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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Praying for an Unbeliever BY RICK WARREN — APRIL 18, 2018


“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10 NASB).
If you asked 50 random people, “How do you get to Heaven?” you’d get a lot of different answers. But most of them would be based on the idea that you can (and have to) earn your way to Heaven.
You’d hear things like, “Try to be good, and do your best” or “Do more good things than bad things in life.” Those ideas are all based on works, not grace.
But Romans 3:24 says, “All need to be made right with God by his grace, which is a free gift. They need to be made free from sin through Jesus Christ” (NCV).
God says that salvation is absolutely free to receive! You don’t work for a gift, and you can’t earn it or buy it.
This is the fundamental difference between Christianity and every other religion. Every other belief system can be summarized by one word: “do.” You do certain things to gain bliss, gain Heaven or some other kind of eternal reward, and gain God’s approval.
On the other hand, you can summarize Christianity in one word: “done.” Jesus Christ paid for our salvation on the cross, and now he offers his grace as a free gift. That’s why Jesus Christ, when he was hanging on the cross, stretched out his arms and said, “It is finished.” What’s the “it”? It’s our salvation — the plan to provide grace for every person who needs it.
We all have people in our lives who do not have a relationship with Jesus. They may include family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and acquaintances. The Bible says to pray for their salvation. In fact, Jesus “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4 CEB), so when we pray for the salvation of an unsaved person, we are doing what pleases God.
We can trust that God’s love reaches everywhere and everyone. His power is limitless, and his forgiveness is endless. Your prayers for people who do not know the hope we find in Christ do not go unheard. Keep on praying, and don’t lose heart.
Talk It Over
  • What people are you praying for who don’t yet know Christ?
  • How can you thank God for those people’s presence in your life?
  • How can you pray for people who disagree with you or openly reject Scripture?
Here is a sample prayer for unbelieving friends:
“Lord, I know there are people who don’t have a relationship with you. Perhaps they know about you; they have heard your name. They just don’t you as their personal Savior. I pray that you would give them the courage to open their heart and mind and life to you. Lord, help them with their unbelief. May they learn to trust you and love you. Use me as a bridge to their belief. Keep me faithful in prayer.”
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 Today’s devotional is an excerpt from Rick Warren’s study “Experience God’s Power Through Prayer,” available here[JW1] .

APRIL 18, 2018 Cultivate Healthy Relationships - by Joyce Meyer

The man of too many friends [chosen indiscriminately] will be broken to pieces and come to ruin, but there is a [true, loving] friend who [is reliable and] sticks closer than a brother.
— Proverbs 18:24


Everyone wants friends, and God wants us to have them. He encourages relationships throughout His Word, but it is important to have healthy, safe, and godly relationships.
Some relationships are not safe for us because we are being used, manipulated, and taken advantage of. God wants us to pray for and love everyone, even our enemies, but that doesn’t mean we should let people take advantage of us.
I personally am not interested in having what I call one-sided relationships in which I do all the giving and the other party does all the taking. God does use us at times in the lives of selfish, self-centered people, and we do make sacrifices, but there is a point at which we are hurting people if we let them manipulate us for their own pleasure.
Stand up for yourself and always be willing to confront unhealthy relationships. Speak the truth in love (see Ephesians 4:15). You are very valuable and entitled to have good friends who will respect and honor you properly.
Prayer Starter: Father, help me always be a good friend. I ask You for safe, healthy relationships in which I can flourish and grow. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
From the devotional My Time with God by Joyce Meyer.

April 18 Throw Open the Door Kenneth Copeland


Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money [in].... And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites.... And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them...this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.
Mark 12:41-44
Have you ever wanted to get God’s attention? You can, you know. There’s a certain kind of boldness, a certain kind of faith in giving that will get His attention every time. You can see that in Mark 12.
Read that chapter and just imagine the situation it describes. Jesus was sitting by the treasury watching as people put in their offerings. Don’t you know there were some sanctimonious displays going on with Him there watching? There was bound to be plenty of pharisaical robe swishing as those wealthy leaders walked up to put in their gifts that day.
Right in the middle of it all, this poor widow walked up and threw in her offering. I can just see her in my mind’s eye. I can hear her say to herself, “By the eternal Almighty God that liveth, I’ve had enough of this poverty. I’m fed up with having nothing but want. I may just be a poor widow now, but I’m not going to be a poor widow anymore. I’m going to be a brokewidow if God doesn’t do something here because I’m giving Him everything I’ve got!”
Then, wham! She threw that last little dab of money she had into the offering.
Do you know what? That got Jesus’ attention. He said, “Listen, everyone. I want to talk to you about this woman,” and He started to preach.
What moved Jesus wasn’t just the fact that she gave. It was how she gave. She gave in faith—not in fear. She didn’t stop and calculate what she didn’t have and say, “Boy, if I do this, tomorrow I won’t eat.” She just boldly threw in all she had, expecting God to take care of her in return.
You and I need to catch hold of that same attitude. We need to start holding our offerings up to the Lord in confidence, throwing them boldly into His service, expecting His blessings in return.
If you have a need right now, get God’s attention by giving with boldness like that widow woman did. Throw open the door of your household by throwing everything you have at Jesus. Let God know that He is your source. Before long, the abundance of God will come pouring in!
Scripture Reading:
Mark 12:28-44
© 1991 Eagle Mountain International Church, Inc. aka: Kenneth Copeland Publications    All rights reserved.

Judging Origins - Our Daily Bread Ministries 18 April Wednesday





 The Spirit of the Lord came on Jephthah. Judges 11:29
“Where are you from?” We often use that question to get to know someone better. But for many of us, the answer is complicated. Sometimes we don’t want to share all the details.
In the book of Judges, Jephthah might not have wanted to answer that question at all. His half-brothers had chased him out of his hometown of Gilead for his “questionable” origins. “You are the son of another woman,” they declared (Judges 11:2). The text says starkly, “His mother was a prostitute” (v. 1).
But Jephthah was a natural leader, and when a hostile tribe picked a fight with Gilead, the people who had sent him packing suddenly wanted him back. “Be our commander,” they said (v. 6). Jephthah asked, “Didn’t you hate me and drive me from my father’s house?” (v. 7). After getting assurances that things would be different, he agreed to lead them. The Scripture tells us, “Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jephthah” (v. 29). Through faith, he led them to a great victory. The New Testament mentions him in its list of heroes of the faith (Hebrews 11:32).
God so often seems to choose the unlikeliest people to do His work, doesn’t He? It doesn’t matter where we’re from, how we got here, or what we’ve done. What matters is that we respond in faith to His love.
Lord, we take great comfort knowing that You don’t show favoritism based on where we’re from. Our heritage is found in You. Thank You for adopting us into Your family.
Many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. Matthew 19:30
By Tim Gustafson | See Other Authors

INSIGHT

The details of the story of Jephthah are unique, but the idea of an unlikely person being the hero of the story—well that’s the subtle plotline of the entire Bible. In fact, many times the person we might expect to be the hero—for example, the tall and broad-shouldered Saul—isn’t the hero at all. Disobedience to God led to Saul’s downfall, but it’s David, a young shepherd, whom God calls “a man after [my] own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14).
What set apart those God used to do His work? Whether a prostitute (Rahab), a dreamer (Joseph), a young shepherd (David), a young virgin (Mary), or a former Pharisee (Paul), the common factor is how they responded to God. God uses those who listen to His calling and respond in faith. How might He use you?

It's About the Way You Finish - Joel Osteen Ministries 17 April



Today’s Scripture
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
(2 Timothy 4:7, NIV)

It's About the Way You Finish
So often, when people make mistakes, they get down on themselves and think, “If only...” “I should have...” “What if...?” It’s easy to feel like you’ve missed the best plan for your life. That’s when people get discouraged and stop pursuing their God-given dreams. But understand today, just because you’ve made a mistake or failed in some way doesn’t cancel God’s plan. God never disqualifies you. He never says, “Go sit on the sidelines. You’ve blown it too many times. You’ve got too many weaknesses.” No, God always gives you another chance!
Some of the great people in the Bible made very poor choices. The apostle Paul started off as a murderer, yet his destiny was bigger than his mistakes. He ended up becoming a great leader and writing over half of the New Testament.
What am I saying? Our mistakes, our failures, our poor choices don’t have to keep us from our God-given destiny. With God, it’s not about the way you start in life, it’s about the way you finish. Receive His grace today and embrace the bright future He has in store for you!
A Prayer for Today
“Father, thank You for Your grace and mercy to me. I trust that my days are ordered of You. I ask that You strengthen and empower me to fulfill Your call on my life. I love You and bless You today in Jesus’ name. Amen

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Learning to Know God - Our Daily Bread Ministries 17 April Tuesday

But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” John 6:20
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a mother. I dreamed about getting married, getting pregnant, and holding my baby in my arms for the first time. When I finally got married, my husband and I never even considered waiting to expand our family. But with each negative pregnancy test, we realized we were struggling with infertility. Months of doctors’ visits, tests, and tears followed. We were in the middle of a storm. Infertility was a bitter pill to swallow and left me wondering about God’s goodness and faithfulness.
When I reflect on our journey, I think about the story of the disciples caught in the storm on the sea in John 6. As they struggled against the waves in the dark of the storm, Jesus unexpectedly came to them walking on the stormy waves. He calmed them with His presence, saying, “It is I; don’t be afraid” (v. 20).
Like the disciples, my husband and I had no idea what was coming in our storm; but we found comfort as we learned to know God more deeply as the One who is always faithful and true. Although we would not have the child we had dreamed of, we learned that in all our struggles we can experience the power of His calming presence. Because He is there powerfully working in our lives, we need not be anxious.
Dear Lord, thank You that I do not have to face the storms in this life without You. Thank You for Your calming presence and power carrying me through whatever I face.
Read more about waiting on God at discoveryseries.org/q0736.
We can experience God’s powerful presence even in the storms of our lives.
By Karen Wolfe | See Other Authors

INSIGHT

The story of Jesus meeting His disciples on the sea paints a vivid picture of how Jesus fulfilled God’s promises. In Bible times, the sea was seen as a terrifying force of chaos. Only God could walk on the sea (Job 9:8; Psalm 77:19). And in Israel’s central redemption story—their deliverance from slavery—it was God’s power that brought Israel through the sea, leaving Egypt behind (Exodus 14:21).
So when John describes Jesus walking on the waves, we can understand the disciples’ terror (John 6:19)—they were seeing God. Jesus’s response, “It is I” (literally “I am”), confirmed His unity with God, the “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14; John 8:58). By bringing the boat “immediately” to shore (John 6:21, 25), Jesus not only delivered the disciples but also likely pointed to the good news of another exodus from the “sea.” His death and resurrection would bring His people out of bondage into freedom (Galatians 5:1).
In this lifetime, we don’t always experience the full restoration we long for (2 Corinthians 5:4), but we do experience the power that will one day transform all things (4:16–17). Because of Jesus, we don’t need to be afraid (John 6:20).
What fears do you need to place in the all-powerful hands of Jesus?

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