Charles Stanley – Don’t Waste Your Adversities


James 1:2-4

Are you wasting your troubles? Any time God allows trials to enter your life, He has a purpose for them. He wants you to squeeze out every ounce of spiritual growth instead of letting difficulties force you into despair and discouragement. If you’ll just respond in the right manner, the trial that looks as if it could destroy you becomes an instrument of blessing.

The most natural response to adversity is to groan and plead with the Lord to remove it. If that doesn’t work, we might get angry or try to find our own way out of the difficulty or pain. Sometimes we resort to blaming others for the trouble. And in truth, someone else might have caused the problem, but ultimately God allowed it. No matter where affliction originates, who is involved, or how evil their intentions, by the time it reaches you, it’s been dipped in the Father’s love and shaped to accomplish His good purpose. The question is, will you cooperate with Him, or will you resist?

Perhaps the key word is found in verse 4 of today’s reading. God wants to use our trial to develop spiritual maturity, but unless you let it do its work, that opportunity will be lost. If we could foresee every benefit the Lord designed our trials to accomplish, maybe we’d be more cooperative.

Although we can’t see all the specifics of God’s plan, we know that His goal is to use our adversity to supply something we lack so we can be mature and complete. Even though the experience is painful, rest in the Father’s comforting arms, and let Him do His perfect work in you.

Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 6-8

Our Daily Bread — I’ve Come to Help


Read: James 1:19-27

Bible in a Year: Psalms 79-80; Romans 11:1-18

Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. —James 1:22

Reporter Jacob Riis’s vivid descriptions of poverty in 19th-century New York City horrified a generally complacent public. His book How the Other Half Lives combined his writing with his own photographs to paint a picture so vivid that the public could not escape the certainty of poverty’s desperate existence. The third of fifteen children himself, Riis wrote so effectively because he had lived in that world of terrible despair.

Shortly after the release of his book, he received a card from a young man just beginning his political career. The note read simply, “I have read your book, and I have come to help. Theodore Roosevelt.” (This politician later became a US President.)

True faith responds to the needs of others, according to James (1:19-27). May our hearts be moved from inaction to action, from words alone to deeds that back them up. Compassionate action not only aids those mired in life’s difficulties, but it may also make them open to the greater message from our Savior who sees their need and can do so much more for them. —Randy Kilgore

O Lord, it is so easy to be overwhelmed, or to judge and therefore to refrain from helping others. Lift our eyes above our own thoughts and circumstances, and let us care as You care.

Others will know what the words “God is love” mean when they see it in our lives.

INSIGHT: James’s letter was written to people enduring difficult times. In James 1:1 we read, “James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings.” The “twelve tribes which are scattered abroad” were Jewish followers of Christ who had been driven from their homes in Jerusalem by persecution. Many of them had lost everything because of their faith in Christ, and they were struggling. Perhaps that is why James spoke so passionately about caring for orphans and widows (1:27) and the poor (ch.2). Because the believers had suffered so much themselves, they should have understood the importance of responding to the needs of others. Bill Crowder

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Collaborative Creativity


They gathered every Thursday around nine in the evening with pipes and pints in hand. At any given meeting there was likely to have been at least one historian, a philosopher, a physician, several poets, and a number of professors. The Inklings, as they called themselves, were literary enthusiasts who praised the value of good narrative and gathered to encourage, challenge, and better one another in their various attempts at creating it. Out of these spirited meetings, in which it is said that “praise for good work was unstinted, but censure for bad work, or even not-so-good work, was often brutally frank,” there arose the final drafts of The Lord of the Rings, Out of the Silent Planet, All Hallows’ Eve, and The Great Divorce to name a few.(1)

Contrary to the many critics who insist these writers had little influence on one another (the Inklings’ themselves said of Tolkien that it was easier to influence a “bandersnatch” than the creator of Middle Earth), Diana Pavlac Gyler avers they would not have been the same writers had they not written within the community of the Inklings. “[E]ach author’s work is embedded in the work of others,” writes Gyler, “and each author’s life is intertwined with the lives of others.”(2) Influence, after all, is far from imitation. While it is true that these authors came to their meetings with determined ideas, their reflective and challenging interactions sharpened thoughts, minds, and lives. J.R.R. Tolkien and Charles Williams, as well as C.S. Lewis, would likely have imagined far different worlds had they not participated in the regular reading and criticism of their works in progress.

