30 April 2012

Pray for Wisdom

"Pray for wisdom and understanding as you walk the difficult paths of your lives. If you are determined to do foolish and imprudent things, I think the Lord will not prevent you. But if you seek His wisdom and follow the counsel of the impressions that come to you, I am confident that you will be blessed."
Gordon B. Hinckley

27 April 2012

Does Prayer Make a Difference?

Prayer is the lifeblood of an intimate relationship with the Father. But believers often have questions about its power and effectiveness. Don’t hesitate to take your queries to the Lord, dig into Scripture for answers, and seek the counsel of a trusted spiritual mentor. Prayer is too important to neglect.

Will God’s plans fail if I don’t pray? God is not subservient to believers or dependent upon their prayers. The time we invest in speaking with Him involves us in the work that He is doing in our lives and in the world, but He will carry on without us.Laboring alongside the Lord is our privilege.

Does my prayer (or lack thereof) impact God’s work? I believe that Scripture indicates the answer to this question is both yes and no, depending upon the situation. There are times when God’s purpose is set. He is in control and has determined the best course. In the Old Testament, the Lord often prophesied what He would do and then brought those events to pass.

In other cases, “you do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2). There are some good things that He holds back until we put out prayerful hands to receive them. But because God is a loving Father, He also pours our blessings that we wouldn’t even think to request.

Believer’s prayers have tremendous impact, particularly on their own faith and life. Do you understand what an awesome privilege it is to kneel before the all-powerful Father and know that He listens and will respond? God loves to be good to His children and answer their prayers.
Charles Stanley

24 April 2012

Two-Way Communication

"In striving to establish two-way communication with God we must not become so busy diagnosing our personal circumstances and seeking the advice of others that we fail to ask and listen for God's vital instructions to us."
Jill Todd Banfield

23 April 2012

The Pure Love of Christ

"It is knowing and feeling the pure love of Christ that brings exquisite joy to our souls. It is knowing that forgiveness for our mistakes is possible. It is through the Atonement of the Savior, who satisfied the demands of justice and offers us mercy, that hope and joy are possible."
Coleen K. Menlove

21 April 2012

Richard Holloway

"God is waiting eagerly to respond with new strength to each little act of self-control, small disciplines of prayer, feeble searching after him. And his children shall be filled if they will only hunger and thirst after what he offers."

20 April 2012

Saved by Grace? How?

The first greeting with which Paul begins each of his epistles is grace, and he uses it with its full Christian meaning. Grace! God's grace! The unmerited favor of God toward humanity.

It seems unnecessary to have to emphasize that grace is unmerited, for that is the definition of grace. Yet we must emphasize it. For man always imagines that God loves him for what he is intrinsically. We imagine that God has been gracious to us because of what we have done - because of our piety, because of our good deeds, because of our repentance, because of our virtue. But God does not love us because of that. And God is not gracious to us because of that. Paul says that "God commendeth his love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). Christ died for men who were hideous in His sight because of sin. And we are like that. You are like that, and so am I. If we are ever to understand the grace of God, we must begin with the knowledge that God has acted graciously toward us in Christ entirely apart from human merit.

... God tells us that we have not the slightest claim upon Him. We deserve hell at His hands, and anything He might do for us is grace however insignificant. But God's grace is not insignificant. And it certainly does not stop with a single act. It is not a dollar-a-day grace. It is a grace that has made us millionaires in Christ.
Dr. James Boice

What Did Jesus Mean by "the Son of Man"?

The term the Son of Man occurs in Matthew 32 times, in Mark 15 times, in Luke 26 times, and in John 12 times. In the first three Gospels the title is always recorded as having been used by Christ of Himself and never by angel, by man, or by demon. Of the 12 occasions in John, 10 are from the lips of Christ; only twice was the expression used by men, and then only for criticism and unbelief: "We have heard out of the law that the Christ lives forever: and why do you say, The Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?" Those are the only two occasions in all the Gospels where the term is found upon the lips of any but Christ. It is Christ's own description of Himself, and it is the term that links Him to humanity and shows His intimate and positive relationship to the human race.

For particular illustration I take the story of the temptation, where the Lord is seen standing entirely upon the level of humanity. He was in the wilderness, being tempted as man, as representative of the human race; and that is not my view merely, it was His own statement. In answer to the first temptation He said: "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone." That is to say, in effect, I am in this wilderness on the human level, as the Son of Man taking the place every other person has to take. I obey the law of God that conditions the life of humanity.

In answer to the second temptation, He said: "It is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve." Thus, He put Himself within the Divine limitation of every other human life and declared that He was living according to the law which every other human must obey if he would come to the fulfillment of his life. In answer to the third of these temptations, He said: "It is said, You shall not tempt the Lord your God.” Thus, He declared that the law which governed Him was exactly the same as that which governed other people. Therefore, the terms that indicate His relationship to men are those that prove His absolute kinship with the human race, His complete identification with human experience.
Campbell Morgan

What Are the Basics of Discipleship?

Isn't it interesting that Jesus Christ never said to make disciples by taking them to church—or to a Bible study group, for that matter. Not that these activities aren't an integral part of a disciple's growth, but the Lord has something much more personal in mind.

[The] word entrust [in 2 Timothy 2:2] was a first-century banking term that literally meant "to make a deposit." Paul is saying in our text, "You have learned things from me, Timothy; now I want you to take that truth and personally deposit it into the lives of other disciples."

When you teach a child something about Christ, you are making a deposit into his heart; when you share Scripture or prayer with another believer, you are making a life-on-life deposit that Christ would define as true discipleship.

Frankly, my writing at this very moment reflects what I've had modeled and taught to me by others. That's what discipleship is: taking what Jesus Christ taught us and depositing it into the lives of other believers.

There are three components that define true discipleship. The first is touch. You can't disciple at a distance. The only way iron can sharpen iron is through personal connection. This is the touch that invests when others withdraw; it perseveres when others disappear.

Second, you must make the commitment of time. You won't be able to reproduce your life and passion for Christ in a day. You didn't grow overnight—we humans aren't like Jack's beanstalk! We're more like apple trees that need a lot of time to grow before fruit begins to appear.

The third component is truth: the truth of God's Word. This keeps the discipleship process on track, rather than one opinion contradicting another. Without truth, discipleship of any kind—coaching a team, tutoring a student, teaching an instrument—will not have permanence. The center of spiritual discipleship is the truth of Scripture.


Evidence of the Crucifixion Beyond the Bible?

The Roman historian, Tacitus (who was born in a.d 55), wrote in his Annals (15:44) an explanation of how Nero, the emperor (who died in a.d 68) blamed Christians for the great fire of Rome in order to deflect rumors that he had started the blaze. In this passage Tacitus alludes to a fact which no one disputed: Christ had been crucified under Pontius Pilate:
All human efforts . . . of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus , and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular.

It was common and undisputed knowledge in the second half of the first century that Jesus Christ had been crucified. If there were any question that he had died in this way, it would have been eagerly disputed wherever Christians preached. But it wasn't. The fact of his death by crucifixion was not questioned.
John Piper