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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

We Pray Wednesday: People of Prayer - Samuel

People of Prayer in the Bible: Samuel
We read in the Bible about men who had great prayer relationships and wish that we could have the type of relationship that men in the Bible had with God.  Samuel is one of those men.  As you read the life of Samuel, there are several things to notice about his walk with God.  As we read, we can follow some steps that can allow us to have a better prayer relationship with God.

1.  He had a family that prayed.
Samuel came into this world and was born as a direct answer to prayer.  He was born of a praying mother; whose heart was full of earnest desire for a son.  He came into life under prayer surroundings, and his first months in this world were spent in direct contact with a woman who knew how to pray.  It was a prayer accompanied by a solemn vow that if he should be given, he should be "lent unto the Lord," and true to that vow, this praying mother put him directly in touch with the minister of the sanctuary and under the influence of "the house of prayer."  It was no wonder he developed into a man of prayer.

2.  He was at the house of prayer as a child.
He was in a favorable place to hear God when He spoke to him, and was in an atmosphere where it tended to his heeding the divine call which came to him.  It was the most natural thing in the world when at the third call from heaven, he recognized God's voice and his childish heart responded so promptly, "Speak, Lord, thy servant heareth."  Quickly was there a response from his boyish spirit, of submission, willingness and prayer.  Had he been born of a different sort of mother, had he been placed under different surroundings, had he spent his early days in contact with different influences, does anyone for one moment suppose he could have easily heard the voice of God calling him to His service, and that he would have so readily yielded his young life to the God who brought him into being?  Would a worldly home, with worldly surroundings, separated from the Church of God, with a worldly-minded mother, have produced such a character as Samuel?  It takes such influences and agencies in early life to produce such praying men as Samuel.  Would you have your child called early into divine service and separated from the world unto God?  Would you have him so situated that he will be called in childhood by the Spirit of God?  Put him under prayer influences.  Place him near to and directly under the influence of the Man of God and in close touch with that house which is called "the house of prayer."
3.  He had prayed for his nation and it’s leader.
A crisis came in the history of this nation.  The people were infatuated by the glory of a kingdom with a human king, and were prepared to reject God as their king, as He had always been.  So they came to Samuel with the bold request, "Make us a king to judge us like all the nations."  The thing displeased this man of God, who was jealous for the name, the honor and the pleasure of the Lord God.  How could it be otherwise?  Who would not have been likewise displeased if he were built after the pattern of Samuel?  It grieved him in soul.  The Lord, however, came to him just at that time with the comforting assurance so far as he was personally concerned in the transaction, that "they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.  Hearken unto the voice of the people, in all that they say unto thee."  Then it was that Samuel followed the bent of his mind, "And Samuel prayed unto the Lord."  It seemed that in every matter concerning this people, with which Samuel was connected, he must pray over it.  How much more now when there was to be an entire revolution in the form of government, and God was to be displaced as the ruler of the people, and a human king was to be set up?  National affairs need to be prayed over. Praying men are demanded to carry to God in prayer the affairs of government.  Lawmakers, law judges, and law executives need leaders in Israel to pray for them.  How much fewer the mistakes if there was more praying done in civil matters?
4.  He prayed all night for a hurting friend.
One more incident in the prayer life of Samuel is worth noticing.  King Saul had been ordered to destroy all the Amalekites, root and branch, and all their stuff, but Saul, contrary to divine instructions, had spared King Agag and the best of the sheep and the cattle, and had justified it because he claimed that the people wanted it done.  God brought this message to Samuel at this time: "It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king; for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments." "And it grieved Samuel, and he cried all night unto the Lord." Such a sudden declaration was enough to produce grief of soul in a man like Samuel, who loved his nation, who was true to God, and who above everything else desired the prosperity of Zion. Such grief of soul over the evils of the Church and at the sight of the abominations of the times always drives a man to his knees in prayer. Of course, Samuel carried the case to God. It was a time for prayer. The case was too serious for him not to be deeply moved to pray. So greatly was the inner soul of Samuel disturbed that he prayed all night about it. Too much was at stake for him to shut his eyes to the affair, to treat it indifferently, and to let it pass without taking God into the matter.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Monday's Message: Shall We Gather at the River

Shall We Gather at the River?

