Charles Stanley – Grafted Into Christ

John 15:1-8

A vinedresser plants and tends his vines for the purpose of seeing them produce grapes. God, as our vinedresser, encourages us to bear spiritual fruit. He wants us to have a character like that of Christ—marked by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). Our Father wants to ensure that believers will be fruitful; for this reason, they are removed from the dead tree of humanity and grafted onto the living vine, Jesus Christ.

After His baptism, Jesus was “full of the Holy Spirit,” who led Him to the next step (Luke 4:1). Christ’s life and ministry were the result of the Spirit’s empowerment, and when we become believers, God sends the very same Helper to indwell us. In the language of vineyards, the sap from the vine flows into a grafted branch, giving it life and the capacity to grow the kind of fruit typical of that plant. The branch and the vine become one life. The Living Bible translation says, “Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him” (Col. 2:7).

Some people run away from the Christian life because they think they cannot do it. And they’re right: They cannot, but the Holy Spirit can. When we are one with Jesus Christ, the Spirit of God lives His life through us. That doesn’t mean we are free from responsibility—the Spirit can do His work only as we wisely choose to yield to Him. When we are obediently following the Lord, our joy and peace are not dependent upon circumstances; the One in whom we are rooted is our joy and peace.

Bible in One Year: Ezekiel 13-16

Our Daily Bread — Free Indeed

Read: John 8:31-37

Bible in a Year: Psalms 132-134; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34

If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. —John 8:36

Olaudah Equiano (c. 1745-1796) was only 11 years old when he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. He made the harrowing journey from West Africa to the West Indies, then to the colony of Virgina, and then to England. By the age of 20 he purchased his own freedom, still bearing the emotional and physical scars of the inhumane treatment he had experienced.

Unable to enjoy his own freedom while others were still enslaved, Equiano became active in the movement to abolish slavery in England. He wrote his autobiography (an unheard of achievement for a former slave in that era) in which he described the horrific treatment of the enslaved.

When Jesus came, He fought a battle for all of us who are enslaved and unable to fight for ourselves. Our slavery is not one of outward chains. We are held by our own brokenness and sin. Jesus said, “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:34-36).

Wherever such a freedom seems unheard of, His words need to be declared. We can be liberated from our guilt, shame, and hopelessness. By trusting Jesus, we can be free indeed! —Bill Crowder

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for making the sacrifice that has secured my freedom and eternal life. May I learn to love You in a way that honors the love You have shown me.

The price of our freedom from sin was paid by Jesus’s blood.

INSIGHT: Our Lord’s conversation with religious leaders who opposed Him reveals the contrast between man-made legalism and God’s truth. Christ says, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). Human beings were made to have fellowship with God, but our rebellion resulted in our being enslaved by sin. Accepting the truth of God’s Word and yielding to Him breaks this bondage. The religious people who opposed Christ clung to their heritage as descendants of Abraham for their spiritual foundation, but only Christ can free us from our sinful, self-centered preoccupation. Dennis Fisher

John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Seeking God’s Kingdom

“‘. . . All these things shall be added to you’” (Matthew 6:33).

God will provide for those who seek what is eternal.

What did Jesus mean when He said we are to seek God’s kingdom first? It means our top priority in life should be to seek what is eternal. That was the priority for the apostle Paul. In Acts 20 he was ready to leave for Jerusalem to defend the faith, not knowing if he might be put in prison or lose his life. The prospect of persecution did not deter him, for he said, “I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself” (v. 24). He was not concerned about how long he would live or worried about what he would eat or wear. Instead, he wanted to “finish [his] course, and the ministry which [he] received from the Lord Jesus” (v. 24).

Seeking the kingdom means you want Christ’s rule to be manifest in your life as righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17). So, when the lost see those spiritual qualities in your life instead of worry, they know the kingdom of God is there. That is an attractive testimony that the Lord can use to bring the lost to Himself. Seeking God’s kingdom means desiring to extend His kingdom.

Seeking the kingdom also means you long for Jesus to return in His millennial glory. We will be joint-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:1-7), reign with Him forever (Rev. 22:5), live in a new heaven and earth throughout all eternity (21:1), and have all the majesty and riches of eternal Heaven (21:1—22:5). There’s no need to be preoccupied or worried about material things since the whole earth is going to be destroyed and the Lord is going to make a new one.

