Tag Archives: Joy

Charles Spurgeon – Preaching for the poor

CharlesSpurgeon

“The poor have the gospel preached to them.” Matthew 11:5

Suggested Further Reading: Amos 7:10-17

There was a tinker once, who never so much as brushed his back against the walls of a college, who wrote a Pilgrim’s Progress. Did ever a doctor in divinity write such a book? There was a pot-boy once—a boy who carried on his back the pewter pots for his mother, who kept the Old Bell. That man drove men mad, as the world had it, but led them to Christ, as we have it, all his life long, until, loaded with honours, he sank into his grave, with the good will of a multitude round about him, with an imperishable name written in the world’s records, as well as in the records of the church. Did you ever hear of any mighty man, whose name stood in more esteem among God’s people than the name of George Whitefield? And yet these were poor men, who, as Wycliffe said, were taking to the preaching of the gospel. If you will read the life of Wycliffe, you will find him saying there, that he believed that the Reformation in England was more promoted by the labours of the poor men whom he sent out from Lutterworth than by his own. He gathered around him a number of the poor people whom he instructed in the faith, and then he sent them two and two into every village, as Jesus did. They went into the market-place, and they gathered the people around; they opened the book and read a chapter, and then they left them a manuscript of it, which for months and years after the people would assemble to read, and would remember the gospellers that had come to tell them the gospel of Christ. These men went from market-place to market-place, from town to town, and from village to village, and though their names are unknown to fame, they were the real reformers.

For meditation: Wycliffe’s translation of the text was “Poor men are taking to the preaching of the gospel.” A small percentage of Christians would be regarded as great in worldly terms (1 Corinthians 1:27)—only a tiny fraction of preachers would be so described. Are your preachers suitably honoured and supported by your church (1 Corinthians 9:11; Galatians 6:6; 1 Timothy 5:17,18)?

Sermon no. 114

25 January (1857)

John MacArthur – Understanding Your Calling

John MacArthur

“I pray that . . . you may know what is the hope of [God’s] calling” (Eph. 1:18).

In Ephesians 1:3-14 Paul proclaims the blessings of our salvation. In verse 18 he prays that we will comprehend those great truths, which he summarizes in the phrase “the hope of His calling.”

“Calling” here refers to God’s effectual calling–the calling that redeems the soul. Scripture speaks of two kinds of calling: the gospel or general call and the effectual or specific call. The gospel call is given by men and is a universal call to repent and trust Christ for salvation (e.g., Matt. 28:19; Acts 17:30-31). It goes out to all sinners but not all who hear it respond in faith.

The effectual call is given by God only to the elect. By it He speaks to the soul, grants saving faith, and ushers elect sinners into salvation (John 6:37-44, 65; Acts 2:39). All who receive it respond in faith.

The hope that your effectual calling instills is grounded in God’s promises and Christ’s accomplishments (1 Pet. 1:3), and is characterized by confidently expecting yet patiently waiting for those promises to be fulfilled. It is your hope of final glorification and of sharing God’s glory when Christ returns (Col. 3:4). It is a source of strength and stability amid the trials of life (1 Pet. 3:14-15). Consequently it should fill you with joy (Rom. 5:2) and motivate you to godly living (1 John 3:3).

As you face this new day, do so with the confidence that you are one of God’s elect. He called you to Himself and will hold you there no matter what circumstances you face. Nothing can separate you from His love (Rom. 8:38- 39)!

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank God for the security of your salvation.

Ask Him to impress on your heart the blessings and responsibilities of your calling.

Live today in anticipation of Christ’s imminent return.

For Further Study:

Joshua’s call to lead Israel was not a call to salvation, but it illustrates some important principles for spiritual leadership. You might not see yourself as a spiritual leader, but you are important to those who look to you as an example of Christian character.

Read Joshua 1:1-9 then answer these questions:

What were the circumstances of Joshua’s call (vv. 1-2)?

What promises did God make to him (vv. 3-6)?

What did God require of him (vv. 7-9)?

 

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – No More Fears

dr_bright

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18, KJV).

“If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room,” declared Robert Murray McCheyne, “I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me: ‘He ever liveth to make intercession.'”

Is there some fear in your life over which you do not have victory? Whether it is great or small, you can gain victory over that fear through claiming, by faith, God’s supernatural love for yourself and for others, for “perfect love casts out fear.”

That promise makes it imperative that you and I claim God’s agape, the supernatural love described in 1 Corinthians 13, love for God, for our neighbors, for ourselves and for our enemies – for all men. As we do this, we can begin to practice that perfect love, showing it to our families and to friends and neighbors.

No fear is too small for Christ to handle, and certainly none is too large. Remember, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7, KJV). If fear does not come from God, then we must reject that spirit of fear as coming from the enemy of men’s souls.

Fear of the future is a large fear for many people, but sometimes the seemingly small fears – of crowds, of heights, whatever – can cause more distress than greater fears. It is in these instances that God demonstrates His faithfulness to fill our hearts with His love and to cast out fear.

Faith is the most effective foe of fear, and “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

Bible Reading: 2 Timothy 1:6-12

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will recognize any kind of fear in my life for what it is: an attempt of the enemy to sabotage my effectiveness as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. By faith I will claim God’s supernatural love for myself and others, and thereby gain victory over fear. As I pray for myself, I shall pray for others also who experience the same devastating results of fear.

 

Presidential Prayer Team; C.P. – A Personal Display

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A continual battle is taking place in America concerning freedom of speech and religion; in particular, placing the Ten Commandments at governmental locations. In 2009, Oklahoma approved a monument of the Ten Commandments at the State Capitol. Now Satanists insist their edicts should be displayed as well.

Observe all that I have commanded you.

Matthew 28:20

That’s all good and well – but when Jesus was here on Earth, He also gave commands. What did He say? “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) The apostle John reiterates, “And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.” (I John 3:21) More important than posting God’s commands in public places is to display them in your life.

As you consider your annual goals, make it your aim to study and practice what Jesus preached. Pray this year for believers in the United States to progress in becoming living examples of Christ’s teachings. Also pray the Lord will grant the nation’s leaders wisdom as they handle issues of freedom of speech and religion.

Recommended Reading: John 15:1-12

Greg Laurie – The Prescription for Happy Living

greglaurie

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  —Matthew 22:37–39

Conventional wisdom says that if you want to be happy, then you have to look out for number one. You have to do whatever it takes to succeed and whatever it takes to fulfill your own desires and needs. It doesn’t matter whom you step on. It doesn’t matter who gets hurt in the process. You have to think about yourself. That is what the world says.

The question is, does it work? No. Because all of us know from the experience of having probably tried it that it is a complete failure to some degree. We know that our happiness ebbs and flows, and it isn’t lasting.

Here is God’s formula for a life that is meaningful and full. Here is how God tells us to live:

There’s still time to sign up for the spring trip to Israel with Pastor Greg happening April 28–May 10. »

If there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. (Philippians 2:1-3)

Everyone says, “Look out for yourself. Think of yourself.” But the Bible says, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4).

The Bible teaches that we already look out for number one. That comes with human nature. It is not something we need to learn how to do.

 

Charles Stanley – Victory in the Battles of Life

Charles Stanley

1 Samuel 17:32-50

Have you ever failed at something simply because you did not plan it all the way through? Sadly, this is all too common among believers and non-believers alike.

If we want to achieve victory in our pursuits, we must be willing to plan. It’s not always enough to see a matter through to completion; we must also demonstrate the wisdom to consider all steps leading up to the challenge and all potential results that might follow. Then we’ll have a complete view and will begin to see the matter from the perspective of our heavenly Father.

When David confronted the Philistine warrior Goliath, he knew that he was entering into much more than simply a wartime dispute. He was keenly aware of the nature of the conflict—that is, God’s reputation was at stake because all the other nations would be watching to see what happened. Failure at this important juncture would have shown the world that Israel’s God was not all that powerful.

Not only did David understand the nature of the conflict; he walked into battle knowing the outcome. He’d been called to defeat Goliath and provide an unshakable testimony to the Almighty’s power. And he was fully confident that God would enable him to do just that.

