Charles Stanley – The Believer’s Task

Romans 12:6-8

Christians sometimes misunderstand the gift of salvation. It is not given, as some believe, for the purpose of making our lives happy, easy, and “smooth-sailing” (in fact, verses such as James 1:2-4 indicate trouble can be expected in this life).

Instead, our heavenly Father has a number of other reasons for redeeming us. In addition to being able to express His great love, He also wants to be glorified through the lives of His children. This happens as His followers become increasingly conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29), make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19), and do the good works He created us to do.

Ephesians 2:10 states, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” The Father blesses each of us with abilities and circumstances that enable us to do His work—He planned all this even before we were born. In addition, when we are saved, He gives us spiritual gifts that perfectly fit His purpose for our lives.

The Lord wants us to discover our unique talents and spiritual gifts so that we will be able to use them for His glory. That is the only way we will find genuine joy and fulfillment in this world.

Are you serving Christ in a way that utilizes the gifts you have been given? If you need guidance to discover your areas of strength, you might benefit from taking a spiritual giftedness inventory test. Inquire at your church or check online for an evaluation tool.

Bible in a Year: 1 Kings 1-2

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Heart Check

Read: Luke 12:22-34

Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 22-24; Luke 12:1-31

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. —Luke 12:34

When commuting into Chicago on the train, I always followed the “unwritten codes of conduct”—such as, no conversations with people sitting next to you if you don’t know them. That was tough on a guy like me who has never met a stranger. I love talking to new people! Although I kept the code of silence, I realized that you can still learn something about people based on the section of the newspaper they read. So I’d watch to see what they turned to first: The business section? Sports? Politics? Current events? Their choices revealed their interests.

Our choices are always revealing. Of course, God doesn’t need to wait to see our choices in order for Him to know what’s in our hearts. But the things that occupy our time and attention are telling. As Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34). Regardless of what we want Him to think of us, the true condition of our heart becomes clear based on how we use our time, our money, and our talents. When we invest these resources in the things He cares about, then it reveals that our hearts are in tune with His.

Continue reading Our Daily Bread — Heart Check

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Show Us the Father

Above the massive statue of Abraham Lincoln in Washington D.C. is the inscription: “In this Temple, as in the hearts of the people, for whom he saved the Union, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever.” The seated figure is 19 feet tall, carved from 28 blocks of white marble. To stand in front of the giant sculpture is no doubt to catch a glimpse of the nation’s respect for the man and his important place in American history.

As in many cultures, a statue carved in someone’s image is an honor bestowed upon the one engraved in stone. A portrait painted in someone’s likeness is intended to be a distinguishing tribute to the life captured in color. And yet, in ancient near eastern writ is the repeated warning never to do the same with God. In the ancient words of the Hebrew Bible, the one who would hold our highest esteem, has cautioned against even attempting to make such images because even the best of our imagination will lead us astray. “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols” (Isaiah 42:8). Whether in finest metal or costly stone, to create a graven image of God would only reduce this God.

A prayer by C.S. Lewis captures a similar idea in more modern terms, suggesting that not all graven images are of stone and gold. The poem is titled “The Apologist’s Evening Prayer” and is a potent glimpse at what we might call thoughtful idols. Writes Lewis:

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Show Us the Father

John MacArthur – Being Filled with Mercy

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matt. 5:7).

Mercy is a characteristic of true believers.

Like the other beatitudes, Matthew 5:7 contains a twofold message: to enter the kingdom you must seek mercy. Once there, you must show mercy to others.

The thought of showing mercy probably surprised Christ’s audience because both the Jews and the Romans tended to be merciless. The Romans exalted justice, courage, discipline, and power. To them mercy was a sign of weakness. For example, if a Roman father wanted his newborn child to live, he simply held his thumb up; if he wanted it to die, he held his thumb down.

Jesus repeatedly rebuked the Jewish religious leaders for their egotistical, self-righteous, and condemning attitudes. They were intolerant of anyone who failed to live by their traditions. They even withheld financial support from their own needy parents (Matt. 15:3-9).

Like the people of Jesus’ time, many people today also lack mercy. Some are outright cruel and unkind, but most are so consumed with their quest for self-gratification that they simply neglect others.

Continue reading John MacArthur – Being Filled with Mercy

Wisdom Hunters – Seeing the Face of Jesus 

No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. Revelation 22:3-4

In the south we like to say, “Good to see you.” It’s beyond a friendly greeting, because it’s much better to look into someone’s eyes—see their soul and feel their heart. Even technology allows us to FaceTime two friendly faces, so we might better bridge the impersonal feel from a geographic chasm of what can be several hundred miles. Face to face interactions grow trust, deepen intimacy, influence decisions and increase understanding of one another. Face to face encounters are “God moments” to reflect a face of faith, hope, comfort and love. Face time is faith time.

