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Read Matthew 25:31-46
Today, most Americans are celebrating our country’s independence. Flags are flying, families are gathering, and fireworks will fill the night sky. We do this to show appreciation for our American citizenship and to honor those who sacrificed to provide our freedoms.
You may be celebrating Independence Day. Or perhaps you’re a citizen of one of the other great nations of the world. No matter where you live, if you believe in Christ, then we’re fellow citizens. You see, we share a citizenship in the kingdom of God.
The word kingdom simply means “rule.” So kingdom of God refers to the Lord’s complete rule and authority. He certainly reigns in the hearts of His devoted followers.
Today, we understand this in a spiritual sense. But Matthew 25:46 proclaims that the Enemy will be defeated in the future and the enemies of God will be removed from the world forever. At that point, Christ will establish His physical kingdom in the new heaven and the new earth. And, as kingdom citizens, all believers will reside there together.
Nations and nationalities are important. But they are not eternal. To be an effective citizen of God’s kingdom, you must look beyond your country’s borders and view the world through the eyes of God. Then, you’ll see your brothers and sisters, friends, and countrymen in the new kingdom, the realm where we’ll all celebrate together.
Questions: How can we celebrate the fact that our citizenship is in the kingdom of God?
About the Author Charles Stanley
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“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” (Colossians 2:9-10)
All the attributes of Christ, as God and man, are at our disposal. All the fullness of the Godhead, whatever that marvelous term may comprehend, is ours to make us complete. He cannot endow us with the attributes of Deity; but He has done all that can be done, for He has made even His divine power and Godhead subservient to our salvation. His omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, immutability and infallibility, are all combined for our defense.
Arise, believer, and behold the Lord Jesus yoking the whole of His divine Godhead to the chariot of salvation! How vast His grace, how firm His faithfulness, how unswerving His immutability, how infinite His power, how limitless His knowledge! All these are by the Lord Jesus made the pillars of the temple of salvation; and all, without diminution of their infinity, are covenanted to us as our perpetual inheritance. The fathomless love of the Saviour’s heart is every drop of it ours; every sinew in the arm of might, every jewel in the crown of majesty, the immensity of divine knowledge, and the sternness of divine justice, all are ours, and shall be employed for us. The whole of Christ, in His adorable character as the Son of God, is by Himself made over to us most richly to enjoy.
His wisdom is our direction, His knowledge our instruction, His power our protection, His justice our surety, His love our comfort, His mercy our solace, and His immutability our trust. He makes no reserve, but opens the recesses of the Mount of God and bids us dig in its mines for the hidden treasures. “All, all, all are yours,” saith He, “be ye satisfied with favor and full of the goodness of the Lord.” Oh! how sweet thus to behold Jesus, and to call upon Him with the certain confidence that in seeking the interposition of His love or power, we are but asking for that which He has already faithfully promised.
Question: Which of God’s glorious attributes will you hold fast to today?
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Please open your Bible and read Psalm 19.
Truly “the heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1) and God is revealed in our natural world: “From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God.” (Romans 1:20)
It is, however, a mistake to base our beliefs on the natural world alone. Christian apologist Matthew Slick notes that “If we look at a beautiful sunrise, we decide god is ‘good’; if we look at a hurricane, we decide god is ‘cruel’” for our world has been corrupted by sin. Although God’s image which he imbued to us upon creation (Genesis 1:26) has been defaced by our sin, it can never be entirely erased. Similarly, although the world is corrupt, God’s glory continues to peek through the dark clouds, providing illumination for all who allow God’s light to shine in their hearts. (2 Corinthians 4:5-6)
After all, “Now we see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now.” (1 Corinthians 13:12) While we might know about God from nature, we can only know Him personally through His Son Jesus Christ and by reading His word to us in the Bible. Nevertheless, we can experience God’s real presence through His creation, and this is one of the amazing gifts that God has given us.
Question: How can the grandeur of God’s creation help a person begin to know the God who created it?
Originally published in Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening devotionals as the entry for March 8th AM
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“We must go through much tribulation to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)
God’s people have their trials. It was never designed by God, when He chose His people, that they should be an untried people. They were chosen in the furnace of affliction; they were never chosen to worldly peace and earthly joy. Freedom from sickness and the pains of mortality was never promised them; but when their Lord drew up the charter of privileges, He included chastisements amongst the things to which they should inevitably be heirs. Trials are a part of our lot; they were predestinated for us in Christ’s last legacy.
So surely as the stars are fashioned by his hands, and their orbits fixed by Him, so surely are our trials allotted to us: He has ordained their season and their place, their intensity and the effect they shall have upon us. Good men must never expect to escape troubles; if they do, they will be disappointed, for none of their predecessors have been without them. Mark the patience of Job; remember Abraham, for he had his trials, and by his faith under them, he became the “Father of the faithful.” Note well the biographies of all the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, and you shall discover none of those whom God made vessels of mercy, who were not made to pass through the fire of affliction.
It is ordained of old that the cross of trouble should be engraved on every vessel of mercy, as the royal mark whereby the King’s vessels of honor are distinguished. But although tribulation is thus the path of God’s children, they have the comfort of knowing that their Master has traversed it before them; they have His presence and sympathy to cheer them, His grace to support them, and His example to teach them how to endure; and when they reach “the kingdom,” it will more than make amends for the “much tribulation” through which they passed to enter it.
Question: Even when we don’t know why we are facing trails, how should we respond to them, in the way God wants us to?
“Even the youths shall be exhausted, and the young men will all give up. But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint”
I flew all night from Los Angeles to New York for a very important meeting with the president of one of the major television networks, and after only three hours in New York flew back across the continent to Portland, Oregon, to speak that night at a conference of several hundred pastors.
Every fiber of my being ached with fatigue as I waited for my luggage in the Portland airport. In only 30 minutes I would be speaking to the pastors, yet I felt about as spiritual as a head of cabbage. Suddenly I felt impressed to pray, “Lord, do You have something You would like to share with me?”
Immediately I felt a leading to turn to the 40th chapter of Isaiah. As I read those familiar words, which at that instant had new, inspiring meaning for me, I sensed a surge of strength, energy, and power flow into and through my body. I suddenly felt that I could have thrown my luggage over the building and run to the meeting several miles away.
I could hardly wait to stand before those servants of God and proclaim to them the wonder and majesty, the glory and power, the faithfulness and love of our God. Within a half hour or so, I did have that privilege and God empowered and anointed me for the occasion in a most unusual and marvelous way.
Bible Reading: Isaiah 40:25-29
Today’s Action Point:
As I discover a need for renewed strength today, I will say with the psalmist, “I will go in the strength of the Lord God” (Psalm 71:16a, KJV). I will repeat that solemn declaration throughout the day, and by faith will claim His supernatural strength for my every physical and spiritual need.
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The summer between my 3rd and 4th year of university I worked at Yellowstone National Park. It was a great summer, full of adventures and new experiences.
On a day off, I had signed up for a day long class in rock climbing. I was successfully making my way up the side of a mountain when the instructor surprised me with an unexpected challenge, when he said, “I want you to push yourself off and fall on the rope!” Questioning why he would ask me to do this, I hesitated, and he wisely pointed out that, “You will never be a good rock climber until you can trust that the rope will hold you. Push yourself off and fall on the rope.”
I was afraid. Obviously, my trust was in my ability to use my hands and feet to scale the mountain. The rope was a secondary source of security, in case I slipped (which I did not plan to do!). I eventually did let go of my hand holds, and I’m here to tell you that the rope held!
There are times when God seems to say the same thing to me as my instructor did that day. “Take the step, release your hands on what you are holding and see that I’m trustworthy.” The writer of the Psalms wrote, “O taste and see that the LORD is good; how blessed is the person who takes refuge in Him!” Psalm 34:8
Just as I would never be a good rock climber without experiencing that the rope will hold. The same is true of my spiritual life. I will never be a responsive Christ follower if I am unwilling to let go of whatever I am grasping when God says, “Let go, trust me.”
Are you willing to let go of the things that give you security? We can only experience God’s goodness when we take those, sometimes scary steps that take faith. Do you trust God is able to hold you securely when you let go of the things that provide comfort or security? What step is God asking you to take? Could it be he is asking you to let go of a relationship, finances or a position … A thought that comforts me is God holds the universe together it is likely He can provide all I need to hold life together … Enjoy the adventure!
Father God, Help me today to truly trust You and to let go of the things I have been putting my trust in. You alone are able to hold me securely! Thank you.
Questions: What step is God asking you to take today? What are the things we look to, other than God, for our security?
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Originally written by Charles H. Spurgeon, published in “Mornings & Evenings,” entry for August 11th, PM.
Updated to modern English by Darren Hewer, 2010.
“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (NKJV)
“Consolation.” There is music in the word: like David’s harp, it charms away the evil spirit of depression. It was a distinguished honor to Barnabas to be called “the son of consolation.” (Acts 4:36, KJV) It is one of the most illustrious names given to any man, for Barnabas shone with some measure of the light of the Lord Jesus who is “the consolation of Israel.” (Luke 2:25)
“Everlasting consolation.” This is most important part, for the eternity of comfort is the crown and glory of it. What is this “everlasting consolation”? First, it includes a sense of pardoned sin. A Christian son or daughter has received in their heart the witness of the Spirit that their iniquities are put away like a cloud. If sin is pardoned, isn’t that an everlasting consolation?
Next, the Lord gives His people an abiding sense of acceptance in Christ. The Christian knows that God looks on them as standing in union with Jesus. Union to the risen Lord is a consolation of the most abiding order; it is, in fact, everlasting. With this blessed assurance, let sickness prostrate us. Haven’t we seen hundreds of believers as happy in the weakness of disease as they would have been in the strength blossoming health? Let also death’s arrows pierce us to the heart. Our comfort never dies, because our ears are full of the songs of saints as they have rejoiced because the living love of God was shed abroad in their hearts in dying moments.
Yes, a sense of acceptance in the Beloved is an everlasting consolation. Moreover, the Christian has a conviction of their security. God has promised to save those who trust in Christ. The Christian does trust in Christ, and we believe that God will be as good as His word, and will save us. We are safe by virtue of being bound up with the person and work of our everlasting consolation, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
“Always be full of joy in the Lord; I say it again, rejoice! Let everyone see that you are unselfish and considerate in all you do. Remember that the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs and don’t forget to thank Him for His answers. If you do this you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)
Don and Ann wanted with all their hearts to please the Lord and worked at being victorious Christians. They diligently kept their quiet time and memorized Scripture, and they were faithful in church attendance. They did everything right. But as they said, “Even though we’ve claimed the fullness of the Holy Spirit by faith and tried to understand and apply identification truths [in which they sought to identify themselves with Christ, his crucifixion, burial and resurrection,] we just don’t seem to be enjoying the Christian life. There’s something missing.”
“In Philippians 4,” I told them, “you will find a surefire spiritual formula for victory in the Christian life. Just allow the Holy Spirit to make this passage a reality to you and apply the following as He enables you:
As an act of your will, decide that you’re going to be full of the joy of the Lord. You are the one who decides whether you’re going to rejoice or be discouraged and sad. Demonstrate before all men an unselfish, considerate attitude. Remember that the Lord can come at any moment, and be prepared.
Do not worry about anything.
Pray about everything.
Thank Him in faith for His answers.
The results of practicing these steps is the most priceless and wonderful experience one can know, the supernatural peace of God that cannot be purchased or acquired in any other way. In order to succeed in this formula for supernatural living, of course, you must already be studying the Word of God, applying its truths to your life daily, living in the power of the Holy Spirit and sharing your faith in Christ with others.
Bible Reading: Isaiah 12:1-5
TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today, as an act of my will, I shall claim the supernatural resources of God by faith and continue to experience and share the abundant life.
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“Whoever tries to keep his life safe will lose it, and the man who is prepared to lose his life will preserve it.”
Luke 17:33 (Phillips)
“There are two ways to view life,” Jesus is saying, “those who protect it or those who pursue it. The wisest are not the ones with the most years in their lives, but the most life in their years.”
What Annie Dillard says about writing in The Writing Life is true about life: “One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, play it, lose it all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now.”
There is a rawness and a wonder to life. Pursue it. Hunt for it. Sell out to get it. Don’t listen to the whines of those who have settled for a second-rate life and want you to do the same so they won’t feel guilty. Your goal is not to live long; it’s to live.
Jesus says the options are clear. On one side there is the voice of safety. You can build a fire in the hearth, stay inside, and stay warm and dry and safe. You can’t get hurt if you never get out, right? You can’t be criticized for what you don’t try, right? You can’t fall if you don’t take a stand, right? You can’t lose your balance if you never climb, right? So, don’t try it. Take the safe route.
Or you can hear the voice of adventure—God’s adventure. Instead of building a fire in your hearth, build a fire in your heart. Follow God’s impulses. Adopt the child. Move overseas. Teach the class. Change careers. Run for office. Make a difference. Sure it isn’t safe, but what is?
You think staying inside out of the cold is safe? Jesus disagrees. “Whoever tries to keep his life safe will lose it.” I like the words of General Douglas MacArthur when he was seventy-eight: “Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul.”
From He Still Moves Stones
© (W Publishing Group, 1995) Max Lucado
Used by permission
Question: Are you ready to step outside of your safe zone?
About the Author: Max Lucado
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“Now the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of meeting there. And the Land was subdued before them. But there remained among the children of Israel seven tribes which had not received their inheritance. Then Joshua said to the children of Israel: How long will you neglect to go and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers has given you?” (Joshua 18:1-3, NKJV)
God brought the Nation of Israel into the land that He had promised to their father Abraham, now it was rightfully theirs and ripe for the taking. Taking it would require they stand up and fight for it, but God promised to back them up and give them the victory. Yet seven of the twelve tribes had not stepped up and apprehended their portion, and consequently had not received their inheritance.
What has God already made available for each of us that we have not fought for and taken possession of? We have an enemy who does not want us to even know all that God has for us, much less see us take hold of it.
Joshua sent out men to “survey” the country and report back. Likewise we need to “survey” the Word of God to know what He has prepared for us and “stake it out” as our own. Find out all that is part of your inheritance as a born again Christian and take it back by faith.
Christ accomplished everything at the cross, it is up to each of us now to take hold and make it a reality in our own lives through prayer, the unfailing word of God, and the appropriate action steps that Holy Spirit leads us in. Commit to following Him one day, one concept, one step at a time, and you will have the victory.
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Questions: How can you find out all that is part of your inheritance as a born again Christian? How can we make it a reality in our own lives?
About the Author Emmie Stanley
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