Do Good To All

July 8, 2020
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In August 2017, my husband of 54+ years, my sister Kathy, and I were thoroughly enjoying a trip by recreational vehicle (RV) along the Alaska Highway in northern British Columbia, Canada. God's splendour was amazing with the scenery of mountains, valleys, and wildlife. On our way home, we stopped at a lodge to get gas, and Kathy ran in to pay. The unthinkable happened at this moment in time: my dearest John slumped with a heart attack. I instantly started CPR. Kathy came out to the RV, saw what was happening, and ran back into the lodge begging for help.

A young couple and a doctor came to help. The husband took over CPR, freeing me to feel for the neck pulse. The doctor took John's wrist, checking for a pulse, but after what seemed an eternity, he pronounced John gone. A senior doctor called the coroner.

The couple asked if they could pray. I said, "Yes, we, too, are believers." The RV needed to be returned to Edmonton, Alberta, within the next few days. The couple invited us to stay at their home. They would call their neighbour to make the house key available to us. A short while later, their son came over with a plate of sandwiches, for which we were very grateful.

The owner of the lodge gave us a site to park the RV while we waited for the police and ambulance.

A young RCMP officer came with the ambulance. He looked at the situation and said that he would not let us drive the RV after such a tragedy. One of the ambulance drivers could drive his truck. He drove the RV for three hours to the campground where we had booked a site. The officer stopped in at a restaurant and purchased a takeout snack for us. When we were settled, he called the precinct for a pickup.

As long as I have memory, I will thank God for the young couple and the RCMP officer. I sent them an appreciative letter. Son Donald flew out and drove the RV to Edmonton, and then drove my van home to Elliot Lake, Ontario.

Galatians 6:10 – Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (NIV)

In His kind-heartedness, God the Father sent Jesus Christ to Calvary to help us understand His love and to make forgiveness of sin available to us. May God help us to show only kindness and compassion, not only towards family and friends, but also towards total strangers, especially those who belong to the family of believers.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we ask for Your help to be always kind and compassionate as we follow the example of our Saviour. Nudge us to pray for those in authority over us. Help us to be ready to assist even strangers as we witness of Your love and grace by action and word, to those with whom we come in contact. Amen.


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About the author:

Ruth Rowe <ruthjohn.rowe@gmail.com>
Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada

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A Simple Hug

July 7, 2020
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I hugged my daughter yesterday for the first time in over three months. It was a long hug! We have always hugged whenever we say goodbye, and it has felt strange not being able to do that for all that time. You could say that we are a hugging family! Now that we can have a "social circle", I'm looking forward to hugging my son and his wife and our grandson when they come to spend a few days of their summer vacation with us in a couple of weeks.

It seems like such a simple thing, but hugs matter. Hugging shows someone how much we care. Hugs are good for us. A hug can make us feel so much better! We don't necessarily have to say anything. A hug says it all! According to Wikipedia:

    A hug … is a form of nonverbal communication. Depending on culture, context, and relationship, a hug can indicate familiarity, love, affection, friendship, brotherhood, or sympathy. A hug can indicate support, comfort, and consolation, particularly where words are insufficient. A hug usually demonstrates affection and emotional warmth, sometimes arising from joy or happiness when reunited with someone or seeing someone absent after a long time. … Hugging has been proven to have health benefits. One study has shown that hugs increase levels of oxytocin and reduce blood pressure. Based on significant research indicating that a 20-second-or-longer hug releases oxytocin, Leo Buscaglia encourages people to hug for 21 days consecutively and to have each day a hug that lasts for a minimum of 21 seconds. He recommends "getting lost in the hug", encouraging people to slow down and "use the power of the hug to be fully present in the moment".

Luke 15:20 – So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. (NLT)

We're all familiar with the story of the prodigal son. What a wonderful hug that must have been for both the father and the son!

    What Hugging Can Do

    It's wondrous what a hug can do.
    A hug can cheer you when you're blue
    A hug can say, "I love you so,"
    Or, "I hate to see you go."

    A hug is "Welcome back again."
    And "Great to see you! Where have you been?"
    A hug can soothe a small child's pain
    And bring a rainbow after rain.

    The hug, there's just no doubt about it —
    We scarcely could survive without it!
    A hug delights and warms and charms;
    It must be why God gave us arms.
           – Dean Walley, The Messenger

Sometimes, we just need a hug. Sometimes, it's all that we need to make us feel better, to feel loved. So, for now, hug the people in your social circle and hopefully, someday soon, we will be able to hug those in our church families and our friends as well.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank You for hugs. Wrap Your loving arms around us today, reminding us that You are always there for us. Surround us with Your loving presence, reminding us that we are loved, even as we are dealing with the chaos all around us. Help us to love others as You have loved us. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.


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About the author:

Dee Renaud <dee.renaud@outlook.com>
Sauble Beach, Ontario, Canada

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Profiting In God

July 6, 2020
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Psalm 1:1-2 – Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. (KJV)

When I was much younger in the faith, studying the Bible was a huge challenge for me. I would pick up my Bible, try to read through a chapter and memorize a verse, yet nothing would sink into my head or penetrate my spirit. Before long, I would fall asleep on my reading table. I must confess that it baffled me tremendously why I couldn't just grasp these words of the Bible the way that I did with science and social science subjects. Glory to God, years later, the Lord gave me the answer to that spiritual struggle through this verse:

Luke 8:12 – Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. (KJV)

Friend, whatever steals the Word of God from us remains our greatest enemy, and whenever we hear the Word of God or pick it up to study, the devil is furious. He comes with different distractions that will make us lose grip of the Word.

The reason that he does so is succinctly expressed in the verse following our opening Scripture:

Psalm 1:3 – And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. (KJV)

Who?

The one who meditates on God's Word day and night.

As believers, we can be blessed in our walk with God only if we constantly study and meditate on His Word. It's not optional — it's a must. The Word must dwell in us richly and work into our very being — that's exactly how we profit in Him.

Paul is fully armed with this secret of success when he tells Timothy, "Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all." (1 Timothy 4:15 KJV)

Beloved, God has given us something that is of inestimable benefit and value: His Word. If we could spend time with it day and night, we wouldn't be in some of the messes in which we find ourselves.

From today, begin to set out time for God's Word in your daily schedule. Refuse to let the devil stop you from profiting in God by wasting your Bible study time with frivolities.

Cast away every obstruction against your Bible study; give your phone a break for the Bible; speak the Word; and sleep and wake up with it every day. Remain blessed, and pray with me:

Prayer: O Lord, help me to study Your Word today. As I begin to study, help me to profit mightily, and may my profiting begin to appear to all. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.


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Owen Osa <owengodson1@gmail.com>
Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria

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Sit-In

July 5, 2020
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Hebrews 10:12 – But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God's right hand. (NLT)

He pulled up a chair, sat down beside me, and raised his left arm in the air.

Our church hosted its first Craft Fair. A good number of vendors signed up, set up, and enjoyed interacting with customers — along with selling them products. I sat at a table near the entrance, hosting my first book signing. As my wife talked with the various vendors, a gentleman from our church sat in her seat beside me, raised his left arm, and smiled.

"What are you doing," I asked — along with others who stopped by.

"Sitting in for your wife," he responded.

My wife had had carpal tunnel surgery the day before and was supposed to be sitting with her arm elevated. She wasn't being a good patient, so our friend decided that he'd show her how a sit-in was supposed to be done.

Though I was no more than a child and middle-school-aged lad in the 1960s, I remember another type of sit-in, the kind where minority groups, whose rights were being violated by governmental laws and societal traditions, sat in various stores and other locations. Had I chosen to sit with them, or sit in their place, I would have faced the same retaliation that they did.

The writer to the Hebrews introduces another type of sit-in — one that also had consequences, but wonderful results. This sit-in occurred after Jesus died on the cross, was resurrected from the grave, and then ascended back into heaven.

Jesus sat in my place as my friend did for my wife — but with a big difference. His sitting in for her had no effect on the swelling in her arm. She was still walking around with it dangling in the wrong direction. Jesus' sitting in my place has the potential to alter my life's current situation and eternal state. His sit-in was substitutionary — which means that He took my place.

If I choose, I can avoid having to pay for my sins and being eternally separated from God. I can be released from condemnation and live with confidence, peace, and joy. But I must accept the effects of His sit-in by confessing my sins, putting my trust in Him, and claiming Him as my Saviour.

Don't try to sit in for yourself. Accept the sit-in that Christ made for you.

Prayer: Father, thank You for allowing Your Son to sit in on our behalf. Amen.


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Martin Wiles <mandmwiles@gmail.com>
Greenwood, South Carolina, USA

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Our One Guaranteed Freedom

July 4, 2020
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1 Peter 2:16a – Live as free people. (NIV 2011)

As our pandemic lingers, people naturally yearn for former freedoms — including public worship. Mixed feelings abound over such matters. Restless tension grows between restraints and freedoms. As in any polarized situation, we can easily find ourselves sucked into the spiraling vortex of emotional reactivity. Be careful, for that's bondage in itself! It's a lockdown of our minds. It robs our thoughts of a better freedom: our one guaranteed freedom unique to God's children. It's God-given, so no one can rob us of it — if indeed we've been set free by the Son!

John 8:36 – So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (NIV 2011)

Romans 8:2 – Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. (NIV 2011)

Ephesians 3:12 – In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. (NIV 2011)

Did you notice here two sides of Christ's freedom? There's freedom from something and freedom for something. Of course, no constitutional right can provide or guarantee either. Only God can!

The thrilling wonder of this freedom reminds me of a yearly springtime event on our family farm: Liberation Day for our cows. This was their freedom from confining stalls, their freedom to roam expansive pastures. As always, their behaviour was predictable: The instant their nostrils sensed the spring air, the animals broke into exuberant sprints and leaps. They became wildly intoxicated with freedom and fresh air.

Such vivid emotional responses seem over the top for Christians. But why? For we're granted a far grander freedom. Perhaps we've never experienced Christ's freedom, or we've lost its value, or we've become dependant on lesser freedoms — including our religious freedoms.

Here's a question: Would it not be within God's nature to use COVID-19 for our benefit — to expose our hearts? We must face ourselves, asking, "Which freedom grips my thoughts most, through these trials? Is this making me more Christ-centered or more self-absorbed? Am I growing more in the fruits of the Spirit or in the fruits of pride and discontent? How responsible am I with my God-given freedom — to live in it fully and to guard it from the suffocating bondage of fruitless longings?"

Galatians 5:13a – You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh. (NIV 2011)

1 Peter 2:16 – Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God's slaves. (NIV 2011)

My friends, in these days, you and I must each decide which freedom matters most, because that's the freedom that we will pursue above all others.

Prayer: Lord, work within our hearts to demolish our idolatrous dependencies on lesser freedoms, that we may freely love and serve You as Your fully liberated servants. Amen.


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Diane Eaton <d.eaton@bmts.com>
Paisley, Ontario, Canada

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A Channel

July 3, 2020
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Proverbs 21:1 – The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will. (KJV)

At my father's mill, a channel ran between the upper log storage pond and the lower pond, where logs could be poled and floated to be sawed. The channel was used only for that simple purpose, and it worked effectively. Periodically, the mill crew would drain the stagnant water to let the ponds dry out and then refresh them.

In a much different way, God empties and cleanses our hearts so that we can be His spiritual channels to the world.

God's sovereignty allows Him to guide and direct people here on earth, from the authoritative powers right down to individual believers whom He has prepared to do His will. He made us to be earthen vessels that are cracked and broken by difficult life experiences, and healed and refreshed by the power of Christ's love, so that His light can shine through our scars, to bless others. When we receive His power and strength, His excellence pours through us. Depending upon His will, the fissures and breaks in our vessels can prepare our hearts for His work. Our weakness is where Christ's light and power shine the brightest. His strength pours blessing outward from us, in rivulets of His mercy and grace toward others.

Our call to God can be, "Make me a blessing to others," knowing that the request is His will. An attitude of gratitude toward our Saviour makes our river of blessing an encouragement to others, to the glory of God. Each day, let's turn a sensitive ear toward God's prompting in our lives to be ready to serve out of love.

Prayer: Dear Lord, we thank You for using our humble earthen vessels as conduits to send Your rivulets of mercy to a lost and dying world, to give it meaning and purpose through Christ. Amen.


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Karen Milam <karenbmilam@gmail.com>
Penn Valley, California, USA

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All Things For Good

July 2, 2020
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Recently, I've been thinking about the blessings that have come out of the self-isolation due to the current lockdown. For one thing, I have been grateful to God for the gift of time to improve the PresbyCan website. In early May, I began with a desire to purge, for the first time in over 7 years, inactive registered PrayerLine users from the list of almost 700. During the process of keeping track of the approximately 145 active users, I noticed that people were switching back and forth between pages after they had clicked on each "I Prayed For You" button. When I listed all the information on one page, people reported that PrayerLine was much more convenient to use.

However, I also discovered that about 13 percent of the clicks on the "I Prayed For You" buttons were being generated by search engine robots, such as Google and Bing! Since robots can't pray, I changed the buttons into ones that the robots couldn't activate. Now, the numbers beside each PrayerLine request accurately indicate the level of prayer support.

Having already spent about three weeks on these projects, I remembered that the desktop version of PresbyCan is hard to read on smartphones and tablets. Twice in the previous half-dozen years, I had tried to fix this, but gave up because I couldn't make the side columns go below the centre column in the way that I wanted them to! This time, through persistence and research, I succeeded, and smartphone and tablet users will notice a big improvement.

Then, a reader alerted me that her browser was warning her that the PresbyCan website was "unsafe" to visit. I was able to correct the errors, so that potential readers will no longer be dissuaded from visiting our site.

Such tasks have taken five weeks, but it has been a blessing to have such absorbing and exciting projects to improve the website during this lockdown. I believe that God can use anything for good, because this is my favourite verse:

Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (NKJV)

If isolation and sheltering in place have been a depressing trial for you, begin to think of the blessings that have come into your life that couldn't have happened without this lockdown. For what can you give thanks to the Lord? The Lord can use for good even the things that we consider evil. When we give Him thanks, we are expressing trust in His goodness, and affirming that faith actually releases His power to bring about changes in us and in our circumstances.

Prayer: Lord God, alert us to the good in our lives that You are accomplishing — or might accomplish — through what looks evil, so that we can give You thanks in all things. Amen.


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Robin Ross <rross@telus.net>
Mission, British Columbia, Canada

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How Are Christians Called To Love?

July 1, 2020
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Galatians 5:14-15 – For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! (NKJV)

According to Wikipedia, "The pandemic … caused the largest and worst civil unrest in the United States history since King assassination riots in 1968." Protests in Canada have also been widespread. Besides activities that "bite and devour" our brothers and sisters, reactions to racial injustice include peaceful demonstrations of love towards our racially diverse neighbours, while others say, "Well, I would do something, but I don't know what to do", and there are those who deny that there is a problem.

As Christians, we need to ask ourselves some serious questions. Am I in the denial category, believing that race is a problem there, but not here? Do I say, "I am white, but I don't believe in white privilege"? Do I think, "Well, there may be unfortunate incidents, but this Black Lives Matter movement is just typical sensationalized media reporting"? Do I tune out when those whose skin colour is different than mine are reporting on their awful experiences with the police?

If we respond "Yes" to any of these questions, we need to follow the advice of James, "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." (James 1:22 NKJV)

Does God's standard of being doers of the word include listening to only parts of the story? Is treating racial discrimination as media manipulation how God would define loving our neighbour? Have I informed myself about black culture and history in my area? Have I researched credible statistics by race on differences in income, education, crimes, and incarceration? Have I cross-checked facts, statistics, and stories that all report the consistently unacceptable and sometimes inhumane treatment of people of different colour?

Have you ever read a Bible passage saying, "Love your neighbours as yourself, but only if they look, think, and vote like you"? How are we going to love our neighbours if we cannot even bring ourselves to listen to their stories? God has created us all in His image. Christ's gift of salvation is for all of God's children. God calls us to listen and to act. If we listen but do not act, that in itself is an action. Pray with me:

Prayer: Dear God, forgive me for those times when I closed my eyes to injustices around me. Help me to seek learning to appreciate the diversity of Your children. Where differences in Your children exist, help me to appreciate the richness, instead of allowing the differences to divide. God, call me to listen and to act as You would. Help me to remove any hesitation from my actions or inactions of love towards others. Holy Spirit, please intervene to change the hearts of those who deny that we are called to love all of Your children. Amen.


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Orlanda Drebit <orlandadrebit@hotmail.com>
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

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The Lily Of The Valley

June 30, 2020
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Until we moved to Canada, my dad was a rose grower. When he built his first greenhouse in the early 1930s, he supplemented his income by growing a fair-sized plot of Lilies of the Valley. They were easy to grow outside and bloomed early. I have a picture of myself as a one-year-old, more or less, sitting in the midst of them. The flowers were and are still being used in weddings and religious ceremonies, so I read. They symbolize purity and happiness.

The scientific name is Convalaria majalis, and it is a perennial plant that often forms extensive colonies by spreading underground stems. New upright shoots are formed each summer. In the spring, these grow into new leafy shoots that still remain connected to other shoots underground. The stems grow to 10 to 25 centimetres (4 to 10 inches) and have five to fifteen flowers on each stem.

We have some in the flowerbed behind our house. However, we did not plant them. They came over from the neighbour's garden behind us. They were abundant in Israel of old, and Jesus refers to them when He counsels us not to worry:

Luke 12:27 – Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (NKJV)

In our garden, we see that we don't have to do anything to keep them, and yet every spring, they show up and bloom again, and their little white flowers are beautiful indeed. As a matter of fact, there are more all the time.

