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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Sledgehammers and Other Good News

Ravi Z

I found myself sighing with something like relief one day after reading a comment made by C.S. Lewis. He was responding to a statement made by a scholar who noted that he didn’t “care for” the Sermon on the Mount but “preferred” the Pauline ethics. Lewis was of course bothered at the suggestion of Scripture alternatives between which we may freely pick and choose, and it was this that he addressed first. But his response also included a striking remark about the Sermon on the Mount itself, and this is what caught my attention. Said Lewis, “As to ‘caring for’ the Sermon on the Mount, if ‘caring for’ here means liking or enjoying, I suppose no one cares for it. Who can like being knocked flat on his face by a sledgehammer? I can hardly imagine a more deadly spiritual condition than that of the man who can read that passage with tranquil pleasure. This is indeed to be ‘at ease in Zion.’”(1)

To be “at ease in Zion” was the deplorable state of existence the prophet Amos spoke of in his harsh words to the Israelites.(2) Reeling in false security and erroneous confidence from their economic affluence and self-indulgent lifestyles, the Israelites, Amos warned, would be the first God would send into exile if they failed to heed his words.

The Sermon on the Mount was likely as alarming to those who first heard it as the thought of exile for those whose homeland is far more than an identity. Lewis’s comparison of Christ’s words to a sledgehammer is not far off. Those potent chapters are not unlike the electric paddles used to shock the heart back to life, back to the rhythm it was intended to have all along.

The Sermon on the Mount is like the keynote address for the kingdom Christ came to introduce and to gather us together like a hen gathers her chicks. On that mountainside, Jesus points out many of the mountains that blur vision of this kingdom. He repeatedly notes that we are not quite seeing as he sees, not grasping reality as it really is. “You have heard that it was so…” he says again and again, “but I tell you…” His words are hard and thorough, and even the simplest of phrases is permeated with the profound glory of a kingdom we far too easily settle for only seeing in part:

Blessed are the poor in spirit…

Blessed are those who mourn…

Blessed are the meek…

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…

Blessed are the merciful…

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.(3)

Perhaps I have become at ease in Zion if I can read these words without wondering if I am among the blessed, if I am one seeing God or missing it. When I lose sight of the kingdom behind the haze of selfish ambition, guilt, or fear, Christ’s words become like a foghorn calling me to set my eyes on the one I follow and live up to the hope I embody: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?” When I find myself making demands of God, I am shown again just how much God demands of me. “You’ve heard it said, ‘You shall not murder. But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister’ is guilty of the same.

For the crowds that gathered that day on the hillside, Jesus’s words were likely quite troubling. If God’s commandments were difficult to follow before this sermon, they were now entirely terrifying. Who can stand in this kingdom Jesus describes? And how is this good news? How could we ever be gathered into this communion? And yet, in all of his wisdom, in his unfathomable love, in the middle of his sermon Jesus proclaims gently but confidently: Do not worry. It is as if he says to those rightly awake and trembling with the fear of certain failure, “I am not only the fulfillment of all the law and the prophets, but the embodiment of these good things and the one who makes all things possible for you.” This, he also says repeatedly. In his humanity, Jesus vicariously approaches our own, lifting us to possibilities we can only imagine.

The Sermon on the Mount is a concentrated example of how Jesus came to fulfill in us dynamically everything the law meant to show us. Like a sledgehammer to a frozen heart, his life cries out to all who are at ease in Zion, whether cold from self-indulgence or unaware of God’s life-giving pursuit of our affection. In this, Christ’s role is uncompromisable. He is both the human Son of God who is embodiment of all we are meant to be in the fellowship of the Father and our mediator who bestows us the very possibility.

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

(1) C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970), 181.

(2) Amos 6:1.

(3) Matthew 5:3-9.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Gives Richly

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“Tell those who are rich not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone, but their pride and trust should be in the living God who always richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17).

