July 19, 2011 – Begg

The Glory of God      –     The Lord our God has shown us his glory.

Deuteronomy 5:24

God’s great design in all His works is the manifestation of His own glory. Any aim less than this would be unworthy of Himself.

But how shall the glory of God be manifested to such fallen creatures as we are? Man’s eye is not single in its focus; he always has a side glance toward his own honor, has too high an estimate of his own powers, and so is not qualified to behold the glory of the Lord. It is clear, then, that self must stand out of the way, that there may be room for God to be exalted. And this is the reason why He often brings His people into straits and difficulties, that, being made conscious of their own folly and weakness, they may be fitted to behold the majesty of God when He comes to work their deliverance. He whose life is one even and smooth path will see but little of the glory of the Lord, for he has few occasions of self-emptying and hence but little fitness for being filled with the revelation of God. They who navigate little streams and shallow creeks know but little of the God of tempests; but they who are “doing business on the great waters”1 see “his wondrous works in the deep.”2 Among the huge waves of bereavement, poverty, temptation, and reproach, we learn the power of Jehovah, because we feel the littleness of man.

Thank God, then, if you have been led by a rough road: It is this that has given you your experience of God’s greatness and loving-kindness. Your troubles have enriched you with a wealth of knowledge to be gained by no other means: Your trials have been the crevice of the rock in which Jehovah has set you, as He did His servant Moses, that you might behold His glory as it passed by. Praise God that you have not been left to the darkness and ignorance that continued prosperity might have involved, but that in the great fight of affliction you have been qualified for the outshinings of His glory in His wonderful dealings with you.

1Psalm 107:23

2Psalm 107:24

The family reading plan for July 19, 2011

Judges 2 | Acts 6

July 18, 2011 – Stanley

A Thirst for God
PSALM 63:1-8
 

A personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ has the potential to be more intimately satisfying than any earthly connection. King David recorded his experience in Psalm 63. Our heavenly Father wants to have a loving bond with us just as He did with David.

Making a firm commitment to know Him is the first step, which takes priority above all other matters. David described his passion to know God as an intense thirst (v. 1); the apostle Paul likened his dedication in pursuing the Lord to a race (Heb. 12:1-2). When we pledge ourselves to the lordship of Christ and seek after Him with our hearts and minds, we will find our souls becoming satisfied.

Once we resolve to follow diligently after the Lord, our next step is to spend time in His Word. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself and His plan for the world. Making time to read and meditate on Scripture is essential for every believer. That’s how we learn who God is, how He works, and what He desires for us and for the body of Christ. When we strive to know and understand a biblical passage, the Holy Spirit will make the meaning spring to life. God is pleased by followers who make it their goal to deepen their relationship with Him.

Dedicating time to knowing and experiencing God is a critical step toward a satisfying walk with Him. Begin today by making a pledge to pursue Him more diligently and taking time in your schedule for regular study and prayer. Your heavenly Father is waiting to meet with you

July 18, 2011 – Begg

Help the Stragglers      –      They shall set out last, standard by standard.

Numbers 2:31

The camp of Dan brought up the rear when the armies of Israel were on the march. The Danites occupied the hindmost place, but their position wasn’t important, since they were as truly part of the company as were the foremost tribes. They followed the same fiery cloudy pillar, ate of the same manna, drank of the same spiritual rock, and journeyed to the same inheritance. Come, my heart, cheer up, even though last and least; it is your privilege to be in the army and to fare as they fare who lead the expedition. Someone must be at the rear in honor and esteem, someone must do menial work for Jesus, and why shouldn’t it be me? In a poor village among an ignorant peasantry or in a back street among degraded sinners, I will work on and take my assigned place at the rear.

The Danites occupied a very useful place. Stragglers have to be picked up on the march, and lost property has to be gathered from the field. Fiery spirits may dash forward over untrodden paths to learn fresh truth and win more souls to Jesus; but some of a more conservative spirit may be well engaged in reminding the church of her ancient faith and restoring her fainting sons. Every position has its duties, and the slowly moving children of God will find their peculiar state one in which they may be eminently a blessing to the whole company.

The rear guard is a place of danger. There are foes behind us as well as before us. Attacks may come from any quarter. We read that Amalek fell upon Israel and slew some who were at the rear. The experienced Christian will find much work for his weapons in aiding those poor doubting, desponding, wavering souls who are slowest in faith, knowledge, and joy. These must not be left unaided, and therefore let it be the business of well-taught saints to bear their standards among the rear guard. My soul, watch tenderly to help the stragglers today.

The family reading plan for July 18, 2011

Judges 1 | Acts 5

July 16, 2011 – Stanley

Answers in Times of Great Disaster
DEUTERONOMY 29:29
 

Almighty God reserves the right to reveal some things and conceal others. Although we may not know why natural disasters occur, the biblical truths we do know with absolute certainty allow us to trust the Lord even in times of great suffering. These include:

1. God is in control (Ps. 103:19). Nothing in heaven or on earth is outside of His rule and authority. He does not react to events but sovereignly ordains or permits them to run their course. Although we cannot know for certain if He has sent a catastrophe or allowed it, we can trust in His goodness and wisdom.

2. The Lord loves people and wants them to be saved (John 3:16-17). Giving His Son for the salvation of the world proves without a doubt that He loves each person. This truth stands firm despite the fact that many reject the Savior. He cares for us, even when we can’t feel it or won’t accept it.

3. God ordains or permits events for His good purpose (Isa. 46:10). Though we cannot fully comprehend what He is doing in each incident, every disaster is a wake-up call for humanity. He is alerting us of the need to repent—so the lost can be saved and the saved can be revived to live totally for Him. Catastrophes open our ears to hear from the Lord.

The One who loves us perfectly is in full control, working everything out according to His good purpose. Knowing this should fill us with hope, even in the midst of crisis situations. The Lord even promises to turn disaster to good for those who “are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28)

July 16, 2011 – Begg

Depend Fully on Jesus

Morning by morning they gathered it.

Exodus 16:21

Work hard to maintain a sense of your entire dependence upon the Lord’s good will and pleasure for the continuance of your richest enjoyments. Never try to live on the old manna, nor seek to find help in Egypt. All must come from Jesus or you are undone forever. Old anointings will not suffice to impart unction to your spirit; your head must have fresh oil poured upon it from the golden horn of the sanctuary, or it will cease from its glory.

Today you may be upon the summit of the mount of God, but He who has put you there must keep you there or you will sink far more speedily than you imagine. Your mountain only stands firm when He settles it in its place; if He hides His face, you will soon be troubled. If the Savior should see fit, there is not a window through which you see the light of heaven that He could not darken in an instant. Joshua bade the sun stand still, but Jesus can shroud it in total darkness. He can withdraw the joy of your heart, the light of your eyes, and the strength of your life; in His hand your comforts lie, and at His will they can depart from you.

Our Lord is determined that we shall feel and recognize this hourly dependence, for He only permits us to pray for “daily bread,” and only promises that our strength will be equal to our days. Is it not best for us that it should be so, that we may often repair to His throne and constantly be reminded of His love?

Oh, how rich the grace that supplies us so continually and does not refrain itself because of our ingratitude! The golden shower never ceases; the cloud of blessing tarries evermore above our dwelling. O Lord Jesus, we would bow at Your feet, conscious of our utter inability to do anything without You, and in every favor that we are privileged to receive, we would adore Your blessed name and acknowledge Your unexhausted love.

The family reading plan for July 16, 2011

Joshua 23 | Acts 3

July 15, 2011 – Stanley

Questions in Times of Great Disaster
ISAIAH 55:8-9
 

Whenever a great disaster strikes, legitimate questions spring to mind. Why does the Lord let such things happen? Couldn’t He have stopped this? Doesn’t He care? The magnitude of death and destruction caused by earthquakes, tsunamis, or floods strips away all the everyday thoughts that normally occupy our minds and causes us to seek explanations for suffering.

Often we answer our own questions based on our relationship with God. Those who know nothing of Him have no frame of reference for understanding how He works. However, believers in Christ have the Bible to guide them as they wrestle through these issues. But even then, the accuracy of one’s perspective is determined by his or her knowledge of God’s Word. Those with a limited understanding of Scripture may very well come to inaccurate conclusions.

We must guard against attempts at forcing God to act as we think He should. If He does something that won’t fit into the box we’ve designed for Him, we easily become upset, angry, or confused. The Lord will never stay within the parameters we set for Him. Since we are mortal, earth-bound, and sinful, we have a very narrow perspective and understanding of life. But our eternal, sinless, sovereign, and omniscient Creator sees and knows what we cannot perceive.

We want to be sure that our viewpoint of God’s role in natural disasters comes from the Bible, not from our own limited “boxed perspective.” Scripture tells us of the Lord’s love, faithfulness, and wisdom. Whenever we cannot understand His ways, faith in His goodness must be our foundation

July 15 – Begg

Private worship    –     Leviticus 6:13

Keep the altar of private prayer burning. This is the very life of all piety. The sanctuary and family altars borrow their fires here; therefore let this burn well. Secret devotion is the very essence, evidence, and barometer of vital and experimental [experiential] religion.

Burn here the fat of your sacrifices. Let your closet seasons be, if possible, regular, frequent, and undisturbed. Effectual prayer avails much. Have you nothing to pray for? Let us suggest the church, the ministry, your own soul, your children, your relations, your neighbors, your country, and the cause of God and truth throughout the world.

Let us examine ourselves on this important matter. Do we engage with lukewarmness in private devotion? Is the fire of devotion burning dimly in our hearts? Do the chariot wheels drag heavily? If so, let us be alarmed at this sign of decay. Let us go with weeping, and ask for the Spirit of grace and of supplications. Let us set apart special seasons for extraordinary prayer. For if this fire should be smothered beneath the ashes of a worldly conformity, it will dim the fire on the family altar and lessen our influence both in the church and in the world.

The text will also apply to the altar of the heart. This is a golden altar indeed. God loves to see the hearts of His people glowing toward Himself. Let us give to God our hearts, all blazing with love, and seek His grace, that the fire may never be quenched, for it will not burn if the Lord does not keep it burning. Many foes will attempt to extinguish it; but if the unseen hand behind the wall pours on the sacred oil, it will blaze higher and higher. Let us use texts of Scripture as fuel for our heart’s fire; they are live coals. Let us attend to sermons, but above all, let us be much alone with Jesus.

Family Bible reading plan    –      Joshua 22      –     Acts 2

July 14, 2011 – Stanley

How to Cry Out to God
MATTHEW 14:29-30
 

The phone rings, and you answer. A sullen voice informs you of a tragedy. Your heart is so heavy that you feel as though you could die. What do you do?

Bad news, danger, and pain all cause us to look for help. As believers, we dwell with the almighty God, who is able to aid us. At those moments when we are sideswiped by life’s circumstances, we should cry out to Him.

In the Bible, crying out refers to speaking audibly with great emotion concerning an urgent need. God invites us to use this form of prayer to communicate that we desperately need His mercy.

It takes both faith and humility to share our heart’s concern aloud. Crying out, then, is a way for God’s children to express trust in the Lord’s ability and willingness to help. By calling upon Him with such urgency, we also lay down our pride and any attitude of self-sufficiency.

The Word of God assures us that our Father hears our cries and responds. In Psalm 3:4, for example, David wrote, “I was crying to the Lord with my voice, and He answered from His holy mountain.” When we call aloud for help in Jesus’ name, we invite His power into the situation. Remember that there is strength in just speaking His name.

When we cry out to God, He may remove the problem immediately, yet we often have to wait for His perfect timing. Harsh circumstances might even be allowed to remain for His good purposes. But we can always count on His comfort and presence, which enable us to live with joy and hope

July 13, 2011 – Stanley

When We Cry Out to God
PSALM 57:1-3
 

When you face a crisis, what is your first line of defense? The natural response is to attempt to fix the problem in your own strength. God, however, gives us a different way to handle difficulty.

David was no stranger to pressure or sudden appearances of evil. When he wrote Psalm 57, he was facing many hardships—including pursuit by King Saul, who wanted to kill him (1 Sam 24). The shepherd’s response was to cry out to God and take refuge in Him until the calamity had passed.

Let’s learn from David’s example by exploring his words. Today, we will focus on the One to whom the psalmist cries.

First, David refers to God as El Elyon, or Supreme Ruler; He is the Most High with all power and wisdom, the only One who can help us in our need.

Second, the Psalm says that God is our refuge. If He is a place of shelter for our soul, then we need not fear. He hovers over us and protects us when crises arise and leave us feeling helpless.

Third, the Psalm expresses complete confidence that the Almighty can and will accomplish all things. He will do whatever is necessary to intervene on our behalf, to hold accountable those who oppose us, and to surround us with His love and truth.

During His time on earth, Jesus displayed great passion. Therefore, we can approach Him when emotions run high. If your heart is troubled, cry out to the Lord. Know that you come before the throne of Him who is a powerful protector, capable and willing to do all you need

July 13 – Begg

Evaluate your Anger    –   Jonah 4:9

Anger is not always or necessarily sinful, but it has such a tendency to run wild that whenever it displays itself, we should be quick to question its character, with this inquiry, “Do you do well to be angry?” It may be that we can answer, “Yes.” Very frequently anger is the madman’s firebrand, but sometimes it is Elijah’s fire from heaven. We do well when we are angry with sin, because of the wrong that it commits against our good and gracious God; or with ourselves because we remain so foolish after so much divine instruction; or with others when the sole cause of anger is the evil that they do. He who is not angry at transgression becomes a partaker in it. Sin is a loathsome and hateful thing, and no renewed heart can patiently endure it. God himself is angry with the wicked every day, and it is written in His Word, “O you who love the LORD, hate evil.”1

Far more frequently it is to be feared that our anger is not commendable or even justifiable, and then we must answer, “No.” Why should we be fretful with children, passionate with servants, and wrathful with companions? Is such anger honorable to our Christian profession or glorifying to God? Is it not the old evil heart seeking to gain dominion, and should we not resist it with all the might of our newborn nature?

Many professors give way to temper as though it were useless to attempt resistance; but let the believer remember that he must be a conqueror in every point, or else he cannot be crowned. If we cannot control our tempers, what has grace done for us? Someone told Mr. Jay that grace was often grafted on a crab-stump. “Yes,” he said, “but the fruit will not be crabs.”

We must not make natural infirmity an excuse for sin, but we must fly to the cross and pray the Lord to crucify our tempers, and renew us in gentleness and meekness after His own image.

1Psalm 97:10

Family Bible reading plan

Joshua 18 , 19     –      Psalms 149 , 150

Date July 12 – Begg

The Trinity   –    Scripture Jude 1

Consider the union of the three Divine Persons in all their gracious acts. How unwisely do those believers talk who make preferences in the Persons of the Trinity, who think of Jesus as if He were the embodiment of everything lovely and gracious, while the Father they regard as severely just but destitute of kindness. Equally wrong are those who magnify the decree of the Father and the atonement of the Son so as to depreciate the work of the Spirit.

In works of grace none of the Persons of the Trinity act separately from the rest. They are as united in their works as in Their essence. In Their love toward the chosen They are one, and in the actions that flow from that great central source They are still undivided.

Notice this especially in the matter of sanctification. While it is right to speak of sanctification as the work of the Spirit, yet we must make sure that we do not view it as if the Father and the Son were not involved. It is correct to speak of sanctification as the work of the Father, of the Son, and of the Spirit. Still God says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,”1 and so we are “his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”2

See the value that God sets upon real holiness, since the three Persons in the Trinity are represented as co-working to produce a Church without “spot or wrinkle or any such thing.”3 And you, believer, as the follower of Christ, must also set a high value on holiness-upon purity of life and godliness of conversation. Value the blood of Christ as the foundation of your hope, and never speak disparagingly of the work of the Spirit. This day let us live in such a way as to manifest the work of the Triune God in us.

1Genesis 1:26

2Ephesians 2:10

3Ephesians 5:27

Family Bible reading plan

Joshua 16 , 17

Psalms 148

July 12, 2011 – Stanley

Facing the Unknown
HEBREWS 11:23-29
 

Tucked into Hebrews 11 is a short phrase that indicates Moses’ approach to life: “for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen” (v. 27). There was no shortage of uncertainty in Moses’ life. How could someone “slow of speech” address Pharaoh (Ex. 4:10)? How could a murderer become God’s chosen man? How would anyone lead these stiff-necked Israelites? And how would they cross the Red Sea, conquer Canaan, or survive 40 years in the desert?

Moses knew what the Lord expected of him, but he didn’t have supernatural vision into the future. So he couldn’t see the outcome of his obedient actions. The Israelite leader moved forward by faith—confident in the Lord’s power to guide, protect, and overcome. Moses derived security solely from God, who consistently kept His promises.

Life hasn’t gotten more certain in the millennia since Moses led the Israelites to the Promised Land. Modern believers wonder about things too. Will I ever marry? Is my job safe? What happens to my kids if I get sick? How can I accomplish all I have to do? Thankfully, the source of security hasn’t changed in all that time. God is still the only certainty in this life. You can count on the one who is faithful (2 Tim.2:13), just (Ps. 89:14), and loving (Eph. 2:4).

The lesson from Moses’ life is to cling tenaciously to the Lord. Even situations that look hopeless are cupped in God’s sovereign hand. Moreover, though the way looks dark and the road seems untraveled, He walks before us. Continue forward in confidence, as seeing Him who is unseen

July 11, 2011 – Stanley

Defeating Discouragement
NEHEMIAH 2:1-8
 

Discouragement can rob peace, joy, and contentment. But I have great news if you feel disheartened: You’re not stuck!

I’ve known people who appeared to be in an impossible situation. A few years later, however, they were in a terrific place, either in terms of their circumstances or their emotions. The reason? They never gave up. Instead of sulking in self-pity, they chose to believe God, step out in faith, and climb out of the emotional pit.

Nehemiah is a good example. He had every reason to feel defeated, because his people were in trouble. After receiving news that the city wall had been destroyed, this man of God acknowledged profound disappointment and grieved. Though pain flooded his soul, he didn’t allow himself to stay in that low place. Instead, Nehemiah cried out to God, seeking direction.

Sadness in the presence of royalty was punishable by death. But the Lord answered Nehemiah’s prayer with amazing power, prompting the king to notice his servant’s sad countenance and then to ask what he could do to help. This miracle led to the rebuilding of the wall and the redemption of God’s people.

The Lord can take an impossible situation—no matter what it is—and move in ways mightier than you can imagine.

Do you live in eager expectation of what the Lord will do? Or have you chosen to linger in the depths of despair? Like Nehemiah, turn your disappointment into a petition for God’s help. He can restore your hope and prevent negative emotions from gaining a stranglehold on your life

July 9, 2011 – Stanley

The Trap of Discouragement
HABAKKUK 1:2
 

Do you feel stuck in discouragement? If so, you are not alone.

At some point everyone experiences dashed hopes. Disappointment—an emotional response to a failed expectation—is the normal initial reaction. But allowed to linger, it can turn into discouragement, which hovers like a dense cloud. When that’s the case, there is no sense of joy or contentment, no matter what you do.

The circumstances that trigger these emotions may be unavoidable, but the way we respond is a choice. We can either let sadness overwhelm our souls or face the situation with courage and bring it before the One who can help us.

Living in discouragement will divide the mind, making it hard to focus on anything besides our pain. Then as anger becomes habitual, we’ll look for someone to blame—whether God, people around us, or ourself.

Frustration that isn’t handled well may develop into depression, which in turn can estrange us from others—people do not enjoy the company of someone who’s bitter and defeated. This isolation leads to a low self-esteem. Finally, in a fog of discouragement, we can make poor decisions based on crushed emotions instead of truth. Obviously, choosing this self-destructive path is not God’s best for our lives.

Though we’ll all face disappointment from time to time, believers are not to wallow in it. Instead, God wants us to trust Him with everything—even our unmet expectations and deepest sadnesses. Remember, there is divine purpose for everything He allows to touch His children’s lives (Rom. 8:28)

July 8, 2011 – Stanley

The Age of Accountability    DEUTERONOMY 11:18-20 

I recall an interesting conversation I once had with a young first-time mom while she allowed me to hold her infant son. I commented, “It’s hard to believe that they are born with a sinful nature.” She protested, and I thought it best not to argue with her. But I would have liked to call her a couple of years later when the boy was a toddler to see if she thought any differently!

At one point or another, all of us have felt a tug to do something that we knew was wrong. As adults and believers, we’ve learned that giving in to temptation is a sin against God. But small children do exactly as their natures dictate. Mother says, “Don’t touch,” but they reach out anyway. Little ones do not yet see the wisdom of following a parent’s rules. Boys and girls must be taught to recognize the difference between good and evil before they can make the wise choice to do right.

In the early years, a child is in a state of innocence. He is neither righteous nor saved, but he is safe from God’s wrath—if he dies, he goes to heaven. The Bible refers to the innocent period in Deuteronomy 1:39 and again in Isaiah 7:16. The Word of God confirms that there is a period of time when children are not morally accountable for their conduct.

The age of moral responsibility differs from child to child. As little ones grow, they each develop the spiritual capacity to pursue righteousness or knowingly give in to evil. The years of innocence are the time for parents to pour into their offspring sound biblical training and lessons on obedience

July 8, 2011 – Begg

The Secret Strength of Faith    Tell me where your great strength lies.

Judges 16:6

Where does the secret strength of faith lie? It lies in the food it feeds on; for faith studies what the promise is-an emanation of divine grace, an overflowing of the great heart of God. And faith says, “My God could not have given this promise except from love and grace; therefore it is quite certain His Word will be fulfilled.” Then faith thinks, “Who gave this promise?” It considers not so much its greatness as, “Who is the author of it?” She remembers that it is God, who cannot lie-God omnipotent, God immutable-and therefore concludes that the promise must be fulfilled; and onward she proceeds in this firm conviction. She remembers why the promise was given-namely, for God’s glory-and she feels perfectly sure that God’s glory is safe, that He will never stain His own insignia, nor spoil the sparkle of His own crown; and therefore the promise must and will stand.

Then faith also considers the amazing work of Christ as being a clear proof of the Father’s intention to fulfill His word. “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”1 Moreover, faith looks back upon the past, for her battles have strengthened her, and her victories have given her courage. She remembers that God has never failed her, that He never once failed any of His children. She recalls times of great peril when deliverance came, hours of awful need when as her day her strength was found, and she cries, “No, I never will be led to think that He can change and leave His servant now. Thus far the Lord has helped me, and He will help me still.”

Thus faith views each promise in its connection with the promise-giver and, because she does so, can with assurance say, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life!”2

1Romans 8:32

2Psalm 23:6

The family reading plan for July 8, 2011

Joshua 10 | Psalms 142 , 143

July 7, 2011 – Stanley

When a Child Dies    2 SAMUEL 12:16-23 

Understandably, people who lose a child want assurance that their little one is safe in the arms of God. The Bible is not explicit about what happens to those who are too young to make a proclamation of faith. However, the Lord’s mercy upon them becomes clear as we study His Word.

Over the years, people have created unbiblical explanations for what happens to little ones who die. There are those who argue that salvation is available to some but not to others, which is scripturally inaccurate (John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9). Another more complicated theory holds that God uses His foreknowledge to determine whether a child who dies will enter heaven or hell. The idea is that He rescues those who He knows would have grown up and been saved, but He rejects the rest. What terrible uncertainty that would mean for family members left behind.

God doesn’t keep people guessing. What His Word teaches is that during the early years of life, a child does not know how to choose good from evil (Deut. 1:39; Isa. 7:16) and therefore isn’t held responsible for his moral conduct. Accordingly, when a little one departs from life, the Lord is waiting with open arms. This is the only theology that makes biblical sense, given the Father’s character, desires, and plan.

Until a child is mature enough to decide about whether to serve the Lord, he or she is safe from divine judgment. Our just and loving God does not punish children for being too young to grasp their need of a Savior. Believers join their departed little ones in heaven (2 Sam. 12:23)

July 6, 2011 – Stanley

The Holy Spirit’s Dwelling Place    1 CORINTHIANS 6:19-20 

Every time the news programs report a story about vandalism at a church, believers cringe. It’s hard for us to bear the thought of anyone spray-painting graffiti on sanctuary walls or damaging the stained glass windows, let alone setting fire to a place of worship. It’s a desecration! The church is a sacred place.

I’m saddened by the fact that many Christians don’t have the same qualms when it comes to harming the temple of the Holy Spirit—their own bodies. Some put junk into their stomachs, their veins, or their lungs. Others wear themselves down under a weight of stress or exhaustion. Some folks justify these abuses as their right: It’s my body, I can do what I want. But that isn’t true.

First Corinthians 6 says that believers are the Lord’s possession (v. 19). He has fashioned these earthen vessels to serve Him and carry out the work He’s planned for us to accomplish. God created us with a mind, body, and spirit—of the three aspects, the body is the one that allows us to interact with our environment. People cannot reach their full potential while neglecting the proper care of their bodies. What good are education, talent, and gifts if we’re too tired or sick to complete tasks well?

Here in the world, we can do nothing apart from our physical body. Since it is the only one we’ll have in this life, we should do our best to keep it in good condition. Believers should also recognize their responsibility to treat the earthly frame like the sacred and special dwelling place that it is

July 6, 2011 – Begg

Protecting His Own

Whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.

Proverbs 1:33

Divine love is clearly observable when it shines in the face of judgments. Fair is that single star that smiles through the gaps in the thunderclouds; bright is the oasis that blooms in the wilderness of sand; so fair and so bright is love in the midst of wrath. When the Israelites provoked the Most High by their continued idolatry, He punished them by withholding both dew and rain, so that their land was visited by a sore famine; but while He did this, He took care that His own chosen ones should be secure. If all other brooks are dry, yet shall there be one reserved for Elijah; and when that fails, God shall still preserve for him a place of sustenance. Not only so, the Lord also had a remnant according to the election of grace, who were hidden by fifties in a cave; and though the whole land was subject to famine, yet these fifties in the cave were fed, and fed from Ahab’s table too by His faithful, God-fearing steward, Obadiah.1

Let us from this draw the inference that come what may, God’s people are safe. Let convulsions shake the solid earth, let the skies themselves be torn apart, yet amid the wreck of worlds the believer shall be as secure as in the calmest hour of rest. If God cannot save His people under heaven, He will save them in heaven. If the world becomes too hot to hold them, then heaven shall be the place of their reception and their safety. Be confident then, when you hear of wars and rumors of wars. Let no agitation distress you; don’t be unsettled by fear of evil. Whatever happens on the earth, the believer is sheltered beneath the broad wings of Jehovah and shall be secure. Take your stand upon His promise; rest in His faithfulness, and boldly face the darkest future, for there is nothing in it harmful for you. Your sole concern should be to display to the world the blessedness of taking heed to the voice of wisdom.

11 Kings 18:1-16

The family reading plan for July 6, 2011

Joshua 8 | Psalms 139

July 5, 2011 – Stanley

Freedom in Christ    1 CORINTHIANS 6:12-17 

In his first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul tells Christians that freedom in Christ is a serious responsibility. Yes, we can eat what we want, spend our time as we please, and pursue activities we enjoy. However, as believers, we are inseparably joined to Christ’s church. This means that when we die, we are raised up to live with Him forever. And even before that time, while we live on this earth, our bodies and souls are united with Christ (1 Cor. 6:14-15). Simply put, they are not our own.

As temporary owners of these bodies, we have the responsibility to find out what is and what is not good for them. We must exercise discipline with our God-given liberties because there is no value in “freedom” that spiritually cripples believers or causes pain, shame, and guilt.

Notice the distinction that Paul makes between freedom in Christ and reckless abandon: God’s grace and forgiveness cover our sins, but that doesn’t give us permission to engage in harmful behavior. As followers of Jesus, we’re to give ourselves over to the pursuit of godly living, not to self-serving pleasures. Christians are “earthen vessels,” created by God to fulfill His purpose and bring honor and glory to Him (2 Cor. 4:7). Therefore, anything that violates the human body is not permissible for us.

True freedom means living without the chains of sin and destructive behavior. Jesus Christ paid a price to release you from those bonds. Therefore, do not put your body into slavery to damaging habits. Glorify God with your whole self—heart, mind, soul, and body

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