Tag Archives: church

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Don’t All Religions Lead to God?

 

We live in a context of spiritual longing. Many people are searching for that which will satisfy an inner craving for meaning and significance. The artist Damian Hirst recently said this: “Why do I feel so important when I’m not? Nothing is important and everything is important. I do not know why I am here but I am glad that I am. I’d rather be here than not. I am going to die and I want to live forever, I can’t escape that fact, and I can’t let go of that desire.”

But this does not always translate into people finding Christ and starting to follow him. There is a dizzying array of options when it comes to religion, and the culture around us says that they are all equally valid. It seems absolutely bizarre to people that someone would say, “This one way is the truth and the only truth.”  The poet Steve Turner describes brilliantly what many think when it comes to religion: “Jesus was a good man just like Buddha, Mohammed, and ourselves. We believe he was a good teacher of morals but we believe that his good morals are really bad. We believe that all religions are basically the same, at least the one we read was. They all believe in love and goodness, they only differ on matters of creation, sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.”

In my experience, there are usually two motivations for dismissing the idea that Christ is the only way to God, and we need to examine them both. The first objection is that it is arrogant to say that Jesus is the only way. How could Christians possibly be so arrogant as to say that all the other religions are wrong and Jesus is the only path to God? Often the parable of the elephant is used to illustrate the sheer arrogance of Christianity. It goes something like this: “Three blind scribes are touching different parts of an elephant. The one who is holding the tail says, “This is a rope.” Another holding the elephant’s leg says, “This is not a rope; you are wrong. It is a tree.” Still another who is holding the trunk of the elephant says, “You are both wrong. It is a snake!” The moral of the story is that all religions are like these men. They each touch a different part of ultimate reality and therefore any one of them is arrogant to say they have the whole truth.

But take a step back and think about what is being said here. Do you see the breathtaking claim that is being made? Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Moses, and Muhammad are all blind, but in fact, I can see! These leaders all had a small perspective, but I am the one who sees the full picture. Now who is being arrogant? It is just as arrogant to say that Buddha, Muhammad, and Jesus were all wrong in their exclusive claims as it is to say that Jesus is the only way. The issue is not about who is arrogant, but what is actually true and real.

The second motivation in dismissing Christ is often a question of exclusion. How can you exclude all of these religions? Jesus may have said he was the way to the Father, but how can I follow him and become an intolerant person who excludes others? Again, we need to think carefully about this view because the reality is that whatever position we hold will exclude something. Even the person who believes that all ways lead to God excludes the view that only some ways lead to God or that only one way leads to God. Every view excludes something. Again, the issue is not about who is excluding people, but what is actually true and real.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except by me” (John 14:6). There are a number of possibilities here for why he might have said this, and exploring these possibilities is crucial. First, perhaps he was genuinely a good person but he was deluded.  He was sincere, but he was wrong; he believed that he was the Son of God, but he wasn’t. In other words, he was mentally imbalanced. Or second, perhaps Jesus knew he wasn’t God but went around telling people that he was the only way to God regardless. In other words, he was a sinister character purposely telling lies. Or finally, perhaps Jesus was who he said he was. Perhaps he made these radical statements because they were true and real. In other words, he is indeed the way to God.

Amy Orr-Ewing is  is director of programmes for the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics and UK director for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Oxford, England.

Alistair Begg – Bruised and Broken

 

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.  Psalm 22:14

Did earth or heaven ever witness a sadder spectacle than this? In soul and body, our Lord felt Himself to be weak as water poured upon the ground. The placing of the cross in its socket had shaken Him with great violence, had strained all the ligaments, pained every nerve, and more or less dislocated all His bones. Burdened by His own weight, the impressive sufferer felt the strain increasing every moment of those six long hours. His sense of faintness and general weakness were overpowering, and He felt Himself to be nothing but a mass of misery and swooning sickness.

When Daniel saw the great vision, he describes his sensations in this way: “No strength was left in me. My radiant appearance was fearfully changed, and I retained no strength.”1 How much more devastating must it have been for Jesus when He saw the dreadful vision of the wrath of God and felt it in His own soul! Sensations that our Lord endured, we could not have faced, and unconsciousness would have had to come to our rescue. In His case He was wounded and felt the sword; He drained the cup and tasted every drop.

O King of Grief! (a title strange, but true,

To Thee of all kings only due)

O King of Wounds! how shall I grieve for Thee,

Who in all grief savest me!

As we kneel before our ascended Savior’s throne, let us carefully remember the way by which He prepared it as a throne of grace for us; let us in spirit drink of His cup, that we may be strengthened for our hour of heaviness whenever it may come. In His natural body every member suffered, and so must it be in the spiritual; just as out of all His griefs and woes His body emerged uninjured to glory and power, similarly His mystical body will come through the furnace with not so much as the smell of smoke upon it.

Charles Spurgeon – Providence

 

“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Matthew 10:30

Suggested Further Reading: Acts 16:6-10

I shall always regard the fact of my being here today as a remarkable instance of providence. I should not have occupied this hall probably, and been blessed of God in preaching to multitudes if it had not been for what I considered an untoward accident. I should have been at this time studying in College, instead of preaching here, but for a singular circumstance which happened. I had agreed to go to College: the tutor had come to see me, and I went to see him at the house of a mutual friend; I was shown by the servant into one drawing-room in the house, he was shown into another. He sat and waited for me two hours; I sat and waited for him two hours. He could wait no longer, and went away thinking I had not treated him well; I went away and thought he had not treated me well. As I went away this text came into my mind, “Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not.” So I wrote to say that I must positively decline; I was happy enough amongst my own country people, and got on very well in preaching, and I did not care to go to College. I have now had four years of labour. But, speaking after the manner of men, those who have been saved during that time would not have been saved, by my instrumentality at any rate, if it had not been for the remarkable providence turning the whole tenor of my thoughts, and putting things into a new track. You have often had strange accidents like that. When you have resolved to do a thing, you could not do it anyhow; it was quite impossible. God turned you another way, and proved that providence is indeed the master of all human events.

For meditation: God is never taken by surprise or inconvenienced by accidents. He puts his people in the right place at the right time (Esther 4:14).

note: Spurgeon commenced this sermon with an account of an event at Halifax the previous Wednesday (7 April) during a snow storm. He preached in a wooden structure to thousands in the afternoon and evening. With only a hundred people left to exit, some flooring collapsed, injuring a couple. Three hours later the whole building collapsed. Had it not been for a fast thaw, there could have been a catastrophe.

Sermon no. 187

11 April (1858)

John MacArthur – How’s Your Spiritual Appetite?

 

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matt. 5:6).

David was a man after God’s own heart. In Psalm 63:1 he writes, “O God, Thou art my God; I shall seek Thee earnestly; my soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” He communed with God and knew the blessings of His sufficiency: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. . . . He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness. . . . Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me” (Ps. 23:1-4). He endured unjust persecution for the Lord’s sake: “Zeal for Thy house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach Thee have fallen on me” (Ps. 69:9).

David’s zeal for God illustrates what Jesus meant when He said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matt. 5:6). The words translated “hunger” and “thirst” speak of intense desire. They are present participles, which imply continuous action. The idea is paradoxical: the believer’s continuous and intense desire for righteousness is continually satisfied by Christ.

J.N. Darby, an early leader of the Plymouth Brethren movement, said, “To be hungry is not enough; I must be really starving to know what is in [God’s] heart towards me. When the prodigal son was hungry he went to feed upon husks, but when he was starving, he turned to his father” (quoted in Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, vol. 1, p. 81). When you have that kind of desperation, only God can satisfy it!

Does your desire for righteousness drive you to Christ for satisfaction? I pray that the words of the psalmist will be yours as well: “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness” (Ps. 17:15, KJV).

Suggestions for Prayer:

Ask God to use the events of today to increase your hunger and thirst for righteousness. Look to Him in all things, knowing that He alone can satisfy.

