Tag Archives: current-events

John MacArthur – Anticipating Your Inheritance

John MacArthur

“In [Christ] also we have obtained an inheritance” (Eph. 1:10-11).

An inheritance is something received by an heir as a result of a will or legal process. It’s a legacy one receives from family connections.

As a member of God’s family, you are an heir of God and fellow heir with Christ (Rom. 8:17). As such you have obtained an inheritance that Peter called “imperishable and undefiled . . . reserved in heaven for you” (1 Pet. 1:4). It cannot perish, fade away, or be defiled because heaven is timeless and sinless. It is a secure inheritance.

In Ephesians 1:11 Paul refers to it in the past tense (“have obtained”). That’s significant because the fullness of your inheritance won’t be revealed until you are glorified in God’s presence (1 John 3:2). But your inheritance is so sure, Paul refers to it as if it was already in hand.

Although its fullness is yet future, your inheritance has present benefits as well. In addition to inheriting Christ and the Holy Spirit, you also inherit peace, love, grace, wisdom, joy, victory, strength, guidance, mercy, forgiveness, righteousness, discernment, and every other spiritual benefit. Paul sums it all up in 1 Corinthians 3:22-23: “All things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.”

Nowadays many Christians are so preoccupied with acquiring material goods that they miss many of the present benefits of their spiritual inheritance and the joy of anticipating its future fulfillment. Don’t fall into that trap!

Looking forward to your eternal inheritance will help you maintain a proper perspective on temporal things and motivate you to praise and adore God.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Praise the Lord for the incredible inheritance that awaits you in heaven.

Thank Him for the present benefits of your inheritance, which are yours to enjoy daily.

For Further Study:

One precious aspect of your eternal inheritance is God’s mercy. Psalm 136 reflects on the mercy God demonstrated toward Israel. Read that psalm, noting the manifestations of mercy that relate to your life.

 

Joyce Meyer – A Simple Privilege

Joyce meyer

The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the [whole] person; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. —Psalm 19:7

I cannot imagine a higher honor than being able to talk to and hear from God, and I believe prayer is the greatest privilege of our lives. It’s not something we have to do; it’s something we get to do. Prayer is the way we partner with God to see His plans and purposes come to pass in our lives and in the lives of those we love. It is the means by which we human beings on Earth can actually enter into the awesome presence of God. It allows us to share our hearts with Him, to listen for His voice, and to know how to discover and enjoy all the great things He has for us.

Communicating with God is indeed the greatest privilege I can think of, but this high and holy work is also the simplest privilege I know.

I do not believe talking to God or hearing His voice was ever meant to be complicated and that, from the very beginning, He intended it to be an easy, natural way of life by which we are connected with Him all day, every day.

God’s word for you today: Let prayer become like breathing; do it naturally and simply all throughout the day

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The Supernatural Power of Praise

dr_bright

“With Jesus’ help we will continually offer our sacrifice of praise to God by telling others of the glory of His name. Don’t forget to do good and to share what you have with those in need, for such sacrifices are very pleasing to Him” (Hebrews 13:15,16).

Sometimes, in my busy schedule which takes me from country to country and continent to continent, my body is weary, my mind is fatigued, and if I am not careful, my heart will grow cold. I have learned to meditate on the many blessings of God and to praise Him as an act of the will. As I do so, my heart begins to warm and I sense the presence of God.

The psalmist often catalogued the blessings of God and found new reason to praise Him. I would like to share with you several reasons why I believe praise of God is so important in the life of the believer.

1) God is truly worthy of praise.

2) Praise draws us closer to God.

3) All who praise God are blessed.

4) Praise is contagious.

5) Satan’s power is broken when we praise God.

6) Praise is a witness to carnal Christians and non-Christians.

7) Praise opens our hearts and minds to receive God’s message.

8) Praise is a form of sacrifice.

9) Praise makes for a more joyful life.

10) Praise enhances human relationships.

11) Praise is a supernatural expression of faith.

A further elaboration of the benefits and power of praise is found in my book Believing God for the Impossible. An entire chapter is devoted to this exciting subject.

With the promise of His blessings, so clearly delineated by the psalmist, comes the privilege and responsibility of offering up sacrifices of praise, and this leads to a supernatural life made possible by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Bible Reading: Jeremiah 33:9-14

TODAY’S ACTION POINT I will look deliberately today for reasons to praise my heavenly Father, knowing that I will find many. Whether I feel like it or not, I will praise Him throughout the day, seek to do good and to share His love with others, knowing that such sacrifices are pleasing to Him.

 

Presidential Prayer Team; J.R. – The Extra Mile

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Here is a little phrase you’ve probably heard many times: “It’s not my job.” If that’s part of your vocabulary, it shouldn’t be. It will make your work meaningless and destroy your testimony. That doesn’t mean you can’t set boundaries, nor does it suggest you should recklessly take on tasks you’re ill-equipped to manage. But the nation is filled with people today who have decided they are going to do the bare minimum, and sometimes even less.

Those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works.

Titus 3:8

If others are going to see Christ in you, you must devote yourself to good works, going beyond your job description, surpassing expectations, and seizing every opportunity. Abraham went the extra mile to help three strangers. The Good Samaritan crossed the road. And Jesus died on the cross. Any one of them could have said “It’s not my job,” but they didn’t…thank God they didn’t.

Today, pray for a positive, helpful attitude, and ask God to help America’s leaders set aside pride, pettiness and partisanship to devote themselves to good works.

Recommended Reading: I Thessalonians 5:12-24

Greg Laurie – Like Sheep

greglaurie

Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls. —1 Peter 2:25

On more than one occasion, the Bible compares Christians to sheep. I don’t know if I’m really happy about that because sheep aren’t the most intelligent animals on earth. It would have been nice if God had compared us to dolphins. Now, there’s an intelligent animal. I once had the opportunity to talk to a man who trained dolphins. I asked him, “Are dolphins really as intelligent as they seem?”

He said, “In some ways, yes, and in some ways, no. They are very intelligent in many ways because a dolphin can read a symbol and understand what it means.” That is amazing to me.

But Jesus didn’t compare us to dolphins. He compared us to sheep. And sheep are some of the stupidest animals around. They are vulnerable, easily spooked, can’t run very fast, and lack any means of defending themselves. What’s more, they are in constant need of care and attention. Sheep are known to follow each other even to their own death. It has been documented that if one sheep walks off a cliff, the others will follow.

The Bible says, “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own” (Isaiah 53:6, NLT). Think about how many people have bought into the same lies, generation after generation. They fall into the same junk, the same addictions, and the same traps again and again.

We are like sheep. That is a fact. The question is, are you going to be a smart sheep or a dumb one? Smart sheep stay close to the Shepherd, and that is where we all need to be.

 

Max Lucado – Doing What Comes Naturally

Max Lucado

My child’s feelings are hurt, I tell her she’s special. My child’s injured, I do whatever it takes to make her feel better. My child’s afraid, I won’t go to sleep until she’s secure. I’m not a hero. I’m not unusual. I’m a parent. When a child hurts, a parent does what comes naturally. He helps.

Moments of comfort from a parent. I can tell you they’re the sweetest moments in the day. They come naturally, willingly, joyfully. If all that’s so true, then why am I so reluctant to let my heavenly Father comfort me?

Being a father has taught me that when I’m criticized, injured, or afraid, there’s a Father who’s ready to comfort me. A Father who’ll hold me until I’m better. And who won’t go to sleep when I’m afraid. Ever! And that’s enough.

From The Applause of Heaven

Charles Stanley – An Exercise in Casting Cares

Charles Stanley

Psalm 55:16-22

God’s shoulders are wide enough to carry your burdens. He is sovereign over the universe, so He is certainly capable of working out problems and meeting needs. Today I want to give you an exercise that will help make casting your cares a practical act.

First, write on a piece of paper the things that cause your anxiety. Once you start writing, you may discover a list of items that cheat you out of peace.

Next, pray each issue into God’s care. Recall Psalm 18:35, which promises that He upholds believers in His loving grasp.

Finally, as you pray, visualize placing the situation into God’s omnipotent hands. For example, a woman may imagine handing over to the Lord what she owes, while saying, “Father, I give You my financial anxiety. I know that You will show me how to get out of debt. You are more than sufficient to handle it, and I trust You to guide me.”

Some people may protest this suggestion because humanistic and pseudo-spiritual movements also use a method they refer to as “visualizing.” Don’t let anyone steal what is rightfully yours. God creates word pictures throughout the Bible. This exercise merely creates a mental snapshot of the Lord doing exactly what He says He will do (Ps. 55:22; Matt. 6:25-26).

When you have transferred all of your worries to God’s hands, wad up that paper in your fist, and then destroy it. In this way, you symbolize the transaction that just took place. Your cares are no longer yours. Every one of them belongs to the Lord. Walk away in perfect peace.

 

 

 

Our Daily Bread — Food In The Cupboard

Our Daily Bread

Matthew 6:25-34

Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about . . . what you will put on. —Matthew 6:25

My friend Marcia, the director of the Jamaica Christian School for the Deaf, recently illustrated an important way to look at things. In a newsletter article she titled “A Blessed Start,” she pointed out that for the first time in 7 years the school began the new year with a surplus. And what was that surplus? A thousand dollars in the bank? No. Enough school supplies for the year? No. It was simply this: A month’s supply of food in the cupboard.

When you’re in charge of feeding 30 hungry kids on a shoestring budget, that’s big! She accompanied her note with this verse from 1 Chronicles 16:34, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”

Year after year Marcia trusts God to provide for the children and staff at her school. She never has much—whether it’s water or food or school supplies. Yet she is always grateful for what God sends, and she is faithful to believe that He will continue to provide.

As we begin a new year, do we have faith in God’s provision? To do so is to take our Savior at His word when He said, “Do not worry about your life . . . . Do not worry about tomorrow” (Matt. 6:25,34). —Dave Branon

I don’t worry o’er the future,

For I know what Jesus said,

And today I’ll walk beside Him,

For He knows what is ahead. —Stanphill

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength. —Corrie ten Boom

Bible in a year: Genesis 36-38; Matthew 10:21-42

 

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Turned Inside Out

Ravi Z

Barbara Krensavage insists that clams are not a regular part of her diet. Yet one snowy evening in December she found herself craving an old recipe, and so brought home four dozen quahogs—a clam particularly abundant between Cape Cod and New Jersey. Mr. Krensavage was in the midst of shucking the shellfish for dinner when he discovered one that looked like it was dead. It had a different color to it and he thought it was diseased. As he was about to discard it, Mrs. Krensavage took a closer look.

It wasn’t dead. In fact, inside the live clam was a rare and possibly priceless, purple pearl. Experts estimate that roughly one in two million quahog clams contains a gem-quality pearl like the one found by the Krensavages. Due to the great rarity of the find, it has been difficult to even place a value on it, though some have estimated the pearl to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The message Jesus Christ brought to the world was one that spoke openly of a kingdom among us, where, like this discovery of the Krensavages, all is not as it may first appear. In a world that would seem to some more marked by disease than promise, he spoke of a treasure hidden, a mystery revealed in this life, worth selling all we have to possess as our own. He spoke of. Beside the sting of death, he spoke of life somehow stronger than death itself. He spoke of this kingdom as a present, real, and incomparable pearl of great price.

Yet even holding it, he noted that we may not always recognize its worth. On the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus stood with Peter, James, and John—three men who left lives behind to sit and learn at his feet—and there he was transfigured before them. These men knew Jesus better than any other. They were with him constantly, eating, sleeping, and learning; and they were terrified in his presence on the mountain. All three fell facedown on the ground, until Jesus came and touched them. As commentator Frederick Bruner describes what was happening on that mountain, “What Jesus was within was once made visible without.”(1)

In the Old Testament, the face of God was readily spoken of as too much for a person to see and yet live. Rabbinic reflection taught that Adam and Eve had lost the radiance of their faces in their fall from God, and that only the Messiah would reestablish this radiance once more. Here as the face of Christ “became like the sun,” it portrayed vividly the glory of God and the beginnings of God’s restorative work, a preview of the heavenly transfiguration awaiting those united with Christ. For the disciples, the sound of God’s voice and the reality of the Son were too much to behold standing.

Perhaps it is telling that the clam which held the pearl the Krensavages now treasure was the one that had the most outward appearance of death. As C.S. Lewis once wrote, “[I]t is, I think, a gross exaggeration to picture the saving of a soul as being, normally, at all like the development from seed to flower. The very words, repentance, regeneration, the New Man, suggest something very different.”(2) We cannot lay our hands on the thought that we are made in the image of God, invited to be formed at the hands of Christ, without laying down our entire lives before him, giving everything we have, being turned inside out, that we might one day stand in God’s glory. For the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

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

(1) Frederick Dale Bruner, Matthew, A Commentary: The Churchbook, Matthew 12-28 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004), 167.

(2) C.S. Lewis, Transposition and other Essays, ch. 3.

 

 

Alistair Begg – With Great Speed

Alistair Begg

But I give myself to prayer.

Psalms 109:4

Lying tongues were busy against the reputation of David, but he did not defend himself; he moved the case into a higher court and pleaded before the great King Himself. Prayer is the safest method of replying to words of hatred. The psalmist prayed in no coldhearted manner; he gave himself to the exercise–threw his whole soul and heart into it–straining every sinew and muscle, as Jacob did when wrestling with the angel.

Thus, and thus only, shall any of us speed at the throne of grace. As a shadow has no power because there is no substance in it, even so that supplication in which a man’s proper self is not thoroughly present in agonizing earnestness and vehement desire is utterly ineffectual, for it lacks that which would give it force.

“Fervent prayer,” says an old divine, “like a cannon planted at the gates of heaven, makes them fly open.” The common fault with most of us is our readiness to yield to distractions. Our thoughts go roving here and there, and we make little progress toward our desired end. Like quicksilver our mind will not hold together but rolls off this way and that. How great an evil this is! It injures us, and what is worse, it insults our God. What should we think of a petitioner if, while having an audience with a prince, he should be playing with a feather or catching a fly?

Continuance and perseverance are intended in the expression of our text. David did not cry once and then relapse into silence; his holy clamor was continued till it brought down the blessing. Prayer must not be our intermittent work but our daily business, our habit and vocation. As artists give themselves to their models, and poets to their classical pursuits, so must we addict ourselves to prayer. We must be immersed in prayer as in our element, and so pray without ceasing. Lord, teach us so to pray, that we may be more and more efficacious in supplication.

 

 

 

John MacArthur – Resting in God’s Sovereignty

John MacArthur

God made known the mystery of His will “according to His kind intention which He purposed in [Christ] with a view to an administration suitable to the fulness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth” (Eph. 1:9-10).

For centuries men of various philosophical schools have debated the cause, course, and climax of human history. Some deny God and therefore deny any divine involvement in history. Others believe that God set everything in motion, then withdrew to let it progress on its own. Still others believe that God is intimately involved in the flow of human history and is directing its course toward a specific, predetermined climax.

In Ephesians 1:9-10 Paul settles that debate by reminding us that Jesus Himself is the goal of human history. In Him all things will be summed up–all human history will be resolved and united to the Father through the work of the Son.

As Paul said elsewhere, “It was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fulness [of deity] to dwell in [Christ], and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Col. 1:19-20). The culmination of Christ’s reconciling work will come during His millennial kingdom (Rev. 20). Following that, He will usher in the eternal state with a new heaven and earth (Rev. 21).

Despite the political uncertainty and military unrest in the world today, be assured that God is in control. He governs the world (Isa. 40:22-24), the nations (Isa. 40:15- 17), and individuals as well (Prov. 16:9). God’s timetable is right on schedule. Nothing takes Him by surprise and nothing thwarts His purposes. Ultimately He will vanquish evil and make everything right in Christ.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank God for the wisdom and insight He gives you to see beyond your temporal circumstances to His eternal purposes.

Live today with that perspective in mind.

For Further Study:

Read Revelation 20

What happens to Satan prior to the millennial kingdom?

How does Satan meet his final doom?

What happens at the great white throne judgment?

 

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Your Paths Made Plain

dr_bright

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5,6, KJV).

A young seminary graduate came to see me while he was investigating various possibilities of Christian service. In particular, he had come to discuss the ministry of Campus Crusade.

“In what way do you expect God to reveal His place of service for you?” I asked him.

“I’m following the ‘closed-door policy,'” he replied.” A few months ago I began to investigate several opportunities for Christian service. The Lord has now closed the door on all but two, one of which is Campus Crusade. If the door to accept a call to a particular church closes, I’ll know that God wants me in Campus Crusade.”

Many sincere Christians follow this method – often with most unsatisfactory and frustrating results. God does sometimes use closed doors in the life of a Spirit-controlled Christian, as the apostle Paul experienced on different occasions, but generally one does not discover God’s perfect will through a careless “hit-or-miss” attitude that ignores a careful evaluation of all the issues.

Such an approach is illogical because it allows elements of chance to influence a decision rather than a careful, intelligent, prayerful evaluation of all the factors involved. It is unscriptural in that it fails to employ the God-given faculties of reason that are controlled by the Holy Spirit.

Why not follow the “open-door policy” of Proverbs 3:5,6, trusting God for His clear direction? This is God’s provision for supernatural living.

Bible Reading: Psalm 37:3-7

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: In every decision today, whether small or large matters, joyfully and with anticipation I will trust in the Lord with all my heart, knowing that He will direct my path to supernatural living. I will encourage others also to trust in the Lord.

 

 

Presidential Prayer Team; P.G. – Automatic Response

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Last year in Muskegon, MI, a Navy SEAL veteran spoke to a group of 10-15 year old boys on how important it is to be disciplined, hard working and faithful in an elite military group. Anyone who has spent time in the Armed Forces understands discipline. A valued soldier has trained repeatedly in the same activities so ultimately his or her responses are instinctual and automatic. Survival depends on it.

I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.

Psalm 40:8

When you are in the center of God’s will, your subconscious desire is consistent with His Word. Your response, even under stressful situations, is automatic because you have immersed yourself in Scripture…memorizing, meditating, practicing. You are disciplined.

As with a soldier, that discipline is acquired over time. As the SEAL reminded the children, a goal without a plan is only a wish, and discipline demands consistency. If you have yet to establish a regular time of Bible study or prayer, start today. Intercede, too, for the spiritual discipline of those in government – and for those leaders who don’t yet know God’s amazing grace to find it personally in 2014.

Recommended Reading: Psalm 40:1-11

 

 

Greg Laurie – Songs in the Night

greglaurie

The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me — a prayer to the God of my life. —Psalm 42:8

Have you ever been awakened in the middle of the night and had a Christian song or a worship chorus going through your mind? If so, then that tells me you are laying up the things of God in your heart. Instead of waking up with the latest pop music in your head, you are thinking of a Christian song or maybe a Scripture verse. That is a song in the night God has given you.

When Paul and Silas were thrown into prison in Philippi, Acts 16 tells us that “at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (verse 25).

The word “listening” used here is significant. In the original language, it means to listen very, very carefully. Another way to translate it is “they listened with pleasure.” There are some things that aren’t a pleasure to listen to — they are painful, like fingernails on a chalkboard. But this was pleasurable, like when your favorite song comes on the radio and you turn it up. Oh, I love this song! This is a great song! That is how the prisoners were listening.

I doubt they had ever heard anyone sing in that dungeon before. And I think the simple fact that they were singing at all in such a place was a powerful testimony. It was a platform for evangelism. You see, you can talk about trusting God in adversity, but when someone sees it in action in your life, there is an undeniable authenticity. It is a powerful witness. Worship can be a powerful tool for a nonbeliever to be exposed to.

When you are in pain, the midnight hour is not the easiest time for a worship service. But God can give you songs in the night. And never doubt it: people will be listening.

 

Max Lucado – The Prison of Pride

Max Lucado

The prison of pride. You’ve seen the prisoners—the alcoholic who won’t admit his drinking problem; the woman who refuses to talk to anyone about her fears. Perhaps to see such a prisoner all you have to do is look in the mirror!

The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us” (I John 1:9). The biggest word in Scripture just might be that two-letter one, if.

Confessing sins, admitting failure, is exactly what prisoners of pride refuse to do. They say, “Listen, I’m just as good as the next guy.”  “I pay my taxes.” Justification. Rationalization. Comparison. These are the tools of the jailbird. But in the kingdom of God they sound hollow. Many know they’re wrong, yet pretend they are right. As a result they never taste the exquisite sorrow of repentance.

Blessed are those who know they’re in trouble and have enough sense to admit it!

From The Applause of Heaven

Charles Stanley – Our Constant Friend

Charles Stanley

2 Timothy 4:16-18

Many of us have experienced times of abandonment by others just when we needed them most. It could have been a spouse withdrawing emotionally, a co-worker who ignored you, or a close friend who was too busy to help. The life of the apostle Paul teaches us how to avoid discouragement in such situations.

Remember that the Lord is with us always. When we trust Jesus as our Savior, we enter into a relationship with Him, and His Spirit comes to live in us. Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus remains with us at all times, regardless of the circumstance. He is our friend—one who will never leave us. And His is the most important friendship we have. Reading our Bible will help us to remember this.

Draw on God’s strength. Through the Holy Spirit, we have access to divine power every minute of the day. When we let go of control and depend on the Lord, we will be able to draw on His strength. Then, if family or friends cause hurt, His presence will provide comfort and help us to forgive them.

Look expectantly for deliverance. Paul testified that the Lord had rescued him and would continue to deliver him from every evil situation. The apostle knew he could always trust God.

Paul faced many painful situations without the support of friends. Toward the end of his life, those who cared about him were widely scattered. Yet his attitude remained hopeful because Christ was his constant Friend. Do you know the Savior? Allow His presence to walk with you throughout your day, and experience the joy His friendship brings.

 

 

 

 

Our Daily Bread — Sweet Rest

Our Daily Bread

Psalm 4

You have put gladness in my heart. —Psalm 4:7

Try as we might—tossing, turning, fluffing the pillow, pounding the pillow—sometimes we just can’t fall asleep. After offering some good suggestions on how to get a better night’s sleep, a news article concluded that there really is no “right way” to sleep.

There are numerous reasons why sleep eludes us, many of which we can’t do much about. But sometimes unwanted wakefulness is caused by anxious thoughts, worry, or guilt. It’s then that the example of David in Psalm 4 can help. He called out to God, asking for mercy and for God to hear his prayer (v.1). He also reminded himself that the Lord does hear him when he calls on Him (v.3). David encourages us: “Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still” (v.4). Focusing our minds on the goodness, mercy, and love of God for His world, our loved ones, and ourselves can aid us in trusting the Lord (v.5).

The Lord desires to help us set aside our worries about finding solutions to our problems and place our trust in Him to work things out. He can “put gladness” in our hearts (v.7), so that we might “lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O LORD, make [us] dwell in safety” (v.8). —Dave Egner

Give me a spirit of peace, dear Lord,

Midst the storms and the tempests that roll,

That I may find rest and quiet within,

A calm buried deep in my soul. —Dawe

Even when we cannot sleep, God can give us rest.

Bible in a year: Genesis 33-35; Matthew 10:1-20

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Insights from Blindness

Ravi Z

Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) popularized the concept of “a paradigm shift” in the realm of scientific thought. While many of us may not be familiar with Kuhn or his book, we have likely experienced the duck/rabbit optical illusion used by Kuhn to demonstrate the way in which a paradigm shift could cause one to see the same information in an entirely different way. Kuhn described a paradigm shift as that which opens up new approaches to understanding that would never have been considered valid before.

The word “epiphany” offers another way to speak about paradigm shifts. To have an epiphany is to have the proverbial light bulb go off in one’s head, as a new idea changes the way in which one sees or understands information. The lights are “switched on” when understanding comes. The English word epiphany comes from a Greek word meaning “manifestation or appearance.” An epiphany is that “a-ha” moment that comes as a result of new vision—of blindness being turned to sight. It is, to borrow from Kuhn’s description, an experience of a paradigmatic shift in view. An epiphany thus reorients, reorders, or transforms our view from one way of looking at the world to another.

In the Christian tradition, the season of Epiphany is a season for new sight, new vision, and paradigm shifts. The season remembers the arrival of the foreign magi at the birthplace of Jesus. Magi (not three kings of the orient as sung in the famous hymn) were a caste of wise men specializing in astrology, medicine, and natural science.(1) As the gospel of Matthew records it, these wise men saw his star in the east because they practiced astrology.  But, the ‘paradigm shift’ occurred as they recognized that this was no ordinary star, nor an ordinary child, but one worthy of worship as a King (Matthew 2:2).

During Epiphany, Christians are asked to pay special attention to the teaching and healing ministry of Jesus for the ways in which he is revealed to be the Messiah. All who seek the truth are asked to re-consider their particular view and to anticipate paradigm shifts. The author of the letter to the Hebrews, for example, invites all who would look at Jesus to see in him the very epiphany of God. “[I]n these last days God has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds” (Hebrews 1:1-3). Everyone who looks at his life has the opportunity to experience epiphany.  Examining his life and listening to his teachings will alter prevailing paradigms.

But paradigm shifts are never easy. The biblical image invoked again and again for this process is that of moving from blindness to sight. One very ironic example is recorded in the Gospel of John. It is the story of Jesus healing a man born blind. Using the ordinary elements of clay and his own saliva, Jesus applies the necessary ingredients to literal eyes in order to create the opportunity for sight. After the man washes the healing balm off of his eyes in the pool of Siloam, his healer is nowhere to be found. Ironically, it is the religious leaders who lack true vision.

“How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?”

The once blind man answered, “Whether or not he is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.”

Thinking they see the situation quite clearly, the religious leaders put the formerly blind man out of the temple, cutting him off from their community. Hearing this, Jesus returns to confront these leaders who claim superior knowledge and insight. “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind… If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”(2)

Opportunities for paradigm shifts are often quite costly and sometimes challenge tenaciously held assumptions. The Christian story proposes that it is in the humble acknowledgement of blindness that we come to see anything with clarity or insight. Ironically, insight does not come in assuming sight. Rather, those willing to acknowledge their own blindness are offered insight that opens eyes.

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

(1) Reference note from the New American Standard Bible.

(2) cf. John 9:39-41.

 

 

Alistair Begg – Enlist God’s Aid Through Prayer

Alistair Begg

Beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’

Matthew 14:30

 

Sinking times are praying times with the Lord’s servants. Peter neglected prayer at starting upon his venturous journey, but when he began to sink, his danger made him a suppliant, and his cry, though late, was not too late.

In our hours of bodily pain and mental anguish, we find ourselves as naturally driven to prayer as the wreck is driven upon the shore by the waves. The fox runs to its hole for protection; the bird flies to the wood for shelter; and even so the tried believer hastens to the mercy-seat for safety. Heaven’s great harbor of refuge is All-prayer; thousands of weather-beaten vessels have found a haven there, and the moment a storm comes on, it is wise for us to make for it with full sail.

Short prayers are long enough. There were but three words in the petition that Peter gasped out, but they were sufficient for his purpose. Not length but strength is desirable. A sense of need is a mighty teacher of brevity. If our prayers had less of the tail feathers of pride and more wing, they would be all the better. Verbiage is to devotion as chaff to the wheat. Precious things lie in small compass, and all that is real prayer in many a long address might have been uttered in a petition as short as that of Peter.

Our extremities are the Lord’s opportunities. Immediately a keen sense of danger forces an anxious cry from us, the ear of Jesus hears, and with Him ear and heart go together, and the hand does not long linger. At the last moment we appeal to our Master, but His swift hand makes up for our delays by instant and effectual action. Are we nearly engulfed by the boisterous waters of affliction? Let us then lift up our souls unto our Savior, and we may rest assured that He will not suffer us to perish. When we can do nothing, Jesus can do everything; let us enlist His powerful aid upon our side, and all will be well.

 

 

Charles Spurgeon – The sin of unbelief

CharlesSpurgeon

“And that lord answered the man of God, and said, Now, behold, if the Lord should make windows in heaven, might such a thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.” 2 Kings 7:19

Suggested Further Reading: John 20:24-29

“Thou shalt shall see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.” It is so often with God’s own saints. When they are unbelieving, they see the mercy with their eyes, but do not eat it. Now, here is corn in this land of Egypt, but there are some of God’s saints who come here on the Sabbath, and say, “I do not know whether the Lord will be with me or not.” Some of them say, “Well, the gospel is preached, but I do not know whether it will be successful.” They are always doubting and fearing. Listen to them when they get out of the chapel. “Well, did you get a good meal this morning?” “Nothing for me.” Of course not. Ye could see it with your eyes, but did not eat it, because you had no faith. If you had come up with faith, you would have had a morsel. I have found Christians, who have grown so very critical, that if the whole portion of the meat they are to have, in due season, is not cut up exactly into square pieces, and put upon some choice dish of porcelain, they cannot eat it. Then they ought to go without, until they are brought to their appetites. They will have some affliction, which will act like quinine upon them: they will be made to eat by means of bitters in their mouths; they will be put in prison for a day or two until their appetite returns, and then they will be glad to eat the most ordinary food, off the most common platter, or no platter at all. But the real reason why God’s people do not feed under a gospel ministry, is because they have not faith. If you believed, if you heard only one promise, that would be enough.

For meditation: The unbeliever needs to hear in order to believe (Romans 10:14); the believer needs to believe in order to hear.

Sermon no. 3

14 January (1855)