Charles Stanley – God’s Blessing

Genesis 12:1-4

“God bless you!” We hear it all the time, don’t we? From the pastor’s benediction in worship to a simple courtesy when someone sneezes, we hear wishes of God’s blessing so often that we don’t even stop to consider what the phrase means.

Let’s break away from habit and discover what it truly means to be blessed by the Lord. In Genesis 12, God’s commission of Abram shows His wonderful promise to make the man into a prospering nation and give him a great and enduring name. More than that, God extends His blessing to those close to Abram and ultimately takes it to a global scale, pledging to bless the entire world by what He’s doing in this one person’s life.

So, when the Lord speaks about blessing someone, it’s a promise to intervene mightily and noticeably in that individual’s life. This could mean a thriving, happy family or, possibly, financial prosperity. Maybe it involves emotional security or spiritual insight. The heavenly Father might have in mind to give honor, wisdom, or lasting purpose. In fact, we see every one of these things in God’s pledge to Abram.

But let’s not overlook two conditions for the Lord’s favor. From Abram’s life, we see that God values obedience and faith (12:4; 15:6; 22:2-3, 12).

God wants to bring abundance into your life. Be sure His blessing isn’t being hindered. Ask, Am I trusting Him? Have I ignored something He has asked me to do? Give in to His call, and open your arms to receive what your Father longs to give you.

Our Daily Bread — Fragrant Living

 

 

 

Read: Philippians 4:10-20
Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 10-12; Luke 9:37-62

 

I am full, having received . . . the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma . . . well pleasing to God. —Philippians 4:18

I’m grateful that God has given us the sense of smell so we can enjoy the many fragrances of life. I think of how much I enjoy something as simple as the fresh and inviting aroma of after-shave lotion in the morning. Or the mellow smell of fresh-cut grass in the spring. I especially enjoy sitting in the backyard when the delicate scent of my favorite roses fills the air. And then there are the savory aromas of delicious food.

So it catches my attention when the apostle Paul says that our generous acts of love toward others are like a “sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God” (Phil. 4:18). When we think of helping those in need, we usually think of it as the right thing to do—or even the Christlike thing to do. But Paul says that our intentional act of reaching out to meet someone’s need actually fills the throne room of God with a fragrance that brings pleasure to Him.

We can please God with the aromas that rise from being a blessing to others! What an added incentive this is for us to perform deeds of kindness in His name.

Who might need your act of kindness today? Ask God to lead you to someone. Be a blessing. It’s a fragrant thing to do! —Joe Stowell

Here is what I hope to do for others today: ___________________

Blessing others is a blessing to God.

INSIGHT: Paul says, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content . . . . I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (4:11,13). Paul’s contentment came from the sufficiency of knowing Christ, not from the gifts he received from the Philippian believers (vv. 14-17). However, these sacrificial gifts were a “sweet-smelling aroma” to God (v. 18; see Lev. 7:12-15).

Ravi Zacharias Ministry –  The Last Word

 

My high school band director was adamant about many things, but none so much as what he called the obligatory rule of good musicianship. That is, the two most important notes in any musical composition are the first and the last. “The audience might forgive you for what comes in the middle,” he would say, “but they will forget neither your very first impression nor your final remark.”

The last word of the book of Acts in the Greek New Testament is the word akolutos. The word literally means “unhindered,” though many translations render it with multiple words. Others move the word from its final position for the sake of syntax. In both cases, I think something is lost in translation. Luke was intentionally making a statement with this last word of his two volume testimony to the life of Jesus Christ. I think he intended readers to pause at the conclusion of his words, leaving us with the provocative thought of a gospel that is unhindered. After the stories of Jesus’s ministry were told, after recollections of his death and ruminations of his resurrection, after Jesus’s ascension and the church’s beginnings, after all the resistance, disappointment, and surprises along the way, Luke concludes, “Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, unhindered” (Acts 28:30-31).

