Prayer

Redeeming the Time – Making the Most of the Moment

In Ephesians, we are exhorted to buy back the time, or as the Holman Christian Standard Bible puts it: “making the most of the time, since the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16) http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians%205:15-16&version=NKJV;CEV;HCSB;MSG;NIV

Life is not to be wasted: no frittering away time with cheap sins and silly chatter. Get to the Good News.

This need not be boring. Is God boring? Is God bored? God is interested in your life and thinks about your life all the time. Are you boring? God is constantly supervising a universe that could easily implode were it not for the fact that He sustains the constants and restrains evil.

God is active is redeeming people today. Are you?

Are you redeemed? Are you out of the slave market, or are you always looking for another dollar and another way to serve yourself? Are you confused by all the options that the modern world offers you? OR … Are you free to serve the Living God?

Jesus is calling sinners to repentance. Are you calling sinners to repentance? There are two options, sin or repent and call sinners to repentance. If you think there is such a thing as holy selfishness, you are wrong. If you want to draw near the Lord, labor to share His Name with others. It is not a heavy load.

Jesus is the root of all joy. So when you share Jesus, you are sharing joy. If someone rejects joy by rejecting Jesus, you can keep your joy because you are being honored by suffering the same rejection that they gave to the prophets. If your message of joy in Jesus is received, you have the joy of sharing the Love of your life with another and growing the family of God.

If you receive Jesus as your joy, all of heaven rejoices with you and you will probably want to share Jesus with others.

Are you happy? Are you joyful? Jesus likes it when you look to Him and when your eyes meet His in the secret place, He will smile at you. The smile of King Jesus will give you LIFE!! Oh, friend, don’t look to your own resources. Look to Jesus. Don’t waste your life on lesser things. Let every little detail of your life serve to glorify God.

If you are a carpenter, build up the Kingdom. If you are a plumber, drain away the old ways. If you are a doctor, bring healing. If you are a government employee, admininister justice with mercy. If you are a missionary, go in the power of the Lord and help others find peace with God.

You say, Oh, but you don’t know how much I have to do each day!

Let God help you through the day and you will find your load lighter.

You say, Oh, but you don’t know how much I have sinned and how far I am from God’s mercy!

Did you know that you cannot escape God’s mercy in this life. Seek Him while He may be found. Cry out for His help! He will come to you in a moment.

Do you not understand?

Pray for wisdom.

Are you sick?

Pray for healing.

DO NOT GIVE UP.

Jesus loves you.

Every moment, focus on the work God is calling you to do. In those slow times, pray for others or simply thank Jesus that you have found rest for your soul.

My heart is happy because I got to talk to someone about Jesus today. This is my mission in life: to talk to people about Jesus and to listen to God’s heart about those I see. He loves people. So I usually have something to talk to Him about. I must confess, sometimes, I find it hard to be quiet, so I will go do that now: be still and know that He is God. He will be exalted among the nations. He will be exalted in the earth.

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Prayers for Henry Beaudine

Written June 15, 2013
“I was not there today;
But, God, give grace that’s gain.
His valve should have no hole
so that his heart is full.
That wounds would heal and mend;
His blood should flow again.
That pains would go. Amen.”

Post Script:
June 25, 2013
I received a report last night that my nephew is eating much better. He may eventually catch up with his weight. God is clearly at work. All praise to His name.

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Angela’s Aspirations

“God, steal the nails of rust within my heart.”

I wonder why God saves and heals
… perhaps because He works our weal.
I wonder why faith flounders, fails
… perhaps my flesh is weak and ails.
But when my heart’s aflame with trust
Then God does what He said He must:
The Lord comes near, reveals …
Christ frees us from our jails,
and lifts us from prayer’s hush.
I still my hurt
and wounded heart
in Him.

Psalm 46:10a

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Lost & Found: Lessons Learned from a Couple of Gloves

From WikiMedia.

From the Lost & Found

The other day, I visited some saints and shared the good news with some folks who were alienated from the message of Jesus. When I was with the Muslims, I spoke passionately, as did my friend, about the love of God in calling us to obey the truth. However, I myself was missing something, unbeknownst to me. I went to the next place and shared some more. But then as we were getting ready to leave, I realized that I did not have my gloves. I went back and looked, to no avail. I had an appointment to keep, so I had to leave. We prayed and I sang a little song, “I’m a loser, God’s a finder, I’m so glad He found me!”

After singing the second verse, my friend suggested we go to a different locale. So, with his wife in the car, off we went. We reached the place where I had been earlier, and there they were. My friend found the gloves in the very place where we had deduced I must have left them.

So what are some lessons?

You will remember the parable of the lost coin that was found by the married woman. It was the equivalent of a gem in a wedding ring. Here is the passage from Luke 15:8-10, “What woman who has 10 silver coins, if she loses one, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she finds it, she calls her women friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found the silver coin I lost!’ I tell you, in the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who repents.” (HCSB)

A. Finding requires a thorough search, so don’t give up when you don’t find the lost on the first try.

B. Cleaning house and sorting through what you have can often reveal the lost. We had to sort through the car and retrace our path, so too, you may have to clean house spiritually to find the lost.

C. It probably required consultation with neighbors to find that coin just as more than one person worked to find those gloves. While God is the Ultimate Finder, when we are looking as the church for the lost, it often requires a host of neighbors to find what we are looking for.

D. Rarely do you find lost things in the first place you look. Don’t get stuck in a rut: be creative, try looking in new places and with new graces. Usually we get so used to routines that we lose our way in the mundane. God reveals the lost when we step out of the routine and look intensely & deeply.

E. The search is worth it. My friend and his wife at one time suggested we just buy new gloves, but then they offered to take me to get the gloves in the last possible place. It was worth it. Less overall cost. It costs less to find the lost than to start all over again. Take the time to look. Looking for the lost is worth it. Finding the lost saves more than what was lost, it saves precious resources and brings peace.

F. When you find, celebrate as a group! They don’t call them search parties for nothing. It should be fun to find! Discovering the resources of giftedness and godliness yet to be revealed to and in the lost is worth going to tell them and telling them again until they come to their senses.

Incidentally, the place where we had the most fun sharing about Jesus was a clothing store. We were able to share about the Lost Son and how he risked everything to be restored. My friend rehearsed the story of redemption with passion. It engaged all of us to engage all of them in a search for the truth. They even received an Arabic-English Bible. God was at work.

Ultimately, we must remember and honor the Lord who reveals the lost and reveals Himself to the lost. He searches them out. He searches their hearts. He finds the treasure planted in the world. He gathers in every grain for His barns.

The Lord Jesus spares no expense to find the lost.

Can we do any less?

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Will Brunei vote for Jesus with their feet?

Brunei-PalaceGateDecember 1, 2012

Recently in Brunei, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah mandated the closing of all businesses on Fridays during prayers and urged young people not to intermingle the sexes, but to seek God. While it is a noble calling to seek God, doing so while under compulsion is usually met with a degree of dissatisfaction: people object. This is why there is teenage rebellion by some. Brunei is no different. The leader is trying to compel the citizens to follow the Creator and trying to rectify the waywardness of his earlier years by stricter compliance now, but he has forgotten that a life lived in the presence of God is better than trying to take refuge in the Law. Getting people to know God via the Law, did not work under Israelite kings, and it has not worked in any nation since. It just keeps people out of trouble, and the Law is good.

People have reportedly been voting with their feet and staying away from the Mosque on during Jumaa prayers. Some have said that Bruneians vote with their feet, though they are very respectful and would not fathom protesting their leader. I would not recommend such an action since the Bible clearly says, “Do not curse God or the king.” But how wonderful it would be if the saints would, during this holiday season, vote with their feet and carry the good news of Christ’s birth to the people around them. This would make their feet truly beautiful!!

As I was meditating on this last evening, I had a glimpse of the Crown Prince voting with his feet and establishing the future direction of his nation by walking from the palace to a Christian chapel. If I may be so bold as to say it plainly, the Sultan’s family has the opportunity to follow the example of Zerubbabel and build up the house of God, which is the church of living God, the pillar and foundation of the Truth (1 Timothy 3:15). For the Sultan to truly find mercy, he must reconcile with the body of Christ. Now, I say that as a foreigner who does not have to live under the Sultan’s rule, but as one who knows the Word of God. God has entrusted the keys to the Kingdom to those who are victorious like David and Peter.

