Charles Stanley – The God Who Comforts Us

 

2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Even though we experience seasons of celebration, all of us go through difficulties and hardships in life. At times we may find ourselves in despair, wondering if the Lord understands or even notices us. The truth is that He does understand, and He cares so deeply that He sent His only Son to rescue us from our sinful state. Not only that—He loves us and cares enough to comfort us when we hurt.

If you look up comfort in the dictionary, you will find one definition of the word. But take a look at John 14:16 (KJV), and you’ll discover quite a different meaning. In that verse, Jesus describes the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit and calls Him “the Comforter.” That term means “the one who comes to stand by our side—the one who comes to our aid.”

Because believers have the Comforter residing within, there is no need to search elsewhere for comfort. We don’t have to look to drink, drugs, entertainment, travel, or other distractions and pleasures in order to escape our trials and heartaches. We have the source of all comfort dwelling within us.

This means that when we feel as if we’re collapsing on the inside and crying out to God, “I cannot handle any more!” we can expect to sense a little inaudible whisper that encourages us: “You are going to make it because I am here.” When you discern the God-breathed comfort of the Holy Spirit—the One who stands with you no matter what sadness or difficulty you are facing—it is worth more than anything this world has to offer.

Our Daily Bread — Out Of Egypt

 

Matthew 2:13-21

Take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt. —Matthew 2:13

One year when our family was traveling through Ohio on the way to Grandma’s house, we arrived in Columbus just as a tornado warning was issued. Suddenly everything changed as we feared that our children might be in danger.

I mention that story to help us imagine what it was like for Joseph’s family as he, Mary, and their young child traveled to Egypt. Herod, not a tornado, threatened them as he sought to kill their little boy. Imagine how frightening it was for them, knowing that “Herod [sought] the young Child to destroy Him” (Matt. 2:13).

We usually take a more idyllic view of Christmastime—lowing cattle and kneeling shepherds in a peaceful scene. But there was no peace for Jesus’ family as they sought to escape Herod’s horror. Only when an angel told them it was safe did the family go out of Egypt and back home to Nazareth (vv.20-23).

Consider the awe we should feel for the incarnation. Jesus, who enjoyed the majesty of heaven in partnership with the Father, set it all aside to be born in poverty, to face many dangers, and to be crucified for us. Coming out of Egypt is one thing, but leaving heaven for us—that’s the grand and amazing part of this story! —Dave Branon

Jesus our Savior left heaven above,

Coming to earth as a Servant with love;

Laying aside all His glory He came,

Bringing salvation through faith in His name. —Hess

Jesus came to earth for us so we could go to heaven with Him.

Bible in a year: Zechariah 1-4; Revelation 18

Insight

Today’s passage is both a harrowing and a comforting account of early events in Jesus’ life. Verse 15 reminds us that the threat to His life and His family’s hasty escape to Egypt were within God’s plan.

Alistair Begg – Find Your Life in Christ

 

And the Lord will guide you continually.  Isaiah 58:11

“The LORD will guide you.” Not an angel, but the Lord will guide you. He said He would not go through the wilderness before His people, but an angel would go before them to lead them in the way; but Moses said, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.”1

Christian, God has not left you in your earthly pilgrimage to be guided by an angel: He Himself leads the procession. You may not see the cloudy, fiery pillar, but the Lord will never forsake you. Notice the word will—”The LORD will guide you.” This makes it certain! We may be sure that God will not forsake us! His precious shalls and wills are better than men’s promises. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”2

Then observe the adverb “continually.” We are not merely being led sometimes, but we have a perpetual guide; not occasionally left to our own understanding, and so to wander, but continually hearing the guiding voice of the Great Shepherd; and if we keep close to His heels, we will not drift but will be led by a right way to our eternal dwelling. If you have to change your position in life, if you have to emigrate to another country, if it should happen that you are poverty-stricken or suddenly promoted to a more responsible position than the one you now occupy, if you are thrown among strangers or cast among foes, don’t tremble, for “the LORD will guide you continually.”

There are no dilemmas out of which you will not be delivered if you live near to God and your heart is kept warm with holy love. You will not go astray in the company of God. Like Enoch, walk with God, and you cannot miss your road. You have infallible wisdom to direct you, unchangeable love to comfort you, and eternal power to defend you. “The LORD”—mark the word—”the LORD will guide you continually.”

1) Exodus 33:15   2) Hebrews 13:5

The family reading plan for December 27, 2014 * Zechariah 14 * John 17

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

Charles Spurgeon – “What have I done?”

 

“What have I done?” Jeremiah 8:6

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Peter 1:3-8

What hast thou done? I hear thee reply, “I have done nothing to save myself; for that was done for me in the eternal covenant, from before the foundation of the world. I have done nothing to make a righteousness for myself, for Christ said, “It is finished;” I have done nothing to procure heaven by my merits, for all that Jesus did for me before I was born.” But say, brother, what hast thou done for him who died to save thy wretched soul? What hast thou done for his church? What hast thou done for the salvation of the world? What has thou done to promote thine own spiritual growth in grace? Ah! I might hit some of you that are true Christians very hard here; but I will leave you with your God. God will chastise his own children. I will, however, put a pointed question. Are there not many Christians now present who cannot recollect that they have been the means of the salvation of one soul during this year? Come, now; turn back. Have you any reason to believe that directly or indirectly you have been made the means this year of the salvation of a soul? I will go further. There are some of you who are old Christians, and I will ask you this question: Have you any reason to believe that ever since you were converted you have ever been the means of the salvation of a soul? It was reckoned in the East, in the times of the patriarchs, to be a disgrace to a woman that she had no children; but what disgrace it is to a Christian to have no spiritual children—to have none born unto God by his instrumentality! And yet there are some of you here that have been spiritually barren, and have never brought one convert to Christ; you have not one star in your crown of glory, and must wear a starless crown in heaven.

For meditation: While the self-righteous makes the fatal mistake of thinking that good deeds lead to salvation, the saved can make the sad mistake of forgetting that salvation is supposed to lead to good deeds (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Sermon no. 169

27 December (1857)

John MacArthur – The Humiliation of Christ

 

“We . . . see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone” (Heb. 2:9).

In serving as our substitute, Christ humbled Himself supremely.

Jesus’ death on the cross was not easy or costless—it was a horrific death. It was not calm and peaceful; it was accompanied by outward torture and inward agony. The death He tasted was the curse of sin. In a few hours on that cross, He suffered the total agony of every soul for all eternity. He was guilty of no sin, yet He chose to suffer the weight of all sins committed for all time.

God sent His Son, and His Son willingly came to die to redeem mankind. Paul writes, “When the fulness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law” (Gal. 4:4-5).

Only by tasting death as a man could He free mankind from death. Historically, kings have had someone taste their food and drink before they consumed it. Christ drained to the dregs the cup of poison rightfully meant for us before it could ever touch our lips. He substituted His death for ours, releasing us from the deadness of sin to life with God.

What moved Jesus to suffer for us? Grace. What we did not deserve (salvation) we received, and what we did deserve (death) we did not receive. Unbounded love prompted Christ’s gracious work on our behalf: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

After He accomplished the work of His substitutionary death, He was “crowned with glory and honor” and exalted to the right hand of the Father, where He will reign forever and ever. He is our great Substitute, whom we can thank and praise throughout all eternity.

Suggestion for Prayer; Ask God to give you opportunities to communicate the gospel to new people, even if you might suffer in the process.

For Further Study; Read Isaiah 52:13—53:12 to understand what the God of the universe had to endure at the hands of men.

Joyce Meyer – Equipped for Hard Things

 

For this commandment which I command you this day is not too difficult for you, nor is it far off. —Deuteronomy 30:11

“This is too hard” is one of the excuses we hear most frequently. But we are equipped by God’s Spirit to handle hard things. We are anointed to press through and see victory. The next time you are tempted to say something is too hard, look at Deuteronomy 30:11, which says, “It is not too difficult!”

Anything God leads you to do, you can do. God never leads you to do something unless He gives you the power and the ability to do it. Prepare yourself for right action with power thoughts. Think, I don’t know how I’m going to do it, I don’t feel like I can do it, but God is leading me to do it. And I believe if He is leading me to do it, then I can. Because I believe I can do whatever I need to do through the power of God that resides in me.

Power Thought: Nothing God asks of me is too difficult.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Mighty Things Through Faith

 

“And so [Jesus] did only a few great miracles there, because of their unbelief.” (Matthew 13:58).

It was my first visit to Nazareth, and through a series of fortuitous circumstances, I found myself enjoying lunch with one of the city’s prominent leaders. As we talked together in the crowded dining room our conversation turned to Jesus Christ, and ultimately this gentleman bowed his head and began to pray aloud, inviting Christ to be his Savior and Lord.

The change seemed to be immediate and dramatic, and follow-up has proven that God did meet him and change his life. During the course of our conversation, he indicated that what I had shared with him was a new truth. Though he was religious and active in his church, he never had been told that he should receive Christ.

Upon further exploration, I found that, in the entire community of Nazareth, there were but a few in those days who understood the truth of the living Christ indwelling the believer. I was amazed!

Nazareth was the town in which our Lord had spent approximately thirty years of His life. The son of a carpenter, He had walked those winding streets, living, loving and laughing with other young children as they were growing up. He left the town when He entered His public ministry, and went on to perform mighty miracles, die on the cross for our sins and be raised from the dead – and He changed the whole course of history. But 2,000 years have passed since then, and there is still little evidence of the influence of Jesus in the lives of the people of Nazareth.

Then I remembered that it was said of our Lord, He could do no mighty things in Nazareth because of their unbelief. That seems to be true in more than just that city today. Even though there are a billion and a half professing followers of Christ throughout the world, the majority seem to be practical atheists.

And so, our Lord cannot do mighty things in Nazareth, or throughout the world, because of unbelief. The key to releasing His power to accomplish revolutionary, supernatural things in the world – and in individual lives – is faith. “According to your faith be it unto you” (Matthew 9:29, KJV). “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23, KJV). “The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17, KJV).

Bible Reading: Mark 6:1-5

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Remembering that Jesus Christ lives within me in all of His supernatural power, waiting to accomplish great and mighty things through me, I will trust and obey Him for a life that is characterized by the supernatural, and I will encourage others to do the same.

Presidential Prayer Team; C.P. – Whiter than Snow

 

Most people remember the story of Satan accusing Job. But you may not recall Satan doing the same thing to Joshua the High Priest. Instead of allowing Satan to touch Joshua, like He did with Job, the Lord rebuked Satan. Joshua was then given clean clothes and all his sins were forgiven.

Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.

Zechariah 3:4

Satan still accuses God’s people, but he will be thrown down (Revelation 12:10). Satan is like a roaring lion (I Peter 5:8), but God restores, confirms, strengthens and establishes those in Christ. If those in God resist Satan, he will flee (James 4:7). The Holy Spirit in you is greater than Satan (I John 4:4). Jesus intercedes (Hebrews 7:25). God forgives those who are repentant (I John 1:9).

Many problems face the people and leaders of this country, but their greatest need is to seek forgiveness and turn to the Lord. Ask your Heavenly Father to send a spiritual revival to this nation. God is able to “remove the iniquity of this land in a single day.” (Zechariah 3:9)

Recommended Reading: Acts 26:12-18

Greg Laurie – Quick to Listen, Slow to Speak

 

Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls. —Proverbs 25:28

In this day of instant information, we can get our news so fast that we don’t have to wait for the evening news anymore. We don’t have to wait for the newspaper. We can go out on the Internet and get our news in real time.

I think this makes it hard for us to slow down and listen, especially to God. Many of us are like Martha in Luke’s Gospel, running around in our little self-made circles of activity instead of calmly sitting at His feet and listening like Mary did.

But James 1:19 tells us, “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” We ought to post that verse where we can see it every day. How different our lives would be if we heeded its admonition.

James tells us we should be swift to listen, but we also should be slow to speak. How many times have you blurted out something, only to regret it the moment it left your lips? Jesus said, “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37).

We should be slow to anger. How easy it is to rationalize our outbursts of rage (especially when we are driving). But Proverbs 29:11 says, “Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back” (NLT).

How much better our lives and our witness would be if we were swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath!

Special Guest Post From Bible Gateway – Bible Studies

 

The Implications of God’s Dominion for Dealing With Pain and Loss

Job 41:11, 34

Nothing belongs to us, not even our selves. Strictly speaking, we do not even own our private feelings and thoughts. The fact that God asserts his absolute ownership at this point in the book is significant for how we understand personal pain or loss. Bitter as this “pill” may be to swallow, we have to acknowledge that God doesn’t owe us a thing. Whether he gives or takes away (see Job 1:21), or even if he allows our bodies or minds to be wracked with pain, we are to praise and adore his name. This is not to say that we are necessarily to thank him for pain or calamity (though this may sometimes be appropriate). But he does expect us to praise him in spite of and through the hard times. What would it mean for us to truly live in the light of God’s absolute ownership, to live out in our daily lives the knowledge that we have been “bought at a price” (cf. Ps 24:1; 50:10; 1Co 6:20; 7:23)? And what a price!

Bestselling author Philip Yancey has delved deeply into the “problem” of pain. He addresses the quintessential human question: Where is God when it hurts? Yancey’s final thoughts from his book by the same title:

He has been there from the beginning, designing a pain system that still, in the midst of a fallen, rebellious world, bears the stamp of His genius and equips us for life on this planet.

He has watched us reflect His image, carving out great works of art, launching mighty adventures, living out this earth in a mixture of pain and pleasure when the two so closely coalesce they sometimes become almost indistinguishable.

He has used pain, even in its grossest forms, to teach us, asking us to let it turn us to Him. He has stooped to conquer …

He has let us cry out and echo Job with louder and harsher fits of anger against Him, blaming Him for a world we spoiled.

He has allied Himself with the poor and suffering, establishing a kingdom tilted in their favor, which the rich and powerful often shun.

He has promised supernatural strength to nourish our spirit, even if our physical suffering goes unrelieved …

He is with us now, ministering to us through His Spirit and through members of His body who are commissioned to bear us up and relieve our suffering for the sake of the head.

He is waiting, gathering the armies of good. One day He will unleash them. The world will see one last explosion of pain before the full victory is ushered in. Then, he will create for us a new, incredible world. And pain shall be no more.

Think About It

Why do people sometimes feel that God “owes” them something?

What is it in human nature that leads people to question God?

How is it possible to praise God in and through your pain?

Pray About It

With a friend or in a group, as the body of Christ, lift up each other’s pain and sorrows to God in prayer.