Tag Archives: nature

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.

 

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.

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.

 

Our Daily Bread — To Whom It Is Due

Our Daily Bread

Romans 13:1-10

Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. —Romans 13:7

My husband and I live in a rural area surrounded by farms where this slogan is popular: “If you ate a meal today, thank a farmer.” Farmers definitely deserve our gratitude. They do the hot, hard work of tilling soil, planting seeds, and harvesting the food that keeps us from starving to death.

But every time I thank a farmer, I also try to remember to offer praise to God, for He is the One responsible for producing the food we eat. He gives light, sends rain, and creates the energy within the seed that gives it the strength to push through the soil and produce fruit.

Although the earth and everything in it belong to God (Ps. 24:1), He has chosen humans to be its caretakers. We are responsible to use the earth’s resources as He would use them—to do His work in the world (115:16). And just as we are stewards of God’s physical creation, we also are stewards of His design for society. We do this by respecting those He has placed in authority, by paying taxes, by giving honor to those who have earned it, and by continuing to pay our debt of love (Rom. 13:7-8). But one thing we reserve for God: All praise and glory belong to Him, for He is the One who makes everything possible (Ps. 96:8). —Julie Ackerman Link

Sing praise to God who reigns above,

The God of all creation,

The God of power, the God of love,

The God of our salvation. —Schütz

God’s unsearchable ways deserve our unbounded praise.

Bible in a year: Ezekiel 3-4; Hebrews 11:20-40

 

 

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.

 

 

Greg Laurie – Why Jesus Had to Die, Part 3

greglaurie

Last weekend we looked at Jesus in Gethsemane. Today we look at Jesus on the cross.

On the cross, Jesus gave seven statements—each one significant and necessary. One of the most arresting is “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” No fiction writer would have his hero say words like those. They surprise us, disarm us, and cause us to wonder what He meant. In many ways, this is virtually impossible to fathom.

No man has ever experienced loneliness and isolation as Jesus did at this point. First Judas betrayed Him, but His other disciples still stood with Him—until Gethsemane; then they too fled. But Simon Peter was still following, albeit at a distance. Then he too turned away from the Lord, openly denying Him.

But there was still the Father, who was always there. In John 8:29 Jesus said, “And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone.” Jesus said to His disciples, “Indeed, the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet, I am not alone, because the Father is with Me” (John 16:32).

But at the cross, God the Father turned away His face from God the Son. Why? Because God, in all His holiness, could not look at sin. So holy is God that we are told that He is “of purer eyes than to behold evil and cannot look on wickedness” (Habakkuk 1:13).

So the holy Father had to “turn His face” and pour His wrath upon His own Son. Understand, for Jesus that was the greatest sacrifice He could have possibly made. It is my belief that His greatest pain occurred at this moment.

He felt forsaken of God because this is the consequence of sin. For a person to be forsaken of God is the penalty which naturally and inevitably follows separation from God because of sin. Jesus was forsaken of God so I don’t have to be. Jesus was forsaken that I might be forgiven. Jesus entered the darkness that I might walk in the light! Jesus was forsaken of God for a time that I might enjoy His presence forever!

As Christ hung there, he was bearing the sins of the world, dying as a substitute. To Him was imputed the guilt of our sins, and He was suffering the punishment for those sins on our behalf. The very essence of that punishment was the outpouring of God’s wrath against sinners.

“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the punishment for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4–5).

 

Alistair Begg – A Question to Consider

Alistair Begg

The church in your house.

Philemon 2

Is there a church in this house? Are parents, children, and friends all members of it, or are some still unconverted? Let us pause here and let the question go round: Am I a member of the church in this house?

The father’s heart would leap for joy, and the mother’s eyes would fill with holy tears if from the eldest to the youngest all were saved! Let us pray for this great mercy until the Lord shall grant it to us.

