Charles Stanley – Accepting Our Inheritance

 

Ephesians 1:11-22

The word inheritance usually brings to mind the money and real estate handed down from one generation to another. But God has an even greater legacy to share with His children—one that they are given the moment they enter His family.

Galatians 4:7 tells us that believers are God’s heirs. First among our priceless treasures is a living hope in Jesus Christ that cannot be taken away (1 Peter 1:3-4). What’s more, He pledged to supply our needs according to His riches (Phil. 4:19). In other words, we already have all that we need for an abundant and victorious life.

However, some folks get stuck in spiritual poverty because they refuse to view themselves as adopted children. Failing to tap into their inheritance, they wander through this big angry world, hoping to hold on to their meager scrap of faith until they’re lucky enough to die and go to heaven. If we live like this, of course we miss the blessings available in this life, because we’re not looking for them.

How differently people see themselves when they look through the eyes of Jesus. Christians who live like the beloved, empowered heirs that they are will lavishly spend their inheritance of grace to benefit everyone they meet.

God gives all believers the pledge of an inheritance out of the unsurpassed riches of His infinite grace. We are spiritually rich citizens of heaven who have nothing to fear in this world. Choose to live boldly for Christ, and see how abundantly your heavenly Father pours out blessing from the legacy already set aside for you.

Our Daily Bread — Story Stewards

 

Deuteronomy 4:1-9

Take heed . . . lest you forget the things your eyes have seen . . . . And teach them to your children and your grandchildren. —Deuteronomy 4:9

Many people take great care to make sure their resources are used well after they die. They set up trusts, write wills, and establish foundations to guarantee that their assets will continue to be used for a good purpose after their life on earth is done. We call this good stewardship.

Equally important, however, is being good stewards of our life story. God commanded the Israelites not only to teach their children His laws but also to make sure they knew their family history. It was the responsibility of parents and grandparents to make sure their children knew the stories of how God had worked in their behalf (Deut. 4:1-14).

God has given each of us a unique story. His plan for our lives is individualized. Do others know what you believe and why? Do they know the story of how you came to faith and how God has worked in your life to strengthen your faith? Do they know how God has shown Himself faithful and has helped you through doubts and disappointments?

The faithfulness of God is a story that we have the privilege to pass on. Record it in some way and share it. Be a good steward of the story that God is telling through you. —Julie Ackerman Link

How great, O God, Your acts of love!

Your saving deeds would now proclaim

That generations yet to come

May set their hope in Your great name. —D. DeHaan

A life lived for God leaves a lasting legacy.

Bible in a year: Amos 1-3; Revelation 6

Insight

In today’s passage, Moses reminded the people of Israel that—unlike the nations around them—they were the only ones privileged to have intimate fellowship with God (v.7) and the only nation given God’s law (v.8). If they faithfully obeyed His law, God would make them a great and wise people (vv.6,8-9).

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Christmas Triumph

 

Triumph, this time of year, seems to come in many shades of success in the Western world. Try as we may to keep a perspective of cheer or charity or readiness for the coming of Christ, many of us feel most ready for Christmas when we have met every shipping deadline, reciprocated every Christmas card, or averted every scheduling conflict. Victories that we might otherwise find slight seem to become great feats during the holidays—finding a parking spot, getting the last box of Christmas lights in stock, beating the mailman to the mailbox. Other battles continue to brew over the accepting or rejecting of manger scenes, messiahs, and “Merry Christmases” in the face of less specific holiday tales and greetings. Though we seem to oscillate between who or what we are fighting against—the clock, the perfect hostess, the family stressors, the agendas of others—we seem to work toward Christmas one insignificant feat at a time.

But as I sang the lyrics to a song during the lighting of the second Advent candle, I was silenced by the image of a victory we need do nothing but join.

Joyful, all ye nations rise,

Join the triumph of the skies;

With th’angelic host proclaim,

“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”

The triumph the church worldwide invites the world to join as we celebrate Christmas is far bigger than our best Christmases and more real than our worst. There are generations of believers offering the same cries of victory shouted on the very first Christmas night: Christ was born! God came near. God is with us! The birth of Jesus was orchestrated at the hands of God long before the inn would be full or the shepherds would be in their fields by night, long before my traditions would seem etched in stone, or my culture would remove the Nativity from the public arena.

While there may be some ‘victories’ to rightfully seek this season, many others can likely be forsaken, lost with Herod’s fight for control somewhere along the obscure path to a stable outside of Bethlehem. The triumph of a God who so cares for creation that he joins us within it is a victory already won. God is with us. The triumph the church asks the world to join as we celebrate Christ’s birth is a triumph known from the beginning, foreseen by the prophets, heralded by John the Baptist, and cherished by witnesses whose voices still cry out the incredible news of a Christmas story that will not change no matter what we think we are fighting for:

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’”

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

Alistair Begg – Cling to Jesus

 

And lay your foundations with sapphires.  Isaiah 54:11

Not only what is seen in the Church of God but also what is unseen is fair and precious. Foundations are out of sight, and as long as they are firm, it is not expected that they should be valuable. But in God’s work everything is of the same value—nothing devalued, nothing irrelevant. The deep foundations of the work of grace are as precious as sapphires; no human mind is able to measure their glory. We build upon the covenant of grace, which is stronger than steel and as enduring as diamonds and upon which age makes no impact. Sapphire foundations are eternal, and the covenant remains throughout the lifetime of the Almighty.

