Charles Stanley – Staying Young and Fruitful

 

Psalm 92:12-15

Our culture is obsessed with youth. Stores are flooded with products promising better health, fewer wrinkles, and a trim physique. However, these will only touch the surface of our aging problem. Unless death intervenes, growing old is inevitable. Living old, on the other hand, is a choice.

We each have to decide if we are going to flourish or dry up, grow strong or become weak. Physically, we may have no choice in the matter, but we can be young in soul and spirit, regardless of our chronological age.

When a righteous man is firmly planted in the Lord, he’ll become fruitful in things that will last into eternity. We are never to retire from bearing fruit. Rather, God wants us to abide continually in an intimate connection with Him. In that way, we can do the work He has given us to accomplish (John 15:4).

A righteous man will grow strong in the Lord like a cedar of Lebanon (Ps. 92:12). These trees can grow to a height of 120 feet with a girth of 40 feet. That is one strong tree! As we walk with Christ into our latter years, we can have the confidence and stability that come only from growing strong in faith. Each year is an opportunity to trust God more and rely wholly on His Word.

Staying young while growing old begins with your mind. Never stop listening to the Father or learning from His Word. Allow godly thinking to shape your attitudes. Be thankful, keep laughing, and rejoice in your Lord. Above all, keep believing and loving Him with all your heart.

Our Daily Bread — Giving All

 

Read: Romans 12:1-8
Bible in a Year: 2 Samuel 21-22; Luke 18:24-43

Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. —Romans 12:1

During his only inaugural address as the US President, John F. Kennedy issued this challenge to Americans: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” It was a renewed call for citizens to surrender their lives in sacrifice and service to others. His words especially inspired the sons and daughters of men and women who had served their country in war.

His meaning was clear: What their parents purchased, often with their very lives, must now be protected by peaceful means. An army of volunteers arose to answer that call, and through the decades they have accomplished an immeasurable amount of humanitarian work around the globe.

Centuries earlier, the apostle Paul issued a similar call to Christians in the opening verses of Romans 12. Here he urges us to give our bodies as “living sacrifices” in service to the One who paid with His life for our sins. This spiritual sacrifice must be more than mere words; it must be an investment of our lives in the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of others.

Best of all, our serving can be done right where we are. —Randy Kilgore

Father, show me this day the many ways my life can be surrendered to You, and then give me the strength to begin to act.

Don’t always ask Jesus what He can do for you; ask Jesus what you can do for Him.

INSIGHT: In Romans 12:1 Paul encourages us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to God by exhibiting behavior that is pleasing to Him. However, verse 2 encourages us to have our minds renewed as well. God wants us to be totally His in both actions and thoughts.

Alistair Begg – Come Away

 

Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away.

Song of Solomon 2:10

I hear the voice of my Beloved! He speaks to me! Fair weather is smiling upon the face of the earth, and He does not want me to be spiritually asleep while nature is all around me awaking from her winter’s rest. He bids me “Arise,” as well He might, for I have been lying long enough among the weeds of worldliness. He is risen, and I am risen in Him; so why should I still cleave to the dust? From lower loves, desires, pursuits, and aspirations, I want to rise to Him.

He calls me by the sweet title “my love” and counts me “beautiful”; this is a good argument for my rising. If He has exalted me and thinks me fair, how can I linger in the tents of wickedness and make my friends in the wrong company? He bids me “Come away”; further and further from everything selfish, groveling, worldly, sinful, He calls me; yes, from the outwardly religious world that doesn’t know Him and has no sympathy with the mystery of godliness. “Come away” has no harsh sound to my ear, and what is there to hold me in this wilderness of vanity and sin?

My Lord, I want desperately to come away, but I am held among the thorns and cannot escape from them as I wish. I would, if it were possible, close my eyes and ears and heart to sin. You call me to Yourself by saying, “Come away,” and this is indeed a melodious call. To come to You is to come home from exile, to reach the shore out of the raging storm, to finally rest after hard labor, to reach the goal of my desires and the summit of my wishes.

But, Lord, how can a stone rise; how can a lump of clay come away from the horrible pit? Please raise me; draw me by Your grace. Send Your Holy Spirit to kindle sacred flames of love in my heart, and I will continue to rise until one day I will leave life and time behind me and come away indeed.

