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August 31, 2009

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

Hosea 6. 1-3

“Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but He will heal us; He has injured us
but he will bind up our wounds. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will
restore us, that we may live in His presence. Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to
acknowledge Him. As surely as the sun rises, He will appear; He will come to us like the
winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.’”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

Whether it is a few feet around the corner and down the block, across the country or around the world we have all wandered away from the will of God. We can never leave the presence of God for God is everywhere His people are. But, there is a wandering of the heart, mind, body or soul and any combination of two or more that is a part of our human experience. We have wandered into the shadows of our own despair that were established by the enemy, Satan, as havens of “rest in peace” that were in fact “wallows of chaos.” But as surely as the sun rises, God will appear in those shadowy places in order to illumine our situation and enlighten our lack of understanding. He will come upon us like winter rains and chill us to the bone with the stark reality of our desperate situation. As we huddle in the cold and shiver against the truth for as long as we can, we block out the rain and turn our face away from the very presence that can change our lives for the better. But, God persists. Thank God, He persists until we are chilled throughout our body and into the very depths of who we are. He wants us to seek the warmth that comes in the spring. He sends the reminder of how futile our efforts were to comfort ourselves with the lie of the enemy who mocked God by questioning us “Surely, you do not think that God would let you die?”

Hit the pause button. Think for a moment about this question. Is it a lie? Do we really believe that God desires to punish us to death because we struggle against the winds of false doctrines and ill wills? God does not will the death of any person. God is a God of the living and not the dead. Paul declares that those who have preceded us are not truly dead but asleep waiting for the alarm clock of His Coming to rouse them from their slumber and be welcomed into the reality they thought was only a dream. How the darkness of that night brings a weary coldness to our lives because we chose to rebel against the mercy and love of God to pursue our own lack of understanding! And yet, God persists. Even after the transgression of Adam and Eve God did not condemn them to death but gave them the opportunity to live. It would not be an easy life but neither would it be an impossible life. It was, and is, a life we must all learn to accept. There is but one death in all of creation and that death is the denial of God’s sovereign presence in our lives. That death comes upon us when we know the truth and reject it anyway. That death holds a faint candle in comparison to the glory of God revealed by Jesus the Christ, His Son. Its heat is small and can be snuffed out with a whisper. But, the glory of God is great and the darkness cannot overcome its shout of victory. The darkness of the grave of the believer is but a momentary shadow that passes in the rising of “The Son.” Christ-followers may cease to partake of the breath of this world but they are filled with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who proclaimed to Hosea for the nation of Israel the very same thing the angels did to Mary at the tomb. After two days we shall be revived and on the third day we will be restored. Hosea did not know of the Christ to come but he was aware of the God who was present whose desire was that the people called by His name who called upon His name would be restored so they could live in His presence forever. How Hosea and God longed to hear those voices calling out for God with hope!

Mighty men of God there is hope yet for those who are still struggling in the world. Those who have wandered far off can still be brought near. They are not doomed nor condemned to death. God loves them through the fulfillment of His Promise. That promise was fulfilled nearly two thousand years ago and continues today. The challenge and charge for God’s mighty men of today is to keep the flame of hope and the light of the gospel burning brightly by maintaining the glory of the Lord through the words and works of faith. It will feel like a spring rain that has the warmth of new life. In a time when lives are as parched as the land upon which we live, there is a hunger and thirst for that new life. It will come. Believe it. Proclaim it. Return to the Lord and know the truth of His promise that shall never fail. Let God reign!

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For the Monday Morning Men’s Study on Hosea
* For the start of Week 2 for PK-12 students and their learning success
* For the ministries that touch those who do not yet understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and for those who
put more faith in weapons than in the power of God to enforce ideologies instead of godly
obedience
* For more rain to drought-beseiged lands; for those in New England who have borne the
brunt of two deluges already in this hurricane season
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* For the answered prayer we receive as we trust in God to provide for my family
as we seek now to transition to a place of confidence with a job, home, schooling and good
financial stewardship of our resources as we prepare to receive the fullness of this blessing
* For wisdom and humility as gifts given before I will need them throughout this week

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Water us, Father, with the reign of Your eternal love. Quench the thirsting of our souls and call us into the oasis of peace that we might know all the benefits of Your desire for our lives. May the words and works of these men in their witness of faith, hope and love. AMEN.

