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Life Lesson: May 29

29 May

Are you in the boat or on the shore?

Meditate
Read John 1:43-51

Sing
Trust and Obey

Verse 1
When we walk with the Lord
In the light of His Word
What a glory He sheds on our way
While we do His good will
He abides with us still
And with all who will trust and obey

Chorus 
Trust and obey
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus
But to trust and obey

Verse 2
Not a shadow can rise
Not a cloud in the skies
But His smile quickly drives it away
Not a doubt nor a fear
Not a sigh nor a tear
Can abide while we trust and obey

Verse 3
Not a burden we bear
Not a sorrow we share
But our toil He doth richly repay
Not a grief nor a loss
Not a frown nor a cross
But is blessed if we trust and obey

Verse 4
But we never can prove
The delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay
For the favor He shows
And the joy He bestows
Are for those who will trust and obey

Verse 5
Then in fellowship sweet
We will sit at His feet
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way
What He says we will do
Where He sends we will go
Never fear only trust and obey

Message
There is a song that is familiar to some and includes the line, “In the sand, I am leaving my sailboat.” In Scripture, Jesus is calling his disciples. He is calling them swiftly and permanently out of the lives they are leading. I don’t know much about these men. Several were fishermen, but I don’t know what their favorite color was or who they might go out of their way to sit by. I don’t know who told which kind of jokes. They seem like cardboard characters, easily moved, like game pieces on a Monopoly board. But they were real people. Surely they lived in full color, with sights, smells and sounds, just like I do.

My life, as full as it seems, is still a small boat. I’ve been called to follow Jesus and I answer that call in many avenues of prayer, love and service. Still, he calls me to more. I can not even dream up the other shores I will see as I continue to follow. Like the disciples on the shores of Galilee, I get to leave it all and see what new visions he shows me. To quote John Greenleaf Whittier, “In simple trust, like theirs who heard beside the Syrian Sea, the gracious calling of the Lord, let us, like them, without a word rise up and follow Thee.”

Jesus, I want to stop complicating everything and simply follow you. I want to get onto the Kingdom ship and take the adventure that comes.

Blessing
Bless someone who needs a ride, an errand run, or groceries picked up. Do not wait for them to ask. Call and let them know you are available.

Move
Sing and do the motions for the song Over and Over

Over and over, like a mighty sea
Comes the love of Jesus flowing over me
Over the sea, over the sea, Jesus Savior pilot me
Over the sea, over the sea, Savior pilot me

Create
Create a gratitude board. List all the things you are grateful for which God has given you and that you do not have to leave behind in this world.

Nourish
Eat in a public place and pray for your meal as well as the people around you.

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 someone who will agree to start today and walk with you for 30 minute a day for one week.

Pray
Pray for people who have lost belongings in flood, fire, divorce, job loss, etc. Pray God’s infilling of peace, love and hope into these lives. Pray that these people will be filled with the things of God and not just of this world.

Snacks
Skip the snack today and pray for those who do not know where their next meal is coming from.

World Prayer
Pray for sailors, using the Navy Hymn, Eternal Father, Strong to Save

Verse 1
Eternal Father strong to save
Whose arm doth bind the restless wave
Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep
O hear us when we cry to thee
For those in peril on the sea

Verse 2
O Saviour whose almighty word
The winds and waves submissive heard
Who walked on the foaming deep
And calm amid its rage didst sleep
O hear us when we cry to thee
For those in peril on the sea

Verse 3
O sacred Spirit who didst brood
Upon the waters dark and rude
And bid their angry tumult cease
And give for wild confusion peace
O hear us when we cry to thee
For those in peril on the sea

Verse 4
O Trinity of love and pow’r
Our brethren shield in danger’s hour
From rock and tempest fire and foe
Protect them whereso’er they go
And ever let there rise to thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea

Sleep
As you drift off tonight, feel the bed and blankets around you and picture God’s arms holding you. Rest in thankfulness for His love.

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:
1) “Trust and Obey” CCLI Song # 22094, Daniel Brink Towner | Rev. John Henry Sammis, Public Domain, All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI License # 283314; 2) “Over and Over” CFO Sings pg 289; 3) “Eternal Father, Strong to Save”, CCLI Song # 115183, John Bacchus Dykes | William Whiting, Public Domain,  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com, CCLI License # 283314

Life Lesson: March 6

6 Mar

Are you living with fear? Has your situation become bigger than you can handle?

Meditate

Read Jonah 2

Sing
Not a Spirit of Fear

The Lord has not given us a spirit of fear
but of love and of power and a sound mind.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus
Which was also in Christ Jesus.
Which was also in Christ Jesus.

The Lord has not given us a spirit of fear
but of love and of power and a sound mind.
There is no fear in love.
Perfect love casts out fear.
Perfect love casts out fear.
Perfect love casts out fear.

The Lord has not given us a spirit of fear
but of love and of power and a sound mind.

Message
Jonah had reason to fear. He had run away from God. He willfully disobeyed God. Now he finds himself in a dark, damp and cold place. He was alone and had no idea what would come next. Instead of giving over to fear, he called out to the one who knows him best and loved him anyway. There was a time in my life when I found myself alone and afraid. I remember sitting in the corner crying in hopelessness. My husband was gone and my kids needed me. I was facing an unknown future and I could not imagine how I would survive. It was like a light-bulb coming on when I remembered that God was bigger than this and that he was not surprised by my situation. He was not only ready for it, he had prepared me for this very moment. I began singing an old CFO song called “I Will Not Be Afraid” and God turned my fear turned into strength by His love. Sometimes, we try to get through difficult situations on our own and sometimes we find it easier to remain in difficulty rather than doing a hard thing and making life better. We do this because we hang on to pride, fear, stubbornness, control, comfort of the familiar, and many other “reasons”. These reasons for not crying out to God become idols and we hang on as if they can give us life. Jonah recognized the result of hanging on to these idols: “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them (Jonah 2:8).” Let go and let God have his way in your life. Let go of fear, pride, control, and any other seaweed that is holding us in the belly of the fish.

Blessing
Is there someone you know who is afraid? Send them this message as an encouragement. Offer to pray for them in their situation.

Move
March around while proclaiming: “I will not be afraid! I will not be afraid! I will look upward and travel onward, and I’m not afraid!” Get your heart rate up because of conviction instead of fear. (Use the other verses on pg 101 of CFO Sings if you have it available.)

Create
Get a piece of paper and a writing utensil. Ask God to help you make a list of what makes you afraid. Pray for God’s love to be a greater force in your life than those fears and then destroy the list.

Nourish
Make sure you are praying before each 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
Go to the store and buy a flower. Just a simple carnation would do. Take the flower to someone who might be feeling alone and afraid. Spend a few minutes visiting with them.

Pray
Pray Jonah’s prayer a couple of times and then quietly listen to God. Journal what you hear.

Snacks
Skip your snack tonight and remember those who do not have enough to eat.

World Prayer
Pray for those who live in fear and do not know the love of God.

Sleep
As you fall asleep, be thankful that God has you in the palm of his hand.

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:
Not a Spirit of Fear, Ordelphia Nelson, CFO Sings, pg 308

Life Lesson: January 9

9 Jan

Meditate: Read Exodus 14:1-3.

‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are our ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.  Isaiah 55:8

Sing
My life is in you Lord.
My strength is in you Lord.
My hope is in you Lord.
In you, it’s in you!
I will praise you with all of my life.
I will praise you with all of my strength.
With all of my life, with all of my strength, all of my hope is in you.

Message
God, what are you doing? Turn back? Camp here? Did the Israelites question God’s directions? Did they understand what he was doing?   We needed to leave for my daughter’s ball game and that’s when I cut my hand. It was clear that I would need stitches. We went to the hospital and minutes turned into hours. What was taking so long? We needed to get to Erin’s game. Finally we were done, but it was too late for the game and we just headed home. I was disappointed and did not understand why God did not answer my prayers to get us to the game. When we arrived home the reasons were clear. The game had been canceled due to rain. Rain we were not getting at the hospital or at home. God was actually watching out for us and save us a 90 mile round trip to a canceled game.

When will I learn that God knows best?

Blessing
Randomly give away the 3×5 cards you will write today (see Pray section). Leave them for a waitress or give them to the cab driver. Leave one for your mailman.

Move 

My Lord know the way through the wilderness, all I have to do is follow. My Lord knows the way through the wilderness, all I have to do is follow. Strength for today is mine always. My Lord know the way through the wilderness, all I have to do is follow.

Create
Plant a flower, bush or tree.

Nourish
Eat something with whole grains 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
Sit on your porch with a song book. See how far you can get, singing through it. Start at the back of the book this time.

Pray
Write out prayers of blessing on 3×5 cards. Write what God lays on your heart. You do not know who these are for.

Snack
Each a fresh vegetable you have never eaten before.

World Prayer
Pray for the Jewish people of the world who do not yet know Jesus as the Messiah.

Sleep
Go to bed an extra 15 minutes early, if you have been feeling tired.

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.

——————————

LYRIC CREDIT:
From “My Life is in You Lord” © 1986 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music Daniel Gardner. CCLI#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

Life Lesson: Sept 18

18 Sep

Meditate: Read Isaiah 51

Sing: Therefore the Redeemed

Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return
And come with singing unto Zion,
And everlasting joy shall be upon their heads. (repeat)

They shall attain gladness and joy,
And sorrow and mourning shall flee away.

Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return
And come with singing unto Zion,
And everlasting joy shall be upon their heads.

Message

There are times when I feel sad or depressed. There may be a situation that brings on these feelings or it may be something I cannot put my finger on. When these times come, whether justified or not, the enemy tries to tell me that my faith is shaken or I do not put enough trust in God. If I listen to this voice, it drives me further and further into the negative feelings and the vicious circle continues.

It is times like this that I need to spend less time trying to identify, justify or explain my emotions and turn to God, my shield and the lifter of my head (Ps 3:3). It is God who will rescue me or shield me or comfort me. God will never shame me or condemn me for the emotions that I feel.

Isaiah tells us that the redeemed of the Lord (that’s us) shall receive gladness and joy and that our sorrow and mourning shall flee away. It tells us that we will have everlasting joy upon our heads and that this joy comes from the Father.

We can not just make our negative feelings go away by saying we should not feel this way and it will not make it better to have someone else tell us our feelings are wrong. What will make things better is to acknowledge that we feel this way (for whatever reason) and lean in closer to God. Acknowledge that we have been redeemed, that we belong to him, and that we can trust him to rescue us. In these times, read the Scripture, pray, meditate, and practice the various “prayer” activities we have learned in CFO. In this way, God will liberate us from despair, anxiety, fear, sadness or depression.

Blessing
Seek someone out that may be experiencing negative emotion and bring them a flower. Let them know that the flower represents the love of God in this time. 

Move
Sing and do motions for Deep and Wide. Remember that you can never go so far as to get away from the love of God.

Deep and wide. Deep and wide. There’s a fountain flowing deep and wide. (repeat)

Create
Get out your crayons and draw a picture of your emotions right now. Ask God if there is something he wants to show you in this picture.

Nourish
Remember that what we eat can have an impact on how we feel. Choose your food well.

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
Dance

Pray
Pray through the UPT prayer list. If you do not get this list, contact Carolyn Miller to begin getting it. www.unitedprayertower.org

Snacks
Try a spice you have never had before.

World Prayer
Pray for those who feel hopeless.

Sleep
Just sense the presence of God as you fall asleep. If you do not seem to feel him, begin to quietly whisper, “Come Lord Jesus.”

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.

_______
“Therefore the Redeemed”, Ruth Lake, pg 136, CFO Sings.

“Deep and Wide”, Har. Herbert G Tovey, pg 141, CFO Sings

Prayer and Prayer Groups

1 Aug

Prayer is the center of CFO. Everything we do should be done in prayer. Every part of our day should be spent in prayer. Prayer groups in CFO are the times we gather with a few others in silence, in praise and in prayer for the needs of each person. This is not a time to fix a person’s problems or give advice. It is a time to pray.

Do not be afraid of silence. It is not necessary for someone to be speaking at all times. Do not hesitate to share your needs but keep your story short and current. Since there is a limited time, we want to make sure everyone has a chance to share and we have adequate time to pray. A good rule of thumb is to spend more time praying than talking. A prayer group is a safe place. This is a place where we should be able to speak freely and openly about whatever is on our heart. What people share in a prayer group should be kept in complete confidence and never mentioned outside the group.

Webster calls prayer an address to God in word or thought. “An address” sounds a bit impersonal. I like to think of it in a variety of ways. Sometimes, we talk to God with the realization that he is the Creator of the Universe and we are greatly humbled. Sometimes we approach God as our only source of provision and as our only hope. It is as if we are on our face as a poor man looking for a meal. Then there are those days when we curl up in Abba’s lap and pour out our heart to him as our Daddy, our Father.

1 Peter 4:7-8 says, The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to, Pray continually.  Jesus told the disciples to Watch and pray so you do not fall into temptation. and Ephesians 6:18 says, Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.

The application here is pretty clear. We are called to pray in all ways at all times, as if our lives depend on it.
Our lives should be a constant prayer.

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