Jesus is often referred to as the "Lily of the Valley", based on this verse:

Song of Solomon 2:1 – I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. (NKJV)

Charles W. Fry (1838-1882) wrote a beautiful hymn based on this passage:

    I've found a friend in Jesus, He's everything to me,
    He's the fairest of ten thousand to my soul;
    The Lily of the Valley, in Him alone I see
    All I need to cleanse and make me fully whole.
    In sorrow He's my comfort, in trouble He's my stay;
    He tells me every care on Him to roll.
    He's the Lily of the Valley, the Bright and Morning Star,
    He's the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.

The lilies, in all their beauty, show up after a long winter. When we go through spiritual winters in our lives — periods of physical or psychological difficulty, or when we are bogged down by the cares and worries of this world — then we are assured that Jesus is there for us always, and faith in Him will bring happiness in our lives. We do not need to worry.

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we thank You for the beauty of nature in all its forms and shapes, which reminds us of Your care for us. Most of all, we thank You for Jesus our Lord, and we offer this prayer in His name. Amen.


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Joel Jongkind <austria67@bmts.com>
Meaford, Ontario, Canada

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Thousands

June 29, 2020
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Daniel 7:10 – A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgement, and the books were opened. (ESV)

I belong to a group of intercessors in our church. During term-time, we meet upstairs in a room overlooking the balcony. As I came out of the group on a day in February, I looked down on the main body of the church. Above the home-schooled children playing an activity on the cleared floor below were lit more than a thousand fairy-lights strung on wire cables from one side of the U-shaped balcony to the other. It provides a soft, gentle ambiance when the room is dimmed by cloud or night.

As I looked down on these lights, it came to mind that God looks down on all the intercessors across the world, figuratively ten thousand times ten thousand, all offering up prayers before the throne. I believe that He is pleased with this myriad of Holy Spirit-inspired souls emanating prayers before the throne, interceding along with the angels battling for our world.

In that moment, I had the awareness of how God watches on and treasures the beauty of all the prayers offered up in different places, even as I took pleasure in the sight of these strings of tiny lights connected in rows bringing light for the children to play in.

Apart from God, who knows what disastrous events have not happened through the intercessory prayers of the church community? Who knows, apart from God, what blessings have befallen the church and the world because of the prayers of the saints?

So today, try to linger a little longer before rushing off away from God into the day again, and share with Him what comes to mind in this time. Pray for the governments, situations in our world, and the people He lays upon our hearts; even pray for yourself. Who knows, maybe you will find out something new about His patient love for you. Maybe it will change your life!

Prayer: Lord, thank You so much for Your dialogue with us through the Bible, prayer, and action. Encourage us to get to know You better and to grow in trusting You. As Your vessels, enable us to light the way for others to follow along the pathway to Your kingdom. Show us the way that we should go today, all because of Your great love for us in Jesus. Amen.


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Rod Marshall <roderickmarshall@yahoo.com>
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England

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Seed Planting

June 28, 2020
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1 Corinthians 3:7 – It's not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What's important is that God makes the seed grow. (NLT)

One of the most important and helpful pieces of advice that I have received is "Learn your coffee barista's name — and use it!" Let me explain.

I'm not a coffee addict, but I am a latte lover! Now that our local coffee shops are gradually starting to reopen, I find it once again very relaxing to sit and read a book as I enjoy my latte. I often combine this enjoyable ritual with a neighbourhood walk or a few errands before continuing on with the rest of my day.

In the past, I've found that one result of frequent visits to the same coffee shop is growing familiarity with the baristas. Baristas are often young, and the turnover rate can be high, but after a few weeks, they often begin to recognize me. They then also remember that I love a half-sweet cardamom latte with a scone. They may ask my name, and I ask theirs in return.

Then comes the payoff. Along with a greeting and a smile, I can also gradually begin to "say a little word for Jesus", as I've heard it expressed. (This need not — and should not — be a sermon, a theological debate, or even a long testimonial.) Melissa had been a social worker in Madagascar, so when I told her that my husband and I had served as missionaries there, I was also able to tell her a little of why we had gone there. Ashley is also a reader and often asks about the book under my arm. If it's a book with a spiritual topic, I can say a word or two about how such books help me to grow in my Christian life. I could tell Josh, a student at a local college, that I would be praying for him as he faced his finals. I can encourage Loretta, the hard-working owner of her coffee shop, by applauding the enhancements that I see her gradually making to her shop.

My purpose in developing these casual relationships with baristas (or my mail carrier, my car mechanic, my neighbour, etc.) is simply to plant a seed. I may not develop a deep or long-lasting relationship with many of these people, but my intersection with their lives can still have a lasting effect. The small seed that I drop into the soil of their heart may be watered later on by someone else who comes into their life. Perhaps they have a praying grandmother, a kind neighbour, or a godly co-worker who will help further their interest in God and His ways.

Ultimately, of course, it is God who makes the seed grow, but He will honour our seed-planting efforts.

Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, thank You for the people with whom we cross paths every day. May our words of wisdom and grace bear fruit as we show Your love through our daily words and actions. Amen.


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Listen while you read: "Shall We Gather At The River" (Lyrics)

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Gail Lundquist <gail10833@gmail.com>
Portland, Oregon, USA

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What's Your Story?

June 27, 2020
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Mark 5:18b-19 – The man who had been controlled by the unclean spirits kept begging Him that he might be with Him. But Jesus refused to permit him, but said to him, Go home to your own [family and relatives and friends] and bring back word to them of how much the Lord has done for you, and [how He has] had sympathy for you and mercy on you. (AMPC)

When I was a kid in Idaho's Bitterroot Wilderness, between the Snake and Salmon Rivers, one of the walls of our ranch was the Payette National Forest, with no neighbours nearer than 50 miles. Our front door was exactly in line with the back door at the other end of the house. One day, my father bellowed at me, "Run and open the back door, quick!" As I did so, a herd of wild pigs with sharp tusks, greasy, brown fur, and beady little eyes, stampeded past, right through our living room and kitchen and out the back door in a flurry of sharp hooves. As a scrawny eight-year-old, I could've been trampled.

The only other true story that I know about a herd of pigs occurred in the region of the Gerasenes, nearly 2000 years ago, when Jesus was going about healing. The details are faithfully reported in three of the four gospels. A demon-ridden man who has never known peace, suddenly finds himself gifted with a "right mind" when touched by Christ. Though he begs to come along, Jesus tells him to stay where he is and let everyone know what God has done. Meanwhile, the demons infest a herd of pigs, which rush into the sea and drown.

The pig story was one of many in my past about which I was horribly embarrassed. The passage of wild pigs through anyone else's living room would've been noteworthy for certain, but not in my family. I've always tried to pretend that I had been brought up just like everyone else. Living back in the bush without any guidance, I didn't know what most people take for granted. But my heavenly Father always had my back. When God brought me back to Him, I began to see His hand throughout my life. With my past no longer something to hide, I began writing down what had happened to me.

Someone said to me recently, in a fairly envious tone, "It must be great to have faith when a pandemic breaks out." "Well, yeah, sure," I said. And then, I shared how you get it, since his invitation to share my personal account of God's grace was obvious. Blessings, they say, come to those who notice.

If only all believers might tell their own stories of God's providence and grace, bringing back word of how much the Lord has done for them, and how He has had sympathy for them and mercy on them!

Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, we are so grateful for Your guiding hand throughout our lives, first, how You found us, then, how You grew us up in Yourself, brought us closer, kept us safe, used us in Your service, and allowed us to see Your hand protecting and guiding as we followed along. Help us to share these stories in faith, wherever You lead. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.


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Rose DeShaw <rise370@gmail.com>
Kingston, Ontario, Canada

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The Moral Way To Eat

June 26, 2020
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Recently, I heard the following advice from a scientist explaining digestion:

    Before eating, pause and take a few moments to be thankful. This allows your brain time to signal your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for stimulating digestive juices. You'll digest your food better.

You've not likely viewed mealtime grace as a digestive aid. But considering social trends, it's worth noting that at mealtime, everyone scrambles to the table, gulping down their food. Minds never leave whatever occupied them — computer, job, worries, etc. The brain keeps operating the sympathetic nervous system, which actually shuts down digestion and keeps stress responses running. If there is a mealtime grace, it might be mindless and rushed.

Relaxed time allows everyone to see and smell the food, which sends important visual and sensory signals to the brain. Furthermore, we should chew slowly, allowing digestive enzymes to break down the food and prepare it for the next stage in digestion.

So far, I'm using science to suggest that mindful preparation for eating is a moral responsibility. It's for everyone's physical and emotional wellbeing. I'm quoting an atheistic thinker to underscore both the sacredness of shared mealtimes and also the wisdom of God's ordering for our lives — as applied to eating habits.

The Bible also gives us some counsel applicable to the way that we eat.

1 Timothy 4:4 – For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving. (NIV)

1 Corinthians 11:33b – When you come together to eat, wait for each other. (NIV)

In other words, at your communal meals, don't pig out and ignore the food needs of others, as if they're less deserving of Christ's forgiveness through His death.

Colossians 3:15 – Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. … And be thankful. (NIV)

1 Timothy 6:17b – Put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. (NIV)

Deuteronomy 12:7b – You and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed you. (NIV)

Now, I'll offer a suggestion that's supported both scientifically and biblically: Instead of one person saying grace, share the responsibility. Proceed around the table, asking each person to complete this sentence: "Today I am thankful for ________". This makes everyone pause and think. Toddlers will catch on quickly and enjoy a chance to speak. Infants will benefit, because a calm, happy ambiance aids their digestion, too.

Lastly, mealtimes provide a visual aid for spiritual blessings to be enjoyed continuously:

Psalm 34:8a – Taste and see that the Lord is good. (NIV)
John 6:35a – I am the bread of life. (NIV)
Luke 22:20b – This cup is the new covenant in my blood. (NIV)

You may enjoy this thoughtful mealtime grace, by Edward Hays:

Prayer: Lord God and Giver of all good gifts, we are grateful, as we pause before this meal, for all the blessings of life that You give to us. Daily, we are fed with good things, nourished by friendship and care, feasted with forgiveness and understanding. And so, mindful of Your continuous care, we pause to be grateful for the blessings of this table. May Your presence be the extra taste to this meal which we eat in the name of Your Son, Jesus. Amen.


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Diane Eaton <d.eaton@bmts.com>
Paisley, Ontario, Canada

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What Are We Communicating?

June 25, 2020
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Everything that we say or do communicates what we want others to know about us. Sometimes, we do this by the clothes that we wear. When I wear a bright green shirt, the comments that I receive indicate that I am bringing happiness to my friends with an Irish heritage.

Sports fans often wear T-shirts or jerseys with the name and number of their favourite player. With the confusion over COVID-19, some people are showing their support for sound health advice by wearing T-shirts with a picture of their favourite chief medical officer.

Since I live in a residence with older residents, T-shirts with a particular message are not common. However, a new resident sported one with four words that really caught my attention:

    SPIRIT
    WISDOM
    STRENGTH
    BALANCE

With this message, I was led to research the dictionary meanings of these words and look up some of the many biblical references.

Each word has several definitions, but one for spirit is "the seat of emotions and character". This certainly establishes what constitutes me as an individual.

1 Corinthians 2:11 – For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. (NIV)

Wisdom is defined as "the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment". As the years go by, we each gain experience, but the challenge is to exercise good judgment. The Bible has much to say about wisdom.

Proverbs 2:6 – For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (NIV)

Ephesians 5:15-16 – Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (NIV)

James 1:5 – If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. (NIV)

A definition for strength is "the ability to withstand great force or pressure". Whether these forces are internal or external, it is necessary to be constantly on guard.

Isaiah 41:10 – So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (NIV)

Finally, a definition for balance is "even distribution".

Proverbs 16:11 – Honest scales and balances are from the Lord; all the weights in the bag are of his making. (NIV)

This research caused me to wonder seriously what I am communicating by my actions. Am I showing love and helping others in all that I do? Since everything we do affects others, this is a challenge that we must each strive to accomplish in God's strength in the best way possible.

Prayer: Dear Father, help us to communicate Your love through us to others. May we be Your light shining in the darkness. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.


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Vincent Walter <vwalter@bell.net>
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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The Truth

June 24, 2020
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Psalm 139:7-8 – I can never be lost to your Spirit! I can never get away from my God! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the place of the dead, you are there. (TLB)

Last fall, my brother, Jim, got such a good laugh. He was outside and witnessed three of the dogs playing tag. Denver was in the lead, with Sunny and Kayley trying to catch him. As he is much larger, stronger, and faster than the two smaller girls, he managed to score a big edge in the chase. Looping around, he ran and hid beside my truck. Coming out from behind the greenhouse, the girls came to a skidding halt on the other side of the truck, looked around for a moment, then lowered their heads and looked underneath the vehicle, where they spotted four big black Denver feet. Denver, not realizing how clever the girls were, was then totally taken by surprise when they flew around to his side of the truck and leapt upon him. Jim was still chuckling about the incident when he relayed it to me some time later.

Sometimes, we, too, believe that we can hide from God. But according to the Scriptures, this is simply not true. I don't know how God knows, but He does. His Spirit is always aware of our location and our circumstances. No matter how bad the situation may be, or how far we may have wandered away from Him, He loves us dearly and desires nothing more than to have us walking closely in fellowship with Him.

Luke 15:8-10 – A woman has ten valuable silver coins and loses one. Won't she light a lamp and look in every corner of the house and sweep every nook and cranny until she finds it? And then won't she call in her friends and neighbors to rejoice with her? In the same way there is joy in the presence of the angels of God when one sinner repents. (TLB)

Today, maybe you are feeling that you are so far from God that He couldn't or wouldn't possibly want to find or accept you. But this is not true. He already knows where you are and what your situation is. He longs to wrap His loving arms of grace and forgiveness around you and draw you to Himself. It doesn't matter what you have done; it only matters that you turn to Him in faith, asking forgiveness for your sins and accepting that forgiveness through belief in Christ Jesus, who has already paid for it in full upon the cross of Calvary.

Denver stood waiting, thinking that he was hidden, but he wasn't. Neither are we hidden from God. He knows right where we are. Why not let Him surprise you today with His love and forgiveness by reaching out to the One who is reaching out to you?

Prayer: Father God, thank You that we are never hidden from Your sight, and that You are always ready and waiting for us to reach out for Your hand of love and forgiveness, as we confess our sin and need for You. Bring many today to this saving knowledge in Christ Jesus, that the heavens may ring with the joy of Your rejoicing angels. In Christ's name, we pray. Amen.


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Lynne Phipps <lynnephipps@hotmail.com>
Atlin, British Columbia, Canada

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Saying "I Do" And Other Things

June 23, 2020
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Genesis 1:1,31a – In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth … God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. (NIV)

Matthew 5:4 – Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (NIV)

When two people say "I do" in church, something miraculous happens. They spiritually merge into one flesh. Way back when we were married, we had no clue what that simple declaration would do inside our souls and throughout our lives. On our honeymoon, we revelled in each other's nearness. We had so much to learn, even after years of courtship. After all, no one really knows the person they marry until after they say "I do".

Years flew by, and our son entered our lives, a joy that quickly challenged us when the doctor told us that he had cerebral palsy. Nevertheless, our son proved to be a blessing in so many loving ways, in spite of his disabilities, or maybe because of them. Four years later, our beautiful daughter was born. Today, she is married to a good man, and her two daughters have grown to be lovely women. Not quite two years later, a second daughter joined us. Cute as a button from birth, today she's married and the mother of a grown son, and a daughter who added her own two daughters to our family.

Sadly, my dear husband missed so much when he died young. For me, his death felt like a gigantic hand had reached inside me and pulled half of me away. My soul shed tears through my eyes. My heart lurched as if torn in two. Thirty years later, my heart still misses him … but then, in my heartache, I turned to God in prayer and God comforted me … yes, God comforted me.

For me, God isn't a far-off, uncaring deity floating up in a galaxy far, far away. I believe that He gives us everything that we hold dear: children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, as well as homes to live in, cars to drive, and work to do. For me, He affirms His presence in unexpected ways through a son or daughter's phone call or visit, or even an unexpected gift.

For example, last winter, my daughter sent twenty-four long-stemmed red roses totally out of the blue. I see her generosity as tangible evidence of God's being with me. Although some may believe that random acts of kindness are just other people acting on impulse, if we choose to believe that God shows His presence through the actions of others, we will be greatly comforted.

It's a matter of perspective.

From life's experiences, I've seen that grief has its way, but God's Holy Spirit always comforts, especially in unexpected ways. That's why I can say that I'm comforted by God's presence.

So, when our hearts hurt, let's go to God for comfort. We may ask, "How?" Through prayer, we can be comforted. I know from experiencing God's presence through unexpected and unasked-for gifts, He will be with us. Even when we don't immediately feel any different … He is with us.

When we go to God in prayer, His Spirit will comfort us.

Prayer: Lord God, help us to see and feel Your love in every circumstance, whether good or bad. We pray for awareness of Your Spirit with us. Help us to know without a shadow of doubt that Your comfort and Your presence will always be with us, no matter what occurs. Amen.


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Cassandra Wessel <casswessel4319@gmail.com>
Tionesta, Pennsylvania, USA

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Conspiracy Theories

June 22, 2020
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Each time I turn on the radio or connect to the Internet, I am inundated with news about COVID-19 and new developments. It seems that my social media feeds are peppered with conspiracy theories which verge on the scary, but which are closer to ridiculous. There are accusations of government cover-ups, evil agendas by wealthy industrialists, secret laboratories, 5G cell towers, quack cures, and the list goes on. The Spanish Influenza epidemic of 1918 also carried with it some odd conspiracy theories: Bayer® Aspirin was thought to carry the contagion, and German submarines were rumoured to be infiltrating coastline communities to spread the disease.

Much of what the soldiers and civilians experienced then, we are living through today: social isolation, the controversial face mask, families torn with grief, ships full of sick people carrying the contagion around the world, and a desperate race to develop a vaccine. Why do our minds seek to make sense of it all through wild conspiracy theories, though? There is fear of social disintegration, collapse of the economy, a distrust of authority in all its forms, and a desire to preserve normalcy, but at heart, a great dis-ease and perplexity.

There has never been a better season to remember the wise counsel of the apostle Paul:

Philippians 4:5b-7 – The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (ESV)

Instead of repeating with wide-eyed fear the latest pseudo-science conjecture, let's do as Paul urges and present our requests to God. He already knows them before we pray, but He waits patiently for our part in coming to Him for the answer. When we approach His throne with thanksgiving, the peace of God comes as a welcome treasure, bought for us by our relationship with the Lord Jesus, a peace beyond any speculation or human comprehension, because it is not of our world, but His. God's peace is there to be experienced, a strong grace to stoutly guard our anxious hearts and minds.

Stay grounded in God's Word, not social media, as He counselled Joshua:

Joshua 1:8 – This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (ESV)

Prayer: Dearest Lord, as each day it seems that we are inundated with sadder news and wild imaginings, we ask that You would pluck us up from our anxious wanderings and flood us with Your wonderful peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.


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Shirley Moulton <shirley_moulton@yahoo.ca>
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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The Breath Of Music

June 21, 2020
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Psalm 150:6 – Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! (ESV)

I believe that the innate desire to respond to the Conductor's cues begins in the womb:

Psalm 71:6 – Upon you, I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother's womb. My praise is continually of you. (ESV)

The gift of music is grounded in God's love. This heart-to-heart connection with our Creator explains why worship ministry is as vital as mother's milk. It keeps God's command for us alive:

Psalm 145:4,7 – One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness. (ESV)

Having grown up in the 1950s, praising God was as fundamental as inhaling and exhaling. Sunday afternoons were spent with family and friends, still wearing their Sunday best, gathered around our piano, singing hymns. Father would pick his cherished Jew's harp or set of spoons from a basket brimming with period instruments, then pass it around, so that no one was left empty-handed. Soon, everything that had breath praised the Lord. Hands clapped, toes tapped, voices harmonized, and occasionally, our eyes would pop as the delicate china on our sideboard would dance ever so slightly. No Sunday was complete without Mother leading her personal favourite, "His eye is on the sparrow" by Civilla Martin. Even today, my heart still bursts for joy when I hear it sung.

    Why should I feel discouraged?
    Why should the shadows come?
    Why should my heart feel lonely,
    And long for heaven and home,
    When Jesus is my portion?
    My constant friend is He:
    His eye is on the sparrow,
    And I know He watches me.

It was during those Spirit-filled afternoons when I came to realize that music is the common thread between God's truth and His love for His children. For music knows no boundaries, speaks all languages, inspires every age, and has the power to heal any heart condition. Like the tiny sparrow, let us sing God's praises. Join me in my prayer:

Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, let me praise You like a songbird and dance across Your skies. Let me show all my thanks and all my wonder that Your Son came here to die. My every breath is Yours to give; yet, when I fail You, You forgive. My love is all I have to give. I'm here to worship You. Thank You for the gift of music. Hallelujah! Amen.


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Lois Macdonald <loismacs5@gmail.com>
Oshawa, Ontario, Canada

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Ordinary People Doing God's Work

June 20, 2020
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During the period between 2003 and 2004, I spent a considerable amount of time researching and writing the history of Presbyterians here in Meaford, Ontario, Canada, from 1854 to 2004. I found the names of the thirty ministers and student ministers who did the Lord's work during those 150 years. I also found the names of a great many of the people in the congregations, ordinary people who did so many of the things which needed to be done. Some of the names showed up for decades, others just for a year or so.

Of course, there were also literally hundreds of people whose names were not mentioned at all, but I think that a great many of them were also involved in bringing the gospel to all the people in this area for those many years. They were just ordinary people who brought God's Word, and that made me think of the early disciples who joined Jesus.

Some of them are well known, like Peter, James, and John, whom we hear about quite often. Others we hear about just occasionally — Bartholomew, Thaddeus, and another James, for instance. Then there was Andrew, who was first a follower of John the Baptist and was present at the Jordan River when John was preaching and announcing that Jesus was the Messiah. There is not much written about what Andrew did, but it appears that he was good at talking to people, for he introduced several people to Jesus. The first one was his brother Peter:

John 1:40-42a – One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. (NKJV)

When Jesus had been teaching a great number of people, He asked Philip, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" It appears that Andrew had befriended a young lad, and he had the solution:

John 6:8-9 – One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him, "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?" (NKJV)

After Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem, it is evident that Philip knew that Andrew was good at introducing people to Jesus:

John 12:20-22 – Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus. (NKJV)

Andrew talked to people. He told them about Jesus and introduced them to Him. He did not write any books like some of the others did, but like some of the people in the history of our churches, his name is mentioned. Will our names be mentioned as well in the history recorded in the Lamb's Book of Life?

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we thank You for all the ordinary people who have done so much to tell others about Your Son Jesus, our Saviour and Lord. We pray in His name. Amen.


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About the author:

Joel Jongkind <austria67@bmts.com>
Meaford, Ontario, Canada

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Anxious Times

June 19, 2020
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Philippians 4:6-7 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (NIV)

For some people, anxiety is a chronic illness which paralyzes them emotionally and exhausts them physically. They struggle with everyday tasks and try their utmost to combat feelings of unworthiness and insecurity which riddle their thoughts and trample their hearts. When they try to express what they are enduring, other folks don't understand and say trite things like "Don't worry about it. You'll get over it. You can do this." Instead of helping, it only makes anxiety-sufferers feel worse; instead of healing them, it hinders their well-being.

Living under the threat of a pandemic has perhaps given many of us a better understanding of what anxious people experience every single day. We feel lost with no clear sense of direction. We fear that the worst will happen, and some of our dreams at night have become pandemic nightmares. We don't feel empowered or in control anymore because this crisis is way bigger than anything that we have ever encountered. We feel inadequate and don't know when or how this will end. We are experiencing anxiety, and those who know this feeling every day can now say to us, "Welcome to my world."

Today's Bible verses from Paul may give some hope and reassurance to most of us. We can take these words and find the right amount of encouragement that we need in order to endure. When all of this is over, we may be in a position to thank God for an end to our dilemma, but our family members and friends who have chronic anxiety may not feel the same way.

Perhaps, then, if we use this time of pandemic as a life-teaching moment, we will be more empathetic to our loved ones who go through this kind of anxiety each day. Instead of saying trite words to make ourselves feel better, perhaps just a sympathetic nod, a listening ear, and a more patient heart may offer some real support to them in the future.

Questions for reflection: What have I learned about anxiety during this uncertain time? How may I use this to help others?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, these are times that try our souls and weary our spirits. We are deeply worried about the future and very concerned about what is yet to come. Help us to reflect on our present anxiety, and teach us to become aware that this feeling of dread is what others among us experience every day. Bless them with the strength to endure, and enable us to give them the empathetic support that they really need. In Your holy name, we humbly pray. Amen.


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John Stuart <traqair@aol.com>
Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

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For The Gate Is Wide

June 18, 2020
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Matthew 7:13-14 – Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (ESV)

Here in Cheltenham, on the edge of town, we have a world-renowned racecourse that holds events. It is a massive area that occasionally becomes a village in its own right. Just before the COVID-19 shutdown in early March, we had one such event, the Cheltenham Festival. Out of nowhere, vans, trucks, tents, pre-fabricated temporary buildings, marquees, and staff arrive to set up their hospitality outlets, businesses, and services.

People come from all over the country and beyond to watch, take part in the delivery, or participate in other ways in support of the success of these events. Tens of thousands of people come to immerse themselves in the excitement and self-satisfaction that accompanies one of these events.

Not being a great fan of the melee, I tend to avoid the trail of buses unloading people all keen to see what there is to see, with the associated paraphernalia and raucous displays designed to attract customers before they go up to the racecourse.

As I was driving in the other direction around the outskirts, I noticed a long line of cars, caravans, and trucks all waiting to be guided in by stewards like a well-oiled machine. The surrounding fields had temporarily been turned to serve as car parks for the day. I made a note to go back home a different way.

Likewise, the main thoroughfares from the town were saturated with people walking up from hotels, hostelries, and the train station, all keen to arrive and enter through the many ticket stiles ready to move them in before the day's events commenced.

As I drove past the streams of people, today's verses about the narrow gate came to mind. The starkness of choice that they, and all of us, have to face took me by surprise. Are we trusting in Jesus for our salvation and following His precepts for our lives, or are we following a different path? Are we unwittingly walking alongside others who are rushing headlong into oblivion?

For those who are old enough to remember, think of the lost boys depicted in Disney's Pinocchio who, too late to get away, became donkeys, changed forever by their choice for indulgence.

So, where are we with God today? How much have we taken His grace and love for granted, and how much have we been lured, seduced in some way, and tempted by all the excitement and paraphernalia to compromise into following the crowd?

Prayer: Lord, we are guilty yet again of looking at the world and being desirous of all the good stuff. Forgive us for not realizing that the good stuff is fake news and insubstantial. You are our Rock and Your gift of life everlasting. Forgive our wandering eye, attracted by money, possessions, ease, and favour. Redirect us back onto the right track with You, to the narrow path, so as to commune with You daily. Purify our hearts once again to let go of all the things that we would take up, but that are not for us or a part of Your eternal plan. May Your light brightly shine in us to highlight the crud of our life's accretions. May Your presence make a difference to our worship and enable us to see Your way for us today. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.


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Rod Marshall <roderickmarshall@yahoo.com>
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England

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Bloom Where You Are Planted

June 17, 2020
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One thing that we learned on the farm where we raised sheep was that at shearing time in the spring, dirt and burrs were hard to get out of the wool, and they would decrease the value of the fleece at market. John and I were very careful when feeding the sheep not to get dirt on their backs that would work into the wool. In the pasture along the sheep paths was a plant known as Sheep Burr. This plant could adjust to weather and soil, it could grow in all locations, and it was very hard to get rid of.

As I considered how Sheep Burr conforms to survive, I thought of the saying, "Bloom where you are planted", and I was reminded of this Scripture:

Luke 18:35-37 – As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by." (NIV)

The gospel of Mark tells us that his name was Bartimaeus. Just to survive, someone had to help him every day to get to his spot to beg for food and money. He sat each day on the roadside adjusting to weather: hot or cold, sun or rain, with dust and bugs. He adjusted to the noises of the crowds. But one day he heard a different noise than usual, and he was able to distinguish what really mattered: Jesus. Bartimaeus started to yell, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me." People tried to quiet Bartimaeus from his shouting, but Scripture says that he shouted all the more.

Luke 18:40-43 – Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?" "Lord, I want to see," he replied. Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has healed you." Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God. (NIV)

It is notable that a beggar changed the outlook of the other people on the road to Jericho. Bartimaeus, considered a nobody, bloomed where he was planted and helped the crowd to recognize Jesus, the Son of God, the One who is able to give spiritual life and offer mercy to all who come to Him in faith.

These days, people are being forced to adjust to unprecedented conditions and circumstances. COVID-19 is possibly forcing financial ruin, poverty, marital or family disruption, hunger, disease, or premature death upon many within our own country and around the world. Governments are trying to ease the situation for the population, but what an awesome task!

Like blind Bartimaeus, we can choose to bloom where we are planted, and point people to the power and love of God in Jesus, who said, "For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that every one who believes in him shall not be lost, but should have eternal life." (John 3:16 Phillips)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to share Your love for us and to change the outlook of the people around us. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.


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About the author:

Ruth Rowe <ruthjohn.rowe@gmail.com>
Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada

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A Repurposed Royal "We"

June 16, 2020
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Our use of pronouns can be rather fuzzy. Our "we" may mean "you", as in "Johnny, we mustn't throw toys!" It may mean "they", as in "We won the game!" Or it may mean "I", as in the royal "we" where monarchs use "we" to imply "I". That's traced to past kings using "we" to mean "God and I" in accordance with the doctrine of the divine right of kings.

Indisputably, a "we" can sound presumptuous. Not so with Daniel's "we" in these excerpts from his prayer of confession:

    O Lord … we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. We … are covered with shame because we have sinned against you. All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you. Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you. Our sins and the iniquities of our fathers have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us. Give ear, O God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name. (Daniel 9:5-6,8b,11,16b,18-19 NIV)

Here, Daniel identifies with his people. Daniel's "we" meant, "I and my fellow Israelites need mercy; I'm a sinner, too."

Through divine judgment, Israel had experienced horrendous atrocities by the Assyrians. It would have been natural to utter anguished confessions of their wrongs. Personally, I know how others' wrongs can loom so large that I cannot see myself truthfully. I feel distinct from the wrongdoer, justified in myself. It's like assuming a divine right for the self-righteous, implying, "God and I are on the right page; they sure aren't!" Such self-justification alienates people from one another — and from God.

A leading psychiatrist once said, "I could help far more marriages if partners could give up the need to be right" — in other words, if they could face their own faults. Similarly, God can restore relationships among all who willingly surrender their self-justifications. When we confess our sins, we are agreeing with the Lord: "God and I are united in this truth: I am a sinner needing His tender mercies."

I call that a repurposed royal "we". It's no longer reserved for exalted kings, but for humble sinners who welcome God's merciful grace through Christ. That's how any of us can become authentic royalty, as God's "chosen people, a royal priesthood". (1 Peter 2:9a NIV)

Prayer: Heavenly King, as members of humanity, a nation, a church, and a family, we confess that we fall far short of the mark. We have brought disrepute to Your holy name and justly deserve the consequences of our rebellious nature. Look on us with mercy. Renew and re-purpose the lives of many, including ourselves, through the blessings of Your great salvation. Thy kingdom come! Amen.


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About the author:

Diane Eaton <d.eaton@bmts.com>
Paisley, Ontario, Canada

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Light-Bearing In Our Time

June 15, 2020
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Genesis 1:14 – Then God said, "Let there be light-bearers (sun, moon, stars) in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be useful for signs (tokens) [of God's provident care] and for marking seasons, days, and years." (AMP)

I am sitting here by my big window, watching dawn bear its daily message. Today, it rises pinkly, turning to crimson with streaks of purples and blues in the morning sky. Every sunrise is unique in God's hands, designed as a useful reminder to us who are up to see it, like a marker-lettered notice posted about a neighbourhood event.

Like this daily, heavenly phenomenon of light, we believers are also commissioned to be light-bearers. Jesus told His followers, "You are the light of the world." (Matthew 5:14 NIV) Jesus Himself is the Light:

John 1:9 – There it was — the true Light [the genuine, perfect, steadfast Light] which, coming into the world, enlightens everyone. (AMP)

A Broadway play in the 1960s produced a common slogan: Stop the world — I want to get off! But there is a purpose for why you and I are alive in this world today. Each of us was made particularly to bear witness to the Light in our every action, thought, and word, shining the truth. Some of the very first songs that we are taught in Sunday School are about being little lights to shine for our heavenly Father wherever we are, even if it is in a small corner rather than on the world stage. Another song says that when we choose to shine our light of faith and hope, we are being a sunbeam, echoing the heavens once more.

This is my Father's world, as the hymn asserts, "He is the Ruler yet." "Though the wrong seems oft so strong," the world is not to be despised or rejected, as some still do today. Some blame God for the darkness. Yet, every single day, God provides us with a new dawn, a useful reminder of what we need to be up and doing: "Let there be light-bearers." God commissions and sends all believers to be useful in a dark time, with all joy, bearing the light of salvation. We have the honour of becoming signs and tokens of God's provident care, marking our seasons, days and years, and sharing God's salvation, mercy, and forgiveness to all around.

Prayer: There is a wideness in Your mercy, our loving heavenly Father. We say that and sing that because You have set the heavens to remind us of Your providence, the evidence of Your loving care for us, a fact that we cannot deny. You have marked out the seasons of our lives. Change the way that we think, Lord, that we may worship You with hearts full of joy and praise, even in the midst of tribulation. May our lights shine forth for You, wherever we are. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.


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Rose DeShaw <rise370@gmail.com>
Kingston, Ontario, Canada

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Peace, Perfect Peace

June 14, 2020
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Isaiah 26:3 – You will keep the man in perfect peace whose mind is kept on You, because he trusts in You. (NLV)

Today's world may seem dark and frightening. Many people harbour fear and dread of an uncertain future. Along with a deadly disease has come widespread unemployment. Life as we have always known it may never again be quite the same.

A hymn writer of over a century ago, Edward H. Bickersteth Jr., penned words that can bring great comfort. His hymn Peace, perfect peace uses a format of stanzas posing poignant questions followed by helpful spiritual answers. Some of those questions and answers — though expressed in Bickersteth's quaint and archaic phraseology of 1875 — nonetheless echo the solution to our worldwide troubles of today:

    Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?
    The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.

    Peace, perfect peace, with sorrows surging round?
    On Jesus' bosom naught but calm is found.

    Peace, perfect peace, 'mid suffering's sharpest throes?
    The sympathy of Jesus breathes repose.

    Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away?
    In Jesus' keeping we are safe, and they.

    Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown?
    Jesus we know, and He is on the throne.

    Peace, perfect peace, death shad'wing us and ours?
    Jesus has vanquished death and all its pow'rs.

    It is enough: earth's struggles soon shall cease,
    And Jesus calls us to heav'n's perfect peace.

Yes, we can experience perfect peace as we trust in our faithful God. Key to this peace, as today's verse from Isaiah says, is in keeping our mind fixed on Him as we trust in Him. It is essential to focus on God's care and sovereignty, refusing to give in to the doubts and fears of looming disaster and an uncertain future swirling all around us. It is enough to place our lives in God's hands, knowing that He will never relinquish His grasp on His children. He does not promise to block us from all hardship and harm, but He does promise to carry us through whatever lies ahead. It has been said that we need not fear an unknown future because God is already there. Yes, He knows what lies ahead of us, and when we arrive there, He will be waiting to carry us safely through.

We all have seen portraits of selflessness displayed by health care workers and kind neighbours looking out for one another. A slower, calmer pace of life — though imposed upon us — may also result in surprisingly positive outcomes. When life returns to a more normal pace, I hope that we will all remember and retain some of the positive elements that we have discovered during this stay-at-home period.

Prayer: Dear sovereign and Almighty God, may we know true peace as we wholly place our trust in You. May we continue to focus our hearts and minds on Your loving care as we move forward through these uncertain times. Amen.


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Gail Lundquist <gail10833@gmail.com>
Portland, Oregon, USA

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Enabled By The Grace Of God

June 13, 2020
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James 1:2-4 – Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (NIV)

A dear friend once told me that a butterfly can still take to the air even if it had lost 75 percent of its wingspan. What a miracle, and yet society would most likely categorize such a disfigured insect as being disabled. Surely, our Creator enabled her still to fly, to have a purpose, to carry pollen from plant to plant. If people would only take a closer look, they would see how encouraging her perseverance is to anyone struggling with disabilities.

Without warning, a severe form of arthritis crippled my wings. Learning to fly differently has been extremely challenging, humbling, and at times downright scary! Miraculously, being forced out of my comfort zone, I have new clarity and depth to my life — so much so, that I can honestly say that I believe that the testing of my faith is enabling perseverance. Therefore, on the days when I feel that I can't bear another flare-up, I cling to the joy of knowing that perseverance will finish its work, so that I will be mature and complete, not lacking anything!

Waking early this morning, I knew from past experience that I would need to walk and stretch out my sore muscles; otherwise, my day would not go well. With every step, I moaned inwardly, until a robin broke my thoughts, as it chirped a hello from the cedars nearby. Thanking the good Lord for this distraction, I began noticing the woody fragrance coming from the dew-laden branches nearby and paused to bathe in the warmth of the sun's healing rays as they filtered through the surrounding tall trees. Before long, my steps were less shaky, and I was excited to face the day. Truth be told, before arthritis took its toll, I had hurried through most of my waking hours, forever trying to catch a glimpse of tomorrow, a pattern that had left me mindlessly missing out on all the precious moments of today — moments lost forever!

Finally, dear friends, would I consider myself disabled or mislabelled? My answer is neither, for I am enabled by the grace of God. I know that, because God lifted me up with His wings. His love is the reason that I soar!

Psalm 91:4 – He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. (NIV)

So be encouraged, dear one, if you are feeling overwhelmed with fatigue and pain. You are not alone! God is watching over you.

Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, Lord, grant us the wisdom to see beyond our differences and have respect and compassion for those who are struggling with physical and mental pain. Give them peace, purpose, and hope, so that they can persevere until that glorious day when they will be made whole. Amen.


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Lois Macdonald <loismacs5@gmail.com>
Oshawa, Ontario, Canada

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Hold Your Peace

June 12, 2020
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Proverbs 17:28 – Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding. (KJV)

Whenever I pray, for the times when I remember, I always say, "Lord, help me to bridle my tongue today," because words are powerful and are incapable of being retracted after they are said.

I also discovered that presidents and other leaders of nations rule with full awareness of this great principle of the power of well-chosen words. Hence, when they want to address their countrymen, as they prepare speeches ahead of time, they jot down ideas, go through draft after draft before they eventually pass their written speeches to a committee of advisors, who would then, with their wealth of knowledge, proofread and make better the written speech, because they know that whatever is said cannot be retracted afterwards.

But as believers full of the Spirit, countless times, we let go of our guard when talking. Some of us talk without ceasing and without listening.

Beloved, in our opening text above, God is telling us that when a fool keeps quiet, he is deemed wise in the eyes of everyone because he doesn't utter foolish things that would have made loud his foolishness. When one keeps quiet, he is respected and seen as one with understanding. Why? Because he listens.

In my high school days, I had so much respect for the quiet students who came last in my class. I also found out that my teachers loved them, too, at least if not for anything else but for their silence in class.

As believers, we must endeavour to talk less to people and talk more to God, because when we talk more to people, we reveal our greatest secrets to our enemy and give away our power, for "Death and life are in the power of the tongue." (Proverbs 18:21a KJV)

Apart from that, Christ also warns us about idle words. "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment." (Matthew 12:36 KJV)

When a word is idle, it is baseless and senseless, and it lacks restraint and responsibility.

Friend, the God we serve is the Most High God, and he knows all things. He instructs us, "Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath." (James 1:19b) Therefore, let us endeavour to hold our peace always, no matter the temptation to speak. And when we do speak, "Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man." (Colossians 4:6 KJV)

It isn't a great thing to be called garrulous and talkative.

May we receive grace today to be men and women of few words, in Jesus' name. Pray with me:

Prayer: O God, help me to bridle my tongue today. Give me the grace to be silent as much as You want today so that I can hear You clearly when You speak. Furthermore, help me to listen more when people talk and to talk less when I do talk. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.


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Owen Osa <owengodson1@gmail.com>
Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria

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What Is Worship?

June 11, 2020
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"ALL WORSHIP CANCELLED" announced the sign in front of a church in my neighbourhood. In response to COVID-19 regulations, most churches have cancelled their Sunday services for a period of time. That's what the sign was meant to convey. But unwittingly, it seemed to carry the deeper message that worship is something that we do only on Sundays between 10 and 11, so therefore, no one can worship any more.

Dr. Tim Riordan, in Songs From the Heart (GreenTree Publishers, 2014) makes the following points:

  • Worship is a verb. Worship is something we do.
  • Worship is a lifestyle, not an event.
  • We should wake up in the morning with "glory" on our hearts and drift off to sleep at night with "hallelujah" on our lips.
  • Every day is a twenty-four-hour experience in God's school of theology as the experiences of life teach us constantly about the nature and character of our Creator.

Although God instructs us not to forsake gathering ourselves together, do we always need to be in a church building to do this?

1 Chronicles 16:29 – Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name. Bring an offering and come before him; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness. (NIV)

These offerings include time, talents, and money, generously and consistently offered to Him.

Psalm 100:2 – Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. (NIV)

www.oldchristianradio.com is a good website for hymns. Search for good CDs at thrift stores. Find out which Christian radio stations are broadcasting in your area. Sing along, even if you think that you can't carry a tune in a bucket.

Romans 12:1 – Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. (NIV)

Living our lives for Him, moment by moment, is a continual act of worship and sacrifice.

Hebrews 12:28-29 – Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire." (NIV)

God is holy, majestic, and powerful, so we need to worship Him with wonder and devotion.

Psalm 19:1 – The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. (NIV)

Go for a walk or a hike, take a drive in God's beautiful world, watch a sunrise or a sunset, and worship Him for the beauty that He created.

As I write this, churches are gradually reopening. Some still remain closed, either because of government regulations or to protect their flock. I look forward to once again being able to fellowship with others and to hear God's message in person instead of from a computer screen. But closed or open, we can each continue to worship our Creator throughout each day.

Prayer: Father, help us to be in a constant attitude of worship, to give You the glory due Your name, to worship You with gladness, and to offer our bodies a holy and living sacrifice to You. Amen.


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Sharon Cook <craftercook@gmail.com>
Apache Junction, Arizona, USA

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Why Are You Still Here?

June 10, 2020
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Two years ago, in April 2018, a troubled young man drove a van erratically down Yonge Street in Toronto, Canada. He veered on and off the sidewalk, killing ten people and seriously injuring fourteen others. It was a terrible occurrence that I observed from my balcony in the residence where I live.

One of our residents, who has been a close friend ever since she and her husband moved here, had just left the pharmacy near our abode. If her timing had been just a few minutes different, she would have been the dead body lying on the sidewalk in front of the pharmacy.

Recalling the terrible incident with Lil, I posed the question, "Why are you still here?" Her reply was, "I guess I haven't yet completed all the work that God has for me to do."

Lil is a very spiritual person with a strong faith. She is one of the most helpful residents, always encouraging others and truly being a blessing to our home.

It immediately made me think of this verse:

Ephesians 2:10 – For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (KJV)

Some months ago, I was feeling sorry for myself and missing my wife, with whom I shared everything for more than six decades before she passed to her heavenly reward. A member of the staff was in my room and I expressed to her my desire to pack it in and join my wife.

Virgie quickly responded, "Mr. Walter, you can't. You must keep writing those devotionals. I have a little study group, and we use them for discussion."

When I mentioned this to our resident hairdresser, Rosa said that she, too, had a little prayer group where they periodically use some of my devotional material.

This led me to recall why I started writing these devotionals. While I had previously been receiving these daily devotionals for many years, in response to a comment I sent in, the editor e-mailed me in 2017 and encouraged me to write one myself. I accepted the challenge, and in December 2017, he published the first one. Since then, Robin has published more than fifty.

What do Lil, Virgie, Rosa, and Robin have in common? They are all encouragers. They have certainly encouraged me to keep going, and I have observed them encouraging many others.

The challenge for me, and probably for you also, is to share God's love with others and to encourage them.

2 Corinthians 5:7-10 – We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (NIV)

We don't know how long we will be here, but while we are still here, we should do His good works.

Prayer: Dear Father, thank You for allowing us to still be here. Help us to realize that we are here to do Your good works by encouraging others. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.


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Vincent Walter <vwalter@bell.net>
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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Storms And Floods

June 9, 2020
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Each spring, the melting snow and ice upstream cause the Ottawa River to rise to a roaring torrent, crashing over the Chaudiere Falls near Ottawa and Gatineau, Canada, barrelling on its way to meet the St. Lawrence River, and eventually, the sea. For the past few years, homeowners near the river have had to contend with serious flooding, and some on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River have even abandoned their properties, rather than endure weeks of sand-bagging and pumping to save their homes each spring.

Our Lord Jesus used the picture of the storm and the flood to tell us how, at some point in our lives, our foundations will be shaken by time and the great storms of life.

Matthew 7:24-27 – Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. (ESV)

As Jesus ended the great Sermon on the Mount, He knew the challenges in life that His followers would come up against. As bad weather assaulted the house built on sand, the winds came against the sides of it, shaking its frame. The floods came up against the base, cracking the foundation and damaging the contents. Finally, the rain came into the already damaged roof, finishing the destructive work of the storm, "and it fell, and great was the fall of it". The second builder didn't deliberately make an error of judgment on the site plan, but he believed that nothing bad would happen and took his chances!

Proverbs 10:25 – When the tempest passes, the wicked is no more, but the righteous is established forever. (ESV)

The big difference between being wise and foolish is our choice of foundation for our life. Jesus is the rock of our salvation, and we must listen to all of His teachings to be secure on His foundation. But we must always live out His teachings as well, for we really believe only the instruction of Scripture that we put into practice! Our world is enduring a pandemic storm, with crashing waves and gusts of economic, social, and spiritual ferocity. Let us each choose our own foundation wisely!

Isaiah 55:6 – Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near. (ESV)

Prayer: Dearest Lord, be with us in the storm siege that our world is facing. Thank You for being our sure and steady foundation. May we live out Your teachings each day. Amen.


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Shirley Moulton <shirley_moulton@yahoo.ca>
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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How To Grow Your Nose

June 8, 2020
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Proverbs 16:32 – He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. (NKJV)

Had I created mine, I would have shortened the length and made it narrower.

The nose is an interesting part of the body's anatomy. I've heard that it continues to grow as a person ages, and I have seen a number of elderly senior adults with noses that have apparently followed the norm.

As a child, I smelled everything before I ate it. I thought that if it smelled bad, it would taste the same way. That's not always true. Since smell is one of the most powerful memory tools, I'm glad — although sometimes sad — that I have a sense of smell. Certain aromas can resurrect things that I've not thought about in years — or even remembered that I remember.

Growing my nose longer has never entered my mind, but perhaps it should. The Hebrew word used for anger in the Old Testament means "nostril" or "nose". According to Hebrew psychology, the nose was the beginning point of anger. One who was slow to anger was long of nose.

This is an interesting twist on this piece of my anatomy — so interesting that I might indeed wish that my nose would continue to grow. Anger is one of those God-created emotions that almost everyone struggles with. The emotion itself is neutral, but rarely is it ever expressed in the same fashion. Hurt, fear, and frustration resurrect it, and the temptation is to manifest it in ways that will hurt others.

Being slow to anger is an art that only God can help me with. I may have genetic overtones or have lived through environmental situations that make it easier for me to express my anger in unhealthy ways, but neither excuses the responsibility for my actions. "I can't help it" won't cut the mustard with God. Strength comes from learning to control the emotion.

I can grow my nose by temporarily or permanently stepping away from an explosive situation, by being prayed-up ahead of time, by being familiar with what the Bible says about anger, by learning to think before I act, by depending on God's Spirit to help me to do what I might not ordinarily do, and by looking for beneficial ways to express my anger.

Don't be ashamed of a long nose. It means that you're mastering the anger button.

Prayer: Father, help us to express our anger emotion in ways that please You and benefit others. Amen.


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Martin Wiles <mandmwiles@gmail.com>
Greenwood, South Carolina, USA

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The Rescue

June 7, 2020
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Galatians 6:9-10 – Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (NIV)

Not long ago, a visitor here in Atlin, British Columbia, Canada, who was suffering with Alzheimer's, became lost. He wandered away from the home of friends where he was staying.

The Search and Rescue team immediately went into action. The person who found this gentleman, however, was a young teenager out riding on his quad. He had heard about the search, and thus, when he encountered this man, he recognized that he was the one who was lost. He stopped, dismounted, and escorted the fellow back to safety. No one knows what may have happened if this conscientious young man had not been on the lookout and helped this gentleman.

Likewise, God calls each one of us to be on the lookout in regard to opportunities to do good to others, both within and outside of the family of believers. Sometimes, people become lost in grief, depression, anger, unbelief, or complacency, just to name a few situations. Sometimes, they are total strangers to us; other times, we may know them well. Whichever the case, the Lord desires that we seek always to be sensitive to His Holy Spirit, who is able to alert us to people struggling within stressful situations. When He does, let us also remember that He is also able to show us how to minister to them within their need.

Today is a brand-new day, and each one of us has the opportunity to be on the lookout for those whom God knows need our help. May we each pray for our hearts to be open to the leading of His Spirit, that we may do good to all people, that as many as possible might be encouraged, helped, uplifted, and, yes, even restored to well-being in Him.

Prayer: Father God, may we not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, may we do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. In Christ's name, we ask. Amen.


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Listen while you read: "Standing On The Promises" (Lyrics)

About the author:

Lynne Phipps <lynnephipps@hotmail.com>
Atlin, British Columbia, Canada

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Way To Go

June 6, 2020
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Psalm 32:8 – I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. (NIV 2011)

I like sharing videos with my grandson, Andrew. Each week, he learns some new words, or has started a new game, or wants to show Evelyn and me either a new book or a toy that he has been given. It's wonderful to experience the joy that he has in sharing these things with us. At this time, we can't be there with him in person, but watching him on our phones or seeing him on our laptops brings us a lot of joy. Looking at the world through his eyes is a beautiful experience, and knowing that his two great parents are constantly teaching him makes us very proud.

I wonder if God feels the same way when He watches us on earth. He is so willing to teach us everything that we need to know, and yet, we sometimes reject His wisdom by trying to replace it with our own understanding. If we are willing to listen to its message, today's highlighted verse tells us how lovingly God wants to instruct and direct our lives. He doesn't want to control us or manipulate us, but He desires to show us a better way, a more hopeful path, and a reliable road. In the midst of this frightening pandemic, God still wants to counsel us and, at the same time, keep a loving eye on each of us. I don't know about you, but that offer of divine help seems perfect to me. I may not fully understand what we're going through or where all of this is headed, but I can decide to trust in God and seek His way.

Perhaps, you're weary about what's happening, or you've lost your sense of purpose and direction. Maybe you're looking for something meaningful and searching for something hopeful. The good news is that God tells us where to look for these things: we are to look to Him, because God is willing to counsel each of us in a loving and trustworthy way.

Questions for reflection: What do I really need to know from God right now? Am I ready to listen?

Prayer: Lord God, there are some days when we get weary with our worries and burdened by our troubles. Remind us to ask for Your guidance, and grant us the blessing of Your gracious love. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.


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Listen while you read: "God Leads Us Along" (Lyrics)

About the author:

John Stuart <traqair@aol.com>
Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

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