Friday, July 29, 2016

1 Thessalonians 5: 4-6

1 Thessalonians 5: 4-6

You, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. 

Pure Father of Light,
I stand in awe and amazement when I think of who You are, and who I am. That the God of the Galaxies would love and care about me enough to bring me out of the dreadful darkness into the remarkable light is incomprehensible. You are the Master of Time and Space. On that earth-shattering Day when Christ abruptly arrives on the clouds to carry away His Bride, the Church, You will be both the Superior Judge and the Righteous Criterion.

The wake up call has been ringing. Having waited for 20 centuries for Your promised appearance, and been aroused by many false alarms throughout the ages, it's easy to see why people have become cynical and apathetic. Admittedly, it's tempting to hit the snooze and fall back to sleep. By Your great Spirit, help me stay awake and alert. 

Instead of leisurely lying around in my soft pajamas, in Your strength I will get up and put on the mighty under armor of faith and love to guard my heart from the seductive arrows of Satan. Crowned with the blessed hope of my salvation, I will have peace of mind knowing that dead or alive, one day possibly quite soon, I am going to see the Christ the risen King. Until then, I long to be so in love with You that when You come You will find me willingly working, witnessing, worshipping, and worthy of Your high calling. Amen.

Consider yourself warned. Christ is coming. While we do not know the times and dates, we can know with confidence that His arrival will be sudden and surprising. If He were to return today or tomorrow, would you be ready to meet Him?

Warren Wiersbe writes, in his book, Be Ready: Living in the Light of Christ's Return, "There is a difference between being ready to go to heaven and being ready to meet the Lord. Anyone who has sincerely trusted Christ for salvation is ready to go to heaven. Christ's sacrifice on the cross has taken care of that. But to be ready to meet the Lord at the Judgment Seat of Christ is quite another matter."

Jesus said, "Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed." Revelation 16:15

Thursday, July 28, 2016

1 Thessalonians 4: 15-17

1 Thessalonians 4: 15-17
According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

Blessed Father,
Thank You for recording these incredible revelations from the apostle Paul to give me remarkable hope! Because you could return any day, I am urged to be watchful, waiting and ready. At the blink of an eye You could whisk in and carry me away.

Your authoritative words give me extraordinary comfort and assurance. On that day, when I hear Your voice boom, the loud trumpet fanfare and the unmistakable cry from an angel, there will be a remarkable reunion in the sky. I will meet You face to face, and see with my own eyes all my loved ones who fell asleep and died in Your strong arms, remarkably resurrected. They will not be dead, but fully and physically alive, and You will bring them back with You. What a day of rejoicing that will be. I don't have to grieve as one who doesn't have hope! With a single triumphant breath of Life, I believe death will be vanished forever!

Expecting Your imminent return from Glory, live and in person, Blessed Father, permeate my heart with confidence and purity so that I can unashamedly stand before You when Your Son, Jesus my Lord, arrives in the air to pick up the Church and carry us to our high-flying home in heaven to live with You there forever and ever. Amen.

Who do you know who has fallen asleep in the arms of Jesus? As Christians we have wonderful assurance and hope because of Jesus' resurrection and promised return. Who do are you longing to meet in the sky? 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

1 Thessalonians 4:7

1 Thessalonians 4:7
God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.

Hebrews 12:14
Without holiness no one will see the Lord.

Holy Father,
I BELIEVE You have chosen me out of all the billions of people on the planet to be Your beloved child. Seeing beyond my problems to my potential, You brought me into Your holy household, cleaned me up, clothed me in a costly robe of righteousness, and covered my imperfections and impurities with the blood of Jesus. Purified and empowered, You equipped me to stay away from the corrupt customs of my country.

With all my heart, I want my lifestyle to be as remarkable as the Thessalonians. Create in me holy desires so that I will crave Your pure Word and not the filth of the flesh. Focusing on Your promises, when Satan hurls fireballs of lust through the windows of my eyes, shoots arrows of temptation through my heart, and sets snares to trap my feet You will be honored when I bring my thoughts and body under the control of Your Spirit. Divinely empowered, I will walk in holiness undeterred by the allures of the world.

Teach me, Holy Father, who You are so that I will have the proper respect for Your authority. I desire nothing more than to listen to You and do what You ask. With my own eyes I long to see You in all Your splendor and majesty. For Your namesake, according to Your Word make me holy. Amen.

We are called to live in this corrupt culture, but not comply with it. Keep God's commands, follow His instructions, and when you obey He will make you holy, according to His Holy Word. (Leviticus 20:7

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

1 Thessalonians 3:8

1 Thessalonians 3:8
For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord.

Your Eternal Word, O Lord, stands firm forever in heaven. The horizons can't contain Your commands. By them my life was saved.

Your Word, O Lord, is my only hope in this war-torn world. When the populace is quaking and quivering, give me fearless faith to stand firm on Your promises. As I reflect on them day and night, enlighten the eyes of my heart to see the Blessed Hope to which You have called me. With my eyes laser focused on You, I will never forget:

Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, my Savior and Redeemer who joyfully endured the cross, scorning its shame, and ultimately sat down at the right hand of Your holy throne in heaven.

Because of Your rich mercy I am alive with Christ, and seated with Him in the heavenly realms where I have unlimited access to Your mighty power 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Through Him, I can handle any problem, pressure or pain that pierces my heart.

Lord, when You come on the clouds with the heavenly host, I want to be ready and waiting, standing solidly on the platform of Your promises. I can't wait for the Soul Train to come from Glory to carry me away to live with You forever in the unshakable Kingdom of Heaven. Yours is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

How is faith holding up these days? Are you laser focused on Jesus, God's Word? Will you be found waiting and ready like the Thessalonians, standing solidly on the platform of God's promises? Or will you be wondering around looking for an easier way out? God's Word is clear:

Dear children, the last hour is here. You have heard that the Antichrist is coming, and already many such antichrists have appeared. From this we know that the last hour has come. 1 John 2:18

Monday, July 25, 2016

1 Thessalonians 3:3-4

1 Thessalonians 3:3-4
But you know that we are destined for such troubles. Even while we were with you, we warned you that troubles would soon come-and they did, as you well know. NLT

My Father in Heaven,
Mighty is Your name! Why am I so surprised by the pressure and pain that pursues me? Your enduring Word warns me repeatedly to expect problems. When I signed up to follow Your Son, Jesus Christ, I should have well known there would be a price to pay. Believers everywhere are tolerating terrible trials because of Him. In fact, in view of the rest of the world, my troubles are tiny.

Many people are following in the footsteps of Your dear Son, Jesus, receiving the same harsh treatment from their countrymen that He received from the Jews. Just as prophets in the past braved abuse and whips, chains and dungeons, and were stoned and slaughtered, so are 21st century believers living under brutal regimes. Missionaries serving in cruel countries are being heckled and chased out of town by people who have made a career of opposing Christ.

Help me remember the exemplary conduct of those heroes of faith. When the heat is turned up, help me to behave in a manner worthy of Your call by standing up for what I believe in so that I will not discredit the Blessed Message of Christ. Convinced of what I believe, and confident in whom I believe, I will not shrink back or shy away from unfriendly fire. With my mind set on You, my courage will show them that they are full of hot air and up against a fearsome force. By Your strong hand, surely I will be victorious and they will be defeated.

Lord, train me in deep wisdom to understand these hard truths and harsh realities so that I will not falter or fail You when the fiery darts come my way. I long to glorify our family name. Amen.

What trouble is chasing you? Don't let it alarm you, and don't give up on God. Set your mind on Christ. Look at the heroes of faith who endured extreme hardships. If they did it, you and I can too!

Recently, I had the honor of meeting and hearing Xianzhi ''Sarah'' Liu share her story. It enlightened my mind and enlivened my heart to the horrific persecution people are facing in the world today. She was beaten and imprisoned for six years in China. Sarah's Trail of Blood is a powerful dramatization of what happened to this courageous woman of God because of her faith in Jesus Christ. You'll be inspired by her story in this short video. (January 12, 2010) Watch Sarah's Trail of Blood

Matthew 5:11-12
Jesus said, "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

2 Timothy 3:12
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

1 John 3:13
Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.

Friday, July 22, 2016

1 Thessalonians 2: 19-20

1 Thessalonians 2: 19-20
For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.

Father in Heaven,
Thank you for calling me into Your unshakable kingdom. I am impressed with Paul's remarkable joy.

After being beaten bloody and put behind bars for spreading the Word that Jesus saves, he was empowered and delighted to continue to do it.

Deeply devoted to his spiritual children, he was thrilled to live with them and work with them.

An exemplary example, He received immense pleasure comforting, encouraging, and urging them to live lives worthy of You and Your kingdom even though it was a hard life.

Watching them live out their faith and work through their troubles brought him incredible bliss.

Being with them was an intense desire of his heart because they were his pride and joy!

Help me dear Lord, by the power of Your Word, to hold unswervingly to the Blessed Hope of Heaven and fearlessly and faithfully share it with others.

When my family and friends reject me for my faith, remind me that my spiritual family is an incredible blessing. Comforting, encouraging, and urging them to live lives worthy of the Christian name is an enormous honor.

Watching them live out their faith and work through their troubles will bring me unspeakable joy. It will be a privilege to stand with them in Your presence when Jesus our Master appears in all His glory, splendor and majesty. Amen.

The crowns we wear in heaven must be won on earth. Will you receive the Soul Winners Crown for sacrificing your life to rescue people from the fiery flames of Hell? People in foreign lands are. 

After years of imprisonment and solitary confinement, enduring inhumane torture, Richard Wurmbrand (founder of Voice of the Martyrs) emerged with a powerful testimony of courageous faith. He wrote in his book Tortured for Christ, "Persecution has backfired and produced serious, dedicated Christians such as are rarely seen in free lands."  

Even today, believers are suffering and dying for Christ, yet their faith will not falter under the most unthinkable persecutions. Following is a modern day story from the Middle East recently published by Voice of the Martyrs. 

As he serves the persecuted church in the Middle East, a front-line worker is watching the gospel spread and change lives in a predominantly Muslim region.

In his own village, and among the Syrian and Iraqi refugees his church has visited, people are coming to Christ as persecuted believers live out their faith.

"We have new people in our home groups and it's an opportunity for them to hear the good news," the front-line worker said. "We have focused in our weekly service on subordination to the Lord Jesus and bearing persecution that could happen to the church. Read more ...

Thursday, July 21, 2016

1 Thessalonians 2:2

1 Thessalonians 2:2
We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition. 

O Lord, my God,
I am overwhelmed by the life-changing power, eye-opening Spirit, and deep conviction that came to me when I heard the good news about Jesus, the Christ, Your Son who died and rose to life for sinners like me. Today I think of the price people in foreign lands are paying to bring the unabashed truth to their countrymen. 

Please give me the remarkable bravery and boldness of Paul and Silas who dared to deliver the good news that Jesus saves to the Thessalonians despite the fact that they were beaten, bloodied, bruised, and thrown behind bars in the next town over.

You know that I'm prone to please people. Forgive me, O God! You are the One who tests my heart, not mortal man. You know there is a nationwide trend to water-down the Blessed Message so that it won't be publicly offensive. Lord, let me never again discredit the penalty You paid for me by speaking smooth sounding words that mask the truth. Help me to remember the price paid by Paul, Silas, Timothy, and the modern day persecuted church. Because of their fearlessness and faithfulness, I have received the Blessed Hope of Heaven.

By Your Spirit, give me a pure heart and right motives so that I will be ardent and authentic, willing to endure insults and indignity to take the gospel into the world for the glory of the Blessed Name of Jesus who suffered and bled and died for me. Amen.

According to God's own Words Christians are despised people, not popular. The trend today in the seeker-sensitive, culturally-relevant, emerging church is to mask the truth with smooth sounding words. God's promise for our faith isn't that we'll feel happy, healthy, and terrific. In fact, we'll likely feel like failures when we share the whole truth because it will not be popular, and people will reject us.

1 Thessalonians 3:4 When Paul, Silas, and Timothy were with the Thessalonians, they kept telling them that they would be persecuted. The gift of salvation is absolutely free, but it will cost you everything, and that is the point we usually leave out because it is offensive.

Be careful not to shame the gospel of Jesus Christ. Modern day martyrs are still suffering for it. I recently learned from Voice of the Martyrs about an Afghan brother who was incarcerated for giving out Bibles. While in jail, they broke his fingers and tortured him. His wife was also beaten and now has fled to another country. Meanwhile, our dear Afghan brother stood strong in his faith and actually led two fellow prisoners to freedom in Christ. Praise God for his release! Continue to pray for his recovery as he struggles with PTSD, anxiety and insomnia. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

1 Thessalonians 3:7

1 Thessalonians 3:7
So we have been greatly encouraged in the midst of our troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. (NLT)

God, my Father,
I plead with You to look kindly on me as You always do those who know and love You. Your Word is wonderful to me! The teaching of it, empowered by Your Spirit, gives light so that even the simple-minded like me can understand it.

According to Your Word, I should not be surprised by the suffering of Your saints. It is a resounding theme in the Book of Life - part of the calling You consider us worthy of. Steady my steps by Your promises so that the Tempter will not tear down the faith that has been built up in me. Rescue me from fear mongers and grant me unfaltering faith.

I long to live life Your way like the Thessalonians who made their spiritual parents proud. Show us how to make our spiritual parents beam with joy. They have and are continually enduring difficulties, dilemmas, and distress as they boldly deliver the Blessed Message of Hope in their communities. Knowing that we are standing firm with You may be a remarkable source of encouragement to them, refreshing their hearts, and inspiring them to continue living for Your unshakable Kingdom.

Clear the obstacles from our path. Pour on us Your love so it fills our lives and splashes over on everyone around us. Infuse us with strength and purity so that we will stand together confidently in Your presence on that glorious day when our Master Jesus arrives with all his faithful followers. Amen.

Faithful reader, who introduced you to Christ? Who nurtured you in faith? Have you been tempted to turn away and give up? What do you think your faithfulness means to the one(s) who brought you to Christ?

I encourage you to pick up the phone and call someone who has inspired you in faith, write them a letter or send them an email telling them how God is working in Your life. I can guarantee you it will bless their socks off, and encourage them to persevere.

A few years ago I was inspired to do this very thing. Not knowing where my spiritual Dad was after 25 years, I wrote a three page testimony of my walk with the Master. Concealing my identity, I mailed it to every man with his name in the local phone book. On the top I wrote, "This letter is intended for the former guidance counselor at my high school. If you are not that man and choose to read on, may you be richly blessed. If you are that person, you can contact me at (my email address)."

Little did I know that this precious saint was persecuted for sharing his faith in the public schools. Like Paul, that didn't stop him from continuing to preaching "Jesus saves" to students. I can only imagine how blessed he was the day he received that letter in the mail after 25 years.

A spiritual Dad and daughter were reunited, and I am sure he's beaming with joy as he reads this Prayer Pal. Had he not risked his livelihood and reputation to rescue me from the flames of Hell, I wouldn't be writing it. One day, infused with strength, we will stand together in Glory.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

1 Thessalonians 1:4-6

1 Thessalonians 1:4-6 
For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.

Lord, I BELIEVE You are the one and only true and living God! 
Thank You for choosing me out of all the people on the face of the earth to hear the good news that Jesus, Your own dear Son, left the hallowed halls of heaven, came to earth, endured temptation, trials, and torture, and died a gruesome and grisly death so that I wouldn't have to endure the punishment I deserve for my disobedience and defiance. After He was buried for three days in the damp, dark tomb, He suddenly rose to glorious new life so that I could also arise and live harmoniously with You forever.

Thank You for the person who reasoned with me from the Scriptures, explained the facts, proved the point, and proclaimed the truth until I was fully persuaded. I'm grateful for the harassment, humiliation and hardship that person bore to bring the gospel to me. The life-changing power, eye-opening Spirit, and deep conviction that overcame when I believed the whole story are remarkable.

Help me O Lord, to remove the idols from my life, turn toward You, and serve You with all my heart, mind, soul and strength. I long to be an imitator of my spiritual parent and You. By Your Spirit, help me to study my Bible earnestly so that I will be ready, in season and out, to plainly present the Scriptures even when it's not popular so that others may hear the good news, believe it, and receive the same incredible life-changing power, eye-opening Spirit, and deep conviction that were so graciously given to me.

In spite of all kinds of difficulties and dangers, help me continually do good deeds by faith, carefully labor in love, and readily endure hardships so that others will know by my lifestyle that I serve the one and only living and true God who rescues people from the dominion of darkness and death for the glory of His good name. Amen.

Since you responded to the gospel of Jesus Christ, has your life changed so that you are an exemplary example to others? The Thessalonians were known for their boldness in sharing the gospel, their work produced by faith, their labor prompted by love, and their endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. If others were to imitate your life, would the result be for their good and God's glory?

Paul walked into the synagogue in Thessalonica, and on three Sabbath days reasoned with the worshippers from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. Some of the Jews and a large number of God-fearing Gentiles, many of them women, believed. 

Paul's message wasn't popular. What happened to him wasn't pretty. The jealous Jews rounded up a mob and started a riot in the streets. They attacked Paul's friends and put them in prison. 

The Thessalonian believers saw the bold courage and exemplary behavior of Paul and his friends in the face of extreme adversity, were faithful to their commitment to Christ, and followed Paul's example after he left. 

The one and only true gospel that gives life is unpopular in America. Will you share it anyway? Does it inspire you to love your enemies radically? Paul and friends didn't fight back with angry words. They patiently endured because of the power of the Holy Spirit in them. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Revelation 22:7, 12

Revelation 22:7, 12
Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.
Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.

Host of Heavenly Honors,
Your Word is clear, You are coming soon and bringing rewards with You. There will be recognition for everyone according to what they've done through Your love. O that I will be found worthy of Your awards.

For returning to You and rekindling the romance, You'll endow me with the privilege of eating from the luscious tree of life in the Garden of Paradise.

For overcoming extreme obstacles, I will be blessed with the victorious crown of everlasting life.

For believing the truth, I can expect to receive the Bread of Life and a brand new name.

For wholeheartedly pursuing purity and peace, I'll be given the gift of divine authority, along with the bright Morning Star.

For facing death fearlessly, You promise that I will be worthy to walk with You as a winner.

For not caving into the pressure of popular opinion I will be a pillar of praise supporting Your glorious presence.

For opening the door and welcome You into my heart, You will honor me with a seat next to You at the sacred supper in the sky.

Lord, with all my heart, I want to believe and obey the Words of prophecy revealed in Your Holy Book. Please help me overcome the barriers blocking me from the fullness of Your blessing in the powerful name of Jesus who is coming soon and makes all of them possible. Blessed assurance! Amen.

Salvation is sure to anyone who admits they are a sinner, believes in their heart that Jesus is the One and Only Son of God who died on the cross and rose again, and commits their life to follow Him.  While we are saved by God's unconditional grace through faith alone, and not by our works, our works prove that our faith is real. 
It is clear that Jesus is coming and bringing rewards with Him. What adjustments do you need to make in order to obtain them?