Charles Stanley – Seeing Adversity from God’s Viewpoint

 

Isaiah 55:8-9

When adversity hits you like a ton of bricks, it could easily throw you into a pit of discouragement and despair. Although you may regard difficulties as setbacks, the Lord sees them as times for great advancement. His purpose in allowing them is not to destroy you but to stimulate your spiritual growth. In His great wisdom, the Lord knows how to take an awful situation and use it to transform you into the image of Christ and equip you to carry out His will.

Every adversity that comes into your life is sifted through God’s permissive will. That doesn’t mean the difficulty itself is His perfect will, but He’s allowed the trial to touch you so that He can use it to accomplish His wonderful purposes for your life. Although some of the suffering we see and experience seems senseless or blatantly evil, we must recognize that we have a very limited perspective and cannot always understand what the Lord is doing.

Our heavenly Father sees every aspect of life, but our view is restricted to what is right before us. His plans include not only you but also all of His creation, and they reach from the beginning of time to eternity. Though we’ll never grasp the infinite mind of God, we can know His faithfulness and love.

When you can’t understand God’s ways, focus on His perfect knowledge, wisdom, and power rather than the magnitude of your sorrow. Remember, He sees the entire picture and loves you more than you can imagine. This is a time to walk by faith, as perfect understanding comes only in heaven.

Bible in One Year: Proverbs 29-31

Our Daily Bread — A Given Name

 

Read: Matthew 1:18-25

Bible in a Year: Psalms 16-17; Acts 20:1-16

She will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. —Matthew 1:21

Most families have their own family stories. One in our family has to do with how I got my name. Apparently, when my parents were in the early days of their marriage, they disagreed about what to name their first son. Mom wanted a son named after Dad, but Dad wasn’t interested in naming a son “Junior.” After much discussion, they reached a compromise, agreeing that only if a son was born on Dad’s birthday would he be given Dad’s name. Amazingly, I was born on my dad’s birthday. So I was given his name with a “Junior” attached to it.

The naming of children is as old as time. As Joseph wrestled with the news that his fiancée, Mary, was pregnant, the angel brought him insight from the Father about naming the Baby: “She will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). Not only would Jesus be His name, but it would also explain the reason for His coming into the world: To take on Himself the punishment we deserve for our sin. His redemptive purpose behind the manger is wrapped up in the perfectly given Name above all names.

May our heart’s desire be to live in a way that honors His wonderful name! —Bill Crowder

Thank You, Father, for sending Your Son to rescue us from sin and bring us into relationship with You.

Jesus: His name and His mission are one and the same.

INSIGHT: The Bible contains more than 200 names for Jesus. In today’s passage we see two of them—Jesus and Immanuel—both drawn from the Old Testament. Jesus, the Greek form of the Hebrew word Joshua, means “the Lord saves” and describes what He came to do: “He will save His people from their sins” (v. 21). This phrase comes from Psalm 130:7-8 where Israel is encouraged to “put [their] hope in the Lord. . . . He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins” (niv). Immanuel is an Old Testament name mentioned in the prophecy of Isaiah (7:14; 8:8) and describes His nature: He is “God with us” (Matt. 1:23).

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – What Is Faith?

 

“Faith is believing what you want to believe, yet cannot prove.”

Sadly, many people, including some Christians, live with this definition of faith. For some it feels liberating. It means being able to believe in anything you want to believe. No explanation is required, indeed, no explanation can be given; it is just a matter of faith. For others, such a definition is sickening. Embracing faith means you stop thinking. As faith increases, reason and meaning eventually disappear. No explanations can be given, and none can be expected. Thus, living in faith is living in the dark.

For both groups, the problem is the same. By starting with the wrong definition of faith, they have asked the wrong question, are dealing with the wrong problem, and so have ended up with the wrong answer. Faith is not wishful thinking. It is not about believing in things that do not exist. It neither makes all things believable nor meaning impossible.

So what is the right definition of faith? “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” writes the author of Hebrews. A few verses later faith is similarly defined as knowing that God exists and that God rewards those who earnestly seek Him.

Perhaps the best word we can use to translate the Greek word “pistis” (usually translated faith) is the word “trust” or “trustworthy.” Suppose you tell a friend that you have faith in her. What does that mean? It means two things. First, you are sure the person you are talking to actually exists. And second, you are convinced she is trustworthy; you can believe what she says and trust in her character.

