Tag Archives: Peace

Our Daily Bread — Fearful Fish

Our Daily Bread

John 1:6-14

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory. —John 1:14

Managing a saltwater aquarium, I discovered, is no easy task. I had to run a portable chemical laboratory to monitor nitrate levels and ammonia content. I pumped in vitamins and antibiotics and sulfa drugs and enzymes. I filtered the water through glass fibers and charcoal.

You would think my fish would be grateful. Not so. When my shadow loomed above the tank to feed them, they dove for cover into the nearest shell. I was too large for them; my actions incomprehensible. They did not know that my acts were merciful. To change their perceptions would require a form of incarnation. I would have to become a fish and “speak” to them in a language they could understand, which was impossible for me to do.

According to the Scriptures, God, the Creator of the universe, did something that seems impossible. He came to earth in human form as a baby. “The world was made through Him,” says John, “and the world did not know Him” (John 1:10). So God, who created matter, took shape within it, as a playwright might become a character within his own play. God wrote a story, using real characters, on the pages of real history. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (v.14). —Philip Yancey

All praise to Thee, eternal Lord,

Clothed in a garb of flesh and blood;

Choosing a manger for a throne,

While worlds on worlds are Thine alone. —Luther

God entered human history to offer us the gift of eternal life.

Bible in a year: 2 Samuel 21-22; Luke 18:24-43

Insight

As the “messenger” (Isa. 40:3; Mal. 3:1; Mark 1:2-3), John the Baptist’s ministry was to introduce Jesus to the world and “to bear witness of the Light” (John 1:7). John presented Jesus as the Logos, the self-existent, preexistent, omnipotent, eternal, Creator God who spoke everything into existence, giving light and life to His creation (vv.4-5). He also presented Jesus as God incarnate (vv.9-14). Jesus added humanity to His deity, becoming one Person with two natures—perfectly human and yet perfectly divine (Phil. 2:6-8). He came to give “light to every man” so that we don’t need to live in sin’s darkness (John 1:9) and to give new life to those who believe so that we can live as God’s children (vv.12-13).

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – GOD AS GARDENER

Ravi Z

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? …

When the morning stars sang in chorus, and all the sons of

God shouted for joy?

These are questions asked of the ancient character Job, finally breaking God’s silence and speaking into Job’s pain. I can read them as a harsh sting, as a silencing gavel to Job’s objections, akin to the response of an exasperated parent putting an end to a child’s endless questions with the trump card of sovereignty: Because I’m the parent, that’s why.

When I first watched Terrence Malick’s film The Tree of Life, which sets its opening frame with these same lines of God to Job, the familiar sting of God’s words greeted me. In fact, it shaped my entire understanding of the film and suspicion regarding Malick’s intentions behind it. In his Oscar nominated film, Malick juxtaposes grand images of the creation of the world beside the small story of a grieving family from Texas through flashbacks of their life together, glimpses of both the gentle and violent moments. With sweeping creation scenes of a massive and intricate universe interposed between these scenes of a small Texas town—a father’s rage at dinner, a son’s discovery of shame, a mother’s small gifts of grace—there seemed a great disconnect to me, so large that I saw a God who had to be removed and far off. The triviality of much of their lives—the triviality of my life—beside a God responsible for far greater deeds seemed so obvious in light of the massive work of creation, and God’s silencing gavel of authority merely seemed to confirm this. In these images it seemed preposterous to think that a God who could create the world and everything magnificent within it would simultaneously be concerned with details so inconsequential as a family fight, a society’s changing priorities, a brother’s complicated grief. I suspected Malick’s God was saying the very thing I left the theater dreading. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? And who are you to question me at all?

It struck me as odd, then, when a friend of mine in the midst of grief herself had a completely different take on the film, and in fact left the theater encouraged. I was puzzled. I even went to see the film a second time, wondering if I missed something.

About a month later I was sitting with a professor who was talking about the creation of the world through the landscape of gardening. He was simply reading from the creation story, but as he read and commented on the story it was as if I was hearing it again for the first time. Genesis chapter 2, the account of creation that Christians and Jews hold as sacred text, says that God planted a garden in Eden to the east. Professor Wirzba then simply asked if we had ever heard a sermon about God, the gardener.

