Verse of the Day

Daily Devotion 

By:  Bro. Bob Maynard
 

11 June 2016 Verse of the Day

Philippians 1:13 NASB so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else,
 
Now as usual when we come to a verse with an incomplete thought, we need to see the previous verse to get the whole meaning:
Philippians 1:12-13 NASB
(12) Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel,
(13) so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else,
 
Now I want to be sure you understand what Paul is saying. He is saying that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else and therefore my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel. What, are you crazy Paul? How could your imprisonment for the cause of Christ be for greater progress of the gospel? Well, here it is my friend… “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:8-11 NASB).  Wow… That gives us something to think about.
 
Now I want you to know my friend that IF you know Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, He is working in your life. It does not mean that life is going to be all sweet and nice and rosy but it does mean … that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28 NASB).  And since God is working in your life and causing all things to work together for good and His ways are higher than your ways, where does that leave you? That leaves you right in the MIDDLE of FAITH. Because you know that without faith it is impossible to please Him. So you have to believe and trust Him to bring the good from what looks like is bad.
 
That is what Paul did in prison. Was being in prison good? No way. But Paul trusted in God to bring good from it. How can something good come from something bad? Well, let me put it in human terms. How many of us have been on a diet? Most of us? Is a diet fun? No. Is being hungry good? It might be but our flesh says it is bad. And the doctors tell us if we go hungry for too long, it is not good for us. But can any good come out of us being hungry? YES! We can finally fit in the clothes that make us feel skinny. WOW…!!! Thank you Lord.

It comes down to the simple fact that “without faith” we can’t see, know or understand what God is doing in our lives. Is tribulation or distress or famine good? No. But I want you to see what Paul says about these things: Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (Romans 8:35 NASB). And then he says: But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us (Romans 8:37 NASB). So in verse 35, Paul asks a question Who will separate us from the love of Christ? And then in verse 37 Paul makes a BOLD statement that in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.  But I want you to notice one verse that I left out. And I left it out on purpose for this verse is the pivotal verse that makes all the difference in the world on how you look at things that happen to you. You can be a pessimist or an optimist on how you look at things. Is the glass half empty or half full? You have to decide if you are going to have faith on what Christ is doing in your life.

Here is the verse that I left out:  Just as it is written, “FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.” (Romans 8:36 NASB). Paul had the right attitude about prison. He believed that he belonged to Christ. It was not his own will that he wanted. He wanted God’s will to be done in his life. Could God have kept him out of prison? YES! So, if he was in prison (for doing no wrong) he was right in center of God’s will. Even though Paul’s flesh wanted out of prison, Paul was putting his fleshly desires TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG.  It was no longer Paul’s will but God’s will. He was simply trusting God for everything.

Not only was Paul in prison, Paul had another problem. He called it his “thorn in the flesh.” Here is what he had to say about it: Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me–to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NASB).

What can you and I learn from all of this? Here it is: When you think God has turned His back on you, think again. He has not turned His back on you, He has extended His grace to you to help you grow: for when I am weak, then I am strong. And the only way you can grow, is in GRACE and KNOWLEDGE of how the Lord works in your life. The only way you can grow in grace and knowledge of Him in your life is to simply TRUST and OBEY Him. And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6 NASB).

Lord, please forgive me for my lack of faith that you are causing all things to work together for good. Lord, so many, many times I look at the storm instead of looking at the one who controls the storm. Just as Peter started to sink when he took his eyes off you and saw the wind and the waves, so I start to sink every time I start looking at the problems that surround me. Lord, please help me to keep my focus on you and your will. Help me to trust you and obey you as you speak to me. Lord, I love you.

Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard


10 June 2016 Verse of the Day

Philippians 1:12 NASB  Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel,
 
Our VOTD says that Paul’s circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel.  What were Paul’s circumstances?  Well, Paul was in Rome as a prisoner when he wrote this letter to the Philippians.  First of all, let me say that there is some disagreement among the Bible scholars if Paul was imprisoned once or twice in Rome.  But that is not the point here.  We want to know what the Bible says about his circumstances while he was imprisoned in Rome.  Here is what the Bible says in Acts about Paul’s imprisonment: There we found some brethren, and were invited to stay with them for seven days; and thus we came to Rome. And the brethren, when they heard about us, came from there as far as the Market of Appius and Three Inns to meet us; and when Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage. When we entered Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him (Acts 28:14-16 NASB).  And later on we find these words: And he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered (Acts 28:30-31 NASB).  Because Paul was allowed to preach and teach the gospel of God with all openness and unhindered his circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel.
 
What was Paul’s goal for the gospel?  Here it is in his own words: And Paul said, “I would wish to God, that whether in a short or long time, not only you, but also all who hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these chains.”  (Acts 26:29 NASB).  Well, what was this statement in response to?  Here it is in the previous verse: Agrippa replied to Paul, “In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.”  (Acts 26:28 NASB).  Paul was always seeking to persuade men everywhere to become a Christian which is the same thing as to say he wanted all who hear him to become such as he was.  He wanted all to understand who Jesus is (He is the only begotten Son of God) and that by faith in Him, all who believe in Jesus, can be born again to have a whole new life with purpose and meaning.  In fact, everything that Paul did centered around the gospel, the good news: I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it (1 Corinthians 9:23 NASB).
 
Paul was always seeking to share his faith in our Lord Jesus Christ with all who would listen.  Here he is, in Rome, in prison for preaching the good news, and what does he do?  He preaches some more.  Here is what it says in Acts about his stay in Rome:  After three days Paul called together those who were the leading men of the Jews, and when they came together, he began saying to them, “Brethren, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. “And when they had examined me, they were willing to release me because there was no ground for putting me to death. “But when the Jews objected, I was forced to appeal to Caesar, not that I had any accusation against my nation. “For this reason, therefore, I requested to see you and to speak with you, for I am wearing this chain for the sake of the hope of Israel.” They said to him, “We have neither received letters from Judea concerning you, nor have any of the brethren come here and reported or spoken anything bad about you. “But we desire to hear from you what your views are; for concerning this sect, it is known to us that it is spoken against everywhere.” (Acts 28:17-22 NASB).
 
My friend, Paul had a habit of preaching to the Jew first and then also to the Greek.  For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Romans 1:16 NASB).  There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Romans 2:9-10 NASB).  Why the Jew first and then the Greek?  Because the Jews were God’s chosen people.  If they didn’t accept the gospel then it was given to the Greeks.
 
So we find that they had a desire to hear from Paul what his views are concerning the gospel.  So we continue in Acts and we find these words: When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening. Some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe. And when they did not agree with one another, they began leaving after Paul had spoken one parting word, “The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers, saying, ‘GO TO THIS PEOPLE AND SAY, “YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; AND YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE; FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, AND WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES; OTHERWISE THEY MIGHT SEE WITH THEIR EYES, AND HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.”‘ “Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will also listen.” [When he had spoken these words, the Jews departed, having a great dispute among themselves.] (Acts 28:23-29 NASB).
 
Here is the bottom line: Paul wanted all men everywhere to become such as he was: a Christ obedient believer that walked by faith in the only begotten Son of God.  That was his goal in life.  To share Jesus everywhere he went.  What about you my friend?  What are you doing for the greater progress of the gospel?
 
Lord, please forgive me.  I need to renew my dedication to share the good news everywhere I go so that all might know that Jesus is the only way, the only truth and the only way to eternal life.  Lord, burden my heart and instruct my mind so that I might share with all men everywhere that there is no other name given among men whereby we must be saved.  Lord, I want to be pleasing unto you this day and the only way I know to do that is to yield myself to you.  Lord, use me, mold me and make me into the man you want me to be.  Lord, I love you.
 
Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard


9 June 2016 Verse of the Day

Philippians 1:11 NASB  having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
 
Again we have to look at the previous verses to pick up the complete thought of this verse:
Philippians 1:9-11 NASB
(9) And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment,
(10) so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ;
(11) having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
 
So as a result of your love abounding still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, and your approval the things that are excellent, so that you can be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; so now you are ready to know and understand today’s VOTD.
 
Paul says that he wants all Christians in Philippi to be filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ. Now we need to break this phrase down to understand its full meaning. First, what does it mean to be filled with the fruit of righteousness? Well, let’s think about this in physical terms. When you look at a two different fruit trees right next to one another and you see one tree with lots of fruit and the other tree with just a little bit of fruit, what do you think about each tree? The one with a little bit of fruit you kind of ignore but the tree with lots of fruit you usually say “wow, this tree has lots of fruit” and then you tend to go over and start picking the big luscious fruit from the tree. The tree “filled with the fruit” is the tree of choice and you want to be around it and want to benefit from its fruit.
 
The same principle is true for Christians. Some Christians are filled with the fruit of righteousness while some Christians are struggling just to produce some fruit. And the fruit that they produce is “wimpy” at best. Why? Why do some Christians produce lots of fruit: love, joy, peace… Here read it from God’s Holy Word: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23 NASB).
 
So in order to answer the question as to why do some Christians have lots of fruit and some don’t, let me share a little secret with you. I want you to realize that God has you in the school of Sanctification. Do you know what that means? It means that slowly and surely you are being transformed into the image of Christ. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2 NASB). but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence (1 Peter 3:15 NASB). But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts (Romans 13:14 NASB).
 
Now my friend, how long did it take you to go from first grade to 12th grade? Most of us 12 years and some of us a little longer. My point is this: You would not expect to go from the first grade to the 12th grade overnight or even in six years. No, no… you would expect, and rightly so, that it will take at least 12 years for you to graduate from school. So why are we expecting ALL Christians that we meet to be filled with the fruit of righteousness. We are all in different levels of the school of sanctification and we are all learning at different levels and we are all producing different levels of fruit. Therefore, when you meet a person that is a Christian, their fruit level or production level will be different. The main thing to remember is: Be patient with me, God is not through with me yet….. He is still my teacher, and I am still His student, and He is still the one who is producing the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ.
 
My friend, it is harder for some to let go and let God than for others. And because the fruit of righteousness: comes through Jesus Christ it takes some of us longer to learn how to let our Lord Jesus Christ produce the fruit of righteousness. The key thing to remember is that some of us learn quickly and some of us, like myself, learn more slowly. But we are all learners and we are all at different levels. We are all in the school of hard knocks of sanctification trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord (Ephesians 5:10 NASB).
 
