In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – A Pattern for Prayer

Jesus teaches what to focus on in our prayers and encourages us to approach God with a humble heart.

Matthew 6:5-10

Are your conversations with God primarily a checklist of needs? Petitions are certainly appropriate, but prayer is also a time to focus on the Lord in love and worship. When praying to our Father in heaven, we should ponder three things that today’s passage indicates are important to Him: His name, His kingdom, and His will (Matt. 6:9-10). 

Hallowed be Your name. While the goal is to honor and exalt God, our prayers can easily become self-centered. This can be an issue in public prayer if we try to exalt ourselves in the eyes of others. But it can also happen privately when we focus only on what we want God to 

do. 

Your kingdom come. Praying for God’s coming kingdom means setting our hope on Christ’s future reign while submitting to His rule over our life now.

Your will be done. No matter how much we want the Lord to answer our prayers the way we desire, every petition must be readily submitted to God’s will. It is a way of acknowledging that His way is always best. 

The next time you pray, make a point of pondering the Lord’s greatness, exalting Him, and humbly submitting your will to His. 

Bible in One Year: Genesis 32-35

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Etch A Sketch Forgiveness

Bible in a Year:

As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Psalm 103:12

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Psalm 103:7–13

The little red rectangular box was magical. As a kid, I could play with it for hours. When I turned one knob on the box, I could create a horizontal line on its screen. Turn the other knob and voila—a vertical line. When I turned the knobs together, I could make diagonal lines, circles, and creative designs. But the real magic came when I turned my Etch A Sketch toy upside down, shook it a little and turned it right side up. A blank screen appeared, offering me the opportunity to create a new design.

God’s forgiveness works much like that Etch A Sketch. He wipes away our sins, creating a clean canvas for us. Even if we remember wrongs we committed, God chooses to forgive and forget. He’s wiped them out and doesn’t hold our sins against us. He doesn’t treat us according to our sinful actions (Psalm 103:10) but extends grace through forgiveness. We have a clean slate—a new life awaiting us when we seek God’s forgiveness. We can be rid of guilt and shame because of His amazing gift to us.

The psalmist reminds us that our sins have been separated from us as far as the east is separated from the west (v. 12). That’s as far away as you can get! In God’s eyes, our sins no longer cling to us like a scarlet letter or a bad drawing. That’s reason to rejoice and to thank God for His amazing grace and mercy.

By:  Katara Patton

Reflect & Pray

Why do you think God chooses to not treat you as your actions might deserve? How can you thank Him for separating your sins from you?

Loving God, thank You for forgiveness. Remind me that You no longer remember my sins.

Read The Forgiveness of God.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Worthy Examples to the World

 “Let love of the brethren continue” (Hebrews 13:1).

To be a testimony to the world, Christians need to live what they profess.

The nineteenth-century preacher Alexander Maclaren once said, “The world takes its notion of God most of all from those who say they belong to God’s family. They read us a great deal more than they read the Bible. They see us; they only hear about Jesus Christ.” Sound biblical doctrine, as important a foundation as it is, is inadequate by itself to influence the world toward Christ’s gospel.

Christians today could learn much from the early Christians, whose lives were such a rebuke to the immoral, pagan societies around them. Unbelievers in those cultures found it extremely difficult to find fault with Christians, because the more they observed them, the more they saw believers living out the high moral standards the church professed.

Christians in those days were obedient to Peter’s instruction: “For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men” (1 Peter 2:15). They also heeded Paul’s advice to Titus: “In all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, in order that the opponent may be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us” (Titus 2:7-8).

Jesus commanded His original disciples and us, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). Of course, Jesus had in mind good works that were genuine and that came from a foundation of good teaching. These verses ought to remind us, therefore, that doctrine and practice must go hand in hand. The author of Hebrews shifts naturally from doctrine and general exhortation to the specific admonitions of chapter 13. Love among believers is his starting point, and it should be ours as we seek to have a credible and worthy walk before the watching world.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to help you maintain a scriptural balance between doctrine and practice. Pray that He would correct specific areas in which you have been living out of balance.

For Further Study

Memorize James 1:25. Use a Bible with good cross references, and look up other verses that deal with “the law of liberty.”

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur 

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Embrace Your Passion and Give It Your All

The Lord has heard my supplication; the Lord receives my prayer.

— Psalm 6:9 (AMPC)

Every believer is called to talk to God and listen to His voice through prayer, but not everyone is called into the spiritual office of an intercessor. For example, I believe God has called Dave as an intercessor for America. He seems to have an “official” assignment from the Lord to pray for our country, a true burden for national issues and affairs, a longing to see revival in our land, and a deep, sustained interest in the things that concern the United States. He diligently studies American history and stays informed about what is going on in the government of our country. There is also an unusual fervor that accompanies his prayers. That’s what I mean by a person who functions in the office of an intercessor.

Since 1997, I have watched Dave pray and cry and bombard heaven on behalf of the United States. I do not weep over our nation the way he does, but that does not mean I do not care or that I do not pray for our leaders. It simply means that I cannot force myself to have Dave’s passion, because that passion is God-given. It also means that God is using Dave and me as a team; He has Dave playing one position and me playing another one. If I start to wonder what is wrong with me because I do not intercede the way Dave does, I end up under condemnation— and that will keep me from fulfilling what God has called me to do. But, if I stay confident in my position and focus on being excellent in it, our team wins every time. God does not assign everything to everyone. The Holy Spirit divides things up the way He sees fit and all we need to do is our part.

Prayer Starter: Father, direct me in the way I should go and give me whatever it takes to go the extra mile. In Jesus’ name, amen!

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –I Shall See God

In my flesh I shall see God.

Job 19:26

Consider the subject of Job’s devout anticipation: “I shall see God.” He does not say, “I shall see the saints”—though doubtless that will be untold happiness—but “I shall see God.” It is not “I shall see the pearly gates, I shall behold the walls of jasper, I shall gaze upon the crowns of gold,” but “I shall see God.”

This is the sum and substance of heaven; this is the joyful hope of all believers. It is their delight to see Him now in the ordinances by faith. They love to behold Him in communion and in prayer; but there in heaven they shall have an open and unclouded vision, and thus seeing “him as he is,”1 shall be made completely like Him.

Likeness to God—what more can we wish for? And a sight of God—what can we desire better? Some read the passage, “Yet I shall see God in my flesh” and find here an allusion to Christ as the Word made flesh, and that glorious beholding of Him that shall be the splendor of the latter days.

Whether so or not, it is certain that Christ shall be the object of our eternal vision; nor shall we ever want any joy beyond that of seeing Him. Do not think that this will be a narrow sphere for the mind to dwell in. It is but one source of delight, but that source is infinite. All His attributes shall be subjects for contemplation, and as He is infinite under each aspect, there is no fear of exhaustion. His works, His gifts, His love to us, and His glory in all His purposes and in all His actions, these shall make a theme that will be ever new.

The patriarch looked forward to this sight of God as a personal enjoyment. “Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.”2 Take realizing views of heaven’s bliss; think what it will be to you. “Your eyes will behold the king in his beauty.”3 All earthly brightness fades and darkens as we gaze upon it, but here is a brightness that can never dim, a glory that can never fade—“I shall see God.”

1) 1 John 3:2
2) Job 19:27
3) Isaiah 33:17

Devotional material is taken from Morning and Evening, written by C. H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg. 

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is Omnipresent

“The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3)

“Pretend I’m there and behave accordingly!”

Those were the words of a note Annie received in sixth grade. Her mom had gone on a long trip and had left that note to remind her that – even though she was gone – she expected Annie to act the same way she would have if her mom were still there.

Pretending her mom was watching her made Annie act differently. Sbe did her homework. She practiced the piano. She obeyed her teacher. She cleaned her room. She knew if Mom found out that she did wrong, she was in big trouble.

Did you know that God is always watching? He doesn’t go on vacation, and He never sleeps. He is in the United States of America, and He is in Africa, and He is in church, and He is in your bedroom – all at the same time. God is omnipresent – everywhere at one time. His eyes are everywhere, seeing the good and seeing the bad.

David, one of the many men God used to write down His words, said in Psalm 139: 7, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” In other words – is there any place where we can hide from God? David’s answer: no.

A child of God cannot hide from Him. God is watching us when we are scared. He protects us when we are in trouble. He holds our hand when we need help. He hears us when we cry. He is happy when we rejoice. He also knows when we sin, and He loves us too much to let us get away with it.

Know that God is there – and behave accordingly!

God is everywhere, seeing everything.

My Response:
» Will I behave differently today if I remember that God is always watching?

Denison Forum – Harvard study reveals the secret to long-term happiness

Harvard’s “Study of Adult Development” followed two groups of men over eighty years to “identify the psychosocial predictors of healthy aging.” Beginning before World War II, they interacted with over seven hundred men as they scrutinized blood samples, performed brain scans, and collated surveys.

