Charles Stanley – Our Responsibility to Rest

 

Psalm 37:1-8

Today’s passage promises, “[God] will give you the desires of your heart” (v. 4). But it also names three requirements for that promise: We must delight in the Lord, we should trust in His plan, and we need to rest in Him. Resting in the Lord is one of the hardest tasks we must undertake.

Resting may sound easy, but it requires supernatural courage, since in our human weakness, we tend to fret. Worry turns our minds away from delight and trust in the Lord. The three requirements are interrelated. We must enjoy spending time with God in order to learn to trust Him and commit to His way; our trust is absolutely essential to resting in Him; and we must be willing to rest in order to truly delight in Him.

Patiently waiting for the Lord to act is one of the supreme tests of our spiritual maturity. The stronger our desire is, the shorter our delay fuse. Sometimes we may desperately want to give God a timetable, but genuine, restorative rest occurs on His schedule. Only He understands every circumstance and knows the precise moment when answering our prayer will yield maximum benefit. We risk reaping disappointment, pain, and loss whenever we push ahead of His divine timeline.

Before you get out of bed each day, say a prayer like this one: Father, I want to thank You for giving me the desires of my heart. Today, I am going to delight myself in You, commit everything to You, and rest in the knowledge that You have everything under control. And I will wait for Your perfect timing. If you follow the guidance of Psalm 37, God will richly bless you.

  Our Daily Bread — Our Strength And Song

 

Read: Exodus 15:1–2,13–18

Bible in a Year: 1 Chronicles 25-27; John 9:1-23

The LORD shall reign forever and ever. —Exodus 15:18

Often called “The March King,” composer and band director John Philip Sousa created music that has been played by bands around the world for more than a hundred years. As Loras John Schissel, music historian and conductor of the Virginia Grand Military Band, said, “Sousa is to marches what Beethoven is to symphonies.” Sousa understood the power of music to motivate, encourage, and inspire people.

In Old Testament times, the people of Israel were often inspired to compose and sing songs to celebrate God’s help during times of need. When the Lord saved His people from certain destruction by Pharaoh’s army, “Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the LORD . . . ‘I will sing to the LORD, for He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea! The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation’ ” (Ex. 15:1-2).

Music has the power to lift our spirits by reminding us of God’s faithfulness in the past. When we’re discouraged, we can sing songs and hymns that raise our eyes from the challenging circumstances we face to see the power and presence of the Lord. We are reminded that He is our strength, our song, and our salvation. —David McCasland

Trust in Him, ye saints, forever— He is faithful, changing never; Neither force nor guile can sever Those He loves from Him. —Kelly

Songs of praise raise our eyes to see God’s faithfulness.

INSIGHT: Moses’s song after the Israelites had passed through the Red Sea and were delivered from the pursuing Egyptians has two perspectives—one looking back and one looking forward. In the first verses, Moses reflects on what God has done to deliver His people (vv. 1-2). In the later verses, Moses looks forward to what God will do to establish His people in their new land (vv. 13-18).

 

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Exploring a New Regime

 

The 1748 essay “Of Miracles” by David Hume was influential in leading the charge against the miraculous, thoughts that were later sharpened (though also later recanted) by Antony Flew. Insisting the laws of a natural world incompatible with the supernatural, the new atheists continue to weigh in on the subject today. With them, many Christian philosophers and scientists, who are less willing to define miracle as something that must break the laws of nature, join the conversation with an opposing gusto. Physicist and Anglican priest John Polkinghorne, for instance, suggests that miracles are not violations of the laws of nature but rather “exploration of a new regime of physical experience.”(1)

The possibility or impossibility of the miraculous fills books, debates, and lectures. What it does not fill is that moment when a person finds herself—rationally or otherwise—crying out for intervention, for help and assurance, indeed, for the miraculous. “For most of us” writes C.S. Lewis, “the prayer in Gethsemane is the only model. Removing mountains can wait.”(2) To this I would simply add that often prayer is both: both the anguished cry of Gethsemane—”please, take this from me”—prayed at the foot of an impossible mountain.

Whether this moment comes beside a hospital bed, a dying marriage, a grave injustice, or debilitating struggle, we seem almost naturally inclined in some way to cry out for an intervening factor, something or someone beyond the known laws of A + B that sit defiantly in front of us. For my own family that moment came with cancer, complicated by well-intentioned commands to believe without doubt that God was going to take it away. When death took it away instead, like many others in our situation, our faith in miracles—and the God who gives them—were equally defeated.

In the throes of that heart-wrenching scene, every time I closed my eyes to pray, the vision of an empty throne filled my mind. It was something like the vision of Isaiah in the temple, only there was no robe and no body filling anything.(3) My prayers seemed to be given not a resounding “no,” but a non-answer, a cold, agonizing silence, which was also very much an answer. It was only years after the scene of my failed prayers for the miraculous that I was physically startled, again like Isaiah, at the thought that the throne was empty because the one who fills it had stepped down to sit beside us as we cried.

Such a miracle was nothing close to the one we were hoping for, and yet, years now after the sting of death, the incarnational gift of a God who comes near—in life, in suffering, even unto the grave—is inarguably the miracle far more profound. I don’t fully know why in the midst of our pain we felt alone and abandoned. Perhaps our eyes were too focused on the scene of the miracle we wanted, such that no other could be seen. “God sometimes seems to speak to us most intimately when God catches us, as it were, off our guard,” writes C.S. Lewis. “Our preparations to receive [God] sometimes have the opposite effect. Doesn’t Charles Williams say somewhere that ‘the altar must often be built in one place in order that the fire from heaven may descend somewhere else‘?”(4)

And this somewhere else, this new regime, the place that catches us off-guard, is maybe even quite often right in front of us, near but unnoticed, miraculous but missed. In the words of Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Marilynne Robinson, “I have spent my life watching, not to see beyond the world, merely to see, great mystery, what is plainly before my eyes. I think the concept of transcendence is based on a misreading of creation. With all respect to heaven, the scene of miracle is here, among us.”(5)

What if we were to start looking, not for miraculous signs and antepasts from beyond, but for a closer scene of miracle, for invitations to explore that new regime of physical existence brought about by the Incarnation, for foretastes of a banquet to which we are invited even today. Miracle and mystery may well be plainly before our eyes. For of course, Christianity is the story of the great Miracle, the story of the vicariously human Son of God coming not where we expected, but where we needed him most. Like the kingdom itself and the Christ who came to announce it, the scene of miracle may be nearer than we think.

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

(1) John Polkinghorne, Faith, Science and Understanding (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), 59.

(2) C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm Chiefly on Prayer (San Diego: Harcourt, 1992), 60.

(3) See Isaiah 6.

(4) Lewis, 117.

(5) Marilynne Robinson, The Death of Adam (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1998), 243.

Alistair Begg – When Do You Pray?

 

Do not forsake me, O Lord! Psalm 38:21

We frequently pray that God would not forsake us in the hour of trial and temptation, but we are prone to forget that we need to pray like this at all times. There is no moment of our life, however holy, in which we can do without His constant upholding. Whether in light or in darkness, in communion or in temptation, we need always to pray, “Do not forsake me, O LORD!” “Hold me up, that I may be safe.”1

A little child, while learning to walk, always needs the nurse’s aid. The ship left by the pilot drifts immediately off course. We cannot do without continued aid from above; let it then be your prayer today, “Do not forsake me. Father, do not forsake Your child, lest he fall by the hand of the enemy. Shepherd, do not forsake Your lamb, lest he wander from the safety of the fold. Farmer, do not forsake Your crops, lest they wither and die. ‘Do not forsake me, O LORD,’ now or at any moment of my life. Do not forsake me in my joys, lest they absorb my heart. Do not forsake me in my sorrows, lest I murmur against You. Do not forsake me in the day of my repentance, lest I lose the hope of pardon and fall into despair; and do not forsake me in the day of my strongest faith, lest faith degenerate into presumption. Do not forsake me, for without You I am weak, but with You I am strong. Do not forsake me, for my path is dangerous and full of snares, and I cannot do without Your guidance. As the hen does not forsake her brood, so You, O Lord protect me, and permit me to find my refuge in You. ‘Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help.’2 Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation!'”3

Forever in our cleansed breast,

May Thy Eternal Spirit rest;

And make our secret soul to be

A temple clean and pure for Thee.

1) Psalm 119:117     2) Psalm 22:11    3) Psalm 27:9

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

Charles Spurgeon – The God of the aged

 

“Even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.” Isaiah 46:4

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 71:1-18

Middle aged man! Listen to what David says, again, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” Go on, then, unsheath your sword once more. “The battle is the Lord’s;” leave your declining years to him, and give your present years to him. Live to him now, and he will never cast you away when you are old. Do not lay up for old age and keep back from the cause of God; but rather trust God for the future. Be “diligent in business;” but take care you do not hurt your spirit, by being too diligent, by being grasping and selfish. Remember you will

“Want but little here below, Nor want that little long.”

And lastly, my dear venerable fathers in the faith, and mothers in Israel, take these words for your joy. Do not let the young people catch you indulging in melancholy, sitting in your chimney corner, grumbling and growling, but go about cheerful and happy, and they will think how blessed it is to be a Christian. If you are surly and fretful, they will think the Lord has forsaken you; but keep a smiling countenance, and they will think the promise is fulfilled. “And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.” Do, I beseech you, my venerable friends, try to be of a happy temperament and cheerful spirit, for a child will run away from a surly old man; but there is not a child in the world who does not love his grandfather if he is cheerful and happy. You can lead us to heaven if you have got heaven’s sunlight on your face.

For meditation: Elderly believers—the Bible tells us about their testimony (Psalm 92:14,15; Proverbs 16:31), their teaching (Titus 2:2,3) and their treatment (1 Timothy 5:1,2).

note: This sermon was substantially repeated at Stambourne, Essex, two days later on the commemoration of the jubilee of Spurgeon’s grandfather, Rev James Spurgeon.

Sermon nos. 81-82
25 May (1856)

 

John MacArthur – Living Courageously (Thaddaeus)

 

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

Victorious Christian living requires great courage.

Thaddaeus was a man of many identities. In the King James translation of Matthew 10:3 he is called “Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus.” He is also called “Judas the son of James” (Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13) and “Judas (not Iscariot)” (John 14:22).

Judas, which means “Jehovah leads,” was probably the name given him at birth, with Thaddaeus and Lebbaeus added later as nicknames to reflect his character. Apparently Thaddaeus was the nickname given to him by his family. It comes from a Hebrew root word that refers to the female breast. Basically it means a “breast-child.” Perhaps Thaddaeus was the youngest child in the family or especially dear to his mother. Lebbaeus comes from a Hebrew root that means “heart.” Literally it means a “heart-child,” and speaks of someone who is courageous. That nickname was likely given him by his friends, who saw him as a man of boldness and courage.

Early church tradition tells us that Thaddaeus was tremendously gifted with the power of God to heal the sick. It is said that a certain Syrian king named Adgar was very ill and sent for Thaddaeus to come and heal him. On his way to the king, Thaddaeus reportedly healed hundreds of people throughout Syria. When he finally reached the king, he healed him then preached Christ to him. As a result, the king became a Christian. The country, however, was thrown into chaos, and a vengeful nephew of the king had Thaddaeus imprisoned then beaten to death with a club. If that tradition is true, it confirms that Thaddaeus was a man of great courage.

It takes courage to die for Christ but it also takes courage to live for Him. That’s why Paul said that God hasn’t given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline (2 Tim. 1:7). Each day trust in God’s promises and rely on His Spirit. That’s how you can face each new challenge with courage and confidence.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for the courage He has given you in the past and ask Him to help you face future spiritual battles without retreat or compromise.

For Further Study

Read Daniel 3:1-30.

  • Why were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego punished by King Nebuchadnezzar?
  • How did God honor their courage?

Joyce Meyer – Be a True Worshipper

 

A time will come, however, indeed it is already here, when the true (genuine) worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth (reality); for the Father is seeking just such people as these as His worshipers. John 4:23

Worship is so much more than singing songs. It is a condition of the heart and a state of mind. Our worship for God is born in our hearts, it fills our thoughts, and it is expressed through our mouths and through our actions. Worship is about a personal relationship, spiritual intimacy, and passionate expressions of devotion from people who love God with all their hearts.

The Bible says God is seeking those who worship Him in spirit and in truth. He wants us to worship Him in all that we do out of our sincerely devoted hearts. He does not want to be worshipped out of fear, obligation, or religion; true worship is never the result of mere obligation, but a result of intimacy with God.

Power Thought: I worship God in spirit and in truth.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Give Him the First Part

 

“Honor the Lord by giving Him the first part of all your income, and He will fill your barns with wheat and barley and overflow your wine vats with the finest wines” (Proverbs 3:9,10).

“Yes, I tithe,” said John D. Rockefeller, Sr., “and I would like to tell you how it all came about.

“I had to begin work as a small boy to help support my mother. My first wages amounted to $1.50 per week. The first week after I went to work I took the $1.50 home to my mother and she held the money in her lap and explained to me that she would be happy if I would give a tenth of it to the Lord.

“I did,” Rockefeller said, “and from that week until this day I have tithed every dollar God has entrusted to me. And I want to say if I had not tithed the first dollar I made I would not have tithed the first million dollars I made.

“Tell your readers to train the children to tithe, and they will grow up to be faithful stewards of the Lord.”

As R. G. Le Tourneau observed years ago, “We do not give to God because it pays, but it does pay to give to God and to serve Him faithful.” Without any question, God honors faithful stewardship – of time, energy, money, all that we have and are.