This narrative, reminds me a little of the account of Henry IV who walked to reconcile with the pope and wait in the snow for mercy & forgiveness. –
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walk_of_Canossa – Now I AM NOT ADVOCATING THAT THE CHURCH HUMILIATE THE SULTAN, the President or any other dignitary. But the church should indeed exercise her authority and right to pray for the Sultan and for the wisdom and salvation of Jesus to come upon the leaders of Brunei. And the leaders of the nations should humble themselves and serve the poor of the Land, even the Church of Jesus Christ of everyday saints.

Indeed, during this Christmas season, we should remember that this is what the Magi did. They left their place of comfort and went to see the King of kings: Jesus. They offered gifts. Would it not be appropriate for the Sultan, President of the United States of America, or the Prime Minister of Israel or any other nation to humbly bow before the Messiah by making a short pilgrimage to a local church fellowship and ruling with integrity and justice and mercy? This is surely the path of peace God desires.

We have the mystery of godliness, therefore, we must share it broadly (1 Timothy 3:16). Therefore, this year, how will you vote with your feet? Who will you go to to tell about Jesus who walked among us as the Prince of Peace?

In Christ, Merry Messiah-Month,
Mert Hershberger

P.S. Yesterday, I had the privilege of sharing a little of the Good News with a student of priestly bearing from Iran and a sushi waiter from China who was interested in the Name.

Hip-hop, don’t stop: Get the Word to the world.
http://pray-ap.info/

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Pray for all saints & souls at all times.

I remember a time a dear brother who worked in a retail health food store in a church I was pastoring requested prayer for his back. He had been my first employer upon my return to Arkansas and I worked at the health food store for a year. I think he later recommended me for the church where I pastored for a couple years.

He was the worship leader, but he had back trouble & NOTHING WORKED: chiropractors, expensive mattresses … NOTHING. The elders gathered & prayed. He was healed instantly as we prayed: Matthew 11:28-30, i.e. taking up the yoke of Jesus and finding rest.

That dear brother, my former boss, is now leading 3 thrift shops that serve a population of redeemed prisoners in Mississippi. God has promoted him from his own business, to the Father’s business.

This Holiday Season, do not be timid to pray for the saints with all kinds of prayers at all times. Who knows, they may be the one to win the people you love and who need love the most.

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American Religiosity: A True Parable of Rebuke

written: October 16, 2000

A rural farmer-preacher was sent into a small American city to fast and pray. It had not rained in the city for many days. The pastors were praying in the city hall where they kept the large plastic statue of the school mascot, the small metal emblems of corporate sponsors and civic clubs, and the national flag they called “old glory” with gilded fringe around the edge. The pastors, at the farmer’s request, read 2 Chronicles 7:14, and began praying fervently for rain.

The pentecostal pastor opened up by praying in tongues. The charismatic pastor began to rebuke the various spirits who were withholding rain from the city and many times they bound satan till he could move no more. The baptist preacher reminded God of how he had stopped backsliding ten years ago. The catholic priest invoked the name of Mary and her son. The orthodox priest had a very balanced prayer in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The presbyterian minister reminded God of the catechism. The mennonite elder pleaded for peace to be restored to the city. The methodist minister asked God why he wasn’t sending revival or rain even after he had organized this meeting. The independent fundamental preacher refused to come to the meeting because it was too ecumenical. The ecumenical chaplain at the hospital was too busy counseling patients to pray. The quaker kept waiting on the Spirit and was moved to do nothing.

When the hour for prayer had finished: the farmer confessed his attitude of pride and stubbornness and the factions he had allowed to grow in the small country church. He wept over the disunity of the church and mourned over the drunkenness & violence of his people. He pleaded for mercy upon the students and confessed that he had not been faithful to reach out to the high school kids. He admitted that he was more concerned about who won the latest ball game than if the players on the team were truly following Jesus. He continued weeping as he confessed to war crimes he had committed while he was in Vietnam and to the crimes of his fathers in earlier wars. The poor farmer couldn’t stop crying as he thought of all the injustice that had been perpetuated in the city and the lies that had been told in the city government. By this time, all the others began to quietly leave the building wondering what was wrong with that farmer. They wanted to encourage him by telling him that even if his crops failed they would help him out. But he went on praying.

Finally, when he was the only one left, the tears stopped. And the farmer began quietly praising God for his mercy and his kindness. He honored God as the Sovereign Ruler and Jesus as the Head of the Body and invited the Holy Spirit to fill him. He went home singing songs he had memorized from the hymn book, reciting the Psalms his mother had drilled into him, and even made up a new song in the Spirit. And as he left the city limits, a cloud moved over the country-side.

And as he arrived home, rain began to fall; and by nightfall, the rain poured out on the countryside where the preacher and the believers under his care farmed. But the city remained dry, and the city park continued to grow more barren as each day passed.

[On the day that I wrote this, God sent rain as my heart had desired.]

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The Man who Cried – Hebrews 5:7-10

I heard him in his room at noon, at night
Asking God for wisdom, grace and light.
Unrelenting passion filled his heart,
Trusting God would answer from the start.
Praying hard: he sought, he groaned, he sighed . . .
That’s how I’d describe the man who cried.

I saw him kneeling early in the morn
Calling out for sinners he had warned.
Simple words of power touched his lips,
Wetted eyes released their salty drips.
Bowing at the throne while others slept . . .
That’s how I’d describe the man who wept.

I heard his voice beside the young man’s grave
Telling friends about the Lord who saves.
Hugging those who mourned, his soul could hear
Every sadness, quiver, sigh, and tear.
Hurting when folks hurt; he sympathized . . .
That’s how I’d describe the man who agonized.

I saw him in the garden full of praise
Singing psalms with arms and hands upraised.
God had answered his request at last:
Fruit had come, so he would break the fast.
Thanking God just like a little boy . . .
That’s how I’d describe the man of joy.

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Prayer paved the way

From Kankan to Ypsilanti

At one point, the Mande Peoples ruled over much of West Africa in an empire that spanned centuries.

Every church bulletin includes a prayer list: names of the sick, those without jobs, friends and family who are traveling, church staff, and, oh yes, the missionaries. Some remember to pray for those on the list. Some even pray for a blessing on all the missionaries.

Others take the time to pray specifically for the individuals, the sick and those away from their homeland for the express purpose of telling others about Jesus Christ, and the difference following Him and His teachings can make in anyone’s life.

In 1997, through the church he attended at the time in Indiana, my son, Mert, learned of the Mande, a people group in West Africa. He included them when he prayed for individual missionaries in their specific country. He not only prayed, he researched the needs of the people and followed events and missionaries in the area.

In 2000, he left Indiana, but he kept the Mande mission outreach in his prayers – even when he heard little about them.

In 2005, he moved to Michigan where he rides the city buses and prays for opportunities to meet new people on the bus. Sometimes, he shares Bible verses that catch his attention.

One day’s reading touched on Paul’s visit to Rome as a prisoner and his greeting to the Jews, “You will be ever seeing, but never perceiving. Ever hearing, but never understanding. Lest you turn from your sin and be healed. …” That evening, Mert shared those words with the man sitting beside him.

“That is so true for me,” the man said. “I have trouble seeing, trouble hearing, and trouble thinking.”

“Go to the elders of your church and ask for healing,” my son said.

“I am a Muslim.”

“Oh, where are you from?”

It turned out that the man, Reggie, came from West Africa – from the Mande people group for whom Mert continued to pray.

After briefly sharing the Good News with him, Mert noted his contact information and, a couple of weeks later, he visited Reggie.

Reggie expressed his belief in Jesus as the Son of God, asked prayer for his family and began reading the Bible.

After visiting him a couple of times, Mert and a friend arrived one day to discover that the entire apartment complex was empty. No one knew where anyone had moved.

Turning to leave, they spotted a business card for Reggie’s mother’s hair-braiding salon. It took a bit of hunting to find the place, but they did. It was hidden behind a simple glass door at the end of a narrow hallway.

Reggie’s mother, Sarah, talked about her family and accepted prayers of blessings for her in Jesus name. Over time, she introduced them to other Mande people in the area. Sometimes Mert brought Bible story books he had received which were in her language, Gospel recordings or copies of the “Jesus” film in Sarah’s native language to give to her and her friends.

For Reggie, a boxer, Mert found an autobiography of George Foreman that included his testimony of faith in Jesus.

This year in March, Ahmed, a religious leader, moved into the area, and Sarah introduced him. They began talking about the Word of God. Ahmed introduced Mert to a professor of the Mande people’s language whose father had created an alphabet for the people and written numerous books in their language.

In August, searching his Internet resources for a Bible in his friend’s native language, Mert found a linguist who had been living in the West African country and was working on translating the Bible for this people group. The linguist accepted an invitation to visit the transplanted folks from his adopted country over the Labor Day weekend.

From the translator and a website, Mert learned simple greetings in the Mande people’s language to use at the local ethnic grocery store, where he met more folks who spoke the language.

Preparations and prayers for the translator’s visit included printing 20 copies of the portions of the Bible he had translated, scheduling as many visits with various Mande folks as possible and distributing copies of the translation.

But, God had bigger plans.

The folks at the beauty salon, the grocery and around the neighborhood invited the translator and Mert to the annual gathering of immigrant Mandes. This fall that gathering just happened to be in the area.

The number of people at the convention was 150-200. By invitation, the translator gave a short speech and blessings of peace.

“The atmosphere was electric,” Mert said. The translator became the unexpected star of the convention as conventioneers asked to have their pictures taken with him. Learning that he was a Bible translator, the host said, “We are Muslims.”

“I know, but doesn’t the Koran say that you are supposed to read the Law and the Gospel?” the translator politely acknowledged.

Before he left, the translator received an invitation to speak on the international radio broadcast in the West African dialect. He plans to revisit the folks in Michigan before he returns to his work in the West African country.

For Mert, the weekend gave testimony to him that God is answering prayers for this people group.

(Written with Mert Hershberger)

This blog first appeared in Joan Hershberger’s Wednesday Column in the El Dorado News-Times in Union County, Arkansas.

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“Seek My Face” – The Heart of God.

Sadly, many times translations of the Bible overdo it on occasion. They add in words or alternate words that would be best kept a little closer to the text. Happily, these are rare. Psalm 27:8 is one instance where a literal reading of the present Hebrew text gives the clearest and most profound reading. I am using The Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia 1990.  The simplest rendering of Psalm 27:7-9 is as follows: 

Hear, O Lord, my voice when my voice cries

Have mercy on me and answer me.

“My heart says to you, ‘Seek my face.'”

Your face, O Lord, will I seek.

Don’t hide your face from me.

Don’t turn in anger from your servant.

You Have lived as my help.

Don’t leave and don’t abandon me,

O God, my Savior.

This is a Psalm of David. Psalm 27:8a is where translators mess up: essentially God is answering David. He says, “Seek my Face.” David has been seeking God and talking about building a house for God. Here David hears from God and God is saying Seek My Face. It is the Heart of God: I.e. the core of the creator wants us to look to the source of our visage. The Image is to reflect the Face of God. So then the Mirror cries out for God to look at the Mirror. What is neat about this simpler translations than the circumlocutions in modern English versions is that it helps us understands what Acts 13:22 is about when David is called a Man after God’s Own Heart. David is someone who obeys God in that He seeks the face of God. He realizes that he is a king, but he wants the smile of the King of king on his life for the King’s smile gives life.

Life is simple: we are to obey God’s intention & heart which is communicated through his voice&  the Word: God wants us to seek His face.

Where is that face found? In the person of Jesus Christ. As we reflect on Jesus, we actually are conformed more and more into the character of the Annointed. Through suffering, the Spirit begins to ooze out of our lives and into the lives of those around us, bringing healing. The effect of this healing is hope & comfort. It is a healing of our future as well as a soothing from past pains.

When an individual saint or corporate church meets God at the point of reflecting His glory, we are humbled and He is honored. Peace flows. Love goes where man cannot. Our God reigns on high and with the lowly in heart. The meek inherit the earth at this juncture of crying out to God & hearing His voice.

More than minds meet. We receive the Mind of Christ. The Kingdom of God is at hand. The Lord almighty is at work. The Eternal comes infinitely near.

Hallelujah!! Amen.

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