Charles Stanley – Dressed for Battle

 

Ephesians 6:10-18

When you wake up in the morning and get ready for the day, you’re probably not thinking about stepping onto a battlefield. But the enemy is all around us, constantly assaulting our heart and mind with temptations, adversities, emotional attacks, and more. And some days, it feels as though we are standing on the front lines of combat with no protection whatsoever.

Therein lies our misunderstanding. You see, we do have protection. The Lord made provision for our nakedness in battle. He hasn’t sent us to war unprotected. Instead, He’s given us a suit of armor that the enemy can’t penetrate—the armor of God.

In today’s passage, the apostle Paul tells us step by step how to prepare for our daily warfare, and yet most Christians don’t pay much attention to the instruction. We may say, “Well, that’s a nice metaphor, but we shouldn’t take it literally. After all, the armor isn’t real.” Yes, it is. It is as real as the clothes on your back.

Do you want to see a dramatic change in your life? Do you want to stand strong in the face of adversity? Do you want to overcome temptation? Then you need to dress for battle.

I challenge you to intentionally put on your spiritual armor every day for the next seven days. Put on one piece at a time—the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, the sandals of peace, the shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit. Just try it as you meditate daily on Ephesians 6:10-18, and watch what God will do.

Bible in One Year: Mark 10-12

 

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Our Daily Bread — Do We Have To?

Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 50-52; 1 Thessalonians 5

Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.—Luke 5:16

Joie started the children’s program with prayer, then sang with the kids. Six-year-old Emmanuel squirmed in his seat when she prayed again after introducing Aaron, the teacher. Then Aaron began and ended his talk with prayer. Emmanuel complained: “That’s four prayers! I can’t sit still that long!”

If you think Emmanuel’s challenge is difficult, look at 1 Thessalonians 5:17: “Pray continually” or always be in a spirit of prayer. Even some of us adults can find prayer to be boring. Maybe that’s because we don’t know what to say or don’t understand that prayer is a conversation with our Father.

Back in the seventeenth century, François Fénelon wrote some words about prayer that have helped me: “Tell God all that is in your heart, as one unloads one’s heart, its pleasures and its pains, to a dear friend. Tell Him your troubles, that He may comfort you; tell Him your joys, that He may sober them; tell Him your longings, that He may purify them.” He continued, “Talk to Him of your temptations, that He may shield you from them: show Him the wounds of your heart, that He may heal them . . . . If you thus pour out all your weaknesses, needs, troubles, there will be no lack of what to say.”

May we grow in our intimacy with God so that we will want to spend more time with Him. —Anne Cetas

For further study, read about Jesus’s example of prayer in John 17 and Luke 5:16.

Prayer is an intimate conversation with our God.

INSIGHT: Paul ends this letter with a frenzy of instructions. In today’s verses, one small string of phrases is closely linked and includes a key to their significance: “for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (vv. 16-18). We often wonder what God’s will is for us in our circumstances. Phrases like these, though couched in a presentation that seem to minimize their importance, help us to clarify what it is that God desires of us. Do you want to follow God’s will? “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” J.R. Hudberg

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Paradigms of Beauty

Dale Henderson gives cello concerts in New York City subway stations because he fears the day when classical music will be no more. He plays for free, focusing primarily on Bach Solo Cello Suites because their “power and beauty unfailingly inspire great appreciation, joy and deep emotion in those who hear them.”(1) Some commuters stop and stare, curious or captivated, many having never heard a cello or Bach concerto before. For Henderson, the music is an offering of something meaningful, seeds for future generations of classical music admirers who would not otherwise know it, beauty well worth lugging his heavy cello down into the subways to protect.

It is not always easy to talk about beauty without a minefield of objections or at best complicating list of qualifiers. Its modern place in the “eye of the beholder” gives it a tenuous feel at best. It’s ancient place as a perfect and ancient ideal is equally held with abstraction. While Henderson describes a world without classical music as soul-less, others may not miss it so much. And the contrast of beauty in a broken and breaking world makes its distinctive encounters increasingly stand out.

