Tag Archives: Jesus

Alistair Begg – Why Do My Prayers Go Unanswered?

Alistair Begg

Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you.

Isaiah 30:18

God often delays in answering prayer. We have several instances of this in the Bible. Jacob did not get the blessing from the angel until near the dawn of day-he had to wrestle all night for it. The poor woman of Syrophoenicia received no answer for a long while. Paul asked the Lord three times for “a thorn . . . in the flesh”1 to be taken from him, and he received no assurance that it would be removed, but instead a promise that God’s grace would be sufficient for him.

If you have been knocking at the gate of mercy and have received no answer, shall I tell you why the mighty Maker has not opened the door and let you in?

Our Father has personal reasons for keeping us waiting. Sometimes it is to show His power and His sovereignty, so that we may learn that God has a right to give or to withhold.

More often the delay is for our benefit. You are perhaps kept waiting in order that your desires may be more fervent. God knows that delay will quicken and increase desire, and that if He keeps you waiting, you will see your need more clearly and will seek more diligently, and that you will treasure the mercy all the more on account of the wait.

There may also be something wrong in you that needs to be removed before the joy of the Lord is given. Perhaps your views of the gospel plan are confused, or you may be relying upon yourself instead of trusting simply and entirely in the Lord Jesus. Or God makes you wait for a while so that He may display the riches of His grace more abundantly in the end.

Your prayers are all filed in heaven, and if not immediately answered they are certainly not forgotten, but in a little while they will be fulfilled to your delight and satisfaction. Do not allow despair to make you silent, but continue to present your requests to God.

1 2 Corinthians 12:7

 

 

Charles Spurgeon – The Exodus

CharlesSpurgeon

“And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the self same day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.” Exodus 12:41

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:1-11

It is our firm conviction and increasing belief, that the historical books of Scripture were intended to teach us spiritual things by types and figures. We believe that every portion of Scripture history is not only a faithful transcript of what did actually happen, but also a shadow of what happens spiritually in the dealings of God with his people, or in the dispensations of his grace towards the world at large. We do not look upon the historical books of Scripture as being mere rolls of history, such as profane authors might have written, but we regard them as being most true and infallible records of the past, and also most bright and glorious foreshadowings of the future, or else most wondrous metaphors and marvellous illustrations of things which are verily received among us, and most truly felt in the Christian heart. We may be wrong—we believe we are not; at any rate, the very error has given us instruction, and our mistake has afforded us comfort. We look upon the book of Exodus as being a book of types of the deliverances which God will give to his elect people; not only as a history of what he has done, in bringing them out of Egypt by smiting the first-born, leading them through the Red Sea, and guiding them through the wilderness, but also as a picture of his faithful dealings with all his people, whom by the blood of Christ he separates from the Egyptians, and by his strong and mighty hand takes out of the house of their bondage and out of the land of their slavery.

For meditation: Are you getting as much out of the Old Testament as you should? It is full of the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 24:27)! While it may be wrong and confusing to see types in every verse or action, if you major on the types which are identified and applied in the New Testament you cannot go far wrong.

Sermon no. 55

9 December (1855)

 

John MacArthur – The Sustaining Power of Christ

John MacArthur

“[Christ] upholds all things by the word of His power” (Heb. 1:3).

We base our entire lives on the constancy of physical laws. When something like an earthquake disrupts the normal condition or operation of things even a little, the consequences are often disastrous. Can you imagine what would happen if Jesus Christ relinquished His sustaining power over the laws of the universe for it is He in whom “all things hold together” (Col. 1:17)? We would go out of existence, our atoms scattering throughout the galaxy.

If He suspended the laws of gravity only for a brief moment, we would lose all points of reference. If any of the physical laws varied slightly, we could not exist. Our food could turn to poison; we ourselves could drift out into space or get flooded by the ocean tides. Countless other horrible things could happen.

But the universe remains in balance because Jesus Christ sustains and monitors all its movements and interworkings. He is the principle of cohesion. He is not the deist’s “watchmaker” creator, who made the world, set it in motion, and has not bothered with it since. The reason the universe is a cosmos instead of chaos–an ordered and reliable system instead of an erratic and unpredictable muddle–is the upholding power of Jesus Christ.

The entire universe hangs on the arm of Jesus. His unsearchable wisdom and boundless power are manifested in governing the universe. And He upholds it all by the word of His power. The key to the Genesis creation is in two words: “God said.” God spoke and it happened.

When I contemplate Christ’s power to uphold the universe, I’m drawn to the wonderful promise of Philippians 1:6: “I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” When Christ begins a work in your heart, He doesn’t end there. He continually sustains it until the day He will take you into God’s very presence. A life, just as a universe, that is not sustained by Christ is chaos.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Ask God to remind you of Christ’s sustaining power when you endure your next trial.

For Further Study:

Read Job 38-39 for a greater appreciation of what Christ does to uphold the universe.

 

Joyce Meyer – Power for Living

Joyce meyer

So be subject to God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you.

—James 4:7

It is not going to do us one bit of good to try to resist the devil if we are not going to submit to God, because the power to resist the devil is found in submitting to God. If you want to keep Satan under your feet, you have to walk in obedience. Don’t have any known disobedience, any purposeful disobedience in your life.

Do I ever disobey God? Yes, but I don’t do it on purpose. I might lose my temper and say something that I shouldn’t. But as soon as God starts dealing with me about it, I do what He says. I have a reverential fear of God in my life, and I think we need a lot more of that. I believe that God is God, and I believe He means business. If He tells me to do something, He means it, and when He tells me not to do something, He means it. Yes, we live under grace, but grace is not an excuse to sin; grace is the power to live a holy life. Disobedience is one of Satan’s favorite entrances by which to gradually draw us into a web of sin that is devastating for us in the end.

Lord, I know that there is power for living today as I submit my life to You. Thank You for the grace that empowers me to walk in obedience. Amen.

 

Greg Laurie – Why the Virgin Birth of Jesus?

greglaurie

“That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” —John 8:24

Larry King once said that if he could choose one person to interview from the course of human history, he would choose to interview Jesus Christ. King said that he would like to ask Jesus “if He was indeed virgin-born.” He added, “The answer to that question would define history for me.” Larry King understands that the Virgin Birth is a big deal.

If you are a Bible-believing Christian, then you can’t dismiss what the Scriptures teach on this topic. I would even take it further and say that if you don’t believe that Jesus was supernaturally conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary, then you can’t really be a Christian.

This is an essential part of Christian doctrine. If Christ was not conceived in the womb of Mary by the Holy Spirit, if His biological father was indeed Joseph, then He was a sinner. And if He was a sinner, then His death on the cross did not atone for my sins or yours.

The fact is that because Jesus was supernaturally conceived in Mary’s womb, He was fully God, yet He was also fully man. Jesus said, “Unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). In other words, “If you don’t believe that I am God, then you are not really a believer.”

I AM is God’s own statement about Himself. When Moses wanted to know what to say when people asked who had sent him, God told him, “I AM WHO I AM. Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14).

That is why the Virgin Birth is such an essential teaching. Christ was not God because He was virgin-born; He was virgin-born because He was God.

 

 

Charles Stanley – The Guidance of the Holy Spirit

Charles Stanley

How does the Holy Spirit guide us? How much does He control our actions? Does He still speak to believers, or was personal communication only for Biblical times?

God does not want us to be confused about this vital area. In talking to His disciples about the Holy Spirit, Jesus said, “When He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come” (John 16:13, emphasis added).

Let’s consider four key truths about the leadership of the Holy Spirit:

1. The Holy Spirit will guide us.

Jesus doesn’t promise that the Holy Spirit will control us. He says He will guide us.

Granted, there are times when I wish the Holy Spirit would control me. For instance, when I am tempted. Or when I become so task oriented that I become insensitive. Or when it’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon and I need to study, but everything in me wants to grab my camera and head for the mountains. Life would be much easier if the Holy Spirit would take control of me.

But He is our guide, not our controller. We never lose our ability to choose to follow His leading. As a result, we are always responsible for our words and actions.

2. The Holy Spirit is a trustworthy guide.

The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, helps believers discern between what is true and what is not; what is wise and what is foolish; what is best and what is simply OK. Each day is full of decisions. Most of our decisions concern issues not clearly spelled out in the Scriptures, for example, where to attend school, whether to hire a particular applicant, how much to budget for vacation, on and on it goes.

As you are inundated with the details of everyday living, the Holy Spirit will guide you. He will give you that extra on-the-spot sense of discernment you need to make both big and small decisions. As you develop a greater sensitivity to His guidance, you will worry much less about the decisions you make. Why? Because the Holy Spirit is a trustworthy guide.

3. The Holy Spirit is God’s mouthpiece to believers.

The Holy Spirit does not speak on His own. Like Christ, this member of the Trinity has willingly submitted to the authority of the Father. Everything He communicates to us is directly from the Father: “He will not speak on His own initiative” (John 16:13).

Our heavenly Father has chosen to communicate to His children through the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:12). He is God’s mouthpiece to believers. When the Father chooses to speak directly to you, it will be through the Holy Spirit.

When you think about it, this really makes perfect sense. After all, where does the Holy Spirit reside? In you! And in me! Therefore, He is the perfect candidate for communicating God’s will to Christians. Living inside us, He has direct access to our minds, emotions, and consciences.

4. The Holy Spirit speaks.

The question of whether God still speaks today is one that has spawned numerous books, articles, and lectures. It is not my purpose to present a tightly woven argument about why I believe He still speaks today. Suffice it to say, I do believe God, through the Holy Spirit, communicates directly with believers. No, I don’t write these revelations in the back of my Bible and call them inspired. Neither do I run around telling everybody what “God told me.”

My experience is that the Holy Spirit, at the prompting of the heavenly Father, still communicates with believers today. How does He do that? The Holy Spirit indwells me. He doesn’t need my ears. What He needs is a listening heart and a renewed mind.

The book of Acts records several occasions when the Holy Spirit spoke to Paul and Peter (11:12; 13:2; 16:6; 20:23). It can’t be denied that those men had a special gift and call on their lives. But the same Holy Spirit who indwelt those men indwells every believer. Just as they needed divine direction at critical times in their lives, we need it today.

In his letters to the Christians in Rome and Galatia, the Apostle Paul refers to believers as “led by the Spirit” (Rom. 8:14; Gal. 5:18). If we are going to be led by the Holy Spirit, we can only assume that He is willing (and able) to communicate with us.

How does God communicate with us today? The Lord speaks through the voice of His Spirit, who resides within us. We may have to seek His face for a season; other times, we can sense His direction immediately. No matter what, the Holy Spirit is a trustworthy guide.

Adapted from “The Wonderful Spirit-Filled Life,” by Charles F. Stanley, 1992.

 

Related Resources

Related Video

Our Constant Companion

We all need a companion—someone who helps when we’re in trouble, laughs with us in good times, and weeps with us through pain. This is why Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be our Comforter. In this message, Dr. Stanley shares how the this third Person of the Trinity works within us. (Watch Our Constant Companion.)

 

 

 

Our Daily Bread — Serious Fear

Our Daily Bread

Luke 2:8-20

Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy. —Luke 2:10

After weeks of preparation by the children’s choir, the night had finally arrived for our annual Christmas musical in 1983. The costumed children began filing into the auditorium when suddenly we heard a ruckus at the back door. My wife and I turned to look and saw our own little Matt. Sobbing loudly and with a look of sheer terror on his face, he had a death grip on the door handle. He refused to enter the auditorium. After much negotiating, the director finally told him he didn’t have to go on stage. Instead, Matt sat with us, and soon his fears began to subside.

Although we don’t usually identify Christmas as a time of fear, there was plenty of it on the night of Christ’s birth. Luke says, “Behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid” (Luke 2:9). The sight of the angelic messenger was more than the shepherds could process. But the angel reassured them: “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people” (v.10).

In a world full of fear, we need to remember that Jesus came to be the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6). We desperately need His peace. As we look to Him, He will ease our fears and calm our hearts. —Bill Crowder

Hail, the heaven-born Prince of Peace!

Hail the Sun of righteousness!

Light and life to all He brings,

Risen with healing in His wings. —Wesley

God incarnate is the end of fear. —F. B. Meyer

Bible in a year: Daniel 8-10; 3 John

 

Alistair Begg – Walk With Christ in White

Alistair Begg

Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.

Revelation 3:4

We may understand this to refer to justification. “They will walk in white”; that is, they will enjoy a constant sense of their own justification by faith; they will understand that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to them, that they have all been washed and made whiter than the newly-fallen snow.

Again, it refers to joy and gladness, for white robes were holiday dress among the Jews. They who “have not soiled their garments” will have their faces always bright; they will understand what Solomon meant when he said, “Go, eat your bread in joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do. Let your garments be always white.”1

The one who is accepted by God will wear white garments of joy and gladness while they walk in sweet communion with the Lord Jesus. Why are there so many doubts, so much misery and mourning? It is because so many believers spoil their garments with sin and error, and as a result they lose the joy of their salvation and the comfortable fellowship of the Lord Jesus; they do not walk here below in white.

