Messages From  the Pastor 

You can call or text Pastor Solomon at 1-815-681-8892 or you can email him at sudhasolomon@gmail.com

Pastor Solomon's Daily Meditations

Tuesday, December 1st, 2020

 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths. - Proverbs 3:5-6

 

Trust in God is the most fundamental and important part of our faith journey. In fact, trust is the practical functioning of our Faith. Faith is needed but faith without complete Trust in God is of no value. The scripture has a countless number of stories and situations where people and communities have expressed their complete trust in God in all circumstances of their lives. Proverbs 3: 5-6 calls us to trust in God completely – with our whole heart and not to rely on our own insight and understanding.

 

We live in a society and culture that underscores the importance of trusting our own instincts and judgment. We often hear common sayings like the following:

Follow your heart!

Trust in yourself!

Listen to your heart!

 

All these saying are contrary to what the scripture is saying: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding”. This is a challenge and a call, that each of us faces in our day to day lives. Therefore, we need to train ourselves in trusting in the power and guidance of God even as we begin each day. Trust is something we exercise every moment of our lives. Each time we get into our cars we don’t doubt whether it will run or not, we just start and take off. We trust the prescriptions, we trust the building we live, we trust the pilot of the planes we travel, and so on and so forth. We trust all the time, knowingly or unknowingly. But when it comes to trusting God sometimes we fail to do it completely. I am sure you all must have heard the story of a famous acrobat and tightrope walker:

 

“Blondin was a 19th-century acrobat, famous for his tightrope act 160 feet above Niagra Falls on a rope which was over a thousand feet long.

In 1860 a Royal party from Britain saw Blondin cross the tightrope on stilts, and again blindfolded. After that, he stopped halfway and cooked and ate an omelet. Next, he wheeled a wheelbarrow from one side to the other and returned with a sack of potatoes in it. saying:

Then Blondin approached the Royal party. He asked the Duke of Newcastle, "do you believe I could take a man across the tightrope in this wheelbarrow?"

"Yes, I do", said the Duke.

"Hop in, then", replied Blondin.

Well, the Duke declined Blondin's challenge. He might have believed Blondin could do it, but he wasn't about to trust him with his life”.

(Found this illustration at http://www.edginet.org/christian/sermons/prov3.html)

 

Gracious God, we thank you for your faithfulness and your guidance and blessings on our lives. Help us to grow stronger in our faith in you and most importantly, help us, Lord, to trust in you with our whole hearts and lives. We ask these in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, November 30th, 2020

 

Dear Friends let us begin this week and end this month with the following inspirational and powerful quotes by the Reverend Billy Graham.

 

  • “The will of God will not take us where the grace of God cannot sustain us.”

  • “We are the Bibles the world is reading; we are the creeds the world is needing; we are the sermons the world is heeding.”

  • “When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.”

  • “Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.”

  • “Tears shed for self are tears of weakness, but tears shed for others are a sign of strength.”

  • "The message I preach hasn't changed. Circumstances have changed. Problems have changed, but deep inside man has not changed, and the gospel hasn't changed."

  • "The only hope for enduring peace is Jesus Christ."

  • "God has given us two hands, one to receive with and the other to give with."

 

In Reverend Graham’s last message in 2013 video-recorded My Hope America, he shares his heart for our nation today, and this simple, yet powerful prayer, a final reminder, that if we’re willing to come to Christ, he has the power to change our lives and future forever. 

“Our country's in great need of a spiritual awakening. There have been times that I've wept as I've gone from city to city and I've seen how far people have wandered from God.

I want to tell people about the meaning of the cross. Not the cross that hangs on the wall or around someone’s neck, but the real cross of Christ…With all my heart I want to leave you with the truth, that he loves you, and is willing to forgive you of all your sins.

Sin is a disease of the human heart….There is no other way of salvation except through the cross of Christ.

Today, I’m asking you to put your trust in Christ.

 

'Dear Heavenly Father, I know that I’m a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe you died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sin, I repent of my sins, I invite you to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow you as my Lord and Savior. 

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.'"

 

https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/inspiring-quotes/40-courageous-quotes-from-billy-graham.html

Saturday, November 28th, 2020

 

 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing and in everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.” (I Thes 5:16-18) 

 

My dear friends, hope you all had a good Thanksgiving Day, time with family and friends in-person or through zoom or other ways. Many would have also found the things they wanted in the black Friday sales with good deals. Earlier I would wait for these deals and go very early to various stores. The experience is so different. There are so many people around the country who wait in lines over the night to be the first ones to enter. This year I think it’s different due to covid-19, yet many of us look for online deals. Several economists view that these sales are good for the economy and so forth. But if you reflect on the focus and Thanksgiving Day and the sale day following, it might say something different.

On Thanksgiving Day we all make a list of things we are thankful for and for all God's blessings and providence. This spirit of thankfulness lasts only for a few moments because we immediately come up with a list of things we still want so that we can get them on black Friday. It is just a thought that I wanted to share with you. The scripture promises that God provides all our needs and we are encouraged to always be thankful in all circumstances. Many a time’s greed and un-necessary wants become the source of ingratitude, joylessness, frustration, insecurity, and discontentedness is a failure to be thankful. May we all guard our hearts and minds to resist temptations.

 

Paul Fritz, a pastor made a list of some of the blessings and promises we find in the scripture. I included them for our reflection and meditation. It is a long list but make note of these and read them over the holidays.

 

 

  1. Abilities- Exodus 31:3

  2. Abundance- Deuteronomy 30:9

  3. Angels - Psalms 34:7

  4. Assurance - Romans 8:28

  5. Authority - Luke 10:19 (I John 4:4)

  6. Church – Haggai 2:9

  7. Confidence- 2 Timothy 1:7

  8. Deliverance – 2 Kings 7:39

  9. Eternal Life - John 3:16

  10. Eternal Honor – James 1:12

  11. Faith – Luke 17:6

  12. Faithfulness of God – Numbers 23:19

  13. Family – Acts 16:31

  14. Favor – Psalm 5:12

  15. Fellowship with God – Revelation 3:20

  16. Forgiveness – Matthew 6:14

  17. Freedom From Fear – Psalm 46:1-2

  18. Freedom From Worry – 1 Peter 5:7

  19. Friendship – John 15:13-14

  20. Fruitfulness – Psalm 1:3

  21. Grace – Ephesians 2:8

  22. Guidance – Psalms 32:8

  23. Happiness – Proverbs 3:13

  24. Health – Matthew 9:35

  25. Heaven – John 14:2

  26. Holy Spirit – Luke 11:13

  27. Hope – Romans 15:13

  28. Inspiration – Job 32:8

  29. Intercession (Prayer) – Romans 8:27

  30. Joy - Psalms 16:11

  31. Justice - Isaiah 33:22

  32. Knowledge - Isaiah 33:6

  33. Longevity – Deuteronomy 4:40

  34. Love - John 15:10, 12

  35. Marriage – Proverbs 18:22

  36. Mercy - Deuteronomy 4:31

  37. Miracles - Matthew 19:26

  38. Ministry – John 15:16

  39. Peace – Psalm 29:11

  40. Powerful Works - John 14:12

  41. Promotion - Deuteronomy 28:13

  42. Prosperity – 2 Chronicles 26:5 (3 John 4)

  43. Protection – Isaiah 43:2

  44. Provision – Psalm 37: 3, 25

  45. Rest - Matthew 11:28

  46. Restoration – Job 42:10

  47. Resurrection - John 11:25-26

  48. Riches – Deuteronomy 8:18

  49. Deliverance - Psalms 55:16

  50. Security - Matthew 7:25

  51. Strength - Isaiah 40:29

  52. Success & Fulfillment of Needs - Matthew 6:33

  53. Truth as a Shield - Psalms 91:4

  54. Understanding - Luke 24:45

  55. Victory – 1 John 5:4

  56. Wisdom - James 1:5

  57. Word of God’s Fruitfulness - Isaiah 55:11

  58. Blessings on Your Work - Deuteronomy 28:2, 12

  59. Enablement – You shall receive power (enablement, strength, and authority) 

 

Heavenly Father, we thank you for all your blessings in our lives. Help us to be always thankful and help us to be a blessing for others. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen!

November 27th, 2020

 

…O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8

 

Scripture has some profound and beautiful imagery and descriptions. One of the most wonderful imagery is that the Bible says that God is the Potter and we are the clay. When we are open to God’s will in our lives, He molds, transforms, and sanctifies us as we walk with Him. When we come to the Potter, we need to surrender all to Him, all our imperfections and let Him be our Master. We need to let Him mold us and make us the vessel of honor that He wants us to be. For this to be accomplished, we need to have the knowledge of God’s Word before He can start the process of molding us. As the potter places a piece of clay on a wheel he needs water in order to make it pliable and soft enough for him to be able to use it. Jesus is our Living Water and the Bible tells us “… that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.” – Ephesians 5:26-27

 

Let us pray:

Spirit of the living God,
Fall afresh on me.
Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.
Spirit of the living God,
Fall afresh on me.

Amen!

Thursday, November 26th, 2020

 

I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness;
    I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High. Psalm 7: 17

 

While Thanksgiving Day is special, for the Christian it is only a starting point. Thanksliving is so much grander. As Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wrote, “Thanksgiving really should be thanksliving—a way of life—morning, noon and night—continually, forever giving thanks to the Lord.” It’s a lifestyle, showing gratitude in action, every day and at all times. Thanksliving begins in the mind, filters through our attitudes, and plays out in our actions. I believe there are many ways we can build on Thanksgiving Day to cultivate God-honoring Thanksliving. The meaningful traditions of Thanksgiving Day are important to spark a lifestyle of gratitude and can bind families together. But Christ-followers are wise to think beyond these traditions and plan for a legacy of gratitude. J. I. Packer says that: “The habit of celebrating the greatness and graciousness of God yields an endless flow of thankfulness, joy and zeal.” Gratitude comes hard in our entitlement culture; we often have an ungrateful mindset. But we must teach our souls the truth, and choose thanksliving. “Gratitude is a decision of the will,” claimed Pastor Chuck Swindoll and Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that, “Deciding to be thankful is no easy task. It takes work.” “It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.”

 

A Thanksgiving Prayer for 2020

 

Gracious God, this Thanksgiving

we gather full of both gratitude and grief.

We are grateful for the food on our table

and grieve the empty chairs around it.

We are grateful for technology that connects us

and grieve the loss of a simple human touch.

We are grateful for seasons of abundant harvest

and understand that fields must sometimes lie fallow.

We humbly ask that you feed our hungering hearts,

weary spirits and beleaguered bodies

with generous helpings of your sacred strength,

extravagant love and radical resilience.

Thank you, O God, for this gift of life

and the privilege of living it.

Amen.

 

Sharon Seyfarth Garner - November 21, 2020

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020

 

And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Genesis 22: 7

So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” Genesis 22: 14 

 

The word “providence” is striking. It comes from the word “provide” which has two parts: “pro” (Latin: “forward,” “on behalf of”) and “vide” (Latin: “to see”). So you might think that “provide” would mean: “to see forward” or “to foresee.” But it doesn’t. It means “to supply what is needed; to give sustenance or support.” And so the noun “providence” has come to mean the act of “providing for or sustaining and governing the universe by God.” The scripture has a countless number of instances where God has shown his providence in people’s lives. People have stepped into the unknown believing in the providence of God. People have taken up responsibilities to care for themselves and to care for others believing that God will provide on the way. Belief in the providence of God makes us patient in times of adversity and need. The Providence of God helps us nurture thankful hearts and renewed faith in the future journey. As we are in the midst of Thanksgiving week this year, we all take and should take time to ponder on the providence of God in our lives. We all might have had been to those places as Abraham and Isaac where they affirmed and named a place where the Lord provided for them. As in Genesis 22: 7, like Isaac, we might have questioned, “Where is the lamb for the offering?” Or we might have questioned our resources or our sustenance. In the same way, we might have experiences like Abraham. 

Like “So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”.

 

Not many years ago, as I was completing my Ph.D. dissertation, I was told by my school that I have a balance on my semester fee that I need to pay by a certain date so that I will not jeopardize my graduation. It was one of our financially weak phases of our student life. On one hand, we had four mouths to fill, pay our rents, and other living expenses. On the other hand, we had this financial mountain to clear our way for my graduation along with completing my writing. I was so disheartened and discourage. My wife and I talked and spent time in prayer. Only one thing my wife Satya said at that time was to continue writing and believing in the providence of God that sustained us thus long. A few days later as I approached the office to pay a small amount, the person behind the desk asked for what I was paying as my entire balance was paid off and was cleared for graduation. To this day we don’t know who did this for us, but we believe that this was another proof of God’s providence to those who depended on God. God works through other people to remind us of God’s providence and gifts for us. It is a challenge for us to be channels of God’s providence and help in this world where there are countless number of people looking out for God’s help in their lives. This thanksgiving let us remember our own experiences of receiving blessings from God and also make ourselves available for God to act through us. 

 

Gracious God, our provider, and sustainer, we thank you for your blessings and providence in our lives. Help us also to be channels of your grace and mercy and be a blessing in other people’s lives. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen!

Monday, November 23rd, 2020

 

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Hebrew 4:15

 

The above verse is one of the most important descriptions of the type of God whom we worship and who comes to us to help, guide, and sustain us in our life’s journey. The most important fact is that Jesus faced everyday temptations just like everyone else, but never gave into them. We can boldly affirm that our High Priest is not distant, cold, or insensitive. We have one who is qualified in every sense of the term to sympathize with our afflictions and weaknesses therefore we can look toward him for support and aid. Scripture reminds us that he was subjected to all kinds of trials that come over us. He was tempted, he was persecuted, he was poor and despised, and he suffered pain as he offered his life on the cross for you and me. Christ, in his human nature, partook of all the original affections of humanity - hope, fear, desire, joy, grief, indignation, shrinking from suffering, and the like - Yet without sin.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of your son Jesus Christ. We acknowledge his passion and sacrifice for us on the cross. We also thank you for being in solidarity with us as we journey through life’s trials and temptations. Help us, guide us, and strengthen us for the rest of the journey. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen!

Sunday, November 22nd, 2020

 

Pandemic by Lynn Ungher

https://sacredwanderings.com/prayers-poems-pandemic/

 

 

What if you thought of it

as the Jews consider the Sabbath—

the most sacred of times?

Cease from travel.

Cease from buying and selling.

Give up, just for now,

on trying to make the world

different than it is.

Sing. Pray. Touch only those

to whom you commit your life.

Center down.

And when your body has become still,

reach out with your heart.

Know that we are connected

in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.

(You could hardly deny it now.)

Know that our lives

are in one another’s hands.

(Surely, that has come clear.)

Do not reach out your hands.

Reach out your heart.

Reach out your words.

Reach out all the tendrils

of compassion that move, invisibly,

where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love–

for better or for worse,

in sickness and in health,

so long as we all shall live.

 

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, November 21st, 2020

 

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.  And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Hebrews 13: 15-16

 

Praise to God is often spontaneous. God has just done some marvelous thing for us, and the praise rises spontaneously from our hearts. Sometimes our circumstances are not conducive to praise. This is when praise is a sacrifice. Especially today, the world is battling a deadly virus. This virus does not care for geographical boundaries or people of every nation and kind, it affects everyone. The scripture calls us that even in times that are unfavorable and gloomy, we are called to offer sacrifices of praise to our God. Praising God during good and bad times is an exercise of faith. As the Apostle said, “I can praise Him for I know that all things work together for God to those who love God and are the called according to His purposes”. We are also reminded that we are to give thanks in everything for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning us. Surely the scriptures call on us to praise the Lord all the time. The sacrifices of praise to our God are voluntary and represent complete devotion and surrender to God. They arise out of a spirit of thankfulness and gratitude for God's many blessings and mercies.

As a response to Jesus who is our sacrifice for sin, we, in turn, are to make a sacrifice of praise.

 

Is this our response today?

 

Dear Heavenly Father, we come to you bringing all our fears and joys. We come to you for guidance and protection. And we come to you offering our sacrifices of praise to your most holy name. In Jesus, we pray. Amen!

Friday, November 20th, 2020

 

JEN POLLOCK MICHEL put together a list of 20 prayers to pray during this pandemic that I thought was very helpful even as we continue to pray during this pandemic and its increasing trend by the day. I request you all to include the following in your own personal prayers today.

 

  1. For the sick and infected: God, heal, and help. Sustain bodies and spirits. Contain the spread of infection.

  2. For our vulnerable populations: God, protect our elderly and those suffering from chronic disease. Provide for the poor, especially the uninsured.

  3. For the young and the strong: God, give them the necessary caution to keep them from unwittingly spreading this disease. Inspire them to help.

  4. For our local, state, and federal governments: God, help our elected officials as they allocate the necessary resources for combatting this pandemic. Help them to provide more tests.

  5. For our scientific community, leading the charge to understand the disease and communicate its gravity: God, give them knowledge, wisdom, and a persuasive voice.

  6. For the media, committed to providing up-to-date information: God, help them to communicate with appropriate seriousness without causing panic.

  7. For consumers of media, looking to be well-informed: God, help us find the most helpful local information to equip us to be good neighbors. Keep us from anxiety and panic, and enable us to implement the recommended strategies, even at a cost to ourselves.

  8. For those with mental health challenges who feel isolated, anxious, and helpless: God, provide them every necessary support.

  9. For the homeless, unable to practice the protocols of social distancing in the shelter system: Protect them from disease, and provide isolation shelters in every city.

  10. For international travelers stuck in foreign countries: God, help them return home safely and quickly.

  11. For Christian missionaries throughout the world, especially in areas with high rates of infection: God, provide them with words of hope, and equip them to love and serve those around them.

  12. For workers in a variety of industries facing layoffs and financial hardship: God, keep them from panic, and inspire your church to generously support them.

  13. For families with young children at home for the foreseeable future: God, help mothers and fathers to partner together creatively for the care and flourishing of their children. For single mothers and fathers, grow their networks of support.

  14. For parents who cannot stay home from work but must find care for their children: God, present them with creative solutions.

  15. For those in need of regular therapies and treatments that must now be postponed: God, help them to stay patient and positive.

  16. For business leaders making difficult decisions that affect the lives of their employees: God, give these women and men wisdom, and help them to lead self-sacrificially.

  17. For pastors and church leaders faced with the challenges of social distancing: God, help them to creatively imagine how to pastor their congregants and love their cities well.

  18. For college and university students, whose courses of study are changing, whose placements are canceled, whose graduation is uncertain: God, show them that while life is uncertain, their trust is in you.

  19. For Christians in every neighborhood, community, and city: May your Holy Spirit inspire us to pray, to give, to love, to serve, and to proclaim the gospel, that the name of Jesus Christ might be glorified around the world.

  20. For frontline health care workers, we thank you for your vocational call to serve us. We also pray:

God, keep them safe and healthy. Keep their families safe and healthy.

God, help them to be knowledgeable about the diagnosis and treatment of this disease, as well as the changing protocols.

God, help them to stay clear-minded in the midst of the surrounding panic.

God, deliver them from anxiety for their own loved ones (aging parents, children, spouses, roommates).

God, give them compassion for every patient in their care.

God, provide for them financially, especially if they fall ill and are unable to work.

God, help Christians in health care to exhibit extraordinary peace, so that many would ask about the reason for their hope. Give them opportunities to proclaim the gospel.

 

LORD in your mercy, hear our prayer. Amen!

Thursday, November 19th, 2020

 

A Beautiful Meditation Prayer by Rebecca Barlow Jordan

Lord, quiet my heart and still my soul as I wait on you during these moments alone. I recognize you as a holy and majestic God—one who deserves great praise and glory. All of creation testifies to your awesome and unique works. There is no one like you, no other god worthy of honor. 

 

 I want to focus on You, Lord, and to shut out all the distractions of the world. For these next few moments, it’s just you and me, God. You are Spirit, but you are a God who knows us so intimately. I like to imagine you literally sitting here beside me, because of your promise that you are Emmanuel—always “with us.”

 

 As I think about the truths in your Word, may the meditation of my heart be sweet and honoring to you. I am not trying to clear out my mind. I simply want you to empty me of self and fill me with your Holy Spirit.

 

 I long for your presence, Lord. Narrow my thoughts to include only those things that are honorable, truthful, beautiful, pure, and praiseworthy. I ask for your wisdom to apply these truths to my life morning, noon, and night—literally all through the day. For you are worthy to be praised all the time.

 

 I remember your great faithfulness in the past and am so grateful that you shower fresh mercy and grace on me each morning. I rehearse your goodness through answered prayer and personal reminders to me daily of your love for me. Even when I feel alone or distant from you, you draw me back into your presence when I purposely slow down and draw close to you.

 

 I treasure your Word and want to chew on the truths you reveal to me today. As I pull apart each piece and reflect on every principle and word of instruction, I’m asking you to guide me and teach me what you want me to know.

 

 Is there a promise here for me to remember? Is there an action I need to take or a sin to forsake? Is there more for me to understand about your character? Help me personalize your message to my heart today. Your Word is powerful. I celebrate the strength and wisdom you will give me as I learn to honor and glorify you more.

 

 I need you and love you, Lord. And I ask you to speak through your Word and in these quiet moments together. Whisper or shout into my spirit, whichever you want, and whatever I need the most. But most of all, just receive my praise as I focus my thoughts only on you. I’m listening and anticipating as I read and meditate on your beautiful Word.

 

 In Jesus’ name, Amen.

https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/prayer/a-meditation-prayer.html

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (4 February 1906 – 9 April 1945) was a Lutheran pastor, theologian, anti-Nazi dissident, and a member/founder of the Confessing Church. The Cost of Discipleship is one of his influential books from which I picked up some of the quotes for our meditation today.

 

“Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.”

 ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession...Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living, and incarnate.”

 ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: 'Ye were bought at a price', and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”

 ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

“Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him. On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God. So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes. There is his commission, his work. 'The kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared' (Luther).”

 ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community

“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”

 ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

Help us O God to leave a moral society and a moral world for our children. Help us overcome the divisions and hatred as put forth by selfish people. Help us accept and live by the costly grace and the example of your Son Jesus Christ. Amen!

Tuesday, November 17th, 2020

 

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12: 9

 

Several of us can often forget where this verse originates and from whom it was given to us. This very personal and profound statement is by St. Paul, especially he is engulfed and caught up in a place of weakness and frailty. Here Paul makes it clear that in our weakness God’s grace alone saves us. Paul, here, is both preaching to the Corinthian people as well as you and me today! Like many believers today, the Corinthians had a problem with self-reliance and boasting. To go the extra mile and make a point, Paul is telling the Corinthians he has nothing to boast about except his weakness because his weakness makes him realize how much he needs to rely on God. He speaks about a thorn in his side that he’s asked God to remove, but God won’t take away the thing that makes him realize his weakness. Instead, God says: “My grace is sufficient for thee”. The Lord answered his prayer, not by removing the thorn, but by giving the grace to bear it, and by the assurance that Paul's sense of weakness, caused by it, fitted him to receive the divine strength. 

 

This verse by St. Paul has ministered to many of us in our own life’s journey. Last week, during the storm and when we had a tornado siren go in LaSalle and Peru, my wife Satya was driving back alone from her church and was caught up in the midst of the storm. She felt her car was about to fly and saw debris flying and some hitting the car. She was so overwhelmed and frightened but relied on God’s grace and protection. She has a testimony now affirming that “God’s grace was sufficient for her at that time”. I personally had several experiences where I was strengthened by the fact that “God’s grace was and is sufficient for me”. Friends as St. Paul testified, even though God does not remove the thorns and troubles that come our way, by his grace we are strengthened and protected. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, we come to you now even as we acknowledge our own weaknesses and fears. We also acknowledge that we are weak and frail and that we wholly depend upon you. We thank you because your grace sustains us in our journey and your Grace is sufficient for us. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen! 

Monday, November 16th, 2020

 

Inspiring Quotes from Elisabeth Elliot

Inspiring. Loving. Strong. Wise. Determined. Faith-filled. Authentic. These are words that only begin to describe much-loved missionary and author Elisabeth Elliot who, for half a century, made an impact in our world through the amazing stories of her life and experiences. Many of us came to know of Elisabeth Elliot through her story and work with the Auca Indians. Even after her own husband and 4 other missionaries were tragically killed at their hands, in the midst of her own grief, she chose to stay, to share the greatest gift of all with a people who didn’t yet know - the truth of Jesus Christ.

 

  1. “Leave it all in the Hands that were wounded for you.”

  2. “By trying to grab fulfillment everywhere, we find it nowhere.”

  3. “Don’t dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.”

  4. “The devil has made it his business to monopolize on three elements: noise, hurry, crowds. He will not allow quietness.”

  5. “It is God to whom and with whom we travel, and while he is the end of our journey, he is also at every stopping place.”

  6. “Fear arises when we imagine that everything depends on us.”

  7. “We cannot give our hearts to God and keep our bodies to ourselves.”

  8. “The fact that I’m a woman doesn’t make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I’m a Christian does make me a different kind of woman.” 

  9. “When you don’t know what to do next, just do the thing in front of you.” 

  10. “…the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by his letting us have our way in the end, but by his making us wait, bearing with us in love and patience until we are able to honestly pray what he taught his disciples to pray: Thy will be done.”

  11. “If you believe in a God who controls the big things, you have to believe in a God who controls the little things.” 

  12. “Today is mine. Tomorrow is none of my business. If I peer anxiously into the fog of the future, I will strain my spiritual eyes so that I will not see clearly what is required of me now.” 

  13. “Money holds terrible power when it is loved.”

  14. “Worship is not an experience. Worship is an act, and this takes discipline. We are to worship ‘in spirit and in truth.’ Never mind about the feelings. We are to worship in spite of them.”

  15. “Restlessness and impatience change nothing except our peace and joy. Peace does not dwell in outward things, but in the heart prepared to wait trustfully and quietly on him who has all things safely in his hands.”

https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/inspiring-quotes/40-inspiring-quotes-from-elisabeth-elliot.html

 

 

Heavenly Father, as we begin this new week, we pray for your guidance and protection. We pray for our country for peace and stability. We pray that covid-19 is eliminated from this world. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen!

Sunday, November 15, 2020

 

Annual Conference 2020 met "virtually" on November 14 through a Zoom webinar.

Theme: The theme for the 2020 session of the Annual Conference is “Y Church,” grounded in the scripture 1 Peter 3:15b that calls us to always be ready to make an account of the hope that is within us. Bishop Sally Dyck asks us to reflect on why the church matters to us and why the church still plays an important role in our communities. Bishop Dyck hopes these reflections will help us re-focus and stay focused on how to live out the mission that Jesus has given us. At this time in our life together in the United Methodist Church, as well as a religious landscape that values church less and less, it’s important for us to reflect on what it means to be a church. I hope that as we reflect on “Y Church,” we’ll affirm: “that’s why church!”

Bishop’s Column:

We keep saying that we are in unprecedented times. But the fact of the matter is we are in a time of great change. Everything has changed and we know that more will yet change. And change is strange!

Consider the word “strange.” The dictionary says that the word “strange” has a Latin root in “extraneous” (i.e., outside of us). We feel pummeled some days—or at least I do—by all the change. If you watch the late-night comedy shows (I watch the morning-after clips), they make jokes about how fast change happens in the course of a week. I read somewhere that Lenin once said, "There are decades when nothing happens and weeks when decades happen.” I feel like we’re in the latter! Change is strange: fast and unrelenting.

Just one change—the COVID-19 pandemic—has had a cascading effect on so many aspects of our personal lives, families, education, institutions, the church, business, and the economy. Everything has changed. Decades' worth of change has occurred in the last eight months to all of us.

As an annual conference, there have been—and there will be even more—changes in the future. We don’t know what many of them will look like yet, such as:

Redistricting.

My retirement and the coming of an interim bishop.

General Conference 2020

North Central Jurisdictional (NCJ) Conference. 

This is how Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message:

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for (God). Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what (God) wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

May it be so!

https://www.umcnic.org/news/bishops-column-change-is-s

Saturday, November 14th,2020

 

"The Old Rugged Cross"

"The Old Rugged Cross" is a popular hymn written in 1912 by evangelist and song-leader George Bennard and it speaks of the writer's adoration of Christ and His sacrifice at Calvary.

 

On a hill far away, stood an old rugged Cross

The emblem of suffering and shame

And I love that old Cross where the dearest and best

For a world of lost sinners was slain

 

So I'll cherish the old rugged Cross

Till my trophies, at last, I lay down

I will cling to the old rugged Cross

And exchange it someday for a crown

 

Oh, that old rugged Cross so despised by the world

Has a wondrous attraction for me

For the dear Lamb of God, left His Glory above

To bear it to dark Calvary

 

In the old rugged Cross, stained with blood so divine

A wondrous beauty I see

For the dear Lamb of God, left His Glory above

To pardon and sanctify me

 

To the old rugged Cross, I will ever be true

Its shame and reproach gladly bear

Then He'll call me someday to my home far away

Where His glory forever I'll share

So I'll cherish the old rugged Cross….

 

As a Methodist evangelist, George Bennard wrote the first verse of "The Old Rugged Cross" in Albion, Michigan, in the fall of 1912 as a response to ridicule that he had received at a revival meeting. Bennard traveled with Ed E. Mieras from Chicago to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin where they held evangelistic meetings at the Friends Church from December 29, 1912, to January 12, 1913. During the meetings Rev. George Bennard finished "The Old Rugged Cross" and on the last night of the meetings, Bennard and Mieras performed it as a duet before a full house with Pearl Torstensen Berg, organist for the meeting, as accompanist. A memorial has also been created in Youngstown at Lake Park Cemetery. A plaque commemorating the first performance of the song stands in front of the Friend's Church in Sturgeon Bay, WI. "The Old Rugged Cross" has been a country gospel favorite ever since it became the title song of Ernest Tubb's 1952 gospel album; it has been performed by some of the twentieth century's most important recording artists.

 

https://www.godtube.com/popular-hymns/the-old-rugged-cross/

Friday, November 13th, 2020

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:9

 

Gift Represent the Worth of Giver

Once upon a time, a rich man lived near a poor family. The residents of poor households were jealous of the rich man’s success. One day, the poor neighbor put garbage on the lawn of the rich neighbor. Soon, the rich neighbor found out the garbage and the name of the person who threw it.

In the evening, the rich man took a few baskets with fruits from his garden and sent it to his poor neighbor. His neighbors were astonished but he told them that he could only present others with the gift he possessed.

 

Story Moral:

What you give others is a representation of who you are at your core.

 

Help us O God to be channels of your grace and mercy in this world. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen!

Thursday, November 12th 2020

 

But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream.

Amos 5:24

 

The prophet Amos prophesied when Israel was enjoying prosperity and loved to practice their religion of God with festivals, sacrifices, and rituals. During this time religious practice was mixed in with idol worship which would reflect in the wayward morals of the community, causing them to oppress the poor. Economic injustice and inequality were at its height.

We should not think that there is any religious practice that would appease the heart of God if our lives don’t align with his moral character. A society that loves church participation and calls itself Christian, but without a heart for God, will fall into moral decay, and a sign of that will be injustice toward the marginalized. For God an act of worship by each of us is to live justly. Our challenge today, is to look around us and look at our own lives to see if there is any tiny bit of moral decay that resulted from our participation and promotion of injustice, inequality and other forms of discriminations against other people. If so, this is a good time to leave them behind and approach God in worship that God readily accepts.

 

Heavenly Father, may the words of my mouth, and the actions of my life and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you. ‘Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream’, in and through my life. In Christ’s name, I pray. Amen!

Wednesday, November 11th, 2020

 

Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt. Psalm 123:3

 

Our Lord Jesus has taught us that in every situation of life, to look towards God in prayer, who is our Father in heaven. In every prayer we need to lift up our souls to God; especially when in trouble. We desire mercy from him; we hope he will show us mercy, and we will continue waiting on him till we experience the grace and mercy of God in our lives. The eyes of a servant are to his master's directing hand, expecting that he will appoint him his work. And also to his supplying hand. Servants look to their master or their mistress for their portion of meat in due season. And to God we must look for daily bread, for grace sufficient; from God, we must receive it thankfully. Where can we look for help but to our Master? The scripture above expresses the eagerness of the Psalmist's spirit and his urgent need: what he needed at that juncture of his life, he intercedes that the mercy and grace of God come speedily.

Today, millions of people around the world are interceding for God’s mercy and grace. People are overwhelmed by covid-19 fatigue. Millions of people are affected and several of them have died. Thousands of families are entering into the upcoming festive season with an empty chair at their dinner table, weeping and mourning for their lost loved one. It is time for all of us to have the urgency of the psalmist in our own personal prayers.

 

Let us pray: “Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough” Lord in your mercy, hear our prayers. Amen!

Tuesday, November 10th, 2020

 

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.

 Matthew 7:3-5 

 

 

A couple moved to an apartment after marriage. From their living room, they had a clear view of the neighbor’s wash-line. Every day, the wife would complain about how dirty neighbors’ clothes were even after washing. The husband always listened but ignored these complaints until he had enough of this talk.

The next day, the wife saw that the clothes were clean. Astonished, she discussed this difference with her husband. In turn, her husband told her that he cleaned their living room windows so now she can see the actual tidiness of washed clothes.

 

Story Moral:

We can only see clear pictures if we enjoy unbiased vision.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, we come to you seeking guidance and direction. In a world of extreme polarization, help us to see the good in other people and help us to be channels of your love and peace. We pray for our community, our church, and our nation and we also pray for the entire humanity. Let your peace prevail in this world and in our hearts now and always. In the name of your Son Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen!

Monday, November 9th, 2020

 

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:15-17

 

In Ephesians 5:15-17, God shows us through the Apostle Paul shows us how to use biblical wisdom to discover the will of God. He shows us how to discover this through: 

  1. Understanding (Ephesians 5:15), 

  2. Occasion (Ephesians 5:16), 

  3. Action (Ephesians 5:17).

Most of us acknowledge that God has a plan for the life of every believer and our congregation as a whole and also for our nation, but often we have trouble in finding just which way this plan goes at a particular juncture, where the answers sometimes seem to elude even the most persistent searcher. Some say they are searching for it! Some think that God’s will is lost. When the unexpected things happen or when things do not turn out the way we expected. But as the scripture reminds us, it is expected from us to be wise and wait on the will of God while making the best use of time to bring glory to God in all situations and extend God’s love to one another.

 

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, November 8th, 2020

 

A Prayer for the United States Presidential Election and its Results

Creator of us all:

 you are the source of every blessing,

 the judge of every nation

 and the hope of earth and heaven:

 

 We pray to you about this important and historic election.

 

 We call to mind the best that is within us:

 That we live under God,

 that we are indivisible,

 that liberty and justice extend to all.

 

 We acknowledge the sin that runs through our history as a nation:

 The displacement of native peoples, racial injustice,

 economic inequity, regional separation.

 

 And we profess a deep and abiding gratitude

 for the goodness of ordinary people who have made sacrifices,

 who have sought opportunities,

 who have journeyed to this land as immigrants

 and strengthened its promise in successive generations,

 who have found freedom on these shores,

 and defended this freedom at tremendous cost.

 

 Be with us during these days of the election, its results, and the aftermath.

 Remind us that your ways are not our ways,

 that your power and might transcend

 the plans of every nation,

 that you are not mocked.

 

 Let those who follow your Son Jesus Christ be a peaceable people

 in the midst of division.

 

 Send your Spirit of peace, justice, healing, and freedom upon us,

 break down the walls of political partisanship,

 and make us one.

 

 Give us wisdom to walk in your ways,

 courage to speak in your name,

 and humility to trust in your providence. Amen.

 

https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/a-prayer-for-the-united-states-presidential-election

Saturday, November 7th, 2020

 

Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15 

 

Definition of Empathy

“The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of the other”. 

Sympathy vs. Empathy

Sympathy and empathy are closely related words, bound by shared origins and the similar circumstances in which each is applicable, yet they are not synonymous. Sympathy may refer to "feelings of loyalty" or "unity or harmony in action or effect," meanings not shared by empathy. In the contexts where the two words do overlap, sympathy implies sharing (or having the capacity to share) the feelings of another, while empathy tends to be used to mean imagining, or having the capacity to imagine, feelings that one does not actually have. Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another's position.

Scripture encourages us to understand and sharing of the emotions and experiences of another person so that through empathy we can be in solidarity with others in their joys as well as their concerns.

 

Dear Lord, we thank you for your unconditional love for each of us and for standing with us in all situations of our lives. Help us also to be empathetic with others around us so that we could be better stewards and channels of your grace and mercy. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen!

Friday, November 6th, 2020

 

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 1 Peter 4:10 

 

Dads Blessings

A young man was getting ready to graduate from college. For many months he had admired a beautiful sports car in a dealer’s showroom, and knowing his father could well afford it, he told him that was all he wanted. As Graduation Day approached, the young man awaited signs that his father had purchased the car.  Finally, on the morning of his graduation, his father called him into his private study. His father told him how proud he was to have such a fine son, and told him how much he loved him. He handed his son a beautifully wrapped gift box.  Curious, but somewhat disappointed, the young man opened the box and found a lovely, leather-bound Bible, with the young man’s name embossed in gold. Angry, he raised his voice to his father and said “With all your money, you give me a Bible?” and stormed out of the house, leaving the Bible.

Many years passed and the young man was very successful in business. He had a beautiful home and a wonderful family but realized his father was very old and thought perhaps he should go to him.  He had not seen him since that graduation day.  Before he could make arrangements, he received a telegram telling him his father had passed away and willed all of his possessions to his son. He needed to come home immediately and take care of things.

When he arrived at his father’s house, sudden sadness and regret filled his heart.  He began to search through his father’s important papers and saw the still new Bible, just as he had left it years ago.  With tears, he opened the Bible and began to turn the pages.  And as he did, a car key dropped from the back of the Bible.  It had a tag with the dealer’s name, the same dealer who had the sports car he had desired. On the tag was the date of his graduation, and the words PAID IN FULL.

How many times do we miss Spirit’s blessings and answers to our prayers because they do not arrive exactly as we have expected?

 

TODAY’S’s Affirmation:  “Today I look beyond the obvious and allow miracles to be created in my life.”

 

Heavenly Father, we thank you for all the blessings showered upon us. We thank you for the gift of your Son Jesus Christ. Help us to live according to your will. In Jesus name we pray. Amen!

Thursday, November 5th, 2020

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

 

David in a deep sense of his sins and while experiencing a profound time of repentance and seeking forgiveness from his God prays that the Lord has mercy on him and creates in him a clean heart and a right spirit. He has voluntarily surrendered himself to God for deep cleansing of his soul. Today, one of the booming businesses is that of the detoxification of the body and blood. People spend several dollars to purchase the advertised detox medicines. There is stuff for a skin detox, blood detox, liver detox so on, and so forth. David approached his God for a soul and heart detox. Detox means removing toxic materials and other impurities from the body. I recently read an article that prescribes a few steps in detoxing our lives. 

 

10 Ways You Need to Detoxify Your Soul Right Now by Whitney Hopler.

He says Toxic attitudes, behaviors, and cultural influences that you allow into your life put your soul in danger. You can’t avoid contact with such toxins in this fallen world, but you don’t have to be contaminated by them. You can detoxify your soul and start experiencing the pure life that God wants you to enjoy. Here’s how:

  1. Realize that everything counts.

  2. Identify the lies that have deceived you, and replace them with the truth.

  3. Clean up your thoughts.

  4. Choose positive words and avoid negative words.

  5. Uncover your hidden sins.

  6. Dig up bitter roots from your soul.

  7. Get rid of envy.

  8. Express anger productively rather than destructively.

  9. Break free of fear.

  10. Get rid of toxic influences on your life.

 

Heavenly Father, Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Amen!

Wednesday, November 4th, 2020

 

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:11

 

A farmer had some puppies he needed to sell. He painted a sign advertising the pups and set about nailing it to a post on the edge of his yard. As he was driving the last nail into the post, he felt a tug on his overalls. He looked down into the Eyes of a little boy.

Mister,” he said, “I want to buy one of your puppies.”

 “Well,” said the farmer, as he rubbed the sweat off the back of his neck, “these puppies come from fine parents and cost a good deal of money.”

 The boy dropped his head for a moment. Then reaching deep into his pocket, he pulled out a handful of change and held it up to the farmer. “I’ve got thirty-nine cents. Is that enough to take a look?”

 “Sure,” said the farmer.

And with that, he let out a whistle, “Here, Dolly!” he called.

 Out from the doghouse and down the ramp ran Dolly followed by four little balls of fur. The little boy pressed his face against the chain-link fence. His eyes danced with delight.

As the dogs made their way to the fence, the little boy noticed something else stirring inside the doghouse. Slowly another little ball appeared; this One noticeably smaller. Down the ramp, it slid. Then in a somewhat awkward manner, the little pup began hobbling toward the others, doing its best to catch up….

 “I want that one,” the little boy said, pointing to the runt.

The farmer knelt down at the boy’s side and said, “Son, you don’t want that puppy. He will never be able to run and play with you like these other dogs would.”

With that, the little boy stepped back from the fence, reached down, and began rolling up one leg of his trousers. In doing so he revealed a steel brace running down both sides of his leg attaching itself to a specially made shoe. Looking back up at the farmer, he said, “You see sir, I don’t run too well myself, and he will need someone who understands.”

 

The world is full of people who need someone who understands.

 

Heavenly Father, we thank you for calling each of us to continue to demonstrate the teachings of the kingdom of God for all we meet today. Help us to understand and minister to the needs of others we meet. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen!

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020

Election Day 2020!

A Prayer for Election Anxiety

Our Heavenly Father,

Thank you for being with us and for sending the Holy Spirit to comfort us and to guide us. Lord, right now it feels like there is so much at stake, and there is a lot of anxiety about the upcoming election. People are worried. Your Word says to be anxious for nothing, but in everything to come to You; I ask that you provide peace and comfort to the worried hearts of this country right now. Relieve their anxiety by helping them to focus on You and your will. Help those who feel anxious to instead feel Your presence. Please diffuse the spirit of anxiety across the nation, bringing understanding between all people. We pray for the Candidates and their running mates, we pray for all the Poll Officers and Judges, we pray for all the volunteers and Security and Law Enforcement Officials and we finally pray for all citizens. We also pray for peace and well-being of all. Be with us and Reign over us, O Lord, instead of fear.

In the name of Jesus, I pray, Amen.

(Inspired by a prayer by Bethany Verrett at Crosswalk.com)

 

Bishop’s Message:

https://vimeo.com/474700596

Monday, November 2nd, 2020

 

“Listen to counsel and accept discipline, that you may be wise the rest of your days.”

Proverbs 19:20 

 

The scripture is full of teachings related to the importance of ‘choosing’ and decision making in our day to day lives. God has blessed each of us with free will and free choice. The Bible is clear that we need wise counsel when making decisions. We truly are better together in this Christian life. Scripture tells us to be wise and shrewd in this lost world. We have to know what is going on and be ready for anything. It is not enough that we have the freedom to choose our path in life, we also want that path to be the best path. We want to make wise choices that will benefit everyone our lives touch. We have the freedom to choose, but with every choice there are consequences. Some consequences are good while others are more like discipline. We need to be careful about how we choose to live our lives to avoid bad consequences. Our nation is in the midst of making an important decision at this time. Each of us should take some time in prayer that the Lord will guide our paths and the future of our nation. We need to pray for peace and well-being of each and every citizen. We need to pray for all the leaders, politicians, and those in authority that they strive for the good of all.

 

Eternal God, we pray for our nation and all its leaders and people in authority. We pray for your guidance and protection. We pray for your wisdom for your people to choose the right person to lead this nation and bless this nation to be a channel of your grace and mercy. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen!

Sunday, November 1st, 2020

 

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying:

“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honor and power and might,

 Be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” Revelation 7: 9-12

 

Today is All Saints’ Sunday, and as we remember those who have died in the faith, and especially those who have died during the past year, we turn to John’s vision of the Kingdom. As we open the book of Revelation, we ought to understand a few things: John wrote this book while in exile on the island of Patmos, off the western coast of what he would have known as Asia – what we call today, Turkey. John was writing in the late sixties A. D. At this time, Nero was emperor of Rome, and he was viciously running a campaign to slaughter Christians and stamp out Christianity. John wrote his book under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit to the seven churches of Turkey: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. They were experiencing the wrath of Nero, and John wrote this letter to them to be an encouragement to them – and all Christians. The book of Revelation is not a horror story – it is not meant to scare us – the point of the book is to comfort. John wanted to assure the churches that no matter how horrible the persecution was or could become, there was no reason to fear Nero and his troops – or any evil – because Jesus is our Victorious Savior.

 

2020 has been a rough year for millions around the world. Today, even as we remember all our loved ones who passed on, we also remember the countless number of people who have perished due to this virus around the world. We remember and pray for their families and communities. The vision of John and the vision of the throne room of our heavenly Father reminds us that God is ever-present with us, caring and watching over us. Our loved ones who are not with us today, we believe that they are in the eternal presence of God. Therefore, let us join in the heavenly chorus saying:

 

Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honor and power and might,

 Be to our God forever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, October 31st, 2020

“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” Matthew 6: 13

 

Temptation comes in all shapes and sizes, but one thing is true, we all face it. People are tempted every day to cheat, lie, and steal. They are tempted to be unfaithful, to fall into sin, to do the wrong or unethical thing, to please any part of their flesh! When Jesus says that we should pray, ''Our Father, do not lead us into temptation,'' He is not saying that the Father leads us into temptation. It says He has the power to keep us from falling INTO temptation. 

I heard about a lady, and she was in a diet club with some other ladies and trying to lose weight. And she came to the meeting one day and she was so upset. She said, ''Oh, I've gained weight.'' She said, ''I just had a terrible, terrible weekend.'' And they said, ''Well, tell me what happened.'' She said, ''Well, I made a cake for my family over the weekend, and it was their favorite cake, and I made this cake. And I didn't eat any, but, but they ate half of it. And then, on Monday,'' she said, ''all I could think about was the cake. And I kept staring at the cake. And I thought, Well, surely, I can just have one little piece. And she said, ''So I cut a little piece and I ate that. And it was so good that I had another piece, and I ate that. And pretty soon I ate the whole half of the cake.'' And she said, ''I've gained weight, and I just feel so bad that I gave in to that temptation.'' And she said, ''And I just felt so horrible. My husband was going to be so disappointed in me.'' And they were commiserating with her. And then, one lady said, ''Well, what happened when your husband found out?'' She said, ''Well, that's the beauty of it. He never did find out. I made another cake and ate half!'' She was tempted and didn't do very well. Tempted and failed!

How do you do when you're tempted? One lady said, ''I can resist anything except temptation.'' Temptation is hard for us to resist. The devil knows where you're weak, and the devil will tempt you where you're weak.

 

Dear God, lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Amen!

Friday, October 30th, 2020

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalm 23.

 

David, the human author, was a shepherd in his youth. However, he writes it from the perspective of sheep grazing and gazing at their caring shepherd. The psalm moves from victories to valleys and spans all of life, from the womb to the tomb. Let’s put the sermon into a sentence: If you want the calm of this psalm, you must become one of Shepherd’s sheep. I see three main activities of the Shepherd: The Shepherd Provides, Protects, and Preserves.

 

The Shepherd Provides

1. Relationship (1a). God provides for us through a relationship.

2. Replenishment (1b). When you have a relationship with the Shepherd, He will replenish you so you can say: “I shall not want.” Left to themselves, sheep lack everything but with a good shepherd they have everything they need. When we have the Lord, we lack nothing.

3. Rest (2). After providing us with a relationship and replenishment, our Shepherd gives us rest in verse 2: “He makes me lie down in green pastures…” Notice He “makes” me lie down. To “lie down” conveys a sense of rest, safety, and security. I’m reminded of Psalm 4:8: “In peace, I will lie down to sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

4. Restoration (3a). The fourth way the Shepherd provides is found in the first part of verse 3. Because sheep are careless, curious creatures, they often need to be restored. To “restore” means to “bring back to a former or normal state, to renew or revive.”

5. Righteousness (3b). The fifth way the Shepherd provides is found in verse 3. After dusting us off, He sends us in the right direction: “He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

Jesus is the fulfillment of these shepherd texts. He is God in the flesh, coming to gather his people and shepherd them for all eternity: he knows his sheep, protects his sheep, and provides for his sheep.

Dear God, our eternal shepherd, we come guidance and protection as we gather under your wings. Lead us, guide us, protect us, and give us rest and peace. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen!

Thursday, October 29th, 2020

 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths. Proverbs 3: 5-6.

 

Trust in God is the most fundamental and important part of our faith journey. In fact, Trust is the practical functioning of our Faith. Faith is needed but faith without complete Trust in God is of no value. The scripture has a countless number of stories and situations where people and communities have expressed their complete trust in God in all circumstances of their lives. Proverbs 3: 5-6 calls us to trust in God completely – with our whole heart and not to rely on our own insight and understanding. We live in a society and culture that underscores the importance of trusting our own instincts and judgment. We often hear common sayings like the following:

Follow your heart!, Trust in yourself!, Listen to your heart!

All these saying are contrary to what the scripture is saying: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding”. This is a challenge and a call, that each of us face in our day to day lives. Therefore, we need to train ourselves in trusting in the power and guidance of God even as we begin each day. Trust is something we exercise every moment of our lives. Each time we get into our cars we don’t doubt whether it will run or not, we just start and take off. We trust the prescriptions, we trust the building we live, we trust the pilot of the planes we travel, and so on. We trust all the time, knowingly or unknowingly. But when it comes to trusting God sometimes we fail to do it completely. I am sure you all must have heard the story of a famous acrobat and tightrope walker: 

 

“Blondin was a 19th-century acrobat, famous for his tightrope act 160 feet above Niagra Falls on a rope which was over a thousand feet long. In 1860 a Royal party from Britain saw Blondin cross the tightrope on stilts and again blindfolded. After that, he stopped halfway and cooked and ate an omelet. Next, he wheeled a wheelbarrow from one side to the other and returned with a sack of potatoes in it. Then Blondin approached the Royal party. He asked the Duke of Newcastle, "Do you believe I could take a man across the tightrope in this wheelbarrow?" "Yes, I do", said the Duke. "Hop in, then", replied Blondin. Well, the Duke declined Blondin's challenge. He might have believed Blondin could do it, but he wasn't about to trust him with his life”. 

(Found this illustration at http://www.edginet.org/christian/sermons/prov3.html)

 

Dear friends, “trust in the Lord with all your heart; lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him; and he will make your paths straight”. It is my hope and prayer for all of us that we exercise this kind of complete trust in our own lives. Amen!

Wednesday, October 28th, 2020

 

Greetings my Dear Church! I hope and pray you are all doing well and staying safe. Together with the rest of humanity, we are battling another wave of the virus spike around the world. Over 226,000 people have already died in our country with over 70,000 new cases every day. This calls us to be even more careful and prayerful. We as a nation are also getting ready for an election, please pray and let our vote count. Pray for the increasing number of people struggling financially, with serious health issues. Pray for our schools and the healthcare workers and first responders. Pray for our church too! I recently read a prayer by Aaron Brown that I am going to share with you all today. May our loving God be with you all!

 

 A Prayer for Peace

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4: 7

 

God,

The world around me is filled with suffering. My nation is under attack from within. Everyone seems to hate those who disagree with them. I’m afraid to speak my mind for fear of rejection or retaliation. Even in churches, belief in a political figure has seemed to replace belief in our Savior.

This election year has proven to be scary. People are being arrested, others are dying. I honestly feel very overwhelmed. My heart aches from worry and I don’t know how to support others. Not when I can’t even find peace in myself.

The pandemic has caused a lot of death globally. Many people are still living under lockdown restrictions, some businesses have closed, people are struggling. Like so many, I wonder when life, or if life, will ever return to normal.

Many of our children are enrolled in online schooling, trying their best to get an education. Yet, they lack in-person interactions, and many are struggling to learn in this new way. I don’t want them to get sick or anyone else, but nothing seems to be going right.

The thought of tomorrow scares me. I can barely handle today.

Despite my struggles, I know the Bible speaks of perfect peace that only you can grant us, a peace that no person can comprehend. This peace comforts us in spite of the turmoil surrounding us or the struggle we feel within. God, please fill me with that peace right now. I need you. Please don’t pass me by.

Please give me the clarity to see you working within the chaos so that I may find rest from the worrisome thoughts, knowing that you will handle tomorrow. And I can rest peacefully today.

Amen!

 

https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/prayer/powerful-prayers-for-better-days-ahead.html

 

 

 

20

September 5th, 2020

 

Seek the LORD and seek his strength; seek his face always. Psalm 105: 4

 

The Hebrew word for ‘seek out’ דִּרְשׁ֣וּ (dir·šū) means: To tread, frequent, to follow, to seek, ask, to worship. The psalmist is advising that our seeking of God’s strength and God’s countenance should be an ongoing thing in our lives to get through and survive all situations of life. He advises us that we put ourselves under the protection and gaze of our God always. I remember when our daughters were very young and started to walk and run around, their Mom’s gaze was always on her daughters, even while speaking with others. So also we can imagine the security we have in the gaze of our God.

 

Seek his face evermore. Seek, seek, seek, we have the word three times, and though the words differ in the Hebrew, the sense is the same. To seek God’s face is to desire God’s presence, his smile, his favor. First we seek him, then his strength and then his face; from the personal reverence, we pass on to the imparted power, and then to the conscious favor. This seeking must never cease -- the more we know the more we must seek to know. Finding him, we must "our minds inflame to seek him more and more." He seeks spiritual worshippers, and spiritual worshippers seek him.

 

Seek ye first the Kingdom of God
And His righteousness
And all these things shall be added unto you
Hallelu, Hallelujah!

 

Ask and it shall be given unto you
Seek and ye shall find
Knock and the door shall be opened unto you
Hallelu, Hallelujah!

 

Dear God, we seek you, we seek your strength and we seek your face. Let your light shine on us and lead us through the valleys of this world and gives us strength for the journey. In Jesus name we pray. Amen!

Friday, September 4th, 2020

 

Test me, O LORD, and try me; examine my heart and mind. Psalm 26: 2

 

Examinations of any kind are dreadful and sometimes scary. Some children and students dread examinations, young drivers who for the very first time go for their driver's tests or older people with a little bit of sight problems dread to go for drivers tests. Imagine if we are required to take a test on our spirituality and Christian life and our knowledge of the scripture – that would not be a happy thing. In the scripture above from Psalm 26, we see David approaching God and requesting a test – a test about his heart and mind. It requires a lot of confidence and integrity in oneself to approach God and ask: “Test me, O LORD, and try me; examine my heart and mind.” David asks the most careful scrutiny of his life, intentions, and his spirituality. He asks the LORD to do it because he might be wrong or partial in assessing his life and soul.

 

Three words are used to express the thoroughness of the scrutiny. Examine me, as the refiner does to his metal to test its fineness and strength; prove me, by bringing me into circumstances in which the reality of my faith may be demonstrated; try me, as the refiner smelts gold to get rid of any remaining junk.

 

Any examination will have results both positive and negative or pass or fail. But to be examined is important. If we pass its fine, if we fail, we will have opportunities to do better next time. To be conscious of one's error is the first step necessary to avoid repeating it. It is the same with our spiritual lives too!

 

Dear God, we come to you today asking: Test me and try me; examine my heart and mind. Refine us and let us shine and reflect your glory through our lives. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen!

Thursday, September 3rd, 2020

 

Carry one another's burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6: 2

 

Seeking Happiness

The Story:

There were 200 people attending a seminar on mental and physical health. At one point, the speaker told the group they were going to do an activity. He gave each attendee one balloon and told them to write their name on it. Then, the balloons were collected and moved into a very small room.

The participants were then asked to go into the other room and were given 2 minutes to find their balloon.

It was chaos. People were searching frantically for their balloon, pushing each other and running into one another while they grabbed a balloon, looked at it, and inevitably tossed it to the side.

At the end of the 2 minutes, no one had found the balloon that had their name on it.

Then, the speaker asked the participants to go back into the room and pick up one balloon at random, look at the name, and return it to its owner. Within minutes, everyone had been reunited with their original balloon.

The speaker then told the group, “This is what it’s like when people are frantically searching for their own happiness in life. People push others aside to get the things that they want that they believe will bring them happiness. However, our happiness actually lies in helping other people and working together as a community.”

 

The Moral:

You will get your happiness if you help other people find theirs. Helping others makes us happy because it gives us a sense of purpose. Helping others brings us happiness for three reasons:

Diversion: When you worry less about your own needs–in this case, finding your own balloon–the stress of that hunt decreases. The feeling of compassion replaces the feeling of need.

Perspective: Having concern for other people helps us remember that we are all facing similar problems in life–no matter what the individual severity of the issue is. Having compassion helps us put our problems into perspective.

Connection: Connecting with others by helping them can bring happiness into your life. Humans are social beings that need to have positive connections with other people in order to be happy. Connecting with other people enriches our lives and gives us a sense of fulfillment.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, lead us and guide us to be compassionate and kind to share the burdens of others and to find ways of helping each other. We thank you for your Son Jesus Christ who took on our burdens to the Cross. In His name, we pray. Amen!

 

https://www.developgoodhabits.com/inspirational-stories/#17_Just_Be

September 2nd, 2020

1 Nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee! 
E'en though it be a cross That raiseth me, 
still, all my song shall be, 
nearer, my God, to thee; 
nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee!

 

2 Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down, 
darkness be over me, my rest a stone; 
yet in my dreams, I'd be nearer, my God, to thee; 
nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee!

 

3 There let the way appear, steps unto heaven; 
all that thou sendest me, in mercy given; 
angels to beckon me nearer, my God, to thee; 
nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee!

 

4 Then, with my waking thoughts bright with thy praise, 
out of my stony griefs Bethel I'll raise; 
so by my woes to be nearer, my God, to thee; 
nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee!

 

5 Or if, on joyful wing cleaving the sky, 
sun, moon, and stars forgot, upward I fly, 
still, all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to thee; 
nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee!

 

Adams, Sarah, nee Flower. born at Harlow, Essex, Feb. 22nd, 1805; died in London, Aug. 14, 1848, and was buried at Harlow, Aug. 21, 1848. She was the younger daughter of Mr. Benjamin Flower, editor, and proprietor, of The Cambridge Intelligencer; and was married, in 1834, to William B. Adams, a civil engineer.

This hymn is about the joy and comfort found in being close to God. The first stanza introduces the theme of the hymn, with the repeated phrase “Nearer, my God, to thee.” The second through fourth stanzas are based on the story of Jacob and the ladder to heaven, found in Genesis 28:10-22. God's close connection to Jacob in this story is seen as a way of relief from the darkness (st. 2) and “stony griefs” (st. 4) of his human journey. The last stanza looks forward to the time when we will come to stand before God in eternal song.

Since the music and text were paired together, the hymn has been featured in many television shows and movies. Perhaps the most famous is 1997’s Titanic, in a scene that is said to mirror the actual event of the ship's band playing “Nearer, My God, to Thee,” while the Titanic was sinking.

https://hymnary.org/text/nearer_my_god_to_thee_nearer_to_thee_een

September 1st, 2020

 

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6:25-27

 

The Weight of the World

The Story:

Once, a psychology professor walked around his classroom full of students holding a glass of water with his arm straightened out to the side. He asked his students, “How heavy is this glass of water?” The students started to shout out guesses–ranging anywhere from 4 ounces to one pound. The professor replied, “The absolute weight of this glass isn’t what matters while I’m holding it. Rather, it’s the amount of time that I hold onto it that makes an impact. If I hold it for, say, two minutes, it doesn’t feel like much of a burden. If I hold it for an hour, its weight may become more apparent as my muscles begin to tire. If I hold it for an entire day–or week–my muscles will cramp and I’ll likely feel numb or paralyzed with pain, making me feel miserable and unable to think about anything aside from the pain that I’m in.

In all of these cases, the actual weight of the glass will remain the same, but the longer I clench onto it, the heavier it feels to me and the more burdensome it is to hold.

The class understood and shook their heads in agreement. The professor continued to say, “This glass of water represents the worries and stresses that you carry around with you every day.  If you think about them for a few minutes and then put them aside, it’s not a heavy burden to bear. If you think about them a little longer, you will start to feel the impacts of the stress. If you carry your worries with you all day, you will become incapacitated, prohibiting you from doing anything else until you let them go.” Don’t carry your worries around with you everywhere you go, as they will do nothing but bring you down. Put down your worries and stressors. Don’t give them your entire attention while your life is passing you by.

 

The Moral:

Let go of things that are out of your control. Don’t carry your worries around with you everywhere you go, as they will do nothing but bring you down. Put your “glass down” each night and move on from anything that is unnecessarily stressing you out. Don’t carry this extra weight into the next day.

 

Dear God, into your hands we submit all our worries and anxieties. We submit to you our problems, our challenges, our sicknesses, and our troubles today. Help us let go of worries that we have held onto for a long time. If it your will, grant us grace and lighten our burdens. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen!

 

To hear Bishop Sally Dyck’s message for this week, please click the following link:

https://myemail.constantcontact.com/Bishop-Dyck-s-Monday-Message---Make-summer-s-end-count-.html?soid=1101858679078&aid=GjEZjFPs2lY

 

https://www.developgoodhabits.com/inspirational-stories/

August 31st, 2020

 

Gracious God, source of all wisdom and knowledge, we come to today, teach us how to live by your grace. We also thank you for people through whom you give us wisdom. Help us also to be sources of the good and wise counsel to others in this world. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.

 

April 15th marked the birthday of the amazing woman, Corrie ten Boom. At the age of 91, on that very same date in 1983, she also passed into Heaven’s gates. According to Jewish custom, celebrating the same day for both birth and death is the unique sign of a very special individual. Her deep wisdom came with the cost of journeying through great pain in this life. The ten Boom family were Dutch Christians who helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust of WWII. When their home was raided after an informant tipped off the Nazis of their activities, the entire family was imprisoned. Corrie and her sister were sent to a notorious Nazi concentration camp. She was miraculously released from prison just days after her sister had died there. God brought incredible beauty and healing through her difficult experiences, and her words still have great relevance and impact in our world today.

 

Powerful Quotes from Corrie Ten Boom:

"You can never learn that Christ is all you need until Christ is all you have."

"Love is larger than the walls which shut it in."

“You will find it is necessary to let things go, simply for the reason that they are too heavy.”

“You can never learn that Christ is all you need until Christ is all you have.”

“Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”

“Happiness isn’t something that depends on our surroundings…it’s something we make inside ourselves.”

“Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?”

“In darkness, God’s truth shines most clear.” 

"If God sends us on stony paths, he provides strong shoes."

"Worry is like a rocking chair: it keeps you moving but doesn't get you anywhere."

“Let God's promises shine on your problems.”

 

To read more, follow the link:

https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/inspiring-quotes/40-powerful-quotes-from-corrie-ten-boom.html

 

August 30th, 2020

 

 “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10)

 

ACCEPTING OTHERS

 

Story…

Paul Tournier was a brilliant thinker and writer, and an influential Christian therapist during his time. Doctors from around the world traveled to his home in Switzerland to learn from him. He wrote, “It is a little embarrassing for students to come over and study my ‘techniques.’ They always go away disappointed, because all I do is accept people.”

 

Point…

Accepting is not the same as approving, condoning, or even tolerating bad behavior. Acceptance is an act of the heart in which we recognize that, despite someone’s behavior, he or she has value in God’s sight, and we honor that. But this can be a hard thing to do! There are many ways to communicate acceptance to people. One of them is to listen to them with patience and compassion and receive them with love in the name of Jesus. Another is to refrain from mental condemnation and judgments, from constantly evaluating and analyzing (those things keep us from loving). We must take captive those thoughts of condemnation toward others, and submit to God. As we draw near to Him, we ask Him to love through us.

 

Dear God, we thank you for our family, our community, and our church. Help us accept each other as we are all made in your image. We pray for our country and our society that is battling all kinds of divisions and discriminations against each other. Help us to live as channels of your love and grace. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen!

https://www.therocketcompany.com/10-new-preaching-stories/#:~:text=%2010%20New%20Preaching%20Stories%20You%20Can%20Use,the%20family%20home%20when%20he%20came...%20More%20

August 29th, 2020

 

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

 

Psalm 34 reflects the lives and experiences of the countless number of men and women and children over the centuries. This reflects one of the most vulnerable of human moments. Several times and on several phases of life, it is natural and sometimes forced upon that sadness and deep brokenness and anxiety settle into a person’s mind, heart, and soul. It will be very difficult to shrug off these feelings and on the other hand, they might become stronger and take control of one’s life. In several occasions, the despair within continues and hangs on, despite the care and love offered by others.

 

In our world today there are a number of people who are alone walking through these darkest valleys of life. God’s Word says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). Someone once asked, what was God doing when you were weeping? God was weeping too! Today my friend if you or any others you know are going through these valleys, let us remind ourselves that God is with us, the promises of God are with us and the LORD carries us through these dark and painful valleys of life. God does not want our spirits to be crushed or broken. If we experience these conditions in life remember that the LORD is close to the brokenhearted and helps those who are crushed in spirit. Let God enter and fill your hearts and lives, now and always.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, we come to you with our flaws and our needs. Fill us, strengthen us, and enlighten us. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen!

August 28th, 2020

 

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters. Psalm 24:1-2

 

All creatures of our God and King, 
lift up your voice and with us sing 
alleluia, alleluia! 
Thou burning sun with golden beam, 
thou silver moon with softer gleam, 
O praise him, O praise him, 
alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

 

The Lyrics to “All Creatures of Our God and King” Are 800 Years Old

St. Francis of Assisi, who was born in 1181 in what is now Italy, is credited with the lyrics to “All Creatures of Our God and King.” The lyrics are adapted from “The Canticle of the Sun” (Canticum Solis), a poem he wrote during the last year of his life. Written at a time when he was weak and struggled with periods of temporary blindness, St. Francis wished to express the unity he felt with nature and the feelings of peace he experienced as his earthly life drew to a close.

 

Nearly 700 years after the death of St. Francis of Assisi, in 1906, music editor Ralph Vaughan Williams published the version of “All Creatures of Our God and King” that we know today. It first appeared in the English Hymnal for the Church of England and was later added to the LDS hymnbook.

 

Let all things their Creator bless,
and worship him in humbleness,
O praise him, alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
and praise the Spirit, three in one, 
O praise him, O praise him, 
alleluia, alleluia, alleluia! Amen!

 

https://hymnary.org/text/all_creatures_of_our_god_and_king

https://www.thetabernaclechoir.org/articles/all-creatures-of-our-god-and-king.html

August 27th, 2020

 

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Genesis 1: 2

 

This verse from the story of Creation in the book of Genesis always intrigues and captivates my attention and leads me to a strange image of the earth and all that existed before creation. The verse says there was no form, everything was empty and there was intense darkness over the deep – the abyss. My imagination fascinates me as well as scares me too! But the second part of the verse brings hope and courage when it says that the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters, over the dark abyss! And we know that this very same Spirit of God brought in order, beauty, and rhythm into existence. It is the very Spirit of God that rectified the deep disorders of nature. The Spirit of God brought forth energy, life, and motion into existence – there was this new creation!

 

Human life – its heart, its soul, and spirit sometimes experiences a state of chaos resembling and reflecting the deep darkness, emptiness, and nothingness. Several of us go through these periods of deep ambiguity and intrigue in our lives at some point or the other. We float around in our own dark abyss when we encounter chaos and anxieties and worries of sorts that are a result of the self or the doings of others in our lives. But we need to remember that even in those of times the Spirit of God is and will be hovering over us, waiting to do a new creation. Waiting to bring order, harmony, and beauty in our lives. The Spirit of God is close to those who are broken-hearted. The Spirit of God journeys with us and carries and sustains us when the going gets tough.

 

Let us pray,

Spirit Of The Living God,
Fall Afresh On Me.

Spirit Of The Living God,
Fall Afresh On Me.

Melt Me, Mold Me,
Fill Me, Use Me,

Spirit Of The Living God,
Fall Afresh On Me. Amen!

August 26th, 2020

 

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

 

“Facing Fear! Trusting God!” and it is based on 2 Timothy 1:7, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”  This verse is powerful because in it God tells us that we do not have to be afraid. In reality, we live and co-exist with fears, worries, and troubles of different kinds. God tells us not to be afraid but what about sickness?  What about death?  What about terrorism?  What about the economy?  What about my job?  What about my house?  What about my family? The list could go on and on because there is no limit to situations that tempt us to be afraid.  While all of these things are important, none of these situations mentioned or not mentioned is cause for the Christian to fear. In Timothy’s case, it was the fear of an unknown future that did not include Paul helping him in the ministry.  Paul wrote this letter to Timothy shortly before he was executed for preaching the necessity of faith in Jesus Christ. Timothy, no doubt, was fearful of losing his father in the faith, Paul.  He was afraid of ending up in a prison similar to Paul and afraid of receiving the same sentence of death as Paul.  Timothy felt as if he had much to fear.  Like Timothy, when I decided to join the ministry, the only fear I had was one of my limitations. As a young boy, I had a fear of public speaking and stage fear, I feared this would be a big problem if I become a minister. I had several sleepless nights thinking if I made a mistake. Several people including my parents and especially the words of Paul as we heard today, reminded and encouraged me not to fear for these things. By God’s grace I overcame tis fear and today I can boldly stand up and speak and preach. Paul writes to Timothy, speaking the truth in love (Eph 4:15), to tell him that the fear he is experiencing is not from God therefore it must be resisted.

 

Heavenly Father, we come to you with our weaknesses and fears. Help us and strengthen us. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen!

August 25, 2020

 

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4: 29

 

I tell you, on the Day of Judgment, people will give account for every careless word they speak. Matthew 12: 36

 

Choose Your Words Wisely:

Once upon a time, an old man spread rumors that his neighbor was a thief. As a result, the young man was arrested. Days later the young man was proven innocent. After being released, the man felt humiliated as he walked to his home. He sued the old man for wrongly accusing him.

In court, the old man told the Judge, “They were just comments, didn’t Harm anyone..” The judge, before passing sentence on the case, told the old man, “Write all the things you said about him on a piece of paper. Cut them up and on the way home, throw the pieces of paper out. Tomorrow, come back to Hear the sentence”.

The next day, the judge told the old man, “Before receiving the sentence, you will have to go out and gather all the pieces of paper that you threw out yesterday”. The old man said, “I can’t do that! The wind must have spreads them and I won’t know where to find them”.

The judge then replied, “The same way, simple comments may destroy the honor of a man to such an extent that one is not able to fix it. The old man realized his mistake and asked for forgiveness”.

 

Moral: Do not malignant or blame anyone without knowing the fact or the truth. Your words may ruin someone’s reputation without any fault of theirs.

 

Gracious God, may the words of my mouth and the thoughts and meditations of my heart are acceptable to you. In Christ’s name, I pray. Amen!

August 24, 2020

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8: 12

 

Dear Friends, let us begin by reminding ourselves and singing that, “Jesus is the light of the world”. Those who were walking in darkness have seen a great light.

 

John Henry Newman was 33 years old when he found himself on a boat from the Sicilian city of Palermo to Marseille, France. Newman, who was recovering after being dangerously ill with a fever, was on the boat to return to his native England when he penned the lyrics to “Lead, Kindly Light.”

The context that Newman was recovering from a frightening illness in the middle of the sea gives insight into the lyrics:

 

Lead, kindly Light, amid th'encircling gloom; Lead thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home; Lead thou me on!
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene—one step enough for me.

 

Newman faced much adversity in his life. In 1816 his father’s bank was shut down as a result of the financial collapse that followed the Napoleonic Wars. In 1821 nervousness and anxiety caused him to graduate with third-class honors. Then, in 1828, his sister suddenly passed away as his family continued to struggle financially. Newman would overcome his challenges and eventually become an important religious leader in England.

 

Dear God, help us to walk in your light and help us to live as children of light. Bring your divine light to the dark corners of our hearts and lives and lead us on. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen!

August 23, 2020

 

Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Matthew 25:44

 

Little Boy’s Meeting with God:

There once was a little boy who wanted to meet God. He knew it was a long trip to where God lived, so he packed his suitcase with Twinkies and a six-pack of root beer and started his journey. When he had gone about three blocks, he met an old woman. She was sitting in the park just staring at some pigeons.

The boy sat down next to her and opened his suitcase. He was about to take a drink from his root beer when he noticed that the old lady looked hungry, so he offered her a Twinkie. She gratefully accepted it and smiled at him. Her smile was so pretty that the boy wanted to see it again, so he offered her a root beer. Once again she smiled at him. The boy was delighted! They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they never said a word.

As it grew dark, the boy realized how tired he was, and he got up to leave but before he had gone more than a few steps, he turned around, ran back to the old woman, and gave her a hug. She gave him her biggest smile ever. When the boy opened the door to his own house a short time later, his mother was surprised by the look of joy on his face. She asked him, “What did you do today that made you so happy?” He replied, “I had lunch with God.” But, before his mother could respond, he added, “You know what? She’s got the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen!”

Meanwhile, the old woman, also radiant with joy, returned to her home. Her son was stunned by the look of peace on her face and he asked, “Mother, what did you do today that made you so happy?” She replied, “I ate Twinkies in the park with God.” But, before her son responded, she added, “You know, he’s much younger than I expected.”

 

Moral: God is everywhere.  We just need to share our happiness and make others smile to feel him.

 

Dear God, help us to recognize you as you visit us. Help us to accept and care for all people, especially those in need. Help us to live as channels of your presence in this world. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen!

August 22, 2020

 

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” Ephesians 4:31

 

A kindergarten teacher had decided to let her class play a game. The teacher told each child in the class to bring along a plastic bag containing a few potatoes. Each potato will be given the name of a person that the child hates. So the number of potatoes that a child will put in his/her plastic bag will depend on the number of people he/she hates.

So when the day came, every child brought some potatoes with the name of the people he/she hated. Some had 2 potatoes, some 3 while some up to 5 potatoes. The teacher then told the children to carry the potatoes in the plastic bag with them wherever they go for 1 week. Days after days passed, and the children started to complain due to the unpleasant smell let out by the rotten potatoes. Besides, those having 5 potatoes also had to carry heavier bags. After 1 week, the children were relieved because the game had finally ended.

 

The teacher asked: “How did you feel while carrying the potatoes with you for 1 week?” The children let out their frustrations and started complaining of the trouble that they had to go through having to carry the heavy and smelly potatoes wherever they go.

Then the teacher told them the hidden meaning behind the game. The teacher said: “This is exactly the situation when you carry your hatred for somebody inside your heart. The stench of hatred will contaminate your heart and you will carry it with you wherever you go. If you cannot tolerate the smell of rotten potatoes for just 1 week, can you imagine what is it like to have the stench of hatred in your heart for your lifetime?”

 

Moral: Throw away any hatred for anyone from your heart so that you will not carry the burden for a lifetime. Forgiving others is the best attitude to take. Negativity about someone will keep peace of mind away from you. Remember the good things about him/her, and let go of the hatred.

 

Gracious God, we come to you to help us clear the clutter of our lives. We have stored up bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice in our hearts and minds. Clear us, cleanse us and help us to live as channels of your grace and mercy. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

 

August 21, 2020

 

Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8

 

The Cracked Pot

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years, this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments and for being perfect. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you”.  The bearer asked, “Why? What are you ashamed of?”  The Pot replied, “For these past two years I am able to deliver only half of my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you don’t get full value for your efforts”.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion, he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.”  As they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wildflowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it somewhat.  But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”

 

Moral: Each of us has our own unique flaws.  We’re all cracked pots.  In this world, nothing goes to waste.  You may think like the cracked pot that you are inefficient or useless in certain areas of your life, but somehow these flaws can turn out to be a blessing in disguise.”

 

You, O LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Help us and use us with all our imperfections to bring glory to you. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen!

August 20, 2020

 

“I should like you to be free of anxieties.” 1 Corinthians 7:32a

 

Anxieties of every kind, worry, fear, and so on rule our lives in one way or the other. We feel anxious about doing something or going somewhere. Students are anxious during exams. Parents, especially today, are anxious and do worry about their children going back to schools during this COVID-19 days. People worry to go for shopping. Around the nation, there is a lot of anxiety about the upcoming election. We are anxious about our finances, health, and security. Anxieties and worries of different kinds have been controlling people’s lives greatly. This is also evident as animals and our pets also show the struggle with anxieties and fears of different kinds. Our little Archie has shown that he is going through periods of anxiety and fear recently. He is afraid of thunders and garbage trucks, otherwise, he is a happy and silly puppy. During his episodes of anxiety, we try to carry and hug him but he tries to hide in a corner whenever he hears the garbage truck. Friends at church suggested that we get the anxiety vests. As some of us know, anxiety Vests for Dog or Anxiety wraps are vest-like garments designed to calm anxious dogs. The vests work under the theory that pressure applied to the dog’s torso causes a calming effect similar to swaddling a crying infant or hugging a distressed person. They have already helped millions of dogs and cats, and is proven to be over 80% effective in calming during fireworks, thunderstorms, travel, vet visits, separation anxiety, and more!  

