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God of compassion

your love for humanity was revealed in Jesus,

whose earthly life began in the poverty of a stable

and ended in the pain and isolation of the cross:

we hold before you those who are homeless and cold

especially in this bitter weather.

Draw near and comfort them in spirit

and bless those who work to provide them

with shelter, food and friendship.

We ask this in Jesus’ name.

Amen

a prayer from the Church of England

Your Spiritual Life Determines the Rest of Your Life

By Dr. Ronnie Floyd

The growth of our spiritual lives will never outpace our intentional commitment to prioritize it every day. Our spiritual development impacts every other area of our lives—and we cannot delegate that growth to anyone else.

During my college years, over Christmas break, my brother asked me to build a barn for him. He is a much more gifted carpenter than I, but he was trying to help me out. I needed the money. But building barns was neither my passion nor within my skill set.

I accomplished the task, but in a few years the barn began to lean and eventually became unsafe. My brother would have been better off building the barn himself than delegating something to me I could not properly do.

Just as my brother should not have expected me to build a barn, you and I cannot expect someone else to build our spiritual lives for us. No one else can construct our daily walk with God. It has to be intentional, purposeful, and personal. Each one of us is accountable to do it ourselves.

The wisest decision we can make each day is this: I will walk with God today. What the Bible says about Enoch has always challenged me. This statement is simple yet profound: “Enoch walked with God” (Gen. 5:24, esv). Could God write this about your life and mine today? If not, why not? What stands in our way? Who is standing in our way?

In reality, no one and no thing stands in our way. The decision is ours. Remember these truths:

  1. God wants to walk with us! Getting our lives in order spiritually and practically begins with the decision to make it our number-one priority.
  2. God wants to have a meaningful relationship with us daily. He never puts us on hold, and we never have to stand in line.
  3. He does not delegate our spiritual growth to one of the angels who serves Him. He is always waiting on each of us to come to Him.
  4. Bringing our lives into spiritual order requires a strategy.

Let me highlight a few ways to be intentional in our commitment to prioritize our spiritual lives:

Reading the Bible Daily

The Bible is God’s Word. It’s what God says to you and me, and to all people. Thus, we need to read the Bible every day.

When the Bible speaks, God speaks. His voice through His Word cannot be minimized. But we can maximize its impact in our lives if we truly understand that what He says lives forever—and put His Word into practice! Through the years, I have witnessed thousands of Christians who live out their faith. Almost without exception, those who read the Bible daily are set apart from the others.

Former trucking magnate J.B. Hunt told me that the Bible was his road map for life. It showed him how to live the way he wanted to live—for God. Hunt drove trucks all over America even before he and his wife Johnelle began their Fortune 500 transportation company (one of the largest in the country). While he lived on the road, the map of our country became important to him. It led him to his desired destination.

But Hunt began his day reading the Bible. It would take him at least 18 months to read through the Bible once, but he read through the entire Bible several times in his life. It was his road map leading him to his desired spiritual growth. If an extraordinarily busy and wealthy man like J.B. Hunt knew he needed to read the Bible and make it a priority each day of his life, surely his example can inspire us to do the same.

This imperative daily discipline helps us become spiritually fit. We cannot be all God wants us to be if we do not read the Bible. It is impossible.

Praying Our Life into Order

Think of it this way: We can go to God anytime, anywhere, about anything. Through Jesus Christ, we have direct access to God.

Since we can go to God anytime, anywhere, and about anything that’s going on in our lives, why not choose to talk to God daily—and often? Create your own system of prayer or adopt someone else’s. If nothing else, make a list of things you are concerned about in your own life, your family, your church, your career and business, your future, your finances, your country, and concerns you have for other people. Pray for them each day and look for God to walk into those situations personally and powerfully. God answers prayer! God steps into the life of the person who prays. He can do more in a moment than you can in a lifetime. Each of us needs divine intervention.

Living an orderly life requires praying our lives into order. This is why I keep my prayer list in the Notes app on my iPad. My list changes continually as I watch God respond to my prayers. And I can easily change my list because of the technology’s simplicity. Find what works best for you, and just do it.

Praying with Fasting

Consider adding periodic times of fasting to your prayer life. Fasting is abstaining from something with a spiritual goal in mind.

For the rest of the post…

Featured Image
Shutterstock.com
Calvin Freiburger
Calvin Freiburger

New York legislature votes to legalize abortion up to birth, let non-doctors commit abortions

ALBANY, New York, January 22, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Both chambers of the New York state legislature voted Tuesday on legislation to enshrine a “fundamental right” to abortion in state law and eliminate protections for preborn babies until birth, in votes set to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

The state Senate voted 38-24 in favor of the so-called “Reproductive Health Act” Tuesday evening, the Albany Times-Union reports, a bill that has repeatedly cleared the state Assembly in years past but been blocked by the formerly-Republican Senate. Following the Senate vote, the Assembly passed it 92-47.

