Charles Stanley – The Blessings of God

Charles Stanley

Ephesians 1:3-14

Everyone experiences difficulty in life. During painful times, we may feel as though God is not blessing us. But even then, we are experiencing many of His amazing gifts, despite the fact that they might be escaping our notice.

Below are several examples of blessings we can enjoy on bright or dark days:

• We are assured that our almighty God chose us before the foundation of the world (v. 4). He predestined us to be adopted as His children (v. 5). We can feel special and wanted because the Sovereign of the universe selected us.

• Jesus provided our salvation through His death and resurrection (v. 7). He redeemed us from sin that causes separation from God and ultimately leads to death. As a result, we receive a brand-new nature and daily forgiveness of iniquities (2 Cor. 5:17; 1 John 1:9).

• The Holy Spirit resides within us. He guides, warns, and fills us so we always have access to counsel or comfort. And because He also seals us, our eternity is secure (Eph. 1: 13).

• Our Father prepares an inheritance for us that is imperishable (1 Peter 1:4). We may experience momentary troubles, but we can look forward to living eternally in God’s presence, where there is joy and no suffering.

In painful situations, you might be tempted to conclude that the Lord’s hand isn’t resting on your life. But believers have wonderful spiritual blessings at all times. Without the four permanent gifts listed above, fear and emptiness would be overwhelming. Ponder these benefits, and express gratitude, even in difficulty.

 

Our Daily Bread — Buyer’s Remorse

Our Daily Bread

Genesis 3:1-8

He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness. —Isaiah 61:10

Have you ever experienced buyer’s remorse? I have. Just prior to making a purchase, I feel the surge of excitement that comes with getting something new. After buying the item, however, a wave of remorse sometimes crashes over me. Did I really need this? Should I have spent the money?

In Genesis 3, we find the first record of a buyer’s remorse. The whole thing began with the crafty serpent and his sales pitch. He persuaded Eve to doubt God’s Word (v.1). He then capitalized on her uncertainty by casting doubt on God’s character (vv.4-5). He promised that her eyes would “be opened” and she would become “like God” (v.5).

So Eve ate. Adam ate. And sin entered the world. But the first man and woman got more than they bargained for. Their eyes were opened all right, but they didn’t become like God. In fact, their first act was to hide from God (vv.7-8).

Sin has dire consequences. It always keeps us from God’s best. But God in His mercy and grace clothed Adam and Eve in garments made from animal skins (v.21)—foreshadowing what Jesus Christ would do for us by dying on the cross for our sins. His blood was shed so that we might be clothed with His righteousness—with no remorse! —Poh Fang Chia

Then will I set my heart to find

Inward adornings of the mind:

Knowledge and virtue, truth and grace,

These are the robes of richest dress. —Watts

The cross, which reveals the righteousness of God, provides that righteousness for mankind.

Bible in a year: Exodus 25-26; Matthew 20:17-34

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – God in Public

Ravi Z

God has been in the news a lot lately. From Christian prayers in council meetings, to statements from the highest echelons of the Royal Family and the government, discussion of the place of God and in particular the role of Christianity in Britain today has been in the news on a daily basis. The former Archbishop of Canterbury’s debate with Professor Richard Dawkins captured the twittersphere as Dawkins argued that religion had no place in the 21st century. It seems it is now acceptable to discuss the Christian faith and belief in God in public. From radio studios to the school gate I have enjoyed being a part of this. The role of God in Britain is being discussed up and down the country in government, education, legislation, and community life in a way that I can’t remember in recent history.

While secularism insists that nothing good comes from religion, isn’t it actually the case that it is a Christian heritage that actually provides us with this free and open society—encouraging people to question and reason for themselves? For many, religious faith is a process, a journey of discovery on the basis of evidence, reason, and personal experience. Christianity has provided the foundation in Britain for an open and tolerant society. It was the great Christian leader Augustine who coined the phrase tolerare malus. He claimed that political structure influenced by the Christian faith must tolerate that which it disagreed with and perceived as wrong for the greater good of freedom.

Freedom and tolerance of others arise from a worldview—a set of values and beliefs that are conducive to liberty, they do not come about by random chance. In Britain this foundation or worldview has undeniably been the Christian faith. But this seems to fly in the face of the claims made by leading atheists that belief in God is delusional and oppressive and that people in Britain are not truly religious anyway. Invoking what has come to be known by sociologists as the secularization thesis they tell us that modern countries eventually turn their back on spiritual belief. That as people progress they become less religious.

However, this myth of secularization has plainly not panned out and it has been soundly debunked within academia. The leading sociologist Mary Douglas announced the death of the secularization theory in 1982 in an essay that began with the words, “Events have taken religious studies by surprise.” Even prominent proponents of secularization like sociologist Peter Berger have now abandoned the theory since the world is plainly becoming more religious not less.

Our most profound laws and rights, and the concept of the dignity of the human person expounded in the Magna Carta arise from a Christian vision and assume God’s existence. Our greatest social reform movements from the abolition of the slave trade to the reform of child labor laws, and many other justice movements are the bequest of our Christian heritage as a country. Britain has benefitted so much in our history from Christianity—and this continues today as we see the values of the charitable, tolerant society envisaged by St. Augustine allow for Rowan Williams and Richard Dawkins to debate without fear of reprisals. Does everyone in Britain agree with the central tenets of the Christian faith? No, of course not, but does our Christian heritage make a way for peace, courteous debate, tolerance, inclusion, and freedom? I believe it does.

As people up and down the country discuss belief in God and the newspapers continue to run stories about Christianity, it is my hope that we will continue to see a greater openness to speak and inquire about the gospel in Britain.

Amy Orr-Ewing is director of programmes for the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics and UK director for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Oxford, England.

(1) Adapted from an article appearing in Christianity Magazine, March 2012.

 

 

Alistair Begg – The Pace of Your Spiritual Journey

Alistair Begg

Daily Devotional for January 31, 2014

2 Samuel 18:23

Running is not everything. There is much in the way that we select: A swift foot over hill and down dale will not keep pace with a slower traveler upon level ground. How is it with my spiritual journey? Am I laboring up the hill of my own works and down into the ravines of my own humiliations and resolutions, or do I run by the plain way of “Believe and live”?

How blessed is it to wait upon the Lord by faith! The soul runs without weariness and walks without fainting in the way of believing. Christ Jesus is the way of life, and He is a plain way, a pleasant way, a way suitable for the tottering feet and feeble knees of trembling sinners. Am I found in this way, or am I hunting after another track such as priestcraft or metaphysics may promise me?

I read of the way of holiness, that the wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err therein. Have I been delivered from proud reason and been brought as a little child to rest in Jesus’ love and blood? If so, by God’s grace I shall outrun the strongest runner who chooses any other path.

This truth I may remember to my profit in my daily cares and needs. It will be my wisest course to go at once to my God, and not to wander in a roundabout manner to this friend and that. He knows my wants and can relieve them. To whom should I repair but to Himself by the direct appeal of prayer and the plain argument of the promise? “Straightforward makes the best runner.” I will not parley with the servants but hasten to their master.

In reading this passage, it strikes me that if men vie with each other in common matters, and one outruns the other, I ought to be in solemn earnestness so to run that I may obtain. Lord, help me to gird up the loins of my mind, and may I press forward toward the mark for the prize of my high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

 

Charles Spurgeon – The two talents

CharlesSpurgeon

“He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” Matthew 25:22-23

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Chronicles 29:1-17

If by divine grace—(and it is only by divine grace that this can ever be accomplished)—our two talents be rightly used, the fact that we did not have five, will be no injury to us. You say, when such a man dies, who stood in the midst of the church, a triumphant warrior for the truth, the angels will crowd to heaven’s gates to see him, for he has been a mighty hero, and done much for his Master. A Calvin or a Luther, with what plaudits shall they be received!—men with talents, who have been faithful to their trust. Yes, but know ye not, that there is many a humble village pastor whose flock scarcely numbers fifty, who toils for them as for his life, who spends hours in praying for their welfare, who uses all the little ability he has in his endeavour to win them to Christ; and do ye imagine that his entry into heaven shall be less triumphant than the entry of such a man as Luther? If so, ye know not how God dealeth with his people. He giveth them rewards, not according to the greatness of the goods with which they were entrusted, but according to their fidelity thereunto, and he that hath been faithful in the least, shall be as much rewarded, as he that hath been faithful in much. I want you briefly to turn to the chapter to see this. You will note first, that the man with two talents came to his Lord with as great a confidence as the man that had five. “And he said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents; behold, I have gained two talents beside them.”