In fact, I have not. Nor have I ever considered what such an identity of God might mean to me or to the world around me. Yet here is one of the first passages in the Bible where we are introduced to who God is—and God is not a warrior or a judge or a sovereign, but first a gardener, a nurturer of all life, protector and planter, a designer, keeper, and pruner concerned with life’s flourishing. My own experiences with gardening remind me of an entirely different set of emotions and dispositions than I typically consider God having—delight in dirty hands and my own investment into the life I’ve planted, the thrill of fruit, the gentle attention to life, the compilation and cooperation with so many different factors—wind and rain, sun and predators. Significantly, the language of God as gardener at creation’s beginning can be traced throughout the Old Testament, in the psalms and in the prophets. And stirringly, the place of the tomb and resurrection is also described as a garden, and Jesus himself is mistaken as the gardener on that creative morning.

I share these two seemingly unconnected encounters to suggest that our imagining of God is often a complicated collection of stories, images, memories, and emotions, some of which may well be more accurate—or heightened in our minds for whatever reason—than others. I have always read God’s response to Job’s pain and questions with the sting of an angry or weary parent. But what if it is a cry of a gardener wanting Job to see a far more creative process of care? What if these words aren’t said angrily, but with gentle lament for the created world in the life of even one wilting soul? What if these words respond to both the vast pain of creation where it’s gone awry and the vast beauty of creation where it remains a wonder of good? Such a reading of the world’s creation and the gardener behind it stirs, in me at least, a response more akin to that of the man after God’s own heart:

When I survey this vast world, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars and all that you have established, what are mortals that you are mindful of them, human beings in whatever state of despair or joy or smallness that you still care for them?

Magnificent and intimate, powerful and gentle, God as gardener, whose deepest concern is life’s flourishing, makes no clearer a case for this than in Easter’s undoing of death and the vicarious humanity of the resurrected Son.

 

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

Alistair Begg  – Open the Door

Alistair Begg

If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him.

Revelation 3:20

What is your desire this evening? Is it focused on heavenly things? Do you long to enjoy the high doctrine of eternal love? Do you desire liberty in very close communion with God? Do you aspire to know the heights and depths and lengths and breadths of His love? Then you must draw near to Jesus; you must get a clear sight of Him in His preciousness and completeness: you must view Him in His work—in His role as prophet, friend, and king—and in His person. He who understands Christ, receives an anointing from the Holy One, by which He knows all things. Christ is the great master-key of all the chambers of God: There is no treasure-house of God that will not open and yield up all its wealth to the soul that lives near to Jesus.

Are you saying, “I wish that He would live in my heart and make it His dwelling-place forever”? Open the door, beloved, and He will come into your soul. He has been knocking continually in order that you and He may break bread together. He eats with you because you provide the house or the heart, and you with Him because He brings the meal. He could not eat with you if it were not in your heart, you finding the house; nor could you eat with Him, for you would have an empty table if He did not bring the food with Him.

Fling wide, then, the portals of your soul. He will come with that love that you long to feel; He will come with that joy into which you cannot work your poor depressed spirit; He will bring the peace that now you do not have; He will come with His flagons of wine and sweet apples of love and will cheer you until you have no other sickness but that of overpowering, divine love. Only open the door to Him, drive out His enemies, give Him the keys of your heart, and He will live there forever. What wondrous love that brings such a guest to dwell in such a heart!

Devotional material is taken from “Morning and Evening,” written by C.H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg. Copyright © 2003, Good News Publishers and used by Truth For Life with written permission.

The family reading plan for  April 25, 2014  Ecclesiastes 12 | Philemon 1

 

Charles Spurgeon – The cry of the heathen

CharlesSpurgeon

“And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over unto Macedonia, and help us.” Acts 16:9

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Corinthians 8:1-15

There is no fear of any one becoming improvidently liberal. You need not be frightened that anyone here will give a thousand pounds this morning. We provide ample accommodation for those who feel inclined to do so. If anyone should be overtaken with such an enormous fit of generosity, we will register and remember it. But I fear there are no people like Barnabas now. Barnabas brought all he had, and put it into the treasury. “My dear friend, do not do that; do not be so rash.” Ah! he will not do that; there is no necessity for you to advise him. But I do say again, if Christianity were truly in our hearts; if we were what we professed to be; the men of generosity whom we meet with now and hold up as very paragons and patterns would cease to be wonders, for they would be as plentiful as leaves upon the trees. We demand of no man that he should beggar himself; but we do demand of every man who makes a profession that he is a Christian, that he should give his fair proportion, and not be content with giving as much to the cause of God as his own servant. We must have it that the man who is rich must give richly. We know the widow’s mite is precious, but the widow’s mite has been an enormously great loss to us. That widow’s mite has lost Jesus Christ many a thousand pounds. It is a very good thing in itself; but people with thousands a year talk of giving a widow’s mite. What a wicked application of what never can apply to them. No; in our proportion we must serve our God.

For meditation: We are instructed to give in proportion (2 Corinthians 8:12), in pleasure (2 Corinthians 9:7) and in privacy (Matthew 6:2-4). How do you calculate how much you should be giving to God’s work each week? In prayer?

Sermon no. 189

25 April (1858)

 

John MacArthur – Messengers of Peace

John MacArthur

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9).

When Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9), He was referring to a special group of people whom God called to restore the peace that was forfeited because of sin. They may not be politicians, statesmen, diplomats, kings, presidents, or Nobel Prize winners, but they hold the key to true and lasting peace.

As a Christian, you are among that select group of peacemakers. As such you have two primary responsibilities. The first is to help others make peace with God. There is no greater privilege. The best way to do that is to preach the gospel of peace with clarity so people understand their alienation from God and seek reconciliation. Romans 10:15 says, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!” The early church preached peace through Christ, and that is your privilege as well.

Your second responsibility is to help reconcile believers to one another. That’s a very important issue to God. He won’t accept worship from those who are at odds with each other. They must first deal with the conflict (Matt. 5:23-24). That is especially true within a family. Peter warned husbands to treat their wives properly so their prayers wouldn’t be hindered (1 Pet. 3:7).

Peacemakers don’t avoid spiritual conflicts–they speak the truth in love and allow the Spirit to minister through them to bring reconciliation. If you see someone who is alienated from God, you are to present him or her with the gospel of peace. If you see two Christians fighting, you are to do everything you can to help them resolve their differences in a righteous manner.

Of course to be an effective peacemaker you must maintain your own peace with God. Sin in your life will disrupt peace and prevent you from dispensing God’s peace to others. Therefore continually guard your heart and confess your sin so that God can use you as His peacemaker.

Suggestions for Prayer: Pray for those close to you who don’t know Christ. Take every opportunity to tell them of God’s peace.

For Further Study: Read 2 Corinthians 5:17-21.

•             How did Paul describe the ministry of reconciliation?

•             What was Christ’s role in reconciling man to God?

 

Joyce Meyer – God Answers the Prayers of the Righteous

Joyce meyer

The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]. —James 5:16

When people struggle in their prayer lives, they often think it is because they are unholy and unrighteous so they try to behave better, hoping that then their prayers will be answered.

The truth is that if we are born again, we are righteous. We may not do everything right; but we are 100 percent righteous through Christ. Second Corinthians 5:21 tells us, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (NKJV). There is a difference between righteousness and “right” behavior. Righteousness describes our standing—our position or condition before God—because of the blood of Jesus.

We cannot make ourselves righteous; only the blood of Jesus makes us righteous, as if we had never sinned at all. God views us as righteous even though we still make mistakes. Because He sees us as righteous, we have a God-given right to pray and expect God to hear and answer us. Always do the best you can to behave properly and do it because you love God, but remember that He hears and answers your prayers because He is good, not because you are.

God’s word for you today: You have been made righteous by the grace of God.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – When He’s in Control

dr_bright

“But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us:…self-control” (Galatians 5:22,23).

Sue insisted that she was Spirit-filled, and she frequently challenged others to be filled with the Spirit. But there was no evidence that the Holy Spirit was in control of her life, because she was completely undisciplined in everything she did. She knew nothing about self-control. She knew all about the Holy Spirit, in her mind, but there was no evidence that He was in her life – and in control of her life.

