Tag Archives: holy spirit

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Only Human

 

The recognition of one’s humanity can be an uncomfortable pill to swallow. Life’s fragility, life’s impermanence, life’s intertwinement with imperfection and disappointment—bitter medicines are easier to accept. The Romantic poets called it “the burden of full consciousness.” To look closely at humanity can indeed be a realization of dread and despair.

For poet Philip Larkin, to look closely at humanity was to peer into the absurdity of the human existence. Whatever frenetic, cosmic accident that brought about a species so endowed with consciousness, the sting of mortality, incessant fears of failure, and sieges of shame, doubt, and selfishness was, for Larkin, a bitter irony. In a poem titled “The Building,” he describes the human condition as it is revealed in the rooms of a hospital, where one finds “Humans, caught/On ground curiously neutral, homes and names/Suddenly in abeyance; some are young,/ Some old, but most at that vague age that claims/The end of choice, the last of hope; and all/ Here to confess that something has gone wrong./ It must be error of a serious sort,/ For see how many floors it needs, how tall…”

With or without Larkin’s sense of dread, the confession that “something has gone wrong” is often synonymous with the acknowledgment of humanity. “I’m only human,” is a phrase meant to evoke leniency with shortcoming, while “human” itself in Webster’s dictionary is an adjective for imperfection, weakness, and fragility. Nonetheless, there are some religions that stand diametrically opposed to this idea, seeing humanity with limitless potential, humans as pure, the human spirit as divine. In a vein not unlike Larkin’s agnostic dread, the self-deemed new atheists see the cruel realities of time and chance as reason in and of itself to dismiss the rose-colored lenses of God and religion. Yet quite unlike Larkin’s concluding outlook of meaninglessness and despair, they (inexplicably) suggest a rose-colored view of humanity. Still others emphasize the depravity of humanity to such a leveling degree that no person can stand up under the burden of guilt and disgust.

In deep contrast to such severe or optimistic readings, the Christian view of humanity adds a nuanced dimension to the conversation. Christianity admits that while there is indeed an error of a serious sort, the error is not in “humanness” itself. Rather, something has gone wrong. Thus, in our humanity we find the paradox of a deep and sacred honor at our humanity and a profound and shameful recognition that we cannot access it. Yet our inherent recognition of imperfection is simultaneously an inherent admission that there is indeed such a thing as perfection. The Christian’s advantage, then, is not that they find themselves less fallen and closer to said perfection than others, nor that they find in their religion a means of escaping the world of fragility, brokenness, guilt, and error; the Christian’s advantage is that they are aware of their own broken humanity in a fallen world because they are aware of the perfect human.

“[H]umanity’s mystery,” as one writer expounds, “can be explained only in the mystery of the God who became human. If people want to look into their own mystery—the meaning of their pain, of their work, of their suffering, of their hope—let them put themselves next to Christ. If they accomplish what Christ accomplished—doing the Father’s will, filling themselves with the life that Christ gives the world—they are fulfilling themselves as true human beings. If I find, on comparing myself with Christ, that my life is a contrast, the opposite of his, then my life is a disaster. I cannot explain that mystery except by returning to Christ, who gives authentic features to a person who wants to be genuinely human.”(1)

The author of these words was well acquainted with the mysterious paradox of humanness and the God who became human to call the world to authentic humanity. Oscar Romero was a Salvadoran priest who saw the very worst and the weakest of humanity in the corruption, violence, and suffering of a country at war within itself. A witness to ongoing violations of human rights, Romero spoke out on behalf of the poor and the victimized. In both the abused and the abusers, he saw the image of God, glimpses of Christ, and the dire need for his true humanity. Romero was assassinated in the middle of a church service; fittingly, he was holding up the broken bread of communion, the sign of Christ’s human body, when he died.

In a world with reason to be despairing of humanity, there is still the jarring image of the perfect human, whose only brokenness was at our own hands. Christ is more than someone who came to fix what was wrong. He is the image of all that is right.

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

Alistair Begg – Wisdom in War

 

But every one of the Israelites went down to the Philistines to sharpen his plowshare, his mattock, his axe or his sickle.   1 Samuel 13:20

 We are engaged in a great war with the Philistines of evil. Every weapon within our reach must be used. Preaching, teaching, praying, giving–all must be brought into action, and talents that have been thought too mean for service must now be employed.

These various tools may all be useful in slaying Philistines; rough tools may deal hard blows, and killing need not be elegantly done, so long as it is done effectually. Each moment of time, in season or out of season; each fragment of ability, educated or untutored; each opportunity, favorable or unfavorable, must be used, for our foes are many and our force but slender.

Most of our tools need sharpening; we need quickness of perception, tact, energy, promptness–in a word, complete adaptation–for the Lord’s work. Practical common sense is a very scarce thing among the conductors of Christian enterprises. We might learn from our enemies if we would, and so make the Philistines sharpen our weapons. This morning let us note enough to sharpen our zeal during this day by the aid of the Holy Spirit.

Witness the energy of some, how they travel over sea and land to make one proselyte–are they to monopolize all the earnestness? Consider what tortures some endure in the service of their idols! Are they alone to exhibit patience and self-sacrifice? Observe the prince of darkness, how persevering in his endeavors, how unabashed in his attempts, how daring in his plans, how thoughtful in his plots, how energetic in all!

The devils are united as one man in their infamous rebellion, while we believers in Jesus are divided in our service of God and scarcely ever work with unanimity. O that from Satan’s infernal industry we may learn to go about like good Samaritans, seeking whom we may bless!

Today’s Bible Reading

The family reading plan for March 2, 2015
* Exodus 13
Luke 16

Devotional material is taken from “Morning and Evening,” written by C.H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg.

Charles Spurgeon – The allegories of Sarah and Hagar

 

“These are the two covenants.” Galatians 4:24

Suggested Further Reading: Galatians 3:19-24

Hagar was not intended to be a wife; she never ought to have been anything but a hand-maid to Sarah. The law was never intended to save men: it was only designed to be a hand-maid to the covenant of grace. When God delivered the law on Sinai, it was apart from his ideas that any man would ever be saved by it; he never conceived that men would attain perfection thereby. But you know that the law is a wondrous handmaid to grace. Who brought us to the Saviour? Was it not the law thundering in our ears? We should never have come to Christ if the law had not driven us there; we should never have known sin if the law had not revealed it. The law is Sarah’s handmaid to sweep our hearts, and make the dust fly so that we may cry for blood to be sprinkled so that the dust may be laid. The law is, so to speak, Jesus Christ’s dog, to go after his sheep, and bring them to the shepherd; the law is the thunderbolt which frightens ungodly men, and makes them turn from the error of their ways, and seek after God. Ah! if we know rightly how to use the law, if we understand how to put her in her proper place, and make her obedient to her mistress, then all will be well. But this Hagar will always be wishing to be mistress, as well as Sarah; and Sarah will never allow that, but will be sure to treat her harshly, and drive her out. We must do the same; and let none murmur at us, if we treat the Hagarenes harshly in these days—if we sometimes speak hard things against those who are trusting in the works of the law.

For meditation: God’s law will never have the power to save us (Romans 8:3); but thank God that it points us to a Man who can.

Sermon no. 69
2 March (1856)

John MacArthur –Unlimited Prayer

 

“Men ought always to pray” (Luke 18:1, KJV).

Prayer should never be limited to certain times, places, or circumstances.

As a child I was taught to pray with my head bowed, eyes closed, and hands folded. Even as a young man I thought that was the only acceptable mode of prayer.

In my seminary days I sang in a quartet that traveled to various churches throughout the United States. The first time I traveled with them we had a prayer meeting in the car, and the driver prayed with his eyes open. All of us were glad he did, but I wondered if God really heard his prayer.

I have since learned that praying with my eyes closed is a helpful way to avoid distractions, but it isn’t mandated in Scripture—nor are most of the other limitations people often place on prayer. For example, some people want to limit prayer to a certain posture, but Scripture tells of people praying while standing, sitting, kneeling, looking upward, bowing down, and lifting up their hands.

Some try to limit prayer to certain times of the day, such as morning or evening. But in the Bible people prayed at all times: morning, evening, three times a day, before meals, after meals, at bedtime, at midnight, day and night, in their youth, in their old age, when troubled, and when joyous.

Similarly, Scripture places no limits on the place or circumstances of prayer. It tells of people praying in a cave, in a closet, in a garden, on a mountainside, by a river, by the sea, in the street, in the Temple, in bed, at home, in the stomach of a fish, in battle, on a housetop, in a prison, in the wilderness, and on a cross.

The point is clear: there is no specific correct mode or kind of prayer, and prayer isn’t limited by your location or circumstances. You are to pray always. That includes any kind of prayer, on any subject, and at any time of the day or night.

Suggestions for Prayer;  Make a list of your current plans, thoughts, and concerns. Have you made each of them a matter of prayer? Commit yourself to sharing every aspect of your life with God.

For Further Study; Read Psalm 136. Note how the Lord is intimately involved in the lives of His people.

Joyce Meyer – Testing the Motive of the Heart

 

After these events, God tested and proved Abraham and said to him, Abraham! And he said, Here I am. [God] said, Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I will tell you. So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and his son Isaac; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and then began the trip to the place of which God had told him.

– Genesis 22:1-3

I believe God was testing Abraham’s priorities. Isaac had probably become very important to Abraham, so God tested Abraham to see if he would give up Isaac to Him in faith and obedience. When God saw Abraham’s willingness to obey, He provided a ram for Abraham to sacrifice in place of Isaac.

Remember, we all go through tests. As with Abraham, these tests are designed to try, prove, and develop our faith. One of the tests I had to face was, “What if I never have the ministry I’ve dreamed about for so long? What if I never get to minister to more than fifty people at a time? Can I still love God and be happy?”

What about you? If you don’t get whatever it is you want, can you still love God? Will you still serve Him all the days of your life? Or are you just trying to get something from Him? A fine line divides the motives of the heart between selfish and selfless; and we must always make sure we understand which side of the line we are standing on.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The Only Way

 

“Jesus told him, ‘I am the Way – yes, and the Truth and the life. No one can get to the Father except by means of Me'” (John 14:6).

Dr. Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision, was conducting a great city-wide campaign in Tokyo and asked me to be in charge of the student phase of the crusade. So day after day, for more than a month, I spoke to thousands of students on many campuses, presenting the claims of Christ and challenging the students to receive Him as their Savior and Lord.

Many thousands responded, but occasionally a student would object and say that Jesus had no relevance for the Japanese – that Christianity is for the Westerner, not for the Asian. They were surprised when I reminded them that Jesus was born and reared in and carried out His ministry in the Middle East and that He was in many ways closer to them culturally and geographically that He was to me.

I reminded them, and I want to remind you, that though the Lord Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem and grew up in Nazareth, in what is now Israel, He came to this world to die for all people in all lands.

The Scripture reminds us, “Whosoever will may come.” In addition to coming to Him for salvation, Christians have the privilege of coming to God the Father a thousand times, and more, each day in prayer in the name of Jesus. This is because He is our mediator, unlike anyone else who has ever lived – Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius. No other religious leader died for us and was raised from the dead.

Jesus alone can bridge the great chasm between the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man, because He personally has paid the penalty for our sins. God proved His love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still in our sins.

Bible Reading: John 14:1-5

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will ask the Holy Spirit to examine my heart to see if there be any wicked way in me, so that I can confess and turn from my sin. I will visualize our mediator – the Lord Jesus Christ – seated at the right hand of God making intercession for me. I will also ask the Lord to lead me today to someone who does not yet know our Savior, that I may share with him or her the most joyful news ever announced.

Presidential Prayer Team; J.K.- If…Then

 

Edmund Burke, orator, author and leader in Great Britain during the time of the Revolutionary War, wrote: “What is liberty without wisdom and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without restraint.” Wisdom is the critical concept. Only when your life is directly in line with God’s viewpoint – when you apply His perspective to your life – can you become wise.

For wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.

Proverbs 2:10

Striving to satisfy your passions and desires without regard to their consequences is a dangerous way to live, both physically and spiritually. The Lord created you with a need for – and the capability of – knowing and understanding Him. If you receive His words…if you hold His truth in your memory…if you search Scripture and ask the Holy Spirit to apply what you have read to what you are experiencing…then wisdom will come into your heart, discretion will watch over you, and understanding will guard you, delivering you from evil (Proverbs 2:1-12).

Let your prayers give life and energy to your study of His Word. Join with others in intercession for America’s leaders, that they might know the true God and be led by His sound wisdom.

Recommended Reading: Psalm 25:4-14

Greg Laurie – A Continual Feast

 

All the days of the afflicted are evil, But he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast. —Proverbs 15:15

The Bible promises a cheerful heart to the follower of Jesus Christ. Proverbs 15:15 says that “a merry heart has a continual feast,” and Psalm 16:11 tells us that “in [His] presence is fullness of joy; at [His] right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Yet some believers walk around and act as though they’ve been baptized in lemon juice. They are always down about something. Yet the apostle Paul, in the worst circumstances imaginable, said, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). He was effectively saying, “Look, if I can rejoice where I am, then you definitely can rejoice where you are.”

Anyone can rejoice when things are going reasonably well. But when you are facing adversity or hardship or sickness, and you still rejoice, then you are obeying God.

Consider the words of Habakkuk 3:17–18: “Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk didn’t say he would rejoice in his circumstances; he said he would rejoice in the Lord.

That is like saying, “Even when the car has been repossessed, there are unpaid bills piled up on the kitchen counter, and everyone in the family is sick, I’m still going to rejoice in the Lord.”

God is still on the throne. God still loves us. And God has promised that He can work all things together for good to those who love Him. He has also promised that He will never leave or forsake us. So we can rejoice.

Max Lucado – We Have a Problem

 

Can you live without sin for one day? No? How about one hour? Can you do it?  No…nor can I. And if we can’t live without sin, we have a problem. Proverbs 10:16 says that we are evil and “evil people are paid with punishment.” What can we do? Observe what Jesus does with our filth. He carries it to the Cross.

God speaks in Isaiah 50:6, “I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.” Mingled with His blood and sweat was the essence of our sin. Angels were a prayer away. Couldn’t they have taken the spittle away?  They could have, but Jesus never commanded them to. The One who chose the nails also chose the saliva. Why?  The sinless One took on the face of a sinner, so that we sinners could take on the face of a saint!

From He Chose the Nails

Charles Stanley – Choosing to Pursue Wisdom

 

Do you ever find yourself stunned by the circumstances of your life? Perhaps you’ve been genuinely surprised by the negative consequences you experience as the result of unwise decisions. When things go wrong, it’s common to wonder, What happened? and What did I do to deserve this?

Many times, people don’t ask the Lord to reveal wisdom on a matter before they act. Or they fail to take positive, precautionary measures. Still others choose to associate with individuals who are an influence for evil rather than good.

Foolish choices often lead to a snowballing effect of worsening circumstances. One bad decision leads to another, and the end result is costly. The sad news is that we suffer the consequences of our unwise actions whether we recognize our foolishness or not.

The apostle Paul wrote this challenge to the Ephesians:

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is (Eph. 5:15-17).

In these two verses, God makes three things clear:

We must choose to pursue wisdom. It’s up to each of us to determine how we will walk through this life. Wisdom is not something a person stumbles into or acquires automatically. It must be sought out and pursued.

We must seek God’s plan. The person who walks in wisdom is aware of how he affects the world and how the world affects him. He recognizes that every person faces three enemies in life: the world system, the Devil, and the flesh. He seeks to know God’s plans and purpose—not only for his personal life, but also for every situation involving the people around him.

Those who love and search for wisdom have God’s promise that they will find it. Personified as a woman in the book of Proverbs, Wisdom says, “I love those who love me; and those who diligently seek me will find me” (8:17). Jesus affirmed Solomon’s counsel when He said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matt. 7:7-8).

We must take responsibility for applying wisdom to our lives. The person who walks in wisdom feels a responsibility for his actions and use of time. He knows that he has been given a limited quantity of minutes, hours, days, months, and years. He is aware that that those hours must be spent in a way that produces the largest amount of good. God has entrusted him with certain resources that must be used to further His kingdom.

