Weekly Devotional – Surrendering Our Will

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This is a depiction of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.

It’s a picture of complete surrender.

The surrendering of our will to our heavenly Father’s can be agonizing at times. That’s what I love about this image. Jesus didn’t make it look easy. In fact, Scripture tells us He experienced such anguish in the garden, such overwhelming sorrow, that His sweat became like drops of blood.

Jesus threw Himself before God and prayed, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from me” (Mark 14:36a). Of course, the cup He was referring to was the cross. Immense suffering lay ahead of Jesus—He would be arrested, beaten, mocked, rejected, and eventually nailed to a cross like a common criminal. He pleaded with His Father, the sovereign ruler of the universe, to remove the cup from Him. God could do it. Nothing is impossible for Him.

But He didn’t.

Isn’t this the same frustration we face? We know that in an instant God can give us exactly what we want. He can make the sickness go away. He can give us the child we desire. He can fix our marriage. He can end our singleness. He can save our family member. He can restore our broken relationships. Nothing is impossible for Him.

But He doesn’t always give us what we want.

Thankfully, that’s not the end of the story. Jesus’ prayer didn’t end with His asking God to take the cup from Him. It ended with complete surrender to the will of a good Father: “Nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36b). Jesus went to the cross because He knew His suffering had great purpose—namely, life for us—and He trusted the Father to fulfill that purpose.

So what do we do when God doesn’t give us what we want? We do what Jesus did. We surrender our will to the will of our all-knowing, loving, gracious Father—who withholds no good thing from us—and rest in the knowledge that out of our dying to self will come life and life more abundantly.

Emily Ellis is publishing team leader, Adult Ministry Magazines and Devotionals. Originally posted on LifeWay’s LifeLines blog.

Interview with Dr. Darrell Bock Concerning Truth Matters

Post by Selma Wilson, president of B&H Publishing Group, and originally posted on her blog.

I am very excited to share a Q&A with Dr. Darrell Bock, author of the new release, Truth Matters. This book supplies its audience with well-reasoned responses to their often honest questions or to the objections they read or hear. Those questions may come from professors, friends, or their own personal reflections. It’s an enriching lifesaver for curious young minds and hearts everywhere.

9781433682261_cvr_webQ: First, what was the motivation behind the book, Truth Matters?

A: I wrote the book to myself. What I mean by that is when I was in college, I was an agnostic. I didn’t believe. I had a lot of questions and a lot of skepticism about the Bible. I knew what it was to have those questions, and to think that way. And I’ve come in my time in ministry to know what I think the answers to those questions are. So in a very real way, this book is written to me, or someone who would have been my roommate, who was a Christian and didn’t know the answers. I roomed with a Southern Baptist and I had all these questions and he really didn’t have a clue how to answer them. The quality of his life spoke to me just as much as some of the answers he was trying to tell me. On the flipside, I thought that if he had been better equipped it would have been nice. So this book is written to me and my roommate at the time.

Q: So you had all these questions, where did you start finding your answers?

A: The first thing I saw was the quality of life that people had, they lived differently. They viewed the world differently, and that got my attention. Then having gotten my attention that way, I began to pay more serious attention to the answers they had provided. Tone came first, truth came second.

Q: Who’s your target audience?

A: Everybody: the college student who heads off who has questions; the person who has more questions about the Bible; the roommate who lives with the person who has questions; the parents who don’t know how to answer the questions. It’s really written for anybody, and in my view it’s really the rest of the story. It’s often what you don’t hear the culture saying about Christianity that the culture should be aware of.

Q: Why do you think it’s important for students to have a resource like this before they set off for college?

A: They’re going to hear a lot of things about Christianity when they’re on the college campuses. If they’ve grown up in the church, especially the conservative church, most of what they hear will be news to them. And in some cases, it could be unsettling news. So, knowing what they’re hearing isn’t the only angle on what they’re hearing is very, very important.

Q: Anything else that you really want readers to know?

A: Here’s what I think is somewhat distinctive about the book: We are not claiming—as often previous apologetics types of books do—that we can prove to a 100 percent degree everything that we’re talking about. We are trying to say that what happens in the conversation with the culture is you’re trying to get them to discover the plausibility, probability, and likelihood to be open to what it is the church has to say to the culture. And we think there are good reasons for having that openness. I don’t think anyone can put a 100 percent fail-safe proof on it, no one can do that. If someone could do that, we wouldn’t need to have faith.

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Thank you, Dr. Bock, for sharing your insight on such an important issue today!

Blessings,

Selma

Guest Post – Our Father in Heaven

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-Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV) 

Please note: The views & opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & views of LifeWay Christian Resources.

This passage starts with what is commonly known as the Lord’s Prayer. It is an excellent prayer model. Yes, it is also an excellent prayer, worthy to recite as Jesus rendered it. However, this passage is also a model to follow. It is a blueprint to prayer and is something we can pattern our prayer life after.

Since this is a prayer model, we should strive to understand as much about each word and each phrase that we can. If we want to translate this prayer into our daily lives, then we must reach a deepened understanding of what is being communicated.

Our

This word shows the collectivity of a group. It lets us know that Jesus was not condemning corporate prayer earlier in his teaching (see Matt. 6:5-6). However, this also shows that God is my God, and my brother’s God, and Billy Graham’s God and the apostle Paul’s God. While we may think God may hear someone else’s prayers better than our own, we all have equal access to our God.

Father

As twenty-first century Christians, we readily understand the Fatherhood of our God. However, this was a head turner when Jesus taught his disciples. Jewish culture customarily prayed to The Lord God instead of Father God.

The King of the Universe, who was to be approached in formality, now became the Father, a personal God within each individual’s grasp. God wanted to have intimacy with each disciple, and wants to have intimacy with each of us. We all have equal personal access to our relational God.

In Heaven

This phrase sparked something in the minds of the disciples that we may miss as modern day Christians. We have briefly discussed cross-references and their importance in Jewish teaching. The disciples may have heard this verse enter their minds upon hearing the phrase, “in heaven”:

Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. Why do the nations say, “Where is their God?” Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him. – Psalm 115:1-3 (NIV)

Pagans would attempt to invoke certain actions from their gods by observing various rituals and praying specific prayers. This is why Jesus was teaching his disciples to choose their words in prayer. In addition, he was also teaching that the Father intimately knows each and everyone’s needs even before they ask; unlike the pagan gods (see Matt. 6:7-8).

The Lord God cannot be influenced as the pagan gods. He chooses what He wants, and acts when He desires to act. This unlimited power contained in the God of Israel is not reserved for humans to manipulate.

In conclusion, Jesus invited the disciples to a personal relationship with the unlimited power of the universe found in The Lord God of Israel. We should know we all have equal personal access to the all-powerful God.

In our prayers, we are to remember that God desires a close relationship with us. We are also to remember that he is going to do what He sees fit. Therefore, if our prayers are not answered in the way we would like, we should rest knowing that God is in control.

How do you follow the Lord’s prayer as a prayer model? Share with us!

This post was part of a complete series of posts teaching parts of The Lord’s Prayer. You can find the other posts below:

  1. Hallowed Be Your Name
  2. Your Kingdom Come. Your Will Be Done.
  3. Give Us Our Daily Bread. Forgive Us Our Sins.
  4. Lead Us Not Into Temptation. Deliver Us From Evil.

bradandresBrad Andres is a licensed minister. He is the author of The Scripture Reader’s Manifesto and a regular contributor to Prayers-For-Special-Help.com. His passion is to help people understand the Bible and maximize their God given potential for life. To hear more of Brad’s thoughts, check out his website at BradAndres.com, find him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, or circle him on Google+.

 

Learn More About One of America’s Best Bible Teachers

getzPlease note: The views & opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & views of LifeWay Christian Resources.

When I entered Moody Bible Institute at age 18, I took a test to check my ability to write. And I flunked! You see, I had a hard time with the King’s English. My dad always said things like “I was” and “We done it!” His English was bad and his German was worse. So, I developed some bad habits.

I’m thankful, though. I had to take remedial English, and I’m indebted to a professor who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.

At that point in my life, becoming an author was the farthest thing from my mind. But then an opportunity opened up while I was in graduate school at Wheaton College. I was invited to teach one course at Moody Bible Institute in media. I couldn’t find a textbook  so I wrote one – and thanks to Moody Press – they published it!

This was the beginning. I shifted to biblical and theological works while teaching at Dallas Theological Seminary. I began with a book entitled Sharpening the Focus of the Church, a book I never planned to write. It emerged from a challenging discussion I was having with my students regarding the institutional church in the late ’60s and early ’70s.

This book led to my church planting ministry beginning in 1972. It was then my publishing career expanded quickly. For example, my Men of Character series published by Broadman & Holman (B&H) resulted from a series of messages on Abraham, Joseph, David, etc.

I wrote these chapters in these books for a reading audience, and then adapted them for sermons. This kept me on track in terms of a writing schedule. In essence, when i finished a series of messages, I basically had a book ready to go, thanks to my publishers!

So, this young high school graduate off the farm in Indiana back in the early ’50s is indeed thankful for my remedial course and composition, and a professor who believe in me. He’s now in heaven, and someday when the rewards are given out of the judgment seat of Christ, I’ll sincerely rejoice if he gets those rewards for what effect my books may have had!

Thanks also to the good people at B&H who invited and challenged me to do the Life Essentials Study Bible. This has been an unexpected blessing.

Dr. Gene Getz, host and teacher of Renewal Radio, is the Chairman Emeritus for CCBT and has been a senior pastor, professor, and author of more than 60 books.

Getz has been a church-planting pastor in the Dallas Metroplex since 1972 and has served as an adjunct professor at Dallas Theological Seminary. He also serves as President of the Center for Church Renewal and serves as Pastor Emeritus of Chase Oaks Church (formerly Fellowship Bible Church North) in Plano, Texas. Getz is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and holds a bachelor’s degree from Rocky Mountain College, a master’s degree from Wheaton College, and a doctorate from New York University.

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Don’t miss out on our sale on a few new WORDsearch release by Getz and the Life Essentials Study Bible here.

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Community Service

source: pinterest

source: pinterest

Dr. King once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?‘” No matter how you choose to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this year, this day and every day you can choose to reach out and help someone.

All over the country, there are events and volunteer opportunities happening today to celebrate the spirit of Dr. King.

In Atlanta, the birthplace of Dr. King, The Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Commemorative Service is being held at the Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Boston University, where Dr. King earned his Ph.D., is holding the Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration at the George Sherman Union. The event is free and open to the public.

The National Civil Rights Museum, which is located at the former Lorraine Motel, the site of Dr. King’s assassination, is hosting its annual King Day Celebration. This year the theme is “Love, Peace and Freedom.”

The National Park Service is waving entrance fees today to commemorate the holiday.

You can also go visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C. southwest of the National Mall.

Not near any of these places? The PBS website currently has a special section dedicated to the legacy of Dr. King featuring a collection of videos and features designed to educate people on Dr. King’s life and work.

It is easy to see that the one of the main themes of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is community service. The U.S. government even has a special site, United We Serve, dedicated to helping people find opportunities to serve their community and those around them. Check out this site to see if you can lend a helping hand to a project around your area.

Geri Bogue is an e-book Developer at WORDsearch. When she’s not at the office, she enjoys spending time with her husband Clint, her daughter Addison and her min pin Daisy.

Guest Post – Does Seventy-Seven Times Equal 490?

77Understanding cross-references is important for the preacher and teacher. Cross-references often add life, meaning and depth to a passage of Scripture.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” - Matt 18:21-22 NIV

The common footnote in this verse explains “seventy-seven times” as “seventy times seven.” Most of us realize that seventy times seven (490) is much larger than seventy-seven (77). However, are we missing the point of what Jesus was saying?

A common method of rabbinical communication during Jesus’ time was cross-referencing. Specifically, when Rabbis would mention even a couple words from a verse of Scripture, it would bring to mind ideas, emotions and teachings associated with the verse from which it was mentioned.

In our example, “seventy-seven times” is a quote back to Genesis:

Lamech said to his wives, 

‘Adah and Zillah, listen to me; wives of Lamech, hear my words. I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me. If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times. - Genesis 4:23-24 NIV

Lamech was a descendant of Cain, the murderer of his brother Abel. Earlier in Genesis 4, the story of Cain killing his brother in a fit of jealousy and rage is recounted. Immediately following the retelling is this quote from Lamech on avenging seventy-seven times.

The hearers of Jesus’ teaching this day would have known this Scripture reference. They would have had a mental picture of Cain and Lamech, and their thirst for out of control vengeance. Their hunger for over the top payback would have been in their thinking while listening to Jesus.

Also, the number seven throughout Genesis and Scripture symbolized completeness, finality. Lamech’s intention is this: If someone broke his arm, he would snap their neck. He was eager to pay back double, or triple. He would go one up or further on any offense committed towards him.

Now here’s the punch line of Jesus’ teaching: We should be as eager to forgive far beyond any offense towards us as Lamech was eager to repay any offense towards him. Our forgiveness should be far above the sin, just as Lamech’s revenge was far above the offense. We should unleash forgiveness as Lamech unleashed vengeance. 

This whole forgiveness teaching doesn’t focus on the amount of forgiveness. The main point is our inner drive to forgive. The invisible heart of ours that we are often so reluctant to face is the focus. Our desires should be to forgive without restraint. Then we are forgiving as Jesus’ taught. 

Who knew that forgiving seventy-seven times meant much more than forgiving as often as you can?

Please God, help me to change. Help my desires to match your Word. Help me to want to forgive in an uncontrolled and unrestrained fashion. Thank you.

What cross-references have you discovered that gave you further insight into a passage of Scripture?

bradandresBrad Andres is a licensed minister with the Assemblies of God. He is the author of The Scripture Reader’s Manifesto and a regular contributor to Prayers-For-Special-Help.com. His passion is to help people understand the Bible and maximize their God given potential for life. To hear more of Brad’s thoughts, check out his website at BradAndres.com, find him on Facebook, follow him onTwitter, or circle him on Google+.