PRAYER IS ALL YOU NEED
Thursday, May 5th is National Day of Prayer. It was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. It is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray for our nation.
It is very doubtful you will see or hear anything about it on the national news or even local news. If you do Facebook you probably won’t see anything about it there or on any other kind of social media for that matter.
Our nation and our politicians need our prayers. Other nations around the world need our prayers too. When we seek to bless others through prayer, we are blessed. Studies draw causal links between prayer and faith and health and happiness. The act of praying for others has a boomerang effect. It allows us to shift the burden we carry for others to the shoulders of God and those are big shoulders.
God promises us in His Word that He hears every word that we pray to Him. Like a good parent, He is waiting, ready, and willing to listen to our worries, concerns, and needs. Whether we are seeking forgiveness, strength, or healing, prayer provides the channel to communicate with God. Make every day a prayer day.
Don’t grow angry at our nation’s condition, pray for our nation. Don’t fret about the polititians, pray for them. Is there a crisis in our world or your world? Do you need hope where hope cannot be found? Is prayer all that you have? That’s okay—prayer is all you need.
"True prayer is a way of life, not just for use in cases of emergency. Make it a habit, and when the need arises you will be in practice." - Billy Graham
THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD
It’s Friday night. The disciples of Jesus were frightened, confused and fearful. They all believed that Jesus was dead and they would never see him again. Peter had denied him. The other disciples kept their distance and said nothing to stop them. Only John would come near the cross. They huddled in an upper room with the door locked
The women who went to the tomb fully expected to find Jesus dead body. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus were walking away from Jerusalem. Their faith had been buried with their Master in the tomb guarded by Roman soldiers.
It is a few weeks later and those same disciples now boldly stand in the temple courts. They are telling everyone that Jesus Christ is Lord of all. They are preaching that only by repentance and faith can anyone be saved. The women are telling whoever would listen that when they went to the tomb the stone was rolled away and the tomb was empty. An angel told them. “He is not here, for He is risen.” The two disciples on the road turned around and came back after seeing Jesus. The rest of the disciples told of Jesus coming to them in the upper room.
These cowering men and women changed into evangelists who spread the message of the gospel and shook the world. There is only one credible explanation for such a radical change. They had all truly heard and seen the risen Christ.
No one throughout 2,000 years has been able to come up with a credible answer to the question, “If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, what happened to his body?”
Let the truth of this story change your life like it did those of the women and the disciples. Like they did, boldly share this story with others and let it change their lives too. That’s what Jesus wants us to do because it is the greatest story ever told.
A MONTH OF CHANGES
March is a month of changes. During the latter part of the month the season of winter ends and begins to change to the season of spring. Mother Nature changes from the dull shades of winter to springs beautiful colors. Wildflowers start bursting through the dead leaves. Tiny leaf buds start to appear on bare tree limbs. Fields, forests and your backyard feeders change with the addition of migrating birds joining birds that have been around all winter. They sing their songs of spring. Pull up a seat in your yard or on your porch and enjoy the show.
If you love hunting and fishing like I do, it changes too. Fish head to their spawning areas and so do the fishermen. Turkey gobblers will soon be feeling their urge to mate. Deer and other wildlife will be welcoming their babies into the world. Delicious morel mushrooms will appear among the forest leaves. It’s a wonderful time to take a walk or take a hike. Maybe even pitch a tent, set around a campfire and look up into a dark sky filled with millions of twinkling stars and talk to God.
The coronavirus is still around changing our lives. It has been with us now since March of 2020. Since that time many people have discovered that the great outdoors is a great place to social distance plus it’s great for your health both body and mind. In this month of changes why not get outdoors to see all the changes. You may never feel closer to God. The outdoors that God created can change your life. It did mine.
Maybe it’s planting fields on your tractor or planting a garden or planting flowers and seeing the changes that come from your work. Maybe you’re just not an outdoors person at all and that’s okay too. All of us can make March a month of changes by reading our bible more, praying more or volunteering to serve more. Maybe it’s telling others about Jesus more and changing their life too.
I CAN ONLY IMAGINE
Bart Millard’s parents were divorced when he was 3 years old. His mother didn’t want him so Millard was sent to live with his father who was abusive to him through much of his childhood. As a child he lived in fear of his father. When he would get upset about something he would take it out on Bart.
When he was a teenager Millard's father was diagnosed with cancer and their relationship began to change. His father found God and the two became closer through his illness. By the time he passed away, Millard called his father "the Godliest man I'd ever known" and through that Millard found God as well.
At his father's funeral his grandmother said to him, "'I can only imagine what your dad's seeing now in heaven." That phrase, “I Can Only Imagine”, stuck with Millard and he eventually turned that phrase into a song that has become one of the best-selling Christian songs of all time. The song and later a movie of Bart’s story has touched the lives of people all over the world. I pray that Bart’s words to his song will touch your life too.
I can only imagine what it will be like when I walk by Your side.
I can only imagine what my eyes will see when Your face is before me.
I can only imagine.
Surrounded by Your glory what will my heart feel?
Will I dance for You, Jesus or in awe of You be still?
Will I stand in Your presence or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing hallelujah? Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine.
I can only imagine when that day comes and I find myself standing in the son.
I can only imagine when all I will do is forever—forever worship You.
I can only imagine.
HOW TO HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR
The past two years things have changed dramatically. We are a divided nation. A pandemic had a lot to do with that. So did politics, negative news and social media. So, what will 2022 bring? I have no idea but I do know God is in control. Galatians 5:22 & 23 shows us a way to get through it all.
Choose love – Love God, your family, your friends, this church. For others, pray for them because no occasion justifies hatred and no injustice warrants bitterness.
Choose Joy – Do your best to refuse the temptation to be cynical. Do your best to see people as human beings created by God. See any problem as an opportunity to talk to God.
Choose peace – Live forgiven. Forgive so that you may live. Do not judge and hopefully be not judged by others.
Choose Patience – Rather than complain that the wait is too long, thank God for a moment to pray. Instead of letting others frustrate you, pray for them.
Choose kindness – Be kind to the unkind for that is how God has treated you.
Choose goodness – Go without a dollar before you take a dishonest one. Be content to be overlooked before you boast or brag. Look at your own faults before you accuse. Tell others about Jesus.
Choose faithfulness – Be faithful to God. May your spouse and family not question your love or your friends your friendship.
Choose gentleness – If you raise your voice may it only be in praise or song. If you clench your fist, may it only be in prayer.
Choose self-control – Be impassioned by your faith. Be influenced only by God.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Commit to these in 2022. If you succeed, give thanks. If you fail, seek His grace. Do these things and you will have a Happy New Year!
WE ALL NEED CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR
Get out of your house and go to a quiet place. Escape the pandemic and politics, diversity and division. Escape the negative news and nothing worth watching on TV. Escape all the social media “stuff”. Escape your smart phone and computer. Escape the hustle and bustle of Christmas.
Take a hike up one of our many Ozarks hills and gaze over the beautiful valley below. Feel the warmth of a campfire as you watch the flames dance and sparks float hypnotically upward into a dark night sky filled with thousands of twinkling stars. Pull up a log and sit on a gravel bar. Let the flowing water calm you. Go to one of our many area lakes and enjoy watching an eagle out fishing. Climb a tree and sit in a stand whether you hunt or not as the animals go about their daily lives not even knowing you are there. You can also just close your eyes and go to these places in your mind.
Now, look around at all you see before you. That did not happen because of some cosmic explosion or any other theory. God created the great outdoors for all of us to enjoy. Travel in your mind to a dirty, smelly stable in the city of Bethlehem. Close your eyes and imagine what Mary must have felt like when she touched God’s face and held His hand. If God was willing to be born in a stable surrounded by cows, sheep and donkeys then have faith that He is here among us now in this messed up old world. There is no limit to His love. All we have to do is believe and accept God’s gift to us of Jesus. When Christ was born, so was our hope. In a changing world that has not changed.
Enjoy the Christmas tree and all the decorations. Go to our Christmas Eve service. Hear the story of a baby born in a manger. Sing the joyous Christmas songs. Hold your family close. Take comfort in the real reason for the season. We all need Christmas this year!
STORMS OF LIFE
Most of the time life is going along just fine. Suddenly without warning, storms of life happen.
Mark 4:35-5:1 tells us about a terrible storm. The disciples were with Jesus on a boat crossing the Sea of Galilee. As Jesus slept a furious storm came up and the disciples were afraid for their lives. Did God not care? Weren’t they handpicked by Jesus and closest to him? Weren’t they obeying Jesus who told them to go to the other side? Why then were they going through such a turbulent time?
The disciples initially feared the storm but the storm brought them closer to Jesus. The disciples said, “Who is this man? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
Not a one of us are exempt from the storms of life. A lot of us have been through some storms lately. Some are still going through them.
We may not understand why God allows storms of life to happen to us. Just know that we, like the disciples, can come to be closer to God through them.
For some the storms have ended, for some the storms are still to come, for others the storms continue and the boats still rocking. The storms of life prove the strength of our anchor. Through the storms of life, the Son still shines!
GOD’S GIFT OF AUTUMN
To me, autumn is a gift from God. It is a time that lingers in your heart and mind. God gives us cooler temperatures to refresh body and soul. He paints the landscape with brilliant colors of red, yellow and orange. He makes the sunsets coppery.
God created the beautiful harvest moon to enjoy as we take an evening walk or sit outside wrapped in a sweater enjoying the moonlit night. He also created it to give farmers more time to harvest their crops before winter comes.
Autumn smells are everywhere too. Apple cider and hot chocolate. Smoke from burning leaves, chimneys or campfires. The singed pumpkin of a jack-o-lantern plug. A slight hint of the smell of decaying leaves and plants fill the air.
The sounds of autumn are distinct too. Crickets sing their song of summers ending. Crisp dead leaves begin covering the ground and crunch underfoot. Squirrels chatter and raise a leafy rattle as they scurry around burying acorns.
Bucks vying for dominance fight and their antlers clack and scrape. Migrating geese fly across the autumn skies in wide V’s belting out calls of reassurance to one another. The chorus of honks fills the chill air first softly, then loudly and then fades away. A new fleet of geese takes up the call then passes too and the V’s continue.
Have you ever wondered why geese fly in a V formation? When each goose flaps its wings that causes an updraft for the bird that is behind it helping the other goose fly with less effort. So, each goose helps the other and the whole flock is able to fly much farther than one goose could by itself.
Also, you never see the same goose flying at the point of the V. When the lead goose gets tired they take turns. And, all that honking noise you hear. Well, that’s their way of encouraging each other.
If a goose gets sick or shot and flies to the ground two geese will join that goose to watch over it until it is able to fly again or it dies. As Christians, like the geese, we need to realize we really need one another.
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