Charles Stanley – Is He More?

Charles Stanley

Colossians 1:15-20

Who is this Jesus? It’s a question that has been asked by countless individuals for more than two millennia. And, to be sure, it is the most important question that can ever be asked—or answered. How would you reply?

You may say, “He’s my Savior.” But is He more? “Well, He’s the Lord.” But is He more?

Yes, He is far more indeed. Jesus did something for us that had never been done before: He enabled us to see the Father in a new way. In Colossians 1:15, Paul explains that Jesus is the “image of the invisible God.”

No one has ever looked upon the face of the Almighty. In the Old Testament, some people found themselves in His presence, but they were never able to look fully upon His glory. For example, even Moses, who is described as God’s friend (Ex. 33:11), could not look directly at Him. At best, he had the opportunity to look upon “God’s back” as the Lord passed by. But Moses never saw His face (vv. 18-23).

However, Jesus came to bridge the gap between the Father’s pure, holy glory and mankind’s sinful nature. As God’s “image,” Jesus is the exact, flawless replica—the perfect reflection—of His Father. Therefore, Jesus could say, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

How do we know what the heavenly Father is like? By knowing Jesus. He is the only full expression and explanation of God. Now are you prepared to answer the question? Then ask the Father to reveal His Son to you in a fresh way today.

 

Our Daily Bread — A Picture Of Humility

Our Daily Bread

John 13:1-11

God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. —James 4:6

During the Easter season, my wife and I attended a church service where the participants sought to model the events that Jesus and His disciples experienced on the night before He was crucified. As part of the service, the church staff members washed the feet of some of the church volunteers. As I watched, I wondered which was more humbling in our day—to wash another person’s feet or to have someone else wash yours. Both those who were serving and those being served were presenting distinct pictures of humility.

When Jesus and His disciples were gathered for the Last Supper (John 13:1-20), Jesus, in humble servanthood, washed His disciples’ feet. But Simon Peter resisted, saying, “You shall never wash my feet!” Then Jesus answered, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me” (13:8). Washing their feet was not a mere ritual. It could also be seen as a picture of our need of Christ’s cleansing—a cleansing that will never be realized unless we are willing to be humble before the Savior.

James wrote, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). We receive God’s grace when we acknowledge the greatness of God, who humbled Himself at the cross (Phil. 2:5-11). —Bill Crowder

My faith looks up to Thee,

Thou Lamb of Calvary, Savior divine;

Now hear me when I pray, take all my sin away,

O let me from this day be wholly Thine! —Palmer

The most powerful position on earth is kneeling before the Lord of the universe.

Bible in a year: Psalms 123-125; 1 Corinthians 10:1-18

Insight

In ancient Israel, the task of foot-washing was necessary because of the open shoes worn in streets filled with dirt and refuse. Because it was such an unpleasant task, it was usually assigned to the lowest servant in the house. Here Jesus Himself performed this menial job (John 13:3-5).

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Science and Religion

Ravi Z

If you ask many people today what they think about science’s relationship to religion, you are likely to be told that the two have been in conflict for a very long time.(1) There was the trial of Galileo by the Inquisition, for example, the debate between Wilberforce and Huxley, and there is still an on-going dispute over the teaching of evolution in American schools. These usual suspects may be trotted out whenever this topic is mentioned, but are events such as these really typical of the history of science as a whole?

Contrary to the impression given by some commentators, the conflict thesis between science and religion is one that has been discredited in academic circles for some time. The rise of science in the West was, of course, a very complicated affair in which many different factors played a part. There were certainly inevitable points of tension, but this does detract from the fact that Europe was a largely Christian continent in which religious individuals and institutions inevitably played a central role in the changes that occurred.

A number of the popular misconceptions about history are addressed in Ronald Numbers’ book, Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion.(2) One of the most famous examples is the “debate” between Bishop Samuel Wilberforce and T. H. Huxley (1860), which was actually an after-lecture discussion on the merits of Darwin’s work. The alleged clash was largely forgotten about until the 1890s, when it resurrected by those seeking to attack the power of the Anglican orthodoxy. By this point the scientific community had become more professionalized and some of its members realized the debate could be used to promote their already growing autonomy. The event was therefore portrayed as if it had been a portentous victory for science over religion, even though, at the time, neither side was said to have won and the discussion was held on purely scientific grounds.(3)

It is important, therefore, to be aware of how history is sometimes portrayed. Scholars no longer use the term “dark ages,” for example, because the description gives the false impression that this was a period of ignorance during which little development occurred. Rodney Stark suggests that there is a similar problem with the process known as the Enlightenment, because the term itself, coined by Voltaire, was appropriated by various militant atheists and humanists who sought to claim the credit for the rise of science. As Stark points out, “The falsehood that science required the defeat of religion was proclaimed by such self-appointed cheerleaders as Voltaire and Gibbon, who themselves played no part in the scientific enterprise.”(4) This depiction of the Enlightenment, as if it was some kind of clean secular break from the past, persists today, but, as John Coffey points out, it could be more accurately described as a religious process. This is because many of those at the vanguard of the movement were Protestants (though certainly not all orthodox) who sought to fuse religious and philosophical ideas together. This is not to deny the role of certain groups of atheist thinkers, but crucially these were not representative of the Enlightenment as a whole. Furthermore, Dominic Erdozain argues that you can trace a lot of the unbelief of the time back to expressly religious roots. It was a Christian conscience (rather than a secular or pagan one) that drove much of the Enlightenment thought and a poignant example of this was the way in which Voltaire often used Jesus—albeit his own interpretation of him—in order to attack the church.(5)

It is always helpful, therefore, to bear in mind John Hedley Brookes’ comments, when he reminds us that: “In many of the disputes that have been conventionally analyzed in terms of some notional relation between science and religion, the underlying issues were principally about neither science nor religion, nor the relationship between them, but were matters of social, ethical or political concern in which the authority of either science, religion or both was invoked (often on both sides) to defend a view held on other grounds…”(6)

As this suggests, simplistic ways of understanding history honor neither history nor the present.

Simon Wenham is research coordinator for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Europe.

(1) Article adapted from Simon Wenham’s, “Making History: The ‘War’ Between Science and Religion,” Pulse, Issue 8 (Summer 2011), 2-4.

(2) R. Numbers, Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion (Boston: Harvard University Press, 2009).

(3) For further reading see J. R. Lucas Wilberforce and Huxley: A Legendary Encounter (available online).

(4) R. Stark, For the Glory of God (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003), 123.

(5) J. Coffey and D. Erdonzain, lectures given at The Dark Side of Christian History Conference, St Ebbe’s Church, Oxford, February 5, 2011.

(6) J. H. Brooke, Darwinism and Religion: A Revisionist View of the Wilberforce-Huxley Debate (lecture), at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, 26 February 2001 (available online).

Alistair Begg – Hope in Barrenness

Alistair Begg

Sing, O barren one.  Isaiah 54:1

Although we may have brought forth some fruit and have a joyful hope that we are abiding in the vine, yet there are times when we feel very barren. Prayer is lifeless, love is cold, faith is weak, each grace in the garden of our heart languishes and droops. We are like flowers in the hot sun, desperately needing the refreshing shower. In such a condition what are we to do? The text is addressed to us in just such a state. “Sing, O barren one . . . break forth into singing and cry aloud.” But what can I sing about? I cannot talk about the present, and even the past looks full of barrenness. I can sing of Jesus Christ. I can talk of visits that the Redeemer has paid to me in the past; or if not of these, I can magnify the great love with which He loved His people when He came from the heights of heaven for their redemption.

I will go to the cross again. Come, my soul, you were once heavy-laden, and you lost your burden there. Go to Calvary again. Perhaps that very cross that gave you life may give you fruitfulness. What is my barrenness? It is the platform for His fruit-creating power. What is my desolation? It is the dark setting for the sapphire of His everlasting love. I will go to Him in my poverty, I will go in my helplessness, I will go in all my shame and backsliding; I will tell Him that I am still His child, and finding confidence in His faithful heart, even I, the barren one, will sing and cry aloud.

Sing, believer, for it will cheer your own heart and the hearts of others who are desolate. Sing on, for although you are presently ashamed of being barren, you will be fruitful soon; now that God makes you hate to be without fruit He will soon cover you with clusters. The experience of our barrenness is painful, but the Lord’s visits are delightful. A sense of our own poverty drives us to Christ, and that is where we need to be, for in Him our fruit is found.

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The family reading plan for August 28, 2014 * Lamentations 5* Psalm 36

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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 – Limiting God

CharlesSpurgeon

“They… limited the Holy One of Israel.” Psalm 78:41

Suggested Further Reading: Daniel 3:13-28

He is not limited to means—to any means, much less to one of thy choosing. If he deliver thee not by calming the tempest, he has a better way in store; he will send from above and deliver thee; he will snatch thee out of the deep waters lest the floods overflow thee. What might Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego have said? Suppose they had got it into their heads that God would deliver them in some particular way. They did have some such idea, but they said, as if to prove that they trusted not really to their thought about the deliverance—“Nevertheless, be it known unto thee, O king, we will not worship thy gods, nor bow before the image which thou hast set up.” They were prepared to let God have his will, even though he used no means of deliverance. But suppose, I say, they had conferred with flesh and blood, and Shadrach had said, “God will strike Nebuchadnezzar dead; just at the moment when the men are about to put us into the furnace the king will turn pale and die, and so we shall escape.” O my friends, they would have trembled indeed when they went into the furnace if they had chosen their own means of deliverance, and the king had remained alive. But instead of this, they gave themselves up to God, even if he did not deliver them. And, though he did not prevent their going into the furnace, yet he kept them alive in it, so that not so much as the smell of fire had passed upon them. It shall be even so with you. Repose in God. When thou seest him not, believe him; when everything seems to contradict thy faith, still stagger not at the promise. If HE hath said it, he can find ways and means to do it.

For meditation: Our ways are not God’s ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). Where our ways can multiply complications, his ways can humble us by their straightforward simplicity (Numbers 11:21-23,31; 2 Kings 5:10-14; Luke 9:12-17). How are you limiting God?

Sermon no. 272

28 August (1859)

John MacArthur – Holy Hatred

John MacArthur

“Hate evil, you who love the Lord” (Ps. 97:10).

God’s hatred for evil is an extension of His love.

After spending this month exploring fifteen characteristics of godly love, it might seem odd to shift suddenly to the topic of hatred. Additionally, “holy hatred” will sound like a contradiction in terms to those who view all hatred as evil. But love and hate are inseparable. You can’t truly love something and be complacent about the things that oppose or threaten it.

If you love your spouse, you hate anything that would defile or injure him or her. If you love your children, you hate anything that would harm them. If you love good, you hate evil. If you love unity, you hate discord. If you love God, you hate Satan. That’s why Scripture says, “Hate evil, you who love the Lord” (Ps. 97:10) and, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way, and the perverted mouth, I [God personified] hate” (Prov. 8:13).

Unquestionably God is a God of love. First John 4 says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and every one who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. . . . Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. . . . And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (vv. 7-8, 11, 16).

How are we to respond to that love? The psalmist wrote, “From Thy precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. . . . I hate those who are double-minded, but I love Thy law. . . . I esteem right all Thy precepts concerning everything, I hate every false way. . . . I hate and despise falsehood, but I love Thy law” (Ps. 119:104, 113, 128, 163).

Is that your prayer? Do you hate the things that oppose God? Are you offended by what offends Him? Remember, holy hatred is as much a part of godly love as any of its other characteristics. If you love God, you must necessarily hate evil.

Suggestions for Prayer; Ask God to increase your love for Him and your hatred for evil.

For Further Study; Meditate on Psalm 119:101-104 and commit it to memory.

Joyce Meyer – Spiritual Food for Spiritual Hunger

Joyce meyer

Make no provision for [indulging] the flesh [put a stop to thinking about the evil cravings of your physical nature] to [gratify its] desires (lusts)—Romans 13:14

 

Food addiction is easy, because food doesn’t come with the same stigmas as cigarettes or drugs. Unlike these vices, food has a legitimate—even essential—role in health. Only when it slips into overuse does it become a problem. But it’s so easy to get to that point!

Food is reliable. Unlike spouses, friends, or great weather, it is always there. But that’s the problem. Any time we feel spiritually empty, whether through sadness, depression, or boredom, it’s easy to reach for food to fill that void. Soon, we mistake spiritual hunger for physical hunger, and food becomes the immediate answer to any drop in well-being. You know where this leads. The more you try to treat your spiritual longing with food or other feel-good stimuli, the greater your soul’s cry for spiritual nourishment will be. The greater your disease will become.

Fortunately, there is another source of comfort that is always there when you need it. Unlike bad food or drugs, it doesn’t leave you overweight, sick, or lethargic. It’s even free. That something is God. He is called the Father of sympathy and the God of every comfort, who consoles us in every trouble (2 Corinthians 1:3,4). When I hurt, I have learned to run to God first, instead of another person or substance. I’m not saying this is automatic. It took me years to get this straight, and I still sometimes have to remind myself that what I truly need is spiritual nourishment. But learning this habit will do more to keep your mind and body sound and your life on an even keel than anything I know. Your spirit needs nourishment just like your body does. Don’t wait until you have a crisis in your life to start feeding it.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – To Be Approved

dr_bright

“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15, KJV).

Most of all of my adult life has been centered around the university world – as a student, a teacher, and one who works with students, professors and administrators in the intellectual realm. I count many of the leading scholars of our time as beloved friends, yet if I had to choose between a Ph.D. from the most prestigious university in the world and a thorough knowledge of and comprehension of the Word of God, I would gladly choose the latter. Fortunately, it is not necessary to choose because one can have both academic training and a knowledge of God’s Word.

A recommendation which I have made to our two sons and to thousands of our staff and students with whom we work is that degrees are very important in today’s world, but they will not only be meaningless and worthless in terms of eternity, but can contribute to one’s moral and spiritual disintegration unless at the same time one is studying to show himself approved unto God. In all of our academic pursuits and in our commitment to excellence in the business and professional realms, we must be careful to give God and His Holy inspired Word their rightful place in our daily schedule. Ultimately, it is our knowledge of God learned through the study of Scripture and our response to Him that makes all the difference in our life-style. It makes the difference in the choosing of our mate, in the rearing of our children, in the choosing of our friends, our business or professional career, in all of our attitudes and actions and in the contribution which we make to society. Let us give priority to priorities, the highest of which is to seek after God through the diligent study of His holy revelation to man and to encourage others to join with us in rightly dividing the word of truth.

Bible Reading: II Timothy 2:19-25

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: With God’s help I will seek not only to be a student of God’s Word but also to acquire the ability to teach His word to others.

Presidential Prayer Team; A.W. – A Woman of Influence

ppt_seal01

In 1999, Time published a list of the 100 most influential people of the twentieth century – individuals known for changing the world. Based on its popularity, the magazine made it an annual event. In 2014, a record 41 women made the list. One woman, however, should top the list since the beginning of time: Eve.

When the woman saw the tree was good for food… she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

Genesis 3:6

In today’s verse, Eve made a decision that affected not only her future, but the future of all mankind. God had given instruction to Adam and Eve about which fruits they could eat in the garden, but Satan twisted God’s words and convinced Eve to go against God’s command. Eve then influenced her husband to do the same. The consequences have influenced every other human since.

Like Eve, each decision you make has a ripple effect that influences others. As you pray today for your own decision making, also ask God to help the nation’s leaders resist the temptation of going against His commands and to guide each decision they make.

Recommended Reading: I Thessalonians 4:1-12

Greg Laurie – Our Ultimate Prayer Partner          

greglaurie

Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. —Romans 8:34

If you found yourself in a difficult passage in life, would it bring you some measure of comfort if Billy Graham called you? “This is Billy Graham. I wanted to talk to you. I heard you were going through a hard time. I would like to pray for you.” And of course you answer, “Please do!”

So Billy Graham prays for you, with that unforgettable voice of his, bringing your name and needs before God. Wouldn’t you feel good about that? When it was over, wouldn’t you hang up the phone and say, “Wow. That was unreal. I feel so much better now.”

Then let’s say the phone rings again. “This is Pastor Chuck Smith. I heard you were experiencing some difficulties. May I pray for you?” So Chuck Smith prays for you. And then Chuck Swindoll calls, and he prays for you too! How would you feel? You would feel good. Three great men of God have personally called you on the phone and prayed for your needs by name.

Yet the Bible teaches that Someone much greater than these is already doing that very thing. Jesus Christ is praying for you. The Son of God is interceding for you. What’s more, He’s not just calling you on the phone, praying, and then leaving you alone again. Hebrews 7:25 tells us, “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”

He always lives to make intercession for you. He always prays for you. In fact, He’s praying for you right now, at the right hand of His Father in heaven. Hebrews 9:24 says, “For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” Jesus is interceding for you at this very moment.

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

Max Lucado – A Pat on the Back

Max Lucado

How often do you see people more concerned about getting a job done right than they are about saving their necks? Too seldom, right?  But when we do—when we see a gutsy human taking a few risks—ah, now that’s a person worthy of a pat on the back. So…

Here’s to the woman whose husband left her with a nest of kids to raise and bills to pay, but who somehow tells me every Sunday that God has never been closer.

Here’s to the single father of two girls who learned to braid their hair.

Here’s to the girl who was told to abort the baby but chose to keep the baby.

Here’s to the doctor who treats more than half of his patients for free.

Here’s to all of you reckless lovers of life and God.

So what if you forgot about pleasing the crowd. Most of us aren’t even in your league.

From In the Eye of the Storm