Tag Archives: Bible

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Chosen to be Glorified

dr_bright

“And having chosen us, He called us to come to Him; and when we came, He declared us ‘not guilty,’ filled us with Christ’s goodness, gave us right standing with Himself, and promised us His glory” (Romans 8:30).

A famous Christian leader insisted to me that anyone could lose his salvation. I asked him if he felt that he would ever lose his. Quickly, he replied, “Absolutely not. I am sure I will not lose my salvation.”

Can we lose our salvation? Personally, I believe there is too much controversy over this issue. Some fear that the individual who has assurance of salvation and knows that he will spend eternity with God might have a tendency to compromise his conduct, which would result in disobedience to God and would be an insult to Christ and His church. Others think that the individual who does not live like a Christian – although he professes faith in Christ – has never experienced the new birth, does not have eternal life and will be forever separated from God.

It is quite likely that the person who insists on “doing his own thing” – going his own way while professing to be a Christian – is deceived and should be encouraged to look into the mirror of God’s Word. For if his salvation is real, the evidence should proclaim it.

The caterpillar which goes through a metamorphosis to become a butterfly, lives like a butterfly, not a caterpillar. In the same way, the man or woman who has experienced new life in Christ will witness to it in his life.

Our beginning Scripture deals with seven marvelous truths:

He chose us.

He called us.

We came.

He declared us not guilty.

He filled us with Christ’s goodness.

He gave us a right standing with Himself.

He promised us His glory.

For centuries, man has been mystified by predestination and eternal security. One famous theologian put it this way: “How would it be a source of consolation to say…that whom God foreknew, He predestinated, and whom he predestinated, He called, and whom He called, He justified, and whom He justified might fall away and be lost forever?”

We should praise and worship God because of His promises to all who receive Him that He will never leave them nor forsake them (Hebrews 13:5).

Bible Reading: Ephesians 1:3-6

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will meditate upon the truths in this marvelous Word from God. And as an expression of my gratitude for the privilege of living a supernatural life, I will praise and thank God constantly for His goodness and will encourage other believers to do the same

 

Presidential Prayer Team; J.R. – Dream Team

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If you are really anxious to waste your hard-earned money, you might try hiring a “dream interpretation” service. For a fee, you reveal the details of your dream to a so-called expert, who collects a handsome fee and then tells you what the dream means. While the dream interpretation business has certainly picked up with the advent of the Internet, it’s hardly new. King Nebuchadnezzar had his own personal dream team. Eventually, though, he realized he was being scammed, so he changed the rules. The king demanded they not only interpret the dream, but also tell him what the dream was about. This, of course, they could not do.

To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and might.

Daniel 2:23

But Daniel could. God revealed the king’s dreams to Daniel, along with the interpretation, and it happened in such a way so as to glorify God, not anyone else. And Daniel not only recognized that the “wisdom and might” he received was from the Lord, he also made sure others knew their source, too.

As you pray for America’s leaders today, ask God to remind them that true knowledge and power comes only from Him…and remember to direct your own thanks and praise to Whom it is due!

Recommended Reading: Psalm 146:1-10

Greg Laurie – Why Jesus Had to Die, Part 2

greglaurie

Hebrews 12:3 (NKJV) says, “For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” Consider means to “think over, ponder, or compare.” So let’s consider what the cross was to Jesus Himself. For Jesus, the cross was a fate worse than death. Indeed it was death, and a very cruel one at that. It can’t get much worse than that, but for Jesus it was.

Can you remember the most painful moment of your life? There are different types of pain. There is physical pain. Perhaps you’ve had a horrible fall and broke an arm or a leg, or worse. It’s an interesting thing how the human body will sort of shut down temporarily when it’s in a state of shock, so that it doesn’t feel the pain as severely.

But there are other kinds of pain that can actually be worse than physical pain: the pain of rejection, betrayal, or abandonment, for example. When a husband says to his wife, “I’ve been unfaithful to you.” When a wife says to her husband, “I want a divorce!” When the child says to the parent, “I don’t want to live the Christian life!” Or when you are betrayed by a friend, perhaps someone you’ve done so much for. It cuts like a knife.

When we think about the most painful moment in the earthly life of Christ, our minds immediately race to the act of crucifixion itself—the crude spikes that were driven through His hands and feet, or the cruel lashes on His back, or the physical abuse he took from the soldiers. And all of that was truly horrific.

But, as horrible as that was, I believe that none of those things were Jesus’ most painful moment. The most painful moment for Jesus was when He bore the sin of the world. This is what He recoiled from in Gethsemane, this “cup” of God’s wrath. Understand that He had never spent a single moment out of fellowship with His Father. Now He would, for a time, be completely separated from God.

And that, for Jesus, was a fate worse than death. This, His worst moment of personal pain and anguish was our greatest moment in its effect. In essence, His lowest moment was our highest.

His pain, our gain.

 

Charles Stanley – Our Basic Needs

Charles Stanley

Psalm 107:9

Every individual is a beautiful and unique creation, complete with needs and desires that are specific to his or her own life. There are, however, a few necessities we call universal. They are things all people need in their lives:

1. Sense of Belonging. Everyone yearns to “fit in” somewhere. The joy you feel when surrounded by intimate friends and family stands as a powerful testament to this truth. The discomfort associated with moving to a job or home where no one knows you also reveals how powerful this need is in our lives.

2. Sense of Worth. It is critical for all of us to be able to say, “I matter.” Yet, many people are not convinced this is true. They are overcome by a horribly disfigured self-image that is stealing the joy of the Lord from their lives.

3. Sense of Competence. We need to know for certain that we can accomplish the tasks God puts before us. A lack of confidence in His power and provision in our lives can be devastating.

God responded to every one of these needs at the cross. We belong because our heavenly Father called us into His holy family. We have worth because Jesus paid such a great price for our salvation. We are competent because God has sent His Holy Spirit to indwell and empower us.

A breakdown in even one of these areas will have a negative impact on your spiritual growth. Are you struggling with regard to any of them? Lay your needs before the Lord today, and trust Him to make you the complete person He designed you to be.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Where the Light Is Strong

Ravi Z

A classic vaudeville routine begins with a pitch-black theater except for a large circle of light coming from a street lamp. In the spotlight, a man is on his knees, crawling with his hands in front of him, carefully probing the lighted circle. After a few moments a policeman walks on stage. Seeing the man on all fours, he poses the obvious question: “Did you lose some¬thing?”

“Yes,” the man replies. “I have lost my keys.”

Kindly, the police officer joins the man’s search, and two figures now circle the lighted area on hands and knees.  After some time, the officer stops. “Are you absolutely certain this is where you lost your keys?  We’ve covered every inch.”

“Why no,” the man replies matter-of-factly, pointing to a darkened corner. “I lost them over there.”

Visibly shaken, the policeman exclaims, “Well, then why in the name of all heaven are we looking for them over here?”

The man responds with equal annoyance: “Isn’t that obvious?  The light is better over here!”

The classic comedy enacts a subtle point. It is far easier to limit our examining of life’s missing keys to easy, comfortable places. Like a modern parable, the story registers an illogic common to most. Searching dark and difficult corners—where the keys may have in fact been lost—is far less desirable.

Somewhere between reading belittling headlines of a once-popular celebrity and hearing an open invitation to weigh-in on the latest political scandal, I wondered if the drama didn’t register something more. It is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid the signs that we live, particularly in the west, in a world of criticism. We are encouraged by all facets of the media to examine the flaws of everyone, to search for the scandal in every story, and to pour over everything that divides us, offends us, or otherwise differs from us in any way.

But more than this, we are encouraged to opine and criticize regardless of whether we know anything about the subject or person whatsoever. Online news articles quite typically now have a section for comments where readers are invited to put their own remarks in writing. And comment they do. The long list of critics offers thoughts on anything from the topic, to the author, to things completely unrelated. Carrying this one step further, one online bookseller not only invites anyone to be an official book reviewer; they also invite anyone to comment on these comments, to vote on whether or not the reviewers themselves need to be critiqued. While I appreciate some of these services, the attitude they endorse seems so pervasive. Everyone is now a critic and an expert at once.

And this is where the man in the drama seems unquestionably familiar. How easy is it to search where the light is strong, to examine the faults and scandals of others as if it were the best place to logically spend our time? As the light of the media shines on an individual or the light of gossip draws our attention like searchlights to a grand opening, how easy is it to declare this particular spot the place we will fully scrutinize? How readily do we prefer to be critics of those in the spotlight rather than fumble over our own flaws in the dark?

In the Christian journey in the shadow of the God-Man, where some follow the darkened path of self-examination, it is helpful to know that Jesus was aware just how tempting is the option of the easier route. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own?… You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3-4). The flaws we see in pop-stars, politicians, and co-workers may seem so startlingly clear to us. The critiques and opinions we can so readily offer about books and public scandal, internal gossip and things about which we actually know little all may seem innocent enough. But might there not be a better place to spend our energy searching? Maybe we are looking where the light is strong, but not where keys are really lost.

An old proverb explains, “The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge comes easily to the discerning.” Perhaps this is true because the mocker spends his time searching the comfortable places of life, the easy targets where light and company will always be found. The difficult, dimly lighted places require much more of us, and often we are left to search on our own. But the discerning know that wisdom comes with the kind of seeking that pulls us mysteriously inward, into places where there is actually something to find, and before a merciful throne that compels transparency. Here, everyone who seeks finds, the lost themselves are discovered, and once dark corners of the soul are changed by the light of Christ.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

 

Alistair Begg – What We Receive

Alistair Begg

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord . . .

Colossians 2:6

The life of faith is represented as receiving-an act that implies the very opposite of anything like merit. It is simply the acceptance of a gift.

As the earth drinks in the rain, as the sea receives the streams, as night accepts light from the stars, so we, giving nothing, partake freely of the grace of God. The believers are not by nature wells or streams; they are just cisterns into which the living water flows; they are empty vessels into which God pours His salvation.

The idea of receiving implies a sense of realization, making the matter a reality. One cannot very well receive a shadow; we receive that which is substantial: So is it in the life of faith-Christ becomes real to us.

Until we come to faith, Jesus is just a name to us-a person who lived a long time ago, so long ago that His life is only a history to us now! By an act of faith Jesus becomes a real person in the consciousness of our heart. But receiving also means grasping or getting possession of. The thing that I receive becomes my own: I appropriate to myself that which is given.

When I receive Jesus, He becomes my Savior, so much so that neither life nor death will be able to rob me of Him. All this is to receive Christ-to take Him as God’s free gift, to realize Him in my heart, and to appropriate Him as mine.

Salvation may be described as the blind receiving sight, the deaf receiving hearing, the dead receiving life; but we have not only received these blessings-we have received Christ Jesus Himself. It is true that He gave us life from the dead.

He gave us pardon from sin; He gave us imputed righteousness. These are all precious things, but we are not content with them; we have received Christ Himself. The Son of God has been poured into us, and we have received Him and appropriated Him. What a heart-full Jesus must be, for heaven itself cannot contain Him!

 

Charles Spurgeon – The first and great commandment

CharlesSpurgeon

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” Mark 12:30

Suggested Further Reading: 2 John 1-6

We are bound to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Thus, we deduce that we are to love God supremely. Thou art to love thy wife, O husband. Thou canst not love her too much except in one case, if thou shouldst love her before God, and prefer her pleasure to the pleasure of the Most High. Then wouldst thou be an idolater. Child! Thou art to love thy parents; thou canst not love him too much who begat thee, nor her too much who brought thee forth; but remember, there is one law that doth over-ride that. Thou art to love thy God more than thy father or thy mother. He demands thy first and thy highest affection: thou art to love him “with all thy heart.” We are allowed to love our relatives: we are taught to do so. He that does not love his own family is worse than a heathen man and a publican. But we are not to love the dearest object of our hearts so much as we love God. You may erect little thrones for those whom you rightly love; but God’s throne must be a glorious high throne; you may set them upon the steps, but God must sit on the very seat itself. He is to be enthroned, the royal One within your heart, the king of your affections. Have you kept this commandment? I know I have not; I must plead guilty before God; I must cast myself before him, and acknowledge my transgression. But nevertheless, there standeth the commandment—“Thou shalt love God with all thy heart” that is, thou shalt love him supremely.

For meditation: The Lord Jesus Christ preached what he practised (Matthew 10:37,38). His Heavenly Father’s house came first, but he was obedient in his earthly parents’ house (Luke 2:48-51); his Heavenly Father’s will came first (Matthew 26:39), but even while he was carrying it out, his earthly mother’s wellbeing was upon his heart (John 19:26-27). We love our families, our fellow-believers and the lost ones best, when we love and obey God first.

Sermon no. 162

8 November (1857)

John MacArthur – The First Disciple

John MacArthur

“Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. And Abel…brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard” (Gen. 4:3-5)

In John 8:31 Jesus issued an important statement to a group of people who were showing an interest in Him: “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.” Sadly, they rejected His words, proving themselves to be less than true disciples. Jesus went on to explain why: “He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God” (v. 47). They listened but didn’t really hear. They were interested but not truly committed. They were hearers of the Word but not doers (James 1:22).

In contrast, Abel did what God told him to do. He was, in effect, the first disciple. He was probably a better person than Cain–more friendly, moral, and dependable–but that’s not why God accepted his sacrifice and rejected Cain’s. Abel trusted God, and his faith was counted as righteousness. Like Abraham, whose faith was evidenced by his willingness to obey God and sacrifice his son Isaac (James 2:21-22), Abel’s faith was evidenced in his obedient offering. He didn’t rely on his own goodness but acknowledged his sin and made the prescribed sacrifice.

Perhaps God indicated His acceptance of Abel’s sacrifice by consuming it with fire, as He did on other occasions in Scripture (Judg. 6:21; 1 Kings 18:38). But whatever means He used, God made his pleasure known to Abel.

Abel’s brief life conveys a simple three-point message: we must come to God by faith; we must receive and obey God’s Word; and sin brings serious consequences. If you hear and heed that message, you’ll walk the path of true discipleship and be assured of God’s pleasure.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Make it your goal to please the Lord in everything you do today. Seek His wisdom and grace to do so faithfully.

For Further Study:

Read these verses, noting what they say about pleasing God: 2 Corinthians 5:9; Ephesians 5:6-10; Philippians 2:12-13; Hebrews 11:6; and Hebrews 13:15-16, 20-21.

 

Joyce Meyer – Take Time to Play

Joyce meyer

Josiah was eight years old when he began his thirty-one-year reign in Jerusalem.—2 Kings 22:1

In today’s scripture we see that Josiah became king when he was only eight years old. A boy named Joash became king at age seven and a young man named Manasseh became king at age twelve (see 2 Kings 11:21; 2 Kings 21:1). These boys were forced to grow up quickly!

Many people feel they were forced to grow up too fast, just as the young kings were. Maybe you feel that way; I certainly did. When people have to grow up too quickly, they lose something precious and that loss often leads to tremendous emotional problems.

As adults we should be able to accomplish things in our lives without feeling burdened. We should be responsible and yet lighthearted enough to enjoy our everyday lives and even our work. In fact, I believe we should be able to enjoy every single thing we do. Some years ago this fact was brought to my attention because I realized I was at that time past forty years of age, married with four children, and yet I could not say I had ever really enjoyed much of my life.

Not being permitted to play will steal a person’s childhood and his enjoyment of adulthood. My problem was thinking I had to deserve every bit of fun, enjoyment or blessing that came my way. Now I have learned to work until quitting time and then leave whatever I am doing for the next day. If you and I don’t do that, we open ourselves up to burnout—and once we get burned out, it’s hard to recover.

The good things that come to us in this life are given to us by the Lord (see James 1:17). He wants to give them to us. He wants us to enjoy life to the fullest. If you lost part of your childhood because you had to grow up too quickly, pray and ask God to restore your joy, your childlike faith and your ability to celebrate life.

Love Yourself Today: Form a habit of taking time to do something lighthearted, something you really enjoy—just for the fun of it!

Max Lucado – Kindness

Max Lucado

They sat on opposite sides of the room, a man and a woman, bidding on an adorable puppy at a school auction. Others dropped off, but not this duo. Back and forth until they’d one-upped the bid to several thousand dollars.

No longer about a puppy, but about victory. This was the Wimbledon finals, and neither player was backing off the net.  Finally the fellow gave in and didn’t return the bid. Going once, going twice…going three times. Sold!

You know what she did?  Amidst the applause, she walked across the room and presented the puppy to the competition. Suppose you did that with your competition. With your enemy.  Suppose you surprised them with kindness?  Not easy?

No, it’s not. But mercy is the deepest gesture of kindness. Paul equates the two in Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

from Lucado Inspirational Reader

Charles Stanley – Impacting Others for God’s Kingdom

Charles Stanley

Colossians 4:6

In our desire to impact people around us, we often look to the example of individuals who have positively influenced our own lives. Many of us have known men or women who created a hunger in our soul to know God better. Seeing what a difference they made in our life, we may wonder if we could ever have that kind of influence on others.

The answer is yes, because God’s Spirit indwells every believer, making it possible for any of us to be effective in significant ways. One way is by simply speaking words of kindness. When you notice that someone is depressed or deeply troubled over circumstances in his or her life, you have the opportunity to say, “I just want you to know that I love you and appreciate you. I know things look black right now, but I’m lifting you in prayer. You are going to make it.” It may not sound eloquent or profound, but just imagine yourself receiving such encouragement in a time of need. Then you’ll get an idea of how meaningful such comments can be.

Another way to make a significant impact is through the church that you attend. Every week, when you contribute to the ministry of Jesus Christ in that fellowship, the Lord utilizes your offering in ways you’ll never be able to measure. He knows how to multiply your gift so it goes much further than you realize.

Because God wants all believers to have impact for His kingdom, He expects you to use the abilities and opportunities He has given you. Where do you begin? Right where you are—start by brightening the corner where you live.

 

 

Our Daily Bread — Two Victories

Our Daily Bread

2 Samuel 5:17-25

David inquired of the LORD. —2 Samuel 5:19

King David was up against a familiar foe. Years before as a young shepherd boy, he had faced down Goliath, the top Philistine warrior, by killing him with a well-placed stone (1 Sam. 17). Now David was king of Israel, and here come the Philistines again! They heard he was king, and they decided to attack (2 Sam. 5:17).

What do we do first when trouble is on the way? We could panic. We could plan. Or we could first do what David did—pray. “David inquired of the LORD” (v.19), and God guided the king.

David had to fight two battles with the Philistines—one at Baal Perazim and one at the Valley of Rephaim. It was a good thing he consulted God, because in these two battles there were two different strategies. In the first one, God won the battle with His power alone: “The LORD has broken through,” David recorded (v.20). For the next one, God gave David an action plan, and when he carried it out, the Israelites won (vv.23-25).

Each day we face many challenges. Although there is no one-size-fits-all answer, our first action should always be to consult God. As He guides us, we can have confidence in Him. Then, whether the victory comes through His miraculous intervention or through His guidance, all the glory goes to God. —Dave Branon

Not to the strong is the battle,

Not to the swift is the race;

Yet to the true and the faithful

Victory is promised through grace. —Crosby

To stand up to any challenge, spend time on your knees.

Bible in a year: Jeremiah 40-42; Hebrews 4

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Too Good to Be True

Ravi Z

You may have heard it said that religion only survives because people desperately want it to be true, because they can’t come to terms with their own mortality (or that of loved ones). It was Sigmund Freud who helped to popularize this idea, as he suggested that the concept of a loving Creator was simply a psychological projection of a person’s innermost wishes:

“We tell ourselves that it would be very nice if there was a God who created the world and was a benevolent Providence and if there were a moral order in the universe and an after-life; but it is the very striking fact that all this is exactly as we are bound to wish it to be.”(1)

This kind of argument would seem to ring true, at least on a superficial level. You would expect it to be more likely for people to believe in something that they like than something that they don’t, and it is clear that Christianity is powerfully compelling. In fact, the argument itself is an admission of this, as it acknowledges the innate desire in us all that is fulfilled by God. Who wouldn’t want to be in a relationship with a loving deity who not only wants the best for those he has created, but who is offering eternity in a place that is more wonderful than can be imagined? Yet the Bible also contains some very hard-hitting passages, which would seem to contradict the notion that religious belief is simply a projection of our wishes. C. S. Lewis pointed out that scripture also teaches that believers should fear the Lord, but you would not then suggest that this meant faith was some kind of “fear fulfillment”!(2)

The problem with the argument is that it cuts both ways. If you suggest that people only believe because they want it to be true, then the counter-claim is that atheists are only non-believers because they don’t want it to be true. Some people have expressly stated this, such as Aldous Huxley who wrote:

“For myself, as, no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom; we objected to the political and economic system because it was unjust.”(3)

As Czeslaw Milosz points out, this is a negative wish-fulfillment, because “A true opium of the people is a belief in nothingness after death—the huge solace of thinking that for our betrayals, greed, cowardice, murders, we are not going to be judged.”(4)

The problem with these types of argument is that, as Manfred Lutz points out, Freud can provide an equally compelling reason for why someone might believe as to why they might disbelieve. Yet, crucially, when it comes to discerning the all-important matter of which position is actually true, he cannot help us.(5) As this suggests, just because you want to believe in something does not mean that it is true.

What is interesting about the Christian faith is that the intellectual arguments for God are backed up with a reality that can be personally experienced. There are countless examples of people who discover a life-changing faith even though they were once hostile to the idea of it. This may sound too good to be true, but this is something that is within everyone’s reach. The final word should perhaps go to the Victorian pastor William Haslam, whose conversion experience in 1851 has to rank as one of the best—not to mention funniest—examples of someone encountering God when they least expected it. The transformation was as dramatic as it was real, and it resulted in an outpouring of joy that he had never felt before:

“So I went up into the pulpit and gave out my text. I took it from the gospel of the day—’What think ye of Christ?’ As I went on to explain the passage, I saw that the Pharisees and scribes did not know that Christ was the Son of God, or that He was come to save them. They were looking for a king, the son of David, to reign over them as they were. Something was telling me, all the time, ‘You are no better than the Pharisees yourself—you do not believe that He is the Son of God, and that He is come to save you, any more than they did.’ I do not remember all I said, but I felt a wonderful light and joy coming into my soul, and I was beginning to see what the Pharisees did not. Whether it was something in my words, or my manner, or my look, I know not; but all of a sudden a local preacher, who happened to be in the congregation, stood up, and putting up his arms, shouted in a Cornish manner, ‘The parson is converted! The parson is converted! Hallelujah!’ and in another moment his voice was lost in the shouts and praises of three or four hundred of the congregation. Instead of rebuking this extraordinary ‘brawling,’ as I should have done in a former time, I joined in the outburst of praise, and to make it more orderly, I gave out the Doxology—’Praise God, from whom all blessings flow’—and the people sang it with heart and voice, over and over again. My Churchmen were dismayed, and many of them fled precipitately from the place. Still the voice of praise went on, and was swelled by numbers of passers-by, who came into the church, greatly surprised to hear and see what was going on. When this subsided, I found at least twenty people crying for mercy, whose voices had not been heard in the excitement and noise of thanksgiving. They all professed to find peace and joy in believing. Amongst this number there were three from my own house; and we returned home praising God. The news spread in all directions that ‘the parson was converted,’ and that by his own sermon, in his own pulpit too…. So clear and vivid was the conviction through which I passed, and so distinct was the light into which the Lord had brought me, that I knew and was sure that He had ‘brought me up out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a Rock, and put a new song into my mouth.’ He had ‘quickened’ me, who was before ‘dead in trespasses and sins.’… At the end of this great and eventful day of my life—my spiritual birthday, on which I passed from death to life by being “born from above”—I could scarcely sleep for joy.(6)

Simon Wenham is research coordinator for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Europe.

(1) S. Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents (New York, 1962), 21, in A. McGrath, Mere Apologetics (Grand Rapids, 2012), 167.

(2) C. S. Lewis, The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays (New York, 2022), 19.

(3) R. S. Baker and J. Sexton (eds.), Aldous Huxley Complete Essays, iv (Lanham, 2001), 369.

(4) C. Milosz, “The Discrete Charm of Nihilism”, in J. C. Lennox, Gunning for God (Oxford, 2011), 47.

(5) M. Lutz, God: A Brief History of the Greater One (Munich, 2007), in Lennox, Gunning, 46.

(6) W. Haslam, From Death Unto Life: Twenty Years of Ministry (Teddington, 2006), 42.

 

Alistair Begg – I Have Engraved You

Alistair Begg

Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.

Isaiah 49:16

No doubt part of the wonder that is concentrated in the word “Behold” is on account of the contrast with the unbelieving lament of the preceding sentence. Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.” How amazed the divine mind seems to be at this wicked unbelief!

What can be more astounding than the unfounded doubts and fears of God’s favored people? The Lord’s loving word of rebuke should make us blush.

He cries, “How can I have forgotten you, when I have engraved you on the palms of My hands? How dare you doubt My constant remembrance when the memorial is carved upon My own flesh?” O unbelief, what a strange marvel you are! We do not know what to wonder at most-the faithfulness of God or the unbelief of His people. He keeps His promise a thousand times, and yet the next trial makes us doubt Him.

He never fails; He is never a dry well; He is never as a setting sun, a passing meteor, or a melting vapor; and yet we are as continually troubled with anxieties, molested with suspicions, and disturbed with fears as if our God were a mirage of the desert.

“Behold” is a word intended to stir our admiration. Here, indeed, we have a theme for marveling. Heaven and earth may well be astonished that rebels should obtain such a closeness to the heart of infinite love as to be written on the palms of His hands. “I have engraved you.” It does not say, “your name.”

The name is there, but that is not all: “I have engraved you.” Consider the depth of this! “I have engraved your person, your image, your circumstances, your sins, your temptations, your weaknesses, your wants, your works; I have engraved you, everything about you, all that concerns you; I have put all of this together here.”

Will you ever say again that your God has forsaken you when He has engraved you on His own palms?

 

 

Charles Spurgeon – The Christian’s heaviness and rejoicing

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“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations.” 1 Peter 1:6

Suggested Further Reading: Philippians 2:25-30

“Though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness.” It does not say, “Though now for a season you are suffering pain, though now for a season you are poor”; but “you are in heaviness;” your spirits are taken away from you; you are made to weep; you cannot bear the pain; you are brought to the very dust of death, and wish that you might die. Your faith itself seems as if it would fail you. That is the thing for which there is a ‘need be’. That is what my text declares, that there is an absolute ‘need be’ that sometimes the Christian should not endure his sufferings with a gallant and a joyous heart; there is a ‘need be’ that sometimes his spirits should sink within him, and that he should become even as a little child, smitten beneath the hand of God. Ah! Beloved, we sometimes talk about the rod, but it is one thing to see the rod, and it is another thing to feel it; and many a time have we said within ourselves, “If I did not feel so low spirited as I now do, I should not mind this affliction;” and what is that but saying, “If I did not feel the rod I should not mind it?” It is that breaking down of the spirit, that pulling down of the strong man, that is the very festering of the soreness of God’s scourging—the blueness of the wound, whereby the soul is made better.

For meditation: Whenever you are overwhelmed by such distress, remember that your Saviour also experienced it on your behalf (Mark 14:33-34). He knows what it is like and can help you (Hebrews 2:18; 4:15-16).

Sermon no. 222

7 November (1858)

John MacArthur – Worshiping God His Way

John MacArthur

“By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain” (Heb 11:4)

At the heart of every false religion is the notion that man can come to God by any means he chooses–by meditating, doing good deeds, and so on. But Scripture says, “There is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). That name is Jesus Christ, and we come to Him by confessing and repenting of our sin, trusting in His atoning death on the cross, and affirming His bodily resurrection from the grave (cf. Rom. 10:9-10). There is no other way to God.

Centuries before Christ’s death, God provided a means of worship and sacrifice. Genesis 4:3-5 says, “It came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. And Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard.”

Apparently God had designated a special time for sacrificing because “in the course of time” (v. 3) literally means, “at the end of days”–at the end of a certain period of time. Additionally, He initiated a particular pattern for worship and sacrifices. Otherwise Cain and Abel would have known nothing about how it was to be done.

God required a blood offering for sin. Abel came in faith, acknowledged his sin, and made the appropriate sacrifice. His offering was better than Cain’s because Cain neglected the prescribed sacrifice, thereby demonstrating his unwillingness to submit to God and deal with his sin.

There was nothing intrinsically wrong with Cain’s offering. Grain, fruit, or vegetable offerings were included in the Mosaic covenant. But the sin offering had to come first. Like so many today, Cain wrongly assumed he could approach God on his own terms. In doing so he became the father of all false religions, and his name became synonymous with rebellion and apostasy (cf. Jude 11).

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank God for graciously providing salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

Be careful never to approach Him irreverently or presumptuously.

For Further Study:

Read Jude 11. How did Jude describe the false teachers of his day?

 

 

Joyce Meyer – Through Disappointments

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No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

—1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV

People will disappoint you. Life will disappoint you. Things will happen that you did not expect to happen, and you have to believe in the power of God and be able to say, “I can do whatever I need to do through Christ who strengthens me.” God will never allow more to come to us than we can bear, so it’s foolish to say, “I can’t stand this. I can’t do this.” We don’t always understand why, but we know God has His reasons, and we can get through it.

Nobody can keep you unhappy if you don’t want to be unhappy. Stop giving somebody else the responsibility for your joy. If you’ll start to do what you can do and stop worrying about what you can’t do, God can get involved and make some miraculous things happen in your life. I know that hurts are deep and painful, but we have to be very careful about just sitting in our boat and nursing our wounds for too long. There’s a time to grieve, and there’s a time you have to move on.

Lord, my joy is found in You, and I can’t rely upon others or life to bring me happiness. Help me to live in the strength You give. Amen.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – No Other Savior

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“There is salvation in no one else! Under all heaven there is no other name for men to call upon to save them” (Acts 4:12).

As a young sceptic, I had difficulty believing in the resurrection, for I could not believe in the supernatural. But as I became aware of the uniqueness of Jesus and of the different quality of life that was His, I was forced to reconsider the biblical claim to His resurrection.

Since it is a matter of historical fact that the tomb in which His dead body was placed was empty three days later, I set out to discover if the tomb could have been empty on any other basis than the biblical claim that He had been raised from the dead. In my research, I learned that there were three different theories explaining the empty tomb.

First, it was proposed that He was not really dead but had fainted from the loss of blood on the cross, and that He recovered in the cool of the tomb (this notion is today expounded by certain skeptics under the name of the “swoon theory”). Second, it was conceivable that Jesus’ body was stolen by His enemies; or third, that it was stolen by the disciples.

Experience and logic have forced me to discount all three of these theories as impossibilities. First, Jesus could never have moved the stone or escaped from the guards in His weakened condition. Second, Jesus’ enemies had no reason to steal His body since they did not want to give credence to a belief in His resurrection. Even if they had stolen the body, they could simply have produced it to discount the resurrection.

Third, the disciples who deserted Jesus at His trial and crucifixion were the same men who, having seen Him after His resurrection, spent the rest of their lives telling everyone who would listen, even at the cost of their own lives, that Jesus was alive. Ask yourself this question, “Would the disciples be willing to die as martyrs propagating a lie?”

Christianity alone has a living Savior; in Him alone is salvation.

Bible Reading: Romans 10:9-13

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Several times today, as the Holy Spirit prompts me, I will remember to thank God for the gift of His Son as my personal Savior and will tell someone else that Jesus is alive and wants to be his Savior, too

 

Presidential Prayer Team; G.C. – Movin’ on Up

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Movin’ on Up! Can you name that tune in three notes? Most Americans can identify the theme song to the 1970’s hit comedy “The Jeffersons” in three notes. Why would this simple ditty resonate so passionately when the show has been out of vogue for years? It probably has something to do with the lyrics. “Well we’re movin’ on up / To the east side / To a deluxe apartment in the sky / Movin’ on up / To the east side / We finally got a piece of the pie.”

But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient.

Romans 6:17

For many people enslaved to the trappings of sin – gossip, substance abuse, the love of money, or sexual inappropriateness – the first taste of the forgiveness of Christ is just like “moving on up” to the deluxe life, one previously thought out of reach. For the one set free, the natural response is gratitude and obedience…not born out of obligation, but from thankfulness for being moved out of hopelessness into blessing.

Take a moment today and reflect on the freedoms you have as an American, and the abundant life you have in Christ personally. Soon you, too, will be movin’ on up towards gratitude and obedience.

Recommended Reading: Luke 7:36-48

 

 

Greg Laurie – A Need-to-Know Basis

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The next morning a group of Jews got together and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. —Acts 23:12

There was something Paul didn’t know as he sat in prison in Jerusalem. More than forty men had taken an oath to not or eat or drink until they had killed Paul. Now, that is what you don’t want—a bunch of hungry men chasing you. Don’t ever deprive a man of food for too long.

Sometimes ignorance is bliss. Aren’t you glad that you don’t know everything? I am. I am glad that I don’t know the things God knows. Jesus would often blow the cover of the religious leaders and confront them about what they were thinking. He is God, and Jesus knew what was in their hearts.

Sometimes it is good that we don’t know what is coming, that we don’t know what is around the corner. We don’t know what kind of threats are aimed at us right now or even what is happening in the supernatural world. All kinds of things are going on that we have no clue about. But God is at work. God reveals to us as much as we need to know, when we need to know it—not necessarily more and certainly not less.

In the military they have a term they use for sensitive information: need to know. They will say, “This is on a need-to-know basis.” In the same way, if you need to know something, God will tell you. If you don’t, then He won’t.

C. H. Spurgeon said, “The Lord knows your troubles before they come to you; he anticipates them by his tender foresight.”

If you are feeling lonely, if you are feeling hurt, if you are feeling betrayed or abandoned, or if you are feeling physical pain, know that Christ has been there. And He knows what is ahead of you as well.