[ecko_quote source=" Psalms 27:4"]One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple[/ecko_quote]
To pray, we must enter into God’s presence with the right spirit, approach, and preparation. The term “entering into God’s presence” is frequently used in the church today to refer to worship and prayer. However, in casual, twenty-first century Christianity, few really understand this concept. We often fall short of entering into God’s presence because we lack a genuine reverence for Him. In good olden days, a man would remove his hat when he walked past a church in order to show respect for the place in which God was worshipped. Today, we say, “That’s unnecessary. It’s the attitude of the heart that counts.” Yet I think we have lost the attitude with the custom.
We need to be spiritually sensitive to God’s holiness, might, and worthiness of reverence. We must also enter God’s presence with a heart of love. Jesus said the greatest commandment of all is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).
God is saying to the church, in essence, “Don’t obey Me because of the things you want from Me. Obey Me because you love Me. ‘If you love me, you will obey what I command’ (John 14:15). If you love Me, you won’t need chastisement and discipline to do what I ask of you.” God doesn’t want us to use Him merely as safety insurance from hell. He wants a relationship, not a religion.
He wants to be our Father. He wants communion with us—an atmosphere of intimacy in which we express our love, discover His will and then pursue it. Communion is entering into the mind and heart of God to become one with Him and His purposes.
Prayer: Father, please show me how to have oneness of heart with You. I want to give You the reverence and love that You deserve. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Thought: Enter God’s presence with the right spirit, approach, and preparation.
[ecko_quote source=" 2 Peter 1:10"]Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble[/ecko_quote]
God is not vague about your life. Therefore, it is essential that you learn the difference between vision and mission. You were designed to be unique and to fulfil a particular purpose. If you are to carry out this specific purpose, your vision must be specific. Otherwise, you will be just like everyone else around you. Remember, your vision—like your fingerprints—is meant to distinguish you from every other person in the world.
Let me use the Christian church as an example. The assignment that Jesus gave His followers two thousand years ago— “Go into all the world and preach the good news” (Mark 16:15)—is called the Great Commission. It is the “commission,” the joint or corporate mission of the worldwide church. Therefore, if a local church thinks its particular vision is to preach the gospel, then it has a mistaken idea of vision. It knows its mission, but it hasn’t yet found its true vision, that one thing that distinguishes it from all other churches.
One church is not assigned where another church is assigned. That is why an individual church shouldn’t compare itself with other churches in its city or nation or use another church as a measure of its own success. Each church is to fulfil its part of the Great Commission through the specific emphasis or approach that God has given it.
The same general principle holds true for you and your personal vision. What is the specific emphasis or approach in life that God has given you?
Prayer: Father, my mission as a believer is to see others won to the Lord Jesus Christ. Please open my heart to see the specific vision You have given me to fulfil this mission. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Thought: You were designed to be unique and to fulfil a particular purpose.
[ecko_quote source=" John 19:11"]Jesus answered, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above[/ecko_quote]
Nothing that is not God’s will can come into the life of one who trusts and obeys God. This fact is enough to make our life one of ceaseless thanksgiving and joy. For God’s will is the one hopeful, glad, and glorious thing in the world and it is working in the omnipotence for us all the time, with nothing to prevent it if we are surrendered and believing.
One who was passing through deep waters of affliction wrote to a friend: “Is it not a glorious thing to know that, no difference how unjust a thing may be, or how absolutely it may seem to be from Satan, by the time it reaches us it is God’ will for us, and will work for good to us?
For all things work together for good to us who love God. And even of the betrayal, Christ said, “The cup which my Father gave me, shall I not drink it?” We live charmed live if we are living in the centre of God’s will. All the attacks that Satan, through others’ sin, can hurl against us are not only powerless to harm us, but are turned into blessings on the way.
[ecko_quote source=" Hebrews 12:1]Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us[/ecko_quote]
One of the most important phrases in today’s verse is “let us run with endurance.” Now that’s a constant challenge of the Christian life!
Physically speaking, running is one of the healthiest activities that we can do to improve our health. Running is great for the cardiovascular system and helps promote health in a variety of ways. The problem is that many people when they start jogging try to run too hard and end up burning out in just a short period of time.
Unfortunately, the same can be true of our spiritual lives. Many of us run hard and fast for Christ, but quickly lose energy and heart and find ourselves out of strength. Why? Because we haven’t laid aside the things that hold us down. It’s like trying to run with weights tied to your ankles!
The Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint. And the only way you will be able to run with endurance is to do what the verse today says…to lay aside the sin in your life that weighs you down.
