Charles Stanley – The Decisions That Lead to Contentment

 

Romans 8:28-39

Think about a circumstance in your life you’d change if you could. Are you frustrated? Worried? Angry? To experience the freedom of contentment in the midst of it—whether a hardship or unfulfilled desire—you must accept the situation as having been allowed by God, even if He didn’t cause it.

In these situations, I often pray, “Lord, I choose to accept this as though it’s coming from You. No matter what I see, I’m choosing to look to You.” Then I can rest in His omnipotence and the knowledge that I’m a child of the living God. Instead of feeling like a helpless, hopeless victim of my circumstance, I know I’m cared for and guided by my sovereign Father through whatever may come.

The second crucial decision is total submission. This doesn’t mean approaching God insincerely and saying, “Well, Lord, I just want to thank You for this! It’s all just so sweet, Jesus.” No, it’s not. Be honest and admit, “This is painful and I don’t like it. But I choose to submit to You because You are trustworthy and loving. I’m willing to persevere until You accomplish in me whatever You want. I choose to draw from Your strength for everything I need.” My friend, if you make this decision and follow through, your fears will lose their power.

Either you believe Romans 8:28 or you don’t. And if you do, you can entrust yourself to the Lord, knowing that He ?has your best interest at heart, will take care of you, and won’t ever leave your side. When you embrace these truths, you’ll have no reason to be anxious.

Bible in One Year: Psalms 103-106

Our Daily Bread — Our Daily Bread — Christ the Redeemer

 

Read: Job 19:23-29

Bible in a Year: Job 17-19; Acts 10:1-23

I know that my Redeemer lives. —Job 19:25

The famous statue Christ the Redeemer overlooks the city of Rio de Janeiro. The statue is a model of Christ with His arms extended so that His body forms the shape of a cross. Brazilian architect Heitor da Silva Costa designed the figure. He imagined that the city’s residents would see it as the first image to emerge from the darkness at dawn. At dusk, he hoped the city dwellers would view the setting sun as a halo behind the statue’s head.

There is value in keeping our eyes on our Redeemer each day, during the good times and the difficult times. As he suffered, Job said, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth” (Job 19:25).

The cry of Job’s heart points us to Jesus—our living Savior who will visit the earth again one day (1 Thess. 4:16-18). Keeping our eyes on Jesus means remembering that we have been rescued from our sin. Jesus “gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people” (Titus 2:14).

Anyone who has accepted Jesus as Savior has a reason to be glad today. No matter what we endure on earth, we can have hope today and look forward to enjoying eternity with Him. —Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Dear Jesus, You are my rescuer. Because You died and rose again, I am free from the consequences of my sin forever. Thank You for redeeming my life.

Through His cross and resurrection, Jesus rescues and redeems.

INSIGHT: Accused of secret sin that had caused his suffering, Job maintained his innocence. In verse 25 he speaks of a Redeemer who will one day vindicate him. The word used here for “Redeemer” frequently refers in the Old Testament to the kinsman-redeemer, the person who defended or avenged the cause of another, or who provided protection or legal aid for close relatives who could not do so for themselves (Deut. 19:6-12; Num. 35:19-27; Prov. 23:10-11; Jer. 50:34). Some see a correlation between the Old Testament kinsman-redeemer and the redemptive ministry of Jesus Christ.

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry –   The Intention of Asking

 

I had always wanted to visit India. In the India of my imagination, a myriad of colors, smells, sounds, and people danced together. The air would always be saturated by an atmosphere of mystery. India would never be a place that could be categorized neatly or understood completely; comprehension would slip stealthily around a corner just as I thought I had gotten hold of it.

In reality, India was indeed a land of color, contrast, and mystery. Like a whirling dervish, India spins round and round in constant activity, rarely standing still. One cannot help but feel both overwhelmed and exhilarated by life there.

Despite all the complex, continual motion, one constant became apparent to me: Hospitality—gracious, open, generous and dignified—is a way of life. People are always around to serve, whether they are paid to do so or not. Someone is there to take your bags from the car, or someone is bringing you a cup of tea just the way you like it. Someone is enticing you to eat more, and someone is sweeping the city streets clean of leaves, dust, or debris with a broom made from a bundle of twigs. There are household servants, and those designated to serve as a result of their caste. Yet, regardless of why someone is serving, there is always someone to serve, someone who through class or training or culture inhabits an ethos of hospitable care. All one need do is ask and it will be done.