Arthur S. DeMoss was a gifted and godly businessman. He had built one of the most successful businesses of its kind in America and in the process had amassed a huge fortune of an estimated half a billion dollars. Then suddenly an economic recession began and stock in his company plummeted. He lost $360 million in a period of only four months – an average of $3 million a day – more than anybody had ever lost in such a short time. One would have thought he would have been devastated. Instead, in order to avoid decreasing his Christian giving, he (personally) borrowed funds, at an incredibly high rate of interest, to enable him to increase his giving. As we talked together during that period, he was rejoicing in the Lord.

“The Lord gave me everything I have,” he said. “It all belongs to Him and if He wants to take it away that’s His business. I don’t lose any sleep. I still have a wonderful family and my life-style remains unchanged. I am prepared to do anything that God wants me to do. If He takes away everything I own and wants me to go to the mission field, I’m ready to do it. All He needs to do is tell me.”

Art had his trust completely in the Lord and not in his vast fortune. God honored his faith and obedience and ultimately restored all that he had lost and much more. Art has gone to be with the Lord, but his fortune is still being used for the glory of God.

Paul’s answer to the believers of his day is just as appropriate to the believers of our time. No person should be unduly impressed with his wealth and look down with pride and arrogance on those whom he considers to be inferior. Riches are uncertain because they can be taken away from us. In the personal emergencies of life one cannot depend upon material possessions for strength and comfort. In times of tragedy – the loss of a loved one, a financial reversal, or some other disappointment – material possessions do not insure peace. Our trust must be in the living God who is able to supply all of our needs and do for us what riches cannot do.

Bible Reading: 1 Timothy 6:6-16

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:> I will not take the blessing of God for granted and will not place my trust in any earthy possession. My confidence will be in Him who is the source of the supernatural life.

 

Presidential Prayer Team; H.L.M. – Open Windows

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Daniel was a Jewish prophet who was taken to Babylon and trained for the king’s service. He was known for his courage, integrity, humility and spiritual vision. Most of all, Daniel was known for his unceasing prayerfulness. Although he knew there was a law prohibiting prayer to anyone except the king, Daniel chose to serve the King of Kings! In fact, Daniel always prayed with his windows opened toward Jerusalem.

He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God.

Daniel 6:10

Of course, he prayed not out of rebellion toward the king…but out of his love for God. Even Daniel’s enemies knew he would obey God rather than bow to the king’s edict.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” You obviously cannot spend all your time praying. Yet it is possible to have a continuous, prayerful attitude. So always keep your spiritual windows open towards Heaven. Practice frequent and regular communication with your Creator. Remember also to thank Him for the privilege of praying for your nation’s leaders out of godly love for them.

Recommended Reading: Psalm 92:1-9  Click to Read or Listen

 

 

Alistair Begg – Heart of a Believer

Alistair Begg

A spring locked, a fountain sealed.

Song of Songs 4:12

In this metaphor, which has reference to the inner life of a believer, we have very plainly the idea of secrecy. It is “a spring locked.” Just as there were springs in the East over which an edifice was built, so that no one could reach them except those who knew the secret entrance, so is the heart of a believer when it is renewed by grace: There is a mysterious life within that no human skill can touch.

It is a secret that no one else knows, which the individual who is the possessor of it cannot tell his neighbor. The text includes not only secrecy but separation. It is not the common spring, of which every passer-by may drink; it is one kept and preserved from all others; it is a fountain bearing a particular mark-a king’s royal seal, so that all can perceive that it is not a common fountain, but a fountain owned by a proprietor and placed specially by itself alone.

So is it with the spiritual life. The chosen of God were separated in the eternal decree; they were separated by God in the day of redemption; and they are separated by the possession of a life that others do not have.

And it is impossible for them to feel at home with the world or to delight in its pleasures. There is also the idea of sacredness.

The locked spring is preserved for the use of some special person: And such is the Christian’s heart. It is a spring kept for Jesus.

Every Christian should feel that he has God’s seal upon him-and he should be able to say with Paul, “From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.”1

Another idea is prominent-it is that of security. How sure and safe is the inner life of the believer! If all the powers of earth and hell could combine against it, that immortal principle must still exist, for He who gave it pledged His life for its preservation. And who or what can harm you when God is your protector?

1Galations 6:17

Alistair Begg – A Desire for God’s Glory

Alistair Begg

To him be glory forever. Amen.

Romans 11:36

To him be glory forever.” This should be the single desire of the Christian. All other wishes must be subservient and serve as tributaries to this.

The Christian may wish for prosperity in his business, but only inasmuch as it may help him to promote this-“To him be glory forever.”

He may desire to attain more gifts and more graces, but it should only be that he may declare, “To him be glory forever.”

You are not acting as you ought to do when you are moved by any other motive than a single focus on the Lord’s glory. As a Christian, you are “from him and through him,” and so you must live “to him.” Do not let anything set your heart beating so fast as love for Him. Let this ambition fire your soul; may this be the foundation of every enterprise upon which you enter, and your sustaining motive whenever your zeal would grow cold.Make God your only object. Depend upon it-where self begins, sorrow begins; but if God is my supreme delight and only object,

To me ’tis equal whether love ordain

My life or death-appoint me ease or pain.

Let your desire for God’s glory be a growing desire. You blessed Him in your youth; do not be content with such praises as you gave Him then.

Has God prospered you in business? Give Him more as He has given you more.

Has God given you experience? Praise Him by stronger faith than you exercised at the beginning. Does your knowledge grow? Then sing more sweetly.

Do you enjoy happier times than you once had? Have you been restored from sickness, and has your sorrow been turned into peace and joy? Then give Him more music; put more coals and more sweet spices into the censer of your praise.

Practically in your life give Him honor, offering the “Amen” of this doxology to your great and gracious Lord by your own individual service and increasing holiness.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Gives the Victory

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“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57, KJV).

In our busy lives, yours and mine, there are days when victory seems an impossibility. Heartaches, trials, burdens, or just the ordinary cares of the day, all seem foreign to the idea of being victorious.

And yet the fact remains that we are “more than conquerors” even when we do not feel like it. God graciously allows His children to be human and to express our doubts and fears when suffering and pain and testing and trial seem to overwhelm us.

“I have to be very honest,” confessed Joyce Landorf, well-known Christian author and speaker, during a long period of illness. “One of the things I have learned from severe pain is that I have felt totally abandoned by God. I didn’t think he’d let that happen to me, but He has.

“And maybe the feeling of abandonment when pain is at its writhing best..maybe that’s what makes it so sweet after the pain goes and the Lord says, ‘I was here all the time. I haven’t left you. I will never forsake you.’ Now those words get sweeter to me because I know what it has felt like to not feel His presence.”

We do not have all the answers, but we know one who does. And that is where our victory begins – acknowledging (1) that God is a God of love, one who never makes a mistake, and (2) he will never leave us or forsake us.

Bible Reading: Romans 7:18-25

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will consider myself a victor, whatever may transpire, because I serve the victorious one

 

Our Daily Bread — Our Fearless Champion

Our Daily Bread

Matthew 8:23-34

Why are you fearful? —Matthew 8:26

Falling asleep was a challenging event during my childhood. No sooner had my parents turned out the lights than the crumpled clothes I had thrown on the chair would take on the form of a fiery dragon and the thoughts of something living under my bed put me into a panic that made sleep impossible.

I’ve come to realize that the immobilizing power of fear is not just a childhood experience. Fear keeps us from forgiving, taking a stand at the office, giving our resources to God’s kingdom, or saying no when all our friends are saying yes. Left to ourselves, we are up against a lot of fiery dragons in our lives.

In the story of the disciples in the storm-tossed boat, I’m struck by the fact that the only one who was not afraid was Jesus. He was not afraid of the storm, nor was He afraid of a crazy man in a graveyard or of the legion of demons that possessed him (Matt. 8:23-34).

In the face of fear, we need to hear Jesus ask, “Why are you fearful?” (v.26) and be reminded that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5-6). There is nothing that He can’t overcome and therefore nothing for Him to fear. So, next time you’re haunted by your fears, remember that you can rely on Jesus, our fearless Champion! —Joe Stowell

Lord, thank You for the reminder that You will

never leave us nor forsake us. When I am afraid, I

know that I can rely on Your presence and power

to calm my heart and overcome my fears.

In times of fear, call out to Jesus, our fearless Champion.

Bible in a year: Ezekiel 1-2; Hebrews 11:1-19

Joyce Meyer – More Than Enough

Joyce meyer

Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams].

—Ephesians 3:20

When the things we are facing in our lives loom so big in our eyes that our mind goes “tilt,” we need to think in the spirit. In the natural, many things are impossible. But in the supernatural, spiritual realm, with God nothing is impossible. God wants us to believe for great things, make big plans, and expect Him to do things so great it leaves us with our mouths hanging open in awe. James 4:2 tells us we have not because we ask not! We can be bold in our asking.

Sometimes in my meetings people will approach the altar for prayer and sheepishly ask if they can request two things. I tell them they can ask God for all they want to, as long as they trust Him to do it His way, in His timing.

When you pray, do it standing up on the inside. What I mean is, do it respectfully, yet aggressively and boldly. Recall that God said He is the Almighty God (Genesis 17:1); in other words, “more than enough.”

Lord, open my spiritual eyes to see what it means to pray to the Almighty God who is “more than enough.” I come humbly and boldly with expectancy of great things. Amen.

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Wonderful Friendship

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“God will surely do this for you, for He always does just what He says, and He is the one who invited you into this wonderful friendship with His Son, even Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9).

You and I do not always prove faithful, but the apostle Paul wants us to know, by way of his letter to the believers in Corinth, that our God will surely do what He has promised; in this case, make us “blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (verse 8).

The apostle wants the Corinthians to know that they can depend upon the faithfulness of God, who had begun a good work among them, and certainly would see them through to the end. He did the inviting; He would do the keeping.

Christians are able to participate with Christ in several ways. First in His trials and sufferings, for we are subjected to temptations and trials similar to His: “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings” (1 Peter 4:13, KJV).

Second, in His feelings and views (Romans 8:9).

Third, in His heirship to the inheritance and glory which awaits Him: “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17, KJV).

Fourth, in His triumph in the resurrection and future glory: “Ye which have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:28, KJV).

Are you not glad for that kind of friendship?

Bible Reading: 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: When I look for a faithful friend, my first thought will be of Christ Himself, who truly qualifies as my very best friend

Greg Laurie – Standing By

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What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? —Romans 8:31

We tend to think that when we are in the will of God, the doors should fly open, birds should be singing, the sun should be shining, and everyone should be applauding. But it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes when we are in the will of God, so-called bad things happen. They seem bad, but in reality they might actually be good things.

I think sometimes that what we define as good may in fact be bad. And some of the things we think of as bad in turn will ultimately turn out to be good.

Acts 23:11 tells us that while Paul was in prison in Jerusalem, “The following night the Lord stood by him and said, ‘Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.’ ”

Here is what God was saying: “Paul, look. I told you what was going to happen, and you went for it. And I want you to know that you are doing what I wanted you to do.” You see, when a person is really walking with the Lord, it will impact other people. It will cause a reaction.

Paul felt that God wanted him to go to Jerusalem. The prophet Agabus warned him that if he went there, he would be arrested. Other believers begged him not to go. But Paul said, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13).

So Paul went to Jerusalem, and sure enough, he was arrested and found himself in a prison cell. Yet God still had a future for Paul. And guess what? God has a future for you, too.

 

John MacArthur – Walking by Faith

John MacArthur

“By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God” (Heb 11:5)

Our second hero of faith is Enoch. Genesis 5:21-24 records that “Enoch lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Methuselah. Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”

What a wonderful epitaph: “Enoch walked with God.” His life exemplifies the walk of faith. Adam and Eve had walked with God in the Garden of Eden, but their sin separated them from such intimacy. Enoch experienced the fellowship with God they had forfeited.

Enoch’s faithful walk pleased God greatly. And after more than three hundred years on earth, Enoch was translated to heaven without ever experiencing death. It’s as if God simply said, “Enoch, I enjoy your company so much, I want you to join me up here right now.”

Like Enoch, there is coming a generation of Christians who will never see death. Someday–perhaps soon–Jesus will return for His church, “then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up . . . in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17). Enoch is a beautiful picture of that great future event, which we call the rapture of the church.

