Charles Stanley – When We Feel Burned Out

 

Matthew 11:25-30

We have all experienced physical burnout—those times when we are tired from our many activities or difficulties that assail us. Even more painful is spiritual burnout—the weariness believers can feel from the pressure of trying to obey God, attend church faithfully, and spend time in daily prayer and Scripture reading. Just contemplating everything we think we must do for success in the Christian life can be overwhelming! The trouble is that we become spiritually burned out if we rely on our own strength.

When we experience spiritual fatigue, it’s often because of a wrong view of our faith. We find ourselves keeping a mental checklist of dos and don’ts, striving to please God with religious activities. That’s not freedom. The Christian life isn’t some formula whereby we modify our behavior to gain the Lord’s approval. God reached down and reconciled us to Himself the moment we asked Him into our hearts, so we already have His approval. True spiritual maturity involves a growing awareness that nothing we can do—no change in conduct or attempt to live up to regulations—will make us acceptable. Rather, we give up our inability and weakness, and instead live by faith. Then God’s omnipotence can carry us through life.

Think of God’s power as a river coursing through hilly terrain. We can hike, puffing and sweating, along the footpath, or we can simply ease into the water. We won’t have to expend energy because the power of the current will carry us all the way to our destination.

Our Daily Bread — Hope Lives

 

Read: 1 Peter 1:3-9
Bible in a Year: 2 Samuel 19-20; Luke 18:1-23

Your faith, being much more precious than gold . . . may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. —1 Peter 1:7

When unspeakable tragedy shatters people’s lives, they search for answers. Recently, a mother who had lost a teenager said to me, “I can’t figure it out. I don’t know if I can believe anymore. I try, but God doesn’t make sense to me. What does it all mean?” There are no easy answers to such big concerns. But for those who have trusted Christ, there is hope—whether we are basking in blessings or grinding through grief.

Peter spells this out in his first letter. In glowing terms, he praises God for our “new birth into a living hope” (1 Peter 1:3 niv) through our salvation. That hope can bring joy even in the middle of tragedy. He also assures us of the permanence of this hope (v.4). He then tells us of the heart-breaking reality that we may “suffer grief in all kinds of trials” (v.6 niv). Those who have suffered loss turn hopeful hearts toward Peter’s next words: These come so that “your faith . . . may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (v.7).

Trials—seemingly random and inexplicable—can be seen differently in the light of these words. In the midst of tragedy, the power and beauty of our salvation can shine through because of our great Savior. And that may be just enough light to get a troubled person through another day. —Dave Branon

The light of salvation shines clearly even in the darkest night.

Lord, You assure us that the grand salvation You provided is proved genuine in our pain and that it leads to glory for You. Help us to begin each new day with renewed hope in You.

INSIGHT: The hope that Peter describes in today’s reading is also a major theme of Paul’s letter to the Romans. In Romans 5:5 he describes this hope as a reality that flows from our growth in Christ. In Romans 8 he discusses our hope as something we anticipate from our salvation. Romans 12:12 reminds us that hope is grounds for great joy. Romans 15 describes hope as something we learn through trials, yet something that is characteristic of our God (v. 13). Clearly, to Paul and to Peter, hope is very important in the life of faith.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – House and Ladder

 

I am not sure what it is as children that makes us readily picture God as seated high above us. But from childhood, we seem to nurture pictures of heaven and all its wonderment as that which spatially exists “above,” while we and all of our worries exist on earth “below.” While this may simply illustrate our need for metaphors as we learn to relate to the world around us, there is also biblical imagery that seems to authenticate the portrayal. Depicting the God who exists beyond all we know, the Scripture writers describe the divine throne as “high and lofty,” the name of the LORD as existing above all names. Yet even metaphors can be misleading when they cease to point beyond themselves. Though the Scriptures use the language and imagery of loftiness, they also pronounce that God’s existence is far more than something “above” us. The startling image of the Incarnation radically erases the likeness of a distant God. The message that comes again and again from the mouth of God on earth is equally startling: The kingdom of God is among us!

