Tag Archives: god

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning   “Son of man, What is the vine tree more than any tree, or than a branch which

is among the trees of the forest?” / Ezekiel 15:2

These words are for the humbling of God’s people; they are called God’s vine,

but what are they by nature more than others? They, by God’s goodness, have

become fruitful, having been planted in a good soil; the Lord hath trained

them upon the walls of the sanctuary, and they bring forth fruit to his glory;

but what are they without their God? What are they without the continual

influence of the Spirit, begetting fruitfulness in them? O believer, learn to

reject pride, seeing that thou hast no ground for it. Whatever thou art, thou

hast nothing to make thee proud. The more thou hast, the more thou art in debt

to God; and thou shouldst not be proud of that which renders thee a debtor.

Consider thine origin; look back to what thou wast. Consider what thou wouldst

have been but for divine grace. Look upon thyself as thou art now. Doth not

thy conscience reproach thee? Do not thy thousand wanderings stand before

thee, and tell thee that thou art unworthy to be called his son? And if he

hath made thee anything, art thou not taught thereby that it is grace which

hath made thee to differ? Great believer, thou wouldst have been a great

sinner if God had not made thee to differ. O thou who art valiant for truth,

thou wouldst have been as valiant for error if grace had not laid hold upon

thee. Therefore, be not proud, though thou hast a large estate–a wide domain

of grace, thou hadst not once a single thing to call thine own except thy sin

and misery. Oh! strange infatuation, that thou, who hast borrowed everything,

shouldst think of exalting thyself; a poor dependent pensioner upon the bounty

of thy Saviour, one who hath a life which dies without fresh streams of life

from Jesus, and yet proud! Fie on thee, O silly heart!

 

Evening   “Doth Job fear God for nought?” / Job 1:9

This was the wicked question of Satan concerning that upright man of old, but

there are many in the present day concerning whom it might be asked with

justice, for they love God after a fashion because he prospers them; but if

things went ill with them, they would give up all their boasted faith in God.

If they can clearly see that since the time of their supposed conversion the

world has gone prosperously with them, then they will love God in their poor

carnal way; but if they endure adversity, they rebel against the Lord. Their

love is the love of the table, not of the host; a love to the cupboard, not to

the master of the house. As for the true Christian, he expects to have his

reward in the next life, and to endure hardness in this. The promise of the

old covenant was prosperity, but the promise of the new covenant is adversity.

Remember Christ’s words–“Every branch in me that beareth not fruit”–What?

“He purgeth it, that it may bring forth fruit.” If you bring forth fruit, you

will have to endure affliction. “Alas!” you say, “that is a terrible

prospect.” But this affliction works out such precious results, that the

Christian who is the subject of it must learn to rejoice in tribulations,

because as his tribulations abound, so his consolations abound by Christ

Jesus. Rest assured, if you are a child of God, you will be no stranger to the

rod. Sooner or later every bar of gold must pass through the fire. Fear not,

but rather rejoice that such fruitful times are in store for you, for in them

you will be weaned from earth and made meet for heaven; you will be delivered

from clinging to the present, and made to long for those eternal things which

are so soon to be revealed to you. When you feel that as regards the present

you do serve God for nought, you will then rejoice in the infinite reward of

the future.

Praying for Believers – John MacArthur

 

“For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you, and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers” (Eph. 1:15-16).

The Ephesian Christians demonstrated two important characteristics of genuine Christian faith: faith in the Lord Jesus and love for fellow believers.

“Faith in the Lord Jesus” implies both an affirmation of Christ’s deity and submission to His sovereignty. Because He is God, He is the Sovereign Lord, so we must obey what He commands (John 14:15; 1 John 2:3-6).

Your “love for all the saints” is as much a mark of true faith as your love for God. John said, “The one who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now” (1 John 2:9). In that passage “light” is a metaphor for righteousness and truth, and “darkness” is a metaphor for sin and error. It is sinful and erroneous to claim you love God if you have no love for other believers. Those who love God will love fellow believers as well.

If you love others, you will pray for them and praise God for their spiritual progress–as Paul did for the Ephesians–and they will do the same for you. That’s a wonderful dynamic within the Body of Christ, and one that you must diligently pursue.

Suggestions for Prayer:  If you haven’t done so already, start a prayer list of individuals for whom you will pray each day. List their names and some specific requests. Record answers to your prayers as you see God moving in their lives.

Remember to thank God for their spiritual progress as well as praying for their needs. Let them know you are praying for them. That could be a source of great encouragement for them.

If you are at odds with another believer, seek to reconcile immediately (Matt. 5:23-24) so your witness will be strong and the Lord’s name won’t suffer reproach.

 

For Further Study: Read Philippians 1:9-11 and Colossians 1:9-14

What requests and concerns did Paul express in his prayers?

Do your prayers reflect Paul’s priorities? If not, what adjustments must you make to have a more biblical pattern of prayer?

Go . . . and Make Disciples! – Greg Laurie

 

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching—Hebrews 10:24–25

Jesus gave what is known today as the Great Commission, which is to “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19–20).

But here is what is often left out of the Great Commission: “Make disciples of all nations.” Listen, every Christian is called to go into the world and make disciples. But I didn’t say that everyone is called to be a preacher. Not everyone is called to be a Paul or a Peter. You might be a behind-the-scenes person. You might be someone whom few people know about, but you are where you are, and you want to do what you do for God’s glory. So we are all called to go and make disciples.

Here is the problem: There are a lot of Christians today that have never done this. They have never even thought about this, much less made an effort to do it. In fact, I actually think there can come a point in your Christian life where you don’t need to go hear more Bible studies. (Now, don’t take that out of context.) What I mean is, there can come a point when you are sitting down and having a meal, and it is time to push away from the table, digest your food, and let it be turned into energy to do something productive.

I love Bible studies. I love teaching the Bible, and I want to help others understand the Bible. But if all you do is listen to Bible studies and never do anything with what you’re learning, then you will be in danger of stagnating.

God uses people to change the world – Max Lucado

 

Sinners, the ungodly, the imperfect, the fearful!  Why does God choose such losers to change the world? I’m thinking it’s because there’s a lot more of us to choose from!

God uses people to change the world.  Abraham the liar.  David the adulterer and murderer.  Are you getting the picture?  What they lacked in perfection, God made up for in love. How can God possibly use you to make a difference?  Look at those He’s already used and take heart!  Because you are imperfect, you can speak of making mistakes. Because you’re a sinner, you can give testimony to forgiveness.  God restores the broken and the brittle, then parades them before the world as trophies of his love and strength!  If God chose only righteous people, you could count them all on one finger—Jesus!

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

How to Pray for a President – Charles Stanley

 

Deuteronomy 17:14-20

As Christians, we have a responsibility to pray for those in authority over us—fathers, pastors, and leaders. When you talk to God about the President, ask that he will . . .

1. Realize his personal sinfulness and daily need of God’s cleansing power.

2. Recognize his personal inadequacy for the task and therefore depend upon the Lord.

3. Reject all counsel that violates spiritual principles and then trust the Lord to validate him.

4. Resist pressure from individuals or special interest groups that would have him act in violation of his conscience or godly principles.

5. Work at reversing our country’s trends toward socialism and humanism, both of which dethrone the Lord and deify man.

6. Be ready to forsake his political career and personal ambition for the best interest of the nation.

7. Rely upon the Word of God as his source of strength and key to success.

8. Bring dignity, honor, trustworthiness, and righteousness to the office of the presidency.

9. Be a good example, especially to the fathers and sons of the nation.

10. Be reminded daily that he is accountable to Almighty God for his attitudes, actions, and motivations while in office.

Leading a country is a very important, demanding job. The President and other elected officials need our prayers. But to be effective, our requests must be more specific than “Lord, bless the President” or “God, help our leaders do a good job.” The above list is a good way to start.

The Just Will Rise – Ravi Zacharias

 

In his famed “I have a Dream speech,” Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed: “We refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.” At these words, King painted for a troubled nation a powerful image of hope, and forever rooted the civil rights movement in images of justice and the image of God.

The images presented in the book of Daniel are similarly rooted in images of justice and God. In fact, it is for this reason that the sixth chapter of Daniel was a favorite Scripture passage among civil rights preachers in the early 1960s. The story told in Daniel 6 presents a king who loses sight of his purpose as king and the purpose of the law, creating a system void of justice and a law that only hinders and traps its makers. But against the images of lawlessness and corruption, the story portrays a silent but active Daniel clinging to a higher law, bowing before the King of Kings in the midst of persecution, in the hands of his oppressors, and the shadows of the lions’ den. Living within the hopelessness of exile, sweltering under the heat of injustice, Daniel unflinchingly declares the sovereignty of God, and with faithfulness and perseverance refuses to believe otherwise.

In a kingdom in which he was a mere foreigner, Daniel was appointed a position of great authority because the king found him to be useful. The story quickly hints that in the peaceful dominion of King Darius all is not peaceful. The leaders serving under Daniel want to get rid of him. The story does not provide a thorough explanation for their hatred of Daniel and yet, perhaps in this silence much is said. The nature of any prejudice is absent of explanation. Without reason, without logic, we discriminate and are discriminated against. There is no explanation because to explain our reasons behind prejudice is to become our own judge. In fact, Daniel’s enemies announce their illogic when they conclude, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God” (6:5).

Whatever their motivation, the men proceed with their plan. Approaching the king with flattery that he does not refuse, they convince him to establish an ordinance that holds the kingdom accountable to praying only to him. The king, who is pleased with his high and lofty position and his authority to rule, agrees to test the loyalty of his citizens, and to make the law irrevocable.

It is significant to note that Daniel does not speak until the end of the story, yet throughout it, he is anything but complacent. Knowing the document had been signed, Daniel goes to his house, opens his windows, faces Jerusalem, and prays as he had done before. Just as planned, he is immediately caught by the men who are quick to point out his guilt before the king. While the king stands guilt-ridden, Daniel stands accused, and nothing can be done to save him. Bound by his own law, the king must release his faithful servant into the hands of injustice. Daniel is thrown into the lions’ den, which is then sealed at the remorseful hand of the king.

As we await the outcome, the injustice of the situation palpable, the voices we most want to hear from remain discouragingly silent. We hear nothing from the lips of Daniel. And we hear nothing from the mouth of Daniel’s God.

In the face of injustice, silence is indeed oppressive; filled at once with despairing questions. Where is God? What of the silent victims? Who will speak over the deafening sounds of injustice, over the word games and manipulative arguments, when hands are tied, options are exhausted, and fates seem irreversible?

Daniel eventually speaks, but only after his irreversible sentence was overruled by the hand of God. Daniel’s story, not unlike the stories of the civil rights movement worldwide, is a declaration that in silence God is still acting, in the weariness of injustice, in the shadows of those who seek to devour, God is sovereign. Justly, thankfully, God comes near to the oppressed. “Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise.”

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

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning “And so all Israel shall be saved.” / Romans 11:26

Then Moses sang at the Red Sea, it was his joy to know that all Israel were

safe. Not a drop of spray fell from that solid wall until the last of God’s

Israel had safely planted his foot on the other side the flood. That done,

immediately the floods dissolved into their proper place again, but not till

then. Part of that song was, “Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people

which thou hast redeemed.” In the last time, when the elect shall sing the

song of Moses, the servant of God, and of the Lamb, it shall be the boast of

Jesus, “Of all whom thou hast given me, I have lost none.” In heaven there

shall not be a vacant throne.

“For all the chosen race

Shall meet around the throne,

Shall bless the conduct of his grace,

And make his glories known.”

As many as God hath chosen, as many as Christ hath redeemed, as many as the

Spirit hath called, as many as believe in Jesus, shall safely cross the

dividing sea. We are not all safely landed yet:

“Part of the host have crossed the flood,

And part are crossing now.”

The vanguard of the army has already reached the shore. We are marching

through the depths; we are at this day following hard after our Leader into

the heart of the sea. Let us be of good cheer: the rear-guard shall soon be

where the vanguard already is; the last of the chosen ones shall soon have

crossed the sea, and then shall be heard the song of triumph, when all are

secure. But oh! if one were absent–oh! if one of his chosen family should be

cast away–it would make an everlasting discord in the song of the redeemed,

and cut the strings of the harps of paradise, so that music could never be

extorted from them.

 

Evening   “He was sore athirst, and called on the Lord, and said, thou hast given this

great deliverance into the hand of thy servant: and now shall I die for

thirst?” / Judges 15:18

Samson was thirsty and ready to die. The difficulty was totally different from

any which the hero had met before. Merely to get thirst assuaged is nothing

like so great a matter as to be delivered from a thousand Philistines! but

when the thirst was upon him, Samson felt that little present difficulty more

weighty than the great past difficulty out of which he had so specially been

delivered. It is very usual for God’s people, when they have enjoyed a great

deliverance, to find a little trouble too much for them. Samson slays a

thousand Philistines, and piles them up in heaps, and then faints for a little

water! Jacob wrestles with God at Peniel, and overcomes Omnipotence itself,

and then goes “halting on his thigh!” Strange that there must be a shrinking

of the sinew whenever we win the day. As if the Lord must teach us our

littleness, our nothingness, in order to keep us within bounds. Samson boasted

right loudly when he said, “I have slain a thousand men.” His boastful throat

soon grew hoarse with thirst, and he betook himself to prayer. God has many

ways of humbling his people. Dear child of God, if after great mercy you are

laid very low, your case is not an unusual one. When David had mounted the

throne of Israel, he said, “I am this day weak, though anointed king.” You

must expect to feel weakest when you are enjoying your greatest triumph. If

God has wrought for you great deliverances in the past, your present

difficulty is only like Samson’s thirst, and the Lord will not let you faint,

nor suffer the daughter of the uncircumcised to triumph over you. The road of

sorrow is the road to heaven, but there are wells of refreshing water all

along the route. So, tried brother, cheer your heart with Samson’s words, and

rest assured that God will deliver you ere long.

Reflecting God’s Ownership – John MacArthur

 

You were sealed with the Holy Spirit “with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:14).

Yesterday we saw that God seals us with the Holy Spirit as a pledge of our eternal inheritance. Here Paul says He does so “with a view to the redemption of [His] own possession.” That refers to when God takes full possession of all that is rightfully His.

Everything is God’s by creation, but Satan has usurped God’s rulership to become the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4) in whose power the whole world currently lies (1 John 5:19). Consequently, all creation is in bondage to decay and “groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Rom. 8:22, NIV). It eagerly awaits the time when the curse of Genesis 3 is reversed, all Christians are fully glorified, and sin is eternally vanquished. What a glorious time that will be!

You are God’s special possession because you are His by redemption as well as creation. In Revelation 5:9 the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders sing to the Lord, “Worthy art Thou . . . for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” In Acts 20:28 Paul charges the Ephesian elders to guard carefully “the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”

That makes you a priceless commodity to God–part of “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God” (1 Pet. 2:9-10).

As God’s special possession, you should reflect His ownership and sovereign rule in everything you do. Remember, “you are not your own . . . for you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God that you are His treasured possession.

Seek His Spirit’s leading in proclaiming His excellencies to others through your words and deeds.

Ask Him to teach you to esteem other believers as highly as He does.

For Further Study:  Read Ephesians 2:1-13, noting the spiritual privileges and responsibilities that are yours in Christ.

Son of Encouragement – Greg Laurie

 

And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. . . .—Acts 9:26–27

You would think that, upon hearing of Saul’s (later known as Paul) conversion, the early church would have given him a standing ovation. The fact is that the believers were still suspicious, because in Acts 9:26 we read, “When Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him. . . .”

They must have been thinking, Really? Yeah . . . no. He is not a Christian. There is just no way.

Where was their faith?

But the same thing happens to us as well. We may hear that a certain person has become a believer, and we’ll say, “Oh, I don’t know if I really believe that.”

Even after someone makes a commitment to Christ, sometimes there are rough edges that remain, and we are very quick to criticize: “He is not a Christian because he cussed.”

True, he shouldn’t have cussed, but I wouldn’t say he isn’t a Christian because of that. I would say that perhaps he is a work in progress. Maybe we should put a little sign around a new believer’s neck that says, “Under construction.”

Has it really been so long since we began to walk with Christ that we have forgotten what it is like for new believers? They don’t know how it works yet. I am not excusing anyone’s sin, but all of us have some growing to do, don’t we?

Saul was converted, but many of the Christians didn’t believe it. Enter Barnabas, who put it on the line and backed up Saul’s story, taking him to the apostles. We need more men like Barnabas today. The name Barnabas means “son of encouragement.” And we need people that are encouraging, because often people fall through the cracks after they have come to Christ.

Anxiety: How to Respond – By Dr. Charles Stanley

 

Do you sometimes lie awake at night, fretting about a situation? Have you ever felt paralyzed by worry? Although everyone experiences moments of anxiety, we don’t have to let fear control our lives. The Bible teaches us how to acquire peace in the midst of stressful circumstances.

A. Closely guard your thought life.

Anxiety is an emotion caused by fearful thoughts. Changing one’s pattern of thinking generally causes apprehension to dissipate. When your thought life becomes negative or counterproductive, deliberately choose to set your mind on something else.

According to Philippians 4:8, what should our focus be?

What percentage of the time does your thinking measure up to this standard?

In what areas does it fall short?

There are a number of ways you can stop an unhealthy train of thought. For instance, you can praise the Lord and thank Him, turn to solving a different challenge, or find wholesome entertainment. But perhaps the best way is to meet God in prayer and focus on biblical truths.

B. Renew your mind with Scripture.

Many anxieties are rooted in worldly concerns. Refreshing your mind with biblical truth can help put such worries in perspective.

Two scriptural principles in particular can bring us great peace:

 

Our heavenly Father is sovereign and in control over all situations (Ps. 91).

He lovingly provides for the needs of His children (Matt. 6:25-34).

You can also look for verses regarding the specific anxieties that bother you the most. For instance, to counter an unhealthy fear of dying, remind yourself: “God will redeem my life from the grave; He will surely take me to Himself” (Ps. 49:15 NIV).

In what area of your life do you feel most anxious?

What specific scripture(s) could remind you of God’s perspective on those worries?

If no verses come to mind, simply ask the Lord to reveal appropriate ones during the next few weeks.

C. Turn anxieties into prayers.

A constructive way to redirect nervous energy is to turn our concerns over to the heavenly Father. You may want to get on your knees and talk out loud to God in the privacy of your home. Or you may find it productive to write your prayers in the form of letters to the Father.

Anxieties may return at some point. If that happens, simply say, “Lord, I’m giving this worry back to You.” Then deliberately refocus your thoughts.

Prayer should be accompanied by thanksgiving (Phil. 4:6). What are some reasons for believers to be grateful?

How can an attitude of thankfulness lower a person’s anxiety level?

If we make known our requests to God, what does Paul promise will happen (Phil. 4:7)? What do you think this would look like in your life?

Sometime today, present your requests to the Lord according to Paul’s instructions in Philippians 4:6. Even if your situation does not change, God will give you His supernatural peace.

D. Diligently fulfill your responsibilities.

When we fail to perform our duties, we sometimes end up with anxiety-causing situations. For example, a person who fails to maintain his car will typically end up with a malfunctioning vehicle.

Those who neglect their responsibilities will face many unnecessary hardships in life. Let’s look at this biblical principle as it relates to money. In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus promises that the Father will provide for our basic needs. But Scripture also teaches that in most cases, believers have a role to play in meeting financial commitments (2 Thess. 3:10).

According to the wisdom of Proverbs, what are a couple of reasons why some people become poor (Prov. 10:4; 28:19)?

What are two reasons why the apostle Paul worked to earn a living (2 Thess. 3:7-9)?

 

Now, let’s apply the general principle that each believer must do his or her part to respond to problems.

Is God prompting you to be a part of the solution regarding one of your concerns? If so, in what way?

What do you think has prevented you from doing your part?

Of course, taking responsibility doesn’t guarantee a resolution to the problem. If the situation doesn’t resolve, you can still find supernatural peace by applying the concepts in the rest of this study. Continue to be sensitive to the Lord’s guidance regarding your role in finding a solution. If necessary, seek outside help from your pastor, a professional counselor, or a ministry designed to help people struggling with a similar difficulty.

Conclusion: Anxiety can cripple us emotionally and hinder our productivity. Or it can drive us to prayer and prompt spiritual growth. Choose to respond to worry in a godly manner. Not only will the Lord be glorified, but you will be set free from anxiety’s paralyzing grip.

Prayer: Father, thank You for revealing how to live worry-free. As your children, we are grateful for the responsibilities You’ve entrusted to us. But we need Your help in carrying them out. Teach us to give our anxieties to You in prayer, trusting Your provision for all we need. Amen.

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning “Abel was a keeper of sheep.” / Genesis 4:2

As a shepherd Abel sanctified his work to the glory of God, and offered a

sacrifice of blood upon his altar, and the Lord had respect unto Abel and his

offering. This early type of our Lord is exceedingly clear and distinct. Like

the first streak of light which tinges the east at sunrise, it does not reveal

everything, but it clearly manifests the great fact that the sun is coming. As

we see Abel, a shepherd and yet a priest, offering a sacrifice of sweet smell

unto God, we discern our Lord, who brings before his Father a sacrifice to

which Jehovah ever hath respect. Abel was hated by his brother–hated without

a cause; and even so was the Saviour: the natural and carnal man hated the

accepted man in whom the Spirit of grace was found, and rested not until his

blood had been shed. Abel fell, and sprinkled his altar and sacrifice with his

own blood, and therein sets forth the Lord Jesus slain by the enmity of man

while serving as a priest before the Lord. “The good Shepherd layeth down his

life for the sheep.” Let us weep over him as we view him slain by the hatred

of mankind, staining the horns of his altar with his own blood. Abel’s blood

speaketh. “The Lord said unto Cain, The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth

unto me from the ground.'” The blood of Jesus hath a mighty tongue, and the

import of its prevailing cry is not vengeance but mercy. It is precious beyond

all preciousness to stand at the altar of our good Shepherd! to see him

bleeding there as the slaughtered priest, and then to hear his blood speaking

peace to all his flock, peace in our conscience, peace between Jew and

Gentile, peace between man and his offended Maker, peace all down the ages of

eternity for blood-washed men. Abel is the first shepherd in order of time,

but our hearts shall ever place Jesus first in order of excellence. Thou great

Keeper of the sheep, we the people of thy pasture bless thee with our whole

hearts when we see thee slain for us.

 

Evening “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.” /

Psalm 119:37

There are divers kinds of vanity. The cap and bells of the fool, the mirth of

the world, the dance, the lyre, and the cup of the dissolute, all these men

know to be vanities; they wear upon their forefront their proper name and

title. Far more treacherous are those equally vain things, the cares of this

world and the deceitfulness of riches. A man may follow vanity as truly in the

counting-house as in the theatre. If he be spending his life in amassing

wealth, he passes his days in a vain show. Unless we follow Christ, and make

our God the great object of life, we only differ in appearance from the most

frivolous. It is clear that there is much need of the first prayer of our

text. “Quicken thou me in thy way.” The Psalmist confesses that he is dull,

heavy, lumpy, all but dead. Perhaps, dear reader, you feel the same. We are so

sluggish that the best motives cannot quicken us, apart from the Lord himself.

What! will not hell quicken me? Shall I think of sinners perishing, and yet

not be awakened? Will not heaven quicken me? Can I think of the reward that

awaiteth the righteous, and yet be cold? Will not death quicken me? Can I

think of dying, and standing before my God, and yet be slothful in my Master’s

service? Will not Christ’s love constrain me? Can I think of his dear wounds,

can I sit at the foot of his cross, and not be stirred with fervency and zeal?

It seems so! No mere consideration can quicken us to zeal, but God himself

must do it, hence the cry, “Quicken thou me.” The Psalmist breathes out his

whole soul in vehement pleadings: his body and his soul unite in prayer. “Turn

away mine eyes,” says the body: “Quicken thou me,” cries the soul. This is a

fit prayer for every day. O Lord, hear it in my case this night.

Rejoicing in Assurance – John MacArthur

 

“You were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance” (Eph. 1:13-14).

The Holy Spirit’s ministry in your life is multifaceted and profound. Among other things He brings salvation, conviction, guidance, and strength. He indwells and equips you for spiritual service and gives assurance of your salvation. He is your Helper and Advocate. He is the Spirit of promise, who seals you until the day when your redemption is fully realized (Eph. 4:30).

Sealing speaks of security, authenticity, ownership, and authority. Ancient kings, princes, and nobles placed their official seal on documents or other items to guarantee their inviolability. To break the seal was to incur the wrath of the sovereign whom it represented (cf. Dan. 6:17; Matt. 27:62-66).

A seal on a letter authenticated it as from the hand of the one whose seal it bore. Legal documents such as property deeds and wills were often finalized with an official seal. Those who possessed the sealed decree of a king had the king’s delegated authority to act on that decree.

Each of those aspects of sealing is a picture of the Spirit’s ministry. He is God’s guarantee that your salvation is inviolable and that you are an authentic member of His kingdom and family. You are His possession–having been purchased with His Son’s precious blood (1 Cor. 6:20). You are His ambassador with delegated authority to proclaim His message to a lost world (2 Cor. 5:20).

The Spirit is the pledge of your eternal inheritance (Eph. 1:14). The Greek word translated “pledge” in that verse (arrab[ma]on) was used of down payment or earnest money given to secure a purchase. Rejoice in the assurance that God, who cannot lie (Titus 1:2), has given you His Spirit as a guarantee that He will keep His promises.

Suggestions for Prayer: Praise God for the security of your eternal inheritance.

Praise the Spirit for His many ministries in your life. Be sensitive to His leading today so that your ministry to others will be powerful and consistent with His will.

 

For Further Study:  Read Esther chapters 3, 8. What role did the king’s signet ring play in the decree of Haman (chapter 3)? The decree of Ahasuerus and Mordecai (chapter 8)?

Biblical Listening: Trust and Obey – Charles Stanley

 

James 1:19

Yesterday we looked at the various ways people approach God’s Word. If you assessed how you listen to His instructions and determined there’s room for improvement, be encouraged—that realization is the first step toward becoming more sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Now, commit to . . .

• Listen carefully. By an act of your will, choose to listen purposefully when you read the Bible or hear it preached. Decide to “pray without ceasing” as you go through your day (1 Thess. 5:17).

• Resist all outside clutter. One of Satan’s strategies is to get our minds so occupied with peripheral concerns that we compromise our reliance upon Christ. So much of what we deem important plummets down the priority scale when held against the light of truth.

• Evaluate your life against what you’re hearing in Scripture. This means taking the initiative to hold up your life against the standard of God’s truth—and agreeing to making any necessary changes.

• Apply the truths that the Holy Spirit impresses upon your heart. This is a decision you make—one that indicates just how serious you are about walking with Jesus Christ. God will honor your stepping out in faith, and you’ll see that He can be fully trusted.

Listening to what the Word of God says is important, but life transformation won’t happen unless you personally apply its teachings. Strive to obey Scripture and the Lord’s leading every time. When you do, He takes responsibility for the results, and you will find Him trustworthy.

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

Morning “I sought him, but I found him not.” / Song of Solomon 3:1
Tell me where you lost the company of Christ, and I will tell you the most
likely place to find him. Have you lost Christ in the closet by restraining
prayer? Then it is there you must seek and find him. Did you lose Christ by
sin? You will find Christ in no other way but by the giving up of the sin, and
seeking by the Holy Spirit to mortify the member in which the lust doth dwell.
Did you lose Christ by neglecting the Scriptures? You must find Christ in the
Scriptures. It is a true proverb, “Look for a thing where you dropped it, it
is there.” So look for Christ where you lost him, for he has not gone away.
But it is hard work to go back for Christ. Bunyan tells us, the pilgrim found
the piece of the road back to the Arbour of Ease, where he lost his roll, the
hardest he had ever travelled. Twenty miles onward is easier than to go one
mile back for the lost evidence.

Take care, then, when you find your Master, to cling close to him. But how is
it you have lost him? One would have thought you would never have parted with
such a precious friend, whose presence is so sweet, whose words are so
comforting, and whose company is so dear to you! How is it that you did not
watch him every moment for fear of losing sight of him? Yet, since you have
let him go, what a mercy that you are seeking him, even though you mournfully
groan, “O that I knew where I might find him!” Go on seeking, for it is
dangerous to be without thy Lord. Without Christ you are like a sheep without
its shepherd; like a tree without water at its roots; like a sere leaf in the
tempest–not bound to the tree of life. With thine whole heart seek him, and
he will be found of thee: only give thyself thoroughly up to the search, and
verily, thou shalt yet discover him to thy joy and gladness.

Evening “Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the
Scriptures.” / Luke 24:45

He whom we viewed last evening as opening Scripture, we here perceive opening
the understanding. In the first work he has many fellow-labourers, but in the
second he stands alone; many can bring the Scriptures to the mind, but the
Lord alone can prepare the mind to receive the Scriptures. Our Lord Jesus
differs from all other teachers; they reach the ear, but he instructs the
heart; they deal with the outward letter, but he imparts an inward taste for
the truth, by which we perceive its savour and spirit. The most unlearned of
men become ripe scholars in the school of grace when the Lord Jesus by his
Holy Spirit unfolds the mysteries of the kingdom to them, and grants the
divine anointing by which they are enabled to behold the invisible. Happy are
we if we have had our understandings cleared and strengthened by the Master!
How many men of profound learning are ignorant of eternal things! They know
the killing letter of revelation, but its killing spirit they cannot discern;
they have a veil upon their hearts which the eyes of carnal reason cannot
penetrate. Such was our case a little time ago; we who now see were once
utterly blind; truth was to us as beauty in the dark, a thing unnoticed and
neglected. Had it not been for the love of Jesus we should have remained to
this moment in utter ignorance, for without his gracious opening of our
understanding, we could no more have attained to spiritual knowledge than an
infant can climb the Pyramids, or an ostrich fly up to the stars. Jesus’
College is the only one in which God’s truth can be really learned; other
schools may teach us what is to be believed, but Christ’s alone can show us
how to believe it. Let us sit at the feet of Jesus, and by earnest prayer call
in his blessed aid that our dull wits may grow brighter, and our feeble
understandings may receive heavenly things.

Embracing the Truth – John MacArthur

 

“In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed” (Eph. 1:13).

After stating salvation from God’s perspective in verse 12, Paul here states it from man’s perspective. Faith in Christ is your response to God’s elective purpose in your life. Those two truths–God’s initiative and man’s response–co-exist throughout Scripture.

Paul rightly called the gospel “the message of truth” because truth is its predominant characteristic. Salvation was conceived by the God of truth (Ps. 31:5); purchased by the Son, who is the truth (John 14:6); and is applied by the Spirit of truth (John 16:13). To know it is to know the truth that sets men free (John 8:32). Believers are people of the truth (John 18:37), who worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), and who obey the Word of truth (John 17:17).

Yet as profound and powerful as God’s truth is, people have rejected, neglected, redefined, and opposed it for centuries. Some, like Pilate, cynically deny that truth even exists or that it can be known by men (John 18:38). Others foolishly think that denying truth will somehow make it go away.

Perhaps you’ve heard someone say, “Jesus may be true for you but that doesn’t mean He has to be true for me.” That view assumes that belief somehow determines truth. But just the opposite is the case. Truth determines the validity of one’s belief. Believing a lie doesn’t make it true. Conversely, failing to believe the truth doesn’t make it a lie.

The gospel is true because Jesus is true, not simply because Christians believe in Him. His resurrection proved the truth of His claims and constitutes the objective basis of our faith (Rom. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:3).

You enter this day armed with the message of truth and empowered by the Spirit of truth. Truth is your protection and strength (Eph. 6:14). Lost souls desperately need to hear that truth. Represent it well and proclaim it with boldness.

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank the Lord that by His Spirit He has enabled you to understand His truth (1 Cor. 2:14-16).

Ask for wisdom and boldness to speak His truth in love (Eph. 4:15).

For Further Study:  Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 and Acts 17:30-31.

What key elements of the gospel does Paul list?

What is the relationship between Christ’s resurrection and God’s judgment on sinners?

A Walking Light Bulb! – Greg Laurie

 

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”—Matthew 5:16

The religious leaders thought they had eliminated the problem when they crucified Jesus. But now, His disciples were preaching and performing miracles. It was as though Jesus had returned. And so He had—in the hearts and lives of His people.

This reminds us that one of the best arguments for the Christian faith is a transformed life. New believers are the best advertising God could have because their lifestyles change, their attitudes change, and even their countenances change. The greatest biography of Jesus is written in the words and actions of His people. Your godly lifestyle is a testimony, just as if you were a walking miracle, like the lame man whom Peter and John healed.

Jesus told us we are to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. There is a place to let our lights shine and proclaim the truth of God. And there is a place for us to be salt.

Even if you don’t tell people you are a Christian, they will sense something different about you, and they will watch you. As a representative of Christ, you’re like a walking light bulb. If you continue to keep a sweet and patient spirit while you’re going through times of hardship and suffering, that light will burn even brighter, catching the eyes and the curiosity of even more people.

If you are being the kind of follower of Jesus that God wants you to be, if you are being a “salty” Christian, then your lifestyle will stimulate a thirst for God in others. The greatest compliment is when someone wants to know more, when he or she approaches you and says, “What is it about you?” That is your opportunity to. . .turn on the light.

One paraphrase of Scripture puts it this way: “Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy” (1 Peter 3:15 MSG).

How Do You Listen to God’s Word? – Charles Stanley

 

Matthew 13:1-9

Though it contains essential information for every human life, people approach the Bible very differently. Today’s passage identifies four types of listeners:

• Closed mind. This does not exclusively describe unbelievers. Christians, too, can listen passively, without intending to apply what they hear. The seed can’t germinate because the soil’s surface is too hard. Such believers remain shallow until they decide to pay attention to God and obey.

• Clouded mind. Represented by rocky soil, the clouded mind will hear God’s Word and get excited. But then the person doesn’t take time to study, grow roots, and let the truth sink into his heart. With little doctrinal foundation or knowledge of God’s promises, he has difficulty withstanding the harshness of life.

• Cluttered mind. The worries of life are to the Christian heart what briers, thorns, and thickets are to a garden. A preoccupied mind has little or no room for God’s Word to sprout and thrive.

• Committed mind. God can do great things through someone whose mind is like fertile soil. The most intellectual person in the world, if not teachable, will miss the truth of the gospel, whereas even a young child who is willing to listen and learn will be transformed.

All of us would like to have the blessing described in today’s reading—a huge return for what is sown. For that to be true of our life, we need to take an honest look to see if we approach biblical principles with a teachable Spirit. As Jesus said, “He who has ears, let him hear.”

Undone – Ravi Zacharias

 

The Oxford University Press “Word of the Year” is an honor bestowed on a new or old word that is chosen for its representation of the year’s cultural milieu. Considered for this past year’s awards in the UK or the US were words such as “nomophobia” (anxiety caused by being without one’s mobile phone—from no and mo(bile) + phobia), “YOLO” (an acronym for you only live once) and the related “FOMO” (the fear of missing out on a social event), “second screening” (the activity of watching television whilst simultaneously using a smartphone, laptop, etc.), “selfie” (a picture of oneself taken from a smartphone and uploaded to a social media site), and “bashtagging” (using a company’s promotional hashtag on Twitter to criticize or complain about the company, rather than endorse it). Similarly tech-savvy is the word that was chosen as the US word of the year, an evolving relic of the 1980s that has “never been trendier,” according to Katherine Martin, Head of the US Dictionaries Program at Oxford University Press.(1) “GIF,” an acronym for Graphics Interchange Format, pronounced jif, is a compressed file format for images that can be used to create simple, looping animations.

Much has been said recently on the influences of technology, social media culture, twitter feeds, and smartphones; on the ways we obtain, retain, and proclaim information; on the ways we interact with each other and on the ways in which we think as a result of it. Many of the shortlisted choices for the UK and US words of the year demonstrate how we are adapting linguistically; it is perhaps ironic that a dictionary should choose to praise words that are driven by a need to use fewer words—texting shorthand, programming acronyms, and twitter-speak. Studies on information behavior such as one conducted by scholars from University College London suggests that we may well be in the midst of a reprogramming of the way we read and think.(2) Some of their observations are fascinating; others are causing due alarm. However we choose to look at it, technology is unquestionably shaping the way we see the world.

As someone who spends a great deal of time on the computer writing and editing, one of my most cherished and simple technological functions continues to be the ability to “undo” something. With the flip of two fingers—one on “command” and the other on the letter “z”—I can remove the sentence I just added to the page, take back the word that did not quite fit, or reverse the effect of every previous command and restore my document to its original condition. No matter how many actions I have taken on the page, I can undo every one of them—and this is often useful! Technologically, it is a feature to which I have grown quite accustomed—so much so, that I find myself believing haphazardly that nothing is ever really lost, and that everything can be undone, erased, or retrieved. More so, I cannot begin to calculate how many times I have thought about this function when I have needed it in places far from my computer screen. I picture my fingers snapping up scenes in my day as if my life was on a screen being edited.

Of course, reality never takes long to jar me back into a world with vastly different rules of operation. We cannot undo words that have already been said or take back actions that were less opportune than we anticipated. Hindsight, by definition, is a vision that is no longer available to us, no matter how urgently we would turn back time and undo what has been done. Our actions and inactions, words, lies, and blind spots cannot be expunged like a spreadsheet or a document. Here, the Christian resolve that our “yes” be our “yes,” that consequences be weighed, and the cost of our action or inaction be counted at the outset is a far wiser and practical vision. And of course, it is far harder work. “But which of you,” asks Christ, “intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it?… Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand?”(3)

Warning the crowds to count the costs of following him, Jesus spoke in terms that would cause the faint and the indecisive to run. He also begged them to see that how we live, what we do and say, matters deeply and cannot be undone. We cannot undo foolish words spoken in anger, the regret of a lost opportunity, or the act of walking away from someone in need. Nor can we undo a life that missed the cultivation of a nearby Christ while we had our hands on other plows. But we can choose to live dynamically today. Jesus bids us to fashion our legacy from this day forward, ever looking to the one who is in fact able to undo a life that is anything less.

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

(1) “Word Of The Year 2012: ‘GIF’, According To Oxford American Dictionaries,” Huffington Post, November 12, 2012. See also “Oxford Dictionaries UK Word of the Year 2012,” November 13, 2012, http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/press-releases/uk-word-of-the-year-2012/, accessed December 1, 2012.

(2) “Information Behaviour of the Researcher of the Future,” University College London Online Briefing, January 11 2008, http://www.bl.uk/news/pdf/googlegen.pdf, accessed October 1, 2008.

(3) Luke 14:28,31.

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” / Hebrews 4:9

How different will be the state of the believer in heaven from what it is

here! Here he is born to toil and suffer weariness, but in the land of the

immortal, fatigue is never known. Anxious to serve his Master, he finds his

strength unequal to his zeal: his constant cry is, “Help me to serve thee, O

my God.” If he be thoroughly active, he will have much labour; not too much

for his will, but more than enough for his power, so that he will cry out, “I

am not wearied of the labour, but I am wearied in it.” Ah! Christian, the hot

day of weariness lasts not forever; the sun is nearing the horizon; it shall

rise again with a brighter day than thou hast ever seen upon a land where they

serve God day and night, and yet rest from their labours. Here, rest is but

partial, there, it is perfect. Here, the Christian is always unsettled; he

feels that he has not yet attained. There, all are at rest; they have attained

the summit of the mountain; they have ascended to the bosom of their God.

Higher they cannot go. Ah, toil-worn labourer, only think when thou shalt rest

forever! Canst thou conceive it? It is a rest eternal; a rest that

“remaineth.” Here, my best joys bear “mortal” on their brow; my fair flowers

fade; my dainty cups are drained to dregs; my sweetest birds fall before

Death’s arrows; my most pleasant days are shadowed into nights; and the

flood-tides of my bliss subside into ebbs of sorrow; but there, everything is

immortal; the harp abides unrusted, the crown unwithered, the eye undimmed,

the voice unfaltering, the heart unwavering, and the immortal being is wholly

absorbed in infinite delight. Happy day! happy! when mortality shall be

swallowed up of life, and the Eternal Sabbath shall begin.

 

Evening  “He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”

/ Luke 24:27

The two disciples on the road to Emmaus had a most profitable journey. Their

companion and teacher was the best of tutors; the interpreter one of a

thousand, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. The Lord

Jesus condescended to become a preacher of the gospel, and he was not ashamed

to exercise his calling before an audience of two persons, neither does he now

refuse to become the teacher of even one. Let us court the company of so

excellent an Instructor, for till he is made unto us wisdom we shall never be

wise unto salvation.

This unrivalled tutor used as his class-book the best of books. Although able

to reveal fresh truth, he preferred to expound the old. He knew by his

omniscience what was the most instructive way of teaching, and by turning at

once to Moses and the prophets, he showed us that the surest road to wisdom is

not speculation, reasoning, or reading human books, but meditation upon the

Word of God. The readiest way to be spiritually rich in heavenly knowledge is

to dig in this mine of diamonds, to gather pearls from this heavenly sea. When

Jesus himself sought to enrich others, he wrought in the quarry of Holy

Scripture.

The favoured pair were led to consider the best of subjects, for Jesus spake

of Jesus, and expounded the things concerning himself. Here the diamond cut

the diamond, and what could be more admirable? The Master of the House

unlocked his own doors, conducted the guests to his table, and placed his own

dainties upon it. He who hid the treasure in the field himself guided the

searchers to it. Our Lord would naturally discourse upon the sweetest of

topics, and he could find none sweeter than his own person and work: with an

eye to these we should always search the Word. O for grace to study the Bible

with Jesus as both our teacher and our lesson!

Proclaiming God’s Preeminence – John MacArthur

 

We were predestined “to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:12).

Preeminence implies supreme standing, picturing one who excels over all others in a particular quality or achievement. There is no one more preeminent than God.

Ephesians 1:12 underscores that truth. You were redeemed and granted an eternal inheritance that God might be glorified. Certainly you benefit greatly from salvation, but God’s glory is the primary issue.

Our man-centered culture doesn’t share that perspective. Sadly, its self-seeking and self-glorifying mentality has crept into the church, and even the gospel itself has been subjected to its influence. For example sin is often defined by how it affects man, not how it dishonors God. Salvation is often presented as a means of receiving what Christ offers, not a mandate to obey what He commands. Many modern-day evangelists have reduced the gospel to little more than a formula by which people can live a happy and more fulfilling life. The focus has shifted from God’s glory to man’s benefit.

Such a convoluted gospel fuels the fire of self-love and self-exaltation.

As believers we know better than that. We know that the purpose of life is to glorify God. That means living to His glory is to govern everything we do.

What higher or more noble purpose could life afford? “Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,” Paul said he pressed “on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14). Keep that goal clearly in mind in all you do today. By doing so your day will be to the praise of God’s glory!

Suggestions for Prayer: Praise God for His preeminence in all things.

Pray for opportunities to speak of His preeminence to others, remembering that they will see Him in your actions as well as your words.

For Further Study:  Read Job 38:42:6

How did God convince Job of His surpassing knowledge and power?

What was Job’s response?