Because of our earth bound limitations and imperfect perceptions, our mortality encounters an unclear face of Christ. We enjoy glimpses of His glory in rapturous worship and intimate prayer. We see the outline of His countenance in the unselfish service of one of His choice servants, who quietly gives expecting nothing but praise to God in return. But the beloved John lifts our spirits in his Holy Spirit inspired description of our eventual return to Eden, restored to its original intent of purity and perfection. The face of Jesus lights up the eternal city with His illuminating love!

“Anyone who has seen me [Jesus] has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me” (John 14:9-10)?

Continue reading Wisdom Hunters – Seeing the Face of Jesus 

Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – God’s Deepest Work

Concerning this [thorn] I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.

2 Corinthians 12:8

Recommended Reading

2 Corinthians 11:13-15; 12:1-10

One of the most profound insights the apostle Paul had may have been the result of some people who were making life difficult for him. There were false apostles at Corinth who sought to discredit Paul’s ministry. Some scholars believe these were the “thorn in the flesh” Paul asked God to remove from him (2 Corinthians 12:7-8). He was in danger of pride over the divine revelations he had received (12:1-7). The “false apostles” (11:13-15) attacking him may have been God’s method to keep Paul humble.

Continue reading Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – God’s Deepest Work

Joyce Meyer – Sufficient Grace

…My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness.… —2 Corinthians 12:9

Do you ever wonder why God does not always deliver you from your bondage and problems immediately? The reason is because only the Lord knows everything that needs to be done in the lives of His children—and the perfect timing for it to be done.

You are not always delivered from your distress at the precise moment you call on the name of the Lord. Sometimes you must endure for a while, be patient and continue in faith. Thank God, during those times in which the Lord decides for whatever reason not to deliver you right away, He always gives the grace and strength you need to press on toward eventual victory.

From the book Ending Your Day Right by Joyce Meyer.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Girlfriends in God – When You’ve Failed and Bailed

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

Friend to Friend

I just love Moses. I can relate to him on so many levels.

For about forty years, he thought he was an Egyptian…the son of the Pharaoh’s daughter. But somehow he discovered that he was NOT an Egyptian after all. He was a Hebrew, the son of a slave woman. . . and that changed everything.

Moses had a mid-life crisis and came up with a plan to save his true people from Egyptian slavery. God did not call him to this plan. He came up with it all on his own. (Red flag for all of us.)

One day Moses was walking among his people and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave. Glancing first one way and then another to make sure no one was looking, Moses killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. One down. Several million to go. Moses was working the plan.

Continue reading Girlfriends in God – When You’ve Failed and Bailed

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Inner Strengthening 

“That out of His glorious, unlimited resources He will give you the mighty inner strengthening of His Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 3:16).

In Christ are all the attributes and characteristics promised to His children as the fruit of the Spirit. And the Holy Spirit was given to glorify Christ.

  • Do you need love?

The Lord Jesus Christ is the incarnation of love. Paul prays that our roots may “go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love; and may you be able to feel and understand, as all God’s children should, how long, how wide, how deep and how high His love really is; and to experience this love for yourselves (though it is so great that you will never see the end of it, or fully know or understand it”) (Ephesians 3:17-19).

  • Do you need peace?

Christ is the “Prince of Peace.” “I am leaving you with a gift,” said Jesus, “peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives” (John 14:27).

  • Do you need joy?

Christ is joy.

  • Do you need patience?

Continue reading Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Inner Strengthening 

Ray Stedman – The Need for a Standard

Read: Leviticus 11

I am the Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy. Lev 11:45

In this section we face the need for a standard, a measuring stick by which we can distinguish between good and evil. That is not easy to do. Modern philosophies tell us that there is really nothing harmful, that it is only our perverted thinking which makes things wrong, and that if we would but change our thinking then anything and everything is right. But you don’t find anything like that in Scripture. The Bible tells us that we are living in a world where truth and error are inextricably mixed and that you cannot easily tell one from the other. How do you tell the difference before it is too late, before you have to learn through sorrows and sadness?

With these Israelites, his concern was expressed on the physical level — he actually regulated their diet. In this chapter, you have dietary laws distinguishing clean animals from unclean, and various sanitary practices are included as well. Many of these practices have a commonsense basis in staying healthy. God kept his people physically whole through many of these regulations.

