VIDEO The Lord Rejoices – You Are More Loved Than You Could Imagine

[God] will rejoice over you with singing.  Zephaniah 3:17

My grandmother recently sent me a folder full of old photographs, and as I thumbed through them, one caught my eye. In it, I’m two years old, and I’m sitting on one end of a hearth in front of a fireplace. On the other end, my dad has his arm around my mom’s shoulders. Both are gazing at me with expressions of love and delight.

I pinned this photo to my dresser, where I see it every morning. It’s a wonderful reminder of their love for me. The truth is, though, that even the love of good parents is imperfect. I saved this photo because it reminds me that although human love may fail sometimes, God’s love never fails—and according to Scripture, God looks at me the way my parents are looking at me in this picture.

The prophet Zephaniah described this love in a way that astounds me. He describes God as rejoicing over His people with singing. God’s people had not earned this love. They had failed to obey Him or to treat each other with compassion. But Zephaniah promised that in the end, God’s love would prevail over their failures. God would take away their punishment (Zephaniah 3:15), and He would rejoice over them (v. 17). He would gather His people into His arms, bring them home, and restore them (v. 20).

That’s a love worth reflecting on every morning.

By Amy Peterson

Reflect & Pray

How does it make you feel that God rejoices over you with singing? How have you experienced His love?

God, thank You for Your forgiveness and faithful love for us.


John Piper || You Are More Loved Than You Could Imagine

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Prayer for Our President

Pray for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 1 Timothy 2:2

By Dr. Michael Brown – June 23, 2019

 

Did Paula White pray for the reelection of President Trump at the opening of his massive campaign rally in Orlando?

Back in 2008, I heard of a prominent, black, mega-church pastor praying for the election of Barack Obama by name. In other words, he led his congregation in prayer that Senator Obama would become our next president. (Previously, he had prayed the same prayer for the presidential election of Al Gore.)

Did Paula White do the same thing last night? And is this how Christian leaders should pray? Should they pray partisan prayers?

As reported on The Hill, Rev. White’s prayer was quite targeted and bold.

First, she went after the “demonic networks,” saying:

“Let every demonic network that has aligned itself against the purpose, against the calling of President Trump, let it be broken, let it be torn down in the name of Jesus.”

She continued”

“I declare that President Trump will overcome every strategy from hell and every strategy from the enemy.

“I secure his calling, I secure his purpose, I secure his family, and we secure victory in the name which is above every name … the name of Jesus Christ.”

At first glance, this would seem like a totally partisan prayer, including a specific prayer for Trump’s reelection. And to pray it in the name of Jesus would suggest that the Lord Himself is taking political sides. Jesus is now a Republican! (And yes, I’ve heard many a prayer that would suggest that Jesus was a Democrat!)

On the other hand, there are certainly times when the Lord does take political sides. He was surely against slavery and segregation in our past history, and I’m convinced He is against abortion in our day.

At the same time, that doesn’t mean God is siding with a political party or a person. As President Lincoln rightly replied when asked if he thought God was on his side”

“Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”

This is similar to the biblical account involving Joshua, the successor to Moses, as he was about to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land. The first target was the city of Jericho, and the Lord had promised to deliver this city into Joshua’s hands.

We read in Joshua 5:

“Once, when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing before him, drawn sword in hand.

“Joshua went up to him and asked him, ‘Are you one of us or of our enemies?’

“He replied, ‘No, I am captain of the LORD’S host. Now I have come!’

“Joshua threw himself face down to the ground and, prostrating himself, said to him, ‘What does my lord command his servant?’

“The captain of the LORD’S host answered Joshua, ‘Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy.’ And Joshua did so.” (Joshua 5:13–15, NJPS)

So, even when Joshua was about to march out to defeat the city of Jericho at God’s specific command, the captain of God’s angelic army was not on Joshua’s side (or Jericho’s side, obviously). Instead, Joshua needed to align himself with God, to be in harmony with him.

In short, we get on his side. He doesn’t get on our side.

As for White’s prayer for Trump, it could be read as an extremely partisan prayer. (The “demonic networks” will certainly have a field day with her words. On the other hand, they have hardly been godly in their dealings with the president.)

But it’s possible that White was not guaranteeing his reelection as much as saying:

“God, we believe that you raised up Donald Trump to be our president, and therefore we stand against every satanic attack that comes against him in Jesus’ name. And we are declaring by faith that he will accomplish everything you have planned for him.”

Personally, I’m concerned with praying in a way that associates Jesus with a particular party or political leader. But in the end, the way a Christian leader prays is between him or her and God. If they feel that He is leading them to pray a particular way, even for the election of a specific person, that’s their business, and they will give account to Him, not to you or me.

From my perspective, though, I vote according to my convictions but then pray:

“Father, Your will be done for our nation! You put the person in the White House that will be best for our nation in every sense of the word. You know what we need and You know what You want to do. So Father, I pray Your will would be done and your kingdom would come and that You would be glorified!”

For those already in office, I pray that that they will truly come to know the Lord and conduct themselves in a way that honors Him. And I pray that we will be able to spread the Lord’s message freely (as per 1 Timothy 2:1-4).

Beyond that, I don’t presume to know what His specific plan is.

He may choose to raise up an ungodly leader to judge the nation or to awaken the Church.

Or He may choose to raise up a godly leader to bless the nation or test the Church. (Will we put our trust in that leader or in the Lord?)

Without a doubt, the next 18 months will be some of the most divisive in our history.

Can all believers agree to pray:

“Heavenly Father, Your will be done in the 2020 elections! And Your will be done in us! Conform us to the image and character of Jesus!”

Can we agree as Christians to pray like that with one united voice?

Original here

 

God Knows Our Needs

Philippians 4:10-19

Today’s passage presents an interesting paradox. Paul promises the Philippians that God will supply all their needs (Phil. 4:19) yet admits that he has experienced times of want (Phil. 4:12). To reconcile these two statements, let’s consider God’s divine viewpoint.

Paul wrote these words from a prison cell, a place of great physical distress. From a human perspective, we might all agree that God should have provided for the apostle by relieving his suffering. But instead, the Lord taught him contentment in this difficult situation. Although his physical discomfort remained, a greater need—for a changed attitude—was met.

A change of heart toward ongoing suffering is a huge challenge. On our own, it’s impossible, but the Lord promises to strengthen us through Christ. By living in dependence and submission to Him, we gain His power to overcome our negative, sinful attitudes and learn contentment in all kinds of situations.

Our problem is not that the Lord won’t provide for us, but that we so often fail to understand what our deepest needs are. God sees from an unlimited perspective and works for our eternal good, providing for us according to His good purposes from the limitless supply of “His riches in glory” (Phil. 4:19).

Instead of pleading with God to take away your difficulty, ask Him for strength and a new perspective. Although He may not always deliver you from trials, you can count on Him to help you learn contentment, no matter what your external needs may be.

Elisha’s Bears, oh my

“And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.” (2 Kings 2:23-24)

This account has occasioned much criticism by skeptics, charging Elisha with petulant cruelty in sending bears to kill the little children who were taunting him. Actually, it was God who sent the bears, not Elisha.

The fact is, however, that Elisha did not curse little children at all. The Hebrew word for “children” used with the phrase “little children” can be applied to any child from infancy to adolescence. The word for the 42 “children” torn by the bears, however, is a different word commonly translated “young men.” Actually, both words are used more often for young men than for little children.

The situation evidently involved a gang of young hoodlums of various ages, led by the older ones, with all of them no doubt instigated by the pagan priests and idolatrous citizens of Bethel. The bears that suddenly emerged from the woods “tare” (not necessarily fatally in all cases) 42 of the older hooligans.

The jeering exhortation to “go up, thou bald head” was both a sarcastic reference to Elijah’s supposed ascension, as well as an insult to God’s prophet. This was actually a challenge to God and could not be excused. So, God made good—in miniature—on a warning issued long before: “And if ye walk contrary unto me. . . . I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children” (Leviticus 26:21-22). It can be a dangerous thing, for young or old, to gratuitously insult the true God and His Word. HMM

Busy, Busy, Busy, Just Too Busy

For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

—Psalm 51:16-17

There is all around us, however, a very evident and continuing substitute for worship. I speak of the compelling temptation among Christian believers to be constantly engaged, during every waking hour, in religious activity.

We cannot deny that it is definitely a churchly idea of service. Many of our sermons and much of our contemporary ecclesiastical teaching lean toward the idea that it is surely God’s plan for us to be busy, busy, busy—because it is the best cause in the world in which we are involved.

But if there is any honesty left in us, it persuades us in our quieter moments that true spiritual worship is at a discouragingly low ebb among professing Christians.

Do we dare ask how we have reached this state?…

How can our approach to worship be any more vital than it is when so many who lead us, both in the pulpit and in the pew, give little indication that the fellowship of God is delightful beyond telling?   WHT026-027

Oh Lord, forgive me for so often falling into the “busy, busy, busy” trap. Help me to demonstrate that “the fellowship of God is delightful beyond telling.” Amen.

 

Behold the fowls of the air… the lilies of the field

Behold the fowls of the air… consider the lilies of the field.—Matthew 6:26, 28.

 

I was in the act of kneeling down before the Lord my God, when a little bird came and perched near my window and thus preached to me: “O thou grave man, look on me, and learn something, if not the deepest lesson, then a true one. Thy God made me and the like of me; and, if thou canst conceive it, loves me and cares for me. Thou studiest Him in great problems, which oppress and confound thee: thou losest sight of one half of His ways. Learn to see thy God not in great mysteries only, but in me also. His burden on me is light, His yoke on me is easy; but thou makest burdens and yokes for thyself which are very grievous to be borne. Things deep as Hell and high as Heaven thou considerest overmuch; but thou dost not consider the lilies’ sufficiently. If thou couldst be as a lily before God, for at least one hour in the twenty-four, it would do thee good: I mean, if thou couldst cease to will and to think, and be only. Consider, the lily is as really from God as thou art, and is a figure of something in Him—the like of which should also be in thee. Thou longest to grow, but the lily grows without longing; yes, without even thinking or willing, grows and is beautiful both to God and man.”

John Pulsford.

 

Enemy Firsthand

“Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it.” 2Kings 19:32

Neither did Sennacherib molest the city. He had boasted loudly, but he could not carry out his threats. The Lord is able to stop the enemies of His people in the very act. When the lion has the lamb between his jaws, the great Shepherd of the sheep can rob him of his prey. Our extremity only provides an opportunity for a grander display of divine power and wisdom.

In the case before us, the terrible foe did not put in an appearance before the city which he thirsted to destroy. No annoying arrow could he shoot over the walls, and no besieging engines could he put to work to batter down the castles, and no banks could he cast up to shut in the inhabitants. Perhaps in our case also the Lord will prevent our adversaries from doing us the least harm. Certainly He can alter their intentions, or render their designs so abortive that they will gladly forego them. Let us trust in the Lord and keep His way, and He will take care of us. Yea, He will fill us with wondering praise as we see the perfection of His deliverance.

Let us not fear the enemy till he actually come, and then let us trust in the Lord.