Charles Stanley – Praying Past Our Attitude

Charles Stanley

Proverbs 16:5

When it comes to our ability to hear God’s voice, few things have more impact than our attitude. If we come to Him in rebellion, self-sufficiency, or pride, what should we expect to receive? The truth is, we’re not going to hear much of anything because our mindset is completely slanted away from the Lord. We can’t expect to see Him if we’re looking in the opposite direction. So we need to reexamine the way that we approach God. Specifically, we should be mindful of three crucial areas.

First, we must come to our Father submissively, bowing before Him in humility and thanking Him for His accessibility. As today’s verse indicates, pride is something that God absolutely hates. He will not allow us to enter His presence with arrogance in our hearts.

Second, we must trust God, knowing that He will guide us in the right direction and never steer us down a wrong path. Remembering His past faithfulness can grow our trust.

Third, we must be thankful in our speech and mindset, showing Him we recognize and appreciate the countless blessings He has bestowed upon us. We should demonstrate, as the saying goes, an “attitude of gratitude.”

When we come to the throne of God in submission, trust, and gratitude, we are going to hear the truth from our caring Father. But if these characteristics are not present in our life, we may miss His message. Prayerfully consider your attitude with regard to these three areas, asking the Lord to realign your heart and mind with His perfect will.

Our Daily Bread — Feeling Chained?

Our Daily Bread

Psalm 16

I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. —Philippians 4:11

Boethius lived in sixth-century Italy and served the royal court as a highly skilled politician. Unfortunately, he fell into disfavor with the king. He was accused of treason and imprisoned. While awaiting execution, he asked for writing materials so he could compose his reflections. Later, these became an enduring spiritual classic on consolation.

As Boethius sat in prison, pondering his bleak prospects, his faith in Christ infused his perspective: “Nothing is miserable but what is thought so, and contrariwise, every estate is happy if he that bears it be content.” He understood that our view of changing circumstances and contentment is a personal choice.

The apostle Paul reinforced the idea that the way we view our circumstances is more important than the circumstances themselves. While he too was in prison, he wrote: “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Phil. 4:11). Both men could be content because they drew their ultimate satisfaction from God, who never changes.

Do you feel chained to difficult circumstances? God can give you contentment. Lasting satisfaction can be found only with Him, for in His “presence is fullness of joy; at [His] right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11). —Dennis Fisher

Lord, lead me today as You see best. Use the gifts

You’ve given me to encourage others on

their journey. Help me not to compare

myself with others but to be content.

When all you have is God, you have all you need.

Bible in a year: Psalms 16-17; Acts 20:1-16

Insight

David affirms that God is his protector and provider (Ps. 16:1-2). In response to who God is, David delights in the fellowship of like-minded believers and disassociates himself from idolatry (vv.3-4). He depends on God’s Word and celebrates the security and safety he has in the Lord’s presence, not only in this present life but also beyond this life (vv.5-11).

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Death of Gods

Ravi Z

“Gods, too, Decompose”

“God is dead,” declares Nietzsche’s madman in his oft-quoted passage from The Gay Science. Though not the first to make the declaration, Nietzsche’s philosophical candor and desperate rhetoric unquestionably attribute to its familiarity. In graphic brushstrokes, the parable describes a crime scene:

“The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. ‘Whither is God,’ he cried; ‘I will tell you. We have killed him—you and I! All of us are his murderers…Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder?…Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.’”(1)

Nietzsche’s atheism, unlike recent atheistic mantras, was more than rhetoric and angry words. He recognized that the death of God, even if only the death of an idol, introduced a significant crisis. He understood the critical role of the Christian story to the very underpinnings of European philosophy, history, and culture, and so understood that God’s death meant that a total—and painful—transformation of reality must occur. If God has died, if God is dead in the sense that God is no longer of use to us, then ours is a world in peril, he reasoned, for everything must change. Our typical means of thought and life no longer make sense; the very structures for evaluating everything have become unhinged. For Nietzsche, a world that considers itself free from God is a world that must suffer the disruptive effects of that iconoclasm.

Herein, I believe Nietzsche’s atheistic tale tells a story beneficial no matter the creed or conviction of those who hear it: Gods, too, decompose. Within Nietzsche’s bold atheism is the intellectual integrity that refused to make it sound easy to live with a dead God—a conclusion the self-deemed new atheists are determined to undermine. Moreover, his dogged exposure of idolatrous conceptions of God wherever they exist and honest articulation of the crises that comes in the crashing of such idols is universal in its bearing. Whether atheist or theist, Muslim or Christian, the death of the God we thought we knew is disruptive, excruciating, tragic—and quite often, as Nietzsche attests, necessary.

Yet for Nietzsche and the new atheists, the shattering of religious imagery and concepts is simply deconstruction for the sake of deconstruction. Their iconoclasm ultimately seeks to reveal towers of belief as houses of cards best left in piles at our feet. On the contrary, for the theist iconoclasm remains the breaking of false and idolatrous conceptions of God, humanity, and the cosmos. But added to this is the exposing of counterfeit motivations for faith, when fear or self-interest lead a person deeper into religion as opposed to love or truth, or when the source of all knowledge becomes something finite rather than the eternal God. While this destruction certainly remains the painful event Nietzsche foretold, God’s death turns out to be one more sign of God’s presence. As C.S. Lewis observed through his own pain at the death of the God he knew:

“My idea of God is not a divine idea. It has to be shattered time after time. He shatters it himself. He is the great iconoclast. Could we not almost say that this shattering is one of the marks of his presence? The incarnation is the supreme example; it leaves all previous ideas of the Messiah in ruins. And most are ‘offended’ by the iconoclasm; and blessed are those who are not.”(2)

For Lewis, it was the death of his wife that brought about the decomposition of his God. For others, it is the prevalence of suffering or the haunt of God’s silence that begets the troubling sense that our God is dying. At some profound level, the Christian story takes us to God’s death as well, perhaps for some in more ways than one. Like the Incarnation, the crucifixion leaves most of our ideas in ruins at the foot of the cross. The journey to death and Golgotha is an offensive journey to take with God. But blessed are those who take it. Blessed are those in pain over the death of their Gods. Blessed are those who mourn at the tombs and take in the sorrow of the crime scenes. For theirs is somehow the kingdom of heaven, a kingdom somehow able to hold Golgotha, a kingdom able to hold death itself.

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

(1) Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science (New York: Vintage, 1974), 181-182.

(2) C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed (New York: HarperCollins, 1996), 66.

 

Alistair Begg – God’s Generosity

Alistair Begg

You will arise and have pity on Zion; it is the time to favor her; the appointed time has come. For your servants hold her stones dear and have pity on her dust.  Psalm 102:13-14

A selfish man in trouble is exceedingly hard to comfort, because the springs of his comfort are entirely within himself, and when he is sad all his springs are dry. But a large-hearted man full of Christian generosity has other springs from which to supply himself with comfort beside those that lie within. He can go to his God first of all and there find abundant help; and he can discover arguments for consolation in things relating to the world at large, to his country, and, above all, to the Church. David in this Psalm was exceedingly sorrowful; he wrote, “I am like an owl of the waste places; I lie awake; I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop.”1 The only way in which he could comfort himself was in the reflection that God would arise and have mercy upon Zion. Though he was sad, yet Zion should prosper; however low his own estate, yet Zion would arise.

Christian man, learn to comfort yourself in God’s gracious dealing toward the Church. That which is so dear to your Master, should it not also be supremely precious to you? Although your path be dark, can you not cheer your heart with the triumphs of His cross and the spread of His truth? Our own personal troubles are forgotten while we look not only upon what God has done and is doing for Zion, but on the glorious things He will yet do for His Church.

Try this approach, O believer, whenever you are sad of heart and in heaviness of spirit: Forget yourself and your little concerns, and seek the welfare and prosperity of Zion. When you kneel in prayer to God, limit not your petition to the narrow circle of your own life, tried though it be, but send out your longing prayers for the church’s prosperity. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem,”2 and your own soul shall be refreshed.

1) Psalm 102:6-7  2) Psalm 122:6

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The family reading plan for July 16, 2014 * Jeremiah 12 * Matthew 26

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Charles Spurgeon – The ceremony of laying the first stone of the New Tabernacle, 16 August 1859

CharlesSpurgeon

Suggested Reading: 3 John: 5-11

We believe in what are called the five great points commonly known as Calvinistic; but we do not regard those five points as being barbed shafts which we are to push into the bowels of Christendom. We look upon them as being five great lamps which help to illuminate the cross, or rather five bright emanations springing from the glorious covenant of our Triune God, and illustrating the great doctrine of Jesus crucified. Against all comers, especially against all lovers of Arminianism, we defend and maintain pure gospel truth. At the same time I can make this public declaration, that I am no Antinomian. I do not belong to the sect of those who are afraid to invite the sinner to Christ. I warn him, I invite him, I exhort him. Hence, then, I have reproach on either hand. Inconsistency is urged by some, as if anything that God commanded could be inconsistent. I will glory in such inconsistency even to the end. I bind myself precisely to no form of doctrine. I love those five points as being the angles of the gospel, but then I love the centre between the angles better still. Moreover, we are Baptists, and we cannot swerve from this matter of discipline, nor can we make our church half-and-half in that matter. The witness of our church must be one and indivisible. We must have one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. And yet dear to our hearts is that great article of the Nicene Creed, the “Communion of Saints.” I do not believe in the communion of Episcopalians. I do not believe in the communion of Baptists. I dare not sit with them exclusively. I think I should be almost strict communicant enough not to sit with them at all, because I should say, “This is not the communion of saints, it is the communion of Baptists.” Whosoever loves the Lord Jesus Christ in verity and truth has a hearty welcome, and is not only permitted, but invited to communion with the Church of Christ.

For meditation: What binds you to others in fellowship? Oneness in the great fundamentals of the Gospel? Or a man-made grouping? The first would make you like Spurgeon, the second can easily lead to the extremes of unequal ecumenism or schism.

Part of nos. 268-70

John MacArthur – Set Apart for God

John MacArthur

“You are . . . a holy nation” (1 Pet. 2:9).

Christians are a holy nation—a people set apart from sin and hell to an intimate relationship with God. Originally Israel was God’s holy nation, but by unbelief she forfeited that privilege. Now the church, which consists of both Jew and Gentile, is His unique people, and will remain so until the nation of Israel repents and receives her Messiah at His return (Zech. 12:10).

Biblical holiness (sanctification) is often misunderstood, but it needn’t be. When the Holy Spirit delivered you from the domain of darkness and transferred you into the kingdom of Christ, you became His special possession. That doesn’t mean you’re sinlessly perfect, but it does mean you’re no longer a slave to sin, the devil, and death. That’s positional sanctification. Practical sanctification is the decreasing frequency of sin and the increasing frequency of righteousness as you progress in your Christian walk.

Sanctification should not be confused with false standards of holiness, adopted by those who, like the Pharisees, attempt to be holy through external means; or, like the Stoics, have a passionless devotion to duty; or, like monks, isolate themselves from the world; or, like the quasi-Christian psychologists, replace sanctification with introspection, self-analysis, and improvement of one’s self-image.

True holiness begins with a love for Christ Himself. That’s what compels you toward greater sanctification. Peter said that you were “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:1-2). Christ Himself became to you “wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30). In Him you were saved, which is the beginning of sanctification, and in Him you have every resource necessary for progressing in holiness.

Suggestions for Prayer:

•             Thank God for your positional holiness in Christ, for by it you are perfect in His sight.

•             Thank Him for the Spirit’s power in your life, which enables you to live in a manner pleasing to Him.

For Further Study: What do these passages say about sanctification: Acts 15:7- 9, 1 Thessalonians 4:3, Hebrews 10:14, and 1 Peter 1:15-16?

 

Joyce Meyer – Whose Perspective Is It?

Joyce meyer

But [now] I am fearful, lest that even as the serpent beguiled Eve by his cunning, so your minds may be corrupted and seduced from wholehearted and sincere and pure devotion to Christ. —2 Corinthians 11:3

When encouraged to think positively, people often retort, “That is not reality.” But the truth is that positive thinking can change your current reality. God is positive, and that is His reality. It is the way He is, the way He thinks, and the way He encourages us to be. He says that all things can work out for good if we love Him and want His will in our lives (Romans 8:28). He says we should always believe the best of every person (1 Corinthians 13:7).

It has been said that 90 percent of what we worry about never happens. Why do people assume that being negative is more realistic than being positive? It is a simple matter of whether we want to look at things from God’s perspective or Satan’s. Are you doing your own thinking, choosing your thoughts carefully, or are you passively thinking about whatever happens to just come to your mind? What is the origin of your thoughts? Are they agreeing with Scripture? If they are not, they didn’t originate with God.

Thinking negatively makes you miserable. Why be miserable when you can be happy?

Lord, I ask You to make Your Word come alive to me so that I can see life issues from Your perspective. I want my thoughts to be in line with Yours. Amen.

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – No Hurt in Second Death

dr_bright

“Let everyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches; He who is victorious shall not be hurt by the Second Death” (Revelation 2:11).

I find great comfort in the promises of God’s word, and this is another that makes a positive assurance to use: we shall not be hurt by the Second Death.

But just what is meant by the term Second Death? It would seem to mean that the conqueror shall not have anything to fear in the future world. The punishment of hell is sometimes called death – not in the sense that the soul will cease to exist, but because death is the most fearful thing we know about, and there is a striking similarity in many respects between death and future punishment.

As death cuts us off from life, so the second death cuts one off from eternal life. Death puts an end to all our earthly hopes, and the second death to all hope forever. Death is accompanied by terrors and alarms, which are only faint emblems of the coming terror in the world of woe.

This promise of no harm for us in the second death really is all that is necessary to sustain us in our trials. Nothing else is needed to make the burdens of life tolerable but this assurance that the end of our earthly journey will bring us to the close of suffering. No power can harm us beyond the grave.

We have no promise that we shall not die, but we do have this glorious assurance that nothing beyond that will ever hurt us. Meanwhile, we are expected to listen – and to be faithful.

Bible Reading: John 8:21-25

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Knowing that nothing beyond the grave will ever hurt me, I will make this present life count for Christ and His kingdom.

Presidential Prayer Team; C.P. – Value the Invisible

ppt_seal01

The average cost for a year of college, about $33,000, shows how much people value education. Yet they get degrees, earn money, and acquire possessions that eventually go to storage spaces, yard sales and trash heaps. America’s overrun with stuff.

How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.

Proverbs 16:16

Knowledge doesn’t necessarily result in wisdom, but wisdom for wisdom’s sake is valuable. Wisdom lies in the invisible and the eternal, not in the physical and temporal. The Holy Spirit, love, joy, hope, peace, and faith are all eternal and invisible. Consider the following verses. “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God,” (Colossians 3:2-3) and “To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (I Timothy 1:17)

Pray for the leaders and citizens of the United States of America to value the eternal and not be mesmerized by materialism. As missionary and poet C. T. Studd said, “Only one life, ’twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Recommended Reading: Colossians 3:1-3, 12-17

Greg Laurie – Nothing New     

greglaurie

History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. —Ecclesiastes 1:9

Joy Davidman, the wife of C. S. Lewis, made this insightful statement about the pursuit of pleasure: “Living for his own pleasure is the least pleasurable thing a man can do; if his neighbors don’t kill him in disgust, he will die slowly of boredom and lovelessness.” And that is true. It has been said that the only cure for hedonism is to try and practice it.

The pursuit of pleasure is nothing new. As Solomon reminds us a number of times in the book of Ecclesiastes, when you boil it down, there is nothing new under the sun. Though our technology has changed and we have had certain advancements since Solomon wrote those words, the basic cravings of humanity have not changed, nor have the basic things we look to. The philosophy of eat, drink, and be merry has been with us for a long time.

When Solomon decided he would pursue everything this world had to offer, He was not considering God in all of it. He was living horizontally — he had adapted a worldview that omitted God. Eventually he came to realize there was nothing to profit from under the sun. It was only when Solomon looked above the sun and looked to God that he found the answers he was seeking. When we see God for who He is, we will see the world for what it is.

If you have a close relationship with God and are walking closely with Him, you will recognize philosophies, concepts, and ideologies being propagated that are contradictory to what the Bible teaches. When you are walking closely with God, you will see this world for what it is.

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

Max Lucado – Rise Above the Past

Max Lucado

Maybe your past isn’t much to brag about. Maybe you’ve seen evil, and now you have to make a choice. Do you rise above the past and make a difference? Or do you remain controlled by the past and make excuses?

Many choose the latter. Many choose the convalescent homes of the heart. Healthy bodies, sharp minds, but retired dreams. Lean closely and you’ll hear them. If only…  If only I’d had kinder parents, more money, greater opportunities. If only I’d been treated fairly…  Maybe you’ve used those words.  Maybe you have every right to use them.

God is willing to give you what your family didn’t. Galatians 4:7 says, “Through God you are a son; and, if you are a son, then you are certainly an heir.” Never had a parent who wiped away your tears? Think again. God has noted each one!

From When God Whispers Your Name