Charles Stanley – A Caring Church

Luke 10:25-37

Do you realize that for believers, many types of needs should be met without going outside the church? We are meant to be a self-sustaining body. After several decades in ministry, I have seen only one way for the church to function as it should: Christians must commit to give of themselves on behalf of others.

For example, a man determines to pray and struggle alongside a hurting brother until a burdensome situation is resolved or peace returns. Or a woman makes herself available to answer a new Christian’s questions about the weekly sermon—the two ladies search the Bible and fill their minds with Scripture. And there are countless other ways to serve, such as driving an elderly member to the service, teaching a Sunday school class, or visiting a weary single mom and listening to her concerns.

Before you become overwhelmed by the variety of needs in your church, let me remind you that loving each other is meant to be a body-wide effort. One person cannot meet every need. But suppose you commit to serving a small group of folks whom God brings into your sphere of influence. If, in order to care for them, you surrender self-focused preferences about resources and time, the Lord will bless you with more joy and contentment than you’ve ever known.

To serve others before serving yourself is to practice authentic Christianity. I’m certain that if believers commit to meeting as many needs as the Lord brings to their attention, then a lethargic church can be transformed, becoming a true body of believers who function together for the glory of God.

Bible in a Year: 1 Chronicles 10-12

 

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Our Daily Bread — Out of the Ruins

Read: Lamentations 5:8-22

Bible in a Year: 1 Kings 16-18; Luke 22:47-71

He has granted us new life to rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins. —Ezra 9:9

In the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem you’ll find Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue. Built in the 19th century, the synagogue was dynamited by commandos during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

For years the site lay in ruins. Then, in 2014, rebuilding began. As city officials set a piece of rubble as the cornerstone, one of them quoted from Lamentations: “Restore us to yourself, Lord, that we may return; renew our days as of old” (5:21).

Lamentations is Jeremiah’s funeral song for Jerusalem. With graphic imagery the prophet describes the impact of war on his city. Verse 21 is his heartfelt prayer for God to intervene. Still, the prophet wonders if that is even possible. He concludes his anguished song with this fearful caveat: “unless you have utterly rejected us and are angry with us beyond measure” (v. 22). Decades later, God did answer that prayer as the exiles returned to Jerusalem.

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Accounting for Beauty

Dale Henderson gives cello concerts in New York City subway stations because he fears the day when classical music will be no more. He plays for free, focusing primarily on Bach Solo Cello Suites because their “power and beauty unfailingly inspire great appreciation, joy and deep emotion in those who hear them.”(1) Some commuters stop and stare, curious or captivated, many having never heard a cello or Bach concerto before. For Henderson, the music is an offering of something meaningful, seeds for future generations of classical music admirers who would not otherwise know it, beauty well worth lugging his heavy cello down into the subways to protect.

It is not always easy to talk about beauty without a minefield of objections or at best complicating list of qualifiers. Its modern place in the “eye of the beholder” gives it a tenuous feel at best. It’s ancient place as a perfect and ancient ideal is equally abstract. While Henderson describes a world without classical music as soul-less, others may not miss it so much. And the contrast of beauty in a broken and breaking world makes its distinctive encounters increasingly stand out.

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John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Trials’ Lessons: Faith

“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac; and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son” (Hebrews 11:17).

The main reason God allows trials in the lives of Christians is to test the strength of their faith.

The memorable example in Genesis 22 of Abraham’s testing is perhaps the severest trial any human being has ever faced. When God told Abraham to offer his only son Isaac as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of Moriah (Gen. 22:1-2), Abraham no doubt was stunned. In terms of God’s nature, His plan of redemption, His promise to Abraham, and His love for Isaac, the entire concept was utterly inconceivable and unprecedented.

But in the face of all that, Abraham showed remarkable faith in dealing with this trial (Gen. 22:3-8). He did not second-guess God, as many of us would, but rather obeyed immediately (v. 3) and displayed the confidence that he and Isaac would return (v. 5) and that God would supply a lamb for the offering (v. 8). Then Abraham showed he was ready to obey completely. Genesis 22 tells us he “bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand, and took the knife to slay his son” (vv. 9-10). What unbelievable faith, and what a dramatic moment when God spared Abraham from the full cost of obedience (vv. 11-12)! The story clearly shows us the nature of true faith (Gen. 15:6) and why Abraham was later called the father of the faithful (Rom. 4:11-12; Gal. 3:6-7).

