Practice Discipline of Prayer

Practice Discipline Of Prayer

Chapter One

Practice Discipline Of Prayer
Prayer – The Primary Thing 12 A House Of Prayer 20
Intercessory Prayer 14 Problems? Try Prayer And Praise 22
Expectant Prayer 16 What Is A Prophet And A Priest? 23
Praying Is Getting Hold Of God 18 Discussion Questions 25

2 Chronicles 7:14; Matthew 6:5-13

Prayer – The Primary Thing

Prayer is very important to the Christian. It is not, as some folks think, talking into the air when no one is there. Deuteronomy 4:7 tells us that God is near us when we pray.

There are important promises made to Israel about prayer. They too, may have asked, ‘How shall we pray?’ In 2 Chronicles 7, God said, ‘Pray toward this place.’ It seems we all need to know where God is. For Israel, He was “in His holy temple.” For us, He is in heaven, as Jesus said, “When you pray, say, ‘Our Father who art in Heaven”‘.

There was and is one more stipulation to being heard when we pray. The Psalmist says, “Let every one who is godly pray.” Here it is more than a privilege; it is an obligation. (Psalms 32:6) This is true because prayer is a two way street. We ask, He answers. He asks, we answer.

Then we are to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. It is the place in which and out of which God’s work is done. (Psalms 122:6) The same may be said of the church. Many arguments and misunderstandings would dissipate if we would let God settle them. In Matthew 6:5-8, Jesus tells his disciples the same as God told King Solomon in 2 Chronicles 7:24. Do not come bragging about yourself, praying loudly in public, but humble yourself in privacy.

We are also not to come to God seeking revenge against our enemies, saying, ‘Lord, get him.’ Rather we are to pray for those who persecute us. In Luke 18:1, Jesus told his disciples a parable to show that they ought always to pray and not to give up. A widow kept returning to a judge, pleading that he would grant her justice against her adversary. She never wearied with being refused, but returned time after time with the same persistent request. The ungodly judge finally answered, not out of caring but out of his weariness of being asked. Jesus says God is not like that, but he desires to hear and answer the prayers of His own children who cry out to Him.

Finally, we have the greatest example how we should pray, that given by Jesus to his disciples in Matthew 6:9-13. We are to begin not by begging for something, but by asking that His will be done and that His kingdom come; even on earth as it is in Heaven. We must be in line with His will before we may ask anything. Jesus wants us to know that God wills to do things for us when we ask. He wants to give us what we need when we ask.

Probably most importantly, God wants to forgive our sins. In doing this, He wants us to become like him, that is, we can have the power, strength and humility to forgive those who sin against us.

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In Jesus’ last statement, it should not be supposed that God might ‘lead us into temptation.’ It is simply the negative side of delivering us from the Evil One, which our heavenly Father always desires to do, if we will let Him.

In conclusion, we should understand that God wants us to talk with Him. He wants us to sit down and take the time to talk where He is.

We must come in holiness, desiring His will and being willing to forgive others also. We must believe He is the Great One or prayer makes no sense. But if He is, He can and will answer whatsoever we ask.

“Father, through prayer, make me what you want me to be.”

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Prayer changes things!

– William Drewer –

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Luke 11:5-13; Galatians 6:2

Intercessory Prayer

One of the great privileges and responsibilities of a Christian is to pray in behalf of others. This includes family, friends, neighbors, city, state, nation and world. Such praying requires perception, persistence and patience. But most of all it asks for a concerned and caring heart.

I knew a woman who prayed for a friend’s salvation for some twenty-five years. The two women first met in an international boarding school in India. One was the daughter of missionaries and the other daughter of the Danish Ambassador to India. While students together the missionaries’ daughter prayed for her roommate. Later, she went to college in the United States while her friend took a job in Denmark. Some years went by with faithful prayer being made for a friend. The Danish woman wrote her acquaintance, who was now married, that she planned a trip to the States and requested a visit. Not only was the visit arranged, but the hostess accompanied her friend to several places throughout the nation and Canada. While on these trips she gently witnessed, but got no response. Undeterred she continued to pray. As the years went by the Christian woman began to wonder if her friend, with whom she regularly corresponded, would ever turn to Christ. You can imagine her joy when she received a letter describing how God had used a women’s conference to bring her friend to Himself!

The caring Christian prays not only for the salvation of others, but for many other needs as well. This is especially true for fellow Christians. When we walk alongside in prayer we “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” What a joy it is to ask someone, “How can I pray for you this week?” My wife and I have found this to be a practice which often opens up opportunities to listen, comfort, counsel and pray.

When you pray for pastors, superintendents, evangelists, missionaries and other church leaders you are also sharing in the ministry of the Word. Certainly you should pray for the church, the Body of Christ on earth. Besides regular intercessory prayer for family members – my wife and I pray daily for our six children, eleven grandchildren and our mothers – you can participate with Christ in the redemption of the world. Somehow, as mysterious as it seems you can have a part in putting together a broken, hurting world. There are many troubled spots where people are starving, suffering and dying. They need prayers in their behalf, because they may be unable to pray for themselves.

