Charles Stanley – Making Him Known

 

Acts 17:16-33

There are three questions everyone needs to know how to answer correctly: Who is the one true God? What is He like? And is it possible to have a personal relationship with Him? Throughout the history of mankind, countless people from every nation have grappled with these questions.

When the apostle Paul was in Athens, he provided answers for the people there by preaching about Jesus. Today Christians continue to share about Jesus because it is God’s will that every single person have the correct answer to those three questions (1 Tim. 2:3-4). There is great need. Think about how many people are involved in the myriad religions all over the world. Most live in fear, uncertainty, and darkness.

Imagine that we are walking into church one Sunday morning and sitting in front of a giant statue made of bronze or gold. We might sing a few songs in honor of it, listen to a sermon, then take up an offering and lay it at the foot of the statue. After some additional music, church is over and we return to our houses. What would we carry home with us? What assurance could we claim? There would be no joy, peace, or assurance in this life or for the life to come because we bowed down to something that is lifeless and unable to hear us.

As believers, we know the one true God. There is a world full of people who long to know Jesus, but they have never heard about Him. Do not be content just to live your Christian life. Find a way to share your peace and joy with someone else.

Bible in One Year: Matthew 19-21

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — United in Christ

Read: Mark 3:13-19

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 32-33; Colossians 1

He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach.—Mark 3:14

When we come across a list of names in the Bible, we might be tempted to skip over it. But we can find treasures there, such as in the list of the twelve apostles whom Jesus called to serve in His name. Many are familiar—Simon whom Jesus called Peter, the rock. Brothers James and John, fishermen. Judas Iscariot, the betrayer. But we could easily overlook that Matthew the tax collector and Simon the Zealot must once have been enemies.

Matthew collected taxes for Rome, and therefore, in the eyes of his fellow Jews, collaborated with the enemy. Tax collectors were despised for their corrupt practices and for requiring the Jewish people to give money to an authority other than God. On the other hand, before Jesus’s call, Simon the Zealot was devoted to a group of Jewish nationalists who hated Rome and sought to overturn it, often through aggressive and violent means.

Although Matthew and Simon held opposing political beliefs, the Gospels don’t document them bickering or fighting about them. They must have had at least some success in leaving their previous allegiances behind as they followed Christ.

When we too fix our eyes on Jesus, the God who became Man, we can find increasing unity with our fellow believers through the bond of the Holy Spirit. —Amy Boucher Pye

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, You exist in perfect harmony. May Your Spirit dwell in us that the world might see You, and believe.

Our strongest allegiance is to Christ, who gives us unity with each other.

INSIGHT: The Twelve had two things in common. They were the first to become Rabbi Jesus’s disciples. Accepting the role of a rabbi’s disciple in ancient Israel meant living in the rabbi’s presence full-time, diligently absorbing his teachings, and recruiting more followers. Aside from Judas Iscariot, all lived up to the demands of being a disciple. Second, aside from John, all of the faithful eleven disciples gave their life spreading the message of Jesus. Only John appears to have died of natural causes. This is one of the reasons we often hear about the cost of discipleship. Though we will not all pay that cost in the same way, every disciple will face the challenges and struggles of following Jesus. Bill Crowder

 

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John MacArthur – Strength for Today – A Right View of God

“Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned, and done what is evil in Thy sight, so that Thou art justified when Thou dost speak, and blameless when Thou dost judge” (Psalm 51:4).

True confession involves a proper understanding of God.

Today we will see a second element of true confession in David’s prayer in Psalm 51: true confession requires not only a proper view of sin, but also a proper view of God. David gives us an understanding of four essential truths about God.

First, God is holy. Affirming God’s omniscience, David declared, “Behold, Thou dost desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part Thou wilt make me know wisdom” (v. 6). David knew that because God is holy, He is never satisfied with mere external behavior.

Second, God is powerful. David prayed, “Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness” (vv. 7-8). David believed God had the power to change him—unlike some who think their sinful habits are too strong for Him to overcome.

Third, God will chastise believers for their sins. David pleaded with God, “Let the bones which Thou hast broken rejoice” (v. 8). He alluded to the way shepherds sometimes dealt with wayward sheep. They would take such troublesome sheep and break one of their legs. Then they would set the leg and carry the sheep while the leg healed. Afterwards the sheep would remain close to the shepherd. Through this picturesque metaphor, David described God’s chastisement of him for his sin.