Continue reading John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Trials’ Lessons: Faith

Wisdom Hunters – Character and Credibility Gain Access 

Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Revelation 22:14

Years ago as a young minister my friend Andy Stanley came by my office at his Dad’s church and asked if I wanted to meet Billy Graham. Taken back and totally humbled, I stammered out a whispered “yes”, quickly followed by an exuberant “absolutely”! The occasion was a Pastor’s reception prior to Dr. Graham’s Sunday night crusade. When we arrived at the Georgia Dome, buzzing with activity—a team member took us to meet Billy along with other ministry leaders. I had access to a moment with Mr. Graham, because of Dr. Stanley’s character and credibility.

John describes the last beatitude given by Jesus. Those whose character is cleansed by Christ are qualified to access God’s presence here and in heaven. Blackened garments soiled by sin, but washed in the sanitizing salvation of Jesus’ blood creates a new and beautiful creation, radiant white, purified by the grace of God. With eternal life the tree of life is accessible—with blessings unknown to earthly pilgrims still on their journey of faith. The two bookends of the Garden of God in Genesis to the City of God in Revelation are encapsulated for all the redeemed to worship the Alpha and the Omega forever! Character and credibility from Christ gain access to Christ!

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Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – Words of Love

Therefore comfort one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 4:18

Recommended Reading

Ephesians 4:29

The phrase “one another” occurs 53 times in the New Testament epistles. That frequency of use indicates just how relational the Christian life is meant to be. We are continually to look out for the needs of others as well as for our own. And that applies to the “one anothers” in marriage—husbands and wives who encourage each other.

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Girlfriends in God – Small Adjustments Can Make a Big Difference

Are you [actually] unaware or ignorant [of the fact] that God’s kindness leads you to repentance [that is, to change your inner self, your old way of thinking—seek His purpose for your life]?

Romans 2:4

Friend to Friend

I was speaking in Georgia that particular weekend. On day two of the retreat I woke up early and turned on the water in the beautiful tiled shower. As it heated up I noticed that the showerhead was mounted on an off-centered pole. It seemed very low, and was spraying straight along the plane of the wall.

I’m a tall chick, so as I stepped in and positioned myself under the showerhead I had to squat and stand very close to the wall. {Awesome. A quad workout! Shower bonus.}

As I shampooed my hair, my legs were on fire from squatting. And then a thought crossed my mind… MAYBE the showerhead can be raised!

I turned around and tried to lift it higher. It went higher! YES!

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Ways That Are Right and Best

“He will teach the ways that are right and best to those who humbly turn to Him” (Psalm 25:9).

A guide, taking some tourists through Mammoth Cave, reached a place called “The Cathedral.”

Mounting a rock called “The Pulpit,” he said he wanted to preach a sermon, and it would be short.

“Keep close to your guide,” he said.

The tourists soon found it was a good sermon. If they did not keep close to the guide, they would be lost in the midst of pits, precipices and caverns.

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Ray Stedman – Jesus the Christ

Read: Acts 2:22-31

But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. Acts 2:24

Here revealed is the power of God among men — the resurrection power of God, a power which man cannot duplicate. Resurrection power is the ability to bring life out of death, to correct a situation which is hopeless, to change a person who is irremediable — that is resurrection power.

I met with a high school boy who told me about his conversion, and the reaction of his father. His father was baffled by this conversion. It fit no psychological pattern he knew of. He could not explain why his son was so suddenly and drastically different. Because he could not explain it, it angered him, and he reacted against it, and was fighting it all the way. This is the frequent reaction of those who come into contact with this power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead.

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Tongue Control

Read: James 3:3-12

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths. (Eph. 4:29 NIV)

Have you ever gossiped? I know I have. It’s easy to tell a friend a juicy detail that begins small and can grow out of control. James says “the tongue is a fire” that can corrupt a whole person and set the course of one’s life ablaze with destruction (James 3:6). James mentions many sins of the tongue such as slander, boasting, and quarreling. Speech that flows out of our mouths as praise to God one moment can mutate into gossip about someone the next. That’s how quickly our tongues can get us into trouble.

