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Houston Mission Trip Devotional

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September 21

Devotional by Jim Lenderman

Let me begin by saying thank you for giving your time and resources to be the hands and feet of Jesus to people who are still trying to recover from Hurricane Harvey that hit just over a year ago. It’s hard to imagine devastation on a scale that happened in the Houston area. It’s also hard to imagine what it’s like for life to still not be put back together after that long.

As you are away serving others who continue to suffer so much, I will be praying Romans 15:13 specifically – by name – for each of you. Turn in your Bible to this powerful verse and meditate on it for the next 10 minutes. Read it ten times, each time slower than the previous one. Linger over key words, pondering what they mean. If you’re not used to meditating on scripture like this it may seem a little awkward, but press on anyway. Roll it over and over in your mind. Using your imagination, actually “hear” those words being prayed over you and for you. And in the stillness of your quiet time tonight listen to what God wants to say to you.  Jot some notes here about what you hear.

First and foremost I want you to receive Romans 15:13 as a prayer for you. Then consider praying it for each of the other members of your mission trip. Maybe you could even pray it for the homeowner you worked for today as well as well as others you met.

Again, thank you for putting skin on God this week for people in the Houston area who really need it. May you be blessed through your service as much as you will be a huge blessing to those you will serve this week.

September 20

WHAT’S IN YOUR HAND?

By Lisa Bevere 

“What is that in your hand?” “A staff” he replied. Exodus 4:2 NIV 

God will start with what is in your hand even when it seems menial and insignificant. “What is in your hand, Moses?” This was God’s response to Moses’ ample excuses about why he was not qualified to lead Israel out of slavery to Egypt. The wisdom of the statement God spoke to Moses at the burning bush can still speak to us today.

Can you imagine what must have gone through Moses’ mind in that moment? After all, a staff is nothing more than a glorified stick! How was it going to make an impact in Pharaoh’s court? There is nothing extraordinary about a staff. But understand this: the common becomes mighty when God anoints it.

Offer unto God what He has placed in your hand. “What is in your hand” means whatever is in your care or control. This could be money, possessions, influence, talents, abilities, and more. What you withhold and retain in your hand reveals what is in your heart.

God is waiting to use what he has placed in your hands and asks you to release it to him.

Sampson had a donkey jawbone to slay a thousand men. Ruth had grain gleaned from the field. David had his sling and stones to defeat the mighty Philistine champion. The unnamed boy had his five loaves and two fishes. The woman had an alabaster jar filled with oil to anoint Jesus. We all have something in our hands. As we release what is in our hands, He releases what is in His! He is ready and willing to anoint what is in your hands. Are you willing to let him?

Ask God to show you what power is in your hand.  Are you ready to use it so you can make a difference in the world today?   

Prayer for the day

I look at my hands, Lord Jesus, and ask you to use them this day.

Make me conscious of the needs of those who hurt.  Amen.

September 19

By Karen Anderson

Exodus 13: 21-22

During the day the LORD went ahead of his people in a thick cloud, and during the night he went ahead of them in a flaming fire. That way the LORD could lead them at all times, whether day or night.

Exodus 40:38-39 No matter where the people traveled, the LORD was with them. Each day his cloud was over the tent, and each night a fire could be seen in the cloud.

Just over a year ago, Saturday, August 25, 2017, the fourth largest US city, Houston, changed forever.

Lee Hutchinson, a Houston forecaster said, “I cannot really explain what it was like to walk outside on Sunday morning, in the aftermath of historic rainfall and devastating floods, and contemplate that at least three or four more days and nights of the same rains must come before the Sun will shine again. From a mental health standpoint, the uncertainty this brings adds considerable stress to an already unbearable situation. For many people in Houston, Harvey will be a defining event in our lives. A time when Mother Nature forced a hard reset on us. There are our lives before Harvey and after Harvey. The next time rain clouds form we will ask ourselves, is this really happening again?”

For those experiencing the uncertainty of Harvey, they had to wonder, “Where is God in all of this? During the long time the Israelites were wandering in the desert, the presence of God was visibly with them. God appeared in the daytime as a cloud, and at night as a flame or fire. They were always led by God, they were never alone, and God’s presence was always visible to them.

Where was God in the Houston rainfall? Where was God in the Houston flooding? We don’t see too many pillars of fire or pillars of clouds anymore. But we do see people in boats coming to the rescue.We see police officers, fire fighters, EMTs. We see neighbors, both local and from neighboring states, bringing in clean water and food. We see people bringing them coffee. We see people running into the tragedy rather than away from it. We see ordinary people traveling to Houston now-even a year later. All of them have the face of God.

During this mission trip to Houston, far from home and familiar things, look for God’s presence. Look for the face of God in those who cross your path and in each other. Look for that presence to guide your journey, look for that presence to help you in your work, look for that presence to encourage you in the tasks ahead, look for God’s presence to help you say, “Yes! This is why we are here!”

Prayer: Guide our journey, God. Help us to safely do your work. Let us enthusiastically go about each day helping our neighbors and searching for your face. Perform a hard reset on our spiritual lives. Amen

September 18

HAND IN HAND

by Joel Jongkind, 2014

 

Psalm 31:1,3b,4b,14,15a – In You, O Lord, I put my trust; let me never be ashamed; deliver me in your righteousness. Lead me and guide me, for you are my strength. I trust in You O Lord; my times are in your hand. (NKJV)

Some time ago, our oldest daughter, her husband, and their five-year-old granddaughter visited us for a few days. They live far away, and we had not see our great-granddaughter since she was a baby, and they had not yet seen our new house. One afternoon, the little girl and I walked to the area mailbox at the end of our street. We walked along, and I held her hand. She looked for puddles on the street and splashed in them when I let her, but she did hang onto my hand — she trusted me.

That reminded me of occasions when it is so important and comforting to hold hands with someone. I remember the first time I reached out to hold a girl's hand at a church picnic in 1951, and the surprise when she did not pull hers away. We still hold hands at times — same girl!

I also remember the thrill so many years ago when I held the hand of the one who is now the grandmother, as we went for a walk — those tentative steps when she first learned to walk, hanging tightly onto my hand. She has three grandchildren now.

But people also hold hands in a compassionate way. When I go to the hospital or the Long Term Care Centre to visit someone, I will hold their hand quite often, to comfort them.

There are times when we just don't know how to carry on. Sometimes, we are too weak to reach out our hand. Sometimes, we are paralyzed by fear or anxiety. Sometimes, our lives are threatened by illness. Sometimes, we are shattered by death. Sometimes, we walk through deep spiritual valleys. And then, we hear those wonderful words of Scripture:

Isaiah 41:10 – Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (NKJV)

There are so many times when we need to hold God's hand in a symbolic, spiritual way, so many times when we just can't carry on on our own, times when we need to ask the Lord to hold our hand.

The hymn by Thomas A. Dorsey (1899-1993) says it so well:

Precious Lord, take my hand,
Lead me on, let me stand,
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn;
Through the storm, through the night,
Lead me on to the light:
Take my hand, precious Lord,
Lead me home.

September 17

Devotional Written by: Dawn Spragg

John 13: 34-35 (NLT)

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.  Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

“Human love can be strong, but the love of the heavenly Father is stronger still. It is a seal that is seen in two nail-pierced hands.” NLT Devotional Bible; June 30th

In 2013, the Boston Red Sox played the Detroit Tigers for the American League Pennant and a chance to play in the World Series. The series was decided in game six in Boston’s historic Fenway Park. At the beginning of the seventh inning and after a rousing rendition of Sweet Caroline, the Red Sox were behind by one run. That deficit changed when Shane Victorino, who came to the plate with just 2 hits for 23 at-bats for the series, hit a grand-slam home-run over the Green Monster (the nickname for the giant left field wall at Fenway) and put the Red Sox ahead 5-2. The lead remained, and the Red Sox went on to the World Series which they won against the St. Louis Cardinals.

In the moment Victorino hit the ball and it became clear it was going out of the field of play, every hand in the stadium went straight in the air. Okay, not every hand. The hands of the Tiger fans clasped unbelieving heads and faces as they sat down in complete disappointment. Red Sox fans, hands in the air, high fived and grabbed hands with complete strangers while jumping up and down with pure joy and excitement. While I am not a Red Sox fan at any other time, I was all in at that moment, holding hands with the people around me.

I am always amazed at how excited or deeply disappointed fans can be at sporting events.

My heart longs to be and live with that same enthusiasm as a disciple of Jesus. Life is a series of celebrations and disappointments and requires a deep faith to carry us through. When the news is good, we reach our hands to heaven and give thanks to God. When despair comes our way, we collapse our heads and our broken hearts into our praying hands and ask God to carry us through. We clasp our hands together when we’re winning and offer a hand of comfort to others when life offers a losing season.

As you work together, side-by-side and hand-in-hand, as you use your hands to provide for others or clasp them together in prayer, be reminded of the love God offers you by the sacrificed life of his son Jesus. Let Him hold you in the palm of his hands.

WHEN DID GOD HOLD YOU IN THE PALM OF HIS HANDS TODAY?

 

Prayer:

God of grace and provision, thank you for the nail scarred hands of Jesus that remind me of your willingness to sacrifice for me. May I always be willing to sacrifice in some small way so others might know they are loved by you.  With thanksgiving and joy I pray it is so. Amen.

September 16

During the war a church in Strasburg, Germany, was totally destroyed; but a statue of Christ which stood by the altar was almost unharmed. Only the hands of the statue were missing.

When the church was rebuilt, a famous sculptor offered to make new hands; but, after considering the matter, the members decided to let it stand as it was—without hands. “For,” they said, “Christ has no hands but our hands to do His work on earth.

“If we don’t feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, entertain the stranger, visit the imprisoned, and clothe the naked, who will?” Christ is depending on us to do the very things which He did while upon earth. “My friend, if the gospel we preach does not have a social application, if it will not work effectively in the work-a-day world, then it is not the Gospel of Christ.” (Billy Graham)

Q: How do you know if you're actually helping someone or if they're just taking advantage of you? My cousin is an alcoholic, and last year she moved in with us after her family threw her out. But nothing has changed and I'm not sure we're doing her any good.

A: To be honest, it may not be clear at the time if we’re actually helping someone or if they’re just taking advantage of us. Not everyone wants to change; some people only want to stay the way they are.

But what is clear is that they have a need, and God has put them across our path to do what we can to help them. Jesus once healed 10 lepers but only one came back to thank Him; the others were simply taking advantage of Him (see Luke 17:11-18). But did that mean Jesus shouldn’t have bothered with them? No, of course not; one man was changed, both in body and in soul.

At the same time, your cousin is on a dead-end road, and simply providing her with food and shelter isn’t solving her problem. She needs help, and you are in the best position to get her to it; she won’t find it on her own. Ask your pastor, doctor, or other knowledgeable person what resources are available in your community to help her—and then give her a deadline to get connected to them. You’ve probably heard the expression “tough love,” and the time has come for you to practice it—both for her sake and yours.

Most of all, pray for her, and ask God to help you point her to Christ. The Bible’s words are true: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

 

Prayer for the day

I look at my hands, Lord Jesus, and ask you to use them this day.

Make me conscious of the needs of those who hurt.  Amen.