Charles Stanley – Our Casual View of Sin

Charles Stanley

Romans 6:1-7

Believers recognize the depravity of sin, but many continue to have a careless attitude about it. We hear people argue, “Everyone sins at times, so don’t worry about it. Confess, and God will forgive.”

If we are honest with ourselves about the nature of disobedience, we know the issue isn’t that simple. God is faithful to forgive (1 John 1:9), but His gracious provision isn’t designed as license to transgress. Commandments are in place to protect us from enslavement, which is the natural result of persistent wrongdoing. Each choice to break God’s rules, even for “little” sins, adds another link to our slavery chain, which eventually is long enough to wrap tightly around our heart. When that happens, it hinders us from enjoying the Lord’s blessings.

Any sin, no matter how insignificant it seems, is rebellion against the Lord. God didn’t come up with the idea of scales for wrongdoing; we did. We think a lie weighs only a little, whereas stealing is heavy; we view adultery as hefty but less substantial than homicide. Likewise, we reason that a lie needs only a small bit of forgiveness and grace, while murder requires generous amounts of both. Yet God’s perspective differs from this man-made notion. Jesus still had to die on the cross to forgive a lie. Though different sins cause different amounts of damage, it takes the same sacrifice to pay the penalty for theft as it does to pardon murder.

We are privileged to have a Father who breaks our human chains. However, we are not freed so that we can disobey; rather, God offers us freedom from the domination of sin.

 

Our Daily Bread — Our Daily Bread — Tender Loving Care

Our Daily Bread

1 Thessalonians 2:1-7

We were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. —1 Thessalonians 2:7

Max runs a small farm as a hobby. Recently when he checked on the cows he is raising, he was surprised to see a newborn calf! When he bought the cattle, he had no idea one was pregnant. Sadly, the mother cow had complications and died shortly after her calf was born. Immediately, Max purchased some powdered milk so he could feed the calf from a bottle. “The calf thinks I’m its mother!” Max said.

The tender story of Max’s new role with the calf reminded me of how Paul likened himself to a caring mother in dealing with the believers at Thessalonica: “We were gentle among you,” he said, “just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children” (1 Thess. 2:7).

Paul adopted a nurturing attitude when teaching people. He knew believers needed the “milk of the word” for spiritual growth (1 Peter 2:2). But he also gave special attention to the concerns of those he cared for. “We dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children,” Paul said, “encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God” (1 Thess. 2:11-12 NIV).

As we serve each other, may we serve with the tender loving care of our Savior, encouraging each other in our spiritual journey (Heb. 10:24). —Dennis Fisher

Dear Lord, help me to be sensitive

and caring as I serve others.

Help me to love others tenderly as You

so tenderly love and care for me.

God pours His love into our hearts to flow out to others’ lives.

Bible in a year: Job 25-27; Acts 12

Insight

Because of the severity of Paul’s words in battling false teachings and correcting sinful conduct, he often comes across as devoid of tenderness, gentleness, or compassion (1 Cor. 16:22; Gal. 1:8-9; Phil. 3:2; 2 Tim. 4:14-15; Titus 3:10). But there is a gentle and tender side of Paul that is equally evident in his letters (1 Cor. 2:3; 2 Cor. 10:1; Gal. 6:1; 2 Tim. 2:24-25). In 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8, Paul shows parental qualities such as gentleness and love. In verses 11-12, he encourages and comforts his spiritual children, urging them to live holy lives.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – What Is Good?

Ravi Z

An editorial from The Wall Street Journal some years ago still comes to mind as I occasionally watch the news. The writer was describing host Larry King’s unsettling interview of a father whose wife drowned each of their five children. Peering restlessly at the television before him, the writer believed he saw not only a disturbing interview, but a rare glimpse into the culture at large. As the father spoke of his unwavering support for his wife on national television, the mother who committed the crimes sat in a courtroom thousands of miles away receiving her sentence for the murders of their five children at that very moment. When asked how he thought his wife would do in prison, he replied that she’d do just fine, adding, “She’s a good woman.”

But the writer’s angst went deeper than his discomfort over the descriptor of the mother as good, a term to which many predictably objected the following day. He noted, instead, his discomfort over the fact that the interview itself was conducted with the same work principle of any another day in the life of modern television reporting: “Interview anyone, ask anything.” To him, that the father was even there, that Larry asked, and that we looked on, bordered on a sick voyeurism. How could we call any of it good, any of us good? He concluded: “There are moments when one wants to go out to the street, stare up at the stars in the dark sky and admit, I don’t get it anymore… People keep looking for reasons inside this case. I keep wondering what’s happening to all the rest of us, soaking up these recurring, weird events from our living rooms.”(1)

More than a decade has passed since these comments, and television voyeurism has certainly escalated to all new levels. But the writer’s question about goodness remains hauntingly the same. What does it mean to be good? In the common delving out of goodness all around us, who decides if a person is actually good? A television audience? The individual? Larry King? A courtroom? And when do those of us watching move from sincere concern to shameless curiosity?

Is there an inherent determiner for naming something good? Can it really arise from no where? And if we use it broadly enough will we get to the point when the word itself is void of meaning? Perhaps we already have.

A strikingly similar question was voiced thousands of years ago in a conversation between two men—one, a rich young person; the other, a rabbi from Nazareth known for his strange stories and gossip-worthy surprises. The young man approached Jesus with a pressing question, unthinkingly addressing him as “Good teacher” before muttering out the inquiry. But Jesus didn’t get past the title. “Why do you call me good?” he asked. “Isn’t no one good but God alone?”(2)

Perhaps as unthinkingly as the rich young ruler, we have observed for years that Jesus was a good man. We would in fact be hard-pressed to find anyone today who would be comfortable calling Jesus a bad man or anything less than a good person. We would likely use the same term to describe ourselves. But indeed, what do we mean by good?

In a world where ideas creep slowly, making subtle changes that go unnoticed until havoc has broken loose and we are left like this author wondering what is happening, we do well to ask ourselves what we mean and where it comes from.  G.K. Chesterton warned us several decades ago that we were tearing fences down before inquiring as to why they were up in the first place. And Jesus more than two thousand years ago inquired as to our very use of the word good: If this world is little more than a happy accident, why do you call me good? Why do you call anything good? No one is good except God alone. His statement was not meant to make us all feel like bad people. In fact it is interesting that we so strongly desire to call people good and believe that a generic, groundless goodness will suffice for all. But Jesus powerfully probes the vision that assigns goodness without a real foundation. What does it mean to be good? Who decides? And does a world without God have any basis for speaking of goodness in the first place? Jesus suggests it does not. For God gives us the very meaning of goodness. And Jesus himself embodies it.

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

(1) Daniel Henninger, “She Got Life, He Was Live,” Wall Street Journal, March 22, 2002.

(2) See Mark 10:13-23.

 

Alistair Begg – Suffer And Reign

Alistair Begg

If we endure, we will also reign with him. 2 Timothy 2:12

We must not imagine that we are suffering for Christ and with Christ if we are not in Christ. Beloved friend, are you trusting in Jesus only? If not, whatever you may have to mourn over on earth, you are not suffering with Christ and have no hope of reigning with Him in heaven. Neither are we to conclude that all a Christian’s sufferings are sufferings with Christ, for it is essential that he be called by God to suffer.

If we are rash and imprudent and run into positions for which neither providence nor grace has fitted us, we ought to question whether we are not rather sinning than communing with Jesus. If we let passion take the place of judgment, and self-will reign instead of scriptural authority, we shall fight the Lord’s battles with the devil’s weapons, and if we cut our own fingers we must not be surprised. Again, in troubles that come upon us as the result of sin, we must not dream that we are suffering with Christ.

When Miriam spoke evil of Moses, and the leprosy polluted her, she was not suffering for God. Moreover, suffering that God accepts must have God’s glory as its end. If I suffer that I may earn a name or win applause, I shall get no other reward than that of the Pharisee. It is required also that love for Jesus and love for His people should always be the mainspring of all our patience. We must manifest the Spirit of Christ in meekness, gentleness, and forgiveness.

Let us search and see if we truly suffer with Jesus. And if we do suffer in this way, what is our “slight momentary affliction”1 compared with reigning with Him? Oh, it is so blessed to be in the furnace with Christ, and such an honor to stand in the jail with Him, that if there were no future reward, we might count ourselves happy in present honor; but when the recompense is so eternal, so infinitely more than we had any right to expect, shall we not take up the cross with enthusiasm and go on our way rejoicing?

1)  2 Corinthians 4:16

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The family reading plan for July 3, 2014 * Isaiah 65 * Matthew 13

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Charles Spurgeon – An earnest invitation

CharlesSpurgeon

“Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” Psalm 2:12

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 1

Those that trust in him are blessed; and I would observe, first, that they are really blessed. It is no fiction, no imaginary blessing; it is a real blessedness which belongs to those who trust in God: a blessedness that will stand the test of consideration, the test of life, and the trial of death; a blessedness into which we cannot plunge too deeply, for none of it is a dream, but all a reality. Again, those that trust in him have not only a real blessedness, but they oftentimes have a conscious blessedness. They know what it is to be blest in their troubles, for they are in their trials comforted, and they are blest in their joys, for their joys are sanctified. They are blest and they know it, they sing about it and they rejoice in it. It is their joy to know that God’s blessing is come to them not in word only but in very deed. They are blessed men and blessed women.

“They would not change their blest estate

For all the world calls good and great.”

Then, further, they are not only really blessed, and consciously blessed, but they are increasingly blessed. Their blessedness grows. They do not go downhill, as the wicked do, from bright hope to black despair. They do not diminish in their delights, the river deepens as they wade into it. They are blessed when the first ray of heavenly light streams on their eyeballs; they are blessed when their eyes are opened wider still, to see more of the love of Christ; they are blessed the more their experience widens, and their knowledge deepens, and their love increases. They are blessed in the hour of death, and, best of all, their blessedness increases to eternal blessedness,—the perfection of the saints at the right hand of God. “Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”

For meditation: How often do you take time to count your blessings in Christ?

Sermon no. 260

3 July (1859)

John MacArthur – Christ: The Living Stone

John MacArthur

“Coming to [Christ] as to a living stone” (1 Pet. 2:4).

Peter’s description of Christ as “a living stone” is paradoxical because stones aren’t alive. In fact, we sometimes speak of something being “stone dead.” Yet Peter’s symbolism is profound because it beautifully incorporates three realities about Christ.

First, Jesus is the long-awaited Jewish Messiah. The Old Testament referred to the Messiah as a stone, and Peter incorporated those texts into His description of Jesus in 1 Peter 2:6-8: “Behold I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, and he who believes in Him shall not be disappointed” (Isa. 28:16); “The stone which the builders rejected, this became the very cornerstone” (Ps. 118:22); and “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” (Isa. 8:14). The parallel is obvious and would be especially meaningful to Peter’s Jewish readers. The expectations of pious Jews throughout history were realized in Christ. God had kept His promise to send the Messiah!

Second, Jesus is a stone in that He is the focal point of His spiritual house, the church. The Greek word translated “stone” in verse 4 sometimes referred to the stones used in building projects. They were cut and chiseled to fit perfectly into a specific location, and were practically immovable. Not only is Jesus a stone; He is the cornerstone, which is the most important stone in the entire building. From Him the church draws its spiritual symmetry.

Finally, Jesus is living. That’s an appropriate description because everything Peter said in this epistle is based on the fact that Jesus is alive. That’s the believer’s hope and the basis for every spiritual privilege you have. You “have been born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet. 1:3, emphasis added).

Interestingly, the literal rendering of 1 Peter 2:4 is, “Coming to Him as to living stone.” Christ is a unique stone—the stone that possesses life. All who come to Him receive eternal life (cf. 1 John 5:11).

Suggestions for Prayer: Praise the Lord for His unchangeable character and irrevocable promises.

For Further Study: Read Acts 2:22-47.

•             What was the central point in Peter’s sermon?

•             How did the people respond to his preaching?

•             How many people were baptized?

•             What were some of the activities of the early church?

Joyce Meyer – Give Yourself a Break

Joyce meyer

And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you. —Philippians 1:6

If you find it difficult to like yourself, you are not alone. I struggled with self- rejection during much of my life and I have discovered many others also struggle with the same thing. But that is not God’s plan. He doesn’t want you to feel afraid and insecure . . . or to be consumed with achieving perfection in hopes of being considered valuable.

God is the only one who can perfect the good work He has started in your life, but it takes some time. And during the process He wants you to recognize you are making progress. So give yourself a break and say, “I’m okay and I’m on my way!”

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Mercy and Grace

dr_bright

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Though prayer has been a vital, integral part of my life since I became a Christian, I am always discovering new challenges and new facets of prayer. I find one of the most powerful, exciting and fulfilling privileges God has given to man to be that of prayer based on the authority of God’s Word.

Man instinctively prays, even if only to false gods built of sticks and stones. Whenever he is faced with tragedy, heartache, sorrow or danger, he prays.

There is a serious danger in this “ignorant” kind of praying, however. It is a well-established fact of philosophy and history that man always assimilates the moral character of the object he worships. People who have prayed to gods of blood, fire and war have become militaristic, ruthless and sadistic.

This same principle applies to the Christian, who can pray to the one true God. “As we behold His [Christ’s] face, we are changed into the same image from glory to glory.” This explains the scriptural emphasis of praying worshipfully to the only true, righteous, holy and loving God.

In spite of this potential metamorphosis, however, the lives of few Christians today are impotent and fruitless compared to those of the first century. This is because the average Christian spends so little time at the throne of grace, so little time beholding the face of our Lord. And, as a result, he does not really believe that mercy and grace are available to enable him to live a supernatural life.

Bible Reading: Hebrews 3:1-6

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Knowing I can come boldly to the throne of grace and receive mercy, cleansing, forgiveness and help for my every need, challenge and opportunity – from my Lord Jesus Himself, our great high priest – I will spend more time in His presence and not be satisfied with an impotent, fruitless life.

Presidential Prayer Team; J.K. – A Ready Heart

ppt_seal01

For decades, TV programs have shown “man on the street” segments – interviews with regular people on the city sidewalks of America. At times they provoke laughter. But more recently, the responses invoke a sense of discouragement and disappointment, especially when the questions relate to the federal government and its duties. Most U.S. citizens on the street know little and understand even less.

My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments.

Proverbs 3:1

So it is with some Christians. Professing to be religious, their perception of God’s Word and His desires for them falls far short. Proverbs 3 offers persuading arguments for following the will of God…all of them to make you both blessed and a blessing. The first verse underscores the need for you to acquaint yourself with His Word – memorizing portions of it so it will come to mind when needed. More importantly, prepare your heart to follow the Lord’s commandments. The result will be an intimate, personal, loving relationship with Him…one that produces devotion to His will.

Pray now that your heart will be ready to know God’s Word and His love for you. Then intercede for the leaders of this country – that they may understand God’s will for this nation and choose the best for America.

Recommended Reading: Psalm 119:9-16

Greg Laurie – Divinely Redirected       

greglaurie

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:7

God sometimes will use different ways to show us when we are out of His will. One is by giving us His peace when we are in His will and removing it when we are outside of it. The Bible tells us, “Let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15 NLT). Another translation says, “And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state]” (AMP).

Umpires aren’t always the most popular people at baseball games because not everyone agrees with the calls they make. The umpire is there to say, “Safe!” and “Out!” The peace of God can act as a spiritual umpire. Perhaps you can think of certain situations, such as a party you went to, a relationship you were involved in, or a place you were going, and suddenly there was a lack of peace, almost like spiritual agitation deep inside. That might have been God saying no.

Another way the Lord sometimes directs us is by closing a door. By that I mean, there are situations in our lives when circumstances just don’t work. Maybe you set out on a big trip, only to get three flat tires. You were trying to do a certain thing when something went wrong, rendering your plan impossible.

Sometimes God can even redirect us through sickness. It has stopped me on a few occasions. However it is that the Lord may direct you, remember that it may be in a different way than you wanted to go. But God has His will. And God has His timing.

Today’s devotional is an excerpt from Every Day with Jesus by Greg Laurie, 2013

Max Lucado – God’s Not Finished With You

Max Lucado

Pick up a high school yearbook and read the “What I want to do” sentence under each picture. You’ll get dizzy breathing the thin air of mountaintop visions. Ivy league school. Write books and live in Switzerland. Physician in a Third World country. Teach inner-city kids.

Yet, take the yearbook to a twentieth-year reunion and read the next chapter. Some dreams have come true, but many haven’t. Changing direction in life is not tragic. Losing passion in life is. Convictions to change the world downgrade to commitments to pay the bills. Rather than make a difference, we make a salary. Rather than look outward, we look inward. And we don’t like what we see.

Philippians 1:6 says, “God began doing a good work in you, and he will continue it until it is finished.” May I spell out the message? God isn’t finished with you yet!

From When God Whispers Your Name