Tag Archives: holy spirit

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Inherit My Holy Mountain

 

“Let’s see if the whole collection of your idols can help you when you cry to them to save you! They are so weak that the wind can carry them off! A breath can puff them away. But he who trusts in Me shall possess the land and inherit My Holy Mountain” (Isaiah 57:13).

It was the very last week prior to our deadline for raising two million dollars to purchase the property at Arrowhead Springs for our international Campus Crusade for Christ headquarters. A dear friend had offered a $300,000 matching fund as a gift if we could raise the balance of the $2 million by a certain date.

Because of a very heavy speaking schedule at both the student and faculty conferences held at Arrowhead, I was unable to make any significant contribution to the raising of funds. And yet somehow in my heart of hearts I knew that God was going to supply our need in a miraculous way.

The late Dr. V. Raymond Edman, then president of Wheaton College, was one of the featured speakers at the conferences. At breakfast, one day Dr. Edman shared with my wife, Vonette, and me this very meaningful verse in Isaiah – a verse that God had impressed upon him that morning to share with us as he prayed about our urgent financial needs.

Now we were all the more encouraged to believe God in an even greater way than before. We truly expected to see Him provide the remaining funds – miraculously. In the evening of the day of the deadline, I was informed that we still needed $33,000 and that every possible source of revenue had been exhausted. There was nothing more, humanly speaking, we could do. Yet, through a series of circumstances between 11:00 and midnight, those funds were pledged, and we met the deadline. Exactly at midnight, the last of God’s miracles had been wrought and the goal had been reached. God had promised, “He who trusts in Me shall possess the land and inherit My Holy Mountain” – Arrowhead Springs.

Bible Reading: Isaiah 57:10-15

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Whether the need be for funds, for health, for wisdom, or whatever, I will believe God to supply my every need as He has so wonderfully promised in His Word to those who trust in Him.

Presidential Prayer Team; P.G. – Immeasurable

 

Physicists debate the dimensions of space. For the untrained, life exists in three dimensions. Time is added as a fourth dimension; a fifth dimension is a continuous repetition of the fourth dimension in space/time. Modern physics has added a sixth dimension, and a paper presented in December last year suggests that in this sixth dimension alternate realities exist in parallel to the ones known – a “superstring” theory which posits that the universe exists in ten dimensions at once. Aren’t you glad that you can just raise your hands and say, “God only knows,” and consider what lengths He has gone to in order to confound these scientists!

Your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

Psalm 108:4

Regardless of whether you exist in a three, four or ten dimensional universe, you can rejoice knowing that the steadfast love of the Lord is so multi-dimensional that it exceeds the heavens. You can sing with the psalmist, or with the contemporary group Mercy Me, “How Great is Your Love,” knowing that it is beyond measure.

Today, as you bow your knees under the overwhelming knowledge of the vastness of God’s love, pray for the many in government who haven’t yet learned it.

Recommended Reading: Romans 8:31-39

 

Night Light – Set Up For Disappointment

 

“Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save.” Psalm 146:3

The media continually bombard us with images of broken trust: spouses who cheat on each other; politicians who break promises; corporate chiefs who steal from their employees.

The list goes on and on. People in positions of responsibility should be held accountable to the highest moral and ethical standards. Yet each of these people is a mortal creature with a natural bent toward sin. The minute we begin placing our deepest faith and trust in human beings, we set ourselves up for severe disappointment.

What does this mean for marriage? Even in the best of relationships, husbands and wives may err and break the other’s trust. That’s why we must rely on God’s power—not our own—to lead honorable lives. When husbands and wives commit themselves to live according to God’s ways, a bond of trust develops between them. Though none of us is perfect, we can give our heart confidently to our spouse when we know that he or she is genuinely seeking to follow God and His guidelines.

Just between us…

  • Has someone in a position of responsibility ever broken your trust?
  • Is it ever difficult for you to trust me?
  • Knowing our sinful nature, how can we still earn each other’s trust?
  • How do you think the Lord blesses spouses who trust each other?
  • How might we develop an even deeper level of trust in our relationship?

Heavenly Father, thank You that You are completely worthy of our trust. As my spouse and I commit ourselves to being trustworthy with each other, empower us by Your Spirit. Grant us grace when we fail. And bless us, we pray, with joy and confidence as we make trustworthiness a priority. Amen.