 

Scripture reminds us that there is a very real sense in which we Christians have a professional worrier who will take all our worries and concerns-God himself. Scripture reminds us that God wraps us like an anxiety vest during times of anxiousness and fear. Jesus informs us that we’re not to be worrying people: “I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matt 7:35-34). God tells us that he is more than willing to take all our worry and concern: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Pet 5:6-7).

 

Dear God, we come to you as we are. We come to you with all our anxieties and fears. Help us and guide us and embrace us to experience your grace and mercy in our lives. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen!

August 19, 2020

Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city.  When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. Acts 1:12-14

In the late ’80s after my BSc in Science, I was in deep personal struggle regarding my education. On one hand, I was preparing to join Medicine and on the other hand, my heart was telling me to choose theological education toward becoming a priest/pastor to serve all God’s people. After months of struggle, one October evening in 1990 a group of the youth fellowship folks from my church came to our parsonage. I later came to know that my mother invited them to come and support and pray for me. We had one of those ‘all night prayer’ times. Everyone was praying and interceding for me sincerely asking God to help me discern my next steps in life. By then I was already shadowing the local doctor and was also able to give shots to patients too! And I was also following my dad’s assistant pastor and another ‘bible woman’ – an elderly lady who used to visit patients and others and watch her pray and minister to them. The morning after the youth prayer meeting I felt some kind of clarity in purpose and the next day I told my parents that I am ready for seminary, even with all the weaknesses and limitations, I have. Those I will discuss in another meditation! Today as I was reading Acts 1:12-14 and the disciples praying for one another, my own experience came to my mind. Praying for one another is a very important Christian practice. For those who are sick, weak, and struggling for various reasons, the prayers of people can work wonders. I am so glad to be a partner of our own prayer team who constantly prays for others. One of the important teachings of Jesus is that of the importance of praying and interceding for others.

Dear God, today I come to you praying and interceding for all those struggling in life. I pray for the sick. I pray for the homeless and hungry. I pray for the elderly. I pray for those who lost a loved one. I pray for our children and all the students and their teachers. I pray for the seminary students and pastors. I pray for the doctors, nurses, and other medical staff. I pray for the grocery and post office clerks. I pray for our country and its leaders. I pray for our church and leadership. I ask for your grace and mercy in their lives. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

August 18, 2020

 

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. Psalm 145: 3

 

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Refrain:
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!
Refrain
When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.
Refrain
And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.
Refrain
When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!"
Refrain

 

A British minister, Stuart K. Hine, contributed heavily to the version of “How Great Thou Art” that we are familiar with today. However, the original text came from a Swedish preacher, Carl Boberg, who wrote his lyrics after a unique experience on the southeast coast of Sweden. Boberg's inspiration for "How Great Thou Art" came from a visit to a beautiful country estate on the southeast coast of Sweden. He got caught in a midday thunderstorm with awe-inspiring moments of flashing violence, followed by a clear brilliant sun. Soon afterward he heard the calm, sweet songs of the birds in nearby trees." The experience prompted Boberg to "fall to his knees in humble adoration of his mighty God."

https://www.christianmusicandhymns.com/2016/08/how-great-thou-art.html

https://www.thetabernaclechoir.org/articles/how-great-thou-art.html

 

Dear God, in the midst of the storms of our lives we come to you singing: Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee, How great Thou art, How great Thou art. Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee, How great Thou art, How great Thou art! Amen.
 

August 17, 2020

 

The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2

 

David was a man of songs. In all situations in life, in times of joy and in times of crisis and trouble he had a song on his lips. In Psalm 18: 2, as Saul was chasing him and trying to kill, David escaped and hid in a cave and the following words became a composition of a beautiful song praising God. Someone once said, “To be people of praise, we must come to the end of ourselves, flee to God as our refuge, and express it to Him in song.” In this single short verse, David brings to surface the multiple facets and promises of God’s protection and guidance in times of trouble. He says the LORD is a Rock, a Fortress, and a Place of Refuge, a Shield, Horn of Salvation, and a Stronghold. This one verse offers God’s multiple promises. These promises are for you and me too! It is for us to claim in times of challenges and trying times. We all are living in challenging times, the children are getting ready or have already started schools, let us surrender ourselves to our God who is our rock and fortress.

 

Heavenly Father, the rock of ages, we come to you and surrender ourselves unto your guidance and protection. We pray for all the students, we pray for our elderly and those who are sick and weak. We pray for our church and for our nation. We pray for all our essential workers and caregivers. We praise you and glorify you, for you are our rock and our redeemer. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen!

August 16, 2020

 

If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 4:11

 

Peter is teaching the early church and to all of as well today. He is laying out a way Christians should extend love and genuine fellowship with one another. Like all other things we have in our lives, the gifts of speaking, sharing, and serving are also gifts bestowed upon us by God. Peter is reminding us that we need to use them on behalf of God, towards bringing glory to God’s name and to do these things with God’s strength and help. Dear friends, remember always, that when we speak words of comfort, encouragement with others, we are delivering God’s words. The challenge for us today is to see if our words and actions are in alignment with that of our God?

 

Dear God, may my words, and may my actions bring glory to your name. Help us and guide us. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen!

August 15th, 2020

 

As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, and cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. Matthew 10: 7-8.

 

As Christians, we all must have heard the phrase:  ‘Let your life be a sermon’. Also the famous saying by one of the greatest Christians in history, Francis of Assisi – ‘Preach always – if necessary use words’.

 

“Francis was born in 1182, the son of a wealthy cloth merchant. His early years were frivolous, but an experience of sickness and another military service were instrumental in leading him to reflect on the purpose of life. One day, in the church of San Damiano, he seemed to hear Christ saying to him, "Francis, repair my falling house." He took the words literally and sold a bale of silk from his father's warehouse to pay for repairs to the church of San Damiano. His father was outraged, and there was a public confrontation at which his father disinherited and disowned him, and he, in turn, renounced his father's wealth--one account says that he not only handed his father his purse, but also took off his expensive clothes, laid them at his father's feet, and walked away naked. He declared himself "wedded to Lady Poverty", renounced all material possessions, and devoted himself to serving the poor. In his day the most dreaded of all diseases was something known as leprosy. Francis cared for them, fed them, bathed their sores, and kissed them”.

http://satucket.com/lectionary/Francis_Assisi.htm

 

The Call and Commission of Jesus to proclaim the message of the Kingdom of God is still active for you and for me. Our lives in this often broken and chaotic world are to be like walking sermons. We need to be channels of healing, mercy, and grace. Preach always – if necessary use words!

 

Dear God, help us in our walk of life, help us in sharing you with others, bring peace into our hearts, and help us live as you want us to be. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen!

August 14, 2020

 

I need thee every hour, most gracious Lord

 

1 I need thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
no tender voice like thine can peace afford.

Refrain:
I need thee, O I need thee; every hour I need thee!
O bless me now, my Savior, I come to thee.

2 I need thee every hour, stay thou nearby;
temptations lose their power when Thou art nigh. [Refrain]

3 I need thee every hour, in joy or pain;
come quickly, and abide, or life is vain. [Refrain]

4 I need thee every hour; teach me thy will,
and thy rich promises in me fulfill. [Refrain]

 

The stanzas of this hymn were written by a housewife, Annie S. Hawks, in 1872. She belonged to the church where Robert Lowry was pastor, and she showed him her poem. Lowry wrote the lyrics of the refrain. When this hymn was first published in 1873, this Bible verse was included underneath the title: “Without me, ye can do nothing” (John 15:5 KJV). Each of the first four stanzas of this hymn dwells on a different facet of our dependence on God: our need for His peace, our inability to resist temptation alone, our need to find true meaning in life, and our desire to see God's promises fulfilled. The fifth stanza is an intense plea for God's presence.

 

“Annie Hawks was the mother of three children when the hymn for which she is best known was written. Annie later wrote, “I remember well the morning when in the midst of the daily cares of my home, I was so filled with the sense of the nearness of the Master, that wondering how one could live without him either in joy or pain, these words ‘I Need Thee Every Hour’ were ushered into my mind. The hymn was wafted out to the world on the wings of love and joy, rather than under the stress of great personal sorrow. It was not until long years after when the shadow of a great loss fell over the way that I understood something of the comforting in the words I have been permitted to write.”

https://www.thetabernaclechoir.org/articles/i-need-thee-every-hour.html

https://hymnary.org/text/i_need_thee_every_hour_most_gracious_lor

 

Dear Heavenly Father, I need thee, O I need thee; every hour I need thee!
O bless me now, my Savior, I come to thee. In Christ's name, I pray. Amen.

August 13th, 2020

Exodus 13:21

The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.

 

On their journey from slavery in Egypt to the promised land – a land filled with all good things, freedom, the Israelites were protected and guided along the way by the gracious presence of God. What a great way of traveling. What a great way of starting something new in life, and what a great way of traveling in our life and faith journey. What a great picture of God’s loving leadership and guidance in the life of his people. He doesn’t leave them to just figure this thing out on their own. He personally provides direction, and guidance, and where to go, when to go there. Several of our children and students have started or preparing for a new school year in these uncertain and scary COVID 19 days. We commit them to our living God's grace and protection.

 

Dear God, we pray for all the students and children who are starting their new school year. By your grace and mercy, protect them from all dangers. Give them good health and happiness. Grant them wisdom and knowledge. We also pray for the teachers and mentors, and all those who are working to keep the children safe. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

August 12th, 2020

 

                                            Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. Psalm 119:105

Yesterday's storms and the wind have caused widespread damage to the homes, roads, and power lines in all it's the path. Several of us have power outage since then. The Electric company workers and city workers are trying to fix it through the night. Most of our neighborhoods were and still are in the dark. We had to navigate through the darkness and with the help of flashlights etc. The scripture constantly reminds us of the importance of light in our life. The Word of God illumines our lives and the path we take. Today is a good day to have the Word of God - Jesus brings light and hopes to the dark areas of our lives. Also do pray for all those affected by the storms of life, and prayers for all the helpers and workers. Pray for all the neighbors helping neighbors. 

 

Dear God, we lift up in our prayers all those affected by the storms and for all the essential workers who are trying to keep us safe and comfortable. We also pray for all those who are wandering in the dark places in their lives, bring your divine light over them and drive away all the spiritual forces of evil. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen!

August 10, 2020


Psalm 1

 

1 Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.

4 Not so the wicked!
    They are like chaff
    that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

 

Psalm 1 is usually referred to as the wisdom psalm calling out people to choose the ways of righteousness in order to be blessed. It also reminds of the wretched conditions on the path of unrighteousness. Psalm 1 also calls us toward the centrality of God’s Word to the life of every believer I order to be fruitful. Today, we have these two ways, which path do we choose?

 

Dear God, help us to choose the path of righteousness, help us to overcome our weaknesses, and help us to be fruitful and faithful. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen!

August 9th, 2020

 

One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. Psalm 27: 4

 

Psalm 74 is believed to be written by David during one of the tumultuous times in his life. He was interceding and pouring out his heart and mind to God pleading that he finds refuge from the storms of his life in the divine sanctuary or in the presence of God. This is a very powerful and compelling verse. The words: ‘one thing I ask of the LORD’. Think about it, in your life, if you can have anything and given a chance to ask one thing, what would you ask for? Or what would I ask for? Let us be honest with ourselves – what is that one thing we desire to have in our lives? David wanted to dwell in the house of God – in the presence of the divine. He wanted to be in the house of God, to gaze upon the beauty of the divine. He found safety and security in the presence of God. He found his purpose and his goal in the sacred presence of God. He found healing and restoration. He found the fulfillment of life in the presence of God. ‘One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple’.

 

What do you want in life today?

 

Dear God, help us to seek your presence and gaze upon your grace and mercy. Help us to approach you with all sincerity and dedication. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen!

 

 

August 8, 2020

 

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like the cedars of Lebanon. 

Psalm 92: 12

 

The Bible mentions several species of plants and trees. If we try to find about the Cedar tree, Cedar is mentioned throughout the Old Testament as an item of luxury and wealth. David used cedarwood in building his palace (2 Sam5: 11; 7:2), and it was also used in building the temple (1Kings 5:6; 2Kings 19:23), which was almost completely paneled with cedar (1Kings 6:6, 16, 18). Solomon used it in his Palace of the Forest of Lebanon, with cedar columns, beams, and roof (1Kings 7:2). It was also used in the construction of the second temple (Ezra 3:7). The abundance of cedar was seen as a sign of prosperity (1Kings 10:27). David and Solomon acquired their cedar from Hiram, king of Tyre, a city in Lebanon (1Chronicles 14:1) where the best cedar was to be found. The fact that God planted the cedars in Lebanon was a sign of His power and goodness (Psalm 29:5).

In biblical times the wood from a Cedar tree is considered to have special qualities like its aroma, its strength, and its resistance to bugs and decay. These qualities are believed to be gifts from God. It is also believed that all good gifts in creation are a precious gift from God. A good individual is compared with a Cedar tree. Even the scripture above reminds us that all the righteous are like the cedars of Lebanon. As we talk about Lebanon, I also want all of us to take some time and pray for the people of Lebanon today. As we heard there was a violent explosion in the center of Beirut, Lebanon this week. Several lost their lives and livelihoods, several got injured and maimed and left homeless. Let us pray for the people of Lebanon and all others in troubled states and countries. Let us pray for our own country and our community. 

 

Dear God, the giver of all good gifts, help us to live righteously, and live like Cedars of Lebanon in this world. We pray for the people of Lebanon and all those in areas of turmoil, conflict, disease, and need. Help us to be helpful to those in need. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.

August 7th, 2020

 

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

 

Whenever I approach the throne of Grace, whenever I come to o church or to God in my personal prayer time, the welcome words of Jesus ‘to come’ gives me confidence and I feel approaching God ‘just as I am’ at that point. In my daily approach to God the hymn, “Just As I Am’ has greatly impacted me from childhood. I sing and meditate on it very sincerely. Later in my life, I was able to find the story behind this inspiring and motivating hymn and it is profound and important for us to know about it.

“Just as I Am, Without One Plea” - Charlotte Elliott, UMH, No. 357

“Charlotte Elliott, a Victorian hymn writer, was born in the south London district of Clapham in 1789 and died in Brighton, England, in 1871. Her grandfather was a famous evangelical preacher. Her family, who belonged to the evangelical wing of the Anglican Church, taught her Christian piety. Elliott was a famous humorous poet during her youth. At the age of 32, she suffered from a serious illness that left her disabled for the rest of her life. Then her lifelong spiritual mentor César Malan, a Swiss minister and hymnologist, counseled her to replace her rage and inner conflict with peace, and simple faith in God; from that day on, she turned her literary talents to writing hymns. “Just as I Am, Without One Plea” was written in 1834 and first published in leaflet form in 1835. It was then published in the 1841 edition of The Invalid’s Hymn Book. In 1834, Elliott moved to Brighton and lived with her brother, the Rev. Henry Venn Elliott. One day when everyone in her family had gone to a church bazaar to raise funds for a charity school, Elliott was left alone, confined by her sickness. Though depressed with feelings of uselessness and loneliness, she recalled the message “Come to Christ just as you are,” which she had received from César Malan during the darkest period of her soul. She then overcame her distress to write this hymn. The repetition of the short line, “O Lamb of God, I come,” is a commitment to Jesus-centered life. Hymnologist J.R. Watson notes that there is a beautiful structure in this hymn, “from the nakedness of ‘Just as I am’ to the climax of ‘O Lamb of God, I come!’”

https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-just-as-i-am-comes-from-writers-struggle-with-confining-il

To listen or to prayerfully sing along, click the link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuNFAB4mTn8

 

Dear God, thank you for your unconditional welcome for me through your son Jesus. I come to you ‘just as I am’. Accept me, redeem me, heal me, and transform me. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen!

August 6th, 2020

 

The poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb, which he bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and his children. It would eat of his bread and drink of his cup and lie in his bosom, and was like a daughter to him. 2 Samuel 12:3

 

Many people across the world have pets in their homes. We find the presence of a cat or a dog, a hamster, or a turtle and some have aquariums with all sorts of fish and delicate plants and corals. I have also heard of people having pythons, lizards, rabbits, and I know of a young boy who collected earthworms and cockroaches and kept them in small boxes or cages. Every morning our street is busy and alive with people walking their dogs. The scripture quoted above is one of the most tender, caring, and affectionate story of a poor man who had a delicate lamb as his family pet. It says that the lamb ate and drank and lied in his bosom like a child. These days whenever I see our puppy Archie, this story comes to my mind. Archie invoked that affection in all of us by his looks, actions, and all his funny and silly activities. I also see the love and trust he has in all of us. Psalm 147: 9 tells us that God is concerned for all His creation, including the animals He created: “He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call.” In Psalm 104:21, we see that “the lions roar for their prey and seek their food from God”; it is implied that God feeds them. Also, in Luke 12: 6 Jesus says, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.” The story above also reminds us of the famous Psalm 23 which says that the LORD is our shepherd. If a human can love a pet so much, we can imagine the love of God for you and for me and the entire creation.

 

Dear God, we come to you our good shepherd. Thank you for your unconditional love and care for us. Thank you for sending your son Jesus Christ for me. Guide me and protect me. In the name of your son Jesus, we pray. Amen!

August 5th, 2020

 

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. 2 Corinthians 12:9

 

The words of St. Paul is directing us to something radical that is capable to transform our fundamental outlook of life, particularly life in Christ. Most biblical scholars believe that Paul had some form of physical ailment, or as he refers – a thorn, all his life. With his own experience, he is able to affirm that ‘the power of God is perfected in our weaknesses. Paul admits that he could not do anything on his own due to his limitations and thorns in his life. Each of us has ‘thorns’ of sorts in our lives too! Each of us shares in the weakness that Paul is referring to. The secret of Paul is that he admits that he is weak. The greatest struggle some of us face is to admit that we too are weak and vulnerable. In stubborn denial, we do not seek to be filled by the power of God. The power of God is perfected and unleashed in our weakness even as we submit and surrender our lives to God.  Our weakness can be a place where we can experience and participate in the power of God.

 

Dear God, we come to you with all our weaknesses and thorns in life. We ask that by your grace the power of Christ may dwell and be perfected in our lives. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen!

August 4th, 2020

 

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. Colossians 3:16

 

Our faith journey is strengthened and empowered by inspirational songs, hymns, and psalms. I recently read about the impact of the hymn, ‘Rock of Ages’. The story goes as follows:

“Onboard the ill-fated steamer Seawanhaka was one of the Fisk University singers. Before leaving the burning steamer and committing himself to the merciless waves, he carefully fastened upon himself and his wife's life preservers. Someone cruelly dragged away from that of his wife, leaving her without hope, except as she could cling to her husband. This she did, placing her hands firmly on his shoulders, and resting there until, her strength became exhausted, she said, "I can hold on no longer!" "Try a little longer," was the response of the wearied and agonized husband, "let us sing 'Rock of Ages.'" And as the sweet strains floated over the troubled waters, reaching the ears of the sinking and dying, little did they know, those sweet singers of Israel, whom they comforted. But, lo! as they sang, one after another of the exhausted ones were seen raising their heads above the overwhelming waves, joining with a last effort in the sweet, dying, pleading prayer, "Rock of Ages, cleft for me," etc. With the song seemed to come strength; another and yet another was encouraged to renewed effort. Soon in the distance, a boat was seen approaching! Could they hold out a little longer? Singing still, they tried, and soon with superhuman strength, laid hold of the lifeboat, upon which they were borne in safety to land. This is no fiction; it was related by the singer himself, who said he believed Toplady's sweet "Rock of Ages" saved many others besides himself and his wife.

https://biblehub.com/sermons/auth/baptist/saved_by_a_hymn.htm

 

Let us pray or sing:

Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood, From Thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure, Cleanse me from its guilt and power.

Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress; Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly; Wash me, Saviour, or I die!

While I draw this fleeting breath, When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown, See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee. Amen.

August 3rd, 2020

 

Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning. Luke 12:35

 

Get up, get ready, get dressed up – these are some common phrases and words we use every day. Parents use them all the time to get their children ready for school, or some outing or when it is time to go to church. Coaches remind the teams always with these words, they want the players to be ready all the time – to be ready for action. The scripture above is a call to get ready, to be dressed up with lamps burning to receive Christ. When we talk about Christ coming, we think about his second coming in glory and we don’t know when it will happen. But we often forget Christ also tells us that he comes to us always, sometimes in the form of a hungry person, or a homeless person with no clothes, sometimes as a sick or a person in prison. He also said that he will judge us by saying, ‘when I was hungry you fed me’ or when ‘I was naked you clothed me’. Are we ready and dressed up for this action? How well are we living out our commitment to Christ? Our life as a Christian is to be active and ready to make a difference in this world, to bring the light of God into this often dark world. Our actions should transform our everyday simple activities to glorify the name of God.

 

Dear God, thank you for a new day and new opportunities to live for you. Help us not to be passive and indifferent but to be ready and dressed up for action – action to make a difference in the world and also to channel your light into this dark world. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen!

August 2nd, 2020

 

The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.  

Psalm 119:130

 

The Word of God is understood to be the source of light and life. We all need light. Light has some excellent properties. Light shows us the way. Light manifests itself and all things in the world. Light directs our paths in darkness. It exposes our consciences; the light of God quickens our consciousness.  it exposes our follies and it also exposes our righteousness. And the light of God gives us understanding. Scripture reminds us that the Word of God is like a light that shines our life’s journey. The Word of God is the light of our life.  The light of God directs us in all our life’s conditions and situations. Jesus is the eternal Word made flesh that dwelt amongst us. And Jesus said, ‘I am the light of the world’. Therefore, let us come under the radiance of the Son of God – the source of eternal light.

 

Dear God, as we come before you, let your light shine on us. Dispel the darkness of our lives and help us to live as children of the light. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen!

August 1st, 2020

 

And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8

 

Reflecting on the above scripture, someone once said, ‘here the story of the Christian faith is reduced to one sentence’. St. Paul begins by pointing to us that ‘God is able’. We often forget this fundamental truth in our lives that ‘God is able’ no matter what and how. The ability of God is filled with power and awe. We hardly pay attention to connect to this source of power and ability of God. We try to do things on our own. We depend on our own power and abilities – and that is the reason for the weakness of a Christian and the weakness of the church. Sometimes, as individual Christians and as churches, we wonder, why we cannot accomplish certain things. When we ignore ‘the power of God’, we become weak and we cannot accomplish ‘every good work’ for which we are called. Therefore, let us tap into the ability and power of God and let us be filled by the complexity of the power of God for us to work and live as children of God in this world. 

 

All-powerful God, we come to you to be filled by your power to be able to accomplish the good work for your glory. Amen!

July 31st, 2020

 

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. Psalm 103: 1-2

 

How Is It With Your Soul?

 

John Wesley, on his monthly visits to different congregations in his Circuit, used to ask this question. It is believed that after service, he used to conduct Bible Studies and bean with this question. He would like to hear the answer: It Is Well With My Soul. This morning, I want to ask you my friends: How is it with your soul? I hope you all are aware of the hymn: "It Is Well with My Soul" by Horatio G. Spafford. UMH, 377. It is one of my favorite hymns and whenever I hear or sing, it stirs my soul and challenges my life. The story behind this hymn is even more heart touching. 

 

The author, Horatio G. Spafford (1828-1888), was a Presbyterian layman from Chicago. He had established a very successful legal practice as a young businessman and was also a devout Christian. Spafford’s fortune evaporated in the wake of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Having invested heavily in real estate along Lake Michigan’s shoreline, he lost everything overnight. In a saga reminiscent of Job, his son died a short time before his financial disaster. But the worst was yet to come. Desiring a rest for his wife and four daughters, Spafford planned a European trip for his family in 1873. In November of that year, due to unexpected last-minute business developments, he had to remain in Chicago, but sent his wife and four daughters on ahead as scheduled on the S.S. Ville du Havre. He expected to follow in a few days. “On November 22 the ship was struck by the Lochearn, an English vessel, and sank in twelve minutes. Several days later the survivors were finally landed at Cardiff, Wales, and Mrs. Spafford cabled her husband, ‘Saved alone.’” Spafford left immediately to join his wife. This hymn is said to have been penned as he approached the area of the ocean thought to be where the ship carrying his daughters had sunk.

https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-it-is-well-with-my-soul

To listen to the hymn click on https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=36&v=yzxKz08_bow&feature=emb_logo

 

Dear God, help us to sing and proclaim that: When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll, Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul, It is well With my soul. It is well, it is well with my soul! Amen!

July 30th, 2020

 

The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58: 11

 

Recently we moved and trying to adjust to the new community, house, and surroundings. My family is trying to clear stuff around the house, planting a garden and filling a few places with mulch and so on. I am also doing some minor projects in and around the house, some of them required some sort of skill. I am learning as I continue on the projects, and it is lots of fun. My wife and girls are proud of their little garden and I love it! I slowly realized that a frame or an inner core of things makes them strong, firm, and durable. I started reflecting on this particular verse from Isaiah in light of this transition and realized the importance of the human frame. We see the mastery of our God if we pay attention to the structure and complexity of our own frames on which our bodies hold. God is promising us that our frames will be strengthened. He also promises that we will be like well-watered gardens. The promises of God are still there and new every morning, it is for to claim them in our lives. Some of us might be going through ailments and pains, some of us might be experiencing a lack of nurture in our bodies and souls. Let us approach our God, the giver, and bestower of all that is good for us according to his will.