One author describes the common, but individual, effect of our varied encounters of the beautiful this way: “‘Beauty’ seems suited to those experiences that stop us in our tracks. Whether it’s a painting called Broadway Boogie-Woogie or a scherzo by Paganini, the beautiful is conducive to stillness. It doesn’t excite us, or necessarily instill in us the desire to replicate it; it simply makes us exist as though we’re existing for that very experience.”(2) His words are rife with the power of beauty to create longing, a desire to somehow participate. Beauty indeed leaves us with the ache of longing for another taste, another glimpse. And for each of us, this longing can come at unique or unsuspecting times—at the spectacular sight of the giant sequoias or a tiny praying mantis, at a concert or watching a First Nation powwow and taking in the colors, the drums, the survival of a betrayed people.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Paradigms of Beauty

John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Yielding to God

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace” (Romans 6:12-14).

Believers are to yield themselves to God, not to sin.

Three key words in Romans 6 define the believer’s relationship to sin: “know” (vv. 3, 6, 9), “consider” (v. 11), and “present” (v. 13). The first two speak of understanding and believing that we are dead to sin. The third demands of us active obedience in our lives based on that truth. Since we are truly dead to sin, we must not allow it to be the dominant force in our lives.

Sin is a dethroned monarch, but it is still present in this fallen world and desires to lure the believer back into its grasp. Knowing that, Paul exhorts Christians, “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts.” He says, “Sin has no right to rule; so don’t let it!” Peter echoed that thought in 1 Peter 2:11: “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul.”

How does a believer keep sin from reigning? Negatively, believers defeat sin by no longer “presenting the members of [their bodies] to sin as instruments of unrighteousness.” We must make sure that our thoughts, speech, and actions are not used for unrighteous purposes. Positively, we must yield all of our faculties to God as “instruments of righteousness.” To do both requires self-discipline—like that which Paul expressed in 1 Corinthians 9:27: “I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.”

Yield to sin, and experience chastening and sorrow; yield to God, and experience joy and blessing. Which will you choose today?

Suggestions for Prayer

Is there a part of your life (thoughts, speech, actions, habits) where sin still reigns? If so, confess it to God, and ask for His help in breaking sin’s hold in that area.

For Further Study

Memorize Romans 12:1 to help you remember the importance of yielding your body to God.

 

http://www.gty.org

Wisdom Hunters – Postures of Prayer 

When Solomon had finished all these prayers and supplications to the Lord, he rose from before the altar of the Lord, where he had been kneeling with his hands spread out toward heaven. 1 Kings 8:54

The posture of my body is an expression of my intimate prayers, supplications and worship to the Lord God Almighty. In humility and trust I can spiritually dive into the depths of God’s grace and love with an air tank full of faith and hope, or in self reliance I can dart back and forth on a spiritual jet ski across the surface of sound bite Christianity—loud and erratic, distracted by waves, only to end up where I started—exhausted and sunburned. But a body submitted in praise to its Creator experiences the quiet wonder of His love, enamored by the beauty of His holiness.

Solomon, in awe and gratitude, starts by standing up in this sacred moment thanking the Lord for His covenant of love to His people, expressed in His precious promises and exhibited in His faithfulness and favor over multiple generations. The king ends his prayers and supplications to Almighty God kneeling with his hands spread out to heaven, having confessed his sins and the sins of the people—sins resulting in the afflictions they suffered, but as a blessing brought them back to God. A body bowed in reverent worship reflects a heart bowed in reverent worship.

“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care” (Psalm 95:6-7).

Is your soul slumped over and exhausted like a marathoner who just crossed the finish line? If you are spiritually fatigued, you may need to start by sitting quietly before the Lord and let His Spirit fill your heart and mind with His reassuring presence and peace. Observe God’s handiwork around you—something as small and simple as a bustling bee gathering life giving nectar from a blossom— illustrates the sweet honey of Scripture infusing energy into your eternal self. A physical pause positions you to enter into the presence of Strength—Who empowers the weak.

Continue reading Wisdom Hunters – Postures of Prayer 

Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – Immeasurable Promises

Thus says the LORD: “If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done,” says the LORD.

Jeremiah 31:37

Recommended Reading

Jeremiah 33:24-26

Astronomers estimate the universe to be at least 93 billion light years in diameter—and a light year is six trillion miles. But the universe is expanding. As for the depths of the earth, the deepest part of the ocean is 6.85 miles—and it is nearly 3,959 miles to the center of the earth. So we have barely scratched the surface.

The prophets knew nothing of these numbers. They used the immensity of the universe and the size of the earth as measures of impossibility. When it came to the probability of God going back on His promises to Abraham, Jeremiah said (paraphrasing), “You could measure the universe and depths of the earth before God would go back on His Word. And we know the heavens and the earth cannot be measured.” It turns out that Jeremiah’s pre-scientific analogy was very accurate. Just as there is no end to the universe, so there is no end to God’s loyalty to Israel.