It was in India that I learned something about the nature of request. One morning, having spent a good portion of the previous night dealing with what I affectionately came to call my “spicy stomach,” I was languishing for plain, cold cereal and milk—my normal breakfast when at home. Having enjoyed too much fabulous Indian cuisine, I knew I simply couldn’t have any more or my stomach would rebel entirely. Not wanting to offend my hosts or their generous hospitality, I timidly expressed my desire for bland food. “Oh,” she exclaimed, “Why didn’t you ask?” “My husband and I normally eat eggs and toast or cereal for breakfast!” Instantly, the phrase you do not have because you do not ask came to mind.

In the biblical letter of James, you do not have because you do not ask is used in quite a different context.(1) The author issues a rebuke against the quarrels and conflicts that rage within human beings. We are jealous of others, we covet them, and so we get into conflicts with others because of our lust and our greed.

But I had been thinking for quite some time about the nature of request as it relates to prayer. I was wrestling with the nature of prayer as request in the face of so many no’s as answers. The result was that I simply stopped asking. I began to wonder if God was not hospitable to me any longer and would not honor my requests with answers that accorded my needs. Even in my personal relationships, I had stopped asking for fear of rejection or disappointment. I would sit on my hands, as it were, and stew with resentment and anger. And yet I became haunted by this phrase from James: You do not have because you do not ask.

What seemed a tangential connection between the service culture of India, and my own choice to withhold requests from God, actually revealed a powerful reality about the nature of request. Like household servants who are there at my beckon call, there are some things over which we have total control. If there are weeds in the garden, or if we have a broken faucet, we do not request that the weeds go away, we go out and pull the weeds, or fix the faucet.

There are many things, perhaps even most things, however, over which we exercise minimal, direct control. Instead, we have to make a request—a request that may or may not be granted. As one author notes, “The request, while powerful, does not always get us what we have in mind as we make it. This is true when it is addressed to other human beings and true when it is addressed to God as prayer….It is a great advantage of requesting and prayer that it not be a fail-safe mechanism. For human finitude means that we are all limited in knowledge, in power, in love, and in powers of communication.”(2)

Nevertheless, requests are made and they are powerful because in making them our deepest selves are revealed. We can truly hear what we are asking for. We come to stare at our desires face to face. In so doing, we have the opportunity to see the often complex motivations behind our requests. Furthermore, as we make requests we do so with the knowledge that we cannot always fulfill all that is asked of us, or by us. As we make requests of God and of others, we make them with a tenacious trust in the power of love that grants or withholds.

Prayer is never just asking, nor is it merely a matter of asking for what I want—even as we cling to the hope that the God of the universe cares for what concerns us. While there is no simple explanation to why some requests are granted and some are not, and while there is mystery surrounding the efficacy of request, there is always the power to ask. We may still not have even when we ask with what appears to be the purest intentions, but we always have the power of request. The way into the meaning of request is to start by making them, just as I learned in India. Perhaps as we do, “The circle of our interests will grow in the largeness of God’s love.”(3) Perhaps as we do, the admonition to ask, seek, and knock will not simply be a formula to get what we want, but an invitation to look into what we ask for, whom we seek, and upon which doors we are knocking.

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

(1) See James 4:1-3.

(2) Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God, (San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1998), 239.

(3) Ibid., 242.

Alistair Begg – Christ’s Generosity

 

The glory that you have given me I have given to them. John 17:22

Behold the superlative generosity of the Lord Jesus, for He has given us His all. Although a tithe of His possessions would have made a universe of angels, rich beyond all thought, yet He was not content until He had given us all that He had. It would have been surprising grace if He had allowed us to eat the crumbs of His abundance beneath the table of His mercy; but He will do nothing by half measures. He makes us sit with Him and share the feast.

