He…wondered that there was no intercessor… —Isaiah 59:16
The reason many of us stop praying and become hard toward God is that we only have an emotional interest in prayer. It sounds good to say that we pray, and we read books on prayer which tell us that prayer is beneficial— that our minds are quieted and our souls are uplifted when we pray. But Isaiah implied in this verse that God is amazed at such thoughts about prayer.
Worship and intercession must go together; one is impossible without the other. Intercession means raising ourselves up to the point of getting the mind of Christ regarding the person for whom we are praying (see Philippians 2:5). Instead of worshiping God, we recite speeches to God about how prayer is supposed to work. Are we worshiping God or disputing Him when we say, “But God, I just don’t see how you are going to do this”? This is a sure sign that we are not worshiping. When we lose sight of God, we become hard and dogmatic. We throw our petitions at His throne and dictate to Him what we want Him to do. We don’t worship God, nor do we seek to conform our minds to the mind of Christ. And if we are hard toward God, we will become hard toward other people.
Are we worshiping God in a way that will raise us up to where we can take hold of Him, having such intimate contact with Him that we know His mind about the ones for whom we pray? Are we living in a holy relationship with God, or have we become hard and dogmatic?
Do you find yourself thinking that there is no one interceding properly? Then be that person yourself. Be a person who worships God and lives in a holy relationship with Him. Get involved in the real work of intercession, remembering that it truly is work— work that demands all your energy, but work which has no hidden pitfalls. Preaching the gospel has its share of pitfalls, but intercessory prayer has none whatsoever.
WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS
The Bible is the only Book that gives us any indication of the true nature of sin, and where it came from. The Philosophy of Sin, 1107 R
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory . . . sustaining all things by his powerful word. Hebrews 1:3
Working with a magnifying glass and tweezers, Swiss watchmaker Phillipe meticulously explained to me how he takes apart, cleans, and reassembles the tiny parts of specialty mechanical watches. Looking at all the intricate pieces, Phillipe showed me the essential component of the timepiece, the mainspring. The mainspring is the component that moves all the gears to allow the watch to keep time. Without it, even the most expertly designed watch will not function.
In a beautiful New Testament passage found in the book of Hebrews, the writer eloquently praises Jesus for being the one through whom God created the heavens and the earth. Like the intricacy of a specialty watch, every detail of our universe was created by Jesus (Hebrews 1:2). From the vastness of the solar system to the uniqueness of our fingerprints, all things were made by Him.
But more than the Creator, Jesus, like a clock’s mainspring, is essential for the function and flourishing of creation. His presence continually “[sustains] all things by his powerful word” (v. 3), keeping all that He has created working together in all its amazing complexity.
As you have opportunity to experience the beauty of creation today, remember that “in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). May the recognition of Jesus’s central role in both creating and sustaining the universe result in a joyful heart and a response of praise as we acknowledge His ongoing provision for us.
By Lisa M. Samra
What in God’s creation has caused you to worship Him? Why?
Scripture repeatedly admonishes us to trust in the Lord. When times are good, this doesn’t seem difficult. However, when trials arise, it is much harder to rely fully upon Him.
Yet it is always important for us to place our trust in the living God, especially when everything around us seems to be falling apart. This may well have been the situation that inspired the writing of Psalm 37.
In today’s passage, David mentions several times that we should not fret (vv. 1, 7, 8). Distress over a situation is the opposite of trust, and fretting has ill effects. For one thing, it can take a toll on physical and emotional well-being. Another problem is that feeding worry can lead to wrongdoing. And by attempting to resolve the situation quickly in our human way, we may miss God’s best solution. Yet another consequence is that our angst may undermine our witness for the kingdom because we will not be reflecting God’s peace in all that we do.
What, then, is the antidote for worry and stress during a difficult time? Absolute trust in Christ. Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” This means we are to lay all our burdens at His feet, believing that He is good, loving, and in control.
When trials arise, do you run toward the Lord? Or do you try to handle things yourself? He who created you can handle any difficulty and pain, even when it seems overwhelming. What He desires is your surrender and trust. It is in His arms that you will find rest for your soul.
“If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed.” (2 John 1:10)
This apparently harsh instruction seems at first to conflict with the many biblical exhortations to show hospitality, but it needs to be placed in context. The one-chapter epistle of 2 John was addressed to “the elect lady and her children” by John, who also extended greetings from “the children of thy elect sister” (vv. 1, 13). These unusual phrases, together with the general tone of the epistle, make it almost certain that John was not referring simply to two individual Christian women, but to two churches, symbolically personified as two noble ladies with the “children” being the new converts in the churches.
The warning, then, is primarily against the danger of allowing a false teacher to come into the church, as a pastor or a teacher or even as a visiting speaker, who would not bring “this doctrine.” The doctrine mentioned is obviously “the doctrine of Christ” (v. 9). This doctrine of Christ is not, however, simply a set of doctrinal tenets about the person and work of Jesus Christ. It is not the doctrine about Christ, but of Christ—belonging to Him—His doctrine. The word “doctrine” is didache, meaning literally “teachings.” The meaning clearly is “the teachings of Christ,” that is, not just one or two least-common-denominator statements about Christ to which all nominal Christians could give assent, but the entire body of teachings that had come from Jesus.
Further, since He taught that all the Old Testament is inspired and authoritative and also promised the same to the writers of the New Testament, this “doctrine of Christ” includes “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), from Genesis through Revelation. How important it is not to allow false teaching to get a foothold in a local church. HMM
Thou therefore endure hard—ness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
—2 Timothy 2:3-4
Save me from the error of judging a church by its size, its popularity or the amount of its yearly offering. Help me to remember that I am a prophet—not a promoter, not a religious manager, but a prophet. Let me never become a slave to crowds. Heal my soul of carnal ambitions and deliver me from the itch for publicity. Save me from bondage to things. Let me not waste my days puttering around the house. Lay Thy terror upon me, O God, and drive me to the place of prayer where I may wrestle with principalities and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world. Deliver me from overeating and late sleeping. Teach me self-discipline that I may be a good soldier of Jesus Christ….
And now, O Lord of heaven and earth, I consecrate my remaining days to Thee; let them be many or few, as Thou wilt. Let me stand before the great or minister to the poor and lowly; that choice is not mine, and I would not influence it if I could. I am Thy servant to do Thy will, and that will is sweeter to me than position or riches or fame and I choose it above all things on earth or in heaven. GTM105-106
Enable me by your Holy Spirit to make this prayer genuinely mine. Amen.
He died for all, that they, which live, should no longer live unto themselves, but unto Him who for their sakes died and rose again.—2 Corinthians 5:15 (R. V.).
I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.—John 16:22.
Then let thy life through all its ways
One long thanksgiving be,
Its theme of joy, its song of praise,
“Christ died, and rose for me.”
J. B. S. Monsell.
If you come to seek His face, not in the empty sepulcher, but in the living power of His presence, as indeed realizing that He has finished His glorious work, and is alive for-evermore, then your hearts will be full of true Easter joy, and that joy will shed itself abroad in your homes, And let your joy not end with the hymns and the prayers and the communions in His house. Take with you the joy of Easter to the home, and make that home bright with more unselfish love, more hearty service; take it into your work, and do all in the name of the Lord Jesus; take it to your heart, and let that heart rise anew on Easter wings to a higher, a gladder, a fuller life; take it to the dear grave-side and say there the two words “Jesus lives!” and find in them the secret of calm expectation, the hope of eternal reunion.
“Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:6, 7
No care, but all prayer. No anxiety, but much joyful communion with God. Carry your desires to the Lord of your life, the guardian of your soul. Go to Him with two portions of prayer, and one of fragrant praise. Do not pray doubtfully, but thankfully. Consider that you have your petitions, and therefore thank God for His grace. He is giving you grace, give Him thanks. Hide nothing. Allow no want to lie rankling in your bosom; “make known your requests.” Run not to man. Go only to your God, the Father of Jesus, who loves you in Him.
