Tag Archives: daily devotion

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning  “Ye must be born again.” / John 3:7

Regeneration is a subject which lies at the very basis of salvation, and we should be very diligent to take heed that we really are “born again,” for there are many who fancy they are, who are not. Be assured that the name of a Christian is not the nature of a Christian; and that being born in a Christian land, and being recognized as professing the Christian religion is of no avail whatever, unless there be something more added to it–the being “born again,” is a matter so mysterious, that human words cannot describe it. “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” Nevertheless, it is a change which is known and felt: known by works of holiness, and felt by a gracious experience. This great work is supernatural. It is not an operation which a man performs for himself: a new principle is infused, which works in the heart, renews the soul, and affects the entire man. It is not a change of my name, but a renewal of my nature, so that I am not the man I used to be, but a new man in Christ Jesus. To wash and dress a corpse is a far different thing from making it alive: man can do the one, God alone can do the other. If you have then, been “born again,” your acknowledgment will be, “O Lord Jesus, the everlasting Father, thou art my spiritual Parent; unless thy Spirit had breathed into me the breath of a new, holy, and spiritual life, I had been to this day dead in trespasses and sins.’ My heavenly life is wholly derived from thee, to thee I ascribe it. My life is hid with Christ in God.’ It is no longer I who live, but Christ who liveth in me.” May the Lord enable us to be well assured on this vital point, for to be unregenerate is to be unsaved, unpardoned, without God, and without hope.

 

Evening  “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty.” / Proverbs 18:12

It is an old and common saying, that “coming events cast their shadows before them;” the wise man teaches us that a haughty heart is the prophetic prelude of evil. Pride is as safely the sign of destruction as the change of mercury in the weather-glass is the sign of rain; and far more infallibly so than that. When men have ridden the high horse, destruction has always overtaken them. Let David’s aching heart show that there is an eclipse of a man’s glory when he dotes upon his own greatness. 2 Sam. 24:10. See Nebuchadnezzar, the mighty builder of Babylon, creeping on the earth, devouring grass like oxen, until his nails had grown like bird’s claws, and his hair like eagle’s feathers. Dan. 4:33. Pride made the boaster a beast, as once before it made an angel a devil. God hates high looks, and never fails to bring them down. All the arrows of God are aimed at proud hearts. O Christian, is thine heart haughty this evening? For pride can get into the Christian’s heart as well as into the sinner’s; it can delude him into dreaming that he is “rich and increased in goods, and hath need of nothing.” Art thou glorying in thy graces or thy talents? Art thou proud of thyself, that thou hast had holy frames and sweet experiences? Mark thee, reader, there is a destruction coming to thee also. Thy flaunting poppies of self-conceit will be pulled up by the roots, thy mushroom graces will wither in the burning heat, and thy self-sufficiency shall become as straw for the dunghill. If we forget to live at the foot of the cross in deepest lowliness of spirit, God will not forget to make us smart under his rod. A destruction will come to thee, O unduly exalted believer, the destruction of thy joys and of thy comforts, though there can be no destruction of thy soul. Wherefore, “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

John MacArthur – Praying with Fervency

 

“I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes” (Dan. 9:3).

People view prayer differently. For some it is a last resort after all human options have been exhausted: “All I can do now is pray for you!” Others liken it to a spiritual spare tire–something used only in the event of an emergency. Many who should thrive on prayer have been lulled into complacency by an affluent and godless society.

Daniel, however, saw prayer as an opportunity to express the passion and fervency of his heart to the God he loved and served. In Daniel 9:3 he says, “I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him.” That implies he set apart a specific time to devote to thoughtful, earnest, and fervent prayer. That is further supported by the way he prepared himself through fasting and donning sackcloth and ashes–symbols of humility and deep contrition over sin.

It might seem unusual for a man of Daniel’s spiritual stature to be overwhelmed by his sense of sin, but the closer one draws to God, the more aware he is of his sinfulness. We see that in Paul, who called himself the foremost of all sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). That might seem like a ridiculous statement to us but Paul saw sin for what it was. So did Daniel.

The title “Lord God” in verse 3 emphasizes God’s sovereign rule over all things. Daniel knew that God had permitted the Babylonian Captivity and that He alone could deliver His people from it. Consequently, Daniel gave the Lord his undivided attention as he prayed and sought mercy for himself and his people.

Daniel’s fervency is a rebuke to much of the flippancy we hear in prayer today. It was profound because it was generated by God’s Word and grounded in His will.

James 5:16 says, “The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (KJV). Be like Daniel–a righteous person who prays fervently with great effect.

Suggestions for Prayer:  Ask God to give you a greater sense of fervency in prayer.

Be sensitive to any sin that might be hindering your prayers.

For Further Study:  Read Luke 11:5-13.

What parable did Jesus tell to illustrate the benefits of humble, persistent prayer?

How did Jesus contrast earthly fathers with their heavenly Father?

Joyce Meyer – One Presses You Down, the Other Lifts You Up

 

I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide. I said, I will confess my transgressions to the Lord [continually unfolding the past till all is told]—then You [instantly] forgave me the guilt and iniquity of my sin. —Psalm 32:5

We must learn the difference between condemnation and conviction. Condemnation presses us down and manifests as a heavy burden that requires us to pay for our errors. Conviction is the work of the

Holy Spirit, showing us that we have sinned and inviting us to confess our sins in order to receive forgiveness and God’s help to improve our behavior in the future. Condemnation makes the problem worse; conviction is intended to lift us out of it.

When you feel guilty, the first thing to do is ask yourself if you are guilty according to God’s Word. Perhaps you are. If so, confess your sin to God; turn away from that sin and don’t repeat it. If you need to apologize to someone you have wronged, do it. Then…forgive yourself and let go of it! God already forgave you, and if you refuse to do the same, then you’ll miss out on the joy of redemption that God wants us all to experience.

Sometimes you may well find that you are not guilty according to God’s Word. For example, I can recall feeling guilty when I tried to rest. For years I drove myself incessantly to work, work, work because I felt good when I was accomplishing something and felt guilty if I was enjoying myself. That thinking is totally wrong according to God’s Word. Even He rested from His work of creation, and He has invited us to enter His rest. The guilt I felt when I tried to rest was unscriptural, irrational, and downright ridiculous. When I stopped believing my feelings alone and started truly examining them in the light of God’s Word, I stopped feeling guilty.

Trust God and His Word to reveal to you when your guilt is false and your thinking is wrong.

Trust in Him: What makes you feel guilty? What does God’s Word say about the situation? Stop believing your feelings that condemn you, and put your trust in His Word that convicts.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – No Longer Under Law

 

“So there is now no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

What an exciting fact! We are no longer under the law. We have been liberated from the bondage of trying to please God through our self-effort.

What is our motivation under grace? Under law our motivation was fear, and desire for reward and blessing; under grace, our basic motivation is an expression of gratitude – an inward appreciation and response to God’s love and grace.

Why do we do what we do as Christians? We should respond because we, like the apostle Paul, are constrained by the love of Christ. We live for the glory of God. You will remember that the apostle Paul had been beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked, starved, buffeted, criticized and condemned, yet he said, “The love of Christ constrains me.”

Even if there were no rewards for those who live godly lives and obey our Savior, the reward of knowing Him as our God and Father, being forgiven of sin and cleansed from all guilt, is more than just enough; it is unfathomable. We can know Him, love Him, worship Him and serve Him by faith – here and now!

A young man I know is writing a book on how to become rich in the kingdom of God. He is basing his theme on the rewards that will be his by winning souls. “I want to be rich in heaven,” he says.

That may be a worthwhile goal, but it is not mine. Mine is gratitude and love. I love Him because He first loved me – died for me, liberated me, set me free.

Bible Reading: Romans 8:2-6

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will sing praises and give thanks in my heart to the Lord upon every remembrance of the liberty and grace that is mine in Christ Jesus, and I will tell everyone who will listen that we are no longer in bondage to sin, for Christ has set us free.

Presidential Prayer Team – Fail-Safe Power

 

On July 13, 1977, New York City suffered a massive blackout as lightning downed major transmission power lines supplying the grid into the metropolitan area. According to the Blackout History Project, looters broke into stores, taking merchandise and destroying local businesses. Within two days, police had arrested 3,766 looters and the city had suffered an economic blow placed at more than $300 million.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. Acts 1:8

Christ’s grid for victorious living involves power, too, but not the kind lost with a lightning storm. Before Jesus left the Earth, He told His disciples not to leave Jerusalem until they had received the power of the Holy Spirit. “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” (John 16:13)

God offers the gift of the Holy Spirit to all who believe. You only have to receive it. Without that gift of power, you’ll be in the dark. You can’t have His light without power (John 8:12). Ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit and “speak the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:31) Then pray for your nation’s leaders to recognize the true power of God, and for it to be supplied into their lives.

Recommended Reading: Acts 4:23-31

Greg Laurie – Songs in the Night

 

The Lord will command His loving kindness 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 to 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” that is 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 are not 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 just the fact that they were singing to the Lord 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 songs in the night.

Max Lucado – God Gave His Best

 

Jenna, wake up.  It’s time to go to school. For four lightning-fast years she’d been ours, and ours alone. And now that was all going to change.  I knew it was time. And I knew she would be fine.  But I never knew it would be so hard to give her up on her first day of preschool.

Is that how you felt, God? Is what I felt that morning anything like what you felt when you gave up your son? It explains how your heart must have ached as you heard the cracking voice of Jesus say, “Father take this cup away.” (Mark 14:36).

I said good-bye and sent my little Jenna into a safe environment with a compassionate teacher ready to wipe away any tears. Yet, you Father, released Jesus into a hostile arena with a cruel soldier who turned the back of your son into raw meat.

God gave His best, the apostle Paul reasons. Why should we ever doubt His love?

Charles Stanley – Listening to God

 

2 Samuel 7:8-22

Of all the heroes in Scripture, few are spoken of as respectfully as King David. What made him so special? David himself wondered the same thing(2 Sam. 7:18) The best answer is simply that he was a man who listened to God.

Righteousness is impossible unless we listen to the Father. When we do, we gain divine guidance, direction, discipline, and encouragement. This was certainly true of the shepherd-king (Ps. 63:1-8).

In the Psalms, we get a beautiful picture of David’s prayer life. Note four things he did when meditating on God:

1. He reviewed the past. Though David had made some serious mistakes, those hard times produced a necessary humility. Looking back helped him remember God’s faithfulness.

2. He reflected upon the Lord’s character. When we focus on His attributes, we grow in our understanding of who He is. This results in a more personal, interactive relationship.

3. David recalled God’s promises. He knew the Lord had always directed his steps—and with great success.

4. He made requests of his heavenly Father. God never intended for us to go through life alone. He is always ready to act on our behalf.

Stop for a minute and think about how you typically interact with God. If prayer time is dominated by your own talking, some adjustments may be in order. Just as the Lord spoke to David, God also has many things to say to you, if you’ll simply let Him speak.

Our Daily Bread — Forced Leisure

 

Zephaniah 3:14-20

The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. —Zephaniah 3:17

Just before Christmas one year, a friend was diagnosed with leukemia and was told she must begin chemotherapy immediately. Just a few weeks earlier, Kim had told friends how blessed and content she felt with a loving family, a comfortable home, and a new grandson. As she entered the hospital, Kim asked Jesus to make His presence known to her and to stay close.

The next 7 months of treatments followed by recovery in partial isolation became a season she calls “forced leisure.” She says she learned how to slow down, reflect quietly, and rest in God’s goodness, love, and perfect plan—regardless of whether or not she would be healed.

One of God’s promises to His people Israel became personal to Kim: “The Lord your God . . . will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing” (Zeph. 3:17).

Kim is in remission after a journey she says changed her life for the better. Now back in her busy routine, she often pauses to recapture the lessons of “forced leisure.”

How important that we—in good times or times of challenge—draw near to God’s loving heart to hear His voice and place our lives in His hands. —David McCasland

A troubled heart, a wearied mind

Are burdens hard to bear;

A lack of peace, a heavy load

Are lifted by God’s care. —Fitzhugh

 

People are at the heart of God’s heart.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Patience of Salvation

 

More often than I’d care to admit, I find that I am in a hurry. Now, it’s not the typical kind of hurrying—rushing to get into the ten items or less lane at the grocery story, speeding through traffic, or running around juggling four or five tasks at a time. It’s more an inability to be present to my life as it is right now. So often I find that no matter the circumstances, I’m hurrying through them, wondering or worrying what is next.

This pattern of hurrying through life to the “next event” seems fairly typical and engrained from a young age. When I was a child, I couldn’t wait to be a teenager. When I was a teenager, I couldn’t wait to be in college. When I was in college, I couldn’t wait to be a graduate student. When I was a graduate student, I couldn’t wait to be a professional. I look back on those hurried days now and lament that I rushed through them so quickly.

Of course, our efficiency-driven society doesn’t help our propensity towards hurrying through life. We live in an “instant” society, and our increasingly rapid technological developments only add to our impatience when things are not achieved instantaneously. While technology has greatly improved many aspects of our lives, I recognize that my own propensity to hurry, coupled with a society that moves at ever-quickening speeds, can be very detrimental for making myself present to right now. If my focus is consistently on the next event or milestone and if I want to get there with increasing speed, I cannot focus on the space that is now, nor can I be content.

The lives depicted in the Bible couldn’t be more different from our hurried lives. More importantly, and perhaps to our great frustration, the God revealed in the biblical stories is rarely in a hurry. Abraham and Sarah, for example, received the promise of an heir twenty-five years before they actually laid eyes on Isaac. Joseph had a dream as a seventeen year-old that his brothers would one day bow down to him. Yet it was countless years and many difficulties later that his brothers would come and kneel before him, asking for food. Moses was eighty years old—long past his prime of life—when God appeared to him in the burning bush and called him to deliver the children of Israel. David was anointed king by Samuel as a young boy tending his father’s flocks, long before he finally ascended to the throne. And Jesus spent thirty years in relative obscurity, not involved in public ministry, and only three years announcing the kingdom and God’s rule in his life and ministry.

Perhaps both from a Christian perspective and a skeptical one, it is difficult to understand why God wouldn’t be more in a hurry rushing to accomplish divine plans and purposes, not only in these individuals’ lives, but also in the work of redemption. The Messiah was prophesied hundreds of years before he actually arrived on the scene. We cannot help but ask why God seems to move so slowly?

In Peter’s second letter, what is considered his last will and testament, he discusses the slowness of God in relation to the second coming of Christ. Many arose even in Peter’s time asking why God was so slow when it came to delivering on his promise of an eternal kingdom. They began to mock God assuming that “as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be.” Not so, Peter argues, for the slowness of God is in fact our salvation. “The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance… Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation” (2 Peter 3:9, 14-15).

The long, slow, journey through the forty days prior to Easter morning can also seem an arduous time for those of us who find ourselves in a hurry, racing towards the empty tomb and resurrection life. But these forty days can serve to remind us of God’s great forbearance and patience with us, even as they hearken to us to enter the wild spaces of wilderness waiting with Jesus. These days intentionally slow us and create space—what theologians call liminal space—making room for those of us who rush to wait and rest in the “in-between” and the “not yet” for God to act. Waiting for God in this liminal space gives us more opportunity to be patient—learning to regard, as Peter says, the patience of our Lord to be salvation.

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

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning “Let us not sleep, as do others.” / 1 Thessalonians 5:6

There are many ways of promoting Christian wakefulness. Among the rest, let me strongly advise Christians to converse together concerning the ways of the Lord. Christian and Hopeful, as they journeyed towards the Celestial City, said to themselves, “To prevent drowsiness in this place, let us fall into good discourse.” Christian enquired, “Brother, where shall we begin?” And Hopeful answered, “Where God began with us.” Then Christian sang this song–

“When saints do sleepy grow, let them come hither,

And hear how these two pilgrims talk together;

Yea, let them learn of them, in any wise,

Thus to keep open their drowsy slumb’ring eyes.

Saints’ fellowship, if it be managed well,

Keeps them awake, and that in spite of hell.”

Christians who isolate themselves and walk alone, are very liable to grow drowsy. Hold Christian company, and you will be kept wakeful by it, and refreshed and encouraged to make quicker progress in the road to heaven. But as you thus take “sweet counsel” with others in the ways of God, take care that the theme of your converse is the Lord Jesus. Let the eye of faith be constantly looking unto him; let your heart be full of him; let your lips speak of his worth. Friend, live near to the cross, and thou wilt not sleep. Labour to impress thyself with a deep sense of the value of the place to which thou art going. If thou rememberest that thou art going to heaven, thou wilt not sleep on the road. If thou thinkest that hell is behind thee, and the devil pursuing thee, thou wilt not loiter. Would the manslayer sleep with the avenger of blood behind him, and the city of refuge before him? Christian, wilt thou sleep whilst the pearly gates are open–the songs of angels waiting for thee to join them–a crown of gold ready for thy brow? Ah! no; in holy fellowship continue to watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation.

 

Evening “Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.” / Psalm 35:3

What does this sweet prayer teach me? It shall be my evening’s petition; but first let it yield me an instructive meditation. The text informs me first of all that David had his doubts; for why should he pray, “Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation,” if he were not sometimes exercised with doubts and fears? Let me, then, be of good cheer, for I am not the only saint who has to complain of weakness of faith. If David doubted, I need not conclude that I am no Christian because I have doubts. The text reminds me that David was not content while he had doubts and fears, but he repaired at once to the mercy-seat to pray for assurance; for he valued it as much fine gold. I too must labour after an abiding sense of my acceptance in the Beloved, and must have no joy when his love is not shed abroad in my soul. When my Bridegroom is gone from me, my soul must and will fast. I learn also that David knew where to obtain full assurance. He went to his God in prayer, crying, “Say unto my soul I am thy salvation.” I must be much alone with God if I would have a clear sense of Jesus’ love. Let my prayers cease, and my eye of faith will grow dim. Much in prayer, much in heaven; slow in prayer, slow in progress. I notice that David would not be satisfied unless his assurance had a divine source. “Say unto my soul.” Lord, do thou say it! Nothing short of a divine testimony in the soul will ever content the true Christian. Moreover, David could not rest unless his assurance had a vivid personality about it. “Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.” Lord, if thou shouldst say this to all the saints, it were nothing, unless thou shouldst say it to me. Lord, I have sinned; I deserve not thy smile; I scarcely dare to ask it; but oh! say to my soul, even to my soul, “I am thy salvation.” Let me have a present, personal, infallible, indisputable sense that I am thine, and that thou art mine.

John MacArthur – Praying According to God’s Will

 

“The word of the Lord [came] to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem” (Dan. 9:2).

It is characteristic of God’s people to identify with God’s purposes and conform their will to His. Learning to pray according to His will is a major step in that process because it drives you to the Word and demonstrates a humble, submissive heart.

Jesus emphasized the priority of God’s will when He said, “I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:58). He accomplished that goal, saying to the Father, “I glorified Thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which Thou hast given Me to do” (John 17:4). Even when facing the horror of the cross, Jesus didn’t waver. Instead He prayed, “Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done” (Luke 22:42).

Jesus taught His disciples the same priority, instructing them to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:9-10).

Daniel knew what it meant to pray according to God’s will. After reading the prophecy of a seventy-year Babylonian Captivity, he immediately accepted it as God’s will and began to pray for its fulfillment. His prayer wasn’t passive resignation to some act of fate beyond his control. It was active participation in God’s plan as revealed in Scripture. He wasn’t trying to change God’s will but was doing everything he could to see it come to pass. That’s the essence of praying according to God’s will.

When you pray according to God’s will, you can be confident that He hears you and will grant your requests (1 John 5:14-15). Live in that confidence today!

Suggestions for Prayer: Be a diligent student of the Word so you will know God’s will.

Ask God to reveal areas in which your will is not conformed to His. As He does, take immediate steps to deal with them.

For Further Study: Read Revelation 22:6-21, noting God’s will for Christ’s return, and how we’re to respond to it.

Walk This Way by Joyce Meyer

 

And your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, This is the way; walk in it, when you turn to the right hand and when you turn to the left. —Isaiah 30:21

No matter what has happened to you in your lifetime—even if you have been abandoned by your spouse or abused by your parents or hurt by your children or others—if you will stay on the path on which God leads you and be willing to leave your past behind, you will find peace, joy, and fulfillment. As you walk through this process, you can find comfort in God’s promise from today’s scripture to guide you.

