Charles Stanley – The Impact of Prayer

 

1 Thessalonians 5:17-18

When something’s on our mind, we are wise to consult Scripture or trusted spiritual mentors. God has also given His children the privilege of prayer, and He wants us to bring our concerns directly to Him. But believers often have questions about the power and effectiveness of prayer.

Will god’s plans fail if I don’t pray? God is not subservient to us or dependent upon our prayers. The time we invest in speaking with Him involves us in the work He is doing in our lives and in the world, but He will carry on with or without us. Laboring alongside the Lord is a blessing.

Does my prayer (or lack thereof) impact god’s work? I believe Scripture indicates the answer to this question is both yes and no, depending upon the situation. There are times when God’s purpose is set. He is in control and has determined the best course. In the Old Testament, He often revealed what He would do and then brought those events to pass.

In other cases, we “do not have because [we] do not ask” (James 4:2). There are some good things that God holds back until we extend prayerful hands to receive them. But He is a loving Father, who also pours out blessings that we wouldn’t even think to request.

Believer’s prayers have tremendous impact, particularly on their own faith and life. Do you understand what an awesome privilege it is to kneel before the all-powerful Father and know that He listens and will respond? God loves being good to His children and answering their prayers.

Our Daily Bread — In Every Generation

 

Read: Psalm 100
Bible in a Year: 1 Kings 12-13; Luke 22:1-20

The Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations. —Psalm 100:5

It may seem surprising when children don’t follow their parents’ example of faith in God. Equally unexpected is a person with a deep commitment to Christ who emerges from a family where faith was not present. In every generation, each person has a choice.

Samuel was a great man of God who appointed his two sons, Joel and Abijah, as leaders over Israel (1 Sam. 8:1-2). Unlike their father, however, they were corrupt and “turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice” (v.3). Yet, years later, we find Heman, Joel’s son, appointed as a musician in the house of the Lord (1 Chron. 6:31-33). Heman, Samuel’s grandson—along with Asaph, his right-hand man and the author of many of the psalms—served the Lord by singing joyful songs (15:16-17).

Even though a person seems indifferent toward the faith so precious to his or her parents, God is still at work. Things can change in later years, and seeds of faith may spring to life in generations to come.

No matter what the family situation may be, we know that “the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” —David McCasland

Dear Lord, help me to remember that You are the one who causes the seed of faith to grow. We give our loved ones into Your care, knowing that the end of the story has not yet been written.

God’s faithfulness extends to all generations.

INSIGHT: Psalm 100 is a short psalm—only five verses—in which we are encouraged to shout, serve, sing, give thanks, praise, and bless the Lord. We should shout joyfully, serve gladly, and bless Him because the Lord is God; because He made us and we belong to Him (v. 3); and because He is good, merciful, and always true (v. 5).

Alistair Begg – A Selfish Wish?

 

I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.

John 17:15

In God’s own time every believer will experience the sweet and blessed occasion of going home to be with Jesus. In a few more years the Lord’s soldiers, who are presently fighting “the good fight of the faith,”1 will have finished the battle and will have entered into the joy of their Lord. But although Christ prays that His people may eventually be with Him where He is, He does not ask that they may be taken at once away from this world to heaven. He wishes them to stay here. Yet how often is the weary pilgrim heard to pray, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.”2

But Christ does not pray like that; He leaves us in His Father’s hands until, like shocks of fully ripe corn, we shall each be gathered into our Master’s garner. Jesus does not plead for our instant removal by death, because our earthly journey is needful for others even when daunting for us. He asks that we may be kept from evil, but He never asks for us to be admitted to the inheritance in glory until it is time. Christians often want to die when they have any trouble. Ask them why, and they tell you, “Because we would rather be with the Lord.”

I wonder whether it is not so much that they long to be with the Lord as it is because they want to be free of their troubles; otherwise they would feel the same desire to die at other times when not under the pressure of trial. They want to go home not so much for the Savior’s company as to be at rest. Now it is quite right to desire to depart if we can do it in the same spirit that Paul did–because to be with Christ is far better; but the wish to escape from trouble is a selfish one. Rather let your longing be to glorify God by your life down here as long as He pleases, even though you live in the midst of toil and conflict and suffering. Leave Him to say when it is enough.

1) 1 Timothy 6:12   2) Psalm 55:6

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

Charles Spurgeon – Christ glorified as the builder of his church

 

“He shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory.” Zechariah 6:13

Suggested Further Reading: Revelation 19:1-10

This glory is undivided glory. In the church of Christ in heaven, no one is glorified but Christ. He who is honoured on earth has some one to share the honour with him, some inferior helper who laboured with him in the work; but Christ has none. He is glorified, and it is all his own glory. Oh, when you get to heaven, you children of God, will you praise any but your Master? Calvinists, today you love John Calvin; will you praise him there? Lutherans, today you love the memory of that stern reformer; will you sing the song of Luther in heaven? Followers of Wesley, you revere that evangelist; will you in heaven have a note for John Wesley? None, none, none! Giving up all names and all honours of men, the strain shall rise in undivided and unjarring unison “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, unto him be glory for ever and ever.” But again; he shall have all the glory; all that can be conceived, all that can be desired, all that can be imagined shall come to him.Today, you praise him, but not as you can wish; in heaven you shall praise him to the summit of your desire. Today you see him magnified, but you see not all things put under him; in heaven all things shall acknowledge his dominion. There every knee shall bow before him, and every tongue confess that he is Lord. He shall have all the glory. But to conclude on this point; this glory is continual glory. It says he shall bear all the glory. When shall this dominion become exhausted? When shall this promise be so fulfilled that it is put away as a worn out garment? Never.

