Tag Archives: Joy

Max Lucado – His Loving Forgetfulness

Max Lucado

Hear this powerful passage from Paul’s letter to the Galatians. “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Galations 3:27). We have “put on” Christ. When God looks at us He doesn’t see us; He sees Christ. We wear Him.  We’re hidden in Him; covered by Him.

Presumptuous, you say?  Sacrilegious? It would be if it were my idea.  But it isn’t, it’s His. We’re presumptuous not when we marvel at His grace, but when we reject it.  And we’re sacrilegious not when we claim His forgiveness, but when we allow the haunting sins of yesterday to convince us God forgives but He doesn’t forget.

Do yourself a favor. Take the Roman nails of Calvary and board up the door. Believe in His loving forgetfulness, in His graciously terrible memory.

From God Came Near

 

Charles Stanley – Love is in the Giving

Charles Stanley

When you think of a loving relationship, what comes to mind? Perhaps you think of the romantic love between a husband and a wife, the special bond between a parent and a child, or the comfortable companionship of a close friend. Most people think happiness in love depends heavily on getting what they need from the other person.

The truth is that giving, when it’s done with pure motives, is its own reward. This sense of satisfaction doesn’t depend on how others receive your gift of service. Some people will never be content with what you do for them. Others will never feel worthy; no matter how much you encourage them or attempt to include them in your life. In risking love, you are also risking the possibility of being rejected or turned away. A person may even reject you while saying he or she loves you!

The goal in loving is not to evoke the response you want from another person, but to do what you believe the Lord is pleased for you to do. Your willingness to love must never depend upon another person’s ability to give love back to you.

You must seek to give love in ways that others can accept your love. But if they cannot accept your love in spite of your best efforts, then you must ask yourself, Is God asking me to show love to this person? If so, then you can be sure He accepts your efforts and values them. He will reward you by sending someone who can receive your love, and who can return love to you in precisely the ways and in exactly the moments you need it most.

Also ask yourself, Can I accept the forms of love that others are showing to me? Be open to receiving the love of others.

Your challenge as a Christian is to love others even if they don’t love you back. So, you are never without someone to love. Reciprocity is not required for this kind of love. The only thing that is required is your willingness, your desire, and your commitment to open up and give others a piece of who you are and what you have.

If you don’t have someone who needs you today or who counts on your love, find somebody. You only need to open your eyes and look around. You’ll find dozens of people within immediate range who greatly need to know somebody cares for them.

Volunteer your time to an organization or group that needs an extra pair of hands or perhaps a particular skill that you have.

Join a group that shares your interests. Don’t do it with an eye toward what you can get from the group. Instead, join with the intent of giving something to the group. Your gift of love may be baking cookies for refreshment time, typing up the minutes of the group meeting, offering your living room for meetings, or picking up members who no longer drive so they can attend.

Get involved with a church group actively engaged in ministry to others. It may be a group of ushers who assist with church services. It may be a group that goes door-to-door to deliver information about the church. It may be a group that prepares boxes of clothing and bedding to send to missionaries.

You’ll find more opportunities to give than you ever dreamed possible. You’ll find more people in need of love and compassionate care than you ever anticipated.

When you know someone is counting on your help, when you know you’re making a difference in someone else’s life, when you can see that your gifts of time and talent are greatly valued, when your loving touches are accepted and returned, when your words of encouragement fall on appreciative ears, and when your acceptance of another person creates a friendship or establishes a good relationship, you automatically have a sense of purpose and meaning for your life. You have a desire to love more, to give more, to extend yourself further.

And in that, there is hope. You want tomorrow to dawn because there is still a lot of loving that you have to do tomorrow. You want next week to roll around because there’s still a lot of giving that you want to do next week.

On the other hand, if you isolate and turn inward—refusing to acknowledge the hands that are reaching out to you and refusing to believe the encouragement that others attempt to offer—you will become increasingly depressed. You also can expect to have a growing feeling that you are worth nothing and that life is over.

Loving others is the most hope-filled thing you can do.

