Charles Stanley – Answered Prayer

Charles Stanley

Matthew 7:7-11

In His Word, our Father commands us to pray continually (1 Thess. 5:17). And He promises that when we ask, we will receive (Luke 11:9). Yet how often has silence seemed to be the answer to our prayer requests?

The Lord wouldn’t tell us to pray if He were not going to respond. In fact, He points out that any father who loves his children gives them what they need and what is good (vv. 11-13). And He, as our heavenly Father, will provide so much more. But if we want God to respond, we must meet three important conditions.

First, we must have a right relationship with Jesus Christ by trusting Him as Savior. But some people choose to live in ungodliness even after salvation. Scripture states, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Ps. 66:18 kjv). This doesn’t mean we can never make a mistake—God understands our frailty. But we must repent of all known sin and avoid continuing in it.

Second, we must make right requests. Scripture reminds us to ask according to God’s will (1 John 5:14). That means we can share our hopes and desires while submitting to whatever He deems best. Over time, certain yearnings may lose appeal or give us a check in our spirit.

Third, we should pray specifically and with confidence. When making requests aligned with God’s will, we can be sure He’ll answer.

Our heavenly Father tells His children to pray and assures that He will respond. As you present your requests, ask Him to show you if anything is getting in the way of His answer.

 

 

Our Daily Bread — Heavenly Perspective

Our Daily Bread

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

The things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. —2 Corinthians 4:18

Fanny Crosby lost her sight as an infant. Yet, amazingly, she went on to become one of the most well-known lyricists of Christian hymns. During her long life, she wrote over 9,000 hymns. Among them are such enduring favorites as “Blessed Assurance” and “To God Be the Glory.”

Some people felt sorry for Fanny. A well-intentioned preacher told her, “I think it is a great pity that the Master did not give you sight when He showered so many other gifts upon you.” It sounds hard to believe, but she replied: “Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I was born blind? . . . Because when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior.”

Fanny saw life with an eternal perspective. Our problems look different in light of eternity: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:17-18).

All our trials dim when we remember that one glorious day we will see Jesus! —Dennis Fisher

Dear God, please help us to see this life

from a heavenly perspective. Remind us that

our trials, however difficult, will one day fade

from view when we see You face to face.

The way we view eternity will affect the way we live in time.

Bible in a year: Genesis 41-42; Matthew 12:1-23

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Throwing Stones

Ravi Z

Each of us, in an instant, can drudge up a snapshot of humanity at its worst. Images of genocide in Germany, Rwanda, Bosnia, or the Sudan come readily to mind. Other impressions are not far off: students planning deadly attacks at school, looters taking advantage of natural disasters, the greed that paved the Trail of Tears. They are visions that challenge the widespread hope that people are generally good, leaving in its wake the sinking feeling of human depravity. But ironically, such snapshots of humanity also seem to grant permission to distance ourselves from this depravity. Whether with theory or judgment, we place ourselves in different categories. Perhaps even unconsciously, we consider their inferior virtue, their primitive sense of morality, or their distinctively depraved character. And it is rare that we see the stones in our hands as a problem.

As Jesus stood with a girl at his feet in the middle of a group armed with rocks and morality, he crouched down in the sand and with his finger wrote something that caused a fuming crowd to drop their stones and a devastated girl to get up. No one knows what he wrote on the ground that day with the Pharisees and the woman caught in adultery, yet we often emerge from the story not with curiosity but with satisfaction. This public conviction of the Pharisees strikes with the force of victory. Their air of superiority is palpable, and it is satisfying to picture them owning up to their own shortfall. If we imagine ourselves in the scene at all, it is most likely in a crumpled heap of shame with the woman at Jesus’s feet; it is rarely, if ever, with the Pharisees.

There are those who mock the idea of human depravity, insisting that it demeans the human spirit or wastes our potential for good with unnecessary guilt. But I suspect most of us recognize in ourselves the potential for something other than good, for greed or for cruelty, for vice just as easily as virtue. Even those who disapprove of the word “sin” have seen its expressions in their lives and in others. Looking below the surface of our good days or friendly moments, it is hard not to admit that who we really are at the heart of things—on bad days or even average days, when life runs amok or temptations overwhelm us—is complicated to say the very least. Thus, for most of us, it is not a giant mental leap to see ourselves in the adulterous woman.

It is far more difficult, however, to consider how well we play the role of the Pharisee. We have perhaps so villainized the lives of these religious leaders that we consider their self-righteousness as unreachable as the sins of infamous war criminals. Hence, sometimes standing with stones, other times simply putting one’s self in lesser categories of depravity, we can look at the crumpled, errant world around us with an air of disgust. In fact, often no matter one’s profession of belief or practice of faith, we can rally together in circles of righteousness, surrounding those whose lack of whatever virtue we value is far more obvious. We can name their sins publically and consider their humiliation well deserved, perhaps even beneficial for them. And all the while we fail to see our pharisaical similarities, Jesus crouches beside us writing something in the sand that fails to catch our attention.

Whatever profession of faith or absence of faith we proclaim, in the worst images of humanity, we cannot afford to leave ourselves out. In his words to the Pharisees that day, Jesus was calling those who were morally awake to greater awareness. Beside him, even in the best among us is a picture of how far the distortion extends within, and how great is the hopeful reach of God’s restoration. Considering any sort of human depravity without seeing ourselves somewhere troublingly in the picture is failing to see the true depths. Viewing the flaws and sins of the world with a position of superiority—whether we profess Christianity, general spirituality, or atheism—is like picking up the stones God has saved you from and lobbing them at someone else. Jesus very indiscriminately calls us to examine both the stones in our hands and the rockiness of our hearts, and to drop our guard at his feet.

After each of the Pharisees had released the rocks they held and walked away one by one, Jesus straightened up and asked the girl beside him, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” And the stones, they left behind.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

Alistair Begg – Beware of Temptations

Alistair Begg

It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house . . .

2 Samuel 11:2

At that hour David saw Bathsheba. We are never out of the reach of temptation. Both at home and away we are liable to meet with allurements to evil. The morning opens with peril, and the shades of evening find us still in jeopardy. They are well kept whom God keeps, but woe to those who go out into the world, or even dare to walk their own house unarmed. Those who think themselves secure are more exposed to danger than any others. The armor-bearer of Sin is Self-confidence.

David should have been engaged in fighting the Lord’s battles, instead of which he rested in Jerusalem, giving himself up to luxurious repose, for he arose from his bed at eventide. Idleness and luxury are the devil’s jackals and find him abundant prey. In stagnant waters noxious creatures swarm, and neglected soil soon yields a dense tangle of weeds and briars.

Oh, for the constraining love of Jesus to keep us active and useful! When I see the King of Israel sluggishly leaving his couch at the close of the day and falling at once into temptation, let me take warning and set holy watchfulness to guard the door.

Is it possible that the king had mounted his housetop for retirement and devotion? If so, what a caution is given us to count no place, however secret, a sanctuary from sin! While our hearts are so like a tinderbox, and sparks so plentiful, we need to use all diligence in all places to prevent a blaze. Satan can climb housetops and enter closets, and even if we could shut out that foul fiend, our own corruptions are enough to work our ruin unless grace prevents it. Reader, beware of evening temptations. Be not secure. The sun is down, but sin is up. We need a watchman for the night as well as a guardian for the day. O blessed Spirit, keep us from all evil this night. Amen.

 

 

