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Gifted…

February 28, 2017

February 28, 2017

Today in History
On this day in 1784 – English churchman John Wesley, 80, formally chartered the movement within Anglicanism which afterward came to be known as Wesleyan Methodism. Despite the fact that he was an Anglican, Wesley saw the need to provide church structure for his followers after the Anglican Church abandoned its American believers during the American Revolution.

Today in the Word
Acts 10:38 MSG
[Peter said,]  “Then Jesus arrived from Nazareth, anointed by God with the Holy Spirit, ready for action. He went through the country helping people and healing everyone who was beaten down by the Devil. He was able to do all this because God was with him.”

Today’s Reflection
The Bible talks about the Holy Spirit as the promised gift of God. While there are many amazing things about this gift, one of the most amazing is that the gift of the Holy Spirit, this anointing from God, is something we share in common with Jesus. More than just helping us know intellectually the truth about Jesus (1 John 2:20-27), the Holy Spirit is at work to conform us to be like Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18). This gift ensures that God is not “out there somewhere,” but that God lives in us and we are his holy temple because of his presence within us (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Our response? To be people in whom God is glorified! We are gifted, and we, in turn, glorify the Giftor!

Today’s Prayer
Almighty God, to think you would come and live inside me through your Holy Spirit is incredibly humbling. I confess that I do not think about this reality as frequently as I should. There are times that I have not dedicated myself to being a holy place for your presence to dwell. Please cleanse me, purify my heart, and be glorified in my actions as I try to live consciously for your glory. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen

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One Body, One Spirit, One Hope

February 20, 2017

February 20, 2017

Today in History
On this day in 1792 – President George Washington formally created the U.S. Postal Service with the signing of the Postal Service Act, which outlined in detail Congressional power to establish official mail routes. The act allowed for newspapers to be included in mail deliveries and made it illegal for postal officials to open anyone’s mail. In 1792, a young American nation of approximately 4 million people enjoyed federally funded postal services including 75 regional post offices and 2,400 miles of postal routes. The cost of sending a letter ranged from 6 cents to 12 cents. Under Washington, the Postal Service administration was headquartered in Philadelphia. In 1800, it followed other federal agencies to the nation’s new capital in Washington, D.C.

Today in the Word
Ephesians 4:4-6 NLT
For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.

Today’s Reflection
Unity is more than just getting along. At the core of maintaining unity and keeping the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3), there is ONE core reality. Paul emphasizes this core reality by using “one” seven times. These seven immutable and essential elements of our faith include the “one Spirit” — the Holy Spirit of God who is at work in us. We must never let the Spirit of God become relegated to a place of diminished importance. We must, however, realize that just as the “one Lord” animates and defines the “one hope,” the “one faith,” and the “one baptism,” so also the “one Spirit” empowers and defines the nature of our being the “one body” as we seek to honor the “one God.”

Today’s Prayer
Almighty God, I commit to love you with all of my heart, my soul, my mind, and my strength. I praise you for revealing yourself as Father, Son, and Spirit. I thank you for the Lord Jesus, the Son, the basis of my Christian faith, the source of my hope, and the focus of my baptism. I thank you for being present in me as the Spirit, my connection to your body, the church, and to you. May what I think and how I live bring honor to you as the one God. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

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God Dearly Loves Us

February 14, 2017

February 14, 2017

Today in History
On this day in 1949 – Russian-born English chemist and Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann, 74, was elected first president of the newly restored modern state of Israel. The Knesset first convened on February 14, 1949, following the 20 January elections, replacing the Provisional State Council which acted as Israel’s official legislature from its date of independence on May 14, 1948. The term “Knesset” is derived from the ancient Great Assembly or Great Synagogue which according to Jewish tradition was an assembly of 120 scribes, sages, and prophets, in the period from the end of the Biblical prophets to about 200 BC.

Today in the Word
NLT Romans 5:5 NLT
And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Today’s Reflection
It’s hard to believe that there is an endless supply of anything! But the promise of this passage, even in its context of suffering and difficulty, is that we have an endless supply of love as the Holy Spirit fills our hearts with love. It is as big as God and is supplied by the Holy Spirit’s living inside us as followers of Jesus. We can receive and be blessed by God’s love, and we have the power to love others out of God’s deep reservoir of love.

