Charles Stanley – Good Man or God?

Charles Stanley

John 5:16-29

Jesus has been a subject of contention throughout human history. Even today opinions about Him vary widely. One common belief about Him, however, is that He was a good man—but not God. Those who hold this view usually appreciate some of His teachings, but they are obviously not familiar with His claims.

The religious leaders who came face to face with Christ would never have called Him a good man. In their eyes, anyone who claimed to be God was a liar and imposter. Just look at some of His amazing statements from John 5:

• Jesus referred to God as His Father, making Himself equal with God (v. 18).

• He declared that He did the same works as the Father (v. 19).

• Christ said He would raise the dead to life with just His voice (v. 28-29).

• He claimed that the Father had given Him all authority to judge (v. 22).

• Jesus demanded equal honor with God (v. 23).

• He promised to give eternal life to those who believe in Him (v. 24).

A “good” man wouldn’t make these statements unless they were true. If Jesus were just a man, His death on the cross would be of no benefit to anyone. But if His claims to be God’s Son are true, your salvation depends upon believing in Him.

Anyone who is serious about finding out who Jesus is must consider His claims. It’s a matter of eternal life or death. No one who denies His deity will enter heaven, because He is the only way to the Father (14:6) Now is the time to believe—not when you stand before Him at the judgment.

 

Our Daily Bread — A New Force

Our Daily Bread

Luke 2:25-35

My eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples. —Luke 2:30-31

When Matteo Ricci went to China in the 16th century, he took samples of religious art to illustrate the Christian story for people who had never heard it. They readily accepted portraits of Mary holding the baby Jesus, but when he produced paintings of the crucifixion and tried to explain that the God-child had come to be executed, his audience reacted with revulsion and horror. They couldn’t worship a crucified God.

As I thumb through my Christmas cards, I realize that we do much the same thing. In our celebrations and observances, we may not think about how the story that began at Bethlehem turned out at Calvary.

In Luke’s account of the Christmas story, only one person—the old man Simeon—seems to grasp the mysterious nature of what God has set in motion. “This Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against,” he told Mary, and then he made the prediction that a sword would pierce her own soul (2:34-35).

Simeon knew that though on the surface little had changed—Herod still ruled, Roman troops still occupied Israel—underneath, everything had changed. God’s promised redemption had arrived. —Philip Yancey

From ‘The Jesus I Never Knew’, by Philip D. Yancey. © 1995 Zondervan. Published by permission

One day they led Him up Calvary’s mountain,

One day they nailed Him to die on the tree;

Suffering anguish, despised and rejected,

Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He!

—J. Wilbur Chapman © Renewal 1938. The Rodeheaver Company

The cradle without the cross misses the true meaning of Christ’s birth.

Bible in a year: Joel 1-3; Revelation 5

 

 

Alistair Begg – From Strength to Strength

Alistair Begg

They go from strength to strength.

Psalms 84:7

They go from strength to strength.” There are various renderings of these words, but all of them contain the idea of progress. “They go from strength to strength.” That is, they grow stronger and stronger. Usually, if we are walking we go from strength to weakness; we start fresh and in good order for our journey, but by and by the road is rough, and the sun is hot; so we sit down by the wayside and then resume our weary way.

But the Christian pilgrim, having obtained fresh supplies of grace, is as vigorous after years of weary travel and struggle as when he first set out. He may not be quite so elated and buoyant, nor perhaps quite so hot and hasty in his zeal as he once was, but he is much stronger in all that constitutes real power; and if he travels more slowly, he does so more surely.

Some gray-haired veterans have been as firm in their grasp of truth and as zealous in spreading it as they were in their younger days. But sadly, it must be confessed it is often otherwise, for the love of many grows cold, and iniquity flourishes; but this is their own sin and not the fault of the promise, which still holds good: “Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”1

Fretful spirits sit down and trouble themselves about the future. “Unfortunately,” they say, “we go from affliction to affliction.” Very true, O you of little faith; but you go from strength to strength also. You will never find a bundle of affliction that does not have in it somewhere sufficient grace. God will give the strength of ripe maturity along with the burden allotted to full-grown shoulders.

1 Isaiah 40:30-31

 

Charles Spurgeon – Faith

CharlesSpurgeon

“Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Hebrews 11:6

Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 3:12-4: 2

I may know a thing, and yet not believe it. Therefore assent must go with faith: that is to say, what we know we must also agree with, as being most certainly the will of God. Now, with faith, it is necessary that I should not only read the Scriptures and understand them, but that I should receive them in my soul as being the very truth of the living God, and should devoutly, with my whole heart, receive the whole of Scripture as being inspired of the most High, and the whole of the doctrine which he requires me to believe for my salvation. You are not allowed to divide the Scriptures, and to believe what you please; you are not allowed to believe the Scriptures with a half-heartedness, for if you do this wilfully, you have not the faith which looks alone to Christ. True faith gives its full assent to the Scriptures; it takes a page and says, “No matter what is in the page, I believe it;” it turns over the next chapter and says, “Here are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable do ignore, as they do also the other Scriptures, to their destruction; but hard though it be, I believe it.” It sees the Trinity; it cannot understand the Trinity in Unity, but it believes it. It sees an atoning sacrifice; there is something difficult in the thought, but it believes it; and whatever it be which it sees in revelation, it devoutly puts its lips to the book, and says, “I love it all; I give my full, free and hearty assent to every word of it, whether it be the threatening or the promise, the proverb, the precept, or the blessing. I believe that since it is all the word of God it is all most assuredly true.”

For meditation: Faith enables us to accept much which we cannot explain—“Through faith we understand” (Hebrews 11:3): “Believing is seeing”. Nothing else can fill the gap left by a lack of faith.

Sermon no. 107

14 December (1856)

 

John MacArthur – Christ’s Superior Nature

John MacArthur

“Of the angels He says, ‘Who makes His angels winds, and His ministers a flame of fire.’ But of the Son He says, ‘Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever'” (Heb. 1:7-8).

People today who claim that Jesus was just a man, an angel, a prophet, or some inferior god are in error and bring upon themselves the curse of God. The Bible, and especially the writer of Hebrews, are clear about who Christ is.

First, the writer deals with the nature of angels when he says, “Who makes His angels winds, and His ministers a flame of fire.” “Makes” simply means “to create.” The antecedent of “who” is Christ. Therefore it is obvious that Christ created the angels.

They are also His possession: “His angels.” They are His created servants, who do not operate on their own initiative, but on the direction of Christ.

But the greatest difference between the nature of angels and Christ is that He is the eternal God. The Father says to the Son, “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.” That is one of the most powerful, clear, emphatic, and irrefutable proofs of the deity of Christ in Scripture.

Jesus throughout His ministry claimed equality with God. He said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). The apostle John closed his first epistle by saying, “We know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).

God the Son came to help us understand that God is truth and that Christ Himself is the true God. Our faith is based on the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Suggestion for Prayer:

Ask God to give you a greater understanding of the reality that Jesus is in fact God.

For Further Study:

Read John 1:1-18 and mark the verses that define Christ’s relationship to God. If an unbeliever were to ask you what that passage means, how would you answer him or her?

 

 

Joyce Meyer – God’s Vision for You

Joyce meyer

For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.

—Jeremiah 29:11

God’s plan for the people of the nation of Israel was only for their good. Yet they wandered around in the wilderness for forty years on what was actually an eleven-day journey. Why? Was it their enemies, their circumstances, the trials along the way, or something entirely different that prevented them from arriving at their destination in a timely manner?

God called the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt to go to the land He had promised to give them as a perpetual inheritance—a land that flowed with milk and honey and every good thing they could imagine—a land in which there would be no shortage of anything they needed—a land of prosperity in every realm of their existence.

But the Israelites had no positive vision for their lives—no dreams. They knew where they came from, but they did not know where they were going. Everything was based on what they had seen in the past or what they could presently see. They did not know how to see with “the eye of faith.”

We really shouldn’t view the Israelites with astonishment, because most of us do the same thing they did. We keep dealing with the same problems over and over again. The disappointing result is that it takes us years to experience victory over something that could have and should have been dealt with quickly.

I come from a background of abuse. My childhood was filled with fear and torment, and my personality was a mess! I built up walls of protection to keep people from hurting me, not realizing that while I was locking others out, I was also locking myself in. I was filled with fear, and believed that the only way I could face life was to be in control so no one could hurt me.

As a young adult trying to live for Christ and follow the Christian lifestyle, I knew where I had come from, but I did not know where I was going. I felt that my future would always be marred by my past. I thought, How could anyone with a past like mine ever be all right? It’s impossible!

But Jesus had a different plan. He said, “The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon Me . . . to preach the good news (the Gospel) to the poor; He has sent Me to announce release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth as delivered those who are oppressed [who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity]” (Luke 4:18).

Jesus came to open the prison doors and set the captives free—and that included me. However, I did not make any progress until I started to believe that I really could be set free. I had to get rid of my negative thinking and replace it with a positive vision for my life. I had to believe that neither my past nor my present could determine my future. Only then could Jesus free me from the bondage of my past—and free me, He did. What a marvelous miracle!

You may have had a miserable past; you may even be in current circumstances that are very negative and depressing. You may be facing situations that are so bad it seems you have no real reason to hope. But I say to you boldly: Your future is not determined by your past or your present!

Most of the generation the Lord called out of Egypt never entered into the Promised Land. Instead, they died in the wilderness. To me, this is one of the saddest things that can happen to a child of God—to have so much available and yet never be able to enjoy any of it.

Start believing that God’s Word is true. Mark 9:23 assures you that with God all things are possible. Because you serve a God who created everything you see out of the unseen realm (see Hebrews 11:3), you can give Him your nothingness and watch Him go to work on your behalf. All you have to do is have faith in Him and believe His Word—He will do the rest!

Dear Father, I thank You for loving me and having a vision—a good plan—for my life. I pray that You will help me overcome any negative thoughts of problems, past or present, that come against my mind, and make my life what You want it to be. Amen.

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Quick and Powerful

dr_bright

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12, KJV).

Often, what you and I have to say may seem weak and insipid. But then we have the clear promise that it really will accomplish something, for it has several characteristics that guarantee such results.

First, the holy inspired Word of God is impregnated with the power of the Holy Spirit and is quick-living. It is energetic and active – not dead, inert or powerless.

Second, the Word is powerful. Its mighty power awakens the conscience, reveals our fears, bares the secret feelings of the heart and causes the sinner to tremble at the threat of impending judgement.

Third, the Word is sharp-sharper than a two-edged sword. The Word has power to penetrate. It reaches the heart, laying open our motives and feelings.

Fourth, the Word pierces-penetrates.

Fifth, the Word discerns-shows what our thoughts and intentions are. Men see their real character in the mirror of God’s Word.

Those are some of the reasons for choosing to use the Word of God in every possible situation, allowing it to be its own best defense. God’s Word will never return unto Him void.

Bible Reading: Psalm 1

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will make more use of the sword, the Word of God, as I draw upon God’s power to live supernaturally.

 

Presidential Prayer Team; A.W. – The Source of Blessings

ppt_seal01

On March 30, 1863, Abraham Lincoln called the nation to recognize their source of salvation and blessings by proclaiming a national day of fasting and prayer. In his speech, he said, “We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God…we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.”

This is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.

Ephesians 2:8

In today’s scripture, Paul taught the Ephesians the source of salvation, saying it is the work of a gracious and loving God for which He deserves recognition and praise.

During the hectic holiday season, why not proclaim your own day of prayer and fasting to remember your every blessing – including the greatest one of all, the ability to be freely saved by grace. Pray, too, for the country’s leaders to realize and remind the nation, as Lincoln did, that God is the source of true national prosperity and peace.

Recommended Reading: Romans 5:12-21

 

 

 

Greg Laurie – The “Unsung Hero” of the Christmas Story

greglaurie

When you set up your nativity set for the Christmas season, one of the figures that is often not noticed, or is put off to one side, is Joseph.

Joseph is not featured in many Christmas songs either. But I believe that Joseph, in many ways, is the unsung hero of the Christmas story. Just as surely as God chose Mary to be the mother of the Messiah, He also chose Joseph. God the Father in heaven chose Joseph to be a stepfather, or father figure on earth, for Jesus!

The angel of the Lord came to Mary and revealed that the Messiah of Israel would be supernaturally conceived in her womb. Hearing Mary was pregnant, Joseph was willing to simply put her away quietly and break the engagement. He did not seem to be buying the whole “supernatural conception” idea. At least he was struggling with it, pondering a life without his dear Mary. But the Angel of the Lord came to him too.

“But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins'” (Matthew 1:20-21).

Joseph could have walked away if he wanted. But to his credit, he stood by Mary and Jesus and, despite the shame, loved that Boy. Mary went through life with a “scarlet A” on her, in the eyes of many. And Joseph went through life being thought of as a man married to a promiscuous woman.

The irony of this is Mary was an extraordinarily virtuous and godly woman. On one occasion, the Pharisees said to Jesus, “At least we weren’t born of fornication!” (John 8:41). The implication of that statement is that Jesus was conceived out of wedlock.

But Mary bore this along with the death of her son on the cross. No, she was not perfect or sinless, nor should we pray to her or through her. But she was faithful to what God asked her to do.

And so was Joseph. He was chosen by God to be the stepfather of God in human form.