For meditation: “Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.” (Matthew 6:13). Can you really say ‘Amen’ to this?

Sermon no. 191
2 May (1858)

John MacArthur – Exemplary Living

 

“Having summoned His twelve disciples” (Matt. 10:1).

A good example is the best form of teaching.

Matthew 10:1 is Christ’s official commissioning of the twelve men He hand-picked to serve beside Him during His earthly ministry. Mark 3:13 says He “summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him.” In John 15:16 He tells them, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit.” This is not their call to salvation, but to service. With the exception of Judas, they were already saved. Before the foundation of the world God chose them to be redeemed in Christ, and they had responded accordingly. Now Jesus was calling them to a specific ministry.

God always chooses those who will be saved and serve within His church. But between salvation and service there must be a time of training. For the disciples it was a period of three years in which Jesus Himself trained them as they experienced life together from day to day. That’s the best form of discipleship. Classrooms and lectures are helpful, but there’s no substitute for having a living pattern to follow—someone who models Christian virtue and shows you how to apply biblical principles to your life.

Paul understood the importance of such an example. In Philippians 4:9 he says, “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things.” He said to Timothy, “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe” (1 Tim. 4:12). Peter followed suit, admonishing the church elders not to lord their authority over those in their charge, but to be godly examples (1 Pet. 5:3).

Whether you’ve been a Christian for many years or just a short time, you are an example to someone. People hear what you say and observe how you live. They look for a glimpse of Christ in your life. What do they see? How would they do spiritually if they followed your example perfectly?

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank the Lord for those who are examples of godliness to you.

For Further Study

  • What do these verses indicate about your salvation: John 15:16, Romans 8:28, Ephesians 1:4, and 2 Thessalonians 2:13?
  • According to Ephesians 2:10, why were you saved?

Joyce Meyer – Confess and Pray

 

Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. James 5:16

Sin separates us from God. It causes us to feel far away from Him; it can cause us to want to hide from Him or to not want to talk to Him; and it can keep us from hearing His voice. When we know we have sinned, we must ask for God’s forgiveness and then receive it, because He promises to forgive us when we repent. Hidden things can have power over us and so there are times when it is very helpful to confess our sins to other people, according to the verse for today.

Confessing our faults to someone and asking for prayer requires first of all that we find someone we truly trust and secondly that we are willing to put aside our pride and humbly share our struggles. If you find that challenging, ask God to help you grow in humility because the results are amazing if you find a friend you can trust, and you share with that person, “I’m struggling in this area and I want to be free. I’m hurting and I need you to pray for me.”

I remember once having a real struggle with feeling jealous of a friend. I had prayed, but was still being tormented by the jealousy so I confessed it to Dave and asked him to pray for me. Getting it out in the open broke its power over me and I was set free from it. Always go to God first, but if you need the help of a friend or spiritual leader, don’t let pride stand in your way.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The Right Priorities

 

“Constantly remind the people about these laws, and you yourself must think about them every day and every night so that you will be sure to obey all of them. For only then will you succeed” (Joshua 1:8).

Jim was a driven man. He loved his wife and his four children. But the thing that consumed almost every waking thought was, “How can I be a greater success? How can I earn the praise of men?”

Through neglect his family began to disintegrate, and he came to me for counsel. His wife was interested in another man; he was alienated from his children. Three were involved in drugs and one had attempted suicide twice.

“Where have I gone wrong?” Jim asked.

I reminded him of the Scripture, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?”

According to Scripture, a man’s priorities are first, to love God with all his heart, his soul and his mind, and then to love his neighbor as himself. Since his closest neighbors are his wife and children, his second priority is his wife. A good marriage takes the Ephesians 5:25 kind of love. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church,” a sacrificial, giving love.

The third priority is his children. He must show love to them, not by giving themthings, but by giving them himself, spending time with them, letting them know they are far more important to him than his business.

A man must love his wife and children unconditionally as God loves him – not when, if, or because they are good and deserve to be loved.

And the fourth priority I discussed with Jim was his business. A man’s business must be dedicated to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jim surrendered his life to Christ. After almost three years of implementing the Bible’s priorities, Jim’s family again was united in the love of Christ, and God had given Jim and his wife a new-found love for Himself and for each other.

The law of God is clear: When we disobey Him, he disciplines us as a loving father and mother discipline their child, and when we obey Him, He will bless us.

Bible Reading: James 2:-8

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will seek to please the Lord in all that I do, knowing that I will experience His blessings when I obey Him, and His discipline when I disobey Him.

Presidential Prayer Team; G.C. – Hiding

 

Badly behaving microorganisms, like bacteria and viruses, are everywhere: they actually thrive and multiply in hiding. Darkness is their favorite place to prepare for making you sick and miserable.

They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden…and the man and his wife hid themselves.

Genesis 3:8

In the Bible, Genesis tells a related story. God delighted in knowing His most magnificent work – a couple of human beings. One day, when seeking them out for friendship and enjoyment, He found them running away from His voice – trying to hide in the shadow of trees. The Creator knew they had betrayed His trust. Now being infected with sin and fear, they no longer moved towards Him; instead, they sought out darkness where their condition was more comfortable.

Today, do you want a healthy and flourishing America? Start by examining yourself. Is there a dark place where sin is eating away your life? God still offers forgiveness and healing to those willing to step out of hiding. Pray for civic leaders across America to seek the Creator for their own restoration and health. God will hear prayers of confession and apply His mercy, brightening the future for His children and for America.

 

Recommended Reading: Psalm 32:3-7

 

Greg Laurie – What Will You Be Remembered For?

 

“‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.'” —Revelation 14:13

What is heaven like? What will we do when we get there? The Bible has answers to all of that.

1. Heaven is a place of rejoicing.

“Blessed are the dead . . .”

As much as we may miss our loved ones who have gone before us to heaven, we need to know that they are in pure bliss. The apostle Paul died and went to heaven and was brought back to life. Paul said he longed to go there—because it is “far better” (Philippians 1:23).

Adrian Rogers, who is now in heaven, once wrote, “Consider the artistry that God has put into Heaven.” In his commentary on Revelation he wrote these words, “The God who sculpted the wings of the butterfly, blended the hues of the rainbow, and painted the meadows with daffodils is the same who made Heaven.”

2. Heaven is a place of rest.

“That they may rest from their labors . . .”

We will have a permanent rest from our labors in heaven. The curse will be gone, and we will no longer have to work “by the sweat of our brow” (Genesis 3:19), but we will still be busy for the Lord! Our work is not over when we leave this earth; it continues in heaven and on the new earth.

3. Heaven is a place of reward.

“And their works follow them.”

You cannot work your way into heaven, for it is a gift of God to each of us. However, the Bible teaches that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20).

Your “works will follow you.” One day, in your memorial service, no one will care about how successful you were in business or how much money you had. People will talk about your character, your merciful acts, and love for others. Make sure you have some “good works” to follow you to that day.

So let’s press forward—continuing to serve the Lord during our short time here on earth, knowing that eternity will be a time of rejoicing, rest, and reward!

Streams in the Desert for Kids – Pit Crew

 

John 10:41

In the world of professional auto racing, only a few people get to be drivers and have their names splashed across the newspapers and TV. But for every successful racecar driver, there are dozens of back-up people, many of whom are called the “pit crew.” Pit crews are vital to the success of any racer. When the driver comes off the track and heads to the pit, the crew springs into action. They fuel the car and change all the tires in seconds. They make minor adjustments and get the driver back out on the track. Time spent in the pit impacts the outcome of the race. A slow pit crew can cause a driver to lose.

In the Bible, John the Baptist is an example of someone who never got to be the “driver.” He was more like part of Jesus’ pit crew. John’s role was to tell everyone that Jesus was coming and they should get ready. While John did not perform any miracles, he had an important job to do by alerting everyone that someone was coming soon who would take away the sin of the world. When some people asked John if he was the Christ, he simply replied, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’” It takes a really big person to step back and let someone else shine in the spotlight. But when we perform the most everyday, insignificant tasks, God still sees what we are doing.

Dear Lord, Sometimes I want to be the person everyone talks about and praises, but help me to be humble. Amen.

Night Light for Couples  – Fickle Values

 

“I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14

I f I (jcd) were to draw a caricature of an adult experiencing a lifelong crisis of confidence, I would depict a bowed, weary traveler. Over his shoulder, I would place the end of a mile‐long chain attached to tons of garbage. Inscribed on each piece of junk would be the details of some humiliation—a failure, a rejection, an embarrassment from the past. The traveler could let go of the chain, but he is convinced that he must drag that heavy load throughout life.

If this describes your own self‐concept, realize that you can free yourself from the weight of your chain. You have judged yourself inferior based on shifting standards. In the 1920s, women asked plastic surgeons to reduce their breast size—now many women undergo surgery to do just the opposite. In King Solomon’s biblical love song, the bride asked her groom to overlook her dark, well‐tanned skin—but in our country today, she’d be the pride of the beach. Rembrandt painted overweight ladies, but now, “thin is in.”

To be content with who we are as God’s creations, we must base our self‐image on His values, not on the fickle notions of human worth.

Just between us…

  • Do you ever feel like the weary traveler described above?
  • Do you sometimes feel that even God couldn’t love you?
  • What feelings of inferiority or inadequacy do you carry around? What would God say about your “junk”?
  • Do I help to elevate your opinion of yourself, or am I part of the problem?

Lord, open our eyes to the half-truths and lies about ourselves that keep us in chains. We are made in Your image. May we affirm that beautiful truth in each other daily. Amen.

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson