Charles Stanley – Building a Life Message

Read | Matthew 5:13-16

What statement is your life making? Every person testifies to personal beliefs and priorities by the way he or she lives. Jesus said that to the watching world, believers should be like salt and light, which simply cannot be ignored. If we add salt to soup, the improved taste is obvious, and when we bring light into a room, darkness flees. Our character, conduct, and conversation should make a loud and clear statement about the importance of God, the necessity of Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

To live a life of significance that brings glory to the Lord, believers must begin by reading and studying the Scriptures. As we meditate on His Word, God reveals Himself, and we gradually absorb His principles into our daily living. This enables us to make a greater impact on the world.

One good way to learn Scripture’s lessons is by researching the lives of great saints like Abraham, Moses, Daniel, David, Esther, Mary, and Paul. A person could spend many weeks studying each one’s life message, as revealed in the Bible. Their stories have much to teach us about the way they coped, what they discovered from mistakes, and how they interacted with God.

From these biblical accounts as well as other passages, we learn that our heavenly Father has a goal for our lives. He desires to conform us to the image of His Son Jesus Christ. Recognizing this, we can set an example of successful godly living for others to follow: “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).

Bible in a Year: Joshua 7-9

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — With Respect

Read: Ezra 5:6-17

Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 3-4; Mark 10:32-52

If it pleases the king, let a search be made in the royal archives of Babylon to see if King Cyrus . . . issue[d] a decree. —Ezra 5:17

The citizens of Israel were having some trouble with the government. It was the late 500s bc, and the Jewish people were eager to complete their temple that had been destroyed in 586 bc by Babylon. However, the governor of their region was not sure they should be doing that, so he sent a note to King Darius (Ezra 5:6-17).

In the letter, the governor says he found the Jews working on the temple and asks the king if they had permission to do so. The letter also records the Jews’ respectful response that they had indeed been given permission by an earlier king (Cyrus) to rebuild. When the king checked out their story, he found it to be true: King Cyrus had said they could build the temple. So Darius not only gave them permission to rebuild, but he also paid for it! (see 6:1-12). After the Jews finished building the temple, they “celebrated with joy” because they knew God had “[changed] the attitude of the king” (6:22).

Continue reading Our Daily Bread — With Respect

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Trouble With the Present

Despite our coping mechanisms of choice, fear and weariness are often common sentiments across much of the globe, laden with a sense of uncertainty. People deal en mass with losses of all kinds and the turbulent emotions that come with losing ground. For many in the affluent West who have lived with mindsets of comfort and feasts of resources, economic downturn is a sudden and disorienting shift. For others, hard times simply get much harder.

Writing in a century with its own fears and famines, Blaise Pascal took note of the human capacity for a dangerous kind of escapism when fears loom large and hope remains distant. He saw a general disassociation with the present, a perpetual anticipation of the future or recollection of the past, which kept life itself at bay. “So imprudent are we that we wander in the times which are not ours and do not think of the only one which belongs to us,” he wrote. “And so idle are we that we dream of those times which are no more and thoughtlessly overlook that which alone exists. For the present is generally painful to us. We conceal it from our sight, because it troubles us… So we never live, but we hope to live.”(1)

Of course, whether in times of scarcity or in times of plenty, the temptation to mentally dismiss ourselves from the present moment is quite real. It is always possible to live with eyes intent on something better in the future or with a nostalgic gaze on the past and all that once was. But in times of discomfort, crisis, or shortage, the choice to wander in times other than the present strikes us more as self-preservation or necessity than temptation, an essential coping mechanism in the midst of pain—and so we dismiss ourselves from the present all the more freely. Whether to daydream of better times or to look fearfully into the future, we leave the harrowing realities of the present to hope for something more, to escape from the weariness of now, to remember something better. But no matter our reason, when the future alone is our end and life is preoccupied with what once was or what might be, it is something less than living.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Trouble With the Present

John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Having True Sorrow for Sin

“Be miserable and mourn and weep” (James 4:9a).

Spiritual humility will be marked by a true sorrow over sin.

Modern culture does everything possible to avoid pain, to put off thinking about unpleasant subjects, to maximize comfort, and to feel good about circumstances.

That philosophy is the reflection of a proud and self-centered attitude, not the humble and God-centered attitude we have been examining during the past week. Today we continue our look at humility in the Epistle of James. The apostle urges people to “be miserable” concerning their sin. The demands of the gospel begin at this point. James is not denying the joy that will come when the gospel is sincerely received. He is simply saying that sinners have to feel bad before they can feel good. The word misery in this sense refers to the inner feelings of shame over sin, the deep sorrow it causes, and the spirit of penitence the humbled sinner will have as a result.

Continue reading John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Having True Sorrow for Sin

Wisdom Hunters – Hot Hearted for God

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!…Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Revelation 3:15, 19

As a young dad, I couldn’t wait to bring my wife and our first newborn home from the hospital. Damp, dreary and chilly outside, I built a roaring fire in our new Ashley wood burning stove to assure our 1,200 sq. ft. ranch home was warm and toasty. Our precious baby girl’s little pink fingers and toes never felt a tinge of coolness, because I kept feeding the fire with dried logs from a cord of wood just outside the back door. In preparation for the dark, cold night I filled the furnace and barely opened the flue. Like a hot fire, a hot heart for God needs its faith fueled.

The Lord looks displeasingly on a lukewarm life or on the institutional church that has lost its fiery faith for Christ. A mediocre church or Christian who coasts through life are unacceptable to God. In Revelation Jesus calls out the church for blending in with the world. He would rather the church be totally dead and cold than a spiritual zombie, acting as if it were alive. Death knows it is dead, but being alive and going through the motions is deadly. But God’s great desire is for His bride the church and each disciple to burn brightly for the faith.

“You are the light of [Christ to] the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house” (Matthew 5:14-15, AMP).

Continue reading Wisdom Hunters – Hot Hearted for God

Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – Pilgrim’s Progress

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

Hebrews 11:13

Recommended Reading

1 Peter 2:11-12

What’s your favorite road trip? The Pacific Coast Highway is one of America’s best drives. Ditto the Blue Ridge Parkway. Even old Route 66 has its charms. In Germany, try Route 500 through the Black Forest. Travelers in England enjoy trekking through the Cotswolds. There’s a carefree feeling to spending a day on the road, finding overnight accommodations, and continuing the excursion the next day.

Continue reading Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – Pilgrim’s Progress

Joyce Meyer – Worship with Your Whole Hear

I will cry to God Most High, Who performs on my behalf and rewards me [Who brings to pass His purposes for me and surely completes them]! —Psalm 57:2

Great worship leaders know to come into the presence of God with their entire being, prepared to give thanks and praise (see Deuteronomy 10:12). They don’t just roll out of bed, throw water on their face, and run a comb through their hair before church. They know that the anointing comes from a sincere pursuit of loving God with their whole heart.

Likewise, as you approach God in the morning, come to Him with a heart full of worship, expressing your awe of Him for His faithfulness toward you. He promises that He will never forsake you, but will be with you all day long (see Joshua 1:5).

From the book Starting Your Day Right by Joyce Meyer.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Share His Treasures

“For His Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts, and tells us that we really are God’s children. And since we are His children, we will share His treasures – for all God gives to His Son Jesus is now ours too. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering” (Romans 8:16,17).

You may cringe, as I do, at the thought of suffering for Jesus. As He reminds us in Mark 10, anything we ever give up for Him will be given to us a hundred times over, with persecution. Quite frankly, I have never relished the thought of being persecuted. Yet, again and again, in my own experience I have known the reality of that supernatural presence of God, that peace that passes all understanding, during times of suffering and persecution.

Our Lord Himself, knowing that He was on His way to the cross, spoke of peace, love and joy more than at any other time in His ministry. The apostle Paul knew all kinds of suffering. He was in prison frequently; he was beaten, and he finally died as a martyr for his faith. Yet, even while in prison, he wrote of joy and peace – “Count it all joy,” he said. “Rejoice ever more.”

Continue reading Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Share His Treasures

Ray Stedman – Citizens of Heaven

Read: Philippians 1:27

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Phil 1:27a

Paul uses an interesting word here, translated conduct in the NIV. It is a word from which we get our English word politics, or politician. The Greek word is politeuma, a word that means your conduct as a citizen or a colony. This is the first indication in this letter of a unique condition in the city of Philippi. Everyone in that city was aware that its citizens were citizens of Rome even though they were a thousand miles away. This was because of the great battle that had been won by the Roman Emperor, and in gratitude to the residents they were made citizens of Rome.

Paul builds on this idea and says to them, in effect, you Christians in Philippi are members of another government. You cannot have the same attitude to the rest of the citizens of Philippi. You belong to a colony of heaven; therefore you must behave like citizens of heaven. You must let your manner of conduct be worthy of the government to which you belong, the kingdom of God and the gospel of Christ.

Continue reading Ray Stedman – Citizens of Heaven

Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Who Is to Blame?

Read: Mark 5:1-20

. . . there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. (v. 2)

Who is to blame for this poor man’s problems? When you are possessed, and you keep hurting yourself and hurting others, whose fault is that? Is the Gerasene demoniac himself to blame, or is he at the mercy of external forces that make him do hurtful things that he doesn’t want to do?

A young boy watches, daily, as his mother is abused by his drunken father. The boy grows up, becomes a man, begins to drink, and now he abuses his wife. Whose fault is that? Whose sin is to blame?

Continue reading Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Who Is to Blame?

Presidential Prayer Team; A.W- The Elected

The 2016 presidential election campaign season is in full swing, and already many hopefuls have been left wanting. The Democratic Party began with six potential candidates; the Republican Party with 17, the largest presidential field in American history. Now, fewer remain and the attrition will continue until only one from each party are left alive in the race for the White House.

In the whole land…two thirds shall be cut off and perish, and one third shall be left alive.

Zechariah 13:8

In the verses preceding today’s scripture, the Lord promised to eradicate idolatry and those who honored them, leading to most of the people perishing. Those remaining would be tested and refined. Many believe these verses reference the Jewish nation during the Roman wars, or the yet-to-be-fulfilled prophecy of Christ’s return when only an elected, faithful few will remain.

Only two presidential candidates will make it through the campaign process. Those remaining will undergo testing, perhaps proving their worthiness for future political races. As you pray today, ask God to intervene by refining the candidates. Pray that the next president will be one who honors Jesus, and that the Lord will aid you by guiding your vote.

Recommended Reading: I Timothy 2:1-8

http://www.presidentialprayerteam.com/index.php

Kids 4 Truth International – God Created Languages

Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.” ( Genesis 11:9)

Wouldn’t it be easier if everyone spoke the same language? Then we could all understand one another! Missionaries wouldn’t have to learn a foreign language when they left for the mission field, businessmen wouldn’t have to use interpreters when they had a business meeting overseas, and we could travel the world and be able to talk to anyone we wanted!

That may sound like a great plan to us, but God had even better plans. It was God Who created languages, and He did it for a purpose. For hundreds of years after God first created the world, everyone spoke the same language, and everyone could understand everyone else. The people became very wicked, though, and did what was right in their own eyes instead of loving and obeying God. To judge them, God sent a great flood to destroy the whole world. After God rescued Noah and his family from the flood, God gave them a command. They were supposed to multiply (grow the family) and spread out all over the world. In other words, they were supposed to scatter around and fill up the world with their children and grandchildren. Earth would be filled again with people who would know and worship the one true God.

Continue reading Kids 4 Truth International – God Created Languages

The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – The Discipline of Prayer

Today’s Scripture: Psalm 119:25

“Give me life according to your word!”

