Charles Stanley – The Power Within

Charles Stanley

Acts 1:6-9

The pressure is on. At times it seems that the problems in our lives are multiplying, and there can be enormous temptation to choose ungodly solutions. If we are to make good decisions, we need divine power and wisdom. The way to obtain that, according to James 1:5, is to ask God, who longs to bestow it on all who have yielded to His plan.

Stop to consider the potential available and already residing within each believer. The Holy Spirit’s power—which we see in the work of Jesus Christ, who resisted the Devil’s temptations, raised Lazarus from the dead, and chose God’s will over His own (Luke 22:42)—produces Christlike character in us. It’s not something we can harness or turn on and off at will. Rather, the Spirit of God knows exactly when and how to utilize it in our life.

One of God’s primary uses for this power is to cultivate spiritual fruit in His followers (Gal. 5:22-23). Unbelievers are attracted to the light of Jesus within us when we demonstrate inner quietness and steadiness in the face of difficulty. They recognize Spirit-filled behavior is not the typical human reaction. When spiritual fruit is revealed in our lives, it is like shouting the message, “Jesus is real!”

Divine power gives us the authority as well as the spiritual energy needed to carry out God’s plan. The Holy Spirit releases His power so that our lives glorify the Father and demonstrate that God does rescue and transform people through His Son Jesus Christ. Won’t you yield to the Spirit’s control so that He may work dynamically in your life and circumstances?

 

Our Daily Bread — One Stretch

Our Daily Bread

1 John 2:24–3:3

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! —1 John 3:1

For years, Sarah had low-back pain that continued to worsen. Her doctor sent her for physical therapy, and she was given 25 stretches to do every day. The pain lessened but not completely. So the doctor ordered x-rays and sent her to another therapist, who instructed her to discontinue the other therapist’s stretches and do only one stretch a day as needed. Surprisingly, the one simple stretch worked the best.

Sometimes the simplest truths are the best. When asked to summarize in one sentence his whole life’s work in theology, Karl Barth responded: “Jesus loves me!” Some say he added, “This I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

God’s love for us is evident. He gave His Son to rescue us from ourselves. Christ died on the cross, taking our burden of sin. Then He rose again, giving us new life in Him. Amazing love! As John tells us: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1).

Jesus’ love for us isn’t a Band-Aid or a cure-all for all of life’s problems, of course. But it is the one truth we can always depend on to give purpose to life and peace with God. —Anne Cetas

I am so glad that our Father in heaven

Tells of His love in the Book He has given;

Wonderful things in the Bible I see—

This is the dearest, that Jesus loves me. —Bliss

The wonder of it all— just to think that Jesus loves me.

Bible in a year: Ezekiel 45-46; 1 John 2

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Waiting

Ravi Z

In the world of quirky factoids and interesting anecdotes, I have often heard that if one lives to be seventy years old, one will have spent three years of her life just waiting. Waiting in line at the grocery store; waiting in the doctor’s office; waiting in traffic; waiting for lunch to be ready; waiting for recess time at school; waiting. In his book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go, children’s author Theodor Geisel, or “Dr. Seuss,” describes a place called “the waiting place.” It sounds like the place most of us inhabit. He describes it as a useless place where people are just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go

or a bus to come, or a plane to go

or the mail to come, or the rain to go

or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow

or waiting around for a Yes or No

or waiting for their hair to grow.

Everyone is just waiting.

Sometimes waiting feels useless and futile. We are waiting around for what, exactly? More than this, waiting is difficult. It is difficult to have patience. It is something we admire in others, but find difficult for ourselves. Patience is something I can admire in the driver behind me, for example, but not in the one ahead of me!

The patience required by waiting is counterintuitive in our busy, fast-paced world. When our daily lives are made up of high speed Internet, instant messaging, and fast food, waiting for anything seems like an eternity. Moreover, in a world where so much beckons us, waiting asks us to be still and this can feel meaningless. English poet John Milton once wrote that those who serve stand and wait. Indeed, waiting asks us to be disciplined, self-controlled, and emotionally mature as the world speeds by us. Waiting requires an unshakeable faith, hope, and love that will trump all the action done for the sake of expediency. Waiting is often our best, hard work.

