Tag Archives: spirituality

John MacArthur – Building God’s Kingdom

 

“Thy kingdom come” (Matt. 6:10).

Someday Christ will return to earth to reign in His kingdom. In the meantime He rules in the hearts of those who love Him.

Before He ascended into heaven, Jesus gave us a mandate to evangelize the lost and teach them His Word (Matt. 28:19- 20). When we do, sinners are converted and transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of Christ (Col. 1:13). That’s how His kingdom grows.

Conversion is a work of the Spirit in the heart of unbelievers. He uses a myriad of people and circumstances to accomplish that work, but common to every true conversion are three key elements: invitation, repentance, and commitment.

In Matthew 22:1-14 Jesus, by way of a parable, invites people to come into His kingdom. As an evangelist, you too should not only present the gospel, but also invite others to respond to what they’ve heard.

In Mark 1:14-15 we read, “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.'” Repentance is feeling sorrow over your sin and turning from it (2 Cor. 7:9-11).

True repentance results in a commitment to respond to the righteous demands of the gospel. In Mark 12:34 Jesus says to a wise scribe, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” The scribe had all the information necessary for entering the kingdom. What he lacked was a commitment to act on what he knew. Luke 9:62 says, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” You might know everything about the kingdom, but Christ’s rule is not established in your heart until you’ve made a complete commitment to it.

When you pray for Christ’s kingdom to come, you are praying an evangelistic prayer that you take part in answering. Be faithful to proclaim the gospel and make intercession for unbelievers a regular part of your prayers.

Suggestions for Prayer:  Pray for unbelieving family and friends.

Ask the Lord for the opportunity to share Christ with an unbeliever today.

For Further Study: Read John 4.

How did Jesus broach the subject of salvation with the Samaritan woman?

Did He extend an invitation to her? Explain.

How did the townspeople react to her report about Jesus?

Joyce Meyer – God’s Calling

 

Let a woman learn in quietness, in entire submissiveness. I allow no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to remain in quietness and keep silence [in religious assemblies]. —1 Timothy 2:11–12

In this controversial passage, it is evident that Paul was dealing with a specific situation for a specific time frame in history. As noted before, Priscilla along with her husband, Aquila, had been a founding leader in this same church. I am not enough of a theologian to debate this problem fully. All I know is that God has always used—and still does use—women as leaders and teachers, preachers, ministers, missionaries, authors, evangelists, prophets, and so on.

Just remember that God loves you and wants to use you in powerful ways to help other people. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that God cannot or will not use you, just because you are a woman. As a woman, you are creative, comforting, sensitive, and you’re able to be a tremendous blessing. You can bear a lot of good fruit in your life. You don’t have to merely pass through life unnoticed, always in the background. If God has called you to leadership, you should lead. If He has called you into ministry, you should minister. If He has called you to business or as a homemaker, you should boldly be all that He has called you to be.

Lord, I believe that You want to use me and that You have called and gifted me. Bless me to be a blessing. Amen.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Praise Brings Blessings

 

“Go through His open gates with great thanksgiving; enter His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and bless His name. For the Lord is always good. He is always loving and kind, and His faithfulness goes on and on to each succeeding generation” (Psalm 100:4.5).

I would like to suggest several reasons why I believe praising God is so important in the life of the believer.

First, God is truly worthy of praise. He is worthy of praise because of who He is and because of all He has done for us. The psalmist reminds us, “Praise the Lord! Yes, really praise Him! I will praise Him as long as I live, yes, even with my dying breath” (Psalm 146:1,2).

We praise God for who He is and for His attributes – His love, His sovereignty, His wisdom, His power, His greatness, goodness and compassion, His faithfulness, His holiness and His eternal, unchanging nature.

These and other characteristics of God are described in many passages. Three of my favorites are Isaiah 40, Psalm 139 and Psalms 145-150.

Second, we praise God for His benefits to us. Though too numerous to mention, some of them are expressed in Psalm 103.

No wonder the psalmist concluded this list of great benefits by calling upon all who read this passage, “Let everything everywhere bless [praise] Him too!”

Yes, we are to praise God first of all because of who He is, and then we are to praise Him for His blessings to us. We should never take for granted the benefits we enjoy as a result of belonging to Him.

Bible Reading: Psalm 103:1-8

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Praise toward God throughout the day will be on my lips as I recall His many attributes and all His benefits to me.

Presidential Prayer Team; H.R. – Custom Designed

 

Billions of years ago, all the energy and matter of the universe were crammed together into a big ball. Then there was an explosion that caused the creation of the planets, stars and galaxies. It is known as the Big Bang theory – and people believe it’s true. However, it seems to take great faith to believe an explosion, which always causes only chaos and destruction, created perfect order and intricate design in the universe.

I know your works. Revelation 3:8

As a Christian, you can be reassured that the great, loving mind of God designed not only the planets and stars…but also your mind and body. God knows how you were formed, even to the detail of every hair on your head! Just as He knew the hearts of every person in the churches spoken to in Revelation, Jesus knows every thought, frustration, joy, strength and weakness. Psalm 103:14 says, “For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.”

As your creator, God custom designed you for a unique purpose. Spend time reading the Bible and talking to Him every day. As you learn more about His attributes, you will learn more about yourself. Pray also that Americans and the nation’s leaders acknowledge God’s character as they make personal and professional decisions.

Recommended Reading: Psalm 37:23-34

Greg Laurie – Three Vital Questions

 

“Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me? says the Lord, or what is the place of My rest? Has My hand not made all these things?”—Acts 7:49–50

Every thinking person gets around to asking the questions “Where did I come from?”, “Why am I here?”, and “Where am I going?” Science attempts to answer the first question, philosophy seeks to answer the second one, and Jesus has the answer to all three.

Where did I come from? We were created by God in His image. And we were created with a void in our lives that cannot be filled with anything this world has to offer. It can only be filled through a relationship with Him.

Why am I here? We are here to know the God who created us and to walk in fellowship with Him, discovering His unique plan for our lives.

Where am I going? Well, that is up to you. Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it” (Matthew 7:13).

Atheism has gained a little traction of late due to the popularity of books written by atheists. I don’t think most people are atheists, but some might describe themselves as agnostics. They won’t say there is a God, nor will they say there isn’t. They just don’t know.

Speaking in Athens, Paul said, “The One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands” (Acts 17:23–24). Paul was saying there is a God, and He is the Creator of all things.

If you believe that you evolved and came from nowhere and that your life has no eternal purpose, then you have no accounting to give to anyone. But there is a God who made you.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Fully Alive

The glory of God is the human person fully alive. I first read this quote by Irenaeus of Lyons while still a graduate student. In my early rendering of this evocative statement, I imagined people at play in a field of flowers, the sun shining brightly. Everyone is happy and smiling, laughing even, as they dance and play in the fields of the Lord. As I pictured it in my mind’s eye, the human person fully alive was a person alive to possibility, never-ending opportunities, and always happy. How could it not be with God’s glory as the enlivening force?

One author poses similarly in his commentary on Irenaeus’ statement:

“God’s intentions towards me might be better than I’d thought. His happiness and my happiness are tied together? My coming fully alive is what He’s committed to? That’s the offer of Christianity? Wow! I mean, it would make no small difference if we knew–and I mean really knew–that down-deep-in-your-toes kind of knowing that no one and nothing can talk you out of–if we knew that our lives and God’s glory were bound together. Things would start looking up. It would feel promising…the offer is life.”(1)

Despite my romantic imagination and the author’s exuberant interpretation, I am often perplexed as to just what “fully alive” looks like for many people in our world. How would this read to women in the Congo, for example, whose lives are torn apart by tribal war and violence against their own bodies? What would this mean to an acquaintance of mine who is a young father recently diagnosed with lymphoma? What about those who are depressed? Or who live with profound disabilities?

 

If feeling alive is only that God is happy when we are happy, then perhaps God is quite sad. Surely God’s glory is much larger than human happiness, isn’t it? Certainly, happiness is a gift and a blessing of the human experience, and for many it is there in abundance. Yet, are those who have reason for sorrow—those who do not find themselves amidst fields of flowers or bounty, those who have to work to find goodness—are they beyond the reflection of God’s glory?

The reality is that Irenaeus’ oft-used and oft-interpreted statement had a specific, apologetic context that was not really about human happiness. Irenaeus lived during a time when gnostic sects were trying to deny the real flesh and blood reality of Jesus. In their alternative view, only the spirit was redeemed, and the body should be ignored at best, or indulged at worst, since nothing regarding the body mattered. As a result, they denied the full humanity of Jesus. He could not have died a physical death on the cross, since he was merely an enlightened spirit, or some form of lesser deity. And he was certainly not one who would enter into the created world to take on the messy nature of life.(2)

When Irenaeus describes the glory of God as the human being fully alive he is correcting this aberrant and heretical notion that Jesus was not fully human. Irenaeus countered that in fact, the glory of God so inhabited this man from Nazareth that he was fully alive to all of what it meant to be human. Jesus experienced hunger, thirst, weariness, frustration, sorrow, and despair—and he experienced the joy and beauty that came from complete dependence on God. To be fully alive, as one sees in the life of Jesus, includes all human experience—the joys as well as the sorrows.

The journey through Holy Week for Christians around the world offers another picture of this reality. Holy Week includes Good Friday and Holy Saturday just as surely as it includes Easter morning. As Jesus experienced the miraculous new life of resurrection on Easter morning, he first experienced the sorrow of rejection, betrayal, and the physical brutality of crucifixion and death. Jesus lived the depths of the human experience as one of us.

Irenaeus’ continues his thought by saying: “[T]he life of man is the vision of God. If the revelation of God through creation already brings life to all living beings on the earth, how much more will the manifestation of the Father by the Word bring life to those who see God.”(3) Human beings are fully alive as they find life in this One who in his human life reveals both the eternal God and the vision of God for fully alive human beings. Certainly, our lives include events and seasons that we wish were not part of the fully alive human experience. But perhaps those who seek true life might recognize these appointments with both death and resurrection as an entryway into a deeper understanding of this human experience. And as that door is opened, we can be ushered into the deep and abiding fellowship of the Divine Community—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—not phantom spirits, not distant deities, but intimates to all that it means to be human.

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

(1) John Eldridge, Waking the Dead (Nashville: Thomas-Nelson Publishers, 2003), 12.
(2) Cyril Richardson ed., Early Christian Fathers (New York: Collier Books, 1970), 345.
(3) Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, (IV, 20, 7).

Charles Stanley – Telling It Like It Is

 

Matthew 10:32-33

Life often demands proof. Sometimes it seems that no matter what we say, people simply will not

believe us unless we can provide some definite verification. That can be a good thing when what you’re

sharing is the most important news in the world—and you have the evidence to back it up.

The news I’m talking about is the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. And the proof is your own personal

testimony.

Every single believer has an irrefutable account of how Christ saved him or her from sin. It is

disheartening when people downplay their faith story as boring or “ordinary.” How could this story ever

be ordinary? It isn’t just some narrative about how you spent your day; we’re talking about a

supernatural event. This is the chronicle of how Almighty God entered your heart. News like that is far

from boring.

Remember that no one can discount your testimony. It’s your own story—the truthful telling of how

God has worked in your life. A testimony is similar to a fingerprint: no two are the same. And regardless

of the details, no one can ever deny your own personal experience. Even if some people do not believe

in the power of Christ, they cannot refute what He has done in your life.

Boldly giving your testimony can be a challenge, especially if you’re not sure how your audience will

react. At such moments, however, know that your story will be something they’ve never heard before.

God gave you a special gift in your unique testimony. Are you sharing that gift with others?

 

Our Daily Bread — First Things First

 

1 Chronicles 28:5-10

Know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind. —1 Chronicles 28:9

When our granddaughter Sarah was very young, she told us she wanted to be a basketball coach like her daddy when she grew up. But she couldn’t be one yet, she said, because first she had to be a player; and a player has to be able to tie her shoelaces, and she couldn’t tie hers yet!

First things first, we say. And the first thing in all of life is to know God and enjoy Him.

Acknowledging and knowing God helps us to become what we were meant to be. Here is King David’s counsel to his son Solomon: “Know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind” (1 Chron. 28:9).

Remember, God can be known. He is a Person, not a logical or theological concept. He thinks, wills, enjoys, feels, loves, and desires as any person does. A. W. Tozer writes, “He is a person and can be known in increasing degrees of intimacy as we prepare our hearts for the wonder of it.” Ah, there’s the rub: We must “prepare our hearts.”

The Lord is not playing hard to know; those who want to know Him can. He will not foist His love on us, but He does wait patiently, for He wants to be known by you. Knowing Him is the first thing in life. —David Roper

He walks with me, and He talks with me,

And He tells me I am His own;

And the joys we share as we tarry there

None other has ever known.