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August 30, 2009

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

Matthew 18. 21-22, 39

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother
when he sins against me? Up to seven times? [As the “law” required.] Jesus answered,
‘I tell you, not seven times, but seven times seven.’”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

God’s mighty men must never grow tired of this “forgiving” business our Lord calls us to practice daily. There are times when our patience may be wearing thin with someone who is hell-bent on doing us wrong. I would offer that while it may just be someone’s nature and character to be hardheaded, stiff-necked and filled with a lack of awareness of others needs being greater than their own, for the greater majority of people it is a lack of understanding which causes them to “sin against me.” In fact, it should be a lack of understanding that still motivates us to “sin against others” and seek to limit our forgiveness of others. I say “a lack of understanding” because in Christ we are a new creation. The old self who was committed consciously and unconsciously to the disruption of relationships with sinful activities has been put to death. The new self is not supposed to carry the pains of outrageous misfortunes of the past. They may continue to exist in our memories as lessons of what not to do but they only have the power to hurt that we give them. When Christ was raised from the grave He gave to us the promise of eternal life and the power of the Holy Spirit to begin living it today. That means we have the fulfillment of the promise before we actually had the opportunity to receive it; that is is working for our healing before we actually know it which means there must be many reminders of forgiveness from others until we do.

I truly believe that our “forgiving” ministry is to be much the same for God’s mighty men. It would be interesting perhaps to know what test case Peter had in mind when he approached the Master Teacher that day. It was akin to a pharisaical questioning that Jesus faced often in His ministry. But Peter never declares it although Jesus may well have known it and allowed it to be the basis of His object lesson which followed concerning debts. If that was the case then Peter may well have been the wicked servant. Regardless, it opens for us a true practical application of forgiveness. It is a state of being which must exist in us before it is offered to others. The wicked servant did not have a forgiving spirit even though he had a forgiven debt. When his debt was forgiven he did not extend that same mercy to one who was indebted to him. His reaction showed the intent of his previous actions. It was all about him. His mismanagement of finances revealed his desire to serve only himself. Jesus was calling Peter into a similar accountability about why he would limit forgiveness. Don’t we forgive so that the other person’s life is restored? Or are we only concerned with ourselves? When Jesus died on the cross, he did not die for himself. He died for us. He had already given us forgiveness of our debts when He proclaimed “Father forgive them.” He died to pay the price of forgiveness so our debt in sin was cancelled forever though we did not deserve it according to the law.

The question may be for us simply “How many times does it take for a person to learn the lesson that they are forgiven?” Do they understand the forgiveness we offer and why we can offer it? Do they experience that real forgiveness which has been given to them before they were ever indebted to us? Do they know how to live in that forgiveness once it is given? Do they know that forgiveness is not just a word but an action? Do they understand it isn’t just a token but a total life change and focus off of self and onto others? Forgiveness is something to be given just as much as it is something to be received. Once received, the debt cancelled and the power restored to the person’s life free from the burden of debt, forgiveness is to be used to assist someone else who is weighed down by their own debt. Perhaps Peter did not feel the freedom of his own forgiveness because he sought to limit the forgiveness he was giving to another. Are we troubled by something similar?

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who will lead God’s people in worship, praise and service this weekend
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and for those who
put more faith in weapons than in the power of God to enforce ideologies instead of godly
obedience
* For more rain to drought-beseiged lands; for those in New England who have borne the
brunt of two deluges already in this hurricane season
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For the Monday Morning Men’s Study

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* For the answered prayer we receive as we trust in God to provide for my family
as we seek now to transition to a place of confidence with a job, home, schooling and good
financial stewardship of our resources as we prepare to receive the fullness of this blessing
* For wisdom and humility as gifts given before I will need them in the week ahead

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Father, how we want forgiveness to be so complete in others that we will not worry about how much we need to forgive others until they learn the fullness of what You have already offered to them through Your Son Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. AMEN.

