Charles Stanley – OVERCOMING FEAR AND INSECURITY

 

Have you ever been afraid of obeying God? Have you avoided responsibility because you felt inadequate? God wants you to place your confidence in Him, not yourself. In this Bible study about Gideon’s life, you’ll learn about victory over fear and insecurity.

Read Judges 6-8.

  1. Feeling afraid or unworthy doesn’t disqualify us from being used by God.
  • Briefly describe Israel’s situation in Gideon’s day (Judg. 6:1-6).

 

  • Read Exodus 33:20. Why did speaking with God make Gideon afraid (v. 22)?

 

How could Gideon survive “seeing God”? Since God is Spirit (John 4:24), no man has ever seen the Father in His essence. However, in Judges 6 (as in other Old Testament passages), He assumes a visible form (Gen. 32:24-30, Ex. 24:9-10, Isa. 6:1, Dan. 7:9). Some scholars believe references like this one to “the angel of the Lord” describe Jesus before He was clothed in human flesh.

  • God asks Gideon to tear down His father’s altar to Baal, the false god some Israelites worshipped at the time. How does Gideon approach his first assignment (Judg. 6:27)?

 

  • What does his neighbors’ reaction reveal about the hearts of the Israelites at this time (v. 30)?

 

  • What frightens you about fully obeying all God asks of you?

 

  1. Exchanging our viewpoint for God’s perspective is essential to winning our battles.
  • From God’s perspective, who would deliver Israel (vv. 8-10)?

 

  • On what did Gideon focus (v.13)?

 

  • Contrast Gideon’s perception of himself with God’s view (vv. 12,15).

 

By refusing to help Gideon—who was God’s chosen deliverer—the leaders of Succoth and Penuel aligned themselves with the Midianites by default (Judg. 8).

  • What does Gideon’s threat to them reveal about how he viewed himself after victory over the Midianites (vv. 5-9)?

 

  • Name a difficulty or challenge you face. Where do you tend to look for a solution in your own strength? How do you think God wants you to approach it?

 

  1. The Lord is prepared to confirm His will.
  • Initially, Gideon doesn’t believe he’s really talking with God. What sign does Gideon prepare (Judg. 6:18-21)?

 

When several enemy armies assembled near Gideon’s home, he used a sheep’s fleece to ask God for a confirmation of Israel’s deliverance.

  • Why was his action unnecessary (vv. 36-37)?

 

  • Why do you think Gideon was afraid the Lord’s anger would burn against him (v. 39)?

 

Although God was patient with Gideon, this method of determining His will is generally not the best. It can take our focus off of the Lord, placing it on a “sign,” which may or may not indicate God’s will accurately.

  • What finally convinced Gideon that the Lord had given victory into the Israelite’s hands (Judg. 7:13-15)?

 

 

  1. When we obey God despite our weaknesses, He gets the glory. On his first assignment from God—tearing down the altar to Baal—Gideon acts at night, in fear.
  • Why did Gideon suddenly have the confidence to assemble an army and declare himself its head (Judg. 7:34)?

 

  • Why did God want to decrease the number of warriors (v. 2)?

 

  • Why do the two eliminations also make sense from a practical standpoint (vv. 3-7)?

 

Gideon’s army attacked at night, around 10 p.m., right as the first watch was ending. The retiring guards had not yet returned to their tents and probably were mistaken for Israelites by the confused Midianties.

  • Why do you think the strategy of breaking the jars and blowing the trumpets was successful?

 

  • Why couldn’t Gideon take credit for what happened as a result of their surprise “attack” (v. 22)?

 

When the Israelites returned home after their victories, the men of Israel asked Gideon to rule over them (Judg. 8:22).

  • Why do you think Gideon responded as he did (v. 24)?

 

  • Gideon’s disobedience in making and worshipping the ephod could have been due to ignorance or the low moral standards at the time. What were the consequences (vv. 24-27)?

 

  • Despite the ephod, what did God do for Israel as a result of Gideon’s victory (v. 28)?