As a follower of Jesus, you are a spiritual child of Abraham. God’s promises of spiritual blessing to Abraham are promises to you as well.

God promises to keep His people, and He will keep His promises.

Charles H. Spurgeon

Read-Thru-the-Bible

Mark 10 – 11

 

http://www.davidjeremiah.org/

Joyce Meyer – Victory Is Worth the Cost

For by You I can run through a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall.- Psalm 18:29

Throughout the Bible, we find the commands of God always come with the promise of reward. God is not a taker; He is a giver. He never tells us to do anything unless it is for our ultimate benefit. I assure you: Everything God ever asks you to do, even if it is difficult, He asks because He has something great in mind for you—but in order to experience it, you will need to press through the hard place.

Don’t think or say, “This is just too hard” when you know you need to do something. Be grateful that God never requires you to handle more than you can bear. With every difficulty, He always provides a way to overcome. You never have to say, “There is no way,” because He is the way (see John 14:6) and He makes a way for you. You can do whatever God calls you to do in life! You have what it takes!

Prayer of Thanks: I am grateful, Father, that You won’t ask me to handle more than I can bear. Today, as I press through the difficult areas in my life, I thank You that I am not pressing through alone—You are with me!

From the book The Power of Being Thankful by Joyce Meyer.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Girlfriends in God – Take What’s Yours

Today’s Truth

I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own.

Philippians 3:12

Friend to Friend

Have you stepped out in faith—fully trusting in God, but then began to stumble—errantly depending on yourself? That’s what happened to the children of Israel when it came time to take the Promised Land.

Moses led the people under the bloodstained doorframes of the Passover, across the dry land of the Red Sea, and to the front door of the Promised Land. He guided them with a fire by night and a cloud by day. God took care of their needs and brought victory over every enemy they faced. And yet, when it came time to march into the Promised Land, the land that was theirs for the taking, they cowered in unbelief.

“Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites,” God instructed Moses. So Moses sent twelve spies to scout out the land. When they returned, ten gave the following report:

“We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there…” (Numbers 13:27-28)

Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”

But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size … We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” (Numbers 13:30-33)

The twelve spies were not sent into the land to access the problematic obstacles. They were sent into the land to take a peek at the promised blessings and bring back a sampling of its richness. This was not meant to be an exploratory mission to case the joint. Their names were already on the title deed. It was supposed to be a trip to get the folks stoked about the promises that waited just beyond the wall.

Continue reading Girlfriends in God – Take What’s Yours

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Brings You Comfort

Jesus said, “But I will send you the Comforter – the Holy Spirit, the source of all truth. He will come to you from the Father and will tell you all about Me” (John 15:26).

For years I was among the more than 95 percent of church members who, according to various surveys, are not knowledgeable concerning the person and ministry of the Holy spirit. Then God, in His gracious love and wisdom, showed me how simple it is to release His power into and through my life by faith, just as years before I had received assurance of my salvation by faith.

If I had only one message to proclaim to the Christian world, it would be this: how to know and experience, moment by moment, day by day, the reality of the fullness and power of the Holy Spirit. Everything that has to do with the Christian life involves God the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity.

We are born again through the ministry of the Spirit (John 3). The Holy Spirit inspired men of old to record the holy, inspired Word of God (2 Peter 1:21). Only those who are filled, controlled and empowered with His presence can comprehend what He communicated to those writers centuries ago, which is the message that He has for us today (1 Corinthians 2:14).

We cannot live holy lives apart form the Holy Spirit, for He alone can produce the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23) in our lives. We cannot pray intelligently unless the Holy Spirit enable us, for He makes intercession for us with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26). We have no power to witness for Christ apart form His power (Acts 1:8). Only the Holy Spirit can enable us to live a supernatural life.

Bible Reading: John 14:16-21

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I determine to learn everything I can about the Holy Spirit. I will refer to the concordance in my Bible and study every reference to Him in the Scriptures, and ask my pastor, or other spiritual leaders in whim I have confidence, to recommend books on the person and ministry of the Holy Spirit. I will not be satisfied with anything less than the love, joy, peace, victory and power that comes from living daily in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

 

http://www.cru.org

Ray Stedman – The Time Is Short

Read: 1 Corinthians 7:25-40

What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away. 1 Corinthians 7:29-31

All Paul says here hangs on the words the time is short. While Paul did anticipate the Lord Jesus Christ returning in his lifetime, I view this as Paul referring to the general brevity of life. The longer we live the more we sense how time seems to fly. As someone has said, About the time your face clears up, your mind begins to go. That’s how life seems to be.

