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Life Lessons from CFO

1 Jul

Society is so far out of balance. We have too much food, not enough food, too much exercise, not enough exercise, too much TV, not enough study, too much sports, not enough downtime, too much purchasing, not enough producing,  too much worry, not enough meditation. So how can we use the CFO program to help us get our lives into balance?

It sounds a little like a cliché, but it makes sense, Inspiration + Expiration = Respiration. We need some of everything to have balanced lives. We can have a diet of only green leafy vegetables, but that does not mean we will be healthy. The CFO program replenishes and depletes (this is not a negative) each part of us, body, mind and soul. Meals, rest and sleep replenish the body. Singing, exercise and recreation deplete the body. The mind is replenished by the talk and also by sleep, while Creatives and fellowship deplete the mind. The Spirit is replenished by Meditation, prayer, sleep and the blessing service and is depleted by Creatives, singing, prayer and the world prayer broadcast.

In the next pages, you will find a basic daily guide for using the CFO program each day. There is a suggested meditation, song, scripture and so on. I encourage you to work through each day and all the parts of the program, do not be concerned about doing them in order or making sure you do it perfectly. If you do not know the song, let God help you make up a tune or choose a different one. If there is a suggested activity, that you feel you can not do, pray and let God give you an idea. He is always creative and will give you suggestions if you ask. Use the suggested activities to help you generate your own ideas. This should not be difficult. It it becomes too hard, then it has failed. The elements of the CFO day should just be part of who you are. Scripture, Song, prayer, giving and receiving blessing from God should be just as natural as breathing and eating.

Make notes as you complete each part and what God says to you through each section. Use the lists as a check point and journal at the end of each day. Try to look at the song and meditation early in the day, so you can carry God’s song and word through your whole day. If you are unable to do an activity on the day it is listed, do not skip it. Swap it for another day’s activity. Keep it flexible and balanced.

Once you have completed the days that are laid out, you should have some good habits developed and ideas about how to take this further. I have added a template in appendix B, that you can copy and record your daily activities and scripture choices.  You can also use these daily guides to help plan personal or group retreats. The CFO program, is a tool that God gave to an obedient man, many years ago. This book is just another tool to use the program. Let God be your guide.

My prayer is that this will help you develop positive habits and balance your lives. As John Wesley said, we need to “Do no harm, do good and stay in love with God”. This sounds balanced to me.

Remember that if or when you fail and you entertain your inner desires and they become sin, all hope is not lost. Do not despair, do not be discouraged. Confess your sin and repent (start over). Ask God to forgive you and receive his forgiveness. Forgive others that may have been involved (intentionally or unintentionally) and forgive yourself. Take control again and let Satan know that he has no place in your life. Then put on your armor, pick yourself up and continue the race.

Life Lesson: November 14

14 Nov

Meditate
Read Exodus 15:22-27. “I am the Lord who heals you.” (Exodus 15:26)

Sing
“I am the God that healeth thee. I am the Lord, your healer. I sent my word and healed your disease. I am the Lord your healer.”

Message
Several years ago, when my daughter was about 5 years old, she was playing on the play ground with her friends. One moment she was happy and the next, she had fallen from the monkey bars, right on her nose. In fear and pain, she came running to me for help. I was certain there was nothing I could do for her little nose and so I sat on the floor, held her in my arms and rocked her gently, as she held a cold compress to her face.

As I rocked and quietly prayed, a song came to mind. The song is based on Exodus 15:26 and says, “I am the God that healeth thee. I am the Lord your healer.”  Over and over I sang these words until she felt better. When I looked at her, the swelling and bruising went down and she ran off to play.

It was 2 years or so later that I took her to an ears, nose, and throat doctor because she was having difficulty with her adenoids and tonsils. The first thing the doctor asked when she looked at her nose was, “When did she break her nose?” Since that day my daughter would tell people, “God heals me, even when I do not know I am broken”.

Blessing
Send a card a shut in. Write out a prayer and include it in the card.

Move
Stand up and relax your body. Start with your head and let your chin drop to your chest. Carefully lift it back up. Tense your arms and then relax. Tense your stomach muscles and then relax. Do the same with your thighs, legs and toes. Notice each part of your body tensing and the relaxing. As your muscles relax, allow God to minister healing and health to your body.