For Further Study:

Read Philippians 3:1-14.

What does it mean to place confidence in the flesh?

How did Paul define true righteousness?

Joyce Meyer – Tear Down Your Walls with Faith

 

For I will restore health to you, and I will heal your wounds, says the Lord, because they have called you an outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no one seeks after and for whom no one cares. —Jeremiah 30:17

To avoid pain, some of us build walls around ourselves so we will not get hurt, but that is pointless. God has shown me that it is impossible to live in this world if we are not willing to get hurt. People are not perfect; therefore they hurt and disappoint us, just as we hurt and disappoint others.

I have a wonderful husband, but occasionally he has hurt me. Because I came from such a painful background, the moment that kind of thing happened, I used to put up walls to protect myself. After all, I reasoned, no one can hurt me if I don’t let anyone get close to me. However, I learned that if I wall others out, I also wall myself in. The Lord has shown me that He wants to be my protector, but He cannot do that if I am busy trying to protect myself.

He has not promised that I will never get hurt, but He has promised to heal me if I come to Him rather than try to take care of everything myself. If you build walls around yourself out of fear, then you must tear them down out of faith. Go to Jesus with each old wound and receive His healing grace. When someone hurts you, take that new wound to Jesus. Do not let it fester. Take it to the Lord and be willing to handle it His way and not your own. Receive this scripture as a personal promise from the Lord to you, For I will restore health to you, and I will heal your wounds, says the Lord, because they have called you an outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no one seeks after and for whom no one cares (Jeremiah 30:17)! With the help of the Lord, you can survive hurt and disappointment and find your completion “in Him.”

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – As Much As We Need

 

“But you should divide with them. Right now you have plenty and can help them; then at some other time they can share with you when you need it. In this way each will have as much as he needs” (2 Corinthians 8:14).

I like Paul’s emphasis on spiritual equality. In his letter to the church at Corinth, this principle is clearly expressed:

“You can help them…they can share with you…each will have as much as he needs.”

Not one of us is a total body within himself; collectively, we are the body of Christ.

The hand can accomplish only certain kinds of functions.

The eyes cannot physically grasp objects, but they can see them.

The ears cannot transport the body like feet can, but ears can hear many sounds.

The hand needs the eye, and the eye needs the hand. All parts of the body need each other in order to function as a healthy body.

Are the parts the same? No. Do they have equality? Yes.

While the Christians at Corinth possessed all the spiritual gifts, they were not glorifying Christ or building up one another. Instead, they were glorifying themselves, glorifying their special gifts, and exercising their gifts in the flesh instead of in the power and control of the Holy Spirit.

Time and again, the apostle Paul stressed to the Corinthians that an atmosphere of godly love, agape, must prevail or the exercising of their gifts would be fruitless.

Bible Reading: II Corinthians 8:7-15

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will be content with my place in the Body of Christ, whether it be large or small, realizing that every part of the body is vitally important in God’s kingdom.

Presidential Prayer Team; C.P. – Love the Giver

 

When the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land with their new leader Joshua, Moses gave a series of sermons reminding people to always obey God. He warns, “Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’…And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish.” (Deuteronomy 8:17, 19)

He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the inheritance of the nations. Psalm 111:6

God is love and He gives His people good gifts. But there is a danger people fall into when they are blessed. They become so enamored with the gifts, they forget the giver. They get puffed up, congratulating themselves on their own success, forgetting that only God gives people power to prosper (Deuteronomy 8:18).

Be thankful for all the blessings you enjoy as an American – and pray for the United States, where many citizens, no doubt, have forgotten where their blessings come from. Pray for the people of this nation to repent of their pride and turn once again to the Lord, the giver of all good things.

