Tag Archives: church

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Cheer Up; He Has Overcome

 

“I have told you all this so that you will have peace of heart and mind. Here on earth you will have many sorrows and trials; but cheer up, for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

I know of few promises in all the Word of God that offer more assurance and encouragement than this one.

The apostle Paul was an aggressive soldier of God who carried the gospel far and wide throughout the known world. He was greatly used of God to expand the territorial borders of Christendom. All that Paul did, he did in the name of Christ and through the power and control of the Holy Spirit.

But there was great opposition to Paul’s ministry. Consequently, he always seemed to be in the center of spiritual warfare. He knew his enemies, Satan and the world system, and their subtle, deceiving devices.

Throughout his Christian life, he suffered various kinds of persecutions, including stonings, beatings and imprisonment. In spite of such harsh persecution, Paul could write, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice” (Philipians 4:4, NAS).

It was during Paul’s imprisonment in Rome, about 61 or 62 A.D., that he wrote to the church at Ephesus. The theme of his letter is supernatural living, and he talks about the Christian’s spiritual warfare. He tells us that the battle we fight is against Satan and the spiritual forces of wickedness, not against other people.

The apostle Paul experienced the supernatural peace of heart and mind which Jesus promised, a promise which we too can claim, in times of difficulty, testing and even persecution.

Bible Reading: John 16:25-32

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Today I will claim the peace of heart and mind which Jesus promised to all who trust and obey Him. Deliberately and faithfully I will seek to put on the whole armor of God so that I will be fully prepared to withstand the wiles of the enemy and thus live a supernatural life for the glory of God.

Presidential Prayer Team; P.G. – Maundy Thursday

 

The oldest and most important Christian commemorative service was initiated by Jesus when He instructed His disciples on the practice of the bread and the cup just hours before He was arrested. His closest friends didn’t know what was coming, but the Lord did…and He told them of the symbols by which to remember His impending death.

There will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. Acts 24:15

The name of the Thursday of Holy Week – Maundy – is derived from the Latin word mandatum meaning “mandate” or “command.” The instruction Jesus gave His disciples that evening was to love one another. He, of course, knew the greatest love, laying down one’s life for a friend, was His commission from the Father, one He was about to fulfill.

It would be a hopeless tale were it to stop there, but it doesn’t. The enormous power God’s love raised Him, and by His resurrection, you have hope! The justified shall be resurrected to His glory. But those who have denied Christ will be raised to face Him in judgment.

Share Jesus’ love today, in your life and in your prayers, as you gratefully acknowledge the hope you have. Pray that God will bathe America’s leaders in His irresistible love.

Recommended Reading: Luke 22:10-22

Greg Laurie – Surrender at Gethsemane

 

Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.”—Mark 14:34

Have you ever felt lonely? Have you ever felt as though your friends and family had abandoned you? Have you ever felt like you were misunderstood? Have you ever had a hard time understanding or submitting to the will of God for your life?

If so, then you have an idea of what the Lord Jesus went through as He agonized at Gethsemane.

Hebrews tells us, “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it” (4:15–16 NLT).

The Bible tells us that Jesus was “a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief” (Isaiah 53:3 NLT). But the sorrow He experienced in Gethsemane on the night before His crucifixion seemed to be the culmination of all the sorrow He had ever known and would accelerate to a climax the following day. The ultimate triumph that was to take place at Calvary was first accomplished beneath the gnarled old olive trees of Gethsemane.

It is interesting that the very word Gethsemane means “olive press.” Olives were pressed there to make oil, and truly, Jesus was being pressed from all sides that He might bring life to us. I don’t think we can even begin to fathom what He was going through.

But look at what it accomplished. It brought about your salvation and mine. Because of what Jesus went through at Gethsemane and ultimately at the cross, we can call upon His name. Though it was an unfathomably painful, horrific transition, it was necessary for the ultimate goal of what was accomplished.

Maybe you are at a crisis point in your life right now—a personal Gethsemane, if you will. You have your will; you know what you want. Yet you can sense that God’s will is different.

Would you let the Lord choose for you? Would you be willing to say, “Lord, I am submitting my will to Yours. Not my will, but yours be done”? You will not regret making that decision.

Max Lucado – Eternal Choices

 

God gives eternal choices, and these choices have eternal consequences.