Probably it had been the dearest object of Philemon’s desires to have all his household saved; but it was not at first fully granted to him. He had a wicked servant, Onesimus, who, having wronged him, ran away from his service.

His master’s prayers followed him, and at last, as God would have it, Onesimus was led to hear Paul preach; his heart was touched, and he returned to Philemon not only to be a faithful servant, but a beloved brother, adding another member to the church in Philemon’s house.

Is there an unconverted family member absent this morning? Make special supplication that they may, upon returning to their home, gladden every heart with good news of what grace has done! Is there an unconverted family member still at home? Ask God to save him also.

If there is such a church in our house, let us order it well, and let everyone conduct themselves as in the sight of God. Let us go about our daily routines with studied holiness, diligence, kindness, and integrity. More is expected of a church than of an ordinary household.

Family worship must, in such a case, be more devout and hearty; internal love must be warmer and unbroken, and external conduct must be more sanctified and Christlike. We need not fear that the smallness of our number will put us out of the list of churches, for the Holy Spirit has enrolled a family-church here in the inspired book of remembrance.

As a church let us now draw near to the great Head of the one Church universal, and let us beseech Him to give us grace to shine before men to the glory of His name.

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Truly Human

Ravi Z

“What does it mean to be human?” has been the inquiring theme of more than a few journals, conferences, and special reports. It is a question that is considered from anthropological, theological, and biological perspectives, from within medical, ethical, and spiritual circles. Yet regardless of the examiner, any plumbing of the depths of the nature of humanity is a discovery that the implications are as far-reaching as the subject itself.

Generation after generation, voices that have spoken to the question of human nature often reflect something of the paradoxical character of humanity. Plato described human life in terms of the dualistic qualities he observed. While the mind is representative of the intellectual soul, the stomach is an appetitive beast that must be tamed. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote of the human propensity for both compassion and cruelty at once. “The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.”(1) Speaking in the 17th century, Blaise Pascal made note of further dueling extremes present within humanity. “For after all, what is man in nature? A nothing in relation to infinity, all in relation to nothing, a central point between nothing and all—and infinitely far from understanding either… He is equally incapable of seeing the nothingness out of which he was drawn and the infinite in which he is engulfed.”(2)

What does it mean to be human? The seeming paradoxes in and around us make the question difficult to answer. Don’t we sense at times within us contradiction and inconsistency—a desire to be a good friend beside the wherewithal to manipulate or exploit, the intention to be a good neighbor beside the tendency to walk away without helping? It is reminiscent of Aslan’s response to the children in Prince Caspian: “‘You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve,’ said Aslan. ‘And that is both honour enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor in earth.’”

As a Christian, I understand my own inconsistencies by the explanation given in the Christian story. Humans are bearers of God’s image, made with the intention and care of a good Creator. But it is a reflection that has become blurred. The image of God in humanity is an image tarnished. We have been made in God’s image, but it is an image that needs restoration, reviving, resuscitation.

In the company of Pascal and Solzhenitsyn, I find Christian doctrine to provide the only framework that makes sense of the contradictions within us. But far more than this, it is also the only framework that redeems the tension within us, the tension between my identity as a child of God and a daughter of humanity. New Testament writers have assured the promise is ours: “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.” For Christ is not only at work redeeming a fallen humanity, cleansing us from the sin that corrupts our nature. Christ came to unite humanity with God so that we can be truly human.

This is far more hopeful news than other worldviews or self-help plans impart. For if true humanity is a humanity fully united to its creator, then the possibility is ours. Acting on our own power and authority, independent of God, we merely expose our alienation from God and from our true selves. We fail to know what it means to be fully human. But united to Christ through faith we are united to another nature entirely. Writes one disciple, “[God] has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1:4).

While Christ is the one who makes our resuscitation possible, the one who restores in us the image of God, the process of reviving is also something we actively take hold of as human beings united to the Son. In other words, to live as children made in God’s image and united to Christ is not a static hope, but an active calling. “So then,” in the words of Paul, “just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Colossians 2:6-7).

What does it mean to be human? Perhaps we only begin to answer this immense inquiry when we turn to the one who shows us the very meaning of the word.

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

(1) Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago: 1918-1956 (New York: Harper Collins, 2002), 75.

(2) Blaise Pascal, Pensess (New York: Penguin, 1995), 61.

Charles Spurgeon – The great Supreme

CharlesSpurgeon

“Ascribe ye greatness unto our God.” Deuteronomy 32:3

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:1-9

In Protestant countries there is a very strong tendency to priestcraft still. Though we do not bow down and worship images, and do not professedly put our souls into the hands of priests, yet, I am sorry to say it, there is scarce a congregation that is free from that error of ascribing greatness to their minister. If souls are converted, how very prone we are to think there is something marvellous in the man; and if saints are fed and satisfied with marrow and fatness, how prone we are to suppose that the preacher has something about him by which these wondrous things are done; and if a revival takes place in any part of the vineyard, it matters not in what denomination, there is an aptness in the human mind to ascribe some part of the glory and the praise to the mere human agency. Oh, beloved, I am sure that every right-minded minister will scorn the thought. We are but your servants for Christ’s sake. We speak to you, as God helps us, what we believe to be God’s truth; but ascribe not to us any honour or any glory. If a soul is saved, God from first to last has done it. If your souls are fed, thank the Master; be respectful and grateful to the servant as you will be, but most of all thank him who puts the word into the mouths of his servants, and who applies it to your heart. “Oh, down with priestcraft!” even I myself must down with it. “Down with it!” I cry. If I myself like Samson fall beneath its roof, let me fall myself and be crushed, well content in having pulled down or contributed to remove one solitary brick in that colossal house of Satan. Take care, friends, that you put no honour upon any man that you ought to have ascribed unto his Sovereign. “Ascribe ye greatness unto our God.”

For meditation: Why are you using these daily readings? We should thank God for Spurgeon, but many go too far and venerate Spurgeon himself. He reminds us that he too was a man (Acts 10:26) and that the glory belongs not to him but to his and our God (Psalm 115:1).

Sermon no. 367

28 September (1856)

John MacArthur – Knowing God

John MacArthur

“With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18).

Man’s highest purpose is to know God. Jesus prayed to the Father, saying, “This is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent” (John 17:3). Of us He said, “I am the good shepherd; and I know My own, and My own know Me” (John 10:14). John added that “we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 5:20).

Every Christian knows God through salvation, but beyond that lies an intimate knowledge of God. That should be the quest of every believer. Moses prayed, “Let me know Thy ways, that I may know Thee, so that I may find favor in Thy sight” (Ex. 33:13). David entreated his son Solomon to “know the God of [his] father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind” (1 Chron. 28:9). Even the apostle Paul, who perhaps knew Christ more intimately than any human being thus far, never lost his passion for an even deeper knowledge (Phil. 3:10).

Such passion is the driving force behind powerful prayer. Those who know God best pray most often and most fervently. Their love for Him compels them to know and serve Him better.

How about you? Is your knowledge of God intimate? Does the character of your prayers reveal that you’re in the process of knowing God?

Paul’s admonitions to “pray at all times in the Spirit” and “be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18) presuppose that you know God and desire to see His will fulfilled in His people. If not, you’ll never appreciate the importance of interceding on behalf of others.

Suggestions for Prayer:

The martyred missionary Jim Elliot once prayed, “Lord, make my life a testimony to the value of knowing you.” Let that be your prayer each day.

For Further Study:

Read 1 Chronicles 28.

What did God forbid David to do?

What would happen to Solomon if he failed to know and serve God?

Presidential Prayer Team; The Godless Church – Special Report

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Morality In America Atheist congregation expands to U.S.

By Diann Noles

In these days of economic uncertainty, moral depravity and world-wide turbulence, people are looking for purpose and relevancy. For many, this means searching for spiritual meaning through traditional religions. But, for a growing number of people, belief in or reliance on any kind of deity is unthinkable. That’s where Sunday Assembly comes in.

The fastest growing “church” in the world with a growth rate of over 3,000 percent, Sunday Assembly – a godless monthly Sunday service for atheists – is being duplicated this fall in 22 cities throughout the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Australia. Organizers anticipate thousands will gather “to hear great talks, sing songs and generally celebrate the wonder of life with no hope of the hereafter.”

Although the gatherings appear to be more of a social club than a church, Sunday Assembly is modeled after the typical Anglican Church for those who identify with a traditional worship service and comunity bond.

“The church model has worked really well for a couple of thousand years,” Los Angeles camera man Ian Dodd explained in an interview with Salon. “What we’re trying to do is hold on to the bath water while throwing out the baby Jesus.” Dodd will be starting the new Assembly in Los Angeles later this fall.

Founded in January 2013 by stand-up comedians Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, the original church’s motto is: “Live Better, Help Often and Wonder More.” According to the Public Charter of the Assembly, “We are born from nothing and go to nothing. Let’s enjoy it together. [We have] no doctrine… no set texts so we can make use of wisdom from all sources… no deity.”

While beliefs differ throughout the congregation, a sense of community is what draws many people. “When I decided there probably wasn’t a God, it made church a lot more awkward,” Evans – a former Christian – said in an interview with The Daily Beast. “I always felt like there wasn’t a place to have that same sort of community. I couldn’t get my head around how to do it without offending anyone.”

“I don’t think religion should have a monopoly on community,” wrote Salon columnist Katie Engelhart after attending a service. “I like the idea of a secular temple, where atheists can enjoy the benefits of an idealized, traditional church – a sense of community, a thought-provoking sermon, a scheduled period of respite, easy access to community service opportunities, group singing, an ethos of self-improvement, free food – without the stinging imposition of God Almighty.”

The rapid expansion of the church is somewhat unexpected. While branches have already been opened in England, Australia and New York City, Jones and Evans didn’t foresee the explosion of interest. “The big surprise is that this has become an international movement so quickly, we didn’t realize how powerful the Internet was with an idea – so that’s been amazing,” Evans said.

“If we do it in London and there are 400 people who come, that’s brilliant, but if we find a way to help hundreds of people to set one up then we can have a bigger impact than we could ever dream of,” Jones told The Guardian, a British daily publication. He said their vision is “a godless gathering in every town, city or village that wants one.” They will be touring the U.S. and Canada in November 2013 with stops in seven U.S. cities.

Jones and Evans are excited to bring their brand of “religion” to the world, and particularly the U.S. When asked about possible backlash, Jones and Evans are optimistic about the end result. “In the States you’ve got a whole load of people who get how good church is, religious people totally get why you’d go to church, they think it’s weird that people don’t,” Jones said. “I don’t expect much objection from religious communities. They are happy for us to use their church model. I think it’s more aggressive atheists who will have an issue with it.”

In your prayer time this week, please pray:

That this atheist movement will fade quickly

That the atheist groups that meet in churches will feel the presence of God and turn to Him

That America’s religious freedoms are not negatively impacted by the atheist groups

Diann Noles is a former editor and writer for Christian publications in Tucson, AZ and Portland, OR. She now serves as Public Relations Director for a major Christian non-profit organization. She and her husband Bill live in Tucson, AZ and have two sons and four grandchildren.

Alistair Begg – God’s Church

Alistair Begg

He was standing among the myrtle trees in the glen.

Zechariah 1:8

The vision in this chapter describes the condition of Israel in Zechariah’s day; but being interpreted in its aspect toward us, it describes the Church of God as we find it now in the world. The Church is compared to a myrtle grove flourishing in a glen.

