Tag Archives: god

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.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Court of Discord

 

Seized from the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was taken to the courtyard. Peter followed from a distance and watched among the guards as a makeshift trial unraveled. Mark describes the unfolding scene: “The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree. Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this man-made temple and in three days will build another, not made by man.’ Yet even then their testimony did not agree.“(1)

In this courtyard was a mob of witnesses. Priests, guards, and passersby—the whole Sanhedrin—made their ways to the scene. Testimonies were spouted from all angles, their statements contradicting one another, stories disproving other stories. We are not told whether Peter added anything vocally to this cacophony of dissenting and differing voices. Yet, to be sure, even choosing to stand in silence, he was still choosing a testimony of sorts. Later, he would offer that testimony in words: “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”(2)

Two millennia after this scene of witnesses at odds, we live our lives, no matter what we believe, in a similar courtyard. Here, with or without evidence, testimonies are shouted all around. Most not only disagree but contradict one another; some void of anything more than preference are presented nonetheless as if standing before a grand jury. We hear closing statements as vitriolic as the chief priests and as evasive as the man who once told his friend, “Some people like white wine, others like red. You like Reformed Christianity, my brother Hans likes the Seventh Day Adventists, I like no religion at all…[E]ach individual should be free to choose whatever is his or her personal preference, and we will respect each other’s choice.”(3)

In these days of preference and pedigree, our own witness is worth bearing in mind. For whether we are shouting like the chief priests or hiding like Peter, we are all bearing witness to something. The man in the corner watching Jesus’s trial with disinterest is still giving an answer to the question of the court. Whether offended, awed, or indifferent, the question we answer is the same. “What kind of man is this that even the winds and the waves obey him?” “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy,” asked others. “Who can forgive sins but God alone?”(4) The role of witness is as unavoidable today as it was in the courtyard hours before Jesus was sentenced to die. “We speak about God without opening our mouths,” says Albert Holtz. “What are the chances that by watching me a person can learn that God is love.”(5)

Voluntary or otherwise, at the heart of our role as witnesses is our answer to the very question Jesus embodies, “Who do you say that I am?” And while your answer is hopefully more than mere preference, it is worth realizing that we are answering with every ordinary moment of our lives. Some of the loudest testimonies are often spoken without words. Peter’s silence was equally a part of his three-time denial of ever knowing the man on trial.

Yet Peter also followed from a distance, his mind racing with both fear and love. We, too, are looking in on a great trial, sometimes participating, sometimes denying him, sometimes hearing our voices and with the shock of recognition, a rooster crowing in the distance. The courtyard is still full of witnesses at odds, sometimes at odds even with themselves. But you, too, stand a witness to something.

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

(1) Mark 14:55-59.

(2) Mark 14:71.

(3) Charles Van Engen, You Are My Witnesses (New York: Reformed Church Press, 1992), 4.

(4) See Matthew 8:27, Luke 5:21.

(5) Albert Holtz, Pilgrim Road: A Benedictine Journey Through Lent (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse, 2006), 121.

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning  “Ye must be born again.” / John 3:7

Regeneration is a subject which lies at the very basis of salvation, and we should be very diligent to take heed that we really are “born again,” for there are many who fancy they are, who are not. Be assured that the name of a Christian is not the nature of a Christian; and that being born in a Christian land, and being recognized as professing the Christian religion is of no avail whatever, unless there be something more added to it–the being “born again,” is a matter so mysterious, that human words cannot describe it. “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” Nevertheless, it is a change which is known and felt: known by works of holiness, and felt by a gracious experience. This great work is supernatural. It is not an operation which a man performs for himself: a new principle is infused, which works in the heart, renews the soul, and affects the entire man. It is not a change of my name, but a renewal of my nature, so that I am not the man I used to be, but a new man in Christ Jesus. To wash and dress a corpse is a far different thing from making it alive: man can do the one, God alone can do the other. If you have then, been “born again,” your acknowledgment will be, “O Lord Jesus, the everlasting Father, thou art my spiritual Parent; unless thy Spirit had breathed into me the breath of a new, holy, and spiritual life, I had been to this day dead in trespasses and sins.’ My heavenly life is wholly derived from thee, to thee I ascribe it. My life is hid with Christ in God.’ It is no longer I who live, but Christ who liveth in me.” May the Lord enable us to be well assured on this vital point, for to be unregenerate is to be unsaved, unpardoned, without God, and without hope.

 

Evening  “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty.” / Proverbs 18:12

It is an old and common saying, that “coming events cast their shadows before them;” the wise man teaches us that a haughty heart is the prophetic prelude of evil. Pride is as safely the sign of destruction as the change of mercury in the weather-glass is the sign of rain; and far more infallibly so than that. When men have ridden the high horse, destruction has always overtaken them. Let David’s aching heart show that there is an eclipse of a man’s glory when he dotes upon his own greatness. 2 Sam. 24:10. See Nebuchadnezzar, the mighty builder of Babylon, creeping on the earth, devouring grass like oxen, until his nails had grown like bird’s claws, and his hair like eagle’s feathers. Dan. 4:33. Pride made the boaster a beast, as once before it made an angel a devil. God hates high looks, and never fails to bring them down. All the arrows of God are aimed at proud hearts. O Christian, is thine heart haughty this evening? For pride can get into the Christian’s heart as well as into the sinner’s; it can delude him into dreaming that he is “rich and increased in goods, and hath need of nothing.” Art thou glorying in thy graces or thy talents? Art thou proud of thyself, that thou hast had holy frames and sweet experiences? Mark thee, reader, there is a destruction coming to thee also. Thy flaunting poppies of self-conceit will be pulled up by the roots, thy mushroom graces will wither in the burning heat, and thy self-sufficiency shall become as straw for the dunghill. If we forget to live at the foot of the cross in deepest lowliness of spirit, God will not forget to make us smart under his rod. A destruction will come to thee, O unduly exalted believer, the destruction of thy joys and of thy comforts, though there can be no destruction of thy soul. Wherefore, “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

John MacArthur – Praying with Fervency

 

“I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes” (Dan. 9:3).

People view prayer differently. For some it is a last resort after all human options have been exhausted: “All I can do now is pray for you!” Others liken it to a spiritual spare tire–something used only in the event of an emergency. Many who should thrive on prayer have been lulled into complacency by an affluent and godless society.

Daniel, however, saw prayer as an opportunity to express the passion and fervency of his heart to the God he loved and served. In Daniel 9:3 he says, “I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him.” That implies he set apart a specific time to devote to thoughtful, earnest, and fervent prayer. That is further supported by the way he prepared himself through fasting and donning sackcloth and ashes–symbols of humility and deep contrition over sin.

It might seem unusual for a man of Daniel’s spiritual stature to be overwhelmed by his sense of sin, but the closer one draws to God, the more aware he is of his sinfulness. We see that in Paul, who called himself the foremost of all sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). That might seem like a ridiculous statement to us but Paul saw sin for what it was. So did Daniel.

The title “Lord God” in verse 3 emphasizes God’s sovereign rule over all things. Daniel knew that God had permitted the Babylonian Captivity and that He alone could deliver His people from it. Consequently, Daniel gave the Lord his undivided attention as he prayed and sought mercy for himself and his people.

Daniel’s fervency is a rebuke to much of the flippancy we hear in prayer today. It was profound because it was generated by God’s Word and grounded in His will.

James 5:16 says, “The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (KJV). Be like Daniel–a righteous person who prays fervently with great effect.

Suggestions for Prayer:  Ask God to give you a greater sense of fervency in prayer.

Be sensitive to any sin that might be hindering your prayers.

For Further Study:  Read Luke 11:5-13.

What parable did Jesus tell to illustrate the benefits of humble, persistent prayer?

How did Jesus contrast earthly fathers with their heavenly Father?

Joyce Meyer – One Presses You Down, the Other Lifts You Up

 

I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide. I said, I will confess my transgressions to the Lord [continually unfolding the past till all is told]—then You [instantly] forgave me the guilt and iniquity of my sin. —Psalm 32:5

We must learn the difference between condemnation and conviction. Condemnation presses us down and manifests as a heavy burden that requires us to pay for our errors. Conviction is the work of the

Holy Spirit, showing us that we have sinned and inviting us to confess our sins in order to receive forgiveness and God’s help to improve our behavior in the future. Condemnation makes the problem worse; conviction is intended to lift us out of it.

