Tag Archives: love

Presidential Prayer Team; C.P. – Sing It Out

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After 52 days of hard labor, fighting enemies and dealing with internal problems, the Israelites and their leader Nehemiah finished the temple wall. The wall not only protected them, but it also reestablished Jerusalem as a city of worship. “And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, with thanksgivings and with singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres.” (Nehemiah 12:27)

I brought the leaders of Judah up onto the wall and appointed two great choirs that gave thanks.

Nehemiah 12:31

Today, choirs aren’t to entertain and encourage God’s people, though they may do that. Their primary purpose is to lead the congregation in praise and gratitude to the Lord. Worship and giving thanks isn’t just a nice idea. It should be an important part of daily Christian life. God is great and mighty and worthy of all praise and thanksgiving!

And here’s a bonus: if your mind is busy giving thanks, it will spend less time in fear and worry. Today, and every day, give thanks for the nation’s blessings and pray for God’s help and intervention in its troubles.

Recommended Reading: Psalm 100

 

 

Greg Laurie – Barriers to Answered Prayer

greglaurie

These people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men. —Isaiah 29:13

You may have heard the old adage that says there are no atheists in foxholes. Actually, I think there may be some. But when the chips are down, most people will pray.

Remember the story of Jonah? He ran from God and boarded a boat that was going in the opposite direction of Nineveh, where God had told him to go. A great storm came, and the terrified sailors started calling on their gods. Meanwhile, Jonah had found his way to the ship’s hold and was sound asleep. The captain found Jonah and said, “What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish” (Jonah 1:6).

That is the way most people are. When we are in danger, we will call on God. But it is possible to pray all day long and never communicate with God. We can fervently say our prayers and never be heard. In Luke 18 we find a story Jesus told about a Pharisee and a tax collector who went to the temple to pray. The Pharisee “stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men’ ” (verse 11). Meanwhile, the tax collector prayed, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (verse 13). Jesus said that God heard the prayer of the sinner rather than the words of the self-righteous Pharisee.

You can pray and never really have a relationship with God. You can offer up prayers and never really pray. Psalm 66:18 says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.” You can pray with all the passion and consistency in the world, but if your sin has not been confessed to God, then it won’t do you any good.

Charles Stanley – When Temptation Knocks

Charles Stanley

What makes a person successful at resisting temptation? I believe the best way to discover how to overcome temptation is to look at the One who dealt with every temptation successfully and consistently. The writer of Hebrews wrote of Christ:

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15).

Since Jesus successfully overcame temptation, we would do well to study his strategy for dealing with it. Unfortunately, we have only one clear passage of Scripture describing Christ’s encounter with temptation. We know from the Hebrews passage cited above that He was tempted more often than this, but the Holy Spirit chose not to include these in the Gospels.

Strangely enough, Jesus’ approach is so straightforward and simple that many believers tend to overlook it entirely. Others, after hearing it, make the most ridiculous excuses as to why they can not follow His example.

What was His strategy? After 40 days of fasting in the desert, Jesus used Scripture, and only Scripture, to resist Satan’s temptation (Matt. 4:1-11). This is hard for me to comprehend. The Son of God—the One who knows all things and has the power to do all things, the One whose words we study, memorize, and meditate on—never made an original comment during the entire interaction.

He never drew on his own wit. He never even relied on His own power. He simply responded with the truth of God’s Word. That’s all it took. Nothing fancy. Just the plain truth directed at the deception behind each of Satan’s requests. Jesus verbally confronted Satan with the truth, and eventually Satan gave up and left.

There are four primary reasons why a well-chosen passage or verse of Scripture is so effective against temptation.

First of all, God’s Word exposes the sinfulness of what you are being tempted to do. One of Satan’s subtle snares is to convince you that sin is really not so bad after all. God’s Word allows you to see things for what they really are.

A second reason the Word of God is so effective against temptation is that you gain God’s viewpoint through it. Since many temptations carry a strong emotional punch, you tend to get caught up in your feelings. Once you identify with the feelings temptation evokes, it becomes increasingly difficult to respond correctly. The truth of Scripture allows you to separate yourself just far enough mentally to deal with it successfully.

Another reason for turning to God’s Word in times of temptation is what one pastor calls the principle of displacement.1 This principle is based on the premise that it is impossible not to think about a seductive topic unless you turn your attention elsewhere. When you turn your thoughts to the Word of God during temptation, you do just that (Phil. 4:8).

If you don’t shift your attention away from the temptation, you may begin some form of mental dialogue: I really shouldn’t. But I haven’t done this in a long time. I am really going to hate myself later. Why not? I’ve already blown it. I’ll do it just this once, and tomorrow I’ll start over. When you allow these little discussions to begin, you’re sunk. The longer you talk, the more time the temptation has to settle into your emotions and will.

The fourth reason the Word of God is so effective against temptation is that you are expressing faith when you turn your attention to His Word. You are saying, “I believe God is able to get me through this; I believe He is mightier than the power of sin, my flesh, and Satan himself.” Nothing moves God like the active faith of His people.

To effectively combat the onslaughts of the enemy, you need an arsenal of verses on the tip of your tongue. Verses so familiar that they come to mind without any conscious effort on your part. If you have to dig them up from the caverns of your memory, they will do you no good. There isn’t time for that in the midst of temptation.

Begin memorizing scriptures that address the area that troubles you the most. Quote them audibly when you are tempted. When you speak the truth out loud, it’s as if you have taken a stand with God against the enemy. When I do this, I often feel a sense of courage and conviction sweeping over me. Remember, if the perfect, sinless, sovereign Son of God relied on Scripture to pull Him through, what hope do you have without it?

1. Bud Palmberg, “Private Sins of Public Ministry,” Leadership magazine (Winter 1988)

Adapted from “Winning the War Within: Facing Trials, Temptations and Inner Struggles by Charles F. Stanley, 1988.

 

Our Daily Bread — Hero Over Sin

Our Daily Bread

1 John 1

Create in me a clean heart, O God. —Psalm 51:10

Not long ago, someone asked me a very tough question: “What is the longest you have gone without sinning? A week, a day, an hour?” How can we answer a question like that? If we’re truthful, we might say, “I can’t live a day without sinning.” Or if we look back over the past week, we might see that we haven’t confessed to God even one sin. But we would be fooling ourselves if we said we hadn’t sinned in our thoughts or actions for a week.

God knows our hearts and whether we’re sensitive to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. If we really know ourselves, we take 1 John 1:8 to heart, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” We certainly don’t want verse 10 to be true of us, “If we say that we have not sinned, . . . His word is not in us.”

A more encouraging question to ask might be: “What is God’s response to our admission of sin and need for forgiveness?” The answer: “If we confess . . . , He is faithful and just to forgive us” (v.9). Jesus has taken our sin problem upon Himself by dying in our place and rising again. That’s why He can create in us “a clean heart” (Ps. 51:10). My young friend Jaydon is right when he says, “Jesus is the hero over our sins.” —Anne Cetas

No one can say he doesn’t need

Forgiveness for his sin,

For all must come to Christ by faith

To have new life within. —Branon

Christ’s forgiveness is the door to a new beginning.

Bible in a year: Ezekiel 5-7; Hebrews 12

 

Alistair Begg – A Desire for God’s Glory

Alistair Begg

To him be glory forever. Amen.

Romans 11:36

To him be glory forever.” This should be the single desire of the Christian. All other wishes must be subservient and serve as tributaries to this.

The Christian may wish for prosperity in his business, but only inasmuch as it may help him to promote this-“To him be glory forever.”

He may desire to attain more gifts and more graces, but it should only be that he may declare, “To him be glory forever.”

You are not acting as you ought to do when you are moved by any other motive than a single focus on the Lord’s glory. As a Christian, you are “from him and through him,” and so you must live “to him.” Do not let anything set your heart beating so fast as love for Him. Let this ambition fire your soul; may this be the foundation of every enterprise upon which you enter, and your sustaining motive whenever your zeal would grow cold.Make God your only object. Depend upon it-where self begins, sorrow begins; but if God is my supreme delight and only object,

To me ’tis equal whether love ordain

My life or death-appoint me ease or pain.

Let your desire for God’s glory be a growing desire. You blessed Him in your youth; do not be content with such praises as you gave Him then.

Has God prospered you in business? Give Him more as He has given you more.

Has God given you experience? Praise Him by stronger faith than you exercised at the beginning. Does your knowledge grow? Then sing more sweetly.

Do you enjoy happier times than you once had? Have you been restored from sickness, and has your sorrow been turned into peace and joy? Then give Him more music; put more coals and more sweet spices into the censer of your praise.

