Tag Archives: religion

Charles Stanley – The Promise of Humility

 

1 Peter 5:5-7

Jesus’ life exemplified humility. He did not assert His divine rights while on earth but instead left behind the glory and authority to which He was entitled. Cloaking himself with humanness, Jesus chose to be an obedient servant of His Father (Phil. 2:5-8).

Our Savior’s example was and still is countercultural. This world does not value an attitude or lifestyle of humility; rather, it applauds high achievement, outward beauty, elevated positions, or exceptional skills. But God assures us that if we choose meekness—living in submission to Jesus as Master of our lives—He will reward us in both this life and the life to come. (Matt. 5:5 niv).

In today’s verses, Peter outlines our options. Spiritual blessings are promised if we choose God’s way of humility. But if we pridefully forsake His path, the Lord will oppose us because we are essentially working against Him in arrogant self-sufficiency. However, when we humble ourselves by yielding to His authority and desiring to obey Him, He will be our source of strength and confidence.

There’s something else to consider: Since we sometimes buy into the significance society places on instant gratification, we tend to want recognition now. But God honors us according to His perfect way and timing.

The decision is yours to make: Will you humble yourself and live for God’s glory rather than yours? Or will you plot your own course and invite His opposition? If you’re wise, it’s not really much of a decision after all. So take a look at your priorities and ask God to reveal any areas driven by pride.

Our Daily Bread — Out Of Context

 

Luke 4:1-13

Your Word is truth. —John 17:17

When a friend started making random despairing statements, people were concerned for him and started giving advice and offering encouragement. As it turned out, he was simply having fun by quoting song lyrics out of context to start a conversation. Friends who tried to help wasted their time by offering help he didn’t need and advice he didn’t want. The consequences of my friend’s misleading statements were not serious, but they could have been. In taking time to respond to his false need, someone could have neglected someone else’s truly serious need.

Some people who take words out of context just want to gain attention or win an argument. But others are more sinister. They twist truth to gain power over others. They endanger not only lives but also souls.

When people use words to manipulate others to behave in certain ways—or worse, when they quote the Bible out of context to convince others to do wrong—there’s only one defense: We need to know what God truly says in His Word. Jesus was able to resist temptation with the truth (Luke 4). We have the same resource. God has given us His Word and Spirit to guide us and keep us from being deceived or misled. —Julie Ackerman Link

Your words of pure, eternal truth

Shall yet unshaken stay,

When all that man has thought or planned

Like chaff shall pass away. —Anon.

 

If we hold on to God’s truth, we won’t be trapped by Satan’s lies.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Finger Pointing

 

For a world of pointing fingers, the day is ripe with opportunity. Today is “Spy Wednesday,” an old and uncommon name for the Wednesday of Holy Week, so-named because it marks the agreement of Judas to betray Jesus. As told by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Judas approaches the chief priests and asks what they would be willing to give him for turning Jesus over to them. They agree on a sum, and from then on Judas looks for opportunity to hand him over.(1)

Some commemorate the involvement of Judas in the story of Holy Week by collecting thirty pieces of silver, the exact amount Judas was given to betray Jesus, and later returns to the chief priests in regret. Typically, children gather the coins and present them as gifts to the church. In other cultures, the tradition involves children throwing an effigy of Judas from the church steeple, then dragging it around the town while pounding him with sticks. For whatever part of us that might want a person to blame for the events that led to the betrayal, death, and crucifixion of Jesus, Judas makes an easy target.

But nothing about Holy Week is easy, and the gospels leave us wondering if guilt might in fact hit closer to home. It is noted in Mark’s Gospel, in particular, that the moral failures of the week are not handed to any one person, but described in all of the actors equally: Yes, to Judas the betrayer. But also to weak disciples, sleeping and running and fumbling. To Peter, cowardly and denying. To scheming priests, indifferent soldiers, angry mobs, and the conceited Pilate. Mark brings us face to face with human indecency, such that it is not a stretch to imagine our own in the mix.

While we may successfully remain apart and shrouded from the events, conversations, and finger-pointing of Holy Week, the cross invites the world to see that we stand nearer than we might realize. Such a thought might seem absurd or dramatic, a manipulative tool of theologians, or an inaccurate accusation on account of your own sense of moral clarity. Yet the invitation to emerge from our own darkest failings, lies, and betrayals is somewhere in the midst of this story as well; not an invitation to dwell in our own impoverishment or to wallow in guilt on our way to Easter morning, but rather, a summons to death and light.

