Tag Archives: faith

Giving Thanks in Everything – Charles Stanley

 

Ephesians 5:15-21

Why would God command us to thank Him regardless of the circumstances? The idea defies human logic. But then, the Lord rarely binds Himself to man-made rules. Scriptural principles serve specific purposes in the Christian’s life. Gratitude keeps us aware of God’s presence, which builds our trust and ultimately strengthens our witness.

We must realize that thankfulness is not based on emotions or a situation’s outcome. We can be grateful even during trials, because God has promised to work all things for our good (Rom. 8:28). That means He has a purpose in mind for each experience, whether pleasant or difficult. A big problem stacked against our small resources sends us running to Him, thankful He has committed to work it to our benefit.

The believer’s part is to trust God will bring good from trials and to discover His plan, which gives further reason for thanking Him. Understanding His intentions renews our strength for facing difficult trials. Expressing gratefulness changes our attitude about God, ourselves, and our situations. Most people allow hurt and stress to form a pessimistic mindset, which negatively impacts every facet of their life. But believers have God’s Spirit working within to provide courage and a flow of thanksgiving.

When we demonstrate thankfulness in harsh circumstances, other people pay

attention. Coworkers, family, and friends will want for themselves the peace and

energy we derive from a grateful relationship God. So whatever you’re experiencing, go ahead and defy logic—praise the Lord.

 

Our Daily Bread — Always Accepted

 

John 1:6-13

He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. —John 1:11

Financial expert Warren Buffet, one of the richest people in the world, was rejected by Harvard’s Business School at age 19. After a failed admissions interview, he recalls a “feeling of dread,” along with concern over his father’s reaction to the news. In retrospect, Buffet says, “[Everything] in my life . . . that I thought was a crushing event at the time has turned out for the better.”

Rejection, though undeniably painful, does not have to hold us back from accomplishing what God wants us to do. The citizens of Jesus’ hometown denied that He was the Messiah (John 1:11), and many of His followers later rejected Him (6:66). Just as Jesus’ rejection was part of God’s plan for His Son (Isa. 53:3), so was Jesus’ continued ministry. Enduring earthly rejection and knowing that the Father would turn away from Him at Calvary (Matt. 27:46), Jesus went on to cure the sick, cast out demons, and preach good news to the masses. Before His crucifixion, Jesus said, “[Father], I have finished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17:4).

If rejection has become a hindrance to the work God has given you to do, don’t give up. Remember that Jesus understands, and those who come to Him will always be accepted by Him (6:37). —Jennifer Benson Schuldt

No one understands like Jesus

When the days are dark and grim.

No one is so near, so dear as Jesus;

Cast your every care on Him. —Peterson

 

No one understands like Jesus.

Ends, Means, Journey – Ravi Zacharias Ministry

 

An essay from G.K. Chesterton begins, “In all the current controversies, people begin at the wrong end as readily as at the right end; never stopping to consider which is really the end.”(1) In a world very impressed with our ability to create and acquire our own high-tech “carts,” putting the cart before the horse comes very naturally. Even very thoughtful people can fail to think through the point of all their thinking. Chesterton continues, “One very common form of the blunder is to make modern conditions an absolute end and then try to fit human necessities to that end, as if they were only a means. Thus people say, ‘Home life is not suited to the business life of today.’ Which is as if they said, ‘Heads are not suited to the sort of hats now in fashion.’” His observations are akin to the experiment of Solomon. Cutting a child in two to meet the demand of two mothers is hardly fixing what we might call the “Child Problem.”

The reverse of the end and the means is hardly a modern problem, though some argue the trend is increasing. As C.S. Lewis observed many years ago, logic seems to be no longer valued as a subject in schools. Never having taken logic as a school subject, or even noticed its absence for that matter, I might agree the observation still rings with some truth. But any critique of illogic is perhaps startling when juxtaposed by how much we currently seem to value a constant surge of information. In the chorus of incessant infotainment, T.S. Eliot’s lament from “The Rock” seems almost a heretical voice:

Where is the Life we have lost in living?

Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?

Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries

Bring us farther from God and nearer to the Dust.

The inconsistency of information-dependence and logic-disinterest aside, the silent battle within our over-stimulated ethos of options and information seems to become one against indifference. Weary from pleasure and choice, apathy becomes a major obstacle. We get to the point where we do not even remotely care whether the horse or the cart comes first.

In the book recounting the lineage of Israel’s Kings, Elijah went before a people who had grown indifferent to the differences between Baal and Yahweh. “How long will you waver between two opinions?” Elijah asked them. “‘If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, then follow him.’ But the people said nothing” (1 Kings 18:21).

Cultural commentators note among us a similar indifference. While there is an increasing interest in spirituality and a desire to locate deeper meaning in life and experience, we waver between the gods and goods that seem to offer any answers. And while the need to pursue meaning is certainly a cultural insight we do well to cultivate, the danger is perhaps in allowing this desire to be the end in itself, the goal by which God or Buddha or nature might serve as a means to fill. Like the men and women before Elijah, our illogic is only compounded by our indifference. Should we attempt to fulfill our spiritual voids without first asking why they are there? Could not the desire itself exist because the God of creation, the beginning and the end, placed it within? If the LORD is God, why would I not want to follow?

When Elijah asked the prophets of Baal to call him to reveal himself, the test of truth was not avoided, but the ultimate decision was still before the people. “Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. ‘O Baal, answer us!’ they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. No one paid attention” (1 Kings 18:26). In a loud voice Elijah then called out, “Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again” (1 Kings 18:37). The fire of the LORD immediately fell upon the altar. And when the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord indeed is God; the Lord indeed is God!”

In this season of Lent a similar invitation looms large before any who seek. We are invited both to see anew our motivations and the reasons of our own hearts. We are invited to examine the call of Christ to follow him to the Cross, wherever it might lead. At the end of that road, however tumultuous the means, we shall perhaps find that it was always Christ who carried us. Even now, he is among us, one worthy of being our end. If the LORD is God, why would we not want to follow?

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

(1) G.K. Chesterton, As I was Saying (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985), 63.

 

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning”The wrath to come.” / Matthew 3:7

It is pleasant to pass over a country after a storm has spent itself; to smell the freshness of the herbs after the rain has passed away, and to note the drops while they glisten like purest diamonds in the sunlight. That is the position of a Christian. He is going through a land where the storm has spent itself upon his Saviour’s head, and if there be a few drops of sorrow falling, they distil from clouds of mercy, and Jesus cheers him by the assurance that they are not for his destruction. But how terrible is it to witness the approach of a tempest: to note the forewarnings of the storm; to mark the birds of heaven as they droop their wings; to see the cattle as they lay their heads low in terror; to discern the face of the sky as it groweth black, and look to the sun which shineth not, and the heavens which are angry and frowning! How terrible to await the dread advance of a hurricane–such as occurs, sometimes, in the tropics–to wait in terrible apprehension till the wind shall rush forth in fury, tearing up trees from their roots, forcing rocks from their pedestals, and hurling down all the dwelling-places of man! And yet, sinner, this is your present position. No hot drops have as yet fallen, but a shower of fire is coming. No terrible winds howl around you, but God’s tempest is gathering its dread artillery. As yet the water-floods are dammed up by mercy, but the flood-gates shall soon be opened: the thunderbolts of God are yet in his storehouse, but lo! the tempest hastens, and how awful shall that moment be when God, robed in vengeance, shall march forth in fury! Where, where, where, O sinner, wilt thou hide thy head, or whither wilt thou flee? O that the hand of mercy may now lead you to Christ! He is freely set before you in the gospel: his riven side is the rock of shelter. Thou knowest thy need of him; believe in him, cast thyself upon him, and then the fury shall be overpast forever.

 

Evening  “But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa.” / Jonah 1:3

Instead of going to Nineveh to preach the Word, as God bade him, Jonah disliked the work, and went down to Joppa to escape from it. There are occasions when God’s servants shrink from duty. But what is the consequence? What did Jonah lose by his conduct? He lost the presence and comfortable enjoyment of God’s love. When we serve our Lord Jesus as believers should do, our God is with us; and though we have the whole world against us, if we have God with us, what does it matter? But the moment we start back, and seek our own inventions, we are at sea without a pilot. Then may we bitterly lament and groan out, “O my God, where hast thou gone? How could I have been so foolish as to shun thy service, and in this way to lose all the bright shinings of thy face? This is a price too high. Let me return to my allegiance, that I may rejoice in thy presence.” In the next place, Jonah lost all peace of mind. Sin soon destroys a believer’s comfort. It is the poisonous upas tree, from whose leaves distil deadly drops which destroy the life of joy and peace. Jonah lost everything upon which he might have drawn for comfort in any other case. He could not plead the promise of divine protection, for he was not in God’s ways; he could not say, “Lord, I meet with these difficulties in the discharge of my duty, therefore help me through them.” He was reaping his own deeds; he was filled with his own ways. Christian, do not play the Jonah, unless you wish to have all the waves and the billows rolling over your head. You will find in the long run that it is far harder to shun the work and will of God than to at once yield yourself to it. Jonah lost his time, for he had to go to Nineveh after all. It is hard to contend with God; let us yield ourselves at once.

Living in a Worthy Manner – John MacArthur

 

“So that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects” (Col. 1:10).

In Colossians 1:9 Paul speaks of being controlled by the knowledge of God’s will. In verse 10 he speaks of walking in a manner worthy of the Lord. There is a direct cause-and-effect relationship between those verses. When you are controlled by the knowledge of God’s will, you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.

The Greek word translated “walk” means “to order one’s behavior.” It’s a common New Testament metaphor for one’s lifestyle. Paul made a similar plea to the Thessalonians: “Walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory” (1 Thess. 2:12).

The thought of being worthy of the Lord might raise some eyebrows because we usually relate worthiness to merit or something deserved. But that isn’t Paul’s point at all. The Greek word translated “worthy” in Colossians 1:10 speaks of something that weighs as much or carries the same value as something else. He isn’t saying we deserve Christ, but that our conduct should be consistent with His.

That is Peter’s point in 1 Peter 2:21: “You have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.” John said, “The one who says he abides in [Christ] ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6). He added in 2 John 6, “Walk according to His commandments.” That’s how you demonstrate your love for Christ (John 14:15) and please Him in every respect.

As a word of encouragement, a worthy walk is not a walk of sinless perfection. That won’t happen until you are fully glorified. But each day you are growing in godliness as a result of the Spirit’s transforming work in you (2 Cor. 3:18). Be faithful to that process. Set your affections on Christ, look to His Word, and rejoice in the privilege of becoming more like Him today.

Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for the power and guidance of His Spirit in your life.

Be diligent to confess your sin when you stray from a worthy walk.

For Further Study:  Read Ephesians 4:1-3 and Philippians 1:27-30.

What specific attitudes are involved in a worthy walk?

Does a worthy walk eliminate the possibility of suffering or persecution? Explain.

Take Time to Listen by Joyce Meyer

 

Understand [this], my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear…slow to speak… —James 1:19

A friend of mine lives in a large city where homelessness is a huge problem. One winter night she was coming home from work and walked by a man asking for money. It was cold and dark, and she was anxious to get home.  Not wanting to pull out her wallet in a less than safe situation, she reached deep into her purse fishing for change.  As her fingers searched in vain, the man started telling her that his coat had been stolen in the homeless shelter where he’d stayed the night before. Still trying to come up with a couple of quarters, she nodded and said, “That’s too bad”.  When she finally found the money, she dropped it into the man’s cup.  He smiled and said, “Thank you for talking with me.”  My friend realized what meant the most to that man was the fact that someone had heard him and responded.

We have a team of people from our ministry who try to help people living in the tunnels under the downtown bridge.  They have found that each of these people has a story.  Something tragic happened to them that resulted in their present circumstance.  They appreciate the sandwiches and clean clothes, but mostly they appreciate someone caring enough to actually talk with them long enough to learn about them.

Let me encourage you to take time to listen.

Love Others Today: Do you know someone who simply needs a person to talk to? Be the one who will listen.

Anything You Ask – Campus Crusade; Bill Bright

 

“You can get anything – anything you ask for in prayer – if you believe” (Matthew 21:22).

God’s Word reminds us that we have not because we ask not (James 4:2). Jesus said, “If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7, KJV).

A godly widow with six children was facing great stress. The family had eaten their last loaf of bread at the evening meal. The next morning, with no food in the house, the trusting mother set seven plates on the table.

“Now, children,” she said, gathering them around her, “we must ask God to supply our need.”

Just as she finished her prayer, one of the children shouted, “There’s the baker at the door.”

“I was stalled in the snow,” the baker said, after entering the house,” and I just stopped by to get warm. Do you need any bread this morning?”

“Yes,” said the mother, “but we have no money.”

“Do you mean to say you have no bread for these children?” he asked.

“Not a bit,” said the mother.

“Well,” said the baker, “you will soon have some.” Whereupon he returned to his wagon, picked up seven loaves and brought them into the house. Then he laid one on each plate.

“Mama!” one of the children cried out. “I prayed for bread, and God heard me and sent me bread.”

“And me!” chorused each of the children, feeling that God had answered personally.

God does not require us to have great faith. We are simply to have faith in a great God.

Bible Reading: Mark 11:20-26

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will continue to abide in Christ and have His Word abide in my heart, so that when needs arise today – whether large or small; physical, material or spiritual – I will choose to place my simple faith in God, knowing that He is willing and able to hear and answer prayer. I will also encourage others to join me in the great adventure of prayer.

Wedding Plans – Presidential Prayer Team

 

I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me. Proverbs 8:17

Many a young man with romance on his mind presented an engagement ring to his young woman on Valentine’s Day. Perhaps they’ve set a June wedding date. Now the time of preparation begins. Bridal counselors hand out detailed calendars for the bride-to-be and her bridesmaids to be fully prepared for the big day. In order for the “perfect wedding” reward, she must diligently adhere to the schedule.

You know, don’t you, that as a part of the Bride of Christ, you need to be eagerly and diligently preparing yourself for the One you love. Like the young woman learning everything about her intended and desiring to please only him, are you getting better acquainted with Jesus every day? Just as that same young woman wants to spend time with her love, do you desire to be alone with the Lord, to find a more intimate relationship with Him?

Seek the Lord while he may be found, the Bible says (Isaiah 55:6). He rewards those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). While you attend to your own bridal preparations for your heavenly wedding celebration, pray for the nation’s leaders to seek after the Lord for wisdom, grace and their salvation.

Recommended Reading: Revelation 19:1-10

A Tangible Place – Greg Laurie

 

I do know that I was caught up to paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell. That experience is worth boasting about, but I’m not going to do it. I will boast only about my weaknesses—2 Corinthians 12:3–5

Periodically books are written in which people claim to have had visions of heaven. But there is an instance of someone’s writing about heaven that we know is legitimate. The apostle Paul went there, and he wrote a few verses about it in 2 Corinthians 12.

Certainly a topic as exciting as this would have merited its own book, with a title and byline such as The Book of Heaven by the Apostle Paul. He could have told us all about it. But he didn’t.

That is not to say there are no descriptions of heaven in the Bible, because the apostle John spoke at great length about heaven in the book of Revelation and gave us descriptions of it that are a little bit difficult, quite frankly, to wrap our minds around.

But all Paul would say about heaven was, “I was caught up to paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell” (2 Corinthians 12:4).

The word “paradise” that Paul used here appears three times in the New Testament. The first time we see it is when Jesus spoke to the criminal on the cross next to Him and said, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

Another time it is used is in Revelation 2:7, to describe our future dwelling place. It is sometimes translated as the royal garden of a king, which means there was no verbiage to really do justice to the meaning of the word. There was really nothing you could say to express it.

But here is the thing we need to know: Heaven is a tangible place, not a state of mind. The King James Bible uses the word heaven 582 times in 550 different places. Heaven is a real place.

 

Worship Changes Our Face – Max Lucado

 

Exactly what is worship?  I like King David’s definition in Psalm 34:3:  “Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.”

Worship is magnifying or enlarging our vision of God. Of course his size doesn’t change, but our perception of him does. As we draw nearer, he seems larger. Isn’t that what we need?  A big view of God?  Don’t we have big problems, big worries, and big questions? Of course we do.  So, we need a big view of God. Worship offers that.

A vibrant, shining face is the mark of one who has stood in God’s presence.  He wipes away the tears.  Not only does God change the face of those who worship, he changes those who watch us worship!

 

Walk Away – Presidential Prayer Team

 

In the 1980s, John McEnroe was the talk of the nation, not only because of his talent for tennis, but because of his temper. He’s still on top 10 lists for worst temper tantrums. Though he’s one of the greatest tennis players of all time, he’s forever remembered for shouting, “You cannot be serious!”

The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult. Proverbs 12:16

When someone hurts you, losing your temper only gets you in trouble or hurts others. It can help to meditate on verses like these: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” (Ephesians 4:31); “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1); and, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires.” (James 1:19-20)

 

When antagonized, ask God to help you “walk away.” And pray the nation’s leaders will be able to talk together over hot topics and come up with solutions using kindness and restraint, not stirring up hatred and antagonism.

Recommended Reading: Luke 4:20-30

How can I gain wisdom from God? – Charles Stanley

 

Proverbs 2:1-7

A growing number of people in our world fail to seek God for His wisdom. Instead, they strive to satisfy their passions and desires without regard to their futures or to the consequences of their decisions.

This is a spiritually dangerous way to live. When we try to live apart from the counsel of God’s wisdom, we suffer disillusionment, fear, doubt, worry, and frustration. Our lives fall apart when we do not involve the Savior in our decisions.

The wisest approach to life’s challenges is to seek God for His plan, direction, and spiritual insight. But how can we do that? The next time you face a challenge or an important decision, seek God’s wisdom by doing the following:

• Seek Him—If you want to know God’s heart on a given issue or when you have to make a difficult decision, ask Him. Take time to pray—but in your times of prayer, don’t do all the talking. Listen for God’s still, small voice whispering His words of guidance and encouragement to you.

• Meditate on God’s Word—You will gain insight into God’s mind and heart by studying Scripture and meditating on its truth. Difficult decisions become easier to make when God is the One guiding you.

• Obey the principles of Scripture—When you set your heart on obeying God, He will teach you how to apply His truth in your life. Then you will know the way of wisdom.

• Observe the faithfulness of God—The Lord has never failed to keep a single promise He has made. The Bible is full of testimonies that celebrate His goodness and love. Learn to claim His promises as you read His Word.

• Heed godly counsel—God can use a pastor or trusted Christian friend to help you see beyond your weaknesses. Don’t hesitate to share your needs and fears with those who love the Lord and you.

• Associate with wise people—Choose your friends wisely. Include God in every relationship, and you will establish a strong, godly base of counselors to support you in making wise decisions.

Because God loves us, we have no need to worry about the future. He has a plan, not only for our lives, but also for every problem we face. Oswald Chambers said, “All our fret and worry is caused by calculating without God.” Take time today to renew your trust in God and His ability to provide the wisdom you need.

 

Our Daily Bread — God’s Lighthouse

 

Matthew 5:1-14

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. —Matthew 5:14

The Mission Point Lighthouse was built in 1870 on a peninsula in Northern Michigan to warn ships of sand bars and rocky shores along Lake Michigan. That lighthouse got its name from another kind of lighthouse, a mission church, which was built 31 years earlier.

In 1839, Rev. Peter Dougherty answered the call to become pastor of a church in Old Mission that was made up of Native Americans who lived farther south on the same peninsula. Under his leadership, a thriving community of farmers, teachers, and craftsmen worked side by side to build a better life for the community.

When believers in Christ work together in unity, their fellowship of faith provides spiritual light in the world’s darkness (Phil. 2:15-16). Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. . . . Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:14-16).

The Mission Point Lighthouse warned ships of danger, but the original Old Mission Church provided spiritual direction to all who would listen. Believers do the same individually and through our churches. We are God’s lighthouse because Jesus lives in us. —Dennis Fisher

You are called with a holy calling

The light of the world to be;

To lift up the lamp of the Savior

That others His light may see. —Anon.

 

Believers help the lost to find their way home when their life shines brightly.

 

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning “I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of

blessing.” / Ezekiel 34:26

Here is sovereign mercy–“I will give them the shower in its season.” Is it not sovereign, divine mercy?–for who can say, “I will give them showers,” except God? There is only one voice which can speak to the clouds, and bid them beget the rain. Who sendeth down the rain upon the earth? Who scattereth the showers upon the green herb? Do not I, the Lord? So grace is the gift of God, and is not to be created by man. It is also needed grace. What would the ground do without showers? You may break the clods, you may sow your seeds, but what can you do without the rain? As absolutely needful is the divine blessing. In vain you labour, until God the plenteous shower bestows, and sends salvation down. Then, it is plenteous grace. “I will send them showers.” It does not say, “I will send them drops,” but “showers.” So it is with grace. If God gives a blessing, he usually gives it in such a measure that there is not room enough to receive it. Plenteous grace! Ah! we want plenteous grace to keep us humble, to make us prayerful, to make us holy; plenteous grace to make us zealous, to preserve us through this life, and at last to land us in heaven. We cannot do without saturating showers of grace. Again, it is seasonable grace. “I will cause the shower to come down in his season.” What is thy season this morning? Is it the season of drought? Then that is the season for showers. Is it a season of great heaviness and black clouds? Then that is the season for showers. “As thy days so shall thy strength be.” And here is a varied blessing. “I will give thee showers of blessing.” The word is in the plural. All kinds of blessings God will send. All God’s blessings go together, like links in a golden chain. If he gives converting grace, he will also give comforting grace. He will send “showers of blessing.” Look up today, O parched plant, and open thy leaves and flowers for a heavenly watering.

 

Evening  “O Lord of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy upon Jerusalem? … And the Lord answered the angel … with good words and comfortable words.” /Zechariah 1:12-13

What a sweet answer to an anxious enquiry! This night let us rejoice in it. O Zion, there are good things in store for thee; thy time of travail shall soon be over; thy children shall be brought forth; thy captivity shall end. Bear patiently the rod for a season, and under the darkness still trust in God, for his love burneth towards thee. God loves the church with a love too deep for human imagination: he loves her with all his infinite heart. Therefore let her sons be of good courage; she cannot be far from prosperity to whom God speaketh “good words and comfortable words.” What these comfortable words are the prophet goes on to tell us: “I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy.” The Lord loves his church so much that he cannot bear that she should go astray to others; and when she has done so, he cannot endure that she should suffer too much or too heavily. He will not have his enemies afflict her: he is displeased with them because they increase her misery. When God seems most to leave his church, his heart is warm towards her. History shows that whenever God uses a rod to chasten his servants, he always breaks it afterwards, as if he loathed the rod which gave his children pain. “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.” God hath not forgotten us because he smites–his blows are no evidences of want of love. If this is true of his church collectively, it is of necessity true also of each individual member. You may fear that the Lord has passed you by, but it is not so: he who counts the stars, and calls them by their names, is in no danger of forgetting his own children. He knows your case as thoroughly as if you were the only creature he ever made, or the only saint he ever loved. Approach him and be at peace.

Understanding God’s Will – John MacArthur

 

“We have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col. 1:9).

Paul’s prayer for the Philippians (Phil. 1:9-11) is closely paralleled by his prayer for the Colossians (Col. 1:9-12). Both epistles were written from the same Roman prison at about the same time in Paul’s life. Both prayers focus on godly living, but each approaches it from a slightly different perspective.

The Philippians were gracious people who needed to exercise greater knowledge and discernment in their love. The Colossians also were gracious but their devotion to Christ was being challenged by heretics who taught that Christ is insufficient for salvation and godly living. True spirituality, the false teachers said, is found in Christ plus human philosophy, religious legalism, mysticism, or asceticism. Paul encouraged the Colossian believers and refuted the false teachers by showing the utter sufficiency of Christ.

At the outset of his prayer Paul stressed the importance of being controlled by the knowledge of God’s will (which is revealed in His Word). That’s the meaning of the Greek word translated “filled” in verse 9. “Knowledge” translates a word that speaks of a deep, penetrating knowledge that results in behavioral change. “Spiritual wisdom and understanding” refers to knowledge that cannot be known through human reasoning or philosophy. It is imparted by the Holy Spirit Himself.

In effect Paul was saying, “I pray that you will be continually controlled by the life-transforming knowledge of God’s will, which the Holy Spirit imparts as you prayerfully study and meditate on God’s Word.”

Scripture supplies the principles you need to live a godly life. The Spirit gives you the power to do so. Many false teachers will try to divert you from the simplicity of devotion to Christ by offering you philosophy, psychology, and a myriad of other hopeless alternatives. Don’t be victimized. In Christ you have everything you need!

Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for His all-sufficient Son and for the resources that are yours in Him.

Ask for wisdom to apply those resources to every situation you face today.

Determination by Joyce Meyer

 

Persecutions, sufferings…​I endured, but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Indeed all who delight in piety and are determined to live a devoted and godly life in Christ Jesus will meet with persecution [will be made to suffer because of their religious stand]. —2 Timothy 3:11–12

In the beginning of my ministry, I had a dream that I was driving my car and approaching a flooded bridge. I stopped, looking first at the water-covered bridge, back where I had been, and to the side of the road, trying to decide if I should park, retreat, or keep moving forward. Then I woke up.

God used that dream to show me that there will always be opposition when pressing toward a goal. There will always be opportunity to park and go no farther or turn around and give up. It was up to me to decide each time if I would give up or go on. That dream has helped me many times to press on when difficulties came and I was tempted to quit. I have decided that even though I don’t always do everything right, I will never quit! Determination will get you a lot further than talent. So if you feel you lack in talent, take heart. All you need to win in life is more determination than anyone else you know.

Lord, today may have its challenges, but I am determined to press on following Your will. By Your grace, I will go the distance and never quit. Amen.

Don’t Worry – Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright

 

“So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time” (Matthew 6:34).

The taxi driver who drove me from the airport to the hotel in Virginia Beach stated several times that he was having difficulty making ends meet for his wife and 2-year-old son.

He had two jobs and worked seven days a week. Even so, he could hardly get by. The rent was high; the utility bills were extravagant, and he was trying to save enough money so that he could move to another city where the hourly wages were considerably higher. There, he would be able to achieve a better way of life.

I asked him if he went to church.

“No,” he said, “I don’t have time. I’m too busy.”

During the next 30 minutes we talked about the love of God, and God’s purpose and plan for men which was revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ.

“I once went to church as a young man,” he said,” and my mother is very religious. In fact, she used to preach to me all the time. But somehow I have gotten away from God and from the church.”

I shared with him the Four Spiritual Laws, and the prayer: “Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.”

By the time we reached the hotel, he was ready to pray that prayer in all earnestness, from the depths of his heart. So he offered the prayer, and I prayed with him. And it seemed as though, before my very eyes, the load he had been carrying for so long was lifted and that God, who had made the promise, had already begun to fulfill that promise.

Bible Reading: Matthew 6:28-33

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will ask God to help me forget the conflicts and unfortunate memories of the past: to take no anxious thought for tomorrow, and to joyfully live in the reality of His supernatural presence and provision.

A Tough Command – Charles Stanley

 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Some verses—like today’s—are easier to memorize than practice. Giving thanks is easy, but giving thanks in everything is a nearly impossible task. And gratitude at times even seems inappropriate, considering the depth of pain or turmoil we are experiencing. But we have a Comforter who helps us exercise thankfulness in every situation.

The Holy Spirit enables believers to do what God requires, and teaching us a gratitude habit is part of His work. Psalm 92 teaches that since “it is good to give thanks to the Lord,” we should “declare [His] lovingkindness in the morning and . . . faithfulness by night” (vv. 1-2). In other words, we should regularly anticipate and recall His provision. But when believers awaken to painful circumstances that have no logical reason for thankfulness, our Comforter provides the motivation and words.

Expressing thanks during turmoil takes place neither spontaneously nor apart from another spiritual activity—prayer. Today’s passage links the disciplines of rejoicing, prayer, and thanksgiving: both exultation and gratitude hinge upon regular communication with God. A prayerless man cannot remain thankful for long, because he is too overwhelmed by his problems. Talking with God forces problems to recede so they can be replaced by peace.

Why does the Lord command us to exercise gratitude? Because He knows that when we focus on His work in our life, we’ll discover our spirits lifting and courage strengthening. Then as we watch Him intervene, we rejoice more, pray more fervently, and learn to give thanks in everything.

 

 

Our Daily Bread — No Simple Recipe

 

Hebrews 4:11-16

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. —Hebrews 4:15

For our grandson’s birthday, my wife baked and decorated a gigantic chocolate chip cookie to serve at his party. She got out her cookbook, gathered the ingredients, and began to follow the simple steps involved in making cookies. She followed a simple recipe and everything turned out well.

Wouldn’t it be nice if life was like that? Just follow a few easy steps and then enjoy a happy life.

But life is not so simple. We live in a fallen world and there is no easy recipe to follow that will ensure a life free of pain, loss, injustice, or suffering.

In the midst of life’s pain, we need the personal care of the Savior who lived in this world and experienced the same struggles we face. Hebrews 4:15 encourages us: “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Christ, who died to give us life, is completely sufficient to carry us through our heartaches and dark experiences. He has “borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isa. 53:4).

Jesus knows there is no simple “recipe” to prevent the heartaches of life, so He entered into them with us. Will we trust Him with our tears and grief? —Bill Crowder

When the trials of this life make you weary

And your troubles seem too much to bear,

There’s a wonderful solace and comfort

In the silent communion of prayer. —Anon.

 

The Christ who died to give us life will carry us through its heartaches.

 

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning   “I will never leave thee.” / Hebrews 13:5

No promise is of private interpretation. Whatever God has said to any one saint, he has said to all. When he opens a well for one, it is that all may drink. When he openeth a granary-door to give out food, there may be some one starving man who is the occasion of its being opened, but all hungry saints may come and feed too. Whether he gave the word to Abraham or to Moses, matters not, O believer; he has given it to thee as one of the covenanted seed. There is not a high blessing too lofty for thee, nor a wide mercy too extensive for thee. Lift up now thine eyes to the north and to the south, to the east and to the west, for all this is thine. Climb to Pisgah’s top, and view the utmost limit of the divine promise, for the land is all thine own. There is not a brook of living water of which thou mayst not drink. If the land floweth with milk and honey, eat the honey and drink the milk, for both are thine. Be thou bold to believe, for he hath said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”In this promise, God gives to his people everything. “I will never leave thee.” Then no attribute of God can cease to be engaged for us. Is he mighty? He will show himself strong on the behalf of them that trust him. Is he love? Then with lovingkindness will he have mercy upon us. Whatever attributes may compose the character of Deity, every one of them to its fullest extent shall be engaged on our side. To put everything in one, there is nothing you can want, there is nothing you can ask for, there is nothing you can need in time or in eternity, there is nothing living, nothing dying, there is nothing in this world, nothing in the next world, there is nothing now, nothing at the resurrection-morning, nothing in heaven which is not contained in this text–“I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

Evening  “Take up the cross, and follow me.” / Mark 10:21

You have not the making of your own cross, although unbelief is a master carpenter at cross-making; neither are you permitted to choose your own cross, although self-will would fain be lord and master; but your cross is prepared and appointed for you by divine love, and you are cheerfully to accept it; you are to take up the cross as your chosen badge and burden, and not to stand cavilling at it. This night Jesus bids you submit your shoulder to his easy yoke. Do not kick at it in petulance, or trample on it in vain-glory, or fall under it in despair, or run away from it in fear, but take it up like a true follower of Jesus. Jesus was a cross-bearer; he leads the way in the path of sorrow. Surely you could not desire a better guide! And if he carried a cross, what nobler burden would you desire? The Via Crucis is the way of safety; fear not to tread its thorny paths.

Beloved, the cross is not made of feathers, or lined with velvet, it is heavy and galling to disobedient shoulders; but it is not an iron cross, though your fears have painted it with iron colours, it is a wooden cross, and a man can carry it, for the Man of sorrows tried the load. Take up your cross, and by the power of the Spirit of God you will soon be so in love with it, that like Moses, you would not exchange the reproach of Christ for all the treasures of Egypt. Remember that Jesus carried it, and it will smell sweetly; remember that it will soon be followed by the crown, and the thought of the coming weight of glory will greatly lighten the present heaviness of trouble. The Lord help you to bow your spirit in submission to the divine will ere you fall asleep this night, that waking with to-morrow’s sun, you may go forth to the day’s cross with the holy and submissive spirit which becomes a follower of the Crucified