Charles Stanley – Strength Beyond Self

 

2 Corinthians 1:8-11

“Into every life a little rain must fall.” So goes the familiar saying about the inevitability of hardship. But what if the rain turns into a torrential downpour—a life challenge that requires strength beyond what is humanly possible? Paul describes such a situation in his second letter to the Corinthians. He wrote of an affliction that weighed so heavily on his heart and body that he didn’t expect to survive.

The apostle’s approach to his problem still works today: “We would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead . . . and will deliver us” (2 Corinthians 1:9-10). The strength that we need during trials is available through Jesus Christ, whose supernatural energy flows through every believer’s mind, body, and spirit.

How does this happen? When someone receives Jesus as Savior, His Spirit comes to live inside the new believer (John 14:17). As a result of this indwelling, the power that Christ demonstrated while on earth prevails in those who now call upon Him for aid. However, for us to access His supernatural strength, we must trust His promise to supply what we need when we need it (Philippians 4:19). As long as we attempt to muddle through using our own abilities, we will prevent His Spirit from unleashing divine help.

Jesus Christ’s power is released into our life when we acknowledge our helplessness. The effect is immediate. As soon as we surrender to the Lord, His might is working within us so we can endure hardship while maintaining our joy and peace.

Our Daily Bread — Calming The Storm

 

Read: Mark 4:35-41

Bible in a Year: 1 Chronicles 28-29; John 9:24-41

He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. —Mark 4:39

While Hurricane Katrina headed toward the coast of Mississippi, a retired pastor and his wife left their home and went to a shelter. Their daughter pleaded with them to go to Atlanta where she could take care of them, but the couple couldn’t get any money to make the trip because the banks were closed. After the storm had passed, they returned to their home to get a few belongings, and were able to salvage only a few family photos floating in the water. Then, when the man was taking his father’s photo out of its frame so it could dry, $366 fell out—precisely the amount needed for two plane tickets to Atlanta. They learned they could trust Jesus for what they needed.

For the disciples, trusting Jesus in a storm was the curriculum for the day in the dramatic narrative of Mark 4:35-41. Jesus had instructed His disciples to cross to the other side of the Sea of Galilee and then He went to sleep in the boat. When a quick and violent storm blew in, the disciples dripped as much with fear and anxiety as water from the waves. They woke Jesus, saying, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” (v.38 NIV). Jesus stood up and with three words, “Peace, be still!” He muzzled the storm.

We all experience storms—persecutions, financial troubles, illnesses, disappointments, loneliness—and Jesus does not always prevent them. But He has promised never to leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5). He will keep us calm in the storm. —Marvin Williams

Are you in a storm? What do you know about God’s character that could help bring calm to your heart?

In the storms of life, we can see the character of our God.

INSIGHT: Mark 4:35–5:43 records four miracles that answer the question asked in 4:41: “Who can this be . . . ?” They demonstrate Jesus’ absolute power over nature (4:35-41), the spiritual world (5:1-20), physical illnesses (5:21-34), and death (5:35-43). Each miracle shows Jesus as the Omnipotent Sovereign God. In Jewish minds the power to control the sea and the waves was exclusive to God (Job 38:8-11; Ps. 65:5-7; Isa. 51:10; Nah. 1:3-5). It’s interesting, however, that in today’s passage Mark provides an amazing contrast. Just before Jesus displayed the awesome powers of His deity by calming the sea, we are given a touching picture of His frail humanity: Jesus was so tired that even the violent tossing of the waves did not wake Him (4:38).

Ravi Zacharias Ministry –  Healing for Body and Soul

 

Why Won’t God Heal Amputees? is a popular website and one-time viral YouTube video. The basic premise of the content is that God doesn’t answer prayer, since God has never healed an amputee. God doesn’t heal every person of every infirmity; God, therefore, does not really exist, or so the argument goes.

