VIDEO Thank-Filled: For Prayer

I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live. Psalm 116:1-2

We often thank God in prayer, but do we thank Him for it? 

Many famous rock stars charge people to meet them. If you want to say, “Hi,” to Lady Gaga, for example, spend $3,600 for a VIP backstage tour of her concert where you can have a moment with her. Jesus paid the cost for us to meet our Heavenly Father in prayer each day, and what a privilege it is to enjoy an abiding relationship with Him. Knowing Him is so much better than meeting a celebrity. If only the world would realize that!

Researchers have discovered the vast psychological benefits of gratitude, and filling our prayers with thanksgiving is the highest form of it. Today take a moment to say, “Lord, thank You for being constantly available to listen to me, speak to me, and take my concerns as Your own. I am thank-filled for prayer! I love You because You hear my voice and supplications.”

In prayer we can approach God with complete assurance of His ability to answer us. There is no limit to what we can ask, if it is according to His will. John F. Walvoord


Psalm 116 • The joy of answered prayer

Nothing Can Separate

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? Romans 8:35

When Pris’ father, a pastor, answered God’s call to pioneer a mission on a small island in Indonesia, Pris’ family found themselves living in a rundown shack once used to house animals. Pris remembers the family celebrating Christmas sitting on the floor and singing praises while rainwater dripped through the thatched roof. But her father reminded her, “Pris, just because we are poor doesn’t mean God doesn’t love us.”

Some may see a life blessed by God as one that’s filled with riches, health, and longevity. So in times of hardship, they may wonder if they’re still loved by Him. But in Romans 8:31–39, Paul reminds us that nothing can separate us from Jesus’ love—including trouble, hardship, persecution, and famine (v. 35). This is the foundation for a truly blessed life: God showed His love for us by sending His Son Jesus to die for our sins (v. 32). Christ rose from death and is now sitting “at the right hand” of the Father, interceding for us (v. 34).

In times of suffering, we can hold fast to the comforting truth that our life is rooted in what Christ has done for us. Nothing—“neither death nor life . . . nor anything else in all creation” (vv. 38–39)—can separate us from His love. Whatever our circumstance, whatever our hardship, may we be reminded that God is with us and that nothing can separate us from Him.

By:  Yohana Ang

Reflect & Pray

How can you remind yourself that nothing can separate you from Jesus’ love? How can knowing this truth change the way you respond to life’s challenges?

Heavenly Father, open my eyes and heart to understand more of Your love, and help me realize that Your love is enough for my life.

The Problem of Unmet Needs

If we find that God is withholding something we need, it’s wise to ask ourselves if we’ve gotten in the way by sinning or failing to act.

Psalm 84

The Lord has promised to provide, so why doesn’t He always meet our needs when we ask? In today’s passage, His promise of provision has a condition—it’s given to “those who walk with integrity” (Psalm 84:11). So if God isn’t fulfilling our needs as we think He should, it’s possible He has a different plan for us than we expect. But we should also examine ourselves to see if there might be some hindrance. 

Sin. When we allow sin in our life, salvation remains intact, but fellowship with God is interrupted and we’re less in tune with His will. Then our expectations often differ from His. 

Participation. Another possible explanation for unmet needs is that we haven’t done our part. Although God is the ultimate source of all we have, He gives us the opportunity to work for some necessities (2 Thess. 3:10-11). 

Desires. As we saw yesterday, perhaps God hasn’t provided as you expected because your “needs” are really desires. If He knows that what you want won’t fulfill His plans for your life, He will withhold it in order to provide something better. 

Remember that God’s actions and character always align. And His answers to prayer will fit with His goal of conforming us to Christ’s image. If it seems He’s withholding something you deem essential, trust that what He’s working on will be even better. 

Keeping the Law

For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. (James 2:10)

The law of God, centered in the Ten Commandments, is “holy, and just, and good” (Romans 7:12) and expresses perfectly the will of God for holy living. “The man that doeth them shall live in them” (Galatians 3:12).

The problem is that no man can possibly do them all. He may keep most of the commandments most of the time, but he will inevitably fail in some of them some of the time. Since the law is a divine unit, breaking any commandment—as our text reminds us—breaks the whole law, bringing the guilty one under God’s curse of death. “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Galatians 3:10). “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight” (Romans 3:20).

All men, having sinned against God’s law, are therefore lost and in urgent need of salvation. This is where God’s wonderful grace comes in. “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested….Even the righteousness…which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe” (Romans 3:21-22), “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). He kept the law for us, and bore its curse for us. Thus, we are saved through trusting Him.

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid” (Romans 6:1-2). We now desire to keep His commandments, because we love Him. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3). We are now able to keep them, because His Spirit now lives in us, and we are “strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16). HMM

Remembering David

Lord, remember David and all the hardships he endured, and how he swore an oath to the Lord, making a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob: “I will not enter my house or get into my bed, I will not allow my eyes to sleep or my eyelids to slumber until I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob” (Psalm 132 vv. 1-5).

It is impossible to overestimate the contribution made by Bill and Gloria Gaither to the gospel music field. Bill’s down-to-earth wisdom, combined with Gloria’s reflective lyricism, has produced some of our best contemporary songs and hymns: “Because He Lives,” “Something Beautiful,” “There’s Something about That Name, ” “The Family of God,’’ “Let’s Just Praise the Lord,’ and hundreds more. I love the reality of their lives and the passion they bring to their work. Bill has been a friend, advisor, and encourager to me.

David was such a leader, and this psalm celebrates his devotion to the nation he served and the Lord he worshipped. The nation had been restored from exile in Babylon, and it’s people were keenly aware of David’s legacy.

He evidenced his commitment by swearing an oath that he would not rest until he found a place of worship in which the Lord could dwell. This oath most likely referred to David’s intense desire to build the temple (2 Sam. 7). So fervent was this desire that he vowed neither to enter his house nor to sleep until his mission was accomplished (vv. 3-5). Because of this single-minded devotion, God made a covenant (contract) with David. This covenant, with future implications, was extremely significant, particularly during the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah.

What a mentor David is to me! His commitment to the Lord resulted in concrete action, David was much more than a sentimental, romantic leader; he was serious and committed, and God dealt with him accordingly.

Personal Prayer

O Lord, deepen my commitment and conviction. I want to be deadly serious about your business and my relationship with you.

The Spirit—Outraged

How much worse punishment do you think one will deserve who has … insulted the Spirit?—Hebrews 10:29

One of the devices Satan uses to keep some Christians from experiencing all the fullness of the Spirit is to persuade them that the obsessive or unclean thoughts they might have in connection with the Holy Spirit are direct “blasphemy” against the Spirit. Such thoughts are usually due to deep emotional and psychological problems and not deliberate disobedience against the Holy Spirit. They can be forgiven.

Another verse that seems to cause problems for some Christians is the one before us today. In the days of the early church, there were some Jews who, after embracing Christianity, decided to abandon it and return to their old religion: Judaism. Before being readmitted to the faith of their fathers, they were required to renounce the Christian gospel by figuratively trampling on the blood of Christ, at the same time saying words to this effect: “I renounce the blood of Jesus as unworthy and ineffectual.”

In the religion of the Jews, trampling on the blood was a sign of contempt. What greater insolence, then, to the Christian faith than to tread under foot the blood of the Son of God, and openly state that it was ineffectual and unworthy. Such an act, said the writer to the Hebrews, not only insulted the Holy Spirit, but outraged Him (Heb 10:29). Such an action is seldom committed in modern times. Take it from me, most upsets in connection with the Holy Spirit are caused by the Spirit of grace calling us to repentance and forgiveness.

Prayer

O Father, release me, I pray, from all Satan’s attempts to influence my thinking, and enable me to enjoy, from this day forward, the freedom of “life in the Spirit.” For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Further Study

Heb 9; Mt 26:28; Rm 5:9; 1Pt 1:18-19

Why is Christ’s shed blood so precious?

How does it apply to accusing thoughts?

He Who Laughed First

Luke 2:10

It took me a long time to hear God laughing. But then I began hearing some intriguing things. For one, I noticed the words of that time-honored confession of faith, the Westminster Shorter Catechism, concerning a Christian’s “chief end” being “to enjoy Him forever.” Now how do you enjoy someone who can’t laugh?

For another thing, I began to see more laughter in the Bible. It was mostly a matter of letting texts come alive, which in many instances revealed God’s humor and the sheer pleasure of life with Him.

And yet another observation: the Christians I found myself most drawn to were those whose love for God had a fresh sparkle and whose outlook had generous doses of humor. Their holiness was a joyful attraction.

All of this led me to take God’s humor seriously and to realize that it invariably affected people who were in love with Him. That is why Tertullian, an early Church father, was right: the Christian saint is hilarious. He or she is sufficiently infected with God to join His laughter. The saint’s God-given insight into life helps him or her see humor in new places.

The life to which the Scriptures point is suffused with good cheer, childlike delight and a certain carefree attitude. The New Testament message is a frontal assault on sadness and grim piety, and it offers a remedy for sinking despair.

From the very beginning of the salvation story to its end, joy emerges again and again. The birth of the Savior brings joy (Luke 2:8-20). His message and ministry elicit joy in the people (Mark 12:37). Near the end of His life He tells His disciples that the reason He has taught them is so that His joy might be in them and their own joy might be complete (John 15:11). Having met their resurrected Lord, the disciples are overwhelmed with joy (Luke 24:52). The early Church enjoys its life together (Acts 2:43-47); and the mission of the church brings joy to the recipients (Acts 8:8).

This is not to say that holiness is an easy road. For starters, it means taking up one’s cross and dying to oneself. Nor should it be construed to suggest that tragic, and even horrible, things do not happen to God’s beloved disciples.

The joy of the Lord is not a guarantee of perpetual happiness. Rather, it’s something deep enough to sustain us through tragedy, a joy that neither person nor circumstance can rob us of.

Philip D. Needham, He Who Laughed First