Joy of My Heart with Anne Graham Lotz – January 18

January 18

God’s Always Available

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.

Jeremiah 33:3, nkjv

When you approach God through faith in His Son, God is accessible twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, twelve months a year for the rest of your life!

For the last several years, I have carried a small cellular phone with me whenever I leave the house. Even when I take my early morning, three-mile walk, I have my cell phone in my pocket. Invariably, when I say good-bye to my husband, or speak with my children or staff before I go out of town, I remind them that I will have my phone with me. If I’m needed, all they have to do is call me. Yet how many times have I noticed that I have a voice message waiting on my phone because either it was out of the range of a tower, or I had turned it off while flying, or muted it, or left it in that other pocketbook!

Praise God! He is never out of range! He is never turned off or tuned out! His ears are never deaf! He is always available, accessible, and attentive to our call!

My Heart’s Cry, (Nashville: W Publishing, 2002). 

Updated after Danny’s Passing:

When you approach God through faith in His Son, God is accessible twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, twelve months a year for the rest of your life!

For the last several years, I have carried a small cellular phone with me whenever I leave the house. Even when I take my early morning, three-mile walk, I have my cell phone in my pocket. Invariably, when I say speak with my children or staff before I go out of town, I remind them that I will have my phone with me. If I’m needed, all they have to do is call me. Yet how many times have I noticed that I have a voice message waiting on my phone because either it was out of the range of a tower, or I had turned it off while flying, or muted it, or left it in that other pocketbook! Praise God! He is never out of range! He is never turned off or tuned out! His ears are never deaf! He is always available, accessible, and attentive to our call!

©2012 Anne Graham Lotz. All rights reserved.


THE KEY TO A LIFE OF IMPACT

What are the secrets to a life of impact? Daniel achieved greatness in the eyes of his contemporaries, in the eyes of history, and most importantly, in the eyes of God. His faith did not waver as he faced his critics, as he served new kings in power, or even as he confronted hungry lions. How can we achieve that kind of faith today? Twenty intentional, key choices made all the difference. Daniel’s choices can be ours, such as:

•  The choice to listen
•  The choice to forgive
•  The choice to pray

Cultivate a life-changing faith when you learn to implement The Daniel Key into your everyday life. Request your copy!

For more from Anne Graham Lotz please visit AnneGrahamLotz.org.

Daily in Christ 1/18

January 18THE EFFECTS OF THE FALL Romans 5:12Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned Unfortunately, the idyllic setting in the Garden of Eden was shattered. Genesis 3 tells the sad story of Adam and Eve’s lost relationship with God through sin. The effects of man’s fall were dramatic, immediate and far-reaching, infecting every subsequent member of the human race. What happened to Adam and Eve spiritually because of the Fall? They died. Their union with God was severed and they were separated from God. God had specifically said: “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17 NIV ). They ate and they died. Did they die physically? No. The process of physical death was set in motion, but they were alive physically for several hundred more years. They died spiritually; their souls were separated from God. They were banished from God’s presence. They were cast out of the Garden of Eden and guarding the entrance were cherubim waving a flaming sword (Genesis 3:23, 24). After Adam, everyone who comes into the world is born physically alive but spiritually dead, separated from God. Paul wrote, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live” (Ephesians 2:1 NIV ). How did Jesus remedy this problem? In two dramatic, life-changing ways. First, He died on the cross to cure the disease that caused us to die: sin. Romans 6:23 begins, “The wages of sin is death.” Then He rose from the dead to give us spiritual life. The verse continues, “But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Jesus Himself said, “I came that they might have life” (John 10:10). The bad news is that , as a child of Adam, you inherited spiritual death. But the eternally good news is that, as a child of God through faith in Christ, you will live forever because of the life He has provided for you. Prayer: Thank You, heavenly Father, for sending Jesus to die on the cross for my sins and then raising Him from the dead so I may have life.

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Accountability – One Year Devotions for Men

But people who are not aware that they are doing wrong will be punished only lightly. Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given. – Luke 12:48

In the so-called “Gender Wars,” some women have made harsh statements about men, and the men have not exactly taken it lying down! Having said that, both sides did get some things right. For instance, the women who said that men needed to “get in touch with their feminine side” were making a fair point, even though they went overboard in making it. Men do need to recognize that masculinity is not all about muscular machos making mayhem. Men can and should be gentle and considerate! The women also said that men should stop being cowboys and lone rangers, and that they should be willing to be vulnerable enough to make intimate friendships—even to be accountable to others for their actions! Vulnerability, gentleness, consideration, and accountability are not purely feminine traits, though. They are masculine traits as well.

During his earthly ministry, Jesus referred to accountability more than once. He predicted both his departure to his Father and his coming again to establish his eternal kingdom. Using the analogy of a rich landowner who had gone away, leaving his affairs in the care of a trusted servant, Jesus said his disciples were his servants and, like the landowner, he would return and evaluate their lives. Jesus’ coming again would not be advertised in advance any more than a thief would advertise his arrival to divest an owner of his property. It was incumbent on the servant to be ready. Jesus explained, “Be dressed for service and well prepared, as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast” (Luke 12:35-36).

