Encouragement and Prayer:  Encourage One Another! (07/30/21)

Encouragement and Prayer: Encourage One Another! (07/30/21)

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This is the daily devotion from the July 30, 2021 live social media broadcast of encouragement and prayer by Impact Prayer Ministry’s director, Tom Lemler.

Today’s devotion wrapped up the journey we took through the “Holding On and Letting Go” book and then focused on the subject of encouraging and building up one another.

Encourage One Another!

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

This week’s prayer focus has been about being the body of Christ as you live life together with others by His design.  God’s Word teaches us His plan and design for a healthy body with Christ as the Head and each member of the body doing its part.  As you pray this week, ask God to help you seek and understand His design for your part in His body.  Pray that you would not only know your own great value in God’s design, but that you would value those around you who are in your life by God’s design.  Pray for the courage to grow and work together with greater understanding and acceptance of the differences that exist among the different parts of God’s family.  Pray for discernment and wisdom to see beyond and through the divisiveness of this world so that you would love others as God loves both you and them.

Pray that you would continually grow in your encouragement of others as you build them up by God’s design.  Pray that you would value the people around you as you each give and receive the encouragement that builds up the body of Christ.

In prayer,
Tom

Encouragement and Prayer:  Hold On To God! (07/29/21)

Encouragement and Prayer: Hold On To God! (07/29/21)

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This is the daily devotion from the book, “Holding On and Letting Go” and the companion audio from the July 29, 2021 live social media broadcast of encouragement and prayer by Impact Prayer Ministry’s director, Tom Lemler.

Here is day nineteen with an important reminder to hold on to God above all else even as He holds on to you.

Hold On To God!

“For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” 
Isaiah 41:13 (NIV)

Have you ever felt abandoned by people?  Are there people who likely feel that you have abandoned them?  Have you ever felt abandoned by God?  Why?  What do you do when you feel alone?  How difficult is it to hold on to God when you find yourself in the midst of chaos?  Why?  What comfort does God give you when you do hold on to Him in the midst of disaster?

Recovery is rarely as fast as we would like and often never as complete as we would hope.  It is in the process of overcoming that we must hold on to God every step of the way.  God has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us, but I know a lot of people who live life distant from God — many as a reaction to some disaster in their life.  The problem isn’t that God left, but rather that the enemy convinces us that God doesn’t care so we might as well let go.  Holding on to God is a matter of faith and sometimes we just need to join the person in scripture in saying, “Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!”  Even when it is unclear if and when life will ever be “normal” again, holding on to God will give us a sure foundation for whatever the days ahead will bring.  Yes, there will likely be people that abandon us and even people that we abandon, but we must be careful to not let our failures define God.  As we hold on to God we find that He also has a firm hold on us with a desire to see us through the troubles of life.  When we hold on to God in the midst of our chaos, we find that we not only have a point of stability in our life but that He will use us to help others see Him as the reason for our hope.

As you pray, thank God for always being there for you to hold on to.  Pray that you would not allow the actions or inaction of people to entice you into letting go of God.  Pray that you would hold on to God in such a way that He provides hope to you and to those around you.

In prayer,
Tom

Encouragement and Prayer:  Let Go Of Pride! (07/28/21)

Encouragement and Prayer: Let Go Of Pride! (07/28/21)

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This is the daily devotion from the book, “Holding On and Letting Go” and the companion audio from the July 28, 2021 live social media broadcast of encouragement and prayer by Impact Prayer Ministry’s director, Tom Lemler.

Here is day eighteen with an important reminder to let go of the pride which keeps you from seeking, and seeing, the help God wants to provide.

Let Go Of Pride

“Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.”
Proverbs 13:10 (NIV)

Are you a prideful person?  Is pride always bad?  Explain.  Do you like asking for help?  Why?  Do you ever give up on something when you know it could be done if you had a little help?  Why?  Are there things you expect others to do that you won’t?  Why?  How will letting go of pride help both you and others as you live in the midst of chaos?

