Charles Stanley – Recognizing the Voice of God

 

John 10:3-5, 14-16

Have you ever been in a car with someone who is looking for a specific broadcast on the radio? While constantly adjusting the frequency, he cocks his ears and listens carefully. Station after station is rejected until he hears the familiar voice he’s been seeking.

In our Christian life, we know the importance of recognizing God’s voice and tuning others out. When making decisions, we want to be sure we hear the right Person. The Bible assures us that as believers, we can distinguish God’s voice from all others (John 10:27).

What are some of the conditions for recognizing His voice?

  1. Be in range. The Lord’s voice is heard through Scripture. Take time to reconnect with God through His Word. Let the Holy Spirit bring to mind the truths related to your situation.
  2. Be tuned to the right station. God always speaks words that are consistent with Scripture—He will never contradict it. Compare what you are hearing with His Word, and seek godly advice to be sure you have the whole counsel of God.
  3. Be willing to make the necessary adjustments. Sometimes what God says conflicts with what seems logical to human reasoning. Or, it might clash with our fleshly desires. It can be tempting to dismiss a voice that disagrees with our preconceived ideas, but God’s children need to align themselves with His directions regardless.

Our Savior is calling; how easily do you recognize His voice? To know His voice better, spend more time in His Word. Today is a good time to start.

Bible in a Year: Psalms 112-118

Our Daily Bread — Fiery Conversation

 

Read: James 3:2-10

Bible in a Year: Job 22-24; Acts 11

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt. —Colossians 4:6

Where I come from in northern Ghana, bush fires are regular occurrences in the dry season between December and March. I’ve witnessed many acres of farmland set ablaze when the winds carried tiny embers from fireplaces or from cigarette butts carelessly thrown by the roadside. With the dry grassland vegetation, all that is needed to start a devastating fire is a little spark.

That is how James describes the tongue, calling it “a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell” (James 3:6 niv). A false statement made here or backbiting there, a vicious remark somewhere else, and relationships are destroyed. “The words of the reckless pierce like swords,” says Proverbs 12:18, “but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (niv). Just as fire has both destructive and useful elements, so “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (18:21).

For conversation that reflects God’s presence in us and pleases Him, let it “always be with grace” (Col. 4:6). When expressing our opinions during disagreements, let’s ask God to help us choose wholesome language that brings honor to Him. —Lawrence Darmani

Guide my conversation today, Lord. May the words I choose bless and encourage others and build them up rather than tear them down. May You be pleased with what You hear.

Anger can make us speak our mind when we should be minding our speech.

INSIGHT: The book of James is often referred to as “the Proverbs of the New Testament.” The emphasis on wisdom and behavior throughout its five brief chapters makes the comparison understandable. James’s well-known warning about the explosive threat hiding behind our lips is sandwiched between verses about the relationship between faith and deeds (2:14-26) and between wisdom and deeds (3:13-18). It seems that James is suggesting that faith and wisdom are both significantly demonstrated in our ability to control our tongue. In other words, our speech puts our faith and our wisdom on display for everyone to see.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry –  Spaghetti Monsters and One Less God

 

Among atheist advocates, it has become fashionable to dismiss theism with the mantra that unbelievers, like theists, are atheist with regard to a host of entities considered to be divine at sundry times throughout history. Atheists, we are told, merely acknowledge one less God than theists. If believers understood why they reject Zeus, the argument goes, they would understand why atheists reject their God.

Unfortunately, dismissing theism on such grounds betrays a paltry acquaintance with the very idea of God, let alone the God revealed in the Bible. It is true that many concepts of God present us with entities that are nothing more than glorified human beings. But anyone who is familiar with the relevant religious and philosophical literature on the subject does not need to be told that such untutored notions of God are just pointless red herrings. Popular level atheism may be fodder for invigorating debates on the Internet, but it has little, if anything at all, to do with God.

Take, for instance, the idea of God defended by such a prominent ancient philosopher as Aristotle. Whereas Zeus and his associates held sway at the popular level, David Conway notes that Aristotle defended a God who was unchanging, immaterial, all-powerful, omniscient and indivisible; a God who possessed “perfect goodness and necessary existence.”(1) That is a striking parallel to the God worshipped in the major monotheistic religions of the world. Even among the so-called animistic religions, it is a mistake to think that the concept of God is limited to spirits in natural objects and events, even in cases where the latter are venerated. As Timothy Tennent notes, adherents of these religions acknowledge a being who is the ground of all being.(2)

God is not one being among other beings; God is being itself. In philosophical parlance, God exists necessarily—God cannot not exist! Every other entity finds the reason for its existence in God. Spaghetti monsters and teapots in orbit are material objects that would stand in need of explanation, even if they really did exist, since they do not exist necessarily. But we can also dismiss such examples precisely because we know enough about spaghetti and teapots to know what it would take to get them to play the roles detractors of faith in God assign to them. To say they are infinitely under qualified is a gross understatement.

But not only is God the ground of Being and the reason everything else exists, the Bible tells us that, ultimately, reality is personal. For God, the Being from whom all things came, exists as a Trinity—three Persons in One Being. These truths about God—God’s necessary existence as the grounding of all of reality, the relationships that exist within the Trinity and God’s personal nature—are profound truths about the glory and majesty of God. Only the Christian faith can countenance them all. Thus far from being a problem for Christianity, the Trinity solves a major difficulty for humanity by providing us with a coherent explanation for our origin and purpose; both in this life and in the life to come. The Bible also tells us that human beings are made in the image of God. Our powerful relational capacities are therefore not accidental: they are a reflection of reality at its very core. As a matter of fact, our capacity for relationship can only be fully satisfied when we are properly related to God.

Religious systems that conceive of God as a personal Being who nevertheless exists as a single entity cannot sufficiently account for the fullness of God since such a God lacks anyone with whom he can be in relationship. For example, such a God would have to create out of the necessity to actualize his love. But within the Trinity, there is the eternal unity and community sustained by the self-sufficiency of God.

A common objection to the claim that God, who is love, would not have had someone to love before He created is to ask how God was able to actualize attributes such as anger and mercy, which are also relational in nature, before creation. If mercy can exist in God as a latent capacity sans creation, why can’t love exist in the same way? Once again, there is a serious misconception of the nature of perfect relationships lurking in this objection. Attributes such as anger and mercy are not necessary to the nature of God. They are contingent upon there being imperfect, sentient creatures. They are by definition absent in a perfect relationship, such as the one that exists among the members of the Trinity. They will one day be eternally absent from those who choose to follow God’s way, for “when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2b). No criticism of faith in God that fails to take into account the fullness of God and the perfection promised those from whom sin will be eternally purged touches the essence of the Gospel message.

J.M. Njoroge is a member of the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) Quoted by Antony Flew in There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2008), 92.

(2) Timothy Tennent, “African Traditional Religion in Practice,” https://www.biblicaltraining.org, accessed June 23, 2015.

Alistair Begg – Fear Not

 

Our heart is glad in him. Psalm 33:21

Blessed is the fact that Christians can rejoice even in the deepest distress; although trouble may surround them, they still sing; and like many birds, they sing best in their cages. The waves may roll over them, but their souls soon rise to the surface and see the light of God’s countenance; they have a buoyancy about them that keeps their head always above the water and helps them to sing amid the tempest, “God is with me still.”

To whom shall the glory be given? Oh, to Jesus-it is all by Jesus. Trouble does not necessarily bring consolation with it to the believer, but the presence of the Son of God with him in the fiery furnace fills his heart with joy. He is sick and suffering, but Jesus visits him and makes his bed for him. He is dying, and the cold, chilly waters of Jordan are gathering about him up to the neck, but Jesus puts His arms around him and cries, “Fear not, beloved; to die is to be blessed; the waters of death have their fountainhead in heaven; they are not bitter-they are sweet as honey, for they flow from the throne of God.”

As the departing saint wades through the stream, and the billows gather around him, and heart and flesh fail him, the same voice sounds in his ears: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God.”1 As he nears the borders of the infinite unknown and is almost frightened to enter the realm of shades, Jesus says, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”2 Thus strengthened and consoled, the believer is not afraid to die; no, he is even willing to depart, for since he has seen Jesus as the morning star, he longs to gaze upon Him as the sun in his strength. Truly, the presence of Jesus is all the heaven we desire. He is at once

The glory of our brightest days;

The comfort of our nights.

1) Isaiah 41:10

2) Luke 12:32

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

Charles Spurgeon – Personal service

 

“O Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds.” Psalm 116:16

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 6:15-23

A liberty to be holy is a grander liberty than a licence to be sinful. A liberty to be conscientious; a liberty to know forgiven sin; a liberty to trample upon conquered lusts, this is an infinitely wider liberty than that which would permit me to be the comfortable slave of sin, and yet indulge the elusive hope that I may one day enter the kingdom of heaven. The largest expressions that can ever be used by the boldest minister of free grace, cannot here be exaggerations. Luther may exhaust his thunders, and Calvin may spend his logic, but after all the grand things that have been spoken about the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, we are freer than those men knew. Free as the very air he breathes is the Christian, if he lives up to his privileges. If he is in bondage at all, it is because he has not as yet yielded his spirit fully to the redeeming and emancipating influence of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the fullest and widest sense therefore, the believer may cry, “Thou has loosed my bonds.” Nor is this liberty merely consistent with the profoundest and most reverent service, but the service is, indeed, a main characteristic of the exalted freedom. “Truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant and the son of thine handmaid.” This does not conflict with the sentence that follows it,—“Thou hast loosed my bonds.” This fact of my being God’s servant is to me a proof and evidence, and a delightful fruit and effect of my having had my bonds loosed by the great emancipator, the Lord Jesus Christ. Service then, as well as liberty!

For meditation: The Christian has been freed from being a slave of sin in order to become a servant of God. Does your lifestyle illustrate this (Galatians 5:13)?

Sermon no. 312
2 July (Preached 3 May 1860)

John MacArthur – Coming to Christ

 

“Coming to [Christ] as to a living stone” (1 Pet. 2:4).

Jesus Christ is the source of every spiritual privilege.

Often Christians speak of salvation as “coming to Christ.” That’s an accurate, biblical description, for Jesus Himself said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28); “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35); “If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink” (John 7:37). Those are metaphors for salvation.

Coming to Christ initiates all your spiritual privileges because in Him God “granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3). Paul said, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3).

The Greek word translated “coming” in 1 Peter 2:4 conveys more than initially turning to Christ for salvation. It implies remaining with Him. In the Greek translation of the Old Testament it was used of those who drew near to God for ongoing worship. It was also used of Gentile proselytes—those who chose to identify themselves with God’s people.

When you came to Christ, a permanent relationship of intimate personal communion was established. Before that, you were rebellious toward God, without hope, and alienated from God’s promises. Now you’ve been born again to a living hope, you abide in Him and in His Word, and you have wonderful spiritual privileges.

Indeed, you are a privileged person, and the greatest of those privileges is your personal relationship with Christ Himself. Continue to draw near to Him today through prayer and worship.

Suggestions for Prayer

Tell Jesus how much you love Him and how you want your relationship with Him to be all it should be.

For Further Study

Read Ephesians 2:1-22.

  • How did Paul describe our spiritual condition before salvation?
  • How are sinners reconciled to God?
  • What analogy did Paul use to describe our relationship as Christians to Jesus Christ?

Joyce Meyer – Freedom of a Child

 

Then little children were brought to Jesus, that He might put His hands on them and pray; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But He said, Leave the children alone! Allow the little ones to come to Me, and do not forbid or restrain or hinder them, for of such [as these] is the kingdom of heaven composed. Matthew 19:13–14

Children seem to be able to make a game out of anything. They quickly adjust, don’t have a problem letting other children be different than they are, and are always exploring something new. They are amazed by everything!

Oswald Chambers wrote in My Utmost for His Highest: “The freedom after sanctification is the freedom of a child, the things that used to keep the life pinned down are gone.” We definitely need to watch and study children and obey the command of Jesus to be more like them (see Matthew 18:3). It is something we have to do on purpose as we get older. We all have to grow up and be responsible, but we don’t have to stop enjoying ourselves and life.

Don’t let the world steal your confidence. Remember that you have been created on purpose by the hand of God. He has a special, unique, wonderful plan for you. Go for it! Don’t shrink back, conform, or live in fear.

Lord, I can’t be a child again, but I can have the freedom and the wonder of a child. I come to You as a child now, and I ask You to renew a childlike faith in me. Amen.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Finished with Sin

 

“He personally carried the load of our sins in His own body when He died on the cross, so that we can be finished with sin and live a good life from now on. For his wounds have healed ours!” (1 Peter 2:24).

Following one of my messages a young woman in her early 20’s asked for counsel. She was weighted down with her guilt and sin. In fact, she was so distraught that she would not look me in the eye. All the while I was counseling her she was under such deep conviction that all I could see was the top of her head.

I asked, “Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?” She nodded in the affirmative. “Do you believe that He died on the cross for your sins?” Again she responded affirmatively. “Would you like to invite Him into your life and ask Him to cleanse you with His precious blood, which He shed on the cross for your sins, and make you a new creature in Christ?” Again, she nodded. Together we knelt in prayer and through her sobs she surrendered to Christ, acknowledging the wickedness and filth of a life of gross immorality. She confessed to God her disobedience of her father and mother whose hearts had been broken by her prodigal ways.

After some time on our knees it was obvious that God had touched her, had forgiven and cleansed her. The sobbing had passed and now she was at peace. The Spirit within me bore witness that she had become a new creature in Christ. As we stood to our feet, she looked at me with her eyes still glistening with tears and her face radiant with joy. She now knew the reality of our promise for today. Jesus had taken the load of her sins on His own body and she was cleansed. With His wounds He had healed her and now she could live a life for the glory of God.

Who, but Jesus, could work such a miracle? Is it any wonder that those who know Him in this way want, like apostle Paul, to tell everyone who will listen about Him? He alone can forgive our sin and liberate us from the darkness and gloom of Satan’s kingdom.

Bible Reading: I Peter 2:21-25

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: With great joy and deep gratitude I will praise the Lord that He has taken upon Himself the load of my sin and through His death on the cross has paid the penalty which I could never have paid through my own effort. As an expression of my gratitude and through the enabling of the Holy Spirit, I commit myself to live a good life, a supernatural life that will glorify my God and Savior.

Presidential Prayer Team; J.R. – Authority Abuse

 

When Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu began a speech before 80,000 of his “supporters” on December 21, 1989, he had no way of knowing he was four days from being executed by firing squad. The ruthless communist leader had carefully staged the event, as always, with strict instructions to the crowd as to where they would stand, and when they would cheer and lift up the signs bearing his image. But the throng, primed for revolution, began booing and jeering. The state-run video feed of Ceausescu’s utter shock and dismay to realize he was being publicly insulted is among the most iconic in history.

Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.

Psalm 2:10

“Be wise; be warned” is the message of Scripture to kings. They should, Psalm 2:11 says, “serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” Power over people is limited to what God allows…and when a leader abuses his authority, the end can come with devastating swiftness.

As you celebrate your freedom in the coming days, ask God to help America’s leaders remember that God’s blessings upon the nation can be withdrawn – and surely will be – if those in positions of authority do not serve the Lord. Pray that His name will be lifted up today and always!

Recommended Reading: Deuteronomy 11:13-28

Greg Laurie – It Starts with the Family

 

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”—Exodus 20:12

Few things in life can bring us as much pleasure or pain as our families. When things are working well in the family, it’s great. When things are not going so well, it’s tough. Parents have tension with children. Children have tension with parents. Husbands have tension with wives. Wives have tension with husbands. Then there are the in-laws. Families are complex. But God established the family.

In the Ten Commandments, before a word is said about how we treat one another, God starts with the family: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12).

In Genesis we have God bringing Adam and Eve together. He started with the family. He created the family. And He—and He alone—defines the family. God loves the family.

There is only one picture that God gives to a lost world to show His love for the church and the church’s love for Him. That is marriage. He says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25), and “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (verse 22).

Effectively, here is what God is saying: “Look at this Christian couple right here. See the way that husband loves his wife? That is how I love this church, My people. See how that wife loves her husband? That is how My church loves Me.”

Because of that, when a Christian family starts to unravel and when Christian people get divorced, that is devastating in many ways to the testimony of believers in a given community.

It has been said that a family can survive without a nation, but a nation cannot survive without the family.

Max Lucado – God’s Transforming Power

Family pain is often the deepest pain because it was inflicted so early, and because it involves people who should have been trustworthy. You were too young to process the mistreatment. You didn’t know how to defend yourself. Besides the perpetrators of your pain were so large. Your dad, mom, uncle, big brother—they towered over you, usually in size, always in rank. When they judged you falsely, you believed them. All this time you’ve been operating on faulty data. “You’re stupid. . .slow. . .dumb, like your daddy.

Decades later these voices of defeat still echo in your subconscious. But they don’t have to! Romans 12:2 says, “Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” And 1st Corinthians 13:11 adds, “Let Him replace childish thinking with mature truth!” You are not who they said you were. You are God’s child!

From You’ll Get Through This

 

 

Night Light for Couples – Still the One

 

We’ve talked this week about the brevity of life and the importance of making the most of the time the Lord has given us. Our journey as marital partners will someday come to an end. First one of us, and then the other, will stand before God, give an account of our days, and begin our eternal journey. Jim and I certainly look forward to that heavenly reward, but we are also enjoying our time together on this earth. Jim has recovered fully from a heart attack and a stroke, either of which could have taken his life. Those experiences have made our relationship all the sweeter and more precious. I will always thank God for bringing us together in a marriage that has continued now for more than four decades.

One of the most delightful experiences during that time came in a Marriage Encounter seminar we participated in years ago. I knew that Jim loved and needed me during the early years of our marriage, but I had begun to quietly wonder if I still held the most prominent place in his heart. On the final day of the seminar, without discussing it ahead of time, we wrote each other letters addressing just this issue. I’ll never forget the moment we came together and shared these thoughts.

Jim concluded his letter to me, in part, with these words:

I love you, S. M. D. (Remember the monogrammed shirt?) I love the girl who believed in me before I believed in myself. I love the girl who never complained about huge school bills and books and hot apartments and rented junky furniture and no vacations and humble little Volkswagens. You have been with me—encouraging me, loving me, and supporting me since August 27, 1960. And the status you have given me in our home is beyond what I have deserved.

If we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:12

So why do I want to go on living? It’s because I have you to take the journey with. Otherwise, why make the trip? The half that lies ahead promises to be tougher than the years behind us. Autumn is coming. Even now, I can feel a little nip in the air—and I try not to look at a distant, lone cloud that passes near the horizon. With whom, then, will I spend that final season of my life?

None but you, Shirls. The only joy of the future will be in experiencing it as I have the past twenty‐one years—hand‐in‐hand with the one I love, a young miss named Shirley Deere, who gave me everything she had—including her heart. Thank you, babe, for making this journey with me. Let’s finish it— together!

May the Lord continually sustain and enrich your marriage. God’s blessings to you both… and good night.

– Shirley M Dobson

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