"Redeem Me From the Oppression of Man" (6/1)

Thought from today’s Bible reading from Psalm 119:89-176.

Redeem me from the oppression of man, that I may keep Your precepts” (Psalm 119:134).

Throughout this psalm, David expressed his love for God’s word and his determination to follow it. Yet here he mentioned a potential obstacle for his obedience – oppression. David certainly experienced this in his life. Therefore, he was well aware of the challenges that oppression presented to faithful obedience. So his prayer to God was for this obstacle to be removed.
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Jabez Called upon God (4/25)

Thought from today’s Bible reading from 1 Chronicles 3-5.

Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, ‘Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!’ And God granted him what he requested” (1 Chronicles 4:10).

Jabez is one of many obscure Bible characters that we know very little about. Yet he is noted for this prayer that he offered. This prayer is a good reminder of some of the things we need to focus on in our prayers.
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Pray for Those in Authority

Prayer

One of our specific obligations in prayer is to pray for those in positions of civil authority. Paul made this clear in his first letter to the young evangelist Timothy:

First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

Not only did Paul teach that Christians are to pray for their leaders, he explained why we are to pray for them. There is a specific desire for which we should pray that is according to the will of God. Before we consider this, we should first be reminded of the purpose for which God ordained civil authorities.
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Unworthy of God’s Lovingkindness (1/23)

Thought from today’s Bible reading from Genesis 32-34.

When Jacob departed from Laban and traveled toward his home country, he was fearful of the prospect of meeting his brother Esau. This was certainly understandable since Esau was seeking to kill him when he left (Genesis 27:41-43). When he heard that Esau was coming to meet him with four hundred men (Genesis 32:6), Jacob prayed to God.

O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord, who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your relatives, and I will prosper you,’ I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which You have shown to Your servant; for with my staff only I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two companies. Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, that he will come and attack me and the mothers with the children” (Genesis 32:9-11).

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Blessings and Burdens of Spiritual Independence

Earlier this week, Americans celebrated Independence Day, commemorating the day when the thirteen colonies declared their independence from England. In breaking ties, the colonies affirmed that they were able to govern themselves and no longer needed to be dependent upon a distant monarch.

There were certainly blessings that came from this independence. The most notable were freedom and having a government that could better relate to the concerns of the people. However, with independence also comes burdens – additional responsibilities that must now be fulfilled by the independent entity since they would no longer be dependent upon others as they were previously.

Blessings and burdens will exist anytime a person or a people determine to be independent from others. It was true with the thirteen American colonies. At the time of the Exodus when the Israelite people became independent from the Egyptians, they enjoyed blessings (freedom from bondage) and faced burdens (they could no longer rely upon the Egyptians to provide for them – Exodus 16:3). When a young adult moves out of the house and becomes independent from his parents, there are blessings in his new independence and burdens in the greater responsibilities since he now has to provide for himself. Independence, in any context, contains both blessings and burdens.

In this article, I want us to examine our independence as it pertains to spiritual matters. Through the provisions He has given, God has made it so that each one of us can faithfully serve Him, regardless of what others might choose to do. This is not to say that we should not work together or that we cannot help one another; rather, we must take responsibility as individuals for our own spiritual lives.Continue Reading

The Faith of Daniel’s Friends

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego

While the Jews were in Babylonian captivity, King Nebuchadnezzar made a huge, golden statue and commanded the people of every nation and language to fall down and worship the image when they would hear the sound of the music. Those who refused would be cast into a furnace of fire (Daniel 3:1-6).

Most of the people complied with the king’s order and worshiped the image at the prescribed times (Daniel 3:7). However, three young men – Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego – did not (Daniel 3:12). These men were among the Jews who had been taken captive and were companions of Daniel (Daniel 1:6-7). They now found themselves before an angry king:
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Resolutions for the New Year

Notebook

As one year quickly draws to a close and we look forward to a new year, we usually take some time for self-evaluation and making resolutions to improve our lives. Many resolutions that are made have to do with our lives here on this earth: improving our finances and health, eliminating bad habits, etc. These are all good, but we must remember that improving our spiritual lives is far more important.

For bodily exercise is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8).

In the new year, you may get in shape, eat healthier, quit a bad habit, and get out of debt. Those are all great goals, but none of them will matter if your spiritual life is not in order. So as you make your resolutions for the new year, here are six suggestions for improving your spiritual life.
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