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Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit. Ephesians 6:18

Sam James was a missionary in war-ravaged Vietnam. One of his worst moments occurred when his wife, Rachel, made a trip into the mountains on an old DC-3 propeller passenger plane belonging to Air Vietnam. When Sam went to the airport for her arrival, he learned the plane was delayed. Sam kept asking questions, and he finally learned the plane was missing. As the hours passed, Sam felt an anguish he’d never experienced.

“I made my way out of the terminal to a quiet spot under some trees in the front of the terminal. I knelt and prayed as earnestly as I ever had prayed.” About 11:30 p.m., the plane landed. It had been delayed by a flat tire, but the news hadn’t been reported or conveyed. “Seldom had I felt such tremendous, overwhelming love for my wife,” he later wrote.2

When we face turmoil, we always have direct access to heaven through prayer. When we can’t control our anguish, we know God is in control of the answers. When we’re afraid of the outcome, we can pour out our soul to God, knowing He hears every plea, knows every cry, and cares for the need of every frightening moment.

I firmly believe that God has something to teach us through every experience. Sam James

September 6, 2020 | Dr. Jack Graham | Victorious Prayer | Ephesians 6:18-20 | Sunday Sermon

Imagine This!

I will create new heavens and a new earth. Isaiah 65:17

During the course of a popular home renovation television program, viewers often hear the host say, “Imagine this!” Then she unveils what could be when old things are restored and drab walls and floors are painted or stained. In one episode, after the renovation the homeowner was so overjoyed that, along with other expressions of elation, the words “That’s beautiful!” gushed from her lips three times.

One of the stunning “Imagine this!” passages in the Bible is Isaiah 65:17–25. What a dazzling re-creation scene! The future renovation of heaven and earth is in view (v. 17), and it’s not merely cosmetic. It’s deep and real, life-altering and life-preserving. “They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit” (v. 21). Violence will be a thing of the past: “They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain” (v. 25).

While the reversals envisioned in Isaiah 65 will be realized in the future, the God who will orchestrate universal restoration is in the business of life-change now. The apostle Paul assures us, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). In need of restoration? Has your life been broken by doubt, disobedience, and pain? Life-change through Jesus is real and beautiful and available to those who ask and believe.

By:  Arthur Jackson

Reflect & Pray

What changes can you imagine the God of restoration making in your life? What’s keeping you from believing in Jesus for life-change today?

God of restoration and renovation, You know what changes are needed in my life for me to look more like You. Please work in my heart and life today.

Obedience Changes Everything

Luke 5:8-11

Yesterday we read that Peter said yes and then let down his nets. And today we see how the soon-to-be apostle’s plans were irrevocably changed. Fishing was put on hold, and Peter became a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Obedience to God never disappoints. Jesus filled Peter’s empty nets with an enormous catch and made him into a “fisher of men.” God can do this with our finances, relationships, or
any other area of our life—but He does so in His way and for His purposes.

Obeying God makes His power evident in our life. Peter’s “yes” allowed him to witness a miracle. He could have looked at his to-do list and said, “I’m too busy,” or he could have pointed out that he was a fisherman and knew better. But Peter agreed and witnessed the power of God—first in that boat and later in his own life.

Obedience helps us understand God and ourselves. Having seen the miracle of the full nets, Peter gained fresh insight into who Jesus was and, by contrast, how he himself was a sinful man. Eventually, he came to acknowledge Jesus as the Christ (Matt. 16:13-17).

What is God asking of you today? Listen carefully, say yes, and watch what He accomplishes in and through you.

Not Many Wise Men

“For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.” (1 Corinthians 1:26)

For the most part, the rich and famous of this world, the wise and powerful, have always looked down on the followers of Christ and the Scriptures. This seems increasingly true today, and many believers have been led to compromise as a result. Rather than being discouraged by the intellectual snobbery of educated and powerful unbelievers, however, we should rejoice in this further proof of the prophetic inspiration of the Holy Scriptures.

This passage is, in fact, a remarkably fulfilled prophecy, true for almost 2,000 years. Christians have founded great universities to train people in God’s truth, only to see them taken over, one after another, by the ungodly leaders of this present world. Missionaries have carried the gospel to heathen lands, only to be superseded by wealth-seeking materialists who exploit and subvert their converts.

Paul did not say “not any,” of course, but “not many.” God always has raised up a few brilliant or powerful men (such as Paul himself) who have devoted their abilities and influence to the Lord and His Word, but these have always been the exception. There have been a few godly kings and generals, a few Christ-honoring artists and musicians of great talent, but they are far outnumbered by the others.

But we must remember that God said long ago that was the way it would be. “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in His presence” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29). HMM

Almost to Jesus

Mark 12:34

TO the scribe who spoke well the heart of the Law, Jesus said, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God” (Mark 12:34). But one may almost reach salvation and still be lost. A soldier, after going through the war in France, was killed in a wreck when he had almost reached his home in America. Almost, but lost! Some get as far as the church. The father brought his demonized boy to the disciples but they could not heal him. Then Jesus came and said, “Bring him to Me” (Matt. 17:14-21). Today a powerless church stands before needy souls, and all too often it must be said of us disciples, “And they could not.” We can do no mighty works because of unbelief. And men lambaste the church and talk of the mistakes and failures of the church. But back of the church stands the Lord saying, “Bring him to Me. I have not failed. The church cannot save. You must get through to Me.” To be sure, this does not excuse the weakness of the church. Such power comes only by prayer and fasting and the church will not fast and pray today. But men need to know that it is not enough to get as far as the church and into the church. Press through to Jesus!

