Tag Archives: daily devotion

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Burying Our Illusions

 

“[W]e are perpetually disillusioned. The perfect life is spread before us every day, but it changes and withers at a touch.”(1)

The author of this comment did not have the dashed hopes of a person weary of contemporary political promises; nor the disappointment of a child after his once-adored Wii lost its thrill; nor the dispirited outlook of a modern youth disenchanted with rampant consumerism and the daunting purposelessness of life. No, long before video games existed, long before Generation Y was disillusioned with Generation X or X with the Baby Boomers before them, disillusionment reigned nonetheless. It was a social commentator in the late 1920′s who made this comment about his own disillusioned culture, words which in fact came more than a decade after a group of literary notables identified themselves as the “Lost Generation,” so-named because of their own general feeling of disillusionment.  In other words, disillusionment is epidemic.

As humans who tell and hear and live by stories, the possibility of taking in a story that is bigger than reality is quite likely. (Advertisers, in fact, count on it.) Subsequently, disillusionment is a quality that follows humanity and its stories around. Yet despite its common occurrence, disillusionment is a crushing blow, and the collateral damage of shattered expectations quite painful. With good reason, we speak of it in terms of the discomfort and disruption that it fosters; we frame the crushing of certain hope and images in terms of loss and difficulty. The disillusioned do not speak of their losses lightly, no more than victims of burglary move quickly past the feeling of loss and violation.

And yet, practically speaking, disillusionment is the loss of illusion. In terms of larceny, then, it is the equivalent of having one’s high cholesterol or a perpetually bad habit stolen. Disillusionment, while painful, is evidence which shows the myths that enchant us need not blind us forever, a sign that what is falsely believed can be shattered by what is genuine. In such terms, disillusion is far less an unwanted intrusion than it is a severe mercy, far more like a surgeon’s excising of a tumor than a cruel removal of hope.

The crucifixion of the Son of God is something like this. The death of God? There are no categories with which to understand it. For those who first held hope in the person of Jesus, it was the same. The death of the one thought to be the Messiah? It was an event that leveled them with disillusioned agony. New Testament scholar N.T. Wright describes the force of this dissonance:
”There were, to be sure, ways of coping with the death of a teacher, or even a leader. The picture of Socrates was available, in the wider world, as a model of unjust death nobly borne. The category of ‘martyr’ was available, within Judaism, for someone who stood up to pagans… The category of failed but still revered Messiah, however, did not exist. A Messiah who died at the hands of the pagans, instead of winning [God’s] battle against them, was a deceiver.”(2)

For those who loved Jesus most, it took time to see that it was not hope but their hopeful illusions that died with him on the cross. Everything they thought God was, every hope for a messiah wielding power and control, every image of God winning the battle and taking a stand against their oppressors, everything they thought they knew about religion, painfully, but mercifully died on a shameful, Roman cross. We, too, bury our illusions with the body of God. But it is no simple journey. The powerful words of poet W. H. Auden describe what is often the case in a world filled with sickly sweet illusion:

We would rather be ruined than changed;

We would rather die in our dread

Than climb the cross of the moment

And let our illusions die.(3)

Yet if we will allow it, this death can be far more than loss. While advertisers count on our moving from one dead illusion to another, the death of Christ tells a completely different kind of story, a demythologizing story, which cuts through the storied layers of illusion we continually create about ourselves, the world, and others. Within such a story, disillusionment is the precursor to nothing short of resurrection. And faith is the audacity to confront our illusions with a cross. In the words of author Parker Palmer, “[F]aith is the courage to face into our illusions and allow ourselves to be disillusioned about them, the courage to walk through our illusions and dispel them.  Faith…[is] a disillusioned view of reality…that lets the beauty behind the illusions shine through.”(4) Burying our illusions with the body of God, we mourn our losses and lament over the graves of dead dreams and expectations, hopes and visions. We stand in painful, faithful disillusionment. But so we stand aware that we may be equally startled by what emerges from the tomb.

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

(1) John Boynton Priestley, “The Disillusioned,” in The Balconinny and Other Essays (London: Methuen, 1929), 30.

(2) N.T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996), 658.

(3) W.H. Auden, Collected Poems (New York: Random House, 2007), 530.

(4) Parker Palmer, “Faith or Frenzy: Living Contemplation in a World of Action,” The Clampit Lectures, 1972.

