Charles Stanley – Moving Beyond Our Fears


Luke 1:68-75

The Scriptures distinguish between two kinds of fear: healthy and unhealthy. For example, a protective type of anxiety helps prevent avoidable harm by warning us not to touch a hot stove or walk on thin ice. And we are commanded to have a proper fear of God. This includes an overwhelming sense of awe because of who He is—namely, Judge and sovereign King. It also involves a lifestyle of respectful obedience that honors Him.

Unhealthy fear causes us to feel tense, uncomfortable, or threatened. Its source may be a childhood experience or an authority figure’s repeated negative words. The feeling of distress becomes rooted in our thinking and colors our decision-making. Even when there’s no longer any basis for this anxiety, it may continue to inhibit us.

The imagination is also a source of fear. We can get caught up in “what if” thinking, such as, What if something goes wrong? or What if the outcome I want doesn’t come about?

This kind of agitation can block God’s best in our life. His purposes often require that we move beyond where we feel most comfortable. Learning new skills, changing jobs, or trying a different way of ministering to others could be part of what He expects. Such challenges present the opportunity to trust the Lord and obey Him.

Fear doesn’t come from God (2 Tim. 1:7). Let the Holy Spirit guide you from a place of disquiet into the freedom that is ours in Christ. There you will discover the ability to follow His plan without being hindered by overwhelming fear.

Bible in One Year: Proverbs 9-12

Our Daily Bread — Help for a Heavy Load


Read: Numbers 11:4-17

Bible in a Year: Job 41-42; Acts 16:22-40

[The men] shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone. —Numbers 11:17

It’s amazing what you can haul with a bicycle. An average adult with a specialized trailer (and a bit of determination) can use a bicycle to tow up to 300 pounds at 10 mph. There’s just one problem: Hauling a heavier load means moving more slowly. A person hauling 600 pounds of work equipment or personal possessions would only be able to move at a pace of 8 miles in one hour.

Moses carried another kind of weight in the wilderness—an emotional weight that kept him at a standstill. The Israelites’ intense craving for meat instead of manna had reduced them to tears. Hearing their ongoing lament, an exasperated Moses said to God, “I am not able to bear all these people alone, because the burden is too heavy for me” (Num. 11:14).

On his own, Moses lacked the resources necessary to fix the problem. God responded by telling him to select 70 men to stand with him and share his load. God told Moses, “[The men] shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone” (v. 17).

As followers of Jesus, we don’t have to handle our burdens alone either. We have Jesus Himself, who is always willing and able to help us. And He has given us brothers and sisters in Christ to share the load. When we give Him the things that weigh us down, He gives us wisdom and support in return. —Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Who has come alongside you? Have you thanked them?

God’s help is only a prayer away.

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Remembering Jesus


There is some truth to the idea that the ethics we truly live by are best discovered when they are enacted over the highest precipices—those thresholds of life, death, and weighted decision—or else the very lowest precipices, those places where comfort lures boredom and indifference. In the spaces where it is hardest to remember doctrine, standards, and philosophy, there we discover where the battle of moral decision is truly waged. In other words, it is far easier to recall ethical moorings at the university or in church than it is in the turbulent hallways of the Emergency Room or the consuming distraction of affluence.

This aspect of memory is one that Christian ethicists address and the God of scripture lauds. “Fix it in mind, take it to heart… Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the.”(1) Remembering, for the follower of this Creator, is to be an active pursuit: “These truths I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”(2) Not only is it true that what we remember affects who we are and shapes our affections, but what we remember deeply, what we have ingrained into our very identity, is far more likely be recalled when crisis, pain, or comfort make it hard to remember everything else.

In John Bunyan’s abiding allegory, Pilgrim’s Progress, Great Heart points to a place called “Forgetful Green” and says to Christian’s son, “That place is the most dangerous place in all these parts.” Building on this imagery, ethicist Allen Verhey described the temptation of forgetfulness in “the Forgetful Green of health and in the great medical powers to heal,” as well as in the “Forgetful Straits of pain and suffering and in the final powerlessness of medicine.”(3) That is to say, if we will not actively remember the story in which we are participants—moments where God has acted mightily, the times humanity has learned in tears, the reality of our immortality and the autonomy of God even in this—then in sickness and in health we will undoubtedly forget.

In fact, this story, which is the Christian’s, much of the world has already forgotten and bids us to forget as well. Leon Kass, member and former chair of the President’s Council on Bioethics, argues that “victory over mortality is the unstated but implicit goal of modern medical science.”(4) Having experienced the unwelcomed surrender to Hospice in the medical treatment of loved ones, I can relate to the sentiment. Though in a hospital ward where death was a daily reality and prognosis grim, we were devastated and even angry at the doctor’s recommendation of Hospice care. At that one word, we were forced to admit what we were trying to ignore. Yet this was arguably one of the last gifts we received. We were forced to remember the hope we had long professed but altogether misplaced in the halls of medicine.

In a conversation with my mother once about medical ethics, I was surprised to hear her comparison of her work as a nurse in the hospital as opposed to work in a nursing home. She said surprisingly there really was not much of a difference in the attitudes toward death and dying. Though in a place where patients were far more openly facing their final days, death was still ignored by patients and families, care was rarely addressed in terms of providing for a good death, and aging and dying were realities slow to set in. In fact, even the terminology and goals of treatment were still focused on curing as opposed to palliative care. As nurses they were required to write up plans for improvement for each resident, and despite illness or age very few had “do not resuscitate” orders.

If we spend our whole lives trying to forget the reality of death, it follows that being near death would not necessarily change our vision or jolt our memory. As Kass observes, “In parallel with medical progress, a new moral sensibility has developed that serves precisely medicine’s crusade against mortality: Anything is permitted if it saves life, cures disease, prevents death.”(5) But the incoherence of this medical philosophy even beside the weakest, most ailing patients shouts of the need for some hard questions and a call to remember: Is our obsession with youth a celebration of life or a denial of life’s end? What is a good death? Does it involve an acceptance of immortality? And for those who profess to remember Jesus, those who follow one who died and was buried, do we really answer counterculturally?

In this world confused about life and death, participants in Christ’s story are people who can mourn and lament, who can weep at gravesides and in cancer wards, who can decline treatment when it ceases to give life, and embrace death when it draws near. What does it look like to live and die as those who follow the one who rose above the seeming victory of the grave? This one, I would argue, is the one we do well to remember with all that is in us, wherever we stand.

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

(1) Isaiah 46:8-10.

(2) Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

(3) Allen Verhey, Remembering Jesus: Christian Community, Scripture, and the Moral Life (Grand Rapids: Eerdman’s, 2002), 90.

(4) “Go Gently into That Good Night,” Christianity Today, Jan. 2, 2007.

(5) Ibid.


Alistair Begg – Citizens of Heaven


Fellow citizens with the saints.

Ephesians 2:19

What is meant by our being citizens in heaven? It means that we are under heaven’s government. Christ, the King of Heaven, reigns in our hearts; our daily prayer is, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”1 The proclamations issued from the throne of glory are freely received by us: The decrees of the Great King we cheerfully obey.

Then as citizens of the New Jerusalem, we share heaven’s honors. The glory that belongs to beatified saints belongs to us, for we are already sons of God, already princes of the blood imperial; already we wear the spotless robe of Jesus’ righteousness; already we have angels for our servants, saints for our companions, Christ for our Brother, God for our Father, and a crown of immortality for our reward. We share the honors of citizenship, for we have come to the general assembly and the Church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.

As citizens, we have common rights to all the property of heaven. Ours are its gates of pearl and walls of chrysolite, ours the azure light of the city that needs no candle nor light of the sun, ours the river of the water of life and the twelve kinds of fruit that grow on the trees planted on its banks; there is nothing in heaven that does not belong to us. “The present or the future”2-all is ours.

Also as citizens of heaven we enjoy its delights. Do they rejoice in heaven over sinners that repent-prodigals who have returned? So do we. Do they chant the glories of triumphant grace? We do the same. Do they cast their crowns at Jesus’ feet? Such honors we have we cast there too. Are they charmed with His smile? It is just as sweet to us who live below. Do they look forward, waiting for His second advent? We also look and long for His appearing. If, then, we are citizens of heaven, let our walk and actions be consistent with our high dignity.

1) Matthew 6:10

2) 1 Corinthians 3:22

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

Charles Spurgeon – The call of Abraham


“By faith Abraham when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.” Hebrews 11:8

Suggested Further Reading: John 10:1-6

Follow the guide of divine providence and precept, lead it wherever it may. Let us follow the Shepherd, with a ready mind, because he has a perfect right to lead us wherever he pleases. We are not our own, we are bought with a price. If we were our own, we might be discontented with our circumstances, but since we are not, let this be our cry, “Do what thou wilt, O Lord, and though thou slay me, yet will I trust in thee;” we are not true to our profession of being Christians, if we pick and choose for ourselves. Picking and choosing are great enemies to submission. In fact, they are not at all consistent with it. If we are really Christ’s Christians, let us say, “It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good.” And then in the next place we ought to submit because wherever he may lead us, if we do not know where we go, we do know one thing, we know with whom we go; we do not know the road, but we do know the guide. We may feel that the journey is long, but we are quite sure that the everlasting arms that carry us are strong enough, even if the journey is very long. We do not know what may be the inhabitants of the land into which we may come, Canaanites or not; but we do know that the Lord our God is with us, and he shall surely deliver them into our hands. Another reason why we should follow with simplicity and faith all the commands of God, is this, because we may be quite sure they shall all end well. They may not be well apparently while they are going on, but they will end well at last.

For meditation: God is well able to guide his children in the right way (Isaiah 30:21); we know the one who is the Way himself (John 14:4-6).

Sermon no. 261

10 July (1859)

John MacArthur – The Sacrifice of Praise


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

Praise consists of reciting God’s attributes and mighty works.

“Praise the Lord” is a common expression today. Some see it as a catchy slogan, others commercialize it, still others reduce it to nothing more than “P.T.L.” But despite such attempts to trivialize it, praising the Lord remains the believer’s expression of love and gratitude to a God who has been abundantly gracious to him. That was the cry of David’s heart when he said, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear it and rejoice. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together” (Ps. 34:1-3). That will be the song of believers for time and eternity!

God desires and deserves your praise. That’s why Hebrews 13:15 says, “Through [Christ] . . . let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” But what is praise? Is it merely saying “praise the Lord” over and over again, or is there more to it?

Two aspects of praise are obvious in Scripture. First is reciting God’s attributes. That was the typical means of praise in the Old Testament. For example, Psalm 104 says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, Thou art very great; Thou art clothed with splendor and majesty, covering Thyself with light as with a cloak” (vv. 1-2).

The second aspect of praise is reciting God’s works. Psalm 107:21-22 says, “Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men! Let them also offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of His works with joyful singing.”

Praise involves reciting God’s attributes from a heart of love, giving Him honor and reverence for who He is. It also involves reciting what He has done on behalf of His people. Your praise should follow the same pattern so it will be an acceptable spiritual sacrifice to your loving God.

Suggestions for Prayer

Read Psalm 103 as a prayer of praise to God.

For Further Study

Scripture mentions other spiritual sacrifices that believers should offer. Read Romans 15:16, Ephesians 5:2, Philippians 4:10-18, Hebrews 13:16, and Revelation 8:3, noting what those sacrifices are.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – We Are Held Securely


“No one who has become part of God’s family makes a practice of sinning, for Christ, God’s Son, holds him securely and the devil cannot get his hands on him” (1 John 5:18).

“I am enjoying my new-found liberty. I know that I am a Christian. I know that I am going to heaven, but for the moment I want to do my own thing. I recognize that the Lord may discipline me for the things that I am doing which the Bible says are wrong. I was reared in a very strict, legalistic Christian family and church and I have never enjoyed life before, but now I am having a ball. I don’t see anything wrong with drinking and sex and the other so-called sins that I have been told all my life were so terribly wrong.”

Do you believe that person is a Christian? Of course I have no way of judging, but according to the Word of God it is quite likely that this person has never really experienced a new birth. Can you imagine a beautiful butterfly going back to crawl in the dirt as it did as a caterpillar?

It is possible of course, for a Christian, one who has experienced new life in Christ, to sin, and even to continue in sin for a period of time, but never with a casual, flippant indifference to God’s way as this person expressed.

In the second chapter of the same epistle, the writer says the same thing in different words: “How can we be sure that we belong to Him? By looking within ourselves: are we really trying to do what He wants us to? Someone may say, ‘I am a Christian; I am on my way to heaven; I belong to Christ.’ But if he doesn’t do what Christ tells him to do, he is a liar. But those who do what Christ tells them to will learn to love God more and more. That is the way to know whether or not you are a Christian. Anyone who says he is a Christian should live as Christ did” (1 John 2:3-6).

Though it is not possible for us in this life to know the perfection that our Lord experienced, there will be that heartfelt desire to do what He wants us to do. Therefore, anyone who is a child of God will not make a practice of sinning. Those who are inclined should consider the possibility that they could be forever separated from God on judgement day.

Bible Reading: I John 5:1-21

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I am assured of my own salvation through faith in Christ which is demonstrated by the transformation of my attitudes and actions. I will encourage professing Christians, whose lives do not reflect God’s desires, to appropriate by faith the fullness of the Holy Spirit and His power in their daily walk so that they, too, can have the assurance of their salvation and their place in God’s special kingdom.

Presidential Prayer Team; J.K. – Which Will It Be?


Business tycoon and billionaire Howard Hughes came from a long line of preachers, but you would never have known it at the end of his life. It took one generation for him to separate himself from the religious identity of his family and become entwined with the world’s pleasures. It cost him his mental, physical and spiritual well-being.

Tell the next generation that this is God, our God forever and ever.

Psalm 48:13-14

One generation believing that they can do what is right in their own eyes, or one generation that will grab on to a faith in Christ that cannot be shaken. Which will it be for today? Blogger Jayne Fossett wrote, “We must embed the gospel so deep within our conscience that it transforms the way we think, which, in turn, will transform the way we live.”

Talk of your faith to your children and your friends by celebrating all that God has done for you. Tell them of His goodness, His grace…and the freedom you have in obeying and trusting Him. Encourage this generation to see God’s hand in their lives, making Him the firm foundation that is forever. Then intercede for the leaders of this land…that they may seek the God of their fathers.

Recommended Reading: Isaiah 51:1-6

Greg Laurie – The Truth about Lying


“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” – Exodus 20:16

There are times when it is hard for us to tell the truth. I am not talking about telling a bold-faced lie. Rather, I am talking about those situations in which it’s difficult to tell the truth because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings.

There are many ways we can lie. For example, think of those times when someone asks for your opinion on something. “What do you think?” they will say.

So you might tell a little white lie. “Well, I have never seen anything quite like it!” or “That’s one of the most fascinating performances I’ve ever seen!”

Then there are those instances when someone calls, and you don’t want to answer the phone. So you say, “Tell them I’m not home.”

What about those times when you say, “I forgot,” and you didn’t forget, or “It was the traffic,” and it wasn’t the traffic, or “I am so glad you called. I was just getting ready to call you,” and you weren’t.

There are other ways we can lie as well, and that is through gossip. Gossip topples governments, wrecks marriages, ruins careers, destroys reputations, and causes nightmares. It spawns suspicions and generates grief. Even the very word hisses when we say it: gossip. It really is from the Serpent. Proverbs 20:19 says, “He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets; Therefore do not associate with one who flatters with his lips.”

A helpful principle before you repeat something can be summed up in one word: THINK. Ask yourself these questions the next time you’re about to repeat information:

T—Is it truthful? Are you sure it’s true?

H—Is it helpful?

I—Is it inspiring?

N—Is it necessary?

K—Is it kind?

If it doesn’t pass that test, then don’t say it.

Max Lucado – God in the Crisis


Calamities can leave us off balance and confused. Consider the crisis of Joseph’s generation as recorded in Genesis 47. “Now there was no bread in all the land; for the famine was very severe, so that the land of Canaan languished because of the famine.” Joseph faced a calamity on a global scale. Joseph told his brothers, “God sent me before you to preserve life. For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. And God sent me before you.” Joseph began and ended his crisis with God. God preceded the famine. God would outlive the famine.

How would you describe your crisis? Do you recite your woes more naturally than you do heaven’s strength? You are assuming God isn’t in the crisis. He is. Even a famine was fair game for God’s purpose!

From You’ll Get Through This

Night Light for Couples – I’m Third


from the Denver Post

Out of the sun, packed in a diamond formation and flying as one that day, the Minute Men dove at nearly the speed of sound toward a tiny emerald patch on Ohio’s unwrinkled crazy quilt below. It was a little after nine on the morning of June 7, 1958, and the destination of the Air National Guard’s jet precision team was the famed Wright‐Patterson Air Force Base, just outside Dayton.

On the ground, thousands of faces looked upward as Colonel Walt Williams, leader of the Denver‐based Sabrejet team, gauged a high‐speed pull‐out. For the Minute Men pilots—Colonel Williams, Captain Bob Cherry, Lieutenant Bob Odle, Captain John Ferrier, and Major Win Coomer—the maneuver was routine, for they had given their show hundreds of times before millions of people.

Low across the fresh, green grass the jet stream streaked, far ahead of the noise of the planes’ own screaming engines. Judging his pull‐up, Colonel Williams pressed the microphone button on top of his throttle: “Smoke on—now!” The diamond of planes pulled straight up into the turquoise sky, a bush tail of white smoke pluming out behind. The crowd gasped as the four ships suddenly split apart, rolling to the four points of the compass and leaving a beautiful, smoky fleur‐de‐lis inscribed on the heavens. This was the Minute Men’s famed “flower burst” maneuver. For a minute the crowd relaxed, gazing at the tranquil beauty of the huge, white flower that had grown from the lush Ohio grasslands to fill the great bowl of sky.

Out on the end of his stem of the flower, Colonel Williams turned his Sabre hard, cut off the smoke trail, and dropped the nose of his F86 to pick up speed for the low‐altitude crossover maneuver. Then, glancing back over his shoulder, he froze in terror. Far across the sky to the east, John Ferrier’s plane was rolling. He was in trouble. And his plane was headed right for the small town of Fairborn, on the edge of Patterson Field. In a moment, the lovely morning had turned to horror. Everyone saw; everyone understood. One of the planes was out of control.

Steering his jet in the direction of the crippled plane to race after it, Williams radioed urgently, “Bail out, John! Get out of there!” Ferrier still had plenty of time and room to eject safely. Twice more Williams issued the command: “Bail out, Johnny! Bail out!”

Each time, Williams was answered only by a blip of smoke.

He understood immediately. John Ferrier couldn’t reach the mike button on the throttle because both hands were tugging on a control stick locked in full‐throw right. But the smoke button was on the stick, so he was answering the only way he could—squeezing it to tell Walt he thought he could keep his plane under enough control to avoid crashing into the houses of Fairborn.

Suddenly, a terrible explosion shook the earth. Then came a haunting silence. Walt Williams continued to call through the radio, “Johnny? Are you there? Captain, answer me!”

No response.

Major Win Coomer, who had flown with Ferrier for years, both in the Air National Guard and with United Airlines, and who had served a combat tour with him in Korea, was the first Minute Man to land. He raced to the crash scene, hoping to find his friend alive.

Instead, he found a neighborhood in shock from the awful thing that had happened. Captain John T. Ferrier’s Sabrejet had hit the ground midway between four houses, in a backyard garden. It was the only place where he could have crashed without killing people. The explosion had knocked a woman and several children to the ground, but no one had been hurt, with the exception of Johnny Ferrier. He had been killed instantly.

A steady stream of people began coming to Coomer as he stood in his flying suit beside the smoking, gaping hole in the ground where his best friend had just died.

“A bunch of us were standing together, watching the show,” an elderly man with tears in his eyes told Coomer. “When the pilot started to roll, he was headed straight for us. For a second, we looked right at each other. Then he pulled up right over us and put it in there.”

In deep humility, the old man whispered, “This man died for us.”

Looking ahead…

A few days after this tragic accident, John Ferrier’s wife, Tulle, found a worn card in his billfold. On it were the words “I’m Third.” That simple phrase exemplified the life—and death—of this courageous man. For him, God came first, others second, and himself third.

True to his philosophy, John Ferrier sacrificed his life for people he had never met. If you ever found yourself in a similar situation, would you do the same? In the coming week we’re going to ask how one develops the attitude of a servant.

– James C. Dobson

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

C.S. Lewis Daily – Today’s Reading On the present moment


Never, in peace or war, commit your virtue or your happiness to the future. Happy work is best done by the man who takes his long-term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment “as to the Lord.” It is only our daily bread that we are encouraged to ask for. The present is the only time in which any duty can be done or any grace received.

From The Weight of Glory

Compiled in Words to Live By