TODAY’S DAILY PRAYER
Lord our God, in our times too you hear the prayers and cries of your children. We need to cry out, for humankind has not become your own but still lives in pain and under judgment, and many thousands have to die or undergo terrible things. They should be yours, every one of them. They should all be your children. So we cry out to you: Reveal and glorify your name on earth so that a new time may come and great wonders may be done by your hand. May your name be honored, your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.
Reflections for Advent and Christmas
Verse of the Day
Thoughts on Today’s Verse…
Because of the LORD God’s grace and power, we will be victors. This is the final message of Revelation. It is the song that is sung throughout the Scriptures. This is the assurance that we have from God himself. Our lives will not be lived in vain. Those who berate, belittle, and batter God’s people will be exposed and his beloved children, his saints of light, will receive vindication and salvation from the Father they love.
Dear God, I pray especially today for your servants who are sharing the Gospel in difficult places. Some of these precious ones are imprisoned. Some are facing torture. Others are facing ostracism. Some face firing in their workplace. Please give them strength today. Please deliver them from the evil one’s vile intent. Protect them by your mighty hand and deliver them, like Daniel, from the lion’s mouth to your glory. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
BIBLE STUDY BUDDY
Read Luke 11:1-13…
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ”Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” 2. He said to them, ”When you pray, say:
”’Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. 3. Give us each day our daily bread.
What we are taught to seek or shun in prayer, we should equally pursue or avoid in action. Very earnestly, therefore, should we avoid temptation, seeking to walk so guardedly in the path of obedience, that we may never tempt the devil to tempt us. We are not to enter the thicket in search of the lion. Dearly might we pay for such presumption. This lion may cross our path or leap upon us from the thicket, but we have nothing to do with hunting him. He that meeteth with him, even though he winneth the day, will find it a stern struggle. Let the Christian pray that he may be spared the encounter. Our Saviour, who had experience of what temptation meant, thus earnestly admonished His disciples—”Pray that ye enter not into temptation.”
But let us do as we will, we shall be tempted; hence the prayer “deliver us from evil.” God had one Son without sin; but He has no son without temptation. The natural man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards, and the Christian man is born to temptation just as certainly. We must be always on our watch against Satan, because, like a thief, he gives no intimation of his approach. Believers who have had experience of the ways of Satan, know that there are certain seasons when he will most probably make an attack, just as at certain seasons bleak winds may be expected; thus the Christian is put on a double guard by fear of danger, and the danger is averted by preparing to meet it. Prevention is better than cure: it is better to be so well armed that the devil will not attack you, than to endure the perils of the fight, even though you come off a conqueror. Pray this evening first that you may not be tempted, and next that if temptation be permitted, you may be delivered from the evil one.
5. Then Jesus said to them, ”Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6. a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7. And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8. I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
9. ”So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 11. ”Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12. Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?
If you’ve ever wrestled with that question, perhaps the thoughts of the 19th-century preacher R. A. Torrey can help. Among the reasons he gave for prayer are these:
-Because there is a devil, and prayer is a God-appointed way to resist Him (Eph. 6:12-13,18).
-Because prayer is God’s way for us to obtain what we need from Him (Lk. 11:3-13; Jas. 4:2).
-Because prayer is the means God has appointed for us to find ”grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).
-Because prayer with thanksgiving is God’s way for us to obtain freedom from anxiety and to receive ”the peace of God” (Phil. 4:6-7).
Besides these reasons, it’s enough to read the command in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, ”Pray without ceasing,” and realize that God wants us to talk with Him. Yes, He is all-knowing, but He also desires our fellowship. When we seek God’s face in prayer, we strengthen our relationship with Him. That’s the most important reason to pray.
Paul’s Heart and God’s Plan for Israel: Part Two
Behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou guest.–GEN. xxviii. 15.
Be quiet, soul:
Why shouldst thou care and sadness borrow,
Why sit in nameless fear and sorrow,
The livelong day?
God will mark out thy path to-morrow
In His best way.
I had hoped, Madame, to find you here, and was rejoicing in that hope; but God has sent you elsewhere. The best place is wherever He puts us, and any other would be undesirable, all the worse because it would please our fancy, and would be of our own choice. Do not think about distant events. This uneasiness about the future is unwholesome for you. We must leave to God all that depends on Him, and think only of being faithful in all that depends upon ourselves. When God takes away that which He has given you, He knows well how to replace it, either through other means or by Himself.
FRANCOIS DE LA MOTHE FENELON.
“…I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.’” Zechariah 13:9
In 2004, my colleague Jim Cunningham was in Ethiopia teaching Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS). His teaching assignments took him to the far western province of Gambella where many Christians of the Anuak tribe had been killed in recent fighting. The believers there told him about one of their pastors, Okok Ojula, who was in prison in the capital, Addis Ababa.
Okok had been head of the Bureau of Social Rehabilitation in Gambella. He was falsely accused of corruption and taking three million Ethiopian Birr. No evidence was presented so the trial was moved to Addis—three days away by bus—to a federal court. He had been sitting in jail for two years waiting for a trial date to be set! His wife Nuno and their six children were patiently waiting back in Gambella. They asked Jim to visit Pastor Okok in prison.
Jim went to the Administrator’s Office of the main federal prison back in Addis to try and see Pastor Okok. “Why do you want to see him?” the administrator asked. Jim responded, “Because I was in Gambella, met his wife Nuno and their six children and I told them I would come and give him greetings from them.”
He replied rather directly, “Why do YOU want to see him?” Jim looked him in the eye and said, “Okok is a Christian and a pastor in Gambella, I am a Christian and a pastor in Canada. I want to meet him and pray with him!” At that moment the administrator’s countenance changed. He turned to Jim and said, “You may meet him next door in the Deputy Administrator’s office.”
Okok was brought in for forty-five minutes—with coffee provided—and they shared and prayed together! It was a great time of blessing for both men.
After three and a half years, Okok was released from prison as a free man completely exonerated. He then shared with Jim by mail that he hadearlier conformed his life around serving the Lord, resuming his education at the highest level, doing research work, and other valuable good things to help people. But he had never thought of imprisonment at any time. Time was very precious to him and he never thought of wasting it in prison sitting under a hostile situation. But having been in prison he learned many lessons.
Commenting about Moses’ burning bush, he said, “Prison to me, is a place where the Lord can appear to us in flames of fire to refine us—but never ‘burn us up.’ I see that the Lord is more concerned with our perfection obtained through walks in all levels of patience, endurance, character, and hope in order to expel fear and self-centeredness in our lives—and prepare us to see and believe that He is God Almighty as He appeared to Moses. He intends for us not to put Him in our little box to use Him as an instrument to suit our release from the prison.[Rather] patience, endurance, character, and hope have to finish their work to perfection.”
RESPONSE: Today I will accept that God may have to put me through the refiner’s fire to perfect me.
PRAYER: Lord, build patience, endurance, character and hope into my life in Your way and purpose.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Every day from Black Friday until New Year’s Eve, we’ll bring you one devotional from our archives about Christmas, celebrating the Incarnation, Advent, or the Nativity. Check back every morning as you thank the Lord for His gift of coming near! Emmanuel!
The Christmas Plan
Christmas was required in God’s plan because the righteous life he requires was not attained by Adam or any of his fallen descendants. God, prompted by grace, chose to fulfill the holy human standard himself. The incarnate Deity chose to live the life we should have lived – the perfect childhood, the spotless teenage years and the righteous adult life.
Had we been able to present to the Father the righteous life he requires so that we could perfectly enjoy his presence and his presents, God would not have needed to become a man and live among us. But we couldn’t, so he did. Were it only our sins that needed a payment, Christ could have arrived on the day of his crucifixion. But our deficiencies were more than our acts of transgression (doing the things we shouldn’t do), our problems included the “Romans 3:23” (failing to do the things we should do).
It is with gratitude that we celebrate his advent as an infant, because we know that as our sins were atoned for on the cross, so it was that all our human deficits began to be rectified by one perfectly-lived life starting that very night in Bethlehem.
— Pastor Mike
Be Thankful for People
This devotional was written by Robin Dugall
I thank my God every time I remember you. —Philippians 1:3
Thanksgiving Sunday is here, and across our country, pastors are preaching sermons pointing out the need for Christ-followers to be thankful people. As a pastor, I’ve made impassioned pleas for Christ-followers to rise above our culture… to resist the temptation for the holiday season to be simply another opportunity for us to be self-focused and self-indulgent. Thanksgiving isn’t just about eating to the brink of explosion; shopping to the brink of bankruptcy; watching television to the brink of insanity. I’ve tried to make the point that Thanksgiving for a person who loves God can be so much more.
Even so, I discovered in my own life that despite what I’ve preached, I have missed a crucial element in the process of being a thankful follower of Jesus in my own life. I found that over the years I have been mostly thankful for the THINGS in my life; for food, finances, the house I have lived in, the clothes I have worn, and so on. While there’s nothing wrong with being thankful for these things, I have missed the boat on giving thanks for the biggest blessings of God in my life… PEOPLE.
Consider how empty, purposeless, and meaningless our lives would be without relationships. Relationships have shaped who we are and who we are becoming. Without exception, everyone I know has been positively influenced by other people. While it is easy to thank God for the THINGS in our lives, we should remember to be equally thankful for the PEOPLE God has placed in our lives as well!
Let me give you just one example. I am thankful for my Aunt Patty. She had suffered a brain injury when she was a small child severe enough that by the time I was born, she had become mentally disabled. But, when I was a child, she would play games and entertain me for hours. She loved me unconditionally. We would play The Beatles records and pretend to be Paul McCartney and John Lennon. It was her love for music that infected my soul for the rest of my life. I thank God for her!
How about you? Who do you thank God for? Today, take a few moments and thank God for the relationships in your life. Truthfully, it can revolutionize your life. Happy Thanksgiving!
1. Make a list of the people who have shaped your life. Share the list with your friends and family.
2. How easy is it to just thank God for things in your life? How can you live a lifestyle of thankfulness more consistently?
Today‘s Thoughts: Be on God’s Side
The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, set your face against the Ammonites and prophesy against them. Say to them ‘Hear the word of the Sovereign LORD. This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because you said “Aha!” over my sanctuary when it was desecrated and over the land of Israel when it was laid waste and over the people of Judah when they went into exile, therefore I am going to give you to the people of the East as a possession.'” – >Ezekiel 25:1-4
In the first half of the book of Ezekiel, God rebukes His people for their attitudes toward Him. The Lord uses words like stubborn, hard-hearted and rebellious to describe His people. The Lord speaks through Ezekiel and tells the people to understand that their choices come with consequences. If they make good and righteous choices that honor God, they will be blessed. If they make poor and wicked choices that honor themselves, they will be punished. As the story continues, the reader knows what choice the Israelites made because God starts talking about the judgment that is to come upon them.
In Chapters 25-27, God redirects His message and begins proclaiming judgment on the nations that punished the Israelites. God warned His people to turn from their sins and to turn back to Him. They did not heed the warnings and God allowed the other nations to invade Israel (just as He said would happen). But then God judged the nations that came against His people because they did not show respect towards the Lord or towards His people during their captivity. That is amazing.
If you are God’s child, He desires that you walk with Him and love Him with your whole heart. If you do not, you will not lose your salvation but you will have to live with the consequences of making bad choices. Those consequences are usually inflicted upon us by other people. But those people will not get off easy in their unjust deeds and prideful attitudes towards you. They, too, will have to suffer the consequences for how they deal with you, God’s child. God is always on your side. He wants you to walk with Him and He will go out of His way to warn you. God is amazing. I always want to be on His side for He always gets the last word.
Our mission is to evangelize the lost and awaken the saved to live empowered lives by the Work of God and His Holy Spirit. Daily Disciples Ministries makes a difference for the kingdom of God by teaching and training believers how to be in God’s Word, how to pray and how to walk with Jesus every day, as His daily disciple.
Daily Disciples Ministries, Inc.
Grace for the Moment
By Max Lucado
Why Did He Do It?
He gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. – Philippians 2:7
Holiday travel. It isn’t easy. Then why do we do it? Why cram the trunks and endure the airports? You know the answer. We love to be with the ones we love. The four-year-old running up the sidewalk into the arms of Grandpa. The cup of coffee with Mom before the rest of the house awakes. That moment when, for a moment, everyone is quiet as we hold hands around the table and thank God for family and friends and pumpkin pie. We love to be with the ones we love.
