Daily Archives: July 26, 2017

July 26, 2017: Verse of the day

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pride forfeits honor (9:35)

Ironically, pride keeps people from obtaining the very honor that they seek. Proud people—even those in ministry—battle for position and seek to promote themselves, but end up forfeiting true honor and often end in humiliation. Honor is reserved for the humble. Like many in our day, the disciples viewed spiritual pride as normal, desirable, and legitimate. After all, pride characterized the most revered men in Israel, the religious leaders, who “[did] all their deeds to be noticed by men … they broaden[ed] their phylacteries and lengthen[ed] the tassels of their garments. They love[d] the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men” (Matt. 23:5–7; cf. 6:1–5).

Jesus knew what the disciples were thinking (Luke 9:47), even if they refused to express it. Sitting down, as rabbis commonly did when they taught, He called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” Pursuing accolades, affirmation, and exaltation from men forfeits the true reward (Matt. 6:1–5) that comes to those who are willing to be last, not to those who have to be first.[1]


35 Jesus assumed the posture of a Jewish rabbi—he sat down (Mt 5:1; 13:1; Lk 5:3; Jn 8:2; cf. Mk 12:41) and called the Twelve to him. True greatness comes through service of others. To become first, you must be last—the position of a lowly servant. The term “servant” (diakonos) commonly referred to a table waiter or domestic servant, someone whose sole purpose was to meet the needs of others. Swete, 205, writes, “The spirit of service is the passport to eminence in the Kingdom of God, for it is the spirit of the Master Who Himself became diakonos pantōn [‘servant of all’].” This teaching is a complete reversal of worldly values. How important this principle was for Jesus can be seen by its repetition throughout the gospel tradition (Mk 10:31, 43–44; Mt 20:26–27; 23:8–11; Lk 22:24–27; cf. Php 2:1–11; Gos. Thom. 22). The very fact that the disciples were concerned about who was greatest underscores again their failure to understand Jesus’ statements about his suffering and death. The kind of service Jesus was talking about involved radical self-sacrifice for others.[2]


9:35. Jesus did not focus on their arguing about who was the greatest. He spoke frankly, telling them if they wanted to be first, they must be last. The theme of servanthood echoes throughout Mark’s Gospel and reaches its greatest expression in chapter 10. Jesus stated again that human values are not necessarily kingdom values. In human institutions, we may fight for status. We may be concerned about being in the right crowd or being seen by powerful people. The old adage, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know,” has no place in the kingdom of God in the way the world means it.

In another sense, it is only who you know that can gain you entrance into God’s kingdom. But the image of a humble man or woman falling on his or her knees before God in repentance and asking for pardon and grace is a much different image than that of the businessperson cuddling up next to the person on a higher rung of the ladder.[3]


35. So he sat down, called the twelve to him, and said, If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.

Having summoned the men into his immediate presence, Jesus, by means of the gesture of sitting down, as already explained, indicates that as their Teacher, he is about to give them a very important lesson. That lesson is this: their idea of what it means to be “great” must be changed; in fact, radically reversed. True greatness does not consist in this, that from a towering height a person, in a self-congratulatory manner, has the right now to look down upon all others (Luke 18:9–12); but in this, that he immerses himself in the needs of others, sympathizes with them and helps them in every way possible. So, if any person—whether he be one of The Twelve or anyone else—wishes to be first, he must be last; that is, servant of all.

Jesus must have repeated this lesson many a time throughout his ministry, probably at various places and in slightly varying ways. See also Matt. 20:26, 27; 23:11; Mark 10:43, 44; Luke 9:48b; 14:11; 18:14. In fact, is not this a lesson that is stressed throughout Scripture? See Job 22:29; Prov. 29:23; Isa. 57:15; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5.

As to self-centered ambition and vanity, “Before downfall goes pride; and before stumbling, a haughty spirit” (Prov. 16:18). Was not this the experience of Sennacherib (2 Chron. 32:14, 21), of Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 4:30–33), and of Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:21–23)? On the other hand, note what is said about the commended centurion (Matt. 8:8, 10, 13), the humble Syrophoenician woman (Mark 7:29; cf. Matt. 15:27, 28), and the penitent tax-collector (Luke 18:13, 14).

