Charles Stanley – The Problem of Unmet Needs

Charles Stanley

Psalm 84:11-12

If God has promised to provide and is able, we might wonder why He doesn’t always meet our needs when we ask. But since He is faithful to His Word, we can know that the problem is never with Him.

Notice that in today’s passage, God’s promise to provide has a condition—it is given to “those who walk uprightly” (v. 11). So if God isn’t meeting our needs as we think He should, either He may have a different plan, or something in our life may be a hindrance.

  • Sin. One reason our prayers may not be answered is because there’s sin in our life and we are not living righteously. If God ignored disobedience and granted our requests, He would be affirming an unrighteous lifestyle.
  • Laziness. Although the Lord is the ultimate source of all we have, He has given us the responsibility of working in order to provide for our basic necessities (2 Thess. 3:10-11). If you’re a capable, able-bodied person who’s unwilling to work and wants something for nothing, God won’t reinforce your laziness.
  • Desires. It’s possible that the Lord hasn’t provided as you expected because your “needs” are really desires. If He sees that what you want won’t fulfill His plans for your life, He may be saying “no” because He has a “yes” that’s even better.

To avoid disappointment with God, understand that His actions and character always align. He won’t reward rebellion or laziness, and His answers to prayer fit with His goal of conforming us to Christ’s image. So if He hasn’t provided what you deem essential, He’s working to bestow a better blessing.

Our Daily Bread — The Honor Of Following

Our Daily Bread

Matthew 4:18-22

Then [Jesus] said to them, “Follow Me.” —Matthew 4:19

While visiting Jerusalem, a friend of mine saw an old rabbi walking past the Wailing Wall. The interesting thing about the aged rabbi was the five young men walking behind him. They too were walking bent over, limping—just like their rabbi. An Orthodox Jew watching them would know exactly why they were imitating their teacher. They were “followers.”

Throughout the history of Judaism, one of the most honored positions for a Jewish man was the privilege of becoming a “follower” of the local rabbi. Followers sat at the rabbi’s feet as he taught. They would study his words and watch how he acted and reacted to life and others. A follower would count it the highest honor to serve his rabbi in even the most menial tasks. And, because they admired their rabbi, they were determined to become like him.

When Jesus called His disciples to follow Him (Matt. 4:19), it was an invitation to be changed by Him, to become like Him, and to share His passion for those who need a Savior. The high honor of being His follower should show in our lives as well. We too have been called to catch the attention of the watching world as we talk, think, and act just like Jesus—the rabbi, the teacher, of our souls. —Joe Stowell

Thank You, Lord, for the high honor of being

called to follow You. May my life so imitate

You that others will know that You are the

pursuit of my life and the rabbi of my soul.

Follow Jesus and let the world know He is your rabbi.

Bible in a year: Jeremiah 48-49; Hebrews 7

Insight

In the region surrounding the Sea of Galilee in the first century, fishing was one of the primary industries. This fishing normally took place at night, with the laborious task of casting weighted fishing nets and then hauling them back in. Fishing was not an easy occupation, but it did provide a decent living and, as seen in today’s text, was often operated as a family business. Here, two brothers, Peter and Andrew, worked together (v.18), as did James, John, and their father (v.21). In this case, however, these two families also had a partnership in their fishing business, as recorded in Luke 5:10. Jesus used this partnership to His advantage in calling these four men as disciples.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry –   Too Many Gods

Ravi Z

“I am a former Christian minister who is now an agnostic—not an atheist, not a theist, not a sceptic, and certainly not indifferent.(1) So begins the story of Charles Templeton, one time rousing evangelist, friend and counterpart of Billy Graham, turned renounced believer, professed agnostic. He is quick to clarify the meaning of such a title. “The agnostic does not say, as is commonly believed, ‘I do not know whether or not there is a God.’ He says, ‘I cannot know… He asserts that a combination of historic circumstances has made Christianity the dominant religion of the Western world but that it is not unique, there being a host of other religions and a variety of other deities worshipped or revered by millions of men and women in various parts of the world.”(2)

In his final book, Farewell to God, Templeton describes the unraveling of more than twenty years of ministry and a faith that was steadily besieged by doubt. His objections range from scathing frustrations with biblical stories to pained confusions with the ways of the world and the God who supposedly cares for it. One question in particular remained with me throughout the book: “If God is a loving Father, why does he so seldom answer his needy children’s prayers?” he asks. The question isn’t new to me, and like Templeton, I can rattle off an explanation based on a scriptures I know by heart. But the picture that comes to life within this question is far more personal than any routine answer would satisfy. Many wrestle through this question similar to the way we had to wrestle with the presence and absence of our own parents.

Elsewhere, Templeton critiques the world and what he sees as its “abundance of gods,” though he treats each one with the curious requirement of unquestioning obedience as if it was the only god that mattered. He describes it a point of contention—even a point of absurdity—that in the vast sea of divine beings on this planet, Christianity proposes the idea that there is only one God. Across history, there are more gods than any of us can keep track of, and they seem to come with as many descriptions as the people who created them. On top of this, he argues, a great number of these gods come with qualities that leave much to be desired in the first place; they are jealous, hierarchical, vengeful, and demanding—and very much a product of our predecessors.

Many of these observations are troublingly undeniable. I was listening recently to a collection of interviews on the subject of spirituality. They asked hundreds of people the same question: simply, “Who is God?” But the answers were as diverse as the patches on a quilt, and the finished product was not at all a comforting blanket of great divinity, but little more than a mat of troubled chaos, gapping holes, and contradiction. Coming to the end of that message, I sighed deeply—how can anyone muddle through such a mess? We seem to make gods in our own images as fast as we can get them off the assembly line.

Templeton and the many who echo him are absolutely right to point out as troubling the sheer number and seeming characters of these divinities, who “hate every people but their own…[who] are jealous, vengeful…utter egotists and insist on frequent praise and flattery.”(3) In fact, the prophet Jeremiah made a similar point. He called it a “discipline of delusion” to chase after these gods and their demands, but particularly as if it were all a matter of preference and not a matter pertaining to what is real. “They are altogether stupid and foolish,” he wrote of these individuals. “In their discipline of delusion—their idol is wood” (Jeremiah 10:8). The world of gods is indeed a chaotic place. And yet, isn’t it somewhat hasty to reject every divinity in the room simply because there is more than one? In doing so, it would seem we use our own complaint against Christianity (it is arrogant to say there is only one God) as the reason to reject it (it is ridiculous that there is more than one god).

But the description of angry gods in abundance brings me back to the question raised at the beginning. “If God is a loving Father, why does he so seldom answer his needy children’s prayers?” The reason this question demands more than a pat answer is because it deals with disappointment, neglect, silence, and heartache. The question pulls on the very shirtsleeve of a vital relationship. Perhaps it is subtle, but the question itself seems to point to something inherently different about this God—something that sets this Father significantly apart from the sea of divine and impersonal chaos. The gods Templeton and many others describe do not at all seem like gods we would miss if they were far away. They are not the kind of gods we would be saddened by if they were silent, or dare to be angry with if they disappointed us. Like all children with parents that we do not always understand, sometimes we ask questions that aren’t entirely fair (or even sensible). And sometimes we ask questions that give away the relational presence of the one we wrestle with under the surface.

I believe it is more than helpful to recognize the human capacity to create gods and chase after delusion. But so I think it is vital to recognize that not all gods are created equal, and there is reason to believe there might be one who isn’t created at all.

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

(1) Charles Templeton, Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1996), 18.

(2) Ibid.

(3) Ibid., 22-23.

A note from Ravi Zacharias

Dear Friend,

 

Hello to all our friends and supporters. I have a special prayer request for two programs I have been invited to do with commentator and broadcaster Glenn Beck at his studios in Dallas, Texas, on Monday, November 10. I met with Glenn recently, and he is a delightful person to know and talk with. He is on his own spiritual journey. He would like to interview me on my latest book, Why Suffering?, and also on my spiritual journey.

I am grateful for this unique opportunity, but it will be a tough one. I am a deeply committed evangelical Christian. Glenn is a member of the LDS church. So in that sense we have deep distinctives. I firmly believe in the finished work of Jesus Christ and his exclusive claim to be the way, the truth, and the life. I believe in the Old and the New Testament as the sufficient and final word for faith and conduct. So any addition or detraction from those truths would be in contravention of our Lord’s words.

Therefore, the challenge when I am speaking with another from a different belief (a situation I find myself in often) is to navigate carefully and wisely. At the same time, as a Christian apologist, I must be in arenas where there are counter-perspectives and clearly present what I believe. That is our field of calling, whether talking to skeptics or those of other beliefs. Unfortunately, in this day of mass communication, my words and my presence can be taken out of context or misrepresented. So please pray for me as I handle a worthy opportunity with wisdom to present the truth and the book that touches on the most painful malady facing all of humanity: “Why Suffering?”

One of the most important purposes in such interviews is to talk to people about the slow moral death of our culture. A moral soil is needed for anything worthy to flourish. With that goal in mind I talk with those who share that common concern. Moral soil and truths in our worldview are not the same. But that moral soil is indispensable for truth to stand a chance. It is that soil that I seek to prepare so that the truth of the gospel may be planted.

Thank you for your prayers. Need I say that a lot of conversations in such settings are very private? I will honor that and pray that the truth will triumph and that which was come to terms with in private will come to public fruition. I will never compromise my belief in the final and sufficient work of Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. May every conversation bring others to that same conviction. Only the Holy Spirit of God can bring that change in any heart.

As RZIM celebrates our 30th year as a ministry, we are reminded that our goal must always be the glory of God. Please do pray for wisdom for me and for our team as we navigate these challenging times in our culture. We are grateful for your continued support as we seek to articulate the beauty and credibility of the gospel of Jesus Christ in influential settings across this country and around the world.

With gratitude,

 

 

Ravi Zacharias

Ravi Zacharias will be interviewed by Glenn Beck on Monday, November 10, at The Blaze studios in Dallas, Texas.  You can listen to Ravi on The Glenn Beck Radio Program from 10:00am-11:00am CST.  Check your local listings or listen online at: http://www.glennbeck.com/.  You can watch Ravi on Glenn Beck’s TV show at 5:00 p.m. CST on various cable networks and online at:  http://www.theblaze.com/tv/.

Alistair Begg – Expect Persecution

Alistair Begg

It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher.  Matthew 10:25

No one will dispute this statement, for it would not be proper for the pupil to be exalted above his Teacher. When our Lord was on earth, what was the treatment He received? Were His claims acknowledged, His instructions followed, His perfections worshiped by those whom He came to bless? No. “He was despised and rejected by men.”1 His place was outside the city: Cross-bearing was His occupation. Did the world provide Him with comfort and rest? “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay His head.”2 This inhospitable country provided Him no shelter: It cast Him out and crucified Him.

If you are a follower of Jesus and maintain a consistent, Christlike walk and behavior, you must expect to experience persecution and rejection also. Your Christian testimony will be scrutinized and criticized. People will treat it as they treated the Savior—they will despise it. Do not imagine that pagans will admire you or that the more holy and the more Christlike you are, the more peaceably people will act toward you. If they did not prize the polished gem, do you think that they will esteem the rough cut jewel? If they have referred to Jesus as Satan, how much more will they denigrate the teacher’s disciples? If we were more like Christ, we would be more hated by His enemies.

It is a sad dishonor to a child of God to be the world’s favorite. It is a very bad omen to hear a wicked world clap its hands and shout “Well done” to the Christian man. He may begin to look to his character and wonder whether he has been doing wrong when the unrighteous give him their approval. Let us be true to our Master and have no friendship with a blind and base world that scorns and rejects Him. Far be it from us to seek a crown of honor where our Lord found only a crown of thorns.

1) Isaiah 53:3  2) Matthew 8:20

________________________________________

The family reading plan for November 10, 2014 * Joel 2 * Psalm 142

________________________________________

Devotional material is taken from “Morning and Evening,” written by C.H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg.

Charles Spurgeon – Heavenly love-sickness!