Of the many objections to Christianity, there is one in particular that stands out in my mind as troubling. That is, the argument that to be Christian is to withdraw from the world, to follow fairy tales with wishful hearts and myths that insist you stop thinking and believe that all will be right in the end because God says so. It was in such a vein that Karl Marx depicted Christianity as a kind of drug that anesthetizes its consumers to the suffering in the world and the wretchedness of life. Sigmund Freud argued similarly that belief in God functions as an infantile dream that helps us evade the pain and helplessness we both feel and see around us. I don’t find these critiques and others like them troubling because I find them an accurate picture of the kingdom Jesus described. Rather, I find them troubling because so many of us seem to live as if Freud and Marx are quite right in their analyses.

In impervious boxes and minimalist depictions of the Christian story, we live comfortably as if in our own worlds, intent to tell our feel-good stories while withdrawing from the harder scenes of life, content to view the kingdom of God as a world far away from the present, and the rooms of heaven as mere futuristic promises. The kingdom is seen as the place we are journeying toward, the better country the writer of Hebrews describes. In contrast, our place on earth is viewed as temporary, and therefore somehow less vital; like Abraham, we are merely passing through. And as a result, we build chasms that stand between kingdom and earth, today and tomorrow, the physical and the spiritual, the believing world and its world of neighbors. Whether articulated or subconscious, the earth itself even becomes something fleeting and irrelevant—one more commodity here for our use, like shampoo bottles in hotel bathrooms—while Christ is away preparing our permanent rooms.

Yet these chasms we might allow not only belie a posture irresponsible for those called to abundant life and love of neighbors, they betray the identity and decree of the good creator Christianity professes. The stories Jesus left the world with are so much more than wishful thinking; his proclamations of a kingdom here and now are far from permissions of escapism. Further, to view the world around us as a temporary place negates the words of the Christian’s most sacred prayer. Jesus taught his followers to pray: God’s kingdom come, God’s will be done—on earth as it is in heaven. What does it mean that Christ repeatedly declared the kingdom of God as here and now among us? What does it mean that for lack of human praise the very rocks will cry out at the glory of their creator while the trees will clap their hands? Far from being a non-spiritual, kingdom-irrelevant commodity, the earth is filled with rooms of faith, staircases and ladders that assure a constant traffic between heaven and earth, rooms of a good kingdom now seen in part and one day to be seen in full.

Surely the Lord is in this place; how often are we just not aware of it? For if Christ’s proclamations of the kingdom are taken seriously, then we live our lives in none other than the house of God.

The Christian worldview is one that believes at the deepest level in eternal dwellings, in the day when tears will be no more, and in the one who is preparing a house of many rooms. And yet, we very much live with the distinct experience of these promises here and now. Neither Christ nor the kingdom he came to make known is a static entity, something that mattered long ago and might matter once again but not today amidst the world as we know it. On the contrary, all of history, the story of a redemptive creator, the Incarnation and resurrection, declare that the Christian God is far more hands-on than this. Christ is not merely the one who will be near in all eternity. He is among the world today, reigning in a kingdom that is both present and approaching, going out into the depths of cities and neighborhoods that his house may be filled (cf. Luke 14:23). Precisely because the faith Christians proclaim is not a drug that anesthetizes or a dream that deludes, we must live as those aware of the house we live in, ready for the ladders that extend between heaven and earth, and anxious to invite the world inside.

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

Alistair Begg – Renew Your Covenant

 

Because of all this we make a firm covenant.

Nehemiah 9:38

There are many occasions in our experience when we may very rightly, and with benefit, renew our covenant with God. After recovery from sickness when, like Hezekiah, we have had a new lease of years added to our life, we may do so appropriately. After any deliverance from trouble, when our joys spring forth anew, let us again visit the foot of the cross and renew our consecration. Especially let us do this after any sin that has grieved the Holy Spirit or brought dishonor upon the cause of God; let us then look to that blood that can make us whiter than snow and again offer ourselves to the Lord.

We should not only let our troubles confirm our dedication to God, but our prosperity should do the same. If we ever meet with occasions that deserve to be called “crowning mercies,” then surely, if He has crowned us, we ought also to crown our God; let us bring out again all the jewels of the divine regalia that have been stored in the jewel-closet of our heart, and let our God sit upon the throne of our love, arrayed in royal apparel. If we could learn to profit by our prosperity, we would not need to face so much adversity. If we would gather from a kiss all the good it might confer upon us, we would not have to bear the imprint of punishment so often.

Have we recently received some blessing that we hadn’t expected? Has the Lord opened our way? Can we sing of mercies multiplied? Then this is the day to put our hand upon the horns of the altar and say, “Bind me here, my God; bind me here with cords, even forever.” Just as we need the fulfillment of new promises from God, let us offer renewed prayers that our old vows may not be dishonored. This morning let us make with Him a firm covenant because of the sacrifice of Jesus that we have been considering with gratitude for the last month.

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

Charles Spurgeon – A vision of the latter day glories

 

 “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.” Isaiah 2:2 & Micah 4:1

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-15

I am looking for the advent of Christ; it is this that cheers me in the battle of life—the battle and cause of Christ. I look for Christ to come, somewhat as John Bunyan described the battle of Captain Credence with Diabolus. The inhabitants of the town of Mansoul fought hard to protect their city from the prince of darkness, and at last a pitched battle was fought outside the walls. The captains and the brave men of arms fought all day till their swords were knitted to their hands with blood; many and many a weary hour did they seek to drive back the Diabolonians. The battle seemed to waver in the balance; sometimes victory was on the side of faith, and then, triumph seemed to hover over the crest of the prince of hell; but just as the sun was setting, trumpets were heard in the distance; Prince Emmanuel was coming, with trumpets sounding, and with banners flying; and while the men of Mansoul pressed onward sword in hand, Emmanuel attacked their foes in the rear, and getting the enemy between them both, they went on, driving their enemies at the sword’s point, till at last, trampling over their dead bodies, they met, and hand to hand the victorious church saluted its victorious Lord. Even so must it be. We must fight on day by day and hour by hour; and when we think the battle is almost decided against us, we shall hear the trump of the archangel, and the voice of God, and he shall come, the Prince of the kings of the earth; at his name, with terror shall they melt, and like snow driven before the wind from the bare side of a mountain shall they fly away; and we, the church militant, trampling over them, shall salute our Lord, shouting, “Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”

For meditation: The Lord’s second coming is an encouragement for us to hold fast to what we have (Revelation 2:25; 3:11). “Hold the fort, for I am coming!”

Sermon no. 249
24 April (1859)

John MacArthur – Christ Is Our Peace

 

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9).

Christ’s atonement made it possible for man to be at peace with God.

After World War II the United Nations was created to promote world peace. But since its inception in 1945 there has not been a single day of global peace. That’s a sad commentary on man’s inability to make peace. In fact, someone once quipped that Washington D.C. has so many peace monuments because they build one after every war!

It hasn’t always been that way. Prior to the Fall of man peace reigned on the earth because all creation was in perfect harmony with its Creator. But sin interrupted peace by alienating man from God and bringing a curse upon the earth. Man couldn’t know true peace because he had no peace in his heart. That’s why Jesus came to die.

I once read a story about a couple at a divorce hearing whose conflict couldn’t be resolved. They had a four-year-old boy who became distressed and teary-eyed over what was happening. While the couple was arguing, the boy reached for his father’s hand and his mother’s hand and pulled until he joined them.

In a sense that’s what Christ did: He provided the righteousness that allows man and God to join hands. Romans 5:1 says that those who are justified by faith have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Colossians 1:20 says that God reconciled all things to Himself through the blood of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

Yet on the surface, the scene at the cross wasn’t peaceful at all. Pain, sorrow, humiliation, hatred, mockery, darkness, and death were oppressively pervasive, but through it all Christ was doing what He alone could do: making peace between man and God. He paid the supreme price to give us that precious gift.

In the future, Jesus will return as Prince of Peace to establish a kingdom of peace that will usher us into an eternal age of peace. In the meantime He reigns over the hearts of all who love Him. Let His peace reign in your heart today!

Suggestions for Prayer; Thank God for the peace of heart that comes from knowing Christ.

For Further Study; Read Philippians 4:6-9. What must a person do to know God’s peace?

Joyce Meyer – Make a Sacrifice of Praise

 

Through Him, therefore, let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name. Hebrews 13:15

Today’s scripture encourages us to offer God “a sacrifice of praise.” We often interpret this as praising God when we do not feel like prais¬ing Him, and that can certainly be a type of sacrifice. But I believe the writer is talking about praise actually being the sacrifice, not just doing it when we don’t feel like it.

