Charles Stanley – When God Speaks

 

1 Samuel 3:1-21

The story of Samuel and how he learned to recognize God’s voice provides an important lesson for all believers. The Bible tells us that in Samuel’s day, communication from the Lord—by word or vision—was rare (l Sam. 3:l). At the same time, we are informed in verse 12 that God had been saying a lot to the priest Eli about his family and their evil conduct. It appears, however, that there had been very little listening.

Fortunately, young Samuel put an end to all that. At first he, too, was unable to recognize God’s voice. Even though he was immersed in religious activity, the Bible tells us that the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him (v. 7). When God first spoke to Samuel, the boy had to appeal to his religious superiors before he could understand what was going on.

What this suggests is that when we think we hear God’s voice, we shouldn’t hesitate to discuss it with our spiritual leaders or other mature Christians. Prayer and wise consultation of this sort can help recognize who really is speaking. The devil seeks to imitate the voice of God, so we must carefully discern the source of the message.

Once we hear from God and get our bearings spiritually, we must not shrink from testifying to what we heard. At first Samuel was fearful about sharing the message with Eli, but he finally did so. And remember, we should never ask God to speak if we are not prepared to act on the message we hear.

Bible in a Year: Psalms 107-111

Our Daily Bread — Raise Your Hand

 

Read: John 4:7-15,28-30

Bible in a Year: Job 20-21; Acts 10:24-48

God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. —John 3:17

The St. Olaf Choir from Northfield, Minnesota, is renowned for making beautiful music. One reason for its excellence is the selection process. Applicants are chosen based not only on how well they sing but also on how they sound as part of the whole. Another reason is that all members agree to make the choir their first priority and commit to a rigorous rehearsal and performance schedule.

One of the things that intrigues me the most about this choir is what happens during rehearsals. Whenever members make a mistake, they raise their hand. Instead of trying to hide the blunder, they call attention to it! This allows the conductor to help each singer learn the difficult part, and it increases the likelihood of a flawless performance.

I think this is the kind of community Jesus was establishing when He told Nicodemus that God sent His Son into the world to save it, not condemn it (John 3:17). Shortly after this conversation, Jesus encountered a Samaritan woman at the public well. He made it easy for her to admit failure by promising her a better way of life where she could enjoy His forgiveness (John 4).

As members of Christ’s body on Earth, we should not fear admitting our wrongs but welcome it as an opportunity to together experience and rejoice in the forgiveness of God. —Julie Ackerman Link

Lord, it’s our tendency to hide our sins and flaws. May we come to You in full honesty, understanding that we are loved and forgiven by You.For further help in understanding the gift of forgiveness, read The Forgiveness of God at discoveryseries.org/q0602

We can’t put our sins behind us until we are ready to face them.

INSIGHT: Jesus crossed racial, cultural, theological, gender, and social boundaries when He spoke to the woman at the well. Samaritans were the descendants of the Israelites who intermarried with the Assyrians. Because of this, Samaritan customs and theology often differed from those of the Jews. The Samaritan woman was also an outcast among her own people for her failed relationships and immoral behavior. What a wonderful picture of the Savior reaching beyond all barriers with His love.

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry –   A Servant Like This

 

For his fluency with words and unrivaled poetic voice, Isaiah has been called the “Shakespeare of the prophets.” His words are assuredly lyrical; they were also political and prophetic, enduring well beyond his life.

The 53rd chapter of the book of Isaiah offers the image of a servant who embodies a severe faithfulness despite unjust opposition. “He was oppressed and he was afflicted,” writes Isaiah, “but he did not open his mouth” (53:7a). The prophet describes a sufferer of flint-like submission in the face of extreme violence. “He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (v.7b). He describes a servant who is crushed and anguished, stricken, and yet somehow satisfied. “As a result of the anguish of his soul,” writes Isaiah, “he will see it and be satisfied; by his knowledge the righteous one, my servant, will justify the many, and he will bear their iniquities” (v.11). Whether Isaiah had in mind someone who fit the description or merely longed to see God’s words come to fruition, the prophet offers an image of one who changes all the rules.

