Feed Yourself First

Few people have learned to listen to God through His Word as well as George Muller. At age 35, Muller made a transforming discovery regarding his daily quiet time. "I saw more clearly than ever that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished."

Before this discovery, Muller habitually had begun his morning devotions with prayer and would spend almost all of his time until breakfast in prayer. But what was the result? His mind often wandered for the first 15 to 30 minutes.

Then Muller discovered that the most important thing he had to do was to listen to God speak through the Word. He began each morning by asking the Lord's blessing upon His Word. Then he read and meditated, searching every verse for blessing-not for the sake of finding something to share with others, but for the sake of finding God's message to him.

Muller observed that we are apt to read the Word thinking of others' needs rather than pondering it for ourselves. "Read the Word of God always with reference to your own heart, and when you have received the blessing in your own heart, you will be able to communicate it to others."

Muller turned the words into prayer for himself or others. As confession, thanksgiving or intercession mingled with his meditation, his inner man almost invariably was nourished. With rare exceptions, by breakfast time he was in a peaceful, if not happy, state of heart.

No doubt his feeding on the Word strengthened his faith to feed the 10,024 orphans in the orphanage he directed.

Dear Jesus, may food for myself be the object of my Bible reading.

"Happy is the person who finds wisdom and gains understanding. Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her" (Proverbs 3:13, 15 NLT).

Aletha

Open Heart Open Home

Our houseguest had a close relative in town who told me he would be honored to have our guest stay with them. After several days, I began to wonder why the guest didn't go stay with his relative.

I remembered that God's Word instructs me to show hospitality without grumbling. And that means not to grumble in my thoughts, too.

So I prayed, "Okay, Lord, since You know my thoughts, I guard my thoughts and spirit. I will welcome him." And I did.

The next morning I was again tempted to feel resentful of this guest who I felt should be staying with his relative. I slipped out of the house to a quiet place and said, "Lord, all I care about is Your approval and Your smile on my attitude. Thank You for Your grace."

I walked back into the house at peace with whatever God allowed. To my surprise, that morning the guest announced he was leaving.

God is in control of our guest list; he guards their coming in and going out. If I trust Him to protect my schedule, He will when I respond in obedience by guarding my attitude.

Thank You, Jesus, for not letting me get by with a wrong spirit and for giving grace to be hospitable.

"When God's children are in need, be the one to help them out. And get into the habit of inviting guests home for dinner or, if they need lodging, for the night" (Romans 12:13 NLT).

"Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling" (1 Peter 4:9).


 

Aletha

One Man's Burden Is Changing a Nation

 

Pastor Nakov in Macedonia attended a conference in 2013 in Turkey. His heart ached when he saw many mosques in contrast with early Christian ruins. He wondered "Why is Islam flourishing?" and "What happened to the gospel witness?"

He returned home and during the night he sensed the Holy Spirit's presence. The Spirit asked him piercing questions that showed him he was not praying much, nor was his church. He was ashamed and convicted. He saw that the Imams were rising to pray earlier that he was.

He wept as he saw just how much they were playing church, and he asked God to change him.

The next Sunday he issued a call to prayer. They started with just one or two, then six. Finally about half the church responded. They were praying corporately and God was responding. Then pastors began praying together.
Now they are seeing answers as they pray not only for their own church but also for their nation to be in unity with others in the Balkans. Last year the Serbian president publicly asked for forgiveness for Serbia's past violence and bloodshed. Bulgarian officials have asked for forgiveness from its citizens of Turkish nationality who were expelled from their homes decades earlier.

"All of Europe needs to come before God and repent for the preaching of a cheap gospel that does not change lives; it is no gospel," said Pastor Nakov. "We in the Church must repent, ask forgiveness, and experience reconciliation. We now want only God's presence and His power to flow in us and through us."*

One pastor who asked God to change his own prayer life and who called his church to corporate prayer is changing his nation! God works when one leader obeys!  God is still looking for just one person who will take the lead.

Dear Jesus, please allow us to see our potential influence to turn our nation back to You.

"Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her squares. If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city" (Jer. 5:1).

