Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunday March 29, 2015 Psalm 119:37

Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word. (Psalms 119:37 NLT)
The world has always been filled with things that shout for attention. Bright shiny things that catch our eye and lure us in almost without our knowing. In this age of computers and smart phones and ceaseless connectivity through social media, it is more true than perhaps at any other time in history. Scripture tells us that just as we have a God who can and will work all things for our good (Romans 8:28) we also have an enemy who can and will seek our harm (Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 NLT). The enemy will use anything to distract us from our pursuit of God. This passage reminds us that the antidote for this is God's word, which will give us life as we fill our hearts and minds with it. We need His word to give life to our souls as surely as we need food to give life to our bodies. Do we spend as much time reading our Bible as we spend on Facebook or Pinterest or TV or fiction? If not, perhaps we need to make this prayer from the psalmist our own.
Prayer for today: O Lord, I love You and do so want to follow Your ways. Yet at the same time so many things in the world around me distract and lure me off course. Help me Lord! Speak to me through Your word and fill me with a desire for your word that burns brighter than the shiny things of this world which are truly worthless. I ask this in Jesus powerful name. AMEN!
Confession for today: I confess that as I fill myself with Gods word, the lure of worthless, worldly things that distract me from God's purpose for me will fade and lose their power over me. I declare this by faith in Jesus. AMEN!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Saturday March 28, 2015 2 Corinthians 1:4

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. (2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT)
I love this verse which is both a promise and a charge. The promise is that in times of trial, our Heavenly Father will be with us, not just watching or observing from afar, but offering comfort. But as with all the gifts He gives us, we are to use what receive to help others, comforting them in their trouble. That is how God's kingdom is built on earth: grateful people who have been blessed by God take their gifts and use them to bless others who will in turn do the same for yet others and so on it goes. People just like you and I, are often the vehicle God uses to answer the prayers of His children on earth. When we suffer we gain a new perspective or insight; an ability to see and identify with the pain of others. Compassion grows within us and we long to act to alleviate that pain. God wastes nothing. Every trial we endure, each tear we cry gives us a tool to love and support someone else who is suffering.
Prayer for today: Father God, you are so good and gracious. We give thanks that You are not a distant God viewing our suffering on this earth without compassion, but offer us Your own comfort. Lead and guide us we pray to reach out to others who are suffering and pay it forward by offering comfort and help in their trials great and small. We ask in the name of Jesus, who knew such great compassion that he laid down His own life for us. AMEN!
Confession for today: I confess that whatever I may be going through, my God is with me, offering comfort. I will lay claim to that life changing comfort and use it not just for myself, but to comfort others in need. I declare this by faith in Jesus. AMEN!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday March 27, 2015 Jeremiah 20:13

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13 ESV)
This verse has been so true in my own life. Those times when I am focused on God have been my times of growth in my spiritual life. Those times when God seems distant have been the times when things other than God have loomed large in my life, distracting me. We were reminded  yesterday  that our God yearns to be in relationship with us. God does not change, he is the same yesterday today and tomorrow. We, unfortunately are far less  steady. We can be sure that if God seems distant the problem is on our end. Am I being consistent in spending quiet time studying His word, and in prayer? Am I worshipping and giving thanks? Do I have unconfessed or even unrecognized sin in my life? God stands patiently waiting for us to seek Him earnestly, with our whole heart and the promise here is that when we do we will find Him. Good news for us since we know He keeps every promise forever(Psalm 146:6)!
Prayer for today: Father God, we love You and are so grateful for Your love for us and Your desire to be in relationship with us. Help us we pray, to be so desperate to know You that we will seek You with our whole hearts, knowing that when we do, we will find You. We ask this in Jesus' name. AMEN!
Confession for today: I confess that I will seek after God with my whole heart so that I can claim the promise of finding Him. I declare this by faith in Jesus. AMEN!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thursday March 26, 2015 Hosea 6:6

I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings. (Hosea 6:6 NLT)
If there ever was a question of what God desires of us, this passage should put that to rest. Stated loud and clear for us is God's desire to know us and have relationship with us. I find this humbling and amazingly encouraging all at the same time. Any question of each individual's sacred worth should vanish at the reading of these words. It is even more meaningful to me that we find these words in the Old Testament when people were still bound under a system of sacrifices and burnt offerings. If it was true then that the Maker of the universe desired relationship with His children, how much more so now that Jesus has sacrificed His own life to reconcile us? A dear friend recently reminded me that it really is true that God is love and experiencing that particular love personally is life's greatest joy. May that joy rise up in each of us and overflow into the world around us!
Prayer for today: God who is the source of all love, we are so amazed that you care for us as You do! Continue to draw us into closer and deeper communion with You we pray. Help us to openly express the joy of our relationship with You that seeing that joy, others would desire to know You and experience for themselves the love of Christ Jesus, in whose name we now pray. AMEN!
Confession for today: I confess that I am a child of the one true King and His love for me is so great that He gave His only Son that I might be saved and brought into relationship with Him. I will honor that relationship and work diligently to keep it vibrant. I declare this by faith in Jesus. AMEN!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wednesday March 25, 2015 Psalm 118:24

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118: 24 (KJV)

I’m not a morning person.  I confirmed this a while back when I no longer had a child to get up or a time clock to punch.  I stay up late, and sleep late — when I can. So I am no longer out on the road at what most people would call a “decent hour”. Sundays are the exception.  I like the early service (I know it’s not the crack of dawn, but it’s early for me). And so on the way to church I can marvel at the early sun – especially in the winter when I drive into the rising sun on the way from Pine Island to Warwick.   Well, one spectacular morning I drove down our road, struck by the beauty of late winter, and found myself saying the above verse.  And the next couple of Sunday mornings I did the same. Until a dreary, yucky day came, and I consciously thought “Well, so much for a day to rejoice!”… and it belatedly struck me: oh, I guess God made this day, too.  And maybe I should still “rejoice”. So I made it my habit, not just on early mornings, but most of the time when I leave my home to go down my road and out into the “world”, to recite that to myself. Just an extra little prayer to send me on my way. On a good day, or a bad day, a happy day or sad, beautiful or yucky – it’s the day the Lord has made.

Actually, in the context of the Psalm, this short verse isn’t about creation or beauty, it’s about victory in battle, and in other translations it’s clear (the NIV says “The Lord has done it this very day!”).  And that’s good, too. Because just a few words later verse 26 says: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”.  And as Palm Sunday approaches, we can hear the echo of the people shouting that verse as Jesus entered into Jerusalem. The Gospels proclaim HOSANNA!-- Marilyn McCarter
Prayer for today: God of all creation, we love You and offer thanks for this new day which You have given us. Help us use it wisely in a way that is pleasing to You. Lead us to greet whatever comes our way with a joyful heart as a witness to the many blessings You shower on us through Christ Jesus in whose name we pray. AMEN!
Confession for Today: I am blessed by God in countless ways. Today I will pause to notice the beauty of His creation around me and give thanks to the Creator. I am able to stand in awe and thanksgiving regardless of the circumstances in which I find myself. I declare this by faith in Jesus. AMEN!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tuesday March 24. Isaiah 55:8-9

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT)
Many times in our life this side of heaven, we witness events or situations that we simply cannot understand. From our mortal point of view, we can see no possible way that they are just or fair nor can we see how God could possible work them for our good or indeed any good. This verse has been of great comfort to me at such times. It reminds me that it is not part of God's plan that I understand everything in this life. God does not expect that of me. Even the apostle Paul who himself had such great revelation from God, told us that his knowledge was only partial and He saw but dimly (1 Corinthians 13:9,12). Should we expect more? Instead, God asks us to trust Him while at the same time assuring us that His ways are far beyond anything we could imagine. As far as heaven is above earth. Hallelujah!
Prayer for today: Father God, we love You and ask for faith to trust You in all things. Remind us of Your sovereignty and Your goodness that we could be confident that even the things we cannot understand are safe in Your care. We ask in Jesus' name. AMEN!
Confession for today:  I confess that my God is for me and worthy of not just my praise and adoration, but of my trust. He is faithfully ordering all things and His ways are far above mine. I am safe in His care. I declare this by faith in Jesus. AMEN!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Monday March 23, 2015 Galations 6:9

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. (Galatians 6:9 NLT)
I love this passage because it gives me an often-needed reminder to never give up. Life can be very discouraging at times. Circumstances test us and people often disappoint. Yet the author of Hebrews encourages us to run with endurance the race set before us (see Sunday March 15 post). The very next verse in the Hebrews passage reminds us that Jesus himself was able to endure the cross for the joy set before Him...the Joy of heaven of which he of all people, being fully God, had personal knowledge. While we as believers can look forward to that same joy, thanks to His sacrifice for us, I believe that God often uses our trials to bless us in some way right here in this life. However, we frequently miss the blessing He wished to bestow upon us by succumbing to spiritual  weariness and giving up too soon. In this passage, Paul reminds us to persevere in doing good and that God will shower us with blessing (a whole harvest) at just the right time. What good thing has God given you to do? Are you becoming discouraged? The Lord sees you and loves you and wants to encourage you to keep at it. Never.Give.Up!
Prayer for today: Most Gracious God, we love You and praise You and give You thanks for those exemplary ones you have placed before us to encourage us to persevere. Help us, we pray, to be ever faithful in our pursuit of doing good and see our "assignments" through so that we may reap that harvest of blessing You have prepared for us for just the right time. We ask in Jesus' name. AMEN!
Confession for today: I confess that I am able, with God's help, to overcome weariness and discouragement that sometimes comes with doing His will. God will not only empower and equip me to do good but will shower me with blessing for so doing, be it in this life or the next. I declare this by faith in Jesus. AMEN!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Sunday March 22, 2015 Mark 10:15

Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.  Mark 10:15
What does it mean to receive the kingdom of God as a little child? To me, it means that we must trust the Lord our God the way a child trusts it's parent. An infant cannot do anything for itself but must rely fully and completely on it's parent to provide food, shelter, warmth, comfort. When a baby is in distress it will cry out, but since it cannot speak, it has to trust that the one who responds will know what it needs. This is how we must trust in God, that God, our holy parent, will provide all that we need. Yes, we can go to God in prayer and bring a list of things that we think we need, but we must recall that God knows better than we do what will satisfy our desires, so must learn to cry out to God when we suffer, and then to trust that God will know what to do.
Prayer for today:  God give me the trust of a child. Create in me a willingness to abandon my needs and desires to you, knowing that you will take care of all my needs. Help me to remember that you have in mind for me a future with hope. Help me to see the answers that you provide to my prayers, even when they don't come in ways that I expect them to. I ask in Jesus' name. AMEN!
Confession for today: God I confess that I am impatient and selfish. When you offer me the promise of a new future, I complain that you don't get me there fast enough. When you provide for my needs, I complain that it isn't enough. Teach me to be patient. Instruct me to be grateful. In my complaints, challenge me to consider the big picture - to see the oppression, injustice, and inequality around me. Help me to see the good of my own situation and to understand the situation of those who suffer. In my impatience, help me to trust in your most perfect will that good things will come in your time. Help me to trust in you God.
--Susan Chupungco

Saturday March 21, 2015 Philippians 4:6-7

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7New King James Version (NKJV)

It is a given that there are difficulties in life and they will always be there.  Problems at work, financial burdens, complications in relationships, dealing with children/young adults, etc. - all begin to build and many times as the pressures of life start piling on, I begin to feel the physical, mental and spiritual signs of stress.

These verses remind me that God is in control and His will is going to be done.  God invites me to join Him in the process – He wants me to participate in His plans!  He wants me to rely on Him for everything – my wants and the wants of my family, afflictions, embarrassments and trials, everything relating to my spiritual condition – there is nothing which pertains to body, mind, home, friends, conflicts, losses, trials, hopes and fears that I cannot present to the Lord.  When I completely surrender to Him with grateful confidence and dependence on Him and allow Him to guide me, I find myself at peace.  This is when I know I am right where I am supposed to be.

When God is first in my life and is my true heart’s desire, the requests I present to Him tend to line up with His will.  I can boldly claim His promises and know He will provide all of the protection I need to overcome anything the world throws my way.  Ultimately, Paul reminds me that God is in control and I have absolutely nothing to worry about! --Laurie McGuffey
Prayer for today: God of all Power, You are so good and gracious to Your children! We give thanks that through Christ, we are welcome to come to You in prayer with any concern whether great or small. Teach our anxious hearts to do just that. Remind us that worry is useless and indeed harmful but prayer is powerful and life giving. Help us learn to come to You with grateful hearts as our first recourse instead of a last resort. We ask in Jesus' name. AMEN!
Confession for today: I reject worry and anxiety and claim the peace of God, which is His will for me. I can subdue anything that threatens my peace by bringing it to The Lord with thanksgiving in Jesus name. I declare this by faith in Jesus! AMEN!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday March 20, 2015 Psalm 32:7

You are my hiding place; 
You shall preserve me from trouble; 
You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7

I have a lot of favorite Bible verses so it would be really hard to pick any one. However, when Paul was battling his atrial fibrillation after his stroke he was a very broken man thinking that he was being punished by God.  One night I was rather at wits end of what to do anymore so I got out the Bible and just opened up to whatever chapter. I opened to Psalm 32. It was interesting because that was his number assigned in football back in High School. It really hit home and offered him some peace. I like the whole Psalm but verse 7 could sum it up. We made that a regular practice and he seemed to be calmed when I read to him. --Kathleen Kersten 
Prayer for today: Father God, we love You and praise You. We give thanks for Your word that speaks to our souls bringing peace and comfort in times of trial. Lord, You are indeed that safe haven and through Christ have delivered us. Hallelujah! We pray in Jesus' name. AMEN!
Confession for today: I confess that there is power in God's word for it is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12) and a source of knowledge, wisdom and peace.  I will be blessed as I meditate on it day and night (Psalm 1:2). I declare this by faith in Jesus. AMEN!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Thursday March 19, 2015 Philippians 4:8

Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are just; whatsoever things are noble, whatsoever things are pure; whatsoever things are lovely; whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue and if there be anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things. (Philippians 4:8) 
I tend to be a worrier. Although I know we are to cast our burdens upon The Lord, and that not to do so is a poor witness, not to mention fruitless, harmful and a waste of time, I often find it difficult to do so. A concern... a fear...a hurt...a lie of the enemy...any of these can begin swirling in my thoughts until it overwhelms me. When I find myself in "that place" these are the words I repeat to myself to remind me that I have a God who loves me, works for my good, and will never forsake me. They are the words of truth I use to replace the other kind of words which are faithless and may even be harmful. I've used them countless times this way and suspect I will continue to do so. It's how I "take each thought captive and bring it  into obedience to Christ". Praise God for His word which is indeed alive and active.
Prayer for today: God of all truth, we love You and praise You. Help us to realize the importance of our thought life and take charge of it, thinking thoughts that are pleasing to You. Thank you for this formula you have given us in Your word for doing just that. We ask in Jesus' name. AMEN!
Confession for today:  I confess that though the enemy may wish to distract and torture me with faithless and worthless thoughts, I am in charge of my thoughts. I can and will take charge of them and focus on right thinking which will strengthen me and keep me walking in Your way O God. I declare this by faith in Jesus. AMEN!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wednesday March 18, 2015 Isaiah 60:1

Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.
Isaiah 60:1
There are days when you just don't want to get out of bed and face the world. The sky is grey, the wind is blowing, and you can't imagine how anything good can come of that day. You want to stay under the covers and maybe read a book and sip tea, but heading out into the world seems impossible. Then you remember that you have the light of Christ within you and that it is the strength of Christ and not your own strength that allows you to face whatever it is that lies ahead.
Prayer for today:
Jesus Lord, thank you for giving us the example of what it means to face a difficult journey with grace and determination, trusting that God is watching over us each step of the way. When you faced your death, you didn't hide from where God was taking you, but you faced it with courage. Help us to know that you walk with us each day, and that we can lean on you for strength and hope.
Confession for today:
I confess that sometime I fail to trust you completely. I see the road ahead and I worry that it is too difficult, and I forget that you have always been faithful, providing me with all that I need for the task that you have called me to. Help me to recall the times that you have been faithful.  Help me to remember the abundant blessings you have poured out on me so that I will find strength in you once again. 
--Susan Chupungco

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tuesday March 17, 2015 Psalm 147:10-11

He takes no pleasure in the strength of a horse or in human might. No, the LORD’s delight is in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love. (Psalms 147:10-11 NLT)
I love this verse because it reminds me that We don't need to be perfect or powerful to be  good, fruitful followers of Jesus. God's love for us is not based on how well we perform nor how much we accomplish. Rather, His delight is in our submission to Him and our willingness to acknowledge our total dependence on Him. Simply by accepting his love, we bring Him joy.
Our response to that love, of course, is to love and serve others, but at the core of our Christian walk, is our love relationship with the God who made us and sent His only Son to redeem us and draw us to Himself. May we never lose track of that blessed assurance.
Prayer for today: God of all love, we come praising You and thanking You that Your love for us is truly unconditional. Keep us ever mindful that Your delight is in our relationship with You not in what we do or accomplish. Help us to love others by that same model. We ask in the name of the one who gave everything out of His love for us, Jesus. AMEN
Confession for today: I confess that I am beloved of God. I am completely and utterly dependent on Him. I am His child and He delights in me. I declare this by faith in Jesus. AMEN!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Monday March 16, 2015 2 Corinthians 4:16

"Therefore we do not lose heart,even though  our outward man is perishing,yet the inward man is being renewed day by day." 2 Corinthians4:16

The LORD was ever present while spending time with my Dad at the end of his life on earth.
My sister and I were speaking to him,crying, and very sad.He never responded as he laid still with his eyes closed.

After a short time the LORD spoke so clearly to my heart. I said to my sister "Do you know what is happening?We are only seeing Dad from the outside.Inside his spirit is being renewed,he knows where he is going and he is fine."' God had filled me with joy & hope in believing that my Dads' last breath on earth would be his first in heaven!What  sweet peace and  comfort!
I knew what was spoken to my heart was from our Wonderful Counselor,speaking Truth,and that it must be in the scriptures.I started seeking to find where. A few weeks later a dear friend said"Charlene I think the verse you've been looking for is 2Corinthians 4:16...and it was!! --Charlene Yates

Prayer for today:
 Dear Father,Thank you for your faithfulness,you never leave us.You comfort  and give peace as only you can give Jesus. Sorrow may come, but being yours LORD is  our joy and strength .Help us to always walk by faith and not by sight.Thank you for your amazing Grace and your living words of life! Thank you for abiding in us,may we be found abiding in you and be blessed. In Jesus' name,Amen.

Confession for today:
I confess "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday,today, and forever" "The grass withers and the flower fades, but the word of God stands forever" " Forever, O LORD,Your word is settled  in heaven."(Hebrews13:8 Isiah 40:6-8 Psalm119:89)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Sunday March 15, 2015 Hebrews 12:1

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.  And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us."  Hebrew 12:1 NLT

Yesterday, as I was reflecting on a favorite Bible verse while driving through the Berkshires, I thought of this Scripture passage.  So often, I have written this verse when friends have lost loved ones to remind them that their loved ones remain near.  "We are surrounded . . . "

Upon returning home, I called my friend Cindy who has known me since her "Jesus" pin invited our first conversation forty years ago in the college library.  Her father is 93 and has become increasingly frail.  Cindy told me that she now speaks often with him of dying; and in doing so, this has allowed her to think more about how thin the veil is between our life here and those who have returned to God.  She then told me, "'We are surrounded by so great a crowd of witnesses to the life of faith' and Mamie is part of your crowd.  You have become like her because she is with you."

Oh, how precious a message from my sister in Christ.  I have told my children that on the day when God calls me Home, something you think about at almost-60, Mamie will be there.  And yet the veil is thin.  I see her in the mourning doves that we once watched in her driveway when I was a child, doves that now feed on our back porch.  The African violet plant given to welcome me here by a new friend again reminds me of her.  Mamie was my father's aunt, my great-aunt.  She lived just three doors down and was my safe haven growing up, the one who always had time and an open door.  Our Daily Bread was next to her knitting chair; and I would sit next to her in the little country church down the road during summers when the Lutheran Church we attended didn't have Sunday School.  Mamie lived a life of simple faith and gentle love.

Yes, I enjoy thinking that I have an unseen cheering section that surrounds and encourages me in my faith.  As the years go by and the list of those whom I have loved who have winged their way Heavenward grows longer, I take comfort in thinking they are near.  One day, Jesus will extend His Hand of welcome through that thin veil and I will join that crowd of witnesses to the faith.  And those whose love and faith helped fashion my life will no longer be hidden from view. --Marilyn Shogren

Prayer for Today: Father God, we give thanks for all those who have gone before us into Your glorious presence, especially those ones who helped to shape our faith. Let the knowledge that they surround us give us the strength and will to continue to run our race with endurance until that day when we meet again. We ask in Jesus' name. AMEN!
Confession for Today: I confess that I will live by faith and not by sight. You have told us in Your word that those faithful ones are surrounding us in great number and so I accept their nearness as encouragement for my own faith. I will not waver as I run the race You have set before me and join in that great cloud when Jesus welcomes me home. I declare this by faith in His name. AMEN!

Saturday March 14, 2015 Psalm 130:5

I wait for Jehovah my soul doth wait and in his word I hope. Psalm 130:5 

Waiting on the Lord's timing is not that hard  once you realize it's an opportunity for growth somewhere else.  So as we wait we lift up our prayers or needs then go and do something else i.e. help a friend do housework or a craft or listen to Christian music etc . I agree our society has lost sight of this. Praise God for His word and people who serve as examples who help each other to not lose sight of the joy of waiting upon The Lord. I also would love to see this taught and practiced in our schools as our students seem to be constantly pushed in every direction. One prayer I have as I see many high school kids trying so hard to do it all is that they learn to be still in God's presence as they travel their journey to become successful men and women . For true success is only achieved by Gods plan for us. One confession I have is that I wish I truly understood that concept when I was younger! --Pauline Corti
Prayer for today: Father God,we love You and give You our praise this day. Lord we thank You for Your timing which is perfect despite what our desires may tell us to the contrary. Help us to use our waiting times to grow closer to You by prayers, service and time in Your word. Let us teach our young people by our own example, no matter our age. We ask this in Jesus's name. AMEN!
Confession for today: I confess that God's timing is perfect and I will wait patiently for it in all areas of my life. I will not try to circumvent God's timing by my own works of the flesh for I realize that is futile and a poor witness. I declare this by faith in Jesus. AMEN!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Friday March 13, 2015 Micah 6:8b

And what does the Lord require of you? 
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8b

My favorite Bible verse has been very important for me.  I stumbled upon it while reading the Bible as a boy, years before I even entered a church, much less was baptized or having joined. 
I was blessed to grow up in a loving family. We had a struggling farm that morphed into a struggling retail lumber yard. I was very grateful for what we had: enough food, enough clothes, a warm house that was dry. And more than enough love to go around.  Our section of Bristol Township was such that we had many more blessings than a lot of my friends. I learned to respect all people, and believe me, there was real variety in people's situations! Loving mercy became  a vital part of my upbringing.  Caring about others, treating all people as worthy persons made it natural to grow into ministries from Mozambique Volunteer in Mission to teaching in the prison for Rising Hope.  I have had years of involvement with the Newburgh Ministry, especially the homeless shelter.  In all of these justice and mercy ministries I experience God's presence in the people around me. I pray that I will continue to walk humbly with my God, who will continue to open doors to even more of his children. -- Henry McCarter
Prayer for today: Gracious God, who loves and cares for all persons, help us this day to be mindful of justice, mercy and humility, which You have listed not as suggestions, but rather requirements. As we go through THIS day open our eyes to the many opportunities to practice these and motivate us to do so for Your glory. May all our actions be pleasing to You. We ask in Jesus' name AMEN!
Confession for today: I confess that as I walk with my God this day I will do so with humility in all things and I will be vigilant to find ways to practice justice and mercy in all my dealings with the people He places in my path. I declare this by faith in Jesus. AMEN!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Thursday March 12, 2015 1 Timothy 4:12

Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity."
1 Timothy 4:12, NLT

Taken out of context, this verse requires a little decoding.  Our American culture puts more emphasis on youth than maybe anyone ever in history; however, even in biblical times, youth and physical strength would have had their advantages.  Why did the apostle Paul warn this younger believer, Timothy, about the traps set before young people?

In biblical times, children were viewed as property, and for a religious leader such as Jesus to include them in his entourage must have indicated to the crowds that society was all backwards. "For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children" (Luke 18:16 c, NLT).  Returning to the dependency and simplicity of childhood is not only a good thing; it is the best thing.

Paul knew the same judgment would continue to fall on young believers; however, he charged young people with being role models for others.  In other words, do not slack off because you do not have the same responsibilities as your parents and teachers.  Use your gifts for the Kingdom of God and do not let anyone underestimate your potential, your intuition and your spirituality, Paul says.

In some ways, our society still equates youth with naivety.  Well-meaning coworkers of mine have said things about how I am young and have not yet known loss, or I am young and cannot understand social conflict.  While such experiences will increase in clarity over the years, this does not diminish my responsibility to set an example before others.  As Psalm 90:12 says, "Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom."--Tim Getz

Prayer for today: Great God of all, help us to use whatever opportunities You give us to increase your Kingdom, no matter our age. We are grateful that You have no favorites, as scripture tells us, and we ask that You would  equip us by Your Spirit to do whatever You call us to do, when You call us to do it. In the name of Jesus we pray. AMEN!

Confession for today: I confess that no matter my age, old, young or in  between, I can be used by God to help build His Kingdom. I can confidently use whatever gifts He has given me for His glory. I declare this by faith in Jesus. AMEN!

Wednesday March 11, 2015 Psalm 46:10

"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” --Psalm 46:10

Although the bulk of this Psalm is in third person, in this verse, the voice of God is loud and clear. In our over-scheduled, cacophonous society we rarely have the inclination or ability to simply be still and let God move. If we are frantic, pushing and shoving our way in the world; we cannot hear the still small voice of God or relax and let his will be done.  It takes patience and practice to embrace the silence and listen. Are you willing?

Perhaps this comes from my Quaker upbringing, but I find that people talk too much and listen too little, whether to God, their own hearts or to others. --Beverly Robertson

Prayer for today: Almighty and all powerful God, we love You and bow before You humbly this day. Help us, we pray, to still ourselves, body, mind and spirit that we might somehow take in the magnificence of all that You are. Remind us, in that quiet space, of Whom we are serving. We ask in the name of Jesus, whom scripture tells us often withdrew to a quiet place to be with You. AMEN!
Confession for today: I confess that in quiet, with an open heart, I am best able to seek The Lord my God. I will make time to step back in quiet humility to seek The One Jesus died to reconcile me to. I declare this by faith in His name. AMEN!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tuesday March 10, 2015 John 16:33

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)

The promise of trouble or trials or tribulation in this world is the promise no one wants to claim, but it is comforting to have Jesus Himself acknowledge trouble as "normal" for life in this world. It makes me realize that the difficulties we face are not some sort of punishment or sign of God's displeasure in me, but rather just the state of being for this broken world that is our temporary home. Jesus tells us that we can still have peace, HIS peace despite the tumult around us. And praise be to God, that's not the end of the story! Not at all...for Jesus has overcome this world already. So through Him, we as His followers are assured of final victory over whatever we may be facing in this life, as well as joyous welcome into the next, where we will meet Him face to face.

Prayer for today: Father God, we love you and are so grateful for Jesus victory over this world and all it's troubles. Thank you for the knowledge that Jesus has already won the battle for us. Because of that, please help us to experience peace even in the midst of the troubles of this world knowing it is not our home, but only a prelude to our eternal home with You. Help us to share this Good News with those around us that they too could know You and taste Your peace. We ask in Jesus' name. AMEN!
Confession for today: I confess that because of Christ's victory over this world, I can be at peace no matter how difficult my circumstances. I declare this by faith in Jesus. AMEN!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Monday March 9, 2015 Hosea 6:6

I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings. (Hosea 6:6 NLT) 
Wow! Two such important concepts here that both speak of the heart of God and the value God places on love. First, that He values love over anything else we might do for him. How often do we take on some task for The Lord but do it begrudgingly out of a sense of duty rather than joyfully out of love for God or those we are serving? This passage shows us what God thinks about that kind of service. The second sentence shows us how deeply God desires to be in relationship with us. That is a concept that always blows me God loves us...each one personally and desires for us to be with Him. So much so that He sent Jesus  to redeem us and reconcile us to himself. Hallelujah!
Prayer for today: God, who loves us, each one, work in our hearts and minds to help us grasp and believe with all our being the depth of Your love for us. Create in us likewise such a love and desire for You. Help us to infuse our every sacrifice with love for You and love for those we serve. I ask this in the name of Him who is the embodiment of Your love, Jesus. AMEN!
Confession for today: I confess that because God values love over all else we might give Him, I will serve Him with love and I will do all that is in my power to know Him more and nurture my relationship with Him above all else. I declare this by faith in Jesus' name. AMEN!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sunday March 8, 2015 Ecclesiastes 4:9

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV)

 I love this scripture so much that I chose it for my wedding twenty some years ago. To my surprise, my pastor told me he had never used it at a wedding. As a young wide eyed bride I was so focused on the two in the passage that until I heard the message I overlooked the last line that talks about a three strand cord. Where did the three suddenly come from? The third strand in the cord, my pastor told us was God. Without God in the equation, the third strand, our marriage would be difficult at best and never as strong as God designed it to be. I still love this passage all these years later  because it speaks of the importance of being in community, not just in a marriage relationship but in our Christian walk. As an introvert, my natural tendency is to go it alone most often. But this passage points out how important it is to have others on our team in this life and especially in our Christian journey. Soul friends are so dear and when the third cord, God, is the basis for our friendship, how strong and powerful we can be!
Prayer for today: Loving God, how awesome it is to be braided together with You and others who love You. Help us Lord to work together with You to accomplish so much more than any of us can accomplish as individuals. Strengthen our fellowship with other believers by keeping Yourself at the center. I ask in the name of Jesus. AMEN!
Confession for today: I confess that I am working to include You Lord in all my relationships. I will help my friends when they fall and expect the same when I fall knowing You will bind us together and it is Your will for us to strengthen and uphold each other. I declare this by faith in Jesus. AMEN!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Saturday March 7, 2015 John 17:26 & Romans 8:26

“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. (John 17:20 NLT)
And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. (Romans 8:26 NLT)
Though these two passages are not found together in the Bible I put them together here as favorites because to me they are so complimentary. I have always loved first passage because although scripture tells us that Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us, these are his very words in prayer spoken for me (and you!) personally. I find it both comforting and overwhelming simultaneously to know Jesus offered a prayer for me during His time on earth and continues to do so even now.  The second is also a great comfort for me because there are many times when either I don't know what to pray for in a situation or just don't have the words to express or articulate the need. This passage assures me that even if I am spiritually tongue tied, the Holy Spirit will be praying for me. I have fallen back on this many times over the years. Taken together, these two verses offer me great confidence knowing that although I may be weak, I have an amazing team working to support me in the heavenly realm. Hallelujah!
Prayer for today: Father God, we love You and are so grateful that through Christ we have access to You in prayer. We give thanks that You have provided support in our weakness by the intercession of the Spirit and the Son. Help us, we pray, to intercede for others and stand in the gap when they need our prayer support. We ask in Jesus' name. AMEN!
Confession for today: I confess that though I may feel weak and uncertain in my prayers, You still call me to pray without ceasing and support me by the intercessions of the Spirit and the Son. With such support as this I approach with confidence Your throne of grace and mercy. I make this confession by faith in Jesus Christ. AMEN!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Friday March 6, 2015 Romans 8:28

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 NIV)
The road to heaven is not easy. If we focus on how hard it is it can be very discouraging but if we try hard to remember this verse and choose to focus on God's awesome power the road to heaven or difficulties in life seem easier. It's sort of like God saying yes this is hard but I got you... just hang in there and soon you will see the great promise that  in God all things are possible.  As people say: focus on the positive and not the negative. This is our way of helping God do his work through us. --Pauline Corti
Prayer for today:  Gracious God, we love You and give thanks that You can and do use all things for our good. Help us Lord to have patience and strength when life sends us difficult or challenging or even achingly painful circumstances to wait expectantly for your grace. Open our eyes to the ways the trials of our lives are redeemed by Your mercy. We ask this in Jesus' name. AMEN!