August 29, 2009

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

Psalm 28. 8

“The Lord is the strength of His people, a fortress of salvation for His anointed one(s).”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

I love to watch the Tour de France to see the strength, stamina and sheer determination of the competitors who ride their bicycles across western Europe. Up hills and mountains, down rills and valleys and across vast plains and fields ready for harvest these men pour themselves into the task of reaching Paris at the end of the race. Of course, finishing first in your particular category of expertise would be the ultimate goal but finishing at all is a tremendous accomplishment. There is another part of the Tour de France I enjoy as a by-product of the race which must thrill the tourism committees and boards along the race route. Even for those who must watch from a distance on television, one day I may be able to watch it live in person as the Lord wills, we get to see a part of history that has remained fairly intact in some instances for eight centuries? I am speaking of the castles and fortresses that were built as the vanguard and protector of what was once the frontier of civilization as people moved westward to claim and develop the land and its resources as their own.

Not everyone lived in these castles, of course, but in many cases they provided shelter from an enemy when the warning was sounded. It could be heard best from the top of a hill or set on a particular prominence along the mountainside. The sound of warning would roll across the valley echoing between the rising mountainsides filling friend and foe with its power. David wrote that God was a mighty fortress, too. He was and is a fortress of salvation for His people. He offers protection of their souls and safeguards their spirits. As they go into the world to do His work and will, He is the strength and resolve of their determination to accomplish His good work. And when the enemy attacks, the watchman of God call out and all can retreat into the security of God’s fortress of mercy and love. Many have tried to mimic God with the building of great cities, even Jerusalem. But, the efforts of man have fallen short time and time again as history has proven. We see more relics than realities. It is in God alone we trust. His fortress is His Holy Spirit and faith is the key to the city. The heart of the citadel is God alone and His commanding General is His Son. What have we to fear, mighty men of God? We have strength and safety in the presence of God. Be built into the city. Stand strong on the walls. Go into all the world with a heart for man and an ear for God. Trust in Him in all things and bring glory, everlasting glory to God our strength and our fortress who shall never fail, shall never be a ruin and a remembrance but always an everpresent reality of faith, hope and love.

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who will lead God’s people in worship, praise and service this weekend
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and for those who
put more faith in weapons than in the power of God to enforce ideologies instead of godly
obedience
* For more rain to drought-beseiged lands
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For comfort to the grieving, wounded and weary

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* For the answered prayer we receive as we trust in God to provide for my family
while we now seek how to transition this family to a place of confidence with a job, home
and schooling and good financial stewardship of our resources as we prepare to receive the
fullness of this blessing
* For a productive first week of school for faculty, staff and students

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Father, thank you for standing for us and with us in our race for life. We give you the glory by our faithfulness remaining committed to the task of love others as You have loved us. As we run the good race and fight the good fight, we thank you for going before us to show us the way, the truth and the life. Glory be to Your Name through our work today. AMEN.

August 28, 2009

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

James 3. 5b-6

“Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of
evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life
on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

Our favorite song to sing in our church youth programs when I was in high school declared “it only takes a spark to get a fire going.” Gladly it was the antithesis of the teaching of James and should remind all of God’s mighty men how vitally important and critical one single aspect of our witness can become. James, the brother of Jesus, warned Christ followers to beware of the ill use of the words spoken against others. A wrong word placed dangerously in the ears of those who are weak can explode their credibility, hope and character into pieces. Much like the nursery rhyme speaking of Humpty-Dumpty whose great fall left in pieces too many to put back together again, the ill-spoken word can do harm to others. But, James goes further than just pointing the finger at the harm it can do to those who receive them. He allows the finger to point back at the one who is speaking them. They are filled with the very fire of hell fit only for the condemned who have rejected God’s warning and instead sought their own course of life as if they could do better than God. Speaking words of dissension, ill-will, gossip and slander might be fended off by those to whom they are spoken but they will quite possibly irreparably damage the future of the speaker who shows their true heart and conviction. Consider also the drought condition many people around the world are living in. They dwell on a tinder box ready to burst into total consumption with a flash of lightning or careless use of fire. If the conditions are right the burning is complete and the destructive of life devastating.

