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1 Corinthians 1:3-9 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 1 Corinthians 1:4

Whenever I read this passage I think of those Christians who have led me to a relationship with Jesus Christ. This list includes a variety of people, but among the most influential of these was a small group of Christian women who began a Bible study group in which I participated for many years. These women knew Jesus in such a personal way and were able to relate to him in any and all circumstances. They ministered to me through a very painful marriage and gave me the courage to go on.

As I re-read these scriptures I recognized the reason they were able to minister to me so well. It was because the grace of Jesus was so visible in their daily lives. They put their full trust in Him. They spent time with Him daily in prayer and Bible study. And they lifted one another up in prayer on a daily basis. God blessed us all with a fullness of His Spirit that we never could have manufactured on our own.

Re-read the entire passage and you will find that it isn’t about how wonderful the Corinthians were. It is about how wonderfully faithful God was to enrich them in every way. In my Bible study group, it wasn’t how wonderful the women were (although they truly were wonderful to me). But the full picture is about how wonderfully God worked in and through their lives and enriched and blessed us all.

Father God, help us to seek You with all our hearts. And keep us from getting big heads over our own spirituality. May we always remember that is is not about us, but all about You.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Several years ago when I was struggling in a marriage that eventually failed, I was going through a time of depression and low morale. As I drove down the street that turned beside the Post Office in our town I was suddenly aware of two cardinals fluttering up and down immediately in front of me. One of the birds hit the hood of my car and dropped into the street.

I immediately parked my car and got out to lift the bird from the street and laid it on the grass. I was remembering a time when a bird flew into a window and only knocked itself out, later to recover and fly away. I hoped that the cardinal might revive in a similar way since I had been driving fairly slowly. But the bird showed no signs of life. The other bird watched from a near-by tree.

I circled the block several times in the next two or three hours but my cardinal did not revive. I was reminded of the scripture about how God notices when even a sparrow falls to the ground. Read Matthew 10:28-31.

If I cared enough to circle the block so many times for this little red cardinal that I night not have even noticed had it not flown into my car, how much more God cares about me and the things that were weighing me down. I returned home comforted by God’s love.

I’ve always loved the song “His Eye is on the Sparrow.” Perhaps you will find comfort in it as well. This is a link to Sandi Patti singing it on UTube.

Father, Thank you for watching over me through your infinite love and compassion. Thank you for helping me through many troubles. Help me to remember the times you showed me your love when I become burdened with the cares of today. Help me keep my eye on you like you keep your eye on the sparrow and on me so I can be filled with your eternal joy.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Philippians 3:12-16 Click on link to read passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

 Since the first verse in this passage reflects on the previous few verses, I’m adding an extra link here to keep us from taking anything out of context. When the author claims he hasn’t yet attained “all of this,” a reflection on these earler verses shows that he has been discussing the source of his righteousness and his desire to know Christ, to know the power of Christ’s resurrection, and the fellowship that comes from sharing in his sufferings, enabling us to become like him even in his death. What a tall order! The outcome of it all is that we too will be resurrected from the dead.

Fortunately for our consciences, Paul acknowledges that he has not already attained this, nor has he been made perfect, but it is his goal. He is committed to continue in that direction, not looking back, but straining as in a race toward his goal, the prize that God challenged him to attain through Christ Jesus.

Before we try to cop out on that last verse as if it had been an exclusive call for Paul, we need to consider verse 15 which says that all of us, if we are mature, should take this view of things. We can only expect that God will make it clear to us eventually if we beg to differ.  And verse 16 challenges us to live up to what we have already worked our way through in our faith journey, and not slip backwards when the going gets tough.

True Christianity is not an easy street. It is more than getting perfect attendance in Sunday school. It is taking everything we learn and making changes in our personal lifestyle, changes that reflect our faith in God. It is a faith that makes a difference, not mere lip service as if we were doing God a big favor by speaking well of him. Are you growing in your faith – growing at the pace of a runner striving to run a race? Or are you limping along just enough to get you by, enough so people will see you in church and know that you are a “good” person.

 Father God, pour the discipline of your love on us if it is needed to get our attention. Incline our hearts to draw so close to you that it will be obvious to us where we need to change our walk and our talk, and empower us to make those changes. Help us to get back into the race and out of the sidelines.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Psalm 118:5-9 Click on link to read passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

 Is the Lord your refuge? When your financial security gets pulled out from under you do you feel secure? If you have experienced the rejection of divorce or alienation from a close friend, did you feel secure? There are many trials that may come across our path that test whether we are putting our confidence in people and relationships or whether we are putting our confidence in God.

I think this is one of the hardest lessons for me to learn. It isn’t that I don’t trust in God, I do. But when it gets down to facing the future with abandon knowing that my job will be terminated just before Christmas, I am filled with panic. It seems that this is a pattern that has followed me throughout my lifetime, and I have often given in to feelings of panic and fear. I cannot glorify God when I give in to these feelings.

It is time to step back and remember just who this awesome God is.

  • He is the creator of the Universe and everything in it. 
  • He died on a cross to give us eternal life.
  • He has walked this earth and knows our troubles from the inside out.
  • Death could not keep him in the tomb.
  • He uses sand to keep the ocean in its boundaries.
  • He knows the stars by name.

Read Psalm 139 and be reminded that God is with you in every circumstance.

Recount times in the past when God rescued you in times of trouble and know that he will do it again.

Re-read today’s passage, Psalm 118:5-9, and remember that David went through many desperate times himself, yet he was able to put his trust in God. Read it again with praise and celebration in your heart. If you don’t feel like praising on the second or third time, read it again and again until it finally sinks in. God is faithful and his Word will not return void. Use his Word to lift your spirits.

Father God, who knows me better than I know myself. Protect me from moments of despair by lifting me up and drawing me close to your heart. Help us to truly trust you in every circumstance.

One more note: as I was writing this prayer I had to pause and listen to a song that was playing on the radio that meant so much to me in a critical time in my past. Isn’t that just like God?

The song is He’s Been Faithful by Carol Cymbala.  I did a quick search online for a sound bite of the song. I found this on YouTube He’s Been Faithful by Vicki Yohe. I also found The words of the song on this website.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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I went for a prayer walk this morning around the Hemingway Campground. This is a location that is rich in its spiritual history. Hemingway Campground was begun in 1961 when campmeetings were more plentiful and many came to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord in these holy places. Hemingway Campground still holds an annual campmeeting, though the attendance is slow in comparison to what it was in the earlier years. Times are so different today than it was then.

We are encouraging community members to use the Campground as a place for walking, and more specifically prayer walking – spending your time walking in prayer for the Campground, the community, the churches, etc. (I say “we” as I am a member of the Board of Directors for the Campground.)

As I was walking, this morning I listened for his whisperings, and felt the desire to share a few things I felt he brought to my mind.

As is typical, I began getting bogged down in little things when I looked up at that great big sky and the clouds and treetops and realized This is God’s world and he is a Mighty God. So I continued to walk and dwell on the greatness of God and of the things he is able to do. It isn’t about us or about our programs. It is about God.

Then I began to pray for the many people who have made commitments in the past. I prayed that God would keep those commitments alive, or that he would cause a stir that might awaken commitments that may have been tucked out of mind in some. If all those persons who confessed Jesus as their Savior were actively serving him, our world wouldn’t be in the mess it is in today. Too many commitments are based on pleasing people instead of God.

As I continued to walk I seemed to be drawn to a question: Who are we serving? Are we serving memories of the Campground or are we serving God, a God who is alive and well today? What is the role of a place like Hemingway Campground in the world of today…? …where people are spoiled with air conditioning and stay indoors to keep out of the heat and mosquitoes. …where youth are too busy with the damands of ball practice and band practice so it isn’t possible for them to participate in a week-long summer camp. …where we have to compete with technology at every turn to get the attention of the youth. …where many churches are so competative with one another that they are unwilling to bond with them to win the lost for Jesus.

Christianity isn’t about denominations. It is about living for Jesus. It is about studying the Bible to learn what it says, and believing it whether or not it fits into the belief system of everyone in your church or not. It isn’t about finding someone who will agree with you 100% on how to interpret the Bible or how to worship our God. It is about agreeing that God is God, that Jesus is his one and only Son and the one and only way to be one with God. If we attach too many legalities to this belief, we lose touch with the Spirit of Christ and return to the Old Testament Spirit of the Law.

