Charles Stanley –When Spiritual Passion Diminishes

 

2 Timothy 1:1-11

Do you feel yourself growing cold toward the Lord? As His children, we can never lose our salvation, but it is possible for our spiritual passion to cool.

Today’s passage reveals that even Timothy experienced a decrease in his excitement for God. That’s why Paul wrote to him, encouraging the young pastor at Ephesus to fan the flame of his faith.

Spiritual “cooling” can happen to any Christian. Oftentimes it starts when tragedy or disappointment diverts our attention. Instead of crying out to the Lord and finding shelter in Him, we gradually cease reading the Bible. The Word of God is like wood in a fireplace: The flames can be kept alive only when there are logs to burn. As less time is spent in Scripture, other aspects of our relationship with God are affected. Church attendance diminishes, giving becomes sporadic, and prayer—which seems increasingly stale—is used only for emergencies.

At this point, we may find ourselves unwilling to stand up for what we once deemed important. The temptation to compromise can lead to guilt and defensiveness about how we’re living. Finally, the joy, contentment, and peace of God are replaced by worry, doubt, and fear.

A believer who allows himself to drift will miss out on the comfort and fulfillment of a close, vibrant relationship with the Lord. Think back. Is your excitement about the things of God stronger now than ever before? Or has it diminished over time? If your fire needs stoking, ask the Holy Spirit to show you how.

Bible in One Year: Leviticus 26-27

 

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Our Daily Bread — Does It Spark Joy?

 

Read: Philippians 4:4–9

Bible in a Year: Leviticus 1–3; Matthew 24:1–28

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true . . . noble . . . right . . . pure . . . lovely . . . admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.—Philippians 4:8

A young Japanese woman’s book on decluttering and organizing has sold two million copies worldwide. The heart of Marie Kondo’s message is helping people get rid of unneeded things in their homes and closets—things that weigh them down. “Hold up each item,” she says, “and ask, ‘Does it spark joy?’” If the answer is yes, keep it. If the answer is no, then give it away.

The apostle Paul urged the Christians in Philippi to pursue joy in their relationship with Christ. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4). Instead of a life cluttered with anxiety, he urged them to pray about everything and let God’s peace guard their hearts and minds in Christ (vv. 6-7).

Looking at our everyday tasks and responsibilities, we see that not all of them are enjoyable. But we can ask, “How can this spark joy in God’s heart and in my own?” A change in why we do things can bring a transformation in the way we feel about them.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true . . . noble . . . right . . . pure . . . lovely . . . admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (v. 8).

Paul’s parting words are food for thought and a recipe for joy. —David McCasland

Lord, show me how You want to spark joy in the tasks I face today.

A focus on the Lord is the beginning of joy.

INSIGHT: Paul’s encouragement to rejoice in difficult situations wasn’t from the perspective of someone who did not understand suffering. On Paul’s second missionary journey (ad 50-52), he was falsely accused of disturbing the social peace of the city. Severely flogged and unjustly imprisoned (Acts 16:20-25), Paul remained a picture of calmness and peace. Luke tells us that in the midst of such adversity, “Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God” (v. 25). Paul knew what it meant to “not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Phil. 4:6). He could write these words because he himself practiced them. Are you at peace like Paul when life is difficult? Sim Kay Tee

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – As a Fish Defines Water

There are forces at work in our world that make basic communication more akin to communicating across cultures—even within our home countries. The continuously evolving world of technology offers just one example. With each new app or social media platform, a language and culture develops that for the uninitiated would seemingly require learning a new language. And most have had the experience of being in a conversation in which both parties speak the same language, but what is being heard and what is being communicated are worlds apart.

Sometimes, trying to talk about matters of faith can feel like walking across a broken bridge. And the one who professes to speak with clarity on issues of faith speaks into a world going deaf from a cacophony of spiritual and cultural languages. Is it any wonder, then, that blank stares are the all too often response to the particulars of a unique or particular vocabulary of faith?

Ironically, all those who speak what seems to them a clear message are also informed and shaped by their own cultures; for all language embodies a world of culture. Human vocabulary issues forth from experience, and ways of understanding that experience. In turn, the way in which individuals speak about faith is shaped both by a culture and by experience.

There are, therefore, particular difficulties inherent in translation from within one’s own culture. An ancient Chinese proverb highlights this difficult task: “If you want a definition of water, don’t ask a fish.”(1) In other words, on what platform does one stand in order to speak into one’s own culture? We are products of the very culture into which we seek to communicate, and we can never completely stand outside our own culture. We are, in the words of the proverb, like fish trying to define water.

