Tag Archives: Prayer

Charles Spurgeon – Consolation in Christ

CharlesSpurgeon

“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies.” Philippians 2:1

Suggested Further Reading: John 16:7-15

The Holy Spirit, during the present dispensation, is revealed to us as the Comforter. It is the Spirit’s business to console and cheer the hearts of God’s people. He does convince of sin; he does illuminate and instruct; but still the main part of his business lies in making glad the hearts of the renewed, in confirming the weak, and lifting up all those that be bowed down. Whatever the Holy Spirit may not be, he is evermore the Comforter to the church; and this age is peculiarly the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, in which Christ cheers us not by his personal presence, as he shall do by-and-by, but by the indwelling and constant abiding of the Holy Spirit the Comforter. Now, mark you, as the Holy Spirit is the Comforter, Christ is the comfort. The Holy Spirit consoles, but Christ is the consolation. If I may use the figure, the Holy Spirit is the Physician, but Christ is the medicine. He heals the wound, but it is by applying the holy ointment of Christ’s name and grace. He takes not of his own things, but of the things of Christ. We are not consoled today by new revelations, but by the old revelation explained, enforced, and lit up with new splendour by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit the Comforter. If we give to the Holy Spirit the Greek name of Paraclete, as we sometimes do, then our heart confers on our blessed Lord Jesus the title of the Paraclesis. If the one be the Comforter, the other is the comfort.

For meditation: Many of the errors taught about God the Holy Spirit would come to nothing if God’s people understood the Scriptural teaching on the relationships between the three persons of the Trinity. May the Holy Spirit help us to grow in the knowledge of the only true God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent (John 17:3).

Sermon no. 348

3 December (Preached 2 December 1860)

 

John MacArthur – Penetrating the Box

John MacArthur

“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son” (Heb. 1:1-2).

Since the beginning of time, man has deceived himself by thinking he can discover God through various religions. But in reality, man lives in a box enclosed within the walls of time and space. God is outside the box, and man senses He’s there but can’t get to Him. Each new religion is but another futile attempt to penetrate the walls of the box and catch a glimpse of God.

Man’s only hope is for God to enter the box, which Hebrews 1:1-2 declares He did: first by letter (the Old Testament), then in person (in Jesus Christ). Regarding God’s Word David said, “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue” (2 Sam. 23:2). Jeremiah added, “The Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me, ‘Behold, I have put My words in your mouth'” (Jer. 1:9). Of Christ, the apostle John said, “The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . . No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (John 1:14, 18).

The irony of people thinking they can discover God on their own is that apart from the Holy Spirit’s leading, no one really wants to find Him. They merely want to add a cosmic good luck charm to their lives or satiate their guilty consciences. Paul said, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God” (Rom. 3:10-11, emphasis added).

God could have left us in our sin and ignorance, but He penetrated the box and revealed everything we need to know for redemption and fellowship with Him. What a privilege we have to study His Word and live by its principles! Be diligent to do so each day.

Suggestion for Prayer:

Praise God for granting you the ability to appreciate His Word.

For Further Study:

Read 1 Corinthians 2:6-16, noting how natural (unregenerate) people respond to divine revelation.

 

 

Joyce Meyer – Don’t Leave God Out of the Loop

Joyce meyer

I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust!

—Psalm 91:2

When we are frustrated, it is often because we are trying to do something in our own strength, instead of putting our faith in God and receiving His grace and help. Let us learn to pray for what we would like to be changed, and then cast our care on God. If He leads you to take some kind of action, then do it; but if He doesn’t, then wait with peace.

I had to practice trusting God for a lot of things, but particularly finances. At one point in the beginning of my ministry, God asked me to trust Him to provide for my family financially without my working outside the home. I knew that I needed time to prepare for the ministry He had called me to. And working full-time in addition to being a wife and mother to three small children didn’t leave much time to prepare to be an international Bible teacher.

