September 16, 2011 – Stanley

The Ruler Is Cast Out
JOHN 12:27-32
 

 

When Christ was hanging on the cross, Satan was celebrating. He thought he’d won a strategic battle against God. But instead, the Enemy was defeated decisively.

However, we don’t always feel as if Satan has been conquered. That’s because we still struggle against the principalities and powers in this world. You see, the Enemy was not annihilated at the cross—that will happen later (Rev. 20:2, 10). For now, he continues to reign over those who are without Christ. Yet his power over believers was broken at Calvary. As Christians, we are not of this world, but rather, we’re part of God’s kingdom (John 17:16). Therefore, the Lord has sole control of our destiny.

But remember that Satan is a deceiver. He wants people to believe he reigns supreme on earth—and to be disheartened when they look around at the havoc he wreaks. Indeed, Jesus does call him “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31). But don’t miss the rest of the verse, which says the ruler “will be cast out.”

The Devil cannot makes believers sin. He can tempt and taunt but is powerless to force disobedience (Rom. 6:14). Moreover, Satan cannot condemn Christ’s followers (Rom. 8:1). He’ll incite guilt in your heart if you let him, but that doesn’t change the fact that you are a saved, beloved, and heaven-bound child of God.

When Jesus was here, Satan gave it his best shot to destroy God’s plan and power on earth. He failed miserably. The Enemy was defeated when the Lord humbly paid the price for mankind’s sin debt—past, present, and future—and rose in triumph over death. Believers share in the victory

September 16, 2011 Begg

What Does Partake Mean?      –     Partakers of the divine nature.

2 Peter 1:4

To be a partaker of the divine nature is not, of course, to become God. That cannot be. The essence of Deity is not to be participated in by the creature. Between the creature and the Creator there will always be a fixed gulf in terms of essence; but as the first man Adam was made in the image of God, so we, by the renewal of the Holy Spirit, are in a diviner sense made in the image of the Most High and are “partakers of the divine nature.”

We are, by grace, made like God. “God is love”;1 we become love-“whoever loves has been born of God.”2 God is truth; we become true, and we love what is true. God is good, and He makes us good by His grace, so that we become the pure in heart who will see God.

Moreover, we become partakers of the divine nature in an even higher sense than this-in fact, in as lofty a sense as can be conceived, short of our being absolutely divine. Do we not become members of the body of the divine person of Christ? Yes, the same blood that flows in the head flows in the hand: And the same life that quickens Christ quickens His people, for “You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”3 As if this were not enough, we are married to Christ. He has betrothed us to Himself in righteousness and in faithfulness, and he who is joined to the Lord is one with Him.

Marvelous mystery! We look into it, but who will understand it? One with Jesus-so much so that the branch is not more one with the vine than we are a part of the Lord, our Savior and our Redeemer! While we rejoice in this, let us remember that those who are made “partakers of the divine nature” will display this high and holy relationship in their relationships with others and will make it evident in their daily walk and conversation that they have escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. O for more divine holiness of life!

 

1John 4:8

21 John 4:7

3Colossians 3:3

The family reading plan for

September 16, 2011

2 Samuel 12 | 2 Corinthians 5

September 15, 2011 – Stanley

The Truth about Salvation
ACTS 16:31
 

Do you ever wonder if faith in Jesus is really the only way to be saved? Satan is a crafty liar who will twist God’s Word to cause confusion. In order to steer people away from following Christ, he tries to create the impression that eventually everyone will make it to heaven. But that is not what Scripture teaches.

The truth is that we can choose to reject the salvation that Christ freely offers. John’s gospel tells us, “God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (3:17-18).

God clearly states that whoever believes in Jesus Christ will be saved (v. 16). And the Bible stresses that we have only this earthly life in which to make a choice—there are no second chances after death.

So if you would like to be sure of your salvation, you can do so by inviting Jesus to be your personal Savior today. God, who wants you to spend eternity with Him, offers compelling reasons to make this all-important decision: “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but the wrath of God abides on him who does not obey Christ” (v. 36).

The possibility of a second chance is seductive, but do not be fooled. There are no more chances to be saved after death. The free gift of salvation is available only in this life—and only through Jesus (14:6). Receive the Savior now, and you never have to wonder what awaits you in eternity

September 15, 2011

Bad News?      –     He is not afraid of bad news.

Psalms 112:7

Christian, you ought not to be afraid of the arrival of bad news; because if you are distressed by such, you are no different from other men. They do not have your God to run to; they have never proved His faithfulness as you have done, and it is no wonder if they are bowed down with alarm and cowed with fear. But you profess to be of another spirit; you have been born again to a living hope, and your heart lives in heaven and not on earthly things. If you are seen to be distracted as other men, what is the value of that grace that you profess to have received? Where is the dignity of that new nature that you claim to possess?

Again, if you should be filled with alarm like others, you would no doubt be led into the sins so common to them under trying circumstances. The ungodly, when they are overtaken by bad news, rebel against God; they murmur and maintain that God has dealt harshly with them. Will you fall into that same sin? Will you provoke the Lord as they do?

Moreover, unconverted men often run to wrong means in order to escape from difficulties, and you will be sure to do the same if your mind yields to the present pressure. Trust in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him. Your wisest course is to do what Moses did at the Red Sea: “Stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD.”1 For if you give way to fear when you hear bad news, you will be unable to meet the trouble with that calm composure that prepares for duty and sustains in adversity.

How can you glorify God if you play the coward? Saints have often sung God’s high praises in the fires, but when you act as if there were no one to help, will your doubting and despondency magnify the Most High? Then take courage and, relying in sure confidence upon the faithfulness of your covenant God, “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”2

1Exodus 14:13

2John 14:27

The family reading plan for

September 15, 2011

2 Samuel 11 | 2 Corinthians 4

September 14, 2011 – Begg

Face what He Faced

And other boats were with him.

Mark 4:36

Jesus was the Lord High Admiral of the sea that night, and His presence preserved the whole convoy. It is good to sail with Jesus, even though we may be in a little boat. When we sail in Christ’s company, we cannot be sure of fine weather, for great storms may toss the vessel that carries the Lord Himself, and we should not expect to find the sea less boisterous around our little boat. If we go with Jesus we must be content to face what He faces; and when the waves are rough for Him, they will be rough for us. It is through tempest and storm that we will reach land, just as He did before us. When the storm swept over Galilee’s dark lake, the faces wore anxious frowns, and all hearts dreaded shipwreck.

When every attempt to ride it out proved useless, the resting Savior rose and with a word transformed the billowing tempest into the deep quiet of a calm. Then all the other boats were at rest as well as the one that carried the Lord. Jesus is the star of the sea; and though there is sorrow on the sea, when Jesus is on it, there is also joy.

May our hearts make Jesus their anchor, their rudder, their lighthouse, their lifeboat, and their harbor. His Church is the Admiral’s flagship; let us attend her exercises and cheer her officers with our presence. He Himself is the great attraction; let us always follow in His wake, observe His signals, steer by His chart, and never fear while He is within reach. Not one ship in the convoy shall be wrecked; the great Captain will steer every craft in safety to the desired haven. By faith we will raise our anchor for another day’s cruise and sail with Jesus into a sea of tribulation. Winds and waves will not spare us, but they all obey Him; and therefore whatever squalls may occur on the outside, faith will enjoy a blessed calm within. He is always in the center of the weather-beaten company:

Let us rejoice in Him. His boat has reached the harbor, and so will ours.

The family reading plan for

September 14, 2011

2 Samuel 10 | 2 Corinthians 3

September 14, 2011 – Stanley

The Riches of God’s Grace
EPHESIANS 1:1-14
 

Do you think of yourself as rich? No matter how much money you have, if you’re a believer in Jesus, you’re extremely wealthy because God has lavished the riches of His grace upon you. At the moment of salvation, He deposited into your account “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (v. 3). Why, then, do so many believers live in spiritual poverty?

1. Ignorance. Some Christians don’t know about this unlimited spiritual “bank account,” and, therefore, they never draw upon it.

2. Confusion. Too many believers just don’t know how to access the treasures of God’s grace. As a result, they worry and complain about their needs and problems or in desperation come to the Lord begging and pleading for help, never realizing His abundant supply has already been deposited into their account.

3. Competing Interests. Distraction by things of this world may be the most common reason. Christians in this category focus on possessions, pressing responsibilities, and advancement but lack interest in God’s spiritual blessings.

The riches of God’s grace supersede any earthly wealth. They give the peace and contentment that money can never buy, and their benefits reach all the way into eternity.

The only way to access God’s spiritual riches is by faith. We don’t have to beg or persuade the Lord to give what He has already made available to us. Instead, we simply choose to believe that we are who He says we are and can do what He has called us to accomplish

September 13, 2011 – Stanley

Reconciling God’s Love and Justice
PSALM 33:4-5

Some people reject the message of salvation because they are offended by the Bible’s description of God’s wrath. Even believers struggle to reconcile the Lord’s love and justice. How can He at the same time be perfectly loving and perfectly just? In an attempt to come to terms with this dilemma, we often try to soften the message of judgment and instead emphasize the Father’s loving qualities. But love and justice are not contradictory terms. In fact, you can’t have one without the other.

God’s love brings good into our lives. But if there is no justice, sin runs rampant and causes untold pain and suffering. No one thinks a judge is loving when he refuses to punish guilty criminals. To set them loose in society is not healthy for either the wrongdoer or the community.  In the same way, our loving heavenly Father cannot allow sin to go unpunished.

But this presents an even bigger dilemma for mankind. We are all guilty before a holy God. That is why Christ came to earth. He bore divine wrath for all our sins so that the Father could be both just and forgiving. His justice was satisfied by the most loving act of all time—Christ’s death on the cross. Now those who by faith accept Jesus’ offer of salvation will never experience punishment for their sins.

Although in heaven believers will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, there will be no reason to fear. Our judgment has the purpose of determining rewards, not dishing out punishment. Out of gratitude, we should prepare now for that time by living for the Lord every day

September 13, 2011 – Begg

Grace from Above

As they go through the valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools.

Psalms 84:6

This teaches us that the comfort obtained by one may often prove helpful to another, just as the springs would be enjoyed by the company who came after. When we read some book that is really helpful and encouraging, we recognize that the author has gone ahead of us and discovered these refreshing springs for us as well as for himself. Many books have been like wells drilled by a pilgrim for himself but have proved quite as useful to others. We notice this especially in the Psalms-for example, 42:11: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” Travelers have been delighted to see the footprint of man on a barren shore, and we love to see the marks of pilgrims while passing through the vale of tears.

The pilgrims dig the well, but, strangely, it fills from the top instead of the bottom. We use the means, but the blessing does not spring from the means. We dig a well, but heaven fills it with rain. The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but safety is from the Lord. The means are connected with the end, but they do not produce it themselves. Consider here how the rain covers the ground with pools, so that they become useful as reservoirs. The endeavor is not wasted, but still it does not supersede divine help.

Grace may be compared to rain for its purity, for its refreshing and energizing influence, for its coming from above, and for the sovereignty with which it is given or withheld. May our readers have showers of blessing, and may the springs be filled with water! What are the means and ordinances without the smile of heaven! They are like clouds without rain and pools without water. God of love, open the windows of heaven and pour us out a blessing!

The family reading plan for

September 13, 2011

2 Samuel 8 , 9 | 2 Corinthians 2

September 12, 2011 – Stanley

The Unconditional Love of God
1 JOHN 4:7-10
 

One of the biggest struggles many people face is a feeling that the Lord couldn’t possibly love them. Yet the Bible clearly tells us He does. Far from just saying so with words, God has also given us ample proof. Creation itself is an expression of His awesome care for us. He designed this earth as the perfect habitation for humanity and provides us with the necessities of life. But the highest expression of His love is manifested in His provision for our eternal needs. He sent His Son to redeem us from sin so that we could be forgiven and reconciled to God—and then live with Him in heaven forever.

So why, with all this evidence, do so many of us still doubt His love? Perhaps the reason is that we are looking at it from our own limited perspective: since we cannot love others unconditionally, we doubt that the Lord can. After all, human logic considers it reasonable to be loving towards people who measure up to our standards—but to hold ourselves aloof from those who don’t.

Or maybe we just feel unworthy of His love. Well, I have news for you: no one is worthy. God’s love is not based on whether we’re deserving or not. It’s a demonstration of His commitment to our greatest good.

Divine love is conditioned not on our performance but on God’s nature. It’s like the ocean’s tide. You can stand on the shore and say, “I don’t believe in waves,” but that doesn’t stop them from coming. Likewise, nothing you do or feel will stop the Father’s love from washing over you

September 12, 2011 – Begg

God’s Jealousy For Believers     –    The Lord is a jealous and avenging God.

Nahum 1:2

Believer, your Lord is very jealous of your love. Did He choose you? He cannot bear that you should choose another. Did He buy you with His own blood? He cannot endure that you should think you are your own or that you belong to this world. He loved you with such a love that He would not remain in heaven without you; He would sooner die than have you perish, and He cannot endure that anything should stand between your heart’s love and Himself.

He is very jealous of your trust. He will not permit you to trust in yourself. He cannot stand the thought of you hewing out broken cisterns and neglecting the overflowing fountain that is always free to you. When we lean upon Him, He is glad; but when we transfer our dependence to another, when we rely upon our own wisdom or the wisdom of a friend-worst of all, when we trust in any works of our own-He is displeased and will chasten us, that He may bring us to Himself.

He is also very jealous of our company. There should be no one with whom we converse so much as with Jesus. To remain in Him alone, this is true love; but to commune with the world, to find sufficient satisfaction in our earthly comforts, to even prefer the company of our fellow Christians to secret fellowship with Him, this grieves our jealous Lord. He longs to have us abide in Him and enjoy constant fellowship with Himself; and many of the trials that He sends us are for the purpose of weaning our hearts from created things and fixing them more closely on Him who created everything. Let this jealousy that would keep us near to Christ also be a comfort to us, for if He loves us so much as to care about our love, we may be sure that He will allow nothing to harm us and will protect us from all our enemies. May we have grace today to keep our hearts in holy purity for Christ alone, with sacred jealousy closing our eyes to all the fascinations of the world!

The family reading plan for

September 12, 2011

2 Samuel 7 | 2 Corinthians 1

September 11 Bible Verses

Psalm 25:2-3

In you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse. (NIV)

Psalm 119:114

You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word. (NIV)

Psalm 147:3

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (NIV)

Lamentations 3:20-23

I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (NIV)

Habakkuk 3:16-19

I trembled inside when I heard all this; my lips quivered with fear. My legs gave way beneath me, and I shook in terror. I will wait quietly for the coming day when disaster will strike the people who invade us. Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation. The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He will make me as surefooted as a deer and bring me safely over the mountains. (NIV)

Acts 2:25-27

David said about him: “I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay… (NIV)

Romans 8:28-39

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)

September 10, 2011 – Stanley

Ministers of Comfort

PSALM 72:12-14

“For he will deliver the needy when he cries for help,

The afflicted also, and him who has no helper.

He will have compassion on the poor and needy,

And the lives of the needy he will save.

He will rescue their life from oppression and violence,

And their blood will be precious in his sight.”

What lessons can we learn by reflecting on the September 11th attacks of 2001? In thinking about how Americans responded, I’m reminded of the extraordinary selflessness and compassion that they modeled. Many New York firemen and policeman risked—and sacrificed—their own lives in the rescue efforts. Across the country, people tried to help victims and their family members in any way possible. Some donated blood while others donated money.

Remembering these altruistic acts, we should be inspired to show kindness during times of disaster, whether natural or man-made, national or local. As we saw a decade ago, true compassion not only tries to understand the pain of others, but also provides practical help. In light of recent calamities that have occurred worldwide, let’s consider how we can express care and concern for those affected.

First of all, remember that you and I have a wonderful privilege: the ability to touch anybody anywhere in the world through prayer. No matter how far away the victims are, they can be comforted by God as He responds to your heartfelt cries. So as soon as word of a tragedy reaches you, start praying for the victims, rescue workers, and officials managing the crisis. Let the Holy Spirit guide you in petitioning God for protection, provision, comfort, awareness of His presence, and whatever else He deems fitting (Rom. 8:26).

Second, donations (money, food, clothing, household goods) and assistance of many kinds are usually high priority. It is wise to team up with dependable relief organizations and to consult trusted sources about what’s needed. Travel limitations may narrow your options, but in local situations, you can express compassion with words of comfort, a warm embrace, or simply a listening ear. Through this kind of love, the world will recognize its true Light—Jesus Christ, who was anointed to bring good news to the afflicted, bind up the brokenhearted, and comfort all who mourn (Isa. 61:1-2).

On this somber anniversary, recall some of the kind acts that were prevalent in the aftermath of our national tragedy. Let those memories motivate you to notice needs around you and to reach out with Christ’s love. In addition, think about a disaster in the news this year, and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal ways to pray for families that are still suffering. Your concern can have a profound impact

September 10, 2011 – Begg

Communion with God on the Mountain

And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him.

Mark 3:13

Here was sovereignty. Impatient spirits may fret and fume because they are not called to the highest places in ministry; but, reader, learn to rejoice that Jesus calls those He desires. If He leaves me as a doorkeeper in His house, I will cheerfully bless Him for His grace in allowing me to do anything in His service. The call of Christ’s servants comes from above. Jesus stands on the mountain, forever above the world in holiness, zeal, love, and power. Those whom He calls must go up the mountain to Him; they must seek to rise to His level by living in constant communion with Him. They may not be able to achieve classic honors or attain scholastic eminence, but they must, like Moses, go up to the mountain of God and experience intimate communion with the unseen God if they are ever to be fit to proclaim the Gospel of peace.

Jesus went away to hold high fellowship with the Father, and we must enter into the same divine companionship if we want to bless our fellowmen. No wonder that the apostles were clothed with power when they came down fresh from the mountain where Jesus was. This morning we must endeavor to ascend the mount of communion, so that we may be ordained to the lifework for which we are set apart. Let us not see the face of man today until we have met with Jesus. Time spent with Him is time well spent. We will cast out devils and work wonders if we go down into the world clothed with that divine energy that only Christ can give. It is no use going to the Lord’s battle until we are armed with heavenly weapons. We must see Jesus; this is essential. At the mercy-seat we will linger until He makes Himself known to us and until we can truthfully say, “We were with Him on the Holy Mountain.”

The family reading plan for

September 10, 2011

2 Samuel 4 , 5 | 1 Corinthians 15

September 9, 2011 – Stanley

When Foundations Are Shaken
HEBREWS 12:25-29
 

One decade ago, the United States of America experienced a massive attack by terrorists. Our people were shaken by the realization that the country is not as safe as we once thought.

Of course, it grieved me to learn of the events that occurred and the lives that were tragically lost. But at the same time, the horrible situation led to some positive outcomes. For example, our nation unified and people served with courage and selflessness.

One of the biggest benefits, I believe, was that many of us realized our great dependence upon God. Safety in this world is an illusion. Sadly, the peace and blessing we have experienced in America has led to much complacency and self-dependence. Sometimes we need to be shaken out of our forgetfulness and into reliance upon Jesus Christ.

Just listening to the news these days can rattle our sense of well-being. There is always something unsettling taking place. But as believers, we should look at life from a biblical perspective. We are children of the living God, not people who seek security only in the natural, secular world. Our hope and refuge is firm: through Jesus Christ, our relationship with the Lord is eternal. Everything else we possess could be destroyed in a moment.

Worldly circumstances—natural disasters, wars, and assorted turmoil—may have an effect on everyone, but they can’t control the believer’s heart. Let your hope rest in Christ alone. Only by finding security in the arms of Almighty God can you remain unshaken in times of uncertainty

September 9, 2011 – Begg

Prevailing Prayer

I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

Jeremiah 33:3

There are different translations of these words. One version renders it, “I will show you great and fortified things.” Another, “great and reserved things.” Now, there are reserved and special things in Christian experience: Every development in the spiritual life does not take place in the same way or in the same time frame. There are the common benefits and feelings of repentance and faith and joy and hope, which are enjoyed by the entire family; but there is an upper realm of delight, communion, and conscious union with Christ, which is far from being the routine enjoyment of believers.

We do not all have the high privilege of John, to lean upon Jesus’ bosom; nor of Paul, to be caught up into the third heaven. There are heights in experimental [experiential] knowledge of the things of God that the eagle’s eye has never seen and the philosopher’s mind has never grasped. God alone can take us there; but the chariot in which He transports us, and the horses with which that chariot is pulled, are prevailing prayers.

Prevailing prayer is victorious with the God of mercy, “In his manhood he strove with God. He strove with the angel and prevailed; he wept and sought his favor. He met God at Bethel, and there God spoke with us.”1 Prevailing prayer takes the Christian to the mountain and enables him to cover heaven with clouds of blessing, and earth with floods of mercy. Prevailing prayer lifts the Christian and shows him his inheritance and transfigures him into the likeness of his Lord. If you would reach to something higher than ordinary groveling experience, look to the Rock that is higher than you, and gaze with the eye of faith through the window of consistent prayer. When you open the window on your side, it will not be bolted on the other.

1Hosea 12:3-4

The family reading plan for

September 9, 2011

2 Samuel 3 | 1 Corinthians 14

September 8, 2011 – Stanley

Unshakeable
ROMANS 8:35-37
 

Our world is a changing, uncertain place. Many people seek security in wealth, relationships, and power. These things, however, are not guaranteed from one day to the next. Watching the news provides enough proof that any of them can be taken away in a moment. No wonder there is such despair and fear.

For believers, thankfully, reality is not based in what we see. Nor is our foundation found in this world. We build our hope and trust on the Lord, and we believe the truth in His Word.

Even in chaotic times, our certainty is found in God’s loving relationship with us as His children. Today’s passage tells us that nothing can tear us away from our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Therefore, in the midst of turmoil and trials, we have assurance that our lives are in the grip of the almighty God. We can rely not only on His love and presence, but also on His uninterrupted attention, faithfulness, and perfect care.

When difficulty arises and circumstances seem overwhelming, we can respond with confidence and strength because of Jesus. Along with the psalmist, who also lived during times of war and stressful events, we can call the Lord “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust” (Ps. 91:2).

Consider where you find security. Is the foundation of your life built upon the solid rock of Jesus? Or is it planted in something as unstable as sand—like money or prestige? Placing hope and confidence in anything apart from the Lord will ultimately leave you feeling broken and defeated

September 8, 2011 – Begg

Our Fruit Comes from the Root  –  From me comes your fruit.

Hosea 14:8

Our fruit comes from God as a result of our union with Him. The fruit of the branch is directly traceable to the root. Sever the connection, the branch dies, and no fruit is produced. By virtue of our union with Christ we bring forth fruit. Every bunch of grapes has been first in the root; it has passed through the stem and flowed through the sap vessels and fashioned itself externally into fruit. But it was first in the stem; so also every good work is first in Christ, and then it is brought forth in us. Christian, treasure this precious union with Christ, for it must be the source of all the fruitfulness that you can ever hope to know. If you were not joined to Jesus Christ, you would be a fruitless branch indeed.

Our fruit comes from God as to spiritual providence. When the rain falls from heaven, when the clouds look down from on high and are about to distill their liquid treasure, when the bright sun swells the berries in the cluster, each heavenly benefit may whisper to the tree and say, “From me comes your fruit.” The fruit owes much to the root-that is essential to fruitfulness-but it also owes a great deal to external influences. How much we owe to God’s gracious providence, by which He provides us constantly with quickening, teaching, consolation, strength, or whatever else we need. To this we owe all of our usefulness or virtue.

Our fruit comes from God as to skillful gardening. The gardener’s sharp-edged knife promotes the fruitfulness of the tree by thinning the clusters and by cutting off superfluous shoots. So is it, Christian, with the pruning that the Lord does to you. “My Father is the vine dresser. Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away; and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”1 Since God is the author of our spiritual graces, let us give Him all the glory for our salvation.

1John 15:1-2

The family reading plan for

September 8, 2011

2 Samuel 2 | 1 Corinthians 13

September 7, 2011 – Stanley

Parents’ Responsibility
LUKE 3:22
 

As we saw yesterday, words are but a small part of parental communication. Now let’s look at two types of messages we should purposefully model for our kids.

First, boys and girls need affirmation that they are loved, accepted, and competent. In today’s passage, God the Father spoke those very things to His Son. It is essential that our children gain a sense of security and belonging at home so they won’t seek acceptance elsewhere. And the way we care and provide for them will help them grasp the heavenly Father’s love.

Second, parents are responsible for presenting the principles needed for living a godly life. One way to do so is by reading Scripture aloud and sharing stories of the Lord’s involvement in our lives. But actions must match what we say. For example, we cannot expect children to truly understand the golden rule if we act with selfishness, arrogance, or insensitivity.

Modeling a godly life is oftentimes an intentional pursuit, like reading Scripture or serving as a family on a mission trip. It can also be as simple and unplanned as picking up a piece of trash on a neighbor’s lawn. But keep in mind that actions and words aren’t always perceived correctly. Check that your children’s understanding matches the message you hope to communicate.

Your words and actions are teaching lessons. Do your children know, beyond any doubt, that they’re treasured and capable? Are you giving them the tools they need to follow Christ? Remember, God doesn’t expect perfection. He will guide the willing heart—and cover missteps with His grace

September 7, 2011 – Begg

Faith Is Creative!

And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay.

Mark 2:4

Faith is full of creativity. The house was full, a crowd blocked the entry, but faith found a creative way of getting to the Lord and placing the paralytic before Him. If we cannot get sinners to Jesus by ordinary methods, we must use extraordinary ones. It seems, according to Luke 5:19, that roof tiles had to be removed. That would create dust and cause a measure of danger to those below; but where the case is very urgent, we must be prepared to run some risks and shock some people. Jesus was there to heal, and therefore roof or no roof, faith ventured all so that the poor paralytic might have his sins forgiven. We need more daring creative faith among us! Dear reader, let us seek it this morning for ourselves and for our fellow-workers and try today to perform some gallant act for the love of souls and the glory of the Lord.

The world is constantly creating and inventing; genius serves all the purposes of human desire: Can’t faith invent too and by some creative means reach the people who are strangers to the Gospel? It was the presence of Jesus that stirred this victorious courage in the four friends of the paralytic. Is the Lord still present among us? Have we seen His face for ourselves this morning? Have we felt His healing power in our own souls? If so, then through the door or the window or the roof let us overcome every hindrance in bringing others to Jesus.

When faith and love are truly set on winning souls, we will learn to be creative in our approach. If hunger for bread can break through stone walls, surely hunger for souls is not to be hindered in its efforts. O Lord, make us quick to suggest and employ methods of reaching our friends and neighbors and of introducing them to You!

The family reading plan for

September 7, 2011

2 Samuel 1 | 1 Corinthians 12

September 6, 2011 – Stanley

The Messages Parents Send
1 SAMUEL 20:30-34

When someone asks, “What do you do?” the reply frequently includes a job title. But anyone who is raising or interacting with children has a role far more important than ordinary career duties.

Parents are communicators. Yet unlike conference speakers, moms and dads don’t get to preplan their entire message. Everything we do and say—especially that which happens “off the cuff”—teaches our kids. Think about your childhood days. What did your parents do that illustrated their priorities, beliefs, and passions?

Even without speaking, we send messages by our body language, interests, kindnesses, absence or presence, silence . . .  Add words to the mix, and we have a recipe for remarkable impact, whether positive or negative.

Inevitably, our children will be greatly affected by what we communicate and how they interpret it. Be conscious of the way each young one processes information—sometimes our intended message becomes skewed by their understanding. What an incredible responsibility we’ve been given. No wonder wise parents rely on God’s help.

Only troubled parents—like the angry, jealous King Saul in today’s passage—would ever set out to hurt their children. But in our busyness, or from past woundedness, we might just be sending damaging messages.

What are you communicating to your kids? Ask yourself: What do my actions point to as priorities in my life? Do my children sense a hunger in my heart for God’s direction, counsel, and sustenance? Above all, would they know how to have a thriving relationship with Jesus Christ by watching my life?

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