Charles Stanley – Commitment on Trial


Genesis 22:4-18

Abraham began walking with the Lord many years before he was asked to offer Isaac on the altar. His first step had been to leave his home and relatives and go to a land God pledged to show him. But now he was being told to give up the person he cherished most. Isaac was the son of promise, the one through whom God would bring forth a great nation and bless the entire world. Offering Isaac up was the biggest challenge Abraham had ever faced, yet he obeyed.

The Lord never allows us to rest on a spiritual plateau. That’s why He at times tests our commitment. These stretching opportunities are an expression of His love because He knows that standing still is not what’s best for us. The testing is designed to help us grow in faith, obedience, and spiritual maturity while increasing our dedication. That is the way we become valuable servants in His kingdom.

Abraham’s obedience to this crucial test was determined by his understanding of God. He believed that the Lord would keep His promise to give him descendants through Isaac, even if it required raising the boy from the dead (Heb. 11:17-19). That’s why Abraham confidently declared to his servants, “We will worship and return to you” (Gen. 22:5). He knew the Lord was faithful.

If you’re going through a time of testing, God is seeking to raise your commitment to a new level. He wants to prove to you that He’s faithful to His promises and will greatly bless you for your obedience. The stretching may be painful, but He will wrap you in His love and carry you to victory.

Bible in One Year: Jonah 1-4

Our Daily Bread — Words for the Weary

Read: Isaiah 50:4-10

Bible in a Year: Song of Solomon 1-3; Galatians 2

The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary.—Isaiah 50:4

A few days after his father died, 30-year-old C. S. Lewis received a letter from a woman who had cared for his mother during her illness and death more than two decades earlier. The woman offered her sympathy for his loss and wondered if he remembered her. “My dear Nurse Davison,” Lewis replied. “Remember you? I should think I do.”

Lewis recalled how much her presence in their home had meant to him as well as to his brother and father during a difficult time. He thanked her for her words of sympathy and said, “It is really comforting to be taken back to those old days. The time during which you were with my mother seemed very long to a child and you became part of home.”

When we struggle in the circumstances of life, an encouraging word from others can lift our spirits and our eyes to the Lord. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah wrote, “The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary” (50:4). And when we look to the Lord, He offers words of hope and light in the darkness. —David McCasland

Heavenly Father, help me to hear Your word of hope today. And help me to speak words of hope and encouragement to others, pointing them to You.

Kind words can lift a heavy heart.

INSIGHT: The Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary gives this description of Jesus Christ as the Suffering Servant: “[In Isaiah 50:1-11] it is revealed how the Servant learned through his own rejection to comfort the weary and discouraged. The phrase ‘Sovereign Lord’ occurs four times and may be better translated ‘My Master God.’ It emphasized that the Servant had a Master (God) to whom he submitted and in whom he found help. The ‘words of wisdom’ (50:4) was a reference to his speaking or prophetic ministry. The followers of the Servant were called upon to trust in God, who would bring judgment upon the disobedient (50:10-11).”

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Non-Answers and Hope

In the fifteen seasons of the television series ER, there is one scene for me that uncomfortably stands out among the many. In a hospital bed rests a former prison doctor named Truman, ridden with cancer and laden with guilt. Julia, the ER chaplain, sits beside him, trying with great compassion to listen, and being slower to give answers than he’d like. One of Truman’s roles as a prison doctor was to administer lethal injections to those who were sentenced to die. With great torment, he remembers one man in particular who did not die after the injection and needed to be given a second round. Looking back, Truman believes it was a sign from God, a sign which he ignored and would never be able to undo; the man he injected was later found to have been innocent, framed for the crime for which he was killed.

Now desperate for answers—blunt and solid answers—Truman reels at Julia for the uncertain comforts she attempts to offer. “I need answers, and all your questions and your uncertainty are only making things worse!” he yells. But in his last, livid outburst he is even more honest: “I need someone who will look me in the eye and tell me how to find forgiveness, because I am running out of time.”(1)

The problem of injustice and the difficulty of forgiveness are specters often met with cries for answers. Christians who attempt to respond at all often invoke the story of Job, for in it, the questions of injustice reel like Truman in his hospital bed, and unexpected answers from God counter in a way we never fathomed. The story begins with an accusation that Job only serves God because God has allowed him to prosper. To prove Job’s accuser wrong, God steps back, removing divine protection and leaving the tempter to his destructive game. Job loses everything; he writhes in his own anguish, confusion, and ashes. In the end, he remains in his belief of God, though limping with his weighted questions, and he encounters God without pretense.

Former evangelist turned atheist Charles Templeton heard the story similarly, but thoroughly detested the idea that the tormented Job is an answer to anything at all. Templeton held that the story of Job reveled God as a “cruel and callous despot” and for him the story was anything but an answer to suffering.(2) His anger is often pointed at the seeming attempt to speak into pain and suffering at all, to make sense of that which often cannot be explained, and to bring God into it in a way that is meant to trump the cry for answers: “[The story of Job] is an immoral story and it portrays an immoral God.”(3)

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Non-Answers and Hope

John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Guaranteed Heavenly Glory

“And if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow-heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him” (Romans 8:17).

The Holy Spirit confirms within our hearts the hope of eternal glory.

I believe people today instinctively know they are devoid of glory (see Rom. 1:18-21), but they explore all the wrong avenues in seeking to regain it. They look for personal glory by building successful careers, spending many hours in community service, being generous to charities, and so forth. But such efforts only lead to jealousy and pride. Unregenerate men and women simply cannot know the glory that was present before the Fall.

However, there is coming a day when believers will be transformed fully into Christ’s likeness, having a complete reflection of God’s glory. We will receive a perfect, radiant glory that is far better than the glory Adam and Eve knew in the Garden of Eden before they sinned.

Glorification completes the reality of salvation. From before the foundation of the world, the Lord planned to save those who believe and conform them to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29-30). Therefore, every believer lives in the hope of future glory, a hope best summarized by the following two verses: “As for me, I shall behold Thy face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Thy likeness when I awake” (Ps. 17:15). “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2).

The Holy Spirit guides us through different levels of glory while we are still on earth. As we consider the glory of the Lord, the Spirit gradually restores the honor we lost in the Fall. He encourages us by restoring our dignity. Salvation is the path to glory, and once we start down that path we will come to its final goal, which is being fully conformed to the image and glory of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3:18).

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray that you would be content in allowing the Spirit to help you realize God’s glory.

For Further Study

Mark 9:1-8 contains an account of Christ’s transfiguration.

  • How was this event a preview of future glory?
  • How was it unlike anything the disciples had seen (v. 3)?
  • How did Peter reflect the other disciples’ amazement (vv. 5-6)?

Wisdom Hunters – Delayed Repentance Escalates Discipline 

The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down on the earth. A third of the earth was burned up. Revelation 8:7

Spiritual fruit from the past is no substitute for fruit produced in the present. Praise God for our faithful ancestors of the faith, but their fruit was for their time. The Spirit of God looks to harvest fruit of repentance for this generation. The good old days of spiritual renewal are inspiring to reminisce upon, but today the Lord calls those of us with a little gray hair to grow up in His grace. We who identify with Jesus have a significant role and responsibility to produce fruit of repentance.

Those who ignore spiritual fruit bearing in this life will experience the severe discipline of the Lord in the next life. Indeed, as we close in on Christ’s second coming, it is imperative we are prepared to meet our Maker with lives that reflect God’s standards, not the anemic morality of a sick society. The picture of a world that rejects repentance of sin and turning to Jesus is not a pretty site: the discipline of the Lord on unrepentant sinners will escalate across a scorched earth.

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).

How do we know if we produce fruit of repentance? Private belief for salvation and public confession in baptism are the first fruits of repentance, but just the beginning point. The ongoing fruit bearing process is a lifetime of leaning into the Lord. The Spirit reminds us when we drift into bad habits or wrong thinking. We confess spiritual pride and remember that only by the grace of God can we do good. We turn from self righteousness and turn to God’s righteousness.

What is the proof of fruit produced by repentance? Good deeds from a heart of humility and grace are fruit that glorifies God. Your Spirit-filled actions of abstinence, generosity, tutoring, public service, faith sharing, foster care and orphan adoption please your Heavenly Father. Jesus smiles when you are hospitable or when you visit the sick or those in prison. Your authentic repentance keeps you broken to care for the broken. What breaks God’s heart breaks your heart!

“I [Paul] preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds” (Acts 26:20).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, grow in me a humble heart that is quick to confess and repent of my sin.

Application: What do I need to repent of and turn to the Lord for forgiveness and the faith to produce good deeds?

Related Readings: Deuteronomy 4:30; Jeremiah 18:11; Luke 3:8-9;  Galatians 3:7

Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – Two Addresses

For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, with Him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

Isaiah 57:15

Recommended Reading

Isaiah 57:15-21

Baby boomers are retiring at a rate of 10,000 per day, and many of them can afford second homes. For some, it’s an investment, providing rental income or real estate value. Others enjoy the fun of living part time in a vacation-oriented area.

According to Isaiah 57, God has two addresses. He dwells in two places. His heavenly home is a high and holy place where He fills the highest heaven with His glory. His throne reigns supreme in the center of Zion, ruling over the physical and spiritual realms of His creation.

But He also lives in the hearts of His humble people; and when He dwells within us, He revives us. His presence restores our souls. His abiding Spirit within us radiates enthusiasm, peace, joy, gentleness, and the very character of Christ.

We cannot lift ourselves to heaven to draw God down, but He comes willingly, gladly, and in grace. He gladly moves into our hearts and makes us His temples.

The great God, who is big enough to fill His mighty universe, is small enough to live within my heart. I am the temple of God. He literally dwells in me. Hallelujah!

Adrian Rogers


Micah 5 – 7

Joyce Meyer – It’s Impossible for Love to Fail

But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.- Matthew 5:44

It is difficult to keep showing love to those individuals who take from us all we are willing to give and who never give anything back. But I want to encourage you not to give up. We are not responsible for how others act, only how we act.

The truth is that God did not give up on us. How could He? He is love, and love never quits— aren’t you thankful for that? Love is always right there, doing its job. Love knows that if it refuses to quit, it will ultimately win the victory.

Some people may refuse to receive our love no matter what we do. But that does not mean that love has failed. Love upholds us. It gives us joy. It pleases God when we walk in love.

Prayer of Thanks: Father, when I am faced with a person who doesn’t seem to receive love, help me to keep showing them love anyway. I know that no act of love is ever wasted. Thank You that love never fails.

From the book The Power of Being Thankful by Joyce Meyer

Girlfriends in God – Finding God in the Dry of Your Drought

Today’s Truth

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

Hebrews 10:23

Friend to Friend

Now, the Old Testament prophet Elijah is a guy I can relate to. God asked him to do and say some difficult things. He also got an all-access pass to the God-Is-Awesome show as he experienced epic miracles at the hand of the Almighty. Even so, at one point he became gripped by fear and tried to run away from his problems. He knew exhaustion and sank into a pit of depression that darkened his hope. He felt alone, yet was provided for when God sent angels to care for his every need. At times Elijah found God in grandiose shouts and flames, but also heard from Him in a humble whisper. And through all his highs and lows, he loved and served God. Yes. I can relate to this guy. He’s my kind of people.

The story of Elijah begins in 1 King 17 when God sent the prophet to give a bold message to King Ahab, the reigning King of Israel who had been doing evil in the eyes of the Lord.

“Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, ‘As the LORD, the God of Israel lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.’” (1 Kings 17:1)

Then, at the prompting of the Lord, Elijah went into hiding – first in the Kerith Ravine.

At the ravine, just east of the Jordan, God miraculously made sure His prophet had water from a brook and food from ravens. How crazy is that? Birds brought dinner to the man every night. Birds! Love it. God is Jehovah Jireh, our Provider.

I think it’s important to point out here that even Elijah, God’s faithful servant and great prophet, had to endure the drought. He was provided for, but not kept from the strain and struggle just because he was living for God. Deep thirst, hard times, and hunger impacted Elijah’s days just like those of the rebellious Israelites. Just like yours and mine. Jesus spoke of this reality in Matthew 5:45 when He said that God “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Droughts and difficulties are a reality for all of us.

Continue reading Girlfriends in God – Finding God in the Dry of Your Drought

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He’s in the Midst

“For where two or three gather together because they are Mine, I will be right there among them” (Matthew 18:20).

What better proof is there of the fact that Jesus is God, that He is omnipresent? As you and I gather with our little groups – whether two or three, or 200 – Jesus is there in the midst. And at the same time that wonderful promise applies to similar groups in Africa, Israel, China and anywhere else!

This general assertion is made to support the particular promise made to his apostles in verse 19. Those who meet in His name can be sure He is among them.

An omniscient, omnipotent God – and His Son Jesus Christ – are omnipresent (everywhere present at the same time)! What a glorious truth! Let your imagination soar: among the Masai tribe in Kenya, Africa, or the Quechua Indians in Ecuador – if they are meeting in that name which is above every name, even Jesus Christ our Lord, He is right there meeting with them.

Equally important, you and one or two friends meeting together in His name can have the assurance that He is right there meeting with you as well. And you can feel His presence – especially as you acknowledge the fact that He is there and begin to worship Him for who and what He is.

Joy of joys, God and Jesus Christ who meet with missionaries and national believers on the field and with church leaders in their councils also meet with you and me today.

Bible Reading: Acts 20:32-38

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will look for new opportunities to invoke His presence in my midst by fellowshipping with other believers in His name.

Ray Stedman – The Spirit and the Body

Read: Romans 8:8-13

But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Romans 8:10-11

Notice the helpful teaching about the Spirit here. He is called the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ. Then it is made clear that the Spirit actually is the means by which Jesus Christ himself is in us. By means of the Holy Spirit, Christ is in you. And if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin.

The problem is, our bodies are yet unredeemed. As a consequence, they are the seat of the sin that troubles us so. And the sin that is in us — still there in our bodies — affects the body. That is why the body lusts, the body loves comfort, and the body seeks after pleasure; that is why our minds and attitudes react with hate and bitterness and resentment and hostility. Sin finds its seat in the body. That is why our bodies keep growing old. They are dying, dead, because of sin.

But that is not the final answer for the Christian. The spirit in the Christian is alive because of the gift of righteousness. Christ has come in and we are linked with him. Paul puts it so beautifully in Second Corinthians 4:16: Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. That is the joy of being a Christian. Though the body, with the sin that is within it, is giving us trouble and difficulty, tempting us, confounding us at times, nevertheless, the spirit is alive because of righteousness. Sin has its seat in the actual physical body, and it rises up like a powerful beast. But we have an answer. It is put very beautifully in First John 4:4: The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world, (1 John 4:4). The Spirit of God within us is stronger than the sin that is in our bodies. Therefore in Christ, we have strength to control the body.

Unfortunately, many of the commentators say that verse 11 refers to the promise of the resurrection at the end of life, when God is going to make our bodies alive. But that is not what Paul is saying. He is talking about the Spirit in us, giving life to our mortal bodies. A mortal body is not yet dead. A mortal body is one that is subject to death. It is dying, but it is not yet dead. Therefore, this is not talking about the resurrection. Later on Paul will come to that, but here he is talking about what the Spirit does in us now. He says that though sin in our mortal bodies is going to tempt us severely, and at times rise up with great power, we must never forget that because our human spirit has been made alive in Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of God himself dwells in us, we have the strength to say, No! to that expression of evil.