Through prisons and angry crowds, the book of Acts traces the birth and growth of the early church. The book begins with a few hundred believers in Christ and a collective will to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria, and to all the ends of the earth. Opposition to this witness is described at every turn. Persecution, beatings, death, and imprisonment all threatened the voice of the early church and ultimately the spread of the gospel itself. But in spite of all this, Luke epitomizes the history of the early church and the spread of the gospel by boldly describing the progression of God’s kingdom as going forth without so much as the slightest of hindrances. The Good News of God to all the world, he seems to want the world to remember, goes forth in power.

For any man or woman who will hear his testimony, Luke wants to conclude his eyewitness account with the dimension of the gospel that is most striking—namely, that these evidences are far from the end of the story. Luke wants hearers to be well aware that eyewitnesses to the power of the kingdom will go well beyond his own eyes, his stories, his lifetime; your eyes, your stories, your lifetime. Though variant theologies and distorted gospels will abound, though the world will delight in yet another conspiracy theory that promises to be the downfall of Christianity, the great narration of God’s kingdom will go forth unhindered. For the Christian, this means we need not live defeated by every emerging plot to undermine Christ. For Christ is risen! And for the one who has yet to accept him, it is continually and powerfully an invitation. Consider living into a victory like his, walking further up and farther into the great unhindered kingdom of the vicariously human Son of God.

Luke begins on a note intent on crescendo: “Many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us” (Luke 1:1). He sets out to sing the beginnings of the early church and the work of God from the very start to the ends of time. He wants to be clear that we are invited to be a part of a story that will not fade away. Despite all appearances, despite dim turns in melody, the story of Jesus was and will continue to be Good News that resounds without hindrance. No person or power can thwart the resonant sounds of the new life Jesus proclaims, for it is moved by a Spirit who presses it ever-onward, ringing invitingly into the unexpected places of the world. The redemptive song of Christ and the Spirit who enables creation to add its praise will continue to move forth, unhindered.

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

Alistair Begg – What Are Your Chances?

 

For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry? Luke 23:31

Among other interpretations of this suggestive question, the following is full of teaching: “If the innocent substitute for sinners suffers in this way, what will be done when the sinner himself–the dry tree–falls into the hands of an angry God?”

When God saw Jesus in the sinner’s place, He did not spare Him; and when He finds the unregenerate without Christ, He will not spare them. O sinner, Jesus was led away by His enemies; and you will be dragged away by fiends to the place appointed for you. Jesus was deserted by God; and if He, who was only imputedly a sinner, was deserted, how much more will you be?

“Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani?” What an awful shriek! But what will be your cry when you shall say, “O God! O God! Why have You forsaken me?” and the answer shall come back, “Because you have ignored all My counsel and would have none of My reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you.”

If God did not spare His own Son, how much less will He spare you! What whips of stinging pain will be yours when your conscience smites you with all its terrors. You rich, you merry, you most self-righteous sinners–who would stand in your place when God says, “Awake, O sword, against the man that rejected Me; smite him, and let him feel the sting forever”?

Jesus was spat upon. Sinner, what shame will be yours! We cannot sum up in one word all the mass of sorrows that met upon the head of Jesus who died for us; therefore it is impossible for us to tell you what streams, what oceans of grief must roll over your spirit if you die as you are now. You may die in this state; you may die now. By the agonies of Christ, by His wounds and by His blood, do not bring upon yourselves the wrath to come! Trust in the Son of God, and you shall never die.

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

Charles Spurgeon – Importance of small things in religion

 

“The Lord our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought him not after the due order.” 1 Chronicles 15:13

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Samuel 13:8-14

When we come before God, it will be no excuse for us to say, “My Lord, I did wrong, but I thought I was doing right.” “Yes, but I gave you my law, but you did not read it; or, if you read it, you read it so carelessly that you did not understand it, and then you did wrong, and you tell me you did it with a right motive. Yes, but it is of no avail whatever.” Just as in Uzzah’s case, did it not seem the rightest thing in the world to put out his hand to prevent the ark from slipping off? Who could blame the man? But God had commanded that no unpriestly hand should ever touch it, and inasmuch as he did touch it, though it was with a right motive, yet Uzzah must die. God will have his laws kept. Besides, my dear brethren, I am not sure about the rightness of your motives after all. The State has issued a proclamation, it is engraven, according to the old Roman fashion, in brass. A man goes up with his file, and he begins working away upon the brass; erases here, and amends there. Says he, “I did that with a right motive; I didn’t think the law a good one, I thought it was too old-fashioned for these times, and so I thought I would alter it a little, and make it better for the people.” Ah, how many have there been who have said, “The old puritanic principles are too rough for these times; we’ll alter them, we’ll tone them down a little.” What are you at, sir? Who are you that dares to touch a single letter of God’s Book?

For meditation: Sincerity needs to be allied to truth (Joshua 24:14). It is possible to be sincerely wrong (John 16:2; Acts 26:9; Romans 10:2).

Sermon no. 307
8 April (1860)

 

John MacArthur – Controlling Yourself

 

“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5).

Gentleness is power under control.

The Greek word translated “gentle” in Matthew 5:5 speaks of humility, meekness, and non-retaliation—traits that in our proud society are often equated with weakness or cowardice. But in reality they are virtues that identify kingdom citizens.

The same word was used by the Greeks to describe a gentle breeze, a soothing medicine, or a domesticated colt. Those are examples of power under control: a gentle breeze brings pleasure, but a hurricane brings destruction; a soothing medicine brings healing, but an overdose can kill; a domesticated colt is useful, but a wild horse is dangerous.

Christ Himself is the epitome of gentleness. Even when officially announcing His messiahship to Jerusalem, He humbly entered the city astride a donkey (Matt. 21:5). His behavior amid persecution was exemplary: “Christ . . . suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats” (1 Pet. 2:21-23).

Despite His humility and restraint, Jesus wasn’t weak or cowardly. He never defended Himself, but when His Father’s house was being desecrated, He made a whip and beat those who were defiling it (John 2:13-16; Matt. 21:12-13). He never shirked from pronouncing judgment on unrepentant sinners, and never compromised His integrity or disobeyed His Father’s will.

The hypocritical Jewish religious leaders expected that when Israel’s Messiah came He would commended them for their wonderful spirituality. Instead, Jesus condemned them and called them children of the devil (John 8:44). In retaliation they had Him murdered. His power was always under control; theirs wasn’t.

Our society has little use for gentleness. The macho, do-your-own-thing mentality characterizes most of our heroes. But you are called to a higher standard. When you pattern your life after Jesus, you will have a significant impact on society and will know true happiness.

Suggestions for Prayer; Thank God for the virtue of gentleness, which He is producing in you by the power of His Spirit. Follow Christ’s example today so that gentleness will mark your character.

For Further Study; Read the following passages, noting the responsibilities and blessings that accompany self-restraint: Proverbs 16:32, Ephesians 4:1-2, Colossians 3:12, and Titus 3:1-2.

 

Joyce Meyer – Why Worry?

 

Cease from anger and forsake wrath; fret not yourself—it tends only to evildoing. Psalm 37:8

Anxiety and worry are both attacks on the mind intended to keep you from serving the Lord. The enemy uses these weapons to press your faith down so you cannot live in victory. Many people are worriers but don’t even realize it. They may call it something else—but it is still worry. In addition to telling you to “fret not,” other passages warn you to “take no thought,” (Matthew 6:25), “be careful for nothing” (Philippians 4:6), and “cast . . . all your care” (1 Peter 5:7).

Matthew 6:27 says, And who of you by worrying and being anxious can add one unit of measure (cubit) to his stature or to the span of his life? The obvious point is that worry is useless. It does not accomplish any good thing. In that case, why worry and why be so anxious?

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – God’s Home Is Holy

 

“Don’t you realize that all of you together are the house of God, and that the Spirit of God lives among you in His house? If anyone defiles and spoils God’s home, God will destroy him. For God’s home is holy and clean, and you are that home” (1 Corinthians 3:16,17).

At this writing, I am with the staff at our annual training on the campus of Colorado State University. In addition to the 3,000 United States and Canadian field staff of Campus Crusade for Christ who are here, thousands more are attending music workshops, summer school, numerous conferences and meetings on this campus. Also, the entire Denver Broncos professional football team is here for training.

Throughout the day, from early morning till late at night, the campus is alive with people jogging, roller-skating, playing tennis, walking and other physical activities. These people are disciplining their bodies, keeping them in good physical tone.

Sadly, however, I also witness many people who lack interest in physical well-being by smoking and drinking alcoholic beverages. A stroll down the sidewalks of this beautiful campus will reveal numerous smokers. And, in the early hours, before the clean-up crews go to work, one can see in the gutters the empty beer cans from the previous night’s revelry and carousing.

The body of the Christian is the temple of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19 and 1 Corinthians 3:16,17). For this reason, God asks us to present our bodies as “living sacrifices,” holy and righteous, for God could dwell in no less a temple.

Bible Reading: I Corinthians 3:11-15

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will take especially good care of my body – physically, mentally, spiritually – realizing it is the temple of God’s Holy Spirit.

Presidential Prayer Team; P.G. – Heed the Warning

 

Before the Titanic met its fate, numerous messages were sent saying it was speeding into an ice field, but the calls were ignored. In fact, when a nearby ship sent an urgent warning, the Titanic was talking to officials at Cape Race about menu plans and where chauffeurs should meet arriving passengers. Preoccupied with the trivial, the Titanic’s radio officer responded, “Shut up. I am talking to Cape Race. You are jamming my signals.”

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts.

II Corinthians 4:6

In today’s America, too many are focused on the unimportant matters of daily existence. When someone tries to share the gospel, their response is, “Shut up. You’re messing with my life.” They don’t understand the god of this world had blinded their minds.

The Gospel is clear. All have sinned and are separated from God; Jesus died and rose again to pay the price for sin and restore a right relationship with the Father. One only needs to believe the message. Jesus calls you the light of the world and asks you to shine as a reflection of His glory. Pray that He accomplishes His will in you today – then intercede for the nation’s leaders to heed the warning and be saved.

Recommended Reading: II Corinthians 4:1-6

Greg Laurie – The Language of Heaven

 

Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth! —Psalm 66:1

When believers gather and worship the Lord, something wonderful happens. As Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). This does not mean that God lives in the church. In a sense He does, if we are speaking of believers. Because we are the church, He lives in us. But God doesn’t live in a building.

But when God’s people meet together, something changes. And what changes is that He manifests His presence in a supernatural way when we gather to worship Him and honor Him. And when we praise God together, whether it’s in prayer or in prayer set to song in worship, we are doing what we were created to do. We are here to bring glory to God.

The Bible tells us that God has created all things for His glory (see Isaiah 43:7). And Psalm 106:1 says, “Praise the LORD! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”

Some might say, “Well, I don’t really have a good voice.” Neither do thousands of contestants on American Idol, but that didn’t stop them. And it shouldn’t stop you. When we sing to the Lord, it is not a performance for each other; it is a performance for an audience of one: God. And God isn’t really all that impressed with your pitch or how loudly you sing. He is really far more interested in what is going on in your heart. So if that is all you can do, then that is good enough.

From Genesis to Revelation, our faith is one of worship. And in Heaven, we will sing (see Revelation 15:2–4). Worship is the language of Heaven. So let’s start practicing now.

 

Max Lucado – Who Says We Can’t Change?

 

Here’s some good news. You aren’t stuck with today’s personality. You aren’t condemned to “grumpydom.” You are tweak-able! So what if you were born a bigot? You don’t have to die one.

Where did we get the idea we can’t change? Where do statements come from such as, “It’s just my nature to worry,” or. . . “I’ll always be pessimistic. I’m just that way.” Or, “I have a bad temper. I can’t help the way I react?” Who says? Would we say, “it’s just my nature to have a broken leg. I can’t do anything about it.” Of course not. If our body malfunctions, we seek help. Shouldn’t we do the same with our hearts? Can’t we seek aid for our sour attitudes? Of course we can. Jesus can change our hearts! He wants us to have a heart like his!

From Just Like Jesus