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The Authority of Our Message

The Authority of Our Message

Today’s Scripture: “Now Elijah, who was from Tishbe in Gilead, told King Ahab, “As surely as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives—the God I serve—there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!””1 Kings 17:1

King Ahab’s first thought after encountering the prophet Elijah may well have been, Of all the nerve! Just who does this guy think he is? Bursting onto the scene out of nowhere, Elijah confronted Israel’s wicked king with a message that would soon disrupt life throughout the entire region.

The validity of the revelation rested with the Source, not the mouthpiece. Elijah was a man of great faith who believed what God told him; he could boldly speak with authority because he knew and trusted the One who gave the message. He spent time alone with the Lord and listened as he stood before Him.

Our Father doesn’t speak to us in exactly the same manner that He spoke to the Old Testament prophets, but the process of receiving His message hasn’t changed. It begins with being alone in His presence and involves listening as He speaks through His Word. But it shouldn’t end there.

Prophets had the responsibility of telling the people what the Lord revealed to them. Similarly, we are to share with others what we learn from God’s Word. Devotional time with the Lord is not just about our own interests and needs. The Father reveals His treasures to us so that we can share them with others.

Begin each day alone with God in His Word and in prayer, listening as He speaks to your heart. Believe what He says in Scripture, apply it to your life, and then share with someone else what He has revealed. Be bold and remember that the authority of your message comes from Him.

 

 

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The Priority of Obedience

The Priority of Obedience

Today’s Scripture: “Jesus replied, “All who love Me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and We will come and make Our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love Me will not obey Me. And remember, My words are not My own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent Me. I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as My representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—He will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” John 14:23-26

The Creator gave two commands to Adam and Eve—first, to fill the earth and rule over it, and second, not to eat from a certain tree in the Garden (Genesis  1:28; 2:17). Because they chose to disobey, their relationship with God was broken, and they had to leave Eden.

The first couple’s rebellion not only impacted their own lives but also had far broader implications: all future generations have suffered. In Romans 5:12-19, the apostle Paul explained the reason. Through the trespass of one man, Adam, sin made its entrance into the world, and death resulted for all mankind. Because Adam was head of the human race, his actions affected everyone born after him. His disobedience resulted in each of us having a bent away from the Lord and a desire for self-rule.

By contrast, Jesus made conformity to the Lord’s will the priority of His life. He obeyed God in both word and deed (John 8:28-29). Having lived a perfect life—one entirely without sin—He qualified to be our Savior (2 Corinthians  5:21). Through the death of one man, Christ Jesus, payment was made for the transgressions of all mankind. God’s acceptance of the Son’s sacrifice brought us forgiveness and freedom from sin’s power.

Adam’s disobedience brought judgment and death upon us, whereas Jesus’ obedience resulted in new life for all who believe in Him (Romans 6:4). Our Savior calls us to deny selfish desires, live sacrificially, and follow Him (Matthew  16:24). A godly life will bring Jesus honor and influence others for Him.

 

 

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A Lifestyle of Obedience

A Lifestyle of Obedience

Today’s Scripture: “So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him.” Genesis 6:22

A lifestyle of obedience requires commitment and perseverance. Noah needed both as he obeyed the Lord’s instructions to build a large boat with a roof, doors, and three decks. God spelled out the exact measurements, the type of wood to use, and the way to make the vessel watertight. It was essential that Noah adhere to every detail if the ark was to house all the animals and stay afloat.

Scripture does not describe reactions to the project, but knowing human nature, we can imagine the disbelief and rejection Noah probably experienced. Yet he worked faithfully to the end and  “did everything just as God commanded him” (v. 22 niv).

The Lord wants us to follow His instructions precisely. Unfortunately, we like to add some of our desires to His plan. We are like a child whose parent assigns three chores. The first is done satisfactorily, the second is put off until another day, and the third is skipped because the girl deems it unnecessary. This is not obedience.