Fortunately, we, as God’s mighty men, are called as by the psalmist and prophet, to sing a new song. Just as one poorly spoken hurtful word, intentionally or unintentionally, can do great harm to the sender and the receiver, so, too, can one strategically placed truth. We can ignite the passion for faith, hope and love with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Book of the Acts of the Apostles makes clear that after one preaching event over 5000 people gave their lives to Christ. But, many of us know how sharing the Word of Jesus Christ has turned a family member, neighbor or even an enemy around. It brings a blessing into their lives and increases the blessing in our own. We are encouraged by the surging power of the Holy Spirit which is unleashed by our desire to do others good. It only takes a spark of kindness to get the flames of peace burning as a beacon of hope in the darkness of doubt and fear. “That’s how”, as the song says, “it is with God’s love once you’ve experienced it. You want to pass it on.” Which fire do you want to consume you? Would you rather the fire of hell and condemnation or the fire of faith which purifies and strengthens?

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who will lead God’s people in worship, praise and service this weekend
* For the safe and productive conclusion of the first week of school
* For soothing of the grief experienced by many upon the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and for those who
put more faith in weapons than in the power of God to enforce ideologies instead of godly
obedience
* For more rain to drought-beseiged lands
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For a colleague who is undergoing chemotherapy, whose mother passed away two days ago
and whose father had to shunts replaced in his heart

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* For the answered prayer we receive as we trust in God to provide for my family
while we now seek how to transition this family to a place of confidence with a job, home
and schooling and good financial stewardship of our resources as we prepare to receive the
fullness of this blessing
* For the hint of rain in some places and a downpour in others
* For safe commuting

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Father, may the words of our mouths, our hearts, our minds and our spirit bring faith, hope and love to others and ignite their passion for Jesus the Christ who has saved us from our sins and makes us good again in the flames of His Holy Spirit. AMEN.

August 27, 2009

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

1 Timothy 6. 12

“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when
you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

Being good is not easy. Since the days of transgression in the Garden of Eden, God’s people have lived with the stigma and burden of sin. We are born into a sinful world. “We aren’t in Paradise any more, Toto.” Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just click our heels and wish ourselves back into the perfect domain of God’s unstained world? Wouldn’t it be great to settle for that hot air balloon and ride the waves of the sky back to the place where we first came from? But, that isn’t possible yet. Instead, we are called to work the good life with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. That good life is fulfilling God’s “Plan B” which was given to Adam and his descendents. Even Jesus, our Christ, was committed to doing the good works of God during His life on earth. It is the lot of God’s mighty men. It isn’t easy. It isn’t impossible. It is, as Paul wrote to Timothy, a fight of life and death. We are not fighting for our lives. Jesus died for our sins that we might do greater works than even He did. But, we fight a battle of wills to do what is right and good. It takes faith in God, in Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit and in ourselves. The temptation continues to exist as it did in the Garden that there is an easy out to life. The temptation lures us that we will not face death by taking shortcuts. It is a lie purposed by many who desire the company of fellow failures to support their own. It is easier for them to remain a failure than to do the good work and live.

What makes the good work not so impossible? Paul reminds Timothy that he has taken hold of the promise of eternal life which he confessed was his through Jesus Christ in the presence of many witnesses. There is safety in numbers! There is a good reason why we, as God’s mighty men, need to go to Church and worship with other Christ-followers! There is a good reason why we, as God’s mighty men, need to attend retreats, Bible studies and fellowship opportunities with other Christ-followers. Yes, we do not need to attend all of those activities to be saved. The work for salvation has already been completed. Now it is time to complete the works of salvation. We cannot do it alone. Learn from the Garden failure where singularity is what fostered the deception and empowered the defeat. Adam felt the burden of aloneness. Eve was left to her own device. It is in the cover of “on your own” that makes the work more difficult if not downright impossible. It is for this reason that Jesus taught His disciples about being yoked with Him to share the burden. Having the company of others allows for greater successes and a more complete work. Jesus did not leave His disciples nor us alone. He showed us that God was with us. He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in our midst to continue the learning process so that we would make the good decision to fight the good fight and complete the good work left to us by Christ. That work? Go into all the world and make disciples. It is an action word and work which brings the good of God to the world.

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For the safe and productive beginning of school as this week continues
* For wisdom to complete the tasks shared with us that God’s will be known and done
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and for those who
put more faith in weapons than in the power of God to enforce ideologies instead of godly
obedience
* For more rain to drought-beseiged lands
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* For the answered prayer we receive as we trust in God to provide for my family
while we now seek how to transition my family to a place of confidence with a job, home
and schooling and good financial stewardship of our resources as we prepare to receive the
fullness of this blessing
* For good results following my mother-in-law’s surgery
* For the hint of rain in some places and a downpour in others
* For safe commuting

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Thank You, Father, for not leaving us alone but sending us Your Son who has shown us that hard work is good work and has a good reward. Empower these mighty men in their pursuit of the good fight of faith with the company of others. AMEN.

