A Man Worthy of Our Hope
A Man Worthy of Our Hope
Dr. Charles Stanley
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5
Christ’s resurrection is not open for theological debate. There are many people who think it’s sufficient to believe that Jesus lived and died. However, the Savior’s restoration to life is central to what He claimed about His identity and to Christianity as a faith. Picking up on our question from yesterday’s devotion, we must ask what kind of man is this who rose from the dead?
The answer is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who died for our sins and rose again because death had no power over Him. The resurrection validated Jesus’ whole ministry. All along, He said and did things to reveal Himself as Lord. When the Lamb of God—the perfect sacrifice for sin—conquered death, He confirmed His identity. Who but the Creator could return Himself to life?
We could also answer the question by saying that the kind of man who returns from the dead is one worthy of our hope. Since Jesus Christ affirmed God’s power to give His followers eternal life, their earthly existence is not marching toward an end; rather, it is the opening chapter of a beautiful and infinite relationship with God. Paul said that at death, Christians are absent from their bodies and present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8). So the best is yet to come!
Apart from Jesus’ resurrection, there is no hope. Those who chase after their own versions of immortality have no assurance of life after death, because there is none. Yet believers face death with the confidence that nothing can separate them from the love of God. Death is just a short trip home.
For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please visit www.intouch.org.
How to Pray for the Unsaved
In the last two devotionals, I have stressed the importance of praying for the unsaved people in our lives to be saved. Today, I want to give you four ways you can pray for them:
1. Pray for openness and understanding. Acts 16:14 says the Lord opened the heart of Lydia to heed the things spoken by Paul. Paul was speaking the gospel. And if the Lord can open Lydia's heart, He can open your Aunt Mildred's heart.
2. Pray that God would send laborers to them. In Luke 10:2 Jesus said, "The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." I am confident that God will answer any prayer He has commanded us to pray, and this prayer is not a suggestion. Jesus commanded us to pray that God would send out laborers into the harvest.
3. Pray that God will visit them and reveal Himself to them. I do not know of a specific promise in the Bible where it says God is going to visit someone in a dream or give them a vision. But I do see in Scripture where God reveals Himself to people in such ways, like Saul of Tarsus, who, on the Damascus Road, had a vision of the Lord Jesus Christ and was saved.
4. Pray for personal direction and for personal opportunities to share. Jesus, in Luke 10:2 said, "The harvest is great, laborers are few. Pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into His harvest." In the next verse Jesus said, "Behold, I send you." You can become the answer to your own prayer!
So pray for the unsaved people in your life, and do not stop praying until they get saved.
Visit the Answers with Bayless Conley website for more ways to Connect with God
Accepting the Call
"Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching" (John 14:23a, NIV).
Friend to Friend
There is a feature on my cell phone that allows me to decline an incoming call. There are a thousand reasons why I might choose to hit the “decline” button when my phone rings. Sometimes I am writing and have a deadline to make. Decline. Sometimes a call comes in when I’m mid-conversation with a friend or when I’m connecting with my family. Decline. At times, true confessions here, I decline a call simply because I don’t want to talk to the person who’s calling me at that moment. (C'mon, don’t judge me.)
Similarly, there are times in my life when I try to ignore the promptings of the Holy Spirit as if I were declining a cell phone call. Times when I just don’t feel like doing what I know God wants me to do. Times when I don’t want to hear the still small voice that whispers to my soul: "forgive him" – "release your anger" – "humble yourself and ask for forgiveness" or "focus on my plan for you ... not on my plan for another person."
One such time took place a few years back. It was after the final session at a three-day ministry event, I was focused and fervent, determined to head home to my husband and three children as quickly as possible. I busied myself wrapping microphone chords, loading CDs from my resource table, and prepping to leave. While I was mid-busy, a friendly thirty-something woman I’d chatted with previously that weekend came up to me with her friend. I was courteous to them, but in a “see-you-later, girlfriend” kind of way.
Not getting my subtle clues, this woman inquired excitedly about the book I was in the middle of writing. I lifted my head with surprise as she announced, “I can’t wait to read your book! Your enthusiasm for the Lord is so contagious, and I just know you have an amazing testimony!” Then she and her friend stood there expectantly. Decline.
Okay, feel my pain here. It is day three of a three-day event! I was exhausted. I was done. Yet this woman and her friend wanted to hear my testimony. So, I did what any normal fleshy woman would do. I told God, Not now, Lord. I’m going home. I’ve done what I came to do and now I’m going home to my family. I’m tired, slightly grumpy, definitely hungry, and done. I can’t tell these girls about my abortion right now. Nope. Not going to go there. Please don’t ask me to!
So I looked up at these two sweet women and, with a forced chuckle, said, “Yeah, I’ve got a doozy of a story, but don’t we all? Thank God for grace.”
There! Now they should leave me alone, I thought.
But God kept nudging my heart. Tell them, Gwen.
Before I had a chance to continue my dialog with the Lord, another couple of women came to join our conversation. I was so not amused.
God, are You kidding me? We are done here!
But He kept nudging.
So I finally conceded and shared my testimony with the six women who had gathered to speak to me. Within minutes, two of the six were crying. They’d had abortions as well and for years had lived under the weight of shame. We became a bonded band of blubbering sisters. The story of my redemption from brokenness and the beauty and healing I found in Christ had become a tool in the hands of God that afternoon. What had once been a wound became a weapon ... but only because I accepted the call. (Even if it did take me a while to concede.)
Jesus told his disciples that if they loved Him, they would obey His commands and His teachings (John 14:15-27). A simple if-then statement. If you love me, then you will obey. He also told them that when He returned to the Father in heaven, He would send the Holy Spirit to teach, to guide in truth, to convict of sin and to remind believers of what Jesus taught (John 16:7-14). To help us. To empower us.
The Spirit of God lives within every Christian. He equips us for each task as we yield to His leading. When God prompts us to do something on His behalf, He is faithful to lead the way and to bless our obedience – for His own glory. It's all about His glory. He simply wants our willingness and our obedience. Friend, His plans need to be our plans ... even if His plans sometimes seem to "interrupt" our plans. Let's be women who accept His call. Are you willing today?
Dear Lord, Please forgive me for the times when I’ve chosen my plan over Your plan. Align my will to Yours and help me to express my love for You by obeying your Word and by responding to the promptings of Your Spirit.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It's Your Turn
Can you think of a time when you sensed that God was leading you to do something? How did you respond?
Is there something He is calling you to do today? Are you withholding forgiveness from someone? Are you aware of a need that God wants you to meet? Does He want you end a toxic relationship? Spend a few minutes in prayer about this.
More From the Girlfriends
God calls each of us to use our lives to point to His hope. Right before He ascended into heaven, Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, emphasis added). That call—that commission—will look different for each of us. GiGs, what does this look like for you today? Let's talk about it on my Facebook page. Leave a comment or thought on my wall at www.facebook.com/GwenSmithMusic.
Portions of today's devotion are taken from Gwen's book, Broken Into Beautiful. Her full testimony is featured in the book, along with Scriptural truths and stories of how God has brought restoration the hearts of many other women who had painful life wounds. God delights to transform lives … including your own. Experience God's healing and hope in your life today as you read Broken Into Beautiful! To order the book online, please visit Gwen's website.
We may be living through a dark night now but soon we will see Jesus face to face. He is our hope, the lover of our soul.
"The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory."
Prayer by Hayley Westenra is found on her "Odyssey" album
By SIMPLY DIVINE LOVE on Tuesday, March 15, 2011