As you walk with God, He delights in you. You’re His child and your praises and fellowship bring Him joy. Psalm 116:15 says, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones.” Even death itself simply ushers you into His presence for all eternity.

Let the joy of intimacy with God, and the anticipation of seeing Christ face to face–either by rapture or by death– motivate you to please Him more and more each day of your life.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank God for the promise of Christ’s return.

For Further Study:

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

What events surround the rapture of the church?

How were the Thessalonians to respond to Paul’s teaching about the rapture?

How should you respond?

Presidential Prayer Team; – J.K. – His Hand of Comfort

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Halloween is a time when scary things are prevalent – skeletons come to life, ghostly sounds emanate from unlikely places, and people dress in frightening costumes. Much time is spent making light of death.

He laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last.”

Revelation 1:17

However, there is no comfort in death if you have not the certainty of life eternal with Jesus Christ. He loved beyond any other when He died to take away the sin of the world. He rose again, and it was this glorified Jesus that John saw in his vision. John fell at His feet “as though dead” in awe of His glory (Revelation 1:17). But Christ extended His hand of comfort and gave John the assurance that no one else could give. Jesus was the divine Son of God, “the first and the last.” He is before all things and will be in control at the end of all things, having authority over all. You need not fear.

Apply this glorious truth to every situation in your life, including the effects of the chaotic conditions in government. Intercede for the nation’s leaders…that they may discover the certainty of life with Christ and be guided by Him. Then rest in His presence.

Recommended Reading: Revelation 1:9-18

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – In Creation’s Praise

Ravi Z

In a volume of world history authored by a team of forty professors at a respected university, one of the professors of geology flatly states, “We reject the miraculous.”(1)

Ravi Zacharias recalls a professor of his, a quantum physicist, describing what the first few microseconds of the creation of the universe would have looked like. He described in great detail the how contraction and expansion ratio had to be so precise and the margin of error so small. And he added that the exactness demanded of that moment was such that it would be the equivalent of taking aim at a one square inch object twenty billion light years away and hitting it bull’s eye.

What can we call this if not wondrous? Can we legitimately reject the miraculous in such a description?

There is a growing trend to view science on one side of reality and any matter of faith operating in another sphere, biased and unrelated. Science is seen as concerned with matter and reason, while faith appeals subjectively and only to the spirit. The divide is a wound felt on both sides.

To think about the fantastic glory of the universe at our front door is to confront the marvels of that creation. It is to ask questions that are both profoundly earth-bound and physical and deeply transcendent. We are far more than matter explained and demystified. There is a beauty in human relationships, wonder in the giftedness of the human mind, mystery in the movement of life and death. Yet somehow we have reduced the notion of mystery as a problem to be solved, and wonder has become something of a relic beside anything that can be explained.

In his autobiography, Charles Darwin alludes to the phenomenon of life when void of wonder. When his theories of evolution had become entrenched into his consciousness, consuming both his time and his thoughts, Darwin noted that he lost all interest in the arts and in music. When the focus of life became the mechanization of it all, the romance of life was drained of all usefulness. This seems to us at once a sad and dreary existence, but why?

Do our explanations of reality speak to the notion of beauty? Or value? Or meaning? If we simply hold onto the impersonal mechanics, why do we have any desire to be personal? To be loved? To be known? Beauty and wonder seem somehow built into life, and when we take them away, life becomes something less.

Few have captured the pull of a transcendent wonder more eloquently than Henry van Dyke, later put to the music of Beethoven. The lyric magnificently proclaims the God behind a creation that invites us to join in:

All Thy works with joy surround Thee,

earth and heaven reflect Thy rays;

stars and angels sing around Thee,

center of unbroken praise;

field and forest, vale and mountain,

flowery meadow, flashing sea,

singing bird and flowing fountain

call us to rejoice in Thee.(2)

Wonder surrounds us, calling us to join in creation’s praise.

The psalmist invites far more than a faith removed from the world of matter. We are invited to join it in mystery and beauty, in praise and wonder of God. “Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—how good God is. Blessed are you who run to him.”(3) When you consider the earth and the heavens, wonder is not obscure or forgotten, mystery is not a problem to be solved. But beauty and splendor are crammed into everything God has brought into being, and the chorus of all creation’s praise is one in which we are right to run and join.

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

(1) John A. Garraty and Peter Gay, eds., The Columbia History of the World (New York:  Harper, 1972), 14.

(2) Joyful, Joyful We adore Thee, words by Henry Van Dyke, 1852-1933, music by Ludwig van Beethoven, 1770-1827.

(3) Cf. Psalm 34.

John MacArthur – Taking the Offensive

John MacArthur

“Take . . . the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17).

All the armor Paul lists in Ephesians 6 is defensive, with one exception: the sword of the Spirit. That’s your offensive weapon for defeating Satan.

We’ve seen that Roman soldiers carried two swords: the large broadsword and the small dagger. The Greek word translated “sword” in verse 17 refers to the dagger, which was anywhere from six to eighteen inches in length and was carried in a sheath or scabbard at the soldier’s side.

The dagger was a common weapon. The Roman soldiers who arrested Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane were each armed with one (Matt. 26:47). Peter used one to cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant (Matt. 26:51). A dagger was used to kill James, the brother of John (Acts. 12:2). Hebrews 11:37 tells us that such a weapon was used against the heroes of the faith.

“The sword of the Spirit” isn’t a direct reference to the Holy Spirit as such. The implications is that since our enemy is spiritual, our weapons also must be spiritual (2 Cor. 10:4). Our sword is spiritual because it is the Word given by the Holy Spirit. He inspired its writing and through it convicts and redeems sinners (John 16:8; Heb. 4:12-13). The Word abides in you and transforms you. It supplies everything you need for a godly, victorious life. It builds you up and produces holiness (Acts 20:32). And it equips you for good works by teaching, reproving, correcting, and training you in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).

The Bible is a powerful and effective weapon. The question is, Do you know how to use it? Do you diligently study it and apply its principles to your life? Do you have a storehouse of biblical truth to draw from in the heat of battle?

The Roman dagger was a precision weapon aimed at a specific spot to produce a specific result. Similarly, the sword of the Spirit is most effective when you apply specific biblical principles to specific situations in your life. Do you do that?

Suggestions for Prayer:

Ask God to increase your desire to know His Word.

Ask for wisdom in applying what you already know to the decisions and situations you’ll face today.

For Further Study:

Read 1 Peter 1:22–2:3. How are believers to approach the Word?

 

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!

Presidential Prayer Team; G.C. – Epic Love

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Problems with love are as old as humanity. Those in need of it can be driven to extremes to get it, and those “in” love many times find a paradoxical misery. Most people amass a lifetime of complaints about love: it’s not enough, too much, not in the right time, or not returned. A few, however, find a rare and epic kind of love, one that stirs the heart, and satisfies, sustaining the very soul.

His eyes are like doves beside streams of water, bathed in milk, sitting beside a full pool.

Song of Solomon 5:12

The Song of Solomon in the Bible is one of the most intense love poems in all of western literature. Nowhere in this book is God mentioned, but the analogy of His intense desire for relationship with mankind cannot be missed. His affections are likened to a bird sitting beside a full pool – a place where there is nothing required that is not present.

Do you know how to stand beside a nation desperately in need of God’s love today? Start with prayer, a deep and personal prayer for God’s presence to revive your love relationship with Him. And, as your heart is replenished pray for the opportunity to bring others along to sit beside the full pool of his care. America will only be revived by this epic kind of love.

Recommended Reading: Psalm 107:1-9

 

 

 

Alistair Begg – What We Must Do

Alistair Begg

‘A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!’

Judges 7:20

Gideon ordered his men to do two things: Covering up a torch in an earthen pitcher, he had them, at an appointed signal, break the pitcher and let the light shine. Then he had them blow the trumpet, crying, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!”

This is precisely what all Christians must do. First, you must shine: Break the pitcher that conceals your light, throw aside the container that has been hiding your candle, and shine. Let your light shine before men; let your good works be such that when men look at you, they will know that you have been with Jesus.