Create
Take a small piece of paper and begin to doodle. You remember, when you were younger and bored, you would make lines, boxes and interconnecting circles. When you feel finished, take a look at it. Look closely. Do not concern yourself with what you see, notice what does God wants you to see.

Nourish
Eat some fresh fruit today and be thankful for the great variety that God has provided.

Rest
Find 10 minutes to be still. Do nothing during this time. This is God’s time to renew you in mind, body and spirit.

Recreation
Get out and ride a bike today. If you do not have one and can not borrow one, at least take a walk.

Pray
Contact your Pastor and spouse and see what you can pray about for them. Do it with them if possible.

Snack
Make a smoothie tonight, using fresh or frozen strawberries. God’s food it so good.

World Prayer Broadcast
Pray for the people of Africa and the spread of HIV/Aids.

Rest
As you go to sleep tonight, ask God to be with you in your dreams. Ask him to speak to you in your dreams.

———————
Lyrics Credit: From “I Am the Lord That Healeth Thee” © 1986 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music Don Moen. CCLI#283314

Pray With Me: November 11 Veterans Day

11 Nov

Pray With MeFor the members of our military service.

Pray with me today for our world, our country, our neighborhoods, our friends, and our families. Begin your journey with an open heart. Find a quiet place. Make today’s theme the focus of your prayers today.

Life Lesson: Nov 7

7 Nov

How do you live? What are your goals? The promise of life-change hinges on loving others not ourselves.

Meditate
Read Mark 8:31-38. Meditate on verse 33.

Sing
Chorus 
I surrender all, I surrender all
All to Thee my blessed Savior, I surrender all

Verse 1
All to Jesus I surrender, All to Him I freely give
I will ever love and trust Him, In His presence daily live.

Verse 2
All to Jesus I surrender, Humbly at His feet I bow.
Worldly pleasures all forsaken, Take me Jesus take me now.

Verse 3
All to Jesus I surrender, Make me Savior wholly Thine.
Let me feel the Holy Spirit, Truly know that Thou art mine.

Verse 4
All to Jesus I surrender, Lord I give myself to Thee.
Fill me with Thy love and power, Let Thy blessing fall on me.

Verse 5
All to Jesus I surrender, Now I feel the sacred flame.
O the joy of full salvation, Glory glory to His name.

Message
Be in silence to hear from God.

Blessing
When you are out today, speak a blessing to the first person you see.

Move
Convert your exercise program into a spiritual time. Every movement of your body has a cadence that can be set to prayer, such as the Lord’s Prayer, Hail Mary or the Doxology.

Create
Draw a picture, using the hand you don’t write with. Ask God what is the point of your drawing.

Nourish
Consider eating half portions or fasting today.

Rest
Find 10 minutes to be still. Do nothing during this time. This is God’s time to renew you in mind, body and spirit.

Recreation
Have you been wanting to play? Let yourself be a child. Visit a playground in a park. Watch the children at play. Buy a coloring book and crayons. Laugh out loud.

Pray
Picture Jesus sitting surrounded by a large assortment of wrapped boxes. He invites you to unwrap each one, because they are gifts for you! Unwrap the gifts of love, joy, peace, forgiveness, good health, strength, endurance, provision of all kinds, hugs, kisses, and good will toward you from others. Lastly, Jesus wraps himself up and presents himself to you. He beckons you to come and accept this gift. As you do, realize that all the other gifts are straw and dust without the gift of Jesus. Realize also that when you accept the gift of Jesus, you must give up yourself in return. Through this exchange, the concerns of God become your concerns and  your concerns begin to fade.

Snacks
Skip your snack today and pray for those who do not have anything to eat.

World Prayer
You have built yourself up in this day with God. Use this energy to pray for things outside yourself.

Sleep
Ask the Lord to help you empty your mind of all the day’s woes and problems and fill it with his peace. Be silent and drift off to sleep.

From morning until night, God wants us to worship and commune with Him. Start your day in His Word and then weave throughout the day these elements of devotion, worship, contemplation and service to others.
__________________
LYRICS CREDIT:
“I Surrender All” CCLI Song # 23189, Judson Wheeler Van De Venter | Winfield Scott Weeden, Public Domain, For use solely with the SongSelect Terms of Use. All rights reserved. www.ccli.com,CCLI License # 283314

Pray With Me: November 1 All Saints Day

1 Nov

Pray With MeFor all the saints–in heaven and still living here on earth, on this feast of All Saints. A special saint in your life is _________.  Pray blessings and grace upon this person.

