Charles Stanley – Victory in the Battles of Life

Charles Stanley

1 Samuel 17:32-50

Have you ever failed at something simply because you did not plan it all the way through? Sadly, this is all too common among believers and non-believers alike.

If we want to achieve victory in our pursuits, we must be willing to plan. It’s not always enough to see a matter through to completion; we must also demonstrate the wisdom to consider all steps leading up to the challenge and all potential results that might follow. Then we’ll have a complete view and will begin to see the matter from the perspective of our heavenly Father.

When David confronted the Philistine warrior Goliath, he knew that he was entering into much more than simply a wartime dispute. He was keenly aware of the nature of the conflict—that is, God’s reputation was at stake because all the other nations would be watching to see what happened. Failure at this important juncture would have shown the world that Israel’s God was not all that powerful.

Not only did David understand the nature of the conflict; he walked into battle knowing the outcome. He’d been called to defeat Goliath and provide an unshakable testimony to the Almighty’s power. And he was fully confident that God would enable him to do just that.

If your pursuits keep falling short, ask yourself, Am I looking at the whole issue, or have I lost perspective? If your point of view is too limited, commit the matter to the Lord and allow Him to show you what He is able to do through your efforts.

 

 

Our Daily Bread — Where Have You Been?

Our Daily Bread

Romans 10:11-15

How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? —Romans 10:14

Missionary Egerton Ryerson Young served the Salteaux tribe in Canada in the 1700s. The chief of the tribe thanked Young for bringing the good news of Christ to them, noting that he was hearing it for the first time in his old age. Since he knew that God was Young’s heavenly Father, the chief asked, “Does that mean He is my Father too?” When the missionary answered, “Yes,” the crowd that had gathered around burst into cheers.

The chief was not finished, however. “Well,” said the chief, “I do not want to be rude, but it does seem to me . . . that it took a long time for you to . . . tell it to your brother in the woods.” It was a remark that Young never forgot.

Many times I’ve been frustrated by the zigs and zags of my life, thinking of the people I could reach if only. Then God reminds me to look around right where I am, and I discover many who have never heard of Jesus. In that moment, I’m reminded that I have a story to tell wherever I go, “for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved’ ” (Rom. 10:12-13).

Remember, we don’t have just any story to tell—it’s the best story that has ever been told. —Randy Kilgore

I love to tell the story,

For some have never heard

The message of salvation

From God’s own holy Word. —Hankey

Sharing the good news is one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.

Bible in a year: Exodus 9-11; Matthew 15:21-39

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Louder Than Words

Ravi Z

A popular group on Facebook hosts a collection of people very much opposed to the destruction of an historic fountain in downtown Copenhagen. The name of the group can be translated, “No to the Demolition of the Stork Fountain,” and its members’ outrage fills its Facebook wall. The creator of the group writes of the urgency of the need for action and the call to join the cause and get involved. Almost overnight participation in the cause went viral, members joining and getting the word out to their friends. Click here, forward there, speak out.

Ironically (and more ironic than activism that only requires joining a Facebook group), the cause was completely fictitious. The creator of the page, Anders Colding-Jørgensen, is a professor of Internet psychology who was conducting a social experiment on activism and online behavior. Sadly, had these outraged activists searched just a bit more for information, they would have read on the page itself that it was an experiment and that in fact Anders knew of no plans to destroy the fountain. Yet by the end of the experiment, more than 27,000 people had joined the group with a click of outrage and a desire to join the cause.(1)

Anders’ experiment is one example of what cultural commentators are calling “slacktivism,” online activism that essentially leads to nothing on the part of the participant and no real effect on the cause itself. Slacktivism offers the feeling of doing good without actually having done anything at all. Though not all online causes can be classified as such, they are appealing because they are so easy to join, though we often seem unconcerned with whether they actually accomplish something. It’s simply one more click, one more forwarded email, one more status update; it won’t require writing long letters, standing in lines, or marching the streets. No one will ask you to do anything, and you can feel good about your participation, brief though it is. We may very well be impassioned slacktivists (the Facebook vitriol over the demolition of the Stork Fountain or the acquittal of Casey Anthony was alarming), but they are really just words, a display for display’s sake.

It seems religion has often been accused similarly. Isn’t it all just words? Isn’t Christianity all talk, tenants, and tirades? The Theologian is an owl sitting on an old dead branch in the tree of human knowledge, says one critic, and he is hooting the same old hoots that have been hooted for hundreds and thousands of years, but he has never given a hoot for anything real. A nearby bumper sticker berates similarly, “Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day; give him a religion, and he’ll starve to death while praying for a fish.”

Even in friendlier circles, I am sometimes left with a similar impression among Christians that believing in Jesus has more to do with saying the right things, knowing the right words, holding the proper principles for a watching world. Many a church is filled with people who have the feeling of doing good without having really done anything at all. Knowing Christ can seem more a corollary to knowing the words than the other way around. Is Christianity simply a kingdom of words?

Jesus himself said the kingdom was like a sower who went out to sow seeds. (This does not sound like slacktivism!) Or as the apostle Paul writes eloquently elsewhere, “The kingdom of God is not in words.” What do they mean by this? And how might it answer both the skeptic who thinks religion is all talk and the Christian who reduces the kingdom to words and laws?

For starters I think it means that the kingdom isn’t calling for slacktivists, and that nothing we embrace with spirit and truth can be reduced to words or sermons or the ease of outrage. The kingdom Jesus presents is far more alive than this. More experiential. More whole.

One of my favorite stories of Jesus is in the way he responds to Mary and Martha after their brother has died. When he walks up to Martha, she is full of pain and essentially asks, “Jesus where were you? If you would have come my brother wouldn’t have died.” And Jesus gives her an answer. He says, “I am the resurrection and the life and the one who believes in me will not die. Your brother will rise again.” Jesus gives Martha what he knew she needed, an answer to an honest question. But then Mary comes up to Jesus and asks the exact same question. “Jesus where were you? If you would have been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.”

Here are two different people asking the same question. And Jesus understands that they need different answers. With Martha he gives her a rational answer. With Mary, he doesn’t say anything. It is the shortest verse in the Bible, in fact. We are simply told that Jesus wept. This was his response to her question. He knew she didn’t need words; she needed a more intuitive response. She needed to know that he heard and shared her pain.

Jesus takes these two identical questions and he knows they don’t need the same answers; they don’t just need words, they need a person, they need a kingdom. He could have told both of them to hold on, that he was about to perform a miracle and call Lazarus out of the grave. But he didn’t rush to that. He heard their questions and gave them a kingdom that is far more than words.

This is a cause worth dropping everything to join. Of course, it will also cost our very lives.

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

(1) Monica Hesse, “Facebook Activism: Lots of Clicks, but Little Sticks,” The Washington Post, July 2, 2009.

 

 

Alistair Begg – The Place of Service

Alistair Begg

But Martha was distracted with much serving.

Luke 10:40

Her fault was not that she served: The condition of a servant is commendable in the Christian. “I serve” should be the motto of all the princes of the royal family of heaven. Nor was it her fault that she had “much serving.” We cannot do too much. Let us do all that we possibly can; let head and heart and hands be engaged in the Master’s service. It was no fault of hers that she was busy preparing a feast for the Master. Happy Martha, to have an opportunity of entertaining so blessed a guest; and happy, too, to have the spirit to throw her whole soul so heartily into the engagement. Her fault was that she grew “distracted with much serving,” so that she forgot Him and only remembered the service. She allowed service to override communion, and so presented one duty stained with the blood of another.

We ought to be Martha and Mary in one: We should do much service and have much communion at the same time. For this we need great grace. It is easier to serve than to commune. Joshua never grew weary in fighting with the Amalekites; but Moses, on the top of the mountain in prayer, needed two helpers to sustain his hands.

The more spiritual the exercise, the sooner we tire in it. The choicest fruits are the hardest to rear; the most heavenly graces are the most difficult to cultivate. Beloved, while we do not neglect external things, which are good enough in themselves, we ought also to see to it that we enjoy living, personal fellowship with Jesus.

See to it that sitting at the Savior’s feet is not neglected, even though it be under the specious pretext of doing Him service. The first thing for our soul’s health, the first thing for His glory, and the first thing for our own usefulness is to keep ourselves in perpetual communion with the Lord Jesus and to see that the vital spirituality of our faith is maintained over and above everything else in the world.

 

 

Charles Spurgeon – The death of Christ

CharlesSpurgeon

“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” Isaiah 53:10

Suggested Further Reading: Acts 4:23-31

He who reads the Bible with the eye of faith, desiring to discover its hidden secrets, sees something more in the Saviour’s death than Roman cruelty or Jewish malice: he sees the solemn decree of God fulfilled by men, who were the ignorant, but guilty instruments of its accomplishment. He looks beyond the Roman spear and nail, beyond the Jewish taunt and jeer, up to the sacred fount, whence all things flow, and traces the crucifixion of Christ to the breast of deity. He believes with Peter—“Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” We dare not impute to God the sin, but at the same time the fact, with all its marvellous effects in the world’s redemption, we must ever trace to the sacred fountain of divine love. So does our prophet. He says, “It pleased Jehovah to bruise him.” He overlooks both Pilate and Herod, and traces it to the heavenly Father, the first person in the divine trinity. “It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief.” Now, beloved, there be many who think that God the Father is at best but an indifferent spectator of salvation. Others belie him still more. They look upon him as an unloving, severe being, who had no love to the human race, and could only be made loving by the death and agonies of our Saviour. Now, this is a foul libel upon the fair and glorious grace of God the Father, to whom for ever be honour: for Jesus Christ did not die to make God loving, but he died because God was loving.

“‘Twas not to make Jehovah’s love ‘Twas not the death which he endured,

Towards his people flame, Nor all the pangs he bore,

That Jesus from the throne above, That God’s eternal love procured,

A suff’ring man became. For God was love before.”

For meditation: Who so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son (John 3:16)?

Sermon no. 173

24 January (1858)

 

 

John MacArthur – Receiving Spiritual Enlightenment

John MacArthur

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened” (Eph. 1:18).

Spiritual enlightenment doesn’t come through self-effort orintrospective meditation but through God’s Holy Spirit.

Our society has been enamored with the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment, especially since the influx of Eastern thought into the West duringthe 1960s. Now we are drowning in a sea of false religions and New Age philosophies.

True enlightenment continues to elude many because they have denied itssource and have turned to gurus and teachers who have no light to give. They propagate self-effort and introspective meditation, but spiritual enlightenment doesn’t come through such means. It comes only through the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14-16). That’s why Paul prayed that God Himself would enlighten the hearts of the Ephesian believers (Eph. 1:18).

We might expect Paul to pray for enlightened minds rather than hearts, butthat’s because we associate the word heart with emotions rather than with thought. But in Hebrew and Greek thinking, the heart was considered the seatof knowledge, thinking, and understanding. For example, Jesus said that evilthoughts come out of the heart (Matt. 15:19). Emotions are important, butthey must be guided and controlled by an enlightened mind.

How does the Spirit enlighten you? As you pray and study God’s Word, He transforms and renews your mind (Rom. 12:2) by filling you with “the knowledge of [God’s] will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col. 1:9). He teaches you to recognize and uphold what is excellent so that you will be “sincere and blameless” before God (Phil. 1:10). He implants Biblical truthinto your thinking so that your responses become more and more like Christ’s.

How wonderful to know that each moment of the day God is workingwithin you in such a way. Be diligent to pray and spend time in the Word sothat your spiritual progress will be evident to all (1 Tim. 4:15).

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank God for the Spirit’s transforming work within you.

Reaffirm your love for Him, and express your willingness to bechanged by His Spirit in any way He sees fit.

Be alert for attitudes or actionsthat need to be changed. Rely on His grace and strength in doing so.

For Further Study:

Read Genesis 27–33, noting how God used the events of Jacob’s life to transform his weak spiritual commitment to one that was strong and unconditional (see especially Gen. 28:20-22; 32:9-12).

 

Joyce Meyer – Simply Grace

Joyce meyer

Through Him also we have [our] access (entrance, introduction) by faith into this grace (state of God’s favor) in which we [firmly and safely] stand. And let us rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God.—Romans 5:2

Actually, the grace of God is not complicated or confusing. It is simple, and that’s why many people miss it. There is nothing more powerful than grace. In fact, everything in the Bible—salvation, the infilling of the Holy Spirit, fellowship with God, and all victory in our daily lives—is based upon it. Without grace, we are nothing, we have nothing, we can do nothing. If it were not for the grace of God, we would all be miserable and hopeless.

In Luke 2:40 we are told that as a child, Jesus grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace (favor and spiritual blessing) of God was upon Him. This verse contains everything we need to be happy, healthy, prosperous, and successful in our Christian walk.

We often talk about all the things we need, but in reality there is only one thing that we need, and it is the same thing that Jesus needed: we need to become strong in spirit, filled with God’s wisdom and having His grace upon us. If you and I will allow the grace of God to have full reign in our life, nothing will be impossible to us. Without that grace, nothing is possible to us.

As Paul wrote to the believers in his day, everything we are and do and have is by the grace of God. You and I are one hundred percent helpless. Although we often confess as Paul did, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” that is only true by the grace of God (SEE Romans 3:24; 1 Corinthians 15:10; Ephesians 2:8).

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Christ Our Attorney

dr_bright

“If anyone publicly acknowledges Me as his friend, I will openly acknowledge him as My friend before My Father in heaven. But if anyone publicly denies Me, I will openly deny him before My Father in heaven” (Matthew 10:32,33).

Some time ago, I challenged a famous and successful statesman to share his Christian faith.

“I believe that religion is personal and private, not something to wear on your sleeve,” he replied. “I am a Christian, but I don’t want to talk about it.”

I reminded him that Jesus loved him enough to die for him. His disciples were so convinced of the urgency of passing on to others the message of God’s love and forgiveness through Christ that they, and many thousands like them – though they died as martyrs – did not give up their efforts to get the message to us.

Further, I reminded him of the words of Jesus, “He that is not with Me is against Me” (Matthew 12:30, KJV) and the passage above from Matthew 10.

He was very sobered by my remarks. After a few minutes, he said, “I agree with you. I realize how wrong I have been. I had never realized how far off course I had gotten. I need to rethink all of my priorities and give Christ His rightful place in my life.”

“My challenge to laymen,” R. G. Le Tourneau, one of America’s leading industrialists and Christian statesmen, once said, “is that when Christ said, ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel,’ He did not mean only preachers but everyone who believed in Him as the Lord of glory…….My challenge to you is for a return to this first-century conception of Christianity where every believer is a witness to the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Bible Reading: Psalm 119:41-48

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will publicly acknowledge my love for Christ, and through the enabling of the Holy Spirit I will live today so that others will want what I have, and I will speak so that they will know what I have.

 

Presidential Prayer Team; J.K. – Loving Tones

ppt_seal01

The passages preceding today’s verse in Psalm 19 speak of the law of the Lord as being perfect and sure, right and pure. Obedience of His commands was required of His people. Their response to His precepts either gave them a great reward or unwanted discipline.

By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

Psalm 19:11

It was all about a relationship…God sought to guide by speaking through His Word, and His people responded. Some today resist authority and seek to do what they want, but Old Testament believers understood that the Lord’s call to obedience was His invitation to blessing. It was not a cold, impersonal demand; it was His loving invitation to experience His best for them.

God wants the same for you. Know Him. Hear both the warnings and the promises…in the warmest and most loving of tones. If you truly love and trust Him, obedience will affirm that you have confidence that He is living and able.

Read Scripture each day. Make it a priority. Let it be your warning lest you fall into sin and temptation. And let it be your blessing of peace. Then intercede for the leaders of this nation that they would not rebel against God’s Word, but instead be guided by it.

Recommended Reading: I Peter 3:8-17  Click to Read or Listen

 

 

Greg Laurie – Crowded Out

greglaurie

The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity. —Luke 8:14

I have always been amazed by weeds. You can take a little flower, plant it in the perfect location, water it, and make sure there are no pests to threaten it. You can do everything possible for that flower, and it will slowly grow. But then, in the same amount of time, some weed springs up from a little crack in the sidewalk and that weed chokes out the flower.

But the weed doesn’t suddenly burst out of the ground, grab the flower, and start shaking it. The process is gradual. First, there is a flower growing, and then the weed appears. The next day, the weed is a little closer. And on it goes until the weed starts to wrap itself around the flower and choke out its growth.

That is what Jesus was describing in the parable of the sower when He spoke about those who are “choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity” (Luke 8:14). This isn’t something that happens overnight; it happens over a period of time.

I also find it interesting that it is the “cares, riches, and pleasures of life” that prevent the seed of God’s Word from maturing and producing fruit. These aren’t necessarily bad things in and of themselves. But these are good things that become the most important things and choke out the spiritual things.

This is not a picture of someone who says they don’t want to pray, read the Bible, or go to church. Rather, this represents someone who thinks those are good things to do. But over time, they start losing interest, and the things of this world become more important to them than the things of the next world. And that is what chokes them out spiritually.

 

Max Lucado – The Power of a Seed

Max Lucado

Want to see a miracle? Take a small seed, put it under several inches of dirt. Give it light, water, and fertilizer. It doesn’t matter that the ground is a zillion times the weight of the seed. The seed will push it back! Never underestimate the power of a seed.

James, the epistle writer, wasn’t a farmer.  But he knew the power of a seed sown in fertile soil. “Those who are peacemakers,” he said, “will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness” (James 3:18).

How good are you at sowing seeds of peace? Jesus modeled peace through acts of love, washing the feet of men he knew would betray him, and honoring the sinful woman whom society had scorned.

Want to see a miracle? Plant a word of love heart-deep in a person’s life. Nurture it with a smile and a prayer, and watch what happens!

From The Applause of Heaven