If He had given us some small donation from His royal treasure, we would have had cause to love Him eternally; but in fact He wants His bride to be as rich as Himself, and He will not have a glory or a grace in which she will not share. He has not been content with less than making us joint-heirs with Himself, so that we might have equal possessions. He has emptied all His riches into the members of the church and has shared everything with His redeemed. There is not one room in His house the key of which He will keep from His people. He gives them complete freedom to take all that He has to enjoy as their own; He loves to see them enjoy His treasure and take as much as they can possibly carry.

The limitless fullness of His all-sufficiency is as free to the believer as the air he breathes. Christ has put the cup of His love and grace to the believer’s lip and invites him to drink of it forever; if he could empty it, he is welcome to do so, but as he cannot exhaust it, he is invited to drink abundantly, for it is all his own. What truer proof of fellowship can heaven or earth provide?

When I stand before the throne

Dressed in beauty not my own;

When I see Thee as Thou art,

Love Thee with unsinning heart;

Then, Lord, shall I fully know–

Not till then–how much I owe.

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

Charles Spurgeon – Men chosen—fallen angels rejected

 

“Verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.” Hebrews 2:16

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Peter 2:4-9

Adam broke the covenant of works; he touched the accursed fruit, and in that day he fell. Ah! What a fall was there! Then you, and I, and all of us fell down, while cursed sin triumphed over us; there were no men that stood; there were some angels that stood, but no men, for the fall of Adam was the fall of our entire race. After one portion of the angels had fallen, it pleased God to stamp their doom, and make it fast and firm; but when man fell, it did not so please God; he had threatened to punish him, but in his infinite mercy he made some the object of his special affection, for whom he provided a precious remedy, and secured it by the blood of his everlasting Son. These are the persons whom we call the elect; and those whom he has left to perish, perish on account of their own sins, most justly, to the praise of his glorious justice. Now, here you notice divine sovereignty; sovereignty, that God chose to put both men and angels on the footing of their free-will, sovereignty, in that he chose to punish all the fallen angels with utter destruction; sovereignty, in that he chose to reprieve, and grant an eternal pardon to a number, whom no man can number, selected out of men, who shall infallibly be found before his right hand above. My text mentions this great fact, for when properly translated it reads thus:- “He took not up angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham.”

For meditation: The Lord Jesus Christ witnessed Satan’s expulsion from Heaven, and as surely guarantees the believer’s entrance into Heaven (Luke 10:18,20).

Sermon no. 90
30 June (Preached 29 June 1856)

John MacArthur – Sacrificial Faith on Display

 

“In the same way was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works, when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? Just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (James 2:25-26).

True faith willingly makes whatever sacrifices God requires.

It’s understandable that James would use Abraham as an illustration of living faith—especially to his predominately Jewish readers. Rahab, however, is a different story. She was a Gentile, a prostitute, a liar, and lived in the pagan city of Jericho. How could such a person illustrate true faith?

Rahab knew very little about the true God but what she knew, she believed, and what she believed, she acted on. She believed that God had led His people out of Egypt and defeated the Amorite kings (Josh. 2:9-10). She openly confessed that the Lord “is God in heaven above and on earth beneath” (v. 11). Her faith was vindicated when she aided the Hebrew spies who entered Jericho just prior to Joshua’s invasion.

Both Abraham and Rahab valued their faith in God above all else. Both were willing to sacrifice what mattered most to them: for Abraham it was Isaac; for Rahab it was her own life. Their obedience in the face of such great sacrifice proved the genuineness of their faith.

James calls each of us to examine ourselves to be sure we have a living faith. The acid test is whether your faith produces obedience. No matter what you claim, if righteousness doesn’t characterize your life, your faith is dead, not living. James likened that kind of faith to hypocrites who offer pious words to the needy but refuse to meet their needs; to demons, who believe the truth about God but are eternally lost; and to a lifeless, useless corpse. Those are strong analogies, but God does not want you to be deceived about the quality of your own faith.

I pray that you are rejoicing in the confidence that your faith is genuine. God bless you as you live each day in His wonderful grace.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God for the grace and courage to face any sacrifice necessary as you live out your faith.

For Further Study

Read Joshua 2:1-24; 6:1-27; and Matthew 1:1-5.

  • How did Rahab protect the spies?
  • How did God bless Rahab?

