Tag Archives: love

Our Daily Bread — The End?

Our Daily Bread

1 Corinthians 15:50-58

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. —1 Corinthians 15:57

Everything in this world eventually comes to an end, which at times can be disheartening. It’s the feeling you get when you read a book that’s so good you don’t want it to end. Or when you watch a movie that you wish would go on a little while longer.

But all things—good and bad—do come to “The End.” In fact, life ultimately does come to the end—sometimes sooner than we expect. All of us who have stood by the casket of a loved one know the painful emptiness of a heart that wishes it wasn’t over yet.

Thankfully, Jesus steps into the fray of terminal disappointments, and, through His death and resurrection, He interjects hope for us. In Him “the end” is a prelude to a death-free eternity, and words like “it’s over” are replaced by a joy-filled “forever.” Since our bodies are not an eternal reality, Paul assures us that “we shall all be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51) and reminds us that because of Christ’s conquering work we can confidently say, “O Death, . . . where is your victory?” (v.55).

So let not your heart be troubled. Our sorrow is real, but we can be filled with gratitude because God “gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (v.57). —Joe Stowell

Lord, keep our eyes and hearts fixed not on the

temporary joys or disappointments but on the victorious

realities of eternity. Thank You for Your death and

resurrection that guarantee our forever future.

In Christ, the end is only the beginning.

Bible in a year: Isaiah 53-55; 2 Thessalonians 1

 

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – House of Pain

Ravi Z

 

We shuffled back and forth between the states that sat like metaphors between our divorced parents—a summer, a spring break, a Christmas without one of them. The pain of the one we were leaving was always palpable, but we always had to leave.

It’s strange the things we interpret as children with the limited perceptions we have. I was very little when I silently vowed I would not allow anyone to keep me on the wrong side of people in pain. As a result, I spent a lifetime collecting strays, searching for the oppressed, feeling the pain of others, and desperately attempting to bind broken hearts, usually without much success. Every church I have ever been involved with has been one somehow marked by suffering. I have at times been somewhat frantic about expanding my circle of care. The world of souls is a sad and broken place. I was certain of this because I was one of them, and I vowed that they would not be alone—or perhaps, at times, more accurately, that I would not be alone.

On occasion, there have been other unhealthy patterns to my ever-expanding circles of care. With each oppressed group, I came among them with the best of intentions. I gave everything I could and some things I could not—love, time, money, tears, depression—until I collapsed, no longer able to give anything at all. I always thought I was retreating out of necessity because taking in pain was understandably exhausting. I figured that the metaphorical house I tried to keep filled, at times, simply needed to be emptied from over-crowding. I was opening up my house until people were hanging from the rafters and lamps started getting broken, and I was falling apart. Little did I realize, the house was falling apart before any of them entered in the first place. I was inviting them into the wrong house.

Sometimes God in his mercy must tear down even walls built with good intention. “Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain… In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves” (Psalms 127:1-2). Such was the case with me. In my house, the broken and the oppressed found care with limits, hospitality with conditions. But we are like olive trees who “flourish in the house of God,” says the psalmist. For in this house, we can “trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever” (Psalm 52:8).

Describing the disparity between the mind of humanity and the mind of God, Abraham Heschel writes, “The [human] conscience builds its confines, is subject to fatigue, longs for comfort, lulling, soothing. Yet those who are hurt, and He Who inhabits eternity, neither slumber nor sleep.”(1) In other words, God never sleeps or slumbers because those who are hurting never sleep or slumber. Try as we may as caretakers we cannot be as God to the hurting. We can stay awake with them in their pain and suffering. We can care for them as neighbors. But the house in which the suffering find unfailing love is the Lord’s. Like the friends of the paralytic who carried him all the way to Christ, this is the house to which we must bring them. His is the house in which we must live.

Though I still seem to move toward broken communities and still struggle with the weight of some of the things I see, I realize I struggle equally with the apathy that makes me want to flee from it all and clear away the crowd. But I am convinced that the right side of pain can only be accessed through the house of God, a house built not by human hands, but held up by the beams of the Cross. Here our souls find a house with rooms prepared for them and a table set with room for our enemies. God has invited us into the kingdom; the doors of a great house are opened wide. And it is a house where hospitality is not a conditional sharing of personal pains, or a self-centered preoccupation with suffering, but an extension of Christ’s real invitation: Come to me, all who are weary and I will give you rest.