Practically in your life give Him honor, offering the “Amen” of this doxology to your great and gracious Lord by your own individual service and increasing holiness.

Charles Spurgeon – The work of the Holy Spirit

CharlesSpurgeon

“Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” Galatians 3:3

Suggested Further Reading: John 3:1-8

It is simple enough for a man that hath the Spirit in him to believe, when he hath the written Word before him and the witness of the Spirit in him; that is easy enough. But for the poor, tried sinner, who cannot see anything in the Word of God but thunder and threatening—for him to believe—ah, my brethren, it is not such a little matter as some make it to be. It needs the fulness of the power of God’s Spirit to bring any man to such a faith as that. Well, when the sinner has thus believed, then the Holy Spirit brings all the precious things to him. There is the blood of Jesus; that can never save my soul, unless God the Spirit takes that blood, and sprinkles it upon my conscience. There is the perfect spotless righteousness of Jesus; it is a robe that will fit me and adorn me from head to foot, but it is no use to me till I have put it on; and I cannot put it on myself; God the Holy Spirit must put the robe of Jesus’ righteousness on me. There is the covenant of adoption, whereby God gives me the privileges of a son; but I cannot rejoice in my adoption until I receive the spirit of adoption whereby I may be able to cry, “Abba, Father.” So, beloved, you see that every point that is brought out in the experience of the new-born Christian, every point in that part of salvation which we call its beginning in the soul, has to do with God the Holy Spirit. There is no step that can be taken without him, there is nothing which can be accomplished aright without him.

For meditation: It is impossible to begin in the flesh and end up with the Spirit (John 6:63-64; Romans 8:9).

Sermon no. 178

17 November (Preached 5 November 1857)

John MacArthur – Focusing on Heaven

John MacArthur

“By faith [Abraham] lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:9-10).

Following God’s call isn’t always easy. He expects us to trust Him explicitly, yet doesn’t ask our advise on decisions that may impact us dramatically. He doesn’t tell us His specific plans at any given point in our lives. He doesn’t always shelter us from adversity. He tests our faith to produce endurance and spiritual maturity–tests that are sometimes painful. He makes some promises that we’ll never see fulfilled in this life.

If following God’s call is a challenge for us, imagine how it was for Abraham, who had no Bible, no pastor, no sermons, no commentaries, and no Christian encouragement or accountability. But what he did have was the promise of a nation, a land, and a blessing (Gen. 12:1-3). That was good enough for him.

Abraham never settled in the land of promise. Neither did his son Isaac or grandson Jacob. They were aliens, dwelling in tents like nomads. Abraham never built houses or cities. The only way he would possess the land was by faith. Yet Abraham patiently waited for God’s promises to be fulfilled.

As important as the earthly land was to him, Abraham was patient because his sight was on his heavenly home, “the city . . . whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10). He knew beyond any doubt that he would inherit that city, whether or not he ever saw his earthly home in his lifetime.

Similarly, being heavenly minded gives you the patience to continue working for the Lord when things get tough. It’s the best cure I know for discouragement or spiritual fatigue. That’s why Paul says to set your mind “on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Col. 3:2). If your mind is set on heaven, you can endure whatever happens here.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Praise God for your heavenly home.

Seek His grace to help you keep a proper perspective amid the difficulties of this life.

For Further Study:

Read the portion of Abraham’s life recorded in Genesis 12- 17.

 

Joyce Meyer – You Can Be Content in All Circumstances

Joyce meyer

I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am.

—Philippians 4:11

People of God should be peaceful, joyful, thankful, and content. In Philippians 4:11, Paul said he “learned how to be content.” Well, I don’t know about you, but I spent many years, even as a believer, before I learned contentment, and I believe there are many others who struggle as I did trying to find it. You may be one of them.

I knew how to be satisfied if I was getting my own way—if everything was working exactly as I had planned—but how often does that happen? Very rarely, in my experience.

I knew absolutely nothing about how to handle even the ordinary trials that come along in most every person’s life. I didn’t know how to adapt to other people and things. I found out that a person who can only be satisfied when there are no disturbances in life will spend a great deal of time being discontented.

I finally desired stability enough that I was willing to learn whatever it took to have it. I wanted to be satisfied no matter what was going on around me.

The Amplified Bible defines the word content as “satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted in whatever state I am in.” I appreciate this definition, because it does not say that I must be satisfied to the point where I don’t ever want change, but I can be satisfied to the point that I am not anxious or disturbed. I desperately wanted, and now enjoy, that kind of peace. How about you?

Trusting God and refusing to complain during hard times greatly honors Him. It is of no value to talk of how much we trust God only when all is well. But when difficulty comes, then we should say and sincerely mean, “I trust You, Lord.” He delights in a contented child. I have come to believe being content is one of the greatest ways we can glorify Him. Be content where you are while you are waiting for what you want or need.

Trust in Him: Don’t wait until everything is perfect before you decide to enjoy your everyday life. Trust God and be content regardless of your circumstances.

Presidential Prayer Team; J.K. – Today’s Blessings

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It’s hard to be saved if you’re not first lost. Similarly, it’s difficult to be thankful if you don’t understand the gift that’s been given to you. When you are self-centered, you tend to be oblivious to everyday blessings and focus on the wrong things.

When he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body…Do this in remembrance of me.”

I Corinthians 11:24

The apostle Paul reprimanded the Corinthians for abusing the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. They had turned the remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice into a potluck dinner where the rich served themselves but left the poor in their congregation hungry and wanting. It was a time to remember what Jesus had done for them…a time for spiritual growth and blessing for all.

Christ came and died for you; it was not His life or His teachings that saved the sinner from sin, but His death and resurrection. In response, the believer should approach the Communion service with an unselfish heart and with great thanksgiving.

The tendency to concentrate on issues that bother you instead of looking to Jesus and seeing today’s blessings – spiritual, physical and material – makes for an ungrateful person. Pray for that not to be true in your life or in the lives of those who lead this nation.

Recommended Reading: Psalm 16

Charles Stanley – Guilty No More

Charles Stanley

Romans 5:8-9

How can we say that the Lord has declared us “not guilty” of our sin? The first thing we have to understand is that this act was completely God’s doing. We can do absolutely nothing to remove the stain of our own sin. It is for this reason that the Father sent His Son into the world.

The one satisfactory payment for sin is death (Rom. 6:23), and because God wanted to spare us that punishment, He provided the only way out. He gave the perfect sacrifice: His son, Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:8).

What did this loving act accomplish? It enabled us to approach almighty God as clean, pure, and holy men and women. Our purity is not related to anything we ourselves have done; it is due exclusively to the fact that we have been purified in Jesus’ blood. That’s why we can say we have been “washed in the blood,” which is the only way the stain of sin can be removed.

When we come into a saving relationship with Jesus, the first thing to happen is that we are justified—in other words, God declares us “not guilty.” This means that as believers, we can stand in the presence of a perfect, holy God, because He now sees us as His own children.

Am I saying we’ll never sin? No. However, when we place our faith in Jesus Christ as Savior, the penalty for all of our sin—past, present, and future—has been paid, and we will never face God’s condemnation (Rom. 8:1). Thank your heavenly Father today, not only for forgiving your sin, but also for freeing you from the burden of guilt.

 

Charles Spurgeon – God’s barriers against man’s sin

CharlesSpurgeon

“Fear ye not me? saith the Lord: will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it? But this people hath a revolting and rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone.” Jeremiah 5:22-23

Suggested Further Reading: Isaiah 1:1-4

God here contrasts the obedience of the strong, the mighty, the untamed sea, with the rebellious character of his own people. “The sea,” saith he, “obeys me; it never breaks its boundary; it never leaps from its channel; it obeys me in all its movements. But man, poor puny man, the little creature whom I could crush as the moth, will not be obedient to me. The sea obeys me from shore to shore, without reluctance, and its ebbing floods, as they retire from its bed, each of them says to me, in the voices of the pebbles, ‘O Lord, we are obedient to thee, for thou art our master.’ But my people”, says God, “are a revolting and a rebellious people; they go astray from me.” And is it not, my brethren, a marvellous thing, that the whole earth is obedient to God, save man? Even the mighty leviathan, who maketh the deep to be hoary, sinneth not against God, but his course is ordered according to his Almighty Master’s decree. Stars, those wondrous masses of light, are easily directed by the very wish of God; clouds, though they seem erratic in their movement, have God for their pilot; “he maketh the clouds his chariot;” and the winds, though they seem restive beyond control, yet do they blow, or cease to blow just as God wills. In heaven, on earth, even in the lower regions, we could scarcely find such a disobedience as that which is practised by man; at least, in heaven, there is a cheerful obedience; and in hell there is constrained submission to God, while on earth man makes the base exception, he is continually revolting and rebelling against his Maker.

