VIDEO A Message From St. Paul – the lost sheep

A Message From St. Paul

I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. Luke 15:7

A daredevil raccoon, searching for bird eggs, kept animal lovers on edge earlier this year when it scaled a 25-story skyscraper in St. Paul, Minnesota, and became stuck near the top. Television cameras followed the drama closely. Workers finally rescued the creature when it reached the roof and released it safely. One raccoon behavior expert said, “Raccoons don’t think ahead very much, so raccoons don’t have very good impulse control. I don’t think the raccoon realized when it started climbing what it was in for.”

That sounds like a lot of humans, doesn’t it?

We are so prone to head in the wrong direction, make mistakes, fail to think ahead, and often fail to exercise impulse control. We get ourselves trapped by life.

But we have Someone who can rescue us. Through Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to give us victory over our sin, we’ve received the gift of righteousness and are no longer chained to the cycle of sin and guilt. Every time Jesus rescues a soul, it should be a sensation. It’s truly a celebration in heaven.

I was a sinner, but now I’m free, / His wondrous grace has rescued me. Lida S. Leech, in her hymn, “He Rescued Me”


Billy Graham – the lost sheep – Anchorage, AK

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The Prayer and the Chain Saw

Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant. Nehemiah 1:11

I respect my Aunt Gladys’s intrepid spirit, even if that very spirit concerns me sometimes. The source of my concern came in the form of news she shared in an email: “I cut down a walnut tree yesterday.”

You must understand that my chainsaw-wielding aunt is seventy-six years old! The tree had grown up behind her garage. When the roots threatened to burst through the concrete, she knew it had to go. But she did tell us, “I always pray before I tackle a job like that.”

While serving as butler to the king of Persia during the time of Israel’s exile, Nehemiah heard news concerning the people who had returned to Jerusalem. Some work needed to be done. “The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire” (Nehemiah 1:3). The broken walls left them vulnerable to attack by enemies. Nehemiah had compassion for his people and wanted to get involved. But prayer came first, especially since a new king had written a letter to stop the building efforts in Jerusalem (see Ezra 4). Nehemiah prayed for his people (Nehemiah 1:5–10), and then asked God for help before requesting permission from the king to leave (v. 11).

Is prayer your response? It’s always the best way to face any task or trial in life.

Father, Your Holy Spirit reminds us to pray first. Today, we commit to doing so as Your Spirit prompts us.

Make prayer a first priority, instead of a last resort.

By Linda Washington

How to Strengthen Faith

Matthew 17:14-20

How do you know whether your faith is strong or weak? We realize that as believers, we’re supposed to trust God with every aspect of life, but circumstances may cause us to waver. This is not a new problem—five times in the book of Matthew, Jesus pointed out examples and symptoms of what He called “little faith.”

Anxiety. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus addressed people who were worried about their basic needs being met (Matt. 6:25-34). He assured them of divine provision if God’s kingdom was their top priority.

Fear. When a storm arose, the disciples were afraid even though the Creator of the wind and the sea was with them, asleep in the boat (Matt. 8:23-27).

Focus. As long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he had faith to walk on water. But when he focused on his circumstances, he began to sink. (Matt. 14:24-33).

Forgetfulness. Despite the feeding of thousands, the disciples failed to remember Christ’s past provision in their current situation (Matt. 16:5-12).

Inadequacy.  Although Jesus had given His disciples authority to cast out demons, they felt inadequate and lacked divine power when faced with a particularly difficult situation (Matt. 17:14-20).

In each case, the wrong mindset resulted in a lack of confidence in Christ. Diminished faith begins not with circumstances but with our thinking and focus. Therefore, if we want to increase our trust in God, we must fill our minds with the truth of Scripture, remember our Father’s faithfulness to us in the past, and look for His hand working in our present situation. When our minds are renewed, our faith will be also.

The Valley of Blessing

“And on the fourth day they assembled themselves in the valley of Berachah; for there they blessed the LORD: therefore the name of the same place was called, The valley of Berachah, unto this day.” (2 Chronicles 20:26) 

The name Berachah means “blessing,” and the people of Judah surely had much reason to bless the Lord. The armies of the Moabites and Ammonites, and many others, had invaded their land, and King Jehoshaphat had no forces sufficient to oppose them.

