May 21, 2010 – AB

God’s Provision

There is grain for sale in Egypt.

Genesis 42:2

Famine pinched all the nations, and it seemed inevitable that Jacob and his family should suffer great want; but the God of providence, who never forgets the objects of electing love, had stored a granary for His people by giving the Egyptians warning of the scarcity and leading them to treasure up the grain from the years of plenty. Little did Jacob expect deliverance from Egypt, but there was grain in store for him.

Believer, though all things are apparently against you, rest assured that God has made a reservation on your behalf; in the roll of your griefs there is a saving clause. Somehow He will deliver you, and somewhere He will provide for you. Your rescue may come from a very unexpected source, but help will definitely come in your extremity, and you will magnify the name of the Lord. If men do not feed you, ravens will; and if the earth does not yield wheat, heaven will drop manna.

Therefore be of good courage, and rest quietly in the Lord. God can make the sun rise in the west if He pleases and can make the source of distress a channel of delight. The grain in Egypt was all in the hands of the beloved Joseph; he opened or closed the granaries at will. And so the riches of providence are all in the absolute power of our Lord Jesus, who will dispense them generously to His people. Joseph was abundantly ready to help his own family; and Jesus is unceasing in His faithful care for His brethren.

Our responsibility is to go after the help that is provided for us: We must not sit still in despondency, but stir ourselves. Prayer will bring us quickly into the presence of our royal Brother. Once before His throne we have only to ask and receive. His stores are not exhausted; there is still grain: His heart is not hard; He will give the grain to us. Lord, forgive our unbelief, and this evening constrain us to draw largely from Your fullness and receive grace for grace.

May 21, 2010 – CS

The Hidden Causes of Anxiety Psalm 94:19-22

Experiences affect how people think about themselves and what they choose to believe. Sometimes negative events create a hurtful thought pattern that can play in a person’s brain like a continuous tape loop. When that tape gets switched on, it triggers anxiety in the heart of the listener. Shutting it off permanently requires faith in the Lord.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. Suppose that little Tina’s efforts to do well were often rejected by her parents. She heard, “You can do better than that” or “Your sister did much better at your age.” Tina rarely received praise for a job well done. Now an adult, she refuses to apply for a job promotion, even though her boss is encouraging her to do so. Why? Because she fears being found inadequate. Tina may not be able to name her fear, but it certainly holds her back.

There are several other potential root causes of anxiety. An exhaustive list would not fit here, but the following are a few of the more common ones:

  • A belief that one can’t reach a set standard
  • Guilt over past sin
  • An erroneous idea of God as a punisher
  • Attitudes instilled during childhood

Even if one or more sounds familiar, don’t despair. These roots can be yanked out.

When feeling anxious, ask yourself what produced the uneasiness. Knowing which incidents nurture fear can point you to the underlying cause. Let God help you reject the unhealthy thought pattern and replace it with assurance that those who listen to Him live free from the dread of evil (Prov. 1:33).

May 20, 2010 -CS

Strength for the Fearful Isaiah 41:9-13

I recommend that believers underline Isaiah 41 in their Bibles and meditate on it often. When one of God’s people is seeking an anchor in turbulent times, this is the right passage for the job. Here, Isaiah writes about the source of Christians’ strength.

In verse 10 alone, the Lord promises strength, help, and protection. Moreover, He gives two commands: “do not fear” and “do not anxiously look about you.” Among Satan’s subtle and successful traps is the art of distraction. The Evil One knows that fear can choke faith. He works hard to make unsettling circumstances a person’s sole focus. Once a believer’s attention is diverted from God, natural human tendencies take over. In the absence of prayer and worship, anxiety and doubt grow unobstructed.

Staying focused on God can be hard. The flesh prefers to seek security by thinking through all possible angles: our tendency is to weigh what we think could happen against what “experts” say will happen, and then to evaluate possible ways of preventing our worst fears from coming true. Instead of becoming more confident, we begin to realize how powerless we are.Thankfully, we serve an almighty God who says, “Surely I will help you” (v. 10). You can count on Him.

When we focus on our circumstances, we’re actually choosing to feel anxiety and doubt. But these emotions don’t belong in a believer’s daily life. Instead, let’s decide to trust in the promises God has given us. He’s filled His Word with scriptural anchors to keep His children steady in the faith.

May 20, 2010 – AB

Blocked

Run to the Bands of Love

I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love.

Hosea 11:4

Our heavenly Father often leads us with the cords of love; but how slow we are to run toward Him! How reluctantly we respond to His gentle impulses! He leads us to exercise a more simple faith in Him; but we have not yet learned to trust like Abraham. We do not leave our worldly cares with God, but, like Martha, we burden ourselves with much serving. Our meager faith brings leanness to our souls; we do not open our mouths wide, though God has promised to fill them.

Does He not this evening lead us to trust Him? Can we not hear Him say, “Come, My child, and trust Me. The curtain is opened; enter into My presence, and come boldly to the throne of My grace. I am worthy of your complete confidence; cast your cares on Me. Shake yourself from the dust of your cares, and put on the garments of joy.” But, sadly though called with tones of love to the blessed exercise of this comforting grace, we will not come.

At another time He leads us to closer communion with Himself. We have been sitting on the doorstep of God’s house, and He invites us into the banqueting hall to eat with Him, but we decline the honor. There are secret rooms not yet opened to us, which Jesus invites us to enter, but we hold back.

Shame on our cold hearts! We are but poor lovers of our sweet Lord Jesus, not fit to be His servants, much less to be His brides, and yet He has exalted us to be bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh, married to Him by a glorious marriage-covenant.

Herein is love! But it is a love that takes no denial. If we do not obey the gentle leadings of His love, He will send affliction to drive us into closer intimacy with Himself. He is determined to bring us close to Him. What foolish children we are to refuse those bands of love, and in doing so to bring upon ourselves painful discipline, which He exercises for our good!

May 19, 2010 CS

Troubled? Try Praise! Deuteronomy 20:1-4

A lot of negative emotions accompany hardship: frustration, despair, fear, and doubt. People ruled by those feelings often make poor choices. This is why I recommend that you decide now to respond to troubled times the way the Israelites did: with praise. Even in the darkest hours, worshipping God fills the heart with joy and the mind with peace. A believer who is filled in this way can wisely keep a commitment to obey the Lord no matter what.

Worshipping the Lord enlarges our vision. By doing so, we begin to see how He is at work in the world, perhaps in ways and places we never noticed before. More particularly, we see what God is doing in our situation and notice areas where He requires our obedience.

Our human tendency is to plot a course through a situation toward the easiest solution. But believers who strike out on their own do not mature in faith. Moreover, they miss out on the blessings of following the Lord’s plan. Stopping to praise can divert us from the easy way out and direct us to the right path—namely, the way of God’s will. Taking a step forward in faith can be frightening. However, believers are completely safe risking their whole future on the Lord’s faithfulness. He has never disappointed anyone!

It’s hard to despair while honoring the Lord for His love and strength. We can dispel doubt by recalling His past faithfulness—and ease frustration by committing our future plans to Him. Praise is not the obvious reaction to hardship, but it is the wisest response.

May 19, 2010 AB

Answers to Prayer

And he asked that he might die.

1 Kings 19:4

It was a remarkable thing that the man who was never to die, for whom God had ordained an infinitely better lot, the man who would be carried to heaven in a chariot of fire and be translated and not see death, should thus pray, “Take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” We have here a memorable proof that God does not always answer prayer in kind, though He always does in effect. He gave Elijah something better than what he asked for, and thus really heard and answered him. It was strange that the lion-hearted Elijah should be so depressed by Jezebel’s threat as to ask to die, and yet it was so kind on the part of our heavenly Father not to take His desponding servant at his word.

