Charles Stanley – The Consequence of Impatience

Charles Stanley

Luke 15:11-19

We send a strong, negative message by exhibiting impatience toward God. When we demonstrate an inability to tolerate delay, we are telling the Lord, “I do not trust Your timing; mine is better.”

At times, we all stand at a fork in the road of life and must decide whether we’re willing to wait for God’s prompting. It’s critical that we obey Him and be patient with His schedule and plan. Consider the negative example of the Prodigal Son, who squandered his inheritance and then faced several consequences:

  1. He brought sorrow on his family. Oftentimes our impatience hurts those we love.
  2. He separated from his family. When we run ahead of God, we also frequently run away from voices of reason and wisdom in our life.
  3. He faced poverty. We stand to lose a great deal when we ignore the Lord’s timing because His blessing accompanies our obedience.
  4. He felt unworthy. We cannot experience fellowship with God when impatience keeps us outside of His will.

We know that at the end of the story, the Prodigal Son is joyfully welcomed back into his family. His father lavishes love and attention upon this son and assures him of his worth. But although he is forgiven, the results of his impatience are not entirely erased. He will never regain the wealth he wasted. It’s not always possible to take back our mistakes once we have jumped ahead of God. It is always better that we wait for Him to tell us when to move forward.

Our Daily Bread – Goodbye

Our Daily Bread

Numbers 11:1-10

When the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the Lord heard it, and His anger was aroused. —Numbers 11:1

Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 11-13; James 1

When Max Lucado participated in a half-Ironman triathlon, he experienced the negative power of complaint. He said, “After the 1.2-mile swim and the 56-mile bike ride, I didn’t have much energy left for the 13.1-mile run. Neither did the fellow jogging next to me. He said, ‘This stinks. This race is the dumbest decision I’ve ever made.’ I said, ‘Goodbye.’ ” Max knew that if he listened too long, he would start agreeing with him. So he said goodbye and kept running.

Among the Israelites, too many people listened too long to complaints and began to agree with them. This displeased God, and for good reason. God had delivered the Israelites from slavery, and agreed to live in their midst, but they still complained. Beyond the hardship of the desert, they were dissatisfied with God’s provision of manna. In their complaint, Israel forgot that the manna was a gift to them from God’s loving hand (Num. 11:6). Because complaining poisons the heart with ingratitude and can be a contagion, God had to judge it.

This is a sure way to say “goodbye” to complaining and ingratitude: Each day, let’s rehearse the faithfulness and goodness of God to us.

Lord, You have given us so much. Forgive us for our

short memories and bad attitudes. Help us to

remember and be grateful for all that You have

provided. And help us to tell others of the good things You have done for us.

Proclaiming God’s faithfulness silences discontentment.

Insight

When they faced difficulties, the Israelites often complained against Moses (see Ex. 16:2; 17:3; Num. 14:2; 16:41; 20:3). Their first complaint was made just 3 days out of Egypt (Ex. 15:22-24). Paul warned us not to follow their critical spirit (1 Cor. 10:1-10), for they were sinning against the Lord (Ex. 16:8).

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Selective Hearing

Ravi Z

We may live in a world full of individualists and individualism, but when it comes to reaching the individual conscience and the individual ear, it is often not so simple. For the one in the crowd, for the individual among the masses, any appeal for moral action or ethical change is likely to be heard more with one’s neighbor in mind than oneself. Whether rooted in human nature or simply another form of individualism, it seems our neighbors’ flaws are far more worthy of commentary. F.W. Boreham noted this tendency in any congregation with more than one member. “[I]n a congregation of two, each auditor takes it for granted that the preacher is referring to the other.”(1)

True to form, it is on rare occasions that the words of ancient prophets, who cried out at injustice and wept loudly for repentance, seem like they are talking to me. Most of the time, they seem very clearly to be talking to a people and situation well in the past, or at best a wayward culture, or a particular philosophy, policy, or party. This is perhaps why the prophets had to weep and yell so loudly. Though the great command of Israel assumes that the crowd is listening—”Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One”—often, we are not. Or rather, we might be listening, but we are listening for someone else.

With every fiber of their unique beings, the prophets attempt to counter our selective hearing. The last prophet, the prophet who cried for the world to recognize the savior among them, was no different. John the Baptist came bounding through the wilderness with an immensely personal message, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, and calling the masses to see their collective and individual need for the one who could make all things new. This is where Mark begins his gospel: with the cry of a prophet to open the ears of all. The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, he tells us, begins with the call of John the Baptist: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight!”

Somewhere along the path to Christmas, many Christians revisit these words first recorded by the prophet Isaiah and later described as the message of John. It is a message that perhaps seems easiest to hear for someone else; after all, John’s words were aimed at the “Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem” who responded by coming to the Jordan to be baptized. Or maybe the prophet’s call for universal preparation just seems an all too familiar part of a familiar story. Regardless, it is likely that all the many years of hearing the prophet’s cry for someone else has dulled the command in our minds.

Yet in fact, no matter whom we hear that message for, it is actually quite a radical suggestion. How does one prepare roads for God? How does anyone make the paths of God straight? What does that even mean? When you remember the story of Christmas, do you picture men and women preparing the road that brought God to earth, human beings taking an active role in shaping the paths and highways of God’s coming?

Now, how much more radical is this image if you hear the command for yourself? Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight! Beginning his gospel with the cry of the prophet, Mark attempts to open ears to this very thought. The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ involves you. How are you preparing the way of the human Son of God, paving roads and clearing paths for the sake of God among us? It is a question every bit as much aimed at your ears and your life as it was the first audience who heard it—or your neighbors who might need to hear it.

The story of Christ’s coming as an infant in Bethlehem marks the beginning of the great promises and reversals we anticipate because of his presence with us—beauty rising from ashes and mourning turned to dancing, waters breaking forth from the wilderness and streams from the desert. But this story is not finished. John continues to call us to prepare the way for the one who shares our own humanity, to join in the restoration that God has started. All of the prophets, in fact, continue to cry out with inviting and challenging images of God’s countercultural movement: swords made into plowshares and spears to pruning hooks, wolves lying down with lambs, cows and bears grazing together, justice rolling down like waters and righteousness like ever-flowing streams, the desert blossoming, the blind seeing, the lame leaping, the lowly lifted up, and the hungry filled with good things. How are you participating? How might your life change, if the prophets are talking to you?

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

(1) F.W. Boreham, “The Ideal Congregation,” Dreams at Sunset (London: Epworth Press, 1954), 88.

 

Alistair Begg – Seek Him in Trouble

Alistair Begg

Oh, that I knew where I might find him. Job 23:3

In Job’s extremely trying circumstances, he cried for the Lord. The longing desire of an afflicted child of God is to see his Father’s face once more. His first prayer is not “Oh, that I might be healed of the disease that now spreads through my body!” nor even “Oh, that I might see my children restored from the jaws of the grave, and my property returned to me from the hand of the thief!” The first and foremost cry is, “Oh, that I knew where I might find Him, who is my God, that I might come even to His seat!” God’s children run home when the storm comes. It is the heaven-born instinct of a gracious soul to seek shelter from all ills beneath the wings of Jehovah. “He who has made God his refuge” might serve as the title of a true believer.

A hypocrite, when afflicted by God, resents the infliction and, like a slave, would run from the Master who has scourged him; but not so the true heir of heaven, who kisses the hand that struck him and seeks shelter from the rod in the heart of the God who frowned upon him. Job’s desire to commune with God was intensified by the failure of all other sources of consolation.

The patriarch turned away from his sorry friends and looked up to the heavenly throne, just as a traveler turns from his empty water jug and makes a beeline for the well. He bids farewell to earthborn hopes and cries, “Oh, that I knew where I might find my God!” Nothing teaches us about the preciousness of the Creator as much as when we learn the emptiness of everything else. Turning away with bitter scorn from earth’s hives, where we find no honey but many sharp stings, we rejoice in Him whose faithful word is sweeter than honey or the honeycomb. In every trouble we should first seek to realize God’s presence with us. Only let us enjoy His smile, and then we can bear our daily cross with a willing heart for His dear sake.

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The family reading plan for November 19, 2014 * Amos 8 * Luke 3

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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 – All-sufficiency magnified

 

CharlesSpurgeon“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13

Suggested Further Reading: Acts 22:6-16

Christians, beware lest that village in which you have found a quiet retreat from the cares of business, should rise up in judgment against you, to condemn you, because, having means and opportunity, you use the village for rest, but never seek to do any good in it. Take care, masters and mistresses, lest your servant’s souls be required of you at the last great day. “I worked for my master;” they say, “he paid me my wages, but had no respect to his greater Master, and never spoke to me, though he heard me swear, and saw me going on in my sins.” If I could I would thrust a thorn into the seat where you are now sitting, and make you spring up for a moment to the dignity of a thought of your responsibilities. Why, sirs, what has God made you for? What has he sent you here for? Did he make stars that should not shine, and suns that should give no light, and moons that should not cheer the darkness? Has he made rivers that shall not be filled with water, and mountains that shall not stay the clouds? Has he made even the forests which shall not give a habitation to the birds; or has he made the prairie which shall not feed the wild flocks? And has he made thee for nothing? Why, man, the nettle in the corner of the churchyard has its uses, and the spider on the wall serves her Maker; and you, a man in the image of God, a blood-bought man, a man who is in the path and track to heaven, a man regenerated, twice created, are you made for nothing at all but to buy and to sell, to eat and to drink, to wake and to sleep, to laugh and to weep, to live to yourself?

For meditation: The Christian—chosen to do (John 15:16), created to do (Ephesians 2:10), commanded to do (1 Corinthians 10:31), continue to do (Galatians 6:9,10). What?

Sermon no. 346

19 November (Preached 18 November 1860)

John MacArthur – Living a Satisfied Life

John MacArthur

“All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. “And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them” (Heb. 11:13-16).

Resting in God’s promises brings true satisfaction.

I remember watching in horror and disgust as angry mobs swept through Los Angeles, killing people and setting thousands of buildings on fire. Under the cover of chaos, countless people ransacked and looted every store in sight. I saw entire families—moms, dads, and little children—loading their cars and trucks with anything they could steal.

That was the most graphic demonstration of lawlessness I’ve ever seen. It was as if they were saying, “I’m not satisfied with the way life’s treating me, so I’m entitled to grab everything I can—no matter who gets hurt in the process.”

Perhaps we don’t realize how selfish and restless the human heart can be until the restraints of law and order are lifted and people can do whatever they want without apparent consequences. Then suddenly the results of our godless “me first” society are seen for what they are. Instant gratification at any cost has become the motto of the day.

That’s in stark contrast to people of faith like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who trusted in God even when their circumstances were less than they might have expected. God promised them a magnificent land but they never possessed it. They were, in fact, strangers and refugees in their own land. But that didn’t bother them because they looked forward to a better place—a heavenly city.

Their faith pleased God and He was not ashamed to be called their God. What a wonderful testimonial! I pray that’s true of you. Don’t let earthbound hopes and dreams make you dissatisfied. Trust in God’s promises and set your sights on your heavenly home.

Suggestions for Prayer; Thank God for the blessing of a satisfied heart.

For Further Study; Memorize Psalm 27:4.

Joyce Meyer – Do It Joy fully

Joyce meyer

But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge]. . . . If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. —Galatians 5:22, 25

It has become a game with me to try to beat the joy-sucker of dread at his own game. I want to prove to the devil that I can enjoy everything I do and that his tactics to steal my joy just won’t work anymore. Greater is He that is in me than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). I believe it glorifies God when we refuse to live in fear, worry, dread, or any other relatives of theirs.

When I find myself in a situation I would rather not be in, whether it is waiting or doing an unpleasant task, I make a decision that I will do it joyfully and not dread it, and then I exercise self-control. I use those faith muscles that God has given to me as well as to every person on the planet. If we allow fear in our lives, it breeds more fear, but if we practice walking in faith, it becomes easier to do it again and again.

Lord, thank You for giving me everything I need to walk in faith and overcome what the enemy throws at me. I will live joyfully because You walk with me. Amen.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Like a Sweet Perfume

dr_bright

“But thanks be to God! For through what Christ has done, He has triumphed over us so that now wherever we go He uses us to tell others about the Lord and to spread the Gospel like a sweet perfume” (2 Corinthians 2:14).

We can certainly learn a lesson from the apostle Paul. He frequently begins a chapter or a verse with a note of praise. To say that he had a thankful spirit would be understating the case. That perhaps is the key to victory in every area of our lives, to begin with thanksgiving.

It is God who leads us to triumph over principalities and powers. And in leading us to triumph, He is then able to use us to tell others of His love and forgiveness through the Lord Jesus. As we rest in His victory and in His command, with its promise of “Lo, I am with you always,” we spread the gospel like a sweet perfume.

In your own home and in your own neighborhood, perhaps, are those who need the sweet perfume of the gospel, that heavenly aroma that comes first from God, then through us as His servants, and finally in the message itself: the good news of sins forgiven and a heavenly home assured.

Around the world, literally, I personally have seen multitudes of men and women, old and young, become new creatures in Christ. The aroma indeed is one of sweet perfume, for tangled lives have become untangled to the glory of God, and joy abounds in hearts and lives where only sadness and despair had been known.

Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 2:14-17

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: “Dear Lord, help me to bear a heavenly aroma as I share the sweet perfume of the gospel with others.”

Presidential Prayer Team; C.H. – Whale of a Tale

ppt_seal01

“I wonder how it felt to wake up in the belly of a whale,” go the lyrics of an old Bill and Gloria Gaither song about Jonah, a popular children’s Bible story and relatable character.

What I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!

Jonah 2:9

Jonah walked with the Lord, but when the Creator asked Jonah to go to Nineveh, the prophet declined. He knew the Ninevites would repent and ask God for mercy, but Jonah didn’t think they deserved it. From the belly of a great fish who swallowed him, the pouting prophet changed his mind and agreed to bring the Lord’s message wherever God sent him.

Ever have the same attitude about the lost in America thinking they don’t deserve grace? But grace is just that – a gift you don’t deserve. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8) Thank God for the lessons in Jonah’s story, and ask Him to open your heart to those who aren’t aware of Christ’s love. Pray especially for any of your nation’s leaders who don’t know Him.

Recommended Reading: Jonah 2:1-10

Greg Laurie – Hearing His Voice

greglaurie

To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. —John 10:3

As you get to know your Shepherd, you will come to realize that when He calls you, it is always worth obeying. When He says something, it is for your benefit. If He says, “Go this way,” it’s because He has green pastures and still waters for you. If He says, “Stop! Don’t do that,” it’s because He is trying to protect you from potential danger, possibly something that is even life-threatening.

The fact that God speaks to us is clear throughout the pages of Scripture. To some, like Moses, God spoke audibly. To others, like the prophet Elijah, He spoke quietly on at least one occasion.

Often we look for the big events, the earth-shaking circumstances in which God speaks. And many times He is speaking to us, but it is in a still, small voice. We should try turning off the television, the radio, and the telephone and just listen. With all the noise in our world, with all the information that bombards us, we can hear all those voices but miss the most important voice of all. Maybe one reason we don’t hear Him is because we never stop and listen. We should heed the words of Psalm 46:10, which says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Once we have heard the voice of God, we need to follow. Jesus said, “The sheep follow him, for they know his voice” (John 10:4). The word follow means to deliberately decide to comply with instruction. It is a deliberate choice for sheep to follow the shepherd. We need to deliberately decide to follow our Shepherd, to do what He tells us to do.

When God Almighty speaks to you in that still, small voice, will you listen? Will you follow Him?

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

Max Lucado – A Guilt-Free You

Max Lucado

If you are in Christ, your sin is gone. It was last seen on the back of your Sin Bearer as he headed out to Death Valley. When Jesus cried on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”—he entered the wilderness on your behalf. He carried your sin away.

Open yourself to the idea of a guilt-free you. This may be difficult. You have dragged around your past for so long you can’t imagine yourself with it. Jesus sees a revision of your script. Give God your guilt! Pray this simple “pocket prayer.”

“Father you are good. I need help. Forgive me. Place your guilt on the back of your Sin Bearer!

Before amen—comes the power of a simple prayer! My challenge to you? Every day for 4 weeks, pray 4 minutes—a simple prayer. Join me at BeforeAmen.com—it’ll change your life forever!