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

Charles Spurgeon – The cry of the heathen

 

“And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over unto Macedonia, and help us.” Acts 16:9

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Corinthians 8:1-15

There is no fear of any one becoming improvidently liberal. You need not be frightened that anyone here will give a thousand pounds this morning. We provide ample accommodation for those who feel inclined to do so. If anyone should be overtaken with such an enormous fit of generosity, we will register and remember it. But I fear there are no people like Barnabas now. Barnabas brought all he had, and put it into the treasury. “My dear friend, do not do that; do not be so rash.” Ah! he will not do that; there is no necessity for you to advise him. But I do say again, if Christianity were truly in our hearts; if we were what we professed to be; the men of generosity whom we meet with now and hold up as very paragons and patterns would cease to be wonders, for they would be as plentiful as leaves upon the trees. We demand of no man that he should beggar himself; but we do demand of every man who makes a profession that he is a Christian, that he should give his fair proportion, and not be content with giving as much to the cause of God as his own servant. We must have it that the man who is rich must give richly. We know the widow’s mite is precious, but the widow’s mite has been an enormously great loss to us. That widow’s mite has lost Jesus Christ many a thousand pounds. It is a very good thing in itself; but people with thousands a year talk of giving a widow’s mite. What a wicked application of what never can apply to them. No; in our proportion we must serve our God.

For meditation: We are instructed to give in proportion (2 Corinthians 8:12), in pleasure (2 Corinthians 9:7) and in privacy (Matthew 6:2-4). How do you calculate how much you should be giving to God’s work each week? In prayer?

Sermon no. 189
25 April (1858)

John MacArthur –Messengers of Peace

 

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

You are a messenger of peace!

When Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9), He was referring to a special group of people whom God called to restore the peace that was forfeited because of sin. They may not be politicians, statesmen, diplomats, kings, presidents, or Nobel Prize winners, but they hold the key to true and lasting peace.

As a Christian, you are among that select group of peacemakers. As such you have two primary responsibilities. The first is to help others make peace with God. There is no greater privilege. The best way to do that is to preach the gospel of peace with clarity so people understand their alienation from God and seek reconciliation. Romans 10:15 says, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!” The early church preached peace through Christ, and that is your privilege as well.

Your second responsibility is to help reconcile believers to one another. That’s a very important issue to God. He won’t accept worship from those who are at odds with each other. They must first deal with the conflict (Matt. 5:23-24). That is especially true within a family. Peter warned husbands to treat their wives properly so their prayers wouldn’t be hindered (1 Pet. 3:7).

Peacemakers don’t avoid spiritual conflicts—they speak the truth in love and allow the Spirit to minister through them to bring reconciliation. If you see someone who is alienated from God, you are to present him or her with the gospel of peace. If you see two Christians fighting, you are to do everything you can to help them resolve their differences in a righteous manner.

Of course to be an effective peacemaker you must maintain your own peace with God. Sin in your life will disrupt peace and prevent you from dispensing God’s peace to others. Therefore continually guard your heart and confess your sin so that God can use you as His peacemaker.

Suggestions for Prayer;  Pray for those close to you who don’t know Christ. Take every opportunity to tell them of God’s peace.

For Further Study; Read 2 Corinthians 5:17-21.

  • How did Paul describe the ministry of reconciliation?
  • What was Christ’s role in reconciling man to God?

Joyce Meyer – The Rest We Have in God

 

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Matthew 11:28

It’s easy to have peace when there’s nothing to be upset about. Even unbelievers have peace during easy times. But rest found in God is the gift that keeps believers peaceful during times of trouble. It is a gift from Him to His children.

Jesus said, Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you (John 14:27). His peace is a spiritual peace, and His rest is one that operates in the midst of a storm—not in the absence of a storm. Jesus did not come to remove all opposition from our lives, but rather to empower us to go through times of opposition peacefully.

Power Thought: I can rest in God and keep my peace no matter what is going on in my life.

 

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – When He’s in Control

 

“But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us:…self-control” (Galatians 5:22,23).

Sue insisted that she was Spirit-filled, and she frequently challenged others to be filled with the Spirit. But there was no evidence that the Holy Spirit was in control of her life, because she was completely undisciplined in everything she did. She knew nothing about self-control. She knew all about the Holy Spirit, in her mind, but there was no evidence that He was in her life – and in control of her life.

Dr. Henrietta Mears, as director of Christian education at the First Presbyterian Church in Hollywood, had one of the greatest spiritual ministries of her time. Hundreds of young men and women became church members and missionaries under her influence. She lived in a palatial home, owned priceless antiques and dressed beautifully. Most people assumed that she was a woman of great wealth. Actually, she was a person of relatively modest means. She simply knew how to take her regular salary, a modest inheritance, plus savings, and maximize them for God’s glory.

For example, she would advise young people, “Do not eat in expensive restaurants where you spend excessively except on rare occasions. Instead, prepare your own lunch, and over a period of a year you can save enough money by not eating out to take a trip around the world and enrich your spirit, your soul and your cultural sensitivities. Or you can use the money you save to buy something which will enhance the beauty of your home or person.”

We see disciplined people all around us in the world. Athletes discipline themselves to strict training, soldiers are drilled in military discipline, artists and writers are disciplined to sharpen their talents through dedicated practice. On the other hand, we also see examples of a lack of discipline in the lives of many people around us.

Whether a person is a Christian or a non-believer, the development of self-control as a quality of character seems to be difficult for most people. Yet we are told in the Bible that the Spirit-filled Christian will exhibit self- control as a part of the fruit of the Spirit.

Bible Reading: I Chronicles 28:9-13

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I acknowledge that to walk in the fullness and control of the Holy Spirit will enable me to demonstrate a life of discipline and self-control. Therefore, by faith, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, I shall live a life of discipline and self-control for the glory of God. Self- control is essential for supernatural living.

Presidential Prayer Team; J.K. – Blinded

 

In his commentary, Matthew Henry observed: “A good man is ashamed to speak that which many wicked people are not ashamed to act.” Coincidentally, a great many of those acts take place in darkness.

Walk as children of light.

Ephesians 5:8

Darkness is a powerful scriptural image. Believers are to put aside “the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (Romans 13:12) But more than a lifestyle, darkness is an evil power which can hold you in its claws. No fate is as grim as that which awaits those who march behind “the prince of the power of the air.” (Ephesians 2:2) It is Satan who would lead you to destruction under the divine wrath of God. The only hope for the one in the grip of darkness is the light provided by Jesus (John 1:5). Those who believe in Him are rescued from the realm of darkness to become children of light. As that child, let your lifestyle and conversation of what is good and right and true testify to the joy you have in Christ (Ephesians 5:9).

Satan blinds the lost so they cannot see the light of the truth. Intercede, then, for this nation and its leaders that God will open their eyes to see and trust in Jesus as Lord.

Recommended Reading: Ephesians 5:3-11, 18-21

 

Greg Laurie – The Surprises of Life

 

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.”—1 Corinthians 9:24

One thing I have found in life is that it is full of surprises. Many of them are unexpected pleasures and blessings that come our way. Others are tragic and sad. I have been greatly surprised by the way some people’s lives have turned out.

I can think of individuals I have met that seemed to have no potential whatsoever. They were never expected to amount to much of anything. In school, people made fun of them, calling them “geeks” and “nerds.” Now those same people are calling them “boss.”

Then there are those that had so much promise—so much raw potential. You just knew they would make their mark in life because they just had that special something: talent, giftedness, great natural ability.

It might have been someone who was unusually gifted spiritually. And sure enough, their star began to rise and you could say “you knew them when.” But then suddenly, seemingly without warning, their life came tumbling down.

Or they were slowly but surely sidetracked by foolish decisions and living. I have seen many talented, super-gifted people crash and burn.

This is sad, because God has a unique, custom-designed plan for each of our lives. As time passes, I find myself more impressed with character than charisma—with personal integrity than talent.

I am more impressed with someone who has, for instance, stayed with their spouse than someone who may have some huge ministry (not that you can’t have both). But the key is to finish what we have started, and to finish it well, because if you run first place in a race for every lap except the last, it doesn’t matter.

You have to cross that finish line and play by the rules. So run your race with all of your strength. Guard your life so that you don’t get sidetracked or disqualified. And keep your eyes on the finish line.

 

Streams in the Desert for Kids – Be Patient!

