Charles Stanley – God’s Plan for Our Life

Charles Stanley

1 Peter 2:9-12

As we search to discover God’s plan for our lives, we should consider three things:

1. Glorifying God. We are commanded to let our light shine before men so we will bear spiritual fruit that glorifies the Lord. As our life increasingly follows the pattern of the Savior’s, our thoughts and responses will bring Jesus praise and point other people to Him.

2. Conforming to Christ’s likeness. In considering any decision, we should ask ourselves, Will this help me become more like Jesus or tempt me in my weaker areas and cause me to turn away from Him? If we submit our minds and emotions to the Lord, His Spirit will build Jesus’ character qualities into our life. As we rely on the Holy Spirit, He will help us make wise decisions and guide us safely past temptation.

3. Following the Lord’s will. When deciding how to proceed, it’s wise to ask, Is this in line with God’s known will? Throughout the Scriptures, the heavenly Father has revealed what pleases Him. His commands are clear regarding the way born-again believers should live. Our home, business, and community life are to function according to His will.

Wherever you are, don’t let yourself be pressured into actions or decisions that would be displeasing to God. Train yourself to stop and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal whether each choice will bring God glory, help to develop Christ’s character in you, and keep you in the center of God’s plan and purpose. Wait on Him, and do not step ahead until you have an answer.

 

Our Daily Bread — 31 Days Of Thanks

Our Daily Bread

Psalm 136:1-16,26

Oh, give thanks to the Lord of lords! —Psalm 136:3

January, according to many US calendars, is National Thank You Month. This, of course, is easily transferable everywhere, so perhaps it should be Global Thank You Month.

In order to make the best use of this celebration of gratitude, let’s begin by seeing what Scripture says about thankfulness.

One place to start is Psalm 136, which begins and ends with the words, “Oh, give thanks” (vv.1,26). Again and again in this chapter we are reminded of a single, overriding reason to bestow our gratitude on our great God: “His mercy endures forever.” We could spend the whole month learning about gratitude from Psalm 136.

The psalmist reminds us of God’s “great wonders” (v.4). He tells us of God’s creative work brought on by His wisdom (v.5). He moves on to rehearse the great exodus of His people (vv.10-22). As we think through these pictures of creation and deliverance found in Psalm 136, we can easily find something to thank God for every day of this Thank You Month.

What better way to start off a new year than to concentrate on conveying gratitude to our Lord! “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” (v.1). —Dave Branon

How good it is to thank the Lord,

And praise to Thee, Most High, accord,

To show Thy love with morning light,

And tell Thy faithfulness each night! —Psalter

When you think of all that’s good, give thanks to God.

Bible in a year: Genesis 1-3; Matthew 1

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Happy New Year

Ravi Z

Is happiness really attainable? It is a question many have sought to answer—debated in philosophy halls, whispered about at slumber parties, promised in innumerable marketing campaigns—and particularly at the turn of a new year. Our countless approaches to pursuing happiness are as diverse as our many definitions of the word. But what if the attainability of happiness is intimately connected to our answer to another question? Namely, what is the source of your greatest enjoyment in life? In other words, could there be a connection between your worldview and your capacity to experience happiness?

In a significant study, Armand Nicholi, professor of clinical psychiatry at Harvard University, compared the life and work of Sigmund Freud to that of C.S. Lewis.(1) Each cultural giant was recognized for the remarkable accuracy with which he observed human emotion and experience. And yet, each man defined and experienced happiness in strikingly different manners, through radically different worldviews.

Freud’s experience and understanding of happiness emerged as fundamental to his materialist understanding of the world. He observed happiness to be “a problem of satisfying a person’s instinctual wishes.”(2) Consequently, the possibility of attaining happiness was met with pessimism.  Freud recognized that the human appetite is never fully satisfied. His observation is not without merit. Happiness, defined in such terms, is problematic, if at the same time, the goal is to achieve a lasting happiness. Money may be able to achieve one instinctual wish, and yet instinctual wishes ebb and flow with perpetually changing appetites. The average U.S. citizen’s buying power has doubled during the last four decades, yet studies report that the average American is not any happier, but in fact, less happy than reported in studies conducted forty years earlier. Sadly, Freud’s life itself reflected his definition of happiness. His letters were increasingly filled with pessimism and depression, even mentioning drug use as the only effective mood-lifter he could find.