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning   “My grace is sufficient for thee.” / 2 Corinthians 12:9

If none of God’s saints were poor and tried, we should not know half so well the consolations of divine grace. When we find the wanderer who has not where to lay his head, who yet can say, “Still will I trust in the Lord;” when we see the pauper starving on bread and water, who still glories in Jesus; when we see the bereaved widow overwhelmed in affliction, and yet having faith in Christ, oh! what honour it reflects on the gospel. God’s grace is illustrated and magnified in the poverty and trials of believers. Saints bear up under every discouragement, believing that all things work together for their good, and that out of apparent evils a real blessing shall ultimately spring–that their God will either work a deliverance for them speedily, or most assuredly support them in the trouble, as long as he is pleased to keep them in it. This patience of the saints proves the power of divine grace. There is a lighthouse out at sea: it is a calm night–I cannot tell whether the edifice is firm; the tempest must rage about it, and then I shall know whether it will stand. So with the Spirit’s work: if it were not on many occasions surrounded with tempestuous waters, we should not know that it was true and strong; if the winds did not blow upon it, we should not know how firm and secure it was. The master-works of God are those men who stand in the midst of difficulties, stedfast, unmoveable,–

“Calm mid the bewildering cry,

Confident of victory.”

He who would glorify his God must set his account upon meeting with many trials. No man can be illustrious before the Lord unless his conflicts be many. If then, yours be a much-tried path, rejoice in it, because you will the better show forth the all-sufficient grace of God. As for his failing you, never dream of it–hate the thought. The God who has been sufficient until now, should be trusted to the end.

 

 

Evening  “They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house.” / Psalm 36:8

Sheba’s queen was amazed at the sumptuousness of Solomon’s table. She lost all heart when she saw the provision of a single day; and she marvelled equally at the company of servants who were feasted at the royal board. But what is this to the hospitalities of the God of grace? Ten thousand thousand of his people are daily fed; hungry and thirsty, they bring large appetites with them to the banquet, but not one of them returns unsatisfied; there is enough for each, enough for all, enough for evermore. Though the host that feed at Jehovah’s table is countless as the stars of heaven, yet each one has his portion of meat. Think how much grace one saint requires, so much that nothing but the Infinite could supply him for one day; and yet the Lord spreads his table, not for one, but many saints, not for one day, but for many years; not for many years only, but for generation after generation. Observe the full feasting spoken of in the text, the guests at mercy’s banquet are satisfied, nay, more “abundantly satisfied;” and that not with ordinary fare, but with fatness, the peculiar fatness of God’s own house; and such feasting is guaranteed by a faithful promise to all those children of men who put their trust under the shadow of Jehovah’s wings. I once thought if I might but get the broken meat at God’s back door of grace I should be satisfied; like the woman who said, “The dogs eat of the crumbs that fall from the master’s table;” but no child of God is ever served with scraps and leavings; like Mephibosheth, they all eat from the king’s own table. In matters of grace, we all have Benjamin’s mess–we all have ten times more than we could have expected, and though our necessities are great, yet are we often amazed at the marvellous plenty of grace which God gives us experimentally to enjoy.

John MacArthur – Praying According to God’s Word

 

“I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications” (Dan. 9:2-3).

Have you ever wondered if it’s biblical to pray for things that God has already promised in His Word to do? Is it proper to pray, say, for the salvation of sinners, knowing that God will redeem all the elect anyway, or for Christ’s return, knowing that it is a sure thing? Daniel gives us a clear answer.

God prophesied through Jeremiah that the Babylonian Captivity would last seventy years (Jer. 25:11-12). When Daniel read that prophecy, he realized that the time was near for his people to return to their homeland. That inspired him to pray fervently.

In Daniel 9:19 he cries out, “O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Thine own sake, O my God, do not delay.” He was in tune with God’s Word and understood that somehow his prayers were part of God’s plan.

The exact relationship between God’s sovereignty and our prayers is a mystery, but it is clear that somehow God’s Word and our prayers are co-laborers in achieving God’s will.

Like Daniel, you and I live in a time when many of God’s promises seem near to fulfillment. Never before have world events pointed so dramatically to the nearness of the return of our Lord. Consequently, this is not the time for complacency or over-enthusiastic speculation. It is the time for careful Bible study and fervent prayer.

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for His faithfulness and the sure promises of His Word.

Ask Him for spiritual wisdom and insight to discern His will and then live accordingly.

For Further Study: Jeremiah 24:1 – 25:13 gives some background to Judah’s captivity in Babylon. After reading those verses, answer these questions:

To what kind of fruit did God liken Judah?

What did God say would happen to King Zedekiah?

What warning did the prophets give to Judah?

What was Judah’s response?

How would God deal with Babylon?

Believe and Receive by Joyce Meyer

 

Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness I have drawn you.

—Jeremiah 31:3 NKJV

There is only one thing you can do with a free gift, and that is receive it and be grateful. I urge you to take a step of faith right now and say out loud, “God loves me unconditionally, and I receive His love!” It took me a long time to fully accept His love. When you feel unlovable, it is hard to get it through your head and down into your heart that God loves you perfectly—even though you are not perfect and never will be as long as you are on the earth. You may have to say it a hundred times a day, like I did for months, before it finally sinks in, but when it does it will be the happiest day of your life. To know that you are loved by someone you can trust is the best and most comforting feeling in the world. God will not only love you that way, but He will also provide other people who will truly love you. When He does provide, be sure to remain thankful for those people. Having people who genuinely love you is one of the most precious gifts in the world.

God loves you! God loves you! God loves you! Believe it and receive it!

Lord, I declare Your everlasting love for me. You have drawn me with loving-kindness, and I believe and receive it. Amen.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Love Means Obedience

 

“The one who obeys Me is the one who loves Me; and because he loves Me, My Father will love him; and I will too, and I will reveal myself to him” (John 14:21).

A Campus Crusade staff member handed me a copy of Sports Illustrated with a cover picture of the Heisman Trophy winner.

Proudly, he said, “I would like to introduce you to your great-grandson.”

When I asked him what he meant, he explained, “You led Jim to Christ, Jim led me to Christ, and I led Steve [the Heisman Trophy winner] to Christ.”

What a joy to see God’s wonder-working power in this chain reaction of spiritual multiplication.

There is something exciting and wonderfully rewarding about seeing one whom you have discipled grow and mature, and lead others to Christ and disciple them, generation after generation. Such an experience often brings even more fulfillment than you derive from your own personal ministry of introducing others to the Lord Jesus.

For example, I have always taken special delight and pleasure whenever Vonette, our sons Zachary and Bradley, or many others whom I have discipled through the years, do something special for the Lord – much more than as though I were doing it personally.

By investing your life in helping others to receive Christ and grow in the Lord, you will in turn be helping still others to experience the abundant life which only true disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ experience. Today’s verse equates love for Christ with obedience to His commands. Two of the most important commands our Lord has given to His followers, which will result in His revealing Himself to us, are “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 28:19, NAS). He is saying to us, “Teach the things that I have taught you.”

Bible Reading: John 14:22-26

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Today I will seek to obey my Lord by telling others about Him and by seeking to disciple others who have already committed their lives to Christ. I have the assurance that my Lord will manifest Himself to me in special ways as I walk in faith and obedience.

Presidential Prayer Team – Discipline Delight

At times, you may wonder why your life seems powerless. In Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline, he lists 12 disciplines Christians should practice, including prayer, fasting and Bible study. These disciplines are not to be done legalistically…but in joy, growing in wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit.

And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee.Luke 4:14

Jesus did not begin His ministry until He was 30 years of age. In His early years, Jesus sat at His teacher’s feet (Luke 2:46), submitted to His parents (Luke 2:51), and grew in wisdom, stature and favor (Luke 2:52). He spent 40 days praying and fasting in the wilderness, and overcame temptation by understanding the Word of God. Not until then does Scripture say He began to minister in the power of the Spirit.

Jesus says to those who follow Him, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” (John 15:4) Commit yourself to the Christian disciplines and be sensitive to the Holy Spirit when He prompts you to reach out. Then pray for people and leaders of this nation to turn to God in fasting, prayer and Bible study.

Recommended Reading: John 15:1-11

Greg Laurie – Eternally Good

 

Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia—Acts 16:6

God is wiser than I am, and what is immediately good actually may not be eternally good. And what is eternally good isn’t always immediately good, but painful.

Sometimes when God says no, we will say that God didn’t answer our prayer. But what we really mean is that we didn’t like the answer.

We say, “God, will You do this?” and God says no. So we conclude that God doesn’t love us. But God said no because He does love us. He has a different purpose in mind.

We find an example of this in Acts 16, where Paul was concerned for the churches in Asia Minor and wanted to revisit them to check on their progress. There was one small problem, however. God had a different plan. Although Paul made every attempt to go to Asia, God basically said no: “After [Paul and Silas] had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them” (verse 7).

The Spirit did not permit them. I am intrigued by that statement, because I wonder how the Holy Spirit conveyed that truth to them. Was it simply a lack of peace? Have you ever been heading into a situation where everything looked good outwardly, but in your heart you had a sense of doubt as to whether it was good? Whatever it was, you didn’t know if you really should be doing it.

And sometimes the way God says no is as simple as a door being closed. God has His timing. In the case of Paul and Silas, His timing wasn’t right for them to go where they wanted to go. God wanted them to go to a different place. And the same can be true of you as well.

Max Lucado – What Steals the Zeal?

 

What steals our childhood zeal?  For a child the possibilities are limitless. Then weariness finds us.  Sesame Street gets traffic-jammed.  Star Trek’s endless horizon gets hidden behind smog and skyscrapers. What is the source of such weariness?  The names of these burdens?

Jesus gazes into our weariness and makes this paradoxical promise:  “Take My yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29).

Jesus was the only man to walk God’s earth who claimed to have an answer for man’s burdens.  “Come to Me”  he invited them. The people came. They came out of the cul-de-sacs and office complexes of their day. They brought him the burdens of their existence, and he gave them not religion, not doctrine, not systems…He gave them rest.  My prayer is that you, too, will find rest!

 

Facing Your Fears By Charles F. Stanley

 

Fear is the uneasy feeling that we are inadequate. It is an alarm that goes off when we feel threatened. It keeps people from the attainment of their goals.

I’m not talking about normal, natural fears—such as the fear of falling or the fear of walking onto a busy highway. I’m talking about a gripping, paralyzing fear that is truly a spirit of fear. Paul wrote to Timothy, “God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” (2 Tim. 1:7).

Let me give you an example of this type of fear. Imagine a person who believes strongly that the Lord desires him to take a new job. He starts with confidence and enthusiasm. Soon he realizes that has much to learn about how to succeed in this new role. The whole project begins to seem insurmountable and overwhelming. He begins to take to heart the criticism of others. He feels as if he is a failure and will never succeed at this new position. He says, “I don’t have what it takes. I’m scared of taking any more risks.” The longer that trend in thinking goes unchecked, the more he moves in to sheer panic until he just wants to flee completely. Fear wins out and he does not accomplish God’s goal for his life.

When fear strikes you, face fear head-on. Ask yourself, What am I really afraid of? Break down the nature of your fear. Are you afraid of failure that will lead to criticism? Are you afraid of failure that will lead to rejection from someone you love or admire? Are you afraid that your weaknesses and inadequacies will be exposed? Are you afraid that others will withdraw from you or perhaps even punish you?

Admit the fears to yourself and to God. And at times, you may be wise to admit the fears to others. Then turn immediately to the matter of your faith. Faith is the solution for fear. Do things that build up your faith.

The first and best move you can make to build up your faith is to get your eyes off your problem and off yourself and onto Jesus. He is the Source of all your supply. He is utterly reliable and possesses all knowledge and all authority. Speak aloud the words of Hebrews 13:6 until they sink deep within your spirit: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

People may criticize, reject, ridicule and persecute, but they can’t take away your salvation, your relationship with Jesus Christ, your eternal home in heaven, or the joy, contentment, and inner strength the Lord imparts to you.

Second, ask the Lord to give you the help you need.It is one thing to say, “The Lord is my helper,” and another to say, “Lord, help me today,” or “Lord, help me right now in this situation.” You may need an answer to a problem, friendship, a good mentor or teacher, wise counsel, or extra energy and strength. Be specific in your requests.

Third, encourage yourself by memorizing the Word of God and quoting it as often as you need a fear-buster of inner strength.Take Isaiah 41:10-13 to heart. In this passage, the Lord promises to give us His presence; give us His power, which is vastly superior to his strength; give us His provision, which is more than sufficient; give us His protection against all of our enemies. What more could you need? Remind the Lord often of His fourfold promise to you.

And, finally, ask others to pray for you. Ask them to uphold you daily in prayer and in turn, pray for them and their success. We read in James 5:16, “Pray for one another so that you may be healed.”

What might the man in the example have done as he took his new job? He might have said, “I don’t know all about this job, but the Lord knows. He will help me get the information I need so I can be successful.” Instead of being overwhelmed, he could have chosen to see the job as a mountain to be climbed, step by step. When he failed, he might have confessed error to the Lord, and asked God to help him learn from his mistakes.

Every person alive has suffered loss. But if we continue to move forward in pursuit of God-given goals, He will give us victories in areas where we have struggled in the past. He will turn all things to good (Rom. 8:28).

Don’t be surprised when fear emerges. Nothing good in life comes without a struggle against fear. The key is to run headlong at fear with your faith in Christ Jesus and your confidence firmly set in Him. You can overcome fear!

Our Daily Bread — Refreshing Candor

 

John 4:7-26

He who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, . . . this one will be blessed in what he does. —James 1:25

Of the many things I love about my mom, chief among them may be her candor. Many times I have called to ask her opinion on a matter and she has consistently responded, “Don’t ask my opinion unless you want to hear it. I’m not going to try to figure out what you want to hear. I’ll tell you what I really think.”

In a world where words are carefully parsed, her straightforwardness is refreshing. It is also one of the characteristics of a true friend. Real friends speak the truth to us in love—even if it isn’t what we want to hear. As the proverb says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Prov. 27:6).

This is one of the reasons Jesus is the greatest of friends. When He encountered the woman at the well (John 4:7-26), He refused to be pulled into a tug-of-war over secondary issues but instead drove to the deepest issues and needs of her heart. He challenged her about the character of the Father and lovingly spoke to her of her broken dreams and deep disappointments.

As we walk with our Lord, may we allow Him to speak candidly to the true condition of our hearts through the Scriptures—that we might turn to Him and find His grace to help us in our times of need. —Bill Crowder

Father, thank You for sending Your Son to be my Savior

and the greatest of friends. Help me to learn from Him

how loving honesty can make a difference in helping

the hurting people around me.

 

Jesus always tells us truth.

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning  “I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” / Isaiah 48:10

Comfort thyself, tried believer, with this thought: God saith, “I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” Does not the word come like a soft shower, assuaging the fury of the flame? Yea, is it not an asbestos armour, against which the heat hath no power? Let affliction come–God has chosen me. Poverty, thou mayst stride in at my door, but God is in the house already, and he has chosen me. Sickness, thou mayst intrude, but I have a balsam ready–God has chosen me. Whatever befalls me in this vale of tears, I know that he has “chosen” me. If, believer, thou requirest still greater comfort, remember that you have the Son of Man with you in the furnace. In that silent chamber of yours, there sitteth by your side One whom thou hast not seen, but whom thou lovest; and ofttimes when thou knowest it not, he makes all thy bed in thy affliction, and smooths thy pillow for thee. Thou art in poverty; but in that lovely house of thine the Lord of life and glory is a frequent visitor. He loves to come into these desolate places, that he may visit thee. Thy friend sticks closely to thee. Thou canst not see him, but thou mayst feel the pressure of his hands. Dost thou not hear his voice? Even in the valley of the shadow of death he says, “Fear not, I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God.” Remember that noble speech of Caesar: “Fear not, thou carriest Caesar and all his fortune.” Fear not, Christian; Jesus is with thee. In all thy fiery trials, his presence is both thy comfort and safety. He will never leave one whom he has chosen for his own. “Fear not, for I am with thee,” is his sure word of promise to his chosen ones in the “furnace of affliction.”

Wilt thou not, then, take fast hold of Christ, and say –

“Through floods and flames, if Jesus lead,  I’ll follow where he goes.”

 

Evening  “He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove.” / Matthew 3:16

As the Spirit of God descended upon the Lord Jesus, the head, so he also, in measure, descends upon the members of the mystical body. His descent is to us after the same fashion as that in which it fell upon our Lord. There is often a singular rapidity about it; or ever we are aware, we are impelled onward and heavenward beyond all expectation. Yet is there none of the hurry of earthly haste, for the wings of the dove are as soft as they are swift. Quietness seems essential to many spiritual operations; the Lord is in the still small voice, and like the dew, his grace is distilled in silence. The dove has ever been the chosen type of purity, and the Holy Spirit is holiness itself. Where he cometh, everything that is pure and lovely, and of good report, is made to abound, and sin and uncleanness depart. Peace reigns also where the Holy Dove comes with power; he bears the olive branch which shows that the waters of divine wrath are assuaged. Gentleness is a sure result of the Sacred Dove’s transforming power: hearts touched by his benign influence are meek and lowly henceforth and forever. Harmlessness follows, as a matter of course; eagles and ravens may hunt their prey–the turtledove can endure wrong, but cannot inflict it. We must be harmless as doves. The dove is an apt picture of love, the voice of the turtle is full of affection; and so, the soul visited by the blessed Spirit, abounds in love to God, in love to the brethren, and in love to sinners; and above all, in love to Jesus. The brooding of the Spirit of God upon the face of the deep, first produced order and life, and in our hearts, he causes and fosters new life and light. Blessed Spirit, as thou didst rest upon our dear Redeemer, even so rest upon us from this time forward and forever.

John MacArthur – Unlimited Prayer

 

“Men ought always to pray” (Luke 18:1, KJV).

As a child I was taught to pray with my head bowed, eyes closed, and hands folded. Even as a young man I thought that was the only acceptable mode of prayer.

In my seminary days I sang in a quartet that traveled to various churches throughout the United States. The first time I traveled with them we had a prayer meeting in the car, and the driver prayed with his eyes open. All of us were glad he did, but I wondered if God really heard his prayer.

I have since learned that praying with my eyes closed is a helpful way to avoid distractions, but it isn’t mandated in Scripture–nor are most of the other limitations people often place on prayer. For example, some people want to limit prayer to a certain posture, but Scripture tells of people praying while standing, sitting, kneeling, looking upward, bowing down, and lifting up their hands.

Some try to limit prayer to certain times of the day, such as morning or evening. But in the Bible people prayed at all times: morning, evening, three times a day, before meals, after meals, at bedtime, at midnight, day and night, in their youth, in their old age, when troubled, and when joyous.

Similarly, Scripture places no limits on the place or circumstances of prayer. It tells of people praying in a cave, in a closet, in a garden, on a mountainside, by a river, by the sea, in the street, in the Temple, in bed, at home, in the stomach of a fish, in battle, on a housetop, in a prison, in the wilderness, and on a cross.

The point is clear: there is no specific correct mode or kind of prayer, and prayer isn’t limited by your location or circumstances. You are to pray always. That includes any kind of prayer, on any subject, and at any time of the day or night.

Suggestions for Prayer: Make a list of your current plans, thoughts, and concerns. Have you made each of them a matter of prayer? Commit yourself to sharing every aspect of your life with God.

For Further Study: Read Psalm 136. Note how the Lord is intimately involved in the lives of His people.

Joyce Meyer – Are the “-ites” After You?

 

The Moabites, the Ammonites, and with them the Meunites came against Jehoshaphat to battle—2 Chronicles 20:1

In today’s verse, the Moabites, the Ammonites, and the Meunites were after King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah. In other places in the Old Testament, the Jebusites, the Hittites, and the Canaanites were troublemakers for God’s people.

But with us, it is the “fear-ites,” the “disease-ites,” the “stress-ites,” the “financial problem–ites,” the “insecurity-ites,” the “grouchy -neighbor–ites,” and so on.

I wonder, which “-ites” are chasing you right now? Whatever they are, you can learn from King Jehoshaphat’s response to the “-ites” who were after him. The first thing he did was fear, but then he quickly did something else: he set himself to seek the Lord. Determined to hear from Him, Jehoshaphat even proclaimed a fast throughout his kingdom for that very purpose. He knew he needed to hear from God. He needed a battle plan, and only God could give him one that would succeed.

Like Jehoshaphat, we should develop the habit of running to God instead of to people when we have trouble. We should seek Him rather than consulting our own wisdom or asking for other people’s opinions. We need to ask ourselves whether we “run to the phone or run to the throne” when faced with trouble. God may use a person to speak a word of advice to us, but we always need to seek Him first.

Hearing God’s voice is a great way to fight fear. When we hear from Him, faith fills our hearts and drives fear away. Jehoshaphat knew he needed to hear from God centuries ago and we have the same need now. Be sure to seek God and listen to His voice today.

God’s word for you today: Ask God to protect you from the “-ites” in your life.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The Only Way

 

“Jesus told him, ‘I am the Way – yes, and the Truth and the life. No one can get to the Father except by means of Me'” (John 14:6).

Dr. Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision, was conducting a great city-wide campaign in Tokyo and asked me to be in charge of the student phase of the crusade. So day after day, for more than a month, I spoke to thousands of students on many campuses, presenting the claims of Christ and challenging the students to receive Him as their Savior and Lord.

Many thousands responded, but occasionally a student would object and say that Jesus had no relevance for the Japanese – that Christianity is for the Westerner, not for the Asian. They were surprised when I reminded them that Jesus was born and reared in and carried out His ministry in the Middle East and that He was in many ways closer to them culturally and geographically that He was to me.

I reminded them, and I want to remind you, that though the Lord Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem and grew up in Nazareth, in what is now Israel, He came to this world to die for all people in all lands.

The Scripture reminds us, “Whosoever will may come.” In addition to coming to Him for salvation, Christians have the privilege of coming to God the Father a thousand times, and more, each day in prayer in the name of Jesus. This is because He is our mediator, unlike anyone else who has ever lived – Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius. No other religious leader died for us and was raised from the dead.

Jesus alone can bridge the great chasm between the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man, because He personally has paid the penalty for our sins. God proved His love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still in our sins.

Bible Reading: John 14:1-5

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will ask the Holy Spirit to examine my heart to see if there be any wicked way in me, so that I can confess and turn from my sin. I will visualize our mediator – the Lord Jesus Christ – seated at the right hand of God making intercession for me. I will also ask the Lord to lead me today to someone who does not yet know our Savior, that I may share with him or her the most joyful news ever announced.

Presidential Prayer Team – Instant Delivery

 

If you send a letter to the President of the United States, will he read it? Well, first consider that the White House receives 65,000 letters weekly – not including other forms of communication like emails and phone calls. If the president did nothing but read around the clock, he will have to read 6.4 letters a minute just to keep up. Instead, the White House has a correspondence division with 13 departments to channel incoming mail. And an “autopen,” a mechanical device that mimics the president’s signature, is used to send most replies.

And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned. Mark 5:30

Now…consider Jesus. The very moment you send Him a message through prayer, He knows. And without a hint of distraction, He turns to hear your plea. Your message isn’t sent to some sorting department where it will be delayed, forgotten or evaluated by some clerk for its importance. Imagine if every Christian in America utilized this power of direct access to the Omnipotent One.

Don’t make the mistake today – or any day – of thinking God will not hear your prayers for yourself, your loved ones, or your nation. He will hear…and immediately turn to you!

Recommended Reading: I Kings 18:20-29, 36-39

Charles Stanley – Genuine Justification

 

Romans 3:23-26

Jesus’ death was central to God’s plan of salvation. Scripture tells us the Son of Man had to be lifted up and all who trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior would be saved.(John 3:14-16) The cross was essential for God to accomplish His desire for us—that we would be redeemed and have a personal relationship with Him for all eternity.

Every one of us has violated God’s law, and justice requires that a penalty be paid. When we labor for the Lord and serve Him faithfully, we want Him to be just in rewarding us. But what about when we transgress against Him? We have a sin debt that must be paid, and because He is perfect and just, God cannot simply overlook offenses—atonement must be made.

In order for us to have a close personal relationship with God, there must be a way for imperfect, sin-stained man to approach the perfect, holy Creator. Therefore, the Father provided a substitute—His Son Jesus Christ—who took it upon Himself to pay our penalty. If we accept that payment on our behalf, God declares us no longer guilty, reconciling us to Himself so we can enjoy a right relationship with Him eternally (Rom. 8:6-10). There is no justification apart from the blood of Jesus Christ.

To be justified means to be declared “no longer guilty.” With His death on the cross, Jesus paid the price for our reconciliation. Through His shed blood, we are now sanctified. If we accept this priceless gift, it enables us to enjoy communion with Almighty God in this life and the next.

Our Daily Bread — A Good Man

 

Romans 3:10-18

By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. —Ephesians 2:8

“Jerry was a good man,” the pastor said at Jerald Stevens’ memorial service. “He loved his family. He was faithful to his wife. He served his country in the armed services. He was an excellent dad and grandfather. He was a great friend.”

But then the pastor went on to tell the friends and family gathered that Jerry’s good life and good deeds were not enough to assure him a place in heaven. And that Jerry himself would have been the first to tell them that!

Jerry believed these words from the Bible: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23) and “the wages of sin is death” (6:23). Jerry’s final and eternal destination in life’s journey was not determined by whether he lived a really good life but entirely by Jesus dying in his place to pay sin’s penalty. He believed that each of us must personally accept the free gift of God, which is “eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (6:23).

Jerry was a good man, but he could never be “good enough.” And neither can we. It is only by grace that we can be saved through faith. And that has absolutely nothing to do with our human efforts. “It is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8).

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Cor. 9:15). —Cindy Hess Kasper

Christ’s work for my salvation is complete!

No work of mine can add to what He’s done;

I bow to worship at the Master’s feet,

And honor God the Father’s only Son. —Hess

 

We are not saved by good works, but by God’s work.

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning “But all the Israelites went down to the Philistines, to sharpen every man his

share, and his coulter, and his axe, and his mattock.” / 1 Samuel 13:20

We are engaged in a great war with the Philistines of evil. Every weapon within our reach must be used. Preaching, teaching, praying, giving, all must be brought into action, and talents which have been thought too mean for service, must now be employed. Coulter, and axe, and mattock, may all be useful in slaying Philistines; rough tools may deal hard blows, and killing need not be elegantly done, so long as it is done effectually. Each moment of time, in season or out of season; each fragment of ability, educated or untutored; each opportunity, favourable or unfavourable, must be used, for our foes are many and our force but slender.  Most of our tools want sharpening; we need quickness of perception, tact, energy, promptness, in a word, complete adaptation for the Lord’s work. Practical common sense is a very scarce thing among the conductors of Christian enterprises. We might learn from our enemies if we would, and so make the Philistines sharpen our weapons. This morning let us note enough to sharpen our zeal during this day by the aid of the Holy Spirit. See the energy of the Papists, how they compass sea and land to make one proselyte, are they to monopolize all the earnestness? Mark the heathen devotees, what tortures they endure in the service of their idols! are they alone to exhibit patience and self-sacrifice? Observe the prince of darkness, how persevering in his endeavours, how unabashed in his attempts, how daring in his plans, how thoughtful in his plots, how energetic in all! The devils are united as one man in their infamous rebellion, while we believers in Jesus are divided in our service of God, and scarcely ever work with unanimity. O that from Satan’s infernal industry we may learn to go about like good Samaritans, seeking whom we may bless!