Isaiah utters words abundantly verified in Jesus Christ. Almost 700 years after Isaiah’s description of the suffering servant, Jesus was carrying sorrows and curing infirmities; he was suffering rejection, hatred, and affliction (v.4). He was despised and brushed aside without regard (v.3). He was taken away by a perversion of justice (v.8). He was assigned a grave with the wicked (v.9). Yet he set his face “like a flint” upon the will of God (Isaiah 50:7, Luke 9:51). He was cut off from the land of the living, so that many would live (Isaiah 53:8b).

Whether you hear it as an exile in ancient Israel, a tax collector in 1st century Jerusalem, or cultural observer in contemporary times, Isaiah’s description of the suffering servant is one that warrants contemplation. Even Isaiah, out of whose mouth the description emerged, was compelled to ask with bewilderment: “Who shall consider it?” Who can imagine a man in such circumstances? Who knows what to do with a servant like this? “Who has considered that he was cut off from the land of the living for the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?” (v.8a). So asks the prophet who would not live to see the suffering servant he described. How much more so should we who see the face of the prophecy consider this description of Christ?

Isaiah 53 describes a Christ oppressed and afflicted but silent, even dumb, in the face of his oppressors. Like a sheep submitting to its shearers, he did not object; he didn’t even open his mouth. He was taken from justice and afflicted by people who seemed to hold some real sense of power over him. Yet he did it all willingly and silently, as if he were allowing them the power in the first place. He was a victim of violence though he had committed no violence himself. He was categorized as wicked though a deceitful word was never on his lips. Who is able to fathom it? Isaiah seems at once to ask both a rhetorical question and a pessimistic one. Will anyone consider it? Is anyone really catching all of this? Who is really in control here—the silent one or the ones who think they are silencing him?

This metaphor of the submissive sheep is pervasive in Isaiah’s description, immediately hastening images of sacrifice, blood, and atonement. Like a lamb, the sufferer was led to slaughter. In the case of most sacrificial animals, they go unsuspectingly; they follow without much thought. But this is clearly not the case in this metaphor. Isaiah describes a man who is led and killed, but he does not go unknowingly. While it may be natural in certain conditions for a man to follow people who end up harming him, it would not be natural for that man to follow silently in the midst of harm. A ewe might not cry with its shearers, but it would certainly bleat if you hit it repeatedly. This lamb went to his death submitting to those who led him, but it was far from unintentional. He followed with a depth of thought we have difficulty considering.

In fact, there is something altogether silencing about the one who remains still and submissive while the ultimate injustice weighs on his shoulders. Isaiah describes a servant who seems immobilized and powerless. It is the unnamed crowd in each verse that seems to be in control. It is they who afflict him, oppress him, and strike him. It is they who lead him to the slaughter and put him in a grave. Yet is it not entirely significant that this nameless crowd, which seems to hold all the power, remains at least structurally inconsequential? There is no real description offered of the oppressors in the entire chapter. “They” did not earn the subject of more than one sentence, perhaps because “they” are not the point. He is.

It is still ours to consider: What if Jesus chose this path for himself? What if he chose to remain silent, to be weak in our nameless hands, to pour himself out even unto death? What if he chose to take on the violence that would bring us peace? What do we do with a servant like this?

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

Alistair Begg – An Abiding Stream

 

It shall continue in summer as in winter. Zechariah 14:8

The streams of living water that flow from Jerusalem are not dried up by the parching heats of sultry midsummer any more than they are frozen by the cold winds of blustering winter.

Rejoice, O my soul, that you are spared to testify of the faithfulness of the Lord. The seasons change, and you change, but your Lord abides evermore the same, and the streams of His love are as deep, as broad, and as full as ever. The heats of business cares and scorching trials make me need the cooling influences of the river of His grace; I may go at once and drink to the full from the inexhaustible fountain, for in summer and in winter it pours forth its flood. The upper springs are never scanty, and blessed be the name of the Lord, the lower springs cannot fail either.

Elijah found Cherith dried up, but Jehovah was still the same God of providence. Job said his brethren were like deceitful brooks, but he found his God an overflowing river of consolation. The Nile is the great confidence of Egypt, but its floods are variable; our Lord is evermore the same. By turning the course of the Euphrates, Cyrus took the city of Babylon; but no power, human or infernal, can divert the current of divine grace.