Continue reading Ray Stedman – The Spirit and the Body

Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Heaven in Ordinary

Read: Luke 1:39-45

Why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? (v. 43)

“In ordinary” is in any case an unusual turn of phrase; but “heaven in ordinary” is even more puzzling. What does it mean, and what does it have to do with prayer?

Of course praying people repeatedly find “heavenly” truths becoming real in “ordinary” life. That is a wonderful experience, and a great privilege. But the words “in ordinary” represent something more than that. In fact a dictionary may give us half a dozen different meanings for “ordinary.” I think it is very possible that the meaning in Herbert’s mind, writing as he was in 17th-century England, was one in regular use in those times; a more specific, and more commonplace, reference. An “ordinary” in Herbert’s day was a tavern or other place that served meals. Here you are, having a routine lunch with a friend or two in your local diner, and the Queen of England stops by, and asks, “May I join you?” Heaven in ordinary.

The experience shared by the two remarkable women in our reading—relatives, one old, one young—was a miraculous pregnancy. They were both overwhelmed with the privilege of that most intimate awareness of God himself at work in their lives. Heaven had broken in! Their particular experience was of course unique; but something like that is the privilege of every praying believer.

Here is the poem in its entirety:

Continue reading Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Heaven in Ordinary

Greg Laurie – Give It a Go

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few.”

—Matthew 9:36–37

As a teenager, I would hang around a place in Newport Beach called the Balboa Fun Zone. I would lean up against a wall, hair hanging in my eyes (use your imagination there), looking real tough. Christians who walked around and handed out their tracts didn’t know what to make of me. They would thrust a pamphlet in my direction and then back off. But in my heart I was saying, “Talk to me. Don’t be put off by my tough-guy façade. It is false. I am too proud to say that I need help. I am too proud to say, ‘Tell me about Jesus.’ ”

I wanted someone to engage me. I would take the little tracts the Christians gave me and stuff them in my pocket, but never in the trash. I took everything that everyone gave me, everywhere. I had a drawer for all kinds of religious literature at home, and every now and then, I would pull it out, empty it on my bed, and try to sort through it. I had literature from Christians, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hare Krishnas, and more. You name it, I had it. I would look at this stuff and wonder what it all meant. I was looking for someone to show me the way.

Most Christians who have a basic knowledge of the faith could have easily explained the gospel to someone like me. And there is a world full of people out there who are just like I was, waiting for someone to take a risk. They are waiting for someone like you to say, “I will go ahead and give it a go.” The worst-case scenario is they will say no. But what if they say yes?

Kids 4 Truth International – The LORD Is Merciful

“They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness. The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.” (Psalm 145:7-9)

“But, Mrs. Kedo, I promise!” Sam was feeling a little nervous, now. “My dog really did eat my homework!”

“That’s the same excuse you gave me the last three times, Samuel.”

Mrs. Kedo stood up from her desk and picked up the chalkboard eraser. (For a split second, Sam wondered whether she was going thump him with it.) “Your dog must be a very hungry dog, indeed,” she said. Turning her back to Sam, she began erasing the chalkboard.

Sam just watched her for a moment and thought about it. Mrs. Kedo might be a little too strict. She might be a little too skinny. She might even be a little too tall. But one thing Mrs. Kedo isn’t – she isn’t dumb.

“Mrs. Kedo?”

She kept on erasing the board. “Yes, Samuel?”

“My dog didn’t eat my homework.”

“No?” Mrs. Kedo turned around and set the eraser on her desk. “Well, Samuel. Then I have one question: If your dog didn’t eat your homework, who did?”

“Uh…nobody ate it, Mrs. Kedo. I just didn’t want to do it.”

Continue reading Kids 4 Truth International – The LORD Is Merciful

The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – The Word Stored Up

Today’s Scripture: Psalm 37:31

“The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip.”

