Charles Stanley –The Power of Love

 

Luke 15:11-32

In Jesus’ day, three Greek words were used to express “love”—eros (physical intimacy), philia (friendship), and agape (fruit produced by the Holy Spirit, as listed in Galatians 5:22-23). Our heavenly Father cares for us with agape love, and to bring us into a right relationship with Him, He sacrificed His Son (1 John 4:10).

The parable of the prodigal son gives us a good example of this type of love. Agape is evident in our life when we:

Respond calmly to difficulties. To the son’s untimely demand for his share of the inheritance, the father didn’t reply with angry words about ungrateful children. Though the prodigal’s attitude must have caused pain, the man held his tongue and did not retaliate. In calmness, he could think more clearly and chose to love (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).

Sacrifice without complaint. Though he knew his son was committed to a ruinous course, the father quietly fulfilled the request. In doing so, he chose the way of love, directing his efforts towards preserving their relationship.

Wait patiently. Out of deep affection, the father let his son leave and stay away. What heartache the man must have felt! Yet he remained hopeful and waited for the young man to recognize that sin cannot deliver what it has promised. This patient response is possible only through the power of agape love (1 Corinthians 13:4).

The Holy Spirit’s work in our life empowers us to show selfless and sacrificial devotion to the development of another person. In that way, we become people who respond calmly, patiently, and without complaint. Which kind of emotion do you offer to others—human or divine?

Bible in One Year: Numbers 14-16

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — The Death of Doubt

Read: John 11:1–16

Bible in a Year: Leviticus 14; Matthew 26:51–75

Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.—John 20:25

We know him as Doubting Thomas (see John 20:24-29), but the label isn’t entirely fair. After all, how many of us would have believed that our executed leader had been resurrected? We might just as well call him “Courageous Thomas.” After all, Thomas displayed impressive courage as Jesus moved purposefully into the events leading to His death.

At the death of Lazarus, Jesus had said, “Let us go back to Judea” (John 11:7), prompting a protest from the disciples. “Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?” (v. 8). It was Thomas who said, “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (v. 16).

Thomas’s intentions proved nobler than his actions. Upon Jesus’s arrest, Thomas fled with the rest (Matt. 26:56), leaving Peter and John to accompany Christ to the courtyard of the high priest. Only John followed Jesus all the way to the cross.

Despite having witnessed the resurrection of Lazarus (John 11:38-44), Thomas still could not bring himself to believe that the crucified Lord had conquered death. Not until Thomas the doubter—the human—saw the risen Lord, could he exclaim, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Jesus’s response gave assurance to the doubter and immeasurable comfort to us: “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (v. 29). —Tim Gustafson

Father, teach us to act on what we do know about You and Your goodness, and trust You in faith for what we don’t know.

Real doubt searches for the light; unbelief is content with the darkness.

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Breaking In

The hometown of Jesus was a small village tucked between the hills of the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean, located away from the main centers of the population. One of the disciples describes the first time Jesus visited his hometown after he had become a public figure. His public ministry had, up until then, been based largely in Capernaum.

The townspeople had undoubtedly heard stories. Whispers of miracles and strange events were being reported from neighboring cities. His teaching was being called different, holding a different sort of authority among rabbis. I imagine the people of his hometown took a proud interest in all of the murmuring, anxious to see why everyone was talking about their Jesus, anxious to claim him as their own. Now he was coming back home and they were excited about it. Invitations to teach in the synagogue were usually extended to distinguished visitors; he was, no doubt, in many eyes, the local boy done good, and now they would see for themselves.

According to Mark they were not disappointed. In fact, he reports, “they were astounded.”(1) Making reference to the wisdom they heard and power they beheld, they clearly took notice that he was a man out of the ordinary. And yet, they couldn’t take the man at face value, for it was not just any man; it was Jesus. They could not get past the fact that this seeming authority in front of them was Mary’s son, the carpenter, the boy next door. And so Mark notes, they “took offense” at him, stumbling over the commonality of the extraordinary one before them, the insider they would not see released.(2)

During his tenure as a professor at Magdalen College in Oxford, C.S. Lewis delivered a memorial oration to the students of King’s College, the University of London. It was titled, “The Inner Ring.” Addressing his young audience as “the middle-aged moralist,” Lewis warned: “Of all passions, the passion for the Inner Ring is most skillful in making a man who is not yet a very bad man do very bad things.”(3)

Lewis spoke of the natural desire to find ourselves a part of the inner circles that exist endlessly and tauntingly throughout life. He cautioned about the consuming ambition to be an insider, and not an outsider, though the lines we chase are invisible, and the circle is never as charming from within as it looks from without. Like the taunting mirage the weary traveler chases through the desert, the quest for the Inner Ring will break your heart unless you break it, he insisted. For “it is the mark of a very perverse desire that seeks what can not be had.”(4)

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Joyce Meyer – You Are God’s Favorite

Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings. —Psalm 17:8

What does it mean to be a favorite? It means to be particularly favored, esteemed, and preferred. It means to enjoy special attention, personal affection, and preferential treatment, even without being deserving of it. There is nothing about you or me or anyone else that can cause us to become God’s favorite. He chooses us for that place of honor and esteem by an act of His sovereign grace. All we can do is receive His gracious gift in an attitude of thanksgiving and humility.

Now when I talk about being the favorite of God, I must make something clear. Because God is God of all His creation, and because He has a personal relationship with each one of His children, He can say to every single one of us at the same time, and sincerely mean it, “You are the apple of My eye; you are My favorite child.”

It took a while for me to come to understand that truth. In fact, at first I was afraid to believe it. It was hard for me to imagine myself as God’s favorite, even though that is what He was telling me I was.

But then I began to realize that it is what He tells each of His children. He wants to say it to anyone who will believe it, accept it, and walk in it. God assures each of us that we are His favorite child, because He wants us to be secure in who we are in Christ Jesus so that we will have the confidence and assurance we need to walk victoriously through this life drawing others to share with us in His marvelous grace.

From the book New Day, New You by Joyce Meyer.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Bears and He Gives

“What a glorious Lord! He who daily bears our burdens also gives us our salvation” (Psalm 68:19).

Did it ever occur to you that you are disobeying God when you carry your own burdens, when you are worried, frustrated and confused over circumstances? That is exactly what God’s Word says.

In 1 Peter 5:7, God gives a specific command to His children, “Cast…all your cares upon Him; for He careth for you” (KJV). Not to cast all of one’s cares upon the Lord is to disobey Him and to deny oneself that supernatural walk with God among men.

Is it not logical to believe that He who loved us so much that He was willing to give His only begotten Son would also be faithful to keep His promise to bear our burdens daily?

As the psalmist so aptly states, the Lord bears our burdens on a daily basis for the believer, the day will never come when God fails to carry our load, to strengthen us, to impart power to us through His indwelling Holy Spirit – if we but ask.

Marvel of marvels, the psalmist points out, our heavenly Father not only is our great burden-bearer; He is also the very one who gives us our salvation and the assurance of eternal life. How could anyone ask for more!

With the sure knowledge that our sins are forgiven (salvation) and the assurance that He knows all about every burden we face – more important, He bears them for us – our lives should reflect honor and glory to Him by the way in which we share His blessings and the message of His great love with others.

Provision for the supernatural life is promised in the Old Testament as well as the New, as evidenced by this glorious promise in the Psalms.

Bible Reading: Psalm 68:15-18

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will take careful inventory of my burdens and my worries and be sure that I am casting them all on the Lord with the certain knowledge that He cares for me. I will also encourage those around me to cast their cares upon the Lord.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – A Flame of Fire

 

I once knew an extremely courageous lady. For one thing, she was waging an uphill battle against alcoholism. For another, she was doing all she could to restore her relationship with God. She chose a small church to attend, where she knew many members. One Sunday, as she walked toward the front door, she overheard two ladies talking. “How long is that alcoholic going to hang around here?” She turned and went back to the car. She never entered another church building until she died. Those ladies meant no harm, yet seemingly painless gossip did irreparable damage.

These ideas will help us control our tongue.

  • Never say anything about someone that you wouldn’t say to their face.
  • Refuse to listen to someone else’s gossip.
  • Initiate positive statements about people whom you’re discussing.
  • Remember, “the tongue. . .is a fire!” (James 3:6)

From God is With You Every Day

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Why I’m grateful for the Grammys

The Gramophone Awards were established in 1959. Fortunately, their name was soon changed to the Grammys. Last night’s show was dominated by Adele, who won five Grammys including song, record, and album of the year. David Bowie’s final album also received awards in five categories.

In all, there were 426 nominations in eighty-four categories. I looked over the list and found maybe ten songs I’d heard before. Watching the show, I realized how little of the music industry I experience personally.

Why is my ignorance of contemporary music a good thing?

The answer is not that I’m an advocate for withdrawing from society. To the contrary, I worry about Christians who adopt a Christ-against-culture worldview, pulling back into enclaves of spirituality and resisting the secular world wherever they can. While some aspects of contemporary culture are obviously off-limits for believers (see my warning last Friday not to see Fifty Shades Darker), retreating completely from society keeps our salt in the saltshaker and our light under a basket. This is the opposite of Jesus’ intention for us (Matthew 5:13–16).

I know little about contemporary music, not because such music isn’t important. Rather, it’s because ignorance of one dimension of life is a necessary condition for understanding another.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Why I’m grateful for the Grammys