Charles Stanley – Accepting Criticism


Proverbs 10:17-18

Nobody likes criticism. It’s often unsolicited and rarely fun. Many times, we reject our critic’s words because of the harsh spirit in which they are spoken.

Yet God can take even a wrong attitude, bad timing, or harsh tone of voice and still tell us something we need to hear. That’s why we are wise to pay attention when someone critiques us. Invited or not, criticism forces us to examine ourselves and take notice of weak areas. This helps us discover who we really are and avoid unnecessary mistakes. If we fail to listen, our potential for mental, emotional, and spiritual growth is limited.

While not all opinions are valid, it’s important to respond well and evaluate criticism correctly. First, do not immediately reject the comment, blame the person, or defend yourself. Instead, consider what was said and ask God if He’s trying to tell you something. Then, thank the person for his interest in your growth, and explain that you’ll reflect on his observation. If he was sincere, he’ll be appreciative, but if his intentions were negative, this will disarm him. Next, evaluate the criticism and determine what exactly is under scrutiny—your beliefs, your character, your behavior, or God? Finally, view this as an opportunity for growth, and, if necessary, apologize to the person you’ve offended.

Jesus died on the cross for our sake, so we as believers are certain of His approval. When we remember this, the disapproval of others will take on less significance and cause less hurt. Then, as we learn to respond correctly, we will be blessed to find ourselves growing.

Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 4-5

Our Daily Bread — Batter in the Bowl


Read: Ruth 2:1-12

Bible in a Year: Psalms 77-78; Romans 10

Please let me glean . . . after the reapers among the sheaves. —Ruth 2:7

My daughter and I consider brownies to be one of the seven wonders of the culinary world. One day, as we were mixing the ingredients of our favorite chocolate treat, my daughter asked if I would leave some batter in the bowl after pouring most of it into the baking pan. She wanted to enjoy what was left over. I smiled and agreed. Then, I told her, “That’s called gleaning, you know, and it didn’t start with brownies.”

As we enjoyed the remnants of our baking project, I explained that Ruth had gathered leftover grain in order to feed herself and her mother-in-law Naomi (Ruth 2:2-3). Because both of their husbands had died, the women had returned to Naomi’s homeland. There Ruth met a wealthy landowner named Boaz. She asked him, “Please let me glean . . . after the reapers among the sheaves” (v. 7). He willingly consented and instructed his workers to purposely let grain fall for her (v. 16).

Like Boaz, who provided for Ruth from the bounty of his fields, God provides for us out of His abundance. His resources are infinite, and He lets blessings fall for our benefit. He willingly provides us with physical and spiritual nourishment. Every good gift we receive comes from Him. —Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Dear God, thank You for the blessings I enjoy! You minister to Your children out of Your limitless abundance. I worship You as my provider.

Our greatest needs cannot exceed God’s great resources.

INSIGHT: God commanded His people to be generous and to allow the poor to gather food from their lands at harvest time (Lev. 19:9-10; Deut. 24:19-22). God is the defender, protector, and provider of the poor, the helpless, and the oppressed (Deut. 10:17-19; Ps. 9:9-10; 146:5-9). Sim Kay Tee

Alistair Begg – The City of God


The city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it. Revelation 21:23

Further on, in the better world, the residents are not dependent upon creature comforts. They do not need new clothes; their white robes never wear out, nor do they become soiled or tattered. They don’t need medicine to heal diseases, for no one will ever say, “I am sick.” They do not need sleep to restore their strength-they do not rest by day or night as they praise God in His temple. They do not need social relationships to grant comfort, and whatever happiness they may derive from association with their fellows is not essential to their bliss, for the presence of Jesus is enough for their largest desires. They do not need teachers there; they doubtless commune with one another concerning the things of God, but they do not need to be instructed; they will all be taught of the Lord.

We receive donations at the King’s gate, but they feast at the table itself. Here we lean upon the friendly arm, but there they lean upon the Beloved and upon Him alone. Here we need the help of our companions, but there they find all they need in Christ Jesus. Here we look to the food that perishes and to the clothing that decays before the moth, but there they find everything in God. We use the bucket to fetch water from the well, but there they drink from the fountainhead and put their lips down to the living water. Now the angels bring us blessings, but then we will not need messengers from heaven. They do not need angels there to bring their love-notes from God because they see Him face to face. What a blessed time it will be when having moved beyond every secondary cause we rest upon the bare arm of God! What a glorious hour when God, and not His creatures-the Lord, and not His works-will be our daily joy! Our souls will then have attained the perfection of bliss.

The Family Bible Reading Plan

  • Ruth 2
  • Acts 27

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

Charles Spurgeon – Love thy neighbour


“Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Matthew 19:19

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 12:6-13

Remember that man’s good requires that you should be kind to your fellow creatures. The best way for you to make the world better is to be kind yourself. Are you a preacher? Preach in a surly way, and in a surly tone to your church; a pretty church you will make of it before long! Are you a Sunday-school teacher? Teach your children with a frown on your face; a fine lot they will learn! Are you a master? Do you hold family prayer? Get in a passion with your servants, and say, “Let us pray.” A vast amount of devotion you will develop in such a manner as that. Are you a warder of a gaol, and have prisoners under you? Abuse them and ill-treat them, and then send the chaplain to them. A fine preparation for the reception of the word of God! You have poor around you; you wish to see them elevated, you say. You are always grumbling about the poverty of their dwellings, and the meanness of their tastes. Go and make a great stir at them all—a fine way that would be to improve them! Now, just wash your face of that black frown, and buy a little of the essence of summer somewhere, and put it on your face; and have a smile on your lip, and say, “I love you. I am no cant, but I love you, and as far as I can I will prove my love to you. What can I do for you? Can I help you over a stile? Can I give you any assistance, or speak a kind word to you? Perhaps I could look after your little daughter. Can I fetch the doctor to your wife now she is ill?” All these kind things would be making the world a little better.

For meditation: The effectiveness of what we say and do can depend to a large extent on how we say and do it (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). Faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience and godliness are to be supplemented by brotherly kindness and love (2 Peter 1:5-7).

Sermon no. 145

9 August (1857)

John MacArthur – Faith Without Love


“If I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2).

Loveless faith is useless faith.

In Matthew 17:19 the disciples came to Jesus wanting to know why they couldn’t cast a demonic spirit from a child. Jesus responded, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you” (v. 20). He repeated the same principle in Matthew 21:21: “Truly I say to you, if you have faith, and do not doubt, you shall . . . say to this mountain [the Mount of Olives], ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ [and] it shall happen.”

Those passages have puzzled many people because they’ve never seen anyone move a mountain. But Jesus wasn’t speaking literally. Moving mountains would cause all kinds of ecological problems and would be a pointless miracle. The expression “able to move mountains” was a common figure of speech in that day, meaning “to surmount great obstacles.” Jesus was speaking of those who have the gift of faith—who can move the hand of God through unwavering prayer.

The gift of faith is the ability to believe that God will act according to His will, no matter the circumstances. People with that gift are prayer warriors and tend to stand as rocks when others around them are falling apart. They see God’s power and purposes at work and trust Him even when others doubt.

But, says Paul, even if you have such faith, if you don’t have love, you are nothing. That’s a harsh rebuke, but it places the emphasis where it belongs: on our motives. The Corinthians’ motives were evident in their selfish pursuit of the showy gifts.

What motivates you? Remember, without love it doesn’t matter what gifts you have, how eloquent your speech is, what you know, or what you believe. Only love can validate your service to Christ.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God for a greater capacity to trust Him, and the motivation to pray more fervently.

For Further Study

Read Hebrews 11, drawing from the examples of the people of great faith mentioned there.

Joyce Meyer – Express Your Faith


Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart a person believes (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Christ) and so is justified (declared righteous, acceptable to God), and with the mouth he confesses (declares openly and speaks out freely his faith) and confirms [his] salvation.- Romans 10:9-10

This is a very important principle that we are in danger of missing. We are saved by faith, but James said that faith without works is dead. I can believe in my heart that God is worthy of worship; but if I don’t take action to worship Him, it doesn’t do much good. I can say I believe in tithing; but if I don’t tithe, it won’t help me financially.

Be bold—take some action and be expressive in your praise and worship. A lot of people even refuse to talk about God. They say, “Religion is a private thing.” I cannot find anyone in the Bible who met Jesus and kept it private.

When we are excited about praising and worshiping Him, it is difficult to have no outward expression. When He fills our hearts, the good news about Him comes out of our mouths.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – True Spiritual Life


“Only the Holy Spirit gives eternal life. Those born only once, with physical birth, will never receive this gift. But now I have told you how to get this true spiritual life” (John 6:63).

A businessman called to ask if he could bring one of his associates to talk to me about receiving Christ. As the three of us talked together, it became apparent that the businessman who arranged the meeting was not a Christian either. So after his friend had received Christ, I asked him if he believed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God.

“Yes,” he said.

“Do you believe that He died for your sins?”

“Of course.”

“Have you ever received Him into you life as your Savior and Lord?”

“No,” he said, “I haven’t.”

“Wouldn’t you like to do so?”

“Yes,” he said, “I would. But I have been waiting for that peculiar time when God would speak to me in a very emotional way.”

He explained that this was the way his mother had become a Christian, and he felt that this was the way he should become a Christian, too.

Once again I reviewed very simply the plan of salvation, explaining that only the Holy Spirit gives eternal life and there may or may not be an emotional experience accompanying the moment of salvation. I explained that salvation is a gift of God, which we receive by faith on the basis of His promise.

So together we prayed, and though I had explained that he should not expect any emotional experience, God graciously touched him in a very dramatic way emotionally, contrary to my own experience and that of the majority of people with whom I counsel and pray.

Bible Reading: John 6:60-65

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Realizing that no one can enter the kingdom of God apart from a spiritual birth, I will today pray for many opportunities to share the good news of God’s love and forgiveness in Christ with others.

Presidential Prayer Team; J.K. – “S” Words


The “S’s” have it! Sin, servitude, supplication, salvation, security, and sin again. That is the story of the people of Israel in the time of the judges. They “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” and were overpowered by their enemies because of their sin. (Judges 4:1) After years of oppression, they cried out to God for help. In His mercy, the Lord raised up judges who would save the people and allow peace for some years. Once the judge died, the people turned back to sin.

They forgot the Lord their God.

Judges 3:7

Deborah was a wife, a prophet chosen by God, Israel’s fourth judge and a leader in battle – all but the first very unusual for a woman. At a time when men faltered, she was faithful to God and advised His people, inspiring them to hope in their true deliverer. And, as He often did, the Lord caused the enemy to be defeated.

You are called to be strong in your faith, to seek God in times of trouble, and to know He will save you and keep you secure. But He expects you to be faithful to Him. Encourage those around you. Intercede for this nation – that it not give in to sin but serve God with courage and faithfulness.

Recommended Reading: Psalm 62:5-12

Night Light for Couples – The Single Man


“Pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” Ecclesiastes 4:10

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the single man often has a rough go of life. He is far more likely than an unmarried female to be an alcoholic, drug user, or convicted criminal. He is less responsible about his driving habits, finances, and personal appearance. (Check with your auto insurance agent, bank officer, or neighbor with college‐age sons if you doubt this statement.)

There are millions of exceptions, of course, but statistically speaking, an unmarried young man is at risk for many antisocial behaviors. Yet when he falls in love, marries, and begins to care for, protect, and support his wife, he becomes a mainstay of social order. His selfish impulses are inhibited. His sexual passions are channeled. He discovers a sense of pride in his family. He learns why, on average, a married man lives a longer and happier life than his single counterpart.

God knew what He was doing when He designed the institution of marriage. It’s a smart husband who recognizes this and lovingly cultivates his relationship with his wife.

Just between us…

  • Do you feel you changed after we married?
  • Do you ever miss being single? Why?
  • How has being married to me benefited your life?
  • How can I help you feel more joy in our marriage and pride in our family?

(husband) Dear God, thank You for Your gift to me of marriage. Thank You for my lovely spouse and for Your daily blessing on our relationship and our home. May I never take Your generosity for granted or Your holy purposes lightly. Amen.

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

C.S. Lewis Daily – Today’s Reading


TO EDWARD LOFSTROM: On what Lewis attempted in the Chronicles of Narnia; on the character of the man Jesus—his tenderness, ferocity, and even humor; and on the need to do one’s duty while having patience with God.

16 January 1959

  1. I am afraid I don’t know the answer to your question about books of Christian instruction for children. Most of those I have seen—but I haven’t seen many—seem to me namby-pamby and ‘sissie’ and calculated to nauseate any child worth his salt. Of course I have tried to do what I can for children—in a mythical and fantastic form by my seven ‘Narnian’ fairy tales. They work well with some children but not with others. Sorry this looks like salesman- ship: but honestly if I knew anything else I’d mention it.
  2. Of course. ‘Gentle Jesus’, my elbow! The most striking thing about Our Lord is the union of great ferocity with extreme tenderness. (Remember Pascal? ‘I do not admire the extreme of one virtue unless you show me at the same time the extreme of the opposite virtue. One shows one’s greatness not by being at an extremity but by being simultaneously at two extremities and filling all the space between.’)

Add to this that He is also a supreme ironist, dialectician, and (occasionally) humourist. So go on! You are on the right track now: getting to the real Man behind all the plaster dolls that have been substituted for Him. This is the appearance in Human form of the God who made the Tiger and the Lamb, the avalanche and the rose. He’ll frighten and puzzle you: but the real Christ can be loved and admired as the doll can’t.

  1. ‘For him who is haunted by the smell of invisible roses the cure is work’ (MacDonald). If we feel we have talents that don’t find expression in our ordinary duties and recreations, I think we must just go on doing the ordinary things as well as we can. If God wants to use these suspected talents, He will: in His own time and way. At all costs one must keep clear of all the witchdoctors and their patent cures—as you say yourself.

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

Compiled in Yours, Jack