Charles Stanley –Preparation Through Prayer

 

Acts 1:9-14

The book of Acts is an amazing record of how God worked in and through the early church, and one of their most important activities was prayer. While Jesus was with His disciples, little was recorded of them praying because they could talk directly to Christ. But after His ascension, they immediately gathered in the upper room and “devot[ed] themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14).

Talking to God was their means of preparing for the work He had for them. Jesus had told them the Father would give the Holy Spirit to those who ask (Luke 11:13). Then after the resurrection, He instructed them to stay in Jerusalem until they were “clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Without the Spirit, they were not adequate for the Great Commission even though they’d spent time with Jesus. And if they needed the Spirit’s power, so do we.

To the degree we’re willing to admit our absolute helplessness to do God’s work, the Holy Spirit will empower us as we pray. When we are devoted to prayer, the Lord begins to work in our heart, preparing us for service. He gives us the Spirit’s boldness to speak God’s Word (Acts 4:31) and the courage to face any persecutions that might result (Acts 4:29).

God is looking for believers who understand the importance of prayer and realize the only way to fulfill His calling for the church is through His supernatural power. Christ’s church is not grown through programs, seminars, and conferences, but through the humble prayers of saints who gather together in utter dependence upon Him. That’s when God’s power is released and His will is accomplished.

Bible in One Year: Leviticus 24-25

 

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Our Daily Bread — Tried and Purified

Read: Job 23:1–12

Bible in a Year: Exodus 39–40; Matthew 23:23–39

When he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.—Job 23:10

During an interview, singer and songwriter Meredith Andrews spoke about being overwhelmed as she tried to balance outreach, creative work, marital issues, and motherhood. Reflecting on her distress, she said, “I felt like God was taking me through a refining season, almost through a crushing process.”

Job was overwhelmed after losing his livelihood, his health, and his family. Worse still, although Job had been a daily worshiper of God, he felt that the Lord was ignoring his pleas for help. God seemed absent from the landscape of his life. Job claimed he could not see God whether he looked to the north, south, east, or west (Job 23:2-9).

In the middle of his despair, Job had a moment of clarity. His faith flickered to life like a candle in a dark room. He said, “[God] knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (v. 10). Christians are tried and purified when God uses difficulty to burn away our self-reliance, pride, and earthly wisdom. If it seems as if God is silent during this process and He is not answering our cries for help, He may be giving us an opportunity to grow stronger in our faith.

Pain and problems can produce the shining, rock-solid character that comes from trusting God when life is hard. —Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Dear Lord, help me to believe that You are with me, even when I can’t see You working in my life. I surrender myself to Your purpose for any suffering I may endure.

Faith-testing times can be faith-strengthening times.

INSIGHT: In today’s passage, Job responds to the accusations brought by his friend Eliphaz, who sarcastically asks whether Job thinks God is judging him because of his reverence for Him (22:4). Eliphaz insists that Job is suffering for a hidden scandal (v. 5). With assumptions but no evidence, he explains Job’s troubles by accusing him of being a self-centered rich man who has mistreated weak people for his own material gain. And so Job expresses his desire to be able to argue his case before God (ch. 23). The wrong assumptions of his friends have become part of the fire that is testing and refining him (v. 10). Do we have the courage to express our honest questions and true feelings to the Lord? Mart DeHaan

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Scene of Miracle

The 1748 essay “Of Miracles” by David Hume was influential in leading the charge against the miraculous, thoughts that were later sharpened (though also later recanted) by Antony Flew. Insisting the laws of a natural world incompatible with the supernatural, the new atheists continue to weigh in on the subject today. With them, many Christian philosophers and scientists, who are less willing to define miracle as something that must break the laws of nature, join the conversation with an opposing gusto. Physicist and Anglican priest John Polkinghorne, for instance, suggests that miracles are not violations of the laws of nature but rather “exploration of a new regime of physical experience.”(1)

The possibility or impossibility of the miraculous fills books, debates, and lectures. What it does not fill is that moment when a person finds herself—rationally or otherwise—crying out for intervention, for help and assurance, indeed, for the miraculous. “For most of us” writes C.S. Lewis, “the prayer in Gethsemane is the only model. Removing mountains can wait.”(2) To this I would simply add that often prayer is both: both the anguished cry of Gethsemane—”please, take this from me”—prayed at the foot of an impossible mountain.

Whether this moment comes beside a hospital bed, a dying marriage, a grave injustice, or debilitating fear, we seem almost naturally inclined in some way to cry out for an intervening factor, something or someone beyond the known laws of A + B that sit defiantly in front of us. For my own family that moment came with cancer, complicated by well-intentioned commands to believe without doubt that God was going to take it away. When death took it away instead, like many others in our situation, our faith in miracles—and the God who gives them—were equally defeated.

In the throes of that heart-wrenching scene, every time I closed my eyes to pray, the vision of an empty throne filled my mind. It was something like the vision of Isaiah in the temple, only there was no robe and no body filling anything.(3) My prayers seemed to be given not a resounding “no,” but a non-answer, a cold, agonizing silence, which was also very much an answer. It was only years after the scene of my failed prayers for the miraculous that I was physically startled, again like Isaiah, at the thought that the throne was empty because the one who fills it had stepped down to sit beside us as we cried.

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Joyce Meyer – Waiting on God

 

Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.—Psalm 27:14

When we “wait” on God, we are not being lazy or passive, but we are actually being very active spiritually. We may not be “doing” anything, but we are trusting God to do what needs to be done. In effect, we are saying, “Lord, I will not try to do this in my own strength. I will wait on You to deliver me. And I’m going to enjoy my life while I wait for You.”

Satan wants us to be frustrated from trying to solve our own problems. He hates our joy. He wants to see anything but joy, because the joy of the Lord is our strength (see Nehemiah 8:10). Worry robs us of strength, but joy energizes us.

We are tempted to think we are not doing our part if we don’t worry or try to figure out an answer to our problems, but this will prevent our deliverance rather than aid it. It is not irresponsible to enjoy life while we wait on God and expect Him to do what we don’t know how to do!

Do not fear because the battle is not yours, but the Lord’s.

From the book Closer to God Each Day by Joyce Meyer.

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Children of God

“But to all who received Him, He gave the right to become children of God. All they needed to do was to trust Him to save them” (John 1:12).

My wife, Vonette, had been active in the church since she was a little girl, and I assumed that she was a Christian. However, after my proposal and during our engagement, I realized she had never received Christ, though she was a very moral, religious person.

Because of the emotional involvement, I hesitated to press her to receive Christ because I was afraid she would go through the motions of receiving Him to please me, which certainly would not be pleasing to our Lord. So I asked the Lord to send someone who could introduce her to Christ. He clearly led me to call upon a dear friend, the late Dr. Henrietta Mears, who had played such a vital role in my own spiritual growth.

One day at Forest Home, a Christian conference center in California, Dr. Mears took time to talk with Vonette. “Receiving Christ,” she explained, “is simply a matter of turning your life – your will, your emotions, your intellect – completely over to Him.” With that, the great transaction took place and Vonette became a new creature in Christ.

Similarly, in India, a convert from Hinduism could neither read nor write, so he asked others to read the Bible to him. His favorite verse was John 1:12.

“I have received Him,” he said, “so I have become a son of God.”

Radiantly happy, he returned to his village.

“I have become a son of God,”he proclaimed. And his life was so transformed and his simple witness so effective that the other villagers all wanted to become “sons of God,” too.

That radiant convert led the whole village to Christ – and hundreds of others besides. A poor, illiterate, former Hindu, he realized that he had indeed become a son of God and he longed for others to become sons as well.

Bible Reading: John 1:6-11

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will make certain first of all that I have truly received Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord by faith – with the intellect, the emotions, the will. Then I will seek to be God’s instrument in helping to introduce others to Him as well.

 

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Max Lucado – Set Your Mind on a Holy Cause

If your problems are great, then your cause is too small. When your cause is great, your problems begin to shrink. Do you have a holy cause? A faith worth preserving? A mission worth living for? Ask God to give you a cause to claim to his glory: an orphanage to serve…a neighbor to encourage…a class to teach. It really is better to give than to receive.

Want to see your troubles evaporate? Help others with theirs. You’ll always face troubles, but you don’t have to face them in the same way. Instead, immerse your mind in God thoughts. Turn a deaf ear to doubters and set your mind on a holy cause. Once you find your mountain, no giant will stop you; no age will disqualify you; and no problems will defeat you.

From God is With You Every Day

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Patriots victory ‘a comeback for the ages’

“We saw the greatest game in NFL history. Greatest comeback. Greatest coach. And greatest quarterback. What an extraordinary sporting event.” That’s what columnist Peter Wehner tweeted after yesterday’s Super Bowl. Everyone who saw the game agrees with him today.

Why are we so enthralled with New England’s win in yesterday’s Super Bowl? On one hand, we ought not be surprised. The Patriots were favored to win the contest. Their quarterback had more Super Bowl experience than the entire Atlanta Falcons team combined. Their leader was coaching in his seventh Super Bowl.

What makes the Patriots’ 34–28 victory over the Falcons so memorable is the fact that it was so historic. Never before had a Super Bowl gone to overtime. Never before had a coach or quarterback won five Super Bowls. Never before had we seen a four-time Super Bowl MVP. Never before had a team come back from more than ten points down to win. All that changed last night in what The New York Times is calling “a comeback for the ages.”

When the Patriots made history, we felt that we made history. If we cannot win championships, we want to watch others win them. If we cannot be president of the United States, we want to watch as the president is inaugurated. If we cannot create great art, we want to see great art.

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