—C. Austin Miles © Renewal 1940. The Rodeheaver Company

The thought of God staggers the mind but to know Him satisfies the heart.

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning “Strong in faith.” / Romans 4:20

Christian, take good care of thy faith; for recollect faith is the only way whereby thou canst obtain blessings. If we want blessings from God, nothing can fetch them down but faith. Prayer cannot draw down answers from God’s throne except it be the earnest prayer of the man who believes. Faith is the angelic messenger between the soul and the Lord Jesus in glory. Let that angel be withdrawn, we can neither send up prayer, nor receive the answers. Faith is the telegraphic wire which links earth and heaven–on which God’s messages of love fly so fast, that before we call he answers, and while we are yet speaking he hears us. But if that telegraphic wire of faith be snapped, how can we receive the promise? Am I in trouble?–I can obtain help for trouble by faith. Am I beaten about by the enemy?–my soul on her dear Refuge leans by faith. But take faith away–in vain I call to God. There is no road betwixt my soul and heaven. In the deepest wintertime faith is a road on which the horses of prayer may travel–aye, and all the better for the biting frost; but blockade the road, and how can we communicate with the Great King? Faith links me with divinity. Faith clothes me with the power of God. Faith engages on my side the omnipotence of Jehovah. Faith ensures every attribute of God in my defence. It helps me to defy the hosts of hell. It makes me march triumphant over the necks of my enemies. But without faith how can I receive anything of the Lord? Let not him that wavereth–who is like a wave of the Sea–expect that he will receive anything of God! O, then, Christian, watch well thy faith; for with it thou canst win all things, however poor thou art, but without it thou canst obtain nothing. “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”

 

 

Evening  “And she did eat, and was sufficed, and left.” / Ruth 2:14

Whenever we are privileged to eat of the bread which Jesus gives, we are, like Ruth, satisfied with the full and sweet repast. When Jesus is the host, no guest goes empty from the table. Our head is satisfied with the precious truth which Christ reveals; our heart is content with Jesus, as the altogether lovely object of affection; our hope is satisfied, for whom have we in heaven but Jesus? and our desire is satiated, for what can we wish for more than “to know Christ and to be found in him?” Jesus fills our conscience till it is at perfect peace; our judgment with persuasion of the certainty of his teachings; our memory with recollections of what he has done, and our imagination with the prospects of what he is yet to do. As Ruth was “sufficed, and left,” so is it with us. We have had deep draughts; we have thought that we could take in all of Christ; but when we have done our best we have had to leave a vast remainder. We have sat at the table of the Lord’s love, and said, “Nothing but the infinite can ever satisfy me; I am such a great sinner that I must have infinite merit to wash my sin away;” but we have had our sin removed, and found that there was merit to spare; we have had our hunger relieved at the feast of sacred love, and found that there was a redundance of spiritual meat remaining. There are certain sweet things in the Word of God which we have not enjoyed yet, and which we are obliged to leave for a while; for we are like the disciples to whom Jesus said, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” Yes, there are graces to which we have not attained; places of fellowship nearer to Christ which we have not reached; and heights of communion which our feet have not climbed. At every banquet of love there are many baskets of fragments left. Let us magnify the liberality of our glorious Boaz.

John MacArthur – Forsaking Self-Centered Prayer

 

“Thy kingdom come” (Matt. 6:10).

Attempting to explain all that is involved in the phrase “Thy kingdom come” is like a child standing on a beach attempting to scoop the entire ocean into a little pail. Only in eternity will we grasp all that it encompasses, but the poem “His Coming to Glory” by the nineteenth-century hymnwriter Frances Havergal captures its essence:

Oh the joy to see Thee reigning,

Thee, my own beloved Lord!

Every tongue Thy name confessing,

Worship, honor, glory, blessing

Brought to Thee with glad accord;

Thee, my Master and my Friend,

Vindicated and enthroned;

Unto earth’s remotest end

Glorified, adored, and owned.

Psalm 2:6-8 reflects the Father’s joy on that great day: “I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain. I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord; He said to Me, ‘Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Thine inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Thy possession.” God will give the kingdoms of the world to His Son, who will reign as King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16).