The tracks of ancient rivers have been found all dry and desolate, but the streams that take their rise on the mountains of divine sovereignty and infinite love shall ever be full to the brim. Generations melt away, but the course of grace is unaltered. The river of God may sing with greater truth than the brook in the poem–

Men may come, and men may go,

But I go on forever.

How happy you are, my soul, to be led beside such still waters! Never wander to other streams, lest you hear the Lord’s rebuke, “What do you gain by going to Egypt to drink the waters of the Nile?”1

1) Jeremiah 2:18

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

Charles Spurgeon – The necessity of increased faith

 

“And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.” Luke 17:5

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 4:13-25

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” They went to the right person. They did not say to themselves, “I will increase my faith;” they did not cry to the minister, “Preach a comforting sermon, and increase my faith;” they did not say, “I will read such-and-such a book, and that will increase my faith.” No, they said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” Faith’s author can alone increase it. I could inflate your faith till it turned into presumption, but I could not make it grow. It is God’s work to feed faith, as well as to give it life at first; and if any of you desire to have a growing faith, go and take your burden this morning to God’s throne, crying, “Lord, increase our faith!” If you feel that your troubles have been increased, go to the Lord, and say, “Increase our faith!” If your money is accumulating, go to the Lord, and say, “Increase our faith;” for you will want more faith as you get more prosperity. If your property is diminishing, go to him, and say, “Increase our faith,” so that what you lose in one scale you may gain in the other. Are you sickly and full of pain this morning? Go to your Master, and say, “Increase our faith, so that I may not be impatient, but be able to bear it well.” Are you tired and weary? Go and supplicate, “Increase our faith!” Have you little faith? Take it to God, and he will turn it into great faith. There is no hot-house for growing tender plants in like a house that is within the curtains—the tabernacle of God, where his glory dwells.

For meditation: The Christian has no need to undertake pilgrimages and to seek out so-called holy men to increase his faith. The expert in increasing faith is the very one in whom we have faith, who lives in us by his Spirit (Hebrews 12:2).

Sermon no. 32

1 July (1855)

John MacArthur – Enjoying Spiritual Privileges

 

“Coming to Him as to a living stone . . . you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood. . . . You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession. . . . You are the people of God. . . . You have received mercy” (1 Pet. 2:4-10).

You have enormous privileges in Christ.

A university student once confessed to a pastor, “I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t believe in God.” “I see,” the pastor replied. “Please tell me about the God you don’t believe in.” The student proceeded to describe a vengeful, unfair, arbitrary cosmic ogre who delighted in watching earthlings stumble through life in search of meaning and direction. After listening to that portrayal of God, the pastor wisely replied, “I don’t believe in that God either.”

Like that student, most people have a warped view of God because they can’t see beyond their circumstances and the conditions that plague our fallen world. Their distorted world view keeps them from understanding God’s goodness and mercy. But we as believers understand because we see beyond the physical realm and experience His grace and kindness in many ways.

Scripture speaks pointedly about the duties and responsibilities of Christians, but all of that is balanced by the rights and benefits that we have in Christ. In writing to Christians who were experiencing severe persecution, the apostle Peter reminded them of their privileges and called them to praise God for His abundant grace (1 Pet. 2:9). That is your calling as well.

This month we will consider many of those privileges, including your union with Christ, access to God, priestly role, spiritual security, election, dominion, and inheritance. The implications of them all are staggering and should be a source of great joy and thanksgiving as you study them from God’s Word.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the privilege of being His child.
  • Pray that He will strengthen and encourage you with the truths you learn from these studies.
  • Regardless of your circumstances, learn to focus on God’s glory and grace, allowing them continually to fill your heart with praise and worship.

For Further Study

Read 1 Peter 1:3-9 and 2:4-10. Make a list of the spiritual privileges Peter mentions.

Joyce Meyer – Make the Sacrifice

 

Through Him, therefore, let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name. Hebrews 13:15

We often interpret the “sacrifice of praise,” mentioned in the verse for today, to mean nothing more than praising God when we do not feel like praising Him, and that can certainly be a type of sacrifice. But, I believe the writer of Hebrews is actually making reference to the Old Testament sacrificial system that required the blood of animals to atone for people’s sins.

