Tag Archives: spirituality

The Spirit That Conquers – Charles Stanley

 

Philippians 3: 7-14

Paul was a man with a spirit that conquered. Throughout his ministry, he faced countless obstacles but never gave up. He pictured the Christian life as a race, and we each need this same kind of spirit if we hope to finish well.

Courage: A conquering spirit is willing to risk failure. Though we naturally want to appear strong and capable, God delights in empowering us in our weaknesses so He gets the glory.

Confidence: We’re likely to stumble when we doubt our ability to do what God requires. However, when our confidence is placed in the Lord instead of in ourselves, we can move ahead, knowing that He’ll enable us to do His will.

Commitment: The Lord promises to: guide us as we run the race; provide whatever is needed; and strengthen us along the way. However, we must be committed to Him and determined to carry out His will.

Persistence: The road we’re traveling is full of distractions, opposition, and obstacles that tempt us to give up. That’s why Paul advises us to “press on” through hardships toward that which is of eternal value (v. 14).

Forward Focus: We must also forget what lies behind and reach forward to what lies ahead (v. 13). Those weighed down by baggage from the past lose sight of the goal.

The key to success in this race is an all-consuming desire to reach the goal. If we find no value in the prize, we’ll readily give up along the way and settle for the immediate gratification the world offers. But if we understand what awaits us at the finish line in heaven, we’ll press on.

Getting to Know Christ Intimately – Charles Stanley

 

Philippians 3:12-21

No matter where you are in your walk with Christ, it’s never too late to begin pursuing a deeper relationship with Him. Whether you’re already passionate about Jesus or know Him only on a surface level, everyone is welcome to join Paul and “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). To get started, follow these six steps:

Study Scripture. No one can know God apart from His Word since He speaks to us through it, revealing who He is and what He does.

Be willing to spend time alone with the Lord in prayer, meditation, and worship. One of the biggest reasons Christians don’t have a close relationship with Jesus is that they’re unwilling to invest the time needed to get to know Him intimately.

Trust the Lord. The depth of any relationship depends on the level of trust.

Obey Him. As we take each step of obedience, God reveals more of Himself.

Observe how Christ works in your life. By paying attention to how the Lord operates, you’ll become familiar with His ways and goals.

Make Jesus your top priority. Be willing to lay aside anything that competes with your loyalty and devotion to Him.

Knowing Christ intimately is an attainable goal. The key is persistence, so forget past failures and press on. Find an example to follow. My grandfather’s relationship with Jesus was the inspiration for my journey of intimacy with Christ. I knew if he had that kind of relationship with Jesus, so could I.

Into the World as We Know It – Ravi Zacharias

 

Garrison Keillor’s description of Aunt Marie is one I have not been able to shake this season. Repeatedly, she has come to mind in discordant moments of Christmas preparation, somewhere between errands at the mall and lyrics that put a stop to them. “Long lay the world in sin and error pining,/ Till he appeared, and the soul felt its worth.” No description of the Incarnation more readily makes the common stressors of Christmas seem less important. And yet, Aunt Marie, with her “fat little legs” and “her heavy, fur-collared coat,” has made a serious attempt to wrestle me back down to a sad, human, earthly reality. Keillor writes:

“She knew that death was only a door to the kingdom where Jesus would welcome her, there would be no crying there, no suffering, but meanwhile she was fat, her heart hurt, and she lived alone with her ill-tempered little dogs, tottering around her dark little house full of Chinese figurines and old Sunday Tribunes. She complained about nobody loving her or wanting her or inviting her to their house for dinner anymore. She sat eating pork roast, mashed potato, creamed asparagus, one Sunday at our house when she said it. We were talking about a trip to the North Shore and suddenly she broke into tears and cried, ‘You don’t care about me. You say you do but you don’t. If I died tomorrow, I don’t know as you’d even go to my funeral.’ I was six. I said, cheerfully, ‘I’d come to your funeral,’ looking at my fat aunt, her blue dress, her string of pearls, her red rouge, the powder on her nose, her mouth full of pork roast, her eyes full of tears.”(1)

Christmas has reminded us what many of us already know: that the world is waiting, groaning for more, longing for redemption, for peace on earth and goodwill to humanity, for release from darkness and sin and loneliness and disillusionment, for God to come near to the world as we know it. Like Aunt Marie, this waiting is sometimes fraught with discomfort; we wait, and we sense a lonely, earthly reality. But Advent forces the experience of waiting into a different light. Our waiting need not be dehumanizing, dispiriting, as waiting often feels.

The New Testament describes it quite differently—not as a difficult means to a better end, but as part of the promise itself. Eugene Peterson writes, “Waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.”(2) Waiting itself is, of course, a reminder that we are earthbound.

But so is Christ.

The Christian’s celebration of Christmas is the assurance that we wait with good reason. “The word became flesh,” wrote John, “and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). God did not merely come near, he became flesh that could touch weaknesses, experience loneliness, and encounter the lowest moments of being human. He came to be with us, to move through us, to work within us. He came as small and vulnerable as humans come, getting close enough to bear the scars of our outrage and near enough to prove he would stay regardless. He came far nearer than Aunt Marie—or most of us—are yet able to recognize. “That is what incarnation means,” writes Frederick Buechner. “It is untheological. It is unsophisticated. It is undignified. But according to Christianity, it is the way things are. All religions and philosophies that deny the reality or the significance of the material, the fleshly, the earthbound, are themselves denied.”(3)

God became one of us, not to erase every shadow or to undo the difficulties of humanity, but to be with us in the midst of it, to transform our spectrum of darkness by bearing a truer depth of light, and to enlarge us with the joy of expectancy until the fullness of time when every hope has come to pass.

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

(1) Garrison Keillor, Leaving Home (New York: Viking, 1987), xxi-xxii.

(2) Eugene Peterson, The Message, Romans 8:24-25.

(3) Frederick Buechner, Beyond Words (New York: Harper Collins, 2004), 169.

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning   “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying,

if any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.” / John 7:37

Patience had her perfect work in the Lord Jesus, and until the last day of the

feast he pleaded with the Jews, even as on this last day of the year he pleads

with us, and waits to be gracious to us. Admirable indeed is the longsuffering

of the Saviour in bearing with some of us year after year, notwithstanding our

provocations, rebellions, and resistance of his Holy Spirit. Wonder of wonders

that we are still in the land of mercy!

Pity expressed herself most plainly, for Jesus cried, which implies not only

the loudness of his voice, but the tenderness of his tones. He entreats us to

be reconciled. “We pray you,” says the Apostle, “as though God did beseech you

by us.” What earnest, pathetic terms are these! How deep must be the love

which makes the Lord weep over sinners, and like a mother woo his children to

his bosom! Surely at the call of such a cry our willing hearts will come.

Provision is made most plenteously; all is provided that man can need to

quench his soul’s thirst. To his conscience the atonement brings peace; to his

understanding the gospel brings the richest instruction; to his heart the

person of Jesus is the noblest object of affection; to the whole man the truth

as it is in Jesus supplies the purest nutriment. Thirst is terrible, but Jesus

can remove it. Though the soul were utterly famished, Jesus could restore it.

Proclamation is made most freely, that every thirsty one is welcome. No other

distinction is made but that of thirst. Whether it be the thirst of avarice,

ambition, pleasure, knowledge, or rest, he who suffers from it is invited. The

thirst may be bad in itself, and be no sign of grace, but rather a mark of

inordinate sin longing to be gratified with deeper draughts of lust; but it is

not goodness in the creature which brings him the invitation, the Lord Jesus

sends it freely, and without respect of persons.

Personality is declared most fully. The sinner must come to Jesus, not to

works, ordinances, or doctrines, but to a personal Redeemer, who his own self

bare our sins in his own body on the tree. The bleeding, dying, rising

Saviour, is the only star of hope to a sinner. Oh for grace to come now and

drink, ere the sun sets upon the year’s last day!

No waiting or preparation is so much as hinted at. Drinking represents a

reception for which no fitness is required. A fool, a thief, a harlot can

drink; and so sinfulness of character is no bar to the invitation to believe

in Jesus. We want no golden cup, no bejewelled chalice, in which to convey the

water to the thirsty; the mouth of poverty is welcome to stoop down and quaff

the flowing flood. Blistered, leprous, filthy lips may touch the stream of

divine love; they cannot pollute it, but shall themselves be purified. Jesus

is the fount of hope. Dear reader, hear the dear Redeemer’s loving voice as he

cries to each of us,

 

“IF ANY MAN THIRST, LET HIM COME UNTO ME AND DRINK.”

 

Evening “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” / Jeremiah

8:20

Not saved! Dear reader, is this your mournful plight? Warned of the judgment

to come, bidden to escape for your life, and yet at this moment not saved! You

know the way of salvation, you read it in the Bible, you hear it from the

pulpit, it is explained to you by friends, and yet you neglect it, and

therefore you are not saved. You will be without excuse when the Lord shall

judge the quick and dead. The Holy Spirit has given more or less of blessing

upon the word which has been preached in your hearing, and times of refreshing

have come from the divine presence, and yet you are without Christ. All these

hopeful seasons have come and gone–your summer and your harvest have

past–and yet you are not saved. Years have followed one another into

eternity, and your last year will soon be here: youth has gone, manhood is

going, and yet you are not saved. Let me ask you–will you ever be saved? Is

there any likelihood of it? Already the most propitious seasons have left you

unsaved; will other occasions alter your condition? Means have failed with

you–the best of means, used perseveringly and with the utmost affection–what

more can be done for you? Affliction and prosperity have alike failed to

impress you; tears and prayers and sermons have been wasted on your barren

heart. Are not the probabilities dead against your ever being saved? Is it not

more than likely that you will abide as you are till death forever bars the

door of hope? Do you recoil from the supposition? Yet it is a most reasonable

one: he who is not washed in so many waters will in all probability go filthy

to his end. The convenient time never has come, why should it ever come? It is

logical to fear that it never will arrive, and that Felix like, you will find

no convenient season till you are in hell. O bethink you of what that hell is,

and of the dread probability that you will soon be cast into it!

Reader, suppose you should die unsaved, your doom no words can picture. Write

out your dread estate in tears and blood, talk of it with groans and gnashing

of teeth: you will be punished with everlasting destruction from the glory of

the Lord, and from the glory of his power. A brother’s voice would fain

startle you into earnestness. O be wise, be wise in time, and ere another year

begins, believe in Jesus, who is able to save to the uttermost. Consecrate

these last hours to lonely thought, and if deep repentance be bred in you, it

will be well; and if it lead to a humble faith in Jesus, it will be best of

all. O see to it that this year pass not away, and you an unforgiven spirit.

Let not the new year’s midnight peals sound upon a joyless spirit! Now, now,

NOW believe, and live.

Loving Your Child – Charles Stanley

 

As parents, we want our children to love us, spend time with us, talk with us, and stay close to us for as long as we live. More importantly, we would like them to want to do those things. But if we don’t love them unconditionally now, it’s unlikely they will remain nearby in the future.

“But aren’t I responsible to help them develop to their fullest potential?” you might ask. “Are there not times when I need to push a little?”

Absolutely! In fact, motivating your children to excellence and improvement is part of expressing unconditional love and acceptance to them. To allow kids simply to get by in life is a form of covert rejection.

If you want to motivate your children without expressing an attitude of conditional acceptance, two things must be true:

First, all your prodding and exhortation must be preceded by demonstrations of unconditional love for them. There must be memorials, so to speak, to their worthiness in your eyes. By “memorials,” I mean prior events or conversations that have clearly expressed your love.

Memorials are beneficial because they give your children something to recall for reassurance when you pressure them to perform. Sometimes your expectations will be too high, and they will fail. Without reminders of your unconditional acceptance, children might fear your disappointment and rejection.

Memorials can also take the form of a gift or even the bestowal of certain privileges. In presenting the gift, stress several times that it is not connected with any particular occasion or action on their part; you are giving simply because you love them.

• Second, to properly motivate your child, you must measure him by his own ability, not somebody else’s. Comparing one child’s performance to that of another eventually destroys self-esteem, expressions of individuality, and creativity.

The real key here is to view each of your children as a unique individual. Every young person is gifted in some particular way. Your goal as a parent is to recognize that area of strength and emphasize it as your child develops, for within these strengths is his or her greatest potential for excellence. By cultivating these strengths, you will also do great things for your children’s self-esteem.

When I was growing up, I didn’t do so well in high school. Everything turned out okay, but I didn’t have a good start. As a result, I never told my kids that I expected them to make As or Bs while they were in school. I didn’t tell them they had to make the baseball team or be the most popular. Instead, my question to them was, “Did you do your best?”

One good way to find out whether or not your children feel unconditional acceptance is simply to ask them, “What do you think it would take for you to make Mom and Dad as proud of you as we could possibly be?”

Evaluate the answer carefully. Is it task-oriented? Do they feel they must do all their chores every day or be straight-A students? Do they feel obligated to make a team or squad, or perform some other task to win your approval?

Perhaps the answer is more character-related. Do your children believe that doing their best at every task they undertake is what would please you? Do they know you would be proud of them for obeying God, regardless of the cost?

Their reply will give you insight into what you’ve actually communicated, regardless of what you have said. The value system you establish will serve as a basis upon which they accept themselves and others.

Simply telling your children that you accept them unconditionally is not enough. The apostle John wrote, “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18 NKJV). Unconditional love and acceptance are communicated more clearly by what we do and how we do it than simply by what we say.

Our children must have a backlog of memories to sustain their belief that we truly love them, no matter what. Such love tells our sons and daughters that we accept them for who they are—despite what they do. What a sense of security and acceptance this gives them!

Do you want to encourage your kids to succeed? You don’t need to push expectations on them. If we direct their focus to the Lord, then they will want to be obedient and do their best for Him.

Never take for granted the impact that you have on their lives. Remember, the way you act toward your kids today greatly influences the way they will respond to you tomorrow.

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning   “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof.” / Ecclesiastes 7:8

Look at David’s Lord and Master; see his beginning. He was despised and

rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Would you see the

end? He sits at his Father’s right hand, expecting until his enemies be made

his footstool. “As he is, so are we also in this world.” You must bear the

cross, or you shall never wear the crown; you must wade through the mire, or

you shall never walk the golden pavement. Cheer up, then, poor Christian.

“Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof.” See that creeping

worm, how contemptible its appearance! It is the beginning of a thing. Mark

that insect with gorgeous wings, playing in the sunbeams, sipping at the

flower bells, full of happiness and life; that is the end thereof. That

caterpillar is yourself, until you are wrapped up in the chrysalis of death;

but when Christ shall appear you shall be like him, for you shall see him as

he is. Be content to be like him, a worm and no man, that like him you may be

satisfied when you wake up in his likeness. That rough-looking diamond is put

upon the wheel of the lapidary. He cuts it on all sides. It loses much–much

that seemed costly to itself. The king is crowned; the diadem is put upon the

monarch’s head with trumpet’s joyful sound. A glittering ray flashes from that

coronet, and it beams from that very diamond which was just now so sorely

vexed by the lapidary. You may venture to compare yourself to such a diamond,

for you are one of God’s people; and this is the time of the cutting process.

Let faith and patience have their perfect work, for in the day when the crown

shall be set upon the head of the King, Eternal, Immortal, Invisible, one ray

of glory shall stream from you. “They shall be mine,” saith the Lord, “in the

day when I make up my jewels.” “Better is the end of a thing than the

beginning thereof.”

 

Evening  “Knowest thou not that it will be bitterness in the latter end?” / 2 Samuel

2:26

If, O my reader! thou art merely a professor, and not a possessor of the faith

that is in Christ Jesus, the following lines are a true ketch of thine end.

You are a respectable attendant at a place of worship; you go because others

go, not because your heart is right with God. This is your beginning. I will

suppose that for the next twenty or thirty years you will be spared to go on

as you do now, professing religion by an outward attendance upon the means of

grace, but having no heart in the matter. Tread softly, for I must show you

the deathbed of such a one as yourself. Let us gaze upon him gently. A clammy

sweat is on his brow, and he wakes up crying, “O God, it is hard to die. Did

you send for my minister?” “Yes, he is coming.” The minister comes. “Sir, I

fear that I am dying!” “Have you any hope?” “I cannot say that I have. I fear

to stand before my God; oh! pray for me.” The prayer is offered for him with

sincere earnestness, and the way of salvation is for the ten-thousandth time

put before him, but before he has grasped the rope, I see him sink. I may put

my finger upon those cold eyelids, for they will never see anything here

again. But where is the man, and where are the man’s true eyes? It is written,

“In hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torment.” Ah! why did he not lift up

his eyes before? Because he was so accustomed to hear the gospel that his soul

slept under it. Alas! if you should lift up your eyes there, how bitter will

be your wailings. Let the Saviour’s own words reveal the woe: “Father Abraham,

send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my

tongue, for I am tormented in this flame.” There is a frightful meaning in

those words. May you never have to spell it out by the red light of Jehovah’s

wrath!

Satan’s Conqueror – John MacArthur

 

“Since . . . the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Heb. 2:14-15).

To be free to live with God and share in all His blessings, someone had to shatter Satan’s death grip on us. Sin is what gives Satan his powerful hold on us, but the power itself is death.

Satan knew that God required death for us because of sin. He knew that all died in Adam–that death became a certain fact of life. And he knew that men, if they remained as they were, would die and go out of God’s presence into hell forever. So he wants to hang onto men until they die because once they are dead, the opportunity for salvation is gone forever.

To wrest the power of death from Satan’s hand, God sent Christ into the world. If you have a greater weapon than your enemy, then his weapon is useless. You can’t fight a machine gun with a bow and arrow. Satan’s weapon is death, but eternal life is God’s weapon, and with it Jesus destroyed death.

How was He able to do it? He rose again, proving He had conquered death. That’s why He said, “Because I live, you shall live also” (John 14:19). His resurrection provides the believer with eternal life.

Nothing terrifies people more than the fear of death. But when we receive Christ, death in reality holds no more fear for us since it simply releases us into the presence of our Lord. We can say with Paul, “To me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). Rejoice that you have placed your hand into the hand of the conqueror of death, who will lead you through death and out the other side.

Suggestion for Prayer: Ask God to give you a greater realization that He has conquered death to help you live life more fully to His glory.

For Further Study: Read 1 Corinthians 15:50-58. How are we to live our lives based on what we know about death?

A Passion to Know Christ – Charles Stanley

 

Philippians 3:3-11

Most believers know the essential facts about their Savior’s life, but few know Him well relationally. They’re so busy with activities and pursuits that they rarely think of Jesus until a desperate situation arises.

Yet those who know the Lord intimately have a continually deepening relationship with Him. He’s their top priority, and every possession, accomplishment, or pursuit is worthless compared to knowing Him. Consider the results of making Christ the passion of your life (Phil. 3:8-10):

Increasing hunger: “that I may gain Christ.” Even though Paul had an amazing relationship with Jesus, his passion was so great that he wanted to know Him more.

Changed life: “the righteousness which comes from God.” The more we know Christ, the more we’ll mature spiritually and display His righteousness.

Increased capability: “the power of His resurrection.” The Spirit’s power flows through those intimately related to Jesus.

New perspective: “the fellowship of His sufferings.” When we understand Christ, we recognize the benefits He works in us through our suffering.

Victorious living: “being conformed to His death.” Christians who know Jesus intimately count themselves dead to the sins that once dominated their lives.

Is your life characterized by a deep, abiding passion for Christ, or is your relationship with Him shallow and mechanical? Believers must not let the pleasures, opportunities, and responsibilities of this world rob them of the treasure of knowing Jesus. It’s time to count it all as loss and pursue Christ.

Memory Full! – Greg Laurie

 

My computer screen flashes a little warning sign on those occasions when I try to load too much information onto my hard drive. It tells me my memory is full—it has no more room for any more information.

In a similar way, if we would fill our hearts and minds with God’s Word, then when the devil comes with his perverse thoughts and ungodly schemes, he will see a sign that notifies him that our memory is full. It is so important for us to fill our minds and hearts with the Word of God!

Certainly it is good to carry a Bible in your briefcase, pocket, or purse; but the best place to carry the Bible is in your heart. It is good to go through the Word of God, but it is better for the Word of God to go through you. It is great to mark your Bible, but it is best if your Bible marks you. It must affect the way you live.

The Bible tells us to store up its words in our hearts, teach them to our children, and write them down (Deuteronomy 11:18-20). Memorizing a verse may not feel like a supernatural experience, but it is an important discipline. That is why the Lord told Joshua to meditate on His Word “day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8).

When you store the Word of God in your memory, the next time you face a difficult situation, suddenly that verse will come to you with freshness from the very throne of God. It will speak to your situation and strengthen your heart.

So get God’s Word into your heart and mind! And put it into practice.

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning   “The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of

God.” / Galatians 2:20

When the Lord in mercy passed by and saw us in our blood, he first of all

said, “Live;” and this he did first, because life is one of the absolutely

essential things in spiritual matters, and until it be bestowed we are

incapable of partaking in the things of the kingdom. Now the life which grace

confers upon the saints at the moment of their quickening is none other than

the life of Christ, which, like the sap from the stem, runs into us, the

branches, and establishes a living connection between our souls and Jesus.

Faith is the grace which perceives this union, having proceeded from it as its

firstfruit. It is the neck which joins the body of the Church to its

all-glorious Head.

“Oh Faith! thou bond of union with the Lord,

Is not this office thine? and thy fit name,

In the economy of gospel types,

And symbols apposite–the Church’s neck;

Identifying her in will and work

With him ascended?”

Faith lays hold upon the Lord Jesus with a firm and determined grasp. She

knows his excellence and worth, and no temptation can induce her to repose her

trust elsewhere; and Christ Jesus is so delighted with this heavenly grace,

that he never ceases to strengthen and sustain her by the loving embrace and

all-sufficient support of his eternal arms. Here, then, is established a

living, sensible, and delightful union which casts forth streams of love,

confidence, sympathy, complacency, and joy, whereof both the bride and

bridegroom love to drink. When the soul can evidently perceive this oneness

between itself and Christ, the pulse may be felt as beating for both, and the

one blood as flowing through the veins of each. Then is the heart as near

heaven as it can be on earth, and is prepared for the enjoyment of the most

sublime and spiritual kind of fellowship.

 

Evening   “I came not to send peace on earth, but a sword.” / Matthew 10:34

The Christian will be sure to make enemies. It will be one of his objects to

make none; but if to do the right, and to believe the true, should cause him

to lose every earthly friend, he will count it but a small loss, since his

great Friend in heaven will be yet more friendly, and reveal himself to him

more graciously than ever. O ye who have taken up his cross, know ye not what

your Master said? “I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and

the daughter against her mother; and a man’s foes shall be they of his own

household.” Christ is the great Peacemaker; but before peace, he brings war.

Where the light cometh, the darkness must retire. Where truth is, the lie must

flee; or, if it abideth, there must be a stern conflict, for the truth cannot

and will not lower its standard, and the lie must be trodden under foot. If

you follow Christ, you shall have all the dogs of the world yelping at your

heels. If you would live so as to stand the test of the last tribunal, depend

upon it the world will not speak well of you. He who has the friendship of the

world is an enemy to God; but if you are true and faithful to the Most High,

men will resent your unflinching fidelity, since it is a testimony against

their iniquities. Fearless of all consequences, you must do the right. You

will need the courage of a lion unhesitatingly to pursue a course which shall

turn your best friend into your fiercest foe; but for the love of Jesus you

must thus be courageous. For the truth’s sake to hazard reputation and

affection, is such a deed that to do it constantly you will need a degree of

moral principle which only the Spirit of God can work in you; yet turn not

your back like a coward, but play the man. Follow right manfully in your

Master’s steps, for he has traversed this rough way before you. Better a brief

warfare and eternal rest, than false peace and everlasting torment.

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning   “Can the rush grow up without mire?” / Job 8:11

The rush is spongy and hollow, and even so is a hypocrite; there is no

substance or stability in him. It is shaken to and fro in every wind just as

formalists yield to every influence; for this reason the rush is not broken by

the tempest, neither are hypocrites troubled with persecution. I would not

willingly be a deceiver or be deceived; perhaps the text for this day may help

me to try myself whether I be a hypocrite or no. The rush by nature lives in

water, and owes its very existence to the mire and moisture wherein it has

taken root; let the mire become dry, and the rush withers very quickly. Its

greenness is absolutely dependent upon circumstances, a present abundance of

water makes it flourish, and a drought destroys it at once. Is this my case?

Do I only serve God when I am in good company, or when religion is profitable

and respectable? Do I love the Lord only when temporal comforts are received

from his hands? If so I am a base hypocrite, and like the withering rush, I

shall perish when death deprives me of outward joys. But can I honestly assert

that when bodily comforts have been few, and my surroundings have been rather

adverse to grace than at all helpful to it, I have still held fast my

integrity? Then have I hope that there is genuine vital godliness in me. The

rush cannot grow without mire, but plants of the Lord’s right hand planting

can and do flourish even in the year of drought. A godly man often grows best

when his worldly circumstances decay. He who follows Christ for his bag is a

Judas; they who follow for loaves and fishes are children of the devil; but

they who attend him out of love to himself are his own beloved ones. Lord, let

me find my life in thee, and not in the mire of this world’s favour or gain.

 

Evening   “And the Lord shall guide thee continually.” / Isaiah 58:11

“The Lord shall guide thee.” Not an angel, but Jehovah shall guide thee. He

said he would not go through the wilderness before his people, an angel should

go before them to lead them in the way; but Moses said, “If thy presence go

not with me, carry us not up hence.” Christian, God has not left you in your

earthly pilgrimage to an angel’s guidance: he himself leads the van. You may

not see the cloudy, fiery pillar, but Jehovah will never forsake you. Notice

the word shall–“The Lord shall guide thee.” How certain this makes it! How

sure it is that God will not forsake us! His precious “shalls” and “wills” are

better than men’s oaths. “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Then

observe the adverb continually. We are not merely to be guided sometimes, but

we are to have a perpetual monitor; not occasionally to be left to our own

understanding, and so to wander, but we are continually to hear the guiding

voice of the Great Shepherd; and if we follow close at his heels, we shall not

err, but be led by a right way to a city to dwell in. If you have to change

your position in life; if you have to emigrate to distant shores; if it should

happen that you are cast into poverty, or uplifted suddenly into a more

responsible position than the one you now occupy; if you are thrown among

strangers, or cast among foes, yet tremble not, for “the Lord shall guide thee

continually.” There are no dilemmas out of which you shall not be delivered if

you live near to God, and your heart be kept warm with holy love. He goes not

amiss who goes in the company of God. Like Enoch, walk with God, and you

cannot mistake your road. You have infallible wisdom to direct you, immutable

love to comfort you, and eternal power to defend you. “Jehovah”–mark the

word–“Jehovah shall guide thee continually.”

Treasures in Darkness – Ravi Zacharias

 

Those of us who make our home in the Northern Hemisphere must welcome the encroaching darkness of the winter months. At the height of winter in Kotzebue, Alaska, for example, daylight is but a mere two hours. Where I live, the light begins to recede around 4:30 PM. When the winter sun is out it simply rides the southern horizon with a distant, hazy glow.

Perhaps it seems strange to some, but I love the shorter-days and the darkening skies of winter. For me, the darkness of winter invokes nostalgia for the days of huddling around the fireplace with hot coffee and curling up with a good book. Indeed, there are some gifts that can only be enjoyed in the darkness of winter and in this season of lessening light.

Of course, darkness and night evoke ominous images as well. Pre-Christian inhabitants of the Northern Hemisphere—who did not separate natural phenomenon from their religious and spiritual understanding—saw the departing sunlight as the fleeing away of what they believed was the Sun God. Darkness indicated a loss of hope, absence and cessation of life.(1) Like it did for these ancient peoples, darkness creates fear. We are afraid of what we cannot see in the dark, and what is seen inhabits the mysterious realm of shadows. Darkness has always represented chaos, evil, and death, and therefore is rarely thought of in either romantic or nostalgic terms.

For many individuals—even those who live in sun-filled hemispheres—the darkness of life is a daily nightmare. Despair, chronic loneliness, doubt, and isolation conspire to prevent even the dimmest light. The darkness that comes only as a visitor during the night is for many a perpetual reality. Is there any reason to hope that the light might be found even in these dark places? Are there any gifts that can be received here?

It is not by accident that the season of Advent coincides with the earthly season of fading light and increasing darkness. With its focus on waiting, repentance, and longing, Christians view Advent as a season of somber reflection. Yet, even as the light recedes in winter, the season of Advent bids all to come and find surprising gifts in the shorter days, in the womb of pregnant possibility, and in the anxious anticipation that accompanies waiting in the darkness. Those pre-Christian peoples who watched their sun-god disappear found that there were gifts that could be had even in this dark season. They took the wheels off of their carts, and decorated them with greens and garlands, hanging them on their walls as mementos of beauty and hope. Taking the wheels off of their carts meant the cessation of work and a time to watch and wait. As Gertrud Muller Nelson writes about this ancient ritual, “Slowly, slowly they wooed the sun-god back. And light followed darkness. Morning came earlier. The festivals announced the return of hope after primal darkness.”(2)

While the dark is mysterious and often ominous, it is also a place of unexpected treasures. As one author notes, “[S]pring bulbs and summer seeds come to life in the unlit places underground. Costly jewel stones lie embedded in the dark interiors of ordinary rocks. Oil, gas, and coal reserves lie far beneath the light of the earth’s surface. The dark depths of the ocean teem with life.”(3) Indeed, unique gifts from earth, sky, and sea can only be observed in the dark.

Spiritual gifts often emerge out of the darkness as well. The writer of Genesis paints a picture of the Spirit of God hovering over the primordial chaos and the darkness that covered the surface of the deep. Out of the darkness of chaos came the light of creation. The covenant promises of God to give children and land to Abram were forged “when the sun was going down…and terror and great darkness fell upon him” (Genesis 15:12). Moses received the Law in the “thick darkness where God was” (Exodus 20:21; Deuteronomy 5:22). God’s abiding presence was the gift from the darkness. Speaking through the prophet Isaiah, the God of Israel promises: “I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name” (Isaiah 45:3). Indeed, the long-awaited Messiah would be revealed to those “who walk in darkness” and who “live in a dark land” (Isaiah 9:2).

For those who dwell in the dark season of despair or discouragement, for those who are afraid in the dark, and for those who grope in the darkness, the promise of treasures of darkness may spark a light of hope. “The recovery of hope,” writes Muller Nelson, “can only be accomplished when we have had the courage to stop and wait and engage fully the in the winter of our dark longing.”(4)

The hope of Advent is that God is in the darkness with us even though our experience of God may seem as clear as shifting shadow. The hope of Christmas is that God’s coming near to us in the person of Jesus is not hindered by the darkness of this world, or of our own lives. We may fear our dark despair hides us from God, but the treasure of God’s presence awaits us even there—for the darkness is as light to God. And today, light has come!

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

(1) Gertrud Muller Nelson, To Dance With God: Family Ritual and Community Celebration (Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press), 63.

(2) Ibid., 63.

(3) Sally Breedlove, Choosing Rest: Cultivating a Sunday Heart in a Monday World (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2002), 133.

(4) Gertrud Muller Nelson, 63.

Unfamiliar Christmas – Ravi Zacharias

 

If the first chapter of Luke is the preface to a great story—the foretelling of a herald, the prophecy of a child, the return of the throne of a king—the second chapter is the culmination. The Roman world is called to a census. A young couple journeys to Bethlehem to be counted. A child is born. “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’”(1)

Christian or otherwise, the Christmas story is often viewed as wonderful in its familiarity, calling forth each year a childhood delight in the monotonous, beckoning our imaginations to a stable and a story. Christmas hymns, full of imagery and story, are piped in as background music at post offices and malls. Manger scenes can still be found as part of familiar Christmas décor. Yet often for those to whom it is all most familiar, it is also a story we can find surprisingly unfamiliar each year. Like children delighting in another reading of a bedtime favorite, the Nativity is somehow still startling in its mysteries, the child still out of place in the manger, the story full of profound paradox.

The first time I walked through the crowded, pungent streets of Bethlehem, I was struck by the disparity between what I was seeing and “the little town of Bethlehem” I had imagined in pageants and songs. The harsh reality of God becoming a child in the midst of the cold and dark world I knew myself suddenly seemed a blaring proclamation: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. There is a plaque of the same words outside the dark and ancient church built upon what was once the place of the nativity. Reading this in the actual Bethlehem, I remember thinking I had never really considered it before: God taking on flesh to live here, with us, in our chaos and fighting and despair.

 

Upon his conversion, Charles Wesley took to hymn writing as a means of attempting to capture the strange hope of a God among us, which was persistently stirring in his mind. Though a few of the words have long since been changed, one of Charles Wesley’s 6,000 hymns is a widely beloved declaration of the Incarnation. Seeking to convey in pen and ink a Christmas story both familiar to our hearts and startling in its wonder, Wesley wrote:

Hark, how all the welkin rings,

“Glory to the King of kings;

Peace on earth, and mercy mild,

God and sinners reconciled!”

For Wesley, the Christ child in the manger was forever an indication of the great lengths God will go to reconcile his creation, a savior willing to descend that we might be able to ascend. “Welkin” is an old English term meaning “the vault of heaven.” Wesley was telling the radical story of the Incarnation: All of heaven opening up for the birth of a king and the rebirth of humanity.

The star of Bethlehem, the magi, the shepherds, and the willing child Mary are all amid the long-imagined and inconceivable markers of a God among us. The birth of Christ is the timeless gesture that God has chosen to remain. And Christmas is a time to imagine what it means if the hard cries of a real and unpolished world have really been heard, if a savior was born, if the vault of heaven was truly opened.

Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!

Hail the Sun of Righteousness!

Light and life to all He brings,

Ris’n with healing in his wings.

Mild He lays his glory by,

Born that man no more may die.

Born to raise the sons of earth,

Born to give them second birth

Hark! the herald angels sing,

“Glory to the newborn King!”

 

 

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

(1) Luke 2:8-14.

Christmas in Heaven – Greg Laurie

 

Merry Christmas to all of you!

Christmas is a day of joy. But for me and my family, it is also tinged with sadness, because it is a day when Christopher’s absence is intensely felt.

I have to tell you, Topher loved Christmas! It was always a big deal to him as a little boy, and when he became a father, he wanted it to be a big deal for his daughters. He always was so thoughtful in his choice of gifts and often made them by hand, which was always a special treat for me. He also had fantastic “wrapping skills,” which I am completely devoid of.

On that first Christmas night, while the shepherds kept watch over their flocks, the angel brought this good news: “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people” (Luke 2:10).

This is how heaven celebrated the first Christmas. On this holy night, in effect, heaven momentarily came to earth. Heaven and earth are always co-existing, but sometimes they can seem worlds apart and other times separated by only a thin veil. When tragedy hits, when illness prevails, heaven can sometimes seem distant.

But when we join the angels in worship, and see God in His greatness, heaven can seem so very, very close. For us as believers, we are just a heartbeat away from heaven right now. As David put it, “There is but a step between me and death” (1 Samuel 20:3).

Christmas in heaven is better than Christmas on earth. It is pure bliss. Not twinkling lights, but the radiant light of heaven itself. Not metal angels on trees, but real, holy angels of God all around.

You see, in heaven there is peace. On earth there is war. In heaven there is perfect harmony. On earth there is often friction among family and friends. In heaven, feasting and perfection. On earth there is fattening food and expanding waistlines.

We don’t need to sorrow for our loved ones who are celebrating Christmas in heaven, but we do sorrow for ourselves over their absence.

Today, however, remember to let the ones on earth you love know it. Tell them verbally. Because you never know if you or I or someone we hold dear might be in heaven next Christmas.

So have a blessed and merry Christmas day.

The Gift of His Peace – By Dr. Charles Stanley

 

There is a special word found throughout the Christmas story that should be very important and meaningful to you and I as we consider the birth of the Christ child. Used more than 400 times in Scripture, it is a term found interwoven in the prophecies of Jesus’ coming as a special gift to us from God.

That wonderful word is peace.

In speaking about the Savior, the prophet Isaiah reported, “A child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be . . . Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6). Also, recall what the angels said the night Jesus was born: “There appeared . . . a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased’” (Luke 2:13–14).

Christmas can undoubtedly be one of the most joyous and revitalizing seasons of the year for us as believers. However, it can also be hectic and nerve-wracking—so much so that we lose our sense of security and tranquility, which is the very thing Jesus came to bring us.

So today I would like to ask you: In the hustle and bustle of Christmas, where do you go to find silence and stillness? Do you rejoice and rest in all that the Lord has given you? Or is this time of year characterized by impatience, agitation, conflict, and pain?

Many people believe the pathway of peace is through possessions—especially during the Christmas season. They believe that if they could just have the latest gadget, they would be happy. If they could only buy their loved ones the special objects they desire, then they could maintain harmony in their households. Sadly, this does not work. Worldly goods can never fill emptiness, give worth, or restore broken relationships.

My son, Andy, understood this from a very young age. I remember one evening when he was still in high school, we were sitting at dinner and he said to me, “Dad, I want to thank you for not giving us everything we wanted.” Of course, this had me intrigued. I asked him why he felt this way. I will never forget his explanation:

“Many of my friends—well, their parents give them everything they want, and it’s really messed them up,” Andy replied. “They think that is all there is to life. Thank you for teaching me what is truly important.” I was so thankful my son had learned this vital principle: Peace, joy, and fulfillment come through Christ, not through possessions or anything else this world can offer.

So as Christmas approaches, how can you maintain genuine tranquility in the midst of all the activities and pressures of the season? How can you preserve harmony within yourself, with others, and, most importantly, with the Father? Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27). How can you take hold of all He offers?

First, realize that the peace of God originates from reconciliation with Him. The Greek word for peace is eirene, and it simply means, “to bind together.” When you trust the Lord Jesus as your Savior, He binds you together with Himself for all eternity. You never need to worry about your salvation because He makes you right with the Father through His death on the cross—and no one can ever take that away from you.

Second, embrace the fact that Christ takes full responsibility for your needs as you obey Him. Earthly tranquility is often based on worldly resources, which can—and ultimately will—fail. So whenever you face situations that are beyond your abilities, talents, skills, and wealth to overcome, it is no wonder you feel overwhelmed, anxious, and discouraged. However, God is completely capable of helping you, regardless of your circumstances. Therefore, as a believer, you can calmly and joyfully trust Him, because you know that the One who is best able to give you the victory in every situation will never leave or forsake you.

Third, understand that the Father’s peace is the result of your personal relationship with Him. When you feel apprehensive, what do you do? Do you rush about, trying to find solutions to your problems? Do you try silencing your anxieties by shopping, eating, working, or engaging in some destructive habit? It doesn’t really help, does it? Friend, the Lord’s presence has the power to calm your worries and drive out your fears (1 John 4:18). Whenever these concerns creep up this Christmas, consider it a call to spend time with Him.

When you spend time with the Lord, you realize He’s got everything under control. And when you walk in the center of His will and learn to see your circumstances from His perspective, you experience the deepest, most wonderful tranquility—confident that He will work everything out for your good. Not only will you experience peace with the Father, but you’ll also be a calming presence to those around you. You’ll be able to handle the conflicts that arise with greater grace, wisdom, and composure.

So this Christmas, instead of focusing on all the presents you must buy, think of the one you most need to receive—the gift of His peace. Surrender your life to the Prince of Peace—and enjoy the rest, tranquility, and hope He created you to enjoy.

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning   “Friend, go up higher.” / Luke 14:10

When first the life of grace begins in the soul, we do indeed draw near to

God, but it is with great fear and trembling. The soul conscious of guilt, and

humbled thereby, is overawed with the solemnity of its position; it is cast to

the earth by a sense of the grandeur of Jehovah, in whose presence it stands.

With unfeigned bashfulness it takes the lowest room.

But, in after life, as the Christian grows in grace, although he will never

forget the solemnity of his position, and will never lose that holy awe which

must encompass a gracious man when he is in the presence of the God who can

create or can destroy; yet his fear has all its terror taken out of it; it

becomes a holy reverence, and no more an overshadowing dread. He is called up

higher, to greater access to God in Christ Jesus. Then the man of God, walking

amid the splendours of Deity, and veiling his face like the glorious cherubim,

with those twin wings, the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ, will,

reverent and bowed in spirit, approach the throne; and seeing there a God of

love, of goodness, and of mercy, he will realize rather the covenant character

of God than his absolute Deity. He will see in God rather his goodness than

his greatness, and more of his love than of his majesty. Then will the soul,

bowing still as humbly as aforetime, enjoy a more sacred liberty of

intercession; for while prostrate before the glory of the Infinite God, it

will be sustained by the refreshing consciousness of being in the presence of

boundless mercy and infinite love, and by the realization of acceptance “in

the Beloved.” Thus the believer is bidden to come up higher, and is enabled to

exercise the privilege of rejoicing in God, and drawing near to him in holy

confidence, saying, “Abba, Father.”

“So may we go from strength to strength,

And daily grow in grace,

Till in thine image raised at length,

We see thee face to face.”

 

Evening   “The night also is thine.” / Psalm 74:16

Yes, Lord, thou dost not abdicate thy throne when the sun goeth down, nor dost

thou leave the world all through these long wintry nights to be the prey of

evil; thine eyes watch us as the stars, and thine arms surround us as the

zodiac belts the sky. The dews of kindly sleep and all the influences of the

moon are in thy hand, and the alarms and solemnities of night are equally with

thee. This is very sweet to me when watching through the midnight hours, or

tossing to and fro in anguish. There are precious fruits put forth by the moon

as well as by the sun: may my Lord make me to be a favoured partaker in them.

 

The night of affliction is as much under the arrangement and control of the

Lord of Love as the bright summer days when all is bliss. Jesus is in the

tempest. His love wraps the night about itself as a mantle, but to the eye of

faith the sable robe is scarce a disguise. From the first watch of the night

even unto the break of day the eternal Watcher observes his saints, and

overrules the shades and dews of midnight for his people’s highest good. We

believe in no rival deities of good and evil contending for the mastery, but

we hear the voice of Jehovah saying, “I create light and I create darkness; I,

the Lord, do all these things.”

Gloomy seasons of religious indifference and social sin are not exempted from

the divine purpose. When the altars of truth are defiled, and the ways of God

forsaken, the Lord’s servants weep with bitter sorrow, but they may not

despair, for the darkest eras are governed by the Lord, and shall come to

their end at his bidding. What may seem defeat to us may be victory to him.

“Though enwrapt in gloomy night,

We perceive no ray of light;

Since the Lord himself is here,

‘Tis not meet that we should fear.”

Intimacy with God – Charles Stanley

 

Psalm 63:1-11

For Christians, it’s fairly simple to notice other people filling their God-shaped void with all the wrong things. It’s much harder, though, to see that same error in our own redeemed lives. We all too easily get busy for God—serving, singing, teaching, preaching, and going to the mission field. None of these things are wrong; in fact, they’re all good. But they’re often a misguided attempt to create a false sense of intimacy with God.

Why would any believer choose artificial closeness with the Lord when He wants to give His children the real thing? Two reasons: first, being known by God requires intense vulnerability and the humility to receive His grace. There is nothing we can do for the Lord or give to Him that will atone for our sins. Second, all successful friendships require hard work, and that holds true for our relationship with God as well.

To really know the Lord, you have to read the Bible—all of it. And you cannot maintain a close relationship with your heavenly Father if you ignore His principles. You must, therefore, fill your mind with godly things and forego worldly influences. In addition, a vibrant prayer life is essential to intimacy with God. These things don’t just happen; they require intentional effort.

Simply put, when we satisfy our thirst with living water, we’re no longer thirsty. When we live in intimate communion with God, the temptation to strive for saintliness in our own strength falls away. And our service, offerings, and worship, stripped of any self-serving motives, genuinely glorify God.

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning  “I will strengthen thee.” / Isaiah 41:10

God has a strong reserve with which to discharge this engagement; for he is

able to do all things. Believer, till thou canst drain dry the ocean of

omnipotence, till thou canst break into pieces the towering mountains of

almighty strength, thou never needest to fear. Think not that the strength of

man shall ever be able to overcome the power of God. Whilst the earth’s huge

pillars stand, thou hast enough reason to abide firm in thy faith. The same

God who directs the earth in its orbit, who feeds the burning furnace of the

sun, and trims the lamps of heaven, has promised to supply thee with daily

strength. While he is able to uphold the universe, dream not that he will

prove unable to fulfil his own promises. Remember what he did in the days of

old, in the former generations. Remember how he spake and it was done; how he

commanded, and it stood fast. Shall he that created the world grow weary? He

hangeth the world upon nothing; shall he who doth this be unable to support

his children? Shall he be unfaithful to his word for want of power? Who is it

that restrains the tempest? Doth not he ride upon the wings of the wind, and

make the clouds his chariots, and hold the ocean in the hollow of his hand?

How can he fail thee? When he has put such a faithful promise as this on

record, wilt thou for a moment indulge the thought that he has outpromised

himself, and gone beyond his power to fulfil? Ah, no! Thou canst doubt no

longer.

O thou who art my God and my strength, I can believe that this promise shall

be fulfilled, for the boundless reservoir of thy grace can never be exhausted,

and the overflowing storehouse of thy strength can never be emptied by thy

friends or rifled by thine enemies.

“Now let the feeble all be strong,

And make Jehovah’s arm their song.”

 

Evening  “The spot of his children.” / Deuteronomy 32:5

What is the secret spot which infallibly betokens the child of God? It were

vain presumption to decide this upon our own judgment; but God’s word reveals

it to us, and we may tread surely where we have revelation to be our guide.

Now, we are told concerning our Lord, “to as many as received him, to them

gave he power to become the sons of God, even to as many as believed on his

name.” Then, if I have received Christ Jesus into my heart, I am a child of

God. That reception is described in the same verse as believing on the name of

Jesus Christ. If, then, I believe on Jesus Christ’s name–that is, simply from

my heart trust myself with the crucified, but now exalted, Redeemer, I am a

member of the family of the Most High. Whatever else I may not have, if I have

this, I have the privilege to become a child of God. Our Lord Jesus puts it in

another shape. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

Here is the matter in a nutshell. Christ appears as a shepherd to his own

sheep, not to others. As soon as he appears, his own sheep perceive him–they

trust him, they are prepared to follow him; he knows them, and they know

him–there is a mutual knowledge–there is a constant connection between them.

Thus the one mark, the sure mark, the infallible mark of regeneration and

adoption is a hearty faith in the appointed Redeemer. Reader, are you in

doubt, are you uncertain whether you bear the secret mark of God’s children?

Then let not an hour pass over your head till you have said, “Search me, O

God, and know my heart.” Trifle not here, I adjure you! If you must trifle

anywhere, let it be about some secondary matter: your health, if you will, or

the title deeds of your estate; but about your soul, your never-dying soul and

its eternal destinies, I beseech you to be in earnest. Make sure work for

eternity.

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning  “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love.” / Jeremiah 31:3

Sometimes the Lord Jesus tells his Church his love thoughts. “He does not

think it enough behind her back to tell it, but in her very presence he says,

Thou art all fair, my love.’ It is true, this is not his ordinary method; he

is a wise lover, and knows when to keep back the intimation of love and when

to let it out; but there are times when he will make no secret of it; times

when he will put it beyond all dispute in the souls of his people” (R.

Erskine’s Sermons). The Holy Spirit is often pleased, in a most gracious

manner, to witness with our spirits of the love of Jesus. He takes of the

things of Christ and reveals them unto us. No voice is heard from the clouds,

and no vision is seen in the night, but we have a testimony more sure than

either of these. If an angel should fly from heaven and inform the saint

personally of the Saviour’s love to him, the evidence would not be one whit

more satisfactory than that which is borne in the heart by the Holy Ghost. Ask

those of the Lord’s people who have lived the nearest to the gates of heaven,

and they will tell you that they have had seasons when the love of Christ

towards them has been a fact so clear and sure, that they could no more doubt

it than they could question their own existence. Yes, beloved believer, you

and I have had times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, and then our

faith has mounted to the topmost heights of assurance. We have had confidence

to lean our heads upon the bosom of our Lord, and we have no more questioned

our Master’s affection to us than John did when in that blessed posture; nay,

nor so much: for the dark question, “Lord, is it I that shall betray thee?”

has been put far from us. He has kissed us with the kisses of his mouth, and

killed our doubts by the closeness of his embrace. His love has been sweeter

than wine to our souls.

 

Evening  “Call the labourers, and give them their hire.” / Matthew 20:8

God is a good paymaster; he pays his servants while at work as well as when

they have done it; and one of his payments is this: an easy conscience. If you

have spoken faithfully of Jesus to one person, when you go to bed at night you

feel happy in thinking, “I have this day discharged my conscience of that

man’s blood.” There is a great comfort in doing something for Jesus. Oh, what

a happiness to place jewels in his crown, and give him to see of the travail

of his soul! There is also very great reward in watching the first buddings of

conviction in a soul! To say of that girl in the class, “She is tender of

heart, I do hope that there is the Lord’s work within.” To go home and pray

over that boy, who said something in the afternoon which made you think he

must know more of divine truth than you had feared! Oh, the joy of hope! But

as for the joy of success! it is unspeakable. This joy, overwhelming as it is,

is a hungry thing–you pine for more of it. To be a soul-winner is the

happiest thing in the world. With every soul you bring to Christ, you get a

new heaven upon earth. But who can conceive the bliss which awaits us above!

Oh, how sweet is that sentence, “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord!” Do you

know what the joy of Christ is over a saved sinner? This is the very joy which

we are to possess in heaven. Yes, when he mounts the throne, you shall mount

with him. When the heavens ring with “Well done, well done,” you shall partake

in the reward; you have toiled with him, you have suffered with him, you shall

now reign with him; you have sown with him, you shall reap with him; your face

was covered with sweat like his, and your soul was grieved for the sins of men

as his soul was, now shall your face be bright with heaven’s splendour as is

his countenance, and now shall your soul be filled with beatific joys even as

his soul is.

Throwing Out the Anchor – John MacArthur

“For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it” (Heb. 2:1).

While English explorer William Edward Parry and his crew were exploring the Arctic Ocean, they needed to go further north to continue their chartings. So they calculated their location by the stars and began a treacherous march.

After many hours they stopped, exhausted. After taking their bearings, they discovered they were now further south than when they started! They had been walking on an ice floe that was traveling faster south than they were walking north.

That is similar to the situation people who continue rejecting Christ find themselves in. Therefore Hebrews 2:1 says, “We must pay closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”

Why would anyone knowingly reject Christ? He came into the world as God incarnate, died on a cross to forgive our sins, paid our penalty, showed us divine love, and gives us blessing and joy beyond imagination.

The Greek words translated “pay much closer attention to” and “drift away from” both have a nautical usage. The first means “to tie up a ship” and the second can be used of a ship that has been carelessly allowed to drift past the harbor because the sailor forgot to attend to the steerage or chart the wind, tides, and current. Hebrews 2:1 could be translated: “We must diligently anchor our lives to the things we have been taught, lest the ship of life drift past the harbor of salvation and be lost forever.”

Most people don’t deliberately turn their backs on God; they almost imperceptibly slip past the harbor of salvation and are broken on the rocks of destruction. Be sure you warn those you know who might be slipping past that harbor.

Suggestion for Prayer:  Ask God to strengthen your resolve when you know you need to confront someone regarding his or her relationship with the Lord.

For Further Study:   Memorize Proverbs 4:20-22 as your own reminder of how important it is to hold on to God’s Word.