Charles Stanley – The Believer’s War Cry

Charles Stanley

Ephesians 6:10-14

The greater our impact for God’s kingdom, the harder Satan works to stir up frustration, doubt, and anxiety. The apostle Paul wrote a letter to the Ephesian believers, warning them that the devil would scheme against a successful Christian life.

Satan loathes those who please the Lord with their lifestyle, and he rallies the “spiritual forces of wickedness” to attack believers in mind, body, and spirit (Eph. 6:12). His primary goal is to divert our attention from the Lord so that our relationship with Him suffers and our witness is weakened or ruined. The devil cannot snatch our eternal spirit from God’s hand (John 10:29), but he will settle for leading us to make a mess of this present life.

Paul counseled the saints to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (Eph. 6:10). Fending off a satanic attack isn’t done in our own strength. The adversary is stronger and smarter than even the most intelligent men and women. But God continually empowers us through the Holy Spirit, who is far greater than Satan and his deceitful ways (1 John 4:4).

Believers have God’s strength and His order to stand firm. That means we are to trust the Lord and wait patiently for Him to intervene. We are to be like a soldier on the battlefield, who digs his heels into the ground, puts up his shield, and stands ready for the oncoming enemy. The war is already won—our soul belongs to God—but the battle for our testimony on earth still rages. Take courage, and do not retreat!

Our Daily Bread — Hope In Suffering

Our Daily Bread

1 Peter 1:3-9

In this [living hope] you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials. —1 Peter 1:6

When I opened my Bible to read Jeremiah 1 through 4, the subhead ascribed to the book startled me: “Hope in Time of Weeping.” I almost cried. The timing was perfect, as I was walking through a season of weeping over the death of my mom.

I felt much the same way after hearing my pastor’s sermon the day before. The title was “Joy in Suffering,” taken from 1 Peter 1:3-9. He gave us an illustration from his own life: the one-year anniversary of his father’s death. The sermon was meaningful for many, but for me it was a gift from God. These and other events were indications backed up by His Word that God would not leave me alone in my grief.

Even though the way of sorrow is hard, God sends reminders of His enduring presence. To the Israelites expelled from the Promised Land due to disobedience, God made His presence known by sending prophets like Jeremiah to offer them hope—hope for reconciliation through repentance. And to those He leads through times of testing, He shows His presence through a community of believers who “love one another fervently with a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22). These indications of God’s presence during trials on earth affirm God’s promise of the living hope awaiting us at the resurrection. —Julie Ackerman Link

Does Jesus care when I’ve said goodbye

To the dearest on earth to me,

And my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks,

Is it aught to Him? Does He see? O yes, He cares! —Graeff

We need never be ashamed of our tears. —Dickens

Bible in a year: Ezekiel 22-23; 1 Peter 1

Insight

The apostle Peter wrote his letters to a church that was enduring persecution for their faith. Though the “various trials” they were experiencing (1 Peter 1:6) may not be the same type of trials we must endure, the source of the strength to endure is the same. We are not alone in our trials, and our endurance in them is not due to our inner strength. It is God Himself who strengthens us to endure. We are kept by the power of God (v.5), so that our faith praises, honors, and glorifies Christ (v.7).

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry –   The Blind or the Liars

 

Ravi ZIn Atlanta, the blind are leading the blind, quite literally. In an exhibit that hopes to promote understanding between people with and without eyesight, Dialog in the Dark takes small tour groups through a variety of environments in complete darkness, inviting them to rely on senses they are far less used to trusting. For approximately one hour, visitors are led by visually impaired guides like George Pinon, who has been blind since age 3. Along the way, visitors can ask questions of their visually impaired guide, whose face remains unseen until the end.(1)

Such a scenario challenges every negative connotation associated with this turn of phrase, “the blind leading the blind.” The idiom is, of course, not meant to depict actual visual impairment like Pinon’s, but rather the far more common impairment of insight, knowledge, and vision of reality. Typically, the saying is applied in situations where the person (or people) in charge knows no more than those whom he is leading. The phrase is one used in antiquity, most notably used by Jesus in Matthew 15:14 and Luke 6:39. “Let them alone,” Jesus said of the Pharisees; “they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.”