So my prayer continues to be that we as Christians will grow in Jesus, not in denominations and strictness of beliefs. …that we will grow in holiness as we seek to learn how God wants us to live and as we listen to the Holy Spirit and allow him to apply the scriptures to our hearts.

I almost stopped walking on this round as I neared my car once again, but I felt the need to go around once more, this time seeking God’s direction in my personal life. I determined not to rattle on, but to listen. I hadn’t walked far when I saw a bird of prey (probably a kite) circling not all that high over the open space in front of me. I felt it was watching me as closely as I was watching it as several times it hovered directly overhead. It circled the field several more times studying the ground and the tree branches on my side of the field. Then it suddenly changed its position by pulling in its wings and diving toward the ground. As it opened its wings and flew upward again I noticed its intended prey, a butterfly, fluttering on its way. As I walked the rest of the way around the circle that last time, I pondered what kind of message I should take away from this. I pondered whether my part was in the bird who put all its energy into attacking that butterfly, or whether my part was the butterfly who is continuing to keep going in spite of the attacks that come from various circumstances in my life. Surely the butterfly was blessed to have escaped the beak of the kite, a very real threat. I prefer to see myself as the butterfly.

 

Daniel 1:15-17 (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

 

God honored Daniel’s courage and diplomacy. Daniel and his three friends were visibly healthier than the other young men who ate the king’s rich food and wine. They were allowed to continue eating their healthy diet and to honor God.

 

Not only did God bless their physical health for honoring him, he also blessed them with knowledge and understanding. Daniel was also given the gift of understanding visions and dreams.

 

Even though Daniel and his friends were plunged thoroughly into the Babylonian culture, they were able to distance themselves from it by holding fast to the commands of God.

 

Our culture today could be compared to the Babylonian culture as we are surrounded by such an indulgent and permissive society. Like David, we must hold fast to the commands of God and the teachings of Jesus as we face the daily temptations that are thrown at us.

 

Father God, give us the will and the faithful determination to hold fast to your teachings in the face of worldly opposition.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Psalm 119:25-32 (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

We are about to begin a study of Josiah, the boy king. I believe this Psalm was selected for today’s scripture because it reflected so well the barrenness of the spiritual condition of the Jewish nation when Josiah began his reign.

This passage would not only have encouraged Josiah in Bible times, it is written for us today as well. Perhaps you are at an all-time low and you are tempted to believe that God has abandoned you because of your circumstances. The psalmist is writing from the perspective of the dust heap–he is feeling great sorrow.

But the psalmist is lifting his eyes to the Lord. He is pleading with God to teach him his laws so he could meditate on them through his time of sorrow. He is praying that God will strengthen him through the scriptures, that he will keep him from becoming deceitful, from trying to rise in his own strength. He resolves to continue in the way of truth with his heart set on the laws of God, and prays that God will not allow him to be put to shame. The psalmist is able to run in the freedom he has received from following God’s paths.

Are we willing to trust in the scriptures to lift us out of our own despair? I recall a Sunday when I was so deep in despair that I couldn’t bear to attend our worship service for fear I would make a spectacle of myself through my tears. Instead, I armed myself with my Bible and some scripture-based music tapes and drove to a secluded place to worship my God in private. I cried as I listened to one song after another. I looked up the scriptures the musicians sang. Even though the tears continued to flow, they gradually changed from tears of grief to tears of hope and then joy. I returned home with a new lift to my spirit. I was ready to face whatever came my way.

Father God, we thank and praise you that you know our hearts and that you care. Just as Jesus wept for Martha and Mary in their grief, you weep for us when we are hurting. Help us to never forget your love, and to never forget to lift our eyes to you when we feel discouraged. You have promised to never let us down. Thank you for always being there for us.

P.S. As I was uploading this message God blessed my heart with the song “You Are My Hiding Place” on the radio and my tears again flowed, as he had been my hiding place on that day I just wrote about. God will bless you if you will give him the opportunity. (Psalm 32:7 is the scripture that inspired this song)

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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2 Chronicles 6:1-11 (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible.)