This shall bring you God’s own peace. You shall not be able to understand the peace which you shall enjoy. It will enfold you in its infinite embrace. Heart and mind through Christ Jesus shall be steeped in a sea of rest. Come life or death, poverty, pain, slander, you shall dwell in Jesus above every ruffling wind or darkening cloud. Will you not obey this dear command?
Yes, Lord, I do believe thee; but, I beseech thee, help mine unbelief.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:58
Paul’s letter to the people at Corinth was an exhortation to remain steadfast. The church in Corinth was an undisciplined church, and he was letting them know that even though the culture around them was in flux, their faith in Jesus Christ needed to remain focused and sure. It is true for us today also. How can we remain steadfast in our faith and avoid the pressures of this ever-changing world? By devoting time each day to the study of God’s Word.
As we read the Bible and immerse ourselves in God’s truth and character, our lives are changed—we become more like Him. God’s Word is a powerful litmus test for our souls and actions. As our lives center on God, giving priority to hearing His voice and reading His Word, we become bolder in sharing our faith.
Joshua had the confidence and courage to lead God’s people into the Promised Land because He believed in God’s promise and presence. We serve the same God who said: “And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8).
You can place your steadfast trust in Him.
When we find a man meditating on the words of God, my friends, that man is full of boldness and is successful. Dwight L. Moody
The Mystery of Resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:50-58)
In the summer of 2015, a group from our church was sobered by what we saw in Mathare, one of the slums in Nairobi, Kenya. We visited a school with dirt floors, rusting metal walls, and wooden benches. But against the backdrop of extremely humble surroundings, one person stood out.
Her name was Brilliant, and the name couldn’t have fit her better. She was an elementary school teacher who possessed joy and determination that matched her mission. Colorfully dressed, her appearance and the joy with which she instructed and encouraged the children were stunning.
The bright light Brilliant brought to her surroundings resembles the way Christians in Philippi were to be positioned in their world when Paul wrote to them in the first century. Against the background of a spiritually needy world, believers in the Lord Jesus were to shine “like stars in the sky” (Philippians 2:15). Our assignment hasn’t changed. Bright lights are needed everywhere! How encouraging it is to know that through the One “who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (v. 13) believers in Jesus can sparkle in ways that fit Jesus’s description of those who follow Him. To us He still says, “You are the light of the world. . . . Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14–16).
By Arthur Jackson
How can you reveal the light of Christ to others? What can you do to bring His joy to those who desperately need it?
Churches are filled with believers who have a go-go-go attitude. Serve in this way! Go on that mission! Teach a class! Lead worship! These are good things, but the activity of doing can overshadow the power of being and get us off track.
Today’s passage offers a perfect picture of this “doing versus being” dichotomy, as it reveals Martha and Mary’s unique responses to Jesus’ visit. We immediately see that Martha is the doer. She runs around, cleaning, making the meal, and operating in a whirlwind of activity. Mary, however, is more concerned with simply being—she wants to be near Jesus and absorb every moment of His presence.
Neither sister was necessarily wrong in her response. Martha is often looked down upon in this scene, but the truth is, her heart was in the right place in wanting to meet the needs of her Master. She was going about the ministry, while Mary was engaged in worship.
In His rebuke of Martha in Luke 10:41-42, Jesus never said Martha was wrong for what she was doing; He said only that her busyness wasn’t the best thing at the moment. This interaction is a message for the church, as the Lord calls us first to honor Him. Only then—once we are fueled by His Spirit and an intimate encounter with God—are we best prepared to go about the activity of ministry.
The church needs both Marthas and Marys. Thinking about whom you identify with more, ask, Do I keep an intimate relationship with God in the midst of my activity? Do I allow private worship to fuel my ministry fire?
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