Charles Stanley – When God Is Silent

Charles Stanley

John 11:1-6

As Lazarus was dying, his sisters urgently called for Jesus to come. Imagine how their grief must have compounded when He didn’t instantly respond to their request.

God’s silence is difficult to accept. We want Him to leap into action at our call, particularly if we are hurting or afraid. But since He promises to meet our needs, we can be sure that a silence from heaven has purpose.

• Silence grabs our attention. The disciples knew that Jesus could heal, so they must have wondered why He delayed instead of rushing to His friend’s bedside. But the Lord wanted them to witness something even greater: His power over death. They had been confused by His statements about conquering death, and they needed to understand that He could fulfill His own resurrection prophecies (Mark 9:31-32). The miracle at Lazarus’s tomb was part of their preparation.

• Silence teaches us to trust. Mary and Martha sent word of Lazarus’s illness because they anticipated the Lord would heal him. But if that expectation was not met, would their faith waver? Martha answered the question by stating that she believed Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of God” (John 11:21-27). The women’s trust was rewarded with a stunning miracle: their brother’s return to life.

At times, the only thing we can hear when we pray is our own breathing. That can be frustrating and frightening. But Scripture says God is always with us, and His silence won’t last forever (Ps. 38:15; Heb. 13:5). Cling to those promises as you seek the purpose behind His silence.

 

 

 

Our Daily Bread — The Presentation

Our Daily Bread

Colossians 1:21-23

He has reconciled . . . to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight. —Colossians 1:21-22

My wife, Martie, is a great cook. After a long day I often look forward to the smell of spicy aromas that promise a tasty feast. Not only does she know how to prepare a meal, but she is also a master at the presentation. The colors of the food on the plate, beautifully arranged in a harmony of meat, white puffy rice, and vegetables welcome me to pull up my chair and enjoy her handiwork. But the food was not so attractive before she got her hands on it. The meat was raw and squishy, the rice was hard and brittle, and the vegetables needed to be scrubbed and trimmed.

It reminds me of the gracious work Jesus has done for me. I am well aware of my frailty and propensity to sin. I know that in and of myself I am not presentable to God. Yet when I’m saved, Jesus makes me a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). He takes me just as I am and makes me just as I should be—“holy, and blameless, and above reproach” (Col. 1:22). He presents me to our Father as a thing of beauty worthy to be in His presence.

May His transforming work on our behalf stimulate us to live up to the presentation and to be humbly grateful to Christ for His finishing work in our lives! —Joe Stowell

Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me—

All His wonderful passion and purity!

O Thou Spirit divine, all my nature refine,

Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me. —Orsborn

Jesus takes us as we are and makes us what we should be.

Bible in a year: Zechariah 5-8; Revelation 19

 

 

Alistair Begg – A Firm and Determined Grasp

Alistair Begg

And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the son of God.

Galatians 2:20

When the Lord in mercy drew near and saw us in our deadness, He first of all said, “Live”; and He did this, first, because life is absolutely essential in spiritual matters, and until it is given we are incapable of seeing or entering the kingdom. Now the life that grace confers upon believers at the moment of their conversion is none other than the life of Christ, which, like the sap from the stem, runs into us, the branches, and establishes a living connection between our souls and Jesus. Faith is the grace that perceives this union, having proceeded from it as its firstfruit. It is the neck that joins the body of the Church to its all-glorious Head.

A faith that shines more bright and clear,

When tempests rage without,

That when in danger knows no fear,

In darkness feels no doubt.

Faith lays hold upon the Lord Jesus with a firm and determined grasp. It knows His excellence and worth, and no temptation can induce faith to place its trust elsewhere. And Christ Jesus is so delighted with this heavenly grace that He never ceases to strengthen and sustain that faith by the loving embrace and all-sufficient support of His eternal arms.

This establishes a living, sensible, and delightful union that produces streams of love, confidence, sympathy, contentment, and joy, from which both the bride and Bridegroom love to drink. When the soul can clearly see this oneness between itself and Christ, the pulse may be felt as beating for both, and the one blood as flowing through the veins of each. Then the heart is as near heaven as it can be on earth and is prepared for the enjoyment of the most sublime and spiritual kind of fellowship.

Lord, give me such a faith as this,

And then, whate’er may come,

I taste e’en now the hallowed bliss,

Of an eternal home.