 

Dear God, we come to you with all our weaknesses and needs. Help us, fill us, and strengthen us in our lives journey. In Jesus' name we ask. Amen!

July 29th, 2020

You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care and visitation has preserved my spirit. Job 10: 12

 

The writer of this scripture verse attributed to the life experiences of Job. We are reminded that from the womb to the tomb, our lives are a gift from God and is preserved and sustained by the very grace of God. John Wesley in his commentary said the following about this verse:

“Life — Thou didst not only give me a curious body, but also a reasonable soul: thou didst at first give me life, and then maintain it in me; both when I was in the womb (which is a marvelous work of God) and afterward when I was unable to do anything to preserve my own life”.

Faith, hope, and love are all gifts of God. We are also preserved by the divine visitation and abundant supply of divine grace, pardon, and blessings from time to time. Scripture reminds us that the divine visitation in our lives happens in a way of new mercies every morning. Therefore let us live each day as a gift and make the most of it by bringing glory to God’s holy name.

 

Dear God, we thank you for the gift of life and your providence of new mercies every morning. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen!

July 28th,2020

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Colossians 1:19-20

 

This text for me is a great deep mystery which makes it difficult to explore and comprehend it in all its essence and totality. Yet we ask God to help us as we journey through the maze of this mystery. On a surface level, it seems so simple. That God through the blood of Jesus on the cross reconciled us, saved us, and restored us to Godself. Though not explicitly explained, Paul says that there was a state of estrangement and hostility. A loss of the relationship between God and God’s entire creation, including humanity. A Humanity that was created in God’s own image. 

Therefore there was a great need for Reconciliation, Renewal, and Restoration of Peace.

A need for Shalom – Peace of God in the deeper sense of the term.

However, for our devotion this morning briefly, in English, "reconciliation" refers to the: 

Restoration of a relationship.

To bring back a former state of harmony. 

And St. Paul reminds us that the basis of our reconciliation with God and with the rest of God’s creation is that peace was made through Christ’s bloodshed on the cross for us. Through the work of God the Father through the very sacrifice of his son Jesus Christ on the cross, has brought the entire rebellious and disobedient creation, including humanity back into the embrace of our God. An embrace that will allow us to hear the very heartbeat of our God. Dear Friends: the sacrifice of Jesus Christ – fundamentally manifests the gravity and complexity of our own existential experiences today. As those who experience disrupted relationships, division, disharmony, hostility, enmities of various kinds in our day to day lives – we have a call and a challenge. A challenge to live as transformative channels empowered by the power of the blood of Christ. 

 

Dear God, thank you for the sacrifice of your Son Jesus for me on the Cross. Guide us to follow your heartbeat even as you embrace us. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

July 27th, 2020

 

I was watching the news this morning and was listening to the recent data of COVID-19 pandemic along with several other burning issues of the day and it made me pause and pray. I laid everything that was troubling my soul and then submitted to God’s will. Sometimes, I realized we have very little control over the happenings of the world and our lives. I am sure many of us share the experience. God is good, all the time. Let us allow God to work through us and others. Prayers for all essential workers, doctors, nurses, health care professionals, and scientists along with the leaders of our country and other nations. The following prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr came to my mind, I am sure several of us are aware of it:

 

Serenity Prayer 

(Composed in the 1940s)

 

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

 

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world


As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life


And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.
Amen.

 

 

July 26th, 2020

Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8: 26, 27.

 

Dear Friends, last couple of Sunday’s we have meditated at church on the 8th chapter of Romans. Today we come to the conclusion of this passage for our meditation. I also thought these verses might guide us as we have had our daily meditations on prayer. In the above scripture, St. Paul talks about a kind of prayer that transcends our human language and all our limitations in approaching our God in prayer. We are told of a God who searches our innermost being and our hearts and understands our groanings and longings. St. Paul also talks about the Spirit of God joins in both the longings of our lives and the groaning of the entire creation in order to intercede on our behalf. Just last week, I was included in the Prayer chain list of the Grace UMC. I feel glad to be a part of this group because we are doing what the Spirit of God does. We pray and intercede for others and on behalf of others. I consider this one of the important Christian practices. Therefore, let us pray for one another.

 

Dear God, we come to you lifting up all those around us who are going through difficult life situations, health, and other concerns. We pray for our leaders and our governments, we pray for the world and your entire creation. We join your Holy Spirit in prayer and we ask you to hears our prayers in the name of Jesus. Amen!

July 25th, 2020.

Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors that the King of glory may come in. Psalm 24:7

 

This Psalm of David is thought to be sung in the context of David entering the city of Jerusalem with the Ark of the Covenant. The ark represented the holy presence of God in their midst. In a more theological sense, these words could also foreshadow the resurrection of Christ from the dead and His ascension into the holy and heavenly realm. In 1 Corinthians 2:8, St. Paul refers to Jesus Christ when he says the following: “None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the King of Glory”. In several of his letters, Paul also talks about the glorious perfections of Jesus’ divine nature reflecting the glory of God the Father. He underscores that the glory of God is fully manifest in the resurrected Christ. And now in a more personal and spiritual sense, we, our bodies are considered to be the temple of God. Therefore, this scripture calls us to lift our heads and lift up the ancient doors of humanity within ourselves so that the King of Glory may enter into our hearts and lives.  Let us look unto ourselves, deep into our spirituality identify the doors that we can open and lift, hat the King of Glory may enter in. Jesus is knocking on the doors of our hearts and lives, will you allow him inside?

 

Dear God, thank you for your son, Jesus Christ. I stand here with my heart and arms open to welcome Christ into my life. Let me be a temple of the King of Glory. Amen!

July 24th, 2020

“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

 

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Refrain:
Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

 

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

 

Thomas Obadiah Chisolm (1866-1960) had a difficult early adult life. His health was so fragile that there were periods of time when he was confined to bed, unable to work. Between bouts of illness, he would have to push himself to put in extra hours at various jobs in order to make ends meet. After coming to Christ at age 27, Thomas found great comfort in the Scriptures, and in the fact that God was faithful to be his strength in time of illness and weakness and to provide his needs. While away from home on a mission’s trip, Thomas often wrote to one of his good friends, William Runyan, a relatively unknown musician. Several poems were exchanged in these letters. Runyan found one of Williams’ poems so moving that he decided to compose a musical score to accompany the lyrics. Great is Thy Faithfulness was published in 1923.

For several years, the hymn got very little recognition, until it was discovered by a Moody Bible Institute professor who loved it so much and requested it sang so often at chapel services, that the song became the unofficial theme song of the college. It was not until 1945 when George Beverly Shea began to sing Great is Thy Faithfulness at the Billy Graham evangelistic crusades, that the hymn was heard around the world. Thomas Chisolm died in 1960 at age 94. During his lifetime, he wrote more than 1,200 poems and hymns including O To Be Like Thee and Living for Jesus. 

https://www.independentbaptist.com/great-is-thy-faithfulness1/

 

Dear God thank you because Great is your faithfulness. We repent of our sins and our unfaithfulness towards you. Redeem us and bless us. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen!

 

 

July 23rd, 2020

Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! Lamentations 3:19

 

I can relate with several people and I believe some of you may too, relate with those who have hit rock bottom in their lives. The personal, spiritual, emotional, and the entire life might look like wormwood and taste like gall! This scripture reflects the life situation of the writer, especially this scripture, which is linked to Jeremiah, who is also called the weeping prophet. He feels that God abandoned him, and his life is about to be destroyed. The emotional stress and its load have has become so heavy and massive that Jeremiah experiences depression of sorts and hopelessness in his life. Many people can relate to this phenomenon or reality in their lives. Like people don’t discuss their problems with others, we too don’t reflect on these lamentations in our worship services. Yet, it’s important to know people and their experiences that sometimes reflect ours. Jeremiah once says, ‘My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord.’ I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness, and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.” (3:17-20)

But dear friends, in our anguish and sorrow, we are not alone nor are we abandoned. Because in the very same scripture, a few verses later, we hear the following words: “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (3:21-23)

 

Dear God, thank you that today, because of your great love, I am ‘not consumed.’ I praise you that your ‘compassions never fail—they are new every morning.’ Thank you for your great faithfulness. I remember all those who are going through rough situations in their lives, be with them O Lord. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen!

 

 

July 22nd, 2020

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

 

As a parent myself, I want, as all parents do, to have their children to be polite and kind. As parents, and also as grandparents, we must teach children to treat others the way they would want to be treated. By teaching children some particular manners from an early age, children grow up to be individuals who treat others with respect and kindness. We all know the five golden words that every parent and guardian should teach their children. Thank You, Please, Sorry, Excuse me and May I. These words not just ensure that your children are well mannered but also have the potential to light up someone else’s day. These words make a big difference in the life of an individual. It will be difficult to teach or train an adult but it will be easier to do the same with a child and expect the child to make a difference in the world. In the same way, the scripture also teaches us that a well-trained child or an individual will bear good fruits of the Spirit.  And these fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Let us look into our own lives if we can find these fruits if the Spirit. If we miss any of these fruits in our lives, then we have some work to do!

 

Dear God, help us to reflect your grace in and through our lives each and every day. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen!

July 21, 2020

And from his fullness, we have all received, grace upon grace. John 1: 16

 

William Barclay says that fullness or pleroma is "the sum total of all that is in God." Christ is fully God (Col 2:9) and we are fully complete in Him (Col 2:10). John MacArthur says "As a result of the Fall, humans are in a sad state of incompleteness. They are spiritually incomplete because they are totally out of fellowship with God. Humans are morally incomplete because they live outside of God’s will. They are mentally incomplete because they do not know the ultimate truth. At salvation, believers become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4) and are made complete. Believers are spiritually complete because they have fellowship with God. They are morally complete in that they recognize the authority of God’s will. They are mentally complete because they know the truth about ultimate reality."

Over and over again the Bible shares with us that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and He takes His ultimate place in everything! Because He is the ultimate revelation of God we can know God. Because He is the ultimate sacrifice for the sin we can be forgiven. As believers in Jesus, we are reminded that full grace has been given to us through Jesus Christ. Grace in Christ is never exhausted. Grace in Christ covers all sin.

 

Dear God, we come to you asking that we experience the fullness of your Son Jesus Christ in our lives each and every moment. Amen!

July 20, 2020

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you” Exodus 20: 12

 

The Ten Commandments continue to be a source of how God instructs His people to live. This particular verse teaches people to honor their fathers and mothers. Peter repeats by saying, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” Ephesians 6:1. Parenthood and the parent-child relationship are very important in the holistic growth of the child. The scripture teaches that whether we are children or grown-ups, we are to honor our parents. Those of us who lost their parents are still encouraged to honor the memory of their parents. We are encouraged to teach our kids initially to honor their parents through basic lessons of discipline and obedience, which in practice develops and blooms into respect. These simple principles of life will eventually allow us to honor our parents out of love and trust acknowledging all the love and sacrifice of the parents. I like to encourage this honor of parents to all the elders in our lives too. Also, several people may not have fond upbringing by a parent, or several may not have experienced a parent in their lives, also for some, parenthood may have been troubling. But the scripture at the end teaches that our God is like a parent is out-pouring love and waits with outstretched arms to embrace us all the time. Today let us also take some moments to pray for those who have lost a parent recently. Pray for me too, as I remember the passing of my mother a year ago and could not be with her during her transition to eternal life.

 

Dear God, thank you for the gift of parents in our lives. Bless them and help us honor all our parents and others who have loved us and cared for us. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen!

July 19th, 2020

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

 

The praise and poetic words as well as words of penitence by David have inspired millions of people over hundreds of years. Yesterday we have meditated David pleading his God to create a clean heart and a willing spirit. In today’s scripture verse from Psalm 19, we see David asking God for purity both inside and out. The words that he speaks as well as the unseen meditations of his heart. This is a prayer we are used to hearing every Sunday before the sermon. David is teaching that he should be the case every waking moment of our lives. The sanctity of our words and the humility of our hearts reflect on the meditations of our lives.  

 

Dear God, may the words of my mouth and all the meditations of my heart are pleasing to you, for you are my rock and my redeemer. Amen!

July 18, 2020

 

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.  Psalm 51: 10-12

 

I consider Psalm 51 as one of the most important psalms written by David. While he was the king, the power and privilege he had both on the land and its people made him think that he had a pass to do whatever he wanted, anything that satisfied him. During this time he became very selfish and also thought that he was above the law and that all the ethics and morals of this world did not apply to him. If we look at his story he planned and executed his plots and tried concealing all of his sins, for example, if we look at his attraction and story with Bathsheba and her husband Uriah. At the time he wrote Psalm 51 David was a changed man, he knew he can no longer live with the guilt in his heart and he approached God with a contrite heart and confession requesting God to clean his heart and restore a right spirit within him. Most importantly he asked God to give him a willing heart to change his ways and experience the joy of salvation. 

 

David’s story can be seen as a mirror to most of our own lives, that question now is, are we willing to have a changed heart approaching God to give us a right spirit? Are we willing to approach God with a contrite and confessing hearts? Today, if there is anything in us that relate to David’s situation, are we ready to intercede for spiritual recovery and revival? If so, our God is a compassionate and forgiving God who can set us free. Therefore let us approach him with confidence and trust.

 

Heavenly God, we come to you as we are, we come to you confessing our wrong-doings. By your grace and mercy, set us free. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen!

July 17th, 2020

 

But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your constant love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress. Psalm 59: 16

 

David has written this Psalm during one of his trying times. Saul sent people to watch David’s house and find a perfect time to kill him. In verses 14 and 15, David says his enemies are back in the evenings and all night long they roam like hungry hounds to devour him. David is known for his deep faith in God and his dependence on God’s mercy and protection. He experiences God’s saving hand in his life all the time and especially in the mornings he likes to sing and praise God and acknowledge that God is like a fortress and a refuge.

Dear friends our troubles, trials, and problems may be different.  We might go to bed with the fatigue of the day as a result of all our problems and a long litany of troubles, anxieties, and struggles. We may have loved ones who are going through difficult times in their lives too. This psalm is a reminder that every morning brings new opportunities and renewed hopes. It reminds us that if we cast all our burdens and surrender to the comfort and strength of God, each morning brings a renewed sparkle of life.

 

Dear God, we thank you for being our fortress and strength in times of trials and temptations. We thank you for all the promises of your faithfulness. We join the psalmist in praising you with all that is within us every morning. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen!

July 16th, 2020

 

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. Mark 1:35

 

The Gospel of Mark opens up with various aspects of the ministry of Jesus that includes healing, preaching, and a demonstration of his authority on the scriptures. He also goes into Jesus’s personal routine of communing with his Father at various times especially at the break of the dawn, i.e., the first appearance of light in the morning followed by sunrise. Wow, what a time to get in fellowship with the divine! I am personally experiencing the preciousness of these early moments of a day and the freshness it brings to our often tired and fatigued lives. I grew up in India where ‘Surya namaskar” or salutations of the Sun is done by most of the people, especially in the Hindu tradition. There is something important for us to learn about other cultures and religious traditions! I really admired people doing this because ‘Surya” means Sun and my Dad’s name is Surya! Several of my friends from other religions practice what we call the ‘Surya Namaskar’. What does this mean?

In Sanskrit, Surya means "sun" and namaskar means "salutations." The practice of Surya Namaskar awakens the body’s intelligence to create energy directly from the sun. In the Vedic tradition, the sun is symbolic of consciousness and, therefore, has been worshiped daily in the Indian culture. Surya Namaskar is designed to access the ethereal energy that exists all around us. Every morning at dawn, the air is filled with prana shakti or life energy.

I can personally say that there are some energy and beauty in the early hours of the day. I can say that these delicate moments of the morning allows you to participate in the divine and allows you to have meaningful fellowship with your God. I personally encourage you to spend these beautiful moments each day with your God in prayer and fellowship, the rest of the day will be different!

 

Dear God, as we approach you every day in prayer and meditation, help us to realize your presence and soak in your grace and mercy, in Jesus name we pray. Amen!

 

July 15th, 2020

 

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Psalm 90:14

 

Mike Lindell, popularly known as the My Pillow guy, is passionate in his advertisements for his brand of pillows, mattress covers and etc., and promises that people will get a great night's sleep. So also several other mattress companies do the same. In fact, even Coffee bean companies do the same as promising a beautiful morning with their cup of coffee. Some of these are partly true that they give you some happiness in the mornings. Yesterday, we missed having our first coffee and you can imagine our unhappiness. A happy and good start for a day is all that we look forward to every morning.

 

Psalm is believed to be written by Moses, especially in his later part of his life. He was almost 100 years of age and reflecting on his life and experiences. He was questioning the meaning and purpose of his life and found that the only important thing in life is to turn to God in prayer and ask for God’s mercy and his steadfast love in his life every living day of his life. He knew the joy of experiencing God’s love in his life each and every morning. Dear friends how many of us have that sacred time in the morning to experience God’s love that satisfies our souls. Let us make sure that in this busyness of our lives that we can find some time early in the mornings for this sacred gift of God that satisfies our lives. 

 

Dear God, grant us your blessings each morning to experience your love and mercy in our lives. Amen!

July 14th, 2020

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

 

From womb to tomb, throughout our life’s journey trusting someone at different stages of life happens. Our lives begin with our complete trust and dependence on our parents, especially our mothers. Along the way, we are taught about trusting in God. Scripture teaches us that we need to trust in God with all our hearts and not to lean on our own understanding. For we have promises of God for being always and in all situations with us. We are reminded to have trust in God completely, entirely and exclusively and acknowledge his presence and will so that our paths a straightened. As some of you know we recently added Archie, our puppy who is 15 weeks old, to our family. He is active, energetic, and funny. In his first behavior training session, he became popular and in fact became his trainer’s favorite. Our life and experience with Archie are teaching us several things in life, especially the ‘trust’ factor! His little eyes and wagging tails convey to us that he has complete and unwavering trust in us. Many of us who have pets or little children will understand what I am saying. The scripture above is doing the same in reminding us that we need to have that unwavering and complete trust in our God.

 

Dear God, help us to experience your presence with us and help us to trust you completely. Help us in all our short-comings and weaknesses. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen!

July 13, 2020

 

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:23

 

The early morning rays of the rising Sun wee warming up my face as I was writing this meditation for all of us. It is a new day and the beginning of a brand new week in our lives. I was reminded of one of my favorite childhood songs, “count your blessings and name them one by one”.

  1. When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
    When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
    Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
    And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

    • Refrain:
      Count your blessings, name them one by one,
      Count your blessings, see what God has done!
      Count your blessings, name them one by one,
      *Count your many blessings, see what God has done.
      [*And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.]

  2. So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
    Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
    Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
    Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

The scripture above also reminds us that God’s mercies and blessings are new every morning. Therefore my friends, today, even as we are being blessed by God, let us try to be a blessing to others who cross our paths today!

Dear God, help us to realize and experience your mercy and grace afresh every morning and help us to be a blessing for others, in Jesus' name we pray. Amen!

 

July 12th, 2020

 

Then Hannah prayed and said: “My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord, my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance. “There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.

1 Samuel 2:1-2

 

Hannah’s Prayer of Praise and gratitude

Dear Friends, a blessed Sunday morning! We have been meditating on the theme of prayer the whole week. I thank God for the scripture as it still speaks and teaches us several things in life. We all pray. We pray for several things. We pray before meals. Our prayers get answered and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes we don’t pray back to thank God for the blessings received or not received. For example, we pray before eating to bless our food but we don’t pray after eating to thank God for the good food. Hannah through her prayer of praise and gratitude as we find in 1 Samuel, teaches us this important aspect of our relationship with our God. As we know Hannah’s story is one of the most well-known stories of faith-filled women mentioned in the Bible. Her longing for a child and dark season of waiting sometimes is heart-wrenching. She finally receives what she wants and then goes back to God in prayer to thank and acknowledge God’s blessing. This is a great teaching for us today.

 

Dear God, we come back to you to acknowledge and thank you for all the blessings in our lives. We thank you for the smaller and greater things in life. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen!

July 11th, 2020

 

In You, Lord my God, I put my trust. I trust in You; do not let me be put to shame, not let my enemies triumph over me…Show me Your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long. (Psalm 25 1-2, 4-6)

 

Guidance – this is something we all look for in our lives most of the time. If you are planning on a road trip you depend on the GPS for guiding you along the way. We try to have mentors for various reasons for guidance in our careers, finances, education, and marriage, and so on. We just got a puppy named Archie. E is full of energy and we love having him around. He is fifteen weeks old and we are trying to train him for several things. We know if we do not guide and train a dog when it’s young, it will be difficult to teach something when they grow up. Therefore, we planned to take some help and guidance from a professional dog trainer. The scripture quoted above points us toward the same human need. We find David giving us a great prayer for God’s guidance in our everyday lives. He says that he is sure to find help and guidance from God if he puts his trust in Him. Like David let us pray and allow God to unfold God’s will and plan for us each day.

 

Gracious God, we submit ourselves to your will unfolding in our lives and we seek guidance for our lives. In faith and trust, we ask you in the name of Jesus. Amen!

July 10th, 2020

Friends, for our devotion this morning, I want us to meditate on the prayer of a person who has hit rock-bottom in his life and eventually experienced God’s salvation in his life. This is Jonah’s prayer of Salvation. Like Jonah we may not have the fish swallow us or things like that but most of us might have experienced situations where things looked bleak and hopeless, yet we have a faithful God who promised his presence and salvation in our lives. Therefore let us now look at the prayer of Jonah:

 

 “In my distress, I called to the Lord,
    and he answered me.
From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,
    and you listened to my cry.

You hurled me into the depths,
    into the very heart of the seas,
    and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
    swept over me.

I said, ‘I have been banished
    from your sight;
yet I will look again
    toward your holy temple.’

The engulfing waters threatened me,
    the deep surrounded me;
    seaweed was wrapped around my head.

To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
    the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you, Lord my God,
    brought my life up from the pit.

“When my life was ebbing away,
    I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
    to your holy temple.

“Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them.

But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
    will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
    I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”

Jonah 2:2-9

July 9th, 2020

 

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray and spent the night praying to God. Luke 6:12

 

The ministry of Jesus was at its peak with calling people to repent, by forgiving sins and preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God in all the towns he was able to travel. Along the way he was healing every disease, casting out demons, feeding people in thousands. During one of those hectic times, Jesus went alone to a mountainside to be in solitude and enter into deeper communion and fellowship with God the Father. In doing so, Jesus demonstrated the importance of setting aside some private and personal time with God. Jesus sets us a good example of setting aside extraordinary times and seasons of devotion, meditation, and personal fellowship with God in our often chaotic lives. Many of us are so caught up and are busy multi-tasking and rarely find the time or seldom think about spending some quite personal time with God in prayer. The hustle and bustle of our lives do not give us opportunities of solitude and as a result, we miss some of the precious personal moments of fellowship with the divine. Jesus taught and instructed us the art of personal fellowship, prayer, and communing with God in his demeanor. Jesus demonstrated that our true personal prayer helps our souls ascend up to God, therefore it is important that we exercise this practice in our lives always! I encourage you all to plan for these seasons and opportunities of personal prayer and moments of solitude with God.

 

Heavenly Father, we come to you as we are. We come to you in the midst of the chaos of our life’s journey, we come to you for peace and direction. Speak to us and help us hear you speak to us. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

July 8th, 2020

 

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Romans 8:26
 

Dear Friends, continuing on the theme of prayer, today let us look at one of the problems most of us have with ‘how to pray’. Many of us stumble or get tense if someone asks us to pray. The disciples like us also admitted to their Master that their prayer lives were inadequate and often do not know how to pray. Therefore they ask Jesus, “Teach us to pray, Lord, teach us to pray.” So Jesus gave them a model by which to do it, what we call the Lord’s Prayer. Sometimes, the scriptures can be painfully honest and direct and right on target as we find in the above-quoted text by St. Paul. He says that sometimes we do not know how to pray as we ought.

 

But then why is praying the right way difficult? Someone once said, and I believe it, that prayer is a risky business. Prayer, by its very implication, is that we are entering or treading the mind and heart of God. Dangerous yet gracious and loving territory! So what do we do? 

 

The story is told of a young minister just three months out of seminary, serving as an associate pastor of a large church. The pastor had gone out of the country, leaving his inexperienced associate in charge. A young couple in the church had adopted a little boy from El Salvador. He was the love of their life. The father, a dentist, was backing out of his driveway, didn’t see his young son behind the car, and ran over him. He was dead by the time they got him to the hospital. “I entered that home to the wailing, horrible sounds of those young parents,” the young minister says. “I knew how badly they had wanted a child, how long they had waited. It was just terrible, those howling, grief-filled screams. I entered the living room and she reached out to me and I just lost it. I cried, wept with them. Eventually, I said, ‘Would you like to have a prayer?’ They said yes. I began to pray, my voice cracked, I broke down again and the mother put her arm around me and tried to comfort me! It was terrible, horrible. I left that home feeling like the biggest failure as a pastor. “Two days later we had the funeral. After the funeral, the mother said to me, ‘Your ministry was such a comfort to us.’” “A comfort?” I thought. “I was terrible.” “When I saw that you were just as heartbroken as I was,” she continued, “it really helped me. I felt that I could go on as long as my pastor really felt how terrible all this was.’”

 

Now, hear the words of Paul again: “We do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.” Prayer is not a matter of saying the right words. Prayer is opening up your heart to God’s Spirit and letting God have you, really have you… unconditionally, fully, gratefully. Today if you do not have the right words for prayer, stay still, and let the Holy Spirit of God pray on your behalf. It works! I say it with my own personal experience and conviction.

 

Lord, we do not know how to pray as we ought. And because we do not know how to pray, sometimes we do not know how to live. May your Spirit intercede on our behalf and take us beyond the limits of our understanding, that we might indeed live according to your will and do your will here on earth as it is in heaven. Through Christ our Lord we pray, Amen.

