Charles Stanley – Our Greatest Treasure

Matthew 8:5-13

What do you consider your most prized possession? A house, car, boat, or cash would likely be high on most folks’ lists. But even treasures and luxuries won’t bring lasting satisfaction—why else do so many men and women keep trading up and adding to their collection? Sadly, in the race to have “better” and “more,” a lot of people overlook the most valuable asset of all: faith.

Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”—and this corresponds to trust in Jesus Christ as Savior. Faith isn’t something we can work to obtain; rather, it is a gift from the Lord.

Consider the power that God makes available. In Matthew 17:20, Jesus said that faith as small as a mustard seed—which His audience would have known to be tiny—enables us to achieve the miraculous. The book of Acts shows that the apostles’ belief led to numerous healings (3:1-8; 5:16). And Matthew’s gospel tells us that through a Canaanite woman’s faith, her daughter was freed from demonic possession (15:22-28).

Trust in Christ is more than an avenue to miracles—it is the way to salvation. The Bible states that there is nothing we can do to achieve eternal security in God’s kingdom; we are saved only by His grace, through faith (Eph. 2:8-9).

The best way to move forward is by first receiving life’s greatest gift: faith in Christ. Romans 10:9 says to “confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, [and] you will be saved.” Salvation and abundant life are found nowhere else.

Our Daily Bread — Pray First

 

 

Read: 1 Samuel 23:1-5
Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 22-24; Luke 12:1-31

David inquired of the Lord. —1 Samuel 23:2

When my husband and I supervise our son’s piano practice sessions, we begin by asking God to help us. We pray first because neither my husband nor I know how to play the instrument. Together, all three of us are coming to understand musical mysteries such as the meaning of “staccato” and “legato” and when to use the piano’s black keys.

Prayer becomes a priority when we realize that we need God’s help. David needed God’s assistance in a dangerous situation as he considered fighting the Philistines in the city of Keilah. Before engaging in battle, “David inquired of the Lord, saying, ‘Shall I go and attack these Philistines?’” (1 Sam. 23:2). God gave His approval. However, David’s men admitted that the enemy forces intimidated them. Before a single sword was lifted against the Philistines, David prayed again. God promised him the victory he later claimed (v.4).

Does prayer guide our lives, or is it our last resort when trouble strikes? We sometimes fall into the habit of making plans and then asking God to bless them, or praying only in moments of desperation. God does want us to turn to Him in moments of need. But He also wants us to remember that we need Him all the time (Prov. 3:5-6). —Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Dear God, please guide me as I walk through this life. Help me not to act only by my own wisdom, but to seek Your will in every situation.

God wants us to pray before we do anything at all. —Oswald Chambers

INSIGHT: In today’s passage we are told twice that David “inquired of the LORD” (vv. 2,4), but we are not told how he sought out God’s will. Some say David himself was the prophetic voice (2 Sam. 23:2; Acts 4:25) or that he cast lots since the Lord directed the lots (Prov. 16:33). He may have simply petitioned God in prayer with an open heart.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry -Curiosities

 

In a special documentary, a major television network investigated the beginnings of Christianity and the influence of the apostle Paul in spreading the message of Christ. The narrator noted his fascination with the historical figure, commenting that if not for the voice of Paul, it is “unlikely that the movement Jesus founded would have survived beyond the first century.” Yet of the resurrection of Christ he also noted, “Something must have happened, otherwise it’s hard to explain how Jesus’s story endured for so long.”

Why has the story of Christ endured? Has it survived through the centuries because of effective speakers in antiquity? Has it endured, as Sigmund Freud argued, because it is a story that fulfills wishes, or as Friedrich Nietzsche attested, because it masks and medicates our despairing fate? Has the story of Christ endured because something really happened after Jesus’s body was taken down from the cross or was it only the clever marketing of ardent followers?

We live in an age where religion is examined with the goal of finding a religion, or a combination of religions, that best suits our lives and lifestyles. We are intrigued by characters in history like Jesus and Paul, Buddha and Gandhi. We look at their lives and rightly determine their influence in history—the radical life and message of Christ, the fervor with which Paul spread the story of Christianity, the passion of Buddha, the social awareness of Gandhi. But far too often, our fascination stops there, comfortably and confidently keeping the events of history at a distance or mingling them all together as one and the same.