Notably, Christians affirm that the heart of the gospel message transcends culture and language, just as surely as it was originally proclaimed within a particular culture and language. After all, the good news of the gospel is about “the Word made flesh.” Missiologist Lesslie Newbigin explains the dialogical nature of the gospel as a product of culture and yet as a trans-cultural communication when he suggests: “Every statement of the gospel in words is conditioned by the culture of which those words are part, and every style of life that claims to embody the truth of the gospel is a culturally conditioned style of life. There can never be a culture-free gospel. Yet the gospel, which is from the beginning to the end embodied in culturally conditioned forms, calls into question all cultures, including the one in which it was originally embodied.”(2)

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Joyce Meyer – The Paraclete

 

But when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth). For He will not speak His own message [on His own authority]; but He will tell whatever He hears [from the Father; He will give the message that has been given to Him], and He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come [that will happen in the future].—John 16:13

God knew you would need help in understanding His plan for you, so He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell inside you. He is your Guide, your Teacher of truth, your Comfort, and your Helper. He is also the Parakletos (Paraclete), which means counselor, advocate, and intercessor.

Jesus was confined to a body and could be only one place at a time. But He knew the Holy Spirit would be with you everywhere you go, all the time, leading and guiding you. Embrace the Holy Spirit in you, resting in the knowledge that in Him you are becoming everything God planned for you to be.

From the book Ending Your Day Right by Joyce Meyer.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Refuge for the Oppressed

“All who are oppressed may come to Him. He is a refuge for them in their time of trouble” (Psalm 9:9).

The late evangelist Henry Moorehouse once faced a disturbing dilemma. His little paralyzed daughter greeted him as he entered the house bearing a package for his wife.

“Where is Mother?” he asked, after kissing and embracing his daughter.

“Mother is upstairs,” the girl responded.

“Well,” Moorehouse said, “I have a package for her.”

“Oh,” the girl pleaded, “let me carry the package to Mother.”

“Why, Minnie dear,” her father replied, “how can you carry the package? You can’t carry yourself.”

With a smile, the girl continued, “That is true, Papa. But you can give me the package, and I will carry the package – and you will carry me.”

Taking her up in his arms, Moorehouse carried his daughter upstairs – little Minnie and the package, too. Then he saw his own position before the Lord; he had been carrying a heavy burden in recent days, but was not God carrying Him?

In similar fashion, you and I often feel the weight of heavy burdens – sometimes forgetting that even as we carry them we are being carried by our heavenly Father, who is a “refuge for them in their time of trouble.”

Bible Reading: Psalm 9:10-14

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: As I carry my burdens today – large or small – I will recognize that my heavenly Father is carrying me, and I will pass this wonderful truth on to others who are weighted down with the loads and cares of daily living.

 

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Max Lucado – Who’s Coming to Dinner?

 

The Greek word for hospitality compounds two terms: love and stranger. All of us can welcome a guest we know and love. But can we welcome a stranger?

In one of Jesus’ resurrection appearances, he accompanied two disciples as they walked from Jerusalem to their village of Emmaus. It had been a long day. They had much on their minds. But their fellow traveler stirred a fire in their hearts. So they welcomed him in. They pulled out an extra chair, poured some water in the soup, and offered bread. Jesus blessed the bread, and when he did, “their eyes were opened and they recognized him” (Luke 24:31 NIV).

We still encounter people on the road. And sometimes we detect an urge to open our doors to them. In these moments let’s heed the inner voice. We never know whom we may be hosting for dinner.

From God Is With You Every Day

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – What happens in America every 80 years

Last night, the Denison Forum was honored to partner with Dallas Baptist University in hosting ABC News political commentator Matthew Dowd. He spoke on campus as part of the Leadership Lecture Series of the Institute for Global Engagement. We asked him to reflect on the recent election and describe our country as he sees it.

Matthew’s remarks were both profound and timely. He noted that significant change comes to our country every seventy to eighty years. Eighty years ago, we were coming out of the Great Depression and into World War II. Eighty years before, we were coming into the Civil War and the Industrial Revolution. Eighty years before, we were coming out of the War for Independence and into the agricultural revolution.

We are now in another time of significant cultural change. From politics to technology to industry to medicine to moral standards, everything seems to be in transition. Matthew believes that in such a chaotic time, we desperately need leaders who serve those they lead, who care for people more than politics or party, who know that souls are what matter most.

Earlier in the day, I took part in celebrating a man who personified Matthew’s thesis.

Friends from across the nation gathered at Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas to celebrate the life and legacy of Vester T. Hughes, Jr. His death on January 29 brought to an earthly end one of the most amazing lives I’ve ever known. And it marked the heavenly transition of a man who was my mentor and spiritual father.

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