Prayer


As God moves on the hearts of the more mature members of Special Gathering, they are expressing a desire to serve the Lord in “important ways.”  I’ve been surprised at how much they are yearning to have their lives count for God’s kingdom.  Special Gathering members are intellectually disabled, but their spirits are whole and holy.  Some of them are starting to discuss how they can be effective Christians, reaching out into our community and sharing the good news of redemption through Jesus.  They feel that they are having to spend a lot of time waiting for the Lord to use them.

Like these men and women from the disability community, most of us spend much of our time waiting in the wings, peeking around waiting for our turn.  The Bible is full of men and women that we consider heroes of the faith who spent most of their lives waiting for a promise of God to be fulfilled.  My mother often said, “God is wanting a people who are faithful.  Our success is not as important as our faithfulness.”

I’m not one to look backwards; but I’ve recently been asked to share a testimony regarding things which happened to our community in the 1960′s.  This has triggered a look into my past that is interesting.  My day to day observation has been that I’ve been waiting for God to move most of my life.  Looking back, I’ve been a bit shocked at how much the Lord has moved in the life of our community.

In fact, my life appears blessed compared to the lives of the men and women we find in the Scriptures. Nearly all of his life, Daniel lived in captivity and forced to serve in the courts of the conquering kingdom.  By his own accounts, Jeremiah had a disastrous career.  He was not trusted, ridiculed, thrown into a pit and left to die.  Esther was forced into a loveless marriage.  Ruth became a widow at a young age.  Later, she chose to move from her homeland to take care of her mother-in-law.

Perhaps during the 21 years that David was waiting to become king, he could have grown tired of waiting.  Joseph spent an equal amount of time in prison before he was elevated to prime minister of Egypt.  Moses languished for 40 years in the wilderness until his burning bush experience.

It is obvious that God’s measuring stick of what is accomplished in the “wings” of life is different from our human accounting processes.  Yet, as the author of our faith, He alone will be our final judge.  Reviewing the lives of these men and women that were used to bring forth and spread the Gospel, I’m relieved that the Lord is one who is keeping the records.  Perhaps a time of waiting is necessary to bring his children into maturity and able to be faithful to the end.
Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/simplelife/#ixzz26jtVjwQX

Glenn McGruffie, the team manager for Veteran Services for Brevard County, Florida, signs his emails with this quote. “A veteran is someone who at one point in his or her life wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America’ for an amount of  ‘up to and including my life.'”

Chris Stevens

While this isn’t a special day in which we pay honor to our veterans, this quote is so significant I feel it must be shared.  Our nation has seen too many of our most valiant men and women lost in the turmoil of war.  This week we have been shocked and saddened by Libya Ambassador Chris Stevens.  The accounts that are emerging are disturbing and sad.

We live in a blessed nation that may be teetering on the brink of several disasters.  We are in unthinkable debt.  There are billions of people who hate us.  Yet, the men and women continue to write that blank check so that we can live in freedom.

We own them more than a debt of gratitude.  We own them our prayers and our commitment to the faith in the Lord that we, as Christians, recognize is the true reason for our strength.  The Lord calls his people to prayer.  During this holy week in the Jewish calendar, Rosh Hashanah, those who call on Christ as our Savior should not only pray for the peace of Jerusalem but for our troops who are willing to die for our freedom.

God is Patient

II Peter 3:9

Central Theme:  God is patient with everyone.

Introduction–  Bring branch from the jassmine vine.  Tell about the other one getting killed in the storm.  I was sad because it was beautiful and large and provided shade for the back yard.  Do you think a man of God should be more concerned about a dead plant or a city like Vero Beach (Melbourne), Florida?

I.     Have a member read II Peter 3:9

A. Tell the story of Jonah.

B.  Show a dead plant.

C. Jonah wanted God to kill all the people in the city.  However,  he was so angry when the plant that had grown over night had died that he said he wanted to die.

II.     God is patient with everyone.

A. He does not want anyone to have an unhappy life or die without Him.

1.  Tell about getting angry with some people who were spreading terrible gossip about you.  At times you wanted them to disappear.  I didn’t really want them to die but I wished they would just be gone.

2.  God helped me to love them because he loves them.

B.  This is how God  helps me be patient with people I don’t want to be patient with.

1.  God can help me remember that he loves that person as much as he loves me.

2.  God can help me find good things about that person.

3.  God can help me love that person when they are not with me.

A. Many times when we are not with a person, we think about what the other person did or said and then we get angry.

Conclusion–God is patient and he can help me to be patient also.

Prayer includes listening

Jeremiah 33:3

Central Theme:  We should learn to listen to God speaking.

Introduction–Tommy Andrew Dorsey, the gospel song writer, heard a small voice speak to him to stay at home but he did not listen.  He had to come back to the house, a voice said, “Stay!“ but he did not listen.  While he was gone, his pregnant wife died.  Then his little baby died.  He was angry at God, until he remembered that this small voice kept telling him to stay at home.  He wrote the song, “Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on let me stand.”

I.     Paul learned that a large part of prayer is listening to God.

A. Have a member read Jeremiah 33:3.

B.  Tell the story from Acts 16:6-10 of Paul‘s vision to go the Macedonia.

1.  Paul listened to God and we should be very happy.

2.  This meant that the Western World, many of our ancestors would hear the gospel.

II.     Listening is no mystery to us.

A. We are all familiar with a small voice that speaks to us.

1.  Usually says, “Don’t do that.”

2.  Many times we hear a voice that says, “Stop and help.”

3.  We might feel that we should, “Pray for George.  He needs help.”

B.  We call that our conscience

1.  Everyone has it–Christian and nonChristian.

2.  Every person in the world has an inside voice that speaks to us.

C. As Christians, we recognize that voice is usually God’s Spirit speaking to us.

D. We need to begin to follow God’s voice

E.  We need to begin to listen for God’s voice

1.  Maybe today, as we get ready to eat our refreshments or talk to a friend but that voice says, “Help with the chairs.”

2.  Or we get ready to help put up the chairs and that voice says, “Stop and help a friend.”

3.  Take a few minutes each day to listen.  God will speak to you.

Prayer must include listening to make us strong.

Every stress-relieving prescription in books or articles begin and end with “throw away, organize and simplify. ” Therefore, it isn’t hard to see the pattern that the experts recommend for eliminating stress.

Following the advice of these men and women who have studied these things, I’ve looked around to find where I can simplify my life.  Here and there, piece by piece, I’ve whittled at the excesses.

Over the years, I learned that I am effected by the things which surround me.  Walking through the grocery store brings about extreme sensory overload for me.  It is as though I have a complete brain drain as I enter the doors of Wal-Mart.  Without a list, I never leave the store with all the things I need, no matter how much money I spend.

Yet, like the experts advise, I find that simple things restore my sanity.  A walk around the block relishing the brisk fall breezes.  Sitting on the beach watching the waves with my feet covered with wet sand.  Propped against two pillows reading my Bible each night before I go to sleep.  Waking before dawn to share moments with the King of the Universe in intimate conversation.

Tonight I had supper with friends. Afterwards, we talked for hours.  I explained a disturbing dream I had this week.  My friend took the dream and helped me to understand a complex issue that has troubled me for several months.  The answer was simple.

Here and there, I find that the more I learn, the more I don’t understand.  The more I desire to be holy, the more I realize how far I must travel toward that goal.

Yet, in the middle of these confusing issues, one simple principle remains steady. God loves me and He desires my love more than my adherence to a group of legalities.  God loves me and no matter how much I fail him, he stands ready to forgive, cleanse, release and heal.  God loves me and my failures don’t surprise him.  He knew about them before I was even born.  Yet his love for me is unchanging.

Darting back and to, here and there, I’m confused and disoriented.  But resting in the gracious arms of his love, I’m safe and secure.  In his love, life becomes simple.  In Him, I am made complete.

Today, during Special Gathering worship, we said good-bye to a dear and trusted friend who is moving away.  Erik Conrad came to us seven years ago and he has done more tasks that I can name.

For me, he has been a person of value helping, teaching, ministering, loading equipment, and leading praise.  Regarding ministry within the mentally challenged community, there are few people who dare to jump into the work as Erik has done.  He will be greatly missed.

I’m a bit surprised that Special Gathering ministry has become as dependent on this young man. I am strangely feeling as though I’m once again sitting on my brother’s bike trying to get my balance. Nevertheless, I am reassured that God will help all of us and that things will come back together as soon as I gain the courage and experience to push away from the fence.

The Psalmist said, “Because your love is better than life, I will praise you.  I will praise you as long as I live.  I will lift my hands in prayer to your name.  I will be content as if I had eaten the best food.  My lips will sing and my mouth will praise you” (Psalm 63:3-5).

Are you facing a new experience that has left you unsure of yourself?  How will you appropriate your faith in God to help you regain your equilibrium?

Hot and sweaty I came in from a 10-minute run. Wiping my forehead and drinking a large glass of water, I’d neglected to turn off the TV.  Absently, I observed as the morning show hosts flashed the live picture of the first tower with a large gaping hole. Flames shot from the opening.

As we watched, another plane plowed into the second tower. There was a gut wrenching realization that this was a terrorist attack. What I didn’t know was that within a few hours I would watch in horror as both towers collapsed. All doubt regarding a systematic attack was erased when news cameras quickly craned on the Pentagon attack. Then the Pennsylvania crash was recorded.

Moment by moment, I realized that history was being made. For the first time, the entire world watched as buildings crumbled and planes crashed, dragging our nation into an extended, brutal war.  Our prayer for our nation remains the same.  We pray for God’s mercy as we repent of those things which are glaring sins and failures in our lives.

Linda G. Howard, “A Simple Life, A Childlike Faith”

For more reactions of different BeliefNet bloggers read: http://www.beliefnet.com/9_11Anniversary/Beliefnet-Bloggers-Where-Were-You-on-911.aspx?p=2#ixzz1XYqR0KjN

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