Then there must be the sound, the blowing of the trumpet. There must be active exertions for the gathering of sinners by proclaiming Christ crucified. Take the Gospel to them. Carry it to their door; put it in their path; do not allow them to escape it; blow the trumpet right against their ears. Remember that the true battle-cry of the church is Gideon’s watchword, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!” God must do it; it is His own work.

But we are not to be idle; He uses instruments–“A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!” If we only cry, “A sword for the LORD!” we will be guilty of idle presumption; and if we shout, “A sword for Gideon!” alone, we shall display an idolatrous reliance on man: We must blend the two in practical harmony: “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!” We can do nothing in ourselves, but we can do everything by the help of our God; let us, therefore, in His name determine to go out personally and serve Him with our flaming torch of holy example and with our trumpet blasts of sincere declaration and testimony, and God will be with us, and the enemy will be put to confusion, and the Lord of hosts will reign forever and ever.

 

 

Joyce Meyer – Giants Fall

Joyce meyer

And again there was war at Gath, where was a man of great stature who had twenty-four fingers and toes, six on each hand and each foot. He also was born to the giant. And when he reproached and defied Israel, Jonathan son of Shimea, David’s brother, slew him.—1 Chronicles 20:6–7

God wants us to stretch our faith muscles and stand against fear. He wants us to say, “No! Fear is not going to rule in my life.” As we learn to use prayer to confront and combat the small fears, He’ll help us learn to tackle the bigger fears too.

Don’t let fear freeze you into paralysis. Hannah Hurnard, author of Hinds’ Feet on High Places, was once paralyzed by fear. Then she heard a sermon on scarecrows that challenged her to turn her fear into faith.

The preacher said, “A wise bird knows that a scarecrow is simply an advertisement. It announces that some very juicy and delicious fruit is to be had for the picking. There are scarecrows in all the best gardens…. If I am wise, I too shall treat the scarecrow as though it were an invitation. Every giant in the way which makes me feel like a grasshopper is only a scarecrow beckoning me to God’s richest blessings.” He concluded, “Faith is a bird that loves to perch on scarecrows. All our fears are groundless.”

Lord, there’s no giant of fear that can stand when I approach it with faith. I stand against the fear in Your name, and I trust You to lead me to overcome it. Amen.

 

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

John MacArthur – Preparing for Battle

John MacArthur

“Be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Eph. 6:10-11).

The Gulf War introduced some highly sophisticated weapons that had never been proven under live battle conditions. Most of the troops hadn’t experienced war either. Yet troops and machinery combined in a display of military conquest unparalleled in history.

Thorough preparation proved to be an indispensible element in that overwhelming victory. That included developing and testing high-tech weaponry, recruiting and training troops, and engaging in mock battles. Generals know that if they dare enter a battlefield ill-prepared, they’re destined for defeat. Consequently, they do everything possible to prepare their troops for victory.

Similarly, your success in spiritual warfare is directly proportional to your preparedness. You must “be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might” (Eph. 6:10), and also put on your armor (v. 11). God is your strength and source of victory, but you must trust Him and appropriate your spiritual resources. As Oliver Cromwell said, “Trust in God and keep your powder dry.”

If you delay preparation until the battle is upon you, then it’s too late. If your armor isn’t in place, you’re vulnerable to the arrows of the enemy. If you neglect prayer, worship, Bible study, accountability, and the other disciplines of faith, you can’t expect to prevail when spiritual skirmishes arise.

No soldier who values his own life would step onto a battlefield unprepared. How much more should soldiers of Christ prepare themselves to fight against Satan’s forces? Be diligent. Christ guarantees ultimate victory, but you can lose individual battles if you’re unprepared. It’s even possible to lapse into periods of spiritual lethargy, indifference, impotency, and ineffectiveness, but that’s utterly inconsistent with your mandate to fight the good fight (1 Tim. 1:18).

Don’t be caught off guard! Keep your armor on and remain alert to the advances of the enemy.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Ask God to keep you alert to the reality of spiritual warfare and the need to be prepared at all times for battle.

Thank Him for the times He protected you when your armor wasn’t as secure as it needed to be.

For Further Study:

Memorize 2 Timothy 2:4 as a reminder to be spiritually prepared at all times.