Charles Stanley – Changing Our Focus

Charles Stanley

John 15:18-21

There is nothing that can touch a believer’s life unless it comes through the permissive will of God. That means He has complete control, even when it feels as if Satan has been allowed to run rampant through our personal life.

Trapped in Roman confinement, Paul knew that God could rescue him; after all, He had removed Peter’s chains (Acts 12:7). But Paul was not simply waiting around for liberation. Because he believed God did everything for a reason, he earnestly continued doing kingdom work—even while bound in chains.

Indeed, the Lord has a purpose for whatever He brings into a person’s life. Though we may desperately wish for our circumstances to change, God will allow us to go through a given situation when it will ultimately bring about the most favorable result. If we let Him complete the work instead of trying to extricate ourselves, we will see a positive outcome.

Paul’s time in prison proved a benefit for the gospel, though logically, the spread of the Word should have been severely hindered by the confinement of such a great preacher. In two years he had been guarded by many of the elite praetorian soldiers (Phil. 1:13), and we know what Paul would have talked to them about during their shifts—Christ!

There are no verses in the Bible that say believers are promised an easy life. In fact, the Word warns the opposite and says we will see trouble (John 16:33). But we, like Paul, can choose to live above our circumstances by realizing that God has a plan to use our experiences for our good and the benefit of others.

Our Daily Bread — Happy Ending

 

Our Daily BreadRevelation 21:1-7

I saw a new heaven and a new earth. —Revelation 21:1

In its “plot,” the story of the Bible ends up very much where it began. The broken relationship between God and human beings has healed over at last, and the curse of Genesis 3 is lifted. Borrowing images from Eden, Revelation pictures a river and a tree of life (Rev. 22:1-2). But this time a great city replaces the garden setting—a city filled with worshipers of God. No death or sadness will ever darken that scene. When we awake in the new heaven and new earth, we will have at last a happy ending.

Heaven is not an afterthought or an optional belief. It is the final justification of all creation. The Bible never belittles human tragedy and disappointment—is any book more painfully honest?—but it does add one key word: temporary. What we feel now, we will not always feel. The time for re-creation will come.

For people who feel trapped in pain or in a broken home, in economic misery or in fear—for all of us—heaven promises a timeless future of health and wholeness and pleasure and peace. The Bible begins with the promise of a Redeemer in the book of Genesis (3:15) and ends with that same promise (Rev. 21:1-7)—a guarantee of future reality. The end will be the beginning. —Philip Yancey

Beyond earth’s sorrows, the joys of heaven;

Eternal blessings with Christ my Lord;

Earth’s weeping ended, earth’s trials over,

Sweet rest in Jesus, O blest reward! —Gilmore

The gains of heaven will more than compensate us for the losses of earth.

Bible in a year: Ezekiel 35-36; 2 Peter 1

Insight

The reality of a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21:1) is not a New Testament idea that begins with or is exclusive to the apostle John. Peter also spoke of this new heaven and earth as a world filled with God’s righteousness (2 Peter 3:13). And the Old Testament prophet Isaiah described the “new heavens and a new earth” (Isa. 65:17-25; 66:22) 700 years before the birth of Christ.

 

 

Alistair Begg – A Holy Anointing

Alistair Begg

Spices for the anointing oil. Exodus 35:8

Much use was made of this anointing oil under the law, and that which it represents is of primary importance under the Gospel. The Holy Spirit, who anoints us for all holy service, is indispensable to us if we would serve the Lord acceptably. Without His help our religious services are just an empty show, and our inward experience is a dead thing. Whenever our ministry is without unction, what miserable stuff it becomes! And the prayers, praises, meditations, and efforts of private Christians are no better.

A holy anointing is the soul and life of godly devotion, its absence the most serious of all calamities. To go before the Lord without anointing would be like a common Levite thrusting himself into the priest’s role—his religious services would be sins, not sacrifices. May we never embark upon holy tasks without sacred anointings. They fall upon us from our glorious Head; from His anointing we who are but the skirts of His garments receive a generous unction. Choice spices were mixed with great skill and care to form the anointing oil, to let us see how rich are all the influences of the Holy Spirit.