Joyce Meyer – This Is a Test

 

And you shall [earnestly] remember all the way which the Lord your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and to prove you, to know what was in your [mind and] heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.Deuteronomy 8:2

The Bible says that God led the Israelites in the wilderness for forty years to humble them, to prove them, and to see if they would keep His commandments. Tests come in hard times, not good times, because not everything God asks us to do is going to be easy. That is why He tests us to see if we are ready and able before He promotes us to a higher level of responsibility. There are so many things that come our way every day that are just nothing more than a test.

For example, sometimes when we have to wait to be seated at a table in a restaurant and then get a bad meal, it’s a test. Sometimes when our boss tells us to do something we don’t want to do, it’s a test. James 1:2-4 says that tests bring out what is in us. It is in times of trial that we become best acquainted with ourselves and what we are capable of doing. Peter didn’t think he would ever deny Jesus, but when he was put to the test, that is exactly what he did. God is not impressed with what we say we will do; He is impressed with what we prove we will do under pressure.

We don’t get promoted in ministry because we have our Bible underlined in two colors but because we have been tested and tried, and we dug in and we passed the tests even though it was hard. James writes, Blessed (happy, to be envied) is the man who is patient under trial and stands up under temptation, for when he has stood the test and been approved, he will receive [the victor’s] crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:12)

 

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Anything Is Possible

 

“Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23, KJV).

“My doing all depends on thy believing” is what Jesus really said to the desperate father of the demoniac boy. And it is what He says to you and me today.

The Lord sought to bring forth faith in that struggling soul, and – through pain and travail – it came to birth. Realizing that the solution rested not upon God’s power but upon his own faith, the man became conscious of conflicting principles and delivered himself of a noble utterance:

“Lord, I believe, help Thou mine unbelief.”

Mystery of mysteries: even the very faith that we must exercise to bring down the power of God is a gift from God Himself. But some conditions are laid down before we receive that gift of faith.

“Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”

When I spend time in God’s Word – whether reading, studying, memorizing or meditating – that faith is being built up in me. Not faith in myself, not faith in a routine, but faith in the almighty ruler of heaven and earth.

That physical illness; that unsaved loved one; that financial need; that faltering relationship; that broken home – whatever the need might be – the solution is as close as the Word of God, for our dependence upon it, and upon the God of the Word, brings the faith that unlocks the solution to every need.

Bible Reading: Mark 9:24-29

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I shall believe God today for every need I face, at the same time building up my faith in Him by feasting on His Word.

Presidential Prayer Team; J.K. – A Wee Curious

 

“They say curiosity killed the cat.” That may be the only line from Audrey Heller’s poem that you know, but a couple more are worth noting: “If you’re looking for the proper answers, don’t veer off course. Just be certain it’s coming from the right source.”

He was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not.

Luke 19:3

It was curiosity that caused Zacchaeus – a wee man – to climb a tree just so he could see Jesus above the crowd. When the Lord looked up and invited Himself to Zacchaeus’ house, there was joy in the little man’s heart, for he experienced a newfound faith in Jesus, the Savior from his sins. Without hesitation, Zacchaeus promised to make restitution to all those he had wronged. A curious spirit combined with child-like faith resulted in a changed life.

Pride or success can keep you from enjoying the simple faith in Christ. Zacchaeus trusted Jesus, the right source, and became a true “son of Abraham.” (Galatians 3:7) Curiosity saved him from death and gave him a new beginning. There are many in this nation looking for answers. Pray that they are led to Jesus, the only source for their salvation.

Recommended Reading: Psalm 25:4-11, 20-21

 

Greg Laurie – Come Aside

 

And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.—Mark 6:31

The Sabbath is not a legalistic day that we as believers have to observe, but it is a great idea to take some time off and focus on the Lord. For many of us, that day is Sunday. I love to see Sunday set apart as the Lord’s Day, just like the early church did.

We should make our first priority to worship with God’s people. Maybe we will do some fun stuff afterward. But we shouldn’t let anything stop us from getting together and worshiping and putting the Lord first. I think God will honor that in our lives if we do.

Even Jesus took time off. In Mark we read,

Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught. And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves. (6:30–32)

I love that. “Lord, this happened. That happened.”

“Have you guys had lunch yet?”

“We are too busy to eat.”

“Come on. Let’s get some lunch. Relax a little bit. You need to chill. You need to recharge. Come aside with Me.”

If we don’t come aside, then we will come apart. During the next 24 hours, your heart will beat 103,000 times, and your blood will travel 168 million miles. You will breathe 23,000 times and inhale 480 cubic feet of air. You will move 750 muscles and exercise 7 million brain cells. No wonder we all feel tired. We’re constantly going.

The principle of the Sabbath is taking time off, recharging, and focusing on the things of God.

Max Lucado – Say Thank You

 

The Apostle Paul says, “Give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20).

You don’t have to name a child after God, but then again, you could. Or you could draft a letter listing all His blessings or write a song in His honor. You could sponsor an orphan or adopt a child just because God adopted you. The surest path out of a slump is marked by the road sign, “Thank you.”

But what of the disastrous days? Are you grateful then? Jesus was. “On the night when He was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it…” (1 Corinthians 11:23-24). Not often are the words betrayed and thanks in the same sentence, much less in the same heart. Anyone can thank God for the light. Jesus teaches us to thank God for the night!

From You’ll Get Through This

Night Light for Couples – Everyday Moments

 

“I was filled with delight day after day.” Proverbs 8:30

We all cherish the milestones and special events in the course of married life: the wedding and honeymoon, the birth of children, the twenty‐fifth and fiftieth wedding anniversaries, the kids’ high school and college graduations. These are occasions to celebrate with hugs, photographs, and congratulations all around. But don’t forget to savor the everyday moments that make up the rest of our days. Think about what it means to wake up in the morning next to someone you love and to begin the day with a kiss… to exchange knowing glances with your partner as you rake leaves in the yard or share a cup of coffee… to hold hands with your mate in church as you sing praises to our glorious God. When you review the mental scrapbook of images from your marriage, we hope it is filled with happy memories of the “big moments” you’ve shared together. But also be sure to include snapshots of those joyful, everyday events that make each day of marriage something special.

Just between us…

  • What everyday activities bring you joy?
  • Do you think we have lived from one big event to the next—or have we tried to make ordinary days special, too?
  • How can we help each other savor everyday moments?
  • Do our lives demonstrate to others that each moment is a gift from

God?

Father, we find Your love in the simple joys around us—a bird’s song or a smile from our mate, blue skies or the laughter of children. Thank You for health and for Your unfailing abundance. open our eyes to the wealth of each day, o Lord. May we never live like paupers when You have made us so rich. Amen.

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

Charles Stanley – Drawing from the Source

 

Jeremiah 2:13

For us who believe in Jesus, contentment should be governed by inner attitude and the decisions we make rather than by external circumstances. Because Paul had learned this secret, he was able to experience joy and peace in any kind of situation—whether he was surrounded by friends or isolated in a Roman prison; whether he had plenty or was in great need.

The apostle understood what it meant to live in Christ and to have Christ living in him (John 15:1-9; Gal. 5:22-23). He had made a simple but profound faith decision to draw his life from the Lord and, as a result, had the calm assurance that what he possessed inside could never be stolen. He was confident in his identity as a child of the Almighty, with full access to the abundant life Jesus offers.

I want to challenge you—this week, when something threatens to steal your contentment, choose to draw from God; decide to stop drawing from other sources and trying to be in control. When you find yourself becoming flustered, anxious, or angry, stop and say, “Lord, You are my source, and I draw from You the capacity to be kind. I draw from You the forgiveness I need to extend right now. I draw from You the love I need to express.” This decision is a matter of simple trust.

Watch and see how God will quiet your spirit and provide confidence when you draw only from Him as your source. You’ll be surprised at your own attitude: When you respond from within—rather than from the flesh—Jesus will give you the ability to respond as He would.

Bible in One Year: Psalms 95-102

Our Daily Bread — Rescuing the Reluctant

 

Read: Genesis 19:12-25

Bible in a Year: Job 14-16; Acts 9:22-43

The men took hold of his hand, . . . the Lord being merciful to him, and they . . . set him outside the city. —Genesis 19:16

Many years ago during a water safety class, we were taught how to save a drowning person who is resisting rescue. “Approach the person from behind,” the instructor told us. “Place one arm across the person’s chest and flailing arms, and swim toward safety. If you approach from the front, the person may grab you and pull both of you down.” Panic and fear can paralyze the ability to think and act wisely.

When two angels sent by God came to rescue Lot and his family from the impending destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:12-13), they encountered resistance. Lot’s sons-in-law thought the warning was a joke (v. 14). When the angels told Lot to hurry and leave, he hesitated (v. 15). At that point, the two angels “took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters,” and led them safely out of the city because God was merciful toward them (v. 16).

When we reflect on our journey of faith in Christ, we can see God’s faithfulness in overcoming our reluctance and resistance. When we encounter people lashing out in spiritual desperation and fear, may we have God’s wisdom to show His love to them—and to every person who is reluctant to be rescued by Him. —David C. McCasland

Father, as I look at my own heart, I know I have resisted You and have been reluctant at times to come to You. Thank You for Your mercy. Help me to share with others who You are.

God’s mercy can overcome our resistance.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – God of Possibility

 

“Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing.”(1) So begins Nicholas Carr’s now well-circulated essay, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” His Atlantic article describes the shifting of his own thought patterns; how he once could delve easily into long bouts of prose, but now finds his mind trailing off after skimming only a few pages. As a writer he is the first to applaud the instant wonders of Google searches, information-trails, and hyperlinks ad infinitum. He just wonders aloud about the cost.

University of Virginia English professor Mark Edmundson is another voice attempting to articulate the current cultural ecosystem, and the minds, souls, and relationships it cultivates. In an article for The Chronicle of Higher Education he attempts to describe the turbo-charged orientation of his students to life around them. “They want to study, travel, make friends, make more friends, read everything (superfast), take in all the movies, listen to every hot band, keep up with everyone they’ve ever known… They live to multiply possibilities. They’re enemies of closure… [They] want to take eight classes a term, major promiscuously, have a semester abroad at three different colleges, [and] connect with every likely person who has a page on Facebook.”(2) Edmundson argues that for all the virtues of a generation that lives the possibilities of life so fully, there are detriments to the mind that perpetually seeks more and other options. For many, the moment of maximum pleasure is no longer “the moment of closure, where you sealed the deal,” but rather, “the moment when the choices had been multiplied to the highest sum…the moment of maximum promise.”

There is a phrase in Latin that summarizes the idea that the shape of our deepest affections is the shape of our lives. Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi is an axiom of ancient Christianity, meaning: the rule of worship is the rule of belief is the rule of life. That is, our deepest affections (whatever it might be that we focus on most devotedly) shapes the way we believe and, in turn, the way we live. In a cultural ecosystem where we seem to worship possibilities, where freedom is understood as the absence of limitation upon our choices, and where the virtue of good multitasking has replaced the virtue of singleness of heart, it is understandable that we are both truly and metaphorically “all over the place”—mentally, spiritually, even bodily, in a state of perpetual possibility-seeking.

Of course, for the ancient Christians who first repeated the idiom, Lex orandi lex credendi lex vivendi, they did so with Christ in mind as the subject, aware that the human Son of God was the only object of worship who could ever quiet their own restless humanity. Before any formal creeds were written, the early church held this adage, knowing that the essence of their theology would rise from their acts of adoration, thanksgiving, affections. And they knew that the ways of their worship, the things they said when they prayed, their deepest affections, not only defined their ultimate beliefs, but ultimately defined their lives.

No matter our object of worship, the same is true of our lives today. That which claims the most thorough part of our hearts, minds, and time both reflects and shapes our lives. We most certainly live in a time when focusing our minds on one thing is a challenge met with a constant parade of options vying for our attention. The Christian story introduces a God who longs to gather us, whose arm is not too short to save (even from ourselves), nor ear too dull to hear, who is the same yesterday and today.

