The Power of Prayer – Day 7

Sometimes we pray for years and years and things just seem to get worse. We parents and grandparents long for our loved ones to love the Lord and to live for Him. Mistake after mistake leads to more sorrow. We become discouraged and feel like no longer praying for them, since things are only getting worse.
 
I read this short message recently in the Daily Bread which really encouraged me. Maybe you are in the same boat and this will help you too.
 
The Power of Prayer
“One day, when I was deeply concerned about the welfare of one close to me, I found encouragement in part of the Old Testament story of Samuel, a wise leader of the Israelites. As I read how Samuel interceded for God’s people as they faced trouble, I strengthened my resolve to pray for the one I loved.
 
When we ache over challenges facing those we love, and fear the situation won’t change, we may be tempted to believe that the Lord will not act. But we should never underestimate the power of prayer, for our loving God hears our pleas. We don’t now how He will move in response to our petitions, but we know that as our Father He longs for us to embrace His love and to trust in His faithfulness. Do you have someone you can pray for today?
 
Father God, the way You hear and answer my prayers amazes me. Strengthen my faith, that I will always believe in Your goodness and love.”
 
From a mother and grandmother who loves Jesus, my children, and grandchildren.
 
-Delores Kessler

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We Need Jesus – Day 6

1 John 2:15 – “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but of the world.”
 
Eric and I work in a large manufacturing and distributing plant in York County. We have been co-workers for over two years, and on many days work side-by-side. Eric started working here as a temp while he was in a recovery house in the city. Eric had an addiction problem with alcohol and drugs. I believe he had even gotten into some big trouble with the law before, and he couldn’t get his license back for two years. But he worked really hard at any job assigned to him, so the company finally hired him permanently.
 
Eric would start to go down hill when new people showed up at the recovery house. He was admitted to rehab twice last year. Before he slipped back into his dark stages (you could even begin to see the change in him), he’d say things like, “I can drink just a couple drinks without wanting more.” What a lie the devil tell us in our heads!
 
Eric and I had spoken about the best recovery program there is (a.k.a. Jesus) and he said he believed. He really started to get himself together and was looking for a place to live outside the recovery house.
 
Unfortunately, his pride and his thinking that he could have just one more drink and handle it overtook him. My friend and co-worker Eric died on January 22, 2018. He will be missed.
 
We can’t do it by ourselves. We need our Lord and Savior to shine His light on the path ahead, and carry us through to a brighter day!
 
-Laurie Kuhn

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Holiness – Day 5

What does it mean to live a life of “Holiness”?
 
In 1 Peter 1:13-16, Peter writes to believers saying, “Therefore prepare your minds for action, keep sober in sprit, and fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in your behavior, because it is written, ‘You shall be Holy, for I am Holy.’” Peter is quoting from Leviticus 11:44 and 19:2.
 
What does it mean that God is Holy?
 
Passages like 1 Samuel 2:2 and Isaiah 6:3 are just two of many examples of passages about God’s Holiness. Another way to say it is Absolute Perfection. God is unlike any other (Hosea 11:9) and His holiness is the essence of the “otherness”. He is high above any other, and no one can compare to Him (Psalm 40:5). His very being is complete, absent of even a trace of sin (James 1:13 and Hebrews 6:18).
His love is Holy love, His mercy is a Holy mercy, and even His anger and wrath are Holy anger and Holy wrath. These concepts are difficult for humans to grasp; just as God is difficult for us to understand in His entirety.
 
What does it mean for us to be Holy?
 
When God told Israel to be Holy in Leviticus chapters 11 and 19, He was instructing them to be distinct from the other nations and God has set them apart from other people. They are His special people, and they were given standards that God wanted to live by so the world would know they belong to Him.
 
When Peter repeats the Lord’s words in 1 Peter 1:16, he is talking specifically to believers to be “set apart”. As believers we need to be “set apart” from the world. We need to be living by God’s standards, not the worlds. God isn’t calling us to be perfect, but to be distant from the world.
 
Finally, how can we become Holy?
 
Holiness only results from a right relationship with God by believing in Jesus Christ as our Savior. If we have not placed our faith in God’s son alone to save us from our sins, then our pursuit of Holiness is in vain. So we must first make sure we are born again believers (John 3:5-7). If we truly are believers, then we recognize that our position in Christ automatically set us apart from the world (1 Peter 2:9).
 
After all, we have a relationship with THE living God! Then we must daily live a “set apart” life, not trying to blend in with the world, but instead living according to God’s Word.
 
