Charles Stanley – Carry the Light

 

John 1:1-9

In the Bible, light is equated with good. For instance, Jesus called Himself light—He said, “I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness” (John 12:46).

In contrast, the world we live in is dark (John 3:19). However, once we trust Jesus as our Savior, He lives within us through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Therefore, when we’re saved, we have the light with us (John 8:12).

Just before Jesus ascended into heaven, He instructed His followers to “make disciples of all the nations” (Matt. 28:19-20). This charge, known as the Great Commission, still applies. In other words, Christians must carry the light to a dark world. But how do we do this? Here are three ways.

  • God will send some of us abroad to share the truth of Jesus Christ. There are people in other countries who have never heard how to receive salvation, and we can go as missionaries to tell them.
  • The Father also calls Christians to spread the good news of the gospel right where they are—in their neighborhoods, families, and workplaces.
  • The Lord asks His followers to give of the resources He’s provided—whether money, talents, or gifts—so His message of salvation can be shared with the world.

Are you willing to tell others about Jesus in whatever way the Lord has in mind? Ask God how He would like you to shine His light into the world. Then be available and obedient to carry out His plan.

Bible in One Year: Acts 3-4

 

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Our Daily Bread — A New Purpose

Read: Mark 1:16–22

Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 48–49; Hebrews 7

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”—Mark 1:17

Jacob Davis was a tailor with a problem. It was the height of the Gold Rush in the 1800s American West and the gold miners’ work pants kept wearing out. His solution? Davis went to a local dry goods company owned by Levi Strauss, purchased tent cloth, and made work pants from that heavy, sturdy material—and blue jeans were born. Today, denim jeans in a variety of forms (including Levi’s) are among the most popular clothing items in the world, and all because tent material was given a new purpose.

Simon and his friends were fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. Then Jesus arrived and called them to follow Him. He gave them a new purpose. No longer would they fish for fish. As Jesus told them, “Come, follow me, . . . and I will send you out to fish for people” (Mark 1:17).

With this new purpose set for their lives, these men were taught and trained by Jesus so that, after His ascension, they could be used by God to capture the hearts of people with the message of the cross and resurrection of Christ. Today, we follow in their steps as we share the good news of Christ’s love and salvation.

May our lives both declare and exhibit this love that can change the lives, purposes, and eternal destinies of others. —Bill Crowder

Help me, Lord, to represent You well so that others might be drawn to Your love and salvation.

With our new life in Christ we have been given a new purpose.

INSIGHT: In ancient cultures, the family relationship was more than a heritage; it was an identity. The family business wasn’t simply a way to earn a living; it was a commitment to family. This cultural setting shows two surprising aspects to Jesus’s call of His disciples. First, the authority and absoluteness of Jesus’s call. He calls these men to accept an immediate, complete, and permanent change of life and an entirely new destiny. Jesus’s call to discipleship trumps even the closest relationships (see Mark 10:29-30). Second, the immediate and unquestioning response of the disciples. “At once” can also be translated “immediately.” These men left father and business to follow Jesus with no hesitation. J.R. Hudberg

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Faith and the Whole Picture

I’ve been trying to avoid using the word ‘faith’ recently. It just doesn’t get the message across. ‘Faith’ is a word that’s now misused and twisted. ‘Faith’ today is what you try to use when the reasons are stacking up against what you think you ought to believe. Greg Koukl sums up the popular view of faith, “It’s religious wishful thinking, in which one squeezes out spiritual hope by intense acts of sheer will. People of ‘faith’ believe the impossible. People of ‘faith’ believe that which is contrary to fact. People of ‘faith’ believe that which is contrary to evidence. People of ‘faith’ ignore reality.” It shouldn’t therefore come as a great surprise to us, that people raise their eyebrows when ‘faith’ in Christ is mentioned. Is it strange that they seem to prefer what seems like reason over insanity?

It’s interesting that the Bible doesn’t overemphasize the individual elements of the whole picture of faith, like we so often do. But what does the Bible say about faith? Is it what Simon Peter demonstrates when he climbs out of the boat and walks over the water towards Jesus? Or is it what Thomas has after he has put his hand in Jesus’s side? Interestingly, biblical faith isn’t believing against the evidence. Instead, faith is a kind of knowing that results in action. The clearest definition comes from Hebrews 11:1. This verse says, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” In fact, when the New Testament talks about faith positively it only uses words derived from the Greek root [pistis], which means ‘to be persuaded.’ In those verses from Hebrews, we find the words, “hope,” “assurance,” “conviction” that is, confidence. Now, what gives us this confidence?

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Faith and the Whole Picture

John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Living Unselfishly

“If you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth” (James 3:14).

A wise person lives for God and others, not for self.

Having characterized spiritual wisdom in the preceding verse, James begins to analyze worldly wisdom in verse 14. Worldly wisdom is not of God. It has no relationship to Him, is not obedient to Him, and has no knowledge of His truth.

What is the motive of someone who lives according to worldly wisdom? “Bitter jealousy and selfish ambition.” The Greek word translated “bitter” also means “harsh” and is used of bitter, undrinkable water. “Bitter jealousy” carries the idea of a harsh, bitter self-centeredness that produces a resentful attitude toward others. People with bitter jealousy live in a world that focuses on themselves. They react in a jealous manner toward anyone who threatens their territory, accomplishments, or reputation. They resent anyone who threatens to crowd their slice of this world. They consider people who differ from them as implacable enemies. And they are bitterly jealous of anyone who is successful.

The Greek term translated “selfish ambition” refers to a personal ambition that creates rivalry, antagonism, or a party spirit. That’s another way of pointing to self. The person who follows human wisdom begins with a “bitter jealousy” that creates an attitude of competition and conflict. Then “selfish ambition” generates a party spirit and bitterness toward others. James is saying that ungodly wisdom is self-centered, and its goal is personal gratification at any cost.

What about you? Are you motivated by jealousy and selfish ambition? Be honest in your evaluation. Take a serious inventory of your heart and ask yourself, Am I serving others instead of fulfilling my own desires at the expense of others?

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Ask God to convict you when you put yourself before Him and others.
  • Repent of any present situations in which you are doing that very thing.

For Further Study

Read the following verses: Genesis 37:4; 1 Samuel 18:8; Luke 15:25-30; 22:24.

  • What was the sin in each example?
  • Read and study 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 to learn how the qualities of love are opposite to human wisdom.

 

http://www.gty.org

Wisdom Hunters – In God We Trust 

A king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a vain hope for victory, and by its great might it cannot save. Psalm 33:16-17

We are tempted to put our hope and trust in countless things: military might, economic strength, education and beauty, to name but a few. Each of these offers a promise of significance, success, and safety. Yet if we have learned anything from history, we know that armies are defeated, economies can crumble, and beauty is fleeting (Proverbs 31:30).

When we live surrounded by prosperity and success, it is easy to think that these promises are true. As a result, though we may not say it, we live in ways that show how we’ve placed our hope and trust in these earthly powers. We misplace our hope when we allow anxiety and fear to arise within us when one of these powers begins to fail. In times of political strife and turmoil, for example, are we as Christians able to remain hopeful in the steadfast love and unshakable power of the Lord? This is the way of life that the Psalmist invites us into.

“Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and shield. Our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you” (Psalm 33:20-22).

In each and every generation, God’s people must learn and live out this profound truth.

The Lord alone is our source of help and protection. Our joy and happiness is not linked to our personal success or national strength but is found only in the love of God that he freely lavishes upon us. And when we encounter times of great trial, conflict, or pain, we are never to despair for we know that the Lord is with us. As we are reminded in the book of Isaiah, “though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, my unfailing love for you will not be shaken” (Isaiah 54:10).

Continue reading Wisdom Hunters – In God We Trust 

Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – You Are the Light

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:16

Recommended Reading

Matthew 5:14-16

When hikers are lost in a vast wilderness, completely turned around with no sense of direction, they look for one thing at night: light! If they can climb a tree or get to the top of a mountain, they look far into the distance to search for a glimpse of light—any kind of light. Light means electricity; electricity means people; people means help; help means survival.

Our world today has become a vast, trackless wilderness enveloped in darkness. People are lost; people are wandering through life without a sense of direction and without hope of being found. It is no surprise how frequently the Bible uses “light” as a symbol for spiritual awakening and salvation. Jesus said He was “the light of the world” (John 8:12); and when He left earth, He designated His followers to be that light: “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). The purpose of the light is to draw mankind out of the wilderness to a place where they can be rescued and saved.

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are the light of the world! Let your life be a source of light—what Jesus called “your good works”—so the lost will be drawn to Christ in you.

The gospel is light but only the Spirit can give sight.

