Charles Stanley – Our Helper in Prayer

John 14:16-17
One of the most painful emotions is loneliness. Of course, there are times in life when being alone is unavoidable. But since God has sent His Spirit to live within us, we are never truly on our own. The Holy Spirit—whom Jesus referred to as our “Helper”—is with us and available every second of every day.
Let’s think about ways that the Spirit of God helps us in our prayer life. First, He burdens us to pray. Have you ever felt a strong sense that you needed to spend time with the Lord? Perhaps you weren’t even sure why. That is the Spirit convicting you. He has many reasons for doing this. For instance, He may know that you need strength because of an imminent difficulty. Or He sometimes encourages us to confess sin so that our fellowship with the Father is not hindered.
Second, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. There are times when we do not know how to pray—when sorrow or helplessness overwhelms us to the point that words are impossible to speak, even to the Lord. Thankfully, when all we can do is cry to Jesus, the Spirit will lead on our behalf. He understands the depth of our thoughts, feelings, and needs, and He translates them into effective supplication according to God’s will.
The Savior loves you intimately—enough to die in your place and send a Helper to reside within you. What a privilege to have God’s Spirit dwelling in your heart. Do you recognize His power and love throughout your day? He longs to comfort, enable, and guide you each and every moment.
Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 33-36

Our Daily Bread – Reflecting God’s Glory

Read: Exodus 31:1-11
Bible in a Year: Psalms 103-104; 1 Corinthians 2
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. —Psalm 19:1
The 12th-century Chinese artist Li Tang painted landscapes animated with people, birds, and water buffalo. Because of his genius with fine line sketches on silk, Li Tang is considered a master of Chinese landscape art. For centuries, artists from around the world have depicted what they see in God’s art gallery of creation: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Ps. 19:1). The Bible tells us that our creativity as human beings comes from being made in the image of the Master Creator (Gen. 1:27).
God chose artists who worked with wood, gold, silver, bronze, and gems to create the furnishings, utensils, altars, and garments that were to be used when the ancient Israelites worshiped Him in the tabernacle (Ex. 31:1-11). These artistic renderings of spiritual realities prompted and guided the priests and the people in their worship of the Lord who had called them to be His people.
Through many types of artistic expression, we reflect the beauty of creation and honor the Creator and Redeemer of this marvelous world. —Dennis Fisher
Lord of the universe, You are the Creator and have given us creative abilities. May we honor You through them.
We were created to bring God the glory.
INSIGHT: Not only did God give Moses the exact blueprint for the tabernacle (Ex. 25-30), He also provided all the craftsmen needed to build it (31:1-11). Bezalal (v. 2) and Aholiab (v. 6) were probably the leaders of these craftsmen (vv. 3-6) and are mentioned again in Exodus 35:31-35. Bezalal is said to be filled with “the Spirit of God” (31:3; 35:31). God divinely empowered these men to do things that were clearly beyond normal human ability. God said, “I have put wisdom in the hearts of all the gifted artisans, that they may make all that I have commanded you” (31:6). Likewise, God has given every believer special abilities and skills to build up the church for His glory (Rom. 12:3-8; 1 Cor. 12:4-11; Eph. 4:11-15; 1 Peter 4:10-11). Sim Kay Tee

Slice of Infinity – In Stone and Sand

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, and yet we often emerge from the story not with curiosity but with satisfaction. This public conviction of the Pharisees strikes most of us 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 wastes our potential for good with unnecessary and demeaning guilt. According to Richard Dawkins, if God would just stop policing the world, then people would be good. 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 crimes 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 and sand, they left behind.
Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

Charles Spurgeon – What are the clouds?

“The clouds are the dust of his feet.” Nahum 1:3
Suggested Further Reading: Isaiah 40:12-26
Great things with us are little things with God. What great things clouds are to us! There we see them sweeping along the skies! Then they rapidly increase till the entire sky becomes black and a dark shadow is cast upon the world; we foresee the coming storm, and we tremble at the mountains of cloud, for they are great. Great things are they? No, they are only the dust of God’s feet. The greatest cloud that ever swept the face of the skies, was but one single particle of dust starting from the feet of the Almighty Jehovah. When clouds roll over clouds, and the storm is very terrible, it is only the chariot of God, as it speeds along the heavens, raising a little dust around him! “The clouds are the dust of his feet.” Oh! Could you grasp this idea my friends, or had I words in which to put it into your souls, I am sure you would sit down in solemn awe of that great God who is our Father, or who will be our Judge. Consider, that the greatest things with man are little things with God. We call the mountains great, but what are they? They are but “the small dust of the balance.” We call the nations great, and we speak of mighty empires; but the nations before him are but as “a drop of a bucket.” We call the islands great and talk of ours boastingly—”He taketh up the isles as a very little thing.” We speak of great men and of mighty—”The inhabitants [of the earth] in his sight are as grasshoppers.” We talk of ponderous orbs moving millions of miles from us—in God’s sight they are but little atoms dancing up and down in the sunbeam of existence. Compared with God there is nothing great.
For meditation: Are you experiencing great distress or great success? Try to look at both kinds of circumstances from the viewpoint of God (Zechariah 4:6-7).
Sermon no. 36
19 August (1855)

Joyce Meyers – Choosing the Right Church

But [as for] you, teach what is fitting and becoming to sound (wholesome) doctrine [the character and right living that identify true Christians]. – Titus 2:1
I went to church for years and years and never heard a message about the power my words had on my life. I may have heard something about my thoughts; but if so, it wasn’t enough to make any impact on my life because it did not change my thinking.
I heard about grace and salvation and other good things. But it wasn’t everything I needed to know in order to live in the righteousness, peace, and joy God offers to all who believe (see Romans 14:17).
There are many wonderful churches that teach God’s Word in its entirety; and I encourage you to make sure that wherever you choose to go to church, it is a place where you are learning and growing spiritually. We should not go to church just to fulfill an obligation we may think we have to God. We should go to church to fellowship with other believers in Jesus Christ, to worship God, and to learn how to live the life Jesus died for us to have and enjoy.

Campus Crusade – Guardian Angels

“For the angel of the Lord guards and rescues all who reverence Him” (Psalm 34:7).
For many years my travels have taken me from continent to continent, to scores of countries each year. I have traveled under all kinds of circumstances, not a few times faced with danger. But always there was peace in my heart that the Lord was with me and I was surrounded by His guardian angels to protect me.
In Pakistan, during a time of great political upheaval, I had finished a series of meetings in Lahore and was taken to the train station. Though I was unaware of what was happening, an angry crowd of thousands was marching on the station to destroy it with cocktail bombs.
The director of the railway line rushed us onto the train, put us in our compartments and told us not to open our doors under any circumstances – unless we knew that the one knocking was a friend. The train ride to Karachi would require more than 24 hours, which was just the time I needed to finish rewriting my book Come Help Change the World.
So I put on my pajamas, got in my berth and began to read and write. It was not until we arrived in Karachi some 28 hours later that I discovered how guardian angels had watched over us and protected us. The train in front of us had been burned when rioting students had lain on the track and refused to move. So the train ran over them and killed them. In retaliation, the mob burned the train and killed the officials.
Now we were the next train and they were prepared to do the same for us. But God miraculously went before us and there were no mishaps. We arrived in Karachi to discover that martial law had been declared and all was peaceful. A Red Cross van took us to the hotel and there God continued to protect us. When the violence subsided we were able to catch a plane out of Karachi for Europe.
Bible Reading: Isaiah 63:7-9
TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will make a special point of expressing my gratitude to God for assigning guardian angels to watch over me, protect and help me in my time of trouble. I will not take for granted the protection that many times in the past I have overlooked, not recognizing God’s miraculous, divine intervention, enabling me to live a supernatural life.

Presidential Prayer Team; H.L.M. – Godly Choices

The movie Jurassic World recently brought in over $511 million in its opening weekend, becoming the highest grossing global film of all time. Yet it is the film’s lead actor, Chris Pratt, who goes against Hollywood’s standards and demonstrates eternal qualities. Pratt values his faith in God and his family more than his fame and wealth. Chris and his wife Anna have been married for six years. When their son Jack was born premature, they spent weeks praying at the baby’s side. “We were scared for a long time. We prayed a lot,” said Pratt. “It restored my faith in God; not that it needed to be restored, but it really defined it.”
When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife.
Matthew 1:24
Another man, Joseph of Nazareth, also lived out his faith through his actions. God’s choice for Jesus’ earthly father was a man of integrity and courage. When God sent an angel to verify Mary‘s story, Joseph willingly obeyed in spite of the public humiliation he would face.
As you seek the Lord for daily decisions, pray and listen carefully to the Holy Spirit. Make choices that honor God. Pray also that America’s leaders will do the same.
Recommended Reading: Proverbs 3:1-10

Greg Laurie – How Sin Spreads

Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? —1 Corinthians 5:6
As believers, we are interconnected. The sin of one will affect many. That is why the apostle Paul said the church should never tolerate evil. He said, “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26).
Apparently in the Corinthian church, there was a man who was sleeping his father’s wife (not his biological mother but a woman his father had married). The church was actually boasting about how liberal and tolerant they were. So Paul confronted them, saying, “And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you” (1 Corinthians 5:2).
If an unbeliever who is living an immoral lifestyle comes to our church, we’ll welcome that person. We’ll say, “We love you.” We’ll also say, “Jesus Christ wants to change your life.” We will call him or her to the Lord and to faith.
But if a Christian comes to our church and is living openly in sin, if we find out about it, we will call him or her to repentance. But if that Christian refuses to repent, then he or she will be asked to leave.
Some might think that isn’t very loving. But actually it is very loving, and I’ll tell you why. If believers are living openly in sin, and the church doesn’t do anything about it, it’s sending a message that everything is okay and that we can thumb our noses at God.
Paul said, “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” (1 Corinthians 5:6). In modern vernacular, a little yeast permeates the whole batch of dough. If sin is tolerated, it will spread and corrupt others.

Max Lucado – The Two-Letter Word “IF”

The prison of pride is filled with self-made people, determined to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps even if they land on their rear ends! To the prideful it doesn’t matter what they did or to whom they did it or where they’ll end up– it only matters that I did it my way. You’ve seen the prisoners. The alcoholic who won’t admit his drinking problem. The woman who refuses to talk to anyone about her fears. Perhaps to see such a person all you have to do is look in the mirror.
The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just. . .” (1 John 1:9). The biggest word in Scripture just might be that two-letter one, IF. Justification…rationalization…comparison…these are tools of the jailbird. But Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn. . .” (Matthew 5:4). You see, true blessedness begins with deep sadness.
From The Applause of Heaven

Night Light for Couples – Camping Companions

“Just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.” 2 Corinthians 1:7
After learning that camping was a common pastime among happy families, Gary Smalley and his wife, Norma, decided to take their own brood into the wild. On a beautiful Kentucky night, the Smalleys gathered around a campfire, sang songs, and roasted hot dogs. By nine o’clock all were pleasantly tired and tucked into their camper beds. Gary thought, I can really see why this draws families together.
Then it struck. Thunder rolled and lightning flashed all around. Rain and wind assaulted the outside, then the inside, of the Smalley camper. The sudden storm turned what had been a relaxing evening into a night of fright.
Did this harrowing turn of events cause Gary and Norma to abandon the outdoors forever? Not at all—they became avid campers. The Smalleys discovered that sharing experiences, both fun and frightful, bonded them in ways they couldn’t have imagined.
Our encouragement to couples is to share each others’ interests and activities. Common endeavors will deepen your relationship and provide priceless family memories—even when storms strike.
Just between us…
How does sharing recreation and other interests build companionship?
(husband) Which of my favorite activities do you enjoy?
(wife) Do you appreciate having me join you in your activities? Which ones, and why?
What new shared activities could bring us closer together?
Lord, thank You for tonight’s encouragement to be friends and companions in many ways. Show us new ways to get the most out of life—together! Amen.
From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson

C.S. Lewis Daily – Today’s Reading

The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbour; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less. There is, indeed, one exception. If you do him a good turn, not to please God and obey the law of charity, but to show him what a fine forgiving chap you are, and to put him in your debt, and then sit down to wait for his ‘gratitude’, you will probably be disappointed. (People are not fools: they have a very quick eye for anything like showing off, or patronage.) But whenever we do good to another self, just because it is a self, made (like us) by God, and desiring its own happiness as we desire ours, we shall have learned to love it a little more or, at least, to dislike it less.
From Mere Christianity
Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis