Tag Archives: church

Max Lucado – Come to Me

Max Lucado

How does a person get relief from shame, embarrassment, anger?

In Matthew 11:28, Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest.  Accept my teachings and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives. . .”

I can see you shaking your head.  I’ve tried that.  I’ve read the Bible.  I’ve sat on the pew—but I’ve never received relief. Could it be you went to religion and you didn’t go to God? Could it be you went to a church, but never saw Christ?

“Come to Me” the verse reads. Jesus is the solution for weariness of the soul. Go to Him. Admit you have soul secrets you’ve never dealt with. He already knows what they are.

Go to Him! He’s just waiting for you to ask Him to help!

From When God Whispers Your Name

Charles Stanley – The Patience of God

Charles Stanley

2 Peter 3:3-9

More than likely, you heard the gospel several times before you trusted Jesus as your Savior. Sometimes even though we know the truth, we decide to continue with our life as it is. Why does the Lord tolerate this deliberate sin?

Patience is an attribute of God; it can be seen through His goodness in withholding punishment from those involved in long-term sin. He has a motivation and purpose for His patience. God places a high value on us as His created beings. He waits patiently because He desires to see each one of us come to a saving knowledge of His Son Jesus Christ. That is His primary purpose.

The Father’s secondary reasons for being patient apply to us as believers. He understands our innate carnality and the sinful tendencies that result from it. He also recognizes our weakness and imma- turity in the Christian life. We have much to learn once we are saved, and God does not expect us to know everything at once.

We can, however, abuse God’s patience by misinterpreting it (Ps. 50:21). Have you ever done something you knew was wrong? Sometimes when nothing happens as a result of a particular sin, we think God has overlooked it. We may decide to continue in that behavior, which further abuses the Lord’s patience. But God is very clear that He will not strive with us forever (103:9). That is to say, we cannot continue in our disobedience consequence-free. Has God been convicting you of a sin that you are ignoring? Confess (agree with Him that it is wrong), repent (turn away from the sin), and thank Him for His patience with you.

 

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – What Is the Nature of Faith?

Ravi Z

What is the nature of faith? Is faith the sort of thing that is like an impenetrable fortress? Is it a sense of absolute certainty, as is found in mathematical formulae, with consistent and guaranteed results? Or is the nature of faith like the feeling one gets when barely hanging on—fingers fatigued, sweaty, and slowly slipping off of whatever prop, cliff, or ledge that holds one from falling into the abyss of disbelief?

I wonder about the nature of faith as I encounter so many different perspectives and experiences with faith. After profound loss, for example, many individuals suffer what is described as a ‘crisis of faith.’ All that seemed a sure foundation before the loss crumbles under the weight of crisis. For others, faith seems a swinging pendulum that vacillates between certainty and doubt. The poet Emily Dickinson wrote that “we both believe and disbelieve a hundred times an Hour…”.(1) Still for others faith is a constant assurance, a sense of strength and repose regardless of the assaults to it.

Of course, to ask about the nature of faith is to inquire about the nature of trust and belief. As such, it is not simply a conversation among religious adherents, but a real question over which humans wrestle whether they acknowledge it explicitly or not. We make decisions each and every day about whether or not we will trust the bus driver and the bus to get us to work. We make decisions to trust other drivers on the highway that they will keep their vehicles under control and not careen into our lane of traffic. We make decisions to trust individuals—spouses, children, friends, employers. The exercise of trust is a basic requirement for relationships and for living in this world.

This is why it is so interesting to me that talk of ‘faith’ is often relegated to the margin that is religious discourse. To have ‘faith’ or ‘trust’ or ‘belief’ in scientific studies is simply assumed because science has become the standard by which truth is measured. And yet, even scientists exercise ‘faith’ in a relationship to a tradition of knowledge. Assumptions, assured findings from the past, and the methods of science all become a part of the relationship between faith and knowledge. Sometimes, even this relationship comes under testing when what were once considered ‘true’ results are called into question by new assumptions and new data.(2) Relationships are dynamic; going through ebbs and flows, ups and downs, changes and stasis. As such, it seems a complete category mistake to speak of faith and certainty in the same sentence-even in the realm of science. As author Philip Yancey asserts about the necessary uncertainty of faith, “Doubt always coexists with faith, for in the presence of certainty who would need faith at all?”(3)

It is reasonable, then, to wonder aloud about the nature of faith. One ought to be wary of arriving at a simple definition. For C.S. Lewis, one of the great spokesmen on behalf of the Christianity, the nature of faith was complicated and something that was not easily understood. In his heart-wrenching memoir, A Grief Observed, Lewis writes: “You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box.”(4) I believe Lewis articulates a profound dynamic of faith—one never really knows what it is until it is tested. Yet, once tested the true nature of one’s faith is revealed-even when it is revealed to be wanting. In these times, we can reflect honestly about that in which we’ve placed our trust and whether the subject or object of trust is warranted.

Yet, even here where one’s faith might be revealed for what it is and what it is not, there is room for growth and for hope. Philip Yancey reflects that,

“What gives me hope, though, is that Jesus worked with whatever grain of faith a person might muster. He did, after all honor the faith of everyone who asked, from the bold centurion to doubting Thomas to the distraught father who cried, ‘I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!’”(5)

The true nature of faith is inextricably bound to relationship. As such, it is subject to all of the intricacies and complexities of relationship. At times unshakable and strong, and at other times revealed to be flabby and weak, the nature of faith is dynamic. But entering into a relationship of trust with the God revealed in Jesus of Nazareth assures me that despite the complexities, and despite my often small offering of faith, I am welcomed into a relationship anyway. And as my faith is tested, its true nature is progressively revealed.

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

(1) From a letter to Otis Lord, April 30, 1882; Thomas H. Johnson, ed., The Letters of Emily Dickinson (Cambridge: Belknap, 1958), 728.

(2) As is seen in the recent studies that showed a new gauge for cholesterol was flawed. Cardiologists learned that a new online calculator meant to help them determine a patient’s suitability for cholesterol treatment was flawed, doubling the estimated risk of heart attack or stroke for the average patient. See Gina Kolata, “Flawed gauge for cholesterol risk poses new challenge,” NY Times, November 18, 2013.

(3) Philip Yancey, Reaching for the Invisible God: What Do We Expect to Find? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 41.

(4) C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed (New York: HarperCollins ebooks, 2009), loc 326-329.

(5) Philip Yancey, Reaching for the Invisible God: What Do We Expect to Find, 40.

 

 

Alistair Begg – With All Your Might

Alistair Begg

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might.

Ecclesiastes 9:10

Whatever your hand finds to do” refers to works that are possible. There are many things that our heart finds to do that we will never do. It is good for it to be in our heart; but if we would be eminently useful, we must not be content with forming schemes in our heart and talking of them; we must practically carry out “whatever your hand finds to do.”

One good deed is worth more than a thousand brilliant theories. Let us not wait for large opportunities or for a different kind of work, but just do the things we “find to do” day by day.

We have no other time in which to live. The past is gone; the future has not arrived; we will never have any time but now. So do not wait until your experience has ripened into maturity before you attempt to serve God.

Endeavor now to bring forth fruit. Serve God now, but be careful about the way in which you perform what you find to do-“do it with your might.”

Do it promptly; do not fritter away your life in thinking of what you intend to do tomorrow as if that could repay today’s laziness.

No one ever served God by doing things tomorrow. If we honor Christ and are blessed, it is by the things that we do today.

Whatever you do for Christ, throw your whole soul into it. Do not give Christ a little halfhearted labor, done as a matter of course every now and then; but when you serve Him, do it with heart and soul and strength.

But where is the power of a Christian? It is not in himself, for he is perfect weakness. His power lies in the Lord of Hosts. Let us then seek His help; let us proceed with prayer and faith, and when we have done what our “hand finds to do,” let us wait upon the Lord for His blessing. What we do in this way will be well done and will not fail in its effect.

Charles Spurgeon – Preaching! Man’s privilege and God’s power!

CharlesSpurgeon

“For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.” Mark 6:20.

Suggested Further Reading: James 1:19-25.

If you would hear the word to profit, you must hear it obediently. You must hear it as James and John did, when the master said “Follow me,” and they left their nets and their boats and they followed him. You must do the word as well as hear it, yielding up your hearts to its sway, being willing to walk in the road which it maps, to follow the path which it lays before you. Hearing it obediently, you must also hear it personally for yourselves, not for others, but for yourselves alone. You must be as Zaccheus, who was in the sycamore tree, and the Master said, “Zaccheus, make haste and come down; for today I must abide at thy house.” The word will never bless you till it comes home directly to yourself. You must be as Mary, who when the Master spoke to her she did not know his voice, till he said unto her, “Mary”, and she said, “Rabboni.” There must be an individual hearing of the truth, and a reception of it for yourself in your own heart. Then, too, you must hear the truth penitently. You must be as that Mary, who when she listened to the word, must needs go and wash the feet of Jesus with her tears, and wipe them with the hairs of her head. There must be tears for your many sins, a true confession of your guilt before God. But above all you must hear it believingly. The word must not be unto you as mere sound, but as matter of fact. You must be as Lydia, whose heart the Lord opened; or as the trembling gaoler, who believed on the Lord Jesus with all his house and was baptized immediately. You must be as the thief, who could pray, “Lord, remember me,” and who could believe the precious promise given, “Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise.”

For meditation: To want to hear the preaching of God’s Word and to enjoy hearing it are good things as far as they go, but by themselves they do not go far enough (Ezekiel 33:30-32).

Sermon no. 347

26 November (Preached 25 November 1860)

 

 

John MacArthur – Rejecting the World’s Passing Pleasures

John MacArthur

“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (Heb. 11:24-25).

For forty years Moses enjoyed the best of everything Egypt had to offer: formidable wealth, culture, education, and prestige (Acts 7:22). Yet he never forgot God’s promises toward his own people, Israel.

Then, “when he was approaching the age of forty, it entered his mind to visit his brethren, the sons of Israel. And when he saw one of them being treated unjustly, he defended him and took vengeance for the oppressed by striking down the Egyptian. And he supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him; but they did not understand” (vv. 23-25).

Somehow Moses knew he was to deliver his people from Egyptian oppression. Although it would be another forty years before he was fully prepared for the task, by faith he forsook the pleasures and prestige of Egypt and endured ill-treatment with God’s chosen people.

Humanly speaking, Moses made a costly choice. He seemed to be sacrificing everything for nothing. But the opposite was much more the case since Moses considered “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the [greater] reward” (Heb. 11:26).

Sometimes obedience to Christ seems very costly, especially when evil people prosper while many who faithfully serve God suffer poverty and affliction. Asaph the psalmist struggled with the same issue: “Behold, these are the wicked; and always at ease, they have increased in wealth. Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure” (Ps. 73:12-13).

But be assured that the eternal rewards of Christ far outweigh the passing pleasures of sin. The wicked have only judgment and hell to look forward to; you have glory and heaven. So always choose obedience, and trust God to guide your choices, just as He did with Moses.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Praise God that the righteous will one day be fully rewarded.

Seek God’s grace to be obedient when you’re faced with difficult choices.

For Further Study:

Read Stephen’s account of Moses in Acts 7:20-39.

 

Joyce Meyer – Don’t Stay Angry

Joyce meyer

Cease from anger and forsake wrath; fret not yourself—it tends only to evildoing.

—Psalm 37:8

The Word tells us another way to resist temptation: “When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down. Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him]” (Ephesians 4:26–27).

Paul said that we should forgive people to keep Satan from gaining an advantage over us (See 2 Corinthians 2:10–11). If someone offends you, get over it quickly so you won’t leave open a door for the devil. It is a sin to hold anger and bitterness, so never go to sleep mad. If you forgive everyone before you fall asleep, freedom from wrong attitudes in your heart will help you start your day right the next morning.

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Calm in the Storm

dr_bright

“Immediately after this, Jesus told His disciples to get into their boat and cross to the other side of the lake while He stayed to get the people started home. Then afterwards He went up into the hills to pray. Night fell, and out on the lake the disciples were in trouble. For the wind had risen and they were fighting heavy seas. About four o’clock in the morning Jesus came to them, walking on the water! They screamed in terror, for they thought He was a ghost. But Jesus immediately spoke to them, reassuring them. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ He said” (Matthew 14:22-27).

I had flown at least a couple of million miles in the last thirty years, but this was the most violent storm I had ever encountered. Vonette and I were on our way from New York City to Washington, when suddenly the airplane began to buck like a wild mustang with its first rider. It felt as though no one was in control. The lightening was constant and for nearly fifteen minutes we seemed to be surrounded by a ball of fire. We had good reason to believe that the plane would soon plummet to earth.

The disciples had shouted to the Lord, “Save us, we’re sinking!” In the same manner, Vonette and I began to pray.

Then, as we called upon God, our petitions turned to praise and thanksgiving. We were reminded of the biblical storm and we prayed, “Oh Lord, You have not lost Your power over nature. We ask You to still the storm and to save us, though we’re ready to meet with You if need be. If You have something yet for us to do in this life, we ask You not to allow the enemy to destroy us and all these other passengers.”

Almost immediately the turbulence stopped. The plane was righted, and we continued on our course, though we discovered later that the plane had been severely damaged.

One of the greatest blessings to come from this experience was the indescribable peace that enveloped us as we considered that at any moment we could plummet to earth and our lives could be snuffed out. I asked the Lord why the disciples were so fearful during the storm while Vonette and I had such peace and confidence that He was in control. The answer was that the fruit if the Spirit is love, joy, peace, etc, and the disciples had not yet been filled with the Spirit at the time of their Galilean storm experience. Later they went to their martyrs’ deaths with the same peace that God gives to all who place their faith and trust in Him.

Bible Reading: John 6:16-21

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: The mighty power which Jesus demonstrated when He walked this earth centuries ago still abides in Him, and He abides in me. Therefore, I shall claim supernatural miraculous power whenever the occasion demands

Presidential Prayer Team; J.K. – Creation Shouts

ppt_seal01

Well-known journalist and television commentator Charles Krauthammer was asked if he was an atheist or an agnostic. He responded that being an atheist was not a possibility; the world’s complexity could only lead you to believe in the mystery of it all. But his next statement exemplified today’s verse: Krauthammer would not accept that the “mystery” was capitalized and spelled G-O-D.

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him.

Romans 1:21

Why is that? Do people see their achievements as something only they could’ve done? Do they reject the idea of a “higher power” because they don’t want to be held accountable? No matter what man thinks, God is God and has the right to be worshipped. His creation shouts Creator, and man’s God-given abilities to observe, understand and interpret gives evidence that you can not only know that God is…but you can know who He is.

Dear one, pray that the truth of God will be your testimony. The vacuum in man screams to be filled, and that void will be replaced with something more. Intercede for the people and leaders of this nation that they will know the Lord and give Him thanks and praise for all He is and all He does.

Recommended Reading: Psalm 145:3-13

 

 

Greg Laurie – A Pivotal Moment in Church History

greglaurie

Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” —Acts 10:28

A pivotal moment arrived in the spread of the gospel by the early church with the conversion of a man named Cornelius. His conversion was significant because Cornelius was not a Jew, but a Gentile.

For us living today in the melting pot called the United States of America, that doesn’t mean a lot. But it did mean a lot to the first-century Jew. Despite the fact that Jesus told His disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel, that really wasn’t happening. Christianity was running the risk of becoming a sect of Judaism.

But that all changed when God impacted one man, and that man was Simon Peter. Peter was pretty much like any other Jew living in his time. He was proud of his heritage, and I don’t mean that in a critical way.

The Jews of this time, however, wanted nothing to do with non-Jews, or Gentiles. So God wanted to redirect the early church to go to the non-Jews and bring them the message of the gospel. And the Lord did that through Peter.

Acts 10 tells us that while Peter was waiting for lunch one day in Joppa, he went up on the housetop to pray. Then he fell into a trance and saw the sky open, while something resembling a sheet was lowered that contained all kinds of unclean animals. Then a voice said, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat” (verse 13).

This wasn’t about food as much as it was about people. God was saying: “Peter, time to leave your comfort zone and reach a whole new group of people—the Gentiles.”

Soon after, Peter preached the gospel to Cornelius and his relatives and friends, and they believed. Peter obeyed God and left his comfort zone, and it changed church history.

 

Max Lucado – If Only…

Max Lucado

Maybe your past isn’t much to brag about. Maybe you’ve seen evil and you have to make a choice. Do you rise above the past and make a difference? Or do you remain controlled by the past and make excuses?

Many choose the convalescent homes of the heart. Healthy bodies. Sharp minds. But retired dreams.  Lean closely and you’ll hear  “If only…”  The white flag of the heart. “If only.” Maybe you’ve used those words. Maybe you have every right to use them.  Perhaps you were hearing the ten count before you even got into the ring.

Let me show you where to turn. Go to John’s gospel and read Jesus’ words in John 3:6, “Human life comes from human parents, but spiritual life comes from one Spirit.”

Your parents have given you genes, but God gives you grace. God is willing to give you what your family didn’t.

From When God Whispers Your Name

Charles Stanley – Developing Patience

Charles Stanley

Galatians 5:22-25

We have all kinds of excuses for why we are not patient: stress, ill health, other peoples’ mistakes, running late, or simply having a bad day. But impatience can cause us to make poor decisions, hurt others, or damage relationships.

God wants something far better for us. He knows that patience helps us to stay in His will—where His favor rests upon us. We achieve strong, loving, lasting relationships when we are willing to wait for others to change. In so doing, we also become happier ourselves.

How do we develop this attribute? First, we must view our lives as God does and recognize difficulties as disguised opportunities to learn patience. We must leave behind the mistaken assumption that success in the Christian life means an absence of problems. God’s purpose is not to provide us with ease, comfort, and pleasure but rather to grow us up into Christlikeness. Patience is one of those “grown-up” qualities we’re to have.

Second, we have a personal responsibility to pursue the quality of patience and train ourselves in it. We must learn to resist our bad habits, wrong thinking, and negative behavior patterns from the past. Practice responding with kindness and love, even if the other person is unjustly accusing you.

It takes time, energy, and effort to change our thinking and our responses. Fortunately, we don’t do this alone—the Holy Spirit is committed to producing this fruit in our lives with our cooperation. See difficulty as God does, and then respond patiently.

 

 

Our Daily Bread — Spiritual Plagiarism

Our Daily Bread

John 1:1-18

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. —John 1:14

When I teach English composition, I require students to write in class. I know that in-class writing is their own work, so in this way I become familiar with each student’s writing voice and am able to detect if they “borrow” a bit too heavily from another writer. Students are surprised to learn that their writing voice—which includes what they say as well as how they say it—is as distinctive as their speaking voice. Just as the words we speak come from our hearts, so do the words we write. They reveal who we are.

We become familiar with God’s voice in much the same way. By reading what He has written, we learn who He is and how He expresses Himself. Satan, however, tries to make himself sound like God (2 Cor. 11:14). By using God’s words in a slightly altered fashion, he comes up with convincing arguments for things that are untrue. For example, by convincing people to do things that simulate godliness, such as trusting in an outward regimen of self-discipline rather than Christ’s death for salvation (Col. 2:23), Satan has led many astray.

God went to extremes to make sure we’d recognize His voice. He not only gave us His Word, He gave us the Word made flesh—Jesus (John 1:14)—so that we will not be easily deceived or misled. —Julie Ackerman Link

Instill within my heart, dear Lord,

A deep desire to know Your Word,

I want to learn to hear Your voice

That I may make Your will my choice. —D. DeHaan

Your Word is very pure; therefore Your servant loves it. —Psalm 119:140

Bible in a year: Ezekiel 24-26; 1 Peter 2

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Truth on Its Head

Ravi Z

G.K. Chesterton took the word “prolific” to a level that, as a writer, simply makes me feel tired. In his lifetime, Chesterton authored over 100 books and contributed to 200 others. He penned hundreds of poems, five plays, five novels, and some 200 short stories, including the popular Father Brown detective series. He wrote over 4000 newspaper essays, including 30 years worth of weekly columns for The Illustrated London News, and 13 years of weekly columns for The Daily News.  He also edited his own newspaper, G.K.’s Weekly.

As one can easily imagine after such an inventory, G.K. Chesterton was always writing—wherever he found himself, and with whatever he could find to write on. So, in the tearoom he scribbled on napkins. On the train, in front of a bank teller, or in the middle of a lecture, he was known to jot hurriedly in a notebook, or even on the cuff of his sleeve.

Chesterton’s eccentric approach to writing, in fact, matched his eccentric approach to life in general. His public image was one out of a Shakespearean comedy. If he were not recognized in the streets of London by the flowing black cape and the wide brimmed top hat he always wore, he was given away instantly by the clamoring of the swordstick he always carried—for nothing more than the romantic notion that he might one day find himself caught up in some adventure where defending himself might become necessary.

He rarely knew, from hour to hour, where he was or where he was supposed to be, what appointment he was to be keeping, or lecture he was to be giving. The story is often told of the time he telegraphed his wife with the note, “Am at Market Harborough. Where ought I to be?” His faithful wife, Frances, wired back, “Home,” knowing it would be most promising for all involved if she could physically point him in the right direction. Chesterton seemed to live out one of his own clever paradoxes: “One can sometimes do good by being the right person in the wrong place.”

In fact, paradox, in more ways than one, is an ample word for G.K. Chesterton. It was one of his favorite things to point out, stir up, and call to mind. He described paradox as “truth standing on its head to gain attention,” and often evoked such jestering truisms throughout his dialog. With declarations bizarre enough to escape defensive mindsets, but with a substance that could blow holes in fortresses of skepticism, G.K. Chesterton, as absentminded as he may have appeared to be, challenged the world to think. With humility, wonder, and genius, Chesterton taught us, in the words of Father Brown, that often it isn’t that we can’t see the solution; it’s that we can’t see the problem.

In his disarming manner, such that even his opponents regarded him with affection, Chesterton exposed the inconsistencies of the modern mindset, the unfounded and unnoticed dogmatism of the unbeliever, and the misguided guidance of the cults of comfort and progress. He marveled that religious liberty now meant that we were no longer allowed to mention the subject, and that “there are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions.” To the convicted agnostic he said, “We don’t know enough about the unknown to know that it is unknowable.” To the social Darwinist he said, “It is absurd for the Evolutionist to complain that it is unthinkable for an admittedly unthinkable God to make everything out of nothing, and then pretend that it is more thinkable that nothing should turn itself into everything.”

And to all who would listen, Chesterton devotedly pled the case for Christ: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”

To everyone his life affected, and continues to affect, G.K. Chesterton, with and without words, made a boisterous point about delighting in life to the fullest; life that is fullest, first and foremost, because there is someone to thank for making it full. He writes:

You say grace before meals.

All right.

But I say grace before the play and the opera,

And grace before the concert and the pantomime,

And grace before I open a book,

And grace before sketching, painting,

swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing;

And grace before I dip the pen in the ink.

Chesterton was a man alive with the gusto of resurrection, the marvel of truth, and the thankful foresight of a coming King among us.

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

Alistair Begg – Liberty from Captivity

Alistair Begg

. . . To proclaim liberty to the captives.

Luke 4:18

No one but Jesus can give deliverance to captives. Real liberty comes from Him alone. It is a liberty rightly granted; for the Son, who is Heir of all things, has a right to make men free.

The saints honor the justice of God, which now secures their salvation. It is a liberty that has been dearly purchased. Christ reveals it by His power, but He bought it by His blood. He makes you free, but it is by His own bonds.

You go clear because He bore your burden for you: You are set at liberty because He has suffered in your place.

Although the purchase price was great, Jesus gives it freely. He asks nothing of us as a preparation for this liberty. He finds us sitting in sackcloth and ashes and invites us to wear the fitting garment of freedom; He saves us just as we are and without any help from us.

When Jesus sets us free, the liberty is perpetually enjoyed; no chains can bind again. Let the Master say to me, “Captive, I have delivered you,” and it is done forever.

Satan may plot to enslave us, but if the Lord is on our side, whom shall we fear? The world, with its temptations, may seek to ensnare us, but He who is for us is mightier than all those who are against us. The movements of our own deceitful hearts may harass and annoy us, but He who has begun the good work in us will bring it to completion in the end. The enemies of God and the antagonists of man may gather their forces together and come with concentrated fury against us, but if God acquits, who is he that condemns?

The eagle that flies to its rocky perch and afterwards soars above the clouds is no more free than the soul delivered by Christ. If we are no longer under the law but free from its curse, let our liberty be practically displayed as we serve God with gratitude and delight. “I am your servant; the son of your maidservant. You have loosed my bonds.”1

1 Psalm 116:16

Charles Spurgeon – Comfort for the desponding

CharlesSpurgeon

“Oh that I were as in months past.” Job 29:2

Suggested Further Reading: Galatians 4:11-20

There is such a thing, my dear friends, as your getting into a terribly bad condition through the ministry that you attend. Can it be expected that men should grow in grace when they are never watered with the streams that make glad the city of our God? Can they be supposed to grow strong in the Lord Jesus, when they do not feed on spiritual food? We know some who grumble, Sabbath after Sabbath, and say they can’t hear such and such a minister. Why don’t you buy an ear-trumpet then? Ah! But I mean, that I can’t hear him to my soul’s profit. Then do not go to hear him, if you have tried for a long while and don’t get any profit. I always think that a man who grumbles as he goes out of chapel ought not to be pitied, but whipped, for he can stay away if he likes, and go where he will be pleased. There are plenty of places where the sheep may feed in their own manner; and everyone is bound to go where he gets the pasture most suited to his soul. But you are not bound to run away directly your minister dies, as many of you did before you came here. You should not run away from the ship directly the storm comes, and the captain is gone, and you find her not exactly sea-worthy; stand by her, begin caulking her, God will send you a captain, there will be fine weather by and by, and all will be right. But very frequently a bad minister starves God’s people into walking skeletons, so that you can tell all their bones; and who wonders that they starve out their minister, when they get no nourishment from his ministrations.

For meditation: God provides leaders to build up his people so that they can go on to build up one another (Ephesians 4:11-12). The absence of the leader will show whether the flock can stand on their own feet in the Lord (Philippians 1:27; Colossians 2:5).

Sermon no. 51

25 November (1855)

 

 

 

John MacArthur – Accepting God’s Plan

John MacArthur

“By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict” (Heb. 11:23).

It has been wisely said that trying to improve on God’s plan is more pretentious than trying to improve the Mona Lisa with an ink pen. All you’d do is ruin the masterpiece.

The story of Amram and Jochebed, the parents of Moses, is about two people who refused to ruin the masterpiece. They trusted God implicitly and did everything possible to see His plan for their son come to fruition.

Because of the number and might of the Hebrew people in Egypt, the pharaoh enslaved them and ordered that all male Hebrew babies be put to death. In direct defiance of that wicked edict, Moses’ parents hid their baby for three months, then placed him in a waterproofed basket along the banks of the Nile River near the place where Pharaoh’s daughter bathed. One can only imagine the faith it took for them to risk their own lives, as well as the life of their baby, by placing him into that basket and introducing him into the very household of the one who wanted all male Hebrew babies slain.

By God’s providence, Pharaoh’s daughter found the baby, took pity on him, and adopted him into her family. More than that, the Lord used Moses’ quick-thinking sister, Miriam, to arrange for Jochebed to nurse and care for her own son! That gave Moses’ family the opportunity to teach him of God’s promises for Israel to inherit the Promised Land, become a mighty nation, and be a blessing to all nations. They helped instill within Moses the faith in God that would later characterize his life.

You may never be called on to make the kind of sacrifice that Moses’ parents made, but no matter what the risks, remember God always honors your obedience.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank God for His plan for your life. Seek wisdom and grace to live accordingly.

For Further Study:

Read of Israel’s oppression and Moses’ birth in Exodus 1:1–2:10.

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – God Protects Us

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“You don’t need to be afraid of the dark any more, nor fear the dangers of the day… For the Lord says, ‘Because he loves me, I will rescue him; I will make him great because he trusts in my name.’ ” (Psalm 91:5,14).

“Ladies and gentlemen, we should be out of the storm in a few moments…” The calm voice over the intercom was hardly reassuring as our Pam Am 707 pierced the fury of a storm during our flight from New York to Washington, D.C. Lightning flashed as the aircraft bounced and shuddered in the turbulence.

I gripped Vonette’s hand. “I don’t know how much longer the plane can endure this storm without breaking into pieces.”

She nodded gravely.

The 707 began to twist — first to the right, then to the left. Its wings flapped like those of a giant bird struggling against a violent downdraft. Vonette and I began praying. Convinced that our aircraft could not survive the turbulence much longer, I tenderly said goodbye to Vonette and she to me. We told our wonderful Lord that we were ready to meet Him.

Then I remembered how the Lord Jesus had calmed the winds when His disciples feared that their boat would capsize during another violent storm. If it was His will, He would protect us, too. I prayed aloud, “Lord, You control the laws of nature. You quieted the storm on the Sea of Galilee. Please quiet this storm.”

In a very short time, the rain and turbulence stopped. Amazed and thankful, Vonette and I praised God for protecting us.

Hours later, the pilot landed the plane at a freight terminal in Norvolk. The flight that should have taken sixty-five minutes had lasted four hours and taken us far from our destination. Lightning had knocked a huge hole in the fuselage near the cockpit, destroying all the radar equipment. The pilot said this was the most violent storm he had ever experienced. But God was more powerful than the storm!

God promises to protect and rescue those who trust Him. What peace and joy this gives us as we turn over the difficult circumstances in our lives to Him!

Bible Reading: Psalm 91

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: With God’s help, I will claim His promise to protect me and will not be afraid of danger

 

 

Presidential Prayer Team; C.P. – That You May Know

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Death—something to be avoided at all cost. People pray against it. They thank the Lord when He watches over their loved ones and keeps them safe. But everyone knows eventually (unless Christ returns first) that everyone will die. Do you still have hope? Yes, indeed!

Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 15:57

In the apostle Paul’s day, some people claimed there was no resurrection. Paul said if there was no resurrection then even Christ didn’t rise from the dead. He then exhorts, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” (I Corinthians 15:22) And John adds, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” (I John 5:13-14)

Pray now, knowing the same God who raised Christ from the dead will answer your prayers in the name of Jesus. Intercede for a spiritual revival in this country and that many people will be saved. And thank the Heavenly Father for your present victory and eternal hope in Christ.

Recommended Reading: I John 5:1-15

 

Greg Laurie – The Unpopular Truth

greglaurie

For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus. —1 Timothy 2:5

One of the most often-asked question regarding the Christian faith goes something like this: “What about the person who has never heard that Jesus is the only way to God? What about the person in the middle of the jungle who has never heard the gospel?” (They are always in a jungle for some unknown reason—or in the desert.)

The teaching that Jesus Christ is the only way to God has never been popular. But maybe it has never been more controversial than it is today. If you want to get someone’s blood boiling, then say that Jesus is the only way to God. The “coexist” bumper sticker on their car will catch fire.

The idea that you would have the audacity to say that Jesus is the only way is, in effect, saying that other religions are not true. That is the way it works itself out, and people don’t like it. It is acceptable if you say that Jesus is a way to God. But when you dare to say that He is the only way, then you can be certain that will have some pushback.

But here is what it comes down to. We have to say what the Bible says, whether it is popular or not. It is not for me to edit the message of the Bible; it is for me, as a Christian, to simply deliver it.

It would be like a doctor’s discovering a very serious problem with a patient’s health, but then being unwilling to say what that problem is, because it might make that patient uncomfortable.

We have to tell people the truth about their real condition, which happens to be sinful, and then seek to save them, which is to point them to Jesus Christ as the only solution.