 

Psalm 37:7

When we read the Bible, it seems like miracles happened every day, but it wasn’t really that way. In the Old Testament, for example, God performed amazing miracles when he freed his people from slavery in Egypt. First there were ten plagues to convince Pharaoh to let God’s people go. Then, when Pharaoh sent his army after the slaves, God parted the Red Sea so his people could escape from the Egyptian soldiers. And if that weren’t miracle enough, God closed the sea at just the right time so the entire army drowned!

That’s a lot of miracles one right after the other, but God’s people had waited four hundred years for these miracles to begin. For four hundred years they were slaves and held onto God’s promise that they would one day be free to go to their Promised Land. Four hundred years is nearly twice as long as the United States has existed as a country. It’s a long, long time.

Not many people like to wait; and they especially don’t like to wait a long time for something they really want. How about you? Do you get impatient when the Internet connection isn’t fast enough or when the microwave seems to take too long? It can be even harder when God is the one we’re waiting for, hoping he will do something.

What do you wish God would do for you? Are you praying about it? Are you waiting for an answer? God knows what you need better than you do. He cares about you. Patience helps us wait quietly knowing God is going to give us exactly what we need.

Dear Lord, I have a hard time waiting. I know you have plans that are much bigger than anything I can think of. Help me to wait patiently for you to answer my prayer. Amen.

Discovering God’s Design – I Shall Not Want

 

Psalm 23:1–6

The ordering of the Psalter is no accident. As English pastor and theologian Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834–1892) observed, it is only after we have read “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Ps 22:1) that we come to “The LORD is my shepherd” (Ps 23:1).

Experience teaches us that “I lack nothing” cannot mean that we will always receive what we desire—even if our wants are in keeping with God’s general principles. A man may long to become a missionary, only to be paralyzed in an automobile accident. A woman with wonderful potential as a Christian mother may remain infertile. And what about those desires to improve our lot in life? Many of God’s “sheep,” both at home and abroad, are hungry, naked—even dying—at this very moment. The meaning of “I lack nothing” is that I will never lack anything necessary to my ultimate good—which God has wrapped up with his own (cf. Ro 8:28,38–39).

The fact is that if this psalm had no valley in it (v. 4), it wouldn’t have any comfort either. When we pass through life’s valleys, we have the assurance that we will never lack anything required for our eternal well-being. The only reason a shepherd would guide his sheep into a dangerous valley would be to lead them through it to a better place (see Heb 11:16,40).

In his personal role as a real-life shepherd, Phillip W. Keller has reflected extensively on Psalm 23. Following are extracts from his observations on Psalm 23:5:

In thinking about [the] statement [“You prepare a table before me …”] it is well to bear in mind that the sheep are approaching this high mountain country of the summer ranges. These are known as alplands or tablelands so much sought after by the sheepmen.

In some of the finest sheep country of the world, especially in the Western United States and Southern Europe, the high plateau of the sheep ranges are always referred to as “mesas”—the Spanish word for “tables.”

So it may be seen that what David referred to as a table was actually the entire high summer range. Though these “mesas” may have been remote and hard to reach, the energetic and aggressive sheep owner takes the time and trouble to ready them for the arrival of his flocks.

It is not always apparent to us what tremendous personal cost it has been for Christ to prepare the table for His own. Just as the lonely, personal privation of the sheepman who prepares the summer range for his stock entails a sacrifice, so the lonely agony of Gethsemane, of Pilate’s hall, of Calvary, have cost my Master much.

Think About It

  • What does this beloved psalm mean to you personally?
  • What do you feel you lack that you need to turn over to God’s keeping?
  • What does the sacrifice of Jesus teach you about God’s care for you?

Pray About It

Lord, you are my shepherd. I have everything I need. You give me peace and guide me to do right. Even when bad things happen, I will not be afraid because you are there beside me. Thank you for all you give me.

C.S. Lewis Daily – Today’s Reading

 

The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.

We can only do it for moments at first. But from those moments the new sort of life will be spreading through our system: because now we are letting Him work at the right part of us. It is the difference between paint, which is merely laid on the surface, and a dye or stain which soaks right through. He never talked vague, idealistic gas. When He said, ‘Be perfect,’ He meant it. He meant that we must go in for the full treatment. It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder—in fact, it is impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.

From Mere Christianity

Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis