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Making Big Requests

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on October 20th.

John 14:12-15 12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater `works' than these shall he do; because I go unto the Father. 13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask anything in my name, that will I do. 15 If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments.

Jesus Christ issued a bold statement when He said, “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” ( John 14:14 14 If ye shall ask anything in my name, that will I do. ). Since it is against the nature of our triune God to break a promise ( Titus 1:2 2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before times eternal; ), we know that the Lord will fulfill that pledge.

So when we make a big request and nothing happens, the problem isn’t with God. It could be that the timing is wrong or the answer comes in a different form than we expected. But it could also be that our heart isn’t in the right place. When it comes to our petitions, the Lord wants us to ...

Approach him in complete dependence on Christ’s merits. The Savior’s blood paid for our right to enter the Father’s holy presence. Jesus’ sacrifice at Calvary took away our sins and clothed us in righteousness, which allows us to stand unashamed before the throne. We don’t earn favor through works or get prayers answered because we are super spiritual. God responds because His Son sits at His right hand, interceding for us.

Approach him in holiness—that is, separated from all known sin. We cannot expect the Lord to hear us if we “regard wickedness” in our heart ( Psalms 66:18 18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear: ). Think about it this way: If God were to answer prayer when we are willfully living in sin, then He would be sanctioning our transgression. Therefore, believers must turn away from their wrongdoing before making big requests.

God is always faithful. He wants to provide you with what you need and then bless you beyond that. But first, He wants His followers’ hearts to be in line with His so that the bold requests have pure motives. Those who live according to God’s will can trust Him for anything they ask in His Son’s name.

Bible in One Year: Luke 1 Chapter 1 1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to draw up a narrative concerning those matters which have been fulfilled among us, 2 even as they delivered them unto us, who from the beginning wer eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, 3 it seemed good to me also, having traced the course of all things accurately from the first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus; 4 that thou mightest know the certainty concerning the things wherein thou wast instructed. 5 There was in the days of Herod, king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abijah: and he had a wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were `now' well stricken in years. 8 Now it came to pass, while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course, 9 according to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to enter into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of altar of incense. 12 And Zacharias was troubled when he saw `him', and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: because thy supplication is heard, and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. 14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. 15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. 16 And many of the children of Israel shall be turn unto the Lord their God. 17 And he shall go before his face in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient `to walk' in the wisdom of the just; to make ready for the Lord a people prepared `for him'. 18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. 19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak unto thee, and to bring thee these good tidings. 20 And behold, thou shalt be silent and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall come to pass, because thou believedst not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season. 21 And the people were waiting for Zacharias, and they marvelled while he tarried in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: and he continued making signs unto them, and remained dumb. 23 And it came to pass, when the days of his ministration were fulfilled, he departed unto his house. 24 And after these days Elisabeth his wife conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, 25 Thus hath the Lord done unto me in the days wherein he looked upon `me', to take away my reproach among men. 26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. 28 And he came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord `is' with thee. 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this might be. 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. 31 And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. 34 And Mary said unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee: wherefore also the holy thing which is begotten shall be called the Son of God. 36 And behold, Elisabeth thy kinswoman, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that was called barren. 37 For no word from God shall be void of power. 38 And Mary said, Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. 39 And Mary arose in these days and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah; 40 and entered into the house of Zacharias and saluted Elisabeth. 41 And it came to pass, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit; 42 and she lifted up her voice with a loud cry, and said, Blessed `art' thou among women, and blessed `is' the fruit of thy womb. 43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come unto me? 44 For behold, when the voice of thy salutation came into mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 And blessed `is' she that believed; for there shall be a fulfilment of the things which have been spoken to her from the Lord. 46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, 47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. 48 For he hath looked upon the low estate of his handmaid: For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; And holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is unto generations and generations On them that fear him. 51 He hath showed strength with his arm; He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their heart. 52 He hath put down princes from `their' thrones, And hath exalted them of low degree. 53 The hungry he hath filled with good things; And the rich he hath sent empty away. 54 He hath given help to Israel his servant, That he might remember mercy 55 (As he spake unto our fathers) Toward Abraham and his seed for ever. 56 And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned unto her house. 57 Now Elisabeth's time was fulfilled that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. 58 And her neighbors and her kinsfolk heard that the Lord had magnified his mercy towards her; and they rejoiced with her. 59 And it came to pass on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him Zacharias, after the name of the father. 60 And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John. 61 And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. 62 And they made signs to his father, what he would have him called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all. 64 And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue `loosed', and he spake, blessing God. 65 And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea. 66 And all that heard them laid them up in their heart, saying, What then shall this child be? For the hand of the Lord was with him. 67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying, 68 Blessed `be' the Lord, the God of Israel; For he hath visited and wrought redemption for his people, 69 And hath raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of his servant David 70 (As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets that have been from of old), 71 Salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; 72 To show mercy towards, our fathers, And to remember his holy covenant; 73 The oath which he spake unto Abraham our father, 74 To grant unto us that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies Should serve him without fear, 75 In holiness and righteousness before him all our days. 76 Yea and thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Most High: For thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to make ready his ways; 77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people In the remission of their sins, 78 Because of the tender mercy of our God, Whereby the dayspring from on high shall visit us, 79 To shine upon them that sit in darkness and the shadow of death; To guide our feet into the way of peace. 80 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his showing unto Israel.




From Failure to Restoration

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on October 20th.

Philemon 1:1-21 Chapter 1 1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our beloved and fellow-worker, 2 and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus our fellow-soldier, and to the church in thy house: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I thank my God always, making mention of thee in my prayers, 5 hearing of thy love, and of the faith which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all the saints; 6 that the fellowship of thy faith may become effectual, in the knowledge of every good thing which is in you, unto Christ. 7 For I had much joy and comfort in thy love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through thee, brother. 8 Wherefore, though I have all boldness in Christ to enjoin thee that which is befitting, 9 yet for love's sake I rather beseech, being such a one as Paul the aged, and now a prisoner also of Christ Jesus: 10 I beseech thee for my child, whom I have begotten in my bonds, Onesimus, 11 who once was unprofitable to thee, but now is profitable to thee and to me: 12 whom I have sent back to thee in his own person, that is, my very heart: 13 whom I would fain have kept with me, that in thy behalf he might minister unto me in the bonds of the gospel: 14 but without thy mind I would do nothing; that thy goodness should not be as of necessity, but of free will. 15 For perhaps he was therefore parted `from thee' for a season, that thou shouldest have him for ever; 16 no longer as a servant, but more than a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much rather to thee, both in the flesh and in the Lord. 17 If then thou countest me a partner, receive him as myself. 18 But if he hath wronged the at all, or oweth `thee' aught, put that to mine account; 19 I Paul write it with mine own hand, I will repay it: that I say not unto thee that thou owest to me even thine own self besides. 20 Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my heart in Christ. 21 Having confidence in thine obedience I write unto thee, knowing that thou wilt do even beyond what I say.

Sometimes a difficult situation can make us wish we could run away. Unless we keep our eyes fixed firmly on Christ and our trust anchored to God’s Word, desperation to find relief may tempt us to take matters into our own hands. That’s what Onesimus did. He was one of the millions of slaves in the Roman Empire, and the day came when he decided he’d had enough. Not only did he run away, but he also stole from his master.

Although Onesimus thought he was charting his own course by fleeing to Rome, God directed his path to the apostle Paul, who led him to Christ. In his attempt to become free, Onesimus discovered the joy of becoming a devoted slave of Christ. Now Jesus was his Master and Lord, and that meant he had to correct his wrongdoing and return to his earthly master. Since runaway slaves faced the death penalty, Paul interceded on his behalf with a letter to his master Philemon, a fellow believer whom Paul had apparently led to faith.

Until a certain point in his life, Onesimus had not lived up to his name, which means “useful” or “profitable.” (See Philem. 1:11.) But Christ changed his life, and he became a “beloved brother” who ministered to Paul during the apostle’s imprisonment (Philem. 1:16).

Onesimus’s story demonstrates how God’s sovereign hand works in our life even when we’re determined to be our own master. Once we repent and surrender to the Lord, He redeems our failures and uses them for His glory. The things we remember with shame now become examples of God’s grace and power to transform lives.

Bible in One Year: Luke 1 Chapter 1 1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to draw up a narrative concerning those matters which have been fulfilled among us, 2 even as they delivered them unto us, who from the beginning wer eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, 3 it seemed good to me also, having traced the course of all things accurately from the first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus; 4 that thou mightest know the certainty concerning the things wherein thou wast instructed. 5 There was in the days of Herod, king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abijah: and he had a wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were `now' well stricken in years. 8 Now it came to pass, while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course, 9 according to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to enter into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of altar of incense. 12 And Zacharias was troubled when he saw `him', and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: because thy supplication is heard, and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. 14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. 15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. 16 And many of the children of Israel shall be turn unto the Lord their God. 17 And he shall go before his face in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient `to walk' in the wisdom of the just; to make ready for the Lord a people prepared `for him'. 18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. 19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak unto thee, and to bring thee these good tidings. 20 And behold, thou shalt be silent and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall come to pass, because thou believedst not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season. 21 And the people were waiting for Zacharias, and they marvelled while he tarried in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: and he continued making signs unto them, and remained dumb. 23 And it came to pass, when the days of his ministration were fulfilled, he departed unto his house. 24 And after these days Elisabeth his wife conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, 25 Thus hath the Lord done unto me in the days wherein he looked upon `me', to take away my reproach among men. 26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. 28 And he came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord `is' with thee. 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this might be. 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. 31 And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. 34 And Mary said unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee: wherefore also the holy thing which is begotten shall be called the Son of God. 36 And behold, Elisabeth thy kinswoman, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that was called barren. 37 For no word from God shall be void of power. 38 And Mary said, Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. 39 And Mary arose in these days and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah; 40 and entered into the house of Zacharias and saluted Elisabeth. 41 And it came to pass, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit; 42 and she lifted up her voice with a loud cry, and said, Blessed `art' thou among women, and blessed `is' the fruit of thy womb. 43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come unto me? 44 For behold, when the voice of thy salutation came into mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 And blessed `is' she that believed; for there shall be a fulfilment of the things which have been spoken to her from the Lord. 46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, 47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. 48 For he hath looked upon the low estate of his handmaid: For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; And holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is unto generations and generations On them that fear him. 51 He hath showed strength with his arm; He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their heart. 52 He hath put down princes from `their' thrones, And hath exalted them of low degree. 53 The hungry he hath filled with good things; And the rich he hath sent empty away. 54 He hath given help to Israel his servant, That he might remember mercy 55 (As he spake unto our fathers) Toward Abraham and his seed for ever. 56 And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned unto her house. 57 Now Elisabeth's time was fulfilled that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. 58 And her neighbors and her kinsfolk heard that the Lord had magnified his mercy towards her; and they rejoiced with her. 59 And it came to pass on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him Zacharias, after the name of the father. 60 And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John. 61 And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. 62 And they made signs to his father, what he would have him called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all. 64 And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue `loosed', and he spake, blessing God. 65 And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea. 66 And all that heard them laid them up in their heart, saying, What then shall this child be? For the hand of the Lord was with him. 67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying, 68 Blessed `be' the Lord, the God of Israel; For he hath visited and wrought redemption for his people, 69 And hath raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of his servant David 70 (As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets that have been from of old), 71 Salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; 72 To show mercy towards, our fathers, And to remember his holy covenant; 73 The oath which he spake unto Abraham our father, 74 To grant unto us that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies Should serve him without fear, 75 In holiness and righteousness before him all our days. 76 Yea and thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Most High: For thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to make ready his ways; 77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people In the remission of their sins, 78 Because of the tender mercy of our God, Whereby the dayspring from on high shall visit us, 79 To shine upon them that sit in darkness and the shadow of death; To guide our feet into the way of peace. 80 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his showing unto Israel.




Prayer’s First Priority

Published by John Piper for reading on October 20th.

“Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” ( Matthew 6:9 9 After this manner therefore pray ye. Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. )

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches that the first priority in praying is to ask that our heavenly Father’s name be hallowed.

Notice that this is a petition or a request. It is not a declaration (as I thought it was for years). It is a request to God that he would see to it that his own name be hallowed.

It is like another text, Matthew 9:38 38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth laborers into his harvest. , where Jesus tells us to pray to the Lord of the harvest that he would send out laborers into his own harvest. It never ceases to amaze me that we, the laborers, should be instructed to ask the owner of the farm, who knows the harvest better than we do, to add on more farm hands.

But isn’t this the same thing we have here in the Lord’s Prayer — Jesus telling us to ask God, who is infinitely jealous for the honor of his own name, to see to it that his name be hallowed?

Well it may amaze us, but there it is. And it teaches us two things.

  • One is that prayer does not move God to do things he is disinclined to do. He has every intention to cause his name to be hallowed. Nothing is higher on God’s priority list.

  • The other is that prayer is God’s way of bringing our priorities into line with his. God wills to make great things the consequence of our prayers when our prayers are the consequence of his great purposes.

  • Bring your heart into line with the jealousy of God to hallow his name, and you will pray with great effect. Let your first and all-determining prayer be for the hallowing of God’s name, and your prayers will plug into the power of God’s jealousy.



    The Heart’s Desires

    Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on October 20th.

    Psalms 145:17-21 17 Jehovah is righteous in all his ways, And gracious in all his works. 18 Jehovah is nigh unto all them that call upon him, To all that call upon him in truth. 19 He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him; He also will hear their cry and will save them. 20 Jehovah preserveth all them that love him; But all the wicked will he destroy. 21 My mouth shall speak the praise of Jehovah; And let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.

    If you could have anything in the world, what would it be? Your answer reveals a lot about you. The psalmist writes, “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4). There is nothing wrong with desires—they motivate us to achieve great things. But not all of our yearnings come from God. Consider your aspirations and what they say about who you are:

    Do you hope for a position of authority in order to be in control? Longing for personal advancement in order to manipulate others reveals a lack of integrity, whereas a godly person craves righteousness.

    Do you dream about wealth and fame? Perhaps there’s a void in your spirit that you’re trying to fill. But only God can meet the insatiable needs of the human heart.

    Are you afraid to ask the Lord for what you want? Maybe you think He won’t listen, but God tells us to approach His throne with boldness and confidence (Heb. 4:16).

    If the Lord doesn’t respond affirmatively to your prayers, ask Him to make your desires conform to His will. Whatever you do, don’t take matters into your own hands and go after what you want. There is always a high price to pay for rebelling against God.

    God cares for us bountifully, but that doesn’t mean we can expect Him to deliver whatever we want, whenever we want it. Only when our dreams align with His plan for our life will He fulfill them. The thoughts that preoccupy us are an accurate barometer of the state of our relationship with Christ.