But not just Christians see that; non-Christians also speak of the shortness of time, and their reaction is, Well, if life is so short, then let’s grab all we can. Let’s live life with gusto. There is nothing beyond, so let’s get all we can. Their philosophy seems to be: If you are going to be a passenger on the Titanic you might as well go first class. Live it up. Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die. But that’s not to be the Christian’s philosophy, Paul tells us.

Clearly the Christian response is: Use your short time for eternal purposes. Be sure that the aim and center of your life is not just making a living, but making a life. That’s what he is saying, and why he says, let those who have wives live as though they had none. He is not encouraging you to neglect your wife or your responsibilities to your children and your home. What he is saying is that we are to keep things in proper focus. Do not let maintaining your home be the major reason for your existence, or give all your time to enjoying this present life. Life has higher demands and higher challenges.

Therefore, even marriage, God-given and beautiful as it is, is not the highest choice an individual can make. If some choose not to marry, to instead pursue other standards, especially spiritual involvement, their choice should be affirmed as good and proper. No one should put them down for it. So his word to us is, Do not let things that the world around you lives for become the center of your life. Joys and sorrows are seen quite differently from the viewpoint of eternity. Success in business is not life’s greatest aim, for all in this world is passing away, even its fame and glory.

Continue reading Ray Stedman – The Time Is Short

Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – The Beginning of Endings

Read: Genesis 3:1-24

Therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden. (v. 23)

Sin turns beginnings into endings. Sin brought an end to the wonderful relationship Adam and Eve enjoyed with God, replacing it with shame and guilt. Sin and selfishness damage earthly relationships, cause people to lose their freedom for crimes they have committed, or bring an end to unity in a church. Since we now live in a sinful world, we face the realities of sickness, terrorism, falsehood, violence, theft, and death. These bring an end to good gifts from God such as health, freedom, peace, and life. No matter if it’s the sin of others, our own sin, or just part of living in a sin-tainted world, sin can be the beginning of an end.

Adam and Eve’s sinful disobedience ended the beautiful and pure life in the garden. Our first parents are to blame, but as their descendants let’s also look in the mirror and see the sin in our own lives. Although we have inherited a sinful nature, each of us also sins against God individually through wrong thoughts, words, and actions. Our own sin damages things that have started well and leads to painful endings.

How has your sin led to a painful ending in your life? How has it negatively affected others? As we will see in tomorrow’s devotional, there is hope for us in Jesus Christ! Our guilt and shame can come to an end!

Prayer:

God of grace, forgive me of the sins I’ve committed, sins that have led to brokenness and premature endings. Amen.

Author: Steve Petroelje

 

 

Greg Laurie – Until His Work Is Done

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. —Philippians 1:6

Sometimes I start projects with great enthusiasm, only to lose interest and move on to something else. I’m thankful God never does that with us. He always completes what He starts. In Hebrews 12:2 we are told we should be “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” God finishes what He begins.

But sometimes the Devil whispers into a believer’s ear, “You’re not going to make it as a Christian. You’re going to crash and burn.” That is a lie. The Bible says that God “is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24). And we are told in Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Storms will come into every life, into the lives of both believers and nonbelievers. The rain will fall and the winds will blow. But it is only the child of God who can lay hold of Romans 8:28, which says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Nonbelievers can quote that verse if they’d like, but it has no relevance to them whatsoever. Only Christians can lay hold of that promise.

Storms come and storms go. For some, life itself is one long storm. They may be facing very difficult circumstances. It could be a disability. It could be some tragedy that has befallen them and has altered their very existence.

There is hope, because no matter what you are going through right now, storms don’t last forever. God is in control. You will get to the other side.

 

https://www.harvest.org/

Kids 4 Truth International – God Is Our Source for Life

“Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8a)

Maria turned on the faucet for her mom. Then she slowly followed the hose to where her mom was watering the flowers. “How was your day, Maria?” her mom asked.

“Not very good,” Maria said. “Jessica ruined it.”

“Jessica ruined your whole day. Hmm. How did Jessica do that?”

