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AskMe #2086462 07/08/08 04:59 AM
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Psalm 130:1-4 (NLT)
1 From the depths of despair, O Lord, I call for your help. 2 Hear my cry, O Lord. Pay attention to my prayer. 3 Lord, if you kept a record of our sins,who, O Lord, could ever survive? 4 But you offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear you.

In these verses David tells us whatever condition we are in, whatever the circumstance may be, no matter how terrible the problem, no matter the depth of our sin we are to call upon God for help. We are to continue calling so we might not slip deeper into the pit of despair and hopelessness. We cry out for the Lord knowing He offers forgiveness and puts our sins aside. We are to look for the hope of the Lord, for His love, mercy and grace.

William True Sleeper, born February 9, 1819, served 30 years as pastor of the Summer Street Congregational Church in Worcester, Massachusetts. Although he was not well known he took the words of David to heart and wrote the words to the song “Out of My Bondage, Sorrow and Night.” The words to the hymn are:

Out of my bondage, sorrow, and night,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy freedom, gladness, and light,
Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of my sickness, into Thy health,
Out of my want and into Thy wealth,
Out of my sin and into Thyself,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of my shameful failure and loss,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the glorious gain of Thy cross,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of earth's sorrows into Thy balm,
Out of life's storms and into Thy calm,
Out of distress to jubilant psalm,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of unrest and arrogant pride,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy blessed will to abide,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of myself to dwell in Thy love,
Out of despair into raptures above,
Upward for aye on wings like a dove,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of the fear and dread of the tomb,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the joy and light of Thy throne,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of the depths of ruin untold,
Into the peace of Thy sheltering fold,
Ever Thy glorious face to behold,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

There may be some who read these words and relate to the despair and plea for help. For those who do, know you are not the first and won’t be the last to face difficulties, temptations and trials. Man has been facing these feelings for years, as far back as David and even in the thoughts of William Sleeper. Just remember there is hope in Jesus who waits with open arms for us to come to Him.

AskMe #2088854 07/11/08 06:58 AM
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2 Corinthians 2:5-7 (NLT)
5 I am not overstating it when I say that the man who caused all the trouble hurt all of you more than he hurt me. 6 Most of you opposed him, and that was punishment enough. 7 Now, however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement. 8 So I urge you now to reaffirm your love for him.


In 1 Corinthians 5:1-2 the apostle Paul had written to the Corinthians saying, “I also received a report of scandalous sex within your church family, a kind that wouldn't be tolerated even outside the church: One of your men is sleeping with his stepmother. And you're so above it all that it doesn't even faze you! Shouldn't this break your hearts? Shouldn't it bring you to your knees in tears? Shouldn't this person and his conduct be confronted and dealt with?” In the verses above Paul acknowledges the hurt that was caused by this situation. But he goes on to say now is the time to forgive and comfort the man so he might not become discouraged. More than likely the man had repented of his sin and now was the time to show the same love, grace and mercy Christ shows.

I started reading a biographical article on Author Ann Lamott, which said “Anne Lamott writes and speaks about subjects that begin with capital letters: Alcoholism, Motherhood, Jesus. But armed with self-effacing humor – she is laugh out-loud funny – and ruthless honesty, Lamott converts her subjects into enchantment. Actually, she writes about what most of us don’t like to think about.” As I searched for more information some referred to Anne as a hard core liberal. There are some who disagree strongly with her beliefs. She does not always agree with right-wing conservative evangelists who have southern accents. But what Ann Lamott does that stands out is she always speaks about the love, grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. People may not always agree with her view and she definitely does not always agree with others. In fact she has received hate mail and threats for some subjects she has written and spoken out on. However, Anne keeps going back to grace and mercy. She is willing to forgive and love those who have differing opinions and beliefs because of her love for Christ. So like Paul I urge you to reaffirm your love for others knowing Christ loved you. If some has hurt you in the past maybe it is time to forgive.

AskMe #2090276 07/14/08 05:55 AM
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1 Peter 4:19 (NLT)
19 So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.

