Charles Stanley – A Life of Becoming

 

2 Corinthians 4:7-18

Probably the greatest obstacle to understanding God’s purpose for brokenness is this: Most believers think of Christianity as something we do. We pray. We read the Bible. We go to church. We sing hymns. We tithe. We do and do—and assume that’s the Christian life. It’s not.

Authentic Christianity is about becoming rather than doing. The life of faith that God designed involves receiving Jesus into our heart and allowing Him to change our habits, mindsets, beliefs, interests, and concerns so we become more and more like Him.

This realization will change our perspective on the heartache we must endure. You see, when we recognize that the Christian life is about Jesus’ persistent work of “re-creation” in us, then the role of brokenness will make more sense. It’s the process the Lord uses to strip us of things that have become—or may one day become—an obstacle to our spiritual growth. He also uses this tool to address issues we may have declared “off limits” to Him, such as unhealthy behaviors or relationships that we rationalize.

God doesn’t want to be Lord of most of your life; He wants to be Lord of all of your life! So He zeroes in on areas of self-will and self-sufficiency to remove everything within us that relies on “self.” He uses brokenness to remove those inclinations so that we can live moment by moment, day by day, in full dependence on Him.

Open your heart, and ask God to reveal any selfish strongholds. Let Him break any unhealthy behavior patterns in your life. He will.

Bible in One Year: Matthew 11-12

 

http://www.intouch.org/

 

Our Daily Bread — Praising and Asking

Read: 2 Chronicles 6:12-21

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 26-27; Philippians 2

The highest heavens . . . cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!—2 Chronicles 6:18

Teen Challenge, a ministry to at-risk youth that started in New York City, was born from an unusual commitment to prayer. Its founder, David Wilkerson, sold his television set and spent his TV-watching time (two hours each night) praying. In the months that followed, he not only gained clarity about his new endeavor but he also learned about the balance between praising God and asking Him for help.

King Solomon’s temple dedication prayer shows this balance. Solomon began by highlighting God’s holiness and faithfulness. Then he gave God credit for the success of the project and emphasized God’s greatness, declaring, “The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” (2 Chron. 6:18).

After exalting God, Solomon asked Him to pay special attention to everything that happened inside the temple. He asked God to show mercy to the Israelites and to provide for them when they confessed their sin.

Immediately after Solomon’s prayer, “fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple” (7:1). This incredible response reminds us that the mighty One we praise and speak to when we pray is the same One who listens to and cares about our requests. —Jennifer Benson Schuldt

How would you describe your conversations with God? What might help you grow closer to Him as you pray?

Read more about talking to God at discoveryseries.org/hp135.

Prayer helps us see things as God sees them.

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Art of Dil-Logic

I was recently in Chennai for two weeks with a class of twenty aspiring apologists from all across the country. There was something peculiar about this bunch that caught my attention from day one. It is not very surprising in such settings to find people who are extremely intellectual and focused, often pulling out a trick or two to impress the others with their academic rigor. But this particular bunch, much to my surprise, was far less interested in impressing one another with their logical skills than they were with their impressive efforts in being dil-logical—‘dil’ is the Hindi word for ‘heart.‘(1) This particular class never let an opportunity to love one another pass by in vain. They jumped in unison at every chance to care for one another.

All of this came powerfully to mind this week in a reading of John 13:34. Mandatum novum, as it reads in Latin. A new command I give you, says Jesus: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

Almost all of us have an intense fascination and excitement for most things new: a new day, a new thought, a new essay from A Slice of Infinity, a new phone, a new car, a new home, and so on. Interestingly, the very old thing about our fascination with the new thing is its unbelievably transient shelf-life. The charm of the new is fleeting and sooner than later always fades away.

But as I read these words of Jesus, I was imagining a war-torn nation and its ravaged people who had been waiting for something new for hundreds of years. It had been 1400 years since God had given them the commandments. It had been 400 years since God had last spoken through one of the prophets. A new word from God, a new messiah, a new leader, a new king—a new something, please. To break the monotony of the old, to liberate them from the age-old despair of silence, anything new any day would surely have been most welcome. And here is Jesus with a new command!

The Jews divided the 613 commandments of the Law into 248 positive and 365 negative commands.(2) Just in case you missed it, this should be read as 248 do’s and 365 don’ts. Only my mother could have come anywhere close to these many number of do’s and don’ts. If you had 613 to remember, let alone 613 to practice, would you not have been most enthusiastic to have received a new one after all those centuries?

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Art of Dil-Logic

John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Children of Light

“If we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

God is light, and His children share His nature.

First John 1:5 aptly describes God’s nature as “light” (truth and holiness). Because they partake of His nature (2 Peter 1:4), His children also walk in the light. It must be understood that we don’t become God’s children by walking in the light, but rather we walk in the light because we are His children. The Greek verb describes continuous action and could be translated, “If we habitually or continuously walk in the light. . . .” It’s an indicator of character; a definition of a true Christian, just as walking in the darkness characterizes unbelievers.

Two significant benefits come to believers because they walk in the light. These are privileges granted only to Christians; unbelievers who think they possess them deceive themselves.

First, believers experience fellowship with God. “One another” in 1 John 1:7 does not refer to other Christians. Although it is certainly true that believers enjoy fellowship with each other, that is not what this verse is teaching. The use of the pronoun “his” later in the verse makes it clear that the fellowship in view here is with God. That fellowship is mutual, “with one another.” Believers share a common life with God, experience His presence through the indwelling Holy Spirit, and commune with Him through prayer and the reading of His Word.

Second, believers experience cleansing from sin. “The blood of Jesus His Son” is the agency of that cleansing. Christ’s blood is symbolic of His sacrificial death on the cross, where full payment was made for believers’ sins. Once again it must be noted that walking in the light does not earn forgiveness; rather, forgiveness is freely granted to those who walk in the light (who are Christians).

In view of those glorious truths, I would leave you today with the challenge of the apostle Paul: “Now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light” (Eph. 5:8).

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to help you “let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).

For Further Study

Look up the following passages, noting what each teaches about forgiveness of sin: Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:14; 10:14; 1 Peter 1:18-19; Revelation 1:5-6.

 

http://www.gty.org

Wisdom Hunters – Seen and Unseen 

Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” Genesis 28:15-16

Do you remember learning the scientific method in school? I remember being utterly captivated by it. It was as if an entirely new way of understanding the world opened up to me. And in countless ways, this is true. Science has ushered in countless gifts. Yet for the Christian disciple, it brings with it one glaring danger. Modernity tells us that if it can’t be observed, measured, or tested, it must not be real.

When we reduce reality and knowledge to the five senses, we shut ourselves off from the very life of God, forgetting what it means to be human. As Christians, we believe we are so much more than the sum of our composite parts.  As the Creed reminds us, we believe in a God who is “maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.” We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14), and our lives and world we live in are sustained and preserved by unseen realities that are no less real than the food we eat or people we love.

I’m comforted by the fact that this isn’t a uniquely 21st century problem! All the way back in the book of Genesis, we see the Lord speaking to Jacob, reminding him of this profound truth: “The LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” Even at times when we cannot see or sense the Lord’s nearness, this passage comforts us in the hope that there is so much more going on at any given moment than we can possibly begin to understand.

As followers of Jesus, we are asked to do something profoundly counter cultural: trust in the unseen. We trust that God’s wisdom animates our world and gives meaning when meaning seems entirely absent. We believe that God’s love is ever present, even in the midst of unspeakable pain and loss. And we trust in a God who has told us he will keep his promises to his people, even when we struggle to understand how he will bring this about.

Join your heart and mind this day with the words of our brother Jacob, and no matter what situation you face or trial you are enduring, take heart and remember, “Surely the LORD is in this place.”

Continue reading Wisdom Hunters – Seen and Unseen 

Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – If It Matters to You

Whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.

Matthew 10:42

Recommended Reading

Matthew 10:40-42

Kay DeKalb Smith passed a chocolate shop at the airport. She’d been hungering for chocolate all week, but she told herself she didn’t need the calories. She lined up at the pretzel shop instead. The young man ahead of her asked for a sample, but the girl at the counter refused. Kay noticed a cup of hot water in his hand and remembered times she herself had drank hot water from lack of funds and taken advantage of free samples. She ordered two bags of pretzel bites and went looking for the fellow. She found him working behind a counter and handed the pretzels to him, saying, “Remember, if it matters to you, it matters to God.”

