Charles Stanley – Our Inheritance

 

Ephesians 1:3-14

Do you ever feel as if the Christian life is nothing but sacrifice? After all, Jesus said those who follow Him must deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow Him (Luke 9:23). If we look at salvation only from an earthly perspective, it may seem costly, but today’s passage opens our eyes to the vast riches of grace that God has lavished upon us in Christ Jesus.

From start to finish, our salvation includes an abundance beyond imagination. The climax of these spiritual blessings is found in Ephesians 1:11: “We have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose.” At the moment we come to faith, we receive every benefit mentioned in today’s passage, along with the promise of future blessings. The Holy Spirit within us is the pledge, or deposit, guaranteeing our inheritance.

Let’s consider just one aspect of our amazing legacy in Christ—our physical form. Philippians 3:21 says that when Jesus returns, He will “transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory.” Right now we groan in bodies weakened and corrupted by sin, but these will be changed in the twinkling of an eye when Jesus comes for us.

John describes it this way: “We know that when He appears, we will be like Him” (1 John 3:2). God’s purpose of glorifying His Son in us will then be accomplished as we are fully conformed to Christ’s likeness. So how are we to live in light of our coming inheritance? John summarizes the answer quite nicely in the next verse: “Everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

Bible in One Year: 1 Chronicles 1-3

 

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Our Daily Bread — Waiting in Anticipation

 

Read: Psalm 130:1–6 | Bible in a Year: 1 Kings 10–11; Luke 21:20–38

I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. Psalm 130:6

Every May Day (May 1) in Oxford, England, an early morning crowd gathers to welcome spring. At 6:00, the Magdalen College Choir sings from the top of Magdalen Tower. Thousands wait in anticipation for the dark night to be broken by song and the ringing of bells.

Like the revelers, I often wait. I wait for answers to prayers or guidance from the Lord. Although I don’t know the exact time my wait will end, I’m learning to wait expectantly. In Psalm 130 the psalmist writes of being in deep distress facing a situation that feels like the blackest of nights. In the midst of his troubles, he chooses to trust God and stay alert like a guard on duty charged with announcing daybreak. “I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning” (v. 6).

God can be trusted in the light and in the dark.

The anticipation of God’s faithfulness breaking through the darkness gives the psalmist hope to endure even in the midst of his suffering. Based on the promises of God found throughout Scripture, that hope allows him to keep waiting even though he has not yet seen the first rays of light.

Be encouraged if you are in the middle of a dark night. The dawn is coming—either in this life or in heaven! In the meantime, don’t give up hope but keep watching for the deliverance of the Lord. He will be faithful.

Please bring light to my darkness. Open my eyes to see You at work and to trust You. I’m grateful that You are faithful, Father.

God can be trusted in the light and in the dark.

By Lisa Samra

INSIGHT

In Psalm 130:5–6 the word wait(s) appears five times. In the Lord’s development of our personal faith, He often delays an answer to prayer to deepen our trust in Him. At times this can be perplexing. Asking for His intervention for a wayward child or for healing of a painful illness often carries a sense of urgency. We pray, “Lord, I need your help now!” But “waiting on the Lord” takes discipline and develops a perseverance in our faith that only steadfastness can yield. Abram waited years for Isaac, the child of promise, to finally be given to him. And this was through Sarah’s unlikely conception when she was advanced in years and beyond the age of childbearing. Yet God’s sovereign hand was orchestrating these events. Abram waited on God in prayer, and eventually God granted him offspring too numerous to count (Genesis 12; 16:10; 17:1–19).

What prayers are you waiting for God to answer? In what ways might your heavenly Father be developing your faith as you wait?

Dennis Fisher

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Is Trust Still Possible? Facebook Distrust and the Surprising Relevance of Faith

 

Years ago the late night comedian Conan O’Brien told a joke in his Year 3000 sketch that went viral. It goes like this: “YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook will merge to form one super time-wasting website called YouTwitFace.”

Well, after watching Mark Zuckerberg defend the credibility of Facebook before Congress, I couldn’t help but think that it is we who are the twits in the recent Facebook struggle. It is clear that Facebook users do not have much trust in the platform they spend their time scrolling on an hourly basis. Recent data provided by the think-tank Ponemon Institute shows that only 27 percent believe that “Facebook is committed to protecting the privacy of my personal information.” If you thought that the catastrophic levels of distrust we are experiencing applied only to political leaders, this revelation tells another story.

We are indeed a very skeptical lot. But what concerns me most are the suggested take-away points from the Facebook conundrum.  First is the impassioned cry from many Facebook users who say that Facebook has an obligation to inform them that their personal information was lost or stolen. I certainly understand the indignation, but there is a critical disconnect here: Facebook, like many other companies, makes its money off of users’ data. Just as there is no such thing as a free lunch, so there is no such thing as a free social media platform. Andrew Keen has made the point that “we think we are using Instagram to look at the world, but actually we are the ones who are being watched.” “We”, he writes, “are the free laborers for the data factories.”

