Tag Archives: christianity

Charles Stanley – How to Be Encouraged

 

Psalm 139:7-10

Most of us yearn to walk through life with a sense of confidence and assurance. But see if the following scenario ever describes you: At the end of your day or week, you feel worn out and depleted. Your nerves are frazzled—you seem to be in a season of trials, trudging through valleys, water, and fire. You know Scripture says the Lord has omniscience and uses all things for His good purposes, but feelings of isolation and discouragement leave you wondering if He’s even aware of the situation.

If that sounds familiar, then you need this reminder: You do not journey through this life alone. Our loving heavenly Father is and has been with each believer every single day. He travels with us side by side and hand in hand. We are walking in the presence of the living God, whose Spirit abides with us and is in us (John 14:16-17).

No matter what season of life you are in—no matter how long, short, painful, or easy it might be—God wants you to know you are never alone. He is with you always (Matt. 28:20). Allow yourself to be encouraged by that truth.

David reflected on this reassurance in Psalm 139—he realized that no matter where we might go, the Lord is right there with us. We are never beyond the reach of a God who is full of lovingkindness, mercy, and comfort (1 Chron. 16:34; 2 Cor. 1:3).

Friend, remember that God is faithful and omnipresent. You have a partner in this life—a friend that sticks closer than a brother (Prov. 18:24), and He will never leave or forsake you, on this day or any other. Have a wonderful time walking with Him today.

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.

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!

Charles Stanley – Encouragement for All Seasons

Deuteronomy 7:7-9

Spring, summer, fall, and winter—these are the seasons of the year. Life also has its seasons. Some are filled with joy, while others are characterized by difficulty. Take comfort because there is a principle from the Bible that can encourage and sustain you through every season: Our God is faithful.

We learn about this attribute of the Lord from passages like 1 Corinthians 1:9, where Paul says, “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” To say that God is faithful means He always does exactly what He says He will do.

How reassuring it is to know that He will keep His promises to His children and never leave their side, whatever “season” of life they are in. No matter how deep, how dark, how depressing, how hopeless, or how good things may seem, the child of God can count on the Father’s abiding presence.

So regardless of your present trials or triumphs, embrace these three truths:

1. God will be faithful to you because it is His very nature (Ps. 36:5).

2. God knows all about your situation; you are never alone in any season of life (Ps. 139:7-12).

3. God is omnipotent, so He has the power to meet every single need, and He knows how to move you through the various seasons of your life (Rom. 8:28).

Hold onto this fact: You will change and seasons will change, but our wonderful God is always the same. That means He won’t fail you, He won’t waver on you, and He won’t vary—you can fully rely on Him. And He will never forget about you; He is with you always. Great is His faithfulness!

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Opposite of Presence

 

In a poem titled “Moments of Joy” Denise Levertov tells the story of an old scholar who takes a room on the next street down from his grown children—”the better to concentrate on his unending work, his word, his world.” And though he comes and goes while they sleep, his children feel bereft. They want him nearer. But at times it happens that a son or daughter wakes in the dark and finds him sitting at the foot of the bed, or in the old rocker—”sleepless in his old coat, gazing into invisible distance, but clearly there to protect as he had always done.” The child springs up and flings her arms about him, pressing a cheek to his temple and taking him by surprise: “Abba!” the child exclaims, and Levertov concludes:

“And the old scholar, the father,

is deeply glad to be found.

That’s how it is, Lord, sometimes;

You seek, and I find.”(1)

Though many would like to say that the majority of our lives have been spent searching for God, perhaps it is more accurate to say that we have been sought.  Even so, like the children in Levertov’s poem, time and again I know I find myself bereft of God’s presence. Sometimes it just feels like I am sitting in the dark.

One of my seminary professors once told me that God’s presence is not the opposite of God’s absence. At first glance this didn’t seem the least bit encouraging. And yet, maybe I have seen this notion lived out after all. For even when I am most stirred by God’s nearness—when God’s presence seems an undeniable truth—am I not also simultaneously stung by the ache of longing to be nearer or the reality of not quite yet being at home? Even in our best encounters with God, presence and absence remain intertwined. What might this then mean for the moments when I am feeling tormented by God’s absence?

The Christian Scriptures seem to suggest of the dark what children learn of their parents. Namely, the dark does not imply the absence of a caring person. “Though an army besiege me,” says David, “my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident” (Psalm 27:3). David’s confidence was not in the absence of darkness, but in the knowledge of the one who watched over him in the dark. “I am still confident of this,” he concludes. “I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living” (v. 13).

Though we might struggle when God seems far off, perhaps it need not be without hope. When the land was dark with the death of Christ weighing on its shoulders, God exhaustively sought despairing hearts in the thick of that darkness. And the risen Christ is still today the certainty of God’s nearness and the promise of his care in the dark. “Thus,” writes Os Guinness, “Christians do not say to God, ‘I do not understand you at all, but I trust you anyway.’ That would be suicidal. Rather, they say, ‘Father, I do not understand you, but I trust you’—or more accurately, ‘I do not understand you in this situation, but I understand why I trust you anyway.’ It is therefore reasonable to trust even when we do not understand. We may be in the dark about what God is doing, but we are not in the dark about God.”(2)

Perhaps you have spent much of life bewailing the one who stood silent as you cried, disoriented in the dark and desperately reaching for something to make it better. What if God was there all along? Maybe there is reason to be awed by the God who says, “Follow me!” and expects us to trust that we won’t be left or forsaken. Maybe we should fear this one who won’t let go, whose persistence we might even find exhausting and whose faith in us we find terrifying. Maybe there is reason to be humbled by the God who refuses to leave despite the words we shout in unawareness and our unrelenting waywardness. And perhaps we do better to marvel at the God whose hand we can see clearly through the blinding pain of life. Though uncertainty may surround us and the darkness bid us to see that no Father is there, perhaps we can trust Him nonetheless.

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

(1)Denise Levertov, This Great Unknowing: Last Poems (New York: New Directions, 1999), 60.

(2) Os Guinness, Unspeakable (New York: Harper Collins, 2005), 150.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – We Need the Word

 

“And you will need the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit – which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).

In my own life, as I have come to know God better and to live more fully in the power and control of the Holy Spirit, my daily devotional Bible reading and study is not a duty or a chore, but a blessing; not an imposition on my time, but an invitation to fellowship in the closest of all ways with our holy, heavenly Father and our wonderful Savior and Lord.

Remember, God delights to have fellowship with us. The success of our studying God’s Word and of prayer is not to be determined by some emotional experience which we may have (though this frequently will be our experience), but by the realization that God is pleased that we want to know Him enough to spend time with Him in Bible study and prayer.

Here are some important, practical suggestions for your individual devotional reading and study of the Bible:

Begin with a prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you an understanding of God’s Word.

Keep a Bible study notebook.

Read the text slowly and carefully; then reread and take notes.

Find out the true meaning of the text. Ask yourself:

(a) Who or what is the main subject?

(b) Of whom or what is the writer speaking?

(c) What is the key verse?

(d) What does the passage teach you about Jesus Christ?

(e) Does it bring to light personal sin that you need to confess and forsake?

(f) Does it contain a command for you to obey?

(g) Does it give a promise you can claim?

List practical applications, commands, promises.

Memorize the Scriptures – particularly key verses.

Obey the commands and follow the instructions you learn in God’s Word.

Bible Reading: II Timothy 3:14-17

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  With His help, I will begin to make time in God’s Word – quality time – a priority in my life.

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.

Joyce Meyer – Be a Risk Taker

He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he gained five talents more. And likewise he who had received the two talents—he also gained two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. —Matthew 25:16–18

When Jim Burke became the head of a new products division at Johnson & Johnson, one of his first projects was the development of a children’s chest rub. The product failed miserably, and Burke expected that he would be fired. When he was called in to see the chairman of the board, however, he was met with a surprising reception.

“Are you the one who just cost us all that money?” asked Robert Wood Johnson. “Well, I just want to congratulate you. If you are making mistakes, that means you are taking risks, and we won’t grow unless you take risks.” Some years later, when Burke himself became chairman of Johnson & Johnson, he continued to spread that word.

Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. You will never succeed without making mistakes and possibly many of them. Making mistakes is something we do as human beings, but we are still God’s children, and He has a good plan for our lives. He is long-suffering, plenteous in mercy, and filled with loving kindness.

Lord, help me to use the talents You have given me and to not be afraid of making mistakes. Give me wisdom on how to be the best I can be for You. Amen.

Charles Stanley – God Calls in Various Ways

 

1 Samuel 3:1-21

When you hear the phrase “call of God,” what comes to mind? Many people assume it refers only to God’s call upon the lives of professional ministers. This could not be further from truth. The Lord issues no fewer than four specific calls to every single believer.

First, we are given the call to salvation. This is how God establishes a personal relationship with us. Today’s passage shows the poignant way in which God introduced Himself to young Samuel. He also reveals Himself to each of us in the wonders of nature all around us (Rom. 1:20).

Second, all believers experience the call to sanctification (Lev. 11:44). This is the Father summoning His children to experience godly living. Sanctification can be defined as being set apart—or made holy—for the purposes of God.

Third, every Christian receives the call to service. Scripture clearly reminds us that all believers—not just pastors and full-time missionaries—are called to serve the body of Christ and to spread the good news of salvation; each of us was “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand for us to do” (Eph. 2:10). This means we all have specific and important tasks to accomplish.

Fourth, we all have the call to account- ability. The Bible teaches that each of us will one day stand before our Lord and give an account of our life. This is not something to fear if we are presently seeking to walk in His ways. Rather, it will be a time of great reward and rejoicing.

Make no mistake—our loving Father still speaks to His people. As you read His Word today, ask Him to make His call in your life clear.

Presidential Prayer Team; H.R. – Astounding

 

People were in shock after the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986. Then-President Reagan consoled Americans with these words: “The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved good-bye and slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.”

I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name “The Lord.” Exodus 33:19

In today’s verse, Moses saw God but was not permitted to see His face. Randy Alcorn, author of Heaven, writes: “To see God’s face was utterly unthinkable. That’s why when we’re told in Revelation 22:4 that we’ll see God’s face, it should astound us.”

If you know Jesus Christ personally, you have the hope you will one day be in God’s presence and see Him face to face. Ask God for opportunities to share that hope with others so they may experience that astounding joy. Then pray that the nation’s leaders, especially President Obama and his cabinet members, would seek God in their personal and public decisions.

Recommended Reading: Psalm 27:4-14

Charles Stanley – Prayer: A Great Privilege

Charles Stanley

1 John 5:14-15

One question reverberates through the heart of nearly all Christians at some point in their faith walk: If God knows everything about me, why do I need to pray to have my needs met? The Lord has specific reasons for not using His omnipotence to respond to certain desires and hurts unless we share those things with Him.

God encourages us to pray in order to build an intimate personal relationship between Himself and us. He is interested in much more than meeting our needs; He also wants to become our source of strength in every trial. We know from experience that developing any friendship takes a commitment of time. Quick three-minute prayers—though valuable and important for maintaining continuous “fragrant incense” before God—are not enough to sustain a personal connection with our Father.

James 1:17 says, “Every good gift . . . is from above” (niv). The Lord wants us to acknowledge Him as the source of all our blessings. Directing our prayers toward God and trusting that they will be answered in His will and timing strengthens our awareness that without Him, we can achieve nothing. In the Christian life, our dependence upon God grows in direct proportion to our spiritual maturity. Such a concept runs contrary to our nature and culture, which prizes independence above all else.

We are privileged to belong to a God who desires a Father-child relationship with us. He could certainly meet our needs without a single word from us, but then we would never know the wonder of asking and receiving in love.

Our Daily Bread – Our Daily Bread — Cape Tribulation

 

James 1:1-8

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. —James 1:2-3

On June 10, 1770, British navigator James Cook’s ship hit a reef off the northeast coast of Australia. He sailed the ship out into deeper water only to hit the reef again, and this time the collision almost sank the ship. This experience moved Cook to write in the ship’s log: “The north point [was named] Cape Tribulation because here began all our troubles.”

Many of us have experienced a trial that has seemed to trigger a string of other trials. The loss of a job, the death of a loved one, an unwanted divorce, or a decline in health could all be part of the list.

Even though a crisis may seem to be our “Cape Tribulation,” God is still sovereign and He most certainly is in control. It is His purpose to use tribulation to build resilience into us. James writes: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1:2-3). The word translated “patience” means to have staying power or the ability to endure.

In the midst of your life-changing trial, remember that God is still at work. He wants to use your “Cape Tribulation” experience to build your character. He has promised His grace to see you through (2 Cor. 12:9). —Dennis Fisher

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,

He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;

To added affliction He addeth His mercy,

To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

—Annie Johnson Flint. © Renewal 1969. Lillenas Publishing

Faith grows best in the winter of trial. —Rutherford

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Ancient Wisdom for Good Living

 

“What is the good life?” is a question as old as philosophy itself. In fact, it is the question that birthed philosophy as we know it.(1) Posed by ancient Greek thinkers and incorporated into the thought of Socrates through Plato, and then Aristotle, this question gets at the heart of human meaning and purpose. Why are we here, and since we are here, what are we to be doing? What is our meaning and purpose?

Out of the early Greek quest for the answer emerged two schools of thought. From Plato emerged rationalism: the good life consists of ascertaining unchanging ideals—justice, truth, goodness, beauty—those “forms” found in the ideal world. From Aristotle emerged empiricism: the good life consists of ascertaining knowledge through experience—what we can perceive of this world through our senses.(2)

For both Aristotle and Plato, rational thought used in contemplation of ideas is the substance of the good life. Despite the obvious emphasis by both on goodness emerging from the contemplative life of the mind (even though they disagreed on the source of rationality) both philosophers saw the good life as impacting and benefiting society. For Plato, society must emulate justice, truth, goodness, and beauty, so he constructs an ideal society. For Aristotle, virtue lived out in society is the substance of the good life, and well-being arises from well-doing.

Not long ago, I conducted an internet search on the tag “What is the good life?” and I was amazed at what came up as the top results of my search. Most of the entries involved shopping or consumption of one variety or another. Some entries were on locations to live, and still others involved self-help books or other media aimed at helping one construct a good life. Others were the names of stores selling goods to promote “the good life.” There were no immediate entries on Plato, Aristotle, or the philosophical quest that they helped inaugurate. There were no results on wisdom or the quest for knowledge lived out in a virtuous life. Instead, most of the entries involved material pursuits and gains. Sadly, this reflects our modern definition of what is good.

Perhaps, what are for many individuals still very trying economic times, it is difficult not to equate material items with the good life, more money, more security, or more opportunity. While it has always been said of every generation that these are times of great crisis and upheaval, we feel this search for meaning anew and afresh today, and perhaps wonder at the practicality or wisdom of looking to the past for insight or understanding into the good life.

And yet, the ancients remind us that “not even when one has an abundance does one’s life consist of possessions” (Luke 12:15). Abundant or meager as they may be, possessions must not make up the substance of one’s life. Instead, their proper use necessarily involves right living in community. Perhaps the ancient Hebraic wisdom is particularly instructive in a time in which we might equate goodness with what we possess. “He has told you, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8) This vision of the good life, cast not when times were good, but during a time when calamity and exile awaited the nation of Israel offers an alternative understanding. Do justice, love kindness, and live out both of those virtues in light of humility before God; this is what is good and is the ground of the good life.

The wisdom of the ancients, from the Greeks and the Hebrews, suggests that the good life can be attained regardless of circumstance or possession. It shimmers in the wisdom of justice and kindness. It is found in the application of knowledge rightly applied in relationship to the world around us. It shines in humility before the God who is good, and is part and parcel of a relationship with that God. The good life is not bought or sold; it is not a prime real estate location, or a formula for success. The good life is our life offered to God and to others in justice, kindness, and humility.

Margaret Manning is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Seattle, Washington.

(1) A.L. Herman, The Ways of Philosophy: Searching for a Worthwhile Life (Scholars Press: Atlanta, 1990), 1.

(2) Ibid, 82.

Alistair Begg – Precious Blood!

 

The precious blood of Christ.

1 Peter 1:19

Standing at the foot of the cross, we see hands and feet and side all distilling crimson streams of “precious blood.” It is “precious” because of its redeeming and atoning efficacy. By it the sins of Christ’s people are atoned for; they are redeemed from under the law; they are reconciled to God, made one with Him.

Christ’s blood is also “precious” in its cleansing power; it cleanses from all sin. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” Through Jesus’ blood there is not a spot left upon any believer; no wrinkle nor any such thing remains. O precious blood that makes us clean, removing the stains of our iniquity and permitting us to stand accepted in the Beloved despite the many ways in which we have rebelled against our God.

The blood of Christ is also “precious” in its preserving power. We are safe from the destroying angel under the sprinkled blood. Remember, it is God’s seeing the blood that is the true reason for our being spared. Here is comfort for us when the eye of faith is dim, for God’s eye is still the same. The blood of Christ is “precious” also in its sanctifying influence.

The same blood that justifies by taking away sin also quickens the new nature and leads it onward to subdue sin and to obey the commands of God. There is no greater motive for holiness than that which streams from the veins of Jesus. And “precious,” unspeakably precious, is this blood because it has an overcoming power. It is written, “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb.” How could they do otherwise? He who fights with the precious blood of Jesus fights with a weapon that cannot know defeat.

The blood of Jesus! Sin dies at its presence; death ceases to be death: Heaven’s gates are opened. The blood of Jesus! We shall march on, conquering and to conquer, so long as we can trust its power!

Charles Spurgeon – Christ—our substitute

 

“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

Suggested Further Reading: Isaiah 53:10-12

In no sense is he ever a guilty man, but always is he an accepted and a holy one. What, then, is the meaning of that very forcible expression of my text? We must interpret Scriptural modes of expression by the words of the speakers. We know that our Master once said himself, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood;” he did not mean that the cup was the covenant. He said, “Take, eat, this is my body”—none of us conceives that the bread is the literal flesh and blood of Christ. We take that bread as if it were the body, and it actually represents it. Now, we are to read a passage like this, according to the analogy of faith. Jesus Christ was made by his Father sin for us, that is, he was treated as if he had himself been sin. He was not sin; he was not sinful; he was not guilty; but, he was treated by his Father, as if he had not only been sinful, but as if he had been sin itself. That is a strong expression used here. Not only has he made him to be the substitute for sin, but to be sin. God looked on Christ as if Christ had been sin; not as if he had taken up the sins of his people, or as if they were laid on him, though that were true, but as if he himself had positively been that noxious—that God-hating—that soul-damning thing, called sin. When the judge of all the earth said, “Where is sin?” Christ presented himself. He stood before his Father as if he had been the accumulation of all human guilt; as if he himself were that thing which God cannot endure, but which he must drive from his presence for ever.

For meditation: God regarded Christ crucified just as if he were sin, not Son. The substitutionary atonement is the key which enables the Christian to make use of the description “Just as if I’d never sinned.”

Sermon no. 310

16 April (Preached 15 April 1860)

John MacArthur – Commended or Condemned?

 

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matt. 5:7).

Scripture shows that those whom God blessed most abundantly were abundantly merciful to others. Abraham, for example, helped rescue his nephew Lot even after Lot had wronged him. Joseph was merciful to his brothers after they sold him into slavery. Twice David spared Saul’s life after Saul tried to kill him.

But just as sure as God’s commendation is upon those who show mercy, His condemnation is upon those who are merciless. Psalm 109:14-16 says, “Let the iniquity of [the merciless person’s] fathers be remembered before the Lord, and do not let the sin of his mother be blotted out . . . because he did not remember to show [mercy].”

When judgment comes, the Lord will tell such people, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me” (Matt. 25:41-43). They will respond, “Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?” (v. 44). He will reply that when they withheld mercy from those who represented Him, they were withholding it from Him (v. 45).

Our society encourages us to grab everything we can for ourselves, but God wants us to reach out and give everything we can to others. If someone wrongs you, fails to repay a debt, or doesn’t return something he has borrowed from you, be merciful to him. That doesn’t mean you excuse sin, but you respond to people with a heart of compassion. That’s what Christ did for you–can you do any less for others?

Suggestions for Prayer:

If there is someone who has wronged you, pray for that person, asking God to give you a heart of compassion for him or her. Make every effort to reconcile as soon as possible.

For Further Study:

Read Romans 1:29-31. How did Paul characterize the ungodly?

Joyce Meyer – Be a Blessing

 

You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You. —Isaiah 26:3

Galatians 6:10 says, “Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith.” Second Corinthians 10:5 speaks of casting down imaginations and every high and lofty thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. In other words, keep (set) your mind on God’s promises and on what is relevant to His plan for your life.

Don’t let your mind be taken captive by the enemy. Instead, “lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ.” Decide to be a blessing to everyone you meet today. Forgive anyone who has hurt you, and leave unresolved circumstances in God’s hands. Don’t use today to relive yesterday. Say, “I am moving forward today, in Jesus’ name.”

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – A Healthy, Growing Body

 

“Instead, we will lovingly follow the truth at all times – speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly – and so become more and more in every way like Christ who is the Head of His body, the church. Under His direction the whole body is fitted together perfectly, and each part in its own special way helps the other parts, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love” (Ephesians 4:15-16).

I am concerned, as you no doubt are, that God’s ideal church, in which the whole body is fitted together perfectly, becomes a reality. And if that is to happen, it will mean that I must become a part of that perfect fit.

Within the body of Christ, each of us has a unique function. True, two people might have similar functions just as a body has two hands that function similarly. But those two hands are not identical. Just try to wear a lefthand glove on your right hand!

The hands have similar functions, not identical functions. You and I might have similar abilities, but we are not identical. We are unique creations of God.

Therefore, we should not look upon our abilities with pride or be boastful of them. On the other hand, we should not be envious or look with disdain on others because of their different abilities.

Spiritual gifts include (1 Corinthians 12): wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues, apostleship, teaching, helping, and administration; (Romans 12, additional): leadership, exhortation, giving and mercy.

Bible Reading: Ephesians 4:7-14

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  So that I might fit more perfectly into God’s whole body, I will prayerfully seek the leadership of the Holy Spirit to enable me to make a maximum contribution to the body of Christ.

Presidential Prayer Team; P.G. – Prayer Bumps

 

You’re smoothly motoring along, being only moderately attentive, enjoying the beauty of the drive, when you hit it – a speed bump. You’re momentarily jarred by the impact, and your forward motion is impeded. You pay more attention as you proceed.

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling.

I Timothy 2:8

Sometimes the Christian life is like that. You’re enjoying the beauty of time spent with the Lord in prayer, feel you’re moving forward in your relationships with Him and other people, and then along comes an unexpected spiritual prayer bump. Two of them are posted in today’s verse: anger and quarreling.

You have a choice to make. You can keep going as you were, allowing your spiritual life to slow down, maybe even come to an abrupt stop. Or you can pay more attention to your relationships with God and others, adjusting as you journey on. Confess to the Father what impedes you. Then work to smooth the road with the person you’ve quarreled with or held anger toward. Putting it off only guarantees more prayer bumps ahead.

Intercede, too, for those in positions of authority whose roads are bumpy from political anger and partisan quarreling. They, too, need the hope of a smoother road ahead in Christ Jesus.

Recommended Reading: I Timothy 2:1-8