Adapted from “The Reason for My Hope,” by Charles F. Stanley.

 

 

Our Daily Bread — Canceled Christmas

Our Daily Bread

Luke 2:36-38

Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of [Jesus]. —Luke 2:33

We felt as if our Christmas was being canceled last year. Actually, our flight to see family in Missouri was canceled due to snow. It’s been our tradition for quite a few years to celebrate Christmas with them, so we were greatly disappointed when we only got as far as Minnesota and had to return home to Michigan.

On Sunday, in a message we would have missed, our pastor spoke about expectations for Christmas. He caught my attention when he said, “If our expectations for Christmas are gifts and time with family, we have set our expectations too low. Those are enjoyable and things we’re thankful for, but Christmas is the celebration of the coming of Christ and His redemption.”

Simeon and Anna celebrated the coming of Jesus and His salvation when Joseph and Mary brought Him to the temple as a baby (Luke 2:25-38). Simeon, a man who was told by the Spirit that he would not die before he saw the Messiah, declared: “My eyes have seen Your salvation” (v.30). When Anna, a widow who served God, saw Jesus, she “spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (v.38).

We may experience disappointments or heartache during the Christmas season, but Jesus and His salvation always give us reason to celebrate. —Anne Cetas

How wonderful that we on Christmas morn

Though centuries have passed since Christ was born,

May worship still the Living Lord of men,

Our Savior, Jesus, Babe of Bethlehem. —Hutchings

Jesus is always the reason to celebrate.

Bible in a year: Amos 1-3; Revelation 6

 

 

Alistair Begg – Hearts Fixed on Jesus

Alistair Begg

Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.

Ruth 1:14

Both of them had an affection for Naomi and therefore set out with her upon her return to the land of Judah. But the test came: Naomi unselfishly set before both of them the trials that awaited them and encouraged them if they cared for ease and comfort to return to their friends in Moab.

At first both of them declared that they would take their stand with the Lord’s people; but upon further consideration Orpah with much grief and a respectful kiss left her mother-in-law, and her people and her God, and went back to her idolatrous friends, while Ruth with all her heart gave herself up to the God of her mother-in-law.

It is one thing to love the ways of the Lord when all is fair, and quite another to hold to them in the face of discouragements and difficulties. The kiss of outward profession is very cheap and easy, but the practical clinging to the Lord, which must show itself in holy devotion to truth and holiness, is no small matter.

How do things stands with us? Is our heart fixed on Jesus, our body a living sacrifice? Have we counted the cost, and are we solemnly ready to suffer the loss of all things for the Master’s sake? The ultimate gain will be an abundant provision, for the treasures of Egypt do not compare with the glory to be revealed.

Orpah fades from view; in glorious ease and idolatrous pleasure her life melts into the gloom of death. But Ruth lives on in history and in heaven, for grace has placed her in the noble line that produced the King of kings.

Blessed among women will be those who for Christ’s sake renounce all; but forgotten, and worse than forgotten, will be those who in the hour of temptation violate their conscience and turn back to the world. This morning let us not be content with the form of devotion, which may be no better than Orpah’s kiss, but may the Holy Spirit work in us a clinging of our whole heart to the Lord Jesus.

 

Charles Spurgeon – Perfection in faith

CharlesSpurgeon

“For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” Hebrews 10:14

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Timothy 2:20-26

We could not have access to God unless on the footing of perfection; for God cannot walk and talk with imperfect creatures. But we are perfect; not in character, for we are still sinners; but we are perfected through the blood of Jesus Christ, so that God can allow us to have access to him as perfected creatures. We may come boldly, because being sprinkled with the blood, God does not look on us as unholy and unclean, otherwise he could not allow us to come to his mercy seat; but he looks upon us as being perfected for ever through the one sacrifice of Christ. That is one thing. The other is this. We are the vessels of God’s temple; he has chosen us to be like the golden pots of his sanctuary; but God could not accept a worship which was offered to him in unholy vessels. Those vessels, therefore, were made perfect by being sprinkled with blood. God could not accept the praise which comes from your unholy heart; he could not accept the song which springs from your uncircumcised lips, nor the faith which arises from your doubting soul, unless he had taken the great precaution to sprinkle you with the blood of Christ; and now, whatever he uses you for, he uses you as a perfect instrument, regarding you as being perfect in Christ Jesus. That, again, is the meaning of the text, and the same meaning, only a different phase of it. And, the last meaning is, that the sacrifices of the Jews did not give believing Jews peace of conscience for any length of time; they had to come again, and again, and again, because they felt that those sacrifices did not present to them a perfect justification before God. But behold, beloved, you and I are complete in Jesus. We have no need of any other sacrifice. All others we disclaim. He hath perfected us for ever. We may set our conscience at ease, because we are truly, really, and everlastingly accepted in him.

