Charles Stanley – The Practices of Maturity

 

Hebrews 5:12-14

Believers are on a continual growth track that ascends higher and higher. This side of heaven, none of us ever “arrive,” but we each have a responsibility to press on to maturity. Though many people think those who know a lot about the Bible are the spiritually mature ones, Hebrews 5:14 adds the element of practice to the growth equation. This word means a custom or habit. Christian growth requires the discipline of godly habits carried out daily.

The most important practice to cultivate is a personal devotional time. Since God is the source of all spiritual development, you can’t neglect Him and expect to become mature. Transformation begins with time in His Word and prayer.

Obedience is another essential element for advancement. When our desire to obey the Lord is stronger than our attraction to sin, we’ll know we are making progress in our spiritual life.

In terms of physical development, the goal is to become more independent and self-sufficient as we age. But in the spiritual realm, the opposite is true. Those who are mature in Christ recognize their own inadequacy and rely on the Holy Spirit within them. It’s His job to transform our character and empower us to accomplish everything the Lord calls us to do.

In God’s eyes, maturity isn’t the same as getting older. By digging into Scripture and developing God-pleasing habits, we can use our years to grow stronger in the Lord instead of wasting time with passivity. No one becomes mature accidentally. Spiritual growth requires a diligent pursuit of God.

Bible in One Year: Ezekiel 7-9

 

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Our Daily Bread — You Love Me?

 

Read: Malachi 1:1–5 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 126–128; 1 Corinthians 10:19–33

How have you loved us? Malachi 1:2

As a teenager, I went through the typical season of rebellion against my mother’s authority. My father died before I entered adolescence, so my mom had to navigate these turbulent parenting waters without his help.

I recall thinking that Mom didn’t want me to ever have any fun—and maybe didn’t even love me—because she frequently said no. I see now that she said no to activities that weren’t good for me precisely because she loves me.

The Israelites questioned how much God loved them because of their time in captivity in Babylon. But that captivity was God’s correction for their continued rebellion against Him. So now, God sent the prophet Malachi to them. His opening words from the Lord were, “I have loved you” (Malachi 1:2). Israel replied skeptically, inquiring as to how God has loved them, as if to say, “Really?” But God, through Malachi, reminded them of the way He had demonstrated that love: He had chosen them over the Edomites.

We all go through difficult seasons in life. We may be tempted to question God’s love for us during those times. Let’s recall the many ways He’s shown us His unfailing love. When we stop to consider His goodness, we find that He is indeed a loving Father.

Lord, You have shown tender care for me over the course of my life. You’ve been present with me in difficult seasons. Help me to always remember Your love.

Our heavenly Father corrects us and comforts us.

By Kirsten Holmberg

INSIGHT

Malachi, though a short book, is a very important one. Malachi ministered as the last prophet sent to the remnant that had returned to Jerusalem from the Babylonian captivity. The prophet’s central theme is the coming of the Messiah. The prophet preaches about God’s righteous judgment as well as His love. It’s only in the overwhelming sacrifice of the Messiah, His victory over death, and coming back to earth to make all things right, that the love of God can be fully understood.

The unmerited offer of redeeming grace made known through Jesus Christ is the central theme of the Bible. Certainly our Lord’s life and ministry are a marvelous picture of God’s declaration “I have loved you” (1:2).

Why not take a few minutes to prayerfully reflect on Christ coming to redeem you and the future hope of His coming again.

Dennis Fisher

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Into the Story

 

Science fiction novelist Kurt Vonnegut once said of one of his most recurrent characters, “Trout was the only character I ever created who had enough imagination to suspect that he might be the creation of another human being. He had spoken of this possibility several times to his parakeet. He had said, for instance, ‘Honest to God, Bill, the way things are going, all I can think of is that I’m a character in a book by somebody who wants to write about somebody who suffers all the time.”(1) In this scene from the book Breakfast of Champions, Kilgore Trout’s haunting suspicion is unveiled before him. Sitting content at a bar, Kilgore is suddenly overwhelmed by someone or something that has entered the room. Beginning to sweat, he becomes uncomfortably aware of a presence disturbingly greater than himself.

The author himself, Kurt Vonnegut, has stepped beyond the role of narrator and into the book itself, and the effect is as bizarre for Kilgore as it is for the readers. When the author of the book steps into the novel, fiction is lost within a new reality. Kilgore senses the world as he knows it collapsing. In fact, this was the author’s intent. Vonnegut has placed himself in Kilgore’s world for no other reason than to explain the meaninglessness of Kilgore’s life. He came to explain to Kilgore face to face that the very tiresome life he has led was, in fact, all due to the pen and whims of an author who made it all up for his own sake. In this twisted ending, no doubt illustrative of Vonnegut’s own humanism, Kilgore is forced to conclude that apart from the imagination of the author he does not actually exist. Ironically, he also must come to terms with the fact that it is because of the author that his very existence has been ridiculous.

