Malankara World Journal
Malankara World Journal

Focus: Prayer

Volume 2 No. 82 June 21, 2012

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Table of Contents
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1. Bible Readings for This Sunday (June 24)

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

2. Sermons for This Sunday (June 24)

Sermons for the Fourth Sunday After Pentecost

http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_4th-sunday-after-Pentecost.htm

3. Inspiration for Today

4. Featured: The Faith for Big Prayers

Do we have the kind of faith that can pray hard verses like these and mean them? It's easy to pray for blessings, wisdom, health, and the "joy of the Lord." Those prayers make our lives better, we think, and don't require a sacrifice or change of plans. When we come across difficult verses, however, we so easily shy away. Why?

5. If God is Sovereign, Why Pray?

God calls us to pray. He invites us to pray. He commands us pray. He begs us to pray. He exhorts us to seek his face every day. We have been given unlimited access to the throne room of the universe. The King of Kings wants to hear from you. Don't keep him waiting any longer.

6. You Can Ask Why

What is the perfect thing to do when crisis hits, when you are in trouble? Bring it to Jesus.

7. God Can Do Anything

Just knowing that we do not go through tough times alone is a wonderful blessing. Sometimes we need reminding of the measure of just how powerful our God really is. God the Father wants to hear from us in the good times and the bad. He wants to be there for us, so we have to let Him in on our lives. God can do anything. Tell Him your concerns and troubles, and feel His comforting hand leading you to the right decisions you need to make each day. ..

8. Persistent And Patient Prayer

An important aspect of prayer is to pray patiently. God meets our needs "at the proper time" (Galatians 6:9). Too often Christians weary of praying, and give up. This is often justified on the basis that God's failure to answer means the request is not according to His will. ...

9. The Never-Forsaking God

We have the idea that God is going to do some exceptional thing - that He is preparing and equipping us for some extraordinary work in the future. But as we grow in His grace we find that God is glorifying Himself here and now, at this very moment. If we have God's assurance behind us, the most amazing strength becomes ours, and we learn to sing, glorifying Him even in the ordinary days and ways of life.

10. No One Compares to Him

Psalm 89:6 asks the question: "Who among the sons of the mighty is like the Lord? " And the answer is, any pursuit of God's counterpart is vain. No one and nothing compares to him. No one advises him. No one helps him. You and I may have power. But God IS power. ...

11. Recipe: Easy Summer Salad

Corn, Tomato, and Cilantro Salad

12. Why Smart People Are Stupid

When people face an uncertain situation, they don't carefully evaluate the information or look up relevant statistics. Instead, their decisions depend on a long list of mental shortcuts, which often lead them to make foolish decisions. ...

13. Humor: Intelligence

14. About Malankara World

This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for This Sunday (June 24)
Sermons for This Sunday (June 24)
This Week's Features

Inspiration for Today
"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart."
Helen Keller

Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.
Jim Rohn

25. "To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
26. Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.
Isaiah 40

Oh LORD, Our God,
How Excellent is Your Name Over All the Earth!
Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent,
You Alone Are Worthy to be Praised and Worshiped.
You Alone Are Holy,
You Alone Are LORD,
You Alone Are The One True God.

Featured: The Faith for Big Prayers

by Katherine Britton

"Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven." -- Daniel 10:12

One Sunday morning shortly after my husband proposed, I remember singing at church on a fairly unremarkable Sunday. I don't recall the sermon or anything else that day, but I do remember one of the praise songs - "Blessed Be the Name of the Lord." The song personalizes Israel's trials in the wilderness and the abundant streams of the promise land for the believer's life today, directing her to sing praise no matter the circumstances:

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
'Lord, blessed be Your name!'

Sitting in church that day, I momentarily stopped singing. After dating this guy for almost four years, I finally had a ring on my finger. I finally had a token that what I longed for so hopefully was coming. The slightest hint that the world could be otherwise - and I could still praise God - baffled me at that moment. My selfish heart did not have the faith to pray that prayer, not at that moment.

Recently, I encountered another prayer that I couldn't quite pray:

"God, I'm asking for two things before I die; don't refuse me - Banish lies from my lips and liars from my presence. Give me enough food to live on, neither too much nor too little. If I'm too full, I might get independent, saying, 'God? Who needs him?' If I'm poor, I might steal and dishonor the name of my God."
(Proverbs 7b-9, The Message)

Few of us have trouble asking God to keep us out of poverty. But asking God to keep us from being too comfortable? I'm too American to pray that without hesitation. By contrast, consider the boldness of these people:

Hannah, the formerly barren woman who gave birth to the prophet Samuel - "And she made a vow, saying,

"O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head."
(1 Samuel 1:11)

The psalmist who wanted nothing hidden from God -

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts."
(Psalm 139:23)

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego before being thrown into the fiery furnace -

"If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."
(Daniel 3:17-18)

Jesus Christ, who would later use this verse in the Garden of Gethsemane -

"Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."
(Matthew 6:10)

Do we have the kind of faith that can pray hard verses like these and mean them? It's easy to pray for blessings, wisdom, health, and the "joy of the Lord." Those prayers make our lives better, we think, and don't require a sacrifice or change of plans. When we come across difficult verses, however, we so easily shy away. Why?

Sometimes my response is too much like Ahaz's, who was offered a sign from the Lord as evidence of Isaiah's prophecy. Instead, Ahaz proudly said, "I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test." He deluded himself. He passed off his lack of faith for his unwillingness to "test" God. Instead of praising his decision, Isaiah announced that he - and God - were about out of patience.

Contrast this to the apostle James, who urged the church to ask with abandon so that they could see God at work. But he gave them this warning: "But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind" (James 1:6).

Intersecting Faith & Life:

Are you avoiding a difficult prayer? What's your reason? Disbelief that God will really answer? Refusal to acknowledge God's imminence? Fear that God will upset your apple cart? Ask yourself what's holding you back. Let's pray for humility and understanding, and the rest will follow.

Source: Crosswalk.com - The Devotional. Katherine Britton is Crosswalk.com News & Culture Editor

If God is Sovereign, Why Pray?

by Ray Pritchard, Keep Believing Ministries, Tupelo, Mississippi

Scripture: Matthew 6:8

"I listen more than I talk."

That's how a well-known pastor described his prayer life in a sermon I heard recently. It was the reason he gave that arrested my attention.

"After all, it seems like God is going to do whatever he wants to do anyway."

There are various ways to respond to that statement, including simply nodding your head in agreement. If we don't dispute the sovereignty of God (and we don't), then where and how does prayer fit into God's plan? Or why should we bother praying if God has already determined the answers before we start to pray?

I suppose that most Christians have wondered about that question at one time or another. Certainly skeptics have thrown it in our faces to discourage us from seeking the Lord in times of crisis. I confess that I have wrestled with this issue on more than one occasion.

If God is sovereign, why should we pray at all? Many years ago I listened to a tape by R. C. Sproul on this topic that helped me greatly. Here are seven statements that will help us think wisely about this question:

1. God invites us to ask for what we need.

We are told to ask, to seek, to knock (Matthew 7:7-8). Why? Ask and it shall be given, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. In Psalm 81:10 the Lord promises, "Open wide your mouth and I will fill it." This is where prayer becomes intensely personal. Our Heavenly Father-who already knows our needs-invites us to make our needs known through prayer.

2. We don't know what we really need.

We think we do, but we don't. Or to be more accurate, we know part of our needs, but not all of them. Our perspective is inevitably limited by our own experience, desires and personal knowledge. Romans 8:26 says that "we do not know what we ought to pray for." Have you ever felt you've "run out of words" when you pray? That has happened to me on more than one occasion. I remember one couple that seemed to be in a perpetual crisis situation. I had prayed so much for them without a positive result that finally I ran out of prayers. I didn't know what to say anymore. I didn't know how to pray for them effectively. All I could say was, "Lord, have mercy," because I couldn't think of any other words. Sometimes we face the same issue when we seek God's guidance. Often we are so confused that we're not sure what we should be asking for. And sometimes we are so weary that words will not come to us.

Rarely can we be absolutely sure what God wants to do in a particular situation. After we have made our requests to God, especially regarding the crisis issues of life, we must cry out, "But Father, I don't know what you want. And I want your will to be done even if it means my will is not done in this situation. I truly believe that you know best."

That's why the most basic prayer is always "Thy will be done." But God knew that we would often be baffled in prayer so he sent the Holy Spirit who intercedes for us (Romans 8:26-27). He prays for us when we don't know how to pray for ourselves or for anyone else.

3. God knows what we need before we ask him.

Matthew 6:8 says this very plainly: "Your Father knows what you need before you ask him." That means we don't have to impress God or use big words or pray long prayers, We don't have to repeat ourselves when we pray, and we don't have to worry about getting all the details correct or throw in flowery language when we pray. Since God knows us through and through, he knows our needs better than we do. When you pray, you aren't informing God of anything. He knew your need before you bowed you head.

4. We do not pray to inform God of anything.

This may seem obvious but it needs to be stated anyway. When you pray, you aren't informing God of things he wouldn't otherwise know. The Bible tells us that he numbers the stars in the sky, the sand on the seashore, and the hairs on your head. He even calls the stars by name (Psalm 147:4). Ponder that for a moment. Billions and billions of stars and he knows the name of each one. Think how easily you get flustered on Sunday morning trying to remember that person you met last week. If your church has multiple services on Sunday morning, you probably don't know everyone in your own church.

But God does.

He not only knows all the people in your church, he knows everyone attending every church everywhere in the world. More than that, he knows the names of all 6.8 billion people on planet earth. But even beyond that, he knows the names of everyone who has ever lived here and everyone yet to be born.

If God knows all that, do you think he is going to be surprised that your gall bladder is acting up again? Do you think he doesn't know about your crabby boss or how you gained 10 pounds in the last month?

In case you doubt this, listen to the words of Psalm 139:1-3.

O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;

you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.

That would appear to be total knowledge of every aspect of your life. Nothing you do or say surprises God. He knows your secret thoughts, your hidden motives, your unspoken dreams, and he knows what you are going to say before you ever open your mouth.

I find this a liberating truth for the prayer life. It means I don't have to yell or shout to try to make him understand. And I don't have to go into some long explanation either. I don't even have to repeat myself unless I want to. He got the message the first time. Actually, he got the message before I ever sent it.

5. We pray to express our total dependence upon our Heavenly Father.

When R.C. Sproul discussed this issue, he quoted John Calvin, the great theologian of the Protestant Reformation, who said that prayer is not for God's good, but for ours. That's an amazing thought. Because God is God, he doesn't "need" our prayers. But we need to pray. Calvin means that God's perfections are perfect in their completeness. While God desires our prayers, they do not "add" anything to who God is. Let me say that another way. God doesn't need the information we give him, but he encourages us to give him the information anyway.

Perhaps an illustration would help. Picture a father watching his four-year-old daughter trying to put together a puzzle. She tries and tries but she just can't get the pieces in the right place. Her father watches with great interest but he doesn't interfere. Finally, she crawls in his lap and says, "Daddy, would you help me put my puzzle together?" He smiles and bends down and together they begin to pick up each piece. One piece at a time they put the puzzle together.

Now why didn't the father help his daughter earlier? For one thing, she didn't ask for his help. For another, he wanted her to try on her own. And most of all, he wanted her to ask for his help. When she did, he was honored and gladly helped her finish the puzzle.

Is this not a picture of how our Heavenly Father deals with his children? Although he longs to come to our aid, often he waits until we ask him specifically. Sometimes he wants us to come to the end of our own pitiful resources before he intervenes. When we cry out in despair, he is honored as we express our complete dependence upon him.

Every prayer is the cry of a child saying, "Help, Father, I can't do this by myself."

6. We pray because God is honored by our persistent faith.

I've already said that since God knows what we need before we ask him, we don't have to repeat ourselves to get his attention. But that's not the whole story. We all know from personal experience that not all our prayers are answered the first time we pray them. Sometimes we receive immediate answers, but often we must wait days, week, months, or even years before the answer comes. I know many people who have prayed for years for their loved ones to come to Christ.

How long should you pray for your loved ones to be saved? My answer is simple. You should pray until God answers your prayers. Do you remember the story of the widow and the unjust judge in Luke 18:1-8? The woman kept coming back to the judge to plead her case. Because the judge was dishonest, he didn't have time for her, but her persistence wore him down so finally he said, "I'm going to see that this woman gets justice before she drives me crazy." Listen to the words of Jesus as he applies this story to our Heavenly Father:

And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly (Luke 18:7-8).

Jesus isn't saying that God is like the unjust judge. But if an unjust judge can be swayed by the persistence of a widow, won't God's heart be moved by the persistent prayers of his people? The answer is yes. Persistent prayer moves the heart of God because it expresses desperate dependence on him.

Sometimes it takes desperate circumstances to bring forth this kind of faith. Perhaps you've heard about the doctor who said to his patient, "There's nothing I can do. It's in the hands of God now." "Oh no," the patient replied. "Has it come to that?" It always comes to that sooner or later. Prayer reminds us that in the end everything depends on God and not on us.

James 5 gives us another wonderful example of the power of prayer. Elijah prayed that it would not rain and for 3 ˝ years there was no rain in Israel. He prayed again and the rains fell from heaven. Here's the moral of the story in James 5:16, "The prayers of a righteous man are powerful and effective." In the original language James used a word that means "to boil over." Fervent prayers get God's attention because they come from a heart that believes God's power is unlimited.

This doesn't mean that you need to shout when you pray or that you have to weep or moan or stand or sit. Fervent prayer is simply prayer offered in earnest petition to God. It's not the words that matter . . . or the length of the prayer . . . or the tone of your voice . . . or whether you stand or kneel or sit. What matters is that you really mean it when you pray.

Many years ago I heard a pastor speak at a youth worker's rally in Long Beach, California. During his message he told how his wife had been involved in a terrible accident. As the ambulance rushed her to the hospital, he tried to pray but the only words that would come out were "Oh God. Oh God. Oh God." Looking back on that experience, he commented that it seemed like one of the few times in life he had ever really prayed.

Many Christians have had the same experience. It sometimes takes a crisis to teach us that God is not impressed by long words, many words, fancy words, or loud words. What matters is that our hearts be focused on him. Fervent prayers move God to action because they come from persistent faith in the face of desperate circumstances.

7. We pray because he's God and we're not.

This of course is the first rule of the spiritual life. All prayer is based on this simple truth. He runs the universe, we don't. We pray because he's in charge and we're not.

And here's a crucial insight. When we don't pray, it's because we've forgotten who's God and who's not. A lack of prayer means we're still trying to run the show. It's a sign that we've decided we can handle things on our own.

And that brings us back to the original question. If God is sovereign, why pray? While chatting with a friend, I mentioned this question to him. He looked at me and said, "There's an easy answer to that question." I asked what it was, mainly because I wanted to be sure I knew it myself. "Because he commanded us to," he replied. When you think about it, that is the ultimate answer. We pray because God has commanded us to pray, which means that prayer must be good for us.

Sometimes you see little signs that say, "Prayer changes things." I believe that's true. And the first thing prayer changes is us. It teaches us to depend completely on our Heavenly Father, and it reminds us that he's God and we're not.

Why pray if God knows everything in advance? Because God has ordained that our prayers are part of his plan for the universe. Our prayers really do matter to God. In a sense God limits what he can do in the world so that he can work through our prayers. It's not that God "needs" our prayers. He doesn't. But in his kindness, he has invited us to join him in the great adventure of bringing his kingdom to this sin-cursed planet. Through our prayers, we partner with God in changing the world.

Our greatest problem is not with God's sovereignty but with our sinful unbelief. The Bible says, "You have not because you ask not" (James 4:2 KJV). But Jesus himself invited us to ask God for anything that we need. So why don't we pray more than we do?

Let's wrap up this message with a very simple theology of prayer. Our part is to pray fervently, sincerely, and honestly, bringing our deepest concerns to the Lord. God's part is to listen to our prayers and to graciously answer them in his own time, in his own way, according to his own will. If we do our part, God cannot fail to do his.

"Give Him No Rest"

Perhaps you are still not convinced. Let me share a passage I came across while reading the book of Isaiah.

"You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth" (Isaiah 62:6-7).

"Give him no rest."

Give who no rest?
God.

The Lord invites his people to pray, asks them to pray, commands them to pray, begs them to pray. And then he says, "When you pray, give me no rest."

This may be the most startling invitation to prayer in the Bible.

Give the Lord no rest when you pray. Bang on the door of heaven. Pray, pray, and keep on praying. Pray that God will hear and answer and move from heaven.

Don't put any time limits on God.
Don't think he will be bothered by your repeated requests.
Don't say, "This is too small to bother God about."
Don't say, "I've prayed about this long enough."

Wear him out!

He loves it when his children beg him to help.

Are you praying for a loved one to be saved? Wear him out!
Do you need God's wisdom for a major decision? Wear him out!
Are you facing temptation and need God's help? Wear him out!
Are your children struggling spiritually? Wear him out!
Do you seek a godly spouse for your granddaughter? Wear him out!
Are you praying for revival in your church? Wear him out!
Do you long to become stronger in your faith? Wear him out!

Don't take "no" for an answer.

It almost sounds unbiblical or dangerous or possibly blasphemous. But if the request itself is godly and noble and pure and good, you have every reason to stand your ground when you pray.

Give him no rest.
Wear him out.

God calls us to pray. He invites us to pray. He commands us pray. He begs us to pray. He exhorts us to seek his face every day. We have been given unlimited access to the throne room of the universe. The King of Kings wants to hear from you. Don't keep him waiting any longer.

You Can Ask Why

by Greg Laurie

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. - (Philippians 4:6)

What is the perfect thing to do when crisis hits, when you are in trouble? Bring it to Jesus.

When the Israelites were turning against Moses, we read in Exodus 15:25 that "he cried out to the Lord." When you are criticized unfairly, take it to the Lord.

When Hezekiah received a threatening letter, we read that he spread it out before the Lord (see 2 Kings 19:14).

When John the Baptist was beheaded, Matthew 14:12 says the disciples went and told Jesus.

So that is what we need to do when trouble comes. We need to go and tell Jesus.

It's what Mary and Martha did when their brother Lazarus was sick. They could have said, "Lord, You owe us. You and your friends stayed at our house." But they didn't. They simply said, "Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick" (John 11:3). They did not base their appeal on their love for God, but on His love for them.

That is what we need to do. And, by the way, it is okay to ask God why. Don't expect an answer, but ask away. Do you think God doesn't see your heart when you pray? So be honest with Him. You can say things like, "God, I am not happy right now. I don't understand this. I am hurting. This doesn't make sense. Why?" It is okay to say those things.

Jesus himself said from the cross, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46). Was that blasphemy? No. He was calling on His Father. And we need to do the same.

So in the midst of trouble, don't withdraw from God and your Christian friends. Go to the Lord and cry out to Him. You can ask why.

Source: Greg Laurie Daily Devotions

Copyright © 2012 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.

God Can Do Anything
Lift you eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. -- Isaiah 40:26

Since the beginning of time the Israelite (Jewish) people have had many reasons to worry with most often being at war. They received strength and encouragement through these uplifting words. As much as it helped them in their time of need, it was also intended for us today. When you contemplate the magnitude of the Lord God’s power, it simply baffles the mind. Creation itself is difficult to comprehend when you look at the majestic mountains created out of nothing, and then down to the microscopic detail God saw to taking care of. How big is our God!

Often times when I am needed peace that only my Heavenly Father can provide, I tend to open up the book of Psalms, or even the Proverbs. But today I went to the book of Isaiah. Our God is a powerful God, but we can’t forget He’s also a personal one. He knows what it’s like, because He was fully man once. He experimented fatigue, sadness, hunger, pain, rejection, angry mobs…every emotion.

Just knowing that we do not go through tough times alone is a wonderful blessing. Sometimes we need reminding of the measure of just how powerful our God really is. God the Father wants to hear from us in the good times and the bad. He wants to be there for us, so we have to let Him in on our lives. God can do anything. Tell Him your concerns and troubles, and feel His comforting hand leading you to the right decisions you need to make each day. As Christians we become God’s children. We need to continually be seeking Him out for guidance.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Source: http://destinedforheaven.wordpress.com/

Persistent And Patient Prayer

by Paul Estabrooks

"As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you."
1 Samuel 12:23

An important aspect of prayer is to pray patiently. God meets our needs "at the proper time" (Galatians 6:9). Too often Christians weary of praying, and give up. This is often justified on the basis that God's failure to answer means the request is not according to His will. Remember, God can:

Deliver- whatever we ask in His name;
Delay- to fit His perfect timing (only He sees the end from the beginning);
Deny- and say 'No' because we ask amiss or give a
Different and better answer.

Jesus urges us to be persistent in prayer (Luke 11:5-8). This does not mean that God does not want to meet our needs and that we need to try to persuade Him. It simply means that only God, who completely understands the whole situation, can know when and how to answer. Only when we have assurance in our hearts from the Lord, should we remove a matter from our prayer list.

Many times Christians lose heart in prayer because they do not recognize when the Lord does answer their prayers. Sometimes this is due to the fact that they did not pray specifically enough and sometimes because they have decided in advance how God must answer. Perhaps they think that only a great miracle can meet their need.

But the Lord may change the circumstances so that the need seems to be supplied "naturally." Mature believers will recognize that the events of everyday life also come from the Lord. Our daily bread and safety are miracles of God in this troubled world Let us not presume to tell God how to answer, and let us praise Him for His daily care.

RESPONSE:

Today I will acknowledge God gives His best to those who leave the choices to Him.

PRAYER:

Lord, help me to be patient and persistent…and leave the answers to my prayers in Your hands.

Source: Standing Strong Through the Storm Devotional.
© 2010 Open Doors International. Used by permission

The Never-Forsaking God

by Oswald Chambers

"He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you' " - Hebrews 13:5

What line of thinking do my thoughts take? Do I turn to what God says or to my own fears? Am I simply repeating what God says, or am I learning to truly hear Him and then to respond after I have heard what He says? "For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' So we may boldly say: 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?' " (Hebrews 13:5-6).

"I will never leave you . . ." - not for any reason; not my sin, selfishness, stubbornness, nor waywardness. Have I really let God say to me that He will never leave me? If I have not truly heard this assurance of God, then let me listen again.

"I will never . . . forsake you." Sometimes it is not the difficulty of life but the drudgery of it that makes me think God will forsake me. When there is no major difficulty to overcome, no vision from God, nothing wonderful or beautiful— just the everyday activities of life— do I hear God's assurance even in these?

We have the idea that God is going to do some exceptional thing - that He is preparing and equipping us for some extraordinary work in the future. But as we grow in His grace we find that God is glorifying Himself here and now, at this very moment. If we have God's assurance behind us, the most amazing strength becomes ours, and we learn to sing, glorifying Him even in the ordinary days and ways of life.

Source: My Utmost for His Highest (The Golden Book of Oswald Chambers)

No One Compares to Him

by Max Lucado

Psalm 89:6 asks the question: "Who among the sons of the mighty is like the Lord?"

And the answer is, any pursuit of God's counterpart is vain. No one and nothing compares to him. No one advises him. No one helps him. You and I may have power. But God IS power.

Unlike the potter who takes something and reshapes it, God took nothing and created something. God created everything that exists by divine fiat. John said in Revelation, "You, God created all things, and it is for your pleasure that they exist and were created. Revelation 4:11?

Even God asks, "To whom will you compare me?" As if his question needed an answer, he gives one: "I am God-I alone. I am God. There is no one else like me! Isaiah 46:4-9?

We're blessed to be his children. We can only stand humbly before him and praise his glorious name!

Source: UpWords with Max Lucado

Recipe: Easy Summer Salad

By Preston Maring, MD

This recipe keeps coming to mind when the first fresh corn of the season becomes available. Remembering how much I loved this recipe before, I got excited and forgot to cook the corn at all. Turns out the fresh young kernels were crunchy sweet and perfect raw.

Corn, Tomato, and Cilantro Salad

Ingredients:

2 ears fresh corn, husked
1 pint cherry tomatoes, stemmed and halved
1/2 red onion, diced
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Salad greens (optional)

Directions:

Mix everything together. Mound on top of fresh salad greens. Serve. Marvel at what you created.

Yield:

Serves Four

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories: 158
Fat: 8 g
Saturated fat: 1 g
Trans fat: 0 gm
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrate: 22 g
Fiber: 4 g
Sodium: 116 mg
Protein: 4 g

Source: Kaiser Permanente

Why Smart People Are Stupid

by Jonah Lehrer

Here's a simple arithmetic question: A bat and ball cost a dollar and ten cents. The bat costs a dollar more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?

The vast majority of people respond quickly and confidently, insisting the ball costs ten cents. This answer is both obvious and wrong.

For more than five decades, Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Laureate and professor of psychology at Princeton, has been asking questions like this and analyzing our answers. His disarmingly simple experiments have profoundly changed the way we think about thinking. While philosophers, economists, and social scientists had assumed for centuries that human beings are rational agents-reason was our Promethean gift-Kahneman and his scientific partner, the late Amos Tversky, demonstrated that we're not nearly as rational as we like to believe.

When people face an uncertain situation, they don't carefully evaluate the information or look up relevant statistics. Instead, their decisions depend on a long list of mental shortcuts, which often lead them to make foolish decisions. These shortcuts aren't a faster way of doing the math; they're a way of skipping the math altogether. Asked about the bat and the ball, we forget our arithmetic lessons and instead default to the answer that requires the least mental effort.

Although Kahneman is now widely recognized as one of the most influential psychologists of the twentieth century, his work was dismissed for years. Kahneman recounts how one eminent American philosopher, after hearing about his research, quickly turned away, saying, "I am not interested in the psychology of stupidity."

The philosopher, it turns out, got it backward. A new study in the 'Journal of Personality and Social Psychology' led by Richard West at James Madison University and Keith Stanovich at the University of Toronto suggests that, in many instances, smarter people are more vulnerable to these thinking errors. Although we assume that intelligence is a buffer against bias-that's why those with higher S.A.T. scores think they are less prone to these universal thinking mistakes-it can actually be a subtle curse.

West and his colleagues began by giving four hundred and eighty-two undergraduates a questionnaire featuring a variety of classic bias problems. Here's a example:

In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of the lake?

Your first response is probably to take a shortcut, and to divide the final answer by half. That leads you to twenty-four days. But that's wrong. The correct solution is forty-seven days.

West also gave a puzzle that measured subjects' vulnerability to something called "anchoring bias," which Kahneman and Tversky had demonstrated in the nineteen-seventies. Subjects were first asked if the tallest redwood tree in the world was more than X feet, with X ranging from eighty-five to a thousand feet. Then the students were asked to estimate the height of the tallest redwood tree in the world. Students exposed to a small "anchor"-like eighty-five feet-guessed, on average, that the tallest tree in the world was only a hundred and eighteen feet. Given an anchor of a thousand feet, their estimates increased seven-fold.

But West and colleagues weren't simply interested in reconfirming the known biases of the human mind. Rather, they wanted to understand how these biases correlated with human intelligence. As a result, they interspersed their tests of bias with various cognitive measurements, including the S.A.T. and the Need for Cognition Scale, which measures "the tendency for an individual to engage in and enjoy thinking."

The results were quite disturbing. For one thing, self-awareness was not particularly useful: as the scientists note, "people who were aware of their own biases were not better able to overcome them." This finding wouldn't surprise Kahneman, who admits in "Thinking, Fast and Slow" that his decades of groundbreaking research have failed to significantly improve his own mental performance. "My intuitive thinking is just as prone to overconfidence, extreme predictions, and the planning fallacy"-a tendency to underestimate how long it will take to complete a task-"as it was before I made a study of these issues," he writes.

Perhaps our most dangerous bias is that we naturally assume that everyone else is more susceptible to thinking errors, a tendency known as the "bias blind spot." This "meta-bias" is rooted in our ability to spot systematic mistakes in the decisions of others-we excel at noticing the flaws of friends-and inability to spot those same mistakes in ourselves. Although the bias blind spot itself isn't a new concept, West's latest paper demonstrates that it applies to every single bias under consideration, from anchoring to so-called "framing effects." In each instance, we readily forgive our own minds but look harshly upon the minds of other people.

And here's the upsetting punch line: intelligence seems to make things worse. The scientists gave the students four measures of "cognitive sophistication." As they report in the paper, all four of the measures showed positive correlations, "indicating that more cognitively sophisticated participants showed larger bias blind spots." This trend held for many of the specific biases, indicating that smarter people (at least as measured by S.A.T. scores) and those more likely to engage in deliberation were slightly more vulnerable to common mental mistakes. Education also isn't a savior; as Kahneman and Shane Frederick first noted many years ago, more than fifty per cent of students at Harvard, Princeton, and M.I.T. gave the incorrect answer to the bat-and-ball question.

What explains this result? One provocative hypothesis is that the bias blind spot arises because of a mismatch between how we evaluate others and how we evaluate ourselves. When considering the irrational choices of a stranger, for instance, we are forced to rely on behavioral information; we see their biases from the outside, which allows us to glimpse their systematic thinking errors. However, when assessing our own bad choices, we tend to engage in elaborate introspection. We scrutinize our motivations and search for relevant reasons; we lament our mistakes to therapists and ruminate on the beliefs that led us astray.

The problem with this introspective approach is that the driving forces behind biases-the root causes of our irrationality-are largely unconscious, which means they remain invisible to self-analysis and impermeable to intelligence. In fact, introspection can actually compound the error, blinding us to those primal processes responsible for many of our everyday failings. We spin eloquent stories, but these stories miss the point. The more we attempt to know ourselves, the less we actually understand.

Source: New Yorker Blog: Frontal Cortex

[Editor's Note: If you are still puzzled about the bat and the ball question, the answer is: ball costs $0.05 and the bat $1.05]

Humor: Intelligence
A little boy went up to his father and asked:

"Dad, where did all of my intelligence come from?"

The father replied.

"Well son, you must have got it from your mother, because I still have mine."

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