Charles Stanley – Reconciling God’s Love and Justice

Psalm 33:4-5

Some people reject the message of salvation because they are offended by the Bible’s description of God’s wrath. Even believers can struggle to reconcile the Lord’s love and justice. How can He at the same time be perfectly loving and perfectly just? In an attempt to come to terms with this dilemma, we often try to soften the message of judgment and instead emphasize His warmer, fatherly qualities. But love and justice are not contradictory terms. In fact, you can’t have one without the other.

God’s love brings good into our lives. But if there is no justice, sin runs rampant and causes untold pain and suffering. No one thinks a judge is loving when he or she refuses to punish guilty criminals. To set them loose in society is not healthy for either the wrongdoer or the community. In the same way, our loving heavenly Father cannot allow sin to go unpunished.

But this presents an even bigger dilemma for mankind. We are all guilty before a holy God. That is why Christ came to earth. He bore divine wrath for all our sins so that the Father could be both just and forgiving. His justice was satisfied by the most loving act of all time—Christ’s death on the cross. Now those who by faith accept Jesus’ offer of salvation will not experience eternal punishment for sin.

Although believers will all one day stand before the judgment seat of Christ, there will be no reason to fear. Our judgment has the purpose of determining rewards, not dishing out punishment. In gratitude, we should prepare now for that time by living for the Lord every day.

Bible in One Year: Ezekiel 20-22

 

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Our Daily Bread — How to Carve a Duck

Read: Psalm 138:7-8; Ephesians 2:6-10

Bible in a Year: Psalms 137-139; 1 Corinthians 13

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.—Romans 8:29

My wife, Carolyn, and I met Phipps Festus Bourne in 1995 in his shop in Mabry Hill, Virginia. Bourne, who died in 2002, was a master wood carver whose carvings are almost exact replicas of real objects. “Carving a duck is simple,” he said. “You just look at a piece of wood, get in your head what a duck looks like, and then cut off everything that doesn’t look like it.”

So it is with God. He looks at you and me—blocks of rough wood—envisions the Christlike woman or man hidden beneath the bark, knots, and twigs and then begins to carve away everything that does not fit that image. We would be amazed if we could see how beautiful we are as finished “ducks.”

But first we must accept that we are a block of wood and allow the Artist to cut, shape, and sand us where He will. This means viewing our circumstances—pleasant or unpleasant—as God’s tools that shape us. He forms us, one part at a time, into the beautiful creature He envisioned in our ungainly lump of wood.

Sometimes the process is wonderful; sometimes it is painful. But in the end, all of God’s tools conform us “to the image of his Son” (Rom. 8:29).

Do you long for that likeness? Put yourself in the Master Carver’s hands. —David Roper

Father, You are the craftsman who shapes me. You are the one who knows what shape my life should take. Thank You for carving me into the image You have planned. Help me to trust that the pieces and parts that You shave from me are the right ones.

Growing in Christ comes from a deepening relationship with Him.

INSIGHT: We are God’s handiwork, and our Father will not abandon the work of His hands. Ephesians 2:6-10 provides further insight into the theme of God’s handiwork. After Christ’s atoning death, God raised Him from the dead “and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms” (v. 20). Those who believe in Him have been given new life by God’s grace.

Share your thoughts on today’s devotional on Facebook or odb.org.

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – But as for Me

There are some thoughts about God a Christian carries as truths deeply cemented into the mind. That God is good, for instance, that Christ forgives, that God is a God of grace and mercy and strength. Recitation of these qualities could be offered on cue, or given as gentle correction from a friend when vision has become skewed: God loves you. God is in the midst of your situation. You are forgiven. These phrases are known by heart, even if there are times we do not apply them to our own:

“Surely God is good to Israel,

to those who are pure in heart.

But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;

I had nearly lost my foothold” (Psalm 73:1-2).

Here in these ancient words, a familiar lament is exposed in the expression of an unknown soul: There are times when what is true for all of Israel doesn’t seem true for the one, for me.

There are many reasons one might feel singled out from time to time as being separated from a particular promise or attribute of God. It may be that we are feeling cast aside from God’s presence or forgiveness because something is blocking our view of God’s mercy. A false sense of humility or remnants of shame from previous mistakes may cause us to keep a picture of blame ever before us, skewing our vision of the cross. Still other times, we find ourselves feeling alienated because it seems God has truly overlooked us. Surely God is good to Israel. But as for me… Whatever the cause, in our very admission of feeling overlooked, the Spirit may be attempting to draw us toward the face of God and away from the things that distance us.

No matter the spirit in which it is uttered, the addendum “but as for me” is a heartfelt cry for all. Yet, in a way, the words themselves cast us away from God as we draw ourselves in sharp distinction from what we know to be true. The truth is not moved by our addendums; we are.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – But as for Me

John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Two Spirits or One?

“There is one body and one Spirit just as also you were called in one hope of your calling” (Ephesians 4:4).

Although there were distinctions of ministry, one and the same Holy Spirit has been at work in both the Old and New Covenants.

The famous radio broadcast of October 30, 1938, in which Orson Welles and his fellow actors fooled many of the American people into thinking an actual invasion from Mars was occurring, is a classic example of how miscommunication can drastically distort people’s understanding of the facts. Because many listeners failed to hear the disclaimer about the fictional nature of the War of the Worlds dramatization, thousands were panicked into believing that Martians were beginning to invade New York City and the rest of the East Coast. Not many hours after the program ended, most people realized it was not a broadcast of actual events. Nevertheless, apologies and clarifications were necessary in subsequent days.

Scriptural truth is seldom miscommunicated with that same kind of sensational result. But that doesn’t mean we never need to correct previous thinking about certain doctrines. One of these concerns the Holy Spirit. Due to popular teaching on the dissimilarities between the Old and New Covenants, many Christians have understood the Spirit’s Person and role as being sharply different between the Testaments.

But the apostle Paul makes it clear in Ephesians 4:4 that there is but one Spirit (also see 1 Cor. 12:11, 13). Paul also knew that since the Holy Spirit is God, He is therefore unchanging; the same Spirit has been at work throughout redemptive history. We can believe with certainty that the Holy Spirit will always be the saving agent who draws people to the Lord. That’s what Jesus taught when He instructed the Jewish teacher Nicodemus about the new birth (John 3:5-10).

There are important distinctives between the Holy Spirit’s Old Covenant and New Covenant roles (see Acts 1:5). His New Covenant work is more intimate and personal for believers, but His essential character has always been the same.

We should rejoice that there is no confusion between two Spirits, but that there is one Holy Spirit who has been active in God’s plan, from Genesis 1:1 right to the present and for all eternity.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank the Lord for giving you a clear understanding of the Holy Spirit’s oneness.

For Further Study

Read John 3:1-15.

  • What should Nicodemus already have understood about the new birth?
  • How far back does Jesus reach to make an analogy about God’s method of salvation?

 

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Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – Lexus Think About This

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Romans 8:18

Recommended Reading

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Compare these two verses—the one above, and 2 Corinthians 4:17: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

In both verses, the Lord gives the same assurance. Our present momentary suffering and afflictions aren’t as important as we think, when compared to the eternal glory awaiting us in the future.

Imagine you won a contest that awarded you a new automobile—a new Lexus. But on your way to pick it up, you hit a pothole and damage your flat tire. There’s nothing fun about that, but you can put up with the aggravation of a flat tire on your old car because soon you’ll be driving your new Lexus.

When we hit life’s potholes it helps to keep things in perspective. God’s blessings in our lives supersede our earthly trials, and our glory in the future exceeds any problems we face today. If you’re in a tough spot, remember Romans 8:18 and 2 Corinthians 4:17.

These sufferings are but for a moment; but the glory shall be eternal. These will soon pass away; but that glory shall never become dim or diminished…

Albert Barnes, in his commentary on Romans 8:18

Read-Thru-the-Bible

Ezekiel 28 – 30

http://www.davidjeremiah.org/

Joyce Meyer – No More Insecurity

And they who know Your name [who have experience and acquaintance with Your mercy] will lean on and confidently put their trust in You, for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek (inquire of and for) You [on the authority of God’s Word and the right of their necessity].- Psalm 9:10

Every one of us has experienced a measure of insecurity. At one time or another, we all want to step out and do something, but at the thought of it, insecurity freezes us in our tracks. But this is not the plan of God for our lives. He wants us to step out in faith and confidence.

Insecurity tries to torment us into being so doubtful and miserable we will be prevented from doing what God wants us to do and receiving all God has for us.

We can live without insecurity by building our faith on what God has said in His Word. When we open our mouth and confess what the Lord says to us and about us, God’s Word will give us the power to overcome fear, insecurity, and uncertainty.

If you find yourself trying to avoid confronting some issue in your life because of dread or insecurity, I encourage you to pray and ask God to do for you what He has promised in His Word—to go before you and pave the way.

Ask God to strengthen you in the inner man, that His might and power may fill you, and that you may not be overcome with the temptations to give in to fear.

From the book Closer to God Each Day by Joyce Meyer

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Girlfriends in God – The Granddaddy Sin

Today’s Truth

God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.

James 4:6

Friend to Friend

I once dated a fellow who drove me up the wall with his boasting. He would ask, “What did you think of that touchdown I made? Have you ever seen anybody run so fast and dodge so many people before crossing into the end zone?” He invited me to spend the weekend with his family by saying, “If it’s okay with you, my dad will fly us down in our fifteen-passenger Lear jet, and we can spend a couple of days on our seven-and-a-half-million-dollar yacht, which by the way, is the largest one in the Florida Keys.” After three months of dating, I was ready to slap some duct tape on his mouth, bind his hands and feet, and throw him off his seven-and-a-half-million-dollar yacht.

Boasting is a form of pride. The more pride we have, the more we despise it in others. While this boy desperately needed to get over himself, I must admit that I am guilty of this same sort of boasting. I’m just slightly more clever in how I do it. I’ve manipulated conversations in order to casually mention an accomplishment, name drop, or detail a “humble” act of service. I’ve said things like, “I am so excited! I’ve been invited to speak at the largest home-school convention in the country.” Realizing how that might sound, I’ll quickly add a spiritual cover-up to divert attention from my proud motive. “What an amazing opportunity to encourage others for God’s glory.” I may have fooled the listener, but I certainly haven’t fooled God.

Pride is the granddaddy of all sins—typically the sin from which all other sins originate. It was pride that caused Satan to become Satan. It was pride that caused the fall of Israel. And, as much as we hate to admit it, it is often pride that blocks the Holy Spirit from moving in our lives. It’s the sin with the strongest grip, the sin we loathe when we see it in others, and the sin we often refuse to see in ourselves.

Jesus demonstrated humility during his time on earth, setting an example for us to follow. His time on earth was not spent seeking glory from people. John records that Jesus said, “I do not accept glory from human beings” (John 5:41), and he made it clear that his purpose for humbling himself was not to do his own will, but the will of the Father (6:38). He did not come to receive honor and praise, but avoided it like the plague. “After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, ‘Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.’ Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself” (6:14-15).

Continue reading Girlfriends in God – The Granddaddy Sin

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – None of These Diseases

“And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in His sight, and wilt give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee” (Exodus 15:26, KJV).

Prior to a recent minor operation the surgeon came to my hospital room for prayer and to explain the nature of the hernia correction. He explained, “It is God alone who heals. It is my responsibility, along with my staff, to treat and care for you.”

In his excellent book, None of These Diseases, Dr. S.I. McMillen abundantly amplifies and proves the point of this promise: that if we always do that which is right in God’s sight, at the very least our health will be greatly improved.

This highly qualified physician contends that most of our physical problems are caused by stress, but the person who is doing that which is right in God’s sight is not likely to be continually under stress – at least not the kind of stress that impairs one physically.

“I am the Lord that healeth thee.” And He is the same yesterday, today and forever. That would indicate that His healing is available for all today – which of course brings up that sticky question of method and means.

Whatever our persuasion about this, the fact remains that if we really do believe that it is God who heals, then it should follow that He would be our first resource in time of physical need. And it may well be that His direction would take us to the physician. But He alone would be the healer.

Bible Reading: Exodus 15:22-26

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: As I approach each task today, I will make a conscious effort to be concerned about doing that which is right in God’s sight.

 

http://www.cru.org

Ray Stedman – Not Ashamed

Read: Romans 1:8-17

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed — a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith. Romans 1:16-17

This quotation from Habakkuk that Paul uses is the great fact that he is expounding in the gospel. He is not ashamed of it, and that is a way of saying that he is proud of it.

Paul especially is not ashamed of the gospel in Rome because the Romans appreciated power, just as Americans do. The Romans prided themselves on their power. They had military power that could conquer all the nations that stood in their path; they had a tremendous program of road-building; they had some of the greatest law-makers of history; they had the power to write literature and create art. But Paul knew that the Romans also were powerless when it came to changing hearts. They were powerless to eliminate slavery. They were powerless to change the stubborn, hostile, hateful hearts of men and eliminate violence. Paul says that is why he is so proud of the gospel — because it is the power of God to do those very things that men cannot do. We never need to apologize for the gospel. It is absolutely without rival.

Paul is not ashamed of the gospel because it reveals a righteousness from God. Righteousness is an old word that we don’t understand very much. I would like to substitute for it the word worth, a worth before God. A sense of acceptance before God that He has given to you. You can’t earn it, you certainly don’t deserve it, but it is given. God really accepts you because of the gospel, because of the good news of the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. Therefore, it is something that you, or I, or anybody else can have, and it is complete, perfect.

The last thing Paul says is that this righteousness is received by faith. It is not something we can ever earn; it is something we can take anytime we need it, and that is good news. Our worth before God is not simply something we receive once, by faith, at the beginning of our Christian lives. It is also something we remind ourselves of every time we feel depressed, despairing, discouraged, defeated, etc. God has loved us, restored us, and we have perfect standing in his sight. He already accepts us and loves us as much as he possibly can; nothing more can be added to it. That is the righteousness that is revealed in the gospel, by faith, to all who believe, no matter what their background or training may be.

Father, I pray that I may understand how hopeless, how dark and bitter my condition would be were it not for the gospel of the grace of God. Help me to know that nothing could have saved me from the wicked machinations of the evil one had it not been for the intervention of the gospel of grace.

Life Application

When we consider the magnitude of God’s gift of unearned, undeserved righteousness, are we responding with gratitude and worship? How does it affect the habits of our hearts and our actions?

 

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – The Power of Poetry

Read: Luke 11:1-4

Lord, teach us to pray. (v. 1)

“A poem . . . begins with a lump in the throat,” wrote Robert Frost in a letter to a friend. That line in itself conveys several truths about the way great poetry works. It is focused emotion: it conveys strong feeling in a minimum of words. It stimulates the imagination by use of metaphor and imagery. Its meaning is not always obvious; it forces the reader to think about what the poet is trying to say.

In his poem “Prayer (1)” George Herbert used the sonnet form, a type of poem that follows some of the strictest rules of poetic composition. An English (or Shakespearian) sonnet has three four-line stanzas with a regular rhyming pattern, followed by a rhyming couplet (two-line conclusion).

Each line of Herbert’s sonnet on prayer has one or more images for prayer. As Michael Wilcock leads us through the poem phrase by phrase over the coming days, we have the opportunity to let the poetry work its magic—to deepen our thinking, expand our imagination, engage our emotions—and lead us into praying more often and with greater feeling and understanding.

“Lord, teach us to pray,” Jesus’ disciples once asked. George Herbert’s poem, with Michael Wilcock’s devotional reflections, can do just that.

The poem is printed below in its entirety.

 

Prayer (I)

BY GEORGE HERBERT

Prayer the Church’s banquet, Angels’ age,

God’s breath in man returning to his birth,

The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,

The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth;

 

Engine against th’ Almighty, sinner’s tower,

Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,

The six-days-world transposing in an hour,

A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear;

 

Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss,

Exalted Manna, gladness of the best,

Heaven in ordinary, man well drest,

The milky way, the bird of Paradise,

 

Church-bells beyond the stars heard, the soul’s blood.

The land of spices; something understood.

Prayer:

“Lord, teach me to pray.”

Author: Rev. David Bast

 

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Greg Laurie – Go and Sin No More

And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”—John 8:11

I’ve heard some Christians say, “God loves me the way I am, and this is just the way I am.” Yes, God does love us the way we are, but He wants to change us.

Jesus said to the woman who had been caught in the act of adultery, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:11). How could He say this? She was still immoral; she simply was caught in the act. He could say this because in a short time, on the cross of Calvary, He would personally take upon Himself the very condemnation she should have faced.

Notice something else that is very important. He did not say to her, “Go and sin no more, and as a result, I will not condemn you.” In that case, who could ever live up to that requirement? Nor did He say, “Just go your merry way, and the next time you mess up, I hope I will see you again.”

Rather, Jesus was saying, “Neither do I condemn you. Now, as a recognition of that, go and sin no more.” His act of forgiveness was followed by a challenge. This is important, because implicit in His statement was a warning not to keep living that lifestyle.

Jesus is saying the same to us. We are to leave our lifestyle of sin. It doesn’t mean we have to be perfect, because no one is. It doesn’t mean we need to be sinless. But it should mean we will sin less. God wants to change us. The Bible says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Our identity should not be in what we were but who we are.

 

https://www.harvest.org/

Kids 4 Truth International – God Is the Only Perfect Hero

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

They call him the Man of Steel. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, Superman is the ultimate strong and powerful guy. As long as there’s none of that nasty green Kryptonite nearby to suck away his stunning strength, Superman can do whatever it takes to rescue people in any kind of danger. And not only does he fly and have incredible muscles, but he also actually seems to care about using his powers not to make himself look good, but to help people.

We love Superman because we know we need a hero: someone who knows when we need help, is powerful enough to be able to help us, and cares enough to want to help. In the movies and on TV, Superman does all of those things. But he does not do any of them perfectly. For example, he knows when people need help – but only because he hears about it from someone else. He is powerful enough to help people – but only in one place at a time. If a child were being kidnapped on one side of Metropolis at the exact same moment that a woman’s car was being stolen on the other side of the city, he would have to choose to help either the child or the woman. He could not do both, even if he wanted to.

Superman is a good hero, but he is only a man – and not even a real man, just a pretend character on TV and in movies. He is only an imitation of the one Hero we all need: a God Who knows everything, Who can do anything He wants to, and who loves His children perfectly. That God is our refuge: we can run to Him for shelter when we’re facing something scary or painful. He is our strength: we can call on Him when we are weak. He is always near when we are in trouble: He doesn’t have to fly to where we are, because He is already there. We can count on Him to be our ultimate Hero.

God, my Refuge and Strength, is better than any make-believe hero.

My Response:

» Do I turn to God for help when I am in trouble, or do I try to solve my problems by myself?

 

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The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – The Best Defense

Today’s Scripture: 1 Corinthians 16:13

“Be watchful.”

With all the enemies from the world and from Satan arrayed against us, and a guerrilla army of flesh within our own hearts, how can we effectively watch against the temptations that constantly beset us? The old adage “The best defense is a good offense” is good advice for watching against temptation. The best offense is meditation on the Word of God and prayer. It’s surely no coincidence that they’re the only two spiritual exercises that we are encouraged to do continually. We’re to meditate on God’s Word “day and night” (Psalm 1:2), and Paul exhorted us to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, NIV).

There is power in the Word of God to keep us from sin: “I have stored up your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). For every temptation that you face, there are specific passages of Scripture that address that issue. If you’re not aware of some, ask your pastor or another mature Christian to help you find them. Then memorize those verses, meditate on them, and pray over them every day, asking the Holy Spirit to bring them to your mind in times of need. Ask, also, that he will strengthen your will to enable you to obey the Word that he brings to your mind. All of us are being influenced by sinful society, so we want to do all we can to continually bring the Word of God to bear upon our thinking.

Also remember that Jesus told us to watch and pray against temptation (Matthew 26:41). We aren’t capable of watching by ourselves. “Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” (Psalm 127:1). Even with our best diligence, we need the extra dimension of the Lord watching for us. (Excerpt taken from The Discipline of Grace)

 

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The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – When God Speaks

Today’s Scripture: Luke 1-2

Today, if you hear his voice… – Psalm 95:7

There were four hundred years of silence between the writing of Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, and the announcement of the birth of Jesus. I guess that’s what makes the Christmas story, and particularly what happened to the shepherds, so amazing.

Listen to the familiar words beginning in Luke 2:8:

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, an angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (KJV)

This announcement to the shepherds was the first public word from the Lord in four hundred years! Do you suppose the shepherds might have doubted that it really was the voice of God?

Sometimes we have the idea that God speaks only to pastors or to missionaries or to special people who seem to have it all together. Not so! God wants to talk to you, but you’ve got to meet Him halfway. So open your Bible, open your heart, and let Him speak to you today.

Prayer

Lord, prepare my heart to hear Your voice and obey it. Amen.

To Ponder

Why does God choose some of the most unlikely people to carry out His purposes?

 

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BreakPoint – What Has Changed Since BreakPoint Began 25 Years Ago?

On September 2, 1991, Chuck Colson took to the radio airwaves with his first BreakPoint commentary. That’s 25 years ago today.

But think of all that has changed since then. Technology? My goodness. The World Wide Web was only available to research universities. No Google. No Amazon.

And mobile phones were the size of your shoe! If you had to make a call on the road, you needed coins and a phone booth. And people still wrote letters to each other. On paper. With pens.

George Bush the First was president. Operation Desert Storm had just taken place. No 9/11. No Afghanistan. We didn’t know what jihadism was. And about a month after Chuck’s first BreakPoint, some governor from Arkansas announced he planned to run for president.

And culturally… well. Same-sex “marriage,” transgender bathrooms, these were simply unimaginable. And the idea that the government and major corporations would punish those who opposed such things—that would have been conspiracy thinking.

So much has changed since then. But the reason Eric Metaxas and I offer BreakPoint every day hasn’t.

Let me ask this: As Christians, we know things are not right with the world. But can we put our finger on why?

Or let me ask this: In the midst of our daily lives of responsibilities and distractions, when is the last time we stepped back and asked, “What is the purpose of life? What’s all of this for?”

Continue reading BreakPoint – What Has Changed Since BreakPoint Began 25 Years Ago?

Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – A LOVELY QUEEN

Read ESTHER 1:9–12

After being imprisoned and threatened with execution in Iran, American journalist Roxana Saberi falsely confessed to being a spy. Later she recanted, even though she knew that telling the truth would jeopardize her freedom. And indeed, rather than release her as promised, her captors kept her in prison for months. She said about that harrowing time: “I would rather tell the truth and stay in prison instead of telling lies to be free.”

Standing for what’s right takes courage. The book of Esther includes the stories of two women who challenged corrupt rulers. The first woman we meet is Queen Vashti. We know that she was an incredibly beautiful woman. Just as King Xerxes lavishly decorated his palace with only the best that money could buy, he also insisted that the women in his life be physically attractive. He demanded only the best.

While Xerxes was holding a lavish seven-day banquet, the queen presided over a separate banquet for women (v. 9). On the last day of the banquet, a very drunk king called for his queen (v. 11). He demanded that she come to him so that he could display her before the attendees of his banquet. Some commentators interpret Xerxes’s request as a vulgar attempt to force the beautiful Queen Vashti to appear naked in front of these drunken men. Certainly his demand was insulting and embarrassing to Vashti, and she refused (v. 12).

Xerxes was not used to anyone denying his request. He was furious with Vashti. Not only had she disobeyed the king’s direct request, she had defied him in front of his guests. She undermined his illusion of total power and control. Queen Vashti was admired for her physical beauty. But what makes her stand apart in this text was her willingness to stand up to a despot.

APPLY THE WORD

When is it worthwhile to stand up for what you believe? At what cost? While many of us take the road of least resistance when it comes to conflict, sometimes it is necessary to do what is right, no matter the cost. Ultimately, our allegiance is to God. He can give us courage to stand up for what we believe, even when we are pressured to do wrong.

 

http://www.todayintheword.org

Denison Forum – A VITAL LESSON CHRISTIANS CAN LEARN FROM ATHEISTS

According to Vox, the average restaurant meal is four times larger than in the 1950s. Apple will reportedly allow customers to order their new iPhone 7 in the color black. Ikea says that future homes will have vegetable planters lining their kitchen walls, furniture will double as exercise gear, and sensors throughout the house will respond instantly to our actions.

These stories illustrate the first rule of marketing: give the people what they want. Successful businesspeople know that they must connect their products to our interests, needs, and hopes before we will buy what they are selling.

Atheists are learning the same lesson.

Sean McDowell teaches apologetics at Biola University and is the author of over eighteen books. His latest blog post is titled “The New Face of Atheism.” According to Dr. McDowell, this “face” isn’t a person but a movement.

Rather than seeking to eradicate churches, this movement wants to create secular communities alongside them (the growth of atheist churches is an example). It emphasizes relationships and rituals more than rational arguments. While rejecting the truth of Christianity, it focuses more on practical issues than the big questions of life.

These atheists are on to something. Our postmodern culture is convinced that “truth” is personal and subjective. You cannot have a logical debate with someone who doesn’t trust logic. Of course, the claim that there is no such thing as truth is itself a truth claim. Nonetheless, more people than ever are focused on practical issues rather than philosophical arguments. Many atheists are riding the tide of this cultural shift.

Continue reading Denison Forum – A VITAL LESSON CHRISTIANS CAN LEARN FROM ATHEISTS