    Bible in One Year: Luke 1 Chapter 1 1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to draw up a narrative concerning those matters which have been fulfilled among us, 2 even as they delivered them unto us, who from the beginning wer eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, 3 it seemed good to me also, having traced the course of all things accurately from the first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus; 4 that thou mightest know the certainty concerning the things wherein thou wast instructed. 5 There was in the days of Herod, king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abijah: and he had a wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were `now' well stricken in years. 8 Now it came to pass, while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course, 9 according to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to enter into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of altar of incense. 12 And Zacharias was troubled when he saw `him', and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: because thy supplication is heard, and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. 14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. 15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. 16 And many of the children of Israel shall be turn unto the Lord their God. 17 And he shall go before his face in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient `to walk' in the wisdom of the just; to make ready for the Lord a people prepared `for him'. 18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. 19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak unto thee, and to bring thee these good tidings. 20 And behold, thou shalt be silent and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall come to pass, because thou believedst not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season. 21 And the people were waiting for Zacharias, and they marvelled while he tarried in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: and he continued making signs unto them, and remained dumb. 23 And it came to pass, when the days of his ministration were fulfilled, he departed unto his house. 24 And after these days Elisabeth his wife conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, 25 Thus hath the Lord done unto me in the days wherein he looked upon `me', to take away my reproach among men. 26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. 28 And he came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord `is' with thee. 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this might be. 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. 31 And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. 34 And Mary said unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee: wherefore also the holy thing which is begotten shall be called the Son of God. 36 And behold, Elisabeth thy kinswoman, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that was called barren. 37 For no word from God shall be void of power. 38 And Mary said, Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. 39 And Mary arose in these days and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah; 40 and entered into the house of Zacharias and saluted Elisabeth. 41 And it came to pass, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit; 42 and she lifted up her voice with a loud cry, and said, Blessed `art' thou among women, and blessed `is' the fruit of thy womb. 43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come unto me? 44 For behold, when the voice of thy salutation came into mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 And blessed `is' she that believed; for there shall be a fulfilment of the things which have been spoken to her from the Lord. 46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, 47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. 48 For he hath looked upon the low estate of his handmaid: For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; And holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is unto generations and generations On them that fear him. 51 He hath showed strength with his arm; He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their heart. 52 He hath put down princes from `their' thrones, And hath exalted them of low degree. 53 The hungry he hath filled with good things; And the rich he hath sent empty away. 54 He hath given help to Israel his servant, That he might remember mercy 55 (As he spake unto our fathers) Toward Abraham and his seed for ever. 56 And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned unto her house. 57 Now Elisabeth's time was fulfilled that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. 58 And her neighbors and her kinsfolk heard that the Lord had magnified his mercy towards her; and they rejoiced with her. 59 And it came to pass on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him Zacharias, after the name of the father. 60 And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John. 61 And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. 62 And they made signs to his father, what he would have him called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all. 64 And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue `loosed', and he spake, blessing God. 65 And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea. 66 And all that heard them laid them up in their heart, saying, What then shall this child be? For the hand of the Lord was with him. 67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying, 68 Blessed `be' the Lord, the God of Israel; For he hath visited and wrought redemption for his people, 69 And hath raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of his servant David 70 (As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets that have been from of old), 71 Salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; 72 To show mercy towards, our fathers, And to remember his holy covenant; 73 The oath which he spake unto Abraham our father, 74 To grant unto us that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies Should serve him without fear, 75 In holiness and righteousness before him all our days. 76 Yea and thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Most High: For thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to make ready his ways; 77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people In the remission of their sins, 78 Because of the tender mercy of our God, Whereby the dayspring from on high shall visit us, 79 To shine upon them that sit in darkness and the shadow of death; To guide our feet into the way of peace. 80 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his showing unto Israel.




    Living a Joyous Life

    Published by Grace To You for reading on October 20th.
    "The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart" (Ps. 19:8).

    Knowing your life is on the right track is a source of great joy.

    What brings you joy? Your answer will reveal much about your priorities and the direction your life is heading spiritually.

    The psalmist wrote, "How blessed [happy] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers" (Ps. 1:1-3).

    That psalmist knew that true joy and happiness come from knowing God and abiding in His Word. That was David's confidence when he wrote, "The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart" (Ps. 19:8).

    "Precepts" in that verse speaks of divine principles and guidelines for character and conduct. God created you and knows how you must live to give glory to Him. And He revealed in His Word every precept you must know to do so.

    Every divine precept is "right." It shows you the path that is right and true. What a wonderful confidence that is! While many around you may be discouraged or despondent because of their lack of direction and purpose, God's Word is a lamp to your feet and a light to your path (Ps. 119:105). It guides you through the difficult mazes of life and gives your life eternal significance. Don't live simply for your own pleasures. Your life has a high and holy purpose, and each day can be filled with joy as you see that purpose unfold.

    Suggestions for Prayer

    • Ask God to help you be mindful of your eternal purpose today and every day.
    • Ask Him to direct you to someone who needs Christ and is sensing a lack of purpose in his or her life.

    For Further Study

    Read Colossians 3:1-4 Chapter 3 1 If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth. 3 For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, `who is' our life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also with him be manifested in glory. .

    • How did Paul describe Christ?
    • What should be the focus of your thinking?
    • Are you heeding Paul's exhortation?

    From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.

    Additional Resources        

    Daily Bible - October 20

    Published by Grace To You for reading on October 20th.

    Reading for Today:

    • Jeremiah 25:1 Chapter 25 1 The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah (the same was the first year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon,) –26:24
    • Psalms 119:25-32 25 DALETH. My soul cleaveth unto the dust: Quicken thou me according to thy word. 26 I declared my ways, and thou answeredst me: Teach me thy statutes. 27 Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: So shall I meditate on thy wondrous works. 28 My soul melteth for heaviness: Strengthen thou me according unto thy word. 29 Remove from me the way of falsehood; And grant me thy law graciously. 30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness: Thine ordinances have I set `before me'. 31 I cleave unto thy testimonies: O Jehovah, put me not to shame. 32 I will run the way of thy commandments, When thou shalt enlarge my heart.
    • Proverbs 27:17 17 Iron sharpeneth iron; So a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
    • 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17 Chapter 2 1 Now we beseech you, brethren, touching the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto him; 2 to the end that ye be not quickly shaken from your mind, nor yet be troubled, either by spirit, or by word, or by epistle as from us, as that the day of the Lord is just at hand; 3 let no man beguile you in any wise: for `it will not be,' except the falling away come first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, 4 he that opposeth and exalteth himself against all that is called God or that is worshipped; so that he sitteth in the temple of God, setting himself forth as God. 5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6 And now ye know that which restraineth, to the end that he may be revealed in his own season. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work: only `there is' one that restraineth now, until he be taken out of the way. 8 And then shall be revealed the lawless one, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of his mouth, and bring to nought by the manifestation of his coming; 9 `even he', whose coming is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 and with all deceit of unrighteousness for them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God sendeth them a working of error, that they should believe a lie: 12 that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 13 But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, for that God chose you from the beginning unto salvation in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 14 whereunto he called you through our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye were taught, whether by word, or by epistle of ours. 16 Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

    Notes:

    Jeremiah 25:11 seventy years. Here is the first specific statement on the length of the exile. This period probably began in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, when Jerusalem was first captured and the temple treasures were taken. It ends with the decree of Cyrus to let the Jews return, spanning from ca. 605/04 B.C. to 536/35 B.C. The exact number of Sabbath years is 490 years, the period from Saul to the Babylonian captivity. This was retribution for their violation of the Sabbath law (Lev. 26:34, 35; 2 Chr. 36:21).

    Jeremiah 26:12 Jeremiah spoke. Leaders and people threatened to kill him (v. 8). The prophet defended himself while in extreme danger. He did not compromise but displayed tremendous spiritual courage. He was ready to die (v. 14), yet warned the crowd that God would hold the guilty accountable (v. 15).

    Proverbs 27:17 iron sharpens iron. The benefits of intellectual and theological discussion encourage joy through a keener mind and the improvement of good character which the face will reveal.

    2 Thessalonians 2:7 the mystery of lawlessness. This is the spirit of lawlessness already prevalent in society ( 1 John 3:4 4 Every one that doeth sin doeth also lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. ; 5:17), but still a mystery in that it is not fully revealed as it will be in the one who so blatantly opposes God that he blasphemously assumes the place of God on earth which God has reserved for Jesus Christ. The spirit of such a man is already in operation ( 1 John 2:18 18 Little children, it is the last hour: and as ye heard that antichrist cometh, even now have there arisen many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last hour. ; 4:3), but the man who fully embodies that spirit has not come. taken out of the way. This refers not to spatial removal (therefore it could not be the Rapture of the church) but rather “a stepping aside.” The idea is “out of the way,” not gone. This restraint will be in place until the Antichrist is revealed, at the midpoint of the Tribulation, leaving him 42 months to reign (Dan. 7:25; Rev. 13:5).

    2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10 the lawless one. He will do mighty acts pointing to himself as supernaturally empowered. His whole operation will be deceptive, luring the world to worship him and be damned. The career of the coming lawless one is more fully described in Revelation 13:1 Chapter 13 1 and he stood upon the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns, and seven heads, and on his horns ten diadems, and upon his heads names of blasphemy. –18.

    DAY 20: What is the “falling away” that Paul speaks of in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 3 let no man beguile you in any wise: for `it will not be,' except the falling away come first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, , 4?

    The Day of the Lord cannot occur until a deliberate abandonment of a formerly professed position, allegiance, or commitment occurs (the term was used to refer to military, political, or religious rebellion). Some have suggested, on questionable linguistic evidence, that this refers to a “departure” in the sense of the Rapture. Context, however, points to a religious defection, which is further described in v. 4.The language indicates a specific event, not general apostasy which exists now and always will. Rather, Paul has in mind the apostasy. This is an event which is clearly and specifically identifiable and unique, the consummate act of rebellion, an event of final magnitude. The key to identifying the event is to identify the main person, which Paul does, calling him the “man of sin.” Some texts have “man of lawlessness,” but there is no real difference in meaning since sin equals lawlessness ( 1 John 3:4 4 Every one that doeth sin doeth also lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. ). This is the one who is called “the prince who is to come” (Dan. 9:26) and “the little horn” (Dan. 7:8), whom John calls “the beast” (Rev. 13:2–10, 18) and most know as the Antichrist. The context and language clearly identify a real person in future times who actually does the things prophesied of him in Scripture. He is also called “the son of perdition” or destruction, a term used of Judas Iscariot ( John 17:12 12 While I was with them, I kept them in thy name which thou hast given me: and I guarded them, and not one of them perished, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. ).

    “The falling away” is the abomination of desolation that takes place at the midpoint of the Tribulation spoken of in Daniel 9:27 27 And he shall make a firm covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease; and upon the wing of abominations `shall come' one that maketh desolate; and even unto the full end, and that determined, shall `wrath' be poured out upon the desolate. ; 11:31 and Matthew 24:15 15 When therefore ye see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let him that readeth understand), . This man is not Satan, although Satan is the force behind him (v. 9) and he has motives like the desires of the devil (Is. 14:13, 14). Paul is referring to the very act of ultimate apostasy which reveals the final Antichrist and sets the course for the events that usher in the Day of the Lord. Apparently, he will be seen as supportive of religion so that God and Christ will not appear as his enemies until the apostasy. He exalts himself and opposes God by moving into the temple, the place for worship of God, declaring himself to be God and demanding the worship of the world. In this act of satanic self-deification, he commits the great apostasy in defiance of God.

    From The MacArthur Daily Bible Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Bibles, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN 37214, www.thomasnelson.com.

    Additional Resources        

    October 20 - Jesus’ Deity in His Honor

    Published by Grace To You for reading on October 20th.

    “‘. . . so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life’” ( John 5:23 23 that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father that sent him. –24).

    The Father’s purpose in entrusting all judgment to Jesus is “so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father.” It is only fitting that those equal in nature (vv. 17–18), works (vv. 19–20), power and sovereignty (v. 21), and judgment (v. 22) would be accorded equal honor. The Father’s honor is not diminished by the honor paid to Christ; on the contrary, it is enhanced.

    Although the unbelieving Jews thought they were truly worshiping God while rejecting His Son (cf. 16:2), instead the opposite was true: “he who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” “He who hates Me,” Jesus warned, “hates My Father also” ( John 15:23 23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also. ). Those who refuse to honor the Son while claiming to honor the Father are actually self-deceived.

    That the Father and the Son are to be afforded equal honor forcefully asserts Christ’s deity and equality with God, who declared through the prophet Isaiah, “I will not give My glory to another” (Isa. 42:8; cf. 48:11). Yet the Father has commanded that “all will honor the Son.” Willingly or unwillingly, everyone will eventually obey the Father’s command to honor Jesus Christ. The blessed promise to those who believe is that they “do not come into judgment, but [have] passed out of death into life.”

    Ask Yourself

    Many in our culture today still don’t have a lot of trouble believing in God, but Jesus is quite another matter. Are you sometimes convinced that a person is spiritually sound because he talks favorably of God and exhibits some good qualities? How do you speak to an individual like this about his or her need for Jesus?

    From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610, www.moodypublishers.com.

    Additional Resources        

    Serving a New Master

    Published by Grace To You for reading on October 20th.

    “I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification” ( Romans 6:19 19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye presented your members `as' servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity, even so now present your members `as' servants to righteousness unto sanctification. ).

    You must live consistent with your new nature.

    It is a truism that in the spiritual realm, no one stands still. Sin leads to more sin, while holy living leads to further righteousness. All unbelievers are slaves of sin and have no choice but to sin; yielding to sin comes naturally to them. They are inwardly full of “impurity” and hence outwardly given to “lawlessness.” They continually spiral downward; sin leads to more sin, which leads in turn to still more sin. Ultimately, sin will drag a person into the depths of Hell.

    For Christians, however, the spiral is an upward one. Having become new creatures at salvation (2 Cor. 5:17), believers are no longer servants of sin. The Christian life is the process of bringing one’s lifestyle into line with one’s nature. As believers “present their members as slaves to righteousness,” the inevitable result is further “sanctification.” Decreasing frequency of sin, therefore, is a sure sign of a mature believer.

    Paul knew all too well from his own experience that the believer’s body is a battleground. In his spiritual autobiography he wrote, “I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:21-24).

    How are you faring in the daily battle with sin? If victories are few and far between, perhaps you have forgotten Paul’s exhortation to “present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Rom. 12:1).

    Suggestions for Prayer

    Pray with the psalmist, “Establish my footsteps in Thy word, and do not let any iniquity have dominion over me” (Ps. 119:133).

    For Further Study

    Identify one area in which you lack self-control. Use a concordance to see what Proverbs teaches about your problem.

    From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.

    Additional Resources        

    Morning Devotional by C.H. Spurgeon for October 20th

    Published by C.H. Spurgeon for reading on October 20th.

    Ephesians 4:15 15 but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, `even' Christ;

    MANY Christians remain stunted and dwarfed in spiritual things, so as to present the same appearance year after year. No up-springing of advanced and refined feeling is manifest in them. They exist but do not "grow up into Him in all things." But should we rest content with being in the "green blade," when we might advance to "the ear," and eventually ripen into the "full corn in the ear?" Should we be satisfied to believe in Christ, and to say, "I am safe," without wishing to know in our own experience more of the fulness which is to be found in Him. It should not be so; we should, as good traders in heaven's market, covet to be enriched in the knowledge of Jesus. It is all very well to keep other men's vineyards, but we must not neglect our own spiritual growth and ripening. Why should it always be winter time in our hearts? We must have our seed time, it is true, but O for a spring time—yea, a summer season, which shall give promise of an early harvest. If we would ripen in grace, we must live near to Jesus—in His presence—ripened by the sunshine of His smiles. We must hold sweet communion with Him. We must leave the distant view of His face and come near, as John did, and pillow our head on His breast; then shall we find ourselves advancing in holiness, in love, in faith, in hope—yea, in every precious gift. As the sun rises first on mountain-tops and gilds them with his light, and presents one of the most charming sights to the eye of the traveller; so is it one of the most delightful contemplations in the world to mark the glow of the Spirit's light on the head of some saint, who has risen up in spiritual stature, like Saul, above his fellows, till, like a mighty Alp, snow-capped, he reflects first among the chosen, the beams of the Sun of Righteousness, and bears the sheen of His effulgence high aloft for all to see, and seeing it, to glorify His Father which is in heaven.

    Evening Devotional by C.H. Spurgeon for October 20th

    Published by C.H. Spurgeon for reading on October 20th.

    Isaiah 43:6 6 I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back; bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the end of the earth;

    ALTHOUGH this message was sent to the south, and referred to the seed of Israel, it may profitably be a summons to ourselves. Backward we are naturally to all good things, and it is a lesson of grace to learn to go forward in the ways of God. Reader, are you unconverted, but do you desire to trust in the Lord Jesus? Then keep not back. Love invites you, the promises secure you success, the precious blood prepares the way. Let not sins or fears hinder you, but come to Jesus just as you are. Do you long to pray? Would you pour out your heart before the Lord? Keep not back. The mercy-seat is prepared for such as need mercy; a sinner's cries will prevail with God. You are invited, nay, you are commanded to pray, come therefore with boldness to the throne of grace.

    Dear friend, are you already saved? Then keep not back from union with the Lord's people. Neglect not the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper. You may be of a timid disposition, but you must strive against it, lest it lead you into disobedience. There is a sweet promise made to those who confess Christ—by no means miss it, lest you come under the condemnation of those who deny Him. If you have talents keep not back from using them. Hoard not your wealth, waste not your time; let not your abilities rust or your influence be unused. Jesus kept not back, imitate Him by being foremost in self-denials and self-sacrifices. Keep not back from close communion with God, from boldly appropriating covenant blessings, from advancing in the divine life, from prying into the precious mysteries of the love of Christ. Neither, beloved friend, be guilty of keeping others back by your coldness, harshness, or suspicions. For Jesus' sake go forward yourself, and encourage others to do the like. Hell and the leaguered bands of superstition and infidelity are forward to the fight. O soldiers of the cross, keep not back.

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    By C. H. Spurgeon on Feb 27th, 2016

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