But what is perhaps even more surprising is that, as Hannah Kuchler recently pointed out in The Financial Times, even though we know that our privacy is being handled inappropriately the majority of Facebook users say it is unlikely or there is no chance they would even lessen their use of the social network. So there you have it: we are blazingly furious at the social network for manipulating our personal information, but not upset enough to withstand its allure.

Douglas Rushkoff’s landing point in his thoughtful article about Mark Zuckerberg’s  appearance before Congress was that we need to build an alternative platform that promotes its users’ interests instead of everybody else’s. Although I like the optimism of that charge, I wonder if we forget that Mark Zuckerberg began as a user himself. Facebook started out with perhaps ambiguous intentions, but certainly with its users in mind.

Maybe an alternative social network might be just what we need, but I am not sure. Much of the dialogue, concern, and stress about Facebook highlights the distrust, the anger, and the uncertainty that we harbor toward a social platform that promises relational connectivity.

If one were to arrive late to this conversation, they could be forgiven for mistaking this for a religious dialogue. They wouldn’t be far off the mark simply because underlying the anger and uncertainty of how our data is being used by Facebook is a moral complaint; our indignation is inextricably linked to a sense that the privacy breach is categorically wrong. And when we do some digging, we realize that what we deem to be right and wrong are not simply thin-air principles, but a lived out reality of what we believe to be true of the world, about ourselves, and even our belief in a higher power.

This is where faith comes into play. The almost-hidden assumption of moral complaints is that they are appealing to a moral law that governs how we view right and wrong choices. But if there is such a thing as a moral law, we at some point start asking the God question: could there really be a God out there who gives us that moral law?

This is challenging, but also encouraging. Challenging, because many of us don’t want that reality to be true. It is encouraging because it tells us that there actually could be someone worthy of our trust. Instead of giving up on trust altogether, perhaps we should set out to find something or someone truly trustworthy. Maybe, just maybe, it might be worth exploring the idea that there might be a God beyond our moral frustration with Facebook.

Posted by Nathan Betts, on RZIM

 

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Joyce Meyer – Hunger and Thirst for Peace

 

…Live in peace, and [then] the God of love [Who is the Source of affection, goodwill, love, and benevolence toward men] and the Author and Promoter of peace will be with you.— 2 Corinthians 13:11 AMPC

When Jesus sent out the disciples two by two to preach and heal, He told them to go into each city, find in it a suitable house in which to stay, and to say to the people, “Peace be unto you.” He went on to say that if they were accepted, they should stay there and minister. But if they were not accepted, they were to leave, shaking the very dust of that place off their feet (see Matthew 10:11-15).

I used to wonder why Jesus said that. Then the Lord revealed to me that if the disciples remained in a house or city that was in strife, they could not do any real work there. Do you know why? Because strife grieves the Holy Spirit. When peace leaves, the Holy Spirit leaves, and He is the one who does the real work.

When you picture Jesus going about ministering to others, how do you see Him? Certainly not with the hurry-up attitude we often have. Don’t you instead get an image of Him ministering in quiet, tranquil peace? That is a trait you and I need to develop. As ambassadors for Christ, we need to be more like our Master. If we want to do anything for our Lord and Savior, we need to learn to hunger and thirst for peace.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for Your peace. Please reveal any areas of my life where I am allowing strife to creep in. Help me to become a “maker and maintainer of peace” everywhere I go (see Matthew 5:9). In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The Lord Forgave You

 

“Since you have been chosen by God who has given you this new kind of life, and because of His deep love and concern for you, you should practice tenderhearted mercy and kindness to others. Don’t worry about making a good impression on them but be ready to suffer quietly and patiently. Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudges. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (Colossians 3:12,13).

  1. C. Penney, a devout Christian whom I knew personally, built one of America’s leading businesses on the principle of the Golden Rule, taught by our Lord:

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

He and other gentle men have developed tenderness and sensitivity to others through their years of maturing, often through many difficult and trying experiences. So should we as Christians seek to develop gentle spirits through the trials and tribulations that God permits us to go through.

Do you lack gentleness in your life?

Do you have a tendency to be arrogant, proud, boastful?

Are you overbearing or even coarse and rude with others?

By faith you can become a gentle person. By faith you can confess your sins and know that they have been forgiven. By faith you can appropriate the filling of the Spirit of Christ. By faith you can practice tenderhearted mercy and kindness to others.

The Lord has commanded us to be gentle people, so by faith we can ask for that portion of the fruit of the Spirit, gentleness and love, and know that He is changing us for the better.