Continue reading Ray Stedman – The Need for a Standard

Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Too Much

Read: Mark 12:41-44

For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on. (v. 44)

We usually read Jesus’ final words here as Jesus’ way of commending this widow for sacrificially giving every last thing she had to live on. How many sermons don’t conclude with “And so, beloved, we too should give until it hurts as this widow did”?

But what if Jesus’ tone of voice was different? What if he sounded angry, disgusted? What if Jesus was saying not that it was good that she had given her all but that she should not have felt obligated to do that in the first place? Indeed, we know that the religious establishment in Jesus’ day did not follow God’s ways very well, including when it came to taking care of widows and other vulnerable members of society. God does not expect a widow to feel obligated to give her last penny and then go home and starve. Had the temple been doing its job, this woman would have been told, “You, dear woman, need not give to us—in fact, we will give to you!”

Jesus had a keen eye for the down-and-out of his day. He gravitated toward them and they always found their way to him, too. The message was always the same: God has a soft spot in his heart for the lonely and the vulnerable. As Jesus’ followers, we need his kind of eyesight, too.

Prayer:

Open our eyes, Lord, to see those whom others don’t and to bring them your love.

Author: Scott Hoezee

 

https://woh.org/

Presidential Prayer Team; G.C.- Immigrant Love

A look back into history reveals America has always been a land of immigration. From those crossing over the ice bridge connecting Asia to North America, to Europeans crossing oceans in fifteenth-century sailing vessels, to the French and Spanish settlements eventually being bumped for the English and Dutch. Just prior to the American Revolution, this great land was already a medley of those willing to risk it all to stake a claim of freedom.

That our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good.

II Thessalonians 1:11

Today, the United States remains a land filled with people from different cultures and varied backgrounds – but all have the same need. Jesus is the only One who can bring them freedom from their sin and place them on course to fulfill God’s purposes for their lives…and His will for you is to give them every opportunity to know Him.

Ask the Lord to use you, as an ambassador compelled by the exhortation of today’s verse, to share His truth with individuals and families around you of every race and creed. Pray for the nation’s leaders to know Him as well…and for the country’s future immigrants to encounter God’s people and know His love.

Recommended Reading: Matthew 25:34-40  Click to Read or Listen

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

Greg Laurie – Why Jesus Came

“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

—John 10:10

Ever since childhood, I have always had a great admiration for the historical person known as Jesus. I had seen all of His movies. I thought very highly of Him.

As a little boy, I lived with my grandmother for a few years. I would thumb through her big family Bible and look at the pictures of Jesus. She also had a picture of Jesus hanging on the wall. I would stare at it and think, “I wish I could have known that man, Jesus.”

The one thing I didn’t like about the life of Jesus was how the story ended. I thought it should have been rewritten with a happier ending. The part about Him being crucified wrecked everything. He was on this great roll, healing people and teaching people. But then it all came to an end. Why did they have to put Him on a cross and kill Him?

Continue reading Greg Laurie – Why Jesus Came

Kids 4 Truth International – God Is Magnified When We Serve with His Strength

“If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:11)

What does it mean to “minister…as of the ability which God giveth”? It means that when we do work for the Lord, we ought to do it by His power, and not in our own strength.

Our talents and abilities all come from God. Even the time that we have to serve God is given to us by God! But sometimes believers start to forget that without Christ, they can do nothing . (See John 15:5.) They start relying and depending on their own efforts and their own ideas and their own hard work–and they forget to rely and depend on God. In fact, they forget God altogether sometimes! These believers need to be humble and remember that they need God”s strength in order to do ministry work that glorifies Him.

On the other hand, some believers are afraid to get too involved with ministry work. They think, “I am not talented enough. I am uncomfortable in situations. So-and-so is a better such-and-such than I would be. I don”t really have time. I don”t really feel ”up to” this kind of a thing.” Sometimes, believers start to forget that through Christ, they can do anything that He wants them to do. (See Philippians 4:13.) These believers need to be encouraged and remember that they have God”s strength available to them, and that it honors Him when His people use that strength for His work.

Continue reading Kids 4 Truth International – God Is Magnified When We Serve with His Strength

The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – The Holy Example of Christ

Today’s Scripture: 1 Peter 2:22

“He committed no sin.”

Christ’s life is meant to be an example of holiness for us. Peter told us that Christ left an example for us to follow in his steps (1 Peter 2:21); he spoke particularly of Christ’s suffering without retaliation, but in the following verse he said also that Christ committed no sin. Paul urged us to be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1) and also said, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1, NIV).

