Charles Stanley – The Call of God

John 3:1-15

Do you ever think of God as “up close and personal”? Instead of being distant and unapproachable, the Creator of the universe has constantly sought to come near us. In order to save us, He chose to identify with man by sending His Son Jesus to live on earth. He also made it possible for His Spirit to indwell us as our counselor and guide. The Father invites everyone to have a personal relationship with Him. And He is pleased when we follow Him closely.

If we look at His call to various people throughout Scripture’s recorded history, it’s clear that this is not a general, vague offer (Jer. 1:5). God desires that you seek Him with all your heart so that you may find Him and the future He has planned for you (29:11-13). But God’s top priority for everyone is the call to salvation—He wants us to open the door of our heart so that He can cleanse us and do a transforming work in our lives. He calls us as individuals so that we will receive His love, forgiveness, and a new identity through spiritual rebirth.

Your eternal destiny depends upon a decision to answer His call with an open heart. To say yes is to embark on the adventure of a new life full of purpose—the life with Him that you were created to live. Have you responded to this incredible call on your life? If you have, reaffirm your commitment to Him. If you haven’t yet answered His invitation, make today the day that changes everything: Receive Jesus as your personal Savior, and make Him the Lord of your life.

Our Daily Bread – A Deadly Weapon




Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; . . . they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. —Isaiah 40:31


Read: Nehemiah 4:1-10
Bible in a Year: Numbers 26-27; Mark 8:1-21

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali used several ring tactics to defeat his opponents; one tactic was taunting. In his fight with George Foreman in 1974, Ali taunted Foreman, “Hit harder! Show me something, George. That don’t hurt. I thought you were supposed to be bad.” Fuming, Foreman punched away furiously, wasting his energy and weakening his confidence.

It’s an old tactic. By referring to Nehemiah’s efforts at rebuilding the broken wall of Jerusalem as nothing more than a fox’s playground (Neh. 4:3), Tobiah intended to weaken the workers with poisonous words of discouragement. Goliath tried it on David by despising the boy’s simple weapons of a sling and stones (1 Sam. 17:41-44).

A discouraging remark can be a deadly weapon. Nehemiah refused to surrender to Tobiah’s discouragements, just as David rejected Goliath’s diabolical teasing. Focusing on God and His help rather than on their discouraging situations, David and Nehemiah both achieved victory.

Taunting can come from anybody, including those who are close to us. Responding to them negatively only saps our energy. But God encourages us through His promises: He will never forsake us (Ps. 9:10; Heb. 13:5), and He invites us to rely on His help (Heb. 4:16). —Lawrence Darmani

Lord, it’s easy to let discouragement sap my energy and joy. Help me to reject all agents of discouragement in my life and to trust in You for comfort and strength.

If you’re in a tunnel of discouragement, keep walking toward the Light.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Only Human


The recognition of one’s humanity can be an uncomfortable pill to swallow. Life’s fragility, life’s impermanence, life’s intertwinement with imperfection and disappointment—bitter medicines are easier to accept. The Romantic poets called it “the burden of full consciousness.” To look closely at humanity can indeed be a realization of dread and despair.

For poet Philip Larkin, to look closely at humanity was to peer into the absurdity of the human existence. Whatever frenetic, cosmic accident that brought about a species so endowed with consciousness, the sting of mortality, incessant fears of failure, and sieges of shame, doubt, and selfishness was, for Larkin, a bitter irony. In a poem titled “The Building,” he describes the human condition as it is revealed in the rooms of a hospital, where one finds “Humans, caught/On ground curiously neutral, homes and names/Suddenly in abeyance; some are young,/ Some old, but most at that vague age that claims/The end of choice, the last of hope; and all/ Here to confess that something has gone wrong./ It must be error of a serious sort,/ For see how many floors it needs, how tall…”

With or without Larkin’s sense of dread, the confession that “something has gone wrong” is often synonymous with the acknowledgment of humanity. “I’m only human,” is a phrase meant to evoke leniency with shortcoming, while “human” itself in Webster’s dictionary is an adjective for imperfection, weakness, and fragility. Nonetheless, there are some religions that stand diametrically opposed to this idea, seeing humanity with limitless potential, humans as pure, the human spirit as divine. In a vein not unlike Larkin’s agnostic dread, the self-deemed new atheists see the cruel realities of time and chance as reason in and of itself to dismiss the rose-colored lenses of God and religion. Yet quite unlike Larkin’s concluding outlook of meaninglessness and despair, they (inexplicably) suggest a rose-colored view of humanity. Still others emphasize the depravity of humanity to such a leveling degree that no person can stand up under the burden of guilt and disgust.