One reason why the lesson taught by Jesus is unforgettable is that he himself was constantly exemplifying it in his own life (Mark 10:44, 45; Luke 22:27; John 13:1–15; Phil. 2:5–8).[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2015). Mark 9–16 (pp. 37–38). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Wessel, W. W., & Strauss, M. L. (2010). Mark. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, p. 849). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Cooper, R. L. (2000). Mark (Vol. 2, p. 151). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[4] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Mark (Vol. 10, pp. 357–358). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

Biblical Resources on Pornography

Pornography is a serious sin, and one that increasingly affects Christian families. Ladies, if you, your husband, or your child are viewing pornography, it’s time to stop, repent, and flee from that sin. If you need help and support, set up an appointment with your pastor for counseling, even if you are the only one who will go. Here are some additional biblical resources which may help:

When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography Theology Gals, Episode 22 with Vicki Tiede (be sure to check out all of Vicki’s links under “Episode Resources”)

How to Stop Looking at Porn from When We Understand the Text

When We Understand the Text Q&A on Pornography (23:13 mark) with Gabriel Hughes

Hey, Porn Addict: Stop It by Gabriel Hughes

What Does the Bible Say About Pornography? at Got Questions

Dealing with Private Sins by John MacArthur

Pornography Resources from Wretched Radio

God Over Porn

Should Christian Couples Watch Pornography Together?

Covenant Eyes: Internet Accountability and Filtering

Support Groups Have No Place in the Church at No Compromise Radio
(Not specifically about pornography, but important points to consider if you’re thinking about a church support group or accountability partner related to pornography usage.)

Source: Biblical Resources on Pornography

How do I know if my child is a Christian?

God tasks parents with the holy calling of raising our children, “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” In this our greatest task is to help them understand the Gospel so they might trust in Christ and be saved. The problem for parents is that we often have a difficult time discerning when our kids have truly come to Christ. Either we get excited that our kids are showing interest in the Gospel and pronounce them Christians too quickly or we are so afraid of them making a false profession of faith that we go a long time without treating them as a brother or sister in Christ.

As parents we do have some guidance in knowing if our children are truly in the faith. Everything that would be present in an adult’s conversion will be present in a child’s conversion, but it will show itself in a different manner. I was 19 when I came to Jesus, and was aware of my new life in Christ the moment it took place. At the same time we have stories like John Piper’s. He does not remember his conversion, but his mother was convinced he came to faith and he does not remember ever not believing since then.

We can never know beyond a shadow of a doubt if our child has actually trusted in Christ, but we can see evidences that point to a genuine conversion. Here are some questions we can ask as we attempt to discern whether or not our children have trusted in Christ.

Is your child aware of their need for a savior?

Awareness of sin and the need for a savior is an absolute necessity in conversion. While a child will not have years of drunkenness or debauchery for which they should be ashamed, he will know he has sinned and needs to be forgiven. In Romans 2, Paul talks about the law being written on the heart of every person. We instinctively know we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

When your child tells you he wants to become a Christian or starts talking about baptism, ask him why he is thinking about this now. Draw out of him, in his words at his age level, whether he feels conviction for his sins and knows that he needs a Savior. Unless he is convinced of his sins, he cannot know that he has a problem from which he needs to be saved.

Does your child understand Jesus’ death and resurrection?

If your child shows awareness of and conviction for sin, begin to talk to her about Jesus. You will not be looking for her to give a discourse on the hypostatic union or penal substitutionary atonement. Does she know Jesus is the son of God? Does she believe that he is real, and that he lived the perfect life we could never live?

Then you should move into a discussion about Jesus’ death and resurrection. Can she articulate the basic facts about Jesus’ death and resurrection? Again, you are not looking for a doctoral level treatise, but in her words can she tell you about what Jesus did for her. What you are looking for here is illumination. As she talks about Jesus, do you see an awareness that she understands and knows this at a heart level?

Does your child believe she is saved by repentance and faith?

The other night we read about the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment so she could be healed in our family devotion. Jesus told her that her faith made her well. I took that opportunity to talk to our daughters about salvation being by faith alone. Their Dad is a pastor, their Grandfather is a pastor, their Uncle is a pastor, and their Great-Grandfather was a pastor. They never remember a time when they were not gathering with the church each Sunday and never remember a time when they were not hearing the Gospel in family devotions and in discussions during everyday life, so I wanted to make sure they heard a clear reminder that none of these things make them a Christian.

When your child approaches you about becoming a Christian, you must make sure that she gets this. “For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves.” The Scripture’s testimony is clear, and while your child may not be able to give you an excursus on justification by faith alone and imputed righteousness, you do want her to evidence that she knows she must repent and trust in Jesus. Does she understand that her works or her baptism don’t make her a Christian, but that repentance and trust in Jesus do? Does she have childlike faith in Jesus Christ alone?

Is your child showing signs of new life?

Seeing signs of the work of the Spirit in your child’s life is not as evident as it would be in an adult. Your six-year old is not going to have the same kind of testimony that a man with a notorious past would have, but his salvation is just a miraculous. If he has trusted in Jesus, he has been born again and the Holy Spirit indwells him. He will shows evidences of conversion.

If believers grow in conviction over our sins, compassion for other people, and display the fruit of the Spirit, then this will be present in your child’s life. It will be there in childlike form, but it will be there. You will also start to see the lights come on for him spiritually. He will start to understand more of God’s truth and demonstrate a greater awareness of God’s work in his life. As you observe his life, do you see signs of the Spirit’s work in him?

Is your child free from external pressures?

The invitation system, a pressure-packed VBS or kids’ camp, and friends getting baptized can start putting pressure on your child to make a profession of faith without actually understanding the Gospel. Often children want to know why they can’t take Communion, and hear the answer, “because you haven’t been baptized yet.” In their minds the solution seems simple, “then let me get baptized so I can take Communion.”

You can never know for certain that your child has pure motives in his desire to become to profess Christ, but you should examine to the best of your ability any outside forces that may be exerting pressure on him. Ask him what made him start thinking about this. It may have been a friend’s baptism, but what about the event made him start pondering it for himself? Communion may have sparked an interest in him, but does he just want to take the bread and juice, or did hearing the meaning of Communion draw him to Jesus? These are all factors for you to ask about, think through, and pray over.

Always bring the gospel to your children

Your child does not get a visible mark on her forehead or a stripe on her back when she comes to Jesus, so you have to talk, pray, and discern. Invite your pastor in to talk to your child and ask questions. He may be able to see and hear things you don’t.

Most of all though, keep putting the Gospel in front of your children. Talk about it in everyday life, in family devotions, and around the table after Sunday worship. Sing songs, pray over your kids, and repent to them when you have wronged them. God’s word never returns void, our labor in the Lord is not in vain, and in due time we will sow if we reap, so take every opportunity to tell and show your kids that Jesus is better than life.

 

The post How do I know if my child is a Christian? appeared first on Southern Equip.

Yes, Christians Are To Be Different

Here is my thesis, short and sweet: if you claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ, but you are living just like everyone in the world is, then chances may be good that you really are not a Christian at all. I do not say this by my own authority of course, but by the authority of the Word of God.

Everywhere Scripture highlights how God’s people are to be living lives radically different from those who are not God’s people. Thus if the life you live is indistinguishable from what any non-Christian lives, then it may be time to ask yourself some hard questions.

And when I say different, I don’t mean in a superficial or nominal way. Some Christians are different all right, but mainly because they are just plain weird. It is not that they are holy and Christlike, just odd and perhaps too religious. They may have all sorts of man-made taboos, habits and things they run with, but they demonstrate no real godliness or Holy Ghost spirituality.

differentBut the born-again Christian will think differently, act differently and relate to others differently. I will explain what this looks like in more detail in a moment. But let me first mention why this article has come about. There have been two main reasons for writing this piece.

The first is something I just caught a glimpse of on TV, while the second is an author I have been reading through of late. The first can be covered quite quickly: it turns out to have been a UK documentary on cam girls. The 60 seconds or so that I saw was enough to leave me all rather gobsmacked.

One moment it was showing what this gal was doing for her paid customers, and the next minute it showed her with her flatmate at the dinner table praying. (Was it perhaps her lesbian partner? I did not stay around to find out.) But it showed them before the meal praying together, asking God’s blessing on all they did.

As I say, I was just floored. Here we had sleaze and sexual sin at its most blatant, yet the folks involved actually seemed to consider themselves Christians with whom God was perfectly happy. Um, yes, we can speak about God’s pleasure and blessing on an ex-cam girl, or an ex-prostitute, or an ex-sex-worker, or an ex-murderer, etc., but not on those still proudly living in known, overt sin.

I thought this was just so utterly bizarre, and reflected on it for a few moments. It occurred to me that there are likely millions of people who live just like the world, or live just like the devil, who have convinced themselves that they are nonetheless just peachy Christians whom God is perfectly happy with. This is deception of the highest order.

The other thing I was doing at the time offered a very nice counter piece to all this. I was reading some of John Stott’s writings. He was terrific in almost everything he wrote, and was such a champion of biblical Christianity. See my introductory article on him here: billmuehlenberg.com/2011/07/28/notable-christians-john-stott/

I have around 25 of his books, and they are always worth pulling off the shelves and rereading. So I was looking at his short but really excellent 1978 commentary on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Of interest, he subtitled the book, Christian Counter-Culture.