Charles Spurgeon – Search the Scriptures

CharlesSpurgeon

“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20

Suggested Further Reading: Acts 17:10-15

I teach that all men by nature are lost by Adam’s fall. See whether that is true or not. I hold that men have so gone astray that no man either will or can come to Christ except the Father draw him. If I am wrong, find me out. I believe that God, before all worlds, chose to himself a people, whom no man can number, for whom the Saviour died, to whom the Holy Spirit is given, and who will infallibly be saved. You may dislike that doctrine; I do not care: see if it is not in the Bible. See if it does not there declare that we are “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,” and so on. I believe that every child of God must assuredly be brought by converting grace from the ruins of the fall, and must assuredly be “kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation,” beyond the hazard of ever totally falling away. If I am wrong there, get your Bibles out, and refute me in your own houses. I hold it to be a fact that every man who is converted will lead a holy life, and yet at the same time will put no dependence on his holy life, but trust only in the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. And I hold, that every man that believes, is in duty bound to be immersed. I hold the baptism of infants to be a lie and a heresy; but I claim for that great ordinance of God, Believer’s Baptism, that it should have the examination of Scripture. I hold, that to none but believers may immersion be given, and that all believers are in duty bound to be immersed. If I am wrong, well and good; do not believe me; but if I am right, obey the Word with reverence. I will have no error, even upon a point which some men think to be unimportant; for a grain of truth is a diamond, and a grain of error may be of serious consequence to us, to our injury and hurt. I hold, then, that none but believers have any right to the Lord’s Supper; that it is wrong to offer the Lord’s Supper indiscriminately to all, and that none but Christians have a right either to the doctrines, the benefits, or the ordinances of God’s house. If these things are not so, condemn me as you please; but if the Bible is with me, your condemnation is of no avail.

For meditation: This is how to use these daily readings—according to the Bible, Spurgeon must have made some mistakes (James 3:1,2).

Sermon no. 172

17 January (1858)

 

John MacArthur – Praising God for Your Election

John MacArthur

“Having been predestined according to [God’s] purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11).

In Ephesians 1:4 Paul says that God “chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.” In verse 11 he reiterates that marvelous truth by affirming that believers have been predestined to salvation according to God’s own purpose and will.

Many reject the teaching that God chose (predestined) believers to salvation. They think believers chose God. In one sense they’re right: salvation involves an act of the will in turning from sin to embrace Christ. But the issue in predestination goes deeper than that. It’s a question of initiative. Did God choose you on the basis of your faith in Him or did He, by choosing you, enable you to respond in faith.

The answer is clear in Scripture. Romans 3:11 says that no one seeks for God on his own. Unregenerate people have no capacity to understand spiritual truth. It’s all foolishness to them (1 Cor. 2:14). They are spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1), blind (2 Cor. 4:4), and ignorant (Eph. 4:18).

How can people in that condition initiate saving faith? They can’t! That’s why Jesus said, “No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him. . . . All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:44, 37). Paul added, “God . . . has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity” (2 Tim. 1:9).

God took the initiative. He chose you and gave you saving faith (Eph. 2:8-9). Rejoice in that truth. Rest in His power to conform all things to His will. Draw strength and assurance from His promise never to let you go (John 10:27-29). Then live each day as God’s elected one by shunning sin and following after holiness.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Praise God for placing His love upon you and granting you salvation.

Pray for the salvation of others and seek opportunities to share Christ with them today.

For Further Study:

Read Ezekiel 36:22-32

Why will God one day redeem Israel?

What does that passage teach you about God’s initiative in salvation?

 

Joyce Meyer – Confronting Fear

Joyce meyer

Do not be afraid of sudden terror, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; for the Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught. —Proverbs 3:25–26 NKJV

I once heard a story of a village where the children were told, “Whatever you do, don’t go near the top of the mountain. It’s where the monster lives.” One day, some brave young men decided they wanted to see the monster and defeat it. Halfway up the mountain, they encountered a huge roar and a terrible stench. Half the men ran down the mountain, screaming. The other half of the group got farther up the mountain and noticed the monster was smaller than they had expected—but it continued to roar and emit such a stench that all but one man ran away.

As he took another step forward, the monster shrank to the size of a man. Another step, and it shrank again. It was still hideously ugly and stank, but the man could actually pick it up and hold it in the palm of his hand. He said to the monster, “Who are you?” In a tiny, high-pitched voice, the monster squeaked, “My name is Fear.”

If you follow God’s plan for conquering fear, you will find one day that the things that frightened you the most were really nothing at all.

Lord, help me to begin to confront the fears I’ve been running away from. I want to silence the roars that keep me from moving ahead with my life. Amen.

 

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – How to Skip Judgment

dr_bright

“Now I say that each believer should confess his sins to God when he is aware of them, while there is time to be forgiven. Judgment will not touch him if he does” (Psalm 32:6).

Mary had rebelled against the preaching of her Nazarene father, a godly pastor. She lived with her boy friend in open defiance of her biblical teaching. Now, God was disciplining her because of disobedience. She was miserable, filled with hate and resentment, when a mutual friend brought her to my office for counsel.

I shared with Mary that just as a loving father disciplines a disobedient child, so God in His love for us disciplines us when we are disobedient. Actually, “child training” would be a more accurate way of describing what God does for us when we are disobedient.

Like Mary, many Christians unnecessarily go through all kinds of adversity: financial, emotional, marital and family problems, and even physical illness. More often than not, God is trying to get their attention. But because they refuse to listen and obey Him, they are disciplined and their misery continues.

Beware, of course, that you do not assume that every time friends or loved ones have difficult experiences, they are being disciplined by God because of disobedience. It may well be that God is working in their lives as He did in Job’s not because of disobedience but to help them mature and become more fruitful and effective witnesses or models of His grace to others.

When you personally, like Mary, are going through adversity, however, and problems continue to plague your life, you would do well to look into the mirror of God’s Word. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you if there is any unconfessed sin in your life. If there is, be quick to turn to the Lord, confess your sins and receive His forgiveness and cleansing in order to avoid further chastening.

Bible Reading: Psalm 32:1-5

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will write down on paper, for my own personal information only, any known weakness, sin or sins that are plaguing me today. I will confess that sin, or those sins, and receive by faith God’s forgiveness and cleansing. (If you are continuing to breathe spiritually, you will not allow sins to accumulate, for the moment you become aware of sin you confess it to the Lord and keep on walking in the light as He is in the light.)

 

Presidential Prayer Team; J.K. – Precious Word

ppt_seal01

What can wealth do for you that the Bible can do better? Wealth can indeed open doors for you to meet people; it may give you happiness in a fine home, clothes, or a good education. But it can never give you the benefits of God’s Word, which allows companionship with Him – as His child, a path to a crown of glory that will never fade away, and true wisdom to live a godly life.

The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

Psalm 119:72

Secondly, what can Scripture do that money cannot? Money can lead you astray, but it will never bring you back to the right path. It may buy your way out of a sticky situation, but it will never wipe away a tear or give you comfort. Only Scripture can give you peace and contentment.

Lastly, what will abundant riches do that the Word of God will not? Wealth can cause anxiety, new demands, heart strain or mental exhaustion. But the Word of God comforts and soothes, invigorates and upholds.

Ask the Lord to show the people of this nation and its leaders that the content of the Word is precious. Then pray that your love for Scripture will in some measure be proportionate to its excellence.

Recommended Reading: Psalm 119:65-74

 

Greg Laurie – Spiritual Slumber

greglaurie

Then it happened, as they were parting from Him, that Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” — not knowing what he said. —Luke 9:33

Why did Peter say what he said during such a significant event as the Transfiguration? The Gospels give us two reasons: One, he didn’t know what to say, and two, he was “heavy with sleep” (see Luke 9:32). This was a bad time to fall asleep. Imagine what else Peter might have seen had he been fully awake and watchful.

This, of course, would not be the last time that Peter, along with James and John, would fall asleep on the watch. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus told them, “Watch and pray. . . .” Then He went a few feet away and began to pray. When He came back, they were all sleeping. They were missing out on a significant event in the life of the Lord.

I wonder how much we miss out on because of our spiritual slumber. How many times are we spiritually slumbering when God wants to speak to us through His Word? Because we are too preoccupied with other things, we don’t have the discipline to pick up the Bible and open it. How many times are we spiritually slumbering instead of going to church and being fed from the Word of God? How many times are we spiritually slumbering when the Lord would want us to speak up for Him?

Like the disciples, we, too, can miss out on what God wants to do in and through us. We need to be awake, alert, and paying attention.

 

 

Max Lucado – True Courage

Max Lucado

Are you timid?  Cautious?  Could you use some courage?  Scripture says, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).  “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). If you’re in Christ, these promises are not only a source of joy, they are the foundations of true courage!

When God looks at you, he doesn’t see you; He sees the One who surrounds you. Failure’s not a concern for you; your victory is secure. How could you not be courageous?  In Hebrews 10:22, the writer says, “Since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus—let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.”

The point is clear. The Father of Truth will win, and the followers of Truth will be saved. The prize is yours. Applaud the victory!

From The Applause of Heaven