* Adapted from the July-August 2014 First Friday Prayer Letter
 

Aletha

Living the Best Life

 

When Paul said, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live," we would have expected him to have said, "I am crucified...and I am dead."
Instead, he said, "I am crucified," and then added, "and the life I live...."
When we are crucified with Christ, there is an "I" that died but also an "I" that lives.

The "I" that died wanted to please self-
            the "I" that lives wants to please God
The "I" that died loved to be leader-
            the "I" that lives wants to be servant
The "I" that died wanted to be noticed-
            the "I" that lives wants God to receive glory
The "I" that died was full of self-
            the "I" that lives is emptied of all but Christ.

Christ said, "I will come and live My life through you. Others will look at you and see Me!" But believers who have not been crucified with Christ find themselves unable to say with Jesus, "I seek not to do my own will." Before we can say those words and mean them as truly as He did, we must die to our own desires.

Thank You, Jesus, that Paul taught us that it is possible to experience the glorious freedom of living crucified.

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20).
"Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires" (Galatians 5:24).

Aletha

But What if He Doesn't Answer?

 

One morning when I tried to print labels my printer would not work. It is getting old, so I feared it might have quit for good. Someone would soon arrive to begin putting the labels on letters, so I felt the pressure of getting the labels printed quickly.

I called my son and asked him what to do. He suggested I restart the printer which I had already tried. I hung up the phone and remembered that when the Israelites had been in the desert "they lacked nothing." I rested in the knowledge that I, too, would lack nothing. Whether the printer ever started again or not, I would "lack nothing." In some way God would provide.

I again turned it off and then on and it started. I redialed my son and told him I wanted him to hear a beautiful noise-my printer. "What did you do?" he asked.

"What you suggested and then I, well, I rested."

But what if the printer had not started? Things do not always work out as we hope.

Sometimes to strengthen my faith, I envision how God might answer my prayer. Then I ask myself, "What if none of those things happen? What if God's answer does not look the way I think is best because He has something higher in mind? Will my faith remain?"

Only when I know I will continually believe God no matter the apparent or immediate outcome, is my faith in God. Before that, my faith is dependent upon circumstances.

Sometimes I do sort of a "test run" for my faith by asking, "Am I looking only to Him? Am I trusting Him to bring about His highest plan in the way He chooses even if His higher ways don't appear to be the right answer from my limited perspective?"

Thank You, Lord, that Your ideas of how to answer my prayers are better than mine.

Aletha

You Think You'll Never Forget

 

I love the lines Lewis Carroll wrote in Alice in Wonderland: "The horror of that moment," the King went on, "I shall never, never forget!"
"You will, though," the Queen said, "if you don't make a memorandum of it."

That's true. Someone quipped, "The stubbiest pencil has a better memory than the most brilliant mind." I have thought, I'll never forget this great idea! and the next day-or even five minutes later-it can have completely evaporated.

The old-timers had a saying, "Fear the passing of Jesus." The Living Word passes by, giving us glimpses of truth and fresh insights. We can allow the ideas we find when we read scripture to be fleeting, or we can latch on to the truth, write it down, and make it a part of our thinking and living.

Failing to record insights and going away and forgetting them is like the man who finds a pearl, admires it, tosses it down, and continues on his way. Our insights are like jewels we find. Are we going to pick them up, admire them, then toss them down or put them in a treasure chest so we can go back later and admire them? When we "fear the passing of Truth," we invest in notebooks to store our treasures. These notebooks filled with reflections of Christ become as priceless as a family photo album. God intends for us to guard His teachings in the same way He guards His people. He keeps those He loves "as the apple of his eye" (Deuteronomy 32:10). Then in Proverbs we're instructed, "Guard my teachings as the apple of your eye" (7:2). The apple is the pupil or the center of the eye. In some versions the phrase is translated "most precious possession." While we love to know God carefully guards us, we can remember that He has asked us to also give that careful consideration to what He gives us in His Word.

Dear Jesus, I want You to be pleased with the way I receive and store up what You give me when I read Your Word.

"Wise men lay up knowledge" (Proverbs 10:14).

Aletha

Bev's List Changed Her

My friend Bev told me that about a week after her mother's going to Heaven she was thinking of how carefully God had orchestrated the events around her mother's death. I wonder if I can think of 100 things to thank God for regarding mother's passing away, she thought. She began writing.

