Tag Archives: christianity

Charles Stanley – A God We Can Trust

 

Lamentations 3:22-23

Trust is a valuable commodity these days. The reason is because it seems to be in such short supply. Selfish ambition, greed, and a “look out for number one” attitude are all too prevalent; some people even find it challenging to trust themselves. In contrast, though, we have many good reasons to trust the Lord.

First, He is the one true God. There is no one else like Him (2 Sam. 7:21-22), and He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). His perfect will is changeless, so we never have to worry about fluctuating ethics or values.

Second, God is the very essence of truth. He does not stand under the authority of some cosmic list of “right” and “wrong.” Rather, He Himself is the very standard of comparison. And because He is truth, we know that He will never deceive.

Third, He has proven Himself to be absolutely faithful. As the Bible says, “The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is [His] faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22 -23).

Fourth, God is trustworthy because He has absolute control of every situation. Psalm 103:19 declares, “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.”

Nothing can prevent the Lord from achieving His perfect will, regardless of how difficult the situation may seem to us. Our very lives testify to His power and love. As God’s children, we can safely put our faith and confidence in Him, knowing that we will never be disappointed.

Our Daily Bread — On The Fringe

 

Philippians 4:10-20

God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:19

When butterflies hatch at Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, Michigan, they do so in an indoor tropical paradise perfectly suited to meet their every need. The temperature is perfect. The humidity is perfect. The food is a perfect balance of calories and nutrition to keep them healthy. No need to go elsewhere. Yet some butterflies see the bright blue sky outside the conservatory and spend their days fluttering near the glass ceiling far away from the plentiful food supply.

I want to say to those butterflies, “Don’t you know everything you need is inside? The outside is cold and harsh, and you will die within minutes if you get what you are longing to have.”

I wonder if that is the message God has for me. So I ask myself, Do I look longingly at things that would harm me? Do I use my energy to gain what I don’t need and shouldn’t have? Do I ignore God’s plentiful provision because I imagine that something just beyond my reach is better? Do I spend my time on the fringes of faith?

God supplies all our needs from His riches (Phil. 4:19). So instead of striving for what we don’t have, may we open our hearts to gratefully receive everything we’ve already been given by Him. —Julie Ackerman Link

All that I want is in Jesus;

He satisfies, joy He supplies;

Life would be worthless without Him,

All things in Jesus I find. —Loes

Our needs will never exhaust God’s supply.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Cross and the Cookie Jar

 

As a young man growing up in Scotland, like many others, I was exposed to Christianity and the symbol of the cross. However, it was a point of confusion, a mystery at best, and at worst, an object of scorn and disgust. I did not know what it meant or why religious people thought it important, but I knew I wanted nothing to do with it.

Obviously, I have had a change of mind. Why? I’ll explain as we proceed, but first, some helpful voices. Alister McGrath, Professor of theology, ministry, and education at King’s College, London, writes: “Just as God has humbled himself in making himself known ‘in the humility and shame of the cross,’ we must humble ourselves if we are to encounter him. We must humble ourselves by being prepared to be told where to look to find God, rather than trusting in our own insights and speculative abilities. In effect, we are forced to turn our eyes from contemplation of where we would like to see God revealed, and to turn them instead upon a place which is not of our choosing, but which is given to us.”(1)

In other words, nothing in one’s history, experience, or knowledge can prepare us for God’s means of drawing near. At the cross, something we are not expecting is revealed, something scandalous unveiled, something we could never have articulated or asked for is given to us. Philip Yancey, the renowned author, offers more on this:  ”Here at the cross is the man who loves his enemies, the man whose righteousness is greater than that of the Pharisees, who being rich became poor, who gives his robe to those who take his cloak, who prays for those who deceitfully use him.  The cross is not a detour or a hurdle on the way to Kingdom, nor is it even the way to the Kingdom; it is the Kingdom come.”(2)

I have come to realize that wrong ideas and images are responsible for much misery and disaster in our lives. And I think many of us have significantly distorted ideas about the purpose and meaning of the cross. When many people think of “sin” or the human condition before God, what comes to mind is perhaps something like the image of a child caught with his hands in the cookie jar. Such an image might well be understood as disobedience or maybe even naughtiness, but is it really that important? It is certainly not bad enough to justify extreme reactions. As a result of such a metaphor, our moral reflections on sin tend to foster incredulity or disgust. The response seems totally out of proportion to the offense.

But let us shift the metaphor. Supposing one day you go for a routine medical examination, and they discover you have a deadly virus. You did not do anything. You were not necessarily responsible, but you were exposed, and infected. You feel the injustice of it all, you are afraid, you are angry, but most of all, you are seriously sick. You are dying and you need help.

Whatever the cross and the gospel are about, it is not a slap on the hands for kids refusing to heed the rules of the cookie jar. It is not mere advice to get you to clean up your life and morals. It is not mere ideas to inform you about what it takes to be nice. It is about treatment, a physician’s mediation; it is about providing a solution and discovering life.

The cross may seem an extreme and offensive measure to the problem of sin and death and sickness—but what if it is the very cure that is needed? McGrath describes our options at the cross of Christ. “Either God is not present at all in this situation, or else God is present in a remarkable and paradoxical way. To affirm that God is indeed present in this situation is to close the door to one way of thinking about God and to open the way to another—for the cross marks the end of a particular way of thinking about God.”(3) Shockingly, thoroughly, scandalously, the cross depicts a God who throws himself upon sin and sickness to bring the hope of rescue miraculously near.

Some find it shocking, some overwhelming, some almost too good to be true. It is, however, for all.

Stuart McAllister is vice president of training and special projects at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) Alister McGrath, The Mystery of the Cross, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988), 104.

(2) Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew, (Grand Rapids:  Zondervan, 1995), 196.

(3) Alister McGrath, The Mystery of the Cross, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988), 103.

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning  “Have faith in God.” / Mark 11:22

Faith is the foot of the soul by which it can march along the road of the commandments. Love can make the feet move more swiftly; but faith is the foot which carries the soul. Faith is the oil enabling the wheels of holy devotion and of earnest piety to move well; and without faith the wheels are taken from the chariot, and we drag heavily. With faith I can do all things; without faith I shall neither have the inclination nor the power to do anything in the service of God. If you would find the men who serve God the best, you must look for the men of the most faith. Little faith will save a man, but little faith cannot do great things for God. Poor Little-faith could not have fought “Apollyon;” it needed “Christian” to do that. Poor Little-faith could not have slain “Giant Despair;” it required “Great-heart’s” arm to knock that monster down. Little faith will go to heaven most certainly, but it often has to hide itself in a nut-shell, and it frequently loses all but its jewels. Little-faith says, “It is a rough road, beset with sharp thorns, and full of dangers; I am afraid to go;” but Great-faith remembers the promise, “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; as thy days, so shall thy strength be:” and so she boldly ventures. Little-faith stands desponding, mingling her tears with the flood; but Great-faith sings, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee:” and she fords the stream at once. Would you be comfortable and happy? Would you enjoy religion? Would you have the religion of cheerfulness and not that of gloom? Then “have faith in God.” If you love darkness, and are satisfied to dwell in gloom and misery, then be content with little faith; but if you love the sunshine, and would sing songs of rejoicing, covet earnestly this best gift, “great faith.”

 

 

Evening “It is better to trust in the Lord, than to put confidence in man.” / Psalm 118:8

Doubtless the reader has been tried with the temptation to rely upon the things which are seen, instead of resting alone upon the invisible God. Christians often look to man for help and counsel, and mar the noble simplicity of their reliance upon their God. Does this evening’s portion meet the eye of a child of God anxious about temporals, then would we reason with him awhile. You trust in Jesus, and only in Jesus, for your salvation, then why are you troubled? “Because of my great care.” Is it not written, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord”? “Be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication make known your wants unto God.” Cannot you trust God for temporals? “Ah! I wish I could.” If you cannot trust God for temporals, how dare you trust him for spirituals? Can you trust him for your soul’s redemption, and not rely upon him for a few lesser mercies? Is not God enough for thy need, or is his all-sufficiency too narrow for thy wants? Dost thou want another eye beside that of him who sees every secret thing? Is his heart faint? Is his arm weary? If so, seek another God; but if he be infinite, omnipotent, faithful, true, and all-wise, why gaddest thou abroad so much to seek another confidence? Why dost thou rake the earth to find another foundation, when this is strong enough to bear all the weight which thou canst ever build thereon? Christian, mix not only thy wine with water, do not alloy thy gold of faith with the dross of human confidence. Wait thou only upon God, and let thine expectation be from him. Covet not Jonah’s gourd, but rest in Jonah’s God. Let the sandy foundations of terrestrial trust be the choice of fools, but do thou, like one who foresees the storm, build for thyself an abiding place upon the Rock of Ages.

John MacArthur – Denying Yourself

 

“I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed” (Dan. 9:4).

In Luke 18 Jesus told a parable to people who were trusting in their own self-righteousness. He said, “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, and the other a tax-gatherer. The Pharisee stood and was praying thus to himself, ‘God, I thank Thee that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax-gatherer. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’

“But the tax-gatherer, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’

“I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted” (vv. 10-14).

Apart from God’s mercy we cannot enter into God’s presence. The tax-gatherer knew that and pled for forgiveness. The Pharisee missed the point and went away without forgiveness.

Like the tax-gatherer, Daniel approached God with an attitude of confession and self-denial. He could have reminded God of his years of faithful service while in Babylon, but that didn’t enter his mind. He knew that in himself there was nothing to commend him to God. His only thought was for mercy for himself and his people, that God’s purposes could be realized through them.

As a Christian, you have the wonderful privilege of boldly entering into God’s presence “with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith” (Heb. 10:22). That privilege is rooted in God’s grace through Christ’s sacrifice and leaves no room for presumption or self-righteousness. Always guard your attitude in prayer so that you don’t unwittingly slip into a Pharisaic mentality.

Suggestions for Prayer: Memorize Psalm 117:1þ118:1 and recite it often as a hymn of praise to the Lord.

For Further Study:  Jesus had much to say about the self-righteous scribes and Pharisees of His day. Read Matthew 23, noting His scathing denunciations of their hypocritical attitudes and practices.

Joyce Meyer – Worship with Your Whole Heart

 

I will cry to God Most High, Who performs on my behalf and rewards me [Who brings to pass His purposes for me and surely completes them]! —Psalm 57:2

Great worship leaders know to come into the presence of God with their entire being, prepared to give thanks and praise (see Deuteronomy 10:12). They don’t just roll out of bed, throw water on their face, and run a comb through their hair before church. They know that the anointing comes from a sincere pursuit of loving God with their whole heart.

Likewise, as you approach God in the morning, come to Him with a heart full of worship, expressing your awe of Him for His faithfulness toward you. He promises that He will never forsake you, but will be with you all day long (see Joshua 1:5).

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Share His Treasures

 

“For His Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts, and tells us that we really are God’s children. And since we are His children, we will share His treasures – for all God gives to His Son Jesus is now ours too. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering” (Romans 8:16,17).

You may cringe, as I do, at the thought of suffering for Jesus. As He reminds us in Mark 10, anything we ever give up for Him will be given to us a hundred times over, with persecution. Quite frankly, I have never relished the thought of being persecuted. Yet, again and again, in my own experience I have known the reality of that supernatural presence of God, that peace that passes all understanding, during times of suffering and persecution.

Our Lord Himself, knowing that He was on His way to the cross, spoke of peace, love and joy more than at any other time in His ministry. The apostle Paul knew all kinds of suffering. He was in prison frequently; he was beaten, and he finally died as a martyr for his faith. Yet, even while in prison, he wrote of joy and peace – “Count it all joy,” he said. “Rejoice ever more.”

Philippians 3:10 records the desire of his heart: “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death” (KJV). Apart from the fellowship of His sufferings, Paul knew that he would never mature and become like the Lord Jesus Christ. “Adversity is the touchstone of character.”

All men suffer; however, the disobedient Christians and the unbelievers suffer far more than the obedient, Spirit-filled Christians, because most of the problems of life are self- imposed and when they suffer, they suffer alone, for they are on their own. But the Spirit-filled, obedient, faithful servant of God always knows the reality of God’s faithfulness.

Bible Reading: Romans 8:18-23

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Since it is my desire to be conformed to the image of Christ, to share His glory and His treasure. I will gladly share His suffering, knowing that He will be with me, ministering to me, caring for me, enveloping me with His love and peace. And I will share this word of encouragement with others who may not understand the faithfulness of God.

Presidential Prayer Team – Storytellers

 

Lacy was 19 and living on the streets of San Antonio, Texas when she encountered an old friend who told her the story of Jesus and how His love changed her life. Because of that conversation, Lacy invited Jesus to change her life. Today she is an accomplished speaker, telling her story to at-risk youth in halfway houses across America.

With great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Acts 4:33

Modern science is discovering new evidence about how distinctly “hot-wired” the human brain is for pulling meaning from stories. It seems facts quickly fade away unless firmly anchored to something. A heartfelt story stimulates a similar part of the brain where memories are stored. In other words, you remember a meaningful story almost as well as if it actually happened to you. It’s almost as if you could feel it, touch it – know it as your own.

When Jesus was alive on Earth He commissioned His followers to go and tell others about His story. In hearing of His love, they intimately relate to it so they can know Christ personally and experience His love as their very own. Be His storyteller…and pray for the power of God will be set loose to bless America in great and mighty ways.

Recommended Reading: Acts 1:6-11

Greg Laurie – Strength through Worship

 

“But the time is coming–indeed it’s here now–when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.”—John 4:23

When we worship on earth, we are in tune with what is happening in heaven. The Book of Revelation gives us this description of worship in heaven: “And they sang in a mighty chorus: ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered—to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing’ ” (5:12).

When we worship, it helps us to get things into perspective. The psalmist Asaph asked the age-old question, “Why do the wicked prosper?”

And then it dawned on him:

Then I went into your sanctuary, O God,

and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.

Truly, you put them on a slippery path

and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction. (Psalm 73:17–18)

Sometimes we don’t understand why things are the way they are. But when we come and worship, when we hear the Word of God, it helps us gain perspective.

When our son died on a Thursday, my wife and I were in church the following Sunday. People told me my faith was so strong. But actually my faith was weak. I needed help. I needed God’s people. I needed to worship God. I needed to hear a Bible study.

And the moment I walked in, I was surrounded by God’s people. I knew they were praying for me. It helped me gain perspective and see God for who He is and see my problems for what they are. Sometimes we have big problems because we have a small God. But if we have a big God, then we will see, comparatively speaking, that we have small problems.

When we are praising the Lord on earth, we are joining the chorus of heaven. And God is looking for people to worship Him in spirit and in truth.

Charles Stanley – Meditation: The Key to Listening

 

Matthew 6:5-6

Imagine yourself standing in the middle of a full auditorium, with thousands of people surrounding you. If every person there were speaking at the same time, would it be possible to hear any individual in the great crowd? Most likely, you’d be unable to distinguish one voice from another.

This same principle holds true with prayer. In our normal everyday lives, we are surrounded by countless voices in need of our attention. Our children cry for it, our employers demand it, and our loved ones yearn for it. With all of these bidding for our attention, no wonder God’s voice at times seems so muffled or distant.

Effective meditation requires seclusion. Unless we make an effort to escape our daily demands for at least a few moments, our ability to hear God’s voice will be weakened.

Our Lord was well aware of this need for isolation. In teaching about prayer, Jesus told the disciples to go into their rooms and close the door behind them. He knew it was vital to take a break from the pressures of life in order to truly commune with the Father.

The modern world works against this need, however. Mobile phones, e-mail, and other technological advances have brought us the blessing—and the curse—of constant communication and interruption.

At some point today, turn off the TV, cell phone, and computer, and simply listen for God’s voice. Your schedule won’t surrender easily, so make a decision to claim a block of time for the Lord. Then quiet your extraneous thoughts, and focus on Him. He wants to refresh you with time in His presence.

 

 

Our Daily Bread — Bumper Cars

 

Matthew 18:23-35

Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times? —Matthew 18:21

Life is a lot like “bumper cars” at an amusement park. You get in your car, knowing that you will get hit . . . you just don’t know how hard. And when you get hit, you step on the gas pedal, chase the one who has hit you, and hope to bump that person harder than they have bumped you.

That may be a fun strategy for bumper cars, but it’s a terrible strategy for life. When you get bumped in life, bumping back only escalates matters and in the end everyone suffers damage.

Jesus had a better strategy: Forgive those who have “bumped” us. Like Peter, we may wonder how many times we have to forgive. When Peter asked Jesus, “Up to seven times?” Jesus answered “Up to seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:21-22). In other words, there are no limits to grace. We should always extend a spirit of forgiveness. Why? In the story of the forgiving master, Jesus explained that we forgive not because our offenders deserve it but because we’ve been forgiven. He says, “I forgave you . . . because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?” (vv.32-33).

Since we are among those who’ve been forgiven much, let’s stop the damage and share that blessing with others. —Joe Stowell

Lord, remind us of how deeply we have offended You

and how often You have extended the grace of

forgiveness to us. Teach us to forgive others and to trust

You to deal with those who sin against us.

 

Forgiveness is God’s grace in action through us.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Court of Discord

 

Seized from the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was taken to the courtyard. Peter followed from a distance and watched among the guards as a makeshift trial unraveled. Mark describes the unfolding scene: “The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree. Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this man-made temple and in three days will build another, not made by man.’ Yet even then their testimony did not agree.“(1)

In this courtyard was a mob of witnesses. Priests, guards, and passersby—the whole Sanhedrin—made their ways to the scene. Testimonies were spouted from all angles, their statements contradicting one another, stories disproving other stories. We are not told whether Peter added anything vocally to this cacophony of dissenting and differing voices. Yet, to be sure, even choosing to stand in silence, he was still choosing a testimony of sorts. Later, he would offer that testimony in words: “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”(2)

Two millennia after this scene of witnesses at odds, we live our lives, no matter what we believe, in a similar courtyard. Here, with or without evidence, testimonies are shouted all around. Most not only disagree but contradict one another; some void of anything more than preference are presented nonetheless as if standing before a grand jury. We hear closing statements as vitriolic as the chief priests and as evasive as the man who once told his friend, “Some people like white wine, others like red. You like Reformed Christianity, my brother Hans likes the Seventh Day Adventists, I like no religion at all…[E]ach individual should be free to choose whatever is his or her personal preference, and we will respect each other’s choice.”(3)

In these days of preference and pedigree, our own witness is worth bearing in mind. For whether we are shouting like the chief priests or hiding like Peter, we are all bearing witness to something. The man in the corner watching Jesus’s trial with disinterest is still giving an answer to the question of the court. Whether offended, awed, or indifferent, the question we answer is the same. “What kind of man is this that even the winds and the waves obey him?” “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy,” asked others. “Who can forgive sins but God alone?”(4) The role of witness is as unavoidable today as it was in the courtyard hours before Jesus was sentenced to die. “We speak about God without opening our mouths,” says Albert Holtz. “What are the chances that by watching me a person can learn that God is love.”(5)

Voluntary or otherwise, at the heart of our role as witnesses is our answer to the very question Jesus embodies, “Who do you say that I am?” And while your answer is hopefully more than mere preference, it is worth realizing that we are answering with every ordinary moment of our lives. Some of the loudest testimonies are often spoken without words. Peter’s silence was equally a part of his three-time denial of ever knowing the man on trial.

Yet Peter also followed from a distance, his mind racing with both fear and love. We, too, are looking in on a great trial, sometimes participating, sometimes denying him, sometimes hearing our voices and with the shock of recognition, a rooster crowing in the distance. The courtyard is still full of witnesses at odds, sometimes at odds even with themselves. But you, too, stand a witness to something.

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

(1) Mark 14:55-59.

(2) Mark 14:71.

(3) Charles Van Engen, You Are My Witnesses (New York: Reformed Church Press, 1992), 4.

(4) See Matthew 8:27, Luke 5:21.