As an act of faith, and with my husband’s consent, I quit my job and began learning to trust God to provide for us. Dave had a good job, but his salary was forty dollars a month less than our bills. This meant we had to have a miracle from God every month.

I remember what a struggle it was to not go back to work—after all, I was a responsible woman and wanted to do my part. But I knew that God was asking me to keep preparing for the ministry He was calling me to and to trust Him for provision. Each month, He provided for our financial needs, and seeing His faithfulness was exciting, but I was accustomed to taking care of myself—all this “walking by faith” was crucifying my flesh big time.

Trusting God for the forty dollars a month we needed to pay our bills and for anything extra we needed was often difficult, but it helped us gain a strong foundation of faith that has helped us throughout our lives. I strongly encourage you to obey God and trust Him in every area of life. Each victory you have will increase your faith for the next challenge you face.

Trust in Him: Little faith can become great faith when we see the faithfulness of God as He meets our needs. You can become a person who enjoys great peace by trusting God.

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Recipe for Growth

dr_bright

“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2, KJV).

Sam was very impatient with himself. Though he was a new Christian, he could not understand why he was not as spiritual as some of the other students who had walked with the Lord for several years.

I explained to him the Christian life, like physical life, involves a process of growth. A person begins as a baby and goes through various stages of childhood, adolescence and young adulthood to reach Christian maturity. Very few, if any, Christians, I explained to him, become spiritually mature overnight.

Lane Adams, a beloved colleague, gifted teacher, preacher and author, said, “I shrink inside when I think of the times I have mounted the pulpit, recited the conversion experience of the apostle Paul, and then indicated that he went out and turned the world upside down for Jesus Christ immediately.”

He continued, “This simply was not the case. There is a difference of opinion among scholars concerning New Testament dating, but it seems rather plain that many years went by before the Holy Spirit laid the dramatic burden on Paul as a missionary of the cross.”

If you strongly desire to serve the Lord in some particular way, such as teaching, ask the Holy Spirit in faith to empower you to become an effective teacher. Now, it may be that the Holy Spirit will see fit to make you a great teacher overnight, but this is most unlikely. So if it does not happen, do not be discouraged. Have faith!

Continue to ask and believe that the Holy Spirit will make you an effective teacher of the Word of God and be willing to work hardand long to develop your natural ability. The Bible reminds us that “faith without works is useless.”

If we are unique members of the Body of Christ, and we are, if we possess special tasks to accomplish, and we do, then the Holy Spirit will empower us to carry out those tasks. God does indeed have a plan for each of our lives. And He gives us the direction and power of His Holy Spirit to accomplish that plan as we continue to trust and obey Him.

Bible Reading: 2 Peter 3:14-18

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Recognizing that I am in the process of maturing spiritually, I shall seek to accelerate my spiritual growth by hiding the Word of God in my heart, spending time in prayer, walking in the Spirit and sharing my faith in Christ with others as a way of life.

 

Presidential Prayer Team; J.K.- Called to Give

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In the first days of the early church, there was an emergency in the Christian community, and Stephen, “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit,” was called to be one of seven to direct assistance for the needy (Acts 6:2-6). It was an unexpected task that Stephen readily accepted. His willingness gave the apostles time to pray and preach, as God had called them to do, so that the church of believers would grow…both in number and in spiritual maturity.

The word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly.

Acts 6:7

Growing in faith happens as the Holy Spirit communicates God’s truth through Scripture. As Bible commentator Lawrence Richards writes, “The Word of God is a living and active power, a timeless moment at which, in our own time and space, we can meet the living God personally…It is content, giving shape and form to reality, and it is confrontation, the moment of meeting God that calls for our personal response of faith.”

The only gift that counts this Christmas is one you are called to give – God’s truth and saving grace through His Word and your Savior. Pray for this nation, that its people will see His love for them through you…and accept Him.

Recommended Reading: II Corinthians 5:14-21

 

Greg Laurie – The Message of Christmas

greglaurie

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. —John 3:16

When I was a kid, I always wanted a family but never had one. I remember one Christmas with my mom when we were living in a hotel. I got up on Christmas morning, excited about opening my presents, but she was passed out from a night of drinking. I looked around and thought, It has got to get better than this.

I believed that Christmas spoke of something greater. What Christmas really speaks of is what we can have in a relationship with Jesus Christ. The primary message of Christmas is that God came to us: ” ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us’ ” (Matthew 1:23).

The message of Christmas is not “Let it snow”; it is “Let us worship” because God is with us. The first Christmas gifts were not from the wise men to the Child. Rather, the first gift of Christmas was the gift of Jesus Christ from God to us: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

The message of Christmas means this: You will never be alone in life again. Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23). That is an amazing statement. God the Father and God the Son are saying they want to make their home with you and me.

Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). That is a promise to all people. Why? Because of Immanuel—God is with us.

 

Max Lucado – Your Share of Sighing

Max Lucado

No doubt you’ve done your share of sighing. If you have teenagers, you’ve sighed. If you’ve had your motives questioned or your best acts of love rejected, you’ve been forced to take a deep breath and let escape a painful sigh!

I realize there’s a sigh of relief, a sigh of expectancy, even a sigh of joy.  The apostle Paul spoke of this sighing. He said that Christians will sigh as long as we’re on earth and long for heaven. All these sighs come from the same anxiety; a recognition of pain never intended, or of hope deferred. Man was not created to be separated from his creator; hence he sighs, longing for home.

And God sighs, he groans for his people. He groans for the day when all sighs will cease, when what was intended to be—will be!

From God Came Near

Our Daily Bread — Integrity League

Our Daily Bread

Psalm 26

He who walks with integrity walks securely. —Proverbs 10:9

We call it the Integrity League, but it’s really just a bunch of guys who get together at lunchtime to play basketball. We call fouls on ourselves, attempt to avoid angry outbursts, and simply try to keep everything fair and enjoyable. We are competitive and we don’t like to lose—but we all agree that integrity and honesty should control the atmosphere.

Integrity. Scripture clearly indicates the importance of this trait. And we honor the God of our lives when we practice it.

Through His Word, God has given us clear reasons to “walk in . . . integrity” (Ps. 26:11). A person who has integrity has the security of a quiet life unknown to the one who “perverts his ways” (Prov. 10:9). The follower of God who lives with integrity is preserved by his confidence in God, for that person waits for God’s intervention in his life instead of running ahead of Him (Ps. 25:21). And the one who practices integrity will be given guidance and clear direction (Prov. 11:3).

Why should we care about life’s “Integrity League”? Because obeying God this way shows that we trust Him with our lives and that we want to shine His great love on others. —Dave Branon

Dear Father, help my word be true. Help my

actions be honest. Help my life to

reflect Your holiness and shine God’s light

for all to see. Help me to live with integrity.

Integrity is Christlike character in workclothes.

Bible in a year: Ezekiel 42-44; 1 John 1

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Enough

Ravi Z

Black Friday is the name Americans have given the day after Thanksgiving, though the concept is catching on in Canada and Europe. It is called “black” because store-keepers know it as the time of year when sales move further into the black and farther into profit margins. Cyber Monday is a clever addition to the frenzied consumer holiday, luring black Friday shoppers and their less adventurous counterparts to continue their purchasing online. Evoking both buyer and seller competition, steep sales and loud advertisements make for frenzied scenes and the need for stamina. Those who watch as bystanders still sense the fervor that begins on Black Friday and continues in a hectic race until Christmas. When everyone around you seems to be running, standing still is easier said than done.

Each year the commencement of the Christmas shopping season overshadows the commencement of a far quieter season. The season of Advent signals the coming of Christmas for Christians, though not in the way that Black Friday signals the coming of the same. “Advent is about the spirituality of emptiness,” writes Joan Chittister, “of enough-ness, of stripped-down fullness of soul.” It is a far cry from the hustle of the holidays that is a race for storing things up. Speed-hoarding through the days of Christmas preparation, Christmas itself even becomes somewhat anticlimactic. “Long before December 25th everyone is worn out,” said C.S. Lewis more than 50 years ago, “—physically worn out by weeks of daily struggle in overcrowded shops, mentally worn out by the effort to remember all the right recipients and to think out suitable gifts for them. They are in no trim for merry-making… They look far more as if there had been a long illness in the house.”(1) Quite the opposite, Advent is a season meant to slow us down, to open windows of awareness and health, to trigger consciousness. It is about finding the kind of quiet mystery and the sort of expectant emptiness that can offer a place for the fullness of God as an infant among us.

Of course, for even the quietest of hearts, this God who becomes human, the incarnate Christ, is still a mystery. But mystery, like beauty and truth, is well worth stillness, wonder, and contemplation. And this mystery—the gift of a God who steps into the world he created—is rich enough to make the most distracted souls bow. “Let anyone with ears listen!” said Jesus repeatedly throughout his life on earth. “But to what will I compare this generation?” he added. “It is like children sitting in the market-places and calling to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn’” (Matthew 11:15-17). You and I can open our minds to hear the great and unsearchable things we do not know, things like the Incarnation that we may never fully understand but are always invited to know further. Or we can simply look and act for all of Christmas to correspond with societal whims and unconscious distractions—fighting to be heard in the cultural debates about what we call or don’t call the season, arguing about public billboards and private mangers.

Christ will come regardless. The hope of Advent is that it is always possible to make room for him. I’m reminded of Etty Hillesum, a young Jewish woman who composed a remarkable series of journals in the darkest years of Nazi occupation before being sent to Auschwitz, where she died in 1943. In one of her entries, Etty wrote, “[S]ometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths, or the turning inwards in prayer for five short minutes.”(2) Advent can be this simple; the invitation of Christ is this simple. Let anyone with ears open them. Contemplating Christmas need not mean defensive words, Christmas wars, lists and budgets, endless labor, and fretful commotion.

Advent, after all, is about the riches of being empty-handed and that is an abruptly countercultural posture; empty-handed, so that we can fully hold the mystery before us and nothing less; empty-handed, like the God who came down from heaven without riches or power, but meek and small—full, expectant, and enough.

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

(1) Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life: The Diaries 1941-1943 (New York: Henry Holt & Company, 1983), 93.

(2) C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001), 305.

 

Alistair Begg – A Beautiful Bride

Alistair Begg

You are altogether beautiful, my love.

Song of Songs 4:7

The Lord’s admiration for His Church is very wonderful, and His description of her beauty is very glowing. She is not merely beautiful, but “altogether beautiful.” He views her in Himself, washed in His sin-atoning blood and clothed in His meritorious righteousness, and He considers her to be full of attraction and beauty. No wonder that this is the case, since it is simply His own perfect excellency that He admires; for the holiness, glory, and perfection of His Church are His own glorious garments worn by His well-beloved spouse.

She is not simply pure or well-proportioned; she is positively lovely and fair! She has actual merit! Her deformities of sin are removed; but more, she has through her Lord obtained a meritorious righteousness by which an actual beauty is conferred upon her.

Believers have a positive righteousness given to them when “he chose us in him” (Eph. 1:4). Nor is the church barely lovely-she is superlatively so. Her Lord styles her “most beautiful among women.”1 She has a real worth and excellence that cannot be rivaled by all the nobility and royalty of the world.

If Jesus could exchange His elect bride for all the queens and empresses of earth, or even for the angels in heaven, He would not, for He puts her first and foremost! Like the moon she far outshines the stars. Nor is this an opinion that He is ashamed of, for He invites all men to hear it. He sets a “behold” before it, a special note of exclamation, inviting and arresting attention. “Behold, you are beautiful, my love, behold, you are beautiful!” (Song of Sol. 4:1). He publishes His opinion widely even now, and one day from the throne of His glory He will declare the truth of it before the assembled universe. “Come, you who are blessed by my Father” (Matt. 25:34) will be His solemn affirmation of the loveliness of His elect.

1 Song of Solomon 1:8

 

Charles Spurgeon – Christ our passover

CharlesSpurgeon

“For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.” 1 Corinthians 5:7

Suggested Further Reading: John 6:25-35

Some of you, my friends, who are true Christians, live too much on your changing feelings, on your experiences and evidences. Now, that is all wrong. That is just as if a worshipper had gone to the tabernacle and begun eating one of the coats that were worn by the priest. When a man lives on Christ’s righteousness, it is the same as eating Christ’s dress. When a man lives on his feelings, that is as much as if the child of God should live on some tokens that he received in the sanctuary that were never meant for food, but only to comfort him a little. What the Christian lives on is not Christ’s righteousness, but Christ; he does not live on Christ’s pardon, but on Christ; and on Christ he lives daily, on nearness to Christ. Oh! I do love Christ-preaching. It is not the doctrine of justification that does my heart good, it is Christ, the justifier; it is not pardon that so much makes the Christian’s heart rejoice, it is Christ the pardoner; it is not election that I love half so much as my being chosen in Christ before the worlds began; it is not final perseverance that I love so much as the thought that in Christ my life is hid, and that since he gives unto his sheep eternal life, they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of his hand. Take care, Christian, to eat the Paschal Lamb and nothing else. I tell thee man, if thou eatest that alone, it will be like bread to thee—thy soul’s best food. If thou livest on anything else but the Saviour, thou art like one who seeks to live on some weed that grows in the desert, instead of eating the manna that comes down from heaven. Jesus is the manna.

For meditation: This communion sermon reminds us that if we sideline Christ in our Christianity, we are left with little more than an inanity—the best of what remains, even the Lord’s Supper or the doctrines of grace, will be empty if in them we fail to “remember Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:8).

Sermon no. 54

2 December (1855)

 

John MacArthur – Jesus: Our Great High Priest

John MacArthur

“The point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Heb. 8:1).

Access to God was always a problem for the Jewish people. Exodus 33:20 declares that no man can see God and live. Once each year, on the great Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the Jewish high priest entered into the Holy of Holies, where God’s presence dwelt in a unique sense, to approach God on behalf of the people.

God’s covenant with Israel was the basis for their communion with Him. And the sacrificial system that accompanied the Old Covenant gave the people an outward act to represent their inner repentance. But their sacrifices were incessant because their sin was incessant. They needed a perfect priest and sacrifice to provide access to God permanently. That’s exactly what Jesus was and did.

Hebrews 10 says that Jesus offered His body as a sacrifice for mankind’s sins once for all, then sat down at the right hand of the Father (vv. 10, 12). That was a revolutionary concept to Jewish thinking. A priest on duty could never sit down because his work was never done. But Jesus introduced a new and wonderful element into the sacrificial system: one sacrifice, offered once, sufficient for all time. That was the basis of the New Covenant.

Our Lord’s priesthood is permanent and perpetual: “Because He abides forever, [He] holds His priesthood permanently. Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:24-25). That’s the central message of the book of Hebrews.

It wasn’t easy for the Jewish people to accept the need for a new covenant. Most rejected Christ outright. Similarly, many people today reject His priesthood, supposing they can gain access to God on their own terms. But they’re tragically mistaken. Jesus Himself said, “No one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6).

Suggestion for Prayer:

Praise God for receiving you into His presence through His Son, Jesus Christ.

For Further Study:

Read Hebrews 10:19-25, noting how God wants you to respond to Christ’s priesthood.

 

 

Joyce Meyer – Use Your Words to Heal

Joyce meyer

There are those who speak rashly, like the piercing of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

—Proverbs 12:18

Words have a tremendous impact on all of our lives. I know people who have lived lives of crippling insecurity because their parents spoke words of judgement, criticism and failure to them on a regular basis. These people can be healed only by receiving God’s unconditional love. They have been wounded in their souls (their inner selves, their mind, will and emotions), a place to which only God has total access. Isaiah 61:1 says that Jesus came to bind up and heal the brokenhearted. He is the lover of our souls and through Him we can be secure and successful.

However, once people are wounded by the words of others, it takes time to overcome the wrong image they have of themselves. That is why it is important that we learn to use our words for blessing, healing and building up and not for cursing, wounding and tearing down. Ephesians 4:29 says: “Let no foul or polluting language; nor evil word not unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it many be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it.”

Generally speaking, if we believe in people, they will make a huge effort to live up to our confidence in them. We learned this through dealing with employees in our ministry. We found that if we promoted someone we believed had potential, they would begin to act differently as soon as they were informed of their promotion. They work harder to become what we have told them we believe they can be.

Multitudes of people need someone to believe in them. They have been wounded by wrong words, but the right words can bring healing into their lives. You can change someone’s life today by encouraging them to be all they can be.

Love Others Today: Lord, show me someone who needs Your healing love and allow me to share it with them through my words.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Gives Richly

dr_bright

“Tell those who are rich not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone, but their pride and trust should be in the living God who always richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17).

Arthur S. DeMoss was a gifted and godly businessman. He had built one of the most successful businesses of its kind in America and in the process had amassed a huge fortune of an estimated half a billion dollars. Then suddenly an economic recession began and stock in his company plummeted. He lost $360 million in a period of only four months – an average of $3 million a day – more than anybody had ever lost in such a short time. One would have thought he would have been devastated. Instead, in order to avoid decreasing his Christian giving, he (personally) borrowed funds, at an incredibly high rate of interest, to enable him to increase his giving. As we talked together during that period, he was rejoicing in the Lord.

“The Lord gave me everything I have,” he said. “It all belongs to Him and if He wants to take it away that’s His business. I don’t lose any sleep. I still have a wonderful family and my life-style remains unchanged. I am prepared to do anything that God wants me to do. If He takes away everything I own and wants me to go to the mission field, I’m ready to do it. All He needs to do is tell me.”

Art had his trust completely in the Lord and not in his vast fortune. God honored his faith and obedience and ultimately restored all that he had lost and much more. Art has gone to be with the Lord, but his fortune is still being used for the glory of God.

Paul’s answer to the believers of his day is just as appropriate to the believers of our time. No person should be unduly impressed with his wealth and look down with pride and arrogance on those whom he considers to be inferior. Riches are uncertain because they can be taken away from us. In the personal emergencies of life one cannot depend upon material possessions for strength and comfort. In times of tragedy – the loss of a loved one, a financial reversal, or some other disappointment – material possessions do not insure peace. Our trust must be in the living God who is able to supply all of our needs and do for us what riches cannot do.

Bible Reading: 1 Timothy 6:6-16

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:> I will not take the blessing of God for granted and will not place my trust in any earthy possession. My confidence will be in Him who is the source of the supernatural life.

 

Presidential Prayer Team; J.R. – The Chosen One

ppt_seal01

For a decade, the NBC television show Unsolved Mysteries was a popular weekly broadcast, often featuring stories of adopted children in search of their birth parents or lost siblings. It was a common theme because, until relatively recently, most adoptions were “closed.” In other words, the circumstances surrounding the child’s birth and the identity of the birth family were concealed. Adoptive parents often were counseled by well-meaning professionals not to even disclose to children that they were adopted. It’s now recognized this is bad and harmful advice.

Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth.

James 1:18

You are adopted by Christ when you receive Him as your Savior—that’s what today’s verse means when it says “he brought us forth,” and it’s certainly nothing to hide! What a wonderful privilege to have been chosen by God. “Before I formed you in the womb,” He says, “I knew you.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

As you celebrate Christ this month, take some time to remember what you were before – and what you might have been now – had He not “brought you forth” of His own will. And be thankful for your many blessings…family, friends and this wonderful land of America…as you pray for the nation and its leaders today.

