Charles Stanley – The Real War

 

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

The enemy’s primary strategy against the believer is deception. We learn from 2 Corinthians 11:14 that Satan often “disguises himself as an angel of light.” In fact, Jesus called him “the father of lies” (John 8:44). Thus, our best weapon is the truth, which sets us free from deception’s bondage (v. 32).

It is hard to avoid deception when you are not aware of the adversary’s schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11). One of his oldest deceptions, which goes back to Adam and Eve, is the temptation to doubt what the Lord has said. To do so means to doubt God’s heart and character, which is similar to a soldier on the front line setting down his weapon as the enemy approaches—mistrusting God sets you up to be knocked down repeatedly by the evil one. If you listen to this voice of doubt, you give Satan a foothold. That will weaken you so that he can gear up to bring about further destruction.

Another scheme of the devil is to distract the believer. A distraction is anything that drags you away from what is most important at the moment and makes you so busy that you lose focus. Satan doesn’t use just blatantly sinful or superficial things to divert us from abiding in Christ—he will even use good things to subtly build up a wall of “noise” around you so that you gradually stop listening to God’s voice.

Ask the Lord to reveal any area in your life where you may be susceptible to deception. He will give you power to claim the truth and walk in freedom.

Our Daily Bread — Listening With Love

 

Read: Luke 18:9-14

Bible in a Year: 2 Kings 19-21; John 4:1-30

Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. —Luke 18:14

One August evening in Vermont, a young missionary spoke at our small church. The country where he and his wife served was in religious turmoil, and it was considered too dangerous for children. In one of his stories, he told us about a heart-wrenching episode when his daughter pleaded with him not to leave her behind at a boarding school.

I was a new dad at that time, having recently been blessed with a daughter, and the story upset me. How could loving parents leave their daughter alone like that? I muttered to myself. By the time the talk was finished, I was so worked up that I ignored the offer to visit with the missionary. I charged out of the church, saying out loud as I left: “I’m sure glad I’m not like . . .”

In that instant, the Holy Spirit stopped me cold. I couldn’t even finish the sentence. Here I was, saying almost word for word what the Pharisee said to God: “I thank You that I am not like other men” (Luke 18:11). How disappointed I was in myself! How disappointed God must have been! Since that evening, I’ve asked God to help me listen to others with humility and restraint as they pour their hearts out in confession, profession, or pain. —Randy Kilgore

Lord, may we be quick to listen and slow to speak and to judge. A proud attitude so easily infects our lives. Give us instead a humility that reflects Your heart and love.

We don’t get closer to God by passing judgment on others.

INSIGHT: The story that Jesus tells of the two men who went into the temple to pray reminds us of what God considers important. The religious Pharisee focused entirely on himself and his efforts, highlighting what he did and didn’t do. However, the tax collector, who would have been considered one of the worst sinners of his day, recognized his unworthiness and focused on God and His mercy. Jesus said it was the “sinner” who went away justified before God (vv. 13-14). Jesus wants His listeners to understand that it is not what we do that makes us right with God; it is God who makes us right with Him.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry –   Ascending Creatures

 

Most of us would likely miss it. Couched between Wednesday’s building crescendo of assignments and Friday’s promise of their demise, Thursday hardly seems more than a means to an end. Though the day is every bit as holy as Easter Sunday, most of the world moves through it unsuspectingly—unfortunately, even those who have confessed the momentous lines of the Apostles’ Creed: “On the third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.”

