Charles Stanley – The Missionary Question

Charles Stanley

Romans 10:1-5

Why are people willing to uproot their lives and learn a new language and culture in order to share the good news of Jesus Christ? For the same reason that those who stay at home should be willing to abandon their comfort zone to tell the gospel story to a neighbor or family member—namely, God’s call. Whether we bear the title of missionary or not, we are unable to live in the Lord’s will unless we’re involved in mission work. This universal call is based upon four truths:

  1. Man’s spiritual condition. People are helplessly and hopelessly lost without Christ. Although most try to manufacture righteousness through good works or a false religion, they inevitably fail.
  2. God’s provision. Knowing man could not save himself, the Father gave His Son in order to pay sin’s penalty. Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. This redemption is available to every man, woman, and child.
  3. Jesus’ commission. All who belong to Jesus are charged with the responsibility of going and making disciples of all nations through the Holy Spirit’s power (Acts 1:8; Matt. 28:19). The Spirit comes, not to ensure our own happiness, but to make us impactful witnesses.
  4. Jesus’ proclamation. The Lord was clear about this: “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14).

Mission work isn’t optional for believers. In Romans 10:14, Paul asks, “How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard?” They won’t unless you tell them.

Our Daily Bread — Dealing With Distractions

Our Daily Bread

Matthew 13:14-22

The cares of this world . . . choke the word. —Matthew 13:22

A restaurant owner in the village of Abu Ghosh, just outside Jerusalem, offered a 50-percent discount for patrons who turned off their cell phones. Jawdat Ibrahim believes that smartphones have shifted the focus of meals from companionship and conversation to surfing, texting, and business calls. “Technology is very good,” Ibrahim says. “But . . . when you are with your family and your friends, you can just wait for half an hour and enjoy the food and enjoy the company.”

How easily we can be distracted by many things, whether in our relationship with others or with the Lord.

Jesus told His followers that spiritual distraction begins with hearts that have grown dull, ears that are hard of hearing, and eyes that are closed (Matt. 13:15). Using the illustration of a farmer scattering seed, Jesus compared the seed that fell among thorns to a person who hears God’s Word but whose heart is focused on other things. “The cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful” (v.22).

There is great value in having times throughout each day when we turn off the distractions of mind and heart and focus on the Lord. —David McCasland

O Lord, help me to turn off all the

distractions around me and focus on You.

May my heart be good soil for the

seed of Your Word today.

Focusing on Christ puts everything else in perspective.

Bible in a year: Ezekiel 16-17; James 3

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Image and Ill-Repute

Ravi Z

While many industries confess to struggling during times of economic downturn, the identity management industry, a trade emerging from the realities of the Internet Age, is one gaining business regardless. As one company notes in its mission statement, they began with the realization that “the line dividing people’s ‘online’ lives from their ‘offline’ personal and professional lives was eroding, and quickly.”(1) While the notion of anonymity or the felt safety of a social network lures users into online disinhibition, reputations are forged in a very public domain. And, as many have discovered, this can come back to haunt them—long after posted pictures are distant memories. In a survey taken in 2006, one in ten hiring managers admitted rejecting candidates because of things they discovered about them on the Internet. With the increasing popularity of social networks, personal video sites, and blogs, today that ratio is now one in two. Hence the need for identity managers—who scour the Internet with an individual’s reputation in mind and scrub websites of image-damaging material—grows almost as quickly as a high-schooler’s Facebook page.

With the boom of the reputation business in mind, I wonder how identity managers might have attempted to deal with the social repute of Jesus. Among officials, politicians, and soldiers, his reputation as a political nightmare and agitator of the people preceded him. Among the religious leaders, his reputation was securely forged by the scandal and outrage of his messianic claims. Beyond these reputations, the most common accusations of his personal depravity had to do with the company he kept, the Sabbath he broke, the food and drink he enjoyed. In two different gospels, Jesus remarks on his reputation as a glutton. “[T]he Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!’”(2) In fact, if you were to remove the accounts of his meals or conversations with members of society’s worst, or his parables that incorporated these untouchables, there would be very little left of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. According to etiquette books and accepted social norms, both from the first century and the twenty-first, the reputation of Jesus leaves much to be desired.

