Charles Stanley – The Real Enemy

 

2 Timothy 2:3

There is a spiritual war being waged throughout the entire world. We as believers must recognize that our enemy is very real, but through Christ, we have the power to fight effectively.

The Scriptures reveal that Satan and a whole empire of evil spirits oppose God and His kingdom. However, the enemies are fallen angels; while we shouldn’t underestimate their abilities, we must not be deceived into thinking of their power as greater than it actually is. Fallen angels are no match for God. When the Lord rebuked demonic forces that were causing torment, they were forced to obey. Jesus gave His disciples authority over these spirits (Luke 10:17-20), and He gives the same to His followers today. First John 4:4 says that through the Holy Spirit, we have already overcome the enemy, because “greater is He who is in [the believer] than he who is in the world.” But if we fail to take up our position in Christ, we will feel overwhelmed and defeated.

Though Satan cannot have our souls, he will try to disable us. When we give in to temptation, he may say, “You’re a weak, unworthy sinner who will never be able to really serve God.” If we believe such accusations, we run the double risk of ceasing to listen to the voice of Truth and forgetting our real identity in Christ. Instead, we can resist the devil (James 4:7) and say to him, “I reject that! It came from you, and I rebuke you in Jesus’ name. What’s more, I take that thought captive to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). We have this authority!

Our Daily Bread — The Riches Of Obedience

 

Read: Psalm 119:14,33-40

Bible in a Year: 2 Kings 17-18; John 3:19-36

I have rejoiced in your laws as much as in riches. —Psalm 119:14 NLT

Publicly operated lotteries exist in more than 100 countries. In a recent year, lottery ticket sales totaled more than $85 billion in just the US and Canada, only part of the total sales worldwide. The lure of huge jackpots has created a mindset among many that all of life’s problems would be solved “if I won the lottery.”

There’s nothing wrong with wealth itself, but it has the power to deceive us into thinking that money is the answer to all our needs. The psalmist, expressing a different point of view, wrote: “I have rejoiced in your laws as much as in riches. . . . I will delight in your decrees and not forget your word” (Ps. 119:14,16 NLT). This concept of spiritual treasure is focused on obedience to God and walking “in the path of [His] commandments” (v.35).

What if we were more excited about following the Lord’s Word than about winning a jackpot worth millions? With the psalmist we might pray, “Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way” (vv.36-37).

The riches of obedience—true riches—belong to all who walk with the Lord. —David McCasland

Dear Lord, may I commit each day to standing on the unchanging truth of Your Word and to growing in my relationship with You, the only measure of success in this life and in eternity.

Success is knowing and loving God.

INSIGHT: Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. Its 176 verses are presented in 22 stanzas of 8 verses each, and each stanza corresponds to the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Because it is an acrostic song, Spurgeon said it could be called “the alphabet of love,” for it unfolds God’s loving provision of wisdom for His children.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – WHAT DOES IT REALLY MEAN TO BE HUMAN?

 

A recent poll for a major Internet search company ranked “What is the meaning of life?” as the toughest question of all, coming far above such other existential stumpers as “What is love?”, “Do blondes have more fun?”, and “Why do you never see baby pigeons?”

To ask questions about life’s meaning is to raise the question of purpose: what does it mean to be human? This is perhaps the most important question we can wrestle with. Viktor Frankl, the Jewish psychotherapist who survived the horrors of the concentration camps during the Second World War, wrote these oft-quoted words:

For too long we have been dreaming a dream from which we are now waking up: the dream that if we just improve the socioeconomic situation of people, everything will be okay, people will become happy. The truth is that as the struggle for survival has subsided, the question has emerged: survival for what? Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.(1)

What Frankl was getting at was the question of meaning, does human life have a purpose, is there something we were designed to aim at, something we were intended to be? If atheism is true and there is no God, then there can be no grand purpose to life—we are just freak cosmic accidents, random collocations of atoms thrown up by the tides of time, chaos, and natural selection. We are nothing more than matter, molecules, and atoms. But if that’s true, some fairly drastic consequences follow. For instance, there would be nothing wrong with treating our fellow human beings on that basis, as if they were just particles, as mere things. After all, they would have no inherent value or dignity.

Christianity, however, has always explored the question “what does it mean to be human?” very differently, rooting its answer back in the very first book of the Bible, where we read:

So God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.(2)

This aren’t just fancy theological words, this is foundational, not least for human value and dignity. That humans bear God’s image, the imago dei, explains why you have real value, regardless of your gender, race, intelligence, or earning potential—why all human beings are equal. It tells you why human life has dignity, why you must not treat people as means rather than ends, and it also gives a foundation for morality and ethics. All of those things in Western civilization have traditionally sat on the idea that human beings were made in God’s image. Toss that idea away as some of my atheist friends wish to do, and all that stands on the ruined foundation crumbles into dust. I say some atheists: others have reflected more deeply. Listen to these words from French atheist philosopher, Luc Ferry:

The Greek world was fundamentally an aristocratic world, a universe organized as a hierarchy in which those most endowed by nature should in principle be “at the top,” while the less endowed saw themselves occupying inferior ranks. And we should not forget that the Greek city-state was founded on slavery. In direct contradiction, Christianity was to introduce the notion that humanity was fundamentally identically, that men were equal in dignity—an unprecedented idea at the time, and one to which our world owes its entire democratic inheritance.(3)

But there’s another fascinating aspect to Genesis 1. Inherent in the Hebrew word translated “image” is the idea of reflection. It is the nature of a mirror to reflect the thing at which it is angled. The Bible says that our lives are designed to be orientated at God, the mirror of our souls intended to reflect God’s glory. But if we don’t orient our lives toward God, what will take his place? All of us angle the mirror of our soul at something and if it isn’t God, it will be work, or family, or performance, or money, or, like Narcissus of the Greek legend, ourselves, transfixed by our own image, beauty, cleverness, or reputation. But if you try and build your life around one of those things, you will end up a hollow, empty individual, for it will ultimately let you down.

There is only one way to deal with our brokenness, the scratches on the mirror of our soul, and that is to orient our lives at the one whom the Bible describes as the perfect image of God, Jesus Christ. According to the Bible, Jesus Christ was willing to be trampled on, rejected, broken for us, that our broken image might be remade, forgiven, and restored. The story of the death and resurrection of Jesus is at heart about restoration: the promise and the power to restore the image of God that we have allowed to become so marred and twisted in us.

If all we had was Genesis 1, we would know that human beings are unique, that they have value and dignity. But we would have no way to get back to that image that we have fallen so far from. But the Bible tells the whole story: the story of what God has done about that problem in Jesus, in the True Image of God, in the cross.

Human beings are not just atoms; we are not just matter. We are more than the stuff of which we are made, more than our economic production, our relationships, our biology, our psychology. We are image bearers who carry incredible value and significance—value so high that Jesus was willing to pay the price of his life to redeem and restore that broken image, that the mirror of our souls might be angled at him and reflect the True Image of God as it was intended: and that in so doing, we might be truly human.

Andy Bannister is Canadian director and a member of the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Toronto, Canada. His forthcoming book The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist: Or the Dreadful Consequences of Bad Arguments will be released by Monarch in July.

(1) Viktor E. Frankl, The Unheard Cry for Meaning: Psychotherapy and Humanism (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1978), 21.

(2) Luc Ferry, A Brief History of Thought: A Philosophical Guide to Living (New York: Harper Perennial, 2011 [2010]), 72.

(3) Genesis 1:27.

Alistair Begg – Just a Little Longer

 

Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5

Christian, if you are in a night of trial, think of tomorrow; cheer up your heart with the thought of the coming of your Lord. Be patient, for “Lo! He comes with clouds descending.” Be patient! The farmer waits until He reaps His harvest.

Be patient; for you know who has said, “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with Me, to repay everyone for what he has done.” If you are presently in wretched circumstances, remember:

A few more days of marching into battle,

Then you will receive the crown.

Your head may be bowed with thorny troubles now, but it shall wear a starry crown before long. Your heart may be filled with care–it shall be filled with the praise of heaven soon. Your clothes may be soiled with dust now; soon they shall be gloriously white. Wait a little longer. How trivial our troubles and trials will seem when we look back upon them! Looking at them here in the prospect, they seem immense; but when we get to heaven we shall view everything from a new perspective.

Our trials will then seem light and momentary afflictions. Let us go on boldly; even if the night be ever so dark, the morning comes, which is more than they can say who are shut up in the darkness of hell. Do you know what it is then to live on the future–to live on expectation–to anticipate heaven? You are happy, believer, to have such a sure and comforting hope. It may be all dark now, but it will soon be light; it may be all trial now, but it will soon be all happiness. What does it matter if “weeping may tarry for the night” when “joy comes with the morning”?

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

 

Charles Spurgeon – Thoughts on the last battle

 

“The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:56,57

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 116

While the Bible is one of the most poetical of books, though its language is unutterably sublime, yet we must remark how constantly it is true to nature. There is no straining of a fact, no glossing over a truth. However dark may be the subject, while it lights it up with brilliance, yet it does not deny the gloom connected with it. If you will read this chapter of Paul’s epistle, so justly celebrated as a masterpiece of language, you will find him speaking of that which is to come after death with such exaltation and glory, that you feel, “If this be to die, then it were well to depart at once.” Who has not rejoiced, and whose heart has not been lifted up, or filled with a holy fire, while he has read such sentences as these: “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” Yet with all that majestic language, with all that bold flight of eloquence, he does not deny that death is a gloomy thing. Even his very figures imply it. He does not laugh at it; he does not say, “Oh, it is nothing to die;” he describes death as a monster; he speaks of it as having a sting; he tells us wherein the strength of that sting lies; and even in the exclamation of triumph he imputes that victory not to unaided flesh, but he says, “Thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

For meditation: Death is no laughing matter, but for the Christian it need not be a crying matter either (1 Thessalonians 4:13,14).

Sermon no. 23

13 May (1855)

John MacArthur – Being Zealous for the Lord (James, Son of Zebedee)

 

The twelve apostles included “James the son of Zebedee” (Matt. 10:2).

God can use overzealous and ambitious people for His glory.

Like Peter and Andrew, James and John were fishermen. One day as Jesus walked the shores of the Sea of Galilee, He saw them in a boat with their father Zebedee and some hired servants. When Jesus called them to follow Him, they immediately left the boat and went with Him (Mark 1:19- 20).

James and John were zealous and ambitious men—so much so that Jesus nicknamed them “Boanerges,” which means, “Sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:17). At times their great zeal got the better of them. In Luke 9:54 for example, after a Samaritan village had rejected some of the disciples, James and John asked Jesus for permission to call down fire from heaven to incinerate the whole village! On another occasion they sent their mother to ask Jesus to give them the most prominent places in His kingdom (Matt. 20:20-28). They wanted power, prestige, and honor, but Jesus promised them suffering and, in James’s case, a martyr’s grave.

James was probably the eldest of the two brothers. His name is listed first whenever their names appear together in Scripture. Perhaps he was also the most zealous and passionate of the two since that he was the first apostle to be martyred. When King Herod decided to persecute the early church, he had James put to death with a sword (Acts 12:2). When he saw how much that pleased the Jewish people, he had Peter arrested but didn’t kill him. Apparently James was a bigger threat than Peter. That tells us something about the powerful ministry he must have had.

Like James and John, some Christians have a zeal that prompts them to run ahead of the Holy Spirit. If that’s true of you, be thankful for your zeal but also be careful to allow the Spirit to govern what you do and say. However, if you’ve slipped into spiritual complacency and your life isn’t much of a threat to Satan’s kingdom, you need to repent and become more zealous for the Lord!

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to give you a holy zeal that’s motivated by love and governed by His Spirit.

For Further Study

Read John 2:12-22.

  • How did Jesus demonstrate His zeal for God’s house?
  • Why were His actions necessary?

Joyce Meyer – God’s Gifts

 

Therefore it is said, When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive [He led a train of vanquished foes] and He bestowed gifts on men. Ephesians 4:8

I am gifted in communication. My worship leader is gifted musically. My two sons are gifted in business administration. My husband is gifted in wisdom and financial management. We make a good team because we have different abilities. We complement and complete each other. A lot of people never do anything because they cannot do everything. They are negative people who concentrate on what they cannot do instead of seeing what they can do and then do it.

If you confidently step out and do your part, God will surround you with people who have the gifts and abilities that you don’t have. However, when a person lacks confidence, quite often they cannot receive help from other people. They are too busy making comparisons to receive the help God has sent them. Insecurity and a lack of confidence will steal the wonderful life that God has planned for you. It causes us to be jealous of and resent those whom we should appreciate.

You don’t have to be prepared to do the entire job by yourself; just prepare yourself to do the best that you can do and remember that God will add what you don’t have.

Lord, You have designed me with gifts and abilities to develop and use in service with others. Keep me from being jealous of others, and help me to enjoy the journey. Amen.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Will Take Care of Us

 

“He will take care of the helpless and poor when they cry to Him; for they have no one else to defend them” (Psalm 72:12). 

Some time ago, a French tourist set out to cross St. Bernard’s Pass by himself. When he got caught in the fog near the top, he sat on a rock and waited for one of the famous St. Bernard dogs, which have rescued thousands of lost travelers, to come and attend to him. But none came.

When the fog cleared away, he managed to reach the hospice. There he let it be known that he thought the dog a rather overrated animal.

“There I was,” he said, “for at least six hours, and not one came near me.” “But why,” exclaimed one of the monks, “did you not ring us up on the telephone?”

Then he explained to the astonished tourist that the whole of the pass is provided with shelters at short distances from each other – all in direct phone communication with the hospice. When the bell rings, the monks send off a dog loaded with bread, wine and other comforts.

The dog goes straight to the proper shelter. The system saves the hounds their former duty of patrolling the pass on the chance of a stray traveler being found, and as the pass is under deep snow for about eight months of the year, this entailed hard and often fruitless labor.

Many people in need of spiritual help have not yet realized there is One who will hear and answer directly the troubled cries for help.

Bible Reading: Psalm 72:13-19

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Remembering that we “have not because we ask not,” I’ll remember to call on a kind heavenly Father today and whenever I have a need.

 

Presidential Prayer Team; C.H. – Grand Prize

 

Last month, a California man purchased a winning lottery ticket worth one million dollars. Only one problem – he lost the ticket and couldn’t claim the money. Sometimes blessings only need to be claimed. While this man missed out on a million, the blessings that await through Christ are priceless.

Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren. And the Lord granted his prayer.

Genesis 25:21

Your Heavenly Father wants you to bring your desires to Him. “Ask, and it will be given to you.” (Matthew 7:7) He listens when you pray. He heard Isaac’s prayer for a child and granted His request. “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11)

If President Obama invited you to the White House and wanted you to share your desires for this nation, wouldn’t you go? God is the Creator of all things. He is the King of all Kings. He invites you daily to enter His throne room and present your requests. Will you accept this grand prize of an invitation? Pray for your national leaders to accept that same invite from the Lord.

Recommended Reading: Mark 11:20-25

Greg Laurie – A Preacher of Righteousness

 

Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. —1 Corinthians 3:5–6

George Smith thought his ministry was a failure. He felt called to Africa, but he was only there for a short time as a missionary when he was driven from the country. He left behind one convert, a woman. Not long after that, George Smith died on his knees, praying for Africa.

Some years later, a group of men stumbled onto the place in Africa where George Smith had ministered. They found a copy of the Scriptures he had left behind, and they met the one convert of his ministry, who led them to the Lord. Later a missions organization did a study and determined that 100 years after George Smith left Africa, 13,000 people had come to faith through his ministry as one person reached another, who reached another, and so on.

The Bible calls Noah “a preacher of righteousness” (see 2 Peter 2:5), yet he lived for 120 years without ever seeing a single convert. He stands as an example of all those faithful witnesses out there who don’t see a lot of results.

Are you one of those people? Maybe you have been talking to your family for years, and not one has come to believe in Jesus. Maybe you have shared your faith with your neighbors and coworkers but have never had anyone believe as a result of your testimony. You feel that you’re the worst evangelist of all time.

But it isn’t over until it’s over. Your job is to be faithful. Your job is to do your part and leave the results in the hands of God. When we stand before the Lord one day, it isn’t going to be about quantity; it is going to be about why and if you were faithful to do what the Lord set before you to do.

 

Max Lucado – Change Your Focus and Relax

 

Psalm 23:2 says, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures; leads me beside the still waters.” Note the two pronouns preceding the two verbs. He makes me. . .He leads me. Who is the active one? Who is in charge? The Shepherd!

We see the waves of the water rather than the Savior walking through them. We focus on our paltry provisions rather than on the One who can feed five thousand hungry people. Change your focus—and relax! While you’re at it, change your schedule and rest! Life can get so loud we forget to shut it down. When David says, “He makes me lie down in green pastures,” he is saying my shepherd makes me lie down in his finished work. His pasture is his gift to us. This is not the pasture you’ve made. It is a gift from God, and your Shepherd invites you there!

From Traveling Light

Night Light for Couples – A Pitcher’s Dream

 

“A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25

In 1985, Tim Burke achieved a lifelong dream—in fact, almost every boy’s dream—when he signed to pitch for the Montreal Expos. He quickly proved his worth by setting a record for the most relief appearances by a rookie. In the years that followed, Tim and his wife, Christine, adopted four children born with serious illnesses or defects. Neither Tim nor Christine was prepared for the tremendous demands such a family would bring. And with a grueling schedule, Tim was seldom around to help.

In 1993, only three months after signing a new, $600,000 contract, Tim decided to retire. When asked about his amazing decision, he said, “Baseball is going to do just fine without me. But I’m the only father my children have.”

You might ask yourselves as a couple, “Does our current lifestyle, and our dreams and goals, fit with God’s desire that we have a generous spirit?” Tim Burke’s generous spirit caused him to give up his career dream, as well as the wealth it brought. Yet in the end, his act will be worth the sacrifice—his marriage and the well‐being of four lives God placed in his care will reap eternal dividends. That’s God’s idea of a brilliant career move!

Just between us…

  • Have you ever had to give up any of your dreams for someone?
  • How do you feel now about those old dreams?
  • What new dreams do you have for yourself and for us as a couple?
  • How can we help each other achieve them?

Dear Lord, we surrender together whatever selfish dreams or ambitions are keep- ing us from the larger life You have in mind for us. Show us Your better idea. We want to do Your will with joy and expectation, because we trust You. Amen.

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