If your pursuits keep falling short, ask yourself, Am I looking at the whole issue, or have I lost perspective? If your point of view is too limited, commit the matter to the Lord and allow Him to show you what He is able to do through your efforts.

 

 

Our Daily Bread — Where Have You Been?

Our Daily Bread

Romans 10:11-15

How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? —Romans 10:14

Missionary Egerton Ryerson Young served the Salteaux tribe in Canada in the 1700s. The chief of the tribe thanked Young for bringing the good news of Christ to them, noting that he was hearing it for the first time in his old age. Since he knew that God was Young’s heavenly Father, the chief asked, “Does that mean He is my Father too?” When the missionary answered, “Yes,” the crowd that had gathered around burst into cheers.

The chief was not finished, however. “Well,” said the chief, “I do not want to be rude, but it does seem to me . . . that it took a long time for you to . . . tell it to your brother in the woods.” It was a remark that Young never forgot.

Many times I’ve been frustrated by the zigs and zags of my life, thinking of the people I could reach if only. Then God reminds me to look around right where I am, and I discover many who have never heard of Jesus. In that moment, I’m reminded that I have a story to tell wherever I go, “for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved’ ” (Rom. 10:12-13).

Remember, we don’t have just any story to tell—it’s the best story that has ever been told. —Randy Kilgore

I love to tell the story,

For some have never heard

The message of salvation

From God’s own holy Word. —Hankey

Sharing the good news is one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.

Bible in a year: Exodus 9-11; Matthew 15:21-39

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Louder Than Words

Ravi Z

A popular group on Facebook hosts a collection of people very much opposed to the destruction of an historic fountain in downtown Copenhagen. The name of the group can be translated, “No to the Demolition of the Stork Fountain,” and its members’ outrage fills its Facebook wall. The creator of the group writes of the urgency of the need for action and the call to join the cause and get involved. Almost overnight participation in the cause went viral, members joining and getting the word out to their friends. Click here, forward there, speak out.

Ironically (and more ironic than activism that only requires joining a Facebook group), the cause was completely fictitious. The creator of the page, Anders Colding-Jørgensen, is a professor of Internet psychology who was conducting a social experiment on activism and online behavior. Sadly, had these outraged activists searched just a bit more for information, they would have read on the page itself that it was an experiment and that in fact Anders knew of no plans to destroy the fountain. Yet by the end of the experiment, more than 27,000 people had joined the group with a click of outrage and a desire to join the cause.(1)

Anders’ experiment is one example of what cultural commentators are calling “slacktivism,” online activism that essentially leads to nothing on the part of the participant and no real effect on the cause itself. Slacktivism offers the feeling of doing good without actually having done anything at all. Though not all online causes can be classified as such, they are appealing because they are so easy to join, though we often seem unconcerned with whether they actually accomplish something. It’s simply one more click, one more forwarded email, one more status update; it won’t require writing long letters, standing in lines, or marching the streets. No one will ask you to do anything, and you can feel good about your participation, brief though it is. We may very well be impassioned slacktivists (the Facebook vitriol over the demolition of the Stork Fountain or the acquittal of Casey Anthony was alarming), but they are really just words, a display for display’s sake.

It seems religion has often been accused similarly. Isn’t it all just words? Isn’t Christianity all talk, tenants, and tirades? The Theologian is an owl sitting on an old dead branch in the tree of human knowledge, says one critic, and he is hooting the same old hoots that have been hooted for hundreds and thousands of years, but he has never given a hoot for anything real. A nearby bumper sticker berates similarly, “Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day; give him a religion, and he’ll starve to death while praying for a fish.”

Even in friendlier circles, I am sometimes left with a similar impression among Christians that believing in Jesus has more to do with saying the right things, knowing the right words, holding the proper principles for a watching world. Many a church is filled with people who have the feeling of doing good without having really done anything at all. Knowing Christ can seem more a corollary to knowing the words than the other way around. Is Christianity simply a kingdom of words?

Jesus himself said the kingdom was like a sower who went out to sow seeds. (This does not sound like slacktivism!) Or as the apostle Paul writes eloquently elsewhere, “The kingdom of God is not in words.” What do they mean by this? And how might it answer both the skeptic who thinks religion is all talk and the Christian who reduces the kingdom to words and laws?

For starters I think it means that the kingdom isn’t calling for slacktivists, and that nothing we embrace with spirit and truth can be reduced to words or sermons or the ease of outrage. The kingdom Jesus presents is far more alive than this. More experiential. More whole.

One of my favorite stories of Jesus is in the way he responds to Mary and Martha after their brother has died. When he walks up to Martha, she is full of pain and essentially asks, “Jesus where were you? If you would have come my brother wouldn’t have died.” And Jesus gives her an answer. He says, “I am the resurrection and the life and the one who believes in me will not die. Your brother will rise again.” Jesus gives Martha what he knew she needed, an answer to an honest question. But then Mary comes up to Jesus and asks the exact same question. “Jesus where were you? If you would have been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.”

Here are two different people asking the same question. And Jesus understands that they need different answers. With Martha he gives her a rational answer. With Mary, he doesn’t say anything. It is the shortest verse in the Bible, in fact. We are simply told that Jesus wept. This was his response to her question. He knew she didn’t need words; she needed a more intuitive response. She needed to know that he heard and shared her pain.

Jesus takes these two identical questions and he knows they don’t need the same answers; they don’t just need words, they need a person, they need a kingdom. He could have told both of them to hold on, that he was about to perform a miracle and call Lazarus out of the grave. But he didn’t rush to that. He heard their questions and gave them a kingdom that is far more than words.

This is a cause worth dropping everything to join. Of course, it will also cost our very lives.

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

(1) Monica Hesse, “Facebook Activism: Lots of Clicks, but Little Sticks,” The Washington Post, July 2, 2009.

 

 

Alistair Begg – The Place of Service

Alistair Begg

But Martha was distracted with much serving.

Luke 10:40

Her fault was not that she served: The condition of a servant is commendable in the Christian. “I serve” should be the motto of all the princes of the royal family of heaven. Nor was it her fault that she had “much serving.” We cannot do too much. Let us do all that we possibly can; let head and heart and hands be engaged in the Master’s service. It was no fault of hers that she was busy preparing a feast for the Master. Happy Martha, to have an opportunity of entertaining so blessed a guest; and happy, too, to have the spirit to throw her whole soul so heartily into the engagement. Her fault was that she grew “distracted with much serving,” so that she forgot Him and only remembered the service. She allowed service to override communion, and so presented one duty stained with the blood of another.

We ought to be Martha and Mary in one: We should do much service and have much communion at the same time. For this we need great grace. It is easier to serve than to commune. Joshua never grew weary in fighting with the Amalekites; but Moses, on the top of the mountain in prayer, needed two helpers to sustain his hands.

The more spiritual the exercise, the sooner we tire in it. The choicest fruits are the hardest to rear; the most heavenly graces are the most difficult to cultivate. Beloved, while we do not neglect external things, which are good enough in themselves, we ought also to see to it that we enjoy living, personal fellowship with Jesus.

See to it that sitting at the Savior’s feet is not neglected, even though it be under the specious pretext of doing Him service. The first thing for our soul’s health, the first thing for His glory, and the first thing for our own usefulness is to keep ourselves in perpetual communion with the Lord Jesus and to see that the vital spirituality of our faith is maintained over and above everything else in the world.

 

 

Charles Spurgeon – The death of Christ

CharlesSpurgeon

“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” Isaiah 53:10

Suggested Further Reading: Acts 4:23-31

He who reads the Bible with the eye of faith, desiring to discover its hidden secrets, sees something more in the Saviour’s death than Roman cruelty or Jewish malice: he sees the solemn decree of God fulfilled by men, who were the ignorant, but guilty instruments of its accomplishment. He looks beyond the Roman spear and nail, beyond the Jewish taunt and jeer, up to the sacred fount, whence all things flow, and traces the crucifixion of Christ to the breast of deity. He believes with Peter—“Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” We dare not impute to God the sin, but at the same time the fact, with all its marvellous effects in the world’s redemption, we must ever trace to the sacred fountain of divine love. So does our prophet. He says, “It pleased Jehovah to bruise him.” He overlooks both Pilate and Herod, and traces it to the heavenly Father, the first person in the divine trinity. “It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief.” Now, beloved, there be many who think that God the Father is at best but an indifferent spectator of salvation. Others belie him still more. They look upon him as an unloving, severe being, who had no love to the human race, and could only be made loving by the death and agonies of our Saviour. Now, this is a foul libel upon the fair and glorious grace of God the Father, to whom for ever be honour: for Jesus Christ did not die to make God loving, but he died because God was loving.

“‘Twas not to make Jehovah’s love ‘Twas not the death which he endured,

Towards his people flame, Nor all the pangs he bore,

That Jesus from the throne above, That God’s eternal love procured,

A suff’ring man became. For God was love before.”

For meditation: Who so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son (John 3:16)?

Sermon no. 173

24 January (1858)

 

 

John MacArthur – Receiving Spiritual Enlightenment

John MacArthur

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened” (Eph. 1:18).

Spiritual enlightenment doesn’t come through self-effort orintrospective meditation but through God’s Holy Spirit.

Our society has been enamored with the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment, especially since the influx of Eastern thought into the West duringthe 1960s. Now we are drowning in a sea of false religions and New Age philosophies.

True enlightenment continues to elude many because they have denied itssource and have turned to gurus and teachers who have no light to give. They propagate self-effort and introspective meditation, but spiritual enlightenment doesn’t come through such means. It comes only through the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14-16). That’s why Paul prayed that God Himself would enlighten the hearts of the Ephesian believers (Eph. 1:18).

We might expect Paul to pray for enlightened minds rather than hearts, butthat’s because we associate the word heart with emotions rather than with thought. But in Hebrew and Greek thinking, the heart was considered the seatof knowledge, thinking, and understanding. For example, Jesus said that evilthoughts come out of the heart (Matt. 15:19). Emotions are important, butthey must be guided and controlled by an enlightened mind.

How does the Spirit enlighten you? As you pray and study God’s Word, He transforms and renews your mind (Rom. 12:2) by filling you with “the knowledge of [God’s] will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col. 1:9). He teaches you to recognize and uphold what is excellent so that you will be “sincere and blameless” before God (Phil. 1:10). He implants Biblical truthinto your thinking so that your responses become more and more like Christ’s.

How wonderful to know that each moment of the day God is workingwithin you in such a way. Be diligent to pray and spend time in the Word sothat your spiritual progress will be evident to all (1 Tim. 4:15).

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank God for the Spirit’s transforming work within you.

Reaffirm your love for Him, and express your willingness to bechanged by His Spirit in any way He sees fit.

Be alert for attitudes or actionsthat need to be changed. Rely on His grace and strength in doing so.

For Further Study:

Read Genesis 27–33, noting how God used the events of Jacob’s life to transform his weak spiritual commitment to one that was strong and unconditional (see especially Gen. 28:20-22; 32:9-12).

 

Joyce Meyer – Simply Grace

Joyce meyer

Through Him also we have [our] access (entrance, introduction) by faith into this grace (state of God’s favor) in which we [firmly and safely] stand. And let us rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God.—Romans 5:2

Actually, the grace of God is not complicated or confusing. It is simple, and that’s why many people miss it. There is nothing more powerful than grace. In fact, everything in the Bible—salvation, the infilling of the Holy Spirit, fellowship with God, and all victory in our daily lives—is based upon it. Without grace, we are nothing, we have nothing, we can do nothing. If it were not for the grace of God, we would all be miserable and hopeless.

In Luke 2:40 we are told that as a child, Jesus grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace (favor and spiritual blessing) of God was upon Him. This verse contains everything we need to be happy, healthy, prosperous, and successful in our Christian walk.

We often talk about all the things we need, but in reality there is only one thing that we need, and it is the same thing that Jesus needed: we need to become strong in spirit, filled with God’s wisdom and having His grace upon us. If you and I will allow the grace of God to have full reign in our life, nothing will be impossible to us. Without that grace, nothing is possible to us.

