Charles Stanley – Jesus: The Son of God

Charles Stanley

Matthew 16:13-16

What difference does it make who Jesus is? Why should we take Him seriously? The way we answer these questions will deeply impact our belief system, mold our character, and influence our lifestyle. They will also determine where we spend eternity.

Jesus identified Himself as the Son of God and stated that He and the Father are one. In other words, whoever has seen Christ has seen the Father (John 10:30; 14:9). Conversely, those of us who long to know God must draw near to Jesus—He alone reveals the Father.

The Son of God was sent here to give His life as a ransom for many. The purpose was to rescue us from slavery to sin and prepare us for our heavenly home, where we’ll spend eternity. Notice that in describing His mission, Jesus said He “did not come to be served, but to serve” (Matt. 20:28). Those who belong to Him are to imitate His life of service.

Jesus testified that He does exactly as the Father commands (John 14:31). This, too, is an example for us. His life of obedience shows us how to please God. Jesus knew why He came, and He did what was asked in order to glorify His Father (John 17:1). There’s a plan and purpose for every one of us as well, and we likewise glorify the Lord by our obedience.

Matthew 28:18 gives another reason to obey: since Jesus said, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth,” we are to live in submission to Him.

Do you believe Jesus’ testimony? If so, thank Him for the difference He has made in your life. Then share with others how knowing Him has impacted you.

 

 

Our Daily Bread — Taking Refuge

Our Daily Bread

Proverbs 18:1-10

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. —Proverbs 18:10

In the medieval world, farmers would care for their crops until an enemy appeared on the horizon. Then they would flee with their families to their fortified city for protection from the marauders.

The city of Carcassonne has been a refuge for generations. Built in the 5th century BC, this stone fortress has provided protection for Romans, Gauls, Visigoths, Franks, and French. Its sprawling size and majestic watchtowers and battlements gave confidence to those hiding inside its protective walls.

As believers, we can take refuge in the presence of the living God. The book of Proverbs tells us: “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (Prov. 18:10). “The name of the LORD” refers to God’s character—abounding with faithfulness, power, and mercy. The term safe means “set on high out of danger.”

We all face threats at times that make us want to run for cover. Some seek security in material wealth or relationships. But the Christ-follower has a more secure refuge. Because of who God is and what He can do for us, our best protection ultimately rests in Him. If you are facing a threat today, go to the Lord, who is a strong tower. You will find refuge in His care. —Dennis Fisher

In the times of greatest struggle,

When the angry billows roll,

I can always find my Savior,

Christ, the Refuge of my soul. —Woodruff

In good times and bad, God is our safe resting place.

Bible in a year: Micah 1-3; Revelation 11

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Questioning Gabriel

Ravi Z

The Gospel of Luke begins with two monumental exchanges between the material and the spiritual. A messenger of the Lord appears first to an aging man in the midst of his priestly duties, and later to a young, peasant girl in the midst of anticipating the life ahead of her. In each visit, like a gust of wind that turns an umbrella inside out, the message delivered was the sort of news that moves the lives of all who go near it, let alone the worlds of those who heard it first. Both visits incite fear. Both invoke questions. But in the interchange of the eternal and the temporal, though the promises of God are similarly moving, we find two very different human responses.

Zechariah was chosen by lot amongst the other priests at the temple that day to offer the daily incense to the Lord. While the crowd stood praying outside, Zechariah entered the temple only to find an angel standing on the right side of the altar of incense.  “And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him,”imparts Luke. “But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John’” (1:12,13).

Now Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth did have any children. The angel’s words confronted a prayer long on his lips, a hope long deferred, a shame daily unforgotten. Zechariah’s response does not seem unreasonable to me. Fearful and uncertain, his wounded heart cried to know that God had been moving in those silent years of childlessness. “How can I be sure?” Zechariah asked. Another translation renders, “How will I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years” (v. 18, ESV).

There is a protective cynicism that runs in the hearts of those who live in the reality of unanswered prayers. Do we really believe that God not only knows the greatest desires of our hearts but is also able to answer them? Do we trust the most weighted areas of our lives, the most tender corners of our hearts in his hands? At such moments of reckoning, Jesus’s words seem much more a commandment than a comfort: “Do not let your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1).

The angel replied to Zechariah’s question with words reassuring and rebuking at once. “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time” (vv. 19, 20). It seems unfairly ironic. The one who remained upright through years of anguished silence was now silenced himself.

Six months later, this same messenger appeared before a young girl named Mary. “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus” (1:30,31). Like Zechariah, Mary was troubled. And similarly, she responded with a question. But unlike Zechariah, who had diligently prayed for such a miracle, Mary was unwed, a teenager with marriage and children as hopes yet unrealized. And yet this peasant girl responds with faith greater than the priest, with wisdom as sharp as her youth. “How will this be?” she asked.

Whereas Zechariah spoke in fear and uncertainty, Mary spoke with unfathomable faith. In the tenderness of youth and greatness of belief, there was no question in her mind that God would do as God said. Her question was as trusting as it was expectant: “I know this will be so, but how, since I am only a virgin?” In other words, how will God accomplish his plan through me? She was ready for the unfathomable because she saw her days in the hands of the one who sees all things.

 

The responses of Mary and Zechariah remind us that we live well when we give God room to move sovereignly over our lives, through loss and silence, surrendering even our expectations to the one who sees. Unlike Zechariah, Mary was never introduced to her messenger. Yet to Gabriel she uttered, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (v. 38). Mary’s was a life that seemed both aware and ready for the world to be a place where God is ready and able to break through.

Perhaps for this reason Elizabeth recognized that Mary was blessed among women indeed. For most of us it takes places of loss and mourning to discover the unfathomable places of God’s presence and grace, tears and silence to shape our truest song.

One can only imagine the words welling up inside Zechariah as his child was delivered from the womb of his once-barren wife. Naming his newborn son, his mouth was opened and he declared in song, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel… [who] enables us to serve him without fear.”

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

Alistair Begg – Love Beyond Doubt

Alistair Begg

I have loved you with an everlasting love.

Jeremiah 31:3

Sometimes the Lord Jesus tells His Church His love thoughts. “He does not consider it sufficient to declare them behind her back, but in her very presence He says, ‘Behold, you are beautiful, my love.’1 It is true, this is not His ordinary method. He is a wise lover and knows when to hold back the intimation of love and when to declare it; but there are times when He will make no secret of it, times when He will put it beyond all dispute in the souls of His people” (R. Erskine’s Sermons).

The Holy Spirit is often pleased, in a most gracious manner, to witness with our spirits to the love of Jesus. He takes the things of Christ and reveals them to us. No voice is heard from the clouds, and no vision is seen in the night, but we have a testimony more certain than either of these

If an angel should fly from heaven and inform the believer personally of the Savior’s love for him, the evidence would not be one bit more satisfactory than that which is born in the heart by the Holy Spirit.

Ask the Lord’s people who have lived the nearest to the gates of heaven, and they will tell you that they have had seasons when the love of Christ toward them has been a fact so clear and sure that they could no more doubt it than they could question their own existence.

Yes, dear believer, you and I have had times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, and then our faith has soared to the heights of assurance. We have had confidence to lean our heads upon the shoulder of our Lord, and we have not questioned our Master’s affection for us. The dark question, “Lord, is it I that will betray You?” has been put far from us. He has kissed us with the kisses of His mouth and killed our doubts by the closeness of His embrace. His love has been sweeter than wine to our souls.

1 Song of Solomon 1:15

 

Charles Spurgeon – The first Christmas carol

CharlesSpurgeon

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 14:5-9

I wish everybody that keeps Christmas this year, would keep it as the angels kept it. There are many persons who, when they talk about keeping Christmas, mean by that the cutting of the bands of their religion for one day in the year, as if Christ were the Lord of misrule, as if the birth of Christ should be celebrated like the orgies of Bacchus. There are some very religious people, that on Christmas would never forget to go to church in the morning; they believe Christmas to be nearly as holy as Sunday, for they reverence the tradition of the elders. Yet their way of spending the rest of the day is very remarkable; for if they see their way straight up stairs to their bed at night, it must be by accident. They would not consider they had kept Christmas in a proper manner, if they did not verge on gluttony and drunkenness. There are many who think Christmas cannot possibly be kept, except there be a great shout of merriment and mirth in the house, and added to that the boisterousness of sin. Now, my brethren, although we, as successors of the Puritans, will not keep the day in any religious sense whatever, attaching nothing more to it than to any other day: believing that every day may be a Christmas for ought we know, and wishing to make every day Christmas, if we can, yet we must try to set an example to others how to behave on that day; and specially since the angels gave glory to God: let us do the same. Once more the angels said, “Peace to men”: let us labour if we can to make peace next Christmas day.

For meditation: The unconverted cannot understand why Christians do not join them in their wild Christmas celebrations (1 Peter 4:3-4); those who celebrate the event without being able to give a sensible reason for doing so, are providing us with wonderful opportunities to give a reason for the hope that is within us (1 Peter 3:15).

Sermon no. 168

20 December (1857)

John MacArthur – Throwing out the Anchor

John MacArthur

“For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it” (Heb. 2:1).

While English explorer William Edward Parry and his crew were exploring the Arctic Ocean, they needed to go further north to continue their chartings. So they calculated their location by the stars and began a treacherous march.

After many hours they stopped, exhausted. After taking their bearings, they discovered they were now further south than when they started! They had been walking on an ice floe that was traveling faster south than they were walking north.

That is similar to the situation people who continue rejecting Christ find themselves in. Therefore Hebrews 2:1 says, “We must pay closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”

Why would anyone knowingly reject Christ? He came into the world as God incarnate, died on a cross to forgive our sins, paid our penalty, showed us divine love, and gives us blessing and joy beyond imagination.

The Greek words translated “pay much closer attention to” and “drift away from” both have a nautical usage. The first means “to tie up a ship” and the second can be used of a ship that has been carelessly allowed to drift past the harbor because the sailor forgot to attend to the steerage or chart the wind, tides, and current. Hebrews 2:1 could be translated: “We must diligently anchor our lives to the things we have been taught, lest the ship of life drift past the harbor of salvation and be lost forever.”

Most people don’t deliberately turn their backs on God; they almost imperceptibly slip past the harbor of salvation and are broken on the rocks of destruction. Be sure you warn those you know who might be slipping past that harbor.

Suggestion for Prayer:

Ask God to strengthen your resolve when you know you need to confront someone regarding his or her relationship with the Lord.

For Further Study:

Memorize Proverbs 4:20-22 as your own reminder of how important it is to hold on to God’s Word.

 

Joyce Meyer – Come Apart to Stay Together

Joyce meyer

And the effect of righteousness will be peace [internal and external], and the result of righteousness will be quietness and confident trust forever.

—Isaiah 32:17

If you are feeling compelled to do so much that you are physically worn out, you may be driven instead of led. Remember, you have to come apart from a busy routine before you come apart yourself. You have to get away from everything before you come apart physically, mentally, and emotionally. Give yourself time to get a good night’s sleep.

It is tempting to do everything that everybody else is doing, be involved in everything, know everything, hear everything, and be everywhere, but it isn’t God’s best for you. Be willing to separate yourself from compulsive activity before you come apart at the seams!

Spend time with God, and ask Him to give order to your day.

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Practicing Patience

dr_bright

“You need to keep on patiently doing God’s will if you want Him to do for you all that He has promised” (Hebrews 10:36).

During a Bible study on this passage, Ted made this contribution: “Spiritually,” he said, “I’m a sprinter, not a long distance runner.”

Numerous Christians would identify with that for there is little patience, persistence, and tenacity among believers. When adversity comes, many of us are prone to give up and lose our wind. That is the reason James says in his first chapter, verses 2-4, “Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.”

You will note the emphasis on patience. All of us are faced with problems, testings, temptations, adversities and trials in varying degrees. We can determine, by our attitudes and actions, whether or not our tragedies will turn to triumph. Our heartache and sorrow can become joy and rejoicing simply by our patience, which is the ability to relax in the confidence that God rules in the affairs of men and nations. Everything is under His control. And as we walk in faith and obedience, we will be a part of His wonderful and perfect plan.

But the question may be asked, how can we increase this rare trait or gift of patience that unlocks the door to supernatural living? The answer is simple. It is found in Galatians 5:22-23 in the listing of the fruit of the Spirit, for one of the nine characteristics mentioned is patience or longsuffering.

Are you patient with your husband, wife, parents, children, neighbors and those with whom you work in the office? Or do you find yourself critical and complaining – more prone to judge than to bless?

As we more and more yield ourselves to God’s indwelling Holy Spirit, the fruit of patience is increased, along with all the other fruit.

Bible Reading: Hebrews 6:12-15

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will invite the Holy Spirit to control and empower my life moment by moment, day by day, knowing that the fruit of the Spirit, including patience, will increase and mature in my life.

 

Presidential Prayer Team; C.H. – Song of Commitment

ppt_seal01

What is your favorite Christmas carol? O Holy Night ranks as many Americans’ favorite song, according to a recent study. It surpassed White Christmas and even The Christmas Song. O Holy Night is a song of worship about the glorious birth of God’s only Son. Whether they all realize it or not, Americans praise God when they sing this wonderful carol.

He was manifested in the flesh…seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations.

I Timothy 3:16

The practice of singing praises has been around for thousands of years. In early churches of the Bible and in worship services today, there’s a tradition of singing a hymn at the end of the service. These songs allow the congregation to affirm their acceptance of the message and commitment to do God’s will. Today’s passage is a portion of such a hymn. The author, Paul, describes how church leaders should behave and ends with a song, therefore leading the reader into acceptance of the message.

Take time today to read Paul’s message in its entirety, then focus on the hymn of worship. Reflect on the gift of Christ’s coming to the world. Ask God to help you live a life above reproach. Request the same for the leaders of this nation. Then sing a song of praise to signal your commitment to do so.

Recommended Reading: I Timothy 3:1-15 

 

 

Greg Laurie – Have You Lost Jesus?

greglaurie

Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.— James 4:8

Apparently it has become a national trend to steal baby Jesus figures from outdoor Nativity scenes. The problem has become so pervasive that churches are now placing GPS tracking devices inside their baby Jesus figures. The approach seems to be working. One church in Old Bridge, New Jersey, reported, “There’s been no attempt of theft since we announced that we’re tracking our Jesus.”

The good news is that the real Jesus cannot be stolen. However, this is a time of year when we can lose Jesus. How ironic that it happens at the very time when we should be celebrating His birth.

We rush around like crazy people, especially during this season. You could inscribe these words on the tombstones of many Americans: hurried, worried, buried. We are the only nation on earth that actually has a national monument called Mount Rushmore. And we can be so busy that we don’t have time for God. I would like go to church, but I am so busy this time of the year. . . . I would like to pray, but there’s so much going on—so many responsibilities. . . . I would like to invest in the kingdom of God, but I have other financial commitments. People are so preoccupied with their lives and what they are doing that they don’t have any time for God.

I think it is because people don’t have time for Jesus that so many are depressed during the Christmas season. People have a romanticized idea of what Christmas ought to be, and when they look at their lives, they are not anywhere close to their ideal. They are expecting Christmas to do what only Christ can do. But if we will make time for Him, then He certainly will have time for us.

 

Max Lucado – No Room

Max Lucado

Some of the saddest words on earth are “We don’t have room for you.” Jesus knew the sound of those words.  He was still in Mary’s womb when the innkeeper said, “We don’t have room for you” (Luke 2:7).

And when he was hung on the cross, wasn’t the message one of utter rejection?  “We don’t have room for you in our world.”

Even today Jesus is given the same treatment.  He goes from heart to heart, asking if he might enter. Every so often, he’s welcomed.  Someone throws open the door of his or her heart and invites him to stay.  And to that person Jesus gives this great promise, “In my Father’s house are many rooms” (John 14:2).

What a delightful promise he makes us! We make room for him in our hearts….And he makes room for us in his house!

From Grace for the Moment