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Friday, February 25, 2011

Covered bridge and Amish buggy
Amish buggy entering into White Rock Covered Bridge in southern Lancaster County.
There's the distinct sound of the clackety-clack of horseshoes on the wooden bridge deck!

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"Thanks For Praying"

"Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should" (Ephesians 6:19-20).

I heard a compelling story from a friend named Bill that reminded me of the importance of prayer. Many years earlier he met a man and had a burden to pray for him. Bill didn't have an opportunity to share a verbal witness but prayed for this man over the years, though there was no evidence as far as he could determine that he had any spiritual interest. Five years later Bill was visiting a church as a representative of a mission. In the congregation was that very man he had been praying for (who had no idea he would be there or even had any association with that type of church). As they shared together following the service the man expressed how God was working in his life as a follower of Christ.

Today as you're reading this devotional and have an interest in the things of God, remember, somebody prayed for you. Actually many people have. You will easily recall some of them as you read this, others you may not even be aware of. Faithful people spent time on their knees lifting your name up to God. Pause, if you can, right now to consider several and thank God for them. Some may be in heaven, but I'm sure God has a way of getting the message to them! Others are living and may need a brief, but earnest word of thanks from you for their vital investment in your life.  It will spur them on to prayerfully invest in even more lives.

Paul in prisonIn our daily text the apostle Paul writes from a prison cell as he shares his prayer request with the Ephesian believers. We have a lot more record of Paul's prayers for others than requests he makes with regard to his own needs, probably because he includes them in his correspondence to the churches! Yet Paul was aware of how dependent he was on the prayers of other believers.

Surely there were many who prayed for his salvation over the years, especially those to whom he persecuted. The martyr Stephen, in his dying plea, prayed for those who opposed him, which certainly included Saul who gave consent for his death. "While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.' Then he fell on his knees and cried out, 'Lord, do not hold this sin against them.'" Immediately following his prayer he died (or as the Scripture reads, he "fell asleep" (Acts 7:59,60).

I wonder if Saul was within hearing distance of that extremely generous prayer; certainly God was. Stephen's prayer was in concert with many others who were pleading in prayer for Saul's salvation when he was "still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples." Surely Ananias prayed when he went on his most memorable personal evangelism visit following Saul's conversion. Barnabas doubtlessly prayed often for the young convert.

The main focus in Paul's prayer request to the Ephesians is very instructive. He didn't request prayer for a quick release from prison, although I am sure he would have gladly welcomed that. He didn't ask for better food or more comfortable living conditions. He wasn't insisting on bodybuilding equipment for the prison weight room.  I'm sure his 24/7 heavy chains built plenty of muscle every time he moved!

No, he asked prayer concerning his ministry of witness for the Lord, that "whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel."

Today I encourage you to keep on praying. It's wonderful when we see the evidence of our prayers but I believe there are many, many answered prayers we will not see until we reach the other side. Some of you have prayed for us and continue to do so. Thanks so very much! We are where we are today because you, and many others, have taken the time to pray.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, we are so grateful for the power of prayer and its positive affect in our lives.  Yet we confess that we don't avail ourselves to Your prescribed means of communication nearly as often as we should.  Jesus quoted Scripture when refuting Satan's temptations in the wilderness experience and He spent time in intense prayer when He needed strength, courage, and faith for the trials that lay ahead.  We likewise pray for our brothers and sisters, that their faith in You will mature and that they will remain faithful in times of testing. We pray for ourselves that we will stand firm and remain confident in our Christian faith as we oppose the evil forces in this world.  In the name of Jesus we ask these things. Amen.

Our conviction is that most of the expressions of service for Christ are taking place unheralded in scores of smaller settings all around the world. We witnessed such an expression yesterday.

Golden Nuggets
Golden Nuggets is an example of a local church serving the community with a meal and time of fellowship for the elderly in our community.

Golden Nuggets
Part of the Golden Nuggets crew who prepare, serve and cleanup!
Left to right, Rochelle, Evie, Naomi and Oren

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Somebody's Praying Me Through"  Video  Here's a touching version by a young girl dealing with cancer.

"Somebody's Praying"  

"Pray For Me"  Video

"If My People Pray"  Video

"He's Everything To Me"  Video  

Got Faith Community Church sign
I had referred to this post earlier this week but a reminder for any who may be interested concerning a new post to my humor blog titled, "Pastor Discovers New Church Growth Method"  Note: This is fiction, humor and satire. Satire is often misunderstood so I caution you, please do not write to encourage or rebuke Pastor Chip or the "Got Faith Community Church", as much as you might be tempted since they really don't exist! However I do allow moderated comments on the humor blog if you have additional suggestions based on this church growth method or want to respond to the article.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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