Waiting comprises a large part of the Christian worldview. But it is not the useless waiting of “the waiting place” that Dr. Seuss writes about, nor is it simply waiting for certain things or events, a trip or a raise, or even fulfillment. Christians await the return of Jesus in glory.

The season of Advent that precedes Christmas is a season of hope-filled waiting. Advent looks forward in anticipation of Christ’s return, but also remembers all those who awaited his arrival into our world more than two thousand years ago. Advent is a season of stillness and reflection and as such, it is the antithesis of all the busyness and chaos of the Christmas shopping season.

The consumer mentality overwhelms and demands a fever pitch of activity. Sadly, any waiting one might do is more likely waiting for Christmas to be over. And rather than being filled with hope and joy, we wait in a state of anxiety, or cynicism, or harried indifference toward the miracle that is upon us. In all of our busyness, we miss the gift of waiting with hope and expectation.

Yet, the Advent season extends an invitation to do just this: to watch and wait for the coming of the King, to wait for the Christ who comes in new ways into the very messy stuff of our lives—not just one season a year. But we cannot hope to catch a glimpse of him without the hard waiting for him to show up.

Of course, there are those who feel they have been waiting so long for God to show up in the messy details of their lives. Giving up on waiting seems to hold the promise of rest, as the work of waiting is wearisome. Just as there were those in the early days of the Christian movement who began to ask “Where is the promise of his coming?” and those who mocked the divine silence of inactivity, it is not difficult to understand how those who wait for answers—for an end to suffering, for reconciliation, for transformation—are tempted towards cynical despair.

Is there hope in remembering that Advent invites us to wait for the God who shows up? Can encouragement be found in the celebration of Christmas, a celebration proclaiming that God has come and that God will come again in the waiting of today? Is there reason to watch and wait for a God who arrives in ways we could not expect?

Advent invites the world to examine these things with courage. The very act of waiting opens eyes, hands, and hearts to receive this most precious gift.

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

 

Alistair Begg – Free from the Slightest Flaw

Alistair Begg

There is no flaw in you.

Song of Songs 4:7

Having pronounced His Church positively full of beauty, our Lord confirms His praise by a precious negative: “There is no flaw in you.” As if the thought occurred to the Bridegroom that the complaining world would insinuate that He had only highlighted her good parts and had purposely not mentioned those features that were deformed or defiled, in summary He declares her universally and entirely beautiful and utterly devoid of flaws.

A spot can easily be removed and is the very least thing that can disfigure beauty, but even from this little blemish the believer is delivered in his Lord’s sight. If He had said there is no hideous scar, no horrible deformity, no deadly ulcer, we might even then have marveled; but when He testifies that she is free from the slightest flaw, all these other forms of defilement are included, and the depth of wonder is increased.

If He had simply promised to remove all flaws later on, we would still have eternal reason for joy; but when He speaks of it as already done, it fills us with a deep sense of satisfaction and delight. My soul, here is spiritual food for you; digest it properly, and be satisfied with the royal provision.

Christ Jesus has no quarrel with His spouse. She often wanders from Him and grieves His Holy Spirit, but He does not allow her faults to affect His love.

He sometimes rebukes, but it is always in a tender manner, with the kindest of intentions: It is “my love” even then. There is no remembrance of our follies. He does not cherish ill thoughts of us, but He pardons and loves equally after the offense as before it.

If Jesus were as mindful of injuries as we are, how could He commune with us? Too often a believer will put himself out of humor with the Lord for some slight turn in providence, but our precious Husband knows our silly hearts too well to take any offense at our ill manners.

Charles Spurgeon – Consolation in Christ

CharlesSpurgeon

“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies.” Philippians 2:1

Suggested Further Reading: John 16:7-15

The Holy Spirit, during the present dispensation, is revealed to us as the Comforter. It is the Spirit’s business to console and cheer the hearts of God’s people. He does convince of sin; he does illuminate and instruct; but still the main part of his business lies in making glad the hearts of the renewed, in confirming the weak, and lifting up all those that be bowed down. Whatever the Holy Spirit may not be, he is evermore the Comforter to the church; and this age is peculiarly the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, in which Christ cheers us not by his personal presence, as he shall do by-and-by, but by the indwelling and constant abiding of the Holy Spirit the Comforter. Now, mark you, as the Holy Spirit is the Comforter, Christ is the comfort. The Holy Spirit consoles, but Christ is the consolation. If I may use the figure, the Holy Spirit is the Physician, but Christ is the medicine. He heals the wound, but it is by applying the holy ointment of Christ’s name and grace. He takes not of his own things, but of the things of Christ. We are not consoled today by new revelations, but by the old revelation explained, enforced, and lit up with new splendour by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit the Comforter. If we give to the Holy Spirit the Greek name of Paraclete, as we sometimes do, then our heart confers on our blessed Lord Jesus the title of the Paraclesis. If the one be the Comforter, the other is the comfort.

For meditation: Many of the errors taught about God the Holy Spirit would come to nothing if God’s people understood the Scriptural teaching on the relationships between the three persons of the Trinity. May the Holy Spirit help us to grow in the knowledge of the only true God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent (John 17:3).

Sermon no. 348

3 December (Preached 2 December 1860)

 

John MacArthur – Penetrating the Box

John MacArthur

“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son” (Heb. 1:1-2).

Since the beginning of time, man has deceived himself by thinking he can discover God through various religions. But in reality, man lives in a box enclosed within the walls of time and space. God is outside the box, and man senses He’s there but can’t get to Him. Each new religion is but another futile attempt to penetrate the walls of the box and catch a glimpse of God.

Man’s only hope is for God to enter the box, which Hebrews 1:1-2 declares He did: first by letter (the Old Testament), then in person (in Jesus Christ). Regarding God’s Word David said, “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue” (2 Sam. 23:2). Jeremiah added, “The Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me, ‘Behold, I have put My words in your mouth'” (Jer. 1:9). Of Christ, the apostle John said, “The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . . No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (John 1:14, 18).

The irony of people thinking they can discover God on their own is that apart from the Holy Spirit’s leading, no one really wants to find Him. They merely want to add a cosmic good luck charm to their lives or satiate their guilty consciences. Paul said, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God” (Rom. 3:10-11, emphasis added).

God could have left us in our sin and ignorance, but He penetrated the box and revealed everything we need to know for redemption and fellowship with Him. What a privilege we have to study His Word and live by its principles! Be diligent to do so each day.

Suggestion for Prayer:

Praise God for granting you the ability to appreciate His Word.

For Further Study:

Read 1 Corinthians 2:6-16, noting how natural (unregenerate) people respond to divine revelation.

 

 

Joyce Meyer – Don’t Leave God Out of the Loop

Joyce meyer

I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust!

—Psalm 91:2

When we are frustrated, it is often because we are trying to do something in our own strength, instead of putting our faith in God and receiving His grace and help. Let us learn to pray for what we would like to be changed, and then cast our care on God. If He leads you to take some kind of action, then do it; but if He doesn’t, then wait with peace.

I had to practice trusting God for a lot of things, but particularly finances. At one point in the beginning of my ministry, God asked me to trust Him to provide for my family financially without my working outside the home. I knew that I needed time to prepare for the ministry He had called me to. And working full-time in addition to being a wife and mother to three small children didn’t leave much time to prepare to be an international Bible teacher.

As an act of faith, and with my husband’s consent, I quit my job and began learning to trust God to provide for us. Dave had a good job, but his salary was forty dollars a month less than our bills. This meant we had to have a miracle from God every month.

I remember what a struggle it was to not go back to work—after all, I was a responsible woman and wanted to do my part. But I knew that God was asking me to keep preparing for the ministry He was calling me to and to trust Him for provision. Each month, He provided for our financial needs, and seeing His faithfulness was exciting, but I was accustomed to taking care of myself—all this “walking by faith” was crucifying my flesh big time.

Trusting God for the forty dollars a month we needed to pay our bills and for anything extra we needed was often difficult, but it helped us gain a strong foundation of faith that has helped us throughout our lives. I strongly encourage you to obey God and trust Him in every area of life. Each victory you have will increase your faith for the next challenge you face.

Trust in Him: Little faith can become great faith when we see the faithfulness of God as He meets our needs. You can become a person who enjoys great peace by trusting God.

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Recipe for Growth

dr_bright

“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2, KJV).

Sam was very impatient with himself. Though he was a new Christian, he could not understand why he was not as spiritual as some of the other students who had walked with the Lord for several years.

I explained to him the Christian life, like physical life, involves a process of growth. A person begins as a baby and goes through various stages of childhood, adolescence and young adulthood to reach Christian maturity. Very few, if any, Christians, I explained to him, become spiritually mature overnight.

Lane Adams, a beloved colleague, gifted teacher, preacher and author, said, “I shrink inside when I think of the times I have mounted the pulpit, recited the conversion experience of the apostle Paul, and then indicated that he went out and turned the world upside down for Jesus Christ immediately.”

He continued, “This simply was not the case. There is a difference of opinion among scholars concerning New Testament dating, but it seems rather plain that many years went by before the Holy Spirit laid the dramatic burden on Paul as a missionary of the cross.”

If you strongly desire to serve the Lord in some particular way, such as teaching, ask the Holy Spirit in faith to empower you to become an effective teacher. Now, it may be that the Holy Spirit will see fit to make you a great teacher overnight, but this is most unlikely. So if it does not happen, do not be discouraged. Have faith!

Continue to ask and believe that the Holy Spirit will make you an effective teacher of the Word of God and be willing to work hardand long to develop your natural ability. The Bible reminds us that “faith without works is useless.”

If we are unique members of the Body of Christ, and we are, if we possess special tasks to accomplish, and we do, then the Holy Spirit will empower us to carry out those tasks. God does indeed have a plan for each of our lives. And He gives us the direction and power of His Holy Spirit to accomplish that plan as we continue to trust and obey Him.

Bible Reading: 2 Peter 3:14-18

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Recognizing that I am in the process of maturing spiritually, I shall seek to accelerate my spiritual growth by hiding the Word of God in my heart, spending time in prayer, walking in the Spirit and sharing my faith in Christ with others as a way of life.

 

Presidential Prayer Team; J.K.- Called to Give

ppt_seal01

In the first days of the early church, there was an emergency in the Christian community, and Stephen, “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit,” was called to be one of seven to direct assistance for the needy (Acts 6:2-6). It was an unexpected task that Stephen readily accepted. His willingness gave the apostles time to pray and preach, as God had called them to do, so that the church of believers would grow…both in number and in spiritual maturity.

The word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly.

Acts 6:7

Growing in faith happens as the Holy Spirit communicates God’s truth through Scripture. As Bible commentator Lawrence Richards writes, “The Word of God is a living and active power, a timeless moment at which, in our own time and space, we can meet the living God personally…It is content, giving shape and form to reality, and it is confrontation, the moment of meeting God that calls for our personal response of faith.”

The only gift that counts this Christmas is one you are called to give – God’s truth and saving grace through His Word and your Savior. Pray for this nation, that its people will see His love for them through you…and accept Him.

Recommended Reading: II Corinthians 5:14-21

 

Greg Laurie – The Message of Christmas

greglaurie

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. —John 3:16

When I was a kid, I always wanted a family but never had one. I remember one Christmas with my mom when we were living in a hotel. I got up on Christmas morning, excited about opening my presents, but she was passed out from a night of drinking. I looked around and thought, It has got to get better than this.

I believed that Christmas spoke of something greater. What Christmas really speaks of is what we can have in a relationship with Jesus Christ. The primary message of Christmas is that God came to us: ” ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us’ ” (Matthew 1:23).

The message of Christmas is not “Let it snow”; it is “Let us worship” because God is with us. The first Christmas gifts were not from the wise men to the Child. Rather, the first gift of Christmas was the gift of Jesus Christ from God to us: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

The message of Christmas means this: You will never be alone in life again. Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23). That is an amazing statement. God the Father and God the Son are saying they want to make their home with you and me.

Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). That is a promise to all people. Why? Because of Immanuel—God is with us.

 

Max Lucado – Your Share of Sighing

Max Lucado

No doubt you’ve done your share of sighing. If you have teenagers, you’ve sighed. If you’ve had your motives questioned or your best acts of love rejected, you’ve been forced to take a deep breath and let escape a painful sigh!

I realize there’s a sigh of relief, a sigh of expectancy, even a sigh of joy.  The apostle Paul spoke of this sighing. He said that Christians will sigh as long as we’re on earth and long for heaven. All these sighs come from the same anxiety; a recognition of pain never intended, or of hope deferred. Man was not created to be separated from his creator; hence he sighs, longing for home.

And God sighs, he groans for his people. He groans for the day when all sighs will cease, when what was intended to be—will be!

From God Came Near