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Seeking God's face together


* This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:10; NIV).

* In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross! (Philippians; 2:5-8; NIV).

*Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13; NIV).

Lord Jesus Christ,
Son of the Living God,
The Magi brought you gifts of
Gold, frankincense and myrrh.

We too bow down before you,
Acknowledging your…

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As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Matthew 13:4

It had hardened soilbeen a dry summer. The ground was hardened and cracked by the lack of moisture and the penetrating rays of the sun. Then the rain came. It wasn’t just a shower, it was a downpour. Raindrops pelted the ground viciously. Lightning and thunder joined in the onslaught. The ground became a river of mud. Then, it was gone. The sun came out, the skies cleared; the ground dried and once again was hardened.

I talked with an old farmer later that day. I mentioned how nice it was that we finally got some rain. I was surprised by the look of disappointment on his face. He took his hat off and rubbed his scalp.

“Didn’t do much good.” He mumbled as he replaced his hat, “Grounds to hard. Just ran off. What we need is a couple days of soft, gentle rain to soften up the ground so the moisture can get in.”

His words weren’t even out of his mouth when I remembered the story of the Sower and the Seed. Personally, I think the title is misleading. The seed really has little to do with the story. The Sower has some impact of course, but the main emphasis is on soil.

Hardened soil has something in common with hardened hearts. Hardened soil, in particular the hardened soil in this story, became hard because it was part of the roadway. Know what happens with a roadway? It gets trampled on. Day after day, week after week, month after month donkeys and horses and oxen and people walked up and down the path.

Our hearts are like that sometimes aren’t they? We all start out with hope and joy. Watch the wonderment and excitement of infants and toddlers if you don’t believe me. Every event is new. Every object is a chance to explore (and perhaps attempt to eat!)

But something happens to our heart. People, places and events walk all over our soul. At first it hurts. But the more we are trampled the harder we get until we lose all feeling. Then nothing seems to matter anymore.

Hardened soil reminds us of two dangers of hardened hearts. One is a warning of sorts not to become hardened in the first place.  Soil, like the heart, never becomes hard when it is nurtured. The only thing I’ve found to keep my heart soft is the realization of how much I am loved by Jesus Christ. People fail me. I fail people. Jesus never fails.

The second danger concerning hardened hearts is the assumption that once a heart is hardened it can never become soft again. This is a tool of the enemy of our souls. Hardened hearts become soft the same way they stay soft, with nurturing. If you pour a bucket of water on hard ground it runs off with little penetration and you may think the situation hopeless. But slowly run a garden hose over the area and after time the water stops running OFF and it runs IN. It takes time, patience and gentleness to soften hard ground. The heart requires it even more.

The same thing is true of a hardened heart. You may not think your kindness is doing any good but time, patience and gentleness, empowered by the love of Christ, can do wonders on a hardened heart.

PRAYER: Lord, I confess to you that my heart has grown hard by the things others have done to me. At times I’ve even blamed you! I’ve grown weary trying to love those you love because their hardness seems impenetrable. May I experience the gentle, penetrating and softening rain of your love in my heart so that I can share it with others. Amen.


I would like to encourage you today with the encouragement my Father shared with me this morning.  Have you ever thought about what an amazing thing it is that we are alive and we walk upon this earth and are sustained with everything that we need? Just the fact that we have air to breath is a downright miracle and there is no way that any of us on our own could ever produce that.  How powerful is the God of the Universe! Not only has He shown us love to give us life, but He has given us the blessing of knowing who He is and to know of His love and concern for each one of us! He so desires to be our everything and show us His unfailing love! Through faith in Jesus as our Lord, He sends His Spirit into our hearts and enables us each one…

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homeless person‘And if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?’ James 2:3-4

It was Friday morning. I was a bit late to my coffee/bible study group in a coffee shop in the small Midwestern town I lived in. There were three groups that visited this place on Friday mornings. All of us were believers. All of us were ‘nice, clean, Midwestern adults’. Different churches, different backgrounds, but one God and Lord of all.

This particular morning I was standing behind a stranger in our midst while waiting for my coffee. The person had a ring on every finger, painted nails, eye shadow that was much too dark, tattoos extending from his wrists to above the sleeve of his short-sleeved shirt and a belt that was nothing more than a chain. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what gender the person was.

Then I heard his story. His mother was dying of cancer as was his father. He had recently tried to commit suicide and showed us the scars from the 29 stitches that saved his life. As a result of his suicide attempt and some other circumstances he had called out to God and was saved through the grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

Now, his mission is to reach out to other kids who struggle with broken families, drugs and the temptation to commit suicide. Health issues won’t allow him to keep jobs very long so life itself is a struggle. He told us about the impact he has with kids and then commented that too often adults look down on him. After all, he said with a smile “Would you let your daughter date someone who looks like me?

His words hit home. It’s so easy for us to judge other people by their clothing, the tattoos, the make-up and a wide variety of other externals. But Jesus isn’t concerned about the exterior as much as he is the heart. I’m guessing that Jesus is far more impressed (if I can use that word) with people like my new friend than he is many of us who sit comfortably  and smugly in our churches impressed by the blessings we have given ourselves.

As we gathered around this young man to lay hands on him and pray for him I was reminded of how important it is to keep a clear mind and open heart to those around us. Unless we know their story we have no idea what many people around us are going through. What is your first thought when you see the homeless person holding a sign on the edge of a busy street corner? What is your attitude as you walk past a group of oddly dressed young people at the mall? If a ‘street person’ came into your worship service Sunday morning would he feel as welcome as a well-dressed professional?

It’s time to break the chains of our judgmental attitudes so that we can see others in the same way that Jesus did. That’s grace!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus I’m humbled when I remember that you spent most of your time with people I tend to avoid or be uncomfortable around. Forgive me for my passive judgmentality. Empower me through your Holy Spirit to see others as Jesus did. Amen.

The final day of our 2014 Prayer Focus. Please continue to lift this ministry in prayer.

The ARC-ives

2014 prayer focus logo After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever. Amen!”

Prayer: Father God, You are the almighty God and creator of the universe. Every aspect of your being is worthy of our praise. We have many in our circles that we admire for one or more things…

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March 2014
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