Tag Archives: church

Presidential Prayer Team; C.H. – Purposeful Gifts


With Thanksgiving and Christmas around the bend, you may be one of the thousands of people who will consider purchasing a treadmill to shed unwanted pounds. Before adding an exercise apparatus to your shopping list, consider how many buy a treadmill and use it for a short time only. Soon the expensive equipment gathers dust and holds clothes in the corner.

You may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up.

I Corinthians 14:17

When gifts aren’t used properly, they don’t produce the desired results. In today’s passage, Paul speaks of different kinds of gifts – spiritual ones. He reminds the church in Corinth how to “excel in building up the church” when using their gifts. (I Corinthians 14:12) While one may speak in tongues to give thanks to God, if no one can understand them, the gift is not serving its intended purpose to edify or teach the listener.

Each Christ follower has a special skill to glorify God and draw others to Him. While you may praise God with your words, are your gifts collecting dust in a corner? Ask God to help you use your given talents for His purpose, then pray for Christians in elected offices to use their gifts as they serve in government.

Recommended Reading: Romans 12:1-12


Greg Laurie – Start with a Bridge


Change from the Inside Out

Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.

— Ephesians 5:16

A problem that Christians often have when they share the gospel is going into attack mode on a person’s sin straightaway: “Oh yeah, I see that you are into this. Well, let tell me you something. . . .”

Wait. Hold on. Maybe you ought to try to bring that person to Christ first. I am not saying that you shouldn’t confront someone about his or her sin. But remember the example of Jesus as He talked with the Samaritan woman at the well? She had been married and divorced five times and was living with a man. But Jesus didn’t start by slamming her for her immorality. He spoke to her in a symbolic way: “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life” (John 4:13–14).

When possible, find common ground and build a bridge to your listener. Paul, when he stood before King Agrippa, began by saying, “I am fortunate, King Agrippa, that you are the one hearing my defense today against all these accusations made by the Jewish leaders, for I know you are an expert on all Jewish customs and controversies” (Acts 26:2–3).

This was not flattery on Paul’s part, but the truth. Agrippa was steeped in the ways of the Jews as their secular ruler appointed by Rome. Paul was respectful of Agrippa’s office. Agrippa was an immoral man, and Paul could have brought that out. Instead, he began building a bridge.

There is a built-in offense in the message of the cross. Let’s not make it worse. When we share the gospel, we need to build a bridge with people and not unnecessarily offend them.



Max Lucado – What He Says He Will Do

Max Lucado

God will always be the same. No one else will. Companies follow pay raises with pink slips. Friends applaud you when you drive a classic and dismiss you when you drive a dud. Not God. God is always the same. James 4:1 says, with Him, “there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

Catch God in a bad mood? Won’t happen. Fear exhausting His grace? A sardine will swallow the Atlantic first. Think He’s given up on you? Wrong. Did He not make a promise to you?

God is not a human being, and He will not lie. He is not a human, and He does not change His mind. What He says He will do. What He promises will come true. His strength, truth, ways, and love never change.

Hebrews 13:8 declares “He is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Trust him…what He says, He will do!

Greg Laurie – Change from the Inside Out


Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. —Titus 3:5

In the 1600s, author Matthew Mead published a great book called The Almost Christian Discovered in which wrote, “The outward change is often without the inward, though the inward change is never without the outward.”

People can go through the motions and not necessarily be Christians. You can pray and not necessarily be a Christian. You can be baptized and not necessarily be a Christian. To the best of your ability you can keep the Ten Commandments and not necessarily be a Christian. You can even believe that Jesus is coming back and not necessarily be a Christian.

People may even make visible changes in their lives and not necessarily be Christians. There was a rich young ruler who came to Jesus and said, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17).

Jesus told him, “You know the commandments,” and then He listed them.

The young man said, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth” (verse 20).

This guy was basically moral. He had kept the commandments to the best of his ability. Certainly he had broken them, but at least he tried. But then Jesus told him what to do, and he wouldn’t do it. He stopped short of Jesus.

It is not your works that make you saved. You put your faith in Christ, and then you will see the evidence in your life. While it is true that faith without works is dead (see James 2:20), it could be said that works without faith is also dead.

You may say, “Well, I went forward at a Harvest Crusade” or “I stood up and prayed a prayer.” That is good, but it doesn’t necessarily make you a Christian. There has to be a movement of your heart toward God.


Our Daily Bread — Traveling Companion

Our Daily Bread

Psalm 39

For I am a stranger with You, a sojourner, as all my fathers were. —Psalm 39:12

I looked up the members of my seminary graduating class recently and discovered that many of my friends are now deceased. It was a sober reminder of the brevity of life. Three score and ten, give or take a few years, and we’re gone (Ps. 90:10). Israel’s poet was right: We’re but strangers here and sojourners (39:12).

The brevity of life makes us think about our “end”—the measure of our days and how fleeting they are (v.4), a feeling that grows more certain as we draw closer to the end of our lives. This world is not our home; we’re but strangers and sojourners here.

Yet we are not alone on the journey. We are strangers and sojourners with God (39:12), a thought that makes the journey less troubling, less frightening, less worrisome. We pass through this world and into the next with a loving Father as our constant companion and guide. We’re strangers here on earth, but we are never alone on the journey (73:23-24). We have One who says, “I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20).

We may lose sight of father, mother, spouse, and friends, but we always know that God is walking beside us. An old saying puts it like this: “Good company on the road makes the way to seem lighter.” —David Roper

My times are in my Father’s hand;

How could I wish or ask for more?

For He who has my pathway planned

Will guide me till my journey’s o’er. —Fraser

As you travel life’s weary road, let Jesus lift your heavy load.

Bible in a year: Ezekiel 11-13; James 1

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Where Were You?

Ravi Z

As a young girl, one of my favorite games was hide and seek. Gathering all of our friends from the street on which we lived, we played this favorite childhood game that offered the entire neighborhood as a hiding place. The familiar call “Where are you?” echoed down the streets as the seeker looked far and wide to find our hiding places.

A cosmic game of hide and seek is often how many view the search for God. “Where are you?” is the question that echoes throughout the ages as human beings seek for God in a vast universe often filled with inexplicable mystery.

This is no trivial game. Atheist Bertrand Russell was once asked what he would say if after death he met God, to which he replied: “God, you gave us insufficient evidence.”(1) While those who have found God quite evident would balk at Russell’s impudence, it is helpful to remember that theists often wrestle with a similar struggle. Many of the biblical writers themselves have depicted God as hidden. “Why do you stand afar off, O Lord? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalms 10:1). Indeed, the psalmist accuses God of being “asleep” to his plaintive cries: “Arouse, yourself, why do you sleep, O Lord? Awake, and do not reject us forever. Why do you hide your face, and forget our affliction and our oppression?” (Psalm 44:23-24). Even blameless Job wondered aloud if in fact God viewed him as the enemy: “Why do you hide your face and consider me the enemy?” (Job 13:24). And from the place of his deepest suffering, Jesus himself cried out using the words of the poets of Israel, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Clearly, the hiddenness of God is problematic for theists and atheists alike. Indeed, the belief in a God who can be easily found, and who has acted in time and space, makes the experience of God’s hiddenness all the more poignant and perplexing.

“Where are you?” serves as one of the central questions in the acclaimed film by Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life. The film explores the paradoxical experience of both God’s astounding presence and God’s apparent absence. The questions concerning God’s whereabouts are posed by an adult man in the throes of a life-crisis resulting from family tragedy. Through a series of cinematic visions, the man reflects back on his life as his question “Where are you?” sounds a thematic refrain when tragic events ensue. It is this question that takes the man on a search for God, not only through recalling the events of his childhood in a small Texas town, but also as he contemplates the grandeur of the cosmos at the dawn of creation.