As I have cautioned with regard to other Christlike traits, this is one which usually develops over an extended period of time, usually through the maturing process that comes only with time and trials and sometimes tribulation. Pray that God will give you patience with yourself as you mature into the gentle and humble person He wants you to be.

Bible Reading:Colossians 3:14-17

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  God’s promise to me is that He forgives; with His help I will forgive and practice tenderhearted mercy and kindness to others, with the prayer that I may be more and more conformed to the image of my Lord.

 

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Max Lucado – God’s Love is Unfailing

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

God loves you. Personally. Powerfully. Passionately! God loves you with an unfailing love. And his love—if you let it—can fill you and leave you with a love worth giving!

Could it be that the first step of love is not toward them but toward him? Could it be that the secret to loving is receiving? You give love by first receiving it. “We love, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19 NASB). Long to be more loving? Begin by accepting your place as a dearly loved child. “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us” (Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV).

We need help from an outside source. A transfusion. Would we love as God loves? Then we start by receiving God’s love.

Read more A Love Worth Giving

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Deadly caterpillars have invaded London

London is a world-class city. Its history and pageantry are combined with its status as a global financial center. It’s not surprising that more than forty-two million tourists are expected to visit the city this year.

But if you’re planning a visit this summer, avoid the caterpillars.

A particular breed (technically the larval stage of the oak processionary moth) has been deemed toxic by authorities at the UK’s Forestry Commission. The caterpillar’s sixty-two thousand hairs seem to trigger severe allergic reactions in humans. They can cause skin rash, difficulty in breathing, and even death by anaphylactic shock.

Here’s my question: if you have no plans to visit London, what about this story caused you to read it?

A second item in the news: doctors have identified five habits that could help you live a decade longer.

A new study names the five: never smoke, maintain a healthy body-mass index, keep up moderate to vigorous exercise, don’t drink too much alcohol, and eat a healthy diet. Adhering to these five lifestyle factors at age fifty, compared with not adhering to any of them, was associated with fourteen additional years of life for women and 12.2 added years for men.

Once again, what about this story caused you to read it?

What’s wrong with fear

I recently read Hans Rosling’s Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World—and Why Things Are Better Than You Think. Bill Gates calls it “one of the most important books I’ve ever read.” I can see why.

One reason we’re “wrong about the world,” according to Rosling, is that we’re afraid of it. He notes that fears of physical harm, captivity, and contamination by invisible substances that can poison or infect us are “hard-wired deep in our brains.”

In our media-saturated day, one very effective way for a news outlet to get our attention is to tell us stories that stoke such fears. Stories on declining malaria rates or mild weather won’t get past our filters. Stories on earthquakes, wars, disease, fire, flood, sharks, and terror attacks will.

As a result, we are inundated with news that focuses on things we fear. For instance, deadly caterpillars and ways to prevent death made it past your attention filter in today’s Daily Article.

As a result, many of us are wrong about much of the good news in the world.

An example: Rosling asks how the number of deaths per year from natural disasters has changed over the last hundred years: (A) more than doubled; (B) remained about the same; or (C) decreased to less than half. What did you answer?

The correct response was (C). In fact, the number of deaths from acts of nature is 25 percent of what it was one hundred years ago.

Rosling’s point is not that the world is not still a dangerous place. His point is that we have been conditioned by fear to miss the good news for the bad news. And to focus our fear on the wrong subjects.

A lesson from the “Avengers”

I saw the latest Avengers movie over the weekend. I’ve only seen a few of the nineteen that have been made, which makes those I see more confusing than enlightening. I did understand at least this part of the newest film in the series: the heroes are trying to keep the villain from annihilating half of the population in the universe.

This seems a worthy aim. Imagine playing a role in saving so many lives from death.

As I watched the film, however, I could not help thinking about the spiritual death awaiting every person who has not received God’s gift of eternal life in Christ. Of course, there was no fear of such damnation mentioned in the movie.

In Hollywood, people either live or they die. In real life, people either live eternally or they die eternally (Revelation 20:14–15). But we’re so focused on physical fears that we can overlook spiritual fears.

Jesus said, “Do not fear those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). This fear should cause us to share Christ with lost people, no matter the risk to ourselves. The worst that can happen to us cannot compare with the worst that can happen to them.

“I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize”

You may know the name Penn Jillette, a famous magician and outspoken atheist. Some years ago, he made a YouTube video about a businessman who gave him a Bible. We might expect Jillette to castigate the man for “proselytizing.”

Actually, the opposite is true: “He was really kind and nice and sane and looked me in the eyes and talked to me and then gave me this Bible. And I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all.”

Jillette explained: “If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them because it would make it socially awkward . . . How much do you have to hate someone to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?” He added, “That was a really good man who gave me that book.”

What will you tell the Penn Jillettes you meet today?

 

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