For meditation: These words, spoken exactly 34 years before the day on which Spurgeon died, remind us not to covet the gifts of a Spurgeon. Our concern, as believers, should not be how much we have got from God, but how much we gladly use whatever we have got for God (1 Corinthians 4:2; 2 Corinthians 8:12).

Sermon no. 175

31 January (1858)

 

 

John MacArthur – Complementing Christ

John MacArthur

God exalted Christ “and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23).

Here Paul uses a graphic analogy to illustrate the relationship of Christ to the church: He is the head; believers are His body. Paul elaborates that we’re to hold “fast to the head [Christ], from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God” (Col. 2:19; cf. Eph. 4:15-16).

Just as the head controls the human body, so Christ governs His Body, the church (cf. 1 Cor. 12:12-31). By His Spirit and His Word He supplies all the resources the church needs to function to His glory. In that way He guarantees that His purposes will be fulfilled.

The church is in fact “the fulness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:23). The implication is that the incomprehensible, all-sufficient, all-powerful, and utterly supreme Christ is in a sense incomplete–not in His nature, but in the degree to which His glory is seen in the world.

A synonym for “fulness” is “complement.” The church was designed to complement Christ. He is the One who fills all in all”–the fullness of deity in bodily form (Col. 2:9) and the giver of truth and grace (John 1:16). Yet He chooses to reveal His glory in and through the church. Therefore, until the church is fully glorified, Christ will not be fully complemented.

Does your life complement Christ? Do you “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect” (Titus 2:10)? Do you “let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16)? You have every spiritual resource to do so, so don’t let anything hold you back (Heb. 12:1-2)!

Suggestions for Prayer:

Read Psalm 139:23-24 and pray with David that God will search your heart and reveal any sin that might hinder you from complementing Christ today.

For Further Study:

Read 1 Corinthians 12:1-30

What spiritual gifts are mentioned in this passage?

How does Paul deal with the misconception that some gifts are more important than others (see vv. 14-30)?

As a member of Christ’s Body, you are gifted by the Spirit to minister to others. Are you doing so?

 

 

Joyce Meyer – Choose to Please God

Joyce meyer

Now am I trying to win the favor of men, or of God? Do I seek to please men? If I were still seeking popularity with men, I should not be a bond servant of Christ (the Messiah)..—Galatians 1:10

The apostle Paul said that in his ministry he had to choose between pleasing men and pleasing God. That is a choice you also must make.

If your goal is to build a name for yourself and win favor with people, it will cause you to live in fear of man rather than in fear of God.

For years I tried to build my own reputation among believers by striving to win the favor of men. But through bitter experience I learned I was submitting to a sort of slavery to people. God helped me realize I could only be truly free in Him.

If you are trying to build your reputation with people, it’s time to give up all your own human efforts and simply trust God. He will give you supernatural favor with the people that are right for you.

 

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – God’s Secret Plan for You

dr_bright

“God has told us His secret reason for sending Christ, a plan He decided on in mercy long ago; and this was His purpose: that when the time is ripe He will gather us together from wherever we are – in heaven or on earth – to be with Him in Christ, forever” (Ephesians 1:9,10).

One day a distinguished scientist questioned Michael Faraday, chemist, electrician and philosopher.

“Have you conceived to yourself what will be your occupation in the next world?” he asked.

Hesitating a moment or two, Faraday replied, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things that God hath prepared for them that love Him.” And then he added, in his own words, “I shall be with Christ, and that is enough.”

Although nearly two thousand years have passed since He walked this earth, Jesus still stands as the ultimate expression of ethics and morality. Whatever one might think about Christians or the church, he will find no blemishes in the character of Jesus.

Perhaps the greatest testimony that can be given regarding the character of Jesus’ teachings is that they are still changing men and nations throughout the world today. Now, as before, those who listen to Him inevitably say “No man ever spoke like this man!” (John 7:46, RSV).

God’s Word tells us that Jesus had the same temptations we do, though He never once gave way to them and sinned (Hebrews 4:15). Our Lord thus stands out as the supreme example of one who practiced the things that He taught to others and that He expects of His followers.

We still stand today in the shadow of God’s sure promise: “For God has allowed us to know the secret of His plan, and it is this: He purposes in His sovereign will that all human history shall be consummated in Christ, that everything that exists in heaven or earth shall find its perfection and fulfillment in Him. And here is the staggering thing that in all which will belong to Christ we have been promised a share” (Ephesians 1:9-11, Phillips).

Bible Reading: Ephesians 1:11-14

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will meditate upon the fact that I am a child of God, and heir of God and joint-heir with Christ; and upon the startling, incredible fact that I am related to Him and share with Him in all of this indescribable privilege and blessing. As a result I will claim His supernatural love and power and will speak more freely to others of my relationship with Him.

 

Presidential Prayer Team; J.K. – An Everlasting Presence

ppt_seal01

The Old Testament people of God could approach Him in the temple or the tabernacle. But the New Testament emphasis shifts from God dwelling with His people to His dwelling in them.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.

Colossians 3:16

Two Greek words are used to convey this thought. The first tells that God settles down in the hearts of His people. It is now the personality of the believer that is the residence filled with His living presence. The second word communicates the establishment of permanent residence. Not an occasional visit; God’s is an everlasting presence. This ideal condition involves letting the Word of Christ dwell in you…not just His sayings, but the entire book of Scripture. Studying it daily will provide a guide to wisdom and a life filled with abundant comfort and strength. God’s Word will help you fully know the wonderful Savior that abides in you. Your heart will be overflowing with thanksgiving for all Christ has done for you.

Allow the Lord to speak to you each day of the year through the words of the Bible. Then intercede for the people and leaders of this nation that they will not reject God’s Word, but will come to know its wisdom and truth.

Recommended Reading: Ephesians 3:14-21

Greg Laurie – Why the Cross?

greglaurie

The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. —1 Corinthians 1:18

A true story was reported about a couple visiting a jewelry store. As the jeweler showed them various crosses, the woman commented, “I like these, but do you have any without this little man on them?”

That is what so many people want today: a cross without Jesus. They want a cross without any offense — one that will look cool with their outfits. But if we could travel back in time and see the cross in its original context, we would realize that it was a bloody and vile symbol. It would have been the worst picture imaginable to see someone hanging on a cross.

The Romans chose crucifixion because it was meant to be a slow, torturous way to die. It was designed to humiliate a person. The crucifixions outside Roman cities served as warnings to anyone who would dare oppose the rule of Rome.

If there had been any other way, do you think that God would have allowed His Son to suffer like this? If there had been any other way we could have been forgiven, then God surely would have found it. If living a good moral life would get us to heaven, then Jesus never would have died for us. But He did — because there was and is no other way. He had to pay the price for our sin. At the cross, Jesus purchased the salvation of the world.

If you ever were tempted to doubt God’s love for you, even for a moment, then take a long, hard look at the cross. Nails did not hold Jesus to that cross; His love did.

Max Lucado – The Big News

Max Lucado

The big news of the Bible is not that you love God, but that God loves you; not that you can know God, but that God already knows you!

God tattooed your name on the palm of his hand. You never leave his mind, escape his sight, flee his thoughts. He sees the worst of  you and loves you still. Your sins of tomorrow and failings of the future will not surprise him, he sees them now. Every day and deed of your life has passed before his eyes and been calculated in his decision. He knows you better than you know you and reached his verdict: He loves you still!

No discovery will disillusion him, no rebellion will dissuade him. You need not win his love.  You already have it. And since you can’t win it, you can’t lose it! He loves you with an everlasting love!

From The Lucado Inspirational Reader