Tag Archives: spirituality

Our Daily Bread — Is Ambition Wrong?

 

Colossians 3:22-24

Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord. —Colossians 3:23

Is ambition wrong? Is it wrong to be driven, to push to be the best? It can be. The difference between right and wrong ambition is in our goal and motivation—whether it’s for God’s glory or our own.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:1, Paul tells us that Christians are to live lives “to please God.” For some, the drive to please Him is an instant transformation at the time of salvation; for others, the transformation is full of stutter-steps and mis-starts. Whether the change happens instantly or gradually, the Christian is to pursue God’s goals, not selfish ones.

So, in the workplace we ask: “How will that job change help me serve others and glorify God?” Ambition oriented toward God is focused outward on Him and others, always asking how He has gifted us and wants to use us.

Paul suggests we work with “sincerity of heart, fearing God” (Col. 3:22). Whatever we’re doing—in the board room, on the docks, wherever we’re working—we’re to serve as if doing it for God (vv.23-24).

We glorify Him most and enjoy Him most when we work with fervor and excellence for His pleasure, not ours. For His service and the service of others, not self-service and personal gain—because He deserves our all. —Randy Kilgore

Lord, help me to apply zest to my work efforts

that I might please You. I offer my actions and words

today as a testimony to bring You glory.

Use me today to point others to You. Amen.

“We grow small trying to be great.” —Eli Stanley Jones, missionary

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Substance of Faith

 

What is the nature of faith? Is faith simply a prescribed rational content? Or is faith an irrational leap into the dark? So often individual understanding of the nature of faith swings widely between these two extremes; either faith is solely an assent to certain beliefs, or it is ultimately devoid of intellectual content and consists exclusively of feelings of total dependence.

The author of the epistle to the Hebrews presents another view grounding faith in the “assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.”(1) But what does this mean? How does one have assurance without the end result, or conviction without evidence?

The audience who first received this epistle was Christian believers undergoing tremendous suffering and persecution, and the author reminds them that faith is assurance even in the midst of their trouble. The “assurance of things hoped for” is not merely wishful thinking about a yet to be determined future. It is not the reticence of “I hope it happens, but I doubt it will.” Rather, it is a description of what faith already has: the possession in the present of what is promised for the future. It is a substance that they author of Hebrews locates in the trustworthiness of God.

Faith in the midst of present circumstance grows as it is remembers God’s saving work done in the past. Anchored on the past witness of all those who saw God at work, hopeful assurance rests on the promise that as God acted in the past, God will act in the future. To illustrate this point, the author of Hebrews recounts those who by faith believed God in the past in order to encourage the beleaguered recipients of this letter. Just like those who walked in faith before, not every promise is seen in its telos or completion. The content of faith is in remembering God’s faithfulness in the past, building trust in the future that is yet to come.

The writer of Hebrews even chose a particular word to illustrate this point. The Greek word that is used for “assurance” is hypostasis. This is the same word that is used to describe how Christ is the hypostasis, “the very being” of God. In the same way, faith is the “very being” of things hoped for. While it is often much easier to focus on the bad things that are happening around us, faith opens  eyes to see God’s work going forward in the world.

Ultimately, Christians affirm that the “assurance of things hoped for” is not simply found in rational content, but in a person—Jesus Christ. For in Jesus, we see the promise fulfilled and the very substance of faith. It is to Jesus Christ and to him alone that the writer of Hebrews directs those who would look for the content of faith. We have faith because we look to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of faith. We look to Jesus, who endured in faith on our behalf, so that we might not grow fainthearted in times of hardship and struggle.

Assurance doesn’t come in well-ordered circumstances or trouble-free living. Nor is assurance found in having a rational answer for every question. Assurance comes in relationship with a trustworthy God who fulfilled promises in the past and who will fulfill them in the future. Faith is grounded on God’s work accomplished in Jesus Christ: Jesus is its substance and its hope.

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

(1) Hebrews 11:1.

