Tag Archives: god

Our Daily Bread — Jesus’ Team

 

Luke 5:27-35

He . . . saw a tax collector named Levi . . . . And He said to him, “Follow Me.” —Luke 5:27

In 2002 the Oakland Athletics built a winning baseball team in an unorthodox way. They had lost three top players after 2001, and the team didn’t have money to sign any stars. So Oakland’s general manager, Billy Beane, used some often-neglected statistics to assemble a group of lesser-known players either “past their prime” or seen by other teams as not skilled enough. That ragtag team ran off a 20-game winning streak on the way to winning their division and 103 games.

This reminds me a little of the way Jesus put together His “team” of disciples. He included rough Galilean fishermen, a zealot, and even a despised tax collector named Levi (Matthew). This reminds me that “God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty” (1 Cor. 1:27). God used those dedicated men (minus Judas) to ignite a movement that affected the world so dramatically it has never been the same.

There’s a lesson here for us. Sometimes we seek out the familiar, the influential, and the rich. And we tend to ignore people with less status or those with physical limitations.

Jesus put some of society’s less desirable people on His team—treating everyone the same. With the Spirit’s power and guidance, we too can honor all people equally. —David Egner

In Jesus Christ we all are equal,

For God’s Spirit makes us one;

As we give each other honor,

We give glory to His Son. —Fitzhugh

 

There are no unimportant people in the body of Christ.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Why Suffering?

 

One of my favorite scenes from the story of Jesus’s birth is of the far-seeing, elderly Simeon reaching for the child in Mary’s arms, content now to die for having seen the Messiah with his own eyes. His words to Mary, more eerie than most mothers could graciously accept, always seemed a cryptic little side note from a strange and saintly old man. But the prophecy never struck me as a pivotal introduction to Luke’s overarching motif of suffering throughout his telling of the story of Christ. Says Simeon:

“This child is destined for the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed.”(1)

Starting with Simeon, theologian Roy Harrisville draws out a side of Luke that surprised my reading of Luke’s Gospel and passion narrative—if only the surprise of seeing plainly something I had never noticed.(2) Again and again Luke points out the necessity of Jesus’s suffering, long before he is approaching the cross, long before he is sweating blood. It is necessary, confess Jesus and Luke repeatedly. I was nonetheless left with a plaguing question perhaps less for Harrisville than for God—or Jesus along the road to Emmaus. Why was it necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into glory, as he tells the men as they walk toward Emmaus? Why was Christ’s suffering a matter of “divine necessity”? Why was this the path that had to be taken?

Luke has long struck me as one of the more fascinating narrators of the life and death of Jesus, including details at a story level that make for more nuanced intrigue. “Day after day I was with you in the temple and you did not seize me,” says Jesus at his trial. “But all this has taken place, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled,” he explains in Matthew and similarly in Mark, “But let the scriptures be fulfilled.” Luke’s recollection of the scene is much less formulaic. Jesus replies with a far more layered vision of all that is at work. “But this is your hour, and the power of darkness,” hinting that there is another hour and the power of something else at hand.(3) Luke repeatedly includes hints of these disparate visions at work, blind and brute ignorance beside cryptic insight like Simeon’s, a contrast seen quite literally in the very criminals on either side of Jesus on the cross.

All of this I have cherished in the evangelist’s telling. And I can see, as Harrisville notes, that Luke’s relentless pointing to the necessity of Christ’s suffering lies at the heart of this dramatic narration; I can see that Luke describes the life of Jesus as the way of the suffering Christ, and the passion of the cross as the necessary event which marks the approaching kingdom. But why? Beyond the need to encourage suffering readers, beyond the musts of scripture, why was it necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things? If Luke’s telling is indeed a motif of human ignorance alongside that of the divine necessity, I am thankful for the grace that is shown on this side of unknowing. I am thankful that Jesus went willingly toward suffering for our own sakes even though we might not fully understand it.

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

(1) Luke 2:34-35.

(2) Roy Harrisville, Fracture: The Cross as Irreconcilable in the Language and Thought of the Biblical Writers (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 2006).

(3) Parallel texts found in Matthew 26:56, Mark 14:49b, and Luke 22:53b.

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” / Acts 14:22

God’s people have their trials. It was never designed by God, when he chose his people, that they should be an untried people. They were chosen in the furnace of affliction; they were never chosen to worldly peace and earthly joy. Freedom from sickness and the pains of mortality was never promised them; but when their Lord drew up the charter of privileges, he included chastisements amongst the things to which they should inevitably be heirs. Trials are a part of our lot; they were predestinated for us in Christ’s last legacy. So surely as the stars are fashioned by his hands, and their orbits fixed by him, so surely are our trials allotted to us: he has ordained their season and their place, their intensity and the effect they shall have upon us. Good men must never expect to escape troubles; if they do, they will be disappointed, for none of their predecessors have been without them. Mark the patience of Job; remember Abraham, for he had his trials, and by his faith under them, he became the “Father of the faithful.” Note well the biographies of all the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, and you shall discover none of those whom God made vessels of mercy, who were not made to pass through the fire of affliction. It is ordained of old that the cross of trouble should be engraved on every vessel of mercy, as the royal mark whereby the King’s vessels of honour are distinguished. But although tribulation is thus the path of God’s children, they have the comfort of knowing that their Master has traversed it before them; they have his presence and sympathy to cheer them, his grace to support them, and his example to teach them how to endure; and when they reach “the kingdom,” it will more than make amends for the “much tribulation” through which they passed to enter it.

 

Evening  “She called his name Ben-oni (son of sorrow), but his father called him

Benjamin (son of my right hand).” / Genesis 35:18

To every matter there is a bright as well as a dark side. Rachel was overwhelmed with the sorrow of her own travail and death; Jacob, though weeping the mother’s loss, could see the mercy of the child’s birth. It is well for us if, while the flesh mourns over trials, our faith triumphs in divine faithfulness. Samson’s lion yielded honey, and so will our adversities, if rightly considered. The stormy sea feeds multitudes with its fishes; the wild wood blooms with beauteous flowerets; the stormy wind sweeps away the pestilence, and the biting frost loosens the soil. Dark clouds distil bright drops, and black earth grows gay flowers. A vein of good is to be found in every mine of evil. Sad hearts have peculiar skill in discovering the most disadvantageous point of view from which to gaze upon a trial; if there were only one slough in the world, they would soon be up to their necks in it, and if there were only one lion in the desert they would hear it roar. About us all there is a tinge of this wretched folly, and we are apt, at times, like Jacob, to cry, “All these things are against me.” Faith’s way of walking is to cast all care upon the Lord, and then to anticipate good results from the worst calamities. Like Gideon’s men, she does not fret over the broken pitcher, but rejoices that the lamp blazes forth the more. Out of the rough oyster-shell of difficulty she extracts the rare pearl of honour, and from the deep ocean-caves of distress she uplifts the priceless coral of experience. When her flood of prosperity ebbs, she finds treasures hid in the sands; and when her sun of delight goes down, she turns her telescope of hope to the starry promises of heaven. When death itself appears, faith points to the light of resurrection beyond the grave, thus making our dying Ben-oni to be our living Benjamin.

 

John MacArthur – Confessing Your Sins

 

“I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed” (Dan. 9:4).

Confessing your sins means you agree with God that you have offended His holy character, are worthy of punishment, and in need of forgiveness. That’s exactly what we see Daniel doing in verses 5-16. Verse 20 summarizes his prayer: “I was speaking and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God.”

Unlike some who suffer God’s chastening, Daniel didn’t shift the blame for Israel’s calamity. Instead he admitted that his people had willfully disobeyed God’s Word and ignored His prophets, thereby bringing judgment upon themselves. Once they were a nation blessed by God; now they were aliens and captives in a foreign land. God had kept His promise to curse them if they disobeyed Him (Deut. 28:15).

