Charles Stanley –Service Is Not an Option

 

Titus 2:11-15

Who is a servant of God? Ask average churchgoers that question, and they will most likely point to their pastor or some Christian celebrity. They almost certainly will not say, “We are God’s servants.” The church has a mixed-up idea that believers are separated into servants—that is, individuals in full-time ministry—and laypeople. The Bible contains no such distinction. Instead, Paul reminds the Ephesians that believers are saved so that they might serve (Ephesians 2:10).

If there were no other reason to serve God besides gratitude for salvation, that would be cause enough. We are rescued from torment and given eternal life with the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence. Our service is but a small acknowledgment of the Father sending His Son to be sacrificed in payment of the sin debt we owed. We have no right to withhold our gifts or time.

Many people, believers included, serve the big “I.” What satisfies and pleases “I”? What is convenient for “I”? What makes “I” happy and prosperous? When a pastor appeals for help, most of his parishioners are sure he is speaking to someone else because “I” has insufficient training or a busy schedule. Here is a harsh reality: If “I” is our master, we are committing “I”-dolatry. Anything given first place over God—including selfish desires—is an idol.

Service isn’t an option. God calls us to be servants so we can invest our lives in an eternally valuable purpose: the salvation of unbelievers and their subsequent discipleship for His glory. Our job may seem insignificant or our limitations great, but we are vessels of Christ with a role in the kingdom.

Bible in One Year: Leviticus 14-17

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — I See You

Read: Genesis 16:1–13

Bible in a Year: Exodus 31–33; Matthew 22:1–22

I have now seen the One who sees me.—Genesis 16:13

“I see you,” a friend said in an online writers’ group where we support and encourage each other. Having felt stressed and anxious, I experienced a sense of peace and well-being with her words. She “saw” me—my hopes, fears, struggles, and dreams—and loved me.

When I heard my friend’s simple but powerful encouragement, I thought of Hagar, a slave in Abram’s household. After many years of Sarai and Abram still longing for an heir, Sarai followed the custom of the culture and told her husband to conceive through Hagar. But when Hagar became pregnant, she treated Sarai with contempt. When Sarai mistreated her in return, Hagar fled far away to the desert.

The Lord saw Hagar in her pain and confusion, and He blessed her with the promise that she would be the mother of many descendants. After the encounter, Hagar called the Lord “El Roi,” which means “the God who sees me” (Gen. 16:13), for she knew she wasn’t alone or abandoned.

As Hagar was seen—and loved—so are we. We might feel ignored or rejected by friends or family, yet we know that our Father sees not only the face we present to the world, but all of our secret feelings and fears. He speaks the words that bring us life. —Amy Boucher Pye

Father God, just as You saw Hagar in her distress, so You see those who are hurting, fleeing oppression, and afraid. Please send them help and encouragement.

To know that God sees us gives us comfort and confidence.

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – What It Is

Through winding, trash-strewn roads and poverty-lined streets we made our way to another world. Clotheslines hung from every imaginable protrusion, a symbol of the teeming life that fought to survive there, and a contrast to the empty, darkened world of night. The only light in otherwise pitch-black alleys came from the glow of cigarettes and drug pipes, which for split seconds illumined faces that lived here. It was late and I was sick, discovering after a long flight that I had not escaped the office stomach flu after all. Our van was full of tourists, their resort brochures a troubling, colorful contrast to the streets that would bring them there. Strangers who only moments before wore the expressions of anticipation of vacation now rode in expressionless silence. One man broke that silence, just as the taxi turned the corner seemingly into an entirely new realm and resort. With pain and poverty now literally behind him, he said quietly, “Well… It is what it is.”

These words rung in my ears all weekend, most of which was spent crumpled on the bathroom floor, unable to participate in the destination wedding we had come to “paradise” to enjoy. In the end, it seemed a metaphor for thoughts I wanted to remember physically and not in mere abstractions. You see, typically, when the drowsy, comfortable world I have come to expect is jarred awake by visions of people reeling in discomfort or injustice, the upset that is caused is largely conceptual, immaterial, abstract. Sure, I am momentarily both deeply saddened and humbled by the comforts and rights many of us take for granted in the West. I am aware again of the need to stay involved with humanitarian and relief efforts and perpetual global injustices that take place daily right under our noses. But for the most part, my angst, my theology, my reactions are all abstract, observed mentally, not physically. That is, they remain deeply-felt issues, but not concrete matters of life.

Of course, I am not suggesting that abstract, philosophical ideas are the problem—clearly my vocation is dedicated to the notion that ideas carry consequences, that reflection on questions of truth, beauty, hope, and love are indeed matters vital to the development of fulfilled and finite human beings. What I am suggesting is that the abstract is both hopeless and of no use without the concrete (inasmuch as the concrete is a desert without the infinite).

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Joyce Meyer – Let God Strengthen You

 

My life dissolves and weeps itself away for heaviness; raise me up and strengthen me according to [the promises of] Your word. Remove from me the way of falsehood and unfaithfulness [to You], and graciously impart Your law to me.—Psalm 119:28-29

We need to be strengthened and renewed on a daily basis. We need to be strengthened physically, mentally, and emotionally. We need to be strong so we do not fall apart every time we have to face some situation we had not planned on.

Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and He expects us to develop stability in our lives. We can be strengthened and renewed by drawing strength from God, by exercising our faith, and by doing what He tells us to do.

From the book Starting Your Day Right by Joyce Meyer.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Your Source of Strength

“……the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10b, KJV).

At a London train station one day, a woman was stopped by an elderly man.

“Excuse me, ma’am,” he said, “but I want to thank you for something.”

“Thank me!” the woman exclaimed.

“Yes’m, I used to be the ticket collector, and whenever you went by you always gave me a cheerful smile and a ‘good mornin’.” You don’t know what a difference it made to me.

“Wet weather or dry, it was always the same, and I thought to myself, “Wonder where she gets her smile from; one can’t always be happy, yet she seems to.’ I knew that smile must come from inside somehow.”

“Then one morning you came by and you had a little Bible in your hand. I said to myself, ‘Perhaps that’s where she gets her smile from.’ So on my way home that night I bought a Bible, and I’ve been reading it, and I’ve found Christ. Now I can smile, too, and I want to thank you.”

As you and I seek to be God’s witnesses today, in dependence on the supernatural power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we should be mindful constantly of the fact that the joy of the Lord can indeed be our strength. That joy inevitably will shine on our faces, regardless of circumstances.

In the words of an anonymous poem:

If you live close to God
And His infinite grace, You don’t have to tell; It shows on your face.

Bible Reading: Psalm 16:6-11

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will make a conscious effort to reflect the joy of my indwelling Lord in such a way that it will glow on my very countenance. While it is true that joy is a fruit of the Spirit, it is also true that the reflection of that joy is my responsibility. But I will go a step further. I will tell everyone who will listen about the one who is the source of my joy.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – The Lord of Heaven

When tragedy strikes, whether personal; national; or global; people wonder how God could allow such things to happen! Is God really in control? Can we trust him to run the universe if he would allow this?

It is important to recognize that God dwells in a different realm. God said to Isaiah, “Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9 NCV). How vital then that we pray armed with the knowledge that God is in heaven. And he has chosen to bend near toward earth to see our sorrow and hear our prayers. Though we may not be able to see his purpose or his plan, the Lord of heaven is on his throne and in firm control of the universe and our lives.

From God is With You Every Day

 

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Trivial reasons Patriots will win the Super Bowl

Surprising Super Bowl trivia is in the news today. Lining up the facts, you can make a compelling case that the New England Patriots will defeat the Atlanta Falcons in Sunday’s game. For instance:

The Falcons have never won a Super Bowl. Their quarterback, Matt Ryan, has never won a Most Valuable Player award. Over his career, Ryan has defeated every NFL team except two—the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Patriots.

By contrast, the New England Patriots can secure their fifth title. Tom Brady could win his fifth championship, the most of any quarterback in history. He could also win a record fourth Super Bowl MVP.

Brady has started four games against the Falcons. He won all four. With six Super Bowls, he has more championship experience than the entire Falcons’ roster.

The game pits the league’s leading offense (the Falcons) against the league’s leading defense (the Patriots). This has happened only five times before in Super Bowl history. The team with the league’s best defense won four of the five.

Sunday’s game will be the first time Dan Quinn, Atlanta’s head coach, has competed against New England’s head coach, Bill Belichick. Since 2010, coaches in their first career game against Belichick are 3–22. And the last time the Super Bowl was played in Houston, the Patriots won.

Of course, none of this proves that New England will win Sunday’s game. Predictions, whether they are based on facts or speculation, are just that. Our culture is fascinated by them because they give us the illusion of control in a chaotic world.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Trivial reasons Patriots will win the Super Bowl