The importance of tithing is one of the first lessons I learned as a new Christian. Now I realize that that is only the beginning, because everything that I enjoy has been entrusted to me by a gracious, loving Father, who expects me to maximize all that he has put into my hands; therefore, tithing must be followed by offerings, based on clear Word of God that as we sow we reap. The more we give back to God, the more He will entrust to us, but we are to give with a cheerful heart out of a deep sense of gratitude for all that God has given to us.

Bible Reading: Malachi 3:8-12

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: God will have the first fruits of my life, the first part of my money, my time, my talent, my energy.

Presidential Prayer Team; J.R. – Memorial Day – 2015

 

Perfectly Positioned Protector

It is was a big surprise when Terry L. Ferguson, a Syracuse, New York teacher, walked into the Central Technical Vocational Center one morning to find fellow teachers and students immersed in grief. And they were even more than shocked to see Terry walk in…because it was Terry’s death they were grieving. It turns out that another Terry L. Ferguson – who lived nearby and drove the same type of vehicle – had been the victim of a fatal accident the prior evening.

“Surely he has been torn to pieces,” and I have never seen him since.

Genesis 44:28

Joseph’s father Jacob lived for many years with the mistaken belief that his beloved son was dead. Jacob had been led to understand by his other scheming sons that Joseph had been “torn to pieces” by a wild animal. But what a day it was when he learned that Joseph was not only alive and well, but was perfectly positioned to deliver the family from famine and oppression.

Too many Christians live as if Jesus died on the cross and has never been seen since. But He is alive…ready to deliver you, change your future, and restore America. May He hear from you today!

Recommended Reading: Psalm 91:1-11

Greg Laurie – The Company You Keep

 

It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.”—1 Corinthians 5:12–13

When I’m around nonbelievers, I don’t expect them to behave like believers. I don’t hold them to the standards of Christians. But sometimes Christians will get really uptight around nonbelievers. They used a cuss word. They said something that is contrary to my faith.

I am not saying that we should condone everything that nonbelievers say or do. But I am saying that we should love them, be kind to them, and engage them as much as we can. We want to build a bridge to nonbelievers.

The apostle Paul told the believers at Corinth, “When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that” (1 Corinthians 5:9–10).

If we break off all communication with nonbelievers, then how will they ever become believers? So we do want to have relationships with people who don’t know the Lord. The goal is to win them to Christ.

But there are certain people whom the Bible says we are not to associate with. Paul said, “You are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people” (verse 11).

The apostle was talking about those who claim to be Christians but are engaged in sexual sin, are drunkards, or are involved in the other things that he mentioned. Paul was saying, “Don’t hang out with those people. In fact, don’t even have lunch with them.” Why? Because they will drag you down spiritually.

Max Lucado – Get Over Yourself

Proverbs 16:5 says, “The Lord despises pride.” So, get over yourself!

An elementary boy came home from tryouts for the school play. “Mommy, mommy” he announced, “I got a part. I’ve been chosen to sit in the audience and clap and cheer.” When you have a chance to clap and cheer, do you take it? If you do, your head is starting to fit your hat size.

Demanding respect is like chasing a butterfly. Chase it, and you’ll never catch it. Sit still, and it may light on your shoulder. The Bible says in Proverbs 27:2, “Don’t praise yourself. Let someone else do it.” Does your self-esteem need attention? You need only pause at the base of the cross and be reminded of this: The maker of the stars would rather die for you than live without you. And that’s a fact!

From Traveling Light

Night Light for Couples – A Tale of Two Homes

 

“If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” Mark 3:25

Suppose that you’re seven years old. You arrive home from school, and your mother welcomes you with a smile and a snack. Later your father comes home. Mom and Dad greet each other with a kiss and loving words. Dad gives you a warm hug. That night, after you finish your homework, the three of you enjoy a family game. Finally, you say your prayers and fall asleep.

Now put yourself in another seven‐year‐old’s place. You come home from school to a mother who, when she’s home at all, is on the phone or watching television. You eat a bag of candy by yourself. Later your father returns. Mom complains about the unfinished garage project. Dad replies angrily and walks past you to the kitchen. You watch television all evening, then crawl into bed and fall asleep listening to your parents argue.

One home is safe and nurturing; the other lonely and contentious. Too often, children grow up in homes like the latter—or worse. So ask yourself: Which scenario best describes your family? Further, how would you describe the mood of your household? Divided or united? Amiable or argumentative? Supportive or sarcastic? Every day, the story of your home is etching itself into the spirit and memory of your children.

Just between us…

  • How does the way we were brought up affect the mood in our household today?
  • How do you think our children would describe our home?
  • How can we make sure our home is a positive environment?

Loving Lord, we know that our relationship sets the tone for our children’s growing-up experience. Help us make our marriage the starting point of a good home and of a happy, Christ-honoring childhood for our kids. Amen.

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