FOOTSTEPS TO FOLLOW
O God, I’m not thankful that children are neglected. I know a number of these poor little ones by name. Most I’ll never know. And when I think of how abused, forgotten and neglected so many of them are I don’t feel very thankful. But, I am grateful for loving hearts and tender hands reaching out in an effort to make some kind of difference. Lord touch my heart and hands so I can make a difference, too.
And God, I don’t appreciate the injury and illness that so many must endure. The Bible says “the rain falls on the rich and poor alike.” I know too many who have been chilled to the bone by this cruel rain. In the presence of their pain I often feel hopeless. But, when I see a get-well card on a hospital bedside table, or even better a visitor’s smiling face and encouraging word, I’m able to hope again. Lord, help me be hope and healing for others.
Dear Lord, I’m not rejoicing in how many people wander lost. Nor am I comforted by the times I feel lost, myself. But, I know I am surrounded by your searching Spirit and abundant grace. I am grateful that you continually seek, that you never stop looking. Lord, search me, know me and use me to help those who are lost.
Creator God, I am surely not thankful for how difficult it is to serve you. Sometimes life seems so fragile and uncertain. But, I am so very thankful for those who find the courage to answer your call to service. Some respond through worship and praise; some through service and gifts. A few are known by everyone; most are only known by you. Lord, I give thanks for the faith of the faithful. Increase my faith in you.
O God, bless all neglected children. Comfort the sick and the injured. Guide the lost and strengthen the faithful. And thank you for loving me.
– Charnock is the director of Mission Integration and Ethics at Susquehanna Health.
FOOTSTEPS TO FOLLOW
We settle God’s Word on earth by believing in it, standing on it and doing it. In Hebrews 8:6 we read, “But now has he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also He is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.”
A ‘Will’ reveals the nature and intentions of the person who wrote it. The sovereignty of God is not the fickleness of God. The Sovereignty of God cannot mean that He has the right to pick and choose whom He will keep His Word to. If that were true, we could never pray the prayer of faith as commanded in James 5:14-16. You cannot have faith any further than your knowledge of what the will of God is. A note to consider is this: there is no such thing in the Bible as an ‘unspoken request.’ An unspoken request is an unanswered request. Before you can agree with someone in prayer about something, you must know what it is.
It may be surprising to note that the Corinthian Church was not a perfect church. As a matter of fact, it was one of the most messed up churches in the Bible. There was sin in the Corinthian church that Paul said wasn’t even heard of among the heathen. With that in mind, remember that Paul also wrote that the Corinthian Christians came behind no one when it came to operating in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Notice that even with the rampant sin in the church, he did not say that what they were doing (the gifts) wasn’t real; he just told them how to correct it and operate accurately.
We see in I Corinthians 2, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
“Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to naught: but we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him.”
God is no respecter of persons, and each person can choose to walk in the fullness of all He has provided.
– Balliet is the eastern regional director of John G. Lake Ministries in Williamsport.
FOOTSTEPS TO FOLLOW
God has number for you number. Please let me explain.
Almost everyone has heard of the infamous number “666.” The Biblical quote in Revelation 13:18 goes like this: “Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six (666. This number represents a man’s name. We don’t know his name, only his number.)
I recently bought some batteries at a local department store. The clerk said, “Your total is $6.66 – uh-oh.” I smiled at her as she looked at me with big eyes.” Do you know what that number means?” I asked. She said, “No,” with obvious interest.
“Six (6) is the number of man, because man was created on the sixth day,” I briefly explained. “The number three (3) means divine perfection. So the number 666 means “a man who declares himself to be God.” I finished by telling her that the time will come, according to the Bible, when people won’t be able to buy at her store without the number of his name stamped on them.
The Bible was written primarily in two languages: the Old Testament in Hebrew, the New Testament in Greek. Both languages have a unique distinction: each letter has a fixed number value (unlike English). Therefore, every letter, word and name in the Bible has a numerical value and a corresponding meaning.