This idea of communal creativity is one I resonant with from my own experience of thinking and writing. Even my most original thoughts or imaginative creations are indelibly shaped by a lifetime of encounters with artists, theologians, family, and community. We do not interpret the world alone nor do we live without influencing one another profoundly. In this sense, we might say that creativity in all its forms—even in the simplest acts of living and acting—is inherently an interactive process. What J.R.R. Tolkien notes on the lips of Frodo can indeed be said of our own interacting stories. Peering at the large red book in which Bilbo started to tell the story and Frodo then continued, Sam looks down in wonder, “Why, you have nearly finished it, Mr. Frodo!” he exclaims.

“I have quite finished, Sam,” answers Frodo. “The last pages are for you.”(3)

When the New Testament writers began to speak of creation through the light of all they saw in Jesus Christ, they affirmed the Old Testament understanding of total dependence upon the maker of heaven earth, but they spoke also of Christ’s presence as the Word at the beginning. Likewise, the early church began to see the role and presence of the Spirit in God’s creative work. Creation, they came to understand, and all we see within it, is the work of God in community. All of creation declares the glory of God, the work of the loving interaction between Father, Son, and Spirit—the very first creative community.

As a Christian, I believe this ultimate image of creative collaboration is one that explains our longing for community and connection, our desire to create and work. We are creatures and co-creators alike. The creative collaboration of the Trinity throughout time and creation invites the notion that God has made us for community and relationship, that our stories come together as if a great book with room for more, and that the grace of a good storyteller is working to make the work inherently beautiful. As the Father has invited us to participate in his good work of creation, so Christ has called us to join him in the community of the kingdom among us, each of us works in progress by the Spirit.

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

(1) W.H. Lewis, “C.S. Lewis: A Biography” (Unpublished Manuscript, 268-269); Wade Collection, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.

(2) Diana Pavlac Gyler, The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community (Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 2007).

(3) J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings (New York: Harper Collins, 2004), 1027.

Alistair Begg – Our Life


Christ who is your life. Colossians 3:4

Paul’s marvelously rich expression indicates that Christ is the source of our life. You has He quickened who “were dead in . . . trespasses and sins.”1 The same voice that brought Lazarus out of the tomb raised us to newness of life. He is now the substance of our spiritual life. It is by His life that we live; He is in us, the hope of glory, the spring of our actions, the central thought that moves every other thought. Christ is the sustenance of our life. What can the Christian feed upon but Christ, the living bread? “This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.”2 Remember, weary pilgrims in this wilderness of sin, that you will never get a morsel to satisfy your spiritual hunger unless you find it in Him!

Christ is the solace of our life. All our true joys come from Him; and in times of trouble, His presence is our consolation. There is nothing worth living for but Him; and His loving-kindness is better than life! Christ is the object of our life. As the ship speeds toward the port, so hurries the believer toward the haven of his Savior’s heart. As the arrow flies to its target, so the Christian flies toward the perfecting of his fellowship with Christ Jesus. As the soldier fights for his captain and is crowned in his captain’s victory, so the believer contends for Christ and gets his triumph out of the triumphs of his Master. “For [him] to live is Christ.”3

Christ is the exemplar of our life. Where the same life is found inside, there will, there must be, to a great extent, the same developments outside; and if we live in close fellowship with the Lord Jesus we shall grow like Him. We will set Him before us as our divine example, and we will seek to follow in His footsteps, until He shall become the crown of our life in glory. How safe, how honored, how happy is the Christian since Christ is his life!

1) Ephesians 2:1

2) John 6:50

3) Philippians 1:21

The Family Bible Reading Plan

  • Ruth 3, 4
  • Acts 28

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

Charles Spurgeon – The day of atonement


“This shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year.” Leviticus 16:34

Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 9:6-14

Jesus Christ “died, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God.” That day of atonement happened only once a year, to teach us that only once should Jesus Christ die; and that though he would come a second time, yet it would be without a sin offering unto salvation. The lambs were perpetually slaughtered; morning and evening they offered sacrifice to God, to remind the people that they always needed a sacrifice; but the day of atonement being the type of the one great propitiation, it was but once a year that the high priest entered within the veil with blood as the atonement for the sins of the people. And this was at a certain set and appointed time; it was not left to the choice of Moses, or to the convenience of Aaron, or to any other circumstance which might affect the date; it was appointed to be on a peculiar set day, as you find at the 29th verse: “In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month;” and at no other time was the day of atonement to be, to show us that God’s great day of atonement was appointed and predestined by himself. Christ’s expiation occurred but once, and then not by any chance; God had settled it from before the foundation of the world; and at that hour when God had predestined, on that very day that God had decreed that Christ should die, he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers, he was dumb. It was but once a year, because the sacrifice should be once; it was at an appointed time in the year, because in the fulness of time Jesus Christ should come into the world to die for us.

