Charles Stanley – An Exercise in Casting Cares

Charles Stanley

Psalm 55:16-22

God’s shoulders are wide enough to carry your burdens. He is sovereign over the universe, so He is certainly capable of working out problems and meeting needs. Today I want to give you an exercise that will help make casting your cares a practical act.

First, write on a piece of paper the things that cause your anxiety. Once you start writing, you may discover a list of items that cheat you out of peace.

Next, pray each issue into God’s care. Recall Psalm 18:35, which promises that He upholds believers in His loving grasp.

Finally, as you pray, visualize placing the situation into God’s omnipotent hands. For example, a woman may imagine handing over to the Lord what she owes, while saying, “Father, I give You my financial anxiety. I know that You will show me how to get out of debt. You are more than sufficient to handle it, and I trust You to guide me.”

Some people may protest this suggestion because humanistic and pseudo-spiritual movements also use a method they refer to as “visualizing.” Don’t let anyone steal what is rightfully yours. God creates word pictures throughout the Bible. This exercise merely creates a mental snapshot of the Lord doing exactly what He says He will do (Ps. 55:22; Matt. 6:25-26).

When you have transferred all of your worries to God’s hands, wad up that paper in your fist, and then destroy it. In this way, you symbolize the transaction that just took place. Your cares are no longer yours. Every one of them belongs to the Lord. Walk away in perfect peace.

 

 

 

Our Daily Bread — Food In The Cupboard

Our Daily Bread

Matthew 6:25-34

Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about . . . what you will put on. —Matthew 6:25

My friend Marcia, the director of the Jamaica Christian School for the Deaf, recently illustrated an important way to look at things. In a newsletter article she titled “A Blessed Start,” she pointed out that for the first time in 7 years the school began the new year with a surplus. And what was that surplus? A thousand dollars in the bank? No. Enough school supplies for the year? No. It was simply this: A month’s supply of food in the cupboard.

When you’re in charge of feeding 30 hungry kids on a shoestring budget, that’s big! She accompanied her note with this verse from 1 Chronicles 16:34, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”

Year after year Marcia trusts God to provide for the children and staff at her school. She never has much—whether it’s water or food or school supplies. Yet she is always grateful for what God sends, and she is faithful to believe that He will continue to provide.

As we begin a new year, do we have faith in God’s provision? To do so is to take our Savior at His word when He said, “Do not worry about your life . . . . Do not worry about tomorrow” (Matt. 6:25,34). —Dave Branon

I don’t worry o’er the future,

For I know what Jesus said,

And today I’ll walk beside Him,

For He knows what is ahead. —Stanphill

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength. —Corrie ten Boom

Bible in a year: Genesis 36-38; Matthew 10:21-42

 

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Turned Inside Out

Ravi Z

Barbara Krensavage insists that clams are not a regular part of her diet. Yet one snowy evening in December she found herself craving an old recipe, and so brought home four dozen quahogs—a clam particularly abundant between Cape Cod and New Jersey. Mr. Krensavage was in the midst of shucking the shellfish for dinner when he discovered one that looked like it was dead. It had a different color to it and he thought it was diseased. As he was about to discard it, Mrs. Krensavage took a closer look.

It wasn’t dead. In fact, inside the live clam was a rare and possibly priceless, purple pearl. Experts estimate that roughly one in two million quahog clams contains a gem-quality pearl like the one found by the Krensavages. Due to the great rarity of the find, it has been difficult to even place a value on it, though some have estimated the pearl to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The message Jesus Christ brought to the world was one that spoke openly of a kingdom among us, where, like this discovery of the Krensavages, all is not as it may first appear. In a world that would seem to some more marked by disease than promise, he spoke of a treasure hidden, a mystery revealed in this life, worth selling all we have to possess as our own. He spoke of. Beside the sting of death, he spoke of life somehow stronger than death itself. He spoke of this kingdom as a present, real, and incomparable pearl of great price.

