Tag Archives: theology

Our Daily Bread — Godspeed!

 

2 John 1:1-11

If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him. —2 John 1:10

In 1962, John Glenn made history as the first American to orbit the Earth. As the rocket ascended, ground control said, “Godspeed, John Glenn.” “Godspeed” comes from the expression, “May God prosper you.”

Though we don’t often hear this word today, the apostle John used it in his second epistle: “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him Godspeed” (2 John 1:10 kjv).

John has been referred to as “the apostle of love,” so why would he warn believers against pronouncing a blessing on others? Traveling evangelists were dependent on the hospitality of Christians to provide them with room and board. John was telling the believers that biblical truth is important. If itinerant missionaries were not preaching doctrine consistent with apostolic teaching, believers were not to bless their work by providing lodging or financial assistance.

This is also true for believers today. We are to treat everyone with kindness because God is kind to us. But when asked to financially support an endeavor, it’s important to always ask Him for wisdom. The Spirit who guides us into truth (John 16:13) will show us when it is appropriate to bid Godspeed to those we encounter. —Dennis Fisher

Dear Lord, You know my heart. I love You

and want Your kingdom to prosper.

Give me Your wisdom to know where You want

me to take part and how. Thank You.

 

God’s Spirit through His Word gives wisdom to discern truth from error.

 

 

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning  “I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content.” /

Philippians 4:11

These words show us that contentment is not a natural propensity of man. “Ill weeds grow apace.” Covetousness, discontent, and murmuring are as natural to man as thorns are to the soil. We need not sow thistles and brambles; they come up naturally enough, because they are indigenous to earth: and so, we need not teach men to complain; they complain fast enough without any education. But the precious things of the earth must be cultivated. If we would have wheat, we must plough and sow; if we want flowers, there must be the garden, and all the gardener’s care. Now, contentment is one of the flowers of heaven, and if we would have it, it must be cultivated; it will not grow in us by nature; it is the new nature alone that can produce it, and even then we must be specially careful and watchful that we maintain and cultivate the grace which God has sown in us. Paul says, “I have learned … to be content;” as much as to say, he did not know how at one time. It cost him some pains to attain to the mystery of that great truth. No doubt he sometimes thought he had learned, and then broke down. And when at last he had attained unto it, and could say, “I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content,” he was an old, grey-headed man, upon the borders of the grave–a poor prisoner shut up in Nero’s dungeon at Rome. We might well be willing to endure Paul’s infirmities, and share the cold dungeon with him, if we too might by any means attain unto his good degree. Do not indulge the notion that you can be contented without learning, or learn without discipline. It is not a power that may be exercised naturally, but a science to be acquired gradually. We know this from experience. Brother, hush that murmur, natural though it be, and continue a diligent pupil in the College of Content.

 

Evening   “Thy good Spirit.” / Nehemiah 9:20

Common, too common is the sin of forgetting the Holy Spirit. This is folly and ingratitude. He deserves well at our hands, for he is good, supremely good. As God, he is good essentially. He shares in the threefold ascription of Holy, holy, holy, which ascends to the Triune Jehovah. Unmixed purity and truth, and grace is he. He is good benevolently, tenderly bearing with our waywardness, striving with our rebellious wills; quickening us from our death in sin, and then training us for the skies as a loving nurse fosters her child. How generous, forgiving, and tender is this patient Spirit of God. He is good operatively. All his works are good in the most eminent degree: he suggests good thoughts, prompts good actions, reveals good truths, applies good promises, assists in good attainments, and leads to good results. There is no spiritual good in all the world of which he is not the author and sustainer, and heaven itself will owe the perfect character of its redeemed inhabitants to his work. He is good officially; whether as Comforter, Instructor, Guide, Sanctifier, Quickener, or Intercessor, he fulfils his office well, and each work is fraught with the highest good to the church of God. They who yield to his influences become good, they who obey his impulses do good, they who live under his power receive good. Let us then act towards so good a person according to the dictates of gratitude. Let us revere his person, and adore him as God over all, blessed forever; let us own his power, and our need of him by waiting upon him in all our holy enterprises; let us hourly seek his aid, and never grieve him; and let us speak to his praise whenever occasion occurs. The church will never prosper until more reverently it believes in the Holy Ghost. He is so good and kind, that it is sad indeed that he should be grieved by slights and negligences.

The Joy of Pleasing God – John MacArthur

 

“The blameless in their walk are [God’s] delight” (Prov. 11:20).

Our focus so far this month has been on the joy we experience in knowing and serving Christ. Before we turn our attention to the theme of godliness, I want you to consider two additional aspects of joy: the joy of pleasing God, and how to lose your joy. Pleasing God is our topic for today.

