In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Hindrances to Prayer

James 4:1-10

Is God answering your prayers, or does it seem as if He’s not listening? Hearing no reply can be very discouraging, especially when you really need His help. Although it’s not always possible to know why God is silent, James offers some possible reasons:

• Sin (James 4:1-2). Unaddressed sin hinders communication with God. This may have been the case with the recipients of James’s letter, who were quarreling and feeling animosity. 

• Wrong Motives (James 4:3). Sometimes our petitions may be self-centered. James clearly says that God won’t answer this kind of prayer, which amounts to asking for our will to be done rather than His.

• Worldly Desires (James 4:4). The world presents deceptive philosophies that lure us away from pure devotion to Christ. When we find more pleasure in its offerings than in Jesus, we are vulnerable and can easily be distracted from things that are of eternal value. Whether we realize it or not, this puts us in opposition to God.

If you recognize any of these hindrances in your life, the solution is clear: Confess and repent of your sinful attitudes, actions, and desires (1 John 1:9). Then thank God and rejoice in His cleansing. 

Bible in One Year: 1 Kings 18-19

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Our Daily Bread — Jesus’ Promise to You

Bible in a Year:

He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever.

John 14:16

Today’s Scripture & Insight:John 14:15–21, 25–27

Jason wailed as his parents handed him over to Amy. It was the two-year-old’s first time in the nursery while Mom and Dad attended the service—and he was not happy. Amy assured them he’d be fine. She tried to soothe him with toys and books, by rocking in a chair, walking around, standing still, and talking about what fun he could have. But everything was met with bigger tears and louder cries. Then she whispered five simple words in his ear: “I will stay with you.” Peace and comfort quickly came.

Jesus offered His friends similar words of comfort during the week of His crucifixion: “The Father . . . will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16–17). After His resurrection He gave them this promise: “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Jesus was soon to ascend to heaven, but He would send the Spirit to “stay” and live within His people.

We experience the Spirit’s comfort and peace when our tears flow. We receive His guidance when we’re wondering what to do (John 14:26). He opens our eyes to understand more of God (Ephesians 1:17–20), and He helps us in our weakness and prays for us (Romans 8:26–27).

He stays with us forever.

By:  Anne Cetas

Reflect & Pray

What do you need from the Holy Spirit today? How can knowing He’s always near help you?

How thankful I am that You remain always by my side, Jesus! I need You.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Becoming Pure in Heart

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8).

You have a part to play in becoming pure in heart.

Purifying a heart is the gracious and miraculous work of the Holy Spirit, but there are some things we must do in response to His prompting. First, we must admit we can’t purify our own hearts. Proverbs 20:9 says, “Who can say, ‘I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin?'” The implied answer: no one!

Next, we must put our faith in Jesus Christ, whose sacrifice on the cross is the basis for our cleansing. Acts 15:9 says that God cleanses hearts on the basis of faith. Of course our faith must be placed in the right object. First John 1:7 says, “If we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

Finally, we must study the Bible and pray. The psalmist said we keep our way pure by keeping it according to God’s Word, which we must treasure in our hearts (Ps. 119:9, 11). As we pray and submit to the Word, the Spirit purifies our lives.

That’s how you acquire and maintain a pure heart. As a result you “shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). That doesn’t mean you’ll see Him with physical eyes, but with spiritual ones. You begin to live in His presence and become increasingly aware of His working in your life. You recognize His power and handiwork in the beauty and intricacy of creation (Ps. 19). You discern His grace and purposes amid trials and learn to praise Him in all things. You sense His ministry through other Christians and see His sovereignty in every event of your life. Life takes on a profound and eternal meaning as you share Christ with unbelievers and see Him transform lives.

There’s no greater joy than knowing you are pure before God and that your life is honoring to Him. May that joy be yours today and may God use you in a powerful way for His glory!

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Lord for continued grace to live a pure life so others will see Christ in you.

For Further Study

Read Isaiah 6:1-8.

  • Describe Isaiah’s vision of God.
  • How did Isaiah respond to God’s presence?

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Set a Goal to Enjoy Every Part of Your Day

Therefore my heart is glad and my glory [my inner self] rejoices; my body too shall rest and confidently dwell in safety.

— Psalm 16:9 (AMPC)

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

There are dozens of things that happen during ordinary, everyday life, and we can enjoy them all if we just make a decision to do it.

Things like getting dressed, driving to work, going to the grocery store, running errands, keeping things organized, sending e-mails, taking the kids to practice, and hundreds of other things.

After all, they are the things that life is made up of. Begin doing them with an attitude of gratitude and realize that, through the Holy Spirit, you can enjoy absolutely everything you do every day of your life.

Joy doesn’t come merely from being entertained, but from a decision to appreciate each moment that you are given as a rare and precious gift from God.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for the gift of life, and thank You for every activity that comes with that gift. I pray that You will help me find joy in each part of my day as I live for You. I thank You that I can choose to enjoy even the average, routine parts of my day. In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Not Far from Home

. . . That through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death.

 Hebrews 2:14

Child of God, death has lost its sting, because the devil’s power over it is destroyed. Stop fearing death! Ask God the Holy Spirit to grant you an intimate knowledge and a firm belief in your Redeemer’s death, so that you may be strengthened for that journey. Living near the cross of Calvary, you may learn to think of death with pleasure and welcome it when it comes with intense delight. It is blessed to die in the Lord: It is a covenant blessing to sleep in Jesus. Death is no longer banishment; it is a return from exile, a going home to the many mansions where the loved ones are already living. The distance between glorified spirits in heaven and militant saints on earth seems great; but it is not.

We are not far from home—a moment will bring us there. The sail is spread; the soul is launched upon the deep. How long will its voyage be? How many weary winds must beat upon the sail before it shall be berthed in the port of peace? How long shall that soul be buffeted on the waves before it comes to that sea that knows no storm? Listen to the answer: “away from the body and at home with the Lord.”1 The ship has just departed, but it is already at its destination. It simply spread its sail, and it was there. Like that ship of old upon the Lake of Galilee, a storm had tossed it, but Jesus said, “Peace, be still,” and immediately it came to land. Do not think that a long period intervenes between the instant of death and the eternity of glory. When the eyes close on earth, they open in heaven. The chariots of fire are not an instant on the road.

So child of God, what is there for you to fear in death, seeing that through the death of your Lord Jesus its curse and sting are destroyed? And now it is like a Jacob’s ladder with its base in a dark grave, but with its top reaching to everlasting glory.

1) 2 Corinthians 5:8

One-Year Bible Reading Plan

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Wants to Be Your One Desire

“Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.” (Psalm 73:25)

Imagine that your grandmother has asked you to clean out her attic. You walk up to the top of the stairs and begin wading through old boxes and dusty furniture. You wonder what you should clean first.

Looking to your left, you see an antique trunk sitting in the corner. You walk over, lift the top, and peer inside. There, sitting on the bottom of the trunk, is an old brass oil lamp. You pick it up and gently rub the dust away.

POOF!!!!!

All of a sudden, a genie pops out of the lamp! With a deep, booming voice, he says, “Tell me your one wish and I shall make it come true!” What would you wish for? What one thing do you desire most? If you could have anything in the world, what would you ask for?

The writer of Psalm 73 wrote that his greatest desire in life was God. The psalmist realized that God is everything that he needed–light, salvation, strength, protection, comfort, and joy. There is nothing he desires more than God. The psalmist looked around at what others have–wealth, possessions, or friends–and realized that without God, all of those things are as twigs burning in a fire.

When you want something more than God, you are worshipping an idol. Now, you probably do not have a golden statue in your house that you bow down to, but when you want or love something more than God, it is just as though you are bowing down to it and saying, “you are my god.” The first commandment says that you should put nothing in front of God (Exodus 20:3). Instead, you are to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind (Deuteronomy 6:5).

What kinds of things are you tempted to put in front of God — TV, clothes, music, XBox, Playstation3, sports, shopping? You need to think about these things and ask God to take away those idols in your life so that He is your only desire. You increase your desire for God by reading His Word to learn more about Him and become more like Him. The more you know and learn about God, the more He will be your one desire. You want to be able to say with the psalmist, “there is nothing I want more than to know and love God.”

You must desire God more than anything!

My Response:
» Do I need to ask God’s forgiveness for wanting something else more than Him?
» What do I put in front of God?
» What can I do to increase my desire for God?


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Denison Forum – How will the Derek Chauvin trial end? Why we must pray before we post

Closing arguments were heard yesterday in the trial of Derek Chauvin following three weeks of testimony. It is now up to the jury to decide whether or not Chauvin is guilty of the charges for which he stands accused in relation to his role in the death of George Floyd: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.

For many, Chauvin’s guilt was decided as soon as the video of the tragic event went viral shortly after Floyd’s death on May 25th of last year. Chauvin’s fate, however, is not in the hands of the masses but rather in those of twelve of his peers. As such, what they decide over the coming days will reverberate across the nation and around the world in a way that may shape much of the discourse on issues of race, police conduct, and justice for quite some time.

In light of those potential repercussions, today I’d like for us to focus on how we can best pray for those on the jury, the crowds gathered in anticipation of their verdict, and for our fellow believers to respond in accordance with God’s sense of justice rather than our own.

Why only God can be truly just

Justice can often seem like an elusive concept in our culture. Rarely will multiple people look at the same event or the same outcome and come away with a unanimous understanding of what a just response would look like. And while there are many reasons this is the case—varying degrees of personal proximity to the issue, differing views on the need for grace versus accountability, etc.—the chief factor is that God’s justice is measured out according to a fair and accurate understanding of our sins. We, as fallen humans, lack that ability. 

The third chapter of Genesis offers a helpful example of this distinction.

In this chapter, we see God’s response to the sin of Adam and Eve. He addresses directly what they’ve done wrong, disciplines them in a way that reinforces the gravity of their mistake, but does so from a place of holy opposition to sin rather than a desire to see them suffer. 

Now think back to the last time you were hurt or witnessed an event that filled you with anger and the desire to see justice done. Were you able to respond as the Lord did, administering discipline in accordance with the sin committed? Or did your reaction cross that boundary and come from a place of anger or resentment rather than holiness and the desire for redemption?

If it was the latter, the reason is most likely that when anger leads us to action, the result is often akin to a volcano that has been building toward eruption over a long period of time. Whatever or whomever it is that finally leads us across that threshold to action is likely to receive more than their fair share of our wrath.

As Dallas Willard remarked, “The explosion of anger never simply comes from the incident. Most people carry a supply of anger around with them.” As a result, it is next to impossible for us to justly judge the actions of one person or a group of people when our response is likely determined, at least in part, by the unrelated actions of others as well.

Owning those limitations enables us to better understand why we need the Holy Spirit to help us seek God’s justice for a given situation rather than rely on our own.

Embracing that reality will be essential to justice being done with regards to the outcome and aftermath of Derek Chauvin’s trial as well. As such, let’s close for today by looking at three groups for whom we must pray in light of the need for the Lord’s justice to be done, both in the trial’s outcome and in the aftermath that follows.

First, pray for the jurors

The first group for whom we must pray are the jury members who will soon render the verdict that will ultimately decide Chauvin’s fate. Even without the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the trial, determining if the prosecution has presented a strong enough case that the accused should be found guilty would be a challenging task. When factoring in the outside pressure to come to such a conclusion, their job becomes immeasurably more difficult, even if Chauvin should be found guilty.

Couple that with the temptation to judge Chauvin not just for his role in the death of George Floyd but also as a proxy for other high profile police killings, such as with Breonna Taylor, and, more recently, Duante Wright. Limiting their judgment to the case at hand will likely prove a monumental task.

As such, we must pray that the Lord will give them the ability to judge rightly and fairly based on the evidence presented to render a just decision.

Second, pray for the crowds

And the same is true with regards to the crowds in Minnesota and across the country who have gathered in anticipation of the court’s verdict.

Many see the current trial as an extension of the larger, and often valid, problems with police conduct in this country. To them, Derek Chauvin stands accused not just of killing George Floyd but as a representation of the officers who either have already been acquitted or have yet to stand trial for their roles in the deaths of others. As such, their understanding of justice in this case may not line up with that of the Lord’s, even if their assessment of Chauvin is proven correct.

Pray not only that God’s justice will be rendered in the trial, but that it will prove satisfactory to the masses of people who already seem to have determined what that justice should look like. It is an essential responsibility for us today.

That responsibility, in turn, leads to the last point of prayer we must discuss.

Third, pray for yourself and fellow believers

As followers of Christ, we are tasked with being peacemakers in an often unpeaceful world (Matthew 5:9). It’s important to note, however, that being a peacemaker does not mean simply attempting to limit the presence of conflict in a given situation, though we should seek to avoid actions that would escalate it. Rather, it means being the embodiment of God’s presence and an ambassador for his justice in order to help others look to him for the proper perspective in a given situation. 

Over the coming days, it seems likely that conflict will escalate around the country and social media will once again be filled with people who feel the need to express their views on the situation. Our challenge as believers will be to pray before we post and make sure that we run any and all comments through the lens of Scripture and the Holy Spirit before they escape into the larger world. 

So as we conclude, please join me in committing to make prayer a priority throughout the day. Pray for the jury, pray for the crowds, and pray for yourself and your fellow believers. Do so any and every time the Lord places them on your heart or the news brings them to mind. 

Will you start right now?

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Upwords; Max Lucado –From God’s Perspective

Listen to Today’s Devotion

My last name has created some awkward moments. A woman said, “Max Lu-KAH-do, I’ve been wanting to meet you.” I let it go, thinking that was the end of it. But as she introduced me to a number of her friends, I smiled and cringed, unable to maneuver my way into the conversation to correct her without being rude. But then I got caught. A man said to me, “My wife and I’ve been trying to figure out how you say your name. Is it Lu-KAY-doh or Lu-KAH-doh?” I looked over at my friend who had been mispronouncing my name — I was trapped. I answered, “Lu-KAH-doh, I pronounce the name Lu-KAH-doh,” I told her. May my ancestors forgive me.

How can God be both just and kind? How can he redeem the sinner without endorsing the sin? It’s called the Cross of Christ, and that’s one phrase you want to say correctly.