With that promise in mind, beware seeing prayer primarily as an opportunity to inform God of your own plans and to seek His help in fulfilling them. Instead, pray “Thy kingdom come,” which is a request for Christ to reign. In its fullest sense it is an affirmation that you are willing to relinquish the rule of your own life so the Holy Spirit can use you to promote the kingdom in whatever way He chooses.

That kind of prayer can be difficult because we tend to be preoccupied with ourselves. But concentrate on conforming your prayers to God’s purposes. Then you will be assured that you are praying according to His will.

Suggestions for Prayer:  Praise God for the hope of Christ’s future reign on earth.

Ask Him to use you today as a representative of His kingdom.

For Further Study: According to Ephesians 4:17-5:5, how should citizens of Christ’s kingdom behave?

 

Joyce Meyer – God Leads Us Gently

 

He will feed His flock like a shepherd: He will gather the lambs in His arm, He will carry them in His bosom and will gently lead those that have their young. —Isaiah 40:11

When God speaks to us and guides us, He doesn’t scream at us or push us in the direction in which He wants us to go. No, He leads us, like a gentle shepherd, inviting us to follow Him to greener pastures. He wants us to get to the point where we are so sensitive to His voice that even a little whisper of caution is enough to cause us to ask, “What are You saying here, Lord?” The minute we sense Him directing us to change what we are doing, we should promptly obey Him. If we sense a lack of peace concerning something we are doing, we should stop and seek God for His direction.

Proverbs 3:6 says that if we will acknowledge God in all our ways, He will direct our paths. Acknowledging God simply means having enough respect for Him, enough reverential fear and awe of Him, to care what He thinks of our every move.

A good way to start each day would be to pray:

“Lord, I care about what You think, and I don’t want to be doing things You don’t want me to do. If I start to do anything today that You don’t want me to do, please show me what it is so I can stop it, turn away from it, and do Your will instead. Amen.”

God’s word for you today: Care more about what God thinks than anything else.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Not Hard at All

 

“Loving God means doing what He tells us to do, and really that isn’t hard at all; for every child of God can obey Him, defeating sin and evil pleasure by trusting Christ to help him” (1 John 5:3,4).

I believe that we are on the threshold of witnessing the greatest spiritual revival in the history of the church. I believe that the Great Commission will indeed be fulfilled before the return of our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19,20).

Today, however, because of the subtle ways of the world system, there are more carnal Christians than at any other time in history. But the Bible tells us that the tide will turn and that the church will soon enter its finest hour.

We are beginning to see that turning of the tide. More and more Christians are discovering how to live supernaturally in the power and control of the Holy Spirit. The gospel is being spread throughout the world by many committed Christians who are determined, by faith, to help fulfill the Great Commission in this generation, whatever the cost.

I do not know anyone, however, who loves this world system who has ever been used of God in any significant way. There is nothing wrong with money and other material success. However, we are to wear the cloak of materialism loosely. We are to set our affection on Christ and His kingdom, not on the material things of this world.

The Lord left us with this wonderful promise…”every child of God can obey Him, defeating sin and evil pleasure by trusting Christ to help him”. Inviting Christ to help us is our decision to make. It is simply a matter of the will.

Bible Reading: I John 5:1-8

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will obey God and trust Christ to defeat sin and evil pleasure in my life, so that I can live a supernatural life and help take His gospel to all men throughout the world.

Presidential Prayer Team; C.P. – Timeless Love

 

After a prolonged process of tucking his two three-year-olds in bed, Steven Curtis Chapman felt impatient to get back to songwriting. As he shut the door, the Lord reminded him how quickly his oldest daughter Emily grew up. Steven felt bad for rushing his daughters, and knew this was an important message for parents. Steven wrote “Cinderella,” containing the words “the clock will strike midnight and she’ll be gone,” not knowing two years later his adopted daughter Maria Sue would be killed in an accident involving his 17-year-old-son, Will, as the driver. The first thing Steven said to him after the accident was, “Will Franklin, your father loves you.”

I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I John 2:14

Steven Curtis Chapman can relate to the pain the Heavenly Father experienced when He gave His Son on the cross, simultaneously loving the one who was killed and the one who was responsible. In today’s verse, John appeals to fathers to love others…knowing the Father’s timeless and passionate love.

As you daily relate to family, friends and acquaintances, remember God’s desire is to express His love through you. Ask the Lord to use you. Then pray the people of this nation and their leaders will know and live in the Father’s love.

Recommended Reading: John 3:16-21  Click to Read or Listen

Greg Laurie – Culturally Relevant

 

“His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him–though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ ”        —Acts 17:27–28

To reach people with the gospel, we must be culturally relevant. Sometimes we Christians can be paranoid when it comes to knowing anything about our culture. We don’t want to listen to secular music. We don’t want to watch any movies except Christian ones. But to reach someone, we need to know a little about them.

When the apostle Paul spoke at the Areopagus in Athens, he built a bridge with his audience before he brought the gospel message: “For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring’ ” (Acts 17:28). Paul began by quoting one of their Greek poets. He engaged them. He spoke in a language they understood.

I am not suggesting that we should compromise with people to share the gospel. Nor am I suggesting that we do things that violate what Scripture says. But I am saying that we have to go where people are, speak in a language they understand, and know a little bit about the culture around us so we can relate in an understandable way. And if Paul did this, then we need to do it as well.

Many churches today are out of touch with their culture. They are answering questions no one is asking, and they are not answering the questions that are being asked. We can’t expect a culture that knows very little about the Bible to understand the terminology we use. In fact, we can end a conversation before it even begins by insulting the people we speak with. We use language they don’t understand. We come off as arrogant or even condescending.

When Paul shared the gospel, he sought to build a bridge, not burn one. And we should do the same.

Max Lucado – Good Luck Charm

 

For some, Jesus is a good luck charm. The “Rabbit’s Foot” Redeemer. Pocket sized. Handy. His specialty?  Getting you out of a jam. Need a parking place?  Need help on a quiz?  Pull out the rabbit’s foot.  No need to have a relationship with Him.  No need to love Him.  New jobs. New and improved spouses. Your wish is His command. Few demands, no challenges.  No need for sacrifice. No need for commitment.

That’s not the Redeemer of the New Testament. When the disciples were in the storm, He rescued them. When the multitudes were hungry, He fed them. Prayer, service, and instruction all mattered to His ministry but they fell short of a higher call.

“The Son of Man” scripture says, “came to serve others and give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)  The Son of Man came to find lost people and save them!  Rabbit charm…hardly. Savior…absolutely!

Our Daily Bread — Can’t Do Everything

 

Galatians 6:1-10

Let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. —Galatians 6:4

Four-year-old Eliana was helping her mom pick up some of Eliana’s things before bedtime. When Mommy told her to put away the clothes on her bed, Eliana hit her limit. She turned around, put her little hands on her hips, and said, “I can’t do everything!”

Do you ever feel that way with the tasks God has called you to do? It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with church involvement, witnessing, and raising a family. We might sigh in exasperation and pray, “Lord, I can’t do everything!”

Yet God’s instructions indicate that His expectations are not overwhelming. For instance, as we deal with others, He gives us this qualifier: “As much as depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Rom. 12:18). God understands our limitations. Or this: “Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord” (Col. 3:23). He’s not asking for perfection that we might impress people, but simply to honor Him with the work we do. And one more: “Let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another” (Gal. 6:4). We are not doing our work as a competition with others, but simply to carry our own load.

In wisdom, God has equipped us to do just what He wants us to do—and that’s certainly not everything! —Dave Branon

He gives me work that I may seek His rest,

He gives me strength to meet the hardest test;

And as I walk in providential grace,

I find that joy goes with me, at God’s pace. —Gustafson

 

When God gives an assignment, it comes with His enablement.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Quiet Act of Attention

 

Wendell Berry has written a poem that haunts me frequently. As a creative writer, the act of paying attention is both a spiritual and professional discipline. But far too often my aspirations for paying quality attention to everything dissolves into something more like attention deficit disorder. As it turns out, it is quite possible to see and not really see, to hear and not really hear. And this is all the more ironic when my very attempts to capture what I am seeing and hearing are the thing that prevent me from truly being present. Berry’s poem is about a man on holiday, who, trying to seize the sights and sounds of his vacation by video camera, manages to miss the entire thing.

…he stood with his camera

preserving his vacation even as he was having it

so that after he had had it he would still

have it. It would be there. With a flick

of a switch, there it would be. But he

would not be in it. He would never be in it.(1)

I sometimes wonder if one of the most quoted sayings of Jesus is not often employed with a similar irony. “Consider the lilies,” Jesus said, “how they grow; they neither toil nor spin. Yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field…will he not much more clothe you? Therefore, do not worry” (Matthew 6:28-31). Typically, Jesus is quoted here as giving a helpful word against worry. And he is. But worry is not the only command he articulates here. Consider the lilies, he said. Many of us hear the first instruction peripherally, hurriedly, as mere set up for the final instruction of the saying. And in so doing, we miss something great, perhaps even something vital, both in the means and in the end. With our rationalistic sensibilities, we gloss over consideration of the lilies; ironically, in an attempt to consider the real work Jesus is describing.

But what if considering the lilies is the work, the antidote to anxious, preoccupied lives? What if attending to beauty, to the ephemeral, to the fleeting details of a distracted world is a command Jesus wants us to take seriously in and of itself?

It is with such a conviction that artist Makoto Fujimura not only paints, but elsewhere comments on Mary and her costly pouring of perfume on the feet of Jesus. The anger of Judas and the disgust of the others are all given in rational terms, the cacophony of their reactions (and likely ours) attempting to drown out her quiet act of attention:

That bottle would have cost over a year’s wages…

The poor could have used that money…

This sinful woman clings to a holy man’s feet…

Does he not see who it is who touches him?

Their responses to her and to her act of beauty exposes their own inattention to a world beyond the one they see—to their own peril. As Fujimura writes, “Pragmatism, legalism, and greed cannot comprehend the power of ephemeral beauty. The opposite of beauty is not ugliness; the opposite of beauty is legalism. Legalism is hard determinism that slowly strangles the soul. Legalism injures by giving pragmatic answers to our suffering.”(2) The corollary, of course, is that beauty can offer healing; that paying attention, even to fleeting glimpses of glory, is deeply restorative.

When Jesus asks the world quite counterculturally to consider the lilies, to consider beauty in the midst of all the ashes around us, his request is full of promise, for he is both the Source of beauty and its Subject. Paying attention to the ephemeral, being willing like Mary to risk and to recognize beauty, is in and of itself restorative because it is paying attention to him—to Christ—one easily dismissed, having no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him, one rationally rejected, having been struck down, afflicted, led like a lamb to slaughter.(3) Here, both the anxiety-addicted and the attention-overloaded can find solace in a different sort of kingdom: one in which there is room for the paradox of a fleeting world with eternity in its soul and in its soil, for death at a Roman cross to somehow be horrifically beautiful.

But perhaps Jesus also instructs the world to consider the lilies because it is characteristic of God’s concern for the world. The daily liturgy of lilies comes with unceasing care and attention for all who will see it, the gift of a God who revels in the creation of yet another flower, the details of another sunset, the discovery of even one lost soul. Consider the lilies; how they grow. They neither toil, nor spin.

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

(1) Wendell Berry, “The Vacation,” Selected Poems, (Berkeley: Counterpoint, 1998), 157.

(2) Makoto Mujimura, “The Beautiful Tears,” Tabletalk, September, 2010.

(3) Isaiah 53:2.

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning  “Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” / Galatians 3:26

The fatherhood of God is common to all his children. Ah! Little-faith, you have often said, “Oh that I had the courage of Great-heart, that I could wield his sword and be as valiant as he! But, alas, I stumble at every straw, and a shadow makes me afraid.” List thee, Little-faith. Great-heart is God’s child, and you are God’s child too; and Great-heart is not one whit more God’s child than you are. Peter and Paul, the highly-favoured apostles, were of the family of the Most High; and so are you also; the weak Christian is as much a child of God as the strong one.

“This cov’nant stands secure,

Though earth’s old pillars bow;

The strong, the feeble, and the weak,

Are one in Jesus now.”

All the names are in the same family register. One may have more grace than another, but God our heavenly Father has the same tender heart towards all. One may do more mighty works, and may bring more glory to his Father, but he whose name is the least in the kingdom of heaven is as much the child of God as he who stands among the King’s mighty men. Let this cheer and comfort us, when we draw near to God and say, “Our Father.”  Yet, while we are comforted by knowing this, let us not rest contented with weak faith, but ask, like the Apostles, to have it increased. However feeble our faith may be, if it be real faith in Christ, we shall reach heaven at last, but we shall not honour our Master much on our pilgrimage, neither shall we abound in joy and peace. If then you would live to Christ’s glory, and be happy in his service, seek to be filled with the spirit of adoption more and more completely, till perfect love shall cast out fear.

 

Evening  “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you.” / John 15:9

As the Father loves the Son, in the same manner Jesus loves his people. What is that divine method? He loved him without beginning, and thus Jesus loves his members. “I have loved thee with an everlasting love.” You can trace the beginning of human affection; you can easily find the beginning of your love to Christ, but his love to us is a stream whose source is hidden in eternity. God the Father loves Jesus without any change. Christian, take this for your comfort, that there is no change in Jesus Christ’s love to those who rest in him. Yesterday you were on Tabor’s top, and you said, “He loves me:” today you are in the valley of humiliation, but he loves you still the same. On the hill Mizar, and among the Hermons, you heard his voice, which spake so sweetly with the turtle-notes of love; and now on the sea, or even in the sea, when all his waves and billows go over you, his heart is faithful to his ancient choice. The Father loves the Son without any end, and thus does the Son love his people. Saint, thou needest not fear the loosing of the silver cord, for his love for thee will never cease. Rest confident that even down to the grave Christ will go with you, and that up again from it he will be your guide to the celestial hills. Moreover, the Father loves the Son without any measure, and the same immeasurable love the Son bestows upon his chosen ones. The whole heart of Christ is dedicated to his people. He “loved us and gave himself for us.” His is a love which passeth knowledge. Ah! we have indeed an immutable Saviour, a precious Saviour, one who loves without measure, without change, without beginning, and without end, even as the Father loves him! There is much food here for those who know how to digest it. May the Holy Ghost lead us into its marrow and fatness!

John MacArthur – Praying for Christ’s Rule

 

“Thy kingdom come” (Matt. 6:10).

When we hear the word kingdom we tend to think of medieval castles, kings, knights, and the like. But “kingdom” in Matthew 6:10 translates a Greek word that means “rule” or “reign.” We could translate the phrase, “Thy reign come.” That gives a clearer sense of what Christ meant. He prayed that God’s rule would be as apparent on earth as it is in heaven.

God’s kingdom was the central issue in Christ’s ministry. He proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 4:23) and instructed His followers to make the kingdom a priority in their own lives (Matt. 6:33). He told parables about its character and value (Matt. 13) and indicted the scribes and Pharisees for hindering those who sought to enter it (Matt. 23:13). After His death and resurrection, He appeared for forty days giving the disciples further instruction about the kingdom (Acts 1:2-3).

When we pray “Thy kingdom come,” we are praying for Christ’s sovereign rule to be as established on earth as it is in heaven. In one sense the kingdom is already here–in the hearts of believers. It consists of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17). But in another sense the kingdom is yet future. In Luke 17:21 Jesus says, “Behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst” (cf. John 18:36). Their King was present but they rejected Him. Someday He will return again to establish His kingdom on earth and personally reign over it. That’s the aspect of the kingdom we pray for in Matthew 6:10.

Sin and rebellion are now rampant, but when Christ’s kingdom comes, they will be done away with (Rev. 20:7-9). In the meantime, the work of the kingdom continues and you have the privilege of promoting it through your prayers and faithful ministry. Take every opportunity to do so today and rejoice in the assurance that Christ will someday reign in victory and will be glorified for all eternity.

Suggestions for Prayer: Praise God for the glorious future that awaits you and all believers.

Pray with anticipation for the coming of Christ’s eternal kingdom.

For Further Study:  Read Matthew 13:1-52. What parables did Jesus use to instruct His disciples about the kingdom of heaven?

Joyce Meyer – Seek God All the Time

 

Keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you. —Matthew 7:7

In 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast to show his sincerity to God. Missing a few meals and taking that time to seek God is not a bad idea. Turning the television off and spending the time you would normally spend watching it with God is not a bad idea either. Stay home a few evenings and spend extra time with the Lord instead of going out with your friends and repeating your problem over and over to them. These things and others show that we know hearing from God is vital.

I have learned the word seek means to pursue, crave, and go after with all your might. In other words, we act like a starving man in search of food to keep us alive. I would also like to add that we need to seek God all the time not just when we are in trouble. Once God spoke to me that the reason so many people had problems all the time was because that was the only time they would seek Him. He showed me that if He removed the problems, He would not get any time with the people. He said, “Seek Me as if you were desperate all the time and then you won’t find yourself desperate as often in reality.” I think this is good advice, and I highly recommend that we all follow it.