Charles Stanley –Showing Agape Love

 

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Divine love empowers us to respond calmly to difficulties, demonstrate patience in seasons of waiting, and sacrifice without complaint. We offer God’s love when we can:

Forgive others. The son wasted his money in riotous living and discovered both the empty promises and destructive quality of sin. Upon the boy’s return, his father forgave him completely. Love made it possible to wipe away the past (Ps. 103:12).

Act generously. The son, having just fed pigs, arrived at his father’s estate with few expectations. The forgiving dad greeted him most warmly and dressed him in the finest garments. Godly love, which keeps no record of wrongs, enabled the father to show generosity.

Serve joyfully. What a celebration the father had upon the prodigal’s return! His joy in his lost son’s homecoming overflowed to others. Love expresses itself in willing service.

Restore those who fall. The one who both abandoned his father and squandered his inheritance was again given full rights as a son.

When we mess up, our heavenly Father patiently waits for us to turn back to Him. He accepts our repentance, rejoices in our return, and restores intimacy with Him. The elder brother in this parable missed the point because of his self-righteous attitude (1 John 1:8). He didn’t recognize his mistakes or the many times his father had shown him love and forgiveness.

God calls us to a lifestyle of agape love. To whom could you extend the divine love that forgives, restores, and serves with generosity and joy?

Bible in One Year: Numbers 17-19

 

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Our Daily Bread — Love Revealed

Read: 1 John 4:9–16

Bible in a Year: Leviticus 15–16; Matthew 27:1–26

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.—1 John 4:9

When a series of pink “I love you” signs mysteriously appeared in the town of Welland, Ontario, local reporter Maryanne Firth decided to investigate. Her sleuthing turned up nothing. Weeks later, new signs appeared featuring the name of a local park along with a date and time.

Accompanied by a crowd of curious townspeople, Firth went to the park at the appointed time. There, she met a man wearing a suit who had cleverly concealed his face. Imagine her surprise when he handed her a bouquet and proposed marriage! The mystery man was Ryan St. Denis—her boyfriend. She happily accepted.

St. Denis’s expression of love toward his fiancé may seem a bit over-the-top, but God’s expression of love for us is nothing short of extravagant! “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9).

Jesus is not merely a token of love, like a rose passed from one person to another. He is the divine human who willingly gave up His life so that anyone who believes in Him for salvation can have an everlasting covenant relationship with God. Nothing can separate a Christian “from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39). —Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Dear God, thank You for showing me, in the greatest way possible, that You love me. Help my life to demonstrate my love for You.

We know how much God loves us because He sent His Son to save us.

INSIGHT: In today’s reading the word for love is the Greek noun agape, which speaks of the highest form of love imaginable, a love that seeks the welfare of the other even at great personal cost. John reminds us that the ultimate evidence of God’s love for us is seen in the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf (1 John 4:9). John then says that our response to God’s love should be our self-sacrificing love for one another as fellow Christ-followers (v. 11). His application of God’s love concludes with a reminder that our ability to love one another is dependent upon His love being revealed and “made complete in us” (v. 12). Our expression of the Father’s love for us in our relationships will be a result of what the Holy Spirit is producing in our hearts. To learn more about the love of God, take a look at the Discovery Series booklet God Is Love: Reflections on the Character of God at discoveryseries.org/q0612. Bill Crowder

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Wounds Honored

Why Won’t God Heal Amputees, a popular website and one-time viral You Tube video, puts forward the basic premise that God doesn’t answer prayer since God has never healed an amputee. By extension, they make the assertion that since God doesn’t heal every person of every infirmity, God does not exist.

While there are obvious false assumptions made about God, prayer, and healing (how does one know that in the whole world God has not healed an amputee, for starters) many interesting questions are raised for those who believe in both God and prayer. Those who do pray for healing often fail to experience it in the way they expect—healing rarely parallels a conventional or traditional sense of that word. Loved ones die of cancer, friends are killed in car accidents, economic catastrophe befalls even the most frugal, and people in much of the developing world die from diseases long cured in the West. Beyond the realm of physical healing, many experience emotional and psychological trauma that leave open and festering wounds. Or, there are those perpetual personality ticks and quirks that seem beyond the reach of the supernatural. Given all of this contrary experience, what does it mean to receive healing, and should one hold out hope that healing can come in this world? Specifically, for those who pray, and for those who believe that God does heal, how might the persistence of wounds—psychological, emotional and physical—be understood?

In a recent New York Times article, Marcia Mount Shoop writes of her horrific rape as a fifteen year old girl.(1) As the descendant of three generations of ministers she ran to the safest place she knew after suffering this horrific trauma—the church. Yet as she stood amid the congregants singing hymns and reciting creeds, she felt no relief. Even her favorite verse from Romans, ‘and we know that in all things God works for good with those who love him’ sounded hollow and brought little comfort. How could she ever be healed or experience ‘good’ after this horrific act of violence?

Once at home, alone with the secret of her rape, Marcia Shoop found something that enabled her to survive. “I felt Jesus so close,” she recalled in an interview. “It wasn’t the same Jesus I experienced at church. It was this tiny, audible whisper that said, ‘I know what happened. I understand.’ And it kept me alive, that frayed little thread.”(2)

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Joyce Meyer – Bless Somebody

 

And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.—Galatians 6:9

The Word says, Let each one of us make it a practice to please (make happy) his neighbor for his good and for his true welfare, to edify him [to strengthen him and build him up spiritually] (Romans 15:2).

This tells me that we need to have our mind full of ways to bless people. Early in the day, think up something you want to do to bless someone. Think up something you can do to surprise somebody or to make somebody happy. You will be amazed at how quickly the Lord leads you to something good you can do for someone. Joy comes from giving on His behalf.

From the book Starting Your Day Right by Joyce Meyer.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Deliverance from Fears

“I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4, KJV).

Susie seemed outwardly to be a well-poised, lovely young wife and mother with everything under control. She was active in her church and attended other Christian gatherings during the week. But secretly she was filled with fear from which psychologists and psychiatrists with whom she consulted were unable to set her free.

She became very discouraged and depressed. “What can I do?” she asked through her tears. “I have everything to live for and no real reason to be afraid, but my days are consumed with worry and dread and fear, as I anticipate all kinds of evil things happening to me, to my husband , to my children.”

“Do you believe that God in heaven has the power to remove your fears, Susie?” I asked.

“Yes, of course,” she replied.

“Do you believe He loves you?”

“Yes, I believe that.”

“Do you believe He wants to remove that fear from you?” And I read her the above passage.

We turned together to 1 John 5:14, 15: “If we ask anything according to God’s will, He hears and answers.” This is the promise that every believer can claim whenever there is a command or another promise. I asked her if she would like to join with me in a prayer of faith that God would deliver her according to this promise.

Together we prayed, and though there was no immediate, dramatic deliverance, with the passing of days God set her free. Day after day she claimed by faith this and other promises from God’s holy, inspired Word.

Are you plagued with fears? Are your days consumed with worry? Saturate your mind with God’s truth — God’s supernatural promises – and begin to claim by faith this supernatural life which is your heritage in Christ.

Bible Reading: Psalm 34:1-7

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: At the first sign of a fear in my life, I will commit it to the Lord and trust Him for deliverance, and I will seek to help others whose hearts are filled with fear. I will seek to introduce them to the Prince of Peace – the God of all comfort.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – A Different Approach

 

Pigeonholing permits us to wash our hands and leave. As long as we can categorize people, place them in labeled boxes, we can dismiss them. “Oh, I know John. He’s an alcoholic.” Translation: Why can’t he control himself? Categorizing others creates distance and gives us a convenient strategy for avoiding involvement.

Jesus was all about including people. “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood” (John 1:14 MSG). His Facebook page included the likes of Zacchaeus the Ponzimeister and Matthew the IRS agent. Jesus spent thirty-three years walking in the mess of this world. The Scriptures say, “When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity, took on the status of a slave, and became human!” (Philippians 2:6-7 MSG). His example sends this message, Don’t call any person unfit!

From God is With You Every Day

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Where we will spend $4.3 billion today

Today is Valentine’s Day. To celebrate the holiday, Americans will spend $4.3 billion on jewelry, $2 billion on flowers, $1.9 billion on clothes, $1.7 billion on candy, $1.4 billion on gift cards, and nearly $1 billion on greeting cards. Today’s news is filled with stories of love appropriate for the holiday.

Not everything in the news is good news, however.

This Vogue article grieves me: “What to Get a Friend Post-Abortion.” The article pictures two teenage girls smiling and acting as though they are congratulating each other. What follows is an assortment of T-shirts, poetry, and other gifts. Among them is an invitation from Planned Parenthood to become an escort for other women who choose abortion. The nation’s leading abortion provider promises that “one day this won’t seem like such a big deal.”

It’s easy to see Valentine’s Day as a momentary respite from a culture that is sliding ever further from biblical morality. But it’s always too soon to give up on God.

Remember the story of Joseph: his brothers sold him into slavery out of anger at his dreams of superiority over them. Fast-forward thirteen years. Joseph is now second-in-command in Egypt, the greatest superpower in the world. His brothers have come to him for food in a time of famine. They do not recognize him, but he knows them.

To test them, he has his personal cup placed in the sack of Benjamin, their youngest brother. They are arrested and brought before him. He offers to keep Benjamin as his servant and free the rest.

The brothers he knew thirteen years ago would gladly have traded their younger brother for their freedom. The Joseph they knew would gladly have forced them into his service.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Where we will spend $4.3 billion today