What makes C.S. Lewis a fascinating point of comparison is that like Freud, he too, was intensely pessimistic about the possibilities of happiness early in life. And yet as emphasized by many biographers and close friends, his life was profoundly transformed in his early thirties, following a dramatic shift in worldview. Through a worldview far different than one of materialism, Lewis reasoned, “What does not satisfy when we find it, must not be the thing we were desiring.”(3) Happiness, for Lewis, could not ultimately be met in the material. As he found himself approaching a worldview shaped by something beyond the material, Lewis first thought he was coming to a place, an idea, and found instead that he came to a Person, one within the material world and also beyond and behind it. In fact, it was the surprise of finding a person that first redefined the notion of happiness for him—happiness from within this source of joy that marked his life even during times of pain and loss.

In this new year of potential promise, ultimate sources of happiness may be as worth considering as each possible option or hopeful resolution. The psalmist writes of a creator as a source within and beyond the material, “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” There may well be a connection between our capacity for happiness and our understanding of life. In the Christian view, Christ stands in flesh and blood calling you nearer that your joy may be transformed by a present and enduring love.

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

(1) Armand Nicholi, The Question of God, (The Free Press:  New York, 2002).

(2) Ibid., 100.

(3) C.S. Lewis, Pilgrim’s Regress, (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, 1992), 123.

 

Alistair Begg – Exult and Rejoice

Alistair Begg

We will exult and rejoice in you.

Song of Songs 1:4

We will be glad and rejoice in You. We will not open the gates of the year to the sorrowful notes of the organ, but to the sweet strains of the harp of joy and the high-sounding cymbals of gladness. “O come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.”1

We, the called and faithful and chosen, will drive away our griefs and set up our banners of confidence in the name of God. Let others lament over their troubles; we with joy will magnify the Lord. Eternal Spirit, our effectual Comforter, we who are the temples in which You dwell will never cease from adoring and blessing the name of Jesus.

Jesus must have the crown of our heart’s delight; we will not dishonor our Bridegroom by mourning in His presence. We are ordained to be the minstrels of the skies; let us rehearse our everlasting anthem before we sing it in the halls of the New Jerusalem. We will exult and rejoice: two words with one sense, double joy, blessedness upon blessedness.

Need there be any limit to our rejoicing in the Lord even now? Do not men of grace find their Lord to be the sweetest of incense even now, and what better fragrance have they in heaven itself? We will be glad and rejoice in You. That last word is the meat in the dish, the kernel of the nut, the soul of the text.

What heavens are laid up in Jesus! What rivers of infinite bliss have their source, aye, and every drop of their fullness in Him! Since, O sweet Lord Jesus, You are the present portion of Your people, favor us this year with such a sense of Your preciousness that from its first to its last day we may be glad and rejoice in You. Let January open with joy in the Lord, and December close with gladness in Jesus.

1Psalm 95:1

 

 

Charles Spurgeon – A New Year’s benediction

CharlesSpurgeon

“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” 1 Peter 5:10

Suggested Further Reading: Revelation 21:1-6

Oh, beloved, when you hear of Christ, when you know that this grace comes through Christ, and the calling through Christ, and the glory through Christ, then you say, “Lord, I can believe it now, if it is through Christ.” It is not a hard thing to believe that Christ’s blood was sufficient to purchase every blessing for me. If I go to God’s treasury without Christ, I am afraid to ask for anything, but when Christ is with me I can then ask for everything. For sure I think he deserves it, though I do not. If I can claim his merits then I am not afraid to plead. Is perfection too great a boon for God to give to Christ? No. Is the keeping, the stability, the preservation of the blood-bought ones too great a reward for the terrible agonies and sufferings of the Saviour? No. Then we may with confidence plead, because everything comes through Christ. I would in concluding make this remark. I wish, my brothers and sisters, that during this year you may live nearer to Christ than you have ever done before. Depend upon it, it is when we think much of Christ that we think little of ourselves, little of our troubles, and little of the doubts and fears that surround us. Begin from this day, and may God help you. Never let a single day pass over your head without a visit to the garden of Gethsemane, and the cross of Calvary. And as for some of you who are not saved, and know not the Redeemer, I would to God that this very day you would come to Christ.

For meditation: The New Year may not always be as “Happy” as we would wish, but the Christian is blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3) and can look forward to a “Blessed New Year” throughout the problems that may come.

Sermon no. 292

1 January (1860)

 

John MacArthur – The Measure of True Success

John MacArthur

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus, and who are faithful in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 1:1).

Our society is success oriented. We love success stories. We even have television programs that exalt the lifestyles of the rich and famous. But God’s standard for success is quite different. Unimpressed by our status or wealth, He looks instead for faithfulness to His will.

Paul understood that principle and diligently pursued his calling as an apostle–one of those unique men who were foundational to the church and recipients, teachers, and writers of the New Testament.

That was a high calling, yet judging from Paul’s lifestyle most people would hardly call him successful– having suffered imprisonments, beatings, death threats, shipwrecks, robberies, hatred from his theological enemies, sleepless nights, hunger, thirst, and exposure to the elements (2 Cor. 11:23-27). But none of those things deterred him from obeying God’s will. His final testimony was, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). That’s true success! Although we’re not apostles, we’re to follow Paul’s example of faithfulness (1 Cor. 11:1). That’s possible because, like the Ephesian believers, we are “saints [holy ones] . . . who are faithful in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 1:1). By God’s grace we’ve trusted in Christ as our Lord and Savior (Eph. 2:8-9) and received His righteousness (Phil. 3:9), Spirit (Eph. 3:16), and every spiritual resource necessary for faithful, victorious Christian living (Eph. 1:3).

What remains is to cultivate greater love for Christ and more consistent obedience to His Word. Those are the hallmarks of a true disciple and God’s measure of success. Make it your goal that your life today warrants the Lord’s commendation, “Well done, good and faithful [servant]” (Matt. 25:21).

Suggestions for Prayer:

•             Praise God for His wonderful grace, by which He granted you salvation and all the spiritual resources you need.

•             Thank Him for His Word, where you learn the principles of godly living.

•             Ask Him for opportunities today to encourage the faithfulness of others.

For Further Study:

Read Ephesians 1:3-4; 2:10; Titus 2:11-12

•             What is the goal of your salvation?

•             Are you living each day in light of that goal?

 

Joyce Meyer – Mind, Mouth, Moods, and Attitudes

Joyce meyer

Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

—LUKE 10:19 KJV

This is typically how your mind, mouth, moods, and attitudes are connected: When you have a negative circumstance, you have a negative thought. Then you say a negative thing about the circumstance, and then your mood begins to sink. Next you get a bad attitude, and you end up with more negative circumstances than you started with.

But you can break this cycle in your life. Did you know that? Luke 10:19 says we have power to “tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy” (KJV). To tread means “to walk all over, to take steps, to take action, to resist.” You have the power to do these things. When you have a problem, nothing negative will fix it. Keep your mind, mouth, moods, and attitudes positive, and watch God work miracles on your behalf.

Power Thought: In Christ, I have power over negative thinking.

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The Bible’s No. 1 Promise

dr_bright

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, KJV).

As I travel from country to country, I find that millions of people in many countries and cultures are receiving Christ into their lives after hearing about Him for the first time. Millions of others would respond joyfully if they fully understood the truth of John 3:16, the most wonderful promise ever given to man.

Only through His indwelling presence can they live supernaturally. The first prerequisite to supernatural living, of course, is life – eternal life, supernatural life from God. I encourage you to meditate often on the content of this God-inspired promise:

God: The omnipotent Creator – loving, sovereign, holy, all-wise, ever-present, compassionate God who flung a hundred billion or more galaxies into space merely by speaking.

So loved: His love is unconditional and inexhaustible.

He gave: a gift that can never be earned by our good works, but can be received only by faith.

His only begotten Son: the most precious, priceless gift ever given – Jesus.

That whosoever: you and I and every person who inhabits the world.

Believeth in Him: believes that He is the Son of God and the Savior of the world, the one who died on the cross for the sins of all people everywhere and who was raised from the dead.

Should not perish: should not be eternally separated from God. “The Lord…is not willing that any should perish” (2 Peter 3:9, KJV).

But have everlasting life: not only in heaven, but also on earth, experiencing the supernatural, everlasting life of the indwelling, risen Savior.

Bible Reading: Romans 5:6-11

Today’s Action Point: If I am not already a believer in Christ, I will receive Him into my life as Savior and Lord today. If I am a believer and have not already done so, I will acknowledge His lordship in my life and begin to draw upon His resurrection power as a way of life. As I continue to claim His promise, I am confident that the result will be a full, abundant and supernatural life.

 

Presidential Prayer Team; P.G. – A New Year of Hope

ppt_seal01

According to the World Association of Publishers, more than half of the Earth’s adult population read the newspaper. The facts are hard to dismiss: newspapers are pervasive, and their influence is great. They are weavers of the fabric of society. Sadly, what they report seldom lends hope or feelings of security to the reader.

The hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth.

Colossians 1:5

For 2014, how about starting each day not with the newspaper, but with the Word of God? In those pages you’ll find the pathway to hope for the future, and confirmation that you’re on it. As you read, you’ll place yourself in an environment to grow into the person you want to be. What better resolution for the New Year than to spend more time with your Creator and the lover of your soul?

As you place yourself in the center of God’s Word and His will for your life, His reflected love will permeate and influence the lives of those around you, brightening the future. Won’t you also intercede daily for the nation’s leaders to find more time in the Bible for themselves? It is the only true hope for a weary America.

Recommended Reading: I John 3:16-24

Greg Laurie – The Leaning Tower of You

greglaurie

No one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.—1 Corinthians 3:11–12

Workers laid the foundation for one of Italy’s most famous structures in 1173, a tower designed to stand next to a cathedral. During construction, however, they discovered the soil was softer than previously thought, and the tower began to sink.

Today the top of that tower is nearly thirteen feet off center. People come from around the world to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and scientists travel to Pisa yearly to measure its slow descent. They calculate that at its current rate of decline, and without taking any countermeasures, it will one day collapse.

Nothing is more important in construction work than making sure you have the foundation right. If you don’t get that correct, then nothing else will matter. It may be more fun to decide what color to paint the rooms and how you will decorate the finished structure, but without a proper foundation, nothing else you do will last long enough to make any difference.

Smart and successful Christians build their lives on the right foundation. Scripture makes it clear that the only foundation possible for a sound spiritual life is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians

3:11). And where do you learn about Jesus? In the Word of God. The Word is truth and it will never lead you astray. If you are building your life on the right foundation, which is Jesus Christ, then you’re also regularly getting into the Word. Only that foundation will stand the test of time.

Don’t become the Leaning Tower of You.

Build your life on the foundation of Jesus Christ, as you learn of Him in Scripture and stand straight and tall as the years pass.

 

Max Lucado – The Truth About Life

Max Lucado

Hair transplants, surgery, color in a bottle. All to hide what everyone already knows—we’re getting older.

If you ever want to stall a conversation at a party just say, “How’re you feeling about your approaching death?” It won’t put much life into the conversation.

I have a friend who has cancer.  He’s in remission. A nurse unaware of his condition was asking a question for his medical record.  “Are you presently ill?”  “Well yes, I have cancer,” he said.  She looked at him and asked, “Are you terminal?” He responded, “Yes, aren’t we all?”

You’d think we weren’t, the way the subject is kept hush-hush. Jesus does His best work at such moments. Just when the truth about life sinks in, His truth starts to surface.

The next time you find yourself facing the undeniables of life, whisper His name. He is nearer than you think!

From God Came Near