TRUTH (15)

HOW CAN WE KNOW?

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"I have been all over the world.

I have seen many religions 

and heard many philosophies.

How can I know that this is the truth?"

Years ago several of us visited an army captain whose wife attended our church. He welcomed us into his home and allowed us to talk with him about Jesus. When we asked if he would like to accept the forgiveness of Jesus and devote his life to Him, he politely asked a difficult question.

He said, “I have been all over the world. I have seen many religions and heard many philosophies. How can I know that what you say about Jesus is the truth?”

I said, “If God sent his son to die for you, that is surely important. I suggest that you ask God Himself to show you if this is true or not.”

In chapter 5 of The Gospel of John in the New Testament, Jesus dealt with this very question. Beginning with verse 31 He said if He alone bore witness about Himself His testimony could not be deemed to be true. But He said, “There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that his testimony is true.”

Jesus first mentioned John the Baptist. John said Jesus was the son of God. John the Baptist may have been the most impressive man to walk the earth in those days. Jesus called him a burning and shining light. He noted that they rejoiced for a time in his light. There are many today who will tell you that you can personally experience Jesus in your life. Some of them are impressive people. Astrophysicist/astronomer, Hugh Ross of the University of California is one who comes to mind. I also think of preachers like Tim Keller, and Ravi Zacharias who died earlier this year. Billy Graham also died this year. Years ago the church that I served was starting home-churches in a mountain valley that did not have a church. In house after house where we were invited to lead Bible studies people brought up Billy Graham. Everyone seemed to be impressed with Billy. He indeed bore witness to the truth. But people, no matter how impressive, are not the great witness Jesus spoke of. Jesus said He did not accept human testimony. He mentioned John so that the people might be saved, but He said there was a greater witness yet.

Jesus next spoke about the works that he was doing. His miracles were a powerful witness about him. God continues to show us his mighty works today. The more we know about the Earth, and life, and the universe the more astounded we become. Is it rational to believe that the most complex things we know anything about, including life, eyesight, human consciousness, and intelligence, and even the universe itself happened by accident? 

Of course, admitting that there had to be a Creator, does not make Christianity true. But the miracles of Jesus can still be seen to this day. I have heard people accuse Christianity of perpetuating slavery. And they are right. In the 19th Century some people actually used the Bible to justify slavery. God forgive us. However, it should be noted that slavery has been prevalent in every part of the world. We do not know of a time in history when human bondage did not exist. And no other philosophy, no other influence besides Christianity ever abolished slavery from whole nations or from human approval and law.

Angola prison in Louisiana was once one of the most dangerous prisons in the United States. Because of a Christian witness, that whole prison has been turned around. Despite the fact that some of the most violent criminals in our country have been incarcerated there, almost all violence has been eliminated within its walls. Is there any example in the entire world of anything else turning a prison around like that? 

A large hospital in the city where I used to live is dedicated to scientifically curing people of alcohol and drug addiction. They saturated the city with advertisements about their treatment plan. According to their own statistics, only 20% of their patients were still alcohol or drug-free three years after their treatment. 20% is certainly better than nothing. And I will admit that the statistics this hospital provides are better than many other treatment centers. However, Christian treatment programs are much more effective. I have a friend who began an outpatient treatment program in the same city. After 20 years more than 60% of those who have gone through his program are still alcohol and drug-free. Nothing else changes people like the message of Jesus Christ.

But Jesus does not quite say that the works that He accomplishes are the testimony about which He referred. He says that by those miracles which still take place God himself to testifies about Jesus. If you are considering these things I would encourage you to ask God to show you if this is the truth. You might pray something like, “God, if there really is a God and if you really care about me, show me if this is the truth, and help me understand what you show me."

Early on a Sunday morning several weeks after we visited the Army officer that I began by telling you about, he came to our church dressed in fatigues. He had duty that day and could not come to the service. But he told me he had not been able to forget the prayer that I had suggested to him. In the next 10 years God did a number of stunning things in that man’s life. And he eventually gave his life to Christ. I am still in regular contact with him even though I live in a different state. For nearly 30 years now he has been one of the strongest leaders in the church that he joined.



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It may be easiest to access my books from my Amazon Author Central page,

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WAGING SPIRITUAL WAR

I have recently been made more aware of serious problems in our nation, and of spiritual attack in the lives of people that I love. These things are frustrating. And one of the most frustrating factors in my seeing these things is that I cannot see anything I can do to have any appreciable effect. But while I cannot help in the physical realm, I know I can have great effect in the spiritual realm where the real battle will be fought. Paul wrote about this in 2 Corinthians 10. Verse 3 says as much.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.”

I am not exactly sure how to apply this truth. Paul is warning people who have not repented of sins against the church that he is coming with spiritual authority. But how he applies this seems to fit a much larger set of circumstances, including those that I am dealing with right now. Look at the following verses. Verse 4 reads,

“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.”

Paul says the weapons of spiritual warfare are not fleshly efforts. They do not come by screaming at people, although God can speak thunderously.  On a broader scale, they are not political, although they can affect governments. When Paul says they demolish strongholds, he is talking about the strongholds of demonic forces in the world and in the lives of people, sometimes even believers. This certainly describes things I have seen in the lives of people who cannot seem to let go of attitudes that are destroying them and others. It also applies to some who are being attacked by jealousy, intrigue, and infighting among colleagues. And I can see this in the culture of my own country, and around the world.

We see something of how this works in verse 5.

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

How do we confound ungodly arguments? Let me point out three crucial factors. The first is love. God's love for people will often overcome opposition. When we speak of spirituality, we have to include all the fruit of the the Spirit listed in Galatians 5. But possibly the most powerful of them is agape, the infinite, ultimate love of God in our lives. Next is spiritual knowledge. This must begin with the gospel by which lives are transformed. Sometimes this means simply speaking the truth even when it is opposed. When he was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, Jesus just quoted Scripture. He did not convince Satan, but Jesus was not swayed by the temptation.

Finally, and many ways most important is prayer. In Ephesians 6:10-17 Paul gives us what are mostly defensive weapons. But in verse 18 he concludes with the power of prayer.

“Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.”

We break the power of the enemy by prayer. We extend the Kingdom of God by praying. And we can trust the power of God as we become more and more intimate with Him. You may not see revival as you pray. But you can know God is at work. And you never see revival without extraordinary prayer. You may not avoid evil in this world. Abraham interceded for Sodom. But it was still destroyed. Jesus could have avoided the cross. But I am so thankful that He did not. You will not be able to to keep the Antichrist from rising in the last days. But you will be able to endure all that comes upon the Earth. And you can build a shelter of prayer around those you pray for. And again and again you will turn the hearts of those for whom you pray back to the God of the Bible.

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WRITING FORCEFULLY

I am not sure forceful writing is something all of us strive for. But I do believe many of us would like to know how to add impetus to the words we write.

How do we write with overwhelming influence on our readers, on our culture? I have thought a great deal about this and I think I have some things to say about writing forcefully. However, before I begin I suppose I should grant you a disclaimer. My books are not, nor are they likely to be, on the New York Times best-seller list. My writing is hardly shaking the world. My lack of authority on this issue opens these suggestions up for discussion. What do you think about each of them? I suspect all of us thinking about our writing, would come up with some principles that could transform our writing and possibly the lives of our readers.

Let me begin with my oldest principle.

Brevity is Force.

Especially for young writers, this may sound counterintuitive. “You are saying, 'The less I write, the greater the impact,?’” Well, that is close to what I am suggesting. I am saying, “Expressing the same thought in fewer words will say it better.” I have a friend who is a riveting preacher. His exposition is brilliant, his illustrations are moving, his logic is cogent and often humorous. But it often takes him over an hour to preach one of them. I have been in some places in the world where that would be ideal, but he does not preach in any of those places. The length of his sermons takes much of the force out of what he has to say. This is every bit as true of writing as it is of speaking.

Clarity is Force.

Most of us would like our writing to be impressive. I remember a comic scene on the old Lou Grant show where someone found an article written 30 years before by their managing editor, Charlie Hume, when he was a cub reporter. The byline on the article read “F. Charles Hume.” He defended himself by saying, “All of us have been pretentious from time to time.” When one of the other characters asked him what the F stood for, he answered, “Nothing, unless you count F. Scott Fitzgerald.” It is always tempting to use big words and try to sound impressive. But the main issue of writing is clear communication. One of the passages of Scripture God has used to speak to me about my writing over the years is Habakkuk 2:1-3. Verse 2 calls us to “write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets.” Great writing is always understandable. A good writer makes what may be complicated plain for people to understand.

I am intimidated by the next of these.

Beauty is Force.

I never feel like my writing can be beautiful. And, indeed, I'm no C.S. Lewis. But writing is an art as well as a craft. Beautiful writing will affect people's lives. Most of us have a sense of beauty when we see it on a printed page. And while I will never be C.S. Lewis, Malcolm Muggeridge, or Philip Yancey, I can read such authors in the hope that their beauty will rub off. And I can strive to improve the beauty of what I have to say and how I write it.

Truth is Force.

I'm not sure this is not the most important of these principles. One of the best writing prompts I have ever seen, especially for poetry, says, “Write the truest sentence that you know.” I am writing primarily to Christian writers. You actually have an advantage over others in this area because you have a grip on ultimate truth.

Conviction is Force.

You need to know why you believe what you believe is true. A good writer is a clear thinker. A good writer is always asking why. You will spend time thinking through things until you come to a bedrock of conviction. A good writer knows what she thinks and why she thinks it, what she knows and how she knows it, what she believes and why she believes it.

Compassion is Force.

Good writers care about their readers. Christian writers pray for the needs of people who will read their work. The importance of what you have to say relates directly to the needs, sometimes the deepest needs, of those for whom you are writing.

God's Moving is Force.

The most life-changing force in writing is the hand of God on your words. At this point I'm talking about something that goes far beyond your craft. The hand of God on your writing flows from the depth of your relationship with God, and the effect He has on all of your life. I believe this is true whether you are writing a devotional book, a theological treatise, or a baseball story. What God is doing in your life we'll impact the lives of your readers.

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PTAP: Disciple Making Movements

Requests for training believers in how to start Disciple-Making Movements are growing fast.  Numerous Discovery Bible Studies are happening in several languages and various areas of the Arabian Peninsula and spreading across international borders as people connect by Skype or travel.  It is a simple, transferrable, and easily reproducible method to introduce people to the Word of God and have them experience Him at the same time.  It can also be done even with the illiterate.  Please pray for the Word of God to spread swiftly and that believers will be protected and reproducing. Please pray that those who have tasted and seen that the LORD is good via the Scriptures, Christian media, healings, deliverances, answers to prayer, dreams and visions, etc, will actually be saved by grace through faith. 

Please pray for the LORD of the Harvest to pour out three things on the people of the Arabian Peninsula:
  1. The Truth about what He has done for man through the LORD Jesus Christ.
    Faith to believe the Truth when they hear it.
  2. Repentance to turn from sin and embrace the Truth to the saving of their souls.

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TIGHTEN THE BELT OF YOUR MIND

I am embarrassed to admit how spiritually insensitive I was in what I'm preparing to tell you. I did a great deal of research over several years and in fact completed the first drafts of an entire book on spiritual intelligence before I was convicted that what I had to say was not from God.

First God convicted me that my motives were not pure. I said some things in the book that were true, and possibly helpful to some. But I also secretly wanted to insinuate that I was smart too. God forgive me.

But the broader problem was the focus on intelligence itself. We have seen this, possibly to a lesser extent, in the focus on natural intelligence in education. In the early part of the last century Stanford psychologist Lewis Terman, who developed the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test, was obsessed with identifying children with exceptional intelligence. However, it turned out that a majority of the children Turman identified did not do well in life.

Scripture tells us that God is not as interested in bright minds as He is with tight thinking. Few things are as dangerous spiritually as loose thinking. 1 Peter 1:13 has a marvelous picture for this. King James Version translated this fairly literally calling us to gird up the loins of our minds. In the English Standard Version this verse reads,


“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”


Here is the picture. In the ancient near East men wore flowing robes. There were a number of good things about this, but robes became a major problem if one had to run. If a man ran any distance at all he would soon be hopelessly tangled in the cloth. So if someone  knew he was going to have to run, he would gather sheets his robe up and tuck them into the belt around his waist.

Peter uses this as a vivid picture for preparing our minds for action. He links this word picture with being sober minded. Tightening the belt of your mind does not appear anywhere else in Scripture. However Peter uses being sober-minded twice more in this letter. 1 Peter 5:8 calls us to be sober-minded because our adversary the devil is stalking us. In 1 Peter 4:7 Peter says because the end of all things is near, be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.

Peter calls us to sinch our minds up on things of Ultimate Importance. What do you think about? Is your mind fixed on earthly success, earthly comfort, earthly satisfaction? Sober minded believers set their minds on what God will ultimately do in our lives.
This requires us to tighten our minds on Ultimate Truth. I was once talked with a close friend about errors in The DaVinci Code. He liked the book, and did not think most of my objections  were important. Then I mentioned Jesus being married. He object to this. I told him there is absolutely no ancient reference to any such thing. The notion only rose from speculations in modern times. He answered that he wasn't getting into the history, he  just meant that was how he thought it should be. I suppose he assumed truth and history would adapt.

If we want meaning in this life we must direct the motivation of our minds to Ultimate Hope. I was just trying to think of a C.S. Lewis quote that said something like, If you aim at truth you will get comfort as well. If you aim at comfort, you will get neither. Some of you Lewis aficionados know I was thinking wrong. What Lewis said was, “Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth thrown in. Aim and Earth, and you will get neither.” I am not sure the related thought would not be true as well. “Aim at truth and you will get intellect thrown in. Aim at intellect and you will get neither.

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WHAT DO YOU WANT?

Question #3

“What do you want, and why do you want it?”

You may be thinking this question does not fit with the others. But it does. Many of our conclusions are affected more by our wants than by our reasoning. I recently heard a joke about a guy who decided he should not eat donuts. But he was finding it very difficult to hold his donut free conviction. And in his struggle he said, “Maybe God just doesn’t want me to stop eating donuts. So he decided that if there was an empty parking space in front of the donut shop when he passed, that would be a sign from God that he was not to stop eating donuts. “And sure enough,” he reported to his small group, “on the fourth time around the block . . .”

What we want influences what we think. And it is important to examine our wants and the reasons for them as we are trying to determine the truth.

In his book, Ends and Means, Aldous Huxley wrote, “I had motives for not wanting the world to have meaning; and consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption.”

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PTAP: Prayer for Yemen amid War

We pray for grace and strength for those in the community who have lost love ones in the civil war in Yemen, for strength for all the mothers as they continue with their responsibilities even in the middle of war times, for them to nurture and teach their children in the community in the ways of the Lord, being an example of strength and grace to their children.
We pray for those who teach, mentor and disciple regularly with the new believers, to seek the Lord as they prepare their lessons as they meet regularly. We pray for the Holy Spirit to speak to their hearts as they discover the Word of God.
Also, pray for those organizing retreats to hear the voice of the Lord, study, and prepare for the different activities, lessons and fellowships, that they will be building trust, and strengthening each other.
Pray for the leadership team as they make difficult decisions. Pray for the peace of God to be their guide as they make those decisions. Pray for them to discern the true followers, from those who may want to harm them. Pray against the plans of the enemy against the lives of the community families. Pray to send help to the leaders to support them, spiritually, physically, and emotionally.
Pray for the situation to improve, for those who have the power to stop the war to come to a peace term. Pray for the different villages where the conflict has increased. Pray for the protection of their families.
Pray for provision of food and water where the help has not arrived. Pray that the Lord would remove any obstacles from the roads for supplies to be able to reach their community, for them to have their needs met. Pray for the different AID projects, water, food, electricity, communication, education, transportation, media, and we pray for those who are providing, giving, organizing, leading, and working in the different projects. May the Lord multiply resources, for each and every project.
Pray for people not to lose hope but to put their eyes on the Lord, the only one that can solve conflicts, hunger, and any lack. Instead, pray that they would use that energy to work, to study, to help and encourage one another.
We pray for those who are seeking the Lord, to meet regularly with those who speak Truth and to open their spiritual eyes to understand, believe and make decisions to follow Him.
Pray for those who fear as their faith weakens, to focus on the Lord and nothing else. Pray that the Presence of God will be more real than the reality the community is experiencing through the war.
Pray Psalm 27:3-4 - "Though an army besiege me my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. One thing I ask form the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple"
Pray that the different believers will be able to meet once again, to strengthen each other, and encourage each other and most important to pray for one another, and to pray for the community of believers.
Pray 1 Corinthians 12 for the church--that there may not be divisions in the body of Christ, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
Pray for a country that continues to be plagued by war. Starvation is a reality to many who live there. Pray especially for those who don't know where their next meal will come from. Ask that embargos will be lifted and that food will be brought to those who need it. Pray for crops to grow well and for farmers to be able to get food to market. Ask for God's mercy on this country.
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During the month of October, thousands of people around the world are joining in and praying through the countries of the 10/40 Window. Today is prayer on behalf of Bahrain. PTAP is delighted to join in these prayers, especially for the seven countries on the Arabian Peninsula.

Praise Report
Praise God that there are very open expressions of the Lord Jesus in Bahrain, Christian Hospitals, Churches and Christian Bookstores (The Bible, Acts 22:15).

Prayer Request
Pray that these different ministry centers will continue to have freedom to shine their lights and that many locals will seek out these places of truth (The Bible, Isaiah 45:19).

Pray that the government will have wisdom to care for people living in their country from both the Sunni and Shi'ite Islamic background. Right now the divide seems to be increasing (The Bible, 1 Peter 2:17).

Call to Salvation
Pray that God will bring Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims to Himself and they will dwell together in unity (The Bible, Colossians 3:14).

Source: WIN

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Prayer Changes Things

Pray for the country of Y as unrest continues. Now that the port of A is open, pray that ships bringing food will come and that those who need the food will receive it. Pray for all the logistics necessary to make this happen. Pray for peace in Y. Pray for a number of believers who are in great need now - without jobs and means to provide well for their families. Pray that some of this food will go to them and that they too would provide for those in need (Luke 10:25-37).
In the same country, pray for a young man who is searching for Truth due to trauma in his childhood. Thank God that he now has access to the Scriptures. Ask that the Holy Spirit will help him understand them. Pray that he and his whole family will believe. In addition, pray for a believer who was put in prison last week for trying to help meet the material needs of other believers. Pray for his release, spiritual encouragement, peace and joy (Matthew 5:10, 11), and boldness to speak God's word (Acts 4:29).
In another country, there had been a budding church of nationals coming together. However, a jailing of one of the new believers, then a court case between two of them, etc. caused the group to crumble. Pray for the long-time tentmakers and these believers, that they will all have renewed faith, love, hope, guidance, encouragement from the word (Romans 15:4), and wisdom from the past, to see God's chosen church established together in the faith in unity (Psalm 133, Romans 15:5-7).
Pray for the young men in another country who live in a small, conservative town. Some of them are hostile to the truth but they are still willing to discuss the issues. They are hungry for spiritual substance in contrast to their peers who only care about material comfort. Pray that God would grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth that they may escape from the snare of the devil who has captured them to do his will (2 Timothy 2:25, 26).
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PRAYING FOR NEEDS

Jesus told us to ask the Father for our daily bread. We are tempted to devote prayer to the chocolate donuts of luxury and comfort. But none of these pleasures are good, if our real needs are not met. Two truths emerge from the wording of this prayer. Needs are immediate. And needs are ultimate.

We have a tendency to pray for God to provide our needs far into the future. These seem to be prayers for God to provide so we will not have to trust him ever again. I have terminal cancer. God has not chosen to remove my cancer. But I have lived and often been basically healthy years longer than my doctors told me I would. Not long ago a friend introduced me as a cancer survivor. I told him later that I couldn't say that. He said, "Every day you are alive, you are a survivor." I told one of my doctors I was doing better than he thought I would because people were praying for me. He was silent for a moment and then said, "That's right."

Our needs are also ultimate. You will die if you do not have food to eat. You have other ultimate needs. Some are physical like the need for bread. Others are emotional, intellectual or spiritual. From an ultimate perspective our greatest needs are spiritual. Life is ultimately meaningless without a sense of wonder, truth, purpose, righteousness and security. These only come from God. They are the fruit of the gospel in our lives. Jesus died that we might have life truly, fully and eternally. Are you focusing on the greatest needs that face us? Or are your prayers distracted by lesser things. My cancer brings an urgency to my life. I don't want to devote most of my energy to praying for a better parking place at the donut shop.

Next week we will look at praying for forgiveness.

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DAY ELEVEN:
VERSE:
that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you....(John 14:17)
PRAYER: (Part 2)
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Father, You said if we, as a people return to You - in spirit, in truth and through repentance, You will hear, heal and help us in our time of need. Lord, but we are still a people hard of hearing. We have more bibles in circulation in print and electronically around the world, more worship music, more "Christian" movies, more "churches", more....more....more. We send more people on missions trips around the world yet some of them only go for their own selfish reasons for their resumes. Some of them only go for a reason to do something on their summer vacation. Most of them have not truth in them, because the Truth was never in them.
 
This is the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit, Who testifies within us that every jot, tittle, word, phrase and passage in the Bible is true. Yet the world cannot receive it because sin, intellectualism and humanism are obstacles to a simple understanding of what Your Spirit is saying to us in these last days. They cannot receive it because they doubt. Sometimes we, Your remnant have our doubts, oh Lord, but our doubts are not about Your existence, self-existence and sovereignty, but our doubts are the scar tissues of our fallen state which will not be done away with while we are still living on earth. Their doubts are because, to put it bluntly - they do not know You even while knowing OF You. 
 
They see You as their ticket to prosperity and nothing bad happening in their lives because some smiling preacher in $5000 suits on TV told them so in his books, and seminars etc....or their local minister talks only of Your fictional tolerance of sin and "loving everything and everybody" no matter what.  So when their concept of prosperity and the easy western life do not materialize, they walk away from you, just like the "disciples" did in John 6:66. These are the same people who will one day take the Mark of the Beast, whose number is 666....because they do "not see Him or know Him". Lord, You said in this Word above (John 14:17) that this "seeing or knowing" is literally about partaking of, experiencing, beholding and discerning YOU - the One True God of Heaven, Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life (Verse 6). This spiritual blindness exists today because even though the world and its false religions know of and about Your Word, they refuse and reject and were never truly reborn.
 
Father God, so we pray for them right now that they may "see" that they may "taste and see that the Lord is good" blessed is the man and woman and child who trusts in Him. We pray that they too will remove the self-embedded scales from the eyes of their own spiritual hearts and see that the Lord - He is God. The Lord - He is God. The Lord - He is God and there is no other. Give us the influence and boldness to share the joys of knowing this Truth that the world may know and seek to wait, rest and anticipate that glorious eternity with You, through Christ our Soon Coming King. Amen.
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DAY 6/31 DAYS OF PRAYER TO BEGIN 2015

JOIN IN HERE DAILY: #31 DAYS OF PRAYER

VERSE:

But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.  He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked....(1 John 2:5-6)

PRAYER:


Oh Most Holy and Heavenly Father, I think You that Your Word, Oh God, is written in the Heavens. I thank You that Your Word is Truth. I thank You that Your Words will never fade or pass away and therefore, because You keep Your Word, I pledge to do my part and keep Your Word hidden in my heart and shown through my actions and deeds, that Christ lives within me. 

Lord, may Your Holy Spirit, the Spirit of all Truth, Wisdom and Understand Who keeps me permanently connected to the Eternal, fortify my will to keep Your Word of Truth firmly embedded, to keep it from shame and slander, to keep it from dishonor and degradation and to keep and guard it as jealously as You guard Your Holy Name. Your Love commands, compels and gives me confidence in Your Word to remain faithful to it, to obey it and dwell on it as our Savior did. Your Word says in Hebrews 5:7 that our Savior's prayers, cries and petitions were heard because of His piety, obedience and submission to Your Will and Yours alone.


Let us now walk in that Truth, in the Path of Persistent Obedience where He, the Lord Jesus, walked that we may too be found in Him, to the praise and glory of His Name. By this Truth we know we are His, in Him, in His Will and walking in His Ways. Lord we long to be like Jesus, and to live, walk, talk and rest in You as He did and may ALL our worship be Yours and His, throughout our lives, in the Strong and Mighty Name of King Jesus I pray, amen.

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Terrorism, Truth, and Trust

“Though this world with devils filled, Should threaten to undo us, We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us. Let goods and kindred go, This mortal life also; The body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still; His kingdom is forever.” (Martin Luther)

 

This morning, before President Obama departed for a meeting at the United Nations, he spoke concerning the initial attacks on ISIS in Syria. A coalition of five Arab nations joined the United States in this attack. Airstrikes against fixed targets were made by warplanes dropping bombs, remotely piloted aircraft,and ships firing cruise missiles.

 

This was only the initial phase of the war against this terrorist group. Training and equipping the moderate Syrian rebels opposed to Assad will take a long time.Degrading and defeating ISIS will not happen overnight. Persuading them to abandon the fight will not be easy.

 

Sunni-majority countries joining the U.S. in fighting this radical Sunni militant group indicates they understand that ISIS is not really Islamic. ISIS recruits soldiers to join their ranks, claiming they are “the truthful.” In fact, their propaganda is a lie.

 

We may have become so comfortable with our prosperous lifestyles that we are unmoved by news of more than 200,000 Syrians killed by a brutal regime. We may feel so secure that we find it impossible to identify with millions of heartbroken homeless people seeking refuge in other countries.

 

We may have been so preoccupied with our personal agendas, that we missed hearing the President report that an Al Qaeda splinter group, the Khorasan Group, was also attacked because of intelligence indicating an imminent threat against the U.S. homeland. To say the least, the possibility of IEDs wreaking havoc on our familiar streets is upsetting. The thought of terrorism on American soil makes us tremble. Are we scared yet?  

 

To be sure, Christians should pray. We should ask God’s blessings on our president as he seeks heaven’s wisdom in this fight against evil forces intent on our destruction. We should also pray for military personnel serving in our armed forces, and for those serving from Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the United Emirates. 

Each year on September 21st, the World Council of Churches sponsors the International Day of Prayer for Peace. This date is also the United Nations sponsored Day of Peace. Until “the war to end all wars” is fought, we should humbly entreat the Prince of Peace to bless our nation and world with the peace He alone can bring.   

 

Jesus provides the antidote to any tinge of terror we may ever feel—“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God.” (Matthew 10:31 NLT)

 

Johnny R. Almond

Christian preacher and writer

Author, Gentle Whispers from Eternity

http://GentleWhispersFromEternity-ScripturePersonalized.com/

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The Struggle to Walk in 'Reality'

      Why all the fascination with “Duck Dynasty” these days? Is it just another example of mindless cultural fluff, or is a profound spiritual message somehow involved?

 

      The A&E Network’s unlikely hit series is the second most watched original series on a cable channel. As you probably know by now, the show chronicles the Robertson clan, the rags-to-riches family that has turned making duck calls into a lucrative company called Duck Commander.

 

      On a recent media blitz in New York City, the bearded stars were asked by Matt Lauer on “The Today Show” whether “Duck Dynasty” episodes were “real” or scripted. Family patriarch Phil Robertson replied, “Most of the time we ad-lib. Think about it: Some TV producer out of L.A. is fixin’ to put words into our mouth? Gimme a break.”

 

      Jase, one of the Robertson sons, described the culture shock between the TV producers and the fiercely independent Louisianans: “They come up with ideas, and we just get to be ourselves in the situation.”

 

      Is that the secret to the amazing success of the Robertsons, after all—the fact that they “just get to be themselves”?

 

      In various other interviews, the Robertsons have discussed how crucial it is for them to “keep it real,” even in the face of constant pressure to compromise their faith and values. Success has its own temptations, but it would be deadly to the show’s success if the family tried to fit into some mold set by TV gurus.

 

      But I’ve admitted to some friends lately that I don’t always like “reality.” Yes, the truth will set us free (John 8:32), but first it often brings pain and dismay. I can see why some people prefer to live their whole life in a fantasy world.

 

      And have you ever wondered what people would see if YOUR life was a TV reality show? Would it be the most boring program ever, because you never do anything heroic or adventurous? Would you be embarrassed if hidden cameras caught a behind-the-scenes look at what’s really going on in your family or career?

 

      Perhaps the reality show cameras would reveal that your public persona is far different from who you truly are. As Jesus described the Pharisees, maybe you’re a hypocrite…a play actor…wearing a religious mask or “happy face” to hide your inner reality.

 

      Jesus once told a Samaritan woman who had bounced from one immoral relationship to another, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24). There’s an important message here about whether we’re living lives that are authentic or phony.

 

      The Greek word translated “truth” is alētheia. In addition to meaning “truth” in terms of what is right and wrong (e.g., the truth of Scripture), alētheia has a much broader meaning. It can be translated as “reality,” and one Bible dictionary defines it as “candor of mind which is free from pretense, simulation, falsehood, or deceit.”

 

      Many people today are yearning for reality. Perhaps they’ve never classified themselves as a “seeker of truth,” but they’re tired of the phony, the fabricated, and the hyped.

 

      Yet, sadly, not everyone is ready to face the truth. Jack Nicholson’s character in “A Few Good Men” may have been right when he famously said, “You can’t HANDLE the truth!”

 

      Let’s be honest: At the same time as we applaud the “reality” of a program like “Duck Dynasty,” millions are also watching the un-reality of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.”

 

      Do we even have a clue as to what is “real” anymore? Do we even care?

 

      As you’ve probably guessed, my concern isn’t whether the Robertsons or the Kardashians are living in reality or phoniness. My concern is for you and me.

 

      I pray you have some true friends who are helping you “keep it real”—people who refuse to allow you to drift into unreality and self-deception. Even though it’s unlikely you’ll ever be offered your own TV program, may the reality of Christ be evident in your life. Although people will be impacted little by what you PROFESS, they can be impacted greatly by the reality of what you POSSESS.

 

      While the Robertson clan has made a mark on the world through manufacturing duck calls, you probably won’t be attracting any ducks through your sincere walk with Jesus. But I predict you surely will succeed as a fisher of men (Matthew 4:19).

    

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Ten Things To Pray For As The Election Nears

abc_dnc_platform_change_120905_704x396.jpgDid you hear the response yesterday when the Democratic moderator at their convention asked for a vote as to whether they would reinstate God into the party platform? A significant part of the crowd voted with a rousing "YES!"  However, a group that sounded just as large boomed a resounding "NO."  As the cameras moved in on those voting negatively we saw people standing and waving their arms as they seemed to be defiantly saying, "We don't want God's name even mentioned in our policies."


Now to be honest, it should not be surprising when ungodly people act ungodly. What is more troubling is how many people were so overt about their disapproval of even recognizing God. How sad to think that in our country there are enough people who want to debate this issue. There have no doubt always been people in our culture who would disavow God's existence or importance. But today it appears to becoming more and more of the "in" thing. It's popular, progressive and cutting edge now.

That's one of many reasons why I hope we who love God and follow Christ will do more this election season than just utter a few "God bless the election" prayers. First of all, we need to vote, but we must also pray. Let me suggest ten things to have on your prayer list, things I hope we might consider starting to pray for soon, maybe even for a biblical forty days starting September 27th or so.

1. Pray for the election results to bring God glory.

2. Pray for the truth to be prominent and win out over falsehood.

3. Pray that whatever the results Christians will be energized to stand for Christ, remain compassionate and learn to trust God more deeply.

4. Pray for Christian leaders in government to stand strong and firm and to remain committed to leading like Jesus.

5. Pray that our public arena will continue to welcome the mention of God, freedom of religion and fair dialogue about the role of faith in our country.

6. Pray for a harvest of decisions for Christ and the election of more Christians and moral leaders to public office.

7. Pray for a reduction of our debt and a new commitment to wise spending and use of our resources.

8. Pray for the safety of our country from terrorism and an ongoing development of military protection and readiness.

9. Pray for the churches of America to remain focused on their mission to go into their communities and all the world with the Gospel and its message of compassion.

10. Pray for heart change towards God in the current administration and leadership of our country.

Add your own items but let's commit to pray together this year. It will probably matter more than we even think.

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