 

Closing: What is God asking you to do? Be willing to obey, trusting that He will provide all you need. No matter what happens, your faithfulness will result in deep inner peace, which is the fruit of being right with the Lord.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit, Who helps me accomplish Your will. Teach me to take my eyes off of my circumstances and the solutions the world offers—and instead look to You. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

Our Daily Bread — That Is Mine!

 

 

 

Read: Ezekiel 29:1-9
Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 19-21; Luke 11:29-54

I am the Lord; that is My name. —Isaiah 42:8

The Nile of Africa, which spans 6,650 kilometers (more than 4,100 miles) and flows northward across several northeastern African countries, is the world’s longest river. Over the centuries, the Nile has provided sustenance and livelihood for millions of citizens in the countries it passes through. Currently, Ethiopia is building what will become Africa’s largest hydro-power dam on the Nile. It will be a great resource for the area.

Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, claimed to be the Nile’s owner and originator. He and all Egypt boasted, “My River is my own; I have made it for myself” (Ezek. 29:3,9). They failed to acknowledge that God alone provides natural resources. As a result, God promised to punish the nation (vv.8-9).

We are to care for God’s creation, and not forget that everything we have comes from the Lord. Romans 11:36 says, “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever.” He is the One who also endows humanity with the ability to manufacture and invent man-made resources. Whenever we talk about a good thing that has come to us or that we have accomplished, we need to remember what God says in Isaiah 42:8, “I am the Lord; that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another.” —Lawrence Darmani

Praise the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does such wonderful things. Praise Your glorious name forever! Let the whole earth be filled with Your glory.

To God be the glory—great things He has done!

INSIGHT: The psalmist says, “The earth is the LORD’s and everything in it” (Ps. 24:1 NIV). Ezekiel underscores this point to the Pharaoh of Egypt. Pharaoh claimed to have created the Nile (Ezek. 29:3), but Ezekiel shows that God is angry with Pharaoh’s arrogant claim. God is the true Creator and He controls the beasts of the field and the fish of the sea (vv. 3-5).

Alistair Begg – A Heavy Heart

 

My heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast. Psalm 22:14

Our blessed Lord experienced a terrible sinking and melting of soul. “A man’s spirit will endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?”1 Deep spiritual depression is the most devastating of all trials; nothing compares to it. No wonder the suffering Savior cries to His God, “Do not be far off,” for more than at any other time a man needs his God when his heart is melted within him because of heaviness.

Believer, come to the cross this morning, and humbly worship the King of glory as one who has been brought far lower, in mental distress and inward anguish, than anyone among us; and consider Him a faithful High Priest who is able to sympathize with our weakness. Especially let those of us whose sadness springs directly from the withdrawal of a present sense of our Father’s love enter into near and intimate communion with Jesus. Let us not give in to despair; our Master has already walked this dark road.

Our souls may sometimes long and faint, and thirst even to the point of anguish, to see the light of the Lord’s face; at such times let us calm ourselves by focusing on the sympathy of our great High Priest. Our drops of sorrow may be forgotten in the ocean of His griefs; how high ought our love to rise! O strong and deep love of Jesus, come in like a flood, cover all my powers, drown all my sins, wash away all my cares, lift up my earthbound soul, and bring me up to my Lord’s feet.

Let me lie, a poor broken shell, washed up by His love, having no virtue or value; but knowing that if He will bend His ear to me, He will hear within my heart faint echoes of the vast waves of His own love that have brought me to where I am happy to stay, even at His feet forever.

  1. Proverbs 18:14

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

Charles Spurgeon – Spiritual resurrection

 

“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Ephesians 2:1

Suggested Further Reading: Colossians 2:9-14

Does it not seem a strange thing, that you, who have walked to this place this morning, shall be carried to your graves; that the eyes with which you now behold me shall soon be glazed in everlasting darkness; that the tongues, which just now moved in song, shall soon be silent lumps of clay; and that your strong and stalwart frame, now standing in this place, will soon be unable to move a muscle, and become a loathsome thing, the brother of the worm and the sister of corruption? You can scarcely get hold of the idea; death does such awful work with us, it is such a vandal with this mortal fabric, it so rends to pieces this fair thing that God has built up, that we can scarcely bear to contemplate his works of ruin. Now, endeavour, as well as you can, to get the idea of a dead corpse, and when you have done so, please to understand, that this is the metaphor employed in my text, to set forth the condition of your soul by nature. Just as the body is dead, incapable, unable, unfeeling, and soon about to become corrupt and putrid, so are we if we be unquickened by divine grace; dead in trespasses and sins, having within us death, which is capable of developing itself in worse and worse stages of sin and wickedness, until all of us here, left by God’s grace, should become loathsome beings; loathsome through sin and wickedness, even as the corpse through natural decay. Understand, that the doctrine of the Holy Scripture is, that man by nature, since the fall, is dead; he is a corrupt and ruined thing; in a spiritual sense, utterly and entirely dead. And if any of us shall come to spiritual life, it must be by the quickening of God’s Spirit, given to us sovereignly through the good will of God the Father, not for any merits of our own, but entirely of his own abounding and infinite grace.

For meditation: Have you passed from death to life by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 5:24)? Better to be a nobody alive in Christ than a king dead in trespasses and sins (Ecclesiastes 9:4).

Sermon no. 127

12 April (Easter 1857)

John MacArthur – Evaluating Your Righteousness

 

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matt. 5:6).

Your relationship with God is the measure of your righteousness.

Righteousness means “to be right with God.” When you hunger and thirst for righteousness, you passionately desire an ongoing and ever-maturing relationship with God Himself.

Righteousness begins with salvation and continues in sanctification. Only after you abandon all self- righteousness and hunger for salvation, will you be cleansed from sin and made righteous in Christ. Then you embark on a lifelong process of becoming as righteous as Christ—a process that will culminate when you are in His presence fully glorified (Rom. 8:29-30; 1 John 3:2). There’s always need for improvement in this life (Phil. 3:12-14), but satisfaction comes in communing with Christ and growing in His grace.

You can know if you’re hungering and thirsting for righteousness by asking yourself some simple questions. First, are you dissatisfied with your sin? Self- satisfaction is impossible if you are aware of your sin and grieve when you fall short of God’s holy standard.

Second, do external things satisfy your longings? A hungry man isn’t satisfied until he eats. A thirsty man isn’t satisfied until he drinks. When you hunger and thirst after righteousness, only God’s righteousness can satisfy you.

Third, do you have an appetite for God’s Word? Hungry people don’t need to be told to eat. It’s instinctive! Spiritual hunger will drive you to feed on the Word to learn what God says about increasing in righteousness.

Fourth, are you content amid difficulties? A hungry soul is content despite the pain it goes through because it sees every trial as a means by which God is teaching greater righteousness. If you react with anger or resentment when things go wrong, you’re seeking superficial happiness.

Finally, are your hunger and thirst unconditional? The rich young ruler in Matthew 19 knew there was a void in his life but was unwilling to give up his possessions. His hunger was conditional.

Christ will fully satisfy every longing of your heart, yet you will also constantly desire more of His righteousness. That’s the blessed paradox of hungering and thirsting after righteousness.

Suggestions for Prayer;  Read Psalm 112 as a hymn of praise to God.

For Further Study; Read the following verses, noting how God satisfies those who trust in Him: Psalm 34:10; 107:9; Isaiah 55:1-3; John 4:14; 6:35.

Joyce Meyer – Humility Before God

 

Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted. Luke 18:14

In Luke 18:10–11, we read about two men who went up to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other one was a tax collector. Jesus said, The Pharisee took his stand ostentatiously and began to pray thus before and with himself: God, I thank You that I am not like the rest of men—extortioners (robbers), swindlers [unrighteous in heart and life], adulterers—or even like this tax collector here. Then he went on to list of all of his good works.

What I like about this passage is that the Bible does not say the Pharisee was praying to God. It says he went into the temple to pray, but he prayed “thus before and with himself.” Here we read about a man who appeared to be praying, and yet the Bible says he was not even talking to God; he was talking to himself! I think sometimes we also pray to impress people, maybe even to impress ourselves. Let’s be honest: we can be impressed with our own eloquence. When we are talking to God and trying to hear from Him in agreement with someone else or with a group of people, we have to be very careful that we are not preaching to the other people and that we are not simply trying to sound super spiritual, but that we are really sharing our hearts with God. Agreement is incredibly powerful, but it has to be pure, and it has to come from a place of humility.

 

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Without Me – Nothing 

 

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing” (John 15:4,5, KJV).

As a young man in college and later in business, I used to be very self-sufficient – proud of what I could do on my own. I believed that a man could do just about anything he wanted to do through his own effort, if he were willing to pay the price of hard word and sacrifice, and I experienced some considerable degree of success.

Then, when I became a Christian, the Bible introduced me to a whole new and different philosophy of life – a life of trusting God for His promises. It took me a while to see the fallacy and inadequacy of trying to serve God in my own strength and ability, but that new life of faith in God finally replaced my old life of self-sufficiency.

Now, I realize how totally incapable I am of living the Christian life, how really weak I am in my own strength, and yet how strong I am in Christ. God does not waste our ability and training. We do not lay aside our God-given gifts and talents. We give them back to Him in service, and He multiplies them for His glory.

As Paul says, “I can do all things through Him [Christ] who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, NAS). In John 15, the Lord stresses the importance of drawing our strength from Him:

“Take care to live in Me, and let Me live in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit when severed from the vine. Nor can you be fruitful apart from Me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him shall produce a large crop of fruit. For apart from Me, you can’t do a thing” (John 15:4,5). Our strength, wisdom, love and power for the supernatural life come from the Lord alone.

Bible Reading: John 15:6-11

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will make it a special goal to abide in Christ so that His life-giving power for supernatural living will enable me to bear much fruit for His glory.

Presidential Prayer Team; C.H. – Pre-qualified

 

Want a new job? You must meet the position qualifications. Want to compete in the Olympics? You’ll have to qualify. Thinking of running for office? Qualifications are necessary there, too. You must qualify for a loan, college, health insurance, food stamps and club memberships.

Thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

Colossians 1:12

But there is one thing for which you have earned pre-qualified status – an inheritance in Heaven. Jesus Christ qualified you for that with His own blood. God wanted you to spend eternity with Him so much, He allowed His own child to die in order for you to be deemed worthy. You qualify! There isn’t a list of requirements in order for you to receive salvation. All you have to do is accept the gift.

In a world where restrictions are placed on every position and opportunity, your salvation is pre-qualified. Take time now to thank God for His free gift. Praise Jesus for paying the price for you to share in His inheritance. Pray, too, for your national leaders to accept their pre-qualification status.

Recommended Reading: Romans 10:5-13

 

C.S. Lewis – Today’s Reading – On heaven

 

But God will look to every soul like its first love because He is its first love. Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it—made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand.

From The Problem of Pain

Night Light for Couples – Transforming Love

 

“In all our distress and persecution we were encouraged…” 1 Thessalonians 3:7

When I (jcd) was thirteen, we adopted the most wonderful dog in the world. Penny, as we called him, was smart and obedient. He loved everybody, and everybody loved him. But when I went off to college and my parents moved, our family reluctantly decided to give Penny away to another family. After a while, Penny decided that my father wasn’t coming back. The dog began to grieve. In fact, he seemed to give up on life, and before long, arthritis and other problems left him paralyzed. When my father heard about

Penny’s sad state, he drove seven hundred miles to bring him home. He found our dog curled up in a little ball, unable to move. But Penny’s tiny stub of a tail thrashed wildly when he saw his master. Remarkably, with the love and attention my parents began to shower on him, Penny recovered. Within two weeks of returning home, he was running and jumping. He lived eleven more years without another sign of arthritis!

This story about our family dog reminds me that if even a mutt needs love and encouragement to stay alive, then so does every human being on the face of the earth. We are social beings, designed to depend on God and each other. Yet some of us are curled up in a pitiful little ball of discouragement. Every day we have the power to bring life by giving encouragement to others—or we can ignore their needs and think only of ourselves. The choice is ours.

Just between us…

  • Has my encouragement ever made you feel transformed or “healed”?
  • Who might be transformed by a little encouragement from us?

Lord, open our eyes to others’ need for attention, affection, and encouragement. May we never withhold what is our duty and privilege to give. Amen.

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson