Charles Stanley –Having a Rich Prayer Life

 

Ephesians 3:17-21

Prayer is an amazing privilege because it involves conversation with our heavenly Father. Yet, if we are honest, there are times when it seems more like a duty than a joy.  This is especially true if we reduce our prayers to a formula or routine, which can deaden our desire to talk to God.

In today’s passage, Paul’s prayer is just the opposite—it is full of life, spiritual truths, and love for his Lord. He asked God to do a great spiritual work in the Ephesians’ lives and, by extension, in ours as well:

To gain a greater comprehension of Christ’s love for us. Although it’s beyond our ability to fully grasp the vastness of our Savior’s love, Paul prays that we will be so firmly rooted and grounded in this truth that we will become controlled by it and “filled up to all the fullness of God” (v. 19). Experiencing Jesus’ love motivates us to obediently live for Christ and enables us to care deeply for others.

To be strengthened with the Lord’s supernatural power. Paul both praises God’s matchless power and invites it into our hearts. The most important battles take place inside us—in our minds, wills, and emotions—and Paul wants to ensure that the power of the Holy Spirit will be at work in our lives. When we welcome His authority, God can use us in meaningful ways, and what’s more, we will exhibit the life of Jesus in fuller measure.

Although physical and material needs are important, the apostle’s prayers more often focused on the spiritual welfare of others. That is a good example for us to follow as well.

Bible in One Year: Acts 27-28

 

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Our Daily Bread — Fruitful to the End

 

Bible in a Year:

They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.

Psalm 92:14

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 92:12–15

Although Lenore Dunlop was ninety-four years young, her mind was sharp, her smile was bright, and her contagious love for Jesus was felt by many. It wasn’t uncommon to find her in the company of the youth of our church; her presence and participation were sources of joy and encouragement. Lenore’s life was so vibrant that her death caught us off guard. Like a powerful runner, she sprinted across life’s finish line. Her energy and zeal were such that, just days before her death, she completed a sixteen-week course that focused on taking the message of Jesus to the peoples of the world.

The fruitful, God-honoring life of Lenore illustrates what’s seen in Psalm 92:12–15. This psalm describes the budding, blossoming, and fruit-bearing of those whose lives are rooted in a right relationship with God (vv. 12–13). The two trees pictured were valued for their fruit and wood, respectively; with these the psalmist captures a sense of vitality, prosperity, and usefulness. When we see in our lives the budding and blossoming fruit of loving, sharing, helping, and leading others to Christ, we should rejoice.

Even for those who may be labeled “senior” or “seasoned,” it’s never too late to take root and bear fruit. Lenore’s life was deeply rooted in God through Jesus and testifies to this and to God’s goodness (v. 15). Ours can too.

By: Arthur Jackson

Reflect & Pray

How does your life reflect the fruit found in a growing relationship with Jesus? What can you add or eliminate to help you grow?

Father, give me the strength to bear fruit that clearly demonstrates that my life is rooted in the life of Jesus, Your Son.

 

http://www.odb.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – God Uses Sorrow for Good

 

“For God sometimes uses sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek eternal life. We should never regret his sending it. But the sorrow of the man who is not a Christian is not the sorrow of true repentance and does not prevent eternal death.” (II Corinthians 7:10).

Frank often referred to himself proudly as a self-made man. He bragged that in his youth he had been so poor he didn’t have two nickels to rub together. Now his real estate holdings and various business enterprises were worth tens of millions of dollars. He was a pillar in the community, able to give generously to civic and philanthropic causes.  His philosophy was that there was no God, and every man had to make it on his own. He laughed at the weaklings who needed the crutch of church.

Then his world began to fall apart. His only son was sent to prison for pushing drugs. His daughter had an automobile accident that left her partially paralyzed for life; and his wife, whom he had largely ignored for years, announced she was in love with someone else and demanded a divorce. Meanwhile, because he had become lax in his business dealings, one of his partners embezzled several million dollars from him.

By this time, he was devastated, and, therefore, was open to spiritual counsel. After the Holy Spirit showed him his spirit of pride and selfishness, he opened his heart to Christ and the miracle took place. Now, he frequently quotes this passage: “God sometimes uses sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek eternal life.”

Though his son is still in prison, and his daughter still paralyzed, he and his wife are reconciling, and his heart is filled with joy and thanksgiving to God. He is no longer a proud, “successful” businessman, but a humble child of God, a servant who discovered the hard way that everyone needs God.

For every Frank there are hundreds of others experiencing heartache and tragedy who have not repented. Yet, God offers to all men and women the priceless gift of abundant and supernatural life.

Bible Reading: Proverbs 28:12-14

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I shall seek to live the full, abundant, supernatural life, walking in faith and obedience, so that God will not find it necessary to discipline me in order to bless me.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Our Prayers Are Not Graded

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Jesus downplayed the importance of words in prayers.  We tend to do the opposite.  The more words the better!  We emphasize the appropriate prayer language, the latest prayer trend, the holiest prayer terminology.  Against all this emphasis on syllables and rituals, Jesus says in Matthew 6:7, “Don’t ramble like heathens who talk a lot.”

There’s no panel of angelic judges with numbered cards.  “Wow, Lucado, that prayer was a ten.  God will certainly hear you!”  or… “Oh, Lucado, you scored a two this morning.  Go home and practice.”

Prayers aren’t graded according to style.  If prayer depends on how I pray, I’m sunk.  But if the power of prayer depends on the One who hears the prayer, then I have hope.

Read more Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – Pete Buttigieg now leads in New Hampshire: Biblical responses to the popularity of the first openly gay presidential candidate

Pete Buttigieg has “surged to a 10-point lead in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary,” according to a poll released yesterday. The New York Times reports that he also holds a “commanding lead” in Iowa’s presidential caucuses.

Buttigieg is a graduate of Harvard and studied at Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. He served in the military in Afghanistan, reportedly speaks eight languages, plays the guitar and piano, and is active in the Episcopal Church. His debate performances have displayed his obvious intelligence and grasp of policy detail. In many ways, he seems an ideal fit for many Democratic voters.

Buttigieg is also gay and is married to his husband, Chasten. An LGBTQ advocacy magazine named him one of fifty “trailblazing individuals who actively ensure society remains moving toward equality, acceptance and dignity for all queer people.” In their view, he is “reshaping politics and driving the religious right crazy in the process.”

How our society has changed on same-sex marriage

As the leader of a nonpartisan ministry, my purpose today is not to endorse or criticize Mr. Buttigieg as a politician. Rather, it is to note the degree to which his popularity highlights our society’s acceptance of homosexuality.

In 2004, 60 percent of Americans opposed same-sex marriage, while only 31 percent were in favor. Today, the numbers are reversed: 61 percent support same-sex marriage, while 31 percent oppose it.

By contrast, only 32 percent of non-evangelical Americans have “warm feelings” toward white evangelical Christians, the group most identified for its opposition to same-sex marriage.

A recent essay in the Wall Street Journal notes that 44 percent of Americans aged eighteen to twenty-nine say they identify with no religion; one of the reasons most cited by “nones” for their antipathy is that they “don’t like the positions churches take on political/social issues.” The author, a college professor, adds that some of the “issues” his students object to most often have to do with “women’s reproductive rights and non-heteronormative sexuality, especially same-sex marriage and transgender rights.”

A group of clergy prayed for a Planned Parenthood clinic

My purpose today is not to debate biblical teachings on same-sex relationships (for more here, please see my article, “How does same-sex marriage affect you?” (PDF) and chapters three and four in my book, The State of Our Nation: 7 Critical Issues).

Rather, I’d like to focus today on the confusion wrought in the culture by the conflicting signals Christians are sending on this issue.

Pete Buttigieg and his husband were married in the Episcopal Church. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, the Presbyterian Church USA, and the United Church of Christ are among other American denominations that either endorse or permit same-sex weddings. By contrast, most Baptist, Catholic, Anglican, and Pentecostal churches in America forbid same-sex weddings, as do the Presbyterian Church of America and many Methodist congregations.

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