As Paul wrote to the believers in his day, everything we are and do and have is by the grace of God. You and I are one hundred percent helpless. Although we often confess as Paul did, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” that is only true by the grace of God (SEE Romans 3:24; 1 Corinthians 15:10; Ephesians 2:8).

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Christ Our Attorney

dr_bright

“If anyone publicly acknowledges Me as his friend, I will openly acknowledge him as My friend before My Father in heaven. But if anyone publicly denies Me, I will openly deny him before My Father in heaven” (Matthew 10:32,33).

Some time ago, I challenged a famous and successful statesman to share his Christian faith.

“I believe that religion is personal and private, not something to wear on your sleeve,” he replied. “I am a Christian, but I don’t want to talk about it.”

I reminded him that Jesus loved him enough to die for him. His disciples were so convinced of the urgency of passing on to others the message of God’s love and forgiveness through Christ that they, and many thousands like them – though they died as martyrs – did not give up their efforts to get the message to us.

Further, I reminded him of the words of Jesus, “He that is not with Me is against Me” (Matthew 12:30, KJV) and the passage above from Matthew 10.

He was very sobered by my remarks. After a few minutes, he said, “I agree with you. I realize how wrong I have been. I had never realized how far off course I had gotten. I need to rethink all of my priorities and give Christ His rightful place in my life.”

“My challenge to laymen,” R. G. Le Tourneau, one of America’s leading industrialists and Christian statesmen, once said, “is that when Christ said, ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel,’ He did not mean only preachers but everyone who believed in Him as the Lord of glory…….My challenge to you is for a return to this first-century conception of Christianity where every believer is a witness to the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Bible Reading: Psalm 119:41-48

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will publicly acknowledge my love for Christ, and through the enabling of the Holy Spirit I will live today so that others will want what I have, and I will speak so that they will know what I have.

 

Presidential Prayer Team; J.K. – Loving Tones

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The passages preceding today’s verse in Psalm 19 speak of the law of the Lord as being perfect and sure, right and pure. Obedience of His commands was required of His people. Their response to His precepts either gave them a great reward or unwanted discipline.

By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

Psalm 19:11

It was all about a relationship…God sought to guide by speaking through His Word, and His people responded. Some today resist authority and seek to do what they want, but Old Testament believers understood that the Lord’s call to obedience was His invitation to blessing. It was not a cold, impersonal demand; it was His loving invitation to experience His best for them.

God wants the same for you. Know Him. Hear both the warnings and the promises…in the warmest and most loving of tones. If you truly love and trust Him, obedience will affirm that you have confidence that He is living and able.

Read Scripture each day. Make it a priority. Let it be your warning lest you fall into sin and temptation. And let it be your blessing of peace. Then intercede for the leaders of this nation that they would not rebel against God’s Word, but instead be guided by it.

Recommended Reading: I Peter 3:8-17  Click to Read or Listen

 

 

Greg Laurie – Crowded Out

greglaurie

The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity. —Luke 8:14

I have always been amazed by weeds. You can take a little flower, plant it in the perfect location, water it, and make sure there are no pests to threaten it. You can do everything possible for that flower, and it will slowly grow. But then, in the same amount of time, some weed springs up from a little crack in the sidewalk and that weed chokes out the flower.

But the weed doesn’t suddenly burst out of the ground, grab the flower, and start shaking it. The process is gradual. First, there is a flower growing, and then the weed appears. The next day, the weed is a little closer. And on it goes until the weed starts to wrap itself around the flower and choke out its growth.

That is what Jesus was describing in the parable of the sower when He spoke about those who are “choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity” (Luke 8:14). This isn’t something that happens overnight; it happens over a period of time.

I also find it interesting that it is the “cares, riches, and pleasures of life” that prevent the seed of God’s Word from maturing and producing fruit. These aren’t necessarily bad things in and of themselves. But these are good things that become the most important things and choke out the spiritual things.

This is not a picture of someone who says they don’t want to pray, read the Bible, or go to church. Rather, this represents someone who thinks those are good things to do. But over time, they start losing interest, and the things of this world become more important to them than the things of the next world. And that is what chokes them out spiritually.

 

Max Lucado – The Power of a Seed

Max Lucado

Want to see a miracle? Take a small seed, put it under several inches of dirt. Give it light, water, and fertilizer. It doesn’t matter that the ground is a zillion times the weight of the seed. The seed will push it back! Never underestimate the power of a seed.

James, the epistle writer, wasn’t a farmer.  But he knew the power of a seed sown in fertile soil. “Those who are peacemakers,” he said, “will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness” (James 3:18).

How good are you at sowing seeds of peace? Jesus modeled peace through acts of love, washing the feet of men he knew would betray him, and honoring the sinful woman whom society had scorned.

Want to see a miracle? Plant a word of love heart-deep in a person’s life. Nurture it with a smile and a prayer, and watch what happens!

From The Applause of Heaven

 

Charles Stanley – Our God Is Able

Charles Stanley

Jude 1:24-25

People fail. We do not like this reality, but there are times when, no matter how hard we try or how talented we may be, we simply do not succeed or reach our goal.

How are we to succeed at a given task, especially in situations when the odds are against us? For believers in Christ Jesus, the answer is to live out a radical faith in the knowledge that our God is willing and able to overcome our weaknesses.

Sarah laughed when she overheard the Lord prophesy that she would bear a son. “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?” He asked (Gen. 18:14). Within a year, that question was answered when the elderly woman gave birth to baby Isaac. She saw that God was able to accomplish the unimaginable.

When God sent Moses to Pharaoh to demand the release of the Hebrew slaves, Moses was scared. “Who am I,” he asked, “that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the Sons of Israel out of Egypt?” (Ex. 3:11). God replied with assurance that He would pave the way for the Hebrews’ release, which He did in a miraculous way. Truly, Moses saw that God was more than able.

On our own, we can accomplish nothing (John 15:5). However, when we operate within the will of God, we have access to a limitless power source that far exceeds our comprehension (1 Chron. 29:12). If you are overcome by the burdens of the world, it is time to throw yourself into the arms of the only one who can carry your heavy load (Matt. 11:28-30). Trust in Him and learn for yourself that God is able.

 

 

Our Daily Bread — Load Line

Our Daily Bread

1 Peter 5:5-9

Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. —1 Peter 5:6-7

In the 19th century, ships were often recklessly overloaded, resulting in those ships going down and the crews being lost at sea. In 1875, to remedy this negligent practice, British politician Samuel Plimsoll led the charge for legislation to create a line on the side of a ship to show if it was carrying too much cargo. That “load line” became known as the Plimsoll Line, and it continues to mark the hulls of ships today.

Sometimes, like those ships, our lives can seem overloaded with fears, struggles, and heartaches. We can even feel that we are in danger of going under. In those times, however, it is reassuring to remember that we have a remarkable resource. We have a heavenly Father who stands ready to help us carry that load. The apostle Peter said, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7). He is capable of handling the cares that overwhelm us.

Though the testings of life may feel like a burden too heavy to bear, we can have full assurance that our heavenly Father loves us deeply and knows our load limits. Whatever we face, He will help us to bear it. —Bill Crowder

Heavenly Father, I sometimes feel as if I can’t go

on. I am tired, I am weak, and I am worn. Thank You

that You know my limits better than I do. And that, in

Your strength, I can find the enablement to endure.

God may lead us into troubled waters to deepen our trust in Him.

Bible in a year: Exodus 7-8; Matthew 15:1-20

 

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – God and Pain

Ravi Z

The difficult question of pain forms a thorny question on which volumes have been written. Why do the innocent suffer? Why do we face all these diseases? Why the suffering of millions because of natural disasters or the tyranny of demagogues? I do not pretend to have the answers, but one thing I know: pain is a universal fact of life. Likewise, there are moral dimensions in the way we phrase our questions concerning pain, and every religion explicitly or implicitly attempts to explain pain.

But why do we even ask these questions about suffering within the context of morality? Why have we blended the fact of physical pain with the demand for a moral explanation? Who decided that pain is immoral? Indeed, almost every atheist or skeptic you read names this as the main reason for his or her denial of God’s existence.

In the Judeo-Christian framework, pain is connected to the reality of evil and to the choices made by humanity at the beginning of time. The problem of pain and the problem of evil are inextricably bound. So when we assume evil, we assume good. When we assume good, we assume a moral law. And when we assume a moral law, we assume a moral law-giver.

You may ask, Why does assuming a moral law necessitate a moral lawgiver? Because every time the question of evil is raised, it is either by a person or about a person—and that implicitly assumes that the question is a worthy one. But it is a worthy question only if people have intrinsic worth, and the only reason people have intrinsic worth is that they are the creations of One who is of ultimate worth. That person is God. So the question self-destructs for the naturalist or the pantheist. The question of the morality of evil or pain is valid only for a theist.

And only in Christian theism is love preexistent within the Trinity, which means that love precedes human life and becomes the absolute value for us. This absolute is ultimately found only in God, and in knowing and loving God we work our way through the struggles of pain, knowing of its ultimate connection to evil and its ultimate destruction by the One who is all-good and all-loving; who in fact has given us the very basis for the words good and love both in concept and in language.

Not far from my home lives a young woman who was born with a very rare disease called CIPA, congenital insensitivity to pain with anhydrosis. Imagine having a body that looks normal and acts normally, except for one thing: You cannot feel physical pain. That sounds as if it would be a blessing. But the reason it’s a problem is that she lives under the constant threat of injuring herself without knowing it. If she steps on a rusty nail that could infect her bloodstream, she wouldn’t even realize it by sensation. If she placed her hand on a burning stove, she would not know she had just burned her hand except by looking at it. She needs constant vigilance because she could sustain an injury that could take her life or cause serious debilitation. When her family was interviewed some years ago, the line I most remember is the closing statement by her mother. She said, “I pray every night for my daughter, that God would give her a sense of pain.”

If that statement were read in a vacuum, we would wonder what sort of mother she is. But because more than anyone else she understands the risks of this strange disease, there is no greater prayer she can pray than that her daughter feel pain and be able to recognize what it portends.

I ask you this simple question: If, in our finitude, we can appreciate the value of pain in even one single life, is it that difficult to grant the possibility that an infinite God can use pain to point us to a greater malady? We see through a glass darkly because all we want is to be comfortable. We cannot understand the great plan of an all-knowing God who brings us near through the value of pain—or of disappointment with pleasure.

And yet the very thing that enslaves and traps us becomes the indicator of our need for God and the means to draw us to the recognition of our own finitude and to the rescuing grace of God. The pain of pain may well clasp the lifesaving hand of God and draw us into God’s arms.

Ravi Zacharias is founder and chairman of the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

 

Alistair Begg – “We Remember Your Love”

Alistair Begg

We will extol your love more than wine.

Song of Songs 1:4

Jesus will not let His people forget His love. If all the love they have enjoyed should be forgotten, He will visit them with fresh love. “Do you forget my cross?” says He. “I will cause you to remember it; for at My table I will manifest Myself anew to you. Do you forget what I did for you in the council-chamber of eternity? I will remind you of it, for you shall need a counselor and shall find Me ready at your call.”

Mothers do not let their children forget them. If the boy has gone to Australia and does not write home, his mother writes, “Has John forgotten his mother?” Then there comes back a sweet epistle, which proves that the gentle reminder was not in vain. So is it with Jesus. He says to us, “Remember Me,” and our response is, “We will remember Your love.” We will remember Your love and its matchless history. It is as ancient as the glory that You had with the Father before the world was. We remember, O Jesus, Your eternal love when You became our Surety and chose us as Your bride. We remember the love that suggested the sacrifice of Yourself, the love that, until the fullness of time, mused over that sacrifice until what was written of You (“Lo, I come”) was fulfilled. We remember Your love, O Jesus, as it was manifest to us in Your holy life, from the manger of Bethlehem to the Garden of Gethsemane. We track You from the cradle to the grave–for Your every word and deed was love–and we rejoice in Your love, which death did not exhaust–Your love that shone resplendent in Your resurrection. We remember that burning fire of love that will never let You hold Your peace until Your chosen ones be all safely housed, until Zion be glorified and Jerusalem settled on her everlasting foundations of light and love in heaven.