August 26, 2009

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

Matthew 5. 43-48

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love
your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in
heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and
the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax
collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than
others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

Good is what we can be because of right thinking; what we can do because of right attitudes; and what we can receive because of right obedience. When God consecrated creation with the pronouncement “It is good,” He was pointing out to those who were to receive the revelation of creation that there was a unique and pre-determined purpose for it being made. It took God less than twenty-four hours to see that what He had made was just and He intended. Another way of putting it is that “God’s creation was perfect because God perfectly created it.”

It should not surprise us then that God’s Son taught that perfection was not beyond our grasp. Jesus operated with high expectations and taught with high expectations. After all, He was going to put His life on the line for our forgiveness and eternal life. He was holding himself to the highest accountability in obedience and love. To promote anything less for those He loved and called to live in love would sell us and Him short. I have taught before that one way to achieve that kind of perfection is to be a truly forgiving of one another as God has forgiven us. It is through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross that we have ultimate and complete forgiveness and entry into the Kingdom of Heaven. Our sins do not exist because they are washed from the pages of the Book of our Lives by the blood of the Lamb. No sins can intimate no wrongs and so we appear perfect.

But, that perfection comes in action not just in words. We can say things easily but when we “walk the talk” and “talk the walk” we show that we are doing the hard thing of faith. This is what Jesus did. He was even confronted with his teaching on forgiveness and healing and offered both in response to His questioners. So, it makes sense that Jesus is teaching God’s mighty men that they must not only say “they love as God loves” but they must do it. How do we do it? We show mercy, forgiveness, charity and kindness to those who do not profess a love relationship with us. We are commanded to not give up loving those who challenge our ability to love others as we love ourselves. We cannot remove ourselves from a fellowship relationship with those who cause us to consider feelings that lead us away from loving as God loves us. Our sins declare an abandonment and hatred of God, even ourselves. To deny love to others is to deny God’s love for ourselves. Can there be any greater self-hate than this? It is the furthest we can travel from perfection. It is to be a road untraveled, at least less travelled as mighty men of God.

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For the safe and productive beginning of school as this week continues
* For trinitarian peace: Peace with God that comes in trusting His forgiveness; Peace with
Christ in trusting His teaching; Peace with the Holy Spirit that comes in surrendering our
understanding of truth to the revelation of divine truth
* For wisdom to complete the tasks shared with us that God’s will be known and done
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and for those who
put more faith in weapons than in the power of God to enforce ideologies instead of godly
obedience
* For more rain to drought-beseiged lands
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* For the answered prayer we receive as we trust in God to provide for my family
while we now seek how to transition my family to a place of confidence with a job, home
and schooling and good financial stewardship of our resources as we prepare to receive the
fullness of this blessing
* For the good report of a co-worker whose son faced a potentially disastrous diagnosis
* For same commuting

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Father, we have sinned. We know we are forgiven because we believe that Your Son is our Savior. We commit ourselves to being more than word-proclaimers today. Today, we will be Christ-followers and love those who hate us and act unkindly to us as much as we will love those who love us and act charitably in our favor. May Your favor be perfected in us as our words of belief and our acts of faith unite to bring glory and honor to Your Name. AMEN.

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August 25, 2009

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

Jeremiah 5. 1

“Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her
squares. If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive
this city.”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

Remember the Maxwell House coffee slogan, “Good to the last drop”? The hope of every mighty man of God should be something similar to that in their lives. No, I do not mean they should be caffeine laden. They should be, however, like Christ, who was good to the very last drop of blood He shed for the truth about God’s love. There are times when we tend to live with the consolation of just the opposite, however. We are comforted by saying “well, there is good in there somewhere.” That is a statement of encouraging grace. It is a statement of hope. It is a beginning, however, and not an end.

