Charles Stanley – What God Wants You to Know

Charles Stanley

Romans 8:14-17

The Lord “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). In other words, God would like all of humanity to accept Christ as Savior. Today we will explore certain truths that the Father longs for His children to know.

• Salvation. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict us of our sinfulness and bring us to the knowledge that Jesus Christ died for our sin. When we receive the Lord as our personal Savior, we are reconciled to God and accorded full fellowship with Him. This happens the moment salvation occurs. Our sin debt is paid in full so we are free from guilt. Also, we are sealed by the Holy Spirit for eternity and set apart for God’s service.

• Identity. What is our identity in the Lord? Believers are children of God. The Bible calls us “joint heirs with Christ”—in other words, we share in the wealth of the Lord Jesus. Also, we have been transformed from sinners into saints. We may not always act saintly, but a true saint is someone who has been saved and set apart for the purposes of God.

• Position. Jesus Christ is always present to guide and provide for the believer. Through Him, we have instantaneous access to God the Father.

• Mission. Our primary mission in life is to demonstrate Christ to the world. Believers should live in such a way that others see the life of Jesus within us. And because we understand the wonder of our salvation, our identity in Christ, and our position to the Father, we share about the Savior with other people. God wants everyone to know the truth.

 

 

 

Our Daily Bread — In His Grip

Our Daily Bread

Romans 8:31-39

I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. —Philippians 3:12

When we cross a busy street with small children in tow, we put out our hand and say, “Hold on tight,” and our little ones grasp our hand as tightly as they can. But we would never depend on their grasp. It is our grip on their hand that holds them and keeps them secure. So Paul insists, “Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me” (Phil. 3:12). Or more exactly, “Christ has a grip on me!”

One thing is certain: It is not our grip on God that keeps us safe, but the power of Jesus’ grasp. No one can take us out of His grasp—not the devil, not even ourselves. Once we’re in His hands, He will not let go.

We have this assurance: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29).

Doubly safe: Our Father on one side and our Lord and Savior on the other, clasping us in a viselike grip. These are the hands that shaped the mountains and oceans and flung the stars into space. Nothing in this life or the next “shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39). —David Roper

Father, I thank You for the nail-pierced hands

that reached out in love and took me by my hand.

You have led me by Your right hand throughout life.

I trust You to hold me and keep me safe to the end.

The One who saved us is the One who keeps us.

Bible in a year: Malachi 1-4; Revelation 22

 

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Comfort and Joy

Ravi Z

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen is one of my favorite carols of the Advent season.

God rest ye merry gentlemen

Let nothing you dismay,

For Jesus Christ our Saviour

Was born upon this day,

To save us all from Satan’s power

When we were gone astray:

O tidings of comfort and joy,

comfort and joy,

O tidings of comfort and joy.

The carol reminds Christian pilgrims that we need not dismay since Jesus Christ has delivered us from the “domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of light” (Colossians 1:13). And yet, the tune is sung in a minor key. While no expert in music, I love the juxtaposition of a minor key with uplifting lyrics. The minor key reminds me that joy is mingled with sorrow during the Advent season.

The longing and expectation that begins the Advent season, turns to joy as the arrival of the Christ child approaches. Christians rejoice for the tiny baby who will be King; here is joy enfleshed, and our lives belong to his rule and reign. And yet, many who are familiar with this carol, even those who sing its verses, may still feel the power of evil over them, or feel that they have yet to find their way to the manger of Jesus. Some find it difficult to enter into the victory that Christmas proclaims.

For many in our world today, it is difficult to rejoice when all that is experienced is a world in crisis. Many desperately long to enter into the joy promised long ago to humble shepherds: “Behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).

Those who heard the announcement of the birth of the Messiah knew it signaled the end of exile and darkness, for the coming of the Messiah meant a new age for the people of Israel. We hear this promise sung in psalms: “When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with joyful shouting; Then they said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them’” (Psalm 126:1-2). Great things will be accomplished for the people as a result of the Messiah’s advent.

Yet, these great things were not accomplished without tears of sorrow and mourning. For, as the psalmist suggests, joy and sorrow are inextricably linked. “Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting. He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:5-6). Indeed, the sowing and the seed are the tears of the exiles, tears that bear the fruit of joy. Talitha Arnold reflects on the mystery of suffering turned to joy: “The natural power of God to turn seeds into grain would be miracle enough. But Psalm 126 makes an even greater statement. The seeds are not ordinary, but seeds of sorrow. The fruit they bear is not grain or wheat, but shouts of joy.”(1)

In spite of a world easily consumed by sorrow and sadness this season, those who anticipate the arrival of the source of all joy recognize that the harvest of joy is sown in tears—tears that are redeemed by the one who “for the joy set before him endured the cross and suffered its shame” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus, the joy of the world, was not immune to tears. The “tidings of comfort and joy” would be that God enters our suffering, and is not removed from it. God enters our exile, and offers deliverance and salvation.

We all seek joy in this season, but perhaps we look in the wrong places and in the wrong ways: “This is no jingle-bells joy brought with a swipe of a credit card,” Arnold continues. “The seeds of this joy have been planted in sadness and watered with tears. This is the honest joy that often comes only after weeping has tarried the night.”(2) Tidings of comfort and joy come to us in a person, a person who sowed both tears of joy and sadness himself. Jesus brings joy from tears and fills hearts with gladness at his coming. Weeping may last through the night, but joy indeed comes in the morning.

Margaret Manning is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Seattle, Washington.

(1) Talitha Arnold, Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary, Ed. David Lyon Bartlett (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008), 60.

(2) Ibid.

 

Alistair Begg – Wonder of Wonders

Alistair Begg

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.’

John 7:37

Patience had her perfect work in the Lord Jesus, and until the last day of the feast He pleaded with the Jews, even as on this last day of the year He pleads with us and waits to be gracious to us. The long-suffering of the Savior is truly admirable as He bears with some of us year after year despite our insults, rebellions, and resistance to His Holy Spirit. Wonder of wonders that we are still in the land of mercy!

Mercy expressed herself most plainly, for Jesus “cried,” which implies not only the loudness of His voice, but the tenderness of His tones. He entreats us to be reconciled. “God making his appeal through us,” says the apostle, “we implore you on behalf of

Christ . . .” What earnest, pathetic terms are these! How deep the Father’s love that causes Him to weep over sinners and, like a mother, to tenderly call His children to Himself! Surely at the sound of such a cry our willing hearts will come.

Provision is made most generously: Everything that man needs to quench his soul’s thirst is available. To his conscience the Atonement brings peace; to his understanding the Gospel brings the richest instruction; to his heart the person of Jesus is the noblest object of affection; to the whole man the truth as it is in Jesus supplies the purest nourishment. Thirst is terrible, but Jesus can remove it. Even if the soul were utterly famished, Jesus can restore it.

Proclamation is made most freely, that every thirsty one is welcome. No other distinction is made but that of thirst. Whether it be the thirst of greed, ambition, pleasure, knowledge, or rest, he who suffers from it is invited. The thirst may be bad in itself, and not be a sign of grace, but a mark of inordinate sin that longs to satisfy itself with deeper lust; but it is not goodness in the creature that brings him the invitation-the Lord Jesus sends it freely and without respect of persons.

Personality is declared most fully. The sinner must come to Jesus-not to works, ordinances, or doctrines but to a personal Redeemer who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree. The bleeding, dying, rising Savior is the only ray of hope to a sinner. Oh, for grace to come now and drink, before the sun sets upon the year’s last day!

No waiting or preparation is even hinted at. Drinking represents a reception that has no special requirements. A fool, a thief, a harlot can drink; our sinfulness is no barrier to the invitation to believe in Jesus. We need no golden cup, no fine china, in which to convey the water to the thirsty; the mouth of poverty is welcome to stoop down and drink of the life-giving stream. Blistered, leprous, filthy lips may touch the stream of divine love; they cannot pollute it but will themselves be purified. Jesus is the fount of hope. Dear reader, listen to the dear Redeemer’s loving voice as He cries to each of us, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.”

 

Charles Spurgeon – Watch-night Service

CharlesSpurgeon

“Arise, cry out in the night: in the beginning of the watches pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord.” Lamentations 2:19

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 90:1-12 (an exposition of which was given earlier in the service)

Dear friends, may grace be given unto you, that ye may be able to pour out your hearts this night! Remember, my hearers, it may seem a light thing for us to assemble tonight at such an hour, but listen for one moment to the ticking of that clock!…… It is the beating of the pulse of eternity. You hear the ticking of that clock!—It is the footstep of death pursuing you. Each time the clock ticks, death’s footsteps are falling on the ground close behind you. You will soon enter another year. This year will have gone in a few seconds. 1855 is almost gone; where will the next year be spent, my friends? One has been spent on earth; where will you spend the next? “In heaven!” says one, “I trust.” Another murmurs, “Perhaps I shall spend mine in hell!” Ah! Solemn is the thought, but before that clock strikes twelve, some here may be in hell; and, blessed be the name of God, some of us may be in heaven! But oh do you know how to estimate your time, my hearers? Do you know how to measure your days? Oh! I have not words to speak tonight. Do you know that every hour you are nearing the tomb? That every hour you are nearing judgment? That the archangel is flapping his wings every second of your life, and, trumpet at his mouth, is approaching you? That you do not live stationary lives, but always going on, on, on, towards the grave? Do you know where the stream of life is hastening some of you? To the rapids—to the rapids of woe and destruction! What shall the end of those be who obey not the gospel of God? You will not have so many years to live as you had last year!

For meditation: The march of time is a terrible enemy to all who persist in unbelief, but the Christian sees things differently—“now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand” (Romans 13:11-12).

Spurgeon must have the last word: “Now, my friends, in the highest and best sense, I wish you all a happy New Year.”

Sermon no. 59

31 December (1855)

 

 

John MacArthur – Our Sympathetic High Priest

John MacArthur

“Assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted” (Heb. 2:16-18).

In his letters to Timothy, Paul counseled and encouraged his young associate about many things–his health, his critics, his moral and spiritual warfare. His counsel is well summed up in these words: “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David” (2 Tim. 2:8).

Like Timothy, we need to be reminded of Christ’s humanity, especially when life becomes particularly tough. Then we can pray, “Lord, You know what You endured while You were here. I’m going through it now.” We can be sure He knows and will encourage us.

Jesus came not only to save us but also to sympathize with us. He experienced what we experience so He could be a “merciful and faithful high priest.” After all, “we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).

Jesus felt everything we will ever feel–and more. Most of us will never know the full degree of any given temptation because we usually succumb long before we reach it. But since Jesus never sinned, He took the full measure of every temptation.

Ours is not a cosmic God, powerful and holy, but indifferent. He knows when we hurt, where we are weak, and how we are tempted. Jesus is not just our Savior, but our loving Lord who sympathizes with us. Rejoice in the greatness of His love for us.

Suggestion for Prayer:

Ask God to remind you of your need of Him at all times, not just when times are tough.

For Future Study:

Memorize 1 Corinthians 10:13 for quick recall whenever you are faced with any trial.

Joyce Meyer – Peace to You

Joyce meyer

Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]

—John 14:27

Just before He was to go to the cross, Jesus told His disciples He was leaving them a gift—His peace. After His resurrection, He appeared to them again, and the first thing He said to them was, Peace to you (See John 20:19)! To prove to them who He was, He showed them His hands and His side and then said to them once more, Peace to you (v. 21)! Eight days later, He again appeared to them, and again His first words to them were, Peace to you (v.26)!

Obviously Jesus intends for His followers to live in peace despite what may be going on around them at the time. What He was saying to His disciples—and to us—is simply, “Stop allowing yourselves to be anxious, worried, and upset.”

In Psalm 42:5, the psalmist asks, Why are you cast down, O my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, my help and my God.

When we begin to become worried, upset, cast down or disquieted within, we need to hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, Who is our Help and our God.

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – A Solid Foundation

dr_bright

“All who listen to My instructions and follow them are wise, like a man who builds his house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents, and the floods rise and the storm winds beat against his house, it won’t collapse, for it is built on rock. But those who hear My instructions and ignore them are foolish, like a man who builds his house on sand. For when the rains and floods come, and storm winds beat against his house, it will fall with a mighty crash” (Matthew 7:24-27).

What a wonderful promise for supernatural living to know that no matter what happens – the greatest tragedies, adversities or losses – your house will stand. You will not only survive, but mature, grow and become more like Jesus.

As you listen to and follow His instructions, you will observe that He has been speaking to the multitudes in what is frequently referred to as the Sermon on the Mount. Review chapters 5, 6 and 7 of Matthew. List all the things that He commands us to do, and then by faith claim those instructions in your life. For there is nothing that God ever commands that He will not enable us to do if we seek His help.

Remember, too, His promise recorded in Matthew 22:37-40, that all of the commandments in the sermon on the Mount are fulfilled when we love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, and when we love our neighbor as ourselves. So the instructions that He is giving are not difficult, for He who gives the command will enable us to build on a sure foundation of solid rock.

Note, however, the admonishment for those who ignore His instructions. For those foolish people who build their houses on sand, collapse of those houses is the certain consequence. One need only look around to see evidence of the fulfillment of God’s warning in the lives of numerous loved ones, neighbors and friends. God loves us, and He wants to bless us, but He cannot if we ignore Him.

Are you following the instructions of the Lord Jesus Christ? If not, I encourage you to begin today, with the assurance that He will bless you, your family and all who are dear to you.

Bible Reading: 1 John 2:3-9

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will meditate upon our Lord’s instructions as contained in the Sermon on the Mount, as well as the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule. I will meditate upon 1 Corinthians 13 and other commandments of our Lord on love. Through the enabling of the Holy Spirit, I will obey His instructions for supernatural living.

Presidential Prayer Team; J.K.-Conscious Reliance

ppt_seal01

Each of you is prompted in your life by some distinct principle or passion. It affects how you contend with good things as well as bad. The tendency of each person is to live in themselves, to act in their own strength and to work toward selfish motives.

Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Colossians 3:17

But Christians can find the holiest and purest motives only in Jesus. Out of love for Him and respect to His authority, selfishness is pushed aside. Jesus provided a noble example of moral excellence in life, obeying His Father’s will even to death. Today’s verse encourages you to recognize Christ in everything…in your work, conversation, public worship, private prayer and in all matters related to your home and family – everything!

To live your life fully is to depend absolutely on Jesus at all times. He is God’s greatest gift to you. Full, conscious reliance on Him helps you be humble in successes, encouraged in perplexities, and uplifted in your grief. Dear one, take His example to heart in the coming year. Then intercede for the leaders of this nation that they accept God’s gift in 2014 so their motives will not be selfish but Christ-centered.

Recommended Reading: Colossians 3:5-16  Click to Read or Listen

 

 

 

Greg Laurie – A Legacy that Lasts

greglaurie

So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. —Colossians 1:28

In his book, Nearing Home, Billy Graham said, “God doesn’t want us to waste our latter years or spend them in superficial, meaningless pursuits. Instead, He wants us to use them in whatever ways we can to influence those who will come after us. God wants us to finish well. . . .”

One day, your most precious possessions will fit inside a hospital drawer. You will leave it all behind and will enter into eternity. What kind of legacy will you leave? If you are a Christian, are you seeking to win people to Christ? Are you helping anyone to get on their feet spiritually, grow, and continue on to serve the Lord?

Someone did this for me. I accepted Christ during a meeting at my high school, but afterward, I was sort of left all alone, wondering what I was supposed to do. But then God brought along someone named Mark. He introduced himself and told me that he wanted to take me to church and that I needed to go to church if I wanted to grow spiritually. He was persistent in a good way. He brought me to church again and again. Mark showed up at a critical moment in my life. If he hadn’t, I tremble to think of where I would have ended up. He was just some regular guy who had a concern for me and took time with me.

You can be that regular person for someone else. Are you doing that? If not, will you start?

You can’t really control when God will call you home. That is not up to you. You don’t determine the date of your birth or the date of your death. But you have everything to do with what you do between those dates. So finish well.

Max Lucado – No Harm Done

Max Lucado

Insensitivity makes a wound that heals slowly!

Words like, “Whoa–she’s put on some weight!” Or a question carelessly asked, “Trish, is it true you and Brian are separated?”

If you were to tell the one who threw these thoughtless darts about the pain they caused, the response would be, “Oh, but I had no intention. . . it was just a slip of the tongue.”  No one’s at fault.  No harm done.

But as the innocent attackers go on their way excusing themselves, a wounded soul is left in the dust.  God says, “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin” (Proverbs 13:3).

The message is clear.  Excuses are shallow when they come from those who claim to be followers and imitators of God. Insensitive slurs may be accidental—but they’re not excusable!