The difficult message of the cross is that there is room beside the hostile soldiers, fickle crowds, and fleeing disciples. But perhaps the more difficult, and merciful, message of the cross is that it summons us to set that guilt down. Pointing fingers and holding onto a sense of guilt is easier than admitting there’s a way to wholeness of life and hope and liberty, which leads through the death and self-giving love of another soul. Before we found a scapegoat to detract attention from our own failings, before we even considered the endless possibilities of finger-pointing, Christ died pointing at the guilt-ridden and guilt-denying, the soldier and the priests and the disciple and the friend and the adversary, who he would just not let go.

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

(1) See Matthew 26:3-5, 14-16, Mark 14:10-12, Luke 22:3-6.

 

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning   “Then all the disciples forsook him and fled.” / Matthew 26:56

He never deserted them, but they in cowardly fear of their lives, fled from  him in the very beginning of his sufferings. This is but one instructive  instance of the frailty of all believers if left to themselves; they are but  sheep at the best, and they flee when the wolf cometh. They had all been  warned of the danger, and had promised to die rather than leave their Master;  and yet they were seized with sudden panic, and took to their heels. It may  be, that I, at the opening of this day, have braced up my mind to bear a trial  for the Lord’s sake, and I imagine myself to be certain to exhibit perfect  fidelity; but let me be very jealous of myself, lest having the same evil  heart of unbelief, I should depart from my Lord as the apostles did. It is one  thing to promise, and quite another to perform. It would have been to their  eternal honour to have stood at Jesus’ side right manfully; they fled from  honour; may I be kept from imitating them! Where else could they have been so  safe as near their Master, who could presently call for twelve legions of  angels? They fled from their true safety. O God, let me not play the fool  also. Divine grace can make the coward brave. The smoking flax can flame forth  like fire on the altar when the Lord wills it. These very apostles who were  timid as hares, grew to be bold as lions after the Spirit had descended upon  them, and even so the Holy Spirit can make my recreant spirit brave to confess  my Lord and witness for his truth.

What anguish must have filled the Saviour as he saw his friends so faithless!  This was one bitter ingredient in his cup; but that cup is drained dry; let me  not put another drop in it. If I forsake my Lord, I shall crucify him afresh,  and put him to an open shame. Keep me, O blessed Spirit, from an end so  shameful.

 

Evening   “And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” / Matthew 15:27

This woman gained comfort in her misery by thinking great thoughts of Christ.  The Master had talked about the children’s bread: “Now,” argued she, “since  thou art the Master of the table of grace, I know that thou art a generous  housekeeper, and there is sure to be abundance of bread on thy table; there  will be such an abundance for the children that there will be crumbs to throw  on the floor for the dogs, and the children will fare none the worse because  the dogs are fed.” She thought him one who kept so good a table that all that  she needed would only be a crumb in comparison; yet remember, what she wanted  was to have the devil cast out of her daughter. It was a very great thing to  her, but she had such a high esteem of Christ, that she said, “It is nothing  to him, it is but a crumb for Christ to give.” This is the royal road to  comfort. Great thoughts of your sin alone will drive you to despair; but great  thoughts of Christ will pilot you into the haven of peace. “My sins are many,  but oh! it is nothing to Jesus to take them all away. The weight of my guilt  presses me down as a giant’s foot would crush a worm, but it is no more than a  grain of dust to him, because he has already borne its curse in his own body  on the tree. It will be but a small thing for him to give me full remission,  although it will be an infinite blessing for me to receive it.” The woman  opens her soul’s mouth very wide, expecting great things of Jesus, and he  fills it with his love. Dear reader, do the same. She confessed what Christ  laid at her door, but she laid fast hold upon him, and drew arguments even out  of his hard words; she believed great things of him, and she thus overcame  him. She won the victory by believing in Him. Her case is an instance of  prevailing faith; and if we would conquer like her, we must imitate her  tactics.

John MacArthur – Solving Man’s Greatest Problem

 

“Forgive us our debts” (Matt. 6:12).

Man’s greatest problem is sin. It renders him spiritually dead, alienates him from God and his fellow man, plagues him with guilt and fear, and can eventually damn him to eternal hell. The only solution is forgiveness–and the only source of forgiveness is Jesus Christ.