“She didn’t want to sit by me or play with me today. She played with Sarah instead. Jessica’s supposed to be my best friend!” Maria glanced at the flowers. “That flower needs some water, Mom. It looks brown.”

“My hose doesn’t reach that plant,” she said. “I need to replant that flower before it dies.”

“Oh,” Maria said. “Anyway, it’s going to be a bad year. I am the only third-grader without a best friend.”

“I know how important Jessica’s friendship is to you, sweetie. I’m sure she will still be your friend if you talk to her about it.” Mom started rolling up the hose, and they walked back to the house. “But Maria, don’t let this ruin your year – or even your day. You can still be happy even if Jessica is being unkind.”

“But it’s so hard! How can I be happy when Jessica is being mean to me?”

Continue reading Kids 4 Truth International – God Is Our Source for Life

The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Warmth and Desire

Today’s Scripture: Psalm 42:1

“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.”

In the life of the godly person, this desire for God produces an aura of warmth. Godliness is never austere and cold. Such an idea comes from a false sense of legalistic morality erroneously called godliness. The person who spends time with God radiates his glory in a manner that is always warm and inviting, never cold and forbidding.

This longing for God also produces a desire to glorify God and to please him. In the same breath, Paul expressed the desire to know Christ as well as to be like him (Philippians 3:10). This is God’s ultimate objective for us and is the object of the Spirit’s work in us. In Isaiah 26:9, the prophet proclaimed his desire for the Lord: “My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks you.” Immediately before this expression of desire for the Lord, he expresses a desire for his glory: “your name and renown are the desire of our hearts” (verse 8, NIV). Renown has to do with one’s reputation, fame, and eminence—or in God’s case, with his glory. The prophet could not separate in his heart his desire for God’s glory and his desire for God himself. These two yearnings go hand in hand.

This is devotion to God—the fear of God, which is an attitude of reverence and awe, veneration, and honor toward him, coupled with an apprehension deep within our souls of the love of God for us, demonstrated preeminently in Christ’s atoning death. These two attitudes complement and reinforce each other, producing within our souls an intense desire for this one who is so awesome in his glory and majesty, yet so condescending in his love and mercy.

 

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The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Our Great God

Today’s Scripture: 2 Samuel 21-24

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. – Psalm 23:1

David’s life was something like a roller coaster. At one point we find him on the mountaintop, rejoicing in a great victory. Turn the page and we find him in the pit, despairing of life and harassed by his enemies. Through it all there is one constant. David knew God in a personal way, and he praised God and worshiped Him for who He is.

David’s words give us a marvelous portrait of God. There is none like Him; no one can be compared to the Lord. The promises of men may go unfulfilled, but the Word of the Lord is true and trustworthy. David goes on to say: God is my rock, my strength and power, my hiding place, my fortress in whom I am safe, my high tower, my stronghold. Am I in distress? God is my deliverer. Are the fiery darts of the enemy pelting me? God is my shield. Am I pursued by the enemy of my soul? The Lord is my refuge.

What does all this mean to me? If the problems of life threaten to sink me under the load, He is my support; I can cast all my cares upon Him. If I’ve lost my direction in the dark, His Word is my lamp, showing me the way. If I am oppressed, He saves me from him who seeks the ruin of my soul.

If the Lord is our God, we will submit our will to Him and depend on His power, wisdom, and goodness to see us safely home.

Prayer

Lord, I want to be like David. When my soul is downcast, put a song of praise in my mouth, and show me how to worship You for the great God that You are. Amen.

To Ponder

The very God that David described is my God. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

 

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BreakPoint –  InterVarsity Upholds Christian Teaching, and Many Don’t Like It

Recently on BreakPoint, we told you how Baptist ethicist David Gushee proclaimed there was no more middle ground on LGBT issues. He’s right. You either approve of so-called sexually progressive ideas or you don’t—and if you don’t, you’ve placed yourself in the bigoted, wrong-side-of-history category.

That’s exactly what happened with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Earlier this month, IV informed employees that they were expected to align with traditional Christian teaching on marriage and human sexuality. If they couldn’t, they were asked to come forward.

TIME magazine reported on the announcement this way. “One of the largest evangelical organizations on college campuses nationwide “has told its 1,300 staff members they will be fired if they personally support gay marriage or otherwise disagree with its newly detailed positions on sexuality starting on November 11.” They called it a “theological purge.”

But they completely misreported the story.

This was no out-of-nowhere,  drop-the-bomb announcement. IV conducted a four-year study of human sexuality and the Bible to write a 20 page position paper, that wasn’t limited to beliefs about homosexuality or same-sex marriage. They then initiated an 18-month process of communicating their positions to staff, which was simply a clarified version of what they’d always held on these issues. “The goal,” according to IV, “was to clarify our position while also providing ample time for those whose convictions differed to seek out better-fitting ministry opportunities.”

Staff were given the paper in March 2015, not last week. And they offered to help those who didn’t align with their convictions with their transition to different employment.

In other words, IV affirmed what Christians have always believed about sexuality until culturally yesterday. As expected, some staff—though as I understand it, very few—didn’t align with the new policy. Some were upset, which is to be expected. But I don’t know a single organization, much less a Christian organization, that doesn’t expect employees to align with their values.

Continue reading BreakPoint –  InterVarsity Upholds Christian Teaching, and Many Don’t Like It

Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – LIVING FAITHFULLY IN SUFFERING

Read 1 PETER 4:12–19

Tariku Fufa was thirteen years old when he decided to follow Jesus. Upon hearing the news, his father gave him an ultimatum: “Tariku, I give you a choice between Jesus and family.” When the boy remained firm in his commitment to Christ, his father beat him, cut his face with a knife, and threw him out into the streets of Begi, Ethiopia, to fend for himself. Without his medication, Tariku nearly died from an asthma attack, but felt God’s assurance that He had something else in store for this young man.

Believers in many parts of the world today know from painful experience what it means to suffer for the name of Christ. Our passage today contains two shocking messages about Christian suffering, specifically opposition from others because they know from our lives and our testimony that we are identified with Jesus.

First, we should not be surprised or find it strange that suffering befalls those who follow Jesus (v. 12). But in fact, many of us do assume that our Christian faith and good lives will make us popular and successful. As Peter has outlined throughout this letter, when we identify with Christ, our lives no longer align with the world’s values. And our Savior Himself suffered unjustly.

The second shocking message is that when we suffer, we should praise God (v. 16). It’s important to note that this is not Christian stoicism or fatalism. Just as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane (and in keeping with the prayers in the Psalms), we can ask God to protect and deliver us. But our perspective on being persecuted because we follow Christ should be shaped by praise: gratitude that we have the privilege of being identified with Jesus, and thankfulness that our God will be faithful (vv. 16–19).

APPLY THE WORD

Six years later, Tariku’s father asked his forgive- ness. Concluding that it was a miracle he was alive, Tariku’s siblings and many in his village accepted Christ. Today he ministers to Africans in 23 countries. Pray for persecuted believers around the world, for God’s protection and reasons to praise His name.

http://www.todayintheword.org

Denison Forum – DALLAS CHURCH CRITICIZED FOR DISCIPLINING GAY MEMBER

On October 9, 2015, a member of Watermark Church in Dallas received a letter responding to his homosexual lifestyle. The letter noted that the church had worked with the man over several years to help him repent of such relationships.

However, the man’s decision to continue in a homosexual relationship caused the church to remove him from its membership and to treat him “as we would anyone who is living out of fellowship with God.” The congregation is praying “that repentance comes quickly and that you do not continue choosing a path of destruction and one that leads you away from the authority and care of the church.”

On the one-year anniversary of receiving the letter, the man described his anger on Facebook: “You are tarnishing the name of God to Christians and non-Christians alike; you should be ashamed of yourselves! Do not forget, Jesus was a [sic] angry with people just like you who said certain groups of people were not worthy to be followers of Him.”

Dallas Morning News columnist Jacquielynn Floyd was highly critical of the church in a column under the headline, “Watermark megachurch banned a gay man that it didn’t deserve to have as a member.” Floyd stated: “A church that chooses a path leading it to harass and condemn its own blameless members isn’t doing itself any favors. Running around trying to change turtles into ducks seems out of step with established science and enlightened interpretation of Scripture.”

Yesterday, Watermark Pastor Todd Wagner responded. Todd and I have been friends for years, and I greatly admire his passion for Christ, his congregation, and his community. I urge you to read his entire column in the Dallas Morning News.

Todd explains that the former member made clear to the church that “he no longer believed same-sex sexual activity was inappropriate for a follower of Jesus Christ and no longer desired to turn from it.” As a result, “Like any member whose beliefs move away from the core commitments, biblical convictions, and values of Watermark, it became appropriate to formally acknowledge his desire not to pursue faithfulness to Christ with us.”

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