Charles Stanley – An Invitation to Intimacy


Genesis 12:1-8

God, the Creator of the universe, chooses us. And when He does, His purpose is not simply to save us from eternity in hell. His love goes beyond that. He wants an intimate relationship with each one of us. Building this intimacy requires . . .

Commitment. God pledged that He would make Abraham into a great nation. He asked the future patriarch to demonstrate his allegiance by obeying the command to leave home for an unknown land. The Lord’s commitment to us is clear. He rescued us from sin through His Son Jesus, sent the Holy Spirit to live within us, and promised us eternal life. Our pledge is obedience in both inner attitude and outward action.

Clear Communication. To develop an intimate bond, two people will express deep thoughts and feelings, and they’ll also listen carefully to one another’s words. God speaks to us through Scripture about Himself and His plans, and He also stands ready to listen (Psalms 10:17). The time we spend praying and meditating on His Word reveals our commitment to communication, which includes listening, speaking, and understanding.

Openness. God speaks honestly about who we are, the condition of the world, and the only solution: Jesus Christ. He willingly tells us the difficult truths about ourselves but also encourages and affirms us in our efforts to follow Him. Our part consists of being honest with Him about our thinking, actions, and emotions.

Salvation is only the first step of life in Christ (John 3:16). Have you accepted the invitation to intimacy with God?

Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 15-17

Our Daily Bread — Not Again!


Read: 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

Bible in a Year: Psalms 87-88; Romans 13

God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. —2 Thessalonians 2:13

As I was reading the text message on my mobile phone, my temperature started to rise and my blood began to boil. I was on the verge of shooting back a nasty message when an inner voice told me to cool down and reply tomorrow. The next morning after a good night’s sleep, the issue that had upset me so greatly seemed so trivial. I had blown it out of proportion because I didn’t want to put another person’s interest before my own. I was unwilling to inconvenience myself so I could help someone.

Regretfully, I am tempted to respond in anger more often than I would like to admit. I constantly find myself having to put into practice familiar Bible truths, such as “Be angry, and do not sin” (Eph. 4:26) and “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4).

Thankfully, God has given us His Spirit who will assist us in our battle with our sin. The apostles Paul and Peter called it the “sanctifying work of the Spirit” (2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2 niv). Without His power, we are helpless and defeated; but with His power, we can have victory. —Poh Fang Chia

I’m grateful, Lord, that You are at work in me. I want You to change my heart; please help me to listen and to cooperate with You.For help with anger issues, read When Anger Burns at

The growth of a saint is the work of a lifetime.

INSIGHT: Paul’s letters to the church at Thessalonica are among his most personal. In 1 Thessalonians, he expresses appreciation for the believers who have continued the gospel work he had begun (ch. 1). Paul describes his love for them in compassionate and caring terms (chs. 2-3) and ultimately offers them hope and comfort regarding both the present and the future (chs. 4-5). In his second letter, he continues with themes of care and concern as he offers encouragement in hard times (ch. 1), clarity regarding the Lord’s return (ch. 2), and wisdom for living out their faith (ch. 3). Amazingly, this deep bond of care and love was formed in a mere 3 weeks—the length of time Paul actually was with his friends at Thessalonica (see Acts 17:2). Bill Crowder

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – From Disparate Threads


Some years ago, I was visiting a place known for making the best wedding saris in the world. They were the producers of saris rich in gold and silver threads, resplendent with an array of colors. With such intricacy of product, I expected to see some elaborate system of machines that would boggle the mind in production. But this image could not have been farther from the real scene.

Each sari was made individually by a father and son team. The father sat above the son on a platform, surrounded by several spools of thread that he would gather into his fingers. The son had only one task. At a nod from his father, he would move the shuttle from one side to the other and back again. This would then be repeated for hundreds of hours, until a magnificent pattern began to emerge.

The son certainly had the easier task. He was only to move at the father’s nod. But making use of these efforts, the father was working to an intricate end. All along, he had the design in his mind and was bringing the right threads together.

The more I reflect on my own life and study the lives of others, I am fascinated to see the design God has for each one of us individually, if we would only respond. All through our days, little reminders show the threads that God has woven into our lives.

Allow me to share a story from my own experience. As one searching for meaning in the throes of a turbulent adolescence, I found myself on a hospital bed from an attempted suicide. It was there that I was read the 14th chapter of John’s Gospel. My attention was fully captured by the part where Jesus says to his disciples: “Because I live, you shall live also” (John 14:19). I turned my life over to Christ that day, committing my pains, struggles, and pursuits to his able hands.

Almost thirty years to the day after this decision, my wife and I were visiting India and decided to visit my grandmother’s grave. With the help of a gardener we walked through the accumulated weeds and rubble until we found the stone marking her grave. With his bucket of water and a small brush, the gardener cleared off the years of caked-on dirt. To our utter surprise, under her name, a verse gradually appeared. My wife clasped my hand and said, “Look at the verse!” It read: “Because I live, you shall live also.”

A purposeful design emerges when the Father weaves a pattern from what to us may often seem disparate threads. Even today, if you will stop and attend to it, you will see that God is seeking to weave a beautiful tapestry in your life.

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

Charles Spurgeon – True prayer—true power


“Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” Mark 11:24

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 6:5-13

Allow me to quote what an old preacher said upon the subject of prayer, and give it to you as a little word of advice—“Remember, the Lord will not hear thee, because of the arithmetic of thy prayers; he does not count their numbers. He will not hear thee because of the rhetoric of thy prayers; he does not care for the eloquent language in which they are conveyed. He will not listen to thee because of the geometry of thy prayers; he does not compute them by their length, or by their breadth. He will not regard thee because of the music of thy prayers; he doth not care for sweet voices, nor for harmonious periods. Neither will he look at thee because of the logic of thy prayers, or because they are well arranged. But he will hear thee, and he will measure the amount of the blessing he will give thee, according to the divinity of thy prayers. If thou canst plead the person of Christ, and if the Holy Ghost inspire thee with zeal and earnestness, the blessings which thou shalt ask, shall surely come unto thee.” Brethren, I would like to burn the whole stock of old prayers that we have been using this fifty years. That “oil that goes from vessel to vessel,”—that “horse that rushes into the battle,”—that misquoted mangled text, “where two or three are met together, thou wilt be in the midst of them, and that to bless them,” and all those other quotations which we have been manufacturing, and dislocating, and copying from man to man. I would that we came to speak to God, just out of our own hearts. It would be a grand thing for our prayer meetings.

For meditation: There is a world of difference between performing prayers and real praying (Luke 18:10-13).

Sermon no. 328

13 August (Preached 12 August 1860)

John MacArthur – Winning Through Non-Retaliation


“Love is patient” (1 Cor. 13:4).

Love does not retaliate.

We usually think of patience as the ability to wait or endure without complaint—whether it’s with people or circumstances. But the Greek word translated “patience” in 1 Corinthians 13:4 refers specifically to patience with people. It literally means “to be long tempered,” and speaks of one who could easily retaliate when wronged but chooses not to.

That kind of patience is a spiritual virtue reflective of God Himself (cf. Gal 5:22). It can’t be duplicated on a purely human level. But for Christians, it’s to be a way of life. Paul said, “I . . . entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love” (Eph. 4:1-2).

God Himself is the supreme example of patience. Peter said, “[He] is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). Those who reject His grace are despising “the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience” (Rom. 2:4).

In the Greco-Roman world of Paul’s day, retaliating for a personal insult or injury was considered a virtue. Non- retaliation was interpreted as a sign of weakness. Our society is much the same. Our heroes tend to be those who fight back with physical strength or litigation. But that isn’t God’s perspective, nor was it Christ’s in praying for His killers, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

As you consider your own patience, remember that retaliation isn’t always blatant and forceful. It’s often subtle—like withholding affection from your spouse when he or she has wronged you, or withdrawing from a friend who has hurt you. But godly love never retaliates. It cares more for the feelings of others than for its own.

Remember the Lord’s patience toward you, and allow His Spirit to produce similar patience in you.

Suggestions for Prayer

If you are harboring resentment toward someone who has wronged you, confess it to the Lord and do everything you can to reconcile with that person.

For Further Study

Read Genesis 50:15-21.

  • What fear did Joseph’s brothers have?
  • How did Joseph react to their plea for forgiveness?
  • How did God use the brothers’ sin to accomplish His own purposes?

Joyce Meyer – What About Me?


Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. – 1 John 4:8 NIV

God is love, and His nature is that of a giver. He gives, He helps, He cares, and He sacrifices. He does not do these things occasionally; they represent His constant attitude toward us. Love is not something God does—it is Who He is. He always offers us love, generosity, grace, and help. God does chastise His children when they need it, but He even does that out of love and for our own good to teach us the right way to live.

Everything God does is for our good; all of His commands are intended to help us have the best lives we can possibly have. Because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit (see Romans 5:5), we can love and be kind to others, which means taking the focus off of ourselves, silencing the internal voice that asks, What about me?, and learning to follow Jesus’ example of being kind, generous, and loving toward others.

Power Thought: I love because I know God, and God is love.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – A Matter of the Will 


“If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself” (John 7:17, KJV).

At the conclusion of an address I gave at M.I.T., a skeptical young man approached me. He said, “I am a scientist. I can’t believe anything that I can’t see. I must be able to go into the laboratory and test a proposition or a theory. I must prove its authenticity before I will believe and accept.

“Religion,” he said, “is a matter of faith. It has no substance and, as far as I’m concerned, no validity.”

I turned to the seventh chapter of John, verse 17 – our Scripture portion for today – and asked him to read it aloud.

“Do you understand what Jesus is saying here?” I asked.

“Well, I’m not sure,” he replied. “What is your point?”

“Your problem is not your intellect, but your will. Are you willing to do what God wants you to do? Are there relationships in your life that you’re not willing to surrender in order to do the will of God? Are there moral problems, problems of integrity that you are not willing to relinquish?”

An odd expression came over his countenance.

“How did you know?” Then he said, “I’d like to talk to you privately.” Later, as we sat together alone, he poured out his heart to me. He said, “I know that what you’re saying is true. I know that there’s a God in heaven, and I know that Jesus Christ is His Son and that He died on the cross for me.

“But,” he said, “there is sin in my life. I have been living with a young woman without the benefit of marriage for the last couple of years. Today you have exposed me for what I really am – a fraud, a sham, a hypocrite, and I want with God’s help to terminate my present relationship with this young woman and receive Christ into my life.”

I am happy to report that, soon after, he and the young woman both surrendered their lives to Christ and were married. Together they are making their lives count for the glory of God.

Bible Reading: John 7:14-18

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will confess – and turn from – all known sin that keeps me from knowing and doing the will of God. I will also share this message with others.

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

Greg Laurie – Depending on Him


“I am the LORD, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to carved images”—Isaiah 42:8

Have you ever noticed that Jesus never really healed people in exactly the same way? Sometimes He would touch a person, and sometimes a person would touch Him. At other times He would speak the word, and they would be healed.

It seems as though God goes out of His way to accomplish His purposes through unusual and varied means. We find a great example of this in the story of Naaman. As the leader of the armies of Assyria, he was famous, powerful, influential, and admired by many. But he had leprosy. There was an Israelite maid working in his house who had been captured as a slave, and she suggested that he go to Israel. There was a prophet there named Elisha who could pray for him, and he would be healed.

So Naaman went to the king of Assyria and told him what his maid had said. Then the king sent a message to Israel’s king, saying, “Now be advised, when this letter comes to you, that I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may heal him of his leprosy” (2 Kings 5:6).

Naaman and his entourage arrived in town and stopped in front of Elijah’s house, expecting a hero’s welcome. But Elisha didn’t even give Naaman the time of day. He just sent his servant, Gehazi, to the door with a message for him: Go dunk yourself in the Jordan River seven times, and you will be healed.

There was a reason God wanted Naaman to do it this way. To go into the water, Naaman would have to take off his armor and royal clothing and reveal what he really was.

God likes to vary His methods so we will be dependent on Him—and so that He will get the glory.


Max Lucado – The Beginning of Joy


In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and I will give you rest.” You’ve been there. You’re turned your back on the noise and sought his voice. You’ve stepped away from the masses and followed the Master as he led you up the winding path to the summit. His summit. Clean air. Clear view. Crisp breeze. The roar of the marketplace is down there, and the perspective of the peak is up here. Gently he invited you to sit on the rock and look out with him at the ancient peaks that will never erode.

Just remember, he says, you’ll go nowhere tomorrow that I haven’t already been. Truth will still triumph. Death will still die. The victory is still yours. And delight is one decision away—seize it! Joy begins by breathing deep up there before you go crazy down here!

From The Applause of Heaven

Night Light for Couples – Martha’s Secret Ingredient


by Roy J. Reiman

It bothered Ben every time he walked through the kitchen. It was that little metal container on the shelf above Martha’s cook stove. He probably would not have noticed it so much or been bothered by it if Martha had not repeatedly told him never to touch it. The reason, she said, was that it contained a “secret herb” from her mother, and since she had no way of refilling the container, she was concerned that if Ben or anyone else ever picked it up and looked inside, they might accidentally drop it and spill its valuable contents.

The container wasn’t really much to look at. It was so old that much of its original red and gold floral pattern had faded. You could tell right where it had been gripped again and again when the container was lifted and its tight lid pulled off. Not only Martha’s fingers had gripped it there; her mother’s and her grandmother’s had, too. Martha didn’t know for sure, but she thought that perhaps even her great‐grandmother had used this same container and its “secret herb.”

All Ben knew for certain was that shortly after he had married Martha, her mother had brought the container to Martha and told her to make the same loving use of its contents as she had.

And she did, faithfully. Ben never saw Martha cook a dish without taking the container off the shelf and sprinkling just a little of the secret herb over the ingredients. Even when she baked cakes, pies, and cookies, she added a light sprinkling just before she put the pans in the oven.

Whatever was in that container, it sure worked, for Ben thought that Martha was the best cook in the world. He wasn’t alone in that opinion— anyone who ever ate at their house grandly praised Martha’s cooking.

But why wouldn’t she let Ben touch that little container? Was she really afraid he’d spill its contents? And what did that secret herb look like? It was so fine that whenever Martha sprinkled it over the food she was preparing, Ben couldn’t quite make out its texture. She obviously had to use very little of it because there was no way to refill the container.

Somehow Martha had stretched those contents over thirty years of marriage, and it had never failed to effect mouth‐watering results.

Ben became increasingly tempted to look into that container just once, but he never brought himself to do so.

Then one day Martha became ill. Ben took her to the hospital, where they kept her overnight. When he returned home, he found it extremely lonely in the house. Martha had never been gone overnight before. And when it neared suppertime, he wondered what to do— Martha had so loved to cook that he had never bothered to learn much about preparing food.

When he wandered into the kitchen to see what was in the refrigerator, he immediately saw the container on the shelf. His eyes were drawn to it like a magnet. He quickly looked away, but his curiosity drew him back.

What was in that container? Why wasn’t he to touch it? What did that secret herb look like? How much of it was left?

Ben looked away again and lifted the cover of a large cake pan on the kitchen counter. Ahh… there was more than half of one of Martha’s great cakes left. He cut off a large piece, sat down at the kitchen table, and hadn’t taken more than one bite when his eyes went back to that container again. What would it hurt if he looked inside? Why was Martha so secretive about that container, anyway?

Ben took another bite and debated with himself—should he or shouldn’t he? For five more big bites he thought about it, staring at the container. Finally he could no longer resist.

He walked slowly across the room and ever so carefully took the container off the shelf, fearing that—horror of horrors—he’d spill the contents while sneaking a peek.

He set the container on the counter and carefully pried off the lid. He was almost scared to look inside! When the inside of the container came into full view, Ben’s eyes opened wide. Why, the container was empty—except for a little folded scrap of paper at the bottom.

Ben reached down for the paper, struggling to get his big rugged hand inside. He carefully picked it up by a corner, removed it, and slowly unfolded it under the kitchen light.

A brief note was scrawled inside, and Ben immediately recognized the handwriting as that of Martha’s mother. Very simply it said: “Martha—To everything you make, add a dash of love.”

Ben swallowed hard, replaced the note and the container, and quietly went back to finishing his cake. Now he completely understood why it tasted so good.

Looking ahead…

Even though for the first thirty years of their marriage, Ben couldn’t quite identify his wife’s “secret herb,” he knew it was there—and that it made a wonderful difference in his wife’s cooking. If you’re the wife in the marriage partnership, I suspect that you have added your own secret ingredient to many aspects of your marriage.

We’ll be talking about the role of a wife this week and offering several definitions, but most of it boils down to this: As you help and care for your husband, add a dash of love to everything you do.

– James C Dobson

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