For meditation: Being accepted in Christ enables us to serve God acceptably.

Sermon no. 232

15 December (Preached 2 January 1859)

 

 

Joyce Meyer – Facing Fear

Joyce meyer

The devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. —1 Peter 5:8

Notice the scripture says “may” and not “will.” In other words, you have something to do with whether he is able to devour you. And if you know anything about Satan, he doesn’t have any power. The only power he has is the power you give him.

Fear, of course, is one of his favorite tactics, so he will try to use fear to stop you. But don’t give in to him. Go ahead and do it afraid. When God tells you to give somebody a tract or witness to a person, say, “Yes, Lord, I want to do what You’re telling me to do. I feel kind of afraid, Lord, but I believe You’re with me, so I’m just going to do it.”

When God tells you to give an extra big offering in church because He wants you to plant it as a seed (See Luke 6:38) so that you can come up higher in your finances, say, “Okay, Lord, I’ll do it. I know that means I will have to really trust You for some provision, but because I believe I’m hearing from You, I’ll do it.”

Don’t let the devil rob you of the destiny God has for you. Step out and face your fears; face your pain. You can be a victorious Christian, or you can be one who is never quite able to enjoy the fullness of God. The only difference between the two is that one is stopped by fear and the other does it afraid. Determine today to do it afraid!

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Learn to Be Patient

dr_bright

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials for we know that they are good for us – they help us learn to be patient” (Romans 5:3).

A Christian family was struggling with the trials of being parents (they had four young children – two of them in diapers). One day the wife, who was frustrated to her wits’ end, came to me for spiritual counsel. As she phrased it, she was at the point of losing her sanity.

How could she cope with rearing her children? She told how angry she got with the children when they disobeyed her. In fact, she indicated there were times when she feared she might physically harm her children, though she loved them dearly.

How could she cope with rearing her children? She needed the fruit of the Spirit, patience and love. The only way she could obtain such patience was by faith, confessing her sins and appropriating the fullness of the Holy Spirit. This she began to do, continually. Today, she is a women of godly patience, and being a parent has become a joyful privilege for her.

All of us need Christ’s patience, regardless of who we are or in what circumstances we find ourselves. Patience is granted to us by the grace of God through the Holy Spirit. It is produced by faith as a fruit of the Spirit, and it is granted in times of great crises (Luke 21:15-19); in dealing with church situations (2 Corinthians 12:12); in opposing evil (Revelation 2:2), for soundness of faith (Titus 2:2) and in waiting for the return of Jesus Christ (James 5:7,8).

Bible Reading: Romans 5:1-8

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will look on trials and problems as a forerunner of great patience in my life, while claiming the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit to strengthen me.

 

 

Presidential Prayer Team; P.G. – Salvation Security

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In 1924, the catchphrase “the gift that keeps on giving” launched a phonograph company’s series of musical recordings. In 1971, the popular movie “Diamonds Are Forever” inferred precious gems are the ideal gift. Last month, an e-trading company suggested the best gift to give is a contribution to a non-profit organization doing relief operations in the Philippines.

The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23

In truth, there’s only one gift with eternal value – salvation in Jesus. It’s been offered to the whole world, but many reject it, staying on an earthly quest for success and material comfort. Some say His salvation is too hard to receive – that there must be some “catch.” How sad it is that their choice has the consequence of eternal separation from God Himself.