Confession for today: I confess that my God is for me no matter what I may be going through. God sees me through every difficult circumstance and is using them for my good even when I may not understand how that can possibly be. I have confident hope in God's redemption of everything I undergo. I declare this by faith in Jesus, the one who endured death on the cross and took on my sin to save me. AMEN!

Thursday March 5, 2015 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NIV)

This passage reminds me that indeed we are in a spiritual battle. It refers not to tools for building but weapons. Weapons are used only for some type of confrontation...for fighting...or self defense. Indeed, as Christians, we are in for a fight in this world, in this society which has become increasingly anti-Christian in it's focus. But this is nothing new. Jesus warned us “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV). While verse five begins with a call to use these spiritual weapons in the world demolishing arguments etc. It is the second challenge, to take each thought captive and make it obedient to Christ which offers such a path to personal growth in our Christian journey. Speaking for myself, I know that countless times each day thoughts rise up in my mind which are anything but what God would have me thinking. Some are lies of the enemy; others are products of my own sin sick soul, swirling round and round and growing as I give them my attention. How can I  be growing closer to The Lord when I allow such thoughts to take up residence within me. I can't. And on my own I am powerless to stop them. But this passage reminds us that we have divine power available to us through the Holy Spirit, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. Surely, if we access such a power we can "capture" our own thoughts and make them "obedient to Christ". I once heard a speaker who had a marvelous formula for this. Unfortunately, I'm not certain of the teacher but I will never forget the lesson: the three R's of right thinking: Recognize, Reject, Replace. 1)RECOGNIZE when you are thinking wrong thoughts. Catch yourself...the more you practice this the quicker you are able to catch yourself in wrong negative thought patterns. 2)REJECT them as lies of the enemy or ways of the world. 3) REPLACE them with words of truth from God's word. We are told to Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. (Joshua 1:8 NLT) What better way than to mobilize scripture to fight the enemy where he may have a stronghold: within our own mind?
Prayer for today: Almighty God, we love You and give You thanks that you arm us with power not of this world to fight in the spiritual battle raging within us and around us. Remind us we pray, of the power that imparts and teach us to capture each thought that is not pleasing to You and bring it to Jesus for destruction or redemption, whichever is needed. We ask in Jesus' name. AMEN!
Confession for today: I confess that God has provided me with spiritual weapons to tear down strongholds wherever they may be found. I will use these weapons when lies of the enemy rise up whether found in the world around me or within my own thoughts and I will replace wrong thinking with words of truth.  I declare this by faith in Jesus' name.AMEN!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Wednesday March 4, 2015 Isaiah 43:1-2

... the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. (Isaiah 43:1-2 NLT)

Such words of comfort for God's children! Through Christ, the God who made us ransoms us back to Himself and He gives us His promise to be with us no matter what we face. No matter how difficult the challenge, no matter how overwhelming the circumstance may seem, God Almighty who made heaven and earth and everything in them promises to be with us. Not only that, but He promises we will not drown nor will we be consumed.  And we know He keeps every promise forever. (Psalms 146:6 NLT). Hallelujah!
Prayer for today: God of power and promise, we love You and give thanks for this promise to be with us no matter what we need to overcome. Call out to us, we pray, when discouragement sets in and remind us of Your presence, Your power and Your promise. I ask in Jesus name. AMEN!
Confession for today: I confess that no matter what  I may face, I recognize that by God's power and grace I will not drown in rivers of difficulty nor be consumed by fires of oppression. God knows my name and through Christ Jesus I am His now and for eternity.  I declare this by faith in Jesus' name.AMEN!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Monday March 2, 2015 Zephaniah 3:17

The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” (‭Zephaniah‬ ‭3‬:‭17‬ NKJV)
I love this verse! It speaks to me of our Father's great, amazing  love for each one of His children. The thought that the Creator and Sustainer of the universe not only knows my name and numbers the hairs on my head AND sent Jesus to save me, but actually takes joy in me is overwhelming. We know he loves us because He sent Jesus to reconcile us to Himself but the thought that we give God joy?  If God Almighty rejoices over me with singing, how can I be troubled by any human slights? How can I possibly not feel esteemed and deeply loved? Hallelujah!
Prayer for today: Gracious God, we love You and come before you humbled by Your love for us. Lord please help us to never forget that love and to soak in it freely. By Your grace help us to live so that all we do brings You joy. We ask in Jesus' name.AMEN!
Confession for today: I confess that I am beloved of God. I will choose to live this day in a manner that is pleasing to God and gives Him reason to rejoice. I declare this by faith in Jesus' name. AMEN!