Charles Stanley – The Problem of Pride


1 Samuel 13:1-14

Pride is a condition that’s common to all mankind. Poverty won’t protect us from it. Neither will age, ability, or experience.

Consider Saul, whom the prophet Samuel revealed was God’s chosen leader for the nation of Israel. Scripture describes Saul as an impressive and handsome young man without equal among the Israelites (1 Sam. 9:2). This description seems fitting for the nation’s first royal leader. In his new position, Saul was to follow the Lord’s instructions for that role. He was promised that the Holy Spirit would come upon him and powerfully provide help (10:6-7).

Our Father treats us in a similar way. He’s chosen us to belong to His family, and He has a plan for our lives, with special work for each of us to do (Eph. 2:10). The Holy Spirit dwells within us so He can guide and empower us to carry out divine plans. Our part is to obey.

To be successful, Saul needed to remember several things. First, any authority he had came from God. In addition, his responsibilities included executing the Lord’s plan, leading the people by example, and obeying divine commands. Like so many of us today, Saul acted as if he were in charge rather than the Lord. He allowed the pressure of the situation to take precedence over obedience. Because of pride, he broke God’s law and exercised priestly responsibilities that were not rightly his.

Our Father wants us to deal with our pride by humbling ourselves before Him, confessing our sin, and seeking His help in overcoming it.

Our Daily Bread – A Gift Of Hope



Read: Judges 13:1-7
Bible in a Year: Joshua 4-6; Luke 1:1-20


He shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. —Judges 13:5

When a powerful typhoon swept through the city of Tacloban, Philippines, in 2013, an estimated 10,000 people died, and many who survived found themselves homeless and jobless. Necessities became scarce. Three months later, while the town was still struggling to dig itself out from the destruction, a baby was born on a roadside near Tacloban amid torrents of rain and strong wind. Although the weather brought back painful memories, residents worked together to find a midwife and transport the mother and newborn to a clinic. The baby survived, thrived, and became a symbol of hope during a time of despair.

Forty years of Philistine oppression marked a grim period in Israel’s national history. During this time, an angel informed an Israelite woman that she would give birth to a special son (Judg. 13:3). According to the angel, the baby would be a Nazirite—a man set apart to God—and would “begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines” (v.5). The infant, Samson, was a gift of hope born in a troubled time.

Trouble is unavoidable, yet Jesus has the power to rescue us from despair. Christ was born “to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet in the way of peace” (Luke 1:76-79). —Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Lord, help me to see beyond my circumstances and put my hope in You. All authority and power are Yours. Remind me of Your goodness, and let me rest in Your love.

Jesus is the hope that calms life’s storms.

INSIGHT: Samson was set apart as “a Nazirite to God” even before he was born (vv. 5,7).Nazirite means “dedicated” or “consecrated.” Numbers 6:1-21 sets out the requirements for those who were Nazirites. Besides Samson, other well-known Nazirites in the Bible are Samuel (1 Sam. 1:11) and John the Baptist (Luke 1:15).

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Shaming the King


The passion narrative of John, the writer’s witness to the events leading up to the cross, often seems like something of a game of push and shove. The push and pull of an honor and shame culture, where all behavior and interaction either furthers one’s vital position of shame or honor in society, is unquestionably at work here: both in the various characters of stories Jesus tells and in the minds of the audience John is addressing. John offers repeated scenes in his narrative that comparably seem to suggest the coming reversal of honor and shame, with Jesus hinting among the poor and the powerful that power may not be all they believe it to be.

Yet Jesus himself is still clearly shamed, and shamed profoundly. Shame in such a culture included public rejection, abandonment, humiliation, and victimization—all of which factor heavily in the passion narrative, and John doesn’t want us to miss it. Shaming also occurs when blood is intentionally spilled, when one is beaten, especially in public, there being no higher shame than being killed; and the shame of death on a Roman cross is the vilest of all. All of this is the passion of Jesus. While there are undoubtedly scenes where he seems to take himself out of these systems of honor and shame, suggesting a different system entirely, Jesus is just as often, and profoundly so, on the losing end when the theme is in play. In something of a parabolic push and shove of words, there always seems much going on under the surface of John’s passion narrative:

“Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. And Pilate said to the Jews, ‘Here is your King!’”