We, however, live in New Testament times, when we no longer need to put slain sheep and goats and bulls on an altar. Instead, the sacrifice—the offering—God wants from us today is to hear right words coming out of our mouths. Just as the smoke and the aroma of the animal sacrifices went up before His throne under the Old Covenant, the praise from our hearts rises up as a sacrifice before Him today. In Hebrews 13:15, the Lord was really saying, “The sacrifice I want now is the fruit of your lips thankfully acknowledging Me.”

We need to apply this scripture to our everyday lives, making sure we speak God’s praises every chance we get. We need to tell people about all the great things He’s doing for us; we need to thank Him and tell Him we love Him. In our hearts and with our mouths, we should say continually, “Lord, I love You. Thank You so much for everything You’re doing in my life. Lord, I praise You for taking care of everything that concerns me today.” We need to be people of praise, acknowledging God “constantly and at all times,” continually offering up to Him the sacrifice of praise.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Power for Healing

 

“Is anyone sick? He should call for the elders of the church and they should pray over him and pour oil upon him, calling on the Lord to heal him. And their prayer, if offered in faith, will make him well; and if his sickness was caused by some sin, the Lord will forgive him” (James 5:14,15).

Many years ago the principal of a missionary school in Hong Kong asked me to address the student body the following day. He and others involved in the school had prayed for years for revival to come to the student body and faculty. “God has impressed me,” he said, “that you are to be His instrument for that revival.” God encouraged my heart and gave me such a sense of great excitement and anticipation that I could hardly go to sleep that night.

But early in the morning, some kind of serious amoebic illness struck me and I could hardly get out of bed. Believing that God was going to use me in spite of my illness, though, I claimed His supernatural power and was dressed and ready when the principal arrived to take me to the anticipated meeting. A famous Asian evangelist who, for several years, had been ill with a mysterious disease that even the finest medical specialists were unable to diagnose had also gotten out of his sickbed to be my interpreter.

Here we were, two very sick men delivering a message on revival. However, I had hardly spoken more than a sentence or two when I felt the supernatural healing touch of God upon me. The power was reflected in my message and God did send revival, not only to the students and faculty, but also to this speaker.

Later, as we rejoiced together, the principal asked if I would join in praying for my interpreter who was still very ill. We gathered around and laid hands on him – the principal, his wife and I. By faith we claimed his healing and I went on my way. Within days the man was miraculously restored to the fullness of health and within weeks on his first evangelistic speaking tour in several years, proclaiming the good news of God’s love and forgiveness through Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, the major denominations have left the emphasis on healing to some who have prostituted this great truth, cheapened it, and made it a laughing matter, not only among evangelical believers, but in the secular world at large. Though many for whom we pray are not healed – else no one would die – we must remember that it is a privilege and power available to believers that we can claim for the glory of our risen Savior.

Bible Reading: James 5:13-19

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will pray for those who are ill and claim God’s supernatural healing power in their behalf.

Presidential Prayer Team; P.G. – Freedom’s Charge

 

America’s freedoms are under attack – that’s the warning given by some of the candidates for the next presidential election. The Bill of Rights guarantees certain freedoms and liberties to all Americans, and without these first ten amendments to the nation’s Constitution, some say, the nation would rapidly descend into tyranny.

For you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Psalm 4:8

Liberty, however, always comes with conditions: you must treasure it, defend it and use it responsibly. In Galatians, Paul urges Christians not to use liberty as a license. It does not mean that everyone can do what is right in his own eyes (as they did in Judges 21:25), as that would lead to eventual anarchy. “‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up,” is the caution of I Corinthians 10:23.

As Peter Marshall, former chaplain of the U.S. Senate, once prayed before that chamber, “Teach us that liberty is not only to be loved but also to be lived. Help us see that our liberty is not the right to do as we please, but the opportunity to please to do what is right.” Make that your own prayer today – and your intercession for those who are officially charged with protecting America’s freedoms.

Recommended Reading: Galatians 5:1-14

Greg Laurie – Let Him Lift That Load

 

For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws.—James 2:10

The Ten Commandments were not given to make us holy; they were given to show us that we are not holy. The commandments were given to show us that we need Jesus. The Bible says they are like a schoolmaster (kind of an old King James word). The idea is that of a disciplinarian. The commandments were given to say, in essence, “You can’t do this on your own.”

