Day 32

Intercessory prayer is also a daily service Christians owe to God and one another. Those who deny their neighbors prayers of intercession deny them a service Christians are called to perform. Furthermore, it is clear that intercessory prayer is not something general and vague, but something very concrete. It is interested in specific persons and specific difficulties and therefore specific requests. The more concrete my intercessory prayer becomes the more promising it is…

All this proves that intercessory prayer is a gift of God’s grace for every Christian community and for every Christian. Because God has made us such an immeasurably great offer here, we should accept it joyfully. The very time we give to intercession will turn out to be a daily source of new joy in God and in the Christian congregation.

Biblical Wisdom

“Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you.” 1 Samuel 12:23

Questions to Ponder

  • Is it a contradiction to say that intercessory prayer is both a “daily service Christians owe to God and one another” and “a gift of God’s grace for every Christian community and for every Christian”? Why, or why not?
  • Could the lack of joy evident in many Christians and in many Christian communities be a sign of a lack of specific, concrete, intercessory prayer? Explain.

Psalm Fragment

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
so that those who love your name may exult in you. Psalm 5:11

Journal Reflections

  • Write about how you feel when praying for others in your community of faith.
  • Is intercessory prayer “a daily source of new joy in God and in the Christian congregation” for you? Why, or why not?

Intercessions

Pray that your community of faith in particular, and all communities of faith in general, would experience the joy in God and in each other that comes from the service of daily prayer on behalf of their members.

Prayer for Today

Holy God, thank you for the joy of bringing people into your presence this day and every day.

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Nurturing Great Kids, Day 7

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Today’s reading is drawn from Proverbs 25:13.

Drink It In

Let’s put this verse in the context of parenting. When you receive news that your child has been a blessing to others or that they have been a good student in class—it’s like a refreshing drink. It lightens your spirit and encourages you to press on in this parenting journey. We certainly need that, as parents don’t usually receive a lot of accolades.

As parents, we may become so consumed by our own need for a “cool drink” that we forget our children need it as well, regardless of their age. When we bless our children with words of encouragement or we find a quality in them worthy of celebration—we become like a fresh drink to their spirit.

It’s easy to think that we do enough for them already. But that can’t be our attitude. We must stay in the mindset that our words and deeds are seen as kind and uplifting to them. If you continue to foster this spirit, you can help bring them peace in the tough times and help build a good rapport between you.

Parenting Principle

A fresh drink will quench your children’s thirst and refresh their soul.

Points to Ponder

Who has been a refreshing drink for you?

How could you be more refreshing to your family?

How can you teach your children to be refreshing to others?

[It is not] honorable to search out matters that are too deep.

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Gaither Homecoming: Stories Behind Popular Hymns, Day 7

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Today’s reading is drawn from Luke 2:17-18.

Go Tell It on the Mountain

John Wesley Work, Jr., may not have originated the Negro spiritual “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” but he can take credit for the fact that we still sing it every Christmas. As the son of a church choir director, Work grew up in Nashville loving music. Even though he earned his Master’s in Latin and went on to teach ancient Latin and Greek, his first love continued to be music, and he went on to become the first African-American collector of Negro spirituals.

This proved to be a daunting task for Work because the whole premise of the genre is that they were passed down orally, from plantation to plantation; very few were ever written down. But Work proved up to the challenge, publishing his first book, New Jubilee Songs as Sung by the Fisk Jubilee Singers, in 1901, and the second, New Jubilee Songs and Folk Songs of the American Negro, six years later. It was in this second volume that “Go, Tell It on the Mountain” first appeared. The original singers of the song fulfilled the same important task the angels gave the shepherds that first Christmas night outside of Bethlehem, proclaiming “that Jesus Christ is born!” And thanks to John Wesley Work, so can we.

 

Martha, A Busy Hostess, Day 8

Today’s reading is taken from Luke 10:41-42 and John 11:17-27.

Jesus often went to the home of Martha, who was apparently single, whether by choice or circumstances and living in Bethany with her sister Mary and their brother Lazarus. John’s comment shows that Jesus and the family from Bethany were close friends (Jn 11:5). Martha seemed to enjoy her gift of hospitality and her probable position as the older of the two sisters.

Three scenes appear to reveal Martha’s intensity, which the Lord faced with loving firmness, as recorded by Luke (Lk 10:41–42). Martha’s irritation with her sister led to a confrontation with Jesus as, in effect, she blamed him for Mary’s lack of assistance. His loving response was not a condemnation of Martha’s servant’s heart or a rejection of her zealous and gracious hospitality. He simply asked her to reconsider her priorities, to make her choices on the basis of eternal values instead of immediate pressures and he suggested that she allow Mary to make her own choices.

Several months later, Lazarus became ill while Jesus was traveling many miles away. Although the sisters sent for him, by the time the Lord arrived in Bethany, Lazarus was dead and had been buried for four days. Ignoring the custom of mourners to remain in their homes, Martha took the initiative to meet Jesus as he approached the town and to attribute her brother’s untimely death to Jesus’ delay in reaching Bethany (Jn 11:21).

Again, with trusting faith, Martha acknowledged Jesus’ power over death (v. 22). Jesus explained that he himself was the resurrection. She agreed and saw an immediate manifestation of that faith in her brother’s resurrection (v. 44).

The third glimpse of Martha was reported by John (Jn 12:2). The simple fact that Martha assumed hostessing duties once more confirms the fact that her uncommon talents were being used. Undoubtedly she had become a disciple who experienced God’s power in practical service. Jesus, as well as countless others, needed the physical refreshment of Martha’s warm hospitality. She did not consider her homemaking responsibilities as worthless drudgery. She obviously loved her home and counted it joy to pour her energies into the efficient management of her household. Martha is a poignant reminder to every woman of the balance between fellowship with the family and the work necessary to meet their mundane needs.

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