Tag Archives: god

Our Daily Bread – Our Daily Bread — From Bleak To Beautiful

Job 42:10-17

The LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. —Job 42:12

Spring is the time of year when God reminds us that things are not always as they seem. Over the course of a few short weeks, what appears hopelessly dead comes to life. Bleak woodlands are transformed into colorful landscapes. Trees whose naked arms reached to heaven all winter, as if pleading to be clothed, suddenly are adorned with lacy green gowns. Flowers that faded and fell to the ground in surrender to the cold rise slowly from the earth in defiance of death.

In Scripture, we read about some apparently hopeless situations. One example is that of a wealthy man named Job whom God described as having integrity (Job 2:3). Disaster struck and Job lost everything important to him. In misery, he said, “My days are . . . spent without hope” (7:6). What appeared to Job and his friends as evidence that God had turned against him was just the opposite. God was so confident of Job’s integrity that He trusted him in this battle with Satan. Later, Job’s hope and life were renewed.

The faithful arrival of spring every year comforts me when I’m in a situation that seems hopeless. With God, there is no such thing. No matter how bleak the landscape of life may look, God can transform it into a glorious garden of color and fragrance. —Julie Ackerman Link

Dear God, we pray for faith anew,

For greater trust in all we do,

For hope that never knows defeat,

For victory at Thy mercy seat. —Brandt

With God, there is hope even in the most hopeless situation.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Cries of the Heart

 

Some time ago my wife, Margie, returned from an errand visibly shaken by a heartrending conversation she had experienced. She was about the very simple task of selecting a picture and a frame when a dialogue began with the owner of the shop. When Margie said that she would like a scene with children in it the woman quite casually asked if the people for whom the picture was being purchased had any children of their own. “No,” replied my wife, “but that is not by their choice.” There was a momentary pause. Suddenly, like a hydrant uncorked, a question burst with unveiled hostility from the other woman’s lips: “Have you ever lost a child?” Margie was somewhat taken aback and immediately sensed that a terrible tragedy probably lurked behind the abrupt question.

The conversation had obviously taken an unsettling turn. But even at that she was not prepared for the flood of emotion and anger that was yet to follow, from this one who was still a stranger. The sorry tale quickly unfolded. The woman proceeded to speak of the two children she had lost, each loss carrying a heartache all its own. “Now,” she added, “I am standing by watching my sister as she is about to lose her child.” There was no masking of her bitterness and no hesitancy about where to ascribe the blame for these tragedies. Unable to utter anything that would alleviate the pain of this gaping wound in the woman’s heart, my wife began to say, “I am sorry,” when she was interrupted with a stern rebuke, “Don’t say anything!” She finally managed to be heard just long enough to say in parting, “I’ll be praying for you through this difficult time.” But even that brought a crisp rejoinder, “Don’t bother.”

Margie returned to her car and just wept out of shock and longing to reach out to this broken life. Even more, ever since that conversation she has carried with her an unshakable mental picture of a woman’s face whose every muscle contorted with anger and anguish—at once seeking a touch yet holding back, yearning for consolation but silencing anyone who sought to help, shoving at people along the way to get to God. Strangely, this episode spawned a friendship and we have had the wonderful privilege of getting close to her and of praying with her in our home. We have even felt her embrace of gratitude as she has tried in numerous ways to say, “Thank you.” But through this all she has represented to us a symbol of smothered cries, genuine and well thought through, and of a search for answers that need time before that anger is overcome by trust, and anguish gives way to contentment.

Of all the stories in the Scriptures, none so reflects those varied needs of humanity as the story of the woman at the well in her conversation with Jesus. In the fourth chapter of John’s Gospel we read of the encounter Jesus had with the Samaritan woman. The disciples had left him to get a little rest while they went into town to buy some food. When they returned they were astounded to see him talking to this Samaritan woman, but they were afraid to ask why he would talk to her or to question what prompted this curious familiarity.

The woman represented all that was oppressed or rejected in that society. She was a woman, not a man. She was a Samaritan burdened with ethnic rejection. She was discarded and broken from five different marriages. She identified God with a particular location, not having the faintest clue how to reach this God. Was it possible to have any less self-esteem than in her fragmented world? Jesus began his tender yet determined task to dislodge her from the well-doctored and cosmetically dressed-up theological jargon she threw at him, so that she could voice the real cry of her heart. Almost like peeling off the layers of an onion, he steadily moved her away from her own fears and prejudices, from her own schemes for self-preservation, from her own ploys for hiding her hurts, to the radiant and thrilling source of her greatest fulfillment, Christ himself. In short, he moved her from the abstract to the concrete, from the concrete to the proximate, from the proximate to the personal. She had come to find water for the thirst of her body. He fulfilled a greater thirst, that of her soul.

In the Psalms, David described himself as one wounded and crying in his bed at night. This same David spoke of the happiness that came when he took his cry to the Lord. With that same confidence, let us begin our journey toward a response to the cries of our hearts. We might be surprised to know how much bottled-up sentiment will be uncovered. When God speaks we will not respond by saying, “Don’t say a thing;” rather, we can rest in God’s comfort, knowing that God has bothered to hear our cries, to know our tragedies, and to come near in our need.

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

Alistair Begg – Follow Rahab’s Example

 

She tied the scarlet cord in the window.

Joshua 2:21

Rahab depended for her preservation upon the promise of the spies, whom she regarded as the representatives of the God of Israel. Her faith was simple and firm, but it was very obedient. To tie the scarlet cord in the window was a very trivial act in itself, but she dared not run the risk of omitting it.

Come, my soul, is there not here a lesson for you? Have you been attentive to all your Lord’s will, even though some of His commands should seem nonessential? Have you observed in His own way the two ordinances of believers’ baptism and the Lord’s Supper? To neglect these is to display the unloving disobedience in your heart. From now on be blameless in everything, even the tying of a thread, if that is what’s commanded.

This act of Rahab provides an even more solemn lesson. Have I implicitly trusted in the precious blood of Jesus? Have I tied the scarlet cord, with an intricate knot in my window, so that my trust can never be removed? Or can I look out toward the Dead Sea of my sins or the Jerusalem of my hopes without seeing the blood and seeing all things in connection with its blessed power?

The passer-by can see a cord of such a conspicuous color if it hangs from the window: It will be good for me if my life makes the efficacy of the atonement conspicuous to all onlookers. What is there to be ashamed of? Let men or devils gaze if they want, the blood is my boast and my song.

Charles Spurgeon – The Redeemer’s prayer

 

“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” John 17:24

Suggested Further Reading: Song of Solomon 5:1-8

When we get a glimpse of Christ, many step in to interfere. We have our hours of contemplation, when we draw near to Jesus, but alas! how the world steps in and interrupts even our most quiet moments—the shop, the field, the child, the wife, the head, perhaps the very heart, all these are interlopers between ourselves and Jesus. Christ loves quiet; he will not talk to our souls in the busy market place, but he says, “Come, my love, into the vineyard, get thee away into the villages, there will I show thee my love.” But when we go to the villages, behold the Philistine is there, the Canaanite has invaded the land. When we would be free from all thought except thought of Jesus, the wandering band of Bedouin thoughts come upon us, and they take away our treasures, and spoil our tents. We are like Abraham with his sacrifice; we lay out the pieces ready for the burning, but foul birds come to feast on the sacrifice which we desire to keep for our God and for him alone. We have to do as Abraham did; “When the birds came down upon the sacrifice, Abraham drove them away.” But in heaven there shall be no interruption, no weeping eyes shall make us for a moment pause in our vision; no earthly joys, no sensual delights, shall create a discord in our melody; there shall we have no fields to till, no garment to spin, no wearied limb, no dark distress, no burning thirst, no pangs of hunger, no weepings of bereavement; we shall have nothing to do or think upon, but for ever to gaze upon that Sun of righteousness, with eyes that cannot be blinded, and with a heart that can never be weary.

For meditation: We are never going to be free from outside distractions and wandering thoughts in this life, but we do need to seek to have some time each day when we can shut them out as far as possible and spend time alone with our heavenly Father (Matthew 6:6).

Sermon no. 188

18 April (1858)

John MacArthur – Entering the Kingdom

 

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8).

Religion comes in many forms. Almost every conceivable belief or behavior has been incorporated into some religious system at some point in time. But really there are only two kinds of religion: one says you can earn your way to heaven; the other says you must trust in Jesus Christ alone. One is the religion of human achievement; the other is the religion of divine accomplishment.

Those who rely on their achievements tend to compare themselves to others. But that’s a relative, self- justifying standard because you can always find someone worse than yourself to base the comparison on.

Jesus eliminated all human standards when He said, “You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). Even the Jewish religious leaders, who were generally thought to be the epitome of righteousness, didn’t qualify according to that standard. In fact, Jesus told the people that their righteousness had to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees if they wanted to enter heaven (Matt. 5:20). That must have shocked them, but Jesus wasn’t speaking of conformity to external religious ceremonies. He was calling for pure hearts.

God doesn’t compare you to liars, thieves, cheaters, child abusers, or murderers. He compares you to Himself. His absolute holy character is the standard by which He measures your suitability for heaven. Apart from Christ, everyone fails that standard because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). But the glorious truth of salvation is that Jesus Christ came to earth to purify our hearts. He took our sin upon Himself, paid its penalty, then bestowed His own righteousness upon us (Rom. 4:24). He keeps us pure by continually cleansing our sin and empowering us to do His will.

Your faith in Christ–not your personal achievements– is what makes you pure. Let that truth bring joy to your heart and praise to your lips!

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank the Lord for accomplishing salvation on your behalf and for granting you saving faith.

Pray that your thoughts and actions today will evidence a pure heart.

For Further Study:

Read Psalm 24:1-5 and Ezekiel 36:25-29.

Who is acceptable to God?

How does God purify the hearts of His people?

Joyce Meyer – Trust God

 

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. —Proverbs 3:5

The secret things belong unto the Lord our God, but the things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all of the words of this law. —Deuteronomy 29:29

I have heard many people say that reading the Bible is confusing. They say, “I have tried to read the Bible, but I don’t understand what God is saying, and I end up feeling frustrated and confused.”

In seeking God’s guidance regarding this situation, I sensed Him saying, People keep trying to figure out everything. Tell them to stop trying to reason and explain everything. As the above verses point out, we cannot always rely on our understanding. There are some things that we are not meant to know or understand.

Moses understood this concept, and he explained to the children of Israel that there are “secret things” known only to God. He pointed out that when God revealed His will—making things clear—those were the words they should obey.

It really is that simple. Like the psalmist, we can say, “Give me understanding, that I may keep Your law; yes, I will observe it with my whole heart (Psalm 119:34). We must ask God to show us what to do, and then we must not question it when He reveals it to us.

Too often people try to reason things out, but that can be dangerous. When we start trying to figure out why God says or does something, our first mistake is thinking we’re smart enough to understand the mind of God.

Reasoning can also move us in a particular direction that, although it may seem logical, may not be the will of God. A biblical account found in 1 Samuel is a good illustration of this point.

Saul, the first king of Israel, made a decision to offer sacrifices. As a part of the tribe of Benjamin, it was unlawful for him—even as the king—to offer sacrifices. The king and his army waited several days for Samuel, the high priest, to arrive. But eventually Saul grew impatient (or perhaps fearful) and offered sacrifices just before the holy man arrived. When Samuel rebuked Saul for doing such a thing, the king had what he believed to be a reasonable explanation: “I thought, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the Lord. So I forced myself to offer a burnt offering” (1 Samuel 13:12).

Samuel rebuked the king, told him he had acted foolishly, and said the Lord was going to strip him of the kingdom.

That was Saul’s mistake. He reasoned that it would be wise to sacrifice, and he didn’t wait to hear from God.

The human mind likes logic, order, and reason. We like to deal with issues we can wrap our understanding around and come up with solutions that make sense to us. We have a tendency to think small because we are limited creatures, and we don’t have the perspective to understand from God’s point of view. We tend to put things in tiny, neat compartments in our minds, telling ourselves this must be right because it fits nicely there.

By contrast, we read the words of the apostle Paul: “I am speaking the truth in Christ. I am not lying; my conscience [enlightened and prompted] by the Holy Spirit bearing witness with me” (Romans 9:1). He was making the point that he was doing the right thing—not because he had figured it out or analyzed the situation, but because his actions bore witness in his spirit.

That’s the attitude you need in your life. You need to depend on God to show you things in such a way that you know—with an inner certainty—that what has been revealed to your mind is correct. You must not allow yourself to reason with your mind, searching for logical solutions. Instead, you must say, “My trust is in the Lord, and whatever He tells me to do, I will obey.”

Dear God, thank You for loving me more than I can even comprehend. In the name of Jesus Christ, I ask You to help me love and honor You so much that when You speak, I will have only one thought in my mind, and that is to obey. Amen.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Source of Joy

 

“So you became our followers and the Lord’s; for you received our message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the trials and sorrows it brought you” (1 Thessalonians 1:6).

Mary was so radiant it was as though she had swallowed a light bulb. Wherever she went, there was the radiance of the Lord’s presence about her. She literally bubbled over with joy, and whenever she talked about the Lord her words came so quickly they practically tumbled over each other. She was an exciting, contagious person to be around, and many nonbelievers inquired of her, “Why are you so happy? What makes you so different?”

To which, of course, she would always respond by telling them about our wonderful Lord and how He had filled her heart with His joy.

The verse for today clearly indicates that joy comes from the Holy Spirit, who came into this world to glorify Christ. We are told in Galatians also that the fruit of the Spirit is joy, among other things.

When we are filled with the Spirit and thus growing in the fruit of the Spirit – which includes joy – then we will express that joy by singing and making melody in our hearts to the Lord. A happy heart inevitably will be reflected in a joyful countenance.

“I presume everybody has known someone whose life was just radiant,” R. A. Torrey said. “Joy beamed out of their eyes; joy bubbled over their lips; joy seemed to fairly run from their fingertips. The gladdest thing on earth is to have a real God.”

 

In the words of an unknown poet:

“If you live close to God and His infinite grace,

You don’t have to tell; it shows on your face.”

Bible Reading: Nehemiah 8:9-12

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will not expect to find joy in things, or even in other people primarily, but rather in the source of all joy – God’s Holy Spirit. With His help, I will share His supernatural joy wherever I go.

Presidential Prayer Team; J.R. – Continual Quality

 

Leona Helmsley was a spectacularly successful businesswoman and hotelier. When she died, however, that’s not how she was eulogized. Legions of former employees remembered how she had treated them ruthlessly, berated them endlessly with vile profanities, acted vindictively and fired them unfairly. Dubbed the “Queen of Mean” by the media, Helmsley’s empire had begun to collapse before her death when she was convicted of tax fraud. The government had no trouble finding witnesses…people practically lined up to testify against her.

What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness. Micah 6:8

Kindness is a rare quality in America today. This is sad – but also a great opportunity. When you act justly and show kindness to those around you, your testimony will shine and afford you openings to show others the source of your compassion. It’s okay, too, for acts of kindness to be random, but they should also be continual.

Today, pray for – and look for – ways to help others. Perhaps God will use you to spark a fire that will forever change your neighborhood and your nation! Intercede, too, for your leaders and submit to their authority, letting your goodness show in a way the best honors the Lord.

Recommended Reading: Hebrews 13:1-3, 15-21

Greg Laurie – A Righteous Judge

 

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. —Psalm 19:9

When it comes to God’s judgment, sometimes people will say they believe in a God who is not judgmental. That sounds good, but here is what they are really saying: “I believe in a God who doesn’t care about right and wrong.” To put it more bluntly, they are saying they believe in a God they just made up in their heads.

If God really is loving, then God also will be just. That is what the Bible tells us. The love of God makes Him a righteous judge. Know this: No one will be in heaven who deserves to be there. Nor will there be anyone in hell who does not deserve to be there. No one will be in heaven who went there unwillingly. And no one will be in hell who didn’t go there willingly.