To the pull and push of shame and honor, John adds the telling theme of insider and outsider. Insight of Jesus’s kingship is placed in the mouths of various players, portraying one further in or outside of the kingdom. John is intent throughout his gospel on the revelation of Jesus as king, clearly a title and position of honor. But it is also true that throughout his gospel this kingship is understood by some and completely missed by others, at times in the same instance. Kingship is seen ironically in thorned crowns and purple robes, and paradoxically in lowly but good shepherds. Even the phrase “King of the Jews” in the passion narrative itself is an example of how the same title can be used both with the thrust of honor and glory for some and the intent of shame and ridicule for others; with both an eschatological vision and with a vision clouded by human jockeying for power and position—simultaneously. Behind this common usage is the reality that there are all around Jesus those who see like the blind man in John 9 and those who do not see like the chief priests and Roman authorities, those who either do not know or falsely think they know.(1) Thus to outsiders, Jesus’s blood is shamefully spilled, and in his death there is neither hope of retribution nor satisfaction for this shameful king. But to those who see Jesus’s hour at hand in the passion, the blood spilled is done so as the kingly good shepherd who has just laid down his life for his friends—honorably, wrenchingly.

In the vile shame of death on a cross rests a peculiar beauty, an invitation even within our own dismissals: Here is your King.

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

(1) Cf. John 3:8; 8:14; 9:29 and John 6:41-42; 7:27-28.

Alistair Begg – My beloved. Song of Songs 2:8


This was a golden name that the ancient church in her most joyous moments ascribed to the Anointed of the Lord. When the time of the singing of birds was come, and the voice of the turtledove was heard in her land, the church’s love-note was sweeter than either, as she sang, “My beloved is mine, and I am his; he grazes among the lilies.” Ever in her song of songs she calls Him by that delightful name, “my beloved.” Even in the long winter, when idolatry had withered the garden of the Lord, her prophets found space to lay aside the burden of the Lord for a little season and to say, “Let me sing for my beloved my love song concerning his vineyard.”

Though the saints had never seen His face, though as yet He was not made flesh, nor had dwelt among us, nor had man beheld His glory, yet He was the consolation of Israel, the hope and joy of all the chosen, the “beloved” of all those who were upright before the Most High. We, in the summer days of the church, are also able to speak of Christ as the best beloved of our soul and to feel that He is very precious, the “distinguished among ten thousand, and altogether desirable.”

Since the church loves Jesus and claims Him as her beloved, the apostle dares to defy the whole universe to separate her from the love of Christ and declares that neither tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, or the sword have been able to do it; nay, he joyously boasts, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”1

My sole possession is Thy love;
In earth beneath, or heaven above,
I have no other store;
And though with fervent heart I pray,
And plead with Thee day after day,
I ask for nothing more.

1) Romans 8:37

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

Charles Spurgeon – Weak hands and feeble knees


“Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.” Isaiah 35:3

Suggested Further Reading: Ezekiel 34:1-16

In all flocks there must be lambs, and weak and wounded sheep, and among the flock of men, it seems that there must necessarily be some who should more than others prove the truth of Job’s declaration, “man is born to trouble, even as the sparks fly upwards.” It is the duty then of those of us who are more free than others from despondency of spirit, to be very tender to these weak ones. Far be it from the man of courageous disposition, of stern resolve, and of unbending purpose, to be hard towards those who are timid and despairing. If we have a lion-like spirit, let us not imitate the king of beasts in his cruelty to those timid fallow deer that fly before him, but let us place our strength at their service for their help and protection. Let us with downy fingers bind up the wounded heart; with oil and wine let us nourish their fainting spirits. In this battle of life, let the unwounded warriors bear their injured comrades to the rear, bathe their wounds, and cover them from the storm of war. Be gentle with those that are despondent. Alas, it is not every man that has learned this lesson. There are some who deal with others with rough-handed thoughtlessness. “Ah,” they say, “if such a one be so foolish as to be sensitive let him be.” O speak not thus; to be sensitive, timid, and despondent, is ill enough in itself, without our being hard and harsh towards those who are so afflicted. Go forth, and “do to others as ye would that they should do to you” and as ye would that others should in your hours of despondency deal with you tenderly and comfortably, so deal tenderly and comfortably with them.

For meditation: It is not very clever to add insult to injury. “Don’t be so silly; cheer up, it may never happen,” is not much help to someone when it has already happened! God has told us what to do with the weak (Romans 12:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:14).

Sermon no. 243
20 March (1859)

John MacArthur – Building God’s Kingdom


“Thy kingdom come” (Matt. 6:10).

Conversion to Christ involves three elements: invitation, repentance, and commitment.

Someday Christ will return to earth to reign in His kingdom. In the meantime He rules in the hearts of those who love Him.

Before He ascended into heaven, Jesus gave us a mandate to evangelize the lost and teach them His Word (Matt. 28:19- 20). When we do, sinners are converted and transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of Christ (Col. 1:13). That’s how His kingdom grows.

Conversion is a work of the Spirit in the heart of unbelievers. He uses a myriad of people and circumstances to accomplish that work, but common to every true conversion are three key elements: invitation, repentance, and commitment.

In Matthew 22:1-14 Jesus, by way of a parable, invites people to come into His kingdom. As an evangelist, you too should not only present the gospel, but also invite others to respond to what they’ve heard.

In Mark 1:14-15 we read, “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.'” Repentance is feeling sorrow over your sin and turning from it (2 Cor. 7:9-11).

True repentance results in a commitment to respond to the righteous demands of the gospel. In Mark 12:34 Jesus says to a wise scribe, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” The scribe had all the information necessary for entering the kingdom. What he lacked was a commitment to act on what he knew. Luke 9:62 says, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” You might know everything about the kingdom, but Christ’s rule is not established in your heart until you’ve made a complete commitment to it.

When you pray for Christ’s kingdom to come, you are praying an evangelistic prayer that you take part in answering. Be faithful to proclaim the gospel and make intercession for unbelievers a regular part of your prayers.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Pray for unbelieving family and friends.
  • Ask the Lord for the opportunity to share Christ with an unbeliever today.

For Further Study

Read John 4.

  • How did Jesus broach the subject of salvation with the Samaritan woman?
  • Did He extend an invitation to her? Explain.
  • How did the townspeople react to her report about Jesus?

Joyce Meyer – Why This Negativity?


However, I am telling you nothing but the truth when I say it is profitable (good, expedient, advantageous) for you that I go away. Because if I do not go away, the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you [into close fellowship with you]; but if I go away, I will send Him to you [to be in close fellowship with you]. And when He comes, He will convict and convince the world and bring demonstration to it about sin and about righteousness (uprightness of heart and right standing with God) and about judgment. – John 16:7-8

Years ago, I sat at a table with six public speakers. All of them had been in the ministry longer than I had, but God had given me more outward success than the others.

As the conversation went on, I realized I was doing most the talking telling one story after another. They all smiled, and no one acted as if they resented my dominating.

Afterward, I thought about my behavior. I had done nothing wrong, but I realized I had controlled the conversation, and I felt the Holy Spirit convict me. Although I wasn’t aware of it at the time, in retrospect, I realized that I had been rude and selfish by dominating the conversation. Taking control that’s what I had done.

Perhaps I was insecure and didn’t want them to see me as anything but confident and able. I may have talked too much because I was nervous with my peers. Perhaps I was just so full of myself that all I wanted to do was talk about myself, and what I was doing. A truly loving person is interested in others and always draws them into the conversation. I realize now that I wasn’t operating in love back in those days.

Most of the time, I stayed so busy talking about myself and my ministry that I never faced what was wrong inside me. I felt a little nudge from the Holy Spirit frequently, but I never really stopped to pay much attention.

Instead of looking at our own shortcomings and failures, we often focus on other people and what we think is wrong with them. That’s easier and less painful. As long as we can keep the focus on other people, we don’t have to examine our own hearts. It’s not calculated, and I’m sure most of us are not aware of the reasons for our being negative. That’s also why negativity is so difficult to deal with. We undermine Satan’s attempt to establish a stronghold in our minds when we admit, “God, I’m a pessimistic person.” That’s the beginning.

Then we cry out to the Holy Spirit to search our hearts. Jesus said of Him, … He will convict and convince the world and bring demonstration to it about sin and about righteousness (uprightness of heart and right standing with God) and about judgment (John 16:8). Too often, we read the word world and smile. Yes, that’s for those sinners, those people who don’t know Jesus. That’s true, but it’s only partially true, because we also live in the world.

We as God’s people need that conviction, as well. We need the Holy Spirit to probe deeply inside us and help us grasp why we’re afflicted with negative thinking. We probably know many nonbelievers who are naturally optimistic, and who never speak badly about others. Satan already has control of their minds, so he doesn’t even tempt them to be negative.

Think of it this way: Satan attacks us where we’re weak. Perhaps this will help explain what I mean. More than 100 years ago, William Sheldon began to study human body types and classified them as distinct types. His research indicated that all of us are prone toward certain types of physical diseases. Those with the pear shaped figure are more prone to heart problems and high blood pressure. I have a rail-thin friend, and when she gets sick, she comes down with a lung infection or bronchitis. She’s in her seventies, has a healthy heart, and is otherwise healthy but she has weak lungs.

Let’s apply that principle to the spiritual realm. All of us have weaknesses some of us are prone to pessimism, some to lying or gossip, others are by nature more deceptive. It’s not which person is worse, because all of us have our own weaknesses to conquer. We need the Holy Spirit to point out these shortcomings.

Just because those are the natural places for Satan’s attacks doesn’t mean we can do nothing about them. Only as the Spirit convicts us can He deliver us from satanic attacks. That’s why Jesus sent the Holy Spirit the Helper because He helps us in our vulnerable places.

Holy Spirit of God, forgive me for thinking I can deliver myself. Don’t allow Satan to take advantage of my vulnerability, but deliver me so that I may be more fully given to You and used by You. I ask this through the name of my Savior, Jesus. Amen.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Praise Brings Blessings


“Go through His open gates with great thanksgiving; enter His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and bless His name. For the Lord is always good. He is always loving and kind, and His faithfulness goes on and on to each succeeding generation” (Psalm 100:4.5).

I would like to suggest several reasons why I believe praising God is so important in the life of the believer.

First, God is truly worthy of praise. He is worthy of praise because of who He is and because of all He has done for us. The psalmist reminds us, “Praise the Lord! Yes, really praise Him! I will praise Him as long as I live, yes, even with my dying breath” (Psalm 146:1,2).

We praise God for who He is and for His attributes – His love, His sovereignty, His wisdom, His power, His greatness, goodness and compassion, His faithfulness, His holiness and His eternal, unchanging nature.

These and other characteristics of God are described in many passages. Three of my favorites are Isaiah 40, Psalm 139 and Psalms 145-150.

Second, we praise God for His benefits to us. Though too numerous to mention, some of them are expressed in Psalm 103.

No wonder the psalmist concluded this list of great benefits by calling upon all who read this passage, “Let everything everywhere bless [praise] Him too!”

Yes, we are to praise God first of all because of who He is, and then we are to praise Him for His blessings to us. We should never take for granted the benefits we enjoy as a result of belonging to Him.

Bible Reading: Psalm 103:1-8

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Praise toward God throughout the day will be on my lips as I recall His many attributes and all His benefits to me.

Presidential Prayer Team; C.H. – Pulling Up Roots


The playwright William Shakespeare once said, “If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?” The desire to inflict punishment on those who have wronged us is human nature.

Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.

Proverbs 20:22

But psychologists suggest that revenge, while perhaps sweet at first, eventually causes unhappiness and a cycle of retaliation. Today’s passage offers biblical advice for anger with your fellow man. Let God handle retribution. He is the only one with the right to judge. It’s easy to allow resentment to take root, so choose unity with your neighbor instead.

“You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18) Ask God to help you forgive wrongs and embrace grace as you draw close to the One who pours grace into your own life. Pray, too, for your national leaders to respond with kindness when they are wronged. May they exchange their vengeance for peace and come to know the ultimate peace giver.

Recommended Reading: Romans 13:8-14

Greg Laurie – Why Pray?


Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. —Ephesians 6:18

To be a growing Christian, you must have a prayer life. And what is prayer? Simply put, it is communicating with and listening to God.

There isn’t one method or one posture for prayer that is more legitimate than another. The main thing is to pray. Writing to the believers in Ephesus, the apostle Paul said, “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere” (Ephesians 6:18).

You can pray publicly. You can pray privately. You can pray verbally. You can pray silently. You can pray while you’re kneeling, standing, sitting, lying down, or even while you’re driving (but keep your eyes open). You can lift your eyes to heaven and pray, or you can close your eyes and bow your head and pray. You can pray in any position at any time in any place.

As we look in the pages of the Bible, we see Daniel praying in a lion’s den, David praying in a field, and Peter praying while he walked on the water—and while he was in the water. Jonah prayed from the belly of a whale. So surely God will hear your prayer wherever you are. The main thing is that you are always praying.

The apostle Paul told the Thessalonian Christians, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18). That means we should pray in the morning. We should pray in the afternoon. We should pray in the evening. We should pray when we rise. We should pray before we go to bed at night. We are to constantly pray and bring our needs before God. There is no substitute for prayer.


Max Lucado – My God, My God


On Calvary’s Hill, Christ lifts his heavy head toward the heavens crying out, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani”—that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). We would ask the same. Why him? Why forsake your son? Forsake the murderers. Desert the evildoers. Turn your back on the perverts and peddlers of pain. Abandon them, not him.

What did Christ feel on the cross? The icy displeasure of a sin-hating God. Why? Because Jesus carried our sins in His body. With hands nailed open, he invited God, “Treat me as you would treat them.” And God did. In an act that broke the heart of the Father, yet honored the holiness of heaven, sin-purging judgment flowed over the sinless Son of the ages.

My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Why did God scream those words? So you’ll never have to!

From On Calvary’s Hill