Charles Stanley – The Gift of Love

 

1 John 4:7-10

Is there someone in your life you’re struggling to love? In other words, is there a person for whom—despite your good intentions, effort, and awareness of how you ought to act—it just seems impossible to muster any affection? Knowing that we should love doesn’t automatically make us adequate for the task. However, being a Christian opens the door for God to enable us by pouring His love into our hearts through His indwelling Spirit (Rom. 5:5).

First John 4:19 says, “We love, because He first loved us.” What a relief to know that love is a gift from God and not something we must manufacture within ourselves. What’s more, the love He produces in us is not just for others but also for God Himself. He is aware that we have no resources within ourselves to love Him unless He enables us through His Holy Spirit.

The Lord doesn’t give us a command without providing whatever obedience requires. When we trust Christ as Savior, we receive not only forgiveness of our sins and adoption into God’s family but also the ability to love as He does. In fact, His love in and through us is evidence that we are born of God and know Him (John. 4:7). As we submit, Christ’s life is displayed in us through selfless, sacrificial care for others.

Although the Lord has richly poured His love into our hearts, we have the responsibility to grow in it. Every unlovable person in our life is an opportunity to let God teach us to love (1 Thess. 4:9-10). And every time we learn to know Him more intimately through His Word, our adoration of God increases.

Bible in One Year: 2 Samuel 4-6

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — What We Want to Hear

 

Read: 2 Chronicles 18:5–27 | Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 1–3; Luke 8:26–56

I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. 2 2 Chronicles 18:7

As human beings, we are prone to seek out information that supports the opinions we hold. Research shows that we’re actually twice as likely to look for information that supports our position. When we’re deeply committed to our own way of thinking, we avoid having that thinking challenged by opposing positions.

Such was the case in King Ahab’s rule over Israel. When he and Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, discussed whether to go to war against Ramoth Gilead, Ahab gathered 400 prophets—men he’d appointed to that role himself and would therefore tell him what he wanted to hear—to help them decide. Each replied he should go, saying “God will give it into the king’s hand” (2 Chronicles 18:5). Jehoshaphat asked whether there was a prophet who had been chosen by God through whom they could inquire of the Lord. Ahab responded reluctantly because God’s prophet, Micaiah, “never prophesies anything good about [him], but always bad” (v. 7). Indeed, Micaiah indicated they wouldn’t be victorious, and the people would be “scattered on the hills” (v. 16).

Lord, help me to seek and heed Your counsel.

In reading their story, I see how I too tend to avoid wise advice if it isn’t what I want to hear. In Ahab’s case, the result of listening to his “yes men”—400 prophets—was disastrous (v. 34). May we be willing to seek and listen to the voice of truth, God’s words in the Bible, even when it contradicts our personal preferences.

Lord, help me to seek and heed Your counsel even when it’s against my desires or popular thought.

God’s counsel is trustworthy and wise.

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Easter in Academia

Lock atheist philosophers who do not specialize in religion in a room with theist philosophers who do specialize in religion (well, don’t really, but if you did), and if you listened to the ensuing debates, you “would have to conclude that the theists definitely had the upper hand in every single argument or debate.”(1)

Those are not my words but the words of an atheist. And not just any atheist, an atheist who is a respected professional philosopher with 12 books and over 140 articles to his name.

Despite his atheism, Quentin Smith draws the theism-friendly conclusion that “God is not ‘dead’ in academia; he returned to life in the late 1960s and is now alive and well in his last academic stronghold, philosophy departments.”(2)

God is alive. And not only in philosophy, but in sociology as well. Fifty years ago sociology was convinced that God was on the way out. The scholars had bought into secularization theory; you know the idea: The more modern and technological the world becomes, the more secular it becomes.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Easter in Academia

Joyce Meyer – Uniquely Gifted to Help

 

Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, [that spiritual endowment]…. — 1 Timothy 4:4

Helen Keller achieved amazing goals despite being unable to see or hear. At nineteen months of age, an illness caused her to go completely blind and completely deaf.

