Charles Stanley – Rebuilding Passion

 

1 Timothy 4:15

Just as people are drawn by the warmth and appeal of a fire on the hearth, non-believers will be attracted to Christians who are passionate for Jesus Christ. The Lord wants His followers to be a “city set on a hill” and the “light of the world,” shining brightly in the darkness with His love and message of redemption (Matt. 5:14-15; 28:19).

Yet, as we saw yesterday, it is possible for our “fire” to cool, which affects our witness. If this should happen to you, take steps to rekindle the flame of passion for your relationship with the Savior.

First, be aware of where you are: Is your walk with God less dynamic than it used to be? Then, recall where you once were—think back to what it was like when you had zeal for the Lord. Next, acknowledge that you’ve drifted. Ask God to speak to you, and read His Word expectantly. Spend time daily in prayer; don’t just list things you want, but express a desire to really know your heavenly Father. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you refocus your attention. Think about what life can be like when Jesus is at the center, and you will no longer be content with anything less than God’s best.

The apostle Paul gave Timothy instruction on living a life pleasing to the Father. Then He added the reminder to be “absorbed” in these things. We, too, should saturate our minds with the principles of God. The Lord desires that your faith have excitement. He will use your fervor to draw others to Himself—and to bless you in the process.

Bible in One Year:Isaiah 31-35

Our Daily Bread — Grey Power

 

Read: Joshua 14:6-12

Bible in a Year: Psalms 51-53; Romans 2

Just as my strength was then, so now is my strength. —Joshua 14:11

Dutch artist Yoni Lefevre created a project called “Grey Power” to show the vitality of the aging generation in the Netherlands. She asked local schoolchildren to sketch their grandparents. Lefevre wanted to show an “honest and pure view” of older people, and she believed children could help supply this. The youngsters’ drawings reflected a fresh and lively perspective of their elders—grandmas and grandpas were shown playing tennis, gardening, painting, and more!

Caleb, of ancient Israel, was vital into his senior years. As a young man, he infiltrated the Promised Land before the Israelites conquered it. Caleb believed God would help his nation defeat the Canaanites, but the other spies disagreed (Josh. 14:8). Because of Caleb’s faith, God miraculously sustained his life for 45 years so he might survive the wilderness wanderings and enter the Promised Land. When it was finally time to enter Canaan, 85-year-old Caleb said, “Just as my strength was then, so now is my strength” (v. 11). With God’s help, Caleb successfully claimed his share of the land (Num. 14:24).

God does not forget about us as we grow older. Although our bodies age and our health may fail, God’s Holy Spirit renews us inwardly each day (2 Cor. 4:16). He makes it possible for our lives to have significance at every stage and every age. —Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Heavenly Father, I know that my physical strength and health can fail. But I pray that You will continually renew me spiritually so I can serve You faithfully as long as I live.

With God’s strength behind you and His arms beneath you, you can face whatever lies ahead of you.

INSIGHT: Caleb was one of the 12 spies Moses sent to explore Canaan. Based on the report of ten of the spies, the Israelites concluded that they could not conquer the land (Num. 13-14). Caleb challenged their lack of faith (13:30; 14:6-9; Deut. 1:29-30). God took note of his faithfulness (Deut. 1:34-36), and he is consistently described as one who wholly followed the Lord (Num. 14:24; 32:12; Deut. 1:36, Josh. 14:8-9,14).

Ravi Zacharias Ministry –  Love That Followed

 

Writer Philip Yancey tells of his experience playing chess against a master player. He explains his rapid realization that no matter what move he made, no matter what strategy he chose, the master seemed to turn his play around to serve his own purposes. As I look back upon my life, it is so evident that the Master, that Hound of Heaven, has been on my trail, working all things out for God’s own ends—God’s own good and perfect ends, I might add.

In studying when the gospel first made inroads into my lineage, I have found that on both sides of my family, the first believers came from the highest cast of the Hindu priesthood six generations ago. The first Christian was a woman. She was interested in the message brought by missionaries, in spite of her family’s terrible displeasure. One day as she was about to leave the missionary compound in order to return home before her family found out, the doors of the compound were shut because of a cholera epidemic. Remaining with the missionaries until the time of the quarantine was past, she committed her life to God. Threat of disease and the walls of a closed compound were the freeing means of her coming to Christ.

Readers of English poetry will recall the turbulent life of Francis Thompson. His father wanted him to study at Oxford, but Francis lost his way in drugs and failed to make the grade time and again. This was a slumbering genius, if only his life could be rescued. When Francis finally succumbed to the pursuing Christ, he penned his immortal “Hound of Heaven”:

I fled Him down the nights and down the days.

I fled Him down the arches of the years.

I fled Him down the labyrinthine ways of my own mind:

And in the mist of tears

I hid from Him, and under running laughter

Up vistaed hopes I sped;

Down titanic glooms of chasmed fears

From those strong feet that followed, that followed after.

For though I knew His love that followed

Yet I was sore adread

Lest having Him I have naught else beside.

And he ends:

Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,

I am He whom thou seekest!

Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest me.

I am utterly convinced that neither walls nor unfortunate mishaps nor poor decisions can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. Perhaps you have noticed footprints of one following closely across your own life. Will you follow them?

Ravi Zacharias is founder and chairman of the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

Alistair Begg – Remember Failing and Grace

 

And Peter remembered…and he broke down and wept. Mark 14:72

It has been thought by some that as long as Peter lived, the fountain of his tears began to flow whenever he remembered that he had denied his Lord. It is not unlikely that it was so (for his sin was very great, and grace in him had afterwards a perfect work). This same experience is common to all the redeemed family according to the degree in which the Spirit of God has removed the natural heart of stone.

We, like Peter, remember our boastful promise: “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.”1 We eat our own words with the bitter herbs of repentance. When we think of what we vowed we would be and of what we have been, we may weep whole showers of grief. He remembered denying his Lord-the place in which he did it, the little cause that led him into such heinous sin, the oaths and blasphemies with which he sought to confirm his falsehood, and the dreadful hardness of heart that drove him to do so again and yet again. Can we, when we are reminded of our sins and their exceeding sinfulness, remain stolid and stubborn? Will we not make our house a place of sacrifice and cry to the Lord for renewed assurances of pardoning love?.

May we never take a dry-eyed look at sin, in case we discover our tongue parched in the flames of hell. Peter also remembered his Master’s look of love. The Lord followed up the rooster’s warning voice with an admonitory look of sorrow, pity, and love. That glance was never out of Peter’s mind so long as he lived. It was far more effectual than ten thousand sermons would have been without the Spirit. The penitent apostle would be sure to weep when he remembered the Savior’s full forgiveness, which restored him to his former place. To think that we have offended so kind and good a Lord is more than sufficient reason for being constant weepers. Lord, smite our rocky hearts, and make the waters flow.

1) Matthew 26:33

The Family Bible Reading Plan

  • Judges 13
  • Acts 17

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

Charles Spurgeon – Sin slain

 

“And, behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said unto him, Come, and I will shew thee the man whom thou seekest. And when he came into her tent, behold, Sisera lay dead, and the nail was in his temples.” Judges 4:22

Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 12:1-4

Rest not content till the blood of your enemy stains the ground, until he is crushed, and dead, and slain. Oh, sinner, I beseech you, never be content until grace reign in your heart, and sin is altogether subdued. Indeed, this is what every renewed soul longs for, and must long for, nor will it rest satisfied until all this shall be accomplished. There was a time when some of us thought we would slay our sins. We wanted to put them to death, and we thought we would drown them in floods of penitence. There was a time, too, when we thought we would starve our sins; we thought we would keep out of temptation, and not go and pander to our lusts, and then they would die; and some of us can recollect when we gagged our lusts, when we pinioned their arms, and put their feet in the stocks, and then thought that would deliver us. But brethren, all our ways of putting sin to death were not sufficient; we found the monster still alive, insatiate for his prey. We might rout his hired ruffians, but the monster was still our conqueror. We might put to flight our habits, but the nature of sin was still in us, and we could not overcome it. Yet did we groan and cry daily, “Oh wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” It is a cry to which we are accustomed even at this day, and which we shall never cease to utter, till we can say of our sins, “They are gone,” and of the very nature of sin, that it has been extinguished, and that we are pure and holy even as when the first Adam came from his Maker’s hands.

For meditation: We should never underestimate the power of sin, but we can never overestimate the power of the Lord Jesus Christ to conquer sin. Sin may remain, but it need not reign (Romans 6:12).

Sermon no. 337

30 July (Preached 29 July 1860)

John MacArthur – Enjoying Fellowship with Christ

 

“Though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Pet. 1:8).

Fellowship with Christ is built on love, trust, and obedience.

The recipients of 1 Peter, like us, had never seen Christ but they enjoyed fellowship with Him just the same. And their fellowship was genuine because it was marked by love, trust, and obedience.

The love Peter speaks of in 1 Peter 1:8 isn’t shallow emotionalism or sentimentality. It’s the love of the will— the love of choice. His readers had chosen to love Christ despite never having seen Him physically. Such love is marked by obedience, as Jesus affirms in John 14: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. . . . He who does not love Me does not keep My words” (vv. 15, 24). To have fellowship with Christ is to love and obey Him.

Another element of fellowship is trust. After hearing reports about Christ’s resurrection, the disciple Thomas declared that he would trust Jesus only after seeing and touching Him. Jesus honored his wishes, saying, “Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing” (John 20:27). But then Jesus said, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed” (v. 29). We as Christians are among those who believe in Christ, not having seen Him.

The result of loving and trusting Christ is “joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Pet. 1:8). This joy is something beyond the ability of speech and thought to convey. That’s obvious even on the human level—as evidenced by the thousands of songs that have attempted to communicate the joy of being in love. “Full of glory” refers to the divine element in Christian joy. It’s a supernatural endowment bestowed and energized by the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22).

Enjoying fellowship with Christ is one of the supreme privileges of your Christian life. Strengthen and enrich that fellowship by learning the Word and relying on the Spirit. As you do, you will learn to love and trust Christ more deeply.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to teach you how to love and trust Him more faithfully. Thank Him for the joy that comes as you do.

For Further Study

Memorize Matthew 22:37.

Joyce Meyer – The Power of a Surrendered Will

 

And the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach and cry out to it the preaching that I tell you.- Jonah 3:1-2

We read in the book of Jonah how God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach repentance to the people there. But Jonah did not want to, so he went to Tarshish, which is geographically opposite to Nineveh. Running from God does not help us to be at peace with Him.

What happens when we go in the opposite direction from where God has directed us? What happened to Jonah? When he boarded a ship and headed in his own direction, a storm arose. Many of the storms we face in life are the result of our own stubbornness. In many instances, we have been disobedient to the voice and leadership of God.

The violent storm that came upon Jonah frightened the men on the ship. They cast lots to see who was causing the trouble, and the lot fell on Jonah. He knew he had disobeyed God, so he told the men to throw him overboard in order to deliver them from danger.

They did as he requested, the storm stopped, and a great fish swallowed Jonah. From the fish’s belly (not a pleasant place), he cried out to God for deliverance and repented of his stubborn ways. The fish vomited Jonah upon the dry land; and in Jonah 3:1, we see that the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time. God told him again to go to Nineveh and preach to the people there. No matter how long we avoid God’s instruction, it is still there for us to deal with when we stop running.

God’s will makes us uncomfortable only as long as we are not pursuing it. In other words, we always know when something is just not right in our lives. Eventually we see that being in God’s will, not out of His will, is what brings peace and joy to us. We have to surrender our own wills, because walking in our self-centered ways is what keeps us unhappy.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Help for Hard Times

 

“He cares for them when times are hard; even in famine, they will have enough” (Psalm 37:19).

I recall that, in the early 1930’s during the time of the great depression in America, many people experienced hard times. It was not always easy to fully appreciate the fact I know now to be true: God always cares for His children.

“When times are hard” can refer not only to the material, but also to the physical and the spiritual. And during any of these times – whether in poverty, poor health or spiritual doldrums – our great God always cares for us.

In Bible times, God often proved the truth of the assertion that He cares for His people in periods of famine. And no doubt multitudes of sufferers around the world today would attest to that fact, in spite of their suffering.

When physical suffering is involved, it is not always easy to see the hand of God. But one sure way to increase faith is to exercise the sacrifice of praise – praise to our wonderful God for the positive fact that “all things do work together for our good if we love God and are called according to His purpose.”

When spiritual poverty is concerned, we need only retreat to that time and place in our lives where we wandered away from God, whatever degree of wandering that involves, whether large or small. “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”

Bible Reading: Psalm 37:16-22

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: At all times of difficulty in my life – spiritual, material, physical – I will look for God’s hand of blessing in the joyful assurance that He cares for me.

Presidential Prayer Team;  J.R.  – Conference Call Calamity

 

In an extraordinary and infamous 2013 conference call, the chief executive officer of mass media company AOL lost his temper…while 1,000 of his employees listened in astonishment. Two minutes into the call, Tim Armstrong became irritated when his creative director picked up a camera to video the meeting. “Abel, put that camera down right now! Abel, you’re fired. Out!” Sacking a key leader publicly and impulsively while the whole company listened clearly did nothing to improve employee morale. Armstrong later apologized, saying it was an “emotional response at the start of a difficult discussion dealing with many people’s careers and livelihood.”

The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

Psalm 145:8

Short-tempered bosses are common because short-tempered people are common. But there is One who is “gracious and merciful…slow to anger.” Isn’t it wonderful to know that God will not react impulsively to your sins and shortcomings?

You may be saddled with guilt or discouragement – perhaps over personal or family situations. And America, with her plummeting moral trajectory, may seem like a lost cause. But God is patient, not willing that any should perish, and there is yet time for change and transformation. May it begin today as you pray!

Recommended Reading: James 1:19-27

Greg Laurie –God’s Friends

 

“I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.” —John 15:15

We may look at the life of Moses in the Scriptures and say, “I wish I could have been Moses. I wish I could have a friendship with God like he had.”

But the friendship that a Christian can have with God is actually closer than the friendship Moses had with God.

Although Moses was God’s friend and was greatly used by Him in so many ways, Moses lived under the Old Covenant. Under the Old Covenant, God would manifest His presence in the tabernacle (and later in the temple), and the high priest would represent the people.

God was distant, even to those who were His friends, like Abraham and Moses. God revealed certain aspects of Himself to them, but He didn’t live inside of them.

The new covenant is different, however. Jesus died on the cross for us because Jesus is our Mediator between the Father and us. We don’t have to go through a high priest or any other person. We go directly to the Father through Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 10:19–20 puts it this way: “And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.”

Jesus said, “I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me” (John 15:15). You are a friend of God.

We don’t always understand Him, but He tells us to follow Him and obey Him because He loves every one of us. This God showed His love in a tangible way by sending His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins.

Night Light for Couples – A Perfect Affection

 

“What God has joined together, let man not separate.” Matthew 19:6

In earlier generations most folks accepted without question the concept of marriage as a lifetime commitment. My father‐in‐law, James Dobson Sr., was no exception. This is what he said to his fiancée after she agreed to become his wife:

I want you to understand and be fully aware of my feelings concerning the marriage covenant we are about to enter. I have been taught at my mother’s knee, in harmony with the Word of God, that the marriage vows are inviolable, and by entering into them I am binding myself absolutely and for life. The idea of estrangement from you through divorce for any reason at all [although God allows one—infidelity] will never at any time be permitted to enter into my thinking. I’m not naive in this. On the contrary, I’m fully aware of the possibility, unlikely as it now appears, that mutual incompatibility or other unforeseen circumstances could result in extreme mental suffering. If such becomes the case, I am resolved for my part to accept it as a consequence of the commitment I am now making and to bear it, if necessary, to the end of our lives together.

I have loved you dearly as a sweetheart and will continue to love you as my wife. But over and above that, I love you with a Christian love that demands that I never react in any way toward you that would jeopardize our prospects of entering heaven, which is the supreme objective of both our lives. And I pray that God Himself will make our affection for one another perfect and eternal.

James and Myrtle Dobson enjoyed a loving, committed, fulfilling marriage that began in 1935 and ended with his death in 1977. They never wavered for a moment through all those years. If you approach your own marriage with this determination, you’ll establish a stable, rewarding relationship that will last a lifetime.

– Shirley M Dobson

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