The Old Testament sacrificial system required the blood of animals to atone for people’s sins. We, however, live in New Testament times, when we no longer need to put slain goats and bulls on an altar. Instead, the sacrifice—the offering—God wants from us today is to hear right words coming out of our mouths, rising up before His throne. Just as the smoke and the aroma of the animal sacrifices went up before His throne under the Old Covenant, the praise from our hearts rises up as a sacrifice before Him today. In Hebrews 13:15, the Lord was really saying, “The sacrifice I want now is the fruit of your lips thankfully acknowledging Me.”

We need to apply this scripture to our everyday lives, making sure that we speak God’s praises every chance we get. We need to tell peo¬ple about all the great things He’s doing for us; we need to thank Him; we need to tell Him we love Him. In our hearts and with our mouths, we should go through our days praising Him. We need to be people of praise, acknowledging God “constantly and at all times.”

Love God Today: “Lord, I will acknowledge and praise You every chance I get today.”

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Poor, Blind and Naked

 

“You say, ‘I am rich, with everything I want; I don’t need a thing!” And you don’t realize that spiritually you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (Revelation 3:17). 

George had come for a week of lay training at Arrowhead Springs. Following one of my messages on revival, in which I explained that most Christians are like the members of the church at Ephesus and Laodicea, as described in Revelation 2 and 3, he came to share with me how, though he was definitely lukewarm and had lost his first love, he frankly had never read those passages, had never heard a sermon such as I had presented and therefore did not realize how wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked he was.

If there were such an instrument as a “faith thermometer,” at what level would your faithfulness register? Hot? Lukewarm? Cold?

Jesus said to the church at Laodicea, “I know you well – you are neither hot nor cold; I wish you were one or the other! But since you are merely lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth!” (Revelation 3:15).

Again, I ask you, where does your faithfulness register on that faith thermometer?

The greatest tragedy in the history of nations is happening right here in America. Here we are, a nation founded by Christians, a nation founded upon godly principles, a nation blessed beyond all the nations of history for the purpose of doing God’s will in the world. But most people in this country, including the majority of church members, have without realizing it become materialistic and humanistic, all too often worshiping man and his achievements instead of the only true God.

Granted, the opinion polls show meteoric growth in the number of people in America who claim to be born-again Christians. But where does their faith register on the faith thermometer? America is a modern-day Laodicea. We are where we are today because too many Christians have quenched the Holy Spirit in their lives.

Bible Reading: Revelation 3:14-19

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Realizing that America cannot become spiritually renewed without individual revival, I will humble myself, and pray, and seek God’s face, and turn from my wicked ways. By faith I will claim revival in my own heart.

Presidential Prayer Team; J.R. – We Are Family

 

Nobody knows where it started, but many years ago in some dastardly corporate boardroom somebody came up with the idea of referring to employees as “family.” It was a way to make workers feel more connected to their jobs. No doubt you have experienced this in places you have worked: “Welcome to the (name of company) family,” or, “We are one big family here!” It’s a nice sentiment, but false. With a real family, you don’t clock in or clock out, you usually don’t worry about getting fired or laid off, and your parents didn’t jettison you the moment your “return on investment” looked shaky.

So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Galatians 4:7

In truth, the term “family” is used loosely these days. Certain people in government and society are working feverishly to water down the definition of family to mean almost anything. But when God calls you His child, it has special, permanent meaning. You cannot be discharged from the family, and you have an inheritance that cannot be lost.

As you pray for America today, ask God to use you to welcome others into the only family that really matters – and will last for all eternity!

Recommended Reading: I John 3:1-11

Greg Laurie – Count the Cost

 

“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?” —Luke 14:28

It isn’t easy to be a Christian—that is, a committed, growing Christian. It costs to follow Jesus. But it costs a lot more not to.

Jesus said to His disciples, “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you” (Luke 15:18–19).

This is hard to accept if you have been a popular person throughout your life and then become a Christian. You try to be loving and compassionate and helpful, and then people find out that you’re a Christian. So they give you a difficult time or make fun of you or spread lies about you. You think, This isn’t fair. I am so sweet and nice. Maybe you are. But the fact is that now you are a representative of Jesus. And effectively you will be treated as He was treated. The Bible says, “Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).

You don’t want to decide to follow Jesus on a whim, like making an impulse purchase at the store. Retailers count on you to think, Look at all this stuff! I don’t even know what this is, but I’m buying it.

