Tag Archives: Bible

Presidential Prayer Team; C.P. – Up Close and Personal

 

Many people today say they believe in God. Current politically-correct philosophy says to believe anything you want, but don’t impose your beliefs on others. But following Christ isn’t just a set of values and beliefs. Asking a Christian to not tell others about Jesus is like asking grandparents to not talk about their grandchildren!

You shall be my people, and I will be your God. Ezekiel 36:28

According to Romans 8, those who are in Christ and are following after the Spirit belong to God’s family. The greatest commandment isn’t about do’s and don’ts, it’s to love the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37). Think about what it is to love God with your mind, your emotions and everything that makes you a unique person. It’s a marvelous thing that creator God wants you to love Him like that. He doesn’t want a mere head nod His way. He wants an intimate loving relationship. He is an up close and personal God.

Today, acknowledge His presence. Worship Him. Thank Him for His love and remind yourself that God loves you and is very aware of all your concerns. Cast your cares on Him for He cares for you (I Peter 5:7). Then passionately bring the needs of this nation before Him.

Recommended Reading: Romans 8:1-12

Greg Laurie – For Just Such a Time

 

“For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” —Esther 4:14

I love the story of Esther because in some ways, it reminds me of a fairy tale, except it is true. Esther was a beautiful Jewish girl who was plucked from obscurity, won a beauty contest, and became the queen of the kingdom. Then there was a wicked man named Haman, who hatched a plot to have all of the Jews put to death. It was Esther’s uncle, Mordecai, who came to her and described the plight of her fellow Jews, saying, “For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).

Esther was the queen who saved a nation. She used her influence with the king, the plot was averted, and the people were saved. Then, in perfect poetic justice, Haman, the guy who hatched the plot, ended up hanging on the very gallows he had erected for others. She was there behind the scenes. Esther could have said, “I don’t want to jeopardize my position. No one will ever find out I am a Jew. I am going to be careful and play it safe.” But instead, she put everything on the line.

Who knows that God has not put you where you are right now for such a time as this? You may be the only Christian in your family or the only believer in your neighborhood. You may be the only follower of Jesus Christ in your workplace or in your classroom. Like Esther, will you stand up for such a time as this? Will you use your influence where you can, when you can?

Max Lucado – Give Him a Pretzel

 

Years ago I was traveling with my daughter, Jenna.  When I realized she and I weren’t seated together,  I asked the fellow sitting next to her to swap seats with me.  Surely he’ll understand, I thought.  He didn’t.  I was left separated from my 12 year old on a long transatlantic flight.

I began plotting how I’d trip him if he dared walk to the restroom during the flight. I turned to intimidate him with a snarl and saw, much to my surprise, Jenna offering him a pretzel. What?  My daughter was fraternizing with the enemy! As if the pretzel were an olive branch, he accepted her gift and they both leaned their seats back and dozed off.

I learned the lesson God had used my daughter to teach me. All of us are here by grace and, at some point, all of us have to share some grace. So the next time you find yourself next to a questionable character, don’t give him a hard time—give him a pretzel!

Charles Stanley – Christ’s Blood: The Necessity

 

Romans 3:21-26

Romans 3 communicates the very heart of Scripture. Apart from the cross of Christ and His atoning death, no one can be declared righteous.

In other words, there is only one way to become a child of God—through the blood of the Savior (John 14:6). Good works and right living will not earn the Lord’s favor, because every person inevitably sins, and a sinner cannot enter the presence of holy God. The shedding of Christ’s blood on the world’s behalf made it possible for anyone to be cleansed of sin and have a relationship with the Creator. The only requirement is trusting Jesus as Savior.

For God to be just, He must remain true to His own principles. His holiness dictated that “the soul who sins will die” (Ezek. 18:4). The penalty for sin—namely, death—had to be paid in a way that was acceptable to God. He explained through Moses why a blood sacrifice was required: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement” (Lev. 17:11). A life must be given for a life to be spared.