For meditation: Jonah, a great wind, a great fish, a plant, a worm, an east wind (Jonah 1:3,4,17; 2:10; 4:6-8)—which is the odd one out?

Answer: God’s servant Jonah—the rest obeyed God at once. This should humble us!

Sermon no. 220

16 November (1856)

John MacArthur – Stepping out in Faith

John MacArthur

“By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Heb. 11:8).

Abraham is the classic example of the life of faith. As the father of the Jewish nation, he was the most strategic example of faith available to the writer of Hebrews. But the people to whom Hebrews was written needed to understand that Abraham was more than the father of their race; he also was, by example, the father of everyone who lives by faith in God (Rom. 4:11).

Contrary to popular first-century Jewish thought, God didn’t choose Abraham because he was righteous in himself. When called by God, Abraham was a sinful man living in an idolatrous society. His home was in the Chaldean city of Ur, which was located in ancient Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

God’s call to Abraham is recorded in Genesis 12:1-3: “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Note Abraham’s response: “So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him” (v. 4). He listened, trusted, and obeyed. His pilgrimage of faith began when he separated himself from the pleasures of a pagan land to pursue God’s plan for his life.

So it is with you if you’re a man or woman of true faith. You’ve forsaken sinful pleasures to follow Christ. And as your love for Christ increases, there’s a corresponding decrease in worldly desires.

I pray your focus will continually be on fulfilling God’s will for your life, and that you’ll always know the joy and assurance that comes from following Him.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Ask God for the grace and spiritual fortitude to walk by faith today.

For Further Study:

Memorize 1 John 2:15 as a reminder to remain separate from the world.

 

 

Joyce Meyer – Steps In The Right Direction

Joyce meyer

Let each one of us make it a practice to please (make happy) his neighbor for his good and for his true welfare, to edify him [to strengthen him and build him up spiritually].—Romans 15:1, 2

Today’s scripture give us great advice, but we usually do the opposite of what it advises us to do. We want others to live to make us happy and do what pleases us. The result is that no matter what people do, we are rarely happy and satisfied.

The ways of the world, which are focused on “self,” do not work and the condition our society is in today proves that. In general people are more selfish than ever; they are also more dissatisfied. God’s ways do work and His way is to genuinely love other people. If we do as He instructs we may make some sacrifices, but we will have a kind of joy that cannot be found anywhere except in the center of God’s will. We will also be obeying His great commandment, which is to love one another.

Will you be honest and ask yourself some questions that may be difficult to answer but will bring you face-to-face with where you are in the whole theme of loving other people? How much do you do for others? Are you trying to find out what people want and need so you can provide it for them? Are you sincerely trying to know the people in your life in a genuine way? How well do you really even know the people in your own family?

As I answered these questions a few years ago, I was appalled at the level of selfishness in my life even though I had been a Christian minister for many years. The bottom line was that I was selfish and self-centered and I needed to change. These changes did not come easily or quickly, neither are they completed, but as I press on daily I am making progress and I am happier all the time.

Love Others Today: How are you doing on your love walk? Take a few extra steps today.

 

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Gives the Victory

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“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57, KJV).

In our busy lives, yours and mine, there are days when victory seems an impossibility. Heartaches, trials, burdens, or just the ordinary cares of the day, all seem foreign to the idea of being victorious.

And yet the fact remains that we are “more than conquerors” even when we do not feel like it. God graciously allows His children to be human and to express our doubts and fears when suffering and pain and testing and trial seem to overwhelm us.

“I have to be very honest,” confessed Joyce Landorf, well-known Christian author and speaker, during a long period of illness. “One of the things I have learned from severe pain is that I have felt totally abandoned by God. I didn’t think he’d let that happen to me, but He has.

“And maybe the feeling of abandonment when pain is at its writhing best..maybe that’s what makes it so sweet after the pain goes and the Lord says, ‘I was here all the time. I haven’t left you. I will never forsake you.’ Now those words get sweeter to me because I know what it has felt like to not feel His presence.”

We do not have all the answers, but we know one who does. And that is where our victory begins – acknowledging (1) that God is a God of love, one who never makes a mistake, and (2) he will never leave us or forsake us.

Bible Reading: Romans 7:18-25

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will consider myself a victor, whatever may transpire, because I serve the victorious one

 

Presidential Prayer Team; J.R. – Strong Strands

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Imagine a strand of wire about as thick as the lead of a pencil. It might be strong enough to support the weight of a few hundred pounds…maybe. Now think about the Brooklyn Bridge. It weighs about 15,000 tons, stretches for more than a mile, and has stood for 130 years. You would consider the wire ordinary and the bridge magnificent. But the Brooklyn Bridge is made mostly of those thin strands of wire, thousands of them intricately laid together. “The strength of the finished cable,” wrote historian David McCollough in The Great Bridge, “would depend on getting each strand into its exact, particular position.”

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

Colossians 3:15

Christians often overlook the importance of unity, but believers in Jesus are “called in one body.” You are an integral part of God’s plan to bring people into relationship with Him, and others will be drawn to the Savior through you…but only when you are in the particular position God has for you. Your spiritual strength is maximized when you work with other believers as the Lord intended.

May America’s Christian leaders and citizens not be seen as frayed and splayed, but as one body – united and strong!

Recommended Reading: Ephesians 2:11-21

 

 

Ravi Zacharias – Will and Impulse

Ravi Z

Author Daniel Goleman wrote a best-selling book in 1995 called Emotional Intelligence. He begins that book with the heart-stirring story of Gary and Mary Jean Chauncey who were in the Amtrak train that went down over a bridge into swirling waters which swallowed up the lives of many. They themselves were trapped in their compartment as they tried desperately to save their eleven year-old wheelchair ridden daughter Andrea. They succeeded in saving her life, and they did so at the cost of their own.

In describing this noble act, Goleman points out that such emotionally charged moments do not give birth to impulse in a vacuum, but rather it is the outworking of a commitment to certain values and truths already made in one’s life. I believe Goleman is right in this sense. What is most obvious in the love and commitment of these parents to their young one is that passionate commitments never stand alone; they stand on the foundation of a worldview.

I mention this holding thought of many wars and much heartache around the globe, killings, insurgencies, and other manmade devastations. We shake our heads in disbelief that murderous and cruel individuals can masquerade throughout the world as heroes and saviors. They are not. They are destroyers of lives, addicted to hate and power. The truth is that many have wedded hate to their own selfish wills, and once hate lives in the human heart reason dies.

In fact, this is why Jesus said that it is not murder that is the crime; it is hate, the foundation where it all begins. He said that it is not adultery that makes a relationship wrong; it is the lust from where it all begins. You see, our actions do not come just by impulse. They come by a system of values to which our lives are deeply committed. Murderers and masterminds of violence and oppression are rarely emotionally deranged people; they are morally perverted. Their thinking is destructive and their emotions follow.

There is a simple lesson here. We must learn to think righteously if we are to act righteously. We must think justly and honorably and mercifully if we are to act with goodness and honor and mercy. And for this kind of strength, only God’s power is big enough. I hope your life and mine can learn to think God’s thoughts. Only then can hate be conquered and life be lived with truth and love.

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

Charles Stanley – Understanding Guilty Feelings

Charles Stanley

James 2:10

Think about how you feel when doing something you know you shouldn’t. Most likely a stinging conscience makes you realize that you feel guilty.

What is guilt? Perhaps you think of it as a nagging sense that the Lord is out to get you. Or you might feel isolated from God or others because of some dark cloud of regret. Obviously, there are different ways to interpret guilt; identifying exactly what it is will allow us to move ahead on the road to spiritual maturity.

When our behavior is in conflict with guidance from the Spirit of God residing in us, we will experience an emotional response. That’s all guilt is: emotional pain caused by something we have done. Put another way, guilt describes our taking responsibility for doing wrong, whether it be a thought, action, careless word, or something else.

While it is good to have this inner alarm, we have to guard against the inclination to wallow in shame. At times we behave so badly that we’re completely overcome with remorse, and we refuse to let the waves of regret pass by. We might punish ourselves by wading in those troubled waters for a while.

When these times come, we must remember that Jesus Christ has paid the debt for all our sin. This means that He has already paid the price of our wrongdoing, and we have been found “not guilty.” As our sin lies dead at the cross, so does our guilt. While we must always take responsibility for our actions, we have the freedom in Christ to do so without the burden of unhealthy regret.

 

 

Our Daily Bread — Our Fearless Champion

Our Daily Bread

Matthew 8:23-34

Why are you fearful? —Matthew 8:26

Falling asleep was a challenging event during my childhood. No sooner had my parents turned out the lights than the crumpled clothes I had thrown on the chair would take on the form of a fiery dragon and the thoughts of something living under my bed put me into a panic that made sleep impossible.

I’ve come to realize that the immobilizing power of fear is not just a childhood experience. Fear keeps us from forgiving, taking a stand at the office, giving our resources to God’s kingdom, or saying no when all our friends are saying yes. Left to ourselves, we are up against a lot of fiery dragons in our lives.

In the story of the disciples in the storm-tossed boat, I’m struck by the fact that the only one who was not afraid was Jesus. He was not afraid of the storm, nor was He afraid of a crazy man in a graveyard or of the legion of demons that possessed him (Matt. 8:23-34).

In the face of fear, we need to hear Jesus ask, “Why are you fearful?” (v.26) and be reminded that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5-6). There is nothing that He can’t overcome and therefore nothing for Him to fear. So, next time you’re haunted by your fears, remember that you can rely on Jesus, our fearless Champion! —Joe Stowell

Lord, thank You for the reminder that You will

never leave us nor forsake us. When I am afraid, I

know that I can rely on Your presence and power

to calm my heart and overcome my fears.

In times of fear, call out to Jesus, our fearless Champion.

Bible in a year: Ezekiel 1-2; Hebrews 11:1-19

Alistair Begg – By His Sovereign Choice

Alistair Begg

But the Lord’s portion is his people.

Deuteronomy 32:9

How are they His? By His own sovereign choice. He chose them and set His love upon them. He did this completely apart from any goodness in them at the time or any goodness that He foresaw in them.

He had mercy on whom He would have mercy and ordained a chosen company to eternal life; in this way, therefore, they are His by His unconstrained election.

They are not only His by choice, but by purchase. He has bought and paid for them completely, and so there can be no dispute about His title.

Not with corruptible things like silver and gold, but with the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord’s portion has been fully redeemed.

There is no mortgage on His estate; no lawsuits can be raised by opposing claimants. The price was paid in open court, and the Church is the Lord’s estate forever. See the blood-mark upon all the chosen, invisible to the human eye but known to Christ, for “the Lord knows those who are his.”1

He forgets none of those whom He has redeemed from among men; He counts the sheep for whom He laid down His life and remembers carefully the Church for which He gave Himself.

They are also His by conquest. What a battle He had in us before we would be won! How long He laid siege to our hearts! How often He sent us terms of surrender, but we barred our gates and built our walls against Him.

Do we not remember that glorious hour when He carried our hearts by storm, when He placed His cross against the wall and scaled our ramparts, planting on our strongholds the blood-red flag of His omnipotent mercy? Yes, we are indeed the conquered captives of His omnipotent love. As those chosen, who have been purchased and subdued, we know that the rights of our divine possessor are inalienable: We rejoice that we can never be our own; and we desire, day by day, to do His will and to declare His glory.

1 2 Timothy 2:19

John MacArthur – Rebuking the World

John MacArthur

“By faith Noah…condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (Heb 11:7).

Genesis 6:5 says, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Before moving in judgment against the most evil and corrupt society in history, God appointed Noah to build an ark, which became a symbol of life and salvation to all who believed God. For those who disbelieved, it represented impending death and judgment.

Concurrent with constructing the ark, Noah preached about coming judgment. Peter called him “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Pet. 2:5), and every board he cut and nail he drove in was a living illustration of the urgency of his message.

God’s warning was stern and His message horrifying, but His patience and mercy prevailed for 120 years. As Peter said, “The patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark” (1 Pet. 3:20). The people had ample warning of judgment, but they chose to disregard Noah’s message.

As sad as the account of Noah’s day is, perhaps the greatest tragedy is that man’s attitude toward God hasn’t changed since then. Jesus said, “The coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matt. 24:37-39).

Like Noah, you are to proclaim righteousness to an evil and perverse generation by your works and your life. Be faithful to do so even if people don’t want to listen. After 120 years of diligent work and faithful preaching by Noah, only eight people entered the ark. But God’s purposes were accomplished and the human race was preserved.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Sometimes you’ll encounter people who scoff at God’s judgment and mock your testimony. Don’t be discouraged. Pray for them and be available to minister to them whenever possible.

For Further Study:

Read 2 Peter 3. What effect should the prospect of future judgment have on your present behavior?