Charles Stanley – The Unconditional Love of God

1 John 4:7-10

One of the biggest struggles many people face is a feeling that the Lord couldn’t possibly love them. Yet, today’s reading clearly tells us He does. Far from just saying so with words, God has also given us ample proof. Creation itself is an expression of the awesome way He cares for us. He designed this earth as the perfect habitation for humanity and provides us with the necessities of life. But the highest expression of His love is manifested in His provision for our eternal needs. He sent His Son to redeem us from sin so that we could be forgiven and reconciled to God—and then live with Him in heaven forever.

Why, then, with all this evidence, do so many of us still doubt His love? Perhaps the reason is that we are looking at it from our own limited perspective: Since human beings cannot love others unconditionally, we doubt that the Lord can. After all, worldly logic considers it reasonable to be loving towards people who measure up to our standards but to hold ourselves aloof from those who don’t.

Or maybe we just feel unworthy of His love. Well, I have news for you: No one is worthy. God’s love is based not on whether we are deserving but on His character—we need to understand that love isn’t simply something God does; it’s who He is (1 John 4:8).

Divine love is a demonstration of God’s commitment to our greatest good. It’s like the ocean’s tide. You can stand on the shore and say, “I don’t believe in waves,” but that doesn’t stop them from coming. Likewise, nothing you do or feel will stop the Father’s love from washing over you.

Bible in One Year: Ezekiel 17-19

 

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Our Daily Bread — “Because You Prayed”

Read: Isaiah 37:9-22, 33

Bible in a Year: Psalms 135-136; 1 Corinthians 12

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.—Philippians 4:6

What do you do with your worries? Do you turn them inward, or turn them upward?

When the brutal Assyrian King Sennacherib was preparing to destroy Jerusalem, he sent a message to King Hezekiah saying that Judah would be no different from all the other nations he had conquered. Hezekiah took this message to the temple in Jerusalem, and “spread it out before the Lord” (Isa. 37:14). He then prayed and asked for help from Almighty God.

Soon afterward Isaiah the prophet delivered this message to Hezekiah from the Lord: “Because you prayed about King Sennacherib of Assyria, the Lord has spoken” (Isa. 37:21-22 nlt). Scripture tells us that Hezekiah’s prayer was answered that very night. God intervened miraculously, conquering the enemy forces outside the city gates. The Assyrian army didn’t even “shoot an arrow” (v. 33). Sennacherib would leave Jerusalem, never to return.

Three words in God’s message to Hezekiah—“Because you prayed”—show us the best place to go with our worries. Because Hezekiah turned to God, He rescued him and his people. When we turn our worries into prayer, we discover that God is faithful in unexpected ways! —James Banks

Father, please help me to turn my worries into prayer. My problems are better in Your hands than in my own.

Prayer moves the hand that moves the world.  E.M. Bounds

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Explaining Emotion

In Daniel Goleman’s excellent book Emotional Intelligence he writes about the last moments of Gary and Mary Jean Chauncey battling the swirling waters of the river into which the Amtrak train they were on had plummeted. With every bit of energy they had, both fought desperately to save the life of their young daughter Andrea, who had cerebral palsy and was bound to a wheelchair. Somehow they managed to push her out into the arms of rescuers, but sadly, they themselves drowned.

Some would like to explain such heroism as evolution’s imprint, that we humans behave this way by virtue of evolutionary design for the survival of our progeny. One is hard-pressed not to ask, “Why did the healthier preserve the weaker and not themselves?” But even the author was unable to explain it all in mere Darwinistic terms. He added that “only love” could explain such an act.

In another story, you may recall the chess victory of the computer “Deep Blue” over the world champion Gary Kasparov, which caused many to compare the similarities of machines and humans. Yale professor David Gelertner disagreed. He explained:

“The idea that Deep Blue has a mind is absurd. How can an object that wants nothing, fears nothing, enjoys nothing, needs nothing, and cares about nothing have a mind? It can win at chess, but not because it wants to. It isn’t happy when it wins or sad when it loses. What are its [post]-match plans if it beats Kasparov? Is it hoping to take Deep Pink out for a night on the town?”