Perhaps you haven’t given much thought to how you can bring joy to God, but Scripture mentions several ways. Luke 15:7, for example, says, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” Verse 10 adds, “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Repentance brings joy to God.

Faith is another source of joy for God. Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him.” That’s the negative side of a positive principle: when you trust God, He is pleased.

In addition to repentance and faith, prayer also brings God joy. Proverbs 15:8 says, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is His delight.”

Righteous living is another source of joy to God, as David acknowledges in 1 Chronicles 29:17: “I know, O my God, that Thou triest the heart and delightest in uprightness.” Solomon added that those who walk blamelessly are God’s delight (Prov. 11:20).

Repentance, faith, prayer, and righteous living all please God because they are expressions of love. That’s the over-arching principle. Whenever you express your love to Him–whether by words of praise or acts of obedience–you bring Him joy.

Doesn’t it thrill you to know that the God of the universe delights in you? It should! Let that realization motivate you to find as many ways as possible to bring Him joy today.

Suggestions for Prayer:   Thank God for the privilege of bringing Him joy.

Thank Him for His grace, which enables you to love Him and to express your love in repentance, faith, prayer, and righteous living (cf. 1 John 4:19).

For Further Study: Read 1 Kings 3:3-15.

What did Solomon request of God?

What was God’s response?

More Important Than Food – Greg Laurie

 

If you want to learn about God and His ways, then learn to study this wonderful book God has given to us, the Bible. It is the user’s manual to life. It tells us what is right and wrong and what is good and evil. It tells us how to live, how to do business, how to have a successful marriage, and much, much more.

But most importantly, the Bible tells us how to know and walk with God. In fact, everything you need to know about God is found in the pages of the Bible. That is why Abraham Lincoln said of the Bible, “All of the good from the Savior is communicated through this Book. All things that are desirable to man are contained in it.”

Sadly, many people today own Bibles but seldom read them. As many as 93 percent of Americans own at least one Bible, but little more than half read it, and only 25 percent read it every day.

Yet success or failure in the Christian life is determined by how much the Bible you get into your heart and mind every day, and then by how completely you obey its instructions.

Think about that for a moment.

If you want to grow spiritually, then regular Bible reading must become a part of your life. It is essential. It is not something you will outgrow, any more than you will outgrow eating or breathing. When you begin to grasp the central place Scripture must command in your life, then you will start to appreciate Job’s words about it: “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12).

Surviving Our Present Culture – Charles Stanley

 

1 Corinthians 3:1-3

When we are called into a new life with Christ, we will encounter obstacles. One of the biggest barriers is the culture in which we live. We may not ever recognize the danger we are in until we fall. Let’s look honestly at our world.

First, it’s a secular culture, which means it has little interest in religious matters or the Bible. It teaches us to trust in ourselves and in the things we can see rather than in our unseen triune God.

Our world is also materialistic. Its primary focus is on accumulating possessions and gaining wealth, not on caring about others and giving sacrificially. Tragically, many of the things our culture values stand in opposition to the way Jesus calls us to live. When Scripture contradicts what our society believes, it’s not uncommon for people to belittle our lifestyle as narrow-minded and extreme.

In many ways, our society is spiritually rebellious, in that it defies both the laws of God and the laws of man; obedience is considered optional. A large percentage of the population rejects God’s viewpoint on intimacy and marriage in order to please self—as a result, immorality is prevalent. But they have been deceived into thinking that they can violate God’s laws without any consequences.

Unless we’re careful, we can fall prey to the world’s traps. The key to avoiding its snares is God’s Word. When we study Scripture, the Holy Spirit will identify lies we are believing and show how we can apply God’s truth to set us free. Are you immersed in the culture or in God’s truth?

Our Daily Bread — Crying Out To God

 

Psalm 142

By prayer and supplication . . . let your requests be made known to God. —Philippians 4:6

After all these years, I still don’t fully understand prayer. It’s something of a mystery to me. But one thing I know: When we’re in desperate need, prayer springs naturally from our lips and from the deepest level of our hearts.

When we’re frightened out of our wits, when we’re pushed beyond our limits, when we’re pulled out of our comfort zones, when our well-being is challenged and endangered, we reflexively and involuntarily resort to prayer. “Help, Lord!” is our natural cry.

Author Eugene Peterson wrote: “The language of prayer is forged in the crucible of trouble. When we can’t help ourselves and call for help, when we don’t like where we are and want out, when we don’t like who we are and want a change, we use primal language, and this language becomes the root language of prayer.”

Prayer begins in trouble, and it continues because we’re always in trouble at some level. It requires no special preparation, no precise vocabulary, no appropriate posture. It springs from us in the face of necessity and, in time, becomes our habitual response to every issue—good and bad—we face in this life (Phil. 4:6). What a privilege it is to carry everything to God in prayer! —David Roper

What a Friend we have in Jesus,

All our sins and griefs to bear!

What a privilege to carry

Everything to God in prayer. —Scriven

 

God’s help is only a prayer away.

Remember Me – Ravi Zacharias Ministry

 

There is something comforting about the many characters in the Christian story of which we know very little. There was more to the story of the woman who knew that if she could just touch the fringe of Jesus’s robe she would be well. There was more to tell about the woman who anointed Jesus with a jar of perfume, or the thief who hung beside Jesus on the cross. Yet, we are told only that they will be remembered. And they are. However insignificant their lives were to society, they have been captured in the pages of history as people worth remembering, people who had a role in the story of God on earth, people remembered by God when multitudes wished them forgotten. It is to me a kind reminder that our fleeting lives are remembered by God long before others notice and long after they have stopped.

We know very little about the man named Simeon, but we know he was in the temple when he realized that God had remembered him. Reaching for the baby in the arms of a young girl, Simeon was moved to praise. As his wrinkled hands cradled the infant, Simeon sang to God: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation” (Luke 2:29-30).

Simeon uses the language of a slave that has been freed. There is a sense of immediacy and relief, as if a great iron door has been unlocked and he is now free to go through it. God had remembered his promise even as God remembered the aging Simeon. The Lord had promised he would not die before he saw the Lord’s salvation. Now seeing and holding the child named Jesus, Simeon knew he was dismissed to death in peace.

Marveling at the bold reaction of a stranger, Mary and Joseph stood in awe. Upon laying eyes on their child, a man unknown to them pronounced he could now die in peace. They were well aware of God’s hand upon Jesus; yet here they seem to discover that the arm of God, which is not too short to save, extends far beyond anything they imagined.

Simeon’s blessing and words to Mary only furthered this certainty: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too” (Luke 2:34-35). To these words as well, Mary and Joseph stood in awe.

In this Lenten season, followers of Jesus recall the symbol of the cross, the sword that pierced a mother’s heart, and the passion of the one who will continue to be spoken against. An old man in the temple hundreds of years ago, through a fraction of a scene in his life, reminds us still today that to look at Jesus is to physically look at the salvation of God. Whether peering at the child in the manger or the man on the cross, the human heart is yet revealed in its response to him. This is, in fact, our most memorable feature.

Perhaps the small excerpts of the many fleeting lives we find throughout the Christian story were meant to capture this very sentiment. As the thief peered into the bruised eyes of Jesus, like Simeon, he saw the salvation of God. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42). And it was so.

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

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning “To him be glory both now and forever.” / 2 Peter 3:18

Heaven will be full of the ceaseless praises of Jesus. Eternity! thine unnumbered years shall speed their everlasting course, but forever and forever, “to him be glory.” Is he not a “Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek?” “To him be glory.” Is he not king forever?–King of kings and Lord of lords, the everlasting Father? “To him be glory forever.” Never shall his praises cease. That which was bought with blood deserves to last while immortality endures. The glory of the cross must never be eclipsed; the lustre of the grave and of the resurrection must never be dimmed. O Jesus! thou shalt be praised forever. Long as immortal spirits live–long as the Father’s throne endures–forever, forever, unto thee shall be glory. Believer, you are anticipating the time when you shall join the saints above in ascribing all glory to Jesus; but are you glorifying him now? The apostle’s words are, “To him be glory both now and forever.” Will you not this day make it your prayer? “Lord, help me to glorify thee; I am poor; help me to glorify thee by contentment; I am sick; help me to give thee honour by patience; I have talents; help me to extol thee by spending them for thee; I have time; Lord, help me to redeem it, that I may serve thee; I have a heart to feel; Lord, let that heart feel no love but thine, and glow with no flame but affection for thee; I have a head to think; Lord, help me to think of thee and for thee; thou hast put me in this world for something; Lord, show me what that is, and help me to work out my life-purpose: I cannot do much; but as the widow put in her two mites, which were all her living, so, Lord, I cast my time and eternity too into thy treasury; I am all thine; take me, and enable me to glorify thee now, in all that I say, in all that I do, and with all that I have.”

 

Evening  “Whereby they have made thee glad.” / Psalm 45:8

And who are thus privileged to make the Saviour glad? His church–his people. But is it possible? He makes us glad, but how can we make him glad? By our love. Ah! we think it so cold, so faint; and so, indeed, we must sorrowfully confess it to be, but it is very sweet to Christ. Hear his own eulogy of that love in the golden Canticle: “How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine!” See, loving heart, how he delights in you. When you lean your head on his bosom, you not only receive, but you give him joy; when you gaze with love upon his all-glorious face, you not only obtain comfort, but impart delight. Our praise, too, gives him joy–not the song of the lips alone, but the melody of the heart’s deep gratitude. Our gifts, too, are very pleasant to him; he loves to see us lay our time, our talents, our substance upon the altar, not for the value of what we give, but for the sake of the motive from which the gift springs. To him the lowly offerings of his saints are more acceptable than the thousands of gold and silver. Holiness is like frankincense and myrrh to him. Forgive your enemy, and you make Christ glad; distribute of your substance to the poor, and he rejoices; be the means of saving souls, and you give him to see of the travail of his soul; proclaim his gospel, and you are a sweet savour unto him; go among the ignorant and lift up the cross, and you have given him honour. It is in your power even now to break the alabaster box, and pour the precious oil of joy upon his head, as did the woman of old, whose memorial is to this day set forth wherever the gospel is preached. Will you be backward then? Will you not perfume your beloved Lord with the myrrh and aloes, and cassia, of your heart’s praise? Yes, ye ivory palaces, ye shall hear the songs of the saints!

The Joy of Affection – John MacArthur

 

“It is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me. For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:7- 8).

Undoubtedly there are people who occupy a special place in your heart. Perhaps you seldom see them or talk to them, but they are on your mind and in your prayers often.

That’s how Paul regarded the Philippian believers, and it was right for him to do so because they were such an integral part of his life and ministry. They stood by him in every situation–even during his judicial proceedings and imprisonment in Rome.

The gratitude and joy Paul felt was more than an emotion. It was a moral obligation to praise God for what He had accomplished through them. That’s the meaning of the Greek word translated “right” in verse 7.

“Heart” refers to the center of one’s thoughts and feelings (cf. Prov. 4:23). Paul thought of the Philippians often and eagerly yearned for them with the affection of Christ Himself. In Philippians 4:1 he calls them, “My beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown.”

The mutual affection between Paul and the Philippians illustrates that often the strongest and deepest relationships are developed within the context of Christian ministry. There’s a special camaraderie among people who work toward life’s most noble goals and see God achieve eternal results through their efforts. Guard those relationships carefully and cultivate as many as possible.

Suggestions for Prayer:  Make a list of those who share in your ministry. Also list some ways that God has worked through you in recent weeks. Spend time thanking Him for both.

 

For Further Study: Barnabas was a faithful friend and ministry companion to Paul. Read Acts 4:36-37, 9:22-28, 11:19-30, and 13:1-3 and answer these questions:

What does “Barnabas” mean? Did he live up to his name?

How did Barnabas pave the way for Paul’s ministry among the disciples at Jerusalem?

What adventure did Paul and Barnabas share that began at Antioch?

Adversity and Humility – Greg Laurie

 

“So it shall be, when the Lord your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant–when you have eaten and are full–then beware, lest you forget the Lord. . . .”

—Deuteronomy 6:10–12

In his book, The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis wrote, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

We talk about the problem of pain, but let’s talk about the problem of prosperity. Prosperity brings responsibility, because we are not owners; we are stewards. Everything God gives to us is a gift, and we will be held responsible for what we do with the resources that are at our disposal. Therefore, we want to make sure that we remain dependent on God.

When life gets really hard and adversity hits, we pray—and so we should. But sometimes when life is going reasonably well, we sort of forget about prayer. In Acts 12, we read that when James was beheaded and Peter was put in prison, the church prayed—and they prayed with desperation, because they knew that if God didn’t come through, there was no other hope.

The psalmist wrote, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word” (Psalm 119:67).

God gave this warning to Israel before they entered the Promised Land and began enjoying all its blessings: “When you have eaten and are full—then beware, lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage” (Deuteronomy 6:11–12).

Adversity levels us and keeps us humble, while prosperity tends to make us proud and self-sufficient. We don’t think we need God when we’re in good health or have a wallet full of credit cards or a lot of money in the bank. But when an economy goes south or the doctor has bad news, we turn to God, because we are reminded of what really matters.

A Little Over a Lifetime – Max Lucado

 

Will I learn what God intends?  If I listen, I will.  A little girl returned from her first day at school. Her mom asked, “Did you learn anything?” “I guess not,” the girl responded.  “I have to go back tomorrow and the next day and the next day. . .”

Such is the case with learning. And such is the case with Bible study.

Understanding comes a little at a time over a lifetime. James said:  “The man who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and makes a habit of doing so is not the man who hears and forgets.  He puts that law into practice and wins true happiness.” (James 1:25).

The Bible is not a newspaper to be skimmed but rather a mine to be quarried.  Proverbs 2:4 says to “search for it like silver, and hunt for it like hidden treasure.”

And we need to do it today, and the next day, and the next….

Created to Love One Another – Charles Stanley

 

John 13:34-35

Jesus spent His last evening before the crucifixion reminding the disciples of essential principles. Kneeling to wash their feet, He gave them a new commandment—to love one another. In fact, over the course of the evening, He would repeat that phrase five times (John 13:34-35; 15:12, 17). He emphasized the command because He knew it was not only critically important but also one of the toughest to obey.

Putting self-interest before the needs of others is what comes naturally. But since the believer’s old self has been crucified, God’s Spirit can live in and through him or her. Giving of ourselves on behalf of someone else fits who we are in Christ. In fact, we show God’s love best when we care for others—especially those who aren’t easy to love.

In Paul’s New Testament letters, he picked up Jesus’ “love one another” refrain and suggested specific ways to obey. He said to accept one another (Rom. 15:7), bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2), be subject to one another (Eph. 5:21), and live in peace with one another (1 Thess. 5:13). In teaching churches and mentoring young pastors, Paul relied on the same principles Jesus taught: to love God and each other. That’s what it means to be a church that honors the Lord’s name and is attractive to unbelievers.

If you were asked what you find most attractive about God, wouldn’t you say it’s His love? His plan is to use His children to meet emotional, material, spiritual, and physical needs everywhere. So God’s love should overflow from us to fill the empty hearts and hands of those in our sphere of influence.

Our Daily Bread — Second Best?

 

Genesis 29:16-30

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. —Romans 5:8

Leah must have laid awake all night thinking of the moment when her new husband would awaken. She knew that it was not her face he expected to see, but Rachel’s. Jacob had been a victim of deception, and when he realized that a “bait and switch” had occurred, he quickly made a new deal with Laban to claim the woman he had been promised (Gen. 29:25-27).

Have you ever felt insignificant or second-best? Leah felt that way. It’s seen in the names she chose for her first three sons (vv.31-35). Reuben means “See, a Son”; Simeon means “Heard”; and Levi means “Attached.” Their names were all plays on words that indicated the lack of love she felt from Jacob. With each son’s birth, she desperately hoped she would move up in Jacob’s affections and earn his love. But slowly Leah’s attitude changed, and she named her fourth son Judah, which means “Praise” (v.35). Though she felt unloved by her husband, perhaps she now realized she was greatly loved by God.

We can never “earn” God’s love, because it’s not dependent on what we do. In truth, the Bible tells us that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). In God’s eyes, we are worth the best that heaven could offer—the gift of His precious Son. —Cindy Hess Kasper

Love sent the Savior to die in my stead.

Why should He love me so?

Meekly to Calvary’s cross He was led.

Why should He love me so? —Harkness

 

Nothing speaks more clearly of God’s love than the cross.

Alienation and Restoration – Ravi Zacharias Ministry

 

Vincenzo Ricardo. If that name does not mean much to you, you are not alone. It does not seem to have meant much to anyone else except, perhaps, him who bore it. In fact it was not even his name. His real name was Vincenzo Riccardi, and nobody seemed to get it right after the sensational discovery of his mummified body in Southampton, New York. He had been dead for 13 months, but his television was still on, and his body was propped up in a chair in front of it.(1) The television was his only companion, and though it had much to tell him, it did not care whether he lived or died.

Riccardi’s story raises many unsettling questions. How can a human being vanish for over a year and not be missed by anyone? Where was his family? What about his relatives? Why was the power still on in his house? Whatever the answers are to these and other questions, one thing is clear: Riccardi was a lonely individual whose life can be summed up in one word, alienation. You see, Riccardi was blind, so he never really watched television; he needed this virtual reality to feed his need for real companionship. Moreover, his frequent “outbursts and paranoid behavior” may have played a role in driving people away from him.(2)

This is indeed a tragic and extreme tale, but it makes a powerful statement about how cold and lonely life can be for millions across the globe. Even those who seem to have all of their ducks in a row are not immune to the pangs of loneliness and alienation. The Christian story attests that alienation affects us at three different levels. We are alienated from ourselves, from others, and most significantly, we are alienated from God. That is the reality in which we exist. The restoration process involves all three dimensions, but it begins with a proper relationship with God. We cannot get along with ourselves or with others until we are properly related to God. The good news of the Christian gospel is that full restoration is available to all who want it.

This process is well illustrated in an encounter Jesus had with another deeply wounded man who lived in a cemetery. Relatives, and perhaps friends, had tried unsuccessfully to bind him with iron chains to keep him home. He preferred to live among the tombs (alienation from others), cutting himself with stones, his identity concealed in his new name—”Legion” (alienation from self). His mind and body were hopelessly enslaved by Satan’s agents, and his life was no longer his own (alienation from God). It took an encounter with Jesus for the man to be fully restored, “dressed and in his right mind” (Mark 5:15). Only then could he follow Jesus’s command to go back to his family and tell them what God had done for him.

The restoration process remains the same today. Until we are properly related to God, our true identity and potential will always elude us. No virtual reality or gadget can even begin to address the problem, for they only give back to us what we have put into them. They are like the message in a bottle which a castaway on a remote island excitedly received, only to realize that it was a cry for help that he himself had sent out months before. As Augustine prayed, “You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You.” We are finite creatures, created for a relationship with an Infinite Being, and no finite substitute can ever meet our deepest needs. Trying to meet our real needs without God is like trying to satisfy our thirst with salty water: the more we drink, the thirstier we become. This is a sure path to various sorts of addictions.

But when we are properly related to the True Shepherd who calls his sheep by name, loneliness is infused with great hope as we, with Abraham, look “forward to the city with foundations whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10). We become members of God’s extended family. Day by day, we learn to trust God as we travel with others along a heavily trodden path that never disappoints. Friends and relatives may desert us, but we are never alone. We may grieve, but never like those without hope. We have peace and joy within, and even in our own hour of need, others can still find their way to God through us. The alternative is a crippling sense of isolation and alienation within a worldly system whose offerings, however sophisticated and well-intentioned, can never arouse us from spiritual death.

J.M. Njoroge is a member of the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) Erika Hayasaki, “He Died in Vast Isolation,” LA Times, March 31, 2007.

(2) Ibid.

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning  “And his allowance was a continual allowance given him of the king, a daily

rate for every day, all the days of his life.” / 2 Kings 25:30

Jehoiachin was not sent away from the king’s palace with a store to last him for months, but his provision was given him as a daily pension. Herein he well pictures the happy position of all the Lord’s people. A daily portion is all that a man really wants. We do not need tomorrow’s supplies; that day has not yet dawned, and its wants are as yet unborn. The thirst which we may suffer in the month of June does not need to be quenched in February, for we do not feel it yet; if we have enough for each day as the days arrive we shall never know want. Sufficient for the day is all that we can enjoy. We cannot eat or drink or wear more than the day’s supply of food and raiment; the surplus gives us the care of storing it, and the anxiety of watching against a thief. One staff aids a traveller, but a bundle of staves is a heavy burden. Enough is not only as good as a feast, but is all that the greatest glutton can truly enjoy. This is all that we should expect; a craving for more than this is ungrateful. When our Father does not give us more, we should be content with his daily allowance. Jehoiachin’s case is ours, we have a sure portion, a portion given us of the king, a gracious portion, and a perpetual portion. Here is surely ground for thankfulness.  Beloved Christian reader, in matters of grace you need a daily supply. You have no store of strength. Day by day must you seek help from above. It is a very sweet assurance that a daily portion is provided for you. In the word, through the ministry, by meditation, in prayer, and waiting upon God you shall receive renewed strength. In Jesus all needful things are laid up for you. Then enjoy your continual allowance. Never go hungry while the daily bread of grace is on the table of mercy.

 

Evening  “She was healed immediately.” / Luke 8:47

One of the most touching and teaching of the Saviour’s miracles is before us tonight. The woman was very ignorant. She imagined that virtue came out of Christ by a law of necessity, without his knowledge or direct will. Moreover, she was a stranger to the generosity of Jesus’ character, or she would not have gone behind to steal the cure which he was so ready to bestow. Misery should always place itself right in the face of mercy. Had she known the love of Jesus’ heart, she would have said, “I have but to put myself where he can see me–his omniscience will teach him my case, and his love at once will work my cure.” We admire her faith, but we marvel at her ignorance. After she had obtained the cure, she rejoiced with trembling: glad was she that the divine virtue had wrought a marvel in her; but she feared lest Christ should retract the blessing, and put a negative upon the grant of his grace: little did she comprehend the fulness of his love! We have not so clear a view of him as we could wish; we know not the heights and depths of his love; but we know of a surety that he is too good to withdraw from a trembling soul the gift which it has been able to obtain. But here is the marvel of it: little as was her knowledge, her faith, because it was real faith, saved her, and saved her at once. There was no tedious delay–faith’s miracle was instantaneous. If we have faith as a grain of mustard seed, salvation is our present and eternal possession. If in the list of the Lord’s children we are written as the feeblest of the family, yet, being heirs through faith, no power, human or devilish, can eject us from salvation. If we dare not lean our heads upon his bosom with John, yet if we can venture in the press behind him, and touch the hem of his garment, we are made whole. Courage, timid one! thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.”

The Joy of Glorification – John MacArthur

 

God will perfect His work in you “until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).

For Christians there’s an element of truth to the bumper sticker that reads, “Please be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet.” We aren’t what we used to be, but there’s much to be done to make us all He wants us to be. Yet God’s work within us is so sure and so powerful, Scripture guarantees its completion.

Pondering that guarantee led Bible expositor F.B. Meyer to write, “We go into the artist’s studio and find there unfinished pictures covering large canvas, and suggesting great designs, but which have been left, either because the genius was not competent to complete the work, or because paralysis laid the hand low in death; but as we go into God’s great workshop we find nothing that bears the mark of haste or insufficiency of power to finish, and we are sure that the work which His grace has begun, the arm of His strength will complete” (The Epistle to the Philippians [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1952], p. 28).

The completion of God’s work in you will come at a future point in time that Paul calls “the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6). Scripture also speaks of “the day of the Lord,” which is the time of God’s judgment on unbelievers, but “the day of Christ Jesus” refers to when believers will be fully glorified then rewarded for their faithful service (cf. 1 Cor. 3:10-15). All your earthly cares will be gone and God’s promise to keep you from stumbling and make you stand in His presence blameless with great joy will be fully realized (Jude 24).

Concentrating on what is wrong in your life might depress you, but focusing on the glorious day of Christ should excite you. Don’t be unduly concerned about what you are right now. Look ahead to what you will become by God’s grace.

Suggestions for Prayer: Reflect on the joy that is yours because you belong to an all-powerful God who is working mightily in you. Express your joy and praise to Him.

Read 1 Chronicles 29:11-13 as a prayer of praise to God.

For Further Study: Read Revelation 7:9-17 and 22:1-5. What glimpses do those passages give you of the activities of glorified believers in heaven?

 

From Heaven’s Perspective – Greg Laurie

 

After preaching the Good News in Derbe and making many disciples, Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia, where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God—Acts 14:21–22

I think when we get to heaven, we will see things differently. I think we will discover that the things we saw as good weren’t as good as we thought they were. And I think some things that we thought were bad actually will be seen in a new light.

We tend to think of prosperity and success always as good things. For some people they can be, if they are used for God’s glory. But quite honestly, for others, these things can be a great distraction and cause them to forget God.

In addition, we think of sickness or loss or failure as always bad. And they can be bad. Very bad. But they also can be good, because these things can cause a person to cling to God and to lean on the Lord like they never would have otherwise, if things had been better. So in reality, from heaven’s perspective, a so-called bad thing actually can be a good thing.

When his friend Lazarus was sick, Jesus delayed going to see him in Bethany. John 11:5–6 tells us, “So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days.”

Because Jesus loved them, He stayed where He was. Instead of running to them, as they hoped He would, He stayed away. Why? Jesus delayed His arrival so He could bring greater glory to His name.

Jesus allowed this for a greater good. And it all comes down to what the definition of good is. They wanted a healing, but Jesus wanted a resurrection.

I think the whys of our suffering will be revealed in time. But until that day, we need to know that through much tribulation, we will enter the kingdom of God.

Created to Love God – Charles Stanley

 

Luke 10:25-28

The Pharisees and Sadducees put a great deal of time and effort into analyzing the Mosaic Law and disputing the weight of its 613 rules. Was this one more important than that one? Did one apply when another didn’t? Jesus cut right through the debate by summarizing the Law in two key principles: Love the Lord with all of your heart, soul, strength, and mind; and love your neighbor as yourself (Deut. 6:5; Lev. 19:34).

Even before instructing His people to love Him, God identified Himself by various names that revealed His character. For example, Jehovah refers to His being a faithful covenant keeper, and Elohim speaks of infinite power. Through His names, God was drawing attention to His worthiness to be loved above anyone or anything else, and also to His willingness to love extravagantly. He makes unbreakable promises to us and has the power to keep every one.

Scripture doesn’t exaggerate God’s desire for His children to love with their entire being. When He calls Himself a jealous God and demands our devotion, He is pointing out our absolute need for Him (Ex. 20:5). Anything that takes higher priority in our life is an idol and, therefore, a detriment. We are to love one another and ourselves, but nothing should be more important or more central to our existence than Jehovah.

People were created to be loved by God and to love Him in return. Worshipping Him with anything less than our whole self short-circuits His purpose for us. The faithful Covenant Keeper, who is infinite in power, made us for relationship so that we could know, serve, and honor Him.

Our Daily Bread — A Small Sacrifice

 

Mark 10:17-27

With God all things are possible. —Mark 10:27

As we anticipate the coming celebration of Easter, I begin thinking about the sacrifice Jesus made so that I could be reconciled to God. To help me focus on all that He gave up for me, I make a small sacrifice of my own. When I fast from something I normally enjoy, every craving for that food or drink or pastime reminds me of how much more Jesus gave up for me.

Because I want to be successful, I tend to give up something that isn’t a big temptation for me. Yet even then I fail. My inability to be perfect in such a small thing reminds me of why Easter is so important. If we could be perfect, Jesus would not have had to die.

The rich young man whom Jesus encountered along a Judean road was trying to earn eternal life by being good. But Jesus, knowing the man could never be good enough, said, “With men [salvation] is impossible, but not with God” (Mark 10:27).

Although giving up something does not make anyone good, it does remind us that no one is good except God (v.18). And that’s important to remember, for it is the sacrifice of a good and perfect God that makes our salvation possible. —Julie Ackerman Link

I gave My life for thee;

My precious blood I shed,

That thou might ransomed be

And quickened from the dead. —Havergal

 

Jesus sacrificed His life for ours.

Journey of Dust – Ravi Zacharias Ministry

 

I walked through the neatly laid stones, each row like another line in a massive book. My eyes strained to take in all of the information—name, age, rank, country—and perhaps also death itself, the fragility of life, the harsh reality of war. In that field of graves, a war memorial for men lost as prisoners of war, slaves laboring to construct the Burma-Siam railway, I felt as the psalmist: “laid low in the dust.” Or like Job sitting among the dust and ashes of a great tragedy. Then one stone stopped my wandering and said what I could not. On an epitaph in the middle of the cemetery was written: “There shall be in that great earth, a richer dust concealed.”(1)

It is helpful, I think, to be reminded that we are dust. It seems crucial to take this reminder with us as we move through life—through successes, disappointments, surprises, distractions, tragedy. For Christians, it is also a truth to help us the vast and terrible events of Holy Week. The season of Lent, the forty days in which the church prepares to encounter the events of Easter, thankfully begins with the ashes of Ash Wednesday. On this day, foreheads are marked with a bold and ashen cross of dust, recalling both our history and our future, invoking repentance, inciting stares. Marked with the Cross, we are Christ’s own: pilgrims on a journey that proclaims death and resurrection all at once. The journey through Lent into the light and darkness of Holy Week is for those made in dust who will return to dust, those willing to trace the breath that began all of life to the place where Christ breathed his last. It is a journey that expends everything within us.

There is a Latin word that was once used to denote the provisions necessary for a person going on a long journey—the clothes, food, and money the traveler would need along the way. Viaticum was a word often used by Roman magistrates. It was the payment or goods given to those who were sent into the provinces to exercise an office or perform a service. The viaticum was vital provision for an uncertain journey. Fittingly, the early church employed this image to speak of the Eucharist when it was administered to a dying person. The viaticum, the bread of one’s last Communion, was seen as sustenance for Christians on their way from this world into another. Sometime later, the word was used not only to describe a last Communion, but as the Sacrament of Communion for all people. It is as if to say: our communion with Christ within world is provision for the way home. The viaticum is God’s answer to Jacob’s vow, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s house, then the LORD will be my God.”(2) It is precisely what Christ offered when he said, “Take and eat. This is my body.” The journey from dust to dust and back to the Father’s house would be far too great without it.

The world of humanity is flattened by the realities of death and sorrow. From the invitation to consume Christ’s body and blood in the Last Supper to the desolation of that body on the Cross, we are undone by events that began before us and will continue long we are gone. We are, in the words of Isaiah or the sentiments of the psalmist, like grass that withers, flowers that blow away like dust. But so we are, in this great earth, a richer dust concealed. Walking in cemeteries we realize this; following Christ we can proclaim it. Walking through Lent as dust and ashes bids us to see our need for God’s unchanging provision. God offers us the Cross for the journey, the communion of Christ, the forgiveness of sins, and the life everlasting.

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

(1) This is a line from a poem of Rupert Brookes entitled “1914.”

(2) Genesis 28:20-22.