Charles Stanley – Christ Is the Pattern

 

Matthew 11:28-30

If Christ were not our burden bearer, every one of us would be lost and on our way to eternal separation from God. Jesus bore our sins in His own body on the cross so that we might live righteously (1 Peter 2:24). To those who are tired and downtrodden, He says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Because our salvation is the result of Jesus being the sin bearer, He is our perfect role model.

God predestined us to be conformed to the likeness of Christ (Rom. 8:29). That’s why suffering alongside those enduring the trials of life is in our spiritual DNA—it’s part of being a child of God. The hallmark of a Christian is love, and this should be evident in the way we treat others.

But bearing other people’s burdens is difficult, particularly when we have cares and struggles of our own. Nevertheless, we should not try to wait until all of our problems are solved before deciding to emulate the work of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul, who faced many obstacles, continued to serve others. He said, “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). That means we can share someone else’s burden even when we have our own. God’s grace is more than sufficient for both.

God is never too busy to tend to our cares. People all over the world are hurting deeply today. The Lord knows how you can be a servant to someone who needs your friendship. Ask Him to use you as a healing salve to bring another person freedom from burdens.

Bible in One Year: 1 Chronicles 10-12

 

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Our Daily Bread — Before the Beginning

 

Read: Matthew 3:13–17 | Bible in a Year: 1 Kings 16–18; Luke 22:47–71

You loved me before the creation of the world. John 17:24

“But if God has no beginning and no end, and has always existed, what was He doing before He created us? How did He spend His time?” Some precocious Sunday school student always asks this question when we talk about God’s eternal nature. I used to respond that this was a bit of a mystery. But recently I learned that the Bible gives us an answer to this question.

When Jesus prays to His Father in John 17, He says “Father, . . . you loved me before the creation of the world” (v. 24). This is God as revealed to us by Jesus: Before the world was ever created, God was a trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)—all loving each other and being loved. When Jesus was baptized, God sent His Spirit in the form of a dove and said, “This is my Son, whom I love” (Matthew 3:17). The most foundational aspect of God’s identity is this outgoing, life-giving love.

God, thank You for Your overflowing, self-giving love.

What a lovely and encouraging truth this is about our God! The mutual, outgoing love expressed by each member of the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is key to understanding the nature of God. What was God doing before the beginning of time? What He always does: He was loving because He is love (1 John 4:8).

God, thank You for Your overflowing, self-giving love.

We are created in the image of a God who is loving and relational.

By Amy Peterson

INSIGHT

Love has always defined God; it is at the core of everything He does, now and in eternity. But today’s text urges us to think about an aspect of God’s love we might not typically consider.

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit spend eternity in a perfect relationship—giving and receiving love. It’s important to remember that genuine love not only gives love but also receives it. It wouldn’t be loving of the Father not to accept the love of the Son and the Spirit. It’s easy to say we love someone and to show it with what we do for them, but part of loving them is receiving their expressions of love too. That takes humility and trust.

Do you need to receive the love of someone else today? Or do you need to receive the love of God again and remember the reason we love Him is because He first loved us.

J.R. Hudberg

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Many-Splendored Afternoon

Flannery O’Connor could not explain her fascination with peacocks. But she loved them. In fact, the southern writer of short stories lived on a farm where she raised near a hundred of them. She adopted her first peacock at the age of twenty-five, around the time she was diagnosed with a debilitating disease, and she could not stop looking at him. It was for her a mysterious sign of life, and an image that silenced her. In an essay focusing on her fascination, she describes the bird’s transfiguration from fledgling to finery: “[T]he peacock starts life with an inauspicious appearance….the color of those large objectionable moths that flutter about light bulbs on summer nights.” But after two years, when the bird has fully attained its pattern, “for the rest of his life this chicken will act as if he designed it himself… With his tail spread, he inspires a range of emotions, but I have yet to hear laughter. The usual reaction is silence, at least for a time.”(1)

