Charles Stanley – A God of Love

Charles Stanley

Ephesians 3:17-19

The Lord does not base His love for us upon our character or achievements. We know this because of God’s promise in John 3:16 and His action in sending Jesus to die in our place (1 John 4:10).

The Savior’s dealings with people show us the depth of God’s love. Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ 12 disciples, ministered closely with the Lord for three years but in the end chose to betray Him. Even though He knew what Judas would do, Jesus never rejected him. In love, the one betrayed forgave the betrayer.

In another example, a woman caught in adultery was about to be stoned for her transgression. She was condemned by the religious leaders, but Jesus stepped in to protect her. Then, in love, He commanded her to sin no more (John 8:11).

Next, consider Peter, who loved Jesus and desired to follow Him always. In a moment of weakness, however, he denied even knowing Christ. Though Jesus knew in advance the disciple would do this, His love for the man didn’t waver—a fact He proved by appearing to Peter after the resurrection and giving him a prominent place in the developing church.

Two final examples are Zaccheus, the greedy tax collector who took advantage of his fellow citizens, and the Samaritan woman who, after a string of broken relationships, was involved in an immoral lifestyle. None of this stopped Jesus from approaching both of them and offering His forgiving love.

Through faith in Jesus, everyone—even the worst of sinners—can become a child of God and experience the richness of His love. No one is beyond its reach.

Our Daily Bread — Looking For Zacchaeus

Our Daily Bread

Luke 19:1-10

Today salvation has come to this house. —Luke 19:9

Alf Clark walks the city streets looking for Zacchaeus. Well, not the actual one in the Bible—Jesus already found him. Alf and some friends who serve with an urban ministry do what Jesus did in Luke 19. They go purposefully through town to meet with and help those in need.

Alf walks house to house in his neighborhood, knocking on doors and saying to whoever peeks out, “Hi, I’m Alf. Do you have any needs I can pray for?” It’s his way of opening up communication and—like Jesus did with tax-collector Zacchaeus—seeking to supply needed counsel and spiritual life and hope.

Notice what Jesus did. Luke simply says that Jesus “passed through” Jericho (Luke 19:1). Of course, a crowd gathered, as usually occurred when Jesus came to town. Zacchaeus, being “height challenged,” climbed a tree. Jesus, while passing through, walked right over to his tree and told him He had to visit at his house. That day salvation came to Zacchaeus’s house. Jesus had “come to seek and to save that which was lost” (v.10).

Do we look for Zacchaeus? He is everywhere, needing Jesus. In what ways can we share Christ’s love with people who need the Savior? —Dave Branon

God, guide our steps toward and not away

from those who need You. Then guide our words

and our actions so that we can be purposeful

in our encounters with others.

God’s good news is too good to keep to ourselves.

Bible in a year: Psalms 37-39; Acts 26

Insight

When Zacchaeus said he would “restore fourfold” (v.8), he followed the highest pattern rather than the one required under Jewish law. While fourfold restoration was required for sheep stealing (see Ex. 22:1 and David’s response to Nathan, 2 Sam. 12:5-6), the restitution for normal theft was a return of the principal plus an extra 20 percent.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Mysterious Fingerprints

Ravi Z

He seemed to brace himself for what had become the typical barrage of questioning after stating his occupation. The once unrecognized field of “forensic science” now comes attached with visions of beautiful men and women swabbing for DNA, replicating gunfire trajectories, and piecing together the truth with hair, bugs, and CODIS. The tremendous popularity of forensic dramas has made crime scene investigating a household subject. With a real forensic scientist standing in front of me, I admit it was hard to repress my enthusiasm. Predictably, I asked if he watched any of the shows. Humoring my line of questioning for the moment, he admitted that he did not.

The vast public intrigue with forensic science has been increasing as feverously as the viewerships of crime scene television. In Great Britain alone, the increase in students applying for forensic programs is up nearly 33 percent, attributed entirely to the influence of CSI, NCIS, Bones, and many similar programs.(1) They come into their programs believing they already know a great deal about the job because they have seen it all performed. In a more damaging vein, criminologists note the pervasive misinformation that is powerfully influencing criminal justice systems in various ways, particularly and significantly in the minds and expectations of jurors.(2)

Analysts refer to this global phenomenon of forensic pop culture and its consequences as the “CSI Effect,” though speculation on the reasons for our feverish embrace of the motif is wider ranging. In my own right, I find something compellingly uncomplicated in the movement from mystery and crisis through clues and evidence to truth. In less than an hour, I am taken from dark riddle to conclusive resolution. Truth and justice emerge plainly, even where deception, obscurity, and injustice once reigned. In the rare instance when the suspect does not personally own up to the crime after the facts have emerged, the science and its expert witnesses are so definitive that it hardly matters. The truth is clear.

