Category: <span>thoughts by Darren Hewer</span>


We work together with God, and we beg you to make good use of God’s kindness to you. In the Scriptures God says, “When the time came, I listened to you, and when you needed help, I came to save you.” That time has come. This is the day for you to be saved.” 2 Corinthians 6:1-2, CEV


Imagine that you give someone a fabulous gift. When they receive it, they positively beam with excitement and enthusiasm, and thank you profusely for giving them for giving them such a great present.

Then they toss it into their closet and ignore it forever.

You might wonder about the authenticity of their praise.

We might also wonder about our own spiritual walk when we do not “make good use of God’s kindness” to us (2 Corinthians 6:1). Although we are not saved by our own works, our response in faith to God’s grace given by Jesus’ death and resurrection reflects the change which has occurred in our hearts as the Holy Spirit has come to live and work inside us.

If we believe we have found the greatest hope, the greatest love, the greatest truth in the world, how could we not share this truth with others? The apostle Paul has a stern warning for us: “Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.” (Romans 11:22) That’s pretty harsh, but underscores the importance of making use of the kindness God has shown to us.

According to a survey of over 700 Muslims who came to faith in Christ, by far the largest single thing that influenced them to become Christians was seeing the lives of Christians that stood out due to the kindness and love they demonstrated. Therefore, let’s accept God’s kindness with thanksgiving, and not just put it on the shelf, but in turn offer kindness to others, so that they too might come to know the gracious God who proves such a wonderful gift for all who are willing to accept it.

How has God shown you kindness, and how can you through everyday actions show kindness to others?

By Darren Hewer
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“Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29, NLT, emphasis mine)


If anyone has the right to NOT be humble, it’s Jesus. He fed thousands with just a loaf of bread and a fish, turned water into wine, walked on water and raised people from the dead. Jesus is God, but nevertheless He “gave up his divine privileges” and “took the humble position of a slave.” (Philippians 2:7)

Jesus also has the right to NOT be gentle as he looks around and sees immorality and lack of faith. Jesus sighed with grief at the lack of faith he saw around him, (Mark 8:12) but He’s described as “gentle and humble in heart.” (Matthew 11:29) We may have many reasons to be proud: success in business, a wonderful family, or perhaps special talent in music or art. But we must remain humble, remembering that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) And we may have many reasons to be ruthless: a really bad day or being treated unjustly. But “this is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” (1 John 3:16)The signs to humility and gentleness all point in the same direction: Allow Jesus to teach you to become more like Him. “I have set you an example,” says Jesus, “that you should do as I have done for you.” (John 13:15) It will not happen overnight, but by focusing on God’s Word, gazing at the life of Christ and relying on the power of the Holy Spirit, it certainly will. What step could you take to be more gentle and humble like Jesus?

Lord, when I look at You I see how I’m not like You in many ways. Help me be humble and gentle like you, thinking of the needs of others above my own. Please do heart surgery in me so I can express love even when life gets hard. Amen.

Thought:  Take five minutes to look back on your week. When did you express pride in your thoughts or actions? When did you treat others wrongly out of impatience or frustration? Hand over each situation honestly to Jesus in prayer and ask him to change you.

by Darren Hewer
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 Count your Blessings

•   Always be Joyful

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Please open your Bible and read Mark 3:1-6.


Ever been cut off in traffic? Had someone cut in front of you in line? Gotten a bad haircut? If so, you may have felt angry.

Jesus got angry too, but He only got angry about important stuff. His anger was righteous anger and directed against those whose minds were so jaded and hearts so hard that they would rather follow their own laws and let a man suffer than see him healed!

Our own anger usually isn’t so honorable. We often get angry about frivolous things while not getting angry about stuff that really matters. However, Jesus’ response to the Pharisees gives us a helpful principle that we can apply in our own lives to respond better any time we’re angry: Turn anger into grace.

“[Jesus] looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.” (Mark 3:5) Instead of lashing out at those who’d angered Him, Jesus turned His anger into a wonderful good deed. He turned His anger into an act of grace.