Jesus cautioned about laying up earthly treasures that can be destroyed or stolen. It is time for America…for you…to acknowledge the folly of pursuits for earthly security, and look instead to the Cross, from which absolute security in life continually flows. Pray for your leaders on Capitol Hill, in the Supreme Court, at the Pentagon, and in the White House. The gift that keeps on giving is for them, too.

Recommended Reading: John 3:12-21

 

Charles Stanley – Good Man or God?

Charles Stanley

John 5:16-29

Jesus has been a subject of contention throughout human history. Even today opinions about Him vary widely. One common belief about Him, however, is that He was a good man—but not God. Those who hold this view usually appreciate some of His teachings, but they are obviously not familiar with His claims.

The religious leaders who came face to face with Christ would never have called Him a good man. In their eyes, anyone who claimed to be God was a liar and imposter. Just look at some of His amazing statements from John 5:

• Jesus referred to God as His Father, making Himself equal with God (v. 18).

• He declared that He did the same works as the Father (v. 19).

• Christ said He would raise the dead to life with just His voice (v. 28-29).

• He claimed that the Father had given Him all authority to judge (v. 22).

• Jesus demanded equal honor with God (v. 23).

• He promised to give eternal life to those who believe in Him (v. 24).

A “good” man wouldn’t make these statements unless they were true. If Jesus were just a man, His death on the cross would be of no benefit to anyone. But if His claims to be God’s Son are true, your salvation depends upon believing in Him.

Anyone who is serious about finding out who Jesus is must consider His claims. It’s a matter of eternal life or death. No one who denies His deity will enter heaven, because He is the only way to the Father (14:6) Now is the time to believe—not when you stand before Him at the judgment.

 

John MacArthur – Christ’s Superior Nature

John MacArthur

“Of the angels He says, ‘Who makes His angels winds, and His ministers a flame of fire.’ But of the Son He says, ‘Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever'” (Heb. 1:7-8).

People today who claim that Jesus was just a man, an angel, a prophet, or some inferior god are in error and bring upon themselves the curse of God. The Bible, and especially the writer of Hebrews, are clear about who Christ is.

First, the writer deals with the nature of angels when he says, “Who makes His angels winds, and His ministers a flame of fire.” “Makes” simply means “to create.” The antecedent of “who” is Christ. Therefore it is obvious that Christ created the angels.

They are also His possession: “His angels.” They are His created servants, who do not operate on their own initiative, but on the direction of Christ.

But the greatest difference between the nature of angels and Christ is that He is the eternal God. The Father says to the Son, “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.” That is one of the most powerful, clear, emphatic, and irrefutable proofs of the deity of Christ in Scripture.

Jesus throughout His ministry claimed equality with God. He said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). The apostle John closed his first epistle by saying, “We know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).

God the Son came to help us understand that God is truth and that Christ Himself is the true God. Our faith is based on the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Suggestion for Prayer:

Ask God to give you a greater understanding of the reality that Jesus is in fact God.

For Further Study:

Read John 1:1-18 and mark the verses that define Christ’s relationship to God. If an unbeliever were to ask you what that passage means, how would you answer him or her?

 

 

Joyce Meyer – God’s Vision for You

Joyce meyer

For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.

—Jeremiah 29:11

God’s plan for the people of the nation of Israel was only for their good. Yet they wandered around in the wilderness for forty years on what was actually an eleven-day journey. Why? Was it their enemies, their circumstances, the trials along the way, or something entirely different that prevented them from arriving at their destination in a timely manner?

God called the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt to go to the land He had promised to give them as a perpetual inheritance—a land that flowed with milk and honey and every good thing they could imagine—a land in which there would be no shortage of anything they needed—a land of prosperity in every realm of their existence.

But the Israelites had no positive vision for their lives—no dreams. They knew where they came from, but they did not know where they were going. Everything was based on what they had seen in the past or what they could presently see. They did not know how to see with “the eye of faith.”