They are like a moral mirror. When you look at them, you say, “Uh-oh. I’m not measuring up.” Every one of us has broken the commandments.

Someone may say, “Yeah, that might be true, but I haven’t broken that many. I’ve only broken a couple of them.”

Maybe. Or maybe not. The Bible says, “For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws” (James 2:10). If you have broken even one commandment, it’s enough to keep you from God and to separate you from Him.

The commandments were given to drive us into the open arms of Jesus. That’s why Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Have you ever been carrying around something that was very heavy and had someone say, “Here, let me take that from you”? That is what Jesus is saying. “Let Me lift that load. Let Me ease your pain. Let Me give you relief. Right now. Come to Me,” He says.

That is the message of what happened at the Cross. He died for our sins and paid the price for every wrong we have ever done. And if we will turn from our sins and believe in Him, then we will be forgiven.

Max Lucado – He Wants Your Heart Whole

God gives us more by going deeper than we ask. He wants not only your whole heart—He wants your heart whole. Why? Hurt people hurt people. Think about it. Why do you fly off the handle? Why do you avoid conflict? Why do you seek to please everyone? Might your tendencies have something to do with an unhealed hurt in your heart? God wants to help you for your sake.

Your family history has some sad chapters. But your history doesn’t have to be your future. The generational garbage can stop here and now.You don’t have to give your kids what your ancestors gave you. Talk to God about the scandals and scoundrels. Invite Him to relive the betrayal with you. The process may take a long time. It may take a lifetime. Difficult for certain. But let God do His work!

From You’ll Get Through This

Night Light for Couples – Last Call

 

“The great day of the Lord is near— near and coming quickly.” Zephaniah 1:14

Think about the people you love. Have you thanked them recently for what they mean to you? If the Lord called you home this evening, would you feel satisfied that you had told them everything you needed to say? In the last months of my (jcd) mother’s life, she had end‐stage Parkinson’s disease and was unable to communicate or understand us. One day, however, the Lord granted us a reprieve. When Shirley and I visited the nursing home, my mother instantly recognized us, and I was able to thank her for being a good mother, for staying true to Jesus, and for sacrificing to put me through college.

She smiled; she understood. I told her that my father was waiting for her in heaven and that Jesus would say, “Well done! Thou good and faithful servant.” I prayed for her and thanked the Lord for her love in my life. She returned our love, and we said good‐bye.

That was the last rational conversation I had with my mother, and I will always be thankful for those final moments together. In this temporary existence, we must always seize opportunities to communicate soul to soul. Cherish each moment with your partner, family, and friends. Tell them how important they are to you. Above all, live each day so that when the final call comes, Jesus will say, “Well done! Thou good and faithful servant.”

Just between us…

  • Do we tell our loved ones what they mean to us?
  • What would you like to say to me “soul to soul”?
  • Are we ready for the Lord to call us home? What should we do to prepare?

Dear Lord, thank You for my lifetime partner. May we never miss an opportunity to say the words that really count. Help us to live without regrets, always ready for the homeward call of Jesus. Amen.

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

C.S. Lewis Daily – Today’s Reading

 

[One of the most unpopular of the Christian virtues] is laid down in the Christian rule, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.’ Because in Christian morals ‘thy neighbour’ includes ‘thy enemy’, and so we come up against this terrible duty of forgiving our enemies.

Every one says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive, as we had during the war. And then, to mention the subject at all is to be greeted with howls of anger. It is not that people think this too high and difficult a virtue: it is that they think it hateful and contemptible. ‘That sort of talk makes them sick,’ they say. And half of you already want to ask me, ‘I wonder how you’d feel about forgiving the Gestapo if you were a Pole or a Jew?’

So do I. I wonder very much. Just as when Christianity tells me that I must not deny my religion even to save myself from death by torture, I wonder very much what I should do when it came to the point. I am not trying to tell you in this book what I could do—I can do precious little—I am telling you what Christianity is. I did not invent it. And there, right in the middle of it, I find ‘Forgive us our sins as we forgive those that sin against us.’ There is no slightest suggestion that we are offered forgiveness on any other terms.

From Mere Christianity

Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis