Tag Archives: human-rights

Our Daily Bread — Warning Sign

Our Daily Bread

Hebrews 3:1-13

Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. —Hebrews 3:12

On a sandy beach in Uruguay, giant concrete fingers partially submerged in sand reach up toward the sky. It is called the Monument to the Drowned. Locals just call it La Mano, “The Hand.” It was created by Chilean artist Mario Irarrázabal as a warning to swimmers about the danger of drowning. “The Hand” has become a tourist attraction, but its real purpose remains to remind swimmers about the perils of the sea.

The Word of God contains its own kind of warning signs. The book of Hebrews especially provides cautions about perils to the soul. “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:12-13).

The context of the verse is a review of the unbelief and rebellion of Israel in the wilderness. Though this happened centuries before the book of Hebrews was written, the spiritual principle applies today. We are to exhort one another to resist the hardening of our hearts that comes with sin.

Warning signs are given to us for our safety. Praise God that He has given us protective warnings in His Word because of His great love for us. —Dennis Fisher

Lord, thank You for the warnings in Your Word

that are intended to protect and preserve my life.

Help me to heed Your reproofs and instruction

that I may live a life that is pleasing to You.

God gives us loving warnings in His Word to protect and preserve us.

Bible in a year: Psalms 10-12; Acts 19:1-20

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Awards for Faithfulness

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“Stop being afraid of what you are about to suffer – for the devil will soon throw some of you into prison to test you. You will be persecuted for ‘ten days.’ Remain faithful even when facing death and I will give you the crown of life – an unending, glorious future” (Revelation 2:10).

I find this a very timely word of caution, for we live in a day when it appears that the enemy is making his last fling. I would not attempt to set dates, for it may be years, decades or even centuries before the culmination of all things.

But the fact remains that committed believers are facing persecution and testing as perhaps seldom before. You and I may be called upon to suffer for the cause of Christ. By faith, we are not to fear, knowing that an “unending, glorious future” awaits us.

This promise might apply equally to the physical suffering we encounter from time to time as a part of the natural order of things. If we can accept such suffering as part of God’s plan for us – one of the “all things” of Romans 8:28 that is working together for our good – we will be among those victors who are able to “count it all joy.”

As we consider these possibilities, we may be optimistic, even cheerful, knowing that we are already on the winning side – more than conquerors. And we need not be afraid, for “God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

Bible Reading: Revelation 2:8-11

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will count on God’s promise of Romans 8:28 to do only that which is good for me, regardless of the circumstances. He will enable me to live supernaturally.

Presidential Prayer Team; C.H. – Eternal Reward

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On October 28, 1949, missionary Jim Elliot penned in his journal, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” On January 8, 1956, Elliot gave his life to bring Christ to the Waodani people in the jungles of Ecuador. He was faithful until the very end.

Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.  Revelation 2:10

But Jim understood the importance of eternal life and how his earthly home was temporary. Today’s key verse reminds believers to remain true to God. The author, John, describes trying times very similar to events happening today: tribulation, poverty, slander, prison…yet he reminds you to stand strong during adversity, for your reward is “the crown of life.”

You may not be a missionary in South America, but you are a messenger of the gospel wherever you live. Christians are facing more persecution than ever right here in America. Remember, God has already written the end of the story, and He wins. Ask God to strengthen your faith and the faith of all believers as biblical morality is continually placed on the stand in this nation’s courts. Pray, too, for wisdom of both judge and juror.

Recommended Reading: I Timothy 6:11-19

Max Lucado – Not Guilty

Max Lucado

Sometimes shame is private. Pushed over the edge by an abusive spouse. Molested by a perverted parent. Seduced by a compromising superior. No one else knows.  But you know.  And that’s enough. Sometimes shame is public. Branded by a divorce you didn’t want. Contaminated by a disease you never expected. Whether private or public, shame is always painful. And unless you deal with it, it’s permanent.

In John 8:11 Jesus confronts the woman who’d formerly been caught in the act of adultery.  When the crowd would have stoned her, Jesus speaks:  “Anyone here who has never sinned can throw the first stone at her.” As all turned to leave, Jesus said, “I also don’t judge you guilty. You may go now, but don’t sin anymore.”

Jesus’ message is written not with His hand, but with His blood. On a cross. Let Him stand beside you. Listen carefully.  He’s speaking. “Not guilty!”

Charles Stanley – Our Convictions: Our Defense

Charles Stanley

Genesis 39:1,4,6-9

The only way that you’re going to build a defense against untruth is to saturate your mind with truth. You must, therefore, spend time in the Bible, undergirding your belief system with God’s reality so you can easily spot error.

This is similar to the way a chef creates his own version of a well-known recipe. While adjusting ingredients, he conducts repeated taste tests; only by checking his creation against the original cuisine can he determine the accuracy of his recipe. Otherwise, it would be as futile as trying to produce Coquilles St. Jacques by comparing the flavors to a fast-food sandwich!

God’s Word is our standard. Look over your belief system. What do you believe about marriage? Is it for life? Or do you believe it’s okay to bail whenever it becomes inconvenient or cramps your style? And what about children? Friends? Finances? Morality? Church? What about those “hot button” social issues we hear so much about?

If you are unsure where to stand on any of these issues, then it is imperative that you sit down with a Bible and begin researching until you hear God’s answers. Find Scripture concerning each area, and ask the Holy Spirit, “What does this passage really mean?”

Do not simply ask, “How can I interpret this passage in a way to suit myself?” The world operates by that philosophy, which is known as moral relativism. Instead, ask the Lord to mold your convictions through His Word. It is amazing how the Holy Spirit will equip and embolden you to stand for what you believe.

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Private Faith and Public Ethics

Ravi Z

As a student, I was privileged to sit under an advisor for whom the field of ethics, and particularly medical ethics, was a vibrant passion and sought-after proficiency. With his careful drawl and smiling eyes, my professor slowly and gladly brought me to an understanding of ethics that would never allow me to leave it, as I might have left a stuffy, uninteresting class. He also happened to be Christian, which one readily discovered was not by coincidence. His ethics and his religion were intertwined.

In one of Dr. Verhey’s more recent works, he further describes the connection of his ethics to Scripture. “There is no Christian life that is not shaped somehow by Scripture. There is no Christian moral discernment that is not tied somehow to Scripture. There is no Christian ethic—no Christian medical ethic or sexual ethic or economic ethic or political ethic—that is not formed and informed somehow by Scripture.”(1) That is to say, Christian communities are communities who practice ethics on some real level because they live by a particular identity, because it is who they are.

Now working within the field of Christian apologetics, one of the comments that I hear most often as a reason for rejecting Christianity is that of its followers. In essence, the difficulty many have with Christianity is disappointment with Christians—whether blatant hypocrisy, disheartening unkindness, or gross abuse of power. I try to address these real disappointments, while entreating the repulsed to see the suggestion in their own logic. Christ stands for something more. I try reasoning that the abuse of a religion must never stand in the way of getting at the truth of a religion. But many will not be swayed. I often leave these conversations saddened not merely because the obstacles seem immovable, but because I fully understand the grievance. The letter of recommendation written upon the countenance of professing Christians is far too often a message that deters.

Like ethics, Christian apologetics is a daily activity writ large upon the life of Christians and Christian communities whether they realize it or not. We live in such a world where one’s choice of religion can seemingly be housed in private rooms separated from the daily choices and ethics by which we live, and sadly Christians often attempt to live similarly. And yet the world somehow knows to hold those who profess belief in Christ accountable to something that indeed cannot be locked in private rooms and hidden from the public. This is both a call to the Christian to uncompartmentalize and a call to the disappointed to reconsider the Christ they seem to sense invites us to something transformative—something worth holding accountable in the first place.

The Christian indeed goes about life confessing, commending, defending, and living the gospel, showing the world an ethic and a religion whether they speak of these things or not. Both Christian ethics and the Christian faith are thus inherently Christian activities, disciplines that must take seriously the responsibility the identity imparts. This is not to say the Christian holds every answer or always lives as one transformed. But the Christian is a person of the Book, commanded to remember the movement of God in history, the nearness of the Spirit today, and the promise of Christ’s return—in every word, in every act, in every private space and public square.

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

(1) Allen Verhey, Remembering Jesus: Christian Community, Scripture, and the Moral Life (Grand Rapids: Eerdman’s, 2002), 54.

Presidential Prayer Team; H.L.M. – His Unforgettable Love

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Dr. Robertson McQuilkin, who served as one of Columbia International University’s longest-serving presidents, received the 2010 Lifetime Service Award from the nation’s largest evangelical mission organizations. Dr. McQuilkin was also a missionary in Japan for more than a decade and is a recognized authority on biblical ethics and world evangelization as well as the author of seven books.

Loving the Lord your God, walking in all his ways, and holding fast to him.  Deuteronomy 11:22

However, Dr. McQuilkin is most noted for his commitment to his late wife, Muriel, who passed away in 2003. When Muriel showed symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, Dr. McQuilkin resigned his distinguished position at the university to be her full-time caregiver. McQuilkin’s act of devotion, which he said stems from the promise to care for her until death, is captured in his book, A Promise Kept: The Story of an Unforgettable Love.

Examples of such sacrificial love seem rare today since relationships are often seen as conditional. Yet God says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) His faithfulness is not dependent on your response. Thank God each day for His unconditional love. Commit to let your words and your actions reflect that to others. Pray also that the nation’s leaders will embrace God’s unforgettable love in their lives.

Recommended Reading: II Timothy 2:3-13

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Power of Beauty

Ravi Z

The Power of Beauty / Just Thinking RZIM publication by Stuart McAllister – March 6, 2013

“Day after day they pour forth speech,” says the psalmist of nature’s glory. “Night after night reveals his greatness” (Psalm 19:2)

As a Scot, I grew up with a love of the countryside. My parents would take us on drives to Loch Lomond, to places like the Trossacks (a beautiful hill and moor area) and many more. These early encounters evoked something that I did not, as a non-believer then, understand. It was the power of beauty itself to speak—not in an audible voice of course, but in some very real sense.

I once drove from Florida to Georgia as the verdant green and array of colors were exploding. I was captivated by trees blooming in all their glory, wisps of white, pink, and other shades all mingling in a medley of splendor, and then surprised by bursts of red (which I learned were Azaleas). It was all quite wonderful! Now lest you think I am some strange, European romantic, I have to say that this “noticing” is a result of the patient, constant, and enthusiastic education granted me by my wife.

She has always loved flowers. In my early days of “serious” ministry and dedication to God, I often wondered how one could be sidetracked by such trivia, such commonalities. Yes, flowers and things pointed out were nice when a passing glance was permitted, but they were not important in my mind. They were not the real thing, the serious thing, the main show!

John Calvin reminded the world that God has given his creatures two books: the book of nature and the Word of God. For the Christian, they are not equal in authority or revelatory power, and yet it is a serious neglect to focus on one at the exclusion of the other.

Perhaps it was age, or more likely a divine breakthrough, but one day I began to notice. These things were splendid; they were so unique. They had such detail, so much grandeur, and they evoked delight and joy. C.S. Lewis describes a childhood encounter with a miniature garden that his brother had made in a tin box. He describes the sense of longing, the experience of what he called joy, though fleeting, which was profound and real. Though he didn’t know what to call it then, Lewis was gradually awakened to the power and role of beauty, an influence he would employ to great effect in his writings.

Similarly, John Calvin reminded the world that God has given his creatures two books: the book of nature and the Word of God. For the Christian, they are not equal in authority or revelatory power, and yet it is a serious neglect to focus on one at the exclusion of the other.

In today’s world, many are sincerely inspired by nature. They love long walks, visits to the country, and absorbing the beauties of the world around. They often make nature an end in itself. They celebrate its magnificence, but are left to see it all as a random outcome of chance and necessity. Some Christians, through neglect, do much the same thing. A number of years ago, some monks in an Austrian monastery had gotten used to overlooking a particular painting that hung in their hallways. One day a visitor looked in astonishment and realized it was a Rubens, the prolific seventeenth-century Flemish Baroque painter. A connection was suddenly made between a work of art and its renowned artist. It caused a sensation, an awakening, not the least of which to its value, which was now known.

The psalmist, the Celts, and many others across the centuries learned to see God’s hand in nature and to celebrate God’s goodness and provision from it. Take a few moments today to look at the birds, contemplate the trees, enjoy a walk, and smell the flowers. Perhaps you may just experience a glimmer of God’s glory too.

Stuart McAllister is vice president of training and special projects at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

Charles Spurgeon – Profit and loss

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“What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Mark 8:36

Suggested Further Reading: Luke 12:15-21

Spiritually man is a great trader—he is trading for his own welfare; he is trading for time and for eternity; he keeps two shops: one shop is kept by an apprentice of his, a rough unseemly hand, of clayey mould, called the body; the other business, which is an infinitely more vast concern, is kept by one that is called “the soul” a spiritual being, who does not traffic upon little things, but who deals with hell or heaven, and trades with the mighty realities of eternity. Now, a merchant would be very unwise who should pay all attention to some small off-hand shop of his, and take no account whatever of a large establishment. And he would, indeed, be negligent, who should very carefully jot down every trifle of the expenditure of his own household, but should never think of reckoning the expenses of some vast concern that may be hanging on his hands. But the most of men are just as foolish—they estimate the profits (as they conceive them to be) which are gained in that small corner shop called the body, but they too seldom reckon up the awful loss which is brought about by a negligence of the soul’s concerns in the great matters of eternity. Let me beseech you, my brethren, while you are not careless of the body, as, indeed, you ought not to be, seeing that it is, in the case of believers, the temple of the Holy Spirit, to take more especial care of your souls. Decorate the tenement, but do not suffer the inhabitant to die of starvation; do not paint the ship while you are letting the crew perish for want of stores on board. Look to your soul, as well as to your body; to the life, as well as to that by which you live.

For meditation: We can be so bodily minded that we are no heavenly use

(1 Timothy 4:8 gives the right balance).

Sermon no. 92

7 July (Preached 6 July 1856)

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Riches in Glory

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“And it is He who will supply all your needs from His riches in glory because of what Christ Jesus has done for us” (Philippians 4:19).

God has faithfully met the needs of this great worldwide ministry since its inception. He met our needs when there were only two of us – Vonette and I – on the staff. He meets our needs today (1983) with more than 16,000 full-time and associate staff members serving in most communities of America and in 151 other countries.

He met our needs when our budget was a few thousand dollars a year. He continues to meet our needs when our budget is approximately $100 million a year. During this exciting, incredibly rich and rewarding adventure with our gracious Lord, we have never had an extra dollar at the end of any day. We get only what we need – and no more.

During these years, there have been many dramatic demonstrations of His faithfulness, when He has led us to undertake major and frequently expensive projects. He has always supplied the funds to pay for what He orders. We have learned many lessons concerning God’s faithfulness.

First, whatever He leads us to do He will enable us to do by supplying the manpower, the finances and the know-how – oftentimes dramatically – if we continue to trust and obey Him.

Second, “we have not because we ask not” (James 4:2 KJV).

Third, we do not receive when our motives are impure.

But of this we can be sure: if our hearts are pure, our motives are pure and we do what we do for the glory of God – to help fulfill the Great Commission through the winning and discipling of men for Christ throughout the world -we can always be assured that God will supply our needs. Not to do so would be a contradiction of His attributes, for the idea of the Great Commission began with our Lord.

Bible Reading: II Corinthians 9:6-11

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will examine my heart to determine my motives and relate my needs to the scriptural commands with the confidence that God will supply all of my needs from His riches in glory, because of what Christ Jesus has done for me. I will thank Him in advance for meeting my needs, and encourage others to trust Him also. This is a part of my commitment to supernatural living.

Presidential Prayer Team; G.C. – Best Practices

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One of the hottest and fastest growing industries today is “service” businesses, especially those providing assistance to the aging or elderly. From grocery shopping to dog walking, private health aides to lawn service, home beauty treatments to personal readers; every necessity or convenience is for hire these days. Experts agree the key for success for these or any business is one thing … how well the customer is treated.

Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf. Colossians 1:7

Today’s verse mentions one of the Bible’s many servants, recognizing his efforts…and showing the importance of service. In Scripture, there are at least 38 verses dedicated to exactly how we are to treat “one another.” They are like a “best practices” plan in managing relationships for the follower of Christ. At first glance, they seem to be reminders for simple things: love one another, encourage one another, build each other up, forgive one another. While simple in concept, many prove to be challenging in practice.

As America’s population ages, many people find themselves in need of assistance. How are you doing in loving and supporting those in your family, your circle of friends, and your neighborhood? Remember, God’s love is never seems clearer than in how you treat others.

Recommended Reading: I John 4:7-12

Max Lucado – On 9/12 We Ran to God

Max LucadoOn 9/12 We Ran to God

Originally published September 12, 2011 on FoxNews.com

On 9/11 we ran for cover. On 9/12 we ran to God. Churches overflowed. Synagogues were packed. Sanctuaries and temples swelled to capacity. Four thousand people gathered in a Manhattan Cathedral. A New York City church filled and emptied six times in one day. Street vendors were replaced by prayer counselors who stood beneath banners that read: “We will pray for you.”

Across the country, congregations hastily assembled post-attack prayer services. We did in San Antonio, Texas. “Come and Pray for Peace” our outdoor sign invited. You would have thought it was Easter Sunday. Standing Room Only.

Ironic. Usama Bin Laden intended to bring America to her knees, and he did—we prayed. What does this say about us? At least this much: we are a spiritual people. For all our talk about secularism, self-reliance and self-sufficiency, where we do we turn in turbulence? We turn to God.

We find Him to be—to use the old coinage—“an anchor of the soul” (Heb. 6:10). Everyone anchors to something. A retirement account, a resume. A person or a position. “When the storm comes,” they say, “this will get me through.”

On 9/11 we turned to the sturdiest anchor of all: God. Only He promises to secure our most precious commodity—our souls. When God breathed into Adam, he gave him more than oxygen; he gave him an eternal essence. He gave you the same. Because of your soul, you wrestle with right and wrong, value the lives of others and get choked up at the singing of our national anthem. The soul is that part of you dares to believe that good comes out of evil, Right still sits on the throne and the next life will make sense of this one.

This world can be tough on a soul. Yours needs an anchor: a double pointed cast-iron hooking point that is sturdier than the storm.

Storms still rage. “Irene” wreaks havoc and earthquakes shake our national monuments. Economy feels as sturdy as paper-mache. God never promised a life with no storms. But He did promise to meet us in the midst of them. storms. He met us ten years ago. He does still.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

Here’s hoping we never have to face another 9/11. But if we do, I pray that you’ve secured your soul to God—the anchor of the soul.

Charles Stanley – Condemned No More

Charles Stanley

Romans 8:33-39

Every person is born under condemnation. Because of Adam and Eve’s rebellious decisions in the garden of Eden, each person born since then has come into the world with an inherent sin nature. Consequently, everyone needs a Savior, and God has graciously and lovingly provided one in His Son Jesus Christ. Those who reject Him remain under condemnation. Their guilty verdict has not been overturned, so they owe the penalty for violating God’s laws.

Perhaps this seems unfair to you. It is important to remember that God has always facilitated our unfettered communion with Him, even though He alone is perfectly holy and righteous. The reason He created Adam and Eve with free will is that He didn’t want us to be robots—He wanted to enjoy real love and fellowship with His children.

But those first human beings fell because they made poor decisions, as any of us would have. How wonderful that God offered to restore our relationship with Him through Christ’s atoning sacrifice for our sins. He is the Creator, so we truly have no right to question His plan. And yet the Lord has been magnanimous and amazingly loving throughout history. We deserve nothing, but He’s given us everything—including access to Him at any time.

 

Instead of condemnation, eternal security is ours once we place trust in Jesus as Savior. Praise God! We’ve been liberated from the penalty of our sin and are free to live forever in Christ’s nurturing and instructive grace.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – An Unobstructed View

Ravi Z

 

 

 

 

An Unobstructed View

by J.M. Njoroge on March 6, 2013

What a relief to remember that no amount of expertise on our part can ever diminish the glory of God or cause us to outlive God’s fatherly indulgence.

One of the most humbling moments in my life happened during a soccer match. At a critical moment in the game, I had to decide whether to go it alone or let a better positioned teammate attempt an almost guaranteed goal—a rare treat in soccer. Sadly, the split seconds available for the decision were enough for my ego to override my better judgment. Unwilling to pass on the glory of my scoring the winning goal, I made the wrong decision and lost the ball, costing the team an important game in the process.

An unobstructed view of our lives reveals the fact that we all owe debts that we can never repay. We will never begin to worship God until we recognize that we are bankrupt debtors, for an attitude of humility is an indispensable impetus to worship.

Ironically, I am inclined to believe that the consequences for me would have been much worse if I had managed to score the goal. Though quite humiliating, that terrible mistake gave me a glimpse into my own soul in a way that might have been impossible if I had actually led the team to a win. While it is hard to assert our egos in the midst of failure and hardship, the ugliness of our self-centeredness can be easily camouflaged in the motives and methods of our success, leaving us blind to our own insuperable finitude. When our pursuit for success is severed from a healthy sense of our chronic indebtedness, achieving success can instill in us a measure of entitlement foreign to our true identity. Such a pitfall is even more consequential in our spiritual lives since it is harder to distinguish between self-serving motives and genuine zeal for God. Unlike the gaping sins of the prodigal son, the dutiful son’s alienation from the father comes neatly packaged in obedience and commitment, the very treasures some of us long to lay before our heavenly Father.

But everything we know about ourselves and our world speaks loudly against this tendency to self-sufficiency. As human babies, we all begin our lives at the highest level of dependence, and none of us really outgrows all degrees of dependence. We depend on parents, teachers, peers, coaches, and others to open doors for us in life. From the inventions that give us comfort in this world to the young soldiers who give their lives in the battlefields to protect our livelihoods, an unobstructed view of our lives reveals the fact that we all owe debts that we can never repay. We will never begin to worship God until we recognize that we are bankrupt debtors, for an attitude of humility is an indispensable impetus to worship.

In spite of the fact that Jesus prayed fervently for unity and love among his followers, the visible church is often a conglomeration of competing factions, each equally convinced of its solitary possession of divine favor. Those who seek signs and wonders through the Holy Spirit are usually suspicious of those who emphasize exegetical approaches to the Scriptures. Christian scholars are sometimes content just to talk to each other, and the uncanny tendency of apologists to sniff out what they deem rotten doctrine is not always appreciated.

As a result, not only do we squander valuable benefits of dedicated teamwork within the household of faith, we also lose our edge in a broken world. Despite the monumental gains made in biblical research and translation, biblical illiteracy is still a high-ranking concern, and the frequent outbursts of oft-unfounded accusations from our detractors succeed in rattling the cage for not a few followers of Christ. While outcasts and sinners braved insults to seek refuge in Jesus, they bolt from the divided efforts of Christians and reject God because they mistake us for God.

Probably the best antidote to such spiritual calluses among loyal laborers in God’s vineyard is a healthy appreciation of the all-sufficiency of our Father and our exalted status as his humble children—a theological gem that is beautifully captured by C.S. Lewis in his book Prince Caspian.

When being right becomes an end in itself, we lose sight of our own need for God’s grace—a need that would be there even if we were faultless. Instead of recognizing that orthodoxy, though indispensable, is only the map of a journey which we must travel towards God, confidence in our knowledge of the truth becomes the missing link in our quest for self-sufficiency. We partition God’s comprehensive program for his people into various segments and guard our turfs with Herculean zeal. With a little practice, we become so adept at applying our preferred standards that we can accomplish the feat with our eyes closed. Having zeroed in on what we are certain to be God’s most vexing pet peeves, we stand poised not only to pronounce the verdict on those who offend but also to pound the gavel on God’s behalf. Before long, we, like Elijah, become convinced that we are the only ones who are faithful to God while all of his other children have lost their way.

Probably the best antidote to such spiritual calluses among loyal laborers in God’s vineyard is a healthy appreciation of the all-sufficiency of our Father and our exalted status as his humble children—a theological gem that is beautifully captured by C.S. Lewis in his book Prince Caspian. When the children are reunited with Aslan after many years, Lucy expresses surprise that Aslan looks bigger. Aslan responds, “I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”1 What a relief to remember that no amount of expertise on our part can ever diminish the glory of God or cause us to outlive God’s fatherly indulgence!

Pure, unadulterated motives may lie beyond the reach of even the most devout among us, but the intentional recognition of our humble place in deference to the majesty of our Maker is an indispensable ingredient in our service to God and others. It was neither out of false piety nor enslavement to sin that both Daniel and Nehemiah included themselves in their profound prayers of forgiveness on behalf of their sinful people (see Daniel 9 and Nehemiah 1:6). While I do not subscribe to the relativistic “never judge anyone” maxim that greases the engine of the spirit of the age, I am also convinced that “The one aim of the call of God is the satisfaction of God, not a call to do something for Him.” 2

 

J.M. Njoroge is member of the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

1C. S. Lewis, The Complete Chronicles of Narnia (New York: HarperCollins, 1998), 259.

2Oswald Chambers, as quoted by Os Guinness in The Call: Finding Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2003), 41.

John MacArthur – Christ: The Precious Cornerstone

 

“Coming to [Christ] as to a living stone, rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God” (1 Pet. 2:4).

I once read about a conversation in the Louvre Museum in Paris. One of the curators of the museum, a man with great appreciation for art, overheard two men discussing a masterpiece. One man said to the other, “I don’t think much of that painting.” The curator, feeling obliged to reply to the man’s statement, said to him, “Dear sir, if I may interrupt, that painting is not on trial; you are. The quality of that painting has already been established. Your disapproval simply demonstrates the frailty of your measuring capability.”

Similarly, Jesus is not on trial before men; men are on trial before Him. He has already been approved by the Father. Those who arrogantly dismiss Him as unworthy of their devotion simply demonstrate their inability to recognize the most precious treasure of all.

Peter said,”This is contained in Scripture: ‘Behold I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, and he who believes in Him shall not be disappointed.’ This precious value, then, is for you who believe. But for those who disbelieve, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, this became the very corner stone,’ and, ‘a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense'” (1 Pet. 2:6- 8). By God’s standards, Jesus is the perfect cornerstone. But the leaders of Israel had faulty standards of measurement. They inspected Him closely but rejected Him because He didn’t fit their concept of a Savior. Sadly, millions of men and women throughout history have followed their lead.

As you tell others about Christ, many will evaluate Him by the wrong standard and reject Him. Others will evaluate Him according to God’s standard and find Him precious beyond measure. In either case be a faithful witness, knowing that someday His full value will be proclaimed by all (Phil. 2:10- 11).

Suggestions for Prayer:

Make a list of Christ’s attributes that are especially meaningful to you. Use each attribute as a focal point of prayer and worship.

For Further Study:

Read Acts 4:1-13, noting how Peter applied the principles found in 1 Peter 2:4-8 to the Jewish leaders.

Presidential Prayer Team; C.P. – Hope Remains

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Reconciliation. The very word is like a breath of fresh air. Once friends, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams became bitter enemies. After about a decade, their friend Dr. Benjamin Rush helped them reconcile. After enjoying a rekindled friendship for 15 years, Adams and Jefferson died on the same day, in their respective homes, on the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

They shall be my people, and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness.  Zechariah 8:8

Zechariah 8 is about reconciliation between God and the Jewish people. After a time of leaving the Israelites to fend for themselves because of their obstinacy toward Him, God promised to return to them in faithfulness and righteousness. In the same way, sin separates people from God today, but He provides reconciliation in His Son (Romans 5:10).

This nation, as a whole, is guilty of many offenses against God. But as Israel had and has hope in the Lord, so does the United States. This Independence Day, pray for God to open the eyes of the nation’s leaders to receive the gift of reconciliation in Christ and that He’d continue extending mercy and favor to the USA.

Recommended Reading: Romans 5:1-11  

Max Lucado – Have a Joyful 4th of July!

Max Lucado

As we celebrate our country’s freedom on this 4th of July, may you be encouraged by this level-headed instruction from the Bible:

The Apostle Paul wants young Timothy to lead the church in a godly fashion. His first command? “pray for all people.” The flagship assignment of the church is prayer. Feed the hungry? Counsel the confused? Teach the lost? Absolutely. But first, we pray. The primary activity of a local church is intercession and worship.

Specifically, we “pray for rulers and for all who have authority….” This includes our president, vice-president, all elected and appointed officials.  We ask God to use them to facilitate a haven of quiet and peace where worship can abound.  We pray so that “…we can have quiet and peaceful lives full of worship and respect for God.”

Remarkable. A peaceful society depends upon the prayers of the church. If we do not have a peaceful society–where worship and respect for God can flourish–what is the solution? Better government policy? A different president? New Congress? No, the first solution is a praying church.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray…then I will hear from heaven.” (II Chron. 7:14 NIV)

Presidential Prayer Team; J.R. – Check Your Alignment

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Companies selling automobile tires love to boast about the mileage you can get out of their products – something they call “tread life warranties.” But warranties can be voided if customers fail to recognize they have responsibilities, too. If your car is out of alignment, for example, tires will wear unevenly and the guarantee will not apply. Warranty agreements caution that the tire manufacturer will not cover “irregular wear due to mechanical condition of the vehicle.”

He who blesses himself in the land shall bless himself by the God of truth. Isaiah 65:16

At first glance, today’s scripture reference looks like a guarantee of an unlimited blessings bonanza: anything you desire, God will provide. But the surrounding passages specify an obligation on your part, too. You must first be “in alignment” with God’s purpose for you…understanding and doing His will.

Before asking God for His blessings today, check the condition of your heart. And as you pray for your nation’s leaders, ask the Lord to help each of them to recognize and remember that America’s greatness is God-given, made possible only because many of our Founders and other Godly leaders through the years have been aligned with the truth of God’s Word.

Recommended Reading: Proverbs 3:1-12 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Lived Experience

Ravi Z

Traveling by airplane, though routine for many people, is still one of the most jarring and disruptive experiences for me. It’s not the fact that I am squeezed into the tiniest space where my knees hit my shoulders, or that I am breathing in recycled air in a confined space filled with the germs of 220 other passengers, or that I am shocked by the generous offer of both peanuts and pretzels by a sympathetic flight attendant. No, flight is disruptive to me because one minute I can be in one geographic space and within a few hours land on the other side of the country or the world. Airplane flight is jarring because it suddenly drops one into an entirely different location with unfamiliar people, geography, and experiences in just a few hours.

This kind of dislocation is not just physical, but emotional and psychological as well. To be sure, there are always similarities even between different cultures and regions because humans are humans. But when traveling and visiting a place only for a period of time, and when one has arrived halfway around the world in just a few hours, the disruption of difference is experienced keenly. What for me are entirely foreign sights, smells, tastes, customs and tones are the everyday reality of those who inhabit that space. I feel my own strangeness, my own difference, even as I try to connect to those whose lands I temporarily inhabit.

Of course, one doesn’t have to be traveling by airplane to be assaulted by the dramatic differences in the lived experience of human beings. My interactions with a next-door neighbor, good friend or total stranger seated next to me on the bus or train could be as different with regards to our life experience as circles are to squares. The differences can be subtle or shocking. Yet, reality takes on shapes and contours uniquely defined and depicted by those experiences, and they are as real for the person who lives within them as the atmosphere that surrounds them.

Travel exposes the diversity of human experience and the power those lived experiences. Travel can also disrupt those lived experiences I might be tempted to assume are universal. One is challenged by encounters with those who have different experiences and as such reality can seem to be disrupted. These encounters can be so disruptive that we are often tempted to dismiss one another’s experiences without really giving a hearing.

One of the most compelling aspects of the Christian narrative is the assertion that God inhabited human experience in Jesus. That habitation had a context: ancient Palestine, Jewish male, poor family, religiously observant, Roman occupied. Given this assertion at the heart of Christian faith, isn’t something profound being said about God’s value of lived human experience? In all its complexity and diversity, in all its foibles and folly, in all its weakness and brokenness, Jesus takes on human experience by becoming one of us, by living in a time and a culture and a place that shaped his own experience of the world.

Christians believe that in addition to giving human beings a picture of the nature of God in his very person, Jesus also paints a picture of what it means to be human. He shows us what it means to inhabit human experience while depending on a God who loves him. Perhaps this understanding is behind what is expressed in the biblical writings that Jesus “learned obedience,” that “he grew in stature and in favor with God and man” that he grew tired thirsty, and weary, and that he wept tears mixed with bloody sweat because his soul was troubled to the point of death.

In every important way, Jesus shared our experience; and in his humanity tabernacled in human likeness, God dwelt alongside humanity. Not removed from us or a distant outsider, God took on lived experience in the man from Nazareth. Rather than dismissing human experience, God took an inside look through Jesus.

 

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

Presidential Prayer Team; J.K. – Intimidated or Assured

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Pastor Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen, now serves an eight-year, veritable death sentence in Tehran’s brutal Evin prison because of his faith; he turned from Islam to Christianity. He visited family in Iran numerous times, but his witness finally caused the government to imprison him. Appeals for his release have gone unanswered.

But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. II Thessalonians 3:3

Pastor Saeed testified of his faith…a testimony based on actual, historical events concerning Jesus’ death and resurrection. After Christ’s ascension into heaven, His disciples met to choose a replacement for Judas; they wanted someone who had been with them the whole time that Jesus was among them so his testimony would be true. Each disciple endured torture and each – except John – met death because of his witness for Christ. In his later years, John was punished with exile to the island of Patmos.

The scene may change, but the attitudes and actions of those who do not believe, leaders and citizens alike, do not. What is your testimony to them? Do not be ashamed of the gospel of Christ. Do not be intimidated. Be assured. God will carry you through every situation. Pray for His leading.

Recommended Reading: 1 Peter 4:7-19