All sin is punishable by death (Rom. 6:23) but Christ bore the sins of the world, thereby making it possible to be forgiven and have eternal life through faith in Him (John 3:16). What a glorious reality!

Scripture speaks of two kinds of forgiveness: judicial and parental. Judicial forgiveness comes from God the righteous judge, who wiped your sin off the record and set you free from its punishment and guilt. At the moment of your salvation He forgave all your sins–past, present, and future–and pronounced you righteous for all eternity. That’s why nothing can ever separate you from Christ’s love (Rom. 8:38-39).

Parental forgiveness is granted to believers by their loving heavenly Father as they confess their sin and seek His cleansing. That’s the kind of forgiveness Jesus speaks of in Matthew 6:12.

When a child disobeys his father, the father/child relationship isn’t severed. The child is still a member of the family and there’s a sense in which he is already forgiven because he’s under the umbrella of his father’s parental love. But some of the intimacy of their relationship is lost until the child seeks forgiveness.

That’s the idea in Matthew 6:12. The sins you commit as a believer don’t rob you of your salvation, but they do affect your relationship with God. He still loves you and will always be your Father, but the intimacy and sweet communion you once knew is jeopardized until you seek reconciliation by confessing your sins.

As a Christian, you are judicially forgiven and will never come into condemnation. But never presume on that grace. Make confession part of your daily prayers so sin will never erode your relationship with your Heavenly Father.

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for His judicial forgiveness of all your sins.

Ask Him to help you maintain the joy of your relationship with Him by quickly dealing with any sin that comes up in your life.

For Further Study:  Read Psalm 32:1-7.

How did David feel about forgiveness?

What happened to David before he confessed his sin?

Joyce Meyer – Don’t “Just” Pray

 

Bring all the tithes (the whole tenth of your income) into the storehouse…and prove Me now by it, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. —Malachi 3:10

One of the prayers I hear people pray often, and have prayed many times myself, is what I call a “just” prayer, which sounds something like this: “Now Lord, we just thank You for this food,” “God, we just ask You to protect us,” “Father, we just come to You tonight…” “Oh, God, if You would just help us in this situation we would be so thankful…” Do you see what I mean? We sound as if we are afraid to ask God for very much.

The word just can mean “righteous” or “fair,” but it can also mean “barely enough to get by” or “by a narrow margin.” God wants to give us exceedingly, abundantly, above and beyond all that we can dare to hope, ask, or think (see Ephesians 3:20). He wants to open the windows of heaven and pour out blessings, so why should we approach Him asking for barely enough to get by on? Why should we approach God as if we are afraid to ask for too much? When we approach Him that way, it seems as if we do not believe He is generous and good. We must realize that He is not a God who gives “just” enough to barely get by, but He desires to bless us abundantly, as the verse for today promises.

God does not want to hear fearful, insecure “just” prayers. He wants to hear bold, confident, faith-filled prayers prayed by people who are secure in their friendship with Him.

God’s word for you today: When it comes to prayer, “just” just isn’t enough.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – We Are Each a Part

 

“Each of us is a part of the one body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves and some are free. But the Holy Spirit has fitted us all together into one body. We have been baptized into Christ’s body by the one Spirit, and have all been given that same Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13).

I find that most Christians agree that the Holy Spirit baptizes the believer into the Body of Christ, as this verse affirms. But the unity of the body is divided here on earth by many differences of interpretation concerning a “second baptism,” speaking in tongues and “Spirit-filling.”

Most believers agree, however, that we are commanded to live holy lives and the Holy Spirit supernaturally makes this human impossibility a reality. He does this when we totally submit ourselves to His indwelling love and power. Or, to use a metaphor of the apostle Paul, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves in Christ” (Galatians 3:27, NAS).

In His high-priestly prayer, our Lord prayed that we who are believers may be one with Him, even as He and the Father were one. We are commanded to love one another. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35, KJV). No one who criticizes his brother is Spirit-filled. No one who sows discord among his brethren is Spirit-filled. In fact, the test as to whether or not we are controlled by the Holy Spirit is how we love our brothers.

It is my joy and privilege to know most of the famous Christian leaders of our time, men and women whom God is using in a mighty way to help change our nation and some other nations of the world with the gospel. How I rejoice at every good report that comes to me of God’s blessing upon their lives and ministries. In fact, it is one way of checking my own walk with Christ. If I were jealous and critical, fault-finding and sowing discord, I would know that I am not walking in the light as God is in the light.

Bible Reading: I Corinthians 12:14-20

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will not allow my interpretation of the Spirit-filled life to separate me from other members of the body of Christ, but will love them and seek to promote unity among believers.

Presidential Prayer Team; J.K. – Get a Grip!

 

Animals are sometimes ensnared in traps. People occasionally feel entangled in a relationship. But you can be bound by sin…or not!

We shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. Romans 6:5

At a time when his culture was deeply corrupt, Paul uses the sixth chapter of Romans to instruct the believers who felt they could sin as they wanted because grace abounded more. Paul is quick to tell them that was not so. They were no longer constrained by sin and therefore shouldn’t relish it or love it any longer.

Because believing means you die to your sins, you have “newness of life,” you are “united with him in a resurrection like his,” and are “alive to God through Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:4-11) The power of His resurrection won over death and sin. And now you have that power as well.

Don’t let sin get a grip on you! Believe and you can experience a resurrection now in how you live, holding control over sin and being blessed with a better life. Stay in communion with God to be nourished and strengthened. Then pray for this nation – that its people will know the resurrection power of the one true God, Jesus Christ.

Recommended Reading: Philippians 3:8-11, 17-21

Greg Laurie – The Power of Christ’s Words

 

Christ’ passionate love for the world is evident in His statements from the Cross:

Statement One “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34

Do you realize that you are in need of the Father’s forgiveness?

 

Statement Two “Today you will with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43

Have you realized and confessed Jesus as your personal Savior?

 

Statement Three “Woman, behold your son.” John 19:26

Jesus is concerned for us and provides for all of us.

 

Statement Four “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Matthew 27:46

Jesus was forsaken so we don’t have to be.

 

Statement Five “I thirst!” John 19:28

This personal statement reminds us that Jesus is not only God, but He also was man. Jesus identifies with our needs.

 

Statement Six “It is finished!” John 19:30

Jesus paid for our sins, and sin’s control over our lives is broken!

 

Statement Seven “Into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Luke 23:46

You can entrust your life into God’s hands.

 

How to Know God

You were designed to know God in a personal way—to have a relationship with Him, through His Son, Jesus Christ. How do you start a relationship with God?

1. Realize that you are a sinner.

No matter how good a life we try to live, we still fall miserably short of being a good person. That is because we are all sinners. The Bible says, “No one is good—not even one.” We cannot become who we are supposed to be without Jesus Christ.

2. Recognize that Jesus Christ died on the cross for you.

The Bible tells us that “God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while were still sinners.” This is the Good News, that God loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die in our place when we least deserved it.

3. Repent of your sin.

The Bible tells us, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.” The word repent means to change our direction in life. Instead of running from God, we can run toward Him.

4. Receive Jesus Christ into your life.

Becoming a Christian is not merely believing some creed or going to church. It is having Christ Himself take residence in your life and heart. Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in . . .” If you would like to have a relationship with Christ, simply pray this prayer and mean it in your heart.

“Dear Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner. I believe You died for my sins. Right now, I turn from my sins and open the door of my heart and life. I confess You as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank You for saving me. Amen.”

Max Lucado – What We Do to Him

 

How we treat others is how we treat Jesus.

The soldiers bowed before Jesus, making fun of him, saying ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’  They spat on Jesus.  They began to beat him on the head.  Then they led him away to be crucified.” (Mark 15:18-19).

The soldiers’ assignment was simple.  Take the Nazarene to the hill and kill him.  But they wanted to have some fun first.  Strong, armed soldiers encircled an exhausted, nearly dead Galilean carpenter and beat up on him. The beating was commanded.  The crucifixion was ordered.  But the spitting?  Spitting isn’t intended to hurt the body—it can’t.  Spitting is intended to degrade the soul, and it does.

Ever done that?  Maybe you haven’t spit on anyone, but have you gossiped?  Raised your hand in anger?  Ever made someone feel bad so you would feel good? Our Lord explained this truth in Matthew 25:40:  How we treat others is how we treat Jesus!

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

Charles Stanley – Overcoming Worry

 

Psalm 37

Once we comprehend how worry undermines trust in our Father and how willing He is to remove it from us, we need to seek out ways to cooperate with Him. So let’s look at some common sources of worry that we can avoid.

One thing we can do is learn not to pay attention to the wrong people. There are many purveyors of doom and gloom all around us. I’m sure we all can think of various sources of such negative thinking, and steps we can take to avoid them, whether it’s a neighbor or newscast that plunges us into despair. We don’t have to listen to something evil just because it is making a lot of noise.

Storing up treasures on earth is another thing to avoid. The more we stockpile worldly goods, the more we are tempted to worry about what might happen to our possessions.

We will be mastered by either the material or the spiritual. The Lord put it this way: “You cannot serve God and wealth” (Matt. 6:24). To avoid serving the wrong master, we must deliberately choose to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (v. 33). This means we must willingly pursue obedience and submission to God’s ways as He conforms us to the image of Christ.

Anxiety can be overcome. Our loving heavenly Father understands the human propensity to worry. And He has promised that putting His interests first will always result in our needs being met. The more we prioritize Him, the less apprehension will have a foothold in our lives.

Our Daily Bread — Our Father’s World

 

Genesis 1:26-28

The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein. —Psalm 24:1

When Amanda Benavides was a sophomore at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California, she began to rethink her views on Christian stewardship of the earth. Amanda had grown up thinking that being conscious of the environment had nothing to do with her relationship with Jesus. All this changed when she was challenged to consider the Christian’s role in caring for the planet—especially how that relates to reaching the most needy in the world.

Our stewardship of the beautiful world God gave us, and our care for the people in it, express our reverence for God and is grounded in two biblical principles.

First, the earth belongs to God (Ps. 24:1-2). The psalmist praised the Lord for His creation and His ownership of it. The heavens, the earth, and all that are in it are His. He created it, He is sovereign over it (93:1-2), and He cares for it (Matt. 6:26-30). Second, God delegated the responsibility for the well-being of His earth to us (Gen. 1:26-28). This includes appreciation of and care for both nature (Lev. 25:2-5,11; Prov. 12:10) and people (Rom. 15:2).

This is our Father’s world. Let’s show Him how much we love Him by respecting it and caring for the people who populate it. —Marvin Williams

The natural world that God has made

Must not be used at whim;

We serve as stewards of His earth,

Responsible to Him. —D. DeHaan

 

To mistreat God’s creation is to offend the Creator.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Wounded and Rising

 

One of the most terrifying and deeply troubling news stories of the past few years has been one that has escaped broad notice by the Western media. It is the story of extreme and widespread violence against women in Eastern Congo. Raped and tortured by warring factions in their country, women are the victims of the most horrific crimes. As one journalist reported, “Many have been so sadistically attacked from the inside out, butchered by bayonets and assaulted with chunks of wood, that their reproductive and digestive systems are beyond repair.”(1) They bear their wounds in their own bodies, permanent scars of violence and oppression.

In this holiest week for Christians around the world, the broken and wounded body of Jesus is commemorated in services of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. The broken body and spilled blood of Jesus is remembered in the symbols of bread and wine on Maundy Thursday, and in the black draping of curtains and cloths on Good Friday. Jesus suffered violence in his own body, just as many do around the world today.

Even as Christian mourning turns to joy with Easter resurrection celebrations, it is important to note that Jesus bore the wounds of violence and oppression in his body—even after his resurrection. When he appeared to his disciples, according to John’s gospel, Jesus showed them “both his hands and his side” as a means by which to identify himself to them. Indeed, the text tells us that once the disciples took in these visible wounds “they rejoiced when they saw the Lord” (John 20:20).

The resurrection body of Jesus contained the scars from nail and sword, and these scars identified Jesus to his followers. And yet, the wounds of Jesus took on new significance in light of his resurrection. While still reminders of the violence of crucifixion his wound-marked resurrection body demonstrates God’s power over evil and death.

