Charles Stanley – God Is Good to All

Charles Stanley

Psalm 118:1-4

The world is corrupt, but God is good, and non-Christians often experience His kindness (though they may attribute it to luck or hard work). Yet we who follow Christ sometimes feel unbelievers don’t deserve benefits of prosperity or good health, particularly if we’ve been faithful but find ourselves struggling. However, no matter how great our service to God, we’re no more deserving than anyone else.

Our omniscient God takes many things into consideration when deciding what is truly good for an individual and how best to bless that person. He bases His determination on His knowledge of each heart. For instance, a $10 tithe may not seem like a huge amount to a young person, even though he earns just $100 a week. A few years later the same person, now successful and wealthy, may decide he can’t afford to give $1000, even though that figure represents the same percentage of his paycheck.

At times the Lord refrain from pouring out blessing because He knows that too much of a good thing can have a negative effect. Or He may be selective about what He bestows so we won’t be tempted to worship the gift instead of the Giver.

In fact, unless we’re wise stewards, the Lord may withdraw certain benefits. To be fully blessed, we must heed what the psalmists teach: God unleashes blessing on those who walk uprightly, take refuge in Him, and obey (Ps. 84:11; 34:8-9).

Every good thing comes from the Lord (James 1:17), and we must seek Him to better understand His plans. Our part is to walk according to His will and follow His ways.

Our Daily Bread — What Love Is

Our Daily Bread

Romans 5:1-8

God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. —Romans 5:8

Years ago I asked a young man who was engaged to be married, “How do you know that you love her?” It was a loaded question, intended to help him look at his heart’s motives for the upcoming marriage. After several thoughtful moments, he responded, “I know I love her because I want to spend the rest of my life making her happy.”

We discussed what that meant—and the price tag attached to the selflessness of constantly seeking the best for the other person, rather than putting ourselves first. Real love has a lot to do with sacrifice.

That idea is in line with the wisdom of the Bible. In the Scriptures there are several Greek words for love but the highest form is agape love—love that is defined and driven by self-sacrifice. Nowhere is this more true than in the love our heavenly Father has shown us in Christ. We are deeply valued by Him. Paul stated, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

If sacrifice is the true measure of love, there could be no more precious gift than Jesus: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16 NLT). —Bill Crowder

Amazing love!

How can it be

That Thou, my God,

Shouldst die for me? —Wesley

The measure of love is what you are willing to give up for it.

Bible in a year: Jeremiah 22-23; Titus 1

Insight

As a result of Christ’s sacrifice, Paul mentions two great benefits for the follower of Christ. In verse 1, he says that we have “peace with God,” an idea that he unpacks in Philippians 4, where we read of the incomprehensible peace of God, but also the relationship we have with the God of peace Himself (vv.8-9). In Romans 5:2, Paul also declares that we now have “access” to God. This was a stunning idea that he explained more fully in Colossians 1:21, “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled.” We receive the gifts of peace with God and access to God because of Christ’s loving sacrifice on our behalf.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry –  Missing

Ravi Z

Losing things is a nuisance that seems forever mine. It’s the minor things I lose, things I seem to have given myself permission to be less attentive to keeping found. I am notorious for misplacing my car keys most of all, and my sunglasses are presently missing in action. Most days I haphazardly place my keys somewhere near the first thing that was on my mind as I turned off the engine—which means that sometimes I find them in the laundry room, and other times by the refrigerator.

Habitually missing keys are certainly a frustration, but finding them is usually as simple as retracing my steps—and there is always a spare set if they don’t turn up right away. To my husband, however, lost keys are a source of unnecessary frustration. He has worked patiently on the problem; we have a special place to put the keys when we walk through the door. Some days this works.

Other days I more resemble the woman in Jesus’s parable tearing apart the house to find the lost coin, lighting a lamp, sweeping the house, searching carefully until she finds it. And perhaps this contributes to my attitude regard to lost keys—I know I will eventually find them. In fact, the only time I seem lose them is when I am comfortably in the confines of my own house. Sadly, sunglasses are another case entirely.

