Monday, July 17, 2017

Freely Give - Luke 21:3-4

Luke 21:3-4 “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (NIV)

            We don’t know her name, but she made an everlasting impression on Jesus and has become a symbol of human dignity and generosity across the centuries. The poor widow that Christ saw putting her two small coins into the Temple treasury gave cheerfully and faithfully, knowing within herself that she was grateful to God for His benevolence and support. It was a sacrificial gift because she gave everything she had. She didn’t expect any reward or recognition for what she did. She gave from her heart because she knew that God loved her, which is the best way to give anything that we have to Him.

            Sometimes folks like to designate their giving to God so that their hard-earned resources can help support a ministry or mission which reflects their beliefs. There’s nothing wrong with that and many good programs and projects are financed this way. However, people can miss out on the delightful blessing that comes with just freely giving to God an offering without any ties or restrictions. When we joyfully do this, we trust that God’s Spirit will guide congregations to use the freewill offering wisely and effectively, faithfully and benevolently. This is why the poor widow gave what she could in order to support God’s work and do it thankfully, for she knew it would also help others like herself who received aid from the Temple.

            As we reflect on Christ’s words and this beautiful event, may we also ponder on what and why we give to our churches. Perhaps God will encourage us to give with cheerful and generous hearts, too.

Point to ponder

What do I give to God from my resources? How does my offering help His work?

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, You see and know all things. You encourage us to give our time, talents, and treasures to aid and support Your continuing ministry throughout the world. Help us to discover the joy of giving freely, joyfully, and thankfully. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. You can read the church website at You can also send John an email at

Today’s image is one of John’s banner designs called “Blue Trinity.” If you would like to view a larger version, please click this link: Trinity.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Christian Poem - Giving Back

Luke 20:25     
Jesus said to them, “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

Lord Jesus,
I want to give back to You
What I have taken and given
To other things.
I want to give back Sundays to You
For they were always meant
To be little Easters,
When Christians would gather together
To sing God’s praises
For forgiving our sins
And raising You from the dead.

Give me the courage
And the fortitude
To make Sundays
Full of grace again
By placing You,
Your Church,
And Your people
At the heart
Of these holy days.

Help me to seek You,
And fill me
With Your Spirit.
Teach me
To walk in Your way
Each and every Sunday,
No matter where I am,
No matter what I’m doing,
No matter how I’m feeling,
Help me to give
Sundays back to You.


John Stuart 2017

Thursday, July 13, 2017

How to Pray

How to Pray

            Over the years, church folks have asked me about how to pray. They are usually concerned with doing it the right way in order to respect God and receive His blessings. They hope that they are praying correctly and sometimes worry if their prayers are actually being heard. I often tell them not to be concerned because God knows what is in their hearts when they actually pray. God’s grace assures us that He does listen to His Son’s followers and welcomes their prayers.

However, for those who need some prayer coaching, the following points are a few basic ideas that anyone can practice in order to deepen their prayer life with God. I’ve used an acrostic of the word ‘PRAY’ to help explain the process.

P = Purpose.              

Before we begin to pray, we should think about why we are doing this. What is the purpose behind our prayer? Is it thankfulness for God’s blessing? Are we seeking guidance about an issue? Do we have a confession to make? Or are we worried about a specific person or circumstance? If we understand why we need to say a prayer, we will be able to vocalize it better and describe it more fully to God. It’s not that God needs this clarification; it’s more for ourselves. Over the years, I have found that when I focus on what I’m about to pray, then I become more aware of what it is that is troubling or concerning me.

R = Recognition.        

Recognize God’s authority over us. When we pray, we do so as creatures of the Most Powerful Being in existence. God’s Sovereignty is the most sacred power in the universe. A casual, carefree conversation may be good enough for our friends and acquaintances, but every time we pray, we are approaching the throne of God so we should make our prayers respectfully. To do this, we need to begin our prayers by referring to God as our Lord, Creator, Father, or Majesty.

A = Ask.                      

God loves us as His special creatures because we are made in His image. Through Christ’s sacrifice, we can approach God confidently in prayer. We should never be afraid to ask for God’s help, guidance, favor, or deliverance. God hears our prayers just like devoted parents lovingly listen to the questions their children ask. God knows what we need, but He likes to hear us ask because it honors His authority over our lives, as well as deepening our love for Him.

Y = Yearn.                   Yearn for the Spirit’s blessing and look for God’s answer to our prayers. The Holy Spirit will assure us that our prayers have been heard, so we should seek confirmation of what God has decided about our prayers. If we need forgiveness, we will experience relief. If we are looking for help, we will be given a solution. If we are seeking comfort, the Spirit will embrace us. And if we are thankfully blessing God, we will feel His delight in our hearts.

I hope that this simple process will help you with your prayers. May the Lord God bless all of your goals and dreams by allowing each of your plans to succeed.

Pastor John