Not long ago a pastor came to visit me. At the beginning of our conversation he appeared to be excited about life and his ministry. But the longer we talked the more discouraged he became. Finally, in tears he said, “I don’t know what to do. I work so hard, study for hours, visit my members and the visitors who come to our church, but nothing is happening. My work and life are not producing any visible results.”
“Let me ask you a question,” I said. “Do you expect to see results every time you preach or visit or pray?”
“No,” came a solemn, quiet reply.
“That may be the problem,” I said.
Jesus said, “For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you and you will (get it).” When we pray believingly and live expectantly our work will reflect His results. We have His promise!
There is one condition, however, that we must be aware of: When we pray we must have faith in God not in ourselves or in the object of our prayer. If we focus on the object and it is not granted to us, we will be left empty handed and not able to see God at work in our lives. His answer may be different from our expectations.
When Jesus prayed He said, “It’s all possible – but I want Your will.” He had God’s interests – not His – as the focus of His prayers and expectations. His will must always be first and foremost if we expect His blessings.
Prayer: Father, we know that no goal is too great or request too ridiculous if what we ask will honor You. May our motives be pure and our heart’s desires, Yours. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture: Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 
A missionary told the story of watching a man, dressed like Jesus carrying a cross through crowded streets during Easter week. He was intrigued by the scene and got as close to the man as possible. He wanted to observe him more carefully so he could tell the story to others. When he finally was a few feet from him, he noticed that under his garment was a pillow that cushioned the weight of the cross so it would not hurt him.
We must never forget the weight of the cross that Jesus carried on our behalf. Picture, if you can, the scene: the heat of the day, the blood streaming down His face from the crown of thorns and down His back from the horrible beatings He endured before the nails were driven through His hands and feet, crowds laughing and taunting, alone and abandoned by His trusted friends and followers.
Too often we look at an empty cross and forget the reality of the cross and what it cost Jesus and His Father. Our religion has become a religion of convenience – not of conviction.
We have glamorized the cross and made it into a piece of jewelry that adorns the necks of people who do not know or want to know the story of redemption. To many it is simply an ornament – something worn but not born. Jesus said, “If you want to be my follower, then shoulder your cross and follow me closely.”
Prayer: Help us, Father, through Your grace, to understand the cost and value of our salvation. May we accept our part of the price by shouldering our cross with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Mark 8:34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
It was one of those days when nothing seemed to go right at work. Ralph had lost sale after sale and was three hours late for his lunch.

He sat down on his favorite stool in his favorite diner waiting to place his favorite order. When the waitress asked for his order, he said meekly, “Please, I’d like two things: an order of pot roast and a few kind words.”

Looking at him kindly, she replied, “The kindest words I can think of right now are, ‘don’t order the pot roast.’“

Offering “kind words” is the responsibility of every Christian every day. Everyone we meet needs words of strength, hope and encouragement to meet the challenges they face. Life for most of us has various shades of difficulty each day.

But what are the kindest words we can ever offer anyone? Perhaps they are these: “Don’t forget the next world while living in this one.”

It is possible for each of us to place our values in the wrong things. No one is immune from being caught up in the moment when we are vulnerable and weak. How sad it will be if we live our lives and, at the last moment, discover life’s greatest mistake: we did not include God in our plans.

Jesus asked, “How do you benefit anything if you gain the whole world and lose your own soul?”

Prayer: We pray, Lord, that we will recognize our greatest need: first to accept You as our Savior and then to bring others to a knowledge of Your saving grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Mark 8:34-38  What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?
Shortly after a new nightclub was opened near a church, the members decided to call an all night prayer meeting. While they were praying a powerful thunderstorm engulfed the city and lightning struck the club and burned it to the ground.
The owner became angry and decided to sue the church. At the hearing, however, the church denied any and all responsibility for the destruction of the club.
Confused, the judge exclaimed, “I’m not sure where the guilt may lie. On one hand the nightclub owner believes in prayer but the members of the church don’t.”
On one occasion when Jesus was teaching His followers and disciples about eternal life someone asked, “But who can be saved?” He replied, “Humanly speaking, it is something man cannot do. But with God, all things are possible.”
Prayer is asking and receiving. It is not hoping or wishing or wondering. It is receiving. Yet, it is not unusual for Christians to be amazed, even surprised, when God answers a prayer that exceeds their faith. How interesting.
Perhaps that’s why Jesus made that statement when talking about salvation. Consider this: if God can redeem us from our sinful state and grant us eternal life, can He not do anything we ask in His name and for His glory?
Prayer: Help us, Father, to have a faith that is bigger than our problems, stronger than the attacks of Satan and larger than any doubt that would ever defeat us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Mark 10:27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
Packy East began his professional career as a lightweight boxer. He ended his career as one of the world’s best known ambassadors. What started in a ring ended on a stage.
Packy entered the ring in Cleveland, Ohio, one evening for a boxing match he intended to win. It was not to be. At the end of the second round he was knocked down and carried to his dressing room.
But that setback did not hinder him. It actually helped him and changed his career. He eventually became a comedian, traveled the world entertaining large audiences and was very generous with his time to visit American troops wherever they were stationed. He was not known as “Packy the Performer.” He changed his name and was known as Bob Hope, the comedian.
It’s not being knocked down that destroys us - it’s staying down. When we are down it is time to look up and to look out! We need to look up to God to see what He has in store for us and then look out into His world to see where He would have us serve Him.
Jesus said that “everything is possible if a person believes.” He did not mean that anything was possible with “positive thinking.” He did want us to know, however, that nothing is impossible for God to do in our lives if it is in keeping with His will for us.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to be open and alert to what is going on around us and discover what You would have us do to serve and honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Mark 9:23 “’If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”
While counseling an anxious young college student recently, he said to me, “I need your guidance. I know that you are very successful so I know that any advice you give me would be very worthwhile. Can you give me a few words that can guide me through life?”
“Yes,” I replied. “But first you must know that they come from the Bible and that I have found them most reliable.”
The first word is anything. Be willing to do any work or task that God places before you. Accept all of His assignments with confidence because He has never planned for anyone to fail.
The second word is anywhere. Be ready to follow Him wherever He leads you. The will of God won’t lead you where the grace of God can’t protect you or His power provide for your every need.
Finally, any cost. Nothing is too precious to give up for the Lord. And whatever you give up for Him will be given back to you many, many times over. And above all remember this: Give up everything for Him but do not give Him up for anything.
Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me!” To be one of His disciples means carrying a cross. Carrying a cross as He did means we are willing to submit and surrender our lives to Him and do what He asks us to do.
Prayer: Father, may we realize that being Your disciples carries with it a supreme sacrifice - carrying a cross as You did. Help us to be willing to pay the price. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Mark 8:34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
After saying his nightly prayer, little Johnny said to his Dad, “I'll be right back.”
“Where are you going?” asked his Dad.
“To get a rope,” he quickly replied.
“Why a rope, Son?” he wondered.
“Well, Dad, you promised me that Jesus would answer my prayers. I asked him for a pony tonight and I need the rope to tie the pony to my bed when it comes.”
Now that's faith. Asking God for a pony and then running to get a rope. But that is what happens when we take God at His Word. Jesus said, “You can pray for anything, and if you believe, you will have it.”
Contained in the word “anything” is the word “everything.” And when Jesus made that statement He would have us to understand that our prayers are to be motivated by asking for things that have God’s best interest at heart. Certainly when we pray we are to ask for the desires of our hearts, but we must always place His will above our wants, His good above our greed and ask for His wisdom so that we can recognize the needs of His Kingdom first and foremost.
Is it wrong to ask God for a pony? Of course not. He created the little ponies and He wants us to enjoy all of His creation. But if spending time enjoying the pony causes us to stop reading the Bible, praying, worshiping, serving and obeying Him, we have the wrong priorities and we need to give up our “ponies”.
Prayer: Give us the boldness, Father, to pray sincerely, confidently, expectantly and with determination for those things that will honor You and enrich our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:17-27
An upscale jewelry store in New York had an exhibit of crosses in their display window. They were anxious to attract shoppers to a sale that was going on. Prominently displayed in the middle of the crosses was a sign that read: “EASY TERMS!”
However, there are no easy terms associated with the cross of Christ. Certainly not for Him. And neither for us if we take our calling to be His disciples seriously.
Jesus said that “A student is not greater than the teacher...and a slave shares the master’s fate.”
Our commitment to Christ carries with it a cost. A sure sign of those who follow Him is the conflict and disagreement that surround them for doing His will and following His teachings. Christian commitment may even separate us from our family, friends and loved ones. How? As we take up our cross and follow Him our eternal values will certainly generate differences of opinions and lifestyles. Our goals will be different. Our vision of right and wrong will bring about separation of what to do with our time, treasures and talents. When we take up His cross and follow Him, He becomes our priority and passion and purpose for living.
Jesus does not call us to a life of peace, pleasure and prosperity. He calls us to live a life like He lived, doing as He did even though we may loose everything we have when we share in the reality of His cross.
Prayer: Give us courage, Lord, to take up our crosses each day knowing that it costs nothing to become a Christian but costs everything to be a Christian. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:24-40
“Time for bed, Rosemary,” said grandmother.
“Let’s read the story of creation.” As she read through the verses, she would pause and emphasize how carefully God worked and made something different each day. She wanted her granddaughter to love and understand the power, majesty and wonder of God.
“What do you think of this story?” she asked.
“Oh, I love it,” came the reply. “You never know what God’s going to do!”
How true.
Jesus once said, “It is very hard to get into the Kingdom of God.”
He was then asked, “Then who in the world can be saved?”
He replied, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”
Jesus took this important opportunity to teach the message of salvation. Although salvation by one’s efforts is impossible, by God’s grace we can be saved if we place our faith in Christ.
It is God’s love that provides the grace for our salvation. “You never know what God’s going to do.”
Prayer: We thank and praise You, Father, for what You did to make our salvation possible through Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Mark 10:27 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”
A new convert to Christianity wanted to show his love for his new found Lord. To do so, he brought a beautiful sea shell to the missionary, John Patton, who led him to Jesus. 
“Where did you find such a beautiful prize?” he asked the native. 
“I walked many miles,” he answered, “and I crossed a mountain to the bay on the other side of the island.”
“I’m so very sorry,” said the missionary, “that you had to walk so far to get it.”
“The long walk,” said the native, “is part of the gift.” 
In Mark’s Gospel we read the heart-gripping story of the poor widow who put all that she had – two pennies – in the collection box in the Temple. Jesus had been watching the people as they presented their gifts. He saw the rich as they gave their large gifts as well as the widow. But it was the gift of the widow that touched the heart of Jesus.
So, He called His disciples together and said, “This poor widow has given more than all of the others. For they gave a tiny portion of their surplus, but she, as poor as she is, has given everything she has.” Her gift was the smallest, but in His eyes it was the largest of all.
The value of the gifts we give to the Lord does not depend on the amount; it depends on the spirit in which it is given. If we give grudgingly or to be recognized it cancels the real value of our giving. God is always pleased when we give from a heart that is filled with gratitude for the many gifts He has given us. Much more than the size of our gift, is the depth of appreciation that we have for His mercy and grace that He so willingly gives us.
Prayer: Lord, may we willingly give to You as You so graciously and mercifully give to us, all that we have or ever will have, because of Your unending love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Mark 12:41-44 For they all contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, her whole living.”
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