Charles Stanley – When We Are Lonely

 

Hebrews 13:1-5

God created humanity for companionship with Himself and each other. He doesn’t want people to suffer the emotional turmoil of loneliness. That’s why His Word contains pledges of His constant presence as well as instructions to prevent loneliness among church members.

The Lord stressed His unceasing presence because He knows our need for assurance, especially when we feel deserted or isolated. His vow never to forsake believers is found throughout the Bible: This comforting word was spoken to Joshua, the Israelites, and the disciples who were about to witness Jesus’ ascension (Joshua 1:5; Matthew 28:20). Some biblical saints picked up the theme in their writing as well. David often sought God’s solace (Psalms 25:16). And the apostle Paul preached that nothing compared with drawing close to Christ (Philippians 3:8). God wants every believer to trust implicitly that He is near.

The church is designed to meet our need for person-to-person connection. A spiritual body works much like a human body—parts are both independent and interdependent, each needing others in order to function well. We require support from our brothers and sisters in Christ. Knowing this, Paul admonished people to accept one another (Romans 15:7), bear each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), and avoid judging (Romans 14:13).

Loneliness can cripple a person emotionally and spiritually. Human beings are not designed to walk through this world alone. We are made for relationship, which God gladly supplies. Lest we forget that the Lord is near, He gave the Bible this consistent theme: I love you and I am with you always.

Our Daily Bread — Tell Your Story

 

Read: 1 Timothy 1:12-20

Bible in a Year: 2 Kings 13-14; John 2

Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim Your greatness. —Psalm 145:6 NLT

Michael Dinsmore, a former prisoner and relatively new Christian, was asked to give his testimony in a prison. After he spoke, some inmates came to him and said, “This is the most exciting meeting we’ve ever been to!” Michael was amazed that God could use his simple story.

In 1 Timothy, after Paul had charged Timothy to stay the course preaching the gospel (1:1-11), he shared his personal testimony to encourage the young man (vv.12-16). He told about God’s mercy in his own life. Paul said that he had mocked the Lord, but He changed him. In His mercy, God not only counted him faithful and gave him a job to do, but He also enabled him to do His work (v.12). Paul considered himself the worst of sinners, but God saved him (v.15).

The Lord is able! That is what Paul wanted Timothy to see, and what we need to see too. Through Paul’s testimony, we see God’s mercy. If God could use someone like Paul, He can use us. If God could save the worst of sinners, then no one is beyond His reach.

Our story of God’s work in our lives can encourage others. Let those around you know that the God of the Bible is still at work today! —Poh Fang Chia

Father, thank You for the salvation You offer and that no one, including me, is beyond the reach of Your mercy, grace, and transforming power. Help me share my story with others so that people can see Your love.

No one is beyond the reach of God’s love.

INSIGHT: Before Paul’s conversion he put Christian believers in prison and was present for at least one murder—that of Stephen, who was stoned for preaching about Christ (Acts 7:59–8:1). Yet after his conversion Paul sums up his former life in just three words, telling Timothy that he was “a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man” (1 Tim. 1:13). He then tells what God has done for him (vv. 13-17), reminding us that it is not who we were that is important; it is what God has done for us.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The March of Easter

 

Romans 8:1-2.

When I imagine the women who came to the tomb to see the body of Jesus the day after he was crucified, I understand their sickened panic. The body had been taken somewhere unbeknownst and unknown to them. It was out of their sight, out of their care. He was out of their sight—not an empty shell, not “just” a body, but the one they loved. Mary Magdalene was devastated. She ran to Peter in horror: “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

There is something about the human spirit that inherently seems to understand the importance of caring for the dead, of moving them carefully from the place of death to a place of rest, finality, and farewell. What we have come to know commonly as the funeral is based on this fundamentally human behavior. It is understood that the dead cannot remain among the living, and yet their removal from society is never a task met with levity. Evidences of tender ceremony are noted in the oldest human burial sites ever found.(1) This movement of the dead from the place of the living to a place of parting is full of tremendous symbolic meaning.

For British statesman and avowed atheist Roy Hattersley, this meaning and symbolism has been a complicated part of the imagination with which he views the world. For years he has disapproved of the funeral service, finding it a paradoxical attempt to soften the blow of utter darkness, with clergy fulsome about the dead man’s virtues and discreet about his vices, and congregations gathered more as a matter of form than feeling. In the mind (or at the funeral) of one who remains committed to the unpleasant truth that life simply ends as haphazardly as it began, there is no room or reason for the promise of resurrection and the pomp of certain comfort.

And yet, Hattersley writes in The Guardian of an experience that almost converted him to the belief that funerals ought to be encouraged nonetheless. His conclusion was forged as he sang the hymns and studied the proclamations of a crowd that seemed sincere: “[T]he church is so much better at staging farewells than non-believers could ever be,” he writes. “‘Death where is thy sting, grave where is they victory?‘ are stupid questions. But even those of us who do not expect salvation find a note of triumph in the burial service. There could be a godless thanksgiving for and celebration of the life of [whomever]. The music might be much the same. But it would not have the uplifting effect without the magnificent, meaningless words.”(2)

Hattersley’s attempt to remain consistent from his views of life to his experience of death is admirable. For it is indeed peculiar that an uncompromising atheist can conclude there is something almost necessary in a distinctly Christian burial. If what makes for human existence is, in essence, the material, bodies without any inherent facet of the sacred, then the act of moving a body to the place of farewell is far more a matter of mere disposal than hallowed journey. In other words, Hattersley realizes positions like his leave no room for a “decent send-off,” a beautiful, last farewell. And yet, he is far from alone in his need for it. As Thomas Long notes in his comprehensive study of the funeral practice, “[D]eath and the sacred are inextricably entwined.”(3)

The Christian burial is moved by this understanding, taking its cue from no less than the death and resurrection of the human Son of God. Human beings are seen neither as “just” bodies nor as souls in temporary shells, but as dust—indeed, as material—material into which God has breathed life. Human beings are embodied within a story that the Christian funeral tells again and again: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. Because Jesus traveled through death to God before us, Christians believe it possible to make the same journey. Because Christ has journeyed from birth to tomb to the Father, we take this journey again and again with those we love and let go—with both lament and hope.

In this embodied gospel of death and resurrection, suffering and redemption, humanity’s instinctive need to accompany a body from here to there is strikingly met with the particulars of “here” and “there”—namely, life here among the Body of Christ to life resurrected in the presence of the Father. And so, we go the distance with the bodies we love, we accompany them to the grave, we weep at their tombs and we follow them with singing: because it is a journey we do not want to miss.

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

(1) Thomas Long, Accompany Them with Singing: The Christian Funeral (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009), 3.

(2) Roy Hattersley, “A Decent Send-off,” The Guardian, January 16, 2006, accessed March 20, 2010, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/jan/16/religion.uk2.

(3) Thomas Long, Accompany Them with Singing: The Christian Funeral (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009), 4.

Alistair Begg – It Is Good

 

I am with you always.

Matthew 28:20

It is good that there is One who is always the same and who is always with us. It is good that there is one stable rock amidst the billows of the sea of life. Let us not set our soul’s affections upon rusting, moth-eaten, decaying treasures but set our hearts upon Him who remains faithful forever. Let us not build our house upon the moving quicksands of a deceitful world but base our hopes upon this rock that, amid descending rain and roaring floods, shall stand immovably secure.

My soul, I charge you, lay up your treasure in the only secure cabinet; store your jewels where you can never lose them. Put your all in Christ; set all your affections on His person, all your hope in His merit, all your trust in His efficacious blood, all your joy in His presence, and then you may laugh at loss and defy destruction. Remember that all the flowers in the world’s garden fade by turns, and the day comes when nothing will be left but the black, cold earth and death will soon put out your candle.

How sweet to have the sunlight when the candle is gone! The dark flood must soon roll between you and all you have; so join your heart to Him who will never leave you; trust Him who will go with you through the surging current of death’s stream and who will bring you safely to the celestial shore and have you sit with Him in heavenly places forever. In the sorrows of affliction, tell your secrets to the Friend who sticks closer than a brother. Trust all your concerns to Him who can never be taken from you, who will never leave you, and who will never let you leave Him, even “Jesus Christ [who] is the same yesterday and today and forever.”1 “I am with you always” is enough for my soul to live upon no matter who forsakes me.

1) Hebrew 13:8

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

Charles Spurgeon – The form of sound words

 

“Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 1:13

Suggested Further Reading: Deuteronomy 6:4-7, 20-25

Let me exhort you, as much as lies in you, to give your children sound instruction in the great doctrines of the gospel of Christ. I believe that what Irving once said is a great truth. He said, “In these modern times you boast and glory, and you think yourselves to be in a high and noble condition, because you have your Sabbath-schools and British-schools, and all kinds of schools for teaching youth. I tell you,” he said, “that philanthropic and great as these are, they are the ensigns of your disgrace; they show that your land is not a land where parents teach children at home. They show you there is a want of parental instruction; and though they be blessed things, these Sabbath-schools, they are indications of something wrong, for if we all taught our children there would be no need of strangers to say to our children ‘Know the Lord.’” I trust you will never give up that excellent puritanical habit of catechising your children at home. Any father or mother who entirely gives up a child to the teaching of another has made a mistake. There is no teacher who wishes to absolve a parent from what he ought to do himself. He is an assistant, but he was never intended to be a substitute. Teach your children; bring out your old catechisms again, for they are, after all, blessed means of instruction, and the next generation shall outstrip those that have gone before it; for the reason why many of you are weak in the faith is this, you did not receive instruction in your youth in the great things of the gospel of Christ. If you had, you would have been so grounded, and settled, and firm in the faith, that nothing could by any means have moved you.

For meditation: Faithful teaching from his mother and grandmother had prepared Timothy for his further education from the apostle Paul (Acts 16:1-3; 2 Timothy 1:5, 3:14-15).

Sermon no. 79
11 May (1856)

John MacArthur – Leading Others to Christ (Andrew)

 

The twelve apostles included “Andrew” (Matt. 10:2).

Leading others to Christ should be a top priority in your life.

Andrew was Peter’s brother and a native of Bethsaida of Galilee. From the very start we see him leading people to Christ—beginning with his own brother.

The gospel of John records his first encounter with Jesus: “John [the Baptist] was standing with two of his disciples (Andrew and John), and he looked upon Jesus as He walked, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’ And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. . . . One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He found first his own brother Simon, and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which translated means Christ). He brought him to Jesus” (John 1:35-37, 40-42). Later Jesus called both Andrew and Peter to become His disciples, and they immediately left their fishing nets to follow Him (Matt. 4:20).

Our next glimpse of Andrew is in John 6:8-9. It was late in the day and thousands of people who were following Jesus were beginning to get hungry, but there wasn’t enough food to feed them. Then Andrew brought to Jesus a young boy with five barley loaves and two fish. From that small lunch Jesus created enough food to feed the entire crowd!

Andrew also appears in John 12:20-22, which tells of some Greeks who were traveling to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover feast. They came to Philip and requested to see Jesus. Philip took them to Andrew, who apparently took them to Jesus.

Andrew didn’t always know how Jesus would deal with a particular person or situation, but he kept right on bringing them to Him anyway. That’s a characteristic every believer should have. Your spiritual gifts might differ from others, but your common goal is to make disciples (Matt. 28:19-20), and that begins with leading sinners to Christ. Make that your priority today!

Suggestions for Prayer; When was the last time you told an unbeliever about Jesus? Pray for an opportunity to do so soon.

For Further Study; Do you know how to present the gospel clearly and accurately? As a review read Romans 3:19-28, 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, Ephesians 2:8-10, and Titus 3:4-7.

Joyce Meyer – Doing Things God’s Way

 

I am the Way. John 14:6

Many people are hurting so badly, and they are crying out for help. The problem is, they are not willing to receive the help they need from God. No matter how much we may want or need help, we are never going to receive it until we are willing to do things God’s way. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the Way.” What Jesus meant when He said, “I am the Way,” is that He has a certain way of doing things; and if we will submit to His way, everything will work out for us.

But so often we wrestle and struggle with Him, trying to get Him to do things our way. It just won’t work. Countless times have people have stood in front of me at the altar and told me all kinds of terrible things that are going on in their lives and how badly they are hurting, yet they absolutely refuse to do what they are told to do to receive the help they need. Too often people are trying to find some other way to get help rather than by doing things God’s way.

The Bible plainly teaches that if we will learn and act on the Word, God will bless our lives. Let me give you an example. The Bible teaches that we are to live in harmony and peace with others and to forgive those who have done us wrong. If we refuse to do that, what hope do we have of receiving what we need?

I remember how difficult it was for me the first time the Lord told me I had to go to my husband and tell him I was sorry for being rebellious against him. I thought I would die on the spot! I realize that one reason we don’t always do what we are told to do in the Word of God is because it is hard.

If we don’t do what we can do, then God won’t do what we can’t do. If we will do what we can do, God will do what we can’t do. It’s just that simple.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Recognizing False Teachers

 

“Beware of false teachers who come disguised as harmless sheep, but are wolves and will tear you apart. You can detect them by the way they act, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit. You need never confuse grapevines with thorn bushes or figs with thistles” (Matthew 7:15,16). 

The secular press frequently quoted a famous professor in one of the most prestigious theological seminaries in the world, referring to him as the Protestant theologian of our time. As I talked with two of his students, whom I had the privilege of introducing to Christ, I asked, “What is your impression of Professor So-and-so?” They replied, “If the Bible is true, he is not a Christian.”

They went on to explain that he denied the deity of Christ, the authority of Scripture and all the basic tenets of the Christian faith. Yet he was so subtle, so brilliant and profound, that many pastors and Christian leaders who were not biblically oriented were deceived and looked upon him as a great scholar and theologian.

However, after he died, his wife wrote a highly revealing book in which she described his many sexual exploits as well as his other wrongdoings that were inconsistent with what the Bible teaches.

There are many false teachers in the seminaries and pulpits of the world, who represent another master, not our Lord Jesus Christ. They do not preach the inspired Word of God. Often brilliant, loving, gracious, considerate people, they are, nevertheless, well-described by our Lord as false teachers, wolves disguised as harmless sheep.

How can you recognize false teachers? The test is threefold: (1) What is their view of the Lord Jesus Christ? Is He truly the Son of God? Did He die on the cross for our sins? Was He raised from the dead? (2) Do they profess that the Bible is the authority of God, divinely inspired? (3) Do they live lives that are consistent with the teachings of Scripture? Or do they condone practices that are contrary to the Word of God? If they do the latter, beware, for they will rob you of the supernatural resources of God that are available to you.

As you meditate upon the entire passage of scripture for today, ask God to give you a discerning spirit that you may not be deceived by false teachers.

Bible Reading: Matthew 7:13-23

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I shall meditate upon God’s Word and weigh those who profess to be His followers in light of their view of the Lord Jesus Christ, His holy, inspired Word, and how their lives are a witness to what God’s Word commands us to be I will instruct other believers and non-believers alike to be alert to the influence of false teachers.

Presidential Prayer Team; J.R. – Miracle of Birth

 

“Did you ever see a cowboy film,” the novelist Marian Keyes was once asked by a friend, “where someone has been caught by the Indians and tied between two wild stallions, each pulling in opposite directions?” “Yes,” Marian said, nodding. “That’s a bit what giving birth is like.”

Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children?

Genesis 21:7

For all its pain, there is nothing as miraculous, incredible and hopeful as birth. America was very nearly destroyed by the Civil War, but Abraham Lincoln restored the nation’s spirits for the future when he spoke of a “new birth of freedom” in his Gettysburg Address. In John’s Gospel, Jesus’ concept of being “born again” left Nicodemus in wonderment. “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother‘s womb and be born?” Nicodemus asked the Savior. Abraham’s wife Sarah, far beyond her childbearing years, thought the idea that she would give birth was laughable and ludicrous…until God made it happen.

It’s not too late – for you, for America or for those you love who seem beyond hope. New birth will be possible, even inevitable, when God hears your faithful prayers!

Recommended Reading: John 3:1-16

Greg Laurie – Why God Must Judge

 

“Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the LORD God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’ “—Ezekiel 33:11

God takes no pleasure in bringing judgment. In the New Testament we find Jesus grieving over the city of Jerusalem and weeping over her: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Luke 13:34).

And in Ezekiel 33, God said, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (verse 11).

Then why does God send judgment? Answer: Because He is a just God. Abraham rightly said, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25). If people can flagrantly and continually break God’s laws, committing murder and perverting anything and everything that is right and good, would it be right for God to turn away and ignore it? Do you expect God to simply turn a blind eye to all injustice? Or do you expect Him to do something?

“But it is not loving to bring judgment,” someone might say.

Let’s say that you were the parent of a toddler who was playing in your backyard. Suddenly a wolf comes along, and you see that wolf climb over the fence and sprint toward your toddler. What are you going to do? Are you going to run and give that wolf a big hug? No. The wolf has become your enemy because he is trying to hurt your child. Because you love that child, you hate anything that would harm the one you love.

God is saying, in effect, “I love you, and I hate this wickedness and this sin. I want you to turn away from it.” God’s heart aches over our rebellion.

Max Lucado – The Power of Love

 

May I meddle for a moment? What’s the one thing separating you from joy? How do you fill in this blank: “I will be happy when____?” When I’m healed…when I’m promoted…when I’m married…when I’m single…when I’m rich?  With your answer firmly in mind, answer this. If your dream never comes true, if the situation never changes, would you be happy? If not, then you’re sleeping in the cold cell of discontent.

You need to know what you have in your Shepherd. You have a God who hears you, the power of love behind you, the Holy Spirit within you, and all of heaven ahead of you. If you have the Shepherd, you have grace for every sin, direction for every turn, a candle for every corner, and an anchor for every storm. You have everything you need!

From Traveling Light

Night Light for Couples – Someone Is Listening

 

“[The righteous] are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed.” Psalm 37:26

Be careful what you say in the presence of your babies. That’s the advice of a researcher at Johns Hopkins University, who tells us that children only eight months of age are capable of hearing and remembering words, good and bad. In a study by Dr. Peter Juscyzk, babies were exposed to three recorded stories for a period of about ten days. When they were tested in the lab two weeks later, they clearly recognized the words in the stories but failed to respond to those they hadn’t heard. According to Robin Chapman, a University of Wisconsin language specialist, the study demonstrates that very young children attend to the sounds of language and are able to pick out those that are familiar. Chapman concludes that “a lot of language learning is happening in the first year of life.”

Whether we like it or not, almost everything we say and do is observed and recorded—by the patrolman with a radar gun, by the convenience store video camera, and even by our young children. If our marriage models a spirit of generosity worth imitating, it will lead to blessings for everyone.

Just between us…

  • What are some of your earliest memories of your parents’ words and actions?
  • If we videotaped ourselves, would we be pleased by what we saw?
  • Besides each other, whom do we influence with our everyday words and deeds? Are we modeling a spirit of generosity for them?

Lord, we know that our every action has a tremendous impact on those around us, and we want to be mature, responsible and positive ambassadors for You. Help us glorify You in how we think, act, and speak. Amen.

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