Charles Stanley – The Landmine of Fear

 

Psalm 27:1-4

Fear has been a part of man’s emotional makeup since the fall. When Adam and Eve rebelled against the Lord, they hid themselves from Him and were afraid (Gen. 3:10). Things haven’t changed much. Anxiety often affects our thinking and controls our actions. It can keep us boxed in and unwilling to venture into unknown territory.

Let truth help you defeat fear. Remember that God is . . .

Almighty. Through the Savior’s perfect life and His sacrifice on the cross, our two greatest enemies have been defeated—Satan and death. Jesus set us free from slavery to sin; the devil has lost control over our lives. What’s more, we no longer face eternal separation from God. Jesus’ physical death has become the gateway to heaven, where we can live with the Father forever.

Always with us. Though He called Abraham to move away from all that was familiar, the Lord Himself promised to remain nearby. In Matthew 28:20, Jesus gives us similar reassurance. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, we as believers have God not only near us but also in us. Nothing can ever separate us from His love—not past mistakes, present circumstances, or difficult people (Rom. 8:38-39).

Actively involved. God promises His help, and He always keeps His word. He knows what is happening in our lives and can turn hardships into a time of spiritual growth and ultimate blessing.

God Himself is the reason we should not be afraid. Grasp the truth of His power, presence, and involvement, and use them to disarm the landmine of fear.

Bible in One Year: Proverbs 5-8

Our Daily Bread — Grace in Our Hearts

 

Read: Ephesians 2:4-10

Bible in a Year: Job 38-40; Acts 16:1-21

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

A few years ago, four-star General Peter Chiarelli (the No. 2 general in the US Army at that time) was mistaken for a waiter by a senior presidential advisor at a formal Washington dinner. As the general stood behind her in his dress uniform, the senior advisor asked him to get her a beverage. She then realized her mistake, and the general graciously eased her embarrassment by cheerfully refilling her glass and even inviting her to join his family sometime for dinner.

The word gracious comes from the word grace, and it can mean an act of kindness or courtesy, like the general’s. But it has an even deeper meaning to followers of Christ. We are recipients of the incredible free and unmerited favor—grace—that God has provided through His Son, Jesus (Eph. 2:8).

Because we have received grace, we are to show it in the way we treat others—for example, in the way we speak to them: “The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious” (Eccl. 10:12). Grace in our hearts pours out in our words and deeds (Col. 3:16-17).

Learning to extend the grace in our hearts toward others is a by-product of the life of a Spirit-filled follower of Christ Jesus—the greatest of grace-givers. —Cindy Hess Kasper

Dear heavenly Father, help me today to season my words with grace. May all that I say and do be gracious to others and pleasing to You, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

God’s grace in the heart brings out good deeds in the life.

INSIGHT: Salvation is God’s gift and can never be earned by our good works. Paul reminds us that through Christ “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7). In today’s passage, Paul emphasizes this grace by repeating the phrase “by grace you have been saved” (2:5,8). While we are not saved by our good works, we are saved so that we can do good works (v. 10). Paul reminds us to be “fruitful in every good work” (Col. 1:10) and “zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14).

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Beyond the Visible

 

Winters, in the north-eastern part of India, especially Shillong where I live, can be bitingly cold, and more so when it rains. One year, the winter was particularly wet, and for weeks on end there seemed no respite from the cold. One gloomy day followed another with nothing to lighten the dismal scene of overcast skies and thick blankets of cloud stretched like a shroud from one end of the horizon to the other. Suffocated by the cheerless gloom that had pervaded my very heart and soul, small woes and anxieties that had seemed miniscule before, now seems threateningly gigantic. Funny how the weather can affect one’s mood! And just as I was beginning to feel that sunny days are but a distant memory, suddenly, the sun rose up one morning, bright and strong, shining in a blue cloudless sky. I was immediately reminded of a song in the Bible likening the sun to a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, rejoicing like a strong man to run its race.(1)

As I was reflecting on the sight, I noticed my neighbor’s door opened. Faithfully, as he had probably been doing every single day of his life, he turned his face to the sun and paid obeisance to it. With hands folded and eyes devoutly closed, he continued in this salutation of worship for a few minutes. As I sat there in the sun, enjoying the delicious warmth soaking into my body, I can understand exactly why people would want to worship it. There is something very nurturing, healing and life-giving about the sun’s warmth. No wonder that civilizations right from the Mayans and the ancient Egyptians to the Hindus of today, revered and worshipped it.

But does it have to end there, I thought? Should not our contemplation of the wonder of creation lead us to contemplate on the greater wonder of the One who is the cause of all existence? In his song offerings, the Gitanjali, the great seer and bard, Rabindranath Tagore captures the very essence of this truth when he sings: “The morning light has flooded my eyes—this is thy message to my heart. Thy face is bent from above, thy eyes look down on my eyes, and my heart has touched thy feet.”(2) Clearly, for Tagore, every part of creation is but the whisperings of the Almighty to the human heart.

Somehow, this thought takes me back to my young book-reading days. In my eagerness to come to the story at once, I would just glance briefly at the title and sometimes, bypass the name of the author altogether. The author was not important for me then; the story was! But through the years, I have come to appreciate a text more by also knowing something about its writer. His/Her experiences, thoughts and impressions that colour and give shape to the work. This, I find, enriches my reading experience and adds context to the text.

As I continued to enjoy the sunshine that winter morning, basking in its light and warmth, I directed my thoughts to the ultimate author who commanded the whole story into being and who continues to sustain that story from one sunrise to the other. “How wonderful this sun!” I exclaimed. “How wonderful is the One who created this sun!” an answering voice in my heart echoed.

Psalm 19, I believe, is a jubilant declaration of this truth as it points us beyond the visible to the One who is invisible and yet, whose presence and touch can be felt, can be seen, can be experienced:

The heavens declare the glory of God;

the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Day after day they pour forth speech;

night after night they display knowledge.

There is no speech or language

where their voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out into all the earth,

their words to the ends of the world.

In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,

which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,

like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

It rises at one end of the heavens

and makes its circuit to the other;

nothing is hidden from its heat.

Ravi Zacharias recounts this story in his book The Shattered Visage: On Christmas Day, 1968, three American astronauts made the first journey that humanity will ever make around the ‘dark’ side of the moon, away from the earth. Having fired their rockets, they were homebound on Apollo 8, and beheld our planet in a way that human eyes had never witnessed before. They saw earth rise over the horizon of the moon, draped in the beauteous mixture of white and blue, bordered by the glistening light of the sun against the black void of space. In the throes of this awe-inspiring experience their first response is to open the Bible and read from the book of Genesis for the world to hear: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…

Let me conclude by quoting authors Thomas Howard and J.I. Packer:

“The truth is that our supreme fulfillment, as moral beings made in God’s image, is found and expressed in actively worshipping our holy Creator. When the object of homage is noble, the rendering of homage is ennobling; but when the objects of homage are not noble, the rendering of it is degrading… [But] it is impossible to worship nothing: we humans are worshipping creatures, and if we do not worship the God who made us, we shall inevitably worship someone or something else.”(3)

Tejdor Tiewsoh is a member of the speaking team with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Shillong, India.

(1) Psalm 19.

(2) Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali, Song no. 59.

(3) Thomas Howard and J.I. Packer, Christianity: The True Humanism (Vancouver: Regent College Publishing, 1984), 146.

Alistair Begg – God’s Hand in Your Life

 

Forget not all his benefits.

Psalm 103:2

It is a delightful and profitable occupation to mark the hand of God in the lives of ancient saints and to observe His goodness in delivering them, His mercy in pardoning them, and His faithfulness in keeping His covenant with them. But would it not be even more interesting and profitable for us to observe the hand of God in our own lives? Should we not look upon our own history as being at least as full of God, as full of His goodness and of His truth, as much a proof of His faithfulness and veracity as the lives of any of the saints who have gone before?

We do our Lord an injustice when we suppose that He performed all His mighty acts and showed Himself strong for those in the early time but does not perform wonders or lay bare His arm for the saints who are now upon the earth. Let us review our own lives. Surely in these we may discover some happy incidents, refreshing to ourselves and glorifying to our God. Have you had no deliverances? Have you passed through no rivers, supported by the divine presence? Have you walked through no fires unharmed? Have you had no manifestations? Have you had no choice favors? The God who gave Solomon the desire of his heart, has He never listened to you and answered your requests? That God of lavish bounty of whom David sang, “who satisfies you with good,”1 has He never filled you up to overflowing? Have you never been made to lie down in green pastures? Have you never been led by the still waters?

Surely the goodness of God has been the same to us as to the saints of old. Let us, then, weave His mercies into a song. Let us take the pure gold of thankfulness and the jewels of praise and make them into another crown for the head of Jesus. Let our souls produce music as sweet and as exhilarating as came from David’s harp while we praise the Lord whose mercy endures forever.

1) Psalm 103:5

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

Charles Spurgeon – Contentment

 

“For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Philippians 4:11

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Timothy 6:6-11

The apostle Paul was a very learned man, but not the least among his manifold acquisitions in knowledge was this—he had learned to be content. Such learning is far better than much that is acquired in the schools. Their learning may look studiously back on the past, but too often those who cull the relics of antiquity with enthusiasm, are thoughtless about the present, and neglect the practical duties of daily life. Their learning may open up dead languages to those who will never derive any living benefit from them. Far better the learning of the apostle. It was a thing of ever-present utility, and alike serviceable for all generations; one of the rarest, but one of the most desirable accomplishments. I put the senior wrangler and the most learned of our Cambridge men, in the lowest form compared with this learned apostle; for this surely is the highest degree in humanities to which a man can possibly attain, to have learned in whatsoever state he is, to be content. You will see at once from reading the text, upon the very surface, that contentment in all states is not a natural propensity of man. Ill weeds grow apace; covetousness, discontent, and murmuring, are as natural to man as thorns are to the soil. You have no need to sow thistles and brambles; they come up naturally enough, because they are indigenous to earth, upon which rests the curse; so you have no need to teach men to complain, they complain fast enough without any education. But the precious things of the earth must be cultivated. If we would have wheat, we must plough and sow; if we want flowers, there must be the garden, and all the gardener’s care. Now, contentment is one of the flowers of heaven, and if we would have it, it must be cultivated.

For meditation: Proverbs 30:7-9: the balanced prayer of Agur, an observant and humble man. Covetousness is the enemy of contentment.

Sermon no. 320
9 July (Preached 25 March 1860)

John MacArthur – A Living Sacrifice

 

“Offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5).

Every faculty you have is to be used for God’s glory.

In Romans 12:1 Paul pleads with believers to present their bodies to God as a living and holy sacrifice, which is an appropriate and acceptable act of worship. But as someone has rightly said, the problem with living sacrifices is they tend to crawl off the altar. That’s because sacrificial living demands spiritual discipline and constant dependence on the Holy Spirit. We as Christians aren’t always willing to do that.

According to Paul, the motivation and ability for self-sacrifice are found in the mercies we’ve already experienced in Christ. In Romans 1-11 he mentions several, including love, grace, peace, faith, comfort, power, hope, patience, kindness, glory, honor, righteousness, forgiveness, reconciliation, justification, security, eternal life, freedom, resurrection, sonship, intercession, and the Holy Spirit. Because you’ve received all that, you should gladly surrender every faculty you have for holy purposes.

“Body” in Romans 12:1 also includes your mind. Verse 2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” A transformed mind is the key to transformed behavior.

Prior to your salvation, you had neither the desire nor the ability to make such a sacrifice. But because you are a new creation in Christ, you are not to “go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but . . . as instruments of righteousness to God” (Rom. 6:13). One practical implication? Abstain from sexual immorality. Know how to possess your own body in sanctification and honor (1 Thess. 4:3-4).

You are a holy priest, and your priestly work begins with presenting yourself as a living and holy sacrifice. Is that your desire? Are you a faithful priest?

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for His bountiful mercies toward you.

Commit this day to Him, asking for the grace to live a holy life.

For Further Study

Read Romans 6.

What choices do you have as a believer that you didn’t have as an unbeliever?

What is the benefit of being God’s slave?

Joyce Meyer – Prayer Doesn’t Have to Be Long

 

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. – Jeremiah 33:3 NIV

The length of our prayers really makes no difference to God. All that matters is that we pray the way He is teaching us to pray and that our prayers are Spirit- led, heartfelt, thankful, and accompanied by faith. Throughout the Bible, there are incredibly brief, but powerful, prayers. Here are a few of them:

Moses prayed for his sister: “Heal her now, O God, I beseech You!” (Numbers 12:13).

Elijah prayed: “O Lord my God, I pray, let this child’s soul come back to him” (1 Kings 17:21 NKJV).

Jesus prayed: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34 NKJV).

There will be times when you’ll pray longer prayers than others, but there is no correlation between how many minutes or hours we pray and whether God hears us. Just one word spoken to Him in faith from a sincere heart can reach His heart and move His hand.

Prayer of Thanks Thank You, Father, that I can pray to You from my heart, no matter how long or short that prayer may be. I am grateful that I can just be myself when I’m with You.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Rescued from Darkness

 

“For He has rescued us out of the darkness and gloom of Satan’s kingdom and brought us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13).

A famous general invited me to his office. He was hungry for God and eager to become a Christian. Yet as we counseled together, he seemed reluctant to pray. I inquired as to his reluctance, and he said, “I don’t understand myself. I want to receive Christ, but I can’t.”

I turned to Colossians 1:13,14 and asked him to read it aloud. Then I asked him to tell me what he thought it meant. The light went on. Suddenly he realized that he was a member of Satan’s kingdom, and Satan was trying to hinder his being liberated from darkness and gloom into the glorious light of the kingdom of God’s dear Son. Satan did not want him to receive Christ into his heart.

As soon as the man realized he was a member of Satan’s kingdom, he was ready to pray and receive Christ into his life so that he would then become a member of God’s kingdom.

I, too, was once in Satan’s kingdom – not a very pleasant thought, but true. And so were you if you are a Christian. Every person born into this world is a part of Satan’s kingdom; all who are not now experiencing the saving grace and love of Christ are a part of his kingdom.

It is God the Holy Spirit who enables men to comprehend spiritual truth. It is God the Holy Spirit who liberates men from darkness into light. It is God the Holy Spirit who is responsible for the new birth that brings men into the kingdom of God.

When we go out to witness, it is not enough to know God’s plan. It is not enough to know the Four Spiritual Laws. It is not enough for us to be nicely groomed and properly scented. We need to go in the power of God’s Holy Spirit. He alone can change men.

Bible Reading: Ephesians 6:10-13

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: My first concern in everything I do and every contact I make today will be that the power of God’s Holy Spirit will be operative in my life, so that others will see His supernatural qualities in my life and want to join me in following Him.

Presidential Prayer Team; G.C. – Remember to Remember

 

How’s your memory these days? Can you recall the first time you were at the ocean or the smell of your grandmother’s cookies? Science is changing traditional thinking about how human memories are stored. It appears rather than a filing cabinet retrieval system in your head, memories are more like the movie of your life. They are your experiences of sight, sound, and smell providing the framework that makes you who you are today. Who would you be if you suddenly forgot your most powerful memories?

Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.

