Charles Stanley – Making Changes to Fulfill God’s Plan

 

Matthew 16:24-27

As god’s adopted children, we’ve been given a new purpose: glorifying our Father through righteous living. Yesterday we saw that this means making certain modifications in our life. Let’s consider two more changes that may be necessary for followers of Jesus.

One potential adjustment relates to our belief system: A Christian’s thinking should match Jesus’. The world’s influence is strong—if we listened to the culture, we’d push ahead of others, take all the credit for our accomplishments, and keep material possessions for our own use. But Scripture teaches that the last shall be first (Mark 9:35), God is the one deserving our praise (Psalms 96:4), and Christians are to be generous people (1 Timothy 6:18). What we believe needs to match what the Bible says is true.

Lastly, we may have to redefine our commitments to be sure the Lord comes first. His desires for us should take precedence over what we want and what others ask us to do. We must evaluate our choices in light of God’s plan for us. This may mean letting go of a favorite activity, taking on a new responsibility, or remaining where we are despite yearning to leave. Our Father wants and deserves His children’s full devotion (Matthew 22:37).

These changes do not all happen instantly at salvation; rather, they take place over a lifetime. Whenever the Holy Spirit reveals a deeper truth or calls us to a new work, we will have additional alterations to make. But such changes are accompanied by the confidence of knowing that God will use us to fulfill His plan.

Our Daily Bread — Motivated By Love

 

Read: 2 Corinthians 5:11–17

Bible in a Year: 2 Kings 24-25; John 5:1-24

The love of Christ compels us. —2 Corinthians 5:14

In the 1920s, Bobby Jones dominated the golfing world, despite being an amateur. In one film about his life, Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius, there is a scene where a professional golfer asks Bobby when he is going to quit being an amateur and grab for the money like everyone else does. Jones answers by explaining that the word amateur comes from the Latin amo—to love. His answer was clear: He played golf because he loved the game.

Our motives, why we do what we do, make all the difference. This certainly applies to those who are followers of Jesus Christ. In his letter to the Corinthian church, Paul gives us an example of this. Throughout the epistle he defended his conduct, character, and calling as an apostle of Christ. In response to those who questioned his motives for ministry, Paul said, “Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Cor. 5:14-15 NIV).

Christ’s love is the greatest of all motivators. It causes those who follow Him to live for Him, not for themselves. —Bill Crowder

What are some of the ways your understanding of Christ and His love has shaped your motives and your actions? In what ways would you like to see God work in you now?

We are shaped and fashioned by what we love most.

INSIGHT: In 2 Corinthians Paul was writing to a church that he founded—yet a church that had, in a sense, turned on him. This makes it very different from 1 Thessalonians, where Paul was writing to men and women with whom he had a strong and loving relationship. Because of these different relationships, in 1 Thessalonians 2–3 Paul was describing his ministry while in 2 Corinthians was defending it.

Alistair Begg – Always Giving

 

God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 1 Timothy 6:17

Our Lord Jesus is always giving and does not for a single moment withdraw His hand. As long as there is a vessel of grace not yet full to the brim, the oil shall not be withheld. He is an ever-shining sun; He is manna in unfailing supply; He is a rock in the desert, sending constant streams of life from His pierced side; the rain of His grace is always falling; the river of His bounty is ever-flowing, and the wellspring of His love is a constant tide.

As the King can never die, so His grace can never fail. Every day we pluck His fruit, and every day His branches bend down to our hand with a fresh supply of mercy. There are seven feast-days in His weeks, and as many banquets in His years. Who has ever returned from His door unblessed? Who has ever risen from His table unsatisfied? His mercies are new every morning and fresh every evening. Who can calculate the number of His benefits or value the extent of His provision? Every passing day we are the beneficiaries of a myriad of mercies.

