Charles Stanley – The God Who Reveals Himself

Charles Stanley

Hebrews 1:1-4

People have all kinds of distorted impressions of God. As a result, their view of life is awry—for example, they may think life is just a matter of fate. But the Lord of the universe leaves nothing to chance.

Because God wants us to approach life correctly, His Word gives us a clear picture of what He is like. One way He reveals Himself is through the material world. The Bible says that the heavens “declare the glory of God” and “pour forth speech” about the Author of creation (Ps. 19:1-2 niv). They are telling of His strength and magnificence. Likewise, the wind, waves, and natural disasters show forth the power of our awesome God. And in a similar way, all the cycles of nature, with their vivid colors and changing patterns, tell of our Maker’s creative genius.

Another way God chooses to reveal Himself is through man’s conscience. Even people who have never heard of God’s laws instinctively know what is right and what is wrong (Rom. 2:11-15). There are atheists who would never lie, steal, or kill. This standard comes from God, who has impressed a moral sense on every person’s conscience.

Many people obey their conscience yet fail to believe in God or recognize that they are accountable to Him. The fact is that unbelief doesn’t cancel your accountability to the Lord. The evidence for His existence is undeniable, but He will not force anyone to believe. Everybody has a choice to make: Will I worship a god of my own creation, or will I worship the One who created me?

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Out of Ivory Palaces

Ravi Z

Impossible to miss in any mall, grocery store, elevator, or voice mail system, Christmas music is as ubiquitous as snow in Alaska. I have yet to walk into a store this Christmas season that wasn’t playing “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” I’m sure you are familiar with the song and can hear the tune in your head: With kids jingle belling/and everyone telling you/”Be of good cheer,”/It’s the most wonderful time of the year. With this music all around me, I can’t help but begin to hum along, and feel uplifted as if it truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

And yet, for many individuals, Christmas is anything but wonderful. In fact, the joviality, décor, and the music simply strike dissonant chords because of the memories, emotions, and experiences associated with this season.  Families in Sandyhook, Connecticut and Arapahoe County Colorado in the United States feel the emptiness of loss, the hemorrhage of violence, and the undertow of grief as a result of two random shooters. I suspect this will mark their Christmas seasons for the rest of their lives. There are many who also grieve the loss of a loved one—not necessarily from armed violence—but from the violence of a body turned against itself through cancer or some other debilitating or destructive disease. For them, Christmas reminds them of yet another empty chair. Others experience joblessness or underemployment, numbing loneliness, disappointed expectations, ruptured relationships, and rejection that twist and distort the joy of the season into a garish spectacle. Instead of uplifting them in celebration, the most wonderful time of the year seems a cruel mockery.

For all of these, and many others, the Christmas season seems more like the opening verse of Christina Rossetti’s haunting Christmas hymn, “In the Bleak Midwinter.”

In the bleak midwinter, frost wind made moan,

earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone.

All the excitement, anticipation, and beauty of the season can easily be frozen by pain, disappointment and grief; instead of singing songs of joy, a bitter moan emanates like the cold, frost-bitten wind.

Into this world—the world of the bleak midwinter—God arrived. Not sheltered from grief or pain, God descended into a world where poverty, violence, and grief were a daily part of God’s human existence in the person of Jesus. Joseph and Mary, barely teenagers, were poor, and Mary gave birth to the Messiah in a dirty barn. Herod the Great used his power to slaughter all the male children who were in Bethlehem under the age of two. Shepherds slept on grassy hills, their nomadic home. Even in Jesus’s public ministry, his cousin, John the Baptist, would be beheaded. Jesus would experience rejection and eventually die a criminal’s death, with only a few, grieving women remaining at his side. The old hymn, “Out of the Ivory Palaces” said it well:

Out of the ivory palaces, into a world of woe,

Only His great, eternal love, made my Savior go.

Into this world—our world of bleak midwinter—God arrives. God arrives in the midst of pain and suffering, doubt and disappointment, longing and loneliness to make a home with us, to be alongside of us because of “great, eternal love.”  The gospel of John tells us that God did not stay removed from us or from our sufferings, but that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). For those who find the Christmas season far from the “most wonderful time of the year,” Immanuel, God with us, comes to be our consolation.

And those who celebrate this season as the most wonderful time of the year can demonstrate its beauty, joy, and celebration by reaching out to those in bleak midwinter, doing our part, giving our all, sharing our hearts.

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

 

Alistair Begg – He Never Ceases to Remember

Alistair Begg

I remember the devotion of your youth.

Jeremiah 2:2

Let us note that Christ delights to think upon His Church and to look upon her beauty. As the bird returns often to its nest, and as the traveler hurries to his home, so the mind continually pursues the object of its choice. We cannot look too often upon the face we love; we continually desire to have what is precious to us.