Today is Ascension Day, the day marking the ascension of Jesus Christ. Forty days after the celebration of Easter and the resurrection of Jesus, the church around the world holds in remembrance this eventful day. The gospel writer records: “Then [Jesus] said to his disciples…. ‘See, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.’ Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.”(1)

The ascension of Christ may not seem as momentous to the Christian story as the resurrection or as rousing as the image of Jesus on the cross. After the death and resurrection, in fact, the ascension might even seem somewhat anti-climatic. The resurrection and ascension statements of the Apostles’ Creed are essentially treated as one in the same: On the third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. One might even think that the one miraculous act flowed immediately into the other: as if the death of the body of Jesus was answered in the resurrection, a presence who then floated onto heaven. Unfortunately, the result of this impression is that many think of the ascension as somehow casting off of Christ’s human nature, as if Jesus is a presence that only used to be human. Hence, Jesus seems one more fit to memorialize than one we might expect to actually see face-to-face one day.

But in fact, this couldn’t be farther from the experience of the disciples, to whom Jesus appeared repeatedly in the days following the resurrection. To them it was abundantly clear that Jesus was not any sort of spiritual ghost or remote presence. He ate with them; he talked with them; he instructed them as to the ministries they would lead and the deaths they would face because of him. He was in fact more fully human than they ever realized, and it was this holy body, this divine person that they held near as they lived and died to proclaim his kingdom.

Consequently, the ascension they remembered was no different than the future they envisioned with him: he was raised as a human, fully human. As the disciples were watching and Jesus was taken up before their very eyes, a cloud hid him from their sight. The text then refers to them “looking intently up into the sky as he was going” when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them: “‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go’”(3) In this resurrected body, Christ ascended to heaven, fully human, fully divine, entirely glorified.

For the Christian, no action of Jesus is without weight, and this, his last action on earth, is weighed with far more hope than is often realized. Ascending to heaven, the work God sent him to accomplish was finally completed. The ascension was a living and public declaration of his dying words on the Cross: It is finished. In the ascension, Jesus furthered the victory of Easter—the victory of a physical body in whom God had conquered death. Because of the ascension, the incarnation is not a past or throwaway event. Because of the ascension, we know that the incarnate Son who was raised from the dead is sharing in our humanity even now. And just as the men in white informed the disciples, so we carry in our own flesh a guarantee that Christ will one day bring us to himself. It is for these reasons that N.T. Wright affirms, “To embrace the Ascension is to heave a sigh of relief, to give up the struggle to be God (and with it the inevitable despair at our constant failure), and to enjoy our status as creatures: image-bearing creatures, but creatures nonetheless.”(3)

Ascension Day, a holy day falling inconspicuously on a Thursday in May, is the conspicuous declaration that we are not left as orphans. In the same post-resurrection body that he invited Thomas to touch, Jesus invites us to full humanity even today. He ascended with a body, he shares in our humanity, extending his own body even now, promising to return for our own bodies. Christ is preparing a room for us, and we know it is real because he himself is real.

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

(1) Luke 24:49-53.

(2) Acts 1:9-11.

(3) N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church (New York: Harper Collins, 2008), 114.

Alistair Begg – He Shares His Crown

 

Fellow heirs with Christ. Romans 8:17

The boundless realms of His Father’s universe belong by right to Christ. As “heir of all things,”1 He is the sole proprietor of the vast creation of God, and He has admitted us to claim it all as ours, by making us His fellow heirs. The golden streets of paradise, the pearly gates, the river of life, the transcendent bliss, and the unutterable glory are all, by our blessed Lord, made ours for an everlasting possession. All that He has, He shares with His people.

The royal crown He has placed upon the head of His Church, granting her a kingdom, and calling her sons a royal priesthood, a generation of priests and kings. He uncrowned Himself that we might have a coronation of glory; He would not sit upon His own throne until He had procured a place upon it for all who overcome by His blood. Crown the head, and the whole body shares the honor.

Here then is the reward of every Christian conqueror! Christ’s throne, crown, scepter, palace, treasure, robes, heritage are yours. He deems His happiness completed by His people sharing it. “The glory that you have given me I have given to them.”2 “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”3

The smiles of His Father are all the sweeter to Him because His people share them. The honors of His kingdom are more pleasing because His people appear with Him in glory. More valuable to Him are His conquests since they have taught His people to overcome. He delights in His throne because on it there is a place for them. He rejoices in His royal robes since they cover His people. He delights all the more in His joy because He calls them to enter into it.

1) Hebrews 1:2    2) John 17:22    3) John 15:11

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

Charles Spurgeon – The teaching of the Holy Spirit

 

“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” John 14:26

Suggested Further Reading: Galatians 1:10-17

The Holy Spirit specially teaches to us Jesus Christ. It is the Holy Spirit who manifests the Saviour to us in the glory of his person; the complex character of his manhood and of his deity; it is he who tells us of the love of his heart, of the power of his arm, of the clearness of his eye, the preciousness of his blood, and of the prevalence of his plea. To know that Christ is my Redeemer, is to know more than Plato could have taught me. To know that I am a member of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones; that my name is on his breast, and engraved on the palms of his hands, is to know more than the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge could teach to all their scholars. Not at the feet of Gamaliel did Paul learn to say—“He loved me, and gave himself for me.” Not in the midst of the rabbis, or at the feet of the members of the Sanhedrin, did Paul learn to cry—“What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.” “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” No, this must have been taught as he himself confesses—not of flesh and blood, but of the Holy Spirit. I need only hint that it is also the Spirit who teaches us our adoption. Indeed, all the privileges of the new covenant, beginning from regeneration, running through redemption, justification, pardon, sanctification, adoption, preservation, continual safety, even unto an abundant entrance into the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ—all is the teaching of the Holy Spirit.

For meditation: The Holy Spirit exercises a perfect teaching ministry (1 John 2:27); how good a pupil (disciple) are you?

Sermon no. 315
14 May (Preached 13 May 1860)

John MacArthur – Tempering Zeal with Sensitivity (James, Son of Zebedee)

 

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

Zeal without sensitivity can destroy your life and ministry.

There’s the story of a Norwegian pastor whose motto was “All or nothing!” His life and preaching were stern, strong, powerful, uncompromising, and utterly insensitive. Reportedly the people in his church didn’t care much for him because he didn’t care much for them. In his zeal and ambition to advance the kingdom and uphold God’s standard, he neglected everything else—including his own family.

One day his little daughter became so ill the doctor warned him that if he didn’t move her out of the cold Norwegian air to a warmer climate, she would die. He refused, telling the doctor, “All or nothing!” Soon his little girl died. His wife was so grief-stricken she would sit for hours holding her daughter’s garments close to her heart, trying somehow to ease her pain.

When the pastor saw what his wife was doing, he gave away the clothes to a poor woman in the street. All that remained was a little bonnet, which his wife had hidden so she would have some reminder of her precious daughter. When the pastor found it, he gave that away too, lecturing his wife on giving “all or nothing.” Within a few months, she too died—of grief.

Now that’s an extreme example of insensitive zeal, yet there are many pastors, evangelists, and other Christian workers who are so zealous for the Lord and so task- oriented, they don’t see the pain their own families and congregations are suffering.

James could have been like that if he hadn’t yielded his life to Christ. He began as a zealous and insensitive disciple but God refined his character and used him in a marvelous way.

Examine your own ministries and motives. Are you sensitive to your family and the people you serve with? Zeal can be a wonderful quality but it must be tempered with love and sensitivity.

Suggestions for Prayer

If you have been insensitive to those around you, confess that to them and ask the Lord to give you a greater sensitivity from now on.

For Further Study

Eli the priest was negligent and insensitive to his family. Read 1 Samuel 3:1—4:18.

  • What did the Lord tell Samuel concerning Eli?
  • What was the outcome of Israel’s battles with the Philistines?
  • How did Eli and his sons die?