But his wounds reveal something else. God’s work of resurrection—indeed of new creation—begins in our wounded world. His resurrection is not a disembodied spiritual reality for life after the grave; it bears the marks of his wounded life here and now, yet with new significance. N.T. Wright, who has written extensively on the central importance of Christ’s bodily resurrection for Christians, says it this way:

“The resurrection of Jesus means that the present time is shot through with great significance….Acts of justice and mercy, the creation of beauty and the celebration of truth, deeds of love and the creation of communities of kindness and forgiveness—these all matter, and they matter forever.  Take away the resurrection, and these things are important for the present but irrelevant for the future and hence not all that important after all even now. Enfolded in this vocation to build now, with gold, silver, and precious stones, the things that will last into God’s new age, is the vocation to holiness: to the fully human life, reflecting the image of God, that is made possible by Jesus’ victory on the cross and that is energized by the Spirit of the risen Jesus present within communities and persons.”(2)

Indeed, Paul’s great exposition of the resurrection of Jesus in 1 Corinthians 15 ends by reminding the Corinthians, “Therefore, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” The point of the resurrection is to demonstrate that entropy and death do not have the final word—either for humans or for God’s creation. God’s last word is resurrection in the midst of our human, often-wounded lives now.

The reality of the resurrection marked by the wounds of Jesus can bring this kind of hope and this kind of joy even into the darkest places. The reality of the bodily resurrection also compels a response from those who live in its light. We work and we toil, and perhaps even pour out our blood, sweat, and tears to tend the wounds of others. The hope of the resurrection reminds us that our labor is far from in vain. We bear the scars of toil even as we labor to bring resurrection reality into this world. We bear them as we remember that Jesus continued to wear his scars as part of his resurrected life.

The visible wounds of Jesus after his resurrection also bring hope in the midst of our suffering. Even our suffering does not have to be in vain. Many women in the Congo, despite all their horrific suffering, seem to understand this. Behind the Panzi Hospital that treats the majority of these rape cases, a new center of refuge called “City of Joy” is being built. It will be a place of long-term healing and refuge for women who have been victimized and abused in Eastern Congo. Many of the women, who carry the cement for the building on their heads, were themselves victims of these crimes. Their wounds still visible on their bodies, they are building a city of joy.(3)

Alleluia, Christ is risen!

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

(1) Jeffrey Gettleman, “Rape Epidemic Raises Trauma of Congo War,” New York Times, October 7, 2007.

(2) N.T. Wright and Marcus Borg, The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions (New York: HarperCollins, 1999), 126-127.

(3) Nicholas D. Kristof, “What Are You Carrying?” New York Times video blog, March 8, 2010.

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning “Jesus said unto them, If ye seek me, let these go their way.” / John 18:8

Mark, my soul, the care which Jesus manifested even in his hour of trial, towards the sheep of his hand! The ruling passion is strong in death. He resigns himself to the enemy, but he interposes a word of power to set his disciples free. As to himself, like a sheep before her shearers he is dumb and opened not his mouth, but for his disciples’ sake he speaks with almighty energy. Herein is love, constant, self-forgetting, faithful love. But is there not far more here than is to be found upon the surface? Have we not the very soul and spirit of the atonement in these words? The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep, and pleads that they must therefore go free. The Surety is bound, and justice demands that those for whom he stands a substitute should go their way. In the midst of Egypt’s bondage, that voice rings as a word of power, “Let these go their way.” Out of slavery of sin and Satan the redeemed must come. In every cell of the dungeons of Despair, the sound is echoed, “Let these go their way,” and forth come Despondency and Much-afraid. Satan hears the well-known voice, and lifts his foot from the neck of the fallen; and Death hears it, and the grave opens her gates to let the dead arise. Their way is one of progress, holiness, triumph, glory, and none shall dare to stay them in it. No lion shall be on their way, neither shall any ravenous beast go up thereon. “The hind of the morning” has drawn the cruel hunters upon himself, and now the most timid roes and hinds of the field may graze at perfect peace among the lilies of his loves. The thunder-cloud has burst over the Cross of Calvary, and the pilgrims of Zion shall never be smitten by the bolts of vengeance. Come, my heart, rejoice in the immunity which thy Redeemer has secured thee, and bless his name all the day, and every day.

 

Evening “When he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” / Mark 8:38

If we have been partakers with Jesus in his shame, we shall be sharers with him in the lustre which shall surround him when he appears again in glory. Art thou, beloved one, with Christ Jesus? Does a vital union knit thee to him? Then thou art today with him in his shame; thou hast taken up his cross, and gone with him without the camp bearing his reproach; thou shalt doubtless be with him when the cross is exchanged for the crown. But judge thyself this evening; for if thou art not with him in the regeneration, neither shalt thou be with him when he shall come in his glory. If thou start back from the black side of communion, thou shalt not understand its bright, its happy period, when the King shall come, and all his holy angels with him. What! are angels with him? And yet he took not up angels–he took up the seed of Abraham. Are the holy angels with him? Come, my soul, if thou art indeed his own beloved, thou canst not be far from him. If his friends and his neighbours are called together to see his glory, what thinkest thou if thou art married to him? Shalt thou be distant? Though it be a day of judgment, yet thou canst not be far from that heart which, having admitted angels into intimacy, has admitted thee into union. Has he not said to thee, O my soul, “I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness?” Have not his own lips said it, “I am married unto thee, and my delight is in thee?” If the angels, who are but friends and neighbours, shall be with him, it is abundantly certain that his own beloved Hephzibah, in whom is all his delight, shall be near to him, and sit at his right hand. Here is a morning star of hope for thee, of such exceeding brilliance, that it may well light up the darkest and most desolate experience.

John MacArthur – Dealing with Sin

 

“Forgive us our debts” (Matt. 6:12).

Christians struggle with sin. That surely comes as no surprise to you. As you mature in Christ, the frequency of your sinning decreases, but your sensitivity to it increases. That doesn’t mean you are more easily tempted, but that you are more aware of the subtleties of sin and how it dishonors God.

Some people think you should never confess your sins or seek forgiveness, but the Lord instructed us to do so when He said for us to pray, “Forgive us our debts” (Matt. 6:12). That’s the believer’s prayer for the Father’s forgiveness.

John said, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10). That passage doesn’t tell us how to get saved, as many have taught. It tells us how to distinguish believers from unbelievers: believers confess their sins; unbelievers don’t.

The phrase “forgive us” in Matthew 6:12 implies the need for forgiveness. “Debts” translates a Greek word that was used to speak of a moral or monetary debt. In Matthew 6:12 it refers to sins. When you sin, you owe to God a consequence or a debt because you have violated His holiness.

When you sin as a believer, you don’t lose your salvation but you will face God’s chastening if you don’t repent. Hebrews 12 says, “Those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives . . . . He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness” (vv. 6, 10).

If you are harboring sin, confess it now and allow God to cleanse you and use you today for His glory.

Suggestions for Prayer: Write down why God’s forgiveness is important to you, then express those thoughts to Him in praise.

For Further Study: Read Psalm 38.

What physical and emotional ailments did David experience as a result of his sin?

What was his attitude toward God as he confessed his sin?

Joyce Meyer – Trust in Christ to Lead You

 

You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to honor and glory. —Psalm 73:24

We believe that God is inherently good and that He is also in control of our lives. Therefore, when tragedy strikes or loss occurs, we don’t understand why God does not prevent such things from happening to us and hurting us so badly.

Faced with tragic loss, often we become angry and ask, “If God is good and all-powerful, why does He allow bad things to happen to good people?” This question becomes a major issue when it is we, God’s own children, who are the ones suffering.

At such times, reasoning wants to scream out, “This makes no sense at all!” Over and over the question, “Why, God, why?” torments those who are grieving over losses in their life, just as it also tortures the lonely and the dejected. Excessive reasoning, trying to figure out things for which we will not be able to find an answer, torments and brings much confusion; but Proverbs 3:5,6 tells us that trust in the Lord brings assurance and direction: Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. When we face a time of crisis in life, we need direction. These scriptures tell us that trusting God is the way to find that direction. Trust requires allowing some unanswered questions to be in your life!

No matter how badly you may be hurting from a loss or tragedy, the Holy Spirit can give you a deep peace that somehow everything will be all right. Being angry at God is useless because He is the only One Who can help.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Cheer Up; He Has Overcome

 

“I have told you all this so that you will have peace of heart and mind. Here on earth you will have many sorrows and trials; but cheer up, for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

I know of few promises in all the Word of God that offer more assurance and encouragement than this one.

The apostle Paul was an aggressive soldier of God who carried the gospel far and wide throughout the known world. He was greatly used of God to expand the territorial borders of Christendom. All that Paul did, he did in the name of Christ and through the power and control of the Holy Spirit.

But there was great opposition to Paul’s ministry. Consequently, he always seemed to be in the center of spiritual warfare. He knew his enemies, Satan and the world system, and their subtle, deceiving devices.

Throughout his Christian life, he suffered various kinds of persecutions, including stonings, beatings and imprisonment. In spite of such harsh persecution, Paul could write, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice” (Philipians 4:4, NAS).

It was during Paul’s imprisonment in Rome, about 61 or 62 A.D., that he wrote to the church at Ephesus. The theme of his letter is supernatural living, and he talks about the Christian’s spiritual warfare. He tells us that the battle we fight is against Satan and the spiritual forces of wickedness, not against other people.

The apostle Paul experienced the supernatural peace of heart and mind which Jesus promised, a promise which we too can claim, in times of difficulty, testing and even persecution.

Bible Reading: John 16:25-32

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Today I will claim the peace of heart and mind which Jesus promised to all who trust and obey Him. Deliberately and faithfully I will seek to put on the whole armor of God so that I will be fully prepared to withstand the wiles of the enemy and thus live a supernatural life for the glory of God.

Presidential Prayer Team; P.G. – Maundy Thursday

 

The oldest and most important Christian commemorative service was initiated by Jesus when He instructed His disciples on the practice of the bread and the cup just hours before He was arrested. His closest friends didn’t know what was coming, but the Lord did…and He told them of the symbols by which to remember His impending death.

There will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. Acts 24:15

The name of the Thursday of Holy Week – Maundy – is derived from the Latin word mandatum meaning “mandate” or “command.” The instruction Jesus gave His disciples that evening was to love one another. He, of course, knew the greatest love, laying down one’s life for a friend, was His commission from the Father, one He was about to fulfill.

It would be a hopeless tale were it to stop there, but it doesn’t. The enormous power God’s love raised Him, and by His resurrection, you have hope! The justified shall be resurrected to His glory. But those who have denied Christ will be raised to face Him in judgment.

Share Jesus’ love today, in your life and in your prayers, as you gratefully acknowledge the hope you have. Pray that God will bathe America’s leaders in His irresistible love.

Recommended Reading: Luke 22:10-22

Greg Laurie – Surrender at Gethsemane

 

Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.”—Mark 14:34

Have you ever felt lonely? Have you ever felt as though your friends and family had abandoned you? Have you ever felt like you were misunderstood? Have you ever had a hard time understanding or submitting to the will of God for your life?

If so, then you have an idea of what the Lord Jesus went through as He agonized at Gethsemane.

Hebrews tells us, “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it” (4:15–16 NLT).

The Bible tells us that Jesus was “a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief” (Isaiah 53:3 NLT). But the sorrow He experienced in Gethsemane on the night before His crucifixion seemed to be the culmination of all the sorrow He had ever known and would accelerate to a climax the following day. The ultimate triumph that was to take place at Calvary was first accomplished beneath the gnarled old olive trees of Gethsemane.

It is interesting that the very word Gethsemane means “olive press.” Olives were pressed there to make oil, and truly, Jesus was being pressed from all sides that He might bring life to us. I don’t think we can even begin to fathom what He was going through.

But look at what it accomplished. It brought about your salvation and mine. Because of what Jesus went through at Gethsemane and ultimately at the cross, we can call upon His name. Though it was an unfathomably painful, horrific transition, it was necessary for the ultimate goal of what was accomplished.

Maybe you are at a crisis point in your life right now—a personal Gethsemane, if you will. You have your will; you know what you want. Yet you can sense that God’s will is different.

Would you let the Lord choose for you? Would you be willing to say, “Lord, I am submitting my will to Yours. Not my will, but yours be done”? You will not regret making that decision.

Max Lucado – Eternal Choices

 

God gives eternal choices, and these choices have eternal consequences.

Isn’t this the reminder of Calvary’s trio?  Ever wonder why there were two crosses next to Christ?  Why not six or ten?  Ever wonder why Jesus was in the center?  Could it be the two crosses on the hill symbolize one of God’s greatest gifts?  The gift of choice. The two criminals were convicted by the same system.  Condemned to death.  Equally close to the same Jesus.  But one changed and one did not.

You’ve made some bad choices in life, haven’t you?  You look back and you say, “If only I could make up for those bad choices.”  You can.  When one thief on the cross prayed, Jesus loved him enough to save him.  When the other mocked, Jesus loved him enough to let him.  He allowed him the choice. And he does the same for you and me.

Then (the thief) said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”  Luke 23:42-43