 

Charles Spurgeon – Heavenly worship

CharlesSpurgeon

“And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the Mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.” Revelation 14:1-3

Suggested Further Reading: Revelation 5:6-10

Why is the song said to be a new song? It will be a new song, because the saints were never in such a position before as they will be when they sing this new song. They are in heaven now; but the scene of our text is something more than heaven. It refers to the time when all the chosen race shall meet around the throne, when the last battle shall have been fought, and the last warrior shall have gained his crown. It is not now that they are singing, but it is in the glorious time to come, when all the hundred and forty and four thousand—or rather, the number typified by that number—will be all safely housed and all secure. I can conceive the period. Time was—eternity now reigns. The voice of God exclaims, “Are my beloved all safe?” The angel flies through paradise and returns with this message, “Yes, they are.” “Is Fearful safe? Is Feeble-mind safe? Is Ready-to-Halt safe? Is Despondency safe?” “Yes, O King, they are,” says he. “Shut the gates,” says the Almighty, “they have been open night and day; shut them now.” Then, when all of them shall be there, then will be the time when the shout shall be louder than many waters, and the song shall begin which will never end.

For meditation: The old year is about to be replaced by a new year, but that will soon grow old and fade away. Revelation speaks of the former things passing away (21: 4), and the old serpent being cast out and bound (12: 9 and 20: 2). All that remains is new and remains new throughout eternity—a new song, a new heaven, a new earth, new Jerusalem—all things new (21: 1-5).

Sermon no. 110

28 December (1856)

John MacArthur – The Author of Our Salvation

John MacArthur

“It was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings” (Heb. 2:10).

As we look at what Christ has done, we must never forget that He was fulfilling the sovereign plan of God. The writer of Hebrews tells us it was fitting in God’s sight for Christ to bring many sons to glory. That means everything God did through Christ was consistent with His character.

The cross was a masterpiece of God’s wisdom. It displayed His holiness in His hatred of sin. It was consistent with His power: Christ endured in a few hours what it would take an eternity to expend on sinners. The cross displayed His love for mankind. And Christ’s death on the cross agreed with God’s grace because it was substitutionary.

To bring “many sons to glory,” God had “to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.” The Greek word translated “author” (archegos) means “pioneer” or “leader.” It was commonly used of a pioneer who blazed a trail for others to follow. The archegos never stood at the rear giving orders; he was always out front blazing the trail. As the supreme Archegos, Christ has gone before us–He is our trailblazer.

Life seems most anxious and dreadful when death is near. That’s a trail we cannot travel by ourselves. But the Author of our salvation says, “Because I live, you shall live also” (John 14:19). Only the perfect Pioneer could lead us out of the domain of death into the presence of the Father. All you have to do is put your hand in His nail- scarred hand and He will lead you from one side of death to the other. Then you can say with the apostle Paul, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55).

Suggestion for Prayer:

Praise God for all His attributes, specifically for each one displayed in Christ’s death for you.

For Further Study:

Read Hebrews 5:8-9 and 1 Peter 2:19-25. How do those verses expand on Hebrews 2:10?

 

 

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.

In this passage, the promise is life and health. Isn’t that amazing? It’s even a promise that when you contemplate and brood over the Bible, it will affect your physical body.

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 – Praying for Results

dr_bright

“Ask and you will be given what you ask for. Seek, and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives. Anyone who seeks, finds. If only you will knock, the door will be open” (Matthew 7:7,8).

We were conducting a Bible study on the subject of prayer when Amy, a professing Christian most of her life, said, “God never answers my prayers. In fact, I cannot recall a single prayer of mine that God has answered specifically.”

Several others in the group chimed in and said, “Neither can I.” So we turned to this passage and discussed it together. Would God lie to us? Is His Word trustworthy? Or is prayer an exercise in futility? Are we simply talking to ourselves and each other, or is there a God who hears and answers? If so, why have these not had their prayers answered?

First of all, we had to review the qualifications for prayer. Jesus said, “If you abide in Me and My Word abides in you, ask what you will and it shall be done unto you.” The Scripture also says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” So if we expect to have our prayers answered, Jesus Christ must be the Lord of our lives. There must be no unconfessed sin in our lives and we must be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Further, 1 John 5:14,15 reminds us: “If we ask anything according to God’s will, He hears us and answers,” so we must be sure that we are praying according to the Word of God. As we pray, the Spirit of God impresses upon us certain things for which to pray specifically, such as the salvation of a friend, the healing of a body or a financial need. If the prayer is offered with a pure motive and according to God’s will, we can expect an answer to it.

And we cannot pray casually. We must enter into an expectant spirit of prayer, knowing that, when we meet His conditions, God will hear and answer us.

Within a matter of weeks everyone in that Bible study, especially Amy, was inspired by the exciting challenge of prayer. God had truly heard, and again and again, they were able to point to specific answers.

Bible Reading: Luke 11:5-13

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I shall review my spiritual walk to be sure I am meeting God’s conditions: (1) Christ is Lord of my life. (2) I am filled with the Holy Spirit. (3) There is no unconfessed sin in my life. (4) I am praying according to God’s Word. And (5) I am praying specifically. As a result, I expect my prayers to be answered because God promises they will be.

 

Presidential Prayer Team; A.W. – Identity Check

ppt_seal01

In 1880, the Social Security Administration began keeping records of popular baby names in the United States. Many parents use this list and spend months agonizing over what to name their newborn child. Some believe a name has the power to shape a child’s identity and self-esteem, influence how he’s treated by others, and even affect future success.

The name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

Hebrews 1:4

God emphasized the importance of identity when He changed the names of Abram (Genesis 17:5), Jacob (Genesis 32:28) and Simon (John 1:42) to match their destinies. He instructed Joseph to name Mary’s baby Jesus (Matthew 1:21). Names are important to God, and a good name is more desirable than great riches (Proverbs 22:1).

Today’s verse refers to the name above all names – Jesus. The writer reminds the Hebrews Christ is superior to everyone and everything, including the angels. By His name, all can be saved (Acts 4:12). As you pray today for family and friends, call upon the power of the name of Jesus (Acts 4:10). Ask for the message of the Lord to spread and be honored (II Thessalonians 3:1) and for Him to move in the hearts of the nation’s leaders to do what is just, honest and upright.

Recommended Reading: Proverbs 21:1-8

 

 

Greg Laurie – The 3 Things we can give to God in 2014

greglaurie

As we enter into a new year, here is something to remember: When it’s all said and done, we have three things we can offer God—our treasure, our talent, and our time. Each of these is given to us by God, and each of them should be given back in generous portions.

First, there is our treasure. I urge you to commit yourself to give faithfully and generously to the Lord in this coming year. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21 NKJV). Whenever we put our money into something, we develop a vested interest in it. It makes sense to us that we would place our treasures where our hearts are. If we love reading books, or being entertained, or the latest technology, we spend our treasure on those things. And if our heart’s desires change, that changes where we put our treasure.

But it works the other way too: Where we put our treasures, our heart will follow. Do you want your heart to be in the things of God? Then put your treasures in the things of God! Develop a vested interest in God’s kingdom.

The second thing we can give to God is our talent. God has gifted each believer in different ways. Everyone has something to offer for the work of the kingdom. Romans 12 says, “Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of his one body, and each of us different work to do” (NLT).

Finally, there is our time. Let’s say that one day your phone rang and it was the president of the bank that you use. He told you that an anonymous donor who loved you very much had decided to deposit 86,400 pennies into your bank account each and every morning. At first, maybe that didn’t seem like a lot. But then you figured out that it was $864 a day. At seven days a week and 52 weeks a year, those pennies add up to almost $315,000 each year! But the bank president added one thing: “The anonymous giver said you must spend all of the money on the day you receive it! No balance will be carried over to the next day. Each evening the bank must cancel whatever sum you failed to use! Remember, what you don’t spend is lost.”

That may sound like fantasy, but here’s the reality: Every morning, Someone who loves you very much deposits into your “bank of time” 86,400 seconds, which represent 1,440 minutes, which of course equals 24 hours each and every day. God gives you that much to use each day. Nothing is ever carried over on credit to the next day. There is no such thing as a 27-hour day. It’s called time, and you can’t escape it. Time is ticking away right now. The Bible tells us to “redeem the time”—to make sacred and wise use of every opportunity.

Offer God your treasure, your talent, and your time. Live this next year as if it were your last, because it could be. Make those minutes count!