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Prayer

Prayer

Today’s Scripture: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit. “   Ephesians 6:18

Remember to pray often. Paul here says we are to be praying always. He admonished the church at Thessalonica to “pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17). This indicates that our whole life is to be constantly bathed in prayer.

There should be thanksgiving, confession and supplication in every part of our day. Every decision should be made prayerfully. Every undertaking in God’s service should be approached with prayer. We all know the importance of prayer; but so often we are not as concerned as we should be that our prayer life is not what it should be — we need the reminder, “Don’t forget to pray.”

Remember, also, that you are being heard. Sometimes the complaint is made that, “I just don’t feel my prayers go anywhere, I don’t feel they are being heard.” But Jesus promised that when we knock it shall be opened. The answer comes in God’s own way and on His timetable but we are encouraged to keep asking and knocking.

Remember how to pray. Prayers are to be in the Spirit. Selfish prayers will not be heard. Requests that are not in harmony with God’s will, as revealed in His Word, will not be heard. But the prayer offered up in the Spirit will be heard.

The very thought that your feeble cry can actually be heard in the throne room of Heaven should be adequate incentive to keep you regularly coming to the throne of grace to find mercy and help in time of need.

 

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Beloved Children, Pleasing To God

Beloved Children, Pleasing to God

Today’s Scripture: “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children.” Ephesians 5:1

Our calling as Christians is to imitate Jesus Christ, but what big footsteps He left! The heavenly Father attested several times in the Scriptures, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” (Matthew 3:17). How can we possibly live up to that?

Thankfully, the Lord does not expect us to be perfect like Jesus. Knowing that we are encumbered by the weaknesses of our flesh, He sees us as children who are still learning. Just like a mother who rejoices over her baby’s first steps, so our heavenly Father delights in our early faltering steps of obedience as we seek to walk with Him.

The goal is growth. Once a toddler masters walking, his parents’ delight shifts to more mature achievements like running. As long as we keep growing in our faith, we will never cease learning new ways to please our Father. He loves us and patiently cheers us on at each new level of maturity.

What’s important to the Lord is the bent of our hearts. Amidst all our frailties, failures, and temptations, He sees the desires of our hearts and knows how much we love Him and want to be obedient. Even in our stumbling, He helps us up and encourages us with His Word.

Many of you are far more pleasing to the Lord than you think. If you’re prone to perfectionism, give yourself time to grow. The Father does.  So learn to see yourself through His eyes. He’s waiting—not to berate your efforts but to help you develop into the person He designed you to be.

 

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Spreading The Good News

Spreading the Good News

Today’s Scripture:  “After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”  When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.” Acts 14:21-23

Saul of Tarsus underwent a radical transformation—the zealous persecutor of Christians became a passionate follower of Christ. Later known as Paul, he dedicated his time, energy, and talent to spreading the gospel message. What motivated him to surrender his life wholeheartedly to Jesus?

 

Jesus’ sacrifice of love. Before salvation, Paul had opposed all who believed in Jesus as the Messiah. At his conversion, this persecutor of Christians realized that Christ willingly died on the cross because of His love for mankind. Jesus left His heavenly home, suffered, and died so we might be reconciled to God. The Lord’s sacrifice on the cross motivated the apostle to tell others about His all-encompassing love (Ephesians  3:18).

 

Gratitude for salvation. On the road to Damascus, Christ’s enemy became a member of His family. Paul called himself the worst of sinners, acknowledging that he was unworthy of salvation and undeserving of mercy or favor (I Timothy 1:15-16). It was gratitude for salvation that fueled his devotion and dedication to the cause of Christ.

 

Power of the gospel to transform lives. The apostle’s own experience made him long to see others rescued from slavery to sin so they might experience God’s grace. He wanted many to benefit from the saving and transforming power of the gospel.

 

We’ve been entrusted with the responsibility of spreading the gospel. When inadequacy, doubt, or complacency keeps us silent, let’s remember what motivated Paul. Then imagine a day when loved ones will experience the peace of God, the love of Christ, and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.

 

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Understanding The Bible

Understanding the Bible

Today’s Scripture: “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”  1 Corinthians 2:14

“I just don’t understand the Bible.” That’s a comment I hear quite often, even from believers. We can understand why those without Christ are unable to comprehend biblical concepts, but why do those who know Him struggle? Some people think that a seminary education is the answer, but I have met several trained pastors and teachers who didn’t really understand the Word of God. They knew facts, but they had no excitement for the Scriptures or
for the Lord.