On that basis, the heavenly Father provided a perfectly sinless sacrifice for all mankind. The only way God’s justice could be satisfied and His holiness could be maintained was for Jesus Christ to take our guilt and sin upon Himself and die in our place.

When we say that there is only one way to the Father, we mean that a person must believe Jesus Christ died as a perfect sacrifice. To trust in anything else is to ignore God’s holiness and the admonition of His Word (Acts 4:12).

Our Daily Bread — Faithful To The Finish

 

Hebrews 12:1-4

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. —Hebrews 12:1

After running 32 kilometers (20 miles) of the Salomon Kielder Marathon in Great Britain, a runner dropped out and rode a bus to a wooded area near the finish line. Then, he re-entered the race and claimed third prize. When officials questioned him, he stated that he stopped running because he was tired.

Many of us can relate to the exhaustion of a worn-out athlete as we run the race of the Christian faith. The book of Hebrews encourages us to “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (12:1). Running with endurance requires that we lay aside the sin that stands in our way and shed the weights that hold us back. We may even have to press on through persecution (2 Tim. 3:12).

To prevent weariness and discouragement in our souls (Heb. 12:3), the Bible urges us to focus on Christ. When we pay more attention to Him than to our struggles, we will notice Him running alongside us—supporting us when we stumble (2 Cor. 12:9) and encouraging us with His example (1 Peter 2:21-24). Keeping our eyes on “the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2) will help us stay close to the source of our strength and remain faithful to the finish. —Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful face;

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace.

—H. H. Lemmel. © Renewal 1950. H. H. Lemmel

We can finish strong when we focus on Christ.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Breaking Time

 

“Uncanny” was one of the vocabulary words on my sixth grade vocabulary list, which was to be found within the book we were reading as a class. I remember thinking Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time was exactly that—uncanny, peculiar, and uncomfortably strange. Yet I also remember that it stayed with me—the story of a quirky girl named Meg, her overly-intelligent little brother, and their time-transcending journey to save their physicist father with the help of three mysterious beings. L’Engle’s book, which recently celebrated its fiftieth anniversary, invites readers to see time itself differently. Her stories will no doubt continue to perplex sixth graders, and stay with us long after we have set them aside.

L’Engle is the writer who first showed me the incredible difference between two words in Greek, which we unfortunately translate identically. To the English reader, chronos and kairos both appear to us as “time.” But in Greek, these words are vastly different. Chronos is the time on your wrist watch, time on the move, passing from present to future and so becoming past. Kairos, on the other hand, is qualitative rather than quantitative. It is time as a moment, a significant occasion, an immeasurable quality. In the New Testament, kairos is God’s time, it is real time—it is the eternal now.

Thus, when Jesus stepped into time to proclaim the kingdom of God among us, he came to show us in chronos the reality of kairos. “Jesus took John and James and Peter up the mountain in ordinary, daily chronos,” writes L’Engle. “Yet during the glory of the Transfiguration they were dwelling in kairos.”(1) With this story in mind, L’Engle describes kairos as that time which breaks through chronos with a shock of joy, time where we are completely unselfconscious and yet paradoxically far more real than we can ever be when we are continually checking our watches. “Are we willing and able to be surprised?” L’Engle asks. “If we are to be aware of life while we are living it, we must have the courage to relinquish our hard-earned control of ourselves.”(2) For the Christian, the thought is particularly consequential. We must have the courage to see counterculturally beyond ourselves and our self-importance. We must have the courage to live aware that the kingdom of God is close at hand.

I imagine Jacob discovered this difference between chronos and kairos when he set aside both the past that was about to catch up with him and his paralyzing fear of the future only to find himself living in “none other than the house of God” (Genesis 28:17). The prophets and others describe similar moments of waking to the present and finding the eternal dimensions of time. The shepherds in Bethlehem were going about their ordinary work when an angel appeared before them and the glory of the Lord shone around them.  ”Do not be afraid,” the angel announced. “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you” (Luke 2:13-14).  At this invasion of kairos into the routine of chronos, the shepherds chose to respond with action: “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about” (2:15).

In the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, where eternity steps into time and invites us to see far beyond our watches, we are presented with a similar decision. Are we willing to be surprised again by Christ’s coming? Are we willing to act on it? Are we able to release the nervous control of our daily schedules in order to stop and see the resurrected Christ, the eternal now in our midst? With every prophet who proclaimed the coming of the Messiah in history, the apostle calls out today, “Behold, now is the time (kairos) of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Whether we are ready for our sense of time and self to stop at such an invasion, Christ has come. He comes quietly and unexpectedly; he comes and upsets our very notions of time and all we discover within it. The eternal Word steps into flesh, into our bounded realm of time, and literally embodies the reality that time is meaningful because of the eternal one in our midst. His presence reminds us that kairos is breaking into chronos and transforming it, transforming us. It proclaims, “The kingdom of God is close at hand”—and invites us to join the world breaking in along with it. In moments of life and death, present fears and plans for the future, might this radical invasion move us and our vantage points, as we find ourselves continually surprised by the one who comes so near.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art (New York: Bantam, 1982), 93.

(2) Ibid., 99.

Alistair Begg – Renew Your Covenant

 

Because of all this we make a firm covenant.  Nehemiah 9:38

There are many occasions in our experience when we may very rightly, and with benefit, renew our covenant with God. After recovery from sickness when, like Hezekiah, we have had a new lease of years added to our life, we may do so appropriately. After any deliverance from trouble, when our joys spring forth anew, let us again visit the foot of the cross and renew our consecration. Especially let us do this after any sin that has grieved the Holy Spirit or brought dishonor upon the cause of God; let us then look to that blood that can make us whiter than snow and again offer ourselves to the Lord.

We should not only let our troubles confirm our dedication to God, but our prosperity should do the same. If we ever meet with occasions that deserve to be called “crowning mercies,” then surely, if He has crowned us, we ought also to crown our God; let us bring out again all the jewels of the divine regalia that have been stored in the jewel-closet of our heart, and let our God sit upon the throne of our love, arrayed in royal apparel. If we could learn to profit by our prosperity, we would not need to face so much adversity. If we would gather from a kiss all the good it might confer upon us, we would not have to bear the imprint of punishment so often.

Have we recently received some blessing that we hadn’t expected? Has the Lord opened our way? Can we sing of mercies multiplied? Then this is the day to put our hand upon the horns of the altar and say, “Bind me here, my God; bind me here with cords, even forever.” Just as we need the fulfillment of new promises from God, let us offer renewed prayers that our old vows may not be dishonored. This morning let us make with Him a firm covenant because of the sacrifice of Jesus that we have been considering with gratitude for the last month.

 

Charles Spurgeon – A vision of the latter day glories

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.” Isaiah 2:2 & Micah 4:1

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-15

I am looking for the advent of Christ; it is this that cheers me in the battle of life—the battle and cause of Christ. I look for Christ to come, somewhat as John Bunyan described the battle of Captain Credence with Diabolus. The inhabitants of the town of Mansoul fought hard to protect their city from the prince of darkness, and at last a pitched battle was fought outside the walls. The captains and the brave men of arms fought all day till their swords were knitted to their hands with blood; many and many a weary hour did they seek to drive back the Diabolonians. The battle seemed to waver in the balance; sometimes victory was on the side of faith, and then, triumph seemed to hover over the crest of the prince of hell; but just as the sun was setting, trumpets were heard in the distance; Prince Emmanuel was coming, with trumpets sounding, and with banners flying; and while the men of Mansoul pressed onward sword in hand, Emmanuel attacked their foes in the rear, and getting the enemy between them both, they went on, driving their enemies at the sword’s point, till at last, trampling over their dead bodies, they met, and hand to hand the victorious church saluted its victorious Lord. Even so must it be. We must fight on day by day and hour by hour; and when we think the battle is almost decided against us, we shall hear the trump of the archangel, and the voice of God, and he shall come, the Prince of the kings of the earth; at his name, with terror shall they melt, and like snow driven before the wind from the bare side of a mountain shall they fly away; and we, the church militant, trampling over them, shall salute our Lord, shouting, “Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”

For meditation: The Lord’s second coming is an encouragement for us to hold fast to what we have (Revelation 2:25; 3:11). “Hold the fort, for I am coming!”

Sermon no. 249

24 April (1859)

John MacArthur – Christ Is Our Peace

 

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9).

After World War II the United Nations was created to promote world peace. But since its inception in 1945 there has not been a single day of global peace. That’s a sad commentary on man’s inability to make peace. In fact, someone once quipped that Washington D.C. has so many peace monuments because they build one after every war!

It hasn’t always been that way. Prior to the Fall of man peace reigned on the earth because all creation was in perfect harmony with its Creator. But sin interrupted peace by alienating man from God and bringing a curse upon the earth. Man couldn’t know true peace because he had no peace in his heart. That’s why Jesus came to die.

I once read a story about a couple at a divorce hearing whose conflict couldn’t be resolved. They had a four-year-old boy who became distressed and teary-eyed over what was happening. While the couple was arguing, the boy reached for his father’s hand and his mother’s hand and pulled until he joined them.

In a sense that’s what Christ did: He provided the righteousness that allows man and God to join hands. Romans 5:1 says that those who are justified by faith have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Colossians 1:20 says that God reconciled all things to Himself through the blood of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

Yet on the surface, the scene at the cross wasn’t peaceful at all. Pain, sorrow, humiliation, hatred, mockery, darkness, and death were oppressively pervasive, but through it all Christ was doing what He alone could do: making peace between man and God. He paid the supreme price to give us that precious gift.

In the future, Jesus will return as Prince of Peace to establish a kingdom of peace that will usher us into an eternal age of peace. In the meantime He reigns over the hearts of all who love Him. Let His peace reign in your heart today!

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank God for the peace of heart that comes from knowing Christ.

For Further Study:

Read Philippians 4:6-9. What must a person do to know God’s peace?

Joyce Meyer – Show Jesus

 

And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you.—Ephesians 4:32

I hope to show to everyone I meet the character of Jesus through my words and actions. I pray that everyone who contacts our ministry team will say: “Those people are full of Jesus. They are patient, kind, and sweet.”

We are containers capable of being filled to overflowing with the Spirit of Jesus, who dwells in our hearts. If we understand that everywhere we go we can demonstrate His character and virtue, we will be as the Word says—lights in a dark world (see Philippians 2:15).

Jesus called us the salt of the earth (see Matthew 5:13). Salt gives flavor to what is otherwise bland or tasteless. Be salt today—at home, at your job, wherever you go.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Poor, Blind and Naked

 

“You say, ‘I am rich, with everything I want; I don’t need a thing!” And you don’t realize that spiritually you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (Revelation 3:17).

George had come for a week of lay training at Arrowhead Springs. Following one of my messages on revival, in which I explained that most Christians are like the members of the church at Ephesus and Laodicea, as described in Revelation 2 and 3, he came to share with me how, though he was definitely lukewarm and had lost his first love, he frankly had never read those passages, had never heard a sermon such as I had presented and therefore did not realize how wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked he was.

If there were such an instrument as a “faith thermometer,” at what level would your faithfulness register? Hot? Lukewarm? Cold?

Jesus said to the church at Laodicea, “I know you well – you are neither hot nor cold; I wish you were one or the other! But since you are merely lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth!” (Revelation 3:15).

Again, I ask you, where does your faithfulness register on that faith thermometer?

The greatest tragedy in the history of nations is happening right here in America. Here we are, a nation founded by Christians, a nation founded upon godly principles, a nation blessed beyond all the nations of history for the purpose of doing God’s will in the world. But most people in this country, including the majority of church members, have without realizing it become materialistic and humanistic, all too often worshiping man and his achievements instead of the only true God.

Granted, the opinion polls show meteoric growth in the number of people in America who claim to be born-again Christians. But where does their faith register on the faith thermometer? America is a modern-day Laodicea. We are where we are today because too many Christians have quenched the Holy Spirit in their lives.

Bible Reading: Revelation 3:14-19

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Realizing that America cannot become spiritually renewed without individual revival, I will humble myself, and pray, and seek God’s face, and turn from my wicked ways. By faith I will claim revival in my own heart.

Presidential Prayer Team; J.K. – Total Reliance

 

The saddest of stories: a rich, young ruler came running to Jesus, knelt at His feet and asked, “What must I do to have eternal life?” He came not to lay a trap, as some did, but because of a truly honest longing for assurance.

With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26

He knew the commandments, but Jesus read his heart and knew the idol in his life gave the young man a deceptive feeling that he was self-sufficient. The answer to his question – give away all he possessed and follow Jesus – was an impossible request…unless he relied totally on God to do it. Instead, he turned away in sorrow, loving his possessions more than his soul!

In one form or another, the test comes to every Christian. It is the smallest of things that sometimes prevents the greatest results. A slight defect in the finest bell and it ceases to sound. The tiniest of sin, if there could be such a thing, keeps you from doing what the Lord has in mind.

Don’t go away sorrowfully. Reinstate God as the center of your life. All things are possible with Him. The hope of this nation rests on the prayers of those who give their all to Christ.

Recommended Reading: Psalm 62:5-12

 

 

Greg Laurie – A Bittersweet Message

 

To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? —2 Corinthians 2:16

Have you ever eaten something that was sweet going down but made you sick later? Let me restate the question: Have you ever eaten eight Krispy Kreme doughnuts in one sitting? I have. I got a little carried away. They were great going down. But less than ten minutes later, I was asking, What have I done?

In Revelation 10, the apostle John asked an angel for a small scroll. When the angel gave him the scroll, he told John, “Yes, take it and eat it. It will be sweet as honey in your mouth, but it will turn sour in your stomach!” (verse 9).

John said, “So I took the small scroll from the hand of the angel, and I ate it! It was sweet in my mouth, but when I swallowed it, it turned sour in my stomach. Then I was told, ‘You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages, and kings’ ” (verses 10–11).

The message that we believe as Christians is sweet to us, but it is bitter to others. This is God’s Word to us. We eat it like food. Job said, “I have not departed from his commands, but have treasured his words more than daily food” (Job 23:12). For Christians to have a Bible study is like a feast. We love it. But for others, it is misery and torment. They don’t like it.

Some hear the gospel and say, “I love that. I believe it. I want Jesus.”

Others say, “Not only do I not like it, I hate it. And I hate you for saying it.”

As believers, we need to take the message of the gospel and give it to as many as we can. Whether they love it or hate it is really up to them.

Our Daily Bread — Now I See

 

John 14:15-27

The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. —John 14:26

Deborah Kendrick loves to attend Broadway musicals even though she is blind and always struggles to understand the setting and the movements of the characters onstage. Recently, however, she attended a play that used D-Scriptive, a new technology that conveys the visual elements of the stage production through a small FM receiver. A recorded narration, keyed to the show’s light and sound boards, describes the set and the action as it unfolds onstage. Writing in The Columbus Dispatch, Deborah said, “If you ask me if I saw a show last week in New York, my answer is yes . . . I genuinely, unequivocally mean that I saw the show.”

Her experience struck me as a vivid illustration of the Holy Spirit’s role in our understanding of God’s Word. Just before Jesus went to the cross, He told His followers that “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26).

As we open the Bible to read or study, the Spirit of Truth is with us to guide us into all truth (16:13). On our own we are blind, but through the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit we can see. —David McCasland

Break Thou the bread of life, dear Lord, to me,

As Thou didst break the loaves beside the sea.

Beyond the sacred page I seek Thee, Lord;

My spirit pants for Thee, O Living Word. —Lathbury

The Father gave the Spirit to teach us from the Word.

Alistair Begg – How Are You Fighting Sin?

 

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  Romans 8:37

We go to Christ for forgiveness, and then too often look to the law for power to fight our sins. Paul issues this rebuke: “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? . . . Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” Take your sins to Christ’s cross, for the flesh can only be crucified there: We are crucified with Him. The only weapon to fight sin with is the spear that pierced the side of Jesus.

To give an illustration–if you want to overcome an angry temper, how do you go about it? It is very possible that you have never tried the right way of going to Jesus with it. How did I get salvation? I came to Jesus just as I was, and I trusted Him to save me. I must kill my angry temper in the same way. It is the only way in which I can ever kill it. I must go to the cross with it and say to Jesus, “Lord, I trust You to deliver me from it.” This is the only way to give it a deathblow.

Are you covetous? Do you feel the world entangle you? You may struggle against this evil as long as you please, but if it is your besetting sin, you will never be delivered from it in any other way than by the blood of Jesus. Take it to Christ. Tell Him, “Lord, I have trusted You, and Your name is Jesus, for You save Your people from their sins. Lord, this is one of my sins; save me from it!”

Ordinances are nothing without Christ as a means of mortification. Your prayers, and your repentances, and your tears–the whole of them put together–are worth nothing apart from Him. Only Jesus can do helpless sinners good, and helpless saints too. You must be conquerors through Him who has loved you if you will be a conqueror at all. Our laurels must grow among His olives in Gethsemane.

Charles Spurgeon – A divine challenge

 

“Thus saith the Lord, let my people go, that they may serve me.” Exodus 8:1

Suggested Further Reading: James 3:3-6

Moses goes to Pharaoh yet again, and says, “Thus saith the Lord, let my people go, that they may serve me.” And at one time the haughty monarch says he will let some go; at another time he will let them all go, but they are to leave their cattle behind. He will hold on to something; if he cannot have the whole he will have a part. It is wonderful how content the devil is if he can but nibble at a man’s heart. It does not matter about swallowing it whole; only let him nibble and he will be content. Let him but bite at the fag ends and be satisfied, for he is wise enough to know that if a serpent has but an inch of bare flesh to sting, he will poison the whole. When Satan cannot get a great sin in he will let a little one in, like the thief who goes and finds shutters all coated with iron and bolted inside. At last he sees a little window in a chamber. He cannot get in, so he puts a little boy in, that he may go round and open the back door. So the devil has always his little sins to carry about with him to go and open back doors for him, and we let one in and say, “O, it is only a little one.” Yes, but how that little one becomes the ruin of the entire man! Let us take care that the devil does not get a foothold, for if he gets but a foothold, he will get his whole body in and we shall be overcome.

For meditation: Beware of giving Satan a window of opportunity (Ephesians 4:27), it is amazing how much damage can be caused by something apparently little (1 Corinthians 5:6; Hebrews 12:15).

Sermon no. 322

23 April (Preached 22 April 1860)

John MacArthur – Hindrances to Peace

 

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9).

Just as righteousness and truth are the noble companions of peace, so sin and falsehood are its great hindrances. The prophet Jeremiah said, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately [evil]; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9). Jesus said, “Out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man” (Mark 7:21-23).

People with sinful hearts create a sinful society that resists true peace. Ironically, many who talk of peace will also pay huge sums of money to watch two men beat the daylights out of each other in a boxing ring! Our society’s heroes tend to be the macho, hard-nosed, tough guys. Our heroines tend to be free-spirited women who lead marches and stir up contention. Psychologists and psychiatrists tell us to stand up for our rights and get everything we can for ourselves. That breeds strife and conditions people to reject the peace of the gospel.

Beyond that, the unbelieving world has never tolerated God’s peacemakers. Christ Himself often met with violent resistance. His accusers said, “He stirs up the people” (Luke 23:5). Paul’s preaching frequently created conflict as well. He spent much time under house arrest and in filthy Roman prisons. On one occasion his enemies described him as “a real pest . . . who stirs up dissension among all the Jews throughout the world” (Acts 24:5).

All who proclaim the gospel will eventually meet with opposition because sin and falsehood have blinded people’s hearts to true peace. That’s why Paul warned us that all who desire to be godly will suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:12). You can avoid strife by remaining silent about the Lord, but a faithful peacemaker is willing to speak the truth regardless of the consequences. Let that be true of you.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank God for Christ, who is the solution for the world’s problem of sin and falsehood.

Follow Paul’s example by praying for boldness to proclaim God’s truth at every opportunity (Eph. 6:19).

For Further Study:

Read Matthew 10:16-25, noting the kind of reception the disciples were to expect from unbelievers.

Joyce Meyer – Like a Child

 

Truly I say to you, unless you repent (change, turn about) and become like little children [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving], you can never enter the kingdom of heaven [at all]. —Matthew 18:3

Jesus said we should become like little children if we expect to enter the kingdom of God. I believe that one of the things He was telling us is to study the freedom that children enjoy. They are unpretentious and straightforward; they laugh a lot; they’re forgiving and trusting. Children are definitely confident, at least until the world teaches them to be insecure and fearful. I can remember our son Danny at the age of three walking through the shopping mall with Dave and me and saying to people, “I’m Danny Meyer, don’t you want to talk to me?” He was so confident that he was sure everyone wanted to know him better.

Children seem to be able to make a game out of anything. They quickly adjust, don’t have a problem letting other children be different than they are, and are always exploring something new. They are amazed by everything!

Oswald Chambers wrote in My Utmost for His Highest: “The freedom after sanctification is the freedom of a child; the things that used to keep the life pinned down are gone.” We definitely need to watch and study children and obey the command of Jesus to be more like them. It is something we have to do on purpose as we get older. We all have to grow up and be responsible, but we don’t have to stop enjoying ourselves and life.

Trust in Him: Take time to watch children today and learn from them—play a game, adjust to your circumstances without complaint, let others be who they are—remember what it is like to be confident and bold and trust that God wants you to be just like that!

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Abounding Therein

 

“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him: Rooted and built up in Him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:6-8, KJV).

Some years ago, while speaking at the University of Houston, I was told about a brilliant philosophy major. He was much older than most of the other students, having spent many years in the military before he returned to do graduate work.

He was so gifted, so brilliant, so knowledgeable that even the professors were impressed by his ability to comprehend quickly and to debate rationally. He was an atheist, and he had a way of embarrassing the Christians who tried to witness to him.

During one of my visits to the university, I was asked to talk with him about Christ. We sat in a booth in the student center, contrasting his philosophy of life with the Word of God. It was an unusual dialogue. He successfully monopolized the conversation with his philosophy of unbelief in God.

At every opportunity, I would remind him that God loved him and offered a wonderful plan for his life. I showed him various passages of Scripture concerning the person of Jesus Christ (John 1, Colossians 1, Hebrews 1). He seemed to ignore everything I said; there appeared to be no communication between us whatsoever.

A couple of hours passed, and it was getting late. I felt that I was wasting my time and there was no need to continue the discussion. He agreed to call it a day. A friend and staff member who was with me suggested to this student that we would be glad to drop him off at his home on the way to my hotel.

As we got into the car, his first words were, “Everything you said tonight hit me right in the heart. I want to receive Christ. Tell me how I can do it right now.” Even though I had not sensed it during our conversation, the Holy Spirit – who really does care – had been speaking to his heart through the truth of God’s Word which I had shared with him.

Bible Reading: Colossians 2:1-10

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will not depend upon my own wisdom, my personality or even my training to share Christ effectively with others, but I will commit myself to talk about Him wherever I go, depending upon the Holy Spirit to empower me and speak through me to the needs of others.

A Time for Courage By Dr. Charles Stanley

 

Would you describe yourself as a courageous person? Or does fear have a grip on your life in one area or another? Of course, healthy apprehension keeps us from making unwise choices or taking foolish risks. But fear can leave us in a state of perpetual anxiety or keep us from fulfilling God’s will for our lives.

•What unhealthy fears do you have?

•How do your fears limit or hinder you from fully obeying God?

The Old Testament judge Gideon was initially timid, but he learned to put his trust in the Lord. Despite his dread of the enemy, He chose to obey God and became a courageous–and victorious–warrior. Let’s take a look at five principles found in Gideon’s story about overcoming fear.

Read Judges 6 and 7.

1. Sometimes fear is related to sin.

Sometimes we feel discontent or anxious because of sin in our lives.

•In what ways were the Israelites being tormented (Judg. 6:1-5)?

•What did the angel of the Lord instruct Gideon to do (vv. 25-26)?

•Given this instruction, name one way the people of Israel disobeyed God (vv. 8-10).

•At this point, what evidence points to the fact that Gideon was still timid (v. 27)?

•What happened after he destroyed the altar to Baal (v. 34)?

The sins of worry, impurity, greed, unforgiveness, and many others can open the door to fear. Although believers in Jesus are always indwelt by the Holy Spirit, clearing our conscience of known sins enables us to walk in His power in a fresh, new way.

•Are any of your worries the fruit of sin? If so, take a few moments to confess and repent.

2. Our lack of courage can enable us to operate in God’s strength.

The Lord works through people who allow Him to use their weaknesses for His glory.

•When the angel of the Lord appeared to him, what was Gideon doing (v. 11)?

•What is ironic about God’s greeting to Gideon (v. 12)?

•How did Gideon see himself (v. 15)?

•Explain the principle the apostle Paul discovered (2 Cor. 12:9-10).

•Can you relate to experiencing the Lord’s power in your weakness, especially when you have felt afraid? Give a specific example if possible.

3. Discovering God’s will is an important part of overcoming fear.

The angel of the Lord told Gideon that he had been chosen to lead the people in battle against Midian and that God would give him victory (vv. 14, 16). However, Gideon wanted to make sure this was indeed the Lord talking to him.

•What was the first sign Gideon asked of God (vv. 17-21)?

•What two other signs did he request (vv. 36-40)?

Gideon overcame his fear, in part because he asked for signs that God was indeed speaking to him.  But the leader’s approach described in verses 36-40 is not recommended anywhere else in Scripture.

While no one should stipulate how the Father is to confirm His promises, we certainly can ask Him to make His will clear to us.

•When deciding about something that frightens you, how do you confirm what God’s will is?

•How can hearing from the Lord about a fearful situation bring inner peace?

4. Humanly speaking, God’s path to peace may not make sense at first.

•How are the army and camels of Midian described (Judg. 6:5)?

•Why did God not allow all of Israel’s army to fight the battle (v. 7:2)?

•After the Lord eliminated the men who were afraid to fight and the men who lapped water like dogs, how many were left to fight the battle (v. 7:7)?

The world–and sometimes fellow believers–won’t always understand why we obey the Lord even when His commands defy common wisdom.

•Why do you think He chooses to work through actions that, humanly speaking, seem foolish?

5. When we obey God despite our fears, He will fight our battles for us.

•How had the Lord already worked within the enemy camp (vv. 13-14)?

•What happened when Gideon and his small army blew their trumpets, uncovered their torches, and shouted “a sword for the Lord and for Gideon” (vv. 19-22)?

•What remained for the Israelites to do (vv. 23-25)?

•Although the Israelites mistakenly credited Gideon with the victory (Judg. 8:22), what should they have learned as a result of this battle?

•When you have obeyed God despite your fears, how did He show Himself strong on your behalf? Be specific.

Prayer: Father, thank You for the promise that I don’t have to be afraid. You are always with me. I pray that I would learn to magnify You and let my fears fall into perspective. Help me keep a clean conscience and meditate on Your marvelous promises instead of giving in to anxiety. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Note: If you are suffering debilitating fears that prevent you from carrying out everyday tasks or result in panic attacks, you may want to seek professional help from a pastor or Christian counselor.