How can we grow in a conscious sense of dependence on Christ? Through the discipline of prayer. Prayer is the tangible expression of our dependence. We may think we’re dependent on Christ, but if our prayer life is meager or perfunctory, we thereby deny it. We’re in effect saying we can handle our spiritual life through self-discipline and our innate goodness. Or perhaps we’re not even committed to the pursuit of holiness.

The writer of Psalm 119 teaches us about the discipline of prayer in pursuing holiness. We usually think of it as the Psalm about the Word of God, but more accurately it’s an expression of the psalmist’s ardent desire and commitment in pursuing holiness. Twenty-two times the psalmist pleaded for God’s help in obeying his law, as in these words of prayer: “Teach me, o Lord, the way of your statutes. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. Lead me in the path of your commandments. Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!” (Psalm 119:33-36).

Continue reading The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – The Discipline of Prayer

The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – A Picture of Faith

Today’s Scripture: Numbers 34-36

“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” – Matthew 21:22

If you were the commander of an army on the brink of war, wouldn’t you appoint some commanders and generals and get organized for the fight? That’s what’s happening in Numbers 34-36, but instead of organizing for war, Moses takes the list of names the Lord gives him and appoints those who will be involved in dividing the land that is still in the hands and under the control of the Canaanites.

This whole scene is a picture of faith. The Israelites knew they were going to possess the land–not by the skill of sword and bow, but by the power and favor of God. Their faith was not arrogance or presumption. This business of possessing the Promised Land was not their idea, but God’s. They were acting on God’s orders to accomplish His mission in the world.

That’s exactly the way we should respond to God’s commands in the Bible. God commands us to share the good news about Christ with other people; to be kind and compassionate to one another; to forgive each other; to live godly lives in a dark world. We have been called into a spiritual warfare whose battlefields are the ordinary, nitty-gritty situations of everyday life. If we wait until we think we’re well trained or skilled enough to accomplish all that, we’ll never do anything.

Continue reading The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – A Picture of Faith

Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – JESUS,THE HEALER

Read Luke 4:31-44

In her mid-thirties, author Theresa Brown left her career as a writing professor at Tufts University and became a trained nurse, first in oncology then in palliative care. She has written several books describing the difficult—though at times, blessed—task of preparing patients (and patients’ families) for death.

The good news of God’s kingdom is a proclamation of healing and deliverance from death—both physical and spiritual. Today’s reading marks the end of Luke’s long introduction to Jesus’ ministry: the angelic visits, birth narratives, ministry

of John the Baptist, and wilderness temptation. Now we begin to study Jesus’ life of ministry, and we see Jesus traveling throughout Galilee with crowds flocking to the Miracle Worker. The news was spreading quickly that Jesus of Nazareth was doing extraordinary things.

Continue reading Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – JESUS,THE HEALER

Denison Forum – FREE CHICK-FIL-A? SAVING MONEY AND FAMILIES

I am traveling this week, and grateful to Nick Pitts for writing the Cultural Commentary in my absence. Nick is Director of Cultural Engagement for the Denison Forum. He has been writing daily for our website across the last year, and is the author of The Daily Briefing, a survey of each day’s news in biblical perspective. Nick is a Ph.D. candidate at Dallas Baptist University, finishing his dissertation. I encourage you to subscribe to the Daily Briefing, and know you will profit from his wisdom and insight in the Cultural Commentary this week.

________________________________________

Over 350 Chick-fil-A restaurants are now offering a “family challenge”: If you’ll lock your phone up in a “Cell Phone Coop” for the entire meal, you win a free ice cream cone. This coop, a cardboard box at the center of your table, holds your phone while your family keeps your attention. The average American spends four hours a day on the phone. But Chick-fil-A is hoping to entice their customers to reduce that time and increase their calorie count.

Research shows that dinnertime conversation boosts the vocabulary of young children more than being read aloud to does. Regular family meals have been shown to lower the risk of teenage smoking, binge drinking, marijuana use, eating disorders, and sexual activity. However, it does increase their chances of attaining a higher grade point average and better self-esteem.

Continue reading Denison Forum – FREE CHICK-FIL-A? SAVING MONEY AND FAMILIES