Tag Archives: christianity

Whom is the Wisest – Bro Bo in Hawaii

Psalm 19:1 (KJ21) The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handiwork.

Romans 11:33 (KJ21) O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!

Just as God is the all knowing, the creator of everything. We, ones who were created by the creator know nothing, in comparison.

It is hard to admit, our pride is such that we feel we are the smartest, but when you stop to really think about it; you know the scriptures are right.

All the best minds Mankind has produced has just left us falling way short of God’s level. The Fredrich Nietzches and Michel Foucaults of the world have no real answers. Nietzsche ended his life in a mental ward and Foucault ended his life in misery and disgrace. Before dying of AIDS, he knowingly gave all his partners the disease so they too could experience his answer to life.  Which I will quote here – “ Every trace of ourselves that is shaped by others must be destroyed: our political, cultural, and sexual identities, our notion of right and wrong, sanity and madness, even what is true and false, all must vanish.” 1

When highly educated men can provide  no satisfactory answers to life’s fundamental questions, those that learn from them are severely handicapped in trying to be educated.
Because when you have a populace educated on a diet of Secularism they are not prepared for life and certainly not ready to teach their children. Still to this day some of the bestsellers at bookstores at major campuses across the country are by Nietzches and Foucaults.
Paul addressed the great Greek thinkers of His day;
1st Cor 1:20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe.

Our challenge is to seek out God’s Wisdom that is in this world and learn from it. Use the tools of the times; The Internet with our Blogs and WEBsites. Identify the truth and question everything; test what you read with the fiery furnace of the Bible. We must also be aware of the worldly wisdom that is in opposition to us today, to combat it and stand against it.

Remember to be Wise men who know the times  (Jan 10 Dev.) and to know where the Wisdom comes from…God.

Peace be to you all from Bro Bo in Hawaii

– Life is a long journey but we all end up before the same God in Heaven, What will He say to you?

1.) Arthur Herman, The Idea of Decline in western history New York – Free Press 1997

Walking Away from God – Charles Stanley

 

Luke 15:20-32

Like the father of the prodigal son, our heavenly Father will not force us to remain with Him. If we ignore His guiding Holy Spirit and insist on following an ungodly path, He’ll let us go our own way. Examining the parable, we learn what happens if we move outside of God’s plan.

• Our fellowship with the Father is significantly affected. The wayward son was no longer in close contact with his dad; their relationship was not as important to him as it had been. If we wander and make ourselves higher priority than the Lord, we will also experience a disconnect with our heavenly Father. As Christians, we cannot move off God’s chosen path without first closing our mind and heart to His truth and His call on our lives.

• Our resources—time, talent, and treasure—are wasted. The son squandered his money on frivolous things and ended up worse off than the laborers at his father’s house. God has bestowed spiritual gifts and material resources to build His kingdom, and He’s also provided His Spirit to offer guidance. Pursuing our own plan wastes what He has given us.

• Our deepest needs go unmet. Chasing after dreams that are outside of the Lord’s purposes will lead to discontent. Only in Christ can we find true fulfillment.

A great weariness will overtake us if we live apart from God. Poor choices can result in lifelong regrets, but they don’t have to dictate our future. The heavenly Father will welcome us with great joy and love when we repent and turn back to Him. Have you wandered away? He’s waiting for you.

The Best Intentions – Ravi Zacharias Ministries

 

How far can we get on good intentions? According to one survey conducted among a diverse group of men and women, thirty percent of those who make New Year’s resolutions admit not keeping them into February. Just one in five continues his or her resolution for six months or more. Apparently, we don’t get very far.

We meet life with intentions to succeed, intentions to be a good person, intentions to live life to the fullest. Yet however many ways we might interpret success, goodness, or full-living, our good intentions have certain aspects in common: the hope to improve, the idea of becoming something more than what we are at the moment, the expectation that one should reach his or her potential. It is as if there is an image implanted in our minds that upholds the idea of something we could be or might be—some even use the language of even being meant to be. But there is all too often a tragic side to best intentions. When they are not fully realized, there is usually a sense that it is we who have gotten in the way.

Great minds from Augustine to G.K. Chesterton saw clearly that the most verifiable truth of the Christian worldview is certainly the depravity of humanity. It can be observed across countries and languages, at any time and within every decade, from barbaric accounts of depravity in far away places to more accepted forms of depravity close at home. We close our eyes to reality where we refuse to see the same story repeating itself again and again. We might euphemize the thought of sin into neurotic myth, outdated opinion, or church propaganda, but it has not been euthanized. Observe for a short time at any playground and you will note quickly amongst even the youngest that something is amiss. If we were to truly observe our hearts, motives, and wills, we would hardly find them good and consistent leaders to follow.

The Christian worldview recognizes the recurring story of a disappointed and disappointing humanity. Not only do we miss our own intentions, we miss the intention of one we faintly recognize within us; we sense in our createdness the greater mark and glory of the creator disappointingly out of reach. The one who spoke to the dejected Eve in the Garden of Eden and to the defiant David through the prophet Nathan is the present one beside whom we, too, stand in contrast. We can step no closer to that standard by our own intentions than a foolish king can order the stars to bow before him. To look at the Son is to find that even our best intentions are made of straw.

Yet looking at Christ, we not only see our humanity beside a perfect human, we find this perfect human moving toward us in mercy, giving us a bigger picture of the good and the fullest, and ushering us into the possibility of holding more than we ever imagined. Where we are honest about our limits and shortfalls, we can truly grasp the beauty of Jesus and the unimaginable depth of a Father’s love. It is in Christ where we find that God moves the blur of sin to give us the picture of all God intended. And here, we find the Christian worldview not only coherently offers the diagnosis, but also the cure.

The late Christian songwriter Rich Mullins alluded to the bigger pictures of God when he observed of his own life: “What I’d have settled for/ You’ve blown so far away/ What You brought me to/ I thought I could not reach.” In the intentions of God, we find that where we would have settled, where we would have been content with success or goodness, the Father moves us far beyond. Where we would have fallen beyond reach, the Son took our place. “God who is mighty,” proclaims the psalmist, “has done great things for me.” In the coming of this New Year, might we recognize a similar story in our own lives.

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

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning  “These have no root.” / Luke 8:13

My soul, examine thyself this morning by the light of this text. Thou hast

received the word with joy; thy feelings have been stirred and a lively

impression has been made; but, remember, that to receive the word in the ear

is one thing, and to receive Jesus into thy very soul is quite another;

superficial feeling is often joined to inward hardness of heart, and a lively

impression of the word is not always a lasting one. In the parable, the seed

in one case fell upon ground having a rocky bottom, covered over with a thin

layer of earth; when the seed began to take root, its downward growth was

hindered by the hard stone and therefore it spent its strength in pushing its

green shoot aloft as high as it could, but having no inward moisture derived

from root nourishment, it withered away. Is this my case? Have I been making a

fair show in the flesh without having a corresponding inner life? Good growth

takes place upwards and downwards at the same time. Am I rooted in sincere

fidelity and love to Jesus? If my heart remains unsoftened and unfertilized by

grace, the good seed may germinate for a season, but it must ultimately

wither, for it cannot flourish on a rocky, unbroken, unsanctified heart. Let

me dread a godliness as rapid in growth and as wanting in endurance as Jonah’s

gourd; let me count the cost of being a follower of Jesus, above all let me

feel the energy of his Holy Spirit, and then I shall possess an abiding and

enduring seed in my soul. If my mind remains as obdurate as it was by nature,

the sun of trial will scorch, and my hard heart will help to cast the heat the

more terribly upon the ill-covered seed, and my religion will soon die, and my

despair will be terrible; therefore, O heavenly Sower, plough me first, and

then cast the truth into me, and let me yield thee a bounteous harvest.

 

Evening  “I have prayed for thee.” / Luke 22:32

How encouraging is the thought of the Redeemer’s never- ceasing intercession

for us. When we pray, he pleads for us; and when we are not praying, he is

advocating our cause, and by his supplications shielding us from unseen

dangers. Notice the word of comfort addressed to Peter–“Simon, Simon, Satan

hath desired to have you that he may sift you as wheat; but”–what? “But go

and pray for yourself.” That would be good advice, but it is not so written.

Neither does he say, “But I will keep you watchful, and so you shall be

preserved.” That were a great blessing. No, it is, “But I have prayed for

thee, that thy faith fail not.” We little know what we owe to our Saviour’s

prayers. When we reach the hill-tops of heaven, and look back upon all the way

whereby the Lord our God hath led us, how we shall praise him who, before the

eternal throne, undid the mischief which Satan was doing upon earth. How shall

we thank him because he never held his peace, but day and night pointed to the

wounds upon his hands, and carried our names upon his breastplate! Even before

Satan had begun to tempt, Jesus had forestalled him and entered a plea in

heaven. Mercy outruns malice. Mark, he does not say, “Satan hath desired to

have you.” He checks Satan even in his very desire, and nips it in the bud. He

does not say, “But I have desired to pray for you.” No, but “I have prayed for

you: I have done it already; I have gone to court and entered a counterplea

even before an accusation is made.” O Jesus, what a comfort it is that thou

hast pleaded our cause against our unseen enemies; countermined their mines,

and unmasked their ambushes. Here is a matter for joy, gratitude, hope, and

confidence.

 

The Slavery That Frees – John MacArthur

 

God exalted Christ “and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23).

Here Paul uses a graphic analogy to illustrate the relationship of Christ to the church: He is the head; believers are His body. Paul elaborates that we’re to hold “fast to the head [Christ], from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God” (Col. 2:19; cf. Eph. 4:15-16).

Just as the head controls the human body, so Christ governs His Body, the church (cf. 1 Cor. 12:12-31). By His Spirit and His Word He supplies all the resources the church needs to function to His glory. In that way He guarantees that His purposes will be fulfilled.

The church is in fact “the fulness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:23). The implication is that the incomprehensible, all-sufficient, all-powerful, and utterly supreme Christ is in a sense incomplete–not in His nature, but in the degree to which His glory is seen in the world.

A synonym for “fulness” is “complement.” The church was designed to complement Christ. He is the One who fills all in all”–the fullness of deity in bodily form (Col. 2:9) and the giver of truth and grace (John 1:16). Yet He chooses to reveal His glory in and through the church. Therefore, until the church is fully glorified, Christ will not be fully complemented.

Does your life complement Christ? Do you “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect” (Titus 2:10)? Do you “let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16)? You have every spiritual resource to do so, so don’t let anything hold you back (Heb. 12:1-2)!

