Charles Stanley – The Need for Salvation

 

Ephesians 2:1-3

Followers of Christ know the importance of being saved, but the world sees no need for rescue. Let’s think about some key truths regarding man’s need for salvation.

Those who don’t have a personal relationship with God through His Son Jesus are:

Spiritually dead.Many people don’t realize that there are three kinds of death—physical, eternal, and spiritual. Eternal death comes at the end of the age, when all those who have refused Jesus as Savior are cast away from God permanently (Matt. 25:41). Spiritual death occurred in the Garden of Eden. Disobedience severed Adam and Eve’s intimate connection to God and caused all of their descendants to be spiritually detached from Him (Rom. 5:12). We’re born as “dead” people in need of new life.

Living a life of sin. Our nature is to rebel against God, and that’s called sin. Over and over, we choose what pleases us, not Him. We’re enslaved to sin (John 8:34), and any effort to free ourselves from its power is in vain. We need someone to rescue us.

Under divine wrath. Because of our disobedience, we are under God’s judgment, awaiting punishment. All efforts to earn His approval and escape our sentence are insufficient. Sinful man has nothing acceptable to offer holy God. Our only hope of escape is for someone else to take our penalty.

The good news is that the Lord has provided a way for all to pass from spiritual death to life, from the bondage of sin into freedom, and from condemnation to intimacy with Him. Jesus Christ alone is the way (14:6), and He meets our every need.

Bible in One Year: Psalms 145-150

Our Daily Bread — The Slow Walk

 

Read: Job 16:1-5

Bible in a Year: Job 34-35; Acts 15:1-21

I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever. —John 14:16

Caleb was sick. Really sick! Diagnosed with a nervous system disease, the 5-year-old suffered from temporary paralysis. His anxious parents prayed. And waited. Slowly, Caleb began to recover. Months later, when doctors cleared him to attend school, all Caleb could manage was a slow, unsteady walk.

One day his dad visited him at school. He watched his son haltingly descend the steps to the playground. And then he saw Caleb’s young friend Tyler come alongside him. For the entire recess, as the other kids raced and romped and played, Tyler slowly walked the playground with his frail friend.

Job must have ached for a friend like Tyler. Instead, he had three friends who were certain he was guilty. “Who ever perished, being innocent?” asked Eliphaz (Job 4:7). Such accusations prompted Job to bitterly declare, “Miserable comforters are you all!” (16:2).

How unlike Jesus. On the eve of His crucifixion He took time to comfort His disciples. He promised them the Holy Spirit, who would be with them forever (John 14:16), and assured them, “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (v. 18). Then, just before He returned to His Father, He said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).

The One who died for us also walks with us, step by painstaking step. —Tim Gustafson

Father, we tend to say too much to our hurting friends. Help us choose our words wisely. Teach us to walk slowly with those in pain, as You walk patiently with us.

Sometimes the best way to be like Jesus is to sit quietly with a hurting friend.

INSIGHT: The story of how Job wrestled with tragedy and how he struggled to understand God’s role in the apparent injustices of life is well known. Job and his three friends (Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite) engage in a series of debates to try to come to terms with life’s great heartaches. In Job 16, Job responds to more charges from Eliphaz who says Job’s suffering is punishment for wickedness (see 15:17-35). The issues of suffering and injustice do not always find resolution in this life, regardless of our attempts to explain them away. In the end, the wise response is to say that “the secret things belong to the Lord our God” (Deut. 29:29), for some things are just not revealed to us.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Sellouts and Revolutionaries

 

They both trod along the dusty streets of ancient Palestine: one as an outcast and traitor and the other as a would-be hero. One used his position to cheat and extort his own people. The other carried a dagger under his cloak to swiftly exact vengeance on agents of government extortion. Neither man would have hoped to meet the other. Yet, a stranger from a backwater town would bring the two of them together. In fact, this most unlikely pair would not only meet, but serve alongside each other. All that had previously defined them would give way to a new understanding and a new path of life.

