Charles Stanley – Finding Contentment

 

John 14:1 (NLT)

Too often we let our circumstances determine our attitude. If life is going smoothly, then we feel good about ourselves. But when it gets hard, our mood drops. However, we don’t have to live this way. Like the apostle Paul, we can learn and practice the secret of being content.

Contentment means accepting things the way they are—in other words, not wanting anything to be more or different. This requires developing an “I can through Christ” attitude. It means learning to allow God’s power to come into our weakness so we can accept and adapt to changing circumstances. When we respond to life with that kind of thinking, we move beyond living by feelings to living by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Submission and trust are needed for such a lifestyle. First, we must surrender our will to God’s: In every situation, we are to yield what we want and then accept whatever He allows. Our desire to control events is replaced by reliance on Him. This option becomes more appealing when we realize that the alternative—fighting against our circumstances—brings anxiety and distress. The second step is to trust God to oversee our specific situation. If we believe He is working out His perfect plan for us, then we will experience the joy that comes from trusting Him. Contentment will be ours.

Paul submitted his life to God and trusted Him. He faced insults, rejection, and many difficult trials but was still content. When we surrender control to the Lord and believe He has our best interest at heart, we will experience contentment, too. Who has control in your life?

Bible in One Year: Nahum 1-3

Our Daily Bread — A New Creation

 

Read: Acts 9:10-22

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 1-2; Galatians 5

If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. —2 Corinthians 5:17

Early in my work life I had a coworker who seemed to delight in using God’s name as a profanity. He mercilessly taunted Christians who were new to their faith or who tried to talk with him about Jesus. On the day I left that job to move to another community and a new place of employment, I remember thinking that this man would never become a follower of Jesus.

Two years later I visited my old workplace. He was still there, but never have I witnessed such a dramatic change in a person! This man, so antagonistic to faith, was now a walking, talking example of what it means to be a “new creation” in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). And now, more than 30 years later, he’s still telling others how Jesus “met him where he was—sin and all.”

It occurs to me that the early Christians must have seen something similar in Paul, their fiery persecutor—a riveting example of what it means to become a new creation (Acts 9:1-22). What great hope both of these lives are to those who think themselves beyond redemption!

Jesus sought Paul and my former coworker—and me. And He continues today to reach the “unreachable” and model for us just how we can reach people too. —Randy Kilgore

Lord, I want to learn to reach out to others and share Your love and forgiveness. Teach me and help me to step out in both faith and trust.For further study, check out Truth with Love: Sharing the Story of Jesus by Ajith Fernando at discoveryseries.org/hp141

No one is beyond the reach of God.

INSIGHT: A true encounter with Jesus always results in change. However, this change is not in merely stopping negative behavior; true change begins to do positive things. Saul immediately “began to preach” (v. 20). J.R. Hudberg

Alistair Begg – God’s Church

 

He was standing among the myrtle trees in the glen. Zechariah 1:8

The vision in this chapter describes the condition of Israel in Zechariah’s day; but being interpreted in its aspect toward us, it describes the Church of God as we find it now in the world. The Church is compared to a myrtle grove flourishing in a glen.

It is hidden, unobserved, courting no honor and attracting no attention from the careless gazer. The Church, like her Head, has a glory, but it is concealed from carnal eyes, for the time of her breaking forth in all her splendor is not yet here.

The idea of tranquil security is also suggested to us, for the myrtle grove in the glen is still and calm, while the storm sweeps over the mountaintops. Tempests spend their force upon the craggy peaks of the Alps, but down where the stream flows that makes glad the city of our God, the myrtles flourish by still waters and are unshaken by the impetuous wind. How great is the inward tranquillity of God’s Church! Even when opposed and persecuted, she has a peace that the world does not give and that, therefore, it cannot take away: The peace of God that passes all understanding keeps the hearts and minds of God’s people.

Doesn’t the metaphor forcefully picture the peaceful, perpetual growth of the saints? The myrtle does not shed her leaves-she is always green; and the church in her worst time still has a blessed covering of grace about her; indeed, she has sometimes exhibited most vegetation when her winter has been sharpest. She has prospered most when her adversities have been most severe.

Hence the text hints at victory. The myrtle is the emblem of peace and a significant token of triumph. The brows of conquerors were wreathed with myrtle and with laurel; and isn’t the church always victorious? Isn’t every Christian more than a conqueror through Him who loved him? Living in peace, don’t the saints fall asleep in the arms of victory?

The Family Bible Reading Plan

  • 2 Samuel 22
  • Galatians 2

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

Charles Spurgeon – His name—the Counsellor

 

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor.” Isaiah 9:6

Suggested Further Reading: Proverbs 8 (which was read earlier in the same service)

Tried child of God, your daughter is sick; your gold has melted in the fire; you are sick yourself, and your heart is sad. Christ counsels you, and he says, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, he will sustain thee; he will never suffer the righteous to be moved.” Young man, you that are seeking to be great in this world, Christ counsels you this morning. “Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not.” I shall never forget my early years. I was ambitious; I was seeking to go to college, to leave my poor people in the wilderness that I might become something great; and as I was walking that text came with power to my heart; “Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not.” I suppose about forty pounds a year was the sum total of my income, and I was thinking how I should make both ends meet, and whether it would not be a great deal better for me to resign my charge and seek something for the bettering of myself, and so forth. But this text ran in my ears, “Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not.” “Lord,” said I, “I will follow thy counsel and not my own devices;” and I have never had cause to regret it. Always take the Lord for your guide, and you shall never go amiss. Backslider! You that have a name to live, and are dead, or nearly dead, Christ gives you counsel. “I counsel thee to buy of me, gold tried in the fire and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed.” And sinner! You that are far from God, Christ gives you counsel. “Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Depend on it, it is loving counsel. Take it.

For meditation: God has promised to guide his children and to keep an eye on them (Psalm 32:8). His guidance has a sure foundation and a great advantage over the thoughts and intentions of men (Psalm 33:10,11). We can seek his guidance right where we are; isn’t it strange that we can so often go to him last of all?

Sermon no. 215

26 September (1858)

 

John MacArthur – Satan Opposes God’s Word

 

“Take . . . the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17).

Despite Satanic opposition, God’s Word will accomplish its work in His people.

In Matthew 13 Jesus tells the parable of the sower and the seed: “Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. And others fell upon the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up. . . . But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil, and yielded a crop” (vv. 3-8).

Jesus went on to explain that the seed is the truth of God’s Word. Satan and his demonic forces can snatch it away from those who hear it yet don’t understand what it means. They can bring affliction and persecution against those who have an emotional commitment only, thereby causing them to lose heart and fall away. In some cases they choke out the Word with worry and the deceitfulness of riches (vv. 19-22).

But truly repentant sinners receive and nurture the gospel truth, just as prepared soil receives and nurtures seed. They hear it, understand it, receive it, and produce spiritual fruit (v. 23).

Proclaiming the gospel is an important aspect of taking the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17). As you do, others are saved and join God’s army. But be warned: Satan never gives up territory without a fight. Some of the people you witness to will forget what you tell them. Others will refuse to turn from worldly influences. Still others may respond emotionally, but without a genuine commitment to serving Christ and forsaking sin.

Those spiritual battles should compel you to bathe your evangelism in prayer and undergird it with a clear gospel presentation. If people understand precisely what it means to receive Christ, and if their hearts are prepared by the Holy Spirit, they’ll not be so easily victimized by satanic opposition.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Lord to give you an opportunity to share Christ with someone today, or to encourage a struggling believer.

For Further Study

Read 1 Thessalonians 3:1-8.

  • What was Paul’s concern for the Thessalonian believers?
  • What did he do to eliminate his concern?

Joyce Meyer – Ready Minds

 

Now these [Jews] were better disposed and more noble than those in Thessalonica, for they were entirely ready and accepted and welcomed the message [concerning the attainment through Christ of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God] with inclination of mind and eagerness, searching and examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. – Acts 17:11

One of my much-published writer friends taught a series of classes at a writers’ conference on beginning writing. He wanted to reach people who felt God had called them to write and show them how to get their articles and books published.

At the beginning, he asked the attendees how long they had been writing and if they had ever published. Two women, who sat in the front row, said they had both been writing for almost twelve years, but had not yet published anything.

At the end of the first lecture, my friend overheard one of the women say to the other, “Oh, we know all of that. We don’t need to come back to this class.”

They may have already known the things he was teaching, but there was no evidence they had applied what they knew. He also commented that the most eager students in the classroom were those who had already begun to publish. They wanted to learn and improve. Only people who are humble enough to continue learning will ever succeed.

That incident makes me think of an event in the book of Acts. The apostles Paul and Silas preached in Thessalonica, and the people tried to kill them, so believers helped them flee. From there, they went to the city of Berea. Luke records that the people there were fair in their thinking. They received the message “with all readiness,” or, as I like to say, they had ready minds.

That means those were people who were open to God—they were willing to hear what God said, no matter whether it was good news or bad.

If I asked any group of Christians, “Are you ready-minded?” they would immediately say that they were. That’s what we assume being a Christian means—ready, open, willing to hear God, and to be obedient to what He says.

For many people, being ready-minded means that they are ready and open if the message is what they want to hear. If it’s not what they want to hear, they don’t try to kill the messengers like the Thessalonians, but they say, “Oh, we know all of that,” and stop listening. What does it really mean to be ready-minded? It means being willing to turn away from every lie and deception that Satan offers. It means being willing to say, “I was wrong.” It means that instead of listening only for what we want to hear, we listen for what we need to hear.

To be ready-minded means we discern the source of the voice. We love to hear words that make us feel good and encourage us, but we don’t like words that make us aware of our shortcomings. In Satan’s battle for our minds, one of his tricks is to convince us that a message isn’t important or that we already know it. He may even say that the message is not correct, and by doing so, he prevents us from hearing what we really need in order to gain our own freedom.

For example, a pastor preached a sermon against gossip one day. He aimed his message at one woman—who delighted in telling people tales about others. What she didn’t know, she allowed her imagination to fill in. At the end of the service, she said to the pastor, “That was an excellent message. A lot of people in this church need to hear that.”

The pastor said she wasn’t being sarcastic or hypocritical. She simply didn’t get the message. She didn’t have that ready mind—the mind that was open to receive a message of grace and help from God. It never occurred to her that she needed the message. To have a ready mind is not always easy. In fact, the more seriously the Holy Spirit wants to deal with us, the more Satan tries to convince us that we already “know all that” or it’s not something we need to hear.

Lord Jesus, please give me a ready mind. Enable me to hear You clearly and easily. Enable me to say, “Yes, Lord,” no matter what Your Spirit has to say to me. I want to have a ready mind that pleases You in everything. I ask this in Your name. Amen.

From the book Battlefield of the Mind Devotional by Joyce Meyer.

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – His Word Remains Forever

 

“Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words remain forever” (Matthew 24:35).

In a day of change and turmoil, the promise is made that the word of God will stand forever. The significance of that guarantee is monumental, incredible. It is not just that a book shall remain in print; rather, it is that the multitudinous truths contained in that book likewise will remain in effect steadfast and true.

Long after heaven and earth have passed away God’s holy Word will continue to endure.

That should mean much to you and me in our daily walk. God’s promise, “All things work together for good,” to the believer is just as true today as it was when it was written centuries ago.

In fact, every one of the promises in the Word of God – including the 365 referred to in this daily devotional – is bona fide, guaranteed by the God of the universe, the Creator of all things. That alone should strengthen our faith to know that we can trust him supremely with our lives and everything concerned with them.

When all else fails, when hope is almost gone, we can come back to the Word of God, which is “quick and powerful and sharper than a two-edged sword.” It will have the answer for every problem, every burden, every need we face.

Bible Reading: Matthew 24:36-42

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will place my complete confidence in God’s unchanging Word and will rest upon His faithful promises to all believers for supernatural living.

 

Presidential Prayer Team; C.H. – Son Revolution

 

The Earth is approximately 93 million miles from the sun. It travels in a path around the sun once every 365.265 days. This orbit creates the seasons as the planet travels in an ellipse both toward and away from the center of the solar system.

We always pray for you…that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you.

II Thessalonians 1:11-12

While the Earth revolves around the sun, you are to model your prayers around the Son. In today’s passage, Paul prays for the church in Thessalonica to be worthy of His calling and for Him to be glorified. In other words, Paul prays for the Thessalonians’ lives to revolve around Jesus. This is good advice, too, for modern day believers.

Are you the center of all your appeals to the Lord? If you want God to hear your prayers and be moved to action, make Christ the focal point of your requests. Ask for His purposes to be carried out through you and for God to be glorified through you. Seek to have His mindset and to be sensitive to His Spirit. Then pray for His will be done in the lives of all Americans, especially those in government offices.

Recommended Reading: I Peter 4:1-11

Greg Laurie –False Alarms and Idiot Lights

 

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” —Genesis 2:24

Our smoke alarm went off the other night at 4:00 A.M. I jumped out of bed and was ready to take action. Turns out the unit malfunctioned. (Why does it always go off at 4:00 A.M. and not P.M.?)

Because of incidents like this, we tend to tune out alarms. Who even looks when a car alarm goes off in a parking structure? We assume it’s just someone trying to find their car.

One alarm you do not want to ignore is the fuel light in your car. If you do, you will come to a complete stop. You can’t run on fumes.

Many marriages today are “running on empty.” They have not taken hold of the power that’s available; they’re not operating by the principles given in the User’s Manual. Remember, God invented marriage. And there is a right and wrong way to do it.

Happy, strong, and lasting marriages don’t happen by accident. Marriage is something that to be good and fulfilling takes the right ingredients. It is the result of effort on the part of the partners involved.

Marriage is not so much finding the right person as it is being the right person. But all of this is to be done with God’s help. A strong and happy marriage is the result of obedience to God and His Word and laying aside this world’s distorted “take it or leave it” concept of marriage.

If we want to have the closest thing to “heaven on earth” apart from Christ’s return—if we want a marriage and family that succeeds, we must do it as He tells us to.

It’s all in the “User’s Manual of Life,” the Bible.

Night Light for Couples –Attitude Control

 

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 2:5

One morning, the late Bishop Fulton Sheen entered a greasy spoon for breakfast. “Bring me some ham and eggs and a few kind words for the day,” he said.

The waitress returned fifteen minutes later and set the food before him. “There,” she said. “What about the kind words?” he asked. She looked him over and replied, “I’d advise you not to eat them eggs!” Sometimes the first few events of the day make it clear it’s going to be a “downer.” No matter what you do, you can’t stop life’s bad turns: the car that rear‐ends yours on the way to work; the traffic jam that causes you to miss an important appointment. Yet you can choose your reaction to such irritating events.

We can live happily despite the ups and downs of everyday living, but to do so takes a great measure of dependence on Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul said it best: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12–13).

Just between us…

  • Am I generally cheerful and optimistic—or gloomy and pessimistic?
  • How do I usually react when I’m disappointed or discouraged?
  • How do my mood swings affect you and our marriage? How can we respond more positively to difficult events?

Dear Father, we invite You to be at work in us—individually and in our relationship—to grow in us the same attitude as Jesus Christ. We don’t want to be ruled by circumstances or moods but by Your Spirit. Amen.

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

Streams in the Desert for Kids – The Living One

 

Revelation 1:18

Have you ever been to a funeral? They are very sad times. There is a finality to funerals that is difficult for us to understand. One moment the person we love is with us on earth, and the next he or she is gone. A funeral is a way for us to say goodbye to that person. We know that we will meet him or her again in heaven, but it’s still hard without him or her here on earth. We won’t be able to make any more memories with that person. We won’t be able to laugh with him or her about a funny joke. Death is the end of everything we know here on earth. We will all die someday and leave our life here behind.

But there is one person who lives forever. Christ died on the cross, but three days later he burst the chains of death and rose victoriously. Christ conquered death and lives in heaven, at the right hand of God the Father. And Christ also lives within us, working within your heart to bring his kingdom to earth. Because Christ lives, we don’t have to fear death. We don’t have to worry when our loved ones pass away. Someday we will all share in Christ’s eternal, heavenly glory!

Dear Lord, The best news of all is that you are alive today and that you love me. I know that someday I’ll be able to see you and everyone I love here on earth! Amen.