Charles Stanley – The Door of Opportunity

Revelation 3:7-10

In New Testament times, the city of Philadelphia was strategically located on travel routes between Rome and the east. This made it an important conduit for Greek culture and language. The church there received an exciting opportunity when God planned that the region would become known for a new export—the good news of Jesus Christ.

For the loyal church at Philadelphia, this was a tremendous blessing. In Revelation 3, Jesus Christ acknowledged the congregation’s deeds, which means they must have carried out their work with diligence and dependence on the Lord. That community of faith also followed God’s Word and didn’t deny His name, despite opposition from “the synagogue of Satan”—the worldly people who also inhabited the city.

The Lord opens doors, not simply for mission organizations and churches, but also for individual believers. A chance to do His will in any area of life must be taken seriously, as His opportunities always lead to the path He has designed for us. Some seem too good to be true, others are cloaked in hardship, and still others defy human reasoning. We need to know how to listen for and discern God’s voice so that we can be certain when it is His hand opening a door.

We all desire that the Lord give us His best for our life—in our vocation, finances, service, and spiritual growth. So we must build a proven record of faithful obedience, as the Philadelphian church did. When we serve Him with loyalty, humility, and diligence, God will open doors for even greater blessing.

Our Daily Bread – Approaching God

 

 

 

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory! —Isaiah 6:3

 

Read: Isaiah 6:1-8
Bible in a Year: Numbers 1-3; Mark 3

It used to bother me that the closer I drew to God in my walk with Him, the more sinful I felt. Then a phenomenon I observed in my room enlightened me. A tiny gap in the curtain covering my window threw a ray of light into the room. As I looked, I saw particles of dirt drifting in the beam. Without the ray of light, the room seemed clean, but the light revealed the dirty particles.

What I observed shed light on my spiritual life. The closer I approach the Lord of light, the clearer I see myself. When the light of Christ shines in the darkness of our lives, it exposes our sin—not to discourage us, but to humble us to trust in Him. We can’t depend on our own righteousness, since we are sinners and fall short of God’s standards (Rom. 3:23). When we are proud, the light reveals our heart and we cry as Isaiah did, “Woe to me! . . . For I am a man of unclean lips, . . . and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty” (Isa. 6:5 niv).

God is absolutely perfect in every way. Approaching Him calls for humility and childlike trust, not self-importance and pride. For it is by grace that He draws us to Himself. It is good for us that we feel unworthy as we draw closer to God, for it humbles us to rely on Him alone.—Lawrence Darmani

Holy, Holy, Holy! Though the darkness hide Thee, Though the eyes of sinful man Thy glory may not see; Only Thou art holy—there is none beside Thee, Perfect in power, in love and purity. —Heber

There is no room for pride when we walk with God.

INSIGHT: This passage recounts the call of Isaiah to a long and difficult prophetic ministry spanning the reigns of four kings (740–681 bc). Isaiah was not the only one in Scripture who viewed himself as too sinful to be in God’s presence (6:5). Peter, when called to be an apostle, cried out, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (Luke 5:8). The tax collector in Luke 18:13 demonstrated a similar humility and recognition of personal sin.

Charles Spurgeon – How to keep the heart

“The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

Suggested Further Reading: Mark 4:35-41

Cast your troubles where you have cast your sins; you have cast your sins into the depth of the sea, there cast your troubles also. Never keep a trouble half an hour on your own mind before you tell it to God. As soon as the trouble comes, quick, the first thing, tell it to your Father. Remember, that the longer you take telling your trouble to God, the more your peace will be impaired. The longer the frost lasts, the more thick the ponds will be frozen. Your frost will last till you go to the sun; and when you go to God—the sun, then your frost will soon become a thaw, and your troubles will melt away. But do not be long, because the longer you are in waiting, the longer will your trouble be in thawing afterwards. Wait a long while till your trouble gets frozen thick and firm, and it will take many a day of prayer to get your trouble thawed again. Away to the throne as quick as ever you can. Do as the child did, when he ran and told his mother as soon as his little trouble happened to him; run and tell your Father the first moment you are in affliction. Do this in everything, in every little thing—“in everything by prayer and supplication” make known your wants unto God. Take your husband’s headache, take your children’s sicknesses, take all things, little family troubles as well as great commercial trials—take them all to God; pour them all out at once. And so by an obedient practice of this command in everything making known your wants unto God, you shall preserve that peace “which shall keep your heart and mind through Jesus Christ.”

For meditation: If the God of peace is with you (Philippians 4:9), you have open access to the peace of God—but check carefully all the conditions in Philippians 4:6.

Sermon no. 180
21 February (1858)

John MacArthur – Maintaining Spiritual Integrity

 

“In order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ” (Phil. 1:10).

Seek to have a life that bears scrutiny.

In our society, those whose lives are marked by moral soundness, uprightness, honesty, and sincerity are usually thought of as people of integrity. However, society’s standards often fall far short of God’s. Spiritual integrity calls for the highest possible standard of behavior and requires supernatural resources available only to those who trust in Him.

Paul’s prayer in Philippians 1:9-10 outlines the path to spiritual integrity. It begins with love that abounds with knowledge and discernment (v. 9) and progresses to the pursuit of excellence (v. 10). The result is sincerity and blamelessness—two characteristics of godly integrity.

The Greek word translated “sincere” in verse 10 speaks of genuineness and authenticity. It literally means “without wax” and is an allusion to the practice of inspecting pottery by holding it up to the sunlight. In ancient times pottery often cracked during the firing process. Rather than discarding cracked pieces, dishonest dealers often filled the cracks with wax and sold them to unsuspecting customers. Holding a pot up to the sunlight revealed any flaws and protected the customer from a bad purchase.

Following that analogy, biblical integrity requires that you be without wax, having no hypocrisy or secret sins that show up when you’re under pressure or facing temptation.

“Blameless” speaks of consistency in living a life that doesn’t lead others into error or sin. Your standard is the same away from church as it is at church.

Being blameless isn’t easy in a world that unashamedly flaunts its sinful practices. You must guard against losing your sensitivity to the heinousness of sin and unwittingly beginning to tolerate or even accept the sin that once shocked you. That’s when you lose integrity and begin to cause others to stumble.

Diligently pursue integrity with a view toward glorifying Christ in all things until He returns!

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God that He is able to keep you from stumbling and to make you stand in His presence blameless with great joy (Jude 24).
  • Prayerfully guard your heart and mind from the subtle evil influences that can erode your integrity and make you ineffective for the Lord.

For Further Study

Read Genesis 39.

  • How was Joseph’s integrity challenged?
  • How did God honor Joseph’s commitment to integrity?

Joyce Meyer – God Cares about Every Detail

 

Are not two little sparrows sold for a penny? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s leave (consent) notice. But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, then; you are of more value than many sparrows.- Matthew 10:29–31

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God wants to speak to you every day. He wants to lead you step-by-step away from trouble and into the good things He has in store for you. He cares about the tiniest details of your life. According to the verses for today, He even keeps track of how many hairs you have on your head. He cares about the desires of your heart, and He wants to reveal to you truth that will set you free from worry and fear.

God’s plan to share an intimate relationship with you existed before you were even born, as you can read in Psalm 139:16: Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your book all the days [of my life] were written before ever they took shape, when as yet there was none of them. God knows all of our days and has a plan for each one. If we will ask Him what we are to do each day and believe that He is guiding us, we will find ourselves fulfilling His plan for our lives.

It seems incomprehensible that God could have a plan for every person on Earth, but it also brings great peace to know He can take chaos and turn it into something meaningful and worthwhile. Spend time getting to know God because His plan is unveiled through intimate relationship with Him.

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Hunger and Thirst

 

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6, KJV).

Do you hunger and thirst after righteousness, for the fullness and power of the Holy Spirit in your life? If so, you can claim that fullness and power right now by faith.

“The great difference between present-day Christianity and that of which we read in these letters (New Testament epistles),” declared J.B. Phillips in his introduction to the Letters to Young churches, “is that to us it is primarily a performance; to them it was a real experience.

“We are apt to reduce the Christian religion to a code, or, at best, a rule of heart and life. To these men it is quite plainly the invasion of their lives by a new quality of life altogether. They do not hesitate to describe this as Christ living in them.”