The testifying voices of the gospel tell a story that is perhaps as fantastic as Vonnegut’s tale, though one with consequences in stark contrast. The Gospel of John, too, begins with a story that is interrupted by the presence of the author: “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and that life was the light of all people… And the word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a Father’s only son, full of grace and truth… From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace.”(2) The word became one of us and moved into the neighborhood. But in this story, the presence of the author is not our demise but our inherent good.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Into the Story

Joyce Meyer – Our Number One Goal in Life

 

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. — Romans 8:29

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

Our number one goal in life as Christians should be Christlikeness. Jesus is the express image of the Father, and we are to follow in His footsteps. He came as the pioneer of our faith to show us by example how we should live and conduct ourselves. We should seek to behave with people the way Jesus did.

Our goal is not to see how successful we can be in business or how famous we can be. It is not prosperity, popularity, or even building a big ministry, but to be Christ-like.

The world doesn’t only need a sermon preached to them; they also need to see actions backing up what we say we believe as Christians. Our lives should make other people hungry and thirsty for what we have in Christ. The Bible refers to us as salt, which makes people thirsty, and light, which exposes darkness.

Many Christians have bumper stickers on their cars, or they wear some kind of jewelry that indicates they are believers in Jesus Christ. The world is not impressed by our bumper stickers and Christian jewelry; they want to see fruit of godly behavior. They want to see people who claim to be Christians living what they preach, not just preaching to others while it doesn’t seem to be working in their own lives.

Prayer Starter: Lord, help me today to be a good witness for You and truly show people what You are like. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – No Abuse Tolerated

 

“So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him” (Isaiah 59:19, KJV).

A prominent secular columnist and a businessman were united in their efforts to destroy a well-known godly Christian leader. It seemed that they would stoop to whatever mischief was necessary to accomplish their goal: Discredit this man of God.

One day they were warned of the danger of attacking God’s anointed. They were shown that they were not simply attacking an individual, but they were actually tempting God, because this man was His servant and it was God’s responsibility to take care of him. The warning was given in these words, “If I were you, I’d be petrified with fear because you are not attacking a man, but a servant of God. I’d be afraid of what God would do to me to punish me if I were guilty of doing what you are doing.”

They laughed at such a warning, but only a few hours later one of them was killed in a tragic accident. The other was very sobered by this dramatic demonstration of how God protects His own.

I agree with the man who gave the warning. In fact, I would hate to be a critic or an enemy, not just of a godly Christian leader, but of any child of God who seeks to live a holy life because that individual can be assured that God will fight for Him. Whenever a person who desires to please the Lord with all of his attitudes and actions and desires and motives is attacked, the Spirit of the Lord will raise up a standard against the adversary.

If you are a man or woman of God, I would be scared to death to criticize you, or to find fault with you, or to attack you in any way. All who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ have been purchased with His own precious blood, and he will not tolerate the abuse of His blood-purchased followers.

Bible Reading:Isaiah 59:16-21

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: With God’s help, I will guard my tongue, my attitudes and actions concerning other believers, following the admonition, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). I will seek to love all men as an expression of the supernatural life-style.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Mercy and Grace

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

You and I have stumbled in life.  We’ve done our best, only to trip and fall.  The distance between where we are and where we want to be is impassable. Where do we turn? I suggest we look to one of God’s sweetest promises:

“For our high priest [Jesus] is able to understand our weaknesses.  He was tempted in every way that we are, but he did not sin.  Let us, then, feel very sure that we can come before God’s throne where there is grace.  There we can receive mercy and grace to help us when we need it”  (Hebrews 4:15-16).

When we stumble we aren’t abandoned. The stunning idea is simply this: God, for a time, became one of us.  God became flesh in the form of Jesus Christ.  Neither his humanity nor deity were compromised.  Because God’s promises are unbreakable our hope is unshakable!

Read more Unshakable Hope

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Three facts explain John McCain’s popularity

 

Today is John Sidney McCain III’s birthday. The war hero, longtime senator, and presidential candidate would have been eighty-two years old.

His body is lying in state in the Arizona state capitol today. A private service will be held at 10 a.m., then the public can pay their respects beginning at 2 p.m. local time.

Tomorrow, a memorial service will be held at North Phoenix Baptist Church, his home congregation. The event will be livestreamed on McCain’s website.

Friday, McCain’s body will lie in state inside the US Capitol Rotunda. Only thirty other people in US history have been so honored. His Senate colleagues and staff will honor him in an 11:00 a.m. ceremony, then members of the public will pay their respects from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.

On Saturday, a televised funeral service will begin at 10 a.m. in the Washington National Cathedral. At McCain’s request, former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama will deliver eulogies. On Sunday, McCain’s family will hold a private service at the US Naval Academy before laying his body to rest at the academy’s cemetery.

What explains John McCain’s abiding popularity across our land?

One: He put principles before politics

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called McCain “a great American patriot, a statesman who put his country first and enriched this institution through many years of service.” Such praise from a leader of his own political party is unsurprising.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Three facts explain John McCain’s popularity