Charles Stanley – Our Firm Foundation


Luke 6:46-49

The Lord has ways of shaking the world when He is at work. He literally caused the ground to quake when Jesus died on the cross, and Hebrews 12:26 describes a time to come when the earth will undergo a similar display of His power and presence.

Likewise in our day, God often lets the foundations of our world be shaken—whether political alliances, financial systems, or other forms of human security. Then we can see the flimsiness of the structures on which we’ve based our pride and hopes. Individual lives are also often shaken when a family experiences crisis or a marriage begins to unravel. If we have built upon the fragile foundation of human wisdom, pride, and conditional love, things may look good for a while, but everything collapses when storms hit.

Though adversity affects everyone, we can have peace in knowing that God always has a greater purpose when He allows upheaval in our world. Hard times can also shake believers out of apathy and self-focus, reminding us not to trust in ourselves or the temporary structures of this world. There is only one secure foundation: a genuine, deep relationship with Jesus Christ, which will carry you through any and all turmoil. No matter what storms are raging all around, you’ll have a solid footing if you stand on His love.

It’s not enough for believers to simply enjoy the security of knowing that our “house” is built on a solid foundation. As God’s ambassadors on earth, we have a responsibility to extend His compassion to people whose lives are crumbling. Be a living message of hope to those around you today.

Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 12-14

Our Daily Bread — A Portrait of Jesus


Read: Isaiah 53:4-12

Bible in a Year: Psalms 84-86; Romans 12

We have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. —Isaiah 53:6

In Portraits of Famous American Women, Robert Henkes writes, “A portrait is not a photograph, nor is it a mirror image.” A portrait goes beyond the outer appearance to probe the emotional depth of the human soul. In a portrait, a true artist tries “to capture what the person is really about.”

Over the centuries, many portraits have been painted of Jesus. Perhaps you’ve seen them in a church or museum of art or even have one in your home. Not one of these is a true portrait, of course, because we have no photograph or mirror image of our Lord’s physical appearance. We do, however, have a magnificent word portrait of Him in Isaiah 53. This God-inspired description captures in vivid detail what He is all about: “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering . . . . But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; . . . and by his wounds we are healed” (vv. 4-5 niv).

This passage enables us to see love and sorrow, anguish and pain on Jesus’ face. But His lips do not accuse or condemn. He has no sins of His own to grieve; only ours to bear. And deep inside, He knows that “He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied” (v. 11).

What a portrait of our Savior! —David C. McCasland

What amazing love You have for us, Jesus! As I think of how awesome You are, I bow in silence before You.

Love was when God became a man.

INSIGHT: Isaiah 53 is the last of four prophecies of Isaiah (42:1-9; 49:1-13; 50:4-11; 52:13-53:12) known as the “Servant Songs” because they speak of the “Servant” (42:1; 49:3; 50:10; 52:13). These Songs prophetically identify Jesus the Messiah as the Servant. Sim Kay Tee

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Friends of the Cause


A popular group on Facebook hosted a collection of people very much opposed to the destruction of an historic fountain in downtown Copenhagen. The name of the group could be translated: “No to the Demolition of the Stork Fountain.” Its members’ outrage filled its Facebook wall. The creator of the group urgently spoke of the need for action, sounding the call to join the cause and get involved. Almost overnight, participation in the cause went viral, members joining and getting the word out to their friends. Click here, forward there, speak out.

Ironically (and more ironic than activism that only requires joining a Facebook group), the cause was completely fictitious. The creator of the page, Anders Colding-Jørgensen, is a professor of Internet psychology who was conducting a social experiment on activism and online behavior. Sadly, had these outraged activists searched just a bit more for information, they would have read on the page itself that it was an experiment and that, in fact, Anders knew of no plans to destroy the fountain. Yet by the end of the experiment, more than 27,000 people had joined the group with a click of outrage and a desire to join the cause.(1)

Anders’ experiment is one example of what cultural commentators call “slacktivism,” online activism that essentially leads to nothing on the part of the participant and no real effect on the cause itself. Slacktivism offers the feeling of doing good without actually having done anything at all. Though not all online causes can be classified as such, they are appealing because they are so easy to join—though we often seem unconcerned with whether they actually accomplish something. It’s simply one more click, one more forwarded email, one more status update; it won’t require writing long letters, standing in lines, or marching the streets. No one will ask you to do anything, and you can feel good about your brief participation. Of course, we may very well be impassioned slacktivists (the social media vitriol over the demolition of the Stork Fountain or the acquittal of Casey Anthony was alarming), but they are really just words. Other social media vitriol, like that after the recent killing of Cecil the Zimbabwean Lion, escalates to worrisome tirades.

It seems religion has often been accused similarly. Isn’t it all just words? Isn’t Christianity all talk, tenants, and tirades? The Theologian is an owl sitting on an old dead branch in the tree of human knowledge, says one critic, and he is hooting the same old hoots that have been hooted for hundreds and thousands of years, but he has never given a hoot for anything real. A bumper sticker berates similarly, “Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day; give him a religion, and he’ll starve to death while praying for a fish.”

Even in friendlier circles, I am sometimes left with a similar impression among Christians that believing in Jesus has more to do with saying the right things, knowing the right words, holding the proper principles. Many a church is filled with people who have the feeling of doing good without having really done anything at all. Knowing Christ can seem more a corollary to knowing the right words than the other way around. Is Christianity simply a kingdom of words?

Jesus himself said the kingdom was like a sower who went out to sow seeds—which does not sound like slacktivism! Or, as the apostle Paul writes elsewhere, “The kingdom of God is not in words.” What do they mean? And how does it answer both the skeptic who thinks religion is all talk and the Christian who reduces the kingdom to words and laws? For starters, I think it means that the kingdom isn’t calling for slacktivists, and that nothing we embrace with spirit and truth can be reduced to words or sermons or the ease of outrage. The kingdom Jesus presents is far more alive than this. Far more whole.

One of my favorite stories of Jesus is in the way he responds to Mary and Martha after their brother has died. Martha is full of pain and essentially asks Jesus where he has been. “If you would have come my brother wouldn’t have died.” Jesus gives her an answer to that question. He responds by saying, “I am the resurrection and the life and the one who believes in me will not die. Your brother will rise again.” When Mary approaches Jesus she asks the exact same question. “Jesus where were you? If you would have been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.” Here are two different people asking the same question, and Jesus intuitively understands that they need different answers. With Martha he gives a rational answer. With Mary, he doesn’t say anything. He simply weeps. He knew she didn’t need words; she needed a more intuitive response. She needed to know that the human Son of God heard and shared her lament.

Jesus comes at us with far more than words to offer, more than a moral system, a set of principles, or fleeting causes. He offers a vicariously human savior, a safe place in the kingdom of God, and the overwhelming hope of new creation. He could have given Mary and Martha a lesson in theology or told them to stop crying or asking questions because he was about to perform a miracle and call their brother out of the grave. But he didn’t rush there. Instead, he heard their questions and he offered the hand of a friend within a safe and inviting kingdom that is more than words. Slacktivists of the world, this is a cause that is worth dropping everything to join.

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

(1) Monica Hesse, “Facebook Activism: Lots of Clicks, but Little Sticks,” The Washington Post, July 2, 2009.

Alistair Begg – No Cause for Anxiety


The Lord regins, let the earth rejoice. Psalm 97:1

There are no real causes for anxiety as long as this blessed sentence is true. On earth the Lord’s power controls the rage of the wicked as readily as the rage of the sea; His love refreshes the poor with mercy as easily as the earth with showers. Majesty gleams in flashes of lightning amid the tempest’s horrors, and the glory of the Lord is seen in its grandeur in the fall of empires and the crash of thrones. In all our conflicts and tribulations, we may behold the hand of the divine King.

God is God; He sees and hears

All our troubles, all our tears.

Soul, forget not, in your pains,

God o’er all forever reigns.

In hell, evil spirits acknowledge, with misery, His undoubted supremacy. When permitted to roam about, it is with a chain at their heel; the bit is in the mouth of the beast, and the hook in the jaws of the monster. Death’s darts are under the Lord’s jurisdiction, and the grave’s prisons have divine power as their jailer. The terrible vengeance of the Judge of all the earth causes fiends to cower and tremble.

Fear not death, nor Satan’s thrusts,

God defends who in Him trusts;

Soul, remember, in your pains,

God o’er all forever reigns.

