Charles Stanley – Understanding Anxiety

 

2 Timothy 1:7

Throughout scripture, the lord gives us evidence that many people deal with anxiety—even those considered pillars of faith. For example, we can deduce that the apostle Paul must have felt fear, since God instructed Him not to be afraid “any longer” (Acts 18:9).

The fact that fear is common, however, does not mean it is from the Lord (2 Timothy 1:7). Of course, certain situations—like hearing a loud noise when we are alone—will trigger a frightened response. But God doesn’t want us to live with ongoing anxiety.

Common worries include the fear of death, poverty, illness, old age, criticism, and the loss of a loved one or something cherished. Why do we find it so hard to let go of our concerns, even when God clearly states, “Do not fear” (Luke 12:7)? The reason is that worry can become deeply ingrained in the way we think. Sometimes we have unhealthy thought patterns that stem from feelings of inadequacy, a sense of guilt, or a mistaken view of the Lord. It’s not uncommon for insecurity in childhood to develop into a lack of confidence later on. Life experiences can be another factor. For instance, a person who has lost a parent suddenly in a car accident is likely to struggle with worry.

Regardless of the cause, anxiety will take our eyes off our omnipotent, loving heavenly Father and focus our attention on our circumstances. No wonder God repeatedly reminds us not to fear—He wants His children to feel secure in His capability and trustworthiness.

Our Daily Bread — Guard Your Focus

 

Read: 1 Corinthians 3:1-9

Bible in a Year: 1 Chronicles 10-12; John 6:45-71

Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. —Hebrews 12:2

“That’s my disciple,” I once heard a woman say about someone she was helping. As followers of Christ we are all tasked with making disciples—sharing the good news of Christ with people and helping them grow spiritually. But it can be easy to focus on ourselves instead of Jesus.

The apostle Paul was concerned that the Corinthian church was losing its focus on Christ. The two best-known preachers in those days were Paul and Apollos. The church was divided: “I follow Paul.” “Well, I follow Apollos!” They had begun focusing on the wrong person, following the teachers rather than the Savior. But Paul corrected them. We are “God’s fellow workers.” It doesn’t matter who plants and who waters, for only God can give the growth. Christians are “God’s field, God’s building” (1 Cor. 3:6-9). The Corinthian believers didn’t belong to Paul nor to Apollos.

Jesus tells us to go and make disciples and to teach them about Him (Matt. 28:20). And the author of the book of Hebrews reminds us to focus on the Author and Finisher of our faith (12:2). Christ will be honored when we focus on Him; He is superior to any human being and He will meet our needs. —C. P. Hia

Father, I confess that it is easy to shift my focus from You to less important things. Thank You for putting people in my life that help point me to You. Help me point others to You in a way that makes You more and me less.

Put Jesus first.

INSIGHT: Apollos first appears on the pages of the New Testament in the book of Acts, where it says he was “born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures” (18:24). Though he spoke of Jesus boldly in the synagogue, his understanding of the Scriptures was incomplete, so he received training from Aquila and Priscilla (v. 26). Apollos is discussed in today’s text as someone who had developed a strong following among believers in Christ (1 Cor. 3:4). He is mentioned favorably by Paul in Titus 3:13 when he urged Titus to help Apollos on his journey.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Muddle of Human Meaning

 

Daily life really makes you think. News stories, events, and reports of atrocities, stupidities, crimes and the messes of human interactions bombard us on a constant basis. It is hard to truly buy in to the popular notion that we are essentially good and that faults are always the cause of some unforeseen, but blameworthy force or fact that does not include human culpability?

Many years ago in response to experience from clinical practice with those seeking therapeutic help, M. Scott Peck wrote a book called The People of the Lie in which he documents the amazing ability we seem to have to hide from ourselves. In case after case, facts were assembled, information was presented, the conclusions were obvious, showing real blame, guilt, moral responsibility. But those in the chair or in the limelight steadfastly denied the implications, avoided direct questions and would not own any sense of their wrong doing, hence the focus of the book.