In contrast, the Holy Spirit’s power is like fresh water, which can extinguish those sparks of sinful speech before they turn our lives into raging forest fires. We need to submit to God to control these sins of the tongue. We can ask the Holy Spirit for his strength. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you,” James says, and the Lord will purify your heart (James 4:7-8).

Jesus said that “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45 NIV). A leader recently asked people to imagine if what you say in private were read aloud by Jesus in front of Continue reading Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Tongue Control

Presidential Prayer Team; C.P. – Off The Shelf

Ronald Reagan, the fortieth U. S. President, once said, “I believe with all my heart that standing up for America means standing up for the God who has so blessed our land. We need God’s help to guide our nation through stormy seas. But we can’t expect Him to protect America in a crisis if we just leave Him over on the shelf in our day-to-day living.”

You shall blow the trumpets…They shall be a reminder of you before your God.

Numbers 10:10

In Numbers 10, God told Moses to fashion two silver trumpets and use them to call Israel together, to break camp, to go to war, and to mark months, feasts and celebrations. However, sounding the trumpet was not only a way of communication. It was an act of remembrance before God.

Your Presidential Prayer Team sounds the trumpet every day to seek and serve God and bring the needs of the nation before Him. Pray that America will heed Reagan’s advice and not set God aside, but stand up for the Lord and turn to Him humbly and expectantly in times of crisis. After all, He is the one who has dominion of this nation and this world, both now and forevermore.

Recommended Reading: I Peter 5:6-11

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Greg Laurie – The Almost Christian

“Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘You almost persuade me to become a Christian.'”—Acts 26:28

The word almost is an interesting word. It is a word that we sometimes use when we are delaying something. When we are not quite ready to commit. When we are procrastinating. When we can’t make up our minds at a restaurant, we will tell the waitress, “I am almost ready to decide, but not quite yet.”

Today there are a lot of people who see themselves as almost Christian.

Now, let’s be clear: either you are a Christian or you are not a Christian. You may be well on your way to becoming a Christian. You may be looking into the claims of Christ and investigating them. You may be highly interested in Christianity. But either you are or you are not a believer. And I bring this up because in Acts 26 we read of Herod Agrippa. He was so moved by Paul’s powerful and persuasive presentation of the gospel, that he said, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”

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Kids 4 Truth International – God Is Loyal to His People

“O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever.” (Psalm 136:26)

Do you know what it means to be loyal? Stella’s grandpa kept a white pony named Ginger on his farm. Whenever Stella visited Grandpa, she loved to ride Ginger around the pasture. Sometimes Stella would sit on the fence for an hour at a time talking to Ginger. When she would have to leave Ginger and go back home to the city, the pony stayed in her thoughts. Stella often drew pictures of Ginger or wrote about her in stories.

Now the truth is, Ginger was a very stubborn pony, and she was even a little bit mean at times. But if anyone ever said anything bad about her, Stella always stood up for her. She thought of Ginger as her horse. When Grandpa finally had to sell Ginger away to another farm, Stella went out to the empty pasture and found some long white hairs from her tail stuck in the fence. For years afterward, she kept that horsehair in a special little box. Her love for Ginger was loyal.

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The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – The Primary Issue

Today’s Scripture: Hebrews 9:14

“Christ . . . offered himself without blemish to God.”

From different points of view, look at Christ’s work for us: he perfectly obeyed the law of God. He satisfied the justice of God. He exhausted the wrath of God. He removed our sins from the presence of God. He redeemed us from the curse of God. He reconciled us to God.

One thing is readily apparent: every work of Christ is directed toward God. It’s God’s law that was obeyed, his justice that was satisfied, his wrath that was propitiated, his holy presence from which our sins were removed, his curse from which we were redeemed, and alienation from his divine presence that has been reconciled.

This God-ward focus tells us that the integrity of God’s moral government and the upholding of his honor and glory are the primary issues in our salvation. It’s true that God’s love for sinful people such as you and me is the wellspring of our salvation, but this love could be shown only in such a way that the glory of his holiness and the honor of his law would be magnified. Jesus in his sinless life and sin-bearing death did just that. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Continue reading The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – The Primary Issue

The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – The Sacrifice for Our Sins

Today’s Scripture: Isaiah 52-57

Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. – Acts 8:35

Isaiah 53 is one of the clearest Old Testament prophecies of the coming Messiah, depicting Him as the suffering servant who endured the punishment we deserve. Perhaps you can quote verses 5-6 from memory: “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

Years ago, I was holding some evangelistic meetings with college students in Halifax, Nova Scotia. One night after I had shared the gospel and a word of personal testimony with some students in a dorm, a young woman told me how she had recently come to faith in Christ. She was of Jewish descent and had been a vocal opponent of the Christians on her campus. But as she read her Old Testament one day, she came to Isaiah 53. For the first time, she saw what the Christians in her dorm had been trying to tell her. The Messiah had come–and died for her. Through the reading of this passage and through the witness and prayers of Christians on her campus, she gave her life to Christ and became an outspoken witness for Him.

Continue reading The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – The Sacrifice for Our Sins

BreakPoint –  Planned Parenthood under Investigation: Will Truth Get a Fair Hearing?

The most important story of last year, in my view, was the exposure of Planned Parenthood’s trafficking in infant organs. But with the indictment of David Daleiden, the undercover journalist behind the incriminating videos, it seemed as if those responsible for the grisly exposed practices would not face any consequences.

All that may be changing, however. This month, lawmakers took a major step toward holding the abortion giant and its allies accountable. The Select Panel on Infant Lives, chaired by Representative Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, held a hearing on April 20th to review the evidence. And what they uncovered was stomach-turning.

It’s important to know that a 1993 federal statute prohibits the sale of fetal tissue. However, witnesses called during this month’s hearing say abortion providers have ignored that law for decades, encouraging and profiting from a market in human body parts.

Here’s how the process works: Researchers at companies like Stem Express pay procurement technicians to shop around abortion clinics for suitable specimens. They obtain consent from the patients, and inform the clinic staff, who kill the unborn child and harvest its tissue. The technician then packages and transports the body parts to the customer, records invoices, and makes sure the clinic is paid.

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – THE CHURCH MUST HOLD TO THE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS

Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5

What if you saw a church that had an electric chair mounted on its steeple? In his book The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians, D. A. Carson pointed out that “The same sort of shocked horror was associated with cross and crucifixion in the first century. . . . Crucifixion was reserved for slaves, aliens, barbarians. Many thought it was not something to be talked about in polite company. It is this cultural distance from the first century that makes it so hard for us to feel the compelling irony of 1 Corinthians 1:18.”

This instrument of capital punishment is essential to the gospel. The “message of the Cross” thus makes no sense in the eyes of the world. How could an executed criminal be the Son of God? But the wisdom and power of God is not like that of mere human beings. He has a way of overturning expectations and flipping perceptions (1:18–21, 25).

In this epistle’s original context, both Jews and Gentiles would have been offended and confused (1:22–24; see Rom. 9:33). Jews, picturing God as a Divine Warrior (Zeph. 3:17), would have been expecting a Messiah arriving in power to deliver them. Greeks would culturally have been expecting logic, persuasive rhetoric, and related proofs of human wisdom. The gospel matched neither paradigm.

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Denison Forum – TED CRUZ: ‘THE VOTERS CHOSE ANOTHER PATH’

Ted Cruz ended his campaign last night. He noted that Indiana voters “chose another path,” effectively ending his chances of winning the nomination. His withdrawal leaves John Kasich to contest Donald Trump for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. Seventeen candidates began the process; who would have predicted that Mr. Trump would win the nomination and that Mr. Kasich would be his lone opponent at the campaign’s end?

I am writing today to voice three responses: one positive, one negative, and one hopeful.

Let’s begin with the positive: our process still works.

The Constitution requires that a candidate for president be a natural-born citizen who has been a resident of our country for at least fourteen years and is thirty-five years of age or older. It does not require previous political experience.

Mr. Trump is the first major party presidential candidate not to have served in political office since Dwight Eisenhower, a five-star general who led the Allies to victory in World War II. While many view him as unqualified to be president, clearly many Republican primary voters see him as the best candidate to lead our nation. With virtually no party support, he is on his way to achieving a historic victory.

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