Charles Stanley – The Reality of God’s Love

2 Corinthians 11:23-37

Does anything prevent you from feeling confident that God loves you? Perhaps you are convinced some sin from your past blocks His love. In that case, think about Paul. He violently persecuted Christians before he himself finally turned to the Lord. If such a man knew God loved him, would that help you realize you, too, are loved?

Whatever your experiences are, Paul probably encountered something you can relate to. Yet he kept spreading his message of hope: God loves us and sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins.

Maybe you wonder how a God of love could allow you to be hurt or abused. Or possibly you feel alone and unlovable. Paul endured beatings and imprisonment for preaching the gospel, his friends abandoned him, and he was even shipwrecked. But if Paul was able to have faith that God loved him, won’t you believe that God loves you as well?

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Our Daily Bread – No Worries

Read: Mark 4:35–5:1 | Bible in a Year: 1 Chronicles 22–24; John 8:28-59

Let us go over to the other side. Mark 4:35

A comfortable plane ride was about to get bumpy. The voice of the captain interrupted in-flight beverage service and asked passengers to make sure their seatbelts were fastened. Soon the plane began to roll and pitch like a ship on a wind-whipped ocean. While the rest of the passengers were doing their best to deal with the turbulence, a little girl sat through it all reading her book. After the plane landed, she was asked why she had been able to be so calm. She responded, “My daddy is the pilot and he’s taking me home.”

Though Jesus’ disciples were seasoned fishermen, they were terrified the day a storm threatened to swamp their boat. They were following Jesus’ instructions. Why was this happening? (Mark 4:35-38). He was with them but He was asleep at the stern of the craft. They learned that day that it is not true that when we do as our Lord says there will be no storms in our lives. Yet because He was with them, they also learned that storms don’t stop us from getting to where our Lord wants us to go (5:1).

Storms don’t stop us from getting to where our Lord wants us to go.

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Efficiency and Endurance

When it comes to exercise many of us ask: “How long will it take, or how much do I have to do?” The shorter the duration the better, we hope. Scientists at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario have researched the benefits of shorter-duration, high-intensity workouts. They found that the aerobic benefits were just as high as those who had worked out for much longer periods of time.(1) As one professor noted, “If you are someone, like me, who just wants to boost health and fitness and you don’t have 45 minutes or an hour to work out, our data show that you can get big benefits from even a single minute of intense exercise.”(2) This is good news for all who feel there are not enough hours in a day.

Yet, as good as this news may be for some, I am increasingly nervous about all the schemes and strategies to make one’s life more efficient. From the One Minute Manager to the One Minute Workout the short-cutting of our lives appears endemic. If one needs a quicker, faster, shorter version, there is an app for that. But I worry about what happens to our aptitude for endurance in the elevation of the efficient?

By contrast, author Malcolm Gladwell argued in his book Outliers that ten thousand hours of deliberate practice are needed before one can become good at some things. He cites Mozart, Bill Gates and the Beatles as examples of brilliant artists and inventors whose patient practice and discipline began at an early age. (3) In fact, many artists suggest that their creative expression is something that must be practiced—exercised, as it were, just like any muscle. Significant achievement—in any area—is realized when bounded by discipline, and a tireless commitment to practice, routine, and structure. The painter, Wayne Thiebaud, once said that “an artist has to train his responses more than other people do. He has to be as disciplined as a mathematician. Discipline is not a restriction but an aid to freedom.”(4) Sadly, Thiebaud’s and Gladwell’s views are often the minority report in our hurried age.

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John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Stephen: Godliness in Suffering

“But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55).

Because Stephen was so consistently Spirit-filled, it was natural for him to react in a godly way to persecution and death.

The cliché “Garbage in, garbage out” provides a good clue to the essence of the Spirit-filled Christian life. Just as computers respond according to their programming, we respond to what fills our minds. If we allow the Holy Spirit to program our thought patterns, we’ll be controlled and renewed by Him and live godly lives. And that’s exactly how Stephen consistently and daily lived his life.

The expression “being full” is from a Greek verb (pleroo) that literally means “being kept full.” Stephen was continuously filled with the Holy Spirit during his entire Christian life. This previewed Paul’s directive in Ephesians 5:18, “but be filled with the Spirit.” These words don’t mean believers are to have some strange mystical experience, but simply that their lives ought to be fully controlled by God’s Spirit.

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Wisdom Hunters – Is It Time to Let Go?

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

The writer of Ecclesiastes follows the verse above with a list of seasons, or “times,” such as birth and death, weeping and laughing, and mourning and dancing. He even includes “a time to plant and a time to pluck what is planted.”

I don’t know about you, but I usually don’t enjoy plucking up anything that was planted by either me or God. First of all, it takes time, and second, it can be painful to pluck. You know what I mean. You have a relationship or friendship God is asking you to relinquish. Sure, He planted it in a past season of your life, and it served its purpose. But now He is asking you to uproot it because He wants to do something different. Or perhaps God is saying about your job, “Let it go. I want to uproot it. I’ve got a new assignment for you.” Oh, but we’re so slow to let go because it can be painful, inconvenient, and sometimes just plain hard work! But what do we forfeit if we insist on holding on to the old things that either we or God planted in old seasons?

“Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it” (Luke 11:28 NASB).

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Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – A Legacy for the Lord

Did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring.

Malachi 2:15

Recommended Reading

Malachi 2:10-16

Jane, 18, a widow with two small children, descended into deep depression. One day while walking along a river with thoughts of suicide, she heard a ploughman on the other bank. As he began his work in the fields, he whistled Christian hymns and something about his spirit touched Jane. If a simple ploughman could display such enthusiasm for the mundane work of his life, why couldn’t she? Armed with a new perspective, Jane returned to Dublin where she answered the call to follow Christ. She began praying earnestly for her children and for the next twelve generations who would follow her.

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Joyce Meyer – Spiritual Praying

Then what am I to do? I will pray with my spirit [by the Holy Spirit that is within me], but I will also pray [intelligently] with my mind and understanding; I will sing with my spirit [by the Holy Spirit that is within me], but I will sing [intelligently] with my mind and understanding also. — 1 Corinthians 14:15

Earlier I referred to “the mind aiding the spirit.” For many people, this is a difficult concept to grasp. I understand what Paul meant because it’s something I’ve learned to use in my own spiritual growth.

For example, one morning I set aside my usual time for prayer. I began to pray, but my prayers felt flat—nothing energized them—and there was no help from my spirit. As I struggled, I reminded myself that I had made myself available to God, and I wanted the Spirit to use me to change lives.

I continued to pray but nothing changed. This had happened before, so I wasn’t discouraged. I kept on praying and telling God the things about which I was concerned. After several minutes, a powerful energy took hold of me. I knew I had touched the area where the Holy Spirit wanted me to pray. This became more than my concern—this was God’s concern.

I began by praying out of my mind—about things that I knew of and thought needed prayer. I was praying in English because that is my normal language, and I understood what I was saying. But when the energizing power of the Spirit came, without any conscious thought, I began to pray with my prayer language, or what many of us refer to as an unknown tongue.

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Girlfriends in God – A Truth That Will Change Your Life

Nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:39

Friend to Friend

One blessing of being in women’s ministry is the friendships I have with other women in ministry. We are our own little band of sisters. Sisters with a mission! We cheer for one another, cry with one another, laugh with one another, pray for one another, and rejoice with one another.

One sister I’ve had the opportunity to lock arms with for the journey is named Renee. Renee works for an international women’s ministry and is a talented God-fearing, Bible-teaching speaker and writer.

Several years ago, Renee traveled across the country to speak at a women’s retreat. When she got there, a few unexpected circumstances caused her to send out an “SOS, pray-for-me-now” email to her ministry sisters.

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Long, Satisfying Life

“If you want a long and satisfying life, closely follow my instructions” (Proverbs 3:2).

A famous children’s specialist declared, “When it comes to a serious illness, the child who has been taught to obey has four times the chance of recovery that the spoiled and undisciplined child has.”

Every parent should consider well the implications of that statement. We have all been taught that one of the Ten Commandments was for children to obey their parents.

But it is doubtful that many of us have ever considered that obedience might mean the difference between the saving or losing of a child’s life.

The hymnwriter who said that we should “trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus” well knew what he was saying. A “long and satisfying life” certainly would be synonymous with a “happy life.”

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Ray Stedman – Learning Meekness

Read: Acts 9:9-31

After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him, but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall. Acts 9:23-25

What humiliation! Here Paul was, equipped to win the day for Jesus Christ. He was going to show the world how much he could do for this new Master that he had found. But instead he finds himself humiliated, cast off, rejected, repudiated. His own friends finally have to take him at night and let him down over a wall. He walks away into the darkness in utter, abject failure and defeat.

The amazing thing is that many years later, as he is writing to the Corinthians and looking back over his life, he recounts this episode. He says, You ask me to boast about the most important event in my life? The greatest event in my life was when they took me at night and let me down over the wall of Damascus in a basket. That was the most meaningful experience I have ever had since that day when I met Christ… (2 Corinthians 11:32-33).

Is that not amazing? Why would this be so? Because then and there the apostle began to learn the truths which he records for us in the third chapter of Philippians, where he says, Whatever gain I had, I learned to count as loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus… (Philippians 3:7-8 RSV). That is, All the things that I felt were so necessary to do what God wanted I had to learn were absolutely useless, worthless. I did not need them at all. Everything that I thought I had and needed to serve him I had to learn I didn’t need at all. The beginning of that great lesson was the night they let me down over the wall in a basket. There I began to learn something. It took me a long time to catch on. But there I began to learn that God didn’t need my abilities; he needed only my availability. He just needed me, as a person. He didn’t need my background, he didn’t need my ancestry. He didn’t need my knowledge of Hebrew. He didn’t need my knowledge of the Law. He didn’t need these at all. In fact, he didn’t have any particular intention of using them to reach the Jews, he was going to send me to the Gentiles. And though he did not understand it fully then, he began to assume the yoke of Christ and to learn that which Jesus Christ says every one of us must learn if we are going to be useful to him.

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Presidential Prayer Team; J.R.- Flight of Folly

What comes to mind when you hear the term “repo man?” A burly, tattooed guy in his tow truck, scouring a neighborhood for a car whose owner is past due on his payments? These days, a “repo man” is more likely to be at a coffee shop with a smartphone. Some lenders are now installing “starter interrupt devices” on vehicles. Miss a payment, and they will disable your ignition remotely using GPS. You won’t be going anywhere. They used to say, “You can run but you can’t hide.” Nowadays, you can’t run, either.

But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

Jonah 1:3

Jonah foolishly thought he could run from the presence of the Lord. Although the task God had assigned to him was difficult and dangerous, it was ultimately intended to bless Jonah. But stubbornly, he ran…until God brought his diversionary adventure to a quick end.

The Lord may allow you to run for a short season, but in His time He will draw you back. His ultimate purpose in doing so is not punishment, but to lead you “in the way everlasting” David described in Psalm 139. Today, pray that America’s citizens and leaders might turn to, not away from, the Lord’s presence.

Recommended Reading: Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24

Greg Laurie – God’s Definition of Prosperity

So I am eager to come to you in Rome, too, to preach the Good News.—Romans 1:15

Prosperity is a very popular word today. Some preachers talk a lot about prosperity, and sometimes we refer to this as the prosperity gospel. This is basically the idea that God wants everyone to be in perfect health all the time, that sickness is always outside the will of God, and if you are sick, then you should just claim health, and you will be better. It is also the idea that God wants you to be very wealthy. But this is not what the Bible teaches.

Now, the Bible isn’t saying that we should all live in abject poverty and have nothing. But the Bible is saying that God’s definition of prosperity may be different than our definition of it. Prosperity doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is going easy and well. Prosperity means that you are in the will of God.

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Kids 4 Truth International – God Is Quick To Forgive

“Then David said unto Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.’ And Nathan said unto David, ‘The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.'” (2 Samuel 12:13)

Have you ever been really angry with someone, and then been forced to tell that person right away that you will forgive him or her? Maybe your brother left your favorite toy out in the rain overnight and ruined it, or maybe your sister borrowed your favorite sweater without asking and spilled spaghetti all over it. Then–as mothers tend to do–your mother insists that your sibling should apologize, and that you must forgive as soon as an apology is offered. Has that ever happened to you? If so, you know how hard it can be to be able to get over something and forgive someone right away.

No one has ever hurt you more than you hurt God every time you sin. Whether by speaking unkindly to someone, lying to your parents, or even just daydreaming about doing some sin that you might not really ever do, you are sinning against the God of all heaven and earth. And just as it would be a much greater evil to call your mother “stupid,” than it would be to call your cat “stupid,” any sin you do against the God of heaven is far more evil than anything that anyone else has ever done against you.

Yet God is quick to forgive , and He does not have to have anyone tell Him to do it. David, one of the godliest men who ever lived, committed a dreadful sin when he took Bathsheba, another man’s wife, for himself and had her husband murdered. When confronting David about his sin, the prophet Nathan told him a story about a poor man who had one little sheep and made that sheep his pet and best friend. Nathan said that poor man loved his sheep so much that he would let her come to the table with him and would feed her from his own plate. He would also let his little sheep sleep in his bed at night. Nathan said the poor man treated his little sheep as though she were his own daughter. But one day a rich man needed to prepare a great feast for a visitor. Rather than slaughtering one of the many sheep he had in his own flock, he took the poor man’s beloved pet sheep and slaughtered her for the meal.

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The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Freedom or Chaos?

Today’s Scripture: Psalm 19:8

“The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.”

My son visited a country in which automobile drivers are undisciplined and “free spirited.” He saw cars stopped at a railroad crossing for a passing train. Instead of lining up behind one another to cross in their proper turn, several cars lined up across the entire road. Each driver wanted to be first to cross when the crossing guard was raised. But when the train had passed, cars were also lined up completely across the road on the other side of the tracks. “Freedom” quickly turned to chaos!

That kind of thing happens in a much more serious way when we insist on unqualified freedom from God’s law. We have indeed been set free from the bondage and curse that results from breaking the law. And we’ve been called to freedom from works as a means of obtaining any merit with God. But we haven’t been called to freedom from the law as an expression of God’s will for our daily living.

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The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Doing the Impossible

Today’s Scripture: Nehemiah 1-2

The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. – Psalm 147:11

God has a way of unexpectedly breaking into our lives. Sometimes it comes as a new revelation of Himself. Or it may come as something He wants us to do.

Such was the case with Nehemiah. Everything in his life was just fine until the day he asked one of his fellow Jews how things were going in Jerusalem. That’s when God set him on an entirely new course and led him to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem.

When I became a Christian, I got hooked up with The Navigators to learn the basics of the Christian life. One summer at The Navigators’ conference center in Colorado, I had a job buffing and waxing the floors. One day the conference director asked me to preach the next morning on the subject of the quiet time.

Continue reading The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Doing the Impossible

BreakPoint –  What Should Christians Do about the Media’s Liberal Bias?

When liberal journalists come out and confess their bias, it’s tempting to say, “The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.” But don’t. This is good news.

Writing at the New York Times recently, columnist Nicholas Kristof took that hard first step. The title of his piece says it all: “A Confession of Liberal Intolerance.”

“We progressives,” he writes, “believe in diversity, and we want women, blacks, Latinos, gays and Muslims at the table, so long as they aren’t conservatives.” (Or, one might reasonably add, evangelical Christians).

Kristof and fellow liberals profess a love for tolerance and diversity. But when it comes to the most important kind—diversity of thought—he admits that the gatekeepers in academia and the media actively stigmatize those who hold views different from their own.

“We’re fine with people who don’t look like us,” he writes, “as long as they think like us.”

Universities, once recognized as bastions of tolerance and diversity, bear perhaps the greatest blame. Kristof cites studies showing that just 6 to 11 percent of humanities professors are conservatives. Fewer than one in ten social-studies professors call themselves conservative. For perspective, consider that twice that number identify as Marxists!

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – THE IMPERATIVE OF LOVE

Read 1 Corinthians 13

What would you expect to pay for a scoop of gourmet ice cream? How about $816? The Scoopi Café in Dubai offers the “Black Diamond,” which is ice cream flavored with Madagascar vanilla, Iranian saffron, black Italian truffles, and edible, 23-karat gold sprinkles. This treat comes with a Versace bowl and spoon that the customer keeps. It’s the most expensive ice cream in the world!

The most, the best, the highest—we find superlatives fascinating. When Paul wrote that he would describe “the most excellent way” (12:31), our ears perk up. This chapter is an encomium, that is, a poem written to praise an abstract idea or quality. Paul used poetic techniques such as hyperbole and metaphor to make his points more vividly.

First, he described the worth of love (vv. 1–3). Its value is incalculable, to the point where anything else, lacking love, is worthless or empty. He used examples that we might (and the Corinthians did) think of as spiritually impressive, which made his conclusion that much more shocking. Second, Paul defined or explained love (vv. 4–7). The Greek word is agape, meaning love that is selfless, self-sacrificing, warm, and full of good will and brotherly affection. It prioritizes the well being of others. This list should take our breath away! Who among us can claim to live like this? Only by the power of the Spirit can we grow in this direction.

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The Baylor University Board of Regents reportedly fired school president and chancellor Ken Starr today. The university is refusing to comment on these reports, though a variety of sources have confirmed the president’s dismissal.

Baylor has been accused during Starr’s tenure of failing to respond to rapes or sexual assaults reported by at least six female students. At least eight former Baylor football players have been accused of violence against women. Two of the players were convicted of raping Baylor co-eds. Critics allege that President Starr’s response to the victims has been muted and legalistic.

Baylor is the world’s largest Baptist university and the oldest continuously operating university in Texas. The school has committed $5 million to efforts to change how it responds to reports of sexual assault. Baylor also hired the Pepper Hamilton law firm to investigate the scandal; regents received the firm’s report on May 13.

Sources indicate that head coach Art Briles and athletic director Ian McCaw will continue at the university barring evidence that they were engaged in a cover-up. Apparently the regents concluded that the president should be held responsible for the scandal.