We really shouldn’t view the Israelites with astonishment, because most of us do the same thing they did. We keep dealing with the same problems over and over again. The disappointing result is that it takes us years to experience victory over something that could have and should have been dealt with quickly.

I come from a background of abuse. My childhood was filled with fear and torment, and my personality was a mess! I built up walls of protection to keep people from hurting me, not realizing that while I was locking others out, I was also locking myself in. I was filled with fear, and believed that the only way I could face life was to be in control so no one could hurt me.

As a young adult trying to live for Christ and follow the Christian lifestyle, I knew where I had come from, but I did not know where I was going. I felt that my future would always be marred by my past. I thought, How could anyone with a past like mine ever be all right? It’s impossible!

But Jesus had a different plan. He said, “The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon Me . . . to preach the good news (the Gospel) to the poor; He has sent Me to announce release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth as delivered those who are oppressed [who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity]” (Luke 4:18).

Jesus came to open the prison doors and set the captives free—and that included me. However, I did not make any progress until I started to believe that I really could be set free. I had to get rid of my negative thinking and replace it with a positive vision for my life. I had to believe that neither my past nor my present could determine my future. Only then could Jesus free me from the bondage of my past—and free me, He did. What a marvelous miracle!

You may have had a miserable past; you may even be in current circumstances that are very negative and depressing. You may be facing situations that are so bad it seems you have no real reason to hope. But I say to you boldly: Your future is not determined by your past or your present!

Most of the generation the Lord called out of Egypt never entered into the Promised Land. Instead, they died in the wilderness. To me, this is one of the saddest things that can happen to a child of God—to have so much available and yet never be able to enjoy any of it.

Start believing that God’s Word is true. Mark 9:23 assures you that with God all things are possible. Because you serve a God who created everything you see out of the unseen realm (see Hebrews 11:3), you can give Him your nothingness and watch Him go to work on your behalf. All you have to do is have faith in Him and believe His Word—He will do the rest!

Dear Father, I thank You for loving me and having a vision—a good plan—for my life. I pray that You will help me overcome any negative thoughts of problems, past or present, that come against my mind, and make my life what You want it to be. Amen.

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Quick and Powerful

dr_bright

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12, KJV).

Often, what you and I have to say may seem weak and insipid. But then we have the clear promise that it really will accomplish something, for it has several characteristics that guarantee such results.

First, the holy inspired Word of God is impregnated with the power of the Holy Spirit and is quick-living. It is energetic and active – not dead, inert or powerless.

Second, the Word is powerful. Its mighty power awakens the conscience, reveals our fears, bares the secret feelings of the heart and causes the sinner to tremble at the threat of impending judgement.

Third, the Word is sharp-sharper than a two-edged sword. The Word has power to penetrate. It reaches the heart, laying open our motives and feelings.

Fourth, the Word pierces-penetrates.

Fifth, the Word discerns-shows what our thoughts and intentions are. Men see their real character in the mirror of God’s Word.

Those are some of the reasons for choosing to use the Word of God in every possible situation, allowing it to be its own best defense. God’s Word will never return unto Him void.

Bible Reading: Psalm 1

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will make more use of the sword, the Word of God, as I draw upon God’s power to live supernaturally.

 

Presidential Prayer Team; A.W. – The Source of Blessings

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On March 30, 1863, Abraham Lincoln called the nation to recognize their source of salvation and blessings by proclaiming a national day of fasting and prayer. In his speech, he said, “We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God…we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.”

This is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.

Ephesians 2:8

In today’s scripture, Paul taught the Ephesians the source of salvation, saying it is the work of a gracious and loving God for which He deserves recognition and praise.

During the hectic holiday season, why not proclaim your own day of prayer and fasting to remember your every blessing – including the greatest one of all, the ability to be freely saved by grace. Pray, too, for the country’s leaders to realize and remind the nation, as Lincoln did, that God is the source of true national prosperity and peace.

Recommended Reading: Romans 5:12-21

 

 

 

Greg Laurie – The “Unsung Hero” of the Christmas Story

greglaurie

When you set up your nativity set for the Christmas season, one of the figures that is often not noticed, or is put off to one side, is Joseph.

Joseph is not featured in many Christmas songs either. But I believe that Joseph, in many ways, is the unsung hero of the Christmas story. Just as surely as God chose Mary to be the mother of the Messiah, He also chose Joseph. God the Father in heaven chose Joseph to be a stepfather, or father figure on earth, for Jesus!

The angel of the Lord came to Mary and revealed that the Messiah of Israel would be supernaturally conceived in her womb. Hearing Mary was pregnant, Joseph was willing to simply put her away quietly and break the engagement. He did not seem to be buying the whole “supernatural conception” idea. At least he was struggling with it, pondering a life without his dear Mary. But the Angel of the Lord came to him too.

“But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins'” (Matthew 1:20-21).

Joseph could have walked away if he wanted. But to his credit, he stood by Mary and Jesus and, despite the shame, loved that Boy. Mary went through life with a “scarlet A” on her, in the eyes of many. And Joseph went through life being thought of as a man married to a promiscuous woman.

The irony of this is Mary was an extraordinarily virtuous and godly woman. On one occasion, the Pharisees said to Jesus, “At least we weren’t born of fornication!” (John 8:41). The implication of that statement is that Jesus was conceived out of wedlock.

But Mary bore this along with the death of her son on the cross. No, she was not perfect or sinless, nor should we pray to her or through her. But she was faithful to what God asked her to do.

And so was Joseph. He was chosen by God to be the stepfather of God in human form.

 

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – A Real Person

Ravi Z

There are times when it is worth wondering with the professor from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe where logic has gone from the world’s curriculum.

Peter and Susan had come to him concerned about their younger sister Lucy’s outlandish tales of a land hidden deep within an old wardrobe. The professor listened carefully as they reasoned it out before him, admitting their bewilderment with Lucy’s strange behavior and their confusion over how to deal with her. Sighing, the professor lamented, “Why don’t they teach logic at these schools?” Either Lucy is telling lies, he explained, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. But since she is obviously not mad, nor is she the one among the Pevensie children known for her propensity to lie, her vivid descriptions are not so easily dismissible. In fact, it is most likely that Lucy is telling the truth. “Nothing is more probable,” said the professor, as he muttered to himself, “I wonder what they do teach them at these schools.”(1) Logic, it seems, has fallen out of fashion.

A lawsuit in Italy was once brought against a priest accused of unlawfully misleading the public by presenting Jesus in his parish newsletter as an historical figure. “Christ never existed, but is an invention of the Church,” said the man who attempted to bring this case to trial in 2002.(2) A professed atheist himself, the accuser claimed the priest violated an article under the Italian penal code, which under the term “abuse of popular gullibility,” sanctions people who mislead others. A judge earlier refused to take up the case but was overruled by the Court of Appeal, which held the accuser had a reasonable case for his allegation.

Although he comes to a conclusion that most would find unreasonable (the historical evidence that Jesus was a real figure is nearly undisputed), the accuser in this case is right in saying that it is a question the world—many Christians included—takes for granted. Was Jesus of Nazareth a real person? Did the one who many call the Christ ever really exist? As absurd as some find the accusations in this case, it is a question worth asking often and anywhere: Are there historical proofs behind the remarkable presence of this first century Jewish rabbi?

“[O]n the question of the existence,” notes R. Scott Appleby, professor of church history at Notre Dame, “there is more evidence of the existence of Jesus of Nazareth than there would be for many other historical people who actually existed. Not only did Jesus actually exist, but he actually had some kind of prominence to be mentioned in two or three chronicles.”(3)

In addition to the massive archives provided by each of the four gospel writers, the life of Jesus of Nazareth and the extent to which he created a stir far beyond the land of his birth are chronicled by Christian and non-Christian writers alike. Jewish historian Flavius Josephus is considered by scholars to be the most important non-Christian source on Christ’s existence. Also archived in history are the writings of Pliny the Younger, who in the early second century described a policy of executing Christians who refused to curse Christ, as well as Tacitus, another historian of the same period who wrote that Jesus was executed under the authority of Pontius Pilate.

