Christian

How committed are we?

and may your hearts be fully committed‘ (1 Kings 8:61 NIV)

This week, it is vision and commitment weekend within the Salvation Army, and it is a good time for reflection on the past spiritual year, the battles fought and won, how we served our Lord, and where we see our path leading us, or rather, where we think God is leading us; ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD‘ (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV). God has great plans for all of our lives, we just have to trust Him to reveal them to us, and be receptive to hear them; For God has said, ‘I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go‘ (Psalm 32:8 NIV); but not only that, God know our weaknesses, and, ‘he shows the proper path to those who go astray‘ (Psalm 25:8 NLT); and when we stray, ‘He rescues them… … and keeps them alive in times of famine‘ (Psalm 33:19 NLT).

When we seek God in what we do, ‘You will… .. find me when you seek with all your heart‘ (Jeremiah 29:13 NIV), and when we seek Him, God too searches in order to, ‘strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed‘ (2 Chronicles 16:9 NLT).

In the same way that we commit to God, it was God first through Jesus, that, ‘was reconciling the world… … and he has committed to us the message of reconciliation‘ (2 Corinthians 5:19 NIV). And the message of reconciliation, was a pair of out-stretched arms, ‘For God so loved the world‘ (John 3:16). God loves us and wants us all to be part of Him in the Church.

In the 80’s, Wham had ‘T’ shirts with big bold writing on them saying ‘choose life’ printed on them; we can still do that, choose life, choose Jesus; in this new year, re-commit your life to the Lord of All Creation, for, ‘if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come‘ (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV).

Choose to commit to God, choose to live for the King of Kings, choose to serve Him who saves us, ‘Choose Life‘.

Worthy of praise - John 17 v 3

 

Lead me LORD in your righteousness, make your way straight before me. Spread your protection over those who love your name, may the rejoice in you. We know that in the morning, you hear our voice as we lay our requests before you, watch over our ways Lord, keep us righteous. Let us be glad under your protection, as we consider your creation, we stand in awe that you have time for us, you have time even for me, to make known the path of my  life, my life is full of joy in your presence. You are my rock LORD, you are my shield and salvation, your forget my sins and count them not against me, and instruct me in your ways. Though people may shun me throughout my life, you alone will receive me, always. There is only one thing I ask LORD, may I dwell in your house for the rest of my days, and be happy in your presence.        

 (Psalms)

I tasted the world, seen more than enough, it’s promises fleeting.
Of water and wine I emptied the cup and found myself wanting
But there is a well that never runs dry
The water of life, the blood of the Vine

And all I know is everything
I have means nothing
Jesus, if You’re not my one thing
Everything I need right now
All I need is You right now

‘Cuz all I want is
Everything you are and nothing
Jesus if you’re not my one thing
Everything to me right now

One Thing (Hillsong)
J.Houston, A. King, Dylan Thomas

 

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Father God, as we enter a new year, help us to look again at our lives and consider how we may serve you in the coming year. Help us to be receptive to your voice, help us to hear you when you speak, help us to be still and wait upon you, Lord we love you so much and wish in this coming year to show that by our commitment to you, to serve you where you would want us to.
Lord we pray for all leaders at this time, with all the situations that they face, strengthen and renew them with your peace and love, and surround them with people that will support them in prayer and love. Lord they may lead us, but they are just like us, so be with them and let them know your peace in their lives.

Amen

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Christian

Let’s do it again!

has become a new person‘ (2 Corinthians 5:7 NLT)

At this time of year, many of us will ponder the previous twelve months; how they panned out for us and others close to us, what we accomplished, and the things that we could not complete. We take a retrospective look on life in general. There will be television shows that will give us the highlights of the year, the funny items, the celebrity news and all manner of things.

In a similar vein, it is also a good time of year to look inwardly too, to spend some time being introspective, to examine our self. The founder of the Salvation Army, General William Booth, was known for asking about a person’s soul, or walk with God, and he did not ‘sugar-coat‘ his words, he was direct, and used to ask by saying, ‘Tell me, how is it with your soul?‘ (God’s Soldiers p123). As we look towards a new year, should we not also consider how our walk with God went in the previous twelve months?