The promise also refers to walking in white before the throne of God. Those who have not soiled their garments here will most certainly walk in white in heaven, where the white-robed crowd sings perpetual hallelujahs to the Most High. They will possess joys inconceivable, happiness beyond a dream, bliss that imagination knows not, blessedness that even the stretch of desire has not reached.

“Those whose way is blameless”2 shall have all this-not of merit, nor of works, but of grace. They shall walk with Christ in white, for He has made them “worthy.” In His sweet company they will drink from the fountains of living waters.

1 Ecclesiastes 9:7-8

2 Psalm 119:1

 

 

Charles Spurgeon – The feast of the Lord

CharlesSpurgeon

“The governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.” John 2:9-10

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 73

If the Christian has the best wine to come, why should he envy the unbeliever? David did; he was discontented when he saw the prosperity of the wicked, and you and I are often tempted to do it; but you know what we ought to say when we see the wicked prosper, when we see them happy and full of delights of sinful pleasure. We ought to say, “My good wine is to come; I can bear that you should have your turn; my turn will come afterwards; I can be put off with these things, and lie with Lazarus at the gate, while the dogs lick my sores; my turn is to come, when the angels shall carry me into Abraham’s bosom, and your turn is to come too, when in hell you lift up your eyes, being in torments.” Christian, what more shall I say to you?—though there be a thousand lessons to learn from this, the best wine is kept to the last. Take heed to yourself, that you also keep your good wine until the last. The further you go on the road, seek to bring to your Saviour the more acceptable sacrifice. You had little faith years ago: man! Bring out the good wine now! Seek to have more faith. Your Master is better to you every day and you shall see him to be the best of all Masters and friends. Seek to be better to your Master every day; be more generous to his cause, more active to labour for him, more kind to his people, more diligent in prayer; and take heed that as you grow in years you grow in grace, so that when you come at last to the river Jordan, and the Master shall give you the best wine, you may also give to him the best wine.

For meditation: In which direction is your Christian life going at the moment—forwards (Philippians 3:13), backwards (Galatians 5:7) or nowhere (1 Corinthians 3:1-3)?

Sermon no. 226

8 December (Preached 28 November 1858)

 

Joyce Meyer – Honor God’s Voice Above All

Joyce meyer

[Most] blessed is the man who believes in, trusts in, and relies on the Lord, and whose hope and confidence the Lord is.—Jeremiah 17:7

One attitude that welcomes the presence of God into our lives is the attitude that honors Him above everyone and everything else. Our attitudes need to say, “God, no matter what anyone else tells me, no matter what I think myself, no matter what my own plan is, if I clearly hear You say something and I know it’s You, I will honor You—and honor what You say—above everything else.”

Sometimes we give more consideration to what people tell us than to what God says. If we pray diligently and hear from God, and then start asking people around us what they think, we honor their human opinions above God’s. Such an attitude will prevent our being able to consistently hear God’s voice. If we are ever going to develop an ability to hear from God and be led by His Spirit as a way of life, we have to stop listening to so many opinions from so many people and begin trusting the wisdom God deposits in our hearts. There is a time to receive good counsel, but needing the approval of people will keep us out of the will of God.

The devil wants us to think we are not capable of hearing from God, but God’s Word says that is not true. The Holy Spirit dwells inside of us because God wants us to be led by the Spirit in a personal way and to hear His voice for ourselves as He leads and guides us.

In the verse for today, God says we will be blessed when we look to Him. According to Jeremiah 17:5–6, severe consequences come to those who trust in the frailty of mere men and women, but blessed are those who trust in and honor the Lord. Good things happen if we listen to God. He wants to be our strength and we must honor His Word above all else.

God’s word for you today: Hear what others have to say, but listen to God.

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Will Preserve Me

dr_bright

“And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (2 Timothy 4:18, KJV).

Do you and I have that same kind of confidence in God?

Note that the apostle Paul did not mention the word deathhere, for earlier verses in this chapter reveal that he expected to die – and he was ready. But he was assured that God would keep Paul from apostasy, and from displaying an improper spirit at the time of his death.

In the same way, we can ask the Lord today, in faith believing, for that inner peace we need to face up to all that He allows to happen in our lives. His perfect peace is sufficient for every testing and trial and trouble and temptation.

By keeping us from every evil work, He likewise enables us to reach His heavenly kingdom.

An appropriate time for praise to God is when a person knows he is about to be brought to heaven, and Paul introduces such a doxology here: “to whom be glory for ever and ever.”

The truth is clear: we are protected on every side, and even at death we can sing the doxology, for we are about to meet the altogether lovely One in His heavenly home. To remain in constant fellowship with our heavenly Father will maintain a spirit of joy, love and peace in our lives that nothing can shake.

Bible Reading: Psalm 3:1-6

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Like the apostle Paul, I will confidently expect God to protect me from every evil work and enable me to live the supernatural life for His glory.

 

Joyce Meyer – Honor God’s Voice Above All

Joyce meyer

[Most] blessed is the man who believes in, trusts in, and relies on the Lord, and whose hope and confidence the Lord is.—Jeremiah 17:7

One attitude that welcomes the presence of God into our lives is the attitude that honors Him above everyone and everything else. Our attitudes need to say, “God, no matter what anyone else tells me, no matter what I think myself, no matter what my own plan is, if I clearly hear You say something and I know it’s You, I will honor You—and honor what You say—above everything else.”

Sometimes we give more consideration to what people tell us than to what God says. If we pray diligently and hear from God, and then start asking people around us what they think, we honor their human opinions above God’s. Such an attitude will prevent our being able to consistently hear God’s voice. If we are ever going to develop an ability to hear from God and be led by His Spirit as a way of life, we have to stop listening to so many opinions from so many people and begin trusting the wisdom God deposits in our hearts. There is a time to receive good counsel, but needing the approval of people will keep us out of the will of God.

The devil wants us to think we are not capable of hearing from God, but God’s Word says that is not true. The Holy Spirit dwells inside of us because God wants us to be led by the Spirit in a personal way and to hear His voice for ourselves as He leads and guides us.

In the verse for today, God says we will be blessed when we look to Him. According to Jeremiah 17:5–6, severe consequences come to those who trust in the frailty of mere men and women, but blessed are those who trust in and honor the Lord. Good things happen if we listen to God. He wants to be our strength and we must honor His Word above all else.

God’s word for you today: Hear what others have to say, but listen to God.

Our Daily Bread — More Than Enough

Our Daily Bread

Psalm 103:1-11

[The Lord] crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies. —Psalm 103:4

When I entertained a large group in my home, I feared that the menu I planned wouldn’t be enough to serve all the guests. I shouldn’t have worried though. Several friends unexpectedly brought additional items and all of us were able to enjoy the surprise surplus. We had more than enough and were able to share out of the abundance.

We serve a God of abundance who is consistently “more than enough.” We can see God’s generous nature in the way He loves His children.

In Psalm 103, David lists the many benefits our Father bestows on us. Verse 4 says that He redeems our life from destruction and crowns us with lovingkindness and tender mercies.

The apostle Paul reminds us that God “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing” and “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 1:3; 3:20).

Because of His great love, we are called children of God (1 John 3:1), and His grace gives us “sufficiency in all things” that we “may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8).

God’s love and grace, spilled over into our lives, enables us to share them with others. The God of power and provision is always the God of “more than enough”! —Cindy Hess Kasper

Praise, my soul, the King of heaven;

To His feet your tribute bring.

Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,

Evermore His praises sing. —Lyte

We always have enough when God is our supply.

Bible in a year: Daniel 3-4; 1 John 5

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Awakenings

Ravi Z

Few of us would be able to recollect from our childhoods the moment when self-consciousness first came into being and the process of waking to self began. For most of us, awareness broke through in pieces. We found ourselves then as we continue to find ourselves now: at times stirringly wakeful to what it means to be human, aware of self and lifetime, and startled by the abruptness of its end.  Essayist Annie Dillard articulates the progression of consciousness with stirring lucidity:

“I woke in bits, like all children, piecemeal over the years. I discovered myself and the world, and forgot them, and discovered them again. I woke at intervals until, by that September when Father went down the river, the intervals of waking tipped the scales, and I was more often awake than not. I noticed this process of waking, and predicted with terrifying logic that one of these years not far away I would be awake continuously and never slip back, and never be free of myself again.”(1)

Dillard describes the rousing of self as strangely recognizable—”like people brought back from cardiac arrest or drowning.” There is a familiarity in the midst of the foreignness. We wake to mystery, but so somehow we wake to something known.

We find ourselves jarred awake in a different way to the idea of death, this unsettling notion of forever falling asleep to the life we have known. But even here there is a curious sense of vigilance we carry with us into death. Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno once observed that human beings are distinguished from other creatures in that we have the unique practice of burying our dead. In our funeral preparations, we make the dead ready for another stage; we make ourselves ready to continue on, our eyes further open to the weight of life. We stand ceremoniously present; we speak words over the dead body. Professor James Loder points out the rebellion inherent in these preparations: “We will not let death have the last word. This is a mark of the human spirit that something in us knows we can overcome this thing.”(2)

Into this mysterious world of life and death, the Christian voice calls the world to the wakeful awareness of this spirit, to the story reaching beyond self, beyond our lifetimes and our deaths, speaking words where death stings and tears flow: “The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken… They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call… when you see all these things, you know that itis near, right at the door” (Matthew 24:29-33).

When Jesus appeared on the scene of a people who had lived with God’s silence for hundreds of years, there were some who were ready and alert and others who had fallen asleep to the possibility of a God who speaks. The story of Christ’s coming, the Incarnation of hope and light, is a reminder that wakefulness is a worthy posture. The one who invites us to “come and see” has come near enough to show us for himself. Like children waking to consciousness, what if something in us knows that Christ is near, right at the door, longing to show us even now. It is worth being found awake, ready for something new and something we have known all along. For the Christian, this mystery is our consciousness. Christ has come. Christ has risen. Christ will come again.

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

(1) Annie Dillard, An American Childhood (New York: HarperCollins, 1988), 11.

(2) James E. Loder, The Logic of the Spirit (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1998), 4.

 

 

Alistair Begg – Our Union with Christ

Alistair Begg

As is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.

1 Corinthians 15:48

The head and members are of one nature, and not like that monstrous image that Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream. The head was of fine gold, but the belly and thighs were of brass, the legs of iron, and the feet partly of iron and partly of clay. Christ’s mystical body is no absurd combination of opposites. The members were mortal, and therefore Jesus died; the glorified head is immortal, and therefore the body is immortal too, as the record states: “Because I live, you also will live.”1

As is our loving Head, so is His body, and every member in particular. A chosen Head, therefore chosen members; an accepted Head, therefore accepted members; a living Head, therefore living members. If the head is pure gold, all the parts of the body are pure gold also. There is a double union of nature as a basis for the closest communion.

Pause here, devout reader, and see if you can contemplate the infinite condescension of the Son of God in exalting your wretchedness into blessed union with His glory without being overwhelmed by the wonder of it. You are so feeble and poor that in remembering your mortality, you may say to decay, “You are my father,” and to the worm, “You are my sister”; and yet in Christ you are so honored that you can say to the Almighty, “Abba, Father” and to the Incarnate God, “You are my Brother and my Husband.”

Surely if relationships to ancient and noble families make men think highly of themselves, we have more cause to glory than all of them. Let the poorest and most despised believer take hold upon this privilege; do not let an unthinking laziness prevent him from tracing his pedigree, and do not let him focus so much on the here and now that he fails to think profitably of this glorious, heavenly honor of union with Christ.

1 John 14:19

John MacArthur – The Heir of All Things

John MacArthur

“In these last days [God] has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things” (Heb. 1:2).

When Christ first came to earth He became poor for our sakes, that we, through His poverty, might be made rich (2 Cor. 8:9). He had nothing for Himself–He had “nowhere to lay His head” (Luke 9:58). Even His clothes were taken from Him when He died, and He was buried in a tomb that belonged to someone else.

It is beyond our understanding to imagine that the Galilean carpenter who was crucified like a common criminal, naked and bleeding on a cross outside the city of Jerusalem, is the King of kings and Lord of lords. But He is!

As the Son of God, Jesus is the heir of all that God possesses. The apostle Paul explains that all things not only were created by Christ but also for Him (Col. 1:16). Everything that exists will find its true meaning only when it comes under the final control of Christ.

The psalms predicted that Christ would one day be the heir to all that God possesses. The Father, speaking to the Son, says, “Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Thine inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Thy possession'” (Ps. 2:8). God also declared, “I also shall make Him My first-born, the highest of the kings of the earth” (Ps. 89:27; cf. Col. 1:15). “First-born” refers to legal rights–especially those of inheritance and authority.

When Christ comes to earth again, He will completely and eternally inherit all things (Rev. 11:15). And because we have trusted in Him, we are to be “fellow heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:16-17). When we enter into His eternal kingdom, we will jointly possess all that He possesses. We will not be joint Christs or joint Lords, but will be joint heirs. His marvelous inheritance will be ours as well.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank God for making you a joint heir with Christ. Thank your Lord for allowing that to happen through His death on the cross.

For Further Study:

Read Revelation 5:1-14 and 11:15-18, noting how the inhabitants of heaven respond to Christ.

 

 

 

Joyce Meyer – Positive Belief

Joyce meyer

[For Abraham, human reason for] hope being gone, hoped in faith that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been promised, so [numberless] shall your descendants be. He did not weaken in faith when he considered the [utter] impotence of his own body, which was as good as dead because he was about a hundred years old, or [when he considered] the barrenness of Sarah’s [deadened] womb. No unbelief or distrust made him waver (doubtingly question) concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God, fully satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep His word and to do what He had promised.

—Romans 4:18–21

The story of Abraham amazes me no matter how many times I read it. It’s not just the birth of a son when he was a hundred years old. That’s a miracle. But just as amazing is the information that he waited twenty-five years for the fulfillment of the promise. He was seventy-five when God promised him a son.

I wonder how many of us would believe God and live in expectation for twenty-five years. Most of us probably would have said, “I didn’t really hear from God.” “Oh, I guess maybe God didn’t really mean that.” Or, “I need to go somewhere else to get a fresh word from the Lord.”

Sarah and Abraham did have problems holding on to that promise. As a means of attempting to get what they wanted, they had Sarah’s handmaiden, Hagar, bear him a son, but God let him know that wasn’t the way it was going to be. I believe their actions delayed the arrival of God’s promised child.

In our impatience, we often take matters into our own hands. I say we get “bright ideas”—plans of our own, which we hope God will bless. These plans open the door for confusion and chaos. Then their results must be dealt with, which often delays our miracle.

When Moses came down from Sinai after having received the Ten Commandments from God, He saw the wickedness of the Israelites who had become impatient in waiting. In anger, he broke the tablets on which God had written the commands. Although we can understand Moses’ anger, we must remember that it was not initiated by God. Therefore, Moses had to ascend Mount Sinai again and once more go through the process of obtaining the Ten Commandments. Moses may have enjoyed a momentary emotional release, but it cost him a lot of extra work. This is a good lesson for all of us. We must pray first and agree with God’s plan, not plan and pray that our plan will work.

It’s often difficult to believe God and hold on year after year after year.

Sometimes after my meetings, people come to me and tell me many sad stories. I encourage them to become positive and upbeat. Some people will listen to every word I say, nod, maybe even smile, and then they say the most negative word of all: “But . . .” With that single word, they are negating everything I’ve said. That’s not the spirit of Abraham.

The Bible gives us promises, hope, and encouragement. God promises good to those of us who serve Him. Despite the adversity of our circumstances—and some people have absolutely terrible situations—God still promises good. Our sense of goodness, however, may not be the same as God’s. Getting what we want immediately may not be best for us. Sometimes waiting is the best thing because it helps develop the character of God in us.

The Lord chooses to do good to us and to make us happy; the devil chooses to do wrong and to make us miserable. We can remain patient and keep believing God’s promises, or we can allow the evil one’s whisper to fill our ears and lead us astray. Too many of us have ignored the fact that God is the originator of miracles. He specializes in doing the impossible: He provided a son to barren Sarah; He opened the Red Sea for the Israelites to walk across on dry land; He destroyed Goliath with a single stone from a slingshot. Those are miracles. That’s the Holy Spirit at work, defying the laws of nature (He made the laws, so He can break them).

Hebrews 11 is a chapter about faith and the people of God who dared to believe the promises. “But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out]” (v. 6).

As I consider that verse, I can see how the devil creeps in. He says to us, “Yes, that’s true. Those were special people. You are nobody. God won’t do anything special for you. Why should He?”

That is a satanic lie—and one that too many easily accept. God loves each of us, and the Bible says He’s our Father. Any good father loves to do good things for his children. God wants to do good things for you and for me.

Expect a miracle in your life. Expect many miracles.

Positive belief in God’s promises yields good results because the Good One sends them to us. Refuse to give up, and you will see the result of your positive belief.

Dear Father in heaven, forgive my lack of belief. Forgive me for allowing Satan to deceive me or make me think I’m worthless or unworthy of Your miracles. I am worthy because You made me worthy. You are the God of the impossible, and I ask You to help me wait on You and never give up. In the name of Jesus Christ my Lord, I pray. Amen.

 

Greg Laurie – Not Presents, but His Presence

greglaurie

And so the Lord says, “These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” —Isaiah 29:13

I heard the story of a mother who was out Christmas shopping, frantically trying to get everything done. She had her small child with her, but for a moment, she lost sight of him. In sheer panic, she started retracing her steps and found him with his nose pressed against the glass of a store display, looking at a manger scene.

The boy said, “Mommy, Mommy! Look! It is Jesus in the hay!”

“Let’s go,” she said, as she took him by the hand and led him away. “We don’t have time for that.”

Exactly. That is the whole problem with this time of year that we call Christmas. We can be so busy celebrating Christmas that we forget all about Christ. In a sense, we can actually lose God in the midst of it all. We can very easily lose God in the so-called celebration of Jesus.

For many, the Christmas story is the one about Scrooge being visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, or maybe Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, or Frosty the Snowman or Santa Claus.

But technically, can we lose God? No, we really can’t. You can’t lose someone if you know where they are. If you know where they are, then they are not lost. But you can lose sight of someone. And some have lost sight of the Lord in their lives, especially at this time of the year.

Maybe you’ve had the experience of talking with someone who was checking their texts or updating their social media as you’re trying to tell them something important.

God never does that. God is never disinterested. God is never distracted. And even if we forget about Him, He never forgets about us. Christmas is not about buying presents; it is about His presence in our lives.

 

Our Daily Bread — Get Your “Wanter” Fixed

Our Daily Bread

Philippians 4:4-13

I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. —Philippians 4:11

When my wife was a young girl in Austin, Texas, Carlyle Marney was her family’s neighbor, pastor, and friend. One of his off-hand remarks about being content became one of her family’s enduring expressions: “Dr. Marney says, ‘We just need to get our wanter fixed.’”

It’s so easy to want more than we need and to become more focused on getting than on giving. Soon, our desires dictate our choices.

When the apostle Paul wrote to the followers of Jesus in the city of Philippi, he told them, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content . . . . I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” (Phil. 4:11-12). Paul was saying, in effect, “I’ve had my ‘wanter’ fixed.” It’s important to note that Paul was not born with contentment. He learned it in the difficult circumstances of everyday life.

During this season of the year, when shopping and buying often take center stage in so many countries and cultures, why don’t we decide to focus on being satisfied in our present circumstances? It may sound difficult, but Paul, when talking about learning to be content said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (v.13). —David McCasland

Help us, Lord, to learn contentment when life is

rough. Protect us from believing the lie that

having more will bring us happiness. May we be

content with what You have given.

Contentment begins with having fewer wants.

Bible in a year: Daniel 1-2; 1 John 4

Charles Spurgeon – Compel them to come in

CharlesSpurgeon

“Compel them to come in.” Luke 14:23

Suggested Further Reading: John 3:31-36

I beseech you by him that liveth and was dead, and is alive for evermore, consider my master’s message which he instructs me now to address you. But do you spurn it? Do you still refuse it? Then I must change my tone a minute. I will not merely tell you the message, and invite you as I do with all earnestness, and sincere affection—I will go further. Sinner, in God’s name, I command you to repent and believe. Do you ask me my authority? I am an ambassador of heaven. My credentials, some of them secret, and in my own heart; and others of them open before you this day in the seals of my ministry, sitting and standing in this hall, where God has given me many souls for my hire. As God the everlasting one has given me a commission to preach his gospel, I command you to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; not on my own authority, but on the authority of him who said, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature;” and then he annexed this solemn sanction, “He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Reject my message, and remember “He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God.” An ambassador is not to stand below the man with whom he deals, for we stand higher. If the minister chooses to take his proper rank, girded with the omnipotence of God, and anointed with his holy unction, he is to command men, and speak with all authority compelling them to come in: “command, exhort, rebuke with all longsuffering.”

For meditation: Do we regard the Gospel as a take-it or leave-it option? The opposite of trusting in Christ is disobedience (Romans 1:5 and 16:26).

Sermon no. 227

5 December (1858)