Charles Stanley –Ending Well


Luke 12:15-21

In today’s passage, we read about a rich man who made poor use of his days. Incorrectly assuming that his life would last for many years, he not only left God out of his plans but also allowed materialism to guide him.

Paul, on the other hand, knew his time was short and made the most of His remaining days on earth. For one thing, his priority was to care for others as long as possible. His letters from prison illustrate this: Despite knowing he would soon face death, Paul devoted his time and energy to instructing fellow believers and praying for them.

The apostle also recognized the value of time spent encouraging Christians to do everything as if for the Lord (Col. 3:23). This is important even when one’s task seems unrelated to the church. Our Father’s work isn’t just for missionaries and pastors; He calls all His children to different fields and assignments.

Paul also knew that the Christian life encompasses struggles. And he was realistic about acknowledging his own imperfections (Rom. 7:5-25). This meant that to make the best use of his time, he needed to persevere, remember God’s promises, and rely on divine power for victory. Indeed, at the end of his life, Paul was able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7).

Life is a gift. Every one of us has a limited number of days on this earth. How will you utilize your time so you can look back and, like Paul, confidently say that you ended well?

Bible in One Year: Revelation 18-22

Our Daily Bread — Now Is the Day

Read: 2 Corinthians 5:18–6:2

Bible in a Year: Malachi 1–4; Revelation 22

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.—2 Corinthians 6:2

Our preschool-age granddaughter Maggie and her kindergarten-age sister Katie hauled several blankets to the backyard, where they proceeded to build a blanket tent in which to play. They had been outside a while when their mom heard Maggie call for her.

“Mom, come here quick!” Maggie yelled. “I want to ask Jesus into my heart, and I need your help!” Apparently at that moment her need for Jesus became clear to her, and she was ready to put her faith in Him.

Maggie’s urgent call for help in trusting Jesus brings to mind Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 6 about salvation. He was discussing the reality that Jesus Christ’s coming—including His death and resurrection—instituted an era he called “the time of God’s favor.” We live in that time, and salvation is available to all right now. He said, “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (v. 2). For all who have not yet trusted Jesus for forgiveness, the time to do so is now. It is urgent.

Perhaps the Holy Spirit has alerted you to your need to put your trust in Jesus. Like Maggie, don’t put it off. Run to Jesus. Now is the day! —Dave Branon

Heavenly Father, I now understand my need to have my sins forgiven. I also realize that only Jesus—because of His sacrifice on the cross—can forgive my sin. I put my faith and trust in Jesus today. Please forgive me and become the Lord of my life.

There’s no better day than today to enter into God’s family.

INSIGHT: Second Corinthians 5:20 provides a marvelous description of our role as believers in the world: ambassadors for Christ. An ambassador is a representative sent to a foreign country. When we share the good news that Christ paid the penalty for sin, we are doing the work of God’s ambassadors. The redemptive work of Jesus Christ through His death, burial, and resurrection has provided the means by which human beings—who are spiritually separated from God—can be brought back into a relationship with their Creator. As ambassadors we share God’s promise of a new citizenship in heaven for all who will repent and believe the gospel. Dennis Fisher

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – A New Year with New Hope

Before I begin my thoughts for the year ahead, on behalf of our entire team based in fifteen countries, may I first thank all who have stood with us through 2016. I pray that our partnership continues and grows. We need you to stand with us. Because of your help, we have had our best year. I wish you a blessed year ahead.

I was intrigued by the comment made by a leading voice in the present administration, discussing the political changes ahead for the nation following the election in November: “Now we know how the loss of hope feels.” Fascinating, considering that the slogan for the past eight years has been “Hope and Change.” What is more, I well recall those who lost the election eight years ago echoing the same dismay.

These are deep sentiments because the loss of hope can easily become a breeding ground for cynicism and apathy on the one hand, or anger and violence on the other. Where morals are relative, hate and violence become alluring absolutes. That is why hope is that necessary posture of the mind to even move forward against all odds.

I recall seeing a painting years ago of a dilapidated violin with broken strings titled, “Hope.” How was such a title given to a worthless instrument? One had to look closely to see that one string still held firmly taut. In the hands of a maestro, even one string gives hope for a melody.

So I ask, how does a thoughtful person describe the present as bereft of hope? There are two possible answers: the first is what I call the reverse of a feared crossing of purposes. The secular critic despairs at the possibility of the politicization of religion. Rightly so. But what has replaced that fear is equally dreaded, if not worse: making a religion out of politics. Yes indeed, politics is the new creed of the faithless, replacing spiritual truths with the hollow hope of political dominance. Power does corrupt when one loses sight of the vertical dimension of life. We endured a blood-letting slugfest of words on the road to the election. Once the electorate spoke, the losers have tried every conceivable trick in the book to malign the victors. Who would have ever thought that the feuding would continue so long after the voting was done? Why is there such bitterness in the loss? I can only conclude that the deepest convictions of the average person are born from their political theory and that this gives them their creed on all choices and values. David Gelernter, Professor of Computer Science at Yale, wrote a powerful article earlier this year with the provocative title “Why the Left Is So Vicious.”

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – A New Year with New Hope

Joyce Meyer – A Spiritual Mind

For those who are according to the flesh and are controlled by its unholy desires set their minds on and pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit and are controlled by the desires of the Spirit set their minds on and seek those things which gratify the [Holy] Spirit. —Romans 8:5

If you are walking in the flesh, it’s because you put your mind on fleshly things. If you’re walking in the Spirit, it’s because you put your mind on spiritual things.

Imagine a truck filled with concrete. The concrete is eventually going to take the shape of whatever mold it’s poured into—a driveway, a patio, a retaining wall, a road, or a foundation. The concrete cannot take any form unless a mold is created. Your thoughts are like the mold.

Your thoughts create a shape for God to pour His power into, to do something with your life. If you want a powerful life, choose to keep your mind on things that agree with God’s will so He can work with you toward your goals.

Power Thought: My mind is set on spiritual things.

From the book the book Power Thoughts Devotional by Joyce Meyer.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – A Solid Foundation

“All who listen to My instructions and follow them are wise, like a man who builds his house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents, and the floods rise and the storm winds beat against his house, it won’t collapse, for it is built on rock. But those who hear My instructions and ignore them are foolish, like a man who builds his house on sand. For when the rains and floods come, and storm winds beat against his house, it will fall with a mighty crash” (Matthew 7:24-27).

What a wonderful promise for supernatural living to know that no matter what happens – the greatest tragedies, adversities or losses – your house will stand. You will not only survive, but mature, grow and become more like Jesus.

As you listen to and follow His instructions, you will observe that He has been speaking to the multitudes in what is frequently referred to as the Sermon on the Mount. Review chapters 5, 6 and 7 of Matthew. List all the things that He commands us to do, and then by faith claim those instructions in your life. For there is nothing that God ever commands that He will not enable us to do if we seek His help.

Remember, too, His promise recorded in Matthew 22:37-40, that all of the commandments in the sermon on the Mount are fulfilled when we love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, and when we love our neighbor as ourselves. So the instructions that He is giving are not difficult, for He who gives the command will enable us to build on a sure foundation of solid rock.

Note, however, the admonishment for those who ignore His instructions. For those foolish people who build their houses on sand, collapse of those houses is the certain consequence. One need only look around to see evidence of the fulfillment of God’s warning in the lives of numerous loved ones, neighbors and friends. God loves us, and He wants to bless us, but He cannot if we ignore Him.

Are you following the instructions of the Lord Jesus Christ? If not, I encourage you to begin today, with the assurance that He will bless you, your family and all who are dear to you.

Bible Reading: 1 John 2:3-9

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will meditate upon our Lord’s instructions as contained in the Sermon on the Mount, as well as the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule. I will meditate upon 1 Corinthians 13 and other commandments of our Lord on love. Through the enabling of the Holy Spirit, I will obey His instructions for supernatural living.

Ray Stedman – The God of Peace

Read: Hebrews 13:18-25

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21

Humanity possesses great nuclear submarines by which the oceans can be traversed without ever coming to the surface. The secret of their tremendous power lies in a nuclear reactor hidden away in the depths of the submarine. That remarkable force does not need any refueling but is constantly giving off energy, so the submarine never needs to go into port for refueling. So it is in the life of a Christian. In these two verses is revealed the nuclear reactor for every Christian.

Look at the elements of this: Now may the God of peace. In this letter we have seen what peace is. The nearest modern equivalent is emotional health. In Christ we are in touch with the God of emotional health, the God who intends life to be lived on a peaceful level. With him is linked the Lord Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the sheep. I came from Montana and know much about sheep. If you are from the city you have probably thought that if you leave them alone they’ll come home, wagging their tails behind them. But I can assure you it is all a lie! There are two outstanding characteristics of sheep: They have no wisdom, and they have no weapons. They are forever running off and getting lost and unable to find their way back, and if anything attacks them they are utterly helpless to defend themselves. That is why they need a shepherd. That is why we need a shepherd, and why the Bible likens us to sheep. We have a Great Shepherd of the sheep. He is our resource, our provision — a God who is concerned about us, and a Great Shepherd who is there to watch us — because we have no wisdom and we have no weapons for our defense.

Linked with them is this great process that is spoken of here, who brought again from the dead … by the blood of the eternal covenant. There you have the cross and the resurrection. The cross means the end of the old life of self-reliance, and the resurrection sets forth the power of the new life. That is the power that is released within the Christian by the indwelling Christ within him. We talk about the conquest of outer space but the greatest conquest ever made was when the Lord Jesus conquered inner space by moving into the heart of man, to plant within us the greatest power by which life can be lived — a power that heals and makes whole.

The result of all this is that God will equip you with everything good that you may do his will. This is the secret of effective service. You do not have to ask God to do this, he is there to equip you with everything to do his will. There is a full supply here and full ability. God is going to work through you, not apart from your will, but right along with it. You choose, you start out, but he is there to carry it through.

Continue reading Ray Stedman – The God of Peace

Kids 4 Truth International – Jesus Christ Was Not Corrupt

“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

“Oh, no, Devon! What did you do?” Rachel stared wide-eyed at the computer screen.

“I don’t know what happened, Rachel!” Devon got up from the couch and joined her at the computer desk. “I just wanted to see the pictures that Dad took of us on Christmas Eve.”

“But now they won’t open! The screen is full of strange-looking characters – boxes and percent signs and stars and stuff.” Rachel turned and looked directly into her little brother’s eyes. “Devon. Did you open the pictures through the camera software program like Dad showed us?”

“Well…I think I kind of forgot exactly all the right steps. I’m sorry – I guess I should’ve waited and asked somebody to help me.”

“That’s what I thought. It looks to me like you opened the pictures into a text editing program instead of the camera software. See, Devon, you’ve got to understand: A text-editing program can’t ‘read’ an image file. It tries to change a non-text file into a text-file so that it can ‘read’ it. But image files can never be changed into text, because – because they can’t. So that’s what all these numbers and weird letters and symbols are. It’s a corrupt version of the file. Now we won’t be able to view the Christmas Eve photos – they’re all corrupt!”

“Corrupt? What’s that mean?”

“It means, well, something that used to work, something that used to be fine and well and perfect – but it’s been changed and broken up to where it can’t work anymore. It’s no good, and there’s no way to go back and make it good again.”

Maybe you are like Devon and have never learned the word “corrupt” before. If a computer gets a “virus” (like a mechanical “sickness”), then it is called “corrupt.” If a pond is really clear and its water very pure, but then someone comes with a wheelbarrow full of smelly, yucky garbage and dumps it into the pond – that pond is now “corrupt.” A photo file becomes corrupt if it is opened up into a program that it doesn’t fit. To corrupt something is to make it unusable, dirty, and ruined. To corrupt something is to take something that is naturally set up to be beautiful and good and pure and working properly – and to wreck it so that it is no longer any of those things.

Continue reading Kids 4 Truth International – Jesus Christ Was Not Corrupt

Charles Stanley –A Realistic View of Life

2 Timothy 4:6-8

Our culture desperately tries to postpone death. Vitamins, exercise, and diet are ways we attempt to live as long as possible. Not that these things are bad! Motive, however, is key.

For instance, since our bodies are God’s temple (1 Cor. 3:16), we should take care of His dwelling. And since He has good works for us to do (Eph. 2:10), we should stay fit to complete His tasks.

On the other hand, prolonging life for fear of dying isn’t of God. Because Jesus died in our place, those who have faith in Him as Lord and Savior need not fear death. Once saved, we have assurance of a real place where we will live eternally in His presence. And according to Scripture, fear itself isn’t from God (2 Tim. 1:7). In fact, the apostle Paul assures us that far from being a dreadful change, physical death actually leads believers home to be with the Lord forever (2 Cor. 5:8).