It is in this way that the writer of Hebrews talks about faith in God. Faith is knowing that God is real and that you can trust in God’s promises. You cannot trust someone who isn’t there, nor can you rely on someone whose promises are not reliable. This is why faith is talked about as the substance of things hoped for and as the evidence of things not seen. Both words carry with them a sense of reality. Our hope is not wishful thinking. Faith does not make God real. On the contrary, faith is the response to a real God who wants to be known to us:

“I am the Lord, and there is no other;

besides me there is no god.

I arm you, though you do not know me,

so that they may know, from the rising of the sun

and from the west, that there is no one besides me;

I am the Lord, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:5-6).

Ever since the church began, the refrain has always been the same: Come, believe, follow the light of the world. It has never appealed for people to leap into the dark; no such invitation is found anywhere in Scripture. Instead, we are called to step into the light. The Christian gospel is not a message that revels in ignorance. It is the revelation of God in the person of Christ, so that we might know there is no other. The Christian is called to see things as they really are, and not as she would simply like them to be. We trust in a God who has been revealed to us in the Son and the Spirit. We believe because God is real.

The Christian gospel invites you to delve into reality. It commands you to be honest in your commitment to know that which is true. Is Jesus real? Who did he claim to be? Is he really alive today? Faith comes in response to knowing the answers to these questions, even as Christ is calling you near. But don’t stop after the initial introductions! Just as you are able to put more trust in someone as you grow to know him, so faith increases as you grow in your relationship with Christ. There is a God who is real and true; there is a God who is near and longing to gather you nearer. The great joy of the Christian faith is found in the person who invites us to trust and believe.

Michael Ramsden is European director of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in the United Kingdom.

 

Alistair Begg – Depend Fully on Jesus

 

Morning by morning they gathered it.

Exodus 16:21

Work hard to maintain a sense of your entire dependence upon the Lord’s good will and pleasure for the continuance of your richest enjoyments. Never try to live on the old manna, nor seek to find help in Egypt. All must come from Jesus or you are undone forever. Old anointings will not suffice to impart unction to your spirit; your head must have fresh oil poured upon it from the golden horn of the sanctuary, or it will cease from its glory.

Today you may be upon the summit of the mount of God, but He who has put you there must keep you there or you will sink far more speedily than you imagine. Your mountain only stands firm when He settles it in its place; if He hides His face, you will soon be troubled. If the Savior should see fit, there is not a window through which you see the light of heaven that He could not darken in an instant. Joshua bade the sun stand still, but Jesus can shroud it in total darkness. He can withdraw the joy of your heart, the light of your eyes, and the strength of your life; in His hand your comforts lie, and at His will they can depart from you.

Our Lord is determined that we shall feel and recognize this hourly dependence, for He only permits us to pray for “daily bread,” and only promises that our strength will be equal to our days. Is it not best for us that it should be so, that we may often repair to His throne and constantly be reminded of His love?

Oh, how rich the grace that supplies us so continually and does not refrain itself because of our ingratitude! The golden shower never ceases; the cloud of blessing tarries evermore above our dwelling. O Lord Jesus, we would bow at Your feet, conscious of our utter inability to do anything without You, and in every favor that we are privileged to receive, we would adore Your blessed name and acknowledge Your unexhausted love.

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

Charles Spurgeon – The ceremony of laying the first stone of the New Tabernacle, 16 August 1859

 

Suggested Reading: 3 John: 5-11

We believe in what are called the five great points commonly known as Calvinistic; but we do not regard those five points as being barbed shafts which we are to push into the bowels of Christendom. We look upon them as being five great lamps which help to illuminate the cross, or rather five bright emanations springing from the glorious covenant of our Triune God, and illustrating the great doctrine of Jesus crucified. Against all comers, especially against all lovers of Arminianism, we defend and maintain pure gospel truth. At the same time I can make this public declaration, that I am no Antinomian. I do not belong to the sect of those who are afraid to invite the sinner to Christ. I warn him, I invite him, I exhort him. Hence, then, I have reproach on either hand. Inconsistency is urged by some, as if anything that God commanded could be inconsistent. I will glory in such inconsistency even to the end. I bind myself precisely to no form of doctrine. I love those five points as being the angles of the gospel, but then I love the centre between the angles better still. Moreover, we are Baptists, and we cannot swerve from this matter of discipline, nor can we make our church half-and-half in that matter. The witness of our church must be one and indivisible. We must have one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. And yet dear to our hearts is that great article of the Nicene Creed, the “Communion of Saints.” I do not believe in the communion of Episcopalians. I do not believe in the communion of Baptists. I dare not sit with them exclusively. I think I should be almost strict communicant enough not to sit with them at all, because I should say, “This is not the communion of saints, it is the communion of Baptists.” Whosoever loves the Lord Jesus Christ in verity and truth has a hearty welcome, and is not only permitted, but invited to communion with the Church of Christ.