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

(1) Abraham Heschel, The Prophets (New York: Perennial, 2001), 11.

 

Charles Spurgeon – The true Christian’s blessedness

CharlesSpurgeon

“We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Suggested Further Reading: Philemon 4-20

All things work together for the Christian’s eternal and spiritual good. And yet I must say here, that sometimes all things work together for the Christian’s temporal good. You know the story of old Jacob. “Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away; all these things are against me,” said the old patriarch. But if he could have read God’s secrets, he might have found that Simeon was not lost, for he was retained as a hostage—that Joseph was not lost, but gone before to smooth the passage of his grey hairs into the grave, and that even Benjamin was to be taken away by Joseph in love to his brother. So that what seemed to be against him, even in temporal matters, was for him. You may have heard also the story of that eminent martyr who was wont always to say, “All things work together for good.” When he was seized by the officers of Queen Mary, to be taken to the stake to be burned, he was treated so roughly on the road that he broke his leg; and they jeeringly said, “All things work together for good, do they? How will your broken leg work for your good?” “I don’t know,” he said, “but for my good I know it will work, and you shall see it so.” Strange to say, it proved true that it was for his good; for being delayed a day or so on the road through his lameness, he just arrived in London in time enough to hear that Elizabeth was proclaimed queen, and so he escaped the stake by his broken leg. He turned round upon the men who carried him, as they thought, to his death, and said to them, “Now will you believe that all things work together for good?”

For meditation: We are called upon to rejoice in our sufferings, not for their own sake, but because of the outcome (Romans 5:3,4; James 1:2-4). If we, like God, knew the end from the beginning, we would laugh in the midst of our trials, as we shall later (Luke 6:21).

Sermon no. 159

18 October (1857)

Greg Laurie – Run for Him

greglaurie

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. —Hebrews 12:1

When I was in high school, I was a fast sprinter. Most people could not beat me in a short sprint, but I was not good at long distance runs. I would have a burst of energy that I could kind tap into and really take off. (Today I am not even a good sprinter. I’m really not good at any kind of running.) One thing I discovered back then as a member of the track and field team was that I always did better in practice when there was an audience. All of a sudden I would feel a little more energetic, especially when there was a pretty girl watching.

As Christians in the race of life, we, too, have an audience: the Lord Jesus. Hebrews 12 reminds us, “Since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith” (verses 1–2).

Let us run with endurance . . . keeping our eyes on Jesus. You see, the Christian life is not a sprint; it is a long distance run. So we have to think of the big picture.

Here is how to run the race well. Here is how to run it according to the rules. Here is how to run it with joy. Run it for Jesus. Don’t run it for people to impress them. Don’t run it out of mere duty. You have an audience of one: Christ Himself is watching you. Run for Him. It will help you do much better.

 

John MacArthur – A Psalm of Sufficiency

John MacArthur

“The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.

King David was a man of stark contrasts. He knew the humility of shepherding a flock and the prestige of reigning over a nation. He experienced glorious triumphs and bitter defeats. He sought after God, yet also suffered immense guilt and pain from immorality and murder. That led to even his own son’s seeking to take his life. Some of his psalms reflect great hope and others, despair. But through it all he continued to look to God, being assured of God’s sovereignty and the sufficiency of His divine resources.

In Psalm 19 David penned the most monumental statement ever made on the sufficiency of Scripture. As we study it in the days ahead, keep in mind that every need of your soul or inmost being is ultimately spiritual, and God has supplied sufficient resources to meet those needs completely. That was David’s confidence. May it be yours as well.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Throughout our study of Psalm 19, ask God to give you fresh insights that will enable you appreciate and rest more fully in His gracious provisions.

For Further Study:

Reread Psalm 19:1-14.

What terms did David use for God’s Word?

What benefits does the Word bring to believers?

Are you enjoying those benefits?

“They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them Thy servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

“Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults. Also keep back Thy servant from presumptuous sins; let them not rule over me; then I shall be blameless, and I shall be acquitted of great transgression.

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer” (Ps. 19:7-14).

 

Max Lucado – God Cares About Justice

Max Lucado

A mother says, I’m so sorry for abandoning you—could we possibly get together?

Her daughter thinks to herself, That’s it?  She wants to get together and I’m supposed to just forgive her?

Seems too easy.  Doesn’t mom need to experience what she gave? Spend a few years wondering if she’ll see her daughter again? Some pain-filled nights? A bit of justice? Isn’t some vengeance in order? Of course it is. God cares about justice more than we do.

In Romans 12:17, Paul tells us to never pay back evil for evil.  Leave that to God, for He has said that he will repay those who deserve it.

We fear the evildoer will slip into the night, unknown and unpunished. Not to worry.  God will repay—not He might repay. God will execute justice on behalf of truth and fairness. Fix your enemies?  That’s God’s job. Forgive your enemies?  Ahh, that’s where you and I come in. We forgive.

From You’ll Get Through This

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Message and Mystery

Ravi Z

An interesting display of language and culture befell my husband and me while standing in line at a cafe. The owner of the shop is a friendly man whose primary language is Hindi, though he took our order in English. The one preparing the desserts was a new employee, in the process of being trained, who spoke neither Hindi nor English, but only Spanish. Relaying our order along with the steps it would take to make it, the owner spoke in careful, fragmented Spanish, at one point stopping to ask his wife something in Hindi and clarifying something with us in English. “Te hables Espanol?” my husband immediately asked, impressed at the sight of such a blend of languages. “Not really,” the owner replied. “But the teacher is no good unless he speaks the language of the student.”

I have often wondered what went through the minds of the disciples as Jesus spoke of mustard seeds, wine skins, bread and flesh, and thieves in the night. In the three years they spent together as rabbi and pupils, I am sure the question often crossed their minds: What is this language he is speaking? More than once, the Gospels impart that the disciples conferred with each other like a group of befuddled students—What is he saying? Eventually, someone usually decided they had to ask the teacher himself. As Jesus finished telling a crowd of people a story about seeds and soil, the disciples took him aside and asked about his communication style. “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”(1)

I suspect his answer did not offer the clarity they were looking to receive. Jesus responded, “I speak to them in parables because ‘though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.’ In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.’ For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes… But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear” (Matthew 13:13-16).

Something in this at once reminds me of the circular discussions we have with children. There are certain lines parents use to signal the end of the current arsenal of questioning. Coming from a parent, “Because I said so,” is intended to be a conversation stopper. I would guess “Because God said so” is all the more hindering. In effect, Jesus seems to say matter-of-factly, “I speak to them in stories they don’t understand because they don’t understand.” I imagine it was equally silencing for his students to be the ones expressing the confusion and yet to be told they are the ones who understand. To an already bewildering retort, Jesus seems to add, “And I speak to you in stories you don’t understand because you do understand.”  Nonetheless, after calling the disciples blessed because their eyes and ears were getting it, Jesus proceeds to explain the entire parable to them in great detail.

Though easily discounted, particularly in a world where mind and thought are often the emphasis, understanding seems to hold elements well beyond mere recognition. There are some students for whom language is not the crux of their failure to learn. But if it is possible to see and not perceive, to hear and not understand, perhaps it is also possible to hold the weight of a word or thought or soul before you, knowing there is far more to get your arms around.

What Jesus meant by all his talk about seeds, I’m not sure the disciples saw clearly before it was explained to them.  But that the man before them and his strange manner of speaking had more to do with reality than they could yet grasp was knowledge that opened their eyes along the journey and made them blessed. He was full of mystery, and yet he was a mystery that had been revealed to them, one who walked and ate with them. I imagine their excitement was palpable when Jesus promised that a time was coming when he would speak to them “plainly.” But regardless of how he was speaking, the disciples knew their teacher was offering words that somehow reached beyond them, in a language that would out-stand their own wilting lives.

The words God has chosen to speak we may not fully understand at first hearing, but that God is one who holds value and purpose in revelation might compel us to listen or see or wait quietly again and again. Christ’s parables leave us asking not only, “What is he saying in this parable about the real world” but far more invasively they leave us inquiring, “What is the real world?” However this question is asked, with ears hardly hearing, with eyes opened or closed, in Hindi or English or Spanish, how wonderful that there is an answer.

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

(1) Matthew 13:10.

 

Joyce Meyer – Testimony Begins with “Test”

Joyce meyer

Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations.—James 1:2

I’m sure you know people with amazing stories of the way God has worked in their lives. I always love to hear a great testimony, but I also know that behind every extraordinary account of someone’s life lies some kind of challenge or difficulty. No one ever has a testimony without a test.

We must pass all kinds of tests as we go through our lives, and passing them is part of never giving up. It’s vital for us to understand the important role that tests and trials play in our lives, because understanding them helps us endure them and actually be strengthened by them. Everything God permits us to go through will ultimately be good for us—no matter how much it hurts, how unfair it is, or how difficult it is.

When we encounter tests and trials, if we will embrace them and refuse to run from them, we will learn some lessons that will help us in the future and make us stronger.

One reason we must go through trials is to test our quality (1 Pet. 4:12). Often, we find ourselves wishing we had the faith of Sister so-and- so or Brother so-and-so. I can assure you, if they have a strong and vibrant faith, they did not develop it easily. Just as muscles are strengthened through exercise, firm faith comes from the furnace of affliction.

Sometimes people say to me, “Oh, I wish I had the kind of ministry you have, Joyce.” Well, I did not get it by wishing. These people didn’t see when I was feeling I couldn’t hold on one more second, begging God to help me to not quit or give up. They don’t know the tests and trials I’ve faced along the way.

No one who does anything worthwhile for God has traveled an easy road. Doing great things for God requires character, and character is developed by passing life’s tests and staying faithful to Him through the trials.

Trust in Him: God has a unique plan for your life. Trust Him when you go through tests, knowing that they are strengthening and preparing you for the great things He has planned specifically for you.

 

 

Greg Laurie – Run by the Rules

greglaurie

I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. —1 Corinthians 9:26–27

I read an article about a British runner named Rob Sloan who finished third in the Kielder Marathon in the UK. Sloan burst across the finish line with a time of 2:51:00. But everyone noticed that he had so much energy and hardly any sweat while the others runners were exhausted. As it turned out, he ran most of the race but then left the course at mile 20 and caught a shuttle bus the rest of the way. As the leading runners were heading toward the finish line, he trotted out of the forest and onto the race route. But it wasn’t long before the race organizers found out what had happened, and Sloan was disqualified. He didn’t run according to the rules.

When you are running a race, you have to run by the rules, and you are told what those rules are from the beginning. In the same way, in the race of life we must play by the rules—God’s rules. The apostle Paul said, “I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:26–27).

As we run, we have to run according to God’s rules. We don’t make up the rules as we go. We don’t say, “Well, I don’t agree with this rule, so I am not going to live by it.” If that is how we run our race, then we will be disqualified because that is not how it works. God is the one who sets up the rules. We are the ones who need to run by them.

Are you running by the rules? Or, are you facing disqualification?

 

Our Daily Bread — Dreams Of Childhood

Our Daily Bread

Psalm 8

Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength. —Psalm 8:2

Years ago, I asked fifth-grade students to prepare a list of questions to ask Jesus if He were to show up in person the following week. I also asked groups of adults to do the same thing. The results were startlingly different. The kids’ questions ranged from adorable to poignant: “Will we have to sit around in robes and sing all day in heaven? Will my puppy be in heaven? Were the whales in or out of the ark? How’s my grandpa doing up there with You?” Almost without fail, their questions were free from doubt that heaven existed or that God acts supernaturally.

Adults, on the other hand, featured a completely different line of questioning: “Why do bad things happen to good people? How do I know You’re listening to my prayers? Why is there only one way to heaven? How could a loving God let this tragedy happen to me?”

For the most part, children live life unfettered by the cares and sorrows that burden adults. Their faith lets them trust God more readily. While we adults often get lost in trials and sorrows, children retain the psalmist’s view of life—an eternal perspective that sees the greatness of God (Ps. 8:1-2).

God can be trusted, and He longs for us to trust Him the way children do (Matt. 18:3). —Randy Kilgore

O Father, may I find again the dreams of childhood

when thoughts of You filled me with peace

and I longed to know You more. Give me

a faith that trusts You implicitly.

An intimate walk with God lifts our eyes from today’s trials and into eternity’s triumphs.