When we’re angry, we need to respond somehow. Bottling up our anger (or, for that matter, jealousy, or depression, or anxiety) will only lead to more inner turmoil. So from now on, let’s choose to respond in the way Jesus did: By following Jesus’ example of turning anger into grace and doing something good: “We love because God loved us first.” (1 John 4:19, CEV)

Anger, turned into good! And maybe, through this human act of grace, someone who doesn’t yet know Jesus “may see your good deeds and glorify God” (1 Peter 2:12) and by your act of grace come to know the greatest grace they’ll ever know: God’s grace.

Question: When do you get angry most often, and what opportunities are there in those situations to turn that anger into grace?

by Darren Hewer
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•   He is Out to Destroy You!

•  He is Out to Destroy You!

•  Salvation Explained


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“Jesus said “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” John 9:5

“Jesus also said that “You are the light of the world.” Matthew 5:14


Imagine a lamp. God is like the light bulb, the source of light, and we are like the lampshade. While it may seem strange to compare God to a light bulb, we’re told in scripture that “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5). And while I admit it may be difficult to imagine yourself as a lampshade, stay with me.

You know him [the Holy Spirit],” Jesus tells us, “for he lives with you and will be in you.” (John 14:17) God dwells within you. While no one who looks directly at God’s face and His absolute holiness and power could possibly survive (Exodus 33:20), His glory can manifest itself in many ways, including through His children, you and I. Therefore, as much as you are able to allow God’s light to shine through you, His glory will be revealed to the world.

This is why John the Baptist said, regarding Jesus, “He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30) John recognized that for Jesus’ interests to shine, John’s own self-interest must decrease. We are like the lampshade to God’s light; the thinner the lampshade is, the more the light will shine through. So let yourself become thinner, weaker, and more transparent, so that God’s light will shine more brightly into the world, and so the world will not be able to ignore it!

The apostle Peter has some excellent practical advice on how to let God’s light shine through your life:

Be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.”

Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you.

Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies.

Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.” (1 Peter 4:7b-11, NLT)

Question: How can you see God’s light shining through your life right now? How could you allow it to shine even more?

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We are all equally undeserving, and we are all equally given this gift of GRACE. Praise God that grace is “not fair”!


But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’”
Matthew 20:13-15

There’s a line in a song by Relient K that goes “the beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair.”

I read this parable in Matthew 20:1-16 before I became a Christian. Back then, I thought, “How ridiculous! How unfair! The workers who did more work should be paid more!” I didn’t understand God’s grace. Moreover, I didn’t recognize myself: one who had grown up apart from God, and the one in the parable coming late!

If we received what’s “fair”, we would not like the result very much. In truth, when we ask for fairness, often we’re really asking for special treatment. The sins that others commit are often the very same ones that we’re hoping God will overlook.

Romans 5 says this: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Whether you have been a Christian all your life or only came to know the Lord very recently, God has graciously offered you so much more than you deserve: Eternal life spent in glorious relationship with Him. We are all equally undeserving, and we are all equally given this gift. Praise God that grace is “not fair”!

How has God blessed you lately that is far beyond what would be “fair”?

Father, the gift of Your Son is way more that I could ever deserve. Thank You for everything that You have blessed me with. Your Grace is sufficient for me. Whenever I feel as if I am getting the short end of the stick, help me to learn how to love like You. May the Spirit guide my thoughts and grant me wisdom. May I live my life in grateful surrender. Amen.

This week, intentionally give someone the “bigger slice of pie”. Offer the last seat on the bus, even if you got there first. Be patient with your friend who came late, even though you put effort into coming early. Thank God for the Grace that He has given to you, and extend it to those around you.

By Darren Hewer
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Extending Grace to Others

Serving the Lord Wholeheartedly

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In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

The ‘In Flanders Fields’ poem was written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae on May 3 1915. He wrote it after witnessing the death of his friend on the battlefield the day before. It is a solemn reminder of the atrocities of war and an admonishment to steadfastly remain vigilant even when faced with terrifying adversity.

On this day we honor those who bravely fought for freedom and justice, and many of whom bravely gave their lives for the noble cause. It goes by different names in different places, including Remembrance Day, Veteran’s Day, Poppy Day, and Armistice Day, but the sentiment is the same: Not to glorify the tragedy of war, but to commemorate the valor of those who fought to defend their country.

Brigadier General (retired) Robinson Risner, a veteran pilot who fought in World War 2, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, is one of those brave military soldiers who we should remember today. Despite being shot down twice over enemy territory, and being captured and tortured, each time it happened he wasted no time taking to the skies again, ready to serve his country.

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•  Remembrance Day ‘Daddy’s Poem
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Please open your Bible and read  Acts 1:1-11


One of John Ortberg’s popular books is titled “If you Want to Walk on Water, you have to get out of the Boat“. Although the title alludes to when Peter tried to walk on water (and succeeded, albeit briefly; (Matthew 14:22-33) this quote also applies to the apostles, just after Jesus ascended to heaven.

As Jesus “was taken up before their very eyes“, the apostles “were looking intently up into the sky” (Acts 1:9-10). Just before this, Jesus told them “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (v8) Yet after Jesus ascends apostles just stand there. How often do we do the same? God’s instructions are clear to us, but we just can’t seem to get going.

I can imagine the apostles were worried when Jesus left them. How would they survive without Him? They left their homes, jobs, and everything else behind to follow Him. And now He was leaving? But this is no excuse, and their lack of action prompts two angels to appear to them, who say “Why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (v11)

The angels gave them the reason not to worry: Just as Jesus had been taken away, He will return. Luke’s gospel tells us how the apostles responded to the angels: “They worshipped [Jesus] and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.” (Luke 24:52) Their confidence was restored by God’s promise, which is trustworthy and true. And this confidence prompted them into action!

The question is am I standing around, staring up at the sky? Or am I actively living out Jesus’ command to be witnesses to the ends of the Earth?

What’s holding you back from being an active witness? If you want to witness, you have to start witnessing! If your spiritual life lately has felt more like stargazing than navigating, it may be time to re-read the book of Acts and be inspired by the lives of some of the earliest Christian servants. I assure you that you are more ready than you realize, “for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” (Luke 12:12)

What’s holding you back?

By Darren Hewer
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•  Caring Enough to Tell Others about Christ
•  Your Life is the Only Bible Some People Read
•  Salvation Explained

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“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Hebrews 12:2

You can’t walk straight while blindfolded. You can try, and maybe succeed for a while. But fairly quickly you’ll start to divert slightly to one side or the other. A National Public Radio article notes that: “Humans, apparently, slip into circles when we can’t see an external focal point, like a mountain top, a sun, a moon. Without a corrective, our insides take over and there’s something inside us that won’t stay straight.”

One of my seminary professors liked to say that the line between truth and error is as thin as a razor but as hard as a diamond. The trouble is that it’s often hard to see the line. How do I know if I’ve stepped to the side? There are so many competing messages in our world. Despite faithful and well-intentioned devotional reading and prayer in the morning, by the time you complete your daily commute to work, you may be been bombarded with dozens if not hundreds of distractions.

The apostle Paul asked the Galatian church: “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?” (Galatians 5:7)

The only way to keep going along the straight path is for us to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). Make no mistake, we are not saved by our ability to keep ourselves on the straight path. Jesus is the author (the source, or cause) of our faith, and also the perfecter (the completer, or finisher) of our faith. He is not only Holy God and our Lord and Savior, Jesus is the model of our faith. Only by keeping our eyes on Him and trusting in Him will we continue on the straight path.

Practically speaking this means continually asking ourselves: “Is this the most loving, God-honoring choice I could make?Fix your eyes on Jesus, and He will guide your steps so that you will finish the race and be able to say along with Paul “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)

Question: What distracts you (or tempts you) from the straight path?

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•  How to Experience God’s Love and Forgiveness (3 parts)
•  Have You Forgiven Yourself
•  Salvation Explained

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”To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.” Isaiah 40:25

Other religious teachers pointed away from themselves. “Don’t look at me,” they said, “look at God.”

Jesus took a different approach: He pointed to Himself.

If anyone else were to do so, we would rightly consider them to be quite arrogant. The apostle Paul, no doubt one of the most stalwart individuals of faith ever to put quill to a parchment, lived an incredible life after he was changed by his encounter with God. But he nevertheless calls himself “worst of sinners.” (1Timothy 1:15-16)

This was because, after glimpsing the great and holy God, and how this awesome God nevertheless humbled Himself for our sakes, he was filled with a deep awe for God’s greatness as well as an acute awareness of his sin and need for God.

Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.” Psalm 145:3

Jesus pointed to Himself because He provides everything we need for a full life. “I am the way and the truth and the life.” He said. (John 14:6) Jesus leads the way to Himself, in whom all the truth and fullness of God resides in human form. (Colossians 2:9) Not only that, but Jesus is also “the life” and enables us to our full potential as human beings, reborn through the mighty grace of God. He is the bread of life (John 6:35) whose resources will never run low and will provide for our deepest spiritual longings. He is like a mighty river of refreshment from which living water consistently flows. (John 7:38)

Who else could compare? Who else would sacrifice so much before we even knew Him?

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Who else can we count on to sustain us in this fallen world? Who else could possibly be worthy of our devotion and our very lives?

Praise God, and let’s pray today to constantly keep our eyes upon Jesus, with whom no one else even comes close!

To whom, then, will you compare God?Isaiah 40:18

Question: What “counterfeit gods” often false vie for our attention in our daily lives?

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•  HE IS!  A great poem
•  Wisdom and Knowledge of God
•  Salvation Explained

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When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils.” Luke 11:21-22

Why did Peter deny Jesus?

He confidently declared “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” (Matthew 26:35) But only a few short hours later, Peter did the exact opposite. He denied he knew Jesus three times, just as Jesus predicted. We don’t have to imagine Peter’s sorrow: We’re told plainly that afterwards “he went outside and wept bitterly.” (Matthew 26:75)

But this doesn’t answer the question of why Peter denied knowing Him. Part of it was fear: Fear of losing his reputation by being associated with a man accused of being a criminal. Fear of his responsibilities. Fear, perhaps, for his own life. But another reason that Peter ended up denying knowing His Lord is because he was away from Him.

Peter lost sight of his Lord. It wasn’t until “The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter” (Luke 22:61) that Peter came back to his senses and realized what he had done. After losing sight of Jesus, Peter had been trying to do things on his own strength. Rather than trusting God, he was trusting in himself.

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.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Peter himself explains the imminent danger of trying to do everything ourselves God: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) The apostle James advises us: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.” (James 4:7-8) While even the strongest of men & women are no match for Satan’s temptations on our own, with God we have nothing to fear.

We can stay near to God by reading His Word, by speaking and listening to Him in prayer, and by living in community with His sons and daughters. Stay near to God, and you will never be overwhelmed.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10

Question: What is the danger of not staying near God? How does staying near God protect us from danger?

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•  Cling to the Lord
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“A man’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand his own way?” Proverbs 20:24

Imagine you’ve signed up for a race, but when the day of the race arrives, you notice that there is no starting line. No map. No indication at all where to run, because the road forks off in many different directions. Before you can ask where you’re supposed to run, the starting gun fires, and people dash in all different directions. What would you think of such a race?

Without God’s guidance, that’s what life is like. Our lives become ones of abject freedom. That is, freedom of a terrible kind. Not godly freedom of being set free to become the kind of people God always meant us to be.

Rather, without God’s guidance, we have freedom in licentious lack of restraint. In other words, anarchy. The laws by which polite society functions are, without God’s guidance, actually just social constructs which can be torn down at any moment by forceful power of convincing personality. Unrestrained freedom is another word for anarchy. Paradoxically, the kind of “freedom” that anarchy provides will result in less real freedom, not more. The freedoms that we cherish, such as being treated fairly, the right to speak and vote, to treasured possessions, to worship our God freely … none of these are guaranteed when society attempts to build its foundations in mid-air, lacking the solid ground of God’s Word.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.Psalm 119:105

Does God direct your steps? Or do you direct your own? Have you made a conscious decision to follow God’s light, as he lights the way for your steps? Or do you continue to stumble in darkness? Will you be able to honestly say along with the psalmist,

“My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not slipped.” Psalm 17:5

God’s wonderful truth is that it is never too late for anyone to turn and follow Him. Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection embodies enough forgiveness to cover any sin. If we are told to forgive our brothers & sisters “seventy times seven” times when they have wronged us (Matthew 18:22, ESV); essentially an unlimited number of times) how much more will our merciful Father in Heaven forgive us when we repent and ask Him to turn our steps back to His path?

God’s Word is our guide to the race of life. My prayer for you today is that you will be able to say along with the apostle Paul,

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)

Father, forgive us when we ignore the necessary guidance your Word. Help us to gain full understanding of your truth. Guide us so that we will walk your paths and finish the race in simultaneous triumph and humility by the power of Your Spirit at work in us. In Jesus name, amen.

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When God Interrupts
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We work together with God, and we beg you to make good use of God’s kindness to you. In the Scriptures God says, “When the time came, I listened to you, and when you needed help, I came to save you.” That time has come. This is the day for you to be saved.” 2 Corinthians 6:1-2, CEV

Imagine that you give someone a fabulous gift. When they receive it, they positively beam with excitement and enthusiasm, and thank you profusely for giving them for giving them such a great present.

Then they toss it into their closet and ignore it forever.

You might wonder about the authenticity of their praise.

We might also wonder about our own spiritual walk when we do not “make good use of God’s kindness” to us (2 Corinthians 6:1). Although we are not saved by our own works, our response in faith to God’s grace given by Jesus’ death and resurrection reflects the change which has occurred in our hearts as the Holy Spirit has come to live and work inside us.

If we believe we have found the greatest hope, the greatest love, the greatest truth in the world, how could we not share this truth with others? The apostle Paul has a stern warning for us:

Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.” (Romans 11:22)

That’s pretty harsh, but underscores the importance of making use of the kindness God has shown to us.

According to a survey of over 700 Muslims who came to faith in Christ, by far the largest single thing that influenced them to become Christians was seeing the lives of Christians that stood out due to the kindness and love they demonstrated. Therefore, let’s accept God’s kindness with thanksgiving, and not just put it on the shelf, but in turn offer kindness to others, so that they too might come to know the gracious God who proves such a wonderful gift for all who are willing to accept it.

How has God shown you kindness, and how can you through everyday actions show kindness to others?

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“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”  Matthew 6:27

As I was I was leaving my parents’ house, my mom told me she was worried about me taking the bus back to my apartment. Then, continuing that chain of thought, she said that if I were driving instead, she would worry about me driving. I asked her if she would feel more at ease if I stayed in my room all day, never traveling for any reason. She paused for a moment before sh

e responded: She said that if I did that, she would be worried that I wasn’t going out and meeting people!

None of us are immune from the effects of worrying. Excessive worry can prevent us from becoming the kind of people that God desires us to become. Especially in times of stress, or when we feel helpless to control the situations we find ourselves in, worries can creep into our minds. We know that this is unproductive, as the apostle Paul tells us: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6) But that’s easier said than done! How can we avoid worrying all the time like Jesus and Paul have admonished us?

Perhaps it’s time to consider the flip side of worrying. Rick Warren, in his book, The Purpose Driven Life, explains that:

When you think about a problem over and over in your mind, that’s called worry. When you think about God’s Word over and over in your mind, that’s meditation. If you know how to worry, you already know how to meditate!

Meditation in this case isn’t some esoteric exercise practiced by monks living off in the hilltops or some kind of new-age mysticism. Instead, Christian meditation, rather than being an emptying of the mind, is instead a filling of our minds. This kind of meditation is focused thinking which directs us to God’s good and precious truth.

After Moses died, Joshua became his successor. Part of the advice God gave him as the new leader of the Israelites was: “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” (Joshua 1:8) This advice applies to us equally well today.

So the next time you feel worry creeping into your mind, chase it away by:

1) Remembering God’s promises
2) Turning our worries into meditation on His word and prayer.

May my meditation be pleasing to Him, as I rejoice in the LORD.Psalm 104:34

Question: What has been causing you to worry lately? How can you give these up these worries to God?

By Darren Hewer
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Please consider Luke 11:1: “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

Martin Luther was an important and busy guy. The previous sentence may be a gross understatement, considering that Luther is often credited with starting the Protestant Reformation. Even if he wasn’t the originator, he was certainly the most prolific and fiery of its early supporters. Despite his hectic work schedule, copious writing, preaching, teaching, and other plentiful tasks, he still diligently made time to pray. He is quoted as saying

I have so much to do (today) that I should spend the first three hours in prayer.”

Jesus too was an important and busy guy. (That sentence is clearly an even larger understatement than the one about Martin Luther!) As Savior of the world, Jesus spent His days traveling, teaching, arguing with religious leaders, healing sickness, driving out demons, and proclaiming the salvation available to the world through Himself as God’s one and only Son. (Among other things!) Yet “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16). Mark gives us an example: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35).

The question for us is: If Martin Luther and Jesus Himself made time to pray, how can we possibly say we’re too busy?

Jesus begins his teaching on prayer during the Sermon on the Mount by saying “WHEN you pray”, not “IF you pray” (Matthew 6:5). It’s tough sometimes, because prayer doesn’t come naturally for everyone. Speak honestly to God: praise, frustrations, triumphs, fears, and deepest longings. After all, God already knows you better than you know yourself… there’s nothing to hide!

Remember that prayer doesn’t have to be long or complicated. It doesn’t need to be “holy sounding” either. You know what I mean, those prayers with all the right-sounding words that somehow end up sounding hollow. Use the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13 or Luke 11:2-6) as a guide, but not as a formula. Don’t just pray it rigidly, try to pray spontaneously, from the heart.

Just never use the excuse that you’re “too busy.” If Martin Luther and Jesus had time for prayer, you do too!

Question: Have you prayed yet today? If not, could you spend some time with God now?

By Darren Hewer
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One of my fondest childhood memories of the Christmas season is the Advent calendars my brother and I would receive every year. If you’re unfamiliar with this tradition, the particular version my family enjoyed consisted of a nearly flat decorated cardboard box, with tiny doors on it, numbered from 1 to 24 representing the days leading up to Christmas Eve.

Every day we would open one of the cardboard doors and behind each one we’d find a tiny chocolate. Every one of the chocolates was uniquely molded in a Christmas related shape. It was a fun diversion for us as kids as we impatiently awaited the arrival of Christmas day. But it doesn’t tell us much about the actual season of Advent. What is Advent?

The season of Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, somewhere between November 27 and December 3, depending on the year.  Advent is the period leading up to Christmas, which celebrates the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, also known as Jesus Christ. It is unknown when this tradition first began, but this period of waiting is often seen in the Christian tradition as a reminder that the world remains waiting for Jesus’ return.

The traditional color of Advent is purple, the color often associated with royalty, although today blue and red are also used. Modern day celebrations of Advent include  Advent calendars, Advent wreaths, lighting special Advent candles, and a series of themed Sunday messages leading up to Christmas day.

God’s blessing to you as we prepare to celebrate our Savior, Jesus’ birth.

By Darren Hewer
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