Ironically, the reputation of those Jesus left behind does not resemble his reputation much at all. Writing in 1949 with both humor and lament, Dorothy Sayers describes the differences: “For nineteen and a half centuries, the Christian churches have labored, not without success, to remove this unfortunate impression made by their Lord and Master. They have hustled the Magdalens from the communion table, founded total abstinence societies in the name of him who made the water wine, and added improvements of their own, such as various bans and anathemas upon dancing and theatergoing….[F]eeling that the original commandment ‘thou shalt not work’ was rather half hearted, [they] have added to it a new commandment, ‘thou shalt not play.”(3) Her observations have a ring of both comedy and tragedy. The impression Christians often give the world is that Christianity comes with an oddly restricted understanding of words such as “virtue,” “morality,” “faithfulness,” and “goodness.” Curiously, this reputation is far more similar to the law-abiding religion of which Jesus had nothing nice to say. “Woe to you, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 23:23).

When the apostle Paul described the kind of fruit that will flourish in the life of one who follows Jesus, he was not giving the church a checklist or a rigid code like the religious law from which he himself was freed.(4) He was describing the kinds of reputations that emerge precisely when following this friend of tax-collectors and sinners, the drunkard, the Sabbath-breaker: the vicariously human Son of God. This is no mere niceness, an unfeeling, unthinking social obligation to keep the status quo. Jesus loved the broken, discarded people around him to a social fault. He was patient and kind, joyful and peaceful in ways that made the world completely uncomfortable. He was also radical and intense and unsettling in ways that made the religious leaders and others in power completely uncomfortable. His disruptive qualities of goodness and faithfulness were not badges that made it seem permissible to exclude others for their lack of virtue. His unfathomable love for God and self-control did not lead him to condemn the world around him or to isolate himself in disgust of their immorality; rather, it moved him to walk to his death for the sake of all.

There are no doubt pockets of the world where the reputation of the church lines up with that of its founder and their presence offers the world a disruptive, countercultural gift. The prophets and identity managers of the church today pray for more of this. Until then, in a world deciphering questions of reputation like “What does it mean to be socially reputable?” or “What is the best way to distinguish oneself?” perhaps we might ask instead, “Who was this human Christ?”

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

(1) From the website ReputationDefender.com/company accessed Jan 15, 2009.

(2) Luke 7:34, Matthew 11:19.

(3) Dorothy Sayers, “Christian morality” in The Whimsical Christian (New York: Macmillan, 1987), 151-152.

(4) “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Alistair Begg – Sit at the Table

Alistair Begg

Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at the table. John 12:2

He is to be envied. It was fine to be Martha and serve, but better to be Lazarus and enjoy. There are times for each purpose, and each is fitting in its season, but none of the trees of the garden yield such clusters as the vine of fellowship. To sit with Jesus, to hear His words, to mark His acts and receive His smiles was such a favor as must have made Lazarus as happy as the angels. When it has been our happy privilege to feast with our Beloved in His banqueting hall, we would not have given half a sigh for all the kingdoms of the world, if so much breath could have bought them.

He is to be imitated. It would have been a strange thing if Lazarus had not been at the table where Jesus was, for he had been dead, and Jesus had raised him. For the risen one to be absent when the Lord who gave him life was at his house would have been dreadfully ungrateful. We too were once dead, yes, and like Lazarus bound in the grave of sin. Jesus raised us, and by His life we live. Can we be content to live at a distance from Him? Do we fail to remember Him at His table, where He deigns to feast with His brethren?

This is cruel! It behooves us to repent and do as He has bidden us, for His least wish should be law to us. To have lived without constant fellowship with Jesus, who loved him so dearly, would have been disgraceful to Lazarus. Is it then excusable in us whom Jesus has loved with an everlasting love? To have been cold to Him who wept over his lifeless corpse would have shown a lack of feeling in Lazarus. What does it say of us over whom the Savior has not only wept but bled? Come, brethren, who read this portion; let us return to our heavenly Bridegroom and ask for His Spirit, that we may be on terms of closer intimacy with Him and never miss the opportunity to sit at the table with Him.

