Charles Stanley – Equipped to Serve

Charles Stanley

1 Peter 4:10-11

The Lord has given an amazing responsibility to those whom He has saved. He has called believers to be His servants and accomplish His work here on earth. Just think about how remarkable this is: Almighty God, who needs nothing and can do all things, actually invites us to share in what He is doing to draw people to Himself, to bring His children to spiritual maturity, and to care for those in need.

Being a servant of the Lord requires that we put ourselves under His authority, listen to His instructions, and carry out His commands. In our own strength, this task is beyond our abilities, but when we are walking obediently with Him, He supplies all that we need.

The Father never gives assignments for which He will not equip His children. He begins by developing Christlike character within us. Then, as we cooperate with His Spirit, God transforms a self-centered heart into the heart of a servant who delights in meeting the needs of others.

To further enable Christians to do His work, the Lord gives them spiritual gifts, which are to be used for the benefit of others. With specific assignments in mind for each believer, the Holy Spirit bestows the precise gifts needed to accomplish God’s purposes.

The invitation is issued; the strength and ability are provided. All that is needed are some willing servants to participate in the most exciting adventure on earth. Join with the Lord in His work, use your spiritual gifts, and make an impact for Christ in this world.

Our Daily Bread — Multiply It

Our Daily Bread

Revelation 22:1-5

There shall be no more curse. —Revelation 22:3

Amy had battled cancer for 5 years. Then the doctor told her that the treatments were failing and she had just a few weeks to live. Wanting some understanding and assurance about eternity, Amy asked her pastor, “What will heaven be like?”

He asked her what she liked most about her life on earth. She talked about walks and rainbows and caring friends and the laughter of children. “So, then, are you saying I will have all of that there?” she asked longingly.

Amy’s pastor replied, “I believe that your life there will be far more beautiful and amazing than anything you ever loved or experienced here. Think about what’s best here for you and multiply it over and over and over. That’s what I think heaven will be.”

The Bible doesn’t describe in detail what life in eternity will be like, but it does tell us that being with Christ in heaven is “far better” than our present circumstance (Phil. 1:23). “There shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him” (Rev. 22:3).

Best of all, we will see the Lord Jesus face to face. Our deepest yearnings will be fully satisfied in Him. —Anne Cetas

We’re thankful, Lord, for Your presence now

in our lives. But what an amazing day it will be

when we meet You face to face!

Life with You in heaven will be greater by far.

To be with Jesus forever is the sum of all happiness.

Bible in a year: Jeremiah 40-42; Hebrews 4

Insight

In some translations of the Bible, the book of Revelation is entitled “The Revelation of St. John,” giving attention to the human author John, one of the disciples of Jesus. This title, however, is inaccurate. In Revelation 1:1, we read, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John.” This is significant because the word revelation means “a revealing or unveiling.” The primary purpose of the book is to give us an unveiling of Christ Himself. Interestingly, that unveiling reveals Jesus to be the Lamb of God, and the word lamb appears in Revelation more than 25 times.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Last Faint Spark

Ravi Z

“April is the cruellest month…” begins the first line of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. The poem is thought to be a portrayal of universal despair, where we lie in wait between the unrelenting force of spring and the dead contrast of winter, and the casualty of the warring seasons is eventually hope. In the bold display of life’s unending, futile circles, one can be left to wonder at the point of it all. Does everything simply fade into a waste land? Is death the last, desperate word? Perhaps it was somewhere between the war of winter and spring when the prophet reeled over life’s abrupt and senseless end. “In the prime of my life must I go through the gates of death and be robbed of the rest of my years? For the grave cannot praise you, death cannot sing your praise. The living, the living—they praise you as I am doing today.”(1)

Though differing in degree and conclusions, literature is unapologetically full of a sense of this deep irony, at times expressing itself in futility. Euripides, writing in the fifth century, remarks,

“…and so we are sick for life, and cling

On earth to this nameless and shining thing.

For other life is a fountain sealed,

And the deeps below us are unrevealed

And we drift on legends for ever.”(2)

Shakespeare, on the lips of Macbeth, is struck by the monotonous beat of time and the futile story it adds up to tell.

“To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,

To the last syllable of recorded time;

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.”(3)

Nietzsche further determines that there is nothing distinct about life at all. “Let us beware of saying that death is the opposite of life. The living being is only a species of the dead, and a very rare species…”(4) And in the face of this certain futility, Bertrand Russell explains that we must somehow build our lives boldly upon this “firm foundation of unyielding despair.”(5)

Is this the only fitting response to such a familiar anguish? Must the human lament over fears of death and the uncertainty of life go unanswered—with only our brave, but futile, attempts to face them?

During the Second World War in the midst of her own unyielding despair, Edith Sitwell wrote of a very different foundation. Hers was not a simple-minded declaration of a better place, a billowy picture of a heavenly home and an escape vehicle to get there; nor was it a picture of a particularly powerful Christendom, hope built up by the armor of control and certainty. Her foundation was not the scaffolding of wishful thinking, a psychological hope made into a practical or power-wielding crutch. It was, on the contrary, a picture entirely unpractical, a weak and beaten man, a defeated God crying with her. She wrote:

Still falls the Rain—

Dark as the world of man, black as our loss—

Blind as the nineteen hundred and forty nails

Upon the Cross.

Still falls the Rain—

Still falls the Blood from the Starved Man’s wounded Side:

He bears in His Heart all wounds, —those of the light that died,

The last faint spark

In the self-murdered heart, the wounds of the sad uncomprehending dark

The cross reminds us that it is permissible—in fact, deeply human—to speak the words at the very depths of our questioning souls. We are at times overwhelmed by abrupt glimpses of life’s finitude, the darkness of suffering, the cruelty of April or November and the pained limbo of waiting for something different. We are at times devastatingly aware that we are human, we are dust, and we are easily overwhelmed, assailed by fear and death and uncertainty with what is beyond. On these days it is not Christendom that can console us, not an image of God in the highest, but an image of Christ in the lowest. In the midst of human despair, we are given the cross to cling to, the picture of Jesus in his own unyielding, human despair, suffering both with us and on our behalves. If we choose to follow him as savior, we must follow him to the cross, where we find, in his life cut short, hope for our own wounds and our own brief lifetimes, life where death stings and tears flow.

 

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

(1) Isaiah 38:10, 18-19b.

(2) Euripides, Hippolytus, Lines 195-199.

(3) Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act 5, scene 5, 19–28.

(4) Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, A Nietzsche Reader (New York: Penguin, 1977), 201.

(5) Bertrand Russell, “A Free Man’s Worship” Mysticism and Logic and Other Essays (New York: Longmans, Green & Co., 1918), 46.

Alistair Begg – A Good Witness

Alistair Begg

And you will be my witnesses.    Acts 1:8

In order to learn how to discharge your duty as a witness for Christ, look at His example. He is always witnessing—by the well of Samaria or in the temple of Jerusalem; by the sea of Galilee or on the mountainside. He is witnessing day and night; His mighty prayers are as vocal to God as His daily services. He witnesses under all circumstances. Scribes and Pharisees cannot shut His mouth; even before Pilate He witnesses a good confession. He witnesses so clearly and distinctly that there is no mistake in understanding Him. Christian, make your life a clear testimony. Be like the stream in which you can see every stone at the bottom—not like a muddy creek where you can only see the surface, but clear and transparent, so that your heart’s love for God and man may be visible to all. You need not say, “I am true”; be true. Do not boast of integrity, but be upright. Then your testimony will be such that men cannot help seeing it. Never, on account of fear of feeble man, restrain your witness. Your lips have been warmed with a coal from off the altar; let them speak as heaven-touched lips should do. “In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand.”1

Do not watch the clouds or consult the wind; in season and out of season witness for the Savior, and if it transpires that for Christ’s sake and the Gospel’s you must endure suffering in any shape, do not shrink, but rejoice in the honor conferred upon you, that you are counted worthy to suffer with your Lord. And find joy also in this—that your sufferings, your losses, and persecutions shall make you a platform from which with more vigor and with greater power you will witness for Christ Jesus. Study your great example, and be filled with His Spirit. Remember that you need much teaching, much upholding, much grace, and much humility if your witnessing is to be to your Master’s glory.

1) Ecclesiastes 11:6

________________________________________

The family reading plan for November 6, 2014  * Hosea 13  * Psalm 137, 138

________________________________________

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

Charles Spurgeon – The Christian’s heaviness and rejoicing

CharlesSpurgeon

“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations.” 1 Peter 1:6

Suggested Further Reading: Philippians 2:25-30

“Though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness.” It does not say, “Though now for a season you are suffering pain, though now for a season you are poor”; but “you are in heaviness;” your spirits are taken away from you; you are made to weep; you cannot bear the pain; you are brought to the very dust of death, and wish that you might die. Your faith itself seems as if it would fail you. That is the thing for which there is a ‘need be’. That is what my text declares, that there is an absolute ‘need be’ that sometimes the Christian should not endure his sufferings with a gallant and a joyous heart; there is a ‘need be’ that sometimes his spirits should sink within him, and that he should become even as a little child, smitten beneath the hand of God. Ah! Beloved, we sometimes talk about the rod, but it is one thing to see the rod, and it is another thing to feel it; and many a time have we said within ourselves, “If I did not feel so low spirited as I now do, I should not mind this affliction;” and what is that but saying, “If I did not feel the rod I should not mind it?” It is that breaking down of the spirit, that pulling down of the strong man, that is the very festering of the soreness of God’s scourging—the blueness of the wound, whereby the soul is made better.

For meditation: Whenever you are overwhelmed by such distress, remember that your Saviour also experienced it on your behalf (Mark 14:33-34). He knows what it is like and can help you (Hebrews 2:18; 4:15-16).

Sermon no. 222

7 November (1858)

John MacArthur – Worshiping God His Way

John MacArthur

“By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain” (Heb 11:4).

True worship requires coming to God on His terms.

At the heart of every false religion is the notion that man can come to God by any means he chooses—by meditating, doing good deeds, and so on. But Scripture says, “There is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). That name is Jesus Christ, and we come to Him by confessing and repenting of our sin, trusting in His atoning death on the cross, and affirming His bodily resurrection from the grave (cf. Rom. 10:9-10). There is no other way to God.

Centuries before Christ’s death, God provided a means of worship and sacrifice. Genesis 4:3-5 says, “It came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. And Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard.”

Apparently God had designated a special time for sacrificing because “in the course of time” (v. 3) literally means, “at the end of days”—at the end of a certain period of time. Additionally, He initiated a particular pattern for worship and sacrifices. Otherwise Cain and Abel would have known nothing about how it was to be done.

God required a blood offering for sin. Abel came in faith, acknowledged his sin, and made the appropriate sacrifice. His offering was better than Cain’s because Cain neglected the prescribed sacrifice, thereby demonstrating his unwillingness to submit to God and deal with his sin.

There was nothing intrinsically wrong with Cain’s offering. Grain, fruit, or vegetable offerings were included in the Mosaic covenant. But the sin offering had to come first. Like so many today, Cain wrongly assumed he could approach God on his own terms. In doing so he became the father of all false religions, and his name became synonymous with rebellion and apostasy (cf. Jude 11).

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for graciously providing salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
  • Be careful never to approach Him irreverently or presumptuously.

For Further Study

Read Jude 11. How did Jude describe the false teachers of his day?

Joyce Meyer – Anointed to Bring Deliverance

Joyce meyer

The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon Me, because He has anointed Me [the Anointed one, the Messiah] to preach the good news (the Gospel) to the poor; He has sent Me to announce release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth as delivered those who are oppressed [who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity, to proclaim the accepted and acceptable year of the Lord [the day when salvation and the free favors of God profusely abound].—Luke 4:18-19

Almost every time I finish speaking at a meeting, people come to me with sad stories of abuse and pain. I understand and often I hurt with them. I understand because I’ve been there. In my book Battlefield of the Mind, I referred to some of that dysfunctional background.

I point that out because in the past, I have used my background as an excuse for not growing, for living in defeat, and for allowing Satan to control my mind.

“What else can you expect? Look where I came from.” I’ve heard people talk that way. Perhaps it comforts them to think that whatever their past held will determine their present and their future. They have that choice if they want to believe that lie of Satan.

“Don’t you know that God loves you, and that Jesus wants to deliver you from your past?” I ask. “Don’t you realize that where you were is only the starting place? You can determine where you want to go and how you live your life.”

I can say those words because of my background, the truth I’ve found in God’s Word, and the Lord’s deliverance that I have experienced.

From the first public appearance of Jesus recorded in Luke’s gospel, I learned something powerful and significant. Jesus went to the synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth, the leader handed Him the scroll of Isaiah, andJesus read the words printed above. What the people there didn’t understand was that what He was reading to them was describing Himself: “The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon Me … to announce release to the captives” (v. 18).

Isn’t that what Jesus did then? Isn’t that what Jesus does now? He said God had anointed Him for just that task. If that’s true—and I don’t doubt it for a second—do I really honor Jesus by remaining a captive? If Jesus received the anointing to deliver me, there can be only one of two possible results: He sets me free or He doesn’t.

This is the battlefield of the mind, as I’ve been pointing out again and again. Jesus says, “He has anointed Me!” The devil asks, “Did God really anoint Jesus?”

Your deliverance (and mine) depends on which voice we listen to. If we listen to Jesus and believe Him, He says that deliverance is not only possible but it is a reality. If God anointed Jesus for that purpose, it means God empowered Him. Jesus came to open prison doors and set the captives free. You and I can’t be set free until we start to believe it’s possible. If you believe that God loves you, wants only the best for you, and has a perfect plan for your life, how can you doubt?

You may have had a terrible, sad, and abusive past, as I did. Thousands of others have worse childhoods than you had, but they received healing. The fourth chapter of Luke tells of another synagogue where Jesus went and “… there was a man who was possessed by the foul spirit of a demon” (4:33). Jesus set him free. Jesus did that because that’s what the Lord does. He sets the prisoners free, and He’ll also set you free.

Lord Jesus, You have been anointed to set me free. Forgive me for listening to Satan’s voice that makes me feel I’m beyond help. You are the Deliverer. In Your holy name, I ask You to deliver me from everything that holds me back from fully and totally serving You. Amen.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – No Other Savior

dr_bright

“There is salvation in no one else! Under all heaven there is no other name for men to call upon to save them” (Acts 4:12).

As a young sceptic, I had difficulty believing in the resurrection, for I could not believe in the supernatural. But as I became aware of the uniqueness of Jesus and of the different quality of life that was His, I was forced to reconsider the biblical claim to His resurrection.

Since it is a matter of historical fact that the tomb in which His dead body was placed was empty three days later, I set out to discover if the tomb could have been empty on any other basis than the biblical claim that He had been raised from the dead. In my research, I learned that there were three different theories explaining the empty tomb.

First, it was proposed that He was not really dead but had fainted from the loss of blood on the cross, and that He recovered in the cool of the tomb (this notion is today expounded by certain skeptics under the name of the “swoon theory”). Second, it was conceivable that Jesus’ body was stolen by His enemies; or third, that it was stolen by the disciples.

Experience and logic have forced me to discount all three of these theories as impossibilities. First, Jesus could never have moved the stone or escaped from the guards in His weakened condition. Second, Jesus’ enemies had no reason to steal His body since they did not want to give credence to a belief in His resurrection. Even if they had stolen the body, they could simply have produced it to discount the resurrection.

Third, the disciples who deserted Jesus at His trial and crucifixion were the same men who, having seen Him after His resurrection, spent the rest of their lives telling everyone who would listen, even at the cost of their own lives, that Jesus was alive. Ask yourself this question, “Would the disciples be willing to die as martyrs propagating a lie?”

Christianity alone has a living Savior; in Him alone is salvation.

Bible Reading: Romans 10:9-13

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Several times today, as the Holy Spirit prompts me, I will remember to thank God for the gift of His Son as my personal Savior and will tell someone else that Jesus is alive and wants to be his Savior, too

Presidential Prayer Team; G.C. – Biography

ppt_seal01

Socrates wrote, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Benjamin Franklin, American author, scientist and diplomat, must have been thinking along those lines as he penned his own eulogy: “The body of Benjamin Franklin, like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out and stripped of its lettering and gilding, lies here, food for worms. Yet the work itself shall not be lost; for it will, as he believed, appear once more in a new and more beautiful edition, corrected and amended by the Author.”

Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

I Corinthians 11:28

Biographies about American public servants are abundant. Many leaders today chronicle more than their own eulogy, some attempting to rewrite themselves as they would prefer to be perceived. However, today’s verse compels people to consider their days not in the light of history, but in the light of the Creator.

As you pray today for America’s leaders, give thanks for the men and women of the nation’s past that lived public lives of faith and dignity. Pray for those currently holding the governmental reins to humbly consider themselves with respect to that great heritage and in the light of the all-powerful God, the Author of all things.

Recommended Reading: Lamentations 3:31-41

Greg Laurie – Completing the Work in You     

greglaurie

When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who watch over my way. . . . I cry to you, Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” —Psalm 142:3,5

Are you afraid of an uncertain future right now? Are you discouraged, feeling like you have failed in various areas of your life? If you have invited Jesus to be your Savior and Lord, then He is with you. And He will complete the work He has begun in your life. The Bible says, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Philippians 1:6 NLT).

There are many reasons I’m glad that I am not God, one of them being that I’m the kind of person who starts projects and forgets them. I will be cleaning my desk and almost have it finished when I say, “I’ll do this a little bit later. I want to do something else right now.”

Aren’t you glad that God isn’t that way? He would be working with me, suddenly lose interest, and say, “I’m just a little tired of Greg. I think I’ll move on to someone else. I don’t feel like finishing Greg right now. Maybe I’ll come back later.” How terrible that would be if He left me hanging.

But He won’t. God will complete the work He has begun in our lives. He will complete the work of making us more and more like Jesus. It isn’t over, even if you have failed, even if you’ve made a mistake. You can still learn from that mistake and, with God’s supernatural help, get out of the situation you’re in and move on. Even if you’re in the hospital. Even if you’re in prison. God knows where you are at this very moment, and He knows what you are experiencing. He is saying to you, “Be of good courage” because He is with you. He knows there is a brighter tomorrow for you.

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

Max Lucado – Your Suffering is Your Sermon

Max Lucado

Sickness and sin still stalk our planet. But here’s the difference: neither sin nor sickness will have dominion over God’s people. He is in charge! So if you are sick, cry out to Jesus! Talk to him about your stomach, your skin, your headaches. After all, he owns you. Scripture says your body was “bought at a price.”

Do the same with your emotions. Did someone molest you? Did you abort a baby or abandon a child? If so, you likely need inner healing. He will heal you—instantly or gradually. Our highest hope, however, is in our ultimate healing. 1 John 3:2 promises that “when He is revealed, we shall be like him.”

In the meantime, before amen—comes the power of a simple prayer!  Your suffering is your sermon.