When God told Jeremiah to search throughout Jerusalem and find one good man, they both knew it was going to be a tall order. It was as though Jerusalem had lowered herself to the order of Sodom and Gomorrah where only Lot and his family were they only good ones left living in those communities. Yet, God did not spare those communities from His wrath. Perhaps it was because they were so corrupt they could not recognize God when His angels were standing in the midst of them. Perhaps it was when Lot and his family left so that there were no more God-fearers left whose protection was a shield of hope. Regardless, it seems that the absence of goodness because the vacuum into which destruction and evil meet their ultimate consequence.

Jerusalem would end up being destroyed as well. It was destroyed with the forces of a mighty army and not the conflagration of God’s wrath. How many times must Jerusalem meet this fate? When will she learn of the need to lean wholly on God’s goodness and not on the diminishing consolation of “there must be some good left.” God is a protector of the good. Even to the last drop of Christ’s blood shed for us there was goodness and mercy. But, we are not to live with just a drop of blood. God’s mighty men should be good to the last drop as they are anointed with the fullness of God’s grace. Their goal is to be whole in themselves with God, with one another and God, with their families and friends and God. But, it is impossible to be wholly good without God.

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For the safe and productive beginning of school as this week continues
* For the forgiveness that we need for the hurts we have done when we have not trusted God
fully and leaned on our own understandings
* For wisdom to complete the tasks shared with us that God’s will be known and done
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and for those who
put more faith in weapons than in the power of God to enforce ideologies instead of godly
obedience
* For more rain to drought-beseiged lands
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For healing in upcoming surgery for Betty; for safe passage for her sister in California; for
strengthening and recuperation for Tom and Mr. Siegel

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* For the answered prayer we receive as we trust in God to provide for my family
while we now seek how to transition my family to a place of confidence with a job, home
and schooling and good financial stewardship of our resources as we prepare to receive the
fullness of this blessing
* For the burden of our hearts which signify we still have a chance to be fully good with God
and one another

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Father, make these fully good today through the healing, cleansing and empowering of Your Holy Spirit. Thank you for giving our world a chance as the good You have brought out in us through Christ our Lord becomes known in our words of humility and our acts of mercy. AMEN.

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August 24, 2009

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

Mark 7. 14-15

“Again Jesus called the crowd to Him and said, ‘Listen to me, everyone, and understand this.
Nothing outside a man can make Him unclean by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out
of a man that makes him unclean!’”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

It is so easy to blame others for the sad state of affairs we might find ourselves in. In the days of Jesus there was a great judgmental philosophy that centered around food and cleanliness regulations. We have all heard “Cleanliness is next to godliness” and many would espouse that dictum as ultimate truth. I believe that if we care about our environments, especially as stewards of God’s creation, we would keep them as sparkling as possible. However, I know some fastidious cleaners who are just neat freaks and it has nothing to do with righteousness. Food regulations were important in the day of Jesus because refrigeration was non-existent and preservatives were left to the use of salt. You certainly would not want to consume tainted food and bring disease into your bodies. But, HIS WORD for Today had nothing actually to do with these kinds of rules and regulations regardless of how necessary they were.

Instead, Jesus was speaking to the heart of the matter. As God’s mighty men, we are called to live in the world. In the day of Jesus, the Qumran community would have been an example of a religious sect of Judaism that separated itself from the world. It kept the outside world at a distance remaining in the land beyond the Jordan. Jesus may well have spent time in this community along with His cousin John, the Baptizer. It was certainly a place of devout men and the pursuit of righteousness. But, this was not the mission of Jesus. Instead, while seeking a time of growth in body, mind and spirit, Jesus was concerned about how to help those who did not have that opportunity to live apart from the influences of the world. Jesus came into the world not to condemn it but to show that one could live in the world and not be unduly influenced by it.

As God’s mighty men we are surrounded by temptations and things of the world that could lead to a life of ruin if allowed to be given the reins of our lives. Being in the company of these influences was not advisable especially for those whose will was weak. But, Jesus knew these were the very environments in which God’s Word of salvation was needed. He came to release all captives of sin from their imprisonment. He wasn’t serving just those inside the walls of Jerusalem nor just to bring validating hope to those who still trusted in God. He came to serve all of God’s people who were in need. Jesus walked in the presence of sin and left the footprints of faith, hope and love. He set the standard of righteousness by showing that we did not have to be the by-products of our environment. Eating with sinners did not make one a sinner. Eating certainly wasn’t a sin. Rather it provided the opportunity to show sinners in the world that God wanted to be in the presence in order to bring them into His presence. But, if the righteous gave up their righteousness and exchanged it for sinful living that served the needs of self, then it was wrong. In fact, that is what happened with Satan and remains so to this day.