Today’s Prayer
Gracious Father, thank you for this promise to fill our hearts with your love! Thank you for your powerful grace, given to me through your Spirit, that enables me both to receive your love and to love others as Jesus did. May my life reflect this powerful gift in both good times and bad. In Jesus’ name, I thank you. Amen.

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God pours love into our hearts

February 13, 2017

February 13, 2017

Today in History
On this day in 1849 – Otterbein College (Now Otterbein University) was chartered in Westerville, Ohio, under sponsorship of the United Brethren Church. Early in its history, the University aligned itself with causes. University officials joined city founders in support of emancipation, and were active participants in assisting runaway slaves as Westerville became a station along the Underground Railroad. The town of Westerville was also home to the Anti-Saloon League. Today Otterbein is still, officially, a “dry” campus.

Today in the Word
Thessalonians 4:8-9 NLT
Therefore, anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human teaching but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. But we don’t need to write to you about the importance of loving each other, for God himself has taught you to love one another.

Today’s Reflection
God keeps on giving us the vitally empowering presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. One of the great blessings about this presence is that God pours love into our hearts through the Spirit (Romans 5:5). Along with the great example of God’s love in sending Jesus (John 3:16-17), the Father uses the Spirit to teach us how to love each other (Galatians 5:22-23). We are to be filled with the Spirit as we submit to one another (Ephesians 5:17-21). We share in the fellowship of the Spirit as fellow believers (2 Corinthians 13:14). We live together in unity and pursue peace as the Spirit transforms us to be ever more like Christ (Ephesians 4:3-4). Loving each other is not only a command; it is also part of God’s continuing work in us through the Holy Spirit.

Today’s Prayer
Dear God, I confess that I do not always love others as I should. I ask you to make me like Jesus in my love for others. I am thankful for the presence of the Holy Spirit to help me see those to whom I need to show your love and to empower me to love them when it is difficult. In Jesus’ name, I pray for this grace. Amen.

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Soon!

February 3, 2017

February 3, 2017

Today in History
On this day in 1985 – In South Africa, Desmond Tutu, 53, became Johannesburg’s first black Anglican bishop.  He was a South African social rights activist and retired Anglican bishop who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid.  He has campaigned to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984; the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism in 1986; the Pacem in Terris Award in 1987; the Sydney Peace Prize in 1999; the Gandhi Peace Prize in 2007; and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.

Today in the Word
Acts 1:5 MESSAGE
[Jesus said,]  “John baptized in water; you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit. And soon.”

Today’s Reflection
“Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised!” These were Jesus’ words to his closest followers. Now we understand why. When John the Baptizer came, he spoke of one who would baptize in the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:7-8). Soon after Jesus ascended back to heaven, the kingdom of God would break into the world with fresh power. In the kingdom, the Holy Spirit is given to every true follower of Jesus. The early disciples stood on the edge of Pentecost and the beginning of a new movement of God that would sweep up all sorts of people into his kingdom. And we are part of that great movement. We, too, are filled with this same Holy Spirit. Jesus still calls us to live out the good news of God’s kingdom in our world by the power of the Holy Spirit… and to do it now!

Today’s Prayer
Father, thank you for your plan: the call of Abraham, the leadership of Moses, the heart of worship in David, the faithfulness of the prophets — all who worked, led, spoke, and pointed to your great work to redeem the world and create a people who reflect your character and compassion. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, please form us — please form me, those I love, and all of Jesus’ disciples — into the people who live your will in the world. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

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A Special Gift

February 2, 2017

February 2, 2017

Today in History

On this day in 1881 – The first formal church youth organization was established in the Williston Congregational Church in Portland, Maine, by the Rev. Francis E. Clark, 29. Originally called “Christian Endeavor,” it became the prototype of the modern denominational “youth fellowship.”

Today in the Word
Acts 1:4 NLT
Once when he [Jesus] was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before.”

