Bible Reference: Mark 14:38
Bible Text: 38 Stay awake and pray for strength against temptation. Your spirit wants to do what is right, but your body is weak.”
Bible Translation: Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
Jesus had been around His disciples long enough that He knew their weaknesses, just like He knows yours and mine friend. However, He took a few of His closest disciples with Him to experience His agony; how He dealt with it (through desperate prayer before His Father); and how He wanted His disciples to be persistent in prayer at important times such as this particular time in the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus also taught them to be very careful in saying things that they were not prepared to back up through their actions. This was particularly true with Simon Peter who vowed to stick it out with Jesus through good times and bad, yet when asked to keep watch and pray for just one hour, he failed. Friends, when we accept Jesus as Lord; when we are on a high because of a revival in our souls; and when we are around Christian friends, we sometimes feel like we could conquer the world for Jesus, and many times we promise Him to be a very consistent witness before the lost and needy. However, may I encourage you to examine yourself closely for the consistency in which you have lived up to your promises? In the presence of Jesus and the safety of like-minded friends it is easy to feel like, and promise to be the hands and feet of Jesus, but how often do we back down from that when faced with challenging individuals, or when we feel like we are on the’ battlefield’ of life all alone? Jesus coached His disciples, and I believe that His plea is just as sincere today for His followers like you and I, to be diligent in our prayer lives, because even though we may feel secure in our commitment to live noble lives before God and to be His witnesses everywhere we go and with whomever we meet, yet we live in this old sinful world that is ruled by the prince of darkness, Satan himself. Remember, our goal may be to stand firm in our faith, but Satan’s goal is to trip us up at every possible opportunity. So let’s trust God and obey Him when He pleads with us to pray diligently so that we may stand firm against the evil one. Satan is lurking around the corner to get at us, but only if we let him, for greater is He that is in us than he (Satan) that is in the world!
Lord Jesus thank You for Your Word, and for Your encouragement and prompting to pray always. I’m sure that each of us face challenging times as we partake in this world in which we live, but as we were reminded in this scripture Lord, please help us to keep our eyes; our hearts and our very beings fixed on You. The source of our strength and the protection that we need from temptation is founded in You Lord. We need You daily to protect us and watch over us so that we may be living testimonies for You Lord. Please keep Your hand upon us today, so that as we go, our friends will witness the love of God in every way, and desire more and more to want to know You as their Savior. I ask these things in the name of the true and living Savior, Jesus Christ. AMEN!
SCRIPTURE FROM: 1 John 3:9-10 (TPT)
TEXT: 9 Everyone who is truly God’s child will refuse to keep sinning because God’s seed remains within him, and he is unable to continue sinning because he has been fathered by God himself. 10 Here is how God’s children can be clearly distinguished from the children of the Evil One. Anyone who does not demonstrate righteousness and show love to fellow believers is not living with God as his source.
OBSERVATION: It seems like there are many areas of the Bible that God chose to get His point across to us, on what characteristics one should look for in order to identify His children. In line with this, Christians are also taught what kind of life they should be living in order to align with the will, and person, of God. As we meditate on these two verses, perhaps God will open our eyes to ways that might help us clarify to the world, that God is the source, and root, of everything that identifies us!
APPLICATION: I believe that if we walk into a store and deal with an employee who is very friendly, customer oriented, and a strong proponent of everything that their company sells, we would quickly conclude that the particular business is one who cares about its customers and seeks to meet our needs as its core objective. Imagine then if that same individual freely talks about their Maker as part of the sales encounter? We may conclude that the company is probably a Christian employer who really cares about its customers. I believe it is important for us to also remember that when we walk in as a paying customer, employees are also analyzing us to determine our attitude and our demeanor. In fact, the employee might quickly conclude who might be the real source of our outward actions and our attitude, and the kind of God that we purport to represent. Friends, God is speaking to us through His servant John about the important key elements that truly shows the world who you and I really are. In fact, it reaffirms to the Master of this universe, to whom you truly belong. I believe a few golden sayings come to mind on this, such as: if it’s in you, it will come out of you; from the depths of the heart, or soul, the mouth speaketh; garbage in, garbage out…. So think about that word ‘garbage’ – let’s be reminded that if we fill our hearts and souls with the Word of God, that our minds will be more inclined to be like the Son of God. If our soul is filled with God, then our lips will be filled with praise and the goodness of God. Of course the opposite is totally true as well. So may I remind you, that when you begin to consider where certain words came from that flowed from your lips, or where certain actions derived from that you enacted, remember that they are a good indication of what you have been filling your mind and soul with. With God inside of us, we are most apt to speak and act like the One who fills us. With less of our God in us, we tend to fall back to our old habits and feelings. Additionally, we permit ourselves to mix with old company, and fall back into unfulfilling entertainment that only serves to bring back the ‘old’ man/woman that promotes our old master – Satan. The world will easily identify the source of our words and actions – oh that they might see Jesus!
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I pray for forgiveness for those times that I have opened the panes of my heart and allowed the evil one access to my thoughts, my words and my actions. I invited You to rule and reign in my life, and for that to be effective, I know that I must fill my life with Your Word and therefore understand Your goodness and mercy that is showered upon me each and every day. I pray for my readers – that they would not just skim over this devotional, but allow Your Word to penetrate their hearts and to encourage righteousness, goodness and mercy. The world needs Jesus, so they need to see Him, without blemish, so that they will know that He is alive and well, because they see the evidence in us. Thank You for loving us precious Savior, please have Your perfect will and way through the lives of Your children today. AMEN!
Bible Reference: Daniel 6:10-11
Bible Text: 10 When Daniel learned that the decree had been signed and posted, he continued to pray just as he had always done. His house had windows in the upstairs that opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he knelt there in prayer, thanking and praising his God. 11 The conspirators came and found him praying, asking God for help.
Bible Translation: The Living Bible (TLB)
Many of us meditating on this scripture today probably don’t have any state laws prohibiting us from any religious activities, but I wonder when last we could have possibly been found guilty of ‘praying’? Over in Philippians 4:6 we are told to not fret or worry about anything, but instead ‘pray’ about everything, yet in a country where we are free to pray and worship the God of this universe, we probably deal more with depression and anxiety than anything else. Daniel shows us that in spite of man’s efforts to hinder his relationship with his God, that nothing would separate him from the love of his Lord. I would encourage each of us to take particular note of this, because it doesn’t take much to hinder us in our prayer life. Of course I could only speak to our corporate prayer life, but it is sad that our midweek prayer and Bible study is attended by only a very small percentage of our congregation. In fact, so poorly attended that I am reminded by the words of a pastor in my younger life, who said that it looks like the church at large has voted to cancel the service, for the absence of the vast majority speaks volumes about how they feel about corporate prayer meetings. In fact, I wonder how God must feel when He looks at our corporate prayer meeting attendance, for He said through His servant in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ‘Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you, who belong to Christ Jesus, to live‘. So friends I would challenge you to seriously consider and declare who you are claiming as your King; your Lord; and your Master. Have you personally accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? God’s Word tells us that if you have, then you would have a desire to ‘pray all the time’. If your ‘love-for-God’ meter is measured by your prayer life, are you proud of the love you show to God every day? How about your concern for the church as a whole, do you attend corporate prayer enough to support its survival and its outreach into your community? Is your pastor empowered because of your prayers for him? Daniel maintained his prayer life in spite of a new law being enacted that he knew could have led to his imprisonment. How valid do you feel your excuses are for not attending your corporate prayer services, compared to Daniel’s commitment in the circumstances he was under?
Lord God, we are a sorry bunch, considering all the gracious gifts that You bless us with every day, compared to the uncaring attitude we extend in returning thanks to You. Friends are dying every day without Jesus, and ashamedly we acknowledge that our prayers and our influence in their lives could have made a difference. We have read, heard and seen the power of prayer, yet many have chosen to ignore its power through their attendance and commitment to pray corporately. Please forgive us Lord. I feel like we are witnessing the greatest need for revival probably in the life of Your church here on earth. Only those who have actually accepted you as Lord can be ‘revived’, so Lord, please begin a great work in the life of Your church – Your people. May Your children be reminded of the power of prayer, and their obligation to converse with their Master. We need you heavenly Father, revive Your church again, I pray. AMEN!
Bible Reference: Nehemiah 1:2–4
Bible Text: 2 Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. 3 They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” 4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven
Bible Translation: New International Version (NIV)
Ever shared your burden with a friend, and they promised to pray for you, but never followed up with you to see how you’re doing? Ever stood in a line of folk entering or exiting a church, and while telling one parishioner that you will be praying for them, you are already looking at the next person and greeting them? I am not your judge on whether you follow through with those promised prayers for someone, but I can honestly share with you that I have said those words many times before and now stand ashamed before God acknowledging that I have often not followed through with praying for the needs that I promised someone I would pray for. Nehemiah’s actions in verse (4) really spoke to me, but what equally ministered to me, was the action that he took in verse 2, where he asked about the condition of his Jewish brothers who had survived the exile. How many times do you leave church upset that the pastor never even asked you how you were feeling? Now, may I ask you a more challenging question, how many times in the last 4 weeks have you asked how things are going at the church at a very high level, or how might you pray for your pastor? Friends, too often we want to know what’s going on because we want every little piece of gossip we could get. I believe that Nehemiah is teaching us to settle for an answer like “I am really struggling today, please pray for my health”, or “I am feeling discouraged today, please pray for me”, or a pastor may say “I am feeling overwhelmed today because I am concerned about so many parishioners who are hurting emotionally or perhaps sick”. I believe that if we could settle for prayer needs such as that, instead of needing to know every little detail, then more pastors and/or Brothers and Sisters would share their high level prayer requests with us. But remember, most won’t share their prayer requests with us if we don’t care enough to ask. Now let me draw our attention to the depth of Nehemiah prayer. For he not only cared enough to ask about the condition of his people, but he followed through with days of mourning, fasting and praying before God for the needs of his people. Some months ago I took part in a prayer chain, where I committed to enter into God’s presence for one hour, praying over some heartfelt concerns. Because I have been accustomed to short, quick conversations with God, that hour felt like an eternity. Look at the condition of Nehemiah’s heart over this concern for his people – he mourned, he fasted and he prayed for days. May I challenge you to dig deep into your heart, yes even those of you that are trying to have hearts like your Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, and consider the last time that you were burdened enough about your church, or pastor, or unsaved loved one that you found it more important to pray than to eat, and your heart was so burdened for the need that you wept uncontrollably before God in prayer for hours and days before you felt a breakthrough? Let’s care enough to actually pray about those things that concern us, and/or concern those that we love and care about. The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man/woman avails much. Communion with God will best prepare us for dealings with mankind!
Lord Jesus, please touch Your people once again. Draw us unto Yourself so that with Your heart and Your love and Your concern for Your children, we too might become more devoted to caring for one another and praying sincerely for the needs of others. Regrettably, we have become such an instant, fast-paced people that we hardly leave time for showing deep concern for one another, for our pastors and for our churches. Please forgive us Lord, and teach us to pray in a way pleasing to You, and that consequently reaches the hearts of those that we pray for. Our prayers are to You and for Your glory, so help us to never lose sight of our Savior by slacking in our prayer life. The world needs You, heavenly Father, and Christians need more of You to be effective witnesses for You. Please renew a right spirit within us, beginning with me, so that the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart will be acceptable in Your sight, oh Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. AMEN!
SCRIPTURE FROM: 2 Peter 3:11-14 (ERV)
TEXT: 11 Everything will be destroyed in this way. So what kind of people should you be? Your lives should be holy and devoted to God. 12 You should be looking forward to the day of God, wanting more than anything else for it to come soon.When it comes, the sky will be destroyed with fire, and everything in the sky will melt with heat. 13 But God made a promise to us. And we are waiting for what he promised—a new sky and a new earth. That will be the place where goodness lives. 14 Dear friends, we are waiting for this to happen. So try as hard as you can to be without sin and without fault. Try to be at peace with God.
OBSERVATION: God used Peter to remind Christians of his day, and to remind us today, that He will return. He has promised that! While we wait, Peter is warning us of the things that will bombard us, and the people that will discourage us, by doubting and questioning the integrity of God. In the focal verses, we are reminded of what kind of people we should strive to be while we wait. Because this applies to us today, we must be very familiar with what the Word of God instructs us, so let us stop and meditate on this for a while today.
APPLICATION: As kids, we might remember our parents either threatening us, or promising to reward us, depending on how well we behaved, and how obedient we were to baby sitters while our parents are out. Often they would return and ask the sitter how the kids did while they were away. Through Peter, God is instructing us on how we should act while He is readying our eternal home! As we stop and meditate, I wonder how we would rate ourselves on how we’re doing? Here are some things that stood out to me in this Scripture:
PRAYER: Father God, You have such awesome plans in mind for us, and we know this from the promises You have made in Your Word, yet we still seem so unenthused by the look ahead to THE DAY when You will welcome us home. All we know of here on earth are things like: heartaches, financial burdens, health challenges, hatred and many other things that pull us down every day. But to look through the clouds of doubt and heartaches of daily life here on earth, and to know that our Savior is awaiting our arrival with open, loving arms, does it not give you joy for today and great hope for tomorrow? Friends, if your know my Savior, let’s live like He ordained it in these verses today. If you don’t know Jesus personally, may I encourage you to seek Him out now and accept Him as Lord of your life? Read through my Footnote below and follow the plan of salvation outlined there. Accept Him today friend, while there is still time! AMEN!