The bill declares that “Every individual who becomes pregnant has the fundamental right to choose to carry the pregnancy to term, to give birth to a child, or to have an abortion,” erases the state’s recognition of preborn babies older than 24 weeks as potential homicide victims, removes abortion from the penal code entirely, and allows licensed health practitioners other than full doctors to commit abortions.

“We have a president who’s made it very, very clear that he wants to overturn Roe v. Wade,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins declared before the vote. “Today, here in New York, we are saying no […] and we’re not just saying no. We’re saying that here in New York, women’s health matters. We’re saying here in New York, women’s lives matter. We’re saying here in New York, women’s decisions matter.”

The Times-Union suggests the bill would allow “late-stage” abortions only if the mother’s “health” is endangered or if the baby is deemed non-viable, but the New York State Right to Life Committee warns that the bill would go much further in practice.

Declaring abortion a “fundamental right” opens the door to invalidating “any limits on abortion” and “mandat[ing] that everyone take part in the culture of death,”

For the rest of the post…

“Oh Holy Lord, you are worthy of all of our praises. You reign in majesty above us and are our Lord forever. We thank you for allowing us to be graced by your presence today, hallowed be your name. Accept our love and adoration in Jesus’ name. We are here to pray, almighty God that you will always light our way with your presence. We resist evil and pray that your light will always shine on us. May all people see your glory through us and come to worship you as the living God.”

For more prayers…

“The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me.” — Martin Luther

I remember early on as a follower of Jesus, I would hear people reference their desire and ability to go to a quiet place with only their Bible and emerge after four hours refreshed, renewed, and revitalized. If I’m honest, the prospect of this scenario seemed overwhelming and the direct opposite of refreshing. I think this was mainly because of my lack of perspective on the benefits and blessings of a time of studying.

Studying is one of the most important areas in which to figure out a sustainable rhythm. When I’ve attempted to read through the Word with no real plan, I’ve found myself lost, confused, and bored. A breakthrough came when I started to ask the Lord to show me what He desired for me to see. When we read God’s Word, we must continually say, “This is talking to me.” The Bible is not an impersonal story about the past; it is the living Word of God. It is an ongoing narrative of which we are a part. Our hope is to gain insight on life and direction through the revealed Word of God. Eugene Peterson says it best: “The goal of reading the Word is to listen for the voice of the God who speaks.” There is a reason that Psalm 119 refers to the Word of God as a lamp to our feet and light to our path. Scripture helps to guide and direct us as we seek to understand the richness of its truth.

The Bible is filled with reminders of the significance and power that accompanies studying, learning, and resting in the Scripture and precepts of God. Paul teaches in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Studying God’s Word allows us to ingest his truth so that it can permeate all of our inner self. When we focus on Scripture, it reminds us of who God truly is and who we are in light of that truth. The Word gives us understanding that helps us to teach and guide others according to God’s principles. Understanding the Word produces thankfulness that causes us to sing and encourage one another with God’s promises.

For the rest of the post…

By Chuck Lawless
Pastors Cannot Do

But here are 12 things pastors cannot do…

  1. Read minds. Everybody knows that, but many church members hold pastors accountable for unstated expectations.
  2. Be everywhere. No human being can be every place at once, yet some members still get angry when pastors have to say “No.”
  3. Change hearts. Only God can do that.
  4. Know everything. Most pastors study hard, but nobody can answer every question somebody asks.
  5. Please everybody. Even Jesus couldn’t do that.
  6. Live sinlessly. Nobody can. Including you. And me. We’re all sinners.
  7. Grow churches. If the church does grow, it’s because God does it.
  8. Multiply dollars. That’s too bad, too, since some churches don’t pay their pastors well.
  9. Escape mistakes. All of us will mess up sometime, often unintentionally and even unknowingly.

For the rest of the post…

“Heavenly Father,

Blessed be your holy name! You alone are God! There is no one like you, and thus, only you are worthy of worship and praise. As your people gather all over America on Sunday, may they truly worship you in spirit and in truth and in the precious and matchless name of Jesus!

We are guilty of prayerlessness! Please send revival. We are desperate for it.

In the Awesome Name of Jesus!

Amen!”  

“Here’s our problem: prayerlessness is spiritual suicide!” 

John OnwuchekwaPrayer39.

January 2019
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