Isn’t this the reminder of Calvary’s trio?  Ever wonder why there were two crosses next to Christ?  Why not six or ten?  Ever wonder why Jesus was in the center?  Could it be the two crosses on the hill symbolize one of God’s greatest gifts?  The gift of choice. The two criminals were convicted by the same system.  Condemned to death.  Equally close to the same Jesus.  But one changed and one did not.

You’ve made some bad choices in life, haven’t you?  You look back and you say, “If only I could make up for those bad choices.”  You can.  When one thief on the cross prayed, Jesus loved him enough to save him.  When the other mocked, Jesus loved him enough to let him.  He allowed him the choice. And he does the same for you and me.

Then (the thief) said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”  Luke 23:42-43

Charles Stanley – Breaking Free from Worry

 

Matthew 6:25-34

What is it that you worry about most? Is it your health, your family, or perhaps your finances? Most Christians will claim to believe that the heavenly Father cares for us and His promises are dependable. And yet far too many keep right on worrying.

It is important for us to distinguish between worry and legitimate concern. We undoubtedly want to be known as reliable members of society, which involves having a sense of responsibility so that we will carry our load and correct things in need of repair. But worry is more than that—it’s a corrosive poison that eats away at our trust in God. What can we do about anxiety?

To start with, we need to be aware of the difference between being a believer in Jesus and being a follower of Jesus. A believer is one who has placed his trust in the Lord for salvation and has received the gift of eternal life. A follower goes beyond that and attempts to know and obey God.

Through the Word of God, we as His followers become increasingly knowledgeable about His nature and His care for us. When we become fully convinced that our God is as good and loving as the Bible depicts Him, we will surely avoid the ways of worry.

Scripture teaches that God knows all our needs, concerns, and desires but still commands us not to worry. Think about that. Would He ever command something and not enable you to do it? Absolutely not! He wants your trust and—if You allow Him—will prove to you that worry is unnecessary.

Our Daily Bread — Too Heavy

 

Matthew 11:28-30

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. —Matthew 11:28

As I started up my car in the dark hours of early morning, I noticed a seatbelt light on the dashboard. I checked my door, opening and pulling it shut again. I tugged on my seatbelt to test it. But the sensor light still beamed. Then, in slow realization, I reached over and lifted my purse a few inches above the passenger seat. The light clicked off.

Apparently, a cell phone, three rolls of quarters, a hardcover book, and my lunch stuffed in my very large purse had equaled the weight of a small passenger, thus setting off the sensor!

While I can easily empty out a handbag, other weights are not so easy to shed. Those burdens of life involve a heaviness of spirit.

Whether the burden that weighs us down is one of guilt such as the one that consumed David’s thoughts (Ps. 32:1-6), the fear Peter experienced (Matt. 26:20-35), or the doubt Thomas carried (John 20:24-29), Jesus has invited us to bring them all to Him: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).

We are not built to bear burdens alone. When we cast them on the One who wants to bear our burdens (Ps. 68:19; 1 Peter 5:7), He replaces them with forgiveness, healing, and restoration. No burden is too heavy for Him. —Cindy Hess Kasper

Lord, thank You for lovingly carrying our burdens.

In times of trouble, help us to leave those burdens

in Your strong hands and to find our rest in You.

In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

Burden God with what burdens you.

John MacArthur – Appreciating God’s Gifts

 

“Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11).

God has given us everything good to enjoy, including rain to make things grow, minerals to make the soil fertile, animals for food and clothing, and energy for industry and transportation. Everything we have is from Him, and we are to be thankful for it all.

Jesus said, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matt. 7:11). James 1:17 says, “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.” Paul added, “Everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer” (1 Tim. 4:4-5).

Sadly, unbelievers don’t acknowledge God’s goodness, though they benefit from it every day. They attribute His providential care to luck or fate and His gracious provisions to nature or false gods. They do not honor Him as God or give Him thanks (Rom. 1:21).

The great Puritan writer Thomas Watson wrote, “If all be a gift, see the odious ingratitude of men who sin against their giver! God feeds them, and they fight against him; he gives them bread, and they give him affronts. How unworthy is this! Should we not cry shame of him who had a friend always feeding him with money, and yet he should betray and injure him? Thus ungratefully do sinners deal with God; they not only forget his mercies, but abuse them. ‘When I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery [Jer. 5:7].’ Oh, how horrid is it to sin against a bountiful God!–to strike the hands that relieve us!” (The Lord’s Prayer [London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1972], p. 197).

