Monday, May 29, 2017

Bring Your Friends to Jesus

You may have made sacrifices in your life to help others have life’s necessities, an education, or better opportunities. They are all worthy sacrifices, but the ultimate sacrifice is made when we step out in faith to bring another to Jesus. Mark tells us of four friends who did not allow seemingly insurmountable obstacles to prevent them from bringing their friend to Jesus. Mark 2:1-12 .

Four men watched as their quadriplegic friend lay immobile, destined to a life of physical infirmity. The men developed an irrepressible commitment to their friend. They purposed to bring him to Jesus on a stretcher. The day they did, the crowds were alarmingly large and aggressive. No one would give up his place near Jesus so the men could bring their friend to the front to be healed. This did not dissuade these men. They did not stop in the face of impossible circumstances.

Because the stakes were so great, the four persisted. They had committed to bringing their friend to the Lord, and they did not waver in that commitment. They climbed onto the roof of the building where Jesus spoke, dug a hole, and lowered their friend down to Jesus.

What struck Jesus first was not the man’s paralysis but rather his friends’ faith. They could not heal the man physically or convert him spiritually, but they had an undaunted faith that Jesus could. The men believed that if they could just bring him into the presence of Jesus that He would do the rest--and Jesus honored that faith.

Jesus’ first move was not to heal the man’s paralysis. Instead, He addressed the man’s spiritual condition by forgiving his sins--a far greater need. Not only did the man walk out of the house healed physically, Jesus saved him from eternal death and gave him eternal life. His friends could not have given him a greater gift.

Often, we are satisfied if our families and closest friends are saved. It should not stop there. The paralytic may have been a neighbor, a former co-worker, or a family friend. Like these men, when God brings people into our lives and places their unsaved condition on our hearts, we can trust Him to honor our faith. Our only task is to bring them to Him. They may have no faith at all, but God will honor our faith.

Is there someone in your life who is unsaved? Are you committed to bringing that person to Jesus? You may have tried in the past with no results. George Mueller prayed for some people for 23 years before they were saved. Will you commit to praying with renewed commitment for them? Do you need to invite them to church or a small group?

Pray today that God will give you undaunted faith that your friend will surely come to know the Lord. Then be obedient to do your part to bring them before Jesus.

Dr. Michael Youssef

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Shield of Faith

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. -- C.S. Lewis

“We have an issue with the blood test. We are sending it to the lab,” he said.

“What is it?” I asked.

“Either mono or leukemia,” he said.

For twelve days, my prayer life went through the roof, as I struggled to find stability in a situation where I had no control, no certainty, and nothing on earth that could contain my fear. There was nowhere I could put my trust and expect return. Over and over I begged Jesus to do something, that He would be enough for me, that He would heal my heart as it was constantly being crushed with worry.

It was my son’s blood that was in question, after all. Our elementary-aged Cameron. His life was teetering on the brink of the unknown and there was nothing I could do about it.

Well, maybe one thing:

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. --Colossians 2:6-7

God has given us a shield of faith, a defense against the flaming arrows of fear and doubt. Again and again we must lift it up to protect our hearts and minds. During those two weeks I was suspended in the fog of uncertainty and fear. During those days I learned to pray, “Jesus, I trust You with the next 30 minutes. I know a whole bunch of stuff is going to happen, and I give it to you.” 31 minutes later I’d add, “Jesus I give you the next 30 minutes....”

It’s not always easy to do. Sometimes, big problems affect my concentration. Sometimes I can’t even focus on the words I’m reading in my Bible. Instead of just fighting through it, I’ll take out my journal and I’ll write my thoughts down so I can capture them on the page and take them to Christ. “All right, Jesus, here’s what I’m scared of, worried about, concerned about, what needs to be fixed.” At the end I say, “Jesus, I’m officially giving this stuff to You. Be enough for me and take away my worry. Your will be done.”

After twelve days, Cameron’s blood showed that he had mono instead of leukemia. While we were hugely relieved, I learned again what it means to be fully honest with God, emotional with God, surrendered to God, resting in God.