(5) Albert Holtz, Pilgrim Road: A Benedictine Journey Through Lent (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse, 2006), 121.

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning  “Ye must be born again.” / John 3:7

Regeneration is a subject which lies at the very basis of salvation, and we should be very diligent to take heed that we really are “born again,” for there are many who fancy they are, who are not. Be assured that the name of a Christian is not the nature of a Christian; and that being born in a Christian land, and being recognized as professing the Christian religion is of no avail whatever, unless there be something more added to it–the being “born again,” is a matter so mysterious, that human words cannot describe it. “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” Nevertheless, it is a change which is known and felt: known by works of holiness, and felt by a gracious experience. This great work is supernatural. It is not an operation which a man performs for himself: a new principle is infused, which works in the heart, renews the soul, and affects the entire man. It is not a change of my name, but a renewal of my nature, so that I am not the man I used to be, but a new man in Christ Jesus. To wash and dress a corpse is a far different thing from making it alive: man can do the one, God alone can do the other. If you have then, been “born again,” your acknowledgment will be, “O Lord Jesus, the everlasting Father, thou art my spiritual Parent; unless thy Spirit had breathed into me the breath of a new, holy, and spiritual life, I had been to this day dead in trespasses and sins.’ My heavenly life is wholly derived from thee, to thee I ascribe it. My life is hid with Christ in God.’ It is no longer I who live, but Christ who liveth in me.” May the Lord enable us to be well assured on this vital point, for to be unregenerate is to be unsaved, unpardoned, without God, and without hope.

 

Evening  “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty.” / Proverbs 18:12

It is an old and common saying, that “coming events cast their shadows before them;” the wise man teaches us that a haughty heart is the prophetic prelude of evil. Pride is as safely the sign of destruction as the change of mercury in the weather-glass is the sign of rain; and far more infallibly so than that. When men have ridden the high horse, destruction has always overtaken them. Let David’s aching heart show that there is an eclipse of a man’s glory when he dotes upon his own greatness. 2 Sam. 24:10. See Nebuchadnezzar, the mighty builder of Babylon, creeping on the earth, devouring grass like oxen, until his nails had grown like bird’s claws, and his hair like eagle’s feathers. Dan. 4:33. Pride made the boaster a beast, as once before it made an angel a devil. God hates high looks, and never fails to bring them down. All the arrows of God are aimed at proud hearts. O Christian, is thine heart haughty this evening? For pride can get into the Christian’s heart as well as into the sinner’s; it can delude him into dreaming that he is “rich and increased in goods, and hath need of nothing.” Art thou glorying in thy graces or thy talents? Art thou proud of thyself, that thou hast had holy frames and sweet experiences? Mark thee, reader, there is a destruction coming to thee also. Thy flaunting poppies of self-conceit will be pulled up by the roots, thy mushroom graces will wither in the burning heat, and thy self-sufficiency shall become as straw for the dunghill. If we forget to live at the foot of the cross in deepest lowliness of spirit, God will not forget to make us smart under his rod. A destruction will come to thee, O unduly exalted believer, the destruction of thy joys and of thy comforts, though there can be no destruction of thy soul. Wherefore, “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

John MacArthur – Praying with Fervency

 

“I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes” (Dan. 9:3).

People view prayer differently. For some it is a last resort after all human options have been exhausted: “All I can do now is pray for you!” Others liken it to a spiritual spare tire–something used only in the event of an emergency. Many who should thrive on prayer have been lulled into complacency by an affluent and godless society.

Daniel, however, saw prayer as an opportunity to express the passion and fervency of his heart to the God he loved and served. In Daniel 9:3 he says, “I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him.” That implies he set apart a specific time to devote to thoughtful, earnest, and fervent prayer. That is further supported by the way he prepared himself through fasting and donning sackcloth and ashes–symbols of humility and deep contrition over sin.

It might seem unusual for a man of Daniel’s spiritual stature to be overwhelmed by his sense of sin, but the closer one draws to God, the more aware he is of his sinfulness. We see that in Paul, who called himself the foremost of all sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). That might seem like a ridiculous statement to us but Paul saw sin for what it was. So did Daniel.

The title “Lord God” in verse 3 emphasizes God’s sovereign rule over all things. Daniel knew that God had permitted the Babylonian Captivity and that He alone could deliver His people from it. Consequently, Daniel gave the Lord his undivided attention as he prayed and sought mercy for himself and his people.

Daniel’s fervency is a rebuke to much of the flippancy we hear in prayer today. It was profound because it was generated by God’s Word and grounded in His will.

James 5:16 says, “The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (KJV). Be like Daniel–a righteous person who prays fervently with great effect.

Suggestions for Prayer:  Ask God to give you a greater sense of fervency in prayer.

Be sensitive to any sin that might be hindering your prayers.

For Further Study:  Read Luke 11:5-13.

What parable did Jesus tell to illustrate the benefits of humble, persistent prayer?

How did Jesus contrast earthly fathers with their heavenly Father?

Joyce Meyer – One Presses You Down, the Other Lifts You Up

 

I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide. I said, I will confess my transgressions to the Lord [continually unfolding the past till all is told]—then You [instantly] forgave me the guilt and iniquity of my sin. —Psalm 32:5

We must learn the difference between condemnation and conviction. Condemnation presses us down and manifests as a heavy burden that requires us to pay for our errors. Conviction is the work of the

Holy Spirit, showing us that we have sinned and inviting us to confess our sins in order to receive forgiveness and God’s help to improve our behavior in the future. Condemnation makes the problem worse; conviction is intended to lift us out of it.

When you feel guilty, the first thing to do is ask yourself if you are guilty according to God’s Word. Perhaps you are. If so, confess your sin to God; turn away from that sin and don’t repeat it. If you need to apologize to someone you have wronged, do it. Then…forgive yourself and let go of it! God already forgave you, and if you refuse to do the same, then you’ll miss out on the joy of redemption that God wants us all to experience.

Sometimes you may well find that you are not guilty according to God’s Word. For example, I can recall feeling guilty when I tried to rest. For years I drove myself incessantly to work, work, work because I felt good when I was accomplishing something and felt guilty if I was enjoying myself. That thinking is totally wrong according to God’s Word. Even He rested from His work of creation, and He has invited us to enter His rest. The guilt I felt when I tried to rest was unscriptural, irrational, and downright ridiculous. When I stopped believing my feelings alone and started truly examining them in the light of God’s Word, I stopped feeling guilty.

Trust God and His Word to reveal to you when your guilt is false and your thinking is wrong.

Trust in Him: What makes you feel guilty? What does God’s Word say about the situation? Stop believing your feelings that condemn you, and put your trust in His Word that convicts.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – No Longer Under Law

 

“So there is now no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

What an exciting fact! We are no longer under the law. We have been liberated from the bondage of trying to please God through our self-effort.

What is our motivation under grace? Under law our motivation was fear, and desire for reward and blessing; under grace, our basic motivation is an expression of gratitude – an inward appreciation and response to God’s love and grace.

Why do we do what we do as Christians? We should respond because we, like the apostle Paul, are constrained by the love of Christ. We live for the glory of God. You will remember that the apostle Paul had been beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked, starved, buffeted, criticized and condemned, yet he said, “The love of Christ constrains me.”

Even if there were no rewards for those who live godly lives and obey our Savior, the reward of knowing Him as our God and Father, being forgiven of sin and cleansed from all guilt, is more than just enough; it is unfathomable. We can know Him, love Him, worship Him and serve Him by faith – here and now!

A young man I know is writing a book on how to become rich in the kingdom of God. He is basing his theme on the rewards that will be his by winning souls. “I want to be rich in heaven,” he says.

That may be a worthwhile goal, but it is not mine. Mine is gratitude and love. I love Him because He first loved me – died for me, liberated me, set me free.

Bible Reading: Romans 8:2-6

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will sing praises and give thanks in my heart to the Lord upon every remembrance of the liberty and grace that is mine in Christ Jesus, and I will tell everyone who will listen that we are no longer in bondage to sin, for Christ has set us free.

Presidential Prayer Team – Fail-Safe Power

 

On July 13, 1977, New York City suffered a massive blackout as lightning downed major transmission power lines supplying the grid into the metropolitan area. According to the Blackout History Project, looters broke into stores, taking merchandise and destroying local businesses. Within two days, police had arrested 3,766 looters and the city had suffered an economic blow placed at more than $300 million.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. Acts 1:8

Christ’s grid for victorious living involves power, too, but not the kind lost with a lightning storm. Before Jesus left the Earth, He told His disciples not to leave Jerusalem until they had received the power of the Holy Spirit. “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” (John 16:13)

God offers the gift of the Holy Spirit to all who believe. You only have to receive it. Without that gift of power, you’ll be in the dark. You can’t have His light without power (John 8:12). Ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit and “speak the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:31) Then pray for your nation’s leaders to recognize the true power of God, and for it to be supplied into their lives.

Recommended Reading: Acts 4:23-31

Greg Laurie – Songs in the Night

 

The Lord will command His loving kindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me–a prayer to the God of my life—Psalm 42:8

Have you ever been awakened in the middle of the night and had a Christian song or a worship chorus going through your mind? If so, then that tells me you are laying up the things of God in your heart. Instead of waking up with the latest pop music in your head, you are thinking of a Christian song or maybe a Scripture verse. That is a song in the night God has given to you.

When Paul and Silas were thrown into prison in Philippi, Acts 16 tells us that “at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (verse 25).

The word “listening” that is used here is significant. In the original language, it means to listen very, very carefully. Another way to translate it is “they listened with pleasure.” There are some things that are not a pleasure to listen to—they are painful, like fingernails on a chalkboard. But this was pleasurable, like when your favorite song comes on the radio and you turn it up. Oh, I love this song! This is a great song! That is how the prisoners were listening.

I doubt they had ever heard anyone sing in that dungeon before. And I think just the fact that they were singing to the Lord was a powerful testimony. It was a platform for evangelism. You see, you can talk about trusting God in adversity, but when someone sees it in action in your life, there is an undeniable authenticity. It is a powerful witness. Worship can be a powerful tool for a nonbeliever to be exposed to.

When you are in pain, the midnight hour is not the easiest time for a worship service. But God can give songs in the night.

Max Lucado – God Gave His Best

 

Jenna, wake up.  It’s time to go to school. For four lightning-fast years she’d been ours, and ours alone. And now that was all going to change.  I knew it was time. And I knew she would be fine.  But I never knew it would be so hard to give her up on her first day of preschool.

Is that how you felt, God? Is what I felt that morning anything like what you felt when you gave up your son? It explains how your heart must have ached as you heard the cracking voice of Jesus say, “Father take this cup away.” (Mark 14:36).

I said good-bye and sent my little Jenna into a safe environment with a compassionate teacher ready to wipe away any tears. Yet, you Father, released Jesus into a hostile arena with a cruel soldier who turned the back of your son into raw meat.

God gave His best, the apostle Paul reasons. Why should we ever doubt His love?

Charles Stanley – Listening to God

 

2 Samuel 7:8-22

Of all the heroes in Scripture, few are spoken of as respectfully as King David. What made him so special? David himself wondered the same thing(2 Sam. 7:18) The best answer is simply that he was a man who listened to God.

Righteousness is impossible unless we listen to the Father. When we do, we gain divine guidance, direction, discipline, and encouragement. This was certainly true of the shepherd-king (Ps. 63:1-8).

In the Psalms, we get a beautiful picture of David’s prayer life. Note four things he did when meditating on God:

1. He reviewed the past. Though David had made some serious mistakes, those hard times produced a necessary humility. Looking back helped him remember God’s faithfulness.

2. He reflected upon the Lord’s character. When we focus on His attributes, we grow in our understanding of who He is. This results in a more personal, interactive relationship.

3. David recalled God’s promises. He knew the Lord had always directed his steps—and with great success.

4. He made requests of his heavenly Father. God never intended for us to go through life alone. He is always ready to act on our behalf.

Stop for a minute and think about how you typically interact with God. If prayer time is dominated by your own talking, some adjustments may be in order. Just as the Lord spoke to David, God also has many things to say to you, if you’ll simply let Him speak.