From God Came Near

 

Charles Stanley – Putting Off Procrastination

Charles Stanley

Acts 24:24-27

Some people like to say that they are “born procrastinators.” According to Scripture, that is impossible for believers. Procrastination can be a form of bondage in a person’s life, and the Lord, who wants the best for His followers, didn’t design us to be enslaved.

Procrastination has several common causes. The first is an attempt to dodge discomfort. Many people put off taking action because they feel uncomfortable or anxious about the ramifications. In today’s passage, Felix sends Paul away, fearing the apostle’s talk about righteousness, self-control, and judgment.

This can show up in our spiritual life— we sometimes delay Bible reading and meditating because we are afraid God will bring to the surface a matter we need to confront. Then, if such a subject comes up, we often choose to procrastinate about dealing with it. Issues like pride, self-control, or guilt may not be comfortable to face, but dodging them obstructs God’s purpose in our life.

The second cause for putting things off is self-doubt. Those who consider themselves inadequate to complete a task may choose not to begin it. Related to this is another factor: fear of making a mistake or failing in an endeavor can make postponement seem preferable.

Procrastination is no laughing matter, particularly in the spiritual realm since delaying on an assignment from God is the same as disobeying Him. Are you prone to delay? Identify problem areas and the feelings that accompany them. Then confess your tendency, and rely on God’s strength to overcome it.

 

Our Daily Bread — Mixed Emotions

Our Daily Bread

Revelation 21:1-7

Even in laughter the heart may sorrow, and the end of mirth may be grief. —Proverbs 14:13

For Marlene and me, “mixed emotions” precisely describes our wedding. Don’t take that the wrong way. It was a wonderful event that we continue to celebrate more than 35 years later. The wedding celebration, however, was dampened because Marlene’s mom died of cancer just weeks before. Marlene’s aunt was a wonderful stand-in as the “mother of the bride,” but, in the midst of our happiness, something clearly wasn’t right. Mom was missing, and that affected everything.

That experience typifies life in a broken world. Our experiences here are a mixed bag of good and bad, joy and pain—a reality that Solomon expressed when he wrote, “Even in laughter the heart may sorrow, and the end of mirth may be grief” (Prov. 14:13). The merry heart often does grieve, for that is what this life sometimes demands.

Thankfully, however, this life is not all there is. And in the life that is to come, those who know Christ have a promise: “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4). In that great day, there will be no mixed emotions—only hearts filled with the presence of God! —Bill Crowder

Peace! peace! wonderful peace,

Coming down from the Father above,

Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray,

In fathomless billows of love. —Cornell

For the Christian, the dark sorrows of earth will one day be changed into the bright songs of heaven.

Bible in a year: Zechariah 13-14; Revelation 21

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Reasonable Christmas

Ravi Z

“Miracles,” said my friend. “Oh, come. Science has knocked the bottom out of all that. We know now that Nature is governed by fixed laws.”

“Didn’t people always know that?” I said.

“Good Lord, no,” he said. “For instance, take a story like the Virgin Birth. We know now that such a thing couldn’t happen.”

“But look here,” I said. “St Joseph, the husband of the Virgin Mary; if you’ll read the story in the Bible you’ll find that when he saw his fiancée was going to have a baby he decided to cry off the marriage. Why did he do that?”

“Wouldn’t most men?”

“Any man would,” I said, “provided he knew the laws of Nature—provided he knew that a girl doesn’t ordinarily have a baby unless she’s been sleeping with a man. St Joseph knew that law just as well as you do.”(1)

It’s not difficult to find any number of people who have trouble with the nativity scene at the heart of the Christmas story. According to the Barna Research group even Christians are struggling with the virgin birth at the center of their own faith tradition. More than fifteen percent of Christians in the United States admit not believing in the virgin birth, a statistic readily increasing.

Across continents, atheist campaigns ask the world each year to admit over its primitive nativity scenes that we know it is only a myth or to celebrate reason instead this season. The battle they propose (and the compliant perpetuate) between science and faith describes something like two opposing swordsmen sworn to fight to the death. Though it is an image supported at times by both sides of the fight, it is at best a blind spot in the minds of many and at worse a wishful delusion.

In his 1945 essay “Religion and Science,” which begins with the conversation above, C.S. Lewis exposed one of the most common false assumptions at the heart of the science/faith divide, particularly as it pertains to the nativity of Jesus. The assumption is that this “primitive” nativity was likewise filled with primitive thinkers devoid of any sort of knowledge of biology or natural reasoning. Here and elsewhere, Lewis saw that we hold our scientific advancements as something like demerits for prior generations, perpetuating the mentality that the only accurate thought is current thought, the only mind worth trusting is an enlightened one—of which we, of course, are conveniently members.

Yet, Joseph knew enough about the laws of nature to at first conclude the infidelity of his fiancée. He knew that babies and pregnancies did not appear on their own and thus intended to divorce Mary quietly, until something changed his mind. The disciples, too, knew enough about the laws of physics to be completely terrified by the man walking on the water toward their boat. The crowd of mourners knew enough about death to laugh at Jesus when he insisted that the dead girl was only sleeping, and to walk away astonished when she came back to life. There were also the magi, astrologers who followed their scientific calculations to the child, Philip and Andrew who knew that the mathematics of two fish and a starving crowd were not going to divide well, Mary and Martha who knew that their brother’s death was the last word, and Thomas who knew the same after he watched Jesus crucified.

In each of these objections, I thankfully hear my own. So much so, that it would appear faith is not a turning of one’s back on the fixed laws of nature or physics or mathematics, but rather, a recognition in the very face of these laws which we know and trust that something from outside the law must have reached into the picture. I find each of these scenes both remarkable and reasonable precisely because of the reactions of men and women with a grasp of natural law and the same objections that any of us would have offered had we been present. It would be blind faith indeed if we were receiving a story that wanted us at the onset to fully reject the laws of natural reasoning in replacement of something else. What we receive instead is a story filled with undeniable indications which suggest that something—or Someone—has startlingly stepped into the picture.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) C.S. Lewis, “Religion and Science,” Undeceptions (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1971), 48.

Alistair Begg – Anticipate the End

Alistair Begg

Better is the end of a thing than its beginning.

Ecclesiastes 7:8

Look at David’s Lord and Master; consider His beginning. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Then look at the end! He sits at His Father’s right hand, waiting until His enemies are made his footstool. “As he is so we are also in this world.”1 You must bear the cross or you will never wear the crown; you must wade through the water or you will never walk the golden pavement.

Cheer up, then, poor Christian. “Better is the end of a thing than its beginning.” View the creeping worm-how contemptible its appearance! It is the beginning of a thing. Mark that insect with gorgeous wings, playing in the sunbeams, sipping at the flowers, full of happiness and life-that is the worm’s end. You are that caterpillar, wrapped up in the chrysalis of death; but when Christ appears, you will be like Him, for you will see Him as He is.

Be content to be like Him, a worm and no man, so that like Him you may be satisfied when you wake up in His likeness. The rough-looking diamond is put upon the wheel of the gem-smith. He cuts it on all sides. It loses much-much that seemed costly to itself. The king is crowned; the diadem is put upon the monarch’s head accompanied by the trumpet’s joyful sound. A glittering ray flashes from that coronet, and it beams from that same diamond that was so recently fashioned at the wheel.

You may venture to compare yourself to such a diamond, for you are one of God’s people; and this is the time of the cutting process. Let faith and patience have their perfect work, for in the day when the crown is set upon the head of the King, eternal, immortal, invisible, one ray of glory shall stream from you. “They shall be mine, says the LORD of Hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession.”2 “Better is the end of a thing than its beginning.”

1 1 John 4:17 2 Malachi 3:17

Charles Spurgeon – Canaan on earth

CharlesSpurgeon

“For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs: But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven: A land which the Lord thy God careth for: the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year, even unto the end of the year.” Deuteronomy 11:10-12

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 139:1-12

We have come now, beloved, to the end of another year—to the threshold of another period of time, and have marched another year’s journey through the wilderness. Come, now! In reading this verse over, can you say Amen to it? “The eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon you, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.” Some of you say, “I have had deep troubles this year.” “I have lost a friend,” says one. “Ah!” says another, “I have been impoverished this year.” “I have been slandered”, cries another. “I have been exceedingly vexed and grieved”, says another. “I have been persecuted,” says another. Well, beloved, take the year altogether—the ups and the downs, the troubles and the joys, the hills and the valleys altogether, and what have you to say about it? You may say, “Surely goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” Do not pick out one day in the year, and say it was a bad day, but take all the year round, let it revolve in all its grandeur. Judge between things that differ; and then what will you say? “Ah! Bless the Lord! He hath done all things well; my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!” And you know why all things have been well. It is because the eyes of the Lord have been upon you all the year.

For meditation: Are you glad that God sees you through and through every moment of your life? This should bring terror to the unbeliever (Hebrews 4:13) but great comfort to God’s people in the hour of distress (Genesis 16:13; Exodus 2:25).

Sermon no. 58

30 December (1855)

 

John MacArthur – Satan’s Conqueror

John MacArthur

“Since . . . the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Heb. 2:14-15).

To be free to live with God and share in all His blessings, someone had to shatter Satan’s death grip on us. Sin is what gives Satan his powerful hold on us, but the power itself is death.

Satan knew that God required death for us because of sin. He knew that all died in Adam–that death became a certain fact of life. And he knew that men, if they remained as they were, would die and go out of God’s presence into hell forever. So he wants to hang onto men until they die because once they are dead, the opportunity for salvation is gone forever.

To wrest the power of death from Satan’s hand, God sent Christ into the world. If you have a greater weapon than your enemy, then his weapon is useless. You can’t fight a machine gun with a bow and arrow. Satan’s weapon is death, but eternal life is God’s weapon, and with it Jesus destroyed death.

How was He able to do it? He rose again, proving He had conquered death. That’s why He said, “Because I live, you shall live also” (John 14:19). His resurrection provides the believer with eternal life.

Nothing terrifies people more than the fear of death. But when we receive Christ, death in reality holds no more fear for us since it simply releases us into the presence of our Lord. We can say with Paul, “To me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). Rejoice that you have placed your hand into the hand of the conqueror of death, who will lead you through death and out the other side.

Suggestion for Prayer:

Ask God to give you a greater realization that He has conquered death to help you live life more fully to His glory.

For Further Study:

Read 1 Corinthians 15:50-58. How are we to live our lives based on what we know about death?

 

Joyce Meyer – Truth in the Inner Being

Joyce meyer

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to the multitude of Your tender mercy and loving-kindness blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly [and repeatedly] from my iniquity and guilt and cleanse me and make me wholly pure from my sin! For I am conscious of my transgressions and I acknowledge them; my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned and done that which is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified in Your sentence and faultless in Your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in [a state of] iniquity; my mother was sinful who conceived me [and I too am sinful]. Behold, You desire truth in the inner being; make me therefore to know wisdom in my inmost heart.

—Psalm 51:1–6

The heading under this psalm reads: “A Psalm of David; when Nathan the prophet came to him after he had sinned with Bathsheba.” David cried out for mercy because he had sinned with Bathsheba, and when he learned she was pregnant, he had had her husband murdered in battle.

After David confessed his sin, Nathan said to him, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord and given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child that is born to you shall surely die” (2 Samuel 12:13–14).

That’s the first lesson I want you to grasp from this incident. When you fail God, you harm yourself, but you also bring dishonor to His name. Whenever you take a false step, there are those who watch and gleefully point their fingers. The two always go together. Not only do you bring disgrace on the name of the Lord, but you fail yourself. You knew the right but chose the wrong.

As if that were not enough, the evil one also whispers, “See how bad you are. God won’t forgive you. It’s too awful.” Of course, he’s lying, because that’s what he does best. Don’t listen to those words, because there is no sin you’ve committed that God won’t forgive. You may have to carry scars or pay the penalty, but God wipes away the sin.

There’s something else to learn from this: You need to face reality. You sinned. You disobeyed God. What will you do about your sin? You can plead excuses (and most of us are good at that), or you can follow David’s example. When the prophet said, “You are the man . . .” (2 Samuel 12:7), the king did not deny his wrongdoing or try to justify his actions. David admitted he had sinned and confessed.

He wrote in the psalm quoted earlier: “For I am conscious of my transgressions and I acknowledge them; my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned and done that which is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified in Your sentence and faultless in Your judgment” (vs. 3–4).

If you follow Jesus Christ, not only are you declaring to yourself, to your family, and to the world your trust in the Savior, but you are also declaring your stand for truth. It’s easy for us to deceive ourselves, but God has called us to be totally, completely, and scrupulously honest in our inner being. Don’t look at what others may get away with or how they justify their behavior. We can’t blame others, the devil, or circumstances.

When you fail, remind yourself that the greatest king of ¬Israel cried out to God and said, “My sin is ever before me” (v. 3). Those sins, failures, or shortcomings (or whatever you may choose to call them) will always be there until you admit them and confess them to the Lord; only then can you know the joy of living with integrity and in truth.

This is the message for you from this final meditation; this is the message of the entire book: Strive to live with truth in your inner being. You—you and God—are the only ones who know what’s in your heart. Live in honesty and truth.

Holy God, David prayed, “You desire truth in the inner being; make me therefore to know wisdom in my inmost heart.” Through Jesus Christ, I plead with You to help me desire truth in my inner being, to live in such a way that I’m as honest and as open with You as I can become. I know that the life You honor is the life You bless. Amen.

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – God Is a Loving God

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“If a child asks his father for a loaf of bread, will he be given a stone instead? If he asks for fish, will he be given a poisonous snake? Of course not! And if you hardhearted, sinful men know how to give good gifts to your children, won’t your Father in heaven even more certainly give good gifts to those who ask Him for them?” (Matthew 7:9).

Roger interrupted our Bible study on this passage of Scripture to say, “I guess I have trouble believing God is a good God because my earthly father was a tyrant. He hated me, and I hated him. I do not recall a single experience in my life where he encouraged me. I want to believe that God is good, but I have difficulty. Please help me.”

Unfortunately, there are multitudes of men and women who are relatively new Christians and who have come from similar backgrounds where there was no love, no compassion, no concern, and their view of God is therefore distorted. They somehow equate the loving, forgiving God with their own tyrannical fathers. When such is the case, only the Holy Spirit can heal these deep wounds and remove these scars. So, I assigned Roger a special project. I asked him to make a list of all the attributes and qualities of God recorded from Genesis to Revelation. The project lasted several months, but in the process a transformation took place in Roger’s life.

The day came when he exclaimed with great joy, “The Holy Spirit has illumined my mind and taught me that God is truly a loving God, worthy of my trust. Now I can believe Him for anything. I know that even if my father on earth was the best father ever, God’s love, compassion and care for me transcends anything that he could do for me. Therefore, I can ask Him for good gifts, knowing that He will hear and answer me. I want to live only for His glory for the rest of my life.”

Are you having difficulty trusting God because of an unfortunate early relationship with your father or mother? If so, I encourage you to do what Roger did. Saturate your mind with the attributes of God – His love, sovereignty, wisdom, grace, compassion, power and holiness. As you do, the Holy Spirit will use the Word of God to cleanse your mind of all the memories that weigh you down, and you will be able to say with Roger, “I can trust God for anything, because I know He is a loving God who cares for me.”

Bible Reading: 1 John 3:1-3

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will continue to meditate upon the attributes of God, knowing that the more I trust Him, the more sure I can be of His faithfulness to enable me to live a supernatural life for His glory.

 

 

Presidential Prayer Team; J.R. – Long Distance Jubilation

ppt_seal01

It happened on April 7, 1927…an almost unimaginable event. “Herbert Hoover made a speech in Washington yesterday afternoon,” wrote a dazzled New York Times reporter. “An audience in New York heard him and saw him. More than 200 miles of space intervening between the speaker and his audience was annihilated by the television apparatus developed by the Bell Laboratories.”

I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

Luke 15:10

Live television broadcasts – where events in one place are experienced simultaneously somewhere else – have become commonplace and no longer stir much excitement. But imagine this: a sinner comes to Christ, and jubilation erupts in Heaven! The space between Heaven and Earth is bridged in an instant, the powers of hell annihilated.

As the year draws to a close, you may be reflecting upon some missed opportunities, disappointments, or hurts caused by others. And, certainly, the spiritual trajectory of America has often been discouraging. But as you pray today, ask God to stir within you a newfound excitement and passion about what He might do, through you, in 2014. You can make no greater resolution than to share His love with those around you…and bring joy to the angels in Heaven.

Recommended Reading: Matthew 5:11-16  Click to Read or Listen