On that most unexpected day, Matthew was collecting taxes from the people. He made sure to extract more than what was necessary to fill his coffers with unlawful profits. The stranger who came by the tax office that day looked like any other man, so it likely came as quite a shock to Matthew when the stranger called out to him, “Follow me.” No one from among the people of Israel would even desire to speak with Matthew—yet this stranger called after him and invited him to follow. To where, he did not know, but his invitation was irresistible. That very night, Matthew invited the stranger to his home for dinner and they reclined at the same table. Even to Matthew, it would have been a radical sight. Seated among the most despised members of society, didn’t the stranger know how deeply this company was hated? How was it that he had come to Matthew’s house, a man hated in all Israel for being a sellout to the Roman government? Yet, here was this intriguing stranger eating and drinking with outsiders and sellouts.(1)

The day that Simon the Zealot was approached would be no less surprising. The Zealots sought any and all means to overthrow their Roman oppressors. As revolutionaries, Simon’s political affiliates hated all that Matthew’s kind represented. For Simon, Matthew was nothing but a colluder with those who sought to oppress the people of Israel. Yet this stranger from Nazareth called both of these men to his side. “Follow me,” he asked. So along with a group of fisherman—Simon Peter, the sons of Zebedee, James and John—and this wretched tax collector, Simon the Zealot was invited to follow this stranger who gathered a most unexpected group of followers.(2)

Why would anyone call such an eclectic collection of people to become his followers? What kind of leader brings together people who for all practical purposes are at opposing ends of the spectrum with regards to their views of the world?

The man was Jesus of Nazareth. And his call to “follow” would upend all their expectations, replace all previous affiliations, and transform their views of the world. This unlikely group would follow Jesus beyond personal expectations and goals, as well as their expectations of him as their leader. The nature of his teachings and his form of radical hospitality would not only change their own lives and views, but transform the world. Jesus called Matthew, as well as Simon, sellouts and revolutionaries alike. And the power of Christ’s message is displayed in the fact that a tax collector authored one of the four gospels, and the Zealot most likely gave his life—not as a revolutionary hero, but as a martyr for the gospel.(3)

Jesus proclaimed good news good enough to bring together a tax collector and a zealot, men from entirely opposing camps, the poor and the rich, the outcast and the sellouts. Indeed, he declared that anyone who does the will of God is his brother and sister and mother. The good news was also given to a former blasphemer, persecutor, and violent aggressor. But this is not what we remember the apostle Paul for either. We remember him for his efforts to take the good news throughout the Roman world. It is this man who said, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And I am the foremost of sinners; but I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who would believe in him for life everlasting” (1 Timothy 1:15-16).

The gospel has a way of reaching out and adopting into the family of Jesus a most unlikely group of characters, just as it did for Matthew and Simon and Paul. Jesus called them to follow him—together. And he continues to call disparate groups of individuals together today as the gospel goes forth into the utmost parts of the earth.

This, then, is both the challenge and the opportunity of the gospel. Because it is an invitation broad enough, wide enough, and good enough to include even me, it also reaches out and welcomes those I might not expect and bids me to serve alongside. It challenges me to leave my preconceptions behind, as the door to the kingdom of God swings open to fellow sinners who will become saints. And it ushers us in a community of new allegiances, a body only God could create.

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

(1) See Mark 2:13-17.

(2) See Mark 3:13-19.

(3) Many later church traditions suggest that Simon joined Jude in apostolic ministry. Later tradition suggests that Simon was martyred by being sawn in two. See for example, The Golden Legend (Aurea Legenda) compiled by Jacobus de Voragine, 1275.

Alistair Begg – Remember Your Pastor

 

Brothers, pray for us. 1 Thessalonians 5:25

This one morning in the year we reserved to remind each reader of the importance of praying for ministers, and we earnestly implore every Christian household to heed this request first uttered by Paul and now repeated by us.

Brothers, our work is solemnly momentous, involving good or ill to thousands; we deal with souls for God on eternal business, and our word is either a savor of life unto life or of death unto death. A very heavy responsibility rests upon us, and it will be no small mercy if at the last we be found clear of the blood of all men. As officers in Christ’s army, we are the special target of the hostility of men and devils; they watch for our faltering and work to trip us at the heels.

Our sacred calling involves us in temptations from which you are exempt; above all it too often draws us away from our personal enjoyment of truth into a ministerial and official consideration of it. We meet with many difficult cases, and our wits are at a quandary; we observe very sad backslidings, and our hearts are wounded; we see millions perishing, and our spirits sink. We wish to encourage you by our preaching; we desire to be a blessing to your children; we long to be useful both to saints and sinners.

Therefore, dear friends, intercede for us with our God. We are miserable men if we miss the help of your prayers, but happy are we if we live in your supplications. You do not look to us but to our Master for spiritual blessings, and yet how many times has He given those blessings through His ministers; ask then, again and again, that we may be the earthen vessels into which the Lord may put the treasure of the Gospel. We, the whole company of missionaries, ministers, and students, do in the name of Jesus beseech you: “Brothers, pray for us.”

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

Charles Spurgeon – Profit and loss

 

“What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Mark 8:36

Suggested Further Reading: Luke 12:15-21

Spiritually man is a great trader—he is trading for his own welfare; he is trading for time and for eternity; he keeps two shops: one shop is kept by an apprentice of his, a rough unseemly hand, of clayey mould, called the body; the other business, which is an infinitely more vast concern, is kept by one that is called “the soul” a spiritual being, who does not traffic upon little things, but who deals with hell or heaven, and trades with the mighty realities of eternity. Now, a merchant would be very unwise who should pay all attention to some small off-hand shop of his, and take no account whatever of a large establishment. And he would, indeed, be negligent, who should very carefully jot down every trifle of the expenditure of his own household, but should never think of reckoning the expenses of some vast concern that may be hanging on his hands. But the most of men are just as foolish—they estimate the profits (as they conceive them to be) which are gained in that small corner shop called the body, but they too seldom reckon up the awful loss which is brought about by a negligence of the soul’s concerns in the great matters of eternity. Let me beseech you, my brethren, while you are not careless of the body, as, indeed, you ought not to be, seeing that it is, in the case of believers, the temple of the Holy Spirit, to take more especial care of your souls. Decorate the tenement, but do not suffer the inhabitant to die of starvation; do not paint the ship while you are letting the crew perish for want of stores on board. Look to your soul, as well as to your body; to the life, as well as to that by which you live.

For meditation: We can be so bodily minded that we are no heavenly use

(1 Timothy 4:8 gives the right balance).

Sermon no. 92

7 July (Preached 6 July 1856)

John MacArthur – Your Priestly Service

 

“You . . . are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5).

Christians share common spiritual characteristics with Old Testament priests.

Peter identified believers as holy priests, but many Christians don’t really know what that means because priests aren’t part of our culture as a whole.

The primary purpose of an Old Testament priest was to offer acceptable sacrifices to God on behalf of the people. Priests were chosen by God Himself, specially cleansed through prescribed ceremonies, clothed in a prescribed manner, and anointed with oil as symbolic of God’s Spirit upon them. They were expected to obey God, love His Word, and walk with Him.

Faithful priests had a positive impact on believers and unbelievers alike. Malachi 2:6 says they “turned many back from iniquity.” Verse 7 adds that “the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.”

Those qualifications are paralleled in Christians, whom God regards as the only true priests. You were chosen by Him from before the foundation of the world and cleansed by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit. You are clothed with the righteousness of Christ, and anointed by the Holy Spirit. Your purpose is “to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5).

Scripture tells you therefore to present your body a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship (Rom. 12:1). Obedience, love for the Word, and communion with God should characterize your life; saints and sinners alike should see Christ in you and be affected by what they see.

The priesthood of believers is a high and holy calling to which no one is suited apart from God’s grace and power. But be assured that He who called you will accomplish His good pleasure in you. Be committed to that goal each day as you lean on His resources and trust in His sufficiency.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for the priesthood He has entrusted to you. Ask Him to use you today to influence others in godly ways.

For Further Study

Read Leviticus 8 and 9, which tell of the consecration and inauguration of the Aaronic priesthood.

 

Joyce Meyer – Acknowledge God

 

In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.- Proverbs 3:6

Acknowledging the Lord in all your ways means submitting all your plans to Him and allowing Him to work them out according to His will and desire for you. He wants you to come to know Him in the power of His resurrection (see Philippians 3:10).

It is a sign of maturity to seek God for who He is and not only for what He can do for you. So as you pause at the end of your day, seek God’s face (His presence) and get to know your wonderful, loving heavenly Father better. Acknowledge His power and experience the joy of walking in the paths He chooses for you.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Riches in Glory

 

“And it is He who will supply all your needs from His riches in glory because of what Christ Jesus has done for us” (Philippians 4:19).

God has faithfully met the needs of this great worldwide ministry since its inception. He met our needs when there were only two of us – Vonette and I – on the staff. He meets our needs today (1983) with more than 16,000 full-time and associate staff members serving in most communities of America and in 151 other countries.

He met our needs when our budget was a few thousand dollars a year. He continues to meet our needs when our budget is approximately $100 million a year. During this exciting, incredibly rich and rewarding adventure with our gracious Lord, we have never had an extra dollar at the end of any day. We get only what we need – and no more.

During these years, there have been many dramatic demonstrations of His faithfulness, when He has led us to undertake major and frequently expensive projects. He has always supplied the funds to pay for what He orders. We have learned many lessons concerning God’s faithfulness.

First, whatever He leads us to do He will enable us to do by supplying the manpower, the finances and the know-how – oftentimes dramatically – if we continue to trust and obey Him.

