Charles Stanley – Our God Is Able

Charles Stanley

Jude 1:24-25

People fail. We do not like this reality, but there are times when, no matter how hard we try or how talented we may be, we simply do not succeed or reach our goal.

How are we to succeed at a given task, especially in situations when the odds are against us? For believers in Christ Jesus, the answer is to live out a radical faith in the knowledge that our God is willing and able to overcome our weaknesses.

Sarah laughed when she overheard the Lord prophesy that she would bear a son. “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?” He asked (Gen. 18:14). Within a year, that question was answered when the elderly woman gave birth to baby Isaac. She saw that God was able to accomplish the unimaginable.

When God sent Moses to Pharaoh to demand the release of the Hebrew slaves, Moses was scared. “Who am I,” he asked, “that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the Sons of Israel out of Egypt?” (Ex. 3:11). God replied with assurance that He would pave the way for the Hebrews’ release, which He did in a miraculous way. Truly, Moses saw that God was more than able.

On our own, we can accomplish nothing (John 15:5). However, when we operate within the will of God, we have access to a limitless power source that far exceeds our comprehension (1 Chron. 29:12). If you are overcome by the burdens of the world, it is time to throw yourself into the arms of the only one who can carry your heavy load (Matt. 11:28-30). Trust in Him and learn for yourself that God is able.

 

 

Our Daily Bread — Load Line

Our Daily Bread

1 Peter 5:5-9

Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. —1 Peter 5:6-7

In the 19th century, ships were often recklessly overloaded, resulting in those ships going down and the crews being lost at sea. In 1875, to remedy this negligent practice, British politician Samuel Plimsoll led the charge for legislation to create a line on the side of a ship to show if it was carrying too much cargo. That “load line” became known as the Plimsoll Line, and it continues to mark the hulls of ships today.

Sometimes, like those ships, our lives can seem overloaded with fears, struggles, and heartaches. We can even feel that we are in danger of going under. In those times, however, it is reassuring to remember that we have a remarkable resource. We have a heavenly Father who stands ready to help us carry that load. The apostle Peter said, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7). He is capable of handling the cares that overwhelm us.

Though the testings of life may feel like a burden too heavy to bear, we can have full assurance that our heavenly Father loves us deeply and knows our load limits. Whatever we face, He will help us to bear it. —Bill Crowder

Heavenly Father, I sometimes feel as if I can’t go

on. I am tired, I am weak, and I am worn. Thank You

that You know my limits better than I do. And that, in

Your strength, I can find the enablement to endure.

God may lead us into troubled waters to deepen our trust in Him.

Bible in a year: Exodus 7-8; Matthew 15:1-20

 

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – God and Pain

Ravi Z

The difficult question of pain forms a thorny question on which volumes have been written. Why do the innocent suffer? Why do we face all these diseases? Why the suffering of millions because of natural disasters or the tyranny of demagogues? I do not pretend to have the answers, but one thing I know: pain is a universal fact of life. Likewise, there are moral dimensions in the way we phrase our questions concerning pain, and every religion explicitly or implicitly attempts to explain pain.

But why do we even ask these questions about suffering within the context of morality? Why have we blended the fact of physical pain with the demand for a moral explanation? Who decided that pain is immoral? Indeed, almost every atheist or skeptic you read names this as the main reason for his or her denial of God’s existence.

In the Judeo-Christian framework, pain is connected to the reality of evil and to the choices made by humanity at the beginning of time. The problem of pain and the problem of evil are inextricably bound. So when we assume evil, we assume good. When we assume good, we assume a moral law. And when we assume a moral law, we assume a moral law-giver.

You may ask, Why does assuming a moral law necessitate a moral lawgiver? Because every time the question of evil is raised, it is either by a person or about a person—and that implicitly assumes that the question is a worthy one. But it is a worthy question only if people have intrinsic worth, and the only reason people have intrinsic worth is that they are the creations of One who is of ultimate worth. That person is God. So the question self-destructs for the naturalist or the pantheist. The question of the morality of evil or pain is valid only for a theist.

And only in Christian theism is love preexistent within the Trinity, which means that love precedes human life and becomes the absolute value for us. This absolute is ultimately found only in God, and in knowing and loving God we work our way through the struggles of pain, knowing of its ultimate connection to evil and its ultimate destruction by the One who is all-good and all-loving; who in fact has given us the very basis for the words good and love both in concept and in language.

Not far from my home lives a young woman who was born with a very rare disease called CIPA, congenital insensitivity to pain with anhydrosis. Imagine having a body that looks normal and acts normally, except for one thing: You cannot feel physical pain. That sounds as if it would be a blessing. But the reason it’s a problem is that she lives under the constant threat of injuring herself without knowing it. If she steps on a rusty nail that could infect her bloodstream, she wouldn’t even realize it by sensation. If she placed her hand on a burning stove, she would not know she had just burned her hand except by looking at it. She needs constant vigilance because she could sustain an injury that could take her life or cause serious debilitation. When her family was interviewed some years ago, the line I most remember is the closing statement by her mother. She said, “I pray every night for my daughter, that God would give her a sense of pain.”

If that statement were read in a vacuum, we would wonder what sort of mother she is. But because more than anyone else she understands the risks of this strange disease, there is no greater prayer she can pray than that her daughter feel pain and be able to recognize what it portends.

I ask you this simple question: If, in our finitude, we can appreciate the value of pain in even one single life, is it that difficult to grant the possibility that an infinite God can use pain to point us to a greater malady? We see through a glass darkly because all we want is to be comfortable. We cannot understand the great plan of an all-knowing God who brings us near through the value of pain—or of disappointment with pleasure.

And yet the very thing that enslaves and traps us becomes the indicator of our need for God and the means to draw us to the recognition of our own finitude and to the rescuing grace of God. The pain of pain may well clasp the lifesaving hand of God and draw us into God’s arms.

Ravi Zacharias is founder and chairman of the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

 

Alistair Begg – “We Remember Your Love”

Alistair Begg

We will extol your love more than wine.

Song of Songs 1:4

Jesus will not let His people forget His love. If all the love they have enjoyed should be forgotten, He will visit them with fresh love. “Do you forget my cross?” says He. “I will cause you to remember it; for at My table I will manifest Myself anew to you. Do you forget what I did for you in the council-chamber of eternity? I will remind you of it, for you shall need a counselor and shall find Me ready at your call.”

Mothers do not let their children forget them. If the boy has gone to Australia and does not write home, his mother writes, “Has John forgotten his mother?” Then there comes back a sweet epistle, which proves that the gentle reminder was not in vain. So is it with Jesus. He says to us, “Remember Me,” and our response is, “We will remember Your love.” We will remember Your love and its matchless history. It is as ancient as the glory that You had with the Father before the world was. We remember, O Jesus, Your eternal love when You became our Surety and chose us as Your bride. We remember the love that suggested the sacrifice of Yourself, the love that, until the fullness of time, mused over that sacrifice until what was written of You (“Lo, I come”) was fulfilled. We remember Your love, O Jesus, as it was manifest to us in Your holy life, from the manger of Bethlehem to the Garden of Gethsemane. We track You from the cradle to the grave–for Your every word and deed was love–and we rejoice in Your love, which death did not exhaust–Your love that shone resplendent in Your resurrection. We remember that burning fire of love that will never let You hold Your peace until Your chosen ones be all safely housed, until Zion be glorified and Jerusalem settled on her everlasting foundations of light and love in heaven.

 

 

Charles Spurgeon – The fainting warrior

CharlesSpurgeon

“O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 7:24,25

Suggested Further Reading: Galatians 2:1-13

It is Paul the apostle, who was not less than the very greatest of the apostles—it is Paul, the mighty servant of God, a very prince in Israel, one of the King’s mighty men—it is Paul, the saint and the apostle, who here exclaims, “O wretched man that I am!” Now, humble Christians are often the dupes of a very foolish error. They look up to certain advanced saints and able ministers, and they say, “Surely, such men as these do not suffer as I do; they do not contend with the same evil passions as those which vex and trouble me.” Ah! if they knew the hearts of those men, if they could read their inward conflicts, they would soon discover that the nearer a man lives to God, the more intensely has he to mourn over his own evil heart, and the more his Master honours him in his service, the more also does the evil of the flesh vex and tease him day by day. Perhaps, this error is more natural, as it is certainly more common, with regard to apostolic saints. We have been in the habit of saying, Saint Paul, and Saint John, as if they were more saints than any other of the children of God. They are all saints whom God has called by his grace, and sanctified by his Spirit; but somehow we very foolishly put the apostles and the early saints into another list, and do not venture to look on them as common mortals. We look upon them as some extraordinary beings, who could not be men of like passions with ourselves. We are told in Scripture that our Saviour was “tempted in all points like as we are;” and yet we fall into the serious error of imagining that the apostles, who were far inferior to the Lord Jesus, escaped these temptations, and were ignorant of these conflicts.

For meditation: Are there Christians—missionaries perhaps—to whom you look up in the wrong way? These deserve your respect, but they need your prayers, not your pedestals. They surely feel their own weakness and very probably look up to their own Christian heroes! The apostles knew their own and one another’s weaknesses and pointed away from themselves to their God (Acts 14:15).

Sermon no. 235

23 January (1859)

John MacArthur – Comprehending What You Have

John MacArthur

“[I pray] that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Eph. 1:17).

The late newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst invested a fortune in collecting great works of art. One day he read of an extremely valuable work that he determined to add to his collection. His agent searched the galleries of the world but to no avail. Finally, after many months of effort and at great expense, the agent found the prized art work: it had been stored in one of Hearst’s own warehouses all along!