But Jehoshaphat had already led his people back to the Lord, and now he prayed for their deliverance, acknowledging that the Lord was “God in heaven . . . so that none is able to withstand thee.” Therefore God replied, through the prophet Jahaziel, that “the battle is not yours, but God’s . . . stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 20:6, 15, 17). God then set the invading armies against each other until all were slain, and God’s people were delivered without even lifting a sword. No wonder the people “blessed the LORD”!

The Hebrew word berachah (“blessing”) is used some 68 times in the Old Testament, the first being God’s promise to Abraham when he followed the Lord: “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2). God’s promise to Abraham has been abundantly kept, though there is much more to come. We, like the people in the valley of Berachah, have much for which to bless the Lord, for we also have seen the salvation of God: “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing” (Revelation 5:12).

Therefore, “bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name” (Psalm 103:1). HMM

Not unto us, O Lord, but unto Thy name give glory

2 Corinthians 11:1-9, 23-30

2 Corinthians 11:1

Paul was not pleased to have to speak of himself; he calls self-commendation folly, for so it usually is; but it was needful for him to vindicate his position and authority, in order that his letters might have weight with the Corinthian believers for their lasting good.

2 Corinthians 11:2, 3

By the admixture of philosophy with the gospel, he feared that they would be seduced from the truth. Too much ground is there for the same anxiety about the churches of our own day.

2 Corinthians 11:4

If any man could bring us a better gospel, more sure, more full, more free, we might listen to his novelties; but so long as this is not attempted or pretended, we will abide by the old form of doctrine, and those men of God who preach it.

2 Corinthians 11:8

He received nothing from the Corinthians, but allowed other churches to relieve his necessities that he might in no degree burden them; yet they were not grateful, but spoke of him disrespectfully. Gratitude is far too rare even among professing Christians.

2 Corinthians 11:9

The apostle, to vindicate his character and prove his apostleship, then mentioned what he had done and suffered.

2 Corinthians 11:23

He was called in a more remarkable way, had been more fully instructed, and enabled to accomplish more than any one of them.

2 Corinthians 11:23

in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, or far exceeding any one else

2 Corinthians 11:28

cometh upon me or rushes upon me

2 Corinthians 11:28

Which was a heavy burden; there were so many things to think about, that his mind was wearied.

2 Corinthians 11:29

He sympathized with all, and was the focus for all sorrows.

2 Corinthians 11:30

Surely after this recital these Corinthians would value the apostle, and trouble him no more with their criticisms. Better far is it for us to profit by good men than to find fault with them. Let not the Pauls among us now have to suffer for our unkindness.

 

When trials sore obstruct my way,

And ills I cannot flee,

Oh, give me strength, Lord, as my day:

For good remember me.

 

If on my face, for thy dear name,

Shame and reproaches be,

All hail, reproach! and welcome, shame!

If thou remember me.

 

The Sacred Gift of Seeing

Your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. (Acts 2:17)

As God created us, we all have to some degree the power to imagine. That imagination is of great value in the service of God may be denied by some persons who have erroneously confused the word “imagination” with the word “imaginary.”

The gospel of Jesus Christ has no truck with things imaginary. The most realistic book in the world is the Bible. God is real. Men are real and so is sin and so are death and hell! The presence of God is not imaginary; neither is prayer the indulgence of a delightful fancy.

The value of the cleansed imagination in the sphere of religion lies in its power to perceive in natural things shadows of things spiritual. A purified and Spirit-controlled imagination is the sacred gift of seeing; the ability to peer beyond the veil and gaze with astonished wonder upon the beauties and mysteries of things holy and eternal.

The stodgy pedestrian mind does no credit to Christianity!

 

Holy Fear

“He that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.” Prov. 13:13

Holy awe of God’s Word is at a great discount. Men think themselves wiser than the Word of the Lord, and sit in judgment upon it. “So did not I, because of the fear of God.” We accept the inspired Book as infallible, and prove our esteem by our obedience. We have no terror of the Word, but we have a filial awe of it. We are not in fear of its penalties, because we have a fear of its commands.

This holy fear of the commandment produces the restfulness of humility, which is far sweeter than the recklessness of pride. It becomes a guide to us in our movements; a drag when we are going down-hill, and a stimulus when we are climbing it. Preserved from evil and led into righteousness by our reverence of the command, we gain a quiet conscience, which is a well of wine; a sense of freedom from responsibility, which is as life from the dead; and a confidence of pleasing God, which is Heaven below. The ungodly may ridicule our deep reverence for the Word of the Lord; but what of that? The prize of our high calling is a sufficient consolation for us. The rewards of obedience make us scorn the scorning of the scorner.

 

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