Tag Archives: current-events

Greg Laurie – Not Duration, But Donation

greglaurie

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. —Ecclesiastes 3:1

As one year comes to an end and another one begins, it is a great time to evaluate how we are doing and where we are going. We want to make sure that we are living our lives the way they ought to be lived because for some of us, this may be the last year.

Reflecting on the passing of human life, ethicist Michael Josephson wrote, “Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end. There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours, or days. . . . So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured? . . . Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident. It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.”

The Bible says, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die” (Ecclesiastes 3:1–2). It also reminds us that our times are in God’s hands (see Psalm 31:15). Regarding the length of our lives, Job said to God, “His days are determined, the number of his months is with You; You have appointed his limits, so that he cannot pass” (Job 14:5).

God determines how long we will live—not us. We may be able to improve the quality of our lives through diet and exercise. But the quantity of our lives—that is up to God. So we want to make sure that we are living our lives well.

As Corrie ten Boom said, “The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration, but its donation.”

You determine the evening of your life by the morning of it. So start thinking about it. Start charting the course the rest of your life will take.

 

 

Max Lucado – Reliable

Max Lucado

Reliable! Liable means responsible.  Re means over and over again.

I’m wondering if someone’s listening who’s a saint of re-liability? If you are, I can’t resist the chance to say two things. The first?  Thank you!

Thank you teachers for the countless Sunday school lessons prepared and delivered with tenderness. Thank you senior saints for a generation of prayer. Thank you missionaries for your bravery in sharing the timeless truth. Thank you preachers. You thought we weren’t listening, but we were.

Thanks to all of you who practice on Monday what you hear on Sunday.  It’s on the back of your fidelity that the Gospel rides. You are reliable! You get the job done.

I said I had two things to say.  What’s the second? Keep pitching! Your Hall of Fame award is just around the corner.

From God Came Near

Charles Stanley – A Vision for Believers

Charles Stanley

People often have bright aspirations for their lives. Some aim for a high-powered career or financial success. Others dream about making close friendships or impacting the world.

But no matter what our personal goals may be, the Lord has cast a vision for all of His children. It is known as the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).

What does it mean, to “make disciples”? Some Christians think this refers to adding new church members and growing the size of the congregation. But God is not interested in numbers or external appearances; He’s concerned about genuine heart change. So He commissions His followers to lead others, first to saving faith in Jesus Christ and then to the next step—baptism—as a public declaration of their trust in the Savior.

Once Jesus shared these objectives, most of the disciples spent the rest of their days fulfilling them. In fact, almost every one gave his life to accomplish them.

This command has not changed. God still expects us, His children, to share the good news of the gospel, to teach people how to be followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, and to baptize those who are saved.

Are you living with God’s purpose as your guide? Ask Him for opportunities and the courage to share His message of hope and love.

Excerpt from In Touch magazine. Subscribe to In Touch magazine free here.

 

Related Resources

Related Video

A Heart for God – A Vision for the World

Do you have a heart for God? If so, you are compelled to share the good news of salvation with a lost and dying world. In this sermon, Dr. Stanley explains how having a heart for God means we desire to know God, obey Christ, and share the gospel. (Watch A Heart for God – A Vision for the World.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Daily Bread — Letter To A Child

Our Daily Bread

All of 3 John

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. —3 John 4

Even at the end of his life, C. S. Lewis showed an interest in the spiritual nurture of younger believers. Although in ill health, he took time to respond to the letter of a child named Philip. Complimenting the boy’s fine written expression, Lewis said he was delighted that Philip understood that in the Narnia Chronicles the lion Aslan represented Jesus Christ. The next day, Lewis died at his home in the Kilns, Oxford, England, one week before his 65th birthday.

The apostle John, in his later years, sent a letter to his spiritual children. In it we see the joy of a mature believer encouraging his spiritually younger disciples to keep walking in the truth and following Christ.

John wrote, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 1:4). Short by New Testament standards, John’s letter demonstrates the joy that comes in nurturing and watching the next generation’s spiritual growth.

Encouraging spiritual understanding in the next generation should be the pursuit of mature believers. Sending a note of appreciation, giving a word of encouragement, praying, or offering sound advice can all be ways of helping others on their spiritual journey with God. —Dennis Fisher

To help another in Christ to grow

You have to pay a price

It takes the giving of yourself

And that means sacrifice. —D. DeHaan

The journey is better with someone who knows the way.

Bible in a year: Zechariah 9-12; Revelation 20

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Tempted Like We Are

dr_bright

“For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15, KJV).

“In your opinion, who is the greatest person who ever lived, and who has done more good for mankind than anyone else who ever lived?” I asked a student who was both an atheist and a card-carrying Communist.

There was an awkward silence. Then finally came this reluctant reply, “I guess I would have to say Jesus of Nazareth.”

How could an atheist and a Communist, who had been reared in another religion, give such an answer?

Jesus has done more good for mankind than anyone else who has ever lived. He is the greatest person of the centuries, because it is a fact. Compare Jesus, even as a man, with any other person – Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, anyone else in any country at any time in history – and it would be like comparing a giant with a midget.

Though he lived 2,000 years ago and changed the course of history, though He was the greatest leader, the greatest teacher, the greatest example the world has ever known, He is infinitely more than these. He is God.

The omnipotent Creator God visited this little planet earth and became a man, the God-man, Jesus of Nazareth. He was perfect God and perfect man, and as perfect man He understands our weaknesses, since He had the same temptations we do – though He never once gave way to them and sinned.

Do you believe that Jesus ever had the temptation to lie, to lust, to steal or to be immoral? Make a list of your temptations, all your weaknesses, all your failures, and then, as suggested in the verse following our reference, “Let us come boldly to the very throne of God and stay there to receive His mercy and to find grace to help us in our times of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Bible Reading: Hebrews 2:14-18

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Since Jesus is my high priest and knows everything about me, having been tempted as I am and yet without sin, I will come boldly into His presence today and every day. I will come to receive His mercy and grace to live a supernatural life, which will enable me to live victoriously and to be fruitful for the glory and praise of His matchless name.

 

Presidential Prayer Team; P.G. – Great Way to Start

ppt_seal01

Some 50 years ago, an American president challenged, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” More than 2,000 before, that phrase might have been used by Jesus to His apostles: “Ask not what the Lord can do for you. Ask what you can do for Him!”

You received without paying; give without pay.

Matthew 10:8

It’s easy to feel conflicted with the giving and receiving of this season when you consider Syrian Christians being persecuted in their hometowns, Filipino Christians flooding into makeshift churches to pray for relief after the super-sized typhoon, and fellow Americans in the Midwest sifting through what’s left of their homes after devastating tornadoes. As you look to toward the New Year, consider how you can comfort the suffering and support the needy. A great way to start is to share your knowledge of the immeasurable gift that God has given with a hurting world – one prayer and one word of love at a time. Remember you have freely received; now it is time to be a good steward of that gift.

Offer prayers today for members of Congress and others in government and the Pentagon that, in the last days of this year, they might find Jesus, the only gift worth having.

Recommended Reading: Matthew 10:5-15

Our Daily Bread — The Presentation

Our Daily Bread

Colossians 1:21-23

He has reconciled . . . to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight. —Colossians 1:21-22

My wife, Martie, is a great cook. After a long day I often look forward to the smell of spicy aromas that promise a tasty feast. Not only does she know how to prepare a meal, but she is also a master at the presentation. The colors of the food on the plate, beautifully arranged in a harmony of meat, white puffy rice, and vegetables welcome me to pull up my chair and enjoy her handiwork. But the food was not so attractive before she got her hands on it. The meat was raw and squishy, the rice was hard and brittle, and the vegetables needed to be scrubbed and trimmed.

It reminds me of the gracious work Jesus has done for me. I am well aware of my frailty and propensity to sin. I know that in and of myself I am not presentable to God. Yet when I’m saved, Jesus makes me a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). He takes me just as I am and makes me just as I should be—“holy, and blameless, and above reproach” (Col. 1:22). He presents me to our Father as a thing of beauty worthy to be in His presence.

May His transforming work on our behalf stimulate us to live up to the presentation and to be humbly grateful to Christ for His finishing work in our lives! —Joe Stowell

Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me—

All His wonderful passion and purity!

O Thou Spirit divine, all my nature refine,

Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me. —Orsborn

Jesus takes us as we are and makes us what we should be.

Bible in a year: Zechariah 5-8; Revelation 19

 

 

Alistair Begg – A Firm and Determined Grasp

Alistair Begg

And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the son of God.

Galatians 2:20

When the Lord in mercy drew near and saw us in our deadness, He first of all said, “Live”; and He did this, first, because life is absolutely essential in spiritual matters, and until it is given we are incapable of seeing or entering the kingdom. Now the life that grace confers upon believers at the moment of their conversion is none other than the life of Christ, which, like the sap from the stem, runs into us, the branches, and establishes a living connection between our souls and Jesus. Faith is the grace that perceives this union, having proceeded from it as its firstfruit. It is the neck that joins the body of the Church to its all-glorious Head.

A faith that shines more bright and clear,

When tempests rage without,

That when in danger knows no fear,

In darkness feels no doubt.

Faith lays hold upon the Lord Jesus with a firm and determined grasp. It knows His excellence and worth, and no temptation can induce faith to place its trust elsewhere. And Christ Jesus is so delighted with this heavenly grace that He never ceases to strengthen and sustain that faith by the loving embrace and all-sufficient support of His eternal arms.

This establishes a living, sensible, and delightful union that produces streams of love, confidence, sympathy, contentment, and joy, from which both the bride and Bridegroom love to drink. When the soul can clearly see this oneness between itself and Christ, the pulse may be felt as beating for both, and the one blood as flowing through the veins of each. Then the heart is as near heaven as it can be on earth and is prepared for the enjoyment of the most sublime and spiritual kind of fellowship.

Lord, give me such a faith as this,

And then, whate’er may come,

I taste e’en now the hallowed bliss,

Of an eternal home.

 

Charles Spurgeon – Heavenly worship

CharlesSpurgeon

“And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the Mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.” Revelation 14:1-3

Suggested Further Reading: Revelation 5:6-10

Why is the song said to be a new song? It will be a new song, because the saints were never in such a position before as they will be when they sing this new song. They are in heaven now; but the scene of our text is something more than heaven. It refers to the time when all the chosen race shall meet around the throne, when the last battle shall have been fought, and the last warrior shall have gained his crown. It is not now that they are singing, but it is in the glorious time to come, when all the hundred and forty and four thousand—or rather, the number typified by that number—will be all safely housed and all secure. I can conceive the period. Time was—eternity now reigns. The voice of God exclaims, “Are my beloved all safe?” The angel flies through paradise and returns with this message, “Yes, they are.” “Is Fearful safe? Is Feeble-mind safe? Is Ready-to-Halt safe? Is Despondency safe?” “Yes, O King, they are,” says he. “Shut the gates,” says the Almighty, “they have been open night and day; shut them now.” Then, when all of them shall be there, then will be the time when the shout shall be louder than many waters, and the song shall begin which will never end.

For meditation: The old year is about to be replaced by a new year, but that will soon grow old and fade away. Revelation speaks of the former things passing away (21: 4), and the old serpent being cast out and bound (12: 9 and 20: 2). All that remains is new and remains new throughout eternity—a new song, a new heaven, a new earth, new Jerusalem—all things new (21: 1-5).

Sermon no. 110

28 December (1856)

Presidential Prayer Team; A.W. – Identity Check

ppt_seal01

In 1880, the Social Security Administration began keeping records of popular baby names in the United States. Many parents use this list and spend months agonizing over what to name their newborn child. Some believe a name has the power to shape a child’s identity and self-esteem, influence how he’s treated by others, and even affect future success.

The name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

Hebrews 1:4

God emphasized the importance of identity when He changed the names of Abram (Genesis 17:5), Jacob (Genesis 32:28) and Simon (John 1:42) to match their destinies. He instructed Joseph to name Mary’s baby Jesus (Matthew 1:21). Names are important to God, and a good name is more desirable than great riches (Proverbs 22:1).

Today’s verse refers to the name above all names – Jesus. The writer reminds the Hebrews Christ is superior to everyone and everything, including the angels. By His name, all can be saved (Acts 4:12). As you pray today for family and friends, call upon the power of the name of Jesus (Acts 4:10). Ask for the message of the Lord to spread and be honored (II Thessalonians 3:1) and for Him to move in the hearts of the nation’s leaders to do what is just, honest and upright.

Recommended Reading: Proverbs 21:1-8

 

 

Greg Laurie – The 3 Things we can give to God in 2014

greglaurie

As we enter into a new year, here is something to remember: When it’s all said and done, we have three things we can offer God—our treasure, our talent, and our time. Each of these is given to us by God, and each of them should be given back in generous portions.

First, there is our treasure. I urge you to commit yourself to give faithfully and generously to the Lord in this coming year. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21 NKJV). Whenever we put our money into something, we develop a vested interest in it. It makes sense to us that we would place our treasures where our hearts are. If we love reading books, or being entertained, or the latest technology, we spend our treasure on those things. And if our heart’s desires change, that changes where we put our treasure.

But it works the other way too: Where we put our treasures, our heart will follow. Do you want your heart to be in the things of God? Then put your treasures in the things of God! Develop a vested interest in God’s kingdom.

The second thing we can give to God is our talent. God has gifted each believer in different ways. Everyone has something to offer for the work of the kingdom. Romans 12 says, “Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of his one body, and each of us different work to do” (NLT).

Finally, there is our time. Let’s say that one day your phone rang and it was the president of the bank that you use. He told you that an anonymous donor who loved you very much had decided to deposit 86,400 pennies into your bank account each and every morning. At first, maybe that didn’t seem like a lot. But then you figured out that it was $864 a day. At seven days a week and 52 weeks a year, those pennies add up to almost $315,000 each year! But the bank president added one thing: “The anonymous giver said you must spend all of the money on the day you receive it! No balance will be carried over to the next day. Each evening the bank must cancel whatever sum you failed to use! Remember, what you don’t spend is lost.”

That may sound like fantasy, but here’s the reality: Every morning, Someone who loves you very much deposits into your “bank of time” 86,400 seconds, which represent 1,440 minutes, which of course equals 24 hours each and every day. God gives you that much to use each day. Nothing is ever carried over on credit to the next day. There is no such thing as a 27-hour day. It’s called time, and you can’t escape it. Time is ticking away right now. The Bible tells us to “redeem the time”—to make sacred and wise use of every opportunity.

Offer God your treasure, your talent, and your time. Live this next year as if it were your last, because it could be. Make those minutes count!

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The World We Know

Ravi Z

Garrison Keillor’s description of Aunt Marie is one I have not been able to shake this season. Repeatedly, she has come to mind in discordant moments of Christmas preparation, somewhere between errands at the mall and lyrics that put a stop to them. “Long lay the world in sin and error pining,/ Till he appeared, and the soul felt its worth.” No description of the Incarnation more readily makes the common stressors of Christmas seem less important. And yet, Aunt Marie, with her “fat little legs” and “her heavy, fur-collared coat,” has made a serious attempt to wrestle me back down to a sad, human, earthly reality. Keillor writes:

“She knew that death was only a door to the kingdom where Jesus would welcome her, there would be no crying there, no suffering, but meanwhile she was fat, her heart hurt, and she lived alone with her ill-tempered little dogs, tottering around her dark little house full of Chinese figurines and old Sunday Tribunes. She complained about nobody loving her or wanting her or inviting her to their house for dinner anymore. She sat eating pork roast, mashed potato, creamed asparagus, one Sunday at our house when she said it. We were talking about a trip to the North Shore and suddenly she broke into tears and cried, ‘You don’t care about me. You say you do but you don’t. If I died tomorrow, I don’t know as you’d even go to my funeral.’ I was six. I said, cheerfully, ‘I’d come to your funeral,’ looking at my fat aunt, her blue dress, her string of pearls, her red rouge, the powder on her nose, her mouth full of pork roast, her eyes full of tears.”(1)

Christmas has reminded us what many of us already know: that the world is waiting, groaning for more, longing for redemption, for peace on earth and goodwill to humanity, for release from darkness and sin and loneliness and disillusionment, for God to come near to the world as we know it. Like Aunt Marie, this waiting is sometimes fraught with discomfort; we wait, and we sense a lonely, earthly reality. But Advent forces the experience of waiting into a different light. Our waiting need not be dehumanizing, dispiriting, as waiting often feels.

The New Testament describes it quite differently—not as a difficult means to a better end, but as part of the promise itself. Eugene Peterson writes, “Waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.”(2) Waiting itself is, of course, a reminder that we are earthbound.

But so is Christ.

The Christian’s celebration of Christmas is the assurance that we wait with good reason. “The word became flesh,” wrote John, “and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). God did not merely come near, he became flesh that could touch weaknesses, experience loneliness, and encounter the lowest moments of being human. He came to be with us, to move through us, to work within us. He came as small and vulnerable as humans come, getting close enough to bear the scars of our outrage and near enough to prove he would stay regardless. He came far nearer than Aunt Marie—or most of us—are yet able to recognize. “That is what incarnation means,” writes Frederick Buechner. “It is untheological. It is unsophisticated. It is undignified. But according to Christianity, it is the way things are. All religions and philosophies that deny the reality or the significance of the material, the fleshly, the earthbound, are themselves denied.”(3)

God became one of us, not to erase every shadow or to undo the difficulties of humanity, but to be with us in the midst of it, to transform our spectrum of darkness by bearing a truer depth of light, and to enlarge us with the joy of expectancy until the fullness of time when every hope has come to pass.

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

(1) Garrison Keillor, Leaving Home (New York: Viking, 1987), xxi-xxii.

(2) Eugene Peterson, The Message, Romans 8:24-25.

(3) Frederick Buechner, Beyond Words (New York: Harper Collins, 2004), 169.

 

Joyce Meyer – God Wants You to Show Mercy to Others

Joyce meyer

If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.—Matthew 6:14–15 NLT

Why is it so hard to completely ignore offenses? Even when we do overlook offenses, we want to mention the fact that we overlooked them so the people who offend us do not think they can treat us improperly and get away with it—it is a type of self-protection. But God wants us to trust Him to protect us as well as to heal us from every hurt and emotional wound, every day.

I wonder how weary we would be at the end of each day if God mentioned every tiny thing we did wrong. He does deal with us, but I am quite sure He also overlooks a lot of things. If people are corrected too much, it can discourage them and break their spirits. We should form a habit of dealing only with what God Himself prompts us to address, not just everything we feel like confronting or every little thing that bothers us.

I am the type of person who is not inclined to let anybody get away with anything. I don’t like feeling someone is taking advantage of me, partially because I was abused in my childhood and partially because I am human, and none of us embrace disrespect. In the past, I was quick to tell everyone his or her faults, but I have learned that is not pleasing to God. Just as we want others to give us mercy, we must give it to them. We reap what we sow—nothing more or less. God may even withhold His mercy from us if we are unwilling to give mercy to others.

Jesus said He gives us power even to “trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over all the power that the enemy [possesses]” (Luke 10:19). He promised that nothing will harm us in any way. If we have power over the enemy, surely we can overlook the offenses of others.

Trust in Him: Are you able to overlook offenses—painful or simply obnoxious ones—completely? God has given you the ability to forgive and show mercy to everyone who offends you, and He wants you to trust Him to heal you from every hurt, every day.

 

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Mighty Things Through Faith

dr_bright

“And so [Jesus] did only a few great miracles there, because of their unbelief.” (Matthew 13:58).

It was my first visit to Nazareth, and through a series of fortuitous circumstances, I found myself enjoying lunch with one of the city’s prominent leaders. As we talked together in the crowded dining room our conversation turned to Jesus Christ, and ultimately this gentleman bowed his head and began to pray aloud, inviting Christ to be his Savior and Lord.

The change seemed to be immediate and dramatic, and follow-up has proven that God did meet him and change his life. During the course of our conversation, he indicated that what I had shared with him was a new truth. Though he was religious and active in his church, he never had been told that he should receive Christ.

Upon further exploration, I found that, in the entire community of Nazareth, there were but a few in those days who understood the truth of the living Christ indwelling the believer. I was amazed!

Nazareth was the town in which our Lord had spent approximately thirty years of His life. The son of a carpenter, He had walked those winding streets, living, loving and laughing with other young children as they were growing up. He left the town when He entered His public ministry, and went on to perform mighty miracles, die on the cross for our sins and be raised from the dead – and He changed the whole course of history. But 2,000 years have passed since then, and there is still little evidence of the influence of Jesus in the lives of the people of Nazareth.

Then I remembered that it was said of our Lord, He could do no mighty things in Nazareth because of their unbelief. That seems to be true in more than just that city today. Even though there are a billion and a half professing followers of Christ throughout the world, the majority seem to be practical atheists.

And so, our Lord cannot do mighty things in Nazareth, or throughout the world, because of unbelief. The key to releasing His power to accomplish revolutionary, supernatural things in the world – and in individual lives – is faith. “According to your faith be it unto you” (Matthew 9:29, KJV). “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23, KJV). “The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17, KJV).

Bible Reading: Mark 6:1-5

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Remembering that Jesus Christ lives within me in all of His supernatural power, waiting to accomplish great and mighty things through me, I will trust and obey Him for a life that is characterized by the supernatural, and I will encourage others to do the same.

 

Greg Laurie – A Pivotal Moment in Church History

greglaurie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Max Lucado – Divine Warnings

Max Lucado

Warnings.  Red lights in life that signal us of impending danger. They exist in all parts of life. Sirens scream as a marriage starts to sour; alarms blare when a faith weakens.

We usually know when trouble is just around the corner. Christians who’ve fallen away felt the fire waning long before it went out.  Unwanted pregnancies or explosions of anger are usually the result of a history of ignoring warnings about an impending fire.

Are your senses numb? Are your eyes trained to turn and roll when they should pause and observe?  One-night stands.  Dust-covered Bibles.  Careless choice of companions.  Denial of Christ.

Proverbs 19:27 says, “Cease listening to [My] instruction and you will stray from the words of knowledge.”

Divine warnings.  Inspired by God; tested by time. Heed them and safety is yours to enjoy!

From God Came Near

Our Daily Bread — Be Present

Our Daily Bread

Job 2:3-13

They sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great. —Job 2:13

After 20 children and 6 staff members were murdered in a Connecticut school, the entire nation was stunned that such a horrific thing could happen. Everyone focused on the tragedy and the questions surrounding it: What kind of person would do such a thing, and why? How can we prevent it from happening again? How can we help the survivors? Amid the chaos, an unlikely group moved in and made a difference.

From Chicago came dogs— specially trained golden retrievers that offered nothing except affection. Dogs don’t speak; they simply offer their presence. Children traumatized by the violence opened up to them, expressing fears and emotions they had not spoken to any adult. Tim Hetzner of Lutheran Church Charities said, “The biggest part of their training is just learning to be quiet.”

As we learn from the book of Job, people in grief do not always need words. Sometimes they need someone to sit silently with them, to listen when they need to speak, and to hug them when their sorrow turns to sobs.

God may not intervene to change circumstances and He may not explain suffering, but He comforts us through the presence of other believers (Col. 4:8). —Julie Ackerman Link

He’s with us in the valley,

Amid the darkest night

He tells us in our sorrow;

Faith will give way to sight. —D. DeHaan

Listening may be the most loving and Christlike thing you do today.

Bible in a year: Haggai 1-2; Revelation 17

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – In Context

Ravi Z

The first Christmas narratives remind the enquiring mind that what took place in those days had a context. As a college student in the early 1980′s, I was once challenged by a contemporary who said that the story of the Bible was written by someone under the influence of substances. Coming from one who was especially immersed in Marxian thought, it was logical to interpret the charge as an off- shoot of the Marxian conclusion that religion was the “opium of the masses.”

When Matthew wrote his second chapter, he opened the section with some very important words. The context was being laid out. Had he been covering the section in a classroom talk, he would have pointed to a globe or to a map as he said, “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea…” (Matthew 2:1). In that one statement Matthew conclusively identified the location of God’s activity in relation to the earth. Geography lovers may cheer for that clarity. Matthew then proceeded to make the context even clearer as he approached another realm of study. He entered the worldview of history as he said, “during the time of King Herod” (Matthew 2:1). In Matthew’s understanding, the activity of God during that first Christmas was firmly placed within a context of time, space, and matter. My contemporary, and others holding his Marxian persuasion, would do well to recognize that Matthew’s point is precisely that the story did not happen in the “suspended animation of someone’s imagination.”

Interpreters of biblical texts similarly do well in remembering the principle that “a text without its context can be a pretext.” Think about this. What if Matthew had started his record without his referrals to history and geography in that first Christmas narrative? Imagine he had told us that since it was all about wise men, he was leaving the details to our “wise guesses.” Or what if his narrative began something like, “and it came to pass that wise men came from ‘who knows where’ to some place in the direction of the East…”? Are we not grateful for the unchangeable references of time and space that the narrative affords us?

For over a decade, my wife and I have had the privilege of knowing the pastor of a church in Montoursville Pennsylvania. Over the years, I have heard much of this church in Montoursville. Yet as one who had never actually seen it, I could only rely on pictures and spoken or written words to understand their context. How would it have helped me as I traveled from India to be at this church if the pastor had only told me, “Arun, you are welcome to our church, which is somewhere out there. Just walk about the U.S. and hopefully you’ll get there”?  To reach this context I needed clear guidance.

Similarly, when it came to seeking after the King, the wise men had their guidance. While writing the narrative, the writer had his as well. And while reading the text, we modern readers have ours. The context is always important, and to be guided rightly to it is critical. Montoursville is thus no longer a spot on a map to me. It is a place I have entered.

The most wonderful benefit of appreciating the matter of context in relation to God’s activity is that we are given permission to see things from our context as well–the context of our environmental issues, our bills, our aches and pains, our relationships, our ambitions, our challenges, our accomplishments, our sins, and our failures. Isn’t it simply special that the first Christmas means God not only studied our context; God actually entered it. On account of this step, there is one who can make the claim to understand us. Our pains, disappointments, joys, questions, and complaints are understood. All because Jesus chose to trade his context for ours!

Might you have a blessed season of discovering the delights of his love, clarity, and understanding. And as you discover, might you also come to mark the world by his truths, knowing well that the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never been able to put it out—despite those who still want to chalk the story up to the imagination of the mind.

Arun Andrews is a member of the speaking team with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Bangalore, India.

 

Alistair Begg – The Sponsor and Substitute

Alistair Begg

The last Adam.

1 Corinthians 15:45

Jesus is the representative head of His people. In Adam every heir of flesh and blood has a personal interest, because he is the covenant head and representative of the race when considered under the law of works; so under the law of grace, every redeemed soul is one with the Lord from heaven, since He is the Second Adam, the Sponsor and Substitute of the elect in the new covenant of love.

The apostle Paul declares that Levi was in the loins of Abraham when Melchizedek met him: It is a certain truth that the believer was in the loins of Jesus Christ, the Mediator, when in eternity the covenant settlements of grace were decreed, ratified, and made sure forever.

Whatever Christ has done, He has accomplished for the whole body of His Church. We were crucified in Him and buried with Him (read Col. 2:10-13), and to make it still more wonderful, we are risen with Him and even ascended with Him to the seats on high (Eph. 2:6). It is in this way that the Church has fulfilled the law and is “blessed in the Beloved.”1

She is regarded with satisfaction by the just Jehovah, for He views her in Jesus, and does not look upon her as separate from her covenant head. As the Anointed Redeemer of Israel, Christ Jesus has nothing distinct from His Church, but all that He has He holds for her. Adam’s righteousness was ours so long as he maintained it, and his sin was ours the moment that he committed it; and in the same way, all that the Second Adam is or does is ours as well as His because He is our representative.

Here is the foundation of the covenant of grace. This gracious system of representation and substitution, which moved Justin Martyr to cry out, “O blessed change, O sweet permutation!” is the very groundwork of the Gospel of our salvation and is to be received with strong faith and rapturous joy.

1 Ephesians 1:6

 

 

John MacArthur – Born to Die

John MacArthur

“We . . . see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone” (Heb. 2:9).

At this time of year, it is difficult for us to see Jesus other than as a little baby. We of course know why He came, but we usually focus on His death on the cross at another time of year. But we must never forget that He came to die.

Those soft baby hands fashioned by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb were made to have two great nails hammered through them. Those little chubby feet were to walk up a hill and be nailed to a cross. That sacred head was made to wear a crown of thorns. His tender body wrapped in swaddling clothes would be pierced by a spear to reveal a broken heart. The death of Christ was no accident; He was born to die.

Jesus died to remove the curse so we could regain our dominion. But to do that, He had to come as a man. Even though in doing so He temporarily became lower than the angels, He accomplished something no angel could: our restoration.

The first and foremost reason for the incarnation is that Christ might taste death on behalf of every man and woman. He came to die in our place–to be our substitute. God had two options: Either let us die and pay for our own sins, or allow a substitute to take our punishment and die in our place. He mercifully chose the latter.

It is vital that we affirm the fact of Christ’s substitutionary death because modern liberal theology claims Jesus died merely as an example, like a martyr dying for some cause. But He died as a substitute for you and me. As a result He freed us to live for and with God. Rejoice that the creator of angels, the Lord of hosts, would become lower than His creation for our sakes.

Suggestion for Prayer:

Thank the Lord for His willingness to humble Himself to become a man to save you.

For Further Study:

Read Psalm 22 and note which verses prophesy Jesus’ suffering on the cross.