God already knows the duration of each person’s life. With this in mind, how can we best prepare for what’s next? The first step is to receive Jesus as Savior through faith. Next, we should live a surrendered life and strive to walk according to His will. Furthermore, it is vital that believers fight the tendency to view this world as home. If we become too comfortable here and look for security and worth in earthly success, we won’t be able to maintain an eternal perspective.

It is an inescapable fact that our time on earth is temporary. It would be foolish not to prepare for something inevitable. How can you best live so that you are ready when God decides your life span is complete? (Psalm 139:16).

Bible in One Year: Revelation 13-17

Our Daily Bread — Time Alone With God

Read: Matthew 14:13–23

Bible in a Year: Zechariah 13–14; Revelation 21

[Jesus] went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.—Matthew 14:23

It was a busy morning in the church room where I was helping. Nearly a dozen little children were chattering and playing. There was so much activity that the room became warm and I propped the door open. One little boy saw this as his chance to escape so when he thought no one was looking, he tiptoed out the door. Hot on his trail, I wasn’t surprised that he was headed straight for his daddy’s arms.

The little boy did what we need to do when life becomes busy and overwhelming—he slipped away to be with his father. Jesus looked for opportunities to spend time with His heavenly Father in prayer. Some might say this was how He coped with the demands that depleted His human energy. According to the gospel of Matthew, Jesus was headed to a solitary place when a crowd of people followed Him. Noticing their needs, Jesus miraculously healed and fed them. After that, however, He “went up on a mountainside by himself to pray” (v. 23).

Jesus repeatedly helped multitudes of people, yet He didn’t allow Himself to become haggard and hurried. He nurtured His connection with God through prayer. How is it with you? Will you take time alone with God to experience His strength and fulfillment? —Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Where are you finding greater fulfillment—in meeting the demands of life or in cultivating your relationship with your Creator?

When we draw near to God our minds are refreshed and our strength is renewed!

INSIGHT: The theme of rest is at the heart of the Jewish faith. For example, one of the central practices of Judaism is Shabbat (Sabbath rest). In the first century, however, many Jewish leaders were requiring extra faith practices so burdensome that Jesus openly challenged them regarding the damage they were doing to the lives of the people (see Matt. 23:2-4). The weighty tasks of religious duty had robbed people of the relational rest God desired. That may be why Jesus spoke some of the most comforting words of His public ministry: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (11:28). Bill Crowder

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Real and Unsearchable

Common is the sentiment among recent college graduates that they went in feeling like they knew something, and leave realizing, in fact, how little they know. I remember what this felt like, walking down the aisle to accept my diploma, wondering at the wondering at the irony. Yet as uncomfortable as that moment of recognition might be, I am convinced that the thought is an important place at which to arrive.

Ravi Zacharias tells of being a graduate student when the new encyclopedia Britannica was released in its fifteenth edition. It was a massive collection that had taken fourteen years to produce, and he remembers being fascinated by the statistics: two hundred advisors, three hundred editors, four thousand contributors, over a hundred thousand entries, thirty-four million dollars, forty-three million words. Even so, in the last pages of that work, one of the editors had the audacity to conclude: “Herein contains the entirety of human knowledge.” The number of outdated encyclopedias lying in thrift stores and recycling bins does not help their point.

In the stories of Scripture where God is encountered, we find men and women who, having come in contact God, find themselves blown away by the notion that they didn’t know all that they didn’t know. As Jacob lay dreaming, he saw God appear above a great ladder where God was introduced as the God of his ancestors. Upon waking, Jacob’s his first words were filled with astonishment: “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”(1) Hagar, the maidservant of Sarah, had a similar reaction after she encountered God in the desert. Having run away from Sarah’s abuse, Hagar was resting beside a spring when God spoke to her and told her to return. We read that she was amazed: “And she gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the one who sees me.’”(2)

Whatever we see—in the midst of uncertainty, for the year ahead, in life, truth, faith, reality—there is almost always more. In fact, it is probably the one thing we can count on—and the one thing we do not. Christian philosopher Esther Lightcap Meek writes, “We labor under the misimpression that we see what we see, that seeing is believing, that either I see it or I don’t.”(3) Perhaps seeing is not always about 20/20, and seeing God is something else altogether.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Real and Unsearchable

Joyce Meyer – Love Out Loud


. . . You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (intellect). This is the great (most important, principal) and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself. —Matthew 22:37-39

Loving God, yourself, and other people should be our focus in life. We should be “love-focused” individuals. Receive God’s amazing, unconditional love, then you can love yourself and live to give the love away that God has given to you. It is God’s number one priority, and it should be ours also.

This is the time of year in which we often look back and look forward. Take time to survey what your life has been like compared to what you want it to be, and work with God to make whatever changes need to be made. I urge you to end this year with a commitment to abide in love, for when we abide in love we abide in God. Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment that you should love one another, just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another. By this shall all (men) know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”

Everyone chooses to live for something! What will your choice be? I implore you not to live for yourself, but to choose to live striving to obey the the “new Commandment” that Jesus gave. Now faith, hope, and love abide, but the greatest of these is love (see 1 Corinthians 13:13).

Today and Every Day…Love God, Love Yourself, and Love Others. And don’t forget to love out loud!

From the book Love Out Loud by Joyce Meyer.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – God Is a Loving God


“If a child asks his father for a loaf of bread, will he be given a stone instead? If he asks for fish, will he be given a poisonous snake? Of course not! And if you hardhearted, sinful men know how to give good gifts to your children, won’t your Father in heaven even more certainly give good gifts to those who ask Him for them?” (Matthew 7:9).

Roger interrupted our Bible study on this passage of Scripture to say, “I guess I have trouble believing God is a good God because my earthly father was a tyrant. He hated me, and I hated him. I do not recall a single experience in my life where he encouraged me. I want to believe that God is good, but I have difficulty. Please help me.”

Unfortunately, there are multitudes of men and women who are relatively new Christians and who have come from similar backgrounds where there was no love, no compassion, no concern, and their view of God is therefore distorted. They somehow equate the loving, forgiving God with their own tyrannical fathers. When such is the case, only the Holy Spirit can heal these deep wounds and remove these scars. So, I assigned Roger a special project. I asked him to make a list of all the attributes and qualities of God recorded from Genesis to Revelation. The project lasted several months, but in the process a transformation took place in Roger’s life.

The day came when he exclaimed with great joy, “The Holy Spirit has illumined my mind and taught me that God is truly a loving God, worthy of my trust. Now I can believe Him for anything. I know that even if my father on earth was the best father ever, God’s love, compassion and care for me transcends anything that he could do for me. Therefore, I can ask Him for good gifts, knowing that He will hear and answer me. I want to live only for His glory for the rest of my life.”

Are you having difficulty trusting God because of an unfortunate early relationship with your father or mother? If so, I encourage you to do what Roger did. Saturate your mind with the attributes of God – His love, sovereignty, wisdom, grace, compassion, power and holiness. As you do, the Holy Spirit will use the Word of God to cleanse your mind of all the memories that weigh you down, and you will be able to say with Roger, “I can trust God for anything, because I know He is a loving God who cares for me.”

Bible Reading: 1 John 3:1-3

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will continue to meditate upon the attributes of God, knowing that the more I trust Him, the more sure I can be of His faithfulness to enable me to live a supernatural life for His glory.

Max Lucado – A Declaration of Truth


As our high priest, Jesus offers our prayers to God. His prayers are always heard. John 16:23 says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you.”

The phrase, “In Jesus’ name” is not an empty motto or talisman. It is a declaration of truth! Cancer is not in charge, Jesus is. The grumpy neighbor doesn’t rule the world— Jesus, you do! Just speak the word, Jesus!  Since God works, prayer works. Since you matter to God, your prayers matter in heaven. You are never without hope, because you’re never without prayer. And on the occasions you can’t find the words to say, pull out this pocket prayer.

Father, you are good. I need help. Heal me and forgive me.

They need help. Thank you.

In Jesus’ name, amen!

From Before Amen

Denison Forum – The best way to have your best year

2016 is ending as unpredictably as it began.

David Bowie died in January; Debbie Reynolds died last Wednesday, one day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher. In between, the Chicago Cubs ended their 108-year drought by winning the World Series. The Cleveland Cavaliers won their first NBA title, ending forty-five years of frustration. Brexit was the greatest geopolitical surprise of the year until Donald Trump won the presidency.

It’s not shocking that Merriam-Webster named “surreal” its word of the year.

Now the news is filled with predictions for 2017 covering everything from the Nobel Peace Prize to the closing level of the Dow Jones. Meanwhile, most of us just want to live our best lives. We know that the higher our goal, the greater our success. As Dallas Cowboys legend Emmitt Smith recently noted, “Hall of Famers think about the Hall of Fame. Pro Bowlers think of going to the Pro Bowl.” Great players make great goals for themselves.