While there are obvious false assumptions made about God, prayer, and healing in this reasoning (how does one know that in the whole world God has not healed an amputee, for starters), many who do pray for healing often fail to experience it in the way they want or expect. Healing rarely parallels a conventional or traditional sense of that word. Loved ones die of cancer, friends are killed in car accidents, economic catastrophe befalls even the most frugal, and people in much of the developing world die from diseases curable in the West.

Beyond the realm of physical healing, many experience emotional and psychological trauma that leave open and festering wounds. Or, there are those perpetual personality ticks and quirks that seem beyond the reach of the supernatural. Given all of this contrary experience, what does it mean to receive healing, and should one hold out hope that healing can come in this world? Specifically, for those who pray, and for those who believe that God does heal, how might the persistence of wounds—psychological, emotional and physical—be understood?

In a recent New York Times article, Marcia Mount Shoop writes of her horrific rape as a fifteen year-old girl.(1) A descendant of three generations of ministers, she ran to the safest place she knew—the church. Yet as she stood amid the congregants singing hymns and reciting creeds, she felt no relief. Even her favorite verse from Romans—”And we know that in all things God works for good with those who love him”—sounded hollow and brought little comfort. How could she ever be healed of this horrific act of violence perpetrated against her will?

Once at home, alone with the secret of her rape, Marcia Shoop found something that enabled her to survive. “I felt Jesus so close,” she recalled in an interview. “It wasn’t the same Jesus I experienced at church. It was this tiny, audible whisper that said, ‘I know what happened. I understand.’ And it kept me alive, that frayed little thread.”(2)

The hope that Jesus was physically close to her in her pain led Shoop to become a minister herself more than a quarter century after her horrific rape. It also led her to more deeply connect her body with her soul and mind. This reconnection of the body with soul and with mind is where she experienced what she now calls healing from that painful wound. God was with her in the living, breathing, physical reality of Jesus who likewise continued to bear the wounds of his own crucifixion and torture after having been raised from the dead.

The Gospel of John records the risen Jesus as inviting Thomas to “reach your finger and see my hands; and reach your hand, and put it into my side.”(3) Jesus was not a disembodied spirit without flesh and blood as a result of his resurrection from the dead. He was a body, and a body that was wounded. Even the resurrection did not take away his bodily scars! This reality can bring great hope to those who follow Jesus and to those who wonder about how they might find healing at all. Even for Jesus, healing did not equate a lack of wounding, physical perfection, or being untouched by the sorrow and suffering of a world gone horribly wrong.

For Martha Mount Shoop, healing didn’t mean the total erasure of the pain and horror of her rape, as difficult as it was to bear that wound. But it meant that she encountered the wounded God in the person of Jesus who continued to bear the scars and wounds of his crucifixion. As she recalled, “What happened to me wasn’t ‘for the good,’” referring again to her favorite passage in Romans. “But God took the garbage, the stench [of that horrible event] and gently, tenderly, indignantly wove it into this moment of redemption. What a gift.”(4)

Healing is not a gift that comes instantly, nor does it always look like what we expect. It is often a slow, painful journey through the void and desolation of suffering. It will not erase our wounds. Yet, the promise of resurrection, of new life that comes even with wounded hands and sides, offers another picture of healing where our humanity is honored and redeemed.

Margaret Manning Shull is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Bellingham, Washington.

(1) Samuel G. Freedman, “A Rape Survivor Now Ministers Body and Soul,” The New York Times, June 29, 2012.

(2) Ibid.

(3) John 20:27.

(4) Samuel G. Freedman, “A Rape Survivor Now Ministers Body and Soul,” The New York Times, June 29, 2012.

Alistair Begg – Do You Care Too Much?

 

Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you. Psalm 55:22

Care, even when addressed to legitimate matters, if it is carried to excess, has in it the nature of sin. Again and again Jesus exhorted His followers to avoid anxious care. The apostles reiterated the call; and it is one that cannot be neglected without involving transgression: For the very essence of anxious care is imagining that we are wiser than God and putting ourselves in His place as if we could do for Him what He has undertaken to do for us. We attempt to think of things that we imagine Him forgetting; we work to take upon ourselves a heavy burden, as if He were unable or unwilling to take it for us.

Now this disobedience to His plain precept, this unbelief in His Word, this presumption that intrudes upon His province, is all sinful. But more than this, anxious care often leads to acts of sin. If we cannot calmly leave our affairs in God’s hand but attempt to carry our own burden, we will be tempted to use wrong means to help ourselves. This sin leads to a forsaking of God as our counselor and resorting instead to human wisdom. This is going to the broken well instead of to the fountain, a sin of which Israel was guilty in the past.

Anxiety makes us doubt God’s loving-kindness, and so our love to Him grows cold; we feel mistrust, and in this we grieve the Spirit of God, so that our prayers are hindered, our consistent example spoiled, and our life one of self-seeking. Such lack of confidence in God leads us to wander far from Him; but if through simple faith in His promise we cast each burden as it comes upon Him and are “not . . . anxious about anything”1 because He undertakes to care for us, it will keep us close to Him and strengthen us against temptation. “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”2

1) Philippians 4:6    2) Isaiah 26:1

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

Charles Spurgeon – The two effects of the gospel

 

“For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish; To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?” 2 Corinthians 2:15,16

Suggested Further Reading: Acts 13:42-52

The Gospel produces different effects. It must seem a strange thing, but it is strangely true, that there is scarcely ever a good thing in the world of which some little evil is not the consequence. Let the sun shine in brilliance—it shall moisten the wax, it shall harden clay; let it pour down floods of light on the tropics—it will cause vegetation to be extremely luxuriant, the richest and choicest fruits shall ripen, and the fairest of all flowers shall bloom, but who does not know, that there the worst of reptiles and the most venomous snakes are also brought forth? So it is with the gospel. Although it is the very sun of righteousness to the world, although it is God’s best gift, although nothing can be in the least comparable to the vast amount of benefit which it bestows upon the human race, yet even of that we must confess, that sometimes it is the “savour of death unto death.” But we are not to blame the gospel for this; it is not the fault of God’s truth; it is the fault of those who do not receive it. It is the “ savour of life unto life” to every one that listens to its sound with a heart that is open to its reception. It is only “death unto death” to the man who hates the truth, despises it, scoffs at it, and tries to oppose its progress.

For meditation: There is hope for one in whom the law of God produces a sense of death (Romans 7:10); it is a fearful thing when the life-giving Gospel is rejected and hardens the dead sinner.

Sermon no. 26
26 May (Preached 27 May 1855)

John MacArthur – Receiving Christ’s Word (Thaddaeus)

 

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

If you love Christ, you will receive His Word and obey it.

Radio signals are fascinating. At any given moment every room in your house is filled with voices, music, and numerous other sounds—yet you can’t hear them unless your radio is tuned to their frequency. That’s a modern parallel to a spiritual truth Jesus taught in John 14:21, where He says, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him.” In effect Jesus was saying, “I reveal Myself to those who love Me—those whose spiritual receivers are tuned to My frequency. They receive My Word and obey it.”

In the biblical record Thaddaeus is a man of few words. His question in John 14:22 is the only thing he ever said that is recorded in Scripture. It was prompted by his perplexity over Jesus’ statement in verse 21 to disclose Himself only to those who love Him. Thaddaeus asked, “Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us, and not to the world?”

Thaddaeus didn’t understand Christ’s statement because it wasn’t consistent with his concept of the Messiah. Like the other disciples, he expected Jesus imminently to vanquish Roman oppression, free God’s people, and establish an earthly kingdom wherein He would sit on the throne of David, reigning as Lord and Savior. How could He do that without revealing who He was to everyone?

