THE TWEETED BIBLE

Text: And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him. And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils: And Simon he surnamed Peter; And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder: And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite, And Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him: and they went into an house. (Mark 3:13-19)

Tweet: Christ’s disciples are called to come to Him, chosen to be with Him, and commissioned to go for Him.

THE TWEETED BIBLE

Text: For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me. (Psalm 31:3)

Tweet: God can be trusted to guard and guide us, since, as a tenacious guardian of His own glory, He will not allow it to be tarnished by failing to deliver on His promise to defend and direct us.

Praying in the Spirit

There is no foolproof formula to be followed in prayer. The only way to effectively pray is in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18); that is, as the Spirit burdens and leads you to pray. These devotions on praying for the lost, like all human instruction on prayer, will prove to be a poor substitute for the Holy Spirit in your prayer closet.

To replace the leadership of the Holy Spirit in your prayer life with any patented formula for prayer is to rob your prayers of their potency. All who foolishly do so will end up spiritually shortchanged, as well as with a prayer life that is more frustrating than fruitful. Whether we’re talking about prayer or anything else in the Christian life, we must always remember the scriptural admonition that it cannot be successfully done in our strength, but only in the power of God’s Spirit (Zechariah 4:6).

As the following poem humorously points out, the best prayers are never prayed by rote!

THE PRAYER OF CYRUS BROWN (By: Sam Walter Foss)

“The proper way for a man to pray,”

Said Deacon Lemuel Keyes,

“And the only proper attitude

Is down upon his knees.”

 

“No, I should say the way to pray,”

Said Reverend Doctor Wise,

“Is standing straight with outstretched arms

And rapt and upturned eyes.”

 

“Oh, no, no, no,” said Elder Slow,

“Such posture is too proud.

A man should pray with eyes fast closed

And head contritely bowed.”

 

“It seems to me his hands should be

Austerely clasped in front

With both thumbs pointing toward the ground,”

Said Reverend Doctor Blunt.

 

“Well, I pray while resting every day,”

Said Mr. Henry Pack.

“So I should think you say your prayers

While lying on your back.”

 

“Last year I fell in Murphy’s well—

Head first,” said Cyrus Brown.

“With both my heels a-stickin’ up

And my head a-pointin’ down.”

 

“And I made a prayer right then and there,

The best prayer I ever said,

The prayingest prayer I ever prayed,

Was a-standing on my head.”

Psalm 51 – The Sinner’s Psalm DAY 23

Scripture Reading: “Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation…” (Psalm 51:14)

Many a sinner will find some solace in the fact that they, unlike David, are innocent of “bloodguiltiness.” Their sins may be profuse and profane, but at least they have never committed murder and shed innocent blood.

Although it may come as quite a surprise, the Scripture teaches that no sinner is innocent of “bloodguiltiness.” In fact, like Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth, the hands of all humanity are stained with innocent blood. All of us had a hand in the most despicable deed of all time, for we are all equally guilty of shedding the innocent blood of Jesus Christ upon the cross of Calvary.

It was not the treachery of Judas, the condemnation of the Sanhedrin, Pilate’s order of execution, nor the Roman soldiers that nailed Jesus to the tree. Instead, it was your sin and mine, as well as “the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). We are responsible for the death of the Son of God. It was our sins and our sins alone that nailed Him to the cross. Much to our chagrin, our faces are to be found among the bloodthirsty throng and our voices heard among the clamoring crowd that cried, “His blood be upon us and on our children” (Matthew 27:25).

Irony of ironies is found in the fact that our most notorious crime serves as the very means by which God has provided our salvation. By willingly offering Himself as the victim of our sins, Christ has provided us victory over our sins. His condemnation is the means of our justification and His death at our hands has brought into our fallen world the gift of God, which is eternal life.

 

“When I survey the wondrous cross

On which the Prince of glory died,

My richest gain I count but loss,

And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,

Save in the death of Christ my God!

All the vain things that charm me most,

I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,

Sorrow and love flow mingled down!

Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,

Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,

That were a present far too small;

Love so amazing, so divine,

Demands my soul, my life, my all.” (Isaac Watts)

TIME CAPSULE: The 13th Amendment

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

On this day in 1865, the United States House of Representatives passed the 13th Amendment to our Constitution. This historic Amendment, eventually ratified by the states and proclaimed by Secretary of State William H. Seward on December 18, 1865, abolished the institution of slavery in America. It reads, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude…shall exists within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

The 13th Amendment brought to an end what is arguably the most embarrassing chapter of American history—a time when America not only practiced the institution of slavery, but justified it with inexcusable and inhumane laws such as the Supreme Court’s 1857 Dred Scott decision. This infamous decision, which the Court has never actually overruled, denied that slaves were persons with constitutional rights, and defined them instead as the mere property of their owners.

I’m afraid that all who think of today’s America as having advanced far beyond the perpetration of such crimes against humanity are sorely mistaken, as is easily proven by the present-day atrocity of abortion. The Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision denies to the unborn, what the Dred Scott decision denied to the enslaved; namely, personhood and constitutional rights. Whereas 4 million human beings were once enslaved in this land thanks to the unconscionable apathy of its citizenry, more than 51 million have been aborted with both government sanction and populace support.

This sordid history of our nation exposes the true despot under whom we, as well as the rest of the world, continues to be subjugated and enslaved. It is, as the Bible clearly teaches, sin (Romans 6:1-23). No constitutional amendment can free us from its shackles; only Christ can liberate us from such bondage!

Until we turn to Christ, we will never be free from ourselves, our feigned righteousness and the fetters of our sin. We will continue to perpetrate and pardon ourselves for our indefensible crimes against humanity. It is only by coming to Christ that we can be “free indeed”—free from our sins and free from ourselves. Until we are saved by Christ the helpless and hapless will never be safe from us.

“And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” (2 Corinthians 5:15)

SOUTHERN BAPTIST’S DAY OF PRAYER: Renew Your Covenant with God

“This is the covenant that I will make…I will put My laws into their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people.” (Hebrews 8:10, HCSB)

The writer of Hebrews explained that Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant between God and His people. This covenant agreement is based on a love relationship. As our Lord and King, God has given us His commands to obey so we can experience life abundantly.

This is the covenant that I will make…I will put My laws into their minds

and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people  (Hebrews 8:10, HCSB).

But Jesus warned, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21, HCSB). We enter a saving covenant relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ alone, not by works of our own (see Ephesians 2:8-9). But our obedience to God’s will is one clear way we demonstrate that our love relationship with Him is genuine.

If you and your fellow church members have found that you have drifted away from your first love and from obedience to the Lord’s commands, God invites you to return to Him. Hear God’s invitation:

Let the wicked one abandon his way and the sinful one his thoughts; let him  return to the LORD, so He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for  He will freely forgive (Isaiah 55:7, HCSB).

Return to Me… and I will return to you, says the LORD of Hosts (Zechariah  1:3, HCSB).

As I described in discussing consecration in day 2, Christ is seated on His throne with open hands waiting for the sacrifice of your life.

❋ PRAY about the life of love, obedience, and holiness you will bring to Christ. Return to Him with all your heart!

Read the Scriptures and statements on page 16. Be prepared to renew your covenant commitments to the Lord when you gather in sacred assembly with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Reader 1: 1 Peter 1:13-16; 2 Peter 3:10-14; Colossians 3:1-14

People: Father, because You are holy, we have consecrated ourselves to be holy as You are holy. Through Christ we have put to death the things of our old sinful lives. We have put on the new self, and we ask You to continue to renew us and conform us to the image of Christ. We will seek to live lives that are spotless and blameless.

Reader 2: 1 John 4:19; Romans 5:8; Ezekiel 36:25-27

People: We love You, Lord Jesus Christ, because You first loved us and laid down Your life for us. We want to love You with all our hearts. We have put away the idols of our hearts. Forgive us and grant us renewed hearts of love for You.

Reader 3: 1 John 2:15-17; Matthew 6:25,32-33

People: Sovereign Lord, today we choose to put away our love for the world and the things of the world. We will seek first Your Kingdom rule in our hearts and through our lives. We will pursue Your righteousness in our lives, in our families, and in our world.

Reader 4: Malachi 3:6-10; Matthew 23:23; Matthew 6:19-21

People: O Lord, we have been greedy and selfish. We have robbed You of things rightfully Yours. Forgive us and enable our repentance. Today we choose to give to You the things that are Yours, including money, justice, mercy, and faithfulness.

Reader 5: Matthew 28:19-20; John 14:15,21,23-24

People: Because we love You, Lord, we choose this day to obey all You have commanded us. Deepen our love for You and enable our complete obedience.

Reader 6: 2 Corinthians 5:14-21; Acts 1:8

People: Christ Jesus, we are Your ambassadors, and You have entrusted to us the ministry of reconciliation. We surrender to Your calling to be Your witnesses and to plead with people to get right with You. We pledge ourselves today to be faithful to obey Your command to make disciples of all people to the ends of the earth.

SOUTHERN BAPTIST’S DAY OF PRAYER: Restore Your Broken Relationships

“I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me” (John 17:23, HCSB).

The night before Jesus went to the cross, He prayed for our unity: “I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me” (John 17:23, HCSB). Our unity is the most convincing evidence to the lost world that Jesus is the Savior sent from God. And our disunity is probably the greatest hindrance in leading others to faith in Christ. If you have broken relationships with others, you must be reconciled. Consecrate yourself and reconcile your broken relationships.

❍ On a separate sheet of paper, list the names of people with whom you   have broken relationships. This would include those you have offended   without seeking forgiveness and those who have offended you. Offenses   can occur as a result of actions, words, or attitudes. Ask God to bring to   mind all those you need to consider.

Your relationship with others has a direct correlation to your relationship with God. Jesus said:

If you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your  brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar.  First go and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your  gift (Matthew 5:23-24, HCSB).

Your offerings and even your worship are unacceptable to God if you have caused offenses and have not reconciled. If you are the offender:

1.  Pray and ask God for help in thorough repentance.

2.  Go to make things right in obedience to God.

3.  Confess your sin to God and to those directly affected by the sin.

4.  Don’t apologize. Ask for forgiveness.

5.  Go in person if at all possible. Talk face-to-face.

6.  Don’t reflect negatively on the other person or his actions or attitudes. Deal only  with your part of the offense.

7.  Make restitution (pay for the offense) when appropriate.

8.  If you don’t receive a positive response, continue to pray for and seek  reconciliation with the unforgiving person.

If you are the one who has been offended, Jesus has instructions for you also. He said, “Whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your wrongdoing” (Mark 11:25, HCSB). Holding on to unforgiveness limits the way God will forgive you and hinders your prayers. You need to understand and practice forgiveness.

1.  Forgiveness is fully releasing another from the debt of the offense.

2.  Forgiveness is a command, not an option: “Forgive whatever grievances you  may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians  3:13, NIV).

3.  You cannot forgive and love in your own strength. The Holy Spirit of Christ can  enable you to forgive and love. Ask Him for help.

4.  Forgiveness is a choice of your will, not the result of a feeling. You must choose  to forgive.

5.  The person who forgives is the one who has to pay the price of forgiveness.  Jesus paid the price for you.

6.  You are never more like Jesus than when you forgive and show grace and mercy.  Being offended provides you with the invitation to reveal Christ to the offender by  your forgiveness.

7.  Forgiveness does not mean the offense was not wrong.

8.  Forgiveness is not permission for the offender to do it again.

9.  Forgiveness does not mean you will fully forget. You choose not to hold the  offense against the person any longer. If the memories return and you start to  hold on to the offense again, forgive again.

10.   How much do you forgive? Seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22). In other  words, forgive an unlimited number of times.

11.   Jesus said, “If [your brother] sins against you seven times in a day, and comes  back to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him” (Luke 17:4,  HCSB). In other words, even if the offender really doesn’t repent and change his  ways, you still forgive.

12.   Even if the person doesn’t believe he is wrong, forgive. Jesus set the model for  us on the cross when He prayed for those who were killing Him: “Father, forgive  them” (Luke 23:34, HCSB).

13.   In Mark 11:25 Jesus didn’t require you to go to the person to forgive. You can do  that as you pray.

❋ APPLY these guidelines to the relationships you listed earlier.

❋ PRAY and ask God to guide and enable you to forgive and reconcile every broken relationship in a way that brings Him glory and brings you freedom and joy. Walk in unity.

________

1. Adapted from Claude King, Come to the Lord’s Table (Nashville: LifeWay Press, 2006), 69–73. I’ve been greatly influenced in the matters of reconciliation and forgiveness by Life Action Ministries; P.O. Box 31; Buchanan, MI 49107-0031; www.lifeaction.org.

SOUTHERN BAPTIST’S DAY OF PRAYER: Be Holy as God Is Holy

“As the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; for it is written, ‘Be holy, because I am holy’ ” (1 Peter 1:15-16, HCSB).

Peter wrote, “As the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; for it is written, ‘Be holy, because I am holy’ ” (1 Peter 1:15-16, HCSB). That’s what consecration is all about: becoming holy, clean, pure, and righteous like God. Paul said, “Those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29, HCSB). God wants you to be holy as Christ is holy. Consecrate yourself by putting away everything that is unholy or even questionable.

❍ Prayerfully read through the following list and ask God’s Holy Spirit to   convict you of any unholy or questionable activities or attitudes that need   to change. If He reveals something, agree with Him about your sin and   repent (quit doing it; change your ways).

â–¡ Put away lust and impurities of the mind.

â–¡ Put away all forms of sexual immorality.

â–¡ Put away lying, filthy language, slander, or hurtful words.

â–¡ Put away anger, rage, malice, prejudice, and racism.

â–¡ Put away sinful attitudes and behaviors that are not like Christ.

Some of these sinful patterns may seem impossible to put away. But Jesus Christ won victory over sin by His death and resurrection. You can ask God to help you live in the reality of Romans 6, which teaches that we have died to sin. We have been set free from sin and the power of sin. If you still frequently struggle with one or more sins, “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed” (James 5:16, HCSB). Ask a brother or sister in Christ to pray with you for victory over sin. Be holy as God is holy!

In Genesis 35 God invited Jacob to a time of worship. This would be a time of sacred assembly for Jacob’s family, so Jacob prepared them:

Jacob said to his family and all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods  that are among you. Purify yourselves and change your clothes. We must get up  and go to Bethel. I will build an altar there to the God who answered me in my  day of distress. …” Then they gave Jacob all their foreign gods and their  earrings, and Jacob hid them under the oak near Shechem (Genesis 35:2-5,  HCSB).

If we are not very careful, we can be influenced by the standards of the people and culture around us just as Jacob’s family had been. We may tolerate or even embrace and endorse things that are impure, unholy, profane, unclean, or even wicked and evil. Over time our homes may be filled with such impurities. Take time to consecrate your home.

❍ Bring your family together to consecrate your home. Stop and pray,   asking God to reveal to you and your family members things in your   home that represent the impurities of the world God would like for you to   get rid of. Confess to the Lord that you want to be clean and pure before   Him. Give Him permission to clean your home of impurities.

❍ Imagine Jesus is coming to your home to take a careful look in every   room. He will see the things in your closets and drawers. He will see the   music you listen to and the DVDs you watch. He will look on the shelves   at your reading literature. He will check out the refrigerator and examine   your computer files. Nothing will escape His pure gaze. Ask yourselves,   What is in our home that we would be ashamed for Jesus to see? These   are the things you need to throw away.

❍ Invite family members to clean the house of spiritual and moral impurities   that may have accumulated there. With a trash can or bag in hand, walk   through each room, cleaning as you go. In every case let God’s Holy   Spirit guide your consciences. If you have doubts or disagreement about   an item, pause and pray about it and ask the Lord what He thinks about it.

❍ After you have collected the things that need to be disposed of, respond   to God in prayer.

• Confess to the Lord that you have sinned by tolerating evils and    impurities that are not appropriate for His holy people.

• Ask Him to forgive and cleanse you.

• Ask Him to set you free from any desire to hold on to impurities. Ask    Him to change your heart in love and obedience to Him.

• Pledge to Him your renewed loyalty, love, and desire to please Him    and obey Him. Thank Him for the purity and godly character He is    bringing into your life.

❍ Dispose of the items that need to be thrown out. You may need to take   them to a dumpster, burn them, or in some other way remove the   temptation to retrieve them later. Do not sell or give away things that are   evil, unholy, or impure.

SOUTHERN BAPTIST’S DAY OF PRAYER: Humble Yourself and Put Away Pride

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:5-6, NIV)

Quoting from Proverbs, Peter wrote, “  ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:5-6, NIV). Pride is a sin that stands in opposition to God. He aggressively opposes it. Consecrate yourself and put away pride.

❍ To get an idea of God’s thoughts about pride, read the Scriptures below and circle words like pride, proud, arrogant, and haughty.

The LORD protects the loyal, but fully repays the arrogant (Psalm 31:23, HCSB).

Though the LORD is exalted, He takes note of the humble; but He knows the haughty from a distance (Psalm 138:6, HCSB).

I hate arrogant pride, evil conduct, and perverse speech (Proverbs 8:13, HCSB).

Everyone with a proud heart is detestable to the LORD; be assured, he will not go unpunished (Proverbs 16:5, HCSB).

Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18, HCSB).

I will put an end to the pride of the arrogant and humiliate the insolence of tyrants (Isaiah 13:11, HCSB).

When pride is present in your life, it may manifest itself in a variety of other sinful ways. It is like the root of a tree that bears much fruit. If you cut off a branch to get rid of the fruit but do nothing to the root, you will soon get a new crop of fruit. Pride is like that. The following list includes some of the fruit sins that come from pride.

❍ As you read the following list, look for evidence that you may have pride   issues you need to deal with in your life.

□ prejudice □ argumentative □ sexual immorality □ rudeness □ boastfulness  □ taking license to sin □ complaining □ stubbornness □ a critical spirit_______ □ disobedience □ independence □ selfish ambition □ exalting self ________ □ prayerlessness □ a judgmental spirit □ faultfinding  □ self-promotion ____ □ rebellion toward authority  □ gossiping □ self-sufficiency □ thinking highly  of self □ unrepentant □ holding on to sin □ unwilling to confess sin _________ □ haughtiness □ being demanding □ desiring control □ impatience □ being  unforgiving □ pleasing people over God □ ingratitude □ self-righteousness _ □ following your evil desires

❍ Do you see any evidence that you struggle with pride? Check one.

â–¡ Yes â–¡ No

If you checked no, that may be the best evidence of all. Pride is such a fundamental sin for all humans that we must always watch for evidence of it in our lives. Peter explained that the way to get rid of pride is by humbling ourselves. When God promised forgiveness and healing in 2 Chronicles 7:14, He gave four requirements to His people:

(1)Humble yourself (2) Pray (3) Seek His face, and (4) Turn from your evil ways.

The starting place is to humble yourself. Dealing seriously with your pride is a starting point for returning to a right relationship with God. In order to humble yourself, you can do such things as the following.

•  Acknowledge God’s greatness and sovereign right to rule your life.

•  Agree with Christ that apart from Him you can do nothing.

•  Agree with God about your sin. Confess your pride to others.

•  Give up or yield your rights. Yield control to others.

•  Submit to one another in reverence for Christ.

•  Serve others. Accept lowly tasks without complaint.

•  Confess your weaknesses or needs and accept help.

•  Confess dependence on God and interdependence on others.

•  Honor others above yourself.

•  Do the things pride tells you not to do.

•  Ask people to pray for you. Ask for help in getting rid of pride.

•  Give away or dispose of things that cause you to feel proud.

•  Be willing to associate with people of low degree.

❋ PRAY And ask the Lord to help you humble yourself and get rid of pride and every evidence of it in your life.