For many, one of the hardest things to do is to ask for help because it requires us to admit we can’t do something on our own.  Pride wants to isolate us from those that God may well have surrounded us with for the very purpose of providing the help we desperately need.  Letting go of pride will help us not only admit our need, but it open us up to allowing others to help us in ways that perhaps only they can.  In the fog of disaster, pride can also creep in and say, “I didn’t deserve this.”  While true or not, the problem with such a statement is that it focuses on self rather than on the shared loss by all that experience the same, or similar, disaster.  When our focus is on what we did or didn’t deserve, we will rarely lift our eyes far enough to see the shared suffering that is experienced by many around us.  Pride is a tool of isolation as it attempts to lift us up above everyone else.  When we let go of pride, we can not only see those around us who are also struggling, we can often see ways that we can help them even as we ourselves are being helped.  It is when we replace pride with humility that we find ourselves lifted up by God in order to be His shining light in the midst of chaos.  Letting go of pride brings hope as it helps us love people as Jesus does.

As you pray, ask God to help you examine yourself for any traces of pride that lifts yourself above someone else.  Pray that God would help you remove all elements of pride that keep you from asking for and receiving the help you need.  Pray that you would let go of pride as you learn and practice humility while seeking to live like Jesus.

In prayer,
Tom

Encouragement and Prayer:  Hold On To Memories! (07/27/21)

Encouragement and Prayer: Hold On To Memories! (07/27/21)

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This is the daily devotion from the book, “Holding On and Letting Go” and the companion audio from the July 27, 2021 live social media broadcast of encouragement and prayer by Impact Prayer Ministry’s director, Tom Lemler.

Here is day seventeen with an important reminder to hold on to the memories of what God has done in the past even as you make new memories of what He is doing now.

Hold On To Memories

“And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.”
2 Peter 1:15 (NIV)

What is the earliest memory that you have?  Is it a good memory?  How important are memories to you?  Why?  Are there things people tell you about that you wish you could remember?  Why?  What are some things that help you hold on to the important things you ought to remember?  How will holding on to memories help you have hope in the midst of your current chaos?

There are some losses that simply can’t be fixed or restored to the way things were before.  Whether we sit in the rubble of a destroyed home or at the graveside of a child, the realization often hits that nothing will ever be the same.  Holding on to memories in the midst of chaos can be a good thing — if you have good memories to hold on to.  If not, perhaps it is time to make some good memories that will help carry you through the chaos you are experiencing.  Throughout scripture, it is apparent that God is very aware of the forgetfulness of mankind.  He is also aware of how important it is to remember the things He has done, so He often gave instructions to His people to set up feasts, monuments, meals, and other means to serve as reminders not just of what He has done, but also reminders to share with others what He has done.  Our memories are what carries us through the hours of darkness as we await restoration — whether the temporary restoration from our current disaster or the permanent restoration in eternity.  As we hold on to the memories of God’s work not only throughout history, but His work specifically in our life, we are reminded of His faithfulness that can carry us through our chaos.

As you pray, ask God to help you recall the memories of His working in your life.  Pray that you would not just hold on to the memories, but that you would share them with others.  Pray that you would find comfort in the memories you have — even memories of things that have been lost.  Pray that you would hold on to memories in a way that brings hope for the future.

In prayer,
Tom

Encouragement and Prayer:  Let Go Of Doubt! (07/26/21)

Encouragement and Prayer: Let Go Of Doubt! (07/26/21)

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This is the daily devotion from the book, “Holding On and Letting Go” and the companion audio from the July 26, 2021 live social media broadcast of encouragement and prayer by Impact Prayer Ministry’s director, Tom Lemler.

Here is day sixteen with an important reminder to look beyond the doubts that creep into your mind as you learn to trust God fully even in uncertain times.