May I remind you? So does God. He loves to be with the ones he loves. How else do you explain what he did? Between him and us there was a distance—a great span. And he couldn’t bear it. He couldn’t stand it. So he did something about it. “He gave up his place with God and made himself nothing.”
-From Next Door Savior
© 2000 by Max Lucado
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. – Psalm 62:8
Some people say there are times when we need to forgive God. This implies that God does wrong, which is never true. However, we may find it hard to place faith in God if we’re convinced that He’s let us down.
God is trustworthy, but we don’t always know His mind, His reasons, or His ultimate intentions. We’re prone to misinterpreting His actions in our lives.
Friends, our problem with trusting God doesn’t stem from His untrustworthiness. It stems from our willful, misplaced determination to stand as judges over God Himself–determining right from wrong, good from bad, and better from best.
Yet one thing remains certain: You can trust God infinitely more than you trust yourself. So surrender to His wisdom, love, and mercy, and stop demanding that He act as we see fit.
“It is impossible to go through life without trust; that is to be imprisoned in the worst cell of all, oneself.” -Graham Greene (1904-1991)
The Daily Word of Hope Devotional
Bible Fun Fact: God was a whistler (Isaiah 5:26 and 7:18).
When You Cannot Face the Wind
Now when the south wind blew gently, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, close to the shore. But soon a tempestuous wind, called the northeaster, struck down from the land. And when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along. Acts 27:13 ESV
Paul was now a prisoner and being carried by ship to eventually witness to Caesar, but on the way they were caught in a terrible storm. They could not face the strength of the wind and were driven by the storm for two weeks, completely out of control.
However, they were completely in God’s control because He controlled the wind that drove them. They finally landed on a beach, and the Holy Spirit used Paul to heal all the diseases on the entire island of Malta. They all came to know the Lord. It was just a side trip on his journey.
Sometimes in life we face winds like this, and no amount of prayer, or giving, or crying seems to change our course. Just remember that when a storm blows you off course that God is controlling the direction of the wind. We will be driven right to where God wants us to be.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I know that You control the wind and that this will pass. I will come through this and have a testimony of Your greatness in the name of Jesus I pray.
Note: Happy Sunday to all of you! If you are in need of help though, please always feel welcome to post a prayer requests at our private prayer network. Here is the page: RHM Prayer Network
Freedom and Boundaries
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
November 26, 2017
“Now the serpent was craftier than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden”?'” – Genesis 3:1
God is big on giving man freedom and boundaries-freedom to manage what He has entrusted to us, boundaries to protect us from evil. The boundaries in the Garden of Eden were not set for the purpose of limiting Adam. Man got into trouble when he questioned those boundaries. God had provided everything he would need for life. He also entrusted man with responsibility to manage and work the Garden. God gave him freedom in that responsibility. God knows we were made to express ourselves creatively through our work.
Each of us must have freedom and boundaries in our work life. Whenever you are hired for a job, you must have the freedom to make certain decisions. You must have the authority to manage things within your area of expertise. You must also have limits within your area of responsibility. You need to know where those limits are and stay within them. Both freedom and boundaries are always under the umbrella of God’s authority and our authorities at work.
Jesus understood these boundaries. When He was tempted for 40 days by the devil after being baptized, He was challenged by satan to go outside His freedom and boundaries. (See Matthew 4:1-11.) Satan said that He had the power to turn a stone into bread. Jesus was hungry and easily could have justified using His power to feed Himself. However, Jesus understood He could do nothing outside the boundaries of God’s will for His life. It was God’s will for Jesus to be tempted and to withstand the temptation. God was showing His Son that “man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Mt. 4:4b).
You and I are tempted every day to go beyond our God-ordained boundaries. Whether it is solving financial problems that have arisen through debt, making wrong decisions due to pressure, or manipulating someone in order to achieve our ends, it all represents rebellion toward God.
Ask God to show you His freedom and boundaries for your life. These are meant to enhance your life, not hinder it.
Passion for Praise: ‘Know the Glory of God, Seen in the Face of Jesus Christ!’
You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.