≈ Devotional for Friday & Monday: September 7 & 10, 2007
"When God Saves the Best for Last"
By Dr. Tommy Harrison
You’ve been there before, that place that pushes you to your knees in defeat; you’ve done all you can do and nothing seems to fall into place.Waiting upon the Lord has become your life’s work, no longer your past-time.
Praying about your circumstance is a chore and you wonder if God is as tired of hearing the same old prayer as you are.When it falls rapidly from your lips again and again it sounds like you’ve prayed it for so long that you’ve memorized the words.“God, help me!My finances (health, relationships, etc.) are in such terrible condition.Please open the right door for me.Oh, God… I am miserable!Give me a job I enjoy, one that will bless my family and give honor to You.Please, God, just give me one more chance!”
Some of you know my testimony.For 25 years I served God as a pastor.Believing that the door of full-time ministry was closed forever, I made myself think that there were other professions which would make me happy and I pursued many of them since 1991.But the calling I received as a teenager would not go away.So I prayed, and prayed!
Often my prayers were impatient, showing my frustration.My dream of serving in a church again was over.Deeply rooted bitterness oozed out of me unnaturally, which affected my work, influenced decisions and destroyed my relationships.
But my wife, Sherry, would not give up.I listened to her prayers, the way I used to pray about it with genuine sincerity and hope.Soon she had me believing it, too!So we prayed, and prayed!
Sometimes God just does things backwards by saving the best things for last.At my age (I’m 63), it just doesn’t seem like the time for starting over.But God has another plan.
Sherry and I want to humbly announce to you that God is allowing me to serve on the support staff of Calvary Church in Cordova, TN.I start Monday, September 10th.As the Office Manager, my primary role will be to give direction in the performance of special projects.The exciting part is that I will have the opportunity to work with a pastor whom I love and respect.And wouldn’t you know it?All the skills I’ve accumulated from working 16 years in the business world will be utilized in the performance of the tasks.
Beloved, if you feel as if you are in the wilderness do not give up!I can say from experience that God is faithful.He WILL carry you through.
“He Will Carry You”
There is no problem too big God cannot solve There is no mountain too tall He cannot move There is no storm too dark God cannot calm There is no sorrow too deep He cannot soothe
If He carried the weight of the world upon His shoulders I know, my brother that He will carry you If He carried the weight of the world upon His shoulders I know, my sister that He will carry you
He said come on to me all who are weary And I will give you rest
The city of Houston lost a cultural icon, through the death of beloved consumer advocacy reporter Marvin Zindler.
To say that Marvin was colorful would be an understatement.A dapper dresser, with his trademark white hairpieces, blue lenses and signature sign-off, he was a fearless, flamboyant and trailblazing broadcast journalist.
His range of news segments covered everything from exposing substandard care in area nursing homes; to securing special medical care for those who could least afford it; to helping thousands cut through bureaucratic red tape and resolving other consumer problems.He also traveled around the world with a team of Houston-based doctors aiding heart surgery and eventually helped build Russia's second largest heart institute.
He never shied away from controversial issues and institutions, including exposing a brothel in La Grange, TX known as The Chicken Ranch.With the nationwide notoriety over the brothel’s closing, it inspired a Broadway musical and movie, “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.”
Marvin, one of five sons born to a prominent Jewish businessman, had a common sensibility thanks to the black nurse that nurtured and cared for him as a child.In an interview, he told viewers how he learned first-hand about discriminatory practices.If she took him to the ice cream parlor, they sat in the “colored” section; if at the theater, they sat in the balcony; when on the bus, in the back… wherever “coloreds” were relegated.
When he was older, he insisted that his father and uncles remove the “colored” signs from the water fountains at their family-owned clothing store.
Marvin understood the plight of those that were different from him… poor, black, uninsured, handicapped or whatever the circumstance.He stood up on behalf of those who couldn’t represent themselves; those cheated out of what was owed them or ignored by government.
Marvin personified the words found in Matthew 25:38-40 (Contemporary English Version)
38When did we welcome you as a stranger or give you clothes to wear 39or visit you while you were sick or in jail?"
40The king will answer, "Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me."