Fourth, God is a forgiving God. “Hide Thy face from my sins,” pleaded David, “and blot out all my iniquities. . . . Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, Thou God of my salvation” (vv. 9, 14). David obviously believed God would forgive his sin or he would never have asked Him for forgiveness. In Isaiah 43:25 God Himself affirmed that He is a forgiving God: “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.”

Does your confession reflect a right view of God?

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise God for His holiness, power, and forgiveness.

For Further Study

Read the prayers of the exiles (Neh. 9:5-38) and Daniel (Dan. 9:4-19). What do those prayers tell you about their views of God?

 

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Wisdom Hunters – Strength in God 

And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God. 1 Samuel 23:16

Strength in God is significant, as it is our stronghold when we are in serious trouble. It is our source of encouragement and our motivation to persevere. Strength in God is easily accessible and always available. His strength is an unlimited reservoir of resolve. It may see us through the dying and death of a loved one. It lubricates the grinding grief of our heart and keeps us from total despair. The Lord’s strength is what gives us hope when our financial fortunes are tentative at best, or have been swept away altogether. But His strength will see us through a maze of money mishaps.

The sovereign strength of God is strong, unbending, and unyielding. Our confidence may be crumbling, our health may be hemorrhaging, or our relationships may be a complexity of confusion. Perhaps you discovered someone is not who he claimed to be. He lives two lives and now the truth is unfolding, and it is not pretty. In fact, he is coming after you because you are a threat to his secret life. So lean on the Lord, and draw your strength from your Savior. Prayer to the Almighty positions you to receive His power, so punctuate the power of God in your life with faith-filled prayer.

Moreover, God’s instruments for infusion of His strength are His people. Invite the encouragement of the Lord’s angelic agents. They are His ambassadors of goodwill, and their righteous aura reflects His strength. These are special friends who remain true when challenging things happen to you. Stick with the ones who stick with you and do not be embarrassed to lean on others during these lean times. Like a transfusion of blood, you may need a transfusion of faith. Your prayer platelets have fallen below what’s normal to a level of dangerous discouragement. Ask for prayer so that God will strengthen you and keep you focused in the middle of your own gnawing needs. Ask for prayer to be an encouragement to those who have encouraged you. Do not deny others the opportunity to strengthen you with their presence and prayers.

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Joyce Meyer – Running Over

Give, and [gifts] will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will they pour into [the pouch formed by] the bosom [of your robe and used as a bag]. For with the measure you deal out [with the measure you use when you confer benefits on others], it will be measured back to you.— Luke 6:38

When God created Adam and Eve, He blessed them, told them to be fruitful and multiply, and to use all the vast resources of the earth that He gave them in the service of God and man. Are you being fruitful? Is your life causing increase? When you get involved with people and things, do they increase and multiply? Some people only take in life, and they never add anything. I refuse to be that kind of person. I want to make people’s lives better.

We are to be sensitive to the needs of others—and I believe God gives us an ability to be touched by the infirmities of others for the express purpose of helping. We can be experts in bringing comfort. Courageous people are givers. Don’t selfishly and fearfully pass through this life, but do everything you can, every way you can, for everyone that you can, as often as you can. If that is your goal, you will be one of those rare individuals who actually makes the world a better place.

Lord, help me to use the gifts You’ve given me in the service of others. Make me to be fruitful in others’ lives. Amen.

From the book The Confident Woman Devotional: 365 Daily Devotions by Joyce Meyer.

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Has Not Deserted Me

“And He who sent Me is with Me – He has not deserted Me – for I always do those things that are pleasing to Him” (John 8:29).

If we have a conscience free of offense, and if we have evidence that we please God, it matters little if men oppose us or what others may think of us. “Enoch, before his translation, had this testimony – that he pleased God.”

It would not be fair for you or me to profess ignorance in this matter of pleasing God. If we had never known before, we know now that it comes from doing always those things He commands – which of course are the things that please Him.

Jesus is saying here, among other things, that God is with Him in the working of miracles. Though men had forsaken and rejected Him, yet God stayed by Him and worked in and through Him.

In the same way, God has made it possible for us to please Him by giving us His Holy Spirit to indwell, enable and empower us for service. With the available enablement, we are without excuse in the matter of doing the “greater things” He has promised for those who love and serve Him.

What better goal for today, tomorrow and all our coming days than to seek to please Him?

