Charles Stanley – Are You a True Follower of Jesus?

 

John 6:1-27

When Jesus walked this earth, He was often surrounded by a multitude. Such large crowds might give the impression that the entire nation of Israel was committed to Him as their Messiah. But by the end of His ministry, there were only 120 loyal followers gathered in an upper room (Acts 1:12-15).

The majority of those who followed Jesus around were interested only in what He could do for them. They came to be healed or to see the miracles He performed. After the Lord fed about 5,000 people a supernatural meal, they came back in the morning expecting breakfast. John 6:66 tells us that when Jesus refused to work another miracle for them and declared Himself the true bread of life, “many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.”

Temporary Christ-followers are still around today. They want the benefits Jesus can offer but are unwilling to accept hard truths or deny their own will for His. These people are like the seeds that fell on rocky soil in Jesus’ parable. (See Matt. 13:20-21.) They stick around for a while, but if He doesn’t benefit them as they expected, they fall away.

When it comes to true Christ-followers, church rosters don’t give an accurate picture. False gospels promising a better life draw those who are seeking Jesus’ benefits but who remain uninterested in Christ Himself. True followers are more like Simon Peter in John 6:68. When Jesus asked if they too wanted to leave, they replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.”

Bible in One Year: Psalm 103-106

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Light of the World

 

Read: Revelation 3:14–22 | Bible in a Year: Job 17–19; Acts 10:1–23

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in. Revelation 3:20

One of my favorite pieces of art hangs in the Keble College chapel in Oxford, England. The painting, The Light of the World by English artist William Holman Hunt, shows Jesus holding a lantern in His hand and knocking on a door to a home.

One of the intriguing aspects of the painting is that the door doesn’t have a handle. When questioned about the lack of a way to open the door, Hunt explained that he wanted to represent the imagery of Revelation 3:20, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in.”

The apostle John’s words and the painting illustrate the kindness of Jesus. He gently knocks on the door of our souls with His offer of peace. Jesus stands and patiently waits for us to respond. He does not open the door Himself and force His way into our lives. He does not impose His will on ours. Instead, He offers to all people the gift of salvation and light to guide us.

To anyone who opens the door, He promises to enter. There are no other requirements or prerequisites.

If you hear the voice of Jesus and His gentle knock on the door of your soul, be encouraged that He patiently waits for you and will enter if you welcome Him in.

Lord, thank You for the gift of salvation and Your promise to enter when we open the door. Please help me to respond to this gift and open the door for You today.

Open the door to Jesus; He is patiently waiting for you.

By Lisa Samra

INSIGHT

Why does Jesus, like Moses and the prophets before Him, remind us that it’s possible to see without seeing, to hear without hearing, and to think without understanding? (Matthew 13:15; Deuteronomy 29:4).

Seven times in His letters to the seven churches, the resurrected Lord of the church offers counsel to those who have an ear to hear. Seven times He repeats to people who already thought of themselves as believers, “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” Why such repetition? What are the distractions He mentions in these letters? (Revelation 2–3). What could possibly turn us away from the One who is waiting for us to realize we still need Him more than the air we breathe?

http://www.odb.org

Streams in the Desert for Kids – Walk with Jesus

 

1 Peter 4:12-13

Jesus paid a huge price so that you and I could live in heaven with him forever. We can’t even begin to appreciate what he did for us—the suffering he endured, the lives that he changed—but we can be grateful for his love. This love gives us courage and strength to face hard times just like Jesus did as God’s son.

No one likes to suffer, but remember that when you do, Jesus understands all about it, not just because he’s God, but because he himself suffered on earth too. He understands when you’re sad, lonely, angry, and depressed because he experienced every one of those emotions. He felt betrayed when his closest friends handed him over to the Pharisees and pretended not to know him. He felt pain when he suffered under the whip and on the cross. And because he knows what it’s like to suffer on earth, Christ will be with you in your tough times.

Dear Lord, I’m so glad that Jesus knows everything about me. Thank you that he chose to endure the cross. Please help me endure the hard things I face. Amen.

Joyce Meyer – Let Your Mess Become Your Message

And we all, with unveiled face, continually seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image from [one degree of] glory to [even more] glory, which comes from the Lord, [who is] the Spirit. — 2 Corinthians 3:18

Adapted from the resource New Day New You Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

I encourage people to let go of their past, but never to run from it. The only way to gain victory over the pain of our past is to let God walk us back through that doorway of pain and into victory. No one can achieve victory for us; we have to work out our own salvation. Paul explained this truth in his letter to the Philippian church, saying:

“Therefore, my dear ones . . . work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ). [Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight. (Philippians 2:12-13 AMPC.)