GospeLines Prayer:Father, while Marvin’s voice has gone silent, he’s left us a rich legacy.We will miss his sayings – “have good golf, good tennis or whatever makes you happy and his signature sign-off, "MAAAAARRRvin ZINDler, EYEwitness News."
Most importantly, we will miss the love and genuine concern he had for his fellow man/woman, no matter their station in life.
He cultivated our community and we are so much the better for it.Father, help us to follow his example according to Your word found in Philippians 2:3-4 (New Century Version)
3When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide. Instead, be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves. 4Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others.
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, September 12, 2007
"Hate is a Strong Word"
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.
Daniel's prophecies of the events affecting the Jews from the 5th to the 1st centuries include the following statement:
"With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him." (Daniel 11:32 - NIV)
The Amplified translation translates the last portion of this passage:
"...but the people who know their God shall prove themselves strong and shall stand firm and do exploits [for God]."
The Darby translation is:
"...but the people that know their God shall be strong, and shall act.
Resist; do; act!All verbs!All descriptions of action - the action of God's people - actions designed to resist the devil and accomplish things for God.But, what kind of actions?
Paul urges us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.He says this is our spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1)
He also tells us to continue to work out our salvation with fear and trembling because it is God who works in us to will and to act according to His good purpose (Philippians 2:12-13).With this in mind, we should constantly pray that God, by His power, will fulfill every good purpose of ours and every act prompted by our faith. (2nd Thessalonians 1:11)
God wants us to act in ways pleasing to Him and according to his good purpose (His word).Are you in the game, actively working for the Kingdom of God; or, are you just a bench warmer, not "acting" at all?If you're not a "doer" for Christ, become one today by asking Him for the strength to act!
However, He also asks us to "do everything without complaining or arguing" (Philippians 2:12-14).As we take action for Him, we are to remember to speak and act as though we are going to be judged by the same law, because judgment (action) without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not (acted) with mercy. (God's) mercy always triumphs over judgment... or actions... especially ours (James 2:12-13).
"…we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world."
Jack was a new member of the church and eager to serve the Lord. He and his bride had chosen this particular congregation because it was in their neighborhood.It was also a beautiful sanctuary for worship; one of those that when you walk in, you know it's a holy place.
When Jack approached the pastor about serving, he asked that he not be placed in a situation where he would be speaking to strangers.That made him nervous and he sometimes would stutter when under stress. With the encouragement of the elders he accepted the position of usher for the morning service.
On his first day, Jack was assigned the duty of seating people in a section that held some of the oldest members of the church. "Piece of cake!" he muttered to himself.In this church, everyone sat in the same place each Sunday. Some members had been sitting on the same pew for 50 years, and weren't about to sit anyplace else!
Enjoying his new role, Jack was greeted with encouragement and smiles as he ushered the members to their pews. Just before the service began, a visitor arrived and made her way to one of the pews in Jack's area.She was unaware of the "seating assignment" tradition.The head usher instructed Jack to go to the guest and tell her politely, "Pardon me, madam, but you're occupying the wrong pew.May I show you to another seat?"
Jack didn't want to mess up on his first day, so he practiced his speech several times as he slowly walked toward the lady who was now comfortably settled in the wrong pew. When he got to the place where she was seated, he opened his mouth to softly state his rehearsed speech, but instead he blurted out: "M-M-Mardon me, padam, b-b-but you're occupewing the wrong pie. M-M-May I sew you to another sheet?"
God has a place of ministry and service for every Christian. Like Jack, we may stumble around a bit before we find just the right niche. Don't give up! You have unique gifts which qualify you for serving the Lord. If you haven't found that place of ministry just keep on seeking. Usually, you will find that serving God incorporates the use of talents and skills you've gained throughout your life.
I think we sometimes make "Finding God's will for our lives" more difficult than it really is. God will not call you to do something for which He has not already prepared you.
"It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today - to love the Lord your God and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul - then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil." (Deuteronomy 11:12-14)
GospeLines Prayer:Father, give me courage beyond what I think I can or cannot do for You. Never allow me to hinder Your work because I was afraid to say yes!Amen and amen!