Of course, I know in reality that mysteries are not typically so easily dissected nor the truth so mechanically laid out for the taking. But in that brief hour, I am relieved at the clarity of truth, presented to me quickly and with watertight certainty. English professor Scott Campbell further speculates on the allure of “a longed-for world where deceit is no longer possible and where language finds a close, unbreachable connection to the events it seeks to describe.”(3) On the nature of truth in such a world he notes, “If we know how to look for it, the truth is self-evident. It will, in effect, narrate itself.”

In a world where the category of truth is often subjected to the murkiness of taste and opinion, the attraction to a self-evident, one-dimensional truth is understandable. All the lofty humility of the abstract pluralist cannot beautify the noise of a million clashing voices and truth claims; eventually, we grow weary of the end product and seek a less polluted scene. In the words of the illustrious detective Joe Friday, “All we want are the facts.”

And yet, we must be wary of simplifying the nature of truth in our attempts to simplify our investigations of it. This is precisely what the pluralist must do to make room for all his claims and voices. But in the world of the Christian, the world of truth is far from flat. Nor is its true song a raucous cacophony. Quite the opposite, Swiss theologian Hars Urs von Balthasar oft reflected on the truth as “symphonic.” Elaborating on this, professor Anthony Baker explains, “Truth is not simply a completed score, but the action of playing it back to God the way it was written. Only by following Christ into the cacophony, by descending into hell ourselves, by actively engaging in the redemption of fallen melody, can the church be alive with the resurrective power of the Spirit.”(4)

In other words, truth is not simply something passive that we intercept, like the outcome of a CSI episode that leaves us entirely certain of “what really happened.” Truth certainly has this definitive element; to be sure, the Logos which became flesh is God’s definitive account of truth. But this is something far deeper and more dimensional than cold, unresponsive facts, as further evidenced in John’s description of Christ as one “full of grace and truth” in himself. There is a corresponding, interactive, participatory quality to truth, which takes longer than an hour to absorb and is best understood by engaging its depth and character within a world of impersonal, simplistic alternatives. For if truth is personal—indeed, a Person—it demands a lifetime of shared engagement with the one who is truth and the Spirit who actively leads us into a discovery of this truth.

Without any doubt, the mystery of the Christian religion is great—mystery not in the hidden CSI sense, but mystery revealed. Paul’s description of Jesus is as full of inscrutable truths as it is compelling evidences: “Hewas revealed in flesh, vindicated in spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory” (1 Timothy 3:16). Evidences of the heights and depths of this divine mysterious truth can indeed be received as factual, definitive fingerprints. But so they are clues that point to a multi-dimensional, inexhaustible Person full of grace and truth.

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

(1) Paul Hackett, “Want a Career in Forensics? Here’s Some Hard Evidence,” The Guardian, March 28, 2007.

(2) “Forensics and the Media: A 3-Year Project Examining the ‘CSI Effect’ and a Forensic Pop Culture” presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology (ASC), Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles, Nov. 1, 2006.

(3) Scott Campbell, “‘Dead Men Do Tell Tales’: CSI: Miami and the Case Against Narrative,” Americana: The Journal of American Popular Culture, Spring 2009, Volume 8, Issue 1.

(4) Anthony D. Baker, “Fiddling with the Melody: Illuminating von Balthasar’s Symphony of Truth,” The Other Journal, Issue 15, May 11, 2009.

Alistair Begg – Wayward Sheep

Alistair Begg

…in their distress earnestly seek me. Hosea 5:15

Losses and adversities are frequently the means that the Great Shepherd uses to bring home His wandering sheep; like fierce dogs they worry the wanderers back to the fold. Well-fed lions defy our attempts to tame them; they must be brought down from their great strength, and their stomachs must be lowered, and then they will submit to the tamer’s hand. How often have we seen the Christian rendered obedient to the Lord’s will by the absence of bread and the presence of difficulty. When rich and increased in goods, many professors carry their heads much too loftily and speak exceeding boastfully. Like David, they flatter themselves: “My mountain stands firm; I shall never be moved.”1

When the Christian grows wealthy, is in good repute, or has good health and a happy family, he too often admits Mr. Carnal-Security2 to feast at his table, and then if he is a true child of God there is a rod preparing for him. Wait awhile, and perhaps you will see his substance melt away as a dream. There goes a portion of his estate—how soon the acres change hands. That debt, that dishonored bill—how fast his losses roll in; where will they end? It is a blessed sign of divine life if, when these embarrassments occur one after another, he begins to be distressed about his backslidings and turns afresh to God. Blessed are the waves that wash the mariner upon the rock of salvation!

Losses in business are often sanctified to our soul’s enriching. If the chosen soul will not come to the Lord full-handed, it shall come empty. If God, in His grace, finds no other means of making us honor Him among men, He will cast us into the deep; if we fail to honor Him on the pinnacle of riches, He will bring us into the valley of poverty. Yet do not faint, heir of sorrow, when you are rebuked in this fashion; rather, recognize the loving hand that chastens and say, “I will arise and go to my Father.”3

1) See Psalm 30:6-7  2) The Holy War (John Bunyan)  3) Luke 15:18

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The family reading plan for July 25, 2014 * Jeremiah 21 * Mark 7

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Devotional material is taken from “Morning and Evening,” written by C.H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg.

John MacArthur – Your Incorruptible Inheritance

John MacArthur

“To obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away” (1 Pet. 1:4).

Despite the benefits of bank accounts, stocks, bonds, and a myriad of other investment opportunities, every earthly inheritance eventually is lost. If someone doesn’t steal it, or if it doesn’t lose its value in a stock market crash or recession, death will separate it from you. It’s inevitable! That’s why Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal” (Matt. 6:19-20).

The influence of sin and corruption doesn’t apply only to finances—it affects everything. Paul said, “The creation was subjected to futility . . . in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now” (Rom. 8:20-22). Nothing on earth escapes sin’s corruption.

But your eternal inheritance is not like earthly treasures. It is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading (1 Pet. 1:4). “Imperishable” means it is incorruptible and unable to decay. The Greek word used describes a land that had never been ravaged or plundered by an invading army. The idea is that your spiritual inheritance is secure and can never be violated by an intruder—not even Satan himself. “Undefiled” speaks of something unpolluted by sin. “Will not fade away” suggests a supernatural beauty that time cannot impair. Peter used the same word in 1 Peter 5:4 to speak of the unfading crown of glory that faithful church leaders will receive when Christ returns.

Your inheritance is unique among treasures. No one can steal it, and nothing can corrupt or diminish it in any way. It’s yours to enjoy to its fullest throughout all eternity. Don’t let the pursuit of perishable things distract you from the joy of eternal riches.

Suggestions for Prayer:  Ask the Lord to help you keep a proper perspective on what is of greatest value in His eyes.

For Further Study: Read Matthew 6:19-34.

  • Why shouldn’t you worry about the necessities of life?
  • What priorities should you have?

Joyce Meyer – Power from on High

Joyce meyer

But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth.—Acts 1:8

When the 120 people gathered in the upper room on the day of Pentecost, the count included women (Acts 1:14–15). If women did not need power to spread the Gospel, why were they included in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit?

When Joel prophesied about the future outpouring of the Holy Spirit, he said that God would pour His Spirit out upon all flesh. Upon his menservants and his maidservants He would pour His Spirit out (Joel 2:28–29). He said that “they” would prophesy. He did not say that just men would prophesy. To prophesy can mean the same thing as teaching and preaching. It means to speak forth the inspired Word of God.

Of the thirty-nine co-workers that Paul mentions throughout his writings, at least one-fourth are women. In Philippians 4, Paul encourages Euodia and Syntyche to keep cooperating and states that they had toiled along with him in spreading the good news of the Gospel. Beyond that, I could create a very long list of women who have been successfully used throughout church history to do major things in God’s kingdom.

Lord, I ask You to send the Holy Spirit with power to make me a witness for Your name. Help me to spread Your name throughout the world. Amen.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – On The Throne Beside Him

dr_bright

“I will let everyone who conquers sit beside Me on My throne, just as I took my place with My Father on His throne when I had conquered” (Revelation 3:21).

Can you imagine such glorious majesty as that which is promised in this verse?

In Revelation, Christ is frequently pictured as being on a throne, both in heaven and during His return to earth. More unusual is this promise to overcomers that, just as Christ is seated with God on His throne, they will sit on their thrones with Christ, but this is in keeping with the reward of a crown as described in chapter 2, verse 10.

In Mark 10:35-45, in response to the request of James and John that they be allowed to sit at His right and left in glory, Jesus replied that this was not in His power to grant. On the contrary, He reminded them that they were to be like Him, the “servant of all.”

Matthew 19:28 presents quite a different view, with Jesus telling his disciples that when the Son of man sits on His glorious throne, those who have followed Him “will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

In Luke’s parallel passage (22:30), the disciples are to eat with Christ at His table and also to sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes – a joyful combination similar to the one presented in Revelation 3:21. The promise that the overcomers will rule is to find its glorious fulfillment in their millenial reign with Christ (Revelation 20:4).

In our daily walk with Christ, this view of His grace and love and majesty should spur us on to holy living – to supernatural living.

Bible Reading: Acts 2:30-36

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will strive to express my gratitude and appreciation for God’s wonderful provision for His children by living in such a way that all I do and say will be pleasing to Him.

Presidential Prayer Team;  P.G. – Feel the Heat?

ppt_seal01

The melting point of silver is 1,700 degrees. Once it’s liquid, the refiner can begin his work of removing impurities from the metal. Each time the silversmith stirs the silver, dross comes to the top where it is skimmed off and burned up by the refiner’s fire. The smith does it again and again, until no dross remains and he can see his full reflection in the molten metal.

Take away the dross from the silver, and the smith has material for a vessel.

Proverbs 25:4

Just as even the smallest particle can render the silver impure, so a small sin can mar Christ’s reflection in one of His followers. The Lord says He is like a refiner’s fire. Not a forest fire, indiscriminate in its destruction, or an incinerator fire that reduces everything to ashes. When you feel the heat, know His intent is purifying your life, making you a vessel fit for His use.

America used to have silver as a standard for its monetary system and the Bible as its standard for the conduct of life. Silver was finally abandoned in 1963, and the Bible is in present danger of total governmental and public abandonment. Pray today for a return to righteousness through God’s Word, and for His refining fire to cleanse the nation.

Recommended Reading: Malachi 3:1-12

Greg Laurie – Lapses of Faith  

greglaurie

What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” —Romans 4:3

The Bible doesn’t teach that if you are a Christian, you will never stumble or periodically fall short. But it does teach that if you are a true believer, when you have had a lapse or a stumble, you always will get up and move forward. That is the way to determine whether a person is really a believer or not.

When God came to Abraham in Ur and told him to break away from his family, Abraham basically refused and didn’t go for years. Even after he left, he only partially obeyed God by dragging his nephew Lot along. This only resulted in more friction down the road, when he and Lot eventually parted company. In the course of Abraham’s life, we can also see other lapses of faith. Abraham told his beautiful wife, Sarah, to say that she was his sister because he was afraid someone would kill him if they realized he was indeed her husband. He did that on two occasions.

There were a number of acts of disobedience on Abraham’s part. Having said that, it is also important to point out that although he deviated occasionally from the straight and narrow, he always came back.

If a person says he or she is a believer and falls away and never comes back, then that person is not a believer. As 1 John 2:19 says, “When they left, it proved that they did not belong with us.” (NLT). But if a person is a true believer, then he or she will be miserable in sin and eventually will beat a quick path back to the cross of Calvary.

Today’s devotional is an excerpt from Every Day with Jesus by Greg Laurie, 2013

Max Lucado – Alarms in Your Life

Max Lucado

A fit of anger. Uncontrolled debt. A guilty conscience. Icy relationships. Alarms in your life. When they go off, how do you respond? Be honest, now. Hasn’t there been a time or two when you went outside for a solution, when you should have gone inward? Ever blamed your plight on government? Blamed your family for your failure? Called God to account for problems in your marriage? Your circumstances may be challenging, but blaming them is not the solution. Nor is neglecting them.

Consider David’s prayer in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a new heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” In Romans 12:2 Paul says, “Fix your attention on God. You will be changed from the inside out.”

Heaven knows you don’t silence life’s alarms by pretending they aren’t screaming. But heaven also knows it’s wise to look in the mirror before you peek out the window!

From When God Whispers Your Name