Devotions: May 22nd – 27th

22 May

The Impact of Prayer

1 Thessalonians 5:17-18

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

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

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

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

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

23 May

Recognize Your Vulnerability

1 Corinthians 10:12-13

Some Christians see a fellow believer fall into sin but fail to acknowledge that they, too, could stumble. That’s dangerous. Satan has them right where he wants them: deceived by a false sense of confidence. Three enemies are constantly at work trying to bring us down: the Devil, his world system, and our own treacherous flesh.

Even though believers have a righteous standing before God, we must each, like Paul, acknowledge an internal problem: “sin which dwells in me” (Rom. 7:20). Satan takes full advantage of this weakness, luring us with fleshly and worldly temptations. He stokes our pride so we’ll be blinded to our own vulnerability to stumbling.

Christians need to be continually on guard. Since ignorance–of the nature of sin, the strategies of the Enemy, and our own areas of weakness–sets us up for failure, we cannot afford to be careless in our thinking. Anytime you find yourself excusing, redefining, or rationalizing sin, you’ve lost your sensitivity to the Lord. God’s Word must always fill our minds and direct our steps.

If you’ve drifted from the Lord, turn back to Him by acknowledging your sin and accepting full responsibility for it. Repentance simply means changing your mind and going in a different direction–toward God instead of away from Him.

The next step is harder. Respond with gratitude for the Lord’s chastisement. Every time believers fall into sin, God lovingly works to bring them back into a fellowship with Him. His discipline may be painful, but it’s always good because it brings us to our senses and reconnects us with our Father.

24 May

When a Nation Turns Its Back on God

2 Chronicles 33

Hezekiah was a god-fearing king who brought about reformation among the Israelites. His son Manasseh, however, was an evil ruler. He had watched his father walk with God and live according to Scripture. Yet he chose to ignore the Lord.

Manasseh worshipped false gods, even to the point of sacrificing his sons by fire in order to praise Molech. He practiced much evil—including witchcraft and sorcery— and led Israel astray, thereby provoking God to anger. The king, along with the people, paid a high price for his rebellion.

This story illustrates the Lord’s intolerance of a nation’s disregard toward Him. Now consider our country. We, too, are a nation that pushes God aside—one that has turned away from the only true God and embraced idols. Perhaps these aren’t statues of stone, but we worship money, sports ability, fame, and reputation, to name a few.

The United States of America was founded on biblical principles with the intent to guarantee freedom of worship. But over time, we have removed the Lord from many aspects of public life. Prayer in schools, for instance, was deemed unconstitutional. What was once a “nation under God” has turned into a country that tolerates a growing number of sins and yet belittles absolute truth.

If a nation turns its back on the Lord, His judgment is inevitable unless the people repent and make Him Lord once again. As believers, our responsibility is to pray that God would draw the heart of our country back to Himself—and to help the gospel and truth spread through our land.

25 May

God Is Always In Control

Isaiah 45:5-7

I admit that I often don’t understand why bad things happen. Even so, I believe that God has a purpose for everything He does or permits. My faith is rooted in the biblical principle that says the Lord is sovereign (Ps. 22:28). He is in absolute control of this universe, the natural and political climate of this earth, and my life and yours.

When we are in the midst of a trial, it is hard to resist crying out, “God, Why is this happening?” Sometimes we get the answer and sometimes we don’t. What we can be sure of is that nothing happens by accident or coincidence. He has a purpose for even our most painful experiences. Moreover, we have His promise to “cause all things to work together for good to those who love God” (Rom. 8:28).

Seeing in advance how the Lord will work evil or hurt for our benefit is very difficult, if not impossible. My limited human perspective doesn’t allow me to grasp His greater plan. However, I can confirm the truth of this biblical promise because the Father’s good handiwork appears all through my pain, hardship, and loss. I have experienced Him turn mourning into gladness and have seen Him reap bountiful blessings and benefits from my darkest hours.

As believers, we must accept that God won’t always make sense to us. Isaiah teaches that His ways and thoughts are higher than our own (Isa. 55:9). He sees the beautifully completed big picture. We can rely on the fact that God is in control, no matter how wildly off-kilter our world seems to spin.

26 May

The Dangers of False Teaching

Galatians 1:6-9

The Word of God is truth that’s living and able to penetrate human souls (Heb. 4:12). Consider how powerful Scripture is: it can change hearts, save lives from eternal condemnation, and give hope to the hopeless.

Is it any wonder, then, that the Bible is a battlefield of Satan? The Devil will do his best to destroy its message and truth. In fact, this has been our Enemy’s continuous goal since he chose to turn from God.

Our heavenly Father has graciously let us know in advance the outcome of this ongoing battle: Truth will prevail. But while the Lord has the ultimate victory, Satan can gain ground among individuals. His tactics are dangerous and deceptive to the unsuspecting. For this reason, we should carefully guard against his attacks, which are hard to recognize unless we are prepared.

False teaching is one of Satan’s preferred tactics for leading us astray. At first glance, such instruction often seems to align with Scripture, but do not be misled by the deception. Two things are essential for standing firm against these slippery falsehoods: to be well grounded in the truth of God’s Word and to listen to His Spirit. Only then can we recognize the error and avoid the pitfalls of Satan’s lies.

The Enemy longs to mislead believers so they’ll be ineffective for the kingdom. He also wants to keep all unsaved souls far from salvation through Jesus Christ. Friends, prepare for battle. Grow in the knowledge of truth, and lean on God’s Spirit to guide you moment by moment.

27 May

Responding to Accusation

Luke 12:11-12

When conflict occurs, the natural reaction is to blame someone else and defend yourself. But believers must respond differently. Once, I was publicly chastised for a wrong I had not committed. Thankfully, the Lord enabled me to remain calm rather than react angrily. Praying first is always the best response in a crisis. When we do, God supernaturally provides that which we can’t muster up ourselves.

  • Spiritual discernment. The Lord, who perfectly understands the source of every problem, can give us insight beyond our limited perspective. Perhaps there’s been a communication breakdown, a feeling of jealousy on the other person’s part, or a mistake we unknowingly made. The Holy Spirit can show us how to approach our accuser and see beyond hurtful words or actions.
  • A quiet spirit. Our human nature wants to react quickly so that we can defend ourselves. That’s why we must first deliberately focus our attention on the Lord and experience the inward peace He alone makes available to us (John 14:27).
  • Wisdom. Jesus told His disciples the Holy Spirit would give them wise words to say when they faced hostile authorities. He’ll do the same for you. Ask Him to put a seal on your lips until He shows you what to say and when (Ps. 141:3).

We don’t have to react to criticism with anger and self-protection the way the world does. Instead, we are called to represent Christ in every situation by depending on Him. In responding as He directs, we bring Him glory and cause unbelievers to want to know the source of our strength.

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