Of course that is a concept I am fully familiar with. I was part of the original secular counter-culture of the late 60s and early 70s. We radical lefties, hippies, druggies and peaceniks really did think we could set up a counter-culture to replace what we considered to be the corrupt, authoritarian, violent, patriarchal, hung-up middle class America.

Stott picks up on this theme and argues that the real message of the Sermon on the Mount is that we Christians are to be a genuine counter-cultural force. We are to be different. That is the major emphasis of these three chapters. Let me offer some lengthy quotes from the opening pages of this excellent commentary.

He begins by speaking about the great tragedy of the church conforming to the world. He says this:

No comment could be more hurtful to the Christian than the words, ‘But you are no different from anybody else.’ For the essential theme of the whole Bible from beginning to end is that God’s historical purpose is to call out a people for himself; that this people is a ‘holy’ people, set apart from the world to belong to him and to obey him; and that its vocation is to be true to its identity, that is, to be ‘holy’ or ‘different’ in all its outlook and behaviour.

He notes how this was certainly the case with the people of Israel: they “were his special people,” they “were to be different from everybody else. They were to follow his commandments and not take their lead from the standards of those around them.”

But sadly they did not do what was demanded of them, and soon enough they were saying, “We want to be like the nations, like the peoples of the world” (Ezekiel 20:32). Stott continues:

All this is an essential background to any understanding of the Sermon on the Mount. . . . It portrays the repentance (metanoia, the complete change of mind) and the righteousness which belong to the kingdom. That is, it describes what human life and human community look like when they come under the gracious rule of God.
And what do they look like? Different! Jesus emphasized that his true followers, the citizens of God’s kingdom were to be entirely different from others. They were not to take their cue from the people around them, but from him, and so prove to be genuine children of their heavenly father. To me the key text of the Sermon on the Mount is 6:8: ‘Do not be like them.’ It is immediately reminiscent of God’s word to Israel in olden days: ‘You shall not do as they do’ (Leviticus 18:3). It is the same call to be different. And right through the Sermon on the Mount this theme is elaborated.
Their character was to be completely distinct from that admired by the world (the beatitudes). They were to shine like lights in the prevailing darkness. Their righteousness was to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, both in ethical behavior and in religious devotion, while their love was to be greater and their ambition nobler than those of their pagan neighbors.
There is no single paragraph of the Sermon on the Mount in which this contrast between Christian and non-Christian standards is not drawn. It is the underlying and uniting theme of the Sermon; everything else is a variation of it.…
Thus the followers of Jesus are to be different – different from both the nominal church and the secular world, different from both the religious and the irreligious. The Sermon on the Mount is the most complete delineation anywhere in the New Testament of the Christian counter-culture. Here is a Christian value system, ethical standard, religious devotion, attitude to money, ambition, life-style and network of relationships – all of which are totally at variance with those of the non-Christian world. And this Christian counter-culture is the life of the kingdom of God, a fully human life indeed but lived out under the divine rule.

This my friends is the normal Christian life. But we do not hear this sort of teaching anymore, so it sounds strange, harsh, austere and even unChristlike. We think we can live any way we like and God is fully happy with us. We even think we can strip and gyrate before lustful men as a cam girl and still ask God for his blessings.

As I said above, if you are living just like anyone in the world is living, you may be in desperate need of a spiritual check-up. It is time we all get back on our faces before God and seek him afresh. Reading the Sermon on the Mount while on our knees in an attitude of humility, brokenness and penitence would be a good way to begin.

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The post Yes, Christians Are To Be Different appeared first on CultureWatch.

How Can I Forgive Myself?

How can I forgive myself?

The most faithful response to this question is the reject it as an illegitimate question.

The biblical teaching about forgiveness can be summarized in two main ideas:

  • God forgives sinners freely, completely, and sacrificially. Ultimately, divine forgiveness is paid for by the cross of Christ.
  • Christians must forgive those who wrong us, as God has forgiven us for the sake of Christ.

That’s it. Sermon over. There is not third point. God has forgiven us and we must forgive others. Period.

There are more than 125 direct references to forgiveness in the Bible. But the Bible does not teach that we should forgive ourselves. It does not explain how to forgive ourselves. It does not say anything about forgiving ourselves whatsoever.