The wings of our hours are covered with the silver of His kindness and with the yellow gold of His affection. The river of time bears from the mountains of eternity the golden sands of His favor. The countless stars serve as the standard bearers of incalculable blessings. Who can measure the benefits that He bestows on His servant or recount the extent of His mercies toward His own? How shall my soul extol Him who loads us with daily benefits, and who crowns us with loving-kindness? O that my praise could be as endless as His provision. O miserable tongue, how can you be silent? Wake up, I pray, lest I call you no more my glory, but my shame. “Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn.”1

1) Psalm 57:8

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

Charles Spurgeon – Human responsibility

 

“If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin.” John 15:22

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 24:29-31

The liar, the fornicator, and the drunkard shall have their portion with unbelievers. Hell was made first of all for men who despise Christ, because that is the A1 sin, the cardinal vice, and men are condemned for that. Other iniquities come following after them, but this one goes before them to judgement. Imagine for a moment that time has passed, and that the day of judgement is come. We are all gathered together, both living and dead. The trumpet-blast sounds exceeding loud and long. We are all attentive, expecting something marvellous. The exchange stands still in its business; the shop is deserted by the tradesman; the crowded streets are filled. All men stand still; they feel that the last great business-day is come, and that now they must settle their accounts for ever. A solemn stillness fills the air: no sound is heard. All, all is silent. Presently a great white cloud with solemn state sails through the sky, and then—hark! The twofold clamour of the startled earth. On that cloud there sits one like unto the Son of Man. Every eye looks, and at last there is heard a unanimous shout—“It is he! It is he!” and after that you hear on the one hand, shouts of “Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Welcome, Welcome, Welcome Son of God.” But mixed with that there is a deep bass, composed of the weeping and wailing of the men who have persecuted him, and who have rejected him. Listen! I think I can dissect the sonnet; I think I can hear the words as they come separately, each one of them, tolling like a death knell. What say they? They say, “Rocks hide us, mountains fall upon us, hide us from the face of him that sits upon the throne.”

For meditation: What we are going to say about Christ in eternity will be an amplified version of our attitudes towards him in time. In this life we have the opportunity to change our minds and trust Christ; in eternity we will never be able to change our tune (Matthew 25:30,46).

Sermon no. 194
16 May (1858)

John MacArthur – Friendship Evangelism (Philip)

 

The twelve apostles included “Philip” (Matt. 10:3).

Friendships can provide the most fertile soil for evangelism.

Philip was probably a fisherman and acquainted with Peter, Andrew, James, John, Nathanael, and Thomas prior to their all becoming disciples. We first meet him in John 1:43-46, which says, “The next day [after Jesus encountered Peter and Andrew], He purposed to go forth into Galilee, and He found Philip, and Jesus said to him, ‘Follow Me.’ Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. . . . Come and see.'”

Those brief verses reveal two things about Philip. First, he had a seeking heart. Apparently he and Nathanael had studied the Scriptures in anticipation of the Messiah’s coming. When Jesus said, “Follow Me,” Philip was ready. Jeremiah 29:13 describes such a person: “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

Second, he had the heart of an evangelist. The first thing he did after his own conversion was to lead Nathanael to Christ. Imagine his joy as he told his friend about the One for whom they had searched so long!

I believe friendships usually provide the best context for evangelism because you’re introducing Christ into an already established relationship of love, trust, and mutual respect. After all, it’s only natural to share the joy of your salvation with someone you love.

I pray that your joy overflows to those around you and that they are drawn to Christ because of your testimony.

Suggestions for Prayer

Do you have unsaved friends? If so, be faithful in praying for their salvation and asking the Lord to use you as an instrument of His grace. If not, ask the Lord to bring unsaved people into your life so you can tell them about Christ.

For Further Study

The Samaritan woman Jesus met at Jacob’s well spoke of Him not only to her friends, but also to the entire city. Read John 4:1-42.

  • What analogy did Jesus use in presenting the gospel to her?
  • How did Jesus describe true worshipers?
  • What was the reaction of the city people to the woman’s testimony?

Joyce Meyer – God Enables Us

 

It is through Him that we have received grace (God’s unmerited favor) and [our] apostleship to promote obedience to the faith and make disciples for His name’s sake among all the nations, and this includes you, called of Jesus Christ and invited [as you are] to belong to Him. Romans 1:5–6

God gives us beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness (see Isaiah 61:3). God gives us whatever we need to be victorious. Be¬cause He enables us, we credit Him for all the good things in our lives.

Get up today and do the best you can, and then let God do the rest. Don’t try to make mistakes, don’t try to fail; but when you do, repent and get things straight with God. If you need to apologize to somebody, go and apologize. Receive your forgive¬ness, and go on.

 

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Faithful of the Land

 

“Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that he may dwell with Me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve Me” (Psalm 101:6), KJV).

My mind immediately turns to the faithful minister of the gospel, the Sunday school teacher, the Christian worker as I read this verse of Scripture with its glorious promise.

Christian leaders are, indeed, included in this conditional promise. But many others may have a part as well. When that construction worker, a believer, who hears blasphemy on the job dares to speak up for his Lord, his act shall not go unnoticed and unrewarded.

That man who is scrupulously honest in his business, in the face of countless opportunities to be otherwise and in the face of competition and opposition that would seek to wipe him out, likewise shall have his reward.

That homemaker who cuts no corners, but completes the drudgery of housework, with love and joy and peace, shall rejoice too in that day when the faithful are rewarded.That young person who dares swim upstream against the tide of humanism, the drug culture, the careless, the indifferent, also shall be rewarded.

It is remarkable, too, that God rewards His children for good works which He makes possible by giving the grace and ability to perform them! He gives us grace, then smiles on us because we exercise the very grace that is a gift from Him.

Bible Reading: Psalm 101:1-5

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will do what is right, regardless, and be faithful in every task I am called upon to do.

Presidential Prayer Team; H.L.M. – His Commitment

 

Donna Douglas, the curly blonde actress, played Elly May Clampett on “The Beverly Hillbillies.” During one of her last public appearances, Douglas said, “When I come before people I never know what I’m going to say. And I don’t bring it in a can. The Word says He who raised Christ from the dead lives in you and lives in me. So He knows what your needs are. I don’t have to. But I do trust the Holy Spirit. More and more as we trust, God knows your needs. My God shall supply all your needs. I don’t do it; He does it.”

“This heap is a witness between you and me today.” Therefore he named it Galeed.

Genesis 31:48

In biblical days, monuments were often used to mark agreements or historic events. The people would set up stones to commemorate God’s miracles on their behalf and as a physical reminder of His commitment to them.

Thank your Heavenly Father every day that He provided Jesus as the physical promise of His love and commitment to you. As you do, remember the Lord always knows what you need and your provision always comes from Him. Pray also that America’s leaders would trust in God for all their spiritual and physical needs.

Recommended Reading: II Corinthians 9:8-15

Greg Laurie – Rules Matter

 

“I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.”—1 Corinthians 9:27

When I take my wife out for lunch, I’m usually hungry, so I’ll decide what I want in the first minute. But even if it’s the same restaurant we’ve been to before, she has to read the menu. Then she needs to ask the waiter a bunch of questions. Then she usually ends up ordering what she ordered last time.

The choice you make for lunch is not a big deal, but the choices of life are super important. Life is filled with choices to do right or wrong, every single day. No one is exempt from temptation’s pull, or from making the wrong choices. And all choices—both good and bad—have consequences.

It comes down this this—we make our choices, then our choices make us.

On more than one occasion, the Christian life is compared to running a race, and the objective is to finish and win that race. In Philippians 3:13–14 Paul said, “Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven” (NLT).

As we run this race, we must play by the rules or we will be disqualified. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:27, “I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified” (NLT).

In other words, Paul is saying, “I do not want to be a hypocrite. I want to practice what I preach. We’ve seen a number of athletes become disqualified over the years for playing by their own rules.”

Rules matter and you have to play by them. In our spiritual race, God has set up His rules. The rulebook they are found in is called the Bible. We can’t pick and choose the rules we like and ignore the ones we don’t. So the choice is yours. Will you be disqualified because you don’t want to follow God’s rules? Or will you play by the His Rulebook and run to win?

 

Discovering God’s Design – Come and See!

 

Psalm 66:1–20

In Psalms 65 and 66, the psalmist recounts all that God has done and all that he has created. In jubilant psalms of praise, the psalmist describes God’s “awesome and righteous deeds” (Ps 65:5), God’s power displayed in his creation, God’s abundance in caring for the land and watering it, God’s bounty in providing for humankind and animals alike. “Come and see what God has done,” he says in Psalm 66. “his awesome deeds for mankind” (Ps 66:5). Physician and author J. Matthew Sleeth invites us to share the healing that comes from bearing witness to the miracle of God’s creation:

When the psalmists advise us how to heal spiritually, they do not tell us to purchase a television, car, house, self-help book, or exercise equipment. God, they say, is to be found in the natural world that he created, a world filled with the grandeur, beauty, and peace that are so often lacking in our material world.

