Charles Stanley – Communion With God

 

Philippians 3:7-10

God created men and women to be in relationship with Him. The type of communion Adam and Eve first enjoyed with Him was meant for us as well. But when sin entered the world, everything changed. God’s intended intimate relationship with mankind was broken, and it has been passed down through the generations in that damaged condition.

But as we know, that’s not the end of the story. Jesus came to die in our place, bringing forgiveness for our sins and restoring our relationship with the Father. Through faith in Christ, we are adopted into God’s family and belong to Him forever—just as He originally planned. He has provided us with everything we need to experience intimacy with Him.

So what happens if, following salvation, new believers never go deeper? Some may drift away from their initial zeal for the Lord, failing to make Bible reading or church attendance a regular occurrence. Perhaps others try to focus on the Lord but allow earthly matters to distract them. Over time, some Christians settle for what’s comfortable and familiar. Sadly, they will miss out on the deep contentment God wanted to provide. Yet those who make Jesus the priority of their life will have a deepening relationship with Him, which transcends any earthly one.

Communion with God made King David “fully satisfied as with the richest of foods” (Ps. 63:5 NIV). And Paul viewed his own accomplishments as nothing in comparison with “the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:8). Draw near to God, and experience the blessings of knowing Him.

Bible in One Year: Isaiah 36-39

 

 

 

Our Daily Bread — He Found Me

 

Read: Luke 19:1-10

Bible in a Year: Psalms 54-56; Romans 3

The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. —Luke 19:10

The film Amazing Grace was set in the late 1700s. It tells the story of William Wilberforce, a politician who was driven by his faith in Christ to commit his money and energy to abolishing the slave trade in England. In one scene, Wilberforce’s butler finds him praying. The butler asks, “You found God, Sir?” Wilberforce responds, “I think He found me.”

The Bible pictures humanity as wayward and wandering sheep. It says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way” (Isa. 53:6). In fact, this wayward condition is so deeply rooted in us that the apostle Paul said: “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside” (Rom. 3:10-12). That is why Jesus came. We would never seek Him, so He came seeking us. Jesus declared His mission with the words, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

Wilberforce was exactly right. Jesus came to find us, for we could never have found Him if left to ourselves. It is a clear expression of the Creator’s love for His lost creation that He pursues us and desires to make us His own. —Bill Crowder

Amazing grace—how sweet the sound—that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
was blind, but now I see. John Newton

Once lost, now found. Eternally thankful!

INSIGHT: Jesus’ description of His mission to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10) is pictured beautifully in His trilogy of parables in Luke 15. He begins in verses 3-7, describing a shepherd who pursues the one lost sheep. The theme continues in verses 8-10 with a woman searching diligently for a lost coin. The trilogy finds its apex in the parable of the prodigal son in verses 11-32. Two common threads run through these three parables. The first is the passion and determination of the seeker—a picture of God’s great love for us. The second is the absolute joy and celebration every time the lost is found. What a marvelous expression of God’s loving pursuit of us.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Prophet and the Newspaper

 

Eighty-five years ago Karl Barth told his theology students to take their bibles and their newspapers, and read both; adding, “But interpret newspapers from your Bible.”(1) There are so many times when, reading or watching the news, I am grateful for the sighing and crying of the prophets. Isaiah’s ancient plea is among the most-repeated, as I sigh between heart-breaking headlines and breaking news. “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, that the mountains would quake at your presence!” (Isaiah 64:1).

In the thick of stories that recount violence and injustice near and far, Isaiah’s prayer is a response for the speechless, the weary, and the frustrated. How long, O Lord? Where are you in the midst of this? Why is slavery still happening right under our noses in Atlanta? Why is sex-trafficking thriving in Moscow? How is it that poverty and addiction, racism and genocide are ignored, even as we obsess over trending gossip or social media witch hunts? For the church, the words of the prophets become a gift. How long, O Lord, are we going to be reading and seeing and tolerating such disparaging news? O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, that the mountains would quake at your presence.

Isaiah words articulate the cries for relief and justice within his world and within ours. But Isaiah does not merely cry out at God’s seeming absence and a longing for God to fix all he sees; Isaiah is not merely pointing a finger and waiting for God to act. And holding the prophet’s words in one hand with our newspaper in the other, we, too, hopefully see the significance for both hands. Isaiah cries both for God and the generation of people who have turned from God. The entire chapter is a fervent prayer for a change in the direction that Jerusalem is currently moving—for God’s intervention and forgiveness, for Jerusalem’s repentance and reversal.

“We have all become like one who is unclean,

and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.

We all fade like a leaf,

and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

There is no one who calls on your name,

or attempts to take hold of you;

for you have hidden your face from us,

and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity” (64:6-7).

It is unavoidable when looking at injustice—even weeping over injustice—to cry foul at the other team, the other group, the other side. There are also times when looking at injustice that we would put God Himself in the dock, interrogating the one we deem distant and responsible as injustice carries on unhindered. Yet in this incessant finger-pointing, however justifiable it might seem, we fail to see the unjust things we do ourselves, our own inconsistencies, our own ironic ways of persecuting—indeed, our own ways of contributing to the very things we lament. The ancient cry of Isaiah is one that is rightfully weighted with both an awareness of the injustice around him and admittance of his and his people’s own depravity, of their own guilt. Reading the prophet’s words with our daily newspaper in hand, we might well see the importance of adding to our cries for injustice across the world, the lament over our own involvement—and the will to turn this, too, around.

For Isaiah puts before us the hopeful image of a God who would tear open the heavens to come down regardless of a people who continue to run from Him. Here in the midst of seeming impasse he utters an empowering word for God and for humanity:

“Do not be exceedingly angry, O LORD,

and do not remember our iniquity forever.

But consider now: we are all your people” (64:8).

If the entirety of chapter 64 is a fervent prayer for a change in direction, the climax of the prayer comes in this verse. The word of utmost importance, which comes as a transition to both the cry for God’s nearness and the admission of living far off, is a Hebrew word that is translated “And now.” The word is meant to be a reminder to all, a commentary on time itself. Now we can continue to fear the future, continue to live in the sin of our past, or we can stand before God today and live as clay in the Potter’s good hand. Now we can consider and reclaim that we are all God’s people. Isaiah wants us to see the God who exists in this very present space, the God who has been present and active throughout all of time, and is here even now—the God who hates injustice so much that he would come down and endure it himself.

It is no coincidence that Martin Luther King Jr. spoke often of “the fierce urgency of now.” “Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice,” he said. “Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of brother and sisterhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.”(2) King’s cries in the midst of his own newspaper headlines were indelibly shaped by the Bible in his other hand.

For indeed, Isaiah’s vision of a world that revolves around the kingship of God at the center of all things is a vision that pivots on the urgency of the present moment, shaped not by nostalgia for what once was, but remembrance for who God was, and is, and ever will be. Again and again, God stirs us back to the urgency of the space and time before us. Again and again, the cross reminds us of the fierce urgency of now within a world in need not of more pointing fingers and dividing speeches, but of people willing to rise and work as if now we are all God’s people.

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

(1) “Barth in Retirement,” Time Magazine, May 31, 1963.

(2) James Washington, Ed., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr.(New York: HarperCollins, 1986), 218.

Alistair Begg – Are You Taking Advantage of Him?

 

I in them. John 17:23

If this is the union between our souls and the person of our Lord, how deep and broad is the channel of our communion! This is no narrow channel through which a threadlike stream may wind its way; it is a river of amazing depth and breadth, along whose glorious length a ponderous volume of living water may roll its floods. Consider how He has set before us an open door; let us not be slow to enter.

This city of communion has many pearly gates, every gate is made of one pearl, and each gate is thrown open wide so that we may enter, assured of welcome. If there were but one small loophole through which to talk with Jesus, it would be a high privilege to thrust a word of fellowship through the narrow door; how much we are blessed in having so large an entrance! If the Lord Jesus were far away from us, with many a stormy sea between, we would long to send a messenger to Him to carry Him our love and bring us tidings from His Father’s house; but consider His kindness-He has built His house next-door to ours. More than that, He lives with us and makes His home in our poor humble hearts, so He may have continual fellowship with us.

O how foolish must we be if we do not live in constant communion with Him. When the road is long and dangerous and difficult, it is no surprise that friends seldom meet each other; but when they live together, shall Jonathan forget his David? A wife may, when her husband is on a journey, spend many days without conversing with him, but she could never endure to be separated from him if she knew him to be in one of the rooms of her own house. Why, believer, do you not sit at His banquet of wine? Seek your Lord, for He is near; embrace Him, for He is your Brother. Hold Him fast, for He is your Husband; and press Him to your heart, for He is your kith and kin.

The Family Bible Reading Plan

  • Judges 14
  • Acts 18

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

Charles Spurgeon – The meek and lowly One

 

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek, and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 21:1-17

Christ on earth was a king; but there was nothing about him of the exclusive pomp of kings, which excludes the common people from their society. Look at the eastern king Ahasuerus, sitting on his throne. He is considered by his people as a superior being. None may come in unto the king, unless he is called for. Should he venture to pass the circle, the guards will slay him, unless the king stretches out the golden sceptre. Even Esther, his beloved wife, is afraid to draw near, and must put her life in her hand, if she comes into the presence of the king uncalled. Christ is a king; but where is his pomp? Where the janitor that keeps his door, and thrusts away the poor? Where the soldiers that ride on either side of his chariot to screen the monarch from the sight of poverty? See thy King, O Sion! He comes, he comes in royal pomp! Behold, Judah, behold thy King cometh! But how cometh he? “Meek and lowly, riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass.” And who are his attendants? See, the young children, boys and girls! They cry, “Hosannah! Hosannah! Hosannah!” And who are they that wait upon him? His poor disciples. They pull the branches from the trees; they cast their garments in the street, and there he rides on—Judah’s royal king. His courtiers are the poor; his pomp is that tribute which grateful hearts delight to offer. O sinners, will you not come to Christ? There is nothing in him to keep you back. You need not say, like Esther did of old, “I will go in unto the king, and if I perish, I perish.” Come and welcome! Come and welcome! Christ is more ready to receive you than you are to come to him. Come to the King!

For meditation: The character of the King should be reflected in the character of his subjects (Matthew 5:3,5,10). 3 John 9,10 describes exactly what is not called for!

Sermon no. 265

31 July (1859)

John MacArthur – Your Present Deliverance

 

“Obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet. 1:9).

Your present deliverance sets you free from the penalty and power of sin.

In 1 Corinthians 1:18 Paul says that “the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (emphasis added). That emphasizes the marvelous reality of the believer’s present deliverance from sin. Peter stressed the same truth in 1 Peter 1:8, where he says that believers obtain as the outcome of their faith the salvation of their souls.

The Greek word translated “obtaining” in 1 Peter 1:18 literally means “presently receiving for yourselves.” It speaks of obtaining something that is due you as a result of your faith in Christ. “Outcome of your faith” refers to the logical result or end of faith. “Souls” speaks of the whole person. The entire verse could be translated, “You rejoice because you have and continue to hold onto the logical result of your proven faith—your ongoing deliverance from sin.”

You need ongoing deliverance because sin is an ongoing problem. You have new life in Christ, are a new creature in Him, and are no longer a slave to the penalty and power of sin, but you’re not yet fully glorified. Consequently you’re still subject to sin’s influence. Paul personalized that struggle in Romans 7, where he says, “The good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish. . . . I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good. . . . Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (vv. 19, 21, 24). The victory comes in verse 25, which says, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Jesus is the Great Deliverer, through whom you have victory over sin, death, and hell. That’s the last spiritual privilege in Peter’s brief list, but it’s by no means the least. As you love and trust Him, you’ll know the joy of present deliverance.

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise the Lord for your deliverance from sin’s bondage.

For Further Study

Review all the spiritual privileges and sources of Christian joy we’ve discussed this month. Keep them fresh in your mind as you face the challenges of each new day.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – It All Belongs to Him

 

“For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10, KJV).

Gently chiding a Christian worker for praying that God might give him a second-hand car to use in his service for the Lord, Dr. A.W. Tozer reminded the man:

“God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and the Cadillacs, too. Why not ask Him for the best?”

That same principle might apply to many areas of our lives today. If we truly believe that “according to your faith be it unto you,” then it is imperative that we trust God for greater things than normally we might.

Motive, of course, is supremely important in our asking from God. If the thing asked is clearly for God’s glory, to be used in His service, the motivation is good. If pride or any other motive plays a part in the decision, then we do well to think twice before asking great things from God.

What man owns, we do well to remember, we own under God. And God has never given to man the absolute proprietorship in any thing. Nor does He invade our rights when He comes and claims what we possess, or when He in any way removes what is most valuable to us.

God owns all things – let’s leave to Him the right to do whatever He wishes with the things He owns.

Bible Reading: Psalm 50:7-15

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Since my receiving is “according to my faith,” I will with proper motive for His glory believe God in a large manner this day – for whatever needs may arise.

Presidential Prayer Team; C.H. – Light Show

 

Stargazers headed outdoors recently to watch a spectacular occurrence. The planets Jupiter and Venus were so close in the sky they almost appeared to be a “double star.” The bright light given off by the two planets was a dazzling demonstration of God’s glory. Some scholars believe a planet alignment like this created the “Star of Bethlehem” that guided the wise men to the Christ child.

Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars!

Psalm 148:3

Whether God created one bright star or aligned the planets to herald the birth of His Son, no one really knows. But what is known is how all of creation freely displays God’s glory – even the planets and stars. You were created to exhibit His glory, too. All people have “gifts that differ according to the grace given to us” (Romans 12:6).

Are you fully using the gifts you were given? When you freely work in the area the Lord has blessed you, the resulting display is astounding. Pray for fellow Christians to use their gifts according to God’s purpose. Also ask the Lord to help America and its national leaders recognize the Creator in both the stars…and in their lives.

Recommended Reading: Romans 12:3-13

Greg Laurie – A Portrait of God

 

“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.” —Luke 15:20

I heard about a little girl who brought out a piece of paper and some crayons and was getting ready to draw something.

Her mom said, “Honey, what are you going to draw?”

“I am going to draw a picture of God.”

“Sweetheart, no one knows what God looks like.”

The little girl replied, “They will when I’m done.”

The only place we can get a proper portrait of God is in the pages of Scripture. Jesus effectively gave us a snapshot of God, telling us what God is like in the story of the prodigal son. In this story, God is like a father who loves his children. When we are sinning against Him or running from Him, He misses us and longs for our return. It is clearly a picture of a loving father.

But sometimes we may think of God in the same way we think of our earthly fathers. That can be problematic, because if you have a father who is aloof and distant, or worse, harsh and even abusive, you might apply that to God. Then again, if you have a father who is kind, approachable, and fun loving, you might transfer that to God also.

Here is the problem. God isn’t like your earthly father. God is God. He stands apart from everyone else. Regardless of how good or poor of a job your father on Earth may have done, you need to know that your heavenly Father is different.

He is a God of love. He is a God of mercy. He is a God of grace. But He is also a God of justice. He is a God of holiness. He is a God of righteousness. And the God of the Old Testament is the same as the God of the New Testament.

Max Lucado – Open Bible, Open Heart, Open Ears

 

Do you have a Bible?  Read it! When anxiety termites away at your peace, read Philippians 4:6: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Or perhaps laziness is knocking on your door. Read Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart.”

Don’t make a decision, large or small, without sitting before God with an open Bible, an open heart, and open ears. Philippians 2:13 says, “God is working in you to help you want to do and be able to do what pleases Him.”

You have all you need to face the giant-size questions of your life. Most of all you have a God who loves you too much to let you wander. You have a heart for God? Heed it! Have a Bible? Read it.

From Facing Your Giants

Night Light for Couples – Men Have a Six-word Limit

 

by Erma Bombeck

I have publicly stated that men speak approximately six words a day in their homes. A few readers have challenged me and want to know what the six words are.

I should have qualified my statement. The six words are not necessarily spoken in sequence, nor are they necessarily spoken to wives.

A friend of mine, for example, has a husband who saves his six words until the Carson show has signed off and she is fast asleep. Then he snaps on all the lights in the bedroom, punches his pillow, shakes her out of a sound slumber and says, “Did you turn off the hose?”(6)

Some men will blow their quota at one time.

They’ll garage the car, make tracks to the kitchen, take the lid off the fry pan and announce loudly, “I had it for lunch.”(5) Then, realizing he has used only five words, he will add, “Yuck!”

Others will spend a half dozen words in obscenities directed toward Bobby’s bicycle in the driveway.

My week gets off to a slow start but builds to a feverish climax. Monday, Me: “Say something.” Him: “What ya want me to say?”(6) Tuesday, Me: “What kind of day did you have?”

Him: “Don’t aggravate me. You wouldn’t believe.”(6) Wednesday, Me: “Try me.” Him: “Where’s the rest of the paper?”(6) Thursday, Me: “We had a crisis here today.”

Him: “The dog isn’t lost, is he?”(6)

Friday, Me: “Guess what? Know who called today? And is coming to dinner? And is bringing her new husband with her? And can’t wait to talk your arm off? Are you ready?”

Him: “No. No. No. No. No. No.”(6)

Saturday, Me: “I’ll be out for a while. I’ve got some errands to do at the shopping center.”

Him: “Admit it. My chattering gets on your nerves.”(8)

Sunday, Me: “Do you know you spoke eight words to me yesterday? I wouldn’t be surprised if you were starting a new trend.”

Him: “Don’t count on it.”(4)

Part of man’s silence is woman’s doing. We created the strong, silent, masculine image. The silence represented deep thought, a repression of emotions. A quiet man was an island of mystery, a challenge to probe and discover as years went on. I always thought a quiet man was subtle and romantic.

But that was before I started arguing with the tropical fish over which channel we were going to watch.

LOOKING AHEAD

The art of communication doesn’t come naturally to all of us. Some folks just don’t like to talk much. Others talk incessantly without ever really saying anything. But when it comes to marriage, communication is one of the keys to success. Those who master this skill are likely to enjoy a meaningful, fulfilling, productive relationship. Those who continually fail to understand each other, however, often feel isolated and alone. It is a major contributor to divorce.

We’ll offer some tips this week that can improve your communication skills. I hope that by next Sunday your daily word count will be at least in the double digits—and even more, that your partner will understand what you say.

– James C Dobson

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

 

C.S. Lewis Daily – Today’s Reading

 

TO MARY WILLIS SHELBURNE: On the attractiveness of real holiness (Lewis mentions his spiritual director, Father Adams); and on the follies, miseries, and temptations of being a young, single adult.

1 August 1953

I am so glad you gave me an account of the lovely priest. How little people know who think that holiness is dull. When one meets the real thing (and perhaps, like you, I have met it only once), it is irresistible. If even 10% of the world’s population had it, would not the whole world be converted and happy before a year’s end?

Yes, I too think there is lots to be said for being no longer young: and I do most heartily agree that it is just as well to be past the age when one expects or desires to attract the other sex. It’s natural enough in our species, as in others, that the young birds should show off their plumage—in the mating season. But the trouble in the modern world is that there’s a tendency to rush all the birds on to that age as soon as possible and then keep them there as late as possible, thus losing all the real value of the other parts of life in a senseless, pitiful attempt to prolong what, after all, is neither its wisest, its happiest, or most innocent period. I suspect merely commercial motives are behind it all: for it is at the showing-off age that birds of both sexes have least sales resistance!

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

Compiled in Yours, Jack