Peter is talking about the suffering of Christians in this world. He has told them they will go through trials they sometimes might not understand. He reminds them their suffering identified them with Christ who suffered greatly for our sins. But he also reminds them some suffering, consequences, is brought about by sin, such as murder, stealing, making trouble and prying into others business. So for those suffering for the right and just reasons they should keep on doing what is right and trust God who never fails us.

CIPA is also known as congenital analgia. It is a rare genetic condition where a person cannot feel and has never felt physical pain. For the most part cognition and touch remain normal to the extent the person can interact with the world. At first this sounds like something that could have its benefits. Instead of experiencing the excruciating pain of childbirth a woman could be exempt from the pain. A person could go to the dentist without fear of feeling the sensitivity of the drill. But never feeling pain means there are lessons that will never be learned. But there are serious drawbacks. A person can break their foot and not realize it. They can pick up a scalding pot and until blisters appear they didn’t know the pot was hot. They get injured in some serious, but they never feel the pain to know how to deal with it. Christians are not exempt from pain. They do suffer and feel the hurts and sorrows that come their way. But they grow from those experiences and learn to deal with the pain and learn how to heal from it. Without pain there is no realization of the damage sin causes and no remorse for wrong actions. So give thanks to God who created you to be able to feel the pain for sin to learn to move away from it. Just like touching a hot iron we learn that it is not a good thing to do.

AskMe #2091126 07/15/08 06:14 AM
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1 Peter 2:21-25 (The Message)
21 -25 This is the kind of life you've been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step. He never did one thing wrong, Not once said anything amiss. They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you're named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls.

In these verses the apostle Peter, a disciple of Christ, someone who knew Him well describes some attributes of Christ’s life. Christ is our example to follow. He showed us how to live and how to bear suffering in life. He was mocked, yet he held no anger towards anyone. Instead the wounds Christ took upon His body became our healing from sin. We were lost in sin, but now we have Christ to guard over our souls and lead us to righteousness.

I have had people ask me before, if God is such a loving God why does he allow suffering? Where is God in the midst of my suffering an injustice that I am experiencing? Why won’t God do something, I prayed and prayed and prayed, yet I got no response? Our problem is we think we are in control of God; instead God is in control of everything. Jesus understood God had His purpose and His plan. As Jesus was about to face death He prayed to God, “My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want?" Jesus knew the torture and pain he was about to face, but He knew God had a plan for all of man. While Jesus asked out of His humanity to be spared, Jesus also knew whatever God had planned was far greater that the fear He was facing. We have been invited to the life of Christ. There is fulfillment and joy in following Christ. There are blessings untold as we love and reach out to others. But there will always be suffering, the same suffering Christ experience because of sin. Sin is what we should be angry at when we are in distress. And in those times we should praise God that we know what ever happens is in the best interest for all. May God bless you and may the wounds and suffering Christ faced for your sins comfort you in your time of need.

AskMe #2092683 07/16/08 08:24 PM
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Philippians 3:17-21 (NLT)
17 Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. 18 For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. 20 But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. 21 He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.

The apostle Paul wants to make the point to the Philippians their life here on earth should reflect their citizenship in heaven. Paul gives a passionate plea for them to understand there are enemies of Christ who by their actions show they want no part of God. They do not desire the salvation He provides out of love, grace and mercy. He knows many are waiting for Christ, and there will be a time when our mortal bodies will be glorious, transformed bodies; citizens of heaven.

Can you imagine life as a citizen of heaven? The book of Revelation has these words, “All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God.” Citizens have a responsibility. It was the citizens of this country we love that stood up for their beliefs and desire for freedom. It was citizens of this country who came together to pass laws providing rights to vote and equalities that had been neglected once too often. Those who believe the salvation God has provided will be citizens with Him in heaven. But while we are here on earth we are to live as though we are already living with God. We are to take our citizenship seriously knowing that it will never fade away. We are to act accordingly showing the same love, mercy and grace God showed us. Pray God will lead you to be the citizen on this earth that he desires you to be.

