Charles Stanley – A Person God Can Use

Acts 2:14-36

When Jesus called him to a life of discipleship and service, Peter left his fishing career to become a leader in the church at Jerusalem. We can learn much from both the high and low points of his transformation.

Peter publicly acknowledged that Jesus Christ was the Messiah. When the Lord asked the disciples who they believed He was, Peter spoke up and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16). He boldly confessed his faith in front of the other disciples and didn’t hold back for fear of their opinion. In a similar way, the basis for our identity—in public as well as in private—ought to be that we are followers of Christ. Our words and actions should proclaim to those around us that we belong to Him.

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Our Daily Bread — Leaning into the Light

Read: 1 Peter 2:4-10

Bible in a Year: Numbers 23-25; Mark 7:14-37

[He] called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. —1 Peter 2:9

One day I received a bouquet of pink tulips. Their heads bobbed on thick stems as I settled them into a vase, which I placed at the center of our kitchen table. The next day, I noticed that the flowers were facing a different direction. The blossoms that once faced upward were now leaning to the side, opening and reaching toward sunlight that streamed in through a nearby window.

In one sense, we all were made to be like those flowers. God has called us to turn to the light of His love. Peter writes of the wonder of being called “out of darkness into [God’s] wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). Before we come to know God, we live in the shadows of sin and death, which keep us separated from Him (Eph. 2:1-7). However, because of God’s mercy and love, He made a way for us to escape spiritual darkness through the death and resurrection of His Son (Col. 1:13-14).

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Day Four

It was a day without hope: March 11, 2011. The 8.9 magnitude earthquake set off a devastating tsunami that washed away coastal cities in Northeastern Japan. Thousands of homes were destroyed. Roads were impassable, transportation destroyed or shut down, and power remained down for weeks in the cold temperatures of early spring. All around were scenes of desperation, as stranded survivors cried for help, buried alive under the rubble of what remained of their cities, communities, and homes. Things couldn’t get much worse when the damage to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor was discovered, making it impossible to return home. Over three hundred thousand were left homeless and over eighteen thousand people died.

March 11, 2011 was a day without hope for me, as well. Like many around the world, I couldn’t believe that yet another massive earthquake and tsunami of such magnitude—like the Southeast Asian tsunami of 2004—had wrought so much destruction and devastation. Yet on this same day, I attended the funeral for my husband who had died suddenly on March 2, 2011. I felt as if I was buried by the rubble of grief over his lost life and the life we shared together for nearly twenty years.

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John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Grace to the Humble

“He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” (James 4:6).

A person cannot be saved unless he comes to God with a humble attitude.

Today’s verse is a challenge and a promise to anyone who is not sure about his salvation, or who thinks he is saved but does not measure up to the tests of faith in James’s letter. Even the worst sinful character traits—relying on worldly wisdom, having enmity against God, lusting after fleshly and selfish desires—are no match for God’s abundant grace.

The kind of grace James is referring to here is simply God’s saving grace—His undeserved favor of forgiveness and love bestowed on all sorts of sinners. Included within that favor is the Lord’s promise of the Holy Spirit, an understanding of God’s Word, Heaven, and all spiritual blessings. Such grace is available to all who will come in faith to Christ. Nothing in this universe can prevent the truly humble and repentant person from receiving grace—not the strength of sin and depravity, not the might of Satan, not the pull of the flesh, not even the power of death.

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Wisdom Hunters – Why Desperation is a Good Thing

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. . .  Romans 3:23-24

There are times in most of our lives when we don’t want to go backward. We don’t want to move back to the city where we used to live because it will make us feel as if we haven’t made progress. We don’t want to go back to our old job because it will make us feel as if all of the skills we learned since then were a waste. We don’t want to go back to doing what we used to do, because going backward makes us feel as if we haven’t gone forward. Going backward feels like failure.

There are times, however, we may need to go back to the beginning of our relationship with Jesus. We need to go back to the place where we first started with Him, which for most of us was the place of desperation. We were desperate because we knew we couldn’t save ourselves. We were desperate because we knew we couldn’t change our hurts, hang ups, and addictions on our own. We were desperate because we knew our old ways of trying to earn God’s favor weren’t working. We knew we needed His deliverance. But then as the Lord liberated and healed us, we exchanged desperation for being self-sufficient, so we tried to earn favor with God through being good enough. We tried to do the Christian life on our own without empowerment from the Holy Spirit. This is why we sometimes need to go back to the beginning to the place of desperation where we first started with the Lord.

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Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – Inseparable

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9

Recommended Reading

Psalm 63

As Adam and Eve looked back on the Garden of Eden, their physical removal from the Garden was a visual reminder of their break in their relationship with God. Despite their dismal circumstances, God had a different ending in mind. He did not forsake His creation.

