Charles Stanley – Jesus Christ, the Seeking Savior

 

John 3:16-17

In this busy and impersonal high-tech world, it seems easier than ever to ignore Jesus Christ. We are led to believe that every challenge can be met quickly and self-sufficiently, often through some online resource. After all, if we want to keep our eyes on the future, why seek a Savior from 2,000 years ago?

As we look to ourselves more and more for answers, we become increasingly susceptible to a dangerous trap—the idea that we can handle life on our own and don’t need Jesus. Nothing could be further from the truth.

All through the Bible, we see God taking the initiative in the salvation of man. None of us who are saved have sought Him out; we’ve just responded to the ways He has drawn us to Him (John 6:44). God made the first move: He chose to save us, and then our response followed.

Today’s passage underscores our need for Jesus—it clearly teaches that the Father gave His Son so we might be saved. Without Jesus, we would be utterly without hope of eternal life and would perish instead.

Now think about the Lord’s parting instructions to His disciples. Did He say to sit idly by and simply mention His name to anyone who walked past? No! He said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). He wants the good news to go forth because He is still seeking the lost today.

Our omniscient, omnipotent Savior can meet needs better than the most capable among us. If you don’t know Jesus, He’s looking for you (Luke 19:10). If you do know Him, won’t you share His great news with the world?

Bible in One Year:Malachi 1-4

 

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Our Daily Bread — God’s Reminders

Read: Mark 8:11-21

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 14-16; Ephesians 5:1-16

He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”—Mark 8:21

My friend Bob Horner refers to Jesus as “the Master Reminder.” And that is good, because we are so doubting and forgetful. No matter how often Jesus met the needs of the people who came to Him when He was here on earth, His first disciples feared they would somehow be left in need. After witnessing miracles, they failed to understand the greater meaning the Lord wanted them to remember.

On a journey across the Sea of Galilee, the disciples realized they had forgotten to bring bread and were talking about it. Jesus asked them, “Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?” (Mark 8:17-18). Then He reminded them that when He fed five thousand people with five loaves, the disciples had collected twelve basketfuls of leftover pieces. And when He fed four thousand with seven loaves, they filled seven baskets with leftovers. Then “He said to them, ‘Do you still not understand?’” (v. 21).

The Lord’s miraculous provision for people’s physical needs pointed to the greater truth—that He was the Bread of Life and that His body would be “broken” for them and for us.

Every time we eat the bread and drink the cup during the Lord’s Supper, we are reminded of our Lord’s great love and provision for us. —David McCasland

In the Lord’s Supper, Jesus left us a great reminder of His sacrifice. Read about it in Matthew 26:17–30; Luke 22:14–20; 1 Corinthians 11:23–26.

Communion is the Lord’s reminder to us of His love and provision.

INSIGHT: In Mark 7-8, Mark records three stories that highlight Jesus’s ability to meet the needs of His followers: the exorcism of a demon-possessed girl (Mark 7:24-30), the healing of a deaf and mute man (7:31-37), and the feeding of four thousand people with seven simple loaves of bread (8:1-10). Mark tells these three stories in quick succession, underscoring Jesus’s ability to meet the needs of people in a variety of situations. The apostle John calls the miracles Jesus performed “signs.” Like all signs, they point to something. In the case of Jesus’s miracles, they point to His true identity. J.R. Hudberg

 

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John MacArthur – Strength for Today – The Plague of Plagues

“But I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members” (Romans 7:23).

Sin is the deadliest plague ever to affect mankind.

Throughout history, deadly plagues have ravaged the human race. In just three years (1348-1350), the infamous “Black Death” (an outbreak of bubonic plague) killed half the population of Europe. In our own times, diseases such as AIDS have reached epidemic proportions.

But there is one plague that is far deadlier than all the others combined: sin. Sin has affected everyone who has ever lived (Rom. 3:19, 23). And unlike other plagues, sin kills everyone it infects (Rom. 5:12).

While sin invariably causes physical and (apart from faith in Christ) spiritual death, it has many other devastating consequences. Sin corrupts the mind (Jer. 17:9; Eph. 4:17-19), the will (cf. Jer. 44:16-17), and the affections (John 3:19; 1 John 2:15). Sin brings people under the control of Satan (John 8:44; Eph. 2:2) and makes them the objects of God’s wrath (Eph. 2:3). Sin robs people of peace (Isa. 48:22) and replaces it with misery (Job 5:7; Rom. 8:20).