Second, “we have not because we ask not” (James 4:2 KJV).

Third, we do not receive when our motives are impure.

But of this we can be sure: if our hearts are pure, our motives are pure and we do what we do for the glory of God – to help fulfill the Great Commission through the winning and discipling of men for Christ throughout the world -we can always be assured that God will supply our needs. Not to do so would be a contradiction of His attributes, for the idea of the Great Commission began with our Lord.

Bible Reading: II Corinthians 9:6-11

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will examine my heart to determine my motives and relate my needs to the scriptural commands with the confidence that God will supply all of my needs from His riches in glory, because of what Christ Jesus has done for me. I will thank Him in advance for meeting my needs, and encourage others to trust Him also. This is a part of my commitment to supernatural living.

Presidential Prayer Team; C.H. – Find Your Rest

 

Summertime and lightning bugs always bring children outdoors at dusk – and when three or more kids are outside together, you can bet there will be a game of tag. Historians say variations of tag have been played as far back as anyone can remember. Every nation has its own version of the game, but one common denominator is “base.” Base is the one spot where you’re free to find rest. No one can get to you on base.

Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!

Psalm 31:2

In a similar way, you can find freedom in the presence of God. In today’s verse, David says the Lord is his refuge or protection from danger. Daily life can often feel like a game of tag, where you’re running from one thing or another, not knowing when you might be “it.” Take comfort knowing that Christ is always a place to find safety – a place where you are free to rest.

Praise God today for the strong fortress He provides. Pray that you’ll remember to come to Him when you are out of breath from running. Intercede, too, for your national leaders to find rest in your Heavenly Father.

Recommended Reading: II Samuel 22:1-7

Greg Laurie – A Murderer at Heart

 

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. —Ephesians 4:31

Many of us would never murder a person, but we may wish someone were dead. Have you ever hated anyone? Let me rephrase the question: Have you ever driven on a freeway anywhere in Southern California?

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.” (Matthew 5:21–22).

We also read in 1 John 3:15, “Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.” The word used here for hate means “to habitually despise.” It is not just a transient emotion of the affections but a deep-rooted loathing.

We all lose our temper at times. I don’t think the Bible is saying that if you get angry and honk at someone, then you are a murderer. No, you are just a honker, and maybe you shouldn’t have lost your temper. The hatred the Bible is speaking of here is a deep-rooted loathing. It’s an attitude that says, “I hate your guts. When you walk into a room, I just seethe. I boil. I would like to see you destroyed. I sit around and think of ways that I could hurt you.”

Guess what? That is like murdering a person, and that is a sin before God.

So even if we have never committed the physical act of murder, the reality is that we still can be murderers in our hearts.

Max Lucado – Forgiveness: Stay the Course

Vengeance is God’s. He will repay—whether ultimately on the Day of Judgment or intermediately in this life. God can discipline your abusive boss. He can bring your ex to his knees or to her senses. Forgiveness doesn’t diminish justice; it just entrusts it to God. He guarantees the right retribution.  The God of justice has the precise prescription. Forgive your enemies? Ah, that’s where you and I come in.

“Do not let the sun go down on your anger,” Paul wrote, “and do not give the devil an opportunity” (Ephesians 4:26-27). Don’t give the devil territory or ground. Bitterness invites him to occupy a space in your heart, to rent a room. Believe me, he will move in and stink up the place! When it comes to forgiveness, all of us are beginners. Stay the course!

From You’ll Get Through This

 

Night Light for Couples – The Third Party

 

“No one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 3:11

To experience genuine love with our mate, we must bring a third party into the equation—Jesus Christ. Only through this spiritual connection with Him can we begin to fulfill all the potential of the relationship we call marriage.

Anyone who studies the Bible will recognize numerous principles woven throughout that apply to married life. Judeo‐Christian values have effectively guided men and women from the beginning. These values were inspired by the Creator Himself, the originator of the institution of marriage. No matter what society says, or how laws change, the precepts that make up this scriptural system remain the way to find love and happiness in life.

Establishing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is the critical first step toward attaining every meaningful goal, including the intimacy we all seek. If you haven’t already given your heart to Him, we urge you to do so. It will bring meaning and purpose to every dimension of your life—including your marriage. Tomorrow we’ll explain how.

Just between us…

  • How have we been putting biblical principles to work in our marriage?
  • How can I encourage you to spend more time in God’s Word?
  • Have we both personally invited Jesus Christ to be Lord of our lives and of our marriage? If not, can we take that life‐changing step right now?

Lord Jesus, You are the foundation of our marriage. Help us look to You and Your strength in every way as we build a life together. Amen.

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