Recommended Reading: Deuteronomy 8:1-10

 

 

Greg Laurie – Christmas Is a Promise

greglaurie

“The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.” —Matthew 4:16

For those who have lost a loved one, as my family has, Christmas can be really difficult, especially because it is so filled with memories. So many of those memories are triggered. And when you see other people having fun, it can actually bring a lot of sadness to you. It can even bring you to the point where you would just like to skip Christmas altogether. Have you ever wanted to cancel Christmas? I have.

I am not saying that we should cancel the celebration of the birth of Christ, of course. I am not saying that we should unstring our lights and put away our presents. But let’s cancel the version of Christmas that has no place for God. Let’s cancel the version of Christmas that says, “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Let’s cancel the version of Christmas that consists of endless hype and activities without any thought of Jesus.

Let’s get back to what Christmas truly is: a celebration of the birth of Jesus. I like Christmas, actually. I think that at its very best, Christmas is a promise. At its best, Christmas is spending time with family and friends, enjoying holiday meals, laughing together, exchanging gifts, and worshiping together. I think all of these are a glimpse of things to come—because Christmas is really a promise of heaven, a promise of something better.

You might look around and say, “I wish my loved one who is with the Lord could see this.” You are looking at twinkling lights, but don’t you think what they are seeing is better than what you are seeing? You may be experiencing temporary joys, but your loved one is in the presence of God, seeing the Lord in all of His glory. Now that is a Christmas worth celebrating.

 

 

 

Max Lucado – God Revealed

Max Lucado

When God chose to reveal himself to mankind, what did He use?  A book?  A church?  A moral code?  No. To limit God’s revelation to a cold list of do’s and don’t’s is as tragic as looking at a Colorado roadmap and saying you’d seen the Rockies!

When God chose to reveal himself, he did so through a human body. The hand that touched the leper had dirt under its nails. And his tears—oh, don’t miss the tears—they came from a heart as broken as your or mine ever has been. People came to him.  Touched him.  Followed him. He refused to be a statue in a cathedral or a priest in an elevated pulpit.  He chose instead to be Jesus.

Remember that the next time you find yourself amazed at your own failures. It’s man who creates the distance. It’s Jesus who builds the bridge!

From God Came Near

 

Charles Stanley – Good News!

Charles Stanley

 In Mark 16:15, Jesus commanded His disciples to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” But what exactly is the gospel? Even believers can’t always give a clear definition for this word. Let’s take a closer look at what this biblical term means.

1. The gospel is good news.

The word for “gospel” in Greek originally meant “reward for doing good.” Eventually it came to mean “good news.”

  • How would you define the gospel in your own words?
  • Briefly summarize the gospel, according to 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.

2. The gospel also has some bad news.

In order for the gospel to be good news, each person must first realize that there was bad news. The problem is that without Christ, each of us is hopelessly headed for eternal separation from God.

  • The prophet Isaiah wrote that “all of us like sheep have gone astray” (Is. 53:6). What characteristics of sheep do you think Isaiah had in mind?
  • The price of sin is high. Romans 6:23 says that “the wages of sin is death.”  What do you think the apostle Paul meant by that phrase?
  • In what ways do people reap the “wages of sin”?

3. The gospel expresses God’s grace.

  • Thankfully Romans 6:23 doesn’t end with our wrongdoings. What does the rest of this verse say about eternal life?
  • Why is it important that salvation is by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9)?
  • What reasons do non-believers give to justify their acceptance into heaven?
  • Why aren’t these reasons sufficient (Rom. 3:21-28)?

4. The gospel is for everyone.

God desires that all people accept the free gift of eternal life (John 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:3-4).
How do people learn of God’s offer for eternal life? The Lord uses believers to share the gospel with others through relationships, local outreaches to the poor, missions support, or service abroad. Opportunities to spread the good news are limitless.

  • In what ways do you currently share the gospel?
  • Ask God what He would have you do to take the good news to others this week.

5. The gospel is unique.

In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” A popular idea today is that every road leads to God. By this, people mean all religions are equally valid paths to heaven. But Jesus boldly proclaimed that He is the only way to the Father.

  • Why do you think people prefer to believe there are more than one path to God, when the way of the cross is so simple?

Closing: The Father, in His infinite wisdom, has only one requirement for salvation—that we place faith in His Son. In terms of eternal life, it makes no difference how virtuous or sinful a person has been. Humanity’s helpless, hopeless condition has only one answer: trusting in Jesus Christ and His atoning death on the cross.

Prayer: Father, thank You for sending Your Son to die so that I could be forgiven of all my sins. Please empower me to share this good news with my family, neighbors, and friends, both near and far. I surrender my will to be used by You, and I look forward to the work You will accomplish through me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Adapted from The Power of the Gospel, by Charles Stanley. 2003.

 

Related Resources

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The Reason For Our Boldness

Once we become Christians, we have a responsibility to share the truth of salvation with others. But oftentimes, we are not bold in sharing our faith because we have questions and doubts about exactly what the gospel is. (Watch The Reason For Our Boldness.)

 

 

Our Daily Bread — God Waiting

Our Daily Bread

John 14:1-6

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, . . . but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. —2 Peter 3:9

During the Christmas season we wait. We wait in traffic. We wait in checkout lines to purchase gifts. We wait for family to arrive. We wait to gather around a table filled with our favorite foods. We wait to open presents lovingly chosen.

All of this waiting can be a reminder to Christians that Christmas is a celebration of waiting for something much more important than holiday traditions. Like the ancient Israelites, we too are waiting for Jesus. Although He already came as the long-awaited Messiah, He has not yet come as ruler over all the earth. So today we wait for Christ’s second coming.

Christmas reminds us that God also waits . . . He waits for people to see His glory, to admit that they are lost without Him, to say yes to His love, to receive His forgiveness, to turn away from sin. While we wait for His second coming, He waits for repentance. What seems to us like God’s slowness in coming is instead His patience in waiting (2 Peter 3:9).

The Lord is waiting to have a relationship with those He loves. He made the first move when He came as baby Jesus and the sacrificial Lamb. Now He waits for us to welcome Him into our lives as Savior and Lord. —Julie Ackerman Link

God is waiting in the silence

As the world goes rushing by;

Will not someone stop and listen,

Answer quickly, “Here am I”?

—Oswald Smith © 1939 The Rodeheaver Company

God patiently keeps His promises.

Bible in a year: Ezekiel 40-41; 2 Peter 3

 

Alistair Begg – Winter in the Soul

Alistair Begg

You have made summer and winter.

Psalms 74:17

My soul, begin this wintry month with God. The cold snows and the piercing winds all remind you that He keeps His covenant with day and night and serve to assure you that He will also keep that glorious covenant that He has made with you in the person of Christ Jesus. He who is true to His Word in the revolutions of the seasons of this poor sin-polluted world will not prove unfaithful in His dealings with His own well-beloved Son.

Winter in the soul is by no means a comfortable season, and if it is upon you just now, it will be very painful to you: But there is this comfort, namely, that the Lord makes it. He sends the sharp blasts of adversity to nip the buds of expectation. He scatters the frozen dew like ashes over the once fresh green meadows of our joy. He dispenses His icy morsels, freezing the streams of our delight.

He does it all; He is the great Winter King and rules in the realms of frost, and therefore you cannot murmur. Losses, crosses, heaviness, sickness, poverty, and a thousand other ills are of the Lord’s sending and come to us with wise design. Frosts kill harmful insects and restrain raging diseases; they break up the clods and sweeten the soul. O that such good results would always follow our winters of affliction!

How we prize the fire just now! How pleasant is its cheerful glow! Let us in the same manner prize our Lord, who is the constant source of warmth and comfort in every time of trouble. Let us draw near to Him, and in Him find joy and peace in believing. Let us wrap ourselves in the warm garments of His promises, and keep working, unlike the lazy man who refuses to plow because it is too cold; in the summer he will have nothing and will be forced to beg for bread.