Bible Reading: John 8:25-28

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: So that Christ might be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death, I will seek to do only those things today which please Him.

 

 

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Ray Stedman – All Things Are Yours

Read: 1 Corinthians 3:16-23

All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future — all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God. 1 Corinthians 21b-23

Paul is showing what happens when you choose the wisdom of God and the ways of God. You end up gaining the whole world. That is what Jesus said — The meek shall inherit the earth, (Matthew 5:5). What a great and broad vista opens up to us in these words! After all, the trouble with the world is, if the world, or the worldly church, is offering you something, and you want it badly enough — its fame, pleasure, honor, wealth, whatever it is — you will probably get it. But that is all you will get.

Jesus said that if you do your giving to be seen of men you have your reward (Matthew 6:5). That is it. You will never get another one; nothing waiting for you beyond, no treasure laid up in heaven. If you do your praying to be heard of men so that you get a reputation for piety and godliness, well, you will get the reputation, but that is all you get. It is the world that is narrow; it is the world that is crabbed and withered and limited in its whole approach. But, as Paul reveals here, those who choose God never lose.

This is right in line with Jesus’ great principle, If you save your life you will lose it, but if you give up your life for my sake you will save it, (Matthew 16:25, Mark 8:35). Paul looks all around and says, He who lets God choose, ends up with everything. Why do you divide between Paul and Apollos and Cephas, and choose one among them? You can have them all, he says. They are all yours. Paul, who planted — his whole ministry is yours. Apollos, the waterer — his ministry is yours; you can get the benefit of it. Cephas, the rock — whatever there is of value in his ministry is yours. In fact the whole world is open to you. Led of the Spirit of God, you can go anywhere you want and God will give you things that money cannot buy.

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Losing Almost Everything

Read: Acts 27:1-26

But we must run aground on some island. (v. 26)

We can read the story of Paul in Acts as that of a man going from one beating and imprisonment to another. We can also read it as a story of a man going from one vision to another. Through a vision Paul was converted to Christ (Acts 9:1-31), sent to preach in Macedonia (16:9-10), encouraged to continue teaching God’s Word in Corinth (Acts 18:9-10), prepared for this very trip to testify in Rome about Jesus (23:11), and given courage to help everyone survive shipwreck (26:21-25). Paul was often accosted in the course of his work by a vision that strengthened, clarified, or transformed his sense of vocation, most dramatically when he first learned that he had been persecuting the followers of the God he meant to serve, and was converted to faith in Christ. These visions always came to Paul when he was already at work, already trying to obey.

We sometimes confuse God’s providence with freedom from danger. Reality is often closer to Paul’s experience: we lose the ship. We lose mobility, the ability to plan, the semblance of control. We are placed at the mercy of God—which is where we always already were.

Some sort of loss of control, of mobility, comes to us all. When you make the choice, as a Christian, to remember and identify with those in prison, it often comes quickly indeed. May we face it as Paul did.

Prayer:

Lord, when life wrecks us, help us remember that we’re your wrecks.

Author: Phil Christman

 

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Kids 4 Truth International – The LORD Is Excellent in Working

“This also cometh forth from the LORD of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.” (Isaiah 28:29)

Have you ever heard someone called a “workaholic”? What is a workaholic, anyway? It is a nickname given to people who work all the time. In the morning, all they can think about is working. At noontime, you have to remind them to eat lunch because they get so caught up in their work! And it is hard for them to go home and relax in the evenings, because all they seem to be able to think about is work. Work, work, work! Some people really do just love to work.

For most of us, though, work is not very lovable. When we think of fun things to do, working is not at the top of the “fun things to do” list. We are tempted to be lazy and stay away from work completely! We have to “work” to make ourselves even want to work!

God is not like us. He is not at all lazy, but He does not have to be a workaholic, either, in order to get done everything He gets done. God is sovereign. He is omnipotent (“om-NIH-po-tent,” all-powerful), omniscient (“om-NISH-ent,” all-knowing), and omnipresent (“om-nih-PREZ-ent,” all-present). So whatever He decides to do, He just does it, and He does it with the best possible quality! God’s works are all excellent. Deuteronomy 3:24 – “O LORD GOD, thou hast begun to shew thy servant thy greatness, and thy mighty hand: for what God is there in heaven or in earth, that can do according to thy works, and according to thy might.”

Because He is Who He is, the LORD’s works have to be excellent. He is God. Since Jesus is God, He did many wonderful works (including supernatural miracles) while He lived on Earth. And He did so many wonderful things that only a “few” of them could be fit into the Bible. The disciple John wrote, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written” (see John 21:25).

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The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – More Than Able

Today’s Scripture: Matthew 19:26

“With God all things are possible.”

To take Christ’s blessing and reign to the ends of the earth, not only must people go, but we must provide financial support for them or for modern communication means to reach places where people cannot go. Some of us must literally go, and all of us should participate in financial support. But the going is impotent and the financial support is futile if God doesn’t go before us to open the eyes of the blind and turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. And God does this as we plead his promises in prayer.

The scope of the Great Commission is vast, and the obstacles to its fulfillment are formidable. But as we pray let us remember the words of Paul: “now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21). God is more than able. The Great Commission will be fulfilled. Will you be a part of it? Will you help others discover the unsearchable riches of Christ that you now enjoy?

Meanwhile, I pray that you continue becoming more aware of those unsearchable riches you possess through your union with Christ. I pray you’ll realize the abundant riches of your inheritance in Christ and will not rest content with the spiritual equivalent of “fifty cents to buy a sack of cornmeal.” And I pray just as fervently that you will be challenged to get on board with God’s great plan to bless all nations, so that the ends of the earth will turn to the Lord.

 

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The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – A Burning Message

Today’s Scripture: Romans 1-3

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known… This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. – Romans 3:21-24

To find the secret behind the dynamic quality of the apostle Paul’s life, look at Romans 1. Here we find three “I am” statements that reveal the heart of this man of God.

In Romans 1:14, Paul says, “I am obligated both to Greeks and nonGreeks, both to the wise and the foolish.” Paul felt he had a debt to the world, not just to a select few, to tell them about the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

In verse 15, the apostle says, “I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome.” The Greek word translated here as eager has the idea of “burning up.” This is a strange thing when you consider that Paul was a Jew, and Romans hated Jews. He was small and frail, and Romans admired strength. He was not a powerful orator, and Rome was full of them.

The third “I am” is in verse 16: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” Paul had a burning desire to share the gospel, because he was not trusting in his natural abilities nor was he deterred by the lack of them. His confidence was in God and in the message of the gospel.

If you can say from your heart, like Paul, “I am a debtor; I am eager; I am not ashamed,” the Lord will use you in a remarkable way.

Prayer

Lord, I am willing to be molded into a workman who need not be ashamed. Amen.

To Ponder

The most important factor in being used by God is not our natural abilities, but our desire.

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – SALVATION LIVING: A CHOSEN PEOPLE

Read 1 PETER 2:9–12

In a 2012 naturalization ceremony in Atlanta, people from fifty-four countries gathered to take the oath of citizenship to the United States and then pledge allegiance to the flag. “Pledging allegiance to the flag was one of the proudest moments of my life,” said Stephen Park. “I believe strongly in the Constitution of this country. . . . I wanted the right to vote and I wanted the right to call myself an American.”

This metaphor of naturalization helps us to understand the weight of Peter’s message in our reading today. Recall that this letter was written to people spread across a wide geographical area (1:1). Yet despite their different ethnic backgrounds, different families of origin, and different cultural identities, they were now united in Christ as the people of God (v. 10).

In verses 9 and 10, Peter masterfully weaves together numerous phrases and allusions from the Old Testament to describe the identity of believers in Jesus. “Out of all nations you will be my treasured possession . . . a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:5–6). In contrast to those who deem the Cornerstone to be a stumbling block, those who trust Christ are joined in faith with all believers as part of the holy people of God (see Hosea 2:23).

Just as becoming a naturalized citizen confers both privileges and responsibilities, being part of God’s people shapes what we embrace and reject. Our new identity allows us to praise our great God who has chosen us, called us out of darkness, and showed mercy to us (vv. 9–10; see Isa. 43:20–21). It also motivates us to resist the sinful desires that try to pull us back into our old way of life. We are God’s chosen, royal, special people; praise and mercy triumph over sin and self- destruction.

APPLY THE WORD

This passage gives us ammunition against temptation. First, remember who you are—God’s treasured possession. Second, the practice of praise—focusing on who God is—strengthens us against sin. Third, join together with other believers. We are not isolated atoms but part of God’s people who can intercede for and support one another.

 

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