Jesus is the Way, and He has shown us the way in which we are to walk. The Lord has sent His Holy Spirit to lead and guide us in the way we are to go, the narrow way that leads to life, not the broad way that leads to destruction (see Matt. 7:14).

God says that as long as the earth remains, there will be “seedtime and harvest” (Gen. 8:22). We might paraphrase it this way: “As long as the earth remains, there will be seed, time and harvest.” When we walk in God’s path, we must be patient like the farmer who plants and expectantly waits for the harvest. He looks forward to the harvest, but he knows that time will elapse between seed planting and reaping. He does not allow that God-ordained process to frustrate him. Don’t let it frustrate you, either.

Today’s scripture promises that God will lead us in the way that we should go. Don’t be afraid, continue doing what is right, and you will live a blessed, joyful life.

Love God Today: Listen for God’s voice, and keep walking on the path that leads to life and blessing.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – How Dearly God Loves Us

 

“…we are able to hold our heads high no matter what happens and know that all is well, for we know how dearly God loves us, and we feel this warm love everywhere within us because God has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love” (Romans 5:5).

For years I had often spoken on the subject of love – the greatest privilege and power known to man. But, as in the case of most sermons on love, something was missing.

Then many years ago, in an early hour of the morning, I was awakened from a deep sleep. I knew that God had something to say to me. I felt impressed to get up, open my Bible and kneel to read and pray.

What I discovered during the next two hours has since enriched my life and the lives of tens of thousands of others. I learned how to love. With this discovery, God gave me the command to share this wonderful truth with Christians around the world.

There are five things every person needs to know about love.

First, God loves us with an unconditional love. The love that God has for us is without measure and will continue forever.

Second, we are commanded to love. “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment,” (Matthew 22:37,38). We are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves and we are even to love our enemies.

Third, we cannot love in our own strength.

Fourth, we can love with God’s love. It was God’s love that brought us to Christ.

Fifth, we love by faith. Everything about the Christian life is based on faith. We love by faith just as we received Christ by faith, just as we are filled with the Holy Spirit by faith and just as we walk by faith.

In 1 John 5:14,15, we read: “And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us: And if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him” (KJV).

Bible Reading: Romans 8:14-17

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will make a list of everyone I do not like. Then, on the basis of God’s command to love all men, I will claim the promise of 1 John 5:14,15 and begin to love others by faith as a way of life.

Presidential Prayer Team – Real Power Source

 

A 300-foot tower stood in the middle of the Mojave Desert. The Solar One project was the first test of a large-scale thermal power plant.

Behold, I have given you authority…over all the power of the enemy – Luke 10:19

Solar One collected energy by concentrating the sun’s rays onto a common focal point to produce heat to run a generator. It had 1,818 mirrors that reflected solar energy onto a tower where a black receiver absorbed the heat. The tower itself did not have the ability to generate power. Light from the sun, the real source of energy, was reflected onto a helpless receiver.

God’s power is most evident when it is displayed through weak vessels. II Corinthians 4:7 says, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” In this verse, clay jars are a metaphor for fragile human bodies.

God has all the power you need to overcome challenges and be a shining reflection of His love to others. Tap into His energy source through prayer and reading the Bible. Pray also that God’s light will be shown through Christians so their lives will have a positive effect on the nation’s leaders.

Recommended Reading: I Corinthians 1:18-31

 

Greg Laurie – Following His Lead

 

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps—Proverbs 16:9

When I first started out preaching, I wanted to be an evangelist more than anything else. I went to a Billy Graham Crusade and said, “Man, that is what I want to be when I grow up!” I never dreamed that I would preach in large stadiums, but I just felt that God had called me to bring the Good News to people. I didn’t feel called to be a Bible teacher; I just wanted to share the gospel.

For a couple of years, I traveled around with Christian bands and shared the gospel. And then this little Bible study opened up in Riverside, California, which no one else wanted to lead anymore. So it was passed around from various pastors, friends that I knew at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa. Then they said, “Well, Greg, why don’t you do it?”

So I did. The Lord blessed that Bible study, and it started to grow. So I thought, I have to get someone to take over this Bible study, because I am called to be an evangelist. But it kept growing, and people started calling me Pastor Greg. I thought, I am not your pastor. I am 21 years old. I don’t think you really want me as your pastor.

Then I began to realize that God was calling me to be a pastor. But here was the problem. This church was in Riverside, and I lived in Orange County. I was born and raised in Orange County. I did not want to go to Riverside. That was inland. I wanted to stay at the beach. But the Lord was directing me, and so I went, and I continued to teach. The Bible study grew and grew and grew. Fast-forward a number of years, and it is a church of 15,000 people.

Sometimes God leads us in a different direction than where we want to go. But we must trust Him because He knows the way.

Max Lucado – Is Heaven for Me?

 

My friend Joy teaches children in an inner city church. Her class is a lively group of nine-year-olds. There’s one exception—a timid girl named Barbara. Her difficult home life had left her afraid and insecure. She never spoke.  Never.  Always present.  Always listening.  Always speechless. Until the day Joy talked about heaven—about seeing God. About tearless eyes and deathless lives. Barbara raised her hand.  “Mrs. Joy? Is heaven for girls like me?”

I would’ve given a thousand sunsets to have seen Jesus’ face as this tiny prayer reached His throne. A prayer to do what God does best: To take a pebble and kill a Goliath. To take a peasant boy’s lunch and fed a multitude. To take three spikes and a wooden beam and make them the hope of humanity. To take the common and make it spectacular!

Charles Stanley – Identifying the Voice of God

 

Matthew 16:21-25

At a very young age, a baby begins to identify his parents’ voices. Even after hearing them speak for just a few weeks, the child starts to distinguish that they sound different from other people. Similarly, God has supplied us—His children—with the capacity to recognize His voice. Over time we can learn to distinguish Him speaking to us through His Word, His responses to our prayers, and godly people.

To help identify God’s voice, ask:

• Is the message consistent with the Word of God? By examining Scripture, we will know to reject the voice that tells us we are under condemnation (Rom. 8:1) and accept the truth that the Lord forgives us.

• Does what we hear conflict with human reasoning? If so, it could be from the Lord—He tells us to turn the other cheek and love our enemies, plus other unexpected things like, “The last shall be first.”

• Do God’s words clash with our fleshly desires? He wants us to have godly enjoyment but objects to our gratifying earthly desires outside His plan.

• Are His words a challenge to our faith? He wants to build our faith to deepen the relationship with Him.

• Is courage required to obey God? When He speaks, a decision requiring sacrifice or change of direction is often necessary.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11), and He promises that we will be able to distinguish His voice so we can follow Him. He doesn’t want us listening to “strangers,” because then it would be easy for us to be led astray (vv. 4-5). Won’t you spend time in God’s Word so you will know His voice?

Our Daily Bread — They’re Watching

 

Titus 3:1-8

Speak evil of no one, . . . be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. —Titus 3:2

It’s been several decades since a high school event devastated me. Playing sports was hugely important to me. I zeroed in on basketball and spent hundreds of hours practicing my game. So when I didn’t make the varsity team in my last year after being on the team since junior high, I was crushed.

Disappointed and confused, I carried on. I became a stats guy for the team, going to games and keeping track of my friends’ rebounds and shots as they got within one game of the state championship without me. To be honest, I never thought of how they were viewing my response. I just muddled through. That’s why I was surprised recently to hear that several of my classmates told my brother that they saw in my response a lesson in Christianity—a picture of Christ. My point is not to tell you to do as I did, because I’m not sure what I did. My point is this: Whether we know it or not, people are watching us.

In Titus 3:1-8, Paul explains the life God enables us to live—a life of respect, obedience, and kindness that results from being reborn through Jesus and renewed by the Holy Spirit who has been poured out on us.

As we live a Spirit-guided life, God will show the reality of His presence to others through us. —Dave Branon

Dear Father, You know how inadequate I am.

Please equip me through the Spirit to show love

and respect in my life so that others will see

through me and see You.

 

A Christian is a living sermon whether or not he preaches a word.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Burying Our Illusions

 

“[W]e are perpetually disillusioned. The perfect life is spread before us every day, but it changes and withers at a touch.”(1)

The author of this comment did not have the dashed hopes of a person weary of contemporary political promises; nor the disappointment of a child after his once-adored Wii lost its thrill; nor the dispirited outlook of a modern youth disenchanted with rampant consumerism and the daunting purposelessness of life. No, long before video games existed, long before Generation Y was disillusioned with Generation X or X with the Baby Boomers before them, disillusionment reigned nonetheless. It was a social commentator in the late 1920′s who made this comment about his own disillusioned culture, words which in fact came more than a decade after a group of literary notables identified themselves as the “Lost Generation,” so-named because of their own general feeling of disillusionment.  In other words, disillusionment is epidemic.

As humans who tell and hear and live by stories, the possibility of taking in a story that is bigger than reality is quite likely. (Advertisers, in fact, count on it.) Subsequently, disillusionment is a quality that follows humanity and its stories around. Yet despite its common occurrence, disillusionment is a crushing blow, and the collateral damage of shattered expectations quite painful. With good reason, we speak of it in terms of the discomfort and disruption that it fosters; we frame the crushing of certain hope and images in terms of loss and difficulty. The disillusioned do not speak of their losses lightly, no more than victims of burglary move quickly past the feeling of loss and violation.

And yet, practically speaking, disillusionment is the loss of illusion. In terms of larceny, then, it is the equivalent of having one’s high cholesterol or a perpetually bad habit stolen. Disillusionment, while painful, is evidence which shows the myths that enchant us need not blind us forever, a sign that what is falsely believed can be shattered by what is genuine. In such terms, disillusion is far less an unwanted intrusion than it is a severe mercy, far more like a surgeon’s excising of a tumor than a cruel removal of hope.

The crucifixion of the Son of God is something like this. The death of God? There are no categories with which to understand it. For those who first held hope in the person of Jesus, it was the same. The death of the one thought to be the Messiah? It was an event that leveled them with disillusioned agony. New Testament scholar N.T. Wright describes the force of this dissonance:
”There were, to be sure, ways of coping with the death of a teacher, or even a leader. The picture of Socrates was available, in the wider world, as a model of unjust death nobly borne. The category of ‘martyr’ was available, within Judaism, for someone who stood up to pagans… The category of failed but still revered Messiah, however, did not exist. A Messiah who died at the hands of the pagans, instead of winning [God’s] battle against them, was a deceiver.”(2)

For those who loved Jesus most, it took time to see that it was not hope but their hopeful illusions that died with him on the cross. Everything they thought God was, every hope for a messiah wielding power and control, every image of God winning the battle and taking a stand against their oppressors, everything they thought they knew about religion, painfully, but mercifully died on a shameful, Roman cross. We, too, bury our illusions with the body of God. But it is no simple journey. The powerful words of poet W. H. Auden describe what is often the case in a world filled with sickly sweet illusion:

We would rather be ruined than changed;

We would rather die in our dread

Than climb the cross of the moment

And let our illusions die.(3)

Yet if we will allow it, this death can be far more than loss. While advertisers count on our moving from one dead illusion to another, the death of Christ tells a completely different kind of story, a demythologizing story, which cuts through the storied layers of illusion we continually create about ourselves, the world, and others. Within such a story, disillusionment is the precursor to nothing short of resurrection. And faith is the audacity to confront our illusions with a cross. In the words of author Parker Palmer, “[F]aith is the courage to face into our illusions and allow ourselves to be disillusioned about them, the courage to walk through our illusions and dispel them.  Faith…[is] a disillusioned view of reality…that lets the beauty behind the illusions shine through.”(4) Burying our illusions with the body of God, we mourn our losses and lament over the graves of dead dreams and expectations, hopes and visions. We stand in painful, faithful disillusionment. But so we stand aware that we may be equally startled by what emerges from the tomb.

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

(1) John Boynton Priestley, “The Disillusioned,” in The Balconinny and Other Essays (London: Methuen, 1929), 30.

(2) N.T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996), 658.

(3) W.H. Auden, Collected Poems (New York: Random House, 2007), 530.

(4) Parker Palmer, “Faith or Frenzy: Living Contemplation in a World of Action,” The Clampit Lectures, 1972.