Instead of seeking riches, “seek . . . His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). Pursue godliness and holiness, and “all these things shall be added to you” (v. 33). God will provide for those who live a righteous life.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • According to Matthew 6:33, are the priorities of your life in the right order?
  • Confess and forsake any sin, and thank the Lord for the privilege of serving Him.

For Further Study

Read Psalm 34:9-10. What is the promise to those who fear and seek the Lord?

Wisdom Hunters – Scripture’s Timeless Truth

Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” Revelation 5:1-2

We are blessed when we seek counsel from the wise, but when we receive direction from Almighty God in His word, we can rest secure. The Bible is the baseline for our beliefs and behavior. It is the first and the final say for faith-based living. A day without scriptural intake for our spirit is like missing three meals for our body. God’s word nourishes our soul, is a trailblazer for truth, and leads us into His very best for our life.

In the right hand of God as He sits enthroned—He holds the scroll of Scripture—His word in general and this Revelation prophesy in particular. The Lord’s precious words are sealed seven times and are kept in safe keeping waiting on the only worthy Lamb of God to open them. The counsel of God will be revealed and the mystery of His love and judgment clarified by Christ. Even today—the Holy Spirit is our guide into all truth, so we may confidently follow Jesus.

“Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.” Isaiah 8:20

You endure as you learn and apply the enduring word of the Lord to your life. Have you encountered a roadblock in parenting? If so, scripture has insight into how to see exactly how to love your child at their point of need. Are you experiencing an unreasonable individual at work or in your family? The Bible gives instructions in how to unselfishly serve those who are full of themselves. Come to Christ and listen to His voice, as He speaks to you through His word.

Continue reading Wisdom Hunters – Scripture’s Timeless Truth

Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – Counting Sheep

I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

Psalm 4:8

Recommended Reading

Psalm 23

Many children fight sleep, begging to stay up just a little longer, while many adults eagerly count the hours until bedtime. When sleep does not come to the tired, the simple advice of counting sheep may keep our minds occupied from worrying, but counting fluffy creatures does not always lead to sleep. Sleep is relaxing, resting, and letting go. We pause our doing and become still. God in His grace has created us to need sleep and it can draw us closer to Him. Our need for sleep, along with our need for food and water, reminds us of our frailty and His strength.

God never sleeps (Psalm 121:4). He is limitless and has no need of sleep. He delights in drawing close to us and giving us more of Himself and His peace. Whether you sleep through the night or struggle to sleep, God is with you. Tonight, when you lay down to sleep, take a moment to prayerfully give your burdens to God, thanking Him for sleep and the tangible reminder that we can let go and trust Him.

They slumber sweetly whom faith rocks to sleep. No pillow so soft as a promise; no coverlet so warm as an assured interest in Christ.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon


Ezekiel 23 – 24

Joyce Meyer – Seek God, Not Gifts

In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night. And God said, Ask what I shall give you. . . . [Solomon said] So give Your servant an understanding mind and a hearing heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and bad.- 1 Kings 3:5,9a

A friend confessed to me one day, “Instead of seeking God’s face, I’ve been guilty of seeking God’s gifts. Too many times I have been more excited about what He does for me than I’ve been about seeking His face and rejoicing in who He is.” She went on to say that she craved the blessings and wonderful things God did in her life. The Lord had used her in praying for the sick and had opened doors for her to minister to people.

We’ve all known ministers of the gospel who were truly blessed and used by God. We also know some of them who had great downfalls. What happened? I don’t know all the details, but I know enough about Satan’s tactics that I can explain the pattern.

God raises up servants—godly people who truly desire to serve Him and help others. They become successful, and perhaps that’s when Satan first attacks them. He reminds them of who they are and how greatly God has used them. (Satan sometimes tells the truth to lead to a lie.) He encourages them to become even more successful or famous—whatever their weaknesses, he plays on those.

If they don’t rebuke the evil voice, they soon push forward and seek greater spiritual gifts. They want to be the best-known healers in the world or the greatest evangelists. Too often, they don’t hear God’s quiet voice or sense His sadness as they push forward.

Continue reading Joyce Meyer – Seek God, Not Gifts

Girlfriends in God – Breaking Free

Today’s Truth

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:1

Friend to Friend

Slavery is one of the prevailing metaphors and predominant themes in the Bible. Joseph was sold into slavery, the Israelites were forced into slavery, and God set His people free from slavery.

Most likely you can’t relate to being a slave, but you probably can relate to the idea of being in bondage in some area of your life.

  • A controlling parent
  • An addictive behavior
  • An out of control emotion
  • A fear of the future
  • A shameful past
  • A need for a man
  • A lustful eye
  • A desire for approval
  • An obsession with a goal
  • A co-dependent relationship
  • A guilty conscience

Each of these conditions can cause you to be tied up in knots and held captive to the point that you’re stuck in a prison of your own making, never realizing that the door has been swung wide open for your release.

Continue reading Girlfriends in God – Breaking Free

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Power Over Nations

“To everyone who overcomes – who to the very end keeps on doing things that please Me – I will give power over the nations. You will rule them with a rod of iron just as My Father gave Me the authority to rule them; they will be shattered like a pot of clay that is broken into tiny pieces. And I will give you the Morning Star!” (Revelation 2:26-28).

I marvel at the numerous promises made to the overcomer, the one “who to the very end keeps on doing things that please Me.” Now we are even promised power over the nations, as we rule and reign with our heavenly Father in that coming day.

As I ponder this verse, I see in a very few words the key to the entire Christian life – the one thing alone that will keep us victorious today, tomorrow, and throughout our lives. Again, it is that significant clause: “who to the very end keeps on doing things that please Me.”

Lest you think that is an over simplification of the victorious Christian life, can you think of anything else God requires of us? And He even provides His Holy Spirit as an indwelling reminder of the daily victory He makes possible. This is the supernatural life. Earlier, we are told of a conquering Christ who will rule the nations of the earth with a rod of iron. This promise tells us that Christ will turn this power over to the conqueror – the overcomer – and his victorious companions in death.

Bible Reading: Psalm 2:1-12

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will trust the Lord to make being an overcomer a reality for me as a way of life – by the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit.

Ray Stedman – Babylon!

Read: Jeremiah 50:1-51:64

This is the word the Lord spoke through Jeremiah the prophet concerning Babylon and the land of the Babylonians: Announce and proclaim among the nations, lift up a banner and proclaim it; keep nothing back, but say, Babylon will be captured; Bel will be put to shame, Marduk filled with terror. Her images will be put to shame and her idols filled with terror. Jeremiah 51:1-2

Chapters 50 and 51, two of the longest in the book, are devoted to the destruction and overthrow of Babylon. Everywhere in Scripture Babylon is a symbol of the great enemy of God, especially as the devil uses false religious authority to claim earthly standing, prestige, and power.

Do you remember where Babylon began? In the tower of Babel, after the Flood. Why did men erect the tower of Babel? They erected a tower to ascend into the heavens and become like God. Under Nimrod it became the mother of harlots and the abominations of the earth. It became the fountainhead of idolatry and began to export these ideas all throughout the world. It was so that they might make a name for themselves (Genesis 11:4). Babylonianism is the attempt to gain some prestige or status in the eyes of the world by religious authority. Every religion in the world seeks that. Whole systems of religion have been seized and these systems seek to gain great authority, to be known as princes and kings and powers in the world today. It all began with the tower of Babel.

Just as Babylon itself was the great destructive power against Judah, so Babylon’s turn must come. Out of the north, the Medes and the Persians would come against Babylon and overthrow this great kingdom. Despite its tremendous walls, its vast palaces, its ornate hanging gardens, its huge size, and its great armies — the greatest power of the world of that day — at the very height of its power God declares that it shall be totally lost.

There are many who say that Babylon must be built again because of the prophecies in the book of Revelation that refer to Babylon. But the reference there is to Mystery Babylon the great, (Revelation 17:5 KJV). So this is not the actual, literal city, but that for which Babylon stands — the idolatrous practices and the blasphemous assumption of power by religious authority. That is what is going to be destroyed, as the book of Revelation says. Yet here in Chapter 51, we are given a description of the destruction of this actual city, which is picked up and used again in Revelation.

