WHEN WE PRAY-GOD WORKS!

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11 :24 NIV

Two thngs about prayer are truly amazing: (1) God listens when we pray. “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” (See Mk 11:24). You may not have much clout anywhere else, but when you pray God listens. (2) We seldom pray. We have the greatest privilege imaginable-access to the control center of the Universe-yet we rarely use it. And our lack of prayer surprises God. Through the prophet Ezekiel He lamented: “I sought for a man among them who would … stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that [ should not destroy it; but I found no one” (Eze 22:30 NKJV). Upon learning that Sodom and Gornorrah were going to be destroyed, Abraham didn’t rush to warn the cities. No, he chose to “[remain] standing before the Lord” (Ge 18:22 NIV). When God said the golden calf warranted a nationwide death penalty for Israel, Moses interceded and saved them. One translation of Exodus 32: II says, “Moses soothed the face of his God.” An obscure priest by the name of Phinehas begged God not to send the plague, and it was checked. (See Ps 106:30 NIV). You say “Why place such a premium on prayer?” Simple. Because when we work, we work. But when we pray, God works! Scripture attaches breathtaking power to prayer. “When two of you get together on anything … and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action” (Mt 18:19 TM). Does any other activity promise such results? Did God call us to preach without ceasing? Or have committee meetings without ceasing? No, but He did call us to “pray without ceasing.”



KNOWING YOUR SPEED LIMIT!

It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor be hasty and miss the way. Proverbs 19:2 NIV

A lot of us drive like the speed limits are just suggestions! No, they’re there for a reason-our protection.

Ignore them and you crash! The same is true about your life. Do you take work home, stay up late after the kids go to bed and your mate’s asleep? Are you skipping meals to catch up on paperwork that keeps replenishing itself like weeds along a hillside? Do you drive to meetings checking your Blackberry, drinking coffee and talking on your cell phone? Isn’t it crazy to run a portable office while driving at 65 m.p.h. down the highway? Some seasons are busier than others. Occasionally opportunities come along that require extra time and attention but you can’t expect yourself to always travel at warp speed.

You’re mortal and fragile with physical, emotional and spiritual needs. You aren’t a robot, a computer or an engine that can be operated at the flip of a switch. Even these mechanical devices, if you don’t keep them fueled and maintained eventually fail. So, how do you discover and maintain your speed limit?

By knowing yourself inside out. Pay attention to your body’s signals-to your responses to the demands that you (and others) place on you. When your body is tired to the point of distraction, rest. That’s what God did! And don’t forget your soul-you’ll gain more strength, wisdom and perspective by spending time each day with God than by all your blowin’ and goin’. The Bible says: “They that wait upon the Lord shall

renew their strength” (Isa 40: 31). Try it; it works!

Taken from the Best of Word for Today, 2007



OVERCOMING (2)

My power works best in your weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT

At 19 months, Helen Keller contracted the illness that eventually left her without hearing and sight. Back then those labeled “deaf and dumb,” were classified as idiots. But Helen’s parents didn’t agree. They hired teacher Anne Sullivan to work with her and eventually she learned to read and write using Braille. Amazingly, in 1904 she graduated with honors from Radcliffe College, then devoted her life to helping others. Philanthropist Andrew Carnegie paid her an annual income; writers Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson praised her, and almost every President of her day invited her to The White House. Even though Helen died in 1968 her legacy of courage lives on. When asked if there was anything worse than being blind, Helen replied, “Yes, having sight but no vision.” At 12 Thomas Edison developed such severe hearing loss that his teachers recommended he be taken out of school. Instead Edison used his handicap to drown out distractions and focus on his work. As a result the boy who was labeled “a slow learner” gave the world over 1,000 inventions, including the light bulb, the phonograph and the motion camera.

Who gets to define “normal” anyway? Is it being short versus tall, or rich versus poor? The truth is, God’s given all of us unique abilities that He expects us to explore. And interestingly, the real handicaps don’t belong to those who are born with physical and mental challenges. No, they belong to the 80- called normal people who’ve accepted lethargy and limitation as part of life. God said, “My power works best in your weakness,” so you can let your difficulties impede or inspire you. Which will it be?



OVERCOMING (1)

Despite all these things. Romans 8:37 NLT

Composer Gian Carlo Menotti said, “Hell begins the day God grants us a vision of … the gifts we’ve wasted, of all we might have done but we didn’t do.” Wilma Rudolph, who won 3 gold medals at the 1960 Olympics would agree. What she accomplished isn’t as impressive as what she overcame. As a child “Willie” contracted polio and couldn’t walk without braces. Then at age 13 she regained the use of her legs and went on to become the fastest woman alive. But her challenges weren’t just physical. One of 22 children born to a poor black family, she inspired us by transcending poverty and racial animosity. She said, ‘U/ can’t’ has never been in my vocabulary,” At age 2, Scott Hamilton, another famous olympian skater, stopped growing because of a childhood illness that almost killed him. But his parents encouraged his rehabilitation by teaching him to skate-and the rest is history! In 1976 when Brad Parks was injured in an accident that left him in a wheelchair, he strengthened his rum by whacking tennis balls against his garage door. Three years later he formed the National Foundation of Wheelchair Tennis. Paul said, “Despite all these things … victory is ours through Christ.” Rick Warren writes: “Why does God use our weaknesses? Because when he does, he gets all the glory. If God only used your strengths, others would look at you and be jealous … or discouraged. But when God uses you in spite of your weaknesses … they realize ‘God could use me too!’ Your weaknesses aren’t an accident. God … allowed them for the purpose of demonstrating his power through you.”

Taken from the Best of Word for Today, 2007



OVERCOMING (1)

Composer Gian Carlo Menotti said, “Hell begins the day God grants us a vision of … the gifts we’ve wasted, of all we might have done but we didn’t do.” Wilma Rudolph, who won 3 gold medals at the 1960 Olympics would agree. What she accomplished isn’t as impressive as what she overcame. As a child “Willie” contracted polio and couldn’t walk without braces. Then at age 13 she regained the use of her legs and went on to become the fastest woman alive. But her challenges weren’t just physical. One of 22 children born to a poor black family, she inspired us by transcending poverty and racial animosity. She said, ‘U/ can’t’ has never been in my vocabulary,” At age 2, Scott Hamilton, another famous olympian skater, stopped growing because of a childhood illness that almost killed him. But his parents encouraged his rehabilitation by teaching him to skate-and the rest is history! In 1976 when Brad Parks was injured in an accident that left him in a wheelchair, he strengthened his rum by whacking tennis balls against his garage door. Three years later he formed the National Foundation of Wheelchair Tennis. Paul said, “Despite all these things … victory is ours through Christ.” Rick Warren writes: “Why does God use our weaknesses? Because when he does, he gets all the glory. If God only used your strengths, others would look at you and be jealous … or discouraged. But when God uses you in spite of your weaknesses … they realize ‘God could use me too!’ Your weaknesses aren’t an accident. God … allowed them for the purpose of demonstrating his power through you.”

Taken from the Best of Word for Today, 2007



“SPINNING” THE TRUTH

Love should always make us tell the truth. Ephesians 4:15 CEV

How do you think Paul, “the apostle of grace,” would have handled the following inquiry: “Dear Paul: We’re thinking about hiring Alexander the coppersmith to manage our company, and because you know him well we’d appreciate your opinion?” Knowing the problems Alexander had caused him in the past (1 Ti 1:18-20; 2Ti 4:14-15), how would Paul respond? Or how about this one: “Dear Abraham: Lot has applied for a loan to expand his cattle ranch on the land he inherited from you in the Jordan Valley near Sodom. So we’re writing to ask you for a character reference?” Would Abraham, who was well aware of his nephew’s shady business practices (Ge 13: II-B), be evasive and “fudge” the facts to keep peace in the family? It’s doubtful. Or what about this one: “Dear John: We need a mature Christian to fill a slot on our church board. Based on your dealings with Diotrephes, do you think he’s the right person?” John knew the trouble Diotrephes had already caused and his need for power and control (See 3 Jn 9-10). But

would he hedge and take the path of least resistance? Probably not; knowing John he’d be honest and let the chips fall where they may.

So, what would you do? Remember, the Bible says that love should always make us tell the truth. following Christ means being honest when it would be easier to prevaricate and spin. Hopefully you’d find the courage to be straightforward and gracious. Yes, gracious! Why? Because being asked for your input doesn’t give you a right to resurrect another’s mistakes and publicly embarrass them. The Bible says, “Let your conversation be gracious and effective” (Co14:6 NLT).

Taken from the Best of Word for Today, 2007



LEARN TO BE CONTENT (2)

The abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep. Ecclesiastes 5:12 NIV

In  a recent magazine article Jane Hammerslough tells how her family moved into a sparsely furnished rental house while their home was being renovated. Instead of missing what they’d left behind, surprisingly, they were liberated! Upon returning home they were overwhelmed by the utter excess of stuff, and gave much of it away. She concludes, “When enough’s always just a little more … you don’t have room for the truly great things in life.” The message isn’t new; Solomon said, “The abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep.”