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The family reading plan for November 21, 2014 * Obadiah 1 * Luke 5

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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 – Samson conquered

CharlesSpurgeon

“And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him. But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.” Judges 16:20,21

Suggested Further Reading: Colossians 2:1-8

Do any of you wish to be backsliders? Do you wish to betray the holy profession of your religion? My brethren, is there one among you who this day makes a profession of love to Christ, who desires to be an apostate? Is there one of you who desires like Samson to have his eyes put out, and to be made to grind in the mill? Would you, like David, commit a great sin, and go with broken bones to the grave? Would you, like Lot, be drunken, and fall into lust? No, I know what you say, “Lord, let my path be like the eagle’s flight; let me fly upwards to the sun, and never stay and never turn aside. Oh, give me grace that I may serve thee, like Caleb, with a perfect heart, and that from the beginning even to the end of my days, my course may be as the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” I know what is your desire. How, then, shall it be accomplished? Look well to your consecration; see that it is sincere; see that you mean it, and then look up to the Holy Spirit, after you have looked to your consecration, and beg of him to give you daily grace; for as day by day the manna fell, so must you receive daily food from on high. And, remember, it is not by any grace you have in you, but by the grace that is in Christ, and that must be given to you hour by hour, that you are to stand, and having done all, to be crowned at last as a faithful one, who has endured unto the end.

For meditation: The best way to guard against backsliding is not to keep still, but to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:17,18).

Sermon no. 224

21 November (1858)

John MacArthur –Defeating Death

John MacArthur

“By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come. By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones” (Heb. 11:20-22).

Faith triumphs over death.

Commentator Matthew Henry said, “Though the grace of faith is of universal use throughout the Christian’s life, yet it is especially so when we come to die. Faith has its great work to do at the very last, to help believers to finish well, to die to the Lord so as to honor Him, by patience, hope and joy so as to leave a witness behind them of the truth of God’s Word and the excellency of His ways.”

God is honored when His people die triumphantly. When we’ve lived a life to His glory, and joyfully left the world behind to enter into His presence for all eternity, He is pleased, for “precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones” (Ps. 116:15).

Many believers who have dreaded facing death have experienced a special measure of God’s grace that made their final hours the sweetest and most precious of their lives.

Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph are examples of men who faced death with great faith and confidence. Each “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” (Heb. 11:13). They hadn’t seen all God’s promises fulfilled, but by faith they passed them on to their children.

These men didn’t have perfect faith. Joseph was exemplary, but Isaac and Jacob often vacillated in their walk with God. Yet each ended his life triumphantly. That’s the reward of all who trust God and cling to His promises.

Like every believer before you, you haven’t seen the fulfillment of all God’s promises. But certainly you’ve seen far more than Isaac, Jacob, or Joseph did. How much more then should you trust God and encourage those who follow you to do the same?

Suggestions for Prayer; Thank God for His marvelous grace, which triumphs over sin and death.

For Further Study; Read the final words of Jacob and Joseph in Genesis 48:1—49:33 and 50:22-26.

 

 

Joyce Meyer – Freedom From Anxiety

Joyce meyer

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. —Philippians 4:6

I highly recommend speaking the Word of God when a “worry attack” comes upon you. Doing this is what it means to wield the two-edged sword against the enemy (see Hebrews 4:12 and Ephesians 6:17). A sword in its sheath won’t do any good during an attack; God has given us the sword of His Word so we can use it! Learn scriptures like Philippians 4:6, and when the enemy attacks, counter his attack with the same weapon that Jesus used: the Word.

The Word coming from a believer’s mouth, with faith to back it up, is the single most effective weapon that can be used to win the war against worry and anxiety.

Power Thought: I am free from worry and anxiety.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Able to Keep Promises

dr_bright

“He was completely sure that God was well able to do anything He promised” (Romans 4:21).

Occasionally, I hear people say, “Bill Bright is a man of great faith.” The statement is made because our ministry is involved with millions of Christians from many thousands of churches of all denominations and other Christian organizations in gargantuan undertakings – massive worldwide programs of evangelism and discipleship in which we have, by faith, trusted God for the salvation of at least one billion additional souls for Christ and His kingdom.