Prayer: Preciously Heavenly Father, please help me every day to be “set apart” from the world and not to conform to tis way. Amen.
 
-Terry Hess

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Scripture Reading – Day 4

Matthew 3:1-17 (NIV)
 
John the Baptist Prepares the Way
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
 
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”
 
John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
 
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
 
“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
 
The Baptism of Jesus
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John.But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
 
Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
 
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

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Apps – Day 3

Two things come to my mind when I think of the word APPS. First is the tasty food (usually fried) that comes before you main course you ordered at a restaurant; an appetizer. The second is the little square icon that opens up a program on your phone or other electronic device; an application. As much as I love to eat the former, I want to talk about the later.
 
Our applications have started to rule our lives. At least for those of us who have smart phones, we kind of live our lives by those devices and the apps that we choose to take up the limited space on them. These phones get filled with apps for all sorts of things. Apps to keep in contact with others, apps to share photos, apps to play games, check the weather, get directions, check the latest scores, watch a show, keep organized, watch what we eat, track our exercise, shop online, pay for food, and many other things. There is an app that is an entire store just for apps for your phone. Currently on my phone I have 86 apps. Some of which I use and others I do not.
 
Did you notice something missing from list of apps up above? Anything that would directly help in my walk with Christ? Some of those apps could be helpful tools, but in reality are not life-giving in the least. One other app on my phone is my YouVersion Bible App. It is awesome that we live in a time in history where we can literally carry the Bible around with us in something as small as our phones are. The problem is that like with the Bibles on our shelves, does it get used?
 
This is a self-confession as much as it is a challenge to you the reader. My Bible, whether digital or physical, does not always get the time used it deserves. We are constantly looking for the next thing to help get our lives on track. The next program, the next big idea, the next app that will solve all of our problems, but in reality we have had access to the source of transformation for a long time and have rarely used it to its potential.
 
As we go through this season of lent and reflect on the life of Christ and what He did for us, are we truly getting into the one app that could help us learn even more about the one we call Savior? Whether you are using the Bible app on your phone or you pull the Bible off the shelf, we need to make time with scripture a priority.
 
What does the Bible have to say about itself?
 
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
 
The Bible comes from the mouth of God. That alone should make us think. So…what APP are you opening? It is never too late to make a change.
 
-Pastor Joshua Trojak

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Favorite Teachers – Day 2

“. . . everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” Luke 6:40b
 
Who was your favorite teacher? What do you remember about that person? If not a teacher per se, think of someone who taught you life’s most important lessons. I’ve listened to a number of people describe their most influential instructor over the years, and most share similar traits.
 
Favorite teachers are often those who pushed us to work hard. They challenged, corrected, and stretched us. Instructors’ standards of excellence resulted in what many of us would admit, that because of that special teacher, we accomplished “more than I thought possible”. They expressed confidence in our ability that called out a deeper commitment and stronger response than we could have mustered on our own. Learning went beyond the textbook to discovering more about ourselves and life. We will never forget them – those who believed in us.
 
As the following days lead to Good Friday and Easter, my thoughts focus on a favorite Teacher available to each of us. Sure, He instructed his twelve disciples with the textbook of Old Testament scripture, but we see Him doing much more. As you spend time with these familiar events from the Gospels, watch Jesus’ interaction with His followers. He challenges their assumptions about their Heavenly Father and the Kingdom of God He is establishing. He expresses confidence that as they trust, their future will hold “abundantly more” than could be imagined. He corrects their reliance on human strength, to stretch their belief in God’s power.
 
For their part, the disciples committed their daily lives to following this Teacher. They lived with His schedules, accommodations, meal plans, and travel arrangements. Their choice to remain with Jesus expressed the decision of the rabbinical students of the day, “to desire to be what the Rabbi is”.
 
Jesus’ offer is extended to us as well. Will you respond to His invitation? He calls. Will we seek forgiveness and be free? Like a favorite teacher, He challenges and corrects. To seek Him is to approach One who knows us completely, yet still believes in us. He is confident that as we trust, He will answer with abundantly more than we thought possible.
 
Like most favorite teachers, He has a schedule for the day posted for every student. Will you submit your list of plans and accept His schedule? It is a daily choice, but, once made, it will pull from you a deeper commitment and stronger response than you imagined. There is hard work and great fulfillment in His schedule. Who will set the order of your days this year as Easter draws near?
 
-Pastor Todd Witmer

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