Let Go of Doubt

“But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”
James 1:6 (NIV)

How confident do you tend to be?  What is this confidence level based on?  What types of things are most likely to destroy your confidence?  Do you have doubt?  Has your current situation increased your doubts?  Why?  Do the doubts related to the uncertainty you face make you question if recovery is even possible?  What would it take for you to let go of doubt so that you can find hope?

For many, disaster can fill us with doubt so quickly that we lose hope that anything will ever be okay again.  While uncertainty in life is a given, serious doubt has a way of growing and infecting us way beyond that which is unknown.  When we allow our doubts to grow, we find that we begin to doubt if anyone even cares and those thoughts will eventually lead us to doubt God’s love.  When doubt fills our mind, it isn’t long before every thought we have is filtered through that doubt.  Letting go of doubt doesn’t remove all uncertainty, but it can open our minds to being able to trust both people and God more fully.  When doubt no longer has control of our thoughts, we are set free to walk by faith as we trust in God.  We may not know where the immediate help that we need will come from, but we trust that God will be with us both now and forevermore.  Letting go of doubt doesn’t mean that we all of a sudden get all of the answers we are looking for, but it means we no longer allow the lack of answers to have control over us.  Letting go of doubt allows us to be filled with a faith that trusts God to provide whatever we ask according to His will.

As you pray, ask God to help you evaluate how much the uncertainties of life have grown into doubt in your mind.  Pray that you would learn to face the unknown with faith rather than doubt.  Pray that God would help you seek His will as you walk, and ask, by faith each day.  Pray that you would have greater hope in the midst of chaos as you let go of doubt.

In prayer,
Tom

A Useful LAMP (Sermon Audio)

A Useful LAMP (Sermon Audio)

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This is audio and outline from the July 25, 2021 sermon, “A Useful LAMP”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.

Text:  Mark 4:21-25

When Jesus addressed the multitude in what we call the Sermon on the Mount, He says, “You are the light of the world!”  As those called by Jesus to be the light of the world, it is important that we live with a useful:

  • Life.  Mark 4:22, John 10:10
    • A useful lamp begins with a recognition of the value of life — your own life and the life of every person you will ever meet.  Your life is useful not because of how well you measure up to the worlds expectations, but because you were created in the image of God to do the good works He created in advance for you to do.  Jesus came to set each one of us free so that we could live life, and live it abundantly.  Our lamp is useful when we treat everyone we encounter with the respect that is due simply because God says their life is useful.
  • Attitude.  Mark 4:23, Philippians 2:5
    • Having ears to hear is much more than simply having physical ears that can hear.  In fact, many people have ears which could hear but their attitude is such that nothing makes it in.  We have a useful attitude when we open our ears and show by our doing that we understand Jesus has called us to serve others.  Our attitude ought to transform our hearing as we grow in our understanding of all that is ours through our relationship with Jesus.  Our lamp is useful when the people around us experience a useful attitude from us as we serve them.
  • Measure.  Mark 4:24-25, 2 Corinthians 10:12 & 18
    • A useful measure is one that evaluates our own life according to the standard of God’s Word and the example of Jesus.  Measuring ourselves against one another only serves to feed our pride and arrogance in a way that rarely results in positive change.  The standard that ought to be at the front of our mind when it comes to measuring our self, or anyone else, is a desire to hear the words of Jesus, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  Our lamp is useful when we measure by God’s standards and not by the standards of the world..
  • Place.  Mark 4:21, Matthew 5:16
    • They say there are three keys to real estate . . . location, location, and location!  The same could be said for living as a useful lamp, location is key.  But in this case, it is not so much about a particular location as it is about being the light of Jesus in whatever location you happen to be at.  A useful lamp is not one that is hidden under a basket, rather it is one that is set out in the open so all can see the good works of God in you, through you, and by you in order to glorify your Father in heaven.

How useful is your LAMP in helping people see Jesus?

Encouragement and Prayer:  Hold On To the Goal! (07/23/21)

Encouragement and Prayer: Hold On To the Goal! (07/23/21)

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This is the daily devotion from the book, “Holding On and Letting Go” and the companion audio from the July 23, 2021 live social media broadcast of encouragement and prayer by Impact Prayer Ministry’s director, Tom Lemler.