But freedom from anxiety is more than just uncluttered closets. It’s a firm conviction that what you do have is a gift from God (See Ecc 5:] 9), and that it’s meant to be shared with others. Contentment simply frees you to enjoy what He’s provided. So with that in mind keep the following principles before you: buy things for their usefulness, not their status. Beware of anything that produces an addiction in you. Make a habit of giving things away. Don’t be lured by advertising and glitz. Learn to enjoy things without having to own them, or be owned by them. Be wary of “Buy now, pay later” schemes. Steer clear of anything that prevents you from putting God first in your life. He says He’ll “give you all you need .. .if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern” (Mt 6:33 NLT). When your contentment is based on status or possessions, it can be taken away in an instant. But when it’s based on your relationship with Jesus, nothing, absolutely nothing can rob you of it!

Taken from the Best of Word for Today, 2007



LEARN TO BE CONTENT (1)

I have learned to be content. Philippians 4: 11 NAS

The average person is bombarded with about 300 advertisements a day, promising everything from whiter teeth to faster cars. It’s a mega-billion-dollar industry designed to make us want what they’re selling. But there’s a subtle message being conveyed. In a word, it’s discontent, and it eats away at us by creating a desire for bigger, better, more. The Bible says, “We … brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out. . .If we have food and covering … be content” (ITi 6:7-8 NAS). Sounds simple enough: food to eat, clothes to wear, a place to sleep. But how we live doesn’t bear it out. When Rockefeller was asked, “How much does it take to satisfy a man?” with rare insight he replied, “A little more than he has now.”

So does contentment mean not setting goals or aiming higher? Does it mean not enjoying nice things? No, it just means not letting all those nice things “own” you. Learning to be satisfied is a process. That’s why Paul said, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am … to get along with humble means … to live in prosperity .. .I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry … of having abundance and suffering need.” Paul mastered the art of enjoying whatever came along by learning to say, “That’s not essential. I can live without it.” Paul, who told Timothy to follow his example, was the kind of man who could enjoy hot dogs or filet mignon, a vacation on the Riviera or a bed under a bridge, a gold-covered, diamond-studded, velvet-cushioned chariot, or a dirty burro with a limp. His focus was right on target. He held every earthly ‘thing’ loosely. So should you!

Taken from the Best of Word for Today, 2007



SOWING AND REAPING

He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor. 2 Corinthians 9:9 NIV

It’s one thing to give because it puts God on your side financially, but there’s an even greater reason: “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” At first glance you may think, “What’s that got to do with anything?” A lot! God’s committed to healing the hurts of

our world; that’s why He speaks of “gifts to the poor.” When we get involved with God through this kind of giving, we’re taking our place in a plan that’s bigger than our own interests-or our tiny bag of seed. We’re participating in His plan to reach the world. God’s concerned about the poor, and about sharing with every person on earth the good news of the Gospel. Those are His objectives and He’s committed to them. And they’re going to cost money, A lot of it! Now the truth is, God will get the money from somewhere, but He’d like to partner with you to accomplish it.

You say, “But I’m afraid if I give more I won’t have enough to meet my own needs!” Think about what you just said. Why would God drain you of your resources, then not replenish them to accomplish through you what He’s committed to doing? That doesn’t make sense. If you’re a partner with God why would He hinder your ability to give toward the things that matter most to Him: the needy, and winning a lost world? The truth is, God’s going to do it with or without you. He’s just giving you an opportunity to get involved with Him. Don’t miss out on it!

Taken from the Best of Word for Today, 2007



TESTING . . . TESTING

Don’t be surprised .. .that you are going through testing.  1 Peter 4:12 CEV

Have you ever had a teacher tell you at the beginning of a school term that there would be tests without

any warning? Sometimes they’re called a “pop quiz.” Maybe you didn’t like it, but at least you knew to be prepared by doing your homework and completing your assignments on time. You understood the tests were coming so you couldn’t say you hadn’t been warned. God operates on the same principle. His Word says, “Don’t be surprised … that you are going through testing.” Now, God’s tests aren’t necessarily ones you’d have chosen for yourself because they never seem to come at the right time and always test you in your weakest areas. That’s because they’re not for the teacher’s benefit, they’re for yours! The tests of life are designed to sharpen us mentally and strengthen us spiritually. When tests come, and they will, you’ve got two choices. One: act like a victim and complain that you’ve been singled out and unfairly treated. Two: let them teach you more about yourself-and the God you serve. Have you ever worked out in a gym? You can use tests as resistance, the kind you push against to grow stronger. Or you can walk around feeling sorry for yourself-and stay spiritually unfit and flabby.

Here’s a comforting thought: God will never give you more than you can handle, or a test you can’t pass. His Word says He’ll “never let you down .. .let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you” (1 Co 10:13 TM). So the Word for Today is-be prepared! The test could come at anytime.

Taken from the Best of Word for Today, 2007




 

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