God’s affection for us is revealed through His presence. He heard Jonah’s prayer from the belly of the fish. He sustained David as he waited to become king while being ruthlessly pursued by King Saul. God positioned Queen Esther to save His people from annihilation.

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Joyce Meyer – God Speaks a Fresh Word

Seek, inquire of and for the Lord, and crave Him and His strength.…—Psalm 105:4

When King Jehoshaphat heard that a huge army was amassing to attack Judah, he knew what to do. He needed to set himself to seek not the advice of the people, but to seek God and hear directly from Him.

No doubt, Jehoshaphat had been involved in other battles before this one, so why couldn’t he use the same methods he had employed in previous situations? No matter how many times something has worked in the past, it may not work to solve a current crisis unless God anoints it afresh. He may anoint an old method and choose to work through it, but He may also give us brand-new direction, instructions we have never heard before. We must always look to God, not to methods, formulas, or ways that have worked in the past. Our focus, our source of strength and supply, must be God and God alone.

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Girlfriends in God – Stop Doubting Your Value, Part Two

Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Luke 12:7

Friend to Friend

In part one of this devotion, we looked at the doubts and insecurities that cause us to question our significance and value. We also examined the Biblical truth that validates both. {Click here to read Part One.}

Today we’ll look to see what Jesus had to say about this topic and reflect on why this matters in the grand scheme of God’s purpose for your life.

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – We Hear His Voice

“My sheep recognize My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish. No one shall snatch them away from Me, for My Father has given them to Me, and He is more powerful than anyone else, so no one can kidnap them from Me. I and the Father are one” (John 10:27-30).

Are you one of God’s “sheep”? Do you know for sure that you are a child of God? Do you have any question about your salvation? How do you know that Christ is in your life and that you have eternal life and that no one can take you away from our Lord? What is the basis of your assurance?

Frequently, one hears a Christian share the dramatic testimony of how Christ changed his life from years of drug addiction, gross immorality or some other distressing problem. On the other hand, there are many, like myself, who have knelt quietly in the privacy of the home, at a mountain retreat, or in a church sanctuary, and there received Christ into their lives with no dramatic emotional experience at that time of decision. Both are valid, authentic ways to come to Christ.

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Ray Stedman – In Christ

Read: Philippians 1:1-2

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi… Phil 1:1a

The ancient practice of correspondence had one very distinct advantage over our modern method. They signed their name at the beginning of the letter. Have you ever received a letter, perhaps two or three pages long, and had to flip through the pages to see the name at the end before you knew who the letter was from? The ancients were much more efficient, putting their name at the beginning.

The address of the letter is very distinctive: to the saints in Christ at Philippi. In Christ was the source of their lives. In Philippi was the sphere in which they lived it. Both are very important in this letter. For what these people would be as citizens in Philippi would be determined by who they were as Christians — in Christ.

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – The Best Is Yet to Be

Read: John 2:1-11

This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. (v. 11)

What is a miracle? The Greek word for miracle is semaios, which means sign. Like all signs, miracles point to something beyond themselves. They point to God. A miracle is not a magic trick; it is a sign that God is at work in human affairs.

The Lord’s first sign took place at a wedding, when the mother of Jesus—John never calls her Mary—informs her son that, “They have no wine.” Initially, Jesus refuses to get involved. But what son can hold out for long against his mother’s wishes? The six stone jars are filled to the brim with water, and the water becomes wine. And not the cheap, inferior wine that was usually served later on. No, this was the good stuff.

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Presidential Prayer Team; H.L.M – Great To Be Alive!

Vonette Zachary grew up thinking she was a Christian. She maintained high moral standards in college and attended church. She wanted to pursue a graduate degree and a teaching career. But when Vonette became engaged to Bill Bright, she realized she did not share his passionate faith in Jesus. Then Bill arranged for Vonette to meet with Dr. Henrietta Mears, the leader of the 6,000-member Sunday school at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood.

If God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today…how much more will he clothe you.

Luke 12:28

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Greg Laurie – People Reaching People

“So faith comes from hearing that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.”—Romans 10:17

It is worth noting that no person in the New Testament came to faith apart from the agency of a human being. Have you ever stopped and thought about that? We can find example after example.

There was the Ethiopian (see Acts 8:26-39). There are many ways that God could have reached this man from a distant country. He could have sent an angel to meet him. Instead, the Lord sent an angel to Philip and told him to go. So Philip went and proclaimed the gospel to that man, and he believed.

Then there was the Philippian jailer (see Acts 16:27–34). God could have reached him in many ways. Instead, He allowed Paul and Silas to be incarcerated and to ultimately proclaim the gospel, bringing that man and his family to faith.

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Kids 4 Truth International – God Is Always With Us

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)

Have you ever been lost? Isn’t it a scary feeling?

When Philip was five, he lived on a ranch in California. Philip loved riding around the ranch with his dad, who oversaw the care of the cattle and sheep. He almost always had another companion with him–his dog, Rusty. Rusty was a German shepherd and a “working dog” on the ranch. Philip’s dad would give Rusty specific commands, and Rusty would help him herd the cattle and sheep. But whenever Rusty wasn’t needed on the ranch, he could always be found at Philip’s side. Rusty was very protective of the boy. If Rusty ever sensed that something was threatening Philip, he would get in front of him and not move until everything was ok.

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The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – The Peril of Comparing

Today’s Scripture: 2 Corinthians 10:12

“When they . . . compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.”

We constantly see believers around us who seem more blessed by God than we are. Some are more gifted in spiritual abilities; others always succeed with little effort; others seem to have few problems or concerns. Probably none of us is exempt from the temptation to envy someone else’s blessings and secretly grumble at God, or even charge him with rank injustice, for giving another person more in some way than he has given us.

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The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – A Heart to Know God

Today’s Scripture: 2 Chronicles 13-16

Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. – Psalm 119:35

King Asa was a man whose primary aim in life was to please God and do the things of which the Lord approved. In 2 Chronicles 15:1, the prophet Azariah told Asa, “The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.”

Asa set His heart to know God and His ways. He spent the first years of his reign purifying the worship of God throughout the land. When he was attacked by a neighboring king with a vast army, Asa turned to God in prayer. And the Lord delivered him. Now, is it possible for you and me to have that kind of relationship with God and that kind of guidance from Him? Of course it is.

Continue reading The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – A Heart to Know God

BreakPoint –  Oscars 2016: What Do Movies Tell Us about Our Culture?

There are few movies as beloved as Gene Kelly’s classic musical, “Singing in the Rain.” It’s a story about Hollywood’s awkward transition from silent pictures to—as they called them in the 1920s—“Talkies.” During one scene in which the characters watch their first “talkie,” a mogul of the old-school silent film industry scoffs, “It’ll never catch on.”

Well, it’s clear that film as we know it has not only “caught on,” but as Sunday’s Academy Awards remind us, it’s become probably the most visible expression of culture. But the Oscars reveal another transition taking place in Hollywood.

At first glance, this year’s nominees look like very different movies. One takes place on Mars, another in the American wilderness, and another in a nightmarish, dystopian future. But on closer inspection, writer and producer Bryan Coley says the nominees all have one thing in common: They’re about survival.

Bryan, who’s the Founder and Chief Creative Director of “Art Within,” calls movies the “cultural texts” of our time. John Stonestreet spoke with him on our latest episode of “BreakPoint This Week,” and got his take on this year’s Oscar nominees.

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – JESUS, SON OF DAVID

Read Luke 1:1-45

Biographers often approach their subject from a particular angle. For instance, the Scottish Enlightenment philosopher David Hume has been the subject of several recent biographies: one focused on his intellectual history, another focused on his work as a historian, and a third devoted more attention to his childhood and early life.

Historians and biographers try to be objective in their presentation of the material, even when they have chosen a particular focus. This is no less true in the four biographical accounts of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus. But like other biographers, the Gospel writers do arrange their material in a purposeful way, each striving to emphasize certain elements in the story of Jesus. Luke, writing to Theophilus, determined that he would write an “orderly account” to encourage faith in the truth about Jesus (vv. 3–4). Luke would bring his own (Gentile) perspective and research to bear on the history of Jesus’ life.

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The 88th Academy Awards are still making news today. Two themes resonated last Sunday night that mirror the moral and spiritual condition of our culture today.

One: Whatever hurts others is wrong for us.

Spotlight won for Best Picture. The movie focuses on the Catholic church’s clergy abuse scandal. Leonardo DiCaprio won for Best Actor and used his speech to warn against the dangers of climate change. (For more, see Nick Pitts’s Leo Wins Oscar: Is Climate Change the Most Urgent Threat?) Lady Gaga delivered the most-discussed musical element of the night, focusing on the horror of sexual abuse. And host Chris Rock commented all night long about the lack of diversity among the nominees.

Two: Whatever you do personally is right for you.

Alicia Vikander won Best Supporting Actress for The Danish Girl, portraying the wife of a man who undergoes surgery to become a woman. Eddie Redmayne was nominated for Best Actor in the same film. Cate Blanchett was nominated for Best Actress, portraying a housewife who is threatened with losing custody of her daughter because she has a sexual relationship with another woman.

Continue reading Denison Forum – THE ACADEMY AWARDS: 2 THEMES AND 2 RESPONSES