Tag Archives: religion

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Significant Present

 

All of Christian history turns on this one event. An empty tomb, abandoned burial wrappings and startled eyewitnesses heralded the reversal of all that was expected. A new day dawned and presented the reason, the impetus for the entire Christian movement. On its significance, the apostle Paul was clear: “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain” (1 Corinthians 15:13-14).

As Christians emerge from worship services around the world having looked back on the historical significance of the resurrection, and now looking forward to the promise of life after death for an eternal future, I wonder if there is a tendency to miss the significance of Easter present. Does anyone wonder what difference the resurrection of Jesus makes in lives here and now? For if the resurrection is only about life after death—going to heaven when we die—or if Christians are only celebrating something that happened long ago, there is the failure to do the necessary and creative work of what resurrection means for lives today. In addition, if the only significance of Easter is a spiritual metaphor for new life and re-birth, this message is just as easily told through colored eggs and rabbits.

For Christians to affirm the bodily resurrection of Jesus means, at the very least, that God had begun the work of new creation—what began in the bodily resurrection of Jesus—could now, and would now continue into the present time and place. Indeed, Paul writes in Romans 8 that “the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the children of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of the One who subjected it in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as children, the redemption of our body” (8:19-23). God’s new creation has begun with the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Now, our work in this world is the work of resurrection—bringing new life and re-creation as followers of Jesus. Followers of Jesus are entrusted with the task of raising dead people to life, helping the lost to find home, and healing those who are wounded and broken.

The risen Jesus told his followers, “As the Father has sent me, I also send you” (John 20:21). Jesus’s resurrection is not an evacuation strategy from this life nor is it the promise of a life free from trouble. Rather it commissions those who would remember his resurrection to be his ‘raising’ agents in the world. Jesus sends out his followers with the extraordinary news that the dead can be raised to new life for death and evil do not have the last word! And as we begin to live in light of the resurrection, we can gain insight into its significance for the practical realities of everyday lives even as we anticipate the world to come, of which the resurrection is a sign. As N.T. Wright has concluded: “Jesus is raised, so he is the Messiah, and therefore he is the world’s true Lord; Jesus is raised, so God’s new creation has begun…  Jesus is raised, so we must act as his heralds, announcing his lordship to the entire world, making his kingdom come on earth as in heaven.”(1)

Christians remember the Risen Lord and hope for a future of resurrected life. But in between the past remembrance and the future reality, everything has changed!

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

(1) N.T. Wright, Surprised By Hope (New York: Harper Collins, 2008), 56.

 

Alistair Begg – Slow to Speak

 

But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge. Matthew 27:14

Jesus had never been slow of speech when He could bless the sons of men, but He would not say a single word for Himself. “No man ever spoke like this man,” and no man was ever silent like Him. Was this singular silence the index of His perfect self-sacrifice? Did it show that He would not utter a word to prevent His crucifixion, which He had dedicated as an offering for us? Had He so entirely surrendered Himself that He would not interfere on His own behalf, even in the smallest details, but be crowned and killed an unstruggling, uncomplaining victim?

Was this silence a type of the defenselessness of sin? Nothing can be said to excuse human guilt; and, therefore, He who bore its whole weight stood speechless before His judge.

Patient silence is the best reply to a world of cruel opposition. Calm endurance answers some questions infinitely more conclusively than the loftiest eloquence. The best apologists for Christianity in the early days were its martyrs. The anvil breaks a host of hammers by quietly bearing their blows. Did not the silent Lamb of God furnish us with a grand example of wisdom? Where every word was occasion for new blasphemy, it was the line of duty to provide no fuel for the flame of sin. The ambiguous and the false, the unworthy and mean will soon enough confound themselves, and therefore the true can afford to be quiet and find silence to be its wisdom.

Evidently our Lord, by His silence, furnished a remarkable fulfillment of prophecy. A long defense of Himself would have been contrary to Isaiah’s prediction: “Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.” By His silence He declared Himself to be the true Lamb of God. As such we worship Him this morning. Be with us, Jesus, and in the silence of our heart let us hear the voice of Your love.

 

Charles Spurgeon – Joseph attacked by the archers

 

“The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel).” Genesis 49:23,24

Suggested Further Reading: Acts 4:1-12

“The stone which the builders refused is become the headstone of the corner.” It is said that when Solomon’s temple was being built, all the stones were brought from the quarry ready cut and fashioned, and there was marked on all the blocks the places where they were to be put. Amongst the stones was a very curious one; it seemed of no describable shape, it appeared unfit for any portion of the building. They tried it at this wall, but it would not fit; they tried it in another, but it could not be accommodated; so, vexed and angry, they threw it away. The temple was so many years building, that this stone became covered with moss, and grass grew around it. Everybody passing by laughed at the stone; they said Solomon was wise, and doubtless all the other stones were right; but as for that block, they might as well send it back to the quarry, for they were quite sure it was meant for nothing. Year after year rolled on, and the poor stone was still despised, the builders constantly refused it. The eventful day came when the temple was to be finished and opened, and the multitude was assembled to see the grand sight. The builders said, “Where is the top-stone? Where is the pinnacle?” they little thought where the crowning marble was, until some one said, “Perhaps that stone which the builders refused is meant to be the top-stone.” They then took it, and hoisted it to the top of the house; and as it reached the summit, they found it well adapted to the place. Loud hosannas made the heavens ring, as the stone which the builders refused became the headstone of the corner. So is it with Christ Jesus.

For meditation: To begin with, man saw to it that the first shall be last; in the end God saw to it that the last shall be first. Where do you place the Lord Jesus Christ?

Sermon no. 17

2 April (Preached 1 April 1855)

John MacArthur – Happiness Is . . .

 

“Blessed are the poor in spirit . . . those who mourn . . .the gentle . . . those who hunger and thirst for righteousness . . . the merciful . . . the pure in heart . . . the peacemakers . . . [and] those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness” (Matt. 5:3-10).

A quiz in a popular magazine characterized happy people as those who enjoy other people but aren’t self-sacrificing, who refuse to participate in negative feelings or emotions, and who have a sense of accomplishment based on their own self-sufficiency.

But Jesus described happy people quite differently. In fact, He characterized them as spiritual beggars who realize they have no resources in themselves. He said they are meek rather than proud, mournful over their sin, self- sacrificing, and willing to endure persecution to reconcile men to God.

By the world’s standards, that sounds more like misery than happiness! But the people of the world don’t understand that what is often thought of as misery is actually the key to happiness.

Follow the Lord’s progression of thought: true happiness begins with being poor in spirit (v. 3). That means you have a right attitude toward sin, and that leads you to mourn over it (v. 4). Mourning over sin produces a meekness that leads to hungering and thirsting for righteousness (vv. 5-6), which results in mercy, purity of heart, and a peaceable spirit (vv. 7-9)–attitudes that bring true happiness.

When you display those attitudes you can expect to be insulted, persecuted, and unjustly accused (vv. 10-11) because your life will be an irritating rebuke to worldly people. But despite the persecution, you can “rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great” (v. 12).

You are one of God’s lights in a sin-darkened world (v. 14), and while most people will reject Christ, others will be drawn to Him by the testimony of your life. Be faithful to Him today so He can use you that way.

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for the grace enabling you to have Beatitude attitudes.

Ask Him to make you a bright light in someone’s life today.

For Further Study: Read 1 Peter 2:19-23.

How did Jesus respond to persecution?

How should you respond?

Joyce Meyer – The Peaceful Mind

 

You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You. —Isaiah 26:3

What is it about nighttime that makes us more vulnerable to satanic attack? Is it because daylight is gone and it’s dark? Is there some kind of association between evil and the dark hours of night? We are usually able to cope with whatever happens to us during the day, but sometimes it’s a different story at night.

My theory is that by evening, most of us are tired and weary, and we just want to lie down, close our eyes, and drift into peaceful sleep. That is one of Satan’s favorite times to engage us in the battle for our minds. He knows that when we are exhausted and sleepy, we are not as resistant to his attacks. And just as we are about to drop off to sleep, he makes his move.

If we recognize that we’re more susceptible to the attack of the enemy at night, we can take steps to be better prepared to stand against him. Some of my friends tell me that they find it helps to meditate on scriptures such as Philippians 4:8, which tells us to think on good things—things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and excellent. Or they claim the promise of Isaiah 26:3: “You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You….” These words from the Bible enable us to remain vigilant even in the dark hours of night. By using the Word of God, we can defeat every onslaught of the enemy—even in our weakest hours.

But if we have not armed ourselves with the Word and spent some time in prayer, we will fall for Satan’s plan when he brings to mind some troublesome event of the day, and asks, “Why did you say that? How could you have been so insensitive?”

He takes advantage of us when he knows we are weak and the most vulnerable to his influence. His goal is to disturb our thoughts and rob us of the peaceful rest that our bodies need. One of his tricks is to cause us to focus on the problems of the day, suggesting that we must immediately—in the middle of the night—determine the best way to settle the issue.

I experienced nights like this years ago, and I didn’t always win the battle. But as a mature Christian, I now know how to fight the good fight of faith. Here’s one thing I figured out a long time ago: It is not wise to make decisions in the middle of the night. There may be times when God demands an immediate surrender, and those are powerful moments in our lives. But most decisions can wait until the next day.

Perhaps we spoke hastily or didn’t respond kindly to someone’s need. The issues are often little things that we probably could have handled better. But as Satan wages his battle in the dark of night, those little things seem to take on importance and urgency—so much so that we believe we will never sleep unless we settle the issue immediately.

When Satan tries to pull that nighttime trick on me, I’ve learned to say, “I’ll deal with this issue in the morning, when the sun is shining. After I’ve rested, I can cope.” I’ve also learned that I can say, “Lord, I surrender this to You. Give me Your rest, Your peace, and help me to make the right decision in the morning.” That works for me!

Holy Spirit, thank You for being with me, for protecting me, and for guiding my life. When I face those dark nights and the enemy tries to attack my mind, protect me. I trust You and ask You to keep me in Your perfect peace. Amen.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Clothed in Christ

 

“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves in Christ” (Galatians 3:27, NAS).

You may be surprised, as I was, at the result of our personal surveys having to do with church members and salvation.

Such surveys indicate that somewhere between 50 and 90% of all church members are not sure of their salvation. Like Martin Luther, John Wesley and many others who became mighty ambassadors for Christ, some spend many years “serving God” before they experience the assurance and reality of their salvation.

The pastor of a large fashionable church of 1,500 members once reacted negatively when I shared these statistics, doubting that such large percentages of church members lacked assurance of their salvation.

He decided personally to survey his own congregation at the church where he had served as senior pastor for 15 years. To his amazement and shock, more than 75% of the membership indicated they were not sure of their salvation.

The following Sunday, the pastor arranged for the Four Spiritual Laws booklet, which contains the distilled essence of the gospel, to be distributed to each member of the congregation.

For his sermon he read the contents of the booklet aloud, as the congregation followed him, reading from their own copies of the Four Laws. Then he invited all who wished to receive Christ as their Savior and Lord to read aloud with him the prayer contained in the booklet. Almost the entire congregation joined in the prayer audibly. As a result the church was changed, because changed individuals in sufficient numbers equal a changed church, a changed community and a changed nation.

Have you clothed yourself in Christ?

Bible Reading: Galatians 4:4-7

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will not take for granted that I have found faith in Christ simply because I belong to a church, nor will I assume that all church members have assurance of their salvation. I shall encourage all who are not sure to receive Christ and be clothed in His righteousness.

Presidential Prayer Team; J.K. – Team Player

 

Jesus had just healed a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute. People were amazed and wondered if Jesus was the Messiah. But the Pharisees refuted the possibility. They didn’t want to believe it and claimed that the miracle was done only by the help of Satan.

No city or house divided against itself will stand. Matthew 12:25

But think of this scenario. You are on a basketball team. You’ve got the ball and your team is headed to your end of the court to make a basket. Just when you are ready to take the ball and slam it into the basket, another team player turns and makes the shot in the opposing team’s basket. A team divided will not succeed in a win.

Had Jesus been doing work for Satan, He would have been playing against the “team.” So envious were the Pharisees that they would not apply the Messianic prophecies to the mighty works of Jesus. The Spirit of God enabled Christ, but they refused to believe.

Don’t live in unbelief, dear one. Jesus can work miracles today if you only ask. Intercede for the leaders of this nation that their hearts be miraculously transformed to do right. Pray, too, for members of Congress to learn how to play on the same team and not be divided.

Recommended Reading: Luke 11:17-23

 

Greg Laurie – An Unavoidable Subject

 

And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him—Hebrews 9:27–28

Jesus talked a lot about hell. In fact, He talked more about hell than any other preacher in the Bible. Therefore, we don’t want to steer clear of the subject. We want a biblical understanding of what the Bible says.

The apostle Paul concluded his message on Mars Hill with these words: “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:30–31).

Jesus talked about judgment. Paul talked about judgment. The apostles talked about judgment. The Bible talks about judgment. And we need to talk about it, too, and have a proper understanding of what it is all about.

Some would say that it isn’t loving to talk about these things. But I could not disagree more. I think it’s the most loving thing we could do.

Let’s say there was a house on fire with someone trapped inside. And let’s say for some reason, he didn’t know his house was on fire. Would it be a loving thing for me to run and kick down the door, grab him, and run out of the burning house with him? Of course it would.

On the other hand, would it be a loving thing for me to walk by and say, “Oh, that house is on fire! Very interesting. Let’s go”? That wouldn’t be loving at all.

If we really believe there is an afterlife—and more specifically—a final judgment, if we really believe we will be held accountable for things that we say and do, then it will affect the way that we live.

 

Max Lucado – Just for You

 

Behold the sun!  Every square yard of it is constantly emitting 130,000 horse power, the equivalent of 450 eight-cylinder car engines.  Consider the earth! Our globe’s weight is estimated at six sextillion tons—that’s a six with 21 zeros!  Yet it’s precisely tilted at twenty-three degrees or our seasons would be lost in a melted polar flood.

If God is able to place the stars in their sockets and suspend the sky like a curtain—do you think it remotely possible God is able to guide your life? Could it be He is mighty enough to light your path? Jesus said, “Look at the birds in the air.  They don’t plant or harvest or store into barns, but your heavenly Father feeds them.  Why do you worry about clothes?”  (Matthew 6:26).

Next time a sunrise steals your breath, say nothing and listen as heaven whispers, “Do you like it?  I did it just for you!”

Charles Stanley – When Worship Is Misplaced

 

Romans 1:21-24

God created us to worship Him. Since we are made for this purpose, we will worship something, even if we choose something other than the Creator. Our lives may be devoted to money, prominence, popularity, immorality, or some other desire or vice that can become a false god. But no matter how many earthly distractions we attempt to worship, none of them can satisfy like the living God—we will still be left with a horrible vacuum of unfulfillment.

In the first chapter of Romans, the apostle Paul illustrates this point in terms of one particular sin: sexual perversion. You may think you’re okay if that form of iniquity isn’t part of your life. But any sinful indulgences—whether actions or attitudes—that take precedence over worshipping the Lord are wrong and destructive. Until we allow Jesus to save us from our self-serving nature, we will spiral downward into depravity.

By acting as if the Lord isn’t real and excluding Him from our life, we miss out on the main point of our existence. By ignoring the fact that He wants a personal relationship and daily communion with us, we are rejecting His gracious gift and dishonoring Him. Without His influence, our thinking grows more and more futile, leading us to choose false substitutes as we try to fill the void only God can satisfy.

Denying Christ His rightful place as Lord of our life will ultimately unleash God’s wrath. But the Lord, in His great love for the whole world, does not want anyone to spend eternity without Him

(2 Peter 3:9). He therefore continues to offer us “the riches of His kindness, tolerance, and patience” in calling us to repentance.

Our Daily Bread Our Daily Bread — No Substitute Needed

 

Psalm 139:1-12

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? —Psalm 139:7

While I was visiting my son in San Diego, we decided to go to Shadow Mountain Church to hear Dr. David Jeremiah preach. Steve and I got up early on Sunday morning and took the hour-long drive to the church. But our anticipation turned to disappointment when we discovered that Dr. Jeremiah was not there that day. “Some other guy”—a substitute—was preaching.

A couple of weeks later, I was scheduled to preach at the church in Grand Rapids where my wife and I attend. As I stood in front of the congregation, I realized that now I was “some other guy” and they might be disappointed because they had come to hear our pastor—not me—speak.

While we find comfort in the familiarity of those we depend on in life, we have to recognize that at times they can be substituted. But the One we need most—the One on whom we depend for life itself—is always present (Ps. 139:7-8). When we desire to enter God’s presence in prayer, He is always there: “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice” (55:17).

Looking for God? He’s always right there. No substitute needed. —Dave Branon

Dear Lord, I am so thankful that You are always present.

I never need to make an appointment to speak to You,

the God of the universe. No matter where I go or what

time it is, I can depend on Your presence.

When you come to the Lord, there is no waiting line—His ears are always open to your cry.

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Implementing Easter

 

The dominating time-piece is nothing if not thought-provoking. British inventor John Taylor’s “Chronophage” (literally ‘time eater’ from the Greek chronos and phageo) keeps watch outside Cambridge’s Taylor Library of Corpus Christi College.(1) A foreboding metal grasshopper with an ominous chomping mouth appears to devour each minute with eerie pleasure and constancy. The toll of the hour is marked by the clanging of a chain into a tiny wooden coffin, which then slams shut—the sound of mortality, says Taylor.(2) The pendulum also speeds up sporadically, then slows to a near halt, only to race ahead again as if somehow calculating the notion that time sometimes flies, sometimes stands still. The invention, according to Taylor, is meant to challenge our tendency to view time itself as we might view a clock. “Clocks are boring. They just tell the time, and people treat them as boring objects,” he added. “This clock actually interacts with you”—indeed, striking viewers with the idea that time is nothing to take for granted.(3)

The Christian worldview is one that recognizes at the deepest level that something about humanity is not temporal. Easter, in fact, is the celebration that this is not just a suspicion, but a reality. Christians believe in eternal dwellings, a day when tears will be no more, and in one who is preparing a house of rooms and welcome.(4) And yet, we also very much live with the distinct experience of these promises within time. Christ is not merely the one who will be with us in all eternity, the one who will dry our eyes at time’s end. We believe he is also alive and among us today, welcoming a kingdom that is both present and approaching. “Remember, I am with you always,” ends one of account of the life of Jesus, “even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). For the Christian, all of time is filled with the hope of resurrection, even as it is filled with Christ himself.

Why then, I wonder, are there moments when time seems so oppressive, the hope of eternity a distant glimmer, and the presence of a resurrected Christ beside the daily pendulum an inapplicable promise? If the Christian life is about moving closer and closer to the glory of the resurrected Christ, why is there not more light and less darkness, a more vibrant Church and less grumbling, greater outreach and less greed, followers who look more like Jesus and less like the world around them? The expectation in the life of a Christian is that there will be a dramatic difference, or at least steady progression, of lives transformed by Christ. But instead we often find little difference—or we find the opposite of progression. Only last week I turned to a friend and asked with a sigh of weariness, “Where is transformation as all this time marches onward?”

John Taylor’s menacing grasshopper is an apt image for such a confession. Time marches on oppressively, unapologetically, while the promise of “being transformed into [Christ’s likeness] from one degree of glory to another” seems to remain a distant mirage.(5) Christians begin to doubt. Skeptics point out the obvious fantasy of faith. *But perhaps something in Taylor’s clock also challenges this fearful view of time and transformation. Time is indeed a linear progression, marching onward in precise increments, but our experience of time is far less like this. We are at times startled by its passing, other times painfully aware of its tedious movement. We interact with time knowing that some minutes are fuller than others, but that time is always more than a linear, monotonous experience.

Similarly, when I think of transformation, I often think of dramatic change: an acorn turned into an oak tree, the apostle Paul changed from zealous tormentor to zealous Christian, Lazarus moved from death to life. And I believe there is indeed something quite like this that takes place in the life of one willing to follow resurrected Christ—a creature who actually stops being one thing in order to become something else. It should not be surprising that around the world we find Christians in the most unlikely places, administering aid, speaking hope, exhibiting this change of which the gospel speaks. For clothed in Christ’s perfect nature, the nature of a person is truly changed. Though we stand before God imperfect and discouraged, it is the Son the Father now sees. And this part of Christian transformation is as dramatic as it is complete, allowing us—and the world—to stand assured of God’s work within.

But this is not to say that God is finished working. To the one who has been united with Christ, the daily indwelling of God is a gift! Within the Christian’s experience of time, the message of the gospel is all the more transformational, Christ is our moral influence daily, and through the Holy Spirit we are being further transformed into his image. This kind of transformation is neither the dramatic change often expected, nor the steady linear progression for which we might hope. Like Paul himself, we can find ourselves doing the things we don’t want to do, falling back into mindsets that need to be renewed, imitating a broken world more than we imitate Christ. Transformation at these times seems far less like Lazarus rising from the grave and more like a would-be butterfly refusing to come out of its cocoon.

But even here, Christ is surely near, the eternal urging the world of souls to see the potential in this very moment: “The intermediate hope—” writes N.T. Wright, “the things that happen in the present time to implement Easter and anticipate the final day—are always surprising because, left to ourselves, we lapse into a kind of collusion with entropy, acquiescing in the general belief that things may be getting worse but that there’s nothing much we can do about them. And we are wrong. Our task in the present… is to live as resurrection people in between Easter and the final day.”(6)

That is to say, Easter is being implemented. Whether we make our bed in the depths, whether we fall repeatedly or seem to be moving backward, God is both near and at work, the reality of the resurrection working its way into every ticking minute. In the experience of time before us is the radical promise of both the intermediate hope and transformation and the gift of looking glory full in the face. By the power of the Spirit, God takes the most wretched of creatures and changes it into the likeness of Christ, the most beautiful creature. Whether time is flying or standing still, for the worst of us, even menacing grasshopper types, this is indeed very good news.

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

(1) Maev Kennedy, “Beware the time-eater: Cambridge University’s Monstrous New Clock,” The Gaurdian, September 18, 2008.

(2) Robert Barr, “Fantastical New Clock Even Tells Time,” MSNBC, September 19, 2008.

(3) Ibid.

(4) Luke 16:9, Revelation 21:4, John 14:2.

(5) 2 Corinthians 3:18.

(6) N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope (New York: Harper, 2008), 29-30 .

Alistair Begg – Affection for the Savior

 

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth. Song of Songs 1:2

For several days we have been dwelling upon the Savior’s passion, and for some little time to come we shall linger there. In beginning a new month, let us seek the Lord with the desire that glowed in the heart of this woman. See how she leaps at once to Him. There are no introductions; she does not even mention His name. She is in the heart of her theme at once, for she speaks of Him who was the only Him in the world to her.

How bold is her love! it was true condescension that allowed the sinful woman to anoint Jesus’ feet with spices–it was rich love that allowed the gentle Mary to sit at His feet and learn of Him; but in this picture we see strong, fervent love, aspiring to higher tokens of affection and closer signs of fellowship. Esther trembled in the presence of Ahasuerus, but the woman in joyful liberty of perfect love knows no fear.

If we have received the same free spirit, we may also ask the same. By “kisses” we suppose to be intended those varied manifestations of affection by which the believer is made to enjoy the love of Jesus. The kiss of reconciliation we enjoyed at our conversion, and it was sweet as honey dropping from the comb. The kiss of acceptance is still warm on our brow, as we know that He has accepted us through rich grace. The kiss of daily, present communion is that which we long to be repeated day after day, till it is changed into the kiss of reception, which removes the soul from earth, and the kiss of consummation that fills it with the joy of heaven. Faith is our walk, but intimate fellowship is our rest. Faith is the road, but communion with Jesus is the well from which the pilgrim drinks.

O lover of our souls, do not be distant. Let the lips of Your blessing meet the lips of our asking; let the lips of Your fullness touch the lips of our need, and immediately our joy will be full.

Charles Spurgeon – I shall rise again

 

“But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.” 1 Corinthians 15:35-38

Suggested Further Reading: Luke 21:25-33

The seasons are four evangelists, each of them having his testimony to utter to us. Does not summer preach to us of God’s bounty, of the richness of his goodness, of that lavish generosity with which he has been pleased to supply the earth, not simply with food for man, but with delights for both ear and eye in the beauteous landscape, the melodious birds, and the flowers of various hue? Have you never heard the still small voice of autumn, who bears the wheatsheaf, and whispers to us in the rustling of the withered leaf? He bids us prepare to die.“All we” saith he, “do fade as a leaf,” and “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” Then comes winter, crowned with snow, and he thunders out a most mighty sermon, which, if we would but listen to it, might well impress us with the terrors of God’s vengeance, and let us see how soon he can strip the earth of all its pleasantries, and enrobe it in storm, when he shall come himself to judge the earth with righteousness, and the people with equity. But it seems to me that spring reads us a most excellent discourse upon the grand doctrine of revelation. This very month of April, which, if it be not the very entrance of spring, yet certainly introduces us to the fulness of it; this very month, bearing by its name the title of the opening month, speaks to us of the resurrection. As we have walked through our gardens, fields, and woods, we have seen the flower-buds ready to burst upon the trees, and the fruit-blossoms hastening to unfold themselves; we have seen the buried flowers rising from the sod, and they have spoken to us with sweet, sweet voice, the words, “Thou too shalt rise again, thou too shalt be buried in the earth like seeds that are lost in winter, but thou shalt rise again, and thou shalt live and blossom in eternal springs.”

For meditation: Only a fool ignores the lessons of creation (Romans 1:20-22).

Sermon no. 306

1 April (1860)

 

John MacArthur – Cultivating Beatitude Attitudes

 

“When [Jesus] saw the multitudes, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.  And opening His mouth He began to teach them” (Matt. 5:1- 2).

Jesus’ earthly ministry included teaching, preaching, and healing. Wherever He went He generated great excitement and controversy. Usually great multitudes of people followed Him as He moved throughout the regions of Judea and Galilee. Thousands came for healing, many came to mock and scorn, and some came in search of truth.

On one such occasion Jesus delivered His first recorded message: the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7). In it He proclaimed a standard of living diametrically opposed to the standards of His day–and ours. Boldly denouncing the ritualistic, hypocritical practices of the Jewish religious leaders, He taught that true religion is a matter of the heart or mind. People will behave as their hearts dictate (Luke 6:45), so the key to transformed behavior is transformed thinking.

At the beginning of His sermon Jesus presented the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-12): a list of the godly attitudes that mark a true believer and insure true happiness. The Greek word translated “blessed” in those verses speaks of happiness and contentment. The rest of the sermon discusses the lifestyle that produces it.

Jesus taught that happiness is much more than favorable circumstances and pleasant emotions. In fact, it doesn’t necessarily depend on circumstances at all. It is built on the indwelling character of God Himself. As your life manifests the virtues of humility, sorrow over sin, gentleness, righteousness, mercy, purity of heart, and peace, you will experience happiness that even severe persecution can’t destroy.

As we study the Beatitudes, I pray you will be more and more conformed to the attitudes they portray and that you will experience true happiness in Christ.

Suggestions for Prayer: Ask the Holy Spirit to minister to you through our daily studies. Be prepared to make any attitude changes that He might prompt.

For Further Study: Read the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7).

What issues did Christ address?

How did His hearers react to His teaching? How do you?

 

Joyce Meyer – Honor Him First

 

But as for you, the anointing (the sacred appointment, the unction) which you received from Him abides [permanently] in you; [so] then you have no need that anyone should instruct you. —1 John 2:27

This verse isn’t suggesting you don’t need anyone to teach you the Word. Otherwise God wouldn’t appoint some to teach in the body of Christ. But it does say if you are in Christ you have an anointing that abides on the inside of you to guide and direct your life.

Sometimes you give more consideration to what people tell you than to what God has said. You might occasionally ask somebody for their wisdom, but if you hear from God and then start asking everybody else what they think, you are honoring people’s opinions above the Word of God. You need to say, “God, no matter what anybody else says, no matter what my own plan is, if You say something to me, I am going to honor You above anything else.”

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – His Mark of Ownership

 

“He has put His brand upon us – His mark of ownership – and given us His Holy Spirit in our hearts as guarantee that we belong to Him, and as the first installment of all that He is going to give us” (2 Corinthians 1:22).

