Charles Stanley – Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

 

Psalm 139:1-10

When God looked at the world He’d made, He declared it good. Genesis 1:27 summarizes the crowning achievement of His creative work: “God created man in His own image . . . male and female He created them.” Psalm 139 reminds us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

The Lord has given each of His children great potential for service in His kingdom. However, some of us have serious doubts that this is true. When we compare ourselves to other people, we notice the things we lack. At other times, we repeatedly criticize ourselves for mistakes we’ve made. How can we have awesome potential when we see so many ways in which we fall short? Consider these biblical examples:

Moses appeared to have many advantages while he was growing up in Pharaoh’s household. Then he killed an Egyptian and fled the country. No longer did he seem a likely candidate to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. But God looked beyond what Moses had done and saw who he could become.

Paul, prior to salvation, had vehemently persecuted those who believed in Jesus. Yet through God’s mercy, the apostle became a mighty evangelist and author of nearly a third of the New Testament.

Peter was a simple fisherman who denied—not once but three times—that he knew Jesus. Still, the Lord chose him to become the leader of the Jerusalem church.

Our Father sees beyond our human frailties to the potential we have in Christ. Because we were made in God’s image and His Spirit dwells in us, we have a greater capacity for spiritual transformation and service than we could imagine. Seek to become the person God has equipped you to be.

Bible in One Year:Isaiah 15-18

 

Our Daily Bread — A Devoted Heart

 

Read: 2 Chronicles 17:1-11

Bible in a Year: Psalms 40-42; Acts 27:1-26

He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. —2 Chronicles 20:32

A successful Christian businessman shared his story with us at church. He was candid about his struggles with faith and abundant wealth. He declared, “Wealth scares me!”

He quoted Jesus’ statement, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:25 niv). He cited Luke 16:19-31 about the rich man and Lazarus and how in this story it was the rich man who went to hell. The parable of the “rich fool” (Luke 12:16-21) disturbed him.

“But,” the businessman stated, “I’ve learned a lesson from Solomon’s verdict on the abundance of wealth. It’s all ‘meaningless’ ” (Eccl. 2:11 niv). He determined not to let wealth get in the way of his devotion to God. Rather, he wanted to serve God with his assets and help the needy.

Throughout the centuries, God has blessed some people materially. We read of Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 17:5, “The Lord established the kingdom . . . so that he had great wealth and honor.” He did not become proud or bully others with his wealth. Instead, “his heart was devoted to the ways of the Lord” (v. 6). Also, “he followed the ways of his father Asa and did not stray from them; he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” (20:32).

The Lord is not against wealth for He has blessed some with it—but He’s definitely against the unethical acquisition and wrong use of it. He is worthy of devotion from all His followers. —Lawrence Darmani

Giving thanks to God often helps us learn contentment with what we do have. What are you thankful for?

Wealth or no wealth, devoted hearts please the Lord.

INSIGHT: Jehoshaphat’s devotion to the Lord is evidenced by his obedience to God’s Word (17:4). He removed idols (v. 6) and sent teachers all over the country to teach the Scriptures (vv. 7-9). When in trouble, he trusted in God (20:6-12).

Alistair Begg – Faith and Virtue

 

Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, [etc.] 2 Peter 1:5-6

If you would enjoy the eminent grace of the full assurance of faith, under the blessed Spirit’s influence and assistance, do what the Scripture tells you: “Make every effort.” Take care that your faith is the right kind-that it is not a mere belief of doctrine, but a simple faith, depending on Christ and on Christ alone.

Pay careful attention to your courage. Plead with God that He would give you the face of a lion, that you may, with a consciousness of right, go on boldly. Study the Scriptures diligently and get knowledge; for a knowledge of doctrine will help a great deal to confirm faith. Try to understand God’s Word; let it dwell in your heart richly.

When you have done this, add to your “knowledge . . . self-control.” Pay attention to your body and soul. Be controlled in speech, life, heart, and thought. Add to this, by God’s Holy Spirit, patience; ask Him to give you that patience that endures affliction, which, when it is tried, will come forth as gold. Array yourself with patience, so that you do not murmur or be depressed in your afflictions.

When that grace is won, look to godliness. Godliness is something more than religion. Make God’s glory your object in life; live in His sight; dwell close to Him; seek fellowship with Him; then you will have “godliness”; and to that add brotherly love. Have a love for all the saints: And add to that a charity that opens its arms to all men and loves their souls. When you are adorned with these jewels, and just in proportion as you practice these heavenly virtues, you will come to know by clearest evidence “your calling and election.” “Make every effort,” if you would get assurance, for lukewarmness and doubting very naturally go hand in hand.