Joyce Meyer – Loving God with Your Words

 

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. Psalm 34:1 NKJV

It is good to have love for God in your heart, but even better to express it with the words of your mouth. Tell God several times each day that you love Him; say with the psalmist David: I love You fervently and devotedly, O Lord my Strength (Ps. 18:1). it isn’t good enough to merely think, God knows how I feel. Are you blessed when people tell you they love and appreciate you? Of course you are, and it blesses God when we verbalize our love and praise for Him. Verbal expressions of love and gratitude improve all our relationships, including our rela¬tionship with God.

Don’t offer your petitions to God without telling Him how grateful you are for what He has already done for you. As parents we are more likely to answer the request of a thankful child than we are a grouchy and ungrateful one. As an employer I want to do even more for employ¬ees who are appreciative. Offering our continual gratitude to God for His goodness and mercy in our lives moves Him to want to do even more for us. Our gratitude shows God that we are mature enough to handle even more blessing and responsibility.

Women often say, ” I know my husband loves me, but I wish he would tell me more often.” Let’s try to be more diligent in telling God and the people in our lives that we love and appreciate them and what they mean to us.

Love God Today: It is impossible to love God with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, and not hear it come out of your mouth.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Obedience Releases the Power

 

“For the Lord says, ‘Because he loves me, I will rescue him; I will make him great because he trusts in My name. When he calls on Me I will answer, I will be with him in trouble, and rescue him and honor him'” (Psalm 91:14,15). 

Pete was the playboy type. He believed that Christ was in his life and that he had eternal life and would go to heaven when he died, but he was not willing to “go all the way with the Lord.” He wanted to live the “good life,” he said. One day perhaps he would make a total commitment of his life to Christ, but not now. He had all kinds of physical and emotional problems, but somehow he was never able to make the connection that the fact that his life was miserable was because of his disobedience to God.

All of God’s supernatural resources are latent within us waiting for us, as an act of the will by faith, to release that power. This explains the difference between impotent, fruitless, defeated Christians and those who are buoyant, joyful, victorious and fruitful in magnificent ways for the glory of God. Both are indwelt by the same God and possess the same supernatural power, but one for whatever reason – lack of knowledge, lack of faith, disobedience – fails to release the power while the other – knowledgeable, dedicated, obedient, faithful – releases the power.

John 14:21 is another way of stating Psalm 91:14,15. Jesus said, “He that hath My commandments, and keep them, he it is that loveth Me and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him.”

We demonstrate that we love God when we obey Him. And when we trust and obey Him, all the supernatural resources of deity are released in our behalf. He literally heals our bodies, our minds and our spirits and enables us to live the supernatural life.

Bible Reading: Psalm 91:7-13

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will acknowledge Jesus daily as the Lord of my life and demonstrate my love by obeying His commandments. In so doing, I can be assured that He will be with me in trouble and deliver me and honor me as He promised.

Presidential Prayer Team; A.W . – Have a Blessed Day

 

Recent news reports have surfaced of employees being fired due to complaints from customers for wishing them a “blessed” day. A Chicago security officer was informed to stop telling patrons to “have a beautiful, blessed day” or he would be let go. A bank teller in Kentucky was fired and a Walmart greeter in Georgia was told by supervisors he could no longer use the phrase or he’d be terminated.

Esau said to his father, “Have you but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also.

Genesis 27:38

“Blessing” someone is asking God to care for and protect them. In biblical times, it was customary and a high honor for fathers to bless their sons, and losing a blessing was like being cursed. In the verses surrounding today’s scripture, Isaac was tricked into giving Esau’s blessing to his brother. When Esau discovered what happened, he wept and begged to still receive a blessing from his father.

Know that blessings from your Heavenly Father can’t be taken away. God hears your requests and no one can stop Him from blessing you. Pray today that instead of complaining about blessings, America’s citizens would beg for them…for themselves and for the country.

Recommended Reading: Deuteronomy 28:1-12

Greg Laurie – He Doesn’t Forget

 

Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided. —Genesis 8:1

When we talk about Noah’s life, we tend to focus on the ark. But let’s turn our attention to Noah’s spiritual life for a moment. It probably had gotten pretty old for Noah, his wife, his children, and all those animals inside the ark. The sea can be a lonely place, and they had been inside the ark for approximately a year.

