TODAY’S DAILY PRAYER
But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 4:29, NIV
Lord our God, we seek your face and long to find you. May we find you as your people found you in times past when you drew near with many signs and miracles. May our hearts come before you in awe and trust and draw their strength from you. May many in our time seek you and receive your comfort and help, for you provide strength and courage for the poor and destitute, for the suffering and the dying. Do not let our age pass by in vain, O great and almighty God. A new time must surely come, a new day must be born from this present age. This is your will, and in your will we trust. Amen.
Verse of the Day
Thoughts on Today’s Verse…
Deliverance does come from the LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, our Father. So we ask him to bless us with his richest and greatest blessings. But, he has already given his people the very greatest blessing, the gift of his Son. Now if we will only acknowlege and appreciate that blessing.
Thank you, O God, for the salvation you have given me in Jesus. Use me to spread this blessing to others so that the people I know and love will come to know your Son as their Savior and Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
BIBLE STUDY BUDDY
In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18. In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 20. So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21. for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. 22. Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!23. For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24. and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ”This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25. In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ”This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26. For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.27. So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31. But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32. Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.33. So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. 34. Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment. And when I come I will give further directions.
1 Corinthians 11:34
v23-34 The apostle describes the sacred ordinance, of which he had the knowledge by revelation from Christ. As to the visible signs, these are the bread and wine. What is eaten is called bread, though at the same time it is said to be the body of the Lord, plainly showing that the apostle did not mean that the bread was changed into flesh. St. Matthew tells us, our Lord bid them all drink of the cup, ch. Mt 26:27, as if he would, by this expression, provide against any believer being deprived of the cup. The things signified by these outward signs, are Christ’s body and blood, his body broken, his blood shed, together with all the benefits which flow from his death and sacrifice. Our Saviour’s actions were, taking the bread and cup, giving thanks, breaking the bread, and giving both the one and the other. The actions of the communicants were, to take the bread and eat, to take the cup and drink, and to do both in remembrance of Christ. But the outward acts are not the whole, or the principal part, of what is to be done at this holy ordinance. Those who partake of it, are to take him as their Lord and Life, yield themselves up to him, and live upon him. Here is an account of the ends of this ordinance. It is to be done in remembrance of Christ, to keep fresh in our minds his dying for us, as well as to remember Christ pleading for us, in virtue of his death, at God’s right hand. It is not merely in remembrance of Christ, of what he has done and suffered; but to celebrate his grace in our redemption. We declare his death to be our life, the spring of all our comforts and hopes. And we glory in such a declaration; we show forth his death, and plead it as our accepted sacrifice and ransom. The Lord’s supper is not an ordinance to be observed merely for a time, but to be continued. The apostle lays before the Corinthians the danger of receiving it with an unsuitable temper of mind; or keeping up the covenant with sin and death, while professing to renew and confirm the covenant with God. No doubt such incur great guilt, and so render themselves liable to spiritual judgements. But fearful believers should not be discouraged from attending at this holy ordinance. The Holy Spirit never caused this scripture to be written to deter serious Christians from their duty, though the devil has often made this use of it. The apostle was addressing Christians, and warning them to beware of the temporal judgements with which God chastised his offending servants. And in the midst of judgement, God remembers mercy: he many times punishes those whom he loves. It is better to bear trouble in this world, than to be miserable for ever. The apostle points our the duty of those who come to the Lord’s table. Self-examination is necessary to right attendance at this holy ordinance. If we would thoroughly search ourselves, to condemn and set right what we find wrong, we should stop Divine judgements. The apostle closes all with a caution against the irregularities of which the Corinthians were guilty at the Lord’s table. Let all look to it, that they do not come together to God’s worship, so as to provoke him, and bring down vengeance on themselves.
To Be Clean Is To Be One…
In Makhachkala, a city in southern Russia, 14 new believers and some missionaries gathered in a small apartment to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. The room was charged with spiritual energy and joy as the people shared in testimonies, songs, and prayers.
Then, being aware of the symbolic meaning of the bread and the cup, they looked at each other and whispered, ”With this we are cleansed. With this we are one!” Being reminded again of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross for them and the forgiveness they had received, they felt a new sense of their oneness in Christ.