How sad to see such ingratitude, yet how thrilling to know that the infinite God cares for us and supplies our every need. Don’t ever take His provisions for granted! Look to Him daily and receive His gifts with a thankful heart.

Suggestions for Prayer: Be generous with your praise for God’s abundant blessings.

For Further Study: Read Genesis 1:29-31, noting the variety of foods God created for your enjoyment.

Joyce Meyer – A Transformed Mind

 

Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you]. —Romans 12:2

Paul used two interesting words in Romans 12:2. I asked a friend who is a Greek scholar to help me understand the difference between conform and transform.

He told me the word translated conform referred to the outward form. For example, my outward form at age twenty was quite different from what I’ll look like at age seventy. The body changes, but it was more than that. He said the Greek word carried the idea of the changes we make according to the fashion—what was in vogue at the time—much like the way our culture goes today. One year, skirt hems are above the ankle; another year, above the knee. Those things are constantly changing.

The word Paul used for being transformed from the world refers to the essential part of ourselves—the part that doesn’t change. He was saying that if we want to worship and serve God, we must undergo a change—but not only of our outward form. The change must be inward, and it involves our personality, our mind, and our essential being.

Outward fashions may change, but inner purity is always in style.

Romans 12:1, the verse that starts this chapter, exhorts us to present ourselves to God as a living a sacrifice. Only Christians can do that. His words are not about becoming believers, but they are about living as believers. This scripture challenges us to present all of our members to God for His use. That means our minds, mouths, wills, emotions, eyes, ears, hands, feet, et cetera.

I have to admit that for many years, I was active in the church, and I had accepted Jesus as my Savior. I knew I’d go to heaven, but I am not sure my daily witness would have encouraged anyone else to make a commitment to Jesus Christ. I had no victory, and I wasn’t even aware for a long time that I needed victory. I guess I thought life was being miserable all week and going to church on Sunday, hoping God would forgive me for not being a good person.

God changed that for me. He helped me understand through His Word that He not only sent Jesus to die for us so we could go to heaven, but also so we could live victoriously right here on earth. We are more than conquerors (see Romans 8:37), and our life should include righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (see Romans 14:17).

If we want to see God’s perfect will proven in our lives, we can—but we have to have our minds transformed. We have to think different thoughts and look at life differently. We have to have disciplined minds. We must begin to think in agreement with God’s Word and not the devil’s lies.

Although God has a different plan for each one of us, one thing is the same: We are to have minds that are inwardly transformed. If our minds are transformed by the Holy Spirit, we will act differently. I know I did. Church became a place for me to celebrate and to learn with my brothers and sisters in the faith. I began to understand worship, and I became a participant rather than someone who simply went through the motions.

Does your life need to be transformed? Start by being willing to think right thoughts, and then you’ll see the change in yourself…and so will others around you.

Holy Spirit of God, please help me live a life that’s transformed by the renewing of my mind. Help me live a life that shows Your perfect will, not only to me but also to the world. I ask this through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Our Hearts’ Desires

 

“Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24, KJV).

Jesus, assuming that our lives are pure and we are Spirit-filled, declares that our heartfelt desires will be God-given. When God gives us those desires, He then gives us the power to fulfill them (Philippians 2:13). Sometimes when God gives you a desire that is based upon Scripture, one that springs from pure motives and a desire to glorify Him, that desire may continue over a period of time as you continue in the spirit of prayer and seek counsel of other godly people who also walk in the Spirit, but you can be assured that whatever God has placed in your heart, He will do.

For example, one of the great desires of my heart as a new Christian was to produce a film on the life of Jesus. I contacted and sought the counsel of the late Cecil B. De Mille who produced the magnificent “King of Kings,” which, after more than fifty years is still being viewed by millions of people each year throughout the world. I continued to pray and many years later discussed with members of our Board of Directors whether or not we should produce such a film. They encouraged me to do whatever God led me to do, but made it clear that funds would have to be available before we could produce the film. The years passed – more than thirty years, in fact. Then miracle of miracles, in a marvelous way at Arrowhead Springs God brought together John Hyeman, a well-known film producer and director, and Bunker and Caroline Hunt to provide the finances, and the film, Jesus, became a dramatic reality.

Already, this film has been translated into more languages than any film in history and it is our goal to complete the translation into at least 271 languages which will represent every group in the world with a million or more population. We expect to have at least 2,000 teams showing the film each night to as many as four million people or even more when this massive project is in full swing. It is our prayerful objective that at least one billion people will be introduced to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through the ministry of this film.

My point is, the desire was placed in my heart and, though that desire did not continue on a daily basis, from time to time God would remind me and I would pray for and claim again by faith the fulfillment of that dream. And now, years later, this desire is becoming a joyful reality.

Presidential Prayer Team; C.P. – The Passover Lamb

 

The last of the plagues the Lord brought on Egypt before evacuating the Israelites was the death of the firstborn son. In order for the Jews to escape, they had to put a lamb’s blood over the door posts so the angel of death would pass over them. Thereafter, according to the Lord’s instructions, the Jews have celebrated Passover.

Declared to be the Son of God in power…by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ. Romans 1:4

It was no accident that Christ’s crucifixion happened during Passover. Jesus was the Passover lamb (I Corinthians 5:7) shedding His blood so God’s wrath passes over those who trust in Him. John the Baptist introduced Jesus by saying, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

This Easter, thank the Father for the death, burial and resurrection of Christ and His promise to believers of eternal life. Aim to glorify Him in all you think, say and do – and when others ask about the hope you have, be ready with an answer (I Peter 3:15). Pray for your leaders in Washington, that many will turn to Christ and that God will continue to pour out His mercy and grace on this nation.

Recommended Reading: Exodus 12:21-30

Greg Laurie – Easter Brings Hope

 

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.”—John 11:25

Easter is not about brightly colored eggs, wearing pastels, or enjoying a big meal, although it could include these. Easter is about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

For some, Easter will be a great day, spent surrounded by family and friends. But for others, it will be a sad day, because Easter is a reminder of a loved one who has died and is now desperately missed.

Death seems so cruel, so harsh, and so final. That is what the disciples were feeling when they saw their Lord, whom they had left everything to follow, hanging on the cross. They were devastated. Death had crushed them. But if they would have gone back in their memories, they would have recalled an important event and statement Jesus had made.

They would have remembered Jesus standing at the tomb of his close friend Lazarus. They would have remembered that Jesus did something completely unexpected: He wept (see John 11:35). Jesus wept, because He knew that death was not part of God’s original plan. Humanity was not meant to grow old, to suffer with disease, or to die. But because of the sin of Adam and Eve, sin entered the human race, and death followed with it. And death spread to all of us. Jesus wept, because it broke His heart.

But standing there at Lazarus’ tomb, Jesus also delivered these hope-filled words: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:25). Death is not the end. And the resurrection of Jesus Christ proves it.

If you have put your faith in Christ, then Easter means that you will live forever in the presence of God. Easter brings hope to the person who has been devastated by death.

Max Lucado – Just for You

 

What is the fruit of sin?  Step into the briar patch of humanity and feel a few thistles.  Shame. Fear. Disgrace. Discouragement. Anxiety.  Haven’t our hearts been caught in these brambles?

The heart of Jesus, however, had not.  He had never been cut by the thorns of sin.  What you and I face daily—he never knew.  He never worried. He was never guilty.  He never knew the fruit of sin until he became sin for us.  And when he did—all the emotions of sin tumbled in on him like shadows in a forest.  He felt anxious, guilty, and alone. Can you not hear the emotion in his prayer?

“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”  This prayer is one of the most remarkable parts of his coming.  But there’s something even greater!  He did it for you…just for you!

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” (I Peter 2:24).

Charles Stanley – Resurrection Hope

 

What is Easter about? Greeting cards speak of “renewal,” “the promise of spring,” or even “God’s love.” To believers, however, these sentiments fall far short of the power and victory of Easter—Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

Does it really matter if Christ rose from the dead? Some would argue it doesn’t. But I submit to you that if Jesus didn’t conquer death, Christianity is a lie. Without the Resurrection, the most eloquent sermon is empty; sin still holds us captive; and our faith is nothing more than wishful thinking (1 Cor. 15:13-14,17).

The Resurrection is a fact. Those who are not quite sure, and who do not trust the Bible story, can go to the library and investigate the records of the time written by Josephus, a Jewish historian.

And for those of us who do believe the Bible is an accurate account of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have much to rejoice about.

For many years, our church, First Baptist Atlanta produced a three-hour dramatic performance about the life of Jesus. Many of those years, the civic center has been sold out for all performances. It was the highlight of the Easter season for thousands of people. I enjoyed it immensely.The basic script was “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” Each year it ended with the ascension of Jesus.