Are you struggling today in your walk with Christ? If so, take an honest look at your life and see if there is any sin that is unconfessed. If there is, confess it and cast it aside. When you do you will find you will once again be able to run…and to do so with endurance.
Cast aside any sin that is weighing you down, so you can run with endurance.
Resource: Jack Graham
[ecko_quote source=" Galatian 2:20"]I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me[/ecko_quote]
A Christian has died to sin. Sin has no control over a corpse. Temptation can present itself enticingly and persistently, yet a corpse will not succumb! Before you were a Christian you were keenly vulnerable to sin. Sin held you in its grip. When you became a Christian, your old self-died (Gal 2:20). Sin now has no more control over you than temptation has over a corpse.
You have died to sin. You can still sin, but you are no longer in sin’s power. If you choose to succumb to temptation, you are rejecting the freedom from sin that Christ gained for you by His death.
God’s grace is a further motivation for us to resist sin. It was God’s grace that enabled Jesus to endure mocking, beating, and crucifixion at the hands of those whom He had come to save. It was grace that led God to forgive our sin despite our rebellion against Him. It is this same grace that God expresses toward us each time we sin against Him. Knowing this grace, we cannot continue to practice sin (Roman 6:1-2) We cannot presume upon God’s forgiveness by committing further offences.
You are no longer the helpless victim of your sin. The victory has already been won. God does not have to win a victory over your sin; He already has! You need only to apply His victory to each area of your life. If there is a sinful habit, an ungodly attitude, or an unrighteous relationship that you need to put to death, claim the victory of Christ’s resurrection today. Then you will be free to experience the abundant life that God intends for you.
[ecko_quote source="2 Corinthians 6:2"]Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.[/ecko_quote]
God always deals with people in the realm of “NOW”. He is not concerned about what we aim to do in the future or what we had done in the past. Therefore, our obedience must be now. Any delay in obedience is simply disobedience. Abraham, Moses, David and many others in the Bible obeyed to the voice of God right away. Instant obedience is all that matters.
In the final hours, when Jesus was on the cross, the two criminals who were hanging on either side heard what Jesus was saying. One took hold of the opportunity and gave his life to the Lord, while the other accused and blasphemed Him. In response to the one who accepted Him, Jesus said “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will with be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).
My dear ones, we do not know when it will be our final hour on this earth and when we will receive our call from the Lord. The Roman Emperor Constantine believed that once he was baptised, his sins would be washed away and that he would attain salvation and entrance into heaven. Because of this assumption, he put off baptism and planned to be baptised just before he died. It has been thought that Constantine put off baptism as long as he could so as to be absolved from as much of his sin as possible. Similarly, many believers play with sin in an anticipation that they may turn to the Lord, ask for his forgiveness, and receive His salvation just before their final moments. How foolish to think this way? Luke 12:20 clearly states “But God said to him, Fool! This night your soul will be required of you”. Dear ones our time is in His hands.
An aeroplane crashed and burned several years ago, killing all the occupants, except for one man who was miraculously delivered without any burns to his body. He was a guest on many of the talk shows and a sought-after speaker for many years, telling his story of the miraculous delivery from certain death. In one of the talk shows, he was asked two questions. The first question was, "What had you done the morning before you took your flight?" His response indicated him spending time in prayer and studying the scriptures.
The second question they asked him was, "As the fuel was igniting and flames were rushing through the cabin, was everyone crying out to God?" I believe his answer will always stay with you. He said that while their clothing and flesh were burning, he fully expected to hear people crying to God for help. But what he heard was cursing and screams of vile accusations towards God. He went on to say, for a long period of time this has troubled him. Why would people, with imminent death ahead, curse God? He said, it was revealed to him during a time of prayer that in a disaster, most people will die no different than the way they have lived. He said it's just like what Jesus said, "Out of the abundance of your heart, your mouth will speak."
As I think about this man's testimony, it has solidified my belief that what we think, speak, and do in our daily lives builds a foundation in our heart that affects our blessing and protection. Sadly, many Christians unknowingly live their lives with the same attitude, putting off an intimate relationship with God for one reason or another. We must remember that what you put into your heart is what comes out of your heart in the form of words, actions and deeds.
Remember, what we sow into our lives is what we are bound to reap. You can't expect a mango tree to grow out of apple tree seeds. Don't let this article discourage you if you have your course set in the wrong direction, but be encouraged and change your course today while you still have time. Although, it may take time, with persistence and faith in God, it will eventually happen. Speak the promises of God over your life and cast down the vain imaginations of doubt and unbelief that the enemy will attempt to place in your mind.