Psalm 25:6

God is not human, and He doesn’t struggle with a forgetful mind. He has loved you since before you arrived on Earth and every minute since then. Do you remember the first time you became aware of His amazing love? Have you ever momentarily forgotten that He loves you so intensely?

As you recount the blessings of life in America, remember to remember the love God has for America from its inception through today. Express your gratitude to God for the freedom you enjoy and remember to pray for all of those who serve this nation in Washington D.C.

Recommended Reading: Romans 13:1-10

Greg Laurie – The Eighth Commandment

 

“You shall not steal.”—Exodus 20:15

There is so much stealing in our culture today that we have almost become accustomed to it. In fact, I read about a study that was done on stealing in which people were asked why they didn’t steal. The number one reason given by those polled was the fear of getting caught. The next most common reason was concern that the other person might try to get even. The third most-cited reason was that the item might not be needed. What apparently didn’t occur to anyone was the fact that stealing is a sin.

Here is what God says about stealing: “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need” (Ephesians 4:28).

In the above verse we find three simple principles about how to live our lives as Christians.

First, if you have stolen, steal no longer. Don’t take something that doesn’t belong to you. Don’t illegally download stuff. Don’t take things that are not yours. If you have taken something, give it back or make restitution.

Second, be useful. Get out and work. Get a job. The apostle Paul said in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” The government doesn’t owe you anything. Don’t leech off people. Go out and be responsible and look for a job.

Third, be useful. Find work wherever you can find it. Do something. Make an effort. Sometimes people who are out of work will say, “I am praying the Lord will provide.” That’s good to pray. But have they submitted your resume anywhere? Have they applied for any jobs? Keep praying. But start looking too.

Max Lucado – Our Family Reunion

The word good-bye. This word may be the challenge of your life. How does a person get through raging loneliness, strength-draining grief? The rest of the world has moved on and you ache to do the same. Take heart. God has served notice. All farewells are on the clock.

1 Thessalonians 4:16 begins, “The Master himself will give the command. Archangel thunder! God’s trumpet blast! He will come down from heaven and the dead in Christ will rise. Then the rest of us who are still alive at the time will be caught up with them into the clouds to meet the Master. Oh, we’ll be walking on air. And there will be one huge family reunion with the Master. Reassure one another with these words!”

Revelation 21:4 promises He will wipe every tear from our eyes. Isn’t this our hope? God has promised a restoration of all things. All things—and that includes yours.

From You’ll Get Through This

Night Light for Couples – I Love You!

 

“This is my command: Love each other.” John 15:17

One of the best ways to sustain true love between you and your mate is to build a bridge of loving memories. I am reminded of a husband named Jim who was tragically killed in an accident while driving home from work. It was his wife Carol’s fiftieth birthday. Rescue teams found two plane tickets to Hawaii in his pocket; he had planned to surprise Carol with them.

Months later, Carol was asked how she was coping. She answered that on their wedding day, she and Jim had promised to say “I love you” before noon each day of their marriage. Over the years it had become a fun—and often difficult—challenge. She recalled running down the driveway saying “I love you,” even though she was angry at Jim. On other occasions she drove to his office to drop a note in his car before the noon deadline. The effort it took to keep that promise led to many positive memories of their years together.

The morning Jim died, he left a birthday card in the kitchen, then slipped out to the car. Carol heard the engine starting and raced outside. She banged on the car window until he rolled it down, then yelled over the roar of the engine, “Here on my fiftieth birthday, Mr. James E. Garret, I, Carol Garret, want to go on record as saying ‘I love you!’”

“That’s how I’ve survived,” Carol said later. “Knowing that the last words I said to Jim were I love you!”

We can build bridges across the span of our lives in many ways— with cards and flowers, through special shared moments, or, like Jim and Carol, with a simple “I love you” expressed each day. Cherished memories established over the course of your marriage will give you and your mate the foundation for a genuine love that endures a lifetime.

Shirley M. Dobson

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