Recommended Reading: James 1:17-25

Greg Laurie – Flawed Messengers, Perfect Message

 

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” —2 Chronicles 7:14

I think we could all agree that the United States needs a spiritual awakening. We can’t bring a revival about, but we can pray for one. And God tells us, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

When Jonah went to Nineveh, he delivered a message of judgment: In forty days, Nineveh would be overthrown (see Jonah 3:4). There was no promise of forgiveness, no mention of God’s love. Jonah basically was saying, “You are all going to die.” And as far as he was concerned, he could have cared less.

But the people listened to Jonah and repented. And the Bible tells us, “Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it” (verse 10).

This was probably the greatest revival in human history. And it started with a flawed message from a flawed messenger.

We are all flawed messengers. But we have a perfect message: It is the good news of Jesus Christ. We can tell people that God loves them, that God will forgive them, but they are separated from Him by their sin. And if they will turn from their sin and put their faith in Christ, they can be forgiven.

Though we can’t bring about a revival, we can pray for one. So here is my challenge to you: Don’t isolate. Infiltrate. As I have often said, Jesus did not say that the whole world should go to church; He said that the church should go to the whole world.

Max Lucado – The Plate Runs Over

 

Give us this day our daily bread.  What a statement of trust!  Some days the plate runs over.  God keeps bringing out more food and we keep loosening our belt.  A promotion.  A privilege.   A friendship.  A gift.  A lifetime of grace.  An eternity of joy.

The Psalmist said:  “You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies.  You revive my drooping head; my cup fills with blessing.”  (Psalm 23:5, The Message).

And then there are those days when, well, we have to eat our broccoli. Our daily bread could be tears or sorrow or discipline. Our portion may include adversity as well as opportunity.  The next time your plate has more broccoli than apple pie, remember who prepared the meal.  Even Jesus was given a portion He found hard to swallow.  But with God’s help, He did.  And with God’s help, you can too.

Charles Stanley – The Believer’s Destination

 

John 14:1-3

The Bible is clear that those who trust in Jesus as their personal Savior will have eternal life. Furthermore, it promises that followers of God will spend eternity with Him in heaven.

The New Testament contains approxi- mately 200 references to heaven, most of which are from the teachings of Jesus Himself. Obviously, the topic was quite important to our Lord. Why, then, do we often fail to talk about it ourselves?

Sadly, one reason we ignore the subject is that we simply feel too satisfied here on earth. Maybe we think we have it pretty good, whether because of a loving family, a stable job, or a nice home. Surrounded by such comfort, it can seem hard to imagine an even better place.

Other people, however, do not have it so easy here on earth. They are the ones who most easily grasp the concept of heaven. They are the individuals who live their lives in need, nursing the belief that life beyond earth will supply all that they lack.

You see, it is rarely our desperation that makes it difficult to envision our heavenly home. Rather, our success is oftentimes the greatest obstacle to a desire for the everlasting home where we truly belong. We can become so distracted by earthly things that we grow blind to the spiritual reality of eternal life. Why don’t we think more about heaven? Very simply, it is because many of us don’t want to go yet!

What in your life might be obstructing the view of your heavenly home? Jesus has gone before us to prepare our eternal dwelling, and who would know how to fix a place to our liking better than our Creator? Don’t let anything dim your vision of the excellent future home awaiting you.

 

Our Daily Bread — Keep It Simple

 

2 Corinthians 1:12-14

We are not writing any other things to you than what you [can] read or understand. —2 Corinthians 1:13

James Madison, fourth president of the United States, was instrumental in the drafting of the US constitution. He warned against creating laws “so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.” Based on some of the complicated government forms I’ve read, that’s advice that still needs to be heeded a little more often!

Sometimes when sharing the gospel, we make it more complicated than it needs to be. We can be glad that the Bible presents the good news of salvation in clear, easily understood language. Jesus said to Nicodemus, an educated Pharisee, that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). He later said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (14:6). The apostle Paul said it in straightforward language to the jailor in Philippi who asked how to be saved: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).

