Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Prayer Makes a Difference

I Timothy 2:1

1 Timothy 2:1-8New International Version (NIV)

Instructions on Worship

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.
Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.
New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. accessed 23 July 2014 biblegateway.com.

   After observing the godless trends in our nation, we readily recognize the need for change. But God's solution for our predicament is surprising. Paul instructs Timothy to establish some priorities in the church, and first on the list is prayer "for kings and all who are in authority" (1 Tim. 2:2). The reason for our petitions is so that we can live tranquil and godly lives and thereby have unhindered opportunities to tell others about the Savior (vv.2-4).
   Paul wouldn't have given Timothy this instruction unless he believed the prayers of the church would make a difference in achieving God's purposes for their nation. Our problem is not with the Lord's promise or capability, but with our lack of faith. By focusing on the enormity of the problems or the power of those in office, we lose sight of our sovereign God who waits for us to request His intervention.
   Political policies and legislation are not ultimately determined in conference rooms and governmental chambers, but in prayer closets. The voices that shape the direction of a nation are not necessarily those that ring out in legislative halls, but those that approach the throne room of God with bold faith (Heb. 4:16). As the church believes and prayers, the Lord will respond.
   Knowing that God can change a country, you may be wondering why He has waited so long. Maybe He is asking you a similar question: "Why have you waited so long to pray?" Every authority on earth can be touched by the power of prayer if we are willing to ask and believe God.

Stanley, Charles F. Prayer Makes a Difference. Atlanta: In Touch Publication of In Touch Ministries. July 2014. page 55

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Believer's Journey to the Cross

John 12:23-27

New International Version (NIV) downloaded from Bible Gateway
23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour."

   We all know that Jesus walked the road to Calvary, but did you know that believers also journey to the cross? We've all been positionally crucified with Christ, but those who hunger for Him participate in a deeper experience of this reality. Jesus lovingly takes their hand and leads them to the cross. Even though this is the last place anyone wants to go, it's the only way to partake of God's best for our lives.
   The trip to the cross is not one you take with family and friends. It's a lonely journey with just you and Jesus. He strips away everyone and everything you've depended on so that you'll learn to rely only on Him. While we're at the cross, He uncovers layer after layer of self-deception until we begin to see ourselves as He does. Soon our self-centeredness, inadequacy, and failures are laid bare.
   The cross is a place of brokenness, but it's necessary because there's no other way we'll ever bear fruit. If we hang onto our lives and refuse to take this journey, we'll be like a grain of wheat that is never planted and never grows. But those who willingly die to themselves will produce an abundance of spiritual fruit. The only way Christ can live His life through us is if we've allowed ourselves to be crucified.
   God doesn't want you to be content with just your salvation. There's so much more He desires to give you and achieve through you. Are you willing to take the road to the cross with Him? Yes, it's painful, but the rewards in this life and in eternity far outweigh any suffering you will experience.

Stanley, Charles F., The Believer's Journey to the Cross, daily devotions, In Touch Publication, April 2014, page 47.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Resting in God's Faithfulness

"I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you; So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord." 1st Corinthians 1:4-9

 
   When plans are frustrated or life just seems to fall apart in some way, it's not uncommon for people to wonder, Has God deserted me? Why hasn't He answered my prayers? Deuteronomy 7:9 offers encouragement with assurance of the Father's faithfulness: "Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments."
   Five attributes of God make this possible. First, He knows everything, including our needs, thoughts, frailties, and desires-past, present, and future. Next, the Lord is all-powerful, so nothing is too hard for Him. (Jeremiah 32:17). Then, He exists everywhere at once and is never beyond reach.
   In addition, our heavenly Father cannot lie. Everything that He says is true and 100 percent reliable.
   Lastly, God is unchanging. The world around us and our circumstances seem to be in a constant state of flux. And the Lord may even modify the way He chooses to interact with mankind in different generations. But His character is always the same. So when Scripture tells us that God is faithful, we can res confidently upon that promise.
   Circumstances often prove painful. But even when situations seem overwhelming, believers can trust that our sovereign Lord knows all, is in control, and lovingly works everything for His children's good. We can rest confidently, knowing that the unchanging God of all creation is taking care of us.
Stanley, Charles. In Touch. In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, GA. March 2014. page 53 for information or to order resources InTouch.org, PO Box 7900. Atlanta, GA. 30357-9979 or www.intouch.org.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Pray on the full armor of God

 

 As followers of Jesus we're in a spiritual battle. Though the ultimate war has been won, Satan will do all he can to leave us discouraged, doubting, and defeated.
    But God has not left us defenseless. He has provided spiritual armor for this spiritual battle - including a key offensive weapon - the Sword of the Spirit - God's Word.
    How can we "put on" this armor God has provided?
    Here's a prayer, based on Paul's exhortation in Ephesians 6:10-18, that can help as we struggle, "not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (v. 12).
   



   Equip me, Lord:

  • With the belt of truth (v. 14). May your truth rule in my heart and be in my mind and on my lips today.
  • With the breastplate of righteousness (v. 14). Apart from You there is no righteousness, but through Jesus I have been "born again" and made righteous in Your sight. May I live as a righteous person.
  • With feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace (v. 15). May I reflect the Gospel in my words and actions, that through me, with my every encounter, others may be drawn one step closer to You.
  • With the shield of faith (v. 16). May I take You at Your word concerning promises about the present and future - promises of everlasting love, abundant life, and so much more.
  • With the helmet of salvation (v. 17). Remind me that nothing can separate me from Your love and that I've been saved by grace. In Your grace, help me to say "no" to all ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live a self-controlled, upright, and godly life (Titus 2:12, 13).
  • And with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God (v. 17).May Your Holy Spirit reign in my life and bring to my mind just the right Bible verses to be in my heart and on my lips. May I be "filled with the Spirit" and ready with Scripture as You were, Jesus, when the devil tempted You.
  • Finally, keep me in an attitude of prayer (v. 18). Remind me to "pray in the Spirit on all occasions." Cause me to be alert and always praying for the saints; to be joyful and to give thanks in everything (see 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Adopted from The Pray! Prayer Journal by Dean Ridings. Used by permission of NavPress.
You can check out the rest of The Pray! Prayer Journal at navpress.com
Copy this discussion guide for your own use or share with your small group, or download a free PDF from online at my.navigators.org/d2go
copied from the Disciple! winter 2014, page 12, The Navigators, P.O. Box 6000, Colorado Springs, CO 80934

Friday, February 28, 2014

grape vine or wreath



The Wreath
A friend of mine whose grapevine died, had
put it out for trash.
I said to her, "I'll take that vine and make
something of that."
At home the bag of dead, dry vines looked
nothing but a mess, but as I gently bent
one vine, entwining ' round and 'round,
A rustic wreath began to form, potential did abound
One vine would not go where it should,
and anxious as I was,
I forced it so to change its shape, it broke -
and what the cause?
If I had taken precious time to slowly change
its form,
It would have made a lovely wreath, not a
dead vine, broken, torn.
As I finished bending, adding blooms,
applying trim,
I realized how that rustic wreath is like my life within.
You see, so many in my life have tried to make
me change.
They've forced my spirit anxiously, I tried to rearrange.
But when the pain was far too great,
they forced my fragile form,
I plunged far deeper in despair, my spirit broken, torn
Then God allowed a gentle one that knew of
dying vines,
To kindly, patiently allow the Lord to take His time
And though the vine has not yet formed a
decorative wreath,
I know that with God's servants' help one day when
Christ I meet,
He'll see a finished circle, a perfect gift to Him.
It will be a final product, a wreath with all the trim.


So as you look upon this gift, the vine round
and complete,
Remember God is using you to gently shape His wreath.

unpublished poem by Kathleen Viaes page 205 "Living Free in Christ" Neil Anderson

Monday, February 24, 2014

Growth: Spritual Growth



Part II
Principles of Spiritual Growth
by Miles J. Stanford 
Consecration-Which life is to be consecrated to Him-the old self-life, or the new Christ-life? God can accept absolutely nothing from the old-He sees and acknowledges only that which is centered in His Son, who is our Life. “Yield yourselves unto God, as…alive from the dead” (Rom. 6:13). It is utterly futile to expect a believer, by means of consecration, surrender or commitment, to step from his ground of substitution as spoken of in Romans 3-5 on to that of the deeper truths in Romans 8 and 12:1. There is an all-important area of identification truth in Romans 6, 7 that cannot be skipped over. It is the man who is conscious of his own impotence as a believer who will learn that by the Holy Spirit he can lead a holy life.

Self-In order for one to get beyond just knowing about the Lord Jesus and enter into a consistent and growing personal knowledge of, and fellowship with, Him, one must first come to know oneself. It is the Holy Spirit who reveals the self-life to the believer. The Holy Spirit will teach us “Not I, but Christ” (Gal. 2:20).

Self-denial-As we learn to stand on the finished work of Calvary, the Holy Spirit will begin to faithfully and effectively apply that finished work of the cross to the self-life, thereby holding it in the place of death-inactive-resulting in the “not I, but Christ’ life (Gal. 2:20).

The cross- Our intelligent faith, standing on the facts of Calvary, gives the Holy Spirit freedom to bring that finished work into our daily lives. Calvary is the secret of it all. It is what He did there that counts, and what He did becomes a force in the life of a Christian when it is appropriated by faith. This is the starting point from which all Godly living must take its rise.

Discipleship-A disciple is one who is free from the old and free for the new.

Process of discipleship-All that is not Christ, no matter how nice in appearance and profession, is revealed for what it is-just self. There is a stripping, right down to the germ of life, right on down until there is nothing left but Christ, who is our life. Down, Down into death (see  John 12:24).

Rest-True activity is that which springs out of, and is ever accompanied by, rest. It is only as we know what it is to be “still,” that we are ready to “go forward.” “We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.”

Help-Christian living is not our living with Christ’s help, it is Christ living His life in us.

Cultivation-Each of us must be thoroughly cultivated before He can effectively cultivate others through us. It is not that there will be no service for us until we are spiritually mature but that most of our service on the way to maturity is for our own development, not so much that of others. To the extent that we learn how our Father has had to handle us through the years will we understand how He would have us share with others. We must be cultivated to be cultivators.

Continuance-As our Lord takes us along through the years, it slowly dawns on us that there are vast, almost infinite, areas of development through which He must still lead us (see 11 Tim. 2:1-3). We rejoice with you as you continue in Him. “The Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you” (II Thess. 3:3).