The labors were finally done and it was time to dedicate the temple.  Solomon re-stated the history behind the building of the temple as he addressed the assembly. Then he turned away from the people and offered praise to God for his faithfulness. Solomon again repeated the promise God had made to David emphasizing that God had been faithful to keep his promise.

Solomon gave credit where credit was due. He did not seek credit for building the temple, but gave God all the credit for having seen it through to completion and the ark of the covenant was now in the temple.

Are we willing to give God credit for seeing us through the tasks he gives us to do? Or do we feel like we did all the work? Are we quick to give him the credit for giving us the abilities we have, or do we want everyone to see what wonderful thing we have done?

Dear heavenly Father, you have been so faithful to us. Thank you for for loving us and reaching out to us, for opening our eyes that we might know you, and for giving us the desire to grow in our relationship with you. Help us to acknowledge you in everything and to recall your many blessings to us.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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2 Peter 1:5-8 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens. 

This passage doesn’t ask much does it? (I ask with my tongue in my cheek.) This list of virtues can be a bit overwhelming at first glance.

This is such a huge passage to get my mind around, but as I look at it, I recognize a growing kind of pattern to the list: 

We start with proclaiming our faith in Christ Jesus as our Savior. Then we set out to do the good things that we know Jesus wants us to do. We soon realize that there is much we need to learn if we are going to follow his teachings. The more we learn, we begin to discover areas of our lives that we need to change requiring a measure of self-control. Some of these changes may be difficult for us, and we may struggle to persevere in them. As we make these changes we will show more godliness in our manner. This godliness should express itself in brotherly kindness to others, and ultimately a measure of love that only Christ can help us to attain.

Verse 8 tells why these qualities are so very important. If our Christian walk is to be effective we must continually reach higher in our relationship with Christ. What Christian in his/her right mind would be satisfied to be ineffective and unproductive?

I believe it would be helpful to print out this list of virtues as a challenge to ever grow in our faith. Here is the list if you would like to print it out. Or you may click on the link at the bottom for an MS Word file you can print out. I think it best to begin at the bottom as growing in our faith makes us taller in our faith.

Love

Brotherly Kindness

Godliness

Perseverance

Self-Control

Knowledge

Goodness

Faith

God’s Growth Chart (2)  (Click on link for 8.5 x 11 poster with clip art.)

Lord Jesus, enable us to see ourselves honestly in light of these virtues. Give us such a great hunger to know you better and to serve you more that we will grow closer to the top of this list day by day. Don’t let us settle to be second class Christians who are satisfied to blend in with the world and look and act like everyone else.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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1 Chronicles 16:7-36 (Click on this link to read the passage. It is too long for me to copy into this post without breaking the Copyright law that governs its use.)

This passage is a psalm of David’s even though it is not in the book of Psalms. It is a song of thanksgiving and praise to God for all he has done for his people. The cause of this celebration of praise was the restoration of the arc of the Covenant to Jerusalem.

In this psalm David is thanking God for all of the wonder acts he performed on behalf of the Israelites. He is calling for the Israelites to rejoice and to glory in the name of God. He calls on them to remember the wonders and miracles God has performed as well as his righteous judgments against those who rebelled against him.

David remembers God’s faithfulness to his covenant even when the people were not faithful. He remembers God’s faithfulness to give the Promised Land to his people as an inheritance.

David recalls how God protected the Israelite nation as they wondered in the desert with no place to call home – yet. He then calls on the Israelites to sing God’s praises and to declare his glory to all nations.

David declares God’s sovereignty over all other gods. He challenges the Israelites to give God the glory and honor he is due. He calls on the earth to tremble before the Almighty God.

My feeble re-telling of this great psalm leaves much to be desired. One needs to read this Psalm over and over. Try to imagine King David’s uncontainable excitement as he sings his heart out to the Israelites through these words.

As I have written these words today I have wondered how we could bring this psalm closer home. Those of us who live in the United States have a history that, at least at the beginning of our nation, had very close ties with God. His name is embedded in our national documents, and his people were at work making our nation great. It is grievous to see how far away from God we have moved in the past 100 years.

I would like to see this psalm re-written to fit our nation’s history and to challenge our own citizens to “Cry out, ‘Save us, O God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, that we may glory in your praise.’ Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.” (1 Chronicles 16:35-36 NIV) 

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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