In our case, we know we’re called to show compassion and kindness, forgiving others as the Lord forgave us (Colossians 3:13). However, our human nature wants to pick and choose which parts of Scripture we’ll obey. God blesses those who wholeheartedly follow Christ (John 12:26).

Many people in the Bible saw obedience as their goal. Abraham determined to go wherever God led. Moses felt inadequate but still carried out the Lord’s plan. Paul did an about-face to become Christ’s disciple. Ask the Holy Spirit to empower you to follow the path of righteousness.

 

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The Quest for the Eternal

The Quest For The Eternal

Today’s Scripture:  “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is.”—Psalm 63:1.

THIS PSALM has a special fascination for those who can no longer gather with the assemblies of God’s people. David was in flight from Absalom, wandering in the wilderness. The land around is waterless and weary, and his enemies are on his track. But all this seems secondary to his longing for God. Weary and thirsty though he is, his most agonizing desire is for God, the living God, as he had seen and known Him in the tent, which he had reared on Zion for His worship. The barren wilderness, seemed to reflect the craving of his soul for God.

In many hearts and lives his mood is reflected to-day. Our soul thirsts and pines for the vision of the power and glory of God, for the communion of saints. Perhaps David lays greater emphasis on the Sanctuary than we do on our places of worship. We must remember that the Glory of the Shekinah shone between the Cherubim in that hallowed Shrine.

In Psalm 63:5-7, the longing soul seems satisfied. As we long for God, we find Him. As we seek, we possess (Isaiah 41:17-18). As we remember Him, we break into song. The fact is that our yearnings after God are the response of our hearts to the beat of His heart and to the knock of His hand. Prayer is the response of our nature to the circulation of His lifeblood within us. When we seek His face, it is in answer to His own summons. “When Thou saidst, Seek ye My face; my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.” As one has stated it: “Our desires and aspirations are responses to the outflowings of the Holy Spirit in silent or expressed communion.”

The climax of the Psalm is reached in Psalm 63:8. Notice the three-fold steps: my soul thirsts; my soul is satisfied; my soul followeth hard after Thee. Remember Him upon thy bed! Meditate on Him through the night-watches! Hide thyself under the shadow of His wings! Keep step with His purposes! Follow close behind Him! Whosoever follows hard on God’s track, trusting in Him, rejoicing in His companionship, reaching out toward Him, will feel his own outstretched hand enclosed in a strong and tender grasp, steadying against weariness and failure, and making His own footsteps a way for our feet.

 

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Becoming A Patient Person

Becoming a Patient Person

Today’s Scriptures: “Five days later Ananias, the high priest, arrived with some of the Jewish elders and the lawyer Tertullus, to present their case against Paul to the governor. When Paul was called in, Tertullus presented the charges against Paul in the following address to the governor: “You have provided a long period of peace for us Jews and with foresight have enacted reforms for us. For all of this, Your Excellency, we are very grateful to you. But I don’t want to bore you, so please give me your attention for only a moment. We have found this man to be a troublemaker who is constantly stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the cult known as the Nazarenes. Furthermore, he was trying to desecrate the Temple when we arrested him. [We would have judged him by our law,] [but Lysias, the commander of the garrison, came and violently took him away from us,] [commanding his accusers to come before you.] You can find out the truth of our accusations by examining him yourself.” Then the other Jews chimed in, declaring that everything Tertullus said was true. The governor then motioned for Paul to speak. Paul said, “I know, sir, that you have been a judge of Jewish affairs for many years, so I gladly present my defense before you. You can quickly discover that I arrived in Jerusalem no more than twelve days ago to worship at the Temple. My accusers never found me arguing with anyone in the Temple, nor stirring up a riot in any synagogue or on the streets of the city.  These men cannot prove the things they accuse me of doing. “But I admit that I follow the Way, which they call a cult. I worship the God of our ancestors, and I firmly believe the Jewish law and everything written in the prophets.  I have the same hope in God that these men have, that He will raise both the righteous and the unrighteous.  Because of this, I always try to maintain a clear conscience before God and all people.” Acts 24:1-16

Paul demonstrated the power of patience when he was brought to trial before Festus. Instead of letting his accusers’ false claims interfere with his calm demeanor, the apostle patiently went through the legal process while remaining faithful to the Lord. He refrained from attacking the opposition or decrying the injustice of the charges. His peaceful manner found favor with the governor and earned him a hearing for the gospel (Acts 24:24-25).

