Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

I remember as a kid sitting on the church pew leaning against my mother while she joyfully sang the hymns.  One of her favorites that I remember is “Where He Leads I’ll Follow.” 

Sweet are the promises, Kind is the word;

Dearer far than any message man ever heard,

Pure was the mind of Christ, Sinless I see;

He the great example is, and pattern for me

Where…….He Leads I’ll follow,

Fol    –   low all the way.

Where…….He leads I’ll follow,

Follow Jesus ev’ry day. 

As we go through life on this earth, we don’t know exactly where the path of following Jesus will lead us through, but we certainly know where it will ultimately lead us to—

Grace and peace,

Mike

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Before me, even as behind, God is, and all is well. – John Greenleaf Whittier

John Greenleaf Whittier did not come up with the idea that God goes before us and behind us as our guide and shield.  The Lord spoke to Israel through the prophet Isaiah, “For you shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight; for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard” (Isa. 52:12, NKJV).  Isaiah says that we need not fear because the Lord goes before us to clear the way, and He also covers our flanks.  We are hemmed in on every side by the presence of God.  Let us, therefore, affirm in praise today the confidence of David when he wrote, “The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?  The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?  When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.  Though an army besiege me,  my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident” (Ps. 27:1-3, NIV).

Grace and peace,

Mike

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We learn to play by playing; we learn to live by living; We learn to pray by praying; we learn to give by giving.

Yesterday I was blessed to get to hear Art Williams speak.  He was on the campus of Regent University
to be a guest on the 700 Club and agreed to speak to a small group of students for about an hour who had RSVP’ed ahead of time.  I was one of them.  Art was a high school football coach who won seven straight national championships and then he started his own life insurance company.  Focusing on only one product—term life—within just a few years A. L. Williams was the #1 life insurance company in the world with over $300 billion in assets.  Art Williams is a Christian who is a devoted husband and father, a best-selling author and quite the motivational speaker.  His simple, persistent message is: “Winners do it until it’s done.”  His favorite answer to “How do I…?” questions is “You just do it.” 

So maybe it’s time for us to stop saying, “When this happens, I’ll start doing it,” or “If I could only have this, then I could do that,” or “If I only had more time,” or “I’d like to do this, but…,” and simply commit it to the Lord and with His help and a winner’s spirit, do it!  Hmmm!  That does have kind of a biblical ring doesn’t it?  “I can do all things though Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13, NKJV).

Grace and peace,

Mike

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TFT for 7 Nov

“When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan” (Prov. 29:2, NIV).

“While just government protects all their religious rights, true religion affords to government its surest support” –George Washington, October 9, 1789.

“The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure Virtue….”  –John Adams, June 21, 1776 

“I do not think I could, myself, be brought to support a man for office whom I knew to be an open enemy of, and scoffer at religion” –Abraham Lincoln, August 15, 1846.

I encourage you to exercise your right to vote today.  Let your Christian voice be heard.  Vote your conscience.  If you are in Virginia, remember that you have an opportunity to protect the sanctity of marriage as God created it to be by voting “Yes” to Amendment 1.

Grace and peace,

Mike

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We shrink or expand to the size of our vision.

There’s a saying that goes like this, “If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always got.”

Today’s a new day.  It’s a new week.  Perhaps it is time to seek a new vision from God for your life, for your family, for your church, for your future.  What has God gifted you with and what does He want you to do it?  What activities, what ministry does He want you to plug into and serve?  When is the last time you volunteered at church or in the community, simply out of a desire to serve God by serving others?  When is the last time you spoke to spiritual leader and asked for advice about what God’s will for your life is?  When is the last time that you sincerely prayed to God and asked, “Lord, I want to be part of something bigger than myself.  I want to be used by You.  I want to make a difference in people’s lives.  I don’t want to spin my wheels.  I don’t want to waste time.  I don’t want to strain at gnats and swallow camels.  I don’t want to go through the motions.  God, please give me vision of Your will for my life!  God, please fill my heart with Your desires!”  If you just did, then say “amen” and begin earnestly seeking the opportunities and seize them as the Lord provides.  Focus on the things of God.  Get active in church.  Go to Bible study and worship.  Seek the counsel and prayers of others.  Make yourself available and God will make you productive!  It doesn’t matter if you feel gifted or talented, that’s God’s job to provide.  You simply make yourself available; be willing to open your eyes and expand your vision and God will reveal and give you joy, peace and fulfillment.

What do the Scriptures say in this regard?  “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Prov 3:5-6, NIV). 

Grace and peace,

Mike

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Humanity is a symphony whose conductor is God.

There are different applications to draw from this thought for today.  One point to make that is in line with yesterday’s TfT is how God values the diversity of instruments and music that each makes.  The conductor looks out over the musicians and waves his wand (all you orchestra people forgive me; I’m sure there’s a more appropriate word than “wand” to use here) back and forth over them all.  It doesn’t matter where they are seated or what chair number they occupy, all have a place and receive their direction from the conductor. 

A second point is that each musician must practice and learn to play and care for his or her instrument properly.  My 13-year old son, Ryan, is taking Clarinet lessons.  As most of you know, he has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and the clarinet is an instrument that is not too physically challenging for him and it is great exercise for his lungs.  He has had four weeks of practices, but he has yet to start playing.  He is still needing to soak the reed in his mouth to get it conditioned.  Last night we heard him hit a G-note for first time with just the reed and the mouthpiece.  And each time he practices, he has to get out his cleaning kit and properly care for his instrument before putting it back in its case.  In a similar way, each of us as God’s instruments must allow ourselves to be conditioned and realize that it takes a lot of discipline and practice to make beautiful music. 

A third point is that for a symphony to make beautiful music, all the musicians must play the same sheet music in harmony.  The sheet music our Conductor has provided for us is the Bible and we will never make beautiful music in our lives unless we learn to read the music composed for us on the pages of the Bible.  That is why it is important for us to spend time together in Sunday school and worship and during the week studying God’s word.  As we do, our instruments stay in tune and we play the right notes.

Grace and peace,

Mike

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A dewdrop does the will of God as much as a thunderstorm.

1 Peter 4:10 instructs us, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”  Reflect with me for a moment on this verse of Scripture.  “Each one.”  Peter does not say “Each apostle” or “Each prophet” or “Each evangelist” or “Each teacher” or “Each deacon” or “Each elder.”  He says, “Each one.”  That means every single person in God’s church.  Every Christian is gifted.  God has no ungifted children.

Not only does every Christian have at least one spiritual gift, but “whatever gift he has” can and should be used to serve others for the glory of God.  Peter does not say only the “sign gifts” or “teaching gifts” or “healing gifts” or “prophetic gifts” or “administrative gifts” should be used.  He says “whatever gift” that “each one” has should be used.  Whether you are a dewdrop or a thunderstorm in your role you are to faithfully do what God has gifted and called you to do.  In so doing, we are “administering God’s grace in its various forms.”  God likes diversity and variety.  God appreciates differences—He created them!  God is glorified when we individually serve each other in the way God has equipped us to do. If you are a dewdrop, then don’t envy the thunderstorm.  If you are a thunderstorm, then don’t despise the dewdrop.  Rather praise God for the various administrations of His grace and boast not in what your role is but be humbled by the fact that you have a role at all and use it to glorify God by serving others.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.  And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having  gifts  of healing, those able to help others, those with  gifts  of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.  Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?  Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts (1 Cor. 12:27-31, NIV).   

Grace and peace,

Mike

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