As a new Christian, I trusted God for one soul, then six, then ten souls; then hundreds, thousands, millions. And now, after more than 35 years of witnessing His mighty, miraculous power and blessing in response to faith, I am praying and believing God for a billion souls for Christ by the year 2000.

These goals are not built on careless presumptions or figures plucked out of the air in some kind of mystical, emotional, spiritual experience, but they are based upon my confidence in the sovereignty, holiness, love, wisdom, power and grace of the omnipotent God whom I serve and upon His gracious blessings on past efforts that have been undertaken for His glory and praise. No credit should be given to me or to the ministry of which I am a part, but only to the one in whom I place my faith.

Faith must have an object, and the object of my faith is God and His inspired Word. The right view of God generates faith. Faith is like a muscle; it grows with exercise. The more we see God accomplish in and through our lives, the more we can be assured that He will accomplish as we trust and obey Him more.

Bible Reading: Romans 4:13-20

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will place my faith in God alone – not in myself or in other men’s efforts or abilities – and I will encourage others to trust God, too

Presidential Prayer Team; G.C. – Hidden in the Quiver

ppt_seal01

There’s a plot to eradicate the Jewish race from Earth. Sound familiar? It’s been going on continually since the beginning of their history.

That these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, in every clan, province, and city.

Esther 9:28

One particular scheme, taking place in 474 BC, was gloriously foiled by a young woman named Esther. She was separated from her parents and raised in a foreign kingdom. Her identity as a Jewess was hidden and, as far as anyone knew, she was just another maiden in waiting for the King. Yet at the critical moment, when God had every player on their mark, Esther’s true identity was revealed. Like an arrow expertly placed, Esther’s work pierced through the heart of the enemy’s evil plan. Jewish people still celebrate the days when God used Esther to save them. Esther’s very appropriate name is taken from the Hebrew root “hester,” meaning “hidden.”

Today you may feel like just another Christ-follower facing a hostile culture, but remember Esther! God has a plan for America and, while you may not see how all the pieces fit together, be assured at the right moment your faithful prayers will hit their target. He has chosen you, and will be glorified through you as your obediently intercede.

Recommended Reading: Isaiah 49:1-7

Greg Laurie – Without Question   

greglaurie

An angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” —Acts 8:26

Philip was used to leading others to Jesus because he was obedient. How easily Philip could have argued with the angel who gave him these instructions from the Lord: “Arise and go toward the south.” But why? Philip had been preaching in the city of Samaria, and revival was breaking out. And now God was sending him alone into the desert?

It helps to know a little about the geography, the lay of the land. The angel was telling him to travel about eighty miles from where he was. If you were to make the trip today, you would hop in your car and be there in a little over an hour. But Philip had to walk. And let me clue you in: eighty miles is quite a hike. It would have taken days for him to reach his destination—with no 7-Elevens or McDonald’s along the way.

Note that the Lord didn’t say, “There are people waiting to hear the gospel.” He simply said, “Go to the desert.”

How easily Philip could have said, “Excuse me, but the apostles and the other believers in Jerusalem are at least thirty miles closer. Couldn’t You call one of them? I’m busy here. I’m not the only Christian around. Couldn’t You call on someone else?” Yet we don’t read of Philip saying anything like that.

Sometimes God will tell us to do things that may not make sense at the moment. But who are we to question the wisdom of God? That is why Philip was a man whom God could call on. Philip recognized that God knew exactly what He was doing.

Do you recognize that too?

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

Max Lucado – We are Ambassadors

Max Lucado

This is the promise of prayer! We can change God’s mind! God’s ultimate will is inflexible, but the implementation of his will is not. He doesn’t change in his character and purpose, but he does alter his strategy because of the appeals of his children. After all, Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:20, “we are ambassadors” for the king. Ambassadors speak with the authority of the throne. If an ambassador sends a request to the king, will the king listen? If you, God’s ambassador in this world, come to your King with a request, will he listen? By all means.

Your sphere of influence is your region. As you grow in faith, your district expands. We plead with God on other people’s behalf.  Before amen—comes the power of a simple prayer. “Father, they need help!”

From Before Amen