Continue reading Ray Stedman – Babylon!

Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Rivers and Trees

Read: Revelation 22:1-5

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (vv. 1-2)

The Bible begins and ends with rivers and trees. Have you noticed? The Bible begins (Genesis 1-2) and ends (Revelation 21-22) with rivers and trees.

Way back in Genesis we were told a tale of two trees. Now in Revelation we find one of those trees smack dab in the center of the renewed and perfected heaven-on-earth. In the middle of this garden-city is the tree of life, with twelve kinds of fruit, food for each month. In God’s good future, there always is something to eat, no one goes hungry, all are fed.

And the leaves of this great tree are for the healing of the nations. No more trees used as weapons to kill or destroy. This tree is for the reconciliation of all peoples. This tree is for the flourishing of life. In this city stands a tree and flows a river so that all things are nourished, so that all things are the way they are supposed to be, so that shalom may be fully realized.


God of restoration and renewal, help us rest in the promise of the resurrection and in the vision of this redeemed city, with its tree of life.

Author: Steven Bouma-Prediger

Greg Laurie – Sins of the Spirit

How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults.—Psalm 19:12

Sin is not always obvious. Some sins are, however, such as murder, adultery, and stealing. But other sins are more subtle, like pride, selfishness, and gossip. Sometimes we will sin in ignorance or presumption. That is why David prayed, “How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. Keep your servant from deliberate sins!” (Psalm 19:12–13).

The Bible talks about sins of the flesh and sins of the spirit. Paul pointed out in 2 Corinthians 7:1, “Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.”

What does it mean to commit a sin of the spirit? It is to knowingly go against what is true. We talk about some sins being worse than others. But it may not be the sins that we think. Jesus said to Pontius Pilate, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above. So the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin” (John 19:11, emphasis added).

Jesus was talking about either Caiaphas or Judas. Caiaphas was the high priest who had a hand in putting Jesus up on false charges and then sent Him to the Romans to do his dirty work and crucify Him. Then there was Judas, who betrayed Him.

Either way it is the same. Judas was one of the handpicked disciples of Christ who betrayed the Lord, and Caiaphas, the high priest, should have known better. The point is, when you have been schooled in the Scriptures like Caiaphas or exposed to the truth and the power of God like Judas, you are without excuse.

Knowledge brings responsibility.

Kids 4 Truth International – The LORD Disciplines His Loved Ones

“My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” (Hebrews 12:5b-7)

Melody was playing an old vinyl record, listening to the story of the Three Little Pigs. She laughed at the part where the older, smarter brother-pig (the one who built his house out of bricks) was punishing his younger, silly brothers for their foolishness. They had made their houses out of straw and sticks, mostly so they would have more time left in the day to goof around. They mocked their brother for working all day.

The voice of the older-brother-pig was a gruff, matter-of-fact voice. Melody decided it was a great voice for that character. If she had not heard the beginning of the story, she would have thought he was being awfully mean to his little brothers. But now that she knew how silly they were, she began to wonder if he might be going too easy on them! He was always having to help them get out of trouble with the Big Bad Wolf!

How foolish the little pigs were! They thought their brother was boring and old-fashioned. They just wanted him to relax and play all day with them. They laughed at their brother for always worrying about danger and the Big Bad Wolf. All they could see was how he worked all day building a house that was safe, and he never wanted them to have any fun. They did not understand that he loved them and did not want the Big Bad Wolf to get them.

Do you take it seriously when God disciplines you? Do you understand what it means when He allows you to get in trouble for sins you wanted to hide? We should all be careful to respond rightly to our heavenly Father’s correction. He corrects us because He loves us.

Continue reading Kids 4 Truth International – The LORD Disciplines His Loved Ones

The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Assuming God’s Role

Today’s Scripture: Matthew 7:1

“Judge not, that you be not judged.”