Clearly, the sinless, holy life of Jesus Christ is meant to be an example for us. Consider then his statement, “I always do what pleases him.” Do we dare take that as our personal goal in life? Are we truly willing to scrutinize all our activities, all our goals and plans, and all our impulsive actions in light of this statement: “I’m doing this to please God”? If we ask that honestly, we’ll begin to squirm a bit.

Continue reading The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – The Holy Example of Christ

The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Mourning into Gladness

Today’s Scripture: Nehemiah 8-10

He has sent me to…provide for those who grieve in Zion–to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. – Isaiah 61:1,3

Did you know that the chemical composition of tears is affected by what makes us cry? Tears of frustration have a different composition than tears of grief or joy. And some kinds of crying are better for us than others.

In today’s passage, we have the beautiful lesson that God can turn our tears of mourning into tears of joy. When Ezra read the book of the Law, the record says the people wept. And at that point, Nehemiah moved into the picture and challenged them to receive the Word with joy.

When Nehemiah saw the people weeping, he told them to rejoice, remembering that the joy of the Lord was their strength. Then he told them to send portions of food to those for whom nothing was prepared.

Continue reading The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Mourning into Gladness

BreakPoint – Man Does Not Live by Math Alone: the Importance of the Humanities for Our Spiritual Education

We’ve all seen the studies showing that students in America are falling behind in STEM subjects—STEM is shorthand for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics—and many in education and government are freaking out. The STEM Education Coalition warns that 60 percent of employers are having a hard time finding qualified workers, and that of 65 education systems worldwide, American students rank only 27th in math and 20th in science.

“STEM education must be elevated as a national priority,” the group recommends. “Our nation’s future economic prosperity,” they say, “is closely linked with student success in the STEM fields.”

I agree. This is a serious matter. But what about our moral and ethical security? Many in academia and government in these budget-cutting times are joining the stampede to emphasize STEM education at the expense of the humanities. And Washington Post columnist Fareed Zakaria says that’s short-sighted. “Technical chops are just one ingredient needed for innovation and economic success,” Zakaria says. “No matter how strong your math and science skills are, you still need to know how to learn, think and even write.” Studies show that subjects such as literature, philosophy, and ethics actually improve STEM performance! Truly, man does not live by math alone.

While STEM subjects are necessary to our national well-being, subjects such as history, philosophy, the arts, and, yes, theology—which, after all, used to be known as “the queen of the sciences”—are vital to our spiritual well-being. While the former can provide us with facts and information, the latter supply us with meaning and wisdom.

Continue reading BreakPoint – Man Does Not Live by Math Alone: the Importance of the Humanities for Our Spiritual Education

Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – RAISED WITH CHRIST

Read Colossians 3:1-17

Toddlers and preschoolers love to play dress-up as part of their expanding imaginations. “I’m an alligator! I need my alligator suit!” said one boy, demanding his plush costume. “I’m a princess—that’s why I have a crown!” said a little girl. Whether playing superheroes, princesses, or animals, young children love to dress the part.

The apostle Paul uses the metaphor of dressing up or clothing ourselves in several of his letters (see also Eph. 6:10–18). Our text today provides us with a detailed list of exactly what we should take off and put on as evidence of our true identity.

First, Paul describes the thoughts, motives, and actions that we need to abandon. It’s important to notice the exhortation here: “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature . . . rid yourselves of all such things” (vv. 5, 7). Though we now have life in Christ, we still struggle with temptations of lust and greed and anger. We have been saved but not fully perfected; we continue to battle sin. The key distinction between our status as dead to Christ and now as alive to Christ is that we no longer want to persist in sexual immorality or rage. We are continually taking off these filthy old garments.

Continue reading Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – RAISED WITH CHRIST

Denison Forum – HISTORY WILL BE MADE TONIGHT

History is on the line this evening, for at least two reasons.

One: Kobe Bryant is retiring. The NBA’s third-leading scorer of all time will play the final game of his twenty-year career tonight. Bryant played in the All-Star Game eighteen times. He recently scored thirty-five points in a game, proving that he can still be one of the league’s most dominant players (For more, see Nick Pitts’s Resilence: The Career and Faith of Kobe Bryant).

Two: The Golden State Warriors are trying to win more games than any team in history. A victory tonight will be their seventy-third of the season, eclipsing the 1995–96 Chicago Bulls’ record that many thought would never be broken.

But be warned: If you’d like to attend either game, call your banker first.

Continue reading Denison Forum – HISTORY WILL BE MADE TONIGHT