When you feel guilty, the first thing to do is ask yourself if you are guilty according to God’s Word. Perhaps you are. If so, confess your sin to God; turn away from that sin and don’t repeat it. If you need to apologize to someone you have wronged, do it. Then…forgive yourself and let go of it! God already forgave you, and if you refuse to do the same, then you’ll miss out on the joy of redemption that God wants us all to experience.

Sometimes you may well find that you are not guilty according to God’s Word. For example, I can recall feeling guilty when I tried to rest. For years I drove myself incessantly to work, work, work because I felt good when I was accomplishing something and felt guilty if I was enjoying myself. That thinking is totally wrong according to God’s Word. Even He rested from His work of creation, and He has invited us to enter His rest. The guilt I felt when I tried to rest was unscriptural, irrational, and downright ridiculous. When I stopped believing my feelings alone and started truly examining them in the light of God’s Word, I stopped feeling guilty.

Trust God and His Word to reveal to you when your guilt is false and your thinking is wrong.

Trust in Him: What makes you feel guilty? What does God’s Word say about the situation? Stop believing your feelings that condemn you, and put your trust in His Word that convicts.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – No Longer Under Law

 

“So there is now no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

What an exciting fact! We are no longer under the law. We have been liberated from the bondage of trying to please God through our self-effort.

What is our motivation under grace? Under law our motivation was fear, and desire for reward and blessing; under grace, our basic motivation is an expression of gratitude – an inward appreciation and response to God’s love and grace.

Why do we do what we do as Christians? We should respond because we, like the apostle Paul, are constrained by the love of Christ. We live for the glory of God. You will remember that the apostle Paul had been beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked, starved, buffeted, criticized and condemned, yet he said, “The love of Christ constrains me.”

Even if there were no rewards for those who live godly lives and obey our Savior, the reward of knowing Him as our God and Father, being forgiven of sin and cleansed from all guilt, is more than just enough; it is unfathomable. We can know Him, love Him, worship Him and serve Him by faith – here and now!

A young man I know is writing a book on how to become rich in the kingdom of God. He is basing his theme on the rewards that will be his by winning souls. “I want to be rich in heaven,” he says.

That may be a worthwhile goal, but it is not mine. Mine is gratitude and love. I love Him because He first loved me – died for me, liberated me, set me free.

Bible Reading: Romans 8:2-6

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will sing praises and give thanks in my heart to the Lord upon every remembrance of the liberty and grace that is mine in Christ Jesus, and I will tell everyone who will listen that we are no longer in bondage to sin, for Christ has set us free.

Presidential Prayer Team – Fail-Safe Power

 

On July 13, 1977, New York City suffered a massive blackout as lightning downed major transmission power lines supplying the grid into the metropolitan area. According to the Blackout History Project, looters broke into stores, taking merchandise and destroying local businesses. Within two days, police had arrested 3,766 looters and the city had suffered an economic blow placed at more than $300 million.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. Acts 1:8

Christ’s grid for victorious living involves power, too, but not the kind lost with a lightning storm. Before Jesus left the Earth, He told His disciples not to leave Jerusalem until they had received the power of the Holy Spirit. “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” (John 16:13)

God offers the gift of the Holy Spirit to all who believe. You only have to receive it. Without that gift of power, you’ll be in the dark. You can’t have His light without power (John 8:12). Ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit and “speak the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:31) Then pray for your nation’s leaders to recognize the true power of God, and for it to be supplied into their lives.

Recommended Reading: Acts 4:23-31

Greg Laurie – Songs in the Night

 

The Lord will command His loving kindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me–a prayer to the God of my life—Psalm 42:8

Have you ever been awakened in the middle of the night and had a Christian song or a worship chorus going through your mind? If so, then that tells me you are laying up the things of God in your heart. Instead of waking up with the latest pop music in your head, you are thinking of a Christian song or maybe a Scripture verse. That is a song in the night God has given to you.

When Paul and Silas were thrown into prison in Philippi, Acts 16 tells us that “at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (verse 25).

The word “listening” that is used here is significant. In the original language, it means to listen very, very carefully. Another way to translate it is “they listened with pleasure.” There are some things that are not a pleasure to listen to—they are painful, like fingernails on a chalkboard. But this was pleasurable, like when your favorite song comes on the radio and you turn it up. Oh, I love this song! This is a great song! That is how the prisoners were listening.

I doubt they had ever heard anyone sing in that dungeon before. And I think just the fact that they were singing to the Lord was a powerful testimony. It was a platform for evangelism. You see, you can talk about trusting God in adversity, but when someone sees it in action in your life, there is an undeniable authenticity. It is a powerful witness. Worship can be a powerful tool for a nonbeliever to be exposed to.

When you are in pain, the midnight hour is not the easiest time for a worship service. But God can give songs in the night.

Max Lucado – God Gave His Best

 

Jenna, wake up.  It’s time to go to school. For four lightning-fast years she’d been ours, and ours alone. And now that was all going to change.  I knew it was time. And I knew she would be fine.  But I never knew it would be so hard to give her up on her first day of preschool.

Is that how you felt, God? Is what I felt that morning anything like what you felt when you gave up your son? It explains how your heart must have ached as you heard the cracking voice of Jesus say, “Father take this cup away.” (Mark 14:36).

I said good-bye and sent my little Jenna into a safe environment with a compassionate teacher ready to wipe away any tears. Yet, you Father, released Jesus into a hostile arena with a cruel soldier who turned the back of your son into raw meat.

God gave His best, the apostle Paul reasons. Why should we ever doubt His love?

Charles Stanley – Listening to God

 

2 Samuel 7:8-22

Of all the heroes in Scripture, few are spoken of as respectfully as King David. What made him so special? David himself wondered the same thing(2 Sam. 7:18) The best answer is simply that he was a man who listened to God.

Righteousness is impossible unless we listen to the Father. When we do, we gain divine guidance, direction, discipline, and encouragement. This was certainly true of the shepherd-king (Ps. 63:1-8).

In the Psalms, we get a beautiful picture of David’s prayer life. Note four things he did when meditating on God:

1. He reviewed the past. Though David had made some serious mistakes, those hard times produced a necessary humility. Looking back helped him remember God’s faithfulness.

2. He reflected upon the Lord’s character. When we focus on His attributes, we grow in our understanding of who He is. This results in a more personal, interactive relationship.

3. David recalled God’s promises. He knew the Lord had always directed his steps—and with great success.

4. He made requests of his heavenly Father. God never intended for us to go through life alone. He is always ready to act on our behalf.

Stop for a minute and think about how you typically interact with God. If prayer time is dominated by your own talking, some adjustments may be in order. Just as the Lord spoke to David, God also has many things to say to you, if you’ll simply let Him speak.

Our Daily Bread — Forced Leisure

 

Zephaniah 3:14-20

The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. —Zephaniah 3:17

Just before Christmas one year, a friend was diagnosed with leukemia and was told she must begin chemotherapy immediately. Just a few weeks earlier, Kim had told friends how blessed and content she felt with a loving family, a comfortable home, and a new grandson. As she entered the hospital, Kim asked Jesus to make His presence known to her and to stay close.

The next 7 months of treatments followed by recovery in partial isolation became a season she calls “forced leisure.” She says she learned how to slow down, reflect quietly, and rest in God’s goodness, love, and perfect plan—regardless of whether or not she would be healed.

One of God’s promises to His people Israel became personal to Kim: “The Lord your God . . . will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing” (Zeph. 3:17).

Kim is in remission after a journey she says changed her life for the better. Now back in her busy routine, she often pauses to recapture the lessons of “forced leisure.”

How important that we—in good times or times of challenge—draw near to God’s loving heart to hear His voice and place our lives in His hands. —David McCasland

A troubled heart, a wearied mind

Are burdens hard to bear;

A lack of peace, a heavy load

Are lifted by God’s care. —Fitzhugh

 

People are at the heart of God’s heart.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Patience of Salvation

 

More often than I’d care to admit, I find that I am in a hurry. Now, it’s not the typical kind of hurrying—rushing to get into the ten items or less lane at the grocery story, speeding through traffic, or running around juggling four or five tasks at a time. It’s more an inability to be present to my life as it is right now. So often I find that no matter the circumstances, I’m hurrying through them, wondering or worrying what is next.

This pattern of hurrying through life to the “next event” seems fairly typical and engrained from a young age. When I was a child, I couldn’t wait to be a teenager. When I was a teenager, I couldn’t wait to be in college. When I was in college, I couldn’t wait to be a graduate student. When I was a graduate student, I couldn’t wait to be a professional. I look back on those hurried days now and lament that I rushed through them so quickly.

Of course, our efficiency-driven society doesn’t help our propensity towards hurrying through life. We live in an “instant” society, and our increasingly rapid technological developments only add to our impatience when things are not achieved instantaneously. While technology has greatly improved many aspects of our lives, I recognize that my own propensity to hurry, coupled with a society that moves at ever-quickening speeds, can be very detrimental for making myself present to right now. If my focus is consistently on the next event or milestone and if I want to get there with increasing speed, I cannot focus on the space that is now, nor can I be content.

The lives depicted in the Bible couldn’t be more different from our hurried lives. More importantly, and perhaps to our great frustration, the God revealed in the biblical stories is rarely in a hurry. Abraham and Sarah, for example, received the promise of an heir twenty-five years before they actually laid eyes on Isaac. Joseph had a dream as a seventeen year-old that his brothers would one day bow down to him. Yet it was countless years and many difficulties later that his brothers would come and kneel before him, asking for food. Moses was eighty years old—long past his prime of life—when God appeared to him in the burning bush and called him to deliver the children of Israel. David was anointed king by Samuel as a young boy tending his father’s flocks, long before he finally ascended to the throne. And Jesus spent thirty years in relative obscurity, not involved in public ministry, and only three years announcing the kingdom and God’s rule in his life and ministry.

Perhaps both from a Christian perspective and a skeptical one, it is difficult to understand why God wouldn’t be more in a hurry rushing to accomplish divine plans and purposes, not only in these individuals’ lives, but also in the work of redemption. The Messiah was prophesied hundreds of years before he actually arrived on the scene. We cannot help but ask why God seems to move so slowly?

In Peter’s second letter, what is considered his last will and testament, he discusses the slowness of God in relation to the second coming of Christ. Many arose even in Peter’s time asking why God was so slow when it came to delivering on his promise of an eternal kingdom. They began to mock God assuming that “as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be.” Not so, Peter argues, for the slowness of God is in fact our salvation. “The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance… Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation” (2 Peter 3:9, 14-15).

The long, slow, journey through the forty days prior to Easter morning can also seem an arduous time for those of us who find ourselves in a hurry, racing towards the empty tomb and resurrection life. But these forty days can serve to remind us of God’s great forbearance and patience with us, even as they hearken to us to enter the wild spaces of wilderness waiting with Jesus. These days intentionally slow us and create space—what theologians call liminal space—making room for those of us who rush to wait and rest in the “in-between” and the “not yet” for God to act. Waiting for God in this liminal space gives us more opportunity to be patient—learning to regard, as Peter says, the patience of our Lord to be salvation.

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

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning “Let us not sleep, as do others.” / 1 Thessalonians 5:6

There are many ways of promoting Christian wakefulness. Among the rest, let me strongly advise Christians to converse together concerning the ways of the Lord. Christian and Hopeful, as they journeyed towards the Celestial City, said to themselves, “To prevent drowsiness in this place, let us fall into good discourse.” Christian enquired, “Brother, where shall we begin?” And Hopeful answered, “Where God began with us.” Then Christian sang this song–

“When saints do sleepy grow, let them come hither,

And hear how these two pilgrims talk together;

Yea, let them learn of them, in any wise,

Thus to keep open their drowsy slumb’ring eyes.

Saints’ fellowship, if it be managed well,

Keeps them awake, and that in spite of hell.”

Christians who isolate themselves and walk alone, are very liable to grow drowsy. Hold Christian company, and you will be kept wakeful by it, and refreshed and encouraged to make quicker progress in the road to heaven. But as you thus take “sweet counsel” with others in the ways of God, take care that the theme of your converse is the Lord Jesus. Let the eye of faith be constantly looking unto him; let your heart be full of him; let your lips speak of his worth. Friend, live near to the cross, and thou wilt not sleep. Labour to impress thyself with a deep sense of the value of the place to which thou art going. If thou rememberest that thou art going to heaven, thou wilt not sleep on the road. If thou thinkest that hell is behind thee, and the devil pursuing thee, thou wilt not loiter. Would the manslayer sleep with the avenger of blood behind him, and the city of refuge before him? Christian, wilt thou sleep whilst the pearly gates are open–the songs of angels waiting for thee to join them–a crown of gold ready for thy brow? Ah! no; in holy fellowship continue to watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation.

 

Evening “Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.” / Psalm 35:3

What does this sweet prayer teach me? It shall be my evening’s petition; but first let it yield me an instructive meditation. The text informs me first of all that David had his doubts; for why should he pray, “Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation,” if he were not sometimes exercised with doubts and fears? Let me, then, be of good cheer, for I am not the only saint who has to complain of weakness of faith. If David doubted, I need not conclude that I am no Christian because I have doubts. The text reminds me that David was not content while he had doubts and fears, but he repaired at once to the mercy-seat to pray for assurance; for he valued it as much fine gold. I too must labour after an abiding sense of my acceptance in the Beloved, and must have no joy when his love is not shed abroad in my soul. When my Bridegroom is gone from me, my soul must and will fast. I learn also that David knew where to obtain full assurance. He went to his God in prayer, crying, “Say unto my soul I am thy salvation.” I must be much alone with God if I would have a clear sense of Jesus’ love. Let my prayers cease, and my eye of faith will grow dim. Much in prayer, much in heaven; slow in prayer, slow in progress. I notice that David would not be satisfied unless his assurance had a divine source. “Say unto my soul.” Lord, do thou say it! Nothing short of a divine testimony in the soul will ever content the true Christian. Moreover, David could not rest unless his assurance had a vivid personality about it. “Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.” Lord, if thou shouldst say this to all the saints, it were nothing, unless thou shouldst say it to me. Lord, I have sinned; I deserve not thy smile; I scarcely dare to ask it; but oh! say to my soul, even to my soul, “I am thy salvation.” Let me have a present, personal, infallible, indisputable sense that I am thine, and that thou art mine.

John MacArthur – Praying According to God’s Will

 

“The word of the Lord [came] to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem” (Dan. 9:2).

It is characteristic of God’s people to identify with God’s purposes and conform their will to His. Learning to pray according to His will is a major step in that process because it drives you to the Word and demonstrates a humble, submissive heart.

Jesus emphasized the priority of God’s will when He said, “I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:58). He accomplished that goal, saying to the Father, “I glorified Thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which Thou hast given Me to do” (John 17:4). Even when facing the horror of the cross, Jesus didn’t waver. Instead He prayed, “Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done” (Luke 22:42).

Jesus taught His disciples the same priority, instructing them to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:9-10).

Daniel knew what it meant to pray according to God’s will. After reading the prophecy of a seventy-year Babylonian Captivity, he immediately accepted it as God’s will and began to pray for its fulfillment. His prayer wasn’t passive resignation to some act of fate beyond his control. It was active participation in God’s plan as revealed in Scripture. He wasn’t trying to change God’s will but was doing everything he could to see it come to pass. That’s the essence of praying according to God’s will.

When you pray according to God’s will, you can be confident that He hears you and will grant your requests (1 John 5:14-15). Live in that confidence today!

Suggestions for Prayer: Be a diligent student of the Word so you will know God’s will.

Ask God to reveal areas in which your will is not conformed to His. As He does, take immediate steps to deal with them.

For Further Study: Read Revelation 22:6-21, noting God’s will for Christ’s return, and how we’re to respond to it.

Walk This Way by Joyce Meyer

 

And your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, This is the way; walk in it, when you turn to the right hand and when you turn to the left. —Isaiah 30:21

No matter what has happened to you in your lifetime—even if you have been abandoned by your spouse or abused by your parents or hurt by your children or others—if you will stay on the path on which God leads you and be willing to leave your past behind, you will find peace, joy, and fulfillment. As you walk through this process, you can find comfort in God’s promise from today’s scripture to guide you.

Jesus is the Way, and He has shown us the way in which we are to walk. The Lord has sent His Holy Spirit to lead and guide us in the way we are to go, the narrow way that leads to life, not the broad way that leads to destruction (see Matt. 7:14).

God says that as long as the earth remains, there will be “seedtime and harvest” (Gen. 8:22). We might paraphrase it this way: “As long as the earth remains, there will be seed, time and harvest.” When we walk in God’s path, we must be patient like the farmer who plants and expectantly waits for the harvest. He looks forward to the harvest, but he knows that time will elapse between seed planting and reaping. He does not allow that God-ordained process to frustrate him. Don’t let it frustrate you, either.

Today’s scripture promises that God will lead us in the way that we should go. Don’t be afraid, continue doing what is right, and you will live a blessed, joyful life.

Love God Today: Listen for God’s voice, and keep walking on the path that leads to life and blessing.