VIDEO Pray This Instant!

Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer. Romans 12:12, KJV

During the past year, the U.S. Postal Service has grappled with serious delays, partially because of COVID. One Connecticut landscaper nearly went bankrupt because his post office box was empty for 45 days. When he complained, postal authorities found some of the missing mail—nearly a hundred pieces, many of them containing checks from customers. At the time of this writing, he was still waiting for more of the lost mail to be found.

Sometimes we feel God’s answers to our prayers are lost or delayed, but, no, each comes as a special delivery at just the right moment in His blessed will. The King James Version tells us to be “instant in prayer.” We can pray in an instant, and God instantly hears. No request is ignored, no plea is unheard, and no prayer is unanswered if we pray with humble hearts in Jesus’ Name. 

In a day of instant communication, nothing is more instant than our connection with the Heavenly Father.

If we are “instant” in [prayer] and faithful in it, every little circumstance awakens the disposition to pray, and desires and words are always ready. Felix Neff, an old devotional writer


Elements of a Living Sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2)

Sharing Your Faith

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9

When author and evangelist Becky Pippert lived in Ireland, she longed to share the good news of Jesus with Heather, who’d done her nails for two years. But Heather hadn’t seemed remotely interested. Feeling unable to start a conversation, Becky prayed before her appointment.

While Heather worked on her nails, Becky flipped through an old magazine and paused at a picture of one of the models. When Heather asked why she was so riveted, Becky told her the photograph was of a close friend who’d years before been a Vogue cover model. Becky shared some of her friend’s story of coming to faith in God, which Heather listened to with rapt attention.

Becky left for a trip, and later when she returned to Ireland, she learned that Heather had moved to a new location. Becky reflected, “I had asked God to provide an opportunity to share the gospel, and He did!”

Becky looked to God for help in her weakness, inspired by the apostle Paul. When Paul was weak and pleaded with God to remove the thorn in his flesh, the Lord said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Paul had learned to rely on God in all things—the big and the small.

When we depend on God to help us love those around us, we too will find opportunities to share our faith authentically.

By:  Amy Boucher Pye

Reflect & Pray

When has God helped you to share your faith with someone? How could you pray for someone today whom you wish would come to know God?

Loving Jesus, You work through my weaknesses to bring glory to Your Father. Move in my life today, that I might share Your good news of grace.

Jesus, the Son of God

John 20:30-31

Some people don’t believe Jesus is God, so they claim He was simply a good person. Others may intellectually acknowledge Jesus as God’s Son but have no personal relationship with Him. His true followers, however, believe in their heart that Christ is Savior (Rom. 10:9) and they’ve been adopted into His family.

Ephesians 2:1-2 says that those who don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus are spiritually dead and living according to the sin nature. But when a person places faith in Him, spiritual birth takes place—he or she is made alive in Christ and becomes a new creation no longer enslaved to the “flesh” (John 3:3; Eph. 2:5; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

Our position in the Lord affects everything about us—attitudes, emotions, conversation, and conduct. The status quo of society no longer fits us. Instead, believers grow in Christlikeness, embracing thoughts and deeds that are pleasing to God.

Jesus willingly took our sins upon Himself and experienced divine wrath in our place. God accepted His death as full payment for our sins and then raised Jesus from the dead to a position of divine glory (Eph. 1:20). Let the truth of who Jesus Christ is sink in and strengthen your commitment to follow His ways.

Prayer of the Whole Heart

“Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:12-13)

There are many promises and instances of answered prayer in the Bible. Unfortunately, many of us really don’t seem to believe them and therefore don’t experience the answers to our prayers. Halfhearted praying may sometimes secure partial answers, but God exhorts us to pray wholeheartedly. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).

The principle is timeless and is stressed often in the Word. “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” (Jeremiah 33:3). God’s resources are unlimited, but our motives must be pure, and our prayers must be from the heart. “Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering” (James 1:6). “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (James 4:3).

In addition to right motives and genuine faith, there must be deep sincerity as we pray from the heart. “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint” said Jesus (Luke 18:1), who Himself found it necessary to pray long and earnestly. “Rising up a great while before day, he…departed into a solitary place, and there prayed” (Mark 1:35).

The early church followed His teaching and example, and saw His blessing. “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication” (Acts 1:14). “And they continued stedfastly…in prayers” (Acts 2:42). “We will give ourselves continually to prayer” (Acts 6:4). Consequently, “the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly” (Acts 6:7). God is honored when we search for Him and pray to Him with all our hearts. HMM

The Divine Paradox

Mark 15:31

WHILE Jesus hung upon the cross, the chief priests, mocking, said among themselves with the scribes, “He saved others; himself he cannot save” (Mark 15:31).

In their scorn, they were declaring a truth greater than they knew. While they meant to belittle Him, the real truth of their statement is to His eternal glory. To save others He must give Himself: it is the stupendous heart of the atonement. “Without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb. 9:22).

In a lesser sense, and one applicable to you and me, it was also a fulfillment of Jesus’ own paradox: “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it” (Luke 9:24). If Jesus had decided in Gethsemane to save His life, He would have lost it as our Savior: but in losing it, He truly saved it as our Redeemer.

Here is the application for us: In saving others, we cannot save ourselves. I speak of saving others in the sense of winning them to Christ and God. If we are to rescue others, we must expect to spend and be spent. So long as life revolves around self—self-advancement, self-promotion, self-satisfaction—we are wretched and miserable. If we are to save others, we must forget ourselves. When the family is sick, mother forgets herself in caring for others—and generally the Lord seems to keep mothers going in such times. In service, we Christians must lose ourselves with the spirit of Paul: “Neither count I my life dear unto myself” (Acts 20:24).

Then there is the other side of the paradox: In losing our lives to save others we most truly save ourselves. I am not here speaking of saving our souls; no good works can save the soul, but faith in Christ only. We can save our lives, our time, our talents as we spend them in saving others. The only time you ever save is the time you spend for others. The only money you ever save is the money you spend for others. It is the only certain investment in this gold-brick age. Paul has it in mind when he bids the Ephesians redeem the time. Jesus has it in mind when He says to lay up treasure in heaven. It is the principle of the parable of the unjust steward: use your earthly assets to make for yourself friends through service. Bread cast on the waters of service returns even if after many days.

How slow men are to learn that in saving life they lose it, but in losing it for Christ’s sake they save it. Mind you, Jesus said, “Whosoever will lose his life for My sake”—not for one’s own sake, not to be called a hero, not for consciences sake, but for Christ’s sake. Mere idealistic service is not meant here. Often that is a price men offer for salvation.

This is a day of introverted living. We look at everything in the light of self: what it will profit us, where we can gain by this and that move. Christ turns life outward so that selfish Saul, proud of his legal righteousness, becomes a Paul who could wish himself accursed for his brethren’s sake. Spend life and you save it; give it and you get it.

We do not save our lives while we save others, but because we save others. We often lose our money, our health, our temporal fortunes. But if we leave all for His sake, we shall be compensated in this world—and in the world to come, receive eternal life.

In saving others you cannot spare yourself. Yet in saving others you do most surely preserve yourself! All that you save is what you spend on others for His sake.

The Young and the Old

I will pour out My Spirit on all humanity; then your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams.—Acts 2:17

A barrier that went down in the upper room was that between the young and the old. Peter pointed out that what had happened in the upper room was the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy, in which the prophet had declared that the day would come when young and old alike would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. “This is the day the prophet spoke about!” said Peter. “It’s arrived!”

“There has always been a sacred age,” said someone, “—old age.” In almost all religions, power and sanctity have been associated with the old. This is why many religions tend to be backward-looking rather than forward-looking. In the upper room there were young men (I think we can assume this) who received the gift of the Holy Spirit in the same way as their elders. What a dynamic this produced. Young and old, moving together in the power of the Spirit. The old would naturally want to conserve the values and good things they had come to love and respect, while the young would want to move these values into greater realms and make them more widely operative.

One writer said, “The Christian faith demands radicalism as well as conservatism to fully express itself.” Young and old combine to fully express the nature of the Christian faith, for conservatism or radicalism on their own are weak. Together, however, they become strong and powerful.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, I am thankful that both young and old can be used in the kingdom. Blend the conservatism of the old with the radicalism of the young, so that this generation might see a new Pentecost. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Further Study

1Tm 4:12; 5; 1Jn 2:13-14; 1Pt 5:5; Rm 12:10

What was Paul teaching Timothy?

What does Paul mean, “Outdo one another in showing honor”?

The Witness of the Spirit

Romans 8:16

How shall I know that I am accepted of God? That I am saved or sanctified? The Bible declares God’s love and pity for sinners, including me, and reveals His offer of mercy to me in Jesus Christ, on condition that I fully repent of my sins and, yielding myself to Him, believe on Jesus Christ and taking up my cross, follow Him. But how shall I know that I have met these conditions in a way to satisfy Him, and that I am myself saved?

The Bible cannot tell me this. It tells me what to do, but it does not tell me when I have done it, any more than the signboard at the country crossroads, pointing out the road leading to the city, tells me when I have reached the city.

My religious teachers and friends cannot tell me, for they cannot read my heart, nor the mind of God toward me. How can they know when I have in my heart repented and believed, and when His righteous anger is turned away?

My own heart, owing to its darkness and deceitfulness and liability to error, is not a safe witness previous to the assurance God Himself gives.

How, then, shall I know that I am justified or wholly sanctified? There is but one way, and that is by the witness of the Holy Spirit. God must notify me, and make me to know it; and this He does. Says Paul: “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:16 NKJV). Unless He Himself assures me, I shall never know that He accepts me, but must continue in uncertainty all my days.

John Wesley says: “By the testimony of the Spirit, I mean an inward impression of the soul, whereby the Spirit of God immediately and directly witnesses to my spirit that I am a child of God; that Jesus has loved me and given Himself for me; that all my sins are blotted out, and I, even I, am reconciled to God.”

When the Holy Spirit witnesses to me that I am saved and adopted into God’s family as His child, then other evidences begin to abound also. My own spirit witnesses that I am a new creature. My conscience bears witness that I am honest and true in all my purposes and that this sincerity of heart is His blessed work in my soul and is a fruit of salvation. The Bible becomes a witness to my salvation.

The witness of the Spirit is not likely to be mistaken for something else, just as the sun is not likely to be mistaken for a lesser light.

Samuel Logan Brengle, When the Holy Ghost Is Come