VIDEO When Plans Turn to Ashes, Dr Charles Stanley

Jul 20, 2014

Dr. Charles F. Stanley is senior pastor of First Baptist Church Atlanta, founder of In Touch Ministries.

Grace in Our Hearts – Will You Examine Yourself?

Grace in Our Hearts

Let your speech always be with grace. —Colossians 4:6

A few years ago, four-star General Peter Chiarelli (the No. 2 general in the US Army at that time) was mistaken for a waiter by a senior presidential advisor at a formal Washington dinner. As the general stood behind her in his dress uniform, the senior advisor asked him to get her a beverage. She then realized her mistake, and the general graciously eased her embarrassment by cheerfully refilling her glass and even inviting her to join his family sometime for dinner.

The word gracious comes from the word grace, and it can mean an act of kindness or courtesy, like the general’s. But it has an even deeper meaning to followers of Christ. We are recipients of the incredible free and unmerited favor—grace—that God has provided through His Son, Jesus (Eph. 2:8).

Because we have received grace, we are to show it in the way we treat others—for example, in the way we speak to them: “The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious” (Eccl. 10:12). Grace in our hearts pours out in our words and deeds (Col. 3:16-17).

Learning to extend the grace in our hearts toward others is a by-product of the life of a Spirit-filled follower of Christ Jesus—the greatest of grace-givers.

Dear heavenly Father, help me today to season my words with grace. May all that I say and do be gracious to others and pleasing to You, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

God’s grace in the heart brings out good deeds in the life.

By Cindy Hess Kasper

Will You Examine Yourself?

Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the Lord…” —Joshua 24:19

Do you have even the slightest reliance on anything or anyone other than God? Is there a remnant of reliance left on any natural quality within you, or on any particular set of circumstances? Are you relying on yourself in any manner whatsoever regarding this new proposal or plan which God has placed before you? Will you examine yourself by asking these probing questions? It really is true to say, “I cannot live a holy life,” but you can decide to let Jesus Christ make you holy. “You cannot serve the Lord…”— but you can place yourself in the proper position where God’s almighty power will flow through you. Is your relationship with God sufficient for you to expect Him to exhibit His wonderful life in you?

“The people said to Joshua, ‘No, but we will serve the Lord!’ ” (Joshua 24:21). This is not an impulsive action, but a deliberate commitment. We tend to say, “But God could never have called me to this. I’m too unworthy. It can’t mean me.” It does mean you, and the more weak and feeble you are, the better. The person who is still relying and trusting in anything within himself is the last person to even come close to saying, “I will serve the Lord.”

We say, “Oh, if only I really could believe!” The question is, “Will I believe?” No wonder Jesus Christ placed such emphasis on the sin of unbelief. “He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief” (Matthew 13:58). If we really believed that God meant what He said, just imagine what we would be like! Do I really dare to let God be to me all that He says He will be?

by Oswald Chambers

The Landmine of Fear

Psalms 27:1-4

Fear has been a part of man’s emotional makeup since the fall. When Adam and Eve rebelled against the Lord, they hid themselves from Him and were afraid (Genesis 3:10). Things haven’t changed much. Anxiety often affects our thinking and controls our actions. It can keep us boxed in and unwilling to venture into unknown territory.

Let truth help you defeat fear. Remember that God is . . .

Almighty. Through the Savior’s perfect life and His sacrifice on the cross, our two greatest enemies have been defeated—Satan and death. Jesus set us free from slavery to sin; the devil has lost control over our lives. What’s more, we no longer face eternal separation from God. Jesus’ physical death has become the gateway to heaven, where we can live with the Father forever.

Always with us. Though He called Abraham to move away from all that was familiar, the Lord Himself promised to remain nearby. In Matthew 28:20, Jesus gives us similar reassurance. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, we as believers have God not only near us but also in us. Nothing can ever separate us from His love—not past mistakes, present circumstances, or difficult people (Romans 8:38-39).

Actively involved. God promises His help, and He always keeps His word. He knows what is happening in our lives and can turn hardships into a time of spiritual growth and ultimate blessing.

God Himself is the reason we should not be afraid. Grasp the truth of His power, presence, and involvement, and use them to disarm the landmine of fear.

The Lord and King Cyrus

“That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.” (Isaiah 44:28)

This is a remarkable prophecy, one of the main stumbling blocks of liberals who use it as an excuse for their completely wrong notion of a “second Isaiah.” Long before Jerusalem was invaded and its temple destroyed by the armies of Babylon, Isaiah was already prophesying its rebuilding!

Furthermore, the great Persian emperor Cyrus (whose nation would eventually conquer Babylon) was here named by God about 150 years before he was born and 175 years before he would fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy by giving Ezra authority to rebuild the temple (Ezra 1:1-2).

Since liberal scholars do not want to believe in miracles and fulfilled prophecy, they have decided that this prophecy could not have been written by the original Isaiah but by some later writer living after Cyrus. The truth is, however, that God controls the future and can reveal it if He chooses, using this very fact as proof that He will keep His other promises. “Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus . . . I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou has not known me” (Isaiah 45:1, 4).

God had also named King Josiah before he was born (1 Kings 13:2; 2 Kings 23:15-16), with the specific prophecy concerning him waiting to be fulfilled for over 300 years after it was first spoken.

It may take a long time, but God will surely do all He has said. “I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isaiah 46:9-10). HMM

The Right Kind of Leaders

Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. —1 Peter 5:2-3

I believe that it might be accepted as a fairly reliable rule of thumb that the man who is ambitious to lead is disqualified as a leader. The Church of the Firstborn is no place for the demagogue or the petty religious dictator. The true leader will have no wish to lord it over God’s heritage, but will be humble, gentle, selfsacrificing and altogether as ready to follow as to lead when the Spirit makes it plain to him that a wiser and more gifted man than himself has appeared.

It is undoubtedly true, as I have said so often, that the church is languishing not for leaders but for the right kind of leaders; for the wrong kind is worse than none at all. Better to stand still than to follow a blind man over a precipice. History will show that the church has prospered most when blessed with strong leaders and suffered the greatest decline when her leaders were weak and time serving. The sheep rarely go much farther than the Shepherd.

Give me the heart of a servant, Lord, that I might be the right kind of leader. Make me Your servant today, I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Spirit Taught: The Result Is Spiritual Illumination

Having the understanding darkened… because of the blindness of their heart. Ephesians 4:18

It may shock some readers to suggest that there is a difference between being “Bible taught” and “Spirit taught.”

Nevertheless, it is so!

It is altogether possible to be instructed in the rudiments of the faith and still have no real understanding of the whole thing. And it is possible to go on to become expert in Bible doctrine and not have spiritual illumination, with the result that a veil remains over the mind, preventing it from apprehending the truth in its spiritual essence.

Most of us are acquainted with churches that teach the Bible to their children, reenforce it with catechism classes, and still never produce in them a living Christianity nor a virile godliness.

Their members show no evidence of having passed from death unto life. None of the earmarks of salvation so plainly indicated in the Scriptures are found among them. Their religious lives are correct and reasonably moral, but wholly mechanical and altogether lacking in radiance.

Many of them are pathetically serious about it all, but they are spiritually blind, getting along with the outward shell of faith while all the time their deep hearts are starving for spiritual reality.

It has been said that “The Scriptures, to be understood, must be read with the same Spirit that originally inspired them.” No one denies this, but even such a statement will go over the heads of those who hear it unless the Holy Spirit inflames the heart!

Too Timid to Resist

Speak every man truth with his neighbour; for we are members one of another. EPHESIANS 4:25

The clever proponents of evil political ideologies are spending millions to make us Americans ashamed to love our country. They use every means possible to persuade our own people that there is little left worth defending and certainly nothing worth dying for.

They are building in the public mind a picture of an American as a generous, tolerant, smiling chap who loves baseball and babies, and who subscribes wholly to the doctrine of the brotherhood of man—so everything is going to be all right! From our point of view, these concepts are having their effects on the nation’s religious life, especially among Protestants.

Let a man rise to declare the unique lordship of Jesus Christ and the absolute necessity of obedience to Him, and he is at once branded as a hatemonger and a divider of men.

The devil has brainwashed large numbers of religious leaders so successfully that they are now too timid to resist him! And he, being the kind of devil he is, takes swift advantage of their cowardice, erecting altars to Baal everywhere!

Lord, I pray that You will raise up a new generation of religious and political leaders who are full of integrity and who are not ashamed to honor You before men.