Tag Archives: human-rights

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Way Things Are

Ravi Z

Through winding, trash-strewn roads and poverty-lined streets we made our way to another world. Clotheslines hung from every imaginable protrusion, a symbol of the teeming life that fought to survive there, and a contrast to the empty, darkened world of night. The only light in otherwise pitch-black alleys came from the glow of cigarettes and drug pipes, which for split seconds illumined faces that lived here. It was late and I was sick, discovering after a long flight that I had not escaped the office stomach flu after all. Our van was full of tourists, their resort brochures a troubling, colorful contrast to the streets that would bring them there. Strangers who only moments before wore the expressions of anticipation of vacation now rode in expressionless silence. One man broke that silence, just as the taxi turned the corner seemingly into an entirely new realm and resort. With pain and poverty now literally behind him, he said quietly, “Well… It is what it is.”

These words rung in my ears all weekend, most of which was spent crumpled on the bathroom floor, unable to participate in the wedding we had come to “paradise” to enjoy. In the end, it seemed a metaphor for thoughts I wanted to remember physically and not in mere abstractions. You see, typically, when the drowsy, comfortable world I have come to expect is jarred awake by visions of the way the majority of the world actually lives, the upset that is caused is largely conceptual, immaterial, abstract. Sure, I am momentarily both deeply saddened and humbled by the wealth of resources and rights many of us take for granted in the West. I am aware again of the need to stay involved and vocal about relief efforts and global injustices that take place daily right under our noses. But for the most part, my angst, my theology, my reactions are all abstract, observed mentally, not physically. That is, they remain deeply-felt issues, but not concrete matters of life.

Of course, I am not suggesting that abstract, philosophical ideas are the problem—clearly my vocation is dedicated to the notion that ideas carry consequences, that reflection on questions of truth, beauty, hope, and love are indeed matters vital to the development of fulfilled and finite human beings. What I am suggesting is that the abstract is both hopeless and of no use without the concrete (inasmuch as the concrete is a desert without the infinite). Many of the most stirring theological pronouncements Jesus made were in fact not statements at all—but a life, a death, a meal shared, a daily, physical reality changed, a new possibility realized.

And this is precisely why those simple words “It is what it is” are a coping mechanism that should sicken us every bit as thoroughly as the scenes that make us want to utter them in the first place. Far from a mere collection of abstractions about another world, the Christian life is an active declaration that all is not as it appears. While other worldviews and religions offer an explanation for why and how this world “is what it is,” Christianity offers something different. With the prophets, with the Incarnate Christ, the God-Man among us, every story and parable and interaction declares: “This is not the way it’s supposed to be!”

Professor of theology William Cavanaugh notes that this vital difference in perspective takes form from the very beginning, starting with the way the book of Genesis tells the origins of the world. Instead of telling a creation story like the Babylonians, for instance, where the circumstances of creation are awry from the start, the Hebrews tell a story where all is inherently good from the beginning, but then something goes terribly wrong. What this tells every hearer of the story thereafter is that things are not the way they are supposed to be. As Cavanaugh notes, “There is a revolutionary principle right there in the Scriptures which allows us to unthink the inevitability of sin, to unthink the inevitability of violence, and so on.”(1) The very first story God tells provides a framework for walking through a world enslaved by poverty and violence, sin and deception—a framework that provides both profound meaning (this is not the way it’s supposed to be!) and a concrete call to live daily into other, redemptive possibilities—possibilities Christ himself embodied.

It is thus an inherently Christian task to actively work at unthinking the inevitability of the way things are and to labor accordingly at changing them. Any reflection of truth and beauty, however abstract, if truly lived out by those who believe them, will ultimately address the concrete matters of life as well. For the Christian, this is a world where nothing merely unfortunately is what it is. Imagining other possibilities, working to unthink the divisions, deceptions, and frameworks that keep us bound to creation’s fall and not its redemption, we join the work of Father and Spirit. We join the Son who takes the abstractions of truth and beauty and declares concretely, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

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

(1) William Cavanaugh with Ken Myers, Mars Hill Audio Journal, Volume 95, Jan/Feb 2009.

 

Charles Spurgeon – A divided heart

CharlesSpurgeon

“Their heart is divided; now shall they be found faulty.” Hosea 10:2

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:4-12

If we would provoke the anger of the Most High and bring down trying providences on the churches, we have nothing to do but to be divided in our hearts and all will be accomplished. If we wish that every vial may empty out its ill, and that every vessel may withhold its oil, we have but to cherish our bickerings till they become animosities; we have but to nurse our animosities till they become hatreds, and all the work will be fully completed. And if this be the case in the church at large, it is peculiarly true in those various sections of it which we now call Apostolic Churches. Oh, my brethren, the smallest church in the world is potent for good when it has but one heart and one soul; when pastor, elders, deacons, and members, are bound together by a threefold cord that cannot be broken. Then are they mighty against every attack. But however great their numbers, however enormous their wealth, however splendid may be the talents with which they are gifted, they are powerless for good the moment they become divided amongst themselves. Union is strength. Blessed is the army of the living God, in that day when it goes forth to battle with one mind, and when its soldiers as with the tramp of one man, in undivided march, go onwards towards the attack. But a curse awaits that church which runs to and fro and which, divided in itself, has lost the main stay of its strength with which it should batter against the enemy. Division cuts our bowstrings, snaps our spears, houghs our horses, and burns our chariots in the fire. We are undone the moment the link of love is snapped. Let this perfect bond be once cut in twain and we fall down, and our strength is departed. By union we live, and by disunion we expire.

For meditation: Believers are not to try to create “unity” with those who preach another gospel, but we are urged to maintain the unity that already exists between true believers (Ephesians 4:3; Philippians 1:27). What would somebody have to report about your church (and your own contribution in it)?

Sermon no. 276

25 September (1859)

Max Lucado – God is at Work in Us

Max Lucado

Howard Rutledge came to appreciate his time as a POW in Vietnam.  He wrote: “After twenty-eight days of torture, I could remember I had children but not how many.  I prayed for strength. During long periods of enforced reflection, it became so much easier to separate the important from the trivial.  My hunger for spiritual food soon outdid my hunger for steak.  It took prison to show me how empty life is without God.”

God is at work in each of us, whether we want it or not. He takes no pleasure in making life hard. Philippians 1:6 says, “He does not relish in our sufferings, but He delights in our development.”  No one said the road would be painless or easy. But God will use this mess for something good. God is doing what is best for us, training us to live His holy best.  Rest in this assurance…you will get through this!

From You’ll Get Through This

Alistair Begg – Consider What Your Actions Say

Alistair Begg

For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, ‘the hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him

Ezra 8:22

A convoy on many accounts would have been desirable for the pilgrim band, but Ezra was ashamed to ask for one. He feared that the heathen king might think his professions of faith in God were mere hypocrisy or might imagine that the God of Israel was not able to preserve His own worshipers. He could not bring his mind to depend on human instruments in a matter so evidently of the Lord, and therefore the caravan set out with no visible protection, and yet guarded by Him who is the sword and shield of His people.

It is to be feared that few believers sense this holy jealousy for God; even those who in some measure walk by faith occasionally spoil the sparkle of their life by seeking help from man. It is a most blessed thing to have no props and no buttresses, but to stand upright on the Rock of Ages, upheld by the Lord alone. Would any believers seek government funds for their church if they remembered that the Lord is dishonored by their asking for Caesar’s help? As if the Lord could not supply the needs of His own cause! Would we run so quickly to friends and relatives for assistance if we remembered that the Lord is glorified by our obvious reliance on His solitary arm? My soul, wait only on God.

“But,” says one, “are means never to be used?” Certainly they are. But our fault seldom lies in their neglect: Far more frequently it springs from foolishly believing in them instead of believing in God. Few run too far in neglecting the arm of man; but many sin greatly in making too much of it.

So learn, dear reader, to glorify the Lord by leaving means untried, if by using them you would dishonor the name of the Lord.

 

 

Joyce Meyer – Enjoy the Power to Love Others

Joyce meyer

So speak and so act as [people should] who are to be judged under the law of liberty [the moral instruction given by Christ, especially about love].—James 2:12

It can be difficult to grasp the idea of the “law of liberty,” because law and liberty seem to be worlds apart: A law says one thing, while liberty says another. I believe the law of liberty spoken of in James 1:25 refers to the freedom of self control, because God puts a new heart in us that wants to obey His law of love.

5r4With this new heart that Jesus gave you, you have the ability to be led of the Spirit, who gives you the power and freedom to love others. Enjoy your day by allowing the Lord to love others through you.

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He’s in the Midst

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“For where two or three gather together because they are Mine, I will be right there among them” (Matthew 18:20).

What better proof is there of the fact that Jesus is God, that He is omnipresent? As you and I gather with our little groups – whether two or three, or 200 – Jesus is there in the midst. And at the same time that wonderful promise applies to similar groups in Africa, Israel, China and anywhere else!

This general assertion is made to support the particular promise made to his apostles in verse 19. Those who meet in His name can be sure He is among them.

An omniscient, omnipotent God – and His Son Jesus Christ – are omnipresent (everywhere present at the same time)! What a glorious truth! Let your imagination soar: among the Masai tribe in Kenya, Africa, or the Quechua Indians in Ecuador – if they are meeting in that name which is above every name, even Jesus Christ our Lord, He is right there meeting with them.

Equally important, you and one or two friends meeting together in His name can have the assurance that He is right there meeting with you as well. And you can feel His presence – especially as you acknowledge the fact that He is there and begin to worship Him for who and what He is.

Joy of joys, God and Jesus Christ who meet with missionaries and national believers on the field and with church leaders in their councils also meet with you and me today.

Bible Reading: Acts 20:32-28

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will look for new opportunities to invoke His presence in my midst by fellowshipping with other believers in His name.

 

Presidential Prayer Team; J.R.- Model Citizens

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“Children observe and learn from how you operate with boundaries in your own world,” say Henry Cloud and John Townsend in their book, Boundaries with Kids. “They watch how you treat them, your spouse, and your work. And they emulate you, for good or for bad.” The prophet Jeremiah was saying much the same thing to the Nation of Israel. The children observed and remembered their parents’ worship of idols such as the Asherim– and the children later emulated the blasphemous practice.

Their children remember their altars and their Asherim, beside every green tree and on the high hills.

Jeremiah 17:2

“We may not be able to prepare the future for our children,” President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “but we can at least prepare our children for the future.” What will the younger generation learn from watching your actions? What are you doing to prepare them for the future?

The most important thing you can do is model for them a life of prayer, Godly devotion and sacrifice. As you pray for America’s leaders today, be sure to also pray for tomorrow’s leaders, asking God to give you opportunities to come beside them also, to demonstrate a living example of faithfulness.

Recommended Reading: Psalm 145:1-9

Max Lucado – Trust His Training

Max Lucado

Each day has a pop quiz!  And some seasons are like final exams. Brutal, sudden pitfalls of stress, sickness, or sadness. What’s the purpose of the test?  James 1:3-4 says, “For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.”

Test, test, test! This chapter in your life may look like rehab, smell like unemployment, sound like a hospital, but you’re in training. God hasn’t forgotten you, just the opposite. He has chosen to train you. Forget the notion that God doesn’t see your struggle. Quite the contrary. God is fully engaged. He is the Potter, we are the clay.  He’s the Shepherd, we’re the sheep.  He’s the Teacher, we’re the students. Trust His training. You’ll get through this!

Our Daily Bread — A Prize For Peace

Our Daily Bread

Ephesians 2:11-18

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. —John 16:33

Alfred Nobel made a fortune from the invention of dynamite, which changed the course of warfare. Perhaps because of the horrors that wars inflicted with the use of dynamite, he made a provision in his will for a prize to be given annually to those who work to promote peace. Today it’s called the Nobel Peace Prize.

God’s expression of peace to the world was His Son. When Jesus was born, the angels’ clear, unmistakable message to the shepherds was “on earth peace, goodwill toward men” (Luke 2:14).

The biblical definition of peace is, first of all, peace with God (Rom. 5:1). Sin makes us enemies with God (v.10), but Jesus’ coming to this earth and dying on the cross turned away God’s wrath. We can now be reconciled with Him. Having put right our relationship with God, Jesus now enables us to work at breaking down the barriers between us and others.

Another kind of peace is having the peace of God (Phil. 4:7). There is no need to be anxious about anything, for we are told that we can make our requests known to Him.

Having brought peace, Jesus is now seated at the right hand of the Father (Heb. 12:2). Today, we can have peace with God and the peace of God. —C. P. Hia

Hark! The herald angels sing,

“Glory to the newborn King;

Peace on earth, and mercy mild—;

God and sinners reconciled!” —Wesley

True peace is not the absence of war; it is the presence of God. —Loveless

Bible in a year: Ecclesiastes 7-9; 2 Corinthians 13

 

 

Charles Stanley – Protecting Against Satanic Attack

Charles Stanley

Matthew 4:1-11

As soldiers in God’s army, we are engaged in spiritual warfare. To hold our ground, we must be arrayed in battle gear every day.

Be sure your feet are shod with the gospel of peace. Roman military boots had metal cleats to help soldiers stand firm in battle. Similarly, our spiritual “shoes” provide the solid footing of assurance—the certainty that we have peace with God and are safe in Him (John 10:28).

Carry the shield of faith. The most powerful asset we have as believers is our faith. It helps us to resist the Enemy’s temptations by thinking, I know I have this need, but I trust in God. So I’ll wait for the Lord to provide for it in His way and in His time. We are well protected behind the shield of faith.

Wear the helmet of salvation. The mind is Satan’s battlefield; it needs to be conscientiously and effectively guarded. In a spiritual battle, our assurance that we are saved will help repel the Enemy’s lies, which might cause us to question God or to think contrary to Scripture. With such certainty, our minds are able to remain steady.

Carry the sword of the Spirit. God’s Word is both an offensive and defensive weapon. It makes inroads for the gospel (Heb. 4:12) and also protects us. As Jesus proved in His desert temptation, the Devil cannot stand against it.

The spiritual battle raging around us is real and fierce (Eph. 6:12). We are not in the reserves, simply waiting to be called up. We are in the war. Soldier of God, are you fully dressed for battle?

 

 

Max Lucado – Behind Bars

Max Lucado

In 1965 Howard Rutledge parachuted into North Vietnam and spent the next several years in a prison in Hanoi, locked in a filthy cell breathing stale, rotten air trying to keep his sanity. Few of us will ever face the conditions of a POW camp.

Yet, to one degree or another, we all spend time behind bars. After half-a-century of marriage, my friend’s wife began to lose her memory.  A young mother called, just diagnosed with Lupus. Why would God permit such imprisonment?  To what purpose?  Jeremiah 30:24 promises, “The Lord will not turn back until He has executed and accomplished the intents of His mind.”

This season in which you find yourself may puzzle you, but it doesn’t bewilder God.  He will use it for His purpose. Please be reminded…You will get through this!

From You’ll Get Through This

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Freedom to Love

Ravi Z

An article in Christianity Today magazine caught my attention. Author Philip Yancey had recently completed a speaking and listening tour throughout several countries in the Middle East.(1) Part of his listening included hearing how the “Christian” West is viewed by those living in predominantly Islamic countries. Time and again, he heard a familiar refrain from this part of the world: freedom in the West was equated with decadence. Yancey writes, “Much of the misgiving…for the West stems from our strong emphasis on freedom…where freedom so often leads to decadence.”(2)

Of course, Yancey would quickly acknowledge that the freedom we enjoy in the West is often taken for granted. In general, we are free to do and to be whatever we want. We move unhindered towards the achievement of our own personal freedoms and objectives, without worrying about impediment or coercive control from outside forces. Certainly, we enjoy the privilege of the freedom to move about our country across state borders effortlessly. We have freedoms protected in the Bill of Rights—speech, privacy, worship, and assembly to name a few. Many of us who have financial abundance are able to access freedoms that only money can buy. We are free to think as we want, speak what we want, and do what we want. In comparison with people in other countries, we have freedom with seemingly endless possibilities. Freedom is like the air we breathe.

But what are we to make of this critique from those looking in from the outside? If we were able to see ourselves from their eyes, might we see the way in which freedom is exercised differently? Our association of freedom with doing, being, or saying whatever we want is often cut off from any sense of connection with a larger community. We isolate freedom to the realm of personal freedom, with little constraint or thoughtfulness to corporate consequences or responsibility. We do not often associate our gift of freedom with the opportunity to serve others, but rather understand it as a freedom from constraint.

From the earliest writings of the apostle Paul to the young Christian communities, this question of how to understand freedom emerged. His letters to the Christians at Corinth and Galatia reveal this crucial discussion of personal freedom. He exhorted these early Christians that “all things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his or her own good, but that of his or her neighbor….” (1 Corinthians 10:23, 24). In his letter to the Galatians who were tempted to trade freedom for the grip of the law, Paul reminds, “[Y]ou were called to freedom; only do not turn your freedom into and opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Galatians 5:13-14).

Paul’s understanding of freedom for love and service seems to fly in the face of understanding freedom as doing whatever one wants to do. And while democratic systems rightly deplore the restriction or oppression of human freedom as evidenced in totalitarian regimes and systems, unrestricted freedom—unchecked, unthinking, and often self-centered expressions of freedom—should likewise be deplored. Those who claim to follow Jesus are called to freedom whether or not they live under democratic governments. But the apostle Paul’s wisdom is useful to remind all people that freedom need not simply be an expression of self-interest. Rather, it is a freedom grounded in love for the sake of another.

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

(1) Philip Yancey, “A Living Stream in the Desert” Christianity Today, November 2010, 30-34.

(2) Ibid., 32.

 

John MacArthur – Selecting the Proper Shoes

John MacArthur

“Stand firm . . . having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:14- 15).

I’ll never forget a game that took place at the Rose Bowl during my college football days. Being winter time and late in the football season, the field was in bad shape from several days of rain and an entire season of wear and tear. However, the grounds crew painted the field green, so it looked much better than it actually was. I had two pairs of football shoes: one with long spikes for bad turf and one with short spikes for good turf. Thinking the field looked pretty good, I opted to wear the short spikes.

On the opening kick-off I caught the ball on the four- yard line, took two steps, and immediately landed on my backside. That’s not unusual after a tackle, but in this case there wasn’t an opponent in sight! I slipped in the mud–my shoes betrayed me.

Since proper shoes are important in athletics, how much more so are they when fighting for your life. Roman soldiers took great care in selecting just the right shoe. Typically they wore a thick-soled semi-boot with straps securing it to the leg. On the bottom of the soles were hobnails that protruded like the cleats of a track or baseball shoe. The thick soles protected the feet from injury; the hobnails provided traction when maneuvering on the soil.

The Christian’s spiritual footwear is the “gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:15). Romans 5:1 says, “Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” God has reconciled you to Himself through the death of His Son (v. 10). Once you were His enemy; now you are His child. Once He opposed you; now He is on your side.

No matter how difficult your circumstances may be or how many opponents come against you, realize that the invincible God of the universe is on your side. He makes war against His enemies (Rev. 2:16), and against Him no one can stand. So stand firm in that confidence. Focus on your Great Ally rather than your feeble enemies.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank God for His peace, presence, and protection in your life.

For Further Study:

Read Judges 7. How did Gideon demonstrate his confidence that God was on his side?

 

 

Presidential Prayer Team; J.K. – Devoted to God

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The Olympic Games reward the top three winners by positioning them on a platform of honor. But a fourth podium would have to be erected to give praise to King David’s warrior Abishai. His place came beside David’s “mighty three,” but was one earned because of his courage and loyalty to the king.

Now Abishai…wielded his spear against 300 men and killed them and won a name beside the three.

I Chronicles 11:20

David’s men differed from those who followed his predecessor Saul. Saul’s armies couldn’t be trusted and had to be bribed to do his bidding. Devoted men risked their lives for David because of his honest character and stature in leadership. They understood that the Lord’s hand was upon him and wanted to be a part of what God was doing.

David’s bravery, as well as his humanity, made him worthy of mention in the Bible over 1,000 times. His sinfulness is not hidden, but neither are his confessions and turning back to God.

And so it should be today. Be devoted to God…an example to those around you. Give testimony of the Lord’s goodness – His mercy and grace – in your life. Pray that those in leadership would turn from their sinful ways and look to God for guidance.

Recommended Reading: Isaiah 45:18-22

 

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Of Kings and Kingdoms

Ravi Z

It is interesting to note that narrative is the single most common type of literature found in the Bible. Perhaps as significant as the biblical stories themselves is the reality that we find God who chooses to communicate so much through story. There is much to see and hear if we will sit attentively before the Storyteller.

In the narratives of Daniel, we are introduced to a king in control and a kingdom in order. It is not insignificant that Daniel is introduced within this pleasingly ordered picture. As one of the three presidents serving just below the king, Daniel is a key player in the contented kingdom, and of this, the king is well aware. The narrative imparts, “Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other presidents and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom” (6:3). Interestingly, the word for “distinguished” here hints of a bright and excelling person with an enduring character, while the word for “excellent” denotes a surpassing and extreme spirit. In light of all that Daniel endures, from exile to injustice to the den of lions, no doubt these words were very clearly and deliberately chosen.

Interestingly, King Darius was not the only king to note in Daniel these distinguishable qualities. Through each chapter of the book of Daniel we see his successful climbing of the political ladder from captive prisoner to sage to chief sage to administrator over the province to the king’s personal adviser to third ruler in the kingdom.(1)

Daniel’s great success may well incite our power-revering, name-making minds to curiosity. What is it that really distinguishes a person among others? And what was it that set Daniel apart in such a way that kings of a kingdom in which he was a mere foreigner desired him close by as they ruled?

No doubt, we find in Daniel a man hopeful in the face of exile, a person of integrity in the midst of conniving injustice, a figure of prayer though Jerusalem lies in ruins, and a creature of endurance—from serving within the royal courts to crouching within the lions’ den. Truly, there is much that readers could presume from his quiet spirit, intense faith, and radical obedience. Daniel was distinguished in character, excellent in spirit, set apart in life and practice.

But the story offers a less speculative insight into the excellent spirit of Daniel. Significantly, everything King Darius says to Daniel throughout the entire narrative is in direct reference to Daniel’s God. The story powerfully points to God as the reason for Daniel’s distinguishable spirit in the eyes of a powerful king. And as Daniel speaks from the darkness of the pit after a night among lions, all agree, having now seen a more powerful crown. Daniel is distinguished because Daniel’s God, the Most High King, is distinguished. In fact the very first words Daniel speaks in the story are a proclamation of what God has done, “My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions.” The living God has accomplished what all others could not.

Though to many the divine throne appeared to be empty, Daniel stirred hopeful confidence in the redemptive plan of a powerful king who lovingly calls us into a bigger story.

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

(1) See D.N. Fewell, Circle of Sovereignty (Sheffield Academic Press, 1988).

 

 

Presidential Prayer Team; C.H. – Stronger Together

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“You’ve gotta know someone.” Whether you’re trying to break into the music industry, get a contract for your book, or just want a new job, you may hear this phrase. When friends are willing to vouch for you, doors are more likely to open.

I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are, and I will speak to my father about you. I Samuel 19:3

True friends don’t expect benefits from a relationship, but are certainly willing to help when they can. David and Jonathan had that type of friendship. King Saul was wildly jealous of David and ordered his attendants and even his own son to kill David. But Jonathan willingly stood up for David to Saul, telling his father, “His deeds have brought good to you.” (I Samuel 19:4) As a result, the envious king backed down and allowed David back in his presence.

This nation is in desperate need of people who will stand alongside national leaders who choose to follow Jesus. They are stronger with your help. Pray for the courage to stand beside Christian leaders in political offices. As you speak out to bring them encouragement, reach out to lift each other up as well.

Recommended Reading: Ecclesiastes 4:7-12

Greg Laurie – Revive Us Again!

greglaurie

O Lord, I have heard Your speech and was afraid; O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy. —Habakkuk 3:2

From 1857 to 1859 a revival swept New York City that became part of what is called the Third Great Awakening. Jeremiah Lanphier, a forty-eight-year-old businessman, began a prayer meeting on Fulton Street. Not many people attended the prayer meeting at first. But then the stock market crashed. Soon hundreds of New Yorkers were gathering for prayer. Within months, six thousand people were gathering at noon for prayer throughout New York City. It is reported that fifty thousand New Yorkers came to faith and an estimated one million people came to the Lord during this time.

Sometimes we want to pray for a robust, strong economy in our nation. I am not suggesting we pray for a bad economy, but here is what we should pray: “Lord, send a revival to America, no matter what it takes.” Sometimes when there is an economic downturn or a military threat or other events we are concerned about, we will turn to God.

Remember how so many Americans showed up in churches in the aftermath of 9/11? It almost seemed like an awakening of sorts. Remember the members of Congress standing outside on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and spontaneously singing “God Bless America”?

Our country needs a spiritual awakening. The prophet Habakkuk understood the need for a revival in his day when he prayed, “O Lord, I have heard Your speech and was afraid; O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2).

That needs to be our prayer, too, as believers living in the twenty-first century: O Lord, revive Your work. I thank God for what He has done in the past, but here is my prayer: Do it again, Lord. We need another revival.

 

Charles Stanley – Why We Lose Our Peace

Charles Stanley

Romans 12:3-10

One of the greatest enemies to peace is the entitlement mentality that’s widespread in our land today. Too few people are satisfied with their portion in life. Underlying this discontent is the false assumption that society owes them something or that their rights are being overlooked. This type of self-centered thinking can creep into businesses, marriages, churches, and other institutions, generating all kinds of discord and causing far-reaching consequences.

This is the type of situation that was developing in the 13th chapter of Genesis, when Abram and his nephew Lot were attempting to dwell in an area that was too small for the abundant holdings of both men. The pressure became so great that there was enormous strife between Abram’s herdsmen and those working for Lot. Something had to be done.

Abram in his wisdom eased the tension by offering Lot his choice of pasturelands (Gen. 13:9). Instead of fighting for his so-called rights, Abram chose the way of peace. He did what the apostle Paul advised centuries later when he wrote, “Give preference to one another in honor” (Rom. 12:10).

Did Abram lose out by being generous to Lot? Not at all. Take note of God’s words to the patriarch after he had willingly relinquished the prime territory to his nephew and departed (Gen. 13:14-15)—the Lord saw fit to promise all that land and beyond to Abram and his descendants. Our God blesses peacemakers (Matt. 5:9).

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Good Book

Ravi Z

In publishing his godless Bible for those with no faith, A. C. Grayling may have expected a mixed reception. The ‘religious Bible’ (as he calls the Christian original) often sparks controversy, so one might have assumed that his would prompt a powerful reaction.(1)

But although eyebrows were certainly raised, support given, and criticism leveled, I couldn’t help feeling that there was something a little flat about it all. Perhaps it was because we were in the midst of celebrating the 400-year anniversary of the King James translation of the Bible with its majestic impact on the English language, that one struggled to muster any strong reaction to this book. One of the repeated observations made about Grayling’s moral guide for atheists is that it just doesn’t seem to be as good or interesting as the original.

Jeannette Winterson, author of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, had this to say:

I do not believe in a sky god but the religious impulse in us is more than primitive superstition. We are meaning-seeking creatures and materialism plus good works and good behaviour does not seem to be enough to provide meaning. We shall have to go on asking questions but I would rather that philosophers like Grayling asked them without the formula of answers. As for the Bible, it remains a remarkable book and I am going to go on reading it.

Perhaps it has something to do with what seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding on Grayling’s part: the Bible is not merely a book containing moral guidance, as he seems to think it is. While Christians would say that it does contain the moral law of God and shows us how to live our lives, the actual text of the Bible is much more besides.

It is the history of a people and a grand narrative of redemption for all people. At its heart, it is the story of a relationship, and not a collection of platitudes. As the New Testament opens with God coming in human form, we encounter Jesus walking the earth, not simply to restate a moral code, but to offer us peace with God through himself. It’s about a personal God to encounter, not a set of propositions to understand or laws to follow. This is drama with a capital D.

The Bible also contains narrative history, at its most fascinating with well-preserved accounts recording personal perspectives on historical events. Whether it be a prophet like Jeremiah, writing in the 7th century BC, or the gospel writer Mark in the 1st century AD, this is compelling writing whatever our religious convictions. Who could not notice the honesty and detail of Mark’s turn of phrase when he recounts that “Jesus was in the stern sleeping on a cushion, the disciples woke him and said to him ‘Teacher don’t you care if we drown?’” (Mark 4:38). As history alone the Bible is compelling.

In as much as Grayling’s ‘Good Book’ cobbles together some of the finest moral teaching from our history, it will surely be useful to some. But from an atheist perspective is this really a legitimate task? Without God what is morality other than personal perspective or social contract? Do we need Grayling’s personal perspective any more than our own? And is he really in a position to tell us what a socially agreed set of morals should be? Great atheists of the past, like Bertrand Russell, rejected religious moral values arguing against overarching morality—do they really want Grayling to reconstruct one? “I don’t think there is a line in the whole thing that hasn’t been modified or touched by me,” he says. While his own confidence in his wisdom is clearly abundant, will others feel the same way? Readers might also note that from the 21st century, his is the only voice to make the cut and be included in the work.

In calling his worthy tome The Good Book, Grayling, perhaps unwittingly, references the story about a rich young ruler found in the Gospel of Mark. The man approaches Jesus and addresses him as “Good teacher.” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.” Jesus preempts centuries of philosophical debate about the nature of morality and locates goodness as an absolute in the being of God. We are challenged to question: “Without God, what is goodness?” As the debate over his book continues it will be intriguing to find out how Grayling knows his godless Bible to be a benchmark of “goodness.”

In the meantime, no doubt the Bible will continue to top best-seller lists, and engage audiences spanning all ages, backgrounds, and cultures. I for one will keep reading it.

Amy Orr-Ewing is UK director of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Oxford, England.

(1) Originally printed in Pulse Magazine, Issue 8, Summer 2011, 10-11.

Presidential Prayer Team; C.P. – Unexpected Answer

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In the passages surrounding today’s verse, Eli was going about his business, most likely oblivious to the change about to take place in his life.

Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord.  I Samuel 1:9

He watched a woman move her mouth with no audible speech. He said, “How long will you go on being drunk?” (v.14) She told him she was not drunk, but deeply distressed and pouring her heart out to the Lord. He said, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” (v. 17)

Eli probably didn’t give the woman’s prayer a second thought – but years later, she showed up with a toddler to lend to the Lord. The Bible doesn’t say how Eli felt about this unexpected gift, only that he trained the child. Unlike with his two “worthless” sons, Eli must have done a good job raising this child: Samuel became a great prophet of God.

As this nation remembers September 11, 2001 and as you pray for yourself and your country, it may seem like little good is happening. God’s answer may not be a toddler on your doorstep, but be assured the Lord is creating change in your life and in the nation through your prayers.

Recommended Reading: Ephesians 3:14-21

*****

Open Letter – A Call to Prayer on 9-11.

       Dear Prayer Team:

Today, the United States has marked the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington DC. The nation has also paused to remember the one year anniversary of the September 11, 2012 attack against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya.

THE NEED…

       Leading up to these somber milestones, the eyes of the nation and indeed the world have been focused on Washington, DC as the U.S. Congress considered whether to authorize the use of American force to strike Syria over that government’s alleged use of chemical weapons against its citizens.

While the world awaits the U.S. decision on Syria, believers in Christ should keep in mind what is written in Proverbs 21:1: “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” And, God often turns the heart of the king in response to prayer.

WHAT IS NEEDED?

This truth was recently echoed by Leith Anderson, President of the National Association of  Evangelicals, which represents 40 Christian denominations and more than 45,000 local churches in the U.S. Anderson said that while the political issues regarding Syria are complicated, one thing is crystal clear: now is the time for Christians to pray.

“The Bible teaches us to pray for our leaders,” Anderson said. “This is a week for extra prayers as our Congress and President Obama decide what to do about Syria. And, let’s add Syrian leaders to our prayer list. Our request is that God will give wisdom to make choices for a lasting peace in the region.”

Anderson’s call to prayer is pertinent and timely. The Apostle Paul also admonishes believers to “pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17) and Jesus reminded his followers – in regards to temptation – to “watch and pray.” That latter admonition also holds true as you see current events unfolding and the world’s desperate need for Christ.

WHAT YOU CAN DO…PRAY NOW

As you remember the events of 9-11 and Benghazi and pray about the unfolding drama in Syria, focus your hope on heaven. “You will hear of wars and rumors of war,” Jesus said, “See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet” (Matthew 24:5-7). And remember, above all, God is in control of this seemingly out-of-control world.

PRAY FOR:

1) Comfort for those who were personally affected by the 9/11 terror events and the Benghazi attack

2) For a spirit of revival to sweep across America

3) For wisdom for America’s leaders in dealing with the Syria crisis and other world trouble spots

An excerpt of the “Inside Washington” article by Dave Ficere
featured in this upcoming Thursday’s Weekly Update.

       Your Prayer Team

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      “The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.“–James 5:16