Charles Stanley – The Breaking of Peter

Charles Stanley

Luke 22:54-62

Peter’s pride in his own cleverness and strength got in the way of God’s purposes. Christ sought a servant-leader to guide believers after He returned to heaven. The former fisherman was an impulsive know-it-all, but the Lord saw Peter’s potential, despite the disciple’s arrogance. So the master Craftsman used a sharp tool—humiliation—to break him.

When the Lord’s words conflicted with Peter’s opinions, the disciple boldly rebuked Jesus. The Savior responded with pointed reprimands meant both to silence and to teach (Matt. 16:21-23; John 13:5-8). In fact, Jesus needed to correct the disciple in front of his peers on several occasions.

Ultimately, Peter failed in an area where he’d once felt great confidence—his commitment to die for the Lord. Instead, he ended up denying Christ three times before the rooster crowed. This final humiliation, witnessed by a group of strangers, shattered his self-assurance. It was a painful but necessary development, as Peter’s pride had distorted his view of Christ’s mission. He needed to see that Jesus came not as Israel’s deliverer from Roman oppression but as mankind’s Savior from the power and penalty of sin. Thanks to his newfound humility, Peter was now ready for the role Christ intended for him, as servant-leader (1 Pet. 5:5-6).

How are you hindering God’s work in your life? Be aware that He is determined to break you, when necessary for your good and His glory. The Lord restored Peter as a more humble yet much greater man than before. He does the same for every believer who yields to His will.

Our Daily Bread — The Drinking Gourd

Our Daily Bread

Philippians 2:12-18

Shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life. —Philippians 2:15-16

Prior to the American Civil War (1861–1865), fugitive slaves found freedom by following the Underground Railroad, a term for the secret routes from the South to the North and the abolitionists who helped them along the way. Slaves would travel at night for many miles, keeping on track by following the light of the “Drinking Gourd.” This was a code name for the collection of stars known as the Big Dipper, which points to the North Star. Some believe the fugitives also used encoded directions in the lyrics of the song “Follow the Drinking Gourd” to keep them from getting lost as they traveled.

Both the abolitionists and the “drinking gourd” served as points of light directing the slaves to freedom. The apostle Paul says that believers are to shine as “lights in the world” to show the way to those seeking God’s truth, redemption, and spiritual liberation (Phil. 2:15).

We live in a dark world that desperately needs to see the light of Jesus Christ. Our calling is to shine forth God’s truth so that others can be directed to the One who redeems and is the path to liberty and life. We point the way to Jesus, the One who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). —Dennis Fisher

Dear Lord, thank You for redeeming me and giving

me new life. Give me compassion for those who are

still lost in spiritual darkness. Use me to be a light

that points others to You, the Light of the world.

Light up your world by reflecting the light of Jesus.

Bible in a year: Jeremiah 50; Hebrews 8

Insight

Paul tells the followers of Christ in Philippi that they are lights among a “crooked and perverse generation” (Phil. 2:15). But the progression of Paul’s thought should be noted. When we live our lives in harmony and concern for others “without complaining and disputing” (v.14), we become blameless and harmless and shine in the world (v.15). Christ is made known in the world through us when our lives reflect the humility and love of our Lord.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Practice of Grace

Ravi Z

I have always been mesmerized by dancers. I suspect it is because of the nearly annual visit to the theater to see the Nutcracker as a child. The fluid movement, the spinning on toes, arms floating around as if in flight, the dancers made the most difficult technical movements seem natural and easy. I remember one friend speaking of the dancers’ expertise as being filled with grace. The dancers had taken complicated and physically demanding choreography and infused it with simple elegance and refinement.

The concept of grace has a long history within the Christian tradition. In theological terms, grace is described as God’s unmerited favor toward human beings and our not getting what we deserve—both in terms of God’s wrath against us for our sin, and in terms of the abundance of God’s blessing towards us. Grace is also understood as a way of life towards others. Since God gives grace freely, humans ought to extend grace towards one another. Like the well-seasoned dancer, the grace extended toward others should be characterized with an elegance and refinement.

Easier said than done. For one like me, who is by nature clumsy and lacking in balance, extending grace to another can often feel like the most excruciating physical practice. What often results is not a refined and elegant performance, but the proverbial dancer with two left feet. So how does one, like the dancers in the Bolshoi Ballet, live in ways that are full of grace?

I asked this question to a friend as we conversed about living in ways that were permeated with graciousness. He shared a story with me about his children’s karate instructor. The instructor was a black-belt in karate and very skilled in his movements and technique. Like the dancers I saw in the Nutcracker, my friend marveled at both the fluidity and gracefulness of his movements as he demonstrated karate. Afterwards, my friend asked the instructor if he always moved with such grace and ease—was that something that just came naturally and that one had to possess inherently in order to succeed at karate? The instructor laughed and took him into his office. He took out a video tape. The tape was recorded when the instructor was a student. My friend was amazed by what he saw: jerky, clumsy kicks and punches, falling down as he missed his target, defeat against one opponent after another. Was it really the same person he saw before him? Indeed, it was. So what was the instructor’s secret?

Becoming a black-belt in karate didn’t happen instantaneously; becoming anything in life doesn’t happen instantly! Instead, each day offers multiple opportunities to practice whatever it is we want to become. Those dancers who move with an elegance that would almost seem commonplace were it not so extraordinary generally spend over ten years practicing and then several more years laboring in the ranks of a company. Days are spent dancing 10 to 12 hours per day, six days a week.(1) And while fame and prestige are certainly motivators in this rigor, the grace of movement and the ability to make art with one’s body surely ground the need for this kind of disciplined practice.

If the grace-full life of Christ is the intended goal for those who claim to follow him, each day presents the opportunity to practice—to grow in the very grace Christ embodies. Instead of fear, there is empathy and hope. Instead of pride, there is humility and hospitality. Instead of bitterness and resentment, there is forgiveness and laying down one’s life. There is always a choice. And thankfully, there is always one who extends flawlessly the very grace we need ourselves.

For only those who see their own need can grow in grace themselves. In Jesus’s day, ironically, those who saw themselves as the most religious were often the very ones who missed out on grace. When a woman of questionable reputation came and anointed Jesus’s feet with perfume, the Pharisees criticized both the woman and Jesus. How could he allow this sort of woman—a sinner—to touch him, especially as he claimed to be the Son of God? Jesus’s reply is instructive for all who seek grace: “Her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little loves little” (Luke 7:47). Without recognition of the human need for a forgiveness and the sort of grace that reaches far beyond anything we can offer, there is a failure to practice grace-full living with others.

Mercifully and demandingly, the sort of grace offered in the person of Christ is both a startling, necessary gift and the remarkable, difficult invitation to go and do likewise.

Margaret Manning Shull is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Bellingham, Washington.

(1)”Those Undulating Swan Arms? Not So Easy to Do,” by Julie Bloom. The New York Times Online, November 26, 2010.

Alistair Begg – The Best of You

Alistair Begg

He chose our heritage for us.  Psalm 47:4

Believer, if your inheritance is meager, you should be satisfied with your earthly portion; for you may rest assured that it is best for you. Unerring wisdom ordained your lot and selected for you the safest and best condition. When a ship of large tonnage is to be brought up a river that has a large sandbank, if someone should ask, “Why does the captain steer through the deep part of the channel and deviate so much from a straight line?” his answer would be, “Because I could not get my ship into harbor at all if I did not keep to the deep channel.”

In the same way you would run aground and suffer shipwreck if your divine Captain did not steer you into the depths of affliction where waves of trouble follow each other in quick succession. Some plants die if they have too much sunshine. It may be that you are planted where you get only a little, but you are put there by the loving Farmer because only in that situation will you produce fruit unto perfection.

Remember this: If any other condition had been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there. You are placed by God in the most suitable circumstances, and if you could choose your lot, you would soon cry, “Lord, choose my heritage for me, for by my self-will I am pierced through with many sorrows.” Be content with the things you have, since the Lord has ordered all things for your good. Take up your own daily cross; it is the burden best suited for your shoulder and will prove most effective to make you perfect in every good word and work to the glory of God. Busy self and proud impatience must be put down; it is not for them to choose, but for the Lord of Love!

Trials must and will befall—

But with humble faith to see

Love inscribed upon them all,

This is happiness to me.

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The family reading plan for November 11, 2014 * Joel 3 * Psalm 143

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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 – Healing for the wounded

CharlesSpurgeon

“He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

Suggested Further Reading: Isaiah 57:15-21

Poor sinner, breathe thy wish to him, let thy sigh come before him, for “he healeth the broken in heart.” There thou liest wounded on the plain. “Is there no physician?” thou criest; “Is there none?” Around thee lie thy fellow-sufferers, but they are as helpless as thyself. Thy mournful cry cometh back without an answer, and space alone hears thy groan. Ah! The battle-field of sin has one kind visitor; it is not abandoned to the vultures of remorse and despair. I hear footsteps approaching; they are the gentle footsteps of Jehovah. With a heart full of mercy, he is hasting to his repenting child. In his hands there are no thunders, in his eyes no anger, on his lips no threatening. See how he bows himself over the mangled heart! Hear how he speaks! “Come, now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” And if the patient dreads to look in the face of the mighty being who addresses him, the same loving mouth whispers, “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for my name’s sake.” See how he washes every wound with sacred water from the side of Jesus; mark how he spreads the ointment of forgiving grace, and binds around each wound the fair white linen, which is the righteousness of saints. Does the mourner faint under the operation? He puts medicine to his lips, exclaiming, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love.” Yes, it is true—most true—neither dream nor fiction, “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” How condescending is the Lord of heaven, thus to visit poor forsaken man.

For meditation: Physical health is desirable, but short-lived; spiritual health is far more to be desired and will last for ever (3 John 2). We can live for a while with physical illness, but the unbeliever will die eternally with spiritual disease.

Sermon no. 53

11 November (1855)

John MacArthur – Believing in God

John MacArthur

“Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is” (Hebrews 11:6).

Nothing you do can please God apart from faith.

Throughout history, people have tried everything imaginable to gain favor with God. Most turn to religion, but religion apart from Christ is merely a satanic counterfeit of the truth.

Many trust in their own good works, not realizing that even their best efforts are offensive to God (Isa. 64:6; Phil. 3:8). And the more we try to justify ourselves, the more we offend God, because “by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight” (Rom. 3:20).

Some trust in their family heritage or nationality. The Jewish people thought they were pleasing to God simply because they were descendants of Abraham. But John the Baptist warned them, saying, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham” (Matt. 3:7-9).

Apart from faith, man cannot please God. And the first step of faith is simply believing God exists. That isn’t enough to save a person—even the demons have that level of faith (James 2:19)—but it’s a start, and by God’s grace can blossom into full saving faith.

God has given ample evidence of His existence. Romans 1:20 says, “Since the creation of the world [God’s] invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made.” David said, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands” (Ps. 19:1).

Creation itself proclaims the existence, power, and glory of God, yet most people “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18) by rejecting the Creator and denying their accountability to Him. Rather than bowing to the true God, they pay homage to “Mother Nature” or evolution. How foolish!

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Praise God for the beauty of His creation.
  • Worship Him as the giver of every good gift (James 1:17).

For Further Study

Read Romans 1:18-32. Is there a connection between denying God, practicing idolatry, and committing gross immoralities? Explain.

Joyce Meyer – Power Source

Joyce meyer

And what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power. —Ephesians 1:19 NKJV

In today’s Scripture Paul prayed that we would know the exceeding greatness of God’s power toward us. God is powerful, and anyone who believes in God surely believes that, but the question is: Do we believe His power is available to us and that it exists for us? Being able to live power-filled lives starts when we believe that power is available for us.

God’s power is greater than any other power in the universe, and it is limitless. This power, which is “toward us,” has already been given. In Luke, Jesus said, “Behold I have given you power…” We do not need to strive for power or hope to have power someday; we have power now! The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in us (see Rom. 8:11) and we can be quickened (filled with life) by that power.

This is not a onetime filling that slowly drains out of us as the days go by, but we can be filled day-by-day and even moment by moment. We can constantly and continually experience God’s presence and power in our lives. When we belong to Him, there is never a time when His power is not accessible to us.

Just think: If your local power company called and said you were chosen to receive free power for the rest of your life, you would prob¬ably get so excited! This is the way life is when we are connected by faith to God’s power. You have to pay for the power that comes into your home, but your power for life has been paid for by Jesus Christ.

Love God Today: Think about this: You are never, ever in a powerless position, because God makes His power available to you at all times.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Living the Godly Life

dr_bright

“As God’s messenger I give each of you God’s warning: Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you” (Romans 12:3).

A newly appointed director of affairs for our ministry came to me for counsel after being given his assignment. “Tell me,” he inquired, “what are the biggest problems that I will encounter in my new area of responsibility?”

“Three major ones,” I responded. “First, pride, the problem that causes Satan to seek a place of authority over God Himself, resulting in his expulsion from the heavenly kingdom. Since creation, man’s greatest problem has been pride – thinking more highly of oneself than one ought to think.

“Your second problem will be materialism – the desire to accumulate wealth, to live the good life, to keep up with the Joneses with better houses, cars, clothes, and security.

“And the third problem will be sex, the temptation to immorality. Man’s second greatest drive after self-perservation is sex. In the marriage bond, sex is one of the most beautiful of the God-given privileges. But out of marriage, it results in grieving and quenching the Spirit and, ultimately, in the discipline of God. Therefore, be faithful to the wife that God has given you and love her as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25).

“Keep yourself humble by God’s power. Seek the simple life and be motivated and constrained by the love of God for the souls of men, rather than for the good things of this world.”

This is my counsel to all of our staff. It is my message to all Christian leaders and to all who seek to live godly lives.

The highways and byways of the world are littered with men and women of great talent and ability who are no longer being used of God. The fire has gone out of their hearts; the smile is gone from their faces. They harvest no fruit for the kingdom. They have fallen, thinking more highly of themselves than they ought to think, after the example of Satan, the author of pride.

God’s Word admonishes us to think soberly, wisely, prudently and modestly. The faith which we each have is a gift from God, measure by Him. That fact alone should produce in you and me a true, humility, changing any feeling of pride to one of gratitude. The truly humble person regards God as the source of all blessings.

Bible Reading: Ephesians 4:1-6

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: When the temptation comes to think more highly of myself than I ought to think, with God’s help I will remember that everything I have is a gift of His grace. I will humble myself before God and man and, by faith, live a supernatural, godly life, dedicated to the extension of His kingdom

Presidential Prayer Team; J.K.- Peace

ppt_seal01

Fighting in World War I ceased when the armistice began the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, 1918. In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the day as one to be commemorated with reflections “filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”

You killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead.

Acts 3:15

Congress later resolved that that day should be one of “thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations.” It is a day “to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.” (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website) And so it should be!

There was another who sacrificed His life for all people…the Lord Jesus Christ. Give thanks and honor to Him as well. The Author of life died but rose again victorious! He freed you from sin and death. May you know Him. Believing, you will have peace in your soul.

Recommended Reading: Acts 2:23-28, 36-39

Greg Laurie – Don’t Look Back   

greglaurie

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. —Philippians 3:12–14

The end of a year is a time of reflecting and remembering what God has done. But there comes a point where I say, “That was then; this is now.” And I put the past behind me. Paul says he is forgetting the past, the things that are behind. The word forget doesn’t mean to fail to remember. What it means is that Paul no longer will be influenced or affected by what happened before. To forget, then, means that we break the power of the past by living for the future.

Now that’s wonderful when we think of sin. Because when we sin and then come to God and repent of it, and He forgives us, we can trust in God’s promise: “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:34). God isn’t suggesting that He will experience a lapse in His memory concerning your sins. What He’s saying is that our sins no longer will affect our standing with Him or influence His attitude toward us. So if you have sinned, if you have failed this last year, you can put it behind you. You can forget the things that are behind.

Remember, to be His disciple, Jesus said we must take up the cross daily and follow Him (see Luke 9:23). Let’s not be satisfied with what has happened in the past. Forget about it and move forward.

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

Max Lucado – God’s Goal is Wholeness

Max Lucado

Afflictions can sideline the sufferer. Everyone else has a place in the parade. You’d join them if only the tumor would stop growing. You have mood swings as wide and wild as the African Serengeti. And you’ve wondered, “What am I do to with this ailment?”

The blind and the suffering brought their concerns to Jesus. They didn’t ask for Peter or John. They made no request of the disciples or followers. They went straight to the top. They cried out to Jesus. Persistently, personally, passionately. “I need help. Heal me!” You need to do the same. God’s goal for you is wholeness. Your whole self—spirit, soul, and body!

Before you say amen—comes the power of a simple prayer! Sign on at BeforeAmen.com and take the brief Prayer Strengths Assessment.