Charles Stanley – The Power of the Holy Spirit

 

Romans 8:11-14

Yesterday’s reading offered scriptural proof that the Holy Spirit is a person. Yet there’s a persistent misconception that casts Him as some kind of intangible force. The underlying assumption is that “the power of the Holy Spirit” is something Christians wield for themselves. But in fact, the phrase refers to His work in the believer’s life.

Jesus was clear that serving God is not a one-man or one-woman show. It takes two—a believer and the Holy Spirit—to live the Christian life victoriously (Luke 24:49). The Spirit takes up residence in a person the moment that individual receives Christ’s forgiveness for sins. From then on, His job is to equip the believer so he or she can consistently model Jesus to the world.

When the apostle Paul said, “I can do all things through [Christ] who strengthens me,” he was talking about the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence (Philippians 4:13). What this means is that within the believer is an indescribably rich power source. The Spirit works through people to get done what is impossible for them to accomplish alone. In fact, the Bible says that He can do “far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). And Paul certainly proved that with his prolific ministry.

What is God calling you to do that’s “far more abundantly” beyond all you think you can achieve? Stop making excuses and get to work! Within you lies untapped potential—not your own strength and abilities, but the unlimited might of the Holy Spirit. His power will be unleashed in response to your acting on faith.

Our Daily Bread — Mysterious Ways

 

Read: Job 40:1-14

Bible in a Year: 2 Chronicles 7-9; John 11:1-29

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways. —Isaiah 55:9

When my son began attending Chinese language classes, I marveled at the papers he brought home after his first session. As a native English speaker, it was difficult for me to understand how the written characters related to the spoken words. The language seemed incredibly complex to me—almost incomprehensible.

Sometimes I feel the same sense of bewilderment when I consider the way God operates. I know He has said, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways” (Isa. 55:8). Still, there’s a part of me that feels like I should be able to understand why God allows certain things to happen. After all, I read His Word regularly and His Holy Spirit lives inside of me.

When I feel entitled to understand God’s ways, I try to recommit myself to humility. I remember that Job did not get an explanation for all his heartache (Job 1:5,8). He struggled to understand, but God asked him: “Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?” (40:2). Job contritely responded, “What shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth” (v.4). Job was speechless before God’s greatness.

Although God’s ways may seem to be mysterious and unfathomable at times, we can rest confidently that they are higher than our ways. —Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Father, please help me to trust You even when I don’t understand why things happen as they do. Please comfort my heart and remind me of Your goodness and love.

If you know that God’s hand is in everything, you can leave everything in God’s hand.

INSIGHT: In trying to explain why he was suffering, Job argued that he had not committed any wrong deserving of such punishment. In so justifying himself, Job was in essence questioning God’s fairness and justice (40:8; see also Job 21,24). God confronted Job, asserting that only He is qualified and has the absolute power, wisdom, and ability to rule this world justly (40:15-24).

Ravi Zacharias Ministry –  One Real Thing

 

A story is told about a man who made an impression on his dinner guests in such a way that the memory stayed with them for decades. The man was known to many as one of the foremost Christian ministers of the twentieth century. His dinner guests, who were of a different persuasion, did not recall striking attempts to convert them or winsome arguments for the Christian faith. They remembered this: “He carved the meat with such dignity.”(1)

Much could be said of this observation. Much could be said of the kind of theology that shapes dinner parties, consumption, even the way one carves meat. And this is particularly true, I believe, in a world where the disconnect between farm and freezer is often so great that the origins, let alone the dignity, of our food is entirely unknown. A former professor tells a story about serving a roasted chicken for Sunday dinner as a special treat. His young son, far more accustomed to seeing chicken in less-identifiable “nuggets” or packaging, stared with fixation at the chicken on the table, slowly coming to recognize its form—body, wing, legs—when suddenly he yelped a cry of utter disgust. “It’s a bird!” He screamed. “Gross!”

My own disconnect with food and faith is not always so far off. In one of the more memorable scenes of the classic work Supper of the Lamb, priest and gastronome Robert Farrar Capon, noting such a disconnect, instructs the reader to take a moment to connect with an onion. Seated before your onion (resisting the temptation to feel silly), you will note to begin with, he writes, “that the onion is a thing, a being, just as you are… Together with knife, board, table, and chair, you are the constituents of a place in the highest sense of the word. This is a Session, a meeting, a society of things.”(2) Step by step Capon then leads the reader through the process of examining this confrontation, examining self and onion as fellow living things. At one point, reducing a piece of the onion to cell and skin by simply pressing the water out of it, he reflects on this “aqueous house of cards” with storied depth. “You have just now reduced it to its parts, shivered it into echoes, and pressed it to a memory, but you have also caught the hint that a thing is more than the sum of all the insubstantialities that comprise it. Hopefully, you will never again argue that the solidities of the world are mere matters of accident, creatures of air and darkness, temporary and meaningless shapes out of nothing.”(3)

There is indeed something dignified about this world of living things, about all the solidities around us, about eating and dining and breaking bread with others who share our mean estate. For the Christian, all of this dignity is understood as rising from the graciousness of God as creator and provider, and thus accordingly, the goodness of every living thing and creature God has made. This, I would argue, is the very worldview that was reflected in the way the thankful theologian served dinner all those years ago. In fact, fifteen years after dining with his guests, the man had occasion to hear about the mark he had made. His response to his impression of dignified meat carving was not one of surprise, but doxology. “Well, the animal gave its life for me!”

Like the remembrance of Christ in the breaking of bread, his carving was noteworthy to his guests not because it was a covert attempt at Christian symbolism, a religious act meant to persuade in abstraction. It was noteworthy because it was as real as the meal before them. And this is precisely the sort of kingdom into which Jesus invites the world: a kingdom of solidities, a kingdom of dignity and sacrifice, a kingdom ready to house God’s creatures even now. As Capon concludes of thing and creature, “One real thing is closer to God than all the diagrams in the world.” Thus, the dignity of God can indeed be found in meat-carving. The love of the Trinity in a gathering of friends. A taste of the creator in broken bread. The kingdom of God is not in words, Jesus said, but in power. In this world of living and dying things, his table and the invitation to join him is a real meal, an impressive offering.

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

(1) Story told by Mark Greene of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.

(2) Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection (New York: Macmillan, 1989), 11.

(3) Ibid., 17.

Alistair Begg – Hate Sin

 

You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Psalm 45:7

“Be angry and do not sin.”1 There can hardly be goodness in a man if he is not angered by sin; he who loves truth must hate every false way. How our Lord Jesus hated it when the temptation came! Three times it assailed Him in different forms, but He responded with, “Be gone, Satan.” He hated it in others, no less fervently by showing His hatred often more in tears of pity than in words of rebuke; yet what language could be more stern, more Elijah-like, than such words as, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers.”

He hated wickedness so much that He bled to wound it to the heart; He died that it might die; He was buried that He might bury it in His tomb; and He rose that He might forever trample it beneath His feet. Christ is in the Gospel, and that Gospel is opposed to wickedness in every shape. Wickedness arrays itself in fine clothes and imitates the language of holiness; but the precepts of Jesus, like His famous scourge of small cords, chase it out of the temple and will not tolerate it in the church.

So, too, in the heart where Jesus reigns, what a war is waged between Christ and Satan! And when our Redeemer shall come to be our Judge, those thundering words, “Depart from me, you cursed” that are, indeed, but a prolongation of His life-teaching concerning sin shall manifest His abhorrence of iniquity. As warm as His love is to sinners, so hot is His hatred of sin; as perfect as is His righteousness, so complete shall be the destruction of every form of wickedness. Glorious champion of right, and destroyer of wrong, for this cause God has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your fellows.

1) Ephesians 4:26

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

Charles Spurgeon – Justice satisfied

 

“Just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Suggested Further Reading: Genesis 50:15-21

I have heard of Mr John Wesley, that he was attended in most of his journeyings by one who loved him very much, and was willing, I believe, to have died for him. Still he was a man of a very stubborn and obstinate disposition, and Mr Wesley was not perhaps the very kindest man at all times. Upon one occasion he said to this man, “Joseph, take these letters to the post.” “I will take them after preaching, sir.” “Take them now, Joseph,” said Mr Wesley. “I wish to hear you preach, sir; and there will be sufficient time for the post after service.” “I insist upon your going now, Joseph.” “I will not go at present.” “You won’t?” “No, sir.” “Then you and I must part,” said Mr Wesley. “Very good, sir.” The good men slept over it. Both were early risers. At four o’clock the next morning, the refractory helper was accosted with, “Joseph, have you considered what I said—that we must part?” “Yes, sir.” “And must we part?” “Please yourself, sir.” “Will you ask my pardon, Joseph?” “No, sir.” “You won’t?” “No, sir.” “Then I will ask yours, Joseph!” Poor Joseph was instantly melted, and they were at once reconciled. When once the grace of God has entered the heart, a man ought to be ready to seek forgiveness for an injury done to another. There is nothing wrong in a man confessing an offence against a fellow-man, and asking pardon for the wrong he has done him. If you have done aught, then, against any man, leave thy gift before the altar, and go and make peace with him, and then come and make peace with God. You are to make confession of your sin to God. Let that be humble and sincere. You cannot mention every offence, but do not hide one.

For meditation: If we cannot bring ourselves to apologise to and to forgive those we have seen, we must know little about true confession to and the forgiveness of God whom we have not seen (Matthew 6:14,15; 1 John 4:20).

Sermon no. 255
29 May (1859)

John MacArthur – The Characteristics of Hypocrisy (Judas Iscariot)

 

The twelve apostles included “Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him” (Matt. 10:4).

Hypocrisy is a spiritual cancer that can devastate lives and destroy ministries.

On a recent trip to New Zealand I learned that sheepherders there use specially trained castrated male sheep to lead other sheep from holding areas into the slaughtering room. Those male sheep are appropriately called “Judas sheep.” That illustrates the commonness with which we associate Judas with deception and death. Pretending to be a friend of Jesus, Judas betrayed him with a kiss and became for all time and eternity the epitome of hypocrisy.

Several characteristics of spiritual hypocrisy are clearly evident in Judas’s life. First, hypocritical people often seem genuinely interested in a noble cause. Judas probably didn’t want the Romans to rule over Israel and he saw in Christ an opportunity to do something about it. He probably had the common misconception that Jesus was immediately going to establish His earthly kingdom and put down Roman oppression.

Second, hypocritical people demonstrate an outward allegiance to Christ. Many of those who followed Jesus in the early stages of His ministry deserted Him along the way (John 6:66). Not Judas. He stayed to the end.

Third, hypocritical people can appear to be holy. When Jesus told the disciples that one of them would betray Him, none of them suspected Judas. Even after Jesus identified Judas as His betrayer, the other disciples still didn’t understand (John 13:27-29). Judas must have put on a very convincing act!

Fourth, hypocritical people are self-centered. Judas didn’t love Christ—He loved himself and joined the disciples because he thought he could gain personal prosperity.

Finally, hypocritical people are deceivers. Judas was a pawn of Satan, whom Jesus described as a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). Is it any wonder that his whole life was one deception after another?

Judas was an unbeliever, but hypocrisy can also thrive in believers if its telltale signs are ignored. That’s why you must guard your motives carefully, walk in the Spirit each day, and immediately confess even the slightest hint of hypocrisy.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to purify your love for Him and to protect you from the subtle inroads of hypocrisy.

For Further Study

Read John 12:1-8.

  • How did Mary demonstrate her love for Christ?
  • What objection did Judas raise?
  • What was his motive?

Joyce Meyer – Don’t Quit!

 

And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint. Galatians 6:9

“I’ve been a Christian for twenty-three years,” Cheryl said. I’m just not getting anywhere. I’m as weak as I was when I first accepted Christ as my Savior. I still fail. I just don’t know if it’s worth it.” Tears streamed down her cheeks as she continued to talk about her failures. “By now I know all the right things to do, but I don’t do them. Sometimes I deliberately do something mean-spirited or unkind. What kind of Christian am I?”

“Probably a growing Christian,” I said. A startled look appeared on Cheryl’s face. “Growing? Did you hear?

“Yes, I heard. But if you weren’t growing, you wouldn’t lament your failures. You’d be satisfied about your spiritual level or tell yourself how good you are.”

“But I’m so discouraged, and I fail God so many times.”

I went on to tell Cheryl she was correct that she had failed. All of us do at times. None of us is perfect. If we’re not careful, we allow the devil to point to what we haven’t accomplished and where we have been weak. When that happens, it’s easy to feel bad or want to give up.

That’s not the way of the Spirit. No matter how we mess up our lives, God doesn’t give up on us. The Spirit constantly nudges us.

We can allow our thoughts to dwell on what we haven’t done, why we ought to be more spiritual, or how spiritual we ought to be after all these years in our Christian faith. That’s a trick of the devil to make us think of our defects and shortcomings. If we focus on what we’re not or what we haven’t accomplished, we are allowing the devil to make advances on the battlefield of our minds.

The fact that my troubled friend was upset was a healthy sign, even though she didn’t see it that way. With the Holy Spirit’s help, she can push back the devil She can regain the territory Satan has stolen from her.

Cheryl seemed to think that holy, victorious living came slowly. They come little by little. It’s as if we inch forward. Because we move slowly in our spiritual growth, we are often unaware of how far we have moved. If the devil can make us think that we must have one decisive spiritual victory after another or we’re losers, he has gained an important stronghold. My advice to Cheryl, and to all Christians who face those dark moments, is to listen to the words of the apostle Paul.

He exhorted us not to grow weary; or as another translation says it, “not to lose heart.” He’s saying, “Don’t quit. Keep fighting.”

Life is a struggle, and the devil is determined to defeat and destroy us. We don’t ever reach the place where we never have to fight. But it’s not just our fight. Jesus is not only with us, but He is for us. He’s at our side to strengthen us and to urge us onward.

My friend kept remembering the times she had failed, but I reminded her of the times she had succeeded. “You think the devil is in control, but that’s not true. You have failed, but you have also succeeded. You have stood your ground and you have made progress.”

“Don’t quit. Don’t give up.” That’s the message we need to hear. I think of the words of Isaiah: Fear not, for I have redeemed you … ; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned or scorched, nor will the flame kindle upon you (Isaiah 43:1-2).

This is God’s promise. He doesn’t promise to take us completely out of troubles or hardships, but He does promise to be with us as we go through them. “Fear not,”‘ He says. That’s the message we need to ponder. We don’t need to fear because God is with us. And when God is with us, what is there to worry about?

God, despite my failures, You are with me, encouraging me not to give up. Please help me to remember that, with Your help, I can win. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Our Treasuries Filled

 

“My paths are those of justice and right. Those who love and follow Me are indeed wealthy. I fill their treasuries” (Proverbs 8:20,21).

“How does it feel to be a millionaire?” someone once asked the maker of Pullman cars, George M. Pullman.

“I have never thought of that before,” replied Pullman, “but now that you mention it, I believe I am no better off – certainly not happier, than when I did not have a dollar to my name and had to work from daylight to dark.

“I wore a good suit of clothes then, and I only wear one suit at a time now. I relished three meals a day then a good deal more than I do three meals a day now. I had fewer cares, I slept better and may add that I believe I was generally far happier in those days than I have been many times since I became a millionaire.”

As Pullman learned, true wealth is not found in earthly riches. The heart can never be fully satisfied with anything of the world; beside, the world passes away. True wealth is found in the knowledge of Christ and of His great salvation, and in the possession of the abiding riches which He bestows on all who believe in Him.

True wealth has to do with spiritual health – inner peace, clear conscience and sins forgiven. That man, woman or young person with abiding faith in Christ, who is yielded to the control of God’s indwelling Holy Spirit, has true wealth – the supernatural life.

Bible Reading: Proverbs 8:22-31

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I’ll begin to look more to the “Bank of Heaven” for my true wealth.

 

Presidential Prayer Team; P.G. – Standing on the Promises

 

Russell Carter was a star athlete and scholar at the military academy. After several years as a teacher, coach, musician, songwriter and pastor, he went to medical school. But at age 30, his health became critical. Nothing could be done. Carter called upon God for help and healing. He mined the Bible for promises of God, claiming them and praying them back to the Lord. After several months, his heart was healed, and he lived another 49 healthy years. His song, “Standing on the Promises,” became an integral part of his life.

God will be with you and will bring you again to the land of your fathers.

Genesis 48:21

While dying, the patriarch Jacob blessed his family with the promise of return to the land of God’s covenant with Abraham. It took another 400 years, but the promise was kept. The Bible contains hundreds of promises. Count on them, because when you rely on the promises of God in uncertain times, you can face the future with confidence and an optimistic outlook.

Scripture says the promises of God find their “Yes” in Him (II Corinthians 1:20). Search His Word today and find the promise that meets your need. Pray for America’s leaders to find God’s tender heart and then stand upon the promises He has given.

Recommended Reading: John 14:1-14

Greg Laurie – Your Best for God’s Glory

 

The LORD was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. —Genesis 39:2

When it looked as though life was over for Joseph, in many ways it was just beginning. His brothers had sold him to slave traders, and as it turned out, those slave traders sold him to a very important person named Potiphar, who was the captain of the guard in Egypt. Potiphar was basically the head of the military police and part of the royal body guard. It was sort of like being the head of the Secret Service of that day. Also, as the chief of the executioners, Potiphar was responsible for the execution of all criminals. He was not a man to mess with.

Potiphar became the owner of Joseph and put him to work, and the Bible tells us that the Lord was with Joseph (see Genesis 39:2). God blessed Joseph because of his hard work, faithfulness, honesty, and integrity, and success followed him like a shadow.

It was almost as though Joseph had a Midas touch. He kept his priorities straight, and whatever Joseph did, he did so well that Potiphar eventually put him in charge of everything. Even Potiphar, who was clearly a nonbeliever, recognized that the Lord was with Joseph.

Joseph’s life serves as a reminder that Christians should be the hardest workers and do the best work. Colossians 3:23–24 tells us, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” Whatever you do, do it as though you were doing it for Christ Himself—not for the paycheck, not for the boss, and not even for the promotion.

Here is what I believe: if you will do your best work for God’s glory, He will bless you.

Max Lucado – Goodness and Mercy  

Our moods may shift, but God’s doesn’t. Our minds may change, but God’s doesn’t. Our devotion may falter, but God’s never does. Even if we are faithless, he is faithful, for he cannot betray himself. He is a sure God. And because he is, we can confidently say with Psalm 23:6, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”

What a huge statement. Look at the size of it! Goodness and mercy follow the child of God each and every day. Think of the days ahead. He will walk you through. He will take your hand. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me—not some, not most, but all the days of my life. Release your doubts. You are no candidate for insecurity. You can trust God. . .all the days of your life!

From Traveling Light