God won’t force anyone to go to heaven. He won’t say, “Get up to heaven right now!” You don’t have to go if you don’t want to. On the other hand, no one will be in hell who did not go there willingly.

I like the way J. I. Packer summed it up: “Scripture sees hell as self-chosen. . . . Hell appears as God’s gesture of respect for human choice. All receive what they actually chose. Either to be with God forever, worshipping Him, or without God forever, worshipping themselves.”

How could a God of love send people to hell? He doesn’t. He won’t. If you end up in hell, then you went there willingly because you rejected His offer of forgiveness. You rejected Jesus Christ and all that He did for you. But if you ask God to forgive you of your sin, He will remove it from you and give you a change, a transformation in your life. You will be born again.

Max Lucado – Dealing with Debt

 

Doesn’t someone owe you an apology?  A second chance?  An explanation? A thank you?  A childhood?  A marriage?  Your parents should have been more protective. Your children should have been more appreciative. Your spouse should be more sensitive. What are you going to do?  Few questions are more important.

Dealing with debt is at the heart of your happiness. Jesus speaks of the grace we should share.  He says: “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” (Matthew 6:14).

It reminds me of the story of a huge grizzly bear in the center of Yellowstone Park feeding on discarded camp food.  No one dared draw near. Except a skunk who walked toward the food and took his place next to the grizzly.  The bear didn’t object.  He knew the high cost of getting even! We’d be wise to learn the same thing.

Charles Stanley – Prayer: A Great Privilege

Charles Stanley

1 John 5:14-15

One question reverberates through the heart of nearly all Christians at some point in their faith walk: If God knows everything about me, why do I need to pray to have my needs met? The Lord has specific reasons for not using His omnipotence to respond to certain desires and hurts unless we share those things with Him.

God encourages us to pray in order to build an intimate personal relationship between Himself and us. He is interested in much more than meeting our needs; He also wants to become our source of strength in every trial. We know from experience that developing any friendship takes a commitment of time. Quick three-minute prayers—though valuable and important for maintaining continuous “fragrant incense” before God—are not enough to sustain a personal connection with our Father.

James 1:17 says, “Every good gift . . . is from above” (niv). The Lord wants us to acknowledge Him as the source of all our blessings. Directing our prayers toward God and trusting that they will be answered in His will and timing strengthens our awareness that without Him, we can achieve nothing. In the Christian life, our dependence upon God grows in direct proportion to our spiritual maturity. Such a concept runs contrary to our nature and culture, which prizes independence above all else.

We are privileged to belong to a God who desires a Father-child relationship with us. He could certainly meet our needs without a single word from us, but then we would never know the wonder of asking and receiving in love.

Our Daily Bread – Our Daily Bread — Cape Tribulation

 

James 1:1-8

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. —James 1:2-3

On June 10, 1770, British navigator James Cook’s ship hit a reef off the northeast coast of Australia. He sailed the ship out into deeper water only to hit the reef again, and this time the collision almost sank the ship. This experience moved Cook to write in the ship’s log: “The north point [was named] Cape Tribulation because here began all our troubles.”

Many of us have experienced a trial that has seemed to trigger a string of other trials. The loss of a job, the death of a loved one, an unwanted divorce, or a decline in health could all be part of the list.

Even though a crisis may seem to be our “Cape Tribulation,” God is still sovereign and He most certainly is in control. It is His purpose to use tribulation to build resilience into us. James writes: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1:2-3). The word translated “patience” means to have staying power or the ability to endure.

In the midst of your life-changing trial, remember that God is still at work. He wants to use your “Cape Tribulation” experience to build your character. He has promised His grace to see you through (2 Cor. 12:9). —Dennis Fisher

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,

He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;

To added affliction He addeth His mercy,

To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

—Annie Johnson Flint. © Renewal 1969. Lillenas Publishing

Faith grows best in the winter of trial. —Rutherford

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Ancient Wisdom for Good Living

 

“What is the good life?” is a question as old as philosophy itself. In fact, it is the question that birthed philosophy as we know it.(1) Posed by ancient Greek thinkers and incorporated into the thought of Socrates through Plato, and then Aristotle, this question gets at the heart of human meaning and purpose. Why are we here, and since we are here, what are we to be doing? What is our meaning and purpose?

Out of the early Greek quest for the answer emerged two schools of thought. From Plato emerged rationalism: the good life consists of ascertaining unchanging ideals—justice, truth, goodness, beauty—those “forms” found in the ideal world. From Aristotle emerged empiricism: the good life consists of ascertaining knowledge through experience—what we can perceive of this world through our senses.(2)

For both Aristotle and Plato, rational thought used in contemplation of ideas is the substance of the good life. Despite the obvious emphasis by both on goodness emerging from the contemplative life of the mind (even though they disagreed on the source of rationality) both philosophers saw the good life as impacting and benefiting society. For Plato, society must emulate justice, truth, goodness, and beauty, so he constructs an ideal society. For Aristotle, virtue lived out in society is the substance of the good life, and well-being arises from well-doing.

Not long ago, I conducted an internet search on the tag “What is the good life?” and I was amazed at what came up as the top results of my search. Most of the entries involved shopping or consumption of one variety or another. Some entries were on locations to live, and still others involved self-help books or other media aimed at helping one construct a good life. Others were the names of stores selling goods to promote “the good life.” There were no immediate entries on Plato, Aristotle, or the philosophical quest that they helped inaugurate. There were no results on wisdom or the quest for knowledge lived out in a virtuous life. Instead, most of the entries involved material pursuits and gains. Sadly, this reflects our modern definition of what is good.

Perhaps, what are for many individuals still very trying economic times, it is difficult not to equate material items with the good life, more money, more security, or more opportunity. While it has always been said of every generation that these are times of great crisis and upheaval, we feel this search for meaning anew and afresh today, and perhaps wonder at the practicality or wisdom of looking to the past for insight or understanding into the good life.

And yet, the ancients remind us that “not even when one has an abundance does one’s life consist of possessions” (Luke 12:15). Abundant or meager as they may be, possessions must not make up the substance of one’s life. Instead, their proper use necessarily involves right living in community. Perhaps the ancient Hebraic wisdom is particularly instructive in a time in which we might equate goodness with what we possess. “He has told you, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8) This vision of the good life, cast not when times were good, but during a time when calamity and exile awaited the nation of Israel offers an alternative understanding. Do justice, love kindness, and live out both of those virtues in light of humility before God; this is what is good and is the ground of the good life.

The wisdom of the ancients, from the Greeks and the Hebrews, suggests that the good life can be attained regardless of circumstance or possession. It shimmers in the wisdom of justice and kindness. It is found in the application of knowledge rightly applied in relationship to the world around us. It shines in humility before the God who is good, and is part and parcel of a relationship with that God. The good life is not bought or sold; it is not a prime real estate location, or a formula for success. The good life is our life offered to God and to others in justice, kindness, and humility.

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

(1) A.L. Herman, The Ways of Philosophy: Searching for a Worthwhile Life (Scholars Press: Atlanta, 1990), 1.

(2) Ibid, 82.

Alistair Begg – Precious Blood!

 

The precious blood of Christ.

1 Peter 1:19

Standing at the foot of the cross, we see hands and feet and side all distilling crimson streams of “precious blood.” It is “precious” because of its redeeming and atoning efficacy. By it the sins of Christ’s people are atoned for; they are redeemed from under the law; they are reconciled to God, made one with Him.

Christ’s blood is also “precious” in its cleansing power; it cleanses from all sin. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” Through Jesus’ blood there is not a spot left upon any believer; no wrinkle nor any such thing remains. O precious blood that makes us clean, removing the stains of our iniquity and permitting us to stand accepted in the Beloved despite the many ways in which we have rebelled against our God.

The blood of Christ is also “precious” in its preserving power. We are safe from the destroying angel under the sprinkled blood. Remember, it is God’s seeing the blood that is the true reason for our being spared. Here is comfort for us when the eye of faith is dim, for God’s eye is still the same. The blood of Christ is “precious” also in its sanctifying influence.

The same blood that justifies by taking away sin also quickens the new nature and leads it onward to subdue sin and to obey the commands of God. There is no greater motive for holiness than that which streams from the veins of Jesus. And “precious,” unspeakably precious, is this blood because it has an overcoming power. It is written, “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb.” How could they do otherwise? He who fights with the precious blood of Jesus fights with a weapon that cannot know defeat.

The blood of Jesus! Sin dies at its presence; death ceases to be death: Heaven’s gates are opened. The blood of Jesus! We shall march on, conquering and to conquer, so long as we can trust its power!

Charles Spurgeon – Christ—our substitute

 

“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

Suggested Further Reading: Isaiah 53:10-12

In no sense is he ever a guilty man, but always is he an accepted and a holy one. What, then, is the meaning of that very forcible expression of my text? We must interpret Scriptural modes of expression by the words of the speakers. We know that our Master once said himself, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood;” he did not mean that the cup was the covenant. He said, “Take, eat, this is my body”—none of us conceives that the bread is the literal flesh and blood of Christ. We take that bread as if it were the body, and it actually represents it. Now, we are to read a passage like this, according to the analogy of faith. Jesus Christ was made by his Father sin for us, that is, he was treated as if he had himself been sin. He was not sin; he was not sinful; he was not guilty; but, he was treated by his Father, as if he had not only been sinful, but as if he had been sin itself. That is a strong expression used here. Not only has he made him to be the substitute for sin, but to be sin. God looked on Christ as if Christ had been sin; not as if he had taken up the sins of his people, or as if they were laid on him, though that were true, but as if he himself had positively been that noxious—that God-hating—that soul-damning thing, called sin. When the judge of all the earth said, “Where is sin?” Christ presented himself. He stood before his Father as if he had been the accumulation of all human guilt; as if he himself were that thing which God cannot endure, but which he must drive from his presence for ever.

For meditation: God regarded Christ crucified just as if he were sin, not Son. The substitutionary atonement is the key which enables the Christian to make use of the description “Just as if I’d never sinned.”

Sermon no. 310

16 April (Preached 15 April 1860)

John MacArthur – Commended or Condemned?

 

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matt. 5:7).

Scripture shows that those whom God blessed most abundantly were abundantly merciful to others. Abraham, for example, helped rescue his nephew Lot even after Lot had wronged him. Joseph was merciful to his brothers after they sold him into slavery. Twice David spared Saul’s life after Saul tried to kill him.

But just as sure as God’s commendation is upon those who show mercy, His condemnation is upon those who are merciless. Psalm 109:14-16 says, “Let the iniquity of [the merciless person’s] fathers be remembered before the Lord, and do not let the sin of his mother be blotted out . . . because he did not remember to show [mercy].”

When judgment comes, the Lord will tell such people, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me” (Matt. 25:41-43). They will respond, “Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?” (v. 44). He will reply that when they withheld mercy from those who represented Him, they were withholding it from Him (v. 45).

Our society encourages us to grab everything we can for ourselves, but God wants us to reach out and give everything we can to others. If someone wrongs you, fails to repay a debt, or doesn’t return something he has borrowed from you, be merciful to him. That doesn’t mean you excuse sin, but you respond to people with a heart of compassion. That’s what Christ did for you–can you do any less for others?

Suggestions for Prayer:

If there is someone who has wronged you, pray for that person, asking God to give you a heart of compassion for him or her. Make every effort to reconcile as soon as possible.

For Further Study:

Read Romans 1:29-31. How did Paul characterize the ungodly?

Joyce Meyer – Be a Blessing

 

You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You. —Isaiah 26:3

Galatians 6:10 says, “Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith.” Second Corinthians 10:5 speaks of casting down imaginations and every high and lofty thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. In other words, keep (set) your mind on God’s promises and on what is relevant to His plan for your life.

Don’t let your mind be taken captive by the enemy. Instead, “lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ.” Decide to be a blessing to everyone you meet today. Forgive anyone who has hurt you, and leave unresolved circumstances in God’s hands. Don’t use today to relive yesterday. Say, “I am moving forward today, in Jesus’ name.”

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – A Healthy, Growing Body

 

“Instead, we will lovingly follow the truth at all times – speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly – and so become more and more in every way like Christ who is the Head of His body, the church. Under His direction the whole body is fitted together perfectly, and each part in its own special way helps the other parts, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love” (Ephesians 4:15-16).

I am concerned, as you no doubt are, that God’s ideal church, in which the whole body is fitted together perfectly, becomes a reality. And if that is to happen, it will mean that I must become a part of that perfect fit.

Within the body of Christ, each of us has a unique function. True, two people might have similar functions just as a body has two hands that function similarly. But those two hands are not identical. Just try to wear a lefthand glove on your right hand!

The hands have similar functions, not identical functions. You and I might have similar abilities, but we are not identical. We are unique creations of God.

Therefore, we should not look upon our abilities with pride or be boastful of them. On the other hand, we should not be envious or look with disdain on others because of their different abilities.

Spiritual gifts include (1 Corinthians 12): wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues, apostleship, teaching, helping, and administration; (Romans 12, additional): leadership, exhortation, giving and mercy.

Bible Reading: Ephesians 4:7-14

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  So that I might fit more perfectly into God’s whole body, I will prayerfully seek the leadership of the Holy Spirit to enable me to make a maximum contribution to the body of Christ.

Presidential Prayer Team; P.G. – Prayer Bumps

 

You’re smoothly motoring along, being only moderately attentive, enjoying the beauty of the drive, when you hit it – a speed bump. You’re momentarily jarred by the impact, and your forward motion is impeded. You pay more attention as you proceed.

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling.

I Timothy 2:8

Sometimes the Christian life is like that. You’re enjoying the beauty of time spent with the Lord in prayer, feel you’re moving forward in your relationships with Him and other people, and then along comes an unexpected spiritual prayer bump. Two of them are posted in today’s verse: anger and quarreling.

You have a choice to make. You can keep going as you were, allowing your spiritual life to slow down, maybe even come to an abrupt stop. Or you can pay more attention to your relationships with God and others, adjusting as you journey on. Confess to the Father what impedes you. Then work to smooth the road with the person you’ve quarreled with or held anger toward. Putting it off only guarantees more prayer bumps ahead.

Intercede, too, for those in positions of authority whose roads are bumpy from political anger and partisan quarreling. They, too, need the hope of a smoother road ahead in Christ Jesus.

Recommended Reading: I Timothy 2:1-8

Greg Laurie – Why Does God Judge?

 

“But you are pure and cannot stand the sight of evil. Will you wink at their treachery? Should you be silent while the wicked swallow up people more righteous than they?” —Habakkuk 1:13

Why must God judge people? Answer: because He is righteous and holy. We see this repeated again and again in Scripture. In Revelation 4:8, we read about angelic beings coming before the Lord, not resting day or night, and repeating over and over again, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty—the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come.”

Notice they don’t say, “Faithful, faithful, faithful” or “Eternal, eternal, eternal,” though He is all of those things. Instead, they emphasize God’s holiness. And because God is holy, He cannot look at sin (see Habakkuk 1:13).

And although God’s judgment is a horrible thing, there are still some positive aspects to it.

It frightens us. And guess what? It is supposed to. When we see what happens to others who disregard what God’s Word says, it should cause us to think twice about what we are about to do.

It sobers us. It forces us to reassess the way we have been living our lives and hopefully change our priorities. As C. S. Lewis pointed out, pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.

It humbles us. God’s judgment strips away our self-righteousness and reminds us about how sinful we are. It reminds us that we are not really in control of our lives and how we really need God.

It reassures us. The fact that there will be a final judgment reassures us there is justice in the universe. We all know of wicked people in the world who deserve judgment. The Bible says there is a final court of arbitration, and God keeps meticulous records of everything that happens in this world. The wicked will be held accountable for what they have done. And it is reassuring to know there ultimately will be justice.