 

July 7th, 2020

 

Pray for All People

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people….1 Timothy 2:1

Dear friends, today let us look at another aspect of prayer. St. Paul to one of his youngest disciples Timothy teaches the importance of daily prayer and particularly the importance of praying for others. Praying and interceding for others pleases God. Jesus promised us that he always intercedes for each of us. We all must have experienced at some point in our lives the power of others praying for us or us praying for someone. Some have witnessed miracles too! 

 

The following quotes about praying for others were very helpful for me to think and practice:

“It is not only our duty to pray for others, but also to desire the prayers of others for ourselves.” – William Gurnall

“When you pray for others God listens to you and blessed them. So when you are safe and happy remember that someone is praying for you.”

“We never know how God will answer our prayers, but we can expect that He will get us involved in His plan for the answer. If we are true intercessors, we must be ready to take part in God’s work on behalf of the people for whom we pray.”

“True intercession involves bringing the person, or the circumstance that seems to be crashing in on you, before God, until you are changed by His attitude toward that person or circumstance. People describe intercession by saying, “It is putting yourself in someone else’s place.” That is not true! Intercession is putting yourself in God’s place; it is having His mind and His perspective.” ― Oswald Chambers

“Intercession is the truly universal work for the Christian. No place is closed to intercessory prayer: no continent, no nation, no city, no organization, no office. No power on earth can keep intercession out.” Richard Halverson.

 

Dear God, I lift up all those who are in need of your presence, your healing, and protection today. I lift up all those who are in need of direction in life, I pray for your guidance. I pray for the hungry, homeless, and destitute persons. Help us to be helpful to others in need. I pray for our church and all its ministries. In Jesus’’ name I pray, Amen.

July 6th, 2020

 

"Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you.

For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened.

Matthew 7: 7-8

 

The beginning of this week, I like all of us to focus on the importance of prayer. Prayer is an important element of Christian living. As a child, I remember my Mom telling me about the importance of prayer life. When I did not understand the meaning of prayer, she mentioned that it is nothing but having a little chat with our God, who always like to have small conversations with us. She also mentioned that this conversation should be a two-way conversation. We need to speak and at the same time also pay attention to what God is trying to say to me. That teaching has become a foundation for my relationship with my God. The above scripture also teaches us the importance of asking seeking and knocking in the act of our personal and collective prayer. These acts or metaphors of asking, seeking, and knocking are intended to be continuous acts rather than an onetime act pertaining to our prayer life. This practice in prayer teaches us the importance of humility and submission to God’s will in our lives.


Let us pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom comes, your will be done, on earth as in heaven Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours. Now and forever. Amen.

Tuesday, September 29th, 2020

 

"What do you think? A man had two sons; and he went to the first and said, `Son, go and work in the vineyard today.' And he answered, `I will not'; but afterward he repented and went. And he went to the second and said the same; and he answered, `I go, sir,' but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?" Matthew 21:28-31a

 

Jesus encourages us to think - to think about the consequences of our choices, especially the choices and decisions that will count not just for now but for eternity as well. The choices we make now will affect and shape our future, both our future on earth as well as in the life of the age to come. Jesus, by telling a simple story of two imperfect sons illustrates the way of God's kingdom. The "rebellious" son told his father to his face that he would not work for him. But afterward, he changed his mind and did what his father commanded him. The "good" son said he would work for his father, but didn't follow through. He sought his own pleasure, contrary to his father's will. Now, who was really the good son? Both sons disobeyed their father - but one repented and then did what the father told him. Jesus makes his point clear - Good intentions are not enough. And promises don't count unless they are performed. God wants to change our hearts so that we will show by our speech and by our actions that we respect his will and do it. Are you ready to fulfill the will of God in your life?

 

Gracious God, as we follow you, give us the grace to understand your will for us and help us live according to the unfolding of your purpose in our lives. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen!

Monday, September 28, 2020

 

But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you. 2 Timothy 4:5

 

Growing up in India, we always heard about the work and influence of Mother Teresa. I greatly admired her and was often challenged by her words and work. One of my uncles, an Episcopalian priest, worked with her in Calcutta, India in her Center for the homeless and sick people who are abandoned by family and society. One journalist who wanted to document her work followed her with his camera and he found her embracing and cleaning a person with leprosy, who was left for dead in a garbage disposal area. When he asked her, how she could handle that person, Mother Teresa replied, “I see the face of Christ in him, and how can I abandon Christ like that!” In the scripture above, St. Paul teaches his young trainee Timothy that, “he should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you”. Dear friends, we have the same calling as Timothy does. We need to find every opportunity to care and minister for others, keeping examples such as Mother Teresa and others in our minds. We need to recognize our Lord Jesus, who comes to us in various forms and various situations. Let us not miss opportunities for serving Jesus even as we serve each other. I like us to start our day and this new week by some of the sayings of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, India.

 

- “Peace begins with a smile..”

- “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”

- “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

- “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

- “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”

- “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”

- “Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”

- “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”

- “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

- “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

- “A life not lived for others is not a life.”

- “At the end of life, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done.

 We will be judged by "I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.”

 ― Mother Teresa

 

Dear Father, we thank you for speaking to us through your word, we thank you for visiting us always. Help us not to miss opportunities to recognize and to minister to you. Help us to love one another and bring glory to your name. In the mighty name of Jesus, we pray. Amen!

September 27th, 2020

 

So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Jeremiah 18:3-4

 

Adelaide Pollard had a burden for the continent of Africa and was convinced that God wanted her to go there as a missionary. She had been on the very point of going there but she had to cancel everything since the necessary funds just couldn’t be raised. You can imagine her disappointment.

During a prayer group meeting she listened to the words of a prayer, often uttered by an old lady she knew. She prayed “It’s all right, Lord! It doesn’t matter what you bring into our lives; just have your own way with us!” In a moment her burden had been lifted as she bowed in submission to the will of God.

She went home that night and she meditated on the story of the potter, recorded by Jeremiah 18:3-4. “Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.”

The words seemed to fit Miss Pollard’s own life and experiences exactly. She was questioning God’s will for her life. As she bowed in humble consecration before God, the words of a poem took shape in her mind, and she wrote:

Have Thine own way, Lord!

Have Thine own way!

Thou art the potter;

I am the clay.

Mold me and make me

After Thy will,

While I am waiting,

yielded and still.

Adelaide Pollard had learned that even people of faith can be self-centered, self-possessed and self-willed. To do God’s work, like her planned trip to Africa, she had to trust in God and yield to God’s intervening power. Later she did go to Africa as a missionary but not at that moment.

 

Dear Father, we ask for forgiveness for questioning your will and the unfolding of your will in our lives. Help us acknowledge that we are the clay in your hands. Make us and mold us according to your will and purpose. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen!

Saturday, September 26th, 2020

 

Be made new in the attitude of your minds. Ephesians 4:23

 

A monk once advised a rich man to only focus on green color for some months to cure a disease. After a few weeks, the monk visited that man in his mansion. He saw that the patient had got everything in his home painted in green. Even the monk had to dress in green to meet that guy. Once in the meeting, the monk asked about this change at home. The rich man exclaimed that he did all this to follow the instruction from the monk. The monk asked why he couldn’t buy green glasses to change his view instead of influencing the entire world around him!

 

This small story teaches us a lot about our attitude towards life and its challenges. Legend says, your attitude can either be your best friend or your worst enemy. Scripture is filled with teachings about how we approach life and all its ups and downs. We are constantly called to renew our minds and to have the same mind as in Christ!

 

Story Moral:

It’s easier to change our attitude towards life than to change our life.

 

Dear God, help us navigate through our lives journey, help us renew and make new the attitudes of our minds to life and all its turns and turfs. Help us to look at life through the mind of Christ and to always be thankful. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen!

Friday, September 25th, 2020

 

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. Philippians 2: 5

 

Out of his great love for the Church in Philippi, St. Paul, knowing about the disunity and conflicts in the church, from the prison walls in Rome, has written this passionate letter calling for unity within the believers. He calls upon them to have the mind of Christ. You might ask: what is the mind of Christ?

The mind of Christ is the mind of perfect love manifesting itself in perfect humility. It is the only cure for our want of unity. Disunion comes from self-exaltation. He calls for the Union from losing self in Christ. St. Paul here urges the highest motive to unity and the only method by which it can be secured. The humility and the love of which Christ is full are imparted to us if we are in him. We must receive him if we would imitate him; for if we receive him he lives his life in us. This call is of universal application. It applies to us. The highest dignity attainable in this world is conformity to Jesus Christ. 

 

The mind of Christ is distinguished by its meekness or humility, simplicity and unity, and most importantly, sympathy and ceaseless giving of the Self. He could weep at the grave of Lazarus, before calling back His friend to life. He could stop at the gate of Nain, to cheer the heart of a bereaved widow, by restoring to life her only son. He could condescend to touch the loathsome leper and thus make him clean. He could stoop to hold a conversation with a penitent adulteress. He could work a miracle to feed a hungry multitude. He could die for our sins on the cross of Calvary. 

Therefore: Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ. As his followers and disciples, help us to imitate him and live according to his teachings. Let this mind be in us, which was also in Christ Jesus. Amen!

Thursday, September 24th, 2020

 

I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.

Psalm 130: 6

“In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” Psalm 5: 3

 

There are a number of things we can learn from these verses. First of all our hope is in God’s Word. Look at the verse: “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word, I put my hope.” Psalm 130: 5. We are not just waiting for help, but we are waiting for the Lord himself, and our hope is based on God’s word. Jesus Christ is the eternal word, made flesh, and he who dwelt amongst us and still dwells with us today. Therefore, don’t base your hope on your feelings or your circumstances, but base your hope fully on the very Word of God. Trust God’s promises to you in Scripture. Claim God’s promises in Christ, and pray God’s Word back to him. When you put your hope in the Lord and in his word, you may wait for the Lord expectantly. You will be able to pray as David did in Psalm 5 when he wrote: “In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” Psalm 5: 3. Also, “My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.” Psalm 130: 6. It’s the picture of watchmen waiting for the break of day, looking forward to the end of their shift – waiting, expecting, and anticipating. 

 

Dear God, as we wait and anticipate all night long, the daybreak has come, the Word has become flesh. Visit us, fill us, and transform us. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen!

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020

 

Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts. Jeremiah 15:16

 

"Your words were found and I ate them.” This is a poetic picture of inspiration. The prophet searched for them, he accepted them, assimilated them, and made them such a part of himself that he spoke with complete assurance what he knew were God’s words. “Your Words were found” - What is the implication of Jeremiah finding God's Words? Clearly, this phrase implies that he was seeking God's Words. In a world, even in the midst of oppression, he had a passion for God's Word, a heart attitude all of God's children should seek to cultivate. This experience of Jeremiah teaches us and reminds us that instead of pursuing happiness and joy, we need to pursue and find the Word of God that can give us complete and real happiness, words that can give us life and direction for life. 

I heard a story about a little puppy that noticed that whenever he was happy, his tail wagged, so the thought he had found the secret to happiness. One day he shared the secret of happiness with an older dog. He said, "I have learned that the best thing for a dog is happiness and that happiness is in my tail. So I am going to chase my tail; and when I catch it, I shall have happiness!" The old dog replied, "I too, believe that happiness is a marvelous thing for a dog and that happiness is in my tail. But I have noticed that when I chase it, my tail keeps running away from me; but when I go about my business, it follows me wherever I go."

The Bible has a lot to say about being happy. It doesn't say, "Happy are they who have a lot of money" or "Happy are they who live in big houses and drive fancy cars." It doesn't even say, "Happy are they who only have good things happen to them." What the Bible does say is, "Happy are the merciful, happy are the peacemakers, and happy are the pure in heart." The Bible also says Happy is he who trusts in the Lord. Many of us are like that little puppy chasing his tail -- trying to find true happiness that is always just out of our reach. What we need to do is learn that if we will search for God’s Word and trust in the Lord, happiness will follow us wherever we go.

Speaking about a puppy, let me ask you all to remember our Archie who is going for a small procedure today. God’s healing and protection may be on our little puppy.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, in the hustle and bustle of life, and in the midst of all the noises of the world, help us to hear your voice and your Word for us today and all days of our lives. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen!

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020

 

Where there is no vision, the people perish. Proverbs 29:18

 

Reflecting on the Proverbs 29:28, Rick Warren once commented that, “My imagination influences my aspiration.” In other words, your dreams determine your destiny. To accomplish anything you must first have a mission, a goal, a hope, a vision. Dan Southerland in his workbook section of Transitioning, a textbook for leading a church from a “program-driven” to purpose-driven model, examines vision in the light of Proverbs 29:18, suggesting that we should interpret this verse in the present tense to read “Where there is no visioning…(page 177)” the people perish. Southerland defines vision as “a picture of what God wants to do. Vision is a picture of what God will do in His church if we get out of His way and turn Him loose to do so” In several churches and in several of our lives the vision and will of God does not come to fruition, the reason being that we come in between and block the work of God and the vision of God lead our lives. When we ignore the vision of Christ working and speaking today, our hopes and our charity in the world fades. The lack of vision results in the decay of our devotion. Our knowledge and direction fade when the vision of the divine light, truth, and life is blocked. We need to live by the vision of Christ to succeed in our life because the vision of God defines our character and quality of life.

 

Dear God as we wander in the wilderness of this world, let your light shine forth so that we have the vision to move forward in faith and holiness. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen!

 

Also if you like you can listen or read Bishop's Monday Message: Between a rock and a hard place, by clicking on the following link:

https://www.umcnic.org/news/bishops-monday-message-between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place

 

 

Monday, September 21, 2020

 

"In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Ephesians 4:26

 

Many times we find ourselves burdened and heavy with holding the anger, resentment, and bitterness towards others for a long time. Scripture reminds us of the secret to being happy and less burdened in our hearts is to let go of these things and to practice a secret exercise – which is nothing but forgiveness. We are really good at remembering the dates, the times, and places where others hurt us and we hardly take note of the love and goodness that comes to us from others. The scripture reminds us that we do not let the sun go down while we are still angry.

 

Having A Best Friend

A story tells that two friends were walking through the desert. During some point of the journey, they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in the face.

The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, wrote in the sand;  “Today my best friend slapped me in the face.”

 

They kept on walking until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath. The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but the friend saved him. After he recovered from the near drowning, he wrote on a stone; “Today my best friend saved my life.”

 

The friend who had slapped and saved his best friend asked him; “After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now, you write on a stone, why?”. The other friend replied; “When someone hurts us we should write it down in sand where winds of forgiveness can erase it away. But, when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it.”

 

Moral of the story: 

Don’t value the things you have in your life. But value whom you have in your life.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, we come to you seeking guidance in forgiving others and treating others as we want others to treat us. Lead us and guide us in our journey of life. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen!

September 20th, 2020

But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40: 31

 

Eagles in a Storm

Did you know that an eagle knows when a storm is approaching long before it breaks?

The eagle will fly to some high spot and wait for the winds to come. When the storm hits, it sets its wings so that the wind will pick it up and lift it above the storm. While the storm rages below, the eagle is soaring above it. The eagle does not escape the storm. It simply uses the storm to lift it higher. It rises on the winds that bring the storm.

When the storms of life come upon us – and all of us will experience them – we can rise above them by setting our minds and our belief toward God. The storms do not have to overcome us. We can allow God’s power to lift us above them. God enables us to ride the winds of the storm that bring sickness, tragedy, failure, and disappointment in our lives. We can soar above the storm. Remember, it is not the burdens of life that weigh us down, it is how we handle them.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, we come to you in the midst of the storms of life, we come to you weary and tired, by your grace and mercy help us in our journey of life and help us to live according to your will. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen!

 

 

September 19th, 2020

The Story behind The Old Rugged Cross

As a Methodist evangelist, George Bennard wrote the first verse of “The Old Rugged Cross” in Albion, Michigan, in the fall of 1912 as a response to ridicule that he had received at a revival meeting.  Bennard traveled with Ed E. Mieras from Chicago to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin where they held evangelistic meetings at the Friends Church from December 29, 1912, to January 12, 1913. During the meetings Rev. George Bennard finished "The Old Rugged Cross" and on the last night of the meetings, Bennard and Mieras performed it as a duet before a full house with Pearl Torstensen Berg, organist for the meeting, as accompanist.  Bennard retired to Reed City, Michigan, and the town maintains a museum dedicated to his life and ministry.  A memorial has also been created in Youngstown at Lake Park Cemetery.  A plaque commemorating the first performance of the song stands in front of the Friend's Church in Sturgeon Bay, WI. "The Old Rugged Cross" has been a country gospel favorite ever since it became the title song of Ernest Tubb's 1952 gospel album; it has been performed by some of the twentieth century's most important recording artists.

 

On a hill far away, stood an old rugged Cross

The emblem of suffering and shame

And I love that old Cross where the dearest and best

For a world of lost sinners was slain

 

So I'll cherish the old rugged Cross

Till my trophies, at last, I lay down

I will cling to the old rugged Cross

And exchange it someday for a crown

 

Oh, that old rugged Cross so despised by the world

Has a wondrous attraction for me

For the dear Lamb of God, left His Glory above

To bear it to dark Calvary

 

In the old rugged Cross, stained with blood so divine

A wondrous beauty I see

For the dear Lamb of God, left His Glory above

To pardon and sanctify me

 

To the old rugged Cross, I will ever be true

Its shame and reproach gladly bear

Then He'll call me someday to my home far away

Where His glory forever I'll share

 

Dear Heavenly Father, we that you for sending your own Son Jesus for me. We thank you for his passion and sacrifice for me and for the sins of the entire world. Help us, forgive us and sanctify us for your glory, In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen!

Friday, September 18th, 2020

Just As I Am

When poet Charlotte Elliott was at a dinner party in the early 19th century, an elderly man asked her if she was a Christian. She considered his question inappropriate, but later asked him what he meant. Charlotte eventually decided to follow Christ after talking with him, and wrote Just As I Am in 1835 soon after, remembering his words that she could come to Jesus “just as she was.” This later became a popular song during Billy Graham’s crusades in the 20th century. Original Lyrics from Charlotte Elliot, 1835:

 

Just as I am - without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
-O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am - and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot,
-O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am - though toss'd about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
-O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am - poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need, in Thee to find,
-O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am - Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
-O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am - Thy love unknown
Has broken every barrier down;
Now to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
-O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am - of that free love
The breadth, length, depth, and height to prove
Here for a season, then above,
-O Lamb of God, I come

 

Dear Lord Jesus, we come to you just as we are. Thank you for accepting us and redeeming us by your grace. Amen!

Thursday, September 17th, 2020

 

The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places he planned to visit. 2 These were his instructions to them: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields. 3 Now go and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves. Luke 10: 1-3

 

Pencil Story

The Pencil Maker took the pencil aside, just before putting him into the box. “There are 5 things you need to know,” he told the pencil, “Before I send you out into the world. Always remember them and never forget, and you will become the best pencil you can be.”

One:  “You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in someone’s hand.” Two: “You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, but you’ll need it to become a better pencil.” Three: “You will be able to correct any mistakes you might make.” Four: “The most important part of you will always be what’s inside.” And Five: “On every surface, you are used on, you must leave your mark. No matter what the condition, you must continue to write.”

The pencil understood and promised to remember, and went into the box with purpose in its heart.

 

Now replacing the place of the pencil with you.  Always remember them and never forget, and you will become the best person you can be. One: You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in God’s hand. And allow other human beings to access you for the many gifts you possess. Two: You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, by going through various problems in life, but you’ll need it to become a stronger person. Three: You will be able to correct any mistakes you might make. Four: The most important part of you will always be what’s on the inside.

And Five: On every surface, you walk through, you must leave your mark. No matter what the situation, you must continue to do your duties. Allow this parable on the pencil to encourage you to know that you are a special person, and only you can fulfill the purpose to which you were born to accomplish. Never allow yourself to get discouraged and think that your life is insignificant and cannot make a change.

 

Dear God, even as we are sent out into the world by your Son Jesus Christ, to share the Good News of the Kingdom of God and stand as faithful witnesses in this world, we ask for your guidance and mercy on us. In the gracious name of your Son our Lord Jesus, we pray. Amen!

Wednesday, September 16th, 2020

 

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139: 14

                         

Scripture teaches us that we are wonderfully and carefully created by our God. The God who even knew us when we were in our mother’s womb. Scripture also talks that we are made in the very ‘image of God’ – ‘imago dei’. “Imago Dei” comes from the Latin version of the Bible, translated to English as “image of God.” "Image of God" is defined as the metaphysical expression, associated uniquely to humans, which signifies the symbolical connection between God and humanity. Despite all the flaws of human nature, we have the intrinsic ability to live with and express the beauty of the divine in and through our lives.

 

The Rose Within

A certain man planted a rose and watered it faithfully and before it blossomed, he examined it. He saw the bud that would soon blossom but noticed thorns upon the stem and he thought, “How can any beautiful flower come from a plant burdened with so many sharp thorns? Saddened by this thought, he neglected to water the rose, and just before it was ready to bloom… it died.

So it is with many people. Within every soul, there is a rose. The God-like qualities planted in us at birth, grow amid the thorns of our faults. Many of us look at ourselves and see only the thorns, the defects. We despair, thinking that nothing good can possibly come from us. We neglect to water the good within us, and eventually, it dies. We never realize our potential. Some people do not see the rose within themselves; someone else must show it to them. One of the greatest gifts a person can possess is to be able to reach past the thorns of another and find the rose within them.

This is one of the characteristics of love… to look at a person, know their true faults, and accepting that person into your life… all the while recognizing the nobility in their soul. Help others to realize they can overcome their faults. If we show them the “rose” within themselves, they will conquer their thorns. Only then will they blossom many times over.

 

Heavenly Father, we thank you for creating us in your image. Help us reflect your goodness and beauty in this often dark and unpleasant world. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen!

Tuesday, September 15th, 2020

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Ephesians 4: 1

 

Story of the year

Mountain Story – An interesting short story

“A son and his father were walking in the mountains.
Suddenly, his son falls, hurts himself, and screams: “AAAhhhhhhhhhhh!!!”
To his surprise, he hears the voice repeating, somewhere in the mountain: “AAAhhhhhhhhhhh!!!”
Curious, he yells: “Who are you?”
He receives the answer: “Who are you?”
And then he screams to the mountain: “I admire you!”
The voice answers: “I admire you!”
Angered at the response, he screams: “Coward!”
He receives the answer: “Coward!”
He looks to his father and asks: “What’s going on?”
The father smiles and says: “My son, pay attention.”
Again the man screams: “You are a champion!”
The voice answers: “You are a champion!”
The boy is surprised but does not understand.
Then the father explains: “People call this ECHO, but really this is LIFE.
It gives you back everything you say or do.
Our life is simply a reflection of our actions.
If you want more love in the world, create more love in your heart.
If you want more competence in your team, improve your competence.
This relationship applies to everything, in all aspects of life;
Life will give you back everything you have given to it.”

YOUR LIFE IS NOT A COINCIDENCE. IT’S A REFLECTION OF YOU!”
— Unknown Author

 

Heavenly God, giver of all good things, source of life, we thank you for your guidance and blessings. We thank you for the unfolding of your plan and will for our lives. Help us to live worthy of your calling. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen!

Monday, September 14th, 2020

1. “The first service one owes to others in a community involves listening to them. Just as our love for God begins with listening to God’s Word, the beginning of love for others is learning to listen to them. God’s love for us is shown by the fact that God not only gives God’s Word but also lends us God’s ear.  . . . We do God’s work for our brothers and sisters when we learn to listen to them."

2. “Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.” 

3. “We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.” 

4. “The Church is the Church only when it exists for others . . . not dominating, but helping and serving. It must tell men of every calling what it means to live for Christ, to exist for others.” 

5. “The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.” 

6. “There is meaning in every journey that is unknown to the traveler.”

7. “We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts. How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from Him the little things?"

8. “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” 

9. “One act of obedience is worth a hundred sermons.” 

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was an anti-Nazi theologian and pastor during World War II. Best remembered for authoring the Christian classics The Cost of Discipleship and Life Together, Bonhoeffer was born in 1906 in Germany and began his journey in church leadership during the rise of the Nazi regime.

More than seventy years after his death, his life and writings serve as a touchstone for all of us who seek to understand a Christian's responsibility in the face of injustice -- and as an encouragement to serve no matter how great the cost. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5MAdRt2qO0&feature=emb_logo

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8: 12

 

When I Am Among the Trees

by Mary Oliver

 

When I am among the trees,

especially the willows and the honey locust,

equally the beech, the oaks, and the pines,

they give off such hints of gladness.

I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,

in which I have goodness and discernment,

and never hurry through the world

but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me, the trees stir in their leaves

and call out, “Stay awhile.”

The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,

“and you too have come

into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled

with light, and to shine.”

 

Heavenly Father, as we live in the world as a part of your creation, we call upon thee to shed your divine light on us as we navigate through the dark valleys of this world. Help us and guide us. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen!

September 12th, 2020

 

And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! Luke 12:22-24 

There Was Once a Boy…

The Story:

There was once a boy who was growing up in a very wealthy family. One day, his father decided to take him on a trip to show him how others lived who were less fortunate. His father’s goal was to help his son appreciate everything that he has been given in life.

The boy and his father pulled up to a farm where a very poor family lived. They spent several days on the farm, helping the family work for their food and take care of their land. When they left the farm, his dad asked his son if he enjoyed their trip and if he had learned anything during the time they spent with this other family.

The boy quickly replied, “It was fantastic, that family is so lucky!”

Confused, his father asked what he meant by that.

The boy said, “Well, we only have one dog, but that family has four–and they have chickens! We have four people in our home, but they have 12! They have so many people to play with! We have a pool in our yard, but they have a river running through their property that is endless. We have lanterns outside so we can see at night, but they have the wide-open sky and the beautiful stars to give them wonder and light. We have a patio, but they have the entire horizon to enjoy–they have endless fields to run around in and play. We have to go to the grocery store, but they are able to grow their own food. Our high fence protects our property and our family, but they don‘t need such a limiting structure, because their friends protect them.”

The father was speechless.

Finally, the boy added, “Thank you for showing me how rich people live, they’re so lucky.”

The Moral:

True wealth and happiness aren’t measured by material belongings. Being around the people you love, enjoying the beautiful, natural environment, and having freedom is much more valuable. A rich life can mean different things to different people. What are your values and priorities? 

 

Dear God, thank you for your providence and all that you have given to us. Help us to be thankful and help us to be helpful for those in need. Help us set our values and priorities the right way. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen!

 

https://www.developgoodhabits.com/inspirational-stories/

Friday, September 11, 2020

 

When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61: 2

 

It is easy to say, ‘we trust God’ but in truth and reality, it is difficult and harder to live out this truth in life. If we really find rest and hope in God alone and God’s saving presence, nothing else matters in terms of our security and well-being. We stand on firm ground, unshaken and protected from all dangers and evils of the world. God promises to protect and secure and surround us in spite of that threaten us in our lives journey. In this world, we are at times overwhelmed and overburdened with worries, stress, death, and destruction. Today we remember all those who perished in the senseless terrorist acts in 2001. Today we remember and pray for the families and communities who lost their loved ones. Today we are called to intercede for all those who are still hurting because of all the senseless and criminal acts of people on their fellow human beings. Even as we remember and pray we need to look at the ‘rock’ that is higher than us. The rock that assures security and well-being. The LORD is our Rock and our Redeemer. We can be assured He knows our way and holds us safely in His hands, no matter what we're up against. We don't have to try to control everything, we can just let it go safely into His hands. All the worries, the burdens, the stress, and feelings of being overwhelmed. There is great power in standing firm on the Rock that never moves. He promises to hold us safe and steady, redeeming every broken place. God promises that ‘he will never leave us nor forsake us’. We can trust in Him. He is faithful and true. Safe and secure. The only place where our weary souls can find rest.

 

Into your hands, we commit ourselves O LORD. Help us experience the safety and security that you offer. We pray for all those who are going through difficult life situations and all those who have lost a loved one and those who are affected by the senseless terrorist acts in the world. We remember the families of 9/11. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen!

September 10th, 2020

 

In ancient times, people believed that as the planets revolved in the universe, they made music or harmony. This is the belief Maltbie Babcock referred to in the line, “and round me rings the music of the spheres.” Though this belief has since been disproven, we know that objects in space do in fact emit sounds. Even more amazing, the ocean is also making noises at its very lowest and darkest depths - sounds which scientists are still unable to identify. The whole universe is singing a song of its creation, revealing something to us about He who created it. Creation is fallen and broken. Yet, it also still belongs to God. We are thus charged to listen attentively to the voice of God in His world – from the heights of space to the depths of the ocean - and witness how He restores it, listening for our own calling to be stewards of Creation.

 

1 This is my Father's world, And to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings, The music of the spheres.
This is my Father's world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas-- His hand the wonders wrought.

 

2 This is my Father's world: The birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, Declare their Maker's praise.
This is my Father's world: He shines in all that's fair;
In the rustling grass, I hear Him pass, He speaks to me everywhere.

 

3 This is my Father's world: O let me ne'er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet.
This is my Father's world: Why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King: let the heavens ring! God reigns; let the earth be glad!

 

Maltbie D. Babcock (b. Syracuse, NY, 1858; d. Naples, Italy, 1901) graduated from Syracuse University, New York, and Auburn Theological Seminary (now associated with Union Theological Seminary in New York) and became a Presbyterian minister. He served the Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, Maryland, and the Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City. In Baltimore, he was especially popular with students from Johns Hopkins University, but he ministered to people from all walks of life. Babcock wrote hymn texts and devotional, poems, some of which were published in The School Hymnal (1899). 

 

Dear LORD help us to listen to the rhythms and melody of the universe and join in the chorus to praise your most holy name. In name of Jesus, we pray. Amen!

September 9th, 2020

 

1 Guide me, O my great Redeemer,
pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but you are mighty;
hold me with your powerful hand.
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven,
feed me now and evermore,
feed me now and evermore.

 

2 Open now the crystal fountain,
where the healing waters flow.
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
lead me all my journey through.
Strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer,
ever be my strength and shield,
ever be my strength and shield.

 

3 When I tread the verge of Jordan,
bid my anxious fears subside.
Death of death, and hell's Destruction,
land me safe on Canaan's side.
Songs of praises, songs of praises
I will ever sing to you,
I will ever sing to you.

Guide me, O Thou Great Jehovah

Author: William Williams (1745); Translator: Peter Williams (1771)

William Williams called the "Watts of Wales," was born in 1717, at Cefn-y-coed, near Llandovery, Carmarthenshire. He originally studied medicine but abandoned it for theology. He was ordained Deacon in the Church of England but was refused Priest's Orders, and subsequently attached himself to the Calvinistic Methodists. For half a century he traveled in Wales, preaching the Gospel. He died in 1791. Williams composed his hymns chiefly in the Welsh language; they are still largely used by various religious bodies in the principality. The original text of this hymn was written in Welsh by William Williams, a circuit-riding preacher, in 1745, and given the original title, “A prayer for strength to go through the wilderness of the world.” It has since been translated in seventy-five languages. It was translated into English by Peter Williams (no relation) in 1771. Most modern hymnals now use the first verse of Peter’s translation and the last two from William’s own translation into English. William often used the metaphor of “pilgrimage” in his hymn texts, and this is no exception. The general theme of the song is an allusion to the Israelites’ journey through the desert to reach the Promised Land. Not knowing what the future holds brings a certain uneasiness to our lives. And yet, in a strange kind of way, there is comfort in the fact as well. Whatever happens to us or our loved ones is out of our hands; we simply couldn’t know anything about it if we tried. There is a common phrase: “Let go, and let God.” In this hymn by William Williams, we are given the words to express our prayer that God would guide us as we walk through a life of unknowns. 

 

Dear God help us that we are always ready to go with you wherever you take us with songs of praises on our lips. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen!

September 8th, 2020

 

“Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue.”  Psalms 120:2

“The lip of truth shall be established forever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment.”  Proverbs 12:19

 

The Ultimate Test

The Story:

One night, four college students stayed up late partying, even though they knew they had a test the next day. The next morning, they came up with a plan to get out of having to take their test. Each student rolled around in the dirt and then went to the teacher’s office.

They told the teacher that they had gotten a flat tire the night before, and they spent the entire night pushing their car back to campus.

The teacher listened, and to the students’ delight, he offered a retest three days later.

On the day of the test, the students went to their teacher’s office. The teacher put all four of the students in separate rooms to take the test. The students were okay with that because they had been given a chance to study.

The test had 2 questions:

1) Your Name __________ (1 Points)

2) Which tire was flat? __________ (99 Points)

Front Right

Front Left

Back Right

Back Left

 

The Moral:

Aside from making wise decisions, you always need to take responsibility for your actions. This means not blaming other people for your mistakes, not complaining about the reality of the present moment, and not giving in to other people’s pressure.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, we pray that you give us wisdom and knowledge. Help us to always be truthful and sincere in all that we do. Guide our paths in righteousness and help us in our shortcomings. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen!

September 7, 2020

Let the favor the Lord our God be upon us,
    and establish the work of our hands upon us;
    yes, establish the work of our hands! Psalm 90:17

 

Moses implores the Lord to place His favor upon him and the Israelites. He also asks the Lord to prosper all that they did. Moses often used the praise, "the work of our hands." In Deuteronomy, for example, when he instructed Israel about God's laws, he explained, "that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do" (Deuteronomy 14:29; 16:15; 24:19; 28:12; 30:9).

Anything we do without the Lord's help and blessing amount to nothing. Psalm 127:1 assures us, "Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain." Shining through this song of Moses is a song of praise that reflects the unshakable trust that Moses had in the Lord our God. And so he concludes with this beautiful prayer: Let the beauty and favor of the Lord our God be upon us. May He establish for us the work of our hands and maybe bless the endeavor of our lives.

 

Heavenly Father, we pray that you bless all that we do every day. May the deeper work of the Spirit lead and guide us in all that we do. We pray that you bless the work of the student and our children. We pray that you bless the labor of our hands and all our vocations. We pray for our work at the church. We pray that you bless the work of our hands in our kitchens and all the work we do for others. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen!

September 6, 2020

 

Let’s not get tired of doing what is good, for at the right time we will reap a harvest—if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

 

The Boulder and the Gold

There once was a king who decided to do a little experiment. He had a giant boulder put right in the middle of the street. He then hid near the boulder to see who, if anyone, would try to move it out of the way. First, some wealthy merchants walked by. They walked around the boulder, complaining that the king hasn’t been maintaining the roads very well. Next, a peasant walked by, heading home with his arms full of food for his family. When he noticed the boulder, he put his groceries down and attempted to move it out of everyone’s way. It took him a while to move it, but he eventually succeeded. After the peasant gathered up his groceries to carry on home, he noticed a bag lying in the middle of the road, just where the boulder once was. He opened the bag to find that it was stuffed full of gold coins, along with a letter from the king saying that the bag’s gold was a reward for the peasant to keep because he had taken the time and energy to move the boulder out of the road for the convenience of others who would be travelling the road in the future.

The Moral:

The peasant in this story was taught by the king that every obstacle you face offers an opportunity to improve. If you’re able to push through moments that are challenging, you may end up being much better off than you were before you started trying. This story also offers a lesson on personal responsibility. If you see a job ahead of you, don’t leave it for the next person to do. Rather, step up and get the job done to help the people who come after you.

https://www.developgoodhabits.com/inspirational-stories/

 

Help us O God to do the right things, to be channels of your goodness and truth, to stand for justice and mercy. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen!

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

 

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:5

 

God’s gift of the spirit was absolutely and unequivocally free. The gift of love that Paul described was “poured” into our hearts. It is like an endless stream. It is plentiful and life-enhancing. One time a school teacher was registering two new students who were sisters. She asked their ages and requested their birth dates. One of the sisters said, “We’re both seven. My birthday is on April 8th, and my sisters is on April 20th.” The teacher replied, “That’s impossible.” “No, it’s true,” said the other sister. One of us is adopted.” “Oh,” the teacher said, “Which one?” The two sisters looked at each other, and then the first one said, “We asked our parents that same question a long time ago. And they said, they loved us both equally and couldn’t remember which one of us was adopted.” That is a wonderful example of how the grace of God works. God has no strings attached when it comes to loving us. God loves each of us the same.

 

Loving heavenly Father, we thank you for your unconditional love for each of us shown to us through the sacrifice of your son Jesus Christ. Help us to live as channels of your love and grace in this world. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen!

 

Please click on the following link to hear our Bishop’s message:

https://vimeo.com/472237587

Monday, October 26th, 2020

 

Wait For The Brick

A young and successful executive was traveling down a neighborhood street, going a bit too fast in his new Jaguar. He was watching for kids darting out from between parked cars and slowed down when he thought he saw something. As his car passed, no children appeared. Instead, a brick smashed into the Jag’s side door! He slammed on the brakes and drove the Jag back to the spot where the brick had been thrown. The angry driver then jumped out of the car, grabbed the nearest kid, and pushed him up against a parked car, shouting, “What was that all about and who are you?

 Just what the heck are you doing?

 That’s a new car and that brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money.

 Why did you do it?”

 The young boy was apologetic. “Please mister … please, I’m sorry… I didn’t know what else to do,” he pleaded.

 “I threw the brick because no one else would stop…”

 With tears dripping down his face and off his chin, the youth pointed to a spot just around a parked car.

 “It’s my brother,” he said.

 “He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair, and I can’t lift him up.”

Now sobbing, the boy asked the stunned executive, “Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He’s hurt, and he’s too heavy for me.”

 Moved beyond words, the driver tried to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat. He hurriedly lifted the handicapped boy back into the wheelchair, then took out his fancy handkerchief and dabbed at the fresh scrapes and cuts. A quick look told him everything was going to be okay.

“Thank you, and may God bless you,” the grateful child told the stranger.

 Too shook up for words, the man simply watched the little boy push his wheelchair-bound brother down the sidewalk toward their home. It was a long, slow walk back to the Jaguar. The damage was very noticeable, but the driver never bothered to repair the dented side door. He kept the dent there to remind him of this message: Don’t go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention!

God whispers in our souls and speaks to our hearts. Sometimes when we don’t have time to listen, He has to throw a brick at us.

It’s our choice: Listen to the whisper … or wait for the brick!

Sunday, October 25th, 2020

 

I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds. Psalm 77:11-12

 

Memory and forgetfulness are two important things that influence our approach to life, events, and persons. We remember several things in life. Yesterday one of our daughters was telling me that the memory of her phone is full and she cannot store anything else more unless she deletes some of her important files or pictures. Thanks are to God for blessing us with a memory that has a capacity to store much, however, some of us struggle with memory loss due to age and other physical factors. Nevertheless, memory is God’s gift! Psalm 77 is a great example of remembering the good that God has done in someone’s life. Remembering the mighty deeds and miracles of God in our lives renews our faith in God. The psalmist reminds us to meditate on the mighty deeds of God in our lives.

 

Dear heavenly father we remember your mighty deeds and miracles in our lives. We thank you for your faithfulness and providence in our lives. Help us to always live gratefully. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen!

Saturday, October 24th, 2020

 

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1: 9. 

 

Life will have many challenges and obstacles in it—things that worry us and cause us to fear the future. At some point in our lives, we all face fearful situations. Perhaps we dread poor health, financial problems, the loss of a loved one, or uncertainty about the future. Or maybe we’re afraid of failure because we feel weak and inadequate for a particular task or challenge. Whatever our fears may be, we must learn how to face them as God desires—with courage. Our God is the giver of strength when we need it. He will give us courage when the task at hand requires courage. Just knowing He is with us will calm our fears. In scripture, we find God mentioning to fear not. He knew that fear would be one of our biggest challenges. God doesn’t just send us on our difficult journeys but promises that He will accompany us. It’s a promise He keeps, just like all His other ones.

Joshua 1:1-9, was written long ago, but its principles regarding courage are still true for those of us living today. Fear is an internal alarm that goes off within us in some fashion when we’re facing imminent danger, feeling threatened, or feeling helpless to avoid or change the situation. But Courage is the quality of mind or spirit that enables us to meet danger or face opposition or the challenges of life with fearlessness, calmness, and firmness.

 

Dear God, thank you for your presence and assurance of grace in our lives. Help us to live lives worthy of your love and calling. In Crist’s name, we pray. Amen!

Friday, October 23rd, 2020

 

The things that are impossible with people are possible with God. Luke 18: 27 

 

In life, we often come up against situations that are much too big for us. We try to figure things out, but we come up against a brick wall. We have no solutions, no answers. And then we fall to our knees; we have to because we know we don’t have the answers we so desperately need. We know in our heart of hearts that some things are just impossible. It is then we put our trust in the one who has no limits, for it doesn’t matter how impossible it may look to us. God is the all-sufficient one. He is the one who loves the impossible. Today, some of us might be at that point where we find everything going against us, where situations of life are pushing hard on us, and we have come to a standstill, not knowing where to go and what to do. It is at that time we can lean on the possibilities and power of our God that makes the impossible possible!

 

Heavenly Father, we acknowledge the limits of our being and understanding, and we lean on you, our rock and redeemer. Help us, guide us, and lead us according to your will and purpose for our lives. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen!

Thursday, October 22nd, 2020

 

He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. Psalm 91: 4

 

An article in National Geographic several years ago provided this penetrating picture.

 After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno's damage. One ranger found an eagle literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother's wings. The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise. She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her babies. When the blaze had arrived and the heat had singed her small body, the mother had remained steadfast. Because she had been willing to die, those under the cover of her wings would live.

 

This is the picture that the psalmist has in mind when he talks of God's wings: "He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge" (Ps 91:4). Whatever comes our way – whether it is tribulation, distress, death, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword – God works it out for our ultimate good. Just like the eagle staying with its chicks in the Yellowstone fire, so God stays with us no matter what. 

 

Heavenly Father, our protector and sustainer, we surrender ourselves unto your care and protection. Help us to experience your presence and faithfulness in our lives and help us to live according to your will. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen!

 

To watch “Bishop's Monday Message: Vote!” Please click the following link.

https://vimeo.com/469793510

Wednesday, October 21st, 2020


And these are they whom David set over the service of song in the house of the LORD, after that the ark had rest. 1 Chronicle 6: 31, 32.

 

There's nothing like a good hymn to truly make you feel closer to the Lord. When you sing out those lyrics, it's almost like His strength and love wash over us. And one of the most powerful hymns of all time is 'How Great Thou Art.' I just love hearing this amazing hymn and now that I know the story behind the song, it makes it that much more beautiful.

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder, 
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made; 
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, 
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Chorus:
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee, 
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee, 
How great Thou art, How great Thou art! 

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander, 
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

 

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation, 
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration, 
And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!"

 

The Story behind How Great Thou Art

Stuart K. Hine was a British Methodist missionary on a mission trip in Ukraine in 1931 when he heard the Russian translation of a German song inspired by Carl Boberg's poem "O Store Gud" (O Great God). Hine began to translate the song into English and added several verses. The third verse was inspired by the conversion of villagers in Russia who cried out to God loudly as they repented and realized God's love and mercy - "And when I think that God, His Son not sparing, Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in." 

Stuart Hine and his family left Ukraine as famine and World War Two began and settled in Somerset, Britain where he continued to serve as a missionary to polish refugees. The fourth verse of "How Great Thou Art" was inspired by displaced Russians who experienced great loss and looked forward to seeing their loved ones again in heaven - "When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation to take me home, what joy shall fill my heart."

The final English version of "How Great Thou Art" was published in 1949 and quickly spread among Britain, Africa, India, and America. 

 

Gracious God our heavenly Father we thank you for opportunities to come together as the Body of Christ and to sing praises together. We thank you for the music ministry of our church. Help us always to come together to offer praise to your holy name through our voices and instruments. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen!

Tuesday, October 20th, 2020

 

For he commands his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. They will lift you up in your hands so that you won't strike your foot against a stone. Psalm 91: 11,12.

 

When our daughters were young we got them an Angel doll that has a prayer if you squeeze it. The girls were very interested to hear the doll speak and as they grew up they enquired about angels and guardian angels. We explained to them that God loves and cares for each of us and he commands his angels to guard us against dangers and temptations. The prayer, which many of us recognize is like the following:

 

Now I lay me down to sleep,

                                    I pray the Lord my soul to keep.                                    

                Guard me, Jesus, through the night,                  

And wake me with the morning light.

 

The angels are continually spoken of in Scripture. First of all, we read of them in connection with the story of Hagar, and from then on the pages of Holy Scripture make perpetual references to them. They are spoken of there is a clear and positive manner, as to their high dignity, their sanctity, power, blessedness, their heavenly home, their employments, vast numbers, and immortality. All this is told of the holy angels. Today, we cannot think that their work and ministry are finished and that now they have nothing to do with us, nor we with them. We feel sure that the reverse is the truth. True, there has been much of mere imagination in the representations that have been given of angels by poets, painters, and preachers alike. Our loving God continues to have angels take care of us. I don’t necessarily only believe that angels are some heavenly and celestial beings. I believe the scripture making several references to people like you and me, who are used by God to play the role of angels in other people’s lives. We can attest to the fact that several people might have been our angels in our life. So also God encourages us to be angels who take care of others around us.

 

Heavenly Father we thank you for placing angels in our lives. Help us also to take up the roles of being angels in the lives of people we know. We pray for all those who dedicate their lives to the well-being of others. We pray for all the healthcare workers, armed forces, and law and order establishment. Bless them O Lord. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen!

Monday, October 19th, 2020

 

Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. Job 38: 1

 

By the time we get to the 38th chapter of Job, Job had just had it. He’d been through a horrible time where he’d lost everything from his house to his self-respect. He owned nothing material anymore; he was wracked with illness, his wife had left him. Job had a few friends left if you could call them that, and they showed up to pay a visit. But his friends are no help at all, placing responsibility for every misery right at Job’s feet. And the worst thing of all–worse than anything he could have ever imagined–was that the God who had been so close and intimate, such an important part of Job’s life, the God around whom Job had built his very purpose for living, seemed like he was hiding or missing! Job at this point in his life questions the intentions and the power and presence of God in the life of his people. When all Job could feel was the absence of God, God himself finally appeared, out of the whirlwind, to remind Job of a story:

“Who made the foundations of the earth?” God asked. “Do you remember the story?”

“Who laid the cornerstone of the earth while the morning stars sang together and the heavenly beings shouted for joy?”

“Who gave birth to the sea and told it, ‘This far you shall come and no further’?”

“Who commands the morning and knows the way to the dwelling of light?”

“Who tilts the waterskins of the heavens to bring rain to the earth?”

“Who has bestowed wisdom and given understanding to you?”

“Who, Job? Remember? Remember the stories of my creative power, providential care, and divine orchestration? Remember?”

And suddenly, even though the pain did not go away, Job began to understand that in spite of not feeling the presence of God in his life, God was still present and God’s grace was sufficient for him during the storms and calamities of life. How do we understand the presence of God in our lives today?

 

Heavenly Father, our creator and sustainer, we thank you for your presence and providence in our lives. We repent of our complaining and murmuring in the journey of our lives. Help us to feel your presence and tap into your power. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen!

Sunday, October 18th, 2020

 

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41

 

Growing up in India, I remember we had family prayer every evening and early in the morning. I remember that I and my siblings would go back to sleep when our elders were praying. We used to kneel with our heads down and slip into sleep. It was so funny and we used to laugh about it. As a Pastor even today, I see some in the churches struggling to keep their eyes open during service or especially during sermon. It is funny! But the words “Watch and pray” were the words eminently characteristic of our Lord’s teaching to his disciples. It became the watchword of the early disciples and left its mark in the history of Christendom.

Jesus came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "What! Could you not watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. In their defeat, they denied the Lord Jesus and fled as he was facing his greatest trial. He prayed throughout the time in the Garden of Gethsemane, while the disciples were sleeping. A watchful person opens his/her spiritual eyes to enable them to pray appropriately. A watching person is one who repents of his/her sins and obeys God. Watchful persons are spiritually alert and very aware that sin still dwells in them. A watchful person is guided by the knowledge of God. Such a person abides in the word of God. Watch and pray today and always. It will be a continual struggle because our sinful flesh wants our faith to fall asleep. But through the word and help from the Holy Spirit, our spirits are strengthened to watch and pray.

 

Gracious God, help us to stay alert, to watch and pray that we do not fall into temptation. Lead us and guide us on our spiritual journey. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen!

Saturday, October 17th, 2020

 

Psalm 23 A Psalm of David.

1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2     He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
3     he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

 

There is an old Arab proverb that says: “All sunshine & no rain makes a desert.’ If we never have any downtimes or any dark and gloomy times in our lives, then our lives will be all dried up. It takes the good and bad times to strengthen us and bring us into spiritual maturity. Each of our lives are a mixture of pain and pleasure, and victories and failures. We have both the experiences of being on the mountain top and also walking through the deepest and darkest valleys. In all situations our LORD is like a shepherd, protecting and guiding us. As Psalm 34:7 promises, ‘The angel of the LORD encamps round about them that fear Him & delivers them.’

 

Dear Heavenly Father, our shepherd, we thank you for your presence and protection. We thank you for caring and sustaining us. We thank you for your Son Jesus Christ, who sacrificed himself for each of us. In his name we pray and trust. Amen

Thursday, October 15th, 2020

 

But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them. Luke 24: 29

 

The popular hymn “Abide with Me” was written by Pastor Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847) just before he died of tuberculosis. The title of the hymn is taken from Luke 24: 29, when those who walked with Christ on the road to Emmaus said, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” The hymn was sung for the first time at his funeral, and it has been sung in Christian homes, churches, and at countless funerals ever since. May it be a comfort to you as you think about the richness of its lyrics and on He who abides with us even in our darkest hours.

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

 

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

 

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

 

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

 

Gracious God, Heavenly Father, we seek your presence with us in our life’s journey. Abide with us. Strengthen us as we move forward and help us to live according to your will and to bring glory to your holy name. In the name of Jesus, we pray!

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

 

We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

 

The Struggles of Our Life

Once upon a time, a daughter complained to her father that her life was miserable and that she didn’t know how she was going to make it. She was tired of fighting and struggling all the time. It seemed just as one problem was solved, another one soon followed. Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen. He filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Once the three pots began to boil, he placed potatoes in one pot, eggs in the second pot, and ground coffee beans in the third pot. He then let them sit and boil, without saying a word to his daughter. The daughter moaned and impatiently waited, wondering what he was doing. After twenty minutes he turned off the burners.

He took the potatoes out of the pot and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. He then ladled the coffee out and placed it in a cup.

Turning to her, he asked. “Daughter, what do you see?”

“Potatoes, eggs, and coffee,” she hastily replied. “Look closer,” he said, “and touch the potatoes.” She did and noted that they were soft. He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. Its rich aroma brought a smile to her face. “Father, what does this mean?” she asked. He then explained that the potatoes, the eggs, and coffee beans had each faced the same adversity-the boiling water. However, each one reacted differently. The potato went in strong, hard, and unrelenting, but in boiling water, it became soft and weak. The egg was fragile, with the thin outer shell protecting its liquid interior until it was put in the boiling water. Then the inside of the egg became hard. However, the ground coffee beans were unique. After they were exposed to the boiling water, they changed the water and created something new. “Which one are you?” he asked his daughter.

“When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a potato, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

 

Moral of the story: 

In life, things happen around us, things happen to us, but the only thing that truly matters is how you choose to react to it and what you make out of it. Life is all about learning, adapting, and converting all the struggles that we experience into something positive.

 

God of all grace and mercy, lead us and guide us and strengthen us to face the struggles and challenges of life with courage and hope. In Christ's name, we pray. Amen!

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43: 2.

 

As Christians, we always hold on to the assurances we got from God through the scripture. The truth of God’s Word has been tried and tested by a myriad of saints down through the centuries, who not only trusted Him for their salvation but continued to trust Him through all the circumstances of life - for He has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake. The storms of life are real. These storms of life can roll in and roll over us fast. Blue skies and green pastures turn into dark and gloomy days. The storms of life can result from certain conversations with others, a diagnosis, an accident, or life-changing situations. Several times we end up not knowing why and when these storms occurred leaving us flat and hitting us hard. But the truth is that we have an assurance that the promises of God’s protection and His help are available for all who trust in His name. The children of Israel walked through the Red Sea on dry land and yet the same waters submerged the enemies of the Lord. 

 

Loving God, as we face the storms of life and are being overwhelmed, may we remember your words of truth and assurance. Help us to find security and solace under your watch. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen!

 

Bishop’s Monday Message 10.12.20

https://vimeo.com/467419546

Monday, October 12th, 2020

“God is too good to be unkind and He is too wise to be mistaken. And when we cannot trace His hand, we must trust His heart.” - Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

 

A prolific author and speaker, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, born in 1834, produced more than 3,600 sermons and dozens of books before his death in 1892. Spurgeon came to the Lord as a teenager, apparently by accident. En route to an appointment, he was sidetracked by a snowstorm and took refuge in a chapel, where he heard the salvation message. The event set him on the path of becoming the most popular preacher in nineteenth-century England. His first congregation quickly outgrew their building and moved into the Metropolitan Tabernacle, the largest church of its time, where Spurgeon taught a congregation of more than five thousand each week. His sermons, recorded by stenographers and published weekly, are some of the best-selling sermons in Christian history. In the midst of his success, Spurgeon made bold moves that undermined his popularity, including openly condemning the owning of slaves. This stand for justice drastically cut the sales of his sermons and created a rift between him and some American publishers and churches, but Spurgeon maintained his stance that the church's job has always been "to destroy everything that is bad in the land."

Some of his famous quotes:

- “We are not responsible to God for the soul that are saved, but we are responsible for the Gospel that is preached, and for the way in which we preach it.”

- "I would go to the deeps a hundred times to cheer a downcast spirit. It is good for me to have been afflicted, that I might know how to speak a word in season to one that is weary.”

- “Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the book widens and deepens with our years.”

- "No faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs through adversity. Tested faith brings experience. You would never have believed your own weakness had you not needed to pass through trials. And you would never have known God’s strength had His strength not been needed to carry you through.”

- “Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but only empties today of its strength.”

- “Learn to say no. It will be of more use to you than to be able to read Latin.”

- “Sickness may befall, but the Lord will give grace; poverty may happen to us, but grace will surely be afforded; death must come but grace will light a candle at the darkest hour. Reader, how blessed it is as years roll round, and the leaves begin again to fall, to enjoy such an unfading promise as this, 'The Lord will give grace.'”

- “Doubt not his grace because of thy tribulation, but believe that he loveth thee as much in seasons of trouble as in times of happiness.”

The Blessing of our God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be with each one of you now and always. Amen!

Sunday, October 11th, 2020

 

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14: 27

 

This morning let us remind ourselves that Covid-19 that is affecting the entire humanity has infected over 7.5 million people and took over 213,000 lives in the US. The storms, the wildfires, and this week the floods and storms in the south have affected millions of lives. In 2019, there were an estimated 1,203,808 violent crimes. The estimated number of aggravated assault offenses rose by 1.3%, and the volume of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter offenses increased by 0.3%. Nationwide, there were an estimated 6,925,677 property crimes. The FBI estimated law enforcement agencies nationwide made 10.1 million arrests, (excluding those for traffic violations) in 2019. Beyond those statistics from the FBI, there are a whole host of others things that can and do produced fear and anxiety in us: global terrorism, financial uncertainty, downsizing, upsizing (in terms of our waistlines), which then goes to medical fears: diabetes, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's, even new strains of viruses, super viruses, pandemics; automobile accidents; airlines accidents; a house fire, a carbon monoxide leak, a child kidnapped, a sick child.

The world sometimes can be a scary place.

 

But this morning, God wants to remind us of the hope that Jesus expressed in John 16: 33 when he spoke these words to His disciples: "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."

 

Gracious God, we bring to you all that is happening around us, we lift up everyone who is affected by troubles and crises in their lives. We pray for our country and the world. We pray for our leaders and the healthcare workers and law enforcement officers who risk their lives to keep all people safe. We pray for your peace, presence, and protection. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen!

Saturday, October 10th, 2020

 

1 The church's one foundation is Jesus Christ, her Lord;
she is his new creation by water and the Word:
from heav'n he came and sought her to be his holy bride;
with his own blood, he bought her, and for her life, he died.

 

2 Elect from ev'ry nation, yet one o'er all the earth,
her charter of salvation one Lord, one faith, one birth;
one holy name she blesses partakes one holy food,
and to one hope she presses, with ev'ry grace endued.

 

6 Yet she on earth hath union with the God the Three in One,
and mystic sweet communion With those whose rest is won:
O happy ones and holy! Lord, give us grace that we,
like them, the meek and lowly, on high may dwell with thee.

 

This well-known hymn arose out of a theological controversy in the mid-nineteenth century. John W. Colenso, Anglican bishop of Natal, South Africa, wrote a book that expressed critical views of the historicity of parts of Scripture and questioned some articles of the Christian faith. Samuel J. Stone (b. Whitmore, Staffordshire, England, 1839; d. London, England, 1900), a clergyman in Windsor, England, was one of the people who defended the orthodox Christian faith. He did so in part by publishing his Lyra Fidelium; Twelve Hymns on the Twelve Articles of the Apostles' Creed (1866). “The Church's One Foundation” was his hymn on the article "the holy catholic church, the communion of saints." Stone's text originally had seven stanzas, but he added three more in 1885 for processional use at Salisbury Cathedral. Of those ten stanzas, 1, 2, 4, and 5 are the usual stanzas included in modern hymnals. The text portrays the Christian church as rooted in the Savior, Jesus Christ, through the water of baptism and the Word of God (st. 1). In accord with the ninth article of the Apostles' Creed, we confess through this text that the church is catholic (universal) and united by "one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Eph. 4:5).

Now an affirmation of Christ as the foundation of our faith, we sing this hymn with those who have gone before us and with Christians around the world, declaring that beyond any theological differences, cultural divides, and variances in practice, we are all part of the same body, the body of Christ.

 

Gracious God, heavenly Father, we come to you from all walks of life, all nations and regions in worshipping you and proclaiming that we are the body of Christ. We ask you forgiveness for all the divisions and differences we have created amongst ourselves and for forgetting that you are the foundation of the church. Help us to live in unity and faithfulness. In Jesus name we pray. Amen!

Friday, October 9th, 2020

 

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! –Habakkuk 3: 17 – 18. 

 

Several of us and our friends might have experienced difficulties of various sorts and had to weather in our lives. Some of the events might have wrenched us emotionally and often physically too! I personally went through a period of utter despair and sadness recently when my parents passed away in India and for several reasons could not travel back to pay my last respects and final goodbyes. People go through valleys of darkness and sadness when a loved one is lost, for some, it might be violence committed against them, some might have been ignored, rejected, or put down by those close to us. If we look back to those times how were our thoughts towards God? Did we have the strength and interest to pray with tears rolling down our eyes and our hearts filled with despair and anger. The scripture reminds us that it is in those times our Lord is very close to us. The Lord is ever-present when we have a broken and contrite hearts. Today’s scripture reminds of the presence of God when everything seems hopeless and the words of the prophets offer hope to all of us and encouragement to look toward God and to lean on and at the same time the prophet also demonstrates his faith in the faithfulness of God by saying that in spite of all situations he will still praise God. That is definitely a challenge for us as we meditate on this scripture.

 

God of hope and life, we come to you as we are. We thank you and acknowledge your presence and faithfulness toward us. Help us to be joyful and thankful. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen!

 

For Bishop Sally Dyck’s message, click on the following link:

https://vimeo.com/465014208

October 8th, 2020

 

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” CSL

 

C. S. Lewis - writer, poet, scholar, Christian apologist, Oxford professor, and theologian – continues to be remembered as one of the most quoted and well-known authors of all time. Born in Belfast Ireland on Nov. 29, 1898, Clive Staples Lewis (nicknamed Jack) grew up with a deep love for reading books. Losing his mother at an early age had a deep impact on Lewis’ spiritual life. Without her wisdom and godly influence, under agnostic and atheistic education later as a teen, he eventually walked away from his faith becoming an atheist. Through the years, he faced hardship and pain after being injured in World War One and continued his search for meaning in life. Lewis finally came back to God at age 32. As Lewis’ faith grew stronger over time, his writings and work deeply touched millions of lives during World War II and the years that followed. It was then that some of his greatest work was published. His struggles and search for answers to life's deeper spiritual questions infused predominant themes into Lewis' writings. Many of his works center around topics such as good and evil, moral awareness, the existence of God, creation and the fall of man, grief, purpose, and the person and gift of Jesus Christ Himself, the most important message for all of life. Lewis authored over 30 books. Some of his sayings are as follows:

 

- “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen - not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

- "Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less."

When Christ died, he died for you individually just as much as if you had been the only person in the world."

- “A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”

- “Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea until he has something to forgive.”

- “You cannot love a fellow creature fully till you love God.” 

- “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

- “Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.”

- “No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.”

- “Don’t shine so others can see you. Shine so that through you others can see Him.”

- “Look for Christ and you will find Him. And with Him, everything else.”

 

Let us pray:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, October 7th, 2020

 

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

 

Paul while praying for the believers in the Ephesian church and all of us today, points us to the power, glory, and nature of God, who is omnipotent and all-powerful. He is trying to make us understand the ability of God and the required nature of our prayer and understanding of the power of God, therefore he is praying this big prayer that God would fill us with the love of Christ and transform us to be Christ-like and filled by the power and fullness of God. This, Paul believes, will change the way we live and operate in this world with each other and the rest of God’s creation. Even as Paul is praying for power and strength for us, he is also asking God to fill us with holiness and perfection. Comparing our prayers for ourselves and others, Paul’s prayer teaches us that we are praying very small and of little faith, because we are yet to have a very small view of God and God’s ability. Therefore, let us pray with sincerity and true faith in the ability and power of God. Let us pray big!

 

Heavenly Father, all-powerful and almighty God, fill us and transform us by the power of the Holy Spirit to live as Christ, your Son our Lord, and Savior. Amen!

Tuesday, October 6th, 2020

 

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16

 

There was an old owl who lived in an oak tree. Every day, he observed incidents that occurred around him. Yesterday, he watched as a young boy helped an old man carry a heavy basket. Today, he saw a young girl shouting at her mother. The more he saw, the less he spoke. As the days went on, he spoke less but heard more. The old owl heard people talking and telling stories. He heard a woman saying an elephant jumped over a fence. He heard a man saying that he had never made a mistake. The old owl had seen and heard what happened to people. There were some who became better, some who became worse. But the old owl in the tree had become wiser, each and every day.

 

The Moral:

Be more observant. Talk less and listen more. This will make us wise.

 

Heavenly Father, source of all wisdom and knowledge, help us and guide us to live wisely, and faithfully. In the name of your Son Jesus we ask. Amen!

Monday, October 5th, 2020

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: 1 Peter 4: 10.

The scripture verse above reminds us that we all are the recipients of God’s gifts and that we are obligated to be good stewards of these gifts. Rev Charles Seet, a Presbyterian Minister once claimed that ‘there are 3 lessons we can learn about our stewardship. First, it is Universal in its obligation. Second, it is Manifold in its manifestation. And thirdly, it is God-honoring in its intention’. God's gifts to you are not meant to be kept and hoarded up all for your own personal benefit and enjoyment. They are meant to be lovingly shared and dispensed to meet the needs of others. This applies especially to the gifts of the Spirit - they are freely given to every member of the church to benefit the whole church. Now verse 10 tells us that we are to minister our spiritual gifts as good stewards. What exactly is a steward? A steward is actually a dispenser or paymaster. What he dispenses is not his own. It belongs to his master, who entrusts it to his care to dispense according to the master's directions. God has entrusted you with the responsibility of ministering to others with your spiritual gift. And you are to exercise your gift with care and diligence in order to be a good steward of it. Let the benefits of your gift be shared as widely as possible both within the church and beyond. Maximize its use to the fullest potential, and you will have the satisfaction of seeing how it blesses the lives of many others and how it builds up the church of God. There is hardly any satisfaction that is greater than this.

Dear Heavenly Father, bestower of all good gifts, we that you for the gifts and talents you have blessed us with. Help us and guide us to maximize our gifts for the good of others and to bring glory to your most holy name. In and through Jesus we pray. Amen!

Sunday, October 4th, 2020

 

Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them. Psalm 126:5-6.

 

 Painful work often finds pleasant rewards. The way through the Red Sea and the howling wilderness leads to a fair and fruitful land flowing with milk and honey. Such is God's law of compensation, always and everywhere working out its infallible result in the experience of His chosen people. Maybe your summer was full of hard work, hard decisions, and just plain hard circumstances. Know that though your soul may feel parched and barren, you can enter into this harvest season with the promise of showers of blessings and armloads of joy. The joyful reaping that follows tearful sowing prepares us for new trials of our faith. There may come again to you a time of tears, a time of sorrowing toil; but you know whose hand will at length wipe away all tears; you know that there is no seed-time but will at length yield its rejoicing sheaves.

 

Heavenly Father, we come to you having experienced the virus globally affecting millions of people. We come to you tired and vulnerable and we ask you to have mercy. Touch and heal your people and bring comfort to those who lost their loved ones. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen!

Saturday, October 3rd, 2020

From the ends of the earth, I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Psalm 61: 2

 

From the end of the earth will I cry unto you. The psalmist here was experiencing the distance and says that he was banished from the place which was the center of his delight, and at the same time his mind was in a depressed and melancholy condition; both actually and figuratively he was lonely, yet he does not restrain from prayer, but rather finds a reason for the louder and more persistent cries. To be absent from the place of divine worship was a sore sorrow to saints in the olden times; they looked upon the tabernacle as the center of their world, and they counted themselves to be at the very end of the earth when they could no longer resort to the sacred temple; their heart was heavy as in a strange land when they were banished from its solemnities. Yet even they knew right well that no place is unsuitable for prayer. There may be an end of the earth, but there must not be an end to devotion. Even in our darkest and loneliest of moments, we may call upon God, for even there he is within call. No spot is too dreary, no condition too deplorable; whether it be the world's end or life's end, prayer is equally available.

Philip Bennett Power, in "The I wills of the Psalms," 1861 claims, “when my heart is overwhelmed. Troubles are of various kinds; some are provoking, some are gnawing, some are perplexing, and some are overwhelming; but whatever form they assume, they are troubles, and are part of the wear and tear of life. ...Overwhelming troubles are such as sweep over a man, just as the mighty billows of the ocean sweep over and submerge the sands. These are troubles which struggle with us, as it were, for life and death; troubles which would leave us helpless wrecks; troubles which enter into conflict with us in our prime, which grapple with us in our health and strength, and threaten to conquer us by sheer force, no matter how bravely we may contend. Such trouble the psalmist knew”. It was at these times that the psalmist cries out to God and God surely visits and ministers to him.  

 

Gracious God, our heavenly Father, we call upon you from the places where we are in our lives journey. We believe that you are ever present for us. Guide us and strengthen us in our journey of life. We also pray for all those who are feeling that they are at the ends of their world, have mercy on your people. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen!

Friday, October 2nd, 2020

 

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is mankind that You are mindful of them, human beings that You care for them? Psalm 8: 3-4

 

It’s hard to fathom that He who made the heavens and moon, and gathered the stars would be concerned with us, such small creatures in the grand scheme of things. But, He really does care about even the smallest of things in our lives. Several years ago, Time Magazine featured a story about Peter Sellers, a well-known English actor (prob. best known as Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther movies). The article was about him appearing on the Muppet Show & being interviewed by Kermit the Frog. His interview began with Kermit telling Peter, "Now, just relax & be yourself." -Peter Sellers responded, "I can’t be myself because I don’t know who I am. The real me doesn’t exist." He was probably trying to be funny because he was a comedian by trade. But on this particular occasion, his words were anything but funny. In fact, they were rather sad. One of his longtime friends, commenting on those words, said, "Poor Peter! The real Peter disappeared a long time ago. What he is now is simply an amalgamation of all the stage & screen characters he has ever played, & now he is frantically trying to unsnarl that mess & find out who he really is." We don’t know if Peter Sellers was ever able to unsnarl the mess or not; just six months later he died of a heart attack. But, he certainly wasn’t alone in his feelings. Many people go through life wondering who they are, & what they’re supposed to be doing, & where they’re going.

As David looked up at the vastness of God’s universe, perhaps he felt his own smallness. So he asks God, “What is man that you are mindful of him?" – that You care about him?” Who are we? We are a blessed people, called to do life with God! We don’t deserve His kindness but through brokenness and repentance, we receive it by faith in Jesus. The Good News for you my friend today is that “You are precious in the sight of our God!”

 

Heavenly Father, our creator, and sustainer help us to realize that we and all others are created in your image. Help us recognize your handiwork in each other and let us respect and accept one another. Help us to live according to your will and fulfill your purpose in our lives. Today we especially pray for the President and the countless number of people who contracted the Coronavirus, we pray for your healing and well-being. We pray for his country and our church. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen!

Thursday, October 1st, 2020

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Psalm 103: 1

 

First Peter 2:9-10 tells us that believers in Jesus Christ are “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you might declare the excellencies [or the praises] of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” In Isaiah 43:21, the Lord says, “The people whom I formed for myself will declare My praise.” We were created for praise and to bless. The Hebrew word translated ‘bless’ or ‘praise’ means literally ‘to kneel’, the implication being to kneel in worship. Therefore, to bless the Lord means to praise Him, exalt Him and worship Him. This Psalm begins by praising the Lord’s “holy name.” To be ‘holy’ is to be different, to be unique, to be like no other. Our God is a God like no other. He has always existed, and He will have no end. He is the first and the last, the alpha and the omega, and there is no God besides Him (Is. 44:6). And while all others are changing, He is unchanging, stable, and dependable. He is all-powerful, creating this world out of nothing with His Word; He is everywhere present, He is all-knowing, He is all-wise. The Psalmist here is calling upon himself not to forget the Lord’s benefits. The reason is that we are so quick to forget His benefits. Remember what the Lord has done for you. As we praise, we enter into a symphony with all of creation which declares the praises of our Great God. 

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

Heavenly Father, our eternal and ever present God Almighty, we come to you today, praising and blessing your most holy name. We bless you for all your benefits. We join with the heavenly chorus, the company of angels to praise your most holy name. Help us to live according to your precepts and purpose. In the name of your Son, our Lord Jesus, we pray. Amen!

Wednesday, September 30th, 2020

 

So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. Galatians 6:10

 

There was once a king who was so cruel and unjust that his subjects yearned for his death or dethronement. However, one day he surprised them all by announcing that he had decided to turn over a new leaf. “No more cruelty, no more injustice,” he promised, and he was as good as his word. He became known as the ‘Gentle Monarch’. Months after his transformation one of his ministers plucked up enough courage to ask him what had brought about his change of heart. And the king answered, “As I was galloping through my forests I caught sight of a fox being chased by a hound. The fox escaped into his hole but not before the hound had bitten into its leg and lamed it for life. Later I rode into a village and saw the same hound there. It was barking at a man. Even as I watched, the man picked up a huge stone and flung it at the dog, breaking its leg. The man had not gone far when he was kicked by a horse. His knee was shattered and he fell to the ground, disabled for life. The horse began to run but it fell into a hole and broke its leg. Reflecting on all that had happened, I thought: ‘Evil begets evil. If I continue in my evil ways, I will surely be overtaken by evil’. So I decided to change”. The minister went away convinced that the time was ripe to overthrow the king and seize the throne. Immersed in thought, he did not see the steps in front of him and fell, breaking his neck.

 

Moral: Cycle of Deeds always gives us back what we give to others. If we do good to others, our goodwill happens, If we do bad to others, our turn will also come.

https://www.moralstories.org/cycle-of-evil/

Heavenly Father, we ask that you guide us and give us the courage to always do good for others, help us as we become vulnerable in accepting and embracing others. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen!

To listen to Bishop Sally Dyck’s message, click on the following link:

https://myemail.constantcontact.com/Bishop-Dyck-s-Monday-Message---The-Beauty-and-Efficacy-of-Diversity.html?soid=1101858679078&aid=WqW5qa9MOaA

July 5th, 2020

 

Yea, the Lord shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her increase.
—Psalm 85:12

 

This psalm is titled To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah. These sons of Korah were Levites, from the family of Kohath. By David’s time, it seems they served in the musical aspect of the temple worship. Like several psalms, we find here people praying for revival and restoration of their families, communities, and their land. In several ways, it fits our context today. Even as we come back for services in the church after almost 3 months because of COVID 19, we pray for God’s blessings and to bestow all that is good on us, including revival and restoration of our faith life and journey. In praying for revival, pray for other churches in your community. In praying for revival, pray for the community in general. Praying for revival means praying that God’s work among His people would cause them to find their joy in nothing else than in Him. So we pray: Full of confidence, knowing that God can revive. Full of boldness, pleading with God for revival. Full of humility, desiring God’s glory and praise. Revival is a work of God’s mercy. God graciously grants true revival. True revival demonstrates that salvation is God’s work.

 

Dear God, as we come together, we plead for your presence. Revive us, restore us, and strengthen us both spiritually and physically and to bring glory to you. Amen.

July 4th, 2020

 

“The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.”

Numbers 6:24-26

This year, the 4th of July feels entirely new due to the virulent presence of COVID 19 and the painful, impossible to ignore, revelations of systemic racism in our country. I reach out to you to join me in a prayer of grief and of hope - each holding the other - as we walk through the landscape of this nation together. "The Lord bless you and keep you" is a setting of the Priestly Blessing, also known as the Aaronic blessing, from the Book of Numbers in the Bible (Numbers 6:24–26). The blessing, sung or spoken, is used at the conclusion of worship, baptism, ordination, marriage, and other special occasions in Christian worship. I invoke this blessing for all of us, especially our country today. I want to share with you all today a prayer sent to me by one of my friends:

 

 Let us pray: God, please bless America. Like all of us, she is waking up to her flaws and failures, while trusting her gifts and goodness. God, please bless America as she navigates a needed transformation to maintain a safe home for all of your children that live here.  Bless her, O God, as she seeks to offer a light to those hurting in the world. Amen.

God bless each of you, dear friends,

July 3rd, 2020

 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things”. Philippians 4:6-8

 

Dear Friends:

Greetings in the name of Jesus our Christ!

Hope you all are ready for the holiday weekend and also getting ready for our Sunday worship services. Several churches, including our church, is really prepared for our phased-in re-opening. Even as we are coming back to church, we are coming back during this pastoral transition. I am excited to meet and worship together with you. As I mentioned earlier transitions and change comes with excitement as well as with anxiety too! But we are reminded in the scripture above that in every situation we approach our loving God by prayer and petition with thanksgiving. This applies to all our life situations too! Therefore, as we begin our faith journey together, let us pray for one another. God be with you.

 

Gracious God, we thank you for all guidance and blessings. We submit ourselves unto your will, lead us, bless us, and guide us today and always. Amen. 

July 2nd, 2020

“But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15) 

The above verse is attributed to Joshua who made this bold proclamation confirming his service to his God and all God’s people. This has become a very famous scripture verse that many of us have plaques adorning our living spaces. This verse also motivates people in how they live both individually and as families. We started our ministry here at LaSalle today and want to re-dedicate our lives to the service of God and all people. I want to give glimpses of our family and experiences of growing up in India to you all through these meditations and messages. I am a fourth-generation Christian in my family and third in answering the Call of God to ministry. My grandparents and parents are ordained ministers. My grandfather Solomon was the Moderator and Bishop. My wife is also a Methodist minister. We are glad to be in ministry and serve the Lord. The bold proclamation of Joshua challenges all of us as to how we can live our faith in the world today.

 

Heavenly God, we submit ourselves unto your will and guidance. Help us to make use of every opportunity to serve you and all your people. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen

July 1st, 2020

Paul, Silas, and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  2 Thessalonians 1:1-2

 

Dear friends at Grace UMC: Solomon, Satya, Nima & Christina bring greetings in the name of our LORD Jesus Christ. As St. Paul greeted the church in Thessalonica: Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We arrived in LaSalle on June 29, 2020, and thank you for the warm welcome some of you gave us. Thanks for all your prayers for us. I also encourage you all to pray for Pastor Brett as he settles down in his new church. Transitions are interesting and challenging, they bring both joy and sadness. Therefore, I echo the words of St. Paul for God’s grace and guidance for all of us. We look forward to our ministry here and that together bring glory to God’s holy name by serving all God’s people. At this time I also want to greet you with the word that I grew up in India:

NAMASTE I bow to you —used as a respectful greeting in India, meaning: ‘all that is holy within me greets all that is holy within you’. In this way, we recognize God’s presence in all people! Namaste is usually spoken with a slight bow and hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointing upwards, thumbs close to the chest. Dear Grace UMC, Namaste to you in Jesus' name!

 

Prayer: Almighty God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit lead us and guide us by Your grace both today and all the days of our lives. Help us to live according to your will and bring glory to your name. Amen!

!

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