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Monday, February 13, 2012

Full moon over Homestead Road, Lancaster County PA (photo by Nancy Martin)
Full moon over Homestead Road, Lancaster County, PA
(photo by Nancy Martin)
Click on image for larger version with hymn portion.

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"He Hears Our Prayers"

"The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16). "Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them" (Daniel 10:12).

Courageous movie posterLast night we had a group of friends over to eat chili and then to watch "Courageous". Many of our readers have likely seen this movie and if you haven't we strongly recommend it. It's not just for men, but it is a call for families to boldly take a stand for Christ. We're confident that it is making a mighty impact for the Lord, not just for the present generation but for those who follow. It is a powerful reminder of the importance of being a godly father and exemplary role model. It also shows the heartbreaking consequences for one who repeats the vows to courageously live for God but doesn't keep them.

Pastor Rogers in "Courageous"A touching scene is when the main actor, Adam Mitchell, who had just lost his daughter in an automobile accident, meets with his pastor and determines he wants to be the husband and father God wants him to be. The movie reveals how over time God answers this prayer and how many others are affected by this man's decision to courageously follow Christ.

When we speak of "unanswered prayer" many of you personally know what we mean; both in theory and in practice. We've all had needs that we prayed for and the outcome was not as we desired or the answer was delayed for what seemed to be an agonizing length of time.  We realize that some will take issue with the word "unanswered," but from our limited, human perspective that's the way it seems.  And still other prayers were answered in ways we never would have imagined as God was powerfully working during the wait in ways we could not see with the physical eye. James expresses a simple promise in our first daily verse many of us have memorized,
"The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."

Daniel prayingToday's second verse has a powerful word of encouragement. A severe crisis had been revealed to Daniel. Instead of responding to this potential disaster by immediately picking up a pen and pad to write down his "to do" list he directed his heart toward God. He set his mind to gain understanding and humbled himself before His Father in heaven. The Psalmist gives us a model for directing our hearts to Him, "Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You.  Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul" (143:8).

In response God spoke forth a compassionate command to calm Daniel's anxious thoughts, "Do not be afraid, Daniel."  This command is repeated often in Scripture and its message brings great assurance.

Notice these words, "Since the first day… your words were heard."  What an assurance that brings! There was delay; there was temporal uncertainty which often makes one fearful or nervous, but God heard Daniel's words from the first day and he saw the fear in his heart. 

Daniel's attitude and actions, in response to the crisis at hand, is instructive for each of us today: "You set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God." Daniel's example of surrendering both his mind and heart to the Lord was the key to remaining grounded in his faith as he waited upon God for instruction. This is also important for us today as we undergo prolonged trials and seemingly "unanswered" prayers.

Men praying in "Courageous"What are you dealing with today? What great trial is before you or someone you care about? Are you praying about it, as you set your mind to gain understanding and as you humble yourself before Almighty God?

Be assured that God is not too busy nor is He neglecting you. He does hear you!

Are you, like Daniel, also hearing His word of instruction today?  He is interested in more than just answering your specific prayer, but also deepening your understanding and shaping your attitude to reflect that of the One who gave His all for us. Let Him show You the way you should go as you lift your soul up to Him.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, in the midst of our trials may the problem at hand not be the single focus of our prayers. Help us to seek You for godly understanding and patient endurance, so that our lives are spiritually maturing in the process of waiting upon You to answer our prayers. May seeking You be our primary focus in fulfillment of Christ's command in Matthew 6:33, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto You." In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.

Watching "Courageous"
We had a full house last night with young, middle aged and senior friends.  Our seniors got comfy on the cozy couch next to the coal stove as we viewed the movie, Courageous!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Adam's Final Speech In "Courageous"  Video  Outstanding!

"As For Me And My House"
 Video  John Waller

"God Still Answers Prayer"
 Video  New River

"Psalm 5"
 Video  Maranatha Singers

"God Answers Prayer"
The Steeles

"When We're Together"  Video  Mark Harris  This song is used in the movie and although not necessarily a spiritual song it sure has an upbeat tune that makes us smile and want to sing along!

Pastor Rogers, the pastor in "Courageous" really is a pastor!  See here.

Why Courageous Matters...

Here are the words to the Courageous resolution:
  • I do solemnly resolve before God to take full responsibility for myself, my wife, and my children.
  • I WILL love them, protect them, serve them, and teach them the Word of God as the spiritual leader of my home.
  • I WILL be faithful to my wife, to love and honor her, and be willing to lay down my life for her as Jesus Christ did for me.
  • I WILL bless my children and teach them to love God with all of their hearts, all of their minds, and all of their strength.
  • I WILL train them to honor authority and live responsibly.
  • I WILL confront evil, pursue justice, and love mercy.
  • I WILL pray for others and treat them with kindness, respect, and compassion.
  • I WILL work diligently to provide for the needs of my family.
  • I WILL forgive those who have wronged me and reconcile with those I have wronged.
  • I WILL learn from my mistakes, repent of my sins, and walk with integrity as a man answerable to God.
  • I WILL seek to honor God, be faithful to His church, obey His Word, and do His will.
  • I WILL courageously work with the strength God provides to fulfill this resolution for the rest of my life and for His glory.
"As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." – Joshua 24:15

Finally today:
Witmer Fire Department uniforms
The Witmer firemen protective attire ready for suiting up so they can answer the alarm immediately when called upon.  We're grateful for our emergency workers who come to our aid 24/7 when the call is made.

Witmer Fire Department Ox Roast
Saturday we went to an "Ox Roast" at the Witmer Fire Hall where Lloyd, a friend of ours, serves as a fireman. The Ox Roast is held three times a year to raise funds for the fire department. We had an outstanding meal served family style on long tables by old-order Amish girls.  Food was passed not just once down the long row, but a fresh second helping came along after we finished our first helping! Interestingly, the people we got acquainted with were three different parties from New Jersey, none of them who knew each other before our meal. One man has attended the Ox Roast for 40 years since his childhood days when his parents camped out in the area. Another woman told us she has been making the trip for the past twenty years. I think we'll also be making this an annual event after our enjoyable experience. See here for info.

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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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