Charles Stanley – The God Who Saves

Ephesians 2:8-9

Recently I was talking with a man about his spiritual life. When I asked, “Are you saved?” he answered, “No, but I’m working at it.” When I pressed him, he explained that he was making some changes in his life. He had given up smoking and drinking, among other things. I knew I should help him understand a few important principles, as he was making some incorrect assumptions.

This gentleman needed to realize that what we do or what we give up for Jesus doesn’t amount to much. The Lord isn’t looking for people who change a few habits by sheer force of will; He’s calling people to surrender themselves to Him. The only action God expects of a seeker is to believe in Jesus—that He is who He says, He will do what He says, He has the authority to forgive, and He will equip His people to live a godly life. Because of those convictions, a new Christian is empowered to turn away from his old life—in other words, to repent—and begin the process of becoming “a new creature” (2 Cor. 5:17).

We don’t evolve into a saved people by deleting old habits and instituting better religious ones; we are transformed by the saving power of Jesus Christ when we believe in Him.

Since salvation isn’t something we earn, no one can boast before God. All of our moral living, good deeds, and strenuous efforts to change bad habits amount to a pile of trash, compared to the holiness of Jesus Christ (Isa. 64:6). Only His righteousness can cover our sins and make us right before the Father.

Bible in a Year: 2 Samuel 13-14

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Our Daily Bread — In Transition

Read: John 11:17-27

Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 10-12; Luke 9:37-62

We will be with the Lord forever. —1 Thessalonians 4:17

People post obituary notices on billboards and concrete block walls in Ghana regularly. Headlines such as Gone Too Soon, Celebration of Life, and What a Shock! announce the passing away of loved ones and the approaching funerals. One I read—In Transition—points to life beyond the grave.

When a close relative or friend dies, we sorrow as Mary and Martha did for their brother Lazarus (John 11:17-27). We miss the departed so much that our hearts break and we weep, as Jesus wept at the passing of His friend (v. 35).

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – We Believe in the Resurrection

Though there are no doubt those among us who would not believe on any amount of evidence that something so unusual as the resurrection could happen, there are countless others who are asking perceptive questions: What happened on that first Easter morning? Why would the disciples go to their deaths making such an outrageous claim? And why does the rise of Christianity remain a challenge unanswered?

Such questions are a good starting point for anyone, and often—like the resurrection for those who first beheld it—the questioner is moved quickly from historical matters below to matters far above. As N.T. Wright notes:

“[T]he challenge [of the resurrection] comes down to a much narrower point, not simply to do with worldviews in general, or with ‘the supernatural’ in particular, but with the direct question of death and life, of the world of space, time and matter and its relation to whatever being there may be for whom the word ‘god,’ or even ‘God,’ might be appropriate. Here there is, of course, no neutrality.”(1)

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John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Judas the Traitor

“He who was betraying Him gave them a sign, saying, ‘Whomever I shall kiss, He is the one; seize Him.’ And immediately he came to Jesus and said, ‘Hail, Rabbi!’ and kissed Him. And Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, do what you have come for’” (Matthew 26:48-50).

Judas Iscariot, in his attitudes and actions, is a classic example of the false believer.

As one of the Twelve, Judas was extremely disappointed at the kind of Messiah Jesus turned out to be. Instead of teaching the disciples how to conquer and control, Jesus taught them how to submit and serve. Any ambitions Judas might have had for gaining wealth, power, or prestige by being a close follower of Jesus were frustrated.

Judas’ compulsive unbelief, combined with his relentless greed and ambition, found a perverse, temporal fulfillment when Satan entered him, and he struck a deal with the Jewish leaders to betray Jesus for money (Luke 22:36). As one possessed by the Devil, Judas’s evil actions were no longer his own, though he was still responsible for them.

Continue reading John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Judas the Traitor

Wisdom Hunters – Business Discipline 

Prepare your work outside and get it ready for yourself in the field; afterward build your house and establish a home. Proverbs 24:27, AMP

Business discipline develops an appropriate strategy and follows through to execute the plan with precision. Over time this systematic approach produces a growing organization that is a sustainable and thriving enterprise. Business discipline comes from leaders who are disciplined: Women and men who understand the need for orderliness and integrity supported by first in class competency. When our passion is channeled into processes that allow our energy to be harnessed for ongoing productivity, then we are practicing business discipline. Patience stays in the process.

Solomon offers sound advice around establishing our work, before we build a house and have a family—wise words indeed. Back in the day of the small farms —it was prudent to save and pay cash for your land and take whatever time and work was required to prepare your fields. Today a young adult is smart to patiently grow in their profession, before they pile on responsibilities like marriage, parenting and debt. Better for someone to get their financial house in order prior to purchasing a home. Business discipline sets goals and moves forward by faith.

“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

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Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – Failure Isn’t Final

For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity.

Proverbs 24:16

Recommended Reading

Psalm 51

The Bible is filled with heroes, but only one man was perfect—the Lord Jesus. All the other saints in the biblical record made mistakes, took detours, lost their way, faltered, failed, wandered, and sinned. Abraham lied about Sarah. Noah got drunk. Moses lost his temper. Naomi traveled to Moab. David created scandals. Elijah fell into depression. Jonah ran away. Peter denied Christ. James and John squabbled about who was greatest. Even Paul admitted, “For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do” (Romans 7:15).

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Joyce Meyer – Be Decisive

…A man of two minds (hesitating, dubious, irresolute), [he is] unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything [he thinks, feels, decides]. —James 1:8

Whatever the problem or situation, decision is always better than doubt and indecision. For example, if you have had a quarrel with someone, it is much easier to decide to apologize than it is to stay angry and be filled with unforgiveness, bitterness, and resentment while you are waiting for the other person to apologize to you. Be a peacemaker, and you will have a lot of joy. I spent many years making war; and believe me, the price I paid was high. It cost me my peace and my joy and sometimes my health. Jesus has a way, and we can do it His way and enjoy life. Indecision wastes a lot of time, and time is too precious to waste.

Become a decisive person, and you will accomplish a lot more with less effort. No one learns to hear from God without making mistakes. Don’t be overly concerned about errors. Don’t take yourself too seriously. You are a fallible human being, not an infallible god. Learn from your mistakes, correct the ones you can, and continue being decisive. Don’t fall back into a pattern of indecision and double-mindedness just because you are wrong a few times. If you feel that God is prompting you to give something away, do it! Get it off your mind. Take some action and sow the seed. If you believe it is right, then do it. That is how you will find out for sure.

Continue reading Joyce Meyer – Be Decisive

Girlfriends in God – Is Your Past Still Tripping You Up?

Today’s Truth

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.

Philippians 3:13

Friend to Friend

It spoke to me as I strolled down the check out aisle of Marshalls that day. The wall art that was featured on an impulse-buy rack.

Amen! I thought.

The message? Simple: “Don’t Stumble On Things That Are Behind You.”

My mind reeled, and I thought hard about this seemingly simple directive that points to a habit that trips so many of us up: looking back. Allowing the past to deter and diminish our future.

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – God’s Home Is Holy

“Don’t you realize that all of you together are the house of God, and that the Spirit of God lives among you in His house? If anyone defiles and spoils God’s home, God will destroy him. For God’s home is holy and clean, and you are that home” (1 Corinthians 3:16,17).

At this writing, I am with the staff at our annual training on the campus of Colorado State University. In addition to the 3,000 United States and Canadian field staff of Campus Crusade for Christ who are here, thousands more are attending music workshops, summer school, numerous conferences and meetings on this campus. Also, the entire Denver Broncos professional football team is here for training.

Throughout the day, from early morning till late at night, the campus is alive with people jogging, roller-skating, playing tennis, walking and other physical activities. These people are disciplining their bodies, keeping them in good physical tone.

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Ray Stedman – The Need for a Priest

Read: Leviticus 8:1-9

The Lord said to Moses, Bring Aaron and his sons, their garments, the anointing oil, the bull for the sin offering, the two rams and the basket containing bread made without yeast, and gather the entire assembly at the entrance to the tent of meeting. Moses did as the Lord commanded him, and the assembly gathered at the entrance to the tent of meeting. Lev 8:1-4

These verses give us an introduction to priesthood by describing in very brief compass the ingredients which make it possible. First comes the word of God. A true priesthood never originates from man’s conception of what he needs. It comes from God’s word, God’s thoughts. God knows us and he has designed this for us. It doesn’t come from a pope, nor a council, nor a convention, nor a synod of bishops, nor any other form of human committee.

The second element is Aaron and his sons. Aaron was the brother of Moses. He and his descendants were the only family in the entire Old Testament authorized to serve as priests. In this family Aaron himself was to be the high priest. As the book of Hebrews makes very clear, we too have a high priest. Aaron is the picture of that great high priest, Jesus Christ our Lord. And his priesthood is as necessary to us as Aaron’s was to the Israelites. Aaron’s sons represent every believer in Jesus Christ. Everyone who knows Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is constituted a priest to the other members of the human family. John says that Jesus has made us a kingdom of priests (Revelation 1:6).

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Fog

Read: Mark 4:1-12

For those outside everything is in parables, so that “they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand.” (vv. 11-12)

Those of us who teach preaching to seminary students cannot emphasize enough how vital it is to be clear. Preachers must be clear communicators. So why is it that in his parables Jesus seems intent on (to use a phrase from professor of preaching Tom Long) pumping fog into the sanctuary? When the disciples hear a parable that neither they nor anyone else really understood, Jesus tells them not to worry because confusing people was his goal. He quotes Isaiah to say that he speaks in parables so that folks won’t understand. Huh? You want people to be befuddled, Jesus? What can account for this?

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Presidential Prayer Team; G.C.- Refreshing Energy

Narcissa Prentiss Whitman was among the first Anglo women to cross the Rocky Mountains. She and her husband braved a rugged road as missionaries sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ in the Oregon Country of what would later become the state of Washington. As they trekked, Prentiss penciled down their progress and her feelings, affirming her confidence in God’s calling yet many days confessing a difficult homesickness saying, “O how comforting is this to the missionary, we love to think and talk of home.”

The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…and God of all comfort.

II Corinthians 1:3

God indeed left a written word, the Bible, to comfort and guide His followers, and although you may feel sure of His call like Mrs. Whitman, it’s likely there will be days when your service is complicated and life is tough. In those moments, thoughts of God’s mercy through Jesus will bring a new energy to your heart and soul fueled by His holy presence.

Do you know someone struggling in their good work on Earth? Take time and pray for them and all believers in service to America. Pray they will be refreshed in their minds and reflect upon God’s purposes and His promises to accomplish all He intends through them.

Recommended Reading: Psalm 46:1-7

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Greg Laurie – Altered Plans

Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.”

—1 Kings 17:2–4

After a significant moment of delivering his message to King Ahab of an impending drought in the land, Elijah could have said, “Lord, let’s get this thing going. Let’s have the face-off with the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. Let’s go for it.”

But there was an interesting twist to the story. Loosely paraphrased, God said, “I have a different plan in mind for you, Elijah. I want you to disappear from the scene for a while. In fact, I want you to go over to this little brook called Cherith and just hang out there.”

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Kids 4 Truth International – God Cares for Us

“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” (1 Peter 5:10)

Every fall, Ricky and his sister Anna got to go with their cousins to the apple orchard. The orchard was way out in the country, and Ricky and Anna could smell the sweet, spicy scent of ripe apples even before all the kids could pile out of Uncle Josh’s truck.

The orchard owners would let them do “taste tests” on all the different kinds of apples, to see if they could tell the difference (sweet, or tart, or juicy, or crisp, and so on). They learned that apple trees need about six to eight weeks of cold winter weather so they can go dormant (which is like hibernating, or sleeping for a while) so that the trees will produce juicier, more flavorful fruit. They also learned that if the owners pruned (cut, trimmed back) a tree, it would produce more–and many times better–fruit than it would have if they had left it alone. And Ricky’s jaw dropped when the owners told them that sometimes a branch from one tree is grafted onto another tree–so that it is possible to have different kinds of apples growing on the same tree!

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The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Growing in Faithfulness

Today’s Scripture: Revelation 2:10

“Be faithful unto death.”

For growing in faithfulness, the first step is to acknowledge the biblical standard. Faithfulness entails absolute honesty, utter dependability, and unswerving loyalty. It’s to be like Daniel: neither corrupt nor negligent. Develop convictions consistent with this standard based on the Word of God, and plan to memorize one or more verses on the topic of faithfulness.

Second, evaluate your life with the aid of the Holy Spirit and perhaps a spouse or close friend. Do you seek to be scrupulously honest? Can others depend on you even when it’s costly? Will you stick by your friend when he’s in difficulty, and confront him in love when he’s wrong?

Continue reading The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Growing in Faithfulness

The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Jesus, Our Example

Today’s Scripture: Luke 19:1-10

He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm. – Proverbs 13:20

The Bible may seem to contain some contradictions, but God has taken precautions to keep His Word free from error. As we study it, we understand the paradoxes.

Take, for instance, the matter of the biblical teaching about separation from sin. We are told in Hebrews 7:26 that Jesus is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners. Yet in Hebrews 4:15, we read that Jesus “has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin.”

He was without sin, separated from sinners–sinless. Yet one of the major accusations by His enemies was that He associated with sinners. Listen to the words found in Luke 15:1-2: “Now the tax collectors and ‘sinners’ were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’”

Continue reading The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Jesus, Our Example

Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – DEAD TO SIN, ALIVE TO CHRIST

Read Romans 6:1-14

If you want to stop a bad habit, experts agree that you should replace it with a good one. Simply deciding to stop eating unhealthy foods or to stop procrastinating online is rarely enough; you need a plan to start eating healthier food or a process to motivate you to be more productive at work.

A similar spiritual principle is at work in our identity in Christ. For the next week we’re going to examine an essential element of who we are as followers of Jesus: alive! We’ll study what it means to be alive in Christ and the implications of this life. Our passage today describes how we have moved from death to life.

The apostle Paul includes some of his most emphatic declarations in this chapter. It seems some in the church in Rome had argued that since God responded to sin by offering grace, Christians should persist in sin in order to receive more grace. This argument completely misses the point of our identity in Christ, however. Just as Jesus died and was resurrected to a glorious life, so too we have died to sin and been baptized into a new life that is able to please God (vv. 2–7).

Continue reading Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – DEAD TO SIN, ALIVE TO CHRIST

Denison Forum – THE SUCCESS OF ‘AMERICAN IDOL’

Trent Harmon is the fifteenth and last winner of American Idol. However, my favorite moment came before the winner was announced last night.

Carrie Underwood, arguably the most successful winner in the history of the show, was given the honor of performing the last song before the final results were announced. She chose to sing Something in the Water, a song about the way faith and baptism change those who know Christ. (For more, see Janet Denison’s article on her faith.) Her amazing performance illustrated the importance of using our influence for the glory of God.

But back to American Idol. Time magazine calls it the show that “won contemporary culture.” Why was it so successful? Why are the answers relevant to you this morning?

Time notes that Idol was the first show of its kind in the U.S. When it launched in 2002 as an adaptation of the British Pop Idol franchise, few expected it to do so well. Survivor, the first reality show, was only two years old. The genre was in its infancy, at least in our culture.

That was then; this is now.

Continue reading Denison Forum – THE SUCCESS OF ‘AMERICAN IDOL’