The Family Bible Reading Plan

  • Judges 9
  • Acts 13

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

Charles Spurgeon – A preacher from the dead

 

“And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” Luke 16:31

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Samuel 28:3-19

Spirit that hath returned from another world, tell me, how are men judged? Why are they condemned? Why are they saved? I hear him say, “Men are condemned because of sin. Read the ten commandments of Moses, and you will find the ten great condemnations whereby men are for ever cut off.” I knew that before, bright Spirit; thou hast told me nothing! “No,” says he, “and nothing can I tell.” “Because I was hungry, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was sick, and ye visited me not; I was in prison, and ye came not unto me; therefore, inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it not to me. Depart, ye cursed!” “Why, Spirit, was that the word of the king?” “It was” says he. “I have read that too; thou hast told me no more.” If you do not know the difference between right and wrong from reading the Scripture, you would not know it if a spirit should tell you; if you do not know the road to hell and the road to heaven from the Bible itself, you would never know it at all. No book could be more clear, no revelation more distinct, no testimony more plain. And since without the agency of the Spirit, these testimonies are insufficient for salvation, it follows that no further declaration would avail. Salvation is ascribed wholly to God, and man’s ruin only to man. What more could a spirit tell us, than a distinct declaration of these two great truths.—“O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help found!” Beloved, we do solemnly say again, that Holy Scripture is so perfect, so complete, that it cannot want the supplement of any declaration concerning a future state. All that you ought to know concerning the future you may know from Holy Scripture.

For meditation: The rich man in the account (not called a parable) given by Jesus was full of false doctrine—praying to a saint, seeking some kind of second chance after death, rejecting the sufficiency of Scripture (Luke 16:24,30). Note the place from which these doctrines come (1 Timothy 4:1; James 3:15).

Sermon no. 143

26 July (1857)

John MacArthur – Your Secure Inheritance

 

“To obtain an inheritance which is . . . reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet. 1:4-5).

Your eternal inheritance is doubly secure: it is reserved for you, and you are reserved for it.

When Peter wrote his first epistle, attitudes toward Christians in the Roman Empire were not at all favorable. Because they would not worship the emperor as a god, or enter into other sinful pagan practices, Christians were looked upon with suspicion and disdain. In addition, Nero had blamed them for burning Rome (an act he himself perpetrated), so anger and hatred toward them was at its peak.

Peter wrote to encourage them—and all believers—to live out their faith amid persecution, just as Jesus had done when He suffered unjustly (cf. 1 Pet. 2:21-23). He reminded them that despite the sufferings they might endure in this life, God will reward them with an inheritance that is eternally secure because it is reserved in heaven for them.

“Reserved” in 1 Peter 1:4 indicates an inheritance that already exists, is presently protected, and will continually be protected. The place of its protection is heaven, where “neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal” (Matt. 6:20), and where “nothing unclean and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever [enter], but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev. 21:27). There is no safer place!

Not only is your inheritance protected for you, but also you are protected for it! That’s what Peter meant when he said that it is “reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet. 1:4-5). The omnipotent, sovereign power of God will continually protect you until His work is fully accomplished in your life. Then He will grant you glorification: the fullness of the salvation for which He redeemed you.

You needn’t fear the loss of your inheritance. Instead, rejoice in the protection of our gracious God.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for His protection and for the assurance of your inheritance.

For Further Study

What do these verses teach about the security of your salvation: Romans 8:31-39, Philippians 1:6, and Jude 24?

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Promise of the Spirit

 

“And Peter replied, ‘Each one of you must turn from sin, return to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; then you also shall receive this gift, the Holy Spirit. For Christ promised Him to each one of you who has been called by the Lord our God and to your children and even those in distant lands!'” (Acts 2:38- 39).

The most important truth that I or anyone else could share with Christians is to help them understand the person and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. My own life was dramatically transformed when by faith I claimed the fullness and power of the Holy Spirit.

“One day in New York – what a day!” declared Dwight L. Moody. “I can’t describe it. I seldom refer to it. It is almost too sacred for me to name. I can only say that God revealed Himself to me. I had such an experience of love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand.

“I went to preaching again. The sermons were no different. I did not present any new truth. Yet hundreds were converted. I would not be back where I was before that blessed experience if you would give me Glasgow.”

The Holy Spirit is the key to revival. He is the key to revival because He is the key to supernatural living, and apart from living supernaturally – living in the fullness of the Holy Spirit – the believer has no power to introduce others to Christ and help fulfill the Great Commission.

The Holy Spirit is convicting many Christians of their lethargy, their coldness of heart and unbelief, the loss of their first love. A spiritual Mount St. Helens is about to erupt, spreading the good news of love and forgiveness of our Lord Jesus Christ far and wide through our land and the world. We shall see a resurgence in evangelism and a zeal unparalleled in church history as we endeavor – in the power of the Holy Spirit – to help fulfill the Great Commission.

Bible Reading: Acts 2:32-37

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I shall ask the Holy Spirit to empower and control my life so that I may be a part of a mighty spiritual awakening to help fulfill the Great Commission, beginning in my home, community and church in obedience to the Lord’s command.

Presidential Prayer Team; J.K. – Not in Vain

 

Alexander Hamilton, signer of the Constitution of the United States, was known for his efforts in securing ratification of the Constitution by the states. He did not take the credit, however. In 1787 he wrote, “For my own part, I sincerely esteem it a system which without the finger of God, never could have been suggested and agreed upon by such a diversity of interests.”

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.

Psalm 127:1

In context, today’s verse makes the same application…to your family, your occupation, or to the government of this nation. If God is not a part of your actions or decisions, the results of your labor are in vain. Likewise, the efforts of the nation’s leaders will fall woefully short if God’s direction is not sought or followed.

Certainly, if you are discouraged with rulings in this country, letters or phone calls to your representatives will help. But infinitely more powerful is prayer! A preacher during war time in the 1940s, E.C. Olsen, said, “I believe that our difficulties would soon be past if the godly people of this country would earnestly pray.” You cannot thwart the purposes of God, but He listened as Abraham prayed for Sodom, and He will listen to you.

Recommended Reading: Genesis 18:22-33

Night Light for Couples – Roman Bridges

 

“The winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” Matthew 7:25

Yesterday we talked about being committed to your partner for better and for worse. Another way to look at this issue was once related by the late Dr. Francis Schaeffer. He described the bridges that were built in Europe by the Romans in the first and second centuries A.D. The bridges still stand today, despite the unreinforced brick and mortar with which they were made, because they are used for nothing but foot traffic. If an eighteen‐wheel semi were driven across those historic structures, they would crumble in a cloud of dust and debris.

Marriages that lack an iron‐willed determination to hang together are like those Roman bridges. They appear to be secure and may indeed remain upright for many years—until they are put under heavy pressure. Then the supports split and the structure crumbles.

Is your marriage constructed to withstand unusual stress as well as normal wear? Take the time to install a proper foundation—the Lord Jesus Christ. Then build your relationship on habits and attitudes that will sustain it under heavy pressure.

Just between us…

  • Has there ever been a time when our marriage seemed less than solid?
  • Do we know a couple whose marriage has stayed secure under stress?
  • What’s their secret? Do we see any cracks—even tiny ones—beginning to appear in our marriage? What can we do to repair them?

Father, we turn to the unshakable truths of Your Word and the unfailing promise of Your presence to hold our marriage together. Thank You that we can live and love securely—even under stress—because You are in this marriage with us. Amen.

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

C.S. Lewis Daily – Today’s Reading

 

TO MARY WILLIS SHELBURNE: On rejoicing over answered prayer; and on our prayers being God’s prayers.

6 November 1953

Oh I am glad, I am glad. And here’s a thing worth recording. Of course I have been praying for you daily, as always, but latterly have found myself doing so with much more concern and especially about 2 nights ago, with such a strong feeling how very nice it would be, if God willed, to get a letter from you with good news. And then, as if by magic (indeed it is the whitest magic in the world) the letter comes to-day. Not (lest I should indulge in folly) that your relief had not in fact occurred before my prayer, but as if, in tenderness for my puny faith, God moved me to pray with especial earnestness just be- fore He was going to give me the thing. How true that our prayers are really His prayers: He speaks to Himself through us.

I am also most moved at hearing how you were supported through the period of anxiety. For one is sometimes tempted to think that if He wanted us to be as un-anxious as the lilies of the field He really might have given us a constitution more like theirs! But then when the need comes He carries out in us His otherwise impossible instructions. In fact He always has to do all the things—all the prayers, all the virtues. No new doctrine, but newly come home to me.

From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III

Compiled in Yours, Jack