Daily Devotional for Saturday October 20, 2007
Back in August of 1999 as Liveprayer was preparing to launch, one of the people who had helped put the initial website together told me that I needed to have some sort of content on the website that changed every day to keep traffic flowing to the website, something like a daily message. I had no interest in doing a daily Bible verse, but wanted something more substantial to minister to people's lives. Through much prayer, God reminded me of a file cabinet that had over 500 sermons I had preached over the years. I began to pray about writing a daily message, almost a daily mini-sermon, that would be unique to the various daily devotionals that were available to people.
When most people think of a Daily Devotional, they think of something like Oswald Chambers, "My Utmost For His Highest," or the "Daily Bread," or a paragraph or two many put out to stimulate people to focus on the Lord each day. While I wanted to accomplish that, I also wanted to have a tool to bring Biblical Truth into people's lives and into cyberspace. I wanted to have a tool that would be like a personal email each day to the person who read it, despite the fact it may go to millions of people. I wanted to have a tool to share Christ's love and hope with people and give those who did not have a personal relationship with Jesus that opportunity. That tool would be a Daily Devotional which would deal with the issues in the world and in people's lives, especially those issues most pastors and ministries simply didn't have the guts to talk about, in the context of God's Word.
That is how the Liveprayer Daily Devotional was birthed. Immediately after Liveprayer started on August 31, 1999, I began to get emails from people telling me how much they enjoyed the Daily Devotional, but that they couldn't come to the website every day and would I please email it to them. So as a courtesy I simply cut and pasted the Daily Devotional and emailed to those few who had requested it. Those few began to share it with their friends, family, coworkers, church groups, and every day we were getting 20, 30, 100 new people asking to get the Daily Devotional. Very quickly it became a number too large to cut and paste and email to, so had to start using mailing software and list management programs. Literally by word of mouth, the Daily Devotional over 98 months went from being sent to a few people to the nearly 2.5 million subscribers who now get it every day in their email.
As I was emailing the Daily Devotional to those who requested it, every day I was getting 2, 3, 5, 10 emails from those people asking me to pray for their finances, health issues, their marriage, their children, employment, lost pets, traveling mercies, just an endless array of needs. Rather than just ignoring those emails, I sat down and literally responded to each one, letting them know I would pray for their needs and give them a word of encouragement. As the number of people getting the Daily Devotional grew, so did the number of prayer requests until I was spending 12-14 hours every day just answering emails for prayer. (To stay in touch with the real lives of the people I minister to each day, I still answer 200 or so prayer requests every day at random.)
At that point I had a choice to do what everyone else did, and that was set up an "auto-respond," that would go to each person who sent in an email for prayer. I had no peace over that whatsoever. These were people coming to me with their most intimate needs in their darkest hour. God had put me there to minister to them, not send them some sort of electronic blow off that basically told the person I didn't care, or worse yet, send them nothing, leaving them to feel even more alone and defeated by their problems.
God gave me the inspiration to begin contacting groups of retired pastors, asking them to commit a couple hours a day to help me answer the incoming emails for prayers. It was a great way for these seasoned men of God to still be used by God to minister. I created a master template for all the major needs, the pastor would then personalize each response plus tag the template with whatever the Lord was leading them to say to minister to the person. Each one would get a bundle of apx. 50 a day, which they are able to get thru in a few hours, while using those many years of ministry experience and walking with the Lord to minister to the ones who contacted us for prayer. Today, we have just over 720 retired pastors all over the country who help me make sure every incoming email for prayer is answered.
The sheer numbers of what we have done over 98 months is staggering as I look back on them. The new Daily Devotional archive will be updated every month and currently has the Devotionals from August 31, 1999 through October 19, 2007. That is nearly 3000 Devotionals! I am sad to say that we didn't do a perfect job of keeping the Devotionals in the first year or so and there are 14 from those early days that are missing. We have sent out over 4.6 BILLION Daily Devotionals since we started! We have received and sent personal responses to over 60 million prayer requests. We currently have around 3 million Praise Reports archived from people who took the time to send us an email about how God met their needs. The most important number to me, however, is that over 200,000 people we know of have come to faith in Jesus Christ since we started! TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!!
For the past 4 years, I have been wanting to put together a book of the Daily Devotionals. In the last year, I got very serious about making that book a reality. I was overwhelmed with the sheer volume of Daily Devotionals to work from and enlisted the help of a dear friend of mine, a prolific writer who has authored a dozen books with more in the works. Books that deal with the practical issues of life using God's Word to guide people through their issues. Jack Hartman and his wife Judy have been long time dear friends, and Jack agreed to the monumental task of taking all of the Devotionals and putting them into categories. He was inspired that the book should be by category instead of the typical 365 day Daily Devotional book you normally find. It would be much more than a Daily Devotional book, more of a spiritual catalog of all the issues I deal with every day.
Jack spent nearly 3 months of his life helping me, devoting thousands of hours to this project. I want to encourage you to visit Jack's website, www.lamplight.net . There you will find all the books Jack and his wife Judy have written and their various resources like tapes and Scripture Cards. Jack is a student of God's Word and a man who in addition to his writing, has spent the last quarter century as a speaker, teacher, and mentor using the power and Truth of God's Word. Jack is one of the few men God has put in my life to counsel me and guide me through my challenging times. He has been a tremendous blessing to me personally, to the Liveprayer ministry, and a true treasure from God to this generation.
We ended up choosing about 800 Devotionals for the book. The plan was to give the book away for free, since I have always been adamant that "freely I have received, and freely I will give.." The plan was to initially print 1 million copies and have them distributed at major secular bookstores across the nation. The bookstores were on board with the marketing strategy since it meant free advertising and traffic for them at no cost. However, I never had total peace and due to the financial needs of getting the nationwide TV program off the ground, decided to put off the book until next year. I am still committed to the book to reach those who are not part of the computer world.
However, God spoke to me clearly about putting the entire archive of Daily Devotionals on-line in a searchable data base. So for 40 days, my personal assistant Susan, a dear friend of the ministry, and my head tech Mike, have worked around the clock to put together this incredible and unique resource that is unlike anything that exists today. In the Daily Devotional archive is every Devotional since day one (minus the 14 that are missing) by date. Each Devotional has a title and has also been categorized. The search feature allows you to search for a Devotional by date, by category, in addition to being able to search by keywords and find all the Devotionals that have that word in them. AMAZING !!!!
I had many advise me to put this archive on a secure page and make people pay to access that page. Even though tens of thousands of people visit that page every day and it could generate hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, even more, God has led me to make this page accessible to anyone for FREE just like everything else on Liveprayer. Again, "freely I have received, and freely I will give."
I love you and care about you so much. The Daily Devotional archive is my life's work over nearly 8 years now (One day I am praying that we will also have an archive of all of the Liveprayer TV programs, over 1,200 of them). I am honored that God has allowed me the privilege of serving Him in this powerful and unique way, to literally impact millions of lives all over this world for Christ. I pray that millions more will be impacted for Christ, many more souls will find an everlasting relationship with Jesus Christ through using this Daily Devotional archive. Long after God says my work is over and I am in Glory, I will live on thru this data base of Devotionals God has inspired me to write and make available to the world. It will allow me to continue to impact lives for Christ long after I have finished my race and gone home to be with the Lord.
In closing, let me share this with you today. I will be writing the Daily Devotional until the day God calls me home. It is what God has called me to do. What frustrates me every day is knowing that despite the wonderful numbers, as impressive as they are, we could be reaching 10x more people every day, answering 10x more emails for prayer every day, seeing 10x more praise reports every day, and most important, seeing 10x more people coming to faith in Christ every day. The fact is, we are only scratching the surface of the number of lives we can reach via the Daily Devotional.
That is a big reason why I am so passionate about the TV program being on nationwide. A by-product of that TV program is the tens of thousands of new people every week who we sign up on the Daily Devotional and then have the opportunity to minister to each and every day, the opportunity to be there to pray with in their darkest hour, and the opportunity to lead to faith in Jesus Christ! Yes, it would be very easy to look back and say what we have done is good, let's relax now. THAT IS NOT ME! I look back and say what we have done is good, let's do more!!!
That is why I ask you to pray for me, and ask you to help me. There are literally billions of lost souls who need Jesus. God has given us this great resource to reach them. *Please share this wonderful resource with every person you know. May we continue to press forward and take full advantage of the opportunity God has given us to bring His Truth and the hope and love of Christ to the lost and hurting masses throughout the world. We will each leave this life soon. Tomorrow is promised to none of us. THE ONLY THING THAT WILL MATTER WHEN WE DIE IS DO WE KNOW JESUS. FOR THOSE WHO DO KNOW JESUS, THE ONLY THING THAT WILL MATTER WHEN WE STAND BEFORE GOD IS WHAT DID WE DO FOR HIM DURING OUR LIFE!
May God richly bless this Daily Devotional archive, and may the Lord use it until the last day of earth to bring people to the saving knowledge of His Son Jesus Christ!!!