Did we pray enough this last year? Did we spend enough time immersed in the wonders of the Bible? Did we share the good news of Jesus to those when we had the opportunity? There are many things we could consider.

New year resolutions are also a popular thing to set one-self, but how many of you do this, only to not follow through? God knows that we struggle, yet He still loves us no matter what. There is nothing we can do that is so bad that He will stop loving us, equally there is nothing that we can do to make Him love us more. But at this time of year as we are ready to ‘do it all again‘, let us spend some time alone with God and consider our soul.

Tell me, how is it with your soul?

 

you-make-a-new-life-by-making-new-choices-quote-1

 

anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person‘ (2 Corinthians 5;7 NLT). As the new year dawns upon us, we can consider newness.

The year will be new, we will not have made any mistakes, isn’t that good, not to have made any mistakes? But how long will it last for us, We all make mistakes, and when we make mistakes, we have to live with the consequences.

But if at the beginning of a new year, we can again turn to God, and reaffirm our love for Him. If we do this, He will again make us new in Him. We know that He will , ‘have compassion on us‘ and ‘trample our sins under his [your] feet‘ (Micah 7:19 NLT). God forgives and forgets, ‘I alone will blot out your sins… … and will never think of them again‘ (Isaiah 43:25 NLT), not only that  but we know that God will, ‘forgive generously‘ (Isaiah 55:7 NLT). At this new year let us all put our souls right with God.

 

In His hands that hung the sky
In His hands that touch the blind
In His hands He’s holding me
In His hands that flung the stars
In His hands that bear the scars
In His hands He’s holding me

O Jesus, the One who frees us     
The One who holds  us all
O Jesus, the One who saves us
The One who holds us all in His hands of love

In His hands that bring us life
In His hands we come alive
In His hands He’s holding us

His Hands of Love
Davis Crowder, Seth Philpott

 

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Father God, as we prepare to enter another new year, help us to consider all the things that we wanted to do last year, and those that we want to do this coming year. Lord we know that through your strength, all things are possible. Help us to fully rely on your strength in all situations, so that we may show your light and love to those around us, at all times.
Lord, at the start of a new year, we consider all the new babies that have been born over the Christmas period. Help the parents of all children to bring them up in the knowledge of your love and hope. May all children everywhere be loved as they should be, unconditionally and shown that they are important. Help children everywhere to you’re your love within their hearts and lives, that they may be able to grow up in a secure knowledge of your love.

Amen

 

Christian

He is born to save us all!

Hark! the herald angels sing “Glory to the newborn King

My dear precious Jesus, I did not mean to take your place,
I only bring toys and things and you bring love and grace.
People give me lists of wishes and hope that they come true;
But you hear prayers of the heart and promise your will to do.
Children try to be good and not to cry when I am coming to town;
But you love them unconditionally and that love will abound.
I leave only a bag of toys and temporary joy for a season;
But you leave a heart of love, full of purpose and reasons.
I have a lot of believers and what one might call fame;
But I never healed the blind or tried to help the lame.
I have rosy cheeks and a voice full of laughter;
But no nail—scarred hands or a promise of the hereafter.
You may find several of me in town or at a mall;
But there is only one omnipotent you, to answer a sinner’s call.
And so, my dear precious Jesus, I kneel here to pray;
To worship and adore you on this, your holy birthday.

Jesus & Santa

HOPE, PEACE, JOY & LOVE

1600+ years after the child was born, Isaac Watts wrote the words to this famous carol, ‘Joy to the world! the Lord is come.’ We can all accept it, should we want to, the free gift that the child gave to the world, as he grew into a man and sacrificed Himself for our sins. On this most joyous day, we recall the fact that God loved the world so much, He was willing to give of Himself in the biggest way that He could (John 3:16). He did this by sending His Son, Jesus, to show us the way to live, in unity with our God and others around us. His life is worth celebrating, every minute of every day. If Scrooge could learn not to be selfish, and to live each day as if it was Christmas, sharing with others less fortunate, should we not do the same, with and for the love of Jesus?

O come, all ye faithful, 
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold Him,
Born the King of Angels;

O come let us adore Him,
Christ, the Lord

Yea, Lord we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning,
Jesus, to thee be glory given;
Word of the Father,
Now in flesh appearing;

O come let us adore Him,
Christ, the Lord

Attr. John Francis Wade (c 17111 – 1786)
trs Frederick Oakeley (1802 – 1880) & others

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Lord we pray for those suffering from loss at this time of year, we pray that the Church community that they belong to upholds them in their prayers, and that they will feel the special presence of the Lord at this time. Help them to emerge stronger in their faith and ready to help others going through similar situations.

Lord we pray for individual and congregational strength, guidance, direction and peace; that God will reveal His Divine plan for all of our lives, and that He may show us the path that He wants us to walk, that we may work together for His Glory through this coming year.

Amen

Christian

I’m in love, I’m in love, and I do’t care who knows it (Buddy the Elf)

 “The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.” (Victor Hugo)

We know we are loved. We know, ‘this is how God loved the world; He gave his one and only Son‘ (John 3:16 NLT). Not only did He give His Son for us, but, ‘God demonstrates his own love for us… While we were still sinners, Christ died for us‘ (Romans 5:8 NIV); and not only that, ‘at just the right time… … Christ died‘ (Romans 5:6 NIV).

You may ask “why did He do this?” ‘This is how God showed his love among us… … 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 4:9-10 NIV). He did it because he loves us, unconditionally (John 3:16).

The Psalmist David knew that God loved him, ‘How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!‘ (Psalm 36:7 NIV); and had plans for Him, ‘You make know to me the path of life‘ (Psalm 16:11 NIV), we too can read those words as if they were written to us now, today. God has a plan for all of our lives, ‘They are plans for good… to give you a future and a hope‘ (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT); David agrees with this for he wrote, ‘Many…  are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us’ (Psalm 40:5 NIV).

Paul reminds us, when writing to the Church at Corinth, of the greatest thing that we have, ‘Three things will last forever – faith, hope and love – and the greatest of these is love‘ (1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT). We love not only because Jesus told us to (Matthew 22:37-40), but because, ‘we live by faith, not by sight‘ (2 Corinthians 5:7 NIV); but ultimately, ‘we know and rely on the love God has for us‘ (1 Thessalonians 4:6 NIV). And God’s love is like the following statement by an unknown author, ‘I choose you. And I’ll choose you over and over and over. Without pause, without a doubt, in a heartbeat. I’ll keep choosing you.‘ (Anon). That is how much God loves us.

“To love is nothing. To be loved is something. But to love and be loved, that’s everything.” (T. Tolis) so with God’s unfailing love for us, we have everything.  “And remember, as it was written, to love another person is to see the face of God.” (Les Miserables)

4 advent - love

The Little Baby

The little baby, so tiny and small,
Was born and slept in a cattle stall.
No riches or fame, were in his life,
just plain, and normal everyday strife.

Tempted by the devil  tho’ he was,
But passed the test, first class.
For you and me, he died on the cross,
To ensure our lives are rescued from loss.

Each year, we celebrate his birth,
With presents, joy, and lots of mirth.
So hold him deep within our heart,
And never ever, from him depart.

 

Gaudete, gaudete! Christus est natus
Ex Maria virgine, gaudete!

(Rejoice! Rejoice! Christ is born
Of the virgin Mary.  Rejoice!)

 Now the time of grace has come, 
Let us raise our voices;
Promised hope has now appeared,
All mankind rejoices!

God is born into our world,
Nature celebrating;
Everything is now made new,
Christ the King is reigning.

The eastern gate Ezekiel saw
Closed, is standing open;
Light is streaming to the world,
Showing our salvation.