The disciples were used of God to change the course of history. As Christian homemakers, students, businessmen and professionals, we have that same potential and privilege today.

The amazing fact that Jesus Christ lives in us and expresses His love through us is one of the most important truths in the Word of God. The standards of the Christian life are so high and so impossible to achieve, according to the Word of God, that only one person has been able to succeed. That person is Jesus Christ.

When we receive Christ into our lives, we experience a new birth and are also indwelt by the Holy Spirit. From that point on, everything we need – including wisdom, love, power – to be men and women of God and fruitful witnesses for Christ is available to us simply by faith, by claiming this power in accordance with God’s promise.

Bible Reading: Romans 10:6-10

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: “Dear Lord, create within me a hunger and thirst after righteousness that is greater than my hunger and thirst for meat and drink for my physical body. By faith I claim the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit to enable me to live a victorious, fruitful life to the glory of God and to share this good news of the Spirit-filled life with everyone who will listen.”

Presidential Prayer Team; G.C. – Tell Your Miracle

 

In his book Miracles, Eric Metaxas tells the story of atheist scientist Fred Hoyle who famously said “the universe looks like a put-up job. It’s too neat. It’s too perfect. It couldn’t have just happened.” The order and beauty of the natural universe disturbed Hoyle’s atheism because, scientifically speaking, he said “it couldn’t be just as it is.” Metaxas says miracles are meant to be signs that point towards God – and the miracle of the natural world is no exception. While Hoyle never became a Christian, his honest observations pointed him again and again to God.

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!

Psalm 105:1

What is the miracle resident in your life? Is it your conversion story, or another time God stepped into your personal domain? Today’s verse encourages you to tell the people in your world about what God has done in your life. Don’t worry about the details; just tell your story and let God’s work speak for itself.

Worship God today by telling His miracle story in your life. Then pray for those in America’s institutions of leadership, that they may comprehend God’s handiwork in their life. Pray many will find the courage to move past unbelief and into faith.

Recommended Reading: Acts 10:34-45

Greg Laurie – What’s the Big Deal About Israel?

 

“I will make Jerusalem like an intoxicating drink that makes the nearby nations stagger when they send their armies to besiege Jerusalem and Judah. On that day I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock. All the nations will gather against it to try to move it, but they will only hurt themselves”—Zechariah 12:2–3

Why is Jerusalem such a big deal in world news? Why aren’t we talking about Los Angeles, Paris, Rome, or some other major capital in another part of the world? Why this little city?

I will tell you why. Because God said that in the last days, Jerusalem would play a key role: “I will make Jerusalem like an intoxicating drink that makes the nearby nations stagger when they send their armies to besiege Jerusalem and Judah. On that day I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock. All the nations will gather against it to try to move it, but they will only hurt themselves” (Zechariah 12:2–3 NLT).

Scripture also foretold in Ezekiel 37 that the Jews would be regathered in their land, and this prophecy was fulfilled when Israel became a nation on May 14, 1948. After Ezekiel 37 comes Ezekiel 38, which speaks of an attack against Israel by a large nation to the north of the Jewish homeland, accompanied by a number of allies invading Israel from every direction. Scripture emphasizes multiple times that this will happen in the last days. This is still in the future.

In speaking of Israel’s enemies, Ezekiel 38:8–11 offers an interesting detail:

“A long time from now you will be called into action. In the distant future you will swoop down on the land of Israel, which will be enjoying peace after recovering from war and after its people have returned from many lands to the mountains of Israel.

“You and all your allies—a vast and awesome army—will roll down on them like a storm and cover the land like a cloud.

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘At that time evil thoughts will come to your mind, and you will devise a wicked scheme. You will say, “Israel is an unprotected land filled with unwalled villages! I will march against her and destroy these people who live in such confidence!”‘” (NLT).

These people who live in such confidence? Can you imagine that statement being made right after the Holocaust? Hardly. Can you imagine that statement being made after Israel was established as a nation, or even after the 1967 war? Not really. But today Israel has one of the most powerful and effective military forces on the face of the earth. They are not the largest, but they are known for their military prowess and for their military intelligence. And for quite a long time now, they have had nuclear weaponry. That is why Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stood before the United Nations and made it very clear that, if necessary, Israel will exercise a military option to protect herself. So I think Israel does live within a certain degree of confidence today that they have never known historically.

In an address to the United Nations, Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “Iran’s apocalyptic leaders believe that a medieval holy man will reappear in the wake of a devastating Holy War, thereby ensuring that their brand of radical Islam will rule the earth. That’s not just what they believe. That’s what is actually guiding their policies and their actions.”

And that is true. Because in his address to the United Nations, Iran’s former leader Ahmadinejad stated, “God Almighty has promised us a man of kindness, a man who loves people and loves absolute justice, a man who is a perfect human being and is named Imam A1-Mahdi, a man who will come in the company of Jesus Christ. Peace be upon him and the righteous.”

This Islamic messiah, this 12th Imam, according to their beliefs, will bring about an Islamic kingdom. But also according to their beliefs, the Judeo-Christian civilization must be destroyed first. For this 12th Imam to come, they believe, there must first be chaos.

Could this be what brings about the scenario predicted in the Old Testament book of Ezekiel (see chapters 38 and 39)? No one can say with certainty. But this much we must acknowledge: It certainly could be. We see how things are lining up.

Up to this point, the United States has been a staunch ally of Israel’s. And I believe that one of the reasons God has blessed our nation is because of our continued support for Israel. But it would appear these days that we are backing away from her. And according to Bible prophecy, one day, there will be no great ally behind Israel. She will stand alone when she is attacked by an enemy from the north and its allies.

The Bible also predicts that a national revival will come to Israel, when God will once again pour out his Spirit upon the nation. But this will happen after the rapture of the church. Romans 11:25 predicts, “Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ.”

I have met people who can quote chapter and verse and give a good overview of the proper chronology of events of the end times, yet they are not living godly lives. And they are missing the point. If knowing what the Bible predicts about the last days doesn’t impact us in the way that we live, then we have missed what God is trying to say. Jesus didn’t say, “When these things begin to happen, argue about it.” Rather, he said, “When these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28 NKJV).

Discovering God’s Design – Our Portion

 

Lamentations 3:1–24

The economic imagery in this passage demonstrates the critical connection that exists between faith and finances (cf. Mt 6:21). After reflecting on his own poverty in Lamentations 3:17, the poet turns his attention to God, his “portion” (La 3:24). The term portion in ancient Israel carried an economic significance easily lost on modern readers. The word has its origin in the distribution of the promised land among the 12 tribes as their inheritance from God. For an ancient Israelite, the totality of life, economic status and social security were tied to the land God had given him.

The priests received no inheritance of land. Instead, God said to Aaron, “I am your share [portion] and your inheritance” (Nu 18:20). This is the same share the writer of Lamentations claims for himself, depending absolutely on God for his safety and security. He does not overlook the fact that human beings find security in possessions. God, after all, gave us the desire to possess, and the writer is not ashamed to appeal to that desire. But instead of merely refusing to trust in resources and possessions as his refuge, the poet relocates his resources by clinging to God as his chosen portion.

How do we claim God as our portion and eternal security? According to Jesus, we can relocate our wealth by sharing with the needy. This is how we store up for ourselves lasting treasures in heaven (see Mt 6:19–21; Lk 12:32–34; 1Ti 6:17–19).

“Can you say with John Wesley, ‘I value all things only by the price they will bring in eternity?’” challenges National Christian Foundation cofounder Terry A. Parker. “Do you get excited about investing the time, talent, and resources God has given you this day, so on that day you will hear Him say, ‘Well done good and faithful servant?’”

In the words of John Nunes, a pastor, theologian and the president of a denominational relief agency, “As God’s redeemed people, we have the calling—and opportunity—to be openhanded and tenderhearted toward those in need, not hard-hearted and tightfisted …” Nunes continues, “David Belasic suggests that God is favorably biased toward the poor, toward those who are suffering, toward those who have been shattered by the vicissitudes of life. God cares. His people care too.”

“Many Christians are going to be ashamed to face the Lord and explain why they hoarded money while others went hungry,” predicts Christian financial stewardship leader Larry Burkett (1939–2003). “Once commitment has been made to a disciplined lifestyle, regardless of the available income, the danger of greed and its by-products is significantly reduced.”

Think About It

  • What changes in your life when you make God your portion (your security and inheritance)?
  • How will you feel when you face God and think back about the times you had opportunity to give to others and didn’t?
  • What can you do to share with others today?

Act on It

When you get to heaven, you’ll be accountable for your financial decisions. Do something today that will alleviate the pain of another person. And then know that heaven is rejoicing with you.

Streams in the Desert – Tools of the Shepherd

 

Psalm 23:4

The rod and staff are tools of the shepherd. The rod is a club that the shepherd has carved from the root of a tree and fitted to his hand. The shepherd keeps the rod with him at all times and uses it as a weapon. When wild animals or snakes threaten the sheep, the shepherd takes aim and uses the rod to kill or drive off the intruder.

The staff is a useful and essential tool for the shepherd. Many staffs had hooks at the end for catching sheep that were wandering off, for lifting a lamb and putting it back beside its mother, and for pulling away thorny bushes the sheep might wander into and get caught in. Sheep fall over cliffs and have to be rescued. They get into weeds that will make them sick if they eat them. They must have a shepherd with them at all times to care for them and guide them. The shepherd uses his staff to assist the sheep. Sometimes he uses it to pull a sheep close to himself so he can inspect it for cuts and bruises.

So how are God’s rod and staff a comfort to us? They comfort us because God is our shepherd, guiding us day by day. Some days we may feel the hook of the staff around our necks guiding us back to the right way. Sometimes we hear the rod as it flies past our head to chase away something that would have hurt us. And sometimes we feel the staff of God’s love pulling us close to him.

Dear Lord, You are my Good Shepherd. Thank you for watching over me even when I am stubborn and foolish. Thank you for pulling me back in line and closer to you. Amen.

 

Charles Stanley – Christ-Centered Confidence

2 Corinthians 3:1-6

Confidently trusting the Lord brings many blessings. These include spiritual growth, personal achievement, peace, and influence.

When our reliance on God is steady, we will respond to difficulties by seeking Him for guidance and strength. In turn, we will experience the Holy Spirit’s presence, provision, power—and, as a result, spiritual growth. We’ll be capable of accomplishments far greater than imaginable when our assurance comes from the Lord. Perhaps we’ll demonstrate a depth of endurance while everyone else is in an uproar; we might receive a leadership position beyond our perceived abilities; or we might find pleasure and success in doing an unfamiliar task.

If we mix trust in God with reliance on self, our calm demeanor will waver. But when our security rests in Him and we show conviction about His promises, peace follows. Then others will notice that God has inspired our confidence. As they watch us achieve in unexpected ways, grow spiritually, or exhibit inner peace, they’ll want what we have, and we can influence them for Christ.

We build confidence in God by meditating on His Word, knowing who He is, and drawing near to Him through prayer. But we can lose our confidence by focusing on circumstances rather than Jesus, by allowing unconfessed sin in our life, and by heeding worldly advice.

What do your actions reveal about you—Christ-centered confidence or self-reliance? What steps will you take to deepen your belief in Him? The Lord is always worthy of our trust (John 14:1).

Our Daily Bread  – Weighed Down

 

 

 

Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. —Hebrews 12:1

 

Read: Hebrews 12:1-5
Bible in a Year: Leviticus 26-27; Mark 2

August 10, 1628, was a dark day in naval history. On that day the royal warship Vasa set out on her maiden voyage. After taking 2 years to build, being lavishly decorated and holding 64 cannons, the pride of the Swedish navy sank only one mile out to sea. What went wrong? The excessive load was too heavy to make her seaworthy. Excess weight pulled the Vasa to the bottom of the ocean.

The Christian life can also be weighed down by excess baggage. Encouraging us in our spiritual journey, the book of Hebrews says: “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (12:1-2).

Like the lavishly decorated ship, we may project to others an impressive exterior. But if on the inside we are weighed down with sin, our perseverance can be impaired. There is a remedy, however. By relying on God’s guidance and the empowering of the Holy Spirit, our load can be lightened and our perseverance buoyant.

Forgiveness and grace are always available to the spiritual traveler.—Dennis Fisher

Father in heaven, too often I try to mask the burden and weight of sin in my life with the outward activities of the Christian life. Forgive me. Help me to set aside the things that keep me from running a good race.

Perseverance is as much about a strong won’t as a strong will.

INSIGHT: We are told in today’s passage to lay aside everything that hinders our daily walk of faith. The writer of Hebrews tells us that the example of “a cloud of witnesses” helps us to persevere (12:1). These witnesses are most likely the people listed in chapter 11 who walked in faith looking for the promises of God. We are also told to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus (12:2), who is the Author and Finisher of our faith. He is our example of patient perseverance, having endured the cross and the hostility of sinners, and He is now seated at God’s right hand (vv.2-3). With the saints behind us and Christ ahead of us we can press on.

Alistair Begg –  Go First to God

 

God, who comforts the downcast. 2 Corinthians 7:6

 And who comforts like Him? Go to some poor, melancholy, distressed child of God; tell him sweet promises and whisper in his ear choice words of comfort; he is like the deaf adder that doesn’t listen to the voice of the charmer, even though he charms wisely. He is drinking gall and wormwood, and no matter how you comfort him, you will only get a note or two of mournful resignation from him; you will bring forth no psalms of praise, no hallelujahs, no joyful sonnets. But let God come to His child, let Him lift up his countenance, and the mourner’s eyes glisten with hope. Do you not hear him sing–

‘Tis paradise, if you are here;
If you depart, ’tis hell.

You could not have cheered him: but the Lord has done it; He is the “God of all comfort.”1 There is no balm in Gilead, but there is balm in God. There is no physician among the creatures, but the Creator is Jehovah-rophi. It is marvelous how one sweet word of God will make whole songs for Christians. One word of God is like a piece of gold, and the Christian is the gold-beater and can hammer that promise out for weeks.

So, then, poor Christian, you need not sit down in despair. Go to the Comforter, and ask Him to give you consolation. You are a poor, dry well. You have heard it said that when a pump is dry, you must pour water down it first of all, and then you will get water; and so, Christian, when you are dry, go to God, ask Him to shed abroad His joy in your heart, and then your joy shall be full. Do not go to earthly acquaintances, for you will find them to be Job’s comforters; but go first and foremost to “God, who comforts the downcast,” and you will soon say, “When the cares of my heart are many, Your consolations cheer my soul.”

1) 2 Corinthians 1:3

Today’s Bible Reading

The family reading plan for February 20, 2015
* Exodus 3
Luke 6

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

John MacArthur – Pursuing Excellence

 

“So that you may approve the things that are excellent” (Phil. 1:10).

In a world of mediocrity and confusion, God calls you to excellence and discernment.

There’s the story of a pilot who came on the loudspeaker mid flight and said, “I have some good news and bad news. The bad news is we’ve lost all our instrumentation and don’t know where we are. The good news is we have a strong tail wind and are making great time.” That’s an accurate picture of how many people live: they have no direction in life but they’re getting there fast!

We as Christians are to be different because we have divine guidance and eternal goals. Our lives are to be marked by a confident trust in God and a pursuit of spiritual excellence.

“Excellent” in Philippians 1:10 speaks of things that are worthwhile and vital. Approving what is excellent refers to testing things as one would test a precious metal to determine its purity and value. It goes beyond knowing good from evil. It distinguishes between better and best. It involves thinking biblically and focusing your time and energy on what really counts. It involves cultivating spiritual discipline and not being controlled by your emotions, whims, moods, or circumstances.

Many organizations and businesses have adopted the motto, “Commitment to Excellence” to convey their desire to provide the finest product or service possible. If secular-minded people strive for that level of achievement, how much more should Christians pursue excellence for the glory of God!

Look at your life. Is it filled with godly love, discernment, and the pursuit of excellence—or has worldly trivia crowded out those virtues?

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Read Isaiah 12:1-6 as a psalm of praise to the God of excellence.
  • Ask God to give you a heart constantly set on pursuing excellence for His glory.

For Further Study

Daniel was a man who pursued excellence. Read Daniel 1:1—2:21.

  • What was Daniel’s decision regarding the king’s food and wine, and how did he handle the situation?
  • How did Daniel and his three friends compare in wisdom and understanding to the magicians and conjurers?
  • What principles do you see in those two chapters that apply to your life?

Joyce Meyer – Your True Value

 

Now therefore, if you will obey My voice in truth and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own peculiar possession and treasure from among and above all peoples; for all the earth is Mine.- Exodus 19:5

In Exodus 19:5, the Lord tells His people that they are His own “peculiar possession and treasure.” That word applies to us today as much as it did to the children of Israel. In John 3:18, Jesus told Nicodemus that no one who believes in Him will ever be condemned (rejected). You may not feel treasured, or even acceptable, but you are. In Ephesians 1:6 (KJV), Paul says that all of us who believe in Christ have been “accepted in the beloved.” That should give us a sense of personal value and worth.

I remember standing in a prayer line where I overheard a woman next to me telling the pastor who was ministering to her how much she hated and despised herself. The pastor became very firm with her and in a strong manner rebuked her, saying, “Who do you think you are? You have no right to hate yourself. God paid a high price for you and your freedom. He loved you so much that He sent His only Son to die for you, to suffer in your place. You have no right to hate or reject yourself. Your part is to receive what Jesus died to give you!”

The woman was shocked. I was shocked too, just listening. Yet sometimes it takes a strong word to get us to realize the trap that Satan has set for us. Do you lack appreciation for your own value and worth? Surely, you are valuable; otherwise your heavenly Father would not have paid such a heavy price for your redemption.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Exalting a Nation

 

“Godliness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).

God’s Word (1 Timothy 2:2) reminds us that we are to pray for those in authority over us, so that we can live in peace and quietness, spending our time in godly living and thinking much about the Lord.

We should pray daily for all those in authority over us, from the precinct to the White House, and we should seek through the writing of letters and personal appointments to communicate God’s love to each one of them, so that they may contribute to those qualities of godliness that will cause the blessing of God to continue to be poured out upon this nation.

One day I walked into a senator’s office in Washington, D.C. I had never met the man before, but a mutual friend had suggested that I drop by to see him.

Within a few minutes it seemed as if we had known each other for a lifetime. A natural opportunity arose for me to ask him if he were a Christian, and I was able to share the good news of the gospel with him through the Four Spiritual Laws. Before I left his office, the senator said he would like to receive Christ.

Another time, I spoke at a congressman’s home, to which several other congressmen and their wives had been invited. After the meeting, several individuals requested personal appointments.

I went by the office of one of the congressmen the next day.

“Did what I said last night make sense to you?” I asked him.

“It surely did,” he replied.

“Would you like to receive Christ?” I asked. He said that he would and knelt beside his couch to pray.

Down the hall, I shared Christ with still another congressman who had been present the night before. He too said he would like to receive Christ. All three of these men and many others continue to walk with God, seeking His wisdom to help them lead our nation wisely.

Because “godliness exalts a nation,” we feel it is important for every Christian to pray for and witness to all of our nation’s elected officials. Supernatural enablement of the Holy spirit is available to assist us in our communication.

Bible Reading: Psalm 33:12-16

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will pray today for one or more of our nation’s leaders, and I will seek opportunities to witness to them and other governmental leaders personally or through correspondence.

Presidential Prayer Team; C.H. – Height of Fascination

 

The “eight-thousanders” are 14 separate mountains on Earth more than 8,000 meters (26,247 feet) above sea level. The first recorded attempt to climb an eight-thousander was in 1895, but the first successful climb wasn’t until 1950. Each of these mountain’s summits are in the death zone, an altitude where there is not enough oxygen for a human to breathe.

For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.

Psalm 97:9

Perhaps man’s fascination with heights comes from his inherent desire to draw close to God. While Satan is associated with that which lies below the ground, people relate to God above the clouds. “Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights!” (Psalm 148:1) The Psalmist in today’s passage calls God by one of His names – the Most High, and declares that He is over even the tallest mountain.

Drawing close to God isn’t as difficult as scaling an eight-thousander. All you have to do is call His name. Praise the one and only God of the universe. He is to be “exalted far above all gods.” Go on a walk and ask God to reveal Himself to you through His creation – and pray, too, for Him to be fully known to your nation’s leaders.

Recommended Reading: Isaiah 6:1-7