Charles Stanley – The Heart of Our Faith

Galatians 2:15-16

Paul believed nothing merited his boasting more than the cross (Gal. 6:14). He had good reason to think so: God’s entire plan of salvation hangs upon two beams of rough-hewn wood. It is through Jesus’ sacrificial death that we are reconciled to the Father. And we are justified by Christ’s blood—freed from the guilt and penalty of sin.

Galatians 2:16 says, “By the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.” That is, clean living cannot earn God’s acceptance. Even so, many people choose to put confidence in some sort of cosmic “scale”—they believe their good deeds will outweigh their bad deeds, and as a result, the gate of heaven will be open to them.

However, if this scale philosophy were true, Jesus’ death would be senseless. A Father who accepted multiple paths to salvation but still sacrificed His Son couldn’t be called good or loving. Yet so many overlook the obvious logic of such reasoning and cling to their vision of a God who ignores personal sin.

The problem is pride. Since it is natural to desire acceptance, people want to believe something within them is worth loving. But the cross requires kneeling before God empty-handed. When we humbly admit we’re powerless to settle our own sin debt, we must accept the payment Jesus made for us.

We have nothing to offer God, but the fact is, He expects nothing. Instead, the Father created a salvation plan that cleansed the stain of our sin and reconciled us to Him. The cross is a symbol of His love—a love that deserves our boasting.

Bible in One Year: Ezekiel 34-36

Our Daily Bread — She Did What She Could

Read: Mark 14:3-9

Bible in a Year: Proverbs 1-2; 1 Corinthians 16

She did what she could.—Mark 14:8

When her friends say thoughtless or outrageous things on social media, Charlotte chimes in with gentle but firm dissent. She respects the dignity of everyone, and her words are unfailingly positive.

A few years ago she became Facebook friends with a man who harbored anger toward Christians. He appreciated Charlotte’s rare honesty and grace. Over time his hostility melted. Then Charlotte suffered a bad fall. Now housebound, she fretted over what she could do. About that time her Facebook friend died and then this message arrived from his sister: “[Because of your witness] I know he’s now experiencing God’s complete and abiding love for him.”

During the week in which Christ would be killed, Mary of Bethany anointed Him with expensive perfume (John 12:3; Mark 14:3). Some of those present were appalled, but Jesus applauded her. “She has done a beautiful thing to me,” He said. “She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial” (Mark 14:6-8).

“She did what she could.” Christ’s words take the pressure off. Our world is full of broken, hurting people. But we don’t have to worry about what we can’t do. Charlotte did what she could. So can we. The rest is in His capable hands. —Tim Gustafson

Lord, help us not to define our self-worth by what we do for You, but by what You have done for us. Show us how we can show Your love to others.

For further study, read Being Jesus Online at

Do thy duty, that is best; leave unto the Lord the rest. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

INSIGHT: Bethany, the location featured in today’s article, was a village on the slopes of the Mount of Olives less than two miles from Jerusalem. Pilgrims traveling from Jericho to Jerusalem, a journey of twenty-four kilometers or about fifteen miles, would pass through Bethany. Three famous siblings resided there: Lazarus, Martha, and Mary (John 11:1-2). Early in Jesus’s ministry, Martha opened her home in Bethany to Him (Luke 10:38). Jesus would stay there whenever he was in Jerusalem to teach or to celebrate the Passover. During the Passion Week, Jesus spent His last few nights—probably Palm Sunday to Wednesday—with the three siblings (Matt. 21:17; Mark 11:11, 19).

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Lament No Longer

A sales receipt long tucked between the pages of a book can tell a story of its own. I am known for using the receipt handed to me at checkout as a bookmark for the purchase I don’t wait long to read. Discovered years later, it often seems like a clue, giving away a snapshot of a former day and a former self—the date of the transaction, the location of the store, the other books I bought along with the one I chose to read first. Something more seems to be said about the book itself and the thoughts going through my head at the time—a memoir chosen on a road-trip far from home, a classic wandering story acquired during an uncertain time of transition in college. Moby Dick was purchased alongside Till We Have Faces, a novel I picked up simply because the title caught my attention and a book I would later describe as changing my life. It is a glimpse at myself often forgotten, a specific day in the past speaking to the present one: I was here. I was searching. And in hindsight, the present often seems to answer: And perhaps I was not alone.

A receipt fell out of a book I was rereading not too long ago. It was tucked in the pages of a small book depicting the fragmented thoughts of a grieving father. Written by a professor of philosophical theology, Lament for a Son relays the beating heart and exasperated soul of a man forced by a tragic accident to bury his son at the age of twenty-five. But the sales receipt that marked its pages furthered the illustration of grief therein: the book was purchased exactly a year after my father died.

There is a language of loss that we share as humans, though many of us need help remembering how to speak it. Rediscovering the memory of sitting in a bookstore on an anniversary that seemed hard to believe, I am struck with this thought. We need the language of lament. We need permission to voice the broken hope within. We need to know lament is a song we are allowed to sing and that we are not alone in singing it.

In the preface of Lament for a Son, author Nicholas Wolterstorff relays a brief interchange with a friend who told him that he had given copies of the book to all of his children. Confused, Wolterstorff asked why he would want to give away a book of so much despair and pain. “Because it is a love-song,” came the reply. Returning to the preface, Wolterstorff writes, “Yes, it is a love-song. Every human lament is a love-song.” And then he asks a question that begins the outpouring that is the entire book: “Will love-songs one day no longer be laments?”

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Lament No Longer

John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Freedom from Condemnation

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death” (Romans 8:2).

The moment the Holy Spirit places us in Christ, He also frees us from the power of sin and death.

The third stanza of Charles Wesley’s great hymn “And Can It Be?” describes the composer’s thoughts regarding the Holy Spirit’s saving work in his life:

Long my imprisoned spirit lay

Fast bound in sin and nature’s night.

Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray:

I woke—the dungeon flamed with light!

My chains fell off, my heart was free,

I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Romans 8:2 makes it clear that every Christian can and should share Wesley’s exhilaration. The instant we by faith embrace Jesus Christ, the Spirit frees us from spiritual condemnation. Essentially, we become free to start a new life, different from anything we have known.

The Lord Jesus was certain that saving faith would work such a complete transformation (John 5:24). And the apostle Paul leaves no doubt that every person whom the Holy Spirit has sovereignly drawn into the Body of Christ has also been freed from the power of sin and death: “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:8-11).

As you actively apply this freedom you have in Christ (see Col. 3:3-10), you will have the joyous reassurance that the Holy Spirit—“the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus”—will always be there to enable you to defeat sin and obey God.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for His grace that has enabled you to achieve what you could not on your own—victory over spiritual death.

For Further Study

Read Colossians 3:3-17.

  • What sins are we to put off?
  • What new traits are we to put on?
  • What resources does the Lord provide for us (vv. 15-16)?

Wisdom Hunters – Fear of Death 

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. Revelation 6:9

Jesus has conquered death; therefore, followers of Jesus need not fear death. You may have a fear of dying, but not of death. For the believer in Christ, death is a pass through, a transition from this life to the next. Death is not final for it is the doorway to eternity. Eternity is being in the physical presence of Jesus. Everything we have experienced with Christ on earth is an appetizer of what is to come. Faith can only digest a mere morsel of what God has in store for those who love Him.

Like Abel the first martyr (Hebrews 11:4, Genesis 4:10)—John honors those who have and will sacrifice their life on the altar of the Lord’s love, because of the transforming life of Christ dwelling in them. Courageous heroes of the faith do not compromise the truth of God’s Word, nor do they betray their loyal testimony to Jesus. Death releases us from the pain of suffering—which molds our character and faith in Christ. Jesus replaces fear of death with hope in heaven.

“Faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven” (Colossians 1:5).

Death is freedom, it is not to be feared. So, in the meantime, make every effort to prepare yourself and others for death. The fear of death creeps in where there has been no preparation. You can ignore its reality but you will still die. You can deny death, but not its consequences. You may have a chance to repent on your deathbed, but why wait? Go with God’s sure thing, faith in Christ. He has died and risen from the dead to give you life—faith overcomes fear.

Continue reading Wisdom Hunters – Fear of Death 

Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – Everything We Need

For I am persuaded that [nothing] . . . shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

Recommended Reading

1 John 4:8-16

When current Kentucky governor, Matt Bevin, was sworn into office, he told an assembled crowd, “If we truly love one another . . . if we have each other’s back . . . then the greatest days of the commonwealth of Kentucky are indeed yet to come.” That sentiment echoes what lovers have told each other for centuries: “Love is all we need.”

While love may not be a bullet-proof shield for politicians or lovers, it definitely is for members of God’s family. If we lose all else in this world we will never lose the love of God. Therefore, we never will lose God, for God is love (1 John 4:8, 16). When he was suffering, the apostle Paul wrote that God’s grace was sufficient for him (2 Corinthians 12:9). He is the same apostle who lost everything in his service for Christ through shipwrecks, imprisonments, beatings, hunger, stoning, and more (2 Corinthians 6:4-10; 11:23-28). He lost everything he didn’t need and kept everything he did need. Most important, he kept the love of God in Christ Jesus.

The same is true for you. Nothing can separate you from God and His love through Christ. He is everything we need.

A piece of bread with God’s love is angels’ food.

Thomas Watson, Puritan


Ezekiel 41 – 43

Joyce Meyer – Be Positive

What has happened to all your joy?- Galatians 4:15 NIV

Many years ago, I was extremely negative. My thoughts were all negative, so my mouth was negative; therefore, so was my life. When I really began to study the Word and to trust God to restore me, one of the first things I realized was that the negativity had to go.

Negative minds produce negative lives, but positive minds produce positive lives. Negative thoughts are full of fear and doubt, but positive thoughts are full of faith and hope.

If you don’t have any idea what God’s will is for you at this point, you can begin by thinking: Well, I don’t know God’s plan, but I know He loves me. Whatever He does will be good, and I’ll be blessed. Begin to think positively about your life; practice being positive in every situation that arises.

Power Thought: I maintain a positive attitude in all circumstances.<

From the book the book Power Thoughts Devotional by Joyce Meyer.

Girlfriends in God – When Life Doesn’t Turn Out Like You Thought It Would

Today’s Truth

“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”

Psalm 9:10

Friend to Friend

My bags were packed. My passport was up to date. My feet were itching to get started.

For more than a year, my husband and I had planned a trip to Italy, Greece, and Turkey with six of our closest friends. We had plotted our course, prepared our travel, and saved our pennies. This was a big deal for us—for me. I was going to stand on the very mount in Athens where Paul preached one of my favorite verses: “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). We were going to explore the catacombs where some of our very first brothers and sisters in Christ were buried and walk the very steps of Paul in Ephesus.

When the day finally arrived, we flew to Rome to spend three days before setting sail to Greece. Rome did not disappoint: the Coliseum, the Appian Way, the aqueducts, and the catacombs. I had to pinch myself to make sure I was really there.

The night before boarding the ship, I celebrated by eating some local fish that was a little too fishy. In the wee hours of the morning my body commenced rejecting the contents of my digestive system in every unpleasant way possible. I’d experienced this before. I knew what it was. Food poisoning.

Being a good trooper, I crawled into the shuttle van the next morning with our band of explorers, closed my eyes, and proceeded to the ship terminal for the next leg of our journey. We arrived at the dock and joined the throng of other vacationers being herded through the roped check-in lanes. One of the attendants handed me a short form to complete for admittance. And there it was. The question.

“Have you experienced vomiting in the past 48 hours?”

Continue reading Girlfriends in God – When Life Doesn’t Turn Out Like You Thought It Would

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The Supernatural Power of God’s Love

“For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38,39, KJV).

More than anything else, I was drawn to Christ because of His love for me. The Bible says that Christ proved His supernatural love for us by coming “to die for us while we were still sinners.”

Because of that great love, which draws me to Him and causes me to want to please Him and to love Him in return, I learned how to love supernaturally. In more than 30 years of counseling thousands of people about interpersonal conflicts, I do not know of a single problem that could not have been resolved if those involved had been willing to accept and respond to God’s love for them, and to love others as an act of the will by faith, as God commands.

Such a statement may sound simplistic and exaggerated, yet I make it after carefully reviewing in my mind all kinds of conflicts between husbands and wives, parents and children, neighbors, friends and enemies.

Think of it! Christ’s forgiveness is so great and compassionate that He will not allow anything or anyone to condemn us or separate us from His supernatural love. Even though He is “holy, blameless, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens,” He still loves and cleanses us from all unrighteousness. He gives us absolute assurance that nothing can ever “separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Bible Reading: Romans 8:32-37

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I determine to express my gratitude to God for His great love for me by loving Him in return and by loving by faith everyone with whom I have contact today. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I will demonstrate that love by gracious acts of the will.

Ray Stedman – Total Wipeout

Read: Romans 3:1-20

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. Romans 3:19-20

When you read this terrible description of the human race as God sees it, it is almost impossible for us to believe that God is not going to say, Enough! Wipe them out! If all he sees is wretchedness, misery, evil, deceit, hypocrisy, vulgarity, profanity, slander, and all these evil things that are in every heart — every one without exception — our natural instinct is to say, Then God doesn’t want us. But the amazing thing is that across this kind of verse he writes, God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, (John 3:16a KJV). God did not send the Law to destroy us (and this is very important); he sent the Law to keep us from false hope.

The worst thing that can happen is to be going down a road to an important destination and think you are on the right track and spend all the time necessary to get there only to discover that the road peters out into nothingness. You find you have been on the wrong track and it is too late to go back. That was what was happening. So God, in his loving kindness, has given us the Law to keep us from taking a false path. Though the Law condemns us, it is that very condemnation that makes us willing to listen, so that we find the right path.

Paul says the Law does three things to us: First, it stops our mouth: We have nothing to say. You can always tell someone is close to becoming a Christian when they shut up and stop arguing back. Self-righteous people are always saying, But — but this — but I — yes, but I do this — and I do that. They are always arguing. But when they see the true meaning of the Law, their mouth is shut.

Continue reading Ray Stedman – Total Wipeout

Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – The Soul in Paraphrase

Read: Romans 8:26-30

The Spirit intercedes for the saints (v. 27)

To paraphrase means to say the same thing in different words. “Hear my prayer, Lord! In other words, listen to what I’m saying, and please do something about it!”

Putting the contents of my prayers through this process is a very worthwhile exercise, not because it makes it easier for God to understand what is on my heart (he already knows that perfectly well), but because it gets things clear in my own mind. It makes me think carefully about what my situation and my needs and my desires really are, and what I think he might want to do about them. Every so often I shall check myself and say, “No, that’s not strictly what I mean”; at other times, I shall say, “Yes, Lord, I really do mean this prayer, every word of it.” I may even say, “Now that I phrase that differently, I realize it’s rather a silly prayer; forget it, Lord!”

These verses in Romans 8 are about another, even more valuable, kind of paraphrase. How encouraging to be told that the Holy Spirit knows my needs and my desires infinitely better than I do myself. How good to know he is keenly aware how costly the fight has been to bring good out of evil (hence the “groans”). And how reassuring to realize the Spirit passes my prayers on to my Father God “in other words” that may not even be words at all, but are certainly past my understanding.

Continue reading Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – The Soul in Paraphrase

Greg Laurie – When the Time Is Right

Now all Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before the LORD.—2 Chronicles 20:13

Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, was in trouble. There was a force coming after him that was far larger than his armies were. In 2 Chronicles 20 we find his powerful story as he stood with his family and children, praying, “O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You” (verse 12).

I love that scene. Humanly speaking, it is a picture of weakness. King Jehoshaphat was saying, in effect, “Lord, here we are. We have the kids. We have an army coming toward us. What am I going to do here? Our eyes are on You.” That is a good thing to pray. God answered Jehoshaphat’s prayer, intervened, and rescued them.

In the New Testament we read of a time when there was a storm at sea, and the disciples were calling out to God for help. Jesus finally showed up, walking toward them on the water. He had arrived during the fourth watch of the night, which is the last part of the night right before the sun begins to rise. Technically, it’s the morning, but it still feels like it’s night.

This means the disciples had been toiling at sea for hours, trying to get through that storm, and Jesus came along at the last possible moment. The point is that He did come to them. And He will do the same for you and me. He always will—when the time is right. We need to just trust Him.

Remember this: He loves us with an everlasting love. That love is not fickle. That love doesn’t change. That love is persistent. That love is consistent. We are loved by God.

Kids 4 Truth International – God Secures Your Steps

“He…set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps.” (Psalm 40:2)

Have you ever watched a young child learning how to walk? The child totters and staggers around around while proud parents offer squeals of praise to encourage their little one to take more steps. The cameras flash, video recorders roll, and phone calls are made. The parents quickly clear toys and furniture out of the way to keep the child from getting hurt. Usually the child will fall many times in this process, but eventually get up and try again. Parents are there when the child falls and can help the child get back up. Would good parents knock their child down, or poke or push to make the baby fall? Of course not!

You are not a baby any more, but you still have to learn to walk. Yes; you may already know how to walk on two feet, but there is another kind of “walk” we all need to work on, for the rest of our lives. In the New Testament, Paul compares the Christian’s life to walking. As you probably know by now, becoming more and more like Christ is not an easy walk. We get tempted to sin against God. We face hard things like losing loved ones or moving to a new city. Walking God’s way is hard.

But Christians have a heavenly Father who helps them learn to walk the Christian life. He is beside you with every step. Does that mean that you will never fall down? No! David says in Psalm 40 that he was having difficulties in the Christian walk. But just like a little child learning to walk, you have a wonderful Father beside you to help you up: God. David asked the Lord for help (and you can, too, if you are God’s child), and God responded by helping David. The way David described God’s help was as though He put David’s feet on a solid rock to keep him from slipping. If you are looking for help for the Christian walk, you cannot get anymore security and strength than the kind that God gives!

God is the kind of Father Who will strengthen our steps in the Christian walk.

My Response:

» How am I struggling in my Christian “walk”?

» Have I asked my heavenly Father to help strengthen my steps?

The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Something to Believe

Today’s Scripture: Romans 4:8

“Blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

We’re free from both the guilt and the reigning power or dominion of sin in our lives. But of what use is this information to us? How can it help when we’re struggling with persistent sin patterns and see ourselves giving in to sinful desires? Here’s where Paul’s instructions in Romans 6:11 can help us: “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (NIV).

Paul isn’t telling us to do something but to believe something. We’re to count on, or believe, that we’re dead to sin.

We’re dead to its guilt. God no longer counts it against us. We’re no longer under condemnation (Romans 4:8; 8:1). This is not make-believe. You are indeed guilty in yourself, but God no longer regards you as guilty, because the guilt has already been borne by Christ as your substitute. The sentence has been served. The penalty has been paid. To use Paul’s expresion, you have died to sin’s guilt.

When we’re painfully conscious of sin in our lives, it’s difficult to count on the fact that we’re dead to its guilt. All the more reason to hold steadfast to the promise of God. Just as it seemed incredible to Abraham that he could have a son when he was nearly a hundred years old and Sarah’s womb was dead, so it often seems incredible to us to believe that we’ve died to sin’s guilt when it appears so ugly in our own sight. But just as Abraham did not weaken in faith, but believed the promise of God, so we must believe what God says to us. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. We have died to sin’s guilt.

BreakPoint –  Observatory Earth: Eclipses and Our Privileged Planet

In Mark Twain’s classic story, “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,” a denizen of nineteenth-century New England named Hank Morgan mysteriously finds himself thrown back into sixth-century England. The resourceful Hartford man, taken for a magician and sentenced to burn at the stake, recalls reading about a total solar eclipse that took place on that date in history. So he warns his captors that if they won’t release him, he’ll blot out the sun. When Arthur and his court won’t cooperate, Morgan dramatically delivers on his promise, terrifying their pre-scientific minds and earning himself a place at King Arthur’s right-hand.

If you happen to find yourself tied to a stake on August 21st of next year, you’ll be glad to know that another solar eclipse is on the way. The so-called “great American eclipse” will plunge viewers from coast to coast into darkness for a dramatic three or so minutes as the moon comes between the earth and the sun—although you’ll have to travel to a narrow strip from South Carolina to Oregon to see the sun fully disappear.

This rare event is more than just an amazing light show and a way of escaping execution by superstitious medievals. It’s also one of the most dramatic pieces of evidence that our planet and solar system were not accidents, but were designed by God.

Sarah Chaffee at Evolution News and Views cites astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez and philosopher Jay Richards, who argue that our place in the cosmos is designed for discovery. That’s the subtitle of their book, “The Privileged Planet,” in which they document how vital total solar eclipses are to science.

For example, these phenomena were key in validating Einstein’s theory of relativity, which predicted that gravity bends light. By observing stars that are invisible except during an eclipse, astronomers were able to watch the sun bend their light, making them appear out of place in the sky, and confirming Einstein’s prediction. Eclipses were also how man first observed solar flares and coronal mass ejections on the surface of the sun. These phenomena are normally invisible to the naked eye, but appear briefly around the edges of the moon during an eclipse.

It turns out the conditions for this dazzling display are incredibly rare. The moon has to be just the right size, orbiting a planet just the right distance from its host star. And it so happens that although the sun is 400 times bigger than the moon, it’s also (coincidence?) 400 times further from us, meaning that the two objects appear roughly the same size in the sky. This allows the moon to block the sun in precisely the right way for scientists to study the solar atmosphere.

Continue reading BreakPoint –  Observatory Earth: Eclipses and Our Privileged Planet

Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – THE ROYAL BEAUTY TREATMENT

Read ESTHER 2:8–14

Elizabeth Arden opened the first modern beauty salon in America in 1910. In 2016, the cosmetic industry in the United States is expected to earn an estimated $62.4 billion. Today, Americans spend more on beauty each year than they do on education.

Today’s passage is all about beauty. Esther was brought to the palace in Susa, one of many who were selected to compete for a desirable position: becoming the next queen (v. 8). But the road to royalty was not easy. Even though it was clear that Esther was naturally beautiful and had won the favor of Hegai, supervisor of the harem, she still had to undergo twelve months of beauty treatments (v. 12).

The verses describe what sounds like a modern-day exclusive spa. Esther was given treatments with oil, myrrh, perfumes, cosmetics, a special diet, and seven female attendants. Due to Hegai’s favor, she was moved into the best place in the king’s harem.

But while everyone fussed over what appeared on the surface of this young woman, there was one thing they did not realize. Esther was a Jew. She had been told by Mordecai to keep her nationality a secret (v. 10). Mordecai continued to demonstrate his love and care for Esther, making sure she was being treated well (v. 11). He alone knew the truth about who she was.

Imagine twelve months of being judged solely on your external appearance, twelve months of rooming with other beautiful women who want to displace you in the king’s favor. Certainly Esther was getting the royal beauty treatment, but she was also enduring scrutiny and judgment and competition, with life- changing stakes. The road ahead would not be easy.


Many of us get discouraged when we look in the mirror. The cosmetics industry thrives on these insecurities. But in Scripture, we read again and again that our God looks beyond the physical. What pleases God is a beautiful heart. Ask God today to create a gentle spirit within you, one that He can use to do His will.


People are talking today about the new Apple iPhone, congressional debates over legislation to battle Zika, and Gretchen Carlson’s $20 million settlement with Fox. But the news that most caught my eye this morning has to do with a movie that won’t be in theaters for two more months.

Hacksaw Ridge is Mel Gibson’s new film. It tells the true story of Desmond Doss, a World War II army medic who refused to bear arms but received the Medal of Honor after he saved dozens of his fellow soldiers. The movie was shown at the Venice International Film Festival last Saturday. According to USA Today, the audience gave Gibson a ten-minute standing ovation when the film ended.

It was my privilege to see Hacksaw Ridge at a private showing a few days ago, then participate in a discussion with Gibson. I don’t remember ever being as moved by a movie as I was by his film. Looking back, I can identify three reasons for my response.

Part of my reaction was the realism with which Gibson depicts the violence of the battle scenes. Hacksaw Ridge is a cliff-like formation on the island of Okinawa, Japan. It was the scene of a two-week struggle between US and Japanese soldiers. Gibson told our group that he depicted the war violence with such realism in order to demonstrate the atrocities Doss faced and the courage he displayed.

A second reason for my visceral reaction is the fact that my father, a World War II veteran, fought with the Army in the South Pacific. He would not discuss what he experienced with our family. Like so many veterans, he could not put into words what he went through. I have visited several World War II museums and had a sense of what the Pacific theater was like, but the movie brought home my father’s suffering in a way that moved me deeply. It made me realize again the immeasurable sacrifice so many continue to make in defending our nation and our freedoms around the world.