Pray with me today for our world, our country, our neighborhoods, our friends, and our families. Begin your journey with an open heart. Unpack the heavenly box of prayer  for others and discover the priceless treasures of God’s Kingdom that are present in your life!   (Matthew 13:52)

Find a quiet place
Make today’s theme the focus of your prayers today.

Life Lesson: October 31

31 Oct

Meditate: John 15: 1-17

Sing: What a Friend We Have in Jesus

Verse 1
What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear.
What a privilege to carry, Ev’rything to God in prayer.
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear!
All because we do not carry, Ev’rything to God in prayer.

Verse 2
Have we trials and temptations, Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged, Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful, Who will all our sorrow share?
Jesus knows our ev’ry weakness. Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Verse 3 Are we weak and heavy laden, Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior still our refuge! Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer.
In His arms He’ll take and shield you, You will find a solace there.

Message
            I have had many friends in life. Some friends stick together through life, but many float in and out as life changes. One of my most beloved friends has passed away and after several years, she is still missed. Sadly, I have hurt some of my friends and some of my friends have hurt me. It seems that no matter how much you love your friends it is never a perfect relationship. Friends disagree, they drift away, and they die.
In John, Jesus says, “You are my friends if you do what I command.” The good news of this passage is that if Jesus is our friend, he will never drift away or leave us. An important word in this passage is the little word “If.” This is not a one sided relationship. We need to do our part.
Our part of this relationship is obedience. Although this sounds hard, Jesus lets us know that to be obedient means that we love one another. That should be easy. All we have to do is love. Just as Jesus laid down his life for us, we are to lay down our lives for others. Jesus calls us to abide in him so that we will produce fruit. To abide means that we obey. To obey means that we are called friends!
What would life look like if we were obedient and fully lived in Jesus? What would life look like if we put every other person first? Think of the fruit that we would produce!

Blessing
Ask God who needs a friend today and write them a note from Jesus. Let them know that Jesus calls them friend, but only sign Jesus’ name.

Move
Nobody is looking. Sing I am a friend of God and dance!
Verse
Who am I that You are mindful of me, That You hear me when I call?
Is it true that You are thinking of me? How You love me! It’s amazing!

Chorus
I am a friend of God. I am a friend of God. I am a friend of God. He calls me friend!

Bridge
God Almighty Lord of glory You have called me friend

Create
Write a list of attributes of a friend. Consider how God has shown you that he is your friend. Consider also how you have (or have not) shown that you are God’s friend.

Nourish
Be a friend and share your meal with someone who may otherwise eat alone today.

Rest
Find 10 minutes to be still. Do nothing during this time. This is God’s time to renew you in mind, body and spirit.

Recreation
Find or remember a joke that makes you laugh. Go for a walk or ride with someone and share the joke. Laugh together.

Pray
That you would be a friend to those around you. Ask God to constantly show you who needs a friend.

Snacks
Have a special treat today and share one with someone else.

World Prayer.
Pray for the many who are feeling alone today.

Sleep
As you fall asleep tonight, be thankful that even if you have no one else in your home, you are not alone. Feel the presence of the Holy Spirit.

From morning until night, God wants us to worship and commune with Him. Start your day in His Word and then weave throughout the day these elements of devotion, worship, contemplation and service to others.

_______ “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”, Charles Converse, CFO Sings p 169. “I am a friend of God”, CCLI Song # 3991651, Israel Houghton | Michael Gungor, © 2003 Integrity’s Praise! Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing (IMI)), Sound Of The New Breed (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing (IMI)), Vertical Worship Songs (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing (IMI)), CCLI License # 283314

Life Lesson: October 23

23 Oct

Meditate
Read: John 3:16-21

Sing:  And Can It Be

Verse 1
And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood
Died He for me who caused His pain
For me who Him to death pursued
Amazing love How can it be
That Thou my God shouldst die for me
Amazing love How can it be
That Thou my God shouldst die for me.

Verse 2
He left His Father’s throne above
So free so infinite His grace
Emptied Himself of all but love
And bled for Adam’s helpless race
‘Tis mercy all immense and free
For O my God it found out me
Amazing love How can it be
That Thou my God shouldst die for me

Verse 3
Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray
I woke the dungeon flamed with light
My chains fell off my heart was free
I rose went forth and followed Thee
Amazing love How can it be
That Thou my God shouldst die for me

Verse 4
No condemnation now I dread
Jesus and all in Him is mine
Alive in Him my living head
And clothed in righteousness divine
Bold I approach th’eternal throne
And claim the crown through Christ my own
Amazing love How can it be
That Thou my God shouldst die for me

Message
            Are you certain you are going to be with Jesus for eternity? If you were to die tonight, would you see Jesus? These are important questions and unless you can answer a resounding. “YES!”, you need to get this worked out today. I asked this question of a woman one day and she answered, “Well, I hope so.” This is not a good answer. Yes, we have hope of eternity, but it should not be a wishful thinking kind of hope. It should not be like, “Well I hope the seatbelt holds if I have an accident.” Or “Well I hope I get the Christmas present I want this year.” When asked if we are going to spend eternity in heaven, our answer should sound more like, “Absolutely!”, “No doubt!”, or “Yes, and I am so thankful.”

If you are not able to answer this question without doubt, today is the day. You do not have to have all the answers, you do not need to be perfect, you do not need to have all your sin issues worked out and you do not need to change everything about yourself. Jesus does not list any of these things as requirements for salvation. He simply says that those who believe in him will have eternal life. Some of these other things will fall into place as you get to know God and his Word. Other stuff in life takes longer and may be a life long struggle, but Jesus does not give up on us.

If you have no doubt that you believe in Jesus and have accepted Jesus as your personal Savior, Praise God! Do not take this for granted.

Blessing
To celebrate your “born again birthday”. make or buy 6 cupcakes. Take 5 of them to the people that God brings to mind. Let them know what these are celebrating.

Move
Stretch today. Begin with your toes and work up to your head. Pay attention to every body part. Do not forget your knee caps, tummy muscles, and your ears.

Create
Get out your crayons and paper. Draw a depiction of your life before Christ. Turn your paper over and draw a depiction of your life after Salvation.

Nourish
Find someone to share a meal with and include communion.

Rest
Find 10 minutes to be still. Do nothing during this time. This is God’s time to renew you in mind, body and spirit.

Recreation
Do something that represents new life. Plant a flower, a tree, or something else that will live and grow.

Pray
Pray for those who do not know Jesus.

Snacks
Have the last cupcake for a snack. Put a candle in it and remember the day you were born again in Jesus.

World Prayer
Pray for those around the world that are being led astray by false religions.

Sleep
As you fall asleep, pray this prayer with a confident peace, “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.”

From morning until night, God wants us to worship and commune with Him. Start your day in His Word and then weave throughout the day these elements of devotion, worship, contemplation and service to others.
_______
“And Can It Be”, CCLI Song # 5252295, Charles Wesley | Don Chapman | Thomas Campbell, © 2002 Hearts to God Music, Inc., CCLI License # 283314

Life Lesson: October 16

16 Oct

Meditate
Read: Jeremiah 29:1 and 4-7

Sing: My Life Is In Your Hands

Verse 1
My life is in your hands.
My life is in your hands.
O, dear Father, My life is in your hands.

Verse 2 – My work is in your hands…..
Verse 3 – My friends are in your hands….
Verse 4 – My (fill in the blank) are in your hands…
Verse 5 – I leave them in your hands….

Message
            Jerusalem had been destroyed and the people had been taken away from all that they had loved and fought for. Their security and comfort had been replaced by uncertainty and fear. So what did God say to his people in their time of distress? He said, “Build houses and settle down, plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters, find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there, do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

When I am in distress, I want to hear God say, “Do not worry, I will rescue you within the next few minutes. You will not have to live like this and I will not allow you to be in discomfort for another moment. You and your children will live in safety and security forever. I will make the bad people who hurt you pay and they will know that you are someone special.” I would like to say that this is an exaggeration, but this sounds pretty close to how I have prayed in the past.

I see five things in Jeremiah’s letter from God: 1) Build houses and settle down, 2) Plant gardens and eat what they produce, 3) Marry and have sons and daughters, 4) Seek the peace and prosperity of the city, 5) Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.

In other words: 1) Get comfortable where you are, 2) You will need to fend for yourselves, 3) This will last a LONG time, 4) Pray for your enemies and the bad all around you, 5) Do not complain about where you are at, but thrive there.

So often, we are looking to get out of our wilderness. We want to have temptations and hurts just zapped away. We want the better job or house and we want our financial or relational situation changed today! God does not work that way. He walks us through life one step at a time. Just think, if God took us around life instead of through it, what kind of life would we have? What kind of character would we have? What kind of relationship would we have with him? Paul tells us in Romans 5:3b-5, “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” God is using everything (good and bad) in our lives to build us up in character and bring us closer to him.

Blessing
            Find someone in a difficult situation and bring them a small gift. It does not have to be big or expensive. It does not have to be purchased. Just something to make them smile and know that God is still with them.

Move
Sing and do motions for “My God Is So Great”. Do it until you are convinced.

My God is so great, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do.
My God is so great, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do.
The mountains are His. The rivers are His. The stars are His handiwork too.
My God is so great, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do.

Create
Draw a picture of God’s hands. Write the things, on the palms of his hands that you need to give up today. Once you have done this, hang the picture somewhere so you will see it frequently.

Nourish
Eat some plain white rice today. Remember those who would consider this a luxury meal.

Rest
Find 10 minutes to be still. Do nothing during this time. This is God’s time to renew you in mind, body and spirit.

Recreation
Ask God what you could do today for some fun. Do it!

Pray
Pray for those who do not know where there next meal will come from or where they will sleep tonight.

Snacks
Give up your snack and spend some extra time in prayer for those who did not have enough today.

World Prayer.
Pray for all of the missionaries who are away from home for the Kingdom of God.

Sleep
As you fall asleep, sing today’s song as you “tuck” all of your concerns into God’s hands for the night.

From morning until night, God wants us to worship and commune with Him. Start your day in His Word and then weave throughout the day these elements of devotion, worship, contemplation and service to others.

_______
“My Life Is In Your Hands”, CFO Sings, pg 179, Barbara Neighbors Deal.

“My God Is So Great”, CFO Sings, pg 178, Source unknown.

Life Lesson: October 9

9 Oct

Meditate: Read Jonah 2

Sing: It Is Well with My Soul

Chorus:   It is well with my soul. It is well, It is well with my soul. 

Verse 1
When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say
It is well. It is well with my soul

Verse 2
Tho’ Satan should buffet. Tho’ trials should come
Let this blest assurance control.
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate
And hath shed His own blood for my soul

Verse 3
My sin O the bliss of this glorious tho’t
My sin not in part but the whole
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord O my soul

Verse 4
And Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend
Even so it is well with my soul

Message
            How can this man, Horatio Spafford, write a song that basically says, “Even though life is hopeless and horrible, I am ok!” There have been times in my life when I was not ok. I was afraid, lost, alone, hurt, or angry. I was NOT ok! But today, I am ok. How can that be? It can be, because God is faithful. God gives grace to the lost and mercy to the suffering. God forgives and God gives hope. Horatio Spafford did not say, “It is well!” because life circumstances changed. He said, “It is well!” because God is good and nothing in this life is worth hanging on to except God. Horatio did not focus his attention on the sea billows, trials, and suffering around him, he turned his eyes to the one who pardoned all of his sin and promised to come again to take him to a better place.

Jonah was in the belly of the big fish when he prayed to God for help and mercy. He proclaimed “when my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord (vs7).” When all seemed lost, Jonah turned from his circumstances and grabbed hold of the only thing that mattered, God! My favorite verse in this chapter is verse 8. Jonah realizes and says, “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” Jonah discovered, just as Horatio Spafford discovered, there is nothing in this life that is more important than our relationship with God, through Jesus.

Jesus tells us, in Luke 14:26-27, that we must set everything else aside (even family) to be a disciple. Nothing can stand in the way of our relationship with Jesus. Then, no matter what happens once we pick up our cross and follow, we must keep focused on the most important thing. If we try to hang on to things in this life, we will forfeit the grace that God has for us.

Blessing
Go to the grocery store and pick up a few extra items that you can donate to a food pantry or take to someone in need.

Move
Sing: ‘Let Go, Let the Spirit Flow” and do some motions. Make your motions as big as you are able. Remember that we have some “worthless idols” that we need to let go of.

Let go, let the Spirit flow. (3x) 
Let go, and let God.

Additional verses: Clap you hands, raise your arms, lift your knees, etc.

Create
After some time in prayer, make a list of “worthless idols” to which you hold on. Next to the list, make a new list of where you have seen God’s grace in your life.

Nourish
Keep track of what you eat today. Are you getting a well-balanced diet?

Rest
Find 10 minutes to be still. Do nothing during this time. This is God’s time to renew you in mind, body and spirit.

Recreation
Swim today. If you are not able to swim, take a long hot bath. Enjoy the feeling of the water around you.

Pray
Rewrite Jonah’s prayer in your own words and in relation to your own life circumstances.

Snacks
Treat yourself to your favorite cookie.

World Prayer
Read the paper or watch the news. Jot down the first four situations you read or see. Take several minutes to pray for each one.

Sleep
Are you getting enough sleep? What can you do to improve your sleep time?

From morning until night, God wants us to worship and commune with Him. Start your day in His Word and then weave throughout the day these elements of devotion, worship, contemplation and service to others.

_______
“It Is Well with My Soul”, pg. 61 CFO Sings, H.G. Spafford & P.P. Bliss

“Let Go, Let the Spirit Flow”, pg. 262 CFO Sings, Frank Wilson & LaVerne Krull Caton

Life Lesson: October 2

2 Oct

Meditate: 
Read Psalm 136

Sing: Revelation Song

Verse 1
Worthy is the Lamb Who was slain, Holy holy is He.
Sing a new song To Him Who sits on Heaven’s mercy seat.

Chorus
Holy holy holy Is the Lord God Almighty.
Who was and is, And is to come.
With all creation I sing Praise to the King of kings.
You are my ev’rything, And I will adore You!

Verse 2
Clothed in rainbows of living color, Flashes of lightning.
Rolls of thunder, Blessing and honor, Strength and glory,
And power be to You, The only wise King!

Verse 3
Filled with wonder, Awestruck wonder, At the mention of Your name
Jesus Your name is power, Breath and living water.
Such a marv’lous mystery! yeah

Message
            Do you ever forget who God is? I do not mean that we forget that he is the Creator, but do you ever just take that for granted and treat him like a Magic Wand waiting to do your bidding? I know we all want to answer an emphatic, “No! Of course not!” Well, I know I do sometimes. I go to him (after I wake up) and after giving a cursory, “Thank you for this new day,” I then move into the needs and wants of my day. My prayers often sound like this, “Lord, Thank you for this day. I pray that Sally gets the help she needs and Joey does well on his test today. Lord, I am really busy today, so please help me with that.” I then get distracted by something and after checking the text that just came in on my phone, I continue. “Oh Lord, I still need help with that bill that I really can not afford and please help that lady (whose name I can’t remember) who said she has cancer.” Another text comes in and then the reminder on my calendar pops up to say my first appointment is at 9:00, so I finish up. “Lord, I have such a busy day. Please help me. I wish that I had more time to spend with you. Amen.”

I am certainly not suggesting that our prayers should be long and drawn out and praying for others is very important. Praying for ourselves is okay too, but it is important to consider our attitudes and focus when we are praying. In Matthew 6:5-8, Jesus tells us to go into our room and pray in secret. This means that all attention is given to God and that it is our intention to spend time in prayer, instead of fitting it in where we can. What if we spent time in a secret and quiet place, giving our total attention to God every day? What if we spent more time focusing on him that on ourselves, our problems, and our worries?

Today is a good day to turn my eyes upon Jesus and off of the world, my problems, my responsibilities, and me.

Blessing
Praying with someone can be a real blessing. Find someone who has nobody else to pray with and offer to spend 15-30 minutes with them in prayer. Take as long as you (or they) need.

Move
Sing and do the motions for “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” Repeat this several times until you are no longer distracted by anything but Him. Spend a few moments in quiet listening prayer.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus        (Begin with head down and begin to look up)

Look full in His wonderful face   (Continue raising your eyes and head and raise your hands)

And the things of earth              (Spread your arms out in front of you, moving them side to side)

Will grow strangely dim              (Sweep the things of the earth away)

In the light of His glory and grace (Bow in reverence and prayer)

Create
Take Psalm 136 and rewrite the first part of each verse using your own life experiences.

Nourish
If you are able, fast one meal and spend that time in prayer. If you are not able to give up food, eat lightly and use the rest of the time to pray.

Rest
Find 10 minutes to be still. Do nothing during this time. This is God’s time to renew you in mind, body and spirit.

Recreation
Get out and ride a bike today. If you do not have one and can not borrow one, at least take a walk.

Pray
Just praise God! Read through the Psalm you wrote and read through the song for today. Read the words out loud!

Snacks
If you did not fast for a meal today, try fasting your snack time. Spend the time in prayer.

World Prayer.
Pray for the leaders of the world.

Sleep
Go to bed a few minute early and give God those minutes in prayer.

From morning until night, God wants us to worship and commune with Him. Start your day in His Word and then weave throughout the day these elements of devotion, worship, contemplation and service to others.

_______

1. “Revelation Song” – CCLI Song # 4447960, Jennie Lee Riddle, © 2004 Gateway Create Publishing (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing (IMI)), CCLI License # 283314.  CCLI Song # 15960

2. “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” – Helen H. Lemmel, © Words: 1922 New Spring Music: 1922 New Spring, CCLI License # 283314

Life Lesson: Sept 25

25 Sep

Meditate
Read: Romans 1:1, 1 Corinthians 1:1, Philemon 1: “Paul, a servant, an apostle, a prisoner,  of Christ Jesus…”

Sing: Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)

Chorus
My chains are gone I’ve been set free,
My God my Savior has ransomed me.
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love amazing grace

Verse 1
Amazing grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now I’m found
Was blind but now I see

Verse 2
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

Verse 3
The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures

Verse 4
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God who called me here below
Will be forever mine, Will be forever mine
You are forever mine


Message
            I am a mother, a daughter, a wife, a grandmother, an aunt, a sister, an employee, a pastor, a worship leader, and I have many other titles. I probably would not, however, think to call myself servant or prisoner. I cherish my freedom and my independence. Along with many others, I celebrate Independence Day and I sing songs of thanksgiving for my freedoms. Sometimes I forget that although society allows me to say and do mostly whatever I want, I am not really free. I am in bondage to sin. As Paul says, there are things I should do that I do not and there are things I should not do that I do! It seems that I should be in control of my thoughts and actions, but there are times that I do not seem to have any self-control. I am in bondage to the evil that controls my heart.

There is good news though! Jesus came to break the bondage that holds us as slaves to sin which leads to death. We can be confident that Jesus Christ came to set us free. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free (Galatians 5:1a).” Why then do we continue to hold so tightly to the chains that have been broken by Jesus? Paul encourages us to “Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1b).”

So, if we have freedom in Christ, why does Paul call himself a slave and a prisoner? As slaves of Jesus, we are actually free. We no longer have to live in the sin that so easily entangles us. We no longer have to align with the world that puts pressure on us to be a certain way or think certain things. We are free to be the new and transformed people that God created us to be.

I often need to be reminded, but I know that I do not have to be a slave to the world, but I can be free in bondage to Christ and be all he wants me to be.

Blessing
Send a note to an expectant Father. Write a prayer of blessing for him and this new title that God has for him.

Move
Play some music and dance. Be thankful that God has freed you to dance for him!

Create
Consider the descriptions used by Paul to describe his relationship with Jesus. Make a list of names that might describe your relationship with Jesus.

Nourish
Try a new recipe today. If you generally eat alone, share your meal with someone.

Rest
Find 10 minutes to be still. Do nothing during this time. This is God’s time to renew you in mind, body and spirit.

Recreation
Visit the local humane society and play with the animals.

Pray
Ask God to show you how to live into the titles that you discovered during your creative time. Be sure to have a time of listening prayer and journal what you hear.

Snacks
Have some ice cream. You are free, but you do not have to overdo it.

World Prayer.
Pray for those who are in physical bondage. Pray for those in prisons or in some other form of physical captivity.

Sleep
As you go to sleep, be thankful for the freedom you have.

From morning until night, God wants us to worship and commune with Him. Start your day in His Word and then weave throughout the day these elements of devotion, worship, contemplation and service to others.

_______
“Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)”, CCLI Song # 4768151, Chris Tomlin | John Newton | Louie Giglio © 2006 worshiptogether.com songs (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing), sixsteps Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing), Vamos Publishing (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing), CCLI License # 283314

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