Charles Stanley – Walking Wisely

 

Ephesians 5:15-17

When Paul exhorts us to walk wisely, he gives three instructions to help us make godly choices. First, he says to “be careful how you walk” (Eph. 5:15). Because we live in a morally corrupt society, we must be vigilant about the way we think and act. Unless we deliberately choose to guard ourselves, we will simply do what comes naturally and go along with cultural influences.

Next, in verse 16, the apostle instructs us to make the most of our time. The Lord has entrusted each of us with 24 hours per day and various opportunities to participate in His plans for us. But so often we are tempted to squander our time and energy on our own pursuits without a thought of what our heavenly Father may have in mind for us.

In verse 17, Paul lays out the final exhortation: to “understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:17) In its broadest sense, God’s will for us is that we would each become the person that He created us to be and do the work He has planned for us to accomplish (Eph. 2:10). Knowing this, we should look at every decision with consideration of whether our choice will further or hinder our heavenly Father’s purposes for our life. To live thoughtlessly outside of His will is foolish.

The Lord wants us to walk wisely so that we can enjoy all of the marvelous benefits that He’s promised in His Word and longs to give us. Wasted opportunities and time misspent can never be reclaimed. Let’s commit to make each and every day count for Jesus Christ instead of merely living for ourselves.

Bible in One Year: Deuteronomy 21-23

 

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Our Daily Bread — A Chuckle in the Darkness

Read: John 11:17–27

Bible in a Year: Numbers 20–22; Mark 7:1–13

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.—John 3:16

In a Washington Post article titled “Tech Titans’ Latest Project: Defy Death,” Ariana Cha wrote about the efforts of Peter Thiele and other tech moguls to extend human life indefinitely. They’re prepared to spend billions on the project.

They are a little late. Death has already been defeated! Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die” (John 11:25-26). Jesus assures us that those who put their trust in Him will never, ever, under any circumstances whatever, die.

To be clear, our bodies will die—and there is nothing anyone can do to change that. But the thinking, reasoning, remembering, loving, adventuring part of us that we call “me, myself, and I” will never, ever die.

And here’s the best part: It’s a gift! All you have to do is receive the salvation Jesus offers. C. S. Lewis, musing on this notion, describes it as something like “a chuckle in the darkness”—the sense that something that simple is the answer.

Some say, “It’s too simple.” Well, I say, if God loved you even before you were born and wants you to live with Him forever, why would He make it hard? —David Roper

Dear Jesus, I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I want to accept You as my Lord and Savior and follow You. Please forgive my sins and help me, from this moment on, to live a life that is pleasing to You.

Christ has replaced the dark door of death with the shining gate of life.

INSIGHT: Often when confronted with death, we are tempted to either deny how painful it is or to live without hope, only seeing the grief. In this passage, Jesus holds together both the horror of death and the sure promise of life. Because death is a tragic distortion of God’s good creation, Jesus as the Resurrection and Life is all that is opposed to it. If we read the whole story of Lazarus’s resurrection, we see a fuller picture of how Jesus responds to death and grief. He is “deeply moved” and “troubled” (John 11:33) and He weeps (v. 35). Seeing death in all its horror, He defiantly overcomes it and raises Lazarus to life. Jesus’s shout, “Lazarus, come out!” (v. 43) points to the hope of our own bodily resurrection. Monica Brands

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Taking Up and Laying Down

The life and ministry of Jesus—his birth, his life and death, his resurrection and ascension—are all echoed in the celebrations and seasons of the church year. For the Christian, preparations are made for his coming during the season of Advent. Anticipation is garnered for the triumphant entry of God into the world in Jesus on Christmas Day, while the season of Epiphany unfolds further glimpses of his life and ministry. Each season of the church year is filled with expectation, discovery, and hope.

Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent. And unlike the joyous celebration of Christmas, and the expectant discovery of Epiphany, Lent is a solemn season for the Christian. As part of the Ash Wednesday worship service, ashes are imposed on one’s forehead in the pattern of a cross. The imposed ashes are from the previous year’s Palm Sunday fronds—fronds reminiscent of those waved triumphantly as Jesus entered Jerusalem on his way to Golgotha. The Jews believed he entered the city as the coming King; they did not yet understand he would demonstrate his reign through the willing offer of his life.

These ashes on Christian foreheads can remind all humans of our common destiny: “From dust you come and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). For the Christian, the Lenten season is also meant to call us toward a common mission of offering our lives in service and sacrifice. It invites us to lose our lives in order to find them anew, resurrected with Jesus on Easter morning.

Whether or not one actively observes Lent, the season can serve as an invitation to evaluate our own lives and to examine the invitation of Jesus to die with him. We can enter this deathly contemplation with the anticipation of resurrection on Easter morning. But Christ’s path to resurrection is the path of laying down lives, the path of relinquishment, and the path of self-denial. This path feels entirely unnatural, for it takes us in the opposite direction of self-preservation.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Taking Up and Laying Down

Joyce Meyer – Be Patient

But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing. —James 1:4

James teaches us that we can rejoice when we find ourselves involved in difficult situations, knowing that God is trying our faith to bring out patience. I have found that trials did eventually bring out patience in me, but first they brought a lot of other junk to the surface—such as pride, anger, rebellion, self-pity, complaining, and many other things. It seems that these ungodly traits, with God’s help, need to be faced and dealt with because they hinder patience as well as other good fruit like kindness, love, humility, and other things.

The Bible talks about purification, sanctification, and sacrifice. These are not popular words; nevertheless, these are things we go through in order to become like Jesus in our character. God’s desire is to make us perfect, lacking in nothing. He wants us to ultimately be filled with the fruits of righteousness, which usually requires us to go through some difficulties that, although are unpleasant, do eventually help us mature.

I struggled with the difficulties in my life for a long time until I finally learned that God would work them out for good and use them to help me in many ways. He simply wants you and me to surrender and say, “I trust You, God. I believe when this difficulty is over, I will be a better person than I was before it began!”

No matter what you are going through, trust God that you are growing closer to Him each day!

From the book Closer to God Each Day by Joyce Meyer.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – I Am With You Always

“And then teach new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you; and be sure of this — that I am with you always, even to the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).

When David Livingstone sailed for Africa the first time, a group of his friends accompanied him to the pier to wish him bon voyage.

Concerned for the safety of the missionary, some of his well-wishers reminded him of the dangers which would confront him in the dark land to which he was journeying. One of the men tried to convince him he should remain in England.

Opening his Bible, Livingstone read the six decisive words that had sealed the matter for him long before: “Lo, I am with you always.”

Then turning to the man who was especially concerned about his safety, Livingstone smiled before he gave a calm reply.

“That, my friend, is the word of a gentleman,” he said. “So let us be going.”

For many years, I have visited scores of countries on each continent, each year traveling tens of thousands of miles, as the director of the worldwide ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. What a joy and comfort it is to know that I am never outside of His care! Whether at home or abroad, He is always with me, even to the end of the world. I can never travel so far away that He is not with me.

And so it is with you, if you have placed your trust and faith in Jesus Christ. You have His indwelling Holy Spirit as your constant companion – the one who makes possible the supernatural life that is the right and privilege of every believer. How important that we never lose sight of this truth: He is with us always.

Bible Reading: Matthew 28:16-20

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I am reminded afresh that Jesus, to whom God has given all authority in heaven and earth, is with me; that He will never leave me nor forsake me; that His supernatural power is available to me moment by moment, enabling me to do all that God has called me to do — if only I will trust and obey Him.

 

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Max Lucado – It’s Your Choice

God is jealous for our trust. He doesn’t request it, suggest it, or recommend it. He demands it. We can see the consequences of not obeying in the lives of one New Testament couple. The book of Acts is all good fruit and fanfare, until chapter 5. A husband and wife pledged to sell some property and give the money to the church. When they changed their minds, they acted as if they hadn’t. They lied. They died. Their bodies were carried out, and “great fear gripped the entire church” (Acts 5:11 NLT).

On the topic of faith God is serious…dead serious. Romans 6:23 declares that “the wages of sin is death,” but it also promises “eternal life” to those who choose obedience to Christ instead. It’s your choice. Which do you choose?

From God is With You Every Day

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – ‘When We Rise’ celebrates gay marriage

When We Rise began last night. The four-night, eight-hour ABC miniseries tells the story of the gay rights movement in America. Critics call it “inspirational” and “powerful.” TV Guide praises the series for illustrating “the blood, sweat and tears that went into making it so that LGBT people can now enjoy freedoms including the right to marry.”

The miniseries is Hollywood’s latest attempt to normalize homosexual behavior. This should not surprise us. Wikipedia has compiled a list of 987 bisexual, pansexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender characters on television and radio. I didn’t try to count its very long lists of animated, dramatic, and comedic TV programs with LGBT characters.

My purpose this morning is not to recount the extensive biblical prohibitions against same-sex activity or outline yet another defense of biblical marriage. Rather, it is to encourage Christians not to give up on this issue.

Our culture wants those of us who believe in biblical sexual morality to stop caring about this debate. “Marriage equality” (such a misleading misnomer!) is the law of the land, we’re told, so we need to move on or be accused of intolerant homophobic bigotry. In this war of attrition, it’s tempting to concede the battle and tolerate what the Bible forbids.

Here’s why we must not do that.

One: This is about the authority of God’s word, not the popular whims of society.

The Bible consistently and clearly forbids same-sex behavior. If we decide that God’s word is irrelevant on this subject, where next will we abandon biblical authority?

Two: Souls are at risk. Continue reading Denison Forum – ‘When We Rise’ celebrates gay marriage