The historical evidence of the existence of Jesus cannot be erased from any reasonable history book. There is a solid basis upon which one can intelligently believe in Jesus as a person who actually existed. The Incarnation is not just a story told in Christmas carols and nativity scenes. Jesus cannot rationally be exposed as a myth. What this means for those who will reason is that a real person from Nazareth, born in Bethlehem, left a sizable mark on history and started a chain of events moving well beyond his 33 years on this earth. The next question was posed by Jesus himself: “But who do you say that I am?”

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

(1) C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia, “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” (New York: HarperCollins, 1956), 131.

(2) “Italian Lawyers Asked to Prove Jesus Existed,” Associated Press, January 21, 2006.

(3) Ibid.

 

Alistair Begg – More Grace Brings More Joy

Alistair Begg

. . . Salt without prescribing how much.

Ezra 7:22

Salt was used in every offering made by fire to the Lord, and with its preserving and purifying properties it was the grateful emblem of divine grace in the soul. It is worthy of our careful attention that when Artaxerxes gave salt to Ezra the priest, he set no limit to the quantity, and we may be quite certain that when the King of kings distributes grace among His royal priesthood, the supply is not cut short by Him.

In ourselves we are often in short supply, but never in the Lord. He who chooses to gather much manna will find that he may have as much as he desires. There is no famine in Jerusalem that causes the citizens to eat their bread by weight and drink their water by measure.

Some things in the economy of grace are measured; for instance our vinegar and gall are given us with such exactness that we never have a single drop too much; but the salt of grace is not restricted in its provision. “Ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”1

Parents need to lock up the fruit cupboard and the candy jars, but there is no need to keep the salt-box under lock and key, for few children will eat too greedily from that.

A man may have too much money or too much honor, but he cannot have too much grace. When Jeshurun grew fat, he forsook God, but there is no fear of a man’s becoming too full of grace: A plethora of grace is impossible. More wealth brings more care, but more grace brings more joy. Increased wisdom is increased sorrow, but an abundance of the Spirit is fullness of joy.

Believer, go to the throne for a large supply of heavenly salt. It will season your afflictions, which are unsavory without salt; it will preserve your heart, which grows corrupt if salt is absent; and it will kill your sins even as salt kills reptiles. You need much; seek much and have much.

1 John 15:7

 

Charles Spurgeon – The Holy Spirit and the one church

CharlesSpurgeon

“These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.” Jude 19

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 8:5-13

The Holy Spirit when he comes in the heart comes like water. That is to say, he comes to purify the soul. He that is to-day as foul as he was before his pretended conversion is a hypocrite and a liar; he that this day loves sin and lives in it just as he was accustomed to do, let him know that the truth is not in him, but he hath received the strong delusion to believe a lie: God’s people are a holy people; God’s Spirit works by love, and purifies the soul. Once let it get into our hearts, and it will have no rest till it has turned every sin out. God’s Holy Spirit and man’s sin cannot live together peaceably; they may both be in the same heart, but they cannot both reign there, nor can they both be quiet there; for “the Spirit lusteth against the flesh, and the flesh lusteth against the Spirit;” they cannot rest, but there will be a perpetual warring in the soul, so that the Christian will have to cry, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” But in due time the Spirit will drive out all sin, and will present us blameless before the throne of his Majesty with exceeding great joy. Now, answer this question for thyself, and not for another man. Hast thou received this Spirit? Answer me.

For meditation: When the Holy Spirit enters a person at the new birth, he begins to change that person for the better; but that involves declaring war on the flesh (Galatians 5:17). An intensified awareness of one’s sinfulness can be very distressing (Romans 7:24), but the believer can take courage in the knowledge that God is at work. Those who know nothing of these experiences since professing conversion should examine their professed faith, no matter what other experiences of the Spirit they may claim to have had.

Sermon no. 167

13 December (1857)

 

John MacArthur – Worship of Distinction

John MacArthur

“When He again brings the first-born into the world, He says, ‘And let all the angels of God worship Him'” (Heb. 1:6).

Even though Jesus Christ humbled Himself and was made lower than the angels for a time, angels are still to worship Him. Since angels are to worship Him, then Christ must be greater than them.

Angels have always worshiped Christ, only they worshiped Him as God. It wasn’t until His incarnation that angels were commanded to worship Him as God’s Son. It is a sin to worship anyone or anything but God–in fact, note how sternly the apostle John was rebuked for worshiping angels (Rev. 19:10; 22:8-9). So the very fact that angels are to worship Christ verifies that Christ is indeed God.

At present, the angels don’t fully understand the entire picture of God’s redemptive plan. Peter tells us that the prophets didn’t understand all that they wrote, “seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow” (1 Pet. 1:11). Then he added, “Things into which angels long to look” (v. 12). They are still trying to figure out things they don’t understand.

But that won’t always be the case. Notice that Hebrews 1:6 says, “When He again brings the first-born into the world” (emphasis added). God already brought Christ into the world once–at the second coming He will bring Him into the world in blazing glory. Then the fullness of the prophecy of Psalm 97:7 quoted in Hebrews 1:6 will come to pass: “Let all the angels of God worship Him.”

In His second coming Christ is revealed in full glory as the Son. More than ever we have reason to join the heavenly chorus in declaring, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing” (Rev. 5:12).

Suggestion for Prayer:

Thank God for His wonderful plan of salvation. Ask Him to make it more real to you every day.

For Further Study:

Read Revelation 5:1-11 and note the reactions of the angels to the Lamb of God. What specific event motivated their response?

 

 

Joyce Meyer – A Big Dose of Humility

Joyce meyer

For in posing as judge and passing sentence on another, you condemn yourself, because you who judge are habitually practicing the very same things [that you censure and denounce].

—Romans 2:1

Humility is defined as “freedom from pride and arrogance…a modest estimate of one’s own worth.” In theology, it means having a consciousness of your own defects. We often judge other people because we don’t really have a conscious awareness of our own flaws. We look at everybody else through a magnifying glass, but we look at ourselves through rose-colored glasses. For others who make mistakes, “there is no excuse,” but it seems for us, there is always a reason why our behavior is acceptable.

The Bible says to “humble yourselves…under the mighty hand of God” (1 Peter 5:6). Examine your own heart and actions and humble yourself before Him. God gives us an opportunity to humble ourselves, but if we refuse, He will do it for us. So pray for God to make you aware of areas that need attention and refuse to sit in judgment on others.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – At Least As Much

dr_bright

“And if even sinful persons like yourselves give children what they need, don’t you realize that your heavenly Father will do at least as much, and give the Holy Spirit to those who ask for Him?” (Luke 11:13).

A Christian leader approached me after one of my messages on the person and ministry of the Holy Spirit.

“I want to be a Spirit-filled person,” he said, “but I don’t know what to do. I have read many books about the Holy Spirit and have sincerely sought His fullness, but to no avail. I am seriously considering giving up Christian ministry and returning to a business career. Please help me.”

With great delight I shared with this earnest seeker the truths about the Holy Spirit. To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be controlled and empowered by the Holy Spirit. We cannot have two masters.

There is a throne, a control center, in every life and either self or Christ is on that throne. This concept of Christ being on the throne is so simple that even a child can understand it.

It is such a simple truth, and yet, in its distilled essence, that is what the supernatural, Spirit-controlled life is all about – just keeping Christ on the throne. We do this when we understand how to walk in the control and power of the Holy Spirit, for the Spirit came for the express purpose of glorifying Christ by enabling the believer to live a holy life and to be a productive witness for the Savior.

The key to supernatural living is a life centered in the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ. This supernatural life is often called the Spirit-filled Christian or the Christ-centered life. The spirit-filled Christian is one who, according to Romans 6:11, has considered himself to be dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Christ is now at the center of his life; He is Lord.

Bible Reading: Romans 8:9-14

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will not allow self to usurp the rightful place of Jesus Christ – in the person of His Holy Spirit – at the control center, the throne, of my life.