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Friday, September 16, 2016

Pray Without Ceasing (and other devotionals)

Today's ReadingGenesis 41Matthew 12:1-23

Today's Thoughts: Pray Without Ceasing

Pray without ceasing. - 1 Thessalonians 5:17

How do we do that? Well, I studied prayer for a while as if it were a science. I read about men who were known to be prayer warriors. But I noticed that by the end of their lives, many of them said that the one regret they had was that they didn’t pray enough. Immediately I prayed, “Oh Lord, don’t let that happen to me. Do not let anyone quote me saying that. Teach me to pray without ceasing. Teach me to tap into Your heart at the mall as much as when I am in trouble or in pain. Teach me that You are listening at a rock concert as well as at the beach. Teach me to include You in everything and take nothing for granted. And oh Lord, teach me to thank You for it all.”
God has given us His Holy Spirit on earth and has a will for us that He wants fulfilled on earth as it is in heaven. So, what does it take to have God’s heart so much in mine that He can fulfill His will on earth as it is in heaven with me? Verses like “Ask and it will be given,” “Whatever you ask, it will be given,” allowed me permission to ask for everything. I realized that He was with me wherever I went. He just wanted to be included. He heard my words but knew the desires of my heart. He might not answer my words but He would fulfill the desire. And as time passed, I realized that He placed a lot of those desires in my heart just so He could fulfill them. The key was learning to pinpoint my true motivation. God looks at my heart and He weighs the thoughts and motives of the heart. If I was asking out of selfishness, He didn’t answer. If I told Him that I thought my motive was selfish, He answered. And He would answer those prayers just like I asked. So I got another piece in the puzzle. God rewards honesty.
I could not have learned these lessons without writing out my prayers.  Prayer Journaling helps to clarify your thoughts, intents and motives. Writing allows you to focus and really understand who you are and what you want before the Lord. We have prayer journals that have helped us. And we have instructional CDs to teach you how to get started. Our heart’s desire is that you may learn to pray God’s heart and for you to see heaven open up on earth as He uses you, for we serve an Awesome and Faithful God.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT)
You can have all the gifts and be very immature. Spiritual increase is not by knowing all these things, the way of growth is not by faith's power externally manifested, but more by inward endurance. Do you want to know the way of the increase of God? It is by love. What the Lord needs is an open, pure spirit towards Himself, and love toward all saints; the Lord will bring into His greater fullness where there is a genuine love one to the other - in Him.... The Ephesian letter in which there is the fullest unveiling of heavenly truth in the deepest teaching concerning the Church, the Body of Christ, there is from start to finish the golden thread of love running all through; this is significant when you consider what the letter contains. 1 Corinthians 13 is the great chapter on love, and is put over beside all the "gifts". Love is the real spirituality that is spirituality. Love is the most difficult and the greatest of all gifts. "Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own affections" (2 Cor. 6:12 ASV). You are so narrow, so limited, like a closed hedge, pent up, cramped! "Our heart is enlarged, ye are not straitened in us."
The measure of our spiritual life is no greater than our heart; the knowledge that is in the head is not the measure of spirituality, the way for your release, emancipation, increase, abundance is the way of the heart. Spirituality is not mental agreement on things stated in the Word, it is the melting of one heart to another – to all saints. The devil has locked up a number of the Lord's children as in a padded room of their own limitations; frozen their love by something between them and other children of God. The way out is by increase of love; and we shall remain locked up until we are there.... True spirituality is the measure of love of God shed abroad in the heart, all the spirituals rest upon and have their rise out of love. Not power, or knowledge, or different gifts, these are not the first things, the first thing is love. That leads to the increase of God.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Job 42:1-6

(1) Then Job answered the LORD and said: (2) "I know that You can do everything,
And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. (3) You asked, "Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?"
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. (4) Listen, please, and let me speak;
You said, "I will question you, and you shall answer Me." (5) "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,
But now my eye sees You. (6) Therefore I abhormyself,
And repent in dust and ashes."
New King James Version  

The images Job held both of God in His relationship with Job and of himself in his relationship with God and fellow man are shattered into an unrecognizable mass of pulp. Above all, Job now knows that God owes him only what He determines that He owes him. God is not beholden to mankind for anything.
Will we claim that God owes us anything because of our good works? God does not owe us a thing, even if we do obey Him perfectly! Our covenant with Him is not made on that basis. The covenant is made knowing that we owe Himeverything. We have nothing to bargain with. Do we receivesalvation because we trade keeping the Sabbath or paying tithes for it?
Job is truly humbled. Do we recognize humility when we see it? Do we know what it really is? Humility is an internal matter, one of the heart, not one of outside appearance.Moses was a humble man, but he also had a commanding presence. However, a person's humility greatly affects what those watching him see and hear emanate from him.
Godly humility is not a giant inferiority complex, as some believe it to be. Man by nature is not humble; by nature, we are well-pleased with ourselves and insane enough to think that we deserve something good from the hand of God. This describes almost exactly what Job thought of himself in his relationship with God. Men think that as long as God allows them to conduct their lives in a civil way, keeping themselves from the grosser sins, then everything is fine in their relationship with Him. The important reality of true humility is far from what men think, as Job certainly discovered.

~John W. Ritenbaugh~

I once learned a precious lesson from a little girl!

(George Everard, "Victory in the Battle!")

I once learned a precious lesson from a little girl. I was walking along a road in my town, when a little girl came walking by my side. I saw that she was not a poor child seeking relief, so I wondered what she needed. After a few moments I bent down and asked her if I could do anything for her; but I only heard a sob. Soon I tried again, and, after a little delay, I just heard the words, "Rough men! So frightened!" 

I looked around and saw some railroad workers returning from their work, and I imagine they were not very sober, and had been fighting or quarreling along the way. So I took hold of the child's hand, and inquiring where she lived, I took her to the gate and saw the little girl cheerfully run up the garden and enter her house.

It seemed to me just a type and picture of the way in which a Christian should act in temptation. Go near to Christ, and put confidence in Him. Go and nestle by His side and under His wing--and remember that He cares for you, and will go with you and protect you. Take hold of His hand and tell Him your trouble--and look to Him to go with you every step of your homeward journey. And He will do it. He won't reject your humble suit. He won't turn away from you and leave you. Oh no! He delights in those who flee to Him and trust in Him! He will keep them from their fears and dangers, and bring them to the Father's house in peace.

His name shall be called Wonderful.

The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth. - Thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

They shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. - JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

All men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. - God ... hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name. - Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; and hath put all things under his feet. - He had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself ... KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

Touching the Almighty, we cannot find him out. - What is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?

ISA. 9:6. John 1:14. -Psa. 138:2. Matt. 1:23. Matt. 1:21. John 5:23. Phi. 2.9. -Eph. 1:21,22. Rev. 19:12,16. Job 37:23. Prov. 30:4.

The Lord's portion is his people.
Ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's. - I am my beloved's, and his desire is toward me. - I am his. - The Son of God ... loved me, and gave himself for me.

Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. - The LORD hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day.

Ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. - Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. - A spiritual house, an holy priesthood.

They shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels. - All mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. - The glory of his inheritance in the saints.

DEUT. 32:9. I Cor. 3:23. Song 7:10. Song 2:16. Gal. 2:20. I Cor. 6:19,20. Deut. 4:20. I Cor. 3:9. Heb. 3:6. I Pet. 2:5. Mal. 3:17. John 17:10. -Eph. 1:18.

~Samuel Bagster~

Did you ever hear the dream of Gutenberg?

(George Everard, "The Importance of Reading")

Did you ever hear the dream of Gutenberg? He was just about to put forward his invention of the printing press, and it seemed to him as if an angel came and spoke to him:
"John Gutenberg, you have made your name immortal--but at what a cost! Think well what you are doing! The ungodly are many more than the godly. Your work will but multiply their blasphemies and lies. You have uncovered the bottomless pit--and a swarm of seducing spirits shall henceforth come out and turn earth into Hell. Oh think of millions of souls corrupted by your achievement. See the poison of fiends distilled into the souls of boys and girls, making them old in the experience of sin! See that mother weeping over her depraved son, and that grey-haired father hiding his face from his daughter's shame. Destroy your press, for it shall be the pander of blasphemy and lust! Destroy it, and forget it! Forbear, by multiplying the resources of the wicked, to make yourself through all ages the partaker of their crimes!"
We are all aware that the dream has had a very sorrowful fulfillment. Amidst the vast amount of printed matter sent forth daily, it is to be feared that the evil sadly exceeds the good. None can tell how the minds of multitudes are corrupted by the publications that they peruse. Therefore, my friend, be careful what you read!

Give heed as to what you read. If you knew that on the table there were poisoned dishes, as well as food that was wholesome and nourishing--you would be on your guard, and touch nothing about which you were doubtful. Just so, exercise wise forethought as to the books and magazines you take up and peruse.

It is true that "as a man thinks in his heart, so is he." But it is no less true that as a man reads--so very much will he think. Mind, memory, conscience, imagination, will, affection--all will be influenced by that which you read.

The questionable novel, with its picturing of the worst passions of the soul, as is too often the case--ought not to be devoured as if it would leave no bad impression behind. I know quite well, that we all need recreation, but it is not genuine recreation to spend hour after hour pouring over that which is trashy, nonsensical, and worse--and will only unfit you for anything higher and holier.

Books Worth While
J.R. Miller
Much is said in commendation of books. But, as in other matters, there is need for wise discrimination in what one reads. Not all books are worth reading. There are many that are utterly empty of anything that is noble or worthy. One might read them continually all one's life — and yet be no wiser and no better. A hundred of them do not contain a dozen sentences that it is worth while to keep in one's memory, or that can be of any help or cheer or strength in one's life. This is true of many novels. They may excite a passing interest or emotion as they are read — but when they have been laid down, they have left in the life no trace of beauty, no inspiration, no visions of loveliness, no impulses toward higher things, no enrichment. The best that can be said of such books, is that they are harmless. They could not be indicted for bad moral quality. They leave no debris of vile rubbish behind. Yet the effect of such reading is really harmful. It vitiates the mental appetite, and destroys the taste for anything solid or substantial. It enfeebles the power of attention, thought, memory, so that the mind is less able to grapple with important subjects.
Then there are books which are most pernicious in their influence. There are all grades and degrees of evil in this class. Some of them carry a subtle poison in their atmosphere which even seems delicious to those who breathe it. We need to keep most careful watch over our hearts, so that nothing ever shall tarnish their purity. Any corrupt thought, dallied with even for a moment, leaves a stain upon the mind which may never be effaced.
If we would keep the tender joy of our heart experiences unbroken, we must hold rigid watch over our reading, conscientiously excluding not only whatever is obviously impure — but all in which lurks even a suggestion of evil.
A writer says: "Never read a book that is not worth reading for some end beyond the short-lived pleasure of a little excitement. A book is mainly to be judged by the gold dust which it leaves in the mind, as it sweeps like a river through its channel." Here is a word also from Richter: "The wish falls often warm upon my heart that I may learn nothing here that I cannot continue in the other world, that I may do nothing here but deeds that will bear fruit in Heaven."
When we think of the influence which our reading has upon our lives, we see at once the importance of selecting only books that are worth while. At the best, none of us can read one book in a thousand of those which are within our reach. Manifestly this one book ought, then, to be the best in all the thousand.
Yet many people make no choice whatever. They take the "last novel," regardless of its character. Many books are made only to sell. They are written, set up in type, printed, illustrated, bound, decorated — all for money. There was no high motive in the writer, no thought of doing good, of starting a noble impulse in some life, of adding to the treasure of the world's knowledge or joy. They were made simply to sell. So it comes to pass that every year, a flood of really worthless publications is poured over the country. People go into ecstasies over trivial works which please or excite them a day, and are then old and forgotten; while books every way admirable are passed by unnoticed.
Young people should read tried and proved books. Many who have not the courage to confess ignorance of the last novel, regard it as no shame to be utterly ignorant of the classics. It is quite safe to say that not one person in a hundred now reads Milton's Paradise Lost, and that not one in a thousand has ever read a translation of Homer's Iliad. With all our glorifying of Shakespeare, how many really read even his great masterpieces? The Pilgrim's Progress is known to the masses of the people, only from being referred to so often. Very few read it. We should get courage to remain ignorant rather, of the mass of ephemeral books — than to miss reading the great masters in poetry, science, history, religion, and fiction.
No book is really worth reading, which does not either impart valuable knowledge, or set before us some ideal of beauty, strength, or nobility of character. The ancients were accustomed to place the statues of their distinguished ancestors about their homes, that their children, by continually seeing them, might be stimulated to emulate their noble qualities. Noble lives embalmed in printed volumes have a wondrous power to kindle the hearts of the young, for, as a writer says, "A good book holds as in a vial, the purest efficacy and instruction of the living intellect that bred it." There are enough great books to occupy us during all our short and busy years. If we are wise, we will resolutely avoid all but the richest and the best.
"We need to be reminded every day," writes one, "how many are the books of unapproachable glory, which, with all our eagerness after reading, we have never taken in our hand. It will astonish most of us to find how much of our industry is given to the books which leave no mark — how we rake in the litter of the printing press, while a crown of gold and rubies is offered us in vain."

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