For meditation: What binds you to others in fellowship? Oneness in the great fundamentals of the Gospel? Or a man-made grouping? The first would make you like Spurgeon, the second can easily lead to the extremes of unequal ecumenism or schism.

Part of nos. 268-70

16 July

John MacArthur – Set Apart for God

 

“You are . . . a holy nation” (1 Pet. 2:9).

Holiness involves the decreasing frequency of sin and the increasing frequency of righteousness.

Christians are a holy nation—a people set apart from sin and hell to an intimate relationship with God. Originally Israel was God’s holy nation, but by unbelief she forfeited that privilege. Now the church, which consists of both Jew and Gentile, is His unique people, and will remain so until the nation of Israel repents and receives her Messiah at His return (Zech. 12:10).

Biblical holiness (sanctification) is often misunderstood, but it needn’t be. When the Holy Spirit delivered you from the domain of darkness and transferred you into the kingdom of Christ, you became His special possession. That doesn’t mean you’re sinlessly perfect, but it does mean you’re no longer a slave to sin, the devil, and death. That’s positional sanctification. Practical sanctification is the decreasing frequency of sin and the increasing frequency of righteousness as you progress in your Christian walk.

Sanctification should not be confused with false standards of holiness, adopted by those who, like the Pharisees, attempt to be holy through external means; or, like the Stoics, have a passionless devotion to duty; or, like monks, isolate themselves from the world; or, like the quasi-Christian psychologists, replace sanctification with introspection, self-analysis, and improvement of one’s self-image.

True holiness begins with a love for Christ Himself. That’s what compels you toward greater sanctification. Peter said that you were “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:1-2). Christ Himself became to you “wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30). In Him you were saved, which is the beginning of sanctification, and in Him you have every resource necessary for progressing in holiness.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for your positional holiness in Christ, for by it you are perfect in His sight.
  • Thank Him for the Spirit’s power in your life, which enables you to live in a manner pleasing to Him.

For Further Study

What do these passages say about sanctification: Acts 15:7- 9, 1 Thessalonians 4:3, Hebrews 10:14, and 1 Peter 1:15-16?

Joyce Meyer – Go with the Flow

 

Brethren, for this reason, in [spite of all] our stress and crushing difficulties we have been filled with comfort and cheer about you [because of] your faith (the leaning of your whole personality on God in complete trust and confidence). – 1 Thessalonians 3:7

Go with the flow, and stop being anxious about things that may never happen. If you really trust God, you don’t need a backup plan. Faith means that you have peace even when you don’t have all the answers.

Life will always be stressful if you constantly try to rearrange it. For example, getting upset in a traffic jam doesn’t get you out of it any sooner. But planning for obstacles will inspire you to leave a little earlier for your appointments and keep you from hurrying. Grow in wisdom, and place high priority on keeping your peace in spite of any jams you get into today.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – No Hurt in Second Death

 

“Let everyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches; He who is victorious shall not be hurt by the Second Death” (Revelation 2:11).

I find great comfort in the promises of God’s word, and this is another that makes a positive assurance to use: we shall not be hurt by the Second Death.

But just what is meant by the term Second Death? It would seem to mean that the conqueror shall not have anything to fear in the future world. The punishment of hell is sometimes called death – not in the sense that the soul will cease to exist, but because death is the most fearful thing we know about, and there is a striking similarity in many respects between death and future punishment.

As death cuts us off from life, so the second death cuts one off from eternal life. Death puts an end to all our earthly hopes, and the second death to all hope forever. Death is accompanied by terrors and alarms, which are only faint emblems of the coming terror in the world of woe.

This promise of no harm for us in the second death really is all that is necessary to sustain us in our trials. Nothing else is needed to make the burdens of life tolerable but this assurance that the end of our earthly journey will bring us to the close of suffering. No power can harm us beyond the grave.

We have no promise that we shall not die, but we do have this glorious assurance that nothing beyond that will ever hurt us. Meanwhile, we are expected to listen – and to be faithful.

Bible Reading: John 8:21-25

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Knowing that nothing beyond the grave will ever hurt me, I will make this present life count for Christ and His kingdom.

 

Presidential Prayer Team; J.R. – Commitment in Crisis

 

For years Tim Lee had been, in his words, running from God. But on an abandoned road in Vietnam one morning, he stepped on a land mine. “My boot landed squarely on what felt like a miniature volcano. A deafening blast rammed through my body…in a weak, barely audible voice I prayed, ‘Oh no! God, not my legs…Lord…please…God get me home to Mom and Dad…I’ll do whatever you want me to do.’”

Then we shall not turn back from you; give us life, and we will call upon your name!

Psalm 80:18

Gravely injured, legs severed and bleeding profusely, Lee would survive – against the odds. And unlike many who utter heavenly commitments in a crisis only to forget them later, he made good on his promise to the Lord. After he returned from Vietnam, Lee surrendered his life to the ministry. Today, he still preaches around the world…from his wheelchair.

“Give us life,” the Psalmist begged God, “and we will call upon your name!” Wherever you’ve been, whatever you’ve done, this day is a one-time gift you have been given and will never have again. May you be a shining testimony to freedom in God as you serve Him and pray for the nation and its leaders.

Recommended Reading: I Timothy 2:1-8

Greg Laurie –What Grieves God

 

“And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” —Genesis 6:6

One day the Lord’s disciples came to Him with this question: “What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3).

Jesus answered, “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (verses 37–39).

In this significant statement, Jesus not only was verifying the historicity of the Flood spoken of in Genesis, but He also was encouraging us to look carefully at the way things were before the Flood came, because these are characteristics that will be prevalent in the time before He comes again.

There are some striking parallels between Noah’s time and our time. Noah was living in his last days. He was living in a time right before judgment came in the form of the Flood. And we are living in the last days, the time before the judgment that will come during the Great Tribulation.

As Genesis 6 opens, things had gone from bad to worse on Planet Earth. The Bible tells us, “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart” (verses 5–6).

God was grieved that His creation was living that way. This shows the heartache of God over the rebellion and wickedness of men and women.

Max Lucado – Lift Your Eyes

 

You could read David’s story in the Bible and wonder what God saw in him. He fell as often as he stood, he stumbled as often as he conquered. Yet, for those who know the sound of a Goliath, David gives us this reminder: Focus on giants—you stumble. Focus on God—your giants tumble.

You know Goliath. You recognize his walk, his talk. David saw and heard more. David showed up and raised the subject of the living God. He saw the giant, mind you; he just saw God more so. Listen carefully to David’s battle cry: “You come to me with a sword, with a spear and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel” (1 Samuel 17:45).

Lift your eyes, giant-slayer. The God who made a miracle out of David stands ready to make one out of you!

From Facing Your Giants

Night Light for Couples –Willing Sacrifice

 

“Love is patient, love is kind…. It is not self-seeking.” 1 Corinthians 13:4–5

Nothing does more for a marriage than the willing sacrifices made by one spouse for the other. I remember an example of this from early in our marriage. Jim and I were both teaching elementary school, and we often stayed up late during the week to grade papers. Then on the weekends, Jim spent long hours studying as he pursued his doctoral degree. I was a good sport about it, but it wasn’t easy. All our friends were fixing up their homes, buying furniture, going out for dinner, taking vacations, and having children.

Shortly after Jim began his graduate work, he told me that he realized what a difficult time it was for me. He felt that his studies were beginning to interfere with our marriage and that, as he put it, “nothing is worth that price.” He decided to postpone working on his degree so we could spend more time together. He took a very light load of classwork that semester so we could “reconnect” emotionally. I will always love and respect Jim for making that choice. He cared more about me than his personal ambition and career!

I’m sure that Tulle Ferrier, the wife of the doomed pilot, never forgot the sacrifices that must have been part of her marriage with her husband, John. I’m sure she didn’t want to lose him in that terrible crash. But I also imagine that she must have loved and appreciated living with a man who had his priorities in order—God first, others second, and self third—and that she wouldn’t have changed him for the world. That is, I believe, the essence of a successful marriage.

Shirley M Dobson

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