VIDEO Refreshed by Prayer

Now it came to pass in those days that [Jesus] went out to the mountain to pray and continued all night in prayer to God. Luke 6:12

Life is marked by events, and our life is lived either in anticipation of those events (looking to the future) or in reflection upon them (looking to the past). In either situation, stress is a possibility. We may be concerned about what is coming, or we may be exhausted by what has happened.

Prayer can be a sure way of relieving stress. David poured out his heart to God as his circumstances dictated. When Jesus was faced with choosing twelve disciples to follow Him, He spent the night resting in God’s presence and in prayer (Luke 6:12-16). When those same disciples experienced the ascension of Jesus into heaven, the culmination of the forty days following Jesus’ resurrection, they gathered in a room in Jerusalem to pray (Acts 1:12-14). The previous forty days, as well as the day of the Ascension, were no doubt taxing. They found refreshment together through prayer to God.

Whenever life drains you of strength, let God be your source for refreshment (Psalm 23:1-3). Make prayer your first choice when it comes to unburdening your soul.

The hotter the time of trouble, the greater the dews of refreshing from God.  John Trapp


#squadgoals – Luke 6:12-16 – Skip Heitzig

Secret Giver

Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. Matthew 6:1

For Christopher, a physically disabled veteran, everyday activities had become more challenging, took longer to finish, and increased his pain. Still, he did his best to serve his wife and child. Passersby would see him using a push-mower to cut his lawn every week.

One day, Christopher received a letter—and an expensive riding lawnmower—from an anonymous donor. The secret giver’s satisfaction came through the privilege of helping someone in need.

Jesus doesn’t say that all our giving should be in secret, but He does remind us to check our motives when we give (Matthew 6:1). He also said: “When you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others” (v. 2). While God expects us to be openhanded givers, He encourages us to avoid doing good deeds in front of people for the purpose of receiving accolades or special recognition (v. 3).

When we realize everything we have comes from God, we can be secret givers who don’t need to pat our own backs or gain the admiration of others. Our all-knowing Giver of all good things delights in the genuine generosity of His people. Nothing beats the reward of His approval.

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

How has God helped you through someone else’s secret giving? Who can you help with an anonymous gift today?

Loving God, please bless me with opportunities to give as selflessly and sacrificially as You have given to me.

Read Compassion: Learning to Love Like Jesus at DiscoverySeries.org/Q0208.

Making Prayer a Priority

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

In today’s passage, we are told to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), but what does that mean? While God doesn’t expect us to go through life muttering prayers under our breath, we are called to be ever mindful of Him and quick to offer our petitions, praise, and gratitude throughout the day. And this will become a reality only when we make prayer a daily priority by setting aside time to be alone with the Lord, reading His Word and talking to Him.

The purpose isn’t simply to bring Him a list of requests before quickly heading out the door. Any good relationship requires time and two-way communication. The goal is to have a conversation with God as we read His Word and respond in prayer. When this becomes a habit, our thoughts will more quickly and regularly turn to God in dependence, thankfulness, and worship.

If you are struggling to be more consistent in prayer, ask the Lord for His help. Realize, however, that a habit of prayer will also require diligence on your part. You may have to get up earlier, but any sacrifice will be worth the effort because the outcome will be an intimate, satisfying relationship with your loving heavenly Father.

God’s Memorial Day

“And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.” (Exodus 3:15)

It is surely a good thing that Americans have designated an annual Memorial Day in which we call to remembrance the great sacrifices of those before us who fought and suffered (and often died) to form our nation and preserve its freedom. Without them we would not be here today, and we need to remember them.

It is even more important, however, to remember the God of our fathers, our true Author of liberty. He has established His own memorial, wanting us to remember not only our ancient spiritual forefathers, but also His own great name, Jehovah. “The LORD God” in our text verse is Jehovah Elohim. The sense of God’s announcement to Moses was that “Jehovah” was the name of the God of Abraham, and in fact, the name of the Creator of the world. Jehovah is the redemptive name of God, while “Elohim” is His name as omnipotent Creator.

We must always remember this, He says. The word “memorial” is used here for the first time in the Bible and thus is very significant. We should remember Him as Creator every seventh day when we devote a day to rest and worship (Exodus 20:8, 11). But there is also another day to remember the Lord for His work of redemption. When He became man, dying to save us from our sins, He established a memorial supper, saying: “This do in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). Thus, when we observe each weekly Lord’s day, and also whenever we partake of the Lord’s supper, we are really observing a special Memorial Day in His honor, remembering His great name “unto all generations.” HMM

“As a Little Child”

Matthew 18:1-4

THREE Gospels (Matt. 18:1-4; Mark 9:33-50; Luke 9:46-50) record the touching incident of our Lord and the little children. The disciples had been disputing as to who should be greatest in His kingdom. Our Lord upsets all prevailing standards by putting a child in the midst. We adults, who like to act as though wisdom would die with us, might have found it more comfortable to our pride if Christ had used a rabbi, a scholar, some “successful” man for His model, but He commands us to be converted and childlike.

Most of us are like children, but, like the other group our Lord described in Matthew 11:16-19, we are childish rather than childlike. He would have us be simple in faith, in life, in spirit, in service—nothing affected or forced. And woe unto him who offends a child or a young believer! Notice what a stern term our Lord used: “Better that a millstone be hanged around his neck and he be cast into the sea.”

He commands us to cut off hand or foot if they offend us—anything that cripples our Christian experience, however precious. He tells us that the children have their guardian angels in the presence of God just as all saints have ministering spirits (Heb. 1:14). And He came to seek and to save the lost, going as a good shepherd after the sheep that is lost.

In speaking of hell, the Lord uses most awful terms: “… where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched.” Some who want to hear love preached all the time and who cannot reconcile hell with the meek and lowly Jesus should remember that He had more to say about hell than anyone else in the Bible. Here He has in mind the valley of Hinnon, where the worm worked in the putrefaction of decaying bodies and where the smoke continually ascended. The worm does not die in hell because the putrefaction never ceases.

The disciples also complain in this passage about someone who was casting out demons in Christ’s name but who was not associated with them. Our Lord’s rebuke, “Forbid him not, for he that is not against us is for us,” ought to govern us more today than it does. We censure other disciples who are not of us, but if they do the work and carry it out in His name we should esteem them as brothers and not as competitors. It is deplorable that the ranks of true Christians, few enough at most, should be divided by rank jealousies and petty criticisms.

So here is a double warning—against offending weak Christians and children on the one hand, and against censuring others who work in His name on the other. Rather, we are to have salt in ourselves and have peace one with another. Too many of us are “fresh” Christians; we must be seasoned and salted so that our speech may be seasoned with salt—and often that takes fiery trial and suffering. It is not easy for the childish to become childlike.

Keeping Our Faith Trim

He is a liar and the father of liars.—John 8:44

There are many things in life that at first glance appear to have no point. Fear is one such thing; doubt is another. I have heard it argued that all fear is of the Devil and can serve no useful purpose in human life—but this is not true. Fear of being burned, for example, helps us avoid coming in contact with hot metals. Fear can have a positive purpose—and so can doubt.

Doubt, for one, can be used to help us detect error. We live in a world of which Satan is temporarily “prince,” and he tries his utmost to get us to believe his lies. Jesus was not merely being poetic when He described Satan as the “father of liars.” Half-truths and half-lies that masquerade as the whole truth are the Devil’s stock-in-trade. So because all things are not true, not everything should be believed. Some things clearly ought to be doubted.

One writer says: “The inescapable presence of doubt is a constant reminder of our responsibility to truth in a twilight world of truth and half-truth.” It acts like a spur to challenge us to find out the truth about a situation. It is precisely because all is not certain that we have to make certain.

Francis Bacon put it like this: “If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.” Doubt can act as a sparring partner both to truth and error; it keeps faith trim and assists us in shedding the weight of false ideas.

Prayer

Gracious and loving Father, thank You for reminding me yet again that I can take anything that comes and use it to positive ends—even doubt. Help me to use my doubts as a sparring partner to keep my faith trim. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Further Study

2Pt 2:1-10; Tit 1:9-11; 2Tm 4:1-5

What will come in the last days?

How did Paul exhort Timothy?

What Really Is Holiness?

2 Peter 1:4

A girl asked me, “What is sanctification, or holiness, that people are talking so much about?” She had heard the experience testified to and talked and preached about, until I thought that, of course, she understood it. Her question surprised me, but I rallied and asked, “Have you a bad temper?”

“Oh yes,” she said, “I have a temper like a volcano.”

“Sanctification,” I replied, “is to have that bad temper taken out.” That definition set her thinking and did her good; but it was hardly accurate. If I had said,

“Sanctification is to have our sinful tempers cleansed, and the heart filled with love to God and man,” that would have done, for that is sanctification—that is holiness. It is, in our measure, to be made like God. It is to be made “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).

A spark from the fire is like the fire. The tiniest twig on the giant oak, or the smallest branch of the vine, has the nature of the oak or the vine, and is in that respect like the oak or the vine. A drop of water on the end of your finger from the ocean is like the ocean—not in its size, of course, for the big ships cannot float upon it nor the big fish swim in it. But it is like the ocean in its essence, in its character, in its nature. Just so, a holy person is like God. Not that he is infinite as God is; he does not know everything; he has not all power and wisdom as God has; but he is like God in his nature. He is good and pure and loving and just, in the same way that God is.

Holiness then, is conformity to the nature of God. It is likeness to God as He is revealed in Jesus.

We are to be like Jesus in separation from the world. Jesus was in the world but He was not of the world. While He worked and associated with bad people to do them good, yet He was always separate from them in spirit.

The Apostle John, in speaking of those who expect to see Jesus in heaven says, “And every one who has this hope in him purifies himself, even as He is pure” (1 John 3:3). That is a lofty standard of purity, for there was no impurity in Jesus. He allowed no unclean habits. He indulged in no impure thoughts or desires. We are to be pure in heart and in life as He was.

We are to be like Jesus in love to God and to all men, especially to our brothers and sisters in the Lord. We are to be like Jesus by having God dwelling in us. We are to be like Him in our separation from the world, in purity, in love, and in the fullness of the Spirit. This is holiness.

Samuel Logan Brengle, The Way of Holiness