Charles Stanley – The Truth About Salvation

Acts 16:31

Do you ever wonder if faith in Jesus is really the only way to be saved? Satan is a crafty liar who will twist God’s Word to cause confusion. In order to steer people away from following Christ, he tries to create the impression that eventually everyone will make it to heaven. But that is not what Scripture teaches.

The truth is, we can choose to reject the salvation that Jesus Christ freely offers. John’s gospel tells us, “God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:17-18).

The Word of God clearly states that whoever believes in Jesus will be saved (John 3:16). The Bible also stresses that we make this choice during our earthly life—there will be no further opportunities once we die.

So if you would like to be sure of your salvation, you can do so by inviting Jesus to be your personal Savior. God, who wants you to spend eternity with Him, offers compelling reasons to make this all-important decision: “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life” (John 3:36).

There are no more chances to place faith in the Savior after death. The free gift of salvation is available only in this life—and only through Jesus (John 14:6). Receive Him now, and you will never have to wonder what awaits you in eternity.

Bible in One Year: Daniel 10-12

 

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Our Daily Bread — A Pleasing Aroma

Read: 2 Corinthians 2:12-17

Bible in a Year: Proverbs 25-26; 2 Corinthians 9

We are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ.—2 Corinthians 2:15

A perfumer who works in New York declares that she can recognize certain combinations of scents and guess the perfumer behind a fragrance. With just a sniff she can say, “This is Jenny’s work.”

When writing to the followers of Christ in the city of Corinth, Paul at one point used an example that would have reminded them of a victorious Roman army in a conquered city burning incense (2 Cor. 2:14). The general would come through first, followed by his troops and then the defeated army. For the Romans, the aroma of the incense meant victory; for the prisoners, it meant death.

Paul said we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ’s victory over sin. God has given us the fragrance of Christ Himself so we can become a sweet-smelling sacrifice of praise. But how can we live so we spread this pleasing fragrance to others? We can show generosity and love, and we can share the gospel with others so they can find the way to salvation. We can allow the Spirit to display through us His gifts of love, joy, and kindness (Gal. 5:22-23).

Do others observe us and say, “This is Jesus’s work”? Are we allowing Him to spread His fragrance through us and then telling others about Him? He is the Ultimate Perfumer—the most exquisite fragrance there will ever be. —Keila Ochoa

Do others recognize the work of God in my life? Am I spreading the fragrance of Christ? How?

A godly life is a fragrance that draws others to Christ.

INSIGHT: Among the ancient Roman military elite, the greatest honor afforded a general was after a military triumph. The general of the victorious army would parade through the streets of Rome as crowds shouted their praise. The aroma of the incense that burned on the altars in the pagan temples would waft over the city during this time of celebration. In today’s reading, Paul uses this picture to describe the triumph we have as believers in Jesus Christ: “But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere” (2 Cor. 2:14). Paul understood that we spread the aroma of the knowledge of Christ to others.

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Permission to Lament

“Lamentation” is not a word that is heard very often. Words like sadness, regret, sorrow, and mourning are far more common. But I wonder if something is not lost in the dismissal of lament from our language and our lives.

The Christian hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” is for me a song of lament. Because of certain associations, it is a song that immediately evokes a sense of grief, and yet it is the sort of mourning that is both held and expressed in worship. Whether the Christian story is one you embrace or not, the connection of these two ideas—worship and lamentation—may seem even more foreign than the word itself. Nonetheless, lamentation as worship was once a significant element in the Judeo/Christian vision and experience of the world.

Worship leader and songwriter Matt Redman was in the United States shortly after the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. Leading worship in several churches in the weeks following, he was immediately struck by the powerful sermons that were being preached, eloquently expressing the love of Father, Son, and Spirit to a shocked and vulnerable people. He was also struck by the distinct lack of songs he had on hand for worship in the midst of suffering. Where were the songwriters for such a time as this? Where were the poets and prophets to help the people of God find a voice in worship? Writes Redman, “As songwriters and lead worshipers, we had a few expressions of hope at our disposal; but when it came to expressions of pain and lament, we had very little vocabulary to give voice to our heart cries.”(1)

Certainly hope is a needed expression, a gift not afforded by every worldview, and lamentation in this sense is similar. But more so, lamentation is a vital aspect of a life in relation with God. Seventy percent of the psalmist’s words are words of lament! “Hear my prayer, O LORD,” the psalmist pleads. “Let my cry for help come to you. Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly. For my days vanish like smoke; my bones burn like glowing embers.” Sadly dissimilar to many public and private expressions of grief, as well as many worship services today, the writers of Scripture identify with the pain of the world and do not hold back in addressing it before a God they believe needs to hear it. For these voices, lament is not a relinquishing of faith, but a cry in worship to the one who weeps with them.

At a funeral once, a fellow mourner caught me with tears in my eyes and told me that neither God nor the one we mourned would want me to cry. Her intentions were good; she meant to encourage me with the powerful hope of the Christian story, which holds at its center a crucified and risen Lord. But I desperately needed permission to lament, permission to look up at the cross with the sorrow of Mary and the uncertainty of the centurion. I needed to be able to ask why with the force that was welling up in that moment of grief, even as I clung to hope in the Son, trust in the Father, and life in the Spirit who holds us.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Permission to Lament

John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Being Filled with the Holy Spirit

“Be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).

God wants every aspect of the believer’s being to be under the complete control of the Holy Spirit.

Pleroo, the basic Greek word for “be filled,” offers three shades of meaning that illustrate what Paul’s command to be Spirit-filled means. First, the word describes the pressure of wind filling a ship’s sails and moving the vessel across the water. That parallels the Holy Spirit’s leading us down the pathway of spiritual obedience. We aren’t primarily motivated by our own plans and desires, but we allow the Spirit’s gracious pressure to move us in the right direction.

The well-known pain reliever Alka-Seltzer effectively illustrates the second meaning, permeation. If you drop two Alka-Seltzers into a glass of water, they immediately fizzle and soon transform themselves into clear bubbles throughout the water and permeate it with a distinct flavor. That’s how God wants the Holy Spirit to fill our lives, so that there will be no doubt in others’ minds that we possess the distinct and pervasive savor of the Spirit.

Pleroo’s third and primary shade of meaning is that of domination or total control. In Luke 6:11 the scribes and Pharisees “were filled with rage” when Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath. Jesus said, “Sorrow has filled your heart” (John 16:6) when He described the disciples’ reaction to the news that He was soon departing. In those two examples, pleroo denotes an emotion that thoroughly dominated the people’s thoughts and excluded everything else.

In regard to earthly concerns, such overwhelming feelings can be wasteful, foolish, and even harmful. But it is beneficial and completely in agreement with the Lord’s will when we yield every thought, feeling, and action to the absolute domination of the Holy Spirit. This yielding will occur in our Christian lives only when we obey another of Paul’s commands, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you” (Col. 3:16). In practice, the Spirit-filled walk is a matter of knowing God’s Word and obeying it.

Continue reading John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Being Filled with the Holy Spirit

Wisdom Hunters – A God Hug

For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Revelation 7:14

A God hug is a timely gift. His hugs soothe, comfort and calm. He is never late in offering His affection or too busy to stand still and embrace His human creation. The Spirit gently caresses burdened shoulders and rubs out raw pain from the backs of believers. His compassion has never failed. His mercy is fresh every day. Like a cool cream alleviates an itchy rash, so His balm of grace relieves a rash of worries. A God hug holds on until healing occurs. He holds on tight.

The Lamb Jesus, serves as the Great Shepherd who will tenderly lead those who have suffered to springs of living water. Though He is the sovereign judge, and Lion of Judah—Jesus continues to  shepherd His sheep, whose hearts are heavy and hurting. Tears trickle into the hands of the One who holds the world in His hands and wipes away weeping with His gentle touch. Sheep who look to their compassionate Shepherd for care—will not despair—but be aware of His secure affection.

“For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones” (Isaiah 49:13).

A God hug does not happen on the run, but when we stand still. ‘Slow down my child,’ He says, ‘Hush, I have this,’ ‘Be still, let Me hold you.’ ‘Rest in My arms.’ So we learn to stay stationary by faith and trust the right activities will get done in the right time. When we schedule appointments to be loved by the Lord, we receive strength for the journey. Otherwise we exhaust our ability to encourage without the infusion of Christ’s courage. His hugs hearten. The Lord comforts us, so we can comfort others.

Shout for joy in praise to your Creator for His comfort and compassion. Brag on His name and extol Him for His divine affection. Like the father of the prodigal son who returned home, your Father in Heaven can’t wait to embrace you in your shame, stress or success. He runs to greet you with warm acceptance, so throw yourself into His arms. Cast your cares on Christ and abandon your life to the Lord. Invite His affections to become your affections. Yes, enjoy His sweet embrace!

“I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow” (Jeremiah 31:13).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I receive your love and affection. Thanks for your comforting hugs just when I need them.

Application: What hurt is in need of a hug from my compassionate heavenly Father? Who needs a reassuring hug of comfort from me?

Related Readings: Psalm 23:4; Jeremiah 8:18; Zechariah 10:2; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

 

http://www.wisdomhunters.com/

Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – Be Strong and Do It!

Be strong and of good courage, and do it; do not fear nor be dismayed.

1 Chronicles 28:20

Recommended Reading

1 Chronicles 28:20-21

Near the end of his life, evangelist George Whitefield grew weak but refused to give up. His prayer was: “Lord, I am weary in Thy work but not of Thy work. If I have not yet finished my course, let me go and speak for Thee once more in the fields….” Writing to a friend, Whitefield said, “O to stand fast in the faith…and be strong.”

That’s what we need too—the determination to stand strong till the end. Scripture repeatedly counsels us to take courage and be strong. We may become weary while serving the Lord, but we mustn’t grow weary of serving the Lord. We’re to follow the sample of David, who, in a time of crisis, “strengthened himself in the LORD his God” (1 Samuel 30:6).

Later, in 1 Chronicles 28:20, David advised Solomon to keep going in the strength of the Lord. The New International Version translates 1 Chronicles 28:20 like this: “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you.”

Be strong and courageous today, and He will strengthen your hands.

What! Get to heaven on your own strength? Why, you might as well try to climb to the moon on a rope of sand!

George Whitefield

Read-Thru-the-Bible

Hosea 10 – 14

 

http://www.davidjeremiah.org/

Joyce Meyer – Changes: Oh, the Possibilities!

My father became a Christian when he was 83 years old. There were many times throughout the years when I thought, “He will never change!” But I kept praying for him. And thank God, eventually, he did change—he experienced the greatest transformation of all.

My father became a Christian when he was 83 years old. There were many times throughout the years when I thought, “He will never change!” But I kept praying for him. And thank God, eventually, he did change—he experienced the greatest transformation of all.

To be transformed means you are changed entirely from the inside out. When we become born-again Christians, 2 Corinthians 5:17 (AMP) says we are “a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!”

The Holy Spirit comes to live in us, and He works in us—transforming our mind, will and emotions—so we become more like Jesus day by day. As we grow spiritually, the good work that’s happening inside us can be seen through the way we live, and we become testimonies of what God has done.

Sadly, many times people don’t believe they can be completely changed. And often they don’t believe other people can change. But the only thing that never changes is God (Hebrews 13:8). And He wants us to dare to believe that He “is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]” (Ephesians 3:20 AMP).

The question is what are you expecting God to do for you? Maybe you’re having a hard time believing that your kids can change, your marriage can improve or that you can ever lose weight, get a better job or get completely out of debt.

But Jeremiah 29:11 says God’s thoughts and plans for us are “for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.” He has a good plan for you, and you can dare to believe He can heal you anywhere you hurt and help you with every problem you face. It’s time to start expecting more from God than you’ve ever believed He would do for you before.

Continue reading Joyce Meyer – Changes: Oh, the Possibilities!

Girlfriends in God – Grace Times Grace

Friday Friend

Today’s Truth

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

2 Peter 1:2

Friend to Friend

When my daughter Noelle was in 3rd grade, she had a clever multiplication exercise called “Minuto Loco” which means crazy minute in Spanish.

The kids had to see how many multiplication problems they could solve in one minute. The first “Minuto Loco” exercise was on the twos. Once they mastered the twos, they could move on to threes and so forth.

But my daughter had a problem. She was getting stuck after only a few seconds and her incomplete sheet bore testimony that multiplication was not her favorite subject. Most of her other classmates were at a higher number than she was.

My husband James went into full-on tutor mode. He made flashcards. He printed out multiplication practice sheets. Each weeknight, he would drill Noelle for a few minutes.

Maybe you are facing a problem like my daughter Noelle. You’re completely stumped. You have problems at work. You’re wondering how to fulfill all your commitments and remain sane. You wish things were better with a friend or family member. Thinking of solutions is like staring at a blank piece of paper. The good news is you are not alone. You have a tutor in the Holy Spirit who can teach, comfort, and guide you.

Invite God’s multiplication to work in your favor.

Grace times grace. Grace may be defined as the unmerited or undeserving favor of God to those who are under condemnation.

Peace times peace. Peace is the concept of being complete or sound. It’s not just the absence of hostility; it’s the presence of harmony and living well. The Apostle Peter greeted believers with the words “Grace and peace be multiplied to you.” He knew the believers needed that encouragement and likewise, modern believers do too.

Continue reading Girlfriends in God – Grace Times Grace

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The Bond of Love

“Let me assure you that no one has ever given up anything – home, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, or property – for love of Me and to tell others the Good News, who won’t be given back, a hundred times over, homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and land – with persecution! All these will be his here on earth, and in the world to come he shall have eternal life” (Mark 10:29,30).

Having admonished His disciples to follow Him even at the cost of leaving everything – including mothers and families – behind, Christ is now affirming His consistency with the disciples. Obviously He loved His own mother dearly – one of His last acts before He died on the cross was to be sure that the apostle John would take care of her. Yet the bond of love which Jesus felt toward His disciples, a bond which continues today toward those who truly seek Him with all their hearts, transcends even the bond of love which one experiences in flesh-and-blood relationships, unless those relationships are also rooted in the love of Christ.

Romans 5:8 explains the basis for this bond. The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit ignites the hearts of true disciples with supernatural love, (agape)in action. That bond of love builds a spiritual family relationship that transcends all others, a relationship that is truly supernatural. In this way our Lord fulfills His promise that everything that is given up to follow Him will be given back a hundred times over in this life.

Bible Reading: Matthew 12:46-50

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: In every way I will seek to obey the commands of my Father in heaven with the certainty that greater bonds of love will unite my heart with many brothers and sisters. This will demonstrate to the world the validity of the revolutionary, supernatural power of the love of God ignited in our hearts through the Holy Spirit.

 

http://www.cru.org

Ray Stedman – True Baptism

Read: Romans 6:3-7

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. Romans 6:3-4

It is always interesting to me that when some people hear the word baptism they immediately smell water. When I was a boy in Montana, I had a horse that could smell water from farther away than any animal I ever saw. There are people who are like that. Whenever they read these passages, and see the word baptism, they smell water, but there is no water here. This is a dry passage.

This passage is dealing, of course, with the question of how we died to sin, how we became separated from being in Adam, how we became joined in Christ. No water can do that. That requires something far more potent than water. It is, therefore, a description for us of what is called the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and we were all given the one Spirit to drink, (1 Corinthians 12:13). He says twice that all believers were baptized into one body. We were placed into Christ. You are not a Christian if that isn’t true of you. People today who say you need to experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit after you become a believer do not understand the Scriptures. There is no way to become a believer without being baptized with the Spirit.

Notice some things that Paul says about the baptism of the Spirit in this passage: First, he says that we are expected to know about it. Don’t you know… Paul asks. He expects these Roman Christians, who had never met him or been taught personally by him, to know this fact. It is something new Christians ought to know.

Continue reading Ray Stedman – True Baptism

Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Softness

Read: Psalm 65:1-13

You water its furrows . . . softening it with showers. (v. 10)

Halfway through our poem we come to five one-word definitions of prayer. The first is perhaps the oddest: “softness” can have such a negative ring to it—think of phrases like soft in the head, a soft defense, soft in the middle—and the “soft clothing” that characterizes the kind of people among whom (Jesus suggests) his coarsely clad preacher cousin John is unlikely to be welcomed (Luke 7:25). Is softness really to be one of our main objects in praying?

But then consider the opposite: not things that are already soft, but hard things that need “softening.” Here prayer comes into its own. It can deal with hard hearts. It can unravel hard problems. It can break up hard ground. It can answer hard questions. It can put a smile on hard faces. It can nerve the Lord’s people to face hard, indeed impossible, challenges.