Bev said, "I thanked Him that mother didn't have to suffer long, that I was able to be with her when she went to be with the Lord, for the perfect timing, and that the funeral didn't interfere with the family wedding planned for the next weekend."

To her amazement, ideas kept coming until she had listed over 130 ways God's goodness had surrounded that sad time. Bev said that although she misses her mother, the deep sense of grief left during that time of praise.

The praise we offer in the hard times must thrill our Heavenly Father. Although God is present everywhere, He is actively present where joyful praise exists. "But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel" (Psalm 22:3 KJV). "Judah (praise) was his sanctuary (dwelling place)" (Psalm 114:2).

Dear Lord, thank You for always being present when there is joyful praise.

"I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth" (Psalm 34:1). 

Aletha

Love Really Does Cover a Multitude of Sins

 

As Teri was reading in 1 Peter 4, she came across this verse: "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins." She stopped reading and pondered that simple statement.

"How would that work?" she wondered. We aren't supposed to cover up sins, are we? Perplexed, she prayed for wisdom.

Several days later she went to pick up her daughter at a nursery. The man ahead of the line was very loud and rude to the woman behind the counter.
She felt sorry for the woman. Then she was surprised when the woman behind the counter was cranky to the poor man who was now at the head of the line.

After the woman shoved the man's child at him, I began to feel sorry for myself and my daughter. I was next, and her angry face told me that I wasn't going to get any better treatment than the fellow ahead of me received.

I had only seconds before facing this angry care giver, so I prayed a frantic, desperate "I need help NOW, Lord."

Help came--but only in my mind. In a flash, I no longer saw the woman's anger, but that she was tired. Tired of trying to get through the day. Tired of running in place. I saw that the Lord loved her and wanted to gather her in His marvelous arms and comfort her.

I still wasn't quite sure what to do, but before she could say anything, I took a deep breath, stepped to the counter, and quietly said, "My, you have had a tough day today haven't you?"

Not exactly earth-shaking or particularly eloquent words, but they seemed to have an impact. I watched as her angry face relaxed and her body seemed to shrink. She leaned on the counter and rested her chin on her hand and wearily said, "You have no idea."

For the next minute or two, she vented and I sympathized. Finally, I patted her on the hand, and said, "God bless you. I'll pray for you."

"Thank you. I need it," she said and went to get my daughter.

While I was waiting, the verse that had perplexed me in 1 Peter came to mind. I could feel myself grinning. God had answered my prayer for wisdom about that verse by giving me an object lesson.

Holding my daughter's hand, I turned to walk away. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the lady behind the counter smile and I heard her say sweetly to the next person, "May I see your I.D.? Please sign your name on the line marked, and I will get your children for you."

"Yes, it's true," I thought, "God's love poured into us and flowing out of us, has a way of covering, even putting a halt to a multitude of sins."

Aletha

He Blew Their Opportunity

 

A mother emailed the following true account. "In 1995, my stepson spent 30 days in jail for an accident. He was 18. The jail broke that rebellious boy, and when he returned home, he said he would go to church with us. We had moved to a new town, so it was a time when he could renew his life both in life and in a new church.

"It was Christmas time, and on Christmas Eve, we attended a new church. My stepson wore jeans, a nice tea shirt, and a ball cap. His hair was longish, but clean. A few minutes after we sat down, an usher came to my stepson. He pointed his finger in his face and said, 'Take that cap off or get out.' My husband, son and I stood up and walked out.

"My husband and son went on out the door, but I stopped when I saw the pastor and the ushers in a small room holding hands and praying. I stepped inside, waited and when they finished, I said, 'You really blew it tonight.' After I'd explained, the pastor apologized and asked me please to stay.  He told an associate to go ahead and start the service, and he came out and talked with my husband and son. We chose not to go back inside. But the pastor understood.

"By the way, we chose another church, one that fit us. My stepson wore jeans and tea shirts and that hated ball cap to church and no one said a word. They welcomed him. Showed love to him and it made a huge difference in his life. I hope the first pastor and his church learned something positive through their error. I'm so glad the second pastor was gracious.

"How we treat others in church, no matter-what they wear, their race or their sexual orientation-can make a difference in their spiritual life. Let's love with with the love of Christ."

Please, Jesus, don't let us fail to love those You died for.

"Love...always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres" (1 Cor. 13:7).

Aletha

We're His Resting Place!

 

When discussing Ephesians 3:16, 17 (the verses below), Dr. Roger Hahn illustrated what it means for God to dwell in our hearts using the following incident. When he and his wife Dorothy pastored in Florida, Dorothy told some overnight guests, "Make yourselves at home."

The next morning when the Hahns entered the living room, one of their guests was up and sitting comfortably with his feet on the coffee table.
The guest's wife said, "Oh, honey, don't put your feet there," to which he replied, "Dorothy said for me to make myself at home."

"That is what it means for Christ to dwell in us," Dr. Hahn said. "He is free to come in and be at home in us."

If God is at home within us, He is free to do what He wants. He may want to write someone an encouraging note or to give someone a hug or to send a check to a single mom. He may want to give us a spirit of prayer while we are driving to work. If He is at home within us, we respond to His inner promptings to love rather than criticize, to forgive rather than remember a wrong.

To be in us was His passion--He longed for us to be His resting place. Consider the significance of Jesus' final words in His last recorded prayer on earth: "That I myself may be in them" (John 17:26).

Dear Jesus, I long for You to be at home within me no matter what comes my way today.

"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith" (Ephesians 3:16, 17 NIV).

Aletha

Christ Is With Us

We heard a seminary professor tell ways he finds to make himself aware that Jesus' actual presence is with him. When he has his devotions, he places an empty chair beside him and invites Jesus to sit by his side. When he gets into his truck to go to class, he makes certain there is a seat for Jesus. Once in the classroom, he welcomes Jesus to be near him.

St. Patrick's prayer reminds us of the times and ways the Lord wants to be with us through our day.

As I arise today,
may the strength of God pilot me,
the power of God uphold me,
the wisdom of God guide me.
May the eye of God look before me,
the ear of God hear me,
the word of God speak for me.
May the hand of God protect me,
the way of God lie before me,
the shield of God defend me,
the host of God save me.
May Christ shield me today.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit,
Christ when I stand,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

"I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel" (Psalm 73:23-24).

How Big Is Your Burden?

 

Today's devotional is taken from the book A Call to America by Nancy Jesudass.

Revivalist Dr. Ronnie Floyd made this statement: "Revival begins with a burden. How big is your burden?"

God gave the prophet Jeremiah a burden. God told him that Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, would come and destroy the temple in Jerusalem and take the king of Judah and the people to Babylon as exiles. God said they must submit themselves to King Nebuchadnezzar.

Prophet Jeremiah went through tremendous sufferings for carrying God's message to His people. Both king and people rebelled. Jeremiah said, "I was like a lamb being led to the slaughter" (Jeremiah 11:19).

Jeremiah wept day and night over the people's sins. He said, "Streams of tears flow from my eyes because my people are destroyed" (Lamentations 3:48). 

The more I read Jeremiah and Lamentations, the more I identify America with Israel. My heart burns within me. "Since my people are crushed, I am crushed" (Jeremiah 8:21).

Leonard Ravenhill, in his book America Is too Young to Die, said, "What is it that is missing from our churches? To use the Old Testament term, it is the burden of the Lord."

Dr. Kinlaw, in his book The Mind of Christ, wrote, "Apart from the Holy Spirit, you and I are too self-centered ever to care about anyone other than ourselves. If that burden for the lost ever stirs up within us, it did not start with us. It is the work of the Spirit of Jesus saying: 'Will you help me bear My burden?' If we say 'Yes' to Him and take that burden into our hearts, we will find ourselves doing what Paul talked about when he spoke of entering into the sufferings of Christ."

Oh, may God help us. We must bring this nation back to God at any cost. We must save the future generations. If we fail to repent, we will lose our future generations to more broken families, pornography, violence, immorality and sodomization. America will no longer be great among the nations.

Listen to the agony of God's heart through the prophet Hosea (11:8 NLT): "Oh, how can I give you up Israel?  How can I let you go? [America] How can I destroy you? My heart is torn within me and my compassion overflows."

Hear the prophet Jeremiah lamenting: "Rise during the night and cry out" (Lamentations 2:19).

Oh, may the Holy Spirit move mightily in our churches so that our neighbors may see the fire of the Spirit. May they run to us and ask how to be saved. Oh, may we be like the New Testament Christians!

The Power of Intercessory Prayer

 

Today our nation is observing National Day of Prayer. In honor of this day, this week's devotionals are taken from the book A Call to America by Nancy Jesudass, a speaker at Come to the Fire.

The revivalist Leonard Ravenhill saw the spiraling downfall of this nation, and in 1979, he wrote the book America Is too Young to Die. He is right. That time has come. We are, as a nation, at the point of death. Yes, we are dying as a nation!

I'm one of the millions from a poor and an oppressed nation who came to America to find refuge because I heard that God blessed America more than any other nation on earth. But now, where can the needy nations find such refuge?

The moral life of our nation is collapsing! God needs a Mordecai and an Esther. God does not need a famous preacher like Jonah who was full of self-focus and wanted to serve God in His own way.
Mordecai said to Esther, "Who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14). Esther took this burden seriously upon herself! All of the Jews fasted for her. She and her maids also fasted three days without food or water.

With courage and confidence, Esther went to the court of the king. "When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter" (Esther 5:2).

Oh, what a moment! A moment that forever changed history!

The beauty of Esther attracted the king so much that he forgot she had broken the law! That is how attractive we are to be in the sight of God when pleading for our nation. The lover in Song of Songs exclaimed toward His beloved: "You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you. You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride" (Song of Solomon 4:7, 9).

When God looks at us that is how He feels about us when we are sharing His burden!

The king then asked Queen Esther, "What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you" (Esther 5:3). If you read through the story, you will find Esther got much more than half the kingdom.

Jesus, our King, says a similar thing to us: "And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it" (John 14:13-14).

The glory of the Father must be our passion, our aim, and the end of our prayer.

God Wants to Show Mercy

 

This week our nation will observe National Day of Prayer. In honor of that day, this week's devotionals are excerpts taken from the book A Call to America by Nancy Jesudass.

"Once again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord . . . Again the Israelites cried out to the Lord, and He gave them a deliverer" (Judges 3:12, 15).

God is ready to deliver us if we cry out to Him in brokenness and repentance.

One night in a dream I saw a long line of teenagers, and suddenly I became fully awake. I wondered what this meant.

The words came to me, "These young ones are going into exile."

"Exile?" I questioned.

And the voice repeated, "Yes, they are sent into exile every day." I thought about the word "exile." This is like God's people in the Old Testament when they continued in their sins and no longer cried out to God. They chose to trust in their own wisdom and knowledge and so were sent to Babylon to live in exile as captives under the rule of the ungodly.

I could not sleep any longer. I began to cry out to God for His mercy, His intervention, and His forgiveness. We have consciously or unconsciously allowed these young ones to suffer and to go astray. "My children have no future because the enemy has conquered us" (Lamentations 1:16 NLT).

The glory of God is no longer upon us. The nations around us seem to ask, "Where is your God?"

Within my spirit I can hear the lost around me crying out to us, the church, like the people of Nineveh cried out to Jonah: "How can you sleep? Get up and call on your God. Maybe He will take notice of us, and we will not perish" (Jonah 1:6). The Bible says that when the people in Nineveh cried to the Lord, the Lord saved that wicked nation because of their humility and repentant hearts.

I urge you to begin a prayer group or join an existing group in your church. Mobilize corporate prayer where you work or in your neighborhood. God is calling us to fast and pray, not just pray. Let us cry out for the future of the nation to our Father, who is the "forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love" (Nehemiah 9:17). Oh, how the next generation of this nation so desperately needs to be rescued from the hand of the enemies!

Who Will Intercede for America?

This week our nation will observe National Day of Prayer. In honor of that day, this week's devotionals are excerpts taken from the book A Call to America by Nancy Jesudass.

I came to America from Vietnam in 1970 admiring the glory of God upon this great nation. I rejoiced and enjoyed America's many blessings.

However, as years passed, especially in the late 80's, I began to notice America's moral decay and the spiritual downfall slowly gripping this lovely land. I grieved deeply and shed many tears as I painfully watched its decline.

One day in early 1991, while praying and walking, suddenly I heard a voice, not audible but loud and clear, from within me. "Nancy, are you willing to give up your part-time job and your church activities to go into full-time intercession? I'm calling you to be an intercessor, especially focused on revival in America. Are you willing?"

I stood in awe of God's presence; I was speechless. I felt so utterly unworthy. God's voice sounded so clear and so dear.

When I arrived home, I was still enjoying God's presence. I said, "Yes, Lord, may it be to me as You have said." This was Mary's response when the angel Gabriel visited her.

Since receiving that call more than 20 years ago, I have prayed earnestly for our nation's revival. Sometimes I pray for hours and hours for lost souls to come to Christ because our God is the God of the Nations. When I find myself groaning in prayer, it is Jesus travailing through me.

In January of 1998, God called me to a 40-day fast, drinking only water and one glass of clear juice each day.

A year later, the Lord called me to fast again for 40 days in the same manner but in two periods of 20 days at a time. Again, I obeyed His voice.

The next year, He called me to fast for another 40 days in the same manner but this time in four separate segments of ten days at a time. Again, I obeyed.

During each fast I experienced God's heart crying through me for this nation to repent, beginning with the house of God. The more I cried through those years, the more I saw this nation get worse and worse with little repentance.

Today, God is still calling. "If my people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14).

"Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there" (2 Chronicles 7:15-16
 

Why Nancy Loves America

This week our nation will observe National Day of Prayer. In honor of that day, this week's devotionals will be taken from the book A Call to America by my prayer partner Nancy Jesudass. The following helps to explain her burden for our nation.

I owe my life to you. Yes, I owe Americans my life. I would like to tell you why.

One day over 100 years ago, a young man was wandering in the streets of Hanoi, North Vietnam, looking for a way to commit suicide. At that moment, an American missionary "happened" to appear and offered him a gospel tract. This young man had no interest in the tract but politely tucked it in his pocket without any intention of reading it.

The man had been forced by his parents to marry a woman he didn't love. He was addicted to opium and would go straight to an opium den after work, heading home around midnight. For about two years, that was his daily routine.

One evening in the opium den, the gospel tract fell out of his pocket. He picked it up and casually read it to pass time. The gospel message captured his heart to such an extent that he began looking for a local church to inquire more about Jesus. With the help of a pastor, this young man became a follower of Jesus and never returned to opium. He began a new life, seeking to love his wife as Christ loves the Church. Eventually he led his wife and all his children to Jesus. I was one of his eight children.

Thousands like my father were saved because of the love, fervent prayers, and sacrifices of Christians who took the gospel to Vietnam. My father became a serious follower of Jesus and a man of prayer. He was discipled by American missionaries and served the Lord wholeheartedly until he died at age 49. At that time I was 11 years old.

Likewise, missionaries taught me, discipled me, challenged me, and supported me financially, sending me to the Philippines and to the United States. Many Vietnamese have given their lives to full-time Christian service because of Christians from this great nation. I owe my life to them.
 

Jesus Cares!

Genovieva Beattie and her husband Stephen loved animals, and kept three outside cats. When they went away, they asked their neighbors to feed them.

But one autumn they were preparing to leave on a long speaking trip and found themselves with baby kittens. They needed to find a home for the little ones and their mother. They asked around, but no one wanted their kittens. She and Stephen knelt in their living room and prayed, "Lord, help us to find a place for them where they can bless children."

The next day, wanting to buy some vegetables, she prayed that the Lord would guide her to the right farm. She called a few places, but the answer was always the same: "The early frost killed all our vegetables." But at the last farm the man gave her a phone number of someone who might have some.

She called and a lady said, "Yes, we have everything you want. You can come and get it." 

While the lady went into the barn to weigh her purchases, she asked the little four-year old, "Do you like to play with cats?" 

Her face became sober.  "Our cats all died," she answered.

A little boy nodded, "Yeah... they are all dead."

When their mother returned with the vegetables, Genovieva asked her, "How is it that your cats all died?"

"They got some allergy and we lost them," she answered.  "Now I will have to get some more to keep the mice away."

"Well," Genovieva said, "we have too many.  Would you like us to bring you some?"

"Oh, yes!  We would be very grateful."

"How many can you take?" Genovieva asked.  "We have seven kittens."

"You can bring them all here. We have a big farm."

Thank You, Jesus, that we can ask You about anything because You care for all that concerns us and all that concerns Your creation. What a caring God You are!

"The righteous care for the needs of their animals" (Prov. 12:10).

Aletha

But It's Her Fault

 

Ruth and a college classmate did not get along. Ruth told me the story.

"Others did not know of our dislike for each other, but we both knew it. This went on for two years. I thought, I haven't done anything; this is her fault so I don't need to apologize.

Finally, tired of harboring wrong feelings, Ruth prayed, "Lord, would You help me to love her?" She still did not love her, though, despite her prayer.

One day the Spirit convicted Ruth that she should apologize to her. She saw the classmate across the gym, and started towards her wondering why she was doing it.

"But as soon as I said her name, I felt God's love cover me from the top of my head down to my feet. When I asked her to forgive me, she began telling me all the things I had done wrong. Amazed, I thought, There's another side to this! We became friends and are still close friends today."

The moment Ruth did her part, God gave her plenty of love. Sometimes we pray for deliverance from an unloving situation, when God is saying, "Trust Me to love that one through you."

Producing the fruit of the Spirit is a cooperative effort between us and the Holy Spirit. It is as though our loving acts open the channel for His love to flow through us.

Dear Jesus, thank You, that with Your Spirit within, I can love others just as they are!

 "God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit" (Romans 5:5).
"But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 6:44).
"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Ephesians 4:32).

Aletha

God Will Make a Way

Late one night, Craig Phelps and his four children were traveling in a remote part of the Texas panhandle. They never saw the approaching truck, and its driver never saw them. The children were thrown from the van.

In the terrible darkness, the parents followed the sounds of crying to their children. But their nine-year-old son was not crying. His neck was broken upon impact. Craig, a doctor, quickly tried to revive his son. But God's voice cut through the chaos: Jeremy is with Me, God seemed to say. You deal with those who are living. Forty-five excruciating minutes later the ambulance arrived.

The next day, their brother-in-law Don Moen, was on his way to the funeral by plane. He opened his Bible and his eyes fell on Isaiah 43:19. "I will make a road in the wilderness," Don read, "and rivers in the desert." A song immediately welled up within him.

After the sad service, Don embraced the bereaved parents. He managed to tell them that God had provided a song especially for them. And with a lump in his throat, he somehow sang the song that has now made its way around the world:

"God will make a way where there seems to be no way."
You can hear Don Moen sing the song. Go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YBwMQwr8AI

Thank You, Father, for making a way for us to fix our eyes on You, the One who always provides hope and deliverance.

"You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance" (Psalm 32:7).

Aletha

Praise! The Answer's on the Way!

 

Before our prayers are answered is often the best time to give thanks. David did that in Psalm 22.

David began, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" But after he had poured out his troubles crying for deliverance, he simply said, "You have answered me" (Psalm 22:21 NKJV).

A comment in the Wesley Bible states that these words are the turning point. David made this statement as a declaration of fact, not an unfulfilled hope. The deliverance is still in the future, but it is certain to come. David knew God had heard, and his mood changed from desperation to glorious confidence.

There are times I leave my prayer time and declare, "It is done" meaning "I know God has heard so the answer is on the way." The Spirit is perfectly capable of letting our spirit have assurance that He has heard. When we sense that witness, it is time to praise.
"I rejoice in your promise like one who finds great spoil" (Psalm 119:162). The psalmist is not saying he is rejoicing because the battle is won, but because He believes a promise from God. Great spoil speaks of the wealth taken after the battle. When we believe a promise God has given us, we have the same joy we would have if the battle were already won.

Let's give thanks for the prayers that God has heard. We rejoice because we are confident the answer is on the way.

"What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see....So, you see, it is impossible to please God without faith.
Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him"  (Hebrews 11:1, 6 NLT).

Aletha