C.S. Lewis wrote often of “the great cataract of nonsense” that blinds us to knowledge of earlier times and keeps us content with history in pieces. He was talking about the common tendency to treat the voices of history with a certain level of incredulity and inferiority—even if with a pleasant curiosity all the same. Elsewhere, he called it chronological snobbery, a tendency to concern oneself primarily with present sources while dissecting history as we please. Yet to do so, warned Lewis, is to walk unaware of the cataracts through which we see the world today. Far better is the mind that truly considers the past, allowing its lessons to interact with the army of voices that battle for our allegiance. For a person who has lived thoroughly in many eras is far less likely to be deceived by the errors of his or her own age.

We might be wary, then, among other things, of assuming the earliest followers of Christ thought resurrection a reasonable phenomenon or miracles a natural occurrence. They didn’t. Investigating the life of Paul, we might ask why a once fearful persecutor of Christ’s followers was suddenly willing to die for the story he carried around the world, testifying to this very event that split history. Investigating the enduring story of Christ, we might ask why the once timid and frightened disciples were abruptly transformed into bold witnesses. What happened that led countless Jews and many others to dramatically change directions in life and in lifestyle? That something incredible happened is not a difficult conclusion at which to arrive. It takes far greater faith to conclude otherwise.

A friend of mine is fond of saying that truth is something you can hang your hat on. Even as we struggle to see it today, her words communicate a reality Jesus’s disciples knew well. The resurrection was shocking in its real-ness; it was an event they found dependable and enduring. It was not for them like the latest scandal that grabs our curiosity and passes with the next big thing. It is solid and it is real. The disciples and the apostle Paul were transformed by seeing Jesus alive again—a phenomenon that would be just as unthinkable to ancient minds as it would be for us today. In fact, even the most hesitant among them, and the most unlikely of followers, found the resurrected Christ an irrefutable reality. Comfort was irrelevant, it went far beyond curiosity, and personal preference was not a consideration. They could not deny who stood in front of them. Jesus was alive. And they went to their deaths talking about it.

It seems to me that the story of Christ has endured for innumerable reasons: because in the fullness of time God indeed sent his Son; because knowingly Jesus walked to the Cross and into the hands of those who didn’t know what they were doing; because something really happened after his body was laid in the tomb; and because with great power and with God’s Spirit, the apostles continued to testify of the events they saw. What if the story of Christ remains today simply because it is true?

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

(1) Photo by Ben may Media, http://benmaymedia.zenfolio.com. Used by permission.

 

 

Alistair Begg – Why a “Sachet of Myrrh”?

 

My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh. Song of Songs 1:13

Myrrh may well be chosen to typify Jesus because of its preciousness, its perfume, its pleasantness, its healing, preserving, disinfecting qualities, and its connection with sacrifice. But why is He compared to “a sachet of myrrh”?

First, because it speaks of plenty. He is not a drop of it–He is a basketful. He is not a sprig or flower of it, but a whole bundle. There is enough in Christ for all my needs; do not let me be slow to avail myself of Him.

Our well-beloved is compared to a “sachet,” again, for variety, for there is in Christ not only the one thing needful, but “in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily”;1 everything needful is in Him. Consider the numerous aspects of Christ, and you will see a marvelous variety–Prophet, Priest, King, Husband, Friend, Shepherd. Consider Him in His life, death, resurrection, ascension, second coming; view Him in His virtue, gentleness, courage, self-denial, love, faithfulness, truth, righteousness–everywhere He is a sachet of preciousness.

He is a “sachet of myrrh” for preservation–not loose myrrh tied up, but myrrh to be stored in a container. We must value Him as our best treasure; we must prize His words and His ordinances; and we must keep our thoughts of Him and our knowledge of Him as under lock and key, in case the devil should steal anything from us.

Furthermore, Jesus is a “sachet of myrrh” for specialty. The emblem suggests the idea of distinguishing, discriminating grace. From before the foundation of the world, He was set apart for His people; and He gives His perfume only to those who understand how to enter into communion with Him, to have close dealings with Him–blessed people whom the Lord has admitted into His secrets, and for whom He sets Himself apart.

Choice and happy are those who can say, “My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh.”

