Tag Archives: faith

John MacArthur – Putting God First

 

“Hallowed be Thy name” (Matt. 6:9).

The Disciples’ Prayer illustrates the priority that God should hold in our prayers. Jesus began by exalting the Father: “Hallowed be Thy name” (v. 9), then requested that the Father’s kingdom come and His will be done (v. 10). He concluded with an anthem of praise: “For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen” (v. 13). His prayer literally begins and ends with God.

“Hallowed be Thy name” exalts the name of the Lord and sets a tone of worship and submission that is sustained throughout the prayer. Where God’s name is hallowed, He will be loved and revered, His kingdom eagerly anticipated, and His will obeyed.

“Thy name” speaks of more than a title such as “God,” “Lord,” or “Jehovah.” It speaks of God Himself and is the composite of all His attributes. The Hebrews considered God’s name so sacred they wouldn’t even speak it, but they missed the point. While meticulously guarding the letters of His name, they slandered His character and disobeyed His Word. Because of them the name of God was blasphemed among the Gentiles (Rom. 2:24).

Psalm 102:15 says, “The nations will fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth Thy glory.” It’s not the letters of God’s name that the nations fear; it’s the embodiment of all He is. As Jesus prayed, “I manifested Thy name to the men whom Thou gavest Me” (John 17:6). He did that by revealing who God is. John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus told Philip, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Jesus is the manifestation of all who God is.

Manifesting the priority of God in your prayers involves acknowledging who He is and approaching Him with a reverent, humble spirit that is yielded to His will. As you do that, He will hallow His name through you.

Suggestions for Prayer: Praise God for His holiness.

Ask Him to use you today to demonstrate His holiness to others.

For Further Study: Read Numbers 20. How did Moses show irreverence for God’s name?

 

Joyce Meyer – Linger in God’s Presence

 

Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon Him.—Psalm 37:7

Sometimes in our conferences, we just “hang out” in God’s presence. We sing and worship Him, and soon we enjoy the freshness of His marvelous wonder.

When we sense God is working in people’s hearts, we don’t worry about our meeting schedule or agenda. We set everything aside to just enjoy His awesome power working among His people. Many who came feeling bad are refreshed, and the sick are healed during this time of worship and waiting on the Lord. It happens all the time—there is healing in God’s presence.

If you feel discouraged, He will cheer you up. If you feel tired, He will strengthen you. Just sit in His presence and wait for Him to move in your life.

Presidential Prayer Team, A.W. – Passing God’s Polygraph

 

For centuries, people have sought ways to determine if someone is lying. Ancient Chinese and Hindu civilizations asked “suspects” to put a grain of rice in their mouth. If the rice was dry when he spit it out, or if it stuck to his mouth, he was considered guilty. Today, the polygraph – or “lie detector” – doesn’t detect lies at all, but shows physiological changes in a person’s heart rate, blood pressure, respiration and perspiration that may suggest they’re trying to hide something. Neither method is accurate. How things appear on the outside doesn’t necessarily match what’s real on the inside.

You, Lord, who know the hearts of all. Acts 1:24

God, though, always knows the inside. In today’s verse, the disciples were replacing Judas and prayed for the Lord to reveal the best choice by looking at the hearts of those selected. They couldn’t choose by looking at outward behavior. They had to know what was really going on inside.

Does your outside and inside match? God knows, even if no one else does. Pray today for the Lord to create a clean heart in you (Psalm 51:10) so you’ll be genuine and free of deception. Intercede also for the nation’s leaders’ hearts to be aligned with God’s Word and for their actions to have total integrity.

Recommended Reading: I Samuel 16:6-13

Greg Laurie – Infiltrate, Not Isolate

 

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance—1 Peter 3:9

Far too often it seems that Christians don’t want to have any contact with unbelievers. Maybe they don’t want to talk to them for fear of being polluted spiritually. But the church needs to infiltrate, not isolate. And to reach our culture, Christians must go where people are.

I am not saying that we should spend time around unbelievers and stay silent about our faith. We should speak up for Christ when the moment is right. At the very least, we should live a godly life as an example of what it is to follow Jesus Christ.

We see Jesus demonstrating this as He adapted His approach with the people He spoke to. With Nicodemus, who was powerful and affluent, Jesus told him that he must be born again (see John 3:1–17). With the immoral Samaritan woman, He reached out to her and engaged her in conversation (see John 4:1–26).

Before we can reach people, we first have to care. And I think one of the reasons we don’t share our faith more often is because we don’t care. We might think another person’s eternal destiny is their problem. If an unbeliever argues with us, we tend to think, Forget it then. I am going to heaven. You can go to hell if you want to. It is not my problem.

But actually, it is our problem, because they need someone to engage them. They need someone to share the gospel accurately with them. So we need to pray that God will give us a burden for people who do not yet know Him.

The great commentator Alexander MacLaren said, “You tell me the depth of a Christian’s compassion, and I will tell you the measure of his usefulness.”

How deep does your compassion go?

Max Lucado – What’s Done is Done

 

What do you do with your failures? Could you do it all over again, you’d do it differently. You’d be more patient. You’d control your tongue. You’d finish what you started. You’d get married first. But as many times as you tell yourself, “What’s done is done,” what you did can’t be undone.

That’s part of what the apostle Paul meant when he said, “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23). He didn’t say, “The wages of sin is a bad mood.”  Or “The wages of sin is a hard day.” Read it again.  “The wages of sin is death.”  Sin is fatal.

What do you do?  Don’t we all long for a father who will love us?  A father who cares for us in spite of our failures? We have that kind of a father.  A father whose grace is strongest when our devotion is weakest.  Your failures are not fatal, my friend!

Charles Stanley – How Temptation Leads to Sin

 

2 Samuel 11:1-17

Hankering, hungering, longing, thirsting, yearning—all of these terms can be used to describe the word “desire.” Eve yearned for the fruit of the forbidden tree; Sarai longed for the promised child; King David hungered after Bathsheba. (Gen. 3:6; 16:2; 2 Sam. 11:2-4). In each case, their desire became so strong that they took matters into their own hands to get what they wanted. Each of them knew the Lord’s instructions, but when tempted, they found a way to justify their actions to obtain the desired goal. And the consequences were serious.

Throughout life, all of us experience longings. We yearn for circumstances or people to be different and crave things we do not have—or more of what we do have. And then we often find ourselves tempted to fulfill these desires through our own actions. Temptation itself is not sin, but acting on our own against God’s Word is. Stop and remember what happened to Eve, Sarai, and King David.

Our Creator, who designed you in His image, knows what it is you long for, and He has promised to give you what profits you most (Isa. 48:17). Compare your desires with the truth of Scripture, and ask God to help you let go of any that do not meet His standard.

Make Psalm 63:1 your heart’s cry: “O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; my soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” And Jesus, who is the Bread of Life and Living Water, will satisfy you as nothing else ever could.

Our Daily Bread — Black Boxes

 

1 Corinthians 10:1-11

These things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition. —1 Corinthians 10:11

Commercial aircraft carry two flight-data recorders called “black boxes.” One logs the performance and condition of the aircraft in flight, and the other records the conversation of the crew with air-traffic controllers on the ground. These boxes are insulated to protect against extreme temperatures and are fitted with underwater locator beacons that emit sounds to the surface. After an airplane crash, these boxes are retrieved and the data carefully analyzed to determine the cause of the crash. Air safety experts want to learn from past mistakes, among other things, so they won’t be repeated.

As Christians, we too should look at mistakes from the past and learn from them. Paul, for example, alluded to some of the mistakes the Israelites made in their journey from Egypt to Canaan. He wrote that because God was not pleased with them, many died in the wilderness (1 Cor. 10:5). Paul went on to explain that “these things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age” (v.11 nlt).

The inspired Word of God is written for our instruction for living (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Thank You, Lord, for the guidance of Your Word. —C. P. Hia

For Your holy Book we thank You;

May its message be our guide,

May we understand the wisdom

Of the truth Your laws provide. —Carter

 

God’s warnings are to protect us, not to punish us.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Scandal of the Cross

 

There is a striking verse in the New Testament, in which the apostle Paul refers to the cross of Jesus Christ as foolishness to the Greek and a stumbling block to the Jew. One can readily understand why he would say that. After all, to the Greek mind, sophistication, philosophy, and learning were exalted pursuits. How could one crucified possibly spell knowledge?

To the Jewish mind, on the other hand, there was a cry and a longing to be free. In their history, they had been attacked by numerous powers and often humiliated by occupying forces. Whether it was the Assyrians or the Babylonians or the Romans, Jerusalem had been repeatedly plundered and its people left homeless. What would the Hebrew have wanted more than someone who could take up their cause and altogether repel the enemy? How could a Messiah who was crucified possibly be of any help?

To the Greek, the cross was foolishness. To the Jew, it was a stumbling block. What is it about the cross of Christ that so roundly defies everything that power relishes? Crucifixion was humiliating. It was so humiliating that the Romans who specialized in the art of torture assured their own citizenry that a Roman could never be crucified. But not only was it humiliating, it was excruciating. In fact, the very word “excruciating” comes from two Latin words: ex cruciatus, or out of the cross. Crucifixion was the defining word for pain.

Does that not give us pause in this season now before us? Think of it: humiliation and agony. This was the path Jesus chose with which to reach out for you and for me. You see, this thing we call sin, but which we so tragically minimize, breaks the grandeur for which we were created. It brings indignity to our essence and pain to our existence. It separates us from God.  On the way to the cross two thousand years ago, Jesus took the ultimate indignity and the ultimate pain to bring us back to the dignity of a relationship with God and the healing of our souls. Will you remember that this was done for you and receive his gift?

You will then discover that it is sin that is foolishness. Our greatest weakness is not an enemy from without but one from within. It is our own weak wills that cause us to stumble. But Jesus Christ frees us from the foolishness of sin and the weakness of our selves.

This is the very reason the apostle Paul went on to say that he preached Jesus Christ as one crucified, which was both the power of God and the wisdom of God. Come to the cross in these days given for our contemplation and find out his power and his wisdom.

Ravi Zacharias is founder and chairman of the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

 

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” / 1 Corinthians 10:12

It is a curious fact, that there is such a thing as being proud of grace. A man says, “I have great faith, I shall not fall; poor little faith may, but I never shall.” “I have fervent love,” says another, “I can stand, there is no danger of my going astray.” He who boasts of grace has little grace to boast of. Some who do this imagine that their graces can keep them, knowing not that the stream must flow constantly from the fountain head, or else the brook will soon be dry. If a continuous stream of oil comes not to the lamp, though it burn brightly today, it will smoke to-morrow, and noxious will be its scent. Take heed that thou gloriest not in thy graces, but let all thy glorying and confidence be in Christ and his strength, for only so canst thou be kept from falling. Be much more in prayer. Spend longer time in holy adoration. Read the Scriptures more earnestly and constantly. Watch your lives more carefully. Live nearer to God. Take the best examples for your pattern. Let your conversation be redolent of heaven. Let your hearts be perfumed with affection for men’s souls. So live that men may take knowledge of you that you have been with Jesus, and have learned of him; and when that happy day shall come, when he whom you love shall say, “Come up higher,” may it be your happiness to hear him say, “Thou hast fought a good fight, thou hast finished thy course, and henceforth there is laid up for thee a crown of righteousness which fadeth not away.” On, Christian, with care and caution! On, with holy fear and trembling! On, with faith and confidence in Jesus alone, and let your constant petition be, “Uphold me according to thy word.” He is able, and he alone, “To keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.”

 

Evening “I will take heed to my ways.” / Psalm 39:1

Fellow-pilgrim, say not in your heart, “I will go hither and thither, and I shall not sin;” for you are never so out of danger of sinning as to boast of security. The road is very miry, it will be hard to pick your path so as not to soil your garments. This is a world of pitch; you will need to watch often, if in handling it you are to keep your hands clean. There is a robber at every turn of the road to rob you of your jewels; there is a temptation in every mercy; there is a snare in every joy; and if you ever reach heaven, it will be a miracle of divine grace to be ascribed entirely to your Father’s power. Be on your guard. When a man carries a bomb-shell in his hand, he should mind that he does not go near a candle; and you too must take care that you enter not into temptation. Even your common actions are edged tools; you must mind how you handle them. There is nothing in this world to foster a Christian’s piety, but everything to destroy it. How anxious should you be to look up to God, that he may keep you! Your prayer should be, “Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe.” Having prayed, you must also watch; guarding every thought, word, and action, with holy jealousy. Do not expose yourselves unnecessarily; but if called to exposure, if you are bidden to go where the darts are flying, never venture forth without your shield; for if once the devil finds you without your buckler, he will rejoice that his hour of triumph is come, and will soon make you fall down wounded by his arrows. Though slain you cannot be; wounded you may be. “Be sober; be vigilant, danger may be in an hour when all seemeth securest to thee.” Therefore, take heed to thy ways, and watch unto prayer. No man ever fell into error through being too watchful. May the Holy Spirit guide us in all our ways; so shall they always please the Lord.

 

 

John MacArthur – Looking Beyond the Temporal

 

“Our Father who art in heaven” (Matt. 6:9).

Author H.G. Wells wrote of a man who had been overcome by the pressure and stress of modern life. His doctor told him that his only hope was to find fellowship with God. The man responded, “What? That–up there–having fellowship with me? I would as soon think of cooling my throat with the Milky Way or shaking hands with the stars.” Poet Thomas Hardy said that prayer is useless because there’s no one to pray to except “that dreaming, dark, dumb thing that turns the handle of this idle show.” Voltaire described life as a bad joke. He added, “Bring down the curtain; the farce is done.” Such is the blasphemy and despair of all who insist that God is uninvolved in human affairs.

The Greek and Roman philosophers of Jesus’ day rejected the fatherhood of God because it contradicted their philosophical systems. The Stoic philosophers taught that all of the gods were apathetic and experienced no emotions at all. The Epicurean philosophers taught that the supreme quality of the gods was complete calm or perfect peace. To maintain their serenity, they needed to remain totally isolated from the human condition.

Scripture refutes all such heresies by declaring that God is an intimate, caring Father. The significance of that truth is staggering. He conquers your fears and comforts you in times of distress. He forgives your sins and gives you eternal hope. He showers you with limitless resources and makes you recipients of an imperishable inheritance. He grants you wisdom and direction through His Spirit and His Word. He will never leave or forsake you.

When you humbly approach God as your Father, you assume the role of a child who is eager to obey his Father’s will and receive all the benefits of His grace. Let that take you beyond your present circumstances and motivate you to dwell on what’s eternal.

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for the joy and purpose He gives you each day.

Commit yourself to pursuing His will today.

For Further Study: Read Exodus 3:1-5 and Isaiah 6:1-5. What attitude should you have when you pray to God?

What does Hebrews 4:16 say you can receive when you approach God in prayer?

 

Joyce Meyer – First, Do What Is Right

 

Invoke blessings upon and pray for the happiness of those who curse you, implore God’s blessing (favor) upon those who abuse you [who revile, reproach, disparage, and high-handedly misuse you]. —Luke 6:28

When we make a decision to forgive, we probably won’t feel like forgiving. After all, we have been treated unjustly, and it hurts. But doing the right thing while we feel wronged is extremely important to our overall spiritual growth. It also glorifies God.

For many years I tried to forgive people when they hurt or offended me, but since I still had negative feelings toward them, I assumed I wasn’t successful in the forgiveness journey. Now I realize that no matter how I feel, if I keep praying for the person who injured me and bless rather than curse him or her, I am on my way to freedom from destructive emotion. To curse means to speak evil of, and to bless means to speak well of. When someone has hurt us, we can refuse to speak evil of them, even if we’re tempted to do so. We can also bless them by talking about their good qualities and the good things they have done. If we look only at the mistakes people make, we won’t be able to like them. But looking at their whole lives gives us a more balanced picture of them.

You cannot wait to forgive someone who hurt you until you feel warm and loving toward that person. You’ll probably have to do it while you are still hurting—when forgiving is the last thing you feel like doing—but doing it puts you in the “God league.” It puts you squarely on the road that is “narrow (contracted by pressure),” but leads to the way of life (see Matt. 7:14). It puts you on the road that Jesus Himself traveled on. Don’t forget that one of the last things He did was forgive someone who didn’t deserve forgiveness, and He did it while hanging on a cross being crucified (see Luke 23:43). I think some of the last things that Jesus did were specially designed to help us remember how important those things are.

Trust in Him: You may want to feel better first, but God wants you to do what is right first, which is to forgive. When you do, you are putting your trust in God.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Supernatural Wisdom – by Faith

 

“If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask Him, and He will gladly tell you, for He is always ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask Him; He will not resent it” (James 1:5).

Often – many times a day – I need divine wisdom, not only in the multitudes of decisions that I must make daily, but also in the witnessing situations the Lord brings across my path. No doubt you recognize a similar need in your life.

All I have to do to have His presence guide me, if my heart is right with Him, is to ask in faith, and He promises the wisdom I need for each day and for each moment of the day.

If we are going to live supernatural lives, and if we are going to demonstrate to others that they, too, can live such a life, then we must begin to think and act differently. And that is possible only as we go to the source of all divine wisdom.

This verse from Scripture assures us that God’s ear is always open to this kind of prayer. And of course the wisdom to which James refers is more than factual knowledge. It is the light of life, in which we can walk without stumbling.

Why does one need to pray to gain this wisdom? Perhaps because prayer is humbling and involves an acknowledgment of our inadequacy. Prayer opens our hearts and lives to the transforming influence of the Spirit of God.

Bible Reading: James 1:6-12

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Knowing that I need God’s wisdom if I am to serve Him effectively and please Him today, I will obey Him – and claim His supernatural work in my life – by asking for His wisdom when I face a decision.

Presidential Prayer Team; G.C. – Life, Death and GPS

 

It’s amusing to hear of the lady who drove her car into the lake because her GPS said “take a left,” or of the chauffeur who saved his passengers after he realized he’d turned onto the tracks of an oncoming train because the GPS told him to “turn right at the next intersection.” These stories are entertaining – especially since you believe it could never happen to you.

It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority – Acts 1:7

Yet you meet people every day that are completely lost in life, not knowing where they are, or even where they are going. They don’t realize God is all-knowing, all-powerful and has all authority in directing every event in their lives. In the Bible, Jesus says He has prepared a place for those who want to be with Him and, by following His path, will arrive at a wonderful destination. But that’s only if His GPS, spoken from His Word or heard in prayer, is being heeded.

Pray America’s leaders will take an honest, thoughtful look at the directions they’re following for their lives and decisions. Ask God to reveal Himself to them, and that they’d heed His perfect plan for themselves and for this great nation.

Recommended Reading: John 14:1-14

Greg Laurie – Misplaced Priorities

 

Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols—Acts 17:16

To be able to reach our culture, to be able to reach our unbelieving friends and family, to be able to reach someone who doesn’t believe in Jesus, we must first have a genuine concern for them.

While the apostle Paul was in Athens, “his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols” (Acts 17:16). Another translation of this verse says that Paul “was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city” (NLT).

Have you been angered by something in a spiritual way? I am talking about righteous indignation where you see how the devil is ripping people off, and you actually get a little angry about it.

In Athens, Paul was grieved to see the absolute absence of the living God, with every conceivable substitute in His place.

Do you ever feel that way as you look at our confused culture? It seems as though anything goes—except for Christianity.

Paul could have cursed the darkness in Athens. But he instead turned on the light.

Today we can wring our hands and talk about the state of affairs in our world. Or we can do something about it. All too often, we Christians are known for what we are against and not what we are for. We are for Jesus. And that is who we want to talk about. That is who we want to point people to. That is the primary message we need to give to our culture today. They need to hear the gospel.

If we dwell on other issues and forget the message of Jesus, then we have misplaced our priorities.

 

 

Max Lucado – Our Memory

 

There’s a direct correlation between the accuracy of our memory and the effectiveness of our mission.  If we’re not teaching people how to be saved, it’s perhaps because we’ve forgotten the tragedy of being lost. If we’re not teaching the message of forgiveness, it may be because we don’t remember what it was like to be guilty. And if we’re not preaching the cross, it could be that we’ve subconsciously decided that—God forbid—somehow we don’t need it.

In what is perhaps the last letter Paul ever wrote, he begged Timothy not to forget. He urged Timothy to “Remember Jesus Christ—raised from the dead, descended from David.  This is my gospel. . .” (2 Timothy 2:8).

When times get hard, when people don’t listen, when tears come,  when disappointment is your bed partner, when fear pitches its tent in your front yard, when death looms, when shame weighs heavily… always remember Jesus!

Charles Stanley – Temptation: Strong but Resistible

 

Genesis 3:1-24

Satan is so cunning that he was able to deceive Eve into sinning. Her response to his question (Gen. 3:1-2) reveals that she knew exactly what God had told her. Aren’t we just like that today? We know precisely what the Word of God says, and yet we often fail to obey Him.

Do you spend more time indulging your desires—even if that sometimes means bordering on sin—than you do meditating on Scripture and praying? We have an enemy who is not only wily and intelligent but also savage and relentless. His goal is to alienate you from your Creator, stunt your growth as a believer, and minimize your impact for God’s kingdom. He knows your weaknesses; he also knows how to surprise, lure, and camouflage.

This is why it is imperative for every believer to maintain a strong defense by means of vibrant, abiding fellowship with Jesus Christ. He is our refuge, and His Word is a very effective weapon.

The Lord is holy; Satan is evil. Learn, therefore, to react to temptation with the understanding that its source is an evil enemy bent on stealing your joy and destroying your effectiveness as God’s child. Then turn to the Lord and ask Him to help you overcome. He is the One who is able—and eager—to give you victory.

Remember: “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Develop a reflex to turn to the Lord when Satan throws his darts. Pray, “Thank You that I am Your child. Please protect me.” And God, who is faithful, will lead you through the way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13).

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Slaughtered and Standing

 

In John’s telling of the life of Jesus, Jesus is described as the kingly shepherd who lays down his life for his friends, the gate who lets in the sheep, and the lamb of God himself. So it is not without significance that John dates Jesus’s death on the day of preparation of the Passover, the day a lamb is slaughtered in remembrance of God’s passing over the Israelites in Egypt. Whereas Matthew, Mark, and Luke each describe a final supper shared with the disciples in the upper room, John hints at the consumption of a meal in the mysterious space after Christ’s death. In other words, the bread of life and Lamb of God is first broken and slaughtered so that the Passover meal can be seen in its full significance in a greater upper room.

This mystery of the Lamb after the slaughter is extensively heightened in the Revelation of John. Envisioned is a heavenly scene with one seated on the throne holding a scroll, and John begins to weep because no one is worthy to open it. But then one of the elders points to “the Lion of the Tribe of Judah,” “the Root of David,” the one who “has conquered.” And John sees between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders “a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered,” one worthy to open the scroll. John doesn’t explain how a lamb can be standing after it has been slaughtered. What are we to do with such a creature?

For me it brings to mind the deliberately impossible demands presented by Jesus. How are we to be perfect? To live holy lives? To keep anger at bay lest we be guilty of murder in our hearts? It is a life we might succeed in trying for a time, but ultimately we cannot remotely achieve. In the words of one theologian, “[T]he summons to a holy life, far from assuming its achievement, assumes quite the opposite: that God has acted and nothing can be done in response. The structures of existence are incapable of change or alteration, whether empowered by grace or not.“(1) Which is perhaps to say, the lamb was slain. Irreversibly, Jesus was slaughtered, his life laid down for his friends. And now, in a seeming incapable structure of existence, this slaughtered Lamb stands.

Professor John Lennox notes that when Scripture speaks of Christ as the Lamb of God, it is easy to think of it as something like a symbolic code. We read of the lamb or the lion and the recognition is instantaneous: The lamb is Christ. The lion is Christ. But John’s description of the slain and standing lamb seems to say not only who it is, but what it is. This is Christ as the lamb—that is, beyond the statements he made about himself, beyond the parables, beyond the imagery and symbolism with which Jesus spoke truths and turned categories on their heads. In this picture, he is the overturned. John places Christ as the lamb before us, and he is slaughtered yet standing. For  John, literarily at least, the way of slaughter is the way of victory.

This is not to say, as some argue, that our own suffering is a similar way to the victorious life or that Christ is calling the world to suffer with him at the cross. The deliberately impossible marvel of the slain and standing lamb is blurred when we imagine ourselves in any way able to reproduce it. We can no more do so, than we can reenact the Incarnation.(2) While it is true that John’s audience was likely to suffer for their faith, the slaughtered lamb is not encouragement for of a brand of discipleship that recreates Christ’s suffering as victory; slaughter is not the goal. On the contrary, the slain and standing lamb is the one weapon capable of tearing violence and unjust suffering apart. This is not a symbol disciples are to learn to repeat and mimic; it is the very structure and feat of existence that allows them to be disciples. John’s description moves far beyond the slaughtered lamb as symbol. This is Christ as the lamb—the impossible structure of existence given not for the world of souls to mimic, but rather to take, eat, and drink. This is his body—a slaughtered and standing lamb—powerfully, mysteriously, impossibly broken and given for the world.

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

(1) Roy Harrisville, Fracture: The Cross as Irreconcilable in the Language and Thought of the Biblical Writers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006), 111.

(2) For more on this, see J. Todd Billings, Union With Christ, (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2011)

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning “Why sit we here until we die?” / 2 Kings 7:3

Dear reader, this little book was mainly intended for the edification of believers, but if you are yet unsaved, our heart yearns over you: and we would fain say a word which may be blessed to you. Open your Bible, and read the story of the lepers, and mark their position, which was much the same as yours. If you remain where you are you must perish; if you go to Jesus you can but die. “Nothing venture, nothing win,” is the old proverb, and in your case the venture is no great one. If you sit still in sullen despair, no one can pity you when your ruin comes; but if you die with mercy sought, if such a thing were possible, you would be the object of universal sympathy. None escape who refuse to look to Jesus; but you know that, at any rate, some are saved who believe in him, for certain of your own acquaintances have received mercy: then why not you? The Ninevites said, “Who can tell?” Act upon the same hope, and try the Lord’s mercy. To perish is so awful, that if there were but a straw to catch at, the instinct of self-preservation should lead you to stretch out your hand. We have thus been talking to you on your own unbelieving ground, we would now assure you, as from the Lord, that if you seek him he will be found of you. Jesus casts out none who come unto him. You shall not perish if you trust him; on the contrary, you shall find treasure far richer than the poor lepers gathered in Syria’s deserted camp. May the Holy Spirit embolden you to go at once, and you shall not believe in vain. When you are saved yourself, publish the good news to others. Hold not your peace; tell the King’s household first, and unite with them in fellowship; let the porter of the city, the minister, be informed of your discovery, and then proclaim the good news in every place. The Lord save thee ere the sun goes down this day.

 

Evening  “Then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark.” / Genesis 8:9

Wearied out with her wanderings, the dove returns at length to the ark as her only resting place. How heavily she flies–she will drop–she will never reach the ark! But she struggles on. Noah has been looking out for his dove all day long, and is ready to receive her. She has just strength to reach the edge of the ark, she can hardly alight upon it, and is ready to drop, when Noah puts forth his hand and pulls her in unto him. Mark that: “pulled her in unto him.” She did not fly right in herself, but was too fearful, or too weary to do so. She flew as far as she could, and then he put forth his hand and pulled her in unto him. This act of mercy was shown to the wandering dove, and she was not chidden for her wanderings. Just as she was she was pulled into the ark. So you, seeking sinner, with all your sin, will be received. “Only return”–those are God’s two gracious words–“only return.” What! nothing else? No, “only return.” She had no olive branch in her mouth this time, nothing at all but just herself and her wanderings; but it is “only return,” and she does return, and Noah pulls her in. Fly, thou wanderer; fly thou fainting one, dove as thou art, though thou thinkest thyself to be black as the raven with the mire of sin, back, back to the Saviour. Every moment thou waitest does but increase thy misery; thine attempts to plume thyself and make thyself fit for Jesus are all vanity. Come thou to him just as thou art. “Return, thou backsliding Israel.” He does not say, “Return, thou repenting Israel” (there is such an invitation doubtless), but “thou backsliding one,” as a backslider with all thy backslidings about thee, Return, return, return! Jesus is waiting for thee! He will stretch forth his hand and “pull thee in”–in to himself, thy heart’s true home.

 

John MacArthur – Recognizing God’s Fatherhood

 

“Our Father who art in heaven” (Matt. 6:9).

The term Father is one of the most commonly used terms in our prayers, and rightly so because that’s how Jesus taught us to pray. But as common as that term is to us, it was very uncommon to the people of Christ’s day.

Then, most of the people who worshiped false gods thought of them as distant, capricious, and immoral beings that were to be feared. Even the Jewish people, who should have understood the fatherhood of God, had removed themselves from His Fatherly care through their sin and apostasy. Consequently He seemed remote to them. Even some who did claim God as their Father were rebuked by Christ, who called them children of the devil because they rejected the Son (John 8:44).

Against that backdrop, Christ’s teaching was revolutionary. He proclaimed God as a caring and gracious Father who desires intimate fellowship with His children. That fellowship can come only through faith in the Son.

Beyond that, Jesus revealed the Father’s character in everything He said and did. When Philip asked Jesus to show him the Father, Jesus replied, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

Jesus also proclaimed God as a Father who has all the treasures of heaven at His disposal and who makes them available to His children so they might glorify Him: “Your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him. . . . Do not be anxious then . . . but seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all [you need] will be added to you” (Matt. 6:8, 31, 33).

Your faith in Christ is what makes God your Heavenly Father. He loves you, listens to your prayers, and supplies your needs according to His abundant resources. Look to Him today and live as a thankful, obedient child.

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God that He is your gracious and loving Father.

Praise Him for the abundant blessings He gives to you.

For Further Study: Read Proverbs 3:5-6 and Matthew 7:7-11.

What are you exhorted to do?

What specifically will God do for you?

How should those passages affect your relationship with God?

 

 

 

Joyce Meyer – Thank God

 

I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. —Psalm 9:1 NKJV

Throughout the Bible we see people celebrating progress and victory in a variety of ways. One way was to specifically take the time to give an offering to God and to thank Him.

Noah had been in the ark one year and ten days when God told him it was time to go forth and begin a new life. I cannot even imagine how happy he and his family were to see dry ground. The first thing Noah did was to build an altar to the Lord and sacrifice various animals to Him. In Noah’s day this was the acceptable method of giving to God and showing appreciation for what He had done. God was pleased, and He pronounced a blessing on Noah and his sons (see Gen. 9:1).

Abram (later renamed Abraham) regularly built altars to God and sacrificed, giving praise and thanks to God for his progress as he journeyed through the land.

We would quickly add a lot of celebration to our lives if we would take time to give thanks and perhaps some other type of offering when God does amazing things for us. An attitude of gratitude shows a lot about the character of a person. We should never have an attitude of entitlement, but we should have one that says, “I know I don’t deserve God’s goodness, but I am sure grateful for it.”

Love God Today: “God, I never want to take your goodness for granted, so please help me celebrate all You have done, are doing, and will do in my life.”