Charles Stanley – The Blessing of a Praying Parent

 

 1 Samuel 2:1-10

Hannah experienced great sorrow prior to the birth of her son Samuel. Through that difficult time, however, she demonstrated a strong love for the Lord and a dependence on Him through prayer.

Samuel had a mother who loved God deeply. In fact, Hannah saw herself as the Lord’s handmaid, whose life was in service to Him (1 Samuel 1:11 KJV). Even when her misery was overwhelming, she acknowledged how important He was to her, and she modeled a godly lifestyle.

We are commanded to love the Lord with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30) and to give Him first place in our life (Deuteronomy 5:7). If we love God, we will make sure our children know about Him and understand the importance of a relationship with Him through Christ. Our lives, though flawed, will reveal the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.

Samuel was blessed because Hannah was a woman of prayer. After telling of her petition, which stemmed from misery, Scripture records her declaration of praise, which came from a heart rejoicing over God’s answer to her cries. A praying mother gives high priority to bringing family concerns before the Lord. I remember my mom kneeling with me by my bed to pray. I can still recall the phrases she used and the things she talked over with Him.

Children need committed parents who 1) demonstrate love toward both the family and God, and 2) help them experience the power and joy of prayer (James 5:16). Even one parent can make a powerful difference when Christ is the center of the home. I know my mother did.

Our Daily Bread — All Aboard

 

Read: 2 Peter 3:1-13

Bible in a Year: 2 Kings 4-6; Luke 24:36-53

The Lord is . . . longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish. —2 Peter 3:9

One day when I dropped my husband off at our local train station, I watched as the conductor scanned the area for stragglers. A woman with wet hair bounded from the parking lot and up into the train. Then, a man in a dark suit strode to the platform and climbed aboard. The conductor waited patiently while several more late-comers sprinted to the tracks and boarded at the last moment.

Just as the conductor was patient with people boarding the train, God patiently waits for people to come to know Him. However, someday Jesus will return and “the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat” (2 Peter 3:10). When this happens, or when our physical bodies die, it will be too late to establish a relationship with God.

“The Lord is . . . longsuffering toward us,” Peter says, “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (v.9). If you have delayed deciding to follow Christ, there is good news—you can still commit yourself to Him. “If you declare with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9 NIV). He is calling. Will you run in His direction? —Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, Calling for you and for me; See, on the portals He’s waiting and watching, Watching for you and for me. —Thompson

Now is the time to choose the Lord.

INSIGHT: Peter wrote to a persecuted and suffering group of Christians, which is why he highlighted the faithfulness of God. Peter wanted them to remember that the Lord would fulfill the promise of His second coming (v. 13).

Ravi Zacharias Ministry –    Signs, Slogans, and Escape Vehicles

 

In 2010 the Freedom From Religion Foundation launched the largest freethinkers billboard campaign ever to take place in the heart of the US “Bible Belt.” Signs reading “Imagine No Religion” “Sleep in on Sundays” and “In Reason We Trust” were placed throughout Atlanta and beyond in one of many attempts throughout the world to bring positive thoughts of atheism into public discourse. The London bus campaign a few years prior sent hundreds of buses throughout England, Scotland, Wales, and Barcelona with similar slogans: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”(2) The £140,000 multi-media advertising campaign was designed to bring comfort in the probability that God does not exist, a positive contrast to religious advertisements meant to incite fear. The campaign used quotes from influential voices who have shown that embracing atheism, or at least expressing skepticism about the existence of God, is freeing. One quote reads, “An atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death.” Another, written by nineteenth century American humanist Robert Ingersoll, notes, “The time to be happy is now!”

Reactions to campaigns such as these are generally mixed.  With every sign, plans for additional advertising seem to pop up throughout the world. One slogan provoked strong reactions in Barcelona, where critics branded the words as “an attack on all religions.”(3) Christians in London were on all sides of the debate, with some offended—one bus driver refused to drive his bus—and others optimistic at the opportunity for discussion. Posters and billboards of this nature, says director Paul Woolley of the theology think tank Theos, “encourage people to consider the most important question we will ever face in our lives.”(4)

Christianity has in fact long been indicted as an emotional crutch for those unable to accept life’s difficult realities, those in need of an escape vehicle to take them to another world. To be fair, it is not an entirely undue critique. The Christian is indeed someone marked by an inability to accept the cruelties of this world as status quo. Like the prophets, Christians are well aware that this life marred by cancer, injustice, poverty, corruption, tears, and death is not the way it is supposed to be. We live alert with the distinct notion that humanity was created for something more. Of course, the temptation, then, and one of the more severe misapplications of the faith, is to checkout of this world, living content in Christian circles, and ever-looking upward to better life.  In such a scenario, one’s Christianity is indeed nothing more than wishful thinking, a philosophy wrenched from its founder and marched down an illogical road.

But do the growing numbers of atheists who insist that life without God is “freeing” not succumb to a similar temptation, making life and even death sound better than their own philosophies impart? If God is a farce and life is but rapidly moving time and the unapologetic force of chance is “reassured” really a viable option? If there is no divine being, no creator of time, no one hearing prayers or answering the cries of injustice, can we really be comforted, unworried, even lighthearted about life as we know it? MacBeth was far more honest about humanity on this stage:

Out, out, brief candle!

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

Surely we can attempt to dress such a philosophy in beautiful robes, but in the end we will find it was all an act. Whatever our philosophies, whatever colorful billboards catch our eyes, we do well to follow them to their logical ends.

And thus, whether in the eyes of Christians or atheists, it is more than lamentable that belief in Christ has come to be seen as something for another world, a philosophy for another time, a religion that merely attempts to frighten us in the present for the sake of the future. For the Christian does not make her pilgrimage to new life by way of escape vehicle, sounding sirens along the way. Quite the contrary, Christianity promises glimpses of new life even now, gifts worth searching for as if searching for prized treasure or lost coins. We can live as people transformed by the vicarious humanity of Christ in all his fullness, and we can lament and groan as humans yearning for the fulfillment of more to come. Faith in God is not a source of worry, as the buses and billboards (and perhaps some Christians) suggest, nor is faith in Christ an obstacle for enjoying life. Far from this, by faith the Christian is given a life truly like that of Christ’s—fully human, fully alive. And whether Christian or atheist, freethinker or fretting player, we must take care not to raise billboards that suggest something other than our philosophies impart.

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

(1) “Atheist Activists’ Biggest Billboard Campaign Targets Atlanta,” September 10, 2010, http://newsmax.com, accessed September 10, 2010.

(2) Ariane Sherine, “The Atheist Bus Journey,” January 6 2009, http://guardian.co.uk, accessed January 12, 2009.

(3) Giles Tremlett, “Atheist Bus Ad Campaign Provokes Bitterness in Barcelona,” January 7, 2009, guardian.co.uk, accessed January 12, 2009.

(4) Maria Mackay, “Atheist Bus Ads Say ‘Probably No God’” January 6, 2009, http://christiantoday.com, accessed January 12, 2009.

 

Alistair Begg – Partial Knowledge

 

The man who had been healed did not know who it was. John 5:13

Years pass quickly for the happy and the healthy; but thirty-eight years of disease must have seemed like forever in the life of the poor impotent man. When Jesus, therefore, healed him by a word while he lay at the pool of Bethesda, the man was delightfully aware of a change. Even so the sinner who has for weeks and months been paralyzed with despair and has wearily sighed for salvation is very conscious of the change when the Lord Jesus speaks the word of power and gives joy and peace in believing. The evil removed is too great to be removed without our discerning it; the life imparted is too remarkable to be possessed and remain inoperative; and the change is too marvelous not to be perceived.

Yet the poor man was ignorant of the author of his cure; he did not know this person, or the part that he played, or the plan that had brought Him among men. Hearts that feel the power of His blood may still be ignorant of His ways. We must not be too quick to condemn men for lack of knowledge; but where we can see the faith that saves the soul, we must believe that salvation has been bestowed. The Holy Spirit makes men penitents long before He makes them ministers; and he who believes what he knows shall soon know more clearly what he believes.

Ignorance is, however, an evil; for this poor man was much tantalized by the Pharisees and was quite unable to cope with them. It is good to be able to answer our critics; but we cannot do so if we do not know the Lord Jesus clearly and with understanding. The cure of his ignorance, however, soon followed the cure of his infirmity, for he was visited by the Lord in the temple; and after that gracious discourse, he was soon declaring to all “that it was Jesus who had healed him.” Lord, if You have saved me, show me Yourself, that I may declare You to the sons of men.

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

 

Charles Spurgeon – The necessity of the Spirit’s work

 

“And I will put my Spirit within you.” Ezekiel 36:27

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:1-13

Talking one day with a countryman, he used this figure: “In the middle of winter I sometimes think how well I could mow; and in early spring I think, how I would like to reap; I feel just ready for it; but when mowing time comes, I find I have no strength to spare.” So when you have no troubles, couldn’t you mow them down at once? When you have no work to do, couldn’t you do it? But when work and trouble come, you find how difficult it is. Many Christians are like the stag, who talked to itself, and said, “Why should I run away from the dogs? Look what a fine pair of horns I’ve got, and look what heels I’ve got too; I might do these hounds some mischief. Why not let me stand and show them what I can do with my antlers? I can keep off any quantity of dogs.” No sooner did the dogs bark, than off the stag went. So with us. “Let sin arise,” we say, “we will soon rip it up, and destroy it; let trouble come, we will soon get over it;” but when sin and trouble come, we then find what our weakness is. Then we have to cry for the help of the Spirit; and through him we can do all things, though without him we can do nothing at all. In all the acts of the Christian’s life, whether it be the act of consecrating one’s self to Christ, or the act of daily prayer, or the act of constant submission, or preaching the gospel, or ministering to the necessities of the poor, or comforting the desponding, in all these the Christian finds his weakness and his powerlessness, unless he is clothed about with the Spirit of God.

For meditation: The Christian is dependant on the Holy Spirit for gifts, graces (Galatians 5:22,23) and devotions (Romans 8:26). Do you serve God in the strength which he supplies (1 Peter 4:11) or are you content to struggle on uselessly in your own strength?

Sermon no. 251
8 May (1859)

John MacArthur – Building a Leader: The Right Experiences (Peter)

 

The twelve apostles included “Simon, who is called Peter” (Matt. 10:2).

Your present experiences contribute to your future leadership ability.

Stan Carder is a dear brother in Christ and one of the pastors on our church staff. Before coming to Grace Church he pastored a church in Montana. While there, he was riding one night in a truck that was involved in a very serious accident. Stan suffered a broken neck and other major injuries. As a result he underwent months of arduous and painful therapy.

That was one of the most difficult periods in Stan’s life, yet God used it for a specific purpose. Today, as pastor of our special-ministries department, Stan ministers to more than 500 physically and mentally handicapped people. God needed a man with unique qualifications to show love to a group of very special people. He chose Stan and allowed him the necessary experiences to fit him for the task.

God doesn’t always permit such serious situations, but He does lead each of us into life-changing experiences that heighten our effectiveness in ministry.

Peter had many such experiences. In Matthew 16:15-16, for example, God gave him special revelation about the deity of Christ. In Acts 10 God sent him to preach the gospel to Gentiles—something unheard of at the time because Jewish people resisted any interaction with Gentiles. Perhaps the most tragic experience of Peter’s life was his denial of Christ. But even that only increased his love for Christ and his appreciation of God’s grace. After His resurrection, Christ forgave him and restored him to ministry (John 21:15-19).

Peter’s many experiences helped prepare him for the key role he was to play in the early church. Similarly, your experiences help prepare you for future ministry. So seek to discern God’s hand in your circumstances and rejoice at the prospect of becoming a more effective Christian.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for both the good and bad experiences you have, knowing that each of them is important to your spiritual growth (cf. James 1:2-4).

For Further Study

Read Acts 10, noting what Peter learned from his experience.

  • What vision did Peter have?
  • What was the point of the vision?

Joyce Meyer – Trust God’s Timing

 

I trusted in, relied on, and was confident in You, O Lord; I said, You are my God. My times are in Your hands. Psalm 31:14-15

Trust requires you to place your time in God’s hands, believing that His timing is perfect for all things in your life.

Your human nature wants good things to happen in your life now—not later. But as you mature in the Christian life you learn to believe for things not now, but in God’s perfect timing.

Trusting God often means not knowing how God is going to accomplish something and not knowing when He will do it. But not knowing “how and when” stretches your faith and teaches you lessons in trust. Remember: Trust is not inherited; it is learned.

Timing plays an important part in learning to trust God. As you experience His faithfulness over and over, you will give up trusting yourself and place your life in His very capable hands. What a wonderful place to be!

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Gives Attention

 

“For the eyes of the Lord are intently watching all who live good lives, and He gives attention when they cry to Him” (Psalm 34:15).

A mother and her little 4-year-old daughter were preparing to retire for the night. The child was afraid of the dark, and the mother, on this occasion alone with the child, also felt fearful.

After the light was turned out, the child glimpsed the moon outside the window.

“Mother,” she asked, “is the moon God’s light?”

“Yes,” replied the mother.

“Will God put out His light and go to sleep?”

“No, my child,” the mother replied, “God never goes to sleep.”

“Well,” said the child, with the simplicity of childlike faith, “as long as God is awake, there is no sense in both of us staying awake.”

God expects you and me – with that same kind of childlike faith – not only to live good lives but also to cry out to Him in our times of need, knowing that He watches intently and gives attention to our every cry.

Again we have that helpful imagery of guiding eyes, the eyes of Him who rules and reigns over all – who is concerned about each one of His children, and equally concerned about those who have not yet trusted in Him for He is not willing that any should perish.

Bible Reading: Psalm 34:16-22

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I shall not be afraid to cry out to the Lord when circumstances warrant a call to the Almighty. In the meantime I will devote special time today to worship, praise and thank Him for His goodness to me.

Presidential Prayer Team; P.G. – Best Laid Plans

 

Hudson Taylor, a British evangelical missionary to China, spent 51 years there, beginning 125 schools and converting some 18,000 souls. A praying man, he had definite convictions about how God’s work should be done and was resolute in his plan.

But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless?”

Genesis 15:2

Sarai and Abram faced a dilemma. God had promised a great family legacy, but they were childless. Yet even after voicing their concerns to the Lord, they decided not to wait on Him, taking matters into their own hands. Sarai’s handmaiden, Hagar, bore Abram a son – but he was not the son of promise. Rather, he became the patriarch of another world religion: Islam. Their best laid plans bring tears and fears to many today.

Waiting on the Lord requires just that – waiting! He knew the plans He had for Abram and Sarai, but they weren’t willing to keep trusting. If you are tempted to rush God for answers, or to move ahead of Him with plans of your own, you do so at great risk. Pray for the Lord to hear your cries for patience, and ask Him to reveal His desires to you. Then pray that members of America’s governing class will seek to know God’s plan for the nation.

Recommended Reading: Psalm 130:1-8

Greg Laurie – Frenemies

 

Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.—James 4:4

When the Bible speaks of the world, and it does so frequently, it is speaking of a mentality, a culture, a system that is under the control of Satan. The Bible describes him as the god of this world who has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe (see 2 Corinthians 4:4).

The best definition of the world that we find in the Bible is in 1 John 2:15–16: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.”

Every temptation that you and I will face falls under one of those three categories: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. This was true when Satan tested Jesus in the wilderness. The first temptation was to take stones and turn them into bread. That was the lust of the flesh. Then Satan basically said, “Why don’t You jump off this pinnacle of the temple, and the angels will catch you?” That was the pride of life: Go ahead and do this great thing, and everyone will see how wonderful You are. Lastly, Satan said that he would give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in exchange for His worship. That is the lust of the eyes.

Sometimes we become frenemies with the world. Frenemies are people who are at odds with each other but then become friends—but it is not a genuine friendship at all. And when you are a friend of the world, then in effect you have a frenemy.

Max Lucado – In Prison

 

Are you in prison? You are if you feel better when you have more and worse when you have less. If happiness is one delivery away…you are in prison—the prison of want! That’s the bad news. The good news is, you have a visitor. Look across the visiting table at the psalmist, David. He whispers, I have a secret to tell you, the secret of satisfaction. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” It’s as if David is saying what I have in God is greater than what I don’t have in life.

Contentment comes when we can honestly say with Paul, “I have learned to be satisfied with the things I have. I know how to live when I am poor, and I know how to live when I have plenty.” You think you and I could learn to say the same?

From Traveling Light

Night Light for Couples – Ragamuffin Brother

 

by Ron Mehl

Roy Angel was a dirt‐poor preacher with a millionaire brother. Back in the oil boom days of the late 1940s, Roy’s older brother happened to own the right piece of Texas prairie at the right time. When he sold, he became a multimillionaire overnight. Parlaying that good fortune, the elder Angel made some strategic investments in the stock market and then cashed in on several mushrooming business enterprises. He moved into the penthouse of a large apartment building in New York City and managed his investments from a posh Wall Street office.

A week before Christmas one year, the wealthy businessman visited his preacher‐brother in Chicago and presented him with a new car—a gleaming, top‐of‐the‐line Packard. Roy always kept his new car down the street in a parking garage, under the careful eye of an attendant. That’s why when he came to get his Packard one morning, he was surprised to see a ragamuffin ghetto boy with his face pressed up against one of the car windows. The little boy wasn’t doing anything suspicious; he was obviously just peering into the new car’s interior with wide, admiring eyes.

“Hello, son,” Roy said. The boy spun around and looked at him. “Is this your car, mister?” “Yes,” Roy replied, “it is.” “How much did it cost?” “Well, I really don’t know.” The boy’s face registered surprise. “You mean, you own this car, and you don’t know how much it cost?” “No, I don’t—because my brother gave it to me. As a present.” At this the boy’s eyes grew even wider. He thought for a moment, and then said wistfully, “I wish… I wish….” Roy thought he knew how the boy would finish the sentence. He

thought he was going to say, “I wish I had a brother like that.”

But he didn’t. The boy looked up at Roy and said, “I wish… I wish I could be a brother like that.”

That intrigued the minister, and because those were more innocent times, he said, “Well, son, would you like to take a ride?”

The boy immediately replied, “You bet!”

So they got in the car together, exited the parking garage, and drove slowly down the street. The little boy ran his hand across the soft fabric of the front seat, inhaled the new‐car smell, touched the shiny metal of the dashboard. Then he looked at his new friend and said, “Mister, would you—could you—take me by my house? It’s just a few blocks from here.”

Again, Roy assumed he knew what the lad had in mind. He thought the boy wanted to show off the car he was riding in to some of the neighborhood kids. He thought, Well, why not? So at his young passenger’s direction, Roy pulled up in front of an old, run‐down tenement building.

“Mister,” the boy said as they stopped at the curb, “would you stay here just a minute? I’ll be right back!”

Roy let the car idle as the boy rushed upstairs and disappeared.

After about ten minutes, the preacher began to wonder where the boy had taken himself. He got out of the car and looked up the unlighted stairwell. As he was looking up the dark stairs, he heard someone slowly coming down. The first thing he saw emerging from the gloom was two limp little legs. A moment later, Roy realized it was the little boy carrying an even smaller boy, evidently his younger brother.

The boy gently sat his brother down on the curb. “See?” he said with satisfaction. “It’s just like I told you. It’s a brand new car. His brother gave it to him, and someday I’m going to buy you a car just like that!”

Looking ahead…

In this story of two benevolent brothers, the millionaire certainly gave a nice present—but it’s the little boy who is the better example of a generous spirit. How many children dream of giving a new car to their brother or sister? Somehow I get the feeling that this little fellow wouldn’t squander a fortune if it came his way later in life.

During the coming week, we’ll be talking about the incredible power of generosity for good—both inside our marriage and in our relationships with others. Tonight I leave you with a question: Do you have a generous spirit?

– James C Dobson

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