Encouragement and Prayer:  Hold On To Instruction! (07/13/21)

Encouragement and Prayer: Hold On To Instruction! (07/13/21)

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This is the daily devotion from the book, “Holding On and Letting Go” and the companion audio from the July 13, 2021 live social media broadcast of encouragement and prayer by Impact Prayer Ministry’s director, Tom Lemler.

Here is day seven and an important reminder to ask God for the wisdom to know and follow good instruction.

Hold On To Instruction

“Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.”
Proverbs 4:13 (NIV)

Are you teachable?  How do you know?  What is the difference between being told what to do and being given instruction?  Which do you prefer?  Why?  How difficult is it for you to follow instructions that you don’t like?  Do you do it anyway?  What are some instructions, from God and from others, that you need to hold on to right now that would give you hope in the midst of your chaos?

You’ve probably heard the phrase countless times — “When all else fails, read the instructions.”  Well, when disaster strikes we would do well to consider that all else has failed and it is time to hold on to instruction.  This instruction will take many forms.  The most important in the long-term will be to continue to hold on to instruction from God’s Word.  Yet, even as we do that, there will be instruction that people will offer that can lead us through the chaos and toward a road of recovery.  Caution must be used when we hold on to instruction as not everyone giving instruction will always be doing so with pure and helpful motives.  Nonetheless, through time spent with God, we must seek out wise instruction and hold on to it even as we put it into practice.  You see, practice really is the key to making good use of instruction.  Whether it is the instruction of God’s Word or the instruction from someone who has experienced a disaster similar to what you are going through, it does little good to simply accumulate instruction if we’re not willing to use it.  When you hold on to godly instruction, you will find He sets you on a path of hope in the midst of your chaos.

As you pray, ask God for wisdom to discern between instruction which is good and that which is not.  Pray that you would be active in holding on to instruction as you put it into practice.  Pray for courage to share the instructions you are holding on to when it will help others.

In prayer,
Tom

Encouragement and Prayer:  Let Go Of Worry! (07/12/21)

Encouragement and Prayer: Let Go Of Worry! (07/12/21)

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This is the daily devotion from the book, “Holding On and Letting Go” and the companion audio from the July 12, 2021 live social media broadcast of encouragement and prayer by Impact Prayer Ministry’s director, Tom Lemler.

Here is day six and an important reminder to pay attention to what you can do today and let go of your worry about the things you can do nothing about.

Let Go Of Worry

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Matthew 6:34 (NIV)

What worries you the most about your current situation?  How would you rate your current level of worry?  Why?  Does your worry focus on what has happened, what might happen, or on what you can do today?  What is the difference?  How will letting go of worry help you to have hope in the midst of your situation of chaos?

Worry carried to an extreme can result in a paralysis that makes it impossible to see and move beyond your current circumstances.  When surrounded by the unknown of chaos, worry can easily take root in the heart of even the most carefree person.  When disaster forces us to let go of many things we would have rather kept, worrying about what we have left or how we will ever recover seems almost natural and even helpful in some way.  Yet when we give worry a foothold it isn’t long before it takes over and keeps us from seeing the daily steps of recovery that are in front of us.  Worrying about yesterday is a form of second-guessing that does us no good as no amount of worry will let us go back and change what has already happened.  Worrying about tomorrow is just as fruitless because we can’t predict the future, let alone control it.  Today’s worry might have limited usefulness, but only if it motivates us to take the action steps necessary to bring about the change we need.  But even today’s worry must be let go of as we trust God to bring hope into our current situation of chaos.

As you pray, ask God to give you a peace that dispels harmful worry as you trust in Him.  Pray that your concern for today would drive you to a responsiveness to God rather than to a mindset of worry.  Pray that you would know the great hope that God wants to give you as you let go of worry.

In prayer,
Tom

Encouragement and Prayer:  Hold On To What’s Good! (07/09/21)

Encouragement and Prayer: Hold On To What’s Good! (07/09/21)

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This is the daily devotion from the book, “Holding On and Letting Go” and the companion audio from the July 9, 2021 live social media broadcast of encouragement and prayer by Impact Prayer Ministry’s director, Tom Lemler.

Here is day five and an important reminder to look for what is good in life and hold on to it.

Hold On To What Is Good

“Test everything. Hold on to the good.”
1 Thessalonians 5:21 (NIV)

What do you see right now that is good in your life?  In the fog of chaos, how hard do you have to look in order to find something good?  Why?  How does finding the good that God wants you to cling to help you endure your current situation?  What good do you need to hold on to today in order to have hope for tomorrow?

Holding on to what is good can be extremely difficult when the chaos you are in creates such a darkness that seeing any good is nearly impossible.  Yet often times, it is in those very dark hours that even a small glimmer of goodness shines most brightly.  I’m not talking about some sort of Pollyanna “it’s all good” kind of mentality, but rather a trust in a God who is good.  While there may be moments and days when it doesn’t feel like it, God is good and loves His children with an unchanging love.  While it’s not necessarily true that “every cloud has a silver lining”, we know that good often has to be looked for in order to be found.  As you walk through the fog of disaster, take the time to look for good.  Look for it in the surroundings you face every day.  Look for it in the people that gather to help.  Look for it in those who God will bring alongside you to provide hope.  Look for it in yourself.  And most importantly, look for it in God.  When your world looks darkest, don’t let the darkness hide all the good that remains.  When you look for and hold on to the good that God desires for you, He will grow within you a hope in the midst of your current chaos.

As you pray, ask God to help you see beyond the difficulty to find the good that remains.  Pray that you would hold on to the good that you find in life and in people.  Pray for the courage to be the good that others can hold on to in their need.  Pray that you would find hope as you hold on to God’s goodness revealed in a variety of ways.

In prayer,
Tom

Encouragement and Prayer:  Let Go Of Anger! (07/08/21)

Encouragement and Prayer: Let Go Of Anger! (07/08/21)

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This is the daily devotion from the book, “Holding On and Letting Go” and the companion audio from the July 8, 2021 live social media broadcast of encouragement and prayer by Impact Prayer Ministry’s director, Tom Lemler.

Here is day four and an important reminder to check your anger and deal with it in a godly way.

Let Go Of Anger

“‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” 
(Ephesians 4:26-27)

Does the current chaos you are experiencing make you angry?  Should it?  How does anger influence the way you respond to both people and your situation?  Does anger typically cause a good or bad response?  Explain.  How will letting go of anger free you to see your situation more clearly?

Anger is a natural emotion and reaction, especially when faced with unexpected and unreasonable loss.  The problem with anger in the midst of chaos is that it tends to cloud the vision of both our mind and our eyes.  When the Bible says, “in your anger do not sin”, I believe the instruction is to acknowledge our anger and deal with it so that we can let it go before it infects our actions.  While there may be things, circumstances, and even people that you feel you have a right to be angry with, feeding the anger will only make it grow to the point that it adds to the problem.  Letting go of the anger allows us to address the chaos, and even address the cause of the chaos, from a healthy position of resolution rather than hatred.  When we learn to be angry at the right things, we find that we can allow God to use our anger as an internal motivation for us to make changes we need to make.  It is then that we are able to let go of that anger so that we can begin to see hope in the midst of our chaos.  Unresolved and/or unaddressed anger destroys hope and it is in the addressing and resolving of our anger that we find we can let the anger go and allow hope to grow.

As you pray, ask God to help you understand why you feel angry, and specifically who or what you feel angry toward.  Pray that you would not simply attempt to hide the anger, but address it in ways that allow you to let go of it.  Pray that you would know the hope that comes through letting go of anger after it has been dealt with.

In prayer,
Tom

Encouragement and Prayer:  Hold On To What You Have! (07/07/21)

Encouragement and Prayer: Hold On To What You Have! (07/07/21)

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This is the daily devotion from the book, “Holding On and Letting Go” and the companion audio from the July 7, 2021 live social media broadcast of encouragement and prayer by Impact Prayer Ministry’s director, Tom Lemler.

Here is day three and an important reminder to not forget the things you still have.

Hold On To What You Have

“I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.”
(Revelation 3:11)

What do you have?  How difficult is it to answer that question?  Why?  In your current situation, do you tend to think more about what you have lost or about what you still have?  Why?  I don’t know what you have lost in this current crisis.  Perhaps finances, health, trust, peace of mind, freedom of activity, or an entire list of other things may have disappeared in the midst of the chaos surrounding us.  Even if it seems you have lost everything, how focused are you at holding on to faith?

One of the most difficult things for many people to do in the midst of loss is to see what they haven’t lost.  Our mind gets so focused on the disaster we faced that we become blinded to the things we still have.  As we discussed earlier, one of those things should be the people God will bring into our life to provide help and comfort.  The old hymn that says, “Count your blessings, name them one by one”, may sound trite when recovering from a disaster, but taking inventory of what you do have really is a good practice at any time.  When we begin to count more than possessions, we often find much that is within our grasp to hold on to that should give us at least glimmers of hope.  For most of us, there seems to be something within our nature that longs to possess things that we can call our own.  Even the most open and sharing child seems to learn how to say “Mine!” all on their own.  So as you do inventory of both the tangible and intangible things that you still have, find hope as you hold on to the things you have and especially to the things that can never be taken from you.

As you pray, ask God to help you grieve what you have lost even as you identify what you still have.  Pray that you would find hope and comfort through holding on to relationships that continue in the midst of your chaos.  Pray that your time of inventory would help you discover important things that God would have you hold on to.  Pray for the courage to hold loosely even as you hold on to what you have.

In prayer,
Tom

Encouragement and Prayer:  Let Go Of Things You Can’t Control! (07/06/21)

Encouragement and Prayer: Let Go Of Things You Can’t Control! (07/06/21)

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This is the daily devotion from the book, “Holding On and Letting Go” and the companion audio from the July 6, 2021 live social media broadcast of encouragement and prayer by Impact Prayer Ministry’s director, Tom Lemler.

Here is day two and an important reminder to let go of the things you can’t control as you trust God to bring you to a place of peace and hope in the midst of chaos.

Let Go Of Things You Can’t Control

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ?”
(Matthew 6:25-27)

What part of your current situation feels most beyond your control?  How much do you worry about things you can’t change?  Are there things in the midst of your current chaos that you do have some control over?  How much does the lack of control over some things keep you from taking control of what you can?

Facing a disaster of any kind often brings with it a bewildering feeling of having no control over anything that is going on.  The truth is, even in our most controlling moments, we have far less control than we would like to admit.  When faced with loss, it is important to identify specific things that we simply can’t control.  Some of those things may well be the disaster which brought about the loss, as well as the timetable for any recovery.  Letting go of control doesn’t mean that we give up, or that we don’t put any effort into doing what we can, rather it means that we learn to accept that our recovery will take place on a timetable that will likely change often and is very different than what we would want.  Letting go of the things we can’t control can be one of the early steps toward trusting God to bring hope in the midst of our chaos.  It is important to remember that just because we can’t control what is going on, it doesn’t mean that it is out of His control.  Often times identifying what we can’t control, and then letting go of it, frees us to take appropriate action in the areas that can make a difference in our recovery.  Letting go of what we can’t control helps to bring hope not only because it shows our trust of God, but it allows us concentrate on the things we can still do.

As you pray, ask God to help you let go of the things that you can’t control.  Pray that He would give you wisdom in distinguishing between that which is simply difficult and that which isn’t yours to take care of.  Pray that your trust of Him would grow as you learn to let go of control.

In prayer,
Tom

Encouragement and Prayer:  Hold On To One Another! (07/05/21)

Encouragement and Prayer: Hold On To One Another! (07/05/21)

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This is the daily devotion from the book, “Holding On and Letting Go” and the companion audio from the July 5, 2021 live social media broadcast of encouragement and prayer by Impact Prayer Ministry’s director, Tom Lemler.

Here is day one and an important reminder to hold on to one another as you look out for each other’s needs and share in their joys and sorrows.

Hold On To One Another

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.  If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.  And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
(2 Corinthians 1:3-7)

How alone does your current situation make you feel?  Why?  Are there others affected by the same thing you are currently going through?  Do you think they feel alone?  Why?  Are there people in similar circumstances who would benefit from your willingness to hold on to them?  Do you know people who have already been through what you are dealing with that you could hold on to?  Who?

In the midst of loss, it is God’s desire to bring seeds of comfort to you through people who have received the same comfort that you now need.  No matter the loss, it will generally feel amplified if you must face it alone.  Sometimes the loss is very personal and the enemy would want you to think no one will understand.  Other times the loss is one suffered by many others and the enemy will try to convince you that people have enough grief of their own to worry about.  Neither of those could be further from the truth.  Whether in our most private pain or a very public loss, God has helped to carry others through the very nature of what you are dealing with.  While it may be fun to “rejoice with those who rejoice”, it is just as necessary to “weep with those who weep”.  Holding on to one another won’t solve all the problems, or bring back what was lost, but when those we hold on to are holding on to God, we discover we truly are not alone.

As you pray today, ask God to help you find those who will be someone you can hold on to.  Pray that God would give you the strength needed so that you can be someone others will hold on to, even in your weakness.  Pray that you would find, and be, a community that holds on to one another.

In prayer,
Tom

Living As One Who Is FREE (Sermon Audio)

Living As One Who Is FREE (Sermon Audio)

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This is audio from a live broadcast of a devotional recap of the July 4, 2021 sermon, “Living As One Who Is FREE”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.

Text:  John 8:31-51

When we live as those who have been set free by Jesus, we live as one who is:

  • Forgiven.  John 8:31-32, 1 John 1:8-10
    • Recognizing our sinfulness as well as God’s desire and power to forgive is a big part of the truth that sets us free.  Rejecting the truth and claiming that we are without sin simply keeps us enslaved to the sin we refuse to acknowledge.  When we experience Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life, we find forgiveness through the washing away of our sins by His blood  When we live as one who is forgiven, God calls us to also live as one who forgives.
  • Restored.  John 8:34-36, Luke 15:21-24
    • Living as one who is free through the power of Jesus restores us to the family as full heirs of all that belongs to God.  As those who were created by God, who were knit together by God in our mother’s womb, our freedom in Christ builds on the forgiveness of sin found through Jesus and restores us as sons and daughters of the King.  When we live as one who is restored, God calls us to also live as one who restores others.
  • Enlisted.  John 8:42, 2 Timothy 2:3-4
    • Living as one who is free means that we must live as one who has enlisted in service to the King.  Because we have enlisted, our freedom is not about is rather it is about the One we serve and the people He calls us to love in His name.  Our desire ought to always be about how we can please the One who has enlisted us to be His representative here on earth.  When we live as one who is enlisted, God calls us to also live as one who enlists others into the family of God.
  • Equipped.  John 8:49-51, 2 Timothy 3:16-17
    • I know of very few people, if any, who like to be given a task to be done without the resources to accomplish it.  Living as one who is free in Christ means we are equipped to to the very things we have been enlisted to do.  God’s promise is that He will never leave us nor forsake us and He has given us His Word and His Spirit to equip us for every good work that He has prepared for us to do.  When we live as one who is equipped, God calls us also to live as one who equips others with the truth of His Word.

Are you living as one who is FREE?
Are you helping others live as those who are FREE?