       In July 1864, Robert Lowry, a Baptist minister, was tired and began thinking of future things, especially of the gathering of the saints around God’s throne. He began to wonder why so many had written so much of the river of death and so little of the river of life.
       A hymn began to take form, first as a question, “Shall we gather at the river?”
       Then came the answer, “Yes, we’ll gather at the river.”
          With his heart full of these thoughts, he seated himself at his parlor organ, and both the words and the music of the famous hymn came to him as if by inspiration.
       Soon, the words and music to this famous hymn were completed.
       There is nothing on earth more restful than the banks of a winding river. And God has placed a river in heaven, a beautiful crystal river that will make glad the hearts of all God’s children someday.

Shall We Gather at the River
1           Shall we gather at the river,
Where bright angel feet have trod,
With its crystal tide for ever
Flowing by the throne of God?
2           On the margin of the river,
Washing up its silver spray,
We will walk and worship ever,
All the happy, golden day.
3           Ere we reach the shining river,
Lay we ev’ry burden down;
Grace our spirits will deliver,
And provide a robe and crown.
4           Soon we’ll reach the silver river,
Soon our pilgrimage will cease;
Soon our happy hearts will quiver
With the melody of peace.
5           At the smiling of the river,
Mirror of the Savior’s face,
Saints whom death will never sever
Lift their songs of saving grace.
Chorus  Yes, we’ll gather at the river,
The beautiful, the beautiful river,
Gather with the saints at the river,
That flows by the throne of God.       

Monday, August 7, 2017

Monday's Message: Sweet By and By

Sweet By-And-By

       The gifted Christian musician Joseph T. Webster was often tormented by deep feelings of depression.
       On one occasion, when he was in a melancholy mood, he received a visit from his close acquaintance Fillmore Bennett.
       Knowing that one way to keep Webster from brooding over his problems was to interest him in writing a hymn tune, Bennett decided he’d try to pen some lyrics that would direct his friend’s thoughts heavenward.
       The despondent man himself unwittingly supplied the theme, for when he was asked, “What’s the matter now?” he replied, “Oh, it will be all right by and by!”
       “That’s true,” exclaimed Bennett, “trials do generate great glory for us in the sweet by-and-by!”
       Inspired by this thought, he immediately sat down and wrote several poetic verses on the subject. When his friend read them, a new look of hope came into his eyes, and his whole attitude changed.
       After jotting down some musical notes, Webster took up his violin and played the melody he had composed to fit the words.
       Within half an hour the enduring hymn “In the Sweet By-and-By” was born.

Sweet by and by
1           There’s a land that is fairer than day,
And by faith we can see it afar;
For the Father waits over the way,
To prepare us a dwelling place there.
2           We shall sing on that beautiful shore
The melodious songs of the blest;
And our spirits shall sorrow no more
Not a sigh for the blessing of rest.
3           To our bountiful Father above
We will offer our tribute of praise
For the glorious gift of His love,
And the blessings that hallow our days.
Chorus  In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore;
In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Family Friday: Am I Mericful?

Recently my children and I were out doing some errands and church visitation, when my youngest child began having an attitude problem, which then turned into a behavior problem.   After several warnings and stern reminders, I told him he would be getting a correction at home.   Of course, he asked could he please have a second chance!   I told him that mercy is given when a person is sorry for his sin and tries to stop doing that sin. With tears in his eyes, he said he would be sorry for his sin and asked me for forgiveness.   Hugs were exchanged, the attitude and behavior straightened out, and the atmosphere was peaceful once again. 
The situation made me begin pondering God's mercy to me. I don't ever truly deserve His mercy, but He gives it when I ask and repent of my sin.  What a great and awesome God!  How often am I guilty of judging and punishing my children, when what I should have given was mercy?  I learned the following song as a child, but its message is timeless:  God's mercy reaches past my sin.