Dr. Henrietta Mears, as director of Christian education at the First Presbyterian Church in Hollywood, had one of the greatest spiritual ministries of her time. Hundreds of young men and women became church members and missionaries under her influence. She lived in a palatial home, owned priceless antiques and dressed beautifully. Most people assumed that she was a woman of great wealth. Actually, she was a person of relatively modest means. She simply knew how to take her regular salary, a modest inheritance, plus savings, and maximize them for God’s glory.

For example, she would advise young people, “Do not eat in expensive restaurants where you spend excessively except on rare occasions. Instead, prepare your own lunch, and over a period of a year you can save enough money by not eating out to take a trip around the world and enrich your spirit, your soul and your cultural sensitivities. Or you can use the money you save to buy something which will enhance the beauty of your home or person.”

We see disciplined people all around us in the world. Athletes discipline themselves to strict training, soldiers are drilled in military discipline, artists and writers are disciplined to sharpen their talents through dedicated practice. On the other hand, we also see examples of a lack of discipline in the lives of many people around us.

Whether a person is a Christian or a non-believer, the development of self-control as a quality of character seems to be difficult for most people. Yet we are told in the Bible that the Spirit-filled Christian will exhibit self- control as a part of the fruit of the Spirit.

Bible Reading: I Chronicles 28:9-13

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I acknowledge that to walk in the fullness and control of the Holy Spirit will enable me to demonstrate a life of discipline and self-control. Therefore, by faith, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, I shall live a life of discipline and self-control for the glory of God. Self- control is essential for supernatural living.

 

Presidential Prayer Team; C.P. – When God Shows Up

ppt_seal01

When you think of God’s character qualities, love, holiness and power might come to mind. Yet His character also encompasses joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), and all were manifested at the Day of Pentecost in Acts.

I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.

Acts 2:17

God showed His love and joy to Peter and anointed his sermon, and kindness when each person heard the truth in their own language. He manifested self-control when He didn’t strike down those who mocked the apostles; patience in waiting hundreds of years to pour out His Spirit as prophesied in Joel; and faithfulness in sending Jesus according to His foreknowledge, then peace with His promise that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. There was gentleness when Peter declared God’s salvation to those who were broken over crucifying Christ. When 3,000 people accepted Jesus as Lord that day, the totality of God’s loving character was fully displayed.

Pray for spiritual revival in this nation and that many will receive God and produce His fruit in their lives.

Recommended Reading: Galatians 5:13-26

Greg Laurie – An Evangelism Essential   

greglaurie

“Is not My word like a fire?” says the Lord, “And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” —Jeremiah 23:29

Billy Graham once said, “Time and time again in my ministry, I have quoted a Bible verse in a sermon, sometimes without planning to do so in advance, only to have someone tell me afterward it was that verse that the Holy Spirit used to bring conviction and faith to him.”

Knowing God’s Word is essential for any person who wants to lead others to Jesus Christ. Anyone who shares the gospel needs to use the Word of God.

When Philip met the Ethiopian in the desert, the Bible tells us, “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him” (Acts 8:35). What if Philip had not been a student of Scripture when the Ethiopian was looking for answers? He would have had to say, “I don’t know, that’s a good question. Uh, can I get back to you?” Fortunately, Philip was well-versed in what the Scripture taught.

That is why we are told in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” I’m not saying we need to have the answer to every question. But I am saying that we need to study and prepare ourselves as effectively as possible. And if we don’t have the answer, let that propel us back into the pages of Scripture to find it for the next time that question arises.

Today’s devotional is an excerpt from Every Day with Jesus by Greg Laurie, 2013

Max Lucado – Lu-KAH-doh or Lu-KAY-doh?

Max Lucado

My last name has created some awkward moments. A woman said, “Max Lu-KAH-do—I’ve been wanting to meet you.”  I let it go thinking that was the end of it.  But then a man said to me, “My wife and I’ve been trying to figure out how you say your name.  Is it Lu-KAY-doh or Lu-KAH-doh! I felt trapped…as I looked at my new friend who had been mispronouncing my name.

On an infinitely grander scale, God faces with humankind a similar issue I faced with the woman. How can He be both just and kind?  How can He redeem the sinner without endorsing the sin?  From our perspective there are only two equally unappealing solutions. From God’s perspective, however, there is a third. It’s called the Cross of Christ!  And that’s one phrase you want to say correctly!

From He Chose the Nails

Charles Stanley – Christ: The Key to Contentment

Charles Stanley

Philippians 4:6-7

While in prison, Paul penned precious words about the sufficiency of Christ. We tend to attach the idea of contentment to beach vacations and mountain retreats, but the apostle wrote that we are not to be anxious in any place or at any time, because we have the Lord’s peace.

Contentment is the believer’s “birthright.” Peace is part of the spiritual fruit that’s ours when we trust in the Savior (Gal. 5:22). Scripture describes it as an inner peace that passes all understanding (v. 7).

Jesus lived through conflict with a sense of inner quiet, and because of His indwelling Spirit, that remarkable calm also belongs to God’s children. That is important because there are times when we come across a problem with no earthly solution. In situations like that, we learn that self-sufficiency is a lie. We can’t cope alone, but Christ is enough for us.

Here is the flip side of the coin: “‘There is no peace for the wicked,’ says the LORD” (Isa. 48:22). Modern culture slaps the word wicked onto only the most vile of actions and people, but God’s definition is much broader. The wicked are those who willfully reject His right to forgive their sins and take Lordship over their life. If you are not a believer, you cannot experience true and lasting contentment.

When we are born again (John 3:3-8), we become children of the living God and rightful heirs to every good thing that He has to offer. This includes the deep, inner peace and joy that can withstand any trial. What can man do to the one who belongs to the Lord (Heb. 13:6)?

 

Our Daily Bread — Never Let Down

Our Daily Bread

Lamentations 3:13-26

[The Lord’s] compassions fail not. They are new every morning. —Lamentations 3:22-23

When I was a child, one of my favorite pastimes was playing on the teeter-totter in the nearby park. A kid would sit on each end of the board and bounce each other up and down. Sometimes the one who was down would stay there and leave his playmate stuck up in the air yelling to be let down. But the cruelest of all tricks was getting off the teeter-totter and running away when your friend was up in the air—he would come crashing down to the ground with a painful bump.

Sometimes we may feel that Jesus does that to us. We trust Him to be there with us through the ups and downs of life. However, when life takes a turn and leaves us with bumps and bruises, it may feel as if He has walked away leaving our lives to come painfully crashing down.

But Lamentations 3 reminds us that “the steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end” (v.22 ESV) and that God is faithful to the end even when everything seems to be falling apart. This means that in the midst of our pain, even though we may be lonely, we are not alone. And though we may not feel His presence, He is there as our trusted companion who will never walk away and let us down! —Joe Stowell

Thank You, Lord, that we can trust in Your

faithful presence even when we feel alone.

Help us to wait patiently for You to manifest

Your steadfast loving presence.

When everyone else fails, Jesus is your most trusted friend.

Bible in a year: 2 Samuel 19-20; Luke 18:1-23

Insight

In Lamentations 3 we see the tribulations of God’s people. They are described in terms of physical suffering, painful injury, and imprisonment. Judah’s journey is portrayed in harrowing terms of terrible obstacles, wild animals, a wound to the heart, and bitter food. And the spiritual devastation can be seen in these words: “You have moved my soul far from peace” (v.17). Yet despite the despair of the moment, the promise of restoration and renewal are given: “Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning” (vv.22-23).

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Of Life and Death

Ravi Z

There is something deeply unsettling about biological threats. The very idea of unseen, undetectable, but deadly toxins or viruses is a modern nightmare. The sad thing is that we have too many actual examples to fuel our fears. For multitudes in the industrial town of Bhopal, India, a normal working day turned into a catastrophe of biblical proportions as people were poisoned and killed by gas leaking from a local factory. Similarly catastrophic, the events surrounding the reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine combined the worst of leftover Soviet era paranoia and secrecy with a calamity of truly mind-boggling proportions. Hundreds of young men were ushered in to fight a fire, knowing nothing of the deadly radiation saturating the area, and as a result, thousands died (though exact numbers are not clear).

The weight and power of these deadly issues grips us. We feel and understand it acutely. There are things in our universe that are invisible, but real and sometimes deadly. And there are few guaranteed fail-safe mechanisms to protect us, in all circumstances, from harm. This feeling of vulnerability, this sense that there are things beyond our control, this notion of risk is something the modern mind finds repulsive. We want security, we demand certainty, and we feel entitled to assurance. But what is it, and where is it to be found?

Ernest Becker, several decades ago, wrote a very challenging book called The Denial of Death. He shows how society works to create hero-systems and elaborate ways of suppressing or avoiding the reality of death. As Woody Allen once said, “It’s not that I’m afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” Yet here is where the Christian faith speaks clearly to the human dilemma. In his first letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul writes, “As in Adam, all die.” There are no exceptions, no escape routes, and no exits. It is as inclusive as it gets. Death is the great leveler. It respects everyone.

However, the apostle does not stop here; he goes on to say that “so in Christ will all be made alive.” This is the great distinction. Death occurs on a hundred percent scale. Our link to Adam is inviolable; we are all descendents, and inheritors of all that this implies. Like those infected with a deadly virus, the issue is not morality or effort. We need a solution, an antidote, an answer beyond us.  What Christ embodies is an answer that is a transfer.

What do I mean? As long as we are located “in Adam,” which means our natural state and line of descent, we are subject to the outworking of the brokenness, damage, and suffering that is now a part of the human condition. The invitation to a deeper humanity is the move to be “in Christ.” What does this mean? Several things. It means trusting the risen, human, incarnate Son to provide what we cannot provide for ourselves—namely, healing and help. It means surrendering our failings and seeking his face. It means receiving a new kind of life within and without, by means of the gift of the Holy Spirit (cf. John 1:4).

These two great antagonists, life and death, are powerful indicators in the human story. As I watch aging, decaying people, I recognize something sad and good at the same time. Death is unyielding, but the grave is not the end. With Christ, we pass through death to the resurrection. Joni Erickson Tada brought this home to me some years ago as she spoke from her wheel chair, testifying of a love for Jesus and her great expectations as a believer, despite her very real suffering and restrictions as a paraplegic. She announced to us all that when she sees Jesus face to face, she will dance. I believe it. This is resurrection hope and a sure foundation. There are many unseen but real threats, but there are also unseen but real promises, and he who makes them says, “Behold, I make all things new.”

Stuart McAllister is regional director for the Americas at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

Alistair Begg  – A Spiritual Spring

Alistair Begg

The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.

Song of Songs 2:12

The season of spring is welcome in its freshness. The long and dreary winter helps us to appreciate spring’s genial warmth, and its promise of summer enhances its present delights. After periods of spiritual depression, it is delightful to see again the light of the Sun of Righteousness. Our slumbering graces rise from their lethargy, like the crocus and the daffodil from their beds of earth; and our heart is made glad with delicious notes of gratitude, far more tuneful than the warbling of birds. The comforting assurance of peace, which is infinitely more delightful than the turtledove’s cooing, is heard within the soul.

This is the time for the soul to seek communion with her Beloved; now she must rise from her natural sordidness and come away from her old associations. If we do not hoist the sail when the breeze is favorable, we make a grave mistake: Times of refreshing should never be allowed to pass us by. When Jesus Himself visits us in tenderness and entreats us to arise, can we be so ungrateful as to refuse His request? He has risen so that He may draw us after Him. He, by His Holy Spirit, has revived us so that we may in newness of life ascend to the heavenlies and enjoy fellowship with Him. We bid farewell to the coldness and indifference of a spiritual winter when the Lord creates a spring within. Then our sap flows with vigor, and our branches blossom with high resolve.

O Lord, if it is not springtime in my chilly heart, I pray You make it so, for I am tired of living at a distance from You. When will You bring this long and dreary winter to an end? Come, Holy Spirit, and renew my soul! Quicken me, restore me, and have mercy on me! This very night I earnestly implore you, Lord, to take pity upon Your servant and send me a happy revival of spiritual life!

Devotional material is taken from “Morning and Evening,” written by C.H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg. Copyright © 2003, Good News Publishers and used by Truth For Life with written permission.

The family reading plan for  April 24, 2014 Ecclesiastes 11 | Titus 3

Charles Spurgeon – A vision of the latter day glories

CharlesSpurgeon

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.” Isaiah 2:2 & Micah 4:1

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-15

I am looking for the advent of Christ; it is this that cheers me in the battle of life—the battle and cause of Christ. I look for Christ to come, somewhat as John Bunyan described the battle of Captain Credence with Diabolus. The inhabitants of the town of Mansoul fought hard to protect their city from the prince of darkness, and at last a pitched battle was fought outside the walls. The captains and the brave men of arms fought all day till their swords were knitted to their hands with blood; many and many a weary hour did they seek to drive back the Diabolonians. The battle seemed to waver in the balance; sometimes victory was on the side of faith, and then, triumph seemed to hover over the crest of the prince of hell; but just as the sun was setting, trumpets were heard in the distance; Prince Emmanuel was coming, with trumpets sounding, and with banners flying; and while the men of Mansoul pressed onward sword in hand, Emmanuel attacked their foes in the rear, and getting the enemy between them both, they went on, driving their enemies at the sword’s point, till at last, trampling over their dead bodies, they met, and hand to hand the victorious church saluted its victorious Lord. Even so must it be. We must fight on day by day and hour by hour; and when we think the battle is almost decided against us, we shall hear the trump of the archangel, and the voice of God, and he shall come, the Prince of the kings of the earth; at his name, with terror shall they melt, and like snow driven before the wind from the bare side of a mountain shall they fly away; and we, the church militant, trampling over them, shall salute our Lord, shouting, “Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”

For meditation: The Lord’s second coming is an encouragement for us to hold fast to what we have (Revelation 2:25; 3:11). “Hold the fort, for I am coming!”

Sermon no. 249

24 April (1859)

 

John MacArthur – Christ Is Our Peace

John MacArthur

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9).

After World War II the United Nations was created to promote world peace. But since its inception in 1945 there has not been a single day of global peace. That’s a sad commentary on man’s inability to make peace. In fact, someone once quipped that Washington D.C. has so many peace monuments because they build one after every war!

It hasn’t always been that way. Prior to the Fall of man peace reigned on the earth because all creation was in perfect harmony with its Creator. But sin interrupted peace by alienating man from God and bringing a curse upon the earth. Man couldn’t know true peace because he had no peace in his heart. That’s why Jesus came to die.

I once read a story about a couple at a divorce hearing whose conflict couldn’t be resolved. They had a four-year-old boy who became distressed and teary-eyed over what was happening. While the couple was arguing, the boy reached for his father’s hand and his mother’s hand and pulled until he joined them.

In a sense that’s what Christ did: He provided the righteousness that allows man and God to join hands. Romans 5:1 says that those who are justified by faith have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Colossians 1:20 says that God reconciled all things to Himself through the blood of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

Yet on the surface, the scene at the cross wasn’t peaceful at all. Pain, sorrow, humiliation, hatred, mockery, darkness, and death were oppressively pervasive, but through it all Christ was doing what He alone could do: making peace between man and God. He paid the supreme price to give us that precious gift.

In the future, Jesus will return as Prince of Peace to establish a kingdom of peace that will usher us into an eternal age of peace. In the meantime He reigns over the hearts of all who love Him. Let His peace reign in your heart today!

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for the peace of heart that comes from knowing Christ.

For Further Study: Read Philippians 4:6-9. What must a person do to know God’s peace?

Joyce Meyer – He Increases Your Strength

Joyce meyer

He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might He increases strength [causing it to multiply and making it to abound].—Isaiah 40:29

I remember times when I would minister to a very long prayer line, and I could feel myself just starting to cave in physically and even mentally. I would stop for a second and inside I would say, “Lord, I need help here—I need You to refresh me.” And as the Scripture promises, He increased my strength, causing it to multiply and abound. If you are sitting at your desk or cleaning your house, if you have worked all day then need to go home and cut the grass or change the oil in the car, the Lord can refresh you.

Lean back for a minute and let Him give you that power. Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, does not faint or grow weary; there is no searching of His understanding. He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might He increases strength [causing it to multiply and making it to abound] (Isaiah 40:28-29).

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Poor, Blind and Naked

dr_bright

“You say, ‘I am rich, with everything I want; I don’t need a thing!” And you don’t realize that spiritually you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (Revelation 3:17).

George had come for a week of lay training at Arrowhead Springs. Following one of my messages on revival, in which I explained that most Christians are like the members of the church at Ephesus and Laodicea, as described in Revelation 2 and 3, he came to share with me how, though he was definitely lukewarm and had lost his first love, he frankly had never read those passages, had never heard a sermon such as I had presented and therefore did not realize how wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked he was.

If there were such an instrument as a “faith thermometer,” at what level would your faithfulness register? Hot? Lukewarm? Cold?

Jesus said to the church at Laodicea, “I know you well – you are neither hot nor cold; I wish you were one or the other! But since you are merely lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth!” (Revelation 3:15).

Again, I ask you, where does your faithfulness register on that faith thermometer?

The greatest tragedy in the history of nations is happening right here in America. Here we are, a nation founded by Christians, a nation founded upon godly principles, a nation blessed beyond all the nations of history for the purpose of doing God’s will in the world. But most people in this country, including the majority of church members, have without realizing it become materialistic and humanistic, all too often worshiping man and his achievements instead of the only true God.

Granted, the opinion polls show meteoric growth in the number of people in America who claim to be born-again Christians. But where does their faith register on the faith thermometer? America is a modern-day Laodicea. We are where we are today because too many Christians have quenched the Holy Spirit in their lives.

Bible Reading: Revelation 3:14-19

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Realizing that America cannot become spiritually renewed without individual revival, I will humble myself, and pray, and seek God’s face, and turn from my wicked ways. By faith I will claim revival in my own heart.

Presidential Prayer Team; J.K. – Slowly and Deliberately

ppt_seal01

The Mount of Olives – it was there Jesus and the disciples spent time in quiet and peace away from the crowds. It was where He agonized in prayer before being betrayed by Judas. And now, in that same place with their eyes fixed upon Jesus, the disciples received final instructions from their resurrected Savior.

This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.

Acts 1:11

As He blessed them (Luke 24:50), He was lifted up into the heavens. Not in a whirlwind and chariot of fire as Elijah (II Kings 2:11), but slowly and deliberately. The disciples had time to realize that their Teacher had come in bodily form to put away sin through the sacrifice of Himself. Now He was ascending into Heaven to sit at the right hand of God. Someday, He will come again in the same manner, bodily and visibly. In joy, the disciples worshipped their Lord and preached the message of salvation everywhere (Mark 16:20).

It is true – Christ will return! In the meantime, pray for those who have yet to believe. Intercede for this nation and its leaders that they may know the Savior…for they shall see Him when He comes again.

Recommended Reading: I Thessalonians 4:13-18

Greg Laurie – Four Things We Should Know   

greglaurie

He has planted eternity in the human heart. —Ecclesiastes 3:11

There are four things we should know about every person on earth. No matter how successful or unsuccessful they are, how famous or obscure they are, or how attractive or unattractive they may be, everyone shares these four traits.

One, there is an essential emptiness in every person who hasn’t yet come to Christ. Everyone is essentially empty. No matter how much money or prestige someone has, he or she has to deal with that emptiness. Scripture says that God made His creation subject to vanity, or emptiness, meaning there is a void, a hole if you will, inside every man, woman, and child.

Two, people are lonely. We can assume there is a sense of loneliness in every individual. Albert Einstein once wrote, “It is strange to be known so universally and yet to be so lonely.” People are lonely. We need to know that.

Three, people have a sense of guilt. They may try to mask it with alcohol or have a psychologist or psychiatrist tell them it is not there. But they have to deal with their guilt over the things they have done wrong. The head of a mental institution in London said, “I could release half of my patients if I could find a way to relieve them of their sense of guilt.”

Four, people are afraid to die. Some may strut around and say, “Not me. I’m not afraid to die.” But they are.

So don’t be so intimidated by the facades that people hide behind and assume they don’t want to hear what you have to say about your faith in Christ. Remember, you used to be one of those people. I used to be one of those people. We responded to the gospel. And so will they.

Today’s devotional is an excerpt from Every Day with Jesus by Greg Laurie, 2013