Charles Stanley – The Powerful Attribute of Patience

Charles Stanley

Hebrews 6:9-15

When you approach an elevator and see that the up button is lit, do you ever push it anyway? Or when you are stuck in a grocery line that will not move, do you ever think how poorly managed the store is? Our patience, or lack of it, spills over into many aspects of our lives.

Patience is not a natural trait that some possess at birth. Likewise, it’s not a skill that we can, on our own, continually muster. No, patience is available only through the Holy Spirit. Apart from Him, we will have a difficult time developing this awesome quality.

The nature of patience allows us to have the mindset that says, I’m willing to let go of immediate gratification and wait for God to supply. Then, we’re able to experience the inner quietness that can come only from Him. This doesn’t mean we’ll never feel pressure or stress; at times the need to press persistently toward our goals feels overwhelming, but the Lord can calm our heart.

It’s important to realize that patience cannot be developed apart from other godly characteristics. In considering the life of David, we can see that this is true. While waiting to be made king by God’s hand, David had several opportunities to kill Saul, the nation’s current ruler. By refusing to take advantage of the situation, David demonstrated discernment, wisdom, love, and faith in God’s timing (1 Sam. 24:10-11; 26:10-11). Patience is one of the nine qualities named as fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). So to exhibit this important virtue, we must surrender our lives to Him.

Our Daily Bread — Rooted Love

Our Daily Bread

Hebrews 13:15-25

Do not forget to do good and to share. —Hebrews 13:16

When I think of all the wonders of God’s magnificent creation, I am especially awed by the giant sequoia tree. These amazing behemoths of the forest can grow to around 300 feet tall with a diameter that exceeds 20 feet. They can live over 3,000 years and are even fire resistant. In fact, forest fires pop the sequoia cones open, distributing their seeds on the forest floor that has been fertilized by the ashes. Perhaps the most amazing fact is that these trees can grow in just 3 feet of soil and withstand high winds. Their strength lies in the fact that their roots intertwine with other sequoias, providing mutual strength and shared resources.

God’s plan for us is like that. Our ability to stand tall in spite of the buffeting winds of life is directly related to the love and support we receive from God and one another. And then, as the writer of Hebrews says, we are to “do good and to share” (13:16). Think of how tough it would be to withstand adversity if someone were not sharing the roots of their strength with us.

There is great power in the entwining gifts of words of encouragement, prayers of intercession, weeping together, holding each other, and sometimes just sitting with one another sharing the presence of our love. —Joe Stowell

Lord, thank You for entwining Your strength

into my life. Lead me today to someone

who needs the love of shared strength from

resources that You have given to me.

Let the roots of God’s love in your life be entwined with others who need your support.

Bible in a year: Ezekiel 8-10; Hebrews 13

Insight

If we were left to our own devices and determination, even the brief instructions in today’s passage would be more than we could live up to. Fortunately, we are not left to ourselves. God works in us to make us complete (vv.20-21).

Ravi Zacharias Ministry –  Of Kings and Thrones

Ravi Z

The book and television series Game of Thrones has brought the mythical mediaeval world of kings and kingdoms back into the contemporary imagination. The world it depicts is a brutal world of despots and power-hungry individuals who will make any alliance to secure their way to the throne. While there are some characters who place the good of the realm over family or individual ambition, most of the characters are a despicable lot maniacally driven towards power.

For those who hail from king or queenless countries, the language and images of kings and lords may seem at best outdated and the stuff of Arthurian legend, or at worst oppressive. Dominant images of kings and kingdoms as overlords, like those portrayed in Game of Thrones, conjure up images of tyrants living ancient feudal societies who will stop at nothing, nor think twice about stepping over anyone who gets in their way. As a result, for some the word ‘king’ can hold fairly negative images and feelings. My British colleagues, of course, would see things a bit differently!

Regardless, for Christians, the word is inescapable. “Christ, the King” Sunday is the beginning of the Christian Advent Season. This special Sunday marks the end of the church year, and celebrates and recalls the rule of Christ over all creation. The day is captured by the apostle Paul’s words to the Philippian church: “God highly exalted him, and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”(1)

In contrast to the images of despots and oppressive tyrants, the biblical imagery for the kingship of Christ offers a very different picture than what is typically envisioned. The ancient Hebrew prophets, Isaiah and Jeremiah, both describe a coming king who presents an alternative vision to the stereotypical understanding of kingship:

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I shall raise up for David a righteous Branch; and he will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely; and this is his name by which he will be called, ‘The Lord our righteousness.’”(2)

In addition to this prophetic vision, the way in which Jesus lived radically alters typical visions of kingship. For the earthly ministry of Jesus was not one of power, military might, or oppression. Indeed, Jesus turns the whole concept on its head in a discussion with his followers:

“You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to become great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.“(3)

Jesus argued before Pilate that his kingdom was not of this world. He understood all too well the popular images of kings and lords and he specifically sought to undermine them. Jesus demonstrated that as king and as ruler of all, he would be the servant of all. The Incarnation that is celebrated by Christians on Christmas day is an example of this: God the Son, King of all creation, humbled himself to become human, even sharing the ultimate fate of his would-be captive subjects: human death.

For those who care to see and hear in a new way, the Christian gospel presents an entirely different kind of king than those who simply play the games of thrones. King Jesus ruled by becoming a subject and reigns by serving even those subjects who would reject him. This Sunday of Christ the King presents one who emptied himself, one who took the form of a servant, and one who was made in the likeness of humans. It is this sort of king that seems worthy of the accolade that one day all shall bow.

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

(1) Philippians 2:9-11.

(2) Isaiah 65:17, 25; Jeremiah 23:5-6.

(3) Mark 10:42-45.

Alistair Begg – Everlasting

Alistair Begg

You are from everlasting.   Psalm 93:2

Christ is everlasting. Of Him we may sing with David, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.”1 Rejoice, believer, in Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever. Jesus always was. The Baby born in Bethlehem was united to the Word, which was in the beginning, by whom all things were made. The title by which Christ revealed Himself to John in Patmos was, “[Him] who is and who was and who is to come.”2 If He was not God from everlasting, we could not love Him so devoutly; we could not feel that He had any share in the eternal love that is the fountain of all covenant blessings. But since He was from all eternity with the Father, we trace the stream of divine love to Himself equally with His Father and the blessed Spirit.

As our Lord always was, so also He is forevermore. Jesus is not dead; “he always lives to make intercession for them.”3 Resort to Him in all your times of need, for He is always waiting to bless you. Furthermore, Jesus our Lord ever shall be. If God should spare your life to fulfill your full course of threescore years and ten, you will find that His cleansing fountain is still opened, and His precious blood has not lost its power; you will find that the Priest who filled the healing font with His own blood lives to purge you from all iniquity. When only your last battle remains to be fought, you will find that the hand of your conquering Captain has not grown feeble—the living Savior shall cheer the dying saint. When you enter heaven you shall find Him there bearing the dew of His youth; and through eternity the Lord Jesus will still remain the perennial spring of joy and life and glory to His people. You may draw living waters from this sacred well!

Jesus always was, He always is, He always shall be. He is eternal in all His attributes, in all His offices, in all His might and willingness to bless, comfort, guard, and crown His chosen people.

1) Psalm 45:6   2) Revelation 1:8  3) Hebrews 7:25

________________________________________

The family reading plan for November 18, 2014 * Amos 7 * Luke 2

________________________________________

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

Charles Spurgeon – The Holy Spirit—the great Teacher

CharlesSpurgeon

“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” John 16:13

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 25:4-14

If I give myself to the Holy Spirit and ask his guidance, there is no fear of my wandering. Again, we rejoice in this Spirit because he is ever-present. We fall into a difficulty sometimes; we say, “Oh, if I could take this to my minister, he would explain it; but I live so far off, and am not able to see him.” That perplexes us, and we turn the text round and round and cannot make anything out of it. We look at the commentators. We take down pious Thomas Scott, and, as usual, he says nothing about it if it be a dark passage. Then we go to holy Matthew Henry, and if it is an easy Scripture, he is sure to explain it; but if it is a text hard to be understood, it is likely enough, of course, left in his own gloom. And even Dr Gill himself, the most consistent of commentators, when he comes to a hard passage, manifestly avoids it in some degree. But when we have no commentator or minister, we have still the Holy Spirit. And let me tell you a little secret: whenever you cannot understand a text, open your Bible, bend your knee, and pray over that text; and if it does not split into atoms and open itself, try again. If prayer does not explain it, it is one of the things God did not intend you to know, and you may be content to be ignorant of it. Prayer is the key that openeth the cabinets of mystery. Prayer and faith are sacred keys that can open secrets, and obtain great treasures. There is no college for holy education like that of the blessed Spirit, for he is an ever-present tutor, to whom we have only to bend the knee, and he is at our side, the great expositor of truth.

For meditation: We sometimes hold up our own spiritual education by failing to believe and obey what we have already been taught (1 Corinthians 3:1-3; Hebrews 5:11-14). Are you a difficult pupil?

Sermon no. 50

18 November (1855)

John MacArthur – Looking to the Future

John MacArthur

“By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised; therefore, also, there was born of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore” (Heb. 11:11-12).

Your faith in Christ will influence future generations.

I’ve been blessed with a wonderful Christian heritage. In fact, I’m the fifth generation of preachers in our family. The faith of my predecessors has had an enormous impact on my life—either directly or indirectly. I have the same responsibility they did to influence others for good—as do you.

Hebrews 11:11-12 gives a very personal example of how one man’s faith influenced an entire nation. Verse 11 is better rendered: “By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise” (NIV).

God had promised Abraham that he would become the father of a great nation (Gen. 12:2). But Sarah, Abraham’s wife, had always been barren, and both of them were advanced in years. At one point Sarah became impatient and decided to take things into her own hands. She persuaded Abraham to have a son by her maid, Hagar (16:1-4). That act of disobedience proved to be costly because Ishmael, the child of that union, became the progenitor of the Arab people, who have been constant antagonists of the Jewish nation.

Despite his times of disobedience, Abraham believed that God would keep His promise. God honored Abraham’s faith by giving him not only Isaac, the child of promise, but descendants too numerous to count. One man’s faith literally changed the world.

Similarly, the faith you exercise today will influence others tomorrow. So be faithful and remember: despite your failures, God “is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us” (Eph. 3:20).

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for those who have had a righteous influence on you.
  • Pray for greater opportunities to influence others for Christ.

For Further Study

Read the account of Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 18-21 and 23.

Joyce Meyer – Seven Reasons We Don’t Take Care of Ourselves

Joyce meyer

I meet a lot of people in the course of my ministry. Sadly, I see too many who are not taking care of themselves. Many of them clearly feel terrible. Anyone can see this in the way they look and the way they carry themselves. You simply cannot look really great if you don’t feel great. How you feel will show up somewhere; in your body language, the dull look in your eyes, or even the color of your skin.

It is in our nature to take care of ourselves, so why don’t we? I thought about the ways that this can go wrong, and I came up with these reasons:

  1. We don’t know how to take care of our physical bodies. Decades of bad diets, misinformation, and easy access to fast food and prepackaged food have left people amazingly confused about what a wholesome diet is and how they should eat.
  2. We have a skewed body image planted in our minds by media and advertising. On one side we are inundated with unattainable ideals of beauty, while on the other, obesity is so prevalent that it’s almost considered the norm. We need to reset our internal picture of what a healthy person should look like.
  3. We have lost touch with exercise. For virtually all of human existence, exercise was an integral part of our daily existence. Now we’ve invented enough conveniences that we often live completely divorced from exercise. However, it turns out a good deal of our well-being is dependent on exercise.
  4. We have let ourselves slip into unworkable lives. With the incredible pressures of juggling career and parenthood, paying steep mortgages and increased fuel prices and burning the proverbial candle at both ends and everywhere in between, it is oh-so-easy to put the workout off, grab a cheeseburger on the run, cheat our sleep time in order to catch up on paperwork and let the tail wag the dog until we’ve cut everything out of our lives that once gave us pleasure or kept us sane. This is bad enough, because life is a gift and is meant to be joyful. It should be pleasurable and sane.
  5. We have become pathologically selfless. Selflessness can be addictive. It feels so good to do for others and it makes us feel important. Yes, it is a good thing to help others and should be a major part of our life, but in my line of work, I often see people who routinely ignore their basic needs. The only thing that gives them meaning is doing things for others. This is admirable, but it can easily cross the line into mistaking suffering for virtue. Martyrs usually end up bitter. And once the body breaks down and life is no longer joyful, it becomes increasingly hard to serve anyone. Volunteers in a soup kitchen don’t let their pots fall apart while they ladle out one more bowl of soup. They take the time to care for the equipment they need to do their calling. And you should do the same with your most important piece of equipment—your body.

I am not suggesting that we be selfish because that renders us very unhappy and is not how God teaches us to live. We are to live sacrificially and be involved in doing good works, but we must not ignore our own basic needs in the process. Everything in life must be balanced or something breaks down and quite often it is us.

  1. We have lost our support. When we don’t have a good social network or a godly foundation to keep our spirits high, it becomes easy to slip into boredom, loneliness, and depression. If we aren’t able to somehow fill that void, the devil will. You may have heard the saying “Nature abhors a vacuum.” Well, let me tell you, the devil loves one! He’ll put lots of bad food within easy reach and let you mistake spiritual or emotional hunger for physical hunger. Maintaining a good support network is a terrific way to prevent the formation of bad habits.

We need to have right people around us who will speak if they see us getting out of balance. We need to spend regular time in fellowship with God and learning His principals. His Holy Spirit who works through His Word convicts us of wrongdoing and gives us the chance to make positive changes before we break down or become ill.

  1. We have forgotten our own value. This is the biggest reason we don’t take care of ourselves. If you don’t understand your own importance in the Big Plan, taking care of yourself seems pointless. Reminding you of your place in God’s plan is my first and most important task.

If you’re not sure of your value in God’s eyes, then I invite you to read this article. There’s a crucial link between our spirits and our bodies that we all need to understand.

God has a great future planned for you and you need to be ready for it! You need to look great and feel great, ready to do whatever God asks of you.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Wonderfully Comforts

dr_bright

“What a wonderful God we have – He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does He do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us” (2 Corinthians 1:3,4).

Whatever God does for you and me is without merit on our part and by pure grace on His part, and it is done for a purpose. Here the apostle Paul tells the Corinthian believers why God so wonderfully comforts and strengthens them, and us, in our hardships and trials.

This scriptural principle is a good one to remember: God never gives to or benefits His children solely for their own selfish ends. We are not comforted and strengthened in our hardships and trials just so that we will feel better.

Eleven out of the 13 Pauline epistles begin with the exclamations of joy, praise and thanksgiving. Second Corinthians, obviously, is one of those. Though Paul had been afflicted and persecuted, he had also been favored with God’s comfort and consolation.

Paul delighted in tracing all his comforts back to God. He found no other real source of happiness. The apostle does not say that God’s comfort and strength is given solely for the benefit of others, but he does say that this is an important purpose. We are not to hoard God’s blessings.

Bible Reading: Hebrews 13:15-19

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: As I live in the supernatural strength of the Lord God, I will make an effort, with His help, to share that strength (and other blessings) with others

Presidential Prayer Team; A.C. – Regardless

ppt_seal01

One day C.H. Spurgeon was walking through the countryside with a friend. As they strolled along, the evangelist noticed a barn with a weather vane on its roof. At the top of the vane were the words: “God is Love.” Spurgeon remarked to his companion that he thought this was a rather inappropriate place for such a message. “Weather vanes are changeable,” he said, “but God’s love is constant.”

For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Ezra 3:11

“I don’t agree with you about those words, Charles,” replied his friend. “You misunderstood the meaning. The sign is indicating a truth. Regardless of which way the wind blows, God is love.”

Hopefully you know that to be true for you. As life’s ups and downs have assailed you and your family, surely you’ve learned the steadfastness of the Lord – that His love and presence has endured for you and grown in your heart. Now think about America. It’s been through wars, attacks from without and violence from within. Politicians and their agendas have come and gone. What has remained constant? God’s goodness and His care and purposes for the nation. Thank Him for His faithfulness for the country and toward you. Give Him your unending trust and praise!

Recommended Reading: Psalm 136:1-9, 23-26

Greg Laurie – Our Source of Strength    

greglaurie

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. —Philippians 4:13

Sheep are timid, fearful creatures. Because of their very makeup, it’s almost impossible for them to lie down unless they are free from all fear. An entire flock can go stampeding off into nowhere because a rabbit jumped out of a bush.

Yet how like sheep we are! We can be afraid of so many things: afraid of losing our health . . . afraid of losing our wealth . . . afraid of losing our loved ones. In fact, sometimes it seems we can be afraid of life itself.

Certainly there are a lot of frightening things out there in the world today. Violent crime is at epidemic levels. We wonder, Will I get on a plane and have it blown up by terrorists? Will I keep my job? Will I be robbed walking down the street? Will I contract a terminal disease?

Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, will protect you and stands as your representative before the throne of God. Jesus Christ, who paid the price for your salvation, stands as your righteousness, giving you access into the presence of God. As the Scripture says, Jesus is the One “in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him” (Ephesians 3:12).

As believers, we can have boldness and authority, not because of who we are, but because of whose we are. Jesus is our strength. He is the one who gives us boldness. That’s one more reason why we never want to stray from His side! Instead, we want to stay as close to Him as possible.

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

Max Lucado – A Prayer of Confession

Max Lucado

Confession isn’t a punishment for sin; it’s an isolation of sin so it can be exposed and extracted. Exactly what is it that you need forgiveness for? For being a bad person? That’s too general. For losing your patience in the business meeting and calling your coworker a creep? There, you can confess that.

Be firm in a prayer of confession. Satan traffics in guilt and will not give up an addict without a fight. Exercise your authority as a child of God. Tell guilt where to get off. “I left you at the cross, you evil spirit. Stay there!”

Then for heaven’s sake, stop tormenting yourself. Jesus is strong enough to carry your sin. Psalm 103:12 says, “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.”

Before you say amen—comes the power of a simple prayer.