Tag Archives: love

Our Daily Bread – Our Daily Bread — Calling You

 

1 Samuel 3:1-10

The LORD called yet again, “Samuel!” —1 Samuel 3:6

A couple of co-workers and I had just gone through airport security and were walking to our gate when I heard my name: “Paging Anne Cetas. Paging Anne Cetas.” It’s not a common name, so we knew it had to be mine. I assumed I had absent-mindedly left something at the check-in point. I checked with an airline agent, who told me to pick up a red phone, give my name, and ask why I was being paged. I searched for a phone and called, but the operator said, “No, we didn’t page you.” I said, “It was definitely my name.” He replied twice, “No, we did not page you.” I never did find out why I had been called that day.

A young boy named Samuel heard his name being “paged” long ago (1 Sam. 3:4). The Scriptures say that he “did not yet know the LORD, nor was the word of the LORD yet revealed to him” (v.7), so the temple priest Eli had to help him understand who was calling him (vv.8-9). God then revealed His plan for Samuel’s life.

The Lord has a plan for us as well, and He calls to our hearts: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). That’s His call to us to receive the gift of His salvation, rest, and peace.

The Savior is calling us to come to Him. —Anne Cetas

Jesus calls me—I must follow,

Follow Him today;

When His tender voice is pleading,

How can I delay? —Brown

Christ calls the restless ones to find their rest in Him.

Alistair Begg – Our Fault

 

God, our God, shall bless us. Psalm 67:6

It is strange how little use we make of the spiritual blessings that God gives us, but it is even stranger that we make such little use of God Himself. Though He is “our God,” we scarcely give ourselves to Him, and we ask so little of Him.

How seldom do we seek counsel at the hands of the Lord! How often do we go about our business without seeking His guidance! In our troubles how we constantly struggle to bear our burdens ourselves instead of casting them upon the Lord, that He may sustain us! This is not because we may not, for the Lord seems to say, “I am yours, soul; come and make use of Me as you will. You may freely come to My store, and the more you come, the more welcome you will be.”

It is our own fault if we do not enjoy the riches of our God. Since you have such a friend, and He invites you, draw from Him daily. Never be wanting while you have a God to go to; never fear or faint while you have God to help you; go to your treasure and take whatever you need–there is all that you can ever want. Learn the divine skill of making God all things to you. He can supply you with everything; or better still, He can be everything to you.

Let me urge you, then, to make use of your God. Make use of Him in prayer. Go to Him often, because He is your God. Will you fail to use such a great privilege? Run to Him; tell Him all your needs. Use Him constantly by faith at all times. If some dark providence has cast a shadow on you, use God as a sun; if some strong enemy has attacked you, find in Jehovah a shield, for He is a sun and shield to His people. If you have lost your way in the mazes of life, use Him as a guide, for He will direct you. Whatever you are, and wherever you are, remember, God is just what you want and just where you want, and that He can do everything you want.

Charles Spurgeon – Gospel missions

 

“And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.” Acts 13:49

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 28:16-20

The claim of authority ensures a degree of progress. How did Mohammed come to have so strong a religion in his time? He was all alone, and he went into the market-place and said, “I have received a revelation from heaven.” He persuaded men to believe it. He said, “I have a revelation from heaven.” People looked at his face; they saw that he looked upon them earnestly as believing what he said, and some five or six of them joined him. Did he prove what he said? Not he. “You must,” he said, “believe what I say, or there is no Paradise for you.” There is a power in that kind of thing, and wherever he went his statement was believed, not on the ground of reasoning, but on his authority, which he declared to be from Allah; and a century later, a thousand sabres had flashed from a thousand sheaths, and his word had been proclaimed through Africa, Turkey, Asia, and even in Spain. The man claimed authority—he claimed divinity; therefore he had power. Take again the increase of Mormonism. What has been its strength? Simply this—the assertion of power from heaven. That claim is made, and the people believe it, and now they have missionaries in almost every country of the habitable globe, and the book of Mormon is translated into many languages. Though there never could be a delusion more transparent, or a counterfeit less skilful, and more lying upon the very surface, yet this simple pretension to power has been the means of carrying power with it. Now, my brethren, we have power; we are God’s ministers; we preach God’s truth; the great Judge of heaven and earth has told us the truth.

