Prayer

Closeup shot of a male on his knees with an open bible in front of his while praying



Prayer is one of the most powerful weapons given to Believers by God. It has never been more important for God’s people to pray and seek God’s face than now. Prayer is communicating with God. A sincere “thank you” is how we should start off in prayer, thanking Him for who is He and all He’s done. Take the time to praise God for all He’s done—the answered prayers, all the impossible situations He’s seen you through, His grace and mercy. Praise gets an audience with God; he doesn’t listen to our murmur and complaining. But, when you begin to praise Him, you invite the presence of God to sit in the midst of your praise. Ask God for His will to be done, not your will. In the Garden Gethsemane, Jesus prayed and ask God if it He would take the cup from Him, but He said nevertheless “not my will but your will be done.” In a world that is uncertain and chaotic one thing is for certain, we know if we pray God’s will to be done, it is the safest plan, for in His will is the safest place to be in the whole wide world.

Ask God for forgiveness, “repent.” Repent means to change your mind. 1 John 1:9 says, “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Pray with another Believer, there is power when we come into agreement. If you don’t already have a prayer partner, make finding you a partner one of your spiritual goals in 2020. Pray the Word of God. Jesus spoke the Word when He was tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-12). It’s important to know who we are in Christ and to understand the scriptures. The only way to is to spend time in His Word, choose a time of day and spend time reading and studying the scriptures. Spending time in the Word of God will strengthen your prayer life!

Christ Crucified and Resurrected: Why It Matters

Mel Lawrenz will be offering daily online ministry during this health crisis. Sign up HERE.

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CRUCIFIXION

They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.

— Matthew 27:33-37

Now came the time for the clash between good and evil, heaven and hell. The crucifixion of Jesus is both the most horrific moment in human history, and humanity’s only hope. That’s why we call the Friday before Easter, Good Friday.

Jesus’ followers were still too weak to understand, and so they scattered. The religious elite carried out their plot. The political leaders passed the buck, and in the end, they discarded Jesus for the sake of convenience. The crowds gawked. Two thieves hung on either side of a man whose crime was hard to comprehend. The placard above his head announced with biting sarcasm: King of the Jews. That must have attracted some attention.

We know of seven things Jesus said from that cross, including a pronouncement of forgiveness for the soldiers, provision for the care of his mother, and a plea for something to wet his parched mouth. But the last words on that last day of his natural human life were the most important: “It is finished!” (John 19:30).

That was not a cry of resignation, nor capitulation or surrender. It was a shout of victory that all that God had planned for the restoration of sinful human beings was now accomplished. Now there could be justification! Redemption! Reconciliation! All that needed to be done for the debt and scar of sin had been done. Forgiveness was now free.

All that remained was for Jesus to step out from the shadow of death, which he would easily do after a few days. But first, the disciples had time to search their hearts for how something good could be found in something so bad. And the enemies of God disappeared into the darkness of their own duplicity.

How does the crucifixion of Jesus most powerfully impact you?

RESURRECTION

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

— John 20:1-2

How difficult was it for the One who is Lord of the universe—who had a hand in creation itself, who is the very force of life that holds living things together—to wake up from the sleep of death and set aside the burial cloths draping his body?

As was always the case, Jesus’ revelations of himself did not happen with television cameras focused on him. Not even a respectable crowd was gathered. An alarming word from young Mary Magdalene about Jesus’ body being gone produced a panic and a footrace among two of Jesus’ beloved disciples, Peter and John. One looked and merely saw the emptiness of the tomb; the other saw the connection between this moment and the mysterious words of Jesus—and he believed.

Now things were really complicated and the disciples went home. So Jesus first appeared to a brokenhearted Mary who stayed at the tomb. Mary was the first to behold something the world had never seen before—a resurrected, transformed life.

Resurrection day for Jesus was simply the first installment of a resurrection of masses of people when this era of the history of the universe draws to a close. What God promises to those who belong to Jesus is not the loss of self into a nothingness bliss, but the resurrection and remaking of everything that is right and good in the world he created. And until then, he invites us to begin living transformed lives, continually shaped and changed by the hope of the redemption of all that God has made.

Where in your life do you need the resurrection power of Jesus at work today?

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Mel Lawrenz will be offering daily online ministry during this health crisis. Sign up HERE.

WOW- The Big Picture 4/8

April 8
Saul and David’s Relationship Ruptures

1 Samuel 18; Psalms 41; Proverbs 12:4

Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Saul took him that day, and would not let him go home to his father’s house anymore. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt.So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and behaved wisely. And Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants. Now it had happened as they were coming home, when David was returning from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women had come out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy, and with musical instruments. So the women sang as they danced, and said:

“Saul has slain his thousands,
And David his ten thousands.”

Then Saul was very angry, and the saying displeased him; and he said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed only thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?” So Saul eyed David from that day forward.

And it happened on the next day that the distressing spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied inside the house. So David played music with his hand, as at other times; but there was a spear in Saul’s hand. And Saul cast the spear, for he said, “I will pin David to the wall!” But David escaped his presence twice.

Now Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him, but had departed from Saul. Therefore Saul removed him from his presence, and made him his captain over a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people. And David behaved wisely in all his ways, and the LORD was with him. Therefore, when Saul saw that he behaved very wisely, he was afraid of him. But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them.

Then Saul said to David, “Here is my older daughter Merab; I will give her to you as a wife. Only be valiant for me, and fight the LORD’s battles.” For Saul thought, “Let my hand not be against him, but let the hand of the Philistines be against him.”

So David said to Saul, “Who am I, and what is my life or my father’s family in Israel, that I should be son-in-law to the king?” But it happened at the time when Merab, Saul’s daughter, should have been given to David, that she was given to Adriel the Meholathite as a wife.

Now Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved David. And they told Saul, and the thing pleased him. So Saul said, “I will give her to him, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.” Therefore Saul said to David a second time, “You shall be my son-in-law today.”

And Saul commanded his servants, “Communicate with David secretly, and say, ‘Look, the king has delight in you, and all his servants love you. Now therefore, become the king’s son-in-law.'”

So Saul’s servants spoke those words in the hearing of David. And David said, “Does it seem to you a light thing to be a king’s son-in-law, seeing I am a poor and lightly esteemed man?” And the servants of Saul told him, saying, “In this manner David spoke.”

Then Saul said, “Thus you shall say to David: ‘The king does not desire any dowry but one hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to take vengeance on the king’s enemies.'” But Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines. So when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to become the king’s son-in-law. Now the days had not expired; therefore David arose and went, he and his men, and killed two hundred men of the Philistines. And David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full count to the king, that he might become the king’s son-in-law. Then Saul gave him Michal his daughter as a wife.

Thus Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved him; and Saul was still more afraid of David. So Saul became David’s enemy continually. Then the princes of the Philistines went out to war. And so it was, whenever they went out, that David behaved more wisely than all the servants of Saul, so that his name became highly esteemed.

Now Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David; but Jonathan, Saul’s son, delighted greatly in David. So Jonathan told David, saying, “My father Saul seeks to kill you. Therefore please be on your guard until morning, and stay in a secret place and hide. And I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are, and I will speak with my father about you. Then what I observe, I will tell you.”

Thus Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father, and said to him, “Let not the king sin against his servant, against David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his works have been very good toward you. For he took his life in his hands and killed the Philistine, and the LORD brought about a great deliverance for all Israel. You saw it and rejoiced. Why then will you sin against innocent blood, to kill David without a cause?”

So Saul heeded the voice of Jonathan, and Saul swore, “As the LORD lives, he shall not be killed.” Then Jonathan called David, and Jonathan told him all these things. So Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence as in times past.

And there was war again; and David went out and fought with the Philistines, and struck them with a mighty blow, and they fled from him.

Now the distressing spirit from the LORD came upon Saul as he sat in his house with his spear in his hand. And David was playing music with his hand. Then Saul sought to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he slipped away from Saul’s presence; and he drove the spear into the wall. So David fled and escaped that night.

Saul also sent messengers to David’s house to watch him and to kill him in the morning. And Michal, David’s wife, told him, saying, “If you do not save your life tonight, tomorrow you will be killed.” So Michal let David down through a window. And he went and fled and escaped. And Michal took an image and laid it in the bed, put a cover of goats’ hair for his head, and covered it with clothes. So when Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, “He is sick.”

Then Saul sent the messengers back to see David, saying, “Bring him up to me in the bed, that I may kill him.” And when the messengers had come in, there was the image in the bed, with a cover of goats’ hair for his head. Then Saul said to Michal, “Why have you deceived me like this, and sent my enemy away, so that he has escaped?”

And Michal answered Saul, “He said to me, ‘Let me go! Why should I kill you?'”

So David fled and escaped, and went to Samuel at Ramah, and told him all that Saul had done to him. And he and Samuel went and stayed in Naioth.

1 Samuel 18:1-19:18

 

WORSHIPBlessed is he who considers the poor;
The LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.
The LORD will preserve him and keep him alive,
And he will be blessed on the earth;
You will not deliver him to the will of his enemies.
The LORD will strengthen him on his bed of illness;
You will sustain him on his sickbed.
Psalm 41:1-3

 

 

WISDOM

An excellent wife is the crown of her husband,
But she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones.
Proverbs 12:4

Staying On Track – One Year Devotions for Men

“I’ll tell you what we’ll do. Take your choice of any section of the land you want,and we will separate. If you want that area over there, then I’ll stay here.If you want to stay in this area, then I’ll move on to another place.” – Genesis 13:9

When a plane leaves the runway, or a train jumps the tracks, or a ship drifts off course, disaster looms large. And when men lose their vision, they can quickly lose direction and make big mistakes. Reputations are easily tarnished and hard-earned positions of influence quickly forfeited. When these men are the Lord’s servants, the cause of the Lord suffers setback. The people of God become easy targets for ridicule and abuse.

After Abram had arrived in Canaan, severe famine necessitated his moving once again, this time to Egypt (Gen. 12:10). There is no indication that he should not have gone there—common sense dictated he should. But once there, Abram got off course. He lost sight of the Lord’s care, and his triumphant faith was conquered by fear—fear that led him to tell half-truths that amounted to lies, which, in turn, embarrassed and enraged Pharaoh and led to Abram’s ignominious expulsion from Egypt.

Sadder and wiser, Abram and his entourage “traveled north into the Negev. . . . They continued traveling by stages toward Bethel . . . the place where Abram had built the altar, and there he again worshiped the Lord” (13:1-4).

Back on track worshiping the Lord, Abram was immediately confronted with a test. It soon became obvious that the area where he was living lacked the means to support both his herds and those of Lot. Arguments erupted between their employees, and Abram stepped forward with a wise and selfless proposal to Lot. He told him, “I’ll tell you what we’ll do. Take your choice of any section of the land you want, and we will separate. If you want that area over there, then I’ll stay here. If you want to stay in this area, then I’ll move to another place” (13:9).

Lot promptly chose the prime land for himself, so Abram settled in the inferior territory. He could have pulled rank. He could have reminded Lot that he, Abram, was the Lord’s chosen one and Lot was along for the ride. But he didn’t. He knew in his heart that even when the Promised Land didn’t look promising, the Lord of the promise was faithful, and the correct response to faithfulness is a fullness of faith.

Abram’s failure of nerve in Egypt had taken him to the brink of disaster. He had learned a bitter lesson. But even his embarrassing expulsion had proved a blessing, because it had propelled him back to the place of worship.

Any man is capable of jumping the rails. The wise man knows how to get back on track.

For Further Study: Genesis 13:1-18 

Excerpted from The One Year Devotions for MenCopyright ©2000 by Stuart Briscoe. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.

For more from Stuart Briscoe, please visit TellingtheTruth.org.

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leverage ambition

be you, be great

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