Over the years I have been intrigued by this phenomenon, not least because of an interest in WWII and those who committed such great evil that seemed so obvious. But was it (to them)? Gitta Sereny was a writer who interviewed several of the leaders involved in the Nazi atrocities and in their leadership. One of these was Albert Speer, one of Hitler’s favorites. Despite having come forward with confessions about the Third Reich and writing extensively about it all, he could not own his own guilt in the deaths of so many in slave labor or his real awareness of the Holocaust. Sereny pressed him in many interviews but it was like a wall of separation in his conscience, he could not face the truth, he could not face himself, he could not own what it would mean.

It is easy and could be cavalier, to select extreme examples of this kind of thing, but the reality is that it is an all too real human thing and impacts us all. I hear the objections being raised: I have never committed atrocities or been involved in anything like this, yet in a myriad of ways there are lots of daily life experiences, if we will be honest, where indeed we have, and do, cover over our wrongs with convenient rationalizations.

As a young, and probably naïve believer, I once spoke up in a church serve seeking to confront gossip and its impact as we came to the worship service. I was gently told by an elder “that there was no gossip in the church, only tittle tattle (unknown Scottish idiom).” I could have pointed out that he was the object of some of these vicious accusations and comments I was hoping to stem. Instead, I was to learn that truth and honesty do not always come together as one would like.

Despite a rigorous Jewish upbringing and a very serious commitment to the Law, holiness, and moral conformity, Saul of Tarsus who would later become the Apostle Paul wrote some of the most descriptive, and relevant words in literature on human experience. In Romans Chapter 7, he artfully describes the tension between wanting or desiring the right or the good but doing the wrong. It is a very dramatic and powerful picture of internal struggle, of wrestling with a real power, with being overcome by something greater, something more demanding and something he does not want. The sense of helplessness leads to despair: except for the good news. There is a deliverer, there is an answer, there is help, and it is not an idea but a Savior.(1)

The Christian view of the human condition, both in its descriptive power but also in its healing vision and answer, is a wonderful remedy to a culture of denial and to those trapped with a sense of guilt and shame. It is a truth worth considering but then it also demands honesty to embrace.

Stuart McAllister is regional director for the Americas at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) See Romans 7:25.

Hear more on the intricate question of what it means to be human with Stuart McAllister and the RZIM team this summer:

The Human Condition: Noble and Flawed, June 14-19, 2015 at Georgia Tech University, Atlanta

Join members of our world-class team and special guests from critical disciplines as we consider the multifaceted nature of humanity, our fears and aspirations, laments and longings—our flaws and our nobility.

Reduced or Redeemed: What Does It Mean to Be Human? June 28-July 3, 2015 at Tyndale University and Seminary, Toronto

Alistair Begg – Show Your Steadfast Love

 

Wondrously show your steadfast love. Psalm 17:7

When we give our hearts with our offerings, we do well, but we must often admit to failure in this respect. Not so our Master and our Lord. His favors are always performed with the love of His heart. He does not send us the cold meat and the broken pieces from the table of His luxury, but He dips our portion in His own dish and seasons our provisions with the spices of His fragrant affections. When He puts the golden coins of His grace into our palms, He accompanies the gift with such a warm pressure of our hand that the manner of His giving is as precious as the gift itself. When He comes into our houses on His errands of love, He does not act as some austere visitors do in a poor man’s cottage, but He sits by our side, not despising our poverty, nor blaming our weakness.

Beloved, with what smiles does He speak! What golden sentences drop from His gracious lips! What embraces of affection does He bestow upon us! If He had only given us pennies, the way He gave would have made them as gold! But as it is, the expensive gifts are set in the golden basket of His pleasant demeanor. It is impossible to doubt the sincerity of His love, for there is a bleeding heart stamped upon the face of all His coins. He gives generally and without holding back. He gives no hint that we are burdensome to Him, no cold looks for His poor dependents; instead He rejoices in His mercy and presses us to His bosom while He is pouring out His life for us.

There is a fragrance in His ointment that nothing but His heart could produce; there is a sweetness in His honeycomb that could not be unless the very essence of His soul’s affection had been mingled with it. Oh, the rare communion that such singular devotion provides! May we continually taste and know the blessedness of it!

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

Charles Spurgeon – The hope of future bliss

 

“As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.” Psalm 17:15

Suggested Further Reading: Revelation 7:13-17

He will be satisfied, the Psalmist says, when he wakes up in God’s likeness. Satisfaction! This is another joy for the Christian when he shall enter heaven. Here we are never thoroughly satisfied. True, the Christian is satisfied from himself; he has that within which is a well-spring of comfort, and he can enjoy solid satisfaction. But heaven is the home of true and real satisfaction. When the believer enters heaven I believe his imagination will be thoroughly satisfied. All he has ever thought of he will there see; every holy idea will be solidified; every mighty conception will become a reality; every glorious imagination will become a tangible thing that he can see. His imagination will not be able to think of anything better than heaven; and should he sit down through eternity, he would not be able to conceive of anything that should outshine the lustre of that glorious city. His imagination will be satisfied. Then his intellect will be satisfied.

“Then shall I see, and hear, and know, All I desired, or wished, below.”

Who is satisfied with his knowledge here? Are there not secrets we want to know—depths of the secrets of nature that we have not entered? But in that glorious state we shall know as much as we want to know. The memory will be satisfied. We shall look back upon the vista of past years, and we shall be content with whatever we endured, or did, or suffered on earth.

“There, on a green and flowery mount, My wearied soul shall sit,
And with transporting joys recount, The labours of my feet.”

Hope will be satisfied, if there be such a thing in heaven. We shall hope for a future eternity, and believe in it. But we shall be satisfied as to our hope continually.

For meditation: The difference between now and then is beyond our finest imaginations (1 Corinthians 13:12; 1 John 3:2).

Sermon no. 25
20 May (1855)

John MacArthur – Desiring Christ’s Presence (Thomas)

 

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

The follower of Christ will have an intense desire to be in Christ’s presence.

When you think of Thomas, you probably think of a doubter. But if you look beyond his doubt, you’ll see he was characterized by something that should mark every true believer: an intense desire to be with Christ.

John 10:39-40 tells us Jesus and His disciples left Jerusalem because of threats on Jesus’ life. While they were staying near the Jordan River, Jesus received word that His dear friend Lazarus was sick. He delayed going to Lazarus because He didn’t want merely to heal him, but to raise him from the dead.

Lazarus lived in Bethany—just two miles east of Jerusalem. So when Jesus decided to go there, His disciples were deeply concerned, thinking it would surely be a suicide mission (John 11:8). Despite the danger, Thomas said, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him” (v. 16). That’s a pessimistic attitude, but it shows his courage and desire to be with Christ, whether in life or death. An optimist would expect the best, making it easier to go. Thomas expected the worst, but was willing to go anyway.

I believe Thomas couldn’t bear the thought of living without Christ. He would rather die with Him than live without Him. That’s also evident in John 14, where Jesus told the disciples He was going away to prepare a place for them. Thomas responded by saying in effect, “Lord, we don’t know where you’re going or how to get there. Please don’t go somewhere we can’t go!” (v. 5). He didn’t understand what Jesus was going to do. All he knew was he didn’t want to be separated from His Lord.

Can you identify with Thomas? Is Christ such an integral part of your daily decisions and activities that life without Him is unthinkable? Do you love Him so much you long to see Him? That was Thomas’s passion. May it be yours as well.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank the Lord for His presence and power in your life.
  • Demonstrate your love for Him by communing with Him often.

For Further Study

Read John 14:1-31.

  • What did Jesus say about His return?
  • Who would comfort and instruct the disciples in Christ’s absence?

Joyce Meyer – Holding on to Hope

 

And now, Lord, what do I wait for and expect? My hope and expectation are in You. Psalm 39:7

God’s Word says that He wants us to be blessed (see Deuteronomy 29:9). It states we can and will be blessed in every way when we walk in God’s will. Satan wants to keep people fearful and hopeless. Hopelessness steals our God-given peace and joy.

The enemy tells people they will never have anything, their life will never change, and things will never get better. And when people believe his lies, they remain hopeless and discouraged. We receive what we believe, whether it is positive or negative, so it’s vitally important for us to have faith in God constantly, like Mark 11:22–24 tells us to do.

Refuse to be hopeless and put your trust in God’s Word. Be like Abraham, of whom it is said that although he had no reason to hope, he hoped in faith that God’s promises would come to pass in his life. As he waited, he gave praise and glory to God, and Satan was not able to defeat him with doubt and unbelief (see Romans 4:18–20).

Prayer of Thanks

Father, thank You for the power of hope. I am grateful that no matter what the circumstances around me look like, I can place my hope in You and in Your Word. I am at peace today because You are the source of my hope.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Preserved From the Enemy

 

“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me” (Psalm 138:7, KJV).

Robert Bruce, the famous emancipator of Scotland, was fleeing from his enemies. He sought refuge in a cave.

Hot on his trail, his enemies reached his hideout where they saw that a spider had built a web over the mouth of the cave. His pursuers, concluding that he could not have entered without first destroying the web, turned around and went on their way.

“Oh God,” Bruce prayed, “I thank Thee that in the tiny bowels of a spider you can place for me a shelter, and then send the spider in time to place it for my protection.”

“God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform,” and whatever is necessary to protect His children from their enemies will be done.

All of life’s journey is summed up in that one work “walk.” Constant action, movement onward, never stationary, always on the move. Life is not simply a walk; often it is a walk “in the midst of trouble.” Since sin came into the world, pleasure is mixed with pain. Trials and conflict often seem to mar the pathway.

To the trusting, confident believer in Christ, however, there is certain renewal and deliverance. Christ’s indwelling Holy Spirit, given full control, guarantees victory and joy and abundant life – supernatural life.

Bible Reading: Psalm 138:1-6

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will see God’s protecting hand in my walk with Him today and proclaim His faithfulness to others.

Presidential Prayer Team; C.H. – Recipe for Success

 

Abolitionist and statesman Fredrick Douglass once said, “Allowing only ordinary ability and opportunity, we may explain success mainly by one word and that word is work!” The term “self-made man” is unquestionably woven into idea of the American Dream – the notion that one can work hard to create success.

The Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed.

Genesis 39:23

Joseph worked hard, but today’s verse affirms his success wasn’t a result of his own hands. Sold into slavery, Joseph worked his way to a high position, only to have it taken from him by Potiphar’s conniving wife. But when God makes you prosper, it doesn’t matter where you are. Joseph was taken to prison and rose to success there as well. God listened to the prayers of Joseph’s heart and used him for greatness – even to rescue his own family from famine.

Do you recognize God’s hand in your own life? Ask Him to open your eyes to the ways He has opened doors for you. Pray, too, for your Heavenly Father’s hands to be revealed in the lives of your national leaders.

Recommended Reading: I Samuel 18:6-16

Greg Laurie – The Three Cs of Life

 

It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin.

—Hebrews 11:24–25

What you decide to eat for lunch and what you decide to wear don’t have long-lasting repercussions in life. But there are other decisions that are very important, like whom you will marry and what career path you take. And the most important choice of all is whether you will follow Jesus Christ.

You could call it the three Cs of life: challenges, choices, and consequences. We face challenges every day. Sometimes those challenges will come in the form of an opportunity that we can take advantage of. At other times they will come in the form of a temptation that hopefully we’ll resist. Then we have the choices we will make. And then we have the consequences of those choices. If we have made the right choices, there will be good consequences. If we have made the wrong choices, there will be bad consequences.

We need to make the right choices in life because it can affect the entire course that our lives take. Think about people in the Bible who made certain choices. Moses made a choice to help his fellow Hebrews. He chose that over the riches and power of Egypt, and his choice saved a nation. Daniel’s choice not to compromise brought great hope and encouragement to so many, which set a course that affected their lives.

But then there were wrong choices that people made. Adam’s choice cost him paradise. Esau’s choice cost him his birthright. King Saul’s choice cost him his kingdom. Judas’s choice cost him his apostleship and his very life. Pilate, Agrippa, and Felix—all Roman leaders—chose wrong and missed eternity with Christ.

The choices of life are binding in eternity. You will make choices today that will affect you forever. You make your decisions, and then your decisions make you.

 

Max Lucado – None Righteous

 

All of us occasionally do what is right. A few predominantly do what is right. But do any of us always do what is right?  According to Paul we don’t!  Romans 3:10 says, “There is no one righteous; no, not one.” Some beg to differ. I’m not perfect, but I’m better than most. I’d say I was a righteous person. I used to try that one on my mother. My brother’s room was always messier than mine. I’d say, “See, my room is clean; just look at his.” It never worked. She would show me her room and say, “This is what I mean by clean.”

God does the same. He points to himself and says, This is what I mean by righteousness. David said, “He leads me in the paths of righteousness.” God’s way is a narrow winding path up a steep hill. At the top of the hill is a Cross!

From Traveling  Light