In verses 12-15 Daniel analyzes the consequences of Israel’s sin, which included her captivity and the guilt she bore for her arrogance and reluctance to repent.

Verse 14 reflects perhaps the most important aspect of confession: Daniel’s affirmation that “the Lord our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done.” The Gentile nations knew that the Israelites were God’s chosen people. Surely the fall of Jerusalem raised questions about God’s character: What kind of God would stand idly by while His people are ravaged and His Temple plundered? What is the benefit of having a God like that? This, in effect, is Daniel’s response: “God is righteous in everything He does. We deserve this punishment, so don’t accuse Him of acting unjustly.”

Confession therefore serves a dual purpose: it brings forgiveness and frees God to chasten us without bringing accusations of inequity or injustice upon Himself.

Daniel’s prayer came at a special time in Israel’s history, but undoubtedly confession was a regular part of his life. That should be your pattern as well. Don’t wait until disaster strikes before you confess your sin. Make it a daily practice.

Suggestions for Prayer: If you have not developed a systematic approach to prayer, the “ACTS” format is a good way to start.

Adoration–praising God

Confession–confessing sin

Thanksgiving–thanking God

Supplication–praying for others

For Further Study: Read about David’s sin in 2 Samuel 11 & 12 and his confession in Psalm 51. What are the similarities and differences between David’s confession and Daniel’s?

Joyce Meyer – Experience Joy as a Calm Delight

 

I have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing. —John 15:11

Are you like some believers who think that in order to be filled with the joy of the Lord they must be turned on, fired up, and superhyped?

God wants your joy to be full and complete, but that doesn’t mean you have to swing from chandeliers!

Some define joy as “hilarity,” and there is some basis for that definition. But according to Strong’s Concordance, the Greek word chara, translated joy in the above verse, means “calm delight.”

My husband, Dave, likens this calm delight to a bubbling brook that just flows along quietly and peacefully, bringing refreshment to everything and everyone along its path. Doesn’t that sound appealing?

Of course there will be times when your joy will be supercharged and exciting, but most of the time we will live with a simple “calm delight.”

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – You Can Bear It

 

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able: but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13, KJV).

I find great comfort and encouragement in this promise from God, one of my favorite Scriptures. Believing in this promise has saved me from falling into sin more times than I could ever begin to count.

As Christians, we are on the offensive. We do not have to cringe, trembling in our boots, wondering when Satan is going to attack again and what form it will take. We are the ones on the move. We are to be the aggressors, for we have God’s promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against us (Matthew 16:18).

There is no stronghold of Satan that cannot be recaptured for our Lord, who promises to fight for us. God’s Word reminds us that all authority in heaven and on earth is given to the Lord Jesus, and He promises always to be with us, never to leave us.

Satan would have you believe that there is no hope for you. You are discouraged, you have financial problems physical problems, sorrow from losing loved ones. The whole world seems to be caving in on you, and Satan says, “God doesn’t love or care for you. He can’t help you. You’re on your own. You might as well give up.”

When that temptation comes, we cry out to God in believing prayer and we resist the enemy who is the author of depression. He is the author of negative thinking. He is the author of criticism, lies and all things that are contrary to the will of God.

If we are going to take a proper offense, we must live in the power of the Holy Spirit. That is the reason our Savior – after commanding the disciples to go and preach the gospel to all men everywhere – also commanded them to wait in Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high. “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Act 1:8, KJV).

The key to escaping temptation and resisting sin is faith in the faithfulness of God to keep His promise that you will not be tempted more than you are able to bear.

Bible Reading: I Corinthians 10:9-12

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will not go into the spiritual battle unarmed, but will count on God’s Holy Spirit to make a way of escape when temptation comes. I will tell others how they too can be victorious over temptation.

Presidential Prayer Team – Power Outage

 

Millions watched as a power loss at this year’s Super Bowl left half the stadium dark. Energy providers and Superdome management struggled for explanations for the outage, citing an abnormality in the equipment. While they searched for the root cause, the outage was blamed on decay in the power line and a relay malfunction.

