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Most people don't know how warmly Pope John Paul II welcomed the renewal of the Holy Spirit. I saw his passion for God up close.
At a unique ministry called The Prayer Furnace, intercessors are praying 24 hours a day for one of America's neediest cities.
God wants us to be living sacrifices, full of zeal to serve Him every day.
My husband always seems happy. Within five minutes of waking, Dave is humming, singing or listening to music as he gets ready for the day. He is definitely a "morning person."
But years ago, I didn't want any music on in the morning. I didn't want singing or humming or noise of any kind. I wanted silence so I could think. The morning was definitely not my favorite time of day.
Back then I didn't realize how important the morning is--especially those first moments after we awaken. God is eager for us to wake up and talk to Him.
The psalmist David talked a lot about mornings, saying, "This is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it" (Ps. 118:24, paraphrased). David didn't always feel like rejoicing, but he decided to rejoice in God's new day.
It is never good to give in to grumpiness. An irritable attitude can keep us from enjoying God's presence. Psalm 100:4 says that we are to enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Without thanksgiving, we can't even get through the gate!
If we want to enter God's presence, we must lay aside all murmuring and complaining. We must offer ourselves to Him every day with joyful hearts and mouths full of praise, even if we don't feel like it!
Satan tries everything he can to capture our thoughts early in the morning. He wants to get us thinking about all the wrong things as soon as we wake up.
His intent is to steal our peace and joy by upsetting us as soon as our alarms go off. That is why it is important to learn how to defeat the devil early each day. Every morning is a new opportunity to start your day right.
The Bible says, "Through Him, therefore, let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name" (Heb. 13:15, The Amplified Bible).
God is greatly pleased with our sacrifices of praise, and our prayers rise before Him as a sweet-smelling fragrance. Nothing makes Him happier than when we bring ourselves to Him each morning and say: "God, here I am. I want to be a living sacrifice to You."
Even in the Old Testament, God's people brought freewill offerings to Him (see Ex. 35:29). They all had various sacrifices such as animals, grains and cereals. The Bible tells us that Moses rose early in the morning, built an altar, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings to God. Then he prayed and read the Book of the Covenant (see Ex. 24:1-7).
Thankfully, God no longer asks us to build an altar out of rocks, slaughter a bull, drain its blood and build a fire in order to honor Him with a burnt sacrifice. But He does want us to offer our lives each day in dedicated service and praise to Him.
There are countless opportunities to praise God throughout the day. If thankfulness for your many blessings suddenly rises in your heart, stop right then and tell the Lord how grateful you are for all He has given you. Say: "I worship You, Lord, for You are worthy to be praised. I need You, and I just want to tell You that I love You. Thank You, Father, for everything."
Today I still need a little more quiet than Dave does in the morning. But we both have found the way to start our day out right.
Each morning we set our hearts and minds to follow God and choose to practice 1 Chronicles 16:10-12: "Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord! Seek the Lord and His strength; yearn for and seek His face and to be in His presence continually! [Earnestly] remember the marvelous deeds which He has done, His miracles, and the judgments He uttered."
God doesn't want a dead sacrifice anymore. He wants us to be living sacrifices, full of zeal to seek His face and serve Him every day. All we have to do is wake up and say: "Thank You, Lord. I give You a sacrifice of praise. I give You myself, a living sacrifice, ready to live for You today."
All eyes will be on Greece next summer when the Olympic Games return to Athens. Thousands of Christians plan to use the event to evangelize a spiritually needy country.
Reaching the unchurched ... is the responsibility of every follower of Jesus Christ in this country. Period. Are you taking care of your responsibility?
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