But there is a final result of all of our learning in the school of sanctification. And our VOTD says it all when it says: to the glory and praise of God. Just as the high school graduate is screaming at the top of their lungs and tossing their cap into the air at the final commencement, so we who are in submission to our Lord Jesus Christ, will one day recognize that all of our efforts and trials and tribulation are ALL for the glory and praise of God. We all need to remember what Jesus says to us as His disciples that are in school: My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples (John 15:8 NASB).
 
Bottom line: If I am a fruit inspector of your life, what will I see? Will I see “much fruit” or just a “little fruit”? Did you know that if the Lord is convicting you of your “little fruit” in your life that you can change it? You can become a TREE with “much fruit” by allowing Him to guide and direct your life. I know because I have been there. Question is: Will you let Him produce in you “much fruit”?
 
Lord, I come before you throne of grace confessing that my “little fruit” is very weak and puny. But Lord, I want to change. Lord I would like to start learning how to submit to you that I might produce more fruit and better quality fruit. Lord, help me to learn how to submit more to your Spirit in me that I might become more like Jesus. Lord, I love you.
 
Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard


8 June 2016 Verse of the Day

Philippians 1:10 NASB  so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ;
 
This verse is a continuation of the thought from the previous verse which says: Philippians 1:9 NASB  And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment,… So we can say, if your love abounds more and more in real knowledge and all discernment then 1. You may approve the things that are excellent and 2. In order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ.
 
First, you may approve the things that are excellent.  As a Christian, what are your goals in life?  Now we all know what the goals of the non-Christian is:  Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world (1 John 2:15-16 NASB).  Here is what the worldly think about: … the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries (1 Peter 4:3 NASB).  That is a world that we all came from.  That is what we all used to be.  That is a world that we have to avoid.  But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) (Ephesians 2:4-5 NASB).  My friend, I pray that you are like me in that I am eternally grateful to the Lord God of Heaven and earth that called me from a life of sin into His marvelous light to live in fellowship with His son, Jesus Christ the righteous.
 
As Christians, our goals are different from the world.  One of the first priorities as a Christian is that we don’t fall into the trap that the rest of the world is walking in.  We as Christians have to always be on guard that this verse does not become true in our own lives: but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful (Mark 4:19 NASB).  We have to watch out and be careful as to not fall into sin and choke the word.  Check your goals by examining the desires of your heart.
 
So, if we are NOT going to choke the word, then one of the first goals as a Christian is to let the Word of God be a light unto our path:  Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path (Psalms 119:105 NASB).  You and I need to make our decisions based upon the Word of God and allow it to influence our thinking and our actions.  And the only way that I know of that we can do that is to memorize the Word of God just as the Bible says: Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee (Psalms 119:11 KJV).  I can hear it now. “But Brother Bob, you don’t understand, I can’t memorize the Bible… I have tried and I can’t do it…  My friend, then let me ask you one question…. Why can you memorize your favorite song but can’t memorize a simple Bible verse?  Is it maybe because you love the song more than you do God’s Holy Word?  Here is a thought for you?  Try putting your favorite verse in the Bible to the tune of your favorite song.  That’s right.  Put the Bible to song in your own way.  Give it a try and see if it works for you.
 
There is a second thing that our VOTD mentions: In order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ.  Let’s face the facts: All of us, have a goal, a desire that on the last day when we all stand, or better yet, kneel before our Lord Jesus Christ, want to hear those precious words “well done, thou good and faithful servant.”  But if we are realistic with ourselves, we know that “none are righteous, no not one” and our righteousness is as “filthy rags” in the sight of God.  So the question is, how can we be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ?  There is only one way that I know of that we can be sincere and blameless in the day of Christ.  Here it is straight from the Word of God.  Now I want you to know that it is called a mystery for a reason.  That is because the world and the worldly do not understand it.  It is only revealed to babes in Christ: that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:26-27 NASB).
 
There it is my friend…. If you are going to be sincere and blameless in the day of Christ, and if you hope to hear those precious words … ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. … (Matthew 25:21 NASB), then the only way is to let Christ live in you.  And here is the heart of the matter…. The ONLY WAY to let Christ live in you is: #1 Be born again. “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’  (John 3:7 NASB).  #2. Live your life by faith in Him.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”  (Romans 1:17 NASB).  BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM (Hebrews 10:38 NASB).
 
Question is: Are you living your life by faith in Him?  Are you seeking daily to please Him in all that you say and do?  Or are you shrinking back from following Him?
 
Lord, only you are pure, righteous and holy.  Your Spirit convicts me of my sin, my unrighteousness.  Lord, I confess that I am nowhere near where I want to be or even where I need to be.  But this one thing I do confess, I need you more now than I need my next breath.  I need you to live in me, guide me, direct me and mold me into the man you can be proud of.  Lord, I want to please you in all that I say and do.  Lord, help me to hide your word in my heart so that I may be obedient to its truths.  Help me Lord as I go about my daily tasks to give you the praise and glory for all that you do in me and through me.  Lord, I love you.
 
Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard


7 June 2016 Verse of the Day

Philippians 1:9 NASB  And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment,
 
The first thing we notice in this verse is this phrase: And this I pray.  Even though Paul had mentioned this word prayer in an earlier verse: always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all (Philippians 1:4 NASB), he wanted them to know that he had some specific prayers for them.  He realized and wanted them to know that he wanted the Lord Jesus Christ to give them some specific blessings in their lives.  And you know as we come upon our daily prayers for others, we need to keep them updated and specific to their needs.  We need to petition the Lord daily for others and make our prayers specific to their needs.  Prayer can be like a shotgun in that they can cover a wide range of subjects and touch on a number of needs or they can be like a rifle and aim and hit a specific target.  Paul’s prayer in this verse gets very specific and is right on target for the Philippians and their needs.
 
Here is Paul’s first request to the Lord for the Philippians: that your love may abound still more and more.  Wow…  This is a biggie.  That we can grow in love more and more.  That we can cover a multitude of sins with our love. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8 NASB).  That we can love without hypocrisy: Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good (Romans 12:9 NASB).  That we can grow in love so that we do no wrong to a neighbor: Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:10 NASB).  Oh, that God would so live in us that we could grow in patience, kindness and true love for our neighbor: Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant (1 Corinthians 13:4 NASB).  Where are you at, my friend?  Do you need to grow in your love and does it need to abound still more and more?  How about going to God in prayer right now and asking Him to make you more loving so that you might be more like Him in every sense of the word.
 
Paul’s next request to the Lord for the Philippians is that their love may abound still more and more in real knowledge.   Real knowledge, what is that?  Here are some verses that might help us understand what real knowledge is all about: Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature (1 Corinthians 14:20 NASB).  This verse gives us a clue as to what real knowledge is all about.  It is to have a be thinking in a mature way and not as children.  Children are all about what they want, what they desire, it is all about themselves.  But a mature Christian that is thinking in a mature way is thinking about what God wants, His Will, His way of doing things.  A mature Christian is always seeking God’s will in all that they think, say and do. 
 
Real knowledge comes to real Christians who are not only mature in their thinking but they also know where the real source of knowledge comes from.  It doesn’t come from in themselves.  It comes from the Spirit of God in them: For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding (Colossians 1:9 NASB).  Being filled with real knowledge and spiritual wisdom and understanding, my friend, is not a onetime event.  It is an event that happens over and over and over again and again.  Our spiritual problem is that we don’t know when we need real knowledge.  We many, many times are like children when they are out playing.  They play, and play and play some more and then all of a sudden, they realize they are starving because they didn’t stop playing and go in and eat.  We are just like that in that sometimes we get so busy being busy that we forget to pray and “feast” on the Word, so that He might fill us with real knowledge.  You have not because you ask not.  Ask and you shall receive. 
 
Finally, Paul wants them to be filled with all discernment.  Webster’s gives us the basic meaning of: To see or understand the difference; to make distinction; as, to discern between good and evil, truth and falsehood.  Most Christians know the difference between good and evil, truth and falsehood because the Spirit guides them into the truth of the situation:  “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come (John 16:13 NASB).  But here is where all discernment comes into play.  How do you know the difference when it is the Spirit leading you and guiding you and when Satan is disguised as an angel of light is trying to guide you?  No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14 NASB).  Well, this is where maturity comes into play.  Just as you would expect there to be a difference between the way a novice and a journeyman carpenter looks at a situation, so the same is true for how a novice and a mature Christian looks at a situation.  The mature Christian, learns from their past mistakes.  And they also know to recall the Word of God to help them make the right choices so that they can make the best decision in all discernment.  A mature Christian knows to walk in the Spirit so that they will not carry out the desires of the flesh. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh (Galatians 5:16 NASB).  My friend that is real Spiritual maturity and discernment is all about.  I pray that the Lord will enable you and me to walk in real knowledge and all discernment so that we may please Him.
 
Lord, you know the hearts of all and you are able to discern the thoughts and the intentions of all.  Lord, the Holy Scriptures state the truth when it says we like sheep have all gone astray.  But Lord by your love and grace you have drawn us back so that we might bow before you and seek forgiveness.  Lord, we need, no better yet, I need you to give me a mind that has real knowledge and discernment so that I might make the right decisions as I go about my daily tasks.  Lord, I want to honor you not only with my lips but with my life also.  Lord, instruct me, guide me and help me to make choices that you can and do approve of.  Lord, I love you.
 
Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard


6 June 2016 Verse of the Day

Philippians 1:8 NASB  For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.
 
Today’s VOTD starts off with a “one and only” time you will find this exact phrase For God is my witness
in all the Word of God.  Nowhere else in any book of the Bible will you find this exact phrase.  Paul is the only one to use this phrase and it is only found here.  So, that makes this verse unique. 
 
Now that I have your interest, I need to let you know that this is not the only time that Paul used the word witness in relationship to God.  Here are some verses that he also uses the word witness: For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you (Romans 1:9 NASB).  For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed–God is witness (1 Thessalonians 2:5 NASB).  You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers (1 Thessalonians 2:10 NASB).
 
Now why would Paul need to use the phrase For God is my witness and what does it mean.  Well, I believe the reason that Paul needed to use the phrase is because no one can ACTUALLY know how you feel but God.  We can guess or we can “think” we know but only God can truly know how you feel.  The Bible Knowledge Commentary (BKC) expresses it very well when it says that: Paul called on God to witness to his feelings toward the Philippians. Paul was aware — as were his readers — that they could not know his heart. But God knew it perfectly.  Paul wanted the Philippians to know how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.  He wanted them all to understand that he deeply loved them and cared for them and missed them.  The BKC goes on to say: The affection Paul had for his readers was no mere human interest or attraction. It originated with the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Christ’s love had so overwhelmed Paul that His affection was Paul’s very own. The fact that Paul told this to the Philippians demonstrates the reality and intensity of his praise for them.
 
These two thoughts, God is witness and affection of Christ Jesus brings up interesting thoughts about our own relationship with God.  First, have you ever thought of God as your witness?  What would He be witness to?  Your deeds.  Your thoughts.  And even your motives and intentions of the heart.  Isn’t that what the Word of God does as we read His Holy Word and let it sink into our lives?  For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12 NASB).
 
Now I want you to know that God is witness can be a good thing or a bad thing for us.  In Paul’s case, he was calling on God to be a witness as an authentication of how he truly felt and longed for the Philippians with the affection of Christ Jesus.  God can also be your witness of your thoughts and intentions of your heart.  When you are separated from a loved one, such as a wife or a child, He can help convince your loved one on how much you miss them and long for their company when you are separated from them.
 
Now when you think about God is witness, then you have to remember He knows everything, just as the Psalmist says:   O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. (Psalms 139:1-3 NASB).  There is NOTHING that God does not know.  There is no where we could ever hide from God: Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there (Psalms 139:6-8 NASB).
 
So because God knows all and sees all and knows the very thoughts and motives of our heart, we need to be very careful what we think about and desire.  All of us have bad thoughts from time to time.  And what we do with our bad thoughts make all the difference in the world.  If we harbor bad thoughts and ideas, His Spirit in us convicts of our sin.  We need to confess our bad thoughts and forsake them.  How?  By asking the Lord to take our thoughts away.  We can pray a prayer: “Lord, please change my thoughts.  I know they are wrong.  Help me Lord to think on things above not on things that are of this world.  Please, change my thoughts, Lord.”  And guess what?  He can and will change them.  But just don’t be surprised when some unusual emergency just happens when you are praying…. Because sometimes He works fast… To make your mind “think on these OTHER things.”
 
There is a second aspect of this VOTD that I want us to think about and that is the phrase that says: affection of Christ Jesus.  Did you know that when you became a Christian, a Christ-obedient-follower, He infected you?  Not in a bad way but in a good way.  He came into your life and He is now a part of you.  He lives in you.  Here are two verses that Jesus tell us of that very fact: I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me (John 17:23 NASB).  and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:26 NASB).  With Jesus living in and through us, we have the same attributes that He does.  And one of the main attributes is the attribute of love.  And that is what Paul is talking about when he says he has the affection of Christ Jesus. 
 
My friend, if Jesus Christ is your Savior and Lord, then you have the same affection of Christ Jesus that Paul had.  You can love the lovely and the unlovely.  Why?  Because Christ lives in and through you.  All we need to do is yield to His Spirit in us and we can love the unlovely.  We can show mercy to those who need mercy.  We can help those who need help.  How?  By surrendering our spirits to His Spirit.  When we think we can’t then we need to call on Him and confess our true feelings to Him.  Then we need to ask Him to love the unlovely through us.  We need to ask Him to make us the men and women of Christ that we need to be.  We need to allow Him to live and give as only He can do through us.  Question is: Will we let Him love the unlovely through us?
 
Lord, I am always amazed that you can love the unlovely.  Even when you were on this earth, and the Jews were trying to crucify you, you still loved them.  Lord, your love is amazing.  It is wonderful.  And it is what I need in my life.  Lord, I need to be filled with your love.  I need to be saturated with your love.  I want to walk, talk and live in your love.  Lord, by your love and grace please make me the man that I should be so that you can use me to do your good will and purpose.  Lord, I love you.
 
Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard


5 June 2016 Verse of the Day

Philippians 1:7 NASB  For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me.
 
In this verse, Paul is giving the reasons why he said what he said in the previous verses.  He wants them to know why he fells the way he does so he says: For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all.  So let’s look at how he feels about the Christians at Philippi.
 
First, he says: I thank my God in all my remembrance of you (Philippians 1:3 NASB).  In other words, he doesn’t have any bad memories about them and their love and devotion to Christ but only good memories.  And because he only has good memories about them, he can go on to say: always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all (Philippians 1:4 NASB).  Paul’s heart and mind was filled with joy when he thought about them.  Paul had struggled for so long and so hard before he reached Philippi that it was pure joy to him when the people of Philippi turned to Jesus and dedicated their lives to living risen savior.  There was no doubt in Paul’s mind that the men and women of Philippi loved Jesus so he could go on to say: For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6 NASB).  Paul knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that the Lord Jesus Christ was going to be living and working through the people who were the baptized believers in Philippi.
 
Now then, because Paul knew that Christ was in them, he could go on to say because I have you in my heart.  In other words, they loved Jesus and Jesus loved them.  Therefore, Paul had them in his heart.  He loved them like his own family.  Because in fact they were his family.  They were his brothers and sisters in Christ and they were living for Christ.  They were dedicated to doing Christ’s will and they wanted to please the Lord in all things.  That is the heart of the gospel.  When you have Christ not just in your mind but in your heart then you are in a right relationship with Him.  How many, many people have testified: I just didn’t really start living for Christ until…. And then they go on to explain how they came under conviction that they needed a closer walk with Christ.  In other words, they needed to have Christ in their heart, not just their mind.  Which brings up a question: Where is Christ in your life?  Is He just in your mind…. Something that you did in the past?  Or is He in your heart?  Do you want to live for Him moment by moment?  Do you want Him involved in every detail of your life?
 
So Paul goes on to tell why he had them in his heart: since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.  What is Paul saying?  He is saying that the true Christians in Philippi, stood with Paul in the good times and in the bad times.  The bad times are in my imprisonment.  But the good times are in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.  In other words, Paul stood his ground and defended the gospel, the good news: For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4 NASB).  But the best news was the confirmation of the gospel.  How was the gospel confirmed?  It was confirmed when the people of Philippi got saved and dedicated their lives to Christ.  It was confirmed when they wanted to be baptized.  It was confirmed when they started living for Jesus by turning away from sin and started doing good deeds.  I am sure that Paul saw in Philippi some of the same things that was happening in the early church in Acts: and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart (Acts 2:45-46 NASB).  The confirmation of the gospel comes when you see the changed lives from the people getting saved by the good news.
 
Which brings me to the bottom line: What about you my friend?  Has your life changed since you came to know Christ?  Has your speech changed or do you still have a potty mouth?  What about your time?  Are you selfish with your time in that you want to do what you want to do in your off time regardless of what is happening at church?  Let me look at your checkbook and I will be able to tell how much you love Jesus.  “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Luke 12:34 NASB).  What about your prayer life?  Is it non-existent or is it an important part of your day, every day?  Lastly, let me bring it close to home: When is the last time you read your Bible just because you wanted to get to know the Lord Jesus Christ better.  You wanted to be closer to Him.  You wanted to be more obedient to Him.  If you can’t remember, then the truth of the matter is that you don’t love the Lord with your heart…. You just love Him with your mind and my friend that is a sad testimony: AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH (Mark 12:30 NASB).
 
If you love the Lord like the Philippian Christians, then I can say the same thing that Paul says to them: you all are partakers of grace with me.  Because you recognize that you are saved by grace and you are kept by the grace of God also: For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God  (Ephesians 2:8 NASB).  When you are partakers of grace then you are living and being kept by that grace that only God can give to His children.  Grace, grace, it is all of grace.  Unless we have His grace in our lives every day, these verses describe us:  As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes (Romans 3:10-18 KJV).
 
Lord, please forgive me for so many, many years I was one who was never seeking you.  I was one who was going my own way.  But by your grace, you drew me and convicted me of my sin.  Lord, I am so grateful.  I only have you to thank.  And the only way I can truly thank you is to say: Here am I Lord, use me, mold me and make me into the man that you want me to be.  Lord, I choose you because you chose me.  Lord, I love you and I give myself to you. 
 
Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard


4 June 2016 Verse of the Day

Philippians 1:6 NASB  For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
 
This verse is one of the strongest verses in the New Testament supporting the eternal security of the believer.  God does not fail and He does not quit.  When He starts a good work in you He won’t stop working in you until the day of Christ Jesus.  His work in you is not based on your whims and wishes or your good or bad behavior but on His plan that He has for you: ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11 NASB).  Man’s religion is based on what man can do for God.  God’s salvation is based on what God can do for man.
 
Now this verse breaks down into three parts: 1. For I am confident of this very thing.  2.  that He who began a good work in you.  3.  will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
 
1.  For I am confident of this very thing. Paul’s confidence was not in man but his confidence was in God. When did God start His good work in you?  The moment you were born-again, the moment you were born-from-above, the moment the Spirit-of-truth came to live in you to guide you and direct you.  Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come (2 Corinthians 5:17 NASB).  “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ (John 3:6-7 NASB).
 
Why was Paul confident that God was going to continue?  Because He knew what God could do from personal experience.  He knew what God has promised to do.  And because He knew that … nothing will be impossible with God (Luke 1:37 NASB).  What you and I forget is that there is nothing impossible with God and that means just what it says: NOTHING.  We are limited by time, space and ability but God isn’t.  He can make things happen that we never thought possible.  He can do things we have not even imagined.  He can create things out of nothing.  Paul knew these things.  How did he know?  Because he had seen them in his own life.  Do you remember Paul’s conversion?  Do you remember what he was like before he met Christ on the Damascus road? Here is Paul before his conversion experience: Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest (Acts 9:1 NASB).  You talk about someone who is AGAINST Christ… Paul was the epitome of hating the Lord.  But what was Paul like after being born-again?  Here he is: and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” (Acts 9:20 NASB).  Now I ask you, if God can change Paul from a Christ hating to a Christ loving person in the twinkling of an eye, is there anything too difficult for the Lord?   Paul’s confidence was based on personal experience and what he knew that God could do in a person’s life.
 
2.  that He who began a good work in you. Do you know what our problem is when we begin a good work?  Our problem is that we either loose interest because it is too difficult or we run out of materials or we just don’t have the time to put into the good work we are doing.  We might start off all gung-ho to get our good work done but because of the difficulty and the amount of the time to study and think and do, we soon lose interest.  Let me give you an example:  I have never baked a cake and let’s say that I got this hair-brained idea to bake a birthday cake for my wife.  I might be all thrilled in the beginning but after I got out the cookbook and saw all the ingredients, the preparation and the things I had to do…. I quickly lost interest due to the complexity of the good work that I intended to do.  But God is not like us.  He actually started His plan for a good work in you before the foundation of the world: just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love (Ephesians 1:4 NASB).  Since He has been planning before the foundation of the world and now He is executing His plan in you, it means He will never stop no matter what: And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? (Romans 8:28-31 NASB).
 
3.  will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. There is a saying out there that goes like this: Be patient with me, God is not through with me yet.  What does this mean?  It means that you are a work in progress.  You are not complete.  You are still being transformed into the image of Christ.  But how does God transform us?  Here it is: And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2 NASB).  God is in the transformation business.  He says to each of us: Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5 KJV).  God is transforming your mind and heart into the person He wants you to be.  He will perfect (perform) it until the day of Christ Jesus.  No if, butts or doubts.  He will do it.
 
So what can we learn from today’s VOTD?  Here it is, my friend.  Your circumstances are not too difficult for God.  Your situation is not too unusual for God.  Your problems are not too big or too complex for God.  He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.  The only thing you need to do is BELIEVE in Him.  Trust in Him.  Follow His leadership.  Allow Him to rule and reign in your life and then you will see this verse come true: … “THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.” (1 Corinthians 2:9 NASB).
 
Lord, please forgive me for my lack of faith in believing that all things are possible with you.  Lord, I know that you have plans for me and that all I need to do is be submissive to your will, your way and your power.  Lord, please help me to be all that you want me to be and to simply trust you.  Lord, I love you.
 
Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard


3 June 2016 Verse of the Day

Philippians 1:5 NASB  in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now.
 
We have mentioned in the past that Paul was very thankful for the Christians at Philippi.  He was thankful to God for guiding and directing him there.  And he was thankful for them every time he remembered them: I thank my God in all my remembrance of you (Philippians 1:3 NASB).   He was thankful for their generosity toward him.  He was thankful for their prayers for him.  And today we come to one of the main reasons why Paul was thankful for his remembrance of them.  He was thankful for their participation in the gospel from the first day until now.
 
Now I want you to understand what this statement means: participation in the gospel.  First let’s look at what the word participation means.  Webster’s says: The state of sharing in common with others; as a participation of joys or sorrows.  The act or state of receiving or having part of something.  When you participate in something or some project, you become a part of it.  You put yourself into the project.  You give your blood, sweat and tears to the project.  Let me give you an example: Let’s say a friend of yours is digging a hole in the ground for a post he is putting up for a fence line and invites you to participate because he needs help to dig lots of holes.  Then you have to make a decision, will I help or won’t I help him.  You can see it will be a lot of work and that it will take lots of energy.  You will be hot and thirsty and sweating.  It will take hours to complete and lots and lots of calories to finish the project.  But you can see the need why he needs help and why it needs to be done.  Question is: How much of a friend is he?  Are you willing to give of yourself in time, energy, blood, sweat and maybe even tears to help out your friend?  If you decide to help your friend, then you become a participant.
 
Now let’s update this example to a more realistic example for our church.  Let’s say the pastor has a burden placed on his heart by God to do a special outreach project like a clothing drive or a food give-away or some other special project.  Can he do it alone?  NO!  Why not?  Because the project is too big for just one man.  He needs help.  So being led of God, he puts out the call for help.  He needs people to help.  He needs people to participate.  Now, I ask you, have you been trained in how to participate?  Yes, you have been trained since a little child on how to participate.  Only it was not called participation back in my day.  It was called doing my chores.  I was given tasks to do: clean my room, take out the trash, and etc.  But I knew when to do them and how to do them because I was told how to do each particular task.  And if I didn’t do them, I was punished.
 
Now my friend, when the pastor puts out the call, you have a choice: Are you going to participate or are you not going to participate.  The decision is entirely up to you.  How do you make your choice?  For me there is only one way.  I have to pray and ask the Lord for His guidance.  He knows my schedule.  He knows my skills.  He knows the plans that He has for me.  ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. ‘Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you (Jeremiah 29:11-12 NASB). 
 
You remember, if I didn’t do my chores, I got punished.  Well God is not like that.  God is not going to punish you or me openly for not participating in the project that the pastor has made a call for.  But He will allow me to miss the blessings that He gives to those who choose to participate.  You ask me how does He bless those who choose to participate?  He blesses in ways you cannot even imagine.  Maybe it is a smile from a needy person.  Maybe it is a word from a hungry child.  Maybe it is a feeling of doing good to those who are in need.  I can’t tell you all the ways He will bless you.  All I can say is that I KNOW He will bless you.
 
Paul was thankful to the Philippian Christians for their participation in the gospel from the first day until now.  Do you want to know what that statement means?  It means that they were “helpers in the projects of outreach” that Paul had for the church at Philippi.  They were participating in Paul’s outreach projects.  Now I want to ask you a very serious question: What is your pastor thankful for YOU about?  Have you been participating in the gospel when he makes a call for help when God lays on his heart a project?  Are you a helper or just a freeloader?  Are you a worker, a giver, a participant or just an attender at church?  Are you participating in some way, in whatever way you can, to help in the gospel from the first day until now?  If there was a chart on the wall of all the projects that the pastor has done at the church and it had all the church members’ names on the chart, how many check marks for participation would be next to your name?
 
Here is the bottom line for our VOTD: Can your pastor say these words about you: I am thankful for your participation in the gospel from the first day until now.
 
Lord, please forgive me for I know I am not all that I should be.  Lord, I don’t participate enough.  I am not giving enough.  I need to change.  Lord, please help me to change so that my pastor can say those blessed words about me.  Lord, I love you and I want to be the man you want me to be.  Lord, fill me, mold me and help me to yield my spirit to your Spirit so that I can do what you want me to do this day.  Lord, I love you.
 
Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard


2 June 2016 Verse of the Day

Philippians 1:4 NASB  always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all,
 
Yesterday, we looked at Paul’s remembrance of the Christians at Philippi: I thank my God in all my remembrance of you (Philippians 1:3 NASB).  Today, we look at what Paul always did for the Christians at Philippi: always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all (Philippians 1:4 NASB).  I want us to look at this verse in three different areas: 1. Our prayer is an offering.  2.  Our prayer is an expression: Joy.  3.  Our prayer is for people: for you all.
 
1. Our prayer is an offering. What is an offering? Webster’s says an offering is: That which is presented in divine service; an animal or a portion of bread or corn, or of gold and silver, or other valuable articles, presented to God as an atonement for sin, or as a return of thanks for his favors, or for other religious purpose; a sacrifice; an oblation.  Have you ever thought of your prayers as an offering to God?  I know that I haven’t.  My prayers are something that I do because I love Him and I worship Him.  I have never thought of them as a sacrifice or an oblation.  So how should we think of our prayers?  How about a form of thanks for his favors.  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful (Colossians 3:15 NASB). 
 
Yes, I believe our offering should be an offering of praise and thankfulness to the God who called us and saved us from an eternity in a devil’s hell full of torment and pain.  We should be just like the Samaritan who returned to give thanks to the Lord: and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan (Luke 17:16 NASB).  We should be doing as this verse says: always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father (Ephesians 5:20 NASB).  I pray that this verse says how your heart feels about your offerings to the God who saved you: They sang, praising and giving thanks to the LORD, saying, “For He is good, for His lovingkindness is upon Israel forever.” And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the LORD because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid (Ezra 3:11 NASB).
 
2.  Our prayer is an expression: Joy. Our prayers should reflect the joy that God is in control and that He is doing all things after the council of His own will.  That will is the very best for us and we simply have to trust Him because in the end we will experience the victory and be able to express our overflowing joy that He has done all things well.  I can not express it any better than this Psalm of joy:   Shout joyfully to God, all the earth; Sing the glory of His name; Make His praise glorious. Say to God, “How awesome are Your works! Because of the greatness of Your power Your enemies will give feigned obedience to You. “All the earth will worship You, And will sing praises to You; They will sing praises to Your name.” Selah. Come and see the works of God, Who is awesome in His deeds toward the sons of men. He turned the sea into dry land; They passed through the river on foot; There let us rejoice in Him! He rules by His might forever; His eyes keep watch on the nations; Let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah. Bless our God, O peoples, And sound His praise abroad, Who keeps us in life And does not allow our feet to slip. For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid an oppressive burden upon our loins. You made men ride over our heads; We went through fire and through water, Yet You brought us out into a place of abundance. I shall come into Your house with burnt offerings; I shall pay You my vows, Which my lips uttered And my mouth spoke when I was in distress. I shall offer to You burnt offerings of fat beasts, With the smoke of rams; I shall make an offering of bulls with male goats. Selah. Come and hear, all who fear God, And I will tell of what He has done for my soul. I cried to Him with my mouth, And He was extolled with my tongue. If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear; But certainly God has heard; He has given heed to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, Who has not turned away my prayer Nor His lovingkindness from me (Psalms 66:1-20 NASB).
 
3.  Our prayer is for people: for you all. Our prayers should not be selfish, all about our wants and our desires.  Our prayers should be for others and their needs and desires.  I want you to notice what Paul says about his prayers: my every prayer for you all.  I believe that Paul was setting a role model for us in his every prayer for you all.  And this is not the only time that he mentioned praying for others: With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints (Ephesians 6:18 NASB).  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 (1 Timothy 2:1-2 NASB).  Here is an excellent verse that gives us the motivation and the reason that we need to pray for one another: Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much (James 5:16 NASB).
 
I have left out one little word on our VOTD.  I admit that I did it because I wanted to impress on your heart and mind how Paul thought about his prayers.  He says at the beginning of the verse that his prayers are “always.”  Always what you might be asking yourself.  I want you to see, know and understand that Paul’s prayers were always prayers of sacrifice (praise, worship and thanksgiving), and always full of joy and they were always prayers for you all.  Question is: What are your prayers about?  Are they always about your wants, your desires and your hopes and dreams?  My friend, I challenge you to start praying differently; Start praying this way: Worship and adore Him.  Thank Him and praise Him.  Then pray for others and their needs, wants and desires.  Lastly, pray that God might burden your heart on what you should pray for in your own little world.
 
Lord, please help me to not be selfish and self-centered.  Lord, I want to be a grateful Christian that thinks and prays in the correct manner.  Lord, help me to think and pray properly.  Help me to always praise you and express the joy that is my heart for your goodness and mercy to me.  Lord help me to put others first not only in my prayer life but in my thoughts and actions.  Lord, I want to please you in all that I say and do.  Lord, I love you.
 
Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard



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