Charles Stanley – Listening With Purpose

1 Samuel 3:1-10

Yesterday we learned about hearing the Word with eagerness and attentiveness. Now, let’s think about approaching the Bible purposefully, expectantly, and prayerfully.

Christians study the Scriptures not just individually but also corporately to learn more about God. Underlying this simple concept is a big challenge. To gain biblical knowledge with purpose means deciding in our heart to obey what we hear (Ps. 119:33). And to do so expectantly means believing that the Lord is going to speak to us (25:4). Sermons, Bible study lessons, and quiet times on our own should be a part of our life. God uses these to build us up, strengthen us, or offer us comfort—so listening to Him is worthwhile. And obedience is the only proper response to this kind of personal attention.

Approaching the reading of Scripture prayerfully prepares our hearts to listen and ushers in an attitude of purpose and expectancy. Today’s passage tells the story of young Samuel’s first encounter with God. The priest Eli gives the boy valuable advice—that when the Lord calls, he should say, “Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening” (v. 9). Pray those simple words with conviction before you open your Bible, and you will hear God more clearly.

If you want to experience God working in your life, come to Scripture with a prayerful, expectant, purpose-filled attitude. Mourners are comforted. The weary gain strength. Those convicted of their sin repent and know peace. Recognize what a gift God’s Word is.

Our Daily Bread — Firm Foundation

 

 

 

Read: Matthew 7:21-27
Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 7-9; Luke 9:18-36

 

Whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock. —Matthew 7:24

Earthquakes are prevalent in the Pacific Rim region known as the “Ring of Fire.” Ninety percent of the world’s earthquakes and 81 percent of the world’s largest earthquakes occur there. I learned that many buildings in the city of Hong Kong have been built on granite, which could help minimize damage in the event of an earthquake. The foundation of buildings is especially important in earthquake-prone regions of the world.

Jesus Christ told His followers that a stable foundation is critical in building lives. He said, “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock” (Matt. 7:24-25). The foundation of Jesus Christ is what will give us the stability our hearts and lives need now and into the future.

By allowing the Lord’s wisdom to guide us in our relationships, decisions, and priorities, we find that He provides the most trustworthy foundation any life could be built upon. —Bill Crowder

Gracious Father, You are the Lord God, the King of heaven, and I choose to place my hope in You because You alone are worthy of my trust.

Jesus is the best foundation upon which to build a solid life.

INSIGHT: Here, at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus returns to a theme He had already discussed earlier in this message—the Father’s will. In Matthew 6:9-13 Jesus teaches His followers the “model prayer,” which begins with “Our Father” and continues with “Your will be done.” The Father is the object of our worship and devotion, and in everything we want His purposes to be fulfilled.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Everyday Easter

 

There is a great amount of anticipation leading up to Easter Sunday. Even for those who are “Christmas and Easter” church-goers, or for those who simply sit at home and dream of Easter baskets, chocolate rabbits, and colored eggs, anticipating Easter, on the one hand, is like waiting for the door to finally be unlocked, unhinged and opened onto a verdant spring meadow. On the other hand, Easter is stepping out onto that meadow and closing the door behind on the long, cold, dreary winter.

Yet, for many, the day comes and goes and then what? Easter is over again until next year. In some parts of the world, winter still hovers above and the grey of death has not given way to the springtime. The candy is eaten, the brunches are over, and everything seems to return to normal. All that anticipation ends in just one day—with grand celebrations and powerful sermons, and perhaps with even a first playful roll in the springtime grass—and then it’s over. Or is it?

The celebration of Easter is insignificant if the celebrations do not point to the continuing reality of the Risen Lord. Indeed, in many church traditions, the season of Eastertide which lasts until Pentecost asks this very question of those who lead congregations into continual contemplation of the resurrection until the day of Pentecost: how do we perceive the continuing presence of the risen Lord in our reality? Indeed, how do we? Is it simply the annual remembrance of a historic event from long ago?

