Charles Stanley – Our Relationship With God

Psalm 119:33-40

By trusting in Jesus Christ, a person enters into a lifelong relationship with the heavenly Father. As believers, we have a responsibility to keep that connection healthy.

First, we must learn about our new family. An essential and ongoing part of family life involves knowing and being known by the other members. In the Bible, God gave a detailed description of His attributes, values, and thinking. And since Jesus came to earth, we can better understand His Father’s divine character, which was demonstrated in a human life. As we meditate on Scripture, our sense of connectedness to God will continue to grow.

Second, we should stay in close contact with the Lord through prayer and study of His Word—and resist the temptation to put people, work, or pleasures ahead of Him. Remember: Relationships thrive with consistent interaction but wither if they are neglected.

Third, we must respond to what He has communicated to us. He provided instructions for living and explained what pleases Him. In healthy families, people pay attention to each other. We are to heed our Father’s warnings and obey His commands.

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Our Daily Bread — Follow Me

Read: Mark 2:13-17

Bible in a Year: Judges 11-12; Luke 6:1-26

It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. —Mark 2:17

Health clubs offer many different programs for those who want to lose weight and stay healthy. One fitness center caters only to those who want to lose at least 50 pounds and develop a healthy lifestyle. One member says that she quit her previous fitness club because she felt the slim and fit people were staring at her and judging her out-of-shape body. She now works out 5 days a week and is achieving healthy weight loss in a positive and welcoming environment.

Two thousand years ago, Jesus came to call the spiritually unfit to follow Him. Levi was one such person. Jesus saw him sitting in his tax collector’s booth and said, “Follow me” (Mark 2:14). His words captured Levi’s heart, and he followed Jesus. Tax collectors were often greedy and dishonest in their dealings and were considered religiously unclean. When the religious leaders saw Jesus having dinner at Levi’s house with other tax collectors, they asked, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (2:16). Jesus replied, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (2:17).

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Man of Our Sorrows

“Prosperity, pleasure, and success may be rough of grain and common in fibre, but sorrow is the most sensitive of all created things.”

Those are the words of the famed pleasure seeker, Oscar Wilde. In his De Profundis, written in prison, he wrote with profound earnestness about how much sorrow had taught him. He went on to add, “Where there is sorrow there is holy ground. Some day people will realize what that means. They will know nothing of life till they do.”

As I reflect on those words, I take note first of the one who wrote them. A life of pain was the farthest thing from his mind when he made his choices. In that sense, none of us ever really choose sorrow. But I take note of something else in his words. His claim is bold; he is not merely confessing an idea written across his worldview, but one he insists is written across the world: Sorrow is holy ground and those who do not learn to walk there know nothing of what living means. What he means at the very least is that some of life’s most sacred truths are learned in the midst of sorrow. He learned, for example, that raw unadulterated pleasure for pleasure’s sake is never a fulfilling pleasure. Violation of the sacred in the pursuit of happiness is not truly a source of happiness. In fact, it kills happiness because it can run roughshod over many a victim. Pleasure that profanes is pleasure that destroys.

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John MacArthur – Strength for Today – The Summation of Humility

“Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8).

If believers fulfill their constant debt of love, they will have a continual attitude of sacrificial humility.

Origen, the early church father, wisely said, “The debt of love remains with us permanently and never leaves us. This is a debt which we pay every day and forever owe.” The primary reason you and I can pay that debt is that “the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:5). God’s own love to us and every other believer is the bottomless well from which we can draw and then share with others.

If we have this wonderful, supernatural resource of love through the Holy Spirit, it only follows that we must submit to the Spirit. When we do so, all the enemies and impediments to humility—pride, unjustified power-grabbing, selfish ambition, partisanship, hatred—will melt away. What an overwhelming thought to consider that such humility can be ours because God Himself, through His Spirit, is teaching us to love as we yield to Him (1 Thess. 4:9).

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Wisdom Hunters – Resurrection Life 

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:10-11

  From the domestication of fire and the invention of the wheel, to air travel and the creation of the Internet, human beings have achieved remarkable things. Yet in spite of all of our advancements and accomplishments, the resurrection of Jesus forces us to come to terms with our limitations and shortcomings.

Simply put, we are not all-powerful or all-knowing, neither are we self-originating or self-sustaining. Though we try to deny it, we are all running a losing race with time and daily feel the effects of sin and death on our bodies, families, and communities.

However, the discovery of our brokenness is the very way we enter into a life of worship, wonder, and overwhelming joy!

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Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – Hidden Piggy Banks

We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.
Psalm 78:4, ESV

Young children love collecting coins to fill their piggy banks. They dream of candy and toys as they listen to the clang of carefully dropped coins into bright colored ceramic. Meanwhile, hidden from view, children have a far more important collection growing inside of them: their memories.

Little eyes watch: processing and making sense of the world one moment at a time. Parents do their best to direct their children, creatively using everything at their disposal. In the bustle of life it is easy to forget the most impactful tool available: who we are and who we are becoming.
Whether we are influencing children, friends, or coworkers, who we are speaks the loudest. I can say something is important to me, but do my actions and life agree? Integrity is when a person’s words, actions, and values are aligned. The best way to become a leader worth following is to follow God, allowing Him to transform and direct us. He has infinite wisdom. As we attune and surrender ourselves to God, we grow in our ability to trust Him with ourselves and the ones we love.

Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.
Charles R. Swindoll

1 Samuel 28 – 31

Joyce Meyer – Join the Party

A glad heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is broken.— Proverbs 15:13

When Jesus invited people to become His disciples and follow Him, He asked them if they wanted to join His party. I realize He was talking about His group, but I like to think that traveling with Jesus was probably a lot of fun as well as a lot of hard work.

Repeatedly throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus invite people to leave their lifestyles and side with His party, and He is still issuing that invitation today. Yes, there is work to do for the kingdom of God, but thankfully we can have fun while we do it.

When we follow Jesus, we are not going to a solemn assembly or a funeral. We are joining His party that is full of life, peace, and never-ending joy!

Prayer of Thanks: Father, help me to lay aside the burdens and cares of this world and receive Your joy today. I thank You that You want me to have fun and enjoy the life You have given me. With Your help, I will celebrate Your goodness in my life today and every day.

From the book The Power of Being Thankful by Joyce Meyer.

Girlfriends in God – Stop Running From Fear

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.

Proverbs 1:7

Friend to Friend

Proverbs 1:7 tells us, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to be afraid.

Case in point. I was a tween with pimples; long, lanky limbs; and an attitude the summer our family went to Ohio to visit friends of my parents who lived on a farm. I didn’t much care if these people were nice. I didn’t much care what we would eat for breakfast, lunch, or even dinner. It wasn’t the beach, and I wasn’t overly thrilled to be in Ohio for a vacation. (No offense, Ohio people.) But I had heard they had horses, and that calmed my grump a good bit because, truth be told, I was giddy to ride one.

I just knew I was born to ride! My cousin Beth had horses, but up to that point, she hadn’t had the chance to teach me the ropes. Finally I would have my chance.

The sun danced with a summer breeze the morning we journeyed past the barn out into the pasture for our horse adventure. It was beautiful. A perfect day for an eager girl to do something new and exciting.

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – To Encourage Us

“These things that were written in the Scriptures so long ago are to teach us patience and to encourage us, so that we will look forward expectantly to the time when God will conquer sin and death” (Romans 15:4).

Tom had a “short fuse” and frequently exploded in anger when he was disappointed with himself or others. Then he received Christ and began to study the Word of God, obey its commands and walk in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

His life began to change, gradually at first, until, as he told me recently, it has now been a long time since he has allowed his old nature to express his impatience.

The story is told of an impatient man who prayed and kept praying for God to grant him the virtue he so desperately needed.

Continue reading Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – To Encourage Us

Ray Stedman – God’s Supply

Read: Philippians 4:19-23

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:19

This is a promise for givers, not for non-givers. It’s what God does in return for the expression of your gift. Unfortunately, we often subtract it from its context and take it as a blank check we can cash any time we are in need. It has sometimes been taken to apply to everyone everywhere. It is not that. Half the world goes to bed hungry every night. This is not a promise that God is going to meet all the time every need of every human life. He will not, and permits the world to express its own innate tendencies, hungers and desires.

This is a promise in exact accord with our Lord Jesus’ own words in the Sermon on the Mount. Remember what he said: Give and it will be given to you. This is a promise for givers. You give, and God will give back to you. Of course it’s understood that we have all received freely from him first, and out of that sense of having received from him, let us give. The Lord says, Give and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Experiencing God after Failure

Read: John 21:15-19

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

There’s Peter, around the campfire with his cohorts with freshly caught and cooked fish in their bellies. But for Peter, the weight of failure is sitting heavy too. Jesus called him “the rock,” but could anyone be more unsteady than he had proved to be?

Three times Peter denied Jesus. Three times, Jesus made sure of Peter’s love. But perhaps Jesus was not, primarily, looking back at Peter’s failure. Jesus, who knows the end to all our stories, could have been looking forward, not backward.

Peter, who was quick to love with word, needed enough grounding to also love with actions and in truth. And the only foundation, the only sure and steady foundation to sustain a life of ministry, like Peter’s, was the love of God.

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Presidential Prayer Team; H.L.M.- Godly Centerpiece

The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was a man whose deeply held religious faith brought him peace. In 1998, after Scalia attended the funeral of Justice Lewis Powell at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church in Virginia, he wrote a letter to Dr. James Goodloe, who conducted the service.

God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors.

Genesis 45:7

“I have attended so many funerals of prominent people that I consider myself a connoisseur of the genre,” said Scalia. “When the deceased and his family are nonbelievers, of course, there is not much to be said except praise for the departed who is no more. But even in Christian services conducted for deceased Christians, I am surprised at how often eulogy is the centerpiece of the service, rather than (as it was in your church) the resurrection of Christ and the eternal life which follows from that.”

Just as Joseph from today’s verse was a leader used by God to impact a nation, there are men in women in the halls of government today who love the Lord. Pray for more leaders who keep Him as the centerpiece of their lives. Ask God to enable them to uphold biblical principles and to take opportunities to publicly honor Him.

Recommended Reading: Genesis 45:4-15

Greg Laurie – The Strength to Go On

For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. —Hebrews 11:32–34

Have you ever had a lapse of faith? I have. I don’t mean that I have ever doubted my salvation or doubted the Bible. But there are situations I have gone through that caused me to wonder how I would get through them.

One of those times was when the Lord called our son Christopher to heaven. I know he is in heaven. I know that I will see him in heaven one day. But then there is day-to-day living. Sometimes I think, He is gone, and I will never see him again. When this happens, I will preach the gospel to myself. (I need to hear the gospel as well as preach it.) Sometimes I will preach to myself when I’m in my car. I’ll say, “Greg Laurie, you listen to me. Jesus Christ died on the cross, and He rose again from the dead. He said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.’ You will see your son again.” I will say that to myself. I believe it. My hope is in the Word of God and in the Lord who will sustain me. And I hope that your hope is in Him too.

We all will have lapses of faith. And when that happens, I would encourage you to believe your beliefs and doubt your doubts. Believe what you believe because it is true.

We should not put our hope in people. We should not put our hope in things. We need to put our hope in God. That is what the Bible teaches. Psalm 42:11 says, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God!” This will give us the strength to go on in life.

Kids 4 Truth International – God’s Love Is His Choice

“The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers….” (Deuteronomy 7:7-8a)

Question: Why does God love us?

Answer: Because He loves us.

Does that sound like the correct answer to the question? Do you think your teacher would count that answer right if you wrote it on a test? The truth is, that is the right answer to the question, according to Deuteronomy 7. God told His special people, the nation of Israel, that He loved them simply because He had chosen to love them.

God has also chosen to love us, even if we are not Jews. John 3:16 tells us that God loved the world–everyone. Romans 5:8, which was written both to Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews), says that God displayed His love for us while we were still sinners. How did God display His love? He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die in our place.

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The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Losing God

Today’s Scripture: Deuteronomy 28:19

“Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.”

What are the effects of the curse? According to George Smeaton, the worst effect “is the loss of God, or the absence and complete withdrawal of God from a human soul.” I’m sure many people think they would be happy to lose him. But remember that as Jesus hung on the cross bearing the curse in our place, he cried in anguish, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).

In Deuteronomy 28, Moses listed God’s promised blessings for Israel’s obedience of God’s law (verses 1-14) and his curses for disobedience (verses 15-68). The threatened curses were horrible beyond anything imaginable. For example, it includes a siege so severe that women would be driven to cannibalize their own children.

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The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Making Life Decisions

Today’s Scripture: 1 Chronicles 17-21

“But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” – Matthew 19:30

For several years, I was involved in a ministry with cadets at the United States Air Force Academy. Just before graduation, the cadets who were headed for pilot training filled out a “dream sheet” of where they would like to be assigned. Many guys chose a location because of climate and the facilities.

We had three Christian guys involved in our Navigator ministry who requested Del Rio, Texas. A lot of their classmates thought they were crazy. Del Rio was a small town on the Mexican border. It wasn’t close to any major cities, and the climate was mostly hot. These three guys had prayed about it and thought Del Rio would be a good place to minister. We called them the Del Rio trio, and they went there with a heart to witness to their classmates and have an impact for Christ.

Continue reading The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Making Life Decisions

BreakPoint –  Georgia’s Governor Deal Caves to Big Businesses: What We Must Learn about Religious Freedom

I remember when I first heard Chuck Colson, on a BreakPoint commentary years ago, make a distinction between religious liberty and freedom of worship. “Freedom of worship,” a phrase being used more and more Chuck warned, is the freedom to believe what you want in the privacy of your own mind, and maybe inside the doors of your house of worship. But what the founders had in mind was much more robust—the freedom to carry our deeply held beliefs into the public square and allow them to shape our lives.

As I admitted to him later, I thought Chuck was making much ado about nothing with that distinction. But as we’ve clearly seen in how the government has argued for the HHS Mandate and the way the courts have ruled against wedding-related business owners, Chuck was absolutely right.

This week’s incident, however, threatens even that neutered, watered-down version of freedom of worship.

As we talked about yesterday on BreakPoint, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal vetoed HB757, saying the bill “doesn’t reflect the character of our state or the character of our people.” Deal, despite his insistence otherwise, was the latest governor to cave to the well-orchestrated pressure from the NFL, Disney, Salesforce, and the LGBT lobby.

Continue reading BreakPoint –  Georgia’s Governor Deal Caves to Big Businesses: What We Must Learn about Religious Freedom

Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – JESUS, THE FINAL WORD

Read Luke 24

In his book Lament for a Son, Christian philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff has explored the grief of losing his adult son in a mountain-climbing accident. “It’s the neverness that’s so painful,” Wolsterstoff says. “All the rest of our lives we must live without him. . . . A month, a year, five years—with that I could live. But not this forever.”

Death is not what God intended for His creation, and the Bible describes death as humanity’s great enemy. If we have suffered the grief of losing someone we have loved, we know the searing pain, suffering, and tragedy of death. Thankfully, we also know the good news of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, which reverses the curse of death. The day will come when we will not seek for the living among the dead. The dead will be raised to life, and Jesus’ resurrection is proof that our hope for death’s defeat is certain (see 1 Corinthians 15).

Luke closes his Gospel by returning to some themes we have seen since the beginning of his account. The angels were present to announce the good news of Jesus’ birth to Mary and to the shepherds, and they are now posted as sentries at the empty tomb. The disciples throughout Luke’s Gospel have been slow to grasp the understanding of Jesus’ identity, and they continue in their obtuseness even after His resurrection. It would take multiple eyewitness testimonies and finally a shared meal to begin believing that the apparition before them was not a ghost but the resurrected Jesus (vv. 36–43).

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The Food and Drug Administration has made it easier for women to use a medication that causes abortion. Mifeprex, formerly known as RU-486, induces miscarriage. The FDA’s ruling lowers the dosage and thus the cost of the medicine, reduces medical supervision, and increases the number of days a woman can use the drug to ten weeks after beginning her last menstrual cycle.

This decision is expected to expand the use of this abortion-causing drug. How should pro-life supporters respond?

One: Understand the scope of the issue.

The number of abortions in America since Roe v. Wade is one-and-a-half times the total population of Canada. I know doctors who have been asked to abort a fetus because it is the wrong gender. Through fetal genetic testing, parents will soon be able to learn more than ever before about the baby’s medical conditions and aptitudes, causing abortion rates to escalate even further.

Two: Work to protect life legally.

Continue reading Denison Forum – FDA MAKES MEDICAL ABORTION EASIER

Charles Stanley – Intimacy With Our Heavenly Father

John 1:12-13

From the very beginning, God intended to have an intimate, loving relationship with His children. What evidence do we have that this is His desire?

His Son. One reason that Jesus Christ came to earth is for us to know and relate to God the Father. The Bible tells us that Jesus is His exact representation; His words and works were the same as God’s (John 5:19; John 12:50). Therefore, when we look at the Son, we are seeing the character of our heavenly Father.

Invitation. Through the Scriptures, God invites us to join His family. He took care of all the arrangements; the only thing we have to do is say yes (John 3:16).

Adoption. The closest tie we can have with one another is family. At salvation, we are adopted into the Lord’s family. This relationship with our heavenly Father lasts for an eternity and provides us with support, encouragement, and love.

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