There is a limit to the doctrine of the prayer of faith. We are not to expect that God will give us everything we choose to ask for. We know that we sometimes ask and do not receive because we ask wrongly. If we ask for that which is not promised—if we run counter to the spirit that the Lord would have us cultivate—if we ask contrary to His will or to the decrees of His providence—if we ask merely for selfish gratification and without a concern for His glory, we must not expect that we will receive. But when we ask in faith, without doubting, if we do not receive the precise thing for which we asked, we shall receive an equivalent, and more than an equivalent, for it. As one remarks, “If the Lord does not pay in silver, He will in gold; and if He does not pay in gold, He will in diamonds.” If He does not give you precisely what you ask for, He will give you that which is tantamount to it, and that which you will be happy to receive in its place.

So, dear reader, be much in prayer, and make this evening a time of earnest intercession, but be careful what you ask for!

May 18, 2010 – Charles Stanley

Praise in Troubled Times 2 Chronicles 20:1-25

Faced with his nation’s certain demise, King Jehoshaphat responded with worship. Read his prayer in today’s passage, and you may find it difficult to separate the petition from the praise. Going deeper than familiar expressions like “hallelujah” and “praise the Lord,” his prayer celebrates God’s personhood and extols His virtues.

Furthermore, the king led the nation in glorifying God for His past redemption. As the Israelites focused on the Lord (and away from the incoming armies), the people recalled anew how He had intervened, sometimes dramatically. This was exactly what God had told the Israelites to do—to instruct their children about His ways so they could honor Him every day (Deut. 6:7). This builds courage and strengthens faith.

The people’s praise paved the way for their complete dependence upon Him. The odds of the small Israelite army beating the united force of three enemies were slim. However, in the people’s worshipful state of mind, they could admit their weakness and await divine intervention. God gave them an outrageous solution to the problem: to do nothing. Even so, Israel was spiritually prepared to go against human reason and obey. God loves it when we throw ourselves upon His mercy, because then His power can be released in its fullness.

God is also willing to lead you to victory in troubled times. The Israelites’ story is recorded in His Word so that all believers may apply its principles. Bend your heart and mind toward the Lord, and He will enlarge your vision of who He is and what He can do on your behalf.

May 18, 2010 – Alistair Begg

Later

Hebrews 12:11

How happy are tested Christians, later. There is no deeper calm than that which follows the storm. Who has not rejoiced in clear shinings after rain?

Victorious banquets are for well-accomplished soldiers. After killing the lion we eat the honey; after climbing the Hill Difficulty,1 we sit down in the arbor to rest; after traversing the Valley of Humiliation, after fighting with Apollyon, the shining one appears, with the healing branch from the tree of life. Our sorrows, like the passing hulls of the ships upon the sea, leave a silver line of holy light behind them “later.” It is peace, sweet, deep peace, that follows the horrible turmoil that once reigned in our tormented, guilty souls.

Consider, then, the happy condition of a Christian! He has his best things last, and therefore in this world he receives his worst things first. But even his worst things are “later” good things, hard plowings yielding joyful harvests. Even now he grows rich by his losses, he rises by his falls, he lives by dying, and he becomes full by being emptied; if, then, his grievous afflictions yield him so much peaceable fruit in this life, what will be the full vintage of joy “later” in heaven? If his dark nights are as bright as the world’s days, what shall his days be? If even his starlight is more splendid than the sun, what must his sunlight be? If he can sing in a dungeon, how sweetly will he sing in heaven! If he can praise the Lord in the fires, how will he extol Him before the eternal throne! If evil be good to him now, what will the overflowing goodness of God be to him then?

Oh, blessed “later”! Who would not be a Christian? Who would not bear the present cross for the crown that comes afterwards? But here is work for patience, for the rest is not for today, nor the triumph for the present, but “later.” Wait, my soul, and let patience have her perfect work.

1Pilgrim’s Progress

May 17, 2010

The Affliction of Paul 2 Corinthians 1:8-11

It’s easy to assume that problems in biblical days looked totally different from those facing us today. So you might wonder what a first-century missionary can teach us about triumphing over adversity.

Though Paul’s culture was quite different from ours, some things remain the same—like temptation, hardship, persecution, and sin. Satan never changes either. Therefore, when the apostle wrote of being burdened beyond his strength, he had experience to back up his words.

Paul “despaired of life,” but he trusted in a God who raises the dead. In other words, he believed the Lord would sustain him during that season of conflict. How could he be certain? Paul learned to trust the Lord during affliction in the same way that we do: he was thrown into high-pressure situations with impossible odds and yet saw God triumph. We understand divine power when we reach the limits of our own strength and feel God’s supernatural energy kick in.

Divine strength is more than adequate to overcome worldly hardships, satanic temptations, and consequences of sin. That isn’t to say believers can avoid all sorrow and pain. Rather, we have the promise that God will meet our needs in every heartache and trial (Phil. 4:19). Our faith grows stronger when we trust Him in times of affliction.

God’s strength is available to all believers who confess their weakness and inadequacy. Sometimes a troubled soul has only enough stamina left to admit, “Father, I absolutely cannot. If You don’t, it is simply not going to happen.” In effect, we throw ourselves upon God and wait for Him to keep His promise.

May 17, 2010

God’s Chosen Servants

You are my servant, I have chosen you.

Isaiah 41:9

If we have received the grace of God in our hearts, its practical effect has been to make us God’s servants. We may be unfaithful servants, we certainly are unprofitable ones, but yet, blessed be His name, we are His servants, wearing His uniform, eating at His table, and obeying His commands. We were once the servants of sin, but He who made us free has now taken us into His family and taught us obedience to His will. We do not serve our Master perfectly, but we would if we could. As we hear God’s voice saying unto us, “You are My servant,” we can answer with David, “I am your servant. . . . You have loosed my bonds.”1

But the Lord calls us not only His servants, but His chosen ones—”I have chosen you.” We have not chosen Him first, but He has chosen us. If we are now God’s servants, it wasn’t always so; the change must be ascribed to sovereign grace. The eye of sovereignty singled us out, and the voice of unchanging grace declared, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”2 Long before time began or space was created, God had written upon His heart the names of His elect people, had predestinated them to be conformed unto the image of His Son, and ordained them heirs of all the fullness of His love, His grace, and His glory.

What comfort is here! Having loved us for so long, will the Lord then reject us? He knew how stiff-necked we would be, He understood that our hearts were evil, and yet He made the choice. Our Savior is no fickle lover. He does not feel enchanted for a while with some gleams of beauty from His church’s eye and then afterwards reject her because of her unfaithfulness. No, He married her in old eternity; and He hates divorce! The eternal choice is a bond upon our gratitude and upon His faithfulness, which neither can disown.

1Psalm 116:16 2Jeremiah 31:3

May 15, 2010 – Charles Stanley

The Attitude of a Saint 1 Corinthians 15:9-11

The apostle Paul had a certain mindset that Christians are wise to emulate (1 Cor. 11:1). His attitude included:

1. Humility. Pride cannot hide in the heart of a believer who understands divine mercy. Paul spread the gospel because he believed that the grace which was sufficient to save a sinner like him was adequate for anyone.

2. A sense of obligation. The apostle never lost sight of how far God’s grace had brought him. He frequently reminded followers of his role in persecuting the church (1 Tim. 1:13). Paul’s gratitude for salvation from that former life never waned. The book of Acts records the almost constant turmoil and heartache of his travels, and yet he kept praising the Lord for the privilege of serving.

3. A sense of dependence. To describe the source of his strength, Paul used these words: “By the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10). He knew what it was like to depend upon one’s own goodness and work to be religious— and he wanted no part of it. Paul desired more of Jesus and none of himself (Phil 3:8).

4. A spirit of absolute confidence. At the end of his life, Paul was as certain as ever that God was real, in charge, and worthy of all honor, glory, and praise (2 Tim. 4:6-8).

Do you see these attitudes in yourself? If not, borrow a page from the apostle Paul’s “playbook.” Praise the Lord for all that He has done for you, and then get busy working for His kingdom. Do not allow His grace to be poured out on your life in vain (1 Cor. 15:10).

May 15, 2010 – Alistair Begg

God will Finish His Work

. . . made perfect.

Hebrews 12:23

Remember that there are two kinds of perfection that the Christian needs—the perfection of justification in the person of Jesus, and the perfection of sanctification accomplished in him by the Holy Spirit. At present, corruption still remains even in the hearts of the regenerate—experience soon teaches us this. Within us there still are lusts and evil imaginations. But I rejoice to know that the day is coming when God shall finish the work that He has begun; and He will present my soul not only perfect in Christ, but perfect through the Spirit, without spot or blemish or any such thing.

Can it be true that this poor sinful heart of mine is to become holy even as God is holy? Can it be that this spirit, which often cries, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”1 shall get rid of sin and death—that I will have no evil sounds to vex my ears, and no unholy thoughts to disturb my peace? May this happy hour come quickly! When I cross the Jordan, the work of sanctification will be finished; but not until that moment shall I ever claim perfection in myself. Then my spirit will have its last baptism in the Holy Spirit’s fire.

I think I long to die to receive that last and final purification that will usher me into heaven. An angel will not be any purer than I shall be, for I shall be able to say, in a double sense, “I am clean,” through Jesus’ blood and through the Spirit’s work. We should extol the power of the Holy Spirit who makes us fit to stand before our Father in heaven! Yet we must not allow the hope of perfection there to make us content with imperfection now. If it does this, our hope cannot be genuine; for a good hope is a purifying thing, even now. Grace must be at work in us now or it will not be perfected in us then. Let us pray to “be filled with the Spirit,”2 that we may increasingly bring forth the fruits of righteousness.

1Romans 7:24 2Ephesians 5:18

May 14, 2010 Charles Stanley

The Transforming Grace of God Romans 8:28-30

God has predestined every believer to be conformed to the likeness of His Son Jesus Christ. The process begins at salvation and continues until we join Him in heaven. The apostle Paul is a good example of the Lord’s power to transform an unrighteous man into an image-bearer of Jesus.

God changed a sinner into a saint. Paul was deeply religious before his conversion, but he relied on good works and a pious nature to gain divine acceptance. When he met the Lord on the road to Damascus, the future apostle learned that all of his religious zeal meant nothing. The only way for people to be acceptable before God is to receive the saving grace of Christ—He replaces our sin nature with a righteous spirit. And even though saints will sometimes falter and make mistakes, our heavenly Father remains patient and loving toward His children. He uses our failures to teach us more about Himself and His ways.

God changed a servant of sin into a servant of the Lord (Rom. 6:16). Paul was welcomed into the kingdom in spite of his hostility toward the church. He’d promoted blasphemy, punished believers, and cast his vote against those being put to death (Acts 26:10-11). The lesson here is that no one can sin beyond the Lord’s capacity to forgive.

The Father shapes and chisels His children until they mirror His Son. He turned one of the early church’s enemies into a wise and repentant leader. Commit to obey the Lord, and see what He will do in your life. He is faithful to complete the good work He has begun in you (Phil. 1:6).

May 14, 2010 Alistair Begg

Jesus’ Nature

He will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom.

Isaiah 40:11

Who is He of whom such gracious words are spoken? He is the Good Shepherd. Why does He carry the lambs in His bosom? Because He has a tender heart, and any weakness at once melts His heart. The sighs, the ignorance, the feebleness of the little ones of His flock draw forth His compassion. It is His office, as a faithful High Priest, to consider the weak. Besides, He purchased them with blood; they are His property: He must and will care for those who cost Him so dearly. Then He is responsible for each lamb, bound by covenant love not to lose one. Moreover, they are all a part of His glory and reward.