So, God’s mighty men will always be known by the by-products of their witness. Their practice of Immanuel can and will change the world and will make them less susceptible to being changed by the world.

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For the safe and productive beginning of school
* For the challenge of walking by faith among those who have lost the vision of righteousness
and the hope of righteousness in their lives
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and for those who
put more faith in weapons than in the power of God to enforce ideologies instead of godly
obedience
* For more rain to drought-beseiged lands
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For healing in upcoming surgery for Betty; for safe passage for her sister in California; for
strengthening and recuperation for Tom and Mr. Siegel

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* For the answered prayer we receive as we trust in God to provide for my family
while we now seek how to transition my family to a place of confidence with a job, home
and schooling and good financial stewardship of our resources as we prepare to receive the
fullness of this blessing
* First day of school will finally be past

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Lord, how wonderful it is to know Your Name and to call on You any time we need. We come to You today not to ask only for Your blessing but to say thank you for All You have done and continue to do for us, in us and through us so that Your Name will be known by those who have no name to call their own. AMEN.

August 23, 2009

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

Psalm 29. 1-2

“Ascribe to the Lord, O mighty one, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord
the glory due His Name and worship the Lord in the splendor of His Holiness!”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

Wow! We are addressed up close and personal today. No, we were not called out by name but by the very definition of our character as those who are in relationship with God as Christ-followers. It is usually by a nickname or insider word that garners our attention. We know someone is aware of us not when they call us by our proper and given name unless we are children and it is a parent speaking to us. How I hated to hear “that” when I was growing up. I knew that 99.99 % of the time if my parents used my full name, I was in trouble. Even now, I still have flashbacks of reactions when someone does so now. But, when I am addressed up close and personal it is usually by the simplified and custom-fit name that I have been given or somehow earned. Today, the psalmist speaks to us as Christ-followers. He commands us, the King of Israel speaks to us before we were born, before we had decided to be Christ-followers and masculine emissaries of the gospel and calls our attention to our duty today. He sang confidently as a General giving orders to his troops and addresses us, “O mighty ones!”

Just as David commissioned those of us in the Lord’s army of faith, hope and love to “give God His due” [Ascribe to the Lord], he is ascribing to us a knowledge and wisdom that should become forever engrained in our hearts, mind and soul. It is the power of God that gives us the might and strength to live in these days as disciples of Christ, joint heirs of the Kingdom of God and mighty men of the True Faith. David is giving us our due because we are those who have accepted the reality of getting “up close and personal” with God. God knows us by name. He knows our formal, given name which some ascribe as our Christian name. He knows our faith name as those who are called by the One whose name is above all names. He knows our spirit name as we entered into His presence with humility proclaiming our unworthiness in sin, with confidence declaring our desire to make Jesus Christ our Lord through repentance and with love befitting a Father-son relationship that is eternal. In the end, the mighty ones of God, who give God His due will receive all that is due them because God has received the fullest measure of what He has given to those He loves and calls by Name.

The story is told of a fatherless boy whom everyone had a name for but none of them kind or proper. He wandered by the community church one Sunday and heard the preacher talking about a father’s love. The boy stepped into the back of the church so as not to be seen but to hear the words more clearly. He did so for several Sundays staying longer each time but leaving just before the end of the service so as not to get caught. But, the preacher saw him each time. One Sunday he stopped short in his sermon and closed the service before the boy had a chance to leave. As he prayed the benediction, he walked to the back and stood next to the boy. When he prayed “Amen,” all eyes were looking at the preacher including the boy’s. The congregation gasped to see the boy standing there dirty and shoeless. Whispers began to swell. But, the preacher simply reached out his hand and said to the boy, “I know your name and I know the name of your father.” All eyes looked again at the preacher as he said, “Your Father’s Name is God and He calls you Son, friend and Beloved.” The little boy grabbed the preacher around the waste and cried. He picked up the boy and carried him to the front of the church will all eyes on him. “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness. Welcome this son of God into your hearts for his name is Blessed! What name are you known by? What name did he call you before you found Your Father and learned your true name? As He was willing to do for You He is will to do for everyone.”