Here is day fifteen with an important reminder to keep your eyes fixed beyond the temporary as you hold fast to the eternal goal.

Hold On To the Goal

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”
Philippians 3:12 (NIV)

What are your goals in life?  What is your primary goal?  What are you doing to reach your goals?  Have you ever had a goal that was important to you at one time but you have quit pursuing?  Why?  As you look at your current situation, what is your goal for today?  Why?  What goal do you need to hold on to in order for you to have hope in the midst of your current chaos?

Life is full of distractions for everyone, but for those in the midst of the chaos of disaster, the temptation to lose sight of life’s goals becomes even greater.  In fact, sometimes it is critical that we develop daily goals that are manageable, even while we keep an eye on the eternal goal that ought to guide our life.  If our ultimate goal is to take hold of the eternal life to which God has called us, then perhaps we ought to consider what the pursuit of that looks like each day in the midst of our disaster and recovery.  Cutting through the fog of chaos often requires a flexibility that makes it easy to lose sight of not only the eternal goal, but the short term goals that get us beyond the disaster and into recovery.  When our plans are changed by situations and circumstances beyond our control, it can be easy to question whether any of our goals are even attainable.  The answer to that question will have a lot to do with the source of those goals.  Disaster has a way of refining our goals like little else can.  When so much is lost, it can be difficult to have a goal beyond just getting through another day.  Yet when we hold on not only to the goal of getting through the day but also to the eternal goal we most long for, we find the hope needed to keep going.

As you pray, ask God to help you examine the goals you think most important.  Pray that you would evaluate all of your goals in light of the eternal goal that God has taken hold of you for.  Pray that you would hold on to the goals that God has for you even as you endure the chaos of life.

In prayer,
Tom

Encouragement and Prayer:  Let Go Of Greed! (07/22/21)

Encouragement and Prayer: Let Go Of Greed! (07/22/21)

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This is the daily devotion from the book, “Holding On and Letting Go” and the companion audio from the July 22, 2021 live social media broadcast of encouragement and prayer by Impact Prayer Ministry’s director, Tom Lemler.

Here is day fourteen with an important reminder to let go of all forms and traces of greed.

Let Go Of Greed

“Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’”
Luke 12:15 (NIV)

How much is enough?  Are you sure?  What determines that answer in your life?  Why?  Is greed more about what you have or about what you want?  Why?  Have you ever missed out on something you wanted, or needed, because of the greed of someone else?  How did you feel?  How will letting go of greed help you to not only have hope, but help you to share hope with others?

“I’ve lost so much, it is only fair that I take whatever I can get.”  Perhaps you’ve heard someone say that, or even said it yourself.  Such an attitude may not be greedy in and of itself, but it definitely has the seeds of greed when the “whatever” is limited.  Particularly when recovery resources are limited, it can be very difficult to consider the needs of anyone but ourselves.  In fact, the fog of chaos can make it appear in our mind as if we’re the only one who is in real need.  For most of us, the seeds of greed are hidden well enough that we rarely recognize them.  In fact, even considering that we need to let go of greed probably seems a bit abrasive to many of us.  Yet without a deliberate effort to let it go, greed has a way of weaving itself into our mind in ways that eventually come out.  Like so many other things that we need to let go of, doing so will require that we replace it with something so that the hole left is filled.  When it comes to letting go of greed, it is the act of sharing that best fills the hole left by greed’s absence.  Letting go of greed allows us to see the needs of our friends, families, and neighbors to be as equally important as our own — or maybe even more so.  Letting go of greed gives us hope as we not only look to God to provide all our needs, but we also trust Him to do so.

As you pray, ask God to help you examine your heart and mind for any seeds of greed that you need to let go of.  Pray that you would look to the needs of others even above your own.  Pray that you would know the hope God desires to give as you let go of greed and learn to share.

In prayer,
Tom