In heaven there are none who doubt the sovereignty of the King Eternal, but all fall on their faces to do Him homage. Angels are His courtiers, the redeemed His favorites, and all delight to serve Him day and night. May we soon reach the city of the great King!

For this life’s long night of sadness

He will give us peace and gladness.

Soul, remember, in your pains,

God o’er all forever reigns.

The Family Bible Reading Plan

  • 1 Samuel 2
  • Romans 2

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

Charles Spurgeon – God’s people in the furnace


“I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” Isaiah 48:10

Suggested Further Reading: Isaiah 43:1-7

Beloved, the first thing I will give you is the comfort of the text itself—election. Comfort yourself with this thought: God says, “I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” “The fire is hot, but he has chosen me; the furnace burns, but he has chosen me; these coals are hot, I do not love the place, but he has chosen me.” Ah! It comes like a soft gale assuaging the fury of the flame. It is like some gentle wind fanning the cheeks; yes, this one thought arrays us in fireproof armour, against which the heat has no power. “Let affliction come—God has chosen me. Poverty, you may come in at the door—God is in the house already, and he has chosen me. Sickness, you may come, but I will have this by my side for a balsam—God has chosen me. Whatever it is, I know that he has chosen me.” The next comfort is that you have the Son of man with you in the furnace. In that silent bedchamber of yours, there sits by your side one whom you have not seen, but whom you love; and often when you know it not, he makes your bed in your affliction, and smooths your pillow for you. You are in poverty; but in that lonely house of yours that has nothing to cover its bare walls, where you sleep on a miserable straw mattress, you know that the Lord of life and glory is a frequent visitor; he often treads those bare floors, and putting his hands upon those walls he consecrates them! If you were in a palace he might not come there. He loves to come into these desolate places that he may visit you. The Son of man is with you, Christian.

For meditation: There are some things that can only be proved in times of trouble (Daniel 3:17,25,28,29; James 1:12; 1 Peter 1:6,7).

Sermon no. 35

12 August (1855)


John MacArthur – Love in Action


“Love is patient . . . kind . . . not jealous . . . does not brag . . . is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly . . . does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:4-7).

Love is difficult to define, but it can be described by the behavior it produces.

Paul painted a portrait of the kind of love Jesus wants to produce in every believer. It is, in fact, a portrait of Christ Himself, who is love’s highest expression. Unlike most English translations, which include several adjectives, the Greek forms of all those properties are verbs. They do not focus on what love is so much as on what love does and does not do.

Set against the backdrop of the Corinthians’ self- promoting behavior, Paul’s words are a strong rebuke. He says in effect, “Love is patient, but you are impatient. Love is kind, but you are unkind toward those who disagree with you. Love is not jealous, but you envy those with certain spiritual gifts. Love does not brag, but you are proud of your theology. Love is not arrogant and does not act unbecomingly, but often you are rude and ill-mannered toward one another.

“Love does not seek its own, but you are self-centered. Love is not provoked, but you quarrel among yourselves. Love does not take into account a wrong suffered, but you hold grudges against each other. Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but you delight in one another’s failures. Love rejoices with the truth, but you distort and disobey God’s Word.

“Love bears all things, but you are defensive and resentful. Love is eager to believe the best about someone, but you are quick to assume the worst. Love never gives up and can tolerate incredible opposition, but you are weak and intolerant.”

Paul wanted the Corinthians to see the deficiencies in their love in light of the truth and make the needed corrections. You and I must do the same. So as we explore each of love’s characteristics, ask the Holy Spirit to purify your heart so others will clearly see Paul’s portrait of love on display in you.

Suggestions for Prayer

Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, substituting “Jesus” for “love.” Then praise Him for all His excellencies.

For Further Study

What does 1 John 3:13-18 teach about love?


Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – A Blameless Watchman


“If you refuse to warn the wicked when I want you to tell them, You are under the penalty of death, therefore repent and save your life – they will die in their sins, but I will punish you. I will demand your blood for theirs. But if you warn them and they keep on sinning, and refuse to repent, they will die in their sins, but you are blameless – you have done all you could” (Ezekiel 3:18-19).

One of the most sobering messages I find in all the words of God is this terrible warning found in the book of Ezekiel. God commanded Ezekiel to warn the people of Israel to turn from their sins. Some would argue that this has no application for the Christian. I would disagree. In principle this is exactly what our Lord commands us to do – to go and make disciples of all nations, to preach the gospel to all men, to follow Jesus and He will make us to become fishers of men.

It is a sobering thing to realize that all around us there are multitudes of men and women, even loved ones, who do not know the Savior. Many of them have never received an intelligent, Spirit-filled, loving witness concerning our Savior. Who will tell them? There are some people whom you and I can reach whom nobody else can influence.

I am writing this day’s devotion while in Amsterdam where I am speaking at an international gathering of Christian evangelists. During the course of my days here I have talked with many taxi drivers, maids, waiters and other employees of the hotel. Only one professed to be a believer and we had good fellowship together. Some were openly defiant, even angry at the name of Jesus. But in each case I have shared the gospel, constrained by the love of Christ out of a deep sense of gratitude for all that He has done for me, and as an act of obedience to His command to be His witness.

I pray that God will give me a greater sense of urgency to warn men that unless they turn to Christ they will die in their sins. I do not want to be responsible because I failed to warn them. They must know that there is a heaven and a hell and that there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved but the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Bible Reading: Ezekiel 3:15-21

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will ask the Holy Spirit to quicken within my heart, out of a deep sense of gratitude for all He has done for me and from a desire to obey our Lord’s commands, a greater sense of urgency to be His witness and to warn men to turn from their wicked ways and receive Christ, the gift of God’s love.

Presidential Prayer Team; G.C. – Labels


British author Frances Trollope observed in her book Domestic Manners of the Americans that the greatest difference between the English and American populations is “want of refinement.” Americans of the nineteenth century were incensed. But by the end of that century the label of the “The Ugly American,” vulgar and loud, was born.

I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.

Daniel 6:26

In the days of King Darius, a Babylonian pagan ruler, the King formed impressions of the Jewish God, Jehovah, based on observing his servant Daniel. “He is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.” (Daniel 6:26-27)

Today, don’t worry about what people say about your faith. Emulate Daniel, living humbly and openly, letting God take care of the rest. Likewise, pray for the men and women of faith walking among America’s leaders to be Daniel-like examples – and that many may see past Christian stereotypes to the knowledge of a compassionate Almighty God.

Recommended Reading: Micah 6:1, 6-9

Max Lucado – Divine Wisdom


When I was ten, my mother enrolled me in piano lessons. Spending afternoons tethered to a piano bench was a torture just one level away from swallowing broken glass. Some of the music I enjoyed. I hammered the staccatos. But I could never understand the rest. The zigzagged command to do nothing. Nothing! What sense does that make? Why sit and pause when you can pound? “Because,” my teacher patiently explained, “music is always sweeter after a rest.”

Divine wisdom. In fact, it reminds me of the convictions of another Teacher. Before He went to the masses, Christ went to the mountain. Before the disciples encountered the crowds, they encountered the Christ. And before they faced the people, they were reminded of the sacred! Is it time for you to rest?

From The Applause of Heaven

Night Light for Couples – A Wife’s Countenance


“He is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.” Deuteronomy 24:5

If you really want to know about a man and what kind of character he has, you need only look at the countenance of his wife. Everything he has invested, or withheld, will be there.”

That was the message Bill McCartney, then head coach of the University of Colorado football team, heard in a 1994 sermon. The words cut straight to his heart. McCartney had built the Colorado football program into a powerhouse that won a national championship in 1990. He had also cofounded a national men’s movement, Promise Keepers. But those achievements came at a price. For years McCartney had withheld his time and energy from his wife, Lyndi, and their four children. In 1994 Bill McCartney didn’t like what he saw in Lyndi’s countenance— so he resigned his position at Colorado to devote more time to his wife and family.

As a husband, you bear the primary responsibility for your wife’s welfare and emotional well‐being. What do you see in her face tonight?

Just between us…

  • (husband) Do you ever feel like you’re competing for my attention?
  • (husband) Do I appear preoccupied by my work or recreational activities?
  • (wife) What do you imagine it was like for Bill McCartney to walk away from his successful coaching career?
  • (wife) Do you ever struggle with trying to care for my emotional well‐being? Is there anything I can do to help?

(husband) Almighty God, with Your help I wholeheartedly accept my responsibility to care for my wife’s emotional well-being. May I increasingly become a master at it, so that I can see joy and contentment in her face. Amen.

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