Charles Stanley – God’s Guidance for Life’s Storms

Charles Stanley

Isaiah 43:1-3

Storms in our life can make us feel off course and unsure of our direction. The disciples knew they were on the Sea of Galilee, headed for Gennesaret, but in the battering gale, they couldn’t gauge their direction or distance from shore. The storm obscured the guiding lights of the sky and at the same time assaulted their senses. Have you ever felt that way? Let’s think about what the disciples learned that will be able to help us.

Jesus’ Sovereignty. The Lord demonstrated that He was fully in charge of both nature and His followers’ lives. There isn’t a single moment when He has less than absolute control of our storms. That night on the Sea of Galilee, the winds blew just so hard and no harder; the waves rose just so high and no higher. Jesus knows exactly where we are, where we’re headed, and how fierce the storm is. Remember, the One who died in our place because of love is the One who holds the future-—and He also holds us.

Jesus’ Protective Power. Christ’s ability to protect was evident in this tempest. He watched over the disciples in the boat, and He took care of Peter on the water. But don’t miss an essential lesson: Peter was allowed to sink just enough to recognize his own helplessness so that he would turn to the Lord for rescue. It protects us to remember we are absolutely helpless without Jesus and must turn quickly to Him.

Jesus’ sovereignty and protective presence caused the disciples to worship Him as the Son of God. Are your lips bursting with praise?

Our Daily Bread — Losing Our Way

Our Daily Bread

1 Timothy 6:6-10

The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness. —1 Timothy 6:10

An online survey conducted by a New York law firm reveals that 52 percent of Wall Street traders, brokers, investment bankers, and other financial service professionals have either engaged in illegal activity or believe they may need to do so in order to be successful. The survey concludes that these financial leaders “have lost their moral compass” and “accept corporate wrongdoing as a necessary evil.”

In mentoring young Timothy, the apostle Paul warned that the love of money and the desire to get rich had caused some to lose their way. They had yielded to temptations and embraced many “foolish and harmful” desires (1 Tim. 6:9). Paul saw “the love of money” (not money itself) as a source of “all kinds of evil” (v.10), especially the evil of trusting in money rather than depending on Christ.

As we learn to see that Christ is the source of all we have, we will find contentment in Him rather than in material possessions. When we seek godliness rather than riches, we will gain a desire to be faithful with what we have been given.

Let’s deliberately cultivate an attitude of contentment in God, and faithfully submit to Him, for our Provider will care for us. —Marvin Williams

Father, it’s easy to see the problem that others have with

loving money. But I know I have my own struggles too. I

need Your help to learn thankfulness for all that You have

given. Grow in me an attitude of contentment in You.

To love money is to lose sight of the Source of life.

Bible in a year: Ezekiel 42-44; 1 John 1

Insight

In 1 Timothy, Paul gives practical instruction about money. He tells Timothy that the problem is not money itself, but the love of it. Love of money is improper because God is the giver of all our possessions, so they don’t really belong to us. Godliness with contentment is true wealth (v.6).

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Courage to Wait

Ravi Z

In the world of quirky factoids and interesting anecdotes, I have often heard that if one lives to be seventy years old, one will have spent three years of life just waiting. Waiting in line at the grocery store; waiting in the doctor’s office; waiting in traffic; waiting for lunch to be ready; waiting for recess time at school; waiting. In his book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go, children’s author Theodor Geisel, or “Dr. Seuss,” describes a place called “the waiting place.” It sounds like the place most of us inhabit. He describes it as a useless place where people are just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go

or a bus to come, or a plane to go

or the mail to come, or the rain to go

or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow

or waiting around for a Yes or No

or waiting for their hair to grow.

Everyone is just waiting.

Sometimes waiting feels useless and futile. We are waiting around for what, exactly? Waiting is an in-between space difficult to inhabit. Patience is tried; restlessness is a constant companion, or a listlessness that comes from the tedium of waiting. Of course, the ability to wait patiently is something we admire in others, but find difficult for ourselves. Patience is something I can admire in the driver behind me, for example, but not in the one ahead of me!

Waiting is counterintuitive in our busy, fast-paced world. When our daily lives are made up of high speed Internet, instant messaging, and fast food, waiting for anything seems like an eternity. Moreover, in a world where so much beckons to us, waiting asks us to be still and this can feel meaningless. The English poet John Milton once wrote that those who serve, stand and wait. Indeed, waiting asks us to be disciplined, self-controlled, and emotionally mature as the world speeds by us. Waiting requires an unshakeable faith, hope, and love that will trump all the action done for the sake of expediency. Waiting is often a good, hard work.

Waiting also comprises a large part of the Christian worldview. But it is not the useless waiting of “the waiting place” that Dr. Seuss writes about, nor is it simply waiting for certain things or events, a trip or a raise, or even fulfillment. Christians await the return of Jesus in glory.

The season of Advent that precedes Christmas is a season of hope-filled, lament-filled, expectant waiting. Advent looks forward in anticipation of Christ’s return, but also remembers all those who awaited his arrival into our world more than 2,000 years ago. Advent is a season of stillness and reflection, and honest longing in the dark, and as such, it is the antithesis of all the busyness and chaos and boxed happiness of the Christmas shopping season.

The consumer mentality overwhelms and demands a fever pitch of activity. Sadly, any waiting one might do is more likely waiting for Christmas to be over. And rather than being filled with hope and joy, we wait in a state of anxiety, or cynicism, or harried indifference toward the miracle that is upon us. In all of our busyness, we miss the gift of waiting with expectation and longing.

Yet, the Advent season extends an invitation to do just this: to watch and wait for the coming of the King, to wait for the Christ who comes in new ways into the very messy stuff of our lives—not just one season a year. But we cannot hope to catch a glimpse of him without the hard waiting for him to show up.

Of course, there are those who feel they have been waiting far too long for God to show up in the messy details of their lives. Giving up on waiting seems to hold the promise of rest, as the work of waiting for God to act is wearisome. Just as there were those in the early days of the Christian movement who began to ask with lament “Where is the promise of his coming?” and those who mocked the divine silence as inactivity, it is not difficult to understand how those who wait for answers—for an end to suffering, for reconciliation, for transformation—are tempted towards cynical despair.

Is there hope in remembering that Advent invites us to wait for the God who does show up? Can encouragement be found in the celebration of Christmas, a celebration proclaiming that God has come and that God will come again in the waiting of today? Is there reason to watch and wait for a God who arrives in ways we could not expect? As a helpless baby born in the dregs of a stable?

Advent invites the world to wait, and that waiting requires great courage. The very act of waiting opens eyes, hands, and hearts to receive this most precious gift.

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

Alistair Begg – Nothing Can Satisfy

Alistair Begg

Behold, all is vanity.   Ecclesiastes 1:14

Nothing can satisfy the entire man but the Lord’s love and the Lord’s own self. Some have tried to anchor in other harbors, but they have been driven out of such fatal refuges. Solomon, the wisest of men, was permitted to make experiments for us all, and to do for us what we should not attempt ourselves. Here is his testimony in his own words: “So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil.

Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.”1 “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”2 What! The whole of it vanity? Is there nothing in all the wealth of kings? Nothing in that vast territory reaching from the river to the sea? Nothing in those glorious palaces? Nothing in the riches of the forests of Lebanon? In all your music and dancing and wine and luxury is there nothing? “Nothing,” he says, “but sorrow, and his work is a vexation.” This was his verdict when he had experimented on the paths of apparent pleasure. To embrace the Lord Jesus, to rest in His love and be fully assured of union with Him—this is all in all.

Dear reader, you do not need to try these empty paths to find out whether they are better than the Christian’s. If you roam the universe, you will not find another friend like Jesus; if you could have all the comforts of life but lost your Savior, you would be wretched; but if you win Christ, then you could rot in a dungeon and even there find peace. If you live in obscurity or die hungry, you will still be satisfied with favor and will be full of the goodness of the Lord.

1) Ecclesiastes 2:9-11  2) Ecclesiastes 1:2

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The family reading plan for December 2, 2014 * Micah 7 * Luke 16

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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 – Christ our passover

CharlesSpurgeon

“For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.” 1 Corinthians 5:7

Suggested Further Reading: John 6:25-35

Some of you, my friends, who are true Christians, live too much on your changing feelings, on your experiences and evidences. Now, that is all wrong. That is just as if a worshipper had gone to the tabernacle and begun eating one of the coats that were worn by the priest. When a man lives on Christ’s righteousness, it is the same as eating Christ’s dress. When a man lives on his feelings, that is as much as if the child of God should live on some tokens that he received in the sanctuary that were never meant for food, but only to comfort him a little. What the Christian lives on is not Christ’s righteousness, but Christ; he does not live on Christ’s pardon, but on Christ; and on Christ he lives daily, on nearness to Christ. Oh! I do love Christ-preaching. It is not the doctrine of justification that does my heart good, it is Christ, the justifier; it is not pardon that so much makes the Christian’s heart rejoice, it is Christ the pardoner; it is not election that I love half so much as my being chosen in Christ before the worlds began; it is not final perseverance that I love so much as the thought that in Christ my life is hid, and that since he gives unto his sheep eternal life, they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of his hand. Take care, Christian, to eat the Paschal Lamb and nothing else. I tell thee man, if thou eatest that alone, it will be like bread to thee—thy soul’s best food. If thou livest on anything else but the Saviour, thou art like one who seeks to live on some weed that grows in the desert, instead of eating the manna that comes down from heaven. Jesus is the manna.

For meditation: This communion sermon reminds us that if we sideline Christ in our Christianity, we are left with little more than an inanity—the best of what remains, even the Lord’s Supper or the doctrines of grace, will be empty if in them we fail to “remember Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:8).

Sermon no. 54

2 December (1855)

John MacArthur – Jesus: Our Great High Priest

John MacArthur

“The point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Heb. 8:1).

Since Jesus serves as our High Priest, we have access to God.

Access to God was always a problem for the Jewish people. Exodus 33:20 declares that no man can see God and live. Once each year, on the great Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the Jewish high priest entered into the Holy of Holies, where God’s presence dwelt in a unique sense, to approach God on behalf of the people.

God’s covenant with Israel was the basis for their communion with Him. And the sacrificial system that accompanied the Old Covenant gave the people an outward act to represent their inner repentance. But their sacrifices were incessant because their sin was incessant. They needed a perfect priest and sacrifice to provide access to God permanently. That’s exactly what Jesus was and did.

Hebrews 10 says that Jesus offered His body as a sacrifice for mankind’s sins once for all, then sat down at the right hand of the Father (vv. 10, 12). That was a revolutionary concept to Jewish thinking. A priest on duty could never sit down because his work was never done. But Jesus introduced a new and wonderful element into the sacrificial system: one sacrifice, offered once, sufficient for all time. That was the basis of the New Covenant.

Our Lord’s priesthood is permanent and perpetual: “Because He abides forever, [He] holds His priesthood permanently. Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:24-25). That’s the central message of the book of Hebrews.

It wasn’t easy for the Jewish people to accept the need for a new covenant. Most rejected Christ outright. Similarly, many people today reject His priesthood, supposing they can gain access to God on their own terms. But they’re tragically mistaken. Jesus Himself said, “No one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6).

Suggestion for Prayer; Praise God for receiving you into His presence through His Son, Jesus Christ.

For Further Study; Read Hebrews 10:19-25, noting how God wants you to respond to Christ’s priesthood.

Joyce Meyer – Wait for God’s Justice

Joyce meyer

Knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [and not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [real] reward. [The One Whom] you are actually serving [is] the Lord Christ (the Messiah). —Colossians 3:24

God has brought a great reward in my life in recompense for the abuse that I suf-fered in my earlier days. Now I have a wonderful life. God blesses me. He does things for me. He opens doors of opportunity for me. He makes me happy. He gives me joy.

When you really trust God, He will bring justice into your life. In Isaiah 61:7 the Lord says, “For your former shame I will give you a double reward” (par¬aphrased). If someone has mistreated you, rejected you, abused you, or abandoned you, hold on to that promise. You have many blessings ahead of you. Trust God with your future, and enjoy your day as you wait for God’s justice.

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Gives Richly

dr_bright

“Tell those who are rich not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone, but their pride and trust should be in the living God who always richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17).

Arthur S. DeMoss was a gifted and godly businessman. He had built one of the most successful businesses of its kind in America and in the process had amassed a huge fortune of an estimated half a billion dollars. Then suddenly an economic recession began and stock in his company plummeted. He lost $360 million in a period of only four months – an average of $3 million a day – more than anybody had ever lost in such a short time. One would have thought he would have been devastated. Instead, in order to avoid decreasing his Christian giving, he (personally) borrowed funds, at an incredibly high rate of interest, to enable him to increase his giving. As we talked together during that period, he was rejoicing in the Lord.

“The Lord gave me everything I have,” he said. “It all belongs to Him and if He wants to take it away that’s His business. I don’t lose any sleep. I still have a wonderful family and my life-style remains unchanged. I am prepared to do anything that God wants me to do. If He takes away everything I own and wants me to go to the mission field, I’m ready to do it. All He needs to do is tell me.”

Art had his trust completely in the Lord and not in his vast fortune. God honored his faith and obedience and ultimately restored all that he had lost and much more. Art has gone to be with the Lord, but his fortune is still being used for the glory of God.

Paul’s answer to the believers of his day is just as appropriate to the believers of our time. No person should be unduly impressed with his wealth and look down with pride and arrogance on those whom he considers to be inferior. Riches are uncertain because they can be taken away from us. In the personal emergencies of life one cannot depend upon material possessions for strength and comfort. In times of tragedy – the loss of a loved one, a financial reversal, or some other disappointment – material possessions do not insure peace. Our trust must be in the living God who is able to supply all of our needs and do for us what riches cannot do.

Bible Reading: 1 Timothy 6:6-16

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:> I will not take the blessing of God for granted and will not place my trust in any earthy possession. My confidence will be in Him who is the source of the supernatural life.

Presidential Prayer Team; J.R. – Presidential Pass Over

ppt_seal01

Some speeches are better than others. One U.S. president gave a speech that was considered so pathetic by members of the press that they didn’t even bother to report what was said. “We pass over the silly remarks of the President,” wrote the reporter for a Pennsylvania newspaper. “For the credit of the nation we are willing that the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them, and they shall be no more repeated or thought of.”

And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

Mark 13:13

The president who was the subject of this attack was named Abraham Lincoln. The speech in question was the Gettysburg Address. Though revered as perhaps our greatest leader, it’s easy to forget that Lincoln was despised by many in his day.

Popularity is not important. Perseverance is. Your biblical beliefs are sure to draw opposition and scorn…maybe even hatred. Jesus knows all about that, and He will make things right in His time. For now, continue in God’s will and endure. As you pray for your senators and representatives today, ask the Lord to give them the courage and conviction to choose godly principle over popularity, lest a “veil of oblivion” descend upon America.

Recommended Reading: Romans 5:1-11

Greg Laurie – When God Cried  

greglaurie

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. —John 11:33

At the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus surveyed the scene. Mary, Martha, and the others were all weeping and mourning. And Jesus wept. Tears rolled down His cheeks.

Jesus wept tears of sympathy for Mary and Martha and for all of the sorrow caused by sin and death through all the long centuries of human existence. The Bible says that He was “a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). When you have lost someone you love, He knows and understands the pain and hurt deep inside your soul. Maybe other people never will completely understand, but Jesus has wept with you.

His tears also were tears of sorrow for Lazarus. Those tears were for one who had known the bliss of heaven and now would have to return to a wicked earth where he would have to die all over again.

Jesus also wept tears for the unbelief of the people: “Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled” (John 11:33). Jesus was troubled. And He was angry.

The ravages of sin in the world He had created stirred deep emotions in His heart. His wonderful, original plan, His perfect creation, had been deeply marred by sin. Death was a part of the curse, and it angered Jesus to see the devastating effect sin had on humanity.

Some may wonder, Well, why doesn’t He do something about it? He has. He went to the cross of Calvary and died for our sins so that death doesn’t have to be the end. There is life beyond the grave for the Christian. There is something beyond . . . something we can look forward to.

And it’s all because He laid down His life to rescue us.

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

Max Lucado – Why Would He Come?

Max Lucado

The God of the Universe was born into the poverty of a peasant and spent his first night in the cow’s feed trough. He left the glory of heaven and moved into our neighborhood. Who would have imagined he would do such a thing?

What a world he left. Our classiest mansion would be a tree trunk to him. God became a one-celled embryo and entered the womb of Mary. He became like us. Just look at the places he was willing to go: feed troughs, carpentry shops, badlands, and cemeteries.

The places he went to reach us show how far he will go to touch us. He loves to be with the ones he loves!

From In the Manger