It is not without coincidence that O’Connor used the peacock as a symbol for the transfigured Christ in many of her stories. Often cited is her use of the bird in The Displaced Person. In this story, the peacock is a main character of sorts, functioning for everyone else in the story as something of a spiritual test. Some never notice him; another sees the bird only as “another mouth to feed.” Still another liked to have peacocks around simply to signify his wealth; another is altogether besieged by the peacock’s splendor. With eyes locked on the regal bird poised in color and majesty, he says, overwhelmed, “Christ will come like that.”(2)

I appreciate stories that remind me to keep my eyes opened for all that can be seen but can just as easily be missed. Encounters with the sacred can be like this. Because ancient Greeks held the belief that the peacock’s flesh did not decay after death, the peacock became a symbol of Christ and resurrection in the early church. Many early Christian paintings and mosaics used the peacock imagery as a means of depicting the resurrected Christ or resurrection itself—namely, this new category of creation, the new way of seeing the world that the death and resurrection of Jesus necessitates. The many-splendored disruption that the resurrection ushered into the world is as crucial to take in as the historical evidences of the event. The promise of the fully human resurrected Christ to our own humanity is almost too much to take into our daily moments of running to and fro. And yet, here resurrection stands poised in all its incomprehensible finery, bidding us to consider what it might mean for this very moment, for this afternoon, for this community, for this relationship, for this death. Silence isn’t the worst reaction. Surprise, humility, gratitude are others.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Many-Splendored Afternoon

Joyce Meyer –True Prosperity

 

Beloved, I pray that in every way you may succeed and prosper and be in good health [physically], just as [I know] your soul prospers [spiritually]. — 3 John 1:2

A person is never truly prosperous if all he has are things and money; real prosperity requires far more than that. The Bible gives a more complete approach to prosperity, and so should we.

When our bodies prosper, we are strong and physically healthy. Even if we currently have a physical ailment, we can pray for and expect God to help us. True prosperity includes peace of mind and contentment. When our souls prosper, we flourish on the inside. We are at peace; we are full of joy; we live with a sense of purpose; we are growing spiritually; and we have strong, loving relationships with others.

Jesus said that He came so we could have and enjoy life in abundance and to the full (see John 10:10). God is the God of abundance, and He wants us to live abundant lives filled with thanksgiving and joy.

Prayer Starter: I thank You, Father, that You prosper my body and my soul. I pray today for the health and the peace that You promise in Your Word. Thank You that I am made whole in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Ways That Are Right and Best

 

“He will teach the ways that are right and best to those who humbly turn to Him” (Psalm 25:9).

A guide, taking some tourists through Mammoth Cave, reached a place called “The Cathedral.”

Mounting a rock called “The Pulpit,” he said he wanted to preach a sermon, and it would be short.

“Keep close to your guide,” he said.

The tourists soon found it was a good sermon. If they did not keep close to the guide, they would be lost in the midst of pits, precipices and caverns.

It is hard to find one’s way through Mammoth Cave without a guide. It is harder to find one’s way through the world without the lamp of God’s Word.

“Keep your eye on the Light of the World (Jesus) and use the Lamp of God’s Word” is a good motto for the Christian to follow.

Humbly turning to God is one of the most meaningful exercises a person can take. We come in touch with divine sovereignty, and we become instant candidates to discern God’s will for our lives.

Humbling ourselves is clearly in line with God’s formula for revival:

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14, KJV).

Bible Reading:Psalm 25:1-8

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: With the enabling of the Holy Spirit, I will fix my heart and mind on Jesus first and others second, which is true humility.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Love is Patient

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Has anyone told you about God’s patience? His patience and willingness to put up with you! “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love” (Psalm 103:8).

Paul presents patience as the premiere expression of love. Positioned at the head of the apostle’s Love Armada—a boat-length or two in front of kindness, courtesy, and forgiveness—is the flagship known as patience.  1 Corinthians 13:4 states,  “Love is patient!” Patience waits. It listens. It’s slow to boil. This is how God treats us. And according to Jesus, this is how we should treat others. How infiltrated are you with God’s patience? You’ve heard about it. Read about it. But have you received it? The proof is in your patience. Patience deeply received results in patience freely offered!

Read more A Love Worth Giving

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Sutherland Springs pastor led National Day of Prayer service

Frank and Sherri Pomeroy helped lead yesterday’s National Day of Prayer service in Washington, DC. The service came just two days before the six-month anniversary of the shooting that took the lives of twenty-six members of Pastor Pomeroy’s church, the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas.

Among the members killed was Pomeroy’s fourteen-year-old daughter, Annabelle.

The church plans to hold a memorial tomorrow to honor the victims and survivors. The congregation will then transition into a groundbreaking ceremony for its new sanctuary. It will be built next to the old church, which currently and forever will serve as a memorial for their lost loved ones.

The new church will be built of stone, symbolizing the strength of the congregation and community.

Their church’s remarkable ministry to their grieving people is just one example of Christians acting as salt and light (Matthew 5:13–16). There were many others yesterday. Those who organized the National Day of Prayer expected some forty thousand events to mark the day across the country.

How much does religion contribute to our economy?

President Trump signed an executive order yesterday creating the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative. The order was signed in the Rose Garden, attended by his cabinet members and some two hundred religious representatives.

Previous administrations created similarly named offices to foster partnerships between religious organizations and the government. The Faith and Opportunity Initiative will provide policy recommendations on “more effective solutions to poverty” and inform the administration of “any failures of the executive branch to comply with religious liberty protections under law.”

Are you wondering whether religion offers tangible benefits worthy of such recognition?

A recent study by Georgetown University found that the faith sector contributes $1.2 trillion to the US economy. That’s more than the combined revenue of the top ten technology companies in the country, including Apple, Amazon, and Google.

Is religion a product of evolution?

Nonetheless, critics of religion abound.

For instance, an evolutionary biologist named Bret Weinstein is convinced that there is no such place as heaven. He asserts, however, that believing in heaven keeps our descendants in good standing in our religious community, setting our lineage up to continue. Thus, belief systems are “literally false and metaphorically true.”

In response, I would note that his argument offers no evidential basis as a truth claim. He is asserting a secular faith proposition as he denies the truthfulness of religious faith propositions.

A University of Connecticut anthropology professor named Dimitris Xygalatas offers a different skeptical view. He claims that early societies were so small, their members could rely on each other’s reputations to decide whom to trust. In this era, the ancient Greek gods could be worshiped even though they had no interest in people’s personal conduct.

As human societies grew larger, they needed faith in all-knowing, all-powerful gods who would punish moral transgressions. Thus, the evolution of the gods of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, among others.

However, his argument suffers a fatal historical flaw. Judaism began centuries before Greek mythology and has always centered on objective morality. Islam began among tribal cultures rather than large cities and cultures.

The professor also cites studies claiming that religious activity does not promote moral behavior. However, he makes no distinction between the various world religions and a personal, transformational relationship with Jesus Christ.

Who is on trial?

Despite yesterday’s White House initiative, I am seeing greater skepticism and opposition to religion in general and Christianity in particular than at any time in my life.

How should we respond? By remembering who is on trial.

When Paul stood before Festus and King Agrippa, he turned his personal peril into an opportunity for the gospel. After sharing his salvation story, he defended the gospel so effectively that the king cried, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” (Acts 26:28).

The apostle responded, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains” (v. 29). He knew that the person in danger was not himself but those before whom he was being tried.

The worst that could happen to him would send him eternally to paradise. The worst that could happen to them would send them eternally to hell.

It is the same with critics of our faith. Rather than becoming defensive, we should remember whose immortal soul is in peril. We can then explain and defend our faith with the confidence that the Holy Spirit is using us in ways we may not be able to measure on this side of heaven (Luke 12:12).

If you were a physician and your patient rejected your lifesaving diagnosis and treatment, you could let your critic die to prove you were right. Or you could respond to rejection with mercy, doing all you could to save your dying patient.

Which would you choose?

 

http://www.denisonforum.org/