Charles Stanley – The Importance of Seeking Wise Counsel

Charles Stanley

1 Kings 12:1-19

Sometimes people make decisions they later regret because the counsel they heeded was ungodly. It is critical that we know how to discern what is wise, biblical advice. Here are suggestions to help you detect whether or not guidance is scriptural.

  1. Look for counsel that makes frequent reference to God, the Bible, and Jesus Christ. If you need guidance but receive advice that neglects or contradicts the principles of Scripture, the best thing to do is seek input elsewhere.
  2. Think twice if there is much talk but no prayer. Even with a great exchange of ideas and human wisdom, it’s essential that someone propose, “Let’s ask the Lord to give us direction.” A prudent advisor knows that prayer is a vital element in attaining the whole counsel of God.
  3. Avoid any counselor who compromises Scripture by bending the standards God has set for His children. People will sometimes say things like, “Nobody’s perfect, so a tiny bit of gossip [or gambling, or a little ‘fun’] here and there won’t hurt.” Such rationalizing can quickly lead to bondage.
  4. Beware of counsel that is quick to criticize the church or its spiritual leaders. An advisor who readily discredits the church because of its visible weaknesses may be someone hiding a hurtful bias. Such people may have an agenda that is quite different from the Lord’s plan and perspective.

Remember that living within each believer is the Counselor Himself (Isa. 9:6; John 14:26), and He wants to help with all our decisions. Trust Him in everything.

Our Daily Bread — Defeated Adversary

Our Daily Bread

Ephesians 6:10-18

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. —1 Peter 5:8

The roaring lion is the legendary “king of the jungle.” But the only lions many of us see are the lethargic felines that reside in zoos. Their days are filled with lots of rest, and their dinner is served to them without the lions having to lift a single paw.

In their natural habitat, however, lions aren’t always living a laid-back life. Their hunger tells them to go hunting, and in doing so they seek the young, weak, sick, or injured. Crouching in tall grasses, they slowly creep forward. Then with a sudden pounce, they clamp their jaws to the body of their victim.

Peter used “a roaring lion” as a metaphor for Satan. He is a confident predator, looking for easy prey to devour (1 Peter 5:8). In dealing with this adversary, God’s children must be vigilant at putting “on the whole armor of God” and thus they can “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Eph. 6:10-11).

The good news is that Satan is a defeated adversary. While he is a powerful foe, those who are protected by salvation, prayer, and the Word of God need not be paralyzed in fear at this roaring lion. We are “kept by the power of God” (1 Peter 1:5). James 4:7 assures us: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” —Cindy Hess Kasper

Lord, we know that our enemy seeks to devour us.

Please protect us from him. We believe Your

Word that He who is in us is greater than he

who is in the world.

No evil can penetrate the armor of God.

Bible in a year: Ezekiel 5-7; Hebrews 12

Insight

The church at Ephesus, to whom the letter of Ephesians was written, was begun by the apostle Paul after he visited the city (Acts 18:18-21). Paul’s work there was followed by that of Apollos (vv.24-26), a man who had great passion but an incomplete understanding of the way of Christ. This prompted two of Paul’s colleagues, Aquila and Priscilla (v.26), to take Apollos under their wing and mentor him. This collaboration in ministry reveals how the work of the early church, so often focused on Paul’s work, was a true team effort.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Books and Bibliophiles

Ravi Z

There comes a time in the life of an over-due library book when its return is met less with fines and looks of disapproval and more with wonder and news-worthy attention. Like the Royal Australian Navy Lieutenant Commander Ron Robb who returned a rare book he had borrowed in London 30 years earlier from the other side of the world.(1) Or Julie Geissler, a New Hampshire resident who stunned library staff members by returning an eighty year overdue copy of Charles Darwin’s popular work.(2) The rare first-edition copy of On the Origin of Species was one of 1,250 originally printed; a similar copy sold the previous year for $194,500.

In the world of rare and missing books, Robb and Geissler’s openhandedness is commended. Robb’s borrowed book was part of a 1928 set estimated to be worth £200. Researchers for Darwin Online estimate that many of the remaining copies of the 150 year old work are in private hands, which may or may not know what they are holding. Conducting the first known census of the first edition, these researchers are hoping to discover the whereabouts and the stories of many others. Science journalist Peter Dizikes discovered of one such copy acquired by the Boston Public Library that it was once owned by Robert Gordon Tatham, a “much respected London doctor who lived from 1829 to 1895, according to his obituary in The British Medical Journal.”(3) Another label indicates the book also belonged at some point to Charles and Mary Lacaita. Charles Lacaita was a member of Parliament in the 1880s, as well as a botanist who lived in West Sussex and came from a family of noted bibliophiles. It is unclear how the book made its way across the Atlantic, but the rich history of ownership and appreciation is clear.

I quite like the idea of a census and family history for books. First editions long distributed from bookstores have no doubt made their winding ways in and out of the lives of readers, lenders, and borrows. Perhaps for some it was a book that simply sat on a shelf or in an attic box, like On the Origin of Species did for Julie Geissler until her mother happened to discover it or Ron Robb until he was in the process of moving. Other copies may have been dearly loved and well worn by one reader, only to be loved all over again by the next.

Looking at the shelves of books that surround me, I wonder what clues will be gleaned of my ownership years after they have all left my hands. There are some indeed that evoke a rich history: a book of sermons written by my great-great-reverend grandfather inscribed to my mother and later inscribed to me on my graduation from seminary, a book on lament purchased on the anniversary of a loved one’s death, text books marked up and down in agreement and disagreement, several first-editions from favorite authors, Bibles filled with epiphanies, occasions, questions, and funeral liturgies. Of course, there are also those books on my shelves that also appear rather homeless, void of marks and underlinings, with bindings that accuse me of never having read them in the first place.

Glancing through my shelves at the rich history that is present, I am also sorely aware of all the history that is conspicuously not present. My most beloved books tend to be books I encourage as many people as I can to read, and again and again I loan them out at the forgotten risk that they will never return and often do not. Of this history, wherever these books might end up, whichever lives they might come to influence, I hold on to the clever thought of C.S. Lewis:

“Yes,” my friend said. “I don’t see why there shouldn’t be books in Heaven. But you will find that your library in Heaven contains only some of the books you had on earth.”

“Which?” I asked.

“The ones you gave away or lent.”

“I hope the lent ones won’t still have the borrowers’ dirty thumb marks,” said I.

“Oh yes they will,” said he. “But just as the wounds of the martyrs have turned into beauties, so will you find that the thumbmarks have turned into beautiful illuminated capitals or exquisite marginal woodcuts.”(4)

Of writing and reading books there is no end, observed King Solomon, admitting a different sort of “unending” about the words of the God who speaks. There is, however, an end to our opportunities with books in this lifetime. If a life can be read in the margins of the books once loved and shared, what stories will your library continue to tell of you? What books will clearly be seen as your most beloved, influential, troubling, full of life? What works, long missing from your library, will continue to influence the lives of those with whom they were shared? On the excited occasions of influential books long forgotten and finally returned, it is curious to imagine with the same fervor which books are far more influential, which words will last well beyond their bicentennial anniversaries, beyond your lifetime and the lifetimes of others long after the book has left your hands.

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

(1) Matt Watts, “Rare Book returned to Wallington Library 30 Years Late,” Local London, March 12, 2011.

(2) Peter Dizikes, “Digging for Darwin” The New York Times, May 15, 2009, BR23.

(3) Ibid.

d(4) C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock, 9Grand Rapids: Eerdman’s, 1970), 216.

Alistair Begg – Everyday Dangers

Alistair Begg

He who splits logs is endangered by them.   Ecclesiastes 10:9

Oppressors may enforce their will on poor and needy men just as easily as they can split logs of wood, but they better be careful, for it is a dangerous business, and a splinter from a tree has often killed the woodsman. Jesus is persecuted in every injured saint, and He is strong to avenge His loved ones. Success in treading down the poor and needy is a thing to be trembled at: If the persecutors do not face immediate danger, they will face great danger in the end.

To split logs is a common everyday business, and yet it has its dangers. So then, reader, there are dangers connected with your calling and daily life that it will be good for you to be aware of. We do not refer to hazards by flood and field or by disease and sudden death, but to perils of a spiritual sort. Your occupation may be as humble as log splitting, and yet the devil can tempt you in it. You may be a domestic servant, a farm laborer, or a mechanic, and you may be greatly shielded from temptations to the bigger vices, and yet some secret sin may undo you. Those who live at home and do not mingle with the rough world may still be endangered by their very seclusion. The one who thinks himself safe is safe nowhere! Pride may enter a poor man’s heart; greed may reign in a cottager’s bosom; uncleanness may venture into the quietest home; and anger and envy and malice may insert themselves into the most rural dwelling.

Even in speaking a few words to a doorman we may sin; a small purchase at a shop may be the first link in a chain of temptations; the mere looking out of a window may be the beginning of evil. Lord, how exposed we are! How shall we be saved! To keep ourselves is a work too hard for us: Only You Yourself are able to preserve us in such an evil world. Spread Your protection over us, and we, like little chickens, will cower down beneath You and feel ourselves safe!

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The family reading plan for November 17, 2014 * Amos 6 * Luke 1:39-80

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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 work of the Holy Spirit

CharlesSpurgeon

“Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” Galatians 3:3

Suggested Further Reading: John 3:1-8

It is simple enough for a man that hath the Spirit in him to believe, when he hath the written Word before him and the witness of the Spirit in him; that is easy enough. But for the poor, tried sinner, who cannot see anything in the Word of God but thunder and threatening—for him to believe—ah, my brethren, it is not such a little matter as some make it to be. It needs the fulness of the power of God’s Spirit to bring any man to such a faith as that. Well, when the sinner has thus believed, then the Holy Spirit brings all the precious things to him. There is the blood of Jesus; that can never save my soul, unless God the Spirit takes that blood, and sprinkles it upon my conscience. There is the perfect spotless righteousness of Jesus; it is a robe that will fit me and adorn me from head to foot, but it is no use to me till I have put it on; and I cannot put it on myself; God the Holy Spirit must put the robe of Jesus’ righteousness on me. There is the covenant of adoption, whereby God gives me the privileges of a son; but I cannot rejoice in my adoption until I receive the spirit of adoption whereby I may be able to cry, “Abba, Father.” So, beloved, you see that every point that is brought out in the experience of the new-born Christian, every point in that part of salvation which we call its beginning in the soul, has to do with God the Holy Spirit. There is no step that can be taken without him, there is nothing which can be accomplished aright without him.

For meditation: It is impossible to begin in the flesh and end up with the Spirit (John 6:63-64; Romans 8:9).

Sermon no. 178

17 November (Preached 5 November 1857)

John MacArthur – Focusing on Heaven

John MacArthur

“By faith [Abraham] lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:9-10).

Focusing on Heaven is the best way to endure difficulties on earth.

Following God’s call isn’t always easy. He expects us to trust Him explicitly, yet doesn’t ask our advice on decisions that may impact us dramatically. He doesn’t tell us His specific plans at any given point in our lives. He doesn’t always shelter us from adversity. He tests our faith to produce endurance and spiritual maturity—tests that are sometimes painful. He makes some promises that we’ll never see fulfilled in this life.

If following God’s call is a challenge for us, imagine how it was for Abraham, who had no Bible, no pastor, no sermons, no commentaries, and no Christian encouragement or accountability. But what he did have was the promise of a nation, a land, and a blessing (Gen. 12:1-3). That was good enough for him.

Abraham never settled in the land of promise. Neither did his son Isaac or grandson Jacob. They were aliens, dwelling in tents like nomads. Abraham never built houses or cities. The only way he would possess the land was by faith. Yet Abraham patiently waited for God’s promises to be fulfilled.

As important as the earthly land was to him, Abraham was patient because his sight was on his heavenly home, “the city . . . whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10). He knew beyond any doubt that he would inherit that city, whether or not he ever saw his earthly home in his lifetime.

Similarly, being heavenly minded gives you the patience to continue working for the Lord when things get tough. It’s the best cure I know for discouragement or spiritual fatigue. That’s why Paul says to set your mind “on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Col. 3:2). If your mind is set on heaven, you can endure whatever happens here.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Praise God for your heavenly home.
  • Seek His grace to help you keep a proper perspective amid the difficulties of this life.

For Further Study

Read the portion of Abraham’s life recorded in Genesis 12-17.

Joyce Meyer – What to Do When Trouble Comes

Joyce meyer

Fight the good fight of the faith. —Ephesians 4:1-2

Sooner or later we all have some trouble in life.We all have some trials and some tribulations. Everybody goes through times of testing. And not every storm shows up in the forecast. Some days we can wake up and think everything is going to be great. Before that day is over, we may be tested by all kinds of trouble we were not expecting.

Trouble is part of life, so we simply have to be ready for it. We need to have a planned response to trouble, because it is more difficult to get strong after trouble comes. It is better to be prepared by staying strong.

The first thing you need to do when trouble comes is pray, “God, help me stay emotionally stable.” Do not let your emotions overwhelm you. The next thing you need to do is trust God. The instant that fear rises up, pray.

Stay emotionally stable, trust God, and pray. Then while you are waiting for God to answer, simply keep doing good. Keep your commitments. Do not stop serving the Lord just because you have a problem. The greatest time in the world to keep your commitments to God is in the midst of difficulty and adversity. When the devil sees that trials and tribulations won’t stop you, he will stop troubling you for a while.

To be prepared for the next time you find yourself in a difficult situation, practice saying, “I am going to be faithful to God, and God is going to give me double for my trouble. Satan, you thought you were going to hurt me, but I am going to get a double blessing, because I am one who diligently seeks the Lord.”

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – His Great Love for Us

dr_bright

“But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8).

A dear friend and Christian leader from another country hated and resented his father, who was an alcoholic. Through the years, my friends had been humiliated and embarrassed by his father’s conduct. He wanted nothing to do with him.

As he grew more and more mature in his faith, and the Christlike qualities began to develop in his life, he began to realize that his attitude toward his father was wrong. He knew well that God’s Word commanded him to love and honor his mother and father, with no conditions.

Then he began to comprehend and experience the truth of loving by faith after a message which he had heard me give. As a result, he went to his father and, as an act of the will, by faith – because at that point he did not honestly feel like doing so – he expressed his love.

He was amazed to discover that his father had been hurt for years because he had sensed that his son despised and rejected him.

When the son began to demonstrate love for him – to assure him that he cared for him, whether he drank or did not drink – it prompted the father to commit his life to Christ and to trust Him to help him overcome the problem which had plagued him most of his life.

Through this new relationship with the Lord, my friend’s father became a new creature and was able to gain victory over the addiction to alcohol several years before he died – a dramatic example of the power of love.

Bible Reading: Romans 5:9-15

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Knowing Christ’s great love for me, I will claim His supernatural love for others today

Presidential Prayer Team; J.R. – Pessimistic Pong

ppt_seal01

Slumped over the table in the dark corner of a tavern, an old gent slumbered, having drifted away after one-too-many drinks. Some younger patrons nearby decided to play a trick on him. They procured a block of foul-smelling limburger cheese and rubbed it thoroughly into his moustache and beard. When the old man awoke, he took a sniff of the air, cringed, then stumbled over to another corner of the tavern and dozed off again.

God had made them rejoice with great joy…and the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.

Nehemiah 12:43

Minutes later, he arose, sniffed again, and walked over to another corner. Finally, he went outside, took another whiff, and sat down on the curb in despair. “The whole world stinks!” he cried out.

This is what life is like when your attitude is to see the bad in everything. But that’s no way to draw others to the Savior. Today’s verse declares the power of joy to glorify God! “This is the day that the Lord has made,” says Psalm 118:24. “Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” As you pray for your leaders today, take the time to rejoice in America’s legacy. It is the godly heritage of the past that gives hope for the future.

Recommended Reading: Philippians 4:4-9

Greg Laurie – Falling into Heaven  

greglaurie

He knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. —Acts 7:60

It’s a funny thing how we find sleep more and more appealing as we get older. When I was a kid, I hated to go to sleep. I still remember kindergarten, with the lukewarm milk in little cartons and having to lie down and take naps in the middle of the day. Sleep is usually the last thing kids want to do, but as we start getting older, the idea of sleep becomes more attractive.

Interestingly, the Bible describes death for a believer as sleep. You close your eyes to the only life you’ve ever known—life on earth—and in the next instant, you open your eyes and find yourself in the very presence of the Lord. Scripture teaches there is no delay at all between life here on earth and life in heaven.

Stephen’s statement in today’s Bible passage indicates that he expected to enter the Lord’s presence as soon as he died.

Again, in 2 Corinthians 5:8, we’re told that following death, a believer will enter immediately into the presence of God: “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”

John Bunyan said, “Death is but a passage out of a prison and into a palace.” You see, when death strikes a Christian down, he or she falls into heaven.

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

Max Lucado – Give God Your Guilt

Max Lucado

Is guilt having its way with you? If so, here is a promise from Isaiah 1:18: “No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can take it out and make you as clean as freshly fallen snow.” God can do what no one else can.  He can extract every last mark from your soul.

Give God your guilt. Pray simply, “Father you are good. I need help. Forgive me. . .” Tell Jesus what you did. Do it as often as needed. One time, two times, ten times a day? By all means! Hold nothing back. No sin is too ancient or recent, too evil or insignificant.

Before amen—comes the power of a simple prayer. Sign on at BeforeAmen.com. Commit every day for 4 weeks, to pray 4 minutes. Then get ready to connect with God like never before!