When you decide to follow Christ, however, you need to count the cost. Jesus counted the cost when He went to the cross for you. He gave His life so you can be forgiven of your sin, so you can know that you will go to heaven when you die.

He counted the cost for you. Will you count the cost and follow Him?

Max Lucado – On Target

 

Jesus had no money, no computers, no jets, no administrative assistants or staff; yet Jesus did what many of us fail to do. He kept his life on course. He could have been a political revolutionary. He could have been content with being a teacher or a physician and heal bodies. But in the end he chose to be a Savior and save souls. Luke 19:10 says, “The Son of Man came to find lost people and save them.” “He did not come to be served, but to give his life as a ransom for many people.” (Mark 10:45)

The heart of Christ was relentlessly focused on one task—the cross of Calvary. He was so focused that his final words were, “It is finished!” Wouldn’t you love to look back on your life and know you had done what you were called to do?

From Just Like Jesus

Night Light for Couples – “The Face of My Enemy”

“The Face of My Enemy”

by Corrie ten Boom

It was in a church in Munich that I saw him—a balding, heavy‐set man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands. People were filing out of the basement room where I had just spoken and moving along the rows of wooden chairs to the door at the rear. The year was 1947, and I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives.

This was the truth they needed most to hear in that bitter, bombed‐out land, and I gave them my favorite mental picture. Maybe because the sea is never far from a Hollander’s mind, I liked to think that that’s where forgiven sins were thrown. “When we confess our sins,” I said, “God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever. And even though I cannot find a Scripture for it, I believe God then places a sign out there that says, ‘NO FISHING ALLOWED.’”

The solemn faces stared back at me, not quite daring to believe. There were never questions after a talk in Germany in 1947. People stood up in silence, collected their wraps in silence, left the room in silence.

And that’s when I saw him working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a visored cap with its skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights, the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor, the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were!

The place was Ravensbruck, and the man who was making his way forward had been a guard—one of the cruelest guards.

Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: “A fine message, Fräulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!”

And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course—how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women?

But I remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. I was face‐to‐face with one of my captors, and my blood seemed to freeze. “You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,” he was saying. “I was a guard there.” No, he did not remember me. “But since that time,” he went on, “I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fräulein”—again the hand came out—“will you forgive me?”

And I stood there—I whose sins had again and again needed to be forgiven—and could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place—could he erase her slow, terrible death simply by the asking?

It could not have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.

For I had to do it—I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. “If you do not forgive men their trespasses,” Jesus says, “neither will your Father in Heaven forgive your trespasses.”

I knew it not only as a commandment of God, but as a daily experience. Since the end of the war I had had a home in Holland for victims of Nazi brutality. Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were also able to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids. It was as simple and horrible as that.

And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion—I knew that, too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. Jesus, help me! I prayed silently. I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.

So, woodenly and mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, and sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

“I forgive you, brother!” I cried. “With all my heart.”

For a long moment, we grasped each other’s hands—the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely as I did then. But even so, I realized it was not my love. I had tried and did not have the power. It was the power of the Holy Spirit as recorded in Romans 5:5: “Because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

Looking ahead…

I can’t imagine any situation or circumstance in which the obligation to forgive would be more difficult than the one Corrie faced. She had lived with routine murder, humiliation, cruelty, and starvation at the hands of the man who now faced her. Every natural impulse—every angry emotion—would cry out for revenge against her former tormentor. She still carried with her the images of her father, emaciated sister, and other family members who died at the hands of the Nazis. I wonder if I could have had the moral strength to forgive this guard and release the passion for revenge and retribution. Yet, Corrie ten Boom was able to do just that and thereby show the world what Jesus meant by His commandment to “turn the other cheek.”

Here’s the question of the hour: If Corrie ten Boom could forgive her captors—and if Jesus could forgive the Roman soldiers and you and me for killing Him on the cross—can’t we find it in our hearts to forgive the mistakes and hurtful actions of our imperfect mate? We absolutely must, or we’ll become pathetic invalids trapped by bitterness and hate.

– James C Dobson

  • From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
  • “The Face of My Enemy” by Corrie ten Boom. Taken from The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom with John and Elizabeth Sherrill. Used by permission of Chosen Books LLC, Chappaqua, N.Y.