As the film begins, we hear the voice of this man’s, mother extolling a life of grace, as opposed to a life lived according to nature, for the self alone. To the oft-repeated question, “Where are you?” the film suggests God resides in this life of grace. The life that is grace-filled lives for others, revels in the beauty and wonder of the created world, and extends a gracious forgiveness toward others. It is this grace-filled life that the now adult Jack remembers as a clue to where God may be found. The gracious way in which his mother lived, and the way his younger brother extended forgiveness to the young Jack after he viciously shot him in the hand with a pellet gun provide the first hints for God’s hiding place. Jack recalls, “Brother, mother, it was they who led me to your door.” In these grace-filled human encounters, the doorway is opened to God’s dwelling place.

This gracious way is set in contrast to the way of nature, which competes and wrestles for control of Jack. The way of nature seeks to make its way in the world forcefully; its acquisitive nature clawing after worldly success, fortune, and power. It is a battle waged within every human being, and the film suggests that it is a path that leads one away from God; it is the way that hides us from God’s grace and God’s presence.

For indeed, the game of hide and seek is not one-sided. The film opens with a quotation from the book of Job: “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth…when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” A cinematic kaleidoscope of those foundations—from a one-celled organism to the galaxies beyond invites the viewer to see the gracious hand of God touching all that makes up the universe. From the dawn of time to, by contrast, this seemingly insignificant family living in 1950′s Waco, Texas, the film shimmers with God’s presence. We often fail to accept the invitation, the film suggests, as we succumb to the way of nature—a way that reduces one’s vision only to self-interest. But God’s glorious grace is all around us. Sometimes abundantly obvious, sometimes subtle, God’s gracious presence beckons to us in this world and in our relationships with one another. “Always did you seek me” Jack recognizes as he wrestles with his own propensity to hide. Always do you seek for us—we humans who play hide and seek—from the very foundation of the world.

Margaret Manning is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Seattle, Washington.

(1) Cited in Dr. Paul K. Moser’s booklet Why Isn’t God More Obvious: Finding the God who Hides and Seeks (Norcross, GA: RZIM, 2000)1.


Alistair Begg – Of Minor Importance

Alistair Begg

Avoid foolish controversies.

Titus 3:9

Our days are few and are far better spent in doing good than in disputing over matters that are, at best, of minor importance. The old scholars did a world of mischief by their incessant discussion of subjects of no practical importance; and our churches suffer too often from petty wars over obscure points and unimportant questions.

After everything has been said that can be said, neither party is any the wiser, and therefore the discussion promotes neither knowledge nor love, and it is foolish to sow in so barren a field.

Questions about issues on which Scripture is silent, on mysteries that belong to God alone, on prophecies of doubtful interpretation, and on mere modes of observing human ceremonials are all foolish, and wise men avoid them.

Our business is neither to ask nor answer foolish questions, but to avoid them altogether; and if we observe the apostle’s precept (Titus 3:8) to be careful to maintain good works, we will find ourselves occupied with so much profitable business that we will have no time to take much interest in unworthy, contentious, and needless strivings.

There are, however, some questions that are the reverse of foolish, which we must not avoid but fairly and honestly meet, such as these: Do I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Am I renewed in the spirit of my mind? Am I walking not after the flesh but after the Spirit? Am I growing in grace? Does my behavior adorn the doctrine of God my Savior? Am I looking for the coming of the Lord and watching as a servant should who expects his master? What more can I do for Jesus?

Such inquiries as these demand our urgent attention; and if we have been given at all to frivolous arguments, let us now turn our critical abilities to a much more profitable service. Let us be peacemakers and endeavor to lead others both by our precept and example to “avoid foolish controversies.”


John MacArthur – Living a Satisfied Life

John MacArthur

“All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. “And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them” (Heb. 11:13-16).

I remember watching in horror and disgust as angry mobs swept through Los Angeles, killing people and setting thousands of buildings on fire. Under the cover of chaos, countless people ransacked and looted every store in sight. I saw entire families- -moms, dads, and little children– loading their cars and trucks with anything they could steal.

That was the most graphic demonstration of lawlessness I’ve ever seen. It was as if they were saying, “I’m not satisfied with the way life’s treating me, so I’m entitled to grab everything I can–no matter who gets hurt in the process.”

Perhaps we don’t realize how selfish and restless the human heart can be until the restraints of law and order are lifted and people can do whatever they want without apparent consequences. Then suddenly the results of our godless “me first” society are seen for what they are. Instant gratification at any cost has become the motto of the day.