If we’re honest, many of us do wonder what difference the resurrection has made in the practical realities of our lives. We still argue with our spouses and loved ones; we still have children who go their own way. We have difficulties at work or at school. We still see a world so broken by warfare, selfish greed, oppression and sin. Like the two men on the road to Emmaus recounting the events surrounding Jesus, perhaps we wonder aloud: “But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21a). Things seem pretty much as they were before Easter Sunday, and the reality of our same old lives still clamor for redemption.

This is often the way we feel if we have only understood resurrection as an event long past that only speaks to a future yet to come. We feel this way if we do not connect Jesus’s prayer for God’s will to be done “on earth as it is in heaven” with the reality of the cry, “He is risen, as he said.” The glimpse into the kingdom of God that we get in the life and ministry of Jesus is ratified through the resurrection. New creation, new life, resurrected living is now a possibility for those who follow Jesus.

The risen Jesus told his followers, “As the Father has sent me, I also send you” (John 20:21). Jesus’s resurrection is not a promise for escape from the world, or a life free from trouble, but rather it commissions those who would remember his resurrection to be his ‘raising’ agents in the world. He sends us out with the extraordinary news that the dead can be raised to new life for death and evil do not have the last word! And as we begin to live in light of the resurrection, we can gain insight into its significance for the practical realities of everyday lives. As N.T. Wright has concluded: “Jesus is raised, so he is the Messiah, and therefore he is the world’s true Lord; Jesus is raised, so God’s new creation has begun—and we, his followers, have a job to do! Jesus is raised, so we must act as his heralds, announcing his lordship to the entire world, making his kingdom come on earth as in heaven.”(1)

We are sent out beyond Easter Sunday into Eastertide because everything has changed. As we live into and out of the resurrection, we demonstrate the continuing presence of the risen Lord in our lives and in this world.

Margaret Manning Shull is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Bellingham, Washington.

(1) N.T. Wright, Surprised By Hope (New York: Harper Collins, 2008), 56.

(2) Artwork included in this essay is the work of Ben May Media, http://www.benmaymedia.zenfolio.com. Used by permission.

 

Alistair Begg – A Mournful List of Honors

 

O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? Psalm 4:2

An instructive writer has made a mournful list of the honors that the blinded people of Israel awarded to their long-expected King.

  1. They gave Him a procession of honor, in which Roman legionaries, Jewish priests, and men and women took part, He Himself bearing His cross. This is the triumph that the world awards to Him who comes to overthrow man’s greatest enemy. Derisive shouts are His only acclamations, and cruel taunts His only songs of praise.
  2. They presented Him with the wine of honor. Instead of a golden cup of generous wine, they offered Him the criminal’s anesthetic potion, which He refused in order that he might, in all its unmitigated horror, taste death; and afterwards when He cried, “I thirst,” they gave Him vinegar mixed with gall, thrust to His mouth upon a sponge. What wretched, detestable inhospitality to the King’s Son.
  3. He was provided with a guard of honor, who showed their esteem of Him by gambling over His clothes, which they had seized as their treasure. The bodyguard of Jesus was a quaternion of brutal gamblers.
  4. A throne of honor was found for Him upon the bloody tree. The cross was, in fact, the full expression of the world’s feeling toward Him. “There,” they seemed to say, “you Son of God, this is the manner in which God Himself should be treated, could we reach Him.”
  5. The title of honor was nominally “King of the Jews,” but this was distinctly repudiated. They really called Him “King of thieves” by preferring Barabbas and by placing Jesus in the place of highest shame between two thieves. In this way His glory was turned into shame by the sons of men, but it shall nevertheless still gladden the eyes of saints and angels, world without end.

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

 

Charles Spurgeon – The tomb of Jesus

 

“Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” Matthew 28:6

Suggested Further Reading: John 20:1-10

Come, Christian, for angels are the porters to unbar the door; come, for a cherub is thy messenger to usher thee into the death-place of death himself. Nay, start not from the entrance; let not the darkness frighten thee; the vault is not damp with the vapours of death, nor does the air contain anything of contagion. Come, for it is a pure and healthy place. Fear not to enter that tomb. I will admit that catacombs are not the places where we, who are full of joy, would love to go. There is something gloomy and offensive about a vault. There are noxious smells of corruption; often pestilence is born where a dead body has lain; but fear it not, Christian, for Christ was not left in hell,in hades,neither did his body see corruption. Come, there is no foul smell, but rather a perfume. Step in here, and, if thou didst ever breathe the gales of Ceylon, or winds from the groves of Arabia, thou shalt find them far excelled by that sweet holy fragrance left by the blessed body of Jesus, that alabaster vase which once held divinity, and was rendered sweet and precious thereby. Think not thou shalt find anything obnoxious to thy senses. Corruption Jesus never saw; no worms ever devoured his flesh; no rottenness ever entered into his bones; he saw no corruption. Three days he slumbered, but not long enough to putrify; he soon arose, perfect as when he entered, uninjured as when his limbs were composed for their slumber. Come then, Christian, summon up thy thoughts, gather all thy powers; here is a sweet invitation, let me press it again. Let me lead thee by the hand of meditation, my brother; let me take thee by the arm, and let me again say to thee, “Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”

For meditation: “Come, see …. Go …and tell.” (Matthew 28:6,7).

Sermon no. 18
7 April (Preached 8 April 1855—Easter)

John MacArthur –Maintaining Spiritual Sensitivity

 

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4).

Sin is a serious issue with God. He never winks at it or takes it lightly.

Satan desires to desensitize Christians to the heinousness of sin. He wants you to stop mourning over sin and start enjoying it. Impossible? Many who once thought so have fallen prey to its power. It usually doesn’t happen all at once. In fact, the process can be slow and subtle— almost imperceptible. But the results are always tragic.

How can you remain alert to the dangers of sin and protect yourself from compromise? First, be aware of your sin. David said, “My sin is ever before me” (Ps. 51:3). Isaiah cried out, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips” (Isa. 6:5). Peter said to Jesus, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (Luke 5:8). Paul called himself the chief of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). Those men shared a common awareness of their own sinfulness and it drove them to God for forgiveness and cleansing.

Second, remember the significance of the cross. If you allow a pattern of sin to develop in your life, you’ve forgotten the enormous price Christ paid to free you from its bondage.

Third, realize the effect sin has on others. The psalmist said, “My eyes shed streams of water, because they do not keep Thy law” (Ps. 119:136). Jesus mourned over Jerusalem, saying, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling” (Matt. 23:37). Your heart should ache for those enslaved to sin.

Finally, eliminate anything that hinders your sensitivity to sin, such as deliberately sinning, rejecting God’s forgiveness, being proud, presuming on God’s grace, or taking sin lightly. Such things will quickly dull your spiritual senses and give Satan the opportunity to lead you into greater sin.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God that He brings comfort and happiness to those who mourn over their sin.
  • Ask Him to guard your heart from anything that will diminish your sensitivity to the awfulness of sin.

For Further Study

Read 1 Samuel 15.

  • What was Saul’s sin?
  • Did he mourn over his sin? Explain.

Joyce Meyer – The Faith Connection

 

. . . As [Jesus] was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, a son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, saying, Jesus, Son of David, have pity and mercy on me [now]! Mark 10:46-47

The Word of God tells us that our faith—our positive, hopeful expectation—pleases God (see Hebrews 11:6), and several times in the Gospels, we see that Jesus was moved to act because of the faith—the expectations—of those He encountered (see Matthew 9:29, Mark 5:34, Luke 7:50, and Luke 17:19). One such miracle is found in Mark chapter 10. I love this story, and I think it has great relevance for you and me today because it’s all about the importance of expectation.

If you think about it, Bartimaeus had every reason to expect the worst. He was a blind beggar who sat by the roadside every day, trying to survive on spare change. He was living a very difficult life, and if anybody was going to tone down his level of expectation, you would think it would be Bartimaeus. He could have thought This is useless. It won’t work. Nothing’s going to change. Jesus probably won’t even notice me. Why get my hopes up? No one would have blamed him.

But Bartimaeus dared to hope for something greater in life. He started to think about what might happen instead of what might not happen. There was nothing “toned down” about his level of expectation as he began to shout with all of his might, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity and mercy on me [now]!” Can you hear the insistence in his voice? It’s as if Bartimaeus had decided there was absolutely no way he was going to miss this chance. Even though many in the crowd “censured and reproved him, telling him to keep still” (see Mark 10:48), Bartimaeus would not be quieted. He shouted louder and louder until Jesus stopped and called for him.

Here is one of the most amazing parts of this story: When Bartimaeus was brought to Jesus, the Lord asked him an almost unthinkable question. In verse 51, Jesus said to this blind beggar, What do you want Me to do for you?

That seems like a strange question, doesn’t it? The disciples may have been thinking What do you want me to do for you? Lord, isn’t it obvious? The man is blind. How can You ask him that? But Jesus was asking something deeper—He was asking Bartimaeus: What are you expecting? Are you only expecting a meal? Are you wanting someone to lead you around by the hand? Are you merely expecting a handout?All of those things were certainly things Bartimaeus needed, and if he was living with little faith, he may have settled for one of those things.

But Bartimaeus had a greater level of expectation. When Jesus asked, What do you want Me to do for you? Bartimaeus didn’t hesitate, he didn’t have to think about it, he didn’t wonder if he was asking for too much. Bartimaeus boldly said, Master, let me receive my sight. You probably know the rest of the story. Jesus was greatly moved by Bartimaeus’ faith. Verse 52 says: And Jesus said to him, Go your way; your faith has healed you. And at once he received his sight and accompanied Jesus on the road.

Because Bartimaeus was bold enough to believe for God’s best, that is exactly what he received from the Lord. The same is true in your life, and this is why the level of your expectation is so important to the kind of life you’re going to live. If you don’t expect God to do anything great in your life, He won’t. But if you dare to raise your level of expectation and begin anticipating that God wants to do something great in your life, you’ll begin to dream, believe, ask, and act with a confident boldness, knowing God is for you and has a great plan for your life.

From the book Get Your Hopes Up by Joyce Meyer.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – One More Reason to Praise 

 

“His presence within us is God’s guarantee that He really will give us all that He promised; and the Spirit’s seal upon us means that God has already purchased us and that He guarantees to bring us to Himself. This is just one more reason for us to praise our glorious God” (Ephesians 1:14).

To me, this wonderful verse means that, as children of God, we have the ability to obey God’s laws if we are filled continually with the Holy Spirit and refuse to obey the old evil nature within us.

In order to live the supernatural life which is available to us through the indwelling Holy Spirit, we must know our rights as children of God. We need to know our spiritual heritage. We must know how to draw upon the inexhaustible, supernatural resources of God’s love, power, forgiveness and abundant grace.

The first step is to learn everything we can about God. We also need to know about the nature of man and why he behaves as he does. The best way to learn who God is, who man is and about our rights as children of God is to spend much time – even at the sacrifice of other needs and demands on our schedules – in reading, studying, memorizing and meditating on the Word of God, and in prayer and witnessing.

Paul wrote to the Christians at Rome, “For His Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts, and tells us that we really are God’s children. And since we are His children, we will share His treasures – for all God gives to His Son Jesus is now ours too. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering” (Romans 8:16,17).

Bible Reading: Ephesians 1:15-23

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will acknowledge God’s presence, believe His promises and surrender to His special will for me, and thus will I praise Him throughout the day.

Presidential Prayer Team; A.W. – Monumental Salvation

 

In 1994, the Washington Monument underwent a renovation. While under construction, workers found nineteenth century graffiti on the lobby walls, but not the kind you might expect on buildings or subways today. The writing, covered during decorating at the turn of the century, said, “Whoever is the human instrument under God in the conversion of one soul, erects a monument to his own memory more lofty and enduing than this.” In other words, leading just one person to salvation is monumental.

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom.

I Corinthians 1:17

In today’s verse, Paul was writing the church at Corinth. He reminded them they were to follow Christ only. He explained they shouldn’t get caught up in lofty words or logistics of baptism, but in the plain directive from Christ to preach the gospel and share the salvation story with others.

Jesus commands you to do the same (Mark 16:15). Know that if you convert one soul by sharing Christ, you’ve made a lasting monument. As you pray today for America and its leaders, ask God to direct you to lost people with whom you can share the power of the cross.

Recommended Reading: Romans 10:11-17

 

Greg Laurie – There’s Nothing Like It

 

So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. —Romans 12:5

When someone loses a loved one, perhaps a grandparent, a parent, a spouse, or even a child, where does that person usually turn? Many people will turn to the church. Even if they aren’t a part of the church, they often will come to the church looking for help. And they find help and solace there.

Think of the ways that God has met your needs through the church over the years. When you needed direction in life, where did you find it? You found it at church. Maybe you were having problems with your kids, so you went to church, where the youth pastor intervened and helped you out.

And where did you find Christ? Chances are that you found the Lord in the church.

Maybe it was in the church where you discovered that you have musical ability. I am amazed at how many professional vocalists today have said they got their start by singing at church.

I met my wife at church. She was there with her two sisters, and I invited them all out for coffee afterward. The church is the best place to meet someone who loves the Lord.

Not only that, but the church is good for you physically. Scientific studies have shown that the blood pressure of people who attend church is lower than those who don’t.

These are not the reasons we should go to church, of course. We should go to church because it’s a place where we can draw closer to God. It’s a place where we can grow spiritually. It’s a place where we can give. And it’s a place where we can receive.

I know the church has its flaws. I know it has its shortcomings. But there is nothing out there like the church. It stands apart.

Max Lucado – Just the Way You Are

 

Don’t confuse God’s love with the love of people. That kind of love often increases with performances and decreases with mistakes. When my daughter was a toddler, she loved going to the park and playing in the sandbox. And often I’d give her an ice-cream treat. One day as I turned to do that, I saw her mouth was full of sand. Where I intended to put a delicacy, she had put dirt. Did I love her with dirt in her mouth? Absolutely. Was I going to allow her to keep the dirt in her mouth? No way. I loved her right where she was, but I refused to leave her there.

God does the same for us. “Spit the dirt out, honey,” our Father urges. I’ve got something better for you.” Jesus wants to give us a heart like his. Can you imagine a better offer?

From Just Like Jesus

C.S. Lewis Daily – Today’s Reading

 

To shrink back from all that can be called Nature into negative spirituality is as if we ran away from horses instead of learning to ride. There is in our present pilgrim condition plenty of room (more room than most of us like) for abstinence and renunciation and mortifying our natural desires. But behind all asceticism the thought should be, ‘Who will trust us with the true wealth if we cannot be trusted even with the wealth that perishes?’ Who will trust me with a spiritual body if I cannot control even an earthly body? These small and perishable bodies we now have were given to us as ponies are given to schoolboys. We must learn to manage: not that we may some day be free of horses altogether but that some day we may ride bare-back, confident and rejoicing, those greater mounts, those winged, shining and world- shaking horses which perhaps even now expect us with impatience, pawing and snorting in the King’s stables. Not that the gallop would be of any value unless it were a gallop with the King; but how else— since He has retained His own charger—should we accompany Him?

From Miracles
Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis