Charles Stanley – The Light of the World

 

John 1:1-5

The book of Malachi contains the last prophecies of God recorded in the Old Testament. The intertestamental period, as the next four centuries are known, was devoid of messages from God to His people. Zacharias—the father of John the Baptist—broke the 400-year silence when he prophesied that “. . . the Sunrise from on high will visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death” (Luke 1:78-79).

Zacharias was announcing the birth of Jesus into a spiritually dark world. Here is how Paul described the condition of mankind without Christ: “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Rom. 1:21). The state of unbelievers today is the same as it has always been. Darkness plagues the earth because people live with a sense of frustration and futility as they attempt to please fleshly appetites that are never satisfied.

The light of Jesus Christ lets people see themselves as they really are: sinners in need of a Savior. When His hope is allowed to penetrate the heart, darkness is chased away. Receiving Him as Savior means that sins are forgiven and the death sentence lifted. The Son’s light has a second purpose for the believer. Jesus illuminates the right path for our life so that we need not give in to temptation. Whoever chooses to walk in the light—obeying God’s commands and seeking to live by His principles (Eph. 5:8-10)—cannot walk in darkness.

Our Daily Bread — In Jesus’ Name

 

John 14:12-21

Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. —John 16:24

One of my favorite collections of photos is of a family dinner. Preserved in an album are images of Dad, his sons and their wives, and his grandchildren in a time of thanks-giving and intercession.

Dad had suffered a series of strokes and was not as verbal as usual. But during that time of prayer, I heard him say with heartfelt conviction: “We pray in Jesus’ name!” About a year later, Dad passed from this world into the presence of the One in whose name he placed such trust.

Jesus taught us to pray in His name. The night before He was crucified, He gave a promise to His disciples: “Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24). But the promise of asking in Jesus’ name is not a blank check that we might get anything to fulfill our personal whims.

Earlier that evening, Jesus taught that He answers requests made in His name so that He will bring glory to the Father (John 14:13). And later that night, Jesus Himself prayed in anguish, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matt. 26:39).

As we pray, we yield to God’s wisdom, love, and sovereignty, and we confidently ask “in Jesus’ name.” —Dennis Fisher

Father in heaven, help us worry less about

what we can get from You and more about

what we can learn from You. As Your followers

said, “Increase our faith” (Luke 17:5).

Nothing lies beyond the reach of prayer except that which lies outside the will of God.

Bible in a year: Micah 1-3; Revelation 11

Insight

In today’s passage, Jesus tells His small group of followers that whoever believes in Him will do the same, and even greater, works than He did (v.12). Jesus’ work was to call people to repentance and relationship with the Father. As one example of this, the apostle Peter preached a sermon that moved 3,000 people to repentance! (Acts 2).

Alistair Begg – Payments from the Master

 

Call the laborers and pay them their wages.  Matthew 20:8

God is a good Master; He pays His servants while they work and also when their work is done. One of His payments is this: an easy conscience. If you have spoken faithfully of Jesus to one person, when you go to bed at night you feel happy, thinking, “I have today discharged my conscience of that man’s blood.”

There is a great comfort in doing something for Jesus. What a happiness to place jewels in His crown and allow Him to see of the travail of His soul! There is also great reward in watching the first buddings of conviction in a soul! To say of that girl in the class, “She has a tender heart—I do hope that the Lord is at work in her.” To go home and pray over that boy who said something in the afternoon that made you think he must know more of divine truth than you had feared! Oh, the joy of hope!

But as for the joy of success—it is unspeakable! This joy, overwhelming as it is, is a hungry thing—you pine for more of it. To be a soul-winner is the happiest thing in the world. With every soul you bring to Christ, you get a new heaven on earth. But who can conceive of the bliss that awaits us above! How sweet is the sentence, “Enter into the joy of your master!”1 Do you know what the joy of Christ is over a saved sinner? This is the very joy that we are to possess in heaven. Yes, when He ascends the throne, you shall ascend with Him.

When the heavens ring with “Well done, well done,” you will have a part in the reward. You have worked with Him; you have suffered with Him; you will now reign with Him. You have sown with Him; you will reap with Him. Your face was covered with sweat like His, and your soul, like His, was grieved for the sins of men; now your face will be bright with heaven’s splendor as is His countenance, and now your soul will be filled with heavenly joys just as His soul is.

1) Matthew 25:21, 23

The family reading plan for December 20, 2014 * Zechariah 7 * John 10

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

Charles Spurgeon – The first Christmas carol

 

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 14:5-9

I wish everybody that keeps Christmas this year, would keep it as the angels kept it. There are many persons who, when they talk about keeping Christmas, mean by that the cutting of the bands of their religion for one day in the year, as if Christ were the Lord of misrule, as if the birth of Christ should be celebrated like the orgies of Bacchus. There are some very religious people, that on Christmas would never forget to go to church in the morning; they believe Christmas to be nearly as holy as Sunday, for they reverence the tradition of the elders. Yet their way of spending the rest of the day is very remarkable; for if they see their way straight up stairs to their bed at night, it must be by accident. They would not consider they had kept Christmas in a proper manner, if they did not verge on gluttony and drunkenness. There are many who think Christmas cannot possibly be kept, except there be a great shout of merriment and mirth in the house, and added to that the boisterousness of sin. Now, my brethren, although we, as successors of the Puritans, will not keep the day in any religious sense whatever, attaching nothing more to it than to any other day: believing that every day may be a Christmas for ought we know, and wishing to make every day Christmas, if we can, yet we must try to set an example to others how to behave on that day; and specially since the angels gave glory to God: let us do the same. Once more the angels said, “Peace to men”: let us labour if we can to make peace next Christmas day.

For meditation: The unconverted cannot understand why Christians do not join them in their wild Christmas celebrations (1 Peter 4:3-4); those who celebrate the event without being able to give a sensible reason for doing so, are providing us with wonderful opportunities to give a reason for the hope that is within us (1 Peter 3:15).

Sermon no. 168

20 December (1857)

John MacArthur – Throwing out the Anchor

 

“For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it” (Heb. 2:1).

God’s Word is the anchor that will prevent people from drifting past the harbor of salvation.

While English explorer William Edward Parry and his crew were exploring the Arctic Ocean, they needed to go further north to continue their chartings. So they calculated their location by the stars and began a treacherous march.

After many hours they stopped, exhausted. After taking their bearings, they discovered they were now further south than when they started! They had been walking on an ice floe that was traveling faster south than they were walking north.

That is similar to the situation people who continue rejecting Christ find themselves in. Therefore Hebrews 2:1 says, “We must pay closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”

Why would anyone knowingly reject Christ? He came into the world as God incarnate, died on a cross to forgive our sins, paid our penalty, showed us divine love, and gives us blessing and joy beyond imagination.

The Greek words translated “pay much closer attention to” and “drift away from” both have a nautical usage. The first means “to tie up a ship” and the second can be used of a ship that has been carelessly allowed to drift past the harbor because the sailor forgot to attend to the steerage or chart the wind, tides, and current. Hebrews 2:1 could be translated: “We must diligently anchor our lives to the things we have been taught, lest the ship of life drift past the harbor of salvation and be lost forever.”

Most people don’t deliberately turn their backs on God; they almost imperceptibly slip past the harbor of salvation and are broken on the rocks of destruction. Be sure you warn those you know who might be slipping past that harbor.

Suggestion for Prayer; Ask God to strengthen your resolve when you know you need to confront someone regarding his or her relationship with the Lord.

For Further Study; Memorize Proverbs 4:20-22 as your own reminder of how important it is to hold on to God’s Word.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Practicing Patience

 

“You need to keep on patiently doing God’s will if you want Him to do for you all that He has promised” (Hebrews 10:36).

During a Bible study on this passage, Ted made this contribution: “Spiritually,” he said, “I’m a sprinter, not a long distance runner.”

Numerous Christians would identify with that for there is little patience, persistence, and tenacity among believers. When adversity comes, many of us are prone to give up and lose our wind. That is the reason James says in his first chapter, verses 2-4, “Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.”

You will note the emphasis on patience. All of us are faced with problems, testings, temptations, adversities and trials in varying degrees. We can determine, by our attitudes and actions, whether or not our tragedies will turn to triumph. Our heartache and sorrow can become joy and rejoicing simply by our patience, which is the ability to relax in the confidence that God rules in the affairs of men and nations. Everything is under His control. And as we walk in faith and obedience, we will be a part of His wonderful and perfect plan.

But the question may be asked, how can we increase this rare trait or gift of patience that unlocks the door to supernatural living? The answer is simple. It is found in Galatians 5:22-23 in the listing of the fruit of the Spirit, for one of the nine characteristics mentioned is patience or longsuffering.

Are you patient with your husband, wife, parents, children, neighbors and those with whom you work in the office? Or do you find yourself critical and complaining – more prone to judge than to bless?

As we more and more yield ourselves to God’s indwelling Holy Spirit, the fruit of patience is increased, along with all the other fruit.

Bible Reading: Hebrews 6:12-15

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will invite the Holy Spirit to control and empower my life moment by moment, day by day, knowing that the fruit of the Spirit, including patience, will increase and mature in my life.

Presidential Prayer Team; C.H. – Free Refills

 

In April this year, a construction worker at Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston, South Carolina was issued a ticket for $525 for shoplifting. What did this worker take without payment? A drink refill. Unaware refills in the hospital cafeteria were 89 cents, this man refilled his drink without thought. Thankfully, the federal officer who caught him decided to let him off with a warning – but only after first writing him the expensive ticket.

That you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

Colossians 1:9

The poor worker just came to get filled. Today’s passage speaks of a different refill. The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Colossae to say he was praying for God to fill them with wisdom and understanding, as well as knowledge of His will. One would think such a valuable replenishment would come with a price. But all may pray to receive this spiritual gift.

Are you taking advantage of the free refills your Heavenly Father can give? Come today and ask to be filled. Pray, too, for your national leaders to have wisdom and understanding. Help them to know Jesus already paid the cost.

Recommended Reading: Romans 5:12-21

Greg Laurie – God’s Gift to Us (Part 1)

 

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. —John 3:17

When you’re a child, Christmas is all about receiving gifts. In December, your head is swimming with nothing but images of your favorite toys.

But the true message of Christmas is not the presents we give to one another. The true meaning is the gift that God gave to us, His Son Jesus Christ.

During the next two days, I want to point out to you three things about the gift God gave to us in that tiny manger in Bethlehem.

The first thing we want to realize about God’s gift to us is that it came in simple wrapping. Some people will go to great lengths to wrap presents beautifully. But God’s gift came to us not in beautiful, ornate wrapping, but in a dirty manger found in a cold cave in a little-known town called Bethlehem.

That’s the beauty of the Christmas event. Jesus took His place in a manger so that we might have a home in heaven. The Savior was not wrapped in satin sheets, but in common rags. There in a manger rested the greatest gift in the plainest of wrapping.

The second thing I want to point out about God’s gift to us is that we don’t deserve it. Consider this: God gave us the ultimate gift of His Son Jesus Christ while we were still sinning against Him (see Romans 5:8).

We did nothing whatsoever to merit or deserve His gift. That is the amazing truth of Christmas. Despite who we are, God sent His Son so “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

With Christmas just days away, begin to prepare your heart for the celebration of the birth of our Savior. Meditate on the fact that Jesus was born to die so that we might live.