But how may we understand the expression, “he will carry them”? Sometimes He carries them by not permitting them to endure much trial. Providence deals tenderly with them. Often they are carried by being filled with an unusual degree of love, so that they bear up and stand fast. Though their knowledge may not be deep, they have great sweetness in what they do know. Frequently He carries them by giving them a very simple faith, which takes the promise just as it stands and in childlike trust runs with every trouble straight to Jesus. The simplicity of their faith gives them an unusual degree of confidence, which carries them above the world.

He carries the lambs “in his bosom.” Here is boundless affection. Would He put them in His bosom if He did not love them much? Here is tender nearness: They are so near that they could not possibly be nearer. Here is a holy relationship: There are precious love-passages between Christ and His weak ones. Here is perfect safety: In His bosom who can hurt them? They must hurt the Shepherd first. Here is perfect rest and sweetest comfort. Surely we are not sufficiently aware of the infinite tenderness of Jesus!

Ka Huakai Important Prayer

Luke 6:12-13

12And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.

13And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;

Remember the Challenge from our Pastor to Pray a special Prayer for Ka Huaka’i and where we will be meeting.

May 13, 2010 – Charles Stanley

The King of Kings Revelation 19:11-16

In today’s passage from Revelation 19, we see Jesus exalted as the King of Kings. He is shown returning to earth to rescue His people, judge the wicked, and set up His kingdom. As heaven opens, Christ rides out on a white horse in power and great glory. This appearance is nothing like His quiet arrival in Bethlehem as a helpless baby. This time, “every eye will see Him” (Rev. 1:7), as He comes to bring inescapable judgment.

The exalted King is not coming alone. The armies of heaven—who are clothed in the white linen of the bride of Christ (vv. 7-8)—are following Him on white horses. If you are a Christian, you will be in this army of saints and angels. This describes the fulfillment of the promise that says believers are going to rule and reign with Him (Rev. 5:10).

One day, Jesus will literally reign on this earth as King. But even before that time, He comes to rule in the heart of every believer. Sometimes Christians try to keep Him in the role of Savior, but salvation is just the beginning of all the blessings that the Lord has in store for us. Only in submission and obedience to Christ’s authority will we be transformed into His image and live a life worthy of His rewards (22:12).

In all practicality, who is the king of your life? Who guides your decisions and directs your path? The Creator has a plan and purpose for you, which can be discovered only by living under Christ’s authority. May His kingdom come, and His will be done on earth and in your heart.

May 13, 2010 – Alistair Begg

You Are Rich Indeed  – The Lord is my portion.

Psalms 119:57

Look at your possessions, believer, and compare your portion with the circumstances of your friends. Some of them have their portion in the field; they are rich, and their harvests yield them a golden increase; but what are harvests compared with your God, who is the God of harvests? What are bursting granaries compared with Him who feeds you with the bread of heaven? Some have their portion in the city; their wealth is abundant and flows to them in constant streams until they become a very reservoir of gold; but what is gold compared with your God? You could not live on it; your spiritual life could not be sustained by it. Could it grant peace to a troubled conscience? Apply it to a sad heart, and see if it could prevent a single groan or minimize one grief.

But you have God, and in Him you have more than gold or riches could ever buy. Some have their portion in something most men love—applause and fame; but ask yourself, is not your God more to you than that? Do you think that human accolades or thunderous applause could prepare you to face death or encourage you in the prospect of judgment? No! There are sorrows in life that wealth cannot alleviate; and there is the deep need of a dying hour, for which no riches can provide.

But when you have God for your portion, you have more than everything else put together. In Him every need is met, whether in life or in death. With God for your portion you are rich indeed, for He will supply your need, comfort your heart, relieve your grief, guide your steps, walk with you in the dark valley, and then take you home to enjoy Him as your portion forever.

“I have enough,” said Esau; this is the best thing a worldly man can say, but Jacob replied in essence, “I have everything,” which is a note too high for carnal minds.

May 12, 2010 – Charles Stanley

The Exalted Lord of the Revelation Revelation 1:9-20

Revelation may be the most ignored book of the New Testament simply because it can be difficult to understand. But to avoid the treasures found within this book is to miss some of the richest descriptions of our Lord that Scripture offers. We love seeing Him as the baby in the manger, and we recognize the importance of His death and resurrection, but the story doesn’t end there.

John was given a dramatic vision of the exalted Lord as He is now in heaven. Even though the apostle had shared an intimate friendship with Christ on earth, the sight of His Lord in this glorified state caused him to pass out in fear (v. 17).

In the heavenly scene, Jesus is portrayed as the Lord of His church, in the midst of the lampstands. He watches over them, preserving, protecting, and admonishing when necessary.

A few chapters later, in Revelation 5:1-14, Jesus is shown to be the Lamb of God, who, as our High Priest, sacrificed Himself on our behalf. His blood purchased redemption for people from every place and time, so that they could become citizens of His kingdom. All heaven erupts into praise and worship when Christ is found to be the only one worthy to end this age and set up His righteous kingdom (v. 13).

If you are a believer in Christ, you are reading about your future. Picture yourself in the scene, seeing Jesus as the exalted Lord and Lamb of God. The praises described in Revelation 5:9-14 are coming from your mouth! Let this glimpse of the future shape your worship and focus this week.

May 12, 2010 – Alistair Begg

Dangerous to Linger

Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again.

Genesis 46:3-4

Jacob must have shuddered at the thought of leaving the land of his fathers to live among heathen strangers. It was a new scene, and likely to be a trying one: Who shall venture among citizens of a foreign power without some anxiety? Yet the way was evidently appointed for him, and therefore he resolved to go.

This is frequently the experience of believers; they are called to face perils and temptations. At such times let them imitate Jacob’s example by offering sacrifices of prayer to God and seeking His direction. Let them not take a step until they have waited upon the Lord for His blessing: Then they will have Jacob’s companion to be their friend and helper.

How blessed to feel assured that the Lord is with us in all our ways and condescends to enter into our humiliations and banishments! Even at such times we may bask in the sunshine of our Father’s love. We need not hesitate to go where He promises His presence; even the darkest valley grows bright with the radiance of this assurance. Marching onward with faith in their God, believers shall have Jacob’s promise. They will be brought up again, whether it be from the troubles of life or the chambers of death. Jacob’s offspring came out of Egypt in due time, and so shall all the faithful pass unscathed through the tribulations of life and the terror of death.

Let us exercise Jacob’s confidence. “Do not be afraid” is the Lord’s command and His divine encouragement to those who at His bidding are launching upon new seas; God’s presence and preservation forbid so much as one unbelieving fear. Without our God we would be afraid to move; but when He bids us to, it would be dangerous to linger.

Reader, go forward, and do not be afraid.

May 11, 2010

The Call for a Believer 2 Timothy 2:20-21

Years ago, God temporarily allowed me to have such physical ailments that I could do nothing but lie in bed. At first, this felt frustrating, but eventually I began to realize His plan for this trial. Life had become too busy for me to hear something the Lord needed to tell me. He certainly managed to get my attention by stilling my physical body!

After leading us to salvation, God still has work to do in our lives. If we listen carefully, we’ll be able to hear our Father directing us in three ways.

First, the Lord calls us to sanctification, which means being set apart by Him and for Him. Through His Spirit, He continually reminds us to use His power and resources so we can obey and live righteously.

Second, He calls us to service. God has planned good works for us to accomplish (Eph. 2:10); He gives us abilities, time, and resources for that purpose.

Third, He calls us to accountability. Romans 14:12 teaches that one day we all will “give an account” of how we used the resources God placed at our disposal. This report will be based on two factors: the truth we’ve heard and the opportunities that were available. So we should be sure to listen daily as our heavenly Father reminds us to utilize everything we have for His glory.

Has life become so hectic that God’s voice is inaudible? Foster your own ability to listen by spending time in the Word and by waiting for answers when you pray. And teach your children to tune in so they can hear Him too. What a waste it would be to tackle life without guidance from above.

Scriptures, Lessons, News and Links to help you survive.