Tag Archives: church

Charles Stanley – A Biblical Pattern for Prayer

 

Matthew 6:9-13

The Lord’s Prayer has been prayed by countless people, but Jesus intended it to be a pattern for praying, not simply a recitation. When we use it as a model and consider what each line represents, our prayers become more meaningful. As you go through this passage from Matthew 6, keep in mind its three parts:

First is an invocation, which honors the Father’s name, kingdom, and will (Matt. 6:9-10). God’s name encompasses all that He is, in the fullness of His attributes. His kingdom involves both His rule over us now and the promise of Christ’s millennial kingdom on earth. The accomplishment of the Father’s will in our individual life and in His plans for the entire world should be our prayerful desire.

Second is a section of petitions (Matt. 6:11-13). These include daily dependence on the Lord for our basic needs, a plea for forgiveness, and a request for His protection from temptations.

Third is a doxology, or praise, of God’s glory (Matt. 6:13). Emphasizing His sovereignty and almighty power over the earth and our personal lives, this closing segment reminds us that He is our Lord and Master.

From the beginning to the end of this prayer, God is the focus. Is He central in your prayers as well?

Bible in One Year: Psalm 39-43

 

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Our Daily Bread — Straight Ahead

 

Bible in a Year:

He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord . . . , not turning aside to the right or to the left.

2 Kings 22:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight:2 Kings 22:1–2, 8–13

It used to take the steady eye and the firm hand of a farmer to drive a tractor or combine down straight rows. But even the best eyes would overlap rows, and by end of day even the strongest hands would be fatigued. But now there’s autosteer—a GPS-based technology that allows for accuracy to within one inch when planting, cultivating, and spraying. It’s incredibly efficient and hands-free. Just imagine sitting in a mammoth combine and instead of gripping the wheel, you’re gripping a roast beef sandwich. An amazing tool to keep you moving straight ahead.

You may recall the name Josiah. He was crowned king when he was only “eight years old” (2 Kings 22:1). Years later, in his mid-twenties, Hilkiah the high priest found “the Book of the Law” in the temple (v. 8). It was then read to the young king, who tore his robes in sorrow due to his ancestors’ disobedience to God. Josiah set about to do what was “right in the eyes of the Lord” (v. 2). The book became a tool to steer the people so there would be no turning to the right or left. God’s instructions were there to set things straight.

Allowing the Scriptures to guide us day by day keeps our lives in line with knowing God and His will. The Bible is an amazing tool that, if followed, keeps us moving straight ahead.

By:  John Blase

 

 

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Joyce Meyer – A Deeper Level of Prayer

 

. . . Not My will, but [always] Yours be done. — Luke 22:42 (AMPC)

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

Asking God for what we need and want in the natural realm is definitely not wrong, but we shouldn’t have our main focus on those things. God’s Word says that He knows what we need before we ask Him (see Matthew 6:8), so all we need to do is let Him know that we’re trusting Him to take care of everything that concerns us.

After we ask God to meet our daily physical needs, we can focus the majority of our prayer time on talking to Him about our spiritual needs; things like spiritual maturity, developing and displaying the fruit of His Spirit, obedience, and walking in love, to name a few. We also have the privilege of praying for other people and being part of their victories. God is inviting us to a deeper walk with Him, and the closer we get to Him, the more our desires will become like His.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for hearing me every time I pray. Even though I have daily needs that I bring to You, help me grow into a deeper level of prayer where I can begin to hear and pray what’s on Your heart. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Gave His Son

 

“Since He did not spare even His own Son for us but gave Him up for us all, won’t He also surely give us everything else?” (Romans 8:32).

George was very faithful in his Christian walk. In fact, he had a little black book in which he recorded all of his activities for each day. These included daily devotions, note-taking, verses to be memorized, appointments to be kept and every activity of his life. Outwardly he seemed so perfect that I, as a young Christian, wanted to be like him. Then one day he had a nervous breakdown. As he told me later, the last thing he did before he went to the hospital was to throw away his little black book and tell his wife he never wanted to see it again. Without realizing it, he had become very legalistic in his relationship with God rather than accepting, by faith, what God had already done for him. while in the hospital he began to recall some of the thousands of verses which he had memorized through the years. It was then that he relaxed enough to allow the Holy Spirit to illumine his mind to comprehend the importance of living by faith.

As Paul writes to the Galatians in the third chapter: “What magician has hypnotized you and cast an evil spell upon you? For you used to see the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death as clearly as though I had waved a placard before you with a picture on it of Christ dying on the cross. Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by trying to keep the Jewish laws? Of course not, for the Holy Spirit came upon you only after you heard about Christ and trusted Him to save you. Then, have you gone completely crazy? For if trying to obey the Jewish laws never gave you spiritual life in the first place, why do you think that trying to obey them now will make you stronger Christians?”

I ask you again: Does God give you the power of the Holy Spirit as a result of your trying to obey His laws? No, of course not. He gives that power when you believe in Christ and fully trust Him. The greatest heresy of the Christian life is legalism; and yet, it inevitably seems to attract dedicated, committed Christians. They are happy to accept salvation as a gift of God by faith. But like the Galatians, they insist on earning their way thereafter.

We must never forget that salvation is a gift of God which we receive by faith. Nothing can be earned. If we believe God, we will want to work to please Him, not to earn His favor.

Bible Reading: Romans 8:33-39

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will invite the Holy Spirit to protect me from becoming legalistic in my walk with Christ. Having received salvation by faith, I shall claim each day’s blessings by faith as I live the supernatural life.

 

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Max Lucado – Preparing a Place

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

God’s purpose from all eternity is to prepare a family to indwell the kingdom of God.  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). God is plotting for our good. In all the setbacks, He’s ordaining the best for our future. Every event of our day is designed to draw us toward our God and our destiny.

When people junk you in the pit, God can use it for good. When family members sell you out, God will recycle the pain. Falsely accused?  Utterly abandoned?  You may stumble but you will not fall. You will get through this! Not because you are strong, but because God is. Not because you are big, but because God is. Not because you are good, but because God is. He has a place prepared for you!

Read more You’ll Get Through This: Hope and Help for Turbulent Times

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Nation’s largest Protestant denomination elects first African American chairman: How advocacy can change our culture

 

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) was founded in 1845. Slavery played a significant role in its formation, a fact for which the denomination has expressed great remorse.

In a resolution adopted on its 150th anniversary, the SBC stated, “We lament and repudiate historical acts of evil such as slavery from which we continue to reap a bitter harvest” and added, “We apologize to all African Americans for condoning and/or perpetuating individual and systemic racism in our lifetime.”

The denomination further stated, “We ask forgiveness from our African American brothers and sisters,” and then committed to “pursuing racial reconciliation in all our relationships.”

Now the nation’s largest Protestant denomination has taken a significant step in this pursuit. The SBC’s Executive Committee, the group that runs the business of the denomination outside its annual meetings, has elected its first African American chairman.

Rev. Rolland Slade, senior pastor of Meridian Baptist Church in El Cajon, California, was elected unanimously in what the outgoing chairman called a “wonderful and historic moment.” He was previously vice chairman of the committee and chair of its Cooperative Program Committee.

How Tony Evans and Robert Morris are making a difference 

I became a Christian through the outreach of a Southern Baptist church and graduated from a Southern Baptist seminary. While Denison Forum is nondenominational, I will forever be grateful for the contributions made by Southern Baptists to my faith and life.

But I have never been as proud of Southern Baptists as I am today. Nor have I been more committed to their goal of “pursuing racial reconciliation in all our relationships.”

To that end, this week we have been answering Benjamin Watson’s call to respond to racial injustice with awareness, advocacy, and action. Yesterday we discussed awareness, examining the history of racism in American culture and asking God to reveal any vestige of this sin in our lives.

Today, let’s focus on advocacy, defined by Merriam-Webster as “the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal.” We practice advocacy when we use our influence in the service of a value or purpose.

The Executive Committee of the SBC practiced advocacy when it elected an African American chairman. Dr. Tony Evans practiced advocacy when he wrote a brilliant article for the Dallas Morning News stating that “the church must address racial, economic, health care, and opportunity inequity, as well as recognize the systems that work against the fair treatment of people.”

Pastor Robert Morris of Gateway Church practiced advocacy by talking with ministers of different races “to hear the stories from these precious men and women of God of the racism and prejudice that they faced and that their families have faced, their parents, their grandparents.” He adds that their tragic stories “will break your heart.”

His church’s website states, “We acknowledge the evils of racism and discrimination fighting so hard to tear us and our nation apart at the seams.” It adds: “While these issues can be difficult to talk about, we want to keep talking about them and empower you with resources to help you in your own conversations.”

Three steps to justice and truth 

The Bible calls Eve “the mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20). We are all created by the same Father and descended from the same parents. How can you and I be effective advocates for the value of every human being of every race as created in the image of God?

One: Identify your platform 

God has given you resources, abilities, and spiritual gifts that are uniquely yours. Ask the Lord to help you define your mission and influence in our culture today. (For more, see my latest Faithwire article, “Are There At Least 36 Intelligent Civilizations in Our Galaxy? Why Our Uniqueness Is Relevant to COVID-19 and Racism Today.”)

Two: Pray for God’s words and God’s heart 

Human words cannot transform human hearts, but God’s word spoken in the power of God’s Spirit will advance God’s kingdom in our culture and impact others for eternity. Ask the Lord to lead you to the biblical truth he intends for you to share with grace (cf. Ephesians 4:15; 1 Peter 3:15). (For more, see my latest Stream article, “How to Talk about LGBTQ Issues and Racism: Speaking the Truth in Love.”)

Three: Use your influence to stand for God’s inclusive love 

God called his prophet to “run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, look and take note! Search her squares to see if you can find a man, one who does justice and seeks truth, that I may pardon her” (Jeremiah 5:1). There is no justice that is not built on truth, and no truth that does not lead to justice.

Once you know your platform and you have prayed for God’s leading, look for ways to advance truth and justice in the lives of those you influence. And know that, however they respond, your obedience will bear eternal significance (Matthew 25:23).

The urgent question of the hour 

The hymn, God is Love, closes with these words:

Sin and death and hell shall never
O’er us final triumph gain;
God is love, so Love for ever
O’er the universe must reign.

What part of the “universe” will you influence with God’s love today?

 

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Charles Stanley – Biblical Characteristics of Prayer

 

Matthew 6:5-8

Prayer is simply talking with God. Yet with regard to consistency or how to approach Him, we sometimes struggle—especially when we’ve observed other Christians pray and assume theirs must be the “right” way. That’s probably how people felt watching the Pharisees, who’d corrupted this priceless privilege by turning it into a hypocritical, ritualistic performance of self-righteousness. In contrast, Jesus taught that God-pleasing prayers have the following characteristics:

Sincerity. Coming before a holy God should fill us with humility rather than a self-focused desire to be perceived favorably by others.

Secret. Although there is always a place for humble public prayer, we also need to have personal time alone with our heavenly Father.

Simple. The pagans often used meaningless repetition of words or phrases to get their gods’ attention and persuade them to grant requests. But since we know that the Lord always hears us, we can plainly present our concerns and petitions.

Serenity. Our heavenly Father loves us and knows what we need, so we don’t have to worry that He’ll ignore our prayers.

To follow Jesus’ guidelines, we must see ourselves as weak, dependent children coming to our loving Father for help.

Bible in One Year: Psalm 35-38

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Dancing Before the Lord

 

Bible in a Year:

Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume?”

Mark 14:4

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Mark 14:1–9

A number of years ago, my wife and I visited a small church where during the worship service a woman began to dance in the aisle. She was soon joined by others. Carolyn and I looked at each other and an unspoken agreement passed between us: “Not me!” We come from church traditions that favor a serious liturgy, and this other form of worship was well beyond our comfort zone.

But if Mark’s story of Mary’s “waste” means anything at all, it suggests that our love for Jesus may express itself in ways that others find uncomfortable (Mark 14:1–9). A year’s wages were involved in Mary’s anointing. It was an “unwise” act that invited the disciples’ scorn. The word Mark uses to describe their reaction means “to snort” and suggests disdain and mockery. Mary may have cringed, fearing Jesus’ response. But He commended her for her act of devotion and defended her against His own disciples, for Jesus saw the love that prompted her action despite what some would consider the impractical nature of it. He said, “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me” (v. 6).

Different forms of worship—informal, formal, quiet, exuberant—represent a sincere outpouring of love for Jesus. He’s worthy of all worship that comes from a heart of love.

By:  David H. Roper

 

 

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Joyce Meyer – Follow Peace

 

If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him.

— James 1:5 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Starting Your Day Right – by Joyce Meyer

Be careful when someone makes a suggestion that sounds good; not every good idea is a God-idea. Don’t rush into making a decision or accepting a new responsibility without praying about it first. Slow down long enough to ask God for wisdom, and listen for His guidance. Doing this before you decide will save you a lot of grief on the other side!

When you’re presented with an opportunity or a task, take a little bit of time to see if you have peace about the idea (see Colossians 3:15). If you have peace, go for it all the way. If you don’t have peace, you don’t even have to understand why you don’t have peace—just don’t do it!

Prayer Starter: Jesus, please help me be wise as I’m making decisions today. Thank You for promising to lead and direct my steps with Your peace. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Spiritually Minded

 

“For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:6, KJV).

I believe the truth of this verse may speak to a common cause of depression among Christians who allow their minds to dwell on ungodly thoughts and/or over-introspection.

Paul writes: “I advise you to obey only the Holy Spirit’s instructions. He will tell you where to go and what to do, and then you won’t always be doing the wrong things your evil nature wants you to.

“For we naturally love to do evil things that are just the opposite from the things that the Holy Spirit tells us to do, and the good things we want to do when the Spirit has His way with us are just the opposite of our natural desires” (Galatians 5:16,17).

Our minds are susceptible to the influence of our old sin- nature and, as such, can pose real dangers to us. As soon as we get out of step with the Holy Spirit and get our focus off the Lord, our minds begin to give us trouble.

“The Christian life is really simple,” I heard a pastor say recently. “It’s simply doing what we’re told to do.” And he is right. We will be spiritually minded, not carnally minded, if we obey the simple commands of God’s Word.

Bible Reading: Romans 8:5-11

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Through the enabling of the Holy Spirit, I will give the spiritual mind priority over the carnal mind in my life.

 

 

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Max Lucado – That’s God’s Job

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Seems too easy.  Doesn’t mom need to experience what she gave?  A few years wondering if she’ll see her daughter again, some pain-filled nights, a bit of justice.  Isn’t some vengeance in order?  Of course it is.  God cares about justice more than we do.  In Romans 12, Paul says, “Never pay back evil for evil.  Leave that to God, for He has said that he will repay those who deserve it.”

We fear the evildoer will slip into the night, unknown and unpunished.  Not to worry.  God will repay—not He might repay.  God will execute justice on behalf of truth and fairness.  Fix your enemies?  That’s God’s job.  Forgive your enemies?  Ahh, now that’s where you and I come in: we forgive.  You’ll get through this.

Read more You’ll Get Through This: Hope and Help for Turbulent Times

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – President Trump signs police reform order and Dr. Fauci predicts when we will return to ‘normal’: How awareness can lead to hope

 

President Trump signed an executive order on police reform yesterday. He stated that “chokeholds will be banned except if an officer’s life is at risk.” In addition, the federal government will provide funding for “co-responders” like social workers to help police officers deal with issues such as homelessness, mental illness, and substance abuse.

The order also mandates that departments share information on officers accused of abusing power. The National Fraternal Order of Police praised the president’s action.

In other news, Dr. Anthony Fauci told a British newspaper, “I would hope to get to some degree of real normality within a year or so. But I don’t think it’s this winter or fall.”

Two days that revealed the world 

March 11 was a day that changed the world. That was the day Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, announced they had been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and the day the NBA suspended its season.

Actually, March 11 was the day when the world became aware of a reality that already existed. A disease that began in China the previous year has now infected more than eight million people and caused more than 443,000 deaths as of this morning.

May 25 was a second day that changed the world. That was the day George Floyd died in the custody of Minneapolis police officers. The response to his tragic death has become a global movement to combat racism in all its forms.

Actually, May 25 was the day when the world became aware of a reality that already existed. African slaves were first imported into what we know as America four hundred years earlier. Racial minorities have been dealing with discrimination for centuries.

Awareness of racism in the past 

If you’re like most of us, you wish we were making more progress than we are on both fronts. To that end, let’s consider a call issued last Sunday by former New England Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson at an event he hosted called Boston Pray. As I noted in the Monday Daily Article, the hour of prayer, worship, and Bible study was remarkably powerful and hopeful.

At one point, Watson stated that to make progress on racial justice, we need awareness, advocacy, and action. Today and for the rest of this week, we will focus on all three.

Let’s begin with awareness.

Mark Noll is one of America’s preeminent church historians. A recipient of the National Humanities Medal, he has taught at Wheaton College, Notre Dame, and now at Regent College.

Over the weekend, I read his remarkable study, God and Race in American Politics: A Short History. He notes that many Europeans came to the New World with the firm belief that they were racially superior to the indigenous people they found here and to the millions of Africans who were eventually enslaved in America.

Slavery was legally abolished in the US with the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment in December 1865. The Fourteenth Amendment extended the rights of citizenship to African Americans; the Fifteenth Amendment extended to them the right to vote. But the racial prejudice that had empowered slavery remained.

Awareness of racism in the present 

Noll writes that less than a decade after the end of the Civil War, “the unleashing of lynch-law terrorism, the general lack of concern for black civil rights in the North, and the imposition in the South of Jim Crow laws to quash black political participation” were inflicted on the nation’s African American population. (“Jim Crow laws,” named for a black minstrel show character, were a collection of state and local statutes that legalized racial segregation.)

As Noll notes, the consequence was a functional repeal of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. It took almost one hundred years after the Civil War ended for civil rights legislation to ban racial discrimination and remove legal barriers to voting by African Americans.

Unfortunately, many white Americans think this legislation ended the problem of racism in our country. As African Americans across our country have been saying in the wake of George Floyd’s death, this is tragically far from true.

A yard sign offers transforming hope 

I am convinced that until our nation embraces our Father’s love for all people of all races, we cannot be the nation he wants us to be. Since “God shows no partiality” (Acts 10:34), we must reject all prejudice. Since he “made from one man every nation of mankind” (Acts 17:26), we must embrace all men and women as our brothers and sisters.

The good news is that our living Lord stands ready to empower us as we seek to make true our nation’s founding claim that “all men are created equal.”

As I was walking in my neighborhood this week, a yard sign caught my eye: “Hope is alive. Jesus is alive!” I noted on Instagram that because Jesus is alive, we have hope for our past, since Jesus died for our sins (Romans 5:8) and rose from our grave. We have hope for our present, since the living Lord is praying for us right now (Romans 8:34). And we have hope for our future, since Jesus will return for us (John 14:3) and will one day create “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1).

Here’s my invitation to you: Ask Jesus to show you if there are racial sins in your past, then repent of anything he brings to your mind and claim his forgiving grace (1 John 1:9). Ask Jesus to show you ways you can respond to racism in the present, then obey his call at all costs (cf. Romans 12:1–2). Ask Jesus to show you ways you can help build a more just future, then follow his Spirit’s leading (John 16:13).

I am joining you in all three prayers today in the assurance that hope is alive because Jesus is alive.

Who will experience hope because Jesus is alive in you?

 

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Charles Stanley – Strength for the Lonely

 

Isaiah 41:9-11

Loneliness is a painful emotion that many people fear. Paul knew what it felt like, so his life and letters can offer us encouragement when we’re lonely. Yesterday we saw how the apostle was motivated by the presence of Christ. Now let’s look at what fueled His courage.

First, Paul experienced the strength of God. Often, the Lord allows us to come to the end of our own ability so that we clearly see His hand. Otherwise, we would attribute success to our own doing. For example, the apostle was facing possible death charges in court, and it must have been tempting to water down the truth in order to save his own life. But God enabled him to be forthright in once again proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ—fearlessly, boldly, and effectively.

Second, Paul knew he was fulfilling God’s will. Despite his dire situation, the apostle found satisfaction, energy, and joy because he was obedient to God. The believer’s reality is bigger than what meets the eye in the imminent moment.

Remember, even in painful circumstances, three truths are certain: Jesus stands with us; He strengthens us for whatever task our Father wants us to accomplish; and until our final breath, He will enable us to fulfill God’s purpose. Be comforted and encouraged by these promises of the living Lord.

Bible in One Year: Psalm 29-34

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Just-in-Case Idols

 

Bible in a Year:

They have followed other gods to serve them.

Jeremiah 11:10

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Jeremiah 11:9–13

Sam checks his retirement account twice each day. He saved for thirty years, and with the boost of a rising stock market, finally has enough to retire. As long as stocks don’t plunge. This fear keeps Sam worrying about his balance.

Jeremiah warned about this: “You, Judah, have as many gods as you have towns; and the altars you have set up to burn incense to that shameful god Baal are as many as the streets of Jerusalem” (11:13).

Judah’s idolatry is remarkable. They knew the Lord was God. How could they worship anyone else? They were hedging their bets. They needed the Lord for the afterlife, because only the true God could raise them from the dead. But what about now? Pagan gods promised health, wealth, and fertility, so why not pray to them too, just in case?

Can you see how Judah’s idolatry is also our temptation? It’s good to have talent, education, and money. But if we’re not careful, we might shift our confidence to them. We know we’ll need God when we die, and we’ll ask Him to bless us now. But we’ll also lean on these lesser gods, just in case.

Where is your trust? Back-up idols are still idols. Thank God for His many gifts, and tell Him you’re not relying on any of them. Your faith is riding entirely on Him.

By:  Mike Wittmer

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Cost of Cynicism

 

“Why bother?” Have you been caught off guard by this retort…or perhaps uttered it yourself? The way of thinking goes: “There’s no use trying. This is just the way it is.” And such an outlook may seem realistic in the face of some insurmountable challenge. Indeed, we encounter this reasoning in Mark 5 shortly after a man named Jairus asks Jesus to follow him to his home to heal his dying daughter. Mark reports, “While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. ‘Your daughter is dead,’ they said. ‘Why bother the teacher any more?'” (v.35).

Given this ominous news, their rhetorical question appears entirely reasonable, though they surely show a lack of compassion for Jairus or an understanding of what has just taken place: Jesus was speaking with a woman who was immediately healed when she touched his garments. Yet what interests me further is the attitude often veiled in this question: resignation, cynicism, and false pride.

 

In the face of disappointment or despair our world may encourage a “Why bother?” attitude, but if we take a few moments to really consider this way of thinking we discover just how costly it really is. Moreover, it is anathema to the Scriptures and all that Jesus taught. In fact, Jesus’s response couldn’t be more revealing: “Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe'” Arriving at Jairus’s home, Jesus then ushers those cynically laughing at him out of the house and raises the child to life again before her father and mother.

Now we may reason, “That was then; this is now. Am I honestly to pray and believe that God is going to resurrect a loved one?” No, this isn’t quite what this passage is teaching, for such historical narrative first and foremost provides evidence that Jesus is God incarnate (rather than three principles for receiving an answer to prayer). However, the evidence of Jesus’s identity and power unfolds a very tangible application, and one that we find throughout the gospels. That is this: If God can really overcome death and raise someone to life, surely is God not also able to strengthen, heal, or provide for us in times of trouble? Furthermore, “if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you” (Romans 8:11). The question it seems then is whether we believe that this same life-giving power can be at work within us or whether we’ve resigned ourselves to “This is just the way it is.”

A widow without a family in first-century Greco-Roman society could have easily concluded “Why bother?” before a powerful judge who “neither feared God nor cared about men” and who refused her petition for justice.(1) Yet Jesus employs this very story to teach us about prayer. Refusing to believe that “this is just the way it is,” the widow persists in her cry for justice to the judge. “For some time he refused,” says Jesus. “But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!'”

David Wells comments on this parable: “Nothing destroys petitionary prayer (and with it, a Christian view of God) as quickly as resignation. ‘At all times,’ Jesus declared, ‘we should pray’ and not ‘lose heart,’ thereby acquiescing to what is.”

For “what is” is not always “just the way it is” if we will bother to pray and not lose heart. Yes, such fearless persistence and prayer is indeed costly, yet to counter “Why bother?” is surely costlier still.

Danielle DuRant is research assistant for Ravi Zacharias at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) See Luke 18: 1-8.

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Joyce Meyer – Wilderness Mentality

 

The Lord our God said to us in Horeb, You have dwelt long enough on this mountain. Turn and take up your journey and go to the hill country of the Amorites …. Behold, I have set the land before you; go in and take possession of the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give to them and to their descendants after them. — Deuteronomy 1:6-8 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Battlefield of the Mind – by Joyce Meyer

Those of us who are parents know these words so well: “In a minute. Just a little longer. Pleeease?” We call our children to leave their playing and come inside, but they want just a little more time to stay out with their friends. For now, at least, they’re content playing and don’t want to think about getting cleaned up or eating dinner. It’s always, “Just a little longer”—if we let them. And at times, we adults act a little like those children who cry out, “Just a little longer!”

I’ve met miserable people—people who disliked their lives, hated their jobs, or were in intolerable relationships with the wrong kind of people. They knew they were miserable, but they did nothing about it. Their actions were saying, “Just a little longer.” A little longer for what? More pain? More discouragement? More unhappiness?

Those are the people who have what I call a wilderness mentality. To understand what I mean by that, we need to talk about the Israelites as Moses led them out of Egypt. If they had obeyed God, stopped grumbling, and moved straight ahead like God originally told them, they could have made the trip in eleven days, but it took them 40 years.

Why did they finally leave? Only because God said, “You have stayed long enough on this mountain.” If God hadn’t nudged them into the Promised Land, I wonder how long they would have stayed and longed to cross the Jordan.

They were people in bondage. Although they had seen miracles in Egypt and praised God when the Egyptian armies were defeated at the Red Sea, they were still in bondage. The chains of slavery were no longer on their bodies, but they had never removed those chains from their minds. That is living in the wilderness mentally.

For 40 years, they grumbled. They had no water, and then God provided it for them. They grumbled about the food. Manna was all right, but they wanted meat of some kind. No matter what the situation, they were still mental prisoners. As they had been in Egypt, so they were in the wilderness. No matter how good things became, they were never good enough. They had forgotten all the hardships and slavery in Egypt, and every time they were frustrated with Moses’ leadership they moaned, “Oh, if only we had stayed in Egypt.”

They had forgotten how bad things were, and they had no vision for how good things could get. When they had the chance to move into a new land, they were afraid. “There are giants in the land,” they cried out. They had seen God’s deliverance in the past, but they weren’t ready for it in the present.

Finally, God said, “Okay, it’s time to move out.” The Bible doesn’t tell us much about their attitude at that moment, but I imagine they cried out, “Let’s stay just a little longer. Things aren’t good here, but we know how to live in the wilderness. We’re afraid to leave this place—we’ve gotten used to it.”

If you don’t like your life, but you won’t make an effort to change, you may have a wilderness mentality. If your mind is constantly filled with negative thoughts, they will keep you from moving forward into the destiny God has for you.

However, you don’t have to waste any more time—you can do something about it! You can say, “I’ve stayed long enough at this mountain. Now I’m going into the Promised Land—the land where I’ll live in victory and defeat Satan’s plans.”

Prayer Starter: Father, please help me completely throw off the wilderness mentality. Thank You for helping me replace it with the Promised-Land mentality, and to live in freedom through Jesus! In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Forgets Our Sins

 

“And then he adds, ‘I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds'” (Hebrews 10:17).

We were seated at the breakfast table, talking about the exciting adventure of the Christian life. Chuck and Mary were just discovering new facets and understanding of the life in Christ.

“Can you tell us in a few words what should be our objective as Christians?” they asked me.

In very brief summary, I replied, “The Christian life is the process of becoming in our experience through the enabling of the Holy Spirit what we already are in God’s sight, in order to bring maximum glory, honor and praise to His name.”

Christ gave Himself to God for our sins – as one sacrifice for one time. Then He sat down at the place of highest honor at God’s right hand. For by that one offering He made forever perfect in the sight of God all those whom He is making holy.

I am perfect in God’s sight, because in His sight there is no such thing as time and space. Let me hasten to all: I know that I am not perfect in my experience. That is a process which takes time, knowledge of God and His Word, and growth in faith in order to claim these truths as reality in our lives.

I am perfect in God’s sight because He sees me in Christ, and in Christ, who is perfect and without sin. He sees me without spot or blemish. Someone has referred to this great experience of being crucified, baptized and enthroned with Christ as a different life altogether. As we are reminded in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV), “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

Bible Reading: Hebrews 8:8-12

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Because God has forgiven and forgotten all my sins and lawless deeds. I will now, through the enabling of His Holy Spirit, receive His forgiveness and cleansing and never again be burdened with those sins of the past. I will claim my new supernatural life in Christ for the glory of God. Because this is such great good news, I will not keep it to myself. I must tell others.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Mature Truth

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Your family history doesn’t have to be your future. The generational garbage can stop here and now. Don’t give your kids what your ancestors gave to you. Talk to God about it, in detail. God, everyday I came home from school to find mom drunk, lying on the couch.  I had to take care of baby brother, do homework on my own.  It’s not right, God. Difficult, for certain.  But let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Let Him replace “childish thinking” with mature truth.

A dear friend of mine was called to identify the body of his father who’d been shot by his ex-wife. The blast was just another in a long line of angry, violent family moments. He made this resolution:  “It stops with me.”  And it has! God wants to help you—for your sake!  Trust Him—you’ll get through this.

Read more You’ll Get Through This: Hope and Help for Turbulent Times

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – Supreme Court ruling protects gay and transgender workers: Questions about religious freedom and three biblical certainties

“An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.” This is the conclusion of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch’s majority opinion handed down yesterday. The court ruled that “an employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII.”

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful “for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual . . . because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” The court, by a six-to-three margin, ruled that “sex” applies to homosexual and transgender persons.

When I saw the news, I thought immediately about religious liberty. Does the ruling mean that churches, Christian schools, ministries, and other religious institutions could be forced to violate our biblical convictions regarding gender and sexuality? If your church’s pastor declared that he was transgender, would your congregation be able to end his employment on that basis? Could a ministry refuse to hire a gay person on the basis of their sexual identity?

Let’s discuss what we know so far, then we’ll focus on three biblical responses to this issue.

“Questions for future cases” 

Jesus taught us to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21). A free church in a free state is the biblical ideal, a conviction protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Yesterday’s ruling notes the objection that “complying with Title VII’s requirements in cases like ours may require some employers to violate their religious convictions.” Justice Gorsuch writes: “We are also deeply concerned with preserving the promise of the free exercise of religion enshrined in our Constitution; that guarantee lies at the heart of our pluralistic society.”

Then he adds: “But worries about how Title VII may intersect with religious liberties are nothing new; they even predate the statute’s passage.” He notes that Title VII includes an exception relating to “the employment of individuals of a particular religion to perform work connected with the carrying on . . . of its activities.” (In other words, Christian churches cannot be forced to hire Muslim ministers, or vice versa.)

He adds that the court has recognized that the First Amendment can protect religious institutions and its ministers from the application of employment discrimination laws. And he cites the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, which “might supersede Title VII’s commands in appropriate cases.”

The court did not rule on this issue yesterday, since the employers whose cases it decided did not claim religious liberty infringement. Rather, Justice Gorsuch concludes that such religious liberty issues are “questions for future cases.”

In his dissent, however, Justice Samuel Alito warns that the ruling could have implications regarding bathroom access, women’s sports, housing, healthcare, employment by religious organizations, and freedom of speech. He believes that the court’s decision “will threaten freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and personal privacy and safety.”

Three biblical certainties

We do not know the full implications of yesterday’s ruling for religious freedom, but three biblical certainties are worth remembering today.

One: God creates us as male and female (Genesis 1:27; Mark 10:6) and intends sex for the covenant marriage of a man and a woman (Genesis 1:28; 2:18; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26–27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10). (For more, see my article, What Does the Bible Say about Homosexuality?)

Two: God loves all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. In a biblical passage censuring “men who practice homosexuality,” we also find these other sinners listed: the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers (1 Corinthians 6:9–10). Do you recognize yourself? The good news is that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). All of us.

Three: We must speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), no matter how unpopular that truth becomes. I expect yesterday’s ruling to escalate public acceptance of LGBTQ lifestyles, which will also escalate public condemnation of those perceived to be “intolerant” on this issue. But as the apostles declared unpopular truth to the religious authorities of their day (cf. Acts 5:27–32), so we must proclaim God’s word “with all boldness” (Acts 28:31) and “with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

In responding to yesterday’s Supreme Court decision, ethicist Russell Moore notes: “We can be the people who recognize that those who disagree with us are our mission field, to be persuaded, not a sparring partner to denounce. We must have both conviction and kindness, both courage and patience, both truth and grace.”

How to outlove our critics 

The enemy is using our commitment to biblical sexuality against us by inciting our secular culture to condemn Christians and Christian beliefs as bigoted and intolerant. The best way to respond is to outlove our critics.

It is to love LGBTQ persons enough to risk their rejection by sharing God’s best with them in compassion and humility. It is to love our lost friends enough to risk their rejection by sharing God’s saving love with them in the same way.

However, we cannot give what we do not have. Before I can share God’s love with you, I must experience God’s love for myself. Craig Denison notes: “We’re meant to love others out of the overflow of God’s love for us.” He encourages us to make time to meet with our Father today and experience his transforming love. Then we can “ask him for his heart for people around you, and follow through with courage in love.”

Craig concludes: “If you will make it your goal to see God’s heart proclaimed through your life, you will experience more joy and purpose than you can imagine.”

Will you make this goal your passion today?

 

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Charles Stanley – Courage in the Lonely Hour

 

2 Timothy 4:6-18

Today’s passage is about a painful time in Paul’s life. He sat in a prison cell, knowing that death was coming. After devoting his last years to teaching others and sharing Christ, he now was alone during his trial and imprisonment. Loneliness must have felt overwhelming. But he met the suffering with courage. What gave him the strength to endure?

For the apostle, Christ’s presence offered comfort and motivated him to persevere. He knew God was right there with him in the current moment, and he could also look back on previous situations when the Lord had clearly intervened. Years earlier, for instance, Paul had seen a vision telling him not to fear during a storm at sea. And though the ship ran aground, all of the men survived (Acts 27:14-44).

For those of us who know Jesus Christ as Savior, strength is readily available in His presence. Our heavenly Father promises that He will never abandon His children—even when everyone else has walked away.

If your circumstances leave you feeling lonely, call to mind times when God was evident to you and unmistakably revealed His hand in your life. Then read His Word so the truth of His presence can comfort and encourage you. As a believer, you are truly never alone.

Bible in One Year: Psalm 23-28

 

http://www.intouch.org/