We have to let God take us through things and let Him work in us so our mess becomes our message. Difficult things that we have endured in our past prepare us for God’s blessings in our future.

Prayer Starter: Father, You are the only One Who can take what I’ve been through and work it out for my good. Help me to continually draw closer to You and deal with the painful areas of my life that You want to heal. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Anything Is Possible

 

“Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23, KJV).

“My doing all depends on thy believing” is what Jesus really said to the desperate father of the demoniac boy. And it is what He says to you and me today.

The Lord sought to bring forth faith in that struggling soul, and – through pain and travail – it came to birth. Realizing that the solution rested not upon God’s power but upon his own faith, the man became conscious of conflicting principles and delivered himself of a noble utterance:

“Lord, I believe, help Thou mine unbelief.”

Mystery of mysteries: even the very faith that we must exercise to bring down the power of God is a gift from God Himself. But some conditions are laid down before we receive that gift of faith.

“Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”

When I spend time in God’s Word – whether reading, studying, memorizing or meditating – that faith is being built up in me. Not faith in myself, not faith in a routine, but faith in the almighty ruler of heaven and earth.

That physical illness; that unsaved loved one; that financial need; that faltering relationship; that broken home – whatever the need might be – the solution is as close as the Word of God, for our dependence upon it, and upon the God of the Word, brings the faith that unlocks the solution to every need.

Bible Reading:Mark 9:24-29

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I shall believe God today for every need I face, at the same time building up my faith in Him by feasting on His Word.

 

http://www.cru.org

Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Don’t Prejudge the Soil

Read: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

A sower went out to sow. (v. 3)

A friend of mine tells the story of how, when he started in the life insurance business, his supervisor handed him a pad of paper and told him to make two lists. The first list contained the names of people who were excellent candidates for a sales pitch: his parents, his best friend, and so forth. The second list contained the names of unpromising candidates: people with whom he had quarreled, personal enemies, and so forth. When he had completed both lists, his supervisor told him to go and make a sales call on every person on the second list! My friend said, “Surprisingly, I made several sales!”

The sower in the parable broadcasts the seed, flinging it everywhere. But too often we prejudge the soil. That is, we decide in advance who is worth our witness, and who isn’t. We make a list, so to speak, of who is a candidate for conversion, and who isn’t. This family probably won’t accept my invitation to come to church, so I won’t ask them. This troubled co-worker will not respond positively if I offer to pray for her, so I won’t offer.

Don’t decide in advance who is good soil and who isn’t. As a young man I was an unpromising, rocky, weed-choked, sun-scorched path of soil. But a college chaplain felt I was worth an invitation to give myself to Christ, and it changed my life. You just never know where you’re going to find good soil. —Lou Lotz

Prayer: Father, help me to be good soil, and a good sower

https://woh.org/

 

 

BreakPoint –  Justice Kennedy’s Long Awaited Retirement: What it Means for Life and Religious Freedom

Wednesday’s announcement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s long-anticipated retirement has launched the discussion that will dominate the news for the next four or five months.

It’s a discussion Christians should join. After all, there’s so much at stake in who is chosen as his successor. To put it simply, the stakes are much higher with this nomination than they were with Justice Gorsuch replacing the late Antonin Scalia. In that case, the President was replacing one conservative justice with another.

But this time around, Kennedy’s replacement could alter the philosophical balance on the Court. Of course, Justice Kennedy is no “liberal.” He was very often the fifth vote in cases of importance to conservatives, especially in this past term where he voted with conservative justices in all fourteen 5-4 votes.

But he certainly was not conservative in his views on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. He, along with Justices O’Connor and Souter, authored the decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which not only saved Roe but created an entirely new rationale for the right to abortion.

That now-infamous “mystery passage” stated that “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

Four years later, in Romer v. Evans, he wrote that Colorado’s Amendment 2, which prohibited state and local governments from including sexual orientation as a protected class in anti-discrimination laws, could only be based on animus toward LGBT people.

Then in 2003, in Lawrence v. Texas which overturned Texas’s anti-sodomy statute, he wrote that the law “furthers no legitimate state interest which can justify its intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual.”

Continue reading BreakPoint –  Justice Kennedy’s Long Awaited Retirement: What it Means for Life and Religious Freedom