For meditation: Christ preached with authority which made men sit up and take notice (Luke 4:31-37). His power has not weakened, but are we limiting him in any way (1 Corinthians 1:17; 2:4,5)?

Sermon no. 76

27 April (1856)

John MacArthur – Are You Avoiding Persecution?

 

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness” (Matt. 5:10).

I heard of a man who was fearful because he was starting a new job with a group of unbelievers whom he thought might give him a bad time if they found out he was a Christian. After his first day at work his wife asked him how he got along with them. “We got along just fine,” he said. “They never found out I’m a Christian.”

Silence is one way to avoid persecution. Some other ways are to approve of the world’s standards, laugh at its jokes, enjoy its entertainment, and smile when it mocks God. If you never confront sin or tell people Jesus is the only way to heaven, or if your behavior is so worldly no one can distinguish you from unbelievers, you will probably be accepted and won’t feel the heat of persecution. But beware!

Jesus said, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you. . . . Whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory” (Luke 6:26; 9:26). The last thing anyone should want is for Christ to pronounce a curse on them or be ashamed of them. That’s an enormous price to pay for popularity!

If you take a stand for Christ and manifest Beatitude attitudes, you will be in direct opposition to Satan and the evil world system. Eventually you will experience some form of persecution. That has been true from the very beginning of human history, when Abel was murdered by his brother Cain because Cain couldn’t tolerate his righteousness.

You should never fear persecution. God will grant you grace and will never test you beyond what He enables you to endure (1 Cor. 10:13). Nor should you ever compromise biblical truth to avoid persecution. In Philippians 1:29 Paul says that persecution is as much a gift of God as salvation itself. Both identify you as a true believer!

Suggestions for Prayer:

Memorize 1 Peter 2:20-21. Ask God to continually grant you the grace to follow Christ’s example when difficulties come your way.

For Further Study:

Read 2 Corinthians 11:23-33, noting the severe persecution Paul endured for Christ’s sake.

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Cleansed From Sin

 

“But if we are living in the light of God’s presence, just as Christ does, then we have wonderful fellowship and joy with each other, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from every sin” (1 John 1:7).

A pastor I know had once delighted in studying and preaching the Word of God. In his earlier days, he had been a real soul-winner, but the time came when he no longer spent time reading and studying the Scriptures. He became critical, discouraged and pessimistic. Finally, his personal life and his family fell apart.

At one point, he told me, he was thinking about committing suicide. He could have been spared all of this heartache, tragedy and sorrow if only he had continued to study the Word of God, to meditate on its truths and to obey its commands.

As someone wisely said, “Sin will keep you from God’s Word, or God’s Word will keep you from sin.”

Many of the problems we experience in the Christian life are self-imposed. They are the result of carelessness in the way we walk. The promises of God are true; you can stake your life on them. The way to supernatural living is to walk with God in the light of His presence.

“God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. So if we say we are His friends, but go on living in spiritual darkness and sin, we are lying. But if we are living in the light of God’s presence…then we have wonderful fellowship and joy…” (1 John 1:5-7, LB).

Bible Reading: I John 2:1-6

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Claiming the power of the Holy Spirit, I will continue to live in the light of God’s presence and explain to those who walk in darkness how they too can walk in the light of God’s presence and in joyful fellowship with our risen Savior.

Presidential Prayer Team; J.K. – True Experience

 

Isaiah’s prophecies for Israel included ones of great judgment by God because of their disobedience and constant rejection of God’s plan for them. Plush lands would become wilderness with no human occupation. Great sorrow would be upon them.

They shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. Isaiah 35:10

What exactly is your attitude in times of difficulty and trial? For you, as for Israel, circumstances are fleeting. Israel would be driven from its land and taken captive, but God would enable their return and deliver them as they trusted in Him.

The Lord is your deliverer, too…from sorrow due to circumstance, as well as from spiritual pain due to the conviction of sin. Sorrow can be beneficial if it produces a change of heart and a fresh sensitivity to God. Joy can be yours. Being committed to Him and enjoying His sweet fellowship will give you hope and strengthen your faith.

Experience the true joy of a saving relationship with God. Ask for deliverance from the sadness of sin. Then intercede for this nation, that it may have a change of heart and an openness for the Lord. After all, joy is not the absence of sorrow – but it is the presence of God!

Recommended Reading: Psalm 16:1-11

Greg Laurie – Don’t Wait for the Rooster

 

Peter’s denial of Jesus did not happen over a period of seconds or minutes, but over a period of hours. An hour passed from the time the first person said, “You were one of those with Jesus the Galilean,” to the time Peter denied his Lord for the second time. He had ample opportunity to hightail it out of there, but for some reason he hung around.

His story reminds me that no person is safe from temptation except the one who flees from it. Peter, having been warned by Jesus Himself, should have avoided any place where he could fall. He definitely should have steered clear of all roosters! The Lord had said that before the rooster crowed, he would deny Jesus three times (see Matthew 26:69-75). I would have asked, “Are there any roosters here? Because if there are, I’m leaving!”

But seriously, if someone like Simon Peter could fall, then surely we can, too. First Corinthians 15:33 tells us, “Bad company corrupts good character.” Peter hung around people who were dragging him down spiritually. Are you in a similar situation? Have you entered into relationships where people are dragging you down? Maybe it’s a romance. Maybe it’s a close friendship. Are you finding yourself compromising your principles to fit in, or so that you don’t offend anyone? Perhaps you need to reconsider your friendships. Perhaps you need to make some immediate changes. And even if you have made some mistakes, there is still time to commit yourself to the Lord. That time is now. Don’t wait for the rooster to crow.

Charles Stanley – Sanctification

 

Romans 6:17-22

The Lord has a grand plan for the life of every person, and it can be summed up in a single word: sanctification. If you are scratching your head about what that terms means, you are not alone. Many people—even some longtime Christians—do not know its definition. However, believers should see to it that they acquire that knowledge because it’s an important word, and it defines them.

In its verb form—sanctify—the term means “to make holy” or “to separate.” So when something is sanctified, it is separated from a common use to a sacred one. In the Old Testament, we are told that the Lord sanctified a number of things: He made the seventh day holy, set aside the Levite tribe as priests, and even consecrated places like the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle (Gen. 2:3; Num. 3).

The Lord still sanctifies people today. Before a person receives salvation, he is spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1-3). What’s more, Romans 5:10 tells us that before we come to faith, we’re actually enemies of God. Yet the moment someone trusts in Jesus as his personal Savior, his sins are wiped away, and he is adopted into the Lord’s family. That individual is then set apart as a child of God for a sacred purpose. This means believers are not here simply to chase after personal gain. Rather, they are to serve God and bring Him honor and glory.

As members of God’s family who are called to reflect His glory, believers are referred to as “saints.” This word shares a root with sanctification. We are referred to this way, not because we live sinless lives but because we live a life consistent with the One we represent.

Our Daily Bread — The Best Season Yet

 

Ephesians 5:15-21

See then that you walk circumspectly, . . . redeeming the time, because the days are evil. —Ephesians 5:15-16

Life is a lot like the weather . . . it’s seasonal. It has a way of pushing us into the next season whether we like it or not. And when pushed into the next season, we are often uncertain and even fearful of what it might hold for us.

This is especially true of later seasons of life, when we are haunted by thoughts such as: Will I be left all alone? Will my health hold up? Will my money last? Will my mind stay fresh? As with every season of life, we have to make a choice—to waste the season in fearful thoughts or, as Paul says, make “the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16 ESV).

Regardless of your season, you can count on God’s faithfulness. He says, “‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear’” (Heb. 13:5-6).

Because you have God’s presence and provision, you can make the most of your time in every season by following Jesus closely, spending time in His Word and prayer, loving and forgiving more freely than ever before, and serving others with joy and generosity.

God has blessed us with our present season—make the most of it! —Joe Stowell

Lord, give me the grace to accept life right where

it has put me, and help me to overcome the fear

that would waste my days. Give me the wisdom

and desire to make every day count for You.

Life matters—make the most of it!

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Unhindered

 

My high school band director was adamant about many things, but none so much as what he called the obligatory rule of good musicianship. That is, the two most important notes in any musical composition are the first and the last. “The audience might forgive you for what comes in the middle,” he would say, “but they will forget neither your very first impression nor your final remark.”