But there’s another side to achievement—we must lose to gain. The best athletes are fanatical about what they eat and how they exercise. Tim Cook routinely emails employees at 4:30 in the morning. Mark Cuban didn’t take a vacation for seven years while starting his first business.

The same principle holds spiritually. To grow in our relationship with the Lord, we must refuse whatever keeps us from him. Scripture calls us to give up everything that does not lead to God (Titus 2:11–12).

But that’s hard to do.

Continue reading Denison Forum – The best way to have your best year

Charles Stanley – Eternal Security: Can We Be Sure?


1 John 5:1-13

Our loving heavenly Father wants us to know with certainty that we have eternal life through His Son Jesus Christ. What assurances do we have that we are permanently secure?

God’s love. One reason we can be sure of never-ending salvation is our heavenly Father’s unconditional love. At the cross, He demonstrated just how much we mean to Him: He sent His Son to die so that we might have eternal life (1 John 4:9-10).

Christ’s life and death. Because Jesus was without sin, He qualified to serve as our substitute and take our place on the cross. By dying for us, He paid for all our sins and finished the work necessary to secure our salvation (John 19:30).

Jesus’ promise. We have our Lord’s assurance that we will spend eternity with Him. He promised that we can never be separated from Him and that no one can snatch us from His hand (John 10:28). He has gone ahead to prepare a place for us and will return to bring us there (John 14:2-3).

The indwelling Holy Spirit. Another assurance of eternal security is the presence of God’s Spirit within each believer. The Holy Spirit acts as a seal, guaranteeing that we belong to the Lord and serving as a pledge of our future in heaven with Him (2 Cor. 1:21-22).

The Word of God is filled with His promises that those who have received Jesus Christ as Savior will spend eternity with Him. If you struggle with doubt, then meditate on Scripture and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into a biblical understanding of your salvation.

Bible in One Year: Revelation 9-12

Our Daily Bread — Signet Ring

Read: Haggai 2:15–23

Bible in a Year: Zechariah 9–12; Revelation 20

“I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,” declares the Lord.—Haggai 2:23

When I first made the acquaintance of a new friend from abroad, I noticed his posh English accent and that he wore a ring on his little finger. Later I learned that this wasn’t just jewelry; it revealed his family’s history through the family crest engraved on it.

It was a bit like a signet ring—perhaps like the one in Haggai. In this short Old Testament book, the prophet Haggai calls for the people of God to restart the rebuilding of the temple. They had been exiled and had now returned to their homeland and begun rebuilding, but enemy opposition to their project had stalled them. Haggai’s message includes God’s promise to Zerubbabel, Judah’s leader, that he had been chosen and set apart as their leader, like a signet ring.

In ancient times, a signet ring was used as a means of identification. Instead of signing their name, people would press their ring into hot wax or soft clay to make their mark. As God’s children, we too make a mark on the world as we spread the gospel, share His grace through loving our neighbors, and work to end oppression.

Each of us has our own unique stamp that reveals how we’re created in God’s image and expresses our particular mix of gifts, passions, and wisdom. It’s our call and privilege to act as this signet ring in God’s world. —Amy Boucher Pye

Father God, may I know my true identity as Your heir this day. (See Luke 15.)

We are God’s heirs and ambassadors, sharing His love in the world.

INSIGHT: Just as Zerubbabel is likened to a signet ring, each Christian is marked by God’s authorized acceptance in Christ (Eph. 1:4-5, 11). As such, we are identified as Christians (Acts 11:26; 1 Pet. 4:14-16) and authorized as envoys or carriers of the most important information in the entire world (Matt. 28:18-20). How can we be more effective disseminators of that truth this week? How could we have a more valuable New Year’s resolution than to act like God’s signet rings in this upcoming year? Jim Townsend

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Christianity Without Christ?

Paul Tillich, the noted existentialist theologian, traveled to Asia to hold conferences with various Buddhist thinkers. He was studying the significance of religious leaders to the movements they had engendered. Tillich asked a simple question. “What if by some fluke, the Buddha had never lived and turned out to be some sort of fabrication? What would be the implications for Buddhism?” Mind you, Tillich was concerned with the indispensability of the Buddha—not his authenticity.

The scholars did not hesitate to answer. If the Buddha was a myth, they said, it did not matter at all. Why? Because Buddhism should be judged as an abstract philosophy—as a system of living. Whether its concepts originated with the Buddha is irrelevant. As an aside, I think the Buddha himself would have concurred. Knowing that his death was imminent, he beseeched his followers not to focus on him but to remember his teachings. Not his life but his way of life was to be attended to and propagated.

So, what of other world religions? Hinduism, as a conglomeration of thinkers and philosophies and gods, can certainly do without many of its deities. Some other major religions face the same predicament.

Is Christianity similar? Could God the Father have sent another instead of Jesus? May I say to you, and please hear me, that the answer is most categorically No. Jesus did not merely claim to be a prophet in a continuum of prophets. He is the unique and human Son of God, part of the very godhead that Christianity calls the Trinity. The apostle Paul says it this way:

“[Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible… He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together… For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.”(1)

Moreover, Jesus himself prayed, “[Father] you have given [me] authority over all people to give eternal life to all whom you have given [me]. And this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”(2)

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Christianity Without Christ?

Joyce Meyer – Celebrate the Positive


For we all often stumble and fall and offend in many things. And if anyone does not offend in speech [never says the wrong things], he is a fully developed character and a perfect man, able to control his whole body and to curb his entire nature. —James 3:2

Our thoughts and words about ourselves are tremendously important. In order to overcome the negative thinking and speaking that have been such a natural part of our lifestyle for so long, we must make a conscious effort to meditate on and speak positive things about ourselves. We need to get our mouth in line with what the Word of God says about us.

Positive confession of the Word of God should be an ingrained habit of every believer. If you have not yet begun to develop this important habit, start today. Begin thinking and saying good things about yourself: “I am the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ. I prosper in everything I lay my hand to. I have gifts and talents, and God is using me. I operate in the fruit of the Spirit. I walk in love. Joy flows through me.”

We can appropriate the blessings of God in our lives if we will continually and purposefully speak about ourselves what the Word of God says about us. We will receive positive results.

Lord, I will make the positive confession of Your Word an ingrained habit of my life. Help me to get my mouth in line with the truth of what You have done for me. Amen.

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

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Tempted Like We Are

“For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15, KJV).

“In your opinion, who is the greatest person who ever lived, and who has done more good for mankind than anyone else who ever lived?” I asked a student who was both an atheist and a card-carrying Communist.

There was an awkward silence. Then finally came this reluctant reply, “I guess I would have to say Jesus of Nazareth.”

How could an atheist and a Communist, who had been reared in another religion, give such an answer?

Jesus has done more good for mankind than anyone else who has ever lived. He is the greatest person of the centuries, because it is a fact. Compare Jesus, even as a man, with any other person – Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, anyone else in any country at any time in history – and it would be like comparing a giant with a midget.

Though he lived 2,000 years ago and changed the course of history, though He was the greatest leader, the greatest teacher, the greatest example the world has ever known, He is infinitely more than these. He is God.

The omnipotent Creator God visited this little planet earth and became a man, the God-man, Jesus of Nazareth. He was perfect God and perfect man, and as perfect man He understands our weaknesses, since He had the same temptations we do – though He never once gave way to them and sinned.

Do you believe that Jesus ever had the temptation to lie, to lust, to steal or to be immoral? Make a list of your temptations, all your weaknesses, all your failures, and then, as suggested in the verse following our reference, “Let us come boldly to the very throne of God and stay there to receive His mercy and to find grace to help us in our times of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Bible Reading: Hebrews 2:14-18

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Since Jesus is my high priest and knows everything about me, having been tempted as I am and yet without sin, I will come boldly into His presence today and every day. I will come to receive His mercy and grace to live a supernatural life, which will enable me to live victoriously and to be fruitful for the glory and praise of His matchless name.

Max Lucado – A Hope-Filled Heart


You and I live in a trashy world. Unwanted garbage comes our way on a regular basis. Haven’t you been handed a trash sack of mishaps and heartaches? Sure you have. May I ask, what are you going to do with it? You could hide it; pretend it isn’t there. But sooner or later it will start to stink. So what will you do?

If you follow the example of Christ, you will learn to see tough times differently. He wants you to have a hope-filled heart…just like Jesus.  Wouldn’t you want that? Jesus saw his Father’s presence in the problem. Sure, Max, but Jesus was God. I can’t see the way he saw. Not yet, maybe. But don’t underestimate God’s  power. He can change the way you look at life.

From Lucado Inspirational Reader