Come with me to the most populated prison in the world. The facility has more inmates than bunks. More prisoners than plates. More residents than resources.

Come with me to the world's most oppressive prison. Just ask the inmates; they will tell you. They are overworked and underfed. Their walls are bare and bunks are hard.

No prison is so populated, no prison so oppressive, and, what's more, no prison is so permanent. Most inmates never leave. They never escape. They never get released. They serve a life sentence in this overcrowded, underprovisioned facility.

The name of the prison? You’ll see it over the entrance. Rainbowed over the gate are four cast-iron letters that spell out its name:

W-A-N-T

The prison of want. You've seen her prisoners. They are "in want." They want something. They want something bigger. Nicer. Faster. Thinner. They want.

They don't want much, mind you. They want just one thing. One new job. One new car. One new house. One new spouse. They don't want much. They want just one.

And when they have "one," they will be happy. And they are right -- they will be happy. When they have "one," they will leave the prison. But then it happens. The new-car smell passes. The new job gets old. The neighbors buy a larger television set. The new spouse has bad habits. The sizzle fizzles, and before you know it, another ex-con breaks parole and returns to jail.

Are you in prison? You are if you feel better when you have more and worse when you have less. You are if joy is one delivery away, one transfer away, one award away, or one makeover away. If your happiness comes from something you deposit, drive, drink, or digest, then face it -- you are in prison, the prison of want.

Paul says that "godliness with contentment is great gain" (1 Tim. 6:6 NIV). When we surrender to God the cumbersome sack of discontent, we don't just give up something; we gain something. God replaces it with a lightweight, tailor-made, sorrow-resistant attaché́ of gratitude.

What will you gain with contentment? You may gain your marriage. You may gain precious hours with your children. You may gain your self-respect. You may gain joy. You may gain the faith to say, "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want."

Try saying it slowly. "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want"

Again, "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want."

Again, "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want."

Shhhhhhh. Did you hear something? I think I did. I'm not sure ... but I think I heard the opening of a jail door.

Copyright 2013 Max Lucado  from Next Door Savior. . Used with permission. All rights reserved.

"To Serve or Be Served"

Written by Margaret D. Mitchell

" . . . the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."  -Matthew 20:28

There is a room in my home that I call my memory room. It is decorated with items that remind me of good things from my past: Black and white family photos from the early twentieth century, the 1950s and the 1970s; a restored antique dresser that belonged to my grandparents; my grandmother’s hairbrush; her antique clock; a silver tea set and a large, floral wreath with nearly every flower type from my great aunt’s flower garden. This room is rustic and beautiful, full of bucolic Appalachian heritage. And God uses it often to speak to my heart.

This room reminds me of generations of my family’s strong work ethic, solid Christian values and beauty. I often go there to pray. And among all the beautiful momentos, there are two that the Lord uses to speak to my heart the most: The silver tea set and the clock.

This silver tea set is rustic and plain, from the 1940s. It speaks of function, not fancy. It’s a working tea set, something one might find in a rural farmhouse, not one to be put on a shelf and admired. It is stout with smooth, curved surfaces. It is steady, stable and strong, a full set, ready to be used again and again, with just enough patina to hint of its former work-a-day service.

This clock is a mantle clock, replete with a tiara that crowns its aging face. The casing is squared-off, brown wood, probably oak for strength. It turns with a key. And, like a sentry in charge, it stands on the corner of my grandparents’ oak dresser. It is a grand—but not particularly fancy—old clock. It is Appalachian too.

These two items remind me that I am called to service, to sacrifice and that the time is near. Not 'near' in that the second coming of Christ will occur in 2013. I do not believe that at all. But near in the context of acceleration. There is still much to be done.

I have come to realize, especially over the past year, that my time is not my own. When family and friends sometimes invite me to Bible studies and events, I must discern what is of God for me in this season. And I must do what and be where He assigns me. Anything less is disobedience for my surrendered life.

I often pray, “God, please remove everything and everyone from my life that is not from You for me in this season.” Because I have grown accustomed to being forward moving and forward thinking over the decades, I have peace with whatever and whoever falls away.

I don’t have time for distractions or ungodly burdens. As my dear friend, a former USAF soldier and the Founder of Warrior Moms, puts it, “I can’t leave my post.” It’s about Godly priorities. What I have learned is that anyone who tries to get me to leave my post usually has unselfish motives at heart. And I have decided to not be deceived.

God’s timing is very specific and so are His mandates to feed His lambs. I choose to be on point, on task. People die every day. And when I hear about their passing, those whom I never knew, I wondered if they ever knew our Jesus. I wonder where they are now that they have left Earth.

The world is full of need. I choose to be one of the workers. Matthew 9:37-38 tell us, " . . . The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields." I choose to be chosen. Matthew 22:14 tells us, "For many are invited, but few are chosen." Clarke's Commentary on the Bible interprets this scripture accordingly: "Many are called by the preaching of the Gospel into the outward communion of the Church of Christ; but few, comparatively, are chosen to dwell with God in glory, because they do not come to the master of the feast for a marriage garment—for that holiness without which none can see the Lord."

Do you view yourself as the bride of Christ, faithful to Him in all His ways and commands? I hope and pray that you do and that you dwell in a place of peace and love, in His glorious presence, that you know His face and see His hand on your behalf. He is a God of infinite love who desires to pour out more that we can contain to us and to those whose lives we touch.

 

Used with permission. from Margaret D. Mitchell is the Founder of God's Love at Work

Would You Like to Get Well?

 And there was a certain man in that place, having been in his infirmity for thirty-eight years. Then, when Jesus had seen him reclining, and when he realized that he had been afflicted for a long time, he said to him, "Do you want to be healed?"
The invalid answered him: "Lord, I do not have any man to put me in the pool, when the water has been stirred. For as I am going, another descends ahead of me."   John 5:5-7 CPDV

Key Thought:

"Would you like to get well?" Sometimes our biggest disease isn't what appears in our body. Instead, this disease hides in our hearts. "Do I want to get well?" That's a much harder question to answer than meets the eye. I might have to change. I might have to give up my excuses. I might have to adapt to a different lifestyle. I might have to give up blaming others for my problems. I might have to take some responsibility for my own condition. Jesus asked the question because, in this case, it was the real disease. As the man shows by the end of the story, he wasn't ready to take responsibility for anything. What about us? Do we really want to get well, both spiritually and physically? Really? Then come to Christ and be ready for the Holy Spirit to begin changing you!

Today's Prayer:

Father, I do want to be made well. I want to be saved through and through -- body, soul, mind, and spirit. I offer myself up to you to be changed so that I can be whole. I offer myself to be transformed to be more like Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.

 
Used with Premission  - What Jesus Did!  are written by Phil Ware.

Daily Meditation by(c) 2013 Don Schwager