Charles Stanley – Praying When in Need

 

James 1:1-5

What do you do when you lack clarity in the midst of a trial? Oftentimes we are tempted to do something, anything. But the wisest approach is to pray and wait on the Lord for direction. But how do we begin?

Prayer starts with transitioning our thoughts from the situation at hand to the Lord. What we need is His perspective on the difficulty we’re facing. Then we can ask Him to do what He’s purposed to accomplish through the challenging circumstance—whatever that may be. When we pray God-centered prayers according to His will, we can be certain that He will give us what we have requested (1 John 5:14-15).

In addition, the prayer pattern that Jesus Christ taught His disciples in Matthew 6:11-13 reveals the type of needs our Father wants us to bring before Him. As He provides for us, we will learn to trust Him more and more. Keeping a prayer list is helpful because it becomes a record of our interactions with the Lord. When we see a direct correlation between our requests and His answers, it will become increasingly evident that God has worked in our life. Specific prayers are even better than general requests because God’s faithfulness is even more undeniable.

One request God promises to answer with a “yes” is the desire for wisdom. Whenever we need understanding, particularly in trials, we are to petition our heavenly Father, and He will give it generously as we fill our minds with scriptural truths. And as our wisdom increases, joy and trust in the Lord will too.

Bible in One Year: Genesis 24-25

 

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Our Daily Bread — An Ordinary Man

 

Read: 1 Samuel 16:1–7 | Bible in a Year: Genesis 18–19; Matthew 6:1–18

People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

William Carey was a sickly boy, born to a humble family near Northampton, England. His future didn’t look too bright. But God had plans for him. Against all odds, he moved to India, where he brought incredible social reforms and translated the Bible into several Indian languages. He loved God and people, and accomplished many things for God.

David, son of Jesse, was an ordinary young man, the youngest in his family. He was seemingly an insignificant shepherd on the hills of Bethlehem (1 Samuel 16:11–12). Yet God saw David’s heart and had a plan for him. King Saul had been rejected by God for disobedience. While the prophet Samuel mourned Saul’s choices, God called Samuel to anoint a different king, one of Jesse’s sons.

When Samuel saw the handsome, tall Eliab, he naturally thought, “surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord” (v. 6). However, God’s strategy to select a king was much different than Samuel’s. In fact, God said no to each of Jesse’s sons, except the youngest one. Selecting David as king was definitely not a strategic move from God’s part, or so it seemed at first glance. What would a young shepherd have to offer his community, let alone his country?

How comforting to know that the Lord knows our hearts and has His plans for us.

Dear Lord, thank You that You care more about my heart’s attitude toward You than my outward beauty, possessions, or achievements.

Welcome to Estera Pirosca Escobar! Meet all our authors at odb.org/all-authors.

God’s priority is your heart.

By Estera Pirosca Escobar

INSIGHT

Samuel, whose name means “heard by God,” was Israel’s last judge as well as a priest and prophet. Samuel was born during the time of the judges at a turning point in Israel’s history. The son of Hannah and Elkanah, Samuel was dedicated to the Lord by his mother. As a little boy, Samuel went to live in the “house of the Lord at Shiloh,” the tabernacle (see 1 Samuel 1:24–28). There he was trained under the guidance of the priest Eli, and there he received a special calling from God (3:1–21). Samuel anointed the first king, Saul (chs. 9–10); and in today’s passage we see him preparing to anoint David, Saul’s replacement (16:1–13).

Alyson Kieda

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Inviting Questions

Returning to graduate school in mid-life has reintroduced me to the importance of asking questions. There are the all-important pragmatic questions that involve the mechanics and the specifics of various assignments. Should one use a particular style guide in writing papers, for example, or what material will be covered on the next exam? There are the questions of curiosity about a particular topic or subject, and there are research questions intended to take a student deeper into the minutiae of her course of study.

I often find that questions beget other questions, and many are not as easily answered as when I first began “formal” education. Instead, I am often led from one question to another on this journey of inquiry that is only tangentially related to the original question.

When this happens, I wonder whether I am in fact asking the “right” questions that would generate answers. So, perhaps inquiring into the motivation behind the questions is an even more important task. Do I simply ask out of curiosity? Am I asking in order to fill my head with as many possible answers as there are questions? Or might it be that I continually ask questions as a way of blocking answers I do not want to hear or receive?

Noise often serves as a distraction from truly listening. Perhaps fearful of listening to the tangled thoughts within me, I can sometimes fill my days with the noise of constant movement and activity, so that I rarely pay attention or tune my ears to the stirrings of my own heart and mind.

Silence can be disruptive, as I found out intimately when I lost my husband several years ago. Days would go by without my having spoken audibly to anyone, save my two dogs. I was struck by how loud the silence had become in my own life.

Yet, I was not without sound during this period of my life. I began to pay attention to all the sounds that made up my day-to-day existence. The din of traffic noise, airplanes, and nautical sounds from the harbor all made for a symphony of sound. Because I wasn’t speaking out loud to anyone, I was able to intentionally listen to a whole new world of natural sounds. I heard the wind in the trees and the soft patter of my dogs’ feet as they walked across the hardwood floors. I listened for the distinctive sounds of a variety of birds as they went about foraging for food or calling for a mate. At the time, I did not realize how unique it was to be able to truly listen because I was by myself nor would I have viewed it, as I now do, as a gift.

Paying attention to the world around us and asking questions are some of the wonderful qualities of being human. Anyone who has spent even a small amount of time around young children knows that asking questions about every possible subject preoccupies their early verbal expressions.

Whenever I begin to fret about the volume of my questions or the apparent lack of answers for them, I recall a conversation I once had with a colleague when I began my first position after seminary. We were discussing the nature of heaven. Like many, I had insisted that it would be a place where all questions would be answered and all that was unclear would be made clear immediately upon arrival.

I will never forget his response to me. “Oh no,” he replied. “I don’t think it will be that way at all. Otherwise, there would be no more discovery or learning; no more wonder.”

Instead, he mused about how heaven would be a place of endless discovery and learning. The impediments of finitude being removed, heaven would be very much as C.S. Lewis envisioned in his novel The Last Battle. The inhabitants would be taken “further up and further in” for eternity. My friend believed that moving “further up and further in” would involve questions, imagination, and discovery, because the capacity for learning would be limitless and endless.

Interestingly, the kingdom of heaven revealed by Jesus looks a great deal like this. It might come as a surprise—even to those who claim to be Christians—that Jesus asked more questions than he answered, at least as his life is recorded and revealed in the gospel narratives. According to author Martin Copenhaver in his systematic study of the questions of Jesus, Jesus asked 307 questions. Furthermore, he is asked 183 questions—of which he answers three.Think of that!

It turns out that asking questions was central to Jesus’s life and to the way he taught those who followed him. More than using didactic teaching, Jesus often explored the reality of the kingdom by asking questions. Other times, he told stories and used metaphors. Far from presenting easy answers, Jesus often left questions unanswered or his teaching unexplained.

But Jesus did not ask questions or leave them unanswered in order to be mysterious or enigmatic. His questions took his listeners deeper into wonder, discovery, and into discomfort:

Do you wish to get well?

What do you want me to do for you?

Who do you say that I am?

Why do you call me, “Lord, Lord” but do not do what I tell you?

Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?2

It turns out that asking questions was central to Jesus’s life and to the way he taught those who followed him.

Significantly, Jesus’s questions went straight to the heart of the matter. They were piercingly intimate and vulnerable, as when he asked his disciples if they wanted to “go away” after he gave the very complex teaching about consuming his body and blood as recorded in John 6. Far from requiring immediate answers, Jesus asked questions to prompt careful and considered reflection, often inviting wonder and amazement: Who then is this that even the wind and the seas obey him?

Jesus even asked the question that resounds on the lips and in the hearts of humans throughout the ages: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? And through his life, death, and resurrection, he ultimately answered the deepest questions of our minds and hearts.

Surely, there is a time to put away endless questions and to rest. There is a time to pause and simply to be grateful for the human journey of discovery. But when questions arise and they are not easily answered or dismissed, there is a space for them as well. Likewise, Jesus’s questions invite us closer to the One who created us to ask in the first place.

See Martin Copenhaver, Jesus Is the Question: The 307 Questions Jesus Asked and The Three He Answered (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2014), xviii. Copenhaver tallies eight direct answers from Jesus but notes, “whichever count you go with, it is an astonishingly small number.”

See John 5:6; Mark 10:36, 51; Matthew 16:15; Luke 6:46; Matthew 7:3.

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – Make It a Habit

 

Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. — Romans 13:11

Adapted from the resource Starting Your Day Right Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

The Word says that Jesus had a habit of going up the mountain to spend time with God. Luke 22:39 says, And He came out and went, as was His habit, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples also followed Him (AMPC).

Jesus formed a habit of communicating with God every morning.

It has been said that if you do something consistently for 30 days, it will become a habit. You can either make or break a habit by consistently doing the same thing. Follow Jesus, and form a habit of starting your day with prayer.

Prayer Starter: Father, I want to make a habit of spending time with You. You are my Source of help and strength, and I can’t have any real success in life without You. Help me to today to begin spending regular time with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – An Open Line to God

 

“And we are sure of this, that He will listen to us whenever we ask Him for anything in line with His will. And if we really know He is listening when we talk to Him and make our requests, then we can be sure that He will answer us” (John 5:14,15).

John, chairman of the board of deacons in a large, successful church, refused to respond – though hundreds of others did – to my invitation to be filled with the Holy Spirit by faith.

Following the meeting, he came to me in tears.

“I have dedicated and rededicated my life to Christ many, many times, always to no avail,” he said. “I didn’t dare respond to your invitation, because I knew I would fail again.”

I explained that my invitation was different. “God’s power to live a holy life and be a fruitful witness is released by faith, based on His faithfulness and the authority of God’s Word.”

When John understood this, he responded enthusiastically and prayed, asking God to fill him with His Spirit. His life was changed, as have been thousands of others as they have come to understand how to be filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit by faith moment by moment, day by day.

On the basis of His command to be filled (Ephesians 5:18) and His promise that if we ask for anything in accordance with God’s will, He will hear and answer us (1 John 5:14,15), we know that we can be filled with the Holy Spirit – as a way of life.

Bible Reading:Matthew 7:7-11

Today’s Action Point: I will humble myself before the Lord and tell Him that I want to live a holy life, that I want to be a man/woman of God. I will surrender the control of my life to Christ, turn from all known sin, and by faith on the basis of His command and His promise, receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit. By faith, I expect to live the supernatural, Spirit-empowered life in a moment-by-moment, day-by-day dependence on the Holy Spirit.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Fifth Sparrows

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Do we matter?  We fear we don’t.  In Luke 12:6, Jesus says, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?  And not one of them is forgotten before God.”  One penny would buy two sparrows.  Two pennies, however, would buy five.  The seller threw in the fifth for free.

Society has its share of fifth sparrows:  indistinct souls who feel dispensable, disposable, worth little.  It’s time to deal with the fear of not mattering, the fear of insignificance.  Why does God love you so much?  You are his idea.  And God has only good ideas.  Ephesians 2:10 assures us, “For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

Read More Fearless

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – A toothbrush can clean your teeth in 10 seconds

Do you need a toothbrush that cleans your teeth in ten seconds? Or luggage that follows you, a “smart” trash can, or a car that talks to other cars?

Perhaps you’re in the market for a toilet with a heated seat, flushing, and “dynamic” lighting you can all control by voice. These are just some of the innovations being premiered at the Consumer Electronics Show, which begins tomorrow in Las Vegas.

Humans are capable of astounding achievements, as last week’s flyby of an object four billion miles from Earth demonstrated. Think about the advances we’ve seen in the last century.

Now think about the wars and conflicts we’ve seen since the “war to end all wars” ended in 1918.

Our remarkable capacity for good stems from a single biblical fact. Our horrific capacity for evil stems from ignoring this fact.

Only nine nations have a higher reported abortion rate than the US

“Shout Your Abortion” founder Amelia Bonow recently released a video of her talking with young children about her abortion. She explains to them that doctors “suck the pregnancy out” and compares the procedure to going to the dentist.

Continue reading Denison Forum – A toothbrush can clean your teeth in 10 seconds