Charles Stanley – Our Helper in Prayer

Charles Stanley

Romans 8:26-27

Christians need the Holy Spirit’s help in prayer. At times in our journey of faith, we’ll find that we cannot . . .

  • Find the right words
  • Discern God’s will
  • Recognize what He is doing, or
  • Grasp the complexity of a situation.

Periods of struggle in prayer are normal for believers. Few of us are as eloquent as the psalmist David—especially when we are confused, distressed, or weary. So let’s look at two biblical examples of prayer in challenging situations.

First, notice that in today’s reading, the apostle Paul admits to feeling weak in his prayer life. His well-known request was for God to remove a “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7). Paul pleaded desperately—and probably with great effort—for relief. With the Spirit’s help, he came to understand the Lord’s call to endure in spite of pain.

A second example is Jesus Christ’s agonized prayer the night before His crucifixion. Although He was committed to doing His Father’s will, He dreaded the immeasurable spiritual suffering that lay ahead. Crying out to God from Gethsemane, the Savior uttered this urgent sentence: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will” (Matt. 26:39).

God knew we’d need help in prayer. With our limited human perspective, we cannot know all aspects of the situations facing us. But the Holy Spirit understands our needs and burdens—as well as the big picture. He carries our requests to God even when we can’t adequately express them.

Our Daily Bread — Human Chess

Our Daily Bread

1 John 4:7-12

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. —1 John 4:7

Chess is an ancient game of strategy. Each player begins with 16 pieces on the chessboard with the goal of cornering his opponent’s king. It has taken different forms over the years. One form is human chess, which was introduced around AD 735 by Charles Martel, duke of Austrasia. Martel would play the game on giant boards with real people as the pieces. The human pieces were costumed to reflect their status on the board and moved at the whim of the players—manipulating them to their own ends.

Could this human version of the game of Chess be one that we sometimes play? We can easily become so driven by our goals that people become just one more pawn that we use to achieve them. The Scriptures, however, call us to a different view of those around us. We are to see people as created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26). They are objects of God’s love (John 3:16) and deserving of ours as well.

The apostle John wrote, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7). Because God first loved us, we are to respond by loving Him and the people He created in His image. —Bill Crowder

Open my eyes, Lord, to people around me,

Help me to see them as You do above;

Give me the wisdom and strength to take action,

So others may see the depth of Your love. —Kurt DeHaan

People are to be loved, not used.

Bible in a year: Daniel 1-2; 1 John 4

Insight

The apostle John wrote today’s memorable words about love to a church struggling with the influences of false teachers. The words of verses 7-12 follow his instructions in verses 1-6 about identifying false teachers and false teaching (mainly by their view of Jesus). These verses indicate that love for God and for others is a key test for identifying those who truly follow Christ. Therefore, it is no surprise that John emphasizes the Christian characteristic of love. In today’s passage, he says that we ought to love one another, and in his gospel he records Jesus’ words, “By this, all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). How we treat one another is a demonstration of our love for God.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry –  Like a Thief

Ravi Z

The alarm of discovering your house has been broken into is one I imagine stays with you long after the thief has gone home. Though most are not eyewitnesses to the looming figure that wrongfully entered, victims of such crimes often report seeing shadows in every corner and silhouettes peering through their windows. Signs that someone had been there are enough to call them to alertness.

Whether you have experienced the shock of burglary and its lasting effects or the violating despair of personal loss, the portrayal of Christ as one who will come like a thief in the night is a startling image. The description is one that seems uncouth amongst the less taxing images that will soon be sentimentally upon us—a peaceful mother and father beside a quiet baby in a manger, a bright star that guides wise men in the obscurity of night. How can the gospel juxtapose these images of one who comes as a child of hope and yet returns like a looming, unwanted figure? But this is the counsel from Jesus himself: “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”(1)

The cry of the Christian season of Advent, the sounds of which are just starting to stir, is the cry not of sentiment but of disrupted vigilance. One of the key figures in celebrating the season, John the Baptist brings the probing message that continues to cry in urgency: “Are you ready?” Are you ready to discover this infant who came to dwell in the midst of night and suffering? Are you ready to hear his invasive message? Are you ready to discover God among you, the hunter, the thief, the King, the human? During the season of Advent, the church calls the world to look again at stories that have somehow become comfortably innocuous, to rediscover the disruptive signs that someone has been here moving about these places we call home, to stay awake to the startling possibility of his nearness in this place even now. “I say to all: ‘Stay awake,’” says Christ in Mark 13:37.

