Tag Archives: church

Charles Stanley – Our Heavenly Existence

 

Thanks to cartoons and movies, many people have the wrong impression about heaven. They imagine gaining wings, donning white robes, strumming a harp, and flying around on clouds. But is that how we’ll spend our time? No. Let’s discover what Scripture says about a few of our activities in heaven.

We will praise and worship the Lord.

Read Revelation 4:1-11. What surprises you about this heavenly scene?

Sometimes believers are guilty of having a worldly concept of worship—mainly that it is boring. But heavenly worship will be more exciting than we can imagine.

When you have a chance to worship the Lord, give Him your full attention. Express your devotion and admiration to Him. You’ll most likely get a taste of how wonderful praise will be in eternity.

Consider how you worship. Which do you resemble more, a participant or a spectator?

Write a prayer, asking the Lord to let you experience more joy in worshipping Him.

We will glorify God.

Is this just another way to say that believers will praise God in heaven? No. According to “Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology”, “glorification” involves first the Christian’s moral perfection, in which the believer is made holy and blameless. Second, the body is made glorious—immortal, imperishable, powerful, and spiritual. Third, glorification includes the Christian’s participation in the kingdom of God, even to the point of reigning with Him. Finally, believers partake of the Lord’s glory (2 Thess. 2:14; 1 Peter 5:10).

On earth, our ability to radiate the indwelling presence of God is limited by our sins and spiritual immaturity. In heaven, those obstacles will be removed. We will shine with all the radiance, beauty, glory, and majesty of the living God.

Why will our inner character be like Christ (1 John 3:2)?

How does Matthew 13:43 describe glorified believers?

We will never fully resemble Jesus this side of heaven. But we should be growing more and more Christ-like as we mature.

We will serve God.

Our Father made us to create, achieve, and serve. In eternity, we’ll be engaged in God-ordained assignments. Before you picture yourself toiling away in misery, remember that work doesn’t have to be tedious, frustrating, or boring.

In the Garden of Eden, God gave man a task (Gen. 2:15). Adam’s job of cultivating the garden was pleasant. But when man sinned, a curse fell on the earth.

What did the curse include, according to Genesis 3:17-19?

What implication does this have regarding work?

What does this verse reveal about the good deeds God calls us to do?

How does this knowledge impact the way you think about serving Him each day?

Describe the life of believers in eternity, according to Revelation 5:9-10.

What two groups will believers judge (1 Cor. 6: 1-3)?

Read Luke 19:16-17. How is the faithful servant rewarded in this passage?

How does one earn the right to “govern” in eternity (Matt. 25:23)?

What has the Lord called you to do with your life?

Does it encourage you to know a reward awaits you for faithfully completing God’s assignments? Why or why not?

In describing our eternal home, Revelation 22:3 says, “There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him.”

The way we prepare for serving God in heaven is by serving Him now. Together with church attendance, giving, and prayer, service is an important expression of our devotion to the Lord.

Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

If you are unsure about how God wants you to serve, pray about it. Each morning, ask Him to guide you into the good deeds He’s prepared for you.

We will reign with God.

You already know that we won’t be idle in heaven. Does it surprise you to know we will rule with the Lord?

It’s not clear from Scripture what our reign will include. But the level of responsibility given to us will be proportional to how faithfully we serve while on earth.

Remember the parable about a master who entrusted money to three servants? The money symbolized a person’s time, talents, and other possessions. According to how each servant invested the money, he was rewarded or punished (Luke 19:11-27).

Closing: Heaven will be far more exciting than we can imagine. In this brief study, we haven’t been able to address everything God’s Word says about it. So, as you read your Bible, particularly Revelation 4-5 and 21-22, watch for descriptions of our eternal home.

Prayer: Father, thank You for the amazing glimpses of heaven You gave us in Your Word. Help us remember this world is not our eternal home. We want to be faithful, obedient stewards, fulfilling Your calling on our lives. Amen.

 

Our Daily Bread – Knee-Deep In Daffodils

 

Luke 24:13-34

The Lord is risen indeed! —Luke 24:34

When the first flowers of spring bloomed in our yard, my 5-year-old son waded into a patch of daffodils. He noticed some debris from plants that had expired months before and remarked, “Mom, when I see something dead, it reminds me of Easter because Jesus died on the cross.” I replied, “When I see something alive—like the daffodils—it reminds me that Jesus came back to life!”

One reason we know Jesus rose from the grave is that, according to the gospel of Luke, He approached two travelers headed to Emmaus 3 days after His crucifixion. Jesus walked with them; He ate dinner with them; He even gave them a lesson in Old Testament prophecy (24:15-27). This encounter showed the travelers that Jesus conquered the grave—He had risen from the dead. As a result, the pair returned to Jerusalem and told the disciples, “The Lord is risen indeed!” (v.34).

If Jesus had not come back to life, our faith as Christians would be pointless, and we would still be under the penalty of our sin (1 Cor. 15:17). However, the Bible tells us that Jesus “was raised to life for our justification” (Rom. 4:25 niv). Today, we can be right with God because Jesus is alive!

I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today;

I know that He is living, whatever men may say.

I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer,

And just the time I need Him He’s always near.

—Alfred Ackley © Renewal 1961. The Rodeheaver Company

The empty cross and the empty tomb provide a full salvation.

Alistair Begg – Weep for His Pain

 

With his stripes we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5

Pilate delivered our Lord to be scourged. The Roman scourge was a most dreadful instrument of torture. It was made of the sinews of oxen, and sharp bones were intertwined among the sinews, so that every time the lash came down, these pieces of bone inflicted fearful laceration and tore off the flesh from the bone. The Savior was, no doubt, bound to the column, and thus beaten. He had been beaten before; but this from the Roman soldiers was probably the most severe of His flagellations. My soul, stand here and weep over His poor, stricken body.

Believer in Jesus, can you gaze upon Him without tears as He stands before you, the mirror of agonizing love? He is at once fair as the lily for innocence and red as the rose with the crimson of His own blood. As we feel the sure and blessed healing that His stripes have wrought in us, does not our heart melt at once with love and grief? If ever we have loved our Lord Jesus, surely we must feel that affection glowing now within our hearts.

See how the patient Jesus stands,

Insulted in His lowest case!

Sinners have bound the Almighty’s hands,

And spit in their Creator’s face.

With thorns His temples gor’d and gash’d

Send streams of blood from every part;

His back’s with knotted scourges lash’d.

But sharper scourges tear His heart.

We may long to go to our bedrooms and weep; but since our business calls us away, we will first ask the Lord Jesus to print the image of His bleeding self upon the tablets of our hearts all the day, and at nightfall we will return to commune with Him and sorrow that our sin should have cost Him so dearly.

Charles Spurgeon – The march

 

“And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee.” Numbers 10:35

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Chronicles 20:1-30

“Rise up, Lord, Father, Son, and Spirit, we can do nothing without thee; but if thou wilt arise, thine enemies shall be scattered, and they that hate thee shall flee before thee.” Will you and I go home and pray this prayer by ourselves, fervently laying hold upon the horns of God’s altar? I charge you, my brethren in Christ, do not neglect this private duty. Go, each one of you, to your chambers; shut your doors; cry to him who hears in secret, and let this be the burden of your cry—“Rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered.” And at your altars tonight, when your families are gathered together, still let the same cry ring up to heaven. And then tomorrow, and all the days of the week, and as often as we shall meet together to hear his word and to break bread, cry, “Rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee.” Pray for your children, your neighbours, your families, and your friends, and let your prayer be—“Rise up, Lord; rise up, Lord.” Pray for this neighbourhood; pray for the dense darkness of Southwark, and Walworth, and Lambeth. And oh! If you cannot pray for others because your own needs come so strongly before your mind, remember sinner, all you need is by faith to look to Christ, and then you can say, “Rise up, Lord; scatter my doubts; kill my unbelief; drown my sins in thy blood; let these thine enemies be scattered; let them that hate thee flee before thee.”

For meditation: This call to prayer, which comes at the very end of the “New Park Street Pulpit” reminds us of some important lessons—the battle is the Lord’s, the armour is God’s, but the responsibility to pray still rests with us, God’s people (Ephesians 6:10-20).

Sermon no. 368

31 March (1861)

John MacArthur – Applying the Disciples’ Prayer

 

“Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen” (Matt. 6:13).

The implications of the Disciples’ Prayer are profound and far-reaching. An unknown author put it this way:

I cannot say “our” if I live only for myself in a spiritual, watertight compartment. I cannot say “Father” if I do not endeavor each day to act like His child. I cannot say “who art in heaven” if I am laying up no treasure there.

I cannot say “hallowed be Thy name” if I am not striving for holiness. I cannot say “Thy kingdom come” if I am not doing all in my power to hasten that wonderful day. I cannot say “Thy will be done” if I am disobedient to His Word. I cannot say “in earth as it is in heaven” if I will not serve Him here and now.

I cannot say “give us . . . our daily bread” if I am dishonest or an “under the counter” shopper. I cannot say “forgive us our debts” if I harbor a grudge against anyone. I cannot say “lead us not into temptation” if I deliberately place myself in its path. I cannot say “deliver us from evil” if I do not put on the whole armor of God.

I cannot say “thine is the kingdom” if I do not give to the King the loyalty due Him as a faithful subject. I cannot attribute to Him “the power” if I fear what men may do. I cannot ascribe to Him “the glory” if I am seeking honor only for myself. I cannot say “forever” if the horizon of my life is bounded completely by the things of time.

As you learn to apply to your own life the principles in this marvelous prayer, I pray that God’s kingdom will be your focus, His glory your goal, and His power your strength. Only then will our Lord’s doxology be the continual song of your heart: “Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen” (v. 13).

Suggestions for Prayer: Ask God to use what you’ve learned from the Disciples’ Prayer to transform your prayers.

For Further Study: Read John 17, noting the priorities Jesus stressed in prayer.

 

Joyce Meyer – Operate in Wisdom

 

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unfathomable (inscrutable, unsearchable) are His judgments (His decisions)! And how untraceable (mysterious, undiscoverable) are His ways (His methods, His paths)! —Romans 11:33

Without wisdom we can make poor decisions and later wonder why we didn’t pray first. It is wise to seek God early each day before we start making decisions in order to know ahead of time what we ought to do, and then to receive the grace to do it. Wisdom keeps us from a life of regret.

Jesus operated in wisdom. When others went home to rest, Jesus went to the Mount of Olives to spend time with God. And early in the morning (at dawn), He came back into the temple and taught people (see John 7:53–8:2). Jesus always spent time with the Father before facing the crowds. If Jesus needed time with God, we need even more time with Him. Walk in wisdom today.

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – To Encourage Us

 

“These things that were written in the Scriptures so long ago are to teach us patience and to encourage us, so that we will look forward expectantly to the time when God will conquer sin and death” (Romans 15:4).

Tom had a “short fuse” and frequently exploded in anger when he was disappointed with himself or others. Then he received Christ and began to study the Word of God, obey its commands and walk in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

His life began to change, gradually at first, until, as he told me recently, it has now been a long time since he has allowed his old nature to express his impatience.

The story is told of an impatient man who prayed and kept praying for God to grant him the virtue he so desperately needed.

“Lord,” he prayed, “give me patience, and give it to me now!”

Patience, however, is a virtue that is developmental in nature, to a large degree. It is the result of walking in the fullness and power of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23). It develops out of a good heart and a godly attitude (Luke 8:15). It is spawned sometimes during times of tribulation. Remember, it is a fruit of the Spirit.

Paul writes, “If we must keep trusting God for something that hasn’t happened yet, it teaches us to wait patiently and confidently” (Romans 8:25).

So patience comes from hope and trust in God. And finally, we learn patience through the study and personal application of God’s Word in our lives, as suggested in Romans 15:4, “These things that were written in the Scriptures so long ago are to teach us patience and to encourage us.”

Bible Reading: Romans 15:1-6

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  When delays and seeming denials occur, I will exercise patience, with the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Presidential Prayer Team; A.W. – Head in the Clouds

 

“There’s a sheep!” and “I see an elephant!” are shouts heard from some kids on a summer afternoon as they reclined in the grass, looked up at the sky and made a game of naming the clouds. What was fun as a child, though, is serious business for scientists. The major cloud types meteorologists use today, such as the poofy storm clouds called “cumulus,” are named to identify and help forecast coming weather.

The Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Matthew 24:30

Today’s scripture tells of another new type of cloud that’ll be seen someday – the “clouds of heaven” that will carry Christ when He returns. They’re described in Daniel 7:13, Mark 13:26 and Luke 21:27…and on these clouds Christ will appear and use His resurrection power to raise the dead in Christ and those living to meet Him in the air.

Will you be able to identify these clouds when they appear? Pray today you will “be ready” (Matthew 24:44) when Jesus returns. Do all you can to make sure others you love are ready, too. Intercede also on this Easter Sunday for the country’s leaders to believe in and call on God’s resurrection power to bring new life to their lives and help them address the piercing needs of the nation.

Recommended Reading: I Thessalonians 4:16-5:11

Charles Stanley – Because He Is Risen

 

1 Corinthians 15:20-23

Jesus is alive. He was resurrected from the dead and lives in heaven, interceding on our behalf. Because He is risen, we can have confidence that . . .

• Our sins are forgiven. Jesus came into this world to give His life as a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28). Through His death on the cross, the debt for our iniquities has been paid completely. We are a forgiven people.

• The Lord is actively involved in our lives. Jesus made many promises to His followers of all generations. He pledged that those who abide in Him and do His will would bear much fruit for God’s kingdom, enjoy spiritual blessings, and have guidance from the indwelling Holy Spirit, who is ever-present (Matt. 5:1-12; John 15:5).

Jesus spoke several times about the power of prayer for those who believe—we have assurance that our petitions will be heard and answered. When our requests are in accordance with the Lord’s will, we’ll receive what we have asked for (1 John 5:14-15).

Jesus gave His word that He would prepare a place for us in heaven and return one day to bring us to our everlasting home. Then we will live with Him forever. We can face each day secure in the knowledge of these truths. We can face each day secure in the knowledge of these truths.

Because Jesus has accomplished all this for us, He deserves our steadfast allegiance. Our worldview is to be framed by His life and words. We must stand firm and not compromise when the world tries to draw us away. Honor our risen Savior by following Him wholeheartedly (1 Cor. 15:58).

Our Daily Bread – You Can Beat It!

 

Matthew 28:1-10

O Death, where is your sting? —1 Corinthians 15:55

The radio ad for an upcoming seminar sounded intriguing. The announcer said, “You can beat death—for good! Attend my seminar and I’ll show you how.” I wondered for a few moments what the speaker would claim could beat death and what his suggestions might be. Perhaps something about diet or exercise or freezing our bodies? After listening a little longer, though, I realized he had said, “You can beat debt—for good.”

The most wonderful news is that we can beat death because Jesus paid our debt! (1 Cor. 15:55-57). Our debt of sin meant separation from God, but Jesus willingly gave up His life and was crucified on a cross to pay what we owed. As Mary Magdalene and another Mary went to the tomb on the third day to anoint His body, an angel told them: “He is not here; for He is risen, as He said” (Matt. 28:6). With great joy they ran to bring His disciples the word. On their way, Jesus met them and said, “Rejoice!” (v.9). Jesus had risen, and His followers had reason for rejoicing.

Jesus has removed the sting of death (1 Cor. 15:55). Now we too have victory by believing in the Son of God’s death and resurrection for us. Through Jesus’ perfect work, we can beat death—for good!

Dear Lord, thank You for sacrificing Your life for our

sins so that we might live. We’re thankful that because

You died and rose again, we can have assurance that

one day we’ll be with You in a place of no more death.

We owed a debt we couldn’t pay; Jesus paid a debt He didn’t owe.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – When Forgiveness Is Impossible

 

In war-torn relationships of Northern Uganda, forgiveness is complicated. Betty was a teenager when her village was raided by the Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel army known for its brutal tactics and widespread human rights violations. She was kidnapped as a sex slave for a commander and ordered to commit callous acts of violence as a child soldier, until gradually she was broken and became an active member of the LRA.

After six years of bloodshed, however, Betty managed to escape, running across the country to freedom. But coming home would not be a simple matter of returning. She had committed violence against the very people she hoped to rejoin. Her own guilt and shame was as palpable as the mistrust and anger of her village. In her absence, two of her own brothers had been killed by the same army Betty fought alongside.

In the midst of such loss, with so many permanent scars, forgiveness might seem hopeful, but naïve at best. Is reconciliation even to be desired when brokenness is so irreversible? Does forgiveness cease to be hopeful when neither party can ever be the same again? From where I stand, these are painful questions to even begin to answer.

But the people of Uganda are trying. For hundreds and hundreds of children like Betty, terrorized by crimes they were forced to commit and returning home to terrorized villages, tribal elders have adapted a ceremony to make it possible for both. In a ceremony that includes the act of breaking and stepping on an egg and an opobo branch, the returnee is cleansed from the things he or she has done while away. The egg symbolizes innocent life, and by breaking and placing themselves in its broken substance, returnees declare before their village their desire to be restored to the way they used to be. In a final step over a pole, the returnees step into new life. In many cases, women returnees come home with babies who were born in the bush, usually a result of rape. When they arrive at the broken egg, the child’s foot is placed in the substance, too. The spirit of reconciliation, like warfare, must touch everyone.

In a single week, Christians around the world remember the last moments of Jesus, the betrayals and predictions, the march to crucifixion, his burial on Good Friday, the silence of Holy Saturday, and the terror and amazement of Easter Sunday. In a week, we are reminded how the disciples failed him miserably, falling asleep when he needed them most in prayer, denying ever knowing him as he was convicted for being himself, watching him die alone from a distance. In a single week, Christians move from recognizing ourselves in this list of failures to sensing the hopeful confusion of the disciples, the overwhelm of Thomas, and the timid longing of the women at the tomb. In a single week, we move from complete despair to shocking hope, total darkness to surprising light, the finality of death to the reordering of reality, from broken and sinful to restored and somehow forgiven.

In this solitary week, Christians remember a story that should make the bold and touching forgiveness of war-torn Ugandans seem natural, expected, and necessary, however shocking or complicated or slow-coming it might be. After the egg-breaking ceremony with her village, Betty went from rebel to ex-rebel, from shamed to restored. “I feel cleansed,” she said of the ceremony. After a day of being welcomed and celebrated, she adds, “Some of the bad things in my heart: they are gone.”(1) Alex Boraine, deputy chair of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, notes of such radical forgiveness: “[With its] uncomfortable commitment to bringing the perpetrator back into the family, Africa has something to say to the world.”(2)

Indeed, it might. And so does Christ. In one eventful, holy week, we remember the ugly depths of our sin and stare into the deep scars of the servant who bore it away. This utter shift in our condition is as overwhelming as this Good Friday, as disquieting as Holy Saturday, and as inconceivable as Easter Sunday. But it is our ceremony. Christ is broken, we are covered in his blood, and we emerge as dead men and women walking. How beyond our knowing, how inexplicable is this gift. Yet because it was given, in a single week, we can claim again the mystery; we can claim the power of reconciliation; we can claim Christ, who moves us from perpetrator to family.

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

(1) Abe McLaughlin, “Africa After War: Paths To Forgiveness—Ugandans Welcome ‘Terrorists’ Back” International Center for Transitional Justice, October 23, 2006.

(2) Ibid.

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning  “He was numbered with the transgressors.” / Isaiah 53:12

Why did Jesus suffer himself to be enrolled amongst sinners? This wonderful  condescension was justified by many powerful reasons. In such a character he  could the better become their advocate. In some trials there is an  identification of the counsellor with the client, nor can they be looked upon  in the eye of the law as apart from one another. Now, when the sinner is  brought to the bar, Jesus appears there himself. He stands to answer the  accusation. He points to his side, his hands, his feet, and challenges Justice  to bring anything against the sinners whom he represents; he pleads his blood,  and pleads so triumphantly, being numbered with them and having a part with  them, that the Judge proclaims, “Let them go their way; deliver them from  going down into the pit, for he hath found a ransom.” Our Lord Jesus was  numbered with the transgressors in order that they might feel their hearts  drawn towards him. Who can be afraid of one who is written in the same list  with us? Surely we may come boldly to him, and confess our guilt. He who is  numbered with us cannot condemn us. Was he not put down in the transgressor’s  list that we might be written in the red roll of the saints? He was holy, and  written among the holy; we were guilty, and numbered among the guilty; he  transfers his name from yonder list to this black indictment, and our names  are taken from the indictment and written in the roll of acceptance, for there  is a complete transfer made between Jesus and his people. All our estate of  misery and sin Jesus has taken; and all that Jesus has comes to us. His  righteousness, his blood, and everything that he hath he gives us as our  dowry. Rejoice, believer, in your union to him who was numbered among the  transgressors; and prove that you are truly saved by being manifestly numbered  with those who are new creatures in him.

 

Evening  “Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord.” / Lamentations  3:40

The spouse who fondly loves her absent husband longs for his return; a long  protracted separation from her lord is a semi-death to her spirit: and so with  souls who love the Saviour much, they must see his face, they cannot bear that  he should be away upon the mountains of Bether, and no more hold communion  with them. A reproaching glance, an uplifted finger will be grievous to loving  children, who fear to offend their tender father, and are only happy in his  smile. Beloved, it was so once with you. A text of Scripture, a threatening, a  touch of the rod of affliction, and you went to your Father’s feet, crying,  “Show me wherefore thou contendest with me?” Is it so now? Are you content to  follow Jesus afar off? Can you contemplate suspended communion with Christ  without alarm? Can you bear to have your Beloved walking contrary to you,  because you walk contrary to him? Have your sins separated between you and  your God, and is your heart at rest? O let me affectionately warn you, for it  is a grievous thing when we can live contentedly without the present enjoyment  of the Saviour’s face. Let us labour to feel what an evil thing this  is–little love to our own dying Saviour, little joy in our precious Jesus,  little fellowship with the Beloved! Hold a true Lent in your souls, while you  sorrow over your hardness of heart. Do not stop at sorrow! Remember where you  first received salvation. Go at once to the cross. There, and there only, can  you get your spirit quickened. No matter how hard, how insensible, how dead we  may have become, let us go again in all the rags and poverty, and defilement  of our natural condition. Let us clasp that cross, let us look into those  languid eyes, let us bathe in that fountain filled with blood–this will bring  back to us our first love; this will restore the simplicity of our faith, and  the tenderness of our heart.

Alistair Begg – Jesus Our Counselor

 

He poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors.  Isaiah 53:12

Why did Jesus cause Himself to be enrolled among sinners? This wonderful condescension was justified by many powerful reasons. By doing so He could better become their advocate. In some trials there is an identification of the counselor with the client, nor can they be looked upon in the eye of the law as separate from each other. Now, when the sinner is brought to the bench, Jesus appears there Himself. He stands to answer the accusation. He points to His side, His hands, His feet, and challenges Justice to bring anything against the sinners whom He represents. He pleads His blood, and pleads so triumphantly, being numbered with them and having a part with them, that the Judge proclaims, “Let them go, deliver them from the pit, for He has provided a ransom.”

Our Lord Jesus was numbered with the transgressors in order that they might feel their hearts drawn toward Him. Who can be afraid of one whose name appears on the same list with us? Surely we may come boldly to Him and confess our guilt. He who is numbered with us cannot condemn us. Was He not entered in the transgressor’s list that we might be written in the red roll of the saints? He was holy and written among the holy; we were guilty and numbered among the guilty. He transfers His name from that list to this dark indictment, and our names are taken from the indictment and written in the roll of acceptance, for there is a complete transfer made between Jesus and His people.

All our condition of misery and sin Jesus has taken; and all that Jesus has comes to us. His righteousness, His blood, and everything that He has He gives us as our dowry. Rejoice, believer, in your union to Him who was numbered among the transgressors; and prove that you are truly saved by being clearly identified with those who are new creatures in Him.

John MacArthur – Avoiding Temptations

 

“Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6:13).

When we hear the English word temptation, we usually think of a solicitation to evil. But “temptation” in Matthew 6:13 translates a Greek word that can refer either to a trial that God permits to refine your spiritual character (James 1:2-4), or a temptation that Satan or your flesh brings to incite you to sin (Matt. 4:1; James 1:13- 15). Both are valid translations.

I believe “temptation” in Matthew 6:13 refers to trials. Even though we know God uses trials for our good, it’s still good to pray that He won’t allow us to be caught in a trial that becomes an irresistible temptation. That can happen if we’re spiritually weak or ill-prepared to deal with a situation.

God will never test you beyond what you’re able to endure (1 Cor. 10:13), but resisting temptation requires spiritual discipline and divine resources. Praying for God to deliver you from trials that might overcome you is a safeguard against leaning on your own strength and neglecting His power.

God tested Joseph by allowing him to be sold into slavery by his brothers, falsely accused by an adulterous woman, and unjustly imprisoned by a jealous husband. But Joseph knew that God’s hand was on his life. That’s why he could say to his brothers, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to . . . preserve many people” (Gen. 50:20). Joseph was ready for the test and passed it beautifully!

Jesus Himself was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Matt. 4:1). God wanted to test Him to prove His virtue, but Satan wanted to tempt Him to destroy His virtue. Jesus, too, was victorious.

When you experience trials, don’t let them turn into temptations. Recognize God’s purposes and seek His strength. Learn from the example of those who have successfully endured the same trials. Be assured that God is in control and is using each trial to mold your character and teach you greater dependence on Him.

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for the trials He brings your way.

Ask Him to help you see your trials as means by which He strengthens you and glorifies Himself.

For Further Study: Read Psalm 119:11, Matthew 26:41, Ephesians 6:10-18, and James 4:7. What do those verses teach you about dealing with temptation?

Joyce Meyer – Seek to Do Good

 

See that none of you repays another with evil for evil, but always aim to show kindness and seek to do good to one another and to everybody. —1 Thessalonians 5:15

The Bible is filled with instructions for us to be active. The direction to be active instead of passive is rather simple, but millions of people totally ignore it. Maybe they think things will get better on their own. But nothing good happens accidentally. Once I learned that, my life changed for the better.

The Bible says we are to seek to be kind and good (see 1 Thess. 5:15). Seek is a strong word meaning “to crave, pursue, and go after.” If we seek opportunities, we are sure to find them and that will protect us from being idle and unfruitful. We must ask ourselves if we are alert and active or passive and inactive? God is alert and active! I am glad He is; otherwise, things in our lives would deteriorate rapidly. God not only created the world and everything we see and enjoy in it, He also actively maintains it because He knows that good things do not simply occur; they happen as a result of right action (see Heb. 1:3).

God-inspired, balanced activity keeps us from being idle and unfruitful and thereby serves as a protection for us. Actively doing right things continuously will prevent us from doing wrong things.

Trust in Him: Are you pursuing goodness and kindness? Be alert and active, trusting God to inspire right action in your life while you seek to be kind and good.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Rivers of Living Water

 

“For the Scriptures declare that rivers of living water shall flow from the inmost being of anyone who believes in me” (John 7:38).

I was explaining to a group of Christians the meaning of Proverbs 15:13-15, “A happy face means a glad heart, a sad face means a breaking heart. When a man is gloomy, everything seems to go wrong and when he is cheerful everything seems to go right.”

God’s Word reminds us that the source of joy is the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 1:6). So if a man is filled with the Spirit, he will have a joyful heart. When we are filled with the Spirit, we will express love by singing and making melody in our hearts to the Lord. A happy heart will inevitably produce a joyful countenance (Ephesians 5:18-21).

If we do not have a joyful, peaceful countenance, there is reason to question whether we have a loving, joyful heart. And if we do not have a loving, joyful heart, it is not likely that we are filled with the Spirit.

One Christian leader, who had heard me speak, approached me later. He just happened to have a very somber, stern countenance. He explained to me that this was a new concept to him, and since he was reared in another culture, he felt that his somber countenance was a cultural thing.

“In our part of the world [the Middle East],” he said, “we don’t smile and express ourselves like American Christians.”

Together we analyzed the Scripture and concluded that culture has nothing to do with this truth, since Jesus, Paul and other writers of the New Testament were also born in the Middle East. If we truly understand the Spirit-filled life, whatever our cultural background, the joy of the Lord will flow from us – from our “innermost being shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38, NAS).

Bible Reading: John 7:33-37

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Recognizing love, joy and peace as trademarks of the Spirit-filled life, I will consciously seek to be Spirit-controlled so that these expressions will be a natural overflow of my life. I will teach this spiritual truth to others today.

Presidential Prayer Team; J.R. – No Comparison

 

Coming back from the dead makes for a compelling story. Recent bestsellers provide riveting reports of people who were clinically dead but saw Jesus – or heaven or something like it – and then were brought back to life under unusual or miraculous circumstances. Many believe in these accounts wholeheartedly. Others are skeptical. And some think they are complete nonsense.

Born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I Peter 1:3

Whatever your view on these stories, no account can compare to the resurrection of Christ. Not only was Jesus dead in His tomb for three days, Scripture also tells you He also carried with Him into death the sin of all mankind. Christ was crushed by the weight of every evil deed, from the littlest white lie to the greatest mass murder – committed throughout history. And yet the Spirit of God reached into the tomb and brought Him back from the dead. Think of the kind of supernatural power it would take to do that…and then think about the marvelous fact that you received that same power when you were born again.

Today, pray for America’s leaders to know the power of His resurrection, and ask God to make you a worthy illustration to others of His living hope through your own life.

Recommended Reading: Colossians 1:21-29

Charles Stanley – Destined for the Cross

 

Romans 6:8-11

When you saw the title for today’s devotion, I imagine that you thought it was about Jesus. If so, you’re half right. The cross is always about Jesus, but believers are also destined for sacrifice and death.

“Death to self” happens at the moment of salvation, when we are crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:6). The old self dies, and we are given a new nature as the Holy Spirit comes to live within us (John 14:17). At times it takes a bit longer to get to the sacrifice—the moment when we hand over to God everything we love and value.

God doesn’t stop at salvation; His purpose is to conform believers to the likeness of His Son (Rom. 8:29). So He gives us a new nature—then we can experience freedom because Jesus has triumphed over sin. But in order to live as God intends, we must be willing to give Christ the centermost position in our lives. As a result, the Lord calls us to the cross on a daily basis to lay down the things that might distract us from our purpose to serve and follow Him.

Don’t misunderstand what it means to be destined for the cross. God isn’t going to take away everything and leave us as lonely paupers. Putting our valuables on the cross—whether they are possessions, people, or dreams—frees us from the attachments of this world.

When we lay down worldly attachments, our self-esteem isn’t tied to “stuff” and our sense of acceptance doesn’t come from people. We are complete in the Lord. Or as Paul said, we are “alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11). Enjoying a new life in Christ is worth a daily trip to the cross.

Our Daily Bread – Shout Of Triumph

 

John 19:30

Recently I read about Aron Ralston, a hiker who was trapped alone at the bottom of a remote canyon. With scant hope of being found and his strength ebbing away, he had to take drastic measures to save his life. During a moment of excruciating pain, he shouted in agony and in victory, because he had freed himself and now had a chance to escape and live.

Those who witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus saw His hours of agony and heard Him cry out in a loud voice, “It is finished!” as He gave up His spirit (John 19:30). His final words from the cross were not a cry of painful defeat but a shout of triumph, because He had accomplished all that the Father sent Him to do.

When Jesus died, He shared in what all of us must experience. But far beyond that, He did what none of us can do. He paid the price for our sins that we might be forgiven and have eternal life through faith in Him.

“It is finished!” was the Lord’s shout of victory because now, through Him, we can escape the power of sin; we can live and be free.

Because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, we call the day of His death Good Friday.

I have been to the cross where my Savior died,

And all of my life is made new—

In the person of Him I am crucified.

I have been to the cross. Have you?

—Helen Frazee-Bower © 1956 Helen Frazee-Bower

Jesus died that we might live.

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he

suffered.” / Hebrews 5:8

We are told that the Captain of our salvation was made perfect through  suffering, therefore we who are sinful, and who are far from being perfect,  must not wonder if we are called to pass through suffering too. Shall the head  be crowned with thorns, and shall the other members of the body be rocked upon  the dainty lap of ease? Must Christ pass through seas of his own blood to win  the crown, and are we to walk to heaven dryshod in silver slippers? No, our  Master’s experience teaches us that suffering is necessary, and the true-born  child of God must not, would not, escape it if he might. But there is one very  comforting thought in the fact of Christ’s “being made perfect through  suffering”–it is, that he can have complete sympathy with us. “He is not an  high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” In  this sympathy of Christ we find a sustaining power. One of the early martyrs  said, “I can bear it all, for Jesus suffered, and he suffers in me now; he  sympathizes with me, and this makes me strong.” Believer, lay hold of this  thought in all times of agony. Let the thought of Jesus strengthen you as you  follow in his steps. Find a sweet support in his sympathy; and remember that,  to suffer is an honourable thing–to suffer for Christ is glory. The apostles  rejoiced that they were counted worthy to do this. Just so far as the Lord  shall give us grace to suffer for Christ, to suffer with Christ, just so far  does he honour us. The jewels of a Christian are his afflictions. The regalia  of the kings whom God hath anointed are their troubles, their sorrows, and  their griefs. Let us not, therefore, shun being honoured. Let us not turn  aside from being exalted. Griefs exalt us, and troubles lift us up. “If we  suffer, we shall also reign with him.”

 

 

Evening  “I called him, but he gave me no answer.” / Song of Solomon 5:6

Prayer sometimes tarrieth, like a petitioner at the gate, until the King  cometh forth to fill her bosom with the blessings which she seeketh. The Lord,  when he hath given great faith, has been known to try it by long delayings. He  has suffered his servants’ voices to echo in their ears as from a brazen sky.  They have knocked at the golden gate, but it has remained immovable, as though  it were rusted upon its hinges. Like Jeremiah, they have cried, “Thou hast  covered thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through.” Thus  have true saints continued long in patient waiting without reply, not because  their prayers were not vehement, nor because they were unaccepted, but because  it so pleased him who is a Sovereign, and who gives according to his own  pleasure. If it pleases him to bid our patience exercise itself, shall he not  do as he wills with his own! Beggars must not be choosers either as to time,  place, or form. But we must be careful not to take delays in prayer for  denials: God’s long-dated bills will be punctually honoured; we must not  suffer Satan to shake our confidence in the God of truth by pointing to our  unanswered prayers. Unanswered petitions are not unheard. God keeps a file for  our prayers–they are not blown away by the wind, they are treasured in the  King’s archives. This is a registry in the court of heaven wherein every  prayer is recorded. Tried believer, thy Lord hath a tear-bottle in which the  costly drops of sacred grief are put away, and a book in which thy holy  groanings are numbered. By and by, thy suit shall prevail. Canst thou not be  content to wait a little? Will not thy Lord’s time be better than thy time? By  and by he will comfortably appear, to thy soul’s joy, and make thee put away  the sackcloth and ashes of long waiting, and put on the scarlet and fine linen  of full fruition.