CharlesSpurgeon

‘I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him that I am sick of love.’ Song of Solomon 5:8

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 107:17–22

Certain sicknesses are peculiar to the saints: the ungodly are never visited with them. Strange to say, these sicknesses are signs of vigorous health. Who but the beloved of the Lord ever experience that sin-sickness in which the soul loathes the very name of transgression, is unmoved by the enchantments of the tempter, finds no sweetness in its besetting sins, but turns with detestation and abhorrence from the very thought of iniquity? Not less is it for these, and these alone, to feel that self-sickness whereby the heart revolts from all creature-confidence and strength, having been made sick of self, self-exalting, self-reliance, and self of every sort. The Lord afflicts us more and more with such self-sickness till we are dead to self and its unsanctified desires. Then there is a twofold love-sickness. Of the one kind is that love-sickness which comes upon the Christian when he is transported with the full enjoyment of Jesus, even as the bride, elated by the favour, melted by the tenderness of her Lord, says in the fifth verse of the second chapter of the Song, ‘Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love.’ The soul overjoyed with the divine communications of happiness and bliss which came from Christ, the body scarcely able to bear the excessive delirium of delight which the soul possessed, she was so glad to be in the embraces of her Lord, that she needed to be stayed under the overpowering weight of joy. Another kind of love-sickness widely different from the first, is that in which the soul is sick, not because it has too much of Christ’s love, but because it has not enough present consciousness of it; sick, not of the enjoyment, but of the longing for it; sick, not because of excess of delight, but because of sorrow for an absent lover.

For meditation: Do you suffer from spiritual sickness? Christ came to call those who are prepared to admit to him that they are spiritually sick (Mark 2:17). As he said of his physically sick friend Lazarus, ‘This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God’ (John 11:4).

Sermon no. 539

7 November (Preached 8 November 1863)

John MacArthur – Walking with God

John MacArthur

“Enoch walked with God” (Genesis 5:24).

Walking with God includes reconciliation, obedience from the heart, and ongoing faith.

When Scripture speaks of walking with God, it’s referring to one’s manner of life. For example, Paul prayed that the Colossian believers (and us) would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so they could walk (live) in a manner worthy of the Lord (Col. 1:9-10). To the Ephesians he said, “Walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind . . . [but] be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you” (Eph. 4:17; 5:1-2).

The Old Testament describes Enoch as a man who walked with God. Though relatively little is said about this special man, we can derive implications from his life that will help us better understand what it means to walk with God.

First, Enoch’s walk with God implies reconciliation. Amos 3:3 says, “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” (NIV). Two people can’t have intimate fellowship unless they agree. Obviously Enoch wasn’t rebellious toward God, but had been reconciled with Him through faith.

Second, walking with God implies loving service. Second John 6 says, “This is love, that we walk according to His commandments.” We obey Christ, but our obedience is motivated by love, not legalism or fear of punishment.

Third, a godly walk implies continuing faith, “for we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). Colossians 2:6-7 adds, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith.” By grace Enoch believed God and pleased Him all his life.

Do those who know you best see you as one who walks with God? I trust so. After all, that’s the distinguishing mark of a true believer: “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6).

Suggestions for Prayer;  Praise God for granting the reconciliation, faith, and love that enables you to walk with Him day by day.

For Further Study; What do the following verses teach about your Christian walk: Romans 8:4; Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 2:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; and 1 John 1:7?

 

Joyce Meyer – Trust God’s Grace

Joyce meyer

I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.

—Galatians 2:21 NKJV

I discovered years ago that every time I became frustrated it was because I was trying to do something myself, in my own strength, instead of putting my faith in God and receiving His grace (help). Receiving a revelation of God’s grace was a major breakthrough for me. I was always “trying” to do something and leaving God out of the loop. I tried to change myself and my husband and children, tried to get healed, tried to prosper, tried to make my ministry grow, and tried to change every circumstance in my life that I did not like. I was frustrated because none of my trying was producing any good results.

God will not permit us to succeed without Him. If He did, we would take the credit that is due Him. If we could change people, we would be changing them to suit our purposes, which would steal their freedom to make their own choices. I finally learned to pray for what I thought needed to be changed and let God do it His way in His timing. When I began trusting His grace, I entered His rest. Grace is always flowing to us in every situation, but it must be received by faith.

Lord, give me the understanding of Your grace that frees me from doing things in my own strength. Help me to do my part and rest in the fact that You will do the rest. Amen.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Before We Even Call

dr_bright

“I will answer them before they even call to Me. While they are still talking to Me about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!” (Isaiah 65:24).

Allenby’s Bridge, which spans the Jordan River, was built to honor the man whom God used to lead the miraculous conquest of Jerusalem with the firing of a single gun.

Allenby recalled how, as a little boy when he use to lisp his evening prayers, he was taught to repeat after his mother the closing part of the prayer:

“And, O Lord, we will not forget They ancient people, Israel. Lord, hasten the day when Israel truly shall be thy people and shall be restored to They favor and to their land.”

“I never knew then,” Allenby said at a reception in London, “that God would give me the privilege of helping to answer my own childhood prayers.”

Even more wonderful than that kind of divine providence is the truth expressed in Isaiah 65:24 (KJV): “Before they call I will answer.” I have seen this promise fulfilled many times in the global program of Campus Crusade for Christ. Even during the time we have prayed for desperate needs – financial and otherwise – God was already laying it upon the hearts of His faithful people to respond.

What a great comfort to know that we serve that kind of God!

Bible Reading: Isaiah 65:18-25

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Even as I pray for the needs of others and myself today, I will remember the power and faithfulness of God who has already begun to answer even before I ask

Presidential Prayer Team; J.R. – Side Selection

ppt_seal01

In little more than a month, he would be dead. But on this, the day of his second inauguration, President Abraham Lincoln had reason to be hopeful. The long and bloody Civil War was reaching its conclusion and victory was in sight. Yet Lincoln’s speech was marked not by hubris but by profound humility. “Both read the same Bible,” he said, speaking of the Union and the Confederacy, “and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other…the prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes.”

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Romans 8:31

Lincoln understood the foolishness of either nation lobbying God to be their side. It was and is the duty of every individual to conform to God’s will, not the other way round. There are many politicians who maneuver and shape their religious positions around polls and popular culture. And then there are those who acknowledge that “the Almighty has His own purposes.”

Today, pray for more leaders who understand this absolute: “For I the Lord do not change.” Malachi 3:6

Recommended Reading: Hebrews 13:1-9

Greg Laurie – My Determined Purpose  

greglaurie

Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity. —Romans 12:2

With the world the way it is today, with things getting darker and darker and going from bad to worse, it seems to me the only way to live these days is as a completely sold-out Christian—not as a fence-sitter trying to blend in, but as someone who says, “I want to walk with God and live a real Christian life.”

Paul said that his determined purpose in life was to know Christ (see Philippians 3:10-14). What is your determined purpose in life? When you get up in the morning, what do you live for? What are your goals? What are your priorities?

If you don’t have a goal, you’re in serious trouble because, as it has been said, if you aim at nothing, you’re bound to hit it. Can you say with Paul, “My determined purpose in life is to know Him”? I hope so.

Think of the way that God used Paul. He had led countless people to faith, established churches out on the frontiers of his world, and wrote letters that we regard today as the very inspired Word of God. Yet Paul realized he had so much to learn and so far to go.

It’s hard for us to think that someone like Paul would face the struggles and temptations we all face. But indeed he did. How much more should we be saying that we need to change radically in this coming year? We need to become more like Christ in this coming year—and don’t let anyone pull the wool over your eyes . . . all of us have a long, long way to go.

Today’s devotional is an excerpt from Every Day with Jesus by Greg Laurie, 2013

Max Lucado – Not Eloquent Prayers–Honest Ones

Max Lucado

For two years, I’ve asked God to remove the pain in my writing hand. After writing thirty-plus books in longhand, the repeated motion has restricted my movement. I stretch my fingers. I avoid the golf course. But most of all, I pray.

Better said, I argue. Shouldn’t God heal my hand? So far he hasn’t healed me. Or has he? These days I pray more as I write. Not eloquent prayers, but honest ones. “Lord, I need help. . .Father; my hand is stiff.” The discomfort humbles me. I’m not Max, the author. I’m Max, the guy whose hand is wearing out. I want God to heal my hand. Thus far he has used my hand to heal my heart!

Here’s my challenge to you! Join me at BeforeAmen.com—then every day for 4 weeks, pray 4 minutes. It’ll change your life!

From Before Amen