For meditation: Daily and annual sacrifices of animals could never bring salvation from sin—that required only the single sacrifice of Christ on a single day (Zechariah 3:9; 12:10; 13:1; Hebrews 9:25,26; 10:11,12).

Sermon no. 95

10 August (1856)

John MacArthur – Benevolence Without Love


“If I give all my possessions to feed the poor . . . but do not have love, it profits me nothing” (1 Cor. 13:3).

Love is characterized by self-sacrifice, but not all self-sacrifice is an act of love.

If you’ve ever donated to your church or another charitable organization out of obligation, peer pressure, legalism, guilt, a desire for recognition, or simply a tax deduction, you know what it means to give without love. In our society it’s easy to fall prey to that kind of giving because the needs are so great and fund raisers appeal to every conceivable motive. In addition, many cults and false religions encourage the giving up of possessions and other sacrificial gestures as a supposed means of earning God’s favor. But God is more interested in why you give than what you give.

Paul’s hypothetical illustration in 1 Corinthians 13:3 is of someone who sacrificed everything he had to feed the poor. The Greek word translated “to feed” means “to dole out in small quantities.” Apparently this guy didn’t simply write out a check for a food distribution program; he was personally involved in a long-term, systematic program that would eventually consume every resource he had.

Paul doesn’t mention motives—only that this person lacked love. Consequently, the benefits of his benevolence were limited to the physical realm. Any spiritual benefits were forfeited.

Jesus, making a similar point, said, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 6:1). If your motive for giving is to gain the approval of men, their accolades will be your only reward. If you’re motivated by love for God, He will reward you abundantly (vv. 2-4).

When you give to the Lord, what is your motive? Do you want others to think more highly of you? Do you feel obligated? Those are subtle influences, so be sure to guard your motives carefully. Remember, the only acceptable motive is love.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Holy Spirit to keep you sensitive to the needs of others, enabling you always to give out of genuine love.

For Further Study

Read Luke 18:9-14.

  • How did the Pharisee’s prayer differ from the tax-gatherer’s?
  • How did God respond to each prayer?

Joyce Meyer – Listen Carefully


And He said to them, Be careful what you are hearing. The measure [of thought and study] you give [to the truth you hear] will be the measure [of virtue and knowledge] that comes back to you the more [besides] will be given to you who hear. – Mark 4:24

The Bible says that in the latter days many false prophets will rise up and tell people what their itching ears want to hear. People will search for one teacher after another who will tell them something pleasing and gratifying. To suit their own desires, they will turn away from hearing the Truth and will wander off into listening to myths and man-made fiction (see 2 Timothy 4:3–4). They will turn to methods that may be called “spiritual,” but are not safe in God’s Kingdom. They are “spiritual,” but they come from the wrong spirit!

Never before have we seen such an influx of psychics vying for a ready ear. Television shows feature mediums who claim to communicate with people who have died. These people are actually communicating with familiar spirits who tell half-truths about the past and lies about the future. This is strictly forbidden in Scripture (see Leviticus 19:31). God says He will set His face against anyone who turns to mediums and spiritists (see Leviticus 20: 6–7), yet Christians still read horoscopes and consult psychics—then wonder why they live in confusion and don’t have peace.

We must realize that it is wrong to seek guidance for our lives through anything other than God Himself. In fact, our seeking guidance through other sources offends Him. No one who does so will have the peaceful, joy-filled, blessed life God intended.

If you have been involved in activity of this kind, I urge you to thoroughly repent; ask God to forgive you; and turn away completely from such practices. God alone has all the answers you need, so go to Him and let Him give you the guidance and encouragement you need.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Perfect Peace


“He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in Him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord” (Isaiah 26:3).

John shared how, during the serious illness and death of his beloved Agnes, God had enveloped him with His perfect peace. Tom spoke with moistened eyes, of how God filled his heart with peace when he lost his job of more than 25 years. Roger and Kim shared how they experienced perfect peace in the loss of their darling two-year-old who had just died of leukemia. Peter had just received the solemn word from his doctor that he had no more than six months to live. What joy, soon he would see his Lord and witness perfect peace!

How can these things be?

Because the Prince of Peace dwells within the heart of every believer and He promised, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27 KJV). God is waiting to pour out His supernatural peace upon all who will trust and obey Him.

In my experience with thousands of businessmen, laymen and students, I have discovered an interesting fact. In a time of crisis when one’s world is crumbling, wealth, fame, power, position, glory, are not important any more. It is inner peace that every man longs for and for which he would gladly give his fortune. But remember that perfect peace comes only to those who walk in faith and obedience. Such peace is not the experience of those who live self-centered lives, violating the laws of God.