It is hidden, unobserved, courting no honor and attracting no attention from the careless gazer. The Church, like her Head, has a glory, but it is concealed from carnal eyes, for the time of her breaking forth in all her splendor is not yet here.

The idea of tranquil security is also suggested to us, for the myrtle grove in the glen is still and calm, while the storm sweeps over the mountaintops. Tempests spend their force upon the craggy peaks of the Alps, but down where the stream flows that makes glad the city of our God, the myrtles flourish by still waters and are unshaken by the impetuous wind. How great is the inward tranquillity of God’s Church! Even when opposed and persecuted, she has a peace that the world does not give and that, therefore, it cannot take away: The peace of God that passes all understanding keeps the hearts and minds of God’s people.

Doesn’t the metaphor forcefully picture the peaceful, perpetual growth of the saints? The myrtle does not shed her leaves-she is always green; and the church in her worst time still has a blessed covering of grace about her; indeed, she has sometimes exhibited most vegetation when her winter has been sharpest. She has prospered most when her adversities have been most severe.

Hence the text hints at victory. The myrtle is the emblem of peace and a significant token of triumph. The brows of conquerors were wreathed with myrtle and with laurel; and isn’t the church always victorious? Isn’t every Christian more than a conqueror through Him who loved him? Living in peace, don’t the saints fall asleep in the arms of victory?

 

John MacArthur – Butterfly, Botanist, or Bee?

John MacArthur

“Take . . . the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17).

I remember enjoying the observations of a perceptive man who was gazing at a beautiful garden. First he saw a butterfly flitting from flower to flower. It spent a few seconds on the edge of each, but derived no particular benefit from any of them.

Next he saw a botanist with large notebook and microscope in hand. As the botanist carefully observed each flower and plant, he made copious entries in his book. But after hours of meticulous study, most of what he learned was shut up in his book. Very little remained in his mind.

Then came a little bee. When it entered a flower, it emerged laden with pollen. It had left the hive that morning empty, but would return full.

When it comes to Bible study, some people are like butterflys, going from one favorite verse to another, one seminar to another, or one book to another. They’re very busy and expend much energy but have little to show for their efforts. They remain unchanged in any significant way because they never really delve into the Word wholeheartedly. They’re content to simply flutter around the edges.

Others, like the botanist, may study in great depth but never apply it to their lives. I know of entire commentaries written by unbelievers. In some cases their grasp of Scripture is exceptional, but they know nothing of true love for God and obedience to biblical truth. What a tragedy! But you don’t have to be a biblical scholar to make that mistake. You need only to fail to apply what you learn to your life.

Rather, strive to be like the bee, spending time in the Word–reading, studying, taking notes, then emerging fuller than when you began. Your mind will be filled with wisdom and biblical insights. Your life will be sweeter and purer because the Word has done its work (1 Cor. 2:13).

Are you a butterfly, a botanist, or a bee?

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank God for the opportunities He gives you to study His Word. Take full advantage of them.

For Further Study:

According to James 1:22-25, what’s the difference between someone who merely hears the Word and someone who obeys it?

Joyce Meyer – Visit the Still Waters

Joyce meyer

He makes me lie down in [ fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters.

—Psalm 23:2

This particular psalm is familiar to most people, but have you ever given much thought to the “still and restful waters”? I believe this is where you find quiet rest and strength to face the pressures of life.

One might say that the “still waters” are healing waters. The quiet and stillness contain restorative qualities for your soul.

The still waters are available at all times, but we go there far too seldom. Anytime you feel the slightest urge or need you may visit the still waters, if only for a few minutes. Let everything get quiet, and then bask in the beauty of solitude. Silence can teach us more in a moment than all the noise in the world ever could.

So spend more time beside the still waters and find peaceful rest for your soul.

Our Daily Bread — Seeing God In Familiar Places

Our Daily Bread

Isaiah 6:1-6

The whole earth is full of His glory! —Isaiah 6:3

Because of where I live, I’m treated to spectacular displays of the magnificent, creative glory of God. Recently, on a drive through the woods, I was struck with a breath-taking display of deep rich reds and a variety of yellows that decorated the trees of autumn—all artfully arranged against the backdrop of a brilliant blue sky.

And soon, as the temperatures plummet and winter blows in, I’ll be reminded that no two snowflakes are ever the same as they pile on top of one another to create a rolling landscape of pristine white drifts. After that will come the miracle of spring, when that which seemed hopelessly dead bursts into life with buds and blossoms that will grace the meadows with a multiplicity of colors.

Wherever we look in the world around us, we see evidence that “the whole earth is full of His glory!” (Isa. 6:3). What is amazing is that the creation that surrounds us is damaged by sin (see Rom. 8:18-22), yet God has seen fit to grace our fallen landscape with these loving brushstrokes of His creative hand. It serves as a daily reminder that the beauty of His grace covers our sin and that His love for that which is fallen is always available to us. —Joe Stowell

Lord, may we be ever mindful of Your grace and love

in all that surrounds us. Thank You for making Yourself

visible through the beauty of Your creation. Teach us

to look beyond the beauty to see Your hand at work.

Never pass up an opportunity to enjoy nature’s beauty—it’s the handwriting of God.

Bible in a year: Proverbs 27-29; 2 Corinthians 10

 

Greg Laurie – Appointment with a Stranger

greglaurie

Not a Default Destination

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” — John 7:37-38

Years ago there was a woman who went to draw water from a well. She had been married and divorced five times and was living with a man. This was not culturally acceptable, and as a result, she was an outcast. She would go to the well at the hottest time of the day when she most likely would be alone. On one such day, she was surprised to find a stranger sitting there, a Jew. And then the stranger asked her for some water.

This woman was a Samaritan, and Jews and Samaritans didn’t speak to each other. She asked, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?”

As they talked, this stranger, who happened to be Jesus, told her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:13–14).

Jesus was talking about the well as a metaphor for life. If you drink from the well of success, you will thirst again. If you drink from the well of accomplishments, you will thirst again. If you drink from the well of experiences, you will thirst again. Whatever it is, it will leave you empty.

Maybe you have tried to satisfy your spiritual thirst with the things this world has to offer and haven’t found the satisfaction you are looking for. You didn’t find it in that relationship. You didn’t find it in that object. You didn’t even find it in religious activities. The only place you will find it is in Jesus Christ.

Are you spiritually thirsty today? Christ can satisfy your deepest thirst.

 

Our Daily Bread — Light Up The Night

Our Daily Bread

Daniel 12:1-3

Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament. —Daniel 12:3

On a mild fall evening when the sky was dark and the moon was full, thousands of people in my hometown gathered along the banks of the river to light sky lanterns. They released them into the darkness, and watched as the lights rose to join the moon in a dazzling display that turned the night sky into a sparkling work of art.

When I saw pictures of the event, I was disappointed that I was out of town and had missed it. But a few days later I realized that what had happened in Grand Rapids could be seen as a symbol of the conference I was attending in New York City. More than 1,000 people from 100 cities around the world had gathered there to plan a “work of art”—how to light up the darkness of their own cities by planting churches and reaching thousands of people with the gospel of Christ, the Light of the world.

The prophet Daniel wrote about a time when those who turn others to the Lord will shine like stars forever (Dan. 12:3). We can all join in that great event. When we shine the light of Christ in dark places where we live and work, He is lighting up the night sky with stars that never will go out. —Julie Ackerman Link

I want to shine for You in my world, Lord. Show

me how to lift You up, the Light of the world. I look

forward to that day when I will gather with people

from all nations to bow at Your feet and worship You.

When the Light of the world illuminates the earth, His beauty will attract people from every nation.

Bible in a year: Proverbs 3-5; 2 Corinthians 1