Archive for Lord

Passing these along…

Posted in faith, Prayer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 2010/10/22 by NY4JB

I didn’t write these but they are worth passing along…

A member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going. After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit him.  It was a chilly evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire. Guessing the reason for his pastor’s visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited.  The pastor made himself at home but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs. After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone then he sat back in his chair, still silent.  The host watched all this in quiet contemplation. As the one lone ember’s flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and dead.  Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting. The pastor glanced at his watch and realized it was time to leave. He slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow, once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.  As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said with a tear running down his cheek, “Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I will be back in church…”

And

A woman’s daughter had asked the local minister to come and pray with her mother. When the minister arrived, he found the woman lying in bed with her head propped up on two pillows. An empty chair sat beside her bed. The minister assumed that the woman had been informed of his visit… ‘I guess you were expecting me, he said.

‘No, who are you?’ said the mother.

The minister told her his name and then remarked, ‘I saw the empty chair and I figured you knew I was going to show up…’

‘Oh yeah, the chair,’ said the bedridden woman ‘Would you mind closing the door?’

Puzzled, the minister shut the door.

‘I have never told anyone this, not even my daughter,’ said the woman. ‘But all of my life I have never known how to pray. At church I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it went right over my head…’ I abandoned any attempt at prayer,’ the old woman continued, ‘ until one day four years ago, my best friend said to me, ‘ Prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus. Here is what I suggest; sit down in a chair; place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see Jesus on the chair. It’s not spooky because he promised, ‘I will be with you always’.  ‘Then just speak to him in the same way you’re doing with me right now.’  So, I tried it and I’ve liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I’m careful though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she’d either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm.’ 

The minister was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the old woman to continue on the journey.  Then he prayed with her, anointed her with oil, and returned to the church. Two nights later the daughter called to tell the minister that her mama had died that afternoon. Did she die in peace?’ he asked. Yes, when I left the house about two o’clock, she called me over to her bedside, told me she loved me and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back from the store an hour later, I found her. But there was something strange about her death. Apparently, just before Mom died, she leaned over and rested her head on the chair beside the bed. What do you make of that?’

The minister wiped a tear from his eye and said, ‘I wish we could all go like that.’

Colossians 1 Devotional

Posted in Bible Study, Prayer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 2010/07/12 by NY4JB

I was asked to lead our praise band in a devotional before our rehearsal last week so here it is.  Feel free to pass it on or use it in any way you see fit…

Heavenly Father,
We are thankful that you have chosen to allow us to worship you, offering songs of praise. We thank you for the talents and skills you have given each of us and the opportunity to use them to glorify your name. As we go to your word tonight we ask that you let us hear your voice. Please don’t let the ink, the paper or the voice of a mere man reading your word become an obstacle or distraction but let your voice be heard by all. Lord you tell us in Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God…” yet as musicians we are not in the habit of being still so tonight we want to stop and listen expectantly for your voice as we prepare our hearts to receive you.
Amen

At this time, please close your eyes and pause in silent worship for about two minutes (Note: I used a timer so that I wouldn’t have to watch the clock)

Paul an apostle of
Christ Jesus by
The will of God and
Timothy our brother

To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father. We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

(Colossians 1 ESV)

When asked to lead this devotional I knew the first thing to be done was to choose what we would study. The temptation is to pick a topic and then research Bible verses to support the topic. Of course the danger there is that we are then starting with our own wisdom rather than God’s word and it is fairly easy to find Bible quotes to support just about any opinion even if it’s not Biblically based. So I prayed about how to approach this and found my answer was to cast lots as was done throughout the Bible such as in Leviticus 16:8 “And Aaron shall cast lots …

Using the random number generator in excel to get a number between 1 and 66, yielded 51 as the book of the Bible that we should study. Colossians is the 51st book, since it has 4 chapters I then had excel give me a number between 1 and 4. So by the modern equivalent of casting lots it was determined that we should study Colossians 1. The same method was used to determine our focus for tonight is to be on verse 10, “so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

This verse can be applied to the various levels of the church, starting with the individual believer; then up to the group level such as the worship team, in our case a praise band; the leadership of a local congregation, continuing up to the local church entity and finally the universal church, which, as you know, is the collection of all Christian churches.

So how are we supposed to walk? Ephesians 4:1 tells us to “…walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, ”. We understand that sometimes small children will do things they are not supposed to do but as a child grows we expect more from them and of course adults don’t act like children. The same applies to our spiritual lives, with new believers being like small children needing help and support from the mature believers. The mature believer is then held to a higher standard and so on up through the levels with teachers, leadership and the local church itself each being held to increasingly higher standards.

James 3:1
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

Applying this to us, as a praise band, we see that not only must our personal walk be right but also as a group. So how is a group of Christians to act? Jesus tells us in John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” So then what is Christian love? 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

So with those guidelines about our walk, we move on to the idea of “bearing fruit in every good work.” Initially I thought the word ‘fruit’ meant just new believers but as I searched the scriptures I found there is more to this word fruit. Here are a few of the verses I found.

Hebrews 13:15
Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.

So praise is also fruit.

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Here we again find Christian love associated with fruit.

Philippians 1:9-11
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

And yet another type of fruit, “the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ

1 Corinthians 10:31
…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

In the end, everything we do is the fruit we bear.

Lord, our prayer for El Shaddai Christian Church tonight is that we may be filled with the knowledge of your will, in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

(All Bible quotes are from the English Standard Version.)

My Grace is Sufficient

Posted in Bible Study, faith, Observations, Prayer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 2010/03/22 by NY4JB

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (English Standard Version)
7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I am troubled by those who think that prayer heals anything and everything. While it’s true that prayer is extremely powerful, when we ask for something that is not in God’s will, the answer will be no. It is clear from the above scripture that even the Apostle Paul struggled with matters of the flesh and was denied. God clearly does not view our physical pains in the same way that we do and will at times allow us to suffer, just as a parent must allow a child to experience disappointment, in order that we might grow in the spirit.

In fact, from God’s perspective even physical death is just a calling home of one of his children (assuming the child is ‘saved’) yet from a human point of view it is a sad loss even when the person has lived a long, full life. I believe the following scripture is often misinterpreted as meaning that Jesus was mourning the death of his friend Lazarus but I believe “Jesus wept “ and was “greatly troubled” because of the lack of faith of his friends and followers. Jesus would not be troubled in the human sense because a saved man had died, knowing that they would soon be together again in Heaven.

John 11:32-35 (English Standard Version)
32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept.

Caution must be exercised here not to confuse human mourning with the spiritual truth, for as humans we will grieve the loss of a friend or family member from our earthly life.  It is a very real loss and as long as we live in this world we will feel grief for those who go on ahead of us. We will even feel sorrow at the loss of friends or times that are no longer at hand as a parent is both excited to see a child grow up and head out on their own, while missing the child’s presence in their own home.

So, we should pray for those who have needs but we should understand that we have no knowledge of God’s plan and he may answer a prayer with “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

A Little Light

Posted in Prayer with tags , , , , , , , , on 2009/03/22 by NY4JB

Although this is a dark time for my family, the mood has changed now that my grandson has arrived.  You can’t stay depressed when there is a baby in the room cooing and squealing; well not when you’re related.

Being grandpa has certain advantages, while I don’t actually have to take care of the baby, I can act like a total idiot making faces and using strange voices.  If you do this under normal circumstances people will look at you with concern but grandpa gets a pass and is automatically cool for being himself, I mean acting like a nut in front of the baby.

Heavenly Father,
Thank you for sending comfort in the form of a little baby and showing us that life goes on.  You always know what we need, please continue to comfort and strengthen us and make us witnesses to your glory.  This I pray in Jesus’ name.
Amen

Decaf

Posted in Prayer with tags , , , , , on 2009/02/10 by NY4JB

I am writing from a hotel in a small town in Minnesota tonight. I don’t want to be here; I don’t like to travel very much; especially without my wife; this is a very small town and I prefer civilization. I’m only here because my job requires it; it’s the first time they have asked me to travel since September of 2001 so I can’t really complain about the amount of travel. The hotel room is fine but I have had a head cold and cough for over a week and would prefer to be at home where I have all the comforts of (…wait for it…don’t try to guess…) home. The particular comforts I’m thinking of are hot chocolate and hot tea which are soothing on the throat. I thought hotels usually had tea bags with the little courtesy coffee maker in the rooms but not tonight. So, I’m drinking some watered-down decaf coffee (I don’t like coffee), I know I could go downstairs and get tea, too much effort, “…be content with what you have…”

Hebrews 13:5 (ESV)
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

By the way, I have seen the comment “emphasis is my own” underneath quotes from the Bible and thought I might point out that the Bible in its original form contained no bold or italic typeface; it did not have chapter and verse numbers; and was hand-written.

So, of course the emphasis is my own…or is it? Is it not the Holy Spirit that brought to my mind this phrase? “…be content with what you have…”

The first sip of coffee was terrible but then for a couple of sips I was content with it. Now, I think, I will find the coke machine.

Heavenly Father,
You created the heavens and the earth, and provide everything I truly need. Please, help me to be content to know that you are God and that minor discomforts on earth are not important. Your son, Jesus, was made to suffer and die for my sins, so that I would have eternal life. Yet, I complain when I don’t have my favorite beverage.  Lord, please forgive my ingratitude and allow me to speak boldly about your love for humanity, in Jesus’ name I pray.
Amen

Job 2:1-6

Posted in Bible Study with tags , , , , , , , , , on 2009/01/21 by NY4JB

Job 2:1-6 (English Standard Version)
1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the LORD. 2 And the LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 3 And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” 4 Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. 5 But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” 6 And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.”

Chapter two begins very much like chapter one.  The sons of God, which we assume to be the angels of God’s court, are gathered before God.  Satan presumably sneaks in and God calls him out again and again turns the focus to Job.  In chapter one Job had a very bad day, as bad as anyone can imagine, his sons, daughters and servants are killed; livestock and possessions have been stolen or burned up; he is left only with his wife, house and a few servants.  This would be like getting a phone call telling you that all of your family has been killed then finding that your bank account has been emptied and your car has been stolen, all in one day.  Everywhere you turn you find you are ruined so what can you do but turn to the one who is always the same and that’s what Job does; he turns to God and worships.  Of course, this is easy to say when all is well but what would we really do in this situation?

How many of us would just lose it and start screaming or sobbing or drinking and casting blame on everyone and everything, including God.  Yet of Job God says, “He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.”

Still Satan is not going to admit defeat; maybe he’s thinking that Job didn’t really care about his family or all those things, he’s just glad to have escaped with his own skin.  On the other hand, even if Satan knows he is defeated, that God is right and Job will never curse God, Satan still seizes the opportunity to cause Job more pain.  God doesn’t argue the point but hands Job over to Satan to be tested further setting only one limit, spare his life.  Now this restriction is important to the test, since dead men can not curse God and even if God raised him from the dead that would interfere with the test. 

So that’s it, do your worst just don’t kill him; what faith God has in Job.  God already knows the outcome but that doesn’t help poor Job and at this point his bad day is about to get worse and this is just the beginning of the test.

Heavenly Father,
Without doubt we would fail a test as great as Job went through, for as you say there is none like Job on earth.  We are grateful that in your great mercy you have sent your son, Jesus Christ, to be our Lord and Saviour for without him there would be no hope for us.  Please open our hearts to receive the wisdom in this book that we may grow more like Jesus in our ways and to always worship you as our God.  This we ask in the great name of Jesus’
Amen

Job 1:13-22

Posted in Bible Study with tags , , , , , , , , on 2009/01/19 by NY4JB

Job 1:13-19 (ESV)
13 Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 14 and there came a messenger to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 15 and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 16 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 17 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The Chaldeans formed three groups and made a raid on the camels and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 18 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 19 and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”

A couple of years ago there were wildfires burning all over the island of Crete.  There are many hills there and as the fire was coming toward a village on one of those hills a man packed his family in their car and sent them away to safety while he stayed behind with the other men in the village to try to save their houses.  There was only one road leaving the village and the fire came and killed the man’s family while they were stuck in traffic trying to get to safety.  Can you imagine what this man must have gone through knowing that he sent his family to their death when he was trying to save them.  There is a saying on Crete, to “drink from the cup of sorrow.”  What a large cup it must be and how bitter.  This is essentially what happened to Job, he lost his children, his livestock, his servants, everything except his own house, his wife and the four servants that escaped to tell him.  Surely he would speak bitterly about all this but no.

Job 1:20-22 (ESV)
20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.

How many of us keep our composure this well when little things go wrong; I have said worse after stubbing my toe yet Job “fell on the ground and worshiped.”  He understood that everything he had was never his and really belonged to God all along.  “The LORD gave…” and there will come a time that the Lord will take everything away.

So, this was Job’s first test and a very harsh test at that.  What can we learn from Job?

Heavenly Father,
You are the creator of the heavens and the earth; and all belongs to you; there is nothing that we can give to you that isn’t already yours.  We are sinful, selfish people who believe that we have earned what we have, yet it is all given to us by you.  In your great mercy you provide the jobs we have and decide if we are to be weak or strong; sick or healthy; live or die.  Let us learn from your word and the example that you give us in Job to worship you in good times and bad.  For nothing on earth really matters, for in your mercy you have offered us life everlsting and our salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ.  And it is in His great name that we pray.
Amen