Bible Reading: John 14:27-31

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: As a candidate for God’s perfect peace, I will meditate upon His laws and through the enabling of His Holy Spirit, seek to obey His commands.

Presidential Prayer Team; – J.R. -Why Me, Lord?


If you are given to hypochondriasis or “illness anxiety disorder,” you surely would not want to be transported back to biblical times. First, they had a host of frightening diseases and illnesses which, in modern times, have been eradicated. Second, they had almost no understanding of the causes; germs and bacteria, for example, were unknown in the ancient world. And third, the treatments – administered by priests, magicians and quacks – were at best useless and more often barbaric.

Why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

Luke 1:43

You especially would not want to be an expectant mother in biblical times. Pregnancy and childbirth represented the pinnacle of risk…from infection, bleeding, high blood pressure or other complications. Elisabeth, pregnant with the baby who would become John the Baptist, asked, “Why Me, Lord?” But it wasn’t a complaint. She wondered why she could be so favored. She was overjoyed to be part of the fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.

What’s troubling you today? A personal need, a family difficulty, or the disgraceful state of America? Whatever it may be, is there an opportunity in it for you to be a blessing? As you pray today, find the answer! “Why me, Lord?”

Recommended Reading: Psalm 40:1-8

Greg Laurie – Justice, Mercy, and Grace


For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.—Ephesians 2:8–9

Don’t ever pray, “God, give me justice.” You don’t want God to give you what you deserve, which is judgment. Rather, a better thing to pray would be, “God, be merciful to me. God, extend your grace to me.” When God extends mercy, He doesn’t give you what you deserve. And when God extends grace, He gives you His unmerited favor and blessing.

The Bible tells us that it is “by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9).

We find a classic example of grace in the story of the prodigal son. The son had sinned. He dragged the family name through the mud. If the father had dealt with his prodigal son justly, he would have allowed the boy to be stoned. That would have been justice.

If the father would have dealt with the son in mercy, he would have let him come on as a hired hand as the boy had requested.

But the father dealt with him in grace when he provided his son with luxurious attire and placed a signet ring on his finger. That was grace, not justice, and it was even more than mercy. It was grace extended.

It was God’s grace that sustained the apostle Paul in his days of difficulty with his thorn in the flesh. Paul had some kind of physical infirmity. It may have been a disability or an injury resulting from one of his stonings or shipwrecks. Whatever it was, he asked God three times to take it away. But God told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Grace is getting what we don’t deserve.

Max Lucado – Everything Needed for Joy

Robert had cerebral palsy. The disease kept him from riding a bike, or going for a walk. But it didn’t keep him from graduating from high school or attending university. Having cerebral palsy didn’t keep him from teaching at a Junior College or from venturing overseas on five missions trips. And Robert’s disease didn’t prevent him from becoming a missionary in Portugal.

He moved to Lisbon, alone. He rented a room, found a restaurant owner who fed him after the rush hour and a tutor who instructed him in the language. And daily in the park, he passed out booklets about Christ. Within six years he led seventy people to the Lord. I heard Robert speak. He could’ve asked for sympathy or pity. He did just the opposite. A Bible in his lap, he held his bent hand up in the air and boasted, “I have everything I need for joy.” So do we.

From The Applause of Heaven47

Night Light for Couples – The Renegade Male


“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4

Author Derek Prince has described the “renegade male” as one of society’s biggest problems. The word renegade actually means “one who has shirked his primary responsibilities.” It is an accurate description of those husbands and fathers who pour every resource into work or pleasure, leaving the child‐rearing task entirely to their wives. Both boys and girls desperately need their fathers, who have a specific role to play in their lives.

Research in the field of child development has confirmed that the absence of positive masculine influence plays a key role in adolescent rebellion, sex‐role identity, and cohesion within the family. Conversely, those who accept their God‐given responsibilities at home have a fleeting—and golden—opportunity to shape the little lives entrusted to their care.

Just between us…

  • (husband) Do I ever resemble a renegade male? How?
  • (husband) In what ways have I been a good father? (For couples without children: What kind of father would I be?)
  • (wife) How have our own fathers been good or poor examples of fulfilling their responsibilities at home?
  • (wife) How, as a wife, can I help you be a better father?

(husband) Dear God, thank You for the responsibility and opportunity to impact my children for good. I want to be faithful. Help me to celebrate— not resent—my fatherly duties. Through my sometimes inadequate efforts, accomplish great things in the lives of my kids. Amen.

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