Charles Stanley – Effective Prayer

 

John 15:7-11

I’ve never met a Christian who didn’t want an effective prayer life. We all long to see the Lord answering our prayers and actively intervening in the concerns and needs we bring before Him, but are we willing to do what’s required? Jesus’ promise of answered prayer is linked with two prerequisites, both found in verse 7 of today’s reading.

“If you abide in Me.” To abide means to remain, dwell, or continue, and according to 1 John 3:24, abiding in Christ is characterized by keeping His commands. Therefore, if we want to pray effectively, we must be committed to obey God in every area of our life. Any rebellion robs us of the wisdom we need in order to pray rightly. It also hinders our fellowship with the Father and keeps Him from hearing and answering our requests.

“And [If] My words abide in you.” We must ask ourselves these questions: Does God’s Word remain, dwell, and continue in me? Am I more preoccupied with talking to God in prayer than with listening to what He’s said in His Word? Scripture is the basis for effective prayer. As we read and meditate upon God’s Word, it convicts us of sin so we can repent and be cleansed. Scripture adjusts our focus from earthly priorities to heavenly ones. It also shapes our thoughts to align with God’s so we’ll know how to pray according to His will instead of ours.

There are no fast and easy shortcuts to a fruitful prayer life. It was meant to develop through a lifestyle of obedience and dedication to the Word. These are cultivated over a lifetime and glorify God by bearing much lasting fruit.

Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 31-32

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Sky Garden

 

Read: Psalm 102:1–2, 18–28 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 100–102; 1 Corinthians 1

He looked down from His holy height. Psalm 102:19 nasb

While in London, a friend arranged for my wife Marlene and me to visit the Sky Garden. On the top floor of a thirty-five-story building in London’s business district, the Sky Garden is a glass-encased platform filled with plants, trees, and flowers. But the sky part captured our attention. We gazed down from a height of over 500 feet, admiring St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London, and more. Our views of the capital city were breathtaking—providing a helpful lesson on perspective.

Our God has a perfect perspective of everything we experience. The psalmist wrote, “For He looked down from His holy height; from heaven the Lord gazed upon the earth, to hear the groaning of the prisoner, to set free those who were doomed to death” (Psalm 102:19–20 nasb).

Like the hurting people pictured in Psalm 102, we are often locked into the present with its struggles, “groaning” with despair. But God sees our lives from beginning to end. Our Lord is never caught off guard by the things that can blindside us. As the psalmist anticipated, His perfect perspective will lead to an ultimate rescue that sets free even those “doomed to death” (vv. 20, 27–28).

In difficult moments, remember: We may not know what is coming next, but our Lord does. We can trust Him with every moment that stretches before us.

For more perspective on the trying seasons of life, read Why? Seeing God in Our Pain at discoveryseries.org/cb151.

Focusing on Christ puts everything else into perspective.

By Bill Crowder

INSIGHT

Altitude expands our field of view, not just our perspective. From the heights we can see things that are hidden from us when we are on the ground. This can be an analogy for God’s view of our life. God looks down from the heavens and sees us (Psalm 102:19). His view takes in both time and space; He sees the ends of the earth and the beginning and end of our lives.

How does knowing that God sees everything from beginning to end offer comfort?

J.R. Hudberg

 

http://www.odb.org

Streams in the Desert for Kids – It’s All Good

 

Romans 8:28

If ever there was a story of how God can take the worst stuff that happens to us and turn it to good, it is the biblical story of Joseph. Joseph was the second youngest son of Jacob. Jacob had twelve sons and when Joseph, the little guy, said that one day he would rule over his brothers, they got angry. They threw him in a pit then sold him to the first caravan of traders that came along.

Those rotten brothers told their father that Joseph had been eaten by wild animals. It broke Jacob’s heart. But Joseph was not dead. He was beginning a new life in Egypt. First, he was a lead servant in the household of Potiphar. Potiphar’s wife told lies about him, and he wound up in prison. Then through an amazing series of divine events, Joseph was taken from prison and made the ruler of the land. And it all happened just in time to save Egypt from a seven-year famine.

Oh, and those brothers who threw him in a pit? They came begging for food in Egypt. Joseph gave it to them twice before he told them that he was their little brother. They were really scared that he was going to have them all killed for what they had done to him. Instead, Joseph said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20). Everything worked out for the best because God was watching over them.

Dear Lord, Help me to trust you. Everything bad that happened to Joseph turned out to be for the best. I know I belong to you and that everything that happens is part of your plan for me. Amen.

 

Joyce Meyer – Thoughts, Words and Habits

 

Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” — Matthew 9:29

Adapted from the resource Power Thoughts Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

How do our thoughts and the words we speak affect our habits? In my opinion, they are the starting point for breaking all bad habits and forming all good habits. In fact, thinking and speaking negatively is a bad habit in itself—and one we need to break by beginning to think and speak positively.

You can literally think and talk yourself into victory or defeat. You not only get all the things you think and say, but you can have anything God says you can have in His Word. Jesus told people they would have what they believed, even sight for the blind men (see Matthew 9:27–30). They simply had to believe—to renew their minds to think as God thinks (see Romans 12:2 and Colossians 3:10)—and they could have the blessings God wanted them to have…and so can you!

Prayer Starter: Lord, help me to be more aware of my thoughts and words. Help me to continually keep Your Word in front of me and think like You think more and more. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Subduing the Enemy 

 

“At that time Samuel said to [the Israelites], ‘If you are really serious about wanting to return to the Lord, get rid of your foreign gods and your Ashtaroth idols. Determine to obey only the Lord; then He will rescue you from the Philistines'” (1 Samuel 7:3).

As I was reading and meditating upon the Word of God this morning, the thought struck me forcefully that this passage relates to multitudes of defeated, frustrated Christians today who feel that they have lost contact with God. They are puzzled as to why He has withdrawn His blessing from them, but the reason, in most cases, is very simple.

Throughout the history of Israel, the people alternately obeyed God and disobeyed Him. When they obeyed, He blessed, and when they disobeyed, He disciplined. At this particular time the Lord seemingly had abandoned them. It was because, as Samuel explained, they were worshiping foreign gods and idols. “If you will only obey God,” he counseled, “He will rescue you from the Philistines.”

So they destroyed their idols and worshiped the Lord, and then a miracle happened. Samuel invited all of Israel to come to Mispah and said, “I will pray to the Lord for you.” As they gathered there, the Philistine leaders heard about it and mobilized their army to attack. Of course, the Israelites were terribly frightened, but God spoke with a mighty thunder from heaven, and the Philistines were thrown into terrible confusion. Israel surrounded them, and subdued them, and the Philistines did not invade Israel again for the remainder of Samuel’s life.

Enemies can take many forms, but their intent is always to destroy. What are the Philistines in your life? Lust, pride, jealousy, materialism, financial indebtedness, physical illness, resentments, antagonism, criticism, discrimination? Do you feel that God has forsaken you?

Why not look into the mirror of God’s Word? Ask the Lord to reveal the idols of your life, then turn away from them. Confess your sins and claim God’s victory over those areas of life that are destroying you.

Bible Reading:I Samuel 7:1-12

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will carefully examine my life to see if I am harboring any idols that would cause the Spirit of God to be grieved and quenched. I will destroy any that I find, and will confess my sins and appropriate God’s fullness to live a supernatural life for His glory.

 

http://www.cru.org

Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – Joseph and God’s Plan

 

Family Reunion: Part 2

Genesis 42:18–38

In Shakespeare’s masterpiece Macbeth, the title character murders King Duncan to fulfill his own ambition of becoming king of Scotland. Wracked by guilt and the fear of being found out, he is unable to enjoy his royal position. Ultimately, he falls into madness.

After three days in prison, Joseph presented his brothers with their test. One of them must stay behind in prison while the rest bring food back to their households. Then they are to bring the youngest brother, Benjamin, to Egypt to prove that their story was true (v. 20).

This harsh treatment was not what Joseph’s brothers expected. Why were they being singled out? Their minds immediately went back to what they had done to Joseph. Verse 21 makes clear that they all felt responsibility for the crime they had committed: “They said to one another, ‘Surely we are being punished because of our brother. . . .’” They vividly recalled Joseph’s distress and his pleading with them from the pit. How often had those words and that image come into their minds in the last twenty years? They had been living in their own kind of prison created by the guilt from their sin.

Joseph had been communicating to his brothers through an interpreter, and they did not know he could understand their conversation. Though he was deeply moved by their words, he was still not ready to confront them directly. His test of their character must continue.

Now Joseph’s brothers faced another difficult conversation, this time with Jacob, who demonstrated little sympathy for their plight. He was too focused on his own grief and loss: “You have deprived me of my children . . . Everything is against me! . . . My son will not go down there with you” (vv. 36–38).

APPLY THE WORD

In Psalm 32, David describes what it was like for him to live with guilt: “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long” (v. 3). But God has provided freedom from the prison of our guilt! “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

 

http://www.todayintheword.org

Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – Joseph and God’s Plan

 

Family Reunion: Part 1

Genesis 42:1–17

During World War II, Corrie ten Boom was arrested for hiding Jewish people from the Nazi regime. She was sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp, where her sister Betsie died. After the war, she was speaking on forgiveness at a church in Munich where she saw a former prison guard. She later described seeing him: “Suddenly it was all there—the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain-blanched face.” What would she do when seeing this guard face to face?

Joseph finally came face to face with his brothers after twenty long years. Undoubtedly, the memory of how they treated him came to the surface. But Joseph also remembered something else: the dreams that God had given him (v. 9).

Joseph—and the reader—must wonder at this point whether his brothers have changed. This chapter opens with Jacob urging ten of the remaining brothers to go down to Egypt to buy food because of the famine. But Jacob did not want to send Joseph’s younger brother, Benjamin, with them because “he was afraid that harm might come to him” (v. 4). Jacob was still heartbroken with grief over the loss of Joseph. He still had a favorite son who received preferential treatment. Did the brothers harbor resentment against Benjamin like they did against Joseph?

Joseph is in an interesting position to test his brothers. He recognized them at once, but they do not recognize him (v. 8). He is dressed like an Egyptian official, and surely, it never occurred to them that their enslaved brother could possibly be an important leader. Joseph devised a test for his brothers’ honesty and character: he has all but one put in prison, and they must choose one brother to return with Benjamin to authenticate their story.

APPLY THE WORD

This passage illustrates the tension and difficulty of forgiveness and reconciliation. Can Joseph trust his brothers? What would it take for him to do so? Participating in God’s work of forgiveness and reconciliation might require us to walk slowly toward someone else, trusting that God will provide the answers and healing we need.

 

http://www.todayintheword.org