Yet even holding it, he noted that we may not always recognize its worth. On the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus stood with Peter, James, and John—three men who left lives behind to sit and learn at his feet—and there he was transfigured before them. These men knew Jesus better than any other. They were with him constantly, eating, sleeping, and learning; and they were terrified in his presence on the mountain. All three fell facedown on the ground, until Jesus came and touched them. As commentator Frederick Bruner describes what was happening on that mountain, “What Jesus was within was once made visible without.”(1)

In the Old Testament, the face of God was readily spoken of as too much for a person to see and yet live. Rabbinic reflection taught that Adam and Eve had lost the radiance of their faces in their fall from God, and that only the Messiah would reestablish this radiance once more. Here as the face of Christ “became like the sun,” it portrayed vividly the glory of God and the beginnings of God’s restorative work, a preview of the heavenly transfiguration awaiting those united with Christ. For the disciples, the sound of God’s voice and the reality of the Son were too much to behold standing.

Perhaps it is telling that the clam which held the pearl the Krensavages now treasure was the one that had the most outward appearance of death. As C.S. Lewis once wrote, “[I]t is, I think, a gross exaggeration to picture the saving of a soul as being, normally, at all like the development from seed to flower. The very words, repentance, regeneration, the New Man, suggest something very different.”(2) We cannot lay our hands on the thought that we are made in the image of God, invited to be formed at the hands of Christ, without laying down our entire lives before him, giving everything we have, being turned inside out, that we might one day stand in God’s glory. For the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

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

(1) Frederick Dale Bruner, Matthew, A Commentary: The Churchbook, Matthew 12-28 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004), 167.

(2) C.S. Lewis, Transposition and other Essays, ch. 3.

 

 

Alistair Begg – With Great Speed

Alistair Begg

But I give myself to prayer.

Psalms 109:4

Lying tongues were busy against the reputation of David, but he did not defend himself; he moved the case into a higher court and pleaded before the great King Himself. Prayer is the safest method of replying to words of hatred. The psalmist prayed in no coldhearted manner; he gave himself to the exercise–threw his whole soul and heart into it–straining every sinew and muscle, as Jacob did when wrestling with the angel.

Thus, and thus only, shall any of us speed at the throne of grace. As a shadow has no power because there is no substance in it, even so that supplication in which a man’s proper self is not thoroughly present in agonizing earnestness and vehement desire is utterly ineffectual, for it lacks that which would give it force.

“Fervent prayer,” says an old divine, “like a cannon planted at the gates of heaven, makes them fly open.” The common fault with most of us is our readiness to yield to distractions. Our thoughts go roving here and there, and we make little progress toward our desired end. Like quicksilver our mind will not hold together but rolls off this way and that. How great an evil this is! It injures us, and what is worse, it insults our God. What should we think of a petitioner if, while having an audience with a prince, he should be playing with a feather or catching a fly?

Continuance and perseverance are intended in the expression of our text. David did not cry once and then relapse into silence; his holy clamor was continued till it brought down the blessing. Prayer must not be our intermittent work but our daily business, our habit and vocation. As artists give themselves to their models, and poets to their classical pursuits, so must we addict ourselves to prayer. We must be immersed in prayer as in our element, and so pray without ceasing. Lord, teach us so to pray, that we may be more and more efficacious in supplication.

 

 

 

Charles Spurgeon – A home question

CharlesSpurgeon

“But are there not with you, even with you, sins against the Lord your God?” 2 Chronicles 28:10

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 7:1-5

Tell him that his sins deserve the wrath of hell. Make him feel that it is an awful thing to fall into the hands of our God, for he is a consuming fire. Then throw him down on a bed of spikes, and make him sleep there if he can. Roll him on the spikes, and tell him that bad as he is, he is worse by nature than by practice. Make him feel that the leprosy lies deep within. Give him no rest. Treat him as cruelly as he could treat another. It would only be his deserts. But who is this that I am telling you to treat so? Yourself, my hearer, yourself. Be as severe as you can, but let the culprit be yourself. Put on the wig, and sit upon the judgment-seat. Read the king’s commission. There is such a commission for you to be a judge. It says—Judge thyself—though it says judge not others. Put on, I say, your robes; sit up there Lord Chief Justice of the Isle of Man, and then bring up the culprit. Make him stand at the bar. Accuse him; plead against him; condemn him. Say: “Take him away, jailor.” Find out the hardest punishment you can discover in the statute book, and believe that he deserves it all. Be as severe as ever you can on yourself, even to the putting on the black cap, and reading the sentence of death. When you have done this, you will be in a hopeful way for life, for he that condemns himself God absolves. He that stands self-convicted, may look to Christ hanging on the cross, and see himself hanging there, and see his sins for ever put away by the sacrifice of Jesus on the tree.

For meditation: Does your heart condemn you before God? The Lord Jesus Christ is your defence lawyer, but only if you are trusting in him as your Saviour, and he can silence even the condemnation coming from your own heart (1 John 2:1; 3:19-23).

Sermon no. 294

15 January (1860)

John MacArthur – Resting in God’s Sovereignty

John MacArthur

God made known the mystery of His will “according to His kind intention which He purposed in [Christ] with a view to an administration suitable to the fulness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth” (Eph. 1:9-10).

For centuries men of various philosophical schools have debated the cause, course, and climax of human history. Some deny God and therefore deny any divine involvement in history. Others believe that God set everything in motion, then withdrew to let it progress on its own. Still others believe that God is intimately involved in the flow of human history and is directing its course toward a specific, predetermined climax.

In Ephesians 1:9-10 Paul settles that debate by reminding us that Jesus Himself is the goal of human history. In Him all things will be summed up–all human history will be resolved and united to the Father through the work of the Son.

As Paul said elsewhere, “It was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fulness [of deity] to dwell in [Christ], and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Col. 1:19-20). The culmination of Christ’s reconciling work will come during His millennial kingdom (Rev. 20). Following that, He will usher in the eternal state with a new heaven and earth (Rev. 21).

Despite the political uncertainty and military unrest in the world today, be assured that God is in control. He governs the world (Isa. 40:22-24), the nations (Isa. 40:15- 17), and individuals as well (Prov. 16:9). God’s timetable is right on schedule. Nothing takes Him by surprise and nothing thwarts His purposes. Ultimately He will vanquish evil and make everything right in Christ.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank God for the wisdom and insight He gives you to see beyond your temporal circumstances to His eternal purposes.

Live today with that perspective in mind.

For Further Study:

Read Revelation 20

What happens to Satan prior to the millennial kingdom?

How does Satan meet his final doom?

What happens at the great white throne judgment?

 

 

Joyce Meyer – Accidental Sin

Joyce meyer

No one born (begotten) of God [deliberately, knowingly, and habitually] practices sin, for God’s nature abides in him [His principle of life, the divine sperm, remains permanently within him]; and he cannot practice sinning because he is born (begotten) of God.—1 John 3:9

I like to put it this way: I used to be a full-time sinner, and once in a while I accidentally slipped up and did something right. But now that I have spent many years developing a deep, personal relationship with God and His Word, I concentrate on being a full-time obedient child of God. I still make mistakes, but not nearly as many as I once did. I am not where I need to be, but thank God I am not where I used to be.

There are times when I accidentally make mistakes, but it is not the desire of my heart to do wrong. I do not deliberately or knowingly commit sin. I do not habitually sin. So I don’t allow those occasions to make me feel insecure. I don’t do everything right, but I do know that the attitude of my heart is right.

I can be having an absolutely wonderful day, feeling very close to the Lord and quite spiritual. Then my husband, Dave, comes home and says he does not care for the outfit I am wearing, and I suddenly become angry and defensive, telling him everything I don’t like about him either. I don’t intend for that to happen; in fact, I plan to be very sweet and submissive when he comes home.

But, as Paul said in Romans 7, the things I want to do, I don’t do, and the things I don’t want to do, I end up doing. We plan for right behavior because our hearts are right, but like Paul our plans don’t always work. Thank God for His mercy that is new every day (Lamentations 3:22-23).

 

 

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Your Paths Made Plain

dr_bright

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5,6, KJV).

A young seminary graduate came to see me while he was investigating various possibilities of Christian service. In particular, he had come to discuss the ministry of Campus Crusade.

“In what way do you expect God to reveal His place of service for you?” I asked him.

“I’m following the ‘closed-door policy,'” he replied.” A few months ago I began to investigate several opportunities for Christian service. The Lord has now closed the door on all but two, one of which is Campus Crusade. If the door to accept a call to a particular church closes, I’ll know that God wants me in Campus Crusade.”

Many sincere Christians follow this method – often with most unsatisfactory and frustrating results. God does sometimes use closed doors in the life of a Spirit-controlled Christian, as the apostle Paul experienced on different occasions, but generally one does not discover God’s perfect will through a careless “hit-or-miss” attitude that ignores a careful evaluation of all the issues.

Such an approach is illogical because it allows elements of chance to influence a decision rather than a careful, intelligent, prayerful evaluation of all the factors involved. It is unscriptural in that it fails to employ the God-given faculties of reason that are controlled by the Holy Spirit.

Why not follow the “open-door policy” of Proverbs 3:5,6, trusting God for His clear direction? This is God’s provision for supernatural living.

Bible Reading: Psalm 37:3-7

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: In every decision today, whether small or large matters, joyfully and with anticipation I will trust in the Lord with all my heart, knowing that He will direct my path to supernatural living. I will encourage others also to trust in the Lord.

 

 

Presidential Prayer Team; P.G. – Automatic Response

ppt_seal01

Last year in Muskegon, MI, a Navy SEAL veteran spoke to a group of 10-15 year old boys on how important it is to be disciplined, hard working and faithful in an elite military group. Anyone who has spent time in the Armed Forces understands discipline. A valued soldier has trained repeatedly in the same activities so ultimately his or her responses are instinctual and automatic. Survival depends on it.

I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.

Psalm 40:8

When you are in the center of God’s will, your subconscious desire is consistent with His Word. Your response, even under stressful situations, is automatic because you have immersed yourself in Scripture…memorizing, meditating, practicing. You are disciplined.

As with a soldier, that discipline is acquired over time. As the SEAL reminded the children, a goal without a plan is only a wish, and discipline demands consistency. If you have yet to establish a regular time of Bible study or prayer, start today. Intercede, too, for the spiritual discipline of those in government – and for those leaders who don’t yet know God’s amazing grace to find it personally in 2014.

Recommended Reading: Psalm 40:1-11

 

 

Greg Laurie – Songs in the Night

greglaurie

The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me — a prayer to the God of my life. —Psalm 42:8

Have you ever been awakened in the middle of the night and had a Christian song or a worship chorus going through your mind? If so, then that tells me you are laying up the things of God in your heart. Instead of waking up with the latest pop music in your head, you are thinking of a Christian song or maybe a Scripture verse. That is a song in the night God has given you.

When Paul and Silas were thrown into prison in Philippi, Acts 16 tells us that “at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (verse 25).

The word “listening” used here is significant. In the original language, it means to listen very, very carefully. Another way to translate it is “they listened with pleasure.” There are some things that aren’t a pleasure to listen to — they are painful, like fingernails on a chalkboard. But this was pleasurable, like when your favorite song comes on the radio and you turn it up. Oh, I love this song! This is a great song! That is how the prisoners were listening.

I doubt they had ever heard anyone sing in that dungeon before. And I think the simple fact that they were singing at all in such a place was a powerful testimony. It was a platform for evangelism. You see, you can talk about trusting God in adversity, but when someone sees it in action in your life, there is an undeniable authenticity. It is a powerful witness. Worship can be a powerful tool for a nonbeliever to be exposed to.

When you are in pain, the midnight hour is not the easiest time for a worship service. But God can give you songs in the night. And never doubt it: people will be listening.

 

Max Lucado – The Prison of Pride

Max Lucado

The prison of pride. You’ve seen the prisoners—the alcoholic who won’t admit his drinking problem; the woman who refuses to talk to anyone about her fears. Perhaps to see such a prisoner all you have to do is look in the mirror!

The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us” (I John 1:9). The biggest word in Scripture just might be that two-letter one, if.

Confessing sins, admitting failure, is exactly what prisoners of pride refuse to do. They say, “Listen, I’m just as good as the next guy.”  “I pay my taxes.” Justification. Rationalization. Comparison. These are the tools of the jailbird. But in the kingdom of God they sound hollow. Many know they’re wrong, yet pretend they are right. As a result they never taste the exquisite sorrow of repentance.

Blessed are those who know they’re in trouble and have enough sense to admit it!

From The Applause of Heaven