Like Jesus seems to do of the scribes and Pharisees of his day, the non-religious sometime describe every religious person in such terms. They reason that the anatomy of faith in general promotes a culture of the blind leading the blind. Moreover, Christianity in particular, they argue, is founded on such a blindness. The deluded disciples, blind by their love for Jesus or perhaps simply their need to be right, perpetuated a story that continues to delude the world. In his Letter to a Christian Nation, Sam Harris writes that nonbelievers like himself are thoroughly dumbstruck by the pervasiveness of Christian blindness, by the Christian “denial of tangible reality,” by the suffering these Christians create “in service to religious myths” and their wholehearted “attachment to an imaginary God.”(2)

While blindness to reality is a common accusation among the nonreligious, their accusations typically extend well beyond the charge of blindness. Charles Templeton, for instance, describes the resurrection story as a fable put forward by followers hoping to keep the dream alive. He insists that resurrection is first of all implausible, and that the story must be false because there are no secular histories which mention it. What’s more, he describes the discrepancies within the gospel accounts themselves as evidence of dishonesty or tampering of the storyline. Like many, he ends with the sharp conclusion that though Christians embrace it with blind eyes: “The entire resurrection story is not credible.”(3) In such a scenario, however, it would be far more accurate to accuse Christians of being “the deluded following the liars” than “the blind following the blind.”

In fact, I think most Christians would vigorously agree that the resurrection is indeed unfathomable. In the same way that Mary and Joseph understood that pregnancy among the virginal does not make sense, the resurrection flies in the face of what we know to be true of dead bodies: they do not rise. On this point, no one is blind. If by some way a body did happen to rise, it would have been a miracle unparalleled in history. On these details, I think most Christians and atheists can, in fact, agree!

But the claim that resurrection is implausible cannot be accurately bolstered by the claim that secular histories make no mention of it. Secular writers of the time, including Pliny, Josephus, and the Roman historian Tacitus, in fact affirm the biblical accounts in matters of historic detail. Christ’s life, his reported miracles, his sentence under the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate, his crucifixion, and his reported resurrection are all well documented by the historians of the era. Templeton’s insistence that a miracle of resurrection proportions would have convinced the entire population in a matter of hours is optimistic at best; there are far too many who prefer to watch from afar or to keep their eyes closed entirely.

Further, the oft-mentioned claim of discrepancies in the biblical accounts of the resurrection story cannot be used to logically discount the story itself. First, error must not be confused with imprecision. It makes sense that Paul mentions men as the first witnesses of the risen Christ because in that historical context women (who are named as the first witnesses in other accounts) were not considered valid witnesses. Second, falsity must not be confused with perspective. The minimal differences between the gospel accounts actually assure there was legitimate conveying of perspective going on and not simply a memorized story they needed to keep straight.

Finally, the theory that the story was conjured up by disciples who simply believed what they wanted to believe is not quite plausible. If the disciples had agreed to propagate a story, it serves to follow that they would have known to conceive something far less remarkable, a story that would accommodate the arguments they would undoubtedly face. With even the slightest bit of intelligence, one could see the claim that Jesus had only “spiritually” or “figuratively” risen again could not be proven false by antagonists. Furthermore, when standing up for these falsified claims was a matter of life or death, it seems likely that at least one of them would have buckled; far more likely than an entire group—and many others—being willing to die for a lie. A far cry from “the blind leading the blind,” such a scenario would call for “the liars following the liars.”

On the contrary, the disciples took the dangerous and difficult road—the inconceivable road—and they went to great lengths to proclaim it. Unlike those who might call them “blind” for conceding to the unfathomable, I find it far more difficult to examine the bigger picture and yet refuse to see.

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

(1) Elizabeth Landau, “Being blind, ‘You Have to Be Adventurous,’” http://CNN.com, May 12, 2009, accessed May 12, 2009.

(2) Sam Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007), 91.

(3) Charles Templeton, Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1996), 122.

Alistair Begg – The Danger of a Little Procrastination

Alistair Begg

A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come up you like a robber, and want like an armed man. Proverbs 24:33-34

The worst of sluggards only ask for a little slumber; they would be indignant if they were accused of complete laziness. A little folding of the hands to rest is all they desire, and they have a host of reasons to show that this indulgence is entirely legitimate. Yet by these “littles” the day runs out, and the time for work is all gone, and the field is overgrown with thorns. It is by little procrastinations that men ruin their souls. They do not intend to delay for years—a few months, they say, will bring the more convenient season—tomorrow they will attend to serious things; but the present hour is so occupied and so unsuitable that they beg to be excused.