In verse 23 Jesus responds by reiterating that only those who love Him will be able to perceive Him, and they are the ones within whom He and the Father would dwell.

That brief conversation between the Lord and Thaddaeus addresses the very heart of Christianity. It isn’t those who say they love God who are true believers, but those who receive Christ and obey His Word. As Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word” (v. 23).

Does obedience to the Word characterize your life? I pray it does. Remember, your obedience to Christ is the measure of your love for Him.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for His Word, by which the Spirit instructs and empowers you to live an obedient life.

For Further Study

Read John 8:31-47.

  • To whom was Jesus speaking?
  • Why were they seeking to kill Him?
  • How did Jesus characterize the devil?

Joyce Meyer – A Time to Remember

 

Having eyes, do you not see [with them], and having ears, do you not hear and perceive and understand the sense of what is said? And do you not remember? Mark 8:18

I have often said I think we forget what we should remember and remember what we should forget. Jesus chastised the disciples on one of their journeys because they had forgotten about a miracle He had done. They had started out on a trip and suddenly remembered that they had forgotten to bring enough bread. They had only one loaf, and that would not be nearly enough.

In a short while Jesus began to teach the disciples to beware of, and on their guard concerning, the leaven of the Pharisees and Herod. Jesus of course was talking about being on their guard against deception, but the disciples reasoned among themselves that He was talking about the fact that they had forgotten to bring bread, as if that would have concerned Jesus at all. He then began to chastise them, asking if they had forgotten when He fed five thousand people with five loaves of bread. Had they forgotten another amazing miracle when He fed four thousand with seven loaves? Had they remembered, they would not be worried about going hungry because of not having brought enough bread with them.

If we would remember the miracles God has done in our past, we would not so easily fall into worry and fear when we face new challenges. When David was facing Goliath and nobody was encouraging him, he remembered the lion and the bear that he had already slain with God’s help. Because of remembering the past, he had no fear of the current situation.

Trust in Him Take time to remember a specific instance in which God provided for you. Celebrate it. This will increase your ability to trust Him.

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Wisdom Brings Peace

 

“Wisdom gives a good, long life, riches, honor, pleasure, peace” (Proverbs 3:16,17).

High up in the Andes Mountains stands a bronze statue of Christ – the base of granite, the figure fashioned from old cannons – marking the boundary between Argentina and Chile.

“Sooner shall these mountains crumble into dust,” reads the Spanish engraving, “than Argentines and Chileans break the peace sworn at the feet of Christ the Redeemer.”

Peoples of these two countries had been quarreling about their boundaries for many years, and suffering from the resultant mistrust.

In 1900, with the conflict at its highest, citizens begged King Edward VII of Great Britain to mediate the dispute. On May 28, 1903, the two governments signed a treaty ending the conflict.

During the celebration that followed, Senora de Costa, a noble lady of Argentina who had done much to bring about the peace, conceived the idea of a monument. She had the statue of Christ shaped from the cannons that had been used to strike terror into Chilean hearts.

At the dedication ceremony, the statue was presented to the world as a sign of the victory of good will. “Protect, Oh Lord, our native land,” prayed Senora de Costa. “Ever give us faith and hope. May fruitful peace be our first patrimony and good example its greatest glory.”

The monument stands today as a reminder that only Christ – the Prince of Peace – can bring real peace to the world. And that refers as much to individual peace as it does to national and international peace.

Bible Reading: Proverbs 3:18-23

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Like Solomon of old, I shall seek the wisdom that brings a good, long life, riches, honor, pleasure and the lasting peace that comes from God’s indwelling Holy Spirit.

 

Presidential Prayer Team; H.L.M. – Priceless Donation

 

When Shance “Rudge” Rudgley went for a routine wellness check, he walked out with a diagnosis of end-stage kidney failure. Rudge started daily three- to four-hour treatments and then home dialysis for about 10 hours each night. His wife Tiffanie did not have a matching blood type, and they were told it would take six to eight years to get a donor and that his chances were about one in 100,000. There were already over one thousand people on the waiting list. Tiffanie and Rudge prayed diligently.

So it was not you who sent me here, but God.

Genesis 45:8

One day a woman named Cheree came to Tiffanie’s Bible study. When it was time for prayer requests, Cheree said, “Please pray I find a recipient; I want to donate my kidney.” Tiffanie sat amazed. Soon they learned that Cheree was a perfect match and Rudge received her kidney one month later. “Our God is faithful,” Rudge said. “He is always on time. He’s there when you need Him the most. If someone told me this story I wouldn’t believe it, but I lived it.”

As you thank God for His faithfulness, pray that Christians across America would share His love and truth with others every day!

Recommended Reading: Psalm 71:17-24

Greg Laurie – From Friction to Conversion

 

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” —Matthew 10:34

Some believers might be reluctant to tell their friends about Christ because they are afraid it will cause friction in, or even terminate, the relationship. But it just may be that very tension, that very friction, which produces conversion in the life of that individual. If you are always trying to be cool and get along with everyone, and if you never stand your ground or speak up for your faith, then you will reach no one.

Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household’ ” (Matthew 10:34–36).

“Wait,” some might say. “That is in the Bible? I thought Jesus was loving.”

Yes, He is. He loves us so much that He will confront us in our sin. Sometimes when one member of a family becomes a Christian, friction develops. There are problems. That person has changed the whole dynamic of the family. It was always about drinking and the dirty jokes. Then all of a sudden, there you are, not laughing at the jokes. There you are, Mr. I-Want-to-Pray-before-the-Meal. There are some family members who think it isn’t a good thing that you became a Christian because it has created friction. What a party pooper, man. Oh brother!

But that friction is a result of the conviction of sin. A light just came into a dark place. Now, that little bit of friction can create conversation. And that conversation in the lives of some brings conversion.

Sometimes before there can be ultimate unity, there has to be a temporary division.

 

Max Lucado – Loneliness

We’ll try anything to get rid of our loneliness. But should we? Should we be so quick to drop it? Could it be that loneliness is a gift? A gift from God? A friend turns away. The job goes bad. Your spouse didn’t understand. The church is dull. One by one he removes the options until all you have left is God. He would do that?  Hebrews 12:6 tells us, “The Lord disciplines those he loves.” If he must silence every voice, he will. He wants you to discover what David discovered and to be able to say what David said, “You are with me.”

Loneliness. Could it be one of God’s finest gifts? Scripture says, “Perfect love casts out fear.” If a season of solitude is his way to teach you to hear his song, don’t you think it’s worth it? So do I.

From Traveling Light

Night Light for Couples – The Bottom Line

 

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6

The contradictory advice given in popular culture about what children need is enough to drive a conscientious parent to distraction. In days past, moms and dads learned child‐rearing from their parents, who learned from theirs. Rightly or wrongly, they had a sense of confidence about what they were doing. That’s because the traditional approach to parenting boils down to some very basic ideas.

Here are just a few:

—When your children ask, “Who’s in charge?” tell them.

—When they mutter, “Who loves me?” take them in your arms and surround them with affection.

—When they defiantly challenge you, win decisively. Talk to them. Set up clear boundaries and then enforce the rules firmly and fairly.

—Expose your children to interesting things. Help them use their time wisely.

—Raise them in a stable family with two parents who love each other and enjoy a strong marriage.

—Teach them to love the Lord and understand His Word.

—Treat them with respect and dignity and expect the same in return.

—Set aside time to build friendship and love between generations. Then enjoy the sweet benefits of competent parenthood and a wonderful family!

Just between us…

  • How are we doing on this list of parenting basics?
  • Where do we see progress?
  • Which ones need special attention?

Father, thank You for the timeless wisdom that we can follow to help us raise our children right. May we parent wisely and lovingly, trusting in Your blessing. Amen.

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