Some time ago, a young Christian came to share his problems. He was very frustrated and confused, and he spoke of the constant defeat and fruitlessness which he experienced in the Christian life.

“You don’t have to live in defeat,” I said to him.

The young man registered surprise.

“You can live a life of victory, a life of joy, a life of fruitfulness,” I assured him. “In fact, by the grace of God – and to Him alone be the glory – for more than 25 years as a Christian I do not recall a single hour of broken fellowship with the Lord Jesus.”

He was really shocked at that.

“Do you mean you haven’t sinned in 25 years?” he asked.

“No, that’s not what I mean, I replied. “I have sinned regrettably, I have grieved and quenched the Spirit at times with impatience, anger or some other expression of the flesh. But when I grieve the Spirit, I know exactly what to do. I breathe spiritually. I confess my sin to God and immediately receive His forgiveness and cleansing, and by faith I continue to walk in the fullness and power of the Holy Spirit.”

Bible Reading: I Corinthians 12:3-11

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Realizing that a believer can live a supernatural, holy life only as he yields to the control of the Holy Spirit, I will seek to practice holiness in my personal life and encourage other Christians to do the same.

Presidential Prayer Team; P.G. – See and Sound

 

You’ve seen their photos – American Special Ops, equipped with the latest technology, weapons, communications, and helmet-mounted image intensifiers. Since World War II, no well-equipped soldier is without the latest generation of night vision goggles.

On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent.

Isaiah 62:6

God didn’t provide you with natural thermal imaging, but He did bless you with eyes to see and ears to hear for understanding spiritual things. He expects you to be alert to dangers and evil around you and to warn others. In Isaiah’s day, the watchmen on the wall were essential to the survival of the cities. If all a watchman did was view or hear the approaching enemy without sounding the trumpet, it might edify him, but others would be lost.

Today, as then, people of God must assume the watchman’s role. Take a stand, see what’s coming, and sound the warning. The rising tide of sin in America opposing biblical standards threatens to carry the nation away, just as a tsunami swept away parts of Japan two years ago.

When the watchman is on duty, the city has hope. Sharpen your awareness and pray that others will join you in getting hope’s message out across America.

Recommended Reading: Matthew 13:10-17

 

Greg Laurie – Three Reactions to the Gospel

 

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God —1 Corinthians 1:18

I have found as I travel that some people are more open to the gospel than others. I never know how it is going to play out, so I just give out the Word of God and invite people to come to Christ. And people will react in different ways.

The apostle Paul received three reactions to the gospel when he preached it: “And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, ‘We will hear you again on this matter. . . .’ However, some men joined him and believed” (Acts 17:32, 34).

We find the same reactions to the gospel today. Some will mock. The term “mocked” used in Acts 17 also could be translated “sneered” or “burst out laughing.” In other words, Are you serious? You actually believe that?

To these educated fools, it all seemed silly and unbelievable. But this very mockery was an indication they were going to perish because “the preaching of the gospel is to them that are perishing foolishness” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

Some will mock, while others will delay. We will hear you again on this matter. This is a very common reaction. What it actually means is, “I really don’t want to decide right now.” The devil uses this tactic to great effect. Don’t worry about it now. Deal with it later.

But some believed. Some repented and changed their minds, and among them was Dionysius the Areopagite, one of the judges who was an intellectual and ruler of the city.

Here is what I have come to realize. Conversion is God’s job, not mine. It is the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of an unbeliever. God holds us responsible for proclaiming the truth. But the rest is up to Him.

Max Lucado – God’s Workshop

 

I remember knowing kids whose fathers were quite successful.  One was a judge.  The other a prominent physician. I attended church with the son of the mayor.  “My father has an office at the courthouse,” he could claim. Guess what you can claim?  “My Father rules the universe!””

Scripture says, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the skies announce what his hands have made.”  (Pslam 19:1) Nature is God’s workshop.  The sky is his resume.  You want to know who God is?  See what he has done. You want to know his power?  Take a look at his creation.

How vital that we pray, armed with the knowledge that God is in heaven.  Pray with any lesser conviction and your prayers are timid, shallow, and hollow. But spend some time walking in the workshop of the heavens.  Seeing what God has done—seeing what your  Father has done and watch how your prayers are energized!