Suggestions for Prayer: Read Psalm 139:23-24 and pray with David that God will search your heart and reveal any sin that might hinder you from complementing Christ today.

For Further Study: Read 1 Corinthians 12:1-30

What spiritual gifts are mentioned in this passage?

How does Paul deal with the misconception that some gifts are more important than others (see vv. 14-30)?

As a member of Christ’s Body, you are gifted by the Spirit to minister to others. Are you doing so?

Don’t Waste Your Pain – Greg Laurie

 

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.—2 Corinthians 1:3–4

Personal adversity and suffering give us a new compassion for others who are in pain. Someone who has suffered can minister with great compassion to another person who is experiencing the same kind of adversity.

I believe the most effective person to minister to someone who has been diagnosed with cancer is a cancer survivor, because he or she can say, “I know what you are going through. I know what it is like to hear that news. Let me tell you what I did. Let me tell you how I have gotten through this.”

A person with a disability can minister more effectively to another person with a disability than someone who doesn’t have one at all. They can say, “I, too, struggle. I, too, have to deal with this. But let me share with you how God has helped me.”

A person who has lost a loved one often can minister more effectively to someone else who has lost a loved one. They know what it is like.

The apostle Paul wrote that God “comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:4–5).

Don’t waste your pain. If you have gone through hardship, if you have gone through adversity or are going through difficulty, God can use you to help someone else. God can open up your heart and give you opportunities to minister to people in ways you never have had before.

This is one of the things that suffering can bring about in a person’s life. And nothing ever happens accidentally to a child of God.

Wise men who knew the times – Bro Bo in Hawaii

 

1 Chronicles 12:32 (KJ21)  And of the children of Issachar, who were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their command.

Esther 1:13 (KJ21) Then the king said to the wise men who knew the times (for so was the king’s manner toward all who knew law and judgment;

These Scriptures give notice to the fact that the people being talked about knew what was going on around them. They were not deceived by popular current news stories or mislead by gossip and rumor that is present at all times in history.

Wouldn’t you like to be known as one of these? Trusted men who understand their times.

What this really means is that we need to know what is going on around us, just like in King David’s time or with Esther, there will be confusing and misleading news and information. There will always be bad news, false reports and people’s opinions. So the question becomes can you tell the difference between the truth and the lies?

This will be what sets you apart to become one of the Trusted Men, One who can cut through all the crap and give good answers and advice. More than ever there are so many lost and desperate people in this world looking for answers. Family, friends and neighbors all around you need to hear the truth.

Whatever method works best for you, use it. Look at where you get your news and information from and always question the sources. Challenge what you see and hear and compare everything to the Word of God and use the Bible to establish the cornerstones of your faith.

Find reliable sources of Biblical based information on the Internet and visit the sites daily.

Pray and ask for Wisdom and use what you learn every day to grow into the person God wants you to be.

Peace be to you all from Bro Bo in Hawaii

– Life is a long journey but we all end up before the same God in Heaven, What will He say to you?

Our Riches in Christ – Charles Stanley

 

Philippians 4:19-20

As believers, we are truly wealthy because of the riches and grace that are ours in Christ. We have been chosen, redeemed, justified, united with God, and made citizens of heaven. But there is even more to include on our list.

Jesus told the disciples that His departure was necessary: it would actually benefit His followers, as He could then send the third member of the Trinity to indwell each believer (John 16:7). Upon salvation, we are given the Holy Spirit, who seals us as God’s children, comforts us in our pain, and teaches us how to live righteously.

Through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, we become more and more like Jesus, which is another blessing from the Lord. His Spirit transforms us from the inside out and produces godly fruit in our life (Gal. 5:22-23). He also empowers us to choose righteous living and break unholy habits.

Another amazing blessing for Christians is access to the throne of grace. At any time, we can enter into God’s presence through prayer and worship. And resurrection and glorification are also treasures for the child of God. Just as the Savior’s body was resurrected, our bodies will likewise be raised; in heaven, they will be made perfect, and we will be free from sin’s presence forever.

Our wealth in Christ surpasses anything this world offers. Don’t let yourself be seduced by earthly thinking, which values comfort and pleasure above all else. Instead, treasure who you are in Christ and what you have been given. When you do, peace and contentment will become yours.

Resolution and Mission – Ravi Zacharias Ministries

 

“Make a New Year’s resolution to give up an old habit,” proclaims a billboard put up by a fledgling newspaper trying to woo away readers from a more established paper. This is the time of the year when the very word “resolution” catches our attention, and the advertisement was cashing in on the sentiment.

Resolutions clearly vary in depth of meaning. You can have a new resolution every new year if you would like. Most resolutions are short-term and can therefore be more easily evaluated than overarching values or life purposes. But even if one is successful every year in keeping a resolution, does that mean that one can, towards the twilight years of one’s life, say one has lived successfully? I’m not sure we would go as far as to say this.

In the early chapters of the Gospel of Mark, Jesus shows far more than resolution to live a particular life. Overwhelmed with the pressures of popularity to the extent that “the whole city gathered at the door,” Jesus did two things (Mark 1:33). In response to the people before him, he first met all of their needs. He healed their diseases and cast out their demons. But then, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place to pray.

Immediately upon finding him, his disciples gave him what seems like an exaggerated report: “Everyone is looking for you!” they exclaimed (1:37). Gently and confidently, Jesus set the course, telling them his plans on fulfilling his mission. “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for” (1:38). Popularity did not distract him. The demands of the crowds did not prevent him from focusing on what he needed to do. Jesus knew his mission in life, and every action worked toward this end.

Everyone in this world has some form of a mission statement, though often it is not formally stated. Many have implicit mission statements to make money or to become powerful or to be successful or to optimize pleasure. Though many of our goals or resolutions are not necessarily wrong in and of themselves, they become empty when elevated beyond what the accomplishment itself can provide. Success in the stock market does not make for a successful life. There is a vast difference between a resolution and a mission statement. We were meant for far more than any accomplishment of our own can provide.

If you look in the mirror of God’s Word, you will find that God not only has a plan for life itself, but a plan for your life. John reports, “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’” (John 8:12). Jesus gives us the only mission statement that extends beyond this life and into the next.

A clearly expressed mission statement may go against the grain of our natural inclinations and thinking. But having a clear purpose in mind helps to expose our unvoiced, inadequate mission statements and verbalize the larger existential purpose of life and the direction God has set before us. We may sometimes struggle to remain on track, but we walk not alone. As someone has said, “There is joy in the journey.” And I might add, for the follower of Christ, there is also a sense of fulfillment at the journey’s end.

Why not take the time this year to articulate a mission statement for your life? This could well be the resolution that leads to the one who revolutionizes all of life.

Cyril Georgeson is a member of the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Delhi, India.

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning “There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.” / 2 Timothy 4:8

Doubting one! thou hast often said, “I fear I shall never enter heaven.” Fear

not! all the people of God shall enter there. I love the quaint saying of a

dying man, who exclaimed, “I have no fear of going home; I have sent all

before me; God’s finger is on the latch of my door, and I am ready for him to

enter.” “But,” said one, “are you not afraid lest you should miss your

inheritance?” “Nay,” said he, “nay; there is one crown in heaven which the

angel Gabriel could not wear, it will fit no head but mine. There is one

throne in heaven which Paul the apostle could not fill; it was made for me,

and I shall have it.” O Christian, what a joyous thought! thy portion is

secure; “there remaineth a rest.” “But cannot I forfeit it?” No, it is

entailed. If I be a child of God I shall not lose it. It is mine as securely

as if I were there. Come with me, believer, and let us sit upon the top of

Nebo, and view the goodly land, even Canaan. Seest thou that little river of

death glistening in the sunlight, and across it dost thou see the pinnacles of

the eternal city? Dost thou mark the pleasant country, and all its joyous

inhabitants? Know, then, that if thou couldst fly across thou wouldst see

written upon one of its many mansions, “This remaineth for such a one;

preserved for him only. He shall be caught up to dwell forever with God.” Poor

doubting one, see the fair inheritance; it is thine. If thou believest in the

Lord Jesus, if thou hast repented of sin, if thou hast been renewed in heart,

thou art one of the Lord’s people, and there is a place reserved for thee, a

crown laid up for thee, a harp specially provided for thee. No one else shall

have thy portion, it is reserved in heaven for thee, and thou shalt have it

ere long, for there shall be no vacant thrones in glory when all the chosen

are gathered in.

 

Evening “In my flesh shall I see God.” / Job 19:26

Mark the subject of Job’s devout anticipation “I shall see God.” He does not

say, “I shall see the saints”–though doubtless that will be untold

felicity–but, “I shall see God.” It is not–“I shall see the pearly gates, I

shall behold the walls of jasper, I shall gaze upon the crowns of gold,” but

“I shall see God.” This is the sum and substance of heaven, this is the joyful

hope of all believers. It is their delight to see him now in the ordinances by

faith. They love to behold him in communion and in prayer; but there in heaven

they shall have an open and unclouded vision, and thus seeing “him as he is,”

shall be made completely like him. Likeness to God–what can we wish for more?

And a sight of God–what can we desire better? Some read the passage, “Yet, I

shall see God in my flesh,” and find here an allusion to Christ, as the “Word

made flesh,” and that glorious beholding of him which shall be the splendour

of the latter days. Whether so or not it is certain that Christ shall be the

object of our eternal vision; nor shall we ever want any joy beyond that of

seeing him. Think not that this will be a narrow sphere for the mind to dwell

in. It is but one source of delight, but that source is infinite. All his

attributes shall be subjects for contemplation, and as he is infinite under

each aspect, there is no fear of exhaustion. His works, his gifts, his love to

us, and his glory in all his purposes, and in all his actions, these shall

make a theme which will be ever new. The patriarch looked forward to this

sight of God as a personal enjoyment. “Whom mine eye shall behold, and not

another.” Take realizing views of heaven’s bliss; think what it will be to

you. “Thine eyes shall see the King in his beauty.” All earthly brightness

fades and darkens as we gaze upon it, but here is a brightness which can never

dim, a glory which can never fade–“I shall see God.”

Living to the Glory of God – John MacArthur

 

God chose us “to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in [His beloved Son]” (Eph. 1:6).

Englishman Henry Martyn served as a missionary in India and Persia in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Upon his arrival in Calcutta, he cried out “Let me burn out for God.” As he watched the people prostrating themselves before their pagan idols and heard blasphemy uttered against Christ, he wrote, “This excited more horror in me than I can well express. . . . I could not endure existence if Jesus was not glorified; it would be hell to me, if He were to be always thus dishonored” (John Stott, Our Guilty Silence [InterVarsity, 1967], pp. 21-22).

Martyn had a passion for God’s glory–and he was in good company. Angels glorify God (Luke 2:14), as do the heavens (Ps. 19:1) and even animals (Isa. 43:20). But as a believer, you glorify God in a unique way because you are a testimony to His redeeming grace.

You were created for the purpose of glorifying God–even in the most mundane activities of life, such as eating and drinking (1 Cor. 10:31). You are to flee immorality so you can glorify God in your body (1 Cor. 6:19- 20). You are to walk worthy of your calling “that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified” (2 Thess. 1:12).

Glorifying God is an enormous privilege and an awesome responsibility. When others see His character on display in your life, it reminds them of His power, goodness, and grace. But when they don’t, it dishonors God and calls His character into question.

Aim your life at God’s glory and make it the standard by which you evaluate everything you do.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank the Lord for the privilege of glorifying Him.

Ask Him to show you any areas of your life that do not honor Him.

Find a trusted Christian friend who will pray with you and hold you accountable for the areas you know need to change.

For Further Study: Read Exodus 33:12-34:8

What did Moses request?

What was God’s response and what does it teach us about His glory?

A Means for Growth – Greg Laurie

 

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow—James 1:2–3

When we experience suffering in our lives, we naturally want the pain to go away. But sometimes God can do things through our pain that cannot be accomplished in any other way. Alan Redpath said, “When God wants to do an impossible task, he takes an impossible individual and crushes him.”

James wrote, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (James 1:2–4).

Sometimes the Lord will turn a disability into an ability. Sometimes He will take a weakness and turn it into a strength.

If you are trying to get stronger physically, you need to use your muscles. When you work out, you are essentially breaking your muscles down to build them back up again.

In the same way, God may allow hardship into our lives to make us stronger in our faith.

Here is what the apostle Paul said when he asked God to take away his thorn in the flesh, but God said no: “Each time He said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9–10)

We always want things to go reasonably well. We don’t want to suffer. We don’t want hardship. But that hardship may be the best thing for us.

God’s Perspective on our Troubles – Charles Stanley

 

James 1:2-4

Today’s passage seems to make an impossible demand: how on earth can we “consider it all joy” when we face terrible hardships? Doesn’t this admonition belittle our honest troubles and concerns?

Scripture never instructs us to ignore situations that cause us heartaches, doubt, fear, or worry. In fact, the Bible is quite honest about what we as Christians can expect from a life devoted to Christ. Jesus proclaimed, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33 niv). Because we seek to live by biblical values, the world does not understand our motivation and will therefore often stand against us.

How, then, can we rejoice when we face trouble? It is through our hardships that Christ often makes Himself known in our lives. If we lived trouble-free lives, what need would we have for a Savior? Rather, it is because we live fragile lives that we can see Jesus clearly.

When we face a problem head-on with the certainty that God will provide a solution and the strength to endure, we gain spiritual stamina. It is similar to training our physical bodies. Only through the resistance of an opposing force, such as a barbell, do our muscles grow. Likewise, our faith develops as a result of dealing with spiritual resistance.

Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, we can find the faith to rejoice in our pain. This is possible because we not only have the assurance that God will provide, but we also can trust that when we walk with Him, we will be better prepared to face the next obstacle.

Prayer for a Future Me – Ravi Zacharias

 

While thoughts and resolutions for the year ahead are crossing many of our minds, Matt Sly and Jay Patrikios are still thinking 30 years into the future. Sly and Patrikios are the minds behind the 2002 website “Future Me” that allows people to send messages to themselves years or decades from the time they were written. In the year 2015, a man named Adam is set to get an e-mail from himself that asks, “Do you still write? Do you still draw? Does Radio Shack still exist?” Sly explains the rationale: “We want people to think about their future and what their goals and dreams and hopes and fears are. We’re trying to facilitate some serious existential pondering.”(1)

A quick overview of some of the publicly-posted messages shows people doing just that. Some are pondering dreams they hope to have accomplished by the time they hear from themselves in the future: “I hope you are moving up in your job… I also hope you are making more responsible choices.” Others are taking it as a moment to remind themselves what they were up to years earlier or record what they hope will be beyond them in the future: “I hope you’re better because as I’m writing this letter, you’re doing terrible.” It is a time capsule wrought in an e-mail, readily drawing in participants all over the world. At the very least, it extracts in many a sense of intrigue. At most, sending words to future selves seems to draw a sense of nostalgia, accountability, apprehension, or hope.

I used to keep a journal that mostly held thoughts and events consumed with present days. I seemed most prone to write in it when something was happening or had just happened, when something was on my mind or on my heart at present. But there is one page far in the back that differentiated from the others. In scattered sentences now crammed on a page full of thoughts I speak to days far ahead of me: “Remember that you wanted to be the kind of woman that grows old gracefully.” “If you ever become a parent, I hope you will be the kind who can say ‘I’m sorry.’” “When it’s time to let go of certain freedoms, take it with poise.” “If it’s ever your turn to face disease, remember that you wanted to do it with faith; you wanted death never to scare you more than resurrection gives you hope.” While I like to think of these mental notes as prayers for the future—and many of them are—many of them more closely resemble a listing of fears, an anxious warning at what I might forget or what might go wrong. Though I am looking ahead, it is as if I am still looking behind me.

In an essay titled “Please Shut This Gate” English author F.W. Boreham describes signs carefully placed by landowners throughout the landscape of New Zealand. “Please shut this gate,” was a message one could read often throughout his countryside, signs placed by fence owners intent on keeping some things from wandering away and some things from wandering in. Depicting this common scene, Boreham then draws a parallel to the importance of shutting similar gates in our own lives, closing the door that keeps things both in and out. He writes, “[W]hen Israel escaped from Babylon, and dreaded a similar attack from behind, the voice divine again reassured them. ‘I, the Lord thy God, will be thy rearguard’ (Isaiah 58:8). There are thousands of things behind me of which I have good reason to be afraid; but it is the glory of the Christian evangel that all the gates may be closed. It is grand to be able to walk in green pastures and beside still waters unafraid of anything that I have left in the perilous fields behind me.”(2)

Whether looking down roads to the New Year or the coming decades, it is the gift of the follower of Jesus that there are gates that may be closed. We need not worry about the future, nor look to resolutions or future me’s with fear of failing, nor tremble at what Christ has put behind us—or in front of us. In the words of a seventeenth century Puritan: “To suppose that whatever God requireth of us we have power of ourselves to do is to make the Cross and grace of Jesus Christ of none effect.”(3) Christ has written a message across the future to be delivered to our laboring souls each new day. As he went head first into the shadows of self-giving, he cried, “It is finished,” forever offering a door to shut, forever promising the strength to shut it. In this New Year, one can say in hope and in light: Christ has gone before us, he walks among us, he is our rearguard, he is our strength.

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

(1) Matt Sly and Jay Patrikios, Futureme.org.

(2) F.W. Boreham, “Please Shut This Gate,” The Silver Shadow (New York: The Abingdon Press, 1919), 118-119.

(3) John Owen, Works of John Owen: Volume 3 (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1862), 433.

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning “I will be their God.” / Jeremiah 31:33

Christian! here is all thou canst require. To make thee happy thou wantest

something that shall satisfy thee; and is not this enough? If thou canst pour

this promise into thy cup, wilt thou not say, with David, “My cup runneth

over; I have more than heart can wish”? When this is fulfilled, “I am thy

God”, art thou not possessor of all things? Desire is insatiable as death, but

he who filleth all in all can fill it. The capacity of our wishes who can

measure? But the immeasurable wealth of God can more than overflow it. I ask

thee if thou art not complete when God is thine? Dost thou want anything but

God? Is not his all-sufficiency enough to satisfy thee if all else should

fail? But thou wantest more than quiet satisfaction; thou desirest rapturous

delight. Come, soul, here is music fit for heaven in this thy portion, for God

is the Maker of Heaven. Not all the music blown from sweet instruments, or

drawn from living strings, can yield such melody as this sweet promise, “I

will be their God.” Here is a deep sea of bliss, a shoreless ocean of delight;

come, bathe thy spirit in it; swim an age, and thou shalt find no shore; dive

throughout eternity, and thou shalt find no bottom. “I will be their God.” If

this do not make thine eyes sparkle, and thy heart beat high with bliss, then

assuredly thy soul is not in a healthy state. But thou wantest more than

present delights–thou cravest something concerning which thou mayest exercise

hope; and what more canst thou hope for than the fulfilment of this great

promise, “I will be their God”? This is the masterpiece of all the promises;

its enjoyment makes a heaven below, and will make a heaven above. Dwell in the

light of thy Lord, and let thy soul be always ravished with his love. Get out

the marrow and fatness which this portion yields thee. Live up to thy

privileges, and rejoice with unspeakable joy.

 

Evening “Serve the Lord with gladness.” / Psalm 100:2

Delight in divine service is a token of acceptance. Those who serve God with a

sad countenance, because they do what is unpleasant to them, are not serving

him at all; they bring the form of homage, but the life is absent. Our God

requires no slaves to grace his throne; he is the Lord of the empire of love,

and would have his servants dressed in the livery of joy. The angels of God

serve him with songs, not with groans; a murmur or a sigh would be a mutiny in

their ranks. That obedience which is not voluntary is disobedience, for the

Lord looketh at the heart, and if he seeth that we serve him from force, and

not because we love him, he will reject our offering. Service coupled with

cheerfulness is heart-service, and therefore true. Take away joyful

willingness from the Christian, and you have removed the test of his

sincerity. If a man be driven to battle, he is no patriot; but he who marches

into the fray with flashing eye and beaming face, singing, “It is sweet for

one’s country to die,” proves himself to be sincere in his patriotism.

Cheerfulness is the support of our strength; in the joy of the Lord are we

strong. It acts as the remover of difficulties. It is to our service what oil

is to the wheels of a railway carriage. Without oil the axle soon grows hot,

and accidents occur; and if there be not a holy cheerfulness to oil our

wheels, our spirits will be clogged with weariness. The man who is cheerful in

his service of God, proves that obedience is his element; he can sing,

“Make me to walk in thy commands,

‘Tis a delightful road.”

Reader, let us put this question–do you serve the Lord with gladness? Let us

show to the people of the world, who think our religion to be slavery, that it

is to us a delight and a joy! Let our gladness proclaim that we serve a good

Master.

Living out Your Royal Heritage – John MacArthur

 

“In love [God] predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will” (Eph. 1:4-5).

Moses told Israel that God didn’t choose them because of their great numbers or any inherent goodness on their part, but as an expression of God’s sovereign will and sacrificial love (Deut. 7:7-8). That’s true of you as well if you’re a Christian.

The Greek word translated “love” in Ephesians 1:4 speaks not of emotional or sentimental love but of love that seeks God’s best for others at any cost. It is marked by sacrifice rather than selfishness–giving rather than receiving. It seeks to forgive rather than condemn–to dismiss offenses rather than count them.

Such love is epitomized in God Himself, who loved you so much that He sacrificed His Son on your behalf, who willingly laid down His own life for you (John 3:16; 15:13).

While false gods are worshiped out of fear and ignorance, the true God–your Heavenly Father–has eliminated all fear so that you can confidently enter into His presence (Heb. 10:19; 1 John 4:18). You have received a spirit of adoption and can address Him as “Abba! Father!” (Rom. 8:15), the Aramaic equivalent of Daddy or Papa.

Your Heavenly Father delights in your praise and glories in your obedience. Be a faithful child. Make this day count for Him. Live out your royal heritage. Seek His wisdom in all you do. Go to His Word and follow its counsel. Demonstrate His love to others in practical ways.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank God for granting you the privilege of being a member of His family.

Thank Him for the many manifestations of His love that you enjoy each day.

Ask Him to lead you to someone to whom you can demonstrate His love in a practical and sacrificial way.

For Further Study: Read 1 Corinthians 13

List the characteristics of godly love.

How does the quality of your love for others compare to God’s standard? What steps can you take today to bring your love into greater conformity to His?

Remember God – Greg Laurie

 

“Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath.”           Deuteronomy 8:18

Why does God allow suffering in our lives? Why does He allow us to experience adversity?

One purpose, I believe, is to keep us humble. Prosperity and success can sometimes make us proud and self-sufficient. We think we don’t need God because we have our salary…we have our investments…we have our health…we have our family…we have a successful ministry.

But when the economy goes south or the stock market crashes or our home burns down, we turn to God, and we are reminded of what really matters.

Before the Israelites entered the Promised Land, God warned them,

“Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today. For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in, and when your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else, be careful! Do not become proud at that time and forget the Lord your God…” (Deuteronomy 8:11-14)

I think we should pray for success in what we do, but I also think it is right to say, “Lord, Your will be done.” Sometimes God will not allow us to be successful in our efforts.

It is better to fail and turn to God than to succeed and forget Him. That doesn’t mean we always have to fail. But the doorway to success is often through the hallway of failure. And failure has its place, because it is part of a learning process.

Sometimes God may allow us to fail or experience hardship so we will trust in Him.

Overcoming Life’s Ups and Downs – Charles Stanley

 

Philippians 4:10-13

Have you ever heard a testimony from someone who has been through a horrible tragedy? We tend to pay very close attention to such accounts because the person involved has witnessed firsthand God’s faithfulness and power to restore a broken life.

Of all the witnesses to God’s grace in times of trouble, none is more compelling than the apostle Paul. He was certainly no stranger to hardship. Throughout his ministry, he was chased, beaten, stoned, arrested, shipwrecked, and accused of heresy by both the Jewish leaders and the Roman government. This was certainly a stark contrast to his early life, in which he enjoyed the luxuries and opportunities that his Roman citizenship and Jewish education provided.

There were amazing ups and downs in Paul’s life. As a result, he earned the right to make the proclamation found in Philippians 4:12: “I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity.”

And what was the lesson the apostle came away with as a result of these experiences? He tells us in verse 12: “In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.”

Paul’s “secret” is really not a secret al all, for he reveals the source of his strength in the following verse: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Faith in Jesus Christ and an increasing reliance on Him will make this limitless power source a reality in your life.

The Bread of Life – Ravi Zacharias

 

Grain, water, salt, leavening agent, honey. These basic ingredients have fed humanity for millennia. Combined in innumerable ways, they form bread. As a basic food, bread has everything necessary to sustain life, which is miraculous given the simplicity of its elements. For the majority of ancient people, bread was the centerpiece of most meals. The classic texts of antiquity, including the pages of the Old Testament, detail its prevalence and use. Enjoyed alongside sumptuous feasts or the sole item for a meal, the baking and eating of bread has been a food tradition regardless of economic class or status. Bread baking has such a long and important history that even the British Museum houses loaves thought to be 5,000 years old.(1)

I became interested in bread a few years ago when I was introduced to artisan bread baking. Artisanal breads are generally loaves that are hand-shaped, rather than put into a baking pan, and they do not utilize commercial yeast for leavening the loaf. Instead, loaves are carefully shaped by hand, and naturally occurring yeast is captured and used for leavening which requires much more time than commercial baking processes. Though a much slower process, the satisfaction that comes from the hearty, complex loaves makes artisanal baking worth the wait.

When I began baking in this manner, I remember being in awe that such simple ingredients could make something that tasted so wonderfully complex, and that was so deeply satisfying for hunger. For me, it gives endless delight to bake and share a loaf of bread with friends and with those in need. For how miraculous that something so simple and so basic could sustain and delight something as complex as human life.

Given its rich and long history, and the ubiquity of bread around the world as a basic food source, it is no surprise that one would find it as a prominent illustration in the teaching of Jesus. In the gospel according to John, for example, bread is a portion of the meal that was used in a great feeding miracle.(2) Barley loaves—five to be exact—nourished and sustained 5,000 weary travelers following around after Jesus and listening to him preach and teach. After being miraculously nourished and satisfied by such simple and meager elements, the people desired to seize Jesus and make him their king!

Like many of the crowds that followed, this one missed the point Jesus was making in using common elements, like bread. He had not come among them simply to serve as their miracle worker, but to reveal the life that was offered in the breaking of the bread to feed them.

So he tells them a story from the history of Israel. Like them, the ancient Israelites were fed when they were hungry. Manna, literally “what is it” in Hebrew, sustained them as they wandered in the wilderness after their exodus from Egypt. In this time of utter hunger and desperation, the children of Israel were sustained by this simple food that fell from heaven. But Jesus issues a sober reminder that the forefathers and mothers of Israel who ate manna—and those who now experienced the miracle of the loaves—would not be satisfied for long.

The simple sign of the bread was intended to point them all toward something else. To those listening to Jesus, the bread was a physical sign of the reality that the bread of life was now in their midst. “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” Jesus declares to them that he is the bread of life. Those who eat this bread will never be hungry again. Indeed, those who eat this bread will never die.(3)

Later, Jesus would again break bread with his twelve disciples. He would insist that it would be through his breaking, through his death on the Cross, that the bread of life would be given for the world. The manna, the barley loaves, and the bread at the Last Supper all point to the deeper reality that new and unending life comes as a gift from God who is at work among us, nourishing and gifting the world with bread from heaven—Jesus, the Messiah.

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

(1)Stephen Holloway, “The History of Bread” accessed from Food History at http://www.kitchenproject.com, 1998-2004.

(2)This story occurs in all four gospel traditions. John 6:1-14; 27-58. See also Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:31-44; Luke 9:11-17.

(3) See John 6:1-14; 27-58.

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning “The iniquity of the holy things.” / Exodus 28:38

What a veil is lifted up by these words, and what a disclosure is made! It

will be humbling and profitable for us to pause awhile and see this sad sight.

The iniquities of our public worship, its hypocrisy, formality, lukewarmness,

irreverence, wandering of heart and forgetfulness of God, what a full measure

have we there! Our work for the Lord, its emulation, selfishness,

carelessness, slackness, unbelief, what a mass of defilement is there! Our

private devotions, their laxity, coldness, neglect, sleepiness, and vanity,

what a mountain of dead earth is there! If we looked more carefully we should

find this iniquity to be far greater than appears at first sight. Dr. Payson,

writing to his brother, says, “My parish, as well as my heart, very much

resembles the garden of the sluggard; and what is worse, I find that very many

of my desires for the melioration of both, proceed either from pride or vanity

or indolence. I look at the weeds which overspread my garden, and breathe out

an earnest wish that they were eradicated. But why? What prompts the wish? It

may be that I may walk out and say to myself, In what fine order is my garden

kept!’ This is pride. Or, it may be that my neighbours may look over the wall

and say, How finely your garden flourishes!’ This is vanity. Or I may wish for

the destruction of the weeds, because I am weary of pulling them up. This is

indolence.” So that even our desires after holiness may be polluted by ill

motives. Under the greenest sods worms hide themselves; we need not look long

to discover them. How cheering is the thought, that when the High Priest bore

the iniquity of the holy things he wore upon his brow the words, “Holiness to

the Lord:” and even so while Jesus bears our sin, he presents before his

Father’s face not our unholiness, but his own holiness. O for grace to view

our great High Priest by the eye of faith!

 

Evening “Thy love is better than wine.” / Song of Solomon 1:2

Nothing gives the believer so much joy as fellowship with Christ. He has

enjoyment as others have in the common mercies of life, he can be glad both in

God’s gifts and God’s works; but in all these separately, yea, and in all of

them added together, he doth not find such substantial delight as in the

matchless person of his Lord Jesus. He has wine which no vineyard on earth

ever yielded; he has bread which all the corn-fields of Egypt could never

bring forth. Where can such sweetness be found as we have tasted in communion

with our Beloved? In our esteem, the joys of earth are little better than

husks for swine compared with Jesus, the heavenly manna. We would rather have

one mouthful of Christ’s love, and a sip of his fellowship, than a whole world

full of carnal delights. What is the chaff to the wheat? What is the sparkling

paste to the true diamond? What is a dream to the glorious reality? What is

time’s mirth, in its best trim, compared to our Lord Jesus in his most

despised estate? If you know anything of the inner life, you will confess that

our highest, purest, and most enduring joys must be the fruit of the tree of

life which is in the midst of the Paradise of God. No spring yields such sweet

water as that well of God which was digged with the soldier’s spear. All

earthly bliss is of the earth earthy, but the comforts of Christ’s presence

are like himself, heavenly. We can review our communion with Jesus, and find

no regrets of emptiness therein; there are no dregs in this wine, no dead

flies in this ointment. The joy of the Lord is solid and enduring. Vanity hath

not looked upon it, but discretion and prudence testify that it abideth the

test of years, and is in time and in eternity worthy to be called “the only

true delight.” For nourishment, consolation, exhilaration, and refreshment, no

wine can rival the love of Jesus. Let us drink to the full this evening.