God is just, holy, and righteous. We are not. We are sinners who cannot do anything to win the approval of God. We cannot reach up to God. But God has reach down to us through the blood and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our infinitely holy God extends forgiveness to stubbornly rebellious sinners. Yet they are those who claim, “I know God has forgiven me. But I need to learn to forgive myself.”

This is the self-centered psychology of the world, not the teaching of scripture. In fact, it contradicts the message of the Bible. If I need to forgive myself, it suggests that I am the God that I have offended and need to appease. This way of thinking is not just erroneous, it is blasphemous.

To claim that I have been forgiven by God but I cannot forgive myself betrays that I do not understand, believe, or appreciate the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a sinister attempt of the Enemy to get us to depend upon our own righteousness, rather than the grace of God.

Isaiah had a violent encounter with the holiness of God (Isaiah 6), who was seated in sovereign authority. “Woe is me!” Isaiah responded, “For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5)

Confronted by sovereign holiness, Isaiah braced himself to die. But God graciously forgave him instead. As he basked in amazing grace, Isaiah did not say, “I know God has forgiven me. Now, I have to learn to forgive myself for my unclean lips!” Rather, Isaiah volunteered to be God’s messenger, “Here I am! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)

When a Christian repents of sin and receives forgiveness by the atoning blood of Christ, it is natural to wish you had never sinned against God in the first place. There should be a godly sorrow over sin. There will be regret and remorse, as you consider those who are hurt by your sin. You may lament the consequences of your transgressions. But none of these things represent an ongoing guilt for which you need to forgive yourself.

“For freedom Christ has set us free,” declares Paul. “Stand firm therefore, and do not submit against to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). Jesus guarantees our spiritual liberty by declaring, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

You do not need to supplement divine forgiveness with any self-forgiveness. Your forgiveness in Christ is complete. Receive it. Remember it. And rejoice in it. If your testimony is, “God has forgiven me,” that is enough! You do not need to forgive yourself.

1 John 1:9 is the Christian’s blessed assurance…

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Source: How Can I Forgive Myself?

Five Keys for Making Prayer a Habit

Prayer is hard work. It’s not something that comes naturally.

We go about our days, engaged in the home or workplace, distracted by good things that would keep us from prayer if we let them. Our hearts are prone to wander from God in self-reliance toward temporary pleasures, rather than running to him in dependence for the lasting joy and satisfaction only he can provide.

No relationship will flourish without intention—and this takes work! Perhaps you feel your need for communion with God, and you want to grow in forming a habit of prayer, but you don’t know where to start…

Five Keys for Making Prayer a Habit

Maybe prayer seems daunting, like a high mountain to climb; or perhaps the pace of your day doesn’t seem to allow for this time. Yet, the growth of any relationship won’t fall into our laps; we need to be intentional, trusting God will meet and help us in this time of sought communion.

So here’s a start! The following are five keys to help you form a habit of prayer:

1. Choose it.

Forming any habit requires action. Unless I choose to rebuild my strength through physical therapy exercises, it won’t happen. Unless I choose to show up on time by leaving early, it won’t happen. Similarly, we won’t pray unless we choose to pray, despite the obstacles (and there are always obstacles!).

So choose to pray. Choose a location. Choose a time of day that works best. Choose a context that will become familiar over time. Our living room couch is my chosen, consistent spot, the place I go each morning to read my Bible and pray.

Of course, certain times require flexibility in our communion with God—and there’s grace for these seasons! A newborn baby, a relocation, a new job and schedule, a decline in health—these circumstances may change our context for prayer, but they needn’t change our choice to pray. We press on, no matter the season, and we choose prayer by the strength God supplies.

2. Ask God for help.

Because prayer doesn’t come naturally, our hearts are wayward, and our circumstances change, we desperately need God to help us pray—and this means we need him to transform our hearts, the seat of our deepest desires. If prayer is merely something we add to our “spiritual checklist,” a joyless obligation, then we’ll pray for all the wrong reasons and never be transformed. But if God were to change our hearts, then we’d yearn for prayer because we first and foremost desire him. 

So we ask God for help! We ask him to change our fickle, self-interested, apathetic, and easily distracted hearts. John Piper says,

Too many of us are passive when it comes to our spiritual affections. We are practical atheists. We think there is nothing we can do….This is not the way the psalmists thought or acted. It is not the way the great saints of church history have acted either. Life is war. And the main battles are fought at the level of desires, not deeds.[1]

If you’ve been discouraged by your apathy toward prayer, hear this good news: Jesus lived and died and resurrected so your heart would be made new and your desires changed! He gave his life for your apathy and wayward desires, bearing your sin, and now he lives to intercede for you when you ask God to change your heart. So ask for his help today. He delights to give it.

