Victoria, Australia)

I love the Lord, He heard my…celebration?

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. Psalms 136:1

Evenings are for television, time with spouse and children, and reflection! I no longer sit deep in thought about what tomorrow may bring, I have learned to reflect on today. How do you define your day? How do you determine whether it was a good day or a bad day? Here’s how I do it. I thank God for every day He gives me. It has not been perfect, but I wasn’t promised perfection here. God has blessed me richly and I am thankful. I woke up this morning; He woke me up this morning. I did a quick inventory check, and I was able to move my arms and my legs. I had clothes in the closet and some food in the refrigerator. I drove accident free, to and from work. I am thankful that work didn’t consume, that challenges didn’t deter me, that other challenges don’t define me. I am a child of the King! I have peace of mind, and of spirit, something that I wouldn’t trade for all the gold in the world. I don’t spend time enviously looking for what I don’t have, or what you do. I don’t let 5 or 10 minutes define my entire day. I don’t spend time thinking about what I “deserve”, what I want, what I “should have.” God has blessed me to celebrate life daily. God has blessed me to celebrate the resurrection of His son; daily. Tonight; don’t pray asking for more, pray thanking God for what He has already given. Thank God for His endless blessings. Thank God for what He did that you did not see. Thank God for being the watchman that kept you safe all through the night, and all through the day. O Give Thanks; To The Lord!!

Heavenly Father, thank you for your many blessings, both seen and unseen. Thank you for blessing me, with blessings both seen and unseen. Thank you for life, for abundant life, for spiritual health, and for a mind to serve you. Thank You for blessing me faithfully, and I pray that you would continue to watch over me and keep me safe. In Jesus' name: AMEN

By  Stephen (Michigan, USA)

Are You Sure

Bible Verse:
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us. Psalms 103:12 (KJV).

Text:
I was enjoying a cup of cinnamon herbal tea with honey at an outside table at Pike’s Perk, which is located in downtown Colorado Springs. I sipped my hot tea and looked in my purse for a pen and paper when I heard a quiet voice say, “Can you help me with some change for some food?” I looked up to see a middle-aged man with disheveled hair and worn clothing. He held out his hand exposing a nickel and some pennies and told me he had only raised eleven cents that morning. I reached into my wallet to get money and held out two one-dollar bills for him. Instead of just taking the money, he asked me, “Are you sure?” I assured him I was and he took the money, informing me that he was on his way to a Carl’s Jr. fast food restaurant. I thought about the man, and his hesitation to take the money was endearing to me.

I think many of us, when we believe that Jesus, the Son of God, died in our place and that His sacrifice provides for the forgiveness of our past, present, and future sins, it is so wondrous that we often ask of God, “Are you sure?” And as we grow in our relationship with the Lord and he reveals the many benefits that we inherit as the children of God, we continue to wonder if God is sure about all of this! I think our marvel about God’s surety of our position in Christ is often endearing to him. But I don’t think it is endearing to God after He paid the price for the forgiveness of our sins if we do not receive that forgiveness. Some Christians do not fully accept God’s gracious gift of forgiveness. They continually beat themselves up for failures and they live in a state of guilt. God has assured us that our sins are forgiven if we are in Christ. In Hebrews 8:12 our Father states, regarding the new covenant, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more (KJV). As Christians, we can be sure our confessed sins are forgiven and forgotten!

Ending Prayer:
Thank-you, God, for your Son, Jesus, and His sacrifice that paid the price for our sins.

By Julie   Colorada, USA

PURITY OF HEART AND LIFE

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

"I will wash mine hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O Lord."--PS. xxvi. 6.

 

In remarking upon those words, I propose to inquire--

I. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN THE RESOLUTION OF THE PSALMIST?

II. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN KEEPING THAT RESOLUTION?

III. I SHALL SHOW, THAT BOTH THE RESOLUTION AND THE KEEPING IT ARE INDISPENSABLE CONDITIONS OF ACCEPTANCE WITH GOD.

Read More

PRAYER FOR A PURE HEART

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." --Ps. 51:10

 

The term rendered "right" in this passage is in the margin, constant, and this seems to be its precise meaning. A constant, stedfast spirit, as opposed to the fickle and unstable state in which he had so sadly fallen before temptation, was the thing he now desired and sought in earnest prayer.

In discussing the subject brought before us in this passage, I shall,

I. SHOW WHAT THIS PETITION REALLY MEANS.

II. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN OFFERING IT ACCEPTABLY.

Read More

Faith that Remembers

They quickly forgot His works; they did not wait for His counsel. Psalm 106:13 (NASB)

What if God miraculously provided you with all of your food and drink, your clothes never wore out, and if anyone annoyed you they soon transferred to another department or moved out of the neighborhood? And then God promised that your future would be filled with wonderful abundance. You would think that you would sneer at any temptation, persevere through any hardship, and always stay faithful to God. 

This was essentially what Israel experienced in the Exodus. So what was their response? They complained that the food was not good enough and that the leadership was getting all of the perks. They rebelled and created a golden calf and danced around it like it was their god. Why? Their faith lacked endurance. They judged God on their current situation and if it was not to their liking then they would yell, “Let’s go back!” Their faith had short-term memory; it was based only on how well the current circumstances were going. 

Out of around 2.5 million people only two men proved to reverence and trust God: Joshua and Caleb. The essence of their report was in Numbers 14:9, “… the Lord is with us; do not fear…” Too many of us are like the 2.5 million. We are like the child who screams “You don’t love me” because she did not get a pony for Christmas. God wants us, instead, to be like Joshua and Caleb. They remembered how good God is. Faith endures when it remembers.

God, when I am pressed in on every side may I recall your goodness to me. Amen.

Seek Refuge

He will cover you with his feathers and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4 (NIV)

As I walked to my car after a particularly difficult meeting, I noticed a family of Canada geese, a mom and pop with their five little chicks grazing on the grass near a small lake. Drawn to their simplicity and beauty, I sat down to watch. It was a welcome distraction from the discouragement I felt. But I also noticed another pair of white geese slowly making their way towards the babies. Suddenly, without warning, one of the white geese lashed out. Its neck outstretched, it pecked then chased the chicks. And then poetry happened. It was Mom and Pop to the rescue. Pop chased the white geese, flapping his wings and honking something fierce, as if to say, “How dare you mess with my kids!” Meanwhile, Mom gathered her chicks. When the white geese were a safe distance away, Pop joined Mom, and together, they stretched their wings out over their children. Their babies were safe and protected from further assault.

I was in awe as Psalm 91 played out in front of me. God gave me a snapshot of his incredible love for his children. Over the years, through a job loss, car accident and difficult relationships, this picture has come back to my mind many times. I’m reminded that God is never far away, and no matter what life throws at His children, no matter how discouraged or attacked we feel, He provides a shelter, a place of refuge from the scourges of life.

Father, thank you for your wings of refuge. Help us to trust you and remember to run to you when life gets overwhelming. Amen.

The One Who Hides

You are my hiding place. You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7 (NIV)

I have never experienced God's hiding power more than when I taught English as a Christian teacher in a restricted country in 1994. Some evenings the school where I taught held conversational English chats in the courtyard outside. The school's headmaster poked his head into our group of seven to make sure we were discussing secular matters; nothing religious could be discussed.

"Do you know the Lord?" a student in my group quietly asked me after the headmaster left to monitor another group.

"Oh yes!" I exclaimed.

"Do you talk to Him when you are afraid?" She almost whispered the question as she watched the monitors moving from group to group.

"Oh, yes!" I cried, thrilled to discover that my entire group of young women were Christian. They shared how they were part of an underground church that had no Bibles. They began earnestly pleading with me to send them Bibles. I promised I would. As we talked, I sensed an electrifying, warm, and impregnable presence surrounding our group. These English teachers could have lost their jobs permanently if a monitor had discovered what we were really talking about, yet I never felt safer. God had enclosed us with a heavenly guard. He had hidden our words from nearby eavesdroppers so that my students' desperate need for His word might become known.

Are you facing danger or risk today? God's power to conceal you from harm holds no limit. Trust Him to completely shield you from evildoers.

Jesus, please strengthen our faith daily to believe that You will defend us and hide us as needed so that Your ways may be known on earth. Amen.