The thought of being held accountable by their master is a challenge to Christ’s disciples. It serves as a powerful motivating factor. But it is not designed to strike fear into their hearts. The Lord said standards of evaluation would be based on opportunities presented and responses to opportunity. Using dramatic hyperbolic language, Jesus described the lot of the servants who blatantly abuse their positions (12:46-47). He also explained, “Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given” (12:48).

That raises a question: How much is much and how much more is much more? Perhaps the answer is found in the Lord’s description of the kind of servant he is looking for. He had in mind a “faithful, sensible servant” (12:42)—“faithful” in the steady, consistent fulfilling of duties and obligations with joy and delight; and “sensible” in that the servant is very much aware of the impact of grace, the bestowal of privilege, and the embracing of opportunity.

Faithful, sensible servants have nothing to fear—their Lord is faithful and sensible, too!

For Further Study: Luke 12:35-48

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

Praying the Names of God – January 18

From Praying the Names of Jesus Week Six, Day One

The Name
Most of us picture lambs as downy white animals frolicking in rolling green meadows or carried tenderly in the arms of their shepherd. Lambs represent gentleness, purity, and innocence. Though it is one of the most tender images of Christ in the New Testament, the phrase “Lamb of God” would have conjured far more disturbing pictures to those who heard John the Baptist hail Jesus with these words. Hadn’t many of them, at one time or another, carried one of their own lambs to the altar to be slaughtered as a sacrifice for their sins, a lamb that they had fed and bathed, the best animal in their small flock? Hadn’t the bloody sacrifice of an innocent animal provided a vivid image of the consequences of transgressing the Mosaic law? Surely, John must have shocked his listeners by applying the phrase “Lamb of God” to a living man.

When we pray to Jesus as the Lamb of God, we are praying to the One who voluntarily laid down his life to take in his own body the punishment for our sins and for the sins of the entire world.

Key Scripture
John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29

***

Monday
 His Name Revealed

He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
Isaiah 53:7

Now some Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”

“I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”

This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”

The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” John 1:24 – 35

Jesus, perfect Offering for all my sins, help me to understand that sin extracts a deadly payment. Thank you for giving your life to deal with my debt. Forgive me for everything I’ve done to cause you suffering. Help me, Lamb of God, to rejoice in your love for me. Amen.

Understanding the Name

It is impossible to understand the title “Lamb of God” without understanding something about the practice of animal sacrifice in both Old and New Testaments. The sacrificial system provided a way for God’s people to approach him even though they had violated the Mosaic law. When an animal was offered, its blood was shed and its flesh was then burned on the altar. When the animal was completely consumed by fire, the sacrifice was called a “holocaust.” When only part of the animal was burned, it was considered a “peace offering,” intended to restore communion with God. Those who offered sacrifices understood that the animal being sacrificed was a symbolic representation of themselves and their desire to offer their own lives to God. In fact, the sacrificial system of the Hebrew Scriptures represents God’s way of instructing us about what it means to approach a holy God. The lamb was the principal animal of sacrifice, and two were offered each day — one in the morning and one in the evening (Numbers 28:1 – 8). The offering was doubled on the Sabbath. Lambs (or other animals) were also sacrificed on the first day of the new month and on such feasts as Passover, Pentecost, Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles. Lambs were also offered in cleansing ceremonies after a woman gave birth and after the healing of a leper.

To the Jews the lamb represented innocence and gentleness. Because the sacrifice was meant to represent the purity of intention of the person or people who offered it, lambs had to be without physical blemishes.

The New Testament uses two Greek words for Christ as “Lamb” or “Lamb of God”: Arnion (AR-nee-on) and Amnos Tou Theou (am-NOS tou the-OU). The phrase “Lamb of God” is found only in John’s Gospel, though Jesus is often referred to as “the Lamb” in the book of Revelation, where he is portrayed as the Lamb who, though slain, yet lives and reigns victorious. In fact, twenty-nine of the thirty-four New Testament occurrences of “Lamb” occur in Revelation, a book so named, at least in part, because of what it reveals about who God is.

The New Testament also refers to Christ’s followers as lambs. Because the temple was destroyed in AD 70, animal sacrifices could no longer be offered there. Most Jews today no longer eat lamb during the Passover meal or Seder. Instead, they place a roasted lamb shank bone on a Seder plate as a reminder of the sacrifice.

Studying the Name

  1. Jesus refused to defend himself when dragged before the Jewish leaders and before Pilate and Herod. How does this relate to the passage from Isaiah? What does it say to you about Jesus?
  2. Imagine that you are walking into the temple holding a young lamb in your arms. He is like a favorite pet, but now he is going to be sacrificed for your sins. How do you feel? Now imagine doing the same thing over and over because no one sacrifice can possibly take away your sins. What thoughts go through your mind?
  3. What do you think of when you think of Jesus as the Lamb of God? How does this title relate to your life? 

For more from Ann Spangler, please visit her blogspot on Christianity.com. And be sure to check out Ann’s newest books on AnnSpangler.com.


Meet your spiritual ancestors as they really were: Less Than Perfect: Broken Men and Women of the Bible and What We Can Learn from Them.