3. Read your Bible.

God has graciously spoken to us through his precious Word, and we can open our Bibles to hear from him each day. What an incredible thing, to hear from the God of the universe through words and phrases and sentences and chapters and books! What a wonder that the almighty, holy God would speak to undeserving, sinful humans like us.

If prayer is responding to God’s words (he speaks; we listen, consider, and respond), then before prayer can become a habit, we need Scripture reading to become a habit. As in the last point, we can ask God for his help where Bible reading is concerned: God, give me the desire to hear from you in your Word!

Our prayers will also be more focused and clear when they’re rooted in biblical truths we know we can trust because God, himself, has said so.[2] The more we read our Bibles, the more inclined our hearts will be to pray in response (Psalm 119:36).

4. Establish a pattern.

Prayer can feel overwhelming. How do I know where to begin?, we ask. Choosing patterns for prayer has helped me pray more consistently and with greater intentionality.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication (ACTS)
  • The Lord’s Prayer (see Matthew 6:9-13)
  • Word-centered prayer (pray through a Scripture passage, verse by verse)
  • Concentric circles (start with self and move outward to family, friends, church, local, global, etc.)
  • Daily themes (eg. Ministry on Mondays, Unbelievers on Tuesdays, Friends on Wednesdays, Missions/Evangelism on Thursdays, Work/Coworkers on Fridays, etc.)
  • John Piper’s I.O.U.S. (a helpful prayer pattern for Bible reading)
  • Small group prayer
  • Family prayer
  • Church/corporate prayer

5. Ask for accountability.

Is anyone currently asking you about your prayer life? If you want to make prayer a habit, ask a trusted, believing friend to hold you accountable by checking in with you on a weekly basis: “How has your prayer time been? How can I pray for you in that regard?” See if you might hold them accountable as well.

You’re Never Too Late

At this point, some of you might be feeling discouraged because you haven’t sought to make a habit of prayer. Friends, because of Christ, you can lift your drooping heads and strengthen your weak knees—it’s never too late to start! God delights to provide for us the desire, motivation, and ability to commune with him in prayer, and he has secured this high privilege for you to draw near through the sacrifice of his Son.

You’re never too late, nor is God ever too far away. Prayer is a gift and, through his strength, it can become a habit for you.

[1] Reading the Bible Supernaturally, p. 256. [2] Ibid. [Photo Credit: Lightstock]

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The post Five Keys for Making Prayer a Habit appeared first on Unlocking the Bible.

Hillsong, Bethel Music and The Great Seduction

Satan and his minions are shrewd, deceptive, relentless and exceedingly powerful creatures!  So with this in mind, here’s a reminder from Emergent Watch:

Many have apparently forgotten that the Holy Spirit will not magnify Himself or some alleged experience, but will magnify Jesus! “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me…” – John 16:13-14

Many in the visible church seem to have forgotten that the Holy Spirit always points us to the Lord Jesus Christ, while Satan’s goal is to turn us away from Christ. One of the ways he accomplishes this goal is through “Christian” music, as you will see in the following piece:

 

For the first time, Hillsong United is uniting with Bethel (Redding’s) Music for a “Night of Worship” on July 21 @ the Redding Civic Auditorium. Note that by their participation, Hillsong is effectively declaring their affinity with Bethel Redding, it’s music, and by default, it’s doctrines.

That these two groups should join together is hardly surprising, as both have been at the forefront of the transformation of church music – from the worship of God, to effectively worshiping “worship” music – From music that exalts God, into music that exalts an experiential “encounter” with “the presence”, and which magnifies feelings and emotions.

View article →

Source: Hillsong, Bethel Music and The Great Seduction

The Pilgrim’s Heart Part 14 – Conclusion

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

37 For yet in a very little while,
He who is coming will come, and will not delay.
38 But My righteous one shall live by faith;
And if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.
39 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul. Hebrews 10:37-39 (NASB) 

As we end this study of the Pilgrim’s Heart, let us take notice of the vast difference between the self-focused Christian, the Flesh-bound, and the God-focused Christian, the Spirit-led. The former is fleshly. He or she may very well be a genuine Christian, but they struggle mightily with besetting sins and are still focused on self-gratification as a means of fulfillment. His or her heart is relatively hard or callous towards God. The latter is not nearly as fleshly. He or she…

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