Charles Stanley – The Role of the Wicked

Mark 15

With hundreds of prophecies related to the Messiah, it shouldn’t surprise us that God used many people—believers, unbelievers, and even some unquestionably wicked individuals—to ensure the Savior’s earthly life would unfold according to plan. For example, a census ordered by Caesar Augustus brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, the city of Christ’s birth. (See Mic. 5:2; Luke 2:1-4.)

What’s more, God used some of the most powerful men of the day to bring about His Son’s sacrificial death on the cross. Trumped-up charges by the Pharisees and Sadducees helped turn the crowd against Jesus (Mark 15:9-11). Pilate condemned Him, and the Romans carried out the actual crucifixion. They even bartered for His clothes and chose not to break His legs, as predicted in Scripture. (See John 19:24, 36.)

During the dark days between Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, the disciples must have believed the messianic plan had been derailed. But God’s goal wasn’t to bring political revolution as some believed. He sent His Son to redeem mankind: Jesus paid the penalty of death for all our sins.

Before the foundation of the world, God had planned for the salvation of every tribe and nation. Throughout history, He orchestrated events to fulfill His purpose, using even the ungodly to move His plan forward.

Many have had a hand in advancing the Savior’s story, but the ultimate responsibility is the Father’s. He gave His only Son over to death on behalf of the world that He loved (John 3:16). Both the righteous and the wicked who took part in God’s story were following His script.

Bible in a Year: 2 Samuel 20-22

Our Daily Bread — Who Am I Working For?

Read: Ecclesiastes 4:4-16

Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 17-18; Luke 11:1-28

“For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” —Ecclesiastes 4:8

Henry worked 70 hours a week. He loved his job and brought home a sizeable paycheck to provide good things for his family. He always had plans to slow down but he never did. One evening he came home with great news—he had been promoted to the highest position in his company. But no one was home. Over the years, his children had grown up and moved out, his wife had found a career of her own, and now the house was empty. There was no one to share the good news with.

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Dare to Ask

In the C.S. Lewis novel Till We Have Faces, the main character, Orual, has taken mental notes throughout her life, carefully building what she refers to as her “case” against the gods. Choosing finally to put this case formally in writing, she meticulously describes each instance where she has been wronged. It is only after Orual has finished writing that she soberly recognizes her great mistake. With a sobering blow of recognition, she sees the importance of uttering the speech at the center of one’s soul, for to have heard herself making the complaint was to be answered. She then profoundly observes that the gods used her own pen to probe the wounds. With sharpened insight Orual explains, “Till the words can be dug out of us, why should [the gods] hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face until we have faces?”(1)

Never since has a book cut open my heart and laid it before me so plainly. It was simultaneously the moment I realized how distant I had become from God and the sudden suspicion: What if God had been near all along? I had spent a lifetime subconsciously compiling my case against this God. Through more turbulent years en route to faith and belief in Christ, I stood armed with my diary of questions, taking more a stance of interrogator than glad follower. Some of my questions were milder interrogations than others; in fact, some even embodied the possibility of exoneration. But the telling detail in this perspective was that I saw myself as the one holding the judge’s gavel, while God was the one on trial.

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John MacArthur – Strength for Today – The Unjust Conspiracy

“The chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, in order that they might put Him to death” (Matthew 26:59).

The only evidence of guilt against Jesus was man-made and contrived.

The essence of the Jews’ ancient legal system is found in the Lord’s words to Moses and Israel: “You shall not distort justice; you shall not be partial” (Deut. 16:19). Therefore, it is truly amazing to consider what twisted measures the Jewish leaders resorted to in their trial of Jesus.

The Council, or Sanhedrin, was authorized to judge only those cases in which charges already had been brought. But in Jesus’ case, with no formal charges yet made and with the Jews’ rush to judgment, the Council had to act illegally as a prosecuting body to keep the chief priests’ murder plot moving forward.

As the sinless Son of God, Jesus was innocent of any wrongdoing. Therefore, the only way for the Jews to convict Him was to obtain false testimony against Him. And to do that, the leaders had to pervert the very heart of their judicial system and endorse the words of liars.

Continue reading John MacArthur – Strength for Today – The Unjust Conspiracy

Wisdom Hunters – God’s Customized Blessings 

Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request. 1 Chronicles 4:10

Our heavenly Father knows the exact time and the specific blessing each of His children needs. He knows when they need to be blessed, where they need to be blessed and how they need to be blessed. He customizes because He cares. Parents have the privilege of blessing their children based on their uniqueness—a good mom and dad love their children equally, but treat them uniquely. One child craves a parent’s blessing of affirming words, “I love you, I believe in you, You are beautiful.” Another needs cash compensation to make them feel valued for their work. Customized blessings come from a heart of love to a heart that needs love—a personalized love.

Jabez is Hebrew for pain. Born in a mother’s travail of childbirth, her physical pain was soon converted to a mother’s joy. Yes, an everyday example of how God turns a burden into a blessing. Like all humans, Jabez was a man of sorrow—as Jesus would be a man of sorrow. Also a man of prayer, he cries out to the one true God of Israel, whose leader Abraham was promised by the Lord to be blessed, along with his descendants. Customized blessings can come as a result of specific prayer requests. We cry out to Christ in bold faith, and trust Him to grant us His best.

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Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – Spiritual Training

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word.

Psalm 119:67

Recommended Reading

Romans 8:18-30

The primary New Testament Greek word for “training” or “instruction” is paideia. It is based on the verb paideuo which is based on a primitive Greek word pais—“a child, boy, or servant.” Therefore, as its base meaning, paideia means child-training. Because Christians needed training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16), paideia entered the New Testament epistles to refer to the way God trains and disciplines us as His children (Hebrews 12:5).

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Joyce Meyer – Overcome Evil with Good

Do not let yourself be overcome by evil, but overcome (master) evil with good.—Romans 12:21

We must not use our personal problems as an excuse to be grouchy and unloving with other people. Always remember that we overcome evil with good. This is why it is so important that we trust God, and while we are waiting on a change in our circumstances, we should remember to do good, do good, and do good!

In the Bible, the apostle Paul shares how even in times when he was suffering, he believed that God would take care of those things that he entrusted to Him (see 2 Timothy 1:12-14). We can be grateful that, like Paul, we are called to give our problems to God and refuse to worry.

A simple formula for victory is trust God, don’t worry, do good, and keep meditating on and confessing God’s Word, because God’s Word is the weapon we have been given by which we can overcome evil and do good.

Prayer of Thanks: Thank You, Father, that no matter what I may be going through, You give me opportunities to do good for those around me. I don’t have to focus on myself; I can choose to help others. Let me be an encouragement and a blessing to someone today.

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

Girlfriends in God – You’ve Been Pre-Approved!

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast,

Ephesians 2:8-9

Friend to Friend

I don’t know about you, but I get tired of junk mail from credit card companies that tell me I’ve been “pre-approved” for a line of credit. But here’s something I’ll never get tired of: God telling me that I’ve been pre-approved to be His child.

Just before Jesus began his earthly ministry, He traveled to the Jordan to be baptized by his cousin John. As soon as He came up out of the water, the heavens opened, the Spirit descended, and God spoke. “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – As Much As We Need 

“But you should divide with them. Right now you have plenty and can help them; then at some other time they can share with you when you need it. In this way each will have as much as he needs” (2 Corinthians 8:14).

I like Paul’s emphasis on spiritual equality. In his letter to the church at Corinth, this principle is clearly expressed:

“You can help them…they can share with you…each will have as much as he needs.”

Not one of us is a total body within himself; collectively, we are the body of Christ.

The hand can accomplish only certain kinds of functions.

The eyes cannot physically grasp objects, but they can see them.

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Ray Stedman – Strange Fire

Read: Leviticus 10:1-10

Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Lev 10:1-2

The very same Shekinah which had consumed the sacrifice now flashes out again to destroy these two priests. What a shock this must have been to Aaron, to his remaining two sons, and to the whole camp of Israel.

What do you think your reaction would have been if you had been part of this scene? Many of us reading stories like this have come up with the idea that God, especially the God of the Old Testament, is a God of vengeful judgment. But God is acting here just as much as a God of love as he is in any other part of the Bible. His nature is love. And he never deviates from what he has revealed himself to be. So this action must be in line with his nature and character of love.

There are several features in this passage which help us: The first is that this sin on the part of these two priests was not a sin of ignorance but one of presumption. They knew better. It wasn’t that they were simply doing something at which they had no idea God would be offended. They had been told emphatically that he would be offended. In Exodus 30:7-9 God had precisely said, Be careful; do not offer the wrong kind of incense. So this was a violation of the direct command of God. God never visits with judgment anybody who is struggling in ignorance to try to find him.

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Angling for Power

Read: Mark 10:32-35

And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” (v. 37)

It is an unhappy pattern in Mark: Jesus predicts his death, and the disciples respond by grasping for power. Again and again Jesus said his way went down a sacrificial path. But the disciples could not get rid of their dreams of earthly splendor. They believed Jesus would knock off Caesar and take over the government of a new Israel, and when that happened, they wanted top-ranking cabinet posts. The disciples even argued about this from time to time, each vying for the top positions of power.

It is easy 2,000 years later to be critical of the disciples. Why couldn’t they just listen to Jesus? Why did they keep trying to lead Jesus where they wanted him to go instead of following where Jesus was already leading? We would never do that. Would we?

Well . . . the history of the church is not real encouraging on this point. Altogether too many church leaders, past and present, have angled for political power. We wish the church had more clout, more leverage, more influence in Washington or other capitals of power. Individually we sometimes wish that we, too, had more sway over how things go in society. Of course, it’s not wrong to want to influence the world for Jesus. But like the first disciples, we need to do this in sacrificial ways, just like the Master whom we, too, are still supposed to be following, not leading.


Make us humble servants of your gospel, O God.

Author: Scott Hoezee

Presidential Prayer Team; J.R.- Rotten Resume Removal

Suppose you want to become president. The first thing that will look good on your resume is an appointment to West Point. Unfortunately, you’re rejected because you can’t pass the eye exam, legally blind in one eye. You can’t afford a prestigious university like Harvard, so you enroll in a modest local business school named Spalding’s Commercial College. You quit after one semester (and the school must not have been that good anyway; it went out of business). You end up in the Army, but narrowly avoid a court-martial for failing to follow orders. You then start a business, and it promptly goes bankrupt.

Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.

Galatians 3:7

At this point, it doesn’t look like you have any chance of being elected dog catcher, let alone president. Yet what you’ve just read is the biography of young Harry Truman, America’s thirty-third Chief Executive.

Maybe your resume has some rough spots. So what? “Forgetting what lies behind …” wrote Paul to the Philippians, and he reminded the Galatians in today’s verse that faith looks forward, not back. As you pray for your leaders today, thank God that as an American, and as a Christian, your future doesn’t have to be determined by your past.

Recommended Reading: Philippians 3:12-21

Greg Laurie – Work It Out

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.—Philippians 2:12

I don’t necessarily like to exercise, but I try to get out and take a walk every day. I also go to the gym a couple of days a week. I know it makes me feel better, and it helps me to actually do what I am called by God to do.

Just as we need to work out to stay in shape physically, we need to work out spiritually as well. Paul told the Christians in Philippi, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12–13). The phrase work out doesn’t mean work for your salvation. It means that you are to work it out. Another way to translate it would be “carry it to the goal and fully complete your salvation.”

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Kids 4 Truth International – Attitudes Matter to God

“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” (Psalm 66:18)

Outwardly, Jenna was dusting the coffee table. But inwardly, she was stewing. She could think of at least fifty other things she would rather do than clean the house for company. A new family from the church was coming over for supper, and her mother had given each of the children a task to help prepare the house. Not only did Jenna dislike having extra work, but she also dreaded eating lasagna again, her mother’s favorite dish to make whenever company came. Furthermore, the children in the new family were all under school age, and Jenna was not looking forward to babysitting them after dinner while the adults talked.

Nothing about the plans for the evening appealed to her. The more she thought about it, the more her resentment grew. Why didn’t her mother consider what Jenna wanted? Why shouldn’t her mother do all the cooking and cleaning, since she was the one who wanted to have company in the first place?

Stepping into the living room, Jenna’s mother glanced around and smiled approvingly. “That looks much better, honey. Thanks for your help.” Suddenly Jenna felt ashamed. She realized that her mother had no idea what she had been thinking. She had fooled her mother, but Jenna knew that her attitude was not right.

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The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Released and Adopted

Today’s Scripture: Romans 5:21

“Sin reigned in death.”

Think of a man sitting on death row, convicted of heinous crimes. All legal appeals to spare him have been exhausted. His impending execution looms nearer every day.

Suddenly the cell door is flung open. The judge who sentenced this man to die stands there with a full pardon in his hand. Moreover, the judge has now adopted him into his family as his own son, to be taken in and provided with all the love and care the judge lavishes on his own children.

We truly did live on God’s eternal “death row.” “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23)—physical and eternal death. As believers we know that we have been delivered from eternal death. That’s not the final word, however, for “we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23). Our redemption and our adoption into God’s family will reach ultimate fulfillment at the resurrection, when we receive our immortal bodies and dwell forever in the immediate presence of the Lord.

Continue reading The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Released and Adopted

The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Growing Deep Roots

Today’s Scripture: Isaiah 28-30

And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. – Ephesians 2:22

In today’s passage of Scripture, the prophet Isaiah presents the first principle of spiritual growth: We must begin with a sure foundation. Here are the words of Isaiah 28:16: “Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation” (KJV). In the New Testament we read that this foundation is Jesus Christ. Our precious Lord Jesus is this living stone, chosen by God. In 1 Corinthians 3:11, the apostle Paul wrote, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

I recall Dawson Trotman telling about a young man he once met. Daws had preached on the need for spiritual growth, and the young man came to him after the message and said, “Mr. Trotman, I want to grow, and I want to grow fast. I don’t want to go through all those things you mentioned tonight such as Bible study, morning prayer, and Bible reading.” He was looking for some way to take a great leap forward and arrive at spiritual maturity overnight.

Continue reading The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Growing Deep Roots

Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word –NEW CREATION IN CHRIST

Read 2 Corinthians 5:11-21

Many second or third daughters in India are named Nakusha, which means “unwanted.” One local government in the state of Maharashtra decided to hold a ceremony for many of these girls to give them new names. One girl chose the name Sakshi, meaning “witness.” “I was going to be a witness to a historic event, and become a part of it too,” she said. “I know I have to be patient, because people are used to calling me Nakusha. . . . But now I have a name and I feel good. I feel like a new person. It will change my life forever.”

Believers in Jesus have a new name and a new destiny. Indeed, because of our identity in Christ we are now a new creation.

As we’ve seen throughout our study, Scripture doesn’t tell us about our identity in Christ so that we can sit back, take it easy, and feel good about ourselves. Knowing that we are a new creation—freed from old habits and old perspectives—should be tremendously encouraging. It should also compel us to share this news with others.

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Jordan Spieth was seven holes from winning the Masters for the second consecutive time when disaster struck on Sunday. He found himself at the twelfth hole, often called the most beautiful par-three in golf. It was anything but for Jordan, who hit two balls into the water. In the span of five minutes, his lead evaporated. Danny Willett, a new father and the son of a Church of England vicar, went on to win.

Today the sporting world is focused on what many are calling Jordan’s “collapse.” I have a different view.

Due to the great kindness of a friend, it was my privilege to attend the Masters last Friday. I followed Jordan Spieth from the time he began his round until our group had to leave for the flight back to Dallas. Several times I was ten or so feet from him.

Here’s what I observed: he is an amazingly talented golfer and an even better person.