The prophet Samuel declared to the people of his nations, “far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you.” (1 Samuel 12:23) May those of us who love the Lord be able to say the same thing.

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“Lord God, you have given me the awesome privilege of coming before your throne in behalf of others. Help me not to take intercessory prayer lightly. Grant me a compassionate heart and sensitive spirit for this eternal work. In Your Name, Amen.”

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will be alert to the needs of others and faithful in intercessory prayer for them.

– Robert A. Crandall –

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Matthew 6:6-8; Thessalonians 5:17-18

Expectant Prayer

Have you recently had one of those spiritual insights that changed your thinking? You know, a “eureka!” experience where you can declare, “I see it now!” The light bulb in your soul goes on when this kind of truth is revealed. Well, I had that happen to me a few months ago. I was reading The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard where he refers to several scientific studies which indicate that profound changes are made in persons for good (such as healing) with, “the appropriate exercise of thought, will and desire.” This happens both in the person who prays for self and the person who prays for others.

For years my parents had in their home a plaque which read, “Prayer Changes Things.” Indeed it does, and I believed it, but somehow as I read these lines from Willard I received new insights into the prayer that changes things and people. This means first of all, that when I am praying for myself or others, I can expect something to happen! Prayer is the expectant exercise of faith. God wants to answer prayer. He wills the best for his children.

I must also focus the energy of thought, will and desire upon my request. I am not just saying words, or “babbling” as Jesus called it. My whole being is involved. I am in earnest to see this prayer answered. Without such concentration of effort I am in danger of purposeless and powerless prayer.

Anytime I “appropriately exercise my thought, will and desire” for something I am praying, I trust God to bring it about. Prayer is not limited to the prayer meeting or the prayer closet! Prayer is appropriate anytime, anywhere. In fact, the ideal is to be in an attitude of prayer at all times, so that it will be as natural as breathing. In that manner I can fulfill the admonition to “pray continually” or “without ceasing.”

In such praying, thanksgiving must be prominent. In Philippians 4:6 we read, “in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Not only are we to be thankful for any answered prayer, but for the petitions we present to God, believing that he will answer for our good and his glory. The grateful heart knows how to pray “appropriately.” Appropriate prayer is neither selfish nor prideful, but rather sincere and in simple trust. Such a heart can be thankful in all circumstances knowing that, “this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

“Dear Lord, like your disciples, I plead, ‘Teach me to pray.’ There is so much I don’t know about prayer. Even though I may have prayed for years I still feel like a neophyte. You have reminded me again today that I must pray as if everything depended upon you. Continue to guide my prayer life as I seek to be your faithful follower. In Jesus’

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Name. Amen.”

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will seek to pray as Jesus taught me and the Holy Spirit continues to teach me.

– Robert A. Crandall –

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1 Thessalonians 5:17

Praying Is Getting Hold Of God

A little chorus I used to love to sing stated, “God answers prayer in the morning, God answers prayer at noon, God answers prayer in the evening, so keep your heart in tune.”

Is the answer to our prayers the most important reason to pray? Whenever the insistence is on the point that God answers prayer, we are off the track. The meaning of prayer is that we get hold of God, not of the answer. This concept is foreign to our shallow habit of praying.

Many of us pray only at mealtime, morning, noon and night. Then it is just a quick mumble, meaning probably what my older brother used to say, “Here’s the bread and there’s the meat. Now, bless your soul, dig in and eat.”

Ask a small child to pray at mealtime and the hot food may become cold and the cold food may become hot before he finishes. He praises God and petitions God for everyone he knows, name by name, sometimes even the cat and dog. Then when he finishes, he smiles in satisfaction, knowing he has communicated with his loving Father.

Paul says that we should pray without ceasing. How can we do that in our hectic world of rush hour traffic and demanding schedules? If more people would learn the secret of relentless prayer while driving, there would be less road rage. I saw a highway sign the other day that said, “Drive kindly.” When someone cuts in front of you, rather than cursing him, why not pray that God would give that driver peace of heart and a clear head?

When you become irritated at yourself that you snapped at a family member this morning, rather than ridiculing yourself, why not confess it to your forgiving Father and ask for grace to ask forgiveness when you get home?

When your thoughts turn to worry about situations at work, why not ask God to intervene and make you gracious in all your dealings? Then, as difficulties arise during the day, quietly breathe a prayer, thanking God that you know he is in control.

George Mueller was known as a man of prayer, trusting God daily to provide for his orphans. Many times the boys sat down to an empty table and George Mueller would pray, thanking God for the food they would receive. Then a knock would come at the door and bread would be delivered. The story is told that a little boy hid under the master’s bed, seeking to learn the secrets of this great man’s prayer. However, Mueller did not kneel beside the bed, besieging God to hear him hours on end. He simply stepped out of his slippers, pulled his legs under the cover and said, “Good night, Lord.” He had

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been communicating with God all day.

Have you ever prayed, “Not what I will, but what you will”? How can we know God’s will? Sometimes are we really saying, “I hope that you agree with what I want, Lord, with my plans, and the way I want to do them.” God’s ways are not always our ways, and the direction He might lead his child may disrupt schedules. Many times God puts us in situations that He might show the glory of God in our lives.

“Thank you, Father, that you are with us and hear us pray at any time in any place.”

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I pray that I may be more like the Master and thus I strive to know Him better.

– Laura Drewer –

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Matthew 21:12-16

A House Of Prayer

Everyone appeared to love Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem on a white donkey. They threw their garments on the ground before Him and waved palm branches as they shouted, “Hosanna, God save us!” They were actually expecting Jesus to become their king and lift them from the bondage of the Roman government.

However, the scene and the people’s attitude changed quickly when they saw what he did in the temple.

Jesus made a cord of rope and drove out the moneychangers and overturned their tables. His explanation was simply, “My Father’s house shall be known as a house of prayer and you have made it a den of thieves.”

Our pastor recently asked the congregation, “Is our church known as a house of prayer? Are we known as a place of fellowship? Are we known for our preaching? Are we known as a missionary church?”

Jesus stated that His Father’s church shall be known as a house of prayer. A beginning prayer and a closing prayer is not enough We need to pray for one another. There are many hurting people who attend our church every Sunday. Each one of us has needs that God can answer. We need to be concerned about one another.

Our pastor instituted a time within the service when we would turn and join in a circle of prayer of three or four people. He asked us each to state our name and one prayer request, then to take time praying. I have been absolutely amazed at the very personal requests from people I had not known before. The greatest number of requests are for salvation for friends and family members. Other requests express great concern for broken relationships in the family, in the neighborhood and in the workplace.

Some people have complained that they are not comfortable doing this, but our pastor wants our church to become a house of prayer. He has been preaching a series of messages from the book of Acts. He stated that Acts gives us a blueprint for the church today.

Knowing someone who prays or listening to public prayers from the pulpit is not the same as personally lifting our voices in prayer. Many of the praise songs we sing in our services today are really prayers. Some are taken directly from scripture. Our thoughts and voices are lifted together, praising God for who He is and declaring our desire to worship Him.

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However, when I leave the church on Sunday, is praise through prayer a part of my daily life? Do I pray for God’s will to be done in my life? Do I ask God to cleanse me and use me as a vessel for His glory?

When Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them to pray, he gave them the model we now call the Lord’s Prayer. Most of us have memorized it and can quote it without being concerned about the meaning. Read it again and scrutinize the different components: praise and recognition of who God is, petition for daily needs and guidance, a forgiving heart, protection from the Evil One, then back to praise for God again.

If I will pray my prayers according to this pattern daily in humility and expectation, I know God will hear and answer my prayers. In the process, I will become more like my Savior.

“Father, teach me to pray so I experience your holiness and love for me. Teach me to pray in humility, accepting your will and receiving your approval.”

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: To know God is to desire to fellowship with Him in prayer.

– Laura Drewer –

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Psalms 13:1-6

Problems? Try Prayer And Praise

“Troubles are often the tools by ‘which God fashions us for better things.”

H. W. Beecher

The words, distress, affliction and trouble, or forms of the words appear over 500 times in the Bible. This signifies that being a Christian does not exclude you from problems. Believers, throughout all ages, have experienced distress, affliction, and problems.

Psalms 13:1 & 2. PROBLEMS. David could have written what we call “Problems a Plenty”. On seven occasions, David cried out, “How long O Lord, how long? Will you forever forget me”? The prophet Habakkuk uttered the same words. As we read God’s Word we learn that many saints had their Problems a Plenty. They learned that God’s seeming ‘departures’ from them were neither final nor intended to harass. God always has a reason for His actions. His delays have Divine purpose. “He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.” Psalms 103:14, NIV. He knows how much we can bear.

Psalms 13: 3 & 4. PRAYER. James 5:16 “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” David cried out, “Look on me and answer, oh Lord my God”. David knew only God could help him face his foes and problems. Prayer was his first response, not his last resort! David states in Psalms 6:9, “The Lord has heard my cry for mercy: the Lord accepts my prayer.” A quote from Mme. Chiang Kai-shek: “I used to pray that God would do this or that. Now I pray that God will make His will known to me.” These are both examples of effectual fervent praying.

Psalms 13: 5 & 6. PRAISE. After David took his problems to God in prayer, he sang praises to Him. “I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.” Philippians 4:6 says: – – “by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” – – We are the ones who need to praise. Praise enhances our lives. True praise comes from the heart before the answer comes.

“Lord, teach me the joy of effectual, fervent prayer. Teach me to praise, as I petition.”

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Today, as I give my problems to God, I will offer ‘the sacrifice of praise’ even before God answers my prayers!

– Lowell Weller –

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Luke 9:18-19; Hebrews 4:14-16

What Is A Prophet And A Priest?

In the scriptures Jesus Christ is presented in various roles and given numerous names of precious significance for the Christian. People who knew Him when He walked the roads of Palestine recognized His greatness and uniqueness.

Dr. H. Orton Wiley wrote of His offices: “As Mediator, the work of Christ is resolved into the threefold office of Prophet, Priest, and King. Into these offices He was inducted at His baptism, and by a specific anointing with the Holy Spirit became officially the Mediator between God and man.” – (Introduction to Christian Theology, p. 214)

“Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, ‘Who do the crowds say I am?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.'” A true prophet tells forth a message from God. Jesus in His brief public ministry had been recognized as a prophet – perhaps like one of old, now risen, proclaiming God’s message.

The author of Hebrews sets aside a section (4:14 – 7:28) to convince the reader of the superiority of Christ as priest over all previous priests. We note: “…we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God…” (4:14). Louis H. Evans, Jr. in The Communicator’s Commentary, Hebrews, makes the following observation on this verse: “The summation of the great truth of Christ’s sharing our earthly experience is the foundation of our holding fast our confession. The reasoning is simple and touching; our priest is not so lofty or separated that He is incapable of understanding our human situation. Rather He is one who is totally familiar with it, having been tempted at every turn of life’s foibles and pain because He has been through it all, yet without falling before any of it. Because we know that such a Priest and Prince is on the throne of grace disbursing favor far beyond what we deserve, we can approach without fear or cowering, walking erect and receiving whatever resources we need to live life victoriously, overcoming every obstacle” (pp. 104, 105).

Corrie ten Boom writes of her work among children with learning disabilities. She asked, “What is a prophet and what is a priest?” A little girl answered, “They are both messengers between God and man.” Corrie continued, “Then they are the same – a prophet and a priest?” The girl thought awhile and then answered, “No, a prophet has his back to God and his face to us, and a priest has his face to God and his back to us.” Corrie says, “I wasn’t sure if she had learned that by heart, so I asked her, “Well, what was I today?” She said, “You were both – you told us about God and you were a prophet. Then you prayed. You didn’t pray for yourself, but you prayed for us – then you were a priest.”

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What a beautiful observation! Christ is both Prophet and Priest, and in some measure we can also serve these two offices in our lives – as a prophet, telling people of Christ; as a priest, talking with God about people.

“Our Heavenly Father, there are so many people who need the Gospel. Enable me to be a teller of the Good News. So many people are in need of someone to intercede for them. Enable me to pray sincerely with them. Amen.”

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: My heart and mind shall be so attuned to God and others that I will serve as a prophet and priest as He so orders.

– Floyd Cooper –

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Discussion Questions

  1. Tell to what extent you agree (or disagree) with the following statements: “Prayer is a ‘two way street’. We ask, God answers. God asks, we answer.”
  2. According to Matthew 6:5-8, what must the ‘attitude’ and ‘approach’ be if one expects God to hear and to respond to his prayer?
  3. Share an experience in your own life when you believed that prayer actually changed things.
  4. Do you believe that intercessory prayer is your opportunity to participate with Christ in the ‘redemption’ and ‘transformation’- of the world?
  5. According to 1 Samuel 12:23, what is the consequence when a believer fails to pray for another ‘needy person’?
  6. When you wholeheartedly exercise your “thought, will, and desire” upon a person (or a circumstance) in your prayers, what can you expect to happen?
  7. Tell to what extent you agree (or disagree) with the following statement: “Appropriate prayer is neither selfish or prideful, but rather sincere and in simple trust.”
  8. Give your interpretation of the following statement: “Pray as if everything depended upon you, and believe as if everything depended upon God.”
  9. Tell to what extent you agree (or disagree) with the following statement: “Whenever the insistence is on the point that God answers prays, we are off the track. The meaning of prayer is that we get hold of God, not of the answer.”
  10. When difficulties arise during your daily work and routine, do you quickly and quietly breathe a prayer, thanking God that you know that He is in control of your life and of the world around you?
  11. What do you think it means for a Christian to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)?
  12. From your own personal life (or from your observation of the life of a ‘fellow Christian’) give an illustration which demonstrates the truth of the following statements: “God’s ways are not always our ways, and the direction He may lead his child may disrupt schedules. Many times God puts us in situations that He might show the glory of God in our lives.”

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  13. Is your church known as “a house of prayer”? Share the ‘activities’ and ‘programs’ and ‘projects’ in your local church which emphasize the importance and the practice of prayer.
  14. Which of the following ‘components’ in the “Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13) mean the most to you? (a) Praise and recognition of who God is; (b) Petition for daily needs and guidance; (c) Request for personal forgiveness; (d) Request for a forgiving heart; (e) Protection from the Evil One; (f) Recognition of God’s greatness and power and glory.
  15. Share an experience from your own life which demonstrates the truth of the following statement: “Troubles are often the tools by which God fashions us for better things” ‘(Henry Ward Beecher).
  16. Have you learned, as a result of your many adversities and hardships, that God’s seeming ‘departures’ were neither final nor intended to harass? How does the truth regarding God’s ‘nature’, as recorded in Psalm 103:14, give you comfort amidst your trials?
  17. Should you (as a believer) pray that God will “do this or that” (specifically) for you, or should you simply pray that God will make His ‘will’ known to you? Do you think that God’s “will” (at times) is “adaptable” and “flexible”, and that God will therefore “accommodate” His will to fulfill the desires of your personal requests?
  18. Why is it vitally important for a believer to “praise” God, even when he does not receive the answer to his prayers which he greatly desired?
  19. According to Hebrews 4:14-16, what is the ‘basis’ of a Christian’s confidence in coming “boldly unto the throne of grace”?
  20. How do you distinguish between the ‘work’ (‘function’) of a ‘prophet’ and a ‘priest’, and in what ways did Jesus fulfill the ministry of both prophet and priest? In what ways can you (as a believer) fulfill both of these ‘functions’?

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Anticipate His Compassionate Intervention

Anticipate His Compassionate Intervention

Chapter Three

Anticipate His Compassionate Intervention
Experiencing His Sheltering Care 41 Look For The Sheppard, Stupid 49
Stand Still And See 43 Gaining Strength And Courage 51
A Surprise Birthday Present 45 The Posture Of The Mind 53
Hearing The Voice Of God 47 Discussion Questions 55

Psalms 61:1-4

Experiencing His Sheltering Care

The train was leaving the station, and we were not on it! It was a moonless night in southern India, and my wife and I were found to be on the wrong car, and directed to take our bags along a strange platform to find our assigned seats in a car much nearer the front of the train.

Hastily summoning a porter, we piled our bags and eases into his arms and placed a handbag on his head, then scurried ahead to find our proper place. The train moved faster, but at last we saw the open door of our car, with bands reaching down to lift us up. Breathless, we turned to take our luggage, expecting the porter to be close behind, but alas, he was nowhere in sight!

All our goods, including passports, plane tickets, and travelers checks, were in the handbag on his head. Where was he? Had he taken advantage of our plight and absconded with our documents?

"Stop this train!" my wife shouted, and plunged into the nearest compartment behind her to yank the red cord above the window, reserved for emergencies. Long moments later, the great train slowed and, out of the darkness, our heavy-laden porter plodded into view. The conductor, too, arrived to ascertain the cause of the sudden stop, and saw us into our compartment before giving the signal to proceed.

We had just experienced the "shelter of his wings." We were helpless, and in the midst of strangers, and far, far from home. We bad no tour guide to solve our dilemma. How to know what to do?

The Psalmist knew what to say…

"Hear my cry, 0 God, listen to my prayer; 
from the end of the earth I call to thee, 
when my heart is faint (v. 1, 2a)

There are other dilemmas, perhaps social or spiritual, that call for such a prayer. We may be about to lose something vital to our survival, or be overwhelmed by circumstances beyond our control Then we can pray "Lead me to the rock that is higher than I" (v. 2b) and the band of God sets things right How else explain it? We can sing…

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"Under his wings I am safely abiding; 
Though the night deepens and tempests are wild, 
Still I can trust him; I know he will keep me; 
Be has redeemed me and I am his child."

– William Cushing –

"Our Father in Heaven, take our hand and so enable us to trust you, that we may go fearlessly into dark places."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I shall trust him, so as to be safe under the shelter of his wings, at ALL times!

– Eugene Stewart –

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Exodus 14:1-31

Stand Still And See

Sometimes the things we think of as destructive are meant to save us. The setting of Exodus 13 is an awesome chase scene. Pharaoh has finally let the children of Israel out of Egypt. They have traveled far enough that they are beginning to feel safe enough to rest, when they look up and see 600 chariots and all the captains of Egypt and their men. (vs. 7-9) In front of them is the Red Sea. Panic sets in (vs. 10). Fear causes them to whine and blame Moses and heap all their anger on him when just moments before they had been feeling smug about their daring escape and resident super hero. I can almost feel their terror. There seems to be no place to hide and no place to run. Then Moses utters these amazing words: "Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord…" (vs. 43) I'm sure they were already running inside. They just didn't know which way to direct their legs. We can all relate to their predicament. Nervous energy oozes out of most of us. We are so busy trying to help God that it's hard to stand still, and to commune in His presence and to observe His power. But, in this case, they had no choice. With the Egyptian army behind them, and the sea in front of them, many of them had already given into fatalism before Moses was able to complete his statement: "The Lord will fight for you and you will hold your peace." (vs. 14) Image their astonishment when Moses lifted his staff over the sea and commanded them to go forward. I wonder if he had to give the first few guys in the line a little shove. The waters of the sea became curtains of protection on either side as they walked across the river bed. That think which they had believed to be destructive became an instrument of salvation for them.

I remember a day in the life of my oldest son when what he believed to be destructive actually saved his life. It was a Saturday morning. He was a young teen. He had a lot of friends. Some of them wanted to go to Dallas for the weekend. I didn't tell him he couldn't go because of bad company or a poor chaperone but because of something I couldn't shake. Naturally, he didn't understand. I didn't even understand myself. But in my heart I knew I would always regret it if I let him out the door. He was angry and hurt, and he pouted and fumed and gave me the cold shoulder all weekend. Imagine his surprise when one of his friends called Sunday night to describe the van accident. Two of the boys were still in the hospital. Barrett would have been sitting in the death seat. He came into my room with tears in his eyes and hugged me and said: "Thank you, Mom!" The next day the story came out in the local newspaper. He cut it out and put it under the glass overlay on his dresser to remind him of God's protective love. Today he's 27 years old, and he still stores it in his keepsake box.

Next time you find yourself beside a sea of troubles with enemies on all sides, remember the God of Moses. Let Him fight for you in marvelous and unexpected ways while you "Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord."

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"Dear God, when challenges come, give me the courage to trust You and to be still."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: If the God who fought for Moses fights for me, why should I fear?

– Loretta Jenkins –

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Matthew 6:1-34

A Surprise Birthday Present

Last Tuesday was my birthday and I had to go to Tacoma, 40 miles from my home. I do not like to go to a doctor alone. This time I had to get a cat-scan on my chest. My husband could not go with me because he had a doctor's appointment in Shelton. His hip and shoulder have been causing him a lot of pain recently.

I finally called a friend and asked her to go along. She agreed. We had a wonderful time sharing our hearts on the trip. I do not know Tacoma so she helped me find where I was to go.

After the appointment, we had breakfast together as I had not eaten since the night before. I told her it was my birthday and we exchanged stores about unusual birthdays we had. When I took her home, she gave me fresh vegetables from her garden. I was so delighted because I cannot grow anything in my rocky soil.

At home, I found my husband asleep. He aroused just enough to inform me that the doctor said he had tendinitis and had given him some strong pills. Then he slept most of the day.

Thursday, I went downtown and worked at Sonrise, a free clothing store. I volunteer occasionally as my schedule allows. After several hours of continuous work, another volunteer brought me a bath robe with the tag for $39.95 on it. "I think this would fit you; would you like to have it?" she asked. I looked up and all I could say was, Tuesday was my birthday and I had not expected to receive a present. However, for sometime I had been needing a new bathrobe. I had decided to tell my children that is what I wanted for Christmas when they asked in December.

When I returned home, I noticed that the next door neighbor who is moving, had a small fire in her backyard. The three retarded boys from next door were there. I walked to their house and asked their mom if she was aware of the fire and she assured me it was okay. Then she asked, "Would you like to have a piece of cake?" I never bake cakes but I felt I should make one today." All I could say was, "Thank you, Lord." Then I shared my testimony about how our great God hears our heart's desires and answers.

At times we get so caught up in trying to solve our problems ourselves, that we forget that God is with us and cares for us. If I had a lot of money and could have picked out a new bathrobe, I never would have found one so beautiful. It was dark green with red

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and purple Dowers on it. It was long and snapped down the front. I feel like a queen wearing it. Every time I think about this birthday, I will remember God's miracle just for me.

"Thank you, Father, that you know my heart and care about my every wish. Help me to acknowledge and thank you more."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The richest king never owned a robe so beautiful as God created to clothe His child.

– Laura Drewer –

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Isaiah 43:1-5

Hearing The Voice Of God

It was early in the morning of a lonely night in our apartment in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. My dear wife lay in the hospital, awaiting surgery following a cancer diagnosis that hit us suddenly in the midst of our ministry at the Bible Seminary there.

After months of vague symptoms, her doctor had ordered blood tests and x-rays, which revealed the malignancy. She was ordered to hospital immediately and a surgeon was consulted. He had scheduled the operation for the following morning. At 10 p.m. I retired and soon fell asleep.

At about the stroke of 4 a.m., I awoke from a nightmare, having dreamt that the operation was over, and I was consulting the doctor by phone. He seemed to be saying- "Your wife came through the surgery very well; but I am afraid the results are not promising. We did not get all the cancer, and she may have only three months to live."

"My God, what are you telling me?" I cried, "Is this dream a warning of hard times ahead for us?" Then there came a voice, clearly speaking these words,

Fear not, I am with you, Oh be not dismayed, 
For I am thy God, and will still give you aid. 
I'll comfort you, strengthen you, and cause you to stand 
Upheld by my gracious, omnipotent Hand.

Joshua 10:25, Isaiah 41:10

When through the deep waters I call you to go, 
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow. 
For I will be with you, your sorrows to bless 
and sanctify to you your deepest distress.

Isaiah 43:2, Psalms 18:16

I immediately arose, took my Bible and read a Psalm, then tried to repeat the words of the hymn I knew to be "How Firm A Foundation," but I could not repeat them. I had to find a hymnal and memorize those lines.

In the days that followed, a confirmation of His presence came many times as she recovered. Radiation was prescribed, and an appointment was made for treatments. As we sat in church a few days later, the pastor called for this hymn. As we looked at verse four, I whispered to my wife, "Honey, this verse is for your ordeal tomorrow."

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When through fiery trials, your pathway shall lie, 
My strength all sufficient shall be your supply. 
The flames shall not hurt thee, I only design. 
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

1 Peter 4:12, 2 Corinthians 12:9

"Father God, help me to trust you to 'walk me through' every life situation. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: God speaks in clear, distinct ways that provide support for my spirit in difficult times.

– Eugene Stewart –

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John 10:1-21

Look For The Sheppard, Stupid

Picture a sheep being taunted by a wolf. The wolf lunges toward the sheep as if to bite it, then stops short and gives a low throaty growl. The sheep, frightened, looks to the left and right for help; it sees none. Panicked now, it starts to run. The wolf ambles alongside and pokes his nose against the sheep's side just to scare it. The sheep tries to run faster but is awkward, while the wolf runs easily and casually nips at the legs of its terrified victim.

I don't like this picture because in this scene I am the sheep – fearful, vulnerable, weak- and the wolf has all the power and control that I want but do not have.

But that is not the whole picture. Sometimes there are many wolves!

What do we sheep do in these situations? The typical responses: Fret and sweat. Panic, worry, and hurry. Run. Whine and cry. Look for a hiding place. In haste and with urgency we try to take care of ourselves, and we make a potentially fatal error: we forget the shepherd.

For us, the shepherd is always near. Silently and invisibly the shepherd moves with us where ever we go, always near. How does he do it? That's a mystery. Why? A bigger mystery!

Jesus gives the answer. He watches over us so that we can have good lives. He said, "I have come that they (which refers to you and me) may have life and have it to the full". (John 10:10) Life to the full!

Life to the full includes, joy, friendship, being curious about a mystery and then delighted with its resolution, exercise and rest, mental and emotional stimulation and gratification, humor and laughter, and a multitude of other pleasures.

But life to the full may also include such wolves as fear, pain, enemies, confusion, depression and death. "I am the good shepherd," Jesus said then, and says today to you and me (John 10:11 a). He will not let the wolves devour us. "The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep". (11 b)

His care is so intense and complete that it is hard for us to understand, but it comes well recommended. "Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall" (Psalms 55:22) Will that work? Peter, who found (and created) more than a fair share of hassles believed it. He must have relied on God's promise from Psalms, because he wrote the same thing in his first letter: "Cast all your anxiety on him

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(God) because he cares for you". (1 Peter 5:7) That's an impressive endorsement of God's continuing love for us, his sheep.

There will always be wolves and we will always be vulnerable to them. But we don't have to be alone; we can be within the care of a shepherd. In the protection of The Shepherd we are safe indeed. Forever.

"Thank you, great heavenly Father, that you created me a sheep. Thank you for the provision of your son, Jesus Christ, who has promised to protect and nurture me in spite of dangers that lurk all around. I love you. Thank you for loving me first and for protecting me; I can't do it for myself. Amen."

AFFIRMATION OF THE DAY: Close to the shepherd, I am safe; completely safe.

– Richard Walters –

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Joshua 1:1-9

Gaining Strength And Courage

Their beloved leader is dead. The status of the encampment is precarious. There are enemies on every side who want the Israelites banished from their midst. It is time to move forward, and God has a message for them.

Joshua is the man of the hour. In prayer he receives his marching orders "Go over this Jordan… to the land I am giving… to the people of Israel" (v. 2)

The leader of a nation is a lonely person, isolated by both power and responsibility. Joshua felt it keenly, but was given the utmost in reassurance, "…the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." (v. 9)

Joshua had experience. He led the group of twelve that reconnoitered the promised land, forty years earlier. He had learned how difficult it was to persuade the reluctant and fearful. He had successful battles with hostiles in the land; he saw the consequences of moral failure inside his own camp; he watched as Moses had dealt with rebellion and complaining all too frequently.

Joshua had the promises of God, which had led the Israelites out of Egypt, over the Red Sea and through the desert of Sinai to their present place in Moab, facing the promised land, Canaan, over the river to the west.

But there was more, he had 'the book of the law' in his hands. (v. 8) The record of Moses' encounter with God was a source of inspiration, but was it enough to move the multitude, against all odds to the other side? Prosperity and success was promised, but at what cost would they be obtained?

Three times Joshua hears God say "Be strong, and of good courage" (vv. 6, 7, 9). The Lord was speaking. His people now must move forward.

The Christian message here is the name Joshua, a name which becomes 'Jesus' in the New Testament. Joshua led the people of God into the Promised Land: interceded for them when they went astray; and led them to victory over the forces of evil. Likewise, Jesus is the captain of our salvation who intercedes for His people, captain of our salvation who intercedes for His people, brings them into the promised rest, gives them an inheritance, and makes victory over sin possible.

Do you have a 'promised land' before you? You have the Book in your hand, and the Holy Spirit speaking to you. What hinders your taking the prize?

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"O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, do be our help in days to come, and our eternal home."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: With the Bible in my hand, the Lord by my side, and His Spirit in my heart, I will not be afraid.

– Eugene Stewart –

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Isaiah 26:3

The Posture Of The Mind

The Christian lives in a knock-a bout-world as any other person. He or she is not exempt from testing, taxes, troubles, tempests, tragedy, and turbulence. He has peace with God because of sins forgiven and Christ's abiding presence within.

The posture of the mind toward a circumstance in life has much more to do with our peace than the circumstance itself. This is not a grin-and-bear-it attitude, nor whatever- will-be-will-be, nor of unconcerned acquiescence.

The heart and will may be thoroughly Christian, yet the mind be in turmoil from outside forces. Oswald Chambers in his devotional book, My Utmost For His Highest asks: "Are you painfully disturbed just now, distracted by the waves and billows of God's providential permission, and having, as it were, turned over the boulders of your belief, – and you still finding no well of peace or joy or comfort; is all barren?" Is this your station now; or an experience from the past?

A. B. Simpson writing about inward peace says: "While we are burdened with our own cares, He cannot give us His. While we are occupied with ourselves, we cannot be at leisure to serve Him. Our minds will be so filled with our own anxieties that we would not be equal to the trust which He requires of us, and so, before He can entrust us with His work, He wants to deliver us from every burden and anxiety."

A gem from God's Word will enable you to regain peace of mind. Isaiah 26:3 "Thou dost keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusts in thee." Align this with 2 Corinthians 10:5 b – "…take every thought captive to obey Christ…" The stability of "the Lord God (who) is an everlasting rock" (Isaiah 26:4), enables the mind to have something/someone steadfast to which it may be anchored.

Peace is dependent in large part upon the posture of the mind. If you prefer another word or phrase – the attitude or the frame of mind.

Perhaps the following suggestions will assist you concerning peace of mind:

  1. As a Christian you have peace because of God's forgiveness.

  2. Upon awakening in the morning, immediately think beyond those things that may annoy or disturb you. With anticipation think of some little thing you will do this day – something you really enjoy doing.

  3. You must accept whether you like it or not, and by God's grace you and God together will work through this difficult situation.

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  4. Someone has said: "Are you looking unto Jesus now, in the immediate matter that is pressing, and receiving from Him peace? If so, He will be a gracious benediction of peace in and through you. But if you try to worry it out, you obliterate Him and deserve all you get."

"Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin? The blood of Jesus whispers peace within." – Edward H. Bickersteth.

"Dear God, I thank you for the peace you give. But in the difficult circumstances of life enable my mind to remain steadfast and trustful. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: If difficulties come my way today, I will trust God, and discipline my mind to keep stayed upon Him.

– Floyd Cooper –

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Discussion Questions

  1. Share a social, physical, or spiritual dilemma in which you felt overwhelmed by circumstances beyond your own 'control', that motivated you to cry out in "desperation" for the Lord's mercy and powerful intervention. (Notes Psalms 61:1-2)

  2. Can you think of a time in your life (or in the life of someone who is "near and dear" to you) when you experienced "God's protective love" (i.e., a time when you realized that God or His protective "angels" spared you from a serious physical or spiritual "calamity")?

  3. Have you ever received "God's protection" or "God's blessing" through what seemed to you (at the time) as something "painful" (such as the discipline and punishment of a parent, or the rebuke and reproof from a close friend, or the counsel of a pastor, etc.)?

  4. Have you ever experienced a time (or an occasion) when you felt overwhelmed with a sense of God's presence and with an overflow of God's "good gifts" (material and social and spiritual gifts)? As a result of God's "amazing grace", were you "lost in wonder, love, and praise"?

  5. Share a time in your life when you faced a "crisis" (physical illness, death of a loved one, financial loss, job loss, impending surgery, transfer to a new community and separation from relatives and friends, etc.), and in which you experienced a special outpouring of God's love and comfort and strength and companionship. During such a "crisis", did you find encouragement through meditation on Scripture, or through recitation of hymns, or through counsel with a friend, or through meditation and prayer?

  6. Why do believers (sheep) often forget their "Good Shepherd" during times of "crises" and "calamities", focusing more on the 'problems' (circumstances of life) rather than on the 'salvation' (the power and protection and intervention of the "Good Shepherd")?

  7. According to Psalms 55:22 and 1 Peter 5:7, what are believers commanded to do, during their times of "crisis" and "calamities"?

  8. According to John 10:1-21, what specific provisions does the "Good Sheppard" make available to "Sheep" (believers)?

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  9. Just as God promised the land of Canaan (i.e., "the land of milk and honey") to Joshua and the Israelites, do you believe that God has a "promised land" of new opportunity and ministry for you "to possess"? Since you (as a believer) have the Book (Bible) in your hand and the indwelling Holy Spirit in your heart, what hinders your taking the "prize"?

  10. Tell to what extent you agree (or disagree) with the following statement: "The posture of the mind toward a circumstance in life has much more to do with our peace than the circumstance itself."

  11. Do you think it is possible for the 'heart' and 'will' of a person to be thoroughly Christian and, at the same time, for the 'mind' of such a believer to be in turmoil from outside forces? Why or why not?

  12. Why is it difficult, if not impossible, for a believer to be preoccupied with his own troublesome burdens and anxiety-ridden mind (thoughts), and at the same time to be concerned with the "Lord's Work" and "Kingdom Causes"?

  13. What have you found as "helpful aids" during your times of "crisis" and "calamities" and "troubles"? (Note Isaiah 26:3; 2 Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 4:6-9)

  14. Does the stability of "the Lord God who is an everlasting rock" (Isaiah 26:4) give you assurance of a reliable "anchor" for your soul, amidst all the changes and chances and calamities of life?

  15. Give your personal response or reaction to the following quotation: "Are you looking unto Jesus now, in the immediate matter that is pressing, and receiving from Him peace? If so, He will be a gracious benediction of peace in and through you. But if you try to worry it out, you obliterate Him and deserve all you get."

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