In two different parables, Jesus compares the sentiments that accompany the person who has lost something to the sentiments of the heavens over the one who is lost. When the woman in the parable has found the coin she was searching for, “she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’” “In the same way,” Jesus concludes, “there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over even one sinner who repents” (cf. Luke 15:8-10).

My lost keys or pens or coins don’t typically evoke in me such sentiments. And I wonder how easy it is to carry a similar lightness about a world buried in injustice, lost in pain, distraction, or privilege. How easy is it to give myself permission to be inattentive to so much around me, to see a world of need as something minor, to view wandering as a problem that will work itself out like lost keys? No doubt the heavens grieve over this sort of inattention even as they grieve over the wandering prodigal.

But I was reacquainted recently with the pain of longing after something lost. Unlike misplaced keys, I was neither confident that it would turn up nor was the thought of a “spare” comforting in the least. Sentimentally, it was irreplaceable and I grieved its loss. I found myself recounting all of the memories associated with it. My mind was haunted by where it might be, whose hands it might be in, whether I would ever see it again. And when I found it, like the woman in Jesus’s parable, I celebrated with anyone who would celebrate with me.

When we lose something dear to us and find ourselves hoping against hope for its return, we are given the slightest illustration of the Father’s longing to gather us unto himself and his grief when we will not have it. When Jesus spoke of lost sheep, he gave us an image of the personal nature of God’s love for each face we pass on the way to work, each child we overlook, each person to whom we give ourselves permission to be inattentive. “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep’” (Luke 15:3-6).

Unto the shepherd who pursues lives and searches hearts, whose arm is not too short to save, the psalmist confessed, “I have strayed like a lost sheep.” Undoubtedly the heavens rejoice over the heart that recognizes its need to be found. Whether we have strayed from the care of God or strayed in our attention to a world in need of being found, he who came for the lost calls us back into the careful arms of the shepherd who won’t quit searching.

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

Alistair Begg – In My Fallen State

Alistair Begg

It was I who knew you in the wilderness, in the land of drought.    Hosea 13:5

Yes, Lord, You did indeed know me in my fallen state, and You did even then choose me for Yourself. When I was loathsome and self-abhorred, You received me as Your child, and You satisfied my longings. Blessed forever be Your name for this free, rich, abounding mercy. Since then, my inward experience has often been a wilderness; but You have kept me still as Your beloved and poured streams of love and grace into me to gladden me and make me fruitful. When my outward circumstances have been at the worst, and I have wandered in a land of drought, Your sweet presence has comforted me. Men have ignored me, and I have been scorned; but You have known my soul in adversities, for no affliction dims the luster of Your love. Most gracious Lord, I magnify You for all Your faithfulness to me in trying circumstances, and I deplore the fact that I have at times forgotten You and been proud of heart when I have owed everything to Your gentleness and love. Have mercy upon Your servant in this matter!

My soul, if Jesus acknowledged you in your lowly condition, be sure that you own both Himself and His cause now that you are in prosperity. Do not be puffed up by worldly successes, and do not be ashamed of the truth or of the poor church with which you have been associated. Follow Jesus into the wilderness: Bear the cross with Him when the persecution heats up. He owned you, O my soul, in your poverty and shame—never be so treacherous as to be ashamed of Him. Let me know more shame at the thought of being ashamed of my best Beloved! Jesus, my soul cleaves to You.

I’ll turn to Thee in days of light,

As well as nights of care,

Thou brightest amid all that’s bright!

Thou fairest of the fair!

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The family reading plan for October 31, 2014 * Hosea 5, 6 * Psalm 119:145-176

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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 – The Shulamite’s choice prayer

CharlesSpurgeon

“Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm; for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave; the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.” Solomon’s Song 8:6-7

Suggested Further Reading: Ephesians 3:14-21

“Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm. Love me, Lord. Help me, Lord. Let thy heart move towards me; let thine arm move for me too. Think of me, Lord; set me on thy heart. Work for me, Lord, set me on thine arm. Lord, I long to have thy love, for I hear it is as strong as death, and thou knowest I am chained by Satan, and am his bond-slave. Come and deliver me: thou art more than a match for my cruel tyrant. Come with thy strong love and set me free. I hear that thy love is as firm as hell itself. Lord, that is such a love as I want. Though I know I shall vex thee and wander from thee, come and love me with a love that is firm and everlasting. O Lord, I feel there is nothing in me that can make thee love me. Come and love me, then, with that love which finds its own fuel. Love me with those coals of fire which have a ‘vehement flame.’ And since many waters cannot quench thy love, prove that in me; for there are many waters of sin in me, but Lord, help me to believe that thy love is not quenched by them; there are many corruptions in me, but Lord, love me with that love which my corruptions cannot quench. Here, Lord, I give myself away; take me; make me what thou wouldst have me to be, and keep and preserve me even to the end.” May the Lord help you to pray that prayer, and then may he answer it for his mercy’s sake.

For meditation: Omnipotent God loves his people with an omnipotent, all-conquering love (Romans 8:35-39) which surpasses all knowledge and imagination. Can you say with assurance that he “so” loves you (John 3:16; 1 John 4:11)?

Sermon no. 364

31 October (Preached 24 February 1861)

John MacArthur – Training in Righteousness

John MacArthur

“All Scripture is . . . profitable for . . . training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).

God’s Word nourishes your spiritual life.

We conclude our study of the character and benefits of God’s Word by focusing on the benefit that ties all the others together: training in righteousness. Everything the Word accomplishes in you through teaching, reproof, and correction is aimed at increasing your righteousness so you’ll “be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17, NIV).

“Training” refers to training or educating a child. The New Testament also uses the term to speak of chastening, which is another important element in both child rearing and spiritual growth (Heb. 12:5-11). The idea is that from spiritual infancy to maturity, Scripture trains and educates believers in godly living.

Scripture is your spiritual nourishment. Jesus said, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). Peter exhorted us to be like newborn babes, longing “for the pure milk of the word, that by it [we] may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Pet. 2:2).

You should crave the Word just like a baby craves milk. But Peter prefaced that statement with an exhortation to put “aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and all slander” (v. 1). That’s the prerequisite. James taught the same principle: “Putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word” (James 1:21). Attempting to feast on Scripture without confessing your sin is like attempting to eat a meal while wearing a muzzle.

Either the Word will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from the Word. Deal with sin immediately so it doesn’t spoil your appetite for God’s Word. And even if you know the Bible well, be regularly refreshed by its power and reminded of its truths. That’s the key to enjoying spiritual health and victory.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the nourishment His Word provides.
  • Seek His wisdom and grace in dealing with personal sin. Don’t ignore it, for it will diminish your desire for biblical truth.

For Further Study

Read Philippians 3:1 and 2 Peter 1:12-15.

  • What did Paul and Peter say about the importance of being reminded of biblical truths you’ve already learned?
  • Do you follow that advice?

Joyce Meyer – The Foundation of Happiness

Joyce meyer

All has been heard; the end of the matter is: Fear God [revere and worship Him, knowing that He is] and keep His commandments, for this is the whole of man [the full, original purpose of His creation, the foundation of all happiness …] and the whole [duty] for every man .—Ecclesiastes 12:13

The writer of Ecclesiastes was a man who literally tried everything to be happy. He had much wealth, great power, and many wives. He restrained himself from no earthly pleasure. Anything his eyes desired, he took. He ate, drank, and made merry.

He had tremendous knowledge, wisdom, and respect, yet he hated life. Everything began to appear useless to him. He tried to figure out what life was all about and became more and more confused. Finally, he realized what his problem had been all along. He had not been obeying God’s commandments. He was unhappy because of it and made the statement that the foundation of all happiness is obedience. There are many, many sad, grieved individuals walking around blaming their unhappy lives on people and circumstances, failing to realize that the reason for their dissatisfaction is their disobedience toward God.

I believe you want to be happy. The key to happiness is obeying God. Ecclesiastes 12:13 says that obedience is “the adjustment to all inharmonious circumstances.”That means that anything out of order or harmony got that way through disobedience and only obedience can bring it back into harmony. Every time we obey God, something in our lives improves.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – You Will Have Life

dr_bright

“But these are recorded so that you will believe that He is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that believing in Him you will have life” (John 20:31).

What a message you and I have to share. That is why John wrote this entire Gospel, so that we, first of all, might believe, but then also that we might share the good news with all who will listen.

“These are recorded” – the miracles presented in this gospel – so that we might believe. The goal of the book is two-fold: (1) to prove that Jesus was (is) Messiah and (2) that all those who look at the proof might be convinced and thus find eternal life.

The miracles, facts, arguments, instructions and conversations – all are directed toward that end. John’s goal (to demonstrate that Jesus is the Messiah), if kept steadily in view will throw much light on the book. The argument is unanswerable, framed after the strictest rules of reasoning, infinitely beyond the skill of man, and having throughout the cleared evidence of demonstration.

All Scripture is given to us for a purpose. The purpose of this particular passage is crystal clear; hence it demands some kind of response from those of us who truly believe. To know the truth is not enough. We must act on it, trusting the Lord of the harvest to make us sensitive and alert to the spiritual needs of those around us.

Bible Reading: John 3:9-15

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will seek to be sensitive to the spiritual needs of all with whom I have contact.

 

Presidential Prayer Team; G.C.- Fright or Faith

ppt_seal01

The movie was just okay, not particularly esteemed by the public or critics; nonetheless, buried within the plot and characters of Benjamin Mee’s “We Bought a Zoo” was a line of dialogue that even the apostle Paul could give two thumbs up: “You know, sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage. Just literally 20 seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”

And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

Philippians 1:14

Facing your fears in sharing the Gospel of Christ can be as terrifying as facing a hungry lion. Without doubt, as you purpose to speak of God’s mercy, the enemy will show up. Fright is an effective gag for silencing your message of hope.

Today, pray for believers across America to be courageous in sharing their faith. The Bible promises that if you will face that beast with just a few seconds of faithful prayer, he will flee the scene and the Spirit will step in. As a bonus, when others see your bravery, they may be encouraged to speak up, too. Next time you feel the heat, take a moment and move from fright into faith. God’s greatest awaits you.

Recommended Reading: Acts 18:1-11

Greg Laurie – Keeping Us in View       

greglaurie

The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. —Proverbs 15:3

A little boy was always getting into trouble in his Sunday School class. Finally, in exasperation, his teacher said to him, “I want you to know that God is watching you all the time. Even when I can’t keep my eyes on you, God has His eyes on you. He’s watching you. So you’d better straighten up.”

The boy was terrified by the thought of God watching him all the time, like some great eye in the sky. After Sunday School, he told his parents, “The teacher said that God is watching me all the time.” They could see that the thought terrified their son rather than bringing comfort to his heart. So his parents put it into proper context for him.

They said, “Yes, it’s true that God is always watching you. But there’s a reason for that. The truth is, He loves you so much that He just can’t take His eyes off you.”

Many times when we think of God watching us, what comes to mind are the seemingly omnipresent surveillance cameras we have in public places today. I knew someone who worked in a department store, and he showed me how these work. They are hidden in places where we tend to never look, and they can pretty much watch everyone. Most people don’t even realize that in many public places, cameras are basically tracking them wherever they go.

So when we consider the fact that God is watching us, we might think, That’s terrifying. But it all depends. If we are rebelling against the Lord, then the thought of His constant surveillance could be more than a little frightening.

But if our hearts are right with Him, then . . . what an incredible comfort! He never loses track of us, never misplaces our file, never takes His loving attention from us for even one moment. God is watching us, but He loves us so much that He can’t take His eyes off us. We may lose sight of God, but He never loses sight of us.

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

Max Lucado – Some Assembly Required

Max Lucado

Do you want to see a father’s face go ashen? Position yourself nearby as he discovers three words on the box of a just-bought toy: “Some assembly required!” What follows are hours of squeezing A into B, bolting D into F, sliding R over Z, and hoping no one notices if steps four, five, and six were skipped altogether. I’m convinced the devil indwells the details of toy assembly. Somewhere in perdition is a warehouse of stolen toy parts.

“Some assembly required.” Not the most welcome sentence but an honest one.  Life is a gift, albeit unassembled. The pieces don’t fit. When they don’t, take your problem to Jesus. He says, “Bring your problems to Me!” In prayer, state them simply. Present them faithfully, and trust Him reverently!

Charles Stanley – Knowing and Trusting the Lord

Charles Stanley

Psalm 9:7-10

How much do you trust God? Before you answer, think about these scenarios: Do you really trust the Lord when everything seems out of control and He appears absent? When He has called you to move in a certain direction that seems illogical and risky? When painful circumstances continue, making you wonder if the Lord really cares?

We all have times of doubt when our expectations of God are dashed by the reality of our situation. Many of us want to trust Him more but aren’t sure how.

David reveals that the key lies in knowing the Lord (v. 10). Distance in our relationship with Him results in a lack of faith, but those who are intimately acquainted with Christ find it easier to trust Him wholeheartedly.

Whenever you are tempted to doubt, remember these essential truths about the Lord:

  • He is totally sovereign (Ps. 103:19). God has everything in His control even when we can’t perceive it.
  • He is infinitely wise (Rom. 11:33-36). God knows every side of the situation (inside and out) and every event (past, present, and future).
  • He loves perfectly (Ex. 34:6). Without exception, He always chooses what is best for us, even if it’s not easy.

We grow in faith, not by trying harder to believe but, rather, by pursuing the Lord. This involves doing all we can to get to know Him—in particular, spending time in His Word and talking with Him in prayer. Then our trust in Him will grow as we learn that He never forsakes those who seek Him.

Our Daily Bread — Music And Megaphone

Our Daily Bread

2 Corinthians 3:17-4:7

We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. —2 Corinthians 4:7

Christopher Locke buys old trumpets, trombones, and French horns and transforms them into acoustic amplifiers for iPhones and iPads. His creations are modeled on the trumpetlike speakers used in the first phonographs during the late 1800s. Music played through Christopher’s AnalogTelePhonographers has a “louder, cleaner, richer, deeper sound” than what is heard from the small speakers in the digital devices. Along with being interesting works of art, these salvaged brass instruments require no electrical power as they amplify the music people love to hear.

Paul’s words to the followers of Jesus in Corinth remind us today that in living for Christ and sharing Him with others, we are not the music but only a megaphone. “For we do not preach ourselves,” Paul wrote, “but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor. 4:5). Our purpose is not to become the message, but to convey it through our lives and our lips. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us” (v.7).

If an old horn can amplify music, then perhaps our flawed lives can magnify the goodness of God. We’re the megaphone; the music and the power come from Him! —David McCasland

Thank You, Lord, that You can take our lives

and use them in ways we never thought

possible. Help us to be the instruments

that convey the music of Your love.

Nothing is unusable in God’s hands.

Bible in a year: Jeremiah 20-21; 2 Timothy 4

Insight

Paul was careful to ensure that his motives and methods were completely aboveboard (2 Cor. 4:2). Careful not to be accused of being a huckster who profited monetarily from the ministry (2:17), Paul ensured that his message was true, his motives were pure, and his methods were proper (4:2). He also spoke of the need for integrity in ministry in 1 Thessalonians 2:3-10.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry –  Theology as a Subject

Ravi Z

“Why would a theologian have anything to contribute to any worthwhile discussion, on any subject whatsoever?”(1) So asks Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist and author of The God Delusion. He further articulates his disgust for theology in his 2006 article in The Free Inquiry magazine:

“What has theology ever said that is of the smallest use to anybody? When has theology ever said anything that is demonstrably true and is not obvious? I have listened to theologians, read them, debated against them. I have never heard any of them ever say anything of the smallest use, anything that was not either platitudinously obvious or downright false. If all the achievements of scientists were wiped out tomorrow, there would be no doctors but witch doctors, no transport faster than horses, no computers, no printed books, no agriculture beyond subsistence peasant farming. If all the achievements of theologians were wiped out tomorrow, would anyone notice the smallest difference? Even the bad achievements of scientists, the bombs, and sonar-guided whaling vessels work! The achievements of theologians don’t do anything, don’t affect anything, don’t mean anything. What makes anyone think that ‘theology’ is a subject at all?”(2)

Dawkins scornfully dismisses not only theologians but the subject of theology, too. Francis Schaeffer similarly recalls in his book The God Who Is There meeting a successful young man when he was on a boat crossing the Mediterranean. “He was an atheist, and when he found out I was a pastor he anticipated an evening’s entertainment, so he started in.”(3) It seems not taking theologians seriously is hardly a new phenomenon. As a theologian, I might be tempted to respond to these provocations with the words of the Psalmist: The fool has said in his heart that there is no God. Nevertheless, skeptical commentators like Dawkins might also make me ask other questions. For instance, from where did people get the idea that theology is meaningless and also detached from other subjects? Do others think the same about theologians? Did the theological community contribute in any way to this impression? Are religious leaders guilty of indulging in spiritual talk entirely divorced from reality?

When the apostle Paul visited Athens “his spirit was provoked” as he observed the city full of idols. Nevertheless, when he addressed the Areogagus gathering he commended them for being a religious people. Having spent time understanding their religious and philosophical beliefs he begins his message by finding a bridge in their idolatry with “The unknown god.” He knew that bridges could not be built without starting at their end of the shore. And he knew their ideas and interests well enough to quote their own poets and prophets.

The Christian embodies theology in this world of commerce, science, philosophy, and the arts. It is a subject because of its Subject. Where Christianity is lived well, the charge that theologians can engage only in the pursuit of theology devoid of contemporary issues should sound false to the ears of this generation. For all truth is God’s truth. As hymn writer Maltbie Babcock wrote more than a century ago:

This is my Father’s world,

and to my listening ears

all nature sings, and round me rings

the music of the spheres.

This is my Father’s world:

he shines in all that’s fair;

in the rustling grass I hear him pass;

he speaks to me everywhere.

Cyril Georgeson is a member of the speaking team with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Mumbai, India.

(1) Richard Dawkins as quoted in “What’s so heavenly about the God particle?” Newsweek, January 2, 2012.

(2) Richard Dawkins, “The Emptiness of Theology,” Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 18, Number 2.

(3) Francis Shaeffer, The God Who Is There in The Francis A. Schaeffer Trilogy (Wheaton: Crossway, 1990), 68.

Alistair Begg – A Different Garden

Alistair Begg

O you who dwell in the gardens, with companions listening for your voice; let me hear it.    Song of Solomon 8:13

My sweet Lord Jesus remembers well the garden of Gethsemane, and although He has left that garden, He now dwells in the garden of His church: There He discloses Himself to those who keep His blessed company. The voice of love with which He speaks to His beloved is more musical than the harps of heaven. There is a depth of melodious love within it that leaves all human music far behind. Tens of thousands on earth, and millions above, are consumed with its harmonious accents. Some whom I know well, and whom I greatly envy, are at this moment hearkening to the beloved voice.

O that I were a partaker of their joys! It is true some of these are poor, others bedridden, and some near the gates of death; but, my Lord, I would cheerfully starve with them, pine with them, or die with them if I might simply hear Your voice. Once I heard it often, but I have grieved Your Spirit. Return to me in compassion and once again say to me, “I am your salvation.”

No other voice can content me. I know Your voice and cannot be deceived by another; let me hear it, I pray You. I do not know what You will say, nor do I make any condition, my Beloved; simply let me hear You speak, and if it be a rebuke I will bless You for it. Perhaps the cleansing of my dull ear will require a painful surgery, but let it cost me what it will, I have only one consuming desire—to hear Your voice.

Pierce my ear with Your harshest notes, but do not allow me to remain deaf to Your calls. Tonight, Lord, grant Your unworthy servant his desire, for I am Yours, and You have bought me with Your blood. You have opened my eyes to see You, and the sight has saved me. Lord, open my ear. I have read Your heart; now let me hear from Your lips.

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The family reading plan for October 30, 2014 * Hosea 3, 4 * Psalm 119:121-144

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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 – The Saviour’s many crowns

CharlesSpurgeon

“On his head were many crowns.” Revelation 19:12

Suggested Further Reading: Revelation 4

All the mighty doers in Christ’s church ascribe their crown to him. What a glorious crown is that which Elijah will wear—the man who went to Ahab, and when Ahab said, “Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?” reproved him to his very face—the man who took the prophets of Baal, and let not one of them escape, but hewed them in pieces and made them a sacrifice to God. What a crown will he wear who ascended into heaven in a chariot of fire! What a crown, again, belongs to Daniel, saved from the lion’s den—Daniel, the earnest prophet of God. What a crown will be that which shall glitter on the head of the weeping Jeremiah, and the eloquent Isaiah! What crowns are those which shall cover the heads of the apostles! What a weighty diadem is that which Paul shall receive for his many years of service! And then, my friends, how shall the crown of Luther glitter, and the crown of Calvin; and what a noble diadem shall that be which Whitefield shall wear, and all those men who have so valiantly served God, and who by his might have put to flight the armies of the Aliens, and have maintained the gospel banner erect in troubled times! No, but let me point to you a scene. Elijah enters heaven, and where goes he with that crown which is instantly put upon his head? See, he flies to the throne, and stooping there, he uncrowns himself, “Not unto me, not unto me, but unto thy name be all the glory!” See the prophets as they stream in one by one; without exception, they put their crowns upon the head of Christ. And mark the apostles, and all the mighty teachers of the church: they all bow there and cast their crowns at his feet, who, by his grace, enabled them to win them.

For meditation: Will you receive any of the crowns mentioned in the New Testament?—The crown of rejoicing—for faithful evangelism out of love for the lost. The crown of righteousness—for faithful expectation out of love for the Lord’s presence. The crown of resurrection life—for faithful endurance out of love for the Lord’s person. The crown of renown—for faithful examples out of love for the Lord’s people (1 Thessalonians 2:19; 2 Timothy 4:8; James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:2-4).

Sermon no. 281

30 October (1859)

John MacArthur – Increasing Your Spiritual Strength

John MacArthur

“All Scripture is . . . profitable for . . . correction” (2 Tim. 3:16).

God’s Word strengthens the repentant sinner.

If you’re a gardening buff, you know that skillful pruning promotes the overall growth and productivity of a plant. Jesus assumed His audience knew as much when He said, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you” (John 15:1-3).

Jesus was comparing believers to branches, which the Father prunes for maximum productivity. The Word is His pruning shear, which He applies with skill and precision to remove our imperfections and promote godliness. He wants to eliminate anything from our lives that may restrict our spiritual growth.

The word translated “correction” in 2 Timothy 3:16 speaks of the strengthening work of God’s Word. Scripture not only exposes your sin, but it also strengthens you and restores you to a proper spiritual posture. It convicts you and then gives you instruction to build you up again.

Job 17:9 says, “The righteous shall hold to his way, and he who has clean hands shall grow stronger and stronger.” Paul added, “I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).

As the Spirit uses Scripture to expose sin in your life, forsake that sin and follow what Scripture says to do instead. You will be strengthened in your spiritual walk as a result. To aid in that process be “constantly nourished on the words of the faith and . . . sound doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:6).

I firmly believe that any weaknesses you have can become areas of great strength as you allow God’s Word to do its sanctifying work within you.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the strengthening and restoring power of His Word.
  • If there’s an area of your life that is weak and vulnerable to temptation, confess it to the Lord and begin today to strengthen it according to the Word.

For Further Study

Read Ephesians 1:18-23 and 3:14-21.

  • What did Paul pray for?
  • How did God demonstrate His power toward believers?
  • Is God’s power sufficient for all your spiritual needs? Explain.

Joyce Meyer – First Things First

Joyce meyer

But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides. —Matthew 6:33

Too often we spend all of our time seeking God for answers to our problems when what we should be doing is just seeking God.

As long as we are seeking God, we are staying in the secret place, under the shadow of His wing. Psalm 91:4 says, “Under His wings shall you trust and find refuge.” But when we start seeking answers to all the problems and situations that confront us, trying to fulfill our desires rather than God’s will, we get out from under the shadow of His wing.

For many years I sought God about how I could get my ministry to grow. The result was that it stayed just the same as it was. It never grew. Sometimes it even went backward. What I didn’t realize was that all I needed to do was to seek the kingdom of God, and He would add the growth.

Do you realize that you don’t even have to worry about your own spiritual growth? All you need to do is seek the Kingdom, and you will grow. Seek God, abide in Him, and He will cause increase and growth.

A baby just drinks milk and grows. All you and I have to do is desire the sincere milk of the Word, and we will grow (see 1 peter 2:2). We can never experience any real measure of success by our own human effort. Instead, we must seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; then all these other things we need will be added to us.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – When We Commit

dr_bright

“Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him to help you do it and He will” (Psalm 37:5).

Janet remained after the student meeting for counsel.

“How can I commit everything I do to the Lord?” she inquired. “What is involved in a total commitment?”

I explained that mere words can be superficial and shallow, and even insulting to God. It is the commitment of our intellects, our emotions and our wills to do the will of God in every situation with the faith that we can, as promised, trust Him to help us do whatever He calls us to do.

Sometimes I wonder if we really know the meaning of the word commitment. Paraphrasing an anonymous source:

We sing “Sweet Hour of Prayer” and are content with five or ten minutes a day. We sing “Onward Christian Soldiers” and wait to be drafted into His service. We sing “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing” and don’t use the one we have.

We sing “I Love to Tell the Story” but never witness to the love of Christ personally. We sing “We’re Marching to Zion” but fail to march to worship or Sunday school. We sing “Cast Thy Burden on the Lord” and worry ourselves into a nervous breakdown.

We sing “The Whole Wide World for Jesus” and never invite our next-door neighbor to consider the claims of Christ. We sing “O Day of Rest and Gladness” and wear ourselves out traveling or cutting grass or playing golf on Sunday. We sing “Throw Out the Lifeline” and content ourselves with throwing out a fishing line.

Consistency is a wonderful word for the believer in Christ. Add to that the word commitment and you have a rare combination of supernatural enablements that result in a triumphant, fruitful life.

Bible Reading: Proverbs 3:5-10

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will commit everything I do to the Lord and trust Him to help me do what He calls me to do. Since He has called me to be His witness, I will trust Him to enable me to share His love and forgiveness through Christ with someone else today.

Presidential Prayer Team; J.K. – Heed the Call!

ppt_seal01

Today’s verse is a statement to the people of Israel whose faithlessness, wickedness, empty religion and rebellious nature had brought God to a time of judgment. Ezekiel spoke those same words more than 50 other times in his effort to convict them of their sin and remind them of the holiness of God.

And you shall know that I am the Lord.

Ezekiel 6:7

These same words should be a positive statement for you as you see the Lord working in your life, giving you direction, guiding you through challenging situations, and preparing you to respond well in trying circumstances. When you falter because of fear or temptation, it should be a call for you to return in prayer to the One who is faithful and true, the One who protects and defends those who believe and trust in Him, and for whom He works all things for good (Romans 8:28).

God has promised to cleanse you, revive you, and put His Spirit within you so you can walk in His statutes and carefully obey His commands. He’ll also hear and act as you intercede passionately for this nation and its leaders – that they may have the reality of forgiven sin and the benefit of a faithful relationship with the one true God.

Recommended Reading: Ezekiel 36:22-31