There's a wideness in God's mercy
Like the wideness of the sea.
There is a kindness in His justice
Which is more than liberty!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Thoughtful Thursday: My Jesus Loves Me

Ever have one of the moments where a small, seemingly insignificant moment to most, makes you feel Jesus’ love for you greatly?  I call those “My Jesus Loves Me” moments!
Knowing my Jesus loves me makes me happy.
How do I know He loves me?
Well, it clearly states it in the Bible.  John 3:16 says:  "For God so loved the world...".
On the cross, Jesus proclaimed the greatest act of love E.V.E.R.
There are many other verses that proclaim the love of Jesus towards us also.
One of my favorites is Psalms 103:2  "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits."
On a daily basis, I think there are many ways that Jesus shows His love for us.  I encourage you to stop and notice the smaller, (unintentionally) over-looked ways.  Just look for anything that makes you feel like Jesus just gave you a hug and whispered "I love you!".
It could be:
  • Something nice someone did for you.
  • Kind words that made you smile.
  • Your boss letting you leave a few minutes early.
  • Turning on the car to find your favorite song on the radio.
  •  A "for no reason" hug from someone you love.
  • A beautiful flower growing in an odd place.
  • A few quiet moments to yourself.
  • A nice person letting you merge in traffic.
  I’d love for you to share your “My Jesus Loves Me” moments from this week.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

My Relationship with God

My Relationship with God
Genesis 5:24
As a teenager there are many things that fight for your attention or focus: sports, dating, school, having a good time, driving a car, college, and many other things.  Your parents start to give you some freedom to choose what you would like do with your time and energy.  School takes up part of your time with homework, projects, and tests or quizzes.  You may decide to get involved in a sports program, or you may begin working a job as a young person.  You will realize as teenager, that you cannot do everything and that you must prioritize the things that are available for you to do. 
As a teenager in church, having a relationship with God will be emphasized.  Most teenagers will agree that this is important, but does that always move you to action?  I know that I did not always read my Bible and pray as a teenager.  Just because you are in church or your parents have a relationship with God does not guarantee that you will have a relationship with God.
Judges 2:10  And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.
As a teenager you have to decide whether you are going to know God, or be satisfied with hearing other people tell you about Him!  I decided as a teenager that I wanted to know God for myself.  But how do you accomplish this, how do you get to know God? 
When I was a teenager, my youth pastor, Eddie Lapina, gave our youth group a challenge to read the entire Bible through before we turned 18.  I began thinking about what he had challenged us to do.  Yes that was a lot of reading, but I had several years to accomplish this task.  I decided that I would take the challenge and read the Bible all the way through.  As a teenager, I have to admit there were quite a few times that I stopped reading the Bible for a while, but before I turned 18 I had read through the entire Bible.  Many teenagers stop reading their Bible and just give up.  God knows that you will stop or forget to read the Bible, but He wants us to restart each time that we stop!   Proverbs 24:16 
It is also important that we learn to get things from God as a teenager.  There are two specific things that stick out to me from my teen years in the area of prayer.  During my junior year, one of our teens in our youth group started a prayer meeting during lunch.  Several times a week we would get together and pray for our class during our lunch period.  This meeting kept me accountable to pray consistently. That same year one of my friends decided to have an all night prayer meeting at his house.  We were going to meet together and pray for camp which was the following week.  I remember wondering how we would pray all night long!  I remember gathering around the campfire that night at my friend’s house and starting to pray.  We prayed by the fire together, we walked around his property and prayed by ourselves, and came back together and finished praying by the fire.  I remember feeling very close to God that night, and the following week of camp was incredible!  Jeremiah 33:3
I learned as a teenager how it feels to get close to God.  I was not perfect, I still did dumb things and got into trouble like everyone else.  But as I got close to God, there were several times that I got to see God use me!  Do you want to feel that closeness with God, and see Him use you as a teenager?  Do you want to see truth out of His Word as you read?  Don’t wait until you become an adult to get close to Him, walk with Him now.  James 4:8