Charles Stanley – The Resurrection: Christ’s Destiny—And Ours

1 Corinthians 15:3-22

Throughout the past week, Christians around the world have contemplated Jesus’ final steps as He made His way to the cross. His humiliation and suffering have broken our hearts, but just beneath the surface lay the expectation of what we knew was coming: He is risen!

The resurrection was the Savior’s destiny—but so was the cross. Jesus came as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29). But did you know that the cross is also God’s ordained destiny for believers? It’s the only way to deal with sin. When Jesus died at Calvary, He bore the punishment for our sins so that everyone who believes in Him can be forgiven and declared “Not Guilty!” From God’s judicial standpoint, we have already been crucified with Christ because the penalty for our sin has been paid. However, salvation doesn’t remove our old sinful thought patterns and desires.

What Christ did in removing the penalty of sin, we must each do personally to overcome the power of sin in our lives. But the cross is the last place we want to go. It not only brings pain, but the road leads through Gethsemane, where we have to say to God, “Not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

Though we long to overcome sin in our life, many of us are unwilling to do what’s required. Yet if we try to avoid the cross, we’ll miss the abundant life God wants to give us. Instead of living in consistent triumph over temptation, we will be on a roller coaster of ups and downs. Each time we fail, we’ll try harder, but there is no way to improve or reform our sinful tendencies. They have to be put to death.

The cross is not the end point. God’s goal is that we “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). Once we nail those old fleshly cravings to the cross, they’ll start to lose their appeal, and our hearts will begin to find delight in obeying the Lord. Just as Christ was raised from the dead, we, too, will find vibrant life and victory beyond our Golgotha.

Ask yourself these questions: What is at the center of my life? What drives me and gives me a sense of purpose? Does anything other than the Holy Spirit have control over me? What am I unwilling to surrender to the Lord? If anything or anyone in your life has priority over Christ, it’s idolatry. Whatever you are holding onto or whatever is holding onto you needs to be taken to the cross. A new life of freedom and power is waiting on the other side of the grave.

—Charles F. Stanley

Our Daily Bread — The Tree Of Love

 

 

 

Read: Matthew 27:27-35
Bible in a Year: Ruth 1-4; Luke 8:1-25

 

[Jesus] bore our sins in His own body on the tree. —1 Peter 2:24

The corkscrew willow tree stood vigil over our backyard for more than 20 years. It shaded all four of our children as they played in the yard, and it provided shelter for the neighborhood squirrels. But when springtime came and the tree didn’t awaken from its winter slumber, it was time to bring it down.

Every day for a week I worked on that tree—first to fell it and then to chop two decades of growth into manageable pieces. It gave me a lot of time to think about trees.

I thought about the first tree—the one on which hung the forbidden fruit that Adam and Eve just couldn’t resist (Gen. 3:6). God used that tree to test their loyalty and trust. Then there’s the tree in Psalm 1 that reminds us of the fruitfulness of godly living. And in Proverbs 3:18, wisdom is personified as a tree of life.

But it is a transplanted tree that is most important—the crude cross of Calvary that was hewn from a sturdy tree. There our Savior hung between heaven and earth to bear every sin of every generation on His shoulders. It stands above all trees as a symbol of love, sacrifice, and salvation.

At Calvary, God’s only Son suffered a horrible death on a cross. That’s the tree of life for us. —Dave Branon

Father, on this day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, we’re grateful for the cross and for Your Son who gave His life so that we might have life. Thank You.

The cross of Christ reveals man’s sin at its worst and God’s love at its best.

INSIGHT: The “garrison” of Roman troops mentioned in verse 27 is a detail that adds to our understanding of the events surrounding Christ’s death. Mark’s account of the same event translates the word as cohort (15:16 NASB). Garrison or cohort was a Roman military term that described a company of soldiers consisting of at least 200 and perhaps as many as 600 men. The same Greek word is used in John 18:3 when a “detachment of troops” comes to arrest Jesus in the garden. Imagine, possibly hundreds of men were sent to arrest Jesus and hundreds gathered around Him when He was tormented.

Alistair Begg – Why Are You Upset?

 

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

Mourning Christian, why are you weeping? Are you mourning over your own sins and failings? Look to your perfect Lord, and remember, you are complete in Him. You are in God’s sight as perfect as if you had never sinned; more than that, the Lord our Righteousness has clothed you with a royal robe of righteousness, which is wholly undeserved–you have the righteousness of God.

You who are mourning by reason of inbred sin and depravity, remember, none of your sins can condemn you. You have learned to hate sin; but you have also learned how that sin is not yours–it was laid upon Christ’s head. Your standing is not in yourself–it is in Christ. Your acceptance is not in yourself, but in your Lord; you are just as accepted by God today, with all your sinfulness, as you will be when you stand before His throne, free from all corruption.

So I urge you, take hold of this precious thought–perfection in Christ! For you are “complete in him.”1 With your Savior’s garment on, you are as holy as the Holy One. “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”2

Christian, let your heart rejoice, for you are “accepted in the beloved”3–what do you have to fear? Keep a smile on your face! Live near your Master; live in the suburbs of the Heavenly City; for soon, when your time has come, you will rise up to where Jesus sits and reign at His right hand; and all because the Lord Jesus was made “to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

1) Colossians 2:10, KJV   2) Romans 8:34    3) Ephesians 1:6

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

Charles Spurgeon – The form and spirit of religion

“Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.” 1 Samuel 4:3

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:13-17

How vain are the hopes that men build upon their good works, and ceremonial observances! How frightful is that delusion which teaches for the gospel a thing which is not “the gospel”, nor “another gospel”; but it is a thing that would pervert the gospel of Christ. Let me ask thee solemnly, what is thy ground of hope? Dost thou rely on baptism? O man, how foolish thou art! What can a few drops of water, put upon an infant’s forehead, do? Some lying hypocrites tell us that children are regenerated by drops of water. What kind of regeneration is that? We have seen people hanged that were regenerated in this fashion. There have been men that have lived all their lives as whoremongers, adulterers, thieves, and murderers, who have been regenerated in their baptism by that kind of regeneration. Oh, be not deceived by a regeneration so absurd, so palpable even to flesh and blood, as one of the lying wonders that have come from hell itself. But maybe thou sayest, “Sir, I rely upon my baptism, in after life.” Ah, my friends, what can washing in water do? As the Lord liveth, if thou trustest in baptism thou trustest in a thing that will fail thee at last. For what is washing in water, unless it is preceded by faith and repentance? We baptize you, not in order to wash away your sins, but because we believe they are washed away beforehand; and if we did not think you believed so, we would not admit you to a participation in that ordinance. But if you will pervert this to your own destruction, by trusting in it, take heed; you are warned this morning. For as “circumcision availeth nothing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature,” so baptism availeth nothing.

For meditation: Baptism is supposed to illustrate the gospel, not to replace it. The command to be baptised follows the new birth, repentance and faith in Christ (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 8:12,36-38; 9:17-18; 10:47-48; 16:14-15,31-34; 18:8).

Sermon no. 186
4 April (1858)

John MacArthur – Being Poor in Spirit

 

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3).

If you are poor in spirit, certain characteristics will mark your life.

The Puritan writer Thomas Watson listed seven ways to determine if you are poor in spirit (The Beatitudes [Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1971], pp. 45-48):

  1. You will be weaned from self—Psalm 131:2 says, “Like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me.” When you are poor in spirit you will focus not on yourself but on glorifying God and ministering to others.
  2. You will focus on Christ—Second Corinthians 3:18 says that believers are “beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, [and] are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” When you are poor in spirit, the wonder of Christ captivates you. To be like Him is your highest goal.
  3. You will never complain—If you are poor in spirit you accept God’s sovereign control over your circumstances, knowing you deserve nothing anyway. Yet the greater your needs, the more abundantly He provides.
  4. You will see good in others—A person who is poor in spirit recognizes his own weaknesses and appreciates the strengths of others.
  5. You will spend time in prayer—It is characteristic of beggars to beg. Therefore you will constantly be in God’s presence seeking His strength and blessing.
  6. You will take Christ on His terms—Those who are poor in spirit will give up anything to please Christ, whereas the proud sinner wants simply to add Christ to his sinful lifestyle.
  7. You will praise and thank God—When you are poor in spirit, you will be filled with praise and thanks for the wonder of God’s grace, which He lavishes on you through Christ (Eph. 1:6).

Do those principles characterize your life? If so, you are poor in spirit and the kingdom of heaven is yours (Matt. 5:3). If not, you must seek God’s forgiveness and begin to live as His humble child.

Suggestions for Prayer; Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart, revealing any attitudes or motives that displease Him. Seek His grace in changing them.

For Further Study; Read 3 John. Would you characterize Gaius as poor in spirit? Diotrephes? Explain.

 

Joyce Meyer – Getting Off to a Good Start

 

Then the Lord said to me, “Arise, begin your journey…” Deuteronomy 10:11 NKJV

One way to love yourself is to keep your physical body in shape, and one of the best ways to do that is to be committed to some kind of exer¬cise. I often say the toughest part of a new exercise program is getting started. Following are some extremely simple ways to begin exercise programs that stick.

  1. A Daily Walk. Something as simple as walking thirty minutes every day is very beneficial for your health. Do what’s manage¬able, not what leaves you gasping!
  2. Indoor Exercise. You can exercise in the privacy of your own home using a video, or you can take an exercise class.
  3. Strength Training. Strengthening your muscles can be done quickly and at home, without any special machines. Sit-ups, push-ups, or lifting simple weights doesn’t take long or cost much, but these things are good for you!
  4. Running or Biking. Running and biking are good options, but riding a bicycle is easier on your joints than running.
  5. Swimming. Swimming provides a good, gentle cardiovascular workout and works many muscle groups at once.

Start slowly, do your best, and keep it up. Soon you’ll find yourself in better shape!

Love Yourself Today: Take care of your physical body through regular exercise, and do something to get yourself off to a good start today.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Your Joy Restored

“Create in me a clean heart, O God: and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy presence: and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation: and uphold me with Thy free Spirit. Then will I teach transgressors Thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto Thee” (Psalm 51:10-13, KJV).

“The Christian owes it to the world to be supernaturally joyful,” said A. W. Tozer.

How do we attain that joy?

When we refuse to exhale spiritually by confessing our sins, we are miserable. On the other hand, when we do confess our sins, we experience God’s complete forgiveness. He removes our guilt and fills our lives with joy, the kind of joy we will very much want to share with others.

The psalmist also knew this when he wrote: “Create in me a new, clean heart, O God, filled with clean thoughts and right desires…Restore to me again the joy of Your salvation, and make me willing to obey You. Then I will teach Your ways to other sinners, and they – guilty like me – will repent and return to You” (Psalm 51:10,12,13).

There was a time when I allowed moods and circumstances to prevent the joyful launching of a new day with the Lord. As a result, I did not feel that close relationship with Him, that beautiful awareness of His presence that comes from fellowship with Him in His Word and in prayer, and through faithful witnessing of His reality to others.

Without that time with Him, there is no joy and the day often begins and continues in the energy of the flesh. There is no personal awareness of God’s presence, and things just seem to go wrong. We can begin every day with that joyful communion with Christ that gives us the assurance of His presence throughout the day. We are the ones who make that choice. God is available; we are the variable.

Bible Reading: Psalm 51:1-9

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will begin this day on my knees, praising and rejoicing in the Lord as an expression of my desire to be with Him. I will read His Word and offer prayers of adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication. I will ask Him to lead me to others whose hearts He has prepared for this same joyful relationship with God.

Presidential Prayer Team; J.K. – Sought After

 

In many instances, Jesus healed maladies immediately with just a word. For the blind beggar, it was different. Christ made mud with dirt and his saliva, put it on the eyes of the man, and told him to go wash in the pool of Siloam. Obeying was not easy, but he did as he was told and received his sight.

One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.

John 9:25

When the Pharisees, the religious leaders, grilled him about how he got healed, he would not be dissuaded. With boldness, he spoke of his healer: “Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” (John 9:32-33) The Pharisees rejected his message and expelled him from the temple. But Jesus sought him out…to encourage him in his faith and to confirm that his healer was the Son of God. (John 9:34-38)

Today, the Lord seeks you out to give comfort and confidence when you go through trials…and when your faith is questioned. Stand boldly and declare His goodness. Then intercede for this nation and its leaders that they may seek Jesus and believe in Him as their Lord and Savior.

Recommended Reading: Isaiah 55:6-13

Greg Laurie – Are We Victims of Fate or Does God Have a Plan?

 

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die.”—Ecclesiastes 3:1–2

It has been said that men talk of killing time while time quietly kills them. According to the Bible, we live our lives for a certain period of time—not a moment longer and not a moment shorter.

Solomon wrote, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot” (Ecclesiastes 3:1–2). The problem is that we spend a lot of our lives doing things we would rather not be doing. For example, the average American will watch 1,700 hours of television every year. We have control over some of these things, but not all of them.

  1. S. Lewis said, “The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.” We live by time. But God lives in the eternal realm. His interpretation of time is quite different than ours. He has His own timing.

As we get older, we eventually realize that many of the bad times will, in retrospect, turn out to be good times. It is through those so-called bad times that we will learn some of life’s most important lessons.

If I decided how my day would go, I would never experience crisis. But we are not in charge of our own lives. God is. And He will let “bad” things happen. But as time goes by, you will find the important lessons you have learned in life did not come from the good times. They came from those times of crisis when perhaps you were more dependent on God.

As Solomon observed, there is a season for everything. We are not victims of the fickle finger of fate or dumb luck. If you are a Christian, then you have come into God’s providence, which means that He will guide and direct your steps. It means that your times are in His hands.

Streams in the Desert for Kids -You Are Worth More than Flowers

 

Matthew 6:30–33, The Message

Have you ever wandered deep into the woods and found a beautiful flower blooming there? Ever wondered who, besides you, will ever see that beautiful flower? Jesus talked about that. He said that God gives a flower so much beauty and detail and then he may put it in a place where no one ever sees it. Why? It is because God makes everything perfect whether or not anyone notices. Everything he makes has a purpose. You have a purpose. And he didn’t make any mistakes when he made you. Even if you sometimes feel like you are hidden in the woods where no one notices you, God has a purpose for your life.

Because you are his child, God will take care of all your needs. Jesus told the people of his time to stop worrying about everything. He told them that God knew they needed certain things to live. He said that if God dressed the flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, God will certainly take care of his children—that includes you—who are much more important to him than flowers.

If you can understand that God loves you and wants to take care of you, life will be a lot easier. God knows what you need. God knows what your family needs. Count on the fact that God knows, and trust him.

Dear Lord, I know you love me and that you care about my needs. Help me to trust you to take care of me and my family. Amen.

Discovering God’s Design – It Is Finished

 

Mark 15:33–39

And with Jesus’ last cry, redemptive history reached a watershed. The apostle John added that Jesus said, “It is finished” (Jn 19:30). Jesus had fulfilled God’s plan that the Father had “purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (Eph 1:9–10). Stewardship theologian A. C. Conrad comments:

When, in the far reaches of the past, God planned the creation of the world and man, he did so in connection with his Son, the revealed oikonomos, or steward … It is evident in this passage [in Eph 1:9–10] and others that the entire plan of the ages and scheme of redemption was in the mind of God in the far distant past … The essence and heart of God’s purpose is revealed in the redemptive work of Christ. [The kinship between God and humanity] is established in the presence of his Son upon the earth and fully sealed through his sacrificial death upon the cross.

In his death Jesus became the great high priest, fulfilling all the requirements of the old law, interceding between God and humans “once for all when he offered himself” (Heb 7:27). Says stewardship theologian T. A. Kantonen (1900–1993):

He is the High Priest who laid down his life on the altar of the Cross to redeem us from sin and death. He defines the central purpose of his mission thus: “[The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many]” [Mt 20:28]. Redemption presupposes that man is a sinner and as such he is cut off from the power to carry out the tasks growing out of that son ship.

Kantonen goes on to explain the ramifications of Jesus’ redemptive work for stewardship:

Those who accept the gospel of forgiveness in faith receive the power to become not only God’s trustees but also his children. The motive for their action is grateful love; the more livingly we know him who loved us and gave himself for us the more completely we give ourselves to him. And because genuine love is “[not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth]” (1Jn 3:18), we shoulder the responsibilities of Christian stewardship.

In the death of Christ on the cross, not only humanity, but indeed all creation is set free from bondage (see Ro 8:20–23); Christ’s redemptive work establishes his victory over all the powers in this world opposed to his purposes. These are at work in individual sinners and in the world’s systems to produce injustice, lawlessness, cruelty, faithlessness, greed, jealousy and death. God is liberating his people by redeeming them and his creation from individual sins and from the dominion of darkness (see Col 1:19–20).

Think About It

  • How was the passion of Jesus a part of God’s plan even before creation?
  • In what ways was Jesus a steward?
  • What is your response to Jesus’ redemptive and liberating work?

Pray About It

Lord, thank you for your perfect plan for the world and for me.