The owner of a house who has been disturbed once by a thief lives with the wakefulness that this thief will come again, however persuasively she is urged to see otherwise. She remembers the signs of a presence other than her own—prints left behind, a door left open, the memory of life disturbed—and she vows to keep watch, knowing, even against odds, that the thief will be back. In the same way, yet without fear, the season of Advent cries for our alertness to the vicariously human savior whose breaking into our world has charged every ordinary moment with expectation.

The child who was born in Bethlehem came quietly in the night, unbeknownst to many who dwelled near him. Like a thief, he shattered myths that proposed we were autonomous; he disrupted systems and powers and lives we thought were shielded. Yet Jesus came not to steal and destroy, but to dwell in all that overwhelms us, to live in a world groaning in death, fear, injustice, and suffering. His humanity shows us what it means to be truly human, overturning the categories we make for ourselves. Like a whimper in the night, his presence in the ordinary may go unnoticed. But he is near and knocking. Fear not and keep watch.

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

(1) Matthew 24:42-44.

Alistair Begg – God’s Resourcefulness

Alistair Begg

Then the Lord showed me four craftsmen.   Zechariah 1:20

In the vision described in this chapter, the prophet saw four terrible horns. They were pushing this way and that way, dashing down the strongest and the mightiest; and the prophet asked, “What are these?” The answer was, “These are the horns that have scattered Judah.” He saw before him a representation of those powers that had oppressed the Church of God. There were four horns, for the church is attacked from all quarters. The prophet had good reason to feel dismayed; but suddenly there appeared before him “four craftsmen.” He asked, “What are these coming to do?” These were the men whom God had found to break those horns in pieces.

God will always find men for His work, and He will find them at the right time. The prophet did not see the craftsmen at first, when there was nothing to do, but first the “horns” and then the “craftsmen.” The Lord always finds enough men. He did not find three craftsmen, but four; there were four horns, and there must be four workmen.

God finds the right men—not four men with pens to write, not four architects to draw plans, but four craftsmen to do the work. Rest assured, you who tremble for the Church of God, that when the “horns” grow troublesome, the “craftsmen” will be found. You need not worry about the weakness of the Church of God at any moment; there may be growing up in obscurity the valiant reformer who will shake the nations.

Chrysostoms may come forth from our Ragged Schools, and Augustines from the thickest darkness of London’s poverty. The Lord knows where to find His servants. He has in ambush a multitude of mighty men, and at His word they will take to the battle; “for the battle is the Lord’s,”1 and He will get to Himself the victory. So let us remain faithful to Christ, and He, in the right time, will raise up for us a defense, whether it be in the day of our personal need or in the season of peril to His Church.

1) 1 Samuel 17:47

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The family reading plan for December 5, 2014  * Nahum 3  * Luke 19

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

Charles Spurgeon – Compel them to come in

CharlesSpurgeon

“Compel them to come in.” Luke 14:23

Suggested Further Reading: John 3:31-36

I beseech you by him that liveth and was dead, and is alive for evermore, consider my master’s message which he instructs me now to address you. But do you spurn it? Do you still refuse it? Then I must change my tone a minute. I will not merely tell you the message, and invite you as I do with all earnestness, and sincere affection—I will go further. Sinner, in God’s name, I command you to repent and believe. Do you ask me my authority? I am an ambassador of heaven. My credentials, some of them secret, and in my own heart; and others of them open before you this day in the seals of my ministry, sitting and standing in this hall, where God has given me many souls for my hire. As God the everlasting one has given me a commission to preach his gospel, I command you to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; not on my own authority, but on the authority of him who said, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature;” and then he annexed this solemn sanction, “He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Reject my message, and remember “He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God.” An ambassador is not to stand below the man with whom he deals, for we stand higher. If the minister chooses to take his proper rank, girded with the omnipotence of God, and anointed with his holy unction, he is to command men, and speak with all authority compelling them to come in: “command, exhort, rebuke with all longsuffering.”

For meditation: Do we regard the Gospel as a take-it or leave-it option? The opposite of trusting in Christ is disobedience (Romans 1:5 and 16:26).

Sermon no. 227

5 December (1858)

John MacArthur – God’s Final Revelation

John MacArthur

“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son” (Heb. 1:1-2).

Jesus not only brought but in fact was God’s full and final revelation.

A Samaritan woman declared, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us” (John 4:25). The expectation of that day, even among the Samaritans, was that Messiah would unfold the full and final revelation of God. The Holy Spirit, through the writer of Hebrews, affirms that to be true: “God . . . in these last days has spoken to us in His Son” (Heb. 1:1-2).

The Old Testament had given divine revelation in bits and pieces. Every piece was true, yet incomplete. But When Jesus came, the whole picture became clear, and though rejected by His own people, He was, in fact, the fulfillment of the messianic hope they had cherished for so many centuries.

The Old Testament age of promise ended when Jesus arrived. He is God’s final word: “As many as may be the promises of God, in Him they are yes; wherefore also by Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us” (2 Cor. 1:20).

God fully expressed Himself in His Son. That’s why John said, “The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . . No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (John 1:14, 18). Paul added that in Christ “all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Col. 2:9).

The practical implications of that truth are staggering. Since Christ is the fullness of divine revelation, you need nothing more. In Him you have been made complete (Col. 2:10), and have been granted everything pertaining to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). His Word is sufficient, needing no additions or amendments.

Suggestion for Prayer; Ask God to teach you how to rely more fully on your resources in Christ.

For Further Study; Read John 1:1-18 as a reminder of the fullness of God’s revelation in His Son.

Joyce Meyer – Peace in the Midst of the Storm

Joyce meyer

A furious storm of wind [of hurricane proportions] arose, and the waves kept beating into the boat, so that it was already becoming filled. But He [Himself] was …asleep.—Mark 4:37-38

In Mark 4:35-41, we read how a storm arose when Jesus and His disciples were in a ship crossing the Sea of Galilee. The disciples got all upset, but Jesus calmly rebuked the storm, speaking peace to it, and it quieted down. Do you know why He was able to speak peace to the storm? Because He never let the storm get on the inside of Him. The disciples could not calm the storm because they were as disturbed as the waves were. Remember, you can’t give away something you don’t have. Jesus gave them peace because He had peace to give them. He had a peaceful heart within Him.

I tell you, I want to be the kind of person who has a soothing effect on people when I get around them. I want to be the kind of person who can spend a few minutes in a strife-filled room, and all of a sudden everyone starts to calm down.

When Jesus walked around on the earth, He had something going out of Him—the anointing or the virtue of God, which is the power of God. Something was constantly emanating from Him that brought healing and hope and salvation to people’s lives.

It wasn’t just something God put on Him; there was a foundation there of how He was living His life.Yes, He was anointed, but that anointing was not going to be released if He didn’t live His life right. And that’s exactly why He never let the devil upset Him. He didn’t let the storms of life get on the inside of Him. He kept His heart peaceful, calm, and loving. And we are to be like Him.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Fishers of Men

dr_bright

“And He saith unto them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19, KJV).

Each morning I kneel to acknowledge Christ’s lordship of my life and ask Him to have complete, unhindered control of my life for that day, to walk around in my body, to think with my mind, to love with my heart, to speak with my lips and to continue seeking and saving the lost through me.

Sometime ago I was at a conference in a midwestern city, anticipating an early adjournment so that I could catch a plane to Los Angeles and rejoin my waiting family.

When I arrived at the airport, I discovered that flight after flight had been cancelled because of poor weather conditions. Rushing from one airline ticket counter to another, I hoped to find one that was still flying its planes. Finally, to my disappointment, I had discovered that all the airlines had cancelled their flights.

On one hand I was discouraged, but on the other I was encouraged by the promise of the Bible, “And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into His plans” (Romans 8:28, LB).

Back at the hotel for the night, in the lobby I met a businessman who was hungry for God. As I shared Christ with him, I learned that he and his wife had been visiting a different church every Sunday for the past couple of years. They were looking for God but had not been able to find Him.

I explained to my new friend how to receive Christ. Together, we knelt and prayed, and he received Christ into his life as his personal Lord and Savior.

With great joy and enthusiasm my new brother in Christ announced, “I want to take these things to my wife because she too is eager to receive Christ.” It is our responsibility to follow Christ. It is His responsibility to make us fishers of men.

Bible Reading: Matthew 4:18-22

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: As I follow Christ today, I will recognize that even the delays, hindrances and closed doors may well be opportunities for me to share my faith in Jesus Christ. I shall remember, with God’s help, to share Him with others at every opportunity.

Presidential Prayer Team; G.C. – Don’t Forget

 

ppt_seal01What would it take for you to forget God? In ancient times God’s people, Israel, had no land of their own; they were slaves in Egypt. The Lord performed amazing miracles to lead three million of His chosen ones to a specific place He called their forever home.

There arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.

Judges 2:10

Once there, God gave them a personal guarantee and a formula for success: remove all squatters and, as soon as the land was cleared, He would be their King and they would live in peace. However, when the people of Israel met the occupiers, they found a sophisticated people who were cruel in war but dedicated to lavish living and indulging in every pleasure. Unsurprisingly, the Israelites found it much easier to join their party than start a war. In the span of one generation, the words of today’s verse became reality. They had forgotten God.

As you pray for America today, specifically intercede for coming generations. Pray they will seek God and His purposes. Do your part to make sure America’s future citizens do not forget the faithful One, but instead speak of Him and His love.

Recommended Reading: Psalm 22:22-31

Greg Laurie – God of Knowledge

greglaurie

Talk no more so very proudly; let no arrogance come from your mouth, for the Lord is the God of knowledge; and by Him actions are weighed. —1 Samuel 2:3

If intellectualism alone were the major key to purpose and fulfillment, then our universities and college campuses would be bastions of peace and purpose. Yet as you walk around your typical secular university today, you will see the emptiness of academic pursuit without God. On these campuses you will often find the most bizarre and aberrant ideas circulating today.

Certainly the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom is a good one. Very few things this life offers are greater than the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom, the pursuit of a good education. But if in that pursuit we leave God out, then it will indeed be an empty one.

The year before he died, J. Robert Oppenheimer, the brilliant physicist who was known as “the father of the atomic bomb,” said this about his life: “I am a complete failure!” In looking back on his achievements, he said they were meaningless. That sounds a lot like Solomon, who said, “But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind” (Ecclesiastes 2:11, NLT).

We celebrate our dramatic advances in science and technology, which have been breathtaking to say the least. But as Tom Brokaw once said, “It is not enough to wire the world if you short-circuit the soul.”

With global telecommunications, we truly have become a global village. Yet there is a sense of isolation and detachment, and all this technology almost seems to numb the soul a little bit more. It is the pursuit of knowledge without God.

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

Max Lucado – Christ in You

Max Lucado

Proliferating throughout Scripture is an enticing and inviting preposition —the preposition “in.” Jesus lives in his children. From Revelation 3:20, Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”

God in us! Have we sounded the depth of this promise? With God in you, you have a million resources you didn’t have before. Can’t stop worrying? Christ can. And he lives within you. Can’t forget the past, forgive the jerk, or forsake your bad habits? Christ can! And he lives in you.

Oh to be so full of him that we could say with the apostle Paul, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me!”

From In the Manger