That’s in stark contrast to people of faith like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who trusted in God even when their circumstances were less than they might have expected. God promised them a magnificent land but they never possessed it. They were, in fact, strangers and refugees in their own land. But that didn’t bother them because they looked forward to a better place–a heavenly city.

Their faith pleased God and He was not ashamed to be called their God. What a wonderful testimonial! I pray that’s true of you. Don’t let earthbound hopes and dreams make you dissatisfied. Trust in God’s promises and set your sights on your heavenly home.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank God for the blessing of a satisfied heart.

For Further Study:

Memorize Psalm 27:4.


Joyce Meyer – Receive the Goodness of God

Joyce meyer

Whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God above, who created all heaven’s lights. Unlike them, he never changes or casts shifting shadows.

—James 1:17 NLT

There was a time when I believed God was good—but I wasn’t sure He would be good to me. I was afraid I hadn’t been good enough to receive His goodness. But He taught me that our inability to do everything right doesn’t cancel out His goodness. Thankfully, receiving God’s goodness is based on His righteousness, not ours.

I now keep a journal to list all the good things God does for me. This gives me a greater appreciation for His provisions and confirms His constant flow of blessings in my life.

God is good, and His goodness radiates from Him like heat radiates from the sun. And those rays of goodness reach out to you every day. Make a list of all His blessings, and you’ll have no doubt about the good and perfect gifts that come from Him.


Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Like a Sweet Perfume


“But thanks be to God! For through what Christ has done, He has triumphed over us so that now wherever we go He uses us to tell others about the Lord and to spread the Gospel like a sweet perfume” (2 Corinthians 2:14).

We can certainly learn a lesson from the apostle Paul. He frequently begins a chapter or a verse with a note of praise. To say that he had a thankful spirit would be understating the case. That perhaps is the key to victory in every area of our lives, to begin with thanksgiving.

It is God who leads us to triumph over principalities and powers. And in leading us to triumph, He is then able to use us to tell others of His love and forgiveness through the Lord Jesus. As we rest in His victory and in His command, with its promise of “Lo, I am with you always,” we spread the gospel like a sweet perfume.

In your own home and in your own neighborhood, perhaps, are those who need the sweet perfume of the gospel, that heavenly aroma that comes first from God, then through us as His servants, and finally in the message itself: the good news of sins forgiven and a heavenly home assured.

Around the world, literally, I personally have seen multitudes of men and women, old and young, become new creatures in Christ. The aroma indeed is one of sweet perfume, for tangled lives have become untangled to the glory of God, and joy abounds in hearts and lives where only sadness and despair had been known.

Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 2:14-17

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: “Dear Lord, help me to bear a heavenly aroma as I share the sweet perfume of the gospel with others.”


Presidential Prayer Team; H.L.M. – Open Windows


Daniel was a Jewish prophet who was taken to Babylon and trained for the king’s service. He was known for his courage, integrity, humility and spiritual vision. Most of all, Daniel was known for his unceasing prayerfulness. Although he knew there was a law prohibiting prayer to anyone except the king, Daniel chose to serve the King of Kings! In fact, Daniel always prayed with his windows opened toward Jerusalem.

He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God.

Daniel 6:10

Of course, he prayed not out of rebellion toward the king…but out of his love for God. Even Daniel’s enemies knew he would obey God rather than bow to the king’s edict.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” You obviously cannot spend all your time praying. Yet it is possible to have a continuous, prayerful attitude. So always keep your spiritual windows open towards Heaven. Practice frequent and regular communication with your Creator. Remember also to thank Him for the privilege of praying for your nation’s leaders out of godly love for them.

Recommended Reading: Psalm 92:1-9  Click to Read or Listen



Max Lucado – Jesus Builds the Bridge

Max Lucado

People came to Jesus. My, how they came to Him!  They touched Him as He walked down the street; they followed Him around the sea; they invited Him into their homes and placed their children at His feet. Why?  Because He refused to be a statue in a cathedral or a priest in an elevated pulpit. He chose instead to be—Jesus.