[ecko_quote source=" 2 Kings 19:19"]“Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord God, You alone”[/ecko_quote]
For most English speaking people the acronym ASAP means, “As Soon As Possible” or immediately. But for the Christians, it can also mean “Always Say A Prayer”.
King Hezekiah was one of Judah’s best kings. He restored the worship of God to his nation after his father Ahaz’s evil reign (2 Kings 18:3-4). Yet when the Assyrian king attacked Judah, Hezekiah surrendered to the king and stripped off the gold from the temple in Jerusalem to pacify him (vv 13-16).
That did not satisfy the Assyrian king, However, who returned to issue another threat. It was then that Hezekiah turned to the Lord. He prayed, “You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth …. save us from his hand that all of the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord God. You alone” (19:15-19). When Hezekiah prayed, God answered him in a remarkable way and delivered him from his enemies (vv 35-37).
You may be facing a problem that leaves you feeling helpless. It may be the loss of a job and seeking a job, a difficult family or work situation, or health struggles. We have a powerful God to whom we can bring our concerns. So, before you do anything else, remember to ASAP - Always Say A Prayer. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16)
Prayer should be our first response rather than our last resort.
[Image Source: http://www.jasonisaacs.me/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/praying-man.jpg]
Pastor Jonah Ravinder - United Telugu Church
[ecko_quote source=" Psalms 23:5-6"]You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever [/ecko_quote]
With this devotion, I would conclude our meditation on the twenty-third Psalm. In this Shepherd’s Psalm, double portion and running over blessing is described in this way- Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over (V5). The Lord prepared a table for Job in the midst of his friendly enemies and from that point on, Job’s life was a constant party. Before Job died at a ripe old age, God had given Job greater riches than he had in the beginning, seven new sons, three beautiful daughters, and grandchildren and great-grandchildren too numerous to mention. His head was anointed with oil, all right-oil representing the presence of the Holy Spirit- and his cup blessings overflowed all over the place.
With all that happening, we can be sure of the truth of the last verse of the Shepherd’s Psalm; Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever (v6). This is a fact as indisputable as it is encouraging, and therefore a heavenly verily, or "surely" is set as a seal upon it. This sentence may be read, "only goodness and mercy," for there shall be unmingled mercy in our history. These twin guardian angels will always be with me at my back and my beck. Just as when great princes go abroad they must not go unattended, so it is with the believer. Goodness and mercy follow him always -- all the days of his life -- the black days as well as the bright days, the days of fasting as well as the days of feasting, the dreary days of winter as well as the bright days of summer. Goodness supplies our needs, and mercy blots out our sins.
Moreover, I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. "A servant abideth not in the house for ever, but the son abideth ever." While I am here I will be a child at home with my God; the whole world shall be His house to me; and when I ascend into the upper chamber, I shall not change my company, nor even change the house; I shall only go to dwell in the upper storey of the house of the Lord for ever. May God grant us grace to dwell in the serene atmosphere of this most blessed Psalm!
As Christians, we can move forward into an unknown, uncertain future saying, “Surely,” because the Lord is our Shepherd! Verse 1 reads, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” The word “want” means lack. Surely our Shepherd will supply our every need! There will nothing lacking in our lives. Psalm 34:9-10 says, “O fear the LORD, ye His saints: for there is no want to them that fear Him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.” The apostle Paul says it another way in Philippians 4:19. “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
With the Lord as our Shepherd, there is No lack for intimacy. David said “my shepherd.” A little girl once said, “The Lord is my shepherd, that is all I want.” There is a real truth in that statement. A shepherd knew each of his sheep by name. There was an intimate relationship that formed between the shepherd and his sheep!
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” Have you ever thought of verse 6 as a promise? The Lord, our Shepherd, has promised to provide or supply goodness and mercy everyday of our lives, all of our lives! The problem is, we often fail to recognise it! We are so trained to think that we must chase after what we call “good things,” like a big screen television. It is foreign for us to think about good things chasing after us! God has a scheme of beauty and love, nipping right at our heels, but our eyes are not trained to see it in our lives. So often we miss it.
Jesus, our Shepherd, is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. Knowing Jesus can warm and gladden our hearts in every situation.
[ecko_quote source=" Psalms 23:5"]You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies[/ecko_quote]
The next step in the Good Shepherd’s training of the sheep is the preparation of a banquet table. The verse five says “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies”. Why is the table prepared in the midst of my enemies? So, I can invite them to come and eat with me! That is a pretty potent reminder that the Lord’s ways are not our ways, that His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8).
When I first became a King’s kid, I had an enemy. However, I had committed myself to being a doer of the Word, and not a hearer only (James 1:22), and because he had despitefully used me, I made myself pray for him ( Matthew 5:44). It was not exactly a joyful or a sincere prayer at first. It was one of dogged obedience. I had say, “ Lord, bless so and so”. Even while I was praying, I had been hoping He would not do it. However, eventually the grace of God got through to me, and I worked up to the point where I could meet the man on the street and not send flaming darts in his direction. As I followed the instructions in the Manufacturer’s Handbook (Bible), the hate left me. And after I was baptised in the Holy Spirit, the impossible happened. Love took the place of hate.
Now, I am not pretending perfection here. Paul confessed that he had not arrived all the way (Phil 3:13), but he knew he was headed in the right direction, and we can know it too. Circumstances can set in and I can crank up an instant poor-me pity party. When things go bad, and trust me they will, our most common response is to start having a poor me pity party. But it is soon called off as the Holy Spirit reminds me that I am only a dumb sheep and that the Good Shepherd who loves me is in charge of everything that happens to me. For that, I can say, “Praise the Lord”- and I do. That effectively douses any pity party and turns it into a glory party with the Lord himself providing the refreshments. A glory party is better that a pity party any day.
Do you remember all the bad things that happened to God’s servant Job? Every kind of disaster you can name; his children were killed, his cattle were destroyed, he broke out in boils, and his wife told him to drop dead. As if that was not enough, his former friends turned into such creeps; he had no need for enemies. Instead of comforting him in his afflictions and distresses, they told him it was all his fault.
It is a long story, and you can read all about it in the Manufacturer’s Handbook in the Book of Job. However, what’s relevant here is that in the end, God had Job pray for his “friends”, and God sent the “friends” out to get the steaks for a party (Job 42:8). Moreover, the Lord turned the captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends. Also, the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before (Job 42:10).
To be continued...
[ecko_quote source=" Psalms 23:4"]Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me[/ecko_quote]
As I submit myself fully to God’s leadership in the paths of righteousness, I don’t find myself in a restricted kind of life. He allows me lots of choices. “Lord,” I tell Him, “here are two ways I can go in this situation. They look almost opposite to me. My wisdom is not good enough to sort them out; my trust has to be in you. I am going to take the path that seems most reasonable to me, but I will trust you to block it if that’s not in line with your best will for me”. I don’t sit and shiver and quake, fearful that I might slip-up. I get the body in motion because there is no way you can steer a parked car. If I keep moving, God can lead me.
Suppose I make a wrong turn? I have done that, more than once, and God has always been faithful to correct me. Often, I have had to make a wrong turn in order to find the right road. God never promised to make us goof -proof ( blunder free) overnight. That’s what Shepherd’s staff is for, to fish the sheep out of trouble.
The Psalmist seemed to know that we might land in dire circumstances from time to time. The next he says is “ Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil (v4). Death is a shadow, an illusion. In addition, death for the Christian is graduation day, nothing to be feared. My mother graduated that way. She slept in the night and woke up across the border. King’s kids can graduate with no fear of evil. I know that personally because I have encountered certain death on a number of occasions since I have known Jesus. I feared no evil right in the midst of the valley of the shadow of death.
The absence of fear always means the presence of the Lord, just as the Psalmist went on to say: For thou art with me (v4). The sheep and the Shepherd are walking together now because the sheep has learned to pace his walk to that of the one who can keep him from all harm. Thy rod and they staff they comfort me (v4). The rod of correction that had to be used to force the sheep into submissiveness is no longer a torment to him because now he finds it a great delight to do the will of God. The chastening that had been such a hard thing for him to take has brought joyful results.
When a properly submissive spirit has been cultivated within us, the corrective measures of God are always a comfort to us. If we have any feeling of uneasiness in the face of God’ authority, that’s a sure sign the spirit of rebellion is lurking inside us, waiting to go into action, doing its own thing. It is far more blessed to have our wills so in line with His that the rod and staff are a comfort. They make us not afraid of getting into trouble, or revealing our imperfections because we know His crooked pole can fish us out, time after time, and set us back on the straight path.
Do not ever feel that you must be a perfect Christian. It’s not possible. But Jesus in us is perfect, and by the process of our dying to self and letting Him live His life through us, we will more and more resemble Jesus. The end result of this process is exciting. Look at what John wrote about it “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see him as He is (1 John 3:2)
To be continued...