Back at the gate, she sensed someone approaching her. It was the young man. He said, “That was such a nice thing you did. I had to bring you this to thank you.” He handed her a bag from his shop and was gone. It contained a small box of chocolates. The Holy Spirit whispered in her heart: “If it matters to you, it matters to Me.”

Small acts of kindness matter to God, even a bag of pretzels or a cup of cold—or hot—water.

They do well and wisely who give the “cup of cold water” whenever they have opportunity…. This is to have the mind of Christ.

  1. C. Ryle, in Expository Thoughts on the Gospels

Read-Thru-the-Bible

Matthew 12 – 13

 

http://www.davidjeremiah.org/

Joyce Meyer – Satisfy Your Thirst

I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to Me will never be hungry, and he who believes in and cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me will never thirst any more (at any time).- John 6:35

We all thirst for more of God, but if you don’t know He is what you are craving, you can be easily misled. Instead, if you set your mind on seeking God—if you give Him first place in your desires, thoughts, and choices—your thirst will truly be quenched and you will not be led astray.

David spoke of this longing for the Lord in Psalm 42:2, saying, My inner self thirsts for God, for the living God. You are to search after God like a thirsty man in the desert. What does a thirsty man think about? Nothing but water! He isn’t concerned about anything else but finding what it takes to quench his thirst. Tonight, God is saying to you, “Here I am, seek Me, I have everything you need.”

From the book Ending Your Day Right by Joyce Meyer.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Girlfriends in God – A New Faith Adventure

Today’s Truth

Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Friend to Friend

Pain and crisis are familiar companions in my life. A close friend recently told me our family should do a reality television show because no one would believe what we deal with on a daily basis.

Can you relate?

The reality is that we live in a broken world. Trials and trouble are a byproduct of that broken world. I have repeatedly pleaded with God for an exemption clause, but there doesn’t seem to be one – this side of Heaven. However, I have discovered an amazing truth that makes it easier to face every shattering moment that lies ahead.

Isaiah 45:3 I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.

God has gone before us and has hidden a treasure at the heart of every trial. He has stored riches in secret places. That treasure can only be found when we go through the trial. Those riches can only be discovered when we walk straight ahead through our fear.

Continue reading Girlfriends in God – A New Faith Adventure

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Honors the Humble

“For everyone who tries to honor himself shall be humbled: and he who humbles himself shall be honored” (Luke 14:11).

At times I am respectfully amused at the repetition of certain themes in the Word of God – repeated over and over again so that you and I will not forget the importance of the message. This is one of those principles.

Many missionaries have given up honor, acclaim, and success at home in obedience to God’s call upon their lives. Perhaps to their surprise, God has honored them in many ways despite the fact that they purposely gave up all rights to such honor.

In every field of endeavor, the principle is true. Most men who seek genuine acclaim are thoroughly humbled along the way. Conversely, most people who humble themselves as a part of their commitment to Jesus Christ and His service are eventually honored.

I have seen this truth fulfilled on numerous occasions in the work of Campus Crusade for Christ to which the Lord has called me. Many young people have stepped into unsung roles of service for their Master. God has honored them not only with fruit for their hire, but also with a measure of acclaim they never would have achieved otherwise.

It is part of God’s plan to abase the proud and raise up the humble. Our goal should be committed service for the Savior. We should let Him take care of the honoring and the humbling.

Bible Reading: Matthew 23:5-12

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I’ll recognize anew today that the only good thing about me – and about any believer – is the reality of my relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ through the indwelling person of the Holy Spirit.

 

http://www.cru.org

Ray Stedman – God’s Teacher

Read: 1 Corinthians 2:6-16

…these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 1 Corinthians 2:10-11

That passage introduces to us how this mighty teacher come from God, the Holy Spirit himself, is designed to instruct us with the Word of God and lead us into the truth of God that will change our lives and expose us to this secret and hidden wisdom of God (v.7). When you discover that, life is going to be exciting and adventurous, like nothing you ever dreamed before, for this line of truth is designed to set us free, to let us be the men and women God designed us to be.

Notice how the apostle first underscores here the spirit’s knowledge: No one understands the things of man except the spirit of man which is in him. Have you ever tried to talk to your plants? We are told that plants can respond to our moods and reflect our attitudes. I know a woman who even prays over each plant. I don’t know what it does for the plant, but it probably helps her a great deal. But it is evident that plants do not talk back. Life is constructed at various levels; the higher can take hold of the lower, but the lower cannot reach up to the higher. We have plant life, we have animal life, then human life, then the angelic life, and finally, divine life. The higher can reach down to encompass the lower, but the lower cannot reach up to the higher. That is Paul’s argument here. Though no animal can reach into the realm of human relationship and converse with us, other human beings like ourselves can.

Now here is this great Being of God in our universe, this fantastic Being of infinite wisdom and mighty power. How can we know anything about him? Paul’s answer is that we cannot, except he discloses himself to us. You cannot find out God by searching. Man by wisdom does not know God. Man by investigation of all the natural forces of life will never find his way to the heart of God. Only God himself must disclose himself, must open himself to us. That he has done by means of the Spirit of God — the Spirit has come to teach us about God.

Continue reading Ray Stedman – God’s Teacher

Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Obedience in Limbo

Read: Acts 24

And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison. (v. 27)

The accounts of Paul’s imprisonment often startle me with their simple accuracy. Two thousand years later, this is still how people and systems behave. Roman justice moved with the spastic rhythm and bizarre inefficiency of governments everywhere; it was often at cross-purposes with itself. (One contemporary example: innocent people who have been wrongly imprisoned often come home only to learn that their false conviction remains on the record, and that they still must check the “felon” box on job applications.) Felix, in his dishonesty, his indecisiveness, and his sensitivity to every political wind, was a classic bureaucrat. His type is familiar to those who deal with the justice system.

What strikes me more is Paul’s clearheadedness and simplicity of purpose even in the teeth of a system designed, in its irrationality and whimsicality, to destroy precisely these qualities. Felix keeps him for two years in a state of confusion as to whether he’s going free tomorrow—or never. Living in such a holding pattern is torture: you never fully feel you’ve started or finished anything, nor can you truly rest. Six months in such a state breaks most people. Paul remains unbroken because he actually believes what he says to Felix: there is a resurrection (v. 15). Though Paul’s time was wasted, he ultimately lost nothing.

Prayer:

Lord, when others steal or waste our hours, comfort us with the knowledge that our time was always yours.

Author: Phil Christman

 

https://woh.org/

Greg Laurie – God Chose Marriage

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.—Romans 5:8

Of all of the pictures that God could have chosen to show His love for us, He chose marriage.

Husbands are told to love their wives as Christ loves the church. Wives are told to be submissive to their husbands as unto the Lord. Here is what the Lord is essentially saying: “Hey world, want to know how much I love My people? Check out the way that Christian husband loves His wife. Hey nonbelievers, want to see how much My people love Me? Check out the way that Christian wife loves her husband.”

From that perspective, can’t you see how bad it is when Christians divorce? It devastates our witness. We tell the world how to live—how to be changed by Jesus—but then we can’t work out our problems in our own marriages. It should not be so.

God has chosen marriage as a representation to a lost world. Therefore, when you have a strong marriage, you are a powerful witness. How did God show His love for His bride, the church? By sending His Son Jesus to die on the cross for us. Talk is cheap. Words are easy to say. But God put His own Son on the cross to die in our place, in order to demonstrate how much He loves us.

“But Greg,” you might say, “Those are tall orders! There’s no way we can love like that on our own!” That’s true; we can’t.

We need the Holy Spirit’s power to be the husbands God has called us to be. We need the Holy Spirit’s power to be the wives God has called us to be. We need the Holy Spirit’s power to be the parents God has called us to be. We need His help.

So be filled with the Spirit, walking thought by thought, decision by decision, act by act under His control.

 

https://www.harvest.org/

Kids 4 Truth International – God’s Word Is Precious

“Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness. Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, even thy salvation, according to thy word…. Thou art my portion, O LORD: I have said that I would keep thy words.” (Psalm 119:40-41, 57)

“If they would burn the Word of Christ, they would burn Christ.”

~ William Tyndale (1494–1536), language scholar and theologian

who was burned at the stake for translating the Bible

and for believing in justification by faith alone

Throughout history, there have been many people who fought the spread of God’s Word. There were people who thought it was wrong for the Word of God to be translated into a “common” language, or any other language but the original languages it was written in. Some religious leaders did not want the Bible to be readable, because their false teachings would be found out if people could check them by the Bible in their own languages.

Many years ago, a man named William Tyndale was overcome with a passion to see the Hebrew and Greek original Scriptures translated into English. His dream was that any common ploughboy (any farmer’s servant) would be able to read the Bible in his own language (English) instead of having to know Hebrew or Greek, or instead of having to listen to the Bible read in Latin. Tyndale was a skilled translator and wonderful writer, so his translations (some pieces of the New Testament that he translated) are quoted today even more than famous lines from Shakespeare’s plays are quoted!

Continue reading Kids 4 Truth International – God’s Word Is Precious

The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – A Broader Horizon

Today’s Scripture: Matthew 6:9-10

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Consider the prayer Jesus taught us in Matthew 6:9-13. It seems evidently intended as an example to be followed. Notice the sequence of the requests. The first three are that his name be hallowed, his kingdom come, and his will be done. There’s a certain degree of overlap here: God’s name will be hallowed as his kingdom comes in the hearts of people; God’s will shall be done as people acknowledge the kingship of Christ in their lives and in their societies. All these requests will be answered through the successful advance of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

In seeking to stimulate us to lift up our eyes to God’s great objective for all nations, I don’t intend to minimize the importance of evangelism and disciple-making at home. What I’m seeking to do is to broaden our spiritual horizon, to get on our hearts what, according to Scripture, is on God’s heart: The Gospel is not just about God and me, or even about God and the people among whom I live and work. The Gospel is about God and the world.

Obviously, there’s more to carrying out the Great Commission than prayer. People must go to the ends of the earth. As I write this chapter, our son, daughter-in-law, and one-year-old grandson are preparing to go to one of the more difficult areas of the world. Is it hard to see them go to a people who are so resistant to the Gospel? Absolutely! But if we’re praying for the penetration of the Gospel among those people, we must be prepared for God to use us or our loved ones to help answer those prayers. (Excerpt taken from The Gospel for Real Life)

 

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The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Prepared to Testify

Today’s Scripture: Acts 27-28

“Repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” – Luke 24:47-48

I remember when someone first taught me how to prepare my Christian testimony. I was told to sit down with a sheet of paper and a pen, and write my recollections from three areas of my life: my lifestyle before I came to Christ; how I came to Christ; and something of my life after I came to Christ.

I began to think and write, and finally I was ready to boil it down to three minutes, giving equal time to each part. Ever since then, I’ve had many fascinating opportunities to share my testimony.

In Acts 28, we find Paul giving his testimony over and over again while he is under house arrest, awaiting trial before Caesar in Rome: “They…came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. From morning till evening he explained and declared to them the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the law of Moses and from the Prophets” (Acts 28:23). No doubt, as Paul reasoned with them from the Law, he gave them his personal testimony as well, trying to persuade them to turn to Christ in repentance and faith.

One of the things that made the apostle Paul so powerful was the fact that his life had a focus, like an arrow heading straight for the center of the target. His mission I n life was to be a messenger of the gospel, and he gave himself to it.

Christian, are you prepared to witness for Christ?

Prayer

Lord, by your Spirit, may I always be able to tell how grateful I am to be saved by Your grace. Amen.

To Ponder

If someone gave you three minutes to tell them about your Christian faith, could you present the whole gospel in a clear, cohesive way in that amount of time?

 

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BreakPoint – Americans Can’t Pass Theology 101

One thing is certain: Americans love the Bible. A recent report from The American Bible Society and Barna Group finds that two-thirds of the nation believe the Bible contains “everything a person needs to know in order to live a meaningful life.” And a vast majority of folks in this country still consider themselves Christians. But just how deep does their Christianity run?

Not very, according to the results of a survey released late last month by LifeWay Research. The survey, commissioned by Ligonier Ministries, asked 3,000 participants a set of 47 questions about foundational Christian beliefs. Many of the answers revealed a mishmash of heresy and confusion about Christianity’s most basic doctrines.

Seventy percent of Americans agree there’s only one true God—one in essence, three in person: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Yet almost the same number believe God accepts the worship of all other religions, even those that deny the Trinity or worship other deities. Sixty-one percent correctly say Jesus is both human and divine, but half think that He’s also “the first and greatest being created by God,” rather than existing eternally, as Scripture and the ancient creeds of the faith teach.

More bizarre contradictions emerged: Over sixty percent of Americans say that God, Who cannot err, is the Author of the Bible. Yet fewer than half are willing to affirm that the Bible God wrote is “one hundred percent accurate in all it teaches.” Two-thirds admit everyone sins, yet also insist that most people are good by nature! Perhaps most oddly, half of Americans believe that only those who accept Jesus will be saved, yet sixty percent also say everyone will eventually make it to Heaven.

So what about professing Christians and especially evangelicals? Surely they did much better on basic doctrines of the faith. Uh, no.

Lifeway identified 586 of the three-thousand respondents as “evangelical.” These are folks who believe the Bible is their highest authority, that personal evangelism is important, and that trusting in Jesus’ death on the cross is the only way of salvation.

Continue reading BreakPoint – Americans Can’t Pass Theology 101

Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – SALVATION RELATIONSHIPS: LOVE EACH OTHER

Read 1 PETER 1:22–25

One joy in the autumn season in many parts of the United States is seeing the changing colors of the leaves. Cars filled with “leaf peepers” drive through New England or along the Blue Ridge Parkway, hoping to catch the peak moment of a landscape awash in red, orange, and golden leaves.

The most beautiful panorama of leaves won’t last, however. Eventually the leaves will fall, winter will come, and the colors shift to a muted palette of gray and white. Most things in life change: children grow, relationships ebb and flow, seasons pass, loved ones die. But the promises and Word of our God do not wither or fade or change (vv. 24–25). The absolute trustworthiness of God should shape our relationships.

We’ve already explored the Father- child relationship that we enjoy with God. But our salvation also affects our relationships with each other. As we grow in holiness and obedience, we also grow in our ability to love others (v. 22; see 1 John 3:11). This love results from our new birth, our new hope, and our new identity in Jesus. There’s a sense here of God’s love pouring into our lives, transforming us, and then overflowing into the way that we live in love with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

The command to love each other also requires our humility and grace. We can’t obey this command because we are perfect but because God is perfect. We don’t obey this command because other people are reliable but because God is reliable. We can love others, even when they fail or disappoint us, because the foundation of this love is the gospel—God’s expression of love for us (v. 25). His love and His promise will never fail or fade; gloriously, they endure forever.

APPLY THE WORD

Appreciating God’s creation can be a helpful way to focus our attention and worship toward Him. When you notice the changing colors as the season changes from autumn to winter, praise Him for His unchanging Word. If you plant bulbs this fall, thank Him that your new birth in Jesus is from imperishable seed that is guaranteed to blossom for an eternity.

 

http://www.todayintheword.org

Denison Forum – HURRICANE MATTHEW AND THE MORAL STORMS OF OUR DAY

Nearly two million people are fleeing in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas as Hurricane Matthew approaches. The storm has already devastated Haiti and eastern Cuba and is expected to strengthen over the next day. However, officials in South Florida are worried that residents have become complacent after eleven years of near misses. Weather authorities know what everyone should: the best way to respond to a hurricane is to flee its path.

This fact applies to more than hurricanes.

A new study involving more than a million women found a significant correlation between birth control pills and depression. The risk is especially elevated with teenagers: women between the ages of fifteen and nineteen who took oral contraceptives were 80 percent more likely to become depressed.

While some teenagers take the pill for medical reasons, 86 percent do so for birth control. If these women chose to abstain from premarital sex, they would avoid the pill’s depressive side effects.

Scripture repeatedly warns us to flee temptation (1 Corinthians 6:18; 10:14; 15:33; 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22). Contrary to conventional wisdom today, God’s moral standards are not puritanical legalism but an expression of his grace. He is a loving Father who knows his children and wants only what is best for them (Psalm 103:5). His standards are like signposts intended to keep us on the road and out of the ditch.

For instance, God warned Jerusalem that her sins would lead to her demise: “Woe to the bloody city, to the pot whose corrosion is in it, and whose corrosion has not gone out of it!” (Ezekiel 24:6). This is a powerful metaphor. When a cooking pot is corroded, nothing put inside it is edible. So it is with immorality: it poisons all it touches and ruins what comes from it.

It did not have to be this way. God told his people, “I would have cleansed you” (v. 13), but they refused his forgiving grace. Now they would face his judgment: “I will not go back; I will not spare; I will not relent; according to your ways and your deeds you will be judged, declares the Lord God” (v. 14).

Continue reading Denison Forum – HURRICANE MATTHEW AND THE MORAL STORMS OF OUR DAY