What’s more, the distracted soul is hardly unique to the age of Google. There was a time when the ancient church father Augustine of Hippo defined his soul as “too cramped” for God to enter. He prayed that God might widen it, seeing too that it needed to be emptied. “You prompt us yourself to find satisfaction in appraising you,” he prayed. “[Y]ou made us tilted toward you, and our heart is unstable until stabilized in you.”(3) Of course, such satisfaction in worship is not likely where God is only one of many possibilities in a never-ending, ever-expanding web of activities and diversions. If faith is only a part of life, then it has become as optional as pursuing one more hyperlink or skimming one more article. But those who fully approach the God of all possibilities find rest and focus, wisdom—and indeed, possibility—for their souls.

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

(1) Nicholas Carr, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” Atlantic, (July/August 2008).

(2) Mark Edmundson, “Dwelling in Possibilities,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, Vol. 54, Issue 27, Pg. B7.

(3) Saint Augustine, Confessions, trans. Garry Wills, (New York: Penguin, 2006), 5.

Alistair Begg – Asleep in Jesus

 

Even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

1 Thessalonians 4:14

Let us not imagine that the soul sleeps in insensibility. “Today you will be with me in paradise” is the whisper of Christ to every dying saint. They sleep in Jesus, but their souls are before the throne of God, praising Him day and night in His temple, singing hallelujahs to Him who washed them from their sins in His blood. The body sleeps in its lonely bed of earth, beneath the coverlet of grass.

But what is this sleep? The idea connected with sleep is “rest,” and that is the thought that the Spirit of God would convey to us. Sleep makes each night a sabbath for the day. Sleep shuts tight the door of the soul and bids all intruders wait for a while, that the life within may enter its summer garden of ease. The toil-worn believer quietly sleeps, as does the weary child when it slumbers on its mother’s breast.

Happy are they who die in the Lord; they rest from their labors, and their works follow them. Their quiet repose will never be broken until God shall rouse them to give them their full reward. Guarded by angelic watchers, curtained by eternal mysteries, they sleep on, the inheritors of glory, until the fullness of time shall bring the fullness of redemption.

What an awaking will be theirs! They were laid in their last resting place, weary and worn, but they will not rise in that condition. They went to their rest with furrowed brow and wasted features, but they wake up in beauty and glory. The shriveled seed, so devoid of form and beauty, rises from the dust a glorious flower. The winter of the grave gives way to the spring of redemption and the summer of glory. Blessed is death, since through the divine power it removes our working clothes and dresses us with the wedding garment of incorruption. Blessed are those who sleep in Jesus.

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

Charles Spurgeon – Hatred without cause

 

“They hated me without a cause.” John 15:25

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Peter 4:12-19

Take care, if the world does hate you, that it hates you without a cause. If the world is to oppose you, it is of no use making the world oppose you. This world is bitter enough, without my putting vinegar in it. Some people seem to fancy the world will persecute them; therefore, they put themselves into a fighting posture, as if they invited persecutions. Now, I do not see any good in doing that. Do not try and make other people dislike you. Really, the opposition some people meet with is not for righteousness’ sake, but for their own sin’s sake, or their own nasty temper’s sake. Many a Christian lives in a house—a Christian servant girl perhaps; she says she is persecuted for righteousness’ sake. But she is of a bad disposition; she sometimes speaks sharp, and then her mistress reproves her. That is not being persecuted for righteousness’ sake. There is another, a merchant in the city, perhaps; he is not looked upon with much esteem. He says he is persecuted for righteousness’ sake; whereas, it is because he did not keep a bargain some time ago. Another man says he is persecuted for righteousness’ sake; but he goes about assuming authority over everybody, and now and then persons turn round and reproach him. Look to it, Christian people, that if you are persecuted, it is for righteousness’ sake; for if you get any persecution yourself you must keep it yourself. The persecutions you bring on yourself for your own sins, Christ has nothing to do with them; they are chastisements on you. They hated Christ without a cause; then fear not to be hated. They hated Christ without a cause; then court not to be hated, and give the world no cause for it.

For meditation: The apostle Paul knew what suffering for Christ’s sake really means (2 Corinthians 11:23-27). It was something he avoided when he could appeal to the law, (Acts 22:25-29) and he did not pretend to be persecuted when he brought trouble upon himself (Acts 23:1-5).

Sermon no. 89
29 June (1856)

John MacArthur – Enjoying Friendship with God

 

“Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,’ and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone” (James 2:21-24).

You are a friend of God if you love Him and obey His Word.

