Charles Stanley – How to Develop a Solid Faith

Charles Stanley

1 Peter 1:6-7

Every one of us will go through troubling times, and when those times come, it’s easy to get disheartened. But the Bible indicates that even during periods of challenge and adversity, God expects His children to respond correctly. And His Word equips us to do so.

Today’s passage teaches us to rejoice during difficulty. Of course, this does not mean that we must be glad about the hardship. But we can be joyful because we know that God is using the circumstances to prepare and grow us. Although having a positive attitude during a negative situation does not seem logical, here are two reasons why doing so makes sense.

First, the Lord teaches us endurance through the difficult experiences we encounter. Our natural reaction to pain is to run in the opposite direction—and as fast as possible. However, God wants us to “hang in there” so we can derive the full benefit of whatever lesson He has for us.

Second, the heavenly Father uses trials as a refining fire to purify His children and bring them to greater spiritual maturity. He has a plan for each believer, and hardship is one of the necessary tools that prepare us to do His will. In the process, we will find that our faith has been strengthened.

As we realize God brings benefit from our adversities, we’ll begin to face challenging times with confidence that He always has our best interest in mind. We can rejoice in the fact that He is building our endurance, purifying our hearts, and making us people with unshakable trust in Him.

Our Daily Bread — Oranges Or Milk?

Our Daily Bread

Hebrews 5:5-14

Solid food belongs to those who are of full age. —Hebrews 5:14

When I told my young daughter that a 3-month-old baby boy was coming to our house for a visit, she was delighted. With a child’s sense of hospitality, she suggested that we share some of our food with the baby; she thought he might enjoy a juicy orange from the bowl on our kitchen counter. I explained that the baby could drink only milk, but that he might like oranges when he was older.

The Bible uses a similar concept to describe a believer’s need for spiritual food. The basic truths of Scripture are like milk—they help new Christians thrive and grow (1 Peter 2:2-3). In contrast, “Solid food belongs to those who are of full age” (Heb. 5:14). Believers who have had time to digest and understand the basics can move on to investigate other biblical concepts and begin to teach others these truths. The rewards of spiritual maturity are discernment (v.14), godly wisdom (1 Cor. 2:6), and the ability to communicate God’s truth to others (Heb. 5:12).

Like a loving parent, God wants us to grow spiritually. He knows that feeding only on spiritual milk is not in our best interest. He wants us to move on so we can enjoy the taste of solid food. —Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Dear Lord, please deepen my understanding

of Your Word. Let Your Holy Spirit guide

me and enlighten my heart as I pursue Your

truth so that I might walk in Your ways.

Spiritual growth occurs when faith is cultivated.

Bible in a year: Jeremiah 43-45; Hebrews 5

Insight

Today’s passage encourages readers toward maturity in Christ. Far from urging detailed knowledge of difficult Bible passages or in-depth understanding of doctrine, the writer says that “full age” is characterized by something straightforward and practical. It is being able “to discern both good and evil” (v.14).

 

Alistair Begg – Invite Him In

Alistair Begg

‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’    Mark 14:14

Jerusalem at the time of the Passover was one great inn; each householder had invited his own friends, but no one had invited the Savior, and He had no dwelling of His own. It was by His own supernatural power that He found Himself an upper room in which to keep the feast. This is still the case today—Jesus is not received among the sons of men except when by His supernatural power and grace He makes the heart anew. All doors are open enough to the prince of darkness, but Jesus must clear a way for Himself or lodge in the streets.

On account of the mysterious power exerted by our Lord, the householder raised no question but at once cheerfully and joyfully opened his guest room. Who he was and what he was we do not know, but he willingly accepted the honor that the Redeemer proposed to confer upon him. In similar fashion we can still discover who are the Lord’s chosen and who are not, for when the Gospel comes to some, they fight against it and will not have it; but where men receive it, welcoming it, this is a sure indication that there is a secret work going on in the soul and that God has appointed them to eternal life. Are you willing, dear reader, to receive Christ?

Then there is no difficulty in the way. Christ will be your guest; His own power is working with you, making you willing. What an honor to entertain the Son of God! The heaven of heavens cannot contain Him, and yet He condescends to find a house within our hearts! We are not worthy that He should come under our roof, but what an unutterable privilege when He condescends to enter! For then He makes a feast and causes us to feast with Him upon His royal provision; we sit at a banquet where the food is immortal and provides immortality to those who feed on it. Blessed among the sons of Adam is he who entertains the angels’ Lord.

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The family reading plan for November 8, 2014 * Hosea 14 * Psalm 139

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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 first and great commandment

CharlesSpurgeon

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” Mark 12:30

Suggested Further Reading: 2 John 1-6

We are bound to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Thus, we deduce that we are to love God supremely. Thou art to love thy wife, O husband. Thou canst not love her too much except in one case, if thou shouldst love her before God, and prefer her pleasure to the pleasure of the Most High. Then wouldst thou be an idolater. Child! Thou art to love thy parents; thou canst not love him too much who begat thee, nor her too much who brought thee forth; but remember, there is one law that doth over-ride that. Thou art to love thy God more than thy father or thy mother. He demands thy first and thy highest affection: thou art to love him “with all thy heart.” We are allowed to love our relatives: we are taught to do so. He that does not love his own family is worse than a heathen man and a publican. But we are not to love the dearest object of our hearts so much as we love God. You may erect little thrones for those whom you rightly love; but God’s throne must be a glorious high throne; you may set them upon the steps, but God must sit on the very seat itself. He is to be enthroned, the royal One within your heart, the king of your affections. Have you kept this commandment? I know I have not; I must plead guilty before God; I must cast myself before him, and acknowledge my transgression. But nevertheless, there standeth the commandment—“Thou shalt love God with all thy heart” that is, thou shalt love him supremely.

For meditation: The Lord Jesus Christ preached what he practised (Matthew 10:37,38). His Heavenly Father’s house came first, but he was obedient in his earthly parents’ house (Luke 2:48-51); his Heavenly Father’s will came first (Matthew 26:39), but even while he was carrying it out, his earthly mother’s wellbeing was upon his heart (John 19:26-27). We love our families, our fellow-believers and the lost ones best, when we love and obey God first.

Sermon no. 162

8 November (1857)

John MacArthur –The First Disciple

John MacArthur

“Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. And Abel . . . 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” (Gen. 4:3-5).

True discipleship is characterized by obedience to God’s Word.

In John 8:31 Jesus issued an important statement to a group of people who were showing an interest in Him: “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.” Sadly, they rejected His words, proving themselves to be less than true disciples. Jesus went on to explain why: “He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God” (v. 47). They listened but didn’t really hear. They were interested but not truly committed. They were hearers of the Word but not doers (James 1:22).

In contrast, Abel did what God told him to do. He was, in effect, the first disciple. He was probably a better person than Cain—more friendly, moral, and dependable—but that’s not why God accepted his sacrifice and rejected Cain’s. Abel trusted God, and his faith was counted as righteousness. Like Abraham, whose faith was evidenced by his willingness to obey God and sacrifice his son Isaac (James 2:21-22), Abel’s faith was evidenced in his obedient offering. He didn’t rely on his own goodness but acknowledged his sin and made the prescribed sacrifice.

Perhaps God indicated His acceptance of Abel’s sacrifice by consuming it with fire, as He did on other occasions in Scripture (Judg. 6:21; 1 Kings 18:38). But whatever means He used, God made his pleasure known to Abel.

Abel’s brief life conveys a simple three-point message: we must come to God by faith; we must receive and obey God’s Word; and sin brings serious consequences. If you hear and heed that message, you’ll walk the path of true discipleship and be assured of God’s pleasure.

Suggestions for Prayer; Make it your goal to please the Lord in everything you do today. Seek His wisdom and grace to do so faithfully.

For Further Study; Read these verses, noting what they say about pleasing God: 2 Corinthians 5:9; Ephesians 5:6-10; Philippians 2:12-13; Hebrews 11:6; and Hebrews 13:15-16, 20-21.

Joyce Meyer – Do You Worship or Worry?

Joyce meyer

And the Lord said to Moses, Make a fiery serpent [of bronze] and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live. —Numbers 21:8

In Numbers 21, we see that when the Israelites were out in the wilderness, they were dying in large numbers because of a plague of snakes that had come upon them as a result of their sin. Moses went and fell down before God and worshiped Him. He turned his attention immediately to God, not to himself or anyone else, to solve the problem.

I have discovered that throughout the Bible when people had a problem, they worshiped. At least the ones who were victorious did. They didn’t worry—they worshiped. I would ask you today: Do you worry or worship? Moses sought God about how to handle the snakes. He didn’t make his own plan and ask God to bless it; he didn’t try to reason out an answer, nor did he worry—he worshiped. His action brought a response from God.

We know that the pole with the bronze serpent on it represented the cross and Jesus taking our sin upon Himself on it. The message is still the same today: “Look and live.” Look at Jesus, at what He has done, not at yourself and what you have done or can do.

The answer to your problem, whatever it may be, is to not worry but worship. Begin to worship God because He is good, and His goodness will be released in your life.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Claiming the Promise

dr_bright

“But when I am afraid, I will put my confidence in You. Yes, I will trust the promises of God. And since I am trusting Him, what can mere man do to me?” (Psalm 56:3,4).

Raymond and Martha were active church members and gave generously to the needs of the fellowship. But their real security, as Raymond shared, was largely in monetary holdings. After working hard for many years to build a financial empire, they had nothing to worry about. They were on “Easy Street” and could do anything for the rest of their lives, confident of being able to pass on a sizable fortune to their children and grandchildren.

But at this point, Raymond turned over the reins of his business to a trusted employee who, through mismanagement and embezzlement, coupled with a severe economic depression, was able to destroy in approximately two years what had taken Raymond more than thirty years to accumulate.

Devastated and fearful, Raymond and Martha turned to God and His Word. As they claimed God’s promises, the Savior whom they had professed to know but had not really known, became a reality in their lives. They became joyful, radiant and victorious. Though they had lost almost everything materially, they had, in the process, gained all that was really important. Now their trust was in the Lord who filled their lives with His love and grace. They passed on God’s blessing to others, including me.

Bible Reading: Psalm 25:4-10

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will not wait until personal tragedy, physical illness, financial reverses, heartache or sorrow cross my path, but will place my confidence in the Lord and in his Word and begin now to draw upon His supernatural resources to live a full and meaningful life for His glory

Presidential Prayer Team; A.W. – A Grateful Heart

 

George Washington knew the importance of being grateful to God for His blessings. He once said, “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.”

Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice.

Luke 17:15

Unfortunately, gratefulness is not high on many people’s priority list. Luke tells a story about ingratitude. As Jesus was traveling between Samaria and Galilee, He encountered ten men with leprosy. They called to Jesus to have mercy and heal them. Jesus granted their request and told them to go show themselves to the priest. On the way, the men realized they had been made whole, but only one man came back to thank Jesus.

While America receives great mercy from God every day, few citizens and leaders return thanks and show gratefulness to Him. Many take His blessings for granted. Are you sending up grateful prayers today? As you do, pray also for the nation’s leaders to cultivate a heart of thankfulness and lead by example.

Recommended Reading: Romans 1:16-25

Greg Laurie – Stop Seeking Happiness   

greglaurie

Many people say, “Who will show us better times?” Let your face smile on us, Lord. You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine. In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe. —Psalm 4:6–8

Only humanity has a longing for meaning in life. I can assure you that my dog doesn’t sit around pondering the reason for his existence. He won’t be looking back on his life and saying, “You know, I tried it all as a dog. I chased cats. I drank toilet water. I tried bones. But deep inside of me, there was a void.” Dogs don’t think that way. They mainly think, Food . . . sleep.

Dogs, you see, aren’t made in the image of God. But you and I have been created in His image. We are living souls, designed to know God and to live above this mundane existence that we call life. From the time of our birth, we have been on a quest, and the answer to all of our questions is found in a relationship with Him. God can give us pleasure that far surpasses the puny, fleeting pleasures this world offers. And the good news is there is no hangover in the morning. There is no guilt that accompanies it. As Psalm 16:11 says, “In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” There is pleasure in knowing God, not in chasing after happiness.

I have discovered that I never will find happiness by chasing it. But what we will find is that as we chase God, if we will, as we pursue God and walk with Him, then one day we will realize we became happy people. Happiness doesn’t come through actively seeking it but by getting our lives into proper balance. Happiness and joy are the byproducts of that balance.

It’s like the Lord Jesus said. If you seek God and His plan first, everything else in life—including happiness and peace—will fall into place.

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