Today’s Reflection
While the apostles were to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:18-20), the Lord also told them to wait — not to leave Jerusalem before receiving the promised gift from God. This promised gift is the Holy Spirit. The apostles needed the power the prophets had promised would be the sign and abiding power of the new age. Prophets like Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Joel had spoken about the pouring out of the Spirit and the Spirit’s presence in each follower’s heart. So the closest followers of Jesus were commanded to wait, not to leave Jerusalem. So they waited and prayed. The Father was going to fulfill the promise of the prophets. He was about to begin his great new work in the world, in the name of Jesus, through these ordinary folks. And now, he wants to do it through us! What is the source of their — and our — ability to do this great new work? The power of the Holy Spirit.

Today’s Prayer
Father God, I know the Bible is full of many promises. I thank you for your faithfulness to these promises. I praise you for your grace and mercy, for without them, none of the promises would have been fulfilled. I confess that I have not always been as faithful as I should, yet your faithfulness has remained firm, gracious, and trustworthy. And for this great promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit — the living testimony to your faithfulness — I praise and thank you, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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January 30, 2017 Today in History On this day in 1867 &#821...

January 30, 2017

January 30, 2017

Today in History
On this day in 1867 – The American branch of the Evangelical Alliance was organized at the Bible House in New York City, with William E. Dodge elected president. William Dodge was an interesting businessman in American history. He transformed the family import business into the world’s largest copper mining operation, he had other interests outside of Phelps Dodge, too. He was a leader of the Ansonia Clock Company, American Brass Company, Atlantic Mutual Insurance Company, Lackawanna Steel Company, Morningside Realty Company, United Globe Mines, and the New York Life Insurance Company. He was vice president of the New York Chamber of Commerce at the time of his death.

He was chairman of the National Arbitration Committee, and helped raised funds for and guide the Metropolitan Museum of Art (he was chairman of the Executive Committee), the American Museum of Natural History (he was vice-president for a time), and the New York Botanical Garden. He was a member of the American Historical Association, New York Academy of Sciences, American Fine Arts Society, New York Geographical Society, New-York Historical Society, the New England Society of New York, the Century Association, and the National Academy of Design.

A Presbyterian, Dodge was president of the American branch of the Evangelical Alliance and the National Temperance Society (as his father was before him), and vice-president of the American Sunday School Union. He was active in the New York City chapter of the Young Men’s Christian Association, and led the efforts to build the chapter’s first and second buildings.

Today in the Word
Mark 3:28-30 NIV
[Jesus said,]  “Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” He said this because they [the teachers of the law]  were saying, “He has an impure spirit.”

Today’s Reflection
This verse strikes fear in some folks because they sometimes are afraid they may be guilty of this sin. However, in this context, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit means denying the power of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ ministry and miraculous power. It means saying that Jesus’ ability to do miracles comes from the power of demons while denying that his power comes from the Holy Spirit of God. This mistake is not something we as disciples of Jesus are going to do accidentally!

So, sit down and read through the Gospel of Mark. Be reminded of the great power of Jesus to heal and cast out demons. Then, realize that the power of the Holy Spirit is at work in you as a follower of Jesus. The power of the Holy Spirit to transform, heal, and make new is at work in you! Give glory to God for the incredible presence of the Spirit in your life.

Today’s Prayer
Father God, when I see the incredible power displayed in the ministry of Jesus, I cannot help but wish I were alive in the days when he performed his miracles. However, I am humbled to realize that the Holy Spirit who empowered his miracles is the gift of your presence inside of me, given by your grace to empower, comfort, and encourage me. Use the Holy Spirit to conform me to the character and compassion of Jesus, in whose name I thank and praise you. Amen.

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Calibrating Our Faith

January 25, 2017

January 25, 2017

Today in History
On this day in 1776 – The Continental Congress authorizes the first national Revolutionary War memorial in honor of Brigadier General Richard Montgomery, who had been killed during an assault on Quebec on December 31, 1775. Montgomery, along with Benedict Arnold, led a two-pronged invasion of Canada in late 1775. Before joining Arnold at Quebec, Montgomery successfully took Montreal. But the Patriot assault on Quebec failed, and Montgomery became one of the first generals of the American Revolution to lose his life on the battlefield.

Today in the Word
2 Timothy 3:14-17 NLT
But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

Today’s Reflection
Paul challenges Timothy to be faithful to what he had been taught and to remember why he could trust what he had been taught. Paul reminded Timothy that Scripture can make us wise, give us faith, correct us, teach us, prepare us, and equip us in two important ways: (1) through a Spirit-filled mentor or parent, and (2) through the Scriptures themselves, which he describes as holy and inspired (God-breathed or Spirit-inspired). In other words, people formed by the Spirit and by the word that the Spirit inspired are the source of the Scripture’s power. Why would we ever neglect to let the “sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17) be at work in our lives?

Today’s Prayer
Father in heaven, thank you for speaking to us in words. As I place myself under the guidance of the words of Scripture, dear Father, I pray that the Holy Spirit uses them to form me into a person who is increasingly more like Jesus each day. In the name of the Lord Jesus, I pray. Amen.

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Nearer to God

January 18, 2017

January 18, 2017
Today in History

On this day in 1846 – Taylor University, a private, interdenominational, evangelical Christian college, was established in Fort Wayne, Indiana, under Methodist sponsorship. Taylor University is one of the oldest evangelical Christian colleges in America and has been ranked first in U.S. News and World Report’s guide to America’s Best Colleges among 109 Midwest Regional Colleges since 2007.

Today in the Word
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

Today’s Reflection
When this was written, temples were the places where the gods were thought to live. More than places of worship, these were places of presence. So when Paul reminds us that we are temples of God’s presence through the Holy Spirit, he is saying something quite profound. God lives in us! We are the place of God’s dwelling. We are holy temples, not because we cleansed ourselves or made ourselves into some incredible dwelling place but because God bought us with the price of Jesus’ life. We are his purchased prime real estate so that his glorious presence can be seen in the world in which we live. As the place where God lives by his Spirit, we are challenged to honor and glorify God with our bodies, his temples. No matter how you may look at your physical appearance, remember this: you are holy, precious, and glorious because the King of Glory has made his home in you through the Holy Spirit!

Today’s Prayer
Father in heaven, today’s passage reminds me of your incredible nearness to me, even within me. Forgive me when I have not realized your presence in me through the Holy Spirit. Forgive me when I have devalued myself and my body as a temple of your holy presence. Please be glorified in who I am, what I say, how I live, and what I think. To you be glory, in Jesus’ name and through your Spirit’s presence. Amen.

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Holy Spirit Motivated

January 13, 2017

January 13, 2017

Today in History
On this day in 1936 – Baptist clergyman B.B. McKinney, 50, wrote the words and tune to the gospel song, “Wherever He Leads, I’ll Go,” a few days before the opening of a Sunday school convention in Alabama. The American Sunday school system was first begun by Samuel Slater in his textile mills in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, in the 1790s. Historically Sunday Schools were held in the afternoons in various communities often staffed by workers from varying denominations. Beginning in the United States in the early 1930s and Canada in the 1940s the transition was made to Sunday mornings. Sunday school often takes the form of a one-hour or longer Bible study which can occur before, during, or after a church service.

Today in the Word
Acts 19:2 NLT; Acts 19:4-6 NLT
“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” he [Paul] asked them. “No,” they replied, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”…  Paul said, “John’s baptism called for repentance from sin. But John himself told the people to believe in the one who would come later, meaning Jesus.” As soon as they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied.

Today’s Reflection
Faith and baptism in the New Testament, and especially in the book of Acts, are tied to the gift of the Holy Spirit. As we saw yesterday (Romans 8:9), the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is God’s defining mark that we are adopted into his family. The promise of God’s forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit are foundational blessings of our salvation and are received at our conversion (Acts 2:38-39). When we talk about the blessings of salvation and the grace of God, let’s not forget to emphasize both the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38) and the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome temptation and sin (Romans 8:13). Conversion to Jesus means being reborn by the power of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-7; Titus 3:3-7).

Today’s Prayer
Father in heaven, Holy God, your grace toward me is amazing! That you forgave all of my past sins when I came to Jesus is such a wonderful gift — to know that you pardoned my past and made me a new creation, pure and holy! Forgive me, dear Father, for the times I have remembered this grace and forgotten the additional gift of grace — the Holy Spirit — that Jesus sent to live in me. I look to the Spirit’s holy presence to strengthen me and lead me in the way of Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.

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