The last word of the book of Acts in the Greek New Testament is the word akolutos. The word literally means “unhindered,” though many translations render it with multiple words. Others move the word from its final position for the sake of syntax. In both cases, I think something is lost in translation. Luke was intentionally making a statement with this last word of his two volume testimony to the life of Jesus Christ. I think he intended readers to pause at the conclusion of his words, leaving us with the provocative thought of a gospel that is unhindered. After the stories of Jesus’s ministry were told, after recollections of his death and ruminations of his resurrection, after Jesus’s ascension and the church’s beginnings, after all the resistance, disappointment, and surprises along the way, Luke concludes, “Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, unhindered” (Acts 28:30-31).

Through prisons and angry crowds, the book of Acts traces the birth and growth of the early church. The book begins with a few hundred believers in Christ and a collective will to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria, and to all the ends of the earth. Opposition to this witness is described at every turn. Persecution, beatings, death, and imprisonment all threatened the voice of the early church and ultimately the spread of the gospel itself. But in spite of all this, Luke epitomizes the history of the early church and the spread of the gospel by boldly describing the progression of God’s kingdom as going forth without so much as the slightest of hindrances. The Good News of God to all the world, he seems to want the world to remember, goes forth in power.

For any man or woman who will hear his testimony, Luke wants to conclude his eyewitness account with the dimension of the gospel that is most striking—namely, that these evidences are far from the end of the story. Luke wants hearers to be well aware that eyewitnesses to the power of the kingdom will go well beyond his own eyes, his stories, his lifetime; your eyes, your stories, your lifetime. Though variant theologies and distorted gospels will abound, though the world will delight in yet another conspiracy theory that promises to be the downfall of Christianity, the great narration of God’s kingdom will go forth unhindered. For the Christian, this means we need not live defeated by every emerging plot to undermine Christ. And for the one who has yet to accept him, it is continually and powerfully an invitation. Won’t you consider living into a victory like his, walking further up and farther into the great unhindered kingdom of God?

Luke begins on a note intent on crescendo: “Many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us” (Luke 1:1). He sets out to sing the beginnings of the early church and the work of God from the very start to the ends of time. He wants to be clear that we are invited to be a part of a story that will not fade away. Despite all appearances, despite dim turns in melody, the gospel was and will continue to be Good News that resounds without hindrance. No person or power can thwart the resonant sounds of the kingdom Jesus proclaimed, for it is moved by a Spirit who presses it ever-onward, ringing invitingly into the unexpected places of the world. The redemptive song of Christ and the Spirit who enables creation to add its praise will continue to move forth, unhindered.

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

Alistair Begg – Remember Me

 

Do this in remembrance of me.  1 Corinthians 11:24

It appears that Christians may forget Christ! There would be no need for this loving exhortation if there were not a fearful possibility that our memories might prove treacherous. Nor is this an empty notion: It is, sadly too well confirmed in our experience, not as a possibility, but as a lamentable fact. It appears almost impossible that those who have been redeemed by the blood of the dying Lamb and loved with an everlasting love by the eternal Son of God could forget that gracious Savior; but if startling to the ear, sadly it is too apparent to the eye to allow us to deny the crime. Forget Him who never forgot us! Forget Him who poured His blood out for our sins! Forget Him who loved us even to death! Can it be possible? Yes, it is not only possible, but conscience confesses that it is too sadly a fault with all of us that we treat Him as a stranger, like an overnight guest. Instead of Him being a permanent resident in our memories, we treat Him as a visitor. The cross where one would expect that memory would linger and disinterest would be an unknown intruder is desecrated by the feet of forgetfulness.

Doesn’t your conscience say that this is true? Don’t you find yourselves forgetful of Jesus? Some other love steals away your heart, and you are unmindful of Him upon whom your affection ought to be set. Some earthly business engrosses your attention when you ought to be fixed steadily upon the cross. It is the incessant turmoil of the world, the constant attraction of earthly things, that takes the soul away from Christ. While memory works to preserve a poisonous weed, it allows the rose of Sharon to wither. Let us charge ourselves to tie a heavenly forget-me-not around our hearts for Jesus our Beloved, and whatever else we let slip, let us hold tight to Him.

Charles Spurgeon – David’s dying prayer

 

“Let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen.” Psalm 72:19

Suggested Further Reading: Isaiah 6:1-8

Is there not one among you that can win a laurel wreath? Have I not one true Christian heart here that is set for work and labour? Have I not one man that will devote himself for God and for his truth? Henry Martyn! Thou art dead; and is thy mantle buried with thee? Brainerd, thou sleepest with thy fathers; and is thy spirit dead too, and shall there never be another Brainerd? Knibb, thou hast ascended to thy God; and is there nowhere another Knibb? Williams, thy martyred blood still crieth from the ground; and is there nowhere another Williams? What! Not among this dense mass of young and burning spirits? Is there not one that can say in his heart, “Here am I, send me”? “This hour, being saved by God’s grace, I give myself up to him, to go wherever he shall be pleased to send me, to testify his gospel in foreign lands”? What! Are there no Pauls now? Have we none who will be apostles for the Lord of hosts? I think I see one who, putting his lips together, makes this silent resolve—“By God’s grace I this day devote myself to him; through trouble and through trial I will be his, if he will help me; for missionary work or for anything else I give up my all to God; and if I may die as Williams did, and wear the blood-red crown of martyrdom, I will be proud; and if I may live to serve my Master, like a Brainerd, and die at last worn out, here I am, do but have me, Master; give me the honour of leading the forlorn hope, of leading the vanguard of Christianity; here I am, send me.”

For meditation: The earth is going to be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God (Habakkuk 2:14). Every believer has a contribution to make towards that goal, big or small. Are you playing your part?

Sermon no. 129

26 April (1857)

John MacArthur – Paying the Price of Righteousness

 

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness” (Matt. 5:10).

Unlike many today who try to make the gospel palatable for reluctant sinners, Jesus made it clear that following Him had its price. Rather than acceptance, fame, prestige, and prosperity, you can expect rejection and persecution. That’s not a popular approach to evangelism, but it’s honest. Also it insures that no one will try to enter the kingdom on the wrong basis.

Jesus wanted His hearers to count the cost of discipleship. He knew that many of them would be disowned by their families and excommunicated from the Jewish synagogues. Many would suffer persecution or martyrdom at the hands of the Roman government. They needed to count the cost!

Persecution did come to those early Christians. The Emperor Nero smeared many of them with pitch, crucified them, and then burned them to light his garden parties. He condemned Christians for refusing to worship him as a god, and blamed them for the burning of Rome in [sc]A.D. 64. Christians were accused of cannibalism because Jesus said, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him” (John 6:56). They were said to be revolutionaries because they believed that God would one day destroy the earth.

The world’s animosity toward Christians hasn’t changed. You might not face the severe persecutions the first- century believers faced, but you will be persecuted (Phil. 1:29). Even new Christians often face difficulties. If they refuses to join their former friends in sinful activities, they might be rejected. If they work for a dishonest boss who expects them to participate in or condone his evil practices, they might be fired or have to quit their jobs. That might bring extreme financial hardship to their families.

God won’t always shield you from persecution, but He will honor your integrity and give you strength to endure any trial that comes your way. Praise Him for His all- sufficient grace!

Suggestions for Prayer:

Pray for those you know who are suffering hardship for Christ’s sake.

Ask God for the wisdom and strength to face persecution with integrity and unwavering faith.

For Further Study:

Read James 1:2-4 and 1 Peter 5:10.

What purpose does suffering serve?

How should you respond to suffering?

Joyce Meyer – Just Obey

 

But the natural, nonspiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them (of progressively recognizing, understanding, and becoming better acquainted with them) because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated.—1 Corinthians 2:14

Many non-Christians don’t really understand the gospel. This isn’t a new thing that is unique to our day. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he pointed out that the Greeks thought it was foolish. And to the natural mind, it is. God sent Jesus, the sinless One, to earth for the express purpose of dying for wicked, sinful people. To unbelievers that is foolish. The natural man cannot understand the power of the gospel—it can only be “spiritually discerned.”

This is just as true in daily living. Sometimes God speaks to us, and if we try to explain it to people who don’t know Jesus, it doesn’t make sense. For example, I remember one couple that went to Africa as missionaries. They had no ­denomination or large church behind them, providing support. They sold everything they owned, including their wedding rings.

“Their wedding rings?” a skeptical relative asked. “You mean God wouldn’t provide for you, so you had to do it yourself?”

The wife smiled. “No, I think we had to decide if comfort and having things like everyone else was more important than serving Jesus.” The couple never doubted they were doing the right thing, but it never made sense to the skeptical relative.

It is difficult for many people to hear God speak and to obey without question. But Jesus did just that—and not only on the cross. John 4 relates the story of Jesus and the Samar­itan woman at the well. What most modern readers don’t get is the introduction to the story: “It was necessary for Him to go through Samaria” (John 4:4). Jesus had been in Jerusalem, and He wanted to go north to Galilee. The country of the Samaritans was in between, but Jesus didn’t have to take the route that passed that way. He could have taken another route and avoided going through Samaria. Most Jews avoided going through Samaria because they hated the Samaritans for mixing and marrying with people from other nations.

But Jesus went to Samaria, even though it wasn’t what we would have called the normal or reasonable thing to do. He went because there was a woman—and eventually a whole village—that needed to hear the message that only He could deliver.

The natural people—those whose minds have not been enlightened by the Holy Spirit—scoff at us. What we do doesn’t always make sense to them. But then, who says our actions have to make sense? The biblical principle is that the natural or carnal mind doesn’t understand spiritual things. Too often, a thought comes to us that we push aside, saying, This doesn’t make any sense, and we actually ignore divine guidance. It’s true, of course, that the devil can flood our minds with wild thoughts, but if we pray and open ourselves to the Spirit, we soon know the difference.

Consider the story of Peter who had fished all night and caught nothing. Jesus, a carpenter, came along and told him, a professional fisherman, “Put out into the deep [water], and lower your nets for a haul” (Luke 5:4).

Peter reasoned with Jesus, reminding Him that they had worked all night and caught nothing. But to his credit, Peter, exhausted from a long and unsuccessful night’s work, heard the Lord. I’ll say it again, Peter heard the Lord and said, “But on the ground of Your word, I will lower the nets [again]” (v. 5). And Peter was not disappointed. They caught so many fish that the nets almost broke.

This is an important principle of obedience that we must grasp: obey instead of reasoning. Or as one of my friends calls it, “The Nevertheless Principle.” She says that sometimes she feels God leading her to do things that don’t always make a lot of sense. When she hears herself expressing that sentiment, she quickly adds, “Nevertheless.” Then she obeys.

That is really all God asks of us: to obey instead of ­reasoning.

Wise and wonderful God, sometimes things don’t make sense to me, but nevertheless, I want to be in Your will. Help me to develop spiritual discernment, and don’t let me miss a divine opportunity to serve You. Teach me to trust You more, and help me to obey You quickly instead of trying to reason things out. Thank You for hearing me today. Amen.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – No Darkness in Him

 

“This is the message God has given us to pass on to you: That God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. So if we say we are His friends, but go on living in spiritual darkness and sin, we are lying. But if we are living in the light of God’s presence, just as Christ does, then we have wonderful fellowship and joy with each other, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from every sin” (1 John 1:5-7).

One of the first passages of Scripture that I memorized as a new Christian was the first chapter of 1 John. This passage has been a beacon to me through the years as a simple reminder that in God is light and the only reason that I do not live perpetually in that light is because at times I deliberately sin.

Steve had lost his joy and enthusiasm for Christ, and as a new Christian was perplexed. He could not understand what had happened to him. As we counseled together, it became apparent that he had allowed some of his old natural habit patterns to creep back into his life.

I suggested that he make a list of all the things that were wrong in his life and confess them to the Lord in accordance with 1 John 1:9. A few days later, with joyful enthusiasm he came to share with me how his heart had been kindled afresh with the love of God as he was now walking in the light as God is in the light, having wonderful fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

How does one walk in the light? Do not tolerate unconfessed sin. Meditate upon the Word of God. Spend time in prayer talking to God and letting Him talk to you. Share your faith in Christ with others. Obey the commandments of God.

Are you walking in the light as God is in the light? Are you experiencing the joy of the Lord? Are you constrained by the love of Christ to share Him with others?

Bible Reading: I John 1:6-10

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I shall always seek to walk in the light as God is in the light in order that I may experience wonderful fellowship with my Lord. When I find myself walking in darkness, I shall pause to confess my sins and by faith claim God’s forgiveness and cleansing so that I may be restored to once again walk in the light with God.

Presidential Prayer Team; P.G. – Gratitude Journaling

 

Professor Robert Emmons of the University of California-Davis may be the world’s leading expert on the science of gratitude. He calls the practice of writing “grace thoughts” good for both mind and body. When you are aware of even the simplest of things to be thankful for, you see better what is going on around you, often bringing new reference to difficult life situations. Sixteen years ago, television host Oprah Winfrey began such a journal. Through it, she says, she developed a deeper relationship with God – and found hope instead of reasons to worry.

For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Psalm 117:2

Perhaps you have regarded some of King David’s psalms as lines from his own gratitude journal. He frequently tells you of the Lord’s unfailing promises and of His unconditional love. He reminds himself and you of the provisions Jehovah has made for him over and over again. The faithfulness of a God like that provided David with hope – hope that he acknowledged back to the Lord in prayer and song.

Today, find five things, just five, to be grateful for. Then praise the Lord for His goodness and the hope He has given…not only to you, but also to the nation.

Recommended Reading: Psalm 103:1-13

Greg Laurie – Behind the Scenes

 

And the Syrians had gone out on raids, and had brought back captive a young girl from the land of Israel. She waited on Naaman’s wife. Then she said to her mistress, “If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy.” —2 Kings 5:2–3

Nehemiah was the cupbearer to King Artaxerxes of Babylon, which meant that he was in close proximity to the king at all times. A cupbearer would drink what the king was about to drink. If it was poisonous, then that was the end of his job—and his life for that matter. But the cupbearer was more than someone who simply tasted what the king drank. He often would become an advisor to the king, someone who influenced him. It was a very prestigious position in the palace. A cupbearer would have lived in affluence and influence.

But Nehemiah, like Esther, was a Jew. He knew that the walls of Jerusalem had been burned down and were lying in rubble, and he couldn’t take it anymore. So he used his position and leveraged it, asking the king to allow him to go and rebuild the walls. He could have lost his life by asking such a thing. But he did what he could by working behind the scenes.

Then there was the obscure Jewish girl who influenced her unbelieving master, Naaman, to seek out Elisha, the prophet of Israel, to find a healing for his leprosy. She was just a girl, effectively a maid, who served Naaman’s wife. Naaman was like a General MacArthur and General Eisenhower all rolled into one. He was a famous military figure. But he had leprosy. So she told Naaman’s wife about Elisha: “If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy” (2 Kings 5:3). Naaman made the journey to Israel, and indeed he was healed.

This reminds us that God always has his representatives. He always has his people working behind the scenes. Will you make yourself available to Him today?

Max Lucado – God Calls the Shots

 

Every time Satan sets out to score for evil, he ends up scoring a point for good.  Consider Paul.  Satan hoped prison would silence his pulpit, and it did, but it also unleashed his pen.  The letters to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians were all written in a jail cell.

Satan is the Colonel Klink of the Bible.  Remember Klink? He was the fall guy for Hogan on the television series, Hogan’s Heroes. Klink supposedly ran a German POW camp during World War 2. Those inside the camp, however, knew better. They knew who really ran the camp:  the prisoners. They listened to Klink’s calls and read his mail. They even gave Klink ideas, all the while using him for their own cause.

Over and over the Bible makes it clear who really runs the earth. Satan may strut and prance, but it is God who calls the shots.

Our Daily Bread — Tough To Love

 

Acts 13:13-23

Now for a time of about forty years [God] put up with their ways in the wilderness. —Acts 13:18

Years ago I was a camp counselor for some rebellious boys. I found it challenging to deal with their behavior. They would mistreat the animals at the petting zoo and occasionally fight among themselves. So I adopted a calm and firm approach to leading them. And although they often exasperated me, I always made sure their physical needs were taken care of.

Even though I had a kind and loving exterior, I often felt on the inside that I was just “putting up with them.” That caused me to prayerfully reflect on how a loving heavenly Father provides for His rebellious children. In telling the story of the Israelites during the exodus, Paul said, “For a time of about forty years [God] put up with their ways in the wilderness” (Acts 13:18). In Greek “put up with” most likely means to patiently provide for people’s needs despite an ungrateful response.

Some people may not react favorably to our efforts to show care and concern. When this happens, it may help to remember that God is patient with us. And He has given us His Spirit to help us respond with love to those who are hard to love or who are ungrateful (Gal. 5:22-23).

Give us Your patience, Lord, for anyone in our lives who is difficult to love. —Dennis Fisher

I want the love that sweetly bears

Whate’er my Father’s hand may choose to send;

I want the love that patiently endures

The wrongs that come from enemy or friend. —Anon.

Be as patient with others as God has been with you.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Is Our Future Determined or Free?

 

Questions of freedom and destiny have been raised in every generation. Do we exercise choice, or has everything already been decided? Is our future determined or free? The resultant mental gymnastics leave many feeling confused and others feeling disappointed. Christians insist that nothing takes God by surprise. On the other hand, Christians throughout the ages reject the kind of fatalism that is seen in some parts of the world.

The problem with the question as it is presented is that it is not nearly difficult enough. In order to truly appreciate the magnitude of what we are discussing, we must first deal with an even greater question. And it is this: Imagine if I were able to stop time right now. What would you be thinking? What would you be feeling? The answer is nothing.

In the absence of time, we cannot think or feel or do. Everything is frozen. People sometimes complain that I speak too quickly—the problem being that there is not sufficient time for them to think about what has been said. I always try to cheer myself by saying that at least something has been said for them to think about! But it is a fair criticism because in the absence of sufficient time we cannot think things through. In the absence of time altogether, however, we cannot even begin to think, as there is literally no time to think in.

The Christian understanding is that we live and have our existence in a space-time continuum. “[We] belong to eternity stranded in time,” observes Michael Card.(1) This also means that before God created there was no time; in other words, time is not co-eternal with God. But Christians also attest that God was a thinking, feeling, doing Being even before God created. Can you imagine a Being who is able to think in the absence of time? Of course not, but the God Christians profess not only exists outside of time, God can think and act in the absence of time.

Just reading this may be enough to make us feel overwhelmed. And so it should. Whenever we think about the person of God, we should rightly feel that we have come across something truly awesome. And maybe this is part of the problem. We are not faced with a logical contradiction here. Rather, we are faced with the reality of what it means for God to exist, for God to be God. You and I are only able to think in time, and thus, God confronts us with choices: “Choose this day whom you will serve,” “choose life” and so on (Joshua 24:15; Deuteronomy 30:19). But God, as Christians believe, who is outside of time, sees all of history stretched out before Him. The problem comes, therefore, when the attempt is made to confine God within time. But this needn’t be the case. For Christians, a proper understanding of the tension drives us back both to God’s divine nature and to our knees, acknowledging how wonderful God is.

This understanding also helps Christians with the issue of eternal life. Many people when confronted with the idea of eternity find the idea frightening, tedious, or absurd. What could one possibly do with all of that time? Once again, the dilemma arises because we are captive both to the passage of time and too small a view of who God actually is. People also then ask: if God truly knows all things, then why did God create knowing that we would experience pain in a fallen world? But here Christians attest that God did not create the world and then think of a plan to rescue it. The book of Revelation depicts that the Lamb was slain before the foundations of the world were laid. This does not mean that the crucifixion took place in our space-time history before creation (there was no space-history for it to take place in). What it does mean is that even before God created, God also knew the cost—the suffering of his own Son—to redeem creation and unite us with the Father. God didn’t count that cost too great—and hence Christians sing of God’s amazing grace.

Let me conclude with the following. The Christian God is big enough to be able to say, “I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). There is no hope without a secure future, and the future is frightening in the absence of hope. Only God is big enough to bring these two things together—hope and a future—and this is what God has done for us.

Michael Ramsden is European director of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in the United Kingdom.

(1) Lyrics from “Joy in the Journey” by Michael Card, 1986.