Tag Archives: daily devotion

Presidential Prayer Team – Know His Power

 

The Jewish leaders, the Sadducees, to whom Jesus spoke did not believe in resurrection or the power of God. They were sad, you see, because they really didn’t know Scripture. They were wrong in their beliefs and unwilling to acknowledge the power of God in Christ.

You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.

Matthew 22:29

Jesus even quoted Exodus 3:6 to them when God appointed Moses rescuer of Israel: “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” God is not “God of the dead, but of the living.” (Matthew 22:32) They should have at least understood that His power was able. But they refused to accept it.

And so it is today! So many believe they know what the Word says, but they really haven’t taken the time to sit, study and reflect on the character of God and what He can work through them.

Do you reserve consistent time to read and meditate on Scripture? Intercede for this nation’s leaders, that they may know the true God and then know the wonder-working power He gives to those who believe. And know Him personally…willing to do whatever He desires of you.

Recommended Reading: Jeremiah 32:16-27

Greg Laurie – Your Life Depends on It

 

The word disciple means “learner.” A disciple is a pupil, one who comes to be taught. But a disciple is not a passively interested listener. The idea of a disciple is that of someone who listens to one who possesses full knowledge, drinking in every word and marking every inflection of the voice, with an intense desire to apply what has been taught. A disciple really wants to learn.

I daydreamed my way through a good portion of my early education. But I have found that I will listen when something is important to me. I must admit that when I fly, I don’t listen all that closely to the flight attendants’ safety instructions at the beginning of the flight. I note where the emergency exits are and then go on with whatever I am doing. If the plane were going down, however, and I knew that I had twenty minutes before impact, you can be sure I would listen carefully to any safety announcement made at that time.

Why? Because my life would depend upon it.

Our spiritual lives depend on knowing the Bible.

A disciple is one who listens carefully and pays attention, because the most important thing is to know what God requires, what God desires, and what God wills. What is the best way to discover these things? We find the answers to all of these questions in the Word of God. For to obey God in anything, we must first know what He asks.

Charles Stanley – How We Don’t Get to Heaven

 

John 3:1-17

If asked, “Why should you go to heaven?” most people will answer very sincerely that the basis of their acceptance by God is the fact that a) they are pretty good or b) they aren’t sinful and therefore don’t deserve to be condemned. This is a prevalent theological fallacy in our world today. As a young man, I attended three different churches before somebody told me the truth about salvation.

In reality, it doesn’t matter what kind of a person you are—the issue is the simple truth of God’s Word. The misguided idea that we can earn salvation has devastating implications. For one thing, if you could enter heaven based on your earthly merits, Jesus’ death at Calvary would have been totally unnecessary. And if that were the case, it would follow that God the Father made a terrible mistake in sending His Son to a cruel death. What’s more, if salvation were possible apart from Jesus Christ, then you’d be able to have a personal relationship with God apart from Jesus Christ as well.

We must not distort God’s great love for us by using faulty theology. We are forgiven solely on the basis of Jesus Christ’s incredible sacrifice—which comes from a place of unconditional love. If we base our salvation on anything else, we destroy the cornerstone of Christianity.

It’s important to learn Scripture well enough to discern truth from false teaching. Many people go to churches that claim, “God loves everyone, so you’ll be okay if you just do your best.” If that were the case, Christianity wouldn’t be symbolized by a cross, because Calvary would have been a mistake.

 

Our Daily Bread — Expect Great Things

 

Hebrews 11:32-40

Who through faith . . . out of weakness were made strong. —Hebrews 11:33-34

William Carey was an ordinary man with an extraordinary faith. Born into a working-class family in the 18th century, Carey made his living as a shoemaker. While crafting shoes, Carey read theology and journals of explorers. God used His Word and the stories of the discovery of new people groups to burden him for global evangelism. He went to India as a missionary, and not only did he do the work of an evangelist but he learned Indian dialects into which he translated the Word of God. Carey’s passion for missions is expressed by his words: “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.” Carey lived out this maxim, and thousands have been inspired to do missionary service by his example.

The Bible tells of many whose faith in God produced amazing results. Hebrews tells of those “who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong” (11:33-34).

The list of heroes of the faith has grown through the ages, and we can be a part of that list. Because of God’s power and faithfulness, we can attempt great things for God and expect great things from God. —Dennis Fisher

If God can hang the stars on high,

Can paint the clouds that drift on by,

Can send the sun across the sky,

What can His power do through you? —Jones

 

When God is your partner, you can make your plans large!

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Mystery of Faith

 

Long before Horatio Caine or Gil Grissom made crime scene investigating a primetime enterprise, the Bloodhound Gang was “there on the double” “wherever there’s trouble,” a doughty group of junior detectives who used science to solve crimes. Written by Newbery Medal-winning children’s author Sid Fleischman, the Bloodhound Gang was a beloved segment on the PBS television program 3-2-1 Contact, and my first encounter with the almost unbearable suspension, “To be continued.” Thankfully, with the help of their knowledge of science, no mystery remained unsolved for long.

What I did not realize at the time, or through years of absorbing Unsolved Mysteries, CSI, and my own scientific pursuits, was the hold that simple word “solve” would have on my understanding of mystery. For the Bloodhound Gang, as much as for the philosophers of science who have given rise to the notion, science is the invasion and defeat of mystery. That is to say, for many scientists (though certainly not for all historically), mysteries are there to be solved and put finally beyond us.

One can see how such a notion fuels the perception that science and faith are at odds with one another; science being the conquest of mystery and faith the act of making room for it. For Steven Pinker, Harvard Professor and cognitive scientist, certain aspects of religious belief can be thought of as “desperate measure[s] that people resort to when the stakes are high and they’ve exhausted the usual techniques for the causation of success.”(1) In other words, religion, like the story of the stork for parents not ready for their kids to know where babies come from, is simply a desperate attempt to explain away mystery, even if only by making space for it. And faith is thus seen as the grossly inferior CSI agent.

But what if mystery is less like a case for the Bloodhound Gang and more like the molecule of DNA they use to solve the crime? In so much of the culture in which we operate today, mystery is thought of in reductionistic terms. It is a momentary fascination that needs some higher reasoning, future information, or an hour of crime scene investigating to solve and explain. Everything we do technologically, medically, and scientifically is an attempt to put an end to mystery—to explain everything. But is that remotely possible? And would a reasonable explanation always dispel the mystery in the first place? As Thomas Huxley once put it, “[H]ow is it that anything so remarkable as a state of consciousness comes about as a result of irritating nervous tissue?”(2) Is mystery always something to be solved?

In fact, the Greek word ‘mysterion,’ from which we get the word “mystery” does not necessarily mean something that is concealed (and hence, in need of our solution). It can also mean something that is revealed—as in a secret. In other words, mystery is not a problem in need of resolution, a concealed issue in need of an explanation. But mystery in this sense is something shown or given, albeit in a surprising, obscure way. It is in this sense of the word that early church father Tertullian spoke of the mystery of faith and ceremonial acts that join the believer to Christ—namely, our baptisms into his life, death, and resurrection, our celebration and consumption of his body and blood. It is a mystery, a gift, a fuller life revealed. Faith is not a theological solution to mystery in the CSI sense of the word; it is the celebration of this mystery—indeed, The mystery.

And at this, it is a mystery all the more captivating than those that can be solved in an hour or in a microscope. For it is a mystery that God has revealed to minds which don’t fully understand or yet fully see, a mystery worthy of a whole lifetime. It is mystery reminiscent of the words of Simone Weil: “God wears Himself out through the infinite thickness of time and space in order to reach the soul and to captivate it…it has in its turn, but gropingly, to cross the infinite thickness of time and space in search of Him whom it loves. It is thus that the soul, starting from the opposite end, makes the same journey that God made towards it. And that is the cross.”(3)

Every Sunday before holding the bread by which we remember all that has been revealed in Christ, all that has been given in the cross, whether seen in part or partly understood, Christians profess in unison the mystery of faith. It is a mystery that does not need my solution, a mystery that continues to surprise, to nourish, and to reveal itself in life and in death: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

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

(1) Steven Pinker, “The Evolutionary Psychology of Religion,” presented at the annual meeting of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, Madison, Wisconsin, October 29, 2004.

(2) T.H. Huxley & W.J. Youmans, The Elements of Physiology and Hygiene: A Text-book for Educational Institutions (New York: Appleton & Co., 1868), 178.

(3) Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace, trans. Arthur Wills (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997), 140-141.

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning “Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the

spices thereof may flow out.” / Song of Solomon 4:16

Anything is better than the dead calm of indifference. Our souls may wisely desire the north wind of trouble if that alone can be sanctified to the drawing forth of the perfume of our graces. So long as it cannot be said, “The Lord was not in the wind,” we will not shrink from the most wintry blast that ever blew upon plants of grace. Did not the spouse in this verse humbly submit herself to the reproofs of her Beloved; only entreating him to send forth his grace in some form, and making no stipulation as to the peculiar manner in which it should come? Did she not, like ourselves, become so utterly weary of deadness and unholy calm that she sighed for any visitation which would brace her to action? Yet she desires the warm south wind of comfort, too, the smiles of divine love, the joy of the Redeemer’s presence; these are often mightily effectual to arouse our sluggish life. She desires either one or the other, or both; so that she may but be able to delight her Beloved with the spices of her garden. She cannot endure to be unprofitable, nor can we. How cheering a thought that Jesus can find comfort in our poor feeble graces. Can it be? It seems far too good to be true. Well may we court trial or even death itself if we shall thereby be aided to make glad Immanuel’s heart. O that our heart were crushed to atoms if only by such bruising our sweet Lord Jesus could be glorified. Graces unexercised are as sweet perfumes slumbering in the cups of the flowers: the wisdom of the great Husbandman overrules diverse and opposite causes to produce the one desired result, and makes both affliction and consolation draw forth the grateful odours of faith, love, patience, hope, resignation, joy, and the other fair flowers of the garden. May we know by sweet experience, what this means.

 

Evening  “He is precious.” / 1 Peter 2:7

As all the rivers run into the sea, so all delights centre in our Beloved. The glances of his eyes outshine the sun: the beauties of his face are fairer than the choicest flowers: no fragrance is like the breath of his mouth. Gems of the mine, and pearls from the sea, are worthless things when measured by his preciousness. Peter tells us that Jesus is precious, but he did not and could not tell us how precious, nor could any of us compute the value of God’s unspeakable gift. Words cannot set forth the preciousness of the Lord Jesus to his people, nor fully tell how essential he is to their satisfaction and happiness. Believer, have you not found in the midst of plenty a sore famine if your Lord has been absent? The sun was shining, but Christ had hidden himself, and all the world was black to you; or it was night, and since the bright and morning star was gone, no other star could yield you so much as a ray of light. What a howling wilderness is this world without our Lord! If once he hideth himself from us, withered are the flowers of our garden; our pleasant fruits decay; the birds suspend their songs, and a tempest overturns our hopes. All earth’s candles cannot make daylight if the Sun of Righteousness be eclipsed. He is the soul of our soul, the light of our light, the life of our life. Dear reader, what wouldst thou do in the world without him, when thou wakest up and lookest forward to the day’s battle? What wouldst thou do at night, when thou comest home jaded and weary, if there were no door of fellowship between thee and Christ? Blessed be his name, he will not suffer us to try our lot without him, for Jesus never forsakes his own. Yet, let the thought of what life would be without him enhance his preciousness.

 

John MacArthur – Unceasing Prayer

 

“Pray at all times in the Spirit” (Eph. 6:18).

Prayer is communication with God, and like all communication, it can be developed to maximum efficiency or allowed to languish. Which you choose will determine the quality of your spiritual life.

Ironically, the freedom of worship we enjoy in our society and our high standard of living make it easy to become complacent about prayer and presume on God’s grace. Consequently, many who say they trust in God actually live as if they don’t need Him at all. Such neglect is sinful and leads to spiritual disaster.

Jesus taught that “men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1, KJV). “Faint” speaks of giving in to evil or becoming weary or cowardly. Paul added that we should pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and petition, and “be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18).

First Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray without ceasing.” That doesn’t mean to do nothing but pray. It simply means living in a constant state of God-consciousness. If you see a beautiful sunrise or a bouquet of flowers, your first response is to thank God for the beauty of His creation. If you see someone in distress, you intercede on his or her behalf. You see every experience of life in relation to God.

God wants you to be diligent and faithful in prayer. With that goal in mind we will devote this month to a study of prayer from two texts: Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 9:1-19, and the disciples’ prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. Both are models of majestic, effective prayer.

As we study those passages together, be aware of your own pattern of prayer. Examine it carefully for strengths and weaknesses. Be prepared to make any necessary changes.

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for the privilege of communing with Him in prayer.

Ask Him to reveal any areas in your praying that need to be strengthened.

For Further Study: Read Daniel 9:1-19.

What prompted Daniel’s prayer?

What was Daniel’s attitude toward God? Toward himself and his people?

What did Daniel request?

Joyce Meyer – Decide to Believe

 

Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience. But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing. —James 1:2–4

Too often people stare at me with a blank look when I urge them to decide to believe. It’s as if I’m asking them to do something they can’t do. Faith comes from hearing the Word of God (see Romans 10:17), but it also involves a decision.

We enter into a relationship with God through believing in Jesus Christ, but that’s only the beginning.

Believing doesn’t end there. As I understand the realm of the Spirit, if we follow the Lord, we live with a growing faith. That means we learn to believe for bigger things. We learn to trust God for things we would never have thought of in our earliest Christian days.

When we become Christians, the Bible says we are adopted into the family of God: “…but you have received the Spirit of adoption [the Spirit producing sonship] in…which we cry, Abba (Father)! Father!” (Romans 8:15b).

That’s the beginning. That’s also where too many Christians stop. The Spirit keeps reaching for your hands so He can pull you forward. That’s when you must decide to believe—or you resist and stay exactly where you are in your Christian experience.

Read the verse at the beginning of this topic. It says your faith will be tested, but you must hold onto it and move forward. The testing may come when the devil attempts to make you doubt the promises God has given you.

There is never a stopping place in your spiritual growth—God wants to take you onward. But you have to make the choice to believe. Sometimes that takes courage, but that’s how the Christian life functions. We grow by taking steps of faith.

When God speaks to your heart—to your inner being—you need to learn to say without hesitation, “Let it be so, Lord.” You have to learn to agree with whatever the Spirit of God says or wants.

Instead, many tend to resist. They don’t say no. Satan is too subtle to nudge them to do that. He puts questions in their minds, urging them to ask, “How can that be?” They start asking God to help them understand. If your boss wants you to do a task, you can ask, “Why?”or ask for an ­explanation.

But that is not how the Holy Spirit works. You say, “Lord, if You’ll help me understand, I will believe and obey.” God says, “Just obey. If I want you to understand, I’ll make it clear to you.” God doesn’t have to explain anything to us.

It frequently happens that believers know something down deep in their hearts—in their inner beings—but their minds fight against it. They may consider themselves unworthy. They may ask, “Who am I that You would use me to change lives?” They waste a lot of energy by telling God why they can’t do what He wants them to do. God already knows everything that is wrong with us or ever will be wrong with us, and He is willing to work through us anyway. God requires availability not ability.

God asks you to do something quite simple: Believe. That’s all. If God speaks, you need to learn to say, “Even though I don’t understand, I’ll do it.” One of the best examples I can think of in Scripture is the story of Ananias of Damascus. God told him that Saul (later called Paul) was blind and in a particular house. He was to go and lay hands on him, and God would heal him (see Acts 9:10–19).

Ananias was afraid. Saul was the great persecutor of Christians, but God told him to go because the blinded man was a chosen vessel. Despite his fear and inability to understand why God would choose a great persecutor to be a chosen vessel, Ananias went and prayed for Saul, and the future apostle was healed.

That’s how God wants us to behave. He wants us to choose to believe Him even if what He’s asking us to do doesn’t compute in our thoughts.

Holy Spirit of God, help me always to believe Your promises, even when I don’t understand Your purpose. I want to learn to trust You more, as I move forward in faith to accomplish what You have for me to do. Help me always to be obedient, in Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – We Hear His Voice

 

“My sheep recognize My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish. No one shall snatch them away from Me, for My Father has given them to Me, and He is more powerful than anyone else, so no one can kidnap them from Me. I and the Father are one” (John 10:27-30).