So that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God-Acts 26:18

When you think about today’s America, does it seem that half the nation is in the dark – spiritually? There is a root cause: decay caused by sin in the midst. But there is an available, perpetual power source, Jehovah God, and those who plug in are found in the light with no delays.

Paul knew that source. He testified before King Agrippa and government officials like Festus of the defining moment that grounded him and turned his world around. He saw the people in darkness and decay, and was determined to preach to them the redemption and power of Jesus Christ.

Prayer is your great power cord. Check to be certain that you are fully plugged in. Then pray for an America in darkness to find the Light of the World and place their trust in Him…beginning with the nation’s leaders and extending to the youngest schoolchild.

Recommended Reading: Acts 26:12-23

Greg Laurie – The Source of Joy

 

“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!”—Habakkuk 3:17–18

Whatever we might acquire in life, the novelty of it will diminish over time. Take a new car, for example. Don’t you love the new-car smell? You look for excuses to drive it. You vow to never eat in your car. And then a month goes by and you’re late for work. You have to eat, and sure enough, you have your first spill inside your car. Some time passes, and you get that first little dent in the door. Then the paint chips a little. And after a while, that new car is not so exciting.

We could take that metaphor and apply it to everything in life. No matter how big, how cool, or how fast—whatever it is, everything loses its appeal after a period of time. So if you think happiness comes from what you have, you will find that you are always going to want something else to take its place.

But the Bible teaches that happiness—true happiness—comes from who we know. Listen to the words of Habakkuk: “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” (3:17–18).

Let me update that for modern times: Even when business is slow and there are no prospects in the immediate future, even when my investments have evaporated and the car won’t start, I will rejoice in the Lord.

Our joy and contentment in life does not come from what we have. It comes from whom we know.

 

Max Lucado – God Never Gives Up

 

God’s people often forget their God, but God never forgets them.  When Joseph was dropped into a pit by his own brothers, God didn’t give up. When Moses said, “Here am I, send Aaron,” God didn’t give up. When the delivered Israelites wanted Egyptian slavery instead of milk and honey, God did not give up. When Aaron was making a false god at the very moment Moses was with the true God, God did not give up.

And when human hands fastened the divine hands of Jesus to a cross with spikes, it wasn’t the soldiers who held the hands of Jesus steady.  It was God, the God who never gives up on his people, who held them steady. He held them to the cross where, with holy blood, the divine hand wrote these words, “God would give up His only son before He’d ever give up on you!” (John 3:16)

Charles Stanley – A God We Can Trust

 

Lamentations 3:22-23

Trust is a valuable commodity these days. The reason is because it seems to be in such short supply. Selfish ambition, greed, and a “look out for number one” attitude are all too prevalent; some people even find it challenging to trust themselves. In contrast, though, we have many good reasons to trust the Lord.

First, He is the one true God. There is no one else like Him (2 Sam. 7:21-22), and He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). His perfect will is changeless, so we never have to worry about fluctuating ethics or values.

Second, God is the very essence of truth. He does not stand under the authority of some cosmic list of “right” and “wrong.” Rather, He Himself is the very standard of comparison. And because He is truth, we know that He will never deceive.

Third, He has proven Himself to be absolutely faithful. As the Bible says, “The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is [His] faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22 -23).

Fourth, God is trustworthy because He has absolute control of every situation. Psalm 103:19 declares, “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.”

Nothing can prevent the Lord from achieving His perfect will, regardless of how difficult the situation may seem to us. Our very lives testify to His power and love. As God’s children, we can safely put our faith and confidence in Him, knowing that we will never be disappointed.

Our Daily Bread — On The Fringe

 

Philippians 4:10-20

God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:19

When butterflies hatch at Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, Michigan, they do so in an indoor tropical paradise perfectly suited to meet their every need. The temperature is perfect. The humidity is perfect. The food is a perfect balance of calories and nutrition to keep them healthy. No need to go elsewhere. Yet some butterflies see the bright blue sky outside the conservatory and spend their days fluttering near the glass ceiling far away from the plentiful food supply.

I want to say to those butterflies, “Don’t you know everything you need is inside? The outside is cold and harsh, and you will die within minutes if you get what you are longing to have.”

I wonder if that is the message God has for me. So I ask myself, Do I look longingly at things that would harm me? Do I use my energy to gain what I don’t need and shouldn’t have? Do I ignore God’s plentiful provision because I imagine that something just beyond my reach is better? Do I spend my time on the fringes of faith?

God supplies all our needs from His riches (Phil. 4:19). So instead of striving for what we don’t have, may we open our hearts to gratefully receive everything we’ve already been given by Him. —Julie Ackerman Link

All that I want is in Jesus;

He satisfies, joy He supplies;

Life would be worthless without Him,

All things in Jesus I find. —Loes

Our needs will never exhaust God’s supply.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Cross and the Cookie Jar

 

As a young man growing up in Scotland, like many others, I was exposed to Christianity and the symbol of the cross. However, it was a point of confusion, a mystery at best, and at worst, an object of scorn and disgust. I did not know what it meant or why religious people thought it important, but I knew I wanted nothing to do with it.

Obviously, I have had a change of mind. Why? I’ll explain as we proceed, but first, some helpful voices. Alister McGrath, Professor of theology, ministry, and education at King’s College, London, writes: “Just as God has humbled himself in making himself known ‘in the humility and shame of the cross,’ we must humble ourselves if we are to encounter him. We must humble ourselves by being prepared to be told where to look to find God, rather than trusting in our own insights and speculative abilities. In effect, we are forced to turn our eyes from contemplation of where we would like to see God revealed, and to turn them instead upon a place which is not of our choosing, but which is given to us.”(1)

In other words, nothing in one’s history, experience, or knowledge can prepare us for God’s means of drawing near. At the cross, something we are not expecting is revealed, something scandalous unveiled, something we could never have articulated or asked for is given to us. Philip Yancey, the renowned author, offers more on this:  ”Here at the cross is the man who loves his enemies, the man whose righteousness is greater than that of the Pharisees, who being rich became poor, who gives his robe to those who take his cloak, who prays for those who deceitfully use him.  The cross is not a detour or a hurdle on the way to Kingdom, nor is it even the way to the Kingdom; it is the Kingdom come.”(2)

I have come to realize that wrong ideas and images are responsible for much misery and disaster in our lives. And I think many of us have significantly distorted ideas about the purpose and meaning of the cross. When many people think of “sin” or the human condition before God, what comes to mind is perhaps something like the image of a child caught with his hands in the cookie jar. Such an image might well be understood as disobedience or maybe even naughtiness, but is it really that important? It is certainly not bad enough to justify extreme reactions. As a result of such a metaphor, our moral reflections on sin tend to foster incredulity or disgust. The response seems totally out of proportion to the offense.

But let us shift the metaphor. Supposing one day you go for a routine medical examination, and they discover you have a deadly virus. You did not do anything. You were not necessarily responsible, but you were exposed, and infected. You feel the injustice of it all, you are afraid, you are angry, but most of all, you are seriously sick. You are dying and you need help.

Whatever the cross and the gospel are about, it is not a slap on the hands for kids refusing to heed the rules of the cookie jar. It is not mere advice to get you to clean up your life and morals. It is not mere ideas to inform you about what it takes to be nice. It is about treatment, a physician’s mediation; it is about providing a solution and discovering life.

The cross may seem an extreme and offensive measure to the problem of sin and death and sickness—but what if it is the very cure that is needed? McGrath describes our options at the cross of Christ. “Either God is not present at all in this situation, or else God is present in a remarkable and paradoxical way. To affirm that God is indeed present in this situation is to close the door to one way of thinking about God and to open the way to another—for the cross marks the end of a particular way of thinking about God.”(3) Shockingly, thoroughly, scandalously, the cross depicts a God who throws himself upon sin and sickness to bring the hope of rescue miraculously near.

Some find it shocking, some overwhelming, some almost too good to be true. It is, however, for all.

