Tag Archives: Truth

Charles Spurgeon War! War! War!

 

“Fight the Lord’s battles.” 1 Samuel 18:17

Suggested Further Reading: James 3:13-18

It is the Christian’s duty always to have war with war. To have bitterness in our hearts against any man that lives is to serve Satan. We must speak very strongly and sternly against error, and against sin; but against men we have not a word to say, though it were the Pope himself. I have no enmity in my heart against him as a man, but as anti-Christ. With men the Christian is one. Are we not every man’s brother? “God hath made of one flesh all people that dwell upon the face of the earth.” The cause of Christ is the cause of humanity. We are friends to all, and are enemies to none. We do not speak evil, even of the false prophet himself, as a man; but, as a false prophet, we are his sworn opponents. Now, Christians, you have a difficult battle to fight, because you fight with all evil and hostility between man and man: you are to be peacemakers. Go wherever you may, if you see a quarrel you are to abate it. You are to pluck firebrands out of the fire, and strive to quench them in the waters of lovingkindness. It is your mission to bring the nations together, and weld them into one. It is yours to make man love man, to make him no more the devourer of his kind. This you can only do by being the friends of purity. Smite error, smite sin, and you have done your best to promote happiness and union among mankind. Oh, go, Christian, in the Spirit’s strength, and smite your own anger—put that to the death; smite your own pride—level that; and then smite every other man’s anger. Make peace wherever you can, scatter peace with both your hands.

For meditation: “Blessed are the peacemakers.” (Matthew 5:9) Men need to hear of the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) who alone can give them peace with God and, as a result, peace with man (Ephesians 2:14-17).

Sermon no. 250

1 May (1859)

John MacArthur – The Master’s Men

 

“The names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-gatherer; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him” (Matt. 10:2- 4).

We live in a qualification-conscious society. Almost everything you do requires you to meet someone else’s standards. You must qualify to purchase a home, buy a car, get a credit card, or attend college. In the job market, the most difficult jobs require people with the highest possible qualifications.

Ironically, God uses unqualified people to accomplish the world’s most important task: advancing the kingdom of God. It has always been that way: Adam and Eve plunged the human race into sin. Lot got drunk and committed incest with his own daughters. Abraham doubted God and committed adultery. Jacob deceived his father. Moses was a murderer. David was too, as well as an adulterer. Jonah got upset when God showed mercy to Nineveh. Elijah withstood 850 false priests and prophets, yet fled in terror from one woman–Jezebel. Paul murdered Christians. And the list goes on and on.

The fact is, no one is fully qualified to do God’s work. That’s why He uses unqualified people. Perhaps that truth is most clearly illustrated in the twelve disciples, who had numerous human frailties, different temperaments, different skills, and diverse backgrounds, yet Christ used them to change the world.

This month you will meet the disciples one by one. As you do, I want you to see that they were common men with a very uncommon calling. I also want you to observe the training process Jesus put them through, because it serves as a pattern for our discipleship as well.

I pray you will be challenged by their strengths and encouraged by the way God used them despite their weaknesses and failures. He will use you too as you continue yielding your life to Him.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Memorize Luke 6:40. Ask God to make you more like Christ.

For Further Study:

Read 2 Timothy 1:3-5, noting the weaknesses Timothy may have struggled with, and how Paul encouraged him. How might Paul’s words apply to you?

Joyce Meyer – Use the Keys

 

They who seek (inquire of and require) the Lord [by right of their need and on the authority of His Word], none of them shall lack any beneficial thing. –Psalm 34:10

Jesus said, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind (declare to be improper and unlawful) on earth must be what is already bound in heaven; and whatever you loose (declare lawful) on earth must be what is already loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19).

As a believer, you have authority to live a life of victory and to forbid the devil to torment you. It is not lawful for him to destroy you in heaven, so it is not lawful for him to destroy you during your days on earth. Use the keys of the kingdom of heaven that Jesus has passed to you. Loose God’s blessings upon your efforts and bind the evil works that come against the fruit of your labors today.

Greg Laurie – If Only . . .

 

“Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah.” —Matthew 12:39

Have you ever thought, If someone were raised from the dead, I know people would believe? Or, If I could do a miracle for my friends, I know they would believe?

Remember the story of the rich man and the beggar named Lazarus? They both died and went into eternity. The rich man had no place for God, but Lazarus was a believer. At that time before the death and resurrection of Jesus, Hades was divided into a place of comfort and a place of torment. Lazarus went to the place of comfort on the heart and bosom of Abraham. The nonbelieving rich man went to the place of torment.

The rich man called out to Abraham, wanting to go back and warn his family about the horrible place he was in. But Abraham told him, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them” (Luke 16:29 NKJV).

But the rich man persisted. He thought if someone were to rise from the dead, they surely would believe.

Here is what Abraham told him: “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead” (verse 31).

Maybe, like the rich man, you think that if only your friends and family could witness a miracle, they would believe.

Jesus said, “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:39). Jesus was saying, “You want a sign for a nonbelieving world? Here it is: My death and resurrection from the dead.”

Here is our message to lost humanity: Christ died. He rose. He can forgive you of your sin. That is the message we have to share.

Max Lucado – Nothing But the Truth

 

A woman stands before judge and jury, places one hand on the Bible and the other in the air, and makes a pledge.

For the next few minutes, with God as her helper, she will “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”  She is a witness.  Her job is to tell the truth. Leave it to legal counsel to interpret. Leave it to the jury to resolve. Leave it to the judge to apply.  But the witness? The witness speaks the truth.

The Christian, too, is a witness.  We are called to tell the truth. The Bible is present, the watching world is the jury, and we are the primary witnesses. We are called to testify; to tell what we have seen and heard. Our task is not to whitewash or bloat the truth. Our task is to tell the truth.  Period.

Alistair Begg – Are You a Grumbler?

 

And all the people of Israel grumbled. Numbers 14:2

There are grumblers among Christians now, just as there were in the camp of Israel of old. There are those who, when punished, cry out against the affliction. They ask, “Why am I afflicted? What have I done to be chastened in this manner?”

A word with you, grumbler! Why should you grumble against the dealings of your heavenly Father? Can He treat you more severely than you deserve? Consider what a rebel you once were, but He has pardoned you! Surely, if He in His wisdom considers it necessary to chasten you, you should not complain. After all, are you punished as severely as your sins deserve? Consider the corruption that is in your heart, and then will you wonder that so much of the rod is necessary to root it out? Weigh yourself, and discern how much dross is mingled with your gold; and do you think the fire is too hot to purge away the amount of dross you have? Doesn’t your proud rebellious spirit prove that your heart is not thoroughly sanctified? Aren’t those grumbling words contrary to the holy, submissive nature of God’s children? Isn’t the correction necessary?

But if you will grumble against the chastening, pay attention, for it will go hard with grumblers. God always chastises His children twice if they do not respond properly the first time. But know this–“He does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.” All His corrections are sent in love, to purify you and to draw you nearer to Himself. Surely it must help you to bear the chastening with submission if you are able to recognize your Father’s hand. “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” “. . . nor grumble the way some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.”

Charles Spurgeon – The beginning, increase, and end of the divine life

 

“Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly increase.” Job 8:7

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Corinthians 13:5-9

If thou art saved—though the date be erased—yet do thou rejoice and triumph evermore in the Lord thy God. True, there are some of us who can remember the precise spot where we first found the Saviour. The day will never be forgotten when these eyes looked to the cross of Christ and found their tears all wiped away. But thousands in the fold of Jesus know not when they were brought in; be it enough for them to know they are there. Let them feed upon the pasture, let them lie down beside the still waters, for whether they came by night or by day they did not come at a forbidden hour. Whether they came in youth or in old age, it matters not; all times are acceptable with God, “and whosoever cometh,” come he when he may, “he will in no wise cast out.” Does it not strike you as being very foolish reasoning if you should say in your heart, “I am not converted because I do not know when?” Nay, with such reasoning as that, I could prove that old Rome was never built, because the precise date of her building is unknown; nay, we might declare that the world was never made, for its exact age even the geologist cannot tell us. We might prove that Jesus Christ himself never died, for the precise date on which he expired on the tree is lost beyond recovery; nor doth it signify much to us. We know the world was made, we know that Christ did die, and so you—if you are now reconciled to God, if now your trembling arms are cast around that cross, you too are saved—though the beginning was so small that you cannot tell when it was. Indeed, in living things, it is hard to put the finger upon the beginning.

For meditation: An ongoing Christ-experience in the present without a crisis experience in the past is far more valid than an isolated crisis experience in the past without the evidence of an ongoing Christ-experience in the present.

Sermon no. 311

30 April (Preached 29 April 1860)

John MacArthur – Realizing Your Reward

 

“Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt. 5:11-12).

God’s promise for those who are persecuted for His sake is that their reward in heaven will be great (Matt. 5:11). Jesus said, “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, shall receive many times as much, and shall inherit eternal life” (Matt. 19:29).

Focusing on that promise instead of your present circumstances is how you can experience happiness amid suffering. That was Paul’s great confidence even as he faced certain death. In 2 Timothy 4:8 he declares, “In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

Another source of joy in trials is knowing that you share the fate of the prophets themselves (Matt. 5:12). Those godly men suffered untold hardships for proclaiming God’s message. That’s a noble group to be identified with!

One final word of encouragement from Matthew 5:11: persecution will not be incessant! Jesus said, “Blessed are you when. . . .” The Greek word translated “when” means “whenever.” You won’t always be persecuted, but whenever you are, you will be blessed. In addition, God will govern its intensity so you will be able to bear it (1 Cor. 10:13). He knows your human weaknesses and will supply the necessary grace and peace to get you through. That’s why you can rejoice when otherwise you might be devastated and filled with grief.

If you are willing to make sacrifices now, you will receive incomparable rewards in the future. How shortsighted are those who protect themselves now by denying Christ or compromising His truth rather than sacrificing the present for the sake of eternal blessing and glory!

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank God for the example of the prophets and others who have suffered for Him.

For Further Study:

Read Matthew 21:33-39 and Hebrews 11:32-38.

How did Jesus illustrate the persecution of God’s prophets?

What is Scripture’s commendation to those who suffered.

Joyce Meyer – We’re Adopted

 

Although my father and my mother have forsaken me, yet the Lord will take me up [adopt me as His child]. —Psalm 27:10

Today’s scripture has been particularly meaningful and encouraging to me over the course of my life.

I was abused as a child. During my childhood, my mother was deeply afraid of my father, so she was unable to rescue me from the various kinds of abuse he perpetrated against me. I felt very alone, forgotten and abandoned. I have come to understand that multitudes of people that we encounter daily are just trying to survive until someone rescues them—and that someone could be you or me.

The Bible says that in God’s love, “He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). He planned for us to be adopted as His own children. These beautiful words brought a great deal of healing to my wounded soul. God adopts the forsaken and the lonely, and He lifts them up and gives them value.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta felt that each person she met was “Jesus in disguise.” Just try to imagine how much differently we would treat people if we thought of them as she did. She realized that God loves everyone as His own sons and daughters. If someone insulted, slighted, ignored or devalued one of my children, I would take it as a personal insult, so why is it so hard to understand that God feels the same way when one of His children is mistreated?  You and I belong to Him, so we need to love ourselves appropriately and treat ourselves well. We also need to treat others as part of God’s family and do what we can to build them up and add value to their lives.

Love God Today: Always be on the lookout for Jesus in disguise.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Self-Control Is Better

 

“It is better to be slow-tempered than famous; it is better to have self-control than to control an army” (Proverbs 16:32).

You and I know from experience that it is not easy to discipline our emotions, our passions or our self-will. In fact, apart from God’s help, it is an impossibility.

A lustful person who does not control his thoughts quenches and grieves the Spirit.

An overweight person, because he cannot control his appetite, quenches and grieves the Spirit.

A Christian who places undue emphasis on material possessions quenches and grieves the Holy Spirit.

A gossip who cannot control his tongue quenches and grieves the Spirit.

A husband, wife, or child who fails to live according to the commands of Ephesians chapter 5 quenches and grieves the Holy Spirit.

A student who fails to study adequately because of poor discipline quenches and grieves the Spirit.

Many pages would be required to list all the ways in which lack of self-control quenches and grieves the Holy Spirit.

The spirit, mind and body are the three aspects of our being over which we are told to practice self-control.

What is man’s spirit?

It is his immaterial being – man without his body, if you will. The Bible gives many characteristics of the spirit of man. It is that which communicates with the Spirit of God.

Man’s spirit is the center of emotions (1 Kings 21:5), the source of passions (Ezekiel 3:14) and the seat of volition or exercise of the will (Proverbs 16:32). Our spirit is subject to divine influence while housed in our mortal body (Deuteronomy 2:30 and Isaiah 19:14), and leaves the body at the time of physical death (Ecclesiastics 12:7 and James 2:26).

Bible Reading: Proverbs 15:1-5

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Drawing upon this enabling power of the Holy Spirit, I will practice the vital discipline of self-control.

Greg Laurie – Weighed and Wanting

 

For you have proudly defied the Lord of heaven and have had these cups from his Temple brought before you. You and your nobles and your wives and concubines have been drinking wine from them while praising gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone–gods that neither see nor hear nor know anything at all. But you have not honored the God who gives you the breath of life and controls your destiny! —Daniel 5:23

The book of Daniel tells the story of a party that God crashed in Babylon. King Belshazzar, the grandson of King Nebuchadnezzar, didn’t follow in his grandfather’s footsteps. While Nebuchadnezzar came to believe in the true God of Israel, Belshazzar went out of his way to mock Him.

He invited his nobles to a big banquet, and then he took the special vessels used for the worship of God in the temple at Jerusalem and filled them with wine. The Bible tells us that “while they drank from them they praised their idols made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone” (Daniel 5:4). As Belshazzar and his guests partied away, here is what happened:

Suddenly, they saw the fingers of a human hand writing on the plaster wall of the king’s palace, near the lampstand. The king himself saw the hand as it wrote, and his face turned pale with fright. His knees knocked together in fear and his legs gave way beneath him. (verses 5 – 6)

Written on the wall were the words Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin, which meant, “God has numbered the days of your reign and has brought it to an end” (verse 26), “You have been weighed on the balances and have not measured up” (verse 27), and “Your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians” (verse 28).

Normally when we step onto a scale, we want to weigh less than we actually do. But on God’s scales, we want to weigh more. But God was saying, “Belshazzar, you are a lightweight. You have no substance in your life at all.”

 

If you were weighed on God’s scales today, what would He find? Would He find a life of substance? Or a life of emptiness?

Max Lucado – Call Home

 

Years ago, our youngest daughter had a sleepover.  When it came time for bed her guest wanted, more than anything, to go home! I can’t blame her.  When I travel, the hardest part of the trip is going to sleep.  When it comes to resting, there’s no house like your own.

It’s what David asked. He longed to live in the house of God. He asked for his own room—permanently. He longed to retire there in a life-long residence. When David says in Psalm 23:  “I will live in the house of the Lord forever,” he’s saying simply that he never wants to step away from God.

Make it your aim never to leave God’s house. And when you find yourself in another house, do what my daughter’s friend did—call home! He won’t mind—in fact, He’ll be waiting.

Charles Stanley – Telling Your Story

 

John 9:1-7

The Lord will use a Christian’s personal testimony in powerful ways. As we speak about how God has rescued and changed us, the Holy Spirit can heighten people’s interest in spiritual matters and use our words to help them seek Christ as their Savior.

In John 9, we learn about a blind man whom the Lord healed. He had been sightless since birth, and many people wanted to know about his miraculous healing. To each one who questioned him, he told the facts as he had experienced them: “The man they call Jesus made mud and spread it over my eyes and told me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash yourself.’ So I went and washed, and now I can see!” (John 9:11 NLT).

When we obey Jesus’ commands, people around us will notice that there is something different about us. Perhaps they’ll be curious about our ability to remain patient or calm in times of adversity. They may ask why we have given up popular activities or avoid certain places. We can respond as simply as the blind man did: “I was spiritually blind and separated from God by sin. Jesus, the Savior, died on the cross to pay for my sins. Through faith in Him, I know I have been forgiven and have been adopted into God’s family. That’s why I am not the same.”