All good things are found in the divine Comforter. Matchless consolation, infallible instruction, immortal quickening, spiritual energy, and divine sanctification are all mixed with other excellencies in the heavenly anointing oil of the Holy Spirit. It imparts a delightful fragrance to the character and person of the one upon whom it is poured. Nothing like it can be found in all the treasures of the wealthy or the secrets of the wise. It is not to be imitated. It only comes from God, and it is freely given, through Jesus Christ, to every waiting soul. Let us seek it, for we may have it, even this very evening. O Lord, anoint Your servants.

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The family reading plan for November 29, 2014 * Micah 4 * Luke 13

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

Charles Spurgeon – The warning neglected

CharlesSpurgeon

“He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him.” Ezekiel 33:5

Suggested Further Reading: Haggai 1:1-6

Men have got time. It is the want of will, not want of way. You have time, sir, have you not, despite all your business, to spend in pleasure? You have time to read your newspaper—have you not time to read your Bible? You have time to sing a song—have you no time to pray a prayer? Why, you know when farmer Brown met farmer Smith in the market one day, he said to him, “Farmer Smith, I can’t think how it is you find time for hunting. Why, man, what with sowing and mowing and reaping and ploughing, and all that, my time is so fully occupied on my farm, that I have no time for hunting.” “Ah,” said he, “Brown, if you liked hunting as much as I do, if you could not find time, you’d make it.” And so it is with religion, the reason why men cannot find time for it is, because they do not like it well enough. If they liked it, they would find time. And besides, what time does it want? What time does it require? Can I not pray to God over my ledger? Can I not snatch a text at my breakfast, and think over it all day? May I not even when I am busy in the affairs of the world, be thinking of my soul, and casting myself upon a Redeemer’s blood and atonement? It wants no time. There may be some time required; some time for my private devotions, and for communion with Christ, but when I grow in grace, I shall think it right to have more and more time, the more I can possibly get, the happier I shall be, and I shall never make the excuse that I have not time.

For meditation: How much time do you make to spend alone with God each day? What do you do with him for the rest of the day? (Colossians 3:23).

Sermon no. 165

29 November (1857)

 

John MacArthur – Conquering in Conflict

John MacArthur

“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been encircled for seven days” (Heb. 11:30).

Faith is the key to spiritual conquest.

Forty years had lapsed since the Israelites refused to enter the Promised Land. That unbelieving generation had perished in the wilderness. Now Joshua was leading a new generation into the land. The first obstacle they faced was Jericho—a well- fortified city that was near the mouth of the Jordan River.

Some city walls of that day were wide enough at the top to allow two chariots to ride side-by-side. That was probably true of Jericho because of its strategic location. That, coupled with the caliber of its army, made the city virtually impregnable— especially to unsophisticated Israelites, who lacked military training.

But what is impossible for man is easy for God. And the stage was set for Him to demonstrate His power and for the Israelites to demonstrate their faith and humility.

One can only imagine how embarrassed the Hebrew people felt as they marched around Jericho once a day for six days. That certainly is not your typical military strategy. But on the seventh day, after marching around the city seven times with the priests blowing their rams’ horns, the priests gave one final blast, the people all shouted out loud, and the walls of the city collapsed (Josh. 6:20). Faith had reduced a formidable obstacle to a crumbled ruin.

Can you identify some spiritual obstacles you’ve faced recently? How did you handle them? You’ll always have them to deal with in your Christian walk, but don’t fret. See them as opportunities to exercise faith and see God’s power on display in your life. Continue to trust the Lord and demonstrate your faith by courageously doing what He has called you to do.

Suggestions for Prayer; Ask God to help you humbly trust in God’s power when you face spiritual conflicts.

For Further Study; Read about the conquest of Jericho in Joshua 6:1-21. Note each occasion where the people obeyed one of Joshua’s commands without hesitation.

Joyce Meyer – Here’s the Verdict

Joyce meyer

Therefore, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit. —Romans 8:1

Most believers know we need to ask forgiveness right away when we sin. We also know God forgives us, but we often continue to feel guilty.

Let me state clearly: Jesus has already paid for everything you will ever do wrong. You do not need to add your misery to His sacrifice. When you do something wrong, if you repent sincerely, then in that instant, God forgives it and forgets it—completely. Claim your forgiveness, for¬get your sins, and go on and enjoy your life.

Guilt tormented me for many years. If I didn’t feel wrong, I didn’t feel right! But the good news of the Gospel is that sin no longer has any power over us. We do not have to bear the guilt of our sins.

Today’s scripture makes it clear that you don’t have to live under condemnation. God wants to forgive your sin; to cleanse you from everything you have ever done wrong; He wants to remove the burden you carry. This is why Jesus died.

Every time you do something wrong, repent quickly and ask God to forgive you. When the devil tries to make you feel guilty, open your mouth and shout: ” I am forgiven! God loves me, and I will not live under this burden of guilt!” Don’t let something God has forgotten about waste your time, rob your peace, and steal your joy.

Love Yourself Today: Agree with God that you are forgiven, and extend forgiveness to yourself.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Just as He Promised

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“God, who called you to become His child, will do all this for you, just as He promised” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

Have you ever substituted your own name in a promise like that? I have, and the result is staggering, overwhelming. “God, who called Bill Bright to become His child, will do all this for me, just as He promised.”

Include your name in the verse, and the effect will be the same for you. It is incredible that before the very foundation of the world God chose and called you and me to become His children. His foreknowledge makes possible many of the mysteries we puzzle over today.

Your sanctification (setting apart) – and mine – depends upon God, and since He has begun a good work in us, He will see it through to completion. God requires holiness (another word for sanctification) and He is the resource upon whom we may call for accomplishment of that requirement.

While it is true we will never be completely and totally holy in this life, it is equally true that provision is made for us to be holy. Every moment that you and I are under the control of God’s Holy Spirit, is a moment that we are holy! Looked at in that light, the task of acquiring holiness does not seem so impossible to attain.

The principle is clear: God never gives a command without the enablement to obey it.

Bible Reading: 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will see myself as a child of God, the beneficiary of His multitudinous blessings, capable of living a supernatural life and bearing fruit for His glory through His enablement

 

Presidential Prayer Team; G.C. – The Stump

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A withered tree stump; no lovely arching branches or majestic trunk, just old and ugly – could it possibly be good for anything but the fire? Isaiah 10 talks about how God chops down the arrogant like one felling tall trees. The actual people being addressed are the decedents of Israel. They had forgotten God and become disobedient. Great foreign armies came and enslaved them. It was a dark time.

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.

Isaiah 11:1

Then Isaiah 11 tells of a shoot coming up from a old stump…and there is not just a hint of life in the new sprout, there is an abundance of it. It will become the source of life for all! Isaiah is using the analogy of the tree stump to foretell that God will still bring the Messiah through Israel’s descendants. When Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross, He not only paid the price for all people’s disobedience towards God, He released believers from the heritage of sin.

Give thanks today for the amazing gift of your Savior’s sacrifice. Pray that many across America will believe and convey a heritage of abundant life to every dry and dark place in the land.

Recommended Reading: Isaiah 10:33-11:5

Greg Laurie – Life During Life       

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I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. —John 10:10

An interest in life on Mars seems to run in cycles. At this writing, our nation has a new exploration robot prowling around and digging little holes in the dirt near the Martian north pole.

A few years ago, I was even interviewed for an article about life on other planets. I said, “I don’t see anything in the Bible that would indicate there is life on other planets, but if there is, God created it.” They closed the article with another of my statements: “Maybe we shouldn’t be so worried about life on other planets and ask ourselves the question, ‘Is there life on Earth, and are we living it the way God wants us to?’ ”

We often wonder whether there is life after death. But is there life during life? That is a question we all should consider.

When I was seventeen, that was my question. I wasn’t so concerned with what happened beyond the grave at that age because I thought I would live a long, long time. My primary concern at that time was, “What’s life all about? What’s the purpose of life?” I knew in my heart there had to be more than what I’d experienced to that point. I was desperately searching for some kind of meaning in life. I just had to know.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to look very far because there was a group of very outspoken Christians on my high school campus. They practiced what they preached, and I was intrigued by them. So I began to watch them. I saw that they were experiencing a dimension of life that I had never known. Not long after that, I gave my life to Jesus and discovered the truth of Jesus’ great statement from John 10:10: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” That’s what I had been searching for: life during life.

Ask the Lord to point you toward someone today who may be searching for that very thing.

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