Bible in a year: Isaiah 45-46; 1 Thessalonians 3

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – “Maybe”

Ravi Z

Recently, I attended the memorial service for a close family member. He was the fourth person to die in this family, and the fourth to die before the age of 70. As the extended family began to gather in the church library prior to the service, the grief was as palpable as if it was a figure in the room. Tears flowed freely, and we embraced one another in an attempt to offer comfort in the midst of the sorrow.

After the service, as we stood in a receiving line and watched people mill about, there were many children and young toddlers in attendance. Unaware of what had brought us all together, they ran around one another playing and screaming with joy and delight. I couldn’t help but wonder at this strange juxtaposition. For in this one space of a funeral where one person had died, new life was playing all around me. How ironic that a place flooded with tears was also a place that held the delightful squeals and joyful play of young children.

Having lunch with a dear friend in the days following, we spoke of her own experience with this ironic juxtaposition of joy and sadness. She had suffered the death of her young husband to cancer. Her eyes filled with tears as she recalled the unfathomable sorrow she felt when he told her how sad he would be to leave her behind, to leave their children, and the life he loved. All of the pain surrounding his death and untimely departure from this earth she carries with her now-even as she enjoys a new relationship with another young widower. They would have never met one another had it not been for death and loss of their beloved spouses; they feel both joy and sorrow as if they are united in their hearts like conjoined twins.

Poet and author Wendell Berry writes of this marriage of joy and sorrow in his poem entitled Sabbaths 2009. He begins with a quote by William Faulkner. “‘Maybe,’ Mr. Ernest said, ‘The best word in our language, the best of all.’” The poem proceeds to describe a bookkeeper tallying all the suffering and pain in one column of his ledger, everything he now knows of grief, pain and loss. He reckons these figures in their great weight, though he has no means of truly weighing them. Then he enters all he knows of the opposite decree—of beauty and love, generosity and grace and laughter. And he weighs these unweighable figures as well, knowing they can never be measured quantities, but simply register on his heart. He closes the book, not able to say which outweighs the other—good or evil, joy or sorrow-though he longs to know. Berry concludes with the bookkeeper’s ponderings:

He only can suppose

the things of goodness, the most

momentary, are in themselves

so whole, so bright, as to redeem

the darkness and trouble of the world

though we set it all afire.

“Maybe,” the bookkeeper says. “Maybe.”(1)

For many, ‘maybe’ honestly reflects the weight of carrying both joy and sorrow in their lives and in this world. And Berry’s poem honestly describes this life that is filled with both joy and sorrow; which outweighs the other we often cannot tell. Eventually, all those we love will die, or we will leave those we love. And yet the joy that comes in loving others overflows this inevitability of death and loss. Around every corner are new lives born or re-born through life transforming events-young and old-that counterbalance the surety of loss and senescence.

While these insights are not novel, it seems we humans prefer to believe we will somehow escape sorrow, pain, and loss. Intellectually, we know that suffering is a very real possibility, but we think it will not touch us. As a result, when life is filled with sorrow or loss we are ill-equipped to cope with it. We see suffering, grief, sorrow or loss as an aberration or a departure from ‘normal’ life, failing to recognize that the journey of earthly life would always include the push and pull between sorrow and joy. For Christians, the focus can easily center on victorious living and resurrection to the exclusion of Jesus’s matter-of-fact instruction to his followers that in this world they “will have trouble, but I have overcome this world.”(2) I had forgotten that many who have gone before me as that ‘great cloud of witnesses’ “did not receive what was promised.”(3) They, too, lived in a land of ‘maybe,’ and in the bittersweet juxtaposition of joy and sorrow.

As I walked out of the church after the funeral, and I felt spent from grieving, I simultaneously felt more alive than I had felt in a long time. Feeling the full range of human emotion and experiencing the tension that exists between joy and sorrow reminds me of what it means to be alive. And while I follow the one who assures me that he “has overcome the world,” his assurance did not come without his own journey to the cross and to the full experience of human sorrow and suffering. The joy set before him accompanied him there in the most beautiful and transformative juxtaposition.

Margaret Manning is a member of the writing and speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Seattle, Washington.