There’s not a hint of one person who was afraid to draw near Him. There were those who mocked Him. Those who were envious of Him. There were those who misunderstood Him. There was not one person who was reluctant to approach Him for fear of being rejected.

Remember that. Remember that the next time you find yourself amazed at your own failures. Or the next time acidic accusations burn holes in your soul.

Remember. It’s man who creates the distance. It is Jesus who builds the bridge!

From The Lucado Inspirational Reader

Charles Stanley – The Promise of the Father

Charles Stanley

Acts 1:1-8

The Bible is a book of promises, each of which is guaranteed by the Lord’s unchanging nature (2 Cor. 1:20). One precious assurance is that those who trust Jesus as Savior will never be alone. Our Father has promised to send His Holy Spirit to take up residence within each believer. Scripture teaches that the Spirit is a member of the Trinity, along with God the Father and God the Son.

The triune nature of God is clear in a number of Bible passages. Genesis 1:1-2, for instance, identifies both the Father and the Spirit as active participants in creation. The New Testament later reveals that Jesus Christ was likewise present when the world was being made (Col. 1:16).

We find another example in John’s gospel. The night before His crucifixion, Jesus told the disciples that He was going away but would ask the Father to send “another Comforter” (14:16). The resurrected Christ later commissioned His followers to make disciples and baptize them in the name of all three members of the Trinity (Matt. 28:19).

On the basis of biblical truth, we can know for sure that the Spirit is fully God, just like the Father and the Son. Scripture teaches that we can intimately know the Father and Jesus, and the same holds true for the third person of the Trinity. Because of the Spirit’s importance, Jesus spent much time talking about Him with the disciples.

Do you know the Holy Spirit as well as you do the Father and Son? If not, spend time studying Scripture to gain understanding of His place in your life.


Charles Spurgeon – The Holy Spirit—the great Teacher


“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” John 16:13

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 25:4-14

If I give myself to the Holy Spirit and ask his guidance, there is no fear of my wandering. Again, we rejoice in this Spirit because he is ever-present. We fall into a difficulty sometimes; we say, “Oh, if I could take this to my minister, he would explain it; but I live so far off, and am not able to see him.” That perplexes us, and we turn the text round and round and cannot make anything out of it. We look at the commentators. We take down pious Thomas Scott, and, as usual, he says nothing about it if it be a dark passage. Then we go to holy Matthew Henry, and if it is an easy Scripture, he is sure to explain it; but if it is a text hard to be understood, it is likely enough, of course, left in his own gloom. And even Dr Gill himself, the most consistent of commentators, when he comes to a hard passage, manifestly avoids it in some degree. But when we have no commentator or minister, we have still the Holy Spirit. And let me tell you a little secret: whenever you cannot understand a text, open your Bible, bend your knee, and pray over that text; and if it does not split into atoms and open itself, try again. If prayer does not explain it, it is one of the things God did not intend you to know, and you may be content to be ignorant of it. Prayer is the key that openeth the cabinets of mystery. Prayer and faith are sacred keys that can open secrets, and obtain great treasures. There is no college for holy education like that of the blessed Spirit, for he is an ever-present tutor, to whom we have only to bend the knee, and he is at our side, the great expositor of truth.

For meditation: We sometimes hold up our own spiritual education by failing to believe and obey what we have already been taught (1 Corinthians 3:1-3; Hebrews 5:11-14). Are you a difficult pupil?

Sermon no. 50

18 November (1855)

John MacArthur – Looking to the Future

John MacArthur

“By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised; therefore, also, there was born of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore” (Heb. 11:11-12).

I’ve been blessed with a wonderful Christian heritage. In fact, I’m the fifth generation of preachers in our family. The faith of my predecessors has had an enormous impact on my life– either directly or indirectly. I have the same responsibility they did to influence others for good–as do you.

Hebrews 11:11-12 gives a very personal example of how one man’s faith influenced an entire nation. Verse 11 is better rendered: “By faith Abraham, even though he was past age–and Sarah herself was barren–was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise” (NIV).

God had promised Abraham that he would become the father of a great nation (Gen. 12:2). But Sarah, Abraham’s wife, had always been barren, and both of them were advanced in years. At one point Sarah became impatient and decided to take things into her own hands. She persuaded Abraham to have a son by her maid, Hagar (16:1-4). That act of disobedience proved to be costly because Ishmael, the child of that union, became the progenitor of the Arab people, who have been constant antagonists of the Jewish nation.

Despite his times of disobedience, Abraham believed that God would keep His promise. God honored Abraham’s faith by giving him not only Isaac, the child of promise, but descendants too numerous to count. One man’s faith literally changed the world.

Similarly, the faith you exercise today will influence others tomorrow. So be faithful and remember: despite your failures, God “is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us” (Eph. 3:20).

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank God for those who have had a righteous influence on you.

Pray for greater opportunities to influence others for Christ.

For Further Study:

Read the account of Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 18-21 and 23.



Joyce Meyer – Stay in God’s Presence

Joyce meyer

And now shall my head be lifted up above my enemies round about me; in His tent I will offer sacrifices and shouting of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.

—Psalm 27:6

The psalmist David said that the thing he wanted most was to be with God and to dwell in His presence all the days of his life (See Psalm 27:4). David loved God for who He is, not just for what He did for him.

The Word says that if we abide in the presence of God, He will defeat our enemies, and hide us in the day of trouble (See v.5). God’s attention is on us, but we must keep our attention on Him to enjoy the fullness of His presence in our lives. We must invite God to be involved in everything we do, and then remember to praise Him for His goodness.



Presidential Prayer Team; C.P. – Sing It Out


After 52 days of hard labor, fighting enemies and dealing with internal problems, the Israelites and their leader Nehemiah finished the temple wall. The wall not only protected them, but it also reestablished Jerusalem as a city of worship. “And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, with thanksgivings and with singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres.” (Nehemiah 12:27)

I brought the leaders of Judah up onto the wall and appointed two great choirs that gave thanks.

Nehemiah 12:31

Today, choirs aren’t to entertain and encourage God’s people, though they may do that. Their primary purpose is to lead the congregation in praise and gratitude to the Lord. Worship and giving thanks isn’t just a nice idea. It should be an important part of daily Christian life. God is great and mighty and worthy of all praise and thanksgiving!

And here’s a bonus: if your mind is busy giving thanks, it will spend less time in fear and worry. Today, and every day, give thanks for the nation’s blessings and pray for God’s help and intervention in its troubles.

Recommended Reading: Psalm 100



Greg Laurie – Barriers to Answered Prayer


These people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men. —Isaiah 29:13

You may have heard the old adage that says there are no atheists in foxholes. Actually, I think there may be some. But when the chips are down, most people will pray.

Remember the story of Jonah? He ran from God and boarded a boat that was going in the opposite direction of Nineveh, where God had told him to go. A great storm came, and the terrified sailors started calling on their gods. Meanwhile, Jonah had found his way to the ship’s hold and was sound asleep. The captain found Jonah and said, “What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish” (Jonah 1:6).

That is the way most people are. When we are in danger, we will call on God. But it is possible to pray all day long and never communicate with God. We can fervently say our prayers and never be heard. In Luke 18 we find a story Jesus told about a Pharisee and a tax collector who went to the temple to pray. The Pharisee “stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men’ ” (verse 11). Meanwhile, the tax collector prayed, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (verse 13). Jesus said that God heard the prayer of the sinner rather than the words of the self-righteous Pharisee.

You can pray and never really have a relationship with God. You can offer up prayers and never really pray. Psalm 66:18 says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.” You can pray with all the passion and consistency in the world, but if your sin has not been confessed to God, then it won’t do you any good.

Max Lucado – Accepting God as Your Father

Max Lucado

I can’t assure you your family will ever give you the blessing you seek, but God will! Let God give you what your family doesn’t.

How do you do that? By emotionally accepting God as your father. It’s one thing to accept Him as Lord, another to recognize Him as Savior, but another matter entirely to accept Him as Father.

To recognize God as Lord is to acknowledge that he is sovereign in the universe.

To accept Him as Savior is to accept His gift of salvation offered on the cross.

To regard Him as Father is to go a step further. Ideally, a father is the one in your life who provides and protects. That’s exactly what God has done!

God has proven Himself as a faithful father. Now, let God fill the void others have left. You’re His child and “God will give you the blessing He promised!” (Gal. 4:7).

From  The Lucado Inspirational Reader

Charles Stanley – When Temptation Knocks

Charles Stanley

What makes a person successful at resisting temptation? I believe the best way to discover how to overcome temptation is to look at the One who dealt with every temptation successfully and consistently. The writer of Hebrews wrote of Christ:

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15).

Since Jesus successfully overcame temptation, we would do well to study his strategy for dealing with it. Unfortunately, we have only one clear passage of Scripture describing Christ’s encounter with temptation. We know from the Hebrews passage cited above that He was tempted more often than this, but the Holy Spirit chose not to include these in the Gospels.

Strangely enough, Jesus’ approach is so straightforward and simple that many believers tend to overlook it entirely. Others, after hearing it, make the most ridiculous excuses as to why they can not follow His example.

What was His strategy? After 40 days of fasting in the desert, Jesus used Scripture, and only Scripture, to resist Satan’s temptation (Matt. 4:1-11). This is hard for me to comprehend. The Son of God—the One who knows all things and has the power to do all things, the One whose words we study, memorize, and meditate on—never made an original comment during the entire interaction.

He never drew on his own wit. He never even relied on His own power. He simply responded with the truth of God’s Word. That’s all it took. Nothing fancy. Just the plain truth directed at the deception behind each of Satan’s requests. Jesus verbally confronted Satan with the truth, and eventually Satan gave up and left.

There are four primary reasons why a well-chosen passage or verse of Scripture is so effective against temptation.

First of all, God’s Word exposes the sinfulness of what you are being tempted to do. One of Satan’s subtle snares is to convince you that sin is really not so bad after all. God’s Word allows you to see things for what they really are.

A second reason the Word of God is so effective against temptation is that you gain God’s viewpoint through it. Since many temptations carry a strong emotional punch, you tend to get caught up in your feelings. Once you identify with the feelings temptation evokes, it becomes increasingly difficult to respond correctly. The truth of Scripture allows you to separate yourself just far enough mentally to deal with it successfully.

Another reason for turning to God’s Word in times of temptation is what one pastor calls the principle of displacement.1 This principle is based on the premise that it is impossible not to think about a seductive topic unless you turn your attention elsewhere. When you turn your thoughts to the Word of God during temptation, you do just that (Phil. 4:8).

If you don’t shift your attention away from the temptation, you may begin some form of mental dialogue: I really shouldn’t. But I haven’t done this in a long time. I am really going to hate myself later. Why not? I’ve already blown it. I’ll do it just this once, and tomorrow I’ll start over. When you allow these little discussions to begin, you’re sunk. The longer you talk, the more time the temptation has to settle into your emotions and will.

The fourth reason the Word of God is so effective against temptation is that you are expressing faith when you turn your attention to His Word. You are saying, “I believe God is able to get me through this; I believe He is mightier than the power of sin, my flesh, and Satan himself.” Nothing moves God like the active faith of His people.

To effectively combat the onslaughts of the enemy, you need an arsenal of verses on the tip of your tongue. Verses so familiar that they come to mind without any conscious effort on your part. If you have to dig them up from the caverns of your memory, they will do you no good. There isn’t time for that in the midst of temptation.

Begin memorizing scriptures that address the area that troubles you the most. Quote them audibly when you are tempted. When you speak the truth out loud, it’s as if you have taken a stand with God against the enemy. When I do this, I often feel a sense of courage and conviction sweeping over me. Remember, if the perfect, sinless, sovereign Son of God relied on Scripture to pull Him through, what hope do you have without it?

1. Bud Palmberg, “Private Sins of Public Ministry,” Leadership magazine (Winter 1988)

Adapted from “Winning the War Within: Facing Trials, Temptations and Inner Struggles by Charles F. Stanley, 1988.