Jesus said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (John 15:18-21)
The secular historians of John’s day called Christians a race of men who belonged to a new and evil superstition. Rome hated them because they were disloyal to the emperor and refused to participate in Caesar worship.
Once a year every loyal inhabitant of the Roman Empire would burn a pinch of incense to the godhead of Caesar, pronounce publicly, “Caesar is
Lord,” and go their way to freely worship any deity they pleased. But not the
Christians. Their refusal to conform caused the government to look upon them suspiciously and regarded them as dangerous and disloyal.
Persecution came to the early Christians because they put Christ first. Persecution always comes to the man or woman who does that.
We all have a need to be liked by others. No one wants to be the subject of gossip or the brunt of a religious joke. But the Christian faith is all about the Good News penetrating into the workplace, education, government and everyplace we go. To that end, we have a job to do. Let us not be so busy trying to keep our jobs that we forget to do our real job.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, give me a heart big enough to love You more than popularity, a head that doesn’t swell when the world praises me, and eyes which remain determinedly focused on the important issues in life. Amen and amen.
"And on the banks of the river on both its sides, there shall grow all kinds of trees for food; their leaf shall not fade nor shall their fruit fail [to meet the demand]. Each tree shall bring forth new fruit every month, [these supernatural qualities being] because their waters came from out of the sanctuary. And their fruit shall be for food and their leaves for healing." (Ezekiel 47:12 - Amplified Bible)
When my heart is heavy, I wear my feelings on my sleeve. I put on a brave face and muster up a smile, difficult as it may be.
There was a period earlier in my life when my feelings stayed bottled up inside, often because they were discounted and dismissed. Sad to say, it can be that way as an adult.
Some people misconstrue this as one wanting to have their way or that they are better than others. For me, it’s acknowledging that my feelings have importance. It’s also about certain tenets - honesty, decency, genuine concern, love and respect. Those are the attributes we all should possess and willingly give.
Sometimes, we experience the taste of lemons - those that are tart and to some, bitter.
But, God can take those lemons and make the most refreshing and sweet lemonade – by His power alone. We don’t have to add a thing. His instruction is the perfect recipe.
GospeLines Prayer: Father, on a hot and humid day, nothing is more refreshing than a tall glass of ice cold lemonade.
Your sweet, sweet spirit quenches our thirst and nurtures my soul.
When I find a situation that leaves a bitter taste, may I remember the magnificent creation of Your love – the sweet taste of lemonade.
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, August 26, 2009
"In The Image of God"
O.K., I confess... I'm hooked on it! At my local grocery store there is a game machine which is filled with colorful stuffed animals of all kinds. It reminds me of what a cartoon of Noah's ark would look like. On each of my 3 or 4 weekly trips to the store, I almost always feed the machine with money and manipulate the grappling hook to snatch one of the little critters. Over the years I've become pretty accomplished at it. We have more than 50 small animals in various parts of our house, grinning their stuffed hearts out and bringing smiles to everyone who sees them. The neatest part about my obsession is that each of the animals is different. They are unique in their own special way, hand crafted down to the last tiny detail.
I toted another one home tonight, for the third time this week. As I looked at our collection, I began to think about the imagination of the craftsman who makes them. It reminds me of my Creator, how He carefully made me and you unlike anyone else. But our differences don't stop with our looks. Each of God's children is born with talents and gifts which set us apart for service. Within you, God has crafted a special gift which makes you important to Him and to the world. There is a part of you which blesses someone every time they see you! The world would be much worse off without you in it. I am glad you are here to share it with me!
GospeLines Prayer:Creator of Eden, Holy Father of Revelation, I adore You for making me the way You did. With compassion You shared Your tears; with heartache You gave me freedom to choose; with agony You blessed me with suffering. You didn't make me perfect like Yourself, but You held nothing back so that I can feel what You feel, and in no small way I can know the mind and heart of my Creator. Thank you for making me in Your image. Amen and amen.
How often do we start our prayers with an appeal or a request?When we do that, are we thinking about God; or, are we thinking about ourselves…?
What if we started our prayers something like this?
“Father, what is Your will for me..."
"Lord, what is Your will for my brother…"
“God in heaven, what do You want for me..."
Paul tells us in 1st Corinthians 10:31, “…whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”That includes what we do in prayer…
When Jesus was showing us how to pray, He started by saying, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…”
When Jesus beseeched the Father before His crucifixion, He prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will."
Our prayers shouldn’t be all about us – they should be about Him.What is His will for us?How can we bring glory to the Father?
GospeLines Prayer:Father, whatever You ask of me, whatever Your will for me, grant me the strength to carry through.Like Moses, I am fearful… Who am I Lord to do Your will…?Father, You know my needs and my heart.You know those things I want to ask, all the things pressing on my heart.Guide me Lord, lead me through this world and through the many things burning me on all sides.Lead me in such a way as to fulfill Your will and bring glory to You.
“…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father,but byMe.”
When you are growing up in a small Gulf Coast town in Texas, there’s not a lot for a kid to do if he doesn’t go to church. I was one who went every time the doors were open and sometimes when they weren’t.
Just for fun I would sometimes sneak in, stand behind the pulpit and make believe that I was preaching to a full house, take the offering, and sing choruses (loudly!) I would even pretend to play the piano, and practice baptizing the converts at the end. “How long should I hold them under?” I wondered. “Would it be ok if I baptized them with my left hand?” These deep theological questions concerned me for a few years until I realized that some things don’t matter as much as others.
Playing church kept my vivid imagination in check most of the time. People around my little town thought I was a pretty good boy, and I guess I was, all things considered. Funny thing, in all that time, I never played around with prayer. Maybe I thought it was just too personal or too serious. Or, maybe I just didn’t know how to pray back then. I still don’t know as much about it as I should.
As a teenager, the other kids sort of looked to me for leadership at church. We had an awesome youth group which had the usual activities, fellowships, church camp, youth choir, Vacation Bible School and Training Union on Sunday nights. I was lucky enough to sing in the adult choir on Sunday morning, which meant rehearsal on Wednesday night. That’s where I learned about the seriousness of prayer.
Brother Lloyd led the singing and directed the choirs. He was a fulltime high school coach and helped out as our Minister of Music. But it wasn’t his singing I remember as much as it was his heart for prayer. He asked me one day, “Tommy, will you pray for me? I need the prayer support from you.” I said I would and really meant it, but I guess it wasn’t very high on my list of church things to do. In fact, I forgot all about that commitment I made to him until a few weeks later.
After church one Sunday morning, Brother Lloyd called me over and asked me, “Tommy, have you been praying for me?” My heart fell to the floor. Here I was in the church building and the next thing I heard these lying lips say was, “YESSIR, I sure have!” I thought he would just pat me on the back and thank me. It would at least give me a chance to make good on a promise I forgot about. Instead, he put both hands on my shoulders, looked me square in the eyes and said, “I just don’t feel your prayers, Tommy.” Busted!
I wanted to run away and get lost in the crowd but he had me nailed to the corner with those powerful hands and piercing eyes. I didn’t know what to say. Thankfully, he let me off the hook and said, “Just keep on praying, Tommy. Just keep on praying.”
When you know someone has a need that only God can handle, what do you say to them? “Let’s just pray about it,” or “We need to give that to God,” or the one I hear the most, “I’ll be prayin’ for ya!” Beloved, don’t say it unless you mean it. Praying for someone else is serious business. In fact, it’s the highest type of prayers you can take to God’s throne. When you pray for someone else, unselfishly, God’s ears perk up and you’ve got His undivided attention.
GospeLines Prayer: Father, in times like these we need people who will pray up or shut up! Boldly I come to you to ask that you separate the prayer warriors from the prayer pretenders. Replace our haphazard, halfway, henpecked praying with energized, sanctified, 24/7 petitions which will storm the gates of heaven. When I am timid, make me like Stephen; if I lose my way, give me the spirit of Joshua; if my heart grows cold, remind me of David. And when I do get around to praying, give me the heart of a champion so that I will never give in, never give in, never, never, never! Amen and amen!