Tag Archives: church

The Empowering Emotion of Joy – Charles Stanley

 

John 15:9-17

Jesus promised us His joy. However, such gladness evades most Christians.

There are certain important points that we must understand about joy. This gift to every believer in Christ has a spiritual source—the Holy Spirit—and is produced from within by Him. Since divine joy is supernatural, it exists independently of our circumstances. In contrast, happiness comes from external causes, is earthly in nature, and increases or decreases as events change. Recognition by others, completion of a project, and a favorite team’s win all represent sources of earthly happiness.

Joy will emanate from the Holy Spirit as we . . .

• Focus on our relationship with Jesus. Because of the Lord, our sins are forgiven, our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and we are forever His. Nothing can separate us from Him now or in eternity.

• See His transforming work in others. Notice and draw pleasure from what God is doing: rescuing people from bondage to sin and conforming them to His Son’s likeness.

• Serve those He sends to us. Obedient, loving care for others brings spiritual joy.

• Meditate on God’s Word. Through Scripture, we receive an outpouring of His love and precious truths on which to build our lives.

The Holy Spirit desires to produce His gladness within you. Take a few minutes to ponder the wonder of your new birth, share someone’s spiritual joy, serve as God directs, or receive guidance from His Word. Then check your emotional barometer. Are you singing hallelujah yet?

 

Our Daily Bread — Jars of Clay

 

2 Corinthians 4:7-15

We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. —2 Corinthians 4:7

When you buy a nice piece of jewelry, it is often tucked into a setting of black- or dark-colored velvet. I think it’s designed that way so that your attention is immediately drawn to the beauty of the jewelry. If the packaging were highly decorated, it would compete with the beauty of the treasure.

It reminds me of Paul’s comments about the ministry of Jesus through us, when he said, “We have this treasure in jars of clay” (2 Cor. 4:7 niv). It’s easy to forget that we are the packaging and His work is the treasure. So we adorn our jars of clay, taking credit for the things we do to serve Christ. We seek to bring glory to ourselves when we’ve forgiven someone, or shown mercy, or given generously. The problem is, when we start seeking affirmation and praise for good deeds, we compete with the brilliance of the treasure of God working through us.

When we do things for Christ, it’s not about us but about His glory. The less obvious we are, the more brilliant He becomes. Which is why, Paul says, the treasure has been put in jars of clay so that God would be the one to be glorified. Besides, since when are jars of clay significant? It’s what’s inside that counts! —Joe Stowell

Help us not to cloud God’s glory

Nor with self His light to dim;

May each thought to Christ be captive,

Emptied to be filled with Him. —Anon.

 

Let the brilliance of the treasure of Christ shine through you as you live for Him.

 

Absurdity and the Cross – Ravi Zacharias Ministry

 

Doubt everything, find your own light.(1) So recommends the Buddha in his last words. It sounds like good advice, but then the human heart invariably presses on to doubt itself! After all, what kind of assurance can we have that this light is real light or true? The hunger for meaning, the quest for understanding, the search for answers and solutions are central features of the human condition.

For instance, what is the nature of reality? What is existence all about? What is the purpose of life, if any, and what should we try to give answers to? A much-neglected resource for reflection in this area is the book of Ecclesiastes, from the preacher, or Qoheleth in Hebrew. It is a book that speaks profoundly to our times by asking questions, by setting out contradictions, and by forcing the reader to feel what absurdity as an outlook is really like.

As the book opens, we are confronted with its most famous words, “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity and a striving after wind.” Or in another translation of Ecclesiastes 1:2: “‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher, ‘Utterly Meaningless! Everything is meaningless.’” Not a very inspiring start! He has devoted himself to explore life, to examine what is good for humanity to do under the sun, and his observations have yielded some depressing results:  Everything in life seems to be bound by inevitability. Human freedom appears to be constrained by overwhelming necessities, leading to a sense of helplessness. And the endless cycle of repetition leads to a sense of boredom, pointlessness, and despair.

Many a sage, philosopher, and guru have come to similar conclusions. What is unique to Ecclesiastes is how the author tackles the issues and what he leads us to see. By laying out the vanities of life, the propensities of youth, the all-encompassing reach of death, and the vast urgency of wisdom as a potential life-philosophy, he engages a chaotic world with some serious reflections. The writer takes us on a journey through life, and he deals with the questions and exasperations that we all inevitably encounter. His own desire was to try and figure things out so he could live well and be content, and encourage others to do the same. He likely hoped to discover the key or missing ingredient, the clues to true and lasting success and happiness.

Instead, the world he begins to see is one that displays both good and bad at the same time. He sees the superiority of wisdom, yet even the wise are reduced by death. He sees injustice being done and oppressors prevailing, yet he also notes there is a higher justice. He cites the sayings and actions of wise people but then goes on to point out how quickly they are forgotten! It is the tone that wears on us. We see ambiguity and fuzziness, a mixture of pain and problems, food, friends, wisdom, and a spiritual hunger. These things all dwell in the same world at the same time, and this is a difficult reality for many of us to digest. Like Qoheleth, we want better answers, tidier analysis, more comforting visions—and we have them, but not here, in doubt and darkness.

Qoheleth shows us the futility of life without God. He makes us feel what life is like from an honest look at how things truly are. He gives us a severe picture of reality and suggests that God is still worth seeking somewhere in the midst of it. Even prior to the coming of the Messiah, Qoheleth paints our stark need for the God who is there.

While the world as we know it is indeed disordered and damaged, and to find answers in the world itself is absurd, God does not abandon us to absurdity. Into this world, into its pain and confusion, God, too, became flesh and dwelt among us. And it ended for Jesus as tragically as anything we observe under the sun. He went to the cross with the full force of every ugly, honest reality of Ecclesiastes on his shoulders. And he stood with us in that darkness, giving us an equally severe image of a God worth seeking in the midst of it.

Stuart McAllister is vice president of training and special projects at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) Terry Breverton, Immortal Words: History’s Most Memorable Quotations and the Stories Behind Them (London: Quercus Publishing Place, 2009), 13.

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning  “He hath said.” / Hebrews 13:5

If we can only grasp these words by faith, we have an all-conquering weapon in our hand. What doubt will not be slain by this two-edged sword? What fear is there which shall not fall smitten with a deadly wound before this arrow from the bow of God’s covenant? Will not the distresses of life and the pangs of death; will not the corruptions within, and the snares without; will not the trials from above, and the temptations from beneath, all seem but light afflictions, when we can hide ourselves beneath the bulwark of “He hath said”? Yes; whether for delight in our quietude, or for strength in our conflict, “He hath said” must be our daily resort. And this may teach us the extreme value of searching the Scriptures. There may be a promise in the Word which would exactly fit your case, but you may not know of it, and therefore you miss its comfort. You are like prisoners in a dungeon, and there may be one key in the bunch which would unlock the door, and you might be free; but if you will not look for it, you may remain a prisoner still, though liberty is so near at hand. There may be a potent medicine in the great pharmacopoeia of Scripture, and you may yet continue sick unless you will examine and search the Scriptures to discover what “He hath said.” Should you not, besides reading the Bible, store your memories richly with the promises of God? You can recollect the sayings of great men; you treasure up the verses of renowned poets; ought you not to be profound in your knowledge of the words of God, so that you may be able to quote them readily when you would solve a difficulty, or overthrow a doubt? Since “He hath said” is the source of all wisdom, and the fountain of all comfort, let it dwell in you richly, as “A well of water, springing up unto everlasting life.” So shall you grow healthy, strong, and happy in the divine life.

 

Evening  “Understandest thou what thou readest?” / Acts 8:30

We should be abler teachers of others, and less liable to be carried about by every wind of doctrine, if we sought to have a more intelligent understanding of the Word of God. As the Holy Ghost, the Author of the Scriptures is he who alone can enlighten us rightly to understand them, we should constantly ask his teaching, and his guidance into all truth. When the prophet Daniel would interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, what did he do? He set himself to earnest prayer that God would open up the vision. The apostle John, in his vision at Patmos, saw a book sealed with seven seals which none was found worthy to open, or so much as to look upon. The book was afterwards opened by the Lion of the tribe of Judah, who had prevailed to open it; but it is written first–“I wept much.” The tears of John, which were his liquid prayers, were, so far as he was concerned, the sacred keys by which the folded book was opened. Therefore, if, for your own and others’ profiting, you desire to be “filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding,” remember that prayer is your best means of study: like Daniel, you shall understand the dream, and the interpretation thereof, when you have sought unto God; and like John you shall see the seven seals of precious truth unloosed, after you have wept much. Stones are not broken, except by an earnest use of the hammer; and the stone-breaker must go down on his knees. Use the hammer of diligence, and let the knee of prayer be exercised, and there is not a stony doctrine in revelation which is useful for you to understand, which will not fly into shivers under the exercise of prayer and faith. You may force your way through anything with the leverage of prayer. Thoughts and reasonings are like the steel wedges which give a hold upon truth; but prayer is the lever, the prise which forces open the iron chest of sacred mystery, that we may get the treasure hidden within.

Maintaining Spiritual Integrity – John MacArthur

 

“In order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ” (Phil. 1:10).

In our society, those whose lives are marked by moral soundness, uprightness, honesty, and sincerity are usually thought of as people of integrity. However, society’s standards often fall far short of God’s. Spiritual integrity calls for the highest possible standard of behavior and requires supernatural resources available only to those who trust in Him.

Paul’s prayer in Philippians 1:9-10 outlines the path to spiritual integrity. It begins with love that abounds with knowledge and discernment (v. 9) and progresses to the pursuit of excellence (v. 10). The result is sincerity and blamelessness–two characteristics of godly integrity.

The Greek word translated “sincere” in verse 10 speaks of genuineness and authenticity. It literally means “without wax” and is an allusion to the practice of inspecting pottery by holding it up to the sunlight. In ancient times pottery often cracked during the firing process. Rather than discarding cracked pieces, dishonest dealers often filled the cracks with wax and sold them to unsuspecting customers. Holding a pot up to the sunlight revealed any flaws and protected the customer from a bad purchase.

Following that analogy, biblical integrity requires that you be without wax, having no hypocrisy or secret sins that show up when you’re under pressure or facing temptation.

“Blameless” speaks of consistency in living a life that doesn’t lead others into error or sin. Your standard is the same away from church as it is at church.

Being blameless isn’t easy in a world that unashamedly flaunts its sinful practices. You must guard against losing your sensitivity to the heinousness of sin and unwittingly beginning to tolerate or even accept the sin that once shocked you. That’s when you lose integrity and begin to cause others to stumble.

Diligently pursue integrity with a view toward glorifying Christ in all things until He returns.

Suggestions for Prayer:   Thank God that He is able to keep you from stumbling and to make you stand in His presence blameless with great joy (Jude 24).

Prayerfully guard your heart and mind from the subtle evil influences that can erode your integrity and make you ineffective for the Lord.

For Further Study: Read Genesis 39.

How was Joseph’s integrity challenged?

How did God honor Joseph’s commitment to integrity?

For Righteousness’ Sake – Greg Laurie

 

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

—Matthew 5:10

The great preacher John Wesley was riding along on his horse one day when he realized that three days had passed, and he had not been persecuted in any way. Not a single brick had been thrown in his direction. He had not been hit by an egg. So he actually stopped his horse and said out loud, “Could it be that I am backslidden or I have sinned?” Slipping down from his horse, he knelt on one knee and asked the Lord to show him if there was anything wrong with him spiritually.

A man who disliked Wesley saw him kneeling in prayer, so he picked up a brick and threw it at him, barely missing the preacher. When Wesley saw the brick fly by, he said, “Thank you, Lord! I know I still have Your presence.”

No wonder he was such a powerful preacher.

Your very presence and belief in God bothers some people. Sometimes you don’t even have to say anything. You are like a bright light, shining in a dark place. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18). You will be treated the same way Jesus was.

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10). Sometimes persecution can show itself in a brick coming our way or in physical harm, even death. At other times, it can show itself in mockery or rejection or losing a job or friends. But if you are living a godly life, then you will face persecution.

Our Daily Bread — Rerouting . . . Rerouting

 

Proverbs 3:1-8

In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. —Proverbs 3:6

Don’t worry. I know right where I’m going,” I said to my passengers. Then an almost-human voice ratted me out: “Rerouting . . . rerouting.” Now everyone knew I was lost!

These days, millions of drivers recognize those words, or others like them, as a sign they’ve gone off track or missed a turn. The GPS device not only recognizes when a driver is off course, but immediately begins plotting a new path to get back on track.

Sometimes followers of Jesus need help to get back on track spiritually. We may intentionally veer off course because we think we know best, or drift away slowly, failing to notice we’re moving further and further from the walk God wants with us.

God has not left us on our own, however. He has given all believers the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17; 1 Cor. 3:16), who convicts us of our sin (John 16:8,13). When we’re going off course, He sounds the alarm and triggers our conscience (Gal. 5:16-25). We may ignore the warning, but we do so to our own detriment (Isa. 63:10; Gal. 6:8).

What comfort to know that God is at work in our lives through the convicting work of the Holy Spirit! (Rom. 8:26-27). With God’s help and guidance, we can continue on a path that is pleasing to Him. —Randy Kilgore

Holy Spirit, we would hear

Your inner promptings, soft and clear;

And help us know Your still, small voice

So we may make God’s will our choice. —D. DeHaan

 

We’re never without a helper, because we have the Spirit within.

 

From Worship to War – Greg Laurie

 

Not finding them there, they dragged out Jason and some of the other believers instead and took them before the city council. “Paul and Silas have caused trouble all over the world,” they shouted, “and now they are here disturbing our city, too.”—Acts 17:6

Wherever the apostle Paul went, something was happening. Usually it was either a conversion or a riot. But there seldom was a dull moment.

In Acts 14, we find Paul and Barnabas in Lystra, preaching to people who turned from worship to war. The Greek culture was filled with many gods. And there was a tradition in Lystra that the gods Zeus and Hermes once came to earth, incognito. When they arrived in Lystra, they asked for food and lodging, but everyone refused them. Finally, an old peasant took in these two gods, and all the inhospitable neighbors were drowned in a flood that was sent by the vengeful gods. The peasant and his wife were blessed by their gods, and their humble cottage was turned into a great temple. After their deaths, they were turned into two stately trees.

This was folklore, but the people believed it. So when Paul and Barnabas came along, and God was performing miracles through them, the people thought Zeus and Hermes had returned. So they began to worship them.

But their worship turned to war: “Then some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowds to their side. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of town, thinking he was dead. But as the believers gathered around him, he got up and went back into the town. The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe” (Acts 14:19–20).

G. Campbell Morgan said, “Organized Christianity that fails to make a disturbance is dead.”

I think sometimes that instead of our turning the world upside down, the world is turning us upside down. Instead of us impacting our culture, our culture is impacting us. What we need more of today is a holy disturbance. And if we are not making a disturbance, then something isn’t right.

 

Our Daily Bread — Gifted To Serve

 

Romans 12:3-13

There are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. —1 Corinthians 12:6

It occurred to me one day that my right foot does all the pedal work when I’m driving my automatic transmission car. It alone works the accelerator and the brake. The left foot is idle. What happens if I decide that to be equitable, my left foot ought to replace my right foot half the time when I am driving? If you have never done so, please don’t try it!

If we don’t require such equality of the members of our own body, why is it that we sometimes expect it of people in the church? That seems to be an issue that the first-century church at Rome faced. Some were thinking more highly of themselves than they ought (Rom. 12:3) just because they were doing some things others were not doing. But Paul reminds us that “all members do not have the same function” (v.4). We’ve been gifted according to God’s grace (v.6). He gave us those gifts to serve others, not ourselves (vv.6-13). Our service is to be marked by diligence and fervor, for we are serving the Lord, not man (v.11).

So, let’s not look over our shoulders to see what others are doing or not doing. Look at how God may be able to use you in His kingdom today. He has gifted you just as He has pleased (v.3). —C. P. Hia

 

Lord, lead me today as You see best. Use the gifts You

have given me to encourage others on their journey.

Help me not to compare myself with others

but to be content with who You have made me to be.

 

We can’t all play the same part in God’s band of service, but we should all play in harmony.

Journey of Dust – Ravi Zacharias Ministry

 

I walked through the neatly laid stones, each row like another line in a massive book. My eyes strained to take in all of the information—name, age, rank, country—and perhaps also death itself, the fragility of life, the harsh reality of war. In that field of graves, a war memorial for men lost as prisoners of war, slaves laboring to construct the Burma-Siam railway, I felt as the psalmist: “laid low in the dust.” Or like Job sitting among the dust and ashes of a great tragedy. Then one stone stopped my wandering and said what I could not. On an epitaph in the middle of the cemetery was written: “There shall be in that great earth, a richer dust concealed.”(1)

It is helpful, I think, to be reminded that we are dust. It seems crucial to take this reminder with us as we move through life—through successes, disappointments, surprises, distractions, tragedy. For Christians, it is also a truth to help us the vast and terrible events of Holy Week. The season of Lent, the forty days in which the church prepares to encounter the events of Easter, thankfully begins with the ashes of Ash Wednesday. On this day, foreheads are marked with a bold and ashen cross of dust, recalling both our history and our future, invoking repentance, inciting stares. Marked with the Cross, we are Christ’s own: pilgrims on a journey that proclaims death and resurrection all at once. The journey through Lent into the light and darkness of Holy Week is for those made in dust who will return to dust, those willing to trace the breath that began all of life to the place where Christ breathed his last. It is a journey that expends everything within us.

There is a Latin word that was once used to denote the provisions necessary for a person going on a long journey—the clothes, food, and money the traveler would need along the way. Viaticum was a word often used by Roman magistrates. It was the payment or goods given to those who were sent into the provinces to exercise an office or perform a service. The viaticum was vital provision for an uncertain journey. Fittingly, the early church employed this image to speak of the Eucharist when it was administered to a dying person. The viaticum, the bread of one’s last Communion, was seen as sustenance for Christians on their way from this world into another. Sometime later, the word was used not only to describe a last Communion, but as the Sacrament of Communion for all people. It is as if to say: our communion with Christ within world is provision for the way home. The viaticum is God’s answer to Jacob’s vow, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s house, then the LORD will be my God.”(2) It is precisely what Christ offered when he said, “Take and eat. This is my body.” The journey from dust to dust and back to the Father’s house would be far too great without it.

The world of humanity is flattened by the realities of death and sorrow. From the invitation to consume Christ’s body and blood in the Last Supper to the desolation of that body on the Cross, we are undone by events that began before us and will continue long we are gone. We are, in the words of Isaiah or the sentiments of the psalmist, like grass that withers, flowers that blow away like dust. But so we are, in this great earth, a richer dust concealed. Walking in cemeteries we realize this; following Christ we can proclaim it. Walking through Lent as dust and ashes bids us to see our need for God’s unchanging provision. God offers us the Cross for the journey, the communion of Christ, the forgiveness of sins, and the life everlasting.

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

(1) This is a line from a poem of Rupert Brookes entitled “1914.”

(2) Genesis 28:20-22.

Our Daily Bread — The Best Life

 

John 1:35-42

[Andrew] first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah.” —John 1:41

A few months ago, I had to travel to Florida and back on business. On my flight home, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had a seat with lots of leg room. It felt so good not to be scrunched into a small area. Plus, I had an empty seat beside me! The makings of a good nap.

Then I remembered those around me in their not-as-comfortable seats. I invited several others I knew to join me in a better spot but was surprised they all wanted to stay in their own seats for various reasons: They didn’t want to be inconvenienced with a move or felt fine where they were.

As believers in Christ, we have a much more significant invitation to extend: We’ve received a new life of faith in Jesus and want others to experience it too. Some will want to do so, and others won’t. In John 1:40 we read that Andrew had begun to follow Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and invite him to meet Jesus, the Messiah, too (v.41). Jesus offered them a wonderful new way of life of knowing Him and enjoying His promises: His forgiveness (Rom. 3:24), continual presence (Heb. 13:5), hope (Rom. 15:13), peace (John 14:27), and a forever future in His presence (1 Thess. 4:17).

Won’t you join in? Jesus gives the best life. —Anne Cetas

If we commit ourselves to Christ

And follow in His way,

He’ll give us life that satisfies

With purpose for each day. —Sper

 

If you want someone to know what Christ will do for him, let him see what Christ has done for you.

 

Misplaced Priorities – Greg Laurie

 

Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers. —Philemon 1:23–24

Imagine what an honor it would have been to know you were mentioned in one of Paul’s epistles. In his letter to Philemon, the apostle wrote, “Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers” (Philemon 1:23–24).

I think it would be tempting to bring up that little detail in conversation: Hi, my name is Aristarchus. You may have heard of me from one of Paul’s epistles. . . .

One of the people Paul mentioned was Demas, whose name appeared not only in one epistle, but two. The bad news is the second mention was about his apostasy. Something had happened to Demas in the time between Paul’s letter to Philemon and his second letter to Timothy, because we read, “For Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica . . .” (2 Timothy 4:10). In other words, Hey, remember Demas? Yeah . . . well, he is not with me anymore. The reason? Demas “loved this present world.”

That is why the Bible says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world” (1 John 2:15–16).

There is nothing wrong with being blessed by God with things like a nice home or a good career. In fact, the Bible tells us that God “gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). But if those things have become the most important to you—more important than God Himself—then that is a problem, my friend.

The Joy of Spiritual Unity – John MacArthur

 

“To the saints . . . including the overseers and deacons” (Phil. 1:1).

Paul’s salutation includes the “overseers and deacons” at Philippi. That probably is not a reference to elders and deacons as we know them, but a general reference to all the Philippian saints, which included spiritual leaders (overseers) and those who followed (servants).

That implies unity and submission within the church, which brings joy to leaders and followers alike. Hebrews 13:17 emphasizes that point: “Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”

Spiritual leadership is a sacred responsibility. Leaders are to lead, feed, and guard the flock of God, which Christ purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28). They are accountable to God Himself for the faithful discharge of their duties.

You have a sacred responsibility as well: to obey and submit to your leaders. Hebrews 13:7 says, “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.” Paul adds in 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13, “Appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and . . . esteem them very highly in love because of their work.”

Sadly, our society encourages criticism and mistrust of anyone in authority. Verbal assaults and character assassinations are common. Many within the church have adopted that attitude toward their spiritual leaders, whom they view as functionaries or paid professionals. Consequently many churches today are weak and ineffective from disunity and strife. Many pastors suffer untold grief from disobedient and ungrateful people.

You must never succumb to that mentality. Your leaders deserve your appreciation and esteem not because they are exceptionally talented or have winsome personalities, but because of the sacred work God called them to do.

Your godly attitude toward spiritual leaders will contribute immeasurably to unity and harmony within your church and will allow your leaders to minister with joy, not grief.

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for your spiritual leaders. Pray for them and encourage them often.

For Further Study: Read 1 Corinthians 9:3-14.

What right was Paul discussing?

What illustrations did he use?

No Other Foundation – Greg Laurie

 

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have —Jesus Christ—1 Corinthians 3:11

How is it that someone could appear to be radically converted and so passionate about their new faith and then, without warning, suddenly give up and walk away?

I have met people who were emotional about Jesus and fired up about their faith, only to later fall into gross sin. What happened? I think they really never were rooted in Christ. Some people are just impulsive by nature. They are always into the latest fad. Whatever gets their attention, that is what they want to be into.

Case in point: exercise equipment. Just walk though a neighborhood on a Saturday afternoon when people have their garage doors open. See all of those exercise machines? How many times have you actually seen someone working out on one of them? Instead, there are usually things hanging on them. Someone decided they were going to get into shape, but their enthusiasm didn’t stand the test of time.

That is what happens with some people who make a commitment to Christ. They may be excited in the beginning, but it doesn’t stand the test of time. One possible explanation is they put their faith on the wrong foundation.

Maybe they decided to follow Christ because their friends did. Or maybe they put their faith in a certain church, and they found out that it wasn’t perfect, that it was filled with flawed people like them. Perhaps some pastor didn’t measure up to their expectations. Whatever the problem was, they didn’t build their foundation on Christ. The Bible tells us, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11).

This is the only foundation that will sustain us as Christians—not a person, not a preacher, not a church, but Jesus Christ.

The Requirements of Servanthood – Charles Stanley

 

Luke 19:1-10

Over time believers should become increasingly like Christ. We’re never more like Him than when we are selflessly reaching out to meet somebody else’s needs.

As servants, we need to incorporate the following into our lives:

• Awareness. Jesus stopped under the sycamore tree because He was aware that Zaccheus was up there. How many needy people are “hiding in trees” while you walk by them without looking up?

• Availability. On spotting the tax collector, Jesus didn’t make an appointment to go see him a few weeks later. Being available was such a priority that He dropped whatever agenda He may have had and went right to Zaccheus’s house.

• Acceptance. Jesus did not wait until Zaccheus got cleaned up and straightened out his life. The Lord accepted him just as he was. We must never forget how Jesus embraced us, filthy rags and all.

• Abiding. When we are saved, we become grafted into the vine of Jesus Christ. Abiding in Him is the only way to find the resources to serve other people in the way that they need to be served.

• Abandonment. God calls us to abandon our selfish desires. Only in leaving behind self-seeking ways will we be free to truly serve others.

Jesus came, not as a superstar to be served, but as a servant who would give His life as a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28). He tells us to go and do likewise. When we’ve received Him as Savior and then yield to Him as Lord, our lives become a living expression of the One who came to be a servant to all.

 

When We Say Yes – Greg Laurie

 

Then he invited them in and lodged them. On the next day Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him.   —Acts 10:23

Sometimes when we share the gospel, people don’t want to hear it. I have had many situations like that when I got up to speak somewhere. I could see it on the faces looking back at me, as if they were saying, “What are you going to tell me?”

But then there are times when people are receptive and responsive and drink in every word.

That is what we find in Acts 10, when Cornelius and his friends and family had gathered to hear Peter speak to them. Peter gave them a classic gospel presentation. He reviewed the life of Jesus (verse 38). He spoke of His death and His resurrection (verses 39–41), telling everyone that He will return as Judge (verse 42). Then Peter offered salvation through Christ. And notice that Peter got the memo about it being for both Jews and non-Jews: “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins” (verse 43).

This single sermon of Peter’s changed church history. And I find it interesting that it all started in a place called Joppa. Remember Jonah? He was connected to Joppa too. When God told him to take the gospel to the people of Nineveh, Jonah boarded a ship in Joppa that was sailing in the opposite direction.

So Joppa was the place Jonah went to get away from God, but it is also the place where Peter answered God’s call to go to Caesarea and reach some Gentiles.

In contrast to Jonah, who didn’t really want to go to his enemies, we have Peter, who was willing to go. If Peter had said, “Never, Lord!” that could have been the end of it. But he responded to God’s call.

Where is God calling you to go today?

Holiness – Max Lucado

 

John the Baptist would never get hired today. No church would touch him.  He was a public relations disaster.

Mark 1:6 says he “wore clothes of camel’s hair and ate locusts and wild honey.”

His message was as rough as his dress. A no-nonsense, bare-fisted challenge to repent because God was on His way.  No, John’s style wasn’t smooth. He made few friends and lots of enemies, but what do you know?  He made hundreds of converts. How do you explain it?  It certainly wasn’t his charisma, nor his money or position—for he had neither.  Then what did he have?  One word:  Holiness.

Holiness seeks to be like God. You want to make a difference in your world?  Live a holy life.  Be faithful to your spouse. Pay your bills. Be the employee who does the work and doesn’t complain. Don’t speak one message and live another!  Just be God in your world.

“…as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (I Peter 1:15-16)

Shattering Fear with Truth – Charles Stanley

 

Joshua 1:6-8

Fear enslaves us. Anxiety can color our entire perspective until we live with a constant sense of unease. But fear does not fit who we are as believers. We are children of the living God, who has promised to care for us and work all things for our good. If we choose to live in tense apprehension, then at the end of our life, we’ll look back and wish we had trusted God more. But instead of living in a way that leads to regret, we can be freed from our fear now.

Identify your specific worries and be willing to deal with them. We cannot begin to understand our anxieties until we recognize the basic root of all fear. Certainly, there are numerous causes of fearful concern—ignorance, an inherited mindset, an overactive imagination—but ultimately the root of all our worry is doubt regarding divine sovereignty. God is in control of all things. We are under His power, provision, and protection every single moment of our life. Fear is shattered on the foundational truth of the Lord’s omnipotent control.

Focus on the Lord instead of on fear. When we understand that we are in the hand of our almighty, all-knowing, loving Father, the choice to refocus on Him becomes easier. But we must make this courageous decision every time we face anxiety.

By far the most powerful way to overcome fear is to meditate on the Word of God. In times of trouble, we must hold fast to the truths of Scripture. The Bible is intended to be an immovable anchor for your life. As God’s thoughts become part of your own thinking, fear will fade and faith will grow.

Our Daily Bread — The Mark Of Leadership

 

READ: Mark 10:35-45

Whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. —Mark 10:44

While visiting the campus of Purdue University on a frigid winter day, I came upon two young men chipping away thick ice on the sidewalk next to a fraternity house. Thinking they must be underclassmen who had been assigned the tough job by older fraternity brothers, I said, “They didn’t tell you about this when you joined, did they?” One looked up with a smile and said, “Well, we’re both upperclassmen. I’m the fraternity vice-president and my friend here is the president.” I thanked them for their hard work and went on my way having been reminded that serving others is the mark of a true leader.

When two of Jesus’ disciples asked Him for positions of honor in His coming kingdom, the Lord gathered His twelve closest followers and told them, “Whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all” (Mark 10:43-44). If there was any doubt about what Jesus meant, He reminded them that He had not come to be served but to serve others and to give His life to ransom them from the power of sin (v.45).

The mark of true, godly leadership is not power and privilege, but humble service. God gives us strength to follow Jesus’ example and to lead His way. —David McCasland

The paths of leadership are trod

By those who humbly walk with God,

Their gracious spirit holds a sway

That makes you want to go their way. —D. DeHaan

A qualified leader is one who has learned to serve.

 

Go . . . and Make Disciples! – Greg Laurie

 

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching—Hebrews 10:24–25

Jesus gave what is known today as the Great Commission, which is to “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19–20).

But here is what is often left out of the Great Commission: “Make disciples of all nations.” Listen, every Christian is called to go into the world and make disciples. But I didn’t say that everyone is called to be a preacher. Not everyone is called to be a Paul or a Peter. You might be a behind-the-scenes person. You might be someone whom few people know about, but you are where you are, and you want to do what you do for God’s glory. So we are all called to go and make disciples.

Here is the problem: There are a lot of Christians today that have never done this. They have never even thought about this, much less made an effort to do it. In fact, I actually think there can come a point in your Christian life where you don’t need to go hear more Bible studies. (Now, don’t take that out of context.) What I mean is, there can come a point when you are sitting down and having a meal, and it is time to push away from the table, digest your food, and let it be turned into energy to do something productive.

I love Bible studies. I love teaching the Bible, and I want to help others understand the Bible. But if all you do is listen to Bible studies and never do anything with what you’re learning, then you will be in danger of stagnating.