It’s easy to become judgmental toward anyone whose opinions are different from ours, then to hide our judgmentalism under the cloak of Christian convictions. Paul wrote, “Stop judging one another regardless of which position you take.” Then he added, “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:4). Basically, Paul was saying, “stop trying to play God toward your fellow believers in Christ. God is the Judge, not you.”

That’s what we’re doing when we judge others whose preferences and practices are different from ours. We’re arrogating to ourselves a role God has reserved for himself. Perhaps this is what Jesus had in mind in the well-known words of Matthew 7:3 when he said, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” Could that log in our eye be the log of judgmentalism, arrogating to ourselves the role of God?

Here we see Jesus using hyperbole to make his point. Physically, it’s impossible to have a log in one’s eye. But the log in one’s own eye may well represent God’s verdict on our sin of judgmentalism. If I’m correct, then the seriousness of the sin of judgmentalism is not so much that I judge my brother as that in so doing I assume the role of God.

We sin if we condemn the obviously flagrant sins of others without at the same time acknowledging that we ourselves are still sinners before God. One of the major objectives of this book is to help us stop doing that. (Excerpt taken from Respectable Sins)

The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – First Love

Today’s Scripture: Revelation 1-3

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” – Revelation 3:15-16

I was sitting in the Sunday evening service of an evangelical church in the South. The preacher was delivering a sermon that was known in that part of the country as a stem-winder, or barnburner. His Scripture-filled message was fiery–full of compassion and concern for the lost.

About halfway through, I looked around at the congregation and saw that some were responding to the preacher’s impassioned plea with a hearty yawn. Eyelids were drooping, and some had even drifted off to sleep.

Don’t get me wrong. These were good people. Some had put in years of faithful service for the Lord. Many had shown a zeal for evangelism and a concern for the spiritual growth of new Christians. But somehow they had become spiritually flat. They were comfortable, lethargic, engulfed in spiritual dullness. What happened?

Jesus said in Revelation 2:2-5, “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love… Repent and do the things you did at first.”

Christian, has your devotion to Christ cooled? Has your fervency in serving God been replaced by a sense of duty? If there was a time when your heart burned hotter and brighter than it does today, Jesus says it’s time to repent and go the other way. Ask Him to rekindle the flame and renew the joy and excitement of your first love for Him.


Lord, renew the flame of my first love–for You and for Your kingdom. Amen.

To Ponder

Do you still experience the same excitement, dedication, and hunger for the Word that you did as a new believer?

BreakPoint –  Study: ‘Born This Way’ Science Lacks Evidence

If you blinked sometime around 2010, you probably didn’t recognize the country when you opened your eyes. Once President Obama “evolved” on marriage, and the Supreme Court redefined that institution, the remaining cultural dominoes are falling, and fast.

This year alone, laws were proposed that would force Christian colleges to deny their beliefs, and a federal directive demanded that schools nationwide accommodate transgender students in both restrooms and athletics. And this march is accompanied by the persistent media drumbeat that “the science is settled” on these issues.

But the rhetoric is way ahead of the research. A sweeping new report in the The New Atlantis surveys decades of published data on sexual orientation, gender dysphoria, and the psychology behind them. The results are turning heads. Not only is the science behind LGBT claims far from settled, but these findings call into question foundational assumptions of the new sexual orthodoxy.

Dr. Paul McHugh and Lawrence Mayer, psychiatric experts, argue that “there is a large gap between the certainty with which beliefs about [sexual orientation and gender identity] are held…and what a sober assessment of the science reveals.”

Their report identifies major areas where scientific findings don’t support the triumphal rhetoric of activists. First, the idea that “gay” people are “born that way,” genetically pre-programmed to be attracted to their own sex, lacks evidence.

“Genes,” write the authors, “constitute only one of the many key influences on behavior in addition to environmental influences, personal choices, and interpersonal experiences.” So-called “sexual orientation” is “fluid,” not “fixed” and often changes throughout a person’s life. In fact, some studies found that eighty percent of males who reported homosexual or bisexual feelings as children later identified exclusively as heterosexual.

Their report also tackles the transgender question, comparing actual research to the lofty claims of activists. Once again, there’s a yawning chasm. Only a tiny minority of children who experience gender dysphoria continue to identify as transgender when they’re adults.

Continue reading BreakPoint –  Study: ‘Born This Way’ Science Lacks Evidence

Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – THE TRINITY AND THE BLESSINGS OF SALVATION

Read EPHESIANS 1:3–14

A recent study found that the five happiest cities in America are all in one state: Louisiana! The researchers explored well-being and life satisfaction data from many sources. The five happiest cities emerged as Lafayette, Houma, Shreveport, Baton Rouge, and Alexandria, Louisiana.

Today’s reading, which is all one sentence in Greek, perfectly captures the genuine happiness and joy of redemption. The Father is the giver of this greatest of all blessings. He possesses all wisdom and under- standing (v. 8), and in it He sovereignly chose us (vv. 4–5). At just the right time, He revealed His will and lavished on us the riches of His grace (vv. 6–10). His plan for history is moving irresistibly forward (v. 11).

The Son is the means of salvation. The blessings the Father gives are “in Christ” (v. 3). He has chosen us “in him” (vv. 4, 11). Our adoption and inclusion in God’s family are “through Jesus Christ” (vv. 5, 13). God’s grace is “in the One he loves” (v. 6). Our forgiveness is “in him” and “through his blood” (v. 7). God’s will is “purposed in Christ” and His plan is to put everything “under Christ” (vv. 9–10; Phil. 2:9–11). Our hope is truly “in Christ” alone (v. 12).

The Spirit is the “seal” of our salvation, God’s mark of ownership (vv. 13–14). He is also “a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance,” a down payment on the fullness of salvation. If God can refer to Himself as a “deposit,” how inexpressibly glorious the complete reality will be! Let’s close our study this month with a Trinitarian benediction: “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Cor. 13:14). Amen!


As you think about this study of the Trinity, what has God taught you about Himself? Prayerfully ask the Lord to reveal which truth He would like to apply in your life. You may find it helpful to write down your thoughts in a spiritual journal or discuss them with a close friend. May God richly bless your attentive consideration of His Word!


This morning’s ABC News headline caught my eye: “Dog Swims Over 6 Miles to Reunite With Family After Falling Off Boat in Lake Michigan.” The ten-month-old puppy fell overboard, swam to shore, then walked over twelve miles to a campground where she was reunited with her family the next day.

Now consider another story of resilience. Humans have long aspired to go to Mars, but six months of travel and life in claustrophobic conditions make the psychological part of the expedition as daunting as the physical. ICE environments (isolated, confined, and extreme) have long challenged explorers.

That’s why six astronauts spent twelve months in isolation on a simulated Martian plain. The three-woman, three-man crew lived in a dome-shaped habitat on a lava plain on the flank of Mauna Loa in Hawaii. They worked in conditions as close to Martian as science could make them. And they proved that humans are often as resilient as we need to be.

To many Christians, our culture feels more Martian by the day. As a recent article noted, “Many conservative Christians just don’t feel welcome in their own country. They say they are either mocked or erased in popular culture.” One pastor asked, “When was the last time you saw an evangelical or conservative Christian character portrayed positively on TV?”

But God promises, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). Scripture enjoins us: “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

Rather than viewing negative cultural shifts as cause for retreat, let’s use them to strengthen our commitment to serving Jesus. In this context, consider David Brooks’s latest column in The New York Times. In his view, personal strength is a product of personal significance.

Continue reading Denison Forum – TWO AMAZING STORIES OF RESILIENCE    

Charles Stanley – Experiencing God’s Love

Ephesians 3:17-19

In today’s passage, Paul prays that the Ephesians will grasp the depth of Christ’s love. Though divine care is beyond human comprehension, the apostle says God will give spiritual understanding so we can experience Him more fully. But there are four things that keep us from getting a handle on His love and resting in it.

  1. We think God’s acceptance is imperfect and conditional like ours. Yet the Bible tells us that His compassion comes from His character and is not dependent upon our morality, choices, or thoughts. (See Rom. 5:8.)
  2. When we recognize our sin, we often experience guilt. Sometimes this leads to feeling unworthy of the Father’s ultimate love. Instead, let a guilty conscience lead you back to God so that you can repent. Realize that His love and forgiveness are greater than any sin. He promises that there is no condemnation for His followers (Rom. 8:1).
  3. There are some teachers who encourage legalism. This traps a person into feeling he or she must earn God’s favor. It also contradicts the divine truth that our Father loves His children without condition.
  4. Some of us have a difficult time reconciling God’s love with His discipline. These can exist together, however. His correction flows from compassion, just as loving parents must redirect their children.

Recognizing God’s love will bring peace and joy to your life. At the same time, it doesn’t give license to sin. Like any caring father, the Lord will use discipline to bring you back to Him. Instead, why not let His love motivate you to walk in a holy and obedient manner before Him?

Bible in One Year: Ezekiel 10-12

Our Daily Bread — Gentle Influence

Read: Colossians 3:12–17 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 129–131; 1 Corinthians 11:1–16

Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12

A few years before he became the 26th U.S. president (1901–1909), Theodore Roosevelt got word that his oldest son, Theodore Jr., was ill. While his son would recover, the cause of Ted’s illness hit Roosevelt hard. Doctors told him that he was the cause of his son’s illness. Ted was suffering from “nervous exhaustion,” having been pressed unmercifully by Theodore to become the “fighter” hero-type he himself had not been during his own frail childhood. Upon hearing this, the elder Roosevelt made a promise to relent: “Hereafter I shall never press Ted either in body or mind.”

The father was true to his word. From then on he paid close attention to how he treated his son—the very same son who would one day bravely lead the landing of Allied soldiers on Utah Beach in World War II.

Since Jesus came in humility, how can we withhold kindness from one another?

God has entrusted each of us with influence in the lives of others. We have a deep responsibility in those relationships, not only to spouses and children, but to friends, employees, and customers. The temptation to press too hard, to demand too much, to force progress, or to orchestrate success can lead us to harm others even when we don’t realize it. For this very reason, followers of Christ are urged to be patient and gentle with one another (Col. 3:12). Since Jesus, the Son of God, came in humility, how can we withhold such kindness from one another?

What kind of expectations do you have of the people in your life—at home and at work? Think about the influence you might have on others. How can you reflect more of the character of Jesus?

What God does for us we should do for others.


Most scholars believe the apostle Paul wrote Colossians from a Roman prison cell around ad 60, about the same time he wrote Ephesians, Philippians, and Philemon. Paul seems to have had two primary purposes for writing this letter to the church at Colossae. First, he wanted the Colossian believers to know that Christ is superior to all human accomplishments, philosophies, and angelic beings. Second, he longed for these dear saints to experience freedom from the moralistic regulations and religious systems that enslaved them.

By Randy Kilgore

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – ‘Roughing It’

Many years ago, my brother and I went on a backpacking trip in Washington State. My brother had done many such trips, but this would be my first. I was living in Tennessee at the time and had joined a hiking club that made frequent excursions into the Smoky Mountains. I ‘practiced’ for my backpacking trip by carrying a school backpack filled with water and snacks. I believed I was ready for the more arduous hiking in the North Cascades. But I could not begin to be ready for the 30-pound pack and the relentless switchbacks climbing a thousand feet or more up the backcountry peaks.

There was always something about camping and backpacking that appealed to me. I relished the thought of ‘roughing it’ for a time—forsaking the comforts of my normal life for the extreme deprivation of having to take only what was necessary into the wilderness. Perhaps I saw this kind of activity as a way to expand my own resilience by taking on the additional physical challenge of climbing a spectacular peak with a huge backpack on my back. In reality, the challenge of just getting my tent set up was enough to throw me into fits of whining and complaining. The thin mat I would sleep on barely hid the sharp rocks beneath me, and the constant insect threats revealed that my resilience was almost non-existent. I imagined the comforts of civilization—instant access to a shower, fresh water, and food—as we used a water filter to replenish our water supply from a local stream, ate just what was necessary to sustain us for a few days, and continued our trek without a change of clothes or a shower. If camping and backpacking taught me nothing else, it certainly taught me how much I take for granted in my life, and how easily I wanted to give up at the slightest inconvenience.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – ‘Roughing It’