Although as Christians we experience God’s gracious forgiveness, sin still has serious consequences in our lives. Sin grieves the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30), causes God not to answer our prayers (1 Peter 3:7), limits our ability to serve God (2 Tim. 2:20-21), or even disqualifies some from Christian service (1 Cor. 9:27). It also renders our worship hypocritical and unacceptable (Ps. 33:1; Isa. 1:14), causes God to withhold blessing (Jer. 5:25), robs us of joy (Ps. 51:12), subjects us to God’s chastening (Heb. 12:5-11), hinders our spiritual growth (1 Cor. 3:13), and pollutes our fellowship with Him (1 Cor. 10:21). Most significantly, sin causes our lives to dishonor Him (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

Every true Christian despises sin and yearns to be free from it. Do you realize the deadly nature of sin? I pray that the cry of your heart would echo that of Paul’s: “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:24).

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for delivering you from sin, and pray that He would give you a holy hatred for it.

For Further Study

Read Romans 7—8.

  • How did Paul view his struggle with sin?
  • What was the key to overcoming it?

 

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Wisdom Hunters – One in Spirit 

After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.    1 Samuel 18:1

Being one in spirit means you have reached a level of relational intimacy that few obtain. The loyalty, generosity, love, service, and depth of communication reach levels that are rare in relationships. For intimacy to grow, it is imperative that we get beyond the surface of self-indulgence, and move toward selfless acts of service. People become one in spirit when there is no score-keeping. There is no scorecard charting the rights and wrongs that have been committed. You know the other accepts you, and they love you as they love themselves. One in spirit means you are comfortable with one another’s company. There is a peace that penetrates your presence. Distractions diminish in importance when you experience oneness in spirit. There is an unspoken loyalty that leavens the relationship of those who are one in spirit. When one or the other is caught in the crossfire of life’s events, each knows his friend is close by to help.

Oneness in spirit means you hurt when your friend hurts. When he feels the barbs of rejection, you feel rejected; When she is the brunt of another’s anger, you are taken back by the anger; When he is jarred by jealousy, you feel the pain of jealousy; When she is ravished by disease, you are available any time. There is an energized empathy that engulfs the relationships of those who are one in spirit. It is not a sentimental sensitivity, but one that is based on the sensitivity of our Savior.

The oneness of spirit around the Spirit of God is the most meaningful. Jesus is the best facilitator for real relationships. He is the glue that brings hearts together in oneness for what’s best for God’s Kingdom. Christ is the catalyst for unity around what’s really important. His heart is for us to pray for unity around His will. Jesus has an intimate affect on friends who fear and love Him. Oneness around our one and only Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, brings us close together. His Spirit binds the spirits of believers together in a bond the world does not understand. As we grow closer to Christ, we grow closer to Christ’s followers. We are able to have oneness in relationships with those who are one with Christ. So, seek to go deep with those who are deep in the Lord.

Continue reading Wisdom Hunters – One in Spirit 

Joyce Meyer – Obedience Brings Success

Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action).— 2 Timothy 3:16

The Bible says that we will reap what we sow. The dividing line between success and failure is doing what God tells us to do. We pray for fruit in our lives, but we don’t always want to pray for roots.

If we want our days to go right, we need to do whatever God tells us to do. If we don’t walk in obedience, then we can’t complain if we wind up in a mess. If we are lonely and God tells us to invite somebody over, but we decide it is too much trouble, then we will stay lonely.

Obedience brings the fruit of the Spirit in your life. Dig deep into God’s Word before you walk away from blessings today.

From the book Starting Your Day Right by Joyce Meyer.

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Greater Works Than He Does

“In solemn truth I tell you, anyone believing in Me shall do the same miracles I have done, and even greater ones, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask Him for anything, using My name, and I will do it, for this will bring praise to the Father because of what I, the Son, will do for you” (John 14:12,13).

For many years, during and after seminary, I asked leading theologians, pastors and students, “What does this passage mean? How can I and other believers do the same miracles that our Lord did when He was here in the flesh – and even greater ones?”

Surely there had to be some mistakes in the translation of this passage, for I saw little evidence of this supernatural power in the lives of the Christians around me or in my own life.

But I had wrongly interpreted what Jesus said. I was thinking only of the miracles of physical healing. God still heals the sick, and almost daily I pray that He will touch the ailing bodies of ill ones. God sometimes heals them miraculously, though mostly He works through the skill of surgeons and the miracle of modern medicine.

Yet, while physical healing is certainly valid and very desirable, I realize more and more that a greater miracle is the miracle of new birth. For the body that is healed will one day die, but the person who is introduced to Christ and experiences salvation will live forever. The main reason our Lord came to this earth was to “seek and save the lost,” not primarily to perform miracles of physical healing. Frequently, we are privileged to experience the reality of our Lord’s promise as He enables us to “seek and save the lost” in greater numbers than He did while He was here in the flesh.

For example, in 1980, during the Korean Here’s Life World Evangelization Crusade we saw more than one million people indicate salvation decisions during the week.

Bible Reading: Matthew 21:21-22

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Beginning today, I will claim, in the name of Jesus, that He who dwells within me, who came to seek and to save the lost and is not willing that any should perish, will do even greater miracles in and through my life than He did while here in the flesh. By faith, I will experience and share the Supernatural life of Christ with others.

 

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Ray Stedman – Behind Divisions

Read: 1 Corinthians 1:10-17

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 1 Corinthians 1:10

Paul always expresses great concern about the possibility of a split in the church. In a similar passage in his letter to the Philippians he says, So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord, and of one mind, (Philippians 2:1-2 RSV). In writing to the church at Ephesus, he exhorted the elders there to be careful to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, (Ephesians 4:3 RSV).

Church unity is a very important matter. Paul puts it first in the list of problems he has to deal with here at Corinth. Many of the other problems were flowing out of this division within the congregation. Here in Verse 10 he briefly shows us the ground of unity, and the nature of unity in a church. The ground, of course, is the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I appeal to you, he says, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Their relationship to Christ was the unifying factor of the church. There is no other name big enough, great enough, glorious enough, and powerful enough to gather everybody together, despite the diversity of viewpoint and the differences of background or status in life, than the name of Jesus. That is why the apostle appeals to it. He recognizes that we share a common life if we have come to Christ; we are brothers and sisters because we have his life in us. He is the ground, always, of unity. And more than that, we have a responsibility to obey him, to follow his Lordship. Therefore, the only basis upon which you can get Christians to agree is by setting before them the Person of the Lord Jesus.

Continue reading Ray Stedman – Behind Divisions

Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Paul’s First Bit

Read: Acts 16:16-24

These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. (v. 20)

It’s hard for people who have never been there to “remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them” (Heb. 13:3). Thankfully, the Bible shows us how—most of all through Paul, who did his share of time. We’ll examine his story over the next several days.

Paul’s first bit happens in Philippi, a financial capital originally founded to help King Philip II of Macedon control the nearby gold mines. Wealthy cities are naturally obsessed with predicting the future. Today, we have market forecasters on Wall Street; in Paul’s day, they had soothsayers—such as the slave girl who clamorously followed Paul and his companions around until he finally cast the fortune-telling spirit out of her.

When Paul exorcised the slave girl, he ruined a sound business plan. The young woman’s exploiters reacted accordingly. They had Paul beaten and jailed on the charge that he was, in effect, a weirdo, an ethnic outsider who upset the order. We still jail people for being not so much harmful as outside some norm. Think, for example, of the undiagnosed mentally ill, nonviolent addicts, or the black man who was arrested on a charge of “obstructing pedestrian traffic”—for standing in his own doorway. By preserving this moment in Paul’s story, the Holy Spirit reminds us that we as Christians shouldn’t fit too smoothly into the order of things, either.

Prayer:

Lord, remember and defend those who mean well, but don’t fit in.

Author: Phil Christman

 

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Kids 4 Truth International – We Should Not Resist God

“See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:25-29)

Annie looked at the fire that Mr. Cook had built for their Sunday School class’s hot dog roast. She tried to get closer with her stick, but the fire was still too hot. She was hungry, and this was going to take a long time! It was a good ten minutes before the roaring fire had died down enough for Annie and her friends to get near enough to roast their hot dogs. When she finally squatted down nearby and stuck her hot dog over the hot embers, Annie glanced down at her shoes. The tips of her sneakers were a little bit melted! Wow!

Annie’s shoes were not fire-resistant. That means that they were not able to stand up against the heat of the fire. The toes of them were melted! It is a good thing that she stayed as far away from the fire as she did!

Did you know that God describes Himself in His Word as a consuming fire? “Consuming” means it burns up everything it touches and cannot be put out. That is pretty strong language to describe God, isn’t it? But it probably does not even come close to how powerful and glorious and holy God really is. Human language could never express everything that God is. But Hebrews 12:25-29 uses very strong words to describe Him – as the One “that speaketh from heaven,” and as Him “whose voice then shook the earth,” and “God is a consuming fire.”

Hebrews 12:25-29 starts out with “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh.” That “him” there is referring to God, and the command is that we are not supposed to refuse Him and His Word. Why? Because this is the kind of God He is – the kind of God Who speaks from heaven, the kind of God Whose voice shakes the earth, and the kind of God Who is a “consuming fire.” No one can stand up to God and get away with it.

Continue reading Kids 4 Truth International – We Should Not Resist God

The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Adversity’s Goal

Today’s Scripture: Deuteronomy 8:14-16

“The Lord your God . . . led you through the great and terrifying wilderness . . . to do you good in the end.”

The writer of Hebrews contrasted the finite wisdom of human parents in disciplining children with the infinite, infallible wisdom of God. Even the best human parents can only discipline as they think best. Their judgment is fallible, their actions are sometimes inconsistent and are often guided by the impulse of the moment. As is often observed, they have to learn by doing. Anyone who has tried to rear children in a godly, responsible manner knows there are times when parents simply do not know what is the appropriate manner or degree of discipline for a child.

God, however, always disciplines us for our good. He knows what is best for each one of us. He doesn’t have to debate with himself over what is most suitable for us. He knows intuitively and perfectly the nature, intensity, and duration of adversity that will best serve his purpose to make us partakers of his holiness. He never brings more pain than is needed to accomplish his purpose. Lamentations 3:33 expresses that sentiment this way: “For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men” (NIV).

Returning to Hebrews 12:10: “God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness” (NIV). Observe how the writer equated our good with becoming more holy. Paul wrote in a similar manner when he said, “and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son” (Romans 8:28-29, NIV). To be conformed to the likeness of Christ and to share in God’s holiness are equivalent expressions. That is the highest good to which the believer can aspire. (Excerpt taken from The Discipline of Grace)

 

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The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Open Territory

Today’s Scripture: Ezekiel 16-19

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” – Mark 16:15

Do you have anyone in your church who seems territorial about his or her ministry? This person may be in charge of the kitchen or the choir robes or the nursery or the Sunday school. If someone comes along with a suggestion for improvement, the person in charge blows up. It reminds me of the poster of the great big gorilla who says, “If I want any advice from you, I’ll beat it out of you.”

In light of that, consider Ezekiel 16:1-3: “The word of the Lord came to me: Son of man, confront Jerusalem with her detestable practices and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says to Jerusalem…” Ezekiel had been called by God to minister among the captives in Babylon. His older contemporary, the prophet Jeremiah, was left to preach to those in Jerusalem. Was Ezekiel trying to move in on Jeremiah’s territory here? No. God was using His messengers among His scattered people, wherever they were.

In the New Testament, we find Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, winning people to Christ in a synagogue in Greece. We find Peter, the apostle to the Jews, sharing Christ with a Roman centurion named Cornelius.

In the task of proclaiming God’s message, there are no territorial lines, and all of us need all the help we can get. I was speaking in a church where the pastor is a godly man with a very successful long-term ministry. His only territory was the harvest field of God, and he was open to everything he could learn from others. Christian, let’s labor together, because we can’t do it alone!

Prayer

Lord, keep me from staking out my “turf” at church, and strengthen me in my desire to quietly serve others. Amen.

To Ponder

Our service in the church is to build up the believers, to the glory of God. Our ministry to the world is to cooperate with our fellow believers in spreading the gospel, to the glory of God.

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – SUFFERING AND SALVATION

Read 1 PETER 1:6–9

The 2016 Summer Olympics were held in Brazil this year, the culmination of years of training and dedication for thousands of athletes. Psychologists have studied how athletes stay motivated to endure rigorous preparation for months and years before the pinnacle of competition. For many, when faced with yet another day of swimming laps or doing speed drills or perfecting their form, it helps to remember the goal: representing their country and winning a medal.

Our reading today is the second section of Peter’s opening doxology in verses 3 to 12, which is one long sentence in the Greek text. As we saw yesterday, God’s work through Jesus has provided us with a living hope and promised inheritance. But like an intricate symphony weaving together major and minor keys, Peter acknowledges that his readers, these foreigners and strangers, are also suffering and grieving due to “all kinds of trials” (v. 6).

Scripture never ignores the reality of our suffering. Peter does not instruct his readers to “just look on the bright side.” But God’s Word does give us perspective in our suffering. Enduring these trials strengthens our faith. Persevering through times of suffering deepens our joy. We are able to face these challenges, day in and day out, because we focus on God’s promise to save us—and we believe that our God always keeps His promises.

Notice how many times the words rejoice or joy appear in these verses. Scripture often juxtaposes suffering and joy (see Ps. 30:5; 1 Thess. 1:6). This seems contrary to our assumptions— we’re happy when things are going well, right? This spiritual mystery should encourage us when we go through challenging times: God uses suffering to bless us with joy, a joy that allows us to praise Jesus and keep our eyes fixed on Him.

APPLY THE WORD

God doesn’t promise us nirvana or prosperity or freedom from pain. But He does promise that suffering and trials can never take away our eternal salvation or His love for us. If you’re in the middle of a difficult slog, ask the Lord to fill you with the “joy of your salvation,” to keep your focus on your eternal inheritance in Jesus (Ps. 51:12).

 

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