Can you imagine life without friends—those precious people who love you despite your failings and who stand by you through joys and sorrows—those to whom you’ve committed yourself and whose companionship you treasure? They are without question one of God’s greatest gifts, yet there is an even greater gift: friendship with God Himself.

Jesus spoke of such a friendship in John 15:13-16, describing it as one of intimacy, mutual love, sacrifice, and commitment. In verse 14 He says, “You are My friends, if you do what I command you.” That’s the kind of friendship Abraham demonstrated when he obeyed God and prepared to offer Isaac as a sacrifice (Gen. 22:3-10). Isaac was the son through whom God’s covenant to Abraham would be fulfilled. Killing him would violate that covenant and call into question the character of God, whose Word forbids human sacrifice (Deut. 18:10). It took unquestioning trust for Abraham to obey God’s command. When he did, his faith was on display for all to see.

The Greek word translated “justified” in James 2:21 has two meanings: “to acquit” (treat as righteous) or “to vindicate” (demonstrate as righteous). James emphasized the second meaning. When Abraham believed God, he was justified by faith and acquitted of sin (Gen. 15:6). When he offered up Isaac, he was justified by works in that his faith was vindicated.

Faith is always the sole condition of salvation, but saving faith never stands alone—it is always accompanied by righteous works. That’s the test of true salvation and of friendship with God.

As a friend of God, treasure that relationship and be careful never to let sin rob you of its fullest joy.

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise God for the privilege of being His friend.

For Further Study

Read Genesis 22:1-19, noting the faith and obedience of Abraham.

Joyce Meyer – Are You Distracted or Determined?

 

“Few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke10:42 NIV

In order to enjoy the present moment and the gifts it contains, we need to have balanced attitudes toward work. Luke 10:38–42 tells the story of Jesus’ visit to the home of two sisters, Mary and Martha.

Martha was overly occupied and too busy (see Luke 10:40). But Mary sat down at Jesus’ feet and listened to what He had to say. Martha was distracted with much serving; Mary was thankful Jesus was there and was determined not to miss the beauty of the present moment. And Jesus said that Mary made a better choice than Martha did.

Jesus did not tell Martha not to work; He told her not to be frustrated and have a bad attitude while she worked. Jesus wants us to work hard, but He also wants us to be wise enough to realize when we should stop all activity and not miss the miracle of the moment.

Prayer of Thanks Thank You, Father, for the way You teach me to live my life in balance. Help me to do the work You have given me to do without letting it become a distraction to my relationship with You. Thank You that I can enjoy moments at Your feet each day.

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Inspiration of God

 

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16, KJV).

Recently, it was my privilege to be chairman of a national congress on the Bible, which was held in San Diego, California. Thousands of Christian leaders came from across the nation and from other countries. More than fifty leading scholars addressed the various plenary and seminar sessions.

We were there to affirm our confidence that the Word of God is holy, inspired and without error. God’s Word is unlike any other book ever written. It is full of power and transforms the lives of all who read and obey its commandments. Many scholars read it without understanding, while others with little or no formal education comprehend its truths and are transformed in the process because they walk with God in humility and in the fullness and control of the Holy Spirit.

The story is told of a famous actor who attended a party one evening. A minister, who was also present, asked him if he would be kind enough to recite the 23rd Psalm. The actor, a famous and eloquent star of stage and screen, agreed on one condition – that the minister, a man in his eighties who had served God faithfully and humbly for half a century, would also recite the psalm.

The minister agreed, and the actor began. The words came like beautiful music, and everyone was enthralled at his beautiful presentation of the 23rd Psalm. A standing ovation greeted him at the finish.

Then the minister stood. He was not polished or eloquent. But as he began to recite the 23rd Psalm, a holy hush fell over his listeners and tears began to fill their eyes. When he finished, there was no applause – only silence. The actor stood to his feet. “I have reached your eyes and your ears and your emotions,” he said. “But this man of God has reached the very depths of your being.”

Bible Reading: II Peter 1:19-21

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will seek to become familiar with God’s Word, and obedient to its precepts, that my life will reflect its teachings. I will encourage others to join me in this great adventure of getting to know God and His holy, inspired Word.