God’s precious love story is simple. He sent His Son to rescue us from sin and death. Wonderful news that even children can understand. —Dave Egner

Tell me the story of Jesus,

Write on my heart every word;

Tell me the story most precious,

Sweetest that ever was heard. —Crosby

Through faith in Christ, we receive God’s pardon and escape sin’s penalty.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – God and Body

 

The question at the time caught me a bit off guard. I was used to being asked to defend and explain my theology, but this was something different. I had been talking to someone about some old fears, explaining that what had helped me to move past them was largely due to faith that gave me hope in a world beyond them. His response pulled me down from my seemingly hopeful, ascended place. “What is your theology of the body?” he asked. “How does God speak to your physical existence right now?” I didn’t know how to respond.

The physical isn’t a matter the spiritual often consider. But for the Christian, there is a world of hope in doing so. What does it mean that Christ came in the flesh, with sinew and marrow? What does it mean that he lived and breathed, died, and was raised as a body? Perhaps more importantly, what does it mean that the risen Christ today, as a corporal being, is ascended and sitting at the right hand of the Father in heaven? What does Christ’s wounded body have to do with our own? What of his ascended body?

The modern divorce of the spiritual and the physical, heaven and earth, what is now and what will be, has made these difficult questions to consider. But the promise of the Christian is union with none other than Christ himself. In faith and by the Spirit, we are united to the same body that was on the cross and was in the tomb, and which is now also in heaven. We are united with a body who is very much a living, immense, and physical promise. “Since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22). It is a most unique hope: God in a body.

The biblical depiction of salvation and sanctification is far more “earthy” than some entertain, whether its critics or lauders. No matter how privatized, removed, irrelevant, or other-worldly we might describe Christianity, it is unavoidably a faith that intends us to encounter and experience both King and kingdom in the here-and-now, everyday, hand-dirtying occurrences of life.

In an unapologetically corporeal account, the book of Acts describes the risen Christ among his disciples: “After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While eating with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father… And when he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight” (Acts 1:3-4). When the two men in white robes appeared and interrupted the disciples’ stupor, their question was as pointed as the one that stumped me: “Why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you, will return in the same way as you saw him go forth” (Acts 1:11, emphasis mine).

It is no small promise that Christ came as a body, was wounded as a body, and now sits as a real and living body in heaven until the day he will return and wipe every tear from our eyes. The ascended body of Christ represents something more fully human, more real than ourselves, and it is this reality that he lifts us toward, transforms us into, and advocates on our behalf. Our union with Christ and communion with the Trinity add a certain and heavenly dimension to our lives, and it is indeed one that correctly and profoundly orients us here and now, in real bodies, to the world around us.

Beyond a subject for another time or place, how might God speak to your physical existence now? In these weeks from the physical shock of Easter to the corporal gift of the Spirit at Pentecost, consider in your answer the Christ who walked among the world as a risen body, who invited Thomas to physically put his hands in scars that still mark pain, who ascended as one fully human after sharing a meal with those he loved, and who sent the Holy Spirit to live powerfully among us. Consider the body of Christ, who now sits at the right hand of the Father as advocate, offering his body for the sake of yours, calling you to physically come further into the kingdom now.

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

Alistair Begg – Comfort on the Hill

 

The place that is called the skull.

Luke 23:33

The hill of comfort is the hill that is called The Skull or Calvary; the house of consolation is built with the wood of the cross; the temple of heavenly blessing is based upon the riven rock–riven by the spear that pierced His side. No scene in sacred history ever gladdens the soul like Calvary’s tragedy.

Is it not strange, the darkest hour

That ever dawned on sinful earth,

Should touch the heart with softer power,

For comfort, than an angel’s mirth?

That to the Cross the mourner’s eye should turn,

Sooner than where the stars of Bethlehem burn?

Light springs from the midday-midnight of Golgotha, and every herb of the field blooms sweetly beneath the shadow of the once accursed tree. In that place of thirst, grace has dug a fountain that runs continually with water pure as crystal, each drop capable of alleviating the woes of mankind. You who have had your seasons of conflict will confess that it was not at Olivet that you ever found comfort, not on the hill of Sinai, nor on Tabor; but Gethsemane and Golgotha have been a means of comfort to you. The bitter herbs of Gethsemane have often taken away the pains in your life; and the groans of Calvary yield rare and rich comfort.

We never would have known Christ’s love in all its heights and depths if He had not died; nor could we guess the Father’s deep affection if He had not given His Son to die. The common mercies we enjoy all sing of love, just as the seashell, when we put it to our ears, whispers the sounds of the deep sea from which it came; but if we desire to hear the ocean itself, we must not look at everyday blessings, but at the transactions of the crucifixion. If you want to know love, then go afresh to Calvary and see the Man of Sorrows die.

Charles Spurgeon – The best of masters

 

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” John 14:27

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:23-28

It is the same with the world at this day. Everyone greets us in writing with a “Dear sir,” or a “My dear sir,” and concludes with “Yours very truly,” and “Yours sincerely.” We call all “friends,” and if we meet but casually we express the utmost anxiety with regard to one another’s health, and we carefully enquire after each other’s families; when perhaps we shall no sooner have passed by the person than we shall forget his existence, and certainly shall entertain no anxious thoughts with regard to his welfare, nor any loving remembrance of him. The world gives very largely when it gives compliments. Oh, what blessings would descend upon all our heads, if the blessings uttered could be blessings bestowed. Even when the “Good bye” is given, which translated means, “God be with you”—if that could be but true, and if God could be with us, in answer to that prayer, so little understood, how rich might we be! But alas! the way of the world is, “Be ye warmed and filled;” but it has not that which should warm, nor that which should fill. It is a world of words; high-sounding, empty, all-deceiving words. Now this is not so with Christ. If he says “Peace be with you,” his benediction is most true and full of sweet sincerity. He left his own peace in heaven, that he might give the peace which he enjoyed with his Father, to us in this world of sorrow, for thus he puts it, “My peace I give unto you.” Christ, when he blesses, blesses not in word only, but in deed. The lips of truth cannot promise more than the hands of love will surely give. He gives not in compliment. Furthermore, even when the world’s wishes of peace are sincere, what are they but mere wishes?

For meditation: Greetings and best wishes from the lips of a Christian should be modelled on Christ, not the world. Do you go in for the “polite lie” or are your concerns for others genuine (Philippians 2:20; 3 John 2)?

Sermon no. 247

10 April (1859)

John MacArthur – Rejecting Worldly Ambitions

 

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matt. 5:6).

Within every man and woman is a hunger and thirst only God can satisfy. That’s why Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).

Sadly, most people search for happiness in the wrong places. The prodigal son in Luke 15 is one example. He turned from God to pursue sinful pleasures, but soon discovered that sin cannot satisfy a hungering soul. That’s when he returned to his father’s house, where he was given a great feast–a picture of salvation.

The rich fool in Luke 12 thought that amassing possessions was the key to happiness, saying to himself, “What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops? . . . This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (vv. 17- 21). Unlike the prodigal son, the rich fool never turned to God in repentance. Consequently he lost everything.

The rich fool is typical of many people today: they ignore Christ and attempt to fill the void with worldly pleasures. Most are oblivious to the eternal peril that awaits them if they don’t repent.

Those who love God shun worldliness, pursue righteousness, and know the satisfaction that comes from pleasing Him. That’s the essence of the Sermon on the Mount: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all [you need] will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). Keep that goal uppermost in your mind as you face the challenge of each new day.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank God that He satisfies the deepest desires of your heart.

For Further Study:

Read Daniel 4:28-37.

What was Nebuchadnezzar’s sin?

How did God punish Him?

How did Nebuchadnezzar respond after being punished?

Joyce Meyer – Spiritual Praying

 

Then what am I to do? I will pray with my spirit [by the Holy Spirit that is within me], but I will also pray [intelligently] with my mind and understanding; I will sing with my spirit [by the Holy Spirit that is within me], but I will sing [intelligently] with my mind and understanding also.—1 Corinthians 14:15

Earlier I referred to “the mind aiding the spirit.” For many people, this is a difficult concept to grasp. I understand what Paul meant because it’s something I’ve learned to use in my own spiritual growth.

For example, one morning I set aside my usual time for prayer. I began to pray, but my prayers felt flat—nothing energized them—and there was no help from my spirit. As I struggled, I reminded myself that I had made myself available to God, and I wanted the Spirit to use me to change lives.

I continued to pray but nothing changed. This had happened before, so I wasn’t discouraged. I kept on praying and telling God the things about which I was concerned. After several minutes, a powerful energy took hold of me. I knew I had touched the area where the Holy Spirit wanted me to pray. This became more than my concern—this was God’s concern.

I began by praying out of my mind—about things that I knew of and thought needed prayer. I was praying in English because that is my normal language, and I understood what I was saying. But when the energizing power of the Spirit came, without any conscious thought, I began to pray with my prayer language, or what many of us refer to as an unknown tongue.

Paul was our example and teacher in this area. He said he knew how to pray with the Spirit, and he knew how to pray with the understanding. This may not make sense to everyone—and it certainly can confuse people at first. However, I encourage you not to reject a gift of God that is available to you merely because you have not experienced it and don’t understand it. Be open to God, and ask Him to teach you about praying in other tongues.

Think of it this way. God calls us to prayer. That’s our joy as well as our responsibility. Sometimes when we talk to God, we hardly know what to say. We pray, but our words feel inadequate. It’s as if there is a depth to our burdens that transcends words. Something is going on that’s so strong within us—so overwhelming—we have no words to speak. To use English feels utterly useless. No matter what we say to God out of our own minds (understanding), we feel we have not broken through and obtained a victory.

Then comes what I call a prayer release. I speak in words I don’t understand—words that are beyond the grasp of my human mind—and yet my spirit “understands,” or bears witness that my prayers are correct and are getting the job done.

The best biblical reference I can give for this experience is Acts 2, which tells the story of Pentecost. The disciples prayed in an upper room while Jews came from all over the world to the city of Jerusalem. The 120 people in that room were so filled with the Holy Spirit that they burst out speaking in unknown languages—unknown to them. But the visitors heard them, “And when this sound was heard, the multitude came together and they were astonished and bewildered, because each one heard them [the apostles] speaking in his own [particular] dialect” (Acts 2:6).

The apostle Paul thanked God that he spoke in tongues, and he also said that nobody should forbid anyone to do so. There has been a great deal of division in the church over the issue of speaking in tongues, but I encourage you to go straight to your Bible and see what the Word of God says about it. Don’t have a closed mind to any of the precious gifts of the Holy Spirit. We need all the supernatural help we can get to help us live our lives victoriously.

Some people teach that the gift of speaking in tongues went away with the early church, but there are millions of people worldwide who speak in tongues today. Those who speak in other tongues are certainly no better, nor are they more spiritual than those who do not speak in tongues, but once again, I encourage you to seek God for yourself in this area, so your prayers can be as powerful as possible.

When we pray in the Spirit, our minds and our spirits work together. Our minds yield to our spirits, and we are praying the perfect prayer that God desires.

Holy Spirit, I desire all the supernatural gifts You have made available. I need all the help I can get to enable me to live victoriously. I want to pray powerful prayers that are led by the Holy Spirit. I know You hear and answer the prayers I pray in my known language, but I am open to receiving the gift of an unknown language that will enable me to speak secrets and mysteries unto You. I trust You, Jesus, to lead me in the right direction. Amen.

Presidential Prayer Team; J.R. – Postponed Pardon

 

“We can’t find your paperwork.” Ever heard that? Shortly after the American Civil War ended, Confederate General Robert E. Lee signed an “Amnesty Oath,” requesting that his rights of citizenship be restored. His request was sent to Washington, D.C., where it was promptly lost. General Lee died without ever being pardoned or restored. More than 100 years later, a clerk at the National Archives discovered Lee’s Amnesty Oath in a long-forgotten trove of documents. It was President Gerald R. Ford who finally signed the order restoring the General’s citizenship.

Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor. Proverbs 21:21

This is the way it often seems as you pursue a life of righteousness. You’ve done your best to do what’s asked of you, but there seems to be no response from God. No answer to the financial need or the health crisis. No answer to your prayers that America turn back to God.

It’s almost as if your requests have been lost in some dark, forgotten corner of Heaven, never to be heard or acted upon by the Lord. But rest assured your rewards are on the way! He promises life, righteousness and honor. At just the right time, God will answer. Until then, be faithful, keep praying…and trust.

Recommended Reading: James 5:7-16

Greg Laurie – Reaching the Enemy

 

Then the Lord spoke to Jonah a second time: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you.” —Jonah 3:1–2

Jonah was an Israelite who was given a job to do, but he didn’t want to do it. He was called to go and preach the gospel in Nineveh, which was one of the most wicked cities on earth. The Ninevites were the enemies of Israel. The prophets had told Israel that one day the Assyrians would overtake them, and Nineveh was the capital of Assyria.

Jonah may have thought, Wait a second! If I go and preach to them, they might repent. And if they repent, then God will spare them, and they will conquer us. But if I don’t preach to them, they won’t repent, and God will judge them. That will be one less enemy we have to deal with.

So Jonah tried to go in the opposite direction. He paid the fare (it always costs to sin), and he went down to Joppa, away from the presence of the Lord. But any step away from God is always a step down. So God sent a great storm (God always will have the last word).

When Jonah admitted he was the cause of the storm, he was tossed overboard. And you know the rest of the story: “The Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights” (Jonah 1:17). Jonah repented, the whale vomited him up on shore, and Jonah finally was ready to do what God had called him to do.

We have been called to share the gospel, even with people we may not like. Nonbelievers are not the enemy; they have been taken captive by the god of this world to do what he wants them to do (see 2 Timothy 2:26). And until the Lord returns, our job is to reach them.

Max Lucado – Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

 

Many of us have trouble relating to the prayer, “God, give us this day our daily bread.” Because our pantries are so packed and our bellies so full, we seldom ask for food. More likely, we need to ask for self-control and say, “God, help me not to eat so much.”

You won’t find books on surviving starvation, but you will find shelves loaded with books on losing weight. That doesn’t negate the importance of the prayer, however. Just the opposite. We pray only to find our prayer already answered!  At some point it occurs to you that someone is providing for your needs.

You take a giant step in maturity when you agree with King David’s words in 2nd Chronicles 29:14, “Everything we have has come from You, and we only give You what is Yours already.” Long before you knew you needed someone to provide for your needs, God already had!

Charles Stanley – Our Choices Matter

 

Galatians 5:13-16

Most people who choose to walk through the wide gate don’t stop to consider the pros and cons of taking the path leading to destruction. Instead, they drift onto that roadway without thinking of the consequences. The narrow gate is different—we must deliberately choose to pass through it and take the sparsely populated way to heaven.

Walking on the narrow road requires faith, discipline, and determination. We must be reading the Bible daily and main- taining an active prayer connection to God. By surrendering our lives to Christ, we keep our hearts on a path of righteousness.

Truthfully, we all have desires—that is, fleshly appetites—that find the easier pathway more attractive. In other words, we are each tempted to sin. As we choose to give in to temptation, our feet may remain on the narrow road, but our hearts return to the broad way. The more we choose to participate in sinful actions and attitudes, the deeper our heart becomes embedded in the worldly way.

We may try to tell ourselves that we are achieving freedom and that it is our right to do what we want. However, the truth is that we are grasping at false contentment while the “genuine article” awaits us if we simply return to obeying God.

And we are not the only ones injured by our rebellion. Fellow travelers on the broad way are watching us. When we act just like them, they make a judgment: “Hypocrite!” In that way, we can easily lose our testimony.

The narrow way may be hard to follow, but God promises constant aid and great reward—salvation and joy now; heaven later. Have you chosen the narrow gate?