Charles Stanley – Dealing With Fear

 

Philippians 4:6

Not only is anxiety uncomfortable; it also leads to negative consequences. For example, reasoning becomes cloudy when permeated with worry. So an anxious person will have trouble making wise decisions. Fear of failure may also lead to procrastination or lack of productivity. Apprehension can devastate personal and spiritual growth, relationships, and work. So conquering fear is important.

These four steps can help:

  1. IDENTIFY THE FEAR. Ask yourself, What are the circumstances surrounding my feelings? What triggered them? What message am I telling myself?
  2. TURN TO THE LORD. Remember that God loves you and desires a close relationship with you. He is in sovereign control of your situation, so bring your apprehension to Him.
  3. REBUKE THE FEAR. You have authority and power in Jesus’ name to reject what isn’t from Him. Meditate on Scripture passages such as Matthew 10:31 and Proverbs 1:33. Let God’s truth replace any wrong thinking.
  4. CLING TO YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER. Take your focus off your circumstances, and look to the One who promises His help. The Bible gives this assurance: “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

Circumstances are external and often beyond your control. But your response originates within. It’s amazing how fears diminish in the Father’s presence.

Our Daily Bread — New Start For A Broken Heart

 

Read: Isaiah 61:1-3

Bible in a Year: 1 Chronicles 13-15; John 7:1-27

He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted. —Isaiah 61:1

The Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb, Croatia, is filled with anonymously donated remnants of love gone wrong. There is an axe that a jilted lover used to destroy the furniture of an offending partner. Stuffed animals, love letters framed in broken glass, and wedding dresses all speak volumes of heartache. While some visitors to the museum leave in tears over their own loss, some couples depart with hugs and a promise not to fail each other.

The Old Testament prophet Isaiah wrote, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted” (Isa. 61:1). When Jesus read from Isaiah 61 at the synagogue in Nazareth, He said, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). Extending far beyond help for an emotional wound, Isaiah’s words speak of a changed heart and a renewed spirit that come by receiving God’s gift of “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isa. 61:3).

All of us have experienced regret and broken promises in our lives. Whatever has happened, the Lord invites us to find healing, hope, and new life in Him. —David McCasland

Lord, You are the promise-keeping God who has said He will make all things new. Today we give You our ashes in exchange for Your beauty, our mourning for the joy of finding comfort in You. Thank You!

God can transform tragedies into triumphs.

INSIGHT: Today’s Bible reading is a prophetic text that points to the arrival of the Messiah. It is not surprising, therefore, that in the synagogue of Nazareth Jesus selected a portion of this passage to announce His arrival and mission (Isa. 61:1-2). Luke 4:18-19 records for us this significant announcement rooted in Isaiah’s ancient words. In the verbs used by Isaiah, we see the core of Christ’s work (preach, heal, proclaim), and in the nouns we find word-pictures of the needy people for whom He had come (poor, brokenhearted, captives, bound).

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Behold, the Crucified

 

Even modern English Bible versions often end up retaining the rather un-modern term “behold” in their translations of the Hebrew word hinneh and the Greek word idou. This is because there is no other equivalent English word that quite does the job that behold does. All the three terms—Hebrew, Greek, and English—have a certain gravitas, and, whenever used, command us to pay careful attention to what follows.

In John’s narrative of the trial and the crucifixion of Jesus, there are five occurrences of the term—three coming from the mouth of the unwitting prophet, Pilate, and twice from the mouth of our Lord Jesus. Each occurrence summons us to a facet of the person and work of Christ.

In John 19:4, “Pilate came out again and said to them, ‘Behold, I am bringing Him out to you so that you may know that I find no guilt in Him.’” We may render Pilate’s words as: “Behold, the Guiltless One!” Christians have always claimed, and will always claim, that Jesus, the Innocent, bore the sins of a guilty world. When his executioners twisted together a crown of thorns and thrust it upon his head, little did they know that they were enacting a prophetic truth! For in that single image—the crown of thorns on his head—is encapsulated the central Christian claim: that this guiltless-but-crucified one bore upon himself the guilt and curse of the whole of creation. Remember: “Cursed is the ground because of you…. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you” (Gen. 3:17-18).

The following verse is the second time the word occurs: “Jesus then came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, ‘Behold, the Man!’” (v.5). Jesus is the window to God; He is also the mirror to man. In him, we see what is wrong with us, and what we are meant to be. The poetic poignancy of the occurrence is also found in the allusion that, just as the first human being, Adam, takes stage on the sixth day of creation, Christ, the New Human Being, takes center stage on the sixth day—Good Friday—of new creation.(1) And we are summoned to pay close attention to him, the man.

We are no longer helplessly and hopelessly fated to take the course of Adam. There is another pattern for being fully and truly human: Behold, the man!

The third time “behold” appears is in verse 14, where “[Pilate] said to the Jews, ‘Behold, your King.’” In his book, Jesus Rediscovered, Malcolm Muggeridge, in his inimitable way, says, “The crown of thorns, the purple robe, the ironical title ‘King of the Jews,’ were intended to mock or parody Christ’s pretensions to be the Messiah; in fact, they rather hold up to ridicule and contempt all crowns, all robes, all kings that ever were. It was a sick joke that back-fired.”(2) Muggeridge is perhaps being a touch cynical here, and may be guilty of rendering serious political reflection and engagement impossible and pointless. All the same, the Christian claim that Jesus is the Christ (i.e., the King) is a claim that effectively loosens all other claims, renegotiates all other allegiances, recasts all other power, downsizes all other authorities, domesticates all other principalities, and tempers the Christian resolve to not give beings and things, apart from God and his Christ, an ultimacy that they demand but do not deserve. Christ, in short, dismantles idols and unravels idolatries.

The final two occurrences are found in John 19:26-27: “When Jesus then saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.” We may club the two occurrences to mean, “Behold, your new family!” Theologians have also often noted John’s allusion to the Church in his record of Jesus side being speared (Jn. 19:34): as Eve, the bride of Adam, issued forth from Adam’s side, the Church, the bride of Christ, issues forth from the crucified’s side, with the blood and water symbolizing the two foundational sacraments of the Church, Lord’s Supper and Baptism. At the foot of the Cross, there is the creating and forging of a new family, a new community, a new humanity—the Church: a believing that leads to a belonging.

Kethoser (Aniu) Kevichusa is a member of the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Nagaland, India.

(1) This basic thought is borrowed from the various writings of N.T. Wright on the passage.

(2) Malcolm Muggeridge, Jesus Rediscovered (London: Fontana, 1969), 47.

Alistair Begg – If…

 

…if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

1 Peter 2:3

“If.” Then this is not a matter to be taken for granted concerning every one of the human race. “If”–then there is a possibility and a probability that some may not have tasted that the Lord is gracious. “If”–then this is not a general but a special mercy; and it is necessary to ask whether we know the grace of God by inward experience. There is no spiritual favor that may not be a matter for heart-searching.

But while this should be a matter of earnest and prayerful inquiry, no one ought to be content while there is any such thing as an “if” about his having tasted that the Lord is good. A jealous and holy distrust of self may give rise to the question even in the believer’s heart, but the continuance of such a doubt would be an evil indeed. We must not rest without a desperate struggle to clasp the Savior in the arms of faith and say, “I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.”1

Do not rest, believer, until you have a full assurance of your interest in Jesus. Let nothing satisfy you until, by the infallible witness of the Holy Spirit bearing witness with your spirit, you are identified as a child of God. Do not trifle with this. Do not be satisfied with “perhaps” or “if” or “maybe.” Build on eternal truths; really build upon them. Let your anchor be cast into that which is within the veil, and see to it that your soul is linked to the anchor by a cable that will not break. Get beyond these dreary “ifs”; stay no longer in the wilderness of doubts and fears; cross the Jordan of distrust, and enter the promised land of peace, where the land ceases not to flow with milk and honey.

1) 2 Timothy 1:12

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

Charles Spurgeon – A sense of pardoned sin

 

“Thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.” Isaiah 38:17

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 32

We are saved by faith, and not by feeling. “We walk by faith and not by sight.” Yet there is as much connection between faith and hallowed feeling, as there is between the root and the flower. Faith is permanent, just as the root is ever in the ground; feeling is casual, and has its seasons. Just as the bulb does not always shoot up the green stem; far less is it always crowned with the many, many-coloured flower. Faith is the tree, the essential tree; our feelings are like the appearance of that tree during the different seasons of the year. Sometimes our soul is full of bloom and blossom, and the bees hum pleasantly, and gather honey within our hearts. It is then that our feelings bear witness to the life of our faith, just as the buds of spring bear witness to the life of the tree. Presently, our feelings gather still greater vigour, and we come to the summer of our delights. Again, perhaps, we begin to wither into the dry and yellow leaf of autumn; nay, sometimes the winter of our despondency and despair will strip away every leaf from the tree, and our poor faith stands like a blasted stem without a sign of greenness. And yet, my brethren, so long as the tree of faith is there we are saved. Whether faith blossom or not, whether it bring forth joyous fruit in our experience or not, so long as it be there in all its permanence we are saved. Yet we should have the gravest reason to distrust the life of our faith, if it did not sometimes blossom with joy, and often bring forth fruit unto holiness.

For meditation: True joy cannot exist without saving faith (1 Peter 1:8-9), but sometimes our salvation needs to have its joy restored (Psalm 51:12).

Sermon no. 316
21 May (Preached 20 May 1860)

John MacArthur – Beyond Doubt to Hope (Thomas)

 

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

Jesus can replace your doubts with hope.

When Jesus was crucified, Thomas was shattered. He loved Jesus deeply and wanted always to be with Him. He was willing even to die with Him, but now his greatest fear had been realized: Jesus was gone.

Thomas was not with the other disciples when Jesus appeared to them after His resurrection. John 20:25 says, “The other disciples therefore were saying to [Thomas], ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.'” Thomas was emotionally spent and unwilling to subject himself to any further pain. So he retreated behind a wall of empiricism, saying in effect, “I’m not going to believe this on your word alone. I need proof! I must see Jesus myself.”

Because of that, people have labeled him “Doubting Thomas,” but remember, none of the disciples believed the resurrection until Jesus appeared to them. Thomas wasn’t a compulsive doubter—he was a loving pessimist.

As it turned out, Thomas didn’t need as much proof as he thought. When Jesus finally appeared to him and invited him to touch His hands and side, Thomas didn’t do either. Instead he immediately cried out, “My Lord and my God!” (v. 28)—which is the greatest single confession of faith ever made.

Thomas struggled with doubt because he didn’t understand what Jesus said about His own death and resurrection, and he wasn’t with the other disciples when Jesus first appeared to them. He failed to understand God’s Word and forsook the company of believers—two common mistakes that can lead to doubt.

Jesus doesn’t condemn you when you have doubts. Instead, He gives you His Spirit, His Word, and the fellowship of His people to encourage and strengthen you. So commune with the Spirit in prayer, know the Word well, and never forsake the fellowship of believers. That’s how to change your doubts into hope!

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for the presence of His Spirit, the power of His word, and the fellowship of His people.

For Further Study

Read Luke 24:13-35.

  • Why didn’t the two disciples recognize Jesus?
  • How did Jesus change their doubts to hope?

Joyce Meyer – Peace Is the “Umpire”

 

And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. Colossians 3:15

Peace is our inheritance from Jesus, but we have to choose to follow Him daily. Colossians 3:15 teaches us that peace is to be the “umpire” in our lives, settling every issue that needs a decision. To gain and maintain peace in our hearts, we may have to learn to say no to a few things.

For example, if we don’t feel peace about something, we should never go ahead and do it. And if we don’t have peace while we are doing something, then we shouldn’t expect to have peace after we have done it. Many people marry others they didn’t have peace about marrying, and then they wonder why they don’t have peace in their marriages. Many people buy expensive items they didn’t have peace about buying, then continue to lose their peace every month when they have to make payments on them.

Colossians 3:15 says to let the peace from Christ “rule (act as umpire continually)” in our hearts. The presence of peace helps us decide and settle with finality all questions that arise in our minds. If you let the Word have its home in your heart and mind, it will give you insight and intelligence and wisdom (see v. 16).You won’t have to wonder, Should I or shouldn’t I? I don’t know if it’s right. I don’t know what to do. If you are a disciple of Christ, He has called you to follow peace.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – We can Have Real Peace

 

“So now, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith in His promises, we can have real peace with Him because of what Jesus Christ our Lord had done for us” (Romans 5:1).

When Arthur DeMoss, one of my very best friends and one of our Lord’s choicest servants, went to be with the Lord, as the result of an unexpected heart attack, all of us were shocked. The word reached me in Austria, where I was meeting with our European staff. Immediately, I flew back to the United States for the memorial service.

As I participated in that service, I looked over the large audience, about half of whom had been introduced to Christ through the ministry of this man whom we had all come to honor.

In the crowd, I saw one face that stood out – a face that was most radiant of all. It was Art’s widow, Nancy. She was sitting in the front row with their seven children. Her radiant countenance was a demonstration to me of the supernatural joy and peace which God gives in such times of extreme grief.

Nancy and Art were the greatest of lovers and friends. They had been deeply in love since their courtship and were almost inseparable whether in the building of the business, in the rearing of their family or in their burden for evangelism and the souls of men.

Yet, in this time of Nancy’s greatest sorrow, the evidence that she was filled with the Spirit radiated from her countenance. She was experiencing the supernatural peace of God – love’s security, which is available to all of God’s children.