 (1) Wendell Berry, Sabbaths 2009, Sewanee Review, Volume 119, Number 2, Spring 2011, pp. 198-205.

(2) John 16:33.

(3) Hebrews 11:29.

Charles Spurgeon – Magnificat

CharlesSpurgeon

“Awake, awake, Deborah; awake, awake, utter a song; arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam.” Judges 5:12

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 108:1-5

Wake up, my love, for thou must strike the key-note and lead the strain. Awake and sing unto thy beloved a song touching thy well-beloved. Give unto him choice canticles, for he is the fairest among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely. Come forth then with thy richest music, and praise the name which is as ointment poured forth. Wake up, my hope, and join hands with thy sister—love; and sing of blessings yet to come. Sing of my dying hour, when he shall be with me on my couch. Sing of the rising morning, when my body shall leap from its tomb into its Saviour’s arms! Sing of the expected advent, for which thou lookest with delight! And, O my soul, sing of that heaven which he has gone before to prepare for thee, “that where he is, there may his people be.” Awake my love—awake my hope—and thou my faith, awake also! Love has the sweetest voice, hope can thrill forth the higher notes of the sacred scale; but thou, O faith—with thy deep resounding bass melody—thou must complete the song. Sing of the promise sure and certain. Rehearse the glories of the covenant ordered in all things, and sure. Rejoice in the sure mercies of David! Sing of the goodness which shall be known to thee in all thy trials yet to come. Sing of that blood which has sealed and ratified every word of God. Glory in that eternal faithfulness which cannot lie, and of that truth which cannot fail. And thou, my patience, utter thy gentle but most gladsome hymn. Sing today of how he helped thee to endure in sorrows’ bitterest hour. Sing of the weary way along which he has borne thy feet, and brought thee at last to lie down in green pastures, beside the still waters.

For meditation: The songs of the Christian should arise from a thankful heart (Colossians 3:16) stirred up by the word of Christ.

Sermon no. 340

15 October (Preached 14 October 1860)

 

 

Greg Laurie – Run Well

greglaurie

You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? —Galatians 5:7

When runners compete in a race, depending on what kind of race it is, they must stay in their own lane. A runner cannot go into a competitor’s lane and cut that runner off. If this happens, he or she will be disqualified.

The apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Galatia, “You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth?” (5:7). Or, paraphrased, “You were running superbly! Who cut in on you, deflecting you from the true course of obedience?” Sometimes in the race of life, people will cut in on us and impair our performance. That means we need to give a lot of thought as to whom we choose to run with.

Paul instructed Timothy to “run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts” (2 Timothy 2:22). As Christians, we should run together, not trip each other in the race. We are not competing against one another.

Our competition is with the world, the flesh, and the Devil—those are our competitors in life’s race. Those are our enemies. So it is not about besting one another; it is about glorifying God and overcoming the Enemy.

Paul also warned against looking back while we are running our race. He said, “Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (Philippians 3:13–14). You can’t run a good race if you are constantly looking over your shoulder.

So in the race of life, stay in your own lane and don’t look back.

 

Charles Stanley – Knowing God as Our Father

Charles Stanley

1 John 3:1-3

When we hear the word “father,” what images come to mind? Couch potato or hardworking? Stern or enthusiastic? Available or absent? No matter what strengths or weaknesses our earthly dads may have had, we have a heavenly Father who is perfect.

Jesus’ life provides us with a picture of God as our Father. We see the Savior tenderly holding children, ministering to the sick, and showing compassion to the undeserving. Christ’s words tell us of a heavenly Father who loves people, listens to the prayers of His children, and freely offers forgiveness.

Jesus also revealed that there are two spiritual fathers in this world: Jehovah and Satan. Only those who have been spiritually born into God’s family may call Him “Father.” This rebirth (John 3:3) takes place when a person accepts Jesus’ substitutionary sacrifice for his or her own sins. Those that reject Christ—the only way to God (14:6)—consequently choose the Devil as their spiritual father (8:42-45). They have believed the Father of Lies and rejected the one true God as revealed in the person of Jesus. Satan came to steal, kill, and destroy (10:10), but Jesus came that we might have new life and be reconciled to God the Father.

God is aware of every need we have, and He has promised to provide His best for us. He delights in giving good gifts to His children and doesn’t hold our mistakes against us. With Him, we find intimacy, security, and satisfaction. Child of God, how well do you know your Father?

 

 

Our Daily Bread — Seeds & Soils

Our Daily Bread

Matthew 13:1-9

Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. —2 Peter 3:18

If you like growing pumpkins, you have probably heard of Dill’s Atlantic Giant variety of premium pumpkin seeds. Developed on a family farm in Atlantic Canada, the pumpkins grown from these seeds have set records around the world. In 2011, a pumpkin grown in Quebec set a new world record at 1,818.5 pounds (825 kg). That size of pumpkin could yield almost 1,000 pieces of pie!

When news reporters asked how this pumpkin could grow to such a size, the farmer replied that it had to do with the soil. The seeds were of a special large variety, but the soil still had to be right or the pumpkin wouldn’t grow properly.

The Lord Jesus used an illustration in which He compared different types of ground to a person’s response to God’s Word (Matt. 13). Some seeds were eaten by the birds, others started to grow but were choked by the weeds, and some grew up instantly but had no soil to further their growth. But the seeds that fell on the good soil “yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty” (v.8).

Each of us needs to ask, “What kind of soil am I?” The Lord wants to plant His Word in our hearts so we can grow in our knowledge of Him. —Brent Hackett, RBC Canada Director

More about Jesus let me learn,

More of His holy will discern;

Spirit of God, my teacher be,

Showing the things of Christ to me. —Hewitt

The fruit of the Spirit grows in the soil of obedience.

Bible in a year: Isaiah 43-44; 1 Thessalonians 2

 

Joyce Meyer – A Happy Heart

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A glad heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is broken. . . . A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones. —Proverbs 15:13; 17:22

Most women are concerned about their looks, and a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks instantly. Ziggy said, “A smile is a facelift that is in everyone’s price range.”

When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling; live your life in such a way that when you die, you will be smiling and everyone else will be crying.

You may be familiar with Joel Osteen, a pastor from Houston, Texas. He not only pastors the largest church in the United States, but he is also on television in many parts of the world. Joel is known as “the smiling preacher.” He literally smiles all the time. I have eaten with him several times, and I am still trying to figure out how he can eat and smile at the same time, but he does it. He is a great pastor and teacher of God’s Word, but I believe one of the main things that helps his popularity is his smile. People want to feel better, and anytime we smile at them it helps them do that. A smile reassures people and puts them at ease.

Lord, Your love and grace bring the deepest happiness to my heart. I receive it from You, and I ask You to pour it out to others through my smiles and care. Amen.

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Never Alone

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“No I will not abandon you or leave you as orphans in the storm, I will come to you” (John 14:18).

“I feel so alone,” Bev said,” with my husband gone and all my children married. Sometimes I can hardly bear the pain, the anguish. At times its as though I am about to suffocate – I am so lonely!”

Bev was in her late 70’s. Her husband was dead, and the other members of her family had become involved in their own careers and activities. Though they loved her, they were so busy they seldom saw her to express that love.

I shared with her the good news of the one who loved her so much that He died on the cross for her and paid the penalty for her sins, the one who promised to come to her and, once He came, never to leave her.

There in the loneliness of her living room, she bowed with me in prayer and invited the risen living Christ to take up residence in her life, to forgive her, to cleanse her, to make her whole, to make her a child of God. When she lifted her face, her cheeks were moist with tears of repentance and her heart was made new with joy.

“I feel so different,” she said. “Already I feel enveloped with the sense of God’s presence, His love and His peace.”

As the months passed, it became increasingly evident that she was not alone. He who was with her had been faithful to His promise never to leave her.

Do you feel deserted, alone, rejected? Do you have problems with your family, work, school, or health? Whatever may be your need, Jesus is waiting to make His presence as real to you as if He were with you in His physical body.

There are five things that I would encourage you to do to enhance the realization of His presence. (1) Meditate upon His Word day and night. (2) Confess all known sins. (3) Aggressively obey His commandments. (4) Talk to Him about everything as you would your dearest friend. (5) Tell everyone who will listen about Him so that they too can experience with you the supernatural life which comes only from allowing the supernatural power of the indwelling Christ to be reflected in and through you.

Bible Reading: Psalm 68:3-6

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: In order to enhance the Lord’s presence in my life, I will practice the five recommendations knowing that as I walk in this vital personal relationship with the risen Christ, the supernatural qualities that characterize His life will become more and more apparent in time.

 

Charles Spurgeon – Jacob and Esau

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“Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” Romans 9:13

Suggested Further Reading: Ezekiel 33:11-20

My soul revolts at the idea of a doctrine that lays the blood of man’s soul at God’s door. I cannot conceive how any human mind, at least any Christian mind, can hold any such blasphemy as that. I delight to preach this blessed truth—salvation of God, from first to last—the Alpha and the Omega; but when I come to preach damnation, I say, damnation is of man, not of God; and if you perish, at your own hands must your blood be required. There is another passage. At the last great day, when all the world shall come before Jesus to be judged, have you noticed, when the righteous go on the right side, Jesus says, “Come, ye blessed of my Father,”—(“of my Father,” mark,)—“inherit the kingdom prepared”—(mark the next word)—“for you, from before the foundation of the world.” What does he say to those on the left? “Depart, ye cursed.” He does not say, “ye cursed of my Father,” but, “ye cursed.” And what else does he say? “into everlasting fire, prepared”—(not for you, but)—“for the devil and his angels.” Do you see how it is guarded. Here is the salvation side of the question. It is all of God. “Come, ye blessed of my Father.” It is a kingdom prepared for them. There you have election, free grace in all its length and breadth. But, on the other hand, you have nothing said about the Father—nothing about that at all. “Depart, ye cursed.” Even the flames are said not to be prepared for sinners, but for the devil and his angels. There is no language that I can possibly conceive that could more forcibly express this idea, supposing it to be the mind of the Holy Spirit, that the glory should be to God, and that the blame should be laid at man’s door.

For meditation: For meditation: The love of God towards a sinful Jacob should surprise us more than the hatred of God towards a sinful Esau.

Sermon no. 239

13 October (Preached 16 January 1859)

 

Our Daily Bread — I’m Invisible

Our Daily Bread

Isaiah 40:25-31

[The Lord] gives power to the weak. —Isaiah 40:29

My friend Jane said something at a work meeting and no one responded. So she repeated it and again no one responded; her co-workers just ignored her. She realized that her opinion didn’t matter much. She felt disregarded and invisible. You may know what that’s like as well.

The people of God felt that way as a nation (Isa. 40). Only they believed it was God Himself who didn’t see or understand their daily struggle to survive! The southern kingdom had been carried away captive into Babylon, and the exiled nation complained: “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my just claim is passed over by my God” (v.27).

While Isaiah agreed that compared to God “the nations are as a drop in a bucket, and are counted as the small dust on the scales” (v.15), he also wanted the people to know that God gives power to the weak and strength to those who need it (v.29). If they waited on the Lord, Isaiah said, He would renew their strength. They would mount up with wings like eagles; they would run and not be weary (v.31).

When you’re feeling invisible or disregarded, remember that God does see you and He cares. Wait on Him, and He’ll give you renewed strength. —Anne Cetas

Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,

In Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail.

Thy mercies how tender! How firm to the end!

Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend. —Grant

Even when we don’t sense God’s presence, His loving care is all around us.

Bible in a year: Isaiah 39-40; Colossians 4

 

Presidential Prayer Team; C.H. – R-E-S-P-E-C-T

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Everyone wants a little respect. While some demand it, wise people know you cannot force respect. It is earned – by honoring your word, putting others above yourself, or pitching in when someone needs help.

Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father‘s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

Luke 12:32

You can’t focus on the character trait itself; instead, you must focus on the actions that instill respect. In today’s passage, Christ cautions His listeners not to worry about their needs being met. He tells them in Luke 12:31 to “seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.” God’s provision is a result of obedience and focusing on Him, just as respect is a result of a life well lived.

Are you consumed with worry for your own household or the future of America? When you give too much attention to a problem, you’ve shifted the emphasis off of God. Ask your Heavenly Father to help you put Him first in everything, and watch how it changes both your own home life and trickles out to change America. Pray, too that the president and vice-president would learn to put their focus on God and, in doing so, earn the respect of many.

Recommended Reading: Philippians 4:4-9