Helen’s parents sought help for her in Boston at Perkins School for the Blind. The Perkins School assigned a tutor named Anne Sullivan to work with the child. Helen was terribly frustrated and often became resistant and violently angry.

Many teachers would have lost their patience, but Anne Sullivan kept her composure and persisted in her efforts to teach Helen. Eventually, Helen learned to read Braille, to write, and even to speak.

Helen also decided she wanted to attend college. Anne Sullivan helped her prepare and gain acceptance to Radcliffe College, associated with Harvard University. With Sullivan’s help, she graduated with honors, having mastered several languages, four years later.

While in college, Helen started a writing career that would last more than fifty years. She went on to receive many awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

A vital key to her success was the fact that Anne Sullivan believed in her. Her patience, wisdom, and teaching ability combined to make her a uniquely gifted teacher for Helen.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for my unique gifts and talents. Help me to be “others-minded” and use these gifts to bless the lives of other people. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Fair in Everything

 

“The Lord is fair in everything He does, and full of kindness. He is close to all who call on Him sincerely” (Psalm 145:17,18).

Are you afraid to trust the Lord? I find that many people who have had unfortunate experiences in their youth with their parents, especially their fathers, have a reluctance to trust God.

In my talks with thousands of students, I have found a number of young people who have such an attitude problem.

Even the best of earthly parents, at times, are unfair and fail to demonstrate kindness. Yet how wonderful it is to know that our Lord is fair in everything He does and is full of kindness, and He is always close to all who call upon Him sincerely.

Notice that the Scripture promise quoted above is a categorical statement. The psalmist permits no exceptions, even when we are sure we deserved better than we received. Thus we need to claim the promise in God’s Word by faith and live by it. Some day we will see events from God’s side and recognize the fairness we could not see here.

We often see “as in a glass darkly,” but God has perfect 20/20 vision. That’s why the attitude of trust alone will help us overcome our feelings that God or the world, is unfair. Only then can we live a supernatural life of daily acceptance of what God sends our way.

Bible Reading:Psalm 145:8-12

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Today I will put my trust in God and His goodness, no matter how I feel. I will move beyond preoccupation with my disappointments and carry out God’s appointments in the certainty that our Lord is fair in everything He does and will enable me to live supernaturally as I continue to trust and obey Him.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – God, Our Vine Keeper

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

God is like a vine keeper. He lives and loves to coax the best out of his vines. He pampers, prunes, blesses, and cuts. His aim is singular: “What can I do to prompt produce?” Like an orchardist God carefully superintends the vineyard. And who are we in this allegory? We are the branches. We bear fruit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, & self control”(Galatians 5:22 NASB). The Father tends. Jesus nourishes. You can’t help but ask, “Who runs this vineyard?” And God is honored.

For this reason fruit bearing matters to God. And it matters to you, doesn’t it? Our assignment is not fruitfulness but faithfulness. The secret to fruit bearing and anxiety-free living is less about doing more and more about abiding.

Read more Anxious for Nothing

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Finding faith, hope, and love in a very personal loss

Many of our longtime readers know that Rev. Jeff Byrd has been my ministry partner for thirty years. He and I served three churches together before co-founding the Denison Forum nearly ten years ago.

Jeff and his wife, Billie, have two sons and a daughter named Morgan. Janet and I have known her since she was born. We rejoiced with their family when she married a fantastic young man named Caleb Scott nearly two years ago (I was privileged to conduct their wedding ceremony). Caleb was a firefighter with a true servant heart and deep love for Jesus.

Tuesday morning, Caleb was found unresponsive in his North Richland Hills fire station. Paramedics were able to revive his heart and rushed him to the hospital, but he died around 5:30 that afternoon. We have no idea what caused Caleb’s death and are in shock over this tragedy. He and Morgan both turned twenty-nine last month.

Please pray for Morgan and her wonderful family, and for our ministry team, as we grieve this sudden and tragic loss.

Tomorrow is promised to no one Continue reading Denison Forum – Finding faith, hope, and love in a very personal loss