God uses this numbering system to illuminate and illustrate many truths. However, I found one that is of the greatest importance. In the Greek New Testament, the numerical value of the name Jesus: 888. We know His name and the corresponding number of His name. The meaning of 888: God’s new beginning. Eight (8) is the number of new beginnings; three (3) symbolizes divine perfection. The name “Jesus” means salvation and redemption – God’s new beginning. Jesus Christ declares from His throne, “Behold, I make all things new” (John 21:5).
Jesus said to a group of religious leaders, “I am come in my Father’s name and you receive me not; another will come in his own name, him you will receive” (John 5:43). Jesus predicted that another would come in his own name and be accepted. We don’t know his name; we only know his number: 666.
When this man emerges, he will be a politician that seems to solve important problems that the world faces. The world will flock to him as a savior. Can you imagine gasoline under $1 per gallon? Hamburger down to $.50 a pound? True peace in the Middle East? On and on it will go – “free” health care, anyone?
The price of these “miracles” will be unquestioned “loyalty” (read “worship”) and a mandatory “tattoo” (read “mark”) on your right hand or forehead: the number of his name in one form or another: 666. If we refuse, we will not be allowed to buy or sell anything – no transactions at all. This will be a mandate from the international government he leads (Revelation 13).
But as for me and my house, we have taken the name of Jesus! We received it on our hearts by faith, our bodies by water baptism, and our lives by confession and right living.
“Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7).
This is your invitation to a new beginning. Please choose your number.
– Butler is the pastor at Wings of Love Community Church in South Williamsport.
FOOTSTEPS TO FOLLOW
Grace lived in a log home with dirt driveway along on a stone road. She lived in the family home with her parents and sister, even after her mother and father passed away.
The home had no phone, and until recently had no indoor bathroom. The home was heated with the wood that our youth group stacked for her in the fall. Her garden was almost as big in square footage as the house, and it was filled with fruits and vegetables, which fed them and many others. It was awash with beautiful flowers that adorned the altar of the United Methodist church where she was a lifelong member, and both she and her sister taught Sunday School. When Grace died, well in her 80s, the church was full with those who gathered to celebrate her life, faith and service.
What I remember most about Grace is that, as my sister went through confirmation, Grace served as what that church called a friend in faith. She met with my sister, prayed for her, and stood with her as she was baptized and confirmed.
Never married, never having children, this beautiful woman lived a legacy of simplicity, faithfulness, and, most of all, love. In her later years, she mentored a young girl seven decades her junior in making the most important decision anyone ever makes – the decision to follow Jesus. And by the time she entered heaven, I’ve no doubt that Grace left behind dozens of spiritual descendants.
In 2 Timothy 1:5, Paul (near death in a Roman prison) writes this to Timothy, his protege in ministry, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.”
Over the course of this weekend, Christian congregations from many different traditions will celebrate All Saints Day. Churches often specifically remember those members who have died in the past year. We are also called to give God thanks for all who have faithfully lived and died and who have left to us a legacy of faith.
In a big picture way, we are here today because generations of men and women, springing from those first timid disciples have shared the story of Jesus, his life, death and resurrection, and their stories of being changed because of Jesus love.
In a smaller way, my church receives the spiritual legacy of 40 Methodist Christians who gathered in Montoursville 193 years ago to form a class, our method of planting a congregation. We receive the legacy of the generations since then who have preached and taught, labored and built, loved and invited.
In an even closer way, we are recipients of the legacy of those who have invited us to worship, or brought us to vacation Bible school, or who welcomed us when we took that first tentative step into the church building, thinking for sure the roof would cave in, or who explained to us that Jesus has made it possible for us to have a relationship with God, not based on our worthiness, but on His love.
This All Saints weekend, let us remember and thank God for the legacy of faith we’ve received, and commit to sharing that legacy with others.
– Leland is the pastor at Faith United Methodist Church in Montoursville.