Charles Stanley – The Grace to Overcome

Charles Stanley

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

The Lord declares that His grace is sufficient for every painful situation we will ever encounter. Because of His abundant goodness, kindness, and love for us, we do not have to succumb to discouragement, give up hope, or walk away from His plan. We will know God’s grace is working in us when . . .

We have the strength to persevere. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, God releases His supernatural power into our life so we might endure (Acts 1:8).

A spirit of confidence in Him is ignited within our hearts and minds. Grace helps us believe that God will bring good from our troubles (Rom. 8:28).

We sense His presence with us. When grace is at work, we will be conscious of the Spirit’s abiding support.

Our focus shifts from our trials to the Lord. Grace helps us shift attention from our situation and emotions to God’s sufficiency.

We trust that God will bring us through this—and not just barely through, but with deeper intimacy and greater faith at the end.

We are assured of God’s sovereignty. The Lord knows our frailties. So He has promised to limit our trials to what our weaknesses, strengthened by His power, can bear (1 Cor. 10:13).

The apostle Paul had been through shipwrecks, imprisonment, and beatings—difficulties far worse than what most of us face. Yet he didn’t quit, because he drew on God’s grace and found it sufficient for every circumstance. Where do you need an infusion of grace in order not to give up and walk away?

Our Daily Bread — The Jaws Of Death

Our Daily Bread

Luke 9:1-6

They departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. —Luke 9:6

Lauren Kornacki is glad she took that summer CPR class, but she probably never thought she would have to use it so soon and on someone she loves. Her father was repairing his car when the jack slipped and the car fell on him. Lauren, a 22-year-old, reportedly heroically lifted the 3,300-pound car enough to pull him from underneath! Then she kept him alive with CPR until the paramedics arrived.

Far greater than Lauren’s rescue of her father from the jaws of death is Jesus’ rescue of us from the clutches of sin by His death and resurrection. When Jesus sent the 12 disciples to carry out His work, He gave them the assignment to preach the good news of God’s desire to rescue people (Luke 9:1-6). They would not carry this out in their own strength, but Jesus would lift the heavy burden of people’s sin as they taught about Him. Their preaching and healing in Jesus’ power and authority proved that Jesus had actually brought God’s rule to earth.

Many today are trapped under the weight of sin, but our great God can rescue us from underneath those burdens and then send us into the world to tell others that He can set them free. —Marvin Williams

Thinking It Over

Do you know someone who is trapped under the burden

of sin and needs Jesus’ rescue? In what practical

ways can you be an active agent of Jesus’ love?

Those who’ve been rescued from sin are best able to help in the rescue of others.

Bible in a year: Job 34-35; Acts 15:1-21

Insight

Luke records that Jesus gave the disciples “power and authority” (9:1). He does not relate the specific situations the disciples faced or the people’s reaction to these 12 new miracle workers who were suddenly working in Israel. Instead, Luke simply found it important to record, “So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere” (v.6). Luke’s emphasis was on Jesus. He was the one who gave His disciples the authority. It’s important to remember that power and authority are always His to give.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Changing Tunes

Ravi Z

A popular U.S. comic strip once held the attention of millions as it chronicled the misadventures of a boy and his stuffed tiger. The infamous pair was inseparable, lingering energetically in topics both adult and childlike. One day on a walk in the woods, six-year-old boy Calvin announces to Hobbes the tiger that he has decided he doesn’t believe in ethics anymore, because, as far as he’s concerned, “The ends justify the means.” “Get what you can while the getting is good,” Calvin reasons, “Might makes right.”

At this, Hobbes, who is a stuffed tiger in the eyes of all but Calvin, promptly pushes his human friend into a mud hole.

“Why’d you do that?” Calvin objects.

“You were in my way,” Hobbes replies, “and now you’re not.  The ends justify the means.”

Finding himself in the mud, Calvin sees clearly that he cannot live with the outworking of his lauded theory. He seems to reach a brief and annoyed moment of enlightenment, until he uncovers a way to reconcile the conflict with self-interest: “I didn’t mean for everyone, you dolt. Just me.”

One of the more striking things to confront in each of the four gospel accounts, besides the human Jesus himself, is the reactions people had to him. When in his presence, some like Mary and the man with leprosy fell instantaneously at his feet, others like the young rich ruler or the people of Nazareth turned away. In his presence some cried for mercy and others who needed a doctor were confronted with the question of whether or not they wanted to be well. In the presence of Jesus of Nazareth, choices were made, theories adjusted, realities were challenged, affections transformed.

Ironically, those deemed unrighteous and dishonorable by the social standards of the day were often the most responsive to the demands of Jesus. I have often wondered if this was because they were the ones most willing to see themselves without pretense, those most willing to respond to their own inconsistencies with fear and trembling. In the presence of Christ, the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda came to see the contradictions he lived with, his broken refrain, and his need for a new song. The Samaritan woman at the well saw not only that Jesus was speaking truth, but that he was truth, and that his way of life was full of life, while her own had been forced to the sidelines. Called into the presence of Christ, Zacchaeus saw his ravenous, isolating ways and the great hunger of his life for a different sort of communion. Conversely, the rich young ruler walked away from Jesus’s instruction because it was a request and reality that he just could not face.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer coined the phrase “polyphony of life” as a metaphor for the various melodies of life that captivate or consume our affections. The invitation of Christ, he observed, does not come in such a way as to injure or weaken other loves, but always to provide a kind of cantus firmus to other melodies lest they run us adrift or out of tune. The cantus firmus, which means “fixed song,” is a pre-existing melody that forms the basis of a polyphonic composition. Though the song introduces twists in pitch and style, counterpoint and refrain, the cantus firmus is the enduring melody not always in the forefront, but always playing somewhere within the composition. Love of God was the cantus firmus for Bonhoeffer, the soul of the concerto and the clarifying essence for a life of various sounds and directions. “Where the cantus firmus is clear and plain, the counterpoint can be developed to its limits… Life isn’t pushed back into a single dimension, but is kept multi-dimensional and ployphonous.”(1)

It is both brave and essential to listen to the various melodies that hold our lives and shape our affections, and to ask what is the guiding song behind it all. The invitation of Christ is one that will engage all of life. The fully human Incarnate Son could make no lesser request. His invitation is that of fullness of life, a diversity of loves and desires shaped and flourishing around a firm cantus firmus. In this love, all things their find their coherence; the broken fragments of lesser songs are remade, re-tuned, and restored.

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

Alistair Begg –  Mandate of Mercy

Alistair Begg

When I passed by you…I said to you…”Live!”  Ezekiel 16:6

Believer, consider gratefully this mandate of mercy. Note that this decree of God is majestic. In our text we find a sinner with nothing in him but sin, expecting nothing but wrath; but the eternal Lord passes by in His glory. He looks, He pauses, and He pronounces the solitary but royal word, “Live.” Only God can speak in this way, dispensing life with a single syllable! Again, this decree is manifold. When He says “Live,” it includes many things. Here is judicial life. The sinner is ready to be condemned, but the Mighty One says, “Live,” and he rises pardoned and absolved.

It is spiritual life. We did not know Jesus—our eyes could not see Christ, our ears could not hear His voice—but Jehovah said “Live,” and we who were dead in trespasses and sins were quickened. Moreover, it includes glory-life, which is the perfection of spiritual life. “I said to you . . . ‘Live,'” and that word rolls on through all the years of time till death comes; and even in the shadows of death, the Lord’s voice is still heard: “Live!” In the morning of the resurrection it is that selfsame voice that is echoed by the archangel, “Live,” and as holy spirits rise to heaven to be blessed forever in the glory of their God, it is in the power of this same word, “Live.” Note again, that it is an irresistible decree.

Saul of Tarsus is on the road to Damascus to arrest the saints of the living God. A voice is heard from heaven, and a light is seen above the brightness of the sun, and Saul is crying out, “Who are you, Lord?”1 This decree is of free grace. When sinners are saved, it is only and solely because God will do it to magnify His free, unpurchased, unsought grace. Christians, see your position—debtors to grace; show your gratitude by earnest, Christlike lives; and as God has called you to live, see to it that you do so in sincerity.

1) Acts 9:5

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The family reading plan for July 7, 2014 * Jeremiah 3 * Matthew 17

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Devotional material is taken from “Morning and Evening,” written by C.H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg.

Charles Spurgeon – Profit and loss

CharlesSpurgeon

“What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Mark 8:36

Suggested Further Reading: Luke 12:15-21

Spiritually man is a great trader—he is trading for his own welfare; he is trading for time and for eternity; he keeps two shops: one shop is kept by an apprentice of his, a rough unseemly hand, of clayey mould, called the body; the other business, which is an infinitely more vast concern, is kept by one that is called “the soul” a spiritual being, who does not traffic upon little things, but who deals with hell or heaven, and trades with the mighty realities of eternity. Now, a merchant would be very unwise who should pay all attention to some small off-hand shop of his, and take no account whatever of a large establishment. And he would, indeed, be negligent, who should very carefully jot down every trifle of the expenditure of his own household, but should never think of reckoning the expenses of some vast concern that may be hanging on his hands. But the most of men are just as foolish—they estimate the profits (as they conceive them to be) which are gained in that small corner shop called the body, but they too seldom reckon up the awful loss which is brought about by a negligence of the soul’s concerns in the great matters of eternity. Let me beseech you, my brethren, while you are not careless of the body, as, indeed, you ought not to be, seeing that it is, in the case of believers, the temple of the Holy Spirit, to take more especial care of your souls. Decorate the tenement, but do not suffer the inhabitant to die of starvation; do not paint the ship while you are letting the crew perish for want of stores on board. Look to your soul, as well as to your body; to the life, as well as to that by which you live.

For meditation: We can be so bodily minded that we are no heavenly use

(1 Timothy 4:8 gives the right balance).

Sermon no. 92

7 July (Preached 6 July 1856)

John MacArthur – Your Priestly Service

John MacArthur

“You . . . are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5).

Peter identified believers as holy priests, but many Christians don’t really know what that means because priests aren’t part of our culture as a whole.

The primary purpose of an Old Testament priest was to offer acceptable sacrifices to God on behalf of the people. Priests were chosen by God Himself, specially cleansed through prescribed ceremonies, clothed in a prescribed manner, and anointed with oil as symbolic of God’s Spirit upon them. They were expected to obey God, love His Word, and walk with Him.

Faithful priests had a positive impact on believers and unbelievers alike. Malachi 2:6 says they “turned many back from iniquity.” Verse 7 adds that “the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.”

Those qualifications are paralleled in Christians, whom God regards as the only true priests. You were chosen by Him from before the foundation of the world and cleansed by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit. You are clothed with the righteousness of Christ, and anointed by the Holy Spirit. Your purpose is “to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5).

Scripture tells you therefore to present your body a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship (Rom. 12:1). Obedience, love for the Word, and communion with God should characterize your life; saints and sinners alike should see Christ in you and be affected by what they see.

The priesthood of believers is a high and holy calling to which no one is suited apart from God’s grace and power. But be assured that He who called you will accomplish His good pleasure in you. Be committed to that goal each day as you lean on His resources and trust in His sufficiency.

Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for the priesthood He has entrusted to you. Ask Him to use you today to influence others in godly ways.

For Further Study: Read Leviticus 8 and 9, which tell of the consecration and inauguration of the Aaronic priesthood.

Joyce Meyer – Stand with God

Joyce meyer

And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation]. —2 Corinthians 9:8

When Mother Teresa (1910–1997) left for India to begin her mission work there, she was told she could not do it because she had no money and no one to help her. I was told she said she had three pennies and God, and that was all she needed.

All of us are familiar with the amazing work she did to help the poor in India. Her willingness to stand with God alone, having all her confidence in Him, allowed God to work through her in a remarkable way. She was a rare individual who knew how to work with people, but who believed that with or without people, she could do all God was asking her to do.

That is the kind of attitude I want to maintain. We need people, but we know it is God working through people to help us. We look to God to meet our needs, not people. If He decides to change who He works through, that should be no concern of ours. My confidence must be in Him more than it is in anything or anyone else.

Lord, I am not Mother Teresa, but I want to learn to stand with You. I look to You to meet my every need. Amen.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Riches in Glory

dr_bright

“And it is He who will supply all your needs from His riches in glory because of what Christ Jesus has done for us” (Philippians 4:19).

God has faithfully met the needs of this great worldwide ministry since its inception. He met our needs when there were only two of us – Vonette and I – on the staff. He meets our needs today (1983) with more than 16,000 full-time and associate staff members serving in most communities of America and in 151 other countries.

He met our needs when our budget was a few thousand dollars a year. He continues to meet our needs when our budget is approximately $100 million a year. During this exciting, incredibly rich and rewarding adventure with our gracious Lord, we have never had an extra dollar at the end of any day. We get only what we need – and no more.

During these years, there have been many dramatic demonstrations of His faithfulness, when He has led us to undertake major and frequently expensive projects. He has always supplied the funds to pay for what He orders. We have learned many lessons concerning God’s faithfulness.

First, whatever He leads us to do He will enable us to do by supplying the manpower, the finances and the know-how – oftentimes dramatically – if we continue to trust and obey Him.

Second, “we have not because we ask not” (James 4:2 KJV).

Third, we do not receive when our motives are impure.

But of this we can be sure: if our hearts are pure, our motives are pure and we do what we do for the glory of God – to help fulfill the Great Commission through the winning and discipling of men for Christ throughout the world -we can always be assured that God will supply our needs. Not to do so would be a contradiction of His attributes, for the idea of the Great Commission began with our Lord.

Bible Reading: II Corinthians 9:6-11

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will examine my heart to determine my motives and relate my needs to the scriptural commands with the confidence that God will supply all of my needs from His riches in glory, because of what Christ Jesus has done for me. I will thank Him in advance for meeting my needs, and encourage others to trust Him also. This is a part of my commitment to supernatural living.

Presidential Prayer Team; H.L.M. – America’s Treasure

ppt_seal01

A Northern California couple was walking their dog when they stumbled across some rare gold coins buried in the shadow of a tree. Nearly all of the 1,427 coins, dating from 1847 to 1894, were in uncirculated, mint condition. Coin experts estimated their worth at ten million dollars. “I don’t like to say once-in-a-lifetime for anything, but you don’t get an opportunity to handle this kind of material, a treasure like this, ever,” said a veteran coin dealer who is representing the finders. “It’s like they found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.”

Treasure up my commandments with you.

Proverbs 7:1

Isaiah 33:6 says, “And he will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is Zion’s treasure.” A nation’s wealth is not in gold, silver, real estate or weapons. Its treasure is in the people who fear the Lord. People who are Christ followers. People who read God’s Word. People who pray for their family, friends, neighbors and leaders.

Ask God to keep you accountable as one of those people. Remember, it’s your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a significant difference in America.

Recommended Reading: Matthew 19:23-30

Greg Laurie – Healthy Fear  

greglaurie

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever. —Psalm 111:10

We all know what it is like to be gripped by fear. We all know what the sensation is like to have a shiver run down our spines, our mouths go dry, and our hair stand on end.

Fear has a close buddy known as worry, and the two often work in tandem. We can get caught up playing the what-if game: What if this happens? What if that happens? In fact, modern medical research has proved that worry can actually break down our resistance to disease—and even shorten our lives. Charles Mayo, founder of the famed Mayo Clinic, said that while he never knew anyone who died of overwork, he knew many who died of worry.

Far too often we are afraid of the wrong things in life, but we aren’t afraid of the right things—or perhaps I should say the right One. We don’t fear God. Yet the Bible tells us the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

But what does that mean? First, let me tell you what it doesn’t mean. To fear God doesn’t mean cowering in terror before Him. Rather, the fear of God has been properly defined as a wholesome dread of displeasing Him. So if I have sinned, it is not the fear of what God will do to me but the fear of what I have done to Him. That is what it is to fear the Lord.

The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear Him, you fear nothing else. On the other hand, if you don’t fear God, then you fear everything else.

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

Max Lucado – Keep it Brief

Max Lucado

I believe in brevity.  And since you’ve given me a minute of your time, I shouldn’t take more than my share. Over the years I’ve collected some “brief” statements of truth.  Share them when you can. But if you do…keep it brief!

Pray all the time.  If necessary, use words.

God forgets the past.  Imitate Him.

Greed I’ve often regretted.  Generosity—never.

In buying a gift for your wife, practicality can be more expensive than extravagance.

Here’s another: Don’t ask God to do what you want.  Ask God to do what is right.

You’ll give up on yourself before God will.

Flattery is fancy dishonesty.

You’ll regret opening your mouth.  You’ll rarely regret keeping it shut.

And I’ll close with this one:   To see sin without grace is despair.  To see grace without sin is arrogance.  To see them in tandem is conversion!

From When God Whispers Your Name