Some get as far as the Bible. “Ye search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me. And ye will not come to Me that ye might have life” (John 5:39-40). One may study the Bible in an academic way and never know its Christ. This scribe we started with knew his Scripture but not the Lord. To be an expert in a biography is not to know the subject of the biography. And greater is the condemnation if we know the Bible and know not Christ. The heathen has not that condemnation. To read travel folders is not to travel! All roads in the book lead to Christ; but do you travel the road?

Some get as far as doctrine. At the grave of Lazarus, Jesus said to Martha, “Thy brother shall rise again.” She said, “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Martha was orthodox; she was correct in her doctrine, a good fundamentalist. But our Lord changed the emphasis from the doctrinal to the person: “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die. Believest thou this?” He made the resurrection not something to believe but someone to believe, and it brought personal confession from Martha: “I believe that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.” One may know doctrine and not know Him. It is not he that believes in the resurrection but he that believes in Him who rose who is saved.

Certainly one who comes to Him will belong to the church, read the Bible and believe doctrine. But back of all these stands Christ Himself. The devil will have men join the church and become theologically orthodox if only they do not touch Christ. And one may come almost to Christ! Jostle Him in the crowd but never touch Him and feel His virtue: this is almost. Be sure you get through to Jesus!

“With”—or “In” and “On”

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you.—Acts 1:8

The Holy Spirit is a resident counselor. The Greek word here is interesting: parakletos—para (beside), kletos (call)—one who is called alongside to help. There isn’t a single thing needed in the Christian life that He isn’t there to provide. Note the difference in the prepositions that are found in these passages: “He remains with you and will be in you” (Jn 14:17) and “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you” (Ac 1:8). Jesus said that the Spirit was “with” them, but later would be “in” them and “on” them. I take these prepositions to mean that the Holy Spirit was “with” them prior to Pentecost but was “in” them and “on” them subsequent to Pentecost. Prior to Pentecost their lives lacked character and consistency. They cast out devils, but, on other occasions, they seemed to be somewhat influenced by them.

Simon Peter is a case in point (Mt 16:23). The disciples were loud in their assertions of loyalty and loud in their blunderings and misunderstandings. The Spirit was most certainly “with” them—helping, encouraging, and revealing—but He was most certainly not “in” them or “on” them. When the Spirit came “in” and “on” them at a later date, then fitful living became faithful living; erratic loyalty became everlasting loyalty.

Today, in the lives of many Christians, the Holy Spirit seems to be working on the outside rather than on the inside. Actually, of course, the Holy Spirit is resident “in” every Christian, but He wants to be more than just resident—He wants also to be president! How is it in your life and experience? Is the Spirit a passing guest or a permanent guest?


God, forgive me for not utilizing the resources of the Holy Spirit You have placed within me. Help me see that the Spirit within makes for adequacy without if I avail myself of Him. Amen.

Further Study

1Co 2; Neh 9:20; Lk 12:12; 1Jn 2:27

What has God revealed to us by His Spirit?

What does the Holy Spirit bring to us?

Image and Reality

Hebrews 1:3

Despite the counsel of the New Testament it is hard not to be conformed to this world—especially in what has come to be known in advertising circles as image building. Motivational research is now an industry of its own, employing techniques derived from psychiatry and offering in turn advice on how to present wares most attractively.

The image is all-important. According to this gospel, what sells an article—

whether it be a cake of soap or a pair of stockings—is the image which speaks to the prospective buyer. Given the right image all things are possible.

The premise admitted, it is not a far cry to the deduction that a man’s image can sell (or ruin) the man. But should image be our first concern?

We should remind ourselves that our fathers in the faith were not overmuch concerned about their image. If they had been, they would never have broken with the conventional religious practices of their day. They would never have set Great Britain by the ears had they kept one eye continually on the current public opinion polls. As for image, some of them in the most literal fashion made themselves of no reputation.

“Bramwell,” said the Founder, “50 years hence it will matter very little indeed how these people have treated us. It will matter a great deal how we dealt with the work of God.” So memorable a word puts this concern for image building in its place once and for all. Take care of the reality and the image will take care of itself.

A study of the model relationship between image and reality is found in Hebrews 1:3 where Jesus is described as “the exact representation of [God’s] being.” Here image and reality agree. Image is not a cunningly devised fable to hide the poverty of reality. Nor does reality need to be blown up to correspond with a larger than life image. What is found in the one is present in the other.

Hear the conclusion of the whole matter in a sentence written by William Booth: “Don’t allow the world’s praise to attract, or its blame to affright you from the discharge of the duty you owe to God, to yourself, or to the souls of those about you. God will take care of your reputation if you make His glory and your duty your sovereign aim.”

Frederick Coutts, In Good Company