We find this “softness” metaphor in the last part of Psalm 65. It belongs to the way the Lord manages the agricultural year for the benefit of those who farm his land. In the middle part of the psalm we have already been shown the worldwide scope of his operations, a vast management scheme of which Israel is only the local expression. And amazingly, the One who carries out all this “softening” is (as the opening verses have already told us) the God who has placed the center of his worldwide operations right here among us, in Zion.

Here is the poem in its entirety:

Continue reading Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Softness

Greg Laurie – Shine God’s Light on It

But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.—Ephesians 5:13

When you lose something, you turn on the light. I am always losing things in my car. When my keys or wallet (or maybe a burrito!) drops between the seats, sometimes I have to get a flashlight out and search under the seats until I find it. Light exposes things.

I heard a story of a drunk man who was down on his hands and knees under a streetlight looking for something. A stranger came up to him and asked what he was doing. He said, “I lost my wallet.”

“And you lost your wallet right here?” the stranger asked.

“No,” the drunken man said, “I lost it two blocks over, but there is no light there.”

Looking for something in the wrong place is not a good idea, is it? You need to look in the right place—and the right place to look when your marriage is facing problems is the Scriptures.

Sometimes when a marriage is having troubles, the couple goes for counseling. I am for that—as long as it is biblical counseling. Counsel that originates from human thought and reasoning is not going to help. You must get counsel from the Word of God, for He is the One who created marriage.

Here’s something else to keep in mind. Just because a person says they are a Christian counselor doesn’t necessarily mean they are giving biblical counsel. I have often heard advice from “Christian counselors” that is contradictory to what the Bible says. The true counsel of God comes from His written Word, the Bible.

“But what if you don’t agree with what the Bible says?” you ask. Simple answer: Change your opinion because the Bible is right and, if you don’t agree with it, you are wrong.

If you want a successful marriage, shine the light of God’s Word on it.

 

https://www.harvest.org/

Kids 4 Truth International – Christ Suffered To Bring Us to God

“For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” (1 Peter 3:17-18)

Have you ever “suffered”? Some children have. You, or someone you know, may be fighting a battle against a painful disease. Some children have suffered under physical or emotional abuse. Maybe that has happened to you. Or maybe you have lost a friend or a loved one to death. You may have heard of families who have been persecuted for worshipping the God of the Bible.

But most children have not seen heavy, hard suffering – at least, not yet. Suffering is intense pain that we feel, either on the inside or outside. You might look and feel fine externally (on the outside), but you might be suffering on the inside, in your heart.

Very few people like suffering! Think about it. Let’s say you are sitting in a lawn chair, sipping pink lemonade under the hot sun, when – all of the sudden – you hear a strange, yet familiar buzzing sound near your right arm. What!? It’s a bee! A very large bee with a very sharp-looking stinger on his backside! What is your first reaction? Do you calmly say, “Mr. Big Scary Bee, sir, please do not poke me today with that painful stinger of yours! I’m right in the middle of my lemonade!”? No! You would probably jump out of your lawn chair really fast, screaming and swatting and running around in circles until you were sure Mr. Big Scary Bee, sir, had gone bye-bye!

Why is that your response? Because you hate pain. You dread it. You would never seek after it. You would be crazy if you did. Humanly speaking, suffering is always a bad thing! We never enjoy pain, and we always try to get out of it if we can!

Continue reading Kids 4 Truth International – Christ Suffered To Bring Us to God

The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Word of His Grace

Today’s Scripture: Acts 20:32

“I commend you . . . to the word of his grace.”

We need to get beyond the “how-to’s” of Scripture—how to raise children, manage finances, witness to unbelievers—and all other such utilitarian approaches to Scripture. Such practical instruction is indeed valuable, but we need to go beyond that. Our practical age has come to disparage a firm doctrinal understanding of Scripture as being of no practical value. But there’s nothing more practical for our daily lives than knowing God. Only in Scripture has God revealed to us the truths about his person and his character.

But the Bible is more than merely objective truth; it’s actually life-giving and life-sustaining. “It is no empty word for you, but your very life” (Deuteronomy 32:47). Growth in the grace of God requires growth in our assimilation of the Word of God. In the biological realm, assimilation is the process by which nourishment is changed into living tissue. In the spiritual realm, it’s the process by which the written Word of God is absorbed into our hearts and becomes, figuratively speaking, living spiritual tissue.

How do we know God’s grace is sufficient for our particular “thorns”? How do we rightly understand what it means to live “by the grace of God”? How do we learn about the “throne of grace” where we receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need? Where do we discover that God is the gracious landowner who gives us far, far more than we deserve? The answer to all these questions is the Scriptures. That’s why Scripture is called the Word of his grace. God uses Scripture to mediate his grace to us. R. C. H. Lenski said, “God and the Word of his grace always go together; God lets his grace flow out through that Word.” (Excerpt taken from Transforming Grace)

 

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The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Word of His Grace

Today’s Scripture: Acts 20:32

“I commend you . . . to the word of his grace.”

We need to get beyond the “how-to’s” of Scripture—how to raise children, manage finances, witness to unbelievers—and all other such utilitarian approaches to Scripture. Such practical instruction is indeed valuable, but we need to go beyond that. Our practical age has come to disparage a firm doctrinal understanding of Scripture as being of no practical value. But there’s nothing more practical for our daily lives than knowing God. Only in Scripture has God revealed to us the truths about his person and his character.

But the Bible is more than merely objective truth; it’s actually life-giving and life-sustaining. “It is no empty word for you, but your very life” (Deuteronomy 32:47). Growth in the grace of God requires growth in our assimilation of the Word of God. In the biological realm, assimilation is the process by which nourishment is changed into living tissue. In the spiritual realm, it’s the process by which the written Word of God is absorbed into our hearts and becomes, figuratively speaking, living spiritual tissue.

How do we know God’s grace is sufficient for our particular “thorns”? How do we rightly understand what it means to live “by the grace of God”? How do we learn about the “throne of grace” where we receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need? Where do we discover that God is the gracious landowner who gives us far, far more than we deserve? The answer to all these questions is the Scriptures. That’s why Scripture is called the Word of his grace. God uses Scripture to mediate his grace to us. R. C. H. Lenski said, “God and the Word of his grace always go together; God lets his grace flow out through that Word.” (Excerpt taken from Transforming Grace)

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BreakPoint –  Muslims, Mosques, and Religious Freedom: Christians Must Take a Stand

On the fifteenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, an arsonist set fire to the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce in Florida. The Islamic Center was the mosque attended by Omar Mateen, who massacred 50 people at the Pulse night club in Orlando three months ago.

One state over in Georgia, officials in Newton County, which has a “places of worship” exception to zoning regulations designed to “make things easy for anyone who wanted to build a church,” cancelled a meeting in which they expected to approve the building of a mosque.

The reason for the cancellation was that a “self-described militia group from a nearby county posted a video on Facebook threatening to demonstrate outside the meeting with guns drawn.”

Now, no one remotely acquainted with BreakPoint or the Colson Center can reasonably accuse us of being indifferent to the threat posed by militant Islamists. We’ve talked here about it often, including the persecution of Christians around the world, the global struggle with Islamic terrorism, and the worldview of those seeking to kill so many.

Having said that, let me be clear: Christians should oppose and condemn those recent actions in both Florida and Georgia for several reasons. These reasons fall into two basic categories: principled and pragmatic.

The principled reason was articulated clearly, just recently, by Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention. As Moore reminded us “religious liberty is not a government ‘benefit,’ but a natural and inalienable right granted by God. At issue is whether or not the civil state has the power to zone mosques or Islamic cemeteries or synagogues or houses of worship of whatever kind out of existence because of what those groups believe.”

“When Christians say,” Moore continued, “that freedom of religion applies to all people, whether Christian or not, we are not suggesting that there are many paths to God, or that truth claims are relative.”

On the contrary, “We are saying that religion should be free from state control because we believe that every person must give an account before the Judgment Seat of Christ.”

Continue reading BreakPoint –  Muslims, Mosques, and Religious Freedom: Christians Must Take a Stand

The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Motivating One Another

Today’s Scripture: Hebrews 8-10

I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong. – Romans 1:11

From time to time I’m asked what I’ve found to be the most important principles of Christian living. Of course, the answer could be approached from many angles, but when it comes to our daily walk of discipleship, I usually talk about three principles of living from Hebrews 10 that begin with the two words, “Let us.”

First, there is Hebrews 10:22: “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.” This has to do with our fellowship with God. We can call it quiet time, personal devotions, or whatever. The important thing is to set aside time each day to draw near to the Lord.

Verse 23 gives the second “Let us”: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess.” This deals with our outreach to the lost through personal witness. We are to hold the confession of our faith high like a banner, never growing silent, and never denying the Lord who has bought us for Himself.

Verse 24 gives the third principle: “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” We are to encourage and motivate each other in the Christian life. And, of course, one of the best ways to do that is to meet together regularly to worship God and get instruction from His Word.

The Christian life is personal, but it is not private. We are an interdependent body. And this call to be a spiritual motivator is given to all of us, not just the church leadership or full-time Christian worker.

Prayer

Lord, thank You for the encouragement You give me through my brothers and sisters in Christ. Amen.

To Ponder

Let us draw near to God; let us hold up our witness; let us encourage one another.

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – APPROACHING THE THRONE

Read ESTHER 5:1–8

In September 2016, a group of middle- school students in St. Augustine, Fla., were chosen to meet with royalty. Their artwork was presented as a gift to the king and queen of Spain, who included the historic American city on their royal tour. The children wore their nicest clothes and were visibly awestruck by the experience. Said Caitlyn, one of the student artists, “I was really excited, and I didn’t know what to think or expect.”

An invitation to meet royalty is not to be taken lightly. Even though she was queen, Esther waited three days before approaching the king (v. 1). She adorned her royal robes but did not approach the king directly. Instead, she stood nearby where he would be able to see her (v. 2). The tension builds in the text: we know that Xerxes thought highly of Esther, but we still breathe a sigh of relief when he extended his scepter, a sign that she was welcome to approach the throne.

We learn a few things about Esther from this passage. First, we see that she was respectful. She took care in approaching his throne, wearing appropriate outfits and waiting until he addressed her first. Second, she was patient. She did not rush to give the king her request, even though the urgency was weighing on her mind. Instead, she asked that Haman and the king join her for a banquet (v. 4).

At the banquet, the king once again extended a generous offer, “up to half the kingdom” (v. 6). Instead of bursting forth with a plea, Esther exhibited grace and patience. She asked the king and Haman to attend yet another banquet the following day. Esther was beautiful and smart, and also gracious, respectful, and patient. She proceeded thoughtfully, knowing many lives depended on her success.

APPLY THE WORD

How wonderful that we can approach the throne of grace without intimidation or fear. We should never take it for granted that we have been invited to talk one-on-one with God, the all-powerful King of the universe, at any time. We have an all-access pass to the throne room of the King. Thank Him today and bring Him your concerns.

 

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Denison Forum – US RELIGION WORTH $1.2 TRILLION

It’s not often that an academic report changes the conversation about religion in America, but one just did. Georgetown University professors Brian Grim and Melissa Grim of the Newseum Institute have unveiled their groundbreaking study: “The Socio-economic Contributions of Religion to American Society: An Empirical Analysis.” Here’s the summary:

  • Religion in the US contributes $1.2 trillion each year to our economy and society.
  • Despite declining religious affiliation in the American population, religious organizations have tripled the amount of money spent on social programs in the last fifteen years—to $9 billion.
  • Religion’s $1.2 trillion impact is more than the annual revenues of Apple, Amazon, and Google combined.

The study notes that congregations and religiously affiliated charity groups are responsible for:

  • 130,000 alcohol and drug abuse recovery programs.
  • 94,000 programs to support veterans and their families.
  • 26,000 programs to prevent HIV/AIDS and to support those living with the disease.
  • 121,000 programs to provide support or skills training for unemployed adults.

While religion contributes $1.2 trillion each year, religious tax-exemptions cost the US $71 billion. In other words, religion contributes seventeen times more to America than it costs.

This good news comes as we are facing unprecedented attacks on religious liberty and increasing skepticism regarding our contribution to the common good. For instance, 63 percent of atheists and agnostics believe that religious institutions contribute not much or nothing at all to solving social problems.

Continue reading Denison Forum – US RELIGION WORTH $1.2 TRILLION