The key is not education but obedience. As we act on what we read, the Holy Book “comes alive,” and we begin to hear and understand the voice of God. However, if we have not obeyed what He’s previously revealed to us, why would He give us His deeper truths? “The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him” (Psalm 25:14), and those who fear Him are the ones who obey His commandments and are promised “a good understanding” (Psalm 111:10).

Living a fleshly lifestyle of disobedience to the Lord clouds our eyes, diminishes our ability to hear, and fogs our thinking. Although we have full access to the mind of Christ, our attachment to our own sinful ways keeps us from tapping into the rich treasures of wisdom that are found in His Word.

As you read the Scriptures each day, look for God’s instructions. Then with reliance upon the Holy Spirit, commit to do what He tells you. When you obey His voice, He’ll reveal deeper truths, and your understanding will grow. Soon your time in the Word will become a delight instead of a duty.

 

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Practical Christianity

Practical Christianity

Today’s Scripture: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is. dead also.”—James 2:26.

 

JAMES IS described as “the Lord’s brother” in Galatians 1:19. He was surnamed “the Just,” and was much respected beyond the limits of the Christian Church for his saintly life. While St. Paul deals specially with doctrine, James is concerned with practice; Paul expounds the wonderful significance of Christ’s death and resurrection; James expounds the teaching of our Lord, especially in the Sermon on the Mount. Paul insists on faith as the means of justification before God; James lays stress on the works to which faith must lead.

 

It seems likely that James had seen Paul’s Epistles, for he uses so many of the same phrases and examples, and probably set himself to combat those who abused the teaching of the great Apostle. There were plenty in his time who believed about Christ, and prided themselves in the orthodoxy and accuracy of their creed; and James maintains that this is not sufficient to save the soul.

 

As far as orthodoxy goes, no creed can be more absolutely orthodox than that held by evil spirits. Repeatedly, during our Lord’s life, they acknowledged that He was the Holy One of God, but their belief had no effect on their character; it only filled them with fear and dread (James 2:19).

 

“Faith without works is dead.” It is good to test ourselves. We must see to it that our heart is pure and our way absolutely transparent. In our dealings with those around us, we must always seek to realize our highest conceptions of love and duty. Even when our efforts of goodwill and affection are not reciprocated, we must never lower the high standard of our action, but always keep before us the conception of our Saviour’s life in the Home at Nazareth. Be merciless to yourself, but always merciful to others, always bearing the burdens of those around you, always moderating your pace to the weak and weary, as Greatheart did for the pilgrims. Even Rahab was justified by a faith which wrought itself out in beautiful and unselfish action (James 2:25; Hebrews 11:31). Remember our Lord’s words in Matthew 7:20-21.

PRAYER

Help us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, to add to our faith, brotherly kindness, and pardon the unkind word or impatient gesture; the hard and selfish deed, the failure to give kindly help where we had the opportunity. Enable us so to live that we may daily do something to lessen the tide of human sorrow and need, and add to the sum of human happiness. AMEN.

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Sovereignty of God

Sovereignty of God

Today’s Scripture: “Our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.” Psalm 115:3

To say that God is sovereign is just another way of saying that God is God. God has the right to do as He pleases. He is in charge, He is working His will and accomplishing His purposes.

Recognizing the truth of sovereignty gives us the right view of the character of God. He has power over all (Psalm 99:1). He is holy and just (Isaiah 6:1-7). All things are for His glory (Revelation 4:11). God is not frustrated or disappointed, as He is sometimes represented, but is working all things after the counsel of His own will (Ephesians 1:11).

This truth provides a great sense of security and hope for His people. They see that no vicious enemy, no catastrophic event, no unexpected trial can affect God’s sovereign reign. As Psalm 46 declares, even if the earth was removed or the mountains carried into the sea, God is a refuge for His people. And they are further assured that what may be a long night of affliction can be turned into brightness as the heavenly Father teaches His children in their time of trouble.

God’s sovereignty gives assurance in salvation. We see that human merit or mere human choice is not the basis of salvation; rather, it is all of grace originating with God’s choice, being based on the death of His Son, and ultimately consummated because of His effectual work.

What peace comes by resting our case in the hands of Jesus, knowing He is King of kings and Lord of lords. Understanding the truth of sovereignty will evoke praise to His great name because we recognize all glory belongs to Him. Our God is in the heavens!

 

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Small Steps to a Great Destiny

Small Steps to a Great Destiny

Today’s Scripture: “When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’” Luke 5:4

God’s simple requests of us are oftentimes steppingstones to His greatest blessings. Although we may view these lesser events as unimportant, the Lord sees them as a big deal. The apostle Peter is a wonderful example of a man who took small steps to a great destiny.

When Jesus asked Peter to take Him out in his boat, the fisherman could have said no. After all, he’d put in a full night’s work and was probably exhausted. But by taking this small step, Peter received a front-row seat to hear the greatest teacher on earth, and he began a life-changing adventure.

Although Jesus’ first request was fairly ordinary, His next suggestion would challenge everything Peter knew to be logical. Heading into deep water at midday for the purpose of catching fish was ludicrous to this fishing expert. Sometimes God asks us to do what seems unreasonable to us or others. Just remember that the Lord is not obligated to work within the realm of what’s normal or logical. If Peter had refused this unusual request, he would have missed the biggest catch of his life—and I don’t mean the fish. This miracle opened Peter’s eyes to catch sight of his Messiah. When he got out of that boat, the fish meant nothing to him because Jesus became his everything.

The Lord isn’t waiting for us to do some big, impressive task for Him; He’s simply calling us to obey Him one small step at a time. Don’t miss the great adventure God has for you. Even when His ways seem unreasonable, follow Him faithfully, and your destiny will unfold before your eyes.

 

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God & His Attributes

God & His Attributes

Today’s Scripture: “Power belongeth unto God  Psalm 62:11

There is no power — past or present, spiritual or physical, heavenly or earthly — that does not come from God. The only autonomous, self-sufficient being is God Himself. All power belongs to Him, so He is omnipotent, all-powerful.

This is a great comfort to those who recognize their own frailty and face countless daily challenges that are above their own ability or strength to overcome. However, it is also convicting to every one of us that has entertained the notion that we can thrive, or even survive, without God’s strength.

Every other source of renewal, every other aid to which we might turn, will eventually fail us. But in the all-powerful God is everlasting strength (Isaiah 26:4). How wise is the one who therefore puts their “trust in the Lord forever.” How foolish is the fist that is shaken at this God, or the restless one who wanders away from Omnipotence!

It is this very attribute of God’s omnipotence which is given to us believers as inspiration to disciple the nations in the name of Christ. Jesus declares, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18) and so commands “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations” (v.19).

Rest in the everlasting strength of the one true God today. Go in the power of Jesus Christ today.

 

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Life After Death

Life After Death

Today’s Scripture: “And he told them this parable: ‘The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ ‘Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’  ‘But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’” Luke 12:16-20

The thought of dying frightens many people. But believers have no reason to fear. Jesus’ empty tomb proves that there is life after death!

 

Unbelievers who dread their demise have two different approaches to life. One group piles up wealth, good deeds, or worldly success in the hope of passing it on to their children or to charity. They expect to “live on” in the memories of those who benefit from their hard work. But it is the rare person who’s still remembered a few generations later. And none truly live on.

 

The other group chooses to laugh in the face of death. Their philosophy is “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die” (I Corinthians 15:32). Their existence seems pleasurable from the outside, but can you imagine a more futile way to live? God does not intend for us to go through life with such meaninglessness.

 

Here’s the key to significance: fulfilling our unique, God-given, eternal purpose. In this life, we do not labor to leave a physical legacy or waste our days pursuing pleasure. Instead, we help those in need, influence our culture, and reach out to the lost. And when a believer enters the heavenly place Jesus has prepared, he or she keeps on working for Him.

 

For the believer, death is not a fearsome end. It is the doorway to a new life of serving the Lord in heaven. Our days on earth are just the beginning of our existence. This time will seem like only a few minutes compared to an eternity spent in His presence.

 

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Man of Faith

Man of Faith

Today’s Scripture: Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite said…Now therefore give me this mountain…if so be the Lord will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them outJoshua 14:6,12

Are there any challenges, or trials, or ambitions in your life that seem to be insurmountable or unachievable? If so, then listen to the spirit and wisdom of Caleb’s words.

Understand, first, that Caleb is 85 years old when he makes this declaration. Secondly, “this mountain” is not some green-pastured, undefended plot of land; it is positively swarming with enemy combatants. But God had promised this land to Caleb and so he courageously claims it: “Give me this mountain.”

Such confidence might at first seem admirable, and yet naïve or unrealistic, in an 85-year-old man. But Caleb’s courage was based upon the wise realization that “if the Lord is with me, then I will be successful.”

All my excuses and fears are wiped away by this aged man’s faithful example. Is there anything in my life that seems insurmountable or unachievable? Then may Caleb’s faithful battle cry become my own.

If it is a sin against which I am striving, then I have been promised victory, with the Lord’s help — give me this mountain! If it is a life endeavor that I am being led to undertake for the cause of Christ, then I have been promised success — give me this mountain! If it is a particular grief that threatens to overwhelm me, then I have been promised the comfort and strength to overcome it by God’s grace — give me this mountain!