Charles Stanley – Praying in Jesus’ Name

 

John 16:23-33

Do you remember the teaching Jesus introduced the night before His death? He told His followers, “Whatever you ask in My name the Father will give you” (John 15:16 NIV, emphasis added). Praying in the name of Christ declares our:

Association with the Savior. Our relationship with Jesus allows us to approach the Father. We used to be foreigners, but at salvation, we became God’s children through the redemptive work of the Son of God (Eph. 2:19). The Holy Spirit within us proves we belong to the Father, who listens to the requests of His family.

Access to the Father. Jesus’ death opened an immediate, unhindered path to the Father’s presence. When the Savior offered Himself as the final priestly sacrifice (Heb. 7:26-28), the temple veil that separated the Holy of Holies from man was torn in two (Mark 15:38). In that moment, access to God became available to all who believe. Through the Holy Spirit, we can talk to God directly without a human intermediary (Eph. 2:18).

Because of our Savior Jesus Christ, we can freely access our heavenly Father. Let’s give Him thanks for the remarkable privilege of prayer!

Bible in One Year: Exodus 16-18

 

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Our Daily Bread — Where Are You Headed?

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Exodus 1–3
  • Matthew 14:1–21

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!”

2 Samuel 12:7

Today’s Scripture & Insight:2 Samuel 12:1–14

In northern Thailand, the Wild Boars youth soccer team decided to explore a cave together. After an hour they turned to go back and found that the entrance to the cave was flooded. Rising water pushed them deeper into the cave, day after day, until they were finally trapped more than two miles (four kilometers) inside. When they were heroically rescued two weeks later, many wondered how they had become so hopelessly trapped. Answer: one step at a time.

In Israel, Nathan confronted David for killing his loyal soldier, Uriah. How did the man “after [God’s] own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14) become guilty of murder? One step at a time. David didn’t go from zero to murder in one afternoon. He warmed up to it, over time, as one bad decision bled into others. It started with a second glance that turned into a lustful stare. He abused his kingly power by sending for Bathsheba, then tried to cover up her pregnancy by calling her husband home from the front. When Uriah refused to visit his wife while his comrades were at war, David decided he would have to die.

We may not be guilty of murder or trapped in a cave of our own making, but we’re either moving toward Jesus or toward trouble. Big problems don’t develop overnight. They break upon us gradually, one step at a time.

By: Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

What decision can you make right now to move toward Jesus and away from trouble? What must you do to confirm this decision?

Jesus, I’m running to You!

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – When Forgiveness Is Suffering

 

In four horrific months in 1994, at the urging of the Rwandan government, the poorer Hutu majority took up bayonets and machetes and committed genocide against the wealthier Tutsi minority. In the wake of this unspeakable tragedy, nearly a million people had been murdered.

In August of 2003, driven by overcrowded prisons and backlogged court systems, 50,000 genocide criminals, people who had already confessed to killing their neighbors, were released again into society. Murderers were sent back to their homes, back to neighborhoods literally destroyed at their own hands, to live beside the few surviving relatives of the very men, women, and children they killed.

Now more than twenty years later, with eyes still bloodshot at visions of a genocide it failed to see, the world continues to watch Rwanda with a sense of foreboding, wondering what happens when a killer comes home; what happens when victims, widows, orphans, and murderers look each other in the eyes again; what happens when the neighbor who killed your family asks to be forgiven. For the people of Rwanda, the description of the Hebrew prophet is a reality with which they live: “And if anyone asks them, ‘What are these wounds on your chest?’ the answer will be, ‘The wounds I received in the house of my friends.’”(1)

How does a culture bear the wounds of genocide and the agony of forgiveness?

For Steven Gahigi, that question is answered in a valley of dry bones which cannot be forgotten. An Anglican clergyman who lost 142 members of his family in the Rwandan genocide, he thought he had lost the ability to forgive. Though his inability plagued him, he had no idea how to navigate through a forgiveness so costly. “I prayed until one night I saw an image of Jesus Christ on the cross…I thought of how he forgave, and I knew that I and others could also do it.”(2) Inspired by this vision, Gahigi somehow found the words to begin preaching forgiveness. He first did this in the prisons where Hutu perpetrators sat awaiting trial, and today he continues in neighborhoods where the victims of genocide live beside its perpetrators. For Gahigi, wounds received in the house of friends can only be soothed with truth-telling, restitution, interdependence, and reconciliation, all of which he finds accessible only because of Christ.

In some ways, the work of reconciliation that continues to take place in Rwanda in lives on every side of the genocide may be difficult to describe apart from the cross of Christ. While it is true that forgiveness can be explained in therapeutic terms, that the act of forgiving is beneficial to the forgiver, and forgiveness releases the victim from the one who has wronged them, from chains of the past and a cell of resentment; what Rwandans are facing today undoubtedly reaches something beyond this.

While forgiveness is certainly a form of healing in lives changed forever by genocide, it is also very much a form of suffering.

Miroslav Volf, himself familiar with horrendous violence in Croatia and Serbia, describes forgiveness as the exchange of one form of suffering for another, modeled to the world by the crucified Christ. He writes, “[I]n a world of irreversible deeds and partisan judgments redemption from the passive suffering of victimization cannot happen without the active suffering of forgiveness.”(3) For Rwandans, this is a reality well understood.

And for Christ, who extends to the world the possibility of reconciliation by embodying it, this suffering, this willingness to be broken by the very people with whom he is trying to reconcile, is the very road to healing and wholeness and humanity. “More than just the passive suffering of an innocent person,” writes Volf, “the passion of Christ is the agony of a tortured soul and a wrecked body offered as a prayer for the forgiveness of the torturers.”(3) There is no clearer picture of Zechariah’s depiction of wounds received at the house of friends than in a crucifixion ordered by an angry crowd that lauded Christ as king only hours before. And yet, it is this house of both murderous and weeping friends for which Jesus prays on the cross: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Far from the suggestion of a moralistic god watching a world of suffering and brokenness from a distance, the costly, unsentimental ministry of reconciliation comes to a world of violence and victims through arms that first bore the weight of the cross. For Steven Gahigi, who facilitates the difficult dialogues now taking place in Rwanda, who helps perpetrators of genocide to build homes for their victims’ families, forgiveness is indeed a active form of suffering, but one through which Christ has paved the hopeful, surprising way of redemption. Today, wherever forgiveness is a form of suffering, Christ accompanies the broken, leading both the guilty and the victimized through valleys of dry bones and signs of a coming resurrection.

 

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

(1) Zechariah 13:6.
(2) Johann Christoph Arnold, Why Forgive? (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis books, 2010), 202.
(3) Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace (Nashville: Abingdon, 1996), 125.

 

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Joyce Meyer – Judged and Criticized

 

Rejoice and exult in hope; be steadfast and patient in suffering and tribulation; be constant in prayer. — Romans 12:12 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource The Power of Being Thankful Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

No matter what we do in life, at some point in time we will all face a level of criticism. But it is possible to learn how to cope with criticism and not let it affect your life.

We can be grateful for the example the apostle Paul set for us. Paul experienced criticism often, but he said that he was not concerned about the judgment of others. He knew he was in God’s hands and that in the end he would stand before God and give an account of himself and his life. He would not stand before any man to be judged (see 1 Corinthians 4:3–4).

You may not always do everything right, but God sees your heart. If you’re attempting to live for God and looking for ways to love others, God is pleased (see Matthew 22:37–40). Don’t worry about the criticism of others; God loves you. His love and approval are all you need.

Prayer Starter: Father, I thank You that I don’t have to listen to the criticism of others. You see my heart and You know my motives. I thank You that Your approval is greater than the approval of any person. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Sure Road to Faith

 

“So then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17, KJV).

Martin Luther said he studied his Bible in the same way he gathered apples. First, he shook the whole tree, that the ripest might fall; then he shook each limb, and when he had shaken each limb, he shook each branch, and after each branch, every twig; and then he looked under every leaf. He admonishes us:

“Search the Bible as a whole, shaking the whole tree. Read it rapidly, as you would any book. Then shake every limb – study book after book.

“Then shake every branch, giving attention to the chapters when they do not break the sense. Then shake each twig, by careful study of the paragraphs and sentences. And you will be rewarded if you will look under each leaf, by searching the meaning of the words.”

Seek to know the Lord with all your heart. While you may have no difficulty in worshiping the omnipotent God, you cannot really know God unless you study His Word. The one who spoke and caused the worlds to be framed is waiting to reveal Himself to you personally.

Faith is not given to those who are either undisciplined or disobedient. Faith is a gift of God which is given to those who trust and obey Him. As we master His Word and obey His commands, our faith continues to grow.

It is my strong conviction that it is impossible to ask God for too much if our hearts and motives are pure and if we pray according to the Word and will of God.

Every time you and I open and read God’s Word carefully, we are building up our storehouse of faith. When we memorize the Word, our faith is being increased. When we study or teach a Sunday school lesson, or hear a sermon faithfully expounding the Word, we are growing in faith.

Bible Reading: Hebrews 11:1-6

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will read, study, memorize and meditate upon God’s Word daily, knowing that in the process my faith will grow, for “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

 

 

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Max Lucado – See the Need

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

He sat near a gate called Beautiful.  The man, however, was anything but.  He couldn’t walk but had to drag himself about on his knees.  “Peter and John looked straight at him and said, ‘Look at us!’” (Acts 3:4 NCV).

The thick, meaty hand of the fisherman reached for the frail, thin one of the beggar. Peter lifted the man toward himself.  The cripple stood and began to shout, and passersby began to stop.  Peter explained that faith in Christ leads to a clean slate with God.  What Jesus did for the legs of the cripple, he does for our soul.  We’re made brand-new!

An honest look led to a helping hand that led to a conversation about eternity.  Works done in God’s name long outlive our earthly life.  Let’s be the people who stop at the gate.  Let’s look at the face until we see the person.

Read more Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make a Difference

 

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – The impeachment trial as a Rorschach test: Three rules of engagement for Christians

President Trump is speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos this morning. Meanwhile, the Senate is preparing to launch only the third impeachment trial of a president in history.

According to a recent Gallup poll, 51 percent of Americans would like the Senate to vote against conviction, while 46 percent want the Senate to convict the president and remove him from office. Unsurprisingly, 93 percent of Republicans are opposed to convicting the president, while 84 percent of Democrats are in favor of doing so.

These positions reflect the president’s overall popularity: 88 percent of Republicans approve of the job he is doing, while only 10 percent of Democrats agree.

A Rorschach test for our country

Hermann Rorschach developed the instrument that bears his name in 1921 after noting that schizophrenia patients often interpreted the things they saw in unusual ways.

The participant is shown a series of ten inkblot cards and asked to describe what they see. However, there are no objectively correct answers. What we see says more about us than about the inkblots we are interpreting.

Impeachment functions in much the same way in our culture today. It would be difficult to live in America without having an opinion about President Trump. A statistical analysis found that the media has given three times as much airtime to his presidency as to President Obama’s. Our culture seems to be consumed daily with who he is and what he does.

Predictably, those who support the president believe the evidence supports his acquittal. Those who oppose him believe the evidence supports his conviction.

We can discuss this issue as long as we wish, but few seem open to changing their minds about President Trump. However, the way Christians discuss this divisive issue can change how people see our Lord.

Just as the US Senate is following rules of engagement for the weeks to come, so should followers of Jesus. Let’s consider three biblical principles today.

One: Focus on eternity

There have been nineteen impeachment trials in US history—fifteen for federal judges, one for a senator, one for a Cabinet officer, and two for presidents. President Johnson’s 1868 trial took nearly two months; President Clinton’s 1999 trial lasted about one month.

However long this impeachment trial takes, remember that your relationships will endure when it is over. And every person you know will spend eternity either with God in heaven or separated from him in hell.

As a result, we should filter everything we say about impeachment through this fact: we are “ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Helping people follow Jesus is our eternal calling and highest privilege.

Two: Speak the truth in love

Ninety-three percent of Americans say we have a civility problem. According to 63 percent of us, social media contributes directly to this problem. It is easy to be anonymous on social media, saying things about people we would never say to them.

By contrast, Jesus calls us to go directly to those with whom we disagree (Matthew 5:23–24; 18:15). Imagine a culture in which everyone chose “to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (Titus 3:2).

What if others slander us or our beliefs? “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31–32).

We should hold our beliefs strongly and defend them courageously, but we should do so “with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). “Speaking the truth in love” must be our mantra and mission (Ephesians 4:15).

Three: Build bridges with those with whom you disagree

The partisan divides in our country are wider and deeper than I have ever seen them. For example, the percentage of Democrats and Republicans who would be displeased if their child married someone of the opposite party has escalated tenfold since 1960.

At the same time, it is becoming easier than ever to curate the news feeds with which we agree, so that we hear and read only what we want to hear and read. The result is that we seldom engage positions or people with whom we disagree.

By contrast, Jesus befriended Samaritans (John 4) and Gentiles (Matthew 15:21–28). He called a tax collector by name and went to his house (Luke 19:5). And he called his followers to do the same (Acts 10:15, 34–35).

Who do you know with whom you disagree about impeachment? How will you build a relationship with this person for the sake of your continued witness and their eternal soul?

How to store up treasure in heaven

If Christians focus on eternity, speak the truth in love, and build bridges for the gospel, the Holy Spirit will use this chapter of American history to advance the kingdom of God.

Rick Warren was right: “The way you store up treasure in heaven is by investing in getting people there.”

How much treasure in heaven will you store up today?

 

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