I strongly advocate Scripture memorization. In our warfare against Satan and his emissaries, we’re told to take “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). Charles Hodge commented on this statement: “In opposition . . . to all the suggestions of the devil, the safe, simple, and sufficient answer is the Word of God. This puts to flight all the powers of darkness. The Christian finds this to be true in his individual experience. It dissipates his doubts; it drives away his fears; it delivers him from the power of Satan.”

To take up this sword, we must have it at hand, in our hearts. We must be like the psalmist who said, “I have stored up your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). This principle of storing up God’s Word has a much wider application than only keeping us from sin. The Word, stored in the heart, provides a mental depository for the Holy Spirit to use to mediate his grace to us, whatever our need for grace might be.

I recently received a phone call with disturbing news, and I went to bed that night feeling as if I’d just received an emotional kick in the stomach. The next morning, however, I awakened with 1 Peter 5:7 going through my mind: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (NIV). I was given grace by God’s Spirit to believe that he did care in this specific situation. That is only one in a series of incidents occurring frequently in my life—and I’m sure in the lives of all other believers who store up God’s Word in their hearts.

The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – The Lord’s Work

Today’s Scripture: Acts 10-12

We speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. – 1 Thessalonians 2:4

Can you imagine a farmer “trusting the Lord” for a good corn crop but never bothering to take the seed out of the storage bin and plant it? Although bringing life from the seed is the work of God, He expects the farmer to be involved in the process.

The same principle of cooperation is true of witnessing, and we see it clearly in the book of Acts 2, when thousands responded to his message about salvation.

As I read of Peter’s exploits, I say to myself, What a man! What an outstanding example of Christian witness. And it’s true. Peter was truly a mighty man of God. But the last verse of Acts 2 puts it all back into perspective: “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Although the fruit of witness is the result of the Holy Spirit’s work, the Lord uses people to accomplish it.

Remember the story of Cornelius the centurion? “One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, ‘Cornelius!…Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter’” (Acts 10:3-5).

Why didn’t the angel just say, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved?” Why send someone to Joppa to find Simon Peter? Because God uses people, not angels, as His witnesses to Christ.

Christian, what a privilege we have to cooperate with God in telling others of His salvation in Christ.


Lord, thank You for the privilege I have to join You in Your work. Amen.

To Ponder

The fruit of our witness is up to the Lord.

BreakPoint – Proof That Religion is Good for America

A few months ago on BreakPoint, I mentioned a Pew study that demonstrated Americans’ increasing ignorance of the vital role played by religious institutions in this country. Between 2001 and 2016, the percentage of Americans who think that religion plays a role in solving important social problems fell from 75 percent to 58 percent.

As I said at the time, “part of the problem is that the religious contribution to the common good is so woven into the fabric of American life, most people these days just take it for granted and never stop to think about how prevalent it really is.” In fact, according to another study, half of Americans think that the government could replace religious organizations with no problems and nothing lost.

And now, a new study quantifies just how wrong half of Americans are.

Published in the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research in Religion, the study quantifies that “religion in the United States today contributes $1.2 trillion each year to our economy and society.” That’s “trillion” with a “tr,” or “more than the top ten tech companies combined—including Google, Apple, and Amazon.”

Put another way, if American religion were a country, it would rank 14th or 15th among the world’s economies, just ahead of Russia and just behind Australia. Put still another way, religion accounts for a little under seven percent of our economic output.

Now you still think that religion can just be replaced?

The study conducted by Brian and Melissa Grim of Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs reminds those willing to listen that the nation’s 344,000 religious congregations aren’t just houses of worship, “they are also the nucleus of many communities.” They are the “centers for job training, charity, child care, and social events.”

They employ “hundreds of thousands of people, creating jobs, and spend billions of dollars on goods and services, which support local businesses.” And finally, they fund 1.5 million social programs and gather 7.5 million volunteers.

As Brian Grim put it, the benefits of religion aren’t intangible, nor are they limited to the members of these congregations. People of faith serve the vulnerable because of their faith.

Continue reading BreakPoint – Proof That Religion is Good for America

Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – THE KING’S NEW DECREE

Long before smartphones and email, the telegram was used from the mid 1800s to late 1900s to quickly deliver urgent messages across a long distance. The sender would go to a local post office and hand over a telegram form containing the intended message. Since a sum was charged for each word, brevity was of high importance. In addition to delivering personal messages, telegrams shared reactions to world events and informed people of breaking news.

The king’s decision to allow Mordecai and Esther to write another decree set in motion the wheels of this new law (v. 8). Mordecai had been given the king’s signet ring, so he had the power not only to enact the new law but also to expedite the process.

Notice the urgency in today’s passage. Verse 9 starts with the words “At once.” This law would be written, approved, and enacted without delay. The royal secretaries were quickly brought in to pen the law. Only two months and ten days had passed since Haman issued the original edict (see 3:12), but there was no time to waste: the new edict was ready to be delivered, sent by couriers riding “fast horses” (v. 10).

The new edict affected the Jewish people who were scattered throughout the kingdom. Remember that the mourning in response to Haman’s decree had been widespread: “In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping, and wailing” (4:3). People living in terror now needed to hear word of the new law, in all 127 provinces from India to Cush (8:9). The edict was translated into the people’s own script and language. With an impressive measure of speed, the good news was spread throughout the land.


Like Esther and Mordecai, we are the bearers of good news. We have news of salvation from the King! How often do we communicate this good news with the urgency it deserves? Consider today how you might tell someone about the life- changing message of the gospel. Ask God to bring one person to mind who needs to hear this truth.


Brooke Lowry found herself single three weeks before her engagement pictures were scheduled to be taken. It was too late to cancel the photography session, and her dresses had already been chosen and tailored. So she decided on a solo shoot at Disneyland. Her pictures are amazing. Her attitude is even more remarkable.

She describes the day: “It honestly couldn’t have been a more beautiful experience, and I was filled with the peace and comfort that only comes from above. I’m so glad I decided to go through with the photos, and more importantly, I’m so grateful for the smallest acts of daily kindness that make all the difference in a broken world.”

I’m grateful for Brooke’s gratitude, a gift of encouragement in the midst of challenging days. Perusing this morning’s news: Protests continued last night in Charlotte as the mayor imposed a midnight curfew. Yahoo says hackers stole information from 500 million users. A strong earthquake struck southeast of Tokyo. Another migrant boat capsized in the Mediterranean, killing at least forty-three people.

As difficult as the news is, tragedy can be used for good if it turns us to faith in God and service to others.

The psalmist noted, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust'” (Psalm 91:1–2). This is an uplifting testimony, but it requires an unstated admission on our part. We don’t carry an umbrella on sunny days or retreat to a fortress when there is no enemy. As with any refuge, we dwell in the shelter of God to the degree that we recognize our need to do so.

This is a primary way God redeems challenges—by using them to show us our need of him. In this sense, we can count ourselves blessed when we face problems. “Blessed are those who know their need of God,” Jesus taught us (Matthew 5:3, NEB).

There are two ways to experience the omnipotence of God. One is to admit that we face challenges we cannot solve without his help. Such humility positions us to receive all his grace intends to give. The other is to attempt things we can do only in his power. As my mentor John Edmund Haggai often says, “Attempt something so great for God it’s doomed to failure unless God be in it.”

What challenges will you trust to your Lord’s power today? What God-sized goals will you seek to fulfill?

Seventeenth-century minister William Gurnall noted, “Let this encourage those of you who belong to Christ: the storm may be tempestuous, but it is only temporary. The clouds that are temporarily rolling over your head will pass, and then you will have fair weather, an eternal sunshine of glory.”

Be faithful to God today, for he is faithful to you forever.