September 1, 2011 – Begg

Divine Guidance

You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.

Psalms 73:24

The psalmist felt his need of divine guidance. He had just been discovering the foolishness of his own heart, and to prevent himself from being constantly led astray by it, he resolved that God’s counsel should be his guide. A sense of our own folly is a great step toward being wise, when it leads us to rely on the wisdom of the Lord. The blind man leans on his friend’s arm and reaches his home in safety, and likewise we should give ourselves up implicitly to divine guidance, without doubting, assured that even though we cannot see, it is always safe to trust the All-seeing God. “You will” is a blessed expression of confidence. He was sure that the Lord would not neglect the necessary task.

Here is a word for you, believer; rest in it. Be sure that God will be your counselor and friend; He will guide you; He will direct all your ways. In His written Word you have this assurance fulfilled in part, for Holy Scripture is His “counsel” to you. We are happy to have God’s Word as our constant guide! What is the sailor without his compass? And what is the Christian without the Bible? This is the unerring chart, the map in which every shoal is described, and all the channels from the quicksands of destruction to the harbor of salvation mapped and marked by one who knows the way.

O God we bless You, that we may trust You to guide us now, and even to the end! After this guidance through life, the psalmist anticipates a divine reception-“and afterward . . . receive me to glory.” What a thought for you, believer! God Himself will receive you in glory-you! Though you are wandering, erring, straying, still He will bring you safe at last to glory! This is your portion; live on it today, and if perplexities should surround you, go in the strength of this text straight to the throne.

The family reading plan for

1 Samuel 25 | 1 Corinthians 6

August 31, 2011 – Stanley

Reasons to Surrender
1 CORINTHIANS 6:19-20
 

As we learned yesterday, God tells us to surrender our lives to Him. This is no small task. All our plans, every desire we feel, each entitlement that once seemed our right—everything is put aside in order to make way for our King’s will. But perhaps you have wondered why God can ask this of us.

The Lord has every right to demand that we give Him our all. First, Scripture teaches us that He is sovereign—the King and Ruler over the entire universe. As a result, we are under His authority, whether we choose to submit or not. Next, through His death and resurrection, Jesus saved us from our sin and its consequences. Therefore, we are indebted to Him more than we could ever repay. And finally, He sustains us; we should consider each breath and heartbeat a gift from Him.

Undoubtedly, God is entitled to ask that we yield our life to Him. At the same time, surrender is in our best interest. The Father promises that following Him leads to hope and an established future. Psalm 31:19 states, “How great is Your goodness, which You have stored up for those who fear You . . .” So, while He is the Almighty One with all authority to demand our life, He promises to care for us and to do what will benefit us most.

Are you willing to put yourself aside in order to follow Jesus? His way is best, and it offers hope, joy, and peace. We will not always like everything He chooses at the moment, but He promises to work all things for good. Will you trust God enough to hand the reins over to Him?

August 31, 2011 – Begg

Rich in Poverty, Strong in Weakness

And for my arm they wait.

Isaiah 51:5

In seasons of severe trial the Christian has nothing on earth that he can trust, and so he is compelled to cast himself on God alone. When his vessel is capsizing, and no human deliverance is at hand, he must simply and entirely trust himself to the providence and care of God. Happy storm that wrecks a man on such a rock as this! O blessed hurricane that drives the soul to God and God alone! Sometimes the multitude of our friends keeps us from God; but when a man is so poor, so friendless, so helpless that he has nowhere else to turn, he runs into his Father’s arms, and is blessed to be there! When he is burdened with troubles so pressing and so specific that he cannot tell them to anyone but God, he may be thankful for them; for he will learn more of his Lord then than at any other time.

Oh, tempest-tossed believer, it is a happy trouble that drives you to your Father! Now that you have only God to trust, make sure that you put your complete confidence in Him. Do not dishonor your Lord and Master by unworthy doubts and fears; but be strong in faith, giving glory to God. Show the world that your God is worth ten thousand worlds to you. Show rich men how rich you are in your poverty when the Lord God is your helper. Show the strong man how strong you are in your weakness when underneath you are the everlasting arms. Now is the time for feats of faith and valiant exploits. Be strong and very courageous, and the Lord your God will certainly, as surely as He built the heavens and the earth, glorify Himself in your weakness and magnify His might in the face of your distress. The grandeur of heaven’s arches would be spoiled if the sky were supported by a single visible column, and your faith would lose its glory if it rested on anything discernible by the physical eye. May the Holy Spirit enable you to rest in Jesus on this closing day of the month.

The family reading plan for August 31, 2011

1 Samuel 24 | 1 Corinthians 5

August 30, 2011 – Stanley

God’s Condition for His Full Blessing
ROMANS 12:1-2

The Lord wants to give each of us an abundance of blessings. Let’s explore what is required so that we may enjoy all that He has planned.

Today’s passage clarifies the one necessary condition for receiving His best: full surrender. Every aspect of our being—body, soul, and spirit—is to be a living sacrifice. This may sound dreary, but contrary to human logic, true freedom is found only when we fully yield to Christ.

In the Old Testament, sacrifice was very common. To atone for sin, a person could bring a lamb to the altar. The animal was set apart for God’s purposes as a holy offering, and through its death, restitution was made.

When we give ourselves as a sacrifice, there is, thankfully, no need for our blood to be shed. Jesus died to atone for all our sin. But out of love and gratitude, every aspect of our lives should be dedicated to Him.

What does a surrendered life entail? Most importantly, it involves complete commitment to Christ, unaltered by the world’s influence. Our desires and old ways of functioning are no longer driving forces. Instead, His Spirit guides, and His will is the goal. Yielding to Him means following His way in attitude, words, thoughts, and deeds—and doing so unapologetically, unwaveringly, fearlessly.

You have a choice—either be content with less than God’s best, or give yourself fully to Him. Complete surrender is not an easy road; it means dying to your desires and selfishness. But remember that the Lord is willing and able to do more than we can even imagine

August 30, 2011 – Begg

Patience in Affliction    –    Wait for the Lord.

Psalms 27:14

It may seem an easy thing to wait, but it is one of the postures that a Christian soldier cannot learn without years of teaching. Marching and quick-marching are much easier for God’s warriors than standing still. There are hours of perplexity when the most willing spirit, anxiously desiring to serve the Lord, does not know what role to play. Then what shall it do? Vex itself by despair? Retreat back in cowardice, turn to the right hand in fear, or rush forward in presumption? No, simply wait. Wait in prayer, however. Call upon God, and spread the matter before Him; tell Him your difficulty, and plead His promise of help.

In dilemmas between one duty and another, it is best to be humble as a child and wait with simplicity of soul upon the Lord. It is sure to be well with us when we feel and know our own folly and are genuinely willing to be guided by the will of God. But wait in faith. Express your unstaggering confidence in Him; for unfaithful, untrusting waiting is just an insult to the Lord. Believe that if He keeps you waiting even until midnight, He will still come at the right time; the vision will come and not delay. Wait in quiet patience, not rebelling because things are difficult, but blessing your God for the privilege of affliction.

Never grumble against the second cause, as the children of Israel did against Moses; never wish you could go back to the world again, but accept the circumstance as it is, and put it as it stands, simply and with your whole heart, without any selfish agenda, into the hand of your covenant God, saying, “Now, Lord, not my will, but Yours be done. I do not know what to do. I am at an end of myself, but I will wait until You part the floods or drive back my enemies. I will wait, even if You test me for a while, for my heart is fixed upon You alone, O God, and my spirit waits for You in the deep conviction that You will still be my joy and my salvation, my refuge and my strong tower.”

The family reading plan for August 30, 2011

1 Samuel 23 | 1 Corinthians 4

August 29, 2011 – Stanley

Perseverance in Prayer
ROMANS 12:11-13
 

As a pastor, I speak with many people about their spiritual journey. From these interactions, I know that most individuals are not satisfied with their prayer life. They lack anticipation and faith, and time with God feels empty. Most likely, this is why many Christians pray so little and so passionlessly.

Yesterday, we began looking at obstacles to a healthy prayer life. Let’s explore one more hindrance that blocks vibrant communication between God and us: impatience.

Most of us have at some point brought our supplication to Jesus vigorously but did not see the desired results. Unfortunately, humans are, by nature, fainthearted. We get weary of asking and listening when all we perceive is silence. Remember, though, that God is not some “cosmic bellhop”; He does not act on our cue. In fact, if we could see the big picture as He can, we would gladly wait for His way and time.

Actually, I believe that we benefit by not receiving all that we request. Understanding this concept is a sign of spiritual maturity. When we are thoroughly satisfied with the Lord’s presence, our relationship with Him will flourish, even when we don’t get all we ask. When that is the case, we grasp what prayer is—not a long want list, but a relationship.

Barriers can develop if we persistently cry out to God but nothing changes. Continue to pray. Beyond this “wall,” you’ll sense God’s presence, where you will find peace, joy, and awesome glimpses of His glory. This will be completely satisfying, even if He never gives you exactly what you requested

August 29, 2011 – Begg

Mercy for the Believer      –       Have mercy on me, O God.

Psalms 51:1

When one of God’s choice servants, William Carey, was suffering from a dangerous illness, the inquiry was made, “If this sickness should prove fatal, what passage would you select as the text for your funeral sermon?” He replied, “Oh, I feel that such a poor sinful creature is unworthy to have anything said about him; but if a funeral sermon must be preached, let it be from the words, ‘Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.'” In the same spirit of humility he directed in his will that the following inscription and nothing more should be cut on his gravestone:

WILLIAM CAREY, BORN AUGUST 17th, 1761:

DIED-    “A wretched, poor, and helpless worm

On Your kind arms I fall.”

Only on the footing of free grace can the most experienced and most honored of the saints approach their God. The best of men are conscious above all others that they are men at best. Empty boats float high, but heavily laden vessels are low in the water; mere professors can boast, but true children of God cry for mercy upon their unprofitableness. We need the Lord to have mercy upon our good works, our prayers, our preaching, our offerings, and our living sacrifices. The blood was not only sprinkled on the doorposts of Israel’s houses, but upon the sanctuary, the mercy-seat, and the altar, because as sin intrudes upon our holiest things, the blood of Jesus is needed to purify them from defilement. If mercy is needed to be exercised toward our duties, what will be said of our sins? How sweet the remembrance that inexhaustible mercy is waiting to be gracious to us, restore our backslidings, and make our broken bones rejoice!

The family reading plan for August 29, 2011

1 Samuel 21 , 22 | 1 Corinthians 3

August 27, 2011 – Stanley

Hindrances to Prayer
ROMANS 8:26-28
 

When you pray, are you confident that God is listening and will answer? Or do you, like many believers, feel doubtful that your words are even heard?

Let’s consider some obstacles to a healthy prayer life. First, poor concentration can inhibit our communication with the Lord. Human minds are prone to wander, and it is common for our thoughts to drift from praying to other topics. One antidote for this is to realize who it is we’re speaking with. The more we grasp God’s power, love, omniscience, and holiness, the easier it will be for us to stay focused.

Second, we may feel unworthy to talk with the God of all creation. Guilt over sin in our life can tempt us to avoid time alone with Him, but He wants us to bring our wrongs into His light. On our own, we’ll never be worthy to be in the presence of pure perfection. But Jesus’ death and resurrection brought us forgiveness and acceptance, so we can come to Him without fear or embarrassment.

Third, fear can stand in our way. Some people worry, What if I don’t pray correctly?  The truth is, none of us knows how to pray in a manner worthy of a holy God. That’s why the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf. The Lord desires our hearts, not perfect words.

The Lord has made Himself available to us through prayer. Do you realize that the most powerful tool and greatest privilege is accessible to us? We can come before Almighty God in prayer. Our heavenly Father is waiting to listen to our praise, confession, and requests

August 27, 2011 – Begg

Doubt and Unbelief

How long will they not believe in me . . . ?

Numbers 14:11

Strive with all diligence to keep out the monster of unbelief. It is so dishonoring to Christ that He will withdraw His visible presence if we insult Him by tolerating it. It is true it is a weed that we can never entirely remove from the soil, but we must aim at its root with zeal and perseverance. Among hateful things it is the most to be defeated. Its hurtful nature is so poisonous that he that uses it and he upon whom it is used are both harmed by it. In your case, believer, it is most wicked, for the mercies of your Lord in the past increase your guilt in doubting Him now. When you distrust the Lord Jesus, He may well cry out, “Behold, I will press you down in your place, as a cart full of sheaves presses down.” To doubt is to crown His head with thorns of the sharpest kind.

It is very cruel for a well-beloved wife to mistrust a kind and faithful husband. The sin is needless, foolish, and unwarranted. Jesus has never given the slightest ground for suspicion, and it is hard to be doubted by those to whom our conduct is consistently affectionate and true. Jesus is the Son of the Highest and has unlimited wealth; it is shameful to doubt Omnipotence and distrust His sufficiency. The cattle on a thousand hills will be enough for our most hungry feeding, and the granaries of heaven are not likely to be emptied by our eating. If Christ were only a cistern, we might soon exhaust His fullness, but who can drain a fountain? Countless believers throughout the ages have drawn their supplies from Him, and not one of them has complained at the insufficiency of His resources.

Dispel this lying traitor unbelief, for his only errand is to cut the bonds of communion and make us mourn an absent Savior. Bunyan tells us that unbelief has “as many lives as a cat”; if so, let us kill one life now, and continue the work until the whole nine are gone. Down with you, traitor, my heart detests you.

The family reading plan for August 27, 2011

1 Samuel 19 | 1 Corinthians 1

August 26, 2011 – Stanley

Our Helper in Prayer
1 THESSALONIANS 5:16-19
 

I believe that one of the most painful emotions is loneliness. Of course, there are times in life when being alone is unavoidable. But since God has sent His Spirit to live within us, we are never truly alone. He is with us and available every second of every day. Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as our “Helper.”

Today, let’s think about ways that the Holy Spirit helps us in our prayer life. First, He burdens us to pray. Have you ever felt a strong sense that you needed to spend time with the Lord? Perhaps you weren’t even sure why. This is the Spirit convicting you. He has many reasons for doing this—for instance, He may know that you need strength because of an imminent difficulty. Or He sometimes encourages us to confess sin so that our fellowship with the Father is not hindered.

Second, God’s Holy Spirit intercedes for us. There are times when we do not know how to pray—when sorrow or helplessness overwhelms us to the point that words are impossible to speak, even to Jesus. All we can do is cry to Him. Thankfully, the Spirit will plead on our behalf—He understands the depth of our thoughts, feelings, and needs, and He translates them into effective supplication according to God’s will.

Our Savior loves you intimately—enough to die in your place and send a Helper to reside within you. What a privilege to have God’s Spirit dwelling in your heart. Do you recognize His power and love throughout your day? He longs to comfort, enable, and guide you each and every moment

August 26, 2011 – Begg

Delighting in The Covenant   –   He has commanded his covenant forever.

Psalms 111:9

The Lord’s people delight in the covenant itself. It is an unfailing source of comfort to them as often as the Holy Spirit leads them into the banqueting house and waves the banner of love. They delight to contemplate the antiquity of that covenant, remembering that before the daystar knew its place or planets ran their course, the interests of the saints were made secure in Christ Jesus. It is peculiarly pleasing to them to remember the certainty of the covenant while meditating upon God’s “steadfast, sure love David.”1 They delight to celebrate it as signed, sealed, and delivered! Their hearts often overflow with joy to think of its immutability, as a covenant that neither time nor eternity, life nor death will ever be able to break-a covenant as old as eternity and as everlasting as the Rock of Ages.

They rejoice also to dine upon the fullness of this covenant, for in it they see all things provided for them. God is their portion, Christ their companion, the Spirit their Comforter, earth their lodge, and heaven their home. They see in it an inheritance that is reserved for every soul possessing an interest in its ancient and eternal gift. Their eyes sparkled when they saw it as a treasure-trove in the Bible; but how their souls were gladdened when they saw in the last will and testament of their Christ that it was bequeathed to them!

More especially it is the pleasure of God’s people to contemplate the graciousness of this covenant. They see that the law was made void because it was a covenant of works and depended upon merit, but they perceive this to be enduring because grace is the basis, grace the condition, grace the bulwark, grace the foundation, grace the capstone. The covenant is a treasury of wealth, a granary of food, a fountain of life, a storehouse of salvation, a charter of peace, and a haven of joy.

1Isaiah 55:3

The family reading plan for August 26, 2011

1 Samuel 18 | Romans 16

August 25, 2011 – Stanley

A Helper for All Occasions
JOHN 16:7-15
 

The Holy Spirit is a very practical Helper who assists us in every aspect of our lives. When we pray, He intercedes for us according to the Lord’s will (Rom. 8:26). Because of our limited knowledge or self-centered desires, we sometimes ask for the wrong things, but the Spirit takes our petitions and aligns them with the Father’s will. Although you may think your prayer wasn’t answered, in reality, the Holy Spirit just straightened out your request in order to give you what was best.

God’s Spirit also helps us understand His Word (John 16:13). In fact, no one can comprehend the Bible unless the Spirit illumines his thinking. If you come to the Scriptures with a clean heart, a submissive will, and a dependent attitude, He will enlarge your spiritual senses to see the truth and understand His thoughts.

Perhaps one of the Spirit’s most under-appreciated works is His conviction of our sin (vv. 8-11). Although it’s unpleasant and sometimes painful, we should never want Him to stop, because this is the way He gets us back on track after we have strayed. But He doesn’t just point out our wrongs; He also empowers us to do right. True righteousness is achieved only by relying on Him to transform us and carry out His work through us.

Sometimes we don’t realize how much we need the Spirit. Though we acknowledge that salvation is accomplished by Christ alone, how many of us feel as if living the Christian life is now up to us? But self-reliance is a recipe for failure. Only when you know you can’t, will you find He can

August 25, 2011 – Begg

Faith in Every Sense

His fruit was sweet to my taste.

Song of Songs 2:3

Faith is described in a variety of ways in the Bible. It is sight: “Turn to me and be saved.”1 It is hearing: “Hear, that your soul shall live.”2 Faith is smelling: “Your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia”;3 “your name is oil poured out.”4 Faith is spiritual touch. By this faith the woman came behind and touched the hem of Christ’s garment, and by this we handle the things of the good word of life. Faith is equally the spirit’s taste. “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.”5 “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.”6

One of the first performances of faith is hearing. We hear the voice of God not only with the physical ear, but with the spiritual ear; we hear it as God’s Word, and we believe it as such; that is the hearing of faith. Then our mind looks upon the truth as it is presented to us; that is to say, we understand it, we perceive its meaning; that is the seeing of faith. Next we discover its preciousness; we begin to admire it and find how fragrant it is; that is faith in its smell. Then we appropriate the mercies that are prepared for us in Christ; that is faith in its touch. Then follow the enjoyments, peace, delight, communion, which are faith in its taste. Any one of these acts of faith is saving. To hear Christ’s voice as the sure voice of God in the soul will save us; but that which gives true enjoyment is the aspect of faith whereby we taste and see that the Lord is good. In this way we receive Christ, and He becomes, by inward and spiritual apprehension, to be the precious food for our souls. Here we learn to sit under His shadow “with great delight”7 and find His fruit sweet to our taste.

1Isaiah 45:22

2Isaiah 55:3

3Psalm 45:8

4Song of Solomon 1:3

5Psalm 119:103

6John 6:54

7Song of Solomon 2:3

The family reading plan for August 25, 2011

1 Samuel 17 | Romans 15

August 24, 2011 – Stanley

Another Divine Helper
JOHN 14:16-18
 

Have you ever wished you had a 911 number that rang in heaven whenever you had a need? Well, I have good news for believers. We all have divine assistance that’s even closer than a phone call: our Helper dwells within us. But if we are unaware of Him, we’ll miss many opportunities to benefit from the greatest asset in our Christian life—the Holy Spirit’s presence.

Christ knew that when He left the earth, His disciples would be totally inadequate for the task He was giving them—to evangelize the world. Though they’d spent three years with Jesus, all they had seen and learned would still not sufficiently equip them for what lay ahead. They needed supernatural help, and so do we—someone who will come to our aid, empower our service, and transform us from the inside out.

The Holy Spirit is the only one who can achieve all this. Consider His qualifications:

1. He is a personal Helper, not some inanimate force. God’s Spirit is a member of the Trinity and coequal with both the Father and Jesus Christ.

2. He is a practical Helper who involves Himself in every aspect of our lives.

3. He is an adequate Helper because He’s omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.

4. He is an available Helper who permanently lives within us.

Do you have any need that requires more power than omnipotence? Are you facing a decision that requires more knowledge than omniscience? Nothing we encounter is bigger than the omnipresent One who lives within us. Be calm and confident. No matter what challenges you face, He can help

August 24, 2011 – Begg

Christ’s Victory     –    He who opens the breach goes up before them.

Micah 2:13

Inasmuch as Jesus has gone before us, things are not as they would have been if He had never passed that way. He has conquered every foe that obstructed the way. Cheer up now, you faint-hearted warrior. Not only has Christ traveled the road, but He has defeated your enemies. Do you dread sin? He has nailed it to His cross. Do you fear death? He has been the death of Death. Are you afraid of hell? He has barred it against the advent of any of His children; they shall never see the gulf of perdition. Whatever foes may be before the Christian, they are all overcome. There are lions, but their teeth are broken; there are serpents, but their fangs are extracted; there are rivers, but they are bridged or fordable; there are flames, but we wear that matchless garment that renders us invulnerable to fire.

The sword that has been forged against us is already blunt; the instruments of war that the enemy is preparing have already lost their point. God has taken away in the person of Christ all the power that anything can have to hurt us. Well then, the army may march safely on, and you may go joyously along your journey, for all your enemies are already conquered. What will you do but march on to take the prey? They are beaten, they are vanquished; all you have to do is share the plunder. You shall, it is true, often engage in combat; but your fight will be with a defeated foe. His head is broken; he may attempt to injure you, but his strength will not be sufficient for his malicious design. Your victory shall be easy, and your treasure shall be beyond all measure

Proclaim aloud the Savior’s fame,

Who bears the Breaker’s wond’rous name;

Sweet name; and it becomes him well,

Who breaks down earth, sin, death, and hell.

The family reading plan for August 24, 2011

1 Samuel 16 | Romans 14

August 23, 2011 – Stanley

Wisdom for Good Health
1 CORINTHIANS 6:19-20
 

Early in my college days, I studied and worked excessively, as I wanted to offer the Lord my all. Eventually I realized that neglecting my health could hinder my serving Him, so I had a responsibility to take care of my physical body. Since then, I have tried to use wisdom with regard to health. I believe that includes having the proper motivation and a commitment to practice discipline.

When we understand our worth in God’s sight, we will be motivated to pursue good health. Our bodies are the temple of the living God (1 Cor. 6:19). The Holy Spirit lives in us and carries out the Lord’s work through us. When we are taking care of our health, we position ourselves to be able to serve when God calls. Our heavenly Father knows many of us have infirmities, but He wants us to take care of ourselves so we do not make our condition worse.

Discipline is the other component of a health-conscious attitude. Many of us approach exercise and weight loss in a “fits and starts” manner. While that may offer some value at the time, a more lasting method is of greater benefit. We need to develop new routines, within the structure of our family and work, for our bodies to thrive. Consistency over the long term is necessary if we are to stay in good condition.

A desire to eat right and exercise regularly does not guarantee we’ll avoid disease or live a long life. But it does mean we will have done our part to keep God’s temple in good shape for Him. Our calling as God’s children is best fulfilled when we seek physical as well as spiritual vitality

August 23, 2011 – Begg

No Weeping in Heaven

I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress.

Isaiah 65:19

In heaven the glorified do not weep, for all outward causes of grief are gone. There are no broken friendships, nor unfulfilled longings in heaven. Poverty, famine, danger, persecution, and slander are unknown there. There will be no pain to distress us, no anxious thoughts of death or bereavement to sadden. Those there do not weep, for they are perfectly sanctified. No evil heart of unbelief prompts them to depart from the living God; they are faultless before His throne and fully conformed to His image. Well might they stop mourning since they have stopped sinning. They do not weep, because all fear of change is past. They know that they are eternally secure. Sin is shut out, and they are shut in. They are safe in a city that will never be taken; they bask in a sun that shall never set; they drink of a river that will never run dry; they pluck fruit from a tree that will never wither. Countless cycles may revolve, but eternity will not be exhausted; and while eternity endures, their immortality and blessedness shall endure with it.

They are forever with the Lord. They do not weep because every desire is fulfilled. They cannot wish for anything that they do not have. Eye and ear, heart and hand, judgment, imagination, hope, desire and will-all the faculties are completely satisfied; and although our present ideas of what God has prepared for those who love him are imperfect, still we know by the revelation of the Spirit that the saints above are supremely blessed. The joy of Christ, which is an infinite fullness of delight, is in them. They bathe themselves in the bottomless, shoreless sea of infinite blessing. That same joyful rest awaits us. It may not be too long before the weeping willow is exchanged for the palm-branch of victory, and sorrow’s tears will be transformed into the pearls of everlasting bliss. “Therefore encourage one other with these words.”

11 Thessalonians 4:18

The family reading plan for August 23, 2011

1 Samuel 15 | Romans 13

August 22, 2011 – Stanley

Man: Made by God and for God
PSALM 139:1-10
 

Our culture greatly values outward appearance and athletic prowess. As a result, many of us think negatively about our bodies. We compare ourselves with others and conclude we do not measure up to society’s ideal. Such unhealthy comparisons can lead us into an emotional downward spiral. But the Lord sees things differently.

First, God made us—male and female—in His image, and then called what He had created “good” (Gen. 1:31). He knitted each of us in the womb (Ps. 139:13 niv); no one is exactly like anyone else. From the Lord’s perspective, we are each uniquely made, with both value and purpose.

Second, our importance to the Father is seen in His Son’s sacrifice on our behalf. Christ shed His blood and paid for our sins so that we might be set free from the penalty and power of sin. God loved us so much that He sent Jesus to take our place on the cross (1 John 4:10).

Finally, God designed man to be in relationship with Him. Adam and Eve lived in the Garden and had communion with the Creator. Abraham followed the Lord and was called God’s friend (James 2:23). Through faith in Jesus, we have become children of God and co-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17 niv). Our whole being—body, soul, and spirit—belongs to Him.

The media bombards us with how to be prettier, stronger, and more popular. But such pursuits don’t bring lasting satisfaction. Contentment is found when we remember how precious we are to God: He created us, our Savior died for us, and the Holy Spirit lives in us

August 22, 2011 – Begg

Longing For Christ

I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, that you tell him I am sick with love.

Song of Songs 5:8

Such is the language of the believer panting after present fellowship with Jesus-he is sick for his Lord. Gracious souls are never perfectly at ease except when they are in close communion with Christ; for when they are away from Him, they lose their peace. The nearer to Him, the nearer to the perfect calm of heaven; the nearer to Him, the fuller the heart is, not only of peace, but of life and vigor and joy, for these all depend on constant fellowship with Jesus. What the sun is to the day, what the moon is to the night, what the dew is to the flower, such is Jesus Christ to us. What bread is to the hungry, clothing to the naked, the shadow of a great rock to the traveler in a sun-scorched land, such is Jesus Christ to us. And therefore if we are not consciously one with Him, we should not be surprised if our spirit cries in the words of the Song, “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, that you tell him I am sick with love.”

This earnest longing after Jesus has a blessing attending it: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness”;1 and therefore, supremely blessed are those who thirst for the Righteous One. Blessed is that hunger, since it comes from God: If I do not experience the blessedness of being filled, I will come again in my emptiness and eagerness until I am filled with Christ. If I do not yet feed on Jesus, I will continue to hunger and thirst after Him. There is a hallowedness about that hunger, since it sparkles among the beatitudes of our Lord. But the blessing involves a promise. These hungry ones “shall be satisfied” with what they desire. If in this way Christ causes us to long after Him, He will certainly satisfy those longings; and when He does come to us, as come He will, how sweet it will be!

1Matthew 5:6

The family reading plan for August 22, 2011

1 Samuel 14 | Romans 12

August 20, 2011 – Stanley

Jesus Christ, Bondservant
PHILIPPIANS 2:5-7
 

The disciples gathered around a table to celebrate Passover with Jesus. Had one of them been more thoughtful of the others—or if one possessed a spirit of servanthood—he would have done the very thing that Christ did. He would have taken water and a cloth, knelt before the other 12 men, one at a time, and washed their feet. Jesus came into the world as a servant (Matt. 20:28). He was willing to do whatever was necessary to move men’s hearts and bring them to a saving knowledge of God.

As the lowest of household servants, the bondslave had the distasteful job of washing the feet of anyone who entered the home. And this is the very task that Christ voluntarily performed that evening, right before His trial and sufferings would begin. His act was a foreshadowing of the service He was about to render to His Father—as well as to the whole world—by dying on the cross for humanity’s sin.Â

We who believe in Jesus Christ do not call Him “slave”; we identify Him as our Master. So when He says that a servant is not greater than His master, He is speaking of our relationship with Him (John 13:16). Believers bend their knees to God’s most humble servant, His Son. What are you doing for the Lord?

Christians are God’s workmanship, created for the purpose of good works (Eph. 2:10). In other words, we were saved to serve. Therefore, there is no valid excuse for refusal. When you surrender to the Lord, you step onto the pathway of Jesus Christ, which is the best possible way to live

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