Each year as I sat there and anticipated the Resurrection scene, I felt as if I would explode with excitement. I felt tense during the trial and the beating of Jesus. I got angry at the Roman soldiers (who are my church members!) as they yelled at and hit our Savior. I grew weary and sad during Gethsemane and the Crucifixion scenes. I became exhausted after those scenes because they seemed so real to me.

Then, the music would change. The mood would change. Disciples and women would run across the stage looking for Jesus, wondering where His missing body could be. Women weep. Disciples shook their heads. Jesus’ mother is pondered. I recall wanting to stand to my feet and shout, “He’s risen, just as He said!” I never have said that, and I’m sure those around me were grateful. But I’ve wanted to.

The strangest feeling overtook me one year. As the disciples peered into the tomb and as angels hovered nearby and they cradled His folded grave-clothes in their hands, I wanted to get up and walk up on to the stage to look in the tomb, too. I knew it was empty, but I wanted to experience the thrill that those first disciples must have felt when they walked into the empty tomb.

We can’t imagine their despair and then their feeling of utter amazement and victory.

His resurrection assures our resurrection. There would still be the sting of death if He had remained dead. But He was the firstfruits of resurrection (1 Cor. 15:20). He paved the way for us.

Of course, we grieve when someone we love is taken in death. But we grieve differently from the way the world does. We do not grieve as those who have no hope (1 Thess. 4:13). We can look forward to a wonderful reunion someday with them and with the One who died—and lives—for us!

If He had remained dead, we would have nothing.

No hope. No faith. No comfort.

But we have a living Savior, who transcended the laws of death and smashed them forever.

A little girl took a caterpillar and put it in a metal box that once held Band-aids. She shut the lid tight to keep the caterpillar in and then went on her way, virtually forgetting about her wonderful catch. The caterpillar spun a tight cocoon inside the box.

One day, when the girl was at school, her mother was cleaning her room. The mom opened the box to see what treasure the little girl had hidden. Out came a beautiful butterfly.

The mother closed the bedroom door tightly, so she could show this creation to the little girl when she came home. She could hardly wait. She met her daughter at the door and said, “Guess what! You’ve kind of become a mother!”

The child couldn’t imagine what on earth her mother was talking about. But then the mother slowly opened her daughter’s door and showed her the butterfly basking in the sunshine on the window sill.

Butterflies, although a beautiful illustration of new life emerging out of something seemingly dead, do not adequately portray the Resurrection. Jesus was not in some flimsy metal box. He was in a sealed tomb with guards standing nearby. He was wrapped in a cocoon of death, yet He broke free.

The stone was rolled away from the tomb, not so Jesus could get out but so the world could look in. His resurrection assures yours. Because He lives, you will live forever.

Our Daily Bread — Let It Go

 

Mark 11:1-11

Say, “The Lord has need of it,” and immediately he will send it here. —Mark 11:3

Many years ago, when a young friend asked if he could borrow our car, my wife and I were hesitant at first. It was our car. We owned it, and we depended on it. But we soon felt convicted to share it with him because we knew that God wanted us to care for others. So we handed the keys over to him, and he traveled to a church 30 miles away to conduct a youth rally. The meeting was used by the Lord to bring teens to Christ.

Jesus instructed His disciples to take another man’s donkey. The Son of God told His men to “loose it and bring it” to Him (Mark 11:2). If someone objected, they were to say, “The Lord has need of it,” and they would then be permitted to lead it away. That donkey carried Christ into Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday.

There’s a lesson here for us to consider. We all have things that we hold dear. We may have thought, I could never part with that. It may be a new truck, a coat, some other possession, or our precious few free hours during the week. Will we be open to give when someone obviously needs something we have?

If you sense that the Spirit is speaking to you, let your time or possession go, as the owner released his animal to Jesus. He will then be glorified as He deserves! —David Egner

Make me a channel of blessing today,

Make me a channel of blessing, I pray;

My life possessing, my service blessing,

Make me a channel of blessing today. —Smyth

 

God gives us all we need, so we can give to others in their need.

 

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning  “He was heard in that he feared.” / Hebrews 5:7

Did this fear arise from the infernal suggestion that he was utterly forsaken. There may be sterner trials than this, but surely it is one of the worst to be utterly forsaken? “See,” said Satan, “thou hast a friend nowhere! Thy Father hath shut up the bowels of his compassion against thee. Not an angel in his courts will stretch out his hand to help thee. All heaven is alienated from thee; thou art left alone. See the companions with whom thou hast taken sweet counsel, what are they worth? Son of Mary, see there thy brother James, see there thy loved disciple John, and thy bold apostle Peter, how the cowards sleep when thou art in thy sufferings! Lo! Thou hast no friend left in heaven or earth. All hell is against thee. I have stirred up mine infernal den. I have sent my missives throughout all regions summoning every prince of darkness to set upon thee this night, and we will spare no arrows, we will use all our infernal might to overwhelm thee: and what wilt thou do, thou solitary one?” It may be, this was the temptation; we think it was, because the appearance of an angel unto him strengthening him removed that fear. He was heard in that he feared; he was no more alone, but heaven was with him. It may be that this is the reason of his coming three times to his disciples–as Hart puts it–  “Backwards and forwards thrice he ran,  As if he sought some help from man.”  He would see for himself whether it were really true that all men had forsaken him; he found them all asleep; but perhaps he gained some faint comfort from the thought that they were sleeping, not from treachery, but from sorrow, the spirit indeed was willing, but the flesh was weak. At any rate, he was heard in that he feared. Jesus was heard in his deepest woe; my soul, thou shalt be heard also.

 

 

Evening  “In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit.” / Luke 10:21

The Saviour was “a man of sorrows,” but every thoughtful mind has discovered the fact that down deep in his innermost soul he carried an inexhaustible treasury of refined and heavenly joy. Of all the human race, there was never a man who had a deeper, purer, or more abiding peace than our Lord Jesus Christ. “He was anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows.” His vast benevolence must, from the very nature of things, have afforded him the deepest possible delight, for benevolence is joy. There were a few remarkable seasons when this joy manifested itself. “At that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth.” Christ had his songs, though it was night with him; though his face was marred, and his countenance had lost the lustre of earthly happiness, yet sometimes it was lit up with a matchless splendour of unparalleled satisfaction, as he thought upon the recompense of the reward, and in the midst of the congregation sang his praise unto God. In this, the Lord Jesus is a blessed picture of his church on earth. At this hour the church expects to walk in sympathy with her Lord along a thorny road; through much tribulation she is forcing her way to the crown. To bear the cross is her office, and to be scorned and counted an alien by her mother’s children is her lot; and yet the church has a deep well of joy, of which none can drink but her own children. There are stores of wine, and oil, and corn, hidden in the midst of our Jerusalem, upon which the saints of God are evermore sustained and nurtured; and sometimes, as in our Saviour’s case, we have our seasons of intense delight, for “There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of our God.” Exiles though we be, we rejoice in our King; yea, in him we exceedingly rejoice, while in his name we set up our banners.

John MacArthur – Receiving God’s Provisions

 

“Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11).

In America, praying for our daily bread hardly seems necessary. Most people need to pray for self-control to avoid overeating! But Matthew 6:11 isn’t talking about food only. It is a statement of dependency on God and an acknowledgment that He alone provides all of life’s basic necessities.

Sad to say, however, many people today have reduced prayer to a means of self-fulfillment. Recently a woman sent me a booklet and wrote, “I don’t think you understand the true resource we have in prayer. You should read this booklet.” The booklet repeatedly emphasized our right as Christians to demand things of God. But that misses the point of prayer altogether, which is to glorify God (John 14:13). We are to give God the privilege of revealing His glory by meeting our needs in whatever way He chooses. If we demand things of Him, we are likely to become frustrated or to question Him when we don’t get what we want. That’s a serious sin!

David G. Myers, in his book The Human Puzzle (N.Y.: Harper and Row, 1978) said, “Some petitionary prayers seem not only to lack faith in the inherent goodness of God but also to elevate humankind to a position of control over God. God, the Scriptures remind us, is omniscient and omnipotent, the sovereign ruler of the universe. For Christians to pray as if God were a puppet whose strings they yank with their prayers seems not only potentially superstitious but blasphemous as well.

“When prayer is sold as a device for eliciting health, success, and other favors from a celestial vending machine, we may wonder what is really being merchandised. Is this faith or is it faith’s counterfeit, a glib caricature of true Christianity?”

Guard your prayers! Always be aware of the enormous privilege you have to approach the infinite God and receive His gracious provisions. Yet always do so with His glory as your highest goal.

Suggestions for Prayer: Read Proverbs 30:8-9. What attitude toward God do those verses convey? Is that your attitude in prayer?

For Further Study: Read Matthew 6:19-34 and James 4:3. How might you respond to someone who says Christians have the right to demand favors from God?

Joyce Meyer – There Is a Way Out

 

We are hedged in (pressed) on every side [troubled and oppressed in every way], but not cramped or crushed; we suffer embarrassments and are perplexed and unable to find a way out, but not driven to despair. —2 Corinthians 4:8

Despair is a state in which a person feels so overcome by a sense of futility or defeat they don’t know what to do. At such times it seems there is no way out. But for believers there is always a way out of every situation because Jesus has told us, “I am the Way” (John 14:6).

It is very comforting to know that although there are times when you are pressed on every side and perplexed because there seems to be no way out, the Lord has promised He will not forsake you.

So when it seems you’ve come to a dead end, don’t be driven to despair. God will show you the way to go and lead you through to victory.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – According to Your Faith

 

“Then touched He their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you” (Matthew 9:29, KJV).

A poor heathen woman, after receiving Christ as her Savior, was remarkable for her simple faith. She decided to take Him literally at His word.

A few months after her conversion her little child became ill, and recovery was doubtful. Ice was needed for the little one, but in that tropical country, away from the world’s large cities, such a thing was not to be had.

“I’m going to ask God to send ice,” the mother said to a missionary.

“Oh,” came the quick reply, “but you can’t expect that He will do that.”

“Why not?” asked the simple-hearted believer. “He has all the power, and He loves us. You told us so. I’ll ask Him, and I believe He’ll send it.”

She did ask Him, and strange things began to happen. Soon there came up a heavy thunderstorm, accompanied by hail. The woman was able to gather a large quantity of hailstones. The cold application was just what the child needed. Recovery of the sick child soon followed. In our sophistication and intellectualism we, like the missionary and most other Christians, would tend to question the audacity of such a prayer.

Faith as a little child always brings the desired answer. “According to your faith be it unto you.” And where does such faith originate? “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

Bible Reading: Matthew 9:27-31

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  If my storehouse of faith proves insufficient to enable me to live supernaturally or to believe God for a specific need, I will spend time in His Word to build up that storehouse of faith.

Presidential Prayer Team; J.K. – Hope with Authority

 

Where would you be without hope? There would be no purpose for living, no word of comfort in time of death. That is why Jesus’ words in today’s verse have so much meaning. “I am the resurrection and the life.” They’re words spoken by the giver of truth; words to be believed!

I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live. John 11:25

They’re also words given with authority and power, exemplified three times by His raising the dead to life – the young man from Nain, Jairus’ daughter and Lazarus (Luke 7:11-15, Luke 8:49-56, John 11:1-44). More convincing still was His own resurrection, the historical proof of which cannot be overturned. This is the truth upon which His church has been founded. Because you believe, though you will die, yet you shall live…because He lives!

On this Palm Sunday as you enter Holy Week, remember the gravity of your sin and the intense suffering of your Lord. Remember also that Jesus’ resurrection gives you hope for your life.

Intercede now for those who know not this joy and purpose for living – leaders of this nation, neighbors and friends. Then give thanks for the life you have in Him.

Recommended Reading: Romans 15:4-13

Charles Stanley – All About Jesus

 

Revelation 21:10-27

All of us have sinned, and our transgressions demand atonement. Because of this, God the Father sent His Son to die in our place and pay our sin debt in full. We are forgiven on the basis of the price He paid, and if we accept His sacrifice on our behalf, our names will be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Christ’s death on the cross paved the way for us to go to heaven. Because He died, not only can we live for eternity, but we also get to enjoy a personal relationship with the Lord while we are here on earth. It’s all wrapped up in the cross. It’s all about Jesus.

Have you ever acknowledged your sin against God? Are you willing to ask Him to forgive you—not on the basis of who you are or what you’ve done, but based on the simple truth that Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God, went to the cross in your place?

If you are willing to confess your sin, turn from it, and yield your life to the Lord, the Holy Spirit will come into your heart and seal you forever as a child of God. You can live the rest of your life knowing that no matter what happens, as you travel the peaks and valleys of life, you are forever safe in the arms of Almighty God—and eternal life in His presence awaits you.

When you think about what Jesus endured in order to atone for your sins, the only appropriate response is humble gratitude. Pray that the Spirit of God will penetrate any arrogance or resistance so you can truly acknowledge, privately and then publicly, that the cross is our only hope.