We don’t have to know every answer to every question in order to talk about our Savior. We need only tell what has happened to us personally. Take the time to write out your testimony in a few sentences, and be able to relate the story briefly and clearly. Then look for an opportunity to tell someone what God has done in your life.

Our Daily Bread — Overcoming Bad News

 

LORD, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us. —Psalm 4:6

“There are many who say, ‘Who will show us any good?’” (Ps. 4:6). These words of David seem to describe the pessimistic outlook we so easily develop in our world today. The front page of newspapers and the top stories on the Internet or television seem to focus on crime, accidents, politics, the economy, and prominent people behaving badly. Our conversations at work and home begin to dwell on difficulties, and it’s enough to discourage anyone. Where can we turn for better news?

In the midst of his troubles, David turned to the Lord, who relieved his distress (v.1) and heard his prayer (v.3). Instead of hoping for temporary good from altered circumstances, he found unceasing encouragement in God. “LORD, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us” (v.6). The result was a gladness of heart that surpassed any earthly prosperity or success (v.7).

Throughout David’s life, before and after he became king of Israel, he was never without opposition. But at the end of the day, he could say, “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety” (v.8).

Pondering the truths in Psalm 4 about God’s care for us is a good way to begin and end every day. —David McCasland

In His care confiding

I will sweetly sleep,

For the Lord my Savior

Will in safety keep. —Psalter

God is a safe dwelling place in life’s storms.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – My Brother’s Shoes

 

In 1969 Simon Wiesenthal penned his thought-provoking book, The Sunflower, which captured the agony he personally experienced in one of history’s darkest moments. Relating one encounter with the Holocaust, Wiesenthal described how he had been taken from a Nazi death-camp to a makeshift army hospital. He was ushered by a nurse to the side of a Nazi soldier who had asked to have a few private moments with a Jew. Wiesenthal warily entered the room and was brought face to face with a fatally wounded man, bandaged from head to toe. The man struggled to face him and spoke in broken words. Wiesenthal nervously endured the anxious monologue, finding himself numbed by the encounter. At the hands of Nazi soldiers like the one now dying before him, Wiesenthal had lost 89 of his own relatives. Here, the soldier confessed to the heinous act of setting ablaze an entire village of Jews; at his whim, men, women, and children were burned to death. With great anxiety, he described his inability to silence from his mind the screams of those people. Now on a deathbed himself, the man was making a last desperate attempt to seek the forgiveness of a Jew. The man begged him to stay, repeating his cry for forgiveness, but Wiesenthal could only walk away.

Yet even years later he wondered if he had done the right thing. Should he have accepted the man’s repentance and offered the forgiveness so earnestly sought? Had he neglected a weighted invitation to speak or was silence the only appropriate reply? Seeking an answer, Wiesenthal wrote to thirty-two men and women of high regard—scholars, noble laureates, psychologists, and others. Twenty-six of the thirty-two affirmed his choice to not offer the forgiveness that was sought. Six speculated on the costly, but superior, road of pardon and mercy.

I don’t know what it would take to absolve anyone of so monumental a crime. I don’t know if it is possible to offer forgiveness for something so far beyond our moral categories. But I know that even in the most unfathomable places, the God of Scripture somehow carries the burden of prodigal grace. Who can fathom the Son of God on the cross pleading with the Father to forgive the guilty for killing him? Who can conceive of a God who comes among his people, trusting himself to the hands of a fallen world, even knowing the troubling outcome? Who can grasp the heart of a God who chooses to love an undeserving people? To live as one marked by this disruptive grace is not easy. It is easier to forget that the command to forgive is thoroughly unsettling; in fact, sometimes haunting. To persist in love when we are tired or overwhelmed, or even rightfully angered by injustice, is a massive and costly request.

I have often found it easier to fit into shoes of the prodigal son than the shoes of the remaining older brother.  Yet in this well-known parable of Jesus, both sons are invited to celebrate and rejoice. To the prodigal child who has squandered and defamed, God’s grace is lavish. It is extravagant and poured out on those who neither expect it nor deserve it. The celebration is thrown in the honor of the run-away, in honor of the return of just one lost sheep. When these shoes are ours, we are both humbled by the Father’s attention and compelled by God’s mercy.

Yet to the child on the other side of justice, the Father’s grace is jarring and disruptive. It is lavish, but wastefully so. His invitation to the feast is both awkward and demanding, a seeming call to overlook the potential of our reckless brother to strike again at our expense. These shoes are much harder to walk in. The Father’s call to forgive the one whose sincerity is questionable is often agonizing; his command to love the habitual prodigals in our midst is both costly and exhausting.

But it is Christ’s request. “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” asked Peter. But Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22).  God’s grace disrupts our sense of righteousness and summons us to respond in similar kind. Whether we find ourselves in the shoes of the prodigal or treading the difficult ground of the older brother there is good reason to rejoice and celebrate the unveiling love of the Father. God’s unfathomable grace and mercy shatters our sense of who is worthy to enjoy the benefits of God’s kingdom, inviting us to the celebration regardless of where, and in whose shoes, we stand.

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

Alistair Begg – An Explanation of Trials

 

You are my refuge in the day of disaster. Jeremiah 17:17

The path of the Christian is not always bright with sunshine; he has his seasons of darkness and of storm. It is true that God’s Word says, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace”; and it is a great truth that faith is calculated to give a man happiness below as well as bliss above. But life confirms that if the experience of the righteous is “like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day,” sometimes that light is eclipsed. At certain periods clouds cover the believer’s sun, and he walks in darkness and sees no light.

There are many who have rejoiced in the presence of God for a season; they have basked in the sunshine in the early stages of their Christian life; they have walked along the “green pastures” by the side of the “still waters.” But suddenly they find that the glorious sky is clouded; instead of the promised land they have to endure the wilderness; in place of sweet waters, they find troubled streams, bitter to their taste, and they say, “Surely, if I were a child of God, this would not happen.” Do not say that if you are walking in darkness. The best of God’s saints must drink the bitter potion; the dearest of His children must bear the cross. No Christian has enjoyed perpetual prosperity; no believer can always keep his heart in constant tune.

Perhaps the Lord gave you in the beginning a smooth and unclouded path because you were weak and timid. He moderated the wind on account of your weakness, but now that you are stronger in the spiritual life, you must enter upon the riper and rougher experience of God’s full-grown children. We need winds and tempests to exercise our faith, to tear off the rotten branches of self-reliance, and to root us more firmly in Christ. The day of evil reveals to us the value of our glorious hope.

Charles Spurgeon – Christ’s people—imitators of him

 

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13

Suggested Further Reading: Ephesians 4:11-16

I will ever maintain—that by grace we are saved, and not by ourselves; but equally must I testify, that where the grace of God is, it will produce fitting deeds. To these I am ever bound to exhort you, while you are ever expected to have good works for necessary purposes. Again, I do not, when I say that a believer should be a striking likeness of Jesus, suppose that any one Christian will perfectly exhibit all the features of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; yet my brethren, the fact that perfection is beyond our reach, should not diminish the ardour of our desire after it. The artist, when he paints, knows right well that he shall not be able to excel Apelles; but that does not discourage him; he uses his brush with all the greater pains, that he may at least in some humble measure resemble the great master. So the sculptor; though persuaded that he will not rival Praxiteles, will hew out the marble still, and seek to be as near the model as possible. Just so the Christian man; though he feels he never can mount to the height of complete excellence, and perceives that he never can on earth become the exact image of Christ, still holds it up before him, and measures his own deficiencies by the distance between himself and Jesus. This will he do, forgetting all he has attained, he will press forward, crying, Excelsior! Going upwards still, desiring to be conformed more and more to the image of Christ Jesus.

For meditation: Christians are fellow-pupils in the masterclass of the supreme Master (John 13:12-15).

n.b: Apelles (4th century BC) Court painter to Alexander the Great.

Praxiteles (mid 4th century BC) Athenian sculptor. Regarded as one of the greatest Greek sculptors of his day.

Sermon no. 21

29 April (1855)

John MacArthur – Receiving Christ’s Wounds

 

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me” (Matt. 5:10-11).

Savonarola has been called the Burning Beacon of the Reformation. His sermons denouncing the sin and corruption of the Roman Catholic Church of his day helped pave the way for the Protestant Reformation. Many who heard his powerful sermons went away half-dazed, bewildered, and speechless. Often sobs of repentance resounded throughout the entire congregation as the Spirit of God moved in their hearts. However, some who heard him couldn’t tolerate the truth and eventually had him burned at the stake.

Jesus said, “‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). Sinful people will not tolerate a righteous standard. Prior to Christ’s birth, the world had never seen a perfect man. The more people observed Christ, the more their own sinfulness stood out in stark contrast. That led some to persecute and finally kill Him, apparently thinking that by eliminating the standard they wouldn’t have to keep it.

Psalm 35:19 prophesies that people would hate Christ without just cause. That is true of Christians as well. People don’t necessarily hate us personally but resent the holy standard we represent. They hate Christ, but He isn’t here to receive their hatred, so they lash out at His people. For Savonarola that meant death. For you it might mean social alienation or other forms of persecution.

Whatever comes your way, remember that your present sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the glory you will one day experience (Rom. 8:18). Therefore, “to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing” (1 Pet. 4:13).

Suggestions for Prayer:

When you suffer for Christ’s sake, thank Him for that privilege, recalling how much He suffered for you.

For Further Study:

Before his conversion, the apostle Paul (otherwise known as Saul) violently persecuted Christians, thinking he was doing God a favor. Read Acts 8:1-3, 9:1-31, and 1 Timothy 1:12- 17, noting Paul’s transformation from persecutor to preacher.

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Protects Worshipers

 

“He protects all those who love Him, but destroys the wicked” (Psalm 145:20).

Throughout Scripture one is reminded over and over again that when a person obeys Him, God blesses that person. And when a person – or a nation – disobeys Him, God disciplines, just as a loving father disciplines his disobedient child because he loves him, not because of his wrath or any evil intent.

The Israelites, though warned many times that if they disobeyed God He would destroy them, finally had to be destroyed – after numerous warnings and disciplinings (including grievous plagues) – because of their disobedience (Deuteronomy, chapters 8 and 28; Amos, chapter 4). God still disciplines men and nations. It is a sobering thing to disobey God.

Someone has said, “We do not break God’s laws, but God’s laws break us.” If we obey them, we are blessed. If we disobey them, we must suffer the consequences.

Scripture suggests that what applies to individuals and to nations also applies to Christian movements or organizations such as the one with which I have the privilege of serving our Lord. So long as I and the now more than 16,000 full-time and associate staff members continue to obey God, His hand of blessing will remain upon our worldwide efforts. If we disobey Him, He will not only withhold His blessings, but will discipline us as individuals and as a movement.

I pray daily that each one of us may determine to obey God implicitly.

Bible Reading: Psalm 45:14-17

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Recognizing that the laws of God in the spiritual realm are just as inviolate as the laws of the physical realm, and that God blesses those who obey Him and disciplines those who are disobedient, with the enabling of the Holy Spirit I will seek to express my love for God by living a life of faith and obedience for His glory.

Presidential Prayer Team; C.P. – Spiritual Soldiers

 

More than two million men and women are currently enlisted in the United States Armed Forces. Taking a stand against visible enemies is important for the protection and well-being of the nation. But equally important is taking a stand against invisible enemies – and you’re enlisted. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against…spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) As one of God’s spiritual soldiers, you are to put on the full armor of God, “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” (Ephesians 6:18)

I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower. Habakkuk 2:1

When Israel was in a sinful state, God looked for an intercessor. “And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none.” (Ezekiel 22:30) Yet you take your post as a prayer warrior for America as Habakkuk says in today’s verse, knowing prayer ushers in God’s will on earth (Matthew 6:10).

Renew your commitment to stand at your watchpost…and as the Holy Spirit brings the nation’s leaders or issues to mind, go to battle and make prayer your top priority.

Recommended Reading: Ephesians 6:10-20