The Christian who walks wisely is acutely aware of the Enemy of his soul who seeks to ensnare him through temptations and enslave him through the world’s system. He lives with soberness and caution, saying “no” to anything that undermines God’s will.

Wisdom is something we choose to live out, not a vague entity. It is related to the concrete, material world and is applicable to every life circumstance.

God calls us to be wise in every decision of our lives. We need His wisdom in our business dealings, health choices, relationships, parenting, finances, and our walks with Him. No area of life is beyond need, ignored by God’s Word, or off-limits to His wisdom.

Not everyone can become famous, wealthy, or educated. But the good news is, anyone can become wise. No matter who you are or where you live, you can reverence God, receive Jesus Christ as Savior, and submit your life to the Lord on a daily basis. Will you accept God’s challenge to become wise and walk in His wisdom daily?

Adapted from “Walking Wisely” by Charles F. Stanley, 2002.

Our Daily Bread – Learn The Cost

 

 

 

You were bought at a price. —1 Corinthians 6:20

 

Read: 1 Peter 1:17-21
Bible in a Year: Numbers 23-25; Mark 7:14-37

We gave our 2-year-old son a pair of new boots recently. He was so happy that he didn’t take them off until it was bedtime. But the next day he forgot all about the boots and put on his old sneakers. My husband said, “I wish he knew how much things cost.”

The boots were expensive, but a young child doesn’t know about working hours, salaries, and taxes. A child receives the gifts with open arms, but we know that he can’t be expected to fully appreciate the sacrifices his parents make to give him new things.

Sometimes I behave like a child. With open arms I receive God’s gifts through His many mercies, but am I thankful? Do I consider the price that was paid so I can live a full life?

The cost was expensive—more than “corruptible things, like silver or gold.” As we read in 1 Peter, it required “the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1:18-19). Jesus gave His life, a high price to pay, to make us part of His family. And God raised Him from the dead (v.21).

When we understand the cost of our salvation, we learn to be truly thankful. —Keila Ochoa

Lord, help me to understand, to take in what it meant for You, the Holy One, to bear my sin. Remind me to give You thanks for salvation and for all the ways You show me Your love throughout my day today.

Salvation is infinitely costly, but absolutely free.

Charles Spurgeon – Rahab’s faith

 

“By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.” Hebrews 11:31

Suggested Further Reading: James 2:18-26

Rahab’s faith was a sanctifying faith. Did Rahab continue a harlot after she had faith? No, she did not. I do not believe she was a harlot at the time the men went to her house, though the name still stuck to her, as such ill names will; but I am sure she was not afterwards, for Salmon the prince of Judah married her, and her name is put down among the ancestors of our Lord Jesus Christ. She became after that a woman eminent for piety, walking in the fear of God. Now, you may have a dead faith which will ruin your soul. The faith that will save you is a faith which sanctifies. “Ah!” says the drunkard, “I like the gospel, sir; I believe in Christ:” then he will go over to the Blue Lion tonight, and get drunk. Sir, that is not the believing in Christ that is of any use. “Yes,” says another, “I believe in Christ;” and when he gets outside he will begin to talk lightly, frothy words, perhaps lascivious ones, and sin as before. Sir, you speak falsely; you do not believe in Christ. That faith which saves the soul is a real faith, and a real faith sanctifies men. It makes them say, “Lord, thou hast forgiven me my sins; I will sin no more. Thou hast been so merciful to me, I will renounce my guilt; so kindly hast thou treated me, so lovingly hast thou embraced me, Lord, I will serve thee till I die; and if thou wilt give me grace, and help me so to be, I will be as holy as thou art.” You cannot have faith, and yet live in sin. To believe is to be holy. The two things must go together. That faith is a dead faith, a corrupt faith, a rotten faith, which lives in sin that grace may abound. Rahab was a sanctified woman.

For meditation: Faith has to be seen to be believed (Joshua 2:17-21).

Sermon no. 119
1 March (1857)

Joyce Meyer – A New Nature

 

Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come! – 2 Corinthians 5:17

God’s Word teaches us that when we receive Christ as our Savior and Lord, He gives us a new nature (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). He gives us His nature. He also gives us a spirit of discipline and self- control, which is vital in allowing us to choose the ways of our new nature. And He gives us a sound mind (see 2 Timothy 1:7). That means we can think about things properly without being controlled by emotion.

Every believer can be thankful that the way we once were passes away, and we have all the equipment we need for a brand-new way of behaving. With God’s help we can choose spirit over flesh and right over wrong. Our renewed spirits can now control our souls and bodies or, to say it another way, the inner person can control the outer person. Then we can live out God’s plan for our lives.

Prayer of Thanks Father, I thank You that I am a new creation in You. I am so grateful for a fresh start and the new nature You have given me. Help me to leave the old ways behind today and live a brand-new, joy-filled life of victory in You.

Presidential Prayer Team; P.G. – Get It Together

 

In a recent study of the expectations of Americans, psychologists employed a simple experiment with two photographs. People were asked to identify with one photo or the other. While the study centered on racial issues, the results revealed a broader social condition: people tended to identify with others who were most like them. “There is power in togetherness,” the study concluded. The study also explains why Congressional partisanship is so strong; the nation’s leaders are naturally drawn toward those who share the same political views.

Whoever listens to me will dwell secure, and will be at ease.

Proverbs 1:33

Wisdom is the overriding subject of Proverbs. God asks you to seek for it and apply it. Today’s verse implies that if everyone would but listen to His words, unity in America would be possible, with security and ease the result. What a difference that would make in neighborhoods, in churches, and on Capitol Hill.

As you pray today to put God’s Word first while living in unity with your fellow Christians, pray also for the men and women in government to find wisdom in the Scriptures and seek to be unified in making the best decisions for all Americans regardless of political affiliation.

Recommended Reading: Ephesians 4:4-16

Night Light – The Mystery of Romance

 

“Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away.” Song of Songs 8:7

No matter how hard we try to define romance, it remains in part a mystery. Yet Solomon’s Song of Songs does give us several clues to its nature. In this evocative description of romantic love, we see that it means both intimacy and intense emotional excitement: “My lover is mine and I am his” (2:16); “My heart began to pound for him” (5:4). We see how deep affection inspires desire and complete appreciation for another: “How beautiful you are, my darling!” (4:1). We learn that to be romantic means to pursue the object of our affection—and to pine when he or she eludes us: “All night long on my bed I looked for the one my heart loves; I looked for him but did not find him” (3:1). And we see how powerfully a public display of affection communicates romantic love: “He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love” (2:4).

Most important of all, we learn that God intended romance to culminate in the unbreakable bond of married love. The book of Songs reaches its climax with a description of the power of love: “Love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like a blazing fire, like a mighty flame” (8:6). The Lord would not have provided us with this scriptural celebration of love and romance unless He intended it as an inspiring example for us.

Just between us…

  • How does Song of Songs demonstrate the importance of romance?
  • How can romance encourage love “like a mighty flame”?
  • In light of today’s reading, would you alter your definition of romance in any way?

Heavenly Father, thank You for the blessing of romantic attraction. May my spouse and I pursue each other joyfully and creatively all of our days. Amen.

Charles Spurgeon – The procession of sorrow

 

‘And they took Jesus, and led him away.’ John 19:16

Suggested Further Reading: John 15:18–21

I will not say it is because we are unfaithful to our Master that the world is more kind to us, but I half suspect it is, and it is very possible that if we were more thoroughly Christians the world would more heartily detest us, and if we would cleave more closely to Christ we might expect to receive more slander, more abuse, less tolerance, and less favour from men. You young believers, who have lately followed Christ, should father and mother forsake you, remember you were bidden to reckon upon it; should brothers and sisters deride, you must put this down as part of the cost of being a Christian. Godly working men, should your employers or your fellow-workers frown upon you; wives, should your husbands threaten to cast you out, remember, without the camp was Jesus’ place, and without the camp is yours. O you Christian men, who dream of trimming your sails to the wind, who seek to win the world’s favour, I do beseech you cease from a course so perilous. We are in the world, but we must never be of it; we are not to be secluded like monks in the cloister, but we are to be separated like Jews among Gentiles; men, but not of men; helping, aiding, befriending, teaching, comforting, instructing, but not sinning. The more manifestly there shall be a great gulf between the church and the world, the better shall it be for both; the better for the world, for it shall be thereby warned; the better for the church, for it shall be thereby preserved. Go then, like the Master, expecting to be abused, to wear an ill name, and to earn reproach; go, like him, without the camp.

For meditation: The doctrine that Christians can befriend and please both God and the world is not a biblical one (Galatians 1:10; James 4:4; 1 John 2:15). Are you trying to do the impossible?

Sermon no. 497
1 March (1863)

Charles Stanley – Choosing the Right Path

 

Matthew 16:24-27

The Father has opened a way for sinners to be forgiven and set on the path of righteousness—namely, through faith in His Son. Trusting in Jesus Christ as our personal Savior makes us members of God’s family and takes us immediately onto the narrow road, which is only for His followers.

As we journey on this heavenward highway, the Holy Spirit acts as our guide and teaches us what we need to know. Through Him, we develop the ability to look beyond the temporal to the eternal: With spiritual eyes, we will catch glimpses of the Lord’s majesty, comprehend the depth of our Savior’s love for us, and experience the invisible, powerful presence of the Spirit. We will witness the awe-inspiring transformation of ordinary, pride-filled human beings into humble, loving ambassadors for Christ. Our minds will grasp the truths of God’s Word, and we will hear Him speaking to us through it. On the broad road, none of these things are possible.

Despite such amazing blessings, we at times all wander from the Lord’s will. We might be drawn away by the glitter of material things, the temporary satisfaction of self-indulgence, or a desire to be part of the crowd. Whatever we hope to find outside of God’s plan proves illusive and temporary. Only by walking with Christ on the path of godliness will we find the security and contentment we crave.

If you are drifting in your Christian life, allowing the world’s priorities to direct your steps, then you need to turn back. Jesus calls you to deny yourself and commit to following Him alone

Alistair Begg – Where is Your Hope?

 

My hope is from him.   Psalm 62:5

 

It is the believer’s privilege to use this language. If he is looking for anything from the world, it is a poor hope indeed. But if he looks to God for the supply of his needs, whether temporal or spiritual blessings, his hope will not be in vain. He may constantly draw from the bank of faith and get his need supplied out of the riches of God’s loving-kindness. I know this: I would rather have God for my banker than all the Rothschilds.

My Lord never fails to honor His promises; and when we bring them to His throne, He never sends them back unanswered. Therefore I will wait only at His door, for He always opens it with the hand of abundant grace. At this hour I will turn to Him afresh.

But we have “hope” beyond this life. We will die soon; and still our “hope is from him.” May we not expect that when we face illness He will send angels to carry us to His bosom? We believe that when the pulse is faint and the heart is weak, some angelic messenger shall stand and look with loving eyes upon us and whisper, “Come away!” As we approach the heavenly gate, we expect to hear the welcome invitation, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”1 We are expecting harps of gold and crowns of glory; we are hoping soon to be among the company of shining ones before the throne; we are looking forward and longing for the time when we shall be like our glorious Lord–for “We shall see him as he is.”2

Then if these are your hopes, O my soul, live for God; live with the desire and resolve to glorify Him from whose grace in your election, redemption, and calling you safely “hope” for the coming glory.

1) Matthew 25:34 2) 1 John 3:2

Today’s Bible Reading

The family reading plan for February 28, 2015
* Exodus 11, 12:1-21
Luke 14

Devotional material is taken from “Morning and Evening,” written by C.H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg.

My hope is from him.   Psalm 62:5

 

It is the believer’s privilege to use this language. If he is looking for anything from the world, it is a poor hope indeed. But if he looks to God for the supply of his needs, whether temporal or spiritual blessings, his hope will not be in vain. He may constantly draw from the bank of faith and get his need supplied out of the riches of God’s loving-kindness. I know this: I would rather have God for my banker than all the Rothschilds.

My Lord never fails to honor His promises; and when we bring them to His throne, He never sends them back unanswered. Therefore I will wait only at His door, for He always opens it with the hand of abundant grace. At this hour I will turn to Him afresh.

But we have “hope” beyond this life. We will die soon; and still our “hope is from him.” May we not expect that when we face illness He will send angels to carry us to His bosom? We believe that when the pulse is faint and the heart is weak, some angelic messenger shall stand and look with loving eyes upon us and whisper, “Come away!” As we approach the heavenly gate, we expect to hear the welcome invitation, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”1 We are expecting harps of gold and crowns of glory; we are hoping soon to be among the company of shining ones before the throne; we are looking forward and longing for the time when we shall be like our glorious Lord–for “We shall see him as he is.”2

Then if these are your hopes, O my soul, live for God; live with the desire and resolve to glorify Him from whose grace in your election, redemption, and calling you safely “hope” for the coming glory.

1) Matthew 25:34 2) 1 John 3:2

Today’s Bible Reading

The family reading plan for February 28, 2015
* Exodus 11, 12:1-21
Luke 14

Devotional material is taken from “Morning and Evening,” written by C.H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg.

Charles Spurgeon – Particular redemption

 

“Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 27:45-54

See the Saviour’s limbs, how they quiver! Every bone has been put out of joint by the dashing of the cross into that socket! How he weeps! How he sighs! How he sobs! Indeed, how at last he shrieks in agony, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” O sun, no wonder thou didst shut thine eye, and look no longer upon a deed so cruel! O rocks! no wonder that ye did melt and rend your hearts with sympathy, when your Creator died! Never man suffered as this man suffered. Even death itself relented, and many of those who had been in their graves arose and came into the city. This however, is but the outward. Believe me, brethren, the inward was far worse. What our Saviour suffered in his body was nothing, compared with what he endured in his soul. You cannot guess, and I cannot help you to guess, what he endured within. Suppose for one moment—to repeat a sentence I have often used—suppose a man who has passed into hell—suppose his eternal torment could all be brought into one hour; and then suppose it could be multiplied by the number of the saved, which is a number past all human enumeration. Can you now think what a vast aggregate of misery there would have been in the sufferings of God’s people, if they had been punished through all eternity? And recollect that Christ had to suffer an equivalent for all the hells of all his redeemed. I can never express that thought better than by using those oft-repeated words: it seemed as if hell was put into his cup; he seized it, and, “At one tremendous draught of love, he drank damnation dry.” So that there was nothing left of all the pangs and miseries of hell for his people ever to endure.

For meditation: The secret things of the sufferings of Christ belong to the Lord our God (Deuteronomy 29:29)—we could never begin to take them in. But God has given us a glimpse behind the scenes—meditate on the alternate torment and trust recorded in Psalm 22:1-21.

Sermon no. 181
28 February (1858)

John MacArthur – Acknowledging the Ultimate Source of Everything

 

“Joyously giving thanks to the Father” (Col. 1:11-12).

Joyous thanksgiving acknowledges God as the giver of every good gift.

The inseparable link between joy and thanksgiving was a common theme for Paul. In Philippians 4:4-6 he says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! . . . Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” He told the Thessalonians to “rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:16- 18).

As often as Paul expressed thanks and encouraged others to express theirs, he was careful never to attribute to men the thanks due to God alone. For example in Romans 1:8 he says, “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world.” He thanked God, not the Roman believers, because he knew that faith is a gift from God.

That doesn’t mean you can’t thank others for the kindnesses they show, but in doing so you must understand that they are instruments of God’s grace.

Thanking Him shows humility and acknowledges His rightful place as the Sovereign Lord and the giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). Those who reject His lordship and refuse to give Him thanks incur His wrath (Rom. 1:21).

Only those who love Christ can truly give thanks because He is the channel through which thanks is expressed to the Father. As Paul says in Colossians 3:17, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” Hebrews 13:15 adds, “Through [Christ] then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.”

As one who is privileged to know the God of all grace, be generous in your praise and thanksgiving today. See everything as a gift from His hand for your joy and edification.

Suggestions for Prayer;  Recite Psalm 136 as a prayer of praise to God.

For Further Study; From Psalm 136 list the things that prompted the psalmist’s thanksgiving. How can that psalm serve as a model for your own praise?