The apostle Paul said that the Corinthian believers were not experiencing this unifying power. Their celebrations of the Lord’s Supper were characterized by divisions. People who had brought food were letting those with no food go hungry. Some were even getting drunk! (1 Cor. 11:21). So Paul warned the people and urged them to examine themselves (v.28).
Nothing unites believers more than the forgiveness Jesus provided when He died for our sins. No wonder He instituted a special Supper before He went to the cross. He knew we would need to be reminded often of what He did to make us clean- to make us one.
Turning Christmas Chaos into Christmas Joy
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen which were just as they had been told (Luke 2:16-20, NIV).
Friend to Friend
According to the American Institute of Stress, more than 110 million Americans take medication for stress-related causes each week. During the holiday season, another one million people battle what experts refer to as the holiday blues.
I am very familiar with depression and the pain it holds and must constantly battle to stay out of that pit.
To deal with depression, we must first come to a place of total surrender to God and His plan of healing, even if we cannot see or understand that plan. The bottom line of God’s heart toward His children is always restoration and healing.
While I am not a big fan of television, I do enjoy watching home improvement shows. On a recent program, an interior decorator and homeowner were discussing a list of changes that needed to be made in order to update the home.
“First, we have to do something about those windows,” the decorator announced. I was surprised that she listed this task first – until I saw the house.
The existing glass was not only an ugly shade of gold, but it was thick and chunky as well. The windows let in no light and made it virtually impossible to see in or out. The result was a dark isolated home. The distressed homeowner protested, “But I like my privacy. And if I thought anyone could see in, I would feel totally exposed.” When it comes to dealing with depression, many people feel the same way.
We construct walls over which no one can climb because the cost of friendship is too high. We fill the windows of our soul with emotional excuses in order to avoid dealing with pain. The result is darkness, loneliness, and missed opportunities for restoration. We don’t want to understand depression or find the treasures of that darkness; we simply want to be rid of it.
Many people try to understand and deal with depression on a surface level – refusing to face painful experiences, difficult relationships, and the broken places where darkness lives. We look for the nearest exit, hoping to bypass transparency because the price is just too high to pay.
Emotional integrity is an essential step to dealing with depression. We must be real before we can be right. Until we are willing to risk being transparent, we can neither understand nor effectively deal with depression during the holidays or any other time of the year.
The holidays seem to tug at the masks we carefully hold in place and push the emotional buttons we desperately try to hide. The arrival of certain family members can resurrect painful issues that have never really been resolved. Financial pressure opens up like a sinkhole, waiting to steal our joy and destroy our peace. Schedules demand every ounce of energy, and false expectations leave us empty and hollow. The dark slimy pit waits for us to fall in.
We can choose to make this Christmas different. Choose to give God praise. Choose to focus on the victories and joys you have experienced during the year, and then find ways to share that victory and joy with others.
Christmas can be a true celebration of fresh starts and new beginnings if we choose to focus on a tiny baby born in a manger, come to save us and give us true life. The darkness can be destroyed if we choose to face and deal with whatever it holds.
Right now, choose an attitude of joy by focusing your mind on the things of heaven– not earth, and by fixing your heart on Jesus Christ. Your Christmas chaos will turn into Christmas joy!
Father, I want this holiday season to be filled with light instead of darkness. Please help me discard my emotional masks and be real before You as well as my family and friends. Father, help me make this holiday season an offering of praise to You.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Read Luke 2:1-16. Answer the following questions after reading the Christmas story.
- What was the attitude of Mary and Joseph as they traveled to Bethlehem?
- How did the shepherds react to the news of Jesus’ birth? What did they do?
- How would you describe the emotions and thoughts of Mary?
- How can your choice to “ponder” the miracles of Jesus’ birth change your perspective of the holidays?
Write a letter of commitment to Jesus, asking Him to empower the choices you have made. Make a plan or a list of “dos” and “don’ts” that will help you experience the best holiday season of your life. Include your family in making this plan, and make the commitment to hold each other accountable.
For this our light and transitory burden of suffering is achieving for us a weight of glory (2 Cor. 4:17). (Weymouth)
The question is repeatedly asked–Why is the life of man drenched with so much blood, and blistered with so many tears? The answer is to be found in the word “achieving”; these things are achieving for us something precious. They are teaching us not only the way to victory, but better still the laws of victory. There is a compensation in every sorrow, and the sorrow is working out the compensation. It is the cry of the dear old hymn:
“Nearer my God to Thee, nearer to Thee,
E’en tho’ it be a cross that raiseth me.”
Joy sometimes needs pain to give it birth. Fanny Crosby could never have written her beautiful hymn, “I shall see Him face to face,” were it not for the fact that she had never looked upon the green fields nor the evening sunset nor the kindly twinkle in her mother’s eye. It was the loss of her own vision that helped her to gain her remarkable spiritual discernment.
It is comforting to know that sorrow tarries only for the night; it takes its leave in the morning. A thunderstorm is very brief when put alongside the long summer day. “Weeping may endure for the night but joy cometh in the morning.”
–Songs in the Night
There is a peace that cometh after sorrow,
Of hope surrendered, not of hope fulfilled;
A peace that looketh not upon tomorrow,
But calmly on a tempest that it stilled.
A peace that lives not now in joy’s excesses,
Nor in the happy life of love secure;
But in the unerring strength the heart possesses,
Of conflicts won while learning to endure.
A peace there is, in sacrifice secluded,
A life subdued, from will and passion free;
‘Tis not the peace that over Eden brooded,
But that which triumphed in Gethsemane.
For this shall every one that is godly pray unto Thee in a time when Thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.–PS. xxxii. 6.
Be not o’ermastered by thy pain,
But cling to God, thou shall not fall;
The floods sweep over thee in vain,
Thou yet shall rise above them all;
For when thy trial seems too hard to bear,
Lo! God, thy King, hath granted all thy prayer:
Be thou content.
It is the Lord’s mercy, to give thee breathings after life, and cries unto Him against that which oppresseth thee; and happy wilt thou be, when He shall fill thy soul with that which He hath given thee to breathe after. Be not troubled; for if troubles abound, and there be tossing, and storms, and tempests, and no peace, nor anything visible left to support; yet, lie still, and sink beneath, till a secret hope stir, which will stay the heart in the midst of all these; until the Lord administer comfort, who knows how and what relief to give to the weary traveller, that knows not where it is, nor which way to look, nor where to expect a path.
Key #5 to Effective Prayer—Endurance
The next key to effective prayer is the need to be patient. You need to be willing to endure.
Hebrews 6:11-15 says,
And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.” And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.
Do you realize that once God gave Abraham and Sarah the promise of having a child, it was 25 years before Isaac was born? There was some patient enduring that took place before they obtained the reality of God’s promise in their lives. And so it must be with us.
Perhaps you have been praying for things in your life, and you are getting discouraged. You must remember that God does not always work things on our timetable. He works according to His.
I just want to encourage you today: Be patient. Patience is that long-lasting quality of your faith.
A number of years ago I heard one person say that faith is like your hand and patience is like your arm. When you exercise faith, it is like holding up your hand against the problem, and as you do, things are being worked out. But if you take your patience down, your faith comes down with it.
Patience is the thing that keeps your faith applied until the answer comes.
Patience is a critical key to effective prayer. Whatever you are praying for, patiently endure.
Scriptures: Matthew 7:1-5
Teenagers get a bum rap. Always have. For some reason, if you’re between twelve and twenty, you’re suspect. Cops stare and senior citizens glare. Why? Well…
You drive too fast, you think too slow, you aren’t responsible, and you can’t be trusted. The music you listen to is wild-n-wicked, the stuff you read is shallow or sleazy, the places you go are loud and low class. Your clothes are wrinkled, your room’s a wreck, your car’s a god, your friends are cheap, your ghetto blaster’s too big, and your work is sloppy. And dare I mention manners? You talk with your mouth full, you slump and slurp, you don’t look people in the eye, you treat your brother and sister like they have leprosy in the advanced stages, and you belch like there’s no tomorrow. You’re allergic to things like homework, dirty dishes, elevator music, vacations with the family, hanging up the phone, saying “Thank you,” the “off” switch on the TV, getting up in the morning, and going to bed at night.
If you’ve got a few bucks, you’re probably dealing drugs. If you’re interested in church, it’s probably because there’s some fox you’re lookin’ at. If you date a lot, you’re probably messing around. If you don’t come home when you said you would, you’re probably where you shouldn’t be. If you’re not into the preppy Joe College scene, you probably have no ambition. And if you don’t get a job, you’re a slob. If you smile real big, you’re up to something. If you frown at times, you’ve got a rotten attitude. If you cough a lot, you’ve been smoking pot, and if you weave out of your lane, you’re obviously drunk.
Getting weary of all this? So are they. Having reared four of them and having talked with hundreds of others, I can tell you they frequently feel “I can’t win.” There are exceptions, I realize, but by and large, the teens of today are loaded with talent, have incredible potential, and whenever they get their rears in gear, can accomplish phenomenal feats.
I played a little ball in high school, but never in all those years did I ever meet, read about, or hear of another athlete who could come close to the raw skill of teenagers I see on tennis courts, basketball courts, and gridirons (not to mention the Olympics). I was involved for two years on the drama and debate teams, but the natural talent I see among teenaged actors, actresses, and public speakers today is enough to make me shake my head in amazement. These kids are unreal! And unless you are really into electronics, don’t try to fool ’em with computer talk and don’t try to beat ’em in video games. And if they get turned on spiritually . . . their level of zeal and joy is somewhere between maxi and mega.
Okay, okay, so they’re not there when it comes to the finer things in life (were you?). Or finishing what they start (did you?). Or seeing the pitfalls ahead of them (could you?). Or being grateful, thoughtful, unselfish, and responsible. But what they may lack in those areas, they make up for in saying what they really think, giving themselves to what they really believe in, and surviving a jungle-like obstacle course of intense peer pressure, parental nagging, and teacher harassing.
Frankly, I’m crazy about teenagers. With all their imperfections, I appreciate their gut-level honesty. (Have you noticed? They can spot a religious phony a block away.) I also admire their resilience amidst the disillusionment of parents who split up, and I applaud their effort to stay morally pure while wading through the cesspool of magazine racks, lurid rock concerts, movies full of lust and profanity, and late-night cable TV. What surprises me is that more aren’t delinquent.
And before you and I get smug, let’s do a little remembering back when we were in our teens. I’m convinced that by the time I got out of high school, I’d gone through five, maybe six, guardian angels. Scripture says that heaven rejoices when one sinner repents. For the longest time I’ve had this secret theory that Michael and Gabriel threw a series of celestial parties when some of us turned twenty. I mean, you and I weren’t exactly Buffy and Jody at Happy Days High. Which reminds me of a piece that came from the oldest seafood place in Philadelphia. While you’re waiting for your lobster, this provides food for thought.
Who Is to Blame?
We read it in the papers and hear it on the air
of killing and stealing and crime everywhere.
We sigh and we say as we notice the trend,
“This young generation . . . where will it end?”
But can we be sure that it’s their fault alone?
Are we less guilty, who place in their way
too many things that lead them astray?
Too much money, too much idle time;
Too many movies of passion and crime.
Too many books not fit to be read
Too much evil in what they hear said.
Too many children encouraged to roam
Too many parents who won’t stay home.
Kids don’t make the movies, they don’t write the books
They don’t paint the pictures of gangsters and crooks.
They don’t make the liquor, they don’t run the bars,
They don’t change the laws, and they don’t make the cars.
They don’t peddle the drugs that muddle the brain;
That’s all done by older folks . . . eager for gain.
Delinquent teenagers; oh how we condemn
The sins of the nation and blame it on them.
By the laws of the blameless, the Savior made known
Who is there among us to cast the first stone?
For in so many cases–it’s sad but it’s true–
The title “Delinquent” fits older folks too!