Like sands from an hourglass, time passes; life is wasted by driblets, and seasons of grace lost by little slumbers. Oh, to be wise, to catch the fleeting hour, to use the passing moments! May the Lord teach us this sacred wisdom, because otherwise a poverty of the worst kind awaits us—eternal poverty that will want even a drop of water and beg for it in vain. Like a robber steadily pursuing his victim, poverty overtakes the lazy, and ruin overthrows the undecided: Each hour brings the dreaded pursuer nearer; he doesn’t pause on the way, for he is on his master’s business and must not delay. As an armed man enters with authority and power, in similar fashion want will come to the idle, and death to the impenitent, and there will be no escape.

O that men would become wise and would diligently seek the Lord Jesus, before the solemn day will dawn when it will be too late to plow and to sow, too late to repent and believe. In harvest, it is useless to lament that the seedtime was neglected. As of now, there is still time for faith and holy decision. May we obtain them tonight.

________________________________________

The family reading plan for November 24, 2014 * Jonah 3 * Luke 8

________________________________________

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

Charles Spurgeon – The character of Christ’s people

CharlesSpurgeon

“They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” John 17:16

Suggested Further Reading: Leviticus 19:35-37

Look at Jesus’ character; how different from every other man’s—pure, perfect, spotless, even such should be the life of the believer. I plead not for the possibility of sinless conduct in Christians, but I must hold that grace makes men to differ, and that God’s people will be very different from other kinds of people. A servant of God will be God’s man everywhere. As a chemist, he could not indulge in any tricks that such men might play with their drugs; as a grocer—if indeed it be not a phantom that such things are done—he could not mix aloe leaves with tea or red lead in the pepper; if he practised any other kind of business, he could not for a moment condescend to the little petty shifts, called “methods of business.” To him it is nothing what is called “business;” it is what is called God’s law, he feels that he is not of the world, consequently, he goes against its fashions and its maxims. A singular story is told of a certain Quaker. One day he was bathing in the Thames, and a waterman called out to him, “Ha! there goes the Quaker.” “How do you know I’m a Quaker?” “Because you swim against the stream; it is the way the Quakers always do.” That is the way Christians always ought to do—to swim against the stream. The Lord’s people should not go along with the rest in their worldliness. Their characters should be visibly different. You should be such men that your fellows can recognise you without any difficulty, and say, “Such a man is a Christian.”

For meditation: When the Christian thinks to himself “But everybody else does it”, he is thinking of denying Christ (Ephesians 4:17,20).

Sermon no. 78

24 November (Preached 22 November 1855)

John MacArthur – Acknowledging God’s Sovereignty

John MacArthur

“By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones” (Heb. 11:22).

God uses your present circumstances to accomplish His future purposes.

Like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Joseph was an heir to the covenant promises of God. His hope was firmly fixed on God, and he knew that some day his people would be at home in the Promised Land.

Although he spent all his adult life in Egypt, never seeing the Promised Land for himself, Joseph’s faith never wavered. At the end of his life, he instructed his brothers to remove his bones from Egypt and bury them in their future homeland (Gen. 50:25). That request was fulfilled in the Exodus (Ex. 13:19).

But Joseph’s faith wasn’t in the promises of future events only, for his life was marked by exceptional trust in God and personal integrity. His understanding of God’s sovereignty was unique among the patriarchs. Even though he suffered greatly at the hands of evildoers (including his own brothers, who sold him into slavery), Joseph recognized God’s hand in every event of his life and submitted to His will.

Joseph said to his brothers, “Do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life . . . and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God” (Gen. 45:5, 7-8). Later, after their father’s death, he reassured them again: “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to . . . preserve many people alive” (Gen. 50:19- 20).

The genius of Joseph’s faith was understanding the role that present circumstances play in fulfilling future promises. He accepted blessing and adversity alike because he knew God would use both to accomplish greater things in the future.

Joseph is the classic Old Testament example of the truth that God works all things together for good to those who love Him (Rom. 8:28). That’s a promise you can rely on too.

Suggestions for Prayer; Reaffirm your trust in God’s sovereign work in your life.

For Further Study; Read of Joseph’s life in Genesis 37-50.

Joyce Meyer – Trust the Unchanging Rock

Joyce meyer

Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is [always] the same, yesterday, today, [yes] and forever.—Hebrews 13:8

Feelings are emotions that are always changing, so you cannot depend on them. As a follower of Christ, you must learn to live by truth and wisdom, not by feelings and emotions.

First Corinthians 10:4 refers to Jesus as the Rock. An important part of His nature is His emotional maturity, which includes unchanging stability. During His time on earth, Jesus did not allow himself to be led around by His emotions. He was led by the Spirit. Even though He was subject to all the same feelings we experience in our daily lives, Jesus was always the same.

And He is still the same . . . and will be forever. You can safely put your trust in Him tonight, knowing He will not change, but will help you develop the same kind of emotional maturity and stability that marked His own life.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Everything Belongs to Us

dr_bright

“Now we are no longer slaves, but God’s own sons. And since we are His sons, everything He has belongs to us, for that is the way God planned” (Galatians 4:7).

In the sense of being under the servitude of sin, you and I are no longer servants or slaves. We are sons, children of God, adopted into His family, and are to be treated as sons.

What a glorious privilege is ours in Christ!

In our exalted position as sons, of course we are to be treated as sons. We are to share God’s favors, His blessings. And as sons, it follows that we have responsibilities – not only to our heavenly Father, but also to other sons (and daughters) in Christ.

All that God has, Paul is saying, belongs to us as well for we are His sons. But there is another side to our exalted position – obedience to the Lord. And His calling is sure: “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.”

If we are following our Lord, we are becoming fishers of men – soul-winners. We are regularly and naturally, as a part of our daily routine, sharing the good news of the gospel with those whose lives we touch.

That does not necessarily mean buttonholing people and making a nuisance of ourselves; it does mean being available for God’s Holy Spirit to speak through us in every conversation as He chooses. It also means being “prayed up,” with no unconfessed sin in our lives.

Bible Reading: Revelation 8

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: With the Power of the Holy Spirit available to me by faith, I will behave like a child of the King – a son of the Most High. I will live a supernatural life for the Glory of God

Presidential Prayer Team; J.R. – Who’s On Your List?

ppt_seal01

America’s founders established a system of government with “checks and balances” so that no individual or branch of government would have too much power. But it has always been an imperfect system. The late Charles Colson, who would become known for his ministry work with prisoners, was once President Richard Nixon’s feared “hatchet man.” Many who criticized Nixon appeared on an “enemies list” which Colson compiled with the idea of having the Internal Revenue Service and other government agencies harass those individuals.

That we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

I Timothy 2:2

Notwithstanding the “dirty tricks” used by Nixon and other presidents, it is every citizen’s right to object, criticize and even protest. But even while doing so, you should pray for those in high positions, whether you agree with them or not. Scripture demands it while also alluding to the practical benefit that often follows – a peaceful and quiet life.

Today, pray with gratitude for your leaders, and remember that your influence will grow as you expand your list of friends, not enemies. Then seek to be a person who is loving and helpful to your neighbors or coworkers, godly and dignified in all you do.

Recommended Reading: Romans 12:14-21

Greg Laurie – Worth Quoting  

greglaurie

The word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. —Hebrews 4:12

I have always felt that when I preach, especially at Harvest Crusades, I should generously quote Scripture because I believe there is authority in the Bible. There isn’t authority in the words of Greg Laurie, unless Greg Laurie is quoting the Bible. My authority comes from God’s Word. So I quote it.

People may not like what I’m saying. It may really bother them. But I have heard story after story of people who made a decision for Christ a week, even a month, after a crusade’s conclusion. I have even heard a few stories of those who were converted in the parking lot following a crusade. A seed was planted. Then it germinated and eventually became fruitful . . . even though it was a little later than we expected. God’s Word won’t return without accomplishing its purpose, so don’t be afraid to quote it.

As young Stephen was about to lose his life, the Devil could have whispered in his ear, “Look at you. You gave up your life up for nothing.” But a little seed had been planted. And unknown to Saul of Tarsus, it was about to bear fruit.

Here were two young men, both standing up for their convictions. One was very religious. One was genuinely spiritual. Stephen was humble, saved by the grace of God. Saul was self-righteous, proud of his works and deeds. Stephen was defending the gospel, while Saul was persecuting it. But Saul ultimately carried out Stephen’s task. He ended up taking his place and carrying the torch that Stephen once did.

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

Max Lucado – A Bucket of Prayer

Max Lucado

Behold the power of prayer! In Revelation 8:5, John saw the prayers of the saints and said, “there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake!” You ask God for help and BAM! Fire falls to the earth. You lift your concerns to heaven, and turbulence happens.

Go ahead. Stand up on behalf of those you love. And yes, stand up on behalf of those you do not. Pray for those who hurt you. The quickest way to douse the fire of anger is with a bucket of prayer. Rather than rant, rave, or seek revenge…pray. Jesus did this. While hanging on the cross, he interceded for his enemies, “Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they are doing.” Even Jesus left his enemies in God’s hands.

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

From Before Amen