Satan’s arrows will come. He HAS given you the shield of faith. Will you raise it over your heart and mind today?

Lord, many are saying of my soul, “There is no deliverance for him in God.” But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head. I am crying to You, the LORD, with my voice. You have answered me from Your holy mountain. Selah. (from Psalm 3:3-4)

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Acquiring Great Faith

Hebrews 11:17-19

I’ve had people tell me, “I wish that I had great faith.” While most of us would like God to just drop that kind of confidence into our laps, it’s not the way He operates. Faith increases as a result of our obedience in little things. We all marvel at Abraham’s willingness to offer up Isaac at the Lord’s command. But have you ever stopped to consider all of his smaller steps of submission that prepared the way for this enormous test?

Throughout his lifetime, Abraham obeyed God. At the Lord’s command, he left his country (Gen 12:1-4 ), was circumcised (17:10, 26), conceived Isaac in his old age (21:1-3), and sent his son Ishmael away (21:9-14). By the time he was asked to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, he already knew that his God would always be faithful to His promises. His previous experiences had taught Him to trust the Lord.

In the same way, each small step of obedience solidifies our confidence in God. Then, when He challenges us with a more difficult assignment, a firm foundation of assurance enables us to trust andobey Him. Great acts of faith flow from our past interactions with the Lord. By neglecting His simple commands, we miss priceless opportunities to witness His faithfulness.

Having trouble trusting God for something big? Maybe it’s because you’ve ignored those “small” and “insignificant” promptings of the Holy Spirit. The Lord considers each of His commands important and promises to reward every act of obedience, regardless of size. Great faith begins with little steps.

from Dr. Charles Stanley

Friday, May 26, 2017

Because God Loves You

Today's Bible Verse:
"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." (John 3:17)

TODAY'S DEVOTIONAL - May 26th
Because God Loves You

There are stories that find their way into your heart and stay there forever. This is one that found its way into mine. There was once an elderly woman who lived in a violent, drug-ravaged, crumbling neighborhood in an old city. Her children had died before her. Time had left its mark on her too. She was no longer pretty in the eyes of the world. She had become wrinkled, stooped, thin and hollow-eyed. Her body was now half crippled with arthritis.

Still, this little old lady continually brought joy to the community around her. Everyone called her "Granny" and she was a loving Grandmother to all. As she moved slowly down the street she would sing hymns and share smiles. She had a kind word for everyone. She gave her gentle laughter as a free gift to all. She offered encouragement, said prayers for, and brought hope to the disheartened. She went about doing good every chance she could. No one who met her left without their heart feeling lighter and their smile shining brighter. Her serenity and tranquility remained a mystery to the neighborhood, though. No one could figure out how someone who had lost and suffered so much could live so beautifully.

One day a curious little girl ran up to the tiny old woman shuffling along with her walker and called out to her. "How do you do it Granny?" she asked. "How do you love so freely? How do you live so happily? How do you give so much to all of us everyday?" Granny just smiled at her and said, "Because God loves me child! Because He loves me, I love Him and you and everybody else!"

What a glorious truth she shared. There is no better reason to live and love than that. That is why this story will forever have a home in my heart. May you too make your life a beautiful gift of love, just because "God Loves You!"

Joseph J. Mazzella

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Starfish

There was once a wise man that used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.
 
He was walking along the shore one day when he saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself as he didn't think anybody would dance on the beach at this time of the day. Hence, he began to walk faster to try and catch up with the person.
 
As he got closer, he saw that the person was a young man and he wasn't dancing. Instead, he was reaching down to pick up something on the beach every now and then before throwing it into the ocean very gently.
 
When the wise man got closer, he called out, "Good morning! What are you doing?"
 
The young man looked up and replied, "Throwing starfish into the ocean."
 
"Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?"
 
"The sun is up and the tide is going down. If I don't throw them in they'll die."
 
"There are miles and miles of beach and there are starfishes all along it. You can't possibly make a difference!"
The young man listened politely. Then he bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves.
 
He said, "It made a difference for that one."
 
Each of us can make a difference to this world. Everybody is useful and it is just a matter of whether you want to make a difference.
 
Will you make a difference today???

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Like a Thief in the Night

BIBLE MEDITATION:
“For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” 1 Thessalonians 5:2

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
There was a man who went shopping and left his car and house keys in the ignition. When he returned, his car was gone. The next morning he discovered his car in the driveway with a note that said, “I was in an emergency. I’m very sorry. I needed your car. Here are two tickets for the Dallas Cowboys game.”

The man went in and told his wife, “You won’t believe this! There’s our car, and look! We’ve got tickets to a Dallas Cowboys game!” They went to the game, and when they came home, their house had been cleaned out!

Friend, they never expected it, and that’s the point. That’s how the Lord Jesus Christ is going to come as a thief in the night.

ACTION POINT:
How would you live your life differently today if you knew that Jesus was coming back in 24 hours?
 

Devotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers.




Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Proper Response to Conviction

- Acts 9:1-6

INTRODUCTION

The apostle Paul was a man who believed his actions were simply the wishes and desires of God. This was until the Lord met him on the road to Damascus. Paul’s warfare with the Lord was likened to Paul kicking against pricks. Though Paul thought he was doing the right thing, he was, in reality, hurting himself by putting himself at odds with the Lord. Some men in Paul’s position would testify to the Lord concerning their own good when directly confronted by the Lord. Paul, however, responded by submitting himself to the Lord’s conviction and seeking out the necessary means for proper restitution. He did not accuse the Lord or justify himself. Instead, the apostle asked the question, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS

  • (For children): Read how Zacchaeus, a disliked tax collector, responded when he met Jesus (Luke 19:1-8). Compare the response of the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-22). What can you learn from the different responses?
  • (For everyone): How do you respond when the Lord convicts you of sin? Do you continue to carry out your wicked desires, or do you submit yourself to the conviction and confess that God is right concerning your sin?
  • What would you be willing to do to make things right between you and the Lord?

PRAYER NEEDS

  • Ask the Lord to help you respond like Paul.
  • Ask God to give you a greater understanding of conviction.

HYMN

FOLLOW ON

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Confession of Conviction

- James 2:8-11

INTRODUCTION

Conviction testifies of guilt and transgression. It testifies that God is just while man is vile. It testifies to the gap of righteousness that exists between the two. If men were righteous apart from the Lord’s help, the Lord would never need to convince men that they are transgressors of His law. When men violate or transgress the law of God, the Spirit of God uses that law to convince those guilty that they are wrong and need to make things right with the Lord. The very presence of conviction confirms man’s guilt. It cries out that I am wrong and God is right. Perhaps this explains why in these last days, fewer seem interested in experiencing the convicting work of the Spirit of God.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS

  • (For children): When sin left the prodigal son in a sad state, he realized how wrong he was for leaving his father in the manner in which he left. He was ready to go back and confess (Luke 15:17-21).
  • (For everyone): When is the last time the Lord convicted you for something? How did that conviction prove your guilt? How did you respond to that conviction?
  • Unlike the judgment of men, all that are convicted of the Lord have been proven guilty. In what areas is the Lord currently convicting you? What does that conviction prove?

PRAYER NEEDS

  • Ask the Lord to help you respond properly to His conviction.
  • Thank the Lord for not leaving you alone.

HYMN

CHRIST RECEIVETH SINFUL MEN

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Evidences of Conviction

- Acts 24:22-25

INTRODUCTION

Man’s conviction is a work of God that begins within a man, hidden from the view of others. Yet, that work ultimately manifests itself on the outside. As the apostle Paul reasoned with Felix concerning righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, the Spirit of God took the sword of the Spirit (the word of God) and worked within Felix. Though Felix’s conviction did not lead to his immediate conversion, it visibly affected him by causing him to outwardly tremble. The book of Daniel tells us that the Lord interrupted king Belshazzar’s party and caused his knees to smite against each other (Daniel 5:1-6). The Second Book of the Kings tells of Josiah’s conviction that was manifested through his weeping and the rending of his clothes (2 Kings 22:19).

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS

  • (For children): The Ninevites were visibly convicted at the preaching of Jonah (Jonah 3:4-10). After denying the Lord, Peter thought on the Lord’s words and wept bitterly (Mark 14:72; Luke 22:61-62).
  • (For everyone): How does conviction usually affect you? Does it sometimes cause you to weep, or tremble, or some other outward manifestation?
  • Everyone responds differently to the Lord’s conviction. Why is it so dangerous to always assume that outward manifestations are signs of a deep inward conviction? Why do you think that the outward manifestations are sometimes faked?

PRAYER NEEDS

  • Ask God to keep you from mistaking evidences for conviction.
  • Ask the Lord to convict you when you sin against Him.

HYMN

TURN YOUR EYES UPON JESUS

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Humility of Conviction

- Job 42:1-6

INTRODUCTION

Once confronted by the presence of the Holy One, man’s personal viewpoint always becomes increasingly realistic. By all standards, Job was a good man, yet the presence of God caused him to abhor himself “and repent in dust and ashes.” Conviction always magnifies the greatness of God and reminds man of his own vile nature. Ezra’s conviction was described as heaviness (Ezra 9:5) which caused him to rend his garment. That conviction humbled Ezra to the point where he said, “I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens” (Ezra 9:6).

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS

  • (For children): Peter thought he knew more about fishing than the Lord. He soon became convicted (Luke 5:4-8). King Ahab’s judgment against his house was delayed because conviction brought humility (1 Kings 21:27-29). Even the best of men realize their sinful condition in the presence of a holy and just God (Isaiah 6:1-5; Daniel 10:5-8).
  • (For everyone): How does conviction work to rid you of pride? How does it cause you to magnify the greatness of God and regret your own wickedness?
  • When is the last time you truly felt the conviction of the Lord? What was your response to this conviction? Did it give you a more realistic viewpoint of yourself?

PRAYER NEEDS

  • Ask the Lord to help you see who you truly are.
  • Thank God for loving you enough to deal with you.

HYMN

AMAZING GRACE

Friday, May 19, 2017

No Repentance Without Conviction

- Psalm 51:1-19

INTRODUCTION

When David chose to take Bathsheba to himself, he sinned against the Lord. Sometime thereafter, the Lord began to work in David’s heart convincing him of his wrongdoing. David described this painful process as something like having his bones broken (Psalm 51:8). The convicting work of God confirmed David’s “bloodguiltiness” (Psalm 51:14). It assured him that he had sinned against God and needed to repent. This conviction brought great fear to David’s heart (Psalm 51:11). At the same time, this conviction led David to acknowledge his transgressions (Psalm 51:3), seek God’s mercy (Psalm 51:1), and ask God to renew a right spirit within him (Psalm 51:10).

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS

  • (For children): David sinned in numbering the people rather than remembering that God was the source of his strength. Afterward, his heart smote him. He confessed his sin and was willing to take full responsibility for his transgressions (2 Samuel 24:10, 17).
  • (For everyone): Do you remember any time in your life when you sinned against God and He immediately began working in your heart to show you that you needed to repent?
  • David likened conviction to bones being broken. To what would you liken conviction? How does it drive you to repent and get things right with the Lord and with others?

PRAYER NEEDS

  • Thank the Lord for working with you when you sin.
  • Ask God to help conviction lead you to repentance.

HYMN

ALMOST PERSUADED

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Desire for Conviction

- Romans 3:19-20

INTRODUCTION

By nature, man is full of pride and pretty certain of his own greatness. From early childhood, he seeks the praise of others for what he deems great accomplishments. He constantly boasts of his abilities, both physically and mentally. In order for a man to get saved, or a saved man to get his fellowship right with the Lord following salvation, each individual must humble himself under the mighty hand of God (1 Peter 5:6). Conviction brings such humility. Eventually, God’s hand causes the mouth of pride to shut. It reminds the sinner of his sinfulness and the just guilt he feels within. It shows him that he comes short of the glory of God and stands in need of repentance.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS

  • (For children): Read Luke 18:9-14. Which man was full of pride and which was humble? Even after we are saved, we have sin (1 John 1:7-10). If we think we have not sinned, we need to pray a prayer similar to David’s prayer (Psalm 139:23-24).
  • (For everyone): Have you ever been under conviction? How did it change your perspective of your own righteousness? How did it magnify the righteousness of God?
  • How did you respond when the Lord showed you your need to be saved? How do you respond when He deals with you about sin now that you are saved?

PRAYER NEEDS

  • Ask God to shut your mouth of pride and humble you.
  • Ask the Lord to help you respond to His conviction.

HYMN

WHEN I SURVEY THE WONDROUS CROSS

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Seat of Conviction

- Psalm 73:21-22

INTRODUCTION

Most men’s attention focuses upon the outward appearance of conviction. Yet, the Bible is clear that conviction’s initial work does not exhibit itself outwardly. According to Psalm 73:21, Asaph was grieved in his heart and pricked in his reins. No doubt, this work eventually manifested itself outwardly. Yet, conviction began in the heart where only God and the troubled individual could be aware of its work. Unfortunately, men have focused so much attention upon the outward signs of conviction that they fail to recognize the inner working of conviction. Because of this misplaced emphasis, Christianity continues to produce temporary, carnal, and fake conviction, ultimately producing another hypocrite. If the work does not originate within the heart, it is not of God and it is not conviction.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS

  • (For children): When Peter preached to the Jewish nation about the Lord, some were convicted in their heart and wanted to do something about it (Acts 2:5, 36-37, 40-42). God knows if your actions are driven by true heart conviction or some other reason (Matthew 15:7-8; Matthew 6: 2, 5, 16).
  • (For everyone): What are some of the outward manifestations that might accompany conviction that have often been mistaken for a true inner work of conviction?
  • Why is it so dangerous to mistake an outward emotion or work for the true inner working of conviction? What is the difference between how the two will affect you long-term?

PRAYER NEEDS

  • Ask the Lord to guard you from false conviction.
  • Ask God to help you be real with Him and with others.

HYMN

WHOLLY THINE (HAWKS)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Work of Conviction

- Romans 2:14-16

INTRODUCTION

Without the truth, there can be no true biblical conviction. By definition, conviction is the work of God that convinces an individual concerning the validity of truth and accountability for truth. The Spirit of God takes the law of God and writes it upon men’s hearts. That truth works upon a man’s conscience to accuse or excuse one’s thoughts. Either way, this work is very much the work of conviction. On one hand, a man develops the conviction that Jesus is the only way to get his sins forgiven. On the other hand, a man sees himself as sinful with no hope. In the end, conviction demands a holy God and a holy truth in order to forgive sin. Both elements working together bring true biblical heartfelt conviction.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS

  • (For children):God’s word is true (Psalm 119:160a; John 17:17). The Spirit was already working in the Ethiopian eunuch as he read Isaiah chapter 53. Philip, sent by the Spirit, preached to him from the same Scripture and the eunuch believed to the saving of the soul (Acts 8:26-38; Psalm 19:7-8).
  • (For everyone): Why is it important for believers to recognize the role of truth in the work of conviction? Why is it crucial to understand that it is God who orchestrates this work and not simply some man?
  • Does your conscience ever accuse you of sin? Where does your conscience get the knowledge of right and wrong? Who put that knowledge in your conscience?

PRAYER NEEDS

  • Thank God for the work of conviction in your heart.
  • Ask the Lord to continually convict you of sin.

HYMN

HOLY BIBLE, BOOK DIVINE

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Source of Conviction

- John 16:7-11

INTRODUCTION

Believing that one man can cause true biblical conviction upon another man serves as one of the greatest misconceptions concerning conviction. Obviously, one man can proclaim the truth to another, but only the Spirit of God can open that other man’s heart to convince him of the truth being conveyed (Acts 16:14). Even when the scriptures reveal that Apollos convinced the people that Jesus was Christ, the Bible student understands that he did so only through the help of the Holy Ghost (Acts 18:28). Apollos was merely the instrument. Thus, man is only responsible for giving the truth and doing so in a scriptural fashion. God then takes that word and makes it effectual in the hearers’ hearts.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS

  • (For children): Even though Paul preached the truth to Felix (Acts 24:24-25) and Agrippa (Acts 26:21-28), only the Spirit of God could convince them of sin (2 Corinthians 4:6). Compare Paul’s experience with the Philippian jailor (Acts 16:23-34).
  • (For everyone): How did the Spirit of God bring conviction in your heart as a lost person in need of salvation? How has He since that event used the same Bible to convict you of carnal living?
  • Why is it important to realize that you cannot bring conviction upon another individual? How should we pray for the Lord’s working in those to whom we preach the gospel?

PRAYER NEEDS

  • Ask the Lord to convict those who are lost.
  • Ask God to convict you when you are unwilling to witness.

HYMN

TAKE TIME TO BE HOLY

Sunday, May 14, 2017

What Is Conviction?

- John 8:44-46

INTRODUCTION

Throughout the church’s two millennia of history, many people have weighed in on the definition and meaning of biblical conviction. Unfortunately, all of this talk has done little to provide insight into an accurate understanding. The word convict only takes place one time in scripture—in the past tense (John 8:9). Yet, the concept appears quite frequently. Again in John chapter 8, one finds another key Bible word closely related to conviction. That word is convinceth. In fact, some have wisely defined conviction as the mental state of being convinced. In other words, one is never convicted or under conviction until he has first been convinced of sin or guilt. This should offer the Christian much comfort and understanding as to why the people could not convince the Saviour of sin. He was simply not guilty.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS

  • (For children): When a copy of God’s law had been found during temple repairs, it was read to the king, Josiah. The king was convinced that he and his people had been disobedient to God’s word. In turn, Josiah promised the Lord that they would correct this sin (2 Kings 22:8-13; 2 Kings 23:1-3).
  • (For everyone): Men could not convince the Saviour of sin. Why? Can you convince others of sin? Why or why not? Who is ultimately the only one who can convince of sin?
  • How does conviction take place in the heart of an individual? Why must he first be convinced of God’s righteousness and his own guilt?

PRAYER NEEDS

  • Ask the Lord to teach you more about conviction.
  • Ask God to convict you of any wrong presently within your heart.

HYMN

CLEANSE ME

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Pray for Us

- Hebrews 13:18

INTRODUCTION

The apostle Paul knew the importance of having believers pray for him. Among the things for which he requested prayers, Paul specifically asked for prayer that he might maintain a good conscience, living honestly in all things. He did not trust the condition of his conscience to his own efforts but depended upon the Lord’s willingness to hear and answer the prayers of the saints. Unfortunately, far too many Christians have become entirely self-reliant and self-trusting. As such, fewer believers request or take part in prayer for another man’s conscience. Instead, prayer has generally been reduced to one’s needs whether they are physical, material, or financial. Scriptural Christianity places a greater concern for the conscience.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS


  • (For children): Paul not only asked for prayer to keep a good conscience, he prayed for others to do the same (Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 1:9-11). Epaphras did likewise (Colossians 4:12). We should follow their example.
  • (For everyone): When is the last time you prayed for someone else’s conscience? When did you last ask someone else to pray for you and the protection of your conscience?
  • What is the difference between scriptural prayer and the modern prayer exhibited by the average Christian? How does your prayer life match up?

PRAYER NEEDS


  • Ask God to teach you how to pray.
  • Ask the Lord to protect the conscience of those you love.

HYMN

APPROACH, MY SOUL, THE MERCY SEAT

Editor's Note:
Tomorrow starts a series of Devotionals concerning Conviction...