That story parallels Christians who are constantly searching for something more because they don’t understand what they already have in Christ. Since Paul knew that was a potential problem, he prayed for God to enable us to comprehend our spiritual riches.

“Spirit” in verse 17 refers to a disposition or attitude of humility, such as, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matt. 5:3). “Revelation” is knowledge that God imparts through His Word. “Wisdom” is the application of that knowledge to daily living. The combined effect is a humble attitude toward God’s Word that compels you to learn it and integrate it into every aspect of your life.

On the human level the fullness of your inheritance in Christ is incomprehensible. God’s Word reveals many of its benefits and the Holy Spirit empowers you as you learn to live according to its principles, but much of it will remain a mystery in this life (1 John 3:2). Paul’s prayer is that you will understand as much as possible so that godly wisdom and revelation will govern all your attitudes and actions. Let that be your goal today.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank God for the incomprehensible riches that are yours in Christ.

Pray that you might always approach His Word with a submissive and teachable heart.

For Further Study:

Reviewing God’s promises motivates praise and reminds us of His gracious provisions. Read the following passages, noting the promises they contain: Psalm 29:11; Isaiah 26:3; 41:10; Matthew 6:25-33; John 14:2- 3, 13-14; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4; Philippians 4:6-7; 1 John 1:9; 5:11-12; Revelation 21:3-4.

Study your life. Does it demonstrate confidence in God’s promises?

 

Joyce Meyer – My Feelings

Joyce meyer

Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart a person believes (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Christ) and so is justified (declared righteous, acceptable to God), and with the mouth he confesses (declares openly and speaks out freely his faith) and confirms [his] salvation.—Romans 10:9–10

“But I can’t help the way I feel,” Angie moaned.

Most of us hear this statement often. It means that the way the person feels is settled, and they believe they have to go with those feelings. It’s like an unchallenged fact of life.

We have feelings, and sometimes they are strong, but we get confused. We allow our feelings to determine our decisions and, ultimately, our destiny. With that type of mindset, it means that if we feel discouraged, we are discouraged; if we feel victorious, we are victorious. It means that if we feel depressed, we must be depressed.

Someone once said, “My feelings are emotions; they are not reality.” In other words, just because we feel a certain way doesn’t make that feeling a fact. It only means that we feel that way. We must learn to press past our feelings.

Perhaps an example will help. Janet sells real estate, and when she makes a sale, she feels wonderful and successful. Last month she sold five upscale homes and made an excellent commission. This month she has sold only one, and she feels as if she’s a failure. Is Janet a failure? No. It’s just that on dark days, she feels that way; but that doesn’t mean it’s true.

Today I may not feel God at work in my life. But is that true, or is that the way I feel? I know many people who don’t feel loved by God—that’s how they feel, but it isn’t the truth.

The devil gains a stronghold in this area. If he can convince us that our feelings are reality, he has made great progress, and we are easily defeated.

Years ago, I spoke in a church, and many people came up to me to tell me how my message had encouraged them. I beamed because I was still new in the ministry, and I really needed lots of compliments in order to feel successful. One man said, “I didn’t agree with anything you said. You need to get your theology straight.” And he walked away.

Immediately discouragement overwhelmed me. I had tried hard to be God’s instrument to the people, and I had failed. As I left the church, I thought about what had happened. At least fifty people had told me how my words blessed them. One man came to me with a negative message. How did I react? I believed the negative. I allowed his words to shift my thinking, and I convinced myself I had failed.

I hadn’t failed. I had listened to the wrong voice and allowed it to control my feelings. I determined that never again would I allow one negative voice to discourage me and make me feel that I had failed. Perhaps I had failed to help that man—and I couldn’t do anything about it—but my teaching had touched many others. One woman had tears in her eyes when she told me that I had given her exactly the right word she needed to hear.

I did something else that night. I reminded myself that what I experienced had been a negative feeling, but it had not been reality. I began to quote Bible verses, reminding myself that Satan attacks us where we’re weak and vulnerable. I was new to public speaking, and the man with the negative word knew that.

I thought of Romans 10:9–10. We often quote these two verses when we speak to people about their salvation; however, the principle is there no matter what the subject. Paul says that we need to believe in our heart and confess with our lips. I stopped and said aloud, “God, I believe I am in Your service. I believe I did my best for You. I believe You used my words to bless many people. I do not have to listen to that one negative voice.”

Within minutes, I felt better. (See how quickly our feelings can change?) Reality hadn’t changed, but I had. I refused to allow negative, wrong thinking to turn me from reality.

Loving and caring God, forgive me for thinking wrong thoughts and for allowing wrong feelings to determine my attitude. I ask You, in the name of Jesus, to help me believe Your Word and to entertain positive thoughts. Amen.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – When You Open the Door

dr_bright

“Look! I have been standing at the door and I am constantly knocking. If anyone hears Me calling him and opens the door, I will come in and fellowship with him and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20).

“One morning I wanted to feed the birds,” a saint once said. “It was gray and cold, and the ground was covered with snow. I stepped out on the porch and flung them handfuls of crumbs and called to them. But there they sat, cold and hungry and afraid. They did not trust me.

“As I sat and watched and waited, it seemed to me I could get God’s view-point more clearly than ever before. He offers, plans, waits, hopes, longs for all things for our good. But He has to watch and wait as I did for my timid friends.”

What a simple thing it is to open a door!

That still, small voice of conscience that pricks you from time to time is probably Christ Himself knocking at the door of your heart. He is waiting for that very simple act by which you open that door – an act of your will acknowledging that Christ is making a claim upon your life. He has that right; He died for you.

If you are not absolutely sure that Christ is in your life, that you would go straight to heaven if you died today, you can be sure right now.

By faith, respond to the invitation of Jesus and open the door of your life to Him. Why not make this your prayer:

“Lord Jesus, I need You. I know You are the Son of God, the Savior of all men. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord.

“Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be. Enable me to live a supernatural life beginning today. Amen.”

If you asked Christ to come into your life, by faith, trusting that He has answered your prayer even as He has promised, then you can know with absolute certainty that He has done so.

Bible Reading: John 14:23-27

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: If I am already absolutely sure of my salvation, I will invite someone else today to pray this prayer. If I am not sure of my own spiritual condition, I will pray it for myself.

 

Presidential Prayer Team; J.R. – Street Corner Sacrifice

ppt_seal01

G. Gordon Liddy orchestrated the Watergate break-in that eventually toppled the presidency of Richard Nixon, and he served time for burglary and conspiracy. He wouldn’t make a good role model, but for all his faults, there is no questioning Liddy’s loyalty, misguided though it was. As the Watergate scandal was unfolding, Liddy famously told a Nixon aide: “I was the captain of the ship when she hit the reef and I’m prepared to go down with it. If someone wants to shoot me, just tell me what corner to stand on and I’ll be there!”

Try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.

Ephesians 5:10

Are you willing to do what is pleasing to the Lord…however difficult it may be? The only way to experience the full measure of God’s blessing is to offer everything – even to the point of saying “tell me what corner to stand on and I’ll be there!” He may not call you to such a sacrifice, but when you submit to His will completely, you will understand what Jesus meant when He said “whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39)

As you pray today for America’s leaders, ask God to help them make sacrifice, not self-importance, the hallmark of their service.

Recommended Reading: Matthew 10:34-39

 

Greg Laurie – The Sovereignty of God

greglaurie

Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you. —Psalm 119:91

Luke’s gospel tells the story of ten men with leprosy who were in need of a touch from Jesus. Leprosy was incurable. They asked Jesus for a healing, and He extended it to them. But out of the ten, only one returned to give Him thanks. We read that “one of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, ‘Praise God!’ He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done” (Luke 17:15-16, NLT).

Earlier he had prayed loudly for a healing, and then he was loud with his praise. I love the fact that the original language uses two words from which get our English word megaphone. The man was loud in thanking Jesus for what He had done for him.

As Christians, we should give thanks to God because we recognize that He is in control of all circumstances surrounding our lives. As Proverbs 16:9 reminds us, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps” (NLT).

God is sovereign, which means that God is able to do what He pleases with whomever He chooses whenever He wishes. The prophet Jeremiah said, “I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course” (Jeremiah 10:23, NLT). And we read in Proverbs 20:24, “The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?” (NLT). That is the sovereignty of God.

But what about when bad things happen? Is God still in control? Yes. And the Bible tells us that despite the bad things that happen, which many times are inexplicable, God can work all things together for good to those who love Him (see Romans 8:28). As the psalmist wrote, “Everything serves [His] plans” (119:91, NLT).

Max Lucado – Change Your Heart

Max Lucado

A woman battles with depression. What’s the solution suggested by some well-meaning friend? Buy yourself a new outfit! A husband is in an affair that brings him as much guilt as it does adventure. The solution? Hang out with people who don’t make you feel guilty. Change your style. Get a new haircut. Case after case of treating the outside while ignoring the inside.

And the result? The woman gets a new outfit, and the depression disappears…for a day, maybe. The husband finds a bunch of buddies who sanction his adultery.  The result…peace, until the crowd’s gone. Then the guilt is back. The exterior polished, the interior corroding. The outside altered, the inside faltering. One thing is clear. Cosmetic changes are only skin deep!

Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart” (Matthew 5:8).  And the message of the Beatitude is a clear one. You change your life by changing your heart!

From The Applause of Heaven