AskMe #2093589 07/18/08 05:20 AM
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Luke 16:19-31 (The Message)
19-21"There once was a rich man, expensively dressed in the latest fashions, wasting his days in conspicuous consumption. A poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, had been dumped on his doorstep. All he lived for was to get a meal from scraps off the rich man's table. His best friends were the dogs who came and licked his sores. 22-24" Then he died, this poor man, and was taken up by the angels to the lap of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell and in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham in the distance and Lazarus in his lap. He called out, 'Father Abraham, mercy! Have mercy! Send Lazarus to dip his finger in water to cool my tongue. I'm in agony in this fire.' 25-26 "But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that in your lifetime you got the good things and Lazarus the bad things. It's not like that here. Here he's consoled and you're tormented. Besides, in all these matters there is a huge chasm set between us so that no one can go from us to you even if he wanted to, nor can anyone cross over from you to us.' 27-28 "The rich man said, 'Then let me ask you, Father: Send him to the house of my father where I have five brothers, so he can tell them the score and warn them so they won't end up here in this place of torment.' 29 "Abraham answered, 'They have Moses and the Prophets to tell them the score. Let them listen to them.' 30 "'I know, Father Abraham,' he said, 'but they're not listening. If someone came back to them from the dead, they would change their ways.' 31 "Abraham replied, 'If they won't listen to Moses and the Prophets, they're not going to be convinced by someone who rises from the dead.'"

Jesus tells a story of two men; one who lived by the world and the other who lived by any means possible. When death came upon these men they received two very different eternities. The rich worldly man, who was never named, but only referred to as a rich man found himself in hell. The poor man, named Lazarus was shown to be in the comfort of heaven with Abraham. The rich man pleaded with Abraham to have mercy on him, but Abraham could not help him. The man even realized if there was no mercy for him then maybe his family could be warned. But Abraham told him if they didn’t listen to the words of Moses and the Prophets who spoke the Lord’s word and performed miracles, why should they listen to a dead man?

Hell is not a place many of us like to think about. In fact in some religions hell is non-existent. A person dies either to a good life or they become non-existent. But Jesus let us know there is a place called hell. In hell there is a separation from God for eternity. It is a place where all the wrongs and regrets are remembered. It is a place where there is suffering and torment that is ever lasting. In heaven though there is peace and comfort. Lazarus was no longer living a painful and suffering life, but instead he was consoled. It is a place where everyone is in the presence of God and there are no regrets. Jesus Christ died for the salvation of all men. He was beaten, tortured mocked, and hung on a Roman cross to die. It was God’s plan to provide salvation for all those who had faith to believe that His Son Jesus paid the price for sin. The apostle James said this, “And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith. He was even called the friend of God.” We know Abraham was in heaven and believed God and the plan for salvation. Do you believe? If so God bless you that you will live a life eternal in the comforts of heaven.

AskMe #2095012 07/21/08 05:09 AM
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Luke 7:44-50
44 Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume. 47 “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” 48 Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 The men at the table said among themselves, “Who is this man, that he goes around forgiving sins?” 50 And Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Jesus has been invited to eat dinner with a religious leader, a Pharisee. When a certain immoral woman hear Jesus was there she entered and began crying at his feet, kissing them and anointing them with oil. The Pharisee became outraged and began to say if Jesus was a prophet He would know what kind of a woman was touching Him. Jesus did know; Jesus knew her every sin. Yet Jesus saw the sorrow and desire for forgiveness and it was this woman’s faith which caused Jesus to say to her, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

I think we sometimes forget God and Christ can see our every sin. I think we believe we can hide those sins from God. But the truth is we have a difficult enough time hiding them from people around us. Others see our actions and know what sins we have in our lives. And if mortal man knows those sins, then the eternal father of heaven who created us knows them all. While God knows each and every hideous sin, He is more willing to forgive than anyone else. All we have to do is have faith in His love, mercy and grace that He provides through His son Jesus. Just think of your most horrible sin and remember Jesus still loves you, Jesus still finds you precious, and Jesus is willing to forgive whatever you ask Him to forgive. Pray that you may understand the loving forgiveness of Jesus Christ. Thank Him for his mercy and grace.

AskMe #2095707 07/22/08 05:03 AM
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PSALM 103:8-12 (NLT)
8 The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. 9 He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. 10 He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. 11 For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. 12 He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.

King David describes the nature of God. The Lord is not one to be harsh in His judgment, but is instead compassionate and merciful towards us. God does not get angry quickly with us, but instead allows us time so we can repent. God does not hold all our sins against us for He understands our human nature and so He deals with us as we deserve. God’s love never fails us and is greater than our understanding. When the Lord forgives us as He promises to do when we repent; the Lord forgets our sins as though they have been moved to a place of infinity.

Vincent Willem van Gogh was a Dutch impressionist artist whose paintings are some of the best known and most expensive. What some don’t know about van Gogh is that for a period of time he served as a missionary. Vincent chose to live as those around him; he bore the same hardships as those he ministered to; he slept on straw in a hut behind a baker’s house. Appalled church leaders dismissed van Gogh after learning about his to choice to live in poverty feeling it was undignified. Even as a missionary he had a desire to be an artist and so he started his new career. He once said, “to try to understand the real significance of what the great artists, the serious masters, tell us in their masterpieces, that leads to God; one man wrote or told it in a book; another in a picture." Vincent dealt with mental illness and feel into depression often, which eventually lead him to commit suicide. His pain and grief were often expressed in his works of art. In the painting “The Resurrection of Lazarus” he placed his own face on Lazarus showing his own hope for resurrection. In one of his darkest and depressed moments he painted “The Starry Night”. It showed swirls of yellow representing God’s love all around the sky, which looked down on a dark empty church. Vincent may have felt deserted by the church. Vincent van Gogh expressed a great love for Christ, but he become hardened to the teachings of the church. He once said, “Oh, I am no friend of the present Christianity, though its founder was sublime." Vincent van Gogh loved the Lord, but he saw the failure of man. And like many of us his resentments of humanity took hold of his life, while the love of God was waiting on him. Pray you never forget God’s love for you. Pray man will not be your influence, but God alone. Praise God who removes our sins as far as from the east to the west and gives us hope of eternal life with Him.

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I enjoyed this one! Keep up the good work -- it is an inspiration and something to look forward to every day we check in!


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JUMP!
-- and you will find out how to
unfold your wings
as you fall.

- ray bradbury


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Thank you for those blessed words of encouragement.

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1 Corinthians 5:9-13 (The Message)
9 -13 I wrote you in my earlier letter that you shouldn't make yourselves at home among the sexually promiscuous. I didn't mean that you should have nothing at all to do with outsiders of that sort. Or with crooks, whether blue or white-collar. Or with spiritual phonies, for that matter. You'd have to leave the world entirely to do that! But I am saying that you shouldn't act as if everything is just fine when a friend who claims to be a Christian is promiscuous or crooked, is flip with God or rude to friends, gets drunk or becomes greedy and predatory. You can't just go along with this, treating it as acceptable behavior. I'm not responsible for what the outsiders do, but don't we have some responsibility for those within our community of believers? God decides on the outsiders, but we need to decide when our brothers and sisters are out of line and, if necessary, clean house.

The apostle Paul is writing to the Corinthian church about a problem where a member of the church was committing immoral acts. The issue was everyone accepted what was happening as normal. Paul said the church members had a responsibility to confront those inside the church who sin. But he also made it clear those who were outside the church were to be treated with grace.

I want to focus on the church in these verses for a moment. The church members found the behavior of a church member committing blatant sin acceptable. They had not confronted the man or dealt with the issues he was causing. Instead they were apathetical about the situation. Paul reminded them he had written them once to tell them to not make themselves at home with those who were sexually promiscuous. Then he explains they weren’t to be harsh towards those outside the church, but to take care with those who were in the church. If disciple was necessary then disciple should be given. They were not to ignore the sins of a church member. The church should not tolerate sin committed by those who placed their faith in Christ. It does not mean they are not to draw sinners into the church. It does mean they should correct and teach people about sin and its consequences. It does not mean they are to condemn someone as if to pass judgment; for God is the only true judge. It does mean if someone is a Christian in the church and committing blatant sin it should be confronted. Confrontation of sin does not mean that love, grace and mercy are not given. In fact Paul later writes the church to say extend this man the love, grace and mercy Christ extended; bring him back into the church and restore him. Confronting sin should always be done out of motivation of love for the sinner. More mercy and grace should always be extended to those who do not know better. But for those who know and understand they are sinning; they should not be allowed to do so within the church without someone speaking up. Galatians 6:1-2 says, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”


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Romans 15:1-2 (The Message translation)
1 -2 Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, "How can I help?"

The words of the apostle here in Romans is to remind us our goal is not to seek out that which can be lawfully done, but instead focus on our conduct and how it may affect others. The grace of Christ allows us freedom from the law, but we must be mindful of those we are weaker and look to us for direction. The strength God gives us allows us to help others, but we must remember not to allow pride to step in and push aside our good works. We all need to be helpers to one another, caring and loving those around us and asking how we can serve.

I read an impressive story of a university chaplain who picked up an author from the airport in his new pickup truck that would be providing a keynote speech at a leadership conference. The author had just traded away a similar truck and the two began to bond over their truck stories. They laughed at the bumper sticker humor that said, “Nothing is more beautiful than a man and his truck.” There are probably some of you who can relate to owning a truck and keeping up its appearance. The next day the chaplain was back to pickup the author to carry him back to the airport. As the author went to step into the chaplain’s new truck he realized dents and scrapes down the side of the truck. Curious he asked, “What happened to the truck?” The chaplain replied that his neighbor’s basketball goal had fallen over and damaged the side of the truck. The author said that was terrible; you can still smell the newness of the truck. The chaplain responded, “It’s even worst. The neighbor does not feel responsible for the damage.” Jumping to his new friend’s defense he asked the chaplain wasn’t he going to contact the neighbor’s insurance or try to recover the damages. No was the response of the chaplain. “After a lot of soul-searching and discussions with my wife about hiring an attorney, it came down to this: I can either be in the right, or I can be in a relationship with my neighbor. Since my neighbor will probably be with me longer than this truck, I decided that I'd rather be in a relationship than be right. Besides, trucks are meant to be banged up, so I got mine initiated into the real world a bit earlier than I expected." Wow! If only all of us could learn the importance of maintaining relationships over just being right. Proverbs says, “Don’t plot harm against your neighbor, for those who live nearby trust you.”

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Proverbs 24:16 (NLT)
16 The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked.

This proverb is an encouragement to those who follow God. Any man is subject to sin, but when the righteous fall they recover by the grace of God. Maybe they fall seven times to sin and the sins of iniquity; but the just through wisdom repent and find the mercy and grace of God. Those who do not follow God fall into disaster of their own making and it is enough to lead them to ruin.

Some countries have different driving qualifications from others. In South Korea it took one man 5 years to pass his driving test. The 69 year old repairman said he had been illiterate most of his life and could not read the required driving manual. There was not an option for an oral exam, so he kept going back trying to pass the written portion of the test. In the five years of testing he attempted to obtain a license 271 times. Even when they finally offered oral exams it was difficult not being able to read the driving handbook. But Mr. Seo was determined and kept trying until he was able to finally pass the exam. The exam office said Mr. Seo was such a frequent visitor he felt like family. They rejoiced with him after he passed his test. For those who love God they may face many trials and many failures. They may fall, but because they know the love and grace of God they are able to stand again. They know God’s mercy and they repent and accept God’s grace. And the people of God rejoice knowing the person finally passed the test.

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Nehemiah 1:5-9
5 Then I said, “O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands, 6 listen to my prayer! Look down and see me praying night and day for your people Israel. I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned! 7 We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, decrees, and regulations that you gave us through your servant Moses. 8 “Please remember what you told your servant Moses: ‘If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations. 9 But if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them, then even if you are exiled to the ends of the earth, I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored.’

This is a prayer of Nehemiah referencing all the other prayers he had been praying day and night for the people of Jerusalem. In his prayer he confesses his own sins and the sins of his family. He remember’s God’s promise and prays that the promise will be realized.

If you have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ into your life as Lord and Savior then you have been blessed by the Holy Spirit. Paul tells us in Romans, “The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” While we may not always know what to pray for or how to pray our prayers are heard and the Holy Spirit expresses what needs to be made known. Jesus also is there pleading for us. It also says in Romans, “Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.” So when you pray remember not only is God listening to your prayer, but the Holy Spirit is praying for you and Jesus is pleading for the forgiveness of your sins.

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Mark 13:1-8 (NLT)
1 As Jesus was leaving the Temple that day, one of his disciples said, “Teacher, look at these magnificent buildings! Look at the impressive stones in the walls.” 2 Jesus replied, “Yes, look at these great buildings. But they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!” 3 Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives across the valley from the Temple. Peter, James, John, and Andrew came to him privately and asked him, 4 “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will show us that these things are about to be fulfilled?” 5 Jesus replied, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, 6 for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. 7 And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. 8 Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in many parts of the world, as well as famines. But this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.

As this chapter of Mark starts we see the disciples are amazed at the great buildings they saw around the temple. Christ was quick to tell them the buildings would one day be demolished so He might bring them back to reality that even something so amazing in present times does not have lasting substance. Some of the disciples began to wonder when the temple building would be destroyed. Jesus told them not to be panicked or disturbed over the things that would take place. Instead they were to keep their focus on the true Messiah and not those who claimed to be.

A person once said, “Life is what happens when you are making other plans.” Life ticks away second by second. While people were going on with their lives during the 1950’s, it was the start of the cold war. It brought about uneasy feelings and even a new term, MAD, mutually assured destruction. While many people thought this might be the end of the world the Soviet Union collapsed and the Berlin wall came down. There were even two great buildings that many admired and visited. Remembering the words of Jesus as the disciples admired the great buildings around them He said, “Yes, look at these great buildings. But they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!” On September 11, 2001 the great majestic towers of the World Trade Center fell from the act of terrorism. Plans that were made suddenly ceased and many had to take a new course in life. Many have suffered from such terrible personal crisis they wonder how life can go on. Yet life continues to tick away second by second. If you walk through Washington, D.C. there are many reminders of past wars. These wars have come and gone and all that remains are the memories. Yet we ask the question when will the end of time come? In some ways it is the continuance of man’s sin to want to know as much as God knows. What is something far worst than disasters, the possibilities of war, and the potential devastation of mankind? Not trusting God, not placing faith in the Salvation of Christ and not believing that nothing can separate us from the love of God, not even personal crisis, wars, terrorist acts or even economic recession. Do not fear the future, but instead place your faith and trust in God who will carry you through even in the difficult times.

AskMe #2104116 08/05/08 06:16 AM
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James 5:13-18 (NLT)
13 Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. 14 Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. 16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. 17 Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! 18 Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.

In these verses James focuses on the power of prayer. There are various conditions in this world we must deal with and it is up to us to submit ourselves to God in prayer about these conditions. James focuses on sin and says we need to confess those sins to righteous others who can help us deal with them and also pray for us. James reminds us of the power of prayer. Elijah prayed there would be no rain and none fell for three and a half years. Then he prayed again and the rains came yielding crops.

There have been times some of us have asked God for a miracle to take place in our lives. Maybe a loved one is sick or maybe we have fallen on hard times. God is always listening to our prayers and wants to answer them in ways that follow His will. Christ for instance grieved at the thought of taking on the sin of the world and the horrible death He had to face. Jesus even prayed if the situation could be taken away, please let it be so. But God answered by strengthening Christ to help Him fulfill the plan of Salvation. It might not have been the answer Christ was looking for, but it was an answer to Christ’s prayer and it was an answer to man’s prayers as well. In my personal life there are times I know God listened as I prayed and His response even surprised me. Those surprises lead me to believe if I had more faith maybe I wouldn’t be so surprised by God’s answer. Yet God is faithful and He wants to meet our needs. Are there issues in your life you are dealing with? Take the time and pray to God about them. Don’t make prayer something difficult; make it a natural conversation with the Father who loves you. Pray for others and watch the wonders that take place.

AskMe #2105500 08/06/08 10:21 PM
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Revelation 22:1-6 (NLT)
1 Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations. 3 No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. 4 And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. 5 And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever. 6 Then the angel said to me, “Everything you have heard and seen is trustworthy and true. The Lord God, who inspires his prophets, has sent his angel to tell his servants what will happen soon.”

These verses are a part of the single revelation made known to John by an angel sent from the Lord. A paradise is described, one which replaces the paradise lost by man to sin. Here in this paradise exists not only the tree of life, but a river of life; eternal life never ending. The original paradise also included the tree of life, which God had to guard man against so that he would not live eternally with sin. God and Christ are present. They are served and worshiped by those who bear their name. It is those who faithfully trusted God and His plan for the salvation of man from sin. Their service is given in freedom and honor; fully illuminated by the Lord.

When man fell to sin the tree of life was secured by God such that man could not return to it. The words “tree of life” was used seven times in the Old Testament. Three times it was mentioned as the tree in the Garden of Eden. Four other times it was mentioned in proverbs as the fruit of a righteous and holy life. The remainder of the references is found in the book of Revelation. Revelation 22:14 says, “Blessed are those who wash their robes. They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life.” The tree of life was so precious God had to protect man from it once he fell into sin. Yet here we find God saying those who have washed their robes; those who have taken on the blood of Christ; those who have placed their trust in Christ; those who bear His name; those, yes those will be able to take from the tree of life.

AskMe #2106056 08/07/08 03:49 PM
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ISAIAH 50:10-11 (The MESSAGE)
10 -11Who out there fears God, actually listens to the voice of his servant? For anyone out there who doesn't know where you're going, anyone groping in the dark, Here's what: Trust in God. Lean on your God! But if all you're after is making trouble, playing with fire, Go ahead and see where it gets you. Set your fires, stir people up, blow on the flames, But don't expect me to just stand there and watch. I'll hold your feet to those flames.

God speaks through Isaiah in these verses to those who at the moment feel out of touch with God. It is as though they are walking in darkness, groping around, searching for the answers they need. There are two possible things the person can do: 1) continue to trust in God, or 2) head off in their own direction, frustrated and letting their emotions run wild like a forest fire.

A missionary once told a story of his travels through Africa. One night as the missionary and a companion were making a trip to another city the lights on their jeep suddenly went out. The two found themselves fearfully alone in total darkness, on a dirt road in the African wilderness. The companion remembering there was a flashlight in the glove box groped around until he found it. He then got out of the jeep and sat on the hood with just enough light from the flashlight to see the edges of the road and a few feet ahead. He told the missionary to drive forward as he vigilantly watched ahead. The missionary listened to his companion, who he could not even see, as the companion said steer left or right. It took a while, but they eventually arrived safely at their destination. Our lives are sometimes similar to this story. We can be traveling along in life and suddenly find ourselves surrounded in darkness, unsure of what to do, alone and fearful of the road ahead. We can stay there in our fear trying on our own to deal with the problems or we can trust God will lead us even though He seems out of sight. We can listen for His voice as He directs us along the proper path. Then finally we can arrive at the place God wanted us to go. Those who trust God are not assured the path ahead can be easily traveled, but He does promise not to leave or forsake us. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

AskMe #2107729 08/11/08 05:25 AM
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Ecclesiastes 12:1-7 (The Message)
1 -2 Honor and enjoy your Creator while you're still young, Before the years take their toll and your vigor wanes, Before your vision dims and the world blurs And the winter years keep you close to the fire. 3 -5 In old age, your body no longer serves you so well. Muscles slacken, grip weakens, joints stiffen. The shades are pulled down on the world. You can't come and go at will. Things grind to a halt. The hum of the household fades away. You are wakened now by bird-song. Hikes to the mountains are a thing of the past. Even a stroll down the road has its terrors. Your hair turns apple-blossom white, Adorning a fragile and impotent matchstick body. Yes, you're well on your way to eternal rest, While your friends make plans for your funeral. 6 -7 Life, lovely while it lasts, is soon over. Life as we know it, precious and beautiful, ends. The body is put back in the same ground it came from. The spirit returns to God, who first breathed it.

These verses may have been written by Solomon in his older age as he reflected upon his past life. He says one should honor the creator while they are young, before the years of life takes a toll on their body. The further along you are in life the closer you are death, closer to the eternal life God has waiting. Life as beautiful as it is lasts like a flower on a plant, its beauty only remains for a short period of time and then it returns to the ground from which it came.

A study found that those who won silver medals during the Olympics were often disappointed, while those who won bronze medals were often happier. It comes from a view of perspective. For the silver medallist they came close to receiving the gold medal, but fell slightly short in their attempts. They became disappointed because they thought with a little more effort maybe they could have gotten the gold. The bronze medallist focused on how close they come to failure and they were happy to be acknowledged for their efforts. In the youth of our life we see the things we can do and we start to believe with just a little more we could accomplish must. What happens though is we become reliant on ourselves and not our God who created us. But as the years pass and we become weaker, we become happy just to survive here on earth. We start seeing our need and dependence on the Lord and the life He will give us after our death. Change your perspective now and focus on what the Lord can do for you in your life. Learn to be content and happy and enjoy the good things you have been given. For one day the body will not be able to enjoy what its youth had to offer. Give praise to the Lord for the good things He has provides. And always honor and praise the Lord for watching over you life.

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Acts 26:9-18 (NLT)
9 “I used to believe that I ought to do everything I could to oppose the very name of Jesus the Nazarene. 10 Indeed, I did just that in Jerusalem. Authorized by the leading priests, I caused many believers there to be sent to prison. And I cast my vote against them when they were condemned to death. 11 Many times I had them punished in the synagogues to get them to curse Jesus. I was so violently opposed to them that I even chased them down in foreign cities. 12 “One day I was on such a mission to Damascus, armed with the authority and commission of the leading priests. 13 About noon, Your Majesty, as I was on the road, a light from heaven brighter than the sun shone down on me and my companions. 14 We all fell down, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is useless for you to fight against my will.’ 15 “‘Who are you, lord?’ I asked. “And the Lord replied, ‘I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. 16 Now get to your feet! For I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and witness. You are to tell the world what you have seen and what I will show you in the future. 17 And I will rescue you from both your own people and the Gentiles. Yes, I am sending you to the Gentiles 18 to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in me.’

The apostle Paul speaks to King Agrippa about how he personally persecuted those who believed in Christ. He sent some to prison, some he condemned to death. Paul was even present at the stoning of Stephen. Paul had made it his mission to destroy Christianity, but then as he walked down a road to Damascus a voice called out to him. It was the voice of Jesus asking Paul why he was persecuting him. Jesus took this very man who was against him and used him to reach the Gentiles that they might turn from darkness to light and turn from Satan to God. For by their belief they would receive forgiveness for their sins and would become a part of God’s family.

What road have you been walking down in life? Maybe you have been walking down a road of self destruction. Maybe it was a road leading you away from God and to the sinful pleasures of the world. Maybe you have been lost on the road seeking for something, but not knowing what it was. What if Christ suddenly called out to you would you be ready to listen? Paul was out to destroy those who wanted to know Christ. In fact Paul put many to death who proclaimed the name of Christ as their savior. They were willing to die for the salvation of sin they believed in. If Christ is calling out to you; take the time to listen. Christ himself will lead you down the road you were meant to follow. Just think as Christ frees you from the sins in your life He gives you the opportunity to help free others. May you can be a blessing to our Lord and follow His light instead of the darkness in the world. May God bless you and bring you closer to the family of God.

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