  1. W. Tozer

Read-Thru-the-Bible

John 20 – 21

 

http://www.davidjeremiah.org/

Joyce Meyer – Power Source

And what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.—Ephesians 1:19 NKJV

In today’s scripture Paul prayed that we would know the exceeding greatness of God’s power toward us. God is powerful, and anyone who believes in God surely believes that, but the question is: Do we believe His power is available to us and that it exists for us? Being able to live power-filled lives starts when we believe that power is available for us.

God’s power is greater than any other power in the universe, and it is limitless. This power, which is “toward us,” has already been given. In Luke, Jesus said, “Behold I have given you power…” We do not need to strive for power or hope to have power someday; we have power now! The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in us (see Rom. 8:11) and we can be quickened (filled with life) by that power. This is not a onetime filling that slowly drains out of us as the days go by, but we can be filled day by day and even moment by moment. We can constantly and continually experience God’s presence and power in our lives. When we belong to Him, there is never a time when His power is not accessible to us.

Just think: if your local power company called and said you were chosen to receive free power for the rest of your life, you would probably get so excited! This is the way life is when we are connected by faith to God’s power. You have to pay for the power that comes into your home, but your power for life has been paid for by Jesus Christ.

Love God Today: Think about this: You are never, ever in a powerless position, because God makes His power available to you at all times.

From the book Love Out Loud by Joyce Meyer.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Girlfriends in God – When Mercy Meets Messy

Today’s Truth

Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’

John 8:10

Friend to Friend

A four-year-old girl was overheard reciting the Lord’s Prayer, “and forgive us our trash baskets, as we forgive those who pass trash against us.” When I first heard that story, I smiled. Then I thought of a conversation I had had recently with a girlfriend.

She is a Christian friend. But though she has “emptied her trash basket” of sin before the Lord in sincere repentance, she has not emptied it of self-condemnation. Not completely. She holds the trash basket lid on tightly.

She is haunted by shame. Haunted by mistakes that are no longer remembered by a holy God. Haunted by sins that have been cast as far as the east is from the west.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him. (Psalm 103:11-13)

These memories haunt her regularly like a spine-chilling horror film monster. As much as she would like to move forward in forgiveness, she just can’t find the courage to scare the monster away.

In the New Testament book of John, chapter 8, we meet a woman caught in the act of adultery. The legalistic teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought her before Jesus. They publicly humiliated her in front of all the town’s people, saying to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” (John 8:4-5)

Continue reading Girlfriends in God – When Mercy Meets Messy

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Before We Even Call

“I will answer them before they even call to Me. While they are still talking to Me about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!” (Isaiah 65:24).

Allenby’s Bridge, which spans the Jordan River, was built to honor the man whom God used to lead the miraculous conquest of Jerusalem with the firing of a single gun.

Allenby recalled how, as a little boy when he use to lisp his evening prayers, he was taught to repeat after his mother the closing part of the prayer:

“And, O Lord, we will not forget They ancient people, Israel. Lord, hasten the day when Israel truly shall be thy people and shall be restored to They favor and to their land.”

“I never knew then,” Allenby said at a reception in London, “that God would give me the privilege of helping to answer my own childhood prayers.”

Even more wonderful than that kind of divine providence is the truth expressed in Isaiah 65:24 (KJV): “Before they call I will answer.” I have seen this promise fulfilled many times in the global program of Campus Crusade for Christ. Even during the time we have prayed for desperate needs – financial and otherwise – God was already laying it upon the hearts of His faithful people to respond.

What a great comfort to know that we serve that kind of God!

Bible Reading: Isaiah 65:18-25

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Even as I pray for the needs of others and myself today, I will remember the power and faithfulness of God who has already begun to answer even before I ask

 

http://www.cru.org

Ray Stedman – Who Am I, Lord?

Read: Romans 12:3-8

For by the grace given to me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. Romans 12:3

Paul says to think about yourself. Many people get the idea that the Christian life consists of never thinking about yourself. Because we know that ultimately we are to reach out to others, we think that there is never any place for thinking about ourselves. That is wrong. It is true that some Christians have abused this to such a degree that all they think about is themselves. I know Christians like this who are forever going around taking their spiritual temperature, feeling their spiritual pulse, and worrying about their spiritual condition. It is wrong to think continually of nothing but yourself, but it is quite right to take time, occasionally, to evaluate yourself and where you are in your Christian life. In fact, Paul exhorts us with his apostolic authority to do so. For by the grace given to me, i.e., the gift of apostleship, based on that office he exhorts every one of us to take time to think through who we are.

Paul stresses that you have to do this in a way that avoids overrating yourself. Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought. He puts this first because this is such a natural tendency with us. But feelings can change and fluctuate a thousand times a minute. They are dependent upon so many factors over which we have no control. The most foolish thing in the world is to judge yourself on the basis of how you feel at any given moment. Feelings aren’t wrong; they are just not what you base your evaluation of yourself on. On what basis should you evaluate yourself? The answer, of course, is on how God sees you. That is reality — what God says you are. It is a two-fold evaluation, as the apostle makes clear in this verse.

Continue reading Ray Stedman – Who Am I, Lord?

Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – The Gospel the Power of God

Read: Romans 1:16-17

I am not ashamed of the gospel. (v. 16)

The gospel of Jesus Christ arouses ridicule, opposition, even hatred. A little religion, especially if it’s kept private and quiet, is one thing; it’s even quite respectable. Entire university departments are devoted to the study of religion.

But the gospel is another matter. At the center of the gospel, as Romans explains it, is the message of the cross, which proclaims that human sin has cut us off from God, and human religion can’t bring us back again. Only the death of God’s own Son can make us right with God. That message offends human pride and human wisdom, and it’s very tempting to soft-peddle it in order to avoid embarrassment. Oh yes, I know what it’s like to be ashamed of the gospel. Don’t you?

But Paul was not ashamed because he knew from experience that “it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (v. 16). The gospel is not about the power of God; it is the power of God for the specific purpose of saving us from sin, death, judgment, and hell.

But to experience this power, we must receive the gospel with faith. Paul says that the gospel is the power of God for salvation, not to everyone, but “to everyone who believes.” If you don’t believe it, the gospel is nothing to you. Many today assume that those who don’t believe the gospel will nevertheless be saved somehow. I don’t think the apostle would agree.

—David Bast

Prayer: May I always glory in the gospel.

 

Kids 4 Truth International – Jesus Is a Wonderful Counselor

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor.” (Isaiah 9:6)

Have you ever been to camp? If you have, you know what it is to have a counselor. Your counselor is a person who answers your questions, helps you find your way around the camp, stays in the cabin with you at night, and basically looks out for you during your week at camp. If you have been to a Christian camp, your counselor might have prayed with you, talked with you about problems in your life, or answered your questions about the preacher’s messages. If you had a good counselor, you probably came away from camp thinking that your counselor was the next best thing to chocolate ice cream!

Isaiah 9:6 calls the Messiah, Jesus Christ, a Wonderful Counselor. Jesus is far better than the best of the best counselors you could have at camp. Those counselors might be good people who truly want to help you, but they are not the kind of counselor that Jesus is. Jesus is a perfectly holy and powerful Person. He is 100% God and 100% Man, and He knows exactly how to help you with any problem you have.

Just a few years ago, your camp counselors were probably campers just like you – campers who needed counselors themselves. Romans 11:34 tells us that Jesus has never needed to have a counselor. He has never needed any help or advice from anyone. He has always been perfect in wisdom and knowledge. He is a Counselor you do not have to leave behind at the end of an exciting week of camp. Once He becomes Your Savior, He will go with you through your entire life – guiding you, caring for you, listening to you, and giving you wisdom for each problem you face.

How do we get counsel (wise advice or help) from Jesus? In James 1:5, God promises to give us wisdom if we ask him for it. In Psalm 119:24, the psalmist says that we can find His counsel in His Word, the Bible. As you read God’s Word, look for things that apply to your life. Look for commands you can obey. Look for promises you can trust in. Look for guidance about specific problems you might have. You can never go wrong following the counsel of Jesus. He is a Wonderful Counselor.

Jesus is a Wonderful Counselor.

My Response:

» Am I looking for and following the counsel of Jesus in His Word?

 

http://kids4truth.com/home.aspx

BreakPoint – The Election, the Culture, and the Church: Where are We, and Where are We Headed?

For most Americans, the results of Tuesday’s presidential elections came as a shock, even a surprise, and for many, a bit of a relief.

That feeling of relief is understandable. While there’s no way to be sure what will happen over the next four years, Christians may very well have gained a reprieve in areas such as religious freedom and attempts to impose the new sexual orthodoxy and gender ideology on our schools.

So relief? Yes. But I’d caution against elation, because what happened on Tuesday was more of a reprieve than a vindication. A close read of Tuesday’s results, beyond the presidential race, shows that the cultural trends we’ve been talking about on BreakPoint for years continue unimpeded.

The saddest example is Colorado voters’ approval of doctor-assisted suicide by a two-to-one margin. I warned on this broadcast that so-called “right to die” invariably becomes a duty to die. I reminded my fellow Coloradans that in a state currently in the midst of an epidemic of teen suicide, approving doctor-assisted suicide sends the wrong message.

But it didn’t matter. The siren song of unlimited personal autonomy and self-definition proved irresistible to a large majority of Coloradans.

And a similar dynamic was at work in the various ballot initiatives concerning marijuana. Voters in California, Massachusetts, and Nevada joined Colorado and Washington in legalizing marijuana outright. As of this writing, the result in Maine is too close to call, although supporters of legalization have already declared victory.

Meanwhile, voters in Florida, Arkansas and North Dakota approved so-called “medical marijuana” use. I say “so-called” because if history is any indication, these laws amount to legalization by just another name.

Only Arizona, thanks largely to the efforts of the Council for Arizona Policy, bucked the trend for legalized weed.

Continue reading BreakPoint – The Election, the Culture, and the Church: Where are We, and Where are We Headed?

Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – TO FOLLOW CHRIST IS TO BE FREE FROM GREED

Read HEBREWS 13:1–8

Martin Luther once wrote: “It isn’t sinful to have money and property, a spouse and children, and a house or home. But don’t let these possessions control you. Rather, make them your servants and be their master. Remember what people say about a kind and generous individual, ‘He is master of his money.’ Money doesn’t control him.”

As we wrap up these days studying worry, contentment, and money, we see that the bottom line is that we can serve only one master. Greed means that we are worried and anxious about and focused on money and things instead of God. So unless we are free from greed we cannot truly follow Christ. Today’s verse is embedded in a series of exhortations that describe a life of genuine Christian discipleship.

With reference to our topic, we have two commands in verse 5. The first is negative, “Keep your lives free from the love of money.” Another translation says, “Your conduct must be free from the love of money.” This includes money-related greed, envy, covetousness, worry, and anxiety. The second command is the positive flip side, “Be content with what you have.” “Content” means pleased or satisfied.

Two main reasons are given for these two commands. The first is that God is always with us. The writer of Hebrews quotes Joshua, when he succeeded Moses as leader just before the Israelites entered the Promised Land (Deut. 31:6, repeated by Moses in 31:8). This implies not only that God provides, but also that His presence is all we need. The second reason is therefore that God is our unchanging helper and protector (vv. 6, 8; Ps. 118:6–7). His power certainly transcends any of the perceived power or control given by riches. Put these two reasons together and we have no room left for worry!

APPLY THE WORD

If we are to master our money, we need good teaching and good tools. Bible studies on money, stewardship, and giving are solid places to start. The sound principles taught in, for example, the Financial Peace University seminar, have helped many. Tools such as budget worksheets, financial calculators, and expense-trackers are also useful.

 

http://www.todayintheword.org

Denison Forum – 4 responses to ‘President Trump’—which is yours?

World leaders are offering their support for Donald Trump following his shocking election. Republicans who opposed him are also pledging to work with him. “This needs to be a time of redemption, not a time of recrimination,” according to Speaker Paul Ryan.

Meanwhile, anti-Trump rallies were staged across the country last night. At least sixty-five protesters were arrested in New York City; crowds gathered in Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Dallas, and other cities.

What is your response to the man who is likely the most unlikely president-elect in history? You’re probably in one of four groups.

One: You are elated. You’re convinced that God answered your prayers and sent Mr. Trump to lead our nation in this perilous hour. I received emails throughout the campaign comparing him to Cyrus the Great, Winston Churchill, and other historic leaders. Many felt that God raised him up “for such a time as this.”

Two: You are glad but not elated. You were put off by Mr. Trump’s personal issues but you agreed with him regarding the Supreme Court, abortion, religious liberty, and other social issues. In short, you’d rather he be president than Hillary Clinton.

Three: You’re discouraged. While you were troubled by some of Mrs. Clinton’s personal issues, you wish she had won. Now you’re worried about racial divisions in our country and Mr. Trump’s promises to deport illegal immigrants, ban Muslims, rescind trade deals, and build a wall with Mexico. You’re not in despair today, but you’re concerned.

Four: You’re in despair. You were certain that Mrs. Clinton would not only be president but be a great president. You believed in her credentials and preparation for office and fear that Mr. Trump will be a terrible president.

Continue reading Denison Forum – 4 responses to ‘President Trump’—which is yours?