What remedy does God prescribe for our souls? [Quiet] waters and green pastures (see Ps 23:2). Find a place where there is nothing man-made in sight. Sit or lie down. Be still, and know who God is (see Ps 46:10). Do not pray. Do not worry. Do not think. Your house, your cell phone, and your new kitchen do not give glory to God. The Bible states that if it is God-made (streams, mountains, birds, trees), it praises God … When only God-made things surround you, you are in a fellowship of praise.

If you live in a city, try to find one small area that consists of only God-made things. If you must, lie on your stomach and stare at a one-square-foot area. If there is noise or highway sound, put your hands over your ears. You will hear the sound of your own pulse and breath. That’s okay. And that’s the point. You are God-made. We have forgotten that we have far more in common with a honeybee than we do with our SUV or DVD …

Perhaps many of our problems, including those of depression and anxiety, are warning signals that we are living a lifestyle that God does not sanction or want us to lead. The response to mental pain and discomfort should be to seek restoring connection with God. In seeking quiet moments, green pastures, and still waters, we may find just what our souls need.

Do you know in which direction the Milky Way traverses the sky? As the phases of the moon progress, does the light go from right to left, or left to right? Can you identify a greater number of trees or cars? If the Bible says God knows every flower and bird, why do we spend so much effort knowing the names of man-made items? Maybe we’re paying attention to the wrong things. Maybe this is why life seems so hard. If this is our Father’s world, maybe we should pay more attention to it.

Think About It

  • In what ways does your culture and lifestyle distract you from God’s created world?
  • In what ways does God’s creation reflect his glory?
  • What within you needs healing?

Act on It

Follow Sleeth’s advice. Get outside this week and surround yourself with only God-made things. Worship God in the company of his creation.

Night Light for Couples – Believe the Best

“If one falls down, his friend can help him up.” Ecclesiastes 4:10

T he floor at Art and Naomi Hunt’s house was scattered with wrenches, screwdrivers, and a host of oddly shaped pieces of wood and metal. The task at hand? To construct a new gas barbecue. Art knew that Naomi was the more mechanically gifted partner in their marriage, but he was determined to put together this latest addition to their arsenal of modern cooking appliances. As Art struggled, his wife watched. Finally, progress stopped altogether, and Art reluctantly asked for Naomi’s advice. But instead of just giving her opinion, Naomi took the wrench from Art’s hand and began finishing the job herself.

Not surprisingly, Art felt rather emasculated, incompetent, and foolish. Now he faced a choice. He could believe either the best or the worst about Naomi’s actions. If he believed the worst, he would think, Man, she’s taking control. She doesn’t have any confidence in my abilities. Or, believing the best, he could tell himself, She’s going further than I asked her to, but she’s just trying to help me. That’s okay. Art chose the latter.

In a lifelong relationship, we regularly arrive at these emotional crossroads. We could go either way: give our partner the benefit of the doubt, or give ourselves the right to take offense. When we choose to see our spouse’s good intentions and base our reactions on them, we’re taking the road toward intimacy and away from unnecessary conflict. As Art Hunt understood, the real task at hand was building his relationship with Naomi, not putting together a new gadget.

Just between us…

  • How do we usually react when one of us steps in to help the other?
  • Do we see the best in each other’s motives? If not, why?
  • Do either of us give the other reason to question our motives?

Dear God, my spouse is Your gift to me, and I’m grateful. Help me to always believe, see, and act on the best. Grant me grace to mature in this area. Amen.

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

Streams in the Desert for Kids – A-Mazed

 

Ecclesiastes 7:13

Have you ever been in a maze—the real kind that’s made out of hedges and paths? There’s one at a palace in England called Chatsworth House. It is a very complicated maze. Every hedge is the same height so there are no identifying features to help you even go back the way you went in.

It could be frightening to get into a maze and not be able to find your way out. Life is like that sometimes. We find ourselves in situations where we don’t know where to turn, and when we do make a choice of which way to go, it ends up being the wrong way. It’s scary when our situation gets worse and worse. But there is someone who knows every turn, every path of our life. Jesus is that someone, and he came to guide us through life. When you are confused and don’t know which way to turn or which decision is best, you can rely on Jesus to lead you. Isn’t a relief to know you don’t have to make decisions on your own? Ask for his guidance and wait patiently for him to show you the way out of your problems.

Dear Lord, Sometimes I really get mixed up when I’m trying to make decisions about my life. Please guide me and help me to listen for your voice telling me the right way to go. Amen.