I love teenagers. I appreciate their gut-level honesty and admire their resilience.
— Charles R. Swindoll
From Grace Happens HereTM
by Max Lucado
God Uses People Like You and Me
God changes the world with folks like you.
Just ask the twenty-two people who traveled to London on a fall morning in 2009 to thank Nicholas Winton. They could have passed for a retirement-home social club. All were in their seventies or eighties. More gray hair than not. More shuffled steps than quick ones.
But this was no social trip. It was a journey of gratitude. They came to thank the man who had saved their lives: a stooped centenarian who met them on a train platform just as he had in 1939.
He was a twenty-nine-year-old stockbroker at the time. Hitler’s armies were ravaging the nation of Czechoslovakia, tearing Jewish families apart and marching parents to concentration camps. No one was caring for the children. Winton got wind of their plight and resolved to help them. He used his vacation to travel to Prague, where he met parents who, incredibly, were willing to entrust their children’s future to his care. After returning to England, he worked his regular job on the stock exchange by day and advocated for the children at night. He convinced Great Britain to permit their entry. He found foster homes and raised funds. Then he scheduled his first transport on March 14, 1939, and accomplished seven more over the next five months. His last trainload of children arrived on August 2, bringing the total of rescued children to 669.
On September 1, the biggest transport was to take place, but Hitler invaded Poland, and Germany closed borders throughout Europe. None of the 250 children on that train were ever seen again.
After the war Winton didn’t tell anyone of his rescue efforts, not even his wife. In 1988 she found a scrapbook in their attic with all the children’s photos and a complete list of names. She prodded him to tell the story. As he has, rescued children have returned to say thank you. The grateful group includes a film director, a Canadian journalist, a news correspondent, a former minister in the British cabinet, a magazine manager, and one of the founders of the Israeli Air Force. There are some seven thousand children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who owe their existence to Winton’s bravery. He wears a ring given to him by some of the children he saved. It bears a line from the Talmud, the book of Jewish law: “Save one life. Save the world.”
—From Outlive Your Life
©Grace Happens Here 2012 by Max Lucado
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. – >Romans 12:11-12
In his lifetime Vincent Van Gogh sold only one painting. Today he’s known for his passion and artistic genius. And he’s remembered as a lonely soul. In a letter to his beloved brother, Theo, Vincent wrote:
“Our inward thoughts, do they ever show outwardly? There may be a great fire in our soul, and no one ever comes to warm himself at it; the passers-by see only a little bit of smoke coming through the chimney, and pass on their way. Now, look you, what must be done? Must one tend that inward fire, have salt in oneself, wait patiently yet with how much impatience for the hour when somebody will come and sit down near it–to stay there maybe?”
What great fire has God impressed upon your soul? Do passers-by see more than just a little bit of smoke? Are you tending the fire?
Van Gogh expressed his passion in his art. Look for the best expression of your passion that will honor and glorify God.
“The passions are the winds that fill the ship’s sails. Sometimes they submerge the ship, but without them the ship could not sail.” – Voltaire (1694-1778)
The Daily Word of Hope Devotional
Bible Fun Fact: The visit of the wise men took place about two years after Jesus was born.
The Bumpy Road
But Ruth said, Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. Ruth 1:16 ESV
Ruth walked along the road thinking about what had recently happened. Her husband had died, her father-in-law had died, and her brother-in-law as well. Now it was just her and Naomi her mother-in-law, and they were penniless.
Naomi urged Ruth to turn back and go home to her family, but Ruth clung to her. Ruth told Naomi, ‘Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay.’ Even though much hardship lay before them, that is where Ruth’s destiny was. God blessed Ruth after this, and she is in the lineage of Jesus.
Sometimes we find that our destiny lies down the difficult path, and while on the way we are given a choice to turn back. Many turned back from following Jesus. Stay the course. God will fulfill His promises to you just as He did with Ruth, though it can be a bumpy road along the way.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to see the path that You have for me clearly. Please give me the grace to face this time and victory over those that would harm me, in the name of Jesus I pray.
Passion for Praise: ‘Compassion and Mercy’
Saturday, December 9, 2017