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

(1) Alister McGrath, The Mystery of the Cross, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988), 104.

(2) Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew, (Grand Rapids:  Zondervan, 1995), 196.

(3) Alister McGrath, The Mystery of the Cross, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988), 103.

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning  “Have faith in God.” / Mark 11:22

Faith is the foot of the soul by which it can march along the road of the commandments. Love can make the feet move more swiftly; but faith is the foot which carries the soul. Faith is the oil enabling the wheels of holy devotion and of earnest piety to move well; and without faith the wheels are taken from the chariot, and we drag heavily. With faith I can do all things; without faith I shall neither have the inclination nor the power to do anything in the service of God. If you would find the men who serve God the best, you must look for the men of the most faith. Little faith will save a man, but little faith cannot do great things for God. Poor Little-faith could not have fought “Apollyon;” it needed “Christian” to do that. Poor Little-faith could not have slain “Giant Despair;” it required “Great-heart’s” arm to knock that monster down. Little faith will go to heaven most certainly, but it often has to hide itself in a nut-shell, and it frequently loses all but its jewels. Little-faith says, “It is a rough road, beset with sharp thorns, and full of dangers; I am afraid to go;” but Great-faith remembers the promise, “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; as thy days, so shall thy strength be:” and so she boldly ventures. Little-faith stands desponding, mingling her tears with the flood; but Great-faith sings, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee:” and she fords the stream at once. Would you be comfortable and happy? Would you enjoy religion? Would you have the religion of cheerfulness and not that of gloom? Then “have faith in God.” If you love darkness, and are satisfied to dwell in gloom and misery, then be content with little faith; but if you love the sunshine, and would sing songs of rejoicing, covet earnestly this best gift, “great faith.”

 

 

Evening “It is better to trust in the Lord, than to put confidence in man.” / Psalm 118:8

Doubtless the reader has been tried with the temptation to rely upon the things which are seen, instead of resting alone upon the invisible God. Christians often look to man for help and counsel, and mar the noble simplicity of their reliance upon their God. Does this evening’s portion meet the eye of a child of God anxious about temporals, then would we reason with him awhile. You trust in Jesus, and only in Jesus, for your salvation, then why are you troubled? “Because of my great care.” Is it not written, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord”? “Be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication make known your wants unto God.” Cannot you trust God for temporals? “Ah! I wish I could.” If you cannot trust God for temporals, how dare you trust him for spirituals? Can you trust him for your soul’s redemption, and not rely upon him for a few lesser mercies? Is not God enough for thy need, or is his all-sufficiency too narrow for thy wants? Dost thou want another eye beside that of him who sees every secret thing? Is his heart faint? Is his arm weary? If so, seek another God; but if he be infinite, omnipotent, faithful, true, and all-wise, why gaddest thou abroad so much to seek another confidence? Why dost thou rake the earth to find another foundation, when this is strong enough to bear all the weight which thou canst ever build thereon? Christian, mix not only thy wine with water, do not alloy thy gold of faith with the dross of human confidence. Wait thou only upon God, and let thine expectation be from him. Covet not Jonah’s gourd, but rest in Jonah’s God. Let the sandy foundations of terrestrial trust be the choice of fools, but do thou, like one who foresees the storm, build for thyself an abiding place upon the Rock of Ages.

John MacArthur – Denying Yourself

 

“I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed” (Dan. 9:4).

In Luke 18 Jesus told a parable to people who were trusting in their own self-righteousness. He said, “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, and the other a tax-gatherer. The Pharisee stood and was praying thus to himself, ‘God, I thank Thee that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax-gatherer. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’

“But the tax-gatherer, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’

“I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted” (vv. 10-14).

Apart from God’s mercy we cannot enter into God’s presence. The tax-gatherer knew that and pled for forgiveness. The Pharisee missed the point and went away without forgiveness.

Like the tax-gatherer, Daniel approached God with an attitude of confession and self-denial. He could have reminded God of his years of faithful service while in Babylon, but that didn’t enter his mind. He knew that in himself there was nothing to commend him to God. His only thought was for mercy for himself and his people, that God’s purposes could be realized through them.

As a Christian, you have the wonderful privilege of boldly entering into God’s presence “with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith” (Heb. 10:22). That privilege is rooted in God’s grace through Christ’s sacrifice and leaves no room for presumption or self-righteousness. Always guard your attitude in prayer so that you don’t unwittingly slip into a Pharisaic mentality.

Suggestions for Prayer: Memorize Psalm 117:1þ118:1 and recite it often as a hymn of praise to the Lord.

For Further Study:  Jesus had much to say about the self-righteous scribes and Pharisees of His day. Read Matthew 23, noting His scathing denunciations of their hypocritical attitudes and practices.

Joyce Meyer – Worship with Your Whole Heart

 

I will cry to God Most High, Who performs on my behalf and rewards me [Who brings to pass His purposes for me and surely completes them]! —Psalm 57:2

Great worship leaders know to come into the presence of God with their entire being, prepared to give thanks and praise (see Deuteronomy 10:12). They don’t just roll out of bed, throw water on their face, and run a comb through their hair before church. They know that the anointing comes from a sincere pursuit of loving God with their whole heart.

Likewise, as you approach God in the morning, come to Him with a heart full of worship, expressing your awe of Him for His faithfulness toward you. He promises that He will never forsake you, but will be with you all day long (see Joshua 1:5).

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Share His Treasures

 

“For His Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts, and tells us that we really are God’s children. And since we are His children, we will share His treasures – for all God gives to His Son Jesus is now ours too. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering” (Romans 8:16,17).

You may cringe, as I do, at the thought of suffering for Jesus. As He reminds us in Mark 10, anything we ever give up for Him will be given to us a hundred times over, with persecution. Quite frankly, I have never relished the thought of being persecuted. Yet, again and again, in my own experience I have known the reality of that supernatural presence of God, that peace that passes all understanding, during times of suffering and persecution.

Our Lord Himself, knowing that He was on His way to the cross, spoke of peace, love and joy more than at any other time in His ministry. The apostle Paul knew all kinds of suffering. He was in prison frequently; he was beaten, and he finally died as a martyr for his faith. Yet, even while in prison, he wrote of joy and peace – “Count it all joy,” he said. “Rejoice ever more.”

Philippians 3:10 records the desire of his heart: “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death” (KJV). Apart from the fellowship of His sufferings, Paul knew that he would never mature and become like the Lord Jesus Christ. “Adversity is the touchstone of character.”

All men suffer; however, the disobedient Christians and the unbelievers suffer far more than the obedient, Spirit-filled Christians, because most of the problems of life are self- imposed and when they suffer, they suffer alone, for they are on their own. But the Spirit-filled, obedient, faithful servant of God always knows the reality of God’s faithfulness.

Bible Reading: Romans 8:18-23

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Since it is my desire to be conformed to the image of Christ, to share His glory and His treasure. I will gladly share His suffering, knowing that He will be with me, ministering to me, caring for me, enveloping me with His love and peace. And I will share this word of encouragement with others who may not understand the faithfulness of God.

Presidential Prayer Team – Storytellers

 

Lacy was 19 and living on the streets of San Antonio, Texas when she encountered an old friend who told her the story of Jesus and how His love changed her life. Because of that conversation, Lacy invited Jesus to change her life. Today she is an accomplished speaker, telling her story to at-risk youth in halfway houses across America.

With great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Acts 4:33

Modern science is discovering new evidence about how distinctly “hot-wired” the human brain is for pulling meaning from stories. It seems facts quickly fade away unless firmly anchored to something. A heartfelt story stimulates a similar part of the brain where memories are stored. In other words, you remember a meaningful story almost as well as if it actually happened to you. It’s almost as if you could feel it, touch it – know it as your own.

When Jesus was alive on Earth He commissioned His followers to go and tell others about His story. In hearing of His love, they intimately relate to it so they can know Christ personally and experience His love as their very own. Be His storyteller…and pray for the power of God will be set loose to bless America in great and mighty ways.