I wonder if Noah ever doubted during that time: Was this a good idea? Is this really what I should have done? He hadn’t heard anything from the Lord. Did he wonder whether God had really spoken to him?

But I love how Genesis 8 begins: “Then God remembered Noah. . . .” This isn’t implying that God had forgotten about him. Rather, it is using our language to help us get a picture of God. The Lord didn’t forget about Noah, and the Lord doesn’t forget about us, either.

Sometimes He works in a dramatic way in our lives. And sometimes months or years go by, and nothing dramatic happens. You’re just living the Christian life by faith. You wonder, Is God even paying attention anymore? He is. And you know what? You just need to do the last thing He told you to do and be faithful there.

Remember this: God always finishes what He starts. That is why He is called the author and finisher of our faith. Philippians 1:6 says, “Being confident of this. He who began a good work in you will carry it to completion unto the day of Jesus Christ.”

You just hold your course. Maybe you have felt a call to ministry, and there hasn’t been a lot of fruit in your ministry. Just hold your course. Just carry on. Keep doing what God has told you to do.

Max Lucado – A Big Deal About Rest

 

Life can get so loud we forget to shut it down. Maybe that’s why God made such a big deal about rest in the Ten Commandments! Of the ten, which one occupies the most space? Murder…adultery…stealing? You’d think so. But curiously, these commands are tributes to brevity. God needed only five English words to condemn them all.

But when it came to the topic of rest, it took a paragraph in Exodus 20: 8-11. But. . .but. . .who’s going to run the store? We offer up one reason after another, but God silences them all with one poignant reminder. “In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day.” God’s message is plain. If creation didn’t crash when I rested, it won’t crash when you do!

From Traveling Light

Night Light for Couples – Unrestrained Generosity

 

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us…!” 1 John 3:1

It’s no coincidence that we started this week’s look at generosity with a story about a little boy. Children are often our best teachers.

Years ago during the week of my birthday, our family decided to go for a leisurely stroll through our local shopping center. Ryan, who was eight at the time, opened his piggybank and took out five dollars he had been saving for something special. As we walked along, window shopping and enjoying being together, Ryan announced that he wanted to have some time alone to go to the toy store and pet shop. We set a time and place where we would meet, and off he went. In about thirty minutes, he came walking up with a grin that stretched from ear to ear.

Ryan said, “Here, Mom, this is for your birthday. But you can open it right now!” By the look on his face, it was obvious that he felt strongly about my opening the gift right there in the middle of the mall. So we found a nearby bench. He announced his present had cost a lot of money. (He had spent the entire five dollars on it.)

As shoppers filed by, he watched excitedly while I carefully unwrapped the package. Gazing down at its contents, I was suddenly filled with emotion. His present wasn’t anything he could have found in a toy or pet store. It wasn’t even something you’d expect to receive from an eight‐year‐old boy. There in my lap was a lovely desk set. The ostrich‐feathered white pen looked like an old‐fashioned quill that Ben Franklin might have used to sign the Declaration of Independence. The stand was padded in matching white, with a spray of pink flowers delicately painted around the edges.

My eyes brimmed with tears as I hugged and thanked my son for such an extravagant gift. It has been many years since that day, and I still treasure that pen as a reminder of Ryan’s spontaneous gift of love.

Most of us are too inclined to keep our purses or wallets shut tight against the opportunities for giving that are all around. Or when we give, we give what’s convenient or interesting to us, not to the recipient.

In our marriages, we have so many chances to practice childlike, unrestrained generosity—with no ulterior motive, necessity, or expectation in mind. The more we give and receive that kind of love, the more we will experience the love of God in our homes. I think the apostle John had something like “unrestrained generosity” in mind when he wrote, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1).

– Shirley M Dobson

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