According to psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, the director of the research project, “The clearest message that we get from this eighty-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”

However, as Dr. Waldinger clarifies, “It’s the quality of your close relationships that matters. Not the quantity.”

Here’s what the Harvard study overlooked: there is one relationship that is most crucial to our flourishing. According to a report published last month in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, “Anxiety or a lack of certainty about one’s relationship with the divine represents a threat to psychological well-being.”

Oswald Chambers turns out to be right: “There is only one relationship that matters, and that is your personal relationship to a personal Redeemer and Lord. Let everything else go, but maintain that at all costs, and God will fulfill his purpose through your life.”

Why is this?

“People will go a bit nuts”

The biblical answer to our question is clear: God made us in his image (Genesis 1:26) for personal relationship with himself (cf. Revelation 3:20). As the Westminster Shorter Catechism states, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”

St. Augustine spoke for all of us when he said to God, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you” (Confessions 1.1).

But what could I say to the person who discounts both the Bible and those who believe in its truth? An option would be to ask how we are doing in a culture that refuses to “rest” in God. How “restless” are our hearts as a result?

Andrew Sullivan summarizes the core thesis of a new book called Stolen Focus by Johann Hari: “Create a throw-away consumeristic civilization, break families into ever smaller units, add a tech revolution, online addiction, economic precariousness, breakneck social change, endless work, and the collapse of religion and meaning, and yes, people will go a bit nuts. They’ll become depressed; they’ll seek out escapes through opiates or meth; they’ll disappear down rabbit holes of online fanaticism; they’ll seek meaning through work or fame; they’ll tear each other down with glee; they’ll lose the skills for family, friendship, constancy, discipline, and love.”

“They all strive towards this goal”

Blaise Pascal (1623–62) was a genius. He wrote an essay on geometry at the age of seventeen that aroused the envy of Rene Descartes. Two years later, he developed the first digital calculator. He also invented the syringe, created the hydraulic press, and laid the foundation for the modern theory of probabilities.

Pascal’s understanding of human experience was as brilliant as his scientific expertise. For instance, in the Pensees, he observed: “All men seek happiness. There are no exceptions. However different the means they may employ, they all strive towards this goal. The reason why some go to war and some do not is the same desire in both, but interpreted in two different ways. The will never takes the least step except to that end. This is the motive of every act of every man, including those who go and hang themselves.”

He asked, “What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace?” Then he responded to his question: “This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words, by God himself.”

Pascal concluded: “God alone is man’s true good, and since man abandoned him, it is a strange fact that nothing in nature has been found to take his place: stars, sky, earth, elements, plants, cabbages, leeks, animals, insects, calves, serpents, fever, plague, war, famine, vice, adultery, incest. Since losing his true good, man is capable of seeing it in anything, even his own destruction, although it is so contrary at once to God, to reason and to nature” (Pensees 425).

“Embrace something with your heart”

God’s timeless word and today’s headlines agree: Humans cannot flourish apart from an intimate, personal relationship with our Creator. This fact explains much of the suffering in our secularized culture. But it also applies to you and me just as much as to any lost person we know.

If you have trusted Christ as your Lord, the fact that you have received eternal life through him does not guarantee that you are experiencing that life today. In fact, the opposite can be the case: we think that because our eternity is secure, our temporal lives need little spiritual attention.

The Harvard study is true for you: the quality of your relationship with Jesus is the single greatest determiner of your happiness and flourishing. Neglecting this relationship is indeed a “threat to psychological well-being.” But fostering it is the pathway to the abundant life Jesus died to give you (John 10:10).

Br. Curtis Almquist of the Society of St. John the Evangelist in Boston observed, “To believe is not ultimately to wrap your brain around some existential concept. To believe is to embrace something with your heart as if your life depended upon it. The English word believe comes from the same etymological root as the word belove, which is to hold dear, to love deeply.”

Do you believe in Jesus today?

NOTE: As we embark on a new year, I see on the horizon some seismic cultural shifts headed our direction. This is why I wrote my latest book, The Coming Tsunami, which releases on January 25. On this day, I’m also hosting a special virtual book launch Q&A, which I’d love for you to attend. So please pre-order your copy of The Coming Tsunami to gain exclusive access. I look forward to seeing you on January 25.

http://www.denisonforum.org/