In deep contrast to such severe or optimistic readings, the Christian view of humanity adds a nuanced dimension to the conversation. Christianity admits that while there is indeed an error of a serious sort, the error is not in “humanness” itself. Rather, something has gone wrong. Thus, in our humanity we find the paradox of a deep and sacred honor at our humanity and a profound and shameful recognition that we cannot access it. Yet our inherent recognition of imperfection is simultaneously an inherent admission that there is indeed such a thing as perfection. The Christian’s advantage, then, is not that they find themselves less fallen and closer to said perfection than others, nor that they find in their religion a means of escaping the world of fragility, brokenness, guilt, and error; the Christian’s advantage is that they are aware of their own broken humanity in a fallen world because they are aware of the perfect human.

“[H]umanity’s mystery,” as one writer expounds, “can be explained only in the mystery of the God who became human. If people want to look into their own mystery—the meaning of their pain, of their work, of their suffering, of their hope—let them put themselves next to Christ. If they accomplish what Christ accomplished—doing the Father’s will, filling themselves with the life that Christ gives the world—they are fulfilling themselves as true human beings. If I find, on comparing myself with Christ, that my life is a contrast, the opposite of his, then my life is a disaster. I cannot explain that mystery except by returning to Christ, who gives authentic features to a person who wants to be genuinely human.”(1)

The author of these words was well acquainted with the mysterious paradox of humanness and the God who became human to call the world to authentic humanity. Oscar Romero was a Salvadoran priest who saw the very worst and the weakest of humanity in the corruption, violence, and suffering of a country at war within itself. A witness to ongoing violations of human rights, Romero spoke out on behalf of the poor and the victimized. In both the abused and the abusers, he saw the image of God, glimpses of Christ, and the dire need for his true humanity. Romero was assassinated in the middle of a church service; fittingly, he was holding up the broken bread of communion, the sign of Christ’s human body, when he died.

In a world with reason to be despairing of humanity, there is still the jarring image of the perfect human, whose only brokenness was at our own hands. Christ is more than someone who came to fix what was wrong. He is the image of all that is right.

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

Alistair Begg – Wisdom in War


But every one of the Israelites went down to the Philistines to sharpen his plowshare, his mattock, his axe or his sickle.   1 Samuel 13:20

 We are engaged in a great war with the Philistines of evil. Every weapon within our reach must be used. Preaching, teaching, praying, giving–all must be brought into action, and talents that have been thought too mean for service must now be employed.

These various tools may all be useful in slaying Philistines; rough tools may deal hard blows, and killing need not be elegantly done, so long as it is done effectually. Each moment of time, in season or out of season; each fragment of ability, educated or untutored; each opportunity, favorable or unfavorable, must be used, for our foes are many and our force but slender.

Most of our tools need sharpening; we need quickness of perception, tact, energy, promptness–in a word, complete adaptation–for the Lord’s work. Practical common sense is a very scarce thing among the conductors of Christian enterprises. We might learn from our enemies if we would, and so make the Philistines sharpen our weapons. This morning let us note enough to sharpen our zeal during this day by the aid of the Holy Spirit.

Witness the energy of some, how they travel over sea and land to make one proselyte–are they to monopolize all the earnestness? Consider what tortures some endure in the service of their idols! Are they alone to exhibit patience and self-sacrifice? Observe the prince of darkness, how persevering in his endeavors, how unabashed in his attempts, how daring in his plans, how thoughtful in his plots, how energetic in all!

The devils are united as one man in their infamous rebellion, while we believers in Jesus are divided in our service of God and scarcely ever work with unanimity. O that from Satan’s infernal industry we may learn to go about like good Samaritans, seeking whom we may bless!

Today’s Bible Reading

The family reading plan for March 2, 2015
* Exodus 13
Luke 16

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

Charles Spurgeon – The allegories of Sarah and Hagar


“These are the two covenants.” Galatians 4:24

Suggested Further Reading: Galatians 3:19-24

Hagar was not intended to be a wife; she never ought to have been anything but a hand-maid to Sarah. The law was never intended to save men: it was only designed to be a hand-maid to the covenant of grace. When God delivered the law on Sinai, it was apart from his ideas that any man would ever be saved by it; he never conceived that men would attain perfection thereby. But you know that the law is a wondrous handmaid to grace. Who brought us to the Saviour? Was it not the law thundering in our ears? We should never have come to Christ if the law had not driven us there; we should never have known sin if the law had not revealed it. The law is Sarah’s handmaid to sweep our hearts, and make the dust fly so that we may cry for blood to be sprinkled so that the dust may be laid. The law is, so to speak, Jesus Christ’s dog, to go after his sheep, and bring them to the shepherd; the law is the thunderbolt which frightens ungodly men, and makes them turn from the error of their ways, and seek after God. Ah! if we know rightly how to use the law, if we understand how to put her in her proper place, and make her obedient to her mistress, then all will be well. But this Hagar will always be wishing to be mistress, as well as Sarah; and Sarah will never allow that, but will be sure to treat her harshly, and drive her out. We must do the same; and let none murmur at us, if we treat the Hagarenes harshly in these days—if we sometimes speak hard things against those who are trusting in the works of the law.

For meditation: God’s law will never have the power to save us (Romans 8:3); but thank God that it points us to a Man who can.

Sermon no. 69
2 March (1856)

John MacArthur –Unlimited Prayer


“Men ought always to pray” (Luke 18:1, KJV).

Prayer should never be limited to certain times, places, or circumstances.

As a child I was taught to pray with my head bowed, eyes closed, and hands folded. Even as a young man I thought that was the only acceptable mode of prayer.

In my seminary days I sang in a quartet that traveled to various churches throughout the United States. The first time I traveled with them we had a prayer meeting in the car, and the driver prayed with his eyes open. All of us were glad he did, but I wondered if God really heard his prayer.

I have since learned that praying with my eyes closed is a helpful way to avoid distractions, but it isn’t mandated in Scripture—nor are most of the other limitations people often place on prayer. For example, some people want to limit prayer to a certain posture, but Scripture tells of people praying while standing, sitting, kneeling, looking upward, bowing down, and lifting up their hands.

Some try to limit prayer to certain times of the day, such as morning or evening. But in the Bible people prayed at all times: morning, evening, three times a day, before meals, after meals, at bedtime, at midnight, day and night, in their youth, in their old age, when troubled, and when joyous.

Similarly, Scripture places no limits on the place or circumstances of prayer. It tells of people praying in a cave, in a closet, in a garden, on a mountainside, by a river, by the sea, in the street, in the Temple, in bed, at home, in the stomach of a fish, in battle, on a housetop, in a prison, in the wilderness, and on a cross.

The point is clear: there is no specific correct mode or kind of prayer, and prayer isn’t limited by your location or circumstances. You are to pray always. That includes any kind of prayer, on any subject, and at any time of the day or night.

Suggestions for Prayer;  Make a list of your current plans, thoughts, and concerns. Have you made each of them a matter of prayer? Commit yourself to sharing every aspect of your life with God.

For Further Study; Read Psalm 136. Note how the Lord is intimately involved in the lives of His people.

Joyce Meyer – Testing the Motive of the Heart


After these events, God tested and proved Abraham and said to him, Abraham! And he said, Here I am. [God] said, Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I will tell you. So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and his son Isaac; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and then began the trip to the place of which God had told him.

– Genesis 22:1-3

I believe God was testing Abraham’s priorities. Isaac had probably become very important to Abraham, so God tested Abraham to see if he would give up Isaac to Him in faith and obedience. When God saw Abraham’s willingness to obey, He provided a ram for Abraham to sacrifice in place of Isaac.

Remember, we all go through tests. As with Abraham, these tests are designed to try, prove, and develop our faith. One of the tests I had to face was, “What if I never have the ministry I’ve dreamed about for so long? What if I never get to minister to more than fifty people at a time? Can I still love God and be happy?”

What about you? If you don’t get whatever it is you want, can you still love God? Will you still serve Him all the days of your life? Or are you just trying to get something from Him? A fine line divides the motives of the heart between selfish and selfless; and we must always make sure we understand which side of the line we are standing on.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The Only Way


“Jesus told him, ‘I am the Way – yes, and the Truth and the life. No one can get to the Father except by means of Me'” (John 14:6).

Dr. Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision, was conducting a great city-wide campaign in Tokyo and asked me to be in charge of the student phase of the crusade. So day after day, for more than a month, I spoke to thousands of students on many campuses, presenting the claims of Christ and challenging the students to receive Him as their Savior and Lord.

Many thousands responded, but occasionally a student would object and say that Jesus had no relevance for the Japanese – that Christianity is for the Westerner, not for the Asian. They were surprised when I reminded them that Jesus was born and reared in and carried out His ministry in the Middle East and that He was in many ways closer to them culturally and geographically that He was to me.

I reminded them, and I want to remind you, that though the Lord Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem and grew up in Nazareth, in what is now Israel, He came to this world to die for all people in all lands.

The Scripture reminds us, “Whosoever will may come.” In addition to coming to Him for salvation, Christians have the privilege of coming to God the Father a thousand times, and more, each day in prayer in the name of Jesus. This is because He is our mediator, unlike anyone else who has ever lived – Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius. No other religious leader died for us and was raised from the dead.

Jesus alone can bridge the great chasm between the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man, because He personally has paid the penalty for our sins. God proved His love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still in our sins.

Bible Reading: John 14:1-5

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will ask the Holy Spirit to examine my heart to see if there be any wicked way in me, so that I can confess and turn from my sin. I will visualize our mediator – the Lord Jesus Christ – seated at the right hand of God making intercession for me. I will also ask the Lord to lead me today to someone who does not yet know our Savior, that I may share with him or her the most joyful news ever announced.

Presidential Prayer Team; J.K.- If…Then


Edmund Burke, orator, author and leader in Great Britain during the time of the Revolutionary War, wrote: “What is liberty without wisdom and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without restraint.” Wisdom is the critical concept. Only when your life is directly in line with God’s viewpoint – when you apply His perspective to your life – can you become wise.

For wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.

Proverbs 2:10

Striving to satisfy your passions and desires without regard to their consequences is a dangerous way to live, both physically and spiritually. The Lord created you with a need for – and the capability of – knowing and understanding Him. If you receive His words…if you hold His truth in your memory…if you search Scripture and ask the Holy Spirit to apply what you have read to what you are experiencing…then wisdom will come into your heart, discretion will watch over you, and understanding will guard you, delivering you from evil (Proverbs 2:1-12).

Let your prayers give life and energy to your study of His Word. Join with others in intercession for America’s leaders, that they might know the true God and be led by His sound wisdom.

Recommended Reading: Psalm 25:4-14

Greg Laurie – A Continual Feast


All the days of the afflicted are evil, But he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast. —Proverbs 15:15

The Bible promises a cheerful heart to the follower of Jesus Christ. Proverbs 15:15 says that “a merry heart has a continual feast,” and Psalm 16:11 tells us that “in [His] presence is fullness of joy; at [His] right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Yet some believers walk around and act as though they’ve been baptized in lemon juice. They are always down about something. Yet the apostle Paul, in the worst circumstances imaginable, said, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). He was effectively saying, “Look, if I can rejoice where I am, then you definitely can rejoice where you are.”

Anyone can rejoice when things are going reasonably well. But when you are facing adversity or hardship or sickness, and you still rejoice, then you are obeying God.

Consider the words of Habakkuk 3:17–18: “Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk didn’t say he would rejoice in his circumstances; he said he would rejoice in the Lord.

That is like saying, “Even when the car has been repossessed, there are unpaid bills piled up on the kitchen counter, and everyone in the family is sick, I’m still going to rejoice in the Lord.”

God is still on the throne. God still loves us. And God has promised that He can work all things together for good to those who love Him. He has also promised that He will never leave or forsake us. So we can rejoice.

Max Lucado – We Have a Problem


Can you live without sin for one day? No? How about one hour? Can you do it?  No…nor can I. And if we can’t live without sin, we have a problem. Proverbs 10:16 says that we are evil and “evil people are paid with punishment.” What can we do? Observe what Jesus does with our filth. He carries it to the Cross.

God speaks in Isaiah 50:6, “I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.” Mingled with His blood and sweat was the essence of our sin. Angels were a prayer away. Couldn’t they have taken the spittle away?  They could have, but Jesus never commanded them to. The One who chose the nails also chose the saliva. Why?  The sinless One took on the face of a sinner, so that we sinners could take on the face of a saint!

From He Chose the Nails