Charles Stanley – The God Who Rescues

Charles Stanley

Hebrews 10:1-14

In ancient Israel, the priests were continually offering sacrifices to atone for the people’s sins. Specifically, the high priest annually entered the most sacred room in the temple to prepare a sacrifice that would absolve the entire nation of sin for that year. This room, which is known as the Holy of Holies, was where God’s Spirit dwelled in those days.

Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection changed the process. He became the High Priest, and the sacrifice was His own life—an offering powerful enough to pay the sin debt of all mankind. Through Jesus’ one offering, He made holy any person who trusts in Him as Savior. He does not have to die every year. And unlike the Jewish priests who could enter God’s presence only once annually, Jesus sat down at the Father’s right hand, to remain in His holy presence forever. There, Christ continues His work as High Priest by interceding on behalf of believers when Satan accuses them.

God recognized that in our humanity, we would remain weak—even after being born again (John 3:3; 2 Cor. 12:9). So His rescue plan extends beyond pardoning our sins. He also sends His Holy Spirit to indwell every Christian. That means the Helper is always present to guide us in making wise, righteous decisions.

The Father’s redemption plan meets all of mankind’s needs. Jesus Christ offered a perfect sacrifice to cover our every sin, and now He continues to intercede on our behalf. At the same time, the indwelling Holy Spirit molds us into holy creatures while helping us to avoid temptation.

 

 

Our Daily Bread — For The Long Run

Our Daily Bread

James 5:7-11

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. —James 5:7

A 2006 survey of more than 1,000 adults discovered that most people take an average of 17 minutes to lose their patience while waiting in line. Also, most people lose their patience in only 9 minutes while on hold on the phone. Impatience is a common trait.

James wrote to a group of believers who were struggling with being patient for Jesus’ return (James 5:7). They were living under exploitation and distressing times, and James encouraged them to “set the timer of their temper” for the long run. Challenging these believers to persevere under suffering, he tried to stimulate them to stand firm and to live sacrificially until the Lord returned to right every wrong. He wrote: “Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (v.8).

James called them to be like the farmer who waits patiently for the rain and the harvest (v.7) and like the prophets and the patriarch Job who demonstrated perseverance in difficulties (vv.10-11). The finish line was just ahead and James encouraged the believers not to give up.

When we are being tried in a crucible of distress, God desires to help us continue living by faith and trusting in His compassion and mercy (v.11). —Marvin Williams

For Further Thought

What is most difficult about being patient during

stressful times? Ask God for the grace to help

you live by faith and to live for the long run.

The way to great patience is through great trials.

Bible in a year: Genesis 25-26; Matthew 8:1-17

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – What Is New?

Ravi Z

The world is full of beginnings and endings. We begin a new year with a certain hope—another year, another chance, a new day. But we carry with us the same fears, the same longings, the same resolutions. A more cynical riposte thus might be: Is there ever really anything new about a new year?

When the past or present seems so broken that its shards seem to reach well into the future, new days are often filled more with fear than with promise. I remember a time myself when I could see the end of a difficult situation, but I could not see a beginning unmarred by the residue of the past. ”Is there really such a thing as new day?” was the question I held disconsolately. A friend gave me the following words and asked me to hold them instead:

“But this I call to mind,

and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases,

his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul,

‘therefore I will hope in him.’”(1)

Spoken in a time of exile, I imagine these words were as pungent for the people they were spoken to as they were for me. The ancient writer held fast to the assurance of things new, even in the midst of a situation that blinded him from any vision of what that could possibly mean. In all of the suffering and sorrow surrounding him, it would not have been unreasonable for him to admit that he saw no way out. With all the damage that had been done, with the uncertainty of exile, and the finality of a destroyed Jerusalem, no one would have blamed him for seeing new mornings as nothing but a cynical promise of more of the same.

But this was not the lament on this writer’s lips. Written in the style of an ancient funeral song, the writer’s words, though consumed with death, call to this God by name: The steadfast love of Yahweh never ceases, his mercies never come to an end. Another translation reads, Because of Yahweh’s great love we are not consumed; his mercies are new every morning. What the writer was able to see in the midst of his own lamentation is that only an all-powerful God can truly make a beginning. New mornings, new years, in and of themselves, are useless and worse than useless if they are not seen as belonging to the one who makes all things new.

And often, it is in the midst of a definitive ending that this particular God brings new beginnings to life. In a poem called “Ash Wednesday,” T.S. Eliot describes redemption as a figure moving about ashes and endings.

The new years walk, restoring

Through a bright cloud of tears, the years, restoring

With a new verse the ancient rhyme. Redeem

The time. Redeem

The unread vision in the higher dream.

Perhaps there is something restorative about a new years walk, something hopeful in unread visions and new days, precisely because there is a coming new day that this God has promised. Perhaps the hope promised in new mornings, the assurance of new mercies and new beginnings, is only a hint of the promise of a certain redemption, a new earth.  In this higher dream, God is the dreamer, redeeming worlds, redeeming time; God’s redemption is the great love that prevents us from being consumed.

It is no coincidence that the last words of the Christian story are aimed at describing the beginning of something more than we see now. Depicting the vision of “a new heaven and a new earth,” John reports a voice crying out: “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.”

This day is new because it is a day made by the God of visions and beginnings, the God who came to live among mortals, the God who offers himself as a new portion every morning. Behold him come, for this is the Christian hope of newness.

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

(1) Lamentations 3:21-24.

Alistair Begg – I Shall See God

Alistair Begg

In my flesh I shall see God.

Job 19:26

 

Consider the subject of Job’s devout anticipation: “I shall see God.” He does not say, “I shall see the saints”–though doubtless that will be untold happiness–but “I shall see God.” It is not “I shall see the pearly gates, I shall behold the walls of jasper, I shall gaze upon the crowns of gold,” but “I shall see God.”

This is the sum and substance of heaven; this is the joyful hope of all believers. It is their delight to see Him now in the ordinances by faith. They love to behold Him in communion and in prayer; but there in heaven they shall have an open and unclouded vision, and thus seeing “him as he is,”1 shall be made completely like Him.

Likeness to God–what more can we wish for? And a sight of God–what can we desire better? Some read the passage, “Yet I shall see God in my flesh” and find here an allusion to Christ as the Word made flesh, and that glorious beholding of Him that shall be the splendor of the latter days.

Whether so or not, it is certain that Christ shall be the object of our eternal vision; nor shall we ever want any joy beyond that of seeing Him. Do not think that this will be a narrow sphere for the mind to dwell in. It is but one source of delight, but that source is infinite. All His attributes shall be subjects for contemplation, and as He is infinite under each aspect, there is no fear of exhaustion. His works, His gifts, His love to us, and His glory in all His purposes and in all His actions, these shall make a theme that will be ever new.

The patriarch looked forward to this sight of God as a personal enjoyment. “Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.”2 Take realizing views of heaven’s bliss; think what it will be to you. “Your eyes will behold the king in his beauty.”3 All earthly brightness fades and darkens as we gaze upon it, but here is a brightness that can never dim, a glory that can never fade–“I shall see God.”

1 1 John 3:2

2Job 19:27

3Isaiah 33:17

Charles Spurgeon – Paul’s sermon before Felix

CharlesSpurgeon

“And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.” Acts 24:25

Suggested Further Reading: Acts 17:30-18:1

Felix, unhappy Felix! why is it that thou dost rise from thy judgment-seat? Is it that thou hast much business to do? Stop, Felix; let Paul speak to thee a minute longer. Thou hast business; but hast thou no business for thy soul? Stop, unhappy man! Art thou about again to be extortionate, again to make thy personal riches greater? Oh! stop: canst thou not spare another minute for thy poor soul? It is to live for ever: hast thou nought laid up for it—no hope in heaven, no blood of Christ, no pardon of sin, no sanctifying Spirit, no imputed righteousness? Ah! man, there will be a time when the business that seems so important to thee will prove to have been but a day-dream, a poor substitute for the solid realities thou hast forgotten. Dost thou reply, “Nay, the king has sent me an urgent commission; I must attend to Caesar.” Ah! Felix, but thou has a greater monarch than Caesar, there is one who is Emperor of heaven and Lord of earth: canst thou spare no time to attend to his commands? Before his presence Caesar is but a worm. Man! wilt thou obey the one, and wilt thou despise the other? Ah! no; I know what thou durst not say. Felix, thou art turning aside again to indulge in thy lascivious pleasures. Go, and Drusilla with thee! But stop! Darest thou do that, with that last word ringing in thy ears, “Judgment to come?” What! Wilt thou repeat that wanton dalliance that hath damned thee already, and wilt thou go again to stain thy hands in lust, and doubly damn thy spirit, after warnings heard and felt? O man! I could weep o’er thee.

For meditation: When you hear the Word of God preached, do you get impatient for the sermon to finish and forget about it as soon as you can? That can be a very dangerous habit. We need to act upon it there and then—receive, remember, repent (Revelation 3:3; Luke 8:18).

Sermon no. 171

10 January (1858)

John MacArthur – Living to the Glory of God

John MacArthur

God chose us “to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in [His beloved Son]” (Eph. 1:6).

Englishman Henry Martyn served as a missionary in India and Persia in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Upon his arrival in Calcutta, he cried out “Let me burn out for God.” As he watched the people prostrating themselves before their pagan idols and heard blasphemy uttered against Christ, he wrote, “This excited more horror in me than I can well express. . . . I could not endure existence if Jesus was not glorified; it would be hell to me, if He were to be always thus dishonored” (John Stott, Our Guilty Silence [InterVarsity, 1967], pp. 21-22).

Martyn had a passion for God’s glory–and he was in good company. Angels glorify God (Luke 2:14), as do the heavens (Ps. 19:1) and even animals (Isa. 43:20). But as a believer, you glorify God in a unique way because you are a testimony to His redeeming grace.

You were created for the purpose of glorifying God–even in the most mundane activities of life, such as eating and drinking (1 Cor. 10:31). You are to flee immorality so you can glorify God in your body (1 Cor. 6:19- 20). You are to walk worthy of your calling “that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified” (2 Thess. 1:12).

Glorifying God is an enormous privilege and an awesome responsibility. When others see His character on display in your life, it reminds them of His power, goodness, and grace. But when they don’t, it dishonors God and calls His character into question.

Aim your life at God’s glory and make it the standard by which you evaluate everything you do.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank the Lord for the privilege of glorifying Him.

Ask Him to show you any areas of your life that do not honor Him.

Find a trusted Christian friend who will pray with you and hold you accountable for the areas you know need to change.

For Further Study:

Read Exodus 33:12-34:8

What did Moses request?

What was God’s response and what does it teach us about His glory?

 

Joyce Meyer – Determine Your Priorities

Joyce meyer

You shall have no other gods before or besides Me. —Exodus 20:3

The best way to determine if God is first in your life is to slow down and ask yourself some simple questions: What do I think about the most? What do I pray and talk about the most? What do I do with my time?

You see, we always make time for what we really want to do— no matter how busy we are. If you want to spend time with God, then you are going to make Him a priority.

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where your priorities are out of line. Then allow His conviction to motivate you to seek a deeper relationship with God. It is God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, Who will give you the ability to adjust your lifestyle and bring it in line with the Word (see 1 Thessalonians 5:23 NLT). If you truly want Him to, He will enable you to put God first in your thoughts, conversations, and actions.

You may need to make some changes in your schedule, but they will be ones that will produce good results.

Power Thought: God is number one in my life.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Nothing You Cannot Do

dr_bright

“I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13, KJV).

What would you give for the power to live a truly holy, fruitful life? Strangely enough, it is yours for the asking. If your problem is timidity in witnessing, God promises to help you share your faith with others: “For the Holy Spirit, God’s gift, does not want you to be afraid of people, but to be wise and strong, and to love them and enjoy being with them” (2 Timothy 1:7).

If it is victory over temptation, He reminds us that temptation is not a sin; it is only in the yielding that it becomes sin.

If you need victory in your thought-life, He promises to allow no tempting or testing above that you are able to bear – and that certainly includes your thought-life (1 Corinthians 10:13). You are invited to “cast all your anxiety upon the Lord, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

If it is forgiveness you seek, He offers it freely. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, KJV).

In short, you have no burden, no problem, no need that is too big for our Lord to handle. “Ye receive not, because ye ask not,” He reminds us.

If your need is for physical healing, know that He is able to heal you if it is His will. If His answer to your prayer is no, thank Him for the sure knowledge that His grace is sufficient in the midst of pain and suffering. Acknowledge His sovereign right to be God in your life, whatever the cost may be. “Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him to help you do it and He will” (Psalm 37:5).

Bible Reading: Philippians 4:6-12

Today’s Action Point: I will begin this day – and every day – by committing everything I do to the Lord and expecting Him to help me. I will remember that I can do everything God asks me to do with the help of Christ, who gives me the strength and power (Philippians 4:13).

 

Presidential Prayer Team; J.K. – Courageous Changes

ppt_seal01

The human body truly is a magnificent creation. Consider the stomach – a muscular, hollow organ that stores, mixes and digests the food you eat, and protects you from infectious organisms. There’s also the heart what pumps oxygen-rich blood into every living cell in the body. It beats approximately 80,000 to 100,000 times a day, pumping almost 2,000 gallons of blood, for a lifetime.

What comes out of a person is what defiles him.

Mark 7:20

But these amazing physical characteristics can be overshadowed by the heart’s moral qualities, for it can pump out evil thoughts and words at an alarming rate. That is what defiles you, corrupting your life. The opposite, a right relationship with the Lord, is a matter of inward affection and attitude resulting in true worship of and obedience to Creator God. Exalting Scripture and holding its principles as truth will strengthen your faith…giving you confidence and direction to do God’s will.

The New Year can be a time of great opportunity for self-examination in order to make courageous changes. Take time to do that. Then intercede for this country’s people, and for your president and other leaders, that they would do the same and apply it to governing the nation.

Recommended Reading: I Thessalonians 3:11-4:7, 11-12

 

Greg Laurie – From His Perspective

greglaurie

Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” —Matthew 19:26

I heard the story of an elderly minister who liked to visit people in hospitals. He often would take along a little, embroidered bookmark that he carried in his Bible. On the back of the bookmark was a group of tangled threads with no apparent pattern. He would hand this bookmark, with the back facing up, to those who were hurting or upset and say, “Look at that and tell me what it says.” As they looked at all the tangled threads, they would say, “I have no idea what it says. It doesn’t seem to say anything.”

Then he said, “Now, turn it over.” As they would flip that bookmark over, they saw the words “God is love.” The minister would say, “Many times as we look at what God is doing, we just see tangled threads with no rhyme or reason. But from God’s perspective, He is dealing with us in love, and He knows what He is doing.”

The next time you think it’s all over for you, just remember how things turned out for Joseph in the book of Genesis. Just remember how things turned out for Daniel — no doubt things looked pretty grim when he was in the den of lions. It looked hopeless as well for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego when they were thrown into the fiery furnace. Things looked pretty hopeless for Peter when he was in prison, awaiting execution. And things certainly looked bleak for Martha and Mary when their brother died.

You see, things can look bad at one moment, but then God will step in and turn events around. Then as time goes on, you will look back and say, “Now I understand what God was doing.”

 

 

Max Lucado – Stubborn Peace

Max Lucado

Who do you know with a stubborn peace? Their problems aren’t any different, but there’s a serenity that softens the corners of their lips.

A priest visited just such a man in the hospital.  The man was nearing death. The priest noticed an empty chair beside the bed and wondered if someone else had been there. The old man smiled, “I place Jesus on that chair, and I talk to him.” The priest was puzzled so the man explained. “Years ago a friend told me prayer is as simple as talking to a good friend.  So every day I pull up a chair and Jesus and I have a good talk.”

When his daughter informed the priest her father had died, she explained, “When I got to his room, I found him dead.  Strangely, his head was resting, not on the pillow, but on an empty chair beside his bed.”  The picture of stubborn peace!

From The Applause of Heaven