Recommended Reading: Acts 1:6-11

Greg Laurie – Strength through Worship

 

“But the time is coming–indeed it’s here now–when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.”—John 4:23

When we worship on earth, we are in tune with what is happening in heaven. The Book of Revelation gives us this description of worship in heaven: “And they sang in a mighty chorus: ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered—to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing’ ” (5:12).

When we worship, it helps us to get things into perspective. The psalmist Asaph asked the age-old question, “Why do the wicked prosper?”

And then it dawned on him:

Then I went into your sanctuary, O God,

and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.

Truly, you put them on a slippery path

and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction. (Psalm 73:17–18)

Sometimes we don’t understand why things are the way they are. But when we come and worship, when we hear the Word of God, it helps us gain perspective.

When our son died on a Thursday, my wife and I were in church the following Sunday. People told me my faith was so strong. But actually my faith was weak. I needed help. I needed God’s people. I needed to worship God. I needed to hear a Bible study.

And the moment I walked in, I was surrounded by God’s people. I knew they were praying for me. It helped me gain perspective and see God for who He is and see my problems for what they are. Sometimes we have big problems because we have a small God. But if we have a big God, then we will see, comparatively speaking, that we have small problems.

When we are praising the Lord on earth, we are joining the chorus of heaven. And God is looking for people to worship Him in spirit and in truth.

Charles Stanley – Meditation: The Key to Listening

 

Matthew 6:5-6

Imagine yourself standing in the middle of a full auditorium, with thousands of people surrounding you. If every person there were speaking at the same time, would it be possible to hear any individual in the great crowd? Most likely, you’d be unable to distinguish one voice from another.

This same principle holds true with prayer. In our normal everyday lives, we are surrounded by countless voices in need of our attention. Our children cry for it, our employers demand it, and our loved ones yearn for it. With all of these bidding for our attention, no wonder God’s voice at times seems so muffled or distant.

Effective meditation requires seclusion. Unless we make an effort to escape our daily demands for at least a few moments, our ability to hear God’s voice will be weakened.

Our Lord was well aware of this need for isolation. In teaching about prayer, Jesus told the disciples to go into their rooms and close the door behind them. He knew it was vital to take a break from the pressures of life in order to truly commune with the Father.

The modern world works against this need, however. Mobile phones, e-mail, and other technological advances have brought us the blessing—and the curse—of constant communication and interruption.

At some point today, turn off the TV, cell phone, and computer, and simply listen for God’s voice. Your schedule won’t surrender easily, so make a decision to claim a block of time for the Lord. Then quiet your extraneous thoughts, and focus on Him. He wants to refresh you with time in His presence.

 

 

Our Daily Bread — Bumper Cars

 

Matthew 18:23-35

Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times? —Matthew 18:21

Life is a lot like “bumper cars” at an amusement park. You get in your car, knowing that you will get hit . . . you just don’t know how hard. And when you get hit, you step on the gas pedal, chase the one who has hit you, and hope to bump that person harder than they have bumped you.

That may be a fun strategy for bumper cars, but it’s a terrible strategy for life. When you get bumped in life, bumping back only escalates matters and in the end everyone suffers damage.

Jesus had a better strategy: Forgive those who have “bumped” us. Like Peter, we may wonder how many times we have to forgive. When Peter asked Jesus, “Up to seven times?” Jesus answered “Up to seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:21-22). In other words, there are no limits to grace. We should always extend a spirit of forgiveness. Why? In the story of the forgiving master, Jesus explained that we forgive not because our offenders deserve it but because we’ve been forgiven. He says, “I forgave you . . . because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?” (vv.32-33).

Since we are among those who’ve been forgiven much, let’s stop the damage and share that blessing with others. —Joe Stowell

Lord, remind us of how deeply we have offended You

and how often You have extended the grace of

forgiveness to us. Teach us to forgive others and to trust

You to deal with those who sin against us.

 

Forgiveness is God’s grace in action through us.