Charles Stanley – Voiding God’s Grace

 

Galatians 3:1-5

In verse 3 of today’s passage, the apostle Paul raises a probing question for all who have believed in Jesus Christ for salvation. He says, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” The subtle shift from confidence in Jesus to confidence in the flesh (or self) can all too easily go unnoticed.

When we receive salvation through faith in Jesus and first experience God’s glorious grace and freedom from sin, we know we could never have produced these ourselves. We’re filled with gratitude and awe that He would give us the gift of salvation.

However, as we grow in grace and submit to the disciplines of obedience and service, we begin to accumulate a record of good deeds and Christlike conduct. If we’re not careful, we may begin to put confidence in our own righteousness and obedience instead of the Holy Spirit’s work in our life.

There’s something within our fallen humanity that longs to take credit for the good we do. We’ll readily acknowledge that we are saved by grace, but then we assume that living the Christian life is now up to us—that God did His part by saving us, and now we must do ours. Such thinking elevates us and denies the power of the Spirit in us.

Only when we have a large view of God and a small view of ourselves will we be able to see that we add nothing to our salvation. Nor can we claim credit for the work the Holy Spirit does in and through us as He sanctifies and matures us in Christ.

Bible in One Year: 1 Kings 8-9

 

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Our Daily Bread — Just a Second

 

Read: Psalm 39:4–6 | Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 30–31; Luke 13:23–35

How fleeting my life is. Psalm 39:4

Scientists are pretty fussy about time. At the end of 2016, the folks at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland added an extra second to the year. So if you felt that year dragged on a bit longer than normal, you were right.

Why did they do that? Because the rotation of the earth slows down over time, the years get just a tiny bit longer. When scientists track manmade objects launched into space, they must have accuracy down to the millisecond. This is “to make sure our collision avoidance programs are accurate,” according to one scientist.

Lord, help us to use our time wisely for Your honor and glory.

For most of us, a second gained or lost doesn’t make much difference. Yet according to Scripture, our time and how we use it is important. For instance, Paul reminded us in 1 Corinthians 7:29 that “time is short.” The time we have to do God’s work is limited, so we must use it wisely. He urged us to “[make] the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16 esv).

This doesn’t mean we have to count each second as do the scientists, but when we consider the fleeting nature of life (Psalm 39:4), we can be reminded of the importance of using our time wisely.

Lord, thank You for each moment You give us. May we strive to honor You with this gift by using our time wisely for Your honor and glory.

Don’t just spend time—invest it.

By Dave Branon

INSIGHT

Can you think of a time in your life that served as a wake-up call? David wrote Psalm 39 recalling such a moment. Although he doesn’t describe the circumstances that roused him from a sleeplike existence, his song tells us how he came to sense the importance of the moments given to us.

At first, he’s troubled by those who seem to have no moral conscience. Sensing foolishness and danger in their presence, he decides not to speak—maybe so he won’t be like them or so that his words cannot be used against him (39:1–2).

But in self-imposed silence, David has a more troubling thought. He too has been living without wisdom. Time is getting away from him. He’s lost the joy and wonder of life. Realizing his own inclination to think life is found in the material things we accumulate, he calls out for help (vv. 3–6).

Recalling what he has already learned about the Source of joy and hope, he sees how reliant he is on the eternal God to help him see more than the momentary distraction of passing wealth (vv. 7–13).

Could this be a good time to see ourselves in David’s song?

Mart DeHaan

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Everything Off Balance

The earliest creeds of the Christian church confess that Jesus “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.” It is then confessed, “On the third day, he rose again.”(1) While modern presuppositions may tempt us to interpret the death and resurrection of Jesus as symbolic or spiritual in nature, there was nothing abstract about the events and details confessed by those who first beheld them. Jesus’s suffering was an actual, datable event in history, his crucifixion a sentence inflicted on an actual body; the proclamation of both was the remembrance of a cold reality, something akin to remembering the Holocaust or the Trail of Tears. Likewise, “the third day” was a tangible, historical occasion—albeit an occasion of unfathomable proportions.

Yet the resurrection of Jesus was not viewed as merely a static fact on this particular third day, a fixed event to remain in this history alone. “We believe that Jesus died and rose again” wrote the apostle Paul, “and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”(2) For those who first beheld it, the resurrection was an event with inherent consequences for everything—for order and purpose, for what it means to be human itself. The earliest confessions of Christ’s death, burial, and third day rising from the dead are immediately followed by certain understood implications. As the Misfit in Flannery O’Connor’s short story observes of this resurrected one, Jesus went and “thrown everything off balance.”

In the eyes of Jesus’s contemporaries, the Misfit is exactly right. This rabbi who was accused of blasphemy for calling himself equal to God was immediately here shown by God to be speaking the truth. The resurrection verified Jesus’s ties with the Father and his claims to divine authority; the Sonship of Christ was visibly and unmistakably confirmed by the Father. “For God raised him from the dead” writes Paul in 1 Thessalonians 1:10. This connection was clear.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Everything Off Balance

Joyce Meyer – Let Peace Be Your Umpire

Let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts. — Colossians 3:15

I try to run my life by finding peace. If I am shopping, I don’t buy something if I don’t have peace about it. If I am involved in a conversation and find myself losing my peace, I become quiet. When I make decisions, I look at the options before me and see where the peace is. When I am trying to discern between the voice of God and the other voices that compete for my attention, I listen to see which voice or message brings the peace of God into my heart.

I have learned that maintaining peace is important in order to maintain power in our lives. When we don’t have peace, we may very well be making a serious mistake. I would go so far as to say we should never act without peace. We might say that peace is an “internal confirmation” that God approves of the decision we have made. God leads us by peace.

The verse for today says peace is like an umpire that decides what is “safe” or what is “out.” If there’s no peace, it’s “out”! We are to let the inner harmony in our minds and souls rule and act as an umpire continually in our hearts, deciding and settling with finality all the questions that arise in our minds and the decisions we must make in our lives.

We must learn to obey our own sense of right and wrong and resist doing things our inner conscience is uncomfortable doing. God gives or takes peace from our conscience to let us know whether or not we are on track.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for leading and guiding me into Your perfect will. Help me to be more sensitive to Your Holy Spirit and follow Your peace in all of life’s decisions. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

From the devotional Hearing from God Each Day by Joyce Meyer.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – A Healthy, Growing Body 

 

“Instead, we will lovingly follow the truth at all times – speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly – and so become more and more in every way like Christ who is the Head of His body, the church. Under His direction the whole body is fitted together perfectly, and each part in its own special way helps the other parts, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love” (Ephesians 4:15-16).

I am concerned, as you no doubt are, that God’s ideal church, in which the whole body is fitted together perfectly, becomes a reality. And if that is to happen, it will mean that I must become a part of that perfect fit.

Within the body of Christ, each of us has a unique function. True, two people might have similar functions just as a body has two hands that function similarly. But those two hands are not identical. Just try to wear a lefthand glove on your right hand!

The hands have similar functions, not identical functions. You and I might have similar abilities, but we are not identical. We are unique creations of God.

Therefore, we should not look upon our abilities with pride or be boastful of them. On the other hand, we should not be envious or look with disdain on others because of their different abilities.

Spiritual gifts include (1 Corinthians 12): wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues, apostleship, teaching, helping, and administration; (Romans 12, additional): leadership, exhortation, giving and mercy.

Bible Reading:Ephesians 4:7-14

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  So that I might fit more perfectly into God’s whole body, I will prayerfully seek the leadership of the Holy Spirit to enable me to make a maximum contribution to the body of Christ.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Meditate on Good Things

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

We worry about the past—what we said or did. We worry about the future—tomorrow’s assignments or the next decade’s developments. Worry takes a meat cleaver to our thoughts, energy, and focus.

But when you aren’t focused on your problem, you have a sudden availability of brain space. So, use it for good! Meditate on good things. According to the words of  the apostle Paul, “Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things!” (Philippians 4:8).

Don’t let anxious, negative thoughts take over your mind. You cannot control the circumstances, but you can always control what you think of them.

Read more Anxious for Nothing

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Barbara Bush in failing health, declines medical treatment

“It will not surprise those who know her that Barbara Bush has been a rock in the face of her failing health, worrying not for herself—thanks to her abiding faith—but for others. She is surrounded by a family she adores, and appreciates the many kind messages and especially the prayers she is receiving.”

With these words, a family spokesman announced yesterday that Mrs. Bush has decided to end medical treatment and will focus on comfort care.

Tributes to the former first lady have already begun.

UN Ambassador Nikki Haley called her “a woman of great faith, great strength, and an unwavering love of country.” On the other side of the political spectrum, Chelsea Clinton tweeted, “I will never forget how kind she was to me on every occasion we met, and how fondly the White House staff always spoke of her.”

I know of no more universally admired person in American politics than Barbara Bush. Conversely, I know of no more polarizing person than the other political figure making headlines today.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Barbara Bush in failing health, declines medical treatment