This is also true with our Lord Jesus. From all eternity He has been “delighting in the children of man.”1 His thoughts rolled onward to the time when His elect would be born into the world; He viewed them in the mirror of His foreknowledge. “In your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them” (Ps. 139:16). When the world was set upon its pillars, He was there, and He set the boundaries of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. Many a time before His incarnation, He descended to this lower earth in the similitude of a man-on the plains of Mamre (Gen. 18), by the brook of Jabbok (Gen. 32:24-30), beneath the walls of Jericho (Josh. 5:13), and in the fiery furnace of Babylon (Dan. 3:19, 25).

The Son of Man visited His people. Because His soul delighted in them, He could not stay away from them, for His heart longed for them. They were never absent from His heart, for He had written their names upon His hands and had graven them upon His side.

As the breastplate containing the names of the tribes of Israel was the most brilliant ornament worn by the high priest, so the names of Christ’s elect were His most precious jewels and glittered on His heart. We may often forget to meditate upon the perfections of our Lord, but He never ceases to remember us. Let us chide ourselves for past forgetfulness, and pray for grace that we might constantly and fondly remember Him. Lord, paint upon the eyeballs of my soul the image of Your Son.

1 Proverbs 8:31

Charles Spurgeon – A blow at self-righteousness

CharlesSpurgeon

“If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me; if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.” Job 9:20

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

Let me just utter a solemn sentence which you may consider at your leisure. If you trust to your faith and to your repentance, you will be as much lost as if you trusted to your good works or trusted to your sins. The ground of your salvation is not faith, but Christ; it is not repentance, but Christ. If I trust my trust of Christ, I am lost. My business is to trust Christ; to rest on him; to depend, not on what the Spirit has done in me, but on what Christ did for me, when he hung upon the tree. Now be it known unto you, that when Christ died, he took the sins of all his people upon his head, and there and then they all ceased to be. At the moment when Christ died, the sins of all his redeemed were blotted out. He did then suffer all that they ought to have suffered; he paid all their debts; and their sins were actually and positively lifted that day from their shoulders to his shoulders, for “the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” And now, if you believe in Jesus, there is not a sin remaining upon you, for your sin was laid on Christ; Christ was punished for your sins before they were committed, and as Kent says:

“Here’s pardon full for sin that’s past,

It matters not how black their cast;

And oh! my soul with wonder view,

For sins to come here’s pardon too.”

Blessed privilege of the believer! But if you live and die unbelievers, know this, that all your sins lie on your own shoulders.

For meditation: To boast of the sincerest faith and the most thoroughgoing repentance is to exhibit the most sophisticated form of self-righteousness. Repentance and faith are both gifts from God so that sinners can receive his greatest gift, the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:12).

Sermon no. 350

17 December (Preached 16 December 1860)

 

 

 

John MacArthur – Christ’s Superior Destiny

John MacArthur

“To which of the angels has He ever said, ‘Sit at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet’? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?” (Heb. 1:13-14).

“At the name of Jesus every knee [will] bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth” (Phil. 2:10). That great promise confirms that Jesus Christ is destined to be the ruler of the universe.

Yet notice this about Christ’s rule: “When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, that God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28). Christ is subordinate to His Father, but only in His role as the Son. While the eternal Son is equally divine, He is officially in subjection to God.

Eventually God will put all kingdoms, authorities, and powers of the world in subjection under Christ when He comes in glory at His second coming. “He will rule [the nations] with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS'” (Rev. 19:15-16). Christ’s eternal destiny is to reign over the new heavens and the new earth.

But what about the angels? While Christ has the greater destiny, it is their destiny to serve forever those who will inherit salvation (Heb. 1:14)–and that’s us!

Angels protect and deliver the believer from temporal danger. They rescued Lot and his family from the destruction of Sodom. They went into the lions’ den with Daniel and protected him. In addition to being forever in God’s presence, our destiny is to be served by angels forever–service that begins the moment of our salvation.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank God for the many ways He takes care of you: by saving you, having Christ intercede for you, giving you the Holy Spirit to teach you, and sending His angels to serve you.

For Further Study:

Read 2 Kings 6:8-23 and note the amazing way that angels served the prophet Elisha.

 

 

Joyce Meyer – Be Still

Joyce meyer

Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our Refuge (our High Tower and Stronghold). Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!

—Psalm 46:10–11

One of the reasons so many of us are burned-out and stressed-out is that we don’t know how to be still—to “know” God and “acknowledge” Him. When we spend time with Him, we learn to hear His voice. When we acknowledge Him, He directs our paths. If we don’t spend time being still, getting to know Him, and hearing His voice, we will operate from our own strength in the flesh.

We need to learn to be quiet inside and stay in that peaceful state so that we are always ready to hear the Lord’s voice. Many people run from one thing to the next. Because their minds don’t know how to be still, they don’t know how to be still. At one time, I felt I had to find something to do every evening. I had to be involved and on the go, being a part of whatever was going on. I didn’t want anything to go on that I didn’t know about. I was not a human being; I was a human doing.

Lord, teach me how to be still before You and actually “know” that You are God. Help me to be quiet inside and hear Your voice. Amen.

 

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Rewards All Who Look for Him

dr_bright

“You can never please God without faith, without depending on Him. Anyone who wants to come to God must believe that there is a God and that He rewards those who sincerely look for Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

A friend of mine, one of the most dedicated men I have ever known, lived by a little black book. In this book he kept a careful record of all his activities, past, present and future.

In it he recorded the time he was to get up every morning, how long to have his devotions, how many verses of Scripture he should memorize that day, and to how many people he should witness. I was impressed; I wanted to be like him.

One day he had a mental breakdown, however. After he was released from the hospital, he said to me, “I was unable to live the Christian life. I tried to be a man of God by imposing upon myself certain rigid spiritual disciplines.

“Before they took me to the hospital, my last conscious act was to throw that little black book, which had become my god, into the corner. I never wanted to see it again.”

This man had to discover what I discovered with great relief some years ago: I will never be able to live the Christian life through my own self-efforts.

My only hope for victory, power and fruitfulness is to trust Christ to live His resurrection life in and through me. He and He alone can enable me to live the Christian life. It is faith, not effort, that pleases Him, though we should never forget that faith without works is dead. Genuine faith always produces action – good works that please and glorify Him.

Bible Reading: Hebrews 7:17-22

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today by faith I will claim Christ’s resurrection life, and since He alone is holy I will claim His power to live a supernatural life. Since He came to seek and to save the lost, I will claim by faith His ability to seek and to save the lost.

 

Presidential Prayer Team; J.K. – Perfect Gift

ppt_seal01

Jesus was fully human and fully divine. The power of the Most High overshadowed Mary, she conceived in her womb, and she bore a son who would “be called holy – the Son of God.” ((Luke 1:35) God, in His wisdom, ordained the combination of human and divine influence so Jesus’ full humanity would be evident in the fact of His ordinary birth, and His full deity evident through the powerful work of the Holy Spirit.

And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son.

Luke 1:31

How calmly Mary accepted her commission from God! “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) It proved she had immersed herself in the Scriptures of the Old Testament. She knew the promise God had made to His people in Isaiah 7:14 and firmly believed He would fulfill them.

The virgin birth is an unmistakable reminder that salvation can only come from the Lord, never from human effort. The sinless Lamb came to Earth to redeem you. Pray that you, the people of this nation, and America’s leaders will understand the awesomeness of God’s perfect gift…the Savior, Christ the Lord.

Recommended Reading: Luke 1:46-55  Click to Read or Listen

 

Greg Laurie – Childlike Faith

greglaurie

Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. —Luke 1:38

Lord, I want Your will. I will do what You want me to do. I will go where You want me to go. I will say what You want me to say.

Have you ever said that to God? Mary did.

When Gabriel suddenly appeared to her one day and announced that she would be the mother of the Messiah, she was completely obedient, saying, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

I love that. Mary had childlike faith. How open and trusting children are. If my grandchildren are on a step and I tell them to jump to me, they will jump. Why? It’s because so far I’ve caught them (and I plan on continuing to catch them). So when I say jump, they simply jump, with a smile. I catch them, and they want to do it again.

But sometimes when God tells us to jump, we say, “What?” We think, I don’t want to jump. What if God drops me? But He won’t drop us. What kind of parent would do that? Our heavenly Father will catch us.

We often wonder about the will of God for our lives, but here is something to consider: Obedience to revealed truth guarantees guidance in matters unrevealed. Is there something you know to be God’s will for you right now? Have you done it? Don’t ask God to reveal His will beyond that until you take care of what you know is His will. We say that we want God’s will, but often we want Him to reveal it first so we can decide whether or not we are going to do it.

Mary said, “Let it be to me according to your word.” Have you made that commitment as well?

 

Max Lucado – Blessed are the Meek

Max Lucado

A small cathedral outside Bethlehem marks the supposed birthplace of Jesus.  Behind a high altar in the church is a cave, a little cavern lit by silver lamps. You can enter the main area and admire the ancient church. You can also enter the quiet cave where a star embedded in the floor recognizes the birth of the King. There’s one stipulation, however.  You have to stoop. The door is so low you can’t go in standing up. The same is true of the Christ. Blessed are the meek, Jesus explained. You can see the world standing tall, but to witness the Savior, you have to get on your knees.

While the theologians were sleeping, and the elite were dreaming, and the successful were snoring, the meek were kneeling. They were kneeling before the One only the meek will see. They were kneeling in front of Jesus.

From The Applause of Heaven