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A Parable of Good News

Once there was a man who visited every bank, savings and loan, and business in the world and made arrangements to pay all the debts of all the people who owed anything.  This information was made public, and some people took advantage by ceasing to struggle to pay their debts and just acting as if they owed nothing.  Some of those who were thus relieved of debt told their friends and family members. Some even told strangers they met this good news.  However, others said nothing to anyone.  They knew they had neighbors and friends who were weighed down with debt, but they didn't think it was any of their business to interfere.  Eventually many people who had accepted this freedom from debt got together with others who also were now debt-free.  They met weekly to talk about their new freedom and celebrate it.  On very rare occasions debt-ridden people found their way into these meetings and discovered how to be debt-free.A few of those who were freed from debt felt strongly that the…

Scripture Impetus for Prayer and Worship

It seems that anything we do over a long period of time can become tedious and stale.  That is true even with personal devotions.  Anyone who denies ever going through a "dry" period in their devotional life, would probably lie about other things as well.  Recently I was reminded of the benefit of praying from scripture.  Prayer that springs FROM Scripture is a bit different from praying Scripture.  It means that the Scripture you read provokes prayer that may even take a different direction. The video specifically mentioned using the Psalms and  epistles as a springboard for praying.  As I thought about this, I realized that we can actually do that with every book of the Bible. Then I also realized that using the Scriptures is a great way to freshen my praise and worship (that phrase includes more than just music).
For example, take a look at Genesis 1:1  "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."  That sentence alone could lead you to praise God fo…

Kick Back, Look Up and THINK!

Have you noticed that there are few great "thinkers" in America today?  It seems that we put a premium on doing and not on thinking.  I heard a story once of a person who was being shown around a great business that occupied a skyscraper in a major city.  It seemed that on every floor and in every office people were scurrying around or pounding at computer keyboards or locked in intense discussions during meetings.  As they passed one office with the door slightly open, the guest noticed a man leaning back in his chair, with his feet propped on his desk, gazing out the window.  He couldn't help but ask why this would be allowed in the midst of such frenetic activity.  In answer, his guide said, "Oh, that is Mr. "So and So".  He is thinking.  One day when he was doing that he came up with an idea that has made the company twenty million dollars, so no one bothers him when he is thinking."
God gave us minds.  He intends for us to use them.  When we do He…

Jesus: Neither Hurried nor Harried

One of the unique things about Jesus is that He was never in too big a hurry to deal with interruptions.  On His way to heal a child who was dying, He stopped to find out who in a pressing crowd touched Him.  In the midst of what we would call a revival in Capernaum, He disappeared to pray alone and then moved on to another town with His message.  After feeding a great crowd of 5K men (probably 15K counting women and children) He went up on the mountain to pray.
Knowing that His time on earth was limited, He stuck to the main purpose for His being here in the first place.  He announced this purpose in the synagogue in Nazareth, His hometown by quoting from Isa 61.  He said, "The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." (Luke 4:18-19)On another occasion He said "For…

Don't Give Up

Recently I've been reminded that answers to prayer are worth the wait.  For almost 6 years we have been praying at Faith Baptist Church for God to send us some young families.  In the past two weeks He has sent us two such families.  We have also had a relative of mine by marriage on the "spiritual needs" prayer list.  On Easter Sunday he professed his faith in Christ.  Too often we tend to want to see answers yesterday to prayers we prayed today.  I'm reminded that God's timing is perfect, but mine isn't.
This has given me encouragement in prayer.  When I pray for those people or things that God brings to my attention, I can be assured of an answer...in His time.  My BIG prayer now is for Spiritual Awakening in America.  I don't care where it starts or whom God uses to bring it to pass...I just want to see it happen.  The first two "Great Awakenings" in America were each born through prayer.  I believe this next one will also come through praye…

Start a New Morning Routine

A lot is being written by productivity experts about developing morning routines to help you optimize your time.  I'd like to "piggy-back" on that idea with a suggestion for a morning routine that will revolutionize your life.  Even if you are not a "morning person" you can do this.  We usually plan for the important events & appointments in our lives.  Here is a plan to begin a routine Time Alone with God every morning.

Start the night before.  Place your Bible, notebook, devotional guide and a pen near the chair where you will meet with God.  (If you use your phone or tablet, make sure that it is charged up and ready)Go to bed at an hour that will allow you to get the optimum number of sleep hours.If you are not one who spontaneously wakes up, set your clock or phone to awaken you at the desired time.  (Don't hit "snooze")When you wake up, get up.  Tend to the necessary things (bathroom, brush teeth, start the coffee, etc.)Go directly to your…

Things Are Not Always What they Seem

Many times we interpret our circumstances through the lens of our past experience or our expectations.  I was reminded today that my interpretations are not fool-proof.  A couple of weeks ago I had a little A-Fib episode which entailed a trip to the ER, several tests and an overnight stay at the hospital.  With the exception of a few minutes that prompted the visit to the ER, I felt fine.  A day after getting out of the hospital I was back in the office; played golf on Saturday and preached twice on Sunday.  Today I went for a scheduled stress test that I was told would take about 4 hours.  Most of the other people in the waiting area went through the first segment of their test and were told to go eat something, drink some caffeine and return for the balance of the test.  When I finished my first segment, they told me that I was done for the day.  The only discomfort I felt was being mildly out of breath for a few moments.  I left thinking, "Boy, I aced this test."  About a…

Learn to Pray "Chain Prayers"

Recently, as I was thanking God for my bowl of cereal, I was reminded to thank Him for the farmer who prepared the land, planted the seed and tended the grain and then harvested the crop.  Then I was prompted to pray for the people who prepared the grain into cereal and the those who packaged it, those who transported it to market, those who stocked the shelves so that I could purchase the cereal.  That led to me giving thanks for the finances that enabled me to buy the food I need.  Before long, my "blessing" on my breakfast turned into an intercessory prayer session.  I didn't have to use a prayer list or a notebook.  I just allowed Holy Spirit to guide as one prayer led to another.
That experience has helped me understand Paul's admonition to "pray without ceasing".  It has also made my prayer time more exciting because I know I'm praying for those people and those things that Holy Spirit brings to mind.
Some time ago I told one of my granddaughters …