Therefore let us sing aloud,
Celebrate this story;
Let our praises now resound 
To the King of Glory!

Traditional Latin carol (c.1582)

 

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Father God, as we prepare to celebrate the birth of your dear Son, help us to look again at the story in the Bible and to fully rely on and accept the truth of the word. Help us to live the love that came down on that first Christmas, and help us to keep Christ IN Christmas. Help us to show others at this time of year, that without your Son, there is no Christmas, and that Christ is the reason for the season.
Lord we pray  for the people who will be sleeping rough out on the streets of the world, be with them and the people that will go out to feed them and minister to them, help them to feel our love by their actions.
Lord we pray for the people of the Philippines at this time, help the aid workers that go there to help rescue and give help. We pray that your Spirit will be with them at this time.

Amen

 

Christian

Joy! Joy! Joy!

Joy to the world

The Psalmist wrote, ‘Clap your hands! Shout to God with joyful praise‘ (Psalm 47:1 ESV), and ‘Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad‘ (Psalm 96:11 NIV) and, ‘Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth‘ (Psalm 98:4 NIV). So the Psalmist is telling us to be joyful with our God, and to praise Him.

Between the years of 1674 and 1748, Isaac Watts wrote the wonderful words to this marvellous carol. It has been over 260 years since then, and we are still singing the words that were inspired by the birth of a special child, foretold in the book of Isaiah,

For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace‘ (Isaiah 9:6-7).

It happened over 2000 years ago, and it affected people and some changed because of it. Today, and the years in between, have also moved the hearts and minds of men and women, and people are still moved by Him and the truths found in the Bible. We sing, ‘Let every heart prepare Him room‘, and about, ‘The glories of His righteousness, and wonders of His love‘, and also, ‘Repeat the sounding joy‘, (Joy To The World). These are fantastic words of both praise to our God, and encouragement for others.

The First Noel‘ (Anon), angels came to inform local people about the birth of a baby, Jesus. This was a special birth and every-body needed to know; and everybody still needs to know today, possibly more so with today’s society. There is more today that can draw us away from God. Paul reminds us, ‘Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world‘ (Romans 12:2 ESV); instead, we are to be, ‘transformed by the renewal of our [your] mind‘ (v 2 NLT).

 That is why it is so important during this Advent that we are open to the moving of His spirit is us, and be prepared to show Him, and the hope that He brings to mankind. We need to show the peace that we can have when we surrender our lives to the Lord of All.

We need to be full of the joy that can only come when we have a fully committed relationship with our Lord, the only person that can help and save us. Only Jesus can truly help us, and so we sing ‘And fit us for Heaven to live with thee there‘ (Away in a Manger – Anon).

3 advent - joy

 

HOPE, PEACE, JOY & LOVE

Bildad replied to Job by saying; ‘He [God] will fill yet your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.‘ (Job 8:21 NIV). Even at his lowest, Job knew deep down in his heart, that God had not left him. We know, in our hearts that God will never leave us, even though we, as with the Hebrews, need reminding some times, so Paul did just that, ‘God has said, “I will never abandon you”‘ (Hebrews 13:5 NLT – remember this). We need to trust God, He is with us, and will give us what we need, when we need it. In His time, not ours. He has a plan for our lives (Job 29:11). We may see troubles in our personal lives, or through the lives of other people’s around us, but our life will be put back onto an even keel; ‘from the depths of the earth you [God] will bring me up‘ (Psalm 71:20 NIV). In all we do we should remember ‘God is our refuge and strength‘ (Psalm 46:1 NLT), and we should ‘Shout with joy to the LORD… … Worship the LORD with gladness‘ (Psalm 100:1-2).

My Jesus, my Saviour, Lord, there is none like you. All of my days I want to praise, the wonders of your mighty love. My comfort, my shelter, tower of refuge and strength,  let every breath, all that I am,  never cease to worship you.

Shout to the Lord, all the earth, let us sing. Power and majesty, praise to the King. Mountains bow down and the seas will roar, at the sound of your name. I sing for joy at the work of your hands, forever I’ll love you, forever I’ll stand. Nothing compares to the promise I have in you.

My Jesus My Saviour

Darlene Zschech ©Hillsongs 1994

 

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Lord we thank you for the joy that can only be found in you. We know that you are with us always, and will never leave us, we also know that you watch over us, and have a plan for each of us. Lord help us to fully rely on you, and you alone, help us to look to you and what you give us daily, and to see the cost of following world. Lord you are truly an awesome God, loving and kind, help us to be loving and kind too.
Lord we know the words to many carols, and we sing them year after year. Help us to truly encounter you through the singing of them, help our lives to be transformed by the words and by what they stand for. Lord help us daily, to look to your life as an example of what ours should look like, and help us to be better people.

Amen

 

Christian

In Pieces, or In Peace?

‘And peace to men on earth’

With all the problems that we see around the world and the constant coverage on these events in the news and internet, along with natural disasters that seem to be constantly occurring, it is hard to see or imagine peace anywhere, yet Jesus said, ‘Peace I leave with you(John 14:27 NIV). He told His followers that they would have the peace of Jesus, ‘I do not give to you as the world gives‘ (v 27). We too can have the peace of our Lord, Saviour, Friend and Redeemer left to the world; His gift of peace; should we and they seek and accept Him, peace will be theirs and ours, and Jesus told people that they should, ‘seek first his kingdom and his righteousness‘ (Matthew 6:33 NIV). Jesus also promised us that once we have come to Him and accepted Him as Lord of our life, that He would stay with us, ‘Never will I leave you‘ (Hebrews 13:5 NIV). Once we are with God, we are never alone.

We can take comfort in the fact that, ‘the LORD loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones‘ (Psalm 37:28). All Christians suffer at times, but when they die, they will have His eternal peace when they pass from this life. Those who live for the Lord, and delight in Him ‘The Lord upholds them [him] with his hand‘ (Psalm 37:24 NIV). We walk with God in His strength, but sometimes we also get carried by his strength (Footprints in the Sand).

From the very beginning, Jesus was always going to be special; as His birth became imminent even the angels could not keep silent; they spoke to the shepherds saying; ‘Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased‘ (Luke 2:14 NLT). We also sing ‘Glory to the newborn King‘ and ‘Peace on earth and mercy mild‘ (Hark The Herald Angel Sing). Jesus though said that he did not come to bring peace (Matthew 10:34), but he did share with His disciples so that they would have peace (John 16:33). We may not feel at peace, we may have issues that require addressing, but whatever is wrong in our lives, Jesus is the answer.

Only Jesus can give us the peace that our hearts crave. God can remedy all things, in His time. ‘God He has called you [us] to live in peace‘ (1 Corinthians 7:15 NIV), for He himself is a God of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33).

Is He the God of your peace?

2 advent - peace

HOPE, PEACE, LOVE & JOY

Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and He said ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.’ (John 14:27 NIV). He also said that it was not given as the world gives. The world will want something in return. ‘There’s no such thing as a free lunch‘ (Milton Friedman) means you will not get something for nothing, yet Jesus gave, and God gives without expectation. God wants our love, and when we give it, He gives us His peace. ‘Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times‘ (2 Thessalonians 3:16). It may not seem that we have His peace but if we do as the Psalm tells us, ‘Be still and know him [that I am God]‘ (Psalm 46:10 ESV). If we are still and really get to know God, if we then listen, He is there, and He is ‘always ready to help in times of trouble‘ (Psalm 46:1 NLT).

 

The first Noel the angel did say, was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay; in fields where they lay keeping their sheep, on a cold winter’s night that was so deep.

Then let us all with one accord, sing praises to our heavenly Lord, that hath made heaven and earth of naught, and with his blood mankind hath bought

The First Noel

Anon – 17the century

 

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Lord we often sing carols at Christmas that celebrate your birth, and sing about peace on earth, and for all men. This year help us to really mean the words that we sing, help us to really look and work for peace as you did; help us to be ambassadors for peace, so that people will see a change in us. Help us to look to you, and what breaks your heart, may it also affect ours. Lord we look to you and the Bible for all of our teaching, help us to look harder, give us truly eyes to see, and ears to hear, and a heart that is willing.

Lord at this time, special to all Christians, help us to be ready to help those less fortunate than ourselves, help us to consider them more and help them in whatever ways we can, to show your true love.

Amen

 

 

 

 

Christian

The Whole World Needs Him

Christ for the whole wide world‘ (Hattie Bell Allen 1896-1981)

In everything that we do, every relationship that we have, every decision that we make, we should always consider the fact that we are children of the Living God! A few years ago, people started to were bracelets with the letters W.W.J.D., and the letters stood for, ‘What Would Jesus Do?‘ if every Christian would act like this, then the world would be a much better place.

Living our life, considering how Jesus would react, how He would deal with a situation; how He would speak, listen, act and love, would show His light and love to the world around us. Unfortunately, being human means that this is not easy. Jesus, when teaching about enemies said that we are to love everyone including our enemies, then people will know that we are, ‘children of the Most High‘ (Luke 6:35 NLT). Loving people that we like and care for is easy, but loving the people that we do not get along with, the people who annoy us, the people who spread gossip about us, that is the difficult part, but we are called to do it. We can only do these things if we are with God, ‘apart from me [Jesus] you can do nothing‘ (John 15:5 NIV); if we are separated from God, we do not have the strength, not on our own.

We should base all of our relationships on what God has told us through the words of Jesus; what He did and how He did it, and how He taught, and also by the fact that we know that God loves us so much, (John 3:16).

Jeremiah wrote a letter to exiled Israelite’s whilst they were living in Babylon, telling them what God had for each of their lives, ‘For I know the plans I have for you… .. to give you a good future and a hope‘ (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT); even the Psalmist David knew that the Lord would, ‘teach me [you] in the way I [you] should go‘ (Psalm 32:8 NIV).

God knows what plans there are for our lives, David even noted this by saying, ‘all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be‘ (Psalm 139:16 NIV).

We need to trust that God knows what is best for us.

Ask God what that plan is, and then start living His great plan for our lives.

 

World map

If we do not show other people Christ in our lives, or if we do not share the love of God with others, are we actually doing what Jesus commanded us to do?

Jesus told His disciples that, as you go about your business, when you get the chance, you should share the love of God, and that of the Good News of the Gospel of Christ Jesus, with those around you, and also teach them to obey all that I (Jesus) have commanded you  (Matt 28:19-20).

He is truly Christ, for the whole wide world

 

 

Lord please, I ask that you show me your plan, for my life it is dreary, and I need some focus. Help me to seek, and to search, and to find, help me to see, and no longer be blind.

Lord will you show me how I can be bolder, it’s hard for me Lord, for I cower from the crowd, help me to be, the salt and the light, take me and use me, to fight in your fight.

Lord will you use me, to  show others it’s true, that only with you, will my life be fulfilled.
My part in this story I willingly play, Lord, please help me to show some people your way.

 

 

Spent today in a conversation, in the mirror face to face with somebody less than perfect I wouldn’t choose me first if I was looking for a champion. In fact I’d understand  if you picked everyone before me, but that’s just not my story. True to who You are, you saw my heart and made something out of nothing.

I don’t need my name in lights, I’m famous in my Father’s eyes. Make no mistake, He knows my name.

He Knows My Name – S.Mosley, F. Battistelli, M. Fieldes

 

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Lord we thank you for your great love for us, we know that we are loved and cherished as your children, and as you children we need you to help us to show others your great love, mercy and grace. Help others to see you through the way that we live our lives. May we be lights for a dark world, help us to show your way to people around us, help them to see you in us.

Lord we pray for all the situations around the world where your love and hope are needed. May the people that respond to disasters everywhere fell you with them at all times. May your love go with them, and show them the way to help. may your love show through their actions, and be a blessing to all those that are ministered to.

Amen