  1. Colossians 2:9

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

Charles Spurgeon – A willing people and an immutable leader

 

“Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.” Psalm 110:3

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Kings 19:9-18

Christ shall always have a people. In the darkest ages Christ has always had a church; and if darker times shall come, he will have his church still. Oh! Elijah, thy unbelief is foolish. Thou sayest, “I, only I, am left alone, and they seek my life.” No, Elijah, in those caves of the earth God has his prophets, hidden by seventies. Thou too, poor unbelieving Christian, at times thou sayest, “I, even I, am left.” Oh! If thou hadst eyes to see, if thou couldst travel a little, thy heart would be glad to find that God does not lack a people. It cheers my heart to find that God has a family everywhere. We do not go anywhere but we find really earnest hearts—men full of prayer. I bless God that I can say, concerning the church wherever I have been, though they are not many, there are a few, who sigh and groan over the sorrows of Israel. There are chosen bands in every church, thoroughly earnest men who are looking out for, and are ready to receive their Master, who cry to God that he would send them times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord. Do not be too sad; God has a people, and they are willing now; and when the day of God’s power shall come, there is no fear about the people. Religion may be at a low ebb, but it never was at such a low ebb that God’s ship was stranded. It may be ever so low, but the devil shall never be able to cross the river of Christ’s church dry shod. He shall always find abundance of water running in the channel. God grant us grace to look out for his people, believing that there are some everywhere, for the promise is, “thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.”

For meditation: Do you feel one of the few? God’s people may be nearer and more numerous than you imagine (Acts 18:9,10); even when we are very few, Christ is nearer than we sometimes imagine (Matthew 18:20).

Sermon no. 74
13 April (1856)

John MacArthur –Being Filled with Mercy

 

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matt. 5:7).

Mercy is a characteristic of true believers.

Like the other beatitudes, Matthew 5:7 contains a twofold message: to enter the kingdom you must seek mercy. Once there, you must show mercy to others.

The thought of showing mercy probably surprised Christ’s audience because both the Jews and the Romans tended to be merciless. The Romans exalted justice, courage, discipline, and power. To them mercy was a sign of weakness. For example, if a Roman father wanted his newborn child to live, he simply held his thumb up; if he wanted it to die, he held his thumb down.

Jesus repeatedly rebuked the Jewish religious leaders for their egotistical, self-righteous, and condemning attitudes. They were intolerant of anyone who failed to live by their traditions. They even withheld financial support from their own needy parents (Matt. 15:3-9).

Like the people of Jesus’ time, many people today also lack mercy. Some are outright cruel and unkind, but most are so consumed with their quest for self-gratification that they simply neglect others.

Christians, on the other hand, should be characterized by mercy. In fact, James used mercy to illustrate true faith: “What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself” (James 2:14- 17). He also said mercy is characteristic of godly wisdom: “The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy” (3:17).

As one who has received mercy from God, let mercy be the hallmark of your life.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for His great mercy.
  • Ask Him to give you opportunities to show mercy to others today.

For Further Study

Read Luke 10:25-37.

  • Who questioned Jesus and what was his motive?
  • What characteristics of mercy were demonstrated by the Samaritan traveler?
  • What challenge did Jesus give His hearer? Are you willing to meet that challenge?

Joyce Meyer – Be Prepared

 

Strength and dignity are her clothing and her position is strong and secure; she rejoices over the future [the latter day or time to come, knowing that she and her family are in readiness for it]! Proverbs 31:25

This woman’s strength and dignity are her clothing, and her position is strong and secure. This certainly must have increased her confidence. She isn’t afraid of losing her position or something bad happening. She boldly faces the future because she knows she and her family are prepared for it.

Proverbs 27:23 tells us: Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and look well to your herds. Lack of preparation is one of the major causes for low confidence. Being prepared requires working ahead of time instead of putting things off until the last minute. Matthew 25 tells us of the five wise virgins who took extra oil with them as they waited for the bridegroom to come, but the five foolish virgins didn’t do anything to prepare. When the bridegroom was delayed, the foolish lost their opportunity to meet the bridegroom.

This same scenario happens to many people in life. They procrastinate until it is too late to take advantage of an opportunity that could have been a tremendous blessing to them. Knowing you are prepared for whatever comes will increase your confidence in an amazing way.

Lord, help me to be diligent and prepared for the opportunities You will bring my way. I want to walk in the confidence that I am always ready to go. Amen.

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Inner Strengthening 

 

“That out of His glorious, unlimited resources He will give you the mighty inner strengthening of His Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 3:16).

In Christ are all the attributes and characteristics promised to His children as the fruit of the Spirit. And the Holy Spirit was given to glorify Christ.

  • Do you need love?

The Lord Jesus Christ is the incarnation of love. Paul prays that our roots may “go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love; and may you be able to feel and understand, as all God’s children should, how long, how wide, how deep and how high His love really is; and to experience this love for yourselves (though it is so great that you will never see the end of it, or fully know or understand it”) (Ephesians 3:17-19).

  • Do you need peace?

Christ is the “Prince of Peace.” “I am leaving you with a gift,” said Jesus, “peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives” (John 14:27).

  • Do you need joy?

Christ is joy.

  • Do you need patience?

Christ is patience.

  • Do you need wisdom?

Christ is wisdom.

  • Are you in need of material possessions so that you can better serve Christ?

They are available in Him, for God owns “the cattle on a thousand hills,” and He promised to supply all our needs (Philippians 4:19).

All that we need is to be found in Christ and nowhere else. The supernatural life is Christ, for in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

Bible Reading: Ephesians 3:17-21

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Knowing that God’s unlimited resources make possible the mighty inner strengthening in my life, I shall focus my attention upon Him through reading His inspired Word and obeying His commands.

Presidential Prayer Team; H.L.M. – Cry Out

 

Keith Thibodeaux was cast in 1956 as Little Ricky, the drum-playing son of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz on the hit series “I Love Lucy.” Thibodeaux’s abilities led him to a national tour and various acting stints on many shows. Yet the former child star left Hollywood at age 15 after his parents’ divorce. He joined a band called David and the Giants and got involved with drugs. That’s when Thibodeaux realized he needed help.

His Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus…delivers us from the wrath to come.

I Thessalonians 1:10

“I needed a Savior because I got down to the end of my rope when I was playing rock,” he said, “and just went down into the drug world and I was clinically depressed. It was at that point God answered my prayer – my cry. I found Jesus. And God did the work in my life.”

“For God has not destined us for wrath,” I Thessalonians 5:9 says, “but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Every person has the opportunity to turn from sin and embrace the love of God for eternity. Pray that all Americans and their leaders would, like Thibodeaux, cry out to the Lord as the source of their eternal peace.

Recommended Reading: Romans 13:8-14

Greg Laurie – Giving Place to the Word of God

 

Now it came to pass, when Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples, that He departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities. —Matthew 11:1

There are times when I have gone into the pulpit with a prepared message and have ended up saying things that I never planned on saying. I believe that is because God will speak through the person who is teaching His Word. Something supernatural takes place when we hear God’s Word being taught in person.

There are times when people have walked up to me after a church service and said, “That thing you said. . . . It was just like it was for me!”

I’ll tell them that maybe it was. That is because I didn’t plan on saying it.

Others have said, “Who has been telling you about me?” They seriously want to know.

“What do you mean?”

“You were talking about the details of a person doing a certain thing, and that is what I have been doing.”

When we open our hearts to the Word of God, He will speak to us in a specific way. That happens when we are gathered together as the church. And the job of a pastor is to preach and teach the Word of God. Paul wrote to the young pastor Timothy, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2). Preaching is God’s primary way of reaching lost people.

Yet there are churches today that don’t give place to the Word of God. For them, it is more about music and drama and skits and interpretive dance and clips from movies. But give me something that I can’t find anywhere else. Give me the Word of God. That is what I need to hear. And that is what you need to hear. That is what we should be longing to hear: the Word of God.

Max Lucado – The Power of a Godly Touch

 

The power of a godly touch! Have you known it? The doctor who treated you, the teacher who dried your tears? Was there a hand holding yours at a funeral? A handshake of welcome at a new job? A pastoral prayer for healing? Can’t we offer the same?

Many already do! You use your hands to pray over the sick. If you aren’t touching them personally, your hands are sending notes, making calls, baking pies. You’ve learned the power of touch. But others of us tend to forget. Our hearts are good; it’s just that our memories are bad. We fear saying the wrong thing, acting the wrong way. So rather than do it incorrectly, we no nothing at all.

Aren’t we glad Jesus didn’t make the same mistake? Jesus touched the untouchables of the world. Will you do the same?

From Just Like Jesus