Are you one of God’s “sheep”? Do you know for sure that you are a child of God? Do you have any question about your salvation? How do you know that Christ is in your life and that you have eternal life and that no one can take you away from our Lord? What is the basis of your assurance?

Frequently, one hears a Christian share the dramatic testimony of how Christ changed his life from years of drug addiction, gross immorality or some other distressing problem. On the other hand, there are many, like myself, who have knelt quietly in the privacy of the home, at a mountain retreat, or in a church sanctuary, and there received Christ into their lives with no dramatic emotional experience at that time of decision. Both are valid, authentic ways to come to Christ.

The apostle Paul had a dramatic conversion experience. However, Timothy, his son in the faith, had learned of Christ from his mother and grandmother in his early youth. The important thing is not how you met Christ, but the assurance that you are a child of God, your sins have been forgiven and you have eternal life. It is not presumptuous or arrogant to say that you know these things to be true, because God’s Word says so (1 John 5:11-13): “And what is it that God has said? That He has given us eternal life, and that this life is in His Son. So whoever has God’s Son has life; whoever does not have His Son, does not have life. I have written this to you who believe in the Son of God so that you may know you have eternal life.”

Bible Reading: John 10:22-26

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: As one of God’s sheep, I will ask the Holy Spirit to help me be more sensitive and alert to the voice of my Savior, in order that I may follow Him more closely and always obey Him, and especially that I may be sensitive to what He would have me say to those around me who are in need of His love and forgiveness.

Presidential Prayer Team – Omnipotent God

 

You remember the account of the Savior’s conception…how the all-powerful God fused His immaterial Spirit with the material body of Mary, creating the life that would be born “Immanuel, God with us.” You’ll also recall when God first formed man of the dust of the ground: He breathed His own supernatural breath into the natural nostrils of Adam, and life was given. Other biblical examples speak of God’s power and strength, His creative majesty and wonder, and absolute power over everything.

The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.Luke 1:35

From that same sheer will, God is all-loving and all-forgiving. How much omnipotence does it take to totally forgive and forever forget sin? His love does not limit His power, nor does His power limit His love. In the same way, His justice does not overrule His mercy, nor does His mercy supersede His justice.

That same universally omnipotent Lord has numbered the hairs on your head (Luke 12:7) and kept track of your tears (Psalm 56:8). Aren’t you just amazed? This great God has a personal interest in you.

Praise Him in your prayer time today. Intercede for family, friends and a nation to come to know and love so great a Savior and Lord.

Recommended Reading: Psalm 139:1-14

Greg Laurie – To Be Like Him

 

“For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”—Romans 8:29

God loves us, and He is always looking out for our eternal benefit. We are fond of quoting Romans 8:28, which says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” But after verse 28 comes verse 29: “For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”

If we isolate verse 28, we may get the wrong idea and think that everything always has to turn out nicely. We might think that whatever happens, it will get better, and we can tie it all up with a nice little bow and say, “You see? This bad thing happened, and it turned into a good thing. And now. . . .”

That is true of a lot of things in life. But then there are things that are bad, and they stay bad. And they always will be bad. So even when what we are going through is difficult, the Bible says, “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

The ultimate good is not our temporal happiness. The ultimate good is that we are going to be like Jesus Christ. That is God’s objective. As the apostle John reminds us, “But he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is.”

So there are things in life that will make sense. And there are other things that won’t make sense. But just remember this: God loves you, and He is always looking out for your eternal benefit.

 

Max Lucado – Because of What He Did

 

Few things can weary you more than the fast pace of the human race.  Too many sprints for success. Too many days of doing whatever it takes eventually take their toll.  You’re left gasping for air, holding your sides on the side of the track. You’re asking yourself, “When I get what I want, will it be worth the price I paid?”

It’s this weariness that makes the words of Jesus so compelling. “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).

Come to Me.  Why Him?  He offers the invitation as a penniless rabbi in an oppressed nation.  He has no political office.  He hasn’t written a best-seller or earned a diploma.  Yet they called Him Lord. They called Him Savior. Not so much because of what He said, but because of what He did. What He did—on the Cross!  He did it for the weary people of this world.

Charles Stanley – Is Salvation Enough?

 

Romans 14:7-12

There are many people who have trusted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and yet continue to live in rebellion against Him. Why is it that some individuals who claim to follow the Son of God refuse to serve Him?

The simple answer is that salvation is only part of the picture. The eternal destiny of anyone who receives the Lord is sealed forever—he will go to heaven. But salvation doesn’t guarantee a godly or fruitful life here on earth.

The will of the Father is that we live under the lordship of His Son. That means we must submit to Jesus as the one in charge of our life. Daily decisions and leadership of those under our care ultimately belong in God’s hands, not our own—Christ provides us with the guidance and direction. Though we’ll sometimes make mistakes, we need to remember that God’s grace is for imperfect people.

The problem is that we often desire to give Him dominion over just certain areas of our life. For example, too many of us want Him out of our finances, out of our schedule, or out of our career. But when we are lying in a hospital bed, which of us will tell Jesus to stay out of our health? So ask yourself, Is Jesus the Lord of my life or not?

Salvation is a one-time experience, but the Christian life doesn’t stop there—the lordship of Jesus Christ is ongoing. There comes a time when every believer must recognize that God’s Son came to do more than save us. He came to be the Master of our life—for our good and His glory.

 

 

Our Daily Bread — Pack Up Your Sorrows

 

Isaiah 53:1-6

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. —Isaiah 53:4

During the turbulent years of the 1960s, popular music in America was a strange mixture of protest and patriotism. Some songs lashed out against war, greed, and injustice in society, while others affirmed duty to country and traditional values. But “Pack Up Your Sorrows,” written by Richard Farina and Pauline Baez Marden, seemed to fit all of the categories with its focus on the quest for personal peace. The refrain said the following:

Well, if somehow you could pack up your sorrows, / And give them all to me / You would lose them, I know how to use them, / Give them all to me.

Perhaps everyone hoped that someone really could bring them peace.

The good news is that there is Someone who can! Isaiah 53 is a prophetic picture of Israel’s promised Messiah. Christians see its fulfillment in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows . . . . He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed” (vv.4-5).

Jesus took our sins and sorrows on Himself so that we could be forgiven and have peace with God. Will you give Him your sorrows today? —David McCasland

Never a burden that He does not carry;

Never a sorrow that He does not share;

Whether the days may be sunny or dreary,

Jesus is always there. —Lillenas

No sorrow is too heavy for our Savior to bear.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Main Thing

 

Lee Iacocca once said, “The main thing in life is to keep the main thing, the main thing.” I don’t know about you, but I often find it hard to stay focused and to not get distracted by secondary (and often good) things.

As a follower of Jesus, my own distracted restlessness is challenged by words like John Piper’s statement, “God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him” or Augustine’s prayer, “You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee.” I am always learning to repose in God, always seeking to go further in the contemplative life by setting my focus on God alone.

Eugene Peterson speaks of a soul’s initial coming before God with the language of adoration and love, which unfortunately often falls into disuse or into limited use. The language we often develop is one less centered in adoration and more focused on the self. Conversely, the focus of the psalmist, while not denying personal needs and fears, is always on God, God’s character, qualities, attributes, and ways. The language is one of love, adoration, and appreciation—even in the midst of uncertainty or trouble, even after years of following God. God is the main thing.

For those in need of clarity amidst constant diversion, the psalmist lives a countercultural example of focus and priority. On any given day, the psalmist offers a challenge to thinking in terms of self-need, answered or unanswered prayer, and ongoing concerns. The psalmist introduces the peculiar notion of contemplating God for who God is.

In contrast to the very clear and pronounced weaknesses in some solutions to life’s needs and challenges, the kingdom Jesus came to proclaim is a glorious possibility and real presence. This kingdom is why we are here; its king can captivate our passions and our wills. During a recent trip, I was reminded of the amazing contrast of Christ’s enduring kingdom versus the short-term shelf life of many of the “utopian” movements in history. The Nazis, the Communists, and any and all pretentious systems inevitably crumble before the unshakeable kingdom of God. As a believer, I can remind myself that I pray today with the church across the ages and around the world: God’s Kingdom come. God’s will be done on earth—here and now—as it is in heaven.

This is one answer the Christian holds in a mind-numbing sea of distraction. As we gather physically or otherwise with believers in our time and across history, whether during the reflective season of Lent or the overwhelming events of Holy Week, we come as people in need, people with problems, wounds, issues, and concerns. And we are joined with other believers as people in process. We are all souls on a journey. The salvation and full redemption of our bodies is yet to come, and yet until then, we press on in these bodies in faith, hope, and love—by God’s grace, mercy, ongoing-forgiveness, and Spirit.

As we begin this day, the invitation to clarity is the same as it was yesterday and will be tomorrow. Fix your minds and hearts on Christ, his glorious being, his dynamic kingdom, and his compassionate love.

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

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning  “My expectation is from him.” / Psalm 62:5

It is the believer’s privilege to use this language. If he is looking for aught from the world, it is a poor “expectation” indeed. But if he looks to God for the supply of his wants, whether in temporal or spiritual blessings, his “expectation” will not be a vain one. Constantly he may draw from the bank of faith, and get his need supplied out of the riches of God’s lovingkindness. This I know, I had rather have God for my banker than all the Rothschilds. My Lord never fails to honour his promises; and when we bring them to his throne, he never sends them back unanswered. Therefore I will wait only at his door, for he ever opens it with the hand of munificent grace. At this hour I will try him anew. But we have “expectations” beyond this life. We shall die soon; and then our “expectation is from him.” Do we not expect that when we lie upon the bed of sickness he will send angels to carry us to his bosom? We believe that when the pulse is faint, and the heart heaves heavily, some angelic messenger shall stand and look with loving eyes upon us, and whisper, “Sister spirit, come away!” As we approach the heavenly gate, we expect to hear the welcome invitation, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” We are expecting harps of gold and crowns of glory; we are hoping soon to be amongst the multitude of shining ones before the throne; we are looking forward and longing for the time when we shall be like our glorious Lord–for “We shall see him as he is.” Then if these be thine “expectations,” O my soul, live for God; live with the desire and resolve to glorify him from whom cometh all thy supplies, and of whose grace in thy election, redemption, and calling, it is that thou hast any “expectation” of coming glory.

 

Evening  “The barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah.” / 1 Kings 17:16

See the faithfulness of divine love. You observe that this woman had daily necessities. She had herself and her son to feed in a time of famine; and now, in addition, the prophet Elijah was to be fed too. But though the need was threefold, yet the supply of meal wasted not, for she had a constant supply. Each day she made calls upon the barrel, but yet each day it remained the same. You, dear reader, have daily necessities, and because they come so frequently, you are apt to fear that the barrel of meal will one day be empty, and the cruse of oil will fail you. Rest assured that, according to the Word of God, this shall not be the case. Each day, though it bring its trouble, shall bring its help; and though you should live to outnumber the years of Methuselah, and though your needs should be as many as the sands of the seashore, yet shall God’s grace and mercy last through all your necessities, and you shall never know a real lack. For three long years, in this widow’s days, the heavens never saw a cloud, and the stars never wept a holy tear of dew upon the wicked earth: famine, and desolation, and death, made the land a howling wilderness, but this woman never was hungry, but always joyful in abundance. So shall it be with you. You shall see the sinner’s hope perish, for he trusts his native strength; you shall see the proud Pharisee’s confidence totter, for he builds his hope upon the sand; you shall see even your own schemes blasted and withered, but you yourself shall find that your place of defence shall be the munition of rocks: “Your bread shall be given you, and your water shall be sure.” Better have God for your guardian, than the Bank of England for your possession. You might spend the wealth of the Indies, but the infinite riches of God you can never exhaust.

 

John MacArthur – Acknowledging the Ultimate Source of Everything

 

“Joyously giving thanks to the Father” (Col. 1:11- 12).

The inseparable link between joy and thanksgiving was a common theme for Paul. In Philippians 4:4-6 he says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! . . . Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” He told the Thessalonians to “rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:16- 18).

As often as Paul expressed thanks and encouraged others to express theirs, he was careful never to attribute to men the thanks due to God alone. For example in Romans 1:8 he says, “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world.” He thanked God, not the Roman believers, because he knew that faith is a gift from God.

That doesn’t mean you can’t thank others for the kindnesses they show, but in doing so you must understand that they are instruments of God’s grace.

Thanking Him shows humility and acknowledges His rightful place as the Sovereign Lord and the giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). Those who reject His lordship and refuse to give Him thanks incur His wrath (Rom. 1:21).

Only those who love Christ can truly give thanks because He is the channel through which thanks is expressed to the Father. As Paul says in Colossians 3:17, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” Hebrews 13:15 adds, “Through [Christ] then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.”

As one who is privileged to know the God of all grace, be generous in your praise and thanksgiving today. See everything as a gift from His hand for your joy and edification.

Suggestions for Prayer: Recite Psalm 136 as a prayer of praise to God.

For Further Study: From Psalm 136 list the things that prompted the psalmist’s thanksgiving. How can that psalm serve as a model for your own praise?

 

Joyce Meyer – Hope In God

 

Why are you cast down, O my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, my Help and my God—Psalm 42:5

Discouragement destroys hope, so naturally the devil always tries to discourage you. Without hope you give up, which is what Satan wants you to do. The Bible repeatedly tells you not to be discouraged or dismayed. God knows you will not come through to victory if you get discouraged—He wants you to be encouraged, not discouraged.

When discouragement or condemnation tries to overtake you, ask the Lord for strength and courage. Tomorrow is a new day. God loves you and His mercy is new every morning. Say, “I refuse to be discouraged. Father, the Bible says You love me. You sent Jesus to die for me. I’ll be fine—tomorrow will be a great day.” Hope in Him!

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – I Am With You Always

 

“And then teach new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you; and be sure of this — that I am with you always, even to the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).

When David Livingstone sailed for Africa the first time, a group of his friends accompanied him to the pier to wish him bon voyage.

Concerned for the safety of the missionary, some of his well-wishers reminded him of the dangers which would confront him in the dark land to which he was journeying. One of the men tried to convince him he should remain in England.

Opening his Bible, Livingstone read the six decisive words that had sealed the matter for him long before: “Lo, I am with you always.”

Then turning to the man who was especially concerned about his safety, Livingstone smiled before he gave a calm reply.

“That, my friend, is the word of a gentleman,” he said. “So let us be going.”

For many years, I have visited scores of countries on each continent, each year traveling tens of thousands of miles, as the director of the worldwide ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. What a joy and comfort it is to know that I am never outside of His care! Whether at home or abroad, He is always with me, even to the end of the world. I can never travel so far away that He is not with me.

And so it is with you, if you have placed your trust and faith in Jesus Christ. You have His indwelling Holy Spirit as your constant companion – the one who makes possible the supernatural life that is the right and privilege of every believer. How important that we never lose sight of this truth: He is with us always.

Bible Reading: Matthew 28:16-20

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I am reminded afresh that Jesus, to whom God has given all authority in heaven and earth, is with me; that He will never leave me nor forsake me; that His supernatural power is available to me moment by moment, enabling me to do all that God has called me to do — if only I will trust and obey Him.

Presidential Prayer Team – Sword or Scalpel

 

Words of great leaders have brought healing and hope to nations, such as Winston Churchill’s, “Sure I am of this, that you have only to endure to conquer.” Words also bring discouragement, death and destruction. Words can be sharp like swords, wounding the hearts of the people you are speaking to or about, but they can also be sharp like a surgeon’s knife, cutting out the bad tissue to enable healing.

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18

Hebrews 4:12 says “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.” People often rebel at the truth because it can mean letting go of something valued, or involve making changes difficult to implement. Many doctrines abound; usually the most pleasant are the most popular.

Yield to God’s Word, though it may be uncomfortable. Allow Him to work in you, from the inside out until the adjustments you need to make become less difficult. Speak words in agreement with His. And pray for your national leaders, that their words will unite, build up and strengthen this country, not divide it or tear it down.

Recommended Reading: Hebrews 4:11-16