Gelertner continues: “The gap between the human and the surrogate is permanent and will never be closed. Machines will continue to make life easier, healthier, richer, and more puzzling. And humans will continue to care, ultimately, about the same things they always have: about themselves, about one another, and many of them, about God.”(1)

Is this not a unique capacity God has put within us? The capacity to feel? From the selfless sacrifice of loving parents to our own personal thought lives, we recognize that this ability is one aspect of the insurmountable differences between humans and machines. In the words of the biblical writer, it is we—and not our computers I might add—who have been made “a little lower than the angels.” Life, feeling, and thought are God’s gifts to us. And where we follow God’s thoughts, we feel and act in highest measure.

Ravi Zacharias is founder and chairman of the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

(1) David Gelertner, “How Hard Is Chess?” Time Magazine, 19 May 1997.

 

http://www.rzim.org/

John MacArthur – Strength for Today – What About the Holy Spirit?

“The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And we know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit which He has given us” (1 John 3:24).

Because the Holy Spirit affects every area of the Christian life, it is vital that we have a balanced and correct view of His role.

The church’s understanding of the Spirit’s Person and ministry has been seriously distorted over the past few decades. Charismatics have given an undue emphasis to certain pentecostal gifts so that subjective experience is often elevated over objective scriptural truth.

At the same time, many non-charismatics have overreacted to charismatic excesses by almost ignoring the Holy Spirit. For most, an in-depth study of the Spirit does not fit with the pragmatic, psychological approach to solving spiritual problems.

But we can’t afford to go to either extreme; otherwise we’ll miss out on what it really means to know the Spirit and to minister by His power. He is indispensable in saving us, enabling us to obey Jesus Christ, and ultimately perfecting us in glory. Paul urged the Galatian believers not to abandon the Holy Spirit but to lean completely on Him. “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:3).

Continue reading John MacArthur – Strength for Today – What About the Holy Spirit?

Wisdom Hunters – Upside Down Love 

When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw Jesus eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:16-17

Whenever I read the Gospel accounts of Jesus’s life, I’m consistently struck by his ability to turn assumptions and value systems upside down. When we encounter Jesus, we learn that the things we thought were important and mattered most in this world are in fact so often out of step with his will and his coming Kingdom.

In the ancient world in which Jesus lived, the Pharisees were the religious faithful. As we would say today, they were “in church every Sunday.” They were the people who dedicated their entire lives to the pursuit of God and living by the law He gave to his people. Yet in their vigor and zeal they missed something profound: one can live entirely by the law of religion and miss the work of God in their midst and his invitation into radical, self-giving love.

We often speak of discipleship as a journey into Christ’s likeness. Yet, if we are honest, there are parts of Jesus’s life that make us incredibly uncomfortable. He spent most of his life in the parts of town that we seek to avoid. He hired co-workers in ministry that worked blue collar or socially unacceptable jobs. His closest friends were people who had been cast to the margins, men and women who were viewed as unlovable and unproductive members of society.

I can’t help but wonder if we are more like the Pharisees than we care to admit?

Do we cling to a system that says one’s worth and value in this world is dependent on how well they keep God’s rules or by how successful they are by economic and cultural standards?  Though we might not say it, do we assume that God’s love and favor only rests upon those who “have it all together?”

Continue reading Wisdom Hunters – Upside Down Love 

Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – Full Circle

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32

Recommended Reading

Jonah 4

When God calls, our first instinct is to run in the opposite direction. Instead of seeing His invitations and commands as opportunities, we trust our own judgment and allow our fear of what will happen to dictate our actions instead of our trust in God. We forget God’s goodness.

Jonah is the perfect example: Instead of obediently traveling to Nineveh, he fled in the opposite direction. When Jonah was swallowed by a fish, he deserved to die for his disobedience. Instead, God heard his cry for deliverance and gave him a second chance. Instead of celebrating God’s compassion and forgiveness, Jonah clung to his judgment of the Ninevites. He ignored the truth that no one deserves God’s forgiveness. It is a gift.

Instead of preaching with joy, Jonah was unwilling to let go of his resentment. His lack of forgiveness revealed a heart untouched by the forgiveness he was given. When we cling to grudges, resentment, and bitterness, there is no room for God’s forgiveness to flourish in our lives and to flow out from us into the world. God’s Word is clear: we are to forgive as we have been forgiven. Is there anything you need to release and trust God with today?

God gives where He finds empty hands.

Augustine

Read-Thru-the-Bible

Ezekiel 25 – 27

 

http://www.davidjeremiah.org/

Joyce Meyer – Laying Down Your Life

Anyone who loves his life loses it, but anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. [Whoever has no love for, no concern for, no regard for his life here on earth, but despises it, preserves his life forever and ever.]- John 12:25

When we believe God is asking us to do something, we often begin with the questions: What am I going to have to give up if I do this? If I do this, what will it cost me? If I do this, how uncomfortable am I going to be?

The truth is that anything we do for God requires an investment. Part of loving Him involves a willingness to lay our lives down for Him. If God has been asking you to do something and you have been procrastinating because you know it will require sacrifice on your part, I urge you to go ahead and do it. Nothing feels better than knowing you have fully obeyed the Lord.

Do not be afraid of sacrifice when God calls you or puts something in your heart that He wants you to do. His plan for your life is greater than anything you can imagine. Be thankful that His plan is best and determine that you will pay the price and pass the test. I assure you, it is worth it.

Prayer of Thanks: I thank You today, Father, that no sacrifice I make for You will ever be without great benefit for my life. Fill me with the faith and strength to do all that You call me to do. I choose to obey Your voice in every single area of my life.

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

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Girlfriends in God – Under the Protection of The Most High

Today’s Truth

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’ Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart … If you make the Most High your dwelling—even the Lord, who is my refuge—then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.

Psalm 91:1-4, 9-10

Friend to Friend

Corrie Ten Boom tells the true story of young Englishman who was held prisoner in a German prion camp for a long period of time during World War II. One day he read Psalm 91 and fell to his knees in prayer.

“Father in heaven,” he prayed. “I see all these men dying around me, one after the other. Will I also have to die here? I am still young and I very much want to work in Your kingdom here on earth.”

God spoke to his heart, “Rely on what you have just read and go home.”

Trusting God, the young Englishman got up and walked into the corridor toward the gate.

A guard called out, “Prisoner, where are you going?”

“I am under the protection of The Most High,’” he replied. The guard came to attention and let him pass, because Adolf Hitler was known as The Most High.

The man came to the gate where a group of guards stood. They commanded him to stop and asked where he was going.

“I am under the protection of The Most High,” the Englishman replied.

Continue reading Girlfriends in God – Under the Protection of The Most High

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Gives Us a New Song to Sing

“He has given me a new song to sing, of praise to our God. Now many will hear of the glorious things He did for me, and stand in awe before the Lord, and put their trust in Him” (Psalm 40:3).

Jim was big man on campus, president of his fraternity and an atheist. He ridiculed all those who professed faith in God, especially the Christians in his fraternity house.

I was invited, over his objections, to speak at one of their weekly meetings. A number of fraternity brothers were active in Campus Crusade and insisted that I come even though Jim resented the idea. Yet, upon completion of my message, he was one of the very first to respond and, after further counsel, received Christ. He became one of the most joyful, radiant, contagious, fruitful witnesses for Christ on the entire campus.

He had a new song to sing, a song of praise to God who had liberated him from a life of decadence and deceit. Now his heart fairly burst with joy as he developed a strategy to help reach every key student for Christ on a great university campus.

There is no greater joy in life than that of sharing Christ with others, and there is no greater joy that comes to another than that which comes with the assurance of salvation when one receives Christ into his life.

Would you like to be an instrument of God to cause others to sing praises to Him? Then tell them the glorious things He has done for you and for them, and encourage them to place their trust in Christ.

Bible Reading: Psalm 40:4-8

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will seek every opportunity to encourage others to receive Christ so that they can join with me in singing a new song of praise to our God, and together we will share the glorious things He does for us when we place our trust in Him.

 

http://www.cru.org

Ray Stedman – Regarding His Son

Read: Romans 1:1-7

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God — the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 1:1-4

At the heart of Paul’s argument is a person: Jesus Christ, our Lord. That, certainly, is the theme of the epistle to the Romans, as it is the theme of all Paul’s writings and all the New Testament. Union in Christ is the central truth that God wants us to see. As Paul himself wrote in the letter to the Colossians, Christ in you, the hope of glory, (Colossians 1:27b). That is the great truth from which all others flow.

Sometimes Bible teachers identify certain of the great emphases that come from that truth as being the central truth. For instance, they emphasize justification by faith, or sanctification, that is, solving the problems of sin. But these themes all stem from the great central theme — union with Christ. We are not simply followers of a philosophy, or even of a philosopher, but of a savior, a redeemer, a person — and he must be central in all things.

In his introduction, Paul points out that the Lord was promised to us; he came as predicted in the Old Testament. The gospel was promised beforehand through the prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son. One of the most important things that we can learn about our faith is that it comes to us through the anticipation and prediction of centuries of teaching and preaching.

When The Lord Jesus comes, he is presented to us in two unique ways: First, concerning his human nature, the apostle says he was a descendant of David. The actual Greek says he comes of the very sperm of David, emphasizing his intense humanity. We all came that way, and Jesus came in the same way.

Continue reading Ray Stedman – Regarding His Son

Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – The Power of Pictures

Read: Hosea 12:10

I have . . . used similitudes. (v. 10 KJV)

On the original title page of his classic allegory, The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan quotes Hosea 12:10. Modern versions usually translate that last word “similitudes” as “parables.” Jesus was not the first man in the Bible to use analogies, stories, and word pictures to get his message across.

Subsequent centuries show many Christians (besides Bunyan) doing the same. Literary imagery—metaphor, simile, figures of speech—occurs in its most concentrated form in poetry, and few Christians have ever used poetic imagery to greater spiritual effect than George Herbert.

George Herbert was one of a group of Christian poets who lived and wrote in England during the 17th century. Like his contemporary John Donne, Herbert was an Anglican clergyman, a devout Christian believer, and one of the greatest poets in the history of the English language. In 1633, the year of his death, Herbert published a sonnet titled “Prayer”—the first of two poems so titled.

The poem is printed below in its entirety.

 

Continue reading Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – The Power of Pictures

Greg Laurie – Righteous Judgment

“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”—John 7:24

Years ago, I was out sharing the gospel and had a younger guy with me who was sharing his faith for the first time. We were talking to a big, burly biker with giant arms and tattoos everywhere. The biker told us, “Get out of here and leave me alone.”

I said, “Let’s go.”

But my friend said, “Okay, fine. We’re not going to cast our pearls before swine.”

That is not the verse to quote to someone when you’re sharing the gospel. That is the verse you may think of, but it isn’t the one you quote.

We do have to make an evaluation as Christians. We have to determine who the people are who don’t regard the things of God. There’s a place for judging. Judgment is the exercise of critical thinking, and judgment is needed on occasion.

John 7:24 tells us, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” The Bible has told us to judge, but we are to judge by what is right. We are not to condemn, and we are not to be judgmental. Rather, we should make evaluations. We should be discerning. We should express our opinions on right and wrong, truth and lies, good and evil. In fact, the Bible tells us, “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?” (1 Corinthians 6:2).

The opposite extreme of being judgmental is the naïve acceptance of anything. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine” (Matthew 7:6). In other words, “Don’t take the holy things of God and offer them to someone who has no interest in them whatsoever.” We need to make those evaluations. It isn’t violating the Scriptures when we do.

 

https://www.harvest.org/

Kids 4 Truth International – God Comforts Us

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3)

“Strike three; you’re out!” The umpire shouted the dreaded words. The small crowd of parents and siblings was silent as Gabe shuffled back to the bench, tossing his bat in the dirt.

Gabe sat down on the far end of the bench and sighed. He was sure that last pitch had been a ball – that’s why he hadn’t swung. He could not believe he had struck out for the second time in one game. Why could he not come through when all his team needed was a simple base hit?

As Gabe felt more and more discouraged, his teammate Jackson walked over and sat down beside him. “Hey Gabe, don’t worry about it. You did your best. Remember last week when we had guys on second and third and two outs, and I was up? I smacked the ball right into the pitcher’s glove. Three outs; game over. I was so bummed. I was ashamed that I messed up and let everybody down.”

Gabe looked over at Jackson, one of the team’s best players. Jackson had felt ashamed? “But that night, I was reading my Bible,” Jackson said. “And I read this verse that said, if we look to God, we won’t be weighed down, and our faces won’t be ashamed (see Psalm 34:5). I thought it was great how the verse talked about exactly what I was feeling that day.”

Jackson understood how Gabe felt because Jackson had been there himself. And when he had felt discouraged, God comforted him through His Word. Now he could share that comfort with Gabe.

One of the reasons God lets us go through hard times is so that He can show us His strength by the way He comforts us. Sometimes He does that not by taking the hard times away, but by giving us strength to face them. Then when our Christian friends are facing similar hard times, we can share with them how God strengthened us – and how He will strengthen them, too.

God comforts us in our hard times so we can comfort others in their hard times.

My Response:

» How has God helped me when I was facing hard times?

» How can I pass on that comfort to Christian friends who are facing hard times right now ?

 

http://kids4truth.com/home.aspx

The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Dead to Sin’s Guilt and Dominion

Today’s Scripture: Romans 6:7

“For one who has died has been set free from sin.”

“What shall we say then?” the apostle Paul asked in Romans 6:1. “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” If we’re justified freely by God’s grace through the work of Christ, doesn’t more sin increasingly magnify God’s grace?

“By no means!” responded Paul. “How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:2).

Paul’s response is not an impatient “how could you think such a thing?” Rather, as he demonstrated in the verses that follow, such a practice cannot occur because a fundamental change has occurred in our relationship to sin. The expression Paul uses for this decisive change is, “We died to sin.”

What does Paul mean by that? It’s fairly obvious he doesn’t mean we died to the daily committal of sin. If that were true, no honest person could claim to be justified, because we all sin daily. Nor does it mean we died in the sense of being no longer responsive to sin’s temptations, or else Peter’s admonition to abstain from sinful desires (1 Peter 2:11) would be pointless. So what does Paul mean?

Conservative evangelical commentators have generally taken one of two positions in answering this question. Several have held that Paul refers exclusively to the guilt of sin. That is, through our union with Christ in his death, we died to sin’s guilt. Other commentators say that Paul means we died to sin’s reign and dominion in our lives. Because sin no longer exercises absolute dominion over us, we no longer can continue in sin as a predominant way of life. We struggle with sin, and we do sin, but sin no longer is our master.

I believe both views should be brought together.

 

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The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Self-Denial

Today’s Scripture: Mark 14-16

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” – Luke 9:23

Some years ago I spent the summer studying the book of Mark. I was reading Mark 15, when I came across these words in verse 31: “The chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself!’” I wondered, Who else mocked Him as He hung on that cross? I started to find cross-references in other Gospels and discovered that along with the chief priests, Jesus was mocked by the soldiers, the thieves who were crucified with Him, and the people who passed by. This was a microcosm of humanity–the religious leaders, the military, those outside the law, and the general public. They all said essentially the same thing: “He saved others but he can’t save himself.” And then it hit me. “Right!” I shouted. “That’s right!”

To be used of God in the salvation of others requires denying self on behalf of others. The jeering crowd didn’t understand this as they hurled abuse at Jesus. They thought they had all their theological bases covered. But in their ignorance, they actually expressed a great truth.

Jesus said that if you’re not willing to give up your life for His sake and His kingdom, you will lose it (Luke 9:24). But if we deny self; if we follow the example of Christ and put the welfare of others before our own desires; if we repudiate self and give our lives for the salvation of others, we will find our lives and, in the end, come out winners.

Does your life reflect this Christlike characteristic of self-denial for the sake of others? If not, what stands in your way?

Prayer

Lord, give me the grace to give up my life for You and Your eternal purposes. Amen

To Ponder

Leading others to Christ calls for self-denial.

 

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BreakPoint – Why ‘Safe Spaces’ are Dangerous for College Campuses

It’s become so commonplace on American college campuses that it’s hardly news anymore. Students demanding “safe spaces,” where they aren’t confronted by any idea that might offend them or challenge their way of thinking. Trigger warnings: Professors having to announce that a particular book or lecture may upset someone.

At many universities, students are so determined not to be offended that they will shout down and shut down appearances by speakers who dare to hold a different point of view.

And more maddening than any of this is that many universities actually condone this behavior. Or at least refuse to intervene.

So I’m happy to share with you this “man-bites-dog” story from the University of Chicago.

Dean of Students Jay Ellison sent a letter to incoming freshmen with a stern warning:

“Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called ‘trigger warnings,’ we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.”

Dean Ellison goes on to write that “the free exchange of ideas reinforces another university priority—building a campus that welcomes people of all backgrounds.”

Folks, the University of Chicago is an elite university. Forbes magazine ranks it #20 in its “best American colleges” category. And the composite SAT scores of its student body range from 1435 to 1600 (1600 by the way, is a perfect score).

It’s also fair to say that the University of Chicago, on a liberal to conservative scale, sits comfortably on the “liberal” side of the ledger.

Continue reading BreakPoint – Why ‘Safe Spaces’ are Dangerous for College Campuses

Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – A WEALTHY KING

Read ESTHER 1:1–8

The book of Esther may remind you of a classic, “once upon a time” children’s story with a wealthy king, his beautiful queen, and an evil villain. But while the characters might resemble a fairy tale, the book of Esther depicts actual events that shaped Jewish history and instituted the festival of Purim, a tradition that continues to this day. Esther’s brave actions saved the Jews from massacre and preserved the lineage of Christ.

The opening verses of Esther place these events in a historical timeline. King Xerxes (also known by his name in Hebrew, Ahasuerus) ruled over 127 provinces, from India to Ethiopia (v. 1). At the beginning of this story, King Xerxes was holding court in the city of Susa, during the third year of his reign. This ruler of the Persian Empire had incredible wealth. The text records the splendor of his court with its beautiful wall hangings and an array of purple, the color of royalty (v. 6). Gold, silver, mother-of-pearl, and precious stones decorated the furniture. People drank wine in abundance from golden goblets (v. 7).

Xerxes wanted to paint a picture of a perfect kingdom with no problems. Certainly there was no lack of wealth. Every individual was given everything they desired (v. 8). And Xerxes was sure to get the credit for the glamor and abundance. But even the extraordinary power and wealth of the king had limitations. Note how the text highlights the number of days his “majesty” had been on display (v. 4). No matter how grand the court of King Xerxes was, his reign was limited and pales in contrast with the majesty of God. God’s kingdom will know no end. The temporal plans of individuals in this book lay subject to the will of our Almighty God.

APPLY THE WORD

As we begin the book of Esther, it is helpful to remember that no matter what evil plans people make, God still sits upon the throne. We can be assured that God is ultimately in control, and the final outcome is preserved by Him. It is easy to worry about life from our own human perspective, but we must never forget who is King.

 

http://www.todayintheword.org

Denison Forum – WELCOMING OUR GRANDSON INTO THE WORLD     

“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world” (John Milton).

Yesterday was a “transcendent moment of awe” for our family as we welcomed Wesley Noah Denison into the world. Our lives are changed forever by this baby boy. He will never remember the day of his birth, but we will never forget it.

Wesley’s parents are our younger son, Craig, and his wife, Rachel. Craig directs brand strategy for our ministry and writes First15, our daily devotional. Rachel writes for their website, Craig + Rachel Denison, and for http://www.christianparenting.org. Both are remarkable musicians and worship leaders. And both love Jesus as passionately and intimately as anyone I have ever known.

Today they can say with Hannah, “For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him” (1 Samuel 2:27). From the moment we knew of Wesley’s conception, our family has prayed diligently for him. Today we are rejoicing in the miracle of his birth with hearts overflowing with gratitude to God.

Carl Sandburg was right: “A baby is God’s opinion that life should go on.”

God did not make this little boy because the world needed another human to join the 7.4 billion of us already here. The Lord made Wesley because he wanted another child he could love. As much as we already love this baby, his heavenly Father loves him more. In fact, he loves Wesley as much as he loves his own Son (John 17:26).

We cannot imagine the world Wesley will know. The technological advances, the cultural changes, the geopolitical shifts ahead are all unseen to us and to him. As John F. Kennedy noted, “Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.”

Continue reading Denison Forum – WELCOMING OUR GRANDSON INTO THE WORLD