Alistair Begg – The Source of His Grief

 

And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him.  Luke 23:27

Among the rabble that hounded the Redeemer to His doom, there were some gracious souls whose bitter anguish found an outlet in wailing and lamentations–suitable music to accompany that woeful march. When I can, in imagination, see the Savior bearing His cross to Calvary, my soul joins the godly women and weeps with them; for, indeed, there is true cause for grief–cause lying deeper than those mourning women recognized. They bewailed innocence maltreated, goodness persecuted, love bleeding, meekness about to die; but my heart has a deeper and more bitter cause to mourn. My sins were the scourges that lacerated those blessed shoulders and crowned with thorns those bleeding brows: my sins cried, “Crucify Him! crucify Him!” and laid the cross upon His gracious shoulders.

His being led forth to die is sorrow enough for one eternity: but my having been His murderer is more, infinitely more, grief than one poor fountain of tears can express. The reason for those women’s love and tears is plain to read, but they could not have had greater reasons for love and grief than my heart has. The widow of Nain saw her son restored–but I myself have been raised to newness of life. Peter’s mother-in-law was cured of the fever–but I of the greater plague of sin. Out of Magdalene seven devils were cast–but a whole legion out of me. Mary and Martha were favored with visits–but He dwells with me. His mother bore His body–but He is formed in me, the hope of glory. Since I am not behind the holy women in debt, let me not be behind them in gratitude or sorrow.

Love and grief my heart dividing,

With my tears His feet I’ll lave–

Constant still in heart abiding,

Weep for Him who died to save.

Charles Spurgeon – The jeer of sarcasm, and the retort of piety

 

“Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal… came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel today, who uncovered himself today in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself! And David said unto Michal, It was before the Lord, which chose… to appoint me ruler… over Israel: therefore will I play before the Lord. .” 2 Samuel 6:20-22

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Peter 3:1-7

It is a happy thing when we are enabled to rejoice together in our family relationships; when husband and wife help each other on the path to heaven. There can be no happier position than that of the Christian man who finds, in every holy wish he has for God, a helper; who finds that often she outstrips him; that when he would do something, she suggests something more; when he would serve his Master there is a hint given that more yet might be done, and no obstacle put in the way, but every assistance rendered. Happy is that man and blessed is he. He has received a treasure from God, the like of which could not be bought for diamonds. That man is blessed of the Most High; he is heaven’s favourite, and he may rejoice in the special favour of his God. But when it is the other way, and I know it is the case with some of you, then it is a sore trial indeed. Perhaps, though a careful, cautious, prudent, and excellent worldly woman, she cannot see with you in the things which you love in the kingdom of God, and when you have done something which in the excess of your zeal seems to be but little, she thinks it inordinate and extravagant. “Oh,” says she, “do you go and mix with these people? Does King David go and wear a linen ephod like a peasant? Do you go and sit down with that rabble? You? You can stand up for your dignity—put ‘esquire’ after your name, and yet walk in the street with any beggar that likes to call himself a Christian. You,” says she, “you that are so cautious in everything else, you seem to have lost your head when you think about your religion.”

For meditation: Those close to the Lord Jesus Christ, his friends and family, could not understand him (Mark 3:21; John 7:5) but God worked in their lives (Acts 1:14; 1 Corinthians 9:5). Don’t despair of your loved ones who seem so far from God (1 Corinthians 7:16).

Sermon no. 321

9 April (Preached 8 April 1860)

John MacArthur – Inheriting the Earth

 

“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5).

God said to Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen. 1:28). But their sin cost them their sovereignty and brought a curse upon the earth (Gen. 3:17-18).

The apostle Paul said, “The anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God . . . in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption” (Rom. 8:19-21). Someday that curse will be reversed and God’s people will once again inherit the earth.

The Greek word translated “inherit” (Matt. 5:5) means “to receive an allotted portion.” The earth is the allotted portion of believers, who will reign with the Lord when He comes in His kingdom (Rev. 20:6). That’s an emphatic promise in Matthew 5:5, which literally reads, “Blessed are the gentle, for only they shall inherit the earth.”

Many Jewish people of Christ’s day thought the kingdom belonged to the strong, proud, and defiant. But Jesus said the earth will belong to the gentle, meek, and humble. Proud, self-righteous people don’t qualify (cf. Luke 1:46- 53). Jesus said, “Unless you are converted and become [humble and submissive] like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3).

As a recipient of God’s promises, you should be thrilled knowing that you will inherit the earth and reign with Christ in His earthly kingdom. Be encouraged to know that even when evil people and godless nations seem to prosper, God is in complete control and will someday establish His righteous kingdom on earth.

Rejoice in that assurance, and seek to be all He wants you to be until that great day.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank God that all of creation will someday be freed from sin’s corrupting influences.

Praise Him for His mighty power, which will bring it all to pass.

For Further Study:

Read 1 Corinthians 6:1-8.

What issue did Paul address?

How does the future reign of Christians apply to that issue?

Joyce Meyer – Praying His Will

 

[Yes] I will grant [I Myself will do for you] whatever you shall ask in My Name [as presenting all that I Am].—John 14:14

Some Christians read this passage and take its meaning out of context. What a statement! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this gave you license to have anything and everything you want? But the name of Jesus is not simply a “magic word” to tack on at the end of your wish list.

You must realize that all effective prayer involves praying the will of God, not the will of man. There are many things in the Word that clearly reveal God’s will, and these you may certainly ask for boldly without any hesitation or concern about whether you should have them. Yet there are many other things you need to pray about without knowing the exact will of God in the situation. It is at these times you should pray that His perfect will be done and not your own.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Examples of His Love

 

“Little children, let us stop just saying we love people; let us really love them, and show it by our actions” (1 John 3:18).

The story is told about two farmers. Every day, one of them would haul pails of water up the steep slope to his terraced field and irrigate his meager crop.

The second farmer tilled the terrace just below, and he would poke a hole in the dyke and let the other farmer’s water run down into his field.

The first farmer was upset. Being a Christian, he went to his pastor and asked for advice. The pastor told him to keep on watering as before and to say nothing. So, the farmer returned to his fields and the watering of his crop, but the farmer below him continued to drain off his water. Nothing had changed.

After a few days, the first farmer went to his pastor again. The pastor told him to go a step further – to water his neighbor’s crop! So the next day, the farmer brought water to his neighbor’s field and watered the crops. After that, he watered his own field.

This went on for three days, and not a word was exchanged between the two farmers. But after the third day, the second farmer came to the first farmer.

“How do I become a Christian?” he asked.

There is a saying, ‘Love your friends and hate your enemies.’ But I say: Love your enemies!…If you are friendly only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even the heathens do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48).

Bible Reading: I John 3:14-17

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will make every effort to demonstrate the love of Christ by the way I act toward others.

Presidential Prayer Team, J.K. – Obeying and Abounding

 

You can’t have it both ways. Jeremiah writes that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick.” (Jeremiah 17:9) But David professes in today’s Psalm that the law of God is in the heart of the righteous one.

The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip. Psalm 37:31

Psalm 37 talks of the problem caused when godless people prosper. Many times things go well for them – financially, physically, militarily for nations – and their attitude toward those who love the Lord is one of mockery and disrespect. Conversely, those whose faith is in God can experience His provision in abundance, but they also may endure hardship and persecution. The tendency might be to be envious of those who are wicked and prospering.

Don’t do that! Obeying God will reap many rewards. Trust in the Lord, delight in Him, commit your way to Him and rest in Him, and you will not falter in your walk with Him (Psalm 37:3-7). He alone can give you joy unending.

What is abounding in your heart? Rejoice in God’s law because obeying helps you to love God more and experience a life with eternal hope. This nation needs transformation from wickedness to righteousness. Let that be your prayer.

Recommended Reading: Psalm 37:1-7, 39-40

Greg Laurie – Sent to Minister

 

Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation? —Hebrews 1:14

Do we have guardian angels? I don’t know, but I will say this much: Christians have angels involved in their lives. The Bible says, “The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them” (Psalm 34:7). We also read that angels are “ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14). So the Bible teaches that we have angels around us as Christians.

Jesus also made an interesting statement when He was speaking about children: “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10). So perhaps children have guardian angels. I do think children need guardian angels. You have to always keep your eye on them, especially when they are young. But whatever the case, angels are involved in our lives.

When you had that close call, it may have been an angel who intervened. Or when something stopped you suddenly, keeping you out of harm’s way, maybe it was an angel. But we are to properly give glory to God for His protection, because we are not supposed to pray to angels or thank angels. They are there to do the work of God, like God’s secret agents, and we are to give the glory to God for what happens.

But what about when the accident does take place? What about when the plane does go down? Where was the angel then? I’ll tell you where the angel was: escorting the believer into God’s presence.

When things happen, when life ends suddenly, it doesn’t seem logical to us. But God is still in control. And the angels did their job, guiding us, protecting us, and finally, taking us to glory.

Max Lucado – God Listens

 

You and I live in a loud world.  To get someone’s attention is no easy task. But when someone’s willing to silence everything else so he can hear us clearly, it’s a privilege.  A rare privilege indeed!  You can talk to God because God listens.  Your voice matters in heaven.  He takes you very seriously.  No need to fear that you’ll be ignored. Even if you stammer or stumble, even if what you have to say impresses no one, it impresses God—and He listens. Intently.  Carefully.

Your prayer on earth activates God’s power in heaven, and Scripture says, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  (Matthew 6:10)

Your prayers are honored as precious jewels. You may not understand the mystery of prayer. You don’t need to. But this much is clear:  Actions in heaven begin when someone prays on earth. What an amazing thought!

Charles Stanley – The Choices We Make

 

Matthew 7:13-14

On a wide six-lane freeway, it is easy to crowd lots of cars onto the road. Entering the highway is pretty easy since ramps feed into the right lane every few miles. Conversely, trying to stay on a narrow sheep path from the pasture to the barn forces you to walk slowly with one foot directly in front of the other. The sheep path is a picture of the narrow way—God’s way—while the wide, six-lane thoroughfare illustrates the broad way—that is, Satan’s road to destruction.

The broad way is as crowded as an expressway at rush hour. The majority of people choose this road because they love what it has to offer: no restraints on anything they want to try. Whatever brings pleasure, power, or prosperity is welcomed and practiced. God, the Bible, and church may be tolerated for a while but will eventually be supplanted in the heart of the traveler on the broad road. That’s to be expected, since everything is embraced here—all philosophies, all belief systems, all the passions of men and women, and all habits promoting the idea of free choice.

As wonderful as all that tolerance and license may sound, however, the broad road is also the way of disappointment. No matter what the world promises, it will not ultimately satisfy, because the broad way is an illusion. The flesh may be appeased temporarily, but the human heart cannot find peace on that road. Nothing the world thinks up or creates can fill the place in our hearts that God made only for Himself. True fulfillment through the Lord is found only on the narrow path. Tomorrow we will see what is required to walk there.

Our Daily Bread — Guard Your Brand

 

Colossians 3:1-14

Above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. —Colossians 3:14

A popular clothing retailer requires that its sales clerks dress like the models in the store windows who advertise its clothes. This practice is referred to as “guarding their brand.” The idea behind it is that shoppers will be more likely to purchase clothes because they will want to look like the people they see wearing them.

In a consumer-oriented culture, it’s easy to be seduced into thinking that we can “buy” acceptance by wearing the things that beautiful people wear. Retailers would have us believe that looking good will make us desirable.

Sometimes we even convince ourselves that we can win followers for God by making ourselves attractive to the world. But the Bible is clear about what’s really important to God. He wants us to look like Jesus in our character. In a sense, Jesus is our “brand,” for we are being conformed to His image (Rom. 8:29). We attract others to Christ when we put on His attributes, which include tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering (Col. 3:12), and, above all, love (v.14).

Instead of polishing and protecting our own image, we need to be guarding and reflecting the image of God, which is being perfected in us through Christ. —Julie Ackerman Link

O to be like Thee! blessed Redeemer,

This is my constant longing and prayer;

Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,

Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear. —Chisholm

One of the Spirit’s roles is to form the likeness of Christ in us.

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The March of Easter

 

The white hearse drove away from us, headed to some place in which we would never step foot. Though his ashes would later be returned to us, it was the driver, unknown and anonymous, who accompanied his body to the last place on earth it would be. Watching them drive away, I felt instinctively as if I was letting him down, falling somewhere short of my role as one left behind. Shouldn’t I have taken him all the way, accompanied him to the very end?

When I imagine the women who came to the tomb to see the body of Jesus the day after he was crucified, I understand their sickened panic. The body had been taken somewhere unbeknownst and unknown to them. It was out of their sight, out of their care. He was out of their sight—not an empty shell, not “just” a body, but the one they loved. Mary Magdalene was devastated. She ran to Peter in horror: “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

There is something about the human spirit that inherently understands the importance of caring for the dead, of moving them carefully from the place of death to a place of rest, finality, farewell. What we have come to know commonly as the funeral is based on this fundamentally human behavior. It is understood that the dead cannot remain among the living, and yet their removal from society is never a task met with levity. Evidences of tender ceremony are noted in the oldest human burial sites ever found.(1) This movement of the dead from the place of the living to a place of parting is full of tremendous symbolic meaning.

For British statesman and avowed atheist Roy Hattersley, this meaning and symbolism has unavoidably been a complicated part of his worldview. For years he has disapproved of the funeral service, finding it a paradoxical attempt to soften the blow of utter darkness, with clergy fulsome about the dead man’s virtues and discreet about his vices, and congregations gathered more as a matter of form than feeling. In the mind (or at the funeral) of one who remains stubbornly addicted to the unpleasant truth that life simply ends as haphazardly as it began, there is no room or reason for the promise of resurrection and the pomp of certain comfort.

And yet, Hattersley writes in The Guardian of an experience that almost converted him to the belief that funerals ought to be encouraged nonetheless. His conclusion was forged as he sang the hymns and studied the proclamations of a crowd that seemed sincere: “[T]he church is so much better at staging farewells than non-believers could ever be,” he writes. “‘Death where is thy sting, grave where is they victory?‘ are stupid questions. But even those of us who do not expect salvation find a note of triumph in the burial service. There could be a godless thanksgiving for and celebration of the life of [whomever]. The music might be much the same. But it would not have the uplifting effect without the magnificent, meaningless words.”(2)

Hattersley’s attempt to remain logically consistent from his views of life to his experience of death is admirable. For it is indeed peculiar that an uncompromising atheist can conclude there is something almost necessary in a distinctly Christian burial. If what makes for human existence is, in essence, the material, bodies without any facet of the sacred, then the act of moving a body to the place of farewell is far more a matter of mere disposal than hallowed journey. In other words, Hattersley’s worldview leaves no room for a “decent send-off,” a beautiful, last farewell. And yet, he is far from alone in his need for it. As Thomas Long notes in his comprehensive study of funeral practice, “[D]eath and the sacred are inextricably entwined.”(3)

 

The Christian burial is moved by this understanding. Human beings are seen neither as “just” bodies nor as souls in temporary shells, but as dust (material) into which God has breathed life. We are embodied within a story that the Christian funeral tells again and again: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. Because Jesus traveled through death to God before us, Christians believe it possible to make the same journey. Because Christ has journeyed from birth to tomb to the Father, we take this journey again and again with those we love and let go. In this embodied gospel of death and resurrection, suffering and redemption, humanity’s instinctive need to accompany a body from here to there is strikingly met with the particulars of “here” and “there”—namely, life here among the Body of Christ to life resurrected in the presence of the Father. And so, we go the distance with the body, we accompany them to the grave, we weep at their tombs and we follow them with singing because it is a journey we don’t want to miss.

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

(1) Thomas Long, Accompany Them with Singing: The Christian Funeral (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009), 3.

(2) Roy Hattersley, “A Decent Send-off,” The Guardian, January 16, 2006, accessed March 20, 2010,

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/jan/16/religion.uk2.

(3) Thomas Long, Accompany Them with Singing: The Christian Funeral (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009), 4.

Alistair Begg – What Are Your Chances?

 

For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?  Luke 23:31

Among other interpretations of this suggestive question, the following is full of teaching: “If the innocent substitute for sinners suffers in this way, what will be done when the sinner himself–the dry tree–falls into the hands of an angry God?”

When God saw Jesus in the sinner’s place, He did not spare Him; and when He finds the unregenerate without Christ, He will not spare them. O sinner, Jesus was led away by His enemies; and you will be dragged away by fiends to the place appointed for you. Jesus was deserted by God; and if He, who was only imputedly a sinner, was deserted, how much more will you be?

“Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani?” What an awful shriek! But what will be your cry when you shall say, “O God! O God! Why have You forsaken me?” and the answer shall come back, “Because you have ignored all My counsel and would have none of My reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you.”

If God did not spare His own Son, how much less will He spare you! What whips of stinging pain will be yours when your conscience smites you with all its terrors. You rich, you merry, you most self-righteous sinners–who would stand in your place when God says, “Awake, O sword, against the man that rejected Me; smite him, and let him feel the sting forever”?

Jesus was spat upon. Sinner, what shame will be yours! We cannot sum up in one word all the mass of sorrows that met upon the head of Jesus who died for us; therefore it is impossible for us to tell you what streams, what oceans of grief must roll over your spirit if you die as you are now. You may die in this state; you may die now. By the agonies of Christ, by His wounds and by His blood, do not bring upon yourselves the wrath to come! Trust in the Son of God, and you shall never die.

 

Charles Spurgeon – Importance of small things in religion

 

“The Lord our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought him not after the due order.” 1 Chronicles 15:13

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Samuel 13:8-14

When we come before God, it will be no excuse for us to say, “My Lord, I did wrong, but I thought I was doing right.” “Yes, but I gave you my law, but you did not read it; or, if you read it, you read it so carelessly that you did not understand it, and then you did wrong, and you tell me you did it with a right motive. Yes, but it is of no avail whatever.” Just as in Uzzah’s case, did it not seem the rightest thing in the world to put out his hand to prevent the ark from slipping off? Who could blame the man? But God had commanded that no unpriestly hand should ever touch it, and inasmuch as he did touch it, though it was with a right motive, yet Uzzah must die. God will have his laws kept. Besides, my dear brethren, I am not sure about the rightness of your motives after all. The State has issued a proclamation, it is engraven, according to the old Roman fashion, in brass. A man goes up with his file, and he begins working away upon the brass; erases here, and amends there. Says he, “I did that with a right motive; I didn’t think the law a good one, I thought it was too old-fashioned for these times, and so I thought I would alter it a little, and make it better for the people.” Ah, how many have there been who have said, “The old puritanic principles are too rough for these times; we’ll alter them, we’ll tone them down a little.” What are you at, sir? Who are you that dares to touch a single letter of God’s Book?

For meditation: Sincerity needs to be allied to truth (Joshua 24:14). It is possible to be sincerely wrong (John 16:2; Acts 26:9; Romans 10:2).

Sermon no. 307

8 April (1860)

John MacArthur – Controlling Yourself

 

“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth”(Matt. 5:5).

The Greek word translated “gentle” in Matthew 5:5 speaks of humility, meekness, and non-retaliation–traits that in our proud society are often equated with weakness or cowardice. But in reality they are virtues that identify kingdom citizens.

The same word was used by the Greeks to describe a gentle breeze, a soothing medicine, or a domesticated colt. Those are examples of power under control: a gentle breeze brings pleasure, but a hurricane brings destruction; a soothing medicine brings healing, but an overdose can kill; a domesticated colt is useful, but a wild horse is dangerous.

Christ Himself is the epitome of gentleness. Even when officially announcing His messiahship to Jerusalem, He humbly entered the city astride a donkey (Matt. 21:5). His behavior amid persecution was exemplary: “Christ . . . suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats” (1 Pet. 2:21-23).

Despite His humility and restraint, Jesus wasn’t weak or cowardly. He never defended Himself, but when His Father’s house was being desecrated, He made a whip and beat those who were defiling it (John 2:13-16; Matt. 21:12-13). He never shirked from pronouncing judgment on unrepentant sinners, and never compromised His integrity or disobeyed His Father’s will.

The hypocritical Jewish religious leaders expected that when Israel’s Messiah came He would commended them for their wonderful spirituality. Instead, Jesus condemned them and called them children of the devil (John 8:44). In retaliation they had Him murdered. His power was always under control; theirs wasn’t.

Our society has little use for gentleness. The macho, do-your-own-thing mentality characterizes most of our heroes. But you are called to a higher standard. When you pattern your life after Jesus, you will have a significant impact on society and will know true happiness.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank God for the virtue of gentleness, which He is producing in you by the power of His Spirit. Follow Christ’s example today so that gentleness will mark your character.

For Further Study:

Read the following passages, noting the responsibilities and blessings that accompany self-restraint: Proverbs 16:32, Ephesians 4:1-2, Colossians 3:12, and Titus 3:1-2.

Joyce Meyer – Require God’s Presence

 

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek, inquire for, and [insistently] require: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord [in His presence] all the days of my life, to behold and gaze upon the beauty [the sweet attractiveness and the delightful loveliness] of the Lord and to meditate, consider, and inquire in His temple. —Psalm 27:4

When I first became a Christian, I didn’t desire to pray as much as I do now. Although I do spend time with God every morning, I also spend time with Him all day. It seems that I walk in prayer.

In her powerful book, Experiencing God through Prayer, Madame Guyon says there is a difference between praying to God and experiencing Him. At first you must discipline yourself to pray, but eventually you will give yourself to the ocean of God’s love, and experience His continual presence.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – God’s Home Is Holy

 

“Don’t you realize that all of you together are the house of God, and that the Spirit of God lives among you in His house? If anyone defiles and spoils God’s home, God will destroy him. For God’s home is holy and clean, and you are that home” (1 Corinthians 3:16,17).

At this writing, I am with the staff at our annual training on the campus of Colorado State University. In addition to the 3,000 United States and Canadian field staff of Campus Crusade for Christ who are here, thousands more are attending music workshops, summer school, numerous conferences and meetings on this campus. Also, the entire Denver Broncos professional football team is here for training.

Throughout the day, from early morning till late at night, the campus is alive with people jogging, roller-skating, playing tennis, walking and other physical activities. These people are disciplining their bodies, keeping them in good physical tone.

Sadly, however, I also witness many people who lack interest in physical well-being by smoking and drinking alcoholic beverages. A stroll down the sidewalks of this beautiful campus will reveal numerous smokers. And, in the early hours, before the clean-up crews go to work, one can see in the gutters the empty beer cans from the previous night’s revelry and carousing.

The body of the Christian is the temple of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19 and 1 Corinthians 3:16,17). For this reason, God asks us to present our bodies as “living sacrifices,” holy and righteous, for God could dwell in no less a temple.

Bible Reading: I Corinthians 3:11-15

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will take especially good care of my body – physically, mentally, spiritually – realizing it is the temple of God’s Holy Spirit.

Presidential Prayer Team; P.G.- People Out of Place

 

Theologian Richard John Neuhaus stated in a recent book that Christians are by their nature a people out of place. You are not a citizen of this world; your true home is with God. You are a stranger in a strange land – an exile.

Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. Jeremiah 29:12

Chapter 29 of Jeremiah is a letter to exiles. The people of Judah had been taken captive to Babylon. Their world was dark. They were warned to be wary of false-hope givers. They knew not to expect anything good from the Babylonian government. But in the middle of their exile, they received a message of hope. God had a plan…to bring them back and restore their future. You, too, have a letter from the Lord, and it is a Bible full of hope and restoration.

Don’t despair when you look at the bleakness of this earthly place. Find encouragement in being reconciled to God through Christ. Know that all future hope is in Him. Keep your prayers tied to the Lord’s will and His plans. They will not be thwarted! As you intercede, include President Obama and his family, and members of Congress. They, too, need to know God’s love, promises, provision, faithfulness and plans.

Recommended Reading: Jeremiah 29:7-14

Greg Laurie – Born Twice, Die Once

 

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God—Romans 5:1–2

If you are born once, you will die twice. If you are born twice, you will die once. By “born once,” I mean the physical birth. By “born twice,” I mean a physical birth as well as a spiritual birth in which you are born again, spiritually putting your faith in Christ.

Just as there are two births, the Bible teaches there are two deaths: one is physical, and the other is spiritual. Jesus warned that we are to fear the second death more than the first one.

Revelation 20:14 tells us, “Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” The second death is mentioned again in Revelation 21:8, which says, “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” The second death is hell.

One commentator wrote, “The second death is the continuance of spiritual death in another and timeless existence.”

Another wrote, “Eternity to the godly is a day that has no sunset. Eternity to the wicked is a night that has no sunrise.”

Jesus spoke of hell in a very specific way. He warned of the fire of hell (see Matthew 5:22). He warned about our bodies being thrown into hell (see Matthew 5:29). And He spoke of the soul and the body being destroyed in hell (see Matthew 10:28).

The Bible teaches that all Christians—defined as sinners who have been converted by putting their faith in Jesus Christ—will be in heaven. And that offer of forgiveness is for everyone.

Your eternal destination is really your choice. Not everyone will be saved in the end—only those who put their faith in Jesus Christ.