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who will be leading God’s people in worship, service and praise this weekend
* For the safe and productive beginning of school (remember also the Prayer Service for schools
on 8/23 at ACF)
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and for those who
put more faith in weapons than in the power of God to enforce ideologies instead of godly
obedience; hundreds more people are being taken to trial because of the post-election riot and
the growing number of suicide bombings that threaten the safety of soldiers and civilians
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For healing in upcoming surgery for Betty; for safe passage for her sister in California; for
strengthening and recuperation for Tom and Mr. Siegel

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* For the answered prayer we receive as we trust in God to provide for my family
while we now seek how to transition my family to a place of confidence with a job, home
and schooling and good financial stewardship of our resources as we prepare to receive the
fullness of this blessing
* To visit with my dad on his birthday and the sharing of the gifts of our lives with one another

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Lord, how wonderful it is to know Your Name and to call on You any time we need. We come to You today not to ask only for Your blessing but to say thank you for All You have done and continue to do for us, in us and through us so that Your Name will be known by those who have no name to call their own. AMEN.

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August 21, 2009

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

Isaiah 6. 8

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?
And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

There is an adage of wisdom which parents pass on to their children that isn’t often heeded when they are children and unfortunately isn’t practiced much as adults. It is still good information which says “Speak only when spoken to.” How often have we interjected, sometimes without permission, whatever knowledge or wisdom we think will be useful in a given situation or conversation? How many times has an argument ensued or worse no words spoken at all after that because of misunderstandings or hurt feelings? It doesn’t mean we do not have something important, vital or beneficial to say. But, the timing, the tone, the intention may not be what is called for at the moment and whatever useful knowledge or wisdom which was present was lost.

Following up on those famous verses in Ecclesiastes which declare there is a season for everything under heaven, I wish the Preacher would have added, “There is a time to speak and there is a time to listen.” We are all called to speak the Word of God. The Apostle Paul taught “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by preaching/teaching the Word of God.” It is to be more than just a witness of good deeds and mighty works that we use to speak God’s Will into the lives of others, including ourselves. We must speak to God first, however, before we should speak to others. I suppose this would be another one of those trainings Paul urged Timothy to pursue in the desire for godliness.

How I remember being told “Engage your brain before opening your mouth.” I am just as guilty as other of speaking before thinking. It is as if the desire to think first about what we want to say, ought to say and then say with confidence and humility puts a brake on our tongue. I might tend to see it as you cannot, as a Christ-follower, say two things at once. If you are speaking to God first, you cannot speak to others. God can certainly speak through His mighty men but it is to be His Words that pass through our lips and not our own. It is for this reason that Isaiah’s lips were healed with burning coals from the altar fire of God. There was a lot he wanted to say to the people about themselves and God but his own words would only betray his efforts because they would not portray God’s Will. Thanks, Isaiah, for going to God first so that we might hear what He has to say to us and through us for His glory and the welfare of others!

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who will be leading God’s people in worship, service and praise this weekend
* Rain in its perfect timing; obedience always
* For school leaders who now must evaluate their courses of action as to how best educate the
students of Texas Schools in light of the new school ratings as teachers, administrators and
support staff report for training and preparation to be instructional leaders in and out of the
classroom (remember also the Prayer Service for schools on 8/23 at ACF)
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and for those who
put more faith in weapons than in the power of God to enforce ideologies instead of godly
obedience; hundreds more people are being taken to trial because of the post-election riot and
the growing number of suicide bombings that threaten the safety of soldiers and civilians
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For safety and health to my vehicle as I begin my commute to Waco to fulfill the
responsibilities of my new work assignment; for wisdom in my hearing, listening and speaking
* For healing and new life for those of our family and friends struggling with the death and
dying processes of life in this world

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* For the answered prayer we receive as we trust in God to provide for my family
while we now seek how to transition my family to a place of confidence with a job, home
and schooling and good financial stewardship of our resources as we prepare to receive the
fullness of this blessing
.

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Thank you, Father, for speaking to us and through us. We ask for the presence of the Holy Spirit to purge our words and desire to speak them for our agenda and let it be You who speaks in a mighty way the message we and others need to heed in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

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