Charles Stanley – Knowing God Through Jesus

Micah 6:6-8

There’s a simple message from God that is repeated over and over throughout Scripture—He delights far more in our efforts to know Him than in any gift we might offer Him. God created us with a deep desire to be known, so it shouldn’t be difficult for us to understand that seeking Him expresses our love better than words ever could.

We begin to take advantage of our great privilege to personally know God when we receive His free gift of new life through Jesus Christ. From that moment on, we are filled with His Holy Spirit. Jesus, our Mediator, spanned the gap of sin that separated God and man. Through His death on the cross, He made it possible for us, as unrighteous as we were, to become children of the Lord of Hosts, whose holiness overwhelmed Isaiah (Isa. 6:1-7). It is impossible to truly know God apart from knowing Jesus.

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Our Daily Bread — Don’t Walk Away

Read: Jeremiah 1:4-9

Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 1-3; Luke 8:26-56

Before you were born I set you apart. —Jeremiah 1:5

In 1986, John Piper nearly quit as minister of a large church. At that time he admitted in his journal: “I am so discouraged. I am so blank. I feel like there are opponents on every hand.” But Piper didn’t walk away, and God used him to lead a thriving ministry that would eventually reach far beyond his church.

Although success is a word easily misunderstood, we might call John Piper successful. But what if his ministry had never flourished?

God gave the prophet Jeremiah a direct call. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,” God said. “Before you were born I set you apart” (Jer. 1:5). God encouraged him not to fear his enemies, “for I am with you and will rescue you” (v. 8).

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Distracted Reckonings

“Being unable to cure death, wretchedness, and ignorance men have decided, in order to be happy, not to think about such things.”(1)

It is a rare gift, in this age of distractions, to have five minutes to rest and reflect. Recently, I had the opportunity to take an entire afternoon and do nothing. I was in the desert Southwest of the United States surrounded by brown, barren mountains, desert scrub and cacti, and the singing of birds. As I looked out over the contrasting horizon of azure sky and brown earth, I was struck by my own insignificance—something I rarely allow myself to think about as I routinely fill my days with busyness. That topography of sky and soil, bird and flower had been there long before I arrived and would surely remain long after I had departed—both from my visit and upon my departure from this world.

Despite this more sobering thought, the gift of undistracted space nourished me. I could revel in the symphony of songbirds all around me; marvel at the cataclysmic forces of nature that formed the mountains and valleys around me. I could wonder at my place in the vastness of the creation and feel my smallness and my transience. Having this kind of time to sit and to reflect is a rarity, and is just as fleeting as the birds that flew around me.

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John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Supplication Before the Father

“He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt’” (Matthew 26:39).

Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane is a perfect model of perseverance in seeking God’s will.

By humbly and submissively raising the option, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me,” Jesus was not questioning the validity of God’s plan of redemption or the Son’s responsibility in it. The thought of His becoming sin for us was weighing heavier and heavier on Jesus, and He simply wondered aloud to God if there could be a way other than the cross to deliver men from sin. But as always, Jesus made it clear that the deciding factor in what was done would be the Father’s will, not the Son’s.

In contrast, while Jesus was wrestling earnestly in prayer before the Father, Peter, James, and John were oblivious to the struggle because they slept. The need for sleep was natural at such a late hour (after midnight), and their emotions—confused, frustrated, depressed—concerning Jesus’ death may have induced sleep as an escape (Luke 22:45 says they were “sleeping from  sorrow”).

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Wisdom Hunters – Liberating Grace and the Power of “I Can’t”

And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.  John 1:16

Our society is all about “I can.” I can win the race. I can be the best salesperson in my company. I can get a college degree. I can be a good mother. We have been taught that the most important things can be earned if we only believe and try hard enough. Certainly, when God is behind something, all things are possible for him who believes (Mark 9:23). But there is an “I can’t” phrase every believer needs to embrace: I can’t earn God’s love. This phrase is empowering, liberating, and life-giving.

Granted, most believers know they are “saved by grace through faith” (Ephesians 2:8) so they intellectually agree that salvation can’t be earned. So they will also say His favor and love can’t be earned. But there is often a disconnect between what we say we believe and what we truly believe. For example, in his book, Holiness by Grace, Bryan Chapell shares that many people believe that if they have a quiet time, God will love them more. If they are kind to their neighbor, it’s a guarantee of His favor. “However much we may want—or feel the need—to trophy our good works before God in order to merit his acceptance, our accomplishments remain insufficient to obligate him to care for us as members of his family.”

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Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – Airdropped Blessings

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

James 1:17

Recommended Reading

James 1:12-18

One day in 1952, a U.S. Air Force crew south of Guam saw islanders waving to them. The crew gathered items on the plane, packed them up, attached a parachute, and dropped the crate as they circled the island. That was the beginning of the longest sustained humanitarian airdrop in history. It’s been going on now for 64 years. Last Christmas, more than 20,000 people in the remote islands of Micronesia received needed supplies in what is now called Operation Christmas Drop.

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Joyce Meyer – Just Do It!

She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms.—Proverbs 31:17 NKJV

As a Christian, your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and you need to keep it in good condition so God can work through you the way He desires to. Being excessively tired can adversely affect us and our spiritual life. We don’t have the desire or stamina to pray as we normally would. We don’t present the best witness to others. It is even easier to be grouchy and unable to walk in the fruit of the Spirit when we feel tired most of the time.

I encourage you to make room in your life for exercise. In my own life, I am not where I need to be yet but I am making progress. I have finally decided that, to do what I can do is better than doing nothing at all. Find something you can enjoy and still get exercise. Try walking or playing a sport to get the exercise you need. Exercising with other people might work for you.

People who exercise regularly do tend to be more confident. For one thing, they feel better and more energetic, so they accomplish more and enjoy what they do. They usually look better, and that increases confidence. Exercise also relieves tension and stress, which will help anyone’s confidence. Don’t think about exercising anymore—just do it!

Lord, I acknowledge that my body is Your temple, and I want it to rightly reflect You. Help me to discipline myself and give my body the exercise it needs. Amen.

From the book The Confident Woman Devotional: 365 Daily Devotions by Joyce Meyer.

Girlfriends in God – Leaving an Imprint – Part Two

For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

James 2:26

Friend to Friend

In part one of this message we looked at our valuable purpose as image bearers of God to be an imprint of Christ to the world around us. We also examined the Biblical truth that validates this discussion. {Click here to read Part One.}

Today we will consider what is required of us to be an imprint, and we’ll discuss our call to “rep the house” as well by taking action.

What does that mean? Read on.

Ever since our kids were little, Brad and I have taught them that the Lord is the head of our home, and every Smith needs to rep the house well. The rules are simple:

Love God.

Love others.

Use your manners.

Use kind words.

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Fair in Everything

“The Lord is fair in everything He does, and full of kindness. He is close to all who call on Him sincerely” (Psalm 145:17,18).

Are you afraid to trust the Lord? I find that many people who have had unfortunate experiences in their youth with their parents, especially their fathers, have a reluctance to trust God.

In my talks with thousands of students, I have found a number of young people who have such an attitude problem.

Even the best of earthly parents, at times, are unfair and fail to demonstrate kindness. Yet how wonderful it is to know that our Lord is fair in everything He does and is full of kindness, and He is always close to all who call upon Him sincerely.

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Ray Stedman -Unintentional Sin

Read: Leviticus 5

The Lord said to Moses: When anyone is unfaithful to the Lord by sinning unintentionally in regard to any of the Lord’s holy things, they are to bring to the Lord as a penalty a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value in silver, according to the sanctuary shekel. It is a guilt offering. Lev 5:14-15

A distinction of the sin offering is that often the sin was said to be unintentional. It is dealing not with acts of deliberate evil, which all of us commit from time to time, but it is dealing with the nature which prompts those acts, and which takes us by surprise.

Haven’t you noticed that? Most of us, if we were asked our private opinion, would have to say that we are pretty nice people. Most of us have a fairly good opinion of ourselves. We acknowledge that we do still have a few minor problems, yes, a few peccadillos which, if we merely had the proper motivation, could be taken care of with but slight effort on our part. That is true, isn’t it?

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Good Contagion

Read: Mark 1:40-42

Moved with pity, [Jesus] stretched out his hand and touched him. (v. 41)

Rules in the Bible always had well-grounded reasons behind them. The laws of Israel were a gift from God designed to keep people healthy and safe. Take, for instance, the rule on staying away from lepers. Leprosy was a contagious disease and so, difficult though it was for lepers to be isolated, the goal was to keep the disease from spreading. Touch a leper, and you yourself would become unclean and would be required to stay away from everyone else for a good week just to make sure you had not contracted leprosy yourself. Sin and its results in a fallen world (like disease) are like that: they spread, they infect.

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Presidential Prayer Team; C.H. -Be Moved

What does it mean to repent? According to Merriam-Webster, the definition is “to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life.” Repent is a verb, so true repentance causes you to take action.

They were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

Acts 2:37

When Peter addressed the Jews after Christ’s ascension into Heaven, he shared how Jesus was the Son of God. “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:36) When hearing this truth, the people were “cut to the heart” and were immediately moved to action. They asked the apostles how to make amends – and Peter told them to repent and be baptized.

Has the Lord recently shared something with you that cut you to the heart? Don’t be overwhelmed with sorrow; instead, be moved to make a life-altering change. Start by praying and asking for forgiveness, knowing that He will hear you and respond in His love. Then pray for America and its national leaders to hear truth and repent. God’s will for everyone is salvation through Christ. May many in the nation be moved to action.

Recommended Reading: Acts 2:29-41

Greg Laurie – The People God Uses

But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.—1 Corinthians 1:27

When we think of Elijah, we generally think of powerful miracles. No doubt he was one of the greatest miracle-working prophets of all. He raised the dead. He stopped the rain. He called fire down from heaven. (I think he’d be a great guy to have at a barbecue.)

The Bible tells us that Elijah was a Tishbite, from Gilead. That means very little to us, but it’s important for us to know that Gilead was east of the Jordan River. The people who lived there were roughhewn, tanned from the sun, and tough. He would have dressed in animal skins. We know Elijah as a man who was bold and courageous. He was fearless.

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Kids 4 Truth International – God Will Use Anything To Glorify Himself

“And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” (John 9:2-3; *read John 9:1-12*)

Have you ever seen a beautiful diamond? Diamonds come in all shapes and sizes. Every little girl dreams about that day when her “Prince Charming” will ride up on a white horse and presents her with a huge, sparkling diamond ring. And no little boy ever dreams he might end up being that Prince Charming!

Diamonds are beautiful. When sunlight comes through a diamond and makes a rainbow of colors, it is something to see! But do you know what diamonds are made from? The beautiful diamond that you see on your mom’s ring comes from carbon. Ok, so what is “carbon”? Carbon is the same thing that coal is made of. Coal!?! That’s right! Genuine, solid, black, ugly coal.

So, what makes the difference whether coal or diamonds come out of carbon? The answer is pressure and heat. Basically, the more the pressure and heat that get put into the carbon, it will produce a better and better quality diamond. Less pressure and less heat on carbon causes it to produce coal, which is far less valuable than diamonds.

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The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – What Is Your Intention?

Today’s Scripture: Romans 12:1

“I appeal to you . . . to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.”

How do we respond to the challenge to commitment—to present our bodies as living sacrifices; to, as it were, take an oath to obey God’s righteous laws; to resolve to allow no exceptions to our obedience? I suspect all of us think first of the impossibility of totally keeping such a commitment. And we’re reluctant to make a commitment we know we won’t keep. But the question still persists: are we willing to make that our aim, our goal in life? Are we willing to commit ourselves to a goal of obedience without exception? Such a commitment is necessary if we are to make progress in the pursuit of holiness.

Continue reading The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – What Is Your Intention?

The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – The “Gray” Areas

Today’s Scripture: Ezekiel 44-48

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. – Philippians 4:8-9

In Ezekiel 44:23, God gave this command to the priests of the sanctuary: “They are to teach my people the difference between the holy and the common [profane] and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean.” Note carefully that the priests were to teach the people, not simply tell them. It’s the difference between telling a person what to avoid and helping him learn why he should refrain from things that displease the Lord.

Continue reading The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – The “Gray” Areas

BreakPoint – When Science Becomes a God: Creationism Vs. Darwinism

In his book, “Darwin’s Doubt,” Dr. Stephen Meyer quotes Chinese paleontologist J. Y. Chen: “In China,” Chen says, “we can criticize Darwin, but not the government; in America, you can criticize the government, but not Darwin.”

A couple of Chinese researchers recently found this out the hard way when they published a paper on the workings of the human hand in the science journal PLOS ONE. Their title was innocuous enough: “Biomechanical Characteristics of Hand Coordination in Grasping Activities of Daily Living.”

But a sentence in the abstract got these authors in a world of trouble: “…the biomechanical characteristic of tendinous connective architecture…” they wrote, “is the proper design by the Creator to perform a multitude of daily tasks in a comfortable way.”

What? The creator mentioned in a scientific journal?

“As a scientist,” protested one PLOS ONE editor, “I feel outraged by the publication of a [manuscript] making explicit reference to creationism.”

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – FRUIT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

Read Philippians 1:1-11

Jesus changes lives. After an encounter with Him, Zacchaeus committed to repaying everyone he had cheated and gave half his possessions to the poor. Peter was transformed from a reckless fisherman who denied Christ to a bold preacher of the gospel who led thousands to faith in Jesus. And Paul changed from leading a zealous persecution of the church to becoming a missionary who planted churches and took the gospel to Europe.

Our identity in Christ will produce what the apostle Paul calls “the fruit of righteousness” (v. 11). Salvation through Jesus made us righteous, and sanctification in Christ is the process of seeing the fruit or evidence.

Paul gives several examples of this fruit in the opening verses of his letter to the church in Philippi. First, they were partners with him in the work of sharing the gospel (v. 4). Despite the struggles and persecution that Paul describes later in the letter, this church was committed to the good news of salvation through Jesus.

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North Carolina is in the news today for two reasons. One is that the University of North Carolina lost the men’s NCAA basketball championship game last night to Villanova on an amazing last-second shot.

The second reason is that the state’s “bathroom bill” debate continues to generate national controversy. The story began in Charlotte, where an ordinance was passed that forced businesses to allow transgender customers to use the restrooms and locker rooms of their choice. If it had gone into effect, business owners could have faced fines and even potential jail time if they did not accommodate transgender customers.

The state legislature then intervened, drafting legislation that requires individuals to use the bathroom corresponding to the sex identified on their birth certificate. After Gov. Pat McCrory signed the bill into law, furor erupted.

Numerous governors and mayors across the country issued travel bans to North Carolina. Among them, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s ban is especially interesting. Houston voters’ action on a bathroom ordinance in 2015 was nearly identical to the North Carolina bill. Yet when the Syracuse men’s basketball team traveled to Houston to play in last weekend’s Final Four, Gov. Cuomo’s office was notably silent on their travel plans.