Bible Reading: Romans 5:2-11

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will claim by faith God’s peace – not only for me but also for family and friends in need of such peace – and seek to introduce others to the One who is the Prince of Peace.

Presidential Prayer Team; H.L.M. – Miracles

 

Many people were praying for Mark Hall, the lead singer of Christian worship band Casting Crowns, as he underwent surgery to have a cancerous tumor removed from his kidney. After the surgery his wife, Melanie, shared the good news. “The pathology report is in and the news is just as we expected and also an answer to the prayers we have all prayed. The findings of the report confirm that the cancer had not spread to the kidney or anywhere else. Glory Hallelujah!”

Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.”

Genesis 40:8

Melanie credited her husband’s healing as a miracle from the Lord. “God was at work in this before we had any idea,” she said. “We are thankful for His mercy and grace. We are thankful that He chose to answer our requests this way.”

When the subject of interpreting dreams came up in Genesis 40, Joseph focused everyone’s attention on God. Rather than using the situation to make himself look good, Joseph turned it into a powerful witness for the Lord. Be faithful to publicly give God all the credit when He answers your prayers in response to your bold service for Him. Pray also that Americans will recognize the Lord’s miraculous work in their own lives.

Recommended Reading: Matthew 10:1-8

Greg Laurie – Influencers

 

And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. —James 2:23

Abraham is introduced to us in the book of Genesis as a great man of God, and James describes him as “the friend of God” (James 2:23). It’s a unique description and a wonderful one at that.

One day the Lord came to His friend Abraham and said that He wanted Abraham to follow Him. He also told Abraham to make a clean break with his family and others. The family of Abraham was pagan and worshiped false gods. But Abraham was especially attached to certain members of his family—specifically to his nephew Lot. So Abraham obeyed God, but only partially. Abraham took Lot with him and then began to reap the consequences.

The people you choose to surround yourself with and have as your friends is really significant. These people either will build you up spiritually, or they will tear you down spiritually. All too often we make friends with the wrong people, and it negatively affects us.

What kind of influence do your friends have on you right now? Think about the people you hang out with, the people you text throughout the day, and the people you talk to on the phone or get together with for lunch or hang out with on the weekends. Are they building you up spiritually, or are they dragging you down?

At the same time, what kind of friend are you? Are you building up others spiritually, or are you dragging them down? The Bible addresses this in 2 Timothy 2:22: “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

Those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart—is that a description of your friends right now? And is that a description of you?

Max Lucado – God Loves Humility

 

God loves humility. Could that be why he offers so many tips on cultivating it?

Assess yourself honestly. Romans 12:3 says, “Don’t cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself, but try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities.”

Don’t take success too seriously. Deuteronomy 8:13 warns, “When your silver and gold increase your heart will become proud.” Ponder your success and count your money in a cemetery, and remember neither of the two is buried with you.

Celebrate the significance of others. Philippians 2:3 says, “In humility consider others better than yourselves.”

Speak humbly. 1st Samuel 2:3 warns, “Let no arrogance come from your mouth.” Don’t be cocky. People aren’t impressed with your opinions. In Galatians 6:14, Paul said, “The cross of our Lord Jesus Christ is my only reason for bragging!” So if you need to brag—brag about that!

From Traveling Light

Night Light for Couples – Looking Out For the Single Mom

 

“Look after orphans and widows in their distress.” James 1:27

Many years ago I was working around the house when a knock came at the door. When I opened it, there stood Sally, a young woman in her late teens. “I’m selling brushes,” she said, “and I wonder if you’d like to buy any.” I told her politely that I wasn’t interested in buying anything that day, and Sally said, “I know. No one else is, either.” With that, she began to cry. I invited Sally to come in for a cup of coffee and asked her to share her story. It turned out that she was an unmarried mother who was struggling mightily to support her two‐year‐old son.

That night, we went to her shabby little apartment above a garage to see how we could help her and her toddler. When we opened the cupboards, there was nothing there for them to eat—I mean nothing. That night they both dined on a can of Spaghetti‐Os. We took Sally to the market and did what we could to help her get on her feet. There are millions of single mothers out there who are desperately trying to survive in a hostile world.

All of them could use a little kindness—from babysitting to providing a meal to repairing the washing machine to just showing a little thoughtfulness. Have you opened your eyes to them lately?

Raising kids all alone is the toughest job in the universe. Look around your neighborhood through “God’s eyes.” Is a single mom going down for the third time? How about giving a helping hand? Not only will she be encouraged, but her children will bless you as well.

– Shirley M Dobson

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