Another foundation is the person of the Lord Jesus, clear and spotless, as everlasting and beautiful as the sapphire, combining the deep blue of earth’s ever-rolling ocean and the azure of its all-embracing sky. At one time our Lord might have been compared to the ruby as He stood covered with His own blood, but now we see Him radiant with the soft blue of love—love abounding, deep, eternal.

Our eternal hopes are built upon the justice and the faithfulness of God, which are as clear and cloudless as the sapphire. We are not saved by a compromise, by mercy defeating justice or law suspending its operations; no, we defy the eagle’s eye to detect a flaw in the groundwork of our confidence: Our foundation is of sapphire and will endure the fire.

The Lord Himself has laid the foundation of His people’s hopes. It is a subject for serious inquiry whether our hopes are built upon such a basis. Good works and ceremonies are not a foundation of sapphires, but of wood, hay, and stubble; neither are they laid by God but by our own conceit. Foundations will all be tested before long: Woe to him whose lofty tower will come down with a crash because it was built on sand. The one who is built on sapphires may face storm or fire with confidence, for he will pass the test.

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The family reading plan for December 15, 2014 * Zechariah 2 * John 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 – Perfection in faith

 

“For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” Hebrews 10:14

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Timothy 2:20-26

We could not have access to God unless on the footing of perfection; for God cannot walk and talk with imperfect creatures. But we are perfect; not in character, for we are still sinners; but we are perfected through the blood of Jesus Christ, so that God can allow us to have access to him as perfected creatures. We may come boldly, because being sprinkled with the blood, God does not look on us as unholy and unclean, otherwise he could not allow us to come to his mercy seat; but he looks upon us as being perfected forever through the one sacrifice of Christ. That is one thing. The other is this. We are the vessels of God’s temple; he has chosen us to be like the golden pots of his sanctuary; but God could not accept a worship which was offered to him in unholy vessels. Those vessels, therefore, were made perfect by being sprinkled with blood. God could not accept the praise which comes from your unholy heart; he could not accept the song which springs from your uncircumcised lips, nor the faith which arises from your doubting soul, unless he had taken the great precaution to sprinkle you with the blood of Christ; and now, whatever he uses you for, he uses you as a perfect instrument, regarding you as being perfect in Christ Jesus. That, again, is the meaning of the text, and the same meaning, only a different phase of it. And, the last meaning is, that the sacrifices of the Jews did not give believing Jews peace of conscience for any length of time; they had to come again, and again, and again, because they felt that those sacrifices did not present to them a perfect justification before God. But behold, beloved, you and I are complete in Jesus. We have no need of any other sacrifice. All others we disclaim. He hath perfected us forever. We may set our conscience at ease, because we are truly, really, and everlastingly accepted in him.

For meditation: Being accepted in Christ enables us to serve God acceptably.

Sermon no. 232

15 December (Preached 2 January 1859)

John MacArthur – The Lover of Righteousness

 

“‘Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy companions'” (Heb. 1:8-9).

As the eternal God and King, Christ loves righteousness and hates lawlessness.

In these days it’s difficult for us as Christians to be totally supportive of our governmental leaders when we see so much of what God calls righteous compromised or ridiculed. But the King of kings—Christ Himself—is the only leader who has a perfectly right attitude toward righteousness.

Christ rules from an eternal throne, and He rules eternity as God and King. The scepter He holds is symbolic of His rule, particularly as a rule of righteousness.

But there’s more to it than that: He just doesn’t act righteously; He loves righteousness itself. How often have we obeyed without joy, expressing an attitude of willing condescension? But Jesus gives us a different model.

James 1:17 says, “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.” True righteousness never varies from what is true, just, and good. And 1 John 1:5 says, “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” God is total light and total righteousness. Everything Jesus did resulted from His love of righteousness.

Because Christ loves righteousness, He hates lawlessness. Since He loves what is right, He must hate what is wrong. The two are inseparable—one cannot exist without the other. You cannot truly love righteousness and also like sin. When there is true love for God, there will also be true love for righteousness and total hatred of sin.

The more you and I become conformed to Jesus Christ, the more we will love righteousness. Our attitudes toward righteousness and sin will ultimately reveal how closely we are conformed to Christ. Check out your attitudes and actions. How are you doing?

Suggestion for Prayer; Like the psalmist, ask God to show you any hurtful way in you (Ps. 139:24).

For Further Study; Read Psalm 119 and note how many times the psalmist makes reference to either his love for God’s law or righteousness.

Joyce Meyer – Make It Personal

 

You are My friends if you keep on doing the things which I command you to do. —John 15:14

In today’s verse, Jesus tells us we are His friends if we obey Him. In the following verse, He says He no longer calls us His servants, but His friends. Clearly, He wants a personal relationship with us and He wants us to get personal with Him. He proves this by the fact that He lives in us. How much more personal can anyone get than to live inside another person?

If God had wanted a distant, businesslike, professional relationship with us, He would have lived far away. He might have visited occasionally, but He certainly would not have come to take up permanent residence in the same house with us. When Jesus died on the cross, He opened up a way for us to get personal with Almighty God. What an awesome thought!

Just think about it: God is our personal friend! If we know someone important, we love to have an opportunity to say, “Oh, yes, that person is a friend of mine. I go to his house all the time. We visit with one another often.” We can say the same about God if we do our part to fellowship with Him, listen to His voice and obey what He says, and stay in His presence every day.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Learn to Be Patient

 

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials for we know that they are good for us – they help us learn to be patient” (Romans 5:3).

A Christian family was struggling with the trials of being parents (they had four young children – two of them in diapers). One day the wife, who was frustrated to her wits’ end, came to me for spiritual counsel. As she phrased it, she was at the point of losing her sanity.

How could she cope with rearing her children? She told how angry she got with the children when they disobeyed her. In fact, she indicated there were times when she feared she might physically harm her children, though she loved them dearly.

How could she cope with rearing her children? She needed the fruit of the Spirit, patience and love. The only way she could obtain such patience was by faith, confessing her sins and appropriating the fullness of the Holy Spirit. This she began to do, continually. Today, she is a women of godly patience, and being a parent has become a joyful privilege for her.

All of us need Christ’s patience, regardless of who we are or in what circumstances we find ourselves. Patience is granted to us by the grace of God through the Holy Spirit. It is produced by faith as a fruit of the Spirit, and it is granted in times of great crises (Luke 21:15-19); in dealing with church situations (2 Corinthians 12:12); in opposing evil (Revelation 2:2), for soundness of faith (Titus 2:2) and in waiting for the return of Jesus Christ (James 5:7,8).

Bible Reading: Romans 5:1-8

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will look on trials and problems as a forerunner of great patience in my life, while claiming the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit to strengthen me.

Presidential Prayer Team; G.C. – Day After Day

 

Is it healthy to eat the same meal every day? The answer is obvious – only if it’s a healthy meal! Aristotle said “We are what we repeatedly do.” At the conclusion of the book of Daniel, he is talking with a messenger from God. After having an amazing vision about how the end of days will take place, Daniel is a little perplexed about what to do with the revelation. The messenger tells Daniel to “go his way,” not so much in reference to physically walking away, but more along the notion of moving forward in his thinking.

Many shall purify themselves…but the wicked shall act wickedly.

Daniel 12:10

Sometimes it’s hard to understand what you see happening around the world: the suffering has no sufficient explanation or resolution. Scripture says when believers suffer it is never wasted: the pain will be redeemed and used for God’s great purposes. The Bible also says the wicked will go on being wicked – count on it. It’s like someone choosing to eat the same unhealthy meal every day.

Today, if you are distressed by the evil you see, first pray and then let your mind rest in the faith that, every day, God’s plan is still in place.

Recommended Reading: II Peter 2:4-9

Greg Laurie – God’s Royal Seal

 

In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.—Ephesians 1:13

What does the Bible mean when it says that we are sealed with the Holy Spirit? In the apostle Paul’s day, when goods were shipped from one place to another, they would be stamped with a wax seal, imprinted with the signet ring of the owner. This was a unique mark of ownership. People could look at the crate, see its wax seal, and know they had better not open it.

The same was true for a document from a king. It would be sealed in wax and imprinted with the royal seal. People knew that if they opened it and weren’t the intended recipient, they would be endangering their very lives.

In the same way, God has put His royal seal on us: “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). The seal is the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and lives. Upon our conversion, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit.

Let’s say that a thief wanted to steal a briefcase. Then he notices a nametag on it, bearing the name of a famous boxer. Most likely, the thief wouldn’t steal that briefcase. Why? He would be afraid of what would happen. He doesn’t want to suffer bodily harm.

In a similar way, the Devil wants to come and destroy us as Christians. He wants to wreak havoc in our lives. But he sees our ID tag: “Owned by Jesus Christ. Sealed and insured by the Holy Spirit.” So he backs off because he fears the One to whom we belong.

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

Max Lucado – There is One Name—Jesus

 

Son of God, the Lamb of God, the Resurrection and the Life, Alpha and Omega. Phrases that stretch the boundaries of human language in an effort to capture the un-capturable, the grandeur of God. They always fall short. Hearing them is somewhat like hearing a Salvation Army Christmas band on the street corner playing Handel’s Messiah. No names do God justice!

But there is one name. Jesus. A name so typical, if He were here today, his name might be John or Bob or Jim. He was touchable, approachable, reachable. “Just call me Jesus,” you can almost hear Him say. Those who walked with Him remembered Him not with a title or designation, but with a name—Jesus! It’s a beautiful name and a powerful name. The day is coming when at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord!

From In the Manger