Charles Stanley – Pursuing Holiness

Charles Stanley

1 Peter 1:15-21

God’s children are called to live holy lives that are marked by a deep reverence for Him. One strong motivation for righteous living is the cross and what it represents.

First, the cross is a reminder of our original position as outsiders, separated from God because of sin. Second, it points to our need for a Savior. Divine justice decrees that the penalty for sin is death (Rom. 6:23). But the only acceptable payment is a blood sacrifice from a life without defect (Lev. 17:11; Deut. 17:1). Since we’re all guilty, we can’t pay for our own sins. Third, it was on the cross that Jesus took our place and endured God’s wrath so we could be forgiven. Fourth, the crucifixion marks the time when God’s justice was satisfied and His mercy was demonstrated. Finally, it points out the way to be reconciled to the Father and adopted into His family. Only by faith in Jesus Christ can we be saved (John 14:6).

Sadly, many have forgotten about God’s requirement of holiness (v. 15). Instead of keeping to His standards of attitude and behavior, they tend to embrace some worldly values that seem more comfortable or self-satisfying. Then, secular goals like pleasure and material wealth tend to replace godly ones like obedience and servanthood. Such worldly goals are encouraged by our culture, which has little fear of God and typically ignores His warnings and commands.

To counteract the culture’s influence, keep the meaning of the cross before you. Then you’ll be motivated to pursue holiness in honor of the One who gave His life to save you.

Our Daily Bread — Less Than The Least

Our Daily Bread

Genesis 32:3-12

I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant. —Genesis 32:10

Unlike those who think highly of themselves, Jacob knew that he had been ruined by sin (Gen. 32:10). He thought himself a man unworthy of God’s grace. He had cheated his brother Esau out of his birthright (ch.27), and his brother hated him for it. Now, years later, Jacob was going to face Esau again.

“I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies,” Jacob prayed, using a word for “least” that suggests the tiniest object. “Deliver me, I pray” (32:10-11).

How odd to see those phrases side by side: I am unworthy of Your mercies . . . . Deliver me! Yet Jacob could pray for mercy because his hope lay not in his own worth, but in God’s promise to look with favor on those who throw themselves at His feet. Humility and contrition are the keys that open the heart of God. Someone has said that the best disposition for praying is being stripped of everything. It is crying out of the depths. It comes from the soul that knows its deep depravity.

Such prayers are offered by those who are thoroughly convicted of their sin and shame, but, at the same time, are convinced of God’s grace that goes out to undeserving sinners. God hears best those who cry out: “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (Luke 18:13). —David Roper

Lord, I am like Jacob, in need of Your mercy.

I have failed You, and I bow at Your feet today.

Thank You for being a merciful God, ready

and able to forgive and restore me.

It is fitting for a great God to forgive great sinners.

Bible in a year: Jeremiah 34-36; Hebrews 2

Insight

Jacob had good reason to fear his brother Esau. With trickery and deception, Jacob had stolen both Esau’s inheritance (Gen. 25) and his blessing (Gen. 27). Esau’s last recorded words before he met Jacob again (Gen. 32) were “I will kill my brother Jacob” (27:41).

Ravi Zacharias Ministry –  The Shelf Life of an Idea

Ravi Z

The concept of “shelf life” has always intrigued me. It is an expression that describes exactly what it attempts to define. For instance, Twinkies have a shelf life of twenty-five days, after which, their existence on the shelf as something edible expires. But shelf life is also an expression that is metaphorically full. One might say of the American “Cabbage Patch Kids” that they were once a quite a phenomenon; shoppers were injured as the dolls were pulled off the shelves and seized by anxious crowds. But the craze was relatively short-lived; as far as fads go, the shelf life was fairly brief.

In high school chemistry we took in the ponderous thought that everything has a shelf life. In fact, in many substances this is an incredibly important number to watch. A variety of compounds, particularly those containing certain unstable elements, become more unstable as they approach their shelf life. Chemical explosives grow increasingly dangerous over time and with exposure to certain factors in the environment becoming liable to explode without warning.

There is a tendency to view ideas and thoughts as having a similar aging process. When something is deemed ancient or even slightly “behind the times” it is often accordingly considered obsolete, needing to be removed from the shelf. As if it has become out-dated like a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk, the aging thought or idea, in many minds, grows more unusable with time. And in many cases, history has shown this to be an accurate picture. Certain philosophies might come to mind as movements that rendered themselves useless over time and exposure to the world. Like compounds approaching their shelf life, their collapse was inevitable and they eventually imploded without warning.

Ideas undeniably have consequences and some approach their shelf lives more dangerously than others. While some have not fully burst at the seams, signs of instability appear. Grumbles of discontent from within their own ideological camps may hint at incoherence. Even so, the noticeable shelf life of specific ideas should cause us to question the cause of their expiration, rather than assume it is time alone that moves an idea to expire.

This is no doubt well-studied in science. Factors that increase and decrease the shelf life of a product move well beyond time itself. When certain compounds are stored at decreased temperatures, their shelf life is increased significantly. Likewise, the development of preservatives dramatically set back the expiration dates on food in our pantries. Like compounds and breakfast items, all ideas do not expire equally. We are thus badly mistaken to dismiss a thought solely because it is old.

The Christian story speaks of the promising hope of Father, Son, and Spirit as something that does not expire, but rather, continues to transform generation after generation. “Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them,” writes the psalmist. “I have learned from your words and acts that you established them to last forever.” Personally I know how often I have lived with quite a different assumption, thinking that surely modern thought has improved this or that idea, only to find myself returning to things generations old with new intrigue. The story of one who takes creation so seriously that he joins us within it is one such idea I cannot seem to remove haphazardly from the shelf because it seems to defy the notion of shelf life. A God who can come that near and be that available, while remaining really God, is a gift that won’t be outdated. It is the sort of thing that rearranges everything else on the shelf.

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

Alistair Begg -Think Highly of Christ

Alistair Begg

Give thanks to him; bless his name.    Psalm 100:4

Our Lord would have all His people rich in high and happy thoughts concerning His blessed person. Jesus is not content that His brethren should think poorly of Him; it is His pleasure that His people should be delighted with His beauty. We are not to regard Him as a bare necessity, like bread and water, but as a luxurious delicacy, as a rare and ravishing delight. To this end He has revealed Himself as the “pearl of great price” in its peerless beauty, as the “bundle of myrrh”1 in its refreshing fragrance, as the “rose of Sharon” in its lasting perfume, as the “lily” in its spotless purity.

As a help to high thoughts of Christ, remember the estimation that Christ has beyond the skies, where things are measured by the right standard. Think how God esteems the Only Begotten, His unspeakable gift to us. Consider what the angels think of Him, as they count it their highest honor to veil their faces at His feet. Consider what the blood-washed think of Him, as day without night they sing His well-deserved praises. High thoughts of Christ will enable us to act consistently in our relationship with Him. The more loftily we see Christ enthroned, and the more lowly we are when bowing before the foot of the throne, the more truly shall we be prepared to act our part toward Him.

Our Lord Jesus desires us to think well of Him, that we may submit cheerfully to His authority. High thoughts of Him increase our love. Love and esteem go together. Therefore, believer, think much of your Master’s excellencies. Study Him in His pre-incarnate glory, before He took upon Himself your nature! Think of the mighty love that drew Him from His throne to die upon the cross! Admire Him as He conquers all the powers of hell! See Him risen, crowned, glorified! Bow before Him as the Wonderful, the Counselor, the Mighty God, for only in this way will your love for Him be what it should.

1) Song of Solomon 1:13, KJV

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The family reading plan for November 5, 2014 * Hosea 11 * Psalm 132, 133, 134

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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 – Fast-day service: An exposition of Daniel 9:1-19

CharlesSpurgeon

Taken from brief exposition of Daniel 9:1-19 (This comment is on vv 10-15)

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 85

The prophet in his prayer pleads what God has done for them, as the reason why he should bare his arm; he tells how God delivered Israel out of Egypt; and he therefore prays that God would deliver them from their present trouble. And, my brethren, not Israel itself could boast a nobler history than we, measuring it by God’s bounties. We have not yet forgotten an armada scattered before the breath of heaven, scattered upon the angry deep as a trophy of what God can do to protect his favoured isle. We have not yet forgotten a fifth of November, wherein God discovered many plots that were formed against our religion and our commonwealth. We have not yet lost the old men, whose tales of even the victories in war are still a frequent story. We remember how God swept before our armies the man who thought to make the world his dominion, who designed to cast his shoe over Britain, and make it a dependency of his kingdom. God fought for us; he fought with us; and he will continue to do so. He has not left his people, and he will not leave us, but he will be with us even to the end. Cradle of liberty! Refuge of distress! Storms may rage around you, but not upon you, nor shall all the wrath and fury of men destroy you, for God has pitched his tabernacle in your midst, and his saints are the salt in your midst.

For meditation: These stirring words, spoken at the time of the Indian mutiny, are equally true of God’s faithfulness during the worldwide conflicts of the twentieth century. But do Spurgeon’s words “We have not yet forgotten” retain any ring of truth in a nation which appears intent on moving further away from God by the day? While we may “Remember, remember the fifth of November,” few could probably explain why we do so!

n.b. Read again the text for yesterday’s reading—pray that a forgetful nation will remember and turn back to its Creator and Judge.

Part of nos. 154-155

5 November (Given on 7 October 1857)

John MacArthur – Knowledge Through Faith

John MacArthur

“By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.”

God’s greatest truths are discovered by simple faith.

As a man or woman of faith, you have insights into life that unbelievers can’t know. You know how the physical universe began, where it is heading, and how it will end. You know Who governs the universe and how you fit into the total scheme of things. You know why you exist and how to invest your life in matters of eternal consequence.

Unbelievers can’t possibly appreciate those things because “a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (1 Cor. 2:14).

Some of the most basic issues of life remain a mystery to most people because they refuse God’s counsel. For example, the most brilliant thinkers have never agreed on the origin of the universe. Theirs is a futile attempt to explain what is beyond the realm of scientific investigation.

But such things aren’t beyond the realm of knowing—if a person is willing to be taught by God’s Word. For the Bible clearly states that God spoke the physical universe into existence, creating visible matter from what was non-physical or invisible (Rom. 4:17). No humans observed that event. It cannot be measured or repeated. It must be taken by faith.

Any attempt to explain the origin of the universe or the nature of man apart from God’s Word is foolhardy. The unregenerate mind, no matter how brilliant it might be, cannot fathom such things.

So never feel you have to apologize for trusting God’s Word. Let the confidence of the psalmist be yours: “I have more insight than all my teachers, for Thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, because I have observed Thy precepts” (Ps. 119:99-100).

Suggestions for Prayer; Read Genesis 1-2 as a reminder of the power and wisdom of God in creating the universe. From those chapters select specific things to praise Him for.

For Further Study; Memorize Psalm 19:1. Can you think of ways that the natural creation brings glory to God? (See also Romans 1:18-20.)

Joyce Meyer – Talk to God Anywhere

Joyce meyer

Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? —1 Corinthians 6:19

The angel of the Lord said to Moses, “Take the shoes off your feet, for the ground on which you stand is holy ground” (see Exodus 3:5). The ground was holy because the Holy One was there. Now through faith in Jesus, you are the temple of the Holy Ghost. Everywhere you go becomes a holy place because the Holy One dwells in you.

God is not in a building, where you can only visit Him on Sunday morning. He is with you everywhere you go. You can talk to Him while you vacuum, or while you change the oil in your car. When you let God become involved in every aspect of your life, every day becomes exciting.

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – You Can Trust Him

dr_bright

“So don’t worry at all about having enough food and clothing. Why be like the heathen? For they take pride in all these things and are deeply concerned about them. But your heavenly Father already knows perfectly well that you need them, and He will give them to you if you give Him first place in your life and live as He wants you to” (Matthew 6:31-33).

As a young businessman, I was strongly attracted to the material things of the world and worked very hard to achieve success. But when I became a Christian, I could not ignore the logic of Christ’s command, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33, KJV).

I made my commitment to obey His command. Since that day so many years ago, I have sought to be obedient to that command. The Lord has graciously and abundantly blessed me with the fulfillment of the promise of His supernatural provision which follows:

“You heavenly father already knows perfectly well (the things you need), and He will give them to you if you give Him first place in your life and live as He wants you to.”

God is trustworthy, and the obedient, faithful Christian soon learns that he, like the psalmist of old, can proclaim:

“I have never seen the Lord forsake a man who loves Him, nor have I seen the children of the godly go hungry” (Psalm 37:25).

Bible Reading: Matthew 6:25-30

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Resting on the absolute certainties of the Word of God, I will refuse to worry about anything today (recognizing that concern involves others, while worry involves only myself). “All things work together for good to them that love God…” (Romans 8:28). “My God shall supply all your need…” (Philippians 4:19). By trusting these and other promises from God’s word, I have no reason to worry

Presidential Prayer Team; C.H. – Eager to Serve

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The newly-christened battleship USS South Dakota headed towards the Pacific to join the war in the summer of 1942. It carried new recruits eager to retaliate for the attack on Pearl Harbor. None were more willing than twelve-year-old Calvin Graham – an underage boy wanting to do his part to fight for his country. Somehow, Graham slipped through the cracks, telling the Navy he was seventeen. This young vet ended up with a bronze star and a purple heart at thirteen.

That the leaders took the lead in Israel, that the people offered themselves willingly, bless the Lord!

Judges 5:2

When someone is willing to risk their life in such a way, people take notice. In today’s passage, Deborah sings praises for a military victory over Israel’s enemies. She thanks God for effective leadership and for her people who, like Calvin Graham, proved ready to “willingly offer themselves.”

Praise God for the presidents who have led this nation into battle with a strong hand. Thank Him for the many men and women who choose to join the armed forces in order to protect this country. Ask Him to strengthen the current leadership of America and prepare this country for His plans for the future. Then ask for special blessings on the many United States veterans.

Recommended Reading: Judges 4:14-24

Greg Laurie – Savoring the Moment     

greglaurie

We know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. —2 Corinthians 5:1–2

When my son Jonathan turned eleven, I remember asking him, “What age are you really looking forward to?”

“Sixteen,” he replied. “I want to be sixteen.”

That’s so typical. When you’re young, sixteen is where it’s at. Then you hit sixteen, and you say, “Eighteen—that’s the age to be!” Then you hit eighteen, and you want to be twenty-one because you can do so much when you’re twenty-one. Then you hit twenty-one, and you say, “No one takes me seriously yet. They think I’m still a kid. Wait until I hit my thirties. Those are the earning years.” You hit your thirties and say, “If I could just be in my forties, then I will have arrived.” Then you hit forty, and you say, “I wish I were a teenager again. I wish I could have that carefree life I used to have.” That’s when the so-called midlife crisis kicks in for a lot of people.

Next come the fifties and then the sixties . . . the golden years. You look back, and you have many memories and regrets.

One could almost look back on life and come to the same conclusion that Benjamin Disraeli, former Prime Minister of England, came to: “Youth is a blunder; Manhood a struggle; Old Age a regret.” That’s a pretty accurate assessment of life apart from Jesus Christ.

But when Jesus Christ is at the center of your life, you don’t have to feel that way. You can live a life that is rich and full on this earth—in spite of old age or limitations or infirmities. And then . . . beyond the grave, the best is yet to come! Just around the corner from this life is an eternal life so wonderful that we can’t even put words to it.

What am I looking forward to? I’m looking forward to each day that God lets me live here on earth. And beyond that, I’m looking forward to that moment in time when I cross over from this world to the next.

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

Max Lucado – Our Good Intentions

Max Lucado

Struggles come for sure—but so does God! Before amen—comes the power of a simple prayer. As simple as, “Father, You are good. I need help. Heal me and forgive me. They need help. Thank you. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

We want to pray but the calendar pounces on our good intentions like a tiger on a rabbit. Prayer is not a privilege for the pious, not the art of a chosen few. It is simply conversation between God and you. He wants to talk with you!

1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Sign on at BeforeAmen.com—take a few minutes and do the Prayer Strengths Assessment. It will not only encourage you but give you a building block for your growth in prayer!