“Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.”

Acts 16:25

Cornerhouse, Riga, The Kgb, Trip, Building, Cell

We sing songs in our worship services quite often about how worship can change a situation, and we proclaim and believe that worship can set us free. This story in Acts is a perfect example of that. Paul and Silas had been severely flogged. They were stripped, beaten and publicly humiliated, then thrown into a dark and cold prison cell. Their feet were then fastened in stocks, and thus began a very uncertain future for these two men.

After all of this though, their immediate reaction is to sing praise. I’m sure most of us have never experienced anything remotely close to what they endured, but we have all had our fair share of turmoil and despair. We have all been at one time in our lives enslaved to sin and defeated by our situations and circumstances. What is our first reaction though to trouble?

When they sang it not only loosed their shackles,  but every other prisoner in that cell block was delivered as well. People are always listening to what comes off our lips. Will they hear praise to our God, or negativity and complaining? Will our reaction to devastation trigger a hunger for God in their lives, or will it cause them to question Him?

Because of grace, we are able to sing in even the most difficult of trials. If we consciously choose to make praise and worship our priority today, our situations will change, and those around us will take notice.

Lord, I am so thankful that I have the ability to change my current situation. By lifting you higher, my problems will become smaller. I declare victory today, as I exalt Your name.

“I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.” Psalm 122:1

Today is a very special day, the day we gather together in the house of the Lord to worship Him and to fellowship with our brothers and sisters.  It is a day we look forward to all week long.  I know we get together for Bible study and perhaps at other times during the week, but Sundays are special.

Most of us have heard the quote by President John F Kennedy in his speech on January 1961: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Let’s turn that around and say: “Ask not what your church can do for you, but what you can do for your church.”

I know our pastors will have spent much time in prayer and study, asking the Lord to give them the message that people need for today.  As we pray for the services, do we just pray that the Lord will bless us, or do we pray that the Lord will make us a blessing to others.  God has been so good to us, much more than we deserve.  He wants us to share our blessing with others.

As we gather together, there will be people who have come with problems and situations that they need answers for.  Those of us who have known the Lord for many years, need to be an inspiration and an example to others.  The way that we respond in the worship service, and to the message will speak to them much more than any words that we could say.  When they see us raising our hands, lifting our voices to the Lord in praise, it will let them know that God is faithful, that He has kept us through the years and that He is able to meet them as well.

David said he was glad for the opportunity to go to the house of the Lord.  Are you looking forward to what the Lord is going to do today in your local church?  We cannot expect the Pastor to do it all, each of us has a place to fill.  Let’s be vessels of the Lord today, that others may see Christ in us and be blessed.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, as we prepare for worship today, fill our hearts with a desire to be a blessing and example so that others will come to know You.

Devotion by Anne Johnston

“Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.” Psalm 68:19

Today, Autumn officially begins, and we realize that the year is almost three-quarters gone. I love this time of year when the leaves begin to change their colour and our world is arrayed in splendour.  The nights are cooler, but the days are much more pleasant after the long hot summer. While I was shopping the other day for some decorations for my apartment, I found a plaque with the words of my title on it: “Thankful, Grateful, and Blessed.”

For the past three years, I have been writing down some of the needs that have come up in my life and how God answered prayer.  There have been so many answers to prayer both for me and my family, miracles of healing, financial needs met, problems that have been solved, and just so many blessings that the Lord has bestowed on us. Last year I experienced cancer surgery, but now I am cancer free. Besides these answers to prayer that stand out, there are the daily blessings that He bestows upon us.  God certainly has been good to me and I am thankful, grateful and blessed.

I like what the psalmist, David, said, that the Lord not only gives us benefits daily, but he loads us with them.    The New Living Translation reads this way: “Praise the Lord: praise God our saviour! For each day He carries us in His arms.” 

Because of all He does for us, it is important that we take time every day to praise Him for all He has done, not only the big things, but the little things as well.  Let us always remember to be thankful and grateful because we are blessed.

Prayer:  Jesus we are so thankful for all the blessings you bestow upon us and that you daily carry us in your arms, meeting our every need.

Devotion by Anne Johnston