 

 

Evening “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that

I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” /

Ephesians 3:8

The apostle Paul felt it a great privilege to be allowed to preach the gospel. He did not look upon his calling as a drudgery, but he entered upon it with intense delight. Yet while Paul was thus thankful for his office, his success in it greatly humbled him. The fuller a vessel becomes, the deeper it sinks in the water. Idlers may indulge a fond conceit of their abilities, because they are untried; but the earnest worker soon learns his own weakness. If you seek humility, try hard work; if you would know your nothingness, attempt some great thing for Jesus. If you would feel how utterly powerless you are apart from the living God, attempt especially the great work of proclaiming the unsearchable riches of Christ, and you will know, as you never knew before, what a weak unworthy thing you are. Although the apostle thus knew and confessed his weakness, he was never perplexed as to the subject of his ministry. From his first sermon to his last, Paul preached Christ, and nothing but Christ. He lifted up the cross, and extolled the Son of God who bled thereon. Follow his example in all your personal efforts to spread the glad tidings of salvation, and let “Christ and him crucified” be your ever recurring theme. The Christian should be like those lovely spring flowers which, when the sun is shining, open their golden cups, as if saying, “Fill us with thy beams!” but when the sun is hidden behind a cloud, they close their cups and droop their heads. So should the Christian feel the sweet influence of Jesus; Jesus must be his sun, and he must be the flower which yields itself to the Sun of Righteousness. Oh! to speak of Christ alone, this is the subject which is both “seed for the sower, and bread for the eater.” This is the live coal for the lip of the speaker, and the master-key to the heart of the hearer.

John MacArthur – Unlimited Prayer

 

“Men ought always to pray” (Luke 18:1, KJV).

As a child I was taught to pray with my head bowed, eyes closed, and hands folded. Even as a young man I thought that was the only acceptable mode of prayer.

In my seminary days I sang in a quartet that traveled to various churches throughout the United States. The first time I traveled with them we had a prayer meeting in the car, and the driver prayed with his eyes open. All of us were glad he did, but I wondered if God really heard his prayer.

I have since learned that praying with my eyes closed is a helpful way to avoid distractions, but it isn’t mandated in Scripture–nor are most of the other limitations people often place on prayer. For example, some people want to limit prayer to a certain posture, but Scripture tells of people praying while standing, sitting, kneeling, looking upward, bowing down, and lifting up their hands.

Some try to limit prayer to certain times of the day, such as morning or evening. But in the Bible people prayed at all times: morning, evening, three times a day, before meals, after meals, at bedtime, at midnight, day and night, in their youth, in their old age, when troubled, and when joyous.

Similarly, Scripture places no limits on the place or circumstances of prayer. It tells of people praying in a cave, in a closet, in a garden, on a mountainside, by a river, by the sea, in the street, in the Temple, in bed, at home, in the stomach of a fish, in battle, on a housetop, in a prison, in the wilderness, and on a cross.

The point is clear: there is no specific correct mode or kind of prayer, and prayer isn’t limited by your location or circumstances. You are to pray always. That includes any kind of prayer, on any subject, and at any time of the day or night.

Suggestions for Prayer: Make a list of your current plans, thoughts, and concerns. Have you made each of them a matter of prayer? Commit yourself to sharing every aspect of your life with God.

For Further Study:  Read Psalm 136. Note how the Lord is intimately involved in the lives of His people.

Joyce Meyer – Testing the Motive of the Heart

 

After these events, God tested and proved Abraham and said to him, Abraham! And he said, Here I am. [God] said, Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I will tell you. So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and his son Isaac; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and then began the trip to the place of which God had told him.

—Genesis 22:1-3

I believe God was testing Abraham’s priorities. Isaac had probably become very important to Abraham, so God tested Abraham to see if he would give up Isaac to Him in faith and obedience. When God saw Abraham’s willingness to obey, He provided a ram for Abraham to sacrifice in place of Isaac.

Remember, we all go through tests. As with Abraham, these tests are designed to try, prove, and develop our faith. One of the tests I had to face was, “What if I never have the ministry I’ve dreamed about for so long? What if I never get to minister to more than fifty people at a time? Can I still love God and be happy?”

What about you? If you don’t get whatever it is you want, can you still love God? Will you still serve Him all the days of your life? Or are you just trying to get something from Him? A fine line divides the motives of the heart between selfish and selfless; and we must always make sure we understand which side of the line we are standing on.