Because our “flesh” is inclined towards impatience, we need to seek the Lord during difficult situations. Through prayer, we can ask Him to take control over our . . .

Thoughts. It is important that we shift our attention away from the circumstance and onto our heavenly Father. His Spirit will help us gain the right perspective.

Emotions. When the Holy Spirit oversees our feelings and reactions, we will find ourselves becoming calmer. Then He will empower us to respond in a godly manner.

Speech. Asking Him to help us have self-control over our tongue is essential. A timely word can defuse a situation; speaking defensively or shouting angrily at the other person can inflame it (Proverbs 15:18).

The Holy Spirit will answer our prayers and provide what we need, just as He did for the apostle Paul.

Patience requires self-control and a desire to please God. Paul had need of both when standing before Festus and King Agrippa. Despite the injustice of those situations, Paul held his ground and was not provoked. Imagine what God will do through you as you grow in the virtue of patience.

 

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The Purpose Of Prayer, Conclusion

The Purpose of Prayer, Conclusion.

Today’s Scripture:  “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”   Revelation 3:21.

Three things happen as we pray. First, we have fellowship with God. Second, we cooperate in bringing God’s will to Earth. And, third, we are being prepared for Eternity.

One thing is certain about Heaven — we will not sit around on fluffy clouds strumming harps and eating yogurt, preening our wings and polishing our halos. No; nothing like that at all. Instead, we will reign with Christ, for that’s what the Bible tells us.

“To him that overcomes,” Jesus said, “will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” (Revelation 3:21). John gave us a glimpse into this exalted place, and we hear a mighty host of ransomed men and women from all nations singing, “You are worthy O Lord, for You have made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:10).

And the standing promise of the Ages, which fills our hearts with unshakable faith — the kind that overcomes the world — says it in perfect clarity: “They shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God gives them light: and they shall reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 22:4-5).

Our struggles here on earth, which intensify our resolve in prayer, become the very means whereby God is readying us for that place where we shall reign with Jesus. One old preacher called prayer, “reigning training.” Its the process whereby God deepens our faith, broadens our vision, sharpens our discernment, awakens our passion, and unleashes His power.

The purpose of prayer is to train you to reign with Jesus. So when you bow your head to pray, remember — every king kneels in order to be crowned.

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The Purpose of Prayer, Part 2

The Purpose of Prayer,  Part 2

Today’s Scripture: “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as in heaven.” Luke 11:2

Three things happen as we pray. First, which we looked at yesterday, is that we have fellowship with God. The second thing that happens is that we cooperate in bringing God’s Kingdom to Earth.

What exactly does this mean? Simply stated, it means doing our part to see God’s will happen in our sphere of influence.

Practically speaking, it means you should never pray a prayer that is not already God’s will. This is what the Bible is talking about when it says, “You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss; that you may consume it on your own lusts” (James 4:3). In other words, our prayers are not answered when we pray for selfish reasons, wanting to indulge our own desires.

“THY will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Whenever we pray what God has already decided to do, our prayers cannot miss! “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15).

But this not only means we are never to pray a prayer that is not already God’s will; it also means that you should never pray a prayer that you are not willing to be the answer to. In other words, don’t ask God to bless the poor if you are not ready to do your part in becoming the means whereby He does it.

Don’t pray for change in the courts, in the schools, in the marketplace, or in the church — if you’re going to sit passively by the side to see if any change comes. Otherwise you are praying empty prayers — mere religious words that have no meaning….and no power.

You must pray your passion — for it is in such prayers that God’s answers come; and they come through you. He gives you wisdom, opportunity, patience, resource and power from on high to actually effect the answers for which you cry out to heaven.

“Thy Kingdom come,” we pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Pray as though it depended totally upon God; work as though it depends totally upon you.

What are you prepared to do today to become the answer to the prayers you have been praying?

 

 

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The Purpose of Prayer

The Purpose of Prayer

Today’s Scripture: “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple.” Psalm 27:4 (KJV).

Three things happen as we pray. First, we have fellowship with God.

I’m talking about real friendship; not some imaginary exercise of reciting religious phrases toward some divine place in the sky. No. David said we would behold the beauty of the Lord, and inquire in His temple. This is not some abstract thought about a make-believe world, nor merely a poetic license for things that are not literally real. I’m talking about actually talking with God….and having Him talk back.

“Call unto Me, and I will answer you,” He says, “and show you great and marvelous things to wonderful to know; things of which you are unaware; things that you don’t know and can’t find out without asking Me; things you can never figure out on your own.” (Jeremiah 33:3).

The New Living Bible says, “Ask Me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.”

Jesus invited us to pray to “Our Father, who is in heaven.” This is a bond greater than any other relational connection we know. He has even placed His Spirit deep within our heart, whereby we call out, “Abba, Father.”

From infancy to our elder years, God’s Fatherhood is the undergirding and over-riding truth of our lives. And it is the single, most compelling factor in how we are to pray —

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:7-11).

The purpose of prayer is to strengthen, deepen, broaden, and lengthen our fellowship with God, our Father.

Have to talked to Dad lately?

 

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Developing Patience

Developing Patience

Today’s Scripture: “Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:12-14

On any given day, we may encounter frustrating people and situations, such as the slow driver, mischievous child, or uncooperative co-worker. We may feel like lashing out, but God wants us to stay calm and be patient with everyone (1 Thessalonians  5:14).

Why should we want to develop patience?

  • Our calling. Though once alienated from the Lord, we have been made part of His family through Jesus’ shed blood. As God’s children, we’re called to live a life worthy of Him—one that is characterized by humility, gentleness, and patience (Ephesians 4:1-3).
  • Biblical teaching. Scripture tells us to be tolerant of one another, bearing each other’s burdens, and responding with kindness.
  • Jesus’ example. The Lord demonstrated patience toward Peter’s impetuous actions, the crowd’s demands, and the leaders’ false accusations. We are to cultivate an attitude of composure.
  • Healthy relationships. Our impatience can hurt others and close off dialogue. Responding calmly gives room for the other person to confess wrongdoing, explain his attitude, and make changes.
  • God’s approval. The apostle Paul wrote that we are to be joyful in hope and patient in affliction (Romans 12:12 niv). When we quietly endure our suffering, we find favor with the Lord (1 Peter 2:20).

The Holy Spirit is conforming us to Christ’s image. As we cooperate with Him, He will develop in us the ability to persevere—without becoming agitated—when waiting or provoked. A calm demeanor in times of delay or adversity can be a powerful witness to the transforming work of God.

 

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Graditude

Gratitude

Today’s Scripture: “Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name”– 1 Chronicles 29:13

The first question we should ask is simply this: what is the “therefore” there for? In other words, why are we to give thanks and praise to God’s glorious name?

The answer is in the previous verse, and in David’s declaration that everything we have comes from God:

Both riches and honor come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all” (12).

No matter how hard you may have worked, or how well you may have done, everything that you are enjoying ultimately comes from God’s gracious hand.

Do you have enough money to cover your expenses? Have you moved up the ladder at your workplace? Is your name becoming well-known as a success in certain circles? Then it is God who has given you